#2926: Alvin “Breaker” Kibbey with RAM Cycle

ALVIN “BREAKER” KIBBEY w/ RAM CYCLE

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

G.I. Joe: Classified Series has kind of slowed its pace in new releases, presumably to allow people a chance to, you know, actually find some of them.  The last two sets of the main line have been devoted to the ill-fated movie tie-in stuff, while the core line stuff is still kind of tied-up with exclusives.  Two years into the line, we’re getting a second vehicle, this time around for the Joes.  It’s another bike, though this time it’s actually an update on one of the vintage vehicles, specifically the RAM Cycle, one of the Real American Hero line’s debut vehicles.  It’s even packed with an updated version of one of the Original 13, Breaker!

THE TOYS THEMSELVES

Alvin “Breaker” Kibbey and the RAM Cycle are one of the two pieces in the latest round of Target-exclusive “Special Mission: Cobra Island” sub-set of Hasbro’s G.I. Joe: Classified Series.  They’re numbered 29 in the overall line-up, thus far the highest number we’ve seen.  Breaker with the RAM Cycle feels like a kind of an odd pairing, but it’s actually not the first time they’ve been packed together, since they did the same thing in the 25th line.

ALVIN “BREAKER” KIBBEY

Breaker was one of the handful of greenshirts that launched the ARAH line in 1982, but has largely been confined to purely recreations and anniversary stuff since then.  As such, he’s really only had the one look (we don’t talk about “Stars and Stripes Forever” guys), which is effectively one this one’s recreating, albeit in a more modernized sense.  The figure stands about 6 inches tall and he has 35 points of articulation.  In terms of articulation, Breaker is rather standard for the line, but I did note that on mine the left hip was exceptionally loose.  Structurally, Breaker’s got a lot of re-use, going on.  The torso is from Beach Head, the arms from Duke, and the legs and waist are from Snake Eyes.  He then gets a new head, chest cover, and boots in order to make him a little more unique.  I’m gonna be honest, I’m already kinda starting to get tired of seeing Duke’s arms; we really need a set with the more proper tighter roll on the sleeves sooner than later.  I’m also not entirely sold on the new head.  It’s not a bad piece, and even bears quite a resemblance to Jake Gyllenhaal, which I guess could work well if you want an unmasked head for Mysterio.  That said, it feels a little too suave and cool for Breaker.  Again, not bad, but it does seem slightly out of character.  The vest is also a little more bulked up, and with him being packed in with a vehicle, I do kinda feel like I’m getting Clutch vibes off of him more so than Breaker.  I guess this is just one of those things that comes along with how similar all of the original figures were.  Breaker’s paint work is fairly one note.  There’s a lot of olive green, which is true to his design, I suppose.  The application is a little spotty, especially on the hairline and on the edges of the wrists.  In general, he gets the job done alright, though.  Breaker is packed with an all-new helmet.  It’s got his comm piece built in, as well as an affixed visor.  The visor is totally opaque, which is kind of a bummer, and also adds to making Breaker look too cool to really be Breaker.  I’m also kind of sad we didn’t get an alternate head with his trademark bubble gum bubble; we got it for Jubilee and Boom, why not Breaker?

RAM CYCLE

Hey, we finally got a second vehicle for the line!  What’s it gonna be this time?  Another motorcycle?  Wow, what a total shock that no one could have possibly seen coming.  Look, we all know bikes are the most cost effective way of doing vehicles at this scale, so I think we can all just get comfortable with this one, right?  Unlike its predecessor, the COIL, the RAM Cycle is a classic Joe vehicle, so it’s nice to see it make a return here.  The RAM is an all-new mold, measuring 5 inches tall by 8 inches wide, and having working wheels and steering.  It’s a pretty decent recreation of the vintage RAM Cycle, scaled up to the new line size, of course.  There are some pretty cool sculpted details worked in, and it’s got a totally different feel from the COIL’s Cobra-themed aesthetic, making it clearly a Joe vehicle.  Breaker also sits on it a little better than Baroness did on the COIL, making it feel like a slightly more coherent set.  There’s a removable side car piece, designed with the included minigun in mind.  It mimics the old toy’s mounted gun, while also allowing for the gun to be used on its own, presumably for someone who’s, you know, not Breaker.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Target exclusives for this line are kind of burning me out at this point.  I’m just rather tired of the hunt, and of not finding anything, and of having to deal with all the related stupidity.  So, I made no notable attempt to get Breaker, because I just couldn’t be too bothered really.  Plus, it’s another vehicle, and I’m not really displaying those right now, so it felt like a bit of a waste.  Max wound up snagging one of these for himself, and after opening it, admitted he really only wanted the bike, so Breaker was going to just be tossed in a bin somewhere.  I admitted I really only wanted Breaker, so we opted to split the set, with me doing the full review here first.  Breaker’s fairly by the numbers, and kind of not terribly Breaker-like, but he’s a decent enough figure that I’m glad to have him.  The cycle is fun, and I’m glad I got to mess with it, but it’s not something I need to own, so this set-up really does work out for both of us.

