#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.

#2528: Baroness & Cobra C.O.I.L.

BARONESS & COBRA C.O.I.L.

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

Since its move to the 3 3/4 inch scale and subsequent re-branding under the “Real American Hero” branch of the franchise, vehicles have been a somewhat central piece of G.I. Joe.  When it became official that the line would be jumping to 6 inch scale, one of the early questions to pop-up amongst the fan base was: “What about the vehicles?”  Vehicles have been a hard-sell for the line pretty much since the end of the vintage years.  Obviously, at almost twice the size, they’re an even harder sell, but Hasbro’s dipping their toes in the water, much like they did with Star Wars, with a smaller-scale vehicle to try things out.  And, it’s also packed with one of the franchise’s central characters, so let’s see how all of that works out, I guess.

THE TOYS THEMSELVES

Baroness and the Cobra C.O.I.L. are another piece from the Target-exclusive “Special Mission: Cobra Island” sub-line of Classified Series.  They’re numbered 13 in the overall line-up, showing that the vehicles will also apparently be getting in on that main numbering scheme as well.  Also, for those of you tracking at home, you’ll see I went from 11 to 13.  That’s because 12 is the Cobra Trooper, and I haven’t yet become a miracle worker.

BARONESS

Baroness was an early addition to the toyline (and an even earlier addition to the franchise, due to being present in the comics well before her toy appeared), and has long been at the core of the franchise, so it’s no surprise that she’s getting added to this relaunch pretty early on.  The figure stands just over 6 inches tall and she has 35 points of articulation.  She’s got the same articulation scheme as Scarlett, meaning she’s a touch more limited in terms of posability than some of the others in the line, but as I noted on Scarlett, she’s still very serviceable on that front. In fact, she’s actually got one improvement over Scarlett in terms of construction; her shoulder pads are their own piece, allowing them to rotate out of the way, giving the shoulder’s slightly cleaner movement.  I do still wish there was a deeper range on the elbows, but I’m overall pretty happy with the mobility on this one.  In terms of design, Baroness joins her boy-toy Destro in staying pretty faithful to the vintage figure.  Obviously, there are a lot more parts and depth to this particular iteration, but the major parts of the costume all line up pretty much piece for piece with the layout of the V1 figure’s gear.  I definitely dig this.  Her head sculpt definitely falls slightly more into the modern era depictions of the character, and I definitely see a lot of similarities to Sienna Miller’s take on the character from Rise of Cobra going on.  That being said, there really are worse parts of that movie to be borrowing than Baroness’s design.  The glasses are a separate piece that’s been glued in place, and they’re quite well scaled to the figure.  Sometimes, I’m sketchy on that sort of set-up, but it actually works here.  Baroness’s color scheme is classically just a lot of black.  This figure takes that as a starting point, but does a fair bit more with it, adding dark grey sections to her underlying body suit.  She’s also got a printed face, which looks pretty solid, apart from one errant mark on my figure.  I also quite dig the gold tips on her glasses.  That’s a fun touch!  Baroness is quite well accessorized, with a second head sporting a helmet, two golden pistols, a strange snake gun thing, two rifles, and a knife.

COBRA C.O.I.L.

Our first vehicle for the new line is honestly not a huge surprise.  Motorcycles have been a piece of the Joes since pretty much the very beginning, and it’s a good, fairly low-cost way to introduce a vehicle to the line.  The only thing that I’m left to ponder is just what C.O.I.L. stands for, because the box doesn’t share that info with us. Alas, we’ll have to figure that out for ourselves.  The cycle measures 4 1/2 inches tall by 8 1/2 inches long, and has working wheels.  When I first saw the cycle, I was honestly expecting it to have a fair bit in common with Black Widow’s bike from Marvel Legends, but the two are wholly unique from each other.  This one’s got a rather unique design to it, which looks pretty decent, and fits well with the whole overall Cobra aesthetic.  It’s definitely in line with the line’s high-end sci-fi elements as well.  Baroness sits well on it, and you can even mount the two rifles each on the sides of the bike, for some proper armaments.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Given the nightmare that other people have been having trying to locate this one, I was anticipating not getting the chance to grab it at all.  However, like with the Roadblock from yesterday, I got a call from Max, who found one while on a grocery run.  Dope!  Baroness is a really nice figure, and a fantastic companion to the Destro figure from Series 1.  I feel confident she’ll be out again in some shape or form, and probably rather soon.  The bike I can kind of take or leave, because I don’t really associate Baroness with it, and I don’t really have anyone else who quite fits it yet.  Still, it’s not a bad piece either.

