#2538: Joker

JOKER

THE ADVENTURES OF BATMAN AND ROBIN (KENNER)

My last Kenner Batman: The Animated Series review had me taking a look at one of the line’s patented wacky variants.  Variants were kind of central to the line’s success, covering not just Batman and Robin, but also some of their antagonists.  As I touched on in prior reviews, not all of the variants Kenner rolled out were “wacky”.  Some of them were actually quite sensible, including today’s focus, a pretty solid variant of the Joker!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

This Joker figure, known in the collector’s community as “Machine Gun Joker” because of the big machine gun accessory he included, was released in Series 2 of Kenner’s Adventures of Batman and Robin line in 1997.  He was Kenner’s fourth animated style Joker, following the basic, jetpack, and pogo stick variants.  He’s a completely show accurate figure, since Joker sported the coat and hat from time to time.  The figure stands 4 1/2 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation…provided the head hasn’t snapped off at the neck joint like mine has, thereby removing a point of articulation.  It’s okay, years of therapy have managed to get me through the loss.  This version of Joker sported an all-new sculpt, not re-using the parts from the prior variants.  It’s probably the best old school style Joker sculpt that Kenner did, for what its worth, being a fair bit more on model than the earlier versions, and just generally having cleaner detailing and a more solid overall construction.  In terms of paintwork, he’s again a bit of a step-up, correcting the issues with the bluish skin, as well as just generally getting the colors closer to their on-screen counterpart.  The application is basic, but pretty clean, and just some of Kenner’s best work, again.  Joker was packed with the machine gun I mentioned earlier in the review, as well as a bundle of TNT, complete with Joker’s face on it.  Both pieces are a touch oversized compared to the figure, but for the time, pretty straight forward, and unhampered by the gimmicks, which was pretty darn cool.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Machine Gun Joker has the distinction of being my first Joker action figure, picked up when he was brand new, on a trip to the store with my Dad.  If I recall correctly, I specifically went in looking for a Joker, since I didn’t have one, and this one was the most straight-forward Joker available at the time.  He stuck as my primary Joker figure for most of my childhood, and I’ve definitely got an attachment to it.  Honestly, I was pretty happy to find he’s just such a good figure when going back for the review.  He remains one of my favorite Joker figures.

#2537: Peter Parker

PETER PARKER

MARVEL LEGENDS RETRO COLLECTION (HASBRO)

“Peter Parker is the college student & photo-journalist who is secretly the Amazing Spider-Man!”

The civilian identities of super heroes don’t tend to be the most toyetic things, so they don’t tend to actually get toys, unless their alter ego is really well-known.  Fortunately for ol’ Peter Parker, Spider-Man is kind of up there on the list of well-known super heroes.  So, since all the way back in 1974, Peter’s been privy to the toy scene.  For the majority of the Legends run, Peter’s inclusion has been more through extra unmasked head sculpts, but now we’ve finally gotten a proper full Peter Parker figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Peter Parker is the fourth figure in the recent Spider-Man-themed assortment of the Marvel Legends Retro Collection.  Unlike the three prior figures I’ve looked at from the assortment so far, Peter actually has a direct comparison in the ’90s Toy Biz line that this set is meant to be a throw back to, which featured a standard Peter Parker figure as part of its Series 2 line-up.  That said, this figure still calls attention to the fact that these are comic figures that happen to line-up with a few animated elements by virtue of pretty much not looking like the cartoon’s version of Peter in the slightest.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 30 points of articulation.  Peter’s sculpt is technically mostly re-used, but will end up being new to most collectors, due to the Stan Lee figure that he’s patterned on not really showing up in most places yet.  Honestly, it’s a pretty clever idea having the two share parts, given their usual similar build and the fact that Stan was pretty vocal about seeing Peter as something of an author avatar.   But I can get more into that if I ever get the Stan figure.  Let’s focus on Peter.  In addition to using the new windbreaker jacket from Stan, he also uses Spider-Punk’s sneakers, as well as a new head and hands.  The hands are pretty basic in their own right, mostly just getting tweaked posing so that they can hold his camera accessory.  The head is…well, it’s an attempt at something, but I’m not certain it worked. They’re clearly going for a heavily Ditko-inspired head, which isn’t a terrible idea in its own right, since it’s a surprisingly rare thing to see.  What I’m not so big on are the permanently attached glasses.  They’re thick, goofy, and totally opaque, which really plays up the cartoony side of the figure.  If there were at least the same head sans glasses included, it wouldn’t bug me nearly as much, but it feels very limiting this way.  The paint work on this guy is probably the most basic in the set.  It’s a lot of neutral colors.  They look fine, but I was a little bummed by the stark white shoes; the ’90s figure had actual colors, and I wouldn’t have minded seeing those crop up again here.  Also, they’ve painted the eyes under the glasses, which seems a bit silly, given that no one’s ever going to see them.  In terms of extras, Peter’s got the camera I mentioned above, as well as an alternate spider-sense head, which is certainly an improvement on the standard head, but still falls into that slightly limiting category.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was quite fond of the old Toy Biz Peter Parker figure, and he’s definitely one of the best civilian figures out there.  The prospect of an update was definitely okay by me.  The final figure’s certainly not bad, and I can’t really directly fault anything about the figure.  It’s just a few minor things that hold him back.  That said, throwing on the previous unmasked Spider-Man head actually looks pretty solid.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this guy for review.  If you’re looking for Marvel Legends, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2536: Electro