#2925: Ultra Magnus

ULTRA MAGNUS

TRANSFORMERS: ROBOTS IN DISGUISE (HASBRO)

Faithful readers will probably know that today marks my eighth anniversary of this humble little toy review site.  As with all of my anniversary reviews, I like to take a look at something that’s not quite your average day’s sort of significance, but is rather a little more special to me.  I’ve covered all sorts of various lines in these posts, mostly exploring my earliest days of collecting.  Because of this focus, Transformers is kind of out in the cold, since they’re mostly a recent addition to these collecting habits.  Today, however, I give them some time in the spotlight with, unsurprisingly, an Ultra Magnus.  Look, I like what I like, alright?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ultra Magnus was a Super Class scale release in Hasbro’s Transformers: Robots In Disguise line, hitting retail in 2001, alongside the similarly Super Class scale Optimus Prime (with whom he could combine to form Omega Prime).  In his robot mode, Magnus stands 10 1/2 inches tall and he has 21 workable points of articulation.  The legs are generally rather restricted, largely due to there not being any articulation until the knee, which is about 6 inches up the leg.  On the plus side, the arms get quite a bit of mobility, in classic Magnus fashion, really.  Magnus’s molds were repurposed from Takara’s Car Robots God Magnus figure, based on the animation of the same name, which was adapted into RiD‘s own cartoon equivalent here in the US.  As with the smaller scale Spy Changers version of the character, this Magnus is just all legs.  Just the absolute epitome of legs.  ZZ Tops “Legs,” but in Transformers form.  Guy’s got long legs is what I’m getting at, really.  Given his much larger scale, this release is, of course, a far more complex take on the same design, allowing for a lot more detail work, as well as the already mentioned improved articulation.  It marked a pretty radical change-up from the likes of the G1 line, where larger figures tended to be much more immobile.  At this scale, the kibble from his vehicle mode is also a lot less of an issue, making for a generally cleaner look for Magnus.  Magnus is packed with his “Blue Bolts” cannon, which can be configured into a few different layouts.  There are supposed to be two missiles for it as well, but they’re missing from mine.

Magnus’s alt-mode is an updated, more sci-fi-esque take on his G1-version’s car carrier mode.  The transformation sequence is quite involved, with a lot of moving parts, as well as some old-school partsforming, which requires the legs to be removed and reassembled as the actual car-carrier parts.  You definitely need to take some time to figure this one out, and I actually outsourced it to Max for the first transformation out of a paranoid fear of breaking the thing.  In his vehicle mode, he’s quite sizable, about 11 inches in length.  He’s large enough to hold three of the deluxe class cars from the line.  And hey, all of the wheels are actually working wheels on this version.  With proper rubber tires and everything.  All in all, it’s pretty cool.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This figure is very special to me, for a lot of intersecting reasons.  While I was never a Beast Wars kid, something about the 2001 Robots In Disguise, and especially Ultra Magnus really stuck with me.  I very much wanted this figure as a kid, but at the time, I didn’t quite have the ability to articulate that to my parents, who mostly stuck to getting me the things they knew I liked, rather than the outliers (that’s not a knock against them, by the way; they were genuinely really good at getting me gifts I really appreciated, and I was also enough of a go-with-the-flow kind of person that I probably never once mentioned to them wanting this toy).  So, I never had this has a kid.  I didn’t have any Ultra Magnuses at all, until Siege, when the use of this guy’s alt-mode as a G1-style Magnus’s Cybertronian design was enough to get me in the door and create something of a monster.  For 20 years, this guy was on the back of my mind.

During the period where he was on the back of my mind, he was, at least at some point, on the forefront of the mind of Jason, owner of All Time Toys.  When Jason fought for custody of his oldest son Chance, he wanted Chance to have his own collection of things that the two of them could bond over.  For Chance’s first Christmas, Jason made it a point to go all out and get him some of the best Transformers he could.  This Ultra Magnus was included.  When things got complicated with the custody battle, Jason couldn’t spend Christmas with Chance, and those gifts had to wait.  But Jason won that battle, and Chance got that Christmas, even if it was a little late.