#2527: Roadblock

ROADBLOCK

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

For the second day of this week of G.I. Joe: Classified Series reviews I’ve got going, I’m gonna be doing some retreading….which is what I did for the second day of my last round as well.  Am I getting predictable, or is Hasbro?  Probably both of us, really.  The line’s first retreaded character was, unsurprisingly, Snake Eyes, but the second character to get the follow-up treatment is, a little bit surprisingly, Roadblock, a character that Hasbro seems to be really getting behind for this reboot.  Hey, I can’t really knock it myself, especially when it means more cool toys.  Let’s check it out!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Roadblock marks the second figure in the “Special Mission: Cobra Island” sub-line of Classified Series figures, which is currently exclusive to Target…and eBay, I guess, but let’s try not to dwell.  Roadblock is numbered figure 11, picking up from Beach Head, and by extension the whole main line.  The figure stands 6 3/4 inches tall and he has 37 points of articulation.  Unlike Snake Eyes, who was just a straight deco change between the two figures, Roadblock’s gotten a rather adjusted design for his second outing.  While a lot of people were pulling for a Roadblock that came close to the V1 figure, this one actually moves even further away from it.  He’s got more of a covert ops feel to him, befitting the Cobra Island mission theme of the set.  It also seems to take a sizable chunk of its inspiration from Roadblock’s successor Heavy Duty in his Sigma 6 incarnation.  Given my vocal approval of Sigma 6, I’m definitely okay with this.  In order to get this new appearance, this guy uses the same core body as the prior Roadblock, but without the vest piece, and with the addition of a new head, and add-ons at the wrist and thigh.  Removing the vest does a lot to change up the body from the start, but the new pieces take it even further.  The new head is really the star piece, and the thing that brings up the Heavy Duty/S6 similarities.  He’s sporting a bandana and a sort of high-tech comm piece on his ear.  It also appears that Roadblock’s been on his mission for a little while now, because he’s got a large, bushy beard, and his friendlier expression from the last figure has become much more intense and worn down here.  I like how they’ve convincingly changed so much about his appearance.  The add-on pieces for the wrist and thigh straps are actually a bit of a preview here, initially being designed for the Gung-Ho figure that’s in the second main assortment.  They add a bit to the sci-fi elements of the design, and also do a little more to mix up the body, which certainly is fine by me.  Roadblock’s paint helps to sell the more covert elements of this design, transitioning him to more blacks and greys.  It’s not eye-catching, but then it’s not meant to be.  I don’t hate it; I can kind of dig the understatement.  Roadblock is armed with the same weapon as the last time, so he’s still toting around the big rail gun thing.  It does at least get a slightly altered paint scheme, with a bit of graffiti on the side, which I really quite like.  He’s also packed with a pair of sunglasses, which help to further sell the Sigma 6 feel on the design.  I’m down for this, you guys.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Roadblock is actually the first of these exclusives I was able to get my hands on.  It’s not much of a surprise, since he’s the one that everyone seems most willing to pass on.  Nevertheless, Max found this guy while on a grocery run, and hit me up, and boom, there he was.  I know he kind of pales in the light of new versions of major players and the line’s first army builder, but I really enjoy this Roadblock figure.  Honestly, with the number of changes, I’m thinking I might just find a slightly more Roadblock-y weapon for my Series 1 figure, and keep the rail gun with this guy so he can just be Heavy Duty.  Boom.  Then I can keep them both on my shelf, and my Joes get one more member.  I don’t know about you guys, but that seems pretty downright awesome to me.