ELECTRO

MARVEL LEGENDS RETRO COLLECTION (HASBRO)

“As the villain Electro, Max Dillon wields full control over electricity in his never-ending quest to defeat Spider-Man!”

When Marvel was putting together Spider-Man: The Animated Series in the ’90s, James Cameron was still signed on to put together a live action theatrical film.  He had chosen Electro and Sandman as the villains of the piece, and they were subsequently left out of the cartoon, so as to avoid any brand confusion or competing versions of characters (it’s something that Marvel gave up on pretty quickly, but that DC still holds onto fervently to this day), but as the show got well into its run, it became clear that Cameron’s film wasn’t going to materialize.  Sandman never got to make the transition over to the show since they’d already worked in Hydro-Man to replace him), but Electro did manage to make it over, albeit re-imagined as the Red Skull’s son.  That late into the cartoon, the toyline wasn’t quite as strictly tied to the animation, so Electro never got released on that classic packaging, but, well, here he is now?  Sort of?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Electro is the third figure from the recent Spider-Man-themed assortment of the Marvel Legends Retro Collection.  He’s also the third not to have a ’90s counterpart he’s recreating, but at least in his case, there actually was an Electro figure in the line, just after they had changed the packaging.  This marks Electro’s third time getting the Legends treatment, the second under Hasbro’s tenure.  The last one was a more modern-inspired take on the character, while this one goes strictly classic.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  The last Electro figure was built on the Pizza Spidey, and I thought that worked pretty well for the character.  Hasbro seems to have felt rather differently, so he’s been moved all the way up to the Spider-UK body for this release.  It seems kind of bulky for how I usually think of Electro, but he’s a character who’s fluctuated greatly in size from artist to artist, so this one feels valid too.  Ultimately, I don’t actually dislike it as much as I initially thought I would, and it’s not like the UK body is a bad one by any stretch of the imagination.  Electro re-uses the classic-style head from the previous release, which is honestly just sensible, since it’s not like Hasbro was ever going to do a better classic Electro head.  This one’s just pitch-perfect for the character, and even manages to somehow not look completely ridiculous on this bulked up body.  He also gets a new set of forearms, which add his little electric bolts from the tops of his gloves, completing that classic look.  Electro’s paint work is pretty standard.  It’s very classic, and very bold.  It changes from the slightly metallic shades of the prior figure to just strict yellow and green, and also differentiates the head sculpt by actually painting in the eyes this time around.   On the accessories front, this figure amends the one major flaw of the last Electro by including hands with and without the electric effects.  I’m glad to see them learning.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was very lucky to actually get ahold of the Space Knight Venom Electro, and I was pretty happy with that release, but I figured this guy was coming sooner than later, especially as Hasbro filled in that Sinister 6 line-up.  Personally, I wasn’t terribly excited for him, since, as I noted, I was pretty happy with the prior release.  I also wasn’t big on the base body choice on the prototype.  But, I’m not really turning away any Legends right now, so I bought him along with the rest of the set.  Honestly, he’s better than I’d expected him to be, and it’s really a toss-up as to which version I prefer.  They’re both very nice.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this guy for review.  If you’re looking for Marvel Legends, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2535: Gwen Stacy

GWEN STACY

MARVEL LEGENDS RETRO COLLECTION (HASBRO)

“A bright student with a keen scientific mind, Gwen Stacy is girlfriend to Peter Parker.”

