#1590: Shuri

SHURI

BLACK PANTHER (HASBRO)

“The sister of T’Challa, Shuri designs and wears vibranium-powered combat gear.

You know what was a good movie?  Black Panther.  Really just a solid picture all-around.  I gotta admit, I was a little worried at first that it might not live up to all of the hype surrounding it (especially since I’m apparently one of the few people on the planet who didn’t like Wonder Woman), but it really delivered, and I think it’s one of the MCU’s strongest entries.  T’Challa had already made a pretty solid impression with his appearance in Civil War, and he lived up to that here, but what really made the movie for me was his supporting cast.  I’d picked up the Marvel Legends offerings prior to the movie, and I’m happy to have the figures offered there, but sadly two of my favorite characters from the movie haven’t yet been granted Legends releases.  One of those two was Shuri, who was at least lucky enough to find her way into the movie’s basic figure line.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Shuri is part of the first (and so far only) series of basic Black Panther figures.  In an assortment of variations on the panther suit, she certainly stands out, and, as the only character included here that’s not in the Legends assortment, she tends to be the first figure to disappear.  The figure stands right at 6 inches tall and she has 11 points of articulation.  She’s a bit shorter than your average Marvel Legend, but given Shuri’s slightly smaller stature, she blends in pretty well.  The articulation is a little disappointing, especially after the Homecoming figures got actual knee joints, but what she’s got is certainly passable.  Shuri’s design is based on her fully geared up look from the film’s final battle sequence.  It’s definitely her coolest look, and it matches up with the version of Nakia they released, so I can certainly get behind it.  The sculpt is all-new to her, and it’s decent, but not without a few glaring issues.  The biggest problem is the hair, which is just inaccurate.  The tight braids she has here almost make it look like there’s an extra piece to her hair that’s missing from the final figure.  She should definitely have more hair than this, and it really ends up throwing off the figure’s whole look.  The face has a rather generic look about it as well, making me think this figure was put together based on design sketches rather than actual footage from the film.  I’m also not a huge fan of how the head connects at the neck; it just looks very unnatural and odd.  Fortunately, below the neck, the sculpt is actually pretty solid.  The proportions are pretty balanced, and there’s a lot of really great texture work on her armor.  Her skirt piece is a free-floating add-on, which helps to maximize posablity, and looks pretty solid to boot.  The paint on Shuri is passable, but definitely a bit rudimentary when compared to something like Marvel Legends.  She could definitely use a little more detailing on the armored parts, but she generally looks pretty good.  Shuri includes her pair of arm gauntlets, which can be slipped over her forearms.  The detail work on them is surprisingly sharp, and the energy effects look pretty awesome.  Definitely better than some gimmicky missile launcher or something.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After seeing the movie, I knew I needed at least some version of Shuri in my collection.  Of course, so did everyone else, so she was a little difficult to find.  Fortunately, when I swung by Cosmic Comix to get my comics the next day, they still had a Shuri figure on the rack, and thus I was able to add her to my collection.  She’s not a perfect figure, and I’m still hoping for a proper Legends release down the line, but this one will hold me over until then.

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#1589: Cassian Andor, Imperial Deathtrooper Specialist, & Jyn Erso

CASSIAN ANDOR, IMPERIAL DEATHTROOPER SPECIALIST, & JYN ERSO

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES

 

There was one major piece of Rogue One merchandise I haven’t yet gotten around to reviewing.  It was sitting there in the store, staring at me, waiting, watching, and….uh, waiting.  Sorry, didn’t have a third “w” word, there.  Anyway, I finally have said piece of merchandise, so, without further ado, here’s this set with Cassian, Jyn, and a Deathtrooper!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

This three pack was a Target-exclusive, and started hitting shelves about a month after the main Rogue One product launch.  Of the three figures included, only Cassian is a truly unique figure.  The Deathtrooper has some minor tweaks as well, but Jyn is exactly the same as both her standard and SDCC-exclusive releases.

CASSIAN ANDOR

“An accomplished Alliance Intelligence officer with combat field experience, Captain Cassian Andor commands respect from his Rebel troops with his ability to keep a cool head under fire and complete his missions with minimal resources.”

Despite his placement in a big exclusive set, the Cassian seen here is the standard version of the character, seen most frequently throughout the movie.  It was oddly scarce in the initial product launch, but by the end of all the Rogue One product, it did end up fairly well represented.  It’s definitely the selling point of this release.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  His head is shared with the Eadu version, which admittedly wasn’t the best Cassian sculpt we got, but it looks a little bit better here than it did on that figure.  The rest of the figure is a unique sculpt, and it’s a definite improvement over the Eadu look.  The details are generally a lot sharper, especially on the jacket, and the overall aesthetics just seem to flow a bit better.  He’s still a little bulky for Luna, but not as bad as the Eadu figure.  The movement is a lot better as well, thanks to the slightly less restrictive design.  Just like the sculpt, the paint on this Cassian is a marked improvement on the last figure.  The face is still a bit off, especially the beard, but it’s definitely a step up.  The eyebrows are less caterpillar-like, and the scruff is a little more reserved, so that’s a plus.  The rest of the body is pretty solid overall.  There’s a little bit of fuzz in a few spots (like the tops of his boots), but generally it’s pretty sharp.  Like his oh-so-awesome small-scale counterpart, this Cassian is packed with his modular blaster rifle, which maintains the oh-so-awesome-ness.