#2526: Wayne “Beach Head” Sneeden

WAYNE “BEACH HEAD” SNEEDEN

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

It’s been a month since I took my last look at Hasbro’s re-boot of their G.I. Joe line under the Classified Series banner.  The initial drop from the line was a general release.  The immediate follow-up has been split between a few different locations.  The majority of the second round of product is courtesy of Target’s exclusive “Special Mission: Cobra Island” assortment.  It’s…not been a smooth process getting them out there, but….well…it’s not smooth.  That’s kind of the central piece to these figures.  Fortunately, it does seem like they’re finally making their way into some dedicated fan’s hands.  And hey, look at me, over here, being a dedicated fan.  The first of the new figures I’m taking a look at is the Joe’s own resident Drill Sergeant Nasty, Wayne “Beach Head” Sneeden!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Beach Head is the first figure in the “Cobra Island” sub-line of figures for the Classified Series line-up.  He’s numbered figure 10, and it looks like all of the other exclusives will be following suit, and keeping the on-going numbering for the line.  That’s different from how Hasbro handled the Black Series numbering, so I was a little surprised to see them go this route.  Given the total lack of any sort of actual exclusive branding, its possible that these might end up getting wider releases later?  One can only hope.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 34 points of articulation.  Beach Head’s design remains quite faithful to his V1 figure from ’86.  In terms of vintage accuracy, I’d say he’s pretty much only rivaled by Destro.  The specifics of his design have, of course, been somewhat refined, both to fit in with his more sci-fi-esque teammates, and to take advantage of the larger canvas that the new scale gives the character.  Beach Head marks the line’s first instance of cross-character parts re-use, making use of Duke’s legs and hands.  Given the sort of standard issue nature of both characters’ designs, it’s hardly an issue, and honestly not that noticeable at first glance.  The rest of his parts are new, and they’re really impressive.  From the incredibly dedicated texturing and stitching of Beach Head’s sweater and mask, to the angry and determined expression clearly visible beneath his mask, there’s a lot going on in this sculpt, and it’s all pretty awesome.  Quite honestly, it’s probably the best sculpt produced by the line so far, and that’s really saying something.  In terms of paintwork, Beach Head again stays pretty close to his vintage routes.  There’s one spot of the bright Tron-esque blue that’s been on all the Joes so far, but that’s it, and it’s honestly pretty tame.  The rest is drab greens and browns, and it works.  There’s actually a paint variant on this figure, which concerns the eyes.  Mine are blue, but there’s also one with black eyes out there, for those that care about such things.  I personally prefer the one I got.  Beach Head does quite well when it comes to accessories, getting a rifle, pistol, small crossbow, backpack, knife, and a beret.  I don’t know how I feel about the solid green on the weapons, but it’s not the end of the world.  I guess I just got accustomed to the painted weapons from Series 1.  Overall, definitely a fun selection, though, and he’s only an ammo case away from covering what was included with the original figure.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

To say that these Target-exclusive Joes have been hard to track down is something of an understatement.  I didn’t even come close to getting in on the online orders, so I’ve been relying on the kind nature of others to help me track them down in person.  Fortunately, Max was able to set me up with this guy via one of his collecting acquaintances, so I didn’t have to do too much searching on my own.  I’m glad I got him, because he’s probably my favorite thing to come out of the line at this point.

#2525: New Wolverine & Phoenix

NEW WOLVERINE & PHOENIX

MARVEL MINIMATES

In 2000, the X-Men hit the big screen in their first live action film, and found themselves a whole new audience that they hadn’t yet enthralled through comics, cartoons, toys, or video games.  To try and bring this new audience back into the original source material, comics scribe Grant Morrison was given the reigns to the franchise, re-envisioning it into something a little more in-line with what people had seen on the screen.  For the most part, the similarities translated to “putting the whole team in black leather.”  It did garner a lot of attention, though, and set the stage for the next decade or so of the comics.  So, I guess it kind of worked.  Of course, on the flip side, it made the team slightly less toy-worthy, so there’s a lot less coverage from that angle.  There were some Minimates, though!  Let’s look at those, shall we?

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

New Wolverine and Phoenix were released in Series 6 of the Marvel Minimates line, which hit shelves in Jul 2004….just in time for New X-Men to wrap and for the characters to all get new, slightly more classically-inspired costumes on the pages of Astonishing X-Men.  Isn’t it always the way?  Both of these guys were also available in a TRU-exclusive four pack with Xavier and Magneto the following year, and Wolverine also showed up in the 10-Piece gift pack and then got a new (far more hideous) face and was re-packaged in the Dark Tide boxed set.  Not bad for an abandoned look.

