#1562: Nakia

NAKIA

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“A member of the Dora Milage, Nakia protects the reigning Black Panther with strength and poise.”

I will admit, my knowledge of Black Panther’s supporting cast, especially in recent years, is not the most extensive.  So, for most of the movie-based product, I’m just sort of going along with the flow.  Today’s focus, Nakia, is one of those characters I don’t know so well (apart from knowing she became a villain in the comics, a turn that she will supposedly not be making in the film).  But, hey, the MCU hasn’t really failed me yet, right?  Plus, she’s played by Lupita Nyong’o, who already impressed me with her turn as Maz Kanata in the last two Star Wars movies, so I have high hopes.  Onto the figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Nakia is the second film-based figure in the Okoye Series of Marvel Legends.  It’s actually somewhat surprising to see her turn up here, since Hasbro has a tendency to leave out supporting heroes from the solo-movie tie-ins.  Sure, the Ragnarok assortment had Loki, but he’s, you know, Loki.  But, in what appears to be the running theme for this series, I don’t really mind what the logic was if it got me this figure.  Nakia stands a little over 6 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation.  While the actual articulation count isn’t really any higher than the average Legend (in fact, it’s a little lower), the range of motion on Nakia’s joints is truly an impressive feat of engineering.  Hasbro’s designed a figure that can get into all manner of deep poses, and the best part is it doesn’t really impact the quality of the sculpt at all.  Speaking of that sculpt, it’s worth noting that Nakia’s sculpt is totally unique to her.  It’s also pretty awesome as well.  There’s a ton of texture work all throughout, and a great set of realistic proportions.  The head also has a pretty spot-on likeness of Nyong’o, which certainly outpaces the T’Challa head from the Black Panther figure.  Nakia’s paint work is pretty solid.  I particularly like the brightness of the colors, especially on her tunic.  Nakia is also sporting the printed face we’ve seen a few times before, but I think it looks better here than it has on the last few figures I’ve seen it on.  Th figure is packed with a pair of weapons which are…big hoop things?  I don’t know what they are, but they certainly look cool.  She’s also got a small bladed weapon, as well as the torso of Okoye.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Nakia was grabbed for me by Super Awesome Girlfriend.  Nakia was one of the two figures that her Gamestop got in from this series, and she thought I might want her.  Like I said in the intro, I don’t know the character all that well, but I definitely like this figure.  I’m happy I got one, and I’m excited to see the character in action.

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#1561: Sub-Mariner

SUB-MARINER

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“With incredible strength and swimming speed, Sub-Mariner is a powerful force on land and sea.”

