#2071: Death’s Head II

DEATH’S HEAD II

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

A cyborg hero with a repertoire of super abilities, Death’s Head II has incredible physical strength, and an even stronger personality.”

Remember when I talked about Death’s Head, the character that proves that TransformersDoctor Who, and the entirety of the Marvel Universe are all in the same canon?  Well, did you know there was another?  Yeah.  After the cult success of the first Death’s Head, there were plans to make the character a central part of a push to gain a wider audience for Marvel’s UK line.  There were, however, some editorial disagreements, which resulted in the original character being dropped, and being replaced by a new iteration, dubbed “Death’s Head II.”  He never caught on the same way the original did, but he did get a Marvel Legends figure first.  So, I guess he’s got that going for him?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Death’s Head II–sorry, *Marvel’s* Death’s Head II, because those double possessives are still at work–was part of the Mantis Series of Marvel Legends, which was the second Guardians of the Galaxy assortment of 2017.  You may have noted that I already reviewed a completed Mantis figure back when the series was new, and there was nary a Death’s Head in sight.  That’s because he was the one figure not necessary to finish Mantis (though he wasn’t the double-pack; that was Rocket), so I (and a lot of other people) didn’t pick him up with the rest of the set. The figure stands just shy of 8 inches tall and he has 28 points of articulation.  Death’s Head II was the first figure to make use of the Colossus body after Piotr introduced it, and still the only other figure to make use of the bulk of it, surprisingly.  That’ll change later this year with the Classic Colossus, but still, I’d expected to see it crop up more.  Justifying the (then) new tooling seems like the primary reason for this guy’s existence, though it’s worth noting that he ends up with quite a number of new pieces.  The head, lower arms, shins, and feet are all new to this particular, as is the add-on for his belt.  The new parts mesh well with the old, and they seem to make for a decent recreation of his comics design, for better or for worse.  The head in particular has some really sharp detail work, which I think really gives the figure a striking look.  One of the abilities of Death’s Head II was morphing his limbs into weapons, because that’s just how things were in the ’90s.  Yes, even I could morph my limbs into weapons in the ’90s, and it’s a feat I truly miss….Sorry, got distracted.  DH2’s right arm is demonstrating this ability of his, and I guess it’s kind of cool in an entirely overboard sort of way.  DH2’s paintwork is actually quite eye-catching, and while the transitions between metallic and non-metallic blue on the main body aren’t always very smooth, I do think the figure has a rather clean, very bold appearance.  Though he had no BaF piece, DH2 wasn’t without accessories.  No, he has an extra left hand…which is…pointing?  Gripping?  Point-gripping?  I got nothing.  It’s a weird extra.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve got no attachment to the second Death’s Head.  The first is cool, but the second has pretty much none of the things I like about the first, and since he had no Mantis piece, this figure was a very easy skip for me, at least at full price.  However, this assortment wound up at Five Below late last year, and at a quarter of his original value, the figure became a little more appealing.  He’s still not great, and I feel like they could have made the original with about the same amount of effort, but then I guess I wouldn’t have gotten him for cheap.  He’s honestly not a bad figure, but I just don’t care about the character or the design he’s replicating, which is probably part of why he’s been sitting on my desk waiting to be reviewed for almost a year.

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#2070: Optimus Prime – Galaxy Upgrade

OPTIMUS PRIME — GALAXY UPGRADE

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE (HASBRO)

