#1881: GNK Power Droid

GNK POWER DROID

STAR WARS: ELITE SERIES (DISNEY)

“GNK power droids understand commands and generate power for mobile operations,  They are often called “Gonk” droids in imitation of their simple vocalizations.”

While the premiere Star Wars line these days is undoubtedly Hasbro’s The Black Series, my nomination for the line that is consistently the most unexpected and surprising line is Disney’s in-house Elite Series, a line of 7-inch die cast metal figures.  For the most part, the line’s scale makes it incompatible with The Black Series, but every so often, you get those designs where scale’s less of an issue.  Such is the case with today’s focus, the GNK Power Droid, better known as the “Gonk.”

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Gonk is part of the newest assortment of Elite Series figures, which started hitting right around the same time as the three Disney Store-exclusive Black Series figures.  This assortment is all about the droids, featuring a number of the lesser droids from throughout the franchise (and an R2 variant for good measure).  The Gonk is based on his appearance in A New Hope, which is really the go-to, so it works.  The figure stands 4 inches tall and has 2…ish points of articulation.  There are technically joints at the top of each leg but, admittedly, there’s not much mobility to be had there.  The Gonk is primarily constructed from die cat metal, which makes up the main body and the feet.  This makes the Gonk one of the densest figures in the line, and certainly the densest figure I own.  It’s really just a brick of metal when you get right down to it.  Disney has once again stepped up their game on the sculpt front, with the Gonk being one of the most detailed sculpts to date in the line.  It’s a very good match for the Gonk’s design from the movie, and areas like the leg covers in particular are really sharply defined.  Even the paint work is more defined than what we’ve seen before.  Prior Elite Series figures have been more on the clean side, but the Gonk actually gets some sizable wear and tear detailing, helping him achieve that proper worn-in appearance that the Gonk just wouldn’t look right without.  The Gonk is packed with one accessory: a display stand.  It’s the same stand that’s been packed with all of the prior figures, and he doesn’t really need it to keep standing, but it’s always nice to have it, I guess.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Gonk is rather a sentimental character to me, due largely to its presence as a playable character in Lego Star Wars, where it was my brother’s favorite character.  When we unlocked the “Super Gonk” feature, he would run all around the levels shouting “Super Gonk!” Ever since then, whenever either of us sees the Gonk anywhere, we always shout “Super Gonk!” to the other.  So, when I spotted this guy at the Disney Store while grabbing the Black Series Zuckuss, there was no way I was turning him down.  As of right now, the odds of a Black Series Gonk are somewhat slim, and this one definitely makes for a good stand-in.

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#1880: Cliff Clavin

CLIFF CLAVIN

CHEERS (MEGO)

“It’s a little-known fact that the tan became popular in what is known as the Bronze Age.”

Cheers’ know-it-all barfly Cliff Clavin was not originally meant to be in the show.  His actor, John Ratzenberger, originally auditioned for the part that would eventually become Norm Peterson.  When that part went to George Wendt, Ratzenberger suggested to the show’s producers the addition of a know-it-all character, and thus, Cliff Clavin was born, becoming one of the show’s most distinctive characters.  Now, he’s even got an action figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Cliff is the sophomore offering in the Cheers sub-set of Mego’s TV Classics line-up.  He’s part of the line’s second wave of figures, which started trickling out to Targets in November.  Cliff is built on the re-engineered Type 2 Mego body, so he stands about 8 inches tall and he has 16 points of articulation.  Cliff is sporting a brand-new head sculpt, which is another really long likeness for the Cheers line.  I don’t know if it’s quite topped Norm, but it’s certainly a very close second.  There’s a surprising level of detail there.  The accompanying paint is likewise very strong, with clean, sharp application, and some top-notch accent work.  The slight bit of grey at his temples, as well as the very faintly different coloring to the lips certainly ad a lot of life to the sculpt.  Cliff is seen here in his Postman’s uniform, which is made up of a jacket, slacks, shirt, and shoes.  The shirt is once again a full shirt, deviating from the original Mego style, though the overall tailoring of the uniform is very much the same.  There are some silk-screened elements as well, which detail all of the uniforms most important details. Most impressive for me was the patch on his left arm; that’s a very nice attention to detail.  Cliff is packed with a mug of beer.  It’s the same one included with Norm, and I like it just as much here as I did there.  I imagine we’ll have quite a few of these by the time Mego’s done.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Since I picked up Norm, I couldn’t very well pass up his drinking buddy Cliff, now could I?  Of course, the spottier showing of Wave 2 of the line meant that I didn’t have quite as much luck finding Cliff as I did the Wave 1 figures.  Fortunately, I was able to draft the help of the biggest Mego fan I know, my dad, who helped me  track this guy down.  I was very impressed by the Norm figure, and Cliff continues the trend that he started.  I really hope that Mego is finding their audience with these figures, because there’s no denying that they’re putting in the effort to make them as solid as possible.