Patience is a virtue.  There’s a phrase that holds a lot of weight in the toy collecting world.  Be it waiting for an announcement of a certain character, waiting to see a prototype, waiting for the figure to make it to retail, or even waiting to find that figure.  Sometimes, it’s the waiting for a specific version of a character that gets you, though.  Take for instance, the Sub-Mariner,  Marvel’s oldest super hero, who has spent the vast majority of his almost 80 year career in a green speedo.  And yet, in 15 years of Marvel Legends, we haven’t gotten a proper speedo-ed Namor.*  Kind of crazy, right?  Well, that’s finally changed.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Sub-Mariner is part of the recent Okoye Series of Marvel Legends, as one of three comics-inspired figures in the assortment.  As with Black Bolt, the presence of Namor in what’s ostensibly a Black Panther assortment is a little baffling, but I’m hardly going to argue with any logic that finally gets me a classic Namor.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  Like his Walgreens-exclusive predecessor, this Namor is built on the Reaper body, and makes use of the shared Namor/Wonder Man wrist bracers.  He also uses the shins from the last Namor, allowing him to keep his signature ankle wings.  On top of all that, the figure gets a new head, torso, pelvis, and feet.  I had honestly expected the figure to just use the same head as WG Namor.  While that head has a few issues, I thought it was pretty serviceable, certainly enough for Hasbro to keep using it.  Hasbro thought otherwise, and instead gave us an all-new sculpt that rivals the old TB Namor in terms of perfectness for the character.  This is Namor, no doubt about it.  The hair’s got that perfect square shape, his eyebrows are arched just the right way, and he’s got just the right amount of pomposity.  I expected the torso to be at least slightly tweaked, so that Namor wouldn’t go totally nipple-less, but I was happy to see Hasbro went for a total re-sculpt, so as to keep him consistent with the slightly slimmer build of the WG Namor.  The pelvis is another case of a surprise new piece.  Given the scales on the last figure (and the recent Vintage Captain America) release, I was entirely expecting for those to be painted on.  It’s awesome that they weren’t, and adds a lot to this figure, keeping his sculpt from being as devoid of detail as it could have been.  Lastly, there are the feet.  They’re pretty straightforward, but well sculpted nonetheless.  The paint on Sub-Mariner isn’t super complex, but it’s all pretty great.  The details are all nice and clean, and the metallic accenting on the speedo certainly pops.  They’ve changed the skin tone since the last figure, which is a bit of a bummer if you wanted to swap heads, but it’s not terribly different.  This is also more consistent with Namor’s usual palette.  The figure is packed with an extra bearded head, which more closely resembles the prior Namor, to the point of almost looking like a different person.  He’s also go the same two pairs of hands, as well as his trident.  I was happy that he got a proper trident this time; Odin’s spear just didn’t cut it last time.  This one’s awesome.  Lastly, Namor is packed with both of Okoye’s arms. 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After the surprise of finding Black Bolt at Walgreens, I was pretty much immediately on the lookout for this guy.  I was not alone in this endeavor, evidently, and Namor was the notable exception pretty much every time I saw the assortment in stores.  I found Namor almost by accident, really.  He was at a Target I check on a fairly regular basis; I’d stopped in to look for him with no luck, so I bought some Black Series figures I’d been looking for instead.  I ended up needing to stop by for something else the next day, and just walked down the toy aisle, not really expecting to find anything, and there he was.  Yay.  I really like this figure.  A lot.  He’s the Namor I’ve been waiting for pretty much since Marvel Legends started.  Now I have him, and I’m content with my Namor sub-set of my collection.

*Yes, I know Hasbro put out a speedo-clad Namor in 2007’s Ronan the Accuser Series, but cutting straight to the point, that figure sucked.  The less said, the better.

#1560: Black Panther

BLACK PANTHER

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“A warrior and defender of Wakanda, T’Challa is the hero of legend, Black Panther.”

That’s definitely a better bio than the last Panther Legends release I looked at.  Maybe a bit on the short side, but at least they mentioned the basics, and didn’t go unnecessarily vague, right?

So, the release of the Black Panther film is just a few weeks out now, and there’s pretty much no way to miss the onslaught of merchandise hitting all of your favorite retail establishments now.  I’ve already looked at one figure from the associated Marvel Legends assortment, but it wasn’t actually a Panther-related character.  Today, I’ve decided to go with a figure that’s about as related to Black Panther as you can be: Black Panther himself!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Black Panther is the first figure in the Okoye Series of Marvel Legends.  He’s one of the three movie-based figures in the set (four if you count the Okoye Build-A-Figure).  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and has 32 points of articulation.  Panther’s gotten an upgrade to his suit since his appearance in Civil War, so this figure gets an all-new sculpt to match the design.  He gains a set of butterfly joints on the shoulders, which adds a fair bit of mobility to the figure.  With that said, the joints themselves are rather tight, so not a ton of extra movement.  The rest of the articulation has also been tweaked from the CW figure, so this figure can get into some deeper stances and the like, which is certainly a bonus.  With that said, I can’t say I like this figure’s overall sculpt quite as much as the CW version.  I think it’s partly due to me not liking the new design quite as much as the first, but also due to the articulation being a little more obvious this time.  It’s still not a *bad* sculpt at all, just not quite as good as a figure that’s admittedly one of Hasbro’s very best sculpts in the line.  Like his predecessor, Black Panther’s paint work is somewhat on the basic side, being mostly just some silver accent work on an otherwise black figure.  It’s all pretty clean, and it’s accurate to the source material, so that’s a plus.  Panther is packed with an unmasked head, an extra set of hands in fists, and the head of Okoye (for the Build-A-figure; it’s not a creepy memento or anything.)  I liked the last unmasked head a lot, and, on its own, I think this one looks a little better (albeit a little on the pale side).  It’s got the printed face that Hasbro’s been slowly working in, and it looks pretty solid.  The real issue is that the head doesn’t sit particularly well on the body, so I don’t see myself using it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Though I’m reviewing him first, Panther is actually the last figure from this set I grabbed.  Admittedly, I was already pretty happy with the last figure, so this one wasn’t high on my list.  But, then I ended up with all but one of Okoye’s pieces, and I was out and about with the $20 Tim had just paid me back for a Nerf gun I’d grabbed for him, and I found this guy, so I just went for it.  From the perspective of replacing the figure I already loved, this guy doesn’t measure up so great.  If you don’t have the Civil War figure, I think this guy would fair a lot better.  He’s certainly a solid figure, and I can see him being a favorite for a lot of people.

