#2118: Captain Rex – Jet Propulsion Pack

CAPTAIN REX — JET PROPULSION PACK

STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS (HASBRO)

“Captain Rex takes the battle to new heights. When the clone captain needs to reach high elevations, he boosts his rocket pack with a space combat propulsion pack. With this additional gear, Rex can take on battle droids even in space, increasing his chances of stopping even more of the droid army.”

Star Wars: The Clone Wars had the good fortune of hitting pretty much at the height of the 3 3/4 inch line’s quality and popularity, but even with a strong start, Hasbro wasn’t content to sit back and just tread water.  This meant that there were improvements to how they were making the figures with each successive year of the line.  In order to keep things relatively balanced, the show’s main characters all found themselves getting an update every so often.  Given “Clone” was in the title, it’s no surprise that the series’ main clone, Captain Rex, found himself with some of the most figures of any one in the line.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Jet Propulsion Pack Rex was released in 2011, as figure 62 in that year’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars Basic Series line-up.  He was the line’s third version of the character, following the initial release and his cold-weather variant.  This one used a fancy new accessory as an excuse to give us an all-new take on the character’s already in the toyline design, lest he be the only main character not to get an update following the Season 3 model changes.  Rex’s model didn’t change, but the upgrades to the way the figures were made meant his 2008 figure looked a bit out of place with Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka’s new figures.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 20 points of articulation.  Despite most of the clones being built from a common pool of parts, Rex was instead an all-new sculpt.  With that all-new sculpt was a new articulation scheme, which has a bit of give and take.  While he lost the hinges at the wrists, as well as the entire joint at the ankles and mid-torso, the figure gains a set of ball-jointed hips, which were quite a bit deal.  For the longest time, it didn’t matter how well-articulated a Star Wars figure may be, they’d always be saddled with a t-crotch.  This line’s ARF Trooper had experimented in a slightly different style of hips, which had some side to side, but again there was some give and take, and a definite learning curve on how those joints worked.  This Rex just had pretty straight forward ball-jointed hips, giving him the best possible range of movement.  It’s too bad that other joints had to be cut to facilitate this, but I think they managed a reasonable balance given the circumstances.  Rex’s sculpt is certainly the most show-accurate version of the character we got in the line, and probably one of the most show-accurate clone sculpts that the line produced period.  The armor’s details are for the most part very crisp, the removeable helmet manages to retain its accuracy even when being made from a softer plastic, and the underlying unmasked head isn’t as undersized as others in the line.  It also doesn’t have that issue of looking far older than it should, which a lot of the earlier clones (including the prior Rex) did.  His kama is cloth this time, aiding in the articulation, and also more appropriately simulating the improved movement among the show’s models from the same time.  Lastly, it’s a minor thing, but this Rex has both of his hands sculpted with trigger fingers, meaning for one of the very few times, he is able to properly dual wield.  That’s kind of amazing.  Rex’s paintwork is pretty solid.  The line went back and forth on if they wanted to do weathering on the clones, and Rex sort of catches some of that.  He lacks the dark wash of his earliest figures, but still has wavy edges to the colored sections of his armor, showing that he painted those sections on himself, and that they’re starting to wear a bit.  About the only thing that really bugs me on this guy’s paint is that his viewfinder was left all-white, but that’s pretty minor.  Rex has a pretty extensive selection of extras.  There’s the removable helmet, of course, as well as his dual blaster pistols, so that you can have a proper basic Rex.  On top of that, he also gets a larger blaster pistol and the titular Jet Propulsion pack.  The pack has a little removable Mandolorian-styled jetpack attached to the back as well, which can be directly plugged into Rex’s back.  Rex was seen sporting just the smaller pack from time to time on the show, so it’s nice that they included that option.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When this figure was released, I was still very much collecting this line, but I was sort of in and out on it.  I don’t know if I saw this guy in the wild, but I may have assumed he wasn’t all that different from the original release, which I was pretty happy with.  It wasn’t until years later that I actually found out how different he was, and at that point tracking one down was more of an endeavor.  My chance at getting one arrived a couple of weeks ago, courtesy of All Time Toys, who just got in a Clone Wars collection.  While piecing them together, I picked out a few for myself, which did *not* include Rex here.  However, in addition to yesterday’s Minimate set, Max had also given me $20 in store credit, which was just enough to net me this guy.  For the record?  That makes this his fault again.

