#2234: Bullseye

BULLSEYE

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“A former soldier with perfect aim, Bullseye never misses his mark. From the early days of his career as a costumed criminal, the ruthless assassin has set his sights most often on a single target – Daredevil, the Man Without Fear. Any object – be it pencil, playing card or paper clip – becomes a deadly weapon in the skilled hands of the man who could be the world’s greatest assassin!”

Daredevil has a wonky history with villains.  His most prominent foe, the Kingpin, wasn’t even his villain to start with.  On the flipside, a lot of foes originally introduced in his book would end up getting grabbed by other heroes in the Marvel universe.  He just doesn’t get true claim to anything!  Well, he actually does get full claim to today’s entry, Bullseye, who first appeared in Daredevil’s book in ’76, and has remained attached to the character ever since.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Bullseye was released in the 9th Series of Marvel Legends from Toy Biz, a series notable for being the first ever Build-A-Figure centered series of Legends.  Bullseye was one of the two figures in the line-up to get a variant release as well.  The standard release was sporting a pouty closed mouth look, while his variant had a mad grin.  It was…an odd choice, especially given the more drastically different variant from the same series.  The figure stands just over 6 inches tall and he has 48 points of articulation.  That’s a very high count of articulation, and includes individually articulated fingers.  Toy Biz was definitely articulation mad at this point.  Bullseye was the first figure to use his mold, but he would be far from the last; Toy Biz quickly retooled it into a base body, and it was still in use by Hasbro as late as 2015’s Allfather Series Iron Fist. A decade of use isn’t a bad run.  While it wound up looking rather dated by the end of its run, it was one of Toy Biz’s stronger sculpts…at least the base body, anyway.  The Bullseye-specific parts were a little more of a mixed bag.  The boots and gloves are pretty solid sculpts, but the head on both versions of the figure ended up being too large to properly scale with the rest of the body.  The prototype shots looked fine, so it was clearly some sort of error that cropped up during production.  It’s a shame, because he ends up looking a little goofier than intended because of it.  The two versions of Bullseye had divergent paint schemes, which both had their pluses and minuses.  The standard is a more strict white and black scheme, with just a little bit of accenting to make some parts pop.  However, they slightly messed up the gloves, Leaving the top stripe black instead of white, despite how it’s sculpted.  The variant fixed this issue, but swap out the white and black for a light grey and a gunmetal grey, which, while not a *terrible* look, isn’t nearly as striking as the standard scheme.  Unfortunately, due to the size of the included BaF parts for this line-up, the individual figures went without any figure-specific extras.  He included the left leg of Galactus, as well as a reprinted copy of Daredevil #132, Bullseye’s first appearance.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Both versions of Bullseye were a little tricky to get at first.  I got the standard first, courtesy of finding an untouched case of figures at the local KB Toys.  I was all content to just have that version, but in a bit of luck a few months later happened to find a whole pile of both Series 9 variants hidden at my nearby Walmart.  I like both figures for different reasons, but

#2233: Luke Skywalker & Darth Vader

LUKE SKYWALKER in TRASH COMPACTOR & DARTH VADER w/ REMOVABLE DOME

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Board the Death Star…for a fight to the finish!  Recreate classic Star Wars movie battles in two games! In the first, for younger players, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia and Chewbacca sneak through the Death Star capturing Imperials. Can you score the most captures?  Now advance to the next game — and take sides. Darth Vader, Boba Fett and stormtroopers move in the open, capturing Rebel Code Cards to win. But the Rebels move in secret. To win, they must use strategy to reach the Millennium Falcon, then dice-roll their way off the Death Star!  Add other action figures you already own…and fill the game board with life-like Star Wars characters!”

