#2001: Dryden Vos

DRYDEN VOS

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

The public face of the Crimson Dawn crime syndicate, Dryden Vos is a contradiction: a pitiless enforcer known as a gangster of wealth and taste.  His good manners shouldn’t be mistaken for weakness, though: he can change from generous host to ruthless killer in a moment.”

Solo‘s antagonist Dryden Vos had quite a time making it into toy form, largely due to the character having even more of a time making it to the big screen.  He was originally to be played by actor Micheal K. Williams, who filmed his scenes wearing motion-capture gear in order to facilitate the character being a CGI character of some sort.  When Ron Howard took over as the film’s director, Williams was unavailable for re-shoots, and the character was still without an actual final design.  Short on time and money, Howard cast his frequent collaborator Paul Bettany (whose text asking for a role is so perfectly in character) in the part, and changed his design from a CGI monster to…Paul Bettany, but with some scars.  Ultimately, it seems to have worked out pretty well, as Bettany’s turn as Vos was one of my favorite parts of the movie.  Of course, all of the shifting around with the character meant that he was almost completely absent from merchandise.  His first figure from Hasbro arrived on shelves almost a whole year after the initial Solo product launch, and I’ll be looking at it today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Dryden Vos is figure 79 in the Star Wars: The Black Series line-up.  He’s from the most recent assortment of figures, which just started showing up last month.  He’s one of two Solo figures in the line-up, the other being a Mudtrooper Han variant.  Dryden has two looks in the film, both following a fairly similar theme.  This figure is based on his initial appearance, when meeting with Han and Tobias after their botched heist.  Of the two designs, it’s the more visually striking, thus making it a solid choice for the figure.  He stands a little over 6 1/4 inches tall (Bettany’s a tall guy) and he has 29 points of articulation.  Dryden’s sculpt is an all-new affair, and it certainly captures Vos’ svelte nature pretty well.  As is common with Black Series sculpts, he can look a little off in some more extreme poses, but for the most part it works.  The head sports a pretty spot-on Bettany likeness, building on the already solid likeness we saw on last year’s Vision figure.  Dryden’s rather distinctive jacket/half-cape combo is rendered here through a separate overlay piece, which can be a little finicky when posing his left arm, but is otherwise a really sharp addition to the figure.  I’m glad they didn’t go the cloth route for this one and risk losing the visual sharpness of the design.  The piece *can* be removed from the figure, but it really doesn’t serve him well to do so, nor do we see him in this outfit without it, so on him it will stay.  There is one small inaccuracy to this figure’s sculpt: his thumbs.  One of the few “alien” aspects of the character’s design were his oddly pointy thumbs, a feature that this figure lacks.  That said, it’s a minor feature, and one that most people are likely to miss.  It hardly holds the figure back.  Dryden’s paintwork is full of nice, very subtle work, keeping all those darkly colored pieces of the costume distinct from each other.  The most impressive work is definitely on the face, though.  In the film, Dryden’s scars become redder and more visible when he gets angry, a feature replicated here through thermo-sensitive paint.  At room temperature, Dryden’s scars are faint, but when exposed to cold, they’ll flare up to a dark red.  It’s a really fun touch, and something that could be easily overlooked.  Dryden is packed with his pair of distinctive knives, which he uses to dispatch those who disappoint him in true Star Wars villain fashion.  Like Dryden himself, these are temperature sensitive, and will exhibit a bright orange hue at the ends when exposed to cold, simulating how they power up in the film.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I really liked Dryden in the film, and I was definitely bummed when no figures of him were available.  It’s been a long wait, but this guy hit Amazon for retail, allowing me to snag him pretty quickly.  Though perhaps not the franchise’s most pivotal character, Dryden is high in the running for my favorite Star Wars villain, and his figure absolutely did not disappoint.  He rounds out an already pretty awesome set of Solo figures.  Now, is it too much to ask for a Qi’ra that actually matches him?

