#1531: Mr. Meeseeks

MR. MEESEEKS

POP! ANIMATION (FUNKO)

I’m Mr. Meeseeks!  Look at meeeeee!”

-Mr. Meeseeks

Oooooooo.  It’s that time of the year.  Time for the holiday gift reviews!  Caaaaan doooooo!  As with prior years, I’ll be kicking things off with my one non-Christmas gift of the season, as sort of a prologue to the main items.

My introduction to Rick and Morty was really just in the last year, and it wasn’t actually something from the show at all, but rather a gag animation done by the same crew featuring Rick and Morty reciting, verbatim, the record of an actual court case, which was somehow weirder than the actual show.  It piqued my interest enough to give the show as a whole a try, and I’ve enjoyed what I’ve seen.  In particular, I liked “Meeseeks and Destroy”, the episode that introduced the Meeseeks, a goofy disposable workforce.  Today, I’ll be following the advise of Mr. Meeseeks’ catchphrase, and taking a look at him!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Mr. Meeseeks is #174 in Funko’s Pop! Animation line, falling into their first assortment of Rick and Morty Pops.  The figure stands about 4 inches tall and has a basic swivel joint at his neck as his only articulation.  This Meeseeks appears to be based on Jerry’s first Meeseeks from the episode.  Since it’s the one we spend the most time with, that’s pretty sensible.  This guy merges the typical Pop aesthetic with the simplistic animation style of the show, though he leans a little bit more towards the show side of things.  Really, the only thing that denotes this as a Pop is the larger, squarer shaping of the head.  Everything else is pretty standard for Meeseeks.  He’s got the round, blank eyes, but that’s really not a change for Meeseeks.  He even ends up getting a mouth.  Technically, Pops are supposed to omit that detail, but it’s probably one of the most overlooked rules, and I believe all of the Rick and Morty figures got mouths, so Meeseeks is far from the only figure in this category.  His pose is appropriate for Meeseeks, and certainly breaks from some of the more generic Pop poses, so I can definitely get behind it.  Paint on Meeseeks is fairly sparse, with him mostly being molded in the appropriate shade of blue.  There’s a little bit of paint for his face and hair, and that’s all fairly decent.  Nothing amazing, but certainly passable work.  Meeseeks actually does include an accessory, which is outside the norm for a Pop.  He gets a display stand to help keep him upright.  I didn’t have too much trouble keeping him standing on his own, but I appreciate the option of the stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Mr. Meeseeks was given to me as an anniversary gift by Super Awesome Girlfriend.  She’s not really a fan of Rick and Morty herself, but she knows I like the Meeseeks, and she’s also a pretty huge fan of the “I’m Mr. Meeseeks” music video (which I definitely recommend giving a watch; it’s quite amusing), so she got me this guy.  Pops aren’t always my thing, but this is definitely a case where the source material really fits the style well, resulting in a pretty solid final product.

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#1530: Avalanche

AVALANCHE

X-FORCE (TOY BIZ)

“A mutant with the ability to control earth and rock, Avalanche’s powers earned him a place in the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants! Now operating largely on his own, or in the company of his allies, the Blob and Pyro, Avalanche strikes not so much out of hatred for normal humans, but from a desire to make a profit!”