In the ’90s, Star Wars was back on the rise again, and they were just slapping the brand on everything they could.  The action figures maintained their foothold as the primary selling point for just about everything, resulting in the distribution methods being a little bit all over the place.  There were a bunch of mail-away offers, there were figures packed in with playsets, and carrying cases and collector’s coins.  And, in 1998, there were two figures offered exclusively with a board game of all things.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Luke Skywalker in Trash Compactor and Darth Vader with Removable Dome were the two Power of the Force II figures available exclusively with the “Escape the Death Star” board game (not to be confused with the “Escape *FROM* the Death Star” game from the ’70s, which was just re-issued with an exclusive figure packed in…it’s not confusing at *all*), which hit shelves in 1998.  The game included the two figures, plus a bag of accessories containing three lightsabers and three styles of blaster.  There were also cardboard standees of all the non-Luke and Vader characters mentioned, which could be replaced in game play by the separately sold PotF releases of the characters.

LUKE SKYWALKER in TRASH COMPACTOR

Luke was easily the most populous character in this line by this point, so another variant wasn’t really too much of a shock.  This one, like a lot of the late-run Luke variants was also exceedingly similar to a prior figure, namely the Luke Skywalker in Stormtrooper Disguise from 1996.  But this one’s different, you see.  He’s Luke after he falls into the trash compactor and gets pulled under the the water by the Dianoga.  This necessitates the new head sculpt featured, which also better matches the changed Luke likeness introduced in 1997, though with the slicked back hair, he’s not as immediately recognizable as Luke.  Aside from the new head and a few small deco additions on the torso, he’s pretty much the same as the previous figure, meaning he’s still not a little short for a Stormtrooper.  Drat.

DARTH VADER w/ REMOVABLE DOME

As the most recognizable character in the franchise, there’s an undeniable desire to release lots of Darth Vader action figures.  The trouble, of course, being that the character only has minor changes to his look over the course of the franchise, so not exactly a lot of room for variation between releases.  Nevertheless, Kenner sure did their best to jam as many possible variants of him into the line as possible.  Unlike Luke, this one doesn’t actually get any new parts, being the head from the “Complete Galaxy” Vader on the body of the main line’s removable helmet Vader from the same year as this figure.  Despite his lack of new parts, he actually ends up being a slightly more worth while figure than Luke.  I mean, not essential or anything, but the reveal of the back of his head is a distinctive moment from Empire, and with the dome in place, he actually makes for a really solid basic Vader figure.  It helps that the removable helmet body is probably the best Vader body from Power of the Force, so getting it again really wasn’t a bad deal.  It also helps that, unlike Luke, Vader got to keep his removable helmet, so there’s less of a feeling of this loss of value.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t own this as a kid (though one of my cousins did), but I remember this game when it was released.  And I also remember it from all the years after it was released that it sat around not selling, because it was definitely not one of the line’s hotter items.  The real trouble is that finding the set’s market is a little tricky.  The game was just a hastily thrown together to augment the figures really, so it wasn’t going to be appealing to board game collectors, but the figures were also rather hastily thrown together to go with the game, and neither one of them is anywhere near essential to a collector.  Topping that off was that the whole thing cost more than four times the cost of a single figure, making this a very hard sell to the action figures they were trying to cash in on.  It’s not hard to figure out why these two are still rather cheaply acquired.

#2232: Undertow

UNDERTOW

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

“Any frogman can operate in clean water, under optimum conditions, but the UNDERTOW are especially trained to function and fight in the murky, polluted waters that clog busy industrial and military waterfronts.  His wet-suit is made of a nontoxic anti-corrosive material.  His face-mask is coated with silicone to repel oil slicks, and is organically conditioned against hostile biological agents and infections.”