#2000: Batman

BATMAN

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (HOT TOYS)

Did you see the number?  Did you see it?  Yes, you read it correctly faithful reader, today marks my 2000th review on this here site.  That’s…well, that’s a lot.  It honestly doesn’t feel all that long ago that I reviewed Rescue Cap for my 1000th, and, like that review, this one marks the departure of a consistent player around these parts.   Goodbye starting numeral 1, and welcome starting numeral 2.  Now, review #0001 was a Batman figure, so I suppose it’s only appropriate that #2000 should be another Batman.  There are, of course, two notable differences.  Firstly, as with most of my monumental reviews, this one comes from the high-end world of Hot Toys.  Secondly, where that prior figure was based on Batman Forever, this one is instead from the Nolan films.  Which were the most modern take on the character when I got this guy, but, alas, not the case anymore.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Batman was figure DX12 in Hot Toys’ Movie Masterpiece Series.  This marks my second look at a DX figure, following up the Battle-Damaged T-800 from all the way back in review #0050.  As I noted there, the DX line are an even more high-end subset of the Movie Masterpiece Series, focusing more on tentpole characters and giving them a larger variety of accessories and features.  This was the third time Batman got a DX release, and it was designed to pair off with the DX11 Dark Knight Joker.  Of course, seeing as this figure hit in 2012, he ended up pulling a bit of double duty.  He’s officially branded The Dark Knight Rises, and is meant to go with that subset of figures.  However, it’s the same costume in both movies, with only a very minor difference between them, allowing HT to tie him in with the Joker figure as well (and, in fact, this figure’s presence in the DX11’s solicitation shots let us know he was coming before we got an official confirmation).  The figure stands just shy of 12 inches tall and has over 30 points of articulation.

Batman was sporting two different head sculpts for this release.  The first is his masked appearance, which is, for the most part, a slightly simpler sculpt than we tend to see from Hot Toys.  This is film accurate, of course, since it’s replicating his smooth-plated helmet from the movie.  Prior TDK Batmen had some troubles with getting the helmet’s shape right, but it’s pretty darn spot-on here.  The head is designed with quite a bit of versatility in mind.  Firstly, since he’s a DX figure, he features PERS aka the “Parallel Eye Rolling System,” which allows for his eyes to be repositioned as you see fit.  It works a little differently here than it did with the T-800; the head is more easily removable, so the mechanism is accessed more directly, and requires a special tool.  I find I prefer this layout, since it means the head doesn’t have any odd seams.  Furthering the versatility are three interchangeable faceplates, with calm, scowling, and angry options.  All three have decent likenesses of Christian Bale, and they replicate his expressions from the film well enough, though they can certainly look goofy in some poses.  One last notable point about the head is its connection to the neck.  Rather than the usual ball-joint, it’s connected with a magnet, presumably to make for easier removal for accessing the features.  Ultimately, it feels a little gimmicky, and makes his head fall of a little more than I’d like.  The second head is an unmasked appearance, and it’s my favorite of the two.  It’s definitely the best unmasked Bale HT put out, and matches the sort of intense stare that Bale always had in the films.  It also features a removable collar piece, should you wish to use this head somewhere other than on the Batman suit.

Said Bat-suit was a major selling point of this particular release.  Prior versions of this design had used a molded rubber body suit, which limited the posabilty, resulted in softer detailing, and didn’t exactly hold up all that well over time (to say nothing of the DX02’s issues of weeping plastic caused by an unforeseen chemical reaction).  For this figure, the suit was built in a more film accurate fashion, using more rigid plastic armored parts glued in place on a cloth body suit.  It’s still not going anywhere near super posable or anything, but the look is definitely more accurate, and it’s certainly held up a lot better over time…well, at least in the seven years that I’ve had it.

As a DX release, Batman is pretty heavily packed with extras.  In addition to the two heads and extra mouth plates, he includes the following:

  • 6 hands
  • Grapnel gun
  • Transformable sticky bomb gun
  • Light-up electronic gun
  • 2 Belts
  • 2 batarangs
  • 2 mini mines
  • Connector for the Batpod
  • Light-up display stand

The hands come in fists, gripping, and a open/batarang holding combo.  They swap out okay, but it can get a little tricky to pop them back on.  The assortment of weaponry make for some nice specific call-backs to the film, but I personally haven’t gotten much use out of anything but the batarangs.  The sticky bomb gun is magnetic, allowing for it to be attached to the equally magnetic second belt…which would be super handy if the second belt on mine could actually be opened and placed on the figure.  Oh well.  The stand’s a pretty impressive piece, being modeled on the concrete steps where he faces off against Bane towards the end of the film.  The lights are a little gimmicky, but the overall appearance is nice.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

It was the Dark Knight versions of Joker and Two-Face that got me into Hot Toys collecting in the first place, but for a while I had no Batman to go with them, because I was just never than impressed by the available Batmen.  However, this one’s announcement, alongside Bane and Catwoman from the same movie, was right as I was getting into the HT thing pretty bigh, and that was enough to get me on board, and fill out my display a bit.  Ultimately, I think this guy makes for a wicked display piece, but he’s not a figure you want to pick up and handle all that much.  Taking him down from the shelf for this review was enough to really remind me of that.  Still, there’s no denying he was HT’s best Bale Batman.

