#1712: Luke Skywalker – Hoth Gear

LUKE SKYWALKER — HOTH GEAR

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

Doesn’t it feel like I *just* reviewed this figure?  Well, I didn’t.  Well, I didn’t.  Reviewed a very similar figure, of course, because that’s the insanity of toy collecting.  But this one’s different, you see.  He…ummm….he’s got…goggles?  Yeah, let’s go with that.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Luke Skywalker in Hoth Gear was released in the 1997 assortment of Power of the Force II figures.  We’d had our first taste of Hoth figures the prior year with a Hoth version of Han.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches and he has 6 points of articulation.  He’s wearing the same cold-weather gear that we saw him wearing in the two-pack with a Wampa, but this figure depicts him a few moments earlier in the film, prior to the Wampa’s attack.  So he still has the goggles, and his face is un-scarred.  His sculpt is unique to him (though parts of it would be slightly re-tooled for a few later variants of this same gear), and it’s pretty decent.  He’s still a bit puffy and bulked-up, but with the cold-weather gear, that doesn’t feel quite so off.  The level of detailing on the outfit is quite sharp, and looks very good for the time, rivaling even more modern offerings.  My figure is missing his little head scarf thingy, which was a free-hanging piece that was prone to breaking off.  Luke’s paintwork is about what you’d expect.  Fairly basic and an overall decent match for what we see on the screen.  Application is clean, and there’s pretty much no slop.  Hoth Gear Luke was originally packed with his lightsaber and a blaster pistol, but mine has lost them in the years since I got him.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I remember this figure being rather hard to come by, at least initially.  Stores still had tons of Hoth Han, and I was constantly having to explain that it wasn’t the same thing.  I eventually got him in the Farpoint Dealer’s room the year he was released.  If I recall correctly, it was the same dealer from whom I ultimately got my Princess Leia figure, that very same year.  It’s been a favorite of mine for a while, even if it is rather environment specific.

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#1711: A-Force

SHE-HULK, SIF, MARVEL’S SINGULARITY, LADY LOKI, ELSA BLOODSTONE, & MONICA RAMBAEU

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

Spawning out of 2015’s Secret Wars event was an all-female super team dubbed A-Force.  Gimmicky?  Perhaps, but of course, so was the whole event.  I appreciated it for what it was: a chance to focus on some of Marvel’s fun secondary characters, who maybe get overlooked a little too often.  The event-tie-in got its own spin-off, and ongoing that went 10 more issues.  And, in 2017, the group even got an exclusive boxed-set of Marvel Legends, which I’ll be looking at today!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The A-Force boxed-set was a partnered offering between Entertainment Earth and Toys R Us, which first hit at SDCC 2017, before eventually making its way to Toys R Us retail establishments.  Well, for a little while, anyway.  The set includes six figures: She-Hulk, Sif, Singularity, Lady Loki, Elsa Bloodstone, And Monica Rambaeu.

SHE-HULK

A blood transfusion from Bruce Banner leaves Jennifer Walters with the gamma-powered abilities of the Hulk.

She-Hulk is the one character in this set who’s had a Legends release before.  Three of them, in fact.  But the most recent of those was still a decade ago, so we feel overdue for the update.  She’s also the biggest name in the set, and one of the easier to produce figures just based on parts.  The figure stands 7 inches tall and has 28 points of articulation.  She-Hulk is built on the same body used for both Thundra and Valkyrie, which was debuted on a She-Hulk figure, just not a Jen Walters one.  It’s a decent enough body, though it’s a little out dated compared to the others in the set.  Ultimately, it’s not bad, of course, but the articulation scheme’s a bit archaic.  This body’s definitely the next one that needs replacing.  She-Hulk’s got a new head sculpt, which is very nice.  The expression is perhaps a touch bland for Jen, and nothing’s ever going to top the original Hasbro release for me, but this one’s still very well crafted.  Jen’s paintwork is nice, bold, and colorful.  The paint on the face is very clean, as are the costume’s color transitions.  The metallic purple looks very slick, as well, but then I’m a sucker for metalic purple.  She-Hulk included no accessories, but what would you give her, really?