Hasbro’s Retro Collection sub-line of Marvel Legends is loosely meant to replicate the Toy Biz toys of the ’90s, which typically means aping at least a little bit of what the ’90s cartoons were doing.  Today’s figure, however, kind of spits in the face of that whole thing, since by the time Toy Biz was making Marvel figures, Gwen Stacy was about two decades deceased, and Peter had been with Mary Jane Watson for about half of that time.  That, and the fact that Gwen was just a civilian with no costume or anything, meant that Gwen was absent from the Toy Biz Spider-Man line*.  Hasbro has, nevertheless, decided to include her in their latest round of Retro-inspired figures, and I’m not really going to fight them on any of it at this point.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Gwen Stacy is the second figure in the recent Spider-Man-themed Marvel Legends Retro Collection assortment, which just started hitting retail in the last month or so.  She marks the second of the two figures I’ve looked at so far that don’t actually really fit in the packaging style the line is emulating, but, honestly, that’s become something of a running theme with these figures.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and has 27 points of articulation.  Gwen uses the Phoenix body as a starting point, but is mostly made up of new parts, with only the legs and hands ultimately being re-used.  Everything else is new to this figure, and that’s probably for the best.  Gwen is seen here in her attire from “The Night Gwen Stacy Died,” a suitable choice for her, given it not only captures the spirit of the character well, but is also a pretty slick look, and by far her most memorable design.  The sculpt does a pretty solid job of capturing her design from the comics, and just generally making her look as one might expect Gwen to look.  There’s some really nice texture work on her sweater, and both her jacket and hair get a nice bit of dynamic flow to them, which helps keep her from looking too static.  The head sits a touch high on the neck for my taste, and I wouldn’t have minded seeing a different set of hands used (I’m getting a little tired of that splayed oped hand), but the sculpt is overall a good translation of her design into three dimensions.  Gwen’s paintwork is overall pretty solidly handled.  It’s clean, and it gets the job done.  I think I might have liked her jacket to maybe be a slightly brighter shade, just to give her a little bit more pop, but the application is all pretty clean, and she doesn’t look bad in the slightest.  In terms of accessories, Gwen gets a handful of items that all seem…misplaced?  The big one that caused a tiny bit of controversy was the Mary Jane head sculpt.  Some people misread it as Hasbro saying that Peter’s love interests are interchangeable, and were rather miffed at the thought of putting MJ in an outfit that is so clearly linked to Gwen.  Of course, I see it more along the lines of Mystique‘s Lilandra head, or Skullbuster’s Reese head, where they *can* be used on the body they’re included with, but are more meant to give collectors a head that can go on another body, effectively giving them two figures in one.  I myself like how the MJ looks on Jessica Jones’ body, albeit with a hand-swap as well.  Also included are a rolled up copy of the Daily Bugle, which feels more like a J Jonah Jameson bit than a Gwen one, a binder (which is admittedly the one inoffensive piece here), and a Midtown High School yearbook, which long-time Spider-Man scribe Dan Slott pointed out makes no sense for either Gwen or MJ, since neither of them actually went to Midtown High.  Odd choice.  Still, props to Hasbro for trying *something* I guess.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Gwen’s one of those figures that I wasn’t sitting there desperately waiting to get or anything, but that I was happy enough to see turn up in the line.  She’s a solid addition to the ever growing roster of civilian supporting cast members, and definitely a key character that deserves some proper toy coverage.  Her accessories are maybe a little odd-ball, but they don’t detract from the core figure, and I’m pretty happy to at least get the MJ head as an option, given I never got the two-pack version back in the day.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure for review.  If you’re looking for Marvel Legends, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

*Gwen did eventually get the Toy Biz treatment in their Silver Age line, one of their many one-off lines distributed through specialty retailers, so she wasn’t entirely left out of the fun.

#2534: Daredevil

DAREDEVIL

MARVEL LEGENDS RETRO COLLECTION (HASBRO)

“Although he is blind, Matt Murdock possesses superhuman senses and courage as the superhero Daredevil.”