Fifteen years or so later, my crappy IT job that was slowly killing me laid me off in the middle of a pandemic, and I found myself needing full time job, which Jason gave me.  A month later, Jess and I got the news of her cancer, meaning that just as I left a situation that was slowly killing me, Jess was in one of her own.  The next year was unquestionably the hardest of my life, but Jason, Max, and Chance (who was now my coworker) were all there to help me.  In the midst of all that hardship, Chance decided to part with his Ultra Magnus, and gave it to me.  If I’d gotten it all those years ago, it would have never meant this much to me.  But now it’s got so much meaning behind it.  This is my very favorite Ultra Magnus.

Eight Years

Here we are at eight years.  I’d like to say it got here quickly.  I’d like to say it was an easy road.  But it was neither of those things. This past year was a very hard year for me. Probably the hardest I’ve had.  My personal struggles are something I’ve discussed a little bit here, with losing my wife Jess being the very biggest of them all.  I won’t lie, it got a little hard to keep up with things and to keep persevering, but the site also gave me an outlet to channel some of my worst feelings during some of my darkest days.  I made it a point not to quit right away after I lost Jess, but the thought did enter my mind.  She was a very strong influence on this site, and it’s very different without her here.  I knew I wanted to get to today, and see how I felt from here.  I’ve given it a lot of thought, and my plan as it stands right now is to keep going.  I like this side of me, and Jess did too.  She didn’t want me stepping away during her treatment, and I don’t think she’d want me stepping away now.  I may revisit the decision in the coming months, but for now, I’m not done here yet.

Over the course of the last 365 days, I’ve written over 271,000 words about 409 figures, 4 vehicles, 1 radio, and a pizza.  Gotta love the climbing pizza stats there.

This year, the site’s views moved their way up to a cumulative total of over 480,000, over 120,000 of those coming from the last 365 days, absolutely blowing away the already heightened stats of the two prior years.  I picked up 47 more followers, bringing the total to a resounding 277.   I had 99 comments, excluding those made by myself.

Let’s talk about the make-up of this year’s reviews.  Breaking it down by franchises, Marvel is still on top with 138 reviews,  Star Wars is about half of that at 75, and DC isn’t too far behind with 52 . Dealing with toy lines proper, Marvel Legends maintains its spot at the top with 90 reviews, followed by a gap and then The Black Series at 43, and then Minimates wrap things up with 27, holding the third spot by a narrow margin .  By virtue of being the primary manufacturer of the top two entries in both of the last two categories, Hasbro once more takes the number one spot for manufacturers, with 202 reviews, again more than half my total.  Second place is 159 reviews behind, and not even in business anymore, since it’s Kenner with 35. Toy Biz, another not in business company takes the third spot with 25, finally dethroning DST, an actual company that still makes things. That’s gotta hurt.  As of today, I have reviewed 62.4% of my collection, almost a 5% increase from last year.

The past six years, I’ve taken the end of this post to go through my favorite reviews from the past year.  Admittedly, I don’t think I have the clarity to do that this year.  I’m still kind of feeling out having emotions and liking things, and it would probably just wind up being things from happier times, which seems unfair to the back half of the year’s reviews.

I will, however, once again offer my most sincere thank you to all my faithful readers who have stuck by me through all my crazy ramblings, and to all of those who have joined me along the way.  This year, more than others, I couldn’t do this without you guys.  Thank you for being part of finding my new normal.

That’s pretty much it…

#2924: Vision

VISION

AVENGERS: UNITED THEY STAND (TOY BIZ)

“Created by Ultron, Vision was part of a plan to conquer the Avengers. His transparent skin lights up when passing ghost-like through objects. Vision knew Ultron was evil, and helped the Avengers defeat him. He proved invaluable and was asked to join the team. Proud of the symbol he bears as one of Earth’s mightiest, this hero answers the call, ‘Avengers Assemble!'”