SIF

As a gifted warrior goddess of Asgaard, Sif traverses time and space through teleportation.

Sif is an important character in the world of Thor, but rarely travels outside of that particular realm.  Seeing her interact with others in A-Force was admittedly pretty cool.  Though she may not be the heavy hitter here, Sif is very much this set’s star.  She stands 6 3/4 inches tall and has 27 points of articulation.  Sif is one the newest body in this set, making use of parts from last year’s Angela figure (which I’d predicted back when I reviewed that figure).  She does, however get a new head, upper torso, upper arms, and cape and skirt piece add-ons, all of which add-up to a very different looking figure than Angela.  My main complaint about Angela was not liking the character, so Sif gets an extra leg up here.  This gives the body a new chance to shine, and I find myself really enjoying this figure.  Her paint is very clean, the colors are very bold, and that bright red helps her to be the most eye-catching member of this set.  The blue wash on the fur lining of the cape is perhaps a touch heavy, but I’ve seen worse, and it helps to distinguish it from the rest of the white.  Sif is packed with a sword, which seems pretty sensible to me.

MARVEL’S SINGULARITY

Singularity is a multi-dimensional being whose powers of energy manipulation grant her unique psionic abilities.

Singularity is probably the most obscure of the figures in this set, by virtue of being the only character in the set to have no existance outside of A-Force.  Singularity is sort of a personified walking pocket dimension, and is something of a gender-flipped Beyonder from the original Secret Wars.  While she’s perhaps not the most known character, she’s important to the specific event this set was commemorating, and has the added bonus of an appealing design.  The figure stands 5 3/4 inches tall and she has 29 points of articulation. Singularity is built on the Spider-Girl body, which is always a good one, though its mold might be starting to show its age a bit.  She gets a new head sculpt, which captures the art style of the book pretty well, while also melding well with the rest of the body.  The big thing that sets her apart is her color scheme.  She’s molded in clear blue plastic that has these little metallic flecks all through it, and then has a little metallic purple airbrushed over that in a few key places.  It makes for quite an interesting look, and it’s a great way of capturing how she looks in the comic.

LADY LOKI

A being of Frost Giant descent, Loki also possesses Asgardian powers of shape-shifting and sorcery

Lady Loki is sort of a confusing character in the context of this set, since she’s technically the same person as the usual Loki (who was still running around elsewhere during Secret Wars), and she’s also technically in Sif’s body, but Sif is also in this set.  Best not to think about it too much.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and she has 28 points of articulation.  She’s built on the Black Cat body, which means she’s a fair bit smaller than Sif, who she supposedly shares a body with.  Of course, the armored details and such on the Sif body would have made this impossible to do here, and I’d much rather have an inaccurate Loki than a slightly diminished Sif, so I’m letting it slide.  She *does* share a cape with Sif, though, so there’s at least that.  Her head and her skirt add-on piece are both new to this figure, and they’re both quite nicely sculpted, though as with She-Hulk, I might have liked a little more expression in the face.  My figure had a slight molding issue, which left some noticeable flashing at the bottom of her chin, but an X-acto blade cleared that up fine.  Loki’s paint is probably the most complex in the set, with all the scaling detaining and such.  It’s all pretty clean, and once again the metallic colors are looking pretty cool.

ELSA BLOODSTONE

A gun-toting, foul-mouthed monster hunter, Elsa Bloodstone follows in the family tradition of fighting supernatural evils.

Originally a pretty thinly-veiled rip-off of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, Elsa Bloodstone was re-purposed by Warren Ellis for his cult hit Nextwave series, which completely changed the character, making her far more absurd, and far more entertaining.  Her placement in this set continues the Nextwave appreciation that began with the Dirk Anger head included with Nick Fury.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation.  She’s built on the medium-sized female body, but since no member of Nextwave is truly complete without their trenchcoat, she also gets the arms and jacket pieces from Scarlet Witch.  In addition, she gets a new head, knees, and feet, as well as a belt add-on with a holster.  The whole thing adds up to another very unique looking figure that’s surprisingly true to her Nextwave appearances.  Elsa is the best accessorized figure in this set, getting both her twin shotguns, as well as an oversized revolver.

