#2218: Mercer

MERCER

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

“The Renegades don’t answer to anyone but themselves. They don’t officially exist. They can function with very little restraint but if they are compromised, they’re on their own.

Mercer was the only Cobra Viper that ever defected to the Joes and survived. He had joined Cobra for the adventure and the promise of material gain but soon grew disaffected with the Cobra philosophy. He escaped Cobra island by hot-wiring a hydrofoil and outrunning his pursuers across the Gulf of Mexico. Mercer is proficient with all Cobra small arms and explosive devices.”

In 1986, GI Joe got their first real-life celebrity member in the form of professional wrestler Sgt. Slaughter, who would serve as a high-stakes drill instructor for the team when Beach Head just wasn’t enough.  In 1987, both the toyline and the movie would give Slaughter his own specialized team of hard-hitting trainees, dubbed Sgt. Slaughter’s Renegades.  The three man team was made up of Red Dogg, Taurus, and today’s focus, Mercer, a turncoat Cobra Viper.  Gee, I wonder why Ethan likes this one…

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Mercer and the other two Renegades were released as a special three-pack as part of G.I. Joe‘s 1987 line-up (except for in the UK, where Mercer and his teammates were available individually).  They were one of a pair of three-packs based on characters introduced in the movie.  There were plans for a third, but they were scrapped after the less than stellar performance of the Cobra-La pack.  Mercer stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  His sculpt was all-new to him, and apart from the head being re-used for another Mercer figure in 2006, the parts would remain unique to him.  Mercer’s design is important, since it has to read as a Cobra uniform without actually being one.  Now, why it’s not just a broken down Viper uniform is really anyone’s guess, but I’d say Mercer’s not super keen to get mistaken for the enemy.  He’s got a lot of similarly styled elements to the Viper figure, with the vest and the quilted elements on his pants.  That said, he definitely reads as just a little bit more heroic than a Cobra operative.  All things considered, though, Mercer’s sculpt does seem a little more basic and light on the details than some of his compatriots, with the hair being noticeably devoid of detail.  He’s still more detailed than the line’s earlier works, but compared to some of the figures that hit the same year, the fact that his hair’s so smooth does stand out as a little odd.  He also shows the line’s shift towards more exaggerated proportions, with his arms being quite bulked up, and his torso getting more of that V-shape that later figures would receive more regularly.  With the proportions, it is a little more excusable for a character like Mercer, since the Renegades are supposed to be a little more hardened, though.  Mercer’s paintwork is decent enough, keeping with the sculpt’s “suggest Cobra, but not actually Cobra” aesthetic.  He does end up a little oranger than he looked in animation, but it’s at least a deep orange, not a safety orange.  Mercer was packed with a pistol and a backpack, both of which are missing from my figure.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’m a huge fan of the Vipers, so it’s not much of a surprise that I’ve always had something of a soft spot for Mercer (the other two Renegades I can kind of take or leave).  When piecing together the huge Joe collection that came into All Time, I was a little sad that the Renegades weren’t included (though not as saddened as the time Red Dogg and Taurus came in without a corresponding Mercer.  That one really stung deep).  As luck would have it, I happened upon Mercer at Yesterday’s Fun while on my summer family vacation, so I wasn’t without him for too long.  Honestly, after going through so many Joes in the last few months, Mercer is perhaps not as exciting as I’d hoped, but it’s still cool to have him.

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#2217: Bruce Banner & Hulk

BRUCE BANNER & HULK

MARVEL MINIMATES

The very first assortment of Marvel Minimates is perhaps a bit odd-ball when looking back on things.  No Spider-Man, Iron Man, Captain America, or even X-Men.  Nope, it’s two sets of Daredevil and one set of Hulk.  Why this particular line-up for the debut?  Well, the first series of Marvel Minimates hit in the summer of 2003.  Do you know what else hit in 2003?  Movies for both Daredevil and Hulk, and though those films may not be looked back on particularly fondly these days, they did make their title characters recognizable to a general audience, thereby making them a moderately reasonable starting point.  Today, I’m looking at the slight outlier of the line-up, the one Hulk pack in the lot, pairing off both the Hulk and his human alter-ego, Bruce Banner.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Bruce Banner and Hulk were, as noted above, part of the first series of Marvel Minimates.  It’s worth noting that the numbering was really little more than clerical on the first three series of the line, with all of them hitting pretty much at the same time, but nevertheless, these guys were technically among the first.