NEW WOLVERINE

Our fifth Wolverine from the line, and honestly the first sign of how over-popped the character would become, this was our second Wolverine in as many series for 2004.  At least this one had the whole team line-up thing going for him, and wasn’t just another civilian variant, although he certainly still skirts that line.  He’s built on the standard long-footed body, so he’s 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  Wolverine got three new add-on pieces, in addition to re-using the clawed hands from the last four variants of the character.  The new pieces entailed his hair, jacket, and belt.  All three of these parts would see a lot of use as the line progressed…and that’s honestly kind of sad.  The jacket and belt aren’t too bad, I suppose.  They’re rather basic pieces.  Of course, they were also less used than the hair, which was really the prime offender.  It’s the weakest of these early Wolverine hair sculpts, in terms of shaping and level of detail, and yet it still got used five times over the course of the line.  This far removed from its use, I still don’t miss it, but I guess I’m not quite as actively against it as I was.  The paint work on Wolverine’s not bad.  His face is really the best Wolverine we’d gotten at this point, and there’s a lot of detailing going on throughout the body, especially on the torso.  Also, rather than going for a stark black, the uniform is a very dark grey, which doesn’t look bad.

PHOENIX

Dubbed Phoenix, presumably so as not to double up on “Jean Grey” so early in the line, this figure is jus kind of not what I wanted, largely because she’s, you know, not actually Phoenix.  Made worse by the fact that we wouldn’t get an actual proper Phoenix for another five years.  So, that was great, right?  This marked Jean’s second time as a Minimate, and her second time with some very modern, ultimately not very Jean Grey-looking design.  She uses the same core body as Logan, of course, as well as sharing his belt.  Sensible, what with it being a uniform and all.  She also got a new hair piece and jacket.  The jacket suffers from the same issue as all of these early jackets, being boxy, and bulking up a figure that probably shouldn’t be quite so bulked up.  The hair is a perfectly fine piece, but like Wolverine’s hair above, it’s one that’s seven subsequent uses kind of made us all tired of it, especially given how many supposedly unique characters it was used for.  For Jean, it actually wasn’t too bad.  Jean’s paint work is pretty decent again.  It’s mostly basic stuff, but I do like that they actually got the pattern to her shirt under her jacket.  Also, thanks to using the same color of grey throughout, you can remove the jacket piece and it actually doesn’t look too bad!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve never been much for the New X-Men costumes overall, and I already had both of these characters, so I was in no rush to pick up this set when released.  I really only got them because I got the four-pack release, and I wanted Magneto and Xavier.  These two were along for the ride.  They’re okay, but ultimately, the parts seen here are some of the parts that almost spelled the end of the line after getting re-used too much, so my opinion’s a little bit colored.  They could definitely be worse, though.

#2524: Phantasm

PHANTASM

BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM (KENNER)

As I’ve brought up on this site, my favorite Batman film of all time is easily Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, the Animated Series’ cult classic theatrical feature. It’s an impressively crafted story, and actually does a phenomenal job of actually salvaging some of the elements of the rather messy Batman: Year Two story.  The story’s original antagonist, Reaper, was reimagined as the titular Phantasm, a chilling and truly intimidating villain.  Unsurprisingly, the Phantasm got some toy coverage in the tie-in line, and I’m looking at that figure today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Phantasm was released as part of the Mask of the Phantasm tie-in line in 1994, and was really the main focus figure in the line-up.  I know, what a shock.  What was also *supposed* to be a surprise was the Phantasm’s identity, which was to be hidden under the figure’s mask in the package.  However, for some reason, someone at Kenner thought it would be a much better idea to instead package the mask off of the figure, thereby revealing the Phantasm’s secret identity before the film even hit theaters.  Yay.  The figure stands 4 1/2 inches tall and she has 4 points of articulation.  The Phantasm’s sculpt was all-new, and, well, it’s technically a little bit compromised.  It’s not entirely Kenner’s fault, to be fair.  In the film, the reveal that the Phantasm is really Andrea Beaumont is hidden by the fact that the two character’s designs sport almost entirely different builds.  It’s a total cheat in the movie, and not something that’s quite so easily rendered in three dimensions.  For the purposes of this figure, Kenner opted to sculpt Andrea as she’s seen post-reveal, and then provide add-on parts to approximate the Phantasm design.  Ultimately, it’s a compromise, but it’s probably the optimal compromise.  The underlying figure is a pretty solid recreation of Andrea’s design.  The head in particular is a good match to the model.  Technically, for true film accuracy, she shouldn’t have the glove on her right hand, but I’m ultimately not too bugged by the added symmetry.  Phantasm’s paint work is pretty basic, but a decent match for her colors in the movie.  There’s no odd color changes this time around, so she’s nice and screen-accurate.  Phantasm is packed with her mask/hood and cape, which slips nicely over the head, and her scythe attachment for her hand.  They make for a passable, if perhaps not quite as intimidating, recreation of the primary Phantasm design.  The figure also originally included a gun because, you know, gun, right?  Mine doesn’t have that piece, which, you know, is just such a bummer, right?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t get the Phantasm when she was brand new, mostly due to being just shy of being only enough to actually see the movie.  Also, when I finally did see it, she kind of scared the crap out of me, so I held off for a bit longer.  Ultimately, I ended up getting her as a Christmas present from my parents a few years later, and she’s stuck with my collection  since.  While the figure obviously isn’t a pitch perfect recreation of the film design, I’ve still always found it to be a really fun offering, and certainly one of my favorite Animated pieces.