A major selling point of War For Cybertron: Siege is its throwbacks to the franchise’s older incarnations.  The vast majority of the line is very definitely very G1-inspired (sensible, since that’s the incarnation most people know and for which they have the greatest nostalgia), but there are some throwbacks to more modern incarnations.  Perhaps one of the most modern is the latest incarnation of Autobot Leader Optimus Prime.  The first Optimus went back to the original design, where as the latest, dubbed “Galaxy Upgrade,” is pattered after Optimus from 2005’s Transformers: Cybertron (Galaxy Force in Japan).  That’s the figure I’m taking a look at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Galaxy Upgrade Optimus Prime is one half of the second wave of Leader Class figures from Siege, with the other half being a re-issue of last wave’s Shockwave.  Its our second (and as far as we know last) Optimus for Siege, serving as something of a mid-season-upgrade (or “Magical Girl Power-up” according to Super Awesome Fiancee, and then she said “Auto-Girls, roll out!” accompanied by an assortment of whooshing sounds).  In his initial robot mode, he stands 7 1/4 inches tall and he has 22 points of articulation.  As pretty much everyone had expected as soon as Ultra Magnus showed up with an all-new mold, this Optimus is built on the same base body.  For the purposes of his fully armored up mode, there aren’t quite as many shared parts, with the only truly lifted parts being the “boots”, and even then they’re slightly modified, in order to streamline them a bit more from what Magnus was sporting.  As a whole, streamlined is a good description for the armored up appearance.  It’s fitting, seeing as it’s clearly meant for flight, what with the wings and all.  The wings have been scaled down a bit from their prior appearance, likely in an effort to keep him within the new Leader Class scaling, but they’re still sizable enough to make the proper impression.  The large cannons are permanently affixed to the wing pack, and I was initially expecting them to be a little bit restricting, but they actually have a decent range and fold up rather nicely on his back when they’re not in use.

In terms of alt modes, Optimus follows the trend set by Ultra Magnus, with three distinct ones.  The first is the core bot mode, and this is the one where the Magnus re-use becomes the most evident, as they’re virtually the same.  The only sculptural (but not functional) difference is the tooling on the front of his torso, as well as a swapped out front to is pelvis piece.  Neither are overly different; the pelvis in particular is easily missed, but the new torso is slightly more pointed and, following the trend of the outer armor, more streamlined when compared to Magnus.  It’s a subtle change, but one that really sells the differences between the characters.  A less subtle change is the color scheme, which swaps out the monochromatic look of Magnus for something more in line with Optimus’ usual primary colors.  This, coupled with the change in sculpt, makes the figure undeniably Optimus Prime, rather than Prime-inspired like it was before.

The next mode is the basic truck mode.  Unsurprisingly, it’s pretty similar to Magnus, but with the expected changes to the front of the cab.  There’s some slight partsforming that goes on for this mode, with the forearm pieces from the armored up mode becoming the front grill of the truck, which I actually think works out a little better than the permanently attached piece from Magnus.  This base mode is the starting point for his final mode, which adds back in his armor from his super mode, to make a more involved truck.  There’s even more partsforming going on here, moreso than we saw on Magnus, and by and large I found this transformation a little more complicated, though it certainly picked up as I moved through the process.  Like Magnus, Prime is packed with two “W-30 Magnetic Inducer Launchers” (the pistols), and also gets a “JF-15 Gravity Force Laser” (the rifle).

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After becoming thoroughly hooked on the line and starting to survey the upcoming releases, there was one figure I felt I could pass with utmost certainty: this guy.  I already had the Voyager Optimus, I already had the Leader Ultra Magnus, so why would I need this?  To add to that, I’m really not *that* much of an Optimus fan, so I’d rationalized that this guy was definitely non-essential.  And then I saw him in-person, and well, I kind of caved.  Yeah.  I’m weak.  I’ve got no excuse.  Ultimately, Voyager Optimus is still going to be my go-to Optimus, and Magnus is still my favorite Leader, but I can’t deny that this guy is a lot of fun.

I grabbed my Galaxy Upgrade Optimus from my friends at All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for Transformers, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2069: Rebel Trooper

REBEL TROOPER

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Drawn from many homeworlds and species, Rebel troopers were the Alliance’s front-line soldiers in the war against the Empire. They defended the Alliance’s leaders on countless worlds and during many operations, changing uniforms and tactics to meet each challenge.”