MONICA RAMBEAU

Gifted in her control of the electromagnetic spectrum, Monica Rambeau uses powerful blasts of energy to shut down her enemies.

Ah, it’s Monica Rambeau, aka Captain Marvel, aka Photon, aka Pulsar, aka Spectrum, aka the most unlucky superhero ever when it comes to keeping a code name.  She’s a favorite of mine and a lot of other fans, and probably one of the bigger draws for this set.  Also, like Elsa, she’s a member of Nextwave.  Two members in one set!  Alright!  Of course, Monica’s not quite in her Nexwave gear, instead wearing her Ultimates costume that she had at the time of the event.  Still, that’s a costume that’s very Nextwave-inspired, so I’m calling it a win.  Monica uses the same basic construction as Elsa, but with standard leg pieces and without the holster.  She also gets a new headsculpt, which is tied with Sif for nicest in the set.  Monica’s paintwork is mostly black and white, which looks very striking, and is in keeping with the design.  There’s a slight pearlescent finish to the white sections, which adds a nice energy-like quality to her design.  She came with no accessories, which is a little disappointing.  Not even an energy effect?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Okay, you saw who was offering this set, so you probably know how I got it.  Yep, this was another Toys R Us liquidation purchase.  I’d seen the set when it was new, but only felt like I really needed three of the six figures included, so the price was a bit prohibitive.  I decided I would wait it out, and if the set ever came down in price, I’d get it.  I firmly set my entry price at 25% off and waited.  When the liquidation began, my store still had a whole stack of this set, and they didn’t really move any faster, but I stopped by one day and they only had a single set left.  What was the discount? 30% off.  So, home with me it came.  Sif is this set’s star, with Elsa and Monica picking up right behind her.  They were the three I wanted, and I’m very happy with them.  Loki and Singularity are both pretty nice as well, but as more event/time specific characters, I have less need for them.  She-Hulk’s the real weak link here, but even as the weakest, she’s still a very nice figure!

Not Quite a Toys R Us Kid – A Eulogy for Toys R Us

Tomorrow, Toys R Us officially closes its doors.  Yesterday, my closest store had it’s final day of sale (my secondary store went the day prior).  I’ve been stopping in on it routinely, ever since the announcement of the closures hit, observing it’s slow descent.  Walking through the remnants of the store yesterday was certainly down-beat.  However, this whole experience has been rather surreal for me, I think because it’s never really hit me quite the same way as other toy collectors.

In part, I think it’s because the store I’ve been visiting the last few months was never really “my store.”  My Toys R Us, located in Columbia, MD, closed in the summer of 2010, rather suddenly.  I’d just graduated from high school, was holding down my first job, and was getting prepped for my first year of college, so I was a little pre-occupied.  I don’t think I had much of a chance to take it in.  It just happened.  After that, I fell back into frequenting another store, in fact the one that my dad had frequented as a kid.  I’d been there many times as well, and it was one of the oldest in the area, so I still had some very fond memories.  Perhaps more fond memories, truth be told.  When that store shut its doors the following summer, it was more cutting.  Despite frequenting it a little less, there were more fond memories there, I guess. Later that fall, the store that I’ve been frequenting these last years opened.  It was a little odd, since it was literally right across the street from the old Columbia location.  Completely new stock, completely new employees, just completely new all over.  It was a little weird, actually.  It’s location was virtually the same as the old one, but there remained none of the sentimentality of the first.  It still became my regular location to frequent, but it never matched either of the two locations I’d already lost.  Perhaps I just had less time with it to become attached, but I think it wasn’t helped by the fact that Toys R Us on whole was not as strong a business by the time this new store came along.

In general, my toy buying habits exist at an interesting cross-roads.  There are many collectors out there with so many amazing stories about the great things they remember about Toys R Us.  I don’t have those.  Because, quite frankly, in my lifetime, Toys R Us has never been anything but a little disappointing.