Back in the ‘90s, the X-Men were super hot, and by, extension, the various X-Men spin-offs were super hot.  X-Force, the spawn of everyone’s favorite artist Rob Liefeld, was inexplicably successful, but only the actual team seemed to get real notoriety.  The villains were mostly forgettable, however, so for the toyline Toy Biz borrowed a few classic X-Men baddies, including today’s focus character, Avalanche!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Avalanche was released in Series 5 of Toy Biz’s X-Force toyline.  He was the second of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants figures featured in this particular line, following Pyro.  Seeing how the two of them were a semi-recurrent pair on X-Men: The Animated Series, it was a pretty sensible inclusion, I suppose.  The figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  He got extra disk joints on his hips, which I guess was kind of nice.  It does seem a little bit odd that Avalanche of all people got extra special articulation, but I’m not gonna fight it.  HIs sculpt was all new to this particular figure, and it was fairly decent for the era.  The proportions are a little exaggerated, obviously, but given that he was in the X-Force line, it’s actually fairly balanced.  There articulation could perhaps be worked in a bit better, but it’s not awful.  The details of the costume are pretty clean, and I do like the intensity of the expression on what we can see of his face.  It’s a bit of a shame that his helmet is permanently affixed, since he had it off rather frequently on the cartoon, but it looks good, and that’s ultimately the most important thing.  Avalanche’s paintwork is fairly standard, mostly silver and blue.  It looks decent enough, though it’s perhaps not the most thrilling color scheme.  Avalanche was originally packed with an “Exploding Rock Platform” which demonstrated his powers via action feature.  My figure was purchased loose, however, so he doesn’t include this piece.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Avalanche is a rather recent addition to my ‘90s Marvel collection, picked up over the summer from Yesterday’s Fun.  They had a number of old X-Men figures, and this was one I kept meaning to grab, but never got around to.  He’s a pretty decent figure of a character I admittedly don’t have a ton of attachment to.  Nevertheless, I’m happy to have him, and he brings me one step closer to completing this collection.

The Blaster In Question #0039: BarrelStrike

BlasterInQuestion1

BARRELSTRIKE

MODULUS

The great thing about the Modulus series, since its inception (BWAAAAHHHH) has been the increased variety of accessory pieces and attachments with which you can equip your blaster. Oftentimes these attachments come with and serve to compliment a larger blaster, but what about attachments that ARE the blaster? That, dear reader, is how we got the Modulus BarrelStrike. How exactly does that work? To find out, we have to go deeper (BWAAAAAHHHH).

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The BarrelStrike was released in 2017 as part of a wave of standalone Modulus accessory products, meaning they weren’t packaged in with a bigger blaster but could be purchased in a more a la carte manner. As a blaster in its own right, the BarrelStrike is a 4-shot muzzle loaded blaster with the standard style of Jolt-esque prime and a staged smart AR setup, like the Triad but with an additional barrel. The outer shell of the blaster is all original and features a hinged stock with a barrel tube running through it. Pressing a button on the right side of the blaster releases the stock which can then be folded up over the top of the blaster, revealing the barrel attachment ring that gives the BarrelStrike its titular feature. When folded up, the stock of the blaster can act like a standard Nerf barrel attachment for any other blaster with the corresponding lug. In this way, the BarrelStrike can act like an under-barrel alternate fire weapon, providing 4 additional shots to whatever you chose to mount it to, and in a way that is far more secure than simply using a rail attachment. The BarrelStrike does have a single attachment rail on the top of the blaster but this is only usable when the stock is deployed. Personally, I prefer to leave the BarrelStrike on its own with the stock down as I don’t think the boxy shape of the stock fits particularly well with the aesthetics of any current blaster, but the functionality of it is hard to deny. I suppose you could argue that it should use a different ammo type like the MEGA darts or even the Demolisher missiles, and you mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling (BWAAAAAAHHHHH), but as far as back-up blasters, you can do a lot worse. Being so compact, the construction is solid. The grip is a good size, granted it has to accommodate an air cylinder and plunger. The stock, when deployed, is a bit short, but I’m not mad at it. It’s a small blaster with a small stock, what do you want? It still locks into place pretty securely and doesn’t flex or bend when you put pressure on it, so I’d say it’s still functional. As a barrel attachment, the distance from the bore to the grip means that its fairly easy to accidentally twist the whole thing off the attachment lug of another blaster if you’re not paying attention, but as I stated before, I don’t tend to bother with this configuration so it’s less of a problem for me. The BarrelStrike has a considerable prime length which contributes to its actually pretty respectable performance. Shots fly far and hit hard, just so long as you don’t leave darts in the barrels for more than a day or so as they can get crimped and lose pressure when fired. Also, with such a lengthy priming stroke, if you don’t fully prime the blaster and release the plunger, it has a tendency to spit out one or two darts with a pitiful amount of force. Just make sure you know how to run the blaster reliably before busting into any younger sibling’s rooms otherwise you may end up getting a defiant chuckle instead of the shrieks of terror you’re going for. The BarrelStrike comes packaged with 4 white Modulus Elite darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When it was announced, I was less excited about the BarrelStrike’s ability to attach to another blaster than I was to have a blaster with a folding stock akin to that of the vz.61 Skorpion machine pistol, especially given the relative size of the blaster, it just seemed so fitting. Yes, the stock could stand to be a little longer but it definitely serves its purpose, and I can’t speak for anyone else, but snapping it into place before busting into one of my siblings’ rooms makes me feel like a SWAT trooper.