You know, it almost feels wrong to discuss a new Marvel Legends Daredevil without also talking about a new season of the show, but, alas, the show tapped out with three seasons, and this is my fourth Daredevil.  There are possibly some talks about working the cast into the MCU, though, so maybe by the time I get to the next Legends release, I’ll have more to talk about.  Otherwise, I’ll just be forced to get all meta again, and that gets old real quick.  So far from Legends, we’ve gotten several prominent costume designs for the character, but there was one notable exception that we were all that some of us were…I was waiting for: Armored Daredevil!  And look at that, he’s finally here!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Daredevil is part of the new Spider-Man-themed Retro Collection assortment of Marvel Legends.  The assortment has packaging that’s meant to patterned on that of the old Toy Biz Spider-Man line.  Interestingly, this version of DD wasn’t actually featured in that line.  He was, however, released in the Marvel Super Heroes line that proceeded it, which served as the packaging inspiration for the first two Retro Collection sets.  What am I getting at?  Well, it couldn’t possibly be that I’m angry that Hasbro took so long getting us this figure and that he clearly should have been released back at the beginning of the line…because that would be ridiculous.  Right?  Right.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall he has 30 points of articulation.  While the last three Daredevils have been built on the Bucky Cap body from the same bank of parts, this figure changes things up by giving him a head to toe new sculpt.  I honestly wasn’t expecting that to be the case, but I certainly can’t say I’m upset by it.  It means that, for the first time ever on an Armored Daredevil figure, all of the armored elements of his costume are actually raised sculpted elements, which really makes the whole design just a bit more impactful, and certainly adds an air of sleekness and cleanness to it.  The build of the body beneath these elements isn’t too far removed from the Bucky Cap build, so it reads as more or less the same guy, but it’s slightly more refined this time, resulting in a more balanced, more natural look than the Bucky Cap figures have.  The actual construction of the body is also a touch sturdier, which I’m definitely down for.  Daredevil’s paint work is generally pretty impressive, with the metallic red in particular looking really slick.  There’s some slight bleed-over on the torso section on my figure, but it’s fortunately not too terribly obvious.  Certainly better than some of Hasbro’s previous attempts.  Daredevil’s accessories include two sets of hands in fists and gripping poses, two styles for his wrist guards, one with the batons attached and one without (improving from the permanently attached baton sculpt of the smaller-scale figure), the billy clubs in silver, and an all-new unmasked Matt Murdock head, which really benefits from not just being a repainted Hawkeye head.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Despite the fact that I’ve got plenty of DD figures already, this was definitely the figure I was most anticipating from this assortment.  Honestly, I’ve been hoping for this design pretty much since we got the updates to red and yellow, and counter to what my remarks early in the review might have hinted, I’m glad that Hasbro waited until they had really stepped up their game sculpting wise on the line to add this costume to the mix.  He’s very well served by the all-new sculpt, and I would put him on par with the Marvel Now Moon Knight in terms of how much a dedicated sculpt can do to really make a design like this amazing.  I think people are kind of sleeping on this figure right now, which is a shame, because he’s really fantastic.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this guy for review.  If you’re looking for Marvel Legends, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2533: Punisher with Motorcycle

PUNISHER with MOTORCYCLE

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Frank Castle rides through the night dispensing brutal vigilante justice.”

Hasbro’s “Legendary Riders” subset of Marvel Legends releases is something of a dubious offering.  It’s a really obvious choice on the outset (much like it was when Toy Biz decided to devote an entire assortment to it during their run with the line), since there are a number of memorable rides in the Marvel Universe.  Unfortunately, said rides I think are more prominent in all of our heads than they are on the page, which is why, just like with Toy Biz’s assortment, Hasbro’s had to start…stretching things a bit, to cover the fact that they effectively launched a whole new line to have a good excuse to release a Ghost Rider with a motorcycle.  Admittedly, some of their figure with vehicle pairings are slightly better than others, while others seem to take a stance of “if we add the word ‘ride’ somewhere in the bio, it’ll all work out.”  Today’s review is kind of from the latter category.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Punisher heads up the sixth assortment of the Legendary Riders sub-line of Legends, as the only actually new offering contained there-in (he’s packed alongside a re-pack of Squirrel Girl, who initially shipped alongside Cosmic Ghost Rider, who, fun fact, is another variant of Frank Castle.  How about that?).  It follows the trend so far of even numbered assortments only being half new, which seems to have worked out okay so far.  We’ve gotten all manner of Punisher looks in the last couple of years, so there’s been a little bit of re-treading, but fortunately it’s not without some decent spacing.  This guy’s largely inspired by Frank’s look from Garth Ennis’s run on the book, when he opted to angle more into a real-world take on the character.  We haven’t seen this style in figure form since the Nemesis Series in 2008, so it’s fair for it to be getting an update.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  For the most part, Frank re-uses parts from the Netflix Luke Cage figure, which is a pretty decent bulked up civilian base.  It does seem perhaps slightly large for Frank, but not baselessly so.  He has been on the Reaper body, after all.  He gets a new head and arms, which are all pretty solid pieces.  Technically, there are two heads, with differing expressions, as well as levels of damage to him.  Personally, I like the gruffer, taped up look, but they both work well.  The new arms are using Hasbro’s new internal construction technique for the pins, which help keep things looking a little cleaner.  It’s all topped off by a re-use of the shoulder strap piece we’ve seen a few times now, which works well with the design.  Frank’s paint work is all pretty basic stuff, but certainly not bad looking.  Everything is nice and clean, and gets the job done.  Frank’s accessories are the coolest part of all of this.  In addition to the previously mentioned extra head, he also gets a pretty sweet viking helmet (safety first), a sawed off shotgun, an uzi, a TEC-9, a machete, and a baseball bat.  Not a bad selection of weaponry there.