IMPERIAL DEATHTROOPER SPECIALIST

“The elite soldiers of Imperial Intelligence, Death Troopers are encased in specialized stormtrooper armor with a dark, ominous gleam.  These soldiers serve as bodyguards and enforcers for Director Krennic, a highly placed officer within the Advanced Weapons Research division of the Empire.”

For the most part, this is a figure I’ve looked at before, back when it was just the standard Deathtrooper.  But, apparently, as a “Specialist,” this guy is entitled to a whole web gear load out, with a shoulder pauldron, some ammo pouches, and a bunch of grenades.  It’s a cool piece, and totally removable, should you just want the standard Deathtrooper.  Beyond that, his sculpt, paint, and accessories load out is the same as the basic variant.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I passed on this set when it was new, because paying the cost of three figures and only getting one I actually wanted seemed a bit much.  Just after the new year, however, Target got around to marking the set down, to about the cost of a standard Black Series figure. That brought into a reasonable range for me, so I finally got it.  I’m glad I finally got this Cassian; he’s definitely my go-to figure of the character.  I’m also not unhappy about the Deathtrooper variant, though I can’t say it’s the sort of figure I would have paid full retail for.  Ultimately, I think bundling Cassian into this three-pack was a mistake, and I think the fact that the set ended up on such deep clearance speaks to that.  I get Hasbro’s desire to get as many Jyns as possible out there, but this exclusive really would have worked much better as a two-pack with Cassian and the Trooper.  Three times was just one time too many for the standard Jyn to get a straight re-release.

#1588: Terror-Billy (B.J. Blazkowicz) – The Cold-Blooded Terrorist

TERROR-BILLY (B.J. BLAZKOWICZ) — THE COLD-BLOODED TERRORIST

WOLFENSTEIN II: NEW COLOSSUS (BETHESDA)

“Murderer…Spy…Saboteur…Assassin…only some of the ways to describe the Fiend William Joseph Blazkowicz—the Most Wanted Man in the World.  A Captain of the vanquished U.S. Army Rangers, Blazkowicz was rendered vollig untauglich sum Dienst during a failed assault on a Regime compound. Blazkowicz awoke from his coma fourteen years later as “Terror-Billy”—a mindless killer!—and launched a six month reign of violence across Europe.  After brutally assassinating the esteemed Minister of Advanced Research, Wilhelm Strasse, Blazkowicz vanished.  Some think him dead, others that he went underground and lurks in the American Territories of the Regime. Now it is up to you and Elite Hans to hunt down Terror-Billy and make him face the justice he has so cruelly denied his innocent victims.”

Alright, here we are.  The review I teased a week and a half ago has finally arrived.  Does this mean I sorted out my camera issues?  No it does not.  But, I’ve got a loaner for the time being, and I’m making the best of it.  Wooo.  As today’s guest review of Wolfenstein II by my brother may have clued you in, this review is video game based.  In fact, it’s based on the very same game, albeit I’m not looking at the game itself but rather…

THE FIGURE ITSELF

That was clever, right?  No?  Well, I tried.  BJ Blazkowicz, or Terror-Billy as he’s dubbed by the packaging, is a pack-in figure, included with the deluxe edition of Wolfenstein II: New Colossus.  If you want to get technical, the way the figure is presented, he’s actually the main item, with the game being packed-in with him, but nevertheless, he’s the extra, not the main selling point.  This is something to keep in mind for the purposes of this review.  In the context of the game universe, this figure is supposed to be part of the larger Elite Hans toyline, which is sort of the evil-alternate universe equivalent of G.I. Joe.  Given the ‘60s setting of the last two Wolfenstein games, this is a rather appropriate.  That being said, it’s worth noting that this Blazkowicz figure owes most of his existence to the ‘90s revival of the 12-inch scale than to the vintage G.I. Joe.  It’s a perfectly sensible choice, mind you, and one that I think will resonate a bit better with the fanbase of Wolfenstein II, so I can’t fault Bethesda for going this particular route.  The figure stands 12 1/4 inches tall and has 22 points of articulation. 

The head is the real high point of the main figure.  It’s somewhat generic, but overall is a solid rendition of Blazkowicz’s in-game model.  He should have a few more scars, I think, but he’s got that overall grizzled and determined look down pat.  The paintwork on the head isn’t Hot Toys level or anything, but it’s still pretty sharp, and pretty realistic.  It’s on par with the best of the older Joes and that’s nothing to shrug off. 

Flipping over to the definite weak point of this figure, let’s take a look at his underlying body.  I’m not sure if this is based on an existing mold (it wouldn’t surprise me to find out it was; the molds from defunct toy companies are usually pretty easy to procure), but it’s definitely not quite up to the quality of even Hasbro’s older molds.  It’s hollow and very light, and not particularly lifelike.  Now, none of these things are really a major issue on figures of this nature, since that’s all pretty well hidden by the clothing.  The real letdown of this particular body is the lack of any sort of swivel joint at the biceps or thighs.  The legs I can get over, but no swivel on the arms means he can’t two-hand any of his weapons, which is a bit of a disappointment.  On the plus side, the hands, which are the only visible parts of the body, are actually pretty nicely sculpted, and look not unlike a lot of Hot Toys’ offerings in this respect.