#1879: Wonder Woman & Ares

WONDER WOMAN & ARES

DC MINIMATES

Can you believe there was a time when Marvel Minimates wasn’t enough to carry the Minimates brand?  Well, around Series 15 (the only cancelled specialty assortment to date), that was definitely the case.  The line had stagnated, going over a year without a proper assortment release, and there were four back-to-back assortments made up completely of parts re-use.  It was rough to say the least, but then DC came along, and offered salvation.  New characters, new looks, and best of all, new pieces.  Better pieces, pieces that were stronger, faster than before.  Six Million Dollar pieces.  Okay, slight exaggeration there, but DC really did get Minimates out of its slump.  And then, as quickly as it arrived on the scene, it got dropped.  Because that’s just how DC Direct do.  We got a strong selection of DC’s heaviest hitters, though, including number three in their power trio, Wonder Woman, paired off against one of her greatest foes, Ares!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Wonder Woman and Ares were released in the third series of DC Minimates, which is probably my favorite line-up for the whole line.  Wonder Woman was the headliner for the assortment, and as such was actually the focus character on the packaging.

WONDER WOMAN

This would mark the first of Wonder Woman’s three Minimates.  Unlike Superman and Batman, she was not a part of the preceding C3 line, though her prototype had been shown off before the line’s demise.  This one followed a lot of cues from that, while still remaining somewhat distinct.  She’s built on the usual base body, and as such stands about 2 1/2 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  She uses three sculpted add-on pieces, for her hair and her bracelets.  The hair was new to this figure (and would be used again for the next two ‘mates), while the bracelets came from the C3 line.  The hair piece may not be super detailed by today’s standards, but it’s still a sharp, cleanly sculpted piece, which works quite well for the character’s classic appearance.  Her paintwork is nice and clean.  Though Series 3 would be DC Minimates‘ first series to extensively use properly colored plastic, Wonder Woman was unique in following the Series 1/2 style of painting all but the head.  It doesn’t make a huge difference in her appearance, but it does mean she slots in more seamlessly with the Superman and Batman from Series 1.  And, honestly, that’s probably the best course of action. Wonder Woman is packed with her lasso of truth, a newly sculpted piece.  It’s a shame there’s no way to attach it to her waist, but it’s a nice piece regardless.

ARES

When it comes to distinctive Wonder Woman foes, there’s pretty much Ares and Cheetah to choose from.  DC Minimates would produce both, but Ares got to go first.  He’s seen here in his classic blue armored appearance, which has always been my personal favorite for the character, as well as being the most toy friendly.  One of the things that separated DC Minimates from other lines was its use of the larger-scaled base body for larger characters.  Ares was one of those characters, so he’s got an extra half inch on Diana.  Ultimately, whether the larger bodies worked or not was a personal preference thing, but I do find it works particularly well for a character like Ares, who’s just generally depicted as being larger than those around him.  Ares had seven add-on pieces, for his helmet, cape, skirt, wrist bracers, and shin guards.  All of them are unique to him.  These parts really show DCD’s commitment to a higher level of detailing, and definitely rival the modern ‘mates in terms of depth of detail.  And, with the larger base body, the parts are also able to be far more compact to the body than at the smaller scale, making for a more solidly assembled ‘mate.  His paintwork is quite impressive in its own right.  Unlike Wonder Woman, he’s molded in his proper colors for the most part, allowing the paint to actually go more towards accent work.  The best of it’s definitely on his torso, which uses dramatic lighting to nicely outline the texturing of his armor.  It’s a pretty cool effect.  Ares was packed with a sword and an axe, truly appropriate for the God of War.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As with every other series of DC Minimates, I got Series 3 new from Cosmic Comix back in the day.  It wasn’t the set I was most excited about in the set, but I was pleasantly surprised by it after opening it.  Wonder Woman is a solid rendition of an essential character, and is a selling point for that reason.  Ares, however, is the real star for me, and has long been one of my favorite figures to come out of this line.