Also included, of course, is the motorcycle that justifies the “riders” portion of the set.  Now, when I think of Punisher and vehicles, I tend to think more of a van sort of thing, but that’s not very cost effective at this scale, so he gets a bike.  It’s a chopper-style bike, which seems appropriate for Frank.  I can’t say I’m familiar enough with this particular incarnation of the character to know if there’s any specific reference for this particular bike, but it looks cool, so I can’t really fight that.  It looks like the majority of the sculpt is shared with the bike from the Riders Wolverine set, but not having personally handled that set, I can’t say with absolute certainty.  At the very least, there are a few cosmetic changes, including the handle bars, which keep the two bikes unique enough that they don’t look like straight re-use.  Re-used or not, the sculpt is a very impressive one, and it looks like a relatively real vehicle.  There’s some really strong detail work going on here, and my favorite little bit by far is the license plate on the rear of the vehicle.  It’s just really well done, and it sells the realism of the whole thing so nicely.  About the only thing I’d liked to have seen that isn’t included is some weapon storage, which feels like the sort of thing that Frank would really want on whatever vehicle he ended up using.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Remember when I didn’t really like Punisher and didn’t tend to buy toys of him?  Those were the days, huh?  The turnaround time on this set felt really quick, so I didn’t really have much time to process that it was coming, or really form any thoughts about it ahead of time, so I more or less opened it up blind.  I wasn’t expecting much, but ultimately, I got a pretty fun set that feels worth while enough to justify its existence.  After being left kind of cold by both offerings in the last assortment, I’m happier with this one, and I don’t feel quite as negative about the overall prospects of the sub-line.

Thanks to my sponsors over at All Time Toys for hooking me up with this set to review.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2532: Ultimate Spider-Man & Chameleon

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN & CHAMELEON

MARVEL MINIMATES

As they arrived at the end of their second year, Marvel Minimates found their first true moment of weakness.  Throughout the first two years of the line, DST was experimenting with having multiple release venues for most figures, with a select few maintaining a more exclusive status.  Nevertheless, they managed to keep the main line pretty pure, allowing for collectors to more or less stick to the specialty two-packs as the main attraction.  Then came Series 7, an assortment referred to in the collecting community as the “retread wave,” due to it having not one, not two, not three, but four re-packaged figures, as well as one of the lamest standard/variant split ideas DST ever put out in the line (and that’s bearing in mind that the second year started things off with unmasked Daredevil!).  It was…not ideal.  But, we all managed to suffer through it, and 78 main series later, I guess it’s not all that bad.  Today, I’m diving in with Ultimate Spider-Man and Chameleon!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Ultimate Spider-Man and Chameleon officially make up two of the sets from Marvel Minimates Series 7.  Why two?  Remember that lame standard/variant split I mentioned?  Here’s where it comes into play.  The standard release of this set was Spidey and Chameleon.  The variant was Spidey and Chameleon…with a J Jonah Jameson mask.  Yes, they hid the disguise mask for the character whose whole gimmick was disguises behind the variant wall, but also made it completely pointless to actually purchase both versions of this set, because who in their right mind would want the exact same Chameleon, just without the mask, as well as a second copy of the Ultimate Spider-Man that most of the fanbase already had at least one of before going into this series?  No one.  Not even me.  And I’m insane.