P.S. The Inception jokes have nothing to do with the blaster, if you were curious. I’ve just had Inception on my mind, that’s all.

#1529: Rey – Island Journey

REY – ISLAND JOURNEY

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (HASBRO)

There she is!  I found her!  I found Rey! 

Ah, remember the good old days when not being able to find a toy of the main character was the most polarizing issue surrounding the new Star Wars movie?  Back when the birds still sung and the sun still shined and Disney hadn’t “killed teh franchise”?  I miss those days.  On that oh so positive note, let’s look at this here Rey action figure.  That won’t piss anyone off, right?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Rey (Island Journey) is the fourth of the six figures in the second Orange assortment of Hasbro’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi line.  Also included in the set were R2-D2 and Jyn Erso, but they were similar enough to prior releases that I opted not to grab them, meaning Rey’s the last figure I’ll be looking at from the set.  Rey has two distinct looks over the course of The Last Jedi.  Today’s figure uses the Resistance look that carried forward from the end of The Force Awakens.  The figure stands about 3 1/2 inches tall and has 7 points of articulation (she gets some sweet mid-arm motion, which proves very useful).  Given the fact that this figure is replicating a look that is mostly identical to the one seen on the Resistance Rey figure, I was admittedly expecting for there to be at least some parts re-use between the two figures.  That being the case, I was a bit surprised to find that this figure was an all-new sculpt.  It is, in many ways, quite similar to the old one, but everything’s a little bit different.  There’s the added articulation, of course, as well as an improved likeness on the head, and a holster that is now a separate add-on piece, rather than a sculpted part of the leg.  Rey features two removable add-on pieces for her vest and her poncho.  She’s wearing both when you take her out of the package, and that’s admittedly not the best look for the figure.  To quote Tim “she looks like she’s wearing football pads.”  It’s mostly due to all that thick plastic taking up way more space than actual clothes.  I found that if you remove the vest when putting on the poncho it looks a lot better (that’s how I configured it for the shot at the top).  Her paint work is fairly decently done overall.  The application’s mostly pretty clean.  There’s a small touch of slop on her chin, but that’s about it.  The coloring of the vest and such has been tweaked from the last figure, making it more grey than tan, in order to reflect how the costume was lit in the film.  Rey is packed with her blaster and the Skywalker lightsaber.  She does *not* come with her staff, which was a little surprising, since she uses it quite a bit in this get-up.  It’s also a little weird, because the last Resistance Rey didn’t have her standard staff either.  Don’t know why that is.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Rey, like Luke, is another impulse buy.  I was content with Resistance Rey and didn’t really like how bulky the poncho was.  But then I saw her in person, and she looked a bit better, and there was a sale, and I’d just seen the movie, and I caved.  I know.  Bad Ethan.  That said, I’m sort of glad I did.  She’s an improvement on the last version in just about every facet.  And, after realizing how much better she looks without the vest under the poncho, I can now create one what is probably my favorite Rey look.  This is the sort of figure I can see a lot pf people skipping, but she was certainly a pleasant surprise to me!