#1559: Transforming Thing & Herald Silver Surfer

TRANSFORMING THING & HERALD SILVER SURFER

MARVEL MINIMATES

After quite a bit of time of having to start every Fantastic Four-based review with a woeful intro about how the team has fallen out of focus, it’s kind of nice to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  In case you aren’t up to date on the comics world, the Fantastic Four, or half of them anyway, are finally making their grand resurgence at Marvel, thanks to the recently launched revival of Marvel Two-In-One.  The book served as a showcase for FF member Ben Grimm in the ‘70s and ‘80s, pairing him off with other heroes from Marvel’s rather impressive stable of characters.  The re-launch once again focuses on Ben, but also brings in fellow FFer Johnny Storm, and is hopefully serving as a prelude to a full-fledged Fantastic Four relaunch.  Anyway, in honor of Ben’s return to comic-star-dom, how about looking at one of his figures?

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

This pair was released in the 15th Toys R Us-exclusive series of Marvel Minimates.  The set was pulling double duty, with Ben meant to go with Series 48 of the main line (which was an all FF-themed assortment), and the Surfer augmenting the TRU-exclusive “Heralds of Galactus” set.

TRANSFORMING THING

“Pilot Ben Grimm first turned into the Thing after being bathed in cosmic radiation, and his skin was transformed into orange rock. He has since reverted to human form several times, but rarely for very long.”

This was the Thing’s twelfth (and, to date, last) time as a Minimate.  This one’s based on his John Byrne designed Negative Zone costume.  Ben actually had a few different costume variants under Byrne, and I think Minimates have covered them all.  This is the one that sticks the closest to the classic design, just being the usual shorts.  The figure stands about 2 1/2 inches tall and has either 14 or 12 points of articulation, depending on which way you have him configured.  Just how to handled Ben’s bulky build on the Minimate frame has been the source of much experimenting on DST’s part.  This one is a lot like the recent Hulks and such, being a standard ‘mate body, with a rather extensive selection of add-on pieces.  He’s got a head piece, chest cap, upper arm and leg covers, a pelvis cap, and unique hands and feet.  The head piece goes all the way back to the very first Thing ‘mate from Series 5, and most of the other pieces come from the first really bulked up Thing from Series 37.  The only new pieces here are the hands.  The last two Thing hands hadn’t really fit well with the new bulked up pieces, so these newer parts looked much better.  The bulked up look for Thing has always seemed maybe a touch too large for me, but I don’t think it looks horrible, and there’s no denying that there’s some really great detail work going on.  In terms of paint, Ben’s rather on the simple side…at first glance.  The detailing on the face is really good, of course, and I particularly like that they went with a calm expression.  One can only have so many screaming Ben Grimms.  The shade of orange used is one of my favorites, but it’s bright enough that he looks a little weird without any other sort of detailing on the rocks.  Some sort of black outline would have been cool.  As it stands, he still looks fine, but his face stands out quite a bit.  Under all of the add-on pieces, there’s actually a fully detailed second figure!  Yes, with the help of a spare head/hair, pelvis, hands, and feet, you can transform Ben back into his old human self.  The detailing on this underlying figure is pretty great, and it’s awesome that we got this option.