BRUCE BANNER

Alter-egos were popular fodder for the early ‘mates, with Hulk, Spider-Man, and Wolverine all getting their civilian counterparts right out of the gate.  Banner makes the most sense, I suppose, though, since he’s so visually different, and the internal struggle between the two halves is so important to the story.  While Bruce has had a lot of different appearances over the years, this one opts for something more in line with how he looked on the cover of his first appearance, with glasses and a lab coat.  It’s certainly a bit more visually interesting than just plain civilian clothes.  The figure uses the old-style ‘mate body, complete with long feet, so he stands roughly 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  He’s got two add-on pieces: one for his hair/glasses, and one for his jacket.  The hair/glasses combo is different from how things would be handled later, since glasses tend to just be printed on the faces now.  Additionally, the glasses are opaque, which gives him a very different, far more stylized appearance than later figures.  I myself have always been a pretty big fan of this look.  The jacket’s a little on the bulky side, but if you don’t like it, the shirt and the arms are both white, so you can remove it without it looking too weird.  Banner’s paintwork is rather simple, with some detailing for his face, his tie on his shirt (complete with tie clip), and a belt buckle on his pelvis.  Banner included no accessories.

HULK

Definitely the selling point of this set, and honestly the more dated of the two offerings.  Hulk represents the old style of doing things, back when ‘mates were still firmly planted on the philosophy of using the least amount of extra parts possible for each figure.  For larger characters, such as Hulk and Venom, this left them looking…kinda small.  Compared to Hulk, puny Banner wasn’t very puny.  Hulk’s only add-on was his hair piece, which is a decent enough part, although it does come off a lot, since the pegs weren’t implemented until Series 8 of the line.  It’s simple, but feels classically Hulk.  His paint is a little more involved than Banner, with detailing on the front and back of his torso, as well as remnants of his torn shirt running all along the sides of his pelvis, and torn legs to his pants running along the shins.  The feet and lower legs are painted green, rather than molded, which looks noticeably of a different shade.  Also, for some reason, the shade of purple on the pants is different between Hulk and Banner, something I never really understood.  Like Banner, Hulk had no accessories.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When my dad brought home the Yellow Daredevil and Elektra set for me back in 2003, he also brought with him a Hulk and Banner set for my younger brother, which gave me a taste of the set.  I would eventually get a pack of my own as a birthday present from some family friends that same year.  I still have those two, but they’re a little worse for wear these days, so I actually picked up a replacement set when All Time got in a Minimate collection a few months ago.  If I’m honest, the Hulk in this set never did a lot for me, but conversely the Banner has always been one of my favorites from the early line up.

#2216: Barricade

BARRICADE

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE (HASBRO)

While I have mostly left the discussion of Transformers that are really just re-decos to other reviewers, I did touch on it a little bit back when I reviewed Red Alert.  Of course, the difference between the likes of Red Alert and the Seekers and today’s re-deco is that while the former grouping is all characters who are classically re-decos, the latter isn’t even a classic character at all.  The Decepticon Barricade was first introduced into the lore in the 2007 live-action film, in a role that was originally meant to go to Soundwave (which is why he interacts with Frenzy), and was designed as a subversion of good-guy Prowl’s usual role as the police car.  In 2012, fan artist Guido Guidi did a G1-styled illustration of Barricade patterned after Prowl (sensible, what with them having the same alt-mode and all), which Hasbro liked enough to make it an official thing. And here we are with a G1-style Barricade figure, a re-deco of a Prowl figure.  Yay?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Barricade is the third and final unique figure in the fourth deluxe class assortment of Siege figures, with the Weaponizer Six-Gun figure getting a re-pack in the final slot.  In his robot mode, the figure stands 5 1/4 inches tall and he has 22 workable points of articulation.  For the most part, Barricade is sculpturally identical to the Prowl figure from Deluxe Wave 2.  Prowl was my surprise favorite from that line-up, and a lot of that has to do with how the body was implemented, so it means that Barricade’s already starting from a strong point.  He does get a new head, which he will be sharing with the Generation Selects Smokescreen figure.  It’s suitably different from Prowl’s head, while still hitting a lot of the same notes.  Whatever the case, it injects a little bit more variety into the Prowl mold, which is probably a good thing, since we’re getting four figures out of it.  Barricade’s main change-up is the colors, which for his robot mode are quite different, since he’s got a lot of purple, which is admittedly a very Decepticon color to have. He’s almost an inverted color scheme to Prowl, who was predominately light with dark, where as Barricade is dark with light.  Barricade’s alt-mode is pretty much the same as Prowl’s, as it should be, but again the colors are changed up, and the inverting is even more noticeable here.  Also, unlike Prowl, who was clean of damage, Barricade has wear right on either side of the front of the car, indicating he likes to run other vehicles off the road a lot.  That’s a nifty touch, and far more character-specific than the other damage we’ve seen.  Barricade does change things up a bit on the armaments front.  Rather than getting the same blaster as Prowl, he gets a pair of shoulder-mountable cannons, which can be combined into a handheld weapon.  Classically, the cannons are actually a Prowl thing, but they were missing from the last figure.  Fear not, though, as they will be coming in white with Smokescreen, meaning Prowl will be able to have them again.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I liked Prowl a lot, and so that was enough to sway me on Barricade I guess.  Well, that and Max setting the whole assortment aside for me.  That helped too.  I don’t have a ton to say about this guy.  He didn’t surprise me, because I knew what I was getting.  What I was getting was a solid toy, though, so that’s always a plus.