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#2117: Mutagen Leonardo & Foot Soldier

MUTAGEN LEONARDO & FOOT SOLDIER

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES MINIMATES

Well, the line has wrapped, but there was a time when Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Minimates were some pretty hot stuff.  They were also some slightly confusing stuff, since depending on where you were purchasing them, the product was a bit different.  While the whole line was originally supposed to be blind-bagged, Toys R Us ended up not being so interested in that dynamic, and instead got theirs as two-packs, largely made up of the same basic figures showing up everywhere else, but now paired off and with one exclusive offering.  Today, I’m looking at that one, Mutagen Leonardo and his pack-mate the Foot Soldier.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Mutagen Leonardo and the Foot Soldier were released in TRU’s first series of TMNT Minimates two-packs.  The Foot Ninja was packed with the regular Leonardo as well, with Mutagen Leo swapping out for the regular in the one per case chase set.

MUTAGEN LEONARDO

Each of the primary retailers for this line got one Mutagen Turtle variant.  Mikey was at Kmart, Raphael at specialty, and Leo went to TRU (yes, they really did just the three of them at the start; Donatello had to wait for Series 2).  All of them were the same basic concept: take the standard release, mold him in translucent green plastic, and paint up just the bandanna in the proper color.  It’s not a bad look, and has the benefit of having the strong starting point with all the sculpted add-ons.  The lack of paint actually highlighted how nice the sculpts were on these guys, and the blank white eyes on the mask gave a nice change-up from the regular release.  Mutagen Leo was packed with the same accessories as his regular counterpart, so two katanas (in green to match him), a display stand painted like a manhole cover, and a keychain attachment to go around his neck.

FOOT SOLDIER

The Foot Soldier was available through all three venues, and I actually looked at his single-bagged release from Kmart back when these were new.  It’s the same figure, and I certainly don’t mind at all, since it and the Footbot were my favorites from the original line-up.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I wasn’t in a huge hurry to pick this up when it was new, and never got around to tracking it down.  One was traded into All Time a couple of weekends ago, and I had initially surrendered this set to Max.  However, he ended up buying it for me for my birthday instead, which was quite nice of him.  Of course, it does make this his fault, but it’s a lighter sort of “this is your fault” this time around.

#2116: Optimus Prime

OPTIMUS PRIME

TRANSFORMERS: STUDIO SERIES (HASBRO)

Okay, so I usually do a better job of spacing out the Transformers reviews, but…well, I have a lot of Transformers these days, and they’re piling up ever so slightly.  I know, what a terrible problem I have.  How can I free myself of the terrible shackles that are this problem?  And how in god’s name do I now own three separate Optimus Prime figures?  That’s the realest question right there.  For today’s review, I’m going back to the thing that broke me into Transformers in the first place: Bumblebee.  I picked up the title character in his movie form, but had as of yet not gotten anyone else, preferring to stick with the Siege stuff for the most part.  Nevertheless, here I am looking at another Optimus Prime figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Optimus Prime is a Voyager Class release, as part of the Transformers: Studio Series line-up, where he’s figure 38.  He started hitting shelves right around April/March, arriving with the comparatively far less in-demand Constructicon Rampage.  In his robot mode, the figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 22 practical points of articulation.  Optimus is an all-new sculpt and is certainly heavily inspired by his G1-based design from the film’s opening battle on Cybertron.  He’s not a pitch-perfect recreation of the final film design, generally being a little boxier than the one seen on the screen, but he’s not too far removed, and it’s certainly clear which version they’re going for, especially in the robot mode.  Where the Siege Optimus was going for an animation accurate model, this one instead serves more to upgrade the original toy, albeit with some more movie-ized details, making him look a fair bit more “real-world.”  He’s not as clean or sleek as the Siege Optimus, and he has a few more spots of kibble, with the back and forearms being the most prominent.  The back doesn’t bug me quite so much, but the forearms are a little frustrating, especially since they aren’t as clean as the corresponding kibble on the Siege figure, and they have a tendency to start unfolding during posing.  That being said, the overall appearance of the robot mode is pretty cool, and he makes for a solid action figure.  Optimus’ alt-mode is the source of even more inaccuracy compared to the film because while Bumblebee turned into an officially-licensed VW Beetle, Optimus instead settles for an unlicensed equivalent to the Freightliner he turns into in the film.  It’s not quite accurate, but it’s admittedly not a bad design all things considered.  Additionally, while it’s definitely very fiddly and packed with false shell pieces for the final mode, the transformation’s not too bad on this one, making transforming back and forth pretty easy going.  Optimus is packed with his Ion Blaster he’s seen using in the opening battle, which is a nicely scaled piece.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