Blazkowicz’s outfit includes a t-shirt, pants, rubber boots, and a two different leather jackets.  The shirt is a little tight, and the pants are a bit shapeless, but they’re decent enough, and would likely look better on a slightly better body.  I like the Rangers emblem on the shirt quite a bit.  The boots are big and a little clunky, however, given the style they were going for, this is accurate.  The two jackets allow for the choice between the main designs of the two games.  I’m partial to the bomber jacket myself, but the motorcycle jacket is certainly a well-put-together piece.  Both of them are well tailored, and help to mask some of the body’s faults.

In addition to previously mentioned extra jacket, the figure is packing “5 Deadly Weapons!” as is so proudly proclaimed by the box.  Included are the Dieselkraftwerk (flamethrower), Schockhammer X (shotgun), Laserkraftwerk (laser), Maschinenpistole (machine pistol), and Kriegsbeil (axe).  All of these weapons are incredibly detailed in terms of both sculpt and paint.  By far the highlight of the figure.  I do wish that in addition to the weapons he came with at least an extra set of hands, or even just an extra left hand with a grip to it.  Blazkowicz can dual wield weapons in the game, so being able to do that here would go a long way, and would also distract from the lack of bicep swivels.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As you may have gathered from Christian’s earlier review of the game, Terror-Billy comes from another joint purchase between the two of us.  Christian was quite fond of the last Wolfenstein game, so he was already on board for this one.  When we discovered that the deluxe version had this figure included, we were both pretty pumped.  Funds and time being factors, we didn’t end up getting this set quite as quickly as we’d planned, but Amazon marked it down to a pretty good deal, and neither of us felt we could pass it up.  Blazkowicz isn’t a top of the line figure.  He’s not going to be winning any awards or changing the industry.  But, as something that’s really more of a fun side novelty, he’s the sort of figure I can get behind.  Yeah, I’d have liked it if the base body were slightly better, but that’s honestly the easiest thing to replace on a 12-inch figure, and I can’t deny, I had a ton of fun playing around with this guy when I opened him up.

Wolfenstein II: New Colossus – A Video Game Review

In an industry just over 40 years old, we have finally reached the point in gaming where character models actually resemble people and game controllers feature more buttons than the number friends I have, it would make sense that we could focus on developing story and gameplay beyond our wildest imaginations. Games today could have branching stories and invest us in the character’s background and with the leg up on film or TV through the interactivity. Or they could innovate with new types of gameplay and create new genres to really make the general public treat video games with the same respect as they treat movies. Or a literal cup and mug could make a pact with the ACTUAL DEVIL and then have to gangster-snap a carrot to death to take its soul back.

*despair intensifies*

Fear not, though, as Wolfenstein: The New Colossus seeks to remedy my despair. With amazing cinematography and thrilling gameplay, this sequel to The New Order keeps up appearances for the game’s inevitable conclusion via the third game obviously going to be named Wolfenstein: The New Shadowcat. Who knew Fox would make a Wolfenstein game? Does that mean Disney owns it? Does that mean B.J. Blazkowicz is a Disney Princess?

This is a SPOILER WARNING.

 

The Story In Summary

As always, you are still William Joseph Blazkowicz. You have survived what was thought to be your death(again) via severe surgery and some good sleep(again). You awake a few months after the last game ended and start your journey wheelchair bound with pistol in hand. Eventually you gain a power suit from your ex-friend Caroline who has suffered a fresh King Louis and your bomber jacket has these big ole holes in it. (Like, from the power suit. Obviously a jacket has holes in it. How else would you put it on?) You may think Terror-Billy is perfectly fine, but your health only goes up to 50 for the first half of the game. You suffer through the pain just enough to go through a 1950s dream town Roswell to plant a nuke to blow up, you guessed it, Nazis. You drive away just in time, but the you get caught by the main antagonist of the game, Frau Engel. You are put on trial for war crimes and immediately sentenced to join eating cake with King Louis. You legit get beheaded and think you’re dead, but obviously SCIENCE occurs and your head is saved. Your melon is attached to a Chris Evans pottery class project and now B.J. is back to 100 health. The rest of the game increases the Nazi killing Zehn-fold and B.J. eventually knifes the heck out of Frau Engel. It ends patriotically and lovingly as you propose to Anya, your long time steady. That’s the story in a nutshell. Plenty more happens in this game and some might consider it too much. One of those some is me!

The Me Half of the Story Equation

This game has a story that is really really really trying to be good. I want it to succeed, but can’t help but say that the story of this game is its weakest area. While much caries over from The New Order, it almost feels like the writers wanted you to be able to play TNC without playing TNO which you shouldn’t do. These are supposed to be episodic and I don’t get why they felt the need to introduce so many plot lines in this game as if they were always there because they weren’t. I feel like the lack of J in this campaign really spelled out what was wrong with the side characters(aside from Fergus and Wyatt): none of them had really any personality. I especially noticed the side plot between Sigrund and Bombate pointing out as my biggest “Wait where did that come from?” The subplot concerning B.J.’s parents was really weak and introduced a lot of filler and bland storytelling aspects that only kept me from actually playing the game. The ending to the father storyline is completely underwhelming and trivializes what could’ve been a non-Nazi struggle in B.J.’s life into another “it’s all the Nazi’s fault” trope. The subplots really make this game look thematically weak which is unfortunate. The main story between Frau Engel, Fergus/Wyatt, B.J., and Anya* is enjoyable and moving. When this game focused on why it was fighting the Nazis instead of how it really shined and made me have fun being happy and happy to have fun. I hope the third game fixes these short changed plot lines because underneath all that mess is a game with a whole mess of heart.