HERALD SILVER SURFER

The Surfer hasn’t been quite so lucky with ‘mates as Ben, with this one only being his third (and, again, his last to date).  I suppose it’s hard to do too much new with a guy whose design has remained essentially identical for 50 years.  From a sculpting standpoint, there’s not much to say about this guy.  He’s just the standard body, as he should be.  Painted details are really where it’s at, and Diamond has done a pretty awesome job of conveying the Surfer’s cosmic shininess.  The first Surfer was more abstract, and the second perhaps a bit too heavy on the details.  This one went for a Goldilocks approach to detailing and gave us a Surfer whose detail paint was just right.  I also appreciate the slightly more intense expression on this guy, since the last two went more stoic.  The Surfer was packed with his signature surfboard, as well as two energy effects for his hands, a portal effect to plug onto the back of his board, and a flight stand.  It all adds up to easily the most exciting looking of the three Silver Surfer ‘mates.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got Series 48 before these guys showed up, and that was one of my favorite assortments of Marvel Minimates pretty much ever.  So, I knew I was tracking this set down to complete my team.  At the time, I wasn’t particularly keen about getting another variant of the Surfer, but he was sort of along for the ride.  When I finally tracked this set down, I ended up loving it just as much as the Series 48 guys, and both figures included are hands down my definitive versions of the characters.

The Blaster In Question #0043: Surgefire

BlasterInQuestion1

SURGEFIRE

N-STRIKE ELITE

surgefire1Sometimes, it is pretty clear when Hasbro, and more specifically Nerf, take criticisms to heart and fix problems with their products.  The Recon Mk.II comes to mind.  Other times, it seems more like they hear the criticism and offer a solution that isn’t exactly what people had in mind.  One of the most widespread gripes about Nerf lately is their tendency to only paint one side of a blaster, leaving the design lopsided.  I can’t help but feel they heard this and said “You don’t like how we paint our blasters?  Well how about we just don’t?”  Introducing the Surgefire.  Ok, there’s more to it than that, but I just had to get it out of the way.  On to the review!

THE BLASTER ITSELF

surgefire2The Surgefire was released in 2018 as part of the core N-Strike Elite series.  It operates on a pump-action revolver design that holds 15 darts in the cylinder.  It’s hardly the first time we’ve seen these mechanics used in a blaster.  I suppose if you wanted to make the leap, you could say it’s an update to the Furyfire from the old Dart Tag line, though most people go with calling it the Elite version of the MEGA Rotofury.  Both descriptions work.  The shell is all new work and features one Nerf attachment rail along with some pretty interesting body detailing.  The dark grey area just above the trigger assembly actually has the word “Elite” carved out of it revealing the blue plastic underneath through the letters.  The use of dark blue text sunken into a dark grey panel does make it probably a little more subtle than they might have intended, but I do like that it suggests more intricate builds and sculpts to come.  This also plays into the aforementioned lack of paint, save for the Nerf logo and the name “Surgefire” above the barrel.  All variation in color is achieved via layering and inlaying separate pieces of plastic.  It does lend itself to a higher quality feel to the blaster over something that might rely on paint or decals.  Overall, the style is surgefire3pulled off pretty well with just a couple drawbacks.  First and foremost is in the pistol grip.  Along the front seam where the two light grey halves meet, the screws are placed just far enough that the plastic can flex and produce a hard edge where it splits.  At the best, its abrasive over time or if you’re holding onto the blaster tightly, and at worst it can actually pinch my fingers.  It seems like adding another internal support wouldn’t have been too much trouble so it’s irksome to find it absent from the design.  Ultimately it’s a minor complaint, and my second complaint is even more so.  I’ll sum it up here: “By the goddess, that’s a lot of orange in one place.”  Yes, it might have been nice to see some other colors on the front end, but it is what it is, I guess.  Barring the issue with the grip, the blaster feels good in the hand.  It’s stout but solid, giving it a sort of combat shotgun kind of feel.  I do wish the cylinder could be loaded from the rear and that the ratchet on the cylinder could be indexed by hand a little easier, but ultimately it’s functional so I can’t really complain.  For all its petty aesthetic and operational quirks, the Surgefire actually makes up for most of it in performance.  Shots feel like they have more energy behind them than a lot of other recent blasters, flying far and hitting hard.  You should really think about whether or not your younger sibling has earned it before you bust into their room and open fire with the Surgefire.  Not as much as with, say, a Rival blaster, but more than just popping them in the head with a Jolt.  The Surgefire comes packaged with the cylinder which snaps into the blaster and 15 Elite darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

The Surgefire was another purchase from one of my regular toy runs with my boy, Ethan, specifically to Target in this instance.  Spurred on by my recent success with finding the Mediator and Kronos, I made a point of checking what was in stock more frequently in the following week or so.  I actually found just about all the new releases I was looking for but settled on my 2 top choices, or else I feel I would have been subject to a sudden rush of ire at my unchecked spending.  A surge of ire, if you will.  A surge ‘f ire.