Remember a time, way back when, when Vision *wasn’t* a household name?  It was a dark, strange time, you guys.  People, like, didn’t know him, or care about him, and they looked at you weird when you explained his backstory to them.  Brain patterns are a thing, Tim!  Don’t ruin this for me!  But nowadays, Vision’s cool!  That’s where things should be!  Let’s review a figure of him, just to celebrate it!  This has probably been too many exclamation points!  Now I can’t stop, though!  To the review!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Vision was released in the first assortment of Toy Biz’s Avengers: United They Stand tie-in line. In a crazy turn of events, this was the fourth freaking Vision figure from Toy Biz.  Somebody there really liked this guy.  The figure stands 5 1/4 inches tall and he has 15 points of articulation.  Vision’s articulation scheme is generally pretty decent for the era.  The hips could maybe stand to have slightly better range, but he’s otherwise got a great range.  Vision’s sculpt was all-new, and remained unique to him.  He’s based on the character’s look in the show, just like the rest of the line.  Vision’s design for the show was generally one of the more faithful ones, at least in broad strokes terms.  It takes his classic design and sort of techs it up a little bit for something sightly more robotic.  All things considered, it’s not much of a departure from how the MCU would adapt him later, albeit with a slightly different end aesthetic.  The sculpt does quite a nice job of capturing the animation model, and making it fit with the rest of the line.  The cape piece is cloth, but it’s actually quite nicely handled.  There’s a proper hem on the sides and everything.  That’s commitment to quality, right there.  Toy Biz knew, you guys.  They knew this guy was gonna take off.  And good for them.  Vision’s color work went a just a touch lighter than his on-screen model, but it’s generally a bright and eye catching look.  The slight metallics are cool, as are the transparent parts, which are that way to facilitate the light-up feature (unfortunatley no longer working on my figure).  Vision was packed with one of Ultron’s drones from the show’s opening episode.  It can be hooked up to Vision to also light-up, and even has articulated arms. It’s definitely one of the best of these gimmicky extras.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Vision was one of my most wanted figures from this set when they were released, and was also one of my favorite parts of the show as a whole.  They were scarce at their first drop, so he wound up as the third figure I got from the line, but I did finally get one, and he was my first 5-inch figure of the character.  That was definitely significant, which was cool.  He’s still one of my favorites, and he honestly holds up pretty darn well.

Flashback Friday Figure Addendum #0016: Scarlett

SCARLETT

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

What’s this?  Another Flashback Friday Figure Addendum?  Yeah, it’s been like a whole year since I’ve done one of these, I know.  And just like the last time, I’ll say don’t get too attached.

Since the second year of the small-scale G.I. Joe line, way back in 1983, running changes on the figures has been a rather common place thing in the line.  When the first year figures were brought out for a second round along side series 2, they had swivels added just above the elbows, increasing articulation, and helping them better match the other figures in the line.  So, it comes as little surprise that such things are showing up in Classified as well.  The first series of the line featured some notable deviations from prior designs, with a few of the color schemes in particular getting some notable complaints.  Hasbro decided to address this with running changes to three of the launch figures, giving them all-new color schemes for refresh cases.  I’m in a Scarlett mood already today, so why not look at that one? First, though, here’s my review of the original release.

To wrap up up my look at the first assortment of Hasbro’s G.I. Joe relaunch, I’m making my way to the First Lady of the franchise, Shanna O’Hara, aka Scarlett.  Debuting as one of the Original 13 back in the day, Scarlett has a sort of hot-and-cold run when it comes to action figures.  She’ll go long stretches between updates, and finds herself frequently left out of line-ups where she should be included (Sigma 6 being the biggest offender on that front).  Fortunately, she’s right here at the start for Classified.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Scarlett is figure 05 in the Classified Series line-up.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and has 35 points of articulation.  As far as mobility goes, she’s definitely the most limited of the first series figures, thanks to actually just having less articulation.  For the most part, she’s still pretty serviceable on that front, but the elbows are a lot more limited than I’d like, especially given that she’s got a weapon she’s meant to hold two-handed.  Some deeper bends are really needed.  Of all the designs in this first set, Scarlett’s is the one that’s the most far-removed from her original figure.  Now, in her defense, even the original animation and comics designs were a little bit removed from how the figure looked, so she’s already starting from there.  That said, there’s still a lot more modernization and tweaking going on this one.  It kind of makes sense, with her being the least regulation of the original bunch anyway.  She was running around in a leotard and was just shy of a super hero costume, so she’s always been a little bit of an outlier.  She’s also the one most prone to rather sizable re-works as the line progresses, so this is really just the next one of those.  For me, this design really works, because it possesses all of the broad strokes elements that really read as Scarlett, while still fitting in a little bit better with a modern aesthetic.  This design has a nice fusion of practicality and fantasy, and it keeps it pretty fun.  The sculpt does a solid job of bringing her into three dimensions, with a nice set of balanced proportions, and a ton of small detail work that helps her really pop.  In terms of paint, Scarlett is definitely a brighter splash of color than the rest of the assortment.  That’s not a bad thing, and it’s in keeping with usual depictions of her.  The use of the gold that’s been on most of the Joes looks a lot better here, especially when merged with the yellow that’s already there.  I’m also quire a fan of the variation on her hair, which gives it a nice sense of transparency and light.  I did notice a few spots of slop on the base paint for my figure, especially on the wrist guards.  I’m hoping Hasbro can tighten up the paint a little more on this line going forward.  Scarlett is packed with an updated version of her crossbow, plus three knives.  The crossbow is in two parts and has a tendency to pop apart a lot, but is otherwise pretty cool.  The knives can all be stowed on the figure, which gives them a nice extra interactive feel which I really enjoy.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’m a very big fan of Scarlett, so as soon as I saw Snake Eyes, I was waiting to see the corresponding Scarlett.  I know she’s not everyone’s jam, but I really dig this new design a lot, and I like having her to go with my updated Snake Eyes.  I wouldn’t mind seeing a more classic version at some point as well, though, since I’m hardly going to turn down the chance to get another Scarlett figure.