We’ve gotten all manner of Imperial Troops and variants thereof in Hasbro’s Star Wars: The Black Series, but surprisingly few of the Rebellion’s equivalents.  In fact, the figure I’m looking at today is the first and so far only Rebel Trooper to grace this particular line.  Fittingly, he’s one of the very first Rebel Troopers we ever see, as one of the poor souls who stand-off against Vader and his Imperial Stormtroopers in A New Hope‘s opening minutes.  Though overlooked by the vintage line, these Rebel Fleet Troopers have been a fixture of the line since the ’90s, and continue to be so here.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Rebel Trooper is figure 69 in The Black Series, and shipped to stores alongside Bespin Han and Tobias Beckett.  The thing about Rebel Troopers is that they aren’t quite as straight-forward army builders as Stormtroopers or Clone Troopers, since their faces are pretty much always visible.  The options laid before toy makers are either to create some sort of amalgamated set of features for a more generic figure, or settle on one particular face in the crowd.  This figure goes for the latter option, and is directly patterned on Lt. Pello Scrambas, as played by extra Eddie Eddon in the film.  Scrambas is the Fleet Trooper who we actually get a nice, static shot of head-on in the film, and is subsequently the one who’s usually picked to be the go-to Rebel Fleet Trooper when the merch comes around, and, of course, the Star Wars fanbase being what he is, he’s got a name and a whole backstory that most people will never know.  Whatever the case, basing the figure on him is definitely a good choice.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  It’s an all-new sculpt, as is the usual trend for Black Series releases.  Unlike the last Rebel Fleet Trooper I looked at, this one doesn’t look like he’s been hitting the steroids hardcore, and actually matches the rather average looking guys from the movie.  The detailing on his uniform is quite accurate, and his vest is a removable piece, as it tends to be.  What doesn’t tend to be a removable piece is the helmet, but it is here.  I takes a little work to get it seated just right on his head, but once in place it stays there, and it’s nicely scaled to the head.  The head is sporting a solid likeness of Eddon as we see him in the movie, with a fully formed, and very 70s-looking hair style.  This is definitely another very strong likeness, and probably one of their best in the line (though they’ve been getting pretty solid in general lately). The Trooper’s paintwork is fairly solid.  There’s not a whole lot going on, but it’s a clean translation of how he looks in the film.  The face, of course, uses the printed technique, which makes him suitably lifelike.  The Rebel Fleet Trooper is packed with his standard blaster (which can be stowed in his holster) as well as a non-A New Hope accessory, the data file containing the Death Star plans as seen in Rogue One.   Sure, this specific Rebel didn’t have it, but it’s a fun extra nonetheless.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The assortment this guy came from wasn’t super plentiful around me, and this guy, as an army builder, was even less plentiful.  I wasn’t thrilled about that, and never did end up finding him at regular retail.  Fortunately, one got traded into All Time Toys a few weeks ago, and I was able to add him to my collection.  I’m glad I did, because he’s a very nice addition to the line.  Here’s to hoping for the Hoth and Endor Troopers done with the same level of quality.

#2068: Daredevil – Vigilante Edition

DAREDEVIL — VIGILANTE EDITION

ONE:12 COLLECTIVE (MEZCO)

Of the assortment of Netflix-original Marvel series, there’s always been a clear winner for me: Daredevil.  While I’ll admit there was a slight stumble in the back half of the show’s second season, season three was a very strong finish, resulting in a very solid all-around show, and one that was far more even than everything else from the Marvel-Netflix partnership.  Merchandise was a little sparse for all of the shows, but Daredevil made out the best, with at least one figure from all of the main holders of the Marvel license.  This included Mezco, who actually put together two different variants of the main character.  I’ll be looking at his Season 1 garb today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Daredevil — Vigilante Edition was available as a Mezco Store-exclusive, as part of their over-arching One:12 Collective line, and starting heading to collectors in tandem with his main release counterpart at the beginning of the month.  As I touched on in the intro, this figure is based on Matt’s prototype costume from the first season of the show, and is in a roundabout way fairly similar to his Season 3 attire as well (though not a pitch-perfect match).  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and has over 30 points of articulation.

As with most One:12 figures, Daredevil is packed with two different heads.  The one he comes wearing is pretty standard, masked and with a fairly neutral expression.  It does a respectable job of capturing Charlie Cox’s likeness for what we can see of the face, and the mask is sculpted with texture to match the real thing (especially important on a figure such as this, where it’s mixed media).  The joint is at the base of the neck, which means its essentially hidden.  It’s a decent choice from an aesthetic standpoint, though I did find it to be slightly limiting on the posing front.  Not terribly so, of course, and there’s still a lot of natural-looking poses you can get him into without issues.  The paintwork on the head is a decent piece of work.  The mask is just a straight black, but there’s some quite subtle, quite lifelike work on the lower half of the face.  The second head is quite similar to the first, still being masked, but this time Matt’s just a little bit worse for wear.  His expression is a little more pained, with his mouth open and his teeth exposed, as if he’s grimacing to hold back some of that paint.  To match the more beaten expression, the paint also adds in a little bit of blood.  While I was a little bummed there was no fully unmasked head featured (or possibly even the mask with the white lining from Season 3), Matt get’s the snot beaten out of him frequently enough in Season 1 that this is a sensible choice of extra.  I just wish there were some way to showcase the battle damage on the rest of the figure.