#1558: Swoop Vehicle

SWOOP VEHICLE (w/ SWOOP TROOPER)

STAR WARS: SHADOWS OF THE EMPIRE (KENNER)

“The Empire’s broad reach has included thousands of planets in the galaxy. With such a vast territory to police, the Empire often pays bounty hunters huge sums for the capture or elimination of certain “wanted” individuals. The mercenaries favored by the Empire are expert trackers and assassins, dangerous individuals who are highly intelligent and extremely skilled in both weapons use and air combat. A preferred vehicle of many of these elite bounty hunters is the swoop, a brawny speeder craft most often associated with gangs and outlaws such as the Nova Demons and the Dark Star Hellions; its toughness and incredible speed make it a perfect mount for bounty hunters.”

For the most part, Shadows of the Empire’s focus was placed on our recognizable heroes and villains, filling in a few gaps in their personal stories.  Totally new concepts weren’t a huge piece of it.  Sure, there were the likes of Dash and his ship the Outrider, but they were really just quick concepts thrown together to replace a popular character who couldn’t actually be in the story.  There were a few more original concepts, but mostly off to the side, such as today’s focus, the Swoop speeder!

THE VEHICLE ITSELF

Following in the vein of Return of the Jedi’s Speeder Bikes, here’s the Swoop.  It’s sort of the chopper of the galaxy far, far away, I suppose.  Of the three vehicles offered in Shadows of the Empire packaging, this is certainly the smallest.  It’s about 6 inches long and stands 2 1/2 inches tall.  The cannon on the side swings up and down, but beyond that there’s no other moving pieces.  Not a shock on a vehicle of this nature, though, and its not like the design really allows for them.  It’s a decent enough design for a bike in the Star Wars ‘verse, matching up alright with what we’ve seen in the movies, while also not being a total retread.  The sculpt is fairly well rendered, albeit perhaps not as intricately as some of the actual movie designs.  It lacks some of the smaller details that sold that whole “used future” aspect of the franchise.  Still, it’s a visually intriguing design, and it fits well with the rest of what Kenner was doing at the time.  The paintwork on the bike is pretty solid stuff.  A lot of red and silver, but it looks good, and there’s some pretty cool accent work on the larger sections of the bike.  Smaller details are handled via decals instead of actual paint.  The decals are fine, but they are a bit less advanced than the sort of thing you’d see now, thereby making them rather obvious.  That said, the bike certainly looks better with them than without them.  The bike includes a missile for the cannon, which has a spring-loaded feature.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Included with the Swoop is its own dedicated pilot, simply dubbed the “Swoop Trooper.”  Very original name there.  The package proudly boasts that this figure is exclusive to this particular set, and, unlike a lot of Kenner/Hasbro’s “exclusive” pack-in figures, it actually stuck for this guy.  I’d guess that’s largely due to his obscurity…and reminder, this is a Star Wars figure I’m taking about here.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 7 points of articulation.  The bike pilots all got extra articulation at the knees, which I was always a fan of, though he does end up losing the waist joint.  This figure also has a different neck joint; instead of the usual swivel joint, he’s got a hinge sort of thing, which allows him to look up and down instead.  The same joint had previously been used on the Biker Scout from the main Power of the Force II line, and, while I don’t mind it, it certainly made a bit more sense on that figure than it does on this one.  The Swoop Trooper’s design was, of course, created wholesale for the Shadows of the Empire event.  It’s alright, but, like a lot of the Shadows designs, it doesn’t necessarily fit the classic Star Wars aesthetic, instead falling into more typical ‘90s comics design concepts.  It’s certainly not a bad design, but I can’t say it’s a favorite of mine.  Still, it’s a decent sculpt of a decent design.  I certainly appreciate the presence of some shared armor elements between this guy and some of the other troopers (namely the knee pads from the Biker Scout).  In terms of paint, the Trooper is a bit of a step up from the bike, since there’s a bit more going on.  I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the assortment of browns, as they aren’t a super thrilling combo.  That said, application is all pretty clean, and he looks respectable enough.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Swoop bike was a rather recent addition to my collection.  I missed a lot of the Shadows of the Empire stuff when it was new, so I’ve been piecing it together little by little.  I found this set at Lost in Time during their winter sale.  Since it was like $5, I figured it was worth it to finally grab it.  Not the most thrilling thing to come out of the franchise, but it’s another solid offering from Kenner’s ‘90s Star Wars output.