#1528: DJ – Canto Bight

DJ – CANTO BIGHT

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (HASBRO)

Star Wars: The Last Jedi saw the return of a lot of old favorites, but, like it’s predecessor, The Force Awakens, it saw a handful of new character introductions as well.  The biggest standout by far was definitely Kelly Tran’s Rose Tico, but I also quite enjoyed Benicio Del Toro’s turn as the roguish hacker commonly referred to as “DJ” (which isn’t actually a name; it’s merely a shortening of his credo “Don’t Join”).  But then, again, I generally enjoy in Benico Del Toro in just about any role.  Except maybe Sicario… Getting side-tracked.  Here’s this figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

DJ is part of the second Orange assortment of Hasbro’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi line.  He’s the only unique character this time around, but I feel like we’ll at least be seeing a Holdo at some point down the line.  The figure stands 4 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation.  I was a little bummed that his hands don’t move at the wrists, especially since they’re already separate pieces, and Luke got those joints.  I like consistency.  DJ is sporting an all-new sculpt, which is a pretty solid piece of work.  The likeness on the head is perhaps not a spot-on likeness of Del Toro, but it’s close enough that you can tell who it’s supposed to be.  I think it’s the nose that throws it off; it’s a bit too up-turned, like one of the Whos from the live-action Grinch movie.  The body sculpt has nicely balance proportions, and there’s some really amazing texturing on his jacket.  If I had one complaint, it’d be the collar.  In the movie, DJ tended to have it somewhat popped and disheveled, but here it’s flat against the rest of the jacket.  He does have it like that occasionally in the film, but it’s not what I’d pick as my ideal look for him.  The paint on DJ is decent enough.  The colors are rather dull, but that’s accurate, and the application’s all pretty clean where it needs to be.  For the first time…well, pretty much ever, actually, Hasbro’s done a halfway decent job of giving DJ that appropriately scruffy facial hair.  It certainly looks better than any of their attempts at Poe’s, that’s for sure.  DJ is packed with a blaster pistol, which is rather involved and probably one of my favorite blasters from this line.  He’s also Force Link compatible.  The line’s I got were “I can get you out of here if the price is right,” “I’m a thief by trade,” and “Let’s get this over with,” all in a voice that is undoubtedly not Benicio Del Toro at all.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

While Luke was an impulse buy, DJ was one I was definitely planning to grab, though he was most certainly helped by the fact that I found him the day after seeing the movie.  There are some slight issues with the likeness, but beyond that he’s a pretty fantastic figure of an intriguing character.  Also, I think this might actually be the first Benico Del Toro figure, so that’s pretty cool, right?

#1527: Luke Skywalker – Jedi Exile

LUKE SKYWALKER – JEDI EXILE

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (HASBRO)

Two years with no new trilogy Luke Skywalker figures, and now, in the span of three months, we’ve got two of them!  We’re moving on up, homebiscuits!  Oh yeah!