Barricade came 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.

#2215: Autobot Impactor

AUTOBOT IMPACTOR

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE (HASBRO)

Region-exclusive characters aren’t much of a thing these days, but they were fairly prevalent in the ’80s, especially when it came to the likes of G.I. Joe and Transformers and their representation in the UK.  G.I. Joe of course had an entirely different name (Action Force), and a resulting shift in a few of the characters, but the Transformers comics in the UK were a thing all to themselves.  Marvel was publishing the comics in the US, and their UK equivalent did the same on their side, but while the US-side had an 88 issue run, over in the UK there were a whopping 332 issues, meaning there was quite a bit of UK-exclusive material, and also some UK-exclusive characters.  The Wreckers were an entire team of UK-exclusive characters, and while some of them (Springer for instance) would find their way into other media, their ill-fated leader Impactor wouldn’t prove quite so lucky, at least not until much later.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Impactor is another figure from the fourth deluxe class assortment of Siege figures.  He’s only the third Impactor figure we’ve gotten, and the first one to be an all-new mold for the character.  Impactor had no G1 figure, but this one is based on his appearance from the Marvel UK comics, meaning that he stylistically fits pretty well with the rest of the G1-styled figures in the line.  Like Mirage, Impactor was granted his spot here thanks to the 2018 fan-poll, which faced the two off against each other (a little odd, what with them both being Autobots and all, but I won’t dwell on it too much), and also like Mirage, there’s a slightly different version of this guy available in an Amazon-exclusive battle-pack.  In his robot mode, the figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall (rivaling Ironhide in terms of height for a deluxe) and he has 19 workable points of articulation.  Impactor’s got a very boxy design to him, which I suppose is fairly sensible for the nature of the character.  His sculpt definitely plays up the utilitarian side of things, and I really gotta say, I kinda dig it.  There are, however, a few things I do not dig.  As impressive as Impactor looks, his larger size means that he’s also not as solidly constructed.  The interiors of his lower legs and forearms are completely hollow, and I’m not really into that.  At least in Ironhide’s case, he had some panels that folded into place to mask this hollowness, but poor Impactor just has these spots open for the world to see.  I guess it’s the placement of them that really bugs me, because finding poses that don’t highlight the issue can be a little tricky.  Fortunately, most of the body is without these hollow spots, allowing for a focus on the cool stuff there.  The color scheme on Impactor is certainly a unique one.  Typically, it’s these sorts or really gawdy color combos that scare me off of a Transformer, but the yellow and purple just feels right for this design.  Impactor’s alt-mode is a battle tank, which just follows with the boxy, utilitarian nature of the character.  The transformation is the most tricky of the three deluxes in this assortment, at least for me, and I needed to break out the instructions to figure it out.  That said, it still wasn’t *too* tricky, and I was able to transform him back and forth a few times for the purposes of this review with relative ease.  It’s also one of the cooler alt-modes to come out of Siege, at least by my count.   Impactor is armed with an “HP Energon Mineblaster” and a “Trilithium Drill,” again both listed in Cybertronian on the instructions.  The drill is particularly cool, because it can be plugged into the underside of Impactor’s hand when it’s folded up, giving him his harpoon replacement that he frequently had in the comics.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like Mirage, I wasn’t really all that impressed by Impactor when he was first shown off.  That said, he was the first one I started to come around on, once I saw the convention display versions of him, and how the color scheme looked as more than just render.  By the time the assortment hit, he was the only one I knew for sure I wanted, and he is unsurprisingly my favorite figure of this round.  While the hollow parts do still bug me, and hold him back from being quite as good as he can be, he’s still a really fun toy, both as a figure and a vehicle.