#1999: Tron

TRON

KINGDOM HEARTS (DST)

Today we’re gonna party like it’s 1999!…or 1982, perhaps.

Despite a pretty solid fanbase who seem ripe for buying cool collectibles, neither Tron nor its sequel Tron Legacy have ever had much luck in the world of toys.  The original film had a small line of figures from TOMY at the time of its release (with some re-releases many years later from NECA), but not much else.  Fortunately, Tron made its way into the Kingdom Hearts franchise, which itself has been getting a lot of toy coverage recently.  Among that toy coverage was Tron’s title character, who I’ll be taking a look at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Tron was part of Series 3 of DST’s Kingdom Hearts toyline, available two differing ways.  The specialty release included a Space Paranoids Goofy as well, but there was also a streamlined release at mass retail set-ups (like GameStop), which is the one I picked up.  The figure is technically based on Tron’s game design, which is, of course, just a slightly stylized version of his design from the original film.  The figure stands 6 3/4 inches tall and has 26 points of articulation.  The sculpt is unique to this figure, and is a reasonable offering.  If you’re experienced with DSTs Select style figures, then Tron’s pretty standard faire.  His articulation is somewhat on the restricted side, but not terrible.  The stylization really shows up in the arms and the feet, where the proportions are a little bit on the exaggerated side.  The arms are kind of skinny and the feet kind of large.  The rest of things are pretty well matched to the film design, and he’s even got a halfway decent likeness of Bruce Boxleitner on the face.  What details the sculpt doesn’t cover, the paint does.  True to the film, he’s rather monochromatic, being grey with blue accents.  The tech-y details outlined in blue look pretty sweet, and their nice and crisp.  There’s a little slop on some of the lighter blue accents, but for the most part it works out okay.  Tron is packed with one extra: a Heartless Soldier minifigure.  It’s distinctive from prior Soldiers in coloring, but ultimately of little interest to me, since I was just in it for the Tron figure (which is why the Soldier is already in someone else’s collection).  Tron doesn’t include his disk, which is a bit of a shame, but not a huge shock coming from a line that doesn’t always give Sora his keyblade.  I suppose making one of your own wouldn’t be too hard.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I have no real attachment to anything Kingdom Hearts, but I knew I wanted this guy as soon as he was shown off.  I initially thought I was going to have to pony up for the larger set, but I found this guy at a GameStop a few weeks ago, which made me pretty happy.  He’s not without his flaws.  The articulation could be a little better, and the lack of disk is annoying, but he’s pretty decent for what he is, and honestly he’s the best Tron figure you can get.

#1998: Sabretooth

SABRETOOTH

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“Sabretooth is Wolverine’s greatest enemy. Both are products of the Top-Secret Weapon X program. But instead of using his super-sharp claws and fighting abilities for good, Sabretooth became the Evil Mutants’ master assassin! Sabretooth has the same powers as Wolverine, including a mutant healing ability. What makes Sabretooth so dangerous is the fact that he’s even more savage in battle than Wolverine! When the two of them fight, it’s anyone’s guess who will win.”

Despite his connection to Wolverine, Victor Creed, better known as Sabretooth, first appeared as a foe to Iron Fist.  Like fellow X-foe Mystique, he was an example of long-time X-scribe Chris Claremont spreading the love so to speak, and introducing characters he intended to use in X-Men in some of his other books.   Whatever his source, he’s been an enduring foe for Wolverine and the X-Men, and was at the height of his popularity alongside them in the ’90s, when he got his first action figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Sabretooth was released in Series 2 of Toy Biz’s X-Men line.  He’s based on Sabretooth’s original John Byrne-designed costume, which, interestingly enough, Sabretooth had just ditched in the comics at the time of this figure’s release.  The early line was kind of plagued with things like this, which is why characters had a tendency to show up a second time pretty quickly (Sabretooth’s second figure would arrive just three series later).  The figure stands 5 inches tall and has 8 points of articulation.  Sabretooth lacked neck articulation, a surprisingly common phenomenon in the early years of the line.  Unlike other figures this happened to, Sabretooth doesn’t really have any specific gimmicks preventing a neck joint from being added, so I guess it was just a design thing.  Whatever the case, it’s a bit limiting on posing.  Sabretooth’s sculpt was unique to him.  It’s okay, but not really anything to write home about.  It leans closer to the weaker of the Series 1 sculpts than it does the stronger Series 2 sculpts.  The details are rather soft, especially on the face, the hair is rather oddly shaped, and the proportions are really on the scrawny side for a Sabretooth figure.  His paintwork is pretty basic; the standard colors are all handled decently.  The two shades of yellow for the fur and his hair are kind of close to each other, meaning they kind of blend together and look kind of odd.  Sabretooth was packed with this weird sort of claw thing to hold.  He also had an action feature, where the front plate of his stomach could be flipped back and forth.  One side is clean, while the other has claw marks, thereby simulating his healing factor.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