*Anya gets the most badass moment in the whole game. Prepare.

Sorry to beat up on the game, but the praise is coming.

The Design In Question

Many said when The New Colossus was released that Bethesda didn’t shake anything up and that the setting formula was no different. I can’t outright disagree. Yeah, you travel across the map underground, on a train, and even to other celestial objects and shoot stuff and plant bombs and steal papers: it’s the same schtick. They’re right. However, where the word “Order” in the first game’s title is fitting to its universal grim aesthetic, The New Colossus plays around with the venir and creates a different essence in each level. A character like J in The New Order wouldn’t work in The New Colossus because TNC fully embraces the 1960s vibe or haze, if you will. First off, the sheer amount of collectibles in each level is stunning. Like the last game you can collect records you can actually listen to in the game, but you can also collect toys and gold as well as star cards which are drawings of famous entertainers and other German elite. These kinds of collectibles would be out of place and easy to spot in the dark and gloomy film tape of The New Order, but blend into the scenery in The New Colossus.  When you go to Roswell, it’s a 1950s dream town (if the dreams featured the literal KKK) wherein you act as a friendly firefighter carrying an extinguisher encasing a nuclear warhead. This scenery is bright and happy, despite your weaponry and their white supremacy. This deeply contrasts with your trip to Mesquite, Texas just after you blow Roswell the hell up. Mesquite is dusty and tan and rundown. Then you get back to the industrial but very personalized submarine you call home, the Eva’s Hammer to be told you have to fly to Venus to audition in front of Adolf Hitler for the lead role in a movie about you since they think you’re dead. Venus is, obviously, hot and blazing, but the insides are reminiscent of 1950s and 1960s science fiction bases. Each of these settings is a different flavor. TL;DR: The New Order is like passion-suppressing corn flakes in water where The New Colossus is like those cereal value packs where each cereal gets its own box.

The Gameplay In Question

On the subject of gameplay which is this game’s strongest aspect, I couldn’t put the controller down. I had a lot of trouble with The New Order when it came to the mesh between stealth and combat. I died non-stop and felt cheated nearly every time because the stealth mechanics were terrible. In this game, they’ve intertwined much better and make both stealth and combat seem like viable options at all times in the game. B.J. feels faster and leaner in this game once you get your new body. I would replay missions just for the heck of it because I love how Terror-Billy feels when he runs and shoots. This game lets the player decide when it goes from slow to fast and I adore being given that choice. This game fixed my biggest problem with TNO and I’m very grateful. This game features new tech for B.J. to strap to himself including ram shackles, which allow B.J. to run into people to kill them,  a battle walker, which allows you to double your height to gain a vantage point, and a compression harness, which allows you to compress your body under tight spaces. These all make the gameplay feel even fresher when the game is halfway done and come with their own upgrades that allow stuff like regenerative health and armor. This game when its about killing Nazis is 110% fun and I can’t get enough.

The Guns In Question

I’ll walk through each of the guns included with the figure and talk about how they were in the game.

The Machinepistole is a 9mm fully-automatic submachine gun. It’s the first gun B.J. gets in the game whilst battling à la wheel-chariot. This gun is your typical shooter submachine gun with three possible upgrades: a compressor, a nail gun attachment, and a drum magazine. I found this gun very easy to use in those areas where stealth could turn to combat as the compressor made headshotting enemies easy. I’d say this gun isn’t really worth much until you upgrade it, but I never stopped using it. I’d say I never ran out of ammo for this gun so you can trust it as a fallback gun above anything else.

The Schockhammer X is a buckshot automatic shotgun. I think this is the most “run and gun” weapon in the whole game. Someone peers out of the corner two feet in front of you and *BANG.* From distances more than ten feet, this gun is some weaksauce. But, that’s fine seeing as it’s a shotgun and you’re carrying a plethora of other such things. When B.J. is in the trains or any other tight squeeze, equip this gun. Even up against a heavy, this gun is fantastic at mowing any Nazi down in just a few shots. This gun has three upgrades: ricochet, which sends shrapnel flying all around after a shot, rotor, which allows for three shots to be fired with one trigger pull, and and extended magazine. Unlike the machinepistole, the schockhammer’s upgrades, to me, are really pointless and don’t help the gun do any more than it already does. I enjoy this gun a lot, but it is what it is: a dual-wieldable shotgun. Your mileage may vary.