As a kid, I had a local Toys R Us, which I loved, because toys and all, but it was rarely the first place I stopped.  My toy store of choice was KB Toys, who always seemed to have the better selection, the better atmosphere, and the better overall experience.  I only went to Toys R Us if I had a gift card, or if they had an exclusive item.  Otherwise, KB it was.  When KB closed up shop, I was very sad, but I think that’s because they felt like a store cut down in their prime.  Toys R Us, however has sadly been past their prime for decades at this point.  Watching them close is a little bit like watching the death of a relative who hasn’t really been themselves in years.  It’s sad, but there was never really much to save.

Ultimately, I’m sorry for the employees who are now out of a job.  I’m sorry for the toy companies that have lost a major buyer.  Lastly, I’m sorry for the kids that will never get to experience Toys R Us.  And I empathize with them, because I never really got to see it at its greatest.  I equate my experiences with Toys R Us to watching the scene in the first Toy Story, where a distraught Buzz Lightyear tries flying for the first time.  I wanted so badly to see them succeed, and they looked like they might make it so many times, but ultimately reality always set it, and they’d always come crashing back down to the ground.  I’m sorry they never quite made it.

Still, even as someone who was never quite a Toys R Us Kid, I bid you farewell, Geoffrey.  Thanks for making my collection 550 figures stronger.

*Also, I forgive you for that time your website totally stole one of my photos.  It seems silly to harp on that now, doesn’t it?

#1710: Ray Stanz

RAY STANZ

GHOSTBUSTERS (PLAYMOBIL)

There’s Ray!  I found him! The heart to counter Venkman’s “the mouth” and Egon’s “the brain,” is Dan Ackroyd’s turn as the lovable goof Ray Stanz.  Though perhaps not as colorful a character as Venkman or Egon, Ray nonetheless plays an essential role in the plot.  Just don’t tell him to think about nothing.  Or ask if he’s a god.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ray is the third figure in Playmobil’s Playmogram 3D sub-line of Ghostbusters.  As with the other two, he’s sporting his darker Ghostbusters 2 attire.  It’d be odd if they changed that up in the middle, though, wouldn’t it?  His figure stands 3 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  Ray is built on the same body as the other two, but once again with a different hairpiece.  Once again, the hair seems off, but there’s a bit more of an excise this time.  The more geometrically rounded bit on the the top is a fairly standard concept for Playmobil, and it’s there to allow for attachment of various head gear.  In the case of Ray, it’s to allow for him to wear his ghost-detecting googles.  They’re a little bulky, but they’re also on an articulated hinge, thus allowing them to be raised up or leveled down, depending on how you want him to wear them.  Ray also has the proton pack and removable gloves, just like the other two, and my opinion of them here remains the same.  Ray’s paintwork is pretty much the same as Venkman’s, but there are some slight tweaks to it, just to prevent them from all having the exact same look.  I certainly appreciate that.  Ray is the best accessorized of the three; in addition to the goggles, proton pack, and gloves, he also includes the same trap as the other two (this time with a blue piece for the ghost catching bit), the proton beam energy effect, a readout piece to plug into the goggles, and three tubes of the pink slime in a device of some sort.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Take a guess where I got Ray.  Did you guess “the same Toys R Us where I got the other two”?  Congrats, you win.  Don’t you feel special?  Yeah, so I had the other two and there was Ray, and I was hardly going to leave him behind, right?  He’s pretty fun.  I think Egon’s still my favorite of the three, but Egon’s also my favorite character of the three, so that could be coloring my opinion.  Sadly, the same store did not also have a Winston to go along with these guys, so my set is woefully incomplete.  I do believe I’ll have to end up paying full price for him.  That’s how they get you.  Put a whole chain store out of business, just to get that extra $7 out of you.  The nerve of some companies, am I right?