#1878: Gambit

GAMBIT

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“Gambit has the mutant ability to take the energy of any object and put it to his own use. That use usually means turning the object into a deadly weapon. Gambit is a martial arts expert with a lightning-fast karate kick. When battling multiple attackers, Gambit relies on his Techno Battle Staff for additional assault power.”

As someone whose primary introduction to the X-Men came from their ’90s cartoon, I have an almost unhealthy appreciation for their resident Cajun sleazeball, one Remy LaBeau, aka Gambit.  I am, of course, not at all alone in this, which has helped to keep him relatively high on the action figure count.  Today, I’m jumping back to the beginning, and taking a look at his very first figure (more or less).

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Gambit was initially released in the second series of Toy Biz’s X-Men line.  Following the success of the cartoon, he was subsequently re-released in the “Classics” assortment a few years later.  The figure reviewed here is technically the later release, though the only actual difference between the two is the accessory selection.  This figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 9 points of articulation.  Gambit’s sculpt is fairly typical of an early Toy Biz figure, meaning he’s a little more rudimentary than later offerings would be.  He’s slightly scrawny, and the details are a little softer.  This is definitely a kinder, friendlier looking Gambit than you usually see.  It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s definitely different than other Gambits.  His trench coat seems to have thrown Toy Biz for a bit of a loop, as well.  Rather than sculpting it onto him, they opted for a removable piece…mostly, anyway.  The bulk of the jacket is just a thin plastic get-up, not unlike the capes from the old Kenner Star Wars figures.  It’s not terribly sturdy, and isn’t really the sort of thing we ever saw again from them.  It looks alright, but certainly limits his playability when in place.  What’s slightly odd is the decision to make the collar of this jacket a sculpted element, which is part of the figure’s torso.  This means it’s always there, even when the coat is off of the figure.  Why not just leave the collar as part of the coat?  Who knows.  Well, someone at Toy Biz probably knew, I guess.  Gambit’s paintwork is alright.  It’s pretty basic, and gets the general gist of the character down.  There’s a lot of pink, which is really the most important thing when you get right down to it.  It does get a handful of details wrong, though, such as keeping the sleeves of the shirt pink (rather than matching with the pants as they did in the comics), and the pink squares on the sides of his legs are a different pattern than usually seen.  The original release of Gambit included his staff, while the re-release included the bandolier and knives (presumably meant to stand in for his playing cards) from Longshot.  Gambit has an action feature, a kicking action, which is an interesting choice for the character.  It’s also not implemented incredibly well, because it’s default state is actually with the leg extended, meaning the latch is in a constant state of strain when he’s in a basic standing pose.  The end result is a figure that you will commonly find with his leg forever stuck at a 90 degree angle.  Fortunately, this isn’t the case with my figure, but I’ve seen my fair share of figures that weren’t so lucky.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I don’t recall exactly where I got Gambit, but I know I was with my parents, and it was very early into my collecting because it was before we moved into the house that they’ve been in since I was four.  So, somewhere in late ’95?  Anyway, despite how harsh I may have been on this figure in the actual review segment, it’s worth noting that this remains my very favorite Gambit figure to date, and just one of my favorite X-Men figures in general.

#1877: Ultimate Alien Warrior

ULTIMATE ALIEN WARRIOR — BLUE

ALIENS (NECA)