So, this Optimus is officially my “patience is a virtue” Optimus.  As one of the most demanded and sought after Studio Series releases, this guy came and went pretty quickly at All Time Toys, my usual spot for Transformers.  As such, I didn’t get one at the time of release, and in fact gave up the chance to grab a re-stock later down the line so that another customer could have him.  When a loose figure was traded into the store a few weeks back, the owner handed him over and said “your patience paid off.  Happy Birthday,” and just like that, I had an Optimus.  Like I noted when I reviewed Galaxy Force Optimus, the Siege Voyager remains my go-to, but there’s a lot I like about this figure.

#2115: Superman & Lex Luthor

SUPERMAN & LEX LUTHOR

DC MINIMATES

Sometimes when I’m down, I like to remind myself that I’m not as much of a failure as I could be by looking at other failures.  Is that perhaps a cruel way of making myself feel better?  Yes. So, I guess I shouldn’t do it.  Well, on a completely unrelated note, let’s talk again about DC Minimates, one of the great tragedies of Minimate collectors.  Try and try as they may to get more, they just aren’t going to happen, leaving us to reflect on the short eight series run that we actually got.  Things certainly started off strong, with a first series filled with heavy hitters…which might actually have been part of the line’s problem, since they ran out of those heavy hitters rather quickly.  Whatever the case, it meant that Superman and his arch rival Lex Luthor were among the line’s first offerings.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Superman and Luthor were one of the four two-packs in Series 1 of DC Minimates.

SUPERMAN

Superman had had two ‘mates prior to this one, as part of the legal loophole-inspired C3 line.  While his initial C3 release was a pretty decent classic Superman, it was still animation based, allowing this one to supplant it as a proper comics variant.  The figure was built on the basic ‘mate body, and therefore stands 2 1/4 inches tall and sports 14 points of articulation.  He’s constructed with three add-on pieces, for his hair, cape, and belt.  All three were new to this guy (though the hair was shared with fellow Series 1 release Green Lantern), and would go on to see re-use throughout the line.  Compared to the prior Superman, the parts on this one were mostly an improvement, though I always liked the way the C3 connected at the neck a little bit more.  This one isn’t bad looking, but I have trouble getting behind the red bar running across the neck.  I do like the overall shaping of the actual cape part, though.  His paintwork is appropriately bold, and overall not a bad offering, but the red paint on the pelvis in particular didn’t stand up very well to wear and tear.  Superman included no accessories, since stands hadn’t yet become a thing for the brand.