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN

Ultimate Spider-Man holds the distinction of being perhaps the least exclusive Minimate of all time, which is impressive, given that he began his life in an SDCC-exclusive two-pack in 2003, alongside Grey Hulk (who is, I suppose rather fittingly, the runner up for least exclusive Minimate).  Following the two-pack release, he was packaged with Kingpin for the Target/Walmart assortments, and with Bullseye, Kingpin, and Peter Parker/Spider-Man for the TRU four-packs.  And then, after this release, he cropped up one more time in the 10-piece Gift Pack, forcing faithful fans to buy him yet again.  That marks six separate releases of this exclusive Minimate, for those of you playing at home.  Ultimately, he’s the same construction set-up as most Spider-Men, meaning he’s on the standard ‘mate body (or the long-footed variant, anyway) and has no add-on pieces.  The main thing here is the paint, which is like the main Series 2 Spider-Man, but less so.  Since in the Ultimate line, Spidey’s costume wasn’t actually different from his main line counterpart, DST instead differentiated them by basing this figure on the costume right after Peter first gets it, before he adds the webs to it.  Honestly, it’s not a particularly exciting or needed variant, but, umm, here it is.  And aren’t we all so glad it was released so many times?

CHAMELEON

One of only two new figures in Series 7, Chameleon made up for that by taking up two of the slots.  Yay.  At least he stayed contained to this assortment.  Like Spidey, he’s just a vanilla ‘mate, built on the standard long foot body.  I suppose it’s not the worst thing in the world, since he’s usually a pretty svelte guy, and it fits the sort of spy/espionage thing he’s got going on.  In terms of paint, he actually re-uses the tampography from Professor X for his suit, albeit in a different set of colors.  He did get a new set of details for his head, which sports his distinctive mask that he wears under other masks…as you do.  It actually looks pretty cool, and is by far the best part of the core figure.  The standard figure had no accessories, but the variant that should not have been the variant and should have definitely just been the main release and that I’m definitely not still mad about added a J Jonah Jameson mask, which is a pretty nifty touch, and remained the only way to get Jonah for another 35 Series of the line.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Series 7 is a definite rough patch for the line, and this set pretty well exemplifies it.  This Spider-Man was a stretch for his first release, and the subsequent five really pushed it too far.  He’s not bad, but he’s really not very exciting.  Why did this one get so much love?  Chameleon is the worst use of variant for the line, but to DST’s credit, he did seem to mark a turning point, as they never were quite this bad again.  So, I guess that’s good?  I don’t know.

I honestly didn’t pick up these two when they were new, mostly out of frustration.  Fortunately, my sponsors at All Time Toys were able to finally help me get the Chameleon I actually wanted, allowing me to write this review.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2531: Decoy Batman

DECOY BATMAN

BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM (KENNER)