#1709: Peter Venkman

PETER VENKMAN

GHOSTBUSTERS (PLAYMOBIL)

If the Ghostbusters each make up a respective part of the body that makes up the organization, Bill Murray’s Peter Venkman is undoubtedly the mouth.  Fitting for a Bill Murray character, right?  I suppose you could be more generous, and more generally make him the face, since that’s what he is for a lot of people; the face of the Ghostbusters.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Venkman is part of the same Playmogram 3D sub-line of Ghostbusters Playmobil figures as yesterday’s Egon.  He too is sporting his darker Ghostbusters 2 togs, which are rather unique, I suppose.  The figure stands 3 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  He’s built on the same body as Egon, but with one notable exception.  His hair’s a new piece, and, like Egon’s, it seems a little off for Venkman.  He lacks Murray’s pronounced hairline, and instead gets something a fair bit more generic.  I actually think it’s a piece that’s been used before, but I’m not well-versed enough with Playmobil to know for sure.  The point is, it definitely muddies up any sort of likeness.  Maybe there’s a larger likeness rights issue going on here?  I don’t know.  It’s also possible they couldn’t make the proper hairstyle work with the construction of the head, thus neccesitating this differing look. Also, this is a very minor thing, but since he re-uses the exact same base body as Egon, that means he’s actually missing one Peter-specific detail: his pants legs are tucked into his boots.  That’s a consistent feature of his, across just about every figure he’s gotten.  Of course, it’s also easily overlooked, so it’s hard to say.  Venkman’s paintwork is quite similar to Egon’s, but his uniform is unslimed (kind of amusing really, since the situation is usually flipped).  Peter includes the same accesory compliment as Egon, minus the puddle of slime, so he’s got his proton pack, PKE meter, and ghost trap.  The piece that interacts with the Playmofram 3D feature is also given a pink coloring instead of green.  Woooo?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I found Venkman at the same time as Egon.  Since I was getting Egon, and they were both pretty cheap, home he came.  He’s not quite as strong a figure as Egon, but he’s still decent enough, and I’m happy to have him in the set.

#1708: Egon Spengler

EGON SPENGLER

GHOSTBUSTERS (PLAYMOBIL)

Playmobil?  On this website?  This seems like different and uncharted territory!  Oh, wait, it’s licensed Playmobil?  Well, maybe that’s not so different.  Yeah, after years of making non-licensed toys, Playmobil decided to follow in Lego’s footsteps and start releasing some actual pop culture characters to go with their pre-existing sets.  Amongst the earliest properties to be adapted is actually one that’s run the whole gamut of block figures, Ghostbusters.  Today, I’m looking at my personal favorite ‘buster, Egon!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Egon is part of Playmobil’s Playmogram 3D product range, which offered up the four main ‘busters in their Ghostbusters 2 uniforms.  There’s a gimmicky phone feature included, but for the most part, it’s just an excuse to release some fairly straightforward figure releases.  Egon is built on the standard Playmobil body, which stands 3 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  The Playmobil body is kind of one of the standards for the industry.  Its not super posable, and it’s very definitely of it’s own style, but it certainly works for someone of an average build like Egon.  He’s got an add-on piece for his hair, which if I’m honest seems a bit long for Egon’s hair.  It’s got more of an Elvis thing going on.  It gets the job done, though, and it looks close enough to work.  Egon also gets a unique set of legs, detailing his boots and the bottom of his jumpsuit, which is just different enough from the basic legs to give him a unique edge.  You can also add Egon’s proton pack and gloves into the mix, via snap-on pieces.  The gloves are a little odd, since they only cover one side of each hand, so I’m leaving those off of mine.  The proton pack, on the other hand, is an awesome piece, which gets all of the important details of the design, while still simplifying it for the style.  Egon’s paintwork is pretty decent.  Basic, of course, since that’s what the line’s going for, but there’s actually a lot going on with the uniform, especially since Egon’s been covered in some pink slime.  Egon’s pretty decently accessorized for a smaller set.  He gets his PKE meter, a splotch of slime, and a ghost trap.  The trap is where the Playmogram feature comes in.  Download the app to your phone, and you can get a little holographic ghost to appear in the trap.  It’s somewhat nifty, in the same vein as the Star Wars Studio FX thing that Hasbro tried with Rogue One.  And, if you don’t like it, you’ve still got a cool trap accessory.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’m not entirely unversed in the whole Playmobil thing, but I don’t think I’ve bought a set in over a decade.  My mom had them growing up, so I recall them from when I’d stay at her parents’ house when I was younger.  They’ve always caught my eye, though, and I very seriously considered some of the larger Ghostbusters sets when they hit, but just never got them for whatever reason.  This guy was purchased largely due to TRU going under.  He was there, and at the discount they’d hit, it was very hard to say no.  He’s actually quite fun, if you’re into this sort of figure.