In 1988, Destro decided he just wasn’t content to let Cobra have all that faceless minions fun, so he got his own group of armed body guards, dubbed the Iron Grenadiers.  He then decided he liked that enough to double down, and start adding even more faceless minions.  But, in order to add more minions, he’d really need to diversify things a bit.  Throw in a little bit of specialization, you know?  Cobra had their own group of underwater operatives, so why not get in on that market?  Enter the Undertow, Destro’s Frogmen.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Undertow was released in the 1990 line-up of G.I. Joe, and was one of two additions to Destro’s forces from that particular year, bringing Destro’s total numbers up to a resounding 10.  Hey, that’s not the worst, I suppose.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  Despite not being Cobra affiliated in the slightest, Undertow’s sculpt actually has a lot of the same hallmarks of a lot of Cobra’s forces.  Because of this, it’s not much of a shock that the next two times the mold was used, he was transitioned over to Cobra.  It’s honestly a pretty solid sculpt, and surprisingly restrained for being a 1990 release.  Where most of them were starting to bulk up and go for the more fantastical elements, this one keeps it far more low-key, and honestly feels pretty at home with the line’s earlier offerings.  He’s just got a very clean design.  It’s kind of a shame that they saddled him with with the color scheme that they did.  Yes, if Undertow’s sculpt isn’t indicative of the time period he was released in, his paint is.  I mean, it’s not blindingly neon like others, I suppose, but he looks something like a Christmas pageant reject with all that red and green.  Not exactly the sort of colors that come to mind when you think of an underwater trooper, are they?  At least the application’s not bad, I guess.  Future uses of the mold would change the colors way up, which honestly did the mold a lot of favors.  Undertow was packed with a mask (with hose), harpoon, sled (with removable missile), flippers, and a…barracuda?  Hey, whatever works for you, man.  Mine is missing the harpoon, but everything else is showcased here.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When I was a kid, I actually had the 2002 Undertow figure, which used this same mold, and he was a favorite of mine.  Unfortunately, he didn’t make it through my childhood intact, so there was this Undertow-shaped hole in my Joe collection.  I was the slightest bit bummed when Undertow didn’t come in with the big collection that All Time got over the summer (but not overly surprised, given how late run a figure he is), so I ended up finding this guy at Yesterday’s Fun during my family’s family vacation.  The colors are wonky, but the sculpt is still one of my favorites.  Of course, I still kind of want to get a direct replacement of my V3 original one of these days…

#2231: Daredevil & Kingpin

DAREDEVIL & KINGPIN

MARVEL MINIMATES

Despite the general “lower tier” nature of the first series of Marvel Minimates‘ character selection, at least in terms of the corners of the universe they chose to focus on, there’s no denying that within the theme itself, they did go for a pretty heavy-hitter assortment.  We got both halves of the Hulk persona, plus Daredevil with perhaps his two best know supporting cast members.  Elektra was packed with DD’s first costume, but his standard reds were packed with long-time foe Wilson Fisk, aka the Kingpin!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Daredevil and Kingpin were the final two-pack in Series 1 of Marvel Minimates.  Kingpin would remain exclusive to the specialty pack-outs (at least for the first year of the line), while Daredevil was available in TRU’s Boxed Sets assortment, as well as by himself in the Shop-Ko-exclusive singles assortment.

DAREDEVIL

Daredevil’s all-red attire fairly quickly replaced his somewhat gawdy yellow number, and quickly became his go-to look for quite a few years.  By 2003, there had been an attempt to replace it, but it was back to being his main look once again.  The figure uses the original Marvel base-body (long feet and all), so he’s 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  From a construction standpoint, he and the Yellow Daredevil are identical, both using the same mask and belt add-on pieces.  They were definitely solid pieces, especially for the more simplified aesthetic of early ‘mates.  Red DD’s paint work is comparatively far less complex, since he’s mostly just molded in the appropriate red.  They do mix things up a little bit by giving him at least some cursory detailing on the boots and gloves, and he’s got the same full face under the mask.  He includes the same billy clubs as Yellow, but in red this time around.

KINGPIN

Beginning as a Spider-Man foe before being adopted as Daredevil’s arch-nemesis, Kingpin was a pretty natural inclusion here, and ended up as the only version of the character in the line for almost a decade.  Of all the ‘mates at launch, he’s probably the one that strays the furthest from the standard Minimate form, getting a rather large add-on piece for his torso, in order to properly capture his size.  This means that he ends up far more properly scaled than Hulk from the same assortment, and is probably one of the main things that kept him acceptable for mixing with later ‘mates for quite so long.  In addition to the torso, he also got a unique pair of hands.  The right holds a cigar, while the second is sporting an impressive gold ring.  The paintwork on Fisk is surprisingly involved, with by far the most detailed face of the first series, plus actual pin-stripes on his legs.  Kingpin was packed with a curved cane, which seems a little simpler than Fisk’s usual fare, but is a cool extra nonetheless.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Though I got the other two sets when they were brand new, it was another five or six years before I finally added this pair to my collection, courtesy of a friend who found them while she was doing some cleanout of her house.  I don’t really know why it took me as long as it did to get them, but I was happy to finally have them at the time.  Ultimately, there are improved versions of both figures in this set, so neither is truly essential.  That said, they do round out the collection nicely, and cap off the first series of the line very well.