Impactor was purchased from my friends at All Time Toys, and is still available here.  If you’re looking for Transformers, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2214: Autobot Mirage

AUTOBOT MIRAGE

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE (HASBRO)

It’s been a little while since I did a Transformers review.  I mean, there have been two Transformers reviews on the site since I reviewed the Studio Series Optimus back in August, but they weren’t written by me.  And despite some pleas to the contrary, I haven’t quite relented to letting Super Awesome Wife write *every* Transformers review, as amusing as that may be.  So, I’m diving back in, with a look at one of the franchise’s earliest characters, Autobot Mirage!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Autobot Mirage is part of Wave 4 of the Deluxe Class line-up for Siege.  Mirage is one of two figures granted their spot in this line-up by the 2018 fan poll Hasbro ran, although there’s a battle-pack that more officially celebrates this victory.  As with many Siege releases, Mirage is patterned on his very first toy, back during the G1 days.  In his robot mode, the figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 20 workable points of articulation.  Given that he turns into a fancy race car, it’s not a huge shock that Mirage’s design is decidedly sleek and streamlined for the most part.  He’s not quite as svelte as some earlier Mirage figures, but when compared to the rest of the Siege line, he’s definitely a more lithe guy.  Being at a slightly lower price point, the Deluxe figures are a little more prone to the “hollowness” that I don’t like so much, but fortunately for Mirage, it’s pretty restricted here.  The forearms have it where the hands fold in, and the legs are a little bit more skeletal on the lower half, but for the most part, Mirage is fairly solid construction.  In general, I will say that the lower legs are my least favorite part of this figure, though.  Something about the placement of the wheels just feels off.  In terms of coloration, Mirage marks a slight change for the line, being completely clean and without wear.  It’s fairly sensible for the character and his alt-mode, but notable nevertheless.  Speaking of alt-mode, let’s talk about Mirage’s.  His original toy turned into an F-1 racer, and while it’s not as branded and specific as the original, this one does too.  It’s a bit of a surprise, given the Cybertronian bend of the alt-modes up to this point, but at the same time, I suppose an F-1 racer is a fairly sleek, almost sci-fi looking design in real life, and doesn’t necessarily look so out of place with the others.  Somewhat like Starscream, Mirage’s robot mode has some faux pieces that look like they should contribute to his alt, but actually do not, with the chest in particular folding up into the back of the car, rather than making the front like you might expect.  Unlike Starscream, Mirage’s transformation process didn’t prove nearly as frustrating for me, and I was able to figure it out with minimal consultation of the instructions.  Mirage is packed with a couple of armaments, which are named “C-20 Electro-Disruptor Cannon,” “Distortion Missile,” and “W-15 Armor-Piercing Rocket-Dart Launcher”, although I had to actually look those up, since the instructions list the names in Cybertronian.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Looking at the announcements for the line back at the beginning of the year, Deluxe Wave 4 was about where I started to see myself tapping out.  Something about the renders of the figures wasn’t really doing a lot for me, and Mirage was a prime offender.  He just looked, I don’t know, less put together than the other figures?  Not helping things is that Mirage is really on that boarder of characters I was familiar with before getting into the line, and really was stretching my personal attachment to these designs.  So, why did I buy him?  Well, they came in at All Time, and Max (who is always at fault with these things) set the wave aside for me, and honestly they looked a lot better in person than they did in the renders.  Mirage is a solid addition to the collection, and I’d guess a decent preview of how the Earthrise figures will be.

As noted above, Mirage was purchased from my friends at All Time Toys, and is still available here.  If you’re looking for Transformers, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2213: Bishop

BISHOP

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“Accidentally wrenched back through several decades by the time-twisting evil mutant named Fitzroy, Bishop arrived in our era from one of Earth’s many possible futures. Bishop survived the battle that followed, thanks to his mutant ability to absorb the energy attacks of others and turn that power back against his foes. Stranded in our time, Bishop has added his might to that of the present-day X-Men by joining their Gold Team!”