Speaking about the rest of the figure, let’s talk about that now, shall we?  Daredevil is built on a body that’s smaller than any of the other figure’s I’ve looked at, which makes sense, since Charlie Cox isn’t a huge guy.  It’s definitely a good fit, it’s well-articulated, and it looks suitably realistic under the costume.  Said costume is made up of his shirt and pants (actually a jumpsuit type thing masquerading as two separate garments), a plastic belt, holster for his eskrima sticks, and a pair of sculpted boots.  It’s a good match for his hastily thrown together appearance from Season 1, and I do appreciate that they remembered details like the red piping on his shoulders and the slight bit of extra padding on his lower arms.  The only thing that bugged me a bit was the printed white line on each side of the pants, clearly meant to represent a zippered pocket.  Obviously, a zipper’s virtually impossible to get right at this scale, but I honestly think I’d have preferred they’d just left the detail off entirely.  As it is, it kind of takes me out of the figure a little bit.

Daredevil includes a decent selection of extras, but definitely one that’s scaled back a bit from other offerings.  He has three pairs of hands (relaxed, gripping, and fists), his eskrima sticks, and a display stand with the Daredevil logo on it. It covers the basics, but not much else.  The hands are certainly useful, but I would have liked some more display options, such as the wrapped hands from later in the season, or some parts to turn him into a Season 3 DD.

It’s not often that I touch on the packaging for my figures, but I like DD’s enough to give it a mention.  It’s a little smaller than the average One:12 box, and in place of the usual product images on the back, there’s a rather nice illustration, based on Season 3 of the show.  It makes for a very nice backdrop for the figure.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I love Daredevil, especially the first season, and the prototype costume is definitely a favorite look of mine.  I was a little bummed that both DST and Hasbro passed over it, and I was less than thrilled by their final figures, so I was definitely looking for something else to be my TV Daredevil.  When this figure was show off, I really wanted one, but I missed out on him on the Mezco store.  I jumped on the waitlist, but honestly wasn’t expecting much.  I was quite happy when it coverted, and even happier when he shipped.  I like a lot about this figure, and he’s definitely my favorite version of the show’s take on the character.  I do feel he was a little pricey for what you get, and were he any other character, I’d probably have passed.  Still, he’s a very nice figure, and a very nice addition to my collection.

#2067: Janine Melnitz & Samhain

JANINE MELNITZ & SAMHAIN

REAL GHOSTBUSTERS RETRO ACTION HEROES (MATTEL)

There was a real drought of Ghostbusters product in the ’90s and ’00s, no doubt tied to there being a real drought of Ghostbusters anything in the ’90s and ’00s.  When 2009 reunited the original cast for a video game sequel, the franchise was given a shot in the arm, and toymakers, most notably Mattel, went full force.  It was Ghostbusters galore for a couple of years, as we got the crew in just about every style you could think of.  Mattel was on something of a Mego-revival kick at the time, so the Real Ghostbusters cartoon got in on that treatment.  Today, I’m looking at the only non-main team offering from the line, Janine Melnitz and Samhain!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Janine and Samhain were the last offering in the Real Ghostbusters Retro Action Heroes line, hitting shelves a few months after the main four ‘busters.  The pack was an exclusive to Toys R Us, though like the rest of the line, there was no specific denotation of this.  There was an elaborate cardboard back-drop behind the figures in the box as well, which served as a “playset” version of the firehouse, though it was really just a very tall backdrop.