#2230: Autobot Ratchet

AUTOBOT RATCHET

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE (HASBRO)

As I write this review, I’m feeling a bit under the weather, and definitely have getting better on my mind, so what better time to look at the Autobot’s resident medic, Autobot Ratchet (gotta get that Autobot branding in there, lest the Decepticons, or worse, the Go-Bots, get him)?  I mean, he specializes in robots, not humans, so I don’t know how much help he would be to me personally, but I feel like he could give it a try.  Of course, that could be the sick-brain talking.  Don’t trust the sick-brain.  I’ll probably edit all this out once I’m back in my right mind…or will I?  Eh, I’ll just go with whatever’s more entertaining.  Onto the review!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Autobot Ratchet is a Walgreens-exclusive offering, and is officially a Deluxe Class Siege release.  He’s one of the last Siege items to make its way to retail, though we’ve known about him for most of the year.  In his robot mode, he’s 5 1/2 inches tall and has 22 workable points of articulation.  He’s on the taller side for a Deluxe, and there’s a good reason for that.  Like his original vintage figure, most of Ratchet’s parts are shared with this line’s version of Ironhide.  I was generally a fan of Ironhide, so I’m definitely alright with the re-use.  What’s more, there were a few issues I had with Ironhide (most notably the problems keeping the leg panels properly snapped in place) which this release actually corrects.  I don’t know that there were any actual changes to those parts of the mold, or if it’s just a slightly better pressing of it.  Whatever the case, he’s a slightly more satisfying figure in hand, which makes the re-buying feel really worth it.  He’s not all re-use, though.  Ratchet gets a new head and shoulders to differentiate him from Ironhide.  They work well with the pre-existing parts, and the head in particular is a nice rendition of the G1-animation Ratchet (since the actual G1 figure had no head).  Ratchet’s alt-mode is more or less the same as Ironhide’s, being a sort of a van thing.  The transformation is still pretty simple, and he’s pretty much a brick with wheels again.  There’s also a third mode of sorts, a repair bay, replicating the original toy’s medical sled.  It’s not quite as finalized a transformation, essentially just being a mid-point between the two main modes, but it’s nifty enough.  Ratchet gets a distinct selection of extras, including a shoulder-mounted laser cannon with robotic arm, a gun/welder, and a cool looking wrench.  That’s a fair bit of new parts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve always had something of a soft spot for Ratchet, especially his Prime incarnation, so I was definitely happy when rumors started flowing of him being added to the line.  I was also pretty happy to hear he would be a re-work of Ironhide, since I really liked that figure.  I was less happy to hear he would be an exclusive, but at least it’s Walgreens, not Walmart.  Max actually found Ratchet first, and was kind enough to grab one for me as well…or is it kindness?  What if this is way of keeping trapped in this Transformers collecting life?  Oh, that’s devious! …Or that could be the sick-brain talking again.  Don’t trust the sick-brain.

#2229: Punisher War Machine

PUNISHER WAR MACHINE

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“After the fall of War Machine, Frank Castle acquires the highly-weaponized armor and makes it his own.”