I have this running gag with my family where we all refer to Aliens as one of my favorite Christmas movies.  It all stems from me setting up some last minute decorations on the 23rd of December one year, and being a little Christmas movie-d out, I threw on Aliens, since it’s kind of my favorite movie.  The thing is, there’s kind of a solid rhythm to it, so it just kind of stuck, and now it feels weird to have a Christmas without it.  So, I guess this review is me starting to get into the holiday spirit?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Ultimate Alien Warrior is NECA’s latest entry in their ever-expanding Aliens line.  It’s a stand-alone, boxed release, just like all of the other “Ultimate” offerings they’ve been doing, shipping in cases split between the two color variants: brown and blue.  Both figures were shown off a ways back (like, more than a year ago), and seemed to be stricken with quite a few delays, but they’re here now, and that’s the important thing.  The figure reviewed here is the blue variant, because that’s my favorite version.  The Xeno stands 8 inches tall and has 39 points of articulation.  He uses the new and improved Aliens Warrior body, which we got a preview of with the Concept Xeno that was packed with the Burke figure last year.  As I noted in that figure’s review, the body is aesthetically very similar to the Series 1 Xeno body, but it’s far more posable, and just generally sturdier than the prior body was.  The details also look to be a little sharper, but this could just be improvements in the manufacturing process.  This figure, of course, trades in the domed head of the last one for a more Aliens-accurate ridged head.  I think it’s just the same one we saw on the earlier figures, which seems sensible enough.  This new Xeno’s paintwork is, of course, heavy on the blue accenting, as I mentioned above.  This replicates the lighting scheme of the movie a bit more accurately.  What’s quite impressive about this particular release is that it’s a lot more subtle than prior offerings, and it melds the blue with some varieties of brown, making it even more clear that the blue is more of a lighting thing.  Essentially, it matches the Warrior to NECA’s Alien Queen figure, which definitely works for me.  Prior Xenos have been sans-accessories, but as an Ultimate release, this one’s actually nicely accessorized.  There’s the egg and face hugger combo like we saw with the half-Bishop, as well as a newborn chestburster, previously seen in the creature pack.  It’s always nice to get some extras of these, and especially nice to see the Xeno actually get something for a change.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When NECA’s Aliens line launched, I was pretty firm on only getting six Xenos total (because that’s the number of Xeno suits used in the film; it’s a very geeky thing).  I long ago surpassed that.  But, back in the Series 2 days, when I had just gotten my first Blue Warrior, I thought I might actually be able to stick to it, because he was my favorite and I didn’t think he could be surpassed.  Then, while I was taking photos for my Queen review, I picked up the blue guy, and his leg didn’t come with him.  At this point, he was rather expensive to replace, so I just solemnly placed him at the back of my display.  Needless to say, when NECA announced the Ultimate offerings, I was thrilled, and now that I have this guy in hand, he’s undoubtedly my favorite Xeno figure.  I’m glad to have a blue leading the pack again!

This guy was purchased from my friends at All Time Toys.  As of this writing, the figure is still in-stock, so if you’re interested in this figure, or are looking for other cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#1876: Supreme Leader Snoke – Throne Room

SUPREME LEADER SNOKE — THRONE ROOM

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“The Shadowy commander of the First Order, Supreme Leader Snoke prefers to operate from a distance, looming over his underlings in the form of an immense hologram.  As the First Order rallies, this master of the Dark Side emerges from the shadows to seize victory.”

Hey, you guys wanna talk about something that’s not at all divisive in the slightest?  Well, than I’m afraid you’ve come to the wrong place, because not only am I looking at a Last Jedi figure, but I’m looking at one of the most divisive characters in the movie, one Supreme Leader Snoke.  I long for the days when I was just reviewing Captain Phasma figures…