JANINE MELNITZ

A more strictly supporting character in the movies, the Real Ghostbusters cartoon gave Janine the opportunity to get in on the action a bit more frequently.  Subsequently, this figure follows that set-up, presenting her in gear to match the rest of the ‘busters.  The figure stands about 7 1/2 inches tall and she has 18 points of articulation.  She used Mattel’s equivalent to the Mego female body, which is overall a pretty decent match for the original, barring one major issue: those hands.  Just as they patterned parts of the male body on Big Jim, the female body, specifically the hands, takes influence from Barbie.  The end result is that she has hands that aren’t designed for holding anything, which is in pretty stark contrast to all the stuff she’s clearly designed to hold.  Janine got a new headsculpt, which is pretty much on par with the others in the line.  It’s a solid match for her cartoon design, and they’ve even managed to not make those glasses look atrocious.  Janine has a cloth jumpsuit, similar to the others, but obviously more tailored for this specific body, as well as a pair of rubber boots (taken from Wonder Woman, meaning she’s hiding peaked boots under the suit), and the same proton pack used for the others.  Janine also got all of the equipment that was divi-ed up amongst the others, the PKE meter, Ghost Sniffer, and Ghost Trap.  Most importantly, she gets one new accessory, the Ghostbusters “mascot” Slimer.  He’s a little on the small side, but it was nice that he didn’t get totally overlooked for this line.

SAMHAIN

The Ghost of Halloween is one of the few recurring ghost foes for the ‘busters, with a handful of appearances in Real Ghostbusters and a pair of focus episodes in that show’s sequel Extreme Ghostbusters.  Also, unlike the other prominent ghost, the Staypuft Marshmallow Man, he could be built using mostly standard parts.  And so he is.  He’s just the basic male body, with a pumpkin head and a robe thrown over it.  That’s really kind of it.  I mean, I guess the pumpkin head is kind of distinct, and the robe has a nice flow about it, but…he’s just not a lot to talk about.  And, without any accessories of his own, there’s not even any fun side extras to discuss…so that’s really about it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was actually pretty darn supportive of this line when they were new, and, having picked up the main four as I found them, I was quite happy to find this one at retail and complete the set.  Janine’s pretty solid, and Slimer’s a neat little addition to the collection.  Samhain doesn’t really do much for me, but I suppose it’s not the worst thing in the world to give the ‘busters something to, you know, bust.

 

#2066: A-Wing Pilot

A-WING PILOT

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

Our first glimpse of the Rebel pilots in A New Hope had them all wearing the same uniform, be they X-Wing or Y-Wing pilots.  Empire continued the trend for the snowspeeders as well.  It wasn’t until Return of the Jedi that the idea of fighter-specific pilot uniforms really came into play, with the A-Wing and B-Wing pilots being granted brand-new designs.  The toyline took advantage of these new looks and they were introduced into the vintage line pretty quickly.  The B-Wing pilot would end up being absent from Power of the Force II, but the A-Wing pilot got his due, and that’s the figure I’m looking at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The A-Wing Pilot was included with the A-Wing proper, released in 1997, during the third year of Power of the Force II.  While a lot of the PotF2 vehicles came sans-pilot, I guess they decided the A-Wing pilot just wasn’t exciting enough to sell on his own.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  The A-Wing Pilot’s sculpt was unique to him, and it’s fairly decent, if maybe not all that thrilling.  He fits the general aesthetic of the line three years in, meaning that the worst of the stylization is gone, and he’s not pre-posed to speak of, but he’s still not quite at the high point of the line.  He’s a little bulkier than pilots tend to be, but not ridiculously so.  I do like that his face isn’t just a complete blank slate; there’s a bit of character there.  Curiously, this figure lacks peg-holes on his feet, something that’s unique to him.  They’ve been a standard feature of the line for quite some time, but for some reason this guy got skipped.  It’s strange to say the least.  His paintwork is as straightforward as anyone else from the line, meaning he’s clean, and pretty much accurate to the source material, but very definitely basic.  The A-Wing Pilot included no accessories of his own, being an accessory himself.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I don’t own the A-Wing, and I never did.  But, I kind of like pilots, so I picked this guy up loose from All Time, because why not.  I had store credit, and I was on one of my PotF binges.  He’s not a terribly impressive figure, but then he was never really meant to be; his purpose is to fill a cockpit, and in that regard, I guess he’s alright.

As noted above, I grabbed this guy from All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2065: Hawk

HAWK

G.I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO (HASBRO)

“Hawk comes from a well established (real loaded) family. He’s a West Point graduate, top of class and has seen action in a number of trouble spots. Graduated: Advanced Infanty Training; Covert Ops School. Served on Cadre, North Atlantic Training; Covert Ops School. Served on Cadre, North Atlantic Range Command and USA ENG COM EVR Missile and Radar Training; (classified). Qualified Expert: M-16; M-1911A1 auto-pistol.”