*ahem* Aaaaanyway, The Last Jedi presented a very different look at our esteemed hero Luke Skywalker, and his two distinct looks from the film sort of play into that.  The first look, seen at the end of The Force Awakens, presents a Luke we’re all a bit more comfortable with.  He’s sort of a merging of the classic Luke and old Ben from A New Hope.  Older and wiser than when we last left him, but certainly continuing down the path he was set on at the end of Return of the Jedi.  The Last Jedi opens and (almost literally) throws that aside.  The wise teacher Luke we were presented with in TFA is mostly ceremonial, and he quickly changes his garb into something removed from his Jedi teaching, and more in line with the isolated, bitter, and morally compromised hermit he actually is.  It’s utilitarian and practical, and perhaps not as distinct, but in it’s own way, it’s still true to the character.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Luke Skywalker (Jedi Exile) is, like his sister, part of the second Orange assortment of Hasbro’s The Last Jedi line of figures.  This figure stands about 3 3/4 inches tall (he’s a smidge shorter than the last Luke, which is a little odd, but it’s not a terribly noticeable difference) and he has 7 points of articulation.  Yep, this is another figure that’s sporting the wrist movement.  Those joints are showing up with enough frequency at this point that I’m a little bit surprised they aren’t just standard.  It’s certainly nice to have them, though.  Luke’s sculpt is all-new to this figure, and it’s decent enough, but not without its flaws.  The articulation, particularly at the hips, isn’t very well integrated.  I also don’t like the likeness so much on the new head sculpt; I think the last one is a better Hamill.  Sadly, the size of the two neck pegs is different, so you’ll have to pad the socket on the old head if you want to do any sort of swap.  On the plus side, the jacket’s pretty nice, and he has a nice selection pf textures to help keep him visually interesting.  Luke’s paintwork is decent enough.  Aside from a slight bit of slop on the beard, everything’s pretty clean.  Unfortunately, the color scheme just isn’t all that dynamic, so he’s not the most thrilling Luke figure.  This figure’s packed with a walking stick and a removable hood.  The stick is very thin and a bit warped by the packaging, however, it’s a decent enough recreation of Luke’s prop from the film.  The hood’s sort of bulky and goofy, but not terrible.  I do wish there was a pulled down piece to swap out for it, though.  Luke’s Force Link-compatible, and the lines I got out of him were “How did you find me?” “Reach out with your feelings,” “What do you know about the Force?” and “You shouldn’t be here,” along with an assortment of battle sounds.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Luke was a bit of an impulse buy.  I was definitely getting Leia, but Target was doing 20% off all Star Wars toys, and I figured I’d take advantage of the sale.  I like him better than I expected to, but I still don’t like him as much as the Jedi Master figure.  But, if this is the look you prefer, I’m sure you’ll be happy with the figure, and I’m glad there’s more than a single Luke available.

#1526: General Leia Organa

GENERAL LEIA ORGANA

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (HASBRO)

In The Force Awakens, Leia got a slightly lessened role compared to her prior films.  She was still prominent, but her screen time was most definitely reduced.  The Last Jedi amends that.  Due I’m sure in part to this fact, she had a much easier time getting a figure this time around.  After being totally absent from the TFA basic line, Leia’s actually made her way into the Last Jedi assortments pretty quickly, allowing me to review the figure you see before you.  Alrighty!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

General Leia Organa is part of the second Orange wave of figures from Hasbro’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi line.  Unlike the second Teal assortment, Orange assortment 2 has no re-packs, which I’m certain retailers will be thankful for.  Leia actually has two different looks in TLJ, though they’re similar enough that you’d be forgiven for not noticing it.  This is the more “regal” look she was sporting early on in the film, as opposed to the slightly more action oriented design from the film’s climax.  Personally, I slightly preferred the second look, but seeing as the only really noticeable difference between them is how much collar her outer layer has, I’m not terribly worried about it.  It’s nowhere near as bad as the baffling costume choice from the last movie’s first Leia figure, that’s for sure.  This figure stands about 3 1/2 inches tall and has the standard 5 points of articulation.  Leia’s sculpt is an all-new one, and it’s easily one of the best from the whole Last Jedi line.  The likeness on the head is quite a good match for Carrie, and is certainly an improvement on the TFA figure from a few years back.  It probably helps that she’s got a far less goofy hair-do, thus making her more aesthetically pleasing, to me at least.  The rest of the sculpt is pretty decent work.  The base body is a little bit on the skinny side, but that’s mostly so she’ll look okay while wearing the outer jacket.  Since I can’t really imagine displaying her without the extra overlay, I don’t have a problem with that at all.  I especially like the texture work on her dress and jacket, which makes her stand out quite nicely.  Leia’s paint is generally pretty straightforward, but solid work nevertheless.  Apart from a small bit of missing paint on the underside of her hair, my figure’s paint is very clean, especially on the face, which is one of the cleanest examples of work I’ve seen on a Star Wars figure.  Leia is packed with her distinctive blaster pistol, which she holds very well.  Like the others in this line, she’s also Force Link compatible.  The lines I got were: “All troops open fire,” “I will do everything I can to help,” “May the Force be with you,” “Send them in,” and “Together we can defeat the First Order,” as well as some blaster sounds.  It wasn’t Carrie, but it was closer than some of the soundalikes.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Leia was shown off just after Force Friday II and I knew immediately I wanted one.  I’ve been keeping my eye out for this assortment for the last month or so, and, as luck would have it, ended up coming across her (and the rest of the series), the day after seeing Last Jedi in the theatre.  That was definitely a huge plus!  Leia’s a pretty fantastic offering, and definitely one of my favorites from the modern offerings.  Definitely a highlight of the line!