LEX LUTHOR

Luthor actually hadn’t gotten a ‘mate before (though a C3 prototype was shown), nor would he get one after.  This was his only shot.  The character has had a lot of different looks over the years, but this one went for his at the time current iteration of his battle suit, which was definitely a solid choice.  Said battle suit was built from six add-on pieces, again all-new to this figure.  The sculpting on these parts was superb, and is one of the earliest examples of such elements making their way into the line, as well as a good example of it being done well.  All of the sculpted parts are things that should be bulked up, but they have a lot of small detail work to set them apart.  Aiding the sculpted parts, there’s also quite a bit going on with the paint.  Again, lots of small detail lines, which makes him an interesting counterpoint to the much bolder Superman. Luthor is packed with a chunk of Kryptonite.  At least, I assume it’s his.  Neither figure in the set can actually hold it, but it makes more sense to go with him.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

These guys, like all of my DC Minimates, were purchased new from Cosmic Comix.  While it was the Green Lantern set that really held my focus going into this line-up, this one’s a strong one.  Superman’s the definitive version of the character, and Luthor is just one of the best ‘mates the line ever produced.  By far one of the strongest sets the line offered up.  This pair set a high bar for the rest of the line.

#2114: Cyclops II

CYCLOPS II

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“The man called Cyclops possesses the uncanny mutant ability to fire beams of devastating energy from his eyes. These optic blasts are so powerful that they can only be effectively harnessed by a special ruby-quartz visor designed by Professor X. Over the years, Cyclops has grown from a sullen, withdrawn loner into the cool, confident, capable leader of the X-Men’s Blue Strike Force!”

While Wolverine got on the multiple figures bandwagon as soon as Toy Biz’s X-Men line had multiple series by which to deliver multiple figures, it took other characters a little longer to get there.  The villains got on the repeats a little quicker, but the first non-Wolverine duplicate from the main team was the X-Men’s leader man, Cyclops, who would end up getting a pretty major overhaul for his second figure, appropriately named “Cyclops II.”

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Cyclops II was released in Series 5 of Toy Biz’s X-Men line.  He was then subsequently re-released in 1995 as part of the cartoon-driven “Classics” assortment.  The figure seen here is officially the classics release, but the core figure is identical between the two.  Cyclops was sporting his Jim Lee costume, which was brand-new at the time, having replaced the previous X-Factor costume (which was used for the first figure, as well as his talking counterpart) right on top of said costume getting a toy.  It was about as timely as you could get, really.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and has 8 points of articulation.  When I reviewed the 10-inch figure whose sculpt was based on this one, I noted that the larger figure had more articulation.  Due to the built-in action feature, this Cyclops lacks neck articulation, which is certainly a little bit restricting.  Additionally, the figure’s proportions are also thrown off by the batter compartment needed to power said light-up feature.  This means the torso’s really big, making the arms in particular look comparatively pretty small.  It also means this is a Cyclops that suffers from the opposite problem of the prior figure, being rather on the bulky side for a guy whose nickname is “slim.”  Proportions aside, there’s still some decent sculpted work on this figure.  The head is a respectable translation of his look from the comics, with some nice detail work on the hair in particular.  The pouches and straps mixed throughout the sculpt are also quite nicely detailed, which I’m sure was really a big hit with all the pouch and strap aficionados in ’93.  A shame there weren’t also some shoulder pads, right?  Cylcops’ paintwork was rather on the basic side, but solid stuff nevertheless.  The original release of this figure came packed with a backpack and a gun, which are, of course, the obvious accessories for Cyclops.  However, for the re-release, he was instead given Comcast’s hover platform, because, again, really the obvious choice, right?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

While this figure was out when I started collecting, the rerelease hadn’t quite hit, so it was X-Factor Cyclops that had the honor of being my first Cyclops figure.  This guy came a little bit later, as a gift from a family friend who was well aware of how much I loved X-Men.  He quickly transitioned to being my main Cyclops, at least for a little bit.  He would eventually be outpaced by other Cyclops figures, and was amongst 23 of my X-Men figures that got boxed up and buried in the garage during my high school years, and would remain there until the summer after I finished college, when I finally unearthed them.  He’s not my first Cyclops, he’s not my best Cyclops, but he’s an important Cyclops, and I still enjoy the corny little guy.