By the time I was collecting, this figure had vanished from shelves, replaced by his more cartoon-indicative second figure, so that was the one I had.  I picked this one up a couple of years ago second hand.  Part of his appeal was being the first copy of this guy I’d seen without horrible paint scraping on the eyes.  He’s not really a great figure…or even a particularly good figure.  I guess if you really like his original costume, that’s a plus, but it’s not even the best version of that costume on the market.

#1997: Xavier & Shaw

XAVIER & SHAW

MARVEL MINIMATES

After the critical failures of X-Men 3 and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the X-Men franchise was looking for a fresh start.  They found it in X-Men: First Class, which returned the X-Men to their original decade of the ’60s.  It was something of an unexpected hit, truth be told, so it’s merchandising was almost non-existent.  Fortunately, Minimates were there to save the day, with an assortment of TRU-exclusive two-packs.  Today, I’ll be looking at one of the film’s two leading men, Charles Xavier, alongside the film’s main antagonist, Sebastian Shaw.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Xavier and Shaw were part of the TRU-exclusive X-Men: First Class assortment of Marvel Minimates, released to coincide with the movie’s release in 2011.

XAVIER

James McAvoy had some serious shoes to fill when he took over the part of Xavier from Patrick Stewart, but he did it quite masterfully, creating a different, but still very much the same person, take on the character.  This figure opts for his flightsuit look, which is a solid choice since it a) is by far his most exciting look from the movie, and b) matches the rest of the team released in this assortment.  Xavier uses the basic body, with add-ons for his hair and his belt.  The hair is borrowed from DC Series 7’s Nightwing.  It’s not quite an exact match for the look Xavier’s sporting in the movie, but it’s close enough, and it’s a good enough piece that I’m really not going to complain about seeing it re-used.  The belt’s just a basic piece, with no detailing, used dozens of other times.  Nothing to write home about, but it gets the job down.  Xavier’s paintwork is definitely top-notch.  The likeness on the face is a very good match for McAvoy, and the detailing on the jumpsuit is just tremendous.  All of the small details and stitching are included, just s they should be.  The back of the figure is slightly less detailed than the rest, but he’s at least not totally void of detail like some less fortunate ‘mates have been.  They’ve even painted his neck yellow, differentiating his uniform from Magneto’s, just as it was in the movie.  Xavier included no accessories. A Cerebro helmet would have been nice, but this assortment’s completely re-used nature ruled that out.

SHAW

Kevin Bacon’s Sebastian Shaw was a slightly different take on the character, combining elements of Shaw’s comics counterpart with later X-foe Mr. Sinister.  The end result is a more calculating, far less hand-to-hand combat sort of a character, who was quite entertaining to watch.  Shaw uses add-ons for his hair and jacket/shirt piece.  The hair is re-used from Back to the Future Part II‘s Biff Tannen.  It’s not a perfect match for Shaw, and definitely not as close as the piece chosen for Xavier.  That said, it’s the best piece they had on hand at the time, and it’s serviceable.  The jacket is from 24‘s Tony Almeida, and is a well sculpted piece that fits the style Shaw was sporting throughout the movie.  Shaw’s paint work is not quite as complex as Xavier’s.  For the most part, it’s just the face that matters, and I gotta say, this guy doesn’t look all that much like Kevin Bacon.  I think he’s one of those people whose likeness is very dependent on his nose.  Without it, he’s very hard to convey.  Shaw also includes no accessories.  The helmet’s about the only thing I could think of to give him, and that got (rather sensibly) packed in with Magneto.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Though lacking in accessories, Xavier is an otherwise very fun figure, and once again goes to show just how far you can get without needing any new parts.  Shaw’s an important part of the movie.  That said, he’s never quite as “battle-ready” as some of the others, which translates to another “guy in a suit” Minimate, and not a particularly notable one at that.