The X-Men really just became a haven for displaced time-travelers, didn’t they?  Also guys with vague, unrelated “cool” names that were just common place words, and whose abilities translated to “has a gun”.  All of these things nicely describe Bishop, an uber ’90s character, who could only be more ’90s if he wore a leather jacket and had shoulder pads.  I suppose he got off easy in that regard.  Bishop was prominent enough in the ’90s to feature on X-Men: The Animated Series, and by extension find his way into Toy Biz’s line of X-Men figures from the same period, getting what would be his very first action figure.  I’ll be taking a look at that figure today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Bishop was initially released as part of Series 4 of the X-Men line, and would see subsequent re-release in the Marvel Universe line and as part of a multi-pack with Wolverine and Gambit.  All three releases of the figure are functionally identical, but it’s worth noting that mine is a Series 4 release.  Bishop is sporting his primary look from the ’90s, which was the only one he had at the time of the figure’s release.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 9 points of articulation.  Though he’s rocking a waist swivel, he loses movement in his neck, presumably due to his hair.  Curiously, though, the Deluxe 10-inch figure and 2 1/2-inch Steel Mutants figure that are both patterned on the same sculpt both had a neck joint, so why it was missing from this guy is anyone’s guess.  Beyond that, the sculpt is fairly typical for the time.  He’s super bulky, but that’s just Bishop.  I will say that they were starting to run into the limits of this slightly simpler style of elbow joint they used, since it’s a little small for such a large arm.  It works overall, though.  The detailing on the hair is pretty nice, and definitely does his very dated hair cut proud.  Bishop’s paintwork is fairly basic, and a little bit messy on my figure.  There’s a lot of fuzzy edges, and the yellow sections are definitely prone to some serious bleedover.  In 1996, Bishop was also re-issued as part of the “Flashback” assortment, which was all repaints.  For that release, his blue was swapped for grey and black, and his yellow for gold, and his skintone was made somewhat lighter.  There was a second, predominantly red deco also shown, but it never hit shelves.  Whatever the case, the paint is a little cleaner on that release, but of course the trade off is that he’s not in his classic colors any more.  Whichever release you get, Bishop included two large blaster rifles in black, and features a “Quick-Draw Weapon Release” action feature.  Press the button on his back and his right arm swings upward.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t have Bishop as a kid, largely because his episodes of the cartoon were some of my least favorite, so I never formed much of an enjoyment of the character.  That said, I really dig the ’90s X-Men line and I’m slowly working through building a complete collection, which meant getting this guy at some point, right?  I found both versions of Bishop at a toy show a while back, allowing me to close off that corner of the X-Mythos in one fell swoop, I suppose.  He’s not really one of the better Toy Biz X-Men, but then he’s far from the worst.  He fills in the roster pretty nicely.

#2212: Red Robin

RED ROBIN

DC COMICS MULTIVERSE (MATTEL)

The name Red Robin is one that’s been with almost as many former Robins as the name “Robin” has.  Originally introduced in Kingdome Come as the identity of an older Dick Grayson, the name made it’s first foray into the “mainstream” universe as a possible moniker for Jason Todd, who was at the time flirting with potentially reforming after being Red Hood for a bit.  That went nowhere, and the name was eventually revived again by Tim Drake following the events of “Battle for the Cowl,” which ended with Damian Wayne taking over the main Robin identity.  The name’s pretty much stuck with Tim since, and that’s the name he’s got for this here new figure I’m looking at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Red Robin is part of Mattel’s final series of DC Comics Multiverse, which is a Bat-themed series.  As with most of the rest of the line-up, he’s officially a Rebirth figure, and depicts Tim in his updated Red Robin costume from post-Doomsday Clock and Heroes in Crisis.  It’s not a bad design, and really gets close to his classic ’90s appearance.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and sports 29 points of articulation.  Robin is built on the same base body as Kid Flash and Ray, which is to say he’s built on pretty much the best base body that Mattel produced under their tenure with the DC license.  It’s got balanced proportions, a solid articulation layout, and just generally plays pretty well.  It’s also pretty well scaled to Legends and DCUC, which is certainly a step up from the prior body Tim was on. Tim has a new head, upper torso, forearms, knees, and shins, plus add-ons for his cape and belt.  These new parts work pretty well with the existing, making for a figure that does a pretty solid job of capturing Robin’s look.  I was particularly surprised by the new upper torso piece, which has actual sculpted elements for the logo and the details on his sides. That was definitely surprising, and it adds a fair bit to the figure.  I will say, I’m not personally as much a fan of the shorter hair on Tim as seen here, but it’s not inaccurate, so I can’t fault Mattel there.  The paintwork on Tim is fairly solid.  It’s bright and eye-catching, and represents the look from the comics well.  Tim is packed with two sets of hands in fists and gripping poses, as well as his usual staff, and the arm of Killer Croc.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked this guy up during my rather disappointing early morning Force Friday run at the beginning of October.  I had passed on him once before and not seen him since, but knowing he was on the same body as Ray made me really want to pick him up.  As with so much of this late-run product from Mattel, he’s genuinely a good toy, and that’s really kind of sad.  Why couldn’t they get these things together earlier?