The Laserkraftwerk is only available in the Reid Timeline. It’s very similar to the gun of the same name from the last game, but this is much more compact and powerful. This gun is a laser. It’s a laser. It takes a second to warm up, but it does some serious damage. Expect constant rumbling in your controller when firing this gun. The laserkraftwerk also works to melt metal plates in B.J’s way at various parts in the game. This gun works fine and is certainly cool looking, but functionally I didn’t really enjoy my time with it. There are three upgrades: enhanced scope, battery upgrade, and supercharge which kills a heavy in one shot. These upgrades do more than the schockhammer’s do, but not very much to make this gun fun. I much prefer the next and final gun in this package…

The Dieselkraftwerk is only available in the Wyatt Timeline. I think this is the most interesting and innovative gun in a series of extremely standard selections. It fires diesel-powered grenades that you can stick to just about anywhere and blow up anytime. I think this is a great weapon in both stealth and heavy fire as the ability to hold the detonator button down as you fire so the grenades explode on impact can essentially clear your screen. It is dope shooting a grenade on the back of a heavy causing his firepack to explode instantly killing him. If you detonate a regular Nazi they will go flying and actually get stuck about ten feet in the air, clipped into the wall. The Dieslekraftwek also helps B.J. traverse through metal plates and blast through holes in infrastructure. This gun comes with three upgrades: an ignition muzzle, which detonates the grenades as soon as they leave the barrel, supercharge, which fires five grenades in a row, and an extended barrel. The only thing  “bad” about this gun is that ammo can be incredibly scarce. Like with the Laserkraftwerk, there are charging stations placed randomly in the missions, but when you’re in a pinch they seem to disappear for a good half hour. Either way, this gun is my all-time favorite and I think this gun makes it worth playing the Wyatt storyline over the Fergus story. (Though you should still play both. They’re great stories that I won’t spoil here.)

The Overall

Overall, this game could’ve been better. It continues a great story of rebellion against Nazis and though topical right now, this game doesn’t get caught up in current politics. It remains true to the run and gun Nazi killing spree fans have loved for years while branching out and evolving extremely well and maturing for today’s audience. The story could use some work and maybe some of the guns could be a little more interesting, but like I said; I couldn’t put the controller down. This game is absolute fun from start to finish and a real-looker at that. This game hopefully seems to be the beginning of a new era in video game storytelling and I’m very behind Bethesda’s ultimate goal. I’d give this game a 7.5/10 only because I feel it banks too heavily on the success of the last game and feels a little closed in its world. Otherwise, please go buy this game and have as much fun as I did.

…. I’m still waiting for Wolverine and The Fastball Special DLC

#1587: Green Lantern

GREEN LANTERN

JUSTICE LEAGUE (MATTEL)

When assembling the final line-up for the Justice League animated series, the creators were faced with two slight issues.  First, the traditional roster of seven members was, apart from one woman and one alien, all white guys, which isn’t particularly diverse.  Second, the traditional roster was made up of characters with very set roles in the public eye, which doesn’t necessarily allow for lots of creative freedom in storytelling.  They solved both of these problems with a minor line-up tweak.  Founding member Aquaman was replaced with the lesser known Hawkgirl, and Green Lantern Hal Jordan was replaced with his less explored successor John Stewart.  It proved a success not just for the creators, but also for the two characters chosen.  For John Stewart in particular, it took him from being probably the least known of the Earth-based Lanterns to being THE Green Lantern for an generation of DC fans.  Sadly, he’s somewhat fallen out of fashion again, but let’s remember back to the times when he was at the top, shall we?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Green Lantern was part of the first series of Mattel’s Justice League line.  Alongside Superman and Batman, he and Flash were definitely the lesser knowns, and as such was the short packs of the lot, which made GL a little hard to track down at first.  Fortunately, the popularity of both the show and the character saw this particular figure getting more than a few re-releases over the years.  The figure stands just shy of 4 1/2 inches tall (GL was the shortest of the founding 7 members, so this was accurately depicted here), and he has 5 points of articulation.  His sculpt was, like all of the Series 1 and 2 figures, done by DC Direct, and then handed over to Mattel when they won the DC license.  It’s really just a shrinking down of DCD’s GL Maquette from the time of the show’s premier, but that was a solid rendition of the character, and it still is on this figure.  The articulation’s not really good for a whole lot, and was certainly a low count, even at the time.  Nevertheless, it was consistent with the prior Kenner/Hasbro animated offerings, and it was really the best that could be hoped for in terms of preserving the aesthetics of the animated design.  As far as paintwork went, GL was pretty straightforward.  I always felt the main green could have stood to be a little lighter (and, going by its shading on the show, it probably should have been metallic), but it’s ultimately a decent offering.  One minor flaw?  His eyes have black pupils.  In the show, they were green, showing the effects of the power ring.  Future figures had this corrected, but this guy just has green irises instead.  Green Lantern was packed with a blue stand, which connected with those of the other main League-ers, to spell out the team’s name.  Lantern gets “JU” so he’s meant to go at the front.  It’s a decent piece, but a bit cumbersome for display purposes.  Sadly, that was all he had; no power battery or constructs for this release.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

While I was able to score a Flash figure pretty quickly when these figures first hit, GL proved to be slightly more difficult to find.  Fortunately, I was able to get some assistance from my friend Cindy Woods, who tracked down a GL for me in fairly short order.  He’s not the greatest John Stewart figure (though he’s certainly a large improvement over the last one I looked at on this site), but he was good for the time, and has remained a favorite of mine.