#1996: Sideswipe

SIDESWIPE

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE (HASBRO)

In my trek into the world of Transformers, I’m kind of making my way through all of the standard classes.  I looked a Voyager Class first with Optimus, then followed that up with some Leader coverage with Magnus and Shockwave.  With the second wave of Siege product hitting right at this very minute, I’m going back and doing a little bit of catch-up, and jumping into the Deluxe Class with today’s focus, Sideswipe!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Sideswipe is one of the four figures in the first Deluxe Wave of War for Cybertron: Siege figures.  Like the rest of the line so far, he’s heavily influenced by his G1 design, which is really about as prominent as Sideswipe gets.  In his robot mode, the figure stands 5 inches tall and has 20 workable points of articulation.  Where many of the Siege figures are worn-in and battle-torn, Sideswipe’s robot mode is actually pretty clean and slick.  There’s some definite polish to the sculpt, and a lot of people have brought up that he almost looks like a mini-Masterpiece figure in this regard.  Still, as a lower price-point figure, there are some hollow sections of construction; the legs form in a way to conceal them, but the arms are just hanging out there.  Fortunately, the off-white plastic somewhat masks this issue, so he doesn’t end up looking too cheap. Sideswipe has a little bit of back-kibble where the roof of the car folds up on his back.  Like Optimus, it’s clearly there, but it’s svelte enough to not really ruin the figure’s silhouette.  Sideswipe’s original figure turned into a Lamborghini.  They obviously don’t have many of those around on Cybertron, so this figure instead turns into a slightly more generic Cybertronian sports car.  It’s not actually too far removed from Sideswipe’s usual alt-modes, but it fits the overall aesthetic of the line pretty well.  Sideswipes transformation into alt-mode was definitely the easiest of all the Siege figures I’ve picked up.  It’s quite intuitive, and not as involved as some of the others, making swapping him back and forth a rather easy endeavor.  Despite the simplicity of the transformation, the alt-mode is still a very nice piece in its own right.  It matches the robot for sleekness and holds together well.  Sideswipe is packed with two blasters, the W-10 Photo-Pulser Proton Launcher and the W-5 Gyro Blaster, which can be combined into the RR Gyrofuse Axleswitch Hyper-Blaster.  They can be held in his hands, or mounted on his shoulders, depending on your fancy.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Sideswipe was almost my first Siege figure.  When All Time first got in the deluxes in December, I came very close to buying him, but he ended up selling before I had the opportunity.  When the second round of them arrived in January, I had already gotten Optimus, but I felt like maybe the moment had passed.  You know, like a fool.  He ended up coming home with me a few weeks later, because I just kept finding myself looking at him.  I’m glad I bought one, because oh boy is he a nice figure, and a nice car.  I think this is the most I’ve enjoyed both forms of a Transformer.

As mentioned above, I picked this guy up from my friends at All Time Toys, where he is still currently in stock here.  If you’re looking for Transformers, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#1995: Captain Marvel – Starforce

CAPTAIN MARVEL — STAR FORCE

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

Using her intensive training from her days in the Air Force, Carol Danvers boldly leads an intergalactic fleet as Captain Marvel.”

Well, I gave one MCU-based Captain their due.  Why not jump on over to another?  Captain Marvel continues to perform very well at the box office, and will, without a doubt, follow in Black Panther’s footsteps, remaining in theaters even as its MCU successor Endgame arrives.  I looked at the movie’s main assortment of Marvel Legends right before the film hit theaters, but there was one figure I hadn’t managed to snag yet at that time, a variant of the main character that I’ll be taking a look at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Starforce Captain Marvel is a Target-exclusive Legends release.  She was impeccably timed, showing up at most stores within a week before or after the film’s release.  She was also a successful step forward in Target getting their exclusives up on their webstore, meaning she’s been a reasonably easy experience for most of the fans that wanted one.  As the name denotes, she’s based on Carol’s Starforce colors from the film.  The figure is a rather logical repaint of the standard Captain Marvel figure, meaning she stands the same height and has the same articulation.  While the sculpt is not a 100% perfect replica of her look from the movie, it’s still a good, solid offering, and its reuse here is kind of expected.  It’s decked out in a new color scheme, and, I have to say, I think this color set does the sculpt a lot of favors.  Obviously I’m not knocking her usual colors, but there’s something about this look that feels more dynamic and has more of a pop to it.  It makes the figure look pretty sufficiently different from the main release.  Carol gets the same masked/unmasked head selection as the standard release.  The helmeted head is understandably different, so as to match her uniform.  The unmasked head is also different, but in a much subtler, more than likely unintentional sense.  It still doesn’t look a whole lot like Brie Larson, but I’m warming up to it.  Following a trend that Hasbro’s been really getting into lately, this Carol figure isn’t *just* a Carol figure.  She also gets an extra head, hands, scarf, and rifle, allowing her to be turned into fellow Starforce member Minn-Erva.  Minn-Erva played a decently-sized role in the film, so it’s certainly nice to see her crop up, and it’s also a fantastic way of getting us an extra character out a necessary variant of the main character.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After rather easily acquiring the main assortment through All Time Toys, this figure was slightly more illusive (though mostly because I resisted doing the easier thing of just ordering one online), but I was able to find her within a week of seeing the movie.  I’m glad I did, because I really liked the Starforce design (probably owing a lot to my history as a Green Lantern fan), and it especially translates well to toy form.  Not only is the standard Carol figure really cool, but the ability to turn her into Minn-Erva makes this an essential part of the collection.  Hopefully she continues to be easy to acquire.