#2211: Punisher

PUNISHER

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Frank Castle takes to the streets and delivers brutal vigilante justice as The Punisher.”

I haven’t reviewed a Punisher figure in over a year, which on one hand seems a little weird, but on the other hand is surprisingly frequent for a character I owned exactly one figure of for the first 20 years of my collecting.  Classically, I wasn’t much of a fan of the character.  It wasn’t until he was introduced in Netflix’s Daredevil show that I truly started to appreciate the character. Since then, I’ve gotten quite a few more Punishers, including today’s offering, another Marvel Legends release.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Punisher is another Fan Channel-exclusive Marvel Legends release.  Interestingly, it’s one of two Frank Castles to be included in the Fan Channel line-up of figures, the other being the Punisher War Machine. This one goes for a more gritty, urban look for the character.  Not being super familiar with the character’s comic exploits, I don’t know if it’s a reference to a specific look, or just a slightly more real-world adaptation of his usual design.  It’s a cool look whatever it is.  The figure stands about 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 30 points of articulation.  While the previous Fan Channel figure have been pretty straight re-decos, Punisher mixes things up a little bit, not by being a new figure, but rather by being a mix of a number of prior figures.  He uses the torso and legs of the Netfilx Punisher, the arms from Scourge, the heads from the Walgreens Punisher, and the vest from the RoML Ultimate Captain America.  It all adds up to a fairly tactical looking take on Frank, especially depending on which head you opt to go with.  I personally feel that if you ditch the vest and give him the head with the headband, he looks a bit like he’s going for a Solid Snake cosplay, which I have no issues with at all.  The paintwork for this guy is rather involved, with camo on the pants, and a rather distressed skull on the torso.  The two heads also get two very different paint schemes.  The slicked back hair head gets skull-styled face paint to match the torso, which is fun, while the headband head gets some serious bags under his eyes, and some pretty intense scruff, making it look like he’s been going for a while.  Of the two I prefer the headband myself, but I love having two diverse options.  In addition to having the two different heads, Punisher is also packed with an assault rifle, a handgun, and a sniper rifle.  All of them are re-used, but they’re pretty nice, and he actually has an easier time holding his weapons than a lot of prior figures.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

In a similar fashion to yesterday’s Wolverine, I wasn’t really sure I needed to get this figure when he was first shown off.  The other Fan Channel figures are a little more on the exciting side, and this guy also had the misfortune of arriving alongside Havok, who definitely got most of the attention.  That being said, I did still like the concept on this guy, and the exectution’s definitely a lot of fun.  I’ve still got a soft spot for that spandex look, but there’s no denying that this is a cool look for Frank.

I picked up this guy from my friends All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2210: Wolverine

WOLVERINE

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

Wolverine is a nearly indestructible mutant with a gruff attitude and the formidable skills to back it up.”