The Blaster in Question #0045: Battlescout ECS-10

BlasterInQuestion1

BATTLESCOUT ICS-10

MODULUS

battlescout1Sometimes Nerf will announce or unveil a blaster with a particular gimmick to it and all you can do is nod in acknowledgment and hope it at least shoots well. Sometimes it does, but sometimes it really doesn’t. Not to give anything away prematurely, but this week’s blaster is the latter of the two. I’m talking about the Modulus Battlescout. Let’s scope it out.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

battlescout3The Battlescout ICS-10 was released in 2016 under the Modulus line and was intended to bring 2 cool new features to the brand. The first was the use of a new horizontally-feeding clip as opposed to the more traditional Nerf magazines (despite Nerf themselves referring to them as “clip systems”). The clip holds 10 rounds and automatically advances one position when the blaster is primed via the angled front grip. This means the clip starts by sticking out the right side of the blaster and eventually ends up sticking out the right side or potentially even just fully ejecting from the blaster itself if you’re a little too vigorous with the pump action. I was reasonably interested in having a Nerf blaster with this style of feeding mechanism when I first heard about it, and I still think it has potential, it just seems like the execution left a little to be desired. The clip is just too bulky for only holding 10 rounds, and the ratcheting mechanism in the blaster doesn’t hold onto the clip very securely so it’s possible for it to get bumped out of position. The second feature the Battlescout was meant to showcase was the included attachable Nerf “action cam” that could clip onto a Nerf accessory rail. I’m pretty sure no one was excited about this. After the Elite Cam ECS-12 blaster, everyone was familiar with the quality of cameras Nerf was working with and they weren’t great. At least the Cam blaster had a screen so you could pretend the camera was just a scope instead of a dedicated recording device. Not so with the Battlescout. I only took a couple test videos just to see what it was like, but the picture quality was dark and grainy, the sound was tinny and sounded like it was being recorded through several blankets, that is, until you tried shooting the blaster while recording upon which you were treated to one of the most battlescout4horrific sounds I’ve experienced as the noise from all the blaster’s mechanical parts moving was transferred through the plastic to the mic. There also seemed to be some discrepancy between the video and audio recording, as every time I played back a recording on the computer, the longer the video went on, the further and further out of sync the audio got. Long story short, the camera was just bad. What was worse, though, was the fact that its inclusion jacked up the price of the Battlescout to almost $70. Yikes, indeed. “But does it shoot well, at least?” I hear you ask. Well, dear reader, no. No it doesn’t. I can’t quite tell where the problem is, but it’s one of the weakest shooting blasters I can recall from recently. Flaccid is a generous term. More than once, I’ve had shots just tumble out of the barrel followed by the slab of orange plastic getting spat out the side of the blaster, sometimes travelling further than the dart. Not great. I can’t say I’d recommend this one for attacking your siblings unless you’ve got enough of a presence that you don’t have to actually shoot to get your point across, because at the very least, the Battlescout looks cool, and with places to attach a barrel, a stock and anything else besides that camera onto the top rail, you can really dress it up. The Battlescout ICS-10 comes packaged with the Camera, a 10-round clip, and 10 Elite Modulus darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I wanted to like the Battlescout, I really did. It looked so cool and interesting in the pictures. Sadly, it just couldn’t live up to my expectations. Although, I will say, since its initial release, there’s been a Walmart exclusive “battle camo” version with no camera, a stock, and what seems to be reasonable performance. Sure, it doesn’t really match any other blasters, but at least it works, so if you’re determined to get a Battlescout, I’d say go for that one.

 

#1586: Winston Zeddemore

WINSTON ZEDDEMORE

REAL GHOSTBUSTERS RETRO ACTION HEROES (MATTEL)

 

When it comes to the original Ghostbusters, I’ve always felt that Winston Zeddemore, the team’s fourth member, doesn’t get all of the credit he deserves.  Though he may be a later addition to the team, he’s a very important element in their success.  As the only non-scientist in the bunch, he’s also the only of the four with any real common sense, and it’s always been my firm belief that without him the other three would have been more ghost than buster before the credits rolled.  Fortunately, by virtue of them being a four-man band, Winston is just as lucky as the others when it comes to action figures.  Today, I’ll be looking at his Mego-inspired Retro Action Heroes figure from a few years back.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Winston was part of the four figure basic assortment of Real Ghostbusters Retro Action Heroes figures released by Mattel in 2011.  As with all of the others in this line, Winston is patterned on his appearance from the Real Ghostbusters cartoon.  For Winston, it wasn’t really too far from Ernie Hudson’s look in the second film, albeit a little more colorful.  The figure stands 8 inches tall and has 18 points of articulation.  He’s built on Mattel’s in-house Mego-styled body, which I’ve never liked quite as much as the original, but it’s what they used for the others.  It could be worse.  Winston got a new head sculpt, which was a pretty decent match for his animated counterpart.  The cartoon designs really did lend themselves to the retro style of these figures, so Mattel certain made a good decision there.  Winston has a cloth jumpsuit, which is the same one seen on both Ray and Egon, just in different colors, obviously.  He’s also got a pair of rubber boots, and his proton pack and neutrino wand.  As I’ve mentioned in prior reviews, the proton pack is definitely a highlight of these figures.   The colors on Winston are definitely nice and bright, and the little bit of paint on his face and proton pack is certainly nice and sharp.  In addition to the proton pack, Winston comes with one more piece of ghost hunting equipment: the ghost trap!  This was actually my favorite of the extra equipment included with these guys; it does a really great job of capturing the design from the movies and cartoons.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked up the retro Ghostbusters figures one at a time as I found them at Toys R Us.  Winston was the third one I picked up, and, as luck would have it, he’s also the third one I’ve reviewed on the site.  Nifty coincidence, right?  Winston’s a solid figure, though, obviously it’s a style you have to have an appreciation for in order to get the figure.  I definitely love him, though!