When Hasbro relaunched G.I. Joe under the “Real American Hero” banner in 1982, they did so with a team of thirteen Joes, built from a share pool of parts.  Since Duke, the team’s field leader, wouldn’t be introduced until 1983 (and as a mail-away at that), the team’s leader was instead Clayton “Hawk” Abernathy, the original blond leader guy…who would eventually become the brunette leader guy to avoid confusion.  Today’s figure, however, predates that change.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Hawk was released as part of the very first assortment of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero in 1982, and came packaged with the Mobile Missile System (MMS for short).  Like all of the ’82 figures, he was available in ’82 with straight-arms (i.e. no bicep swivel) and again in ’83, this time with swivel arms.  Furthermore, the ’82 releases had either thin or thick thumbs, depending on production date. As you can no-doubt tell from my Hawk’s broken (and therefore thin) thumb, he’s the earliest release.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 12 points of articulation (because of the missing bicep swivels).  As I noted in the intro, the original thirteen were built from the same pool of parts.  Nothing about Hawk is actually unique to him.  The head was shared between him, Flash, Shortfuse, and Steeler, with only the hair color differentiating them.  As I noted in my Flash review, it’s a generic enough sculpt that the small changes do actually work pretty well to sell them as different characters, much in the same vein as the original 12-inch figures.  The torso he shared with Snake Eyes and Stalker, the arms with Grunt, Shortfuse, Stalker, Snake Eyes, and Zap, and the legs with Breaker, Clutch, Grunt, Rock and Roll, Shortfuse, Steeler, Stalker, and Zap.  Since the original Joes were a little more about the uniformed appearance, the mix and match approach actually works out pretty well.  The original Joes were very basic in their paintwork, with a drab color set and sparse applications.  Hawk’s is reasonable enough, though there’s definitely some wear on mine.  Hawk had no weapons (apart from the MMS), but he was packed with a helmet and visor, which is the same as Flash’s.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve been a fan of Hawk since early on in my Joe collecting, but the vintage Hawk is a rather recent addition to my collection.  I found him in rather ratty shape in a collection that was traded into All Time Toys, and decided to bring him home and rehabilitate him a bit. There’s not a lot going on with him as a figure purely on his own, but as the very first version of the character and one of the first Joes, he’s pretty sweet to add to the collection.

As I noted, I got they guy from All Time Toys, who are absolutely swimming in vintage Joes at the moment, so check out the Joe section of their eBay page here.  If you’re looking for other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2064: Infamous Iron Man

INFAMOUS IRON MAN

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Once one of the world’s most evil villains, Infamous Iron Man Victor Von Doom has a change of allegience and assumes a new identity as the tech-powered hero, Iron Man.”

Victor Von Doom (not to be confused with Victor *con* Doom, which is Victor with Doom, and is what my computer wanted to put there), better known as Doctor Doom, is perhaps the Marvel Universe’s greatest villain.  And, of course, being the top villain means also getting a story evry so often where you stop being a villain and try to be a hero.  Doctor Doom’s actually been there a couple of times, but was there most recently after the fallout of 2015’s Secret Wars, which eventually led to him taking over the role of Iron Man for a bit.  That’s the source of Doom’s latest figure, dubbed the “Infamous Iron Man.”