#2113: Jetfire

JETFIRE

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE

I’m getting the urge to start this review off with a comment about how this site could do with some more Robotech reviews, but…that’s not entirely the right call for this particular review.  And, if you’re wondering to yourself “Ethan, why are you bringing up Robotech in a Transformers review?”, then allow me to explain.  Today’s focus is the latest iteration of Jetfire, a 1985 addition to Transformers, who was notable for being a repurposed Macross VF-1S toy for his original release.  Though repurposing pre-existing toys was the vintage Transformers line’s jam, Jetfire was the odd man out in that his original toy wasn’t produced by Takara, and therefore Takara, as Hasbro’s Japanese equivalent, were less inclined to support this particular release.  For the purposes of the cartoon, Jetfire had to go through a pretty rigorous set of design changes, and even got a new name, Skyfire.  Since then, every subsequent release has somewhat walked the thin line between vintage toy accuracy and cartoon accuracy.  This one just continues that trend, albeit with some caveats.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Jetfire is the debut of a new size-class of Transformers in the Siege line, dubbed the Commander Class.  Classically, Jetfire’s been a Leader Class release, but with the slight change-up of the gimmick behind the Leader Class figures, Jetfire needed to be a larger-scale figure, necessitating a new size-point, between the Leaders and the Titans.  In robot mode, the figure stands about 11 1/2 inches tall and he has 25 practical points of articulation.  Jetfire is a big, solid figure.  Definitely the most solid of the Siege figures so far.  Like a good number of the figures in the line, Jetfire has more than just the two looks.  Right out of the box, he’s in his stripped down robot form which is designed as a fairly straight adaptation of the Skyfire design from the show.  It’s a pretty solid recreation of that design, and thereby more of a departure from his Verictech roots.  He has an actual face, as he does in the show, which isn’t so much my speed, but it’s accurate, and a nice option for the figure.  The hands are posable, but unlike prior figures to use such hands, where issues holding weapons can be a problem, this figure is designed with a folding 5mm port.  Thanks to this, when his hands are open, the port is gone, but when they’re closed, he can properly hold his accessories.  It’s a great feature, and I hope they get more use out of it.  Speaking of the hands, they’re also the source of my only real issue with the figure, namely how his hands connect to the forearms.  To facilitate transformation, they fold out, and they have a tendency to pop out when trying to pull of routine posing with the hands, which can be slightly annoying.  Jetfire has another sort of new feature has to do with his insignia.  Though an Autobot by all official counts, Jetfire’s backstory frequently paints him as a reformed or at least otherwise former Decepticon, and this figure has a flippable insignia to note this change.  Again, I don’t ever see myself displaying that Decepticon symbol, but the option being there is really great.  Jetfire’s second mode serves to homage his vintage counterpart, via some additional armored parts.  He gets a faceplate, chestplate, and some wrist mounted guns.  While they don’t perfectly recreate the Veritech design (because there’s likely all sorts of potential legal issues regarding such a thing), it keeps enough common elements to get the point across.  While I can take or leave the chest piece, the faceplate’s definitely my preferred appearance for him, and I love how seamlessly it fits into place on the figure.

As his name suggests, Jetfire’s primary alt-mode is a fighter jet.  It’s easily the most complex transformation sequence I’ve encountered on one of these guys (which makes sense, since the one transforming Veritech I encountered was quite similar), and it’s the sort of thing that you’ll probably need to actually sit down and dedicate some time to doing properly.  He is definitely not a “swap back and forth on a whim” sort of figure.  That being said, as involved as the process may be, I didn’t find it frustrating or particularly difficult, which is a definite plus in my book.  The final product is a pretty straight recreation of his alt-mode from the cartoon, which works out pretty well, at least with the whole Cybertron setting. Perhaps the coolest aspect of the alt-mode is that the cockpit is properly scaled to hold a Titan Master as its pilot, as Doombox has so kindly illustrated here.  Jetfire is packed with a large rifle, which can split into two, as well as two sizable effects pieces, which can each split into three.  There’s a lot of multipurposing with the accessories here.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Robotech and Transformers are both rather new additions to my cultural lexicon, but I was still quite excited to find out about Jetfire being added to this line.  While larger scale Veritechs are a little outside of my price range, Jetfire offered me a similar experience at a much more bearable price point.  Jetfire came in alongside a whole slew of other stuff, but was still the very first figure I pulled out of the box after getting home.  There’s a lot going on with this figure, and it’s pretty much all awesome.  He’s got little minor flaws here and there (the hands being the only prominent one for me), but boy is he a lot of fun, and boy is he a great presence on the shelf.  I like him a lot.