Hey, that’s actually a pretty succinct summation of the character in that bio.  Good for Hasbro!  Punisher War Machine is a pretty straight forward concept: you put Frank Castle in the War Machine armor, and boom, there it is.  It’s not like you need a ton of explanation, and quite frankly, it was one of the less out there change-ups to the Punisher status quo.  Guy’s been a freaking Frankenstien; this is nothing.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  It’s not “nothing,” it’s actually a pretty great marketing opportunity, as well as a pretty easy variant for toy makers.  On the high end, we’ve got a Hot Toys version on the way, and on the low end we’ve also got the Legends treatment.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Punisher War Machine is another Fan Channel-exclusive Marvel Legends offering, and is in fact the second version of Frank Castle to be offered in this assortment of figures.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 31 points of articulation.  After getting a few new pieces, even though they may have been minor, this Punisher returns to the straight repaint style for the line-up.  He’s a straight repaint of the surprisingly under-utilized Mk003 War Machine mold from Civil War.  Previously, the mold only got released in a Target-exclusive two-pack, which is a bit surprising given that it was all-new at the time.  The armor isn’t a perfect match for the armor Frank grabbed in the comics; that one was more patterned on the design from IM2, with maybe a bit of AoU thrown in.  I’d guess that it came down to mold availability; the IM2 molds are probably hard to access at this point, and I doubt if anyone really wants a fourth release of the Mk002 mold.  This one is close enough, and honestly one of Hasbro’s best WM molds, at least prior to the Endgame release.  There’s a little bit of limitation to what you can do with the articulation, and the guns, baton, and cannon don’t stay in place quite as securely as I’d like.  Also, he’s from before they got on board with standardizing neck pegs, so his joint’s too small to work with any of the Frank Castle heads (the one I shot for this review is just resting in place).   Overall, though, he’s a very workable figure.  It’s definitely the  slickest War Machine sculpt Hasbro’s produced, and it holds up well even a few years later.  The paintwork on this figure is, of course, where all of the actual changes are.  He’s not terribly far removed from the standard War Machine layout, but gets Frank’s usual skull insignia on the front, plus a few other skulls littered throughout the armor as a kill count.  He also has a little more wear and tear represented than the prior release, showing how hard on the armor Frank’s been.  The only real complaint I have is that they’ve left the helmet pretty much alone, when it should really be sporting a white skull motif on the face plate.  It does undersell the Punisher bit a little.  This figure has the same accessories as the last release of the mold, so he gets a fully engaged version of the baton and an extra set of hands in gripping poses.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like I said in my review of the Endgame War Machine, I never picked up the Civil War figure, and I was always a little regretful of that.  So, I was pretty happy when I found out that this figure would be using the mold, thereby allowing me to add it to my collection.  I’m not the world’s biggest Punisher fan or the world’s biggest War Machine fan, but I can appreciate a lot about this figure.  Ultimately, I’m pretty happy with him.

Punisher War Machine was purchased from my sponsors over at All Time Toys.  If your looking for other Legends or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2228: X-Force Deathlok

X-FORCE DEATHLOK

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“The X-Force joins forces with a rogue Deathlok unit to face an army of Deathlok cyborgs.”

Hasbro’s Fan Channel exclusives for Legends began as a few one-off figures and quickly evolved into what essentially is a series of its own, just split up into single releases.  The defining element amongst them is relying heavily on parts re-use, which has certainly led to some eclectic choices.  Who would have thought that we would one day be able to say you could choose between three different Marvel Legends Deathlok figures?  Certainly not me, but hey, here we are.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

X-Force Deathlok is one of the later announcements for the Fan Channel-exclusive Legends releases, and is probably the most odd-ball and out there.  Others were either heavy hitter characters or tweaks of difficult to acquire figures from earlier in the line.  Deathlok is neither of those, being c-list at best, and with a figure released just over a year ago that’s hardly difficult to come by.  Whatever the case, he got another figure.  I guess it’s that X-Force tie; it makes everything easier to sell.  Whatever the case, this figure is based on “Deathlok Prime” from Rick Remender’s run on X-Force, who is apparently a distinct-ish character from previous Deathloks.  How about that?  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and has 32 points of articulation.  Structurally, this figure is about 99% identical to the previous Deathlok.  The only change between the two is a slight re-working on the upper torso to change the flag on the original to the X-logo seen here.  Beyond that, the two figures are the same.  Honestly, that’s not a bad thing, because it was a great sculpt then, and it’s still a great sculpt now.  The paint marks the real change-ups for this figure.  He goes from the slightly more colorful classic Deathlok to the standard stealthy X-Force colors, but also improves a some of the apps on the exposed skin of the face, giving him a more proper zombified appearance.  Deathlok gets the same two guns as his prior release, pretty much the same in deco, apart from the ammo belt becoming a translucent yellow.  He also gets the shotgun-style rifle from Bishop, which is a solid addition to his arsenal.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I really liked the first release of the mold, and I do dig the X-Force sub-set we’ve been getting throughout the last year.  I like having another chance to appreciate this guy, and he’s honestly pretty fun, even if there’s not a lot new going on with him.