FIQ Friday Fab Five at 5 #0002: Top 5 Spider-Man Figures

What’s up FiQ-fans!  It’s the last Friday of the month, so that means it’s time for another FiQ Friday Fab Five at 5!  For my inaugural FFFF@5, I looked at the top five figures of DC’s number one hero, Batman.  Today, I’m flipping over to Marvel and their top hero, Spider-Man, and taking a look at the top 5 Spider-Men.  Obviously, this list is just confined to Peter’s classic red and blue number; the symbiote really deserves a list all its own!

#5:      Battle-Ravaged Spider-Man — Spider-Man Classics (Toy Biz)

Okay, admittedly, this guy’s not *technically* a standard Spidey.  But, let’s be honest with ourselves, Peter takes damage often enough that this might as well be as standard look.  2002’s Marvel Legends-prototype Spider-Man Classics gave us a handful of awesome Spider-Men in its short two series run, but I always felt this Battle-Ravaged variant really stood out from the pack.  In fact, up until very recently, he was the only Classics Spider-Man in my collection.

#4:      Spider-Man — Marvel Minimates (Diamond Select Toys)

Sometimes you get things right on your first try.  The first Spider-Man Minimate is definitely one of those times.  While later Spider-Mates have offered more accessories and greater detailing, it’s hard to beat this guy and all his simplistic glory.

#3:      Super-Poseable Spider-Man — Spider-Man: The Animated Series (Toy Biz)

Spider-Man’s a character that needs to be super-poseable to fully do him justice.  Early offerings from Toy Biz were decidedly more restricted in their mobility, so this Series 3 addition to the line put them all to shame.  Even two decades later, he’s still a pretty solid contender.  And, bonus points: he was my first Spider-Man figure!

#2:      Pizza Spider-Man — Marvel Legends Infinite Series (Hasbro)

There’s no shortage of really great Spider-Men in this particular scale, but there’s just something about Hasbro’s most recent update, affectionately called Pizza Spidey based on his rather amusing accessory slice of pizza, that just seems to get the character down pat.  The poseablity, the bright colors, and a selection of expressive interchangeable hands all make for a really fun figure that feels very true to the character.

#1:      18-inch Spider-Man — Spider-Man 2 (Toy Biz)

At 18 inches tall, this is definitely a monster of a figure.  He had the misfortune of hitting at a time when there weren’t many other figures available in this scale, but even as a standalone figure, he’s downright amazing.  Toy Biz took advantage of the larger scale to make him the most detailed and by far the most articulated version of the character ever made in figure form.  He carries a hefty after-market price tag for a very good reason.

#1585: Spider-Man – Battle Ravaged

SPIDER-MAN – BATTLE RAVAGED

SPIDER-MAN CLASSICS (TOY BIZ)

“The amazing Spider-Man uses his sensational spider-powers to protect society from the world’s most dangerous super villains.  It takes all of his super-human strength, speed, and agility to fight the forces of evil.  He often faces insurmountable odds and is forced to combat numerous opponents at the same time.  Not even his amazing early warning “spider-sense” can always keep him from being hurt in battle.  However, Spidey’s incredible determination and will to win lets him triumph in battles against impossible odds.  In the process, his world famous red and blue costume is often torn to shreds.  It’s a good thing our hero created his own costume and knows how to sew up a replacement.  Where else can a superhero bring their costume to be mended?”

Man, Toy Biz’s bios sure were in-depth, weren’t they?  I dig that they got all of Spidey’s usual descriptors in there.  Someone was having a good time with that one.

Spider-Man Classics marked Toy Biz’s first move towards the style that would define the industry for the next decade or so.  The first series was a smash success, and happened to feature both the basic and black-costumed variations of Spider-Man.  When it came time for the follow-up, they had to get a little more inventive for the necessary Spider-variants.  Hence, the Battle Ravaged Spider-Man, a figure I’ll be looking at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Battle Ravaged was one of the two Spider-Man variants in Series 2 of Spider-Man Classics (the other was First Appearance Spider-Man).  This would mark Toy Biz’s second Battle-Ravaged Spider-Man, following the one from their 5-inch line years earlier.  This figure stands 6 inches tall and he has 30 points of articulation.  Rather than just going for a sort of generic battle-damaged look, this figure actually goes for a very specific look, namely Spidey’s damaged appearance from the Todd McFarlane-drawn “Torment” storyline.  It was a fairly pivotal storyline at the time of its release, and it helps the figure blend in well with the rest of the Classics figures, which had all followed a decidedly McFarlane Spider-Man aesthetic.  Obviously, this figure made use of a lot of pieces from the Series 1 standard Spidey.  That figure was very good for its time, and while some aspects of it haven’t aged the best, it’s still a solid offering.  He also gets a new head, right hand and forearm, left upper arm, thighs, and left shin.  These new pieces fit in seamlessly with the old parts, and the battle damaged parts look pretty impressive.  The head’s really the star part of the sculpt, being a pretty spot-on recreation of McFarlane’s battered Peter Parker.  The paintwork on this guy is pretty solid overall.  The colors are well chosen, and the black wash used all throughout the figure helps to really accentuate the detail in the sculpt.  There are some issues with some bleed over, especially on the parts showing the damage, but the overall look is good.  Spider-Man was packed with a wall-mountable display stand, depicting Lizard trapped under debris.  It’s actually really well-detailed, and he even has a jointed neck, jaw, and shoulder.  Very impressive.  Also included is a reprint of Spider-Man #5, which is part 5 of “Torment” and features a beaten down Spider-Man battling the Lizard.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Battle-Ravaged Spider-Man was actually my first Spider-Man Classics figure.  On a particularly rainy day, my Dad and Grandmother had taken me out.  We stopped by a nearby comic book store (which I, sadly, cannot remember the name of) which had this guy and no one else from the series, so he was kind of my only option.  Nevertheless, I thought he was really cool, so my Grandmother picked him up for me.  It’s a figure that shows its age, but I still really like this guy!