I only wrote that review a year and a half ago, so I can’t really say there are any observable changes in my reviewing style here.  As you can see from the above review, I’m not so opposed to the Scarlett figure as she was released initially.  It’s a very different take, but one that I didn’t feel was too out of place for the character.  The sculpt very definitely didn’t bother me, and that’s fortunate, because it has remained unchanged here.  What has changed is pretty much all of the paint work.  All of the gold and bright blue elements have been replaced, with the gold being swapped for a more reserved tan, and the blue just being absent entirely.  Her undersuit has been changed as well, with a black top in place of the purple from the last one, and tan on the pants in place of the grey from before.  Her hair has also been slightly darkened, and her face has just generally been given a little bit more detailing.  As someone who didn’t have issues with the prior version, I can still say that this one looks emphatically better.  She just really pops on the shelf, and I feel she’s really worth the upgrade.

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

#2923: Scarlett

SCARLETT

G.I. JOE: CORE NINJA SERIES (HASBRO)

“Scarlett is a high-ranking member of G.I. Joe, an elite global special operations unit that fights to keep the world safe from Cobra”

Snake Eyes is, as I’ve elaborated on before here, not a good movie.  And it’s not really even a bad movie that’s particularly fun to watch.  It’s just kind of painful and dull for the most part.  Not every single thing about it sucks, though, and in particular I did like the film’s versions of mainstays Baroness and Scarlett.  On top of that, Hasbro did at least take advantage of the film to have a push on a wider variety of toys.  In addition to the portion of the Classified Series that was devoted to the film, there are also some more basic offerings, geared towards a lower price point, and focusing more on the characters featured within the film.  Generally, I don’t *need* to start collecting yet another Joe line, but I’m a sucker for a decent looking Scarlett figure, so here we are.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Scarlett is technically part of the second assortment of…well, it’s a little hard to track what this line is officially called.  It was solicited to retailers as “G.I. Joe: Core Series”, it’s billed “G.I. Joe Origins: Core Ninja Series” on the cases, and the figures themselves have “Ninja Strike” listed on the front of the box.  I’m going with “Core Ninja Series,” because that seems to be how retailers are referring to it.  The second assortment re-packs the standard Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow from the first, alongside Scarlett, a Red Ninja, and a Night Creeper.  As of right now, only ninja-related stuff has been featured, which I guess makes sense.  The figure stands just over 6 inches tall and she has 16 points of articulation.  The waist joint is slightly impeded by the presence of a spring feature, but you can still ratchet into different spots, so it does still add mobility.  Otherwise, she’s pretty decently articulated.  If she maybe had wrist movement, she’d be pretty much perfect, but wrists have never been standard for Joes, especially at the more basic level, so I guess this works out just fine.  Though this whole line is clearly running off the momentum of the movie, and the included Snake Eyes is undoubtedly movie based, Scarlett herself seems to lean much more heavily on a more evergreen design for the character, rather than trying to directly adapt the movie design.  Her design in the film is honestly one of the best things, but at the same time, I really don’t mind the look they’ve got here.  It feels a lot like her Resolute design, which I always really liked.  It’s just generally a good modernization of her original look, and I like that it’s distinctly different from the Classified design.  The figure’s paint work is rather on the basic side, as is expected for a basic level figure.  The colors are bright and the application is rather thick.  It’s not a bad look, all things considered.  There are details in the sculpt that wind up unpainted, but there are still a surprising number of things that *don’t* go unpainted, given other lines of comparable price levels from Hasbro.  The fact that the overhanging belt strap that goes onto the leg actually gets painted the whole way stands out to me in particular.  Scarlett is packed with a wonky sci-fi rifle, a bow, and two knives.  All of these elements can be combined into a crossbow of sorts, replicating her usual choice of weapon.  It’s a fun gimmick, which gives her a little bit more range of play.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was initially curious about this line when all we had to go by was a price-point, but by the time we actually saw them, and then I actually saw the movie, I kind of had backed off a bit.  That said, we had a couple of cases come into All Time, and I honestly liked Scarlett a lot when I saw her in hand, so I figured I might as well snag her.  She’s honestly a lot of fun, and gives me hope that Hasbro might be able to keep this lower cost line concept going, though perhaps without the movie tie-in.