Deathlok came from my friends at All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for other Legends, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2227: Batman Beyond & Bruce Wayne

BATMAN BEYOND & BRUCE WAYNE

JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED (MATTEL)

“In the not too distant future, an older Bruce Wayne trains high school student Terry McGinnis to become the new Batman, ensuring the protection of Gotham City for years to come.”

Would you believe there was a time where we were thankful for Mattel making up for the mistakes of Hasbro?  I know, that must have been a strange bizarro world.  When Batman Beyond hit the airwaves, Hasbro had fully absorbed Kenner and were back to making toys under their own name again, and they…weren’t the best at it.  For their Beyond line, they decided that rather than doing anything that followed the actual show, they’d do a bunch of wacky non-standard variants of the title character instead.  It was a reasonable toy line, but not much of a companion for the show.  A show-accurate version of the main character, as well as a handful of the supporting cast, would eventually get their due courtesy of Mattel and their Justice League Unlimited toy line.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Bruce and Terry were released in a three-pack alongside fellow Beyond character Warhawk in one of the final retail assortments of the Justice League Unlimited line.  Terry would also see release as a single-carded figure, but this was the only way to get Bruce.

BATMAN BEYOND

The main character of the show, Terry was not short on action figures, but he was short on accurate ones.  This figure changes that…more or less.  He’s wearing his standard gear from the show, which is a pretty darn timeless design.  The figure stands 4 3/4 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation.  Batman Beyond is built on one of the line’s mid-sized bodies, in fact the one retrofitted from the original Justice League Batman body.  It’s honestly a little bit on the large side for Terry, and he’d probably have looked more at home on the skinny body that they built out of Flash.  Ultimately, it’s not the worst look, and is okay for maybe a slightly later career Terry as seen in “Epilogue.”  Given it’s the JLU line and that was his main JLU appearance, I suppose it’s not totally unreasonable.  He gets a new head and a slightly tweaked set of arms.  The head is a fairly reasonable recreation of the animation design, certainly closer than any of Hasbro’s attempts.  It’s a little on the large side, but that ends up making the body look slightly more proportionate, I suppose.  The arms are pretty much just the standard ones for this body, but with the scallops on the back of the forearms.  The paint work on BB is fairly basic, just the standard details for him.  One notable omission is the mouth, which really should be white like the eyes.  Instead, it’s left unpainted, which makes it easily lost in the sculpt.

BRUCE WAYNE

Despite many figures of his younger self, this was the very first figure we got of the elder Bruce Wayne as seen for most of Beyond‘s run.  I mean, I guess it’s a little harder fault Hasbro on not releasing this one; he’s an old guy in a suit.  Not a ton of play potential there.  Coupled with a fully suited up Terry and Warhawk, though, he’s admittedly an easier sell.  The figure stands 4 3/4 inches tall and has 5 points of articulation, just like his companion.  Bruce was built on Mattel’s revamped suit body of the time, but given the slightly bulkier arms of Hal Jordan/Mr. Terrific, as well as a unique head and an add-on piece for the torso.  The head is a respectable match for Bruce’s design from the show, but is rather on the small side, especially when compared to Terry’s oversized head.  It also has a straighter neck than Bruce tended to have in the show.  The add-on piece, conversely, adds in some of Bruce’s slight hunch from the show, but when coupled with the very straight neck, plus the arms that really weren’t designed for this body, he ends up looking like his shoulders are about half and inch too low.  It’s not ideal.  Like Terry, Bruce’s paint is fairly basic, though he doesn’t have any obviously missing apps, which I suppose is a good thing.  What he *is* missing is his cane, which he was pretty much never seen without on the show.  Seems like a pretty glaring omission if you ask me.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I fell out of JLU towards the end, so by the time that this set was at retail, I was pretty much gone.  I remember seeing pictures, but the distribution was such that I never saw it anywhere in person.  I can’t say I felt like I was really missing it, but this pair got traded into All Time several weeks back and I had some trade credit, so I decided I kind of wanted them.  Are they great?  No.  Are they good?  Eh.  Are they fairly passable, fairly accurate recreations of the source material?  More or less.