#1994: Captain America

CAPTAIN AMERICA

MARVEL SELECT (DST)

The retail product for the fourth Avengers film, Avengers: Endgame has officially started hitting shelves in preparation for the film’s April 26th release date.  However, with Endgame coming out just one year after its predecessor Infinity War, there’s just a touch of overlap, as the last of the IW product is still making its way to shelves.  I’m doing my best to keep up with it all (I ended up having to do a lot of picking and choosing during the onslaught of IW stuff) and to that end, I’m looking at Diamond Select Toys’ take on Captain America’s Infinity War appearance.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Captain America is one of the four Infinity War-based figures from the 2018 lineup of Marvel Select.  He ended up taking a little while to make it to shelves, and just started showing up in full force a few weeks ago.  The figure stands 7 inches tall and has 32 points of articulation.  As far as scaling goes, he’s definitely nearer the taller end of Selects.  I had ever so slightly been hoping he might follow Daredevil’s lead, and potentially be closer to Legends scaling.  Of course one can’t really blame them for sizing him this way; he’s in proper scale with most of their other offerings, which wasn’t really true if DD.  This figure has a sculpt, handled by Gentle Giant Studios (who handle most of the MCU Legends as well), which appears to have at least some parts in common with the Civil War figure. It’s really for the best that this figure arrived so long after the movie; Cap’s “Nomad” design went through quite a few changes right up to production of the film, resulting in a lot of inaccuracies on his other figures.  This one is far more accurate to the final product.  He’s got his proper hair length (which neither Hasbro figure had), as well as both gloves, properly styled, and all of the appropriate wear and tear to his uniform.  The details of the uniform are also nice and sharp, and I really dig that texture work.  The head sculpt is probably the weakest aspect of the figure.  Its detailing is on the softer side, and it doesn’t quite have a spot-on Evans likeness.  That said, the likeness is still closer than all of the Hasbro attempts barring the unmasked Civil War head and certainly an immense improvement over prior unmasked Cap heads from DST, and the softer detailing may be more linked to the paint.  Speaking of the paint, slight thickness on the head application aside, it’s not a terrible offering.  The general appearance is accurate to the film, and there’s quite a bit of accent work going on.  In addition to the accuracy of the man figure, something else that really sets this guy apart is his accessory compliment.  In addition to a selection of eight different hands, as well as a display stand, he includes his Wakandan replacement shields in both collapsed and deployed configurations.  Prior Cap figures have been lucky to get a single shield, but this one can appropriately dual weild, and the deployed versions even have a sliding segment in the front like we saw in the movie.  By far, these are the most accurate versions of the shields we got on a small scale figure, and I would count them as a major selling point.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Legends version of this Cap was definitely the biggest disappointment of that set for me. I really liked the Nomad look, and such an inaccurate figure wasn’t cutting it.  I considered the Figuarts release, but he just traded in some inaccuracies for another set of them, and lacked the shields entirely, so I passed.  Once I saw the prototype for this guy, I was definitely on-board, making him an easy buy when he showed up at Cosmic Comix when he showed up a few weeks ago.  While I’m a little bummed that the best version of this guy out there doesn’t quite fit with the rest of my IW figures, there’s no denying this is a solid figure, and he’s nice enough that I’m probably just going to fudge the scale a bit on my shelf.