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

#2922: Lost Galaxy Blue Ranger

LOST GALAXY BLUE RANGER

POWER RANGERS: LIGHTNING COLLECTION (HASBRO)

I go back and forth on my favorite Rangers from a given season of Power Rangers, generally finding myself most enjoying the changes of dynamic that the sixth ranger brings along.  Of the core team, however, my initial connection to Billy, the original team’s Blue Ranger, has always given me a little bit of affinity for the Blue Ranger of any given line-up.  The Blue Rangers do have a tendency to be the unsung heroes of any given season, being pretty central most of the time, but also just shy of being the most central.  What I’m getting at is, really, where’s my “Forever Blue” crossover?  Seems like a missed opportunity.  Well, I’ll just build my own crossover.  With blackjack!  And….okay, actually, forget all that.  I guess I’ll just stick purely with the Rangers.  Anyway, while we’re on the topic of Blue Rangers, let’s look at another one, specifically Kai Chen from In Space‘s follow-up, Lost Galaxy!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Lost Galaxy Blue Ranger is another figure from the ninth standard assortment of Lightning Collection.  He’s the third Galaxy Ranger in the line, and the second of the core team members, following Red back in late 2019.  The figure stands about 6 inches tall and he has 34 points of articulation.  Structurally, he’s, unsurprisingly, largely the same as the Red Galaxy Ranger.  Kai’s another rather average sized person, and the elements were shared between the Ranger costumes in the show, so it makes a degree of sense.  Kai does get a brand new helmet sculpt, which does a nice job capturing his gorilla-themed helmet from the show.  Otherwise, it’s pretty standard issue stuff, and it all works just as well as it has all of the other times.  Kai’s paint work more or less matches up with the Red Ranger in terms of how it works, just with blue in place of the red.  He does get a fair bit more detailing on his helmet design, which is cool, but he’s also still got the slight fuzziness on the transitions from white to blue, like Galaxy Red.  Galaxy Blue is packed with an unmasked head for Kai (sporting a pretty strong likeness), two sets of hands (one set gripping, the other fist/flat combo), the Quasar Saber in both forms, his Transdagger in Cosma Claw form, and a lightning effect for the saber.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I do really like Blue Rangers, and I was still kind of in on the Power Rangers thing for Lost Galaxy, but I didn’t really ever have much of an attachment to Kai, for whatever reason.  I think I was just distracted by the awesomeness that was Magna Defender.  But, if I’m game on this whole Forever Blue thing, Kai’s kind of necessary.  He’s honestly not bad.  Pretty straight forward and by the numbers, but I do like him just a bit more than Galaxy Red, so that’s cool.

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.

#2921: In Space Black Ranger

IN SPACE BLACK RANGER

POWER RANGERS: LIGHTNING COLLECTION (HASBRO)

When it comes to Power Rangers, there’s not much I love more than Power Rangers In Space, the show’s sixth season.  It hit at just the right time for me to catch most of it first run as a kid, and it’s also just genuinely one of the show’s best seasons, all things considered.  As a kid, I never did get the whole line-up in toy form, but I’ve always wanted them, and now, as an adult, that’s something I can more genuinely work on.  Lightning Collection has been doing a pretty alright job for the team, with three members already released, two more already in the pipeline for release, and the sixth showing up somewhere as of yet unrevealed.  Boy, I do sure hope he’s not an exclusive.  That sure wouldn’t make me so happy.  Don’t make me not happy, Hasbro.  Before I descend into madness anymore, let’s look at the latest addition to the In Space line-up, Carlos Vallerte, aka the Black Space Ranger!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