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Supreme Leader Snoke was a GameStop-exclusive Black Series offering…well, this specific release was, anyway.  The actual Snoke figure, sans the big throne, was released as part of the main Black Series line-up as well.  More on that later.  The figure stands 7 inches tall and he has 31 points of articulation.  His sculpt is unique to him because, quite frankly, who else would you use it for?  The head and hands are the best parts to be sure, matching up pretty nicely with Snoke’s actual look from the movie.  The details are sharp and well-defined, and he definitely looks unique.  The majority of his sculpt isn’t actually meant to be seen, because like yesterday’s Zuckuss figure, Snoke is a mixed media affair.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t work out quite as well for him as it did for the Zuckster.  Snoke looks like an old guy in a worn out bathrobe.  Not exactly the most imposing look, and certainly on the goofier side when compared even to his on-screen counterpart.  There’s just something about the way the bone sits, and the way the stitching is frayed, and how it’s fitted to him, that just makes him look like something of a lumpy mess.  I understand the need for the cloth robe, especially with the throne and everything, but the execution just isn’t there.  His paintwork is at least respectable.  His exposed skin has a nice variety of coloring and detailing to it, which accents the best parts of the sculpt.  The main line’s version of Snoke was without accessories, but the big selling point of this release was his thone.  It’s a sizable piece, with some really sharp detail work.  And, even if you don’t like Snoke, it’s a generic enough design to work for all sorts of crazed fictional despots.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I honestly don’t have any attachment to Snoke as a character.  That extends back to his appearance in TFA.  So, his appearance in TLJ didn’t exactly excite me into a toy-buying frenzy.  But you’ve read the review, and you know I bought this sucker already.  You may ask me “how did you get here?”  And you may ask me “my god, what have you done?”  Well, the answer to both of those Talking Heads-esque questions lies in Hasbro’s poor line management.  The nature of Snoke’s role in TLJ was, of course, kept rather in the dark, but given how TFA ended, they undoubtedly thought he was going to be very prominent, so they released him two different ways: with and without the throne.  Presumably, they thought this would be necessary to meet all of that crazy Smoke demand out there.  And then the movie came out, and there were two widely available releases of the same basic figure, based on a character that most people didn’t have a whole lot of reason to buy, so neither release moved particularly well.  This one specifically lingered, what with the higher price tag and the whole “shipping in cases of himself”, and perhaps the fact that the corresponding Kylo exclusive didn’t show up for another couple of months.  Anyway, the point is, Snoke ended up on super clearance at Super Awesome Fiancee’s store, so I ended up getting him for just a few dollars.  Snoke himself is okay, but not terribly impressive.  The throne, on the other hand, is actually pretty darn cool, and it’s potential for outside use makes it really worth the purchase.

#1875: Zuckuss

ZUCKUSS

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“A Gand bounty hunter, Zuckuss heeded the Empire’s call for mercenaries to locate the Millennium Falcon and bring her fugitive crew to justice, receiving his orders on the bridge of Darth Vader’s Super Star Destroyer.”

I’ve established a loose ranking of Empire Strikes Back’s bounty hunters throughout my various Black Series reviews of them, and if you’ve been following those, you’ll know that my top three slots (IG-88, Bossk, and 4-LOM) have already been covered.  So, where does that leave today’s entry, Zuckus?  I’d probably stick him in the number 4 slot, though it’s largely due to his pairing with 4-LOM.  It just feels odd to break those two up.  And, it would seem that Hasbro agrees, since they always release them in close proximity to each other.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Zuckuss is a Disney Store-exclusive Star Wars: The Black Series offering, who started showing up within the last month.  He is one of three exclusives for the line that all hit at the same time, and he’s another displaced TRU-exclusive, though there was evidently enough time to at least remove the sticker from him.  The figure is 5 1/2 inches tall (Zuckuss was the shortest of the Bounty Hunters) and he has 26 points of articulation.  Zuckuss is a brand-new sculpt, and he falls back a bit more on the earlier Black Series tendency for mixed media affairs.  He’s got an underlying sculpt, with a cloth robe over top, and an overlay piece holding it all together.  It’s all *technically* removable, but it’s gonna be a pain to get it off and back on, and he underlying body isn’t really designed to be seen, so I elected to leave mine in place.  while some of the earlier mixed-media offerings from this line were a bit iffy in execution, I think it works out a lot better with this figure.  The cloth sections are definitely better tailored on this figure than prior figures, and the additional overlay piece helps to keep everything more properly shaped.  As far as visible sculpted pieces, the head and hands definitely show some very strong work; the texturing on the gloves is quite realistic, and the head matches nicely not only with his on-screen appearance, but also pairs well with the prior 4-LOM figure.  The bulk of the paintwork on Zuckuss is on the head, which has a dark wash to help bring out its details.  After so many figures without any such detailing, it’s nice to see Hasbro returning to it.  Zuckuss’s only accessory is his distinctive blaster, which fits nicely in his hand.  It’s a little bit on the smaller side, but given all of the other work that’s been put into this figure, it’s acceptable.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Since picking up 4-LOM, I’ve been anxiously awaiting Zuckuss’s release.  After a particularly bad day at work, Super Awesome Fiancee was looking to cheer me up, so she took me to the closest Disney Store, where I had no trouble finding him.  He’s a fun figure, and he brings us one step closer to a complete line-up of the Executor Bounty Hunters!