There have been no shortage of Wolverine action figures, even when just looking through the narrow lens of Marvel Legends.  In the last year, there have been six separate Legends Wolverines (with a seventh right around the corner).  That places him second only to Spider-Man for Legends releases, which is really quite a bit.  I’d say there’s a little bit of Wolverine overload going on for a good portion of the fanbase, and I definitely include myself in that grouping.  But hey, it’s okay, this one has a new hat!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Wolverine was officially the first of the Fan Channel exclusive Marvel Legends, though exactly what order they actually hit in is a little bit fluid.  He was the first one to be shown off, though.  After a number of different costumed variants throughout the year, this one goes for a civilian Wolverine, rocking the jeans and the wifebeater.  But also that hat.  The hat is very important.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and he has 30 points of articulation.  From the neck down, this figure is the same as the Legendary Riders release from last year (which I never picked up), itself a retooling of the Old Man Logan (which I *did* pick up).  It’s really not a bad body, and this particular release is really crisp on the texturing of the shirt and pants, which looks really good.  My figure does have a slight molding issue on his torso, so there’s a little bit of plastic missing at the collar of his shirt.  It’s fairly minor, and confined just to mine, but it’s something to keep an eye out for.  The body’s not the main focus of this release, though.  No, no, we gotta talk about what really matters: the new hat! Yes, Logan’s sporting a cowboy hat, an item he’s frequently seen sporting in the comics, but has largely been absent from his action figure coverage.  It is admittedly a pretty distinctive look, and the head that it’s permanently affixed to isn’t a half bad unmasked Logan either.  I actually really dig the grin; it’s a nice change of pace from the usual growls, screams, and grimaces we get for the character, and yet this is still very true to Logan, especially the more relaxed civilian take we’ve got going here.  Wolverine’s paintwork is fairly decently handled.  He swaps out the white shirt from the Riders release for black, which I think actually looks pretty cool.  Beyond that, it’s fairly standard stuff.  Wolverine is packed with an extra head (the same as the head from the Madripor Wolverine, but without the weird eye stuff), a set of gripping hands without the claws, and the Muramasa blade.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Wolverine overload is a thing that’s been plaguing my Legends collecting since Toy Biz first added him to the line in Series 3, and it was the primary reason I didn’t buy the Riders release last year.  With Madripor and X-Force, I almost waffled on this one too, but I like the civilian look enough that he felt worth it.  Ultimately, I do quite like this figure, and I think he’s the best of the 2019 Wolverines.  Sure, he’s another Wolverine, but at least he’s a decent figure in his own right, and I didn’t have to pay for the motorcycle to get this one.

I picked up this Wolverine from my friends at All Time Toys, and he’s currently in stock here.  If you’re looking for Marvel Legends, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2209: Agent Anti-Venom

AGENT ANTI-VENOM

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“After exposure to the Anti-Venom Serum, Flash Thompson becomes the newest incarnation of the anti-hero.”

Back at the beginning of the Infinite Series relaunch of Legends, when Walgreens was dipping their foot in the waters of being a toy-buying destination, their first trial-run exclusive was Agent Venom, a figure that Hasbro had had rattling around their con displays for a little while.  He proved a successful venture, for Walgreens and Hasbro at least, but perhaps a little bit less so for fans, as he never really hit anywhere in truly huge numbers, and Walgreens was still not quite as numerous at the time as it is now.  This, coupled with the general fan-favorite nature of the character, made him slightly pricey on the after market.  Hasbro, ever in the game of trying to give collectors a fair shot at hard to find Legends took advantage of the re-branding of Flash Thompson under the Anti-Venom name from a few years ago, along with a need for some easy parts re-use figures, and has given us another Agent Venom, albeit of the inverted variety.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Agent Anti-Venom is another Fan Channel single Marvel Legends release, much like the Big Time Spider-Man I looked at a few weeks ago.  The figure stands about 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  Structurally, this figure is identical to the standard Agent Venom from back in 2014.  From a design standpoint, this makes sense, since the looks are just color swaps of each other in the comics.  However, from a toy standpoint, there are some issues that come with this re-use, namely that the underlying body was outdated when the first Agent Venom came out.  The five years since then have only made that more apparent, as a handful of similarly built and far more up-to-date bodies have come into use.  Of course, that would have required some pretty substantial retooling of the Agent Venom-specific parts, which would have then defeated Hasbro’s whole purpose of releasing figures that don’t need any new parts.  I will say that this release has far less rubbery plastic than the first one, which does make him feel better overall.  Additionally, the new paint apps are a lot cleaner in terms of application than the last time around, making for a much slicker looking figure, and showcasing the great strides Hasbro has made in terms of paint since the Infinite Series days.  Agent Anti-Venom is packed with a pair of glocks and a pair of MP5s, as well as the back piece that can hold his weapons for him.  I still feel like he should have 6 guns instead of 4, but at least I was prepared for it this time.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was fortunate enough to get the original Agent Venom release, but a lot of people weren’t, so I wasn’t surprised when this guy was listed amongst the Fan Channel figures.  While I do wish they’d been able to change out the underlying body, I won’t deny that the changes in production quality on this figure do a lot to make him even better than his predecessor, and he’s still a lot of fun.

This guy was purchased from my friends at All Time Toys, and it’s currently available from their store, here. And, if you’re looking for other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.