#2226: First Order Driver & Treadspeeder

FIRST ORDER DRIVER & TREADSPEEDER

STAR WARS: GALAXY OF ADVENTURES (HASBRO)

Oh, you probably thought I was done with Galaxy of Adventures, didn’t you?  What with the “please buy the line” urging at the end, plus that whole shot of all the figures, and it seeming like I was done.  Well…I kinda thought I was done, too.  But I forgot there was actually one more item in the launch, which is the thing I’m gonna be looking at today.  See, one of the things that was surprisingly absent on Triple Force Friday was vehicles.  With no basic 3 3/4 inch line, we only really had the Vintage Collection to go on, and that was just the two X-Wings.  Galaxy of Adventures did give us one more little reprieve of vehicle coverage, however, with an update on the speeder bike concept, the Treadspeeder!

THE TOYS THEMSELVES

The First Order Driver and Treadspeeder set is the highest price-point item in the Galaxy of Adventures line, following the classic 5 POA-style vehicle packing of “figure and vehicle”.  It’s sold in one of those open style boxes, which is always a little frightening to me, but ultimately mine was in okay condition, so no worries.

FIRST ORDER DRIVER

While the Jet Trooper is the only single-packed army builder at launch, we do get one more trooper, the First Order Driver.  Not a terribly imposing name, but it’s fairly descriptive.  The Driver merges the basic First Order Stormtrooper with a little bit of Scout Trooper.  I’m always okay with mixing in a little bit of Scout Trooper.  It’s worth noting that this particular look stays a little more on-brand than the old Scout Trooper did, making him feel more like a later-era take on the Imperial Patrol Trooper.  Ultimately, it’s a design that’s is distinctly different enough from a standard Stormtrooper to warrant them both getting a release in the line, while close enough that the lack of a basic Stormtrooper at launch doesn’t hit quite as hard.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  Structurally, this figure is very similar to the Jet Trooper figure, although it’s worth noting that as similar as parts of them may look, there are no shared parts between the two figures.  I do, however, expect for this guy to have some of his parts re-used for the inevitable standard Stormtrooper.  Whatever the case, the articulation on this figure is essentially a match for the Jet Trooper, meaning that the Driver is quite mobile, which does seem pretty important for a guy who needs to be able to properly sit on a vehicle.  By this point in the reviews, the stylization of this line is pretty cut and dry.  As a masked character, the Driver is slightly less impacted by it, though it’s a little more obvious on him than it was on the Jet Trooper.  Again, there’s a real Clone Wars-vibe on him, especially with the proportions on the body, and the general layout of the articulation.  His paintwork is fairly standard, though I appreciate that he actually has a few little details on his chest piece to differentiate him from the basic Troopers.  The white/black is a clean combo, and while there’s a little bit of white bleed through on the black sections, it’s generally pretty good.  The Driver is packed with a small blaster pistol, and like the Jet Trooper, features a quick draw action.