In Space Black Ranger was released in the 9th standard assortment of Hasbro’s Power Rangers: Lightning Collection.  He’s the third Space Ranger to join the line, and is one of two Zordon Era figures in this particular assortment, the other being the Tenga Warrior from Mighty Morphin’.  Carlos follows in his predecessor Adam’s footsteps, with his first figure in the line being his second Ranger incarnation, and also his second Ranger color, since, in a reverse of Adam, Carlos began as a Green Ranger and switched to black in his second season, when the Japanese footage changed over.  The figure stands about 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 34 points of articulation.  Carlos’s mold is a total re-use of the one that we saw used for Andros, which makes total sense, since the male rangers were all pretty close in build, and this was one of the few seasons where the only differences on the helmets were painted.  It was a good mold the first time around, and it’s still a good mold here.  The paint obviously changes things up, swapping the red of the first figure for black, as well as changing the shaping on his visor, and adding the extra lining around the black dome on the helmet, since, well, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to see it.  Carlos is packed with an alternate unmasked head, as well as two sets of hands (gripping and a fist/open gesture combo), his Lunar Lance, Astro Blaster, and an effects piece for the lance.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Completing the In Space team is pretty much the top of my list when it comes to this line, so I’ve been mad hype about each successive figure announced.  I’ve always had something of a soft spot for Carlos in particular, so him being a relatively early addition to the line-up was very cool.  Sure, there’s not a ton of new going on here, but he still works very well, and each additional figure just really makes the whole team dynamic work just a little bit better.  Have I mentioned that I can’t wait to get the rest of the team?

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.

#2920: Lord Zedd & Rita Repulsa

LORD ZEDD & RITA REPULSA

POWER RANGERS: LIGHTNING COLLECTION (HASBRO)

The central villain of the first three seasons of Power Rangers, and perhaps the franchise’s foe with the most iron-clad name recognition is Rita Repulsa.  Unfortunately, despite the franchise being as toy-driven as it is, Rita’s never been quite so lucky in the world of toys.  During the show’s original run, her figure never made it past the prototype stage, and when she finally did get a figure in one of the legacy sets many years later, it was a rather infamously bad offering.  Even in the Lightning Collection, a line generally kinder to villains, she’s stuck in an exclusive two-pack with a figure a lot of people already grabbed.  No respect…

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Rita Repulsa and Lord Zedd are a GameStop-exclusive Power Rangers: Lightning Collection two-pack, released last fall.  Rita is an all-new figure who has as of yet not been planned for another release, while Zedd is almost identical to his single release.

RITA REPULSA

Let’s at least give Rita the courtesy of reviewing her first, shall we?  I mean, she is kind of the star attraction here.  It’s not like anyone was buying the set for Zedd.  No, it’s all about Rita.  Rita was originally completely sourced from Power Rangers‘ re-used Zyuranger footage’s Witch Bandora, portrayed by actress Machiko Soga, and overdubbed by Barbara Goodson.  When they ran out of Zyuranger footage in Season 2, Carla Perez was cast in the part for the new footage (still overdubbed by Goodson), with the reasoning in-universe being an attempt on Rita’s part to try and woo Zedd.  For the purposes of this figure, they’ve chosed to base her on Soga, which is probably the more distinctive of the two actresses, but is also amusing from a standpoint of Soga’s Rita never actually interacting with Zedd, since he was himself a wholly American creation.  All that said, the two looks really aren’t that drastically different, and really, it does make sense to go with the more commonly associated actress.  The figure stands just shy of 6 inches tall and she has 34 points of articulation.  Rita breaks the traditions of what we’ve seen from this line so far and goes for a mixed media set-up for her outfit.  The dress is all cloth, presumably because it allows them to got the slightly cheaper route of re-using one of the female Ranger bodies underneath of it.  Beyond that, she gets a new head, chest piece, feet, hands, and bracelets.  The head is nice because it’s a properly expressive face for the character.  She’s very angry and is gritting her teeth, as she was quite prone to do on the show.  It’s a shame there’s not an extra head with a mad cackling grin, but I suppose that’s an option for perhaps a non-exclusive release down the line.  Rita’s paint work is generally alright.  There’s quite a lot of detailing on the face, which works out surprisingly well, and there’s some extra embroidering on the dress, which gets the proper patterning.  Rita gets quite an involved selection of accessories.  There are two sets of hands, as well as her staff, which make up the more general stuff.  Since the set is *technically* based on “The Wedding” (ignoring the whole “it’s the wrong actress” thing), she also gets her bouquet of flowers, the love potion she uses on Zedd, their wedding cake, and what I believe are supposed to be the Zeo crystals.  That’s actually quite a bit of stuff.