THE FIGURE ITESELF

Infamous Iron Man is the latest Walgreens-exclusive Marvel Legends release, and he started hitting stores in early May.  As a Doctor Doom-variant, he’s well at home with the Fantastic Four-theme that’s persisted through the last few years of Walgreens exclusives.  Like his team of nemeses, Victor’s been away from Legends for a little while, with this being his first figure in seven years.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  In the comics, Victor’s Infamous Iron Man suit was a re-working of Tony’s most recent ANAD armor, and the figure follows true to that, re-using the molds of the Okoye Series Iron Man.  It’s honestly my favorite Iron Man sculpt in recent years, so I don’t mind seeing it crop up again, especially since it’s accurate to the source material.  The base figure is mostly identical between the two of them, with only the head getting a slight tweak to the back to allow for the hood to be attached.  Speaking of the hood, both it and the cape are new parts.  The appearance is nice, and I certainly dig the sculpted texture, but I don’t know how crazy I am about the implementation.  The hood is permanently affixed to the head, but the cape isn’t actually attached in any way; it just rests there.  And while the hood can hold it in place in most poses, it still slides off more often than I’d like.  The paint on Victor is the main change-up, since it transitions him into his more classic “Doom” colors, being predominately grey and silver.  The application’s mostly pretty good, but there’s something about the outlining on the face plate that looks a little goofy to me.  Doom is packed with two repulsor blast hands, and matching repulsor blasts, as well as the lightning effects in a matching purple, and an unmasked Victor Von Doom head.  The unmasked head is definitely my favorite piece, and I only wish it was easier to use it in conjunction with the cape.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This one is technically Max’s fault, but he gets a bit of a pass, since it’s mostly circumstantial.  I fully intended to buy this figure on my own, but he happened to find one before me, and was nice enough to pick it up for me.  There are a few notable issues with this figure, however they mostly get a pass from this guy being undeniably a placeholder for the inevitable classic Doom figure down the road.  As it stands, he’s more fun than frustration, which I can get behind.

#2063: Dutch & Linn

DUTCH & LINN

ALIEN VS. PREDATOR (NECA)

“Terror grips the city of San Drad as it is overwhelmed by a mysterious outbreak of aliens.  The cybernetically-enhanced Major Dutch Schaefer and Lt. Linn Kurosawa of the USCMC are surrounded by a swarm of Xenomorph drones when a pair of unlikely allies – Predators – appear and offer a temporary alliance.  Now it’s a battle to end them all as human and Predator join forces against unending waves of deadly Xenomorphs!”

In 1994, with the golden years of both franchises firmly behind them, Aliens and Predator decided to meet in the middle, and dive headlong into the world of Alien Vs. Predator, in all its shapes and forms.  While it would take us another decade to actually get a movie made out of that concept, one was in the works, and a script was drafted for a mid-90s release.  Capcom was contacted to make an arcade game to tie-in with the film, and when the film fell through, decided to go ahead and release the game anyway.  Players could choose between four playable characters on their trek to mow down Xenos.  There were two variants of Predator, and then there were Dutch and Linn, who I’m taking a look at today.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Dutch and Linn are a two-pack release as part of NECA’s game-based Alien Vs. Predator line.  They hit shelves between the Predators and the Aliens, which I guess makes some sense.  Both follow NECA’s trend of video game figures filtered through the lens of pseudo realism.

DUTCH

Major Alan “Dutch” Schaefer was no stranger to that whole Predator thing, being the main protagonist of the first movie and all.  He’s also no stranger to the NECA thing….being the protagonist of the first movie and all.  And, given Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ’90s stardom, it’s no surprise that there were plans to include him in the film crossover.  Whether he would have actually been cybernetically-enhanced in the movie is anyone’s guess, but it was a cool game concept.  The figure stands 7 inches tall and he has 26 points of articulation.  Unsurprisingly, this Dutch figure makes use of the molds from NECA’s previous Dutch figures.  As I noted when I reviewed the Contra figures that were also built on this body, it’s a strong starting point, and still remains one of NECA’s best bodies.  Dutch gets a new, slightly less Schwarzenegger-looking head, plus a new belt and knee/elbow pads.  And, of course, most notably, he gets a new right arm, replicating his big robot arm from the game.  Boy is this a thing of beauty.  It’s a clean sculpt, and it’s got working pistons and joints in all the proper spots.  It could have easily been badly articulated or overly fragile, but it’s neither one of those things, and it even manages to be pretty well balanced on the figure, so he won’t fall over as much as you might expect.  Man, is that a cool arm.  Dutch’s paintwork follows the usual NECA classic video-game trend, with actual painted shading and lighting, simulating the way the sprites in the game are painted.  It’s surprisingly subtle on Dutch, and adds a pop to the figure without making him look weird from non-highlighted angles.  Dutch is packed with an extra, slightly more relaxed hand for his robot arm, as well as a fire-effect piece to plug onto the end.