#1707: Agents of Hydra

HYDRA AGENT & HYDRA ENFORCER

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Driven by rage, these advanced Hydra super soldiers are prone to clash with anyone in their paths.”

Back when the newest incarnation of Marvel Legends was first launched, Hasbro was still figuring some things out.  The Captain America-themed Mandroid Series still had some troubles with distribution, and some…interesting choices in case packouts.  The assortment was split into two waves.  For the first wave, the Agents of Hydra swap figure’s packout was split evenly between Red Skull and the basic Hydra Agent.  Both moved pretty quickly, but there was definitely more demand for the army buildable Hydra Agent.  When the second wave hit, Hasbro decided to repack…Red Skull?  And then the Hydra Agent never resurfaced, so finding one was a mean feat.  Last year, having started to learn from their earlier woes, Hasbro did a re-release of the Agent, alongside a new Hydra Enforcer figure, in an exclusive two-pack.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The Agents of Hydra two-pack was a Toys R Us-exclusive offering under the greater Marvel Legends banner.  It *was* a TRU-exclusive, emphasis on “was.”  It was supposed to be released last summer, but apart from being on their website for exactly one afternoon, it never really showed up.  And then, it sort of did, in the wake of all of the closing stuff.  Now it’s made its way to Entertainment Earth, who have been grabbing all of the former exclusives.

HYDRA AGENT

The basic Hydra Agent is, for all intents and purposes, a straight re-issue of the Mandroid Series release.  He’s a more modern interpretation of the Hydra troopers, in the vein of Bob, Agent of Hydra.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  He’s build on the Bucky Cap body and he has add-ons for his harness and belt.  Both pieces are unique to this figure and his predecessor.  They’re well sculpted, and well fitted to the body.  He’s also got a unique head, which is a good recreation of the Hydra Agent’s usual design.  His paintwork is a point of marked improvement over the last release.  Not only is the application a lot cleaner across the board, but he also gets a few more details, particularly the Hydra emblem on his shoulders.  Also an improvement are his accessories.  The last Hydra Agent included two rather goofy sci-fi-y rifles.  This one instead gets two less goofy rifles, which look a lot better.  He also gets a vest to swap out for the harness and and two extra heads.  The first head is Taskmaster’s alt-head, recolored to match the Hydra soldier scheme, which is nice and imposing.  The second is the same one included with the Nick Fury figure from the Giant-Man Series.  It all makes for a nice selection of options on this figure, which is especially nice for army building.

HYDRA ENFORCER

The Hydra Enforcer is a newer concept, and seems to be the figure that’s actually being referred to in the bio on the back of the box.  Despite being a new concept, the figure is just as much re-use as his pack-mate.  He stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  The figure is built on the Hyperion body, specifically the Nuke variant of the body, with the pants and combat boots.  He also gets Nuke’s vest and belt, as well as the head of Captain Britain, which works surprisingly well with the Hydra theme.  The design presented by these piece complements the basic agent pretty well, and he seems to fit the overall Hydra aesthetic nicely.  His paintwork is pretty similar to the standard agent, and the application is all pretty clean.  The Enforcer is packed with a large rifle (re-used from the AIM Agent), a missile launcher (re-used from Drax), a knife, and two extra heads.  The first head is Nuke’s, matching the other pieces on the figure.  It’s been re-decoed with a pretty intensive scar.  The second head is re-used from Radioactive Man, done up with a sort of a Jason Statham look.  Both are pretty fun, and far more specific designs than any of the basic heads, which I guess makes sense, since you’d assume the Enforcers are a more unique bunch.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Having missed out on the original Hydra Agent release, I was definitely on board for this set.  Of course, I couldn’t find it anywhere, so that all meant for nothing.  Then I was going through my local TRU during it’s liquidation process, and there was just a stack of this set.  Yay for me, right?  It’s a solid offering, very definitely.  It’s only real drawback is that it’s a little difficult to army build if you don’t want a bunch of Enforcers.  Still, a very fun set, and I’m glad it’s finally making its way out to the people who want it.