FiQ Friday Fab Five at 5 #0001: Top 5 Batman Figures

What’s this?  Another feature?  Again?  Okay, Ethan, this is getting a bit ridiculous, don’t you think?  Why yes, I do think that hypothetical reader.  I think that very much.  Today’s feature, however, is not entirely my fault.  Like the addition of Wilson-4 (which necessitated taking an extra photo for every review I do), this one came from a friend of mine, who suggested this as an addition to the site.  While I certainly wasn’t looking to pick up more work for myself, I certainly couldn’t deny it was an intriguing idea.  So, what’s the idea?  Top five lists, covering my personal favorites of a given sub-genre of figures.  To keep myself sane, I’ll be limiting these to just the last Friday of each month.  Without further ado, I present the inaugural FiQ Friday Fab Five at 5, where I’ll be taking a look at one of the most toyetic characters of all time, Batman!  Now, there’s way too many Batmen for just one list, so today’s list is going straight for the standard, basic Batmen.  We’ll cover those wacky variants at a later date!

#5:     Batman – Darwyn Cooke DC Designer Series (DC Collectibles)

Darwyn Cooke is quite possibly my favorite Batman illustrator ever (heck, that could probably be extended to “favorite DC illustrator ever”), so action figures based on his work kind of seem like a shoo-in.  Unfortunately, DC Direct’s attempt in the New Frontier line left something to be desire.  Their successors at DC Collectibles took another stab, though, and released an awesome figure.  The only draw back of this figure is his reduced posablity, but if you’re just in it for the cool look, this one’s hard to beat.

#4:     Batman – Batman ’66 (NECA)

NECA’s annual “loophole abuse” figures in conjunction with Warner Brothers have been a ton of fun, and few moreso than their Adam West Batman.  After being let-down by Mattel’s lukewarm offerings, this was exactly the pick-up I needed.  And, thanks to how close the old show stayed in design, this is a figure that can also work as an awesome standard Batman.  The only thing holding this figure back are some minor QC issues that plagued his wrist joints, and I suppose the fact that he’s not a “true” Batman.

#3:     Batman – Super Powers (Kenner)

Kenner set the standard for a large chunk of the DCU with Super Powers, and in a lot of cases have yet to really be beat.  In the case of Batman, I have to admit, he’s not quite as all-conquering and victorious as his other SP-brethren, but he’s still a very solid addition to the line, and a huge piece in Batman’s toy history.  You gotta remember your roots.

#2:     “Last Rites” Batman – DC Icons (DC Collectibles)

It’s sort of amusing, right?  Seeing a figure whose review got the dreaded “Mistakes were made” tag on this site ending up in the #2 spot?  Truth be told, this is actually a really great figure, held back only slightly from greatness by his odd scaling issues.  Were he better scaled to the rest of his line, he’d have won top spot with little issue.  As it stands, he’s a fun figure who is sort of all alone.  But, if you’re just looking for a standard Batman on his own, this is a great one.

#1:     Batman – World’s Greatest Super Heroes (Mego)

Remember what I said about the Super Powers figure?  Remembering your roots and all that?  Yeah, that’s really where this guy comes into it.  He’s kind of goofy and he’s got those oven mitt gloves, but whether his mask is sculpted on or removable, there’s just something about Mego’s take on the Caped Crusader that just can’t be beat.

[Photo Credit: Mego Museum, since I don’t actually own this one]

 

#1557: Ellen Ripley

ELLEN RIPLEY

VINIMATES (DIAMOND SELECT TOYS)

“After surviving the xenomorph attack that killed her crewmates, Ellen Ripley was found and awoken years in the future to learn that the discovery site of the lifeform, planet LV-426, had since been colonized. Joining a military expedition to the planet, Ripley knew that even a single xenomorph would pose a danger to the entire colony, and if any escaped the planet, they could threaten the galaxy.”