#2523: Kit Fisto

KIT FISTO

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

Two days ago, I was discussing the Prequel Trilogy’s background Jedi, and the fact that they were always received pretty well.  Don’t fear, my thesis still stands with today’s offering, but the turn around on cool stuff being done with him was actually way quicker than just about any other Prequel Jedi (barring the main guys, of course).  Yes, Kit Fisto’s propensity for being cool goes back to 2003, when he got a focus episode of the Genndy Tartakovky-helmed 2D Clone Wars cartoon, showing him as an underwater bad-ass.  It kind of stuck with the fanbase a bit, and Kit has subsequently remained a definite fan favorite.  Fitting, then, that he finally gets The Black Series treatment.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Kit Fisto is figure 112 in the Black Series line-up.  He is the final figure to grace the red-striped packaging that’s been running since 2015, which is honestly a pretty big deal.  After the handful of false starts with the orange and blue line packaging, I don’t think any of us thought this one would stick around past number 100, but Hasbro managed to prove us wrong.  And we get to go out with a real cool guy, which is really just the best.  This version of Kit is based on his Attack of the Clones appearance, which makes sense, given the rest of the assortment.  It’s also a pretty standard look for the character, so it’s pretty multi-purpose.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  Unsurprisingly, you aren’t getting much range of motion out of the neck, due to the tendrils, but he’s otherwise very impressively articulated, mostly due to being another re-use of the TMP Obi-Wan body.  I like the body a lot, so I don’t hate its re-use here.  It’s not totally accurate to Fisto’s garb in the movie, of course, with the lack of his more distinctive collar and the fact that he’s just got Obi-Wan’s belt and boots being the primary issues.  That being said, it’s a much closer match than what we saw on Plo Koon, and ultimately works in a pinch.  He gets a new head and hands to differentiate him a bit further, and those pieces are really great.  The head’s definitely a good match for Kit’s appearance, or at least what it should be, since his AotC head is a little bit unfinished under close inspection.  This seems to go for what that was *supposed* to look like, and that works better in the long-run.  Kit’s paintwork is generally pretty decent.  There’s some rather basic work on the robes, but they seem to be the right colors for the character, and the head and hands gets some really impressive accenting, which helps them to look quite lifelike.  In my mind’s eye, I feel like he should be a touch more green, but that might just be the old Saga figure influencing my opinion.  Kit is packed with his lightsaber, and that’s it.  It’s a nice piece, but unfortunately the hilt isn’t able to be hung from the belt like Obi-Wan, which makes it a touch less impressive.  And, again, he feels a bit light.  A cloak would have been nice to help fill things out a bit more.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve been a Kit Fisto fan since Attack of the Clones, when I was determined to get his figure because I thought he was the coolest of the new Jedi introduced.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get him on the first shot, which is what ultimately led to me getting Plo Koon.  Hey, it worked out, because I also love Plo Koon.  I’ve definitely been wanting a Kit Fisto for Black Series, and I’m thrilled to have gotten both him and Plo in one fell swoop.  This guy’s a really strong figure.  I don’t know that he’s quite as solid as the Obi-Wan, but after the slight let-down on Plo, he made me feel a lot better.

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