#1706: Reverse Flash

REVERSE FLASH

TOTAL JUSTICE (KENNER)

It’s not uncommon for superhero stories to introduce a villain that’s some sort of dark reflection of the hero, but there are few instances as straight forward as Professor Zoom, the Reverse Flash.  Reverse is right there in the name.  Toy makers are fond of this particular character, since he’s a pretty easy palette swap of the Flash.  I’m looking at one of those figures today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Reverse Flash was released in 1999 as a ToyFare magazine exclusive continuation of Kenner’s Total Justice toyline.  Despite how easy it is to make the character, this would be his very first figure (though one was planned for Kenner’s Super Powers line before the line ended).  The figure stands 4 3/4 inches tall (and would be closer to an even 5 if he were standing up straight) and he has 5 points of articulation.  The sculpt for this figure is, predictably, reused from the main line’s version of Flash. Now, if you want to get technical, it’s a Wally West Flash, and Professor Zoom should have Barry’s costume, but the differences are minor enough that it’s not really worth complaining about.  As far as the quality of the sculpt, it’s got all the hallmarks of this line, with the proportions and muscularature being super exaggerated and the whole figure being super pre-posed. Of course, the pre-posing is less of an issue here, since they gave him more of a running pose.  Zoom’s paint is reasonable enough.  It’s a bit brighter than the corresponding Flash was, and the yellow looks a touch goofy with how blindingly bright it is.  Also, the contrast really isn’t there between the eyes and the mask, like it was on the Flash.  Perhaps black eyes might have worked better?  It’s not terrible, though. Reverse Flash included no accessories, but since all the main Flash got was tactical armor, I don’t feel like he’s really missing out.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

It’s this figure that’s the whole reason I even know this character exists. Back when I was much smaller, I saw him on a dealer’s table at a Farpoint.  He was too pricey for me to get at the time, but my dad explained the character to me, and I’ve been intrigued ever since.  It’s taken a while, but I finally found this guy, courtesy of House Of Fun, last November.  He’s pretty simple, but still a lot of fun.

#1705: Magneto

MAGNETO

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“The evil mutant master of magnetism, Magneto is the arch-enemy of the X-Men. With his magnetic power, Magneto’s magnetic force can pull even the heaviest objects to him, throw them miles away, or cause them to shatter with sudden explosiveness. Magneto plans to enslave mankind and mercilessly rule Earth with the other evil mutants. But first he must destroy the X-Men, the super hero mutants who are mankind’s defenders.”