#1874: Boba Fett – Prototype Armor

BOBA FETT — PROTOTYPE ARMOR

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Before he put on the familiar Mandalorian armor from the Star Wars saga, this notorious bounty hunter was initially envisioned as a “Super Trooper” in all-white armor. This special figure captures the beginning of a character that has become a legend who is both respected and feared across the galaxy…Boba Fett”

Yesterday, I looked at a rather new Black Series release.  Today, I’m jumping back to rather close to the line’s beginning, with a look at one of its earliest exclusive offerings.  Both of the line’s first two exclusives were of the Boba Fett variety.  While the initial figure was really just an exclusive accessory, the follow-up was a little more unique…provided your definition of unique is “common repaint of a popular character that crops up just about every time he gets a new mold.”  Eh, close enough.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Prototype Armor Boba Fett was the very first Walgreens-exclusive Black Series figure, first arriving on shelves in the fall of 2014, alongside the non-exclusive Darth Vader,  Jedi Luke, and Chewbacca.  He’s just a straight repaint of the SDCC/Series 2 Boba Fett mold, as is to be expected.  As such, he stands 6 inches tall and has 23 points of articulation.  It remains a strong sculpt, on par with more recent offerings (which is probably why Hasbro’s going to be doing a straight re-issue of the standard figure later this year).  If you want to get really finicky, the helmet shouldn’t have a dent in it, and his rocket pack should have barbs at the tip of it, but it’s close enough to warrant the cheaper repaint.  Another slight point of change is the cloth cape piece, but this one’s a little more warranted.  The actual prototype suit made use of a Star Wars-branded towel, which I suppose wouldn’t fit with the overall serious aesthetic of the figure.  So, instead, it’s white with a grey stripe.  The paint is where the important work is at, and he’s actually more than a Fett figure molded in straight white, which is certainly a nice surprise.  He’s got a slightly darker toned jumpsuit (as the real prototype suit had), and a few smaller details assorted throughout.  Boba is packed with the same pairing of guns as his standard release, in a straight black.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When this figure hit, I was being far more picky about which Black Series figures I would be picking up, so I was more interested in Boba’s assortment-mates than he himself.  But I’ve subsequently had a change of heart about such things, so when I came upon this guy for only a little higher than his original retail at 2nd Chance Toyz, I was an easy mark.  Is he the greatest figure ever?  No, but he’s got all of the pluses of the original release, and that means he makes for a fun toy.

#1873: Tobias Beckett

TOBIAS BECKETT

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Beckett is a survivor, always quietly working out angles to come out ahead. He’s assembled a team of specialized scoundrels to carry out risky but profitable heists.”

In a lot of ways, Solo doesn’t get the recognition it deserves.  Fortunately for fans of the movie, The Black Series is one place it does get its proper due…or at least is going to in the very near future.  We’ve already gotten the young versions of Han, Chewbacca, and Lando, as well as Qi’ra and the Range Trooper.  Following those up, is Han’s mentor, Mal Reynolds knowledge and generally Woody Harrelson-esque dude, Tobias Beckett!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Tobias Beckett is figure 68 in Hasbro’s The Black Series line-up.  He shipped in the early fall assortment of the line, alongside Bespin Han and the Rebel Fleet Trooper.  Beckett is seen here in his standard heist gear, which he wears from the train heist onward.  While I was definitely a fan of his Imperial disguise look, this is his main appearance, and is definitely the best choice for this figure.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and has 27 points of articulation.  Beckett’s sculpt is unique to this figure.  It’s a pretty decent offering, though I think when compared to the really strong offerings we’ve gotten so far from the Solo stuff, he’s maybe a little more rudimentary.  It’s mostly how the articulation is worked into it; the mid-torso joint in particular is a little jarring, as are the hips.  In addition, the double holsters are rather restricting to the hip movement, making the awkward joints seem even more unnecessary.  On the plus side, his long coat hides a lot of this, and is one of my favorite parts of the sculpt.  His likeness is a decent match for Harrelson.  The hair, which is a separate piece, is a little bulky, but it’s still a respectable handling of his somewhat scraggly hair from the movie, especially at this scale.  The paintwork on Becket is pretty decent, but again, seems like a very slight step down from the other Solo figures.  He’s got a printed face, but it seems a little blurrier than other figures.  It’s still pretty solid, though, and his general color scheme matches up well with his on-screen appearance.  Beckett is packed with his pair of revolver-style blasters, which can either be held or stowed in his holsters.  They’re some of the best detailed weapons from this line, continuing the upward trend of the weapons in this line.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Beckett was a little bit illusive, mostly due to a general lingering of the preceding assortment at retail.  But, I was fortunate enough to find him at a somewhat less-travelled Walmart, so ah-ha!  I liked Beckett a lot, so I’m glad to finally have him in figure form.  He’s the weakest of the Solo figures so far, but seeing as the Solo figures have been consistently my favorite Black Series figures of late, that doesn’t really hinder him. I look forward to getting the rest of his crew!