LINN

Lt. Linn Kurosawa was a brand new addition for the game, though given that she was given the Aliens connection, one has to wonder if at some point in the process she was meant to be a returning Aliens franchise character.  Whatever the case, she’s just as prominent in the game as Dutch, and a natural choice here.  The figure is 6 1/2 inches tall and has 25 points of articulation (including a balljoint on her pony tail; that’s pretty darn cool).  Though she’s a new character, she’s not all-new pieces.  She’s instead built on some of Pvt Vasquez’s parts.  Given they’re both USCMC, it’s s pretty sensible bit of re-use.  Like Dutch, there are still plenty of new parts, including a new head and torso, as well as new dressing for the arms and legs.  If Dutch is NECA’s best male body, Vasquez is their best female, so Linn’s got another good starting point.  The new parts are all pretty good, though she doesn’t have anything that immediately stands out the way Dutch’s robot arm did.  Still, a pretty solid sculpt all around.  The paint on Linn is certainly bright and eye-catching, though I did notice that it seemed a little more prone to slop and bleed over than Dutch’s.  You might want to keep an eye on that.  Linn is packed with a katana, and a handgun, with right hands to match each of them.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve not played the game these two are based on, but I’ve always liked the designs, especially Dutch.  While I passed on the rest of the game figures, I liked these two enough in-person that I didn’t want to pass on them.  Dutch is probably one of my favorite NECA figures, truth be told.  That robot arm is just so much fun!  Linn may not have the wow factor that Dutch is, but I didn’t feel like I was gipped by having to buy her as well.  All-in-all a very fun set.

I picked this set up from All Time Toys, where it can still be purchased here.  If you’re looking for other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2062: Superman – The Dark Side

SUPERMAN – DARK

ELSEWORLDS (DC DIRECT)

After landing on the planet Apokolips instead of Earth, Kal-El is raised to be a merciless soldier, becoming Darkseid’s ultimate weapon in the war with New Genesis”

I’ve spoken once before of DC’s “Elseworlds” line, which they launched in 1989 as a throwback to their “Imaginary Stories” of the Silver Age.  It was actually a pretty big success throughout the ’90s, before being put on a hiatus in 2003.  While it was on hold, there was still some recognition of its importance in DC’s history, in the form of a line of dedicated figures, courtesy of DC Direct.  Numerous stories were given coverage, including 1998’s Superman: The Dark Side, a tale which, as the bio so notes, re-imagines Kal-El as landing on Apokolips and becoming a villainous New God.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Superman was released in 2007 as part of the fourth (and final) series of DC Direct’s Elseworlds line.  He was available in both “Good” and “Dark” variations.  This would be the “Dark” one.  Of the two, it’s certainly the less classically Superman-styled, and hits a lot of the same beats as the brainwashed Superman’s design from Superman: The Animated Series‘ “Legacy.”  The figure stands 6 3/4 inches tall and he has 13 points of articulation.  DCD was still kind of figuring out the whole articulation thing at this point, so Superman’s not an overly poseable figure.  I suppose he should consider himself lucky that he didn’t get stuck in an uncomfortable pre-pose, like that poor New Frontier Batman.  Instead, he’s just got a fairly basic standing pose, which isn’t that bad looking.  His sculpt was definitely a strong one, even for this line.  It’s sharply defined, and quite clean-looking.  It appears to be fairly faithful to Kieron Dwyer’s illustrations from the book (I haven’t read it myself, so I’m going off what I can find online), and nicely maintains the imposing nature of this armor’s design, as well as capturing that pseudo-Kirby styling. It’s not super detailed, erring more on the side of cleaner, bolder lines, which is again true to the source.  His paintwork is fairly standard from DCD for the time, which is to say it’s pretty solid.  The base work is clean, and sporting a real cool gunmetal grey over most of the figure.  The reds really pop from that, and there’s some really nice accenting, which brings out the details well.  The visor on the helmet is done up in a translucent red, which doesn’t quite catch the light as well as I’d hope, but is otherwise a decent break from the other reds throughout the armor.  Superman was originally packed with an alternate un-helmeted head, a sword, and a display stand.  My figure only has the sword, which, if I’m being honest, is the coolest bit anyway.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Having not read the story, I didn’t pick this figure up when he was new.  Instead, I decided to wait until he was super expensive on the aftermarket, because I’m way smart like that.  Okay, not quite.  This guy was traded-in to All Time Toys in a large lot back in December, and while I’ve never read the story, I quite liked his look, and was able to get him for a very good deal.  He’s a cool-looking based on a cool-looking design,  He’s not super-poseable or anything, but he’s certainly a cool display piece.