 

#1993: The Ray

THE RAY

DC COMICS MULTIVERSE (MATTEL)

Following the super hero comics boom of the ’40s, there was something of a comics crash in the ’50s, which resulted in the demise of a great many of the smaller companies that had cropped up.  Perhaps the only company not completely decimated by the end of the Golden Age was National Comics, who would eventually become DC Comics (after their best-selling book, Detective Comics.  Yes, their full name is Detective Comics Comics).  They promptly went about buying up many of the other failed comics businesses, thus amassing a large selection of other companies characters to add to their growing universe.  Amongst those companies purchased was Quality Comics, whose biggest characters (barring Plastic Man and the Blackhawks) would be integrated in the DC mythos as the Freedom Fighters, a team of super heroes from Earth-X, a parallel Earth where the Nazis won World War II.  Following the collapse of the DC Multiverse during Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Freedom Fighters were worked back into the main DCU and one of their members, The Ray, was given a reasonably successful reboot.  Ray Terrill was the son of Langford “Happy” Terrill, the original Ray, and was born with sun-based super powers.  This legacy take on the Ray built up quite a cult following, but despite that spent the first 26 years of his existence with absolutely no toys.  For shame! (EDIT: I forgot the JLU figure.  Of course, that one wasn’t really available to most collectors, so I think my point still stands.  But I was technically wrong.  Technically).

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Ray is part of the “Lex Luthor Series” of the DC Comics Multiverse line, which was the second comic-based assortment following Mattel’s attempt at retooling the line at the beginning of 2018.  It technically hit shelves in November, but “technically” is the magic word here.  Experiences were very mixed on that.  Ray is based on his recent re-appearance in the DCU, following his book’s re-launch under the “Rebirth” heading.  The design is different from his prior designs, but keeps the same general spirit, and is just generally a pretty solid design.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  His size means he actually scales okay with Marvel Legends, which is actually kind of a first for a mainstream DC figure.  Also, can you believe it, that’s actually an all-new sculpt on a comic figure.  Yes, after a decade of use, it appears Mattel finally realized it was time to retire the DCUC body, and Ray is on a new base body, which I would imagine is the same one being used for the Batman Beyond, Kyle Rayner, and Kid Flash that are just now hitting.  It’s…actually not bad.  It’s not quite as sleek as a  Legends body, but it’s certainly a lot less clunky than the prior bodies, and it’s certainly nice to get a DC male who’s not smuggling bowling balls in his shoulders. Most of the articulation’s even got decent range to it.  Look at those elbows!  They go deeper than 90 degrees.  About the only real complaint I have is that he can’t quite get his arms down flat at his sides.  But he can still get into a good pose and actually hold it, which is certainly a breath of fresh air after years of getting the slowly degrading DCUC molds and their soft-detailed, loose-jointed spawn.  Even the paintwork is pretty darn good.  The gold is a nice hue, which stands out well from both the white and the black (often times, it’ll get lost on one of them), and the application’s nice and sharp.  There aren’t any obvious missing applications, and everything is cleanly applied, with minimal slop.  They’ve managed to keep the color scheme nice and striking, which is really one of the most appealing things about the character.  Ray was packed with an extra head and hands, as well as the arms for the Lex Luthor CnC (missing from my figure).  The head is the same as the standard, but with grin instead of the more stoic standard look.  It’s a small change, and I might have preferred an unmasked head or something, but I’d rather have this than nothing.  The hands swap out fists for gripping.  Why gripping?  He doesn’t have anything to hold, right?  Well, he was originally shown off with some effects pieces, but they got cut along the way, thereby making the hands kind of without purpose.  But, like the head, I’d rather have them than not.  Plus, it’s another positive change after years of figures getting stuck with open grip hands.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Okay, you’ve gotten all the way through this thing, and you, the faithful reader, might be sitting here wondering why I didn’t post this positive review of a Mattel figure yesterday, since it must clearly be some kind of prank.  Mattel’s been producing some of the worst “collector” figures on the market for years.  I mean, they couldn’t possibly have produced something decent, let alone actually good, could they?  Hey, I’m as surprised as you.  When the prototype for Ray was shown, I thought he looked alright, but Mattel’s been doing okay prototypes for god-awful figures for a little while.  I kind of expected him to follow suit.  And then like a year passed and I forgot he existed, and really wasn’t even sure he would ever see the light of day.  I never actually saw this assortment or the one that preceded it at retail, but a loose Ray was traded-in with a collection that came in at All Time Toys, and I decided to snag him.  I’m glad I did, because he’s really good.  Kind of a shame Mattel couldn’t have improved these figures sooner and kept the license.