#1525: White Christmas

BETTY HAYNES, PHIL DAVIS, & BOB WALLACE

IRVING BERLIN’S WHITE CHRISTMAS (EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE)

“IIIII’m dreeeaaming of a Whiiiite Christmas….”

Heyo, it’s another Christmas morning, and another day of me being a little bit festive here on the site!  My family and I have a whole ton of various holiday films and specials we have like to watch during the season.  The exact order is mostly free form, but the whole thing is always kicked off by the same film, which we always watch during out assembly of our main tree.  That film is the focus of today’s review: White Christmas.  It’s one of my very favorite holiday films (and really one of my favorite films in general), though it’s not necessarily the most toy-etic film in existence.  Despite that, it still managed to get a set of figures courtesy of Exclusive Premiere, who built a whole company on releasing toys based on non-toy-etic properties.  Perhaps surprising no-one, they didn’t go very far with that business plan.  But hey, at least we got these guys, right?

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Betty, Phil, and Bob were all released in 1998 by Exclusive Premiere.  It’s sort of an odd line-up.  I mean, yeah, Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye, and Bing Crosby were all in starring roles, but there’s kind of a major character missing here: Judy Haynes, Betty’s sister, played by Vera-Ellen.  Admittedly, she’s the least known of the four leads, but she’s still a major part of the story, and it’s a little weird she was left out…but like I said, it’s kind of a miracle they got made at all, so, I guess that’s the thing to focus on.

Betty’s the most unique of the three.  She’s built on EP’s standard female body, standing about 8 3/4 inches tall with 11 points of articulation.  The body was alright, I guess.  It doesn’t have elbow movement, which is kind of frustrating, but there’s been worse base bodies.  She’s got a unique head sculpt, which is probably the best of the three here.  It’s got a passable resemblance to Rosemary Clooney.  I’d hardly call it spot-on, but given the quality of the other likenesses put out by EP, it’s borderline amazing how well this one turned out.  The tailoring on her dress is decent enough even the price point, and compared to the others.  It doesn’t look terrible by any stretch of the imagination, and it hits all of the major design points of her on-screen dress.  There are some smaller details that are missing, but the important stuff is all there.

Phil and Bob are both essentially the same figure, separated only by a head sculpt.  It’s not the worst thing ever, I suppose, since it’s not like Kaye and Crosby were horribly different in build.  That being said, the standard base body they’re both using is a little on the buff side for either of these two guys.  They both stand 9 inches tall and have 13 points of articulation.  At least their elbows can move.  The bodies are kind of similar to the Playmates 9-inch Trek figures, which isn’t awful, but these are definitely of a slightly lower quality.  The heads are decent, I suppose.  I think Phil’s the stronger of the two.  It looks kind of like Kaye, but not a ton.  I guess you can figure him out in context, though.  Bob’s…well, Bob looks a bit like a cartoon character.  Like, I guess it’s Bing Crosby, but it’s more like the Genie as Bing Crosby caricature from Aladdin and the King of Thieves, and less like real Bing.  There’s noooooo doubt about it.  But, like Phil, you can kind of piece him together in context.  Neither head is particularly helped by the hat that’s permanently glued to it, but I guess they won’t bet lost that way.  From the neck down, they’re both wearing the same Santa suit.  It’s not great.  It’s really baggy, and lumpy, and sloppy, and not particularly accurate to the suits seen in the movie.  This is probably due to this same exact suit being used on EC’s Miracle on 34th Street Santa Claus, where it was still inaccurate, of course, so I guess they just spilt the difference between the two looks.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like the previously reviewed Charlie Brown, these guys aren’t technically mine, but are instead more of a joint family possession that gets pulled out and put on the shelf every holiday season.  They’re goofy as all get out, and even 20 years later, I’m still a little bitter that Judy got left out, but the novelty of just having White Christmas figures forgives a lot of sins.