Magneto’s first action figure came from Mattel’s Secret Wars line.  Though sold as a villain, the story was an early adopter of the heroic turn for the character.  By the time of his second figure, he’d run the whole gamut of villain to hero and back again.  It’s a little odd to see the character referred to simply as an evil mutant, but that’s where he landed when the team came into all of their notoriety, I suppose.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Magneto was released in Series 1 of Toy Biz’s X-Men line, as one of three villains presented therein.  Magneto had gone through a few different costumes by this point, but returned to his classic design just in time for this figure’s release.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 9 points of articulation.  Magneto’s sculpt was an all-new offering, and it remained unique to this figure all throughout Toy Biz’s tenure with the license.  Magneto sports perhaps the finest sculpt in the whole first series.  His proportions are notably less goofy and his posture far less stilted than other figures from this assortment.  He’s not painfully scrawny like Cyclops was, and he can actually manage some decent poses, unlike Storm.  His helmet was removable, and while that made it more than a little bit oversized, and just a touch goofy looking, it does mean we were treated to the fully detailed un-helmeted head beneath it, which does a very nice job of capturing Magneto’s usual stern but well-meaning expression.  Despite the big emphasis on the whole “evil” bit in the bio, that’s not quite what was presented by the figure here, and he ends up very true to the character in that regard.  Though later figures in the line would go the sculpted cape route, this one got a cloth piece, keeping with the vaguely Super Powers-esque aesthetic that these early Toy Biz offerings had.  Like the bulkier helmet, it’s a bit dated looking and slightly goofy, but it’s not bad for what it is.  Magneto’s paintwork is pretty straight forward stuff.  The red parts are all molded plastic, and everything else is painted.  Application is mostly pretty clean; there’s some slight slop on the boots and gloves, but it’s very minor.  In addition to the removable helmet and cape, this guy came with three pieces of “metal debris,” which, via magnets in his torso and hands, could be attached to the figure, thus simulating his powers.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I have two of this guy, and it’s all my dad’s fault.  Well, not directly, I suppose.  When I was just getting into collecting, my dad and I were doing a lot of tandem buying, where we’d both get something.  On one of our trips, he got this figure, and I really liked it, but I never ended up finding another at retail.  A few years later, I found this guy (along with Nightcrawler) at a flea market, sans helmet and cape.  Despite the missing pieces, that was certainly good enough for me, at least at the time.  In recent years, I become slightly more picky about such things, so I ended up tracking down a second one, via my friends at Yesterday’s Fun, and this one had the missing pieces.  This remains my favorite Magneto figure, and I’m happy to have a more complete release.

#1704: Grand Moff Tarkin

GRAND MOFF TARKIN

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES

“An ambitious, ruthless proponent of military power, Wilhuff Tarkin became a favorite of Emperor Palpatine and rose rapidly through the Imperial ranks.”

Before the introduction of Emperor Palpatine in Empire, the original man behind the man that was Darth Vader was Wilhuff Tarkin, Grand Moff of the Empire, and really the central antagonist of A New Hope.  Yes, his name is really Wilhuff.  At least it’s better than Sheev, right?  Tarkin hasn’t always been the most prevalent figure when it comes to action figures, but he was fortunate enough to be one of the recent additions to The Black Series.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Grand Moff Tarkin is figure #63 in the Star Wars: The Black Series line.  He hit alongside the Solo product back in April, and has proved to be the most difficult to find of the set.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and he has 24 points of articulation.  As an Imperial officer, it’s not a huge surprise to find that Tarkin makes use of some of Krenic’s parts, namely the arms and legs.  He gets a unique torso and skirt piece, to denote his slightly differing rank and his lack of a sidearm.  The torso does a good job of capturing Peter Cushing’s more narrow-shouldered build.  He’s also got a new head, of course, which is definitely one of Hasbro’s best offerings from this line.  The likeness of Cushing is spot-on, right down to the slight little sneer he had in all of Tarkin’s scenes.  There are tons of subtle little details, which really help to make this sculpt incredibly lifelike, even more so than a lot of others in this line.  Tarkin makes use of the new face printing technique, just like the rest of his assortment.  Like with the sculpt, I think Tarkin is one of the best iterations of this technique we’ve seen in the line.  Between the sculpt and the paint, there’s a lifelike quality to Tarkin that just about rivals a Hot Toys offering.  The rest of the paint is more basic, but it’s still very clean, which is always a plus.  Tarkin is only packed with one accessory, but boy is it a good one.  He includes the Imperial Interrogation Droid (or, as he’s known to Robot Chicken fans, Dr. Ball, M.D.!).  It’s a pretty sizable piece, and almost counts as a figure in its own right.  It also highlights how lightly packed the Jawa from this same assortment was, but let’s just focus on the awesome that is this figure and his amazing accessory.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Tarkin’s been a high-ranking want from this line for a good while, so I was super pumped when he was shown off last year.  The figure was also my main want when all of the Solo product was hitting, though it took me a little bit to finally track him down.  I ended up getting him at the same time as Lando and the Jawa.  He’s absolutely my favorite figure from this line, and he’s going to be very hard to top going forward.  This is a figure that no Star Wars fan should miss out on!