TREADSPEEDER

The Treadspeeder is an all-new vehicle for Rise of Skywalker (though we’ve gotten a taste of it in a few of the comics ahead of the movie), but it’s not like it’s all that new a concept, and in many ways is following the sequel trilogy of similar story beats for each corresponding movie compared to the original trilogy.  But I won’t complain if you don’t.  Compared to the much smaller, much more nimble speeder bike of old, the Treadspeeder is a big boi, more of a utilitarian tank than its predecessor.  It’s an interesting design element, because other sequel trilogy elements have tended to go sleeker and more futuristic, while this seems more primitive.  Perhaps Kylo’s influence on the First Order is slowing progress a bit?  Whatever the case, it’s a cool design, and a slightly different take on things, which is never a problem.  The actual toy is definitely designed with gimmicks in mind.  The most basic and simple is definitely the rolling wheels on the bottom, which make it a bit more practical than other speeders in that regard.  Of course, since it’s a speeder, the main gimmick is a pop-apart function.  It’s been that way since ’83, and it’s not going to change now.  Pushing the button on the back pops the front plate in two separate directions and launches the driver out of his seat.  It’s a little bit temperamental, and the armor plate has trouble staying in place when you’re not using the feature, which can be a little annoying.  The speeder also has a missile launched built into one side, as well as storage for the driver’s gun on the left side of the vehicle.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Okay, so this would be the one thing I didn’t get at the same time as all of the others, mostly because it appears that Walmart isn’t carrying it.  I had looked at it at the same time that I picked up the Jet Trooper, but was ultimately unsure about dropping $25 to try out the line.  After being confident that I liked the line, I tracked it down again, courtesy of Target, who happened to be having a sale on it, which really pushed me over the edge on picking it up.  The vehicle’s not bad.  Not the best vehicle I’ve ever picked up, but not the worst thing either.  The Driver’s another solid figure, though, and I’m certainly glad to have him with my set.

#2225: Darth Vader

DARTH VADER

STAR WARS: GALAXY OF ADVENTURES (HASBRO)

If there’s a face of Star Wars, it’s pretty undeniably Darth Vader.  Guy kind of made the franchise, being easily the most marketable character in the bunch.  So, pretty unsurprisingly, Vader is pretty much a lock for every new style product launch.  There’s a Vader for everyone.  Understandably, this means that even the newly launched Galaxy of Adventures line also has a Vader as one of its three OT characters at launch.  That’s the figure I’ll be taking a look at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Darth Vader is the last of the basic release figures for Wave 1 of Galaxy of Adventures.  He’ll be one of the four figure carrying forward to Wave 2, a good fit, given the overall OT-bend of the second line-up.  Standing 5 3/4 inches tall, Vader is the second tallest figure in the line-up, and he has 23 points of articulation.  Vader’s articulation is somewhat restricted by his design (as is the case with pretty much all Vader figures), so he’s a little stiffer than the other figures in the line-up.  However, while he’s not going to be doing any crazy kung-fu moves or anything, there’s plenty of far more Vader-esque poses you can get him into.  Also, I will say I was particularly impressed by the range of motion on the neck, an area where most Vader figures tend to be lacking.  While other sculpts in the line are rather stylized, Vader’s is the first one to really fully take advantage of the style to push some of his character aspects a bit further.  Vader’s always daunting in size and an imposing figure, but for this one he’s actually like twice the size of Rey and Finn, with super broad shoulders, and a quite impressive silhouette.  This is a very good example of getting all of the base elements for a character design and just really ramping them up to get that really cool, almost mind’s eye take on the character.  Also, like Chewbacca, he really seems to push that Genndy Tartakovsky feel, and I am again all about that.  Boy does this guy look like a bad guy, which is, you know, what you want out of a Vader design, I suppose.  Vader’s paintwork is fairly cleanly handled.  All of the important details are there, and the application’s good.  There’s some variation to the finish on the various blacks, which looks nice.  He’s packed with his lightsaber, which is the usual fair.  He also features a “Force Slash” feature built into his waist, which again is pretty non-intrusive.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Vader was honestly pretty high on my list for this line, because he’s typically a fairly good trial run type of character (which is why I have his Mashers figure).  I knew I wanted him, but I didn’t know when.  Turned out “at the same time as all the others” was the answer, thanks to Super Awesome Wife’s intervention.  Vader may well be the line’s star figure.  I mean, I like them all a lot, don’t get me wrong, but Vader’s translation into the line’s style just really ends up working, and he ends up as the most striking individual design in the set.  I can foresee a lot of people just having a Vader and no one else from the line.  Whatever the case, I do hope the strength of this particular figure might help to get some more of the old school fans to give this line a try, because it’s honestly the best Star Wars offering Hasbro’s got out there right now, and I’d like to see it succeed.