Hey, while we’re on the topic of competitors to Funko Pop!, why not take a look over at Diamond Select’s stab at the world of collectible vinyl figures, Vinimates!  My Vinimates collection is modestly plugging along, and so far is only made up of figures just from my favorite properties.  Of course, I’d so far missed my all time favorite movie, Aliens.  Let’s fix that.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ellen Ripley was released in August of 2016, as one of the two Aliens-themed Vinimates (the other being the Alien Warrior).  Like the first proper Ripley ‘mate, this one’s based on her hive-storming look from the end of the movie.  It’s a distinct look, so it’s a good choice.  She stands about 4 1/2 inches tall and she has an articulated neck (a ball-joint, just like the others in the line).  Ripley’s sculpt is, of course, all-new to her.  It’s notably divergent from the smaller-scale take on this same design.  The hair should, in theory, be a little closer to Weaver’s from the movie, since it’s a new piece rather than a straight re-use, but I personally find it to be too close cropped for her hair.  It’s not terrible, though.  She’s posed hunched over, like she is while she explores the hive, holding her combo pulse rifle/flamethrower.  It’s a good look, and pretty standard for this particular look.    Her paint work is decent enough.  The base colors are pretty good matches for the movie, and the application is mostly clean, though there are some fuzzy lines.  The face is a decent enough likeness of Sigourney Weaver, though it’s kind of funny that her eyebrows aren’t filled in.  I would assume that’s not an intentional change, though.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I kept meaning to pick up Ripley, ever since she was released, but I just sort of kept forgetting.  Admittedly, Vinimates are not usually at the top of my priority list.  I ended up finally getting her because she was marked way down during Luke’s Toy Store’s Black Friday sale, and that was enough to prompt me.  She’s decent enough, though I don’t know that she’s quite as exciting as the other two.

#1556: Luke Skywalker

LUKE SKYWALKER

STAR WARS MIGHTY MUGGS (HASBRO)

Before Funko created the insane every property imaginable juggernaut that is Pop! Vinyl in 2009, there was Mighty Muggs, another attempt at creating a multi-property pop-culture-driven vinyl figure line.  Launched in 2007, Mighty Muggs were Hasbro’s go at the world of collectible vinyl.  They spanned Marvel, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and even Hasbro’s in-house properties G.I. Joe and Transformers.  With a tagline of “Made from 100% recycled Awesome,” the figures originally debuted on a 6-inch base body, before eventually being scaled down into Mini Muggs in 2011.  They would be scaled down once more, into Micro Muggs, in 2012, before going on hiatus as a whole (apart from an out of the blue SDCC-exclusive ROM in 2014).  In light of Funko’s immense success with Pops, it would appear Hasbro’s giving the brand another try, albeit with a slight…twist…I assure you, that’ll be funnier once you’re done with the review.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Luke is figure 03 in the first six-figure assortment of Star Wars Mighty Muggs.  The assortment offers a mix of old and new trilogy designs, with Luke coming from the old, specifically from A New Hope.  It’s kind of his quintessential look, so it’s a god place to start.  The figure stands about 3 1/2 inches tall, putting him somewhere in-between the scales of the old Mighty Muggs and Mini Muggs.  So, if you have the old ones, you’ll still be starting over.  Perhaps not coincidentally, this sizing means that Luke is almost exactly the same size as his Funko compatriots.  Hasbro clearly knows the market they want to tap into.  Old Mighty/Mini Muggs had three points of articulation, at the neck and shoulders.  These new Muggs lose the neck joint, for reasons I’ll get into in a little bit.  Luke can still move at the shoulders, though, which I’m happy about.  The proportions of the new Mugg body are similar in a lot of ways to the original, but with a definite influence from the figures that have come since.  The main body is a bit squatter, and the head is larger in comparison.  I actually find these changes to be quite aesthetically pleasing.  Another change in this new incarnation is just how unique each figure is.  Old Mighty Muggs would deviate from the base body as little as possible, resulting in a very large number of figures that were sculpturally identical.  If Luke is any indication, that won’t be true this time.  He gets a unique hair piece, as well as a slightly tweaked right arm, holding his trusty lightsaber.  Once again, the changes are things I really don’t mind, and in the case of the hair, it was a direction Hasbro was already starting to experiment with at the end of the original line.  Another change in direction?  An action feature.  Mighty Muggs weren’t entirely without action features before, but they were far from the norm.  This time it’s standard.  Luke has three different facial expressions, made visible by pushing down on his hair.  It’s this feature that robs Luke of his neck movement.  Personally, I don’t mind, but I suppose an argument could be made that a non-mechanical rotation would have preserved the articulation.  Of course, then Hasbro wouldn’t have the gimmick to set them apart from the competition, so maybe that wouldn’t have been so great.  The paint is definitely where this guy really shines, and it mostly comes from those three expressions.  He’s got a standard determined stare, a grin, and an angry screaming one.  I like how they’re all three clearly the same guy, but still very distinctly different and incredibly expressive.  Very definitely the highlight of the figure.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