#1524: Flash

FLASH

G.I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO (HASBRO)

“Flash is highly skilled in many aspects of electronic technology and is capable of equipment repair in the field. Specialized Education: Electronics School; Chemical School; Covert Electronics. Qualified Expert: M-16; M-1911A1; XMLR-1A (Shoulder-Fired Laser Rifle).”

In 1982, Hasbro was looking to revitalize their G.I. Joe brand.  Two different iterations of the 12-inch line had come and gone, and the market just wasn’t there for the style.  What the market totally *was* there for, however, was 3 3/4 inch figures, which had been super-popularized, courtesy of a little movie called Star Wars.  So, Hasbro partnered with writer Larry Hama and created a brand new iteration of G.I. Joe, dubbed A Real American Hero.  Now the Joes weren’t just your average soldiers, but were instead a group of specialized operatives, each with their own style and code name.  The line began with 13 figures, built from a common pool of parts.  Today, I’ll be looking at one of those 13, the Laser Rifle specialist, code-named “Flash”*

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Flash was released in the original 1982 assortment of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. Unlike many of his compatriots, this wound up being his only figure for 23 years (well, apart from his 1983 re-issue, which I’ll touch on in a second).  Flash stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 12 points of articulation.  That articulation count’s a little lower than usual for a vintage Joe.  Why’s that?  The first year of Joes didn’t sport the swivel arms that became a standard for the line in ’83.  These original releases are known as “Straight-Arm” figures, and are an interesting quirk of the earliest offerings in the line.  All of the straight-arm figures would see swivel-arm re-releases in ’83 to help bring them up to date, so there’s two versions of our boy Flash out there.  The lack of swivels does impact posablility, of course, but I didn’t find it to be quite as restricting as I’d expected; I guess I’m just used to my Micronauts.  Another change in motion is the neck joint.  Later figures got actual ball-jointed necks, but the earlier guys just had swivels.  Not a huge difference, but certainly a noticeable one.  In terms of construction, Flash doesn’t actually have much that’s unique to him.  His head was shared with Hawk, Shortfuse, and Steeler.  It’s a reasonable enough piece, and generic enough that changing the hair color is really all that’s needed to make him look different.  I certainly prefer it to his 25th Anniversary sculpt.  The lower legs were shared with Snake Eyes (they’re just generic boots, so it works fine), and the rest of his sculpt is shared with Grand-Slam.  As Grand-Slam was his fellow laser trooper, it’s a pretty sensible re-use, since they’re presumably both in uniform.  The sculpting on this guy is indicative of the time.  The details are a little soft by modern standards, and proportions are less traditionally heroic.  But, if you know what you’re getting into, it’s all about standard for the vintage line.  In terms of paint, Flash is mostly basic work, but it’s all pretty clean, and surprisingly bold for the line.  A lot of the early figures had very washed out palettes, but Flash gets some bright red to keep things a bit more interesting.  Flash was packed with a removable helmet (with flip-up visor), a back-pack, and his laser rifle, which my figure happily still has all of.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Flash has been on my list for a little while.  He was ranked as #16 on ToyFare magazine’s “Top 20 G.I. Joe Toys,” which is what really got him on my radar.  Since then, I’ve been on the look out for him, albeit at a reasonable price.  I ended up getting him very recently, courtesy of Lost In Time Toys, during one of their December sales.  He was in a case of items marked 50% off, meaning I got him for about $10, which is great for a vintage Joe.  Unfortunately, when I opened him, I discovered the o-ring holding him together had dry-rotted.  As luck would have it, Hasbro used standard parts for these guys, so all I needed to do was run over to Home Depot and pick up a box of #9 plumber’s o-rings, which ran me about $2 and took me less than 20 minutes to swap out with the old one.  It was actually pretty awesome to get to rehabilitate this guy, and now he’s ship-shape, and hands down one of my favorite Joes in my collection.