Interspersed with its selection of rather faithful recreations of characters and designs from the show, Kenner’s Batman Animated offerings also had a need to keep a lot of colorful variants of its main character coming at a regular pace.  So, we definitely got a *lot* of Batmen, whose importance to the overall narrative definitely had a range.  Some of them were sensible additions, perhaps taking one gadget or moment and building a whole figure around it, while some were just kind of bonkers.  And some were bonkers at the forefront, but ultimately not that weird when you explored them just a bit further.  Today’s figure fits that particular, very narrow mold.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Decoy Batman was officially part of Kenner’s tie-in line for Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, released in 1993.  While the last two figures I looked at from this line were directly lifted from the film, this one’s a bit more dubious.  His whole gimmick is that his torso launches away as a “decoy”, while the underlying Bruce Wayne figure can get away, I suppose, which kind of tracks with the scene in the movie where Bruce places his cape and cowl on a sawhorse and flings it out of a building in an attempt to escape the police…and now that I’ve written that out, I realize this figure’s maybe a better tie-in than I realized.  I mean, sure he’s not a direct lift from the scene, but I guess the concept’s there.  He fits into that “building a figure around one moment” dynamic.  Kudos to Kenner, I guess.  And, like, anti-kudos to me for not thinking this through before writing the review.  I mean, sure, I could go back and re-write the whole thing and make it look like I knew from the start, but tell me: where’s the fun in that?  Okay, maybe I should actually get to the reviewing.  This figure stands just shy of 5 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation.  The body sculpt for the figure is unique to him and it’s not bad.  The build is in line with the other standard Batmen from the line, and while the costume details are somewhat made up, they aren’t too crazy or zany.  He re-uses the main line’s Bruce Wayne figure’s head, and it’s a pretty darn spot-on old-style Bruce Wayne head, so no complaints there.  Perhaps the weirdest element of the whole thing is the way his action feature works; the Bruce head is on a spring-loaded neck piece, which can be depressed into the torso, much like a turtle, allowing for the “decoy” head and chest piece to snap over top.  It was a gimmick that Kenner would use a few more times for their DC lines, as well as their Shadow tie-in line.  It’s goofy as heck, but it does get the job done, and honestly doesn’t really impede the figure too badly. The clip-on decoy piece is another pretty solid match for the animated series designs, and is a pretty basic Batman from the show.  Well, in sculpt, anyway.  The paint work opts to forego the usual Batman colors for a black and red number.  For some reason, they really liked making Bruce-to-Batman figure’s red.  I really don’t know why that is, but it happened on three separate occasions, so that’s one heck of a pattern.   Ultimately, it’s not the worst color scheme ever, and does sort of fit the art deco designs of the show, at least somewhat, but it’d certainly be cool to see this figure in a more standard color scheme.  In addition to his decoy chest piece, Decoy Batman was also packed with a grapple…which I lost.  Look, it hardly seemed as essential as the main gimmick of the figure, alright?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t get Decoy Batman new, since the whole line was gone from retail shelves by the time I was actually getting into collecting.  So, I was definitely on the follow-up market for him.  Ultimately, he was kind of a bit of a consolation prize, if I’m honest.  I was at Baltimore Comic Con, and saw the Phantasm at a dealer’s table.  It was, however, $20, and that was too much for me, so instead I got this guy because he was $5.  Can’t really say I was at all let-down by the set up, because I wound up getting the Phantasm a bit later down the line anyway, and Decoy Batman’s a pretty fun figure in his own right.

#2530: Profit Director Destro

PROFIT DIRECTOR DESTRO

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

Remember when Destro was pretty fliggity-fly for a chome-headed guy?  No? Yeah, that’s fair, because that’s totally a phrase I just made up, and if I’m honest, I’m kinda regretting it just a touch.  It’s okay, let’s just move on and not dwell.  Today, I get to touch on one of my favorite things: weird toy production trivia and oddities!  Yes, today’s focus figure has a definite story behind it, going back to the year 1997.  The 3 3/4 scale Joes had taken a 3-year break, and Hasbro was looking to attempt a relaunch of the line.  The result was the Real American Hero Collection, a collection of mistakes, mishaps, and misfortune that somehow still managed to be an overall success and bring the line back.  Interspersed with all the madness that surrounded the project, Hasbro was still trying to inject at least *some* new life into the franchise, and subsequently brought in some outside artists to try and spruce up some of the mainstays with some new color schemes.  Amongst these new designs was one for Destro, which replaced his usual black and red number with something more…exotic?  Okay, look, you’ve seen the picture at the top, I don’t need to beat around the bush: it’s leopard print.  They gave Destro leopard print.  What began as more of a jokey concept on the part of artist Steve Masso actually managed to get approved and go into production…briefly.  Once a few people higher up on the Hasbro chain saw the design, this new Destro design was deemed a step too far, and the leopard print was replaced with black on the final production figure.  A small sample of the original design, dubbed Pimp Daddy Destro by the fanbase, managed to make it out, however, and the whole thing has become rather legendary in the Joe community.  Hasbro paid its first bit of official homage to the design as a SDCC-exclusive in 2007, and is now following that up by bringing the design into their latest re-launch of the line, with a figure I’m taking a look at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Profit Director Destro (rather clever way of getting an official take on the name on Hasbro’s part) is a fan channel-exclusive Classified Series offering, numbered at 15 in the line, making him chronologically the latest figure in the line.  The figure stands 6 3/4 inches tall and he has 37 points of articulation.  At his core, this figure is the same as the standard Destro from Series 1, which is pretty sensible, since PD Destro’s always been a repaint.  It’s also a really strong sculpt through and through, so I’m not unhappy to see it show up again.  He does actually spruce things up a little bit more than the prior two versions of this design, gaining a fairly swank cape.  Oh wait, did I say cape?  I meant capes, plural, because he’s got not one, but two fur capes going on there.  It’s definitely a fun piece, and manages to actually stay in place quite securely once you’ve got it one there, and definitely adds to the whole look.  The rest of the appearance has been achieved through paint work.  There were a lot of smaller detail changes on the body suit of the main Destro, and so this figure kind of adapts the PD color scheme around them.  The main red of the body suit is definitely more present this time around, and the leopard print is slightly more downplayed.  Also, much like the variant edition of the 2007 release, he swaps the silver helmet for a gold one.  It calls back to his V2 design, and it actually works a bit better with the overall color scheme of this design.  Destro’s pretty decently packed when it comes to accessories, including the briefcase and pistol from the standard release, as well as a pair of sunglasses and a stack of money that’s been lit ablaze.  The last two extras are definitely the coolest ones, as they perfectly complement the overall over the top nature of this design.  I dig the vibe.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’m a sucker for cool toy history throw-backs, and I was always kind of bummed that I’d missed out on the ’07 edition of this design.  As soon as this one was shown off, I was definitely on board.  Obviously, he’s not going to be my standard Destro by any stretch of the imagination, but he’s a really fun little side figure, and he’s got a really fun design.