While I didn’t have a huge collection or anything, I was definitely a fan of Mighty Muggs back in the day (at least in part via Christian, who had a larger collection than I).  I was a bit sad when they went away, and I always preferred them to Pops.  When I heard they were coming back, I was quite excited, and I was even more exited when I found them at my local TRU.  I came very close to buying a whole set of the Star Wars ones, but decided to try the line out with one, and went for Luke who I thought looked the coolest.  I’m very happy with my purchase, and I can definitely see myself grabbing more of these.  Here’s hoping they take off!

#1555: Gold Ranger

GOLD RANGER

POWER RANGERS: LEGACY (BANDAI)

I don’t review many Power Rangers figures on this site.  And when I do, they’re pretty much always from the Mighty Morphin’ incarnation of the show.  It’s amusing, because, while I certainly have an appreciation for MMPR, since it’s the original and all, I only caught it fleetingly in its original run.  I’ve touched on this somewhat in past reviews. Power Rangers in Space is actually the first Rangers show I got actively invested in, but the first incarnation I owned any toys from was Zeo, Mighty Morphin’s follow-up series.  My favorite Ranger design of all-time is definitely Zeo’s sixth member, the Gold Ranger, who I’ll be taking a look at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Gold Ranger was released in Series 4 of Bandai’s Power Rangers: Legacy line.  He’s one of the three Zeo-based figures in this series, alongside the Green and Yellow Rangers (the other two figures are the Blue and Red Rangers from Dino Thunder).  The figure stands 7 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  That’s slightly less posability than the Red Space Ranger, but the missing joints were mostly redundant on that figure and ended up adding a bit of extra work to pose him so that none of his extremities were oddly twisted.  With this figure, he’s definitely less contorted looking right out of the box.  That being said, I do feel it’s important to note that this guy does *not* have mid-forearm cut joints like the last figure.  I gave one of them a small twist on my figure and the glue holding his wrist in place came undone, which was a pain to fix.  The Gold Ranger’s sculpt uses the same basic starting point as the Red Space Ranger, so he has the same exaggerated, superhero build the Bandai America likes to give to their Rangers, for better or for worse.  He also has the same wonky shoulders that I wasn’t super crazy about, but fortunately those shoulders are mostly covered by his chest plate, so the issue is lessened.  In general, the new armor additions really help this figure out, since they cover a lot of Bandai’s usual sins on these figures, and in general help to keep him looking far more in line with his onscreen counterpart.  The armor pieces also off Bandai the chance to add a little bit more intricate detailing to the figure, thus keeping him from being quite as simplistic and bland as some of their other sculpts.  I also quite like his head sculpt, which does a great job of capturing the show’s design, and manages not to look too small in comparison to the rest of the body.  The paint on the Gold Ranger is the source of some controversy.  The prototype and all promotional shots of the figure showed him with armor that was actually gold, matching up with the show depiction.  When he arrived on retail shelves, his armor was more of a orangey yellow, with only the slightest metallic twinge to it, which has upset a lot of fans.  I can understand the complaint, and I’d probably be happier with the figure if he were in the proper colors, but I don’t find myself all that upset with the final product.  As it stands, I think the color’s close enough to work, and his overall appearance hasn’t been altered all that much.  I suppose it might bug me more if I had the Green or White Rangers, both of whom have a different shade of gold, but just on his own, I think this guy looks fine.  As a sixth ranger figure, the Gold Ranger doesn’t include a piece of his team’s Megazord, but he does include his Staff of Gold, which is pretty cool.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This guy’s really the whole reason I got into the Legacy line in the first place.  I’ve wanted a Figuarts version of him since I got the Mighty Morphin’ team, but the odds of that getting made are kind of slim at this point.  So, when this guy was shown off, I was pretty pumped.  It took him a little while to get here, but I can’t begin to describe the excitement when I found him.  He’s got his flaws, but I’m overall very happy with this figure!