The Blaster in Question #0078: Battle-Kata Blaster

BATTLE-KATA BLASTER

G.I. JOE: RETALLIATION (HASBRO)

“G.I. Joe is the world’s greatest special-ops fighting force with top-secret ninja training from the toughest of masters. Led by ultimate ninja commando Roadblock, these elite heroes defend the globe from the evil forces of Cobra. Fight your way to protect the innocent and defeat the guilty with the G.I. Joe Battle-Kata Blaster Toy! The adventures you imagine will sometimes call for a blade and sometimes for a blaster. This Battle-Kata Blaster toy is a 2-in-1 battle combo! In blaster mode, fire the included darts when the battle calls for marksmanship. But when your enemies move in close, switch to blade mode! You’ll be double trouble for evil with the Battle-Kata Blaster toy!”

Since its inception in 1964, the G.I. Joe brand has been subject to all sorts of changes over the years.  They were basic soldiers, peace-loving adventurers, an anti-terrorist organization full of colorful characters, ’90s action heroes, and movie stars.  And, apparently, also a gun?  Weird.  So, how about a look at some merch from the best live-action G.I. Joe movie starring the Rock, G.I. Joe: Retaliation!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Battle-Kata Blaster figure was released in 2012, as part of the mass product drop for G.I. Joe: Retaliation.  This means that, like all of the other products for Retaliation, the Blaster was on shelves almost a year before the film it was meant to tie-in to.  Yay for proper coordination of movie makers and merchandisers!  As you would expect from toyline that’s the original source of the term “action figure”, this blaster that is not at all a figure was the undisputed centerpiece of the product line.  And how could it not be?  Check out this poster!  This bad boy’s front and center!  It was going to be a star!  An up and comer! So, how’d this thing turn out in toy form?  Well, it stands 5 1/2 inches tall and it’s got…ummm, like some movement, I guess.  It’s hard to classify it as articulation.  Like, the little latch at the top moves back and forth.  And I guess the trigger counts as some movement too, though it can’t really hold any poses beyond “waiting to be pulled.”  The point is, you won’t really be getting poses beyond what you see here.  The Battle-Kata Blaster was sporting a brand new, totally unique sculpt, based on its appearance in the film…more or less.  It’s supposed to be a Colt 1911/Kriss Vector mash-up with some stuff tacked on it, and there’s kind of this brass-knuckles set-up around the grip.  It’s reasonably well-sculpted, though obviously a little softer on the details than the look from the film.  Can’t imagine why they wouldn’t want 100% accuracy on something like this.  The right side is definitely this thing’s “hero” side; the left has all manner of screws and what not visible for all to see.  The Battle-Kata definitely has some stability issues.  Keeping it upright under its own power is very difficult.  Just getting it to stay up for the photos seen here was quite a bit of trouble.  It’s going to definitely need some assistance.  As far as paint goes, there’s not really much for the Battle-Kata Blaster, since it goes for the molded plastic color approach.  Said molded plastic mostly orange and green, which everyone knows is just the most aesthetically-pleasing color scheme of all time.  But, if they don’t do it for you, Hasbro’s been kind enough to also throw in some pale grey.  You know, for kids.  Hands down, the best piece of the paint, though, is that “Caution” warning you not to swing this thing at people or animals.  Because the last thing you want a weapon to do is to harm anyone.  That’s just outlandish.  There are two action features built into the Battle-Kata.  The first is a missile launching feature, which works in conjunction with that weird trigger movement thing that was going on.  The missiles don’t go particularly far, but I guess it’s a neat gimmick.  Plus you can store the extra missiles in the two ports on the face of the blaster.  There’s also a slight transforming gimmick (because Hasbro is just all about that cross over), where you can unhook the handle from the gun and connect it to the front.  One good pull later and, boom, it’s a knife…a really warped and slightly scratched up knife.  There’s not really any way for it to like hold the knife or anything, but you can kind of rest them up against each other.  Not the best display option, but I guess it works.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Retaliation product was all sort of a strange beast, but no stranger than this one.  Movie accuracy really isn’t there and the gimmick is kind of strange.  It doesn’t scale with any of the other product either, making it an all around odd offering.  I mean, it can’t even stand on its own.  What’s it good for?  I don’t really know, but there it is nevertheless.