The Blaster In Question #0072: Thunderblast

BlasterInQuestion1

THUNDERBLAST

N-STRIKE 

thunderb1I’m sure quite a few if not most of you are familiar with the KISS acronym meaning “keep it simple, stupid” or some derivation of that. Well this week’s blaster deals with the slightly lesser known KISBJUOOTFBDYEHS acronym. And if any blaster can demonstrate keeping it simple by just updating one of the first blaster designs you ever had, stupid, it’s the Thunderblast.  So let’s have a look. 

THE BLASTER ITSELF

thunderb2The Thunderblast was released in 2015 as part of the N-Strike line. I know it’s got the Elite style blue and white color scheme, but the box just says N-Strike, no Elite here. It uses possibly one of the simplest firing mechanisms ever used in a Nerf blaster, a system referred to as a HAMP or hand-actuated manual pump, I think. In essence, you load one of the rockets onto the spindle, push the fore-grip forward and slam it back as hard as you can. The harder you slam, the more power behind the rocket. Of course, the act of vigorously slamming back a fore-grip will do terrible things to your accuracy, but we’re talking about Nerf here, how accurate can you possibly be?  This system, albeit in a very different form factor, is virtually identical to the system in the very first Nerf blaster I ever owned, the NB-1 from 1992 back when Nerf was made by Kenner, and even then, the design was used on earlier toys like a foam Batarang launcher. Bet you weren’t expecting a Batman name-drop in this Nerf rocket launcher review. Coming back to the Thunderblast, while the mechanics on the inside haven’t changed much, I am glad they changed the ergonomics. While the NB-1 will always have a special place in my heart, if I’m honest, the grips on that thing are small and blocky in contrast to the TB’s large contoured grips, even allowing for vertical or horizontal fore-grips. The TB also has a stock, something it has over the NB. Granted it’s not the best stock, but it’s fine. There’s a curved section on the underside that’s meant to allow you to seat the blaster up on top of your shoulder like a proper rocket launcher, but what this does is reduce the length of pull so much that your dominant arm ends up sticking out to the side like an awkward chicken wing. The thought is still appreciated. You can shoulder the blaster like a rifle, but the way the extra rockets are stored means you’re basically shooting from the hip from your shoulder… kind of. I’m trying to say they block any kind of aiming you might attempt. Performance is all over the place, given that the power behind each shot is fully dependent on the user, but overall, if you’re at least of teenage years with average upper body strength, you should be able to launch rockets pretty far. Interestingly, because the rockets are so wide, even a jacked up shot from the tuberculosis doesn’t hurt as much as a standard shot from an Elite blaster, but it your younger siblings don’t know that, just the presence that a rocket launcher has can be quite effective for intimidation. And that’s something the New Balance didn’t have. The consumption comes packaged with 2 rockets. I know in my pictures it has 3 but I think it looks better with 3. 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

I fully accept that at this point, a blaster like the Thunderblast isn’t exactly practical, but the homage to older designs does appeal to me. That and the fact that it’s a rocket launcher. It did kind of bum me out initially when I saw it didn’t have a trigger, but if we’ve learned anything from the Modulus Mediator barrel, it’s that Nerf still knows how to do pressurized air blasters, so who knows? Maybe we’ll see a revamp of the Titan one day.