*DC was a bit less productive of their trademarks at this point, I suppose.  Future figures of this character would all add a rank of Sergeant to his name to denote him from the scarlet speedster.

The Blaster In Question #0038: First Order Stormtrooper Blaster

BlasterInQuestion1FIRST ORDER STROMTROOPER BLASTER

STAR WARS

stormpistol1One little word sure can make a big difference, especially when that word is “deluxe.”  Yes, this is in fact a different blaster review from last week, it’s not a typo.  So what does the First Order have to offer when “deluxe” is off the table?  Well… not very much, as it happens, but let’s have a look at it anyway.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

stormpistol2The First Order Stormtrooper Blaster was released in 2015, alongside the deluxe version as a promotion for The Force Awakens.  If you’re not sure what part of the movie it’s from, you can be forgiven for missing it because it doesn’t get a lot of screen-time, but it’s there, I promise.  Now, having just recently The Last Jedi, I can tell you it gets a couple scenes where characters using it are front and center on the screen, so that’s nice.  The blaster itself is almost as basic as you can get.  It is a single shot, muzzle loaded pistol with a little spring loaded priming tab in the back.  While the tab does a good job of maintaining the blaster’s aesthetics even when primed, it does mean the actual size of the plunger tube is severely limited.  You can really get a sense of this by how short and light the priming stroke is.  The outer shell is completely new to resemble the blaster from the film and looks pretty accurate… until you actually hold it.  In the film, the SE-44C blaster, which this is designed after, is built on a Glock 17 pistol.  If you’ve been keeping up with my Star Wars Nerf reviews, you’ll know that in general the Nerf blasters have pretty good ergonomics as they’re modeled after props that used real world firearms.  In the case of the FOSB, the shape is right, but the scale is waaaaayyy off.  It feels tiny in the hand.  As such, the normally quite comfortable grip of the Glock has been shrunk down so it no longer lines up with regular human sized hands.   I understand the reasoning behind it, because otherwise there would be just an unnecessarily large body housing a small internal mechanism.  Sure, they could have scaled up the plunger tube to get more air into the system but that… actually, that’s a good idea.  Why didn’t they just do that?  I guess it’s probably safe to assume that it all comes down to cost cutting measures, as is so often the case.  But hey, at least it comes with a cool attachment piece, right?  I mean, it does come with an attachment piece which clips onto the standard Nerf rail on the top of the blaster, but what even is the piece supposed to be?  As far as I can tell it’s a sight(ish) but it sits in the dead center of the blaster and has no other sight to line up to, so it’s kinda useless.  It’s actually really useless, but its on the blaster in the film, so there it is.  The FOSB’s performance is about what you’d expect for a Stormtrooper’s backup blaster.  Distance and power are lacking pretty heavily from that of a regular N-Strike Elite blaster, but you can usually hit your target if the muzzle is just about 5 or 6 inches away from it, so… yay?  Stormtroopers are meant to be imposing and scary, but a couple shot from this blaster and I doubt you’ll be able to maintain that kind of fear-based dominance over your younger siblings when you bust into their room.  The First Order Stormtrooper Blaster comes packaged with the useless sight/spike thingy and 3 of the red Star Wars branded Elite darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got the FOSB at the same time I bought its deluxe bigger brother.  I think having the deluxe blaster there distracted me from how lackluster the pistol was.  I’m not saying I regret buying it or owning it, but for the price, we essentially got a Star Wars logo that came with a free Nerf blaster.