Thanks to my sponsors over at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure to review.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2529: Arctic Mission Storm Shadow

ARCTIC MISSION STORM SHADOW

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

Even before G.I. Joe went heavy into its ninjas, they’d been present for a while.  While everyone associates Snake Eyes with the whole ninja thing, it’s worth noting that he wasn’t so much responsible for bringing it into the franchise, since in 1982 he was still just a commando.  It was actually Storm Shadow’s arrival on the scene in 1984 that really ushered in the ninjas, with Snake Eyes getting a bit of a re-work to match Storm Shadow’s ninja skills for the other side.  The two have subsequently become rather intertwined, and ninjas have become a fixed piece of the mythos.  So, it’s not too much of a shock that Storm Shadow cropped up pretty quickly for this new incarnation of the line.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Arctic Mission Storm Shadow is figure 14 in the G.I. Joe: Classified Series line-up, and is an Amazon-exclusive item.  He’s our first Storm Shadow, so it’s kind of interesting that he’s an environment-specific figure, rather than an all-purpose version.  That said, with the exclusive status on this guy, it makes sense to do something a little bit less standard, while still giving us a taste of the character.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and has 37 points of articulation.  In the history of environmental specific Joe appearances and Storm Shadows, there’s not actually been an Arctic Storm Shadow (well, okay, there was *technically* one in Sigma 6, but he was just the standard figure with the arms painted grey, so it’s iffy), so this is *technically* a new design.  That being said, he’s actually *not* really a new design, because Hasbro’s aptly repurposed Storm Shadow’s Ninja Force design for this release.  As with any of the designs for this line, there have been some adjustments to update it, give it that slightly sci-fi bend, and just generally fill the larger canvas a bit better, but the broad strokes are certainly all there, and I really like how this thing turned out.  There are a ton of layers to this design, and the most impressive part of it all is definitely the mask and removable hood.  The original figure had a permanently attached hood, but this one takes advantage of the scale and modern innovation for the removable factor, allowing a lot more depth of detail to the underlying mask, and the neck and collar of his uniform.  There’s a lot of really cool details I like in there.  The figure’s shoulder pads are also designed much like Baroness’s from yesterday, moving on their own, and allowing for more movement on the shoulders.  Another touch I like quite a bit is the absence of any sort of a Cobra insignia from his outfit; the Ninja Force figure was released while Storm Shadow had switched over to the Joes, so he didn’t have the Cobra logo, obviously.  Since this figure is *technically* still a Cobra, he can’t very well have any Joe logos either, so instead he got his Arashikage emblem, which definitely looks cool.  Storm Shadow’s paint work is what really sells the Ninja Force-esque design, with the proper black and white with gold accents.  It’s pretty clean and slick, and he’s also got printed eyes, which keep him nice and lifelike.  Storm Shadow is packed with another impressive selection of accessories, including a bow, arrow, quiver, sword, sheath, grapple, and sickle.  It pretty much covers all of the major bases for what a Storm Shadow could need, so I definitely dig it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Since this is an Amazon exclusive, it’s probably not too hard to piece together where this guy came from.  He went up for order, and I ordered him, and then I received him in the mail.  Very exciting story, right?  Obviously, I had Snake Eyes, and I needed a Storm Shadow to pair off with him.  I gotta say, while he may not be standard, I really dig how they managed to get this particular design out there, and it makes for a really fun figure.  I can’t wait to see how the proper version turns out.  Also, can we possibly get a V4-inspired “Arctic” Snake Eyes to pair off with him?  Because that would make me very happy.