#1584: Red Falcon

RED FALCON

MICRONAUTS (PALISADES)

“The most fantastic and elaborate of the original Micronauts figure line, this winged warrior was dubbed “The Prince of the Micronauts” and – like Emperor – plays a mysterious role in the Microverse.  Red Falcon transforms as occasions or battles require, becoming an avenging angel or transforming into a stellar warbird with Hypersonic Missile Launchers.  The prize of the classic Magna-Powered Micronaut series, he returns to a new century with a new weapon and fantastic new colors.”

I’ve delved into the sad tale of Palisades’ Micronauts line twice before, with one figure from the first series and one from the first and a half series (just go with it).  Today, I jump forward one more series, looking into one of Palisades’ final offerings from the line, Red Falcon.  Red Falcon?  Wait, isn’t that the Marvel comics character?  No, wait, that’s just the Falcon, and he’s mostly red.  This guy’s blue.  Does that make him Blue Falcon?  No, because then Hannah Barbera’s gonna be all mad and poor Dyno-Mutt will be confused.  This is RED FALCON, the Micronauts character.  Who, inexplicably, doesn’t actually have much red going on.  Try not to think about it too much, okay?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Red Falcon was part of Series 2 of Palisades’ Micronauts, which, thanks to some rough circumstances surrounding the line, actually ended up as the third assortment of figures to hit retail.  Unlike his vintage counterpart, which only had one color scheme, this Red Falcon was available in three different color schemes: the classic primary colored scheme (seen in this review), a green and bronze scheme, and a translucent red/yellow scheme.  The classic scheme was the heaviest packed, followed by the green, and finally the red.  Yes, that’s right, the red Red Falcon was the chase.  Good times.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation (you could add two more points to that for the wings, but when plugged into his back, they don’t really move).  Red Falcon was one of the lager Magna-Powered Micronauts, in the same style established by the likes of Baron Karza and Force Commander.  In addition to his larger size, he also featured a magnetically attached head and limbs.  It’s an interesting gimmick, but has the unintended side-effect of causing him to fall apart a lot.  He also had rocket fists, which, while cool, also means his hands pop out a lot.  What I’m getting at here is that he falls apart a lot.  But, the important thing here is that he also goes back together, which was more than could be said about the Series 1 figures.  Palisades made tweaks to their Micronauts to distinguish them from their Mego counterparts, but Red Falcon was probably one of the least changed, I’m sure largely due to how rare the original figure was in the States.  Red Falcon’s sculpt is definitlet one of my favorites from the line.  Though he still keeps much of the Micronauts aesthetic, there’s no denying that Red Falcon showed a lot more Japanese influence than many of the line’s offerings.  His head in particular brings to mind a lot of classic anime, and even a little bit of a super sentai vibe.  This is a guy wouldn’t look out of place fighting the likes of Ultraman or the Power Rangers, or helping out Astro Boy.  As with all Micronauts, this sculpt is definitely a product of the time it came from, but there’s a definite charm to the clean, smooth, line work of this guy.  of course, there are still a lot of small details that are a lot of fun, especially the fully detailed mechanics under his clear torso.  Paint is at a minimum on this guy; he’s mostly just molded in the appropriate colors.  He’s definitely very vibrant, though, and the chrome on the torso does a great job of tying him back to the rest of the line.  In terms of extras, Red Falcon was pretty well-off.  He gets his big-ass sword (which is chrome and oh-so-cool), as well as the new cannon piece that matches it.  Also included are the pieces to turn him into his actual bird form.  Yes, Red Falcon was one of the earliest examples of a transformer.  Of course, it’s really rudimentary.  Essentially, you just pop off the head and limbs and put on the bird pieces in their place.  The only shared piece is the torso, and if you’re clever, you can even assemble the pieces without that, giving Red Falcon a cool companion.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Red Falcon was one of my earlier Micronauts.  I was fascinated with the original, but obviously he wasn’t available to me.  So, the re-release was at the top of my list, and he was my second purchase (after a Series 1 Time Traveler, and at the same time as Series 1.5’s Time Medic).  But here’s the thing: remember how I mentioned he fell apart really easily?  Well, I was twelve when I got him, and not quite so careful with my figures as I am now.  Needless to say, my original figure is no doubt scattered throughout various sections of my parents’ house.  During my collecting renaissance the summer after my first year of college, I decided I ordered a replacement, though I assumed I’d be getting the green variant.  Instead, this guy showed up, and I wasn’t even mad.  In fact, I was quite the opposite.  This figure remains one of my favorite Micronauts, challenged only by Battle Acroyear.