Jetfire was purchased 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.

#2112: Havoc

HAVOC

FORTNITE: LEGENDARY SERIES (JAZWARES)

Hey, remember Fortnite, that video game that I have no attachment to, and yet from which I still managed to pick up five action figures?  Yeah…now it’s six.  In my defense, Fortnite merch is kind of unavoidable at this point.  We already had the 3 3/4-inch Jazwares offerings (which were my main focus), plus some Pops, and even Hasbro getting in on things under their Nerf banner.  More directly competing with Jazwares in the action figure department was McFarlane, who have a line of 7-inch figures that have been running since right around the same time.  Jazwares have decided to up the ante, and get in with some 6-inch figures, undercutting McFarlane a bit, if you will.  I still don’t care about Fortnite, but I do care about good toys, so let’s see how Jazwares fares, shall we?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Havoc is part of the first series of Jazwares’ Fortnite: Legendary Series.  Rather amusingly, he and the rest of the assortment started hitting right as Havoc joined the smaller scale line from Jazwares as well.  Not knowing much about the game, I can’t speak to Havoc’s relevance in the line, or how he relates to his assortment-mates, but I do know that in the game’s lore, he’s the brother of Raptor, which I guess explains their similar designs.  The figure stands just over 6 inches tall and sports 40 points of articulation, a fact that the package proudly states, much like the Toy Biz Marvel Legends of old.  Speaking of the Toy Biz Legends, remember how I mentioned the smaller scale line feeling like a successor to the 25th Anniversary G.I. Joes?  Well, this line does the same thing for Toy Biz’s Legends.  Hasbro’s figures have become their own breed, but this guy genuinely feels like he could have been a late-run Toy Biz product, albeit with some slight adjustments to fix some of the issues those figures have suffered from hindsight.  This figure brings back things that aren’t as common place these days, notably hinged fingers and toes.  The fingers worried me a bit, as a good number of the old Toy Biz figures had some major troubles holding accessories due to the joints, and these guys kind of need to be able to hold their accessories.  Fortunately, it seems like Jazwares was aware of the potential issues, and sculpted the hands to hold the accessories first, and added the joints after.  This means Havoc still maintains a decent grip on his weapons, while having a little more freedom of posability when not holding anything.  Additionally, no wrenching open of the fingers is needed to get the accessories in place, which I’d call a plus.  Havoc also makes use of butterfly shoulder joints, well hidden by his gear, plus pretty much every joint you would consider standard for a Legend.  His sculpt stays true to the animation models (meaning he’s got easy re-use potential for Jazwares to do Raptor), while still maintaining a decent level of detailing.  There’s a slight stylization to him, but not enough that he can’t fit in with more realistic lines.  In order to keep things fresh, one of the gimmicks of this line is swappable faceplates for differing expressions and the like.  Havoc includes three, one fairly standard, one surprised, and one with the mask pulled up to reveal the face beneath.  The three faces swap out relatively easy, but stay in place securely once clicked in, and the seam where they join is pretty well hidden.  Havoc’s paintwork is pretty solid stuff.  It’s mostly pretty basic work, but there’s a decent amount of accenting as well.  Additionally, unlike the small-scale Raptor, his eyes have been placed and sized correctly, so he doesn’t look wonky either.  In addition to the previously mentioned faceplates, Havoc is packed with a scoped assault rifle, a harvesting tool, his back bling, a chug jug, and a grenade.  It’s a nice assortment of extras, especially when compared to the basic smaller figures.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Just when I think I’m out, they pull me back in!  Seriously, I thought I’d kicked the Fortnite habit, and then Jazwares went and announced this line, and boy did they look cool.  I singled this guy out as the one I wanted to grab to try out the line because his name is “Havoc” and I’m a creature of habit.  As luck would have it, there was a single Havoc left at a Walmart I swung by on my way home from work, giving me the opportunity to give the line a try.  I was very impressed with the small scale line, and I’m even more impressed with Havoc here.  I will definitely be grabbing a few other figures from this line.  Darn it.