LORD ZEDD

Remember when getting a Lord Zedd was a cool novelty?  Boy, how’d they suck the joy out of this one?  Okay, I guess it’s not all bad. This figure is largely the same as the Series 1 release, just with a touch of extra paint on his hands and accessories.  Probably should have just included those details the first time around, right?  Maybe they could have tried actually chroming the armor.  Or even making it so the armor sits a little more securely.  As it stands, it feels kind of weak and lacking.  I mean, the new paint on the hands does look better and all, but still.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This set being announced as a GameStop-exclusive came not too long after me officially swearing off supporting GameStop as a company, so I was definitely not about rushing out to buy this one.  Likewise, I wasn’t really in a hurry to drop a bunch of money just to get another Lord Zedd, since I already felt rather content with the first one.  I opted to play the waiting game, and it worked out, since one got traded into All Time just a few weeks ago, giving me an easier excuse to pick it up.  Zedd’s improvements are minor, but between the two, this is the one I’ll keep.  Rita’s certainly the star here, and while she’s not perfect, she is honestly pretty good.  Certainly the best Rita figure out there, and I do appreciate them giving her all the extras to help offset the cost.  Ultimately, I feel this set shouldn’t have been an exclusive, I think it should have been earlier in the line, and I think it should have been a debut for both characters contained, because that would have generally made it a little more appealing.  There are drawbacks to that, too, of course, but it just seems more sensible than what we ended up with.  Hopefully, Hasbro’s planning to give Rita another release on her own, so that fans aren’t forced to pay a premium and wind up with an extra Zedd.

#2919: Van Helsing

VAN HELSING

DRACULA (MEGO)

It’s October, which is classically a kind of a spooky month, I guess.  I don’t frequently get too invested in all the spooky stuff the way some people do, but I can enjoy it well enough, and I’ve certainly got some knowledge of various things spooky.  When it comes to classic monsters, Universal Studios really set the pace in the ’30s and ’40s, but as they began to fade away, many of those same monsters would be reimagined by Hammer Film Productions, whose horror films became a staple of the ’60s and ’70s.  Perhaps their best known work are their Dracula films, starring the late Christopher Lee in the titular role.  Playing opposite Lee in the role of heroic vampire Dr. Van Helsing, was Peter Cushing, whose take on Van Helsing (and one of his descendants) would help to shape later portrayals of the character.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Van Helsing is part of Mego’s Horror line, and was released in the latest assortment of mixed figures.  He was originally supposed to be released at the beginning of August, but he crept into the end of September.  As with other entries in the line, he’s showing up in a mix of specialty stores and select Targets.  The figure stands 8 inches tall and he has 16 points of articulation.  He’s build on the updated Type 2 body, which is a decent enough standard starting point.  Cushing was just a pretty regular guy.  The all-new head sculpt here does a pretty great job of capturing Cushing’s likeness.  It’s not often that we see a younger Cushing in toy form, but it works out well here.  He’s got rather distinctive features, and they lend themselves to this style pretty well.  This is actually the second time Cushing’s gotten a Mego-style figure, since he was also in Classic TV Toys’ Space: 1999 line.  I think the likeness here is a little bit better.  The paint work is pretty basic, but it gets the job done, and everything is pretty much in line with where it should be.  Van Helsing is clearly meant to based on his look from the first Hammer Dracula film, and he gets an outfit based on that.  It features his jacket, shirt/tie (one piece like on the Cheers figures), pants, and a pair of rubber shores.  They’re all really goofy looking, but, of course, that’s really part of the style, and he matches well.  Van Helsing is packed with a rather small stake, which is probably going to go flying the first time he gets jostled, being lost for the rest of eternity.  Or something like that.  Given is tendency to use both a hammer and stake together in the films, just the stake is perhaps a little light.  Honestly, I would have liked to get the candlesticks for the cross he makes during the film’s climactic battle, but I guess those might be a little harder for him to hold properly.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Van Helsing was initially intended as a birthday present from my parents, but he got delayed, so I had to wait a bit for him.  Worse things have happened.  While I’m not necessarily the biggest Hammer Horror fan, I’ve always quite liked Cushing’s take on Van Helsing, and I’m glad he finally got some figure treatment.  He’s goofy and hokey, but I do really like him.

There’s a slightly more serious side to this one as well, I suppose.  In the months since losing Jess, I’ve been trying to find comfort in the stories of people who have experienced a loss similar to my own.  In reading up more on Peter Cushing, and specifically how he responded to the death of his wife in 1971, I really felt like I found a kindred spirit.  His habits and the words he said about his loss really have resonated with me, and the fact that he was able to continue his life in some way after such a devastating loss has served as an inspiration to me.  So this figure, as hokey as he may be, really serves as a symbol to me, and how I can’t just give up.  And I like that.