#2111: Lord Zedd

LORD ZEDD

POWER RANGERS: THE LIGHTNING COLLECTION (HASBRO)

“I am Lord Zedd, Emperor of all I see. You have failed to complete the mission assigned to you. I will now resume command. Prepare the planet for my return!”

For the second season of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, Saban decided that they wanted another big bad to pair off with the first season’s Rita Repulsa.  There was just one slight problem: no such character existed in the original Japanese material they were importing.  So, it was up to them to introduce their own.  Enter Lord Zedd, a villain so frightening that parental complaints led to him eventually getting toned down.  Given his US-based nature, Zedd’s been less lucky than the Rangers when it comes to action figures.  Fortunately for him, he was right at the forefront of Hasbro’s recently launched Lightning Collection.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Lord Zedd is the second of the four figures that make up the first series of The Lightning Collection, designed to pair off with the White Ranger also featured in the assortment.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 34 points of articulation.  Unsurprisingly, he follows the same basic construction-style as the White Ranger, which is a slight departure from the articulation schemes on Black Series and Legends, but is actually a very solid layout, and I’d wager it’s something Hasbro’s probably going to try to phase into their other lines as well.  Zedd is another all-new sculpt, as one would expect; there aren’t exactly a lot of characters that Zedd could share parts with.  It’s a pretty solid match for what we see in the shows, albeit adjusted ever so slightly to remove some of the “guy in a rubber suit” elements that the real Zedd possessed.  The star element is definitely the head, which capture’s Zedd’s distinctive visage quite nicely, and isn’t horribly under-scaled like the Bandai offerings tended to be.  The body is…a little less impressive.  They’ve followed the same lead they went with on the White Ranger, so he’s a base body with armored elements on top.  Not a terrible idea, and honestly much nicer looking than the solid-construction Bandai figures, but the add-on elements are a very soft plastic.  While this worked well for the White Ranger’s chest armor, on Zedd’s more piece-meal affair, it leads to some parts that are a little floppy.  On my figure, the leg guards pop out of place a lot, as do the wrist bands whenever you go to change the hands. Posing him is definitely not quite as much fun as it was with Tommy.  That said, he sure does look the part.  Aiding in him looking the part is the paint work.  The silver armored elements are a stark, clean silver, while the “flesh” elements get a wash to bring out all of the recesses of the body, doing a pretty solid job of capturing Zedd’s intimidating presence from the show.  Zedd is packed with two sets of hands (two open gesture, one gripping, one fist), his signature staff, a lightning effect piece, and a growth bomb.  Not a bad load out at all.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Since acquiring my Figuarts Rangers, Zedd’s been at the top of my list.  He was pretty much off the table with Figarts, but with Hasbro taking over, I had renewed hope, and it paid off, because here he is.  Of course, I’m not the only one desperately waiting for a Zedd, and he’s the shortpack of the first assortment, so he’s by far the most difficult figure in the set to get ahold of.  I wasn’t able to get one from All Time’s first shipment, but lucked into one being traded into the store loose just a couple of weeks later.  He’s not as strong a figure as the White Ranger, and that’s only further punctuated by him having a lot more riding on him.  With that said, he’s unquestionably the best Zedd figure ever made (not that it takes much) and he is still a solid offering.

#2110: Obi-Wan Kenobi

OBI-WAN KENOBI

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

So, since the last time I discussed The Phantom Menace on this here site (just shy of 1800 reviews ago), public perceptions of the film have slightly shifted.  To be fair, last time around, the film’s 3D re-release had reinvigorated the fanbase’s hatred.  Now, it’s cool to like it, since the hate has shifted either to the new films, or to the portion of the fanbase who hates the new films.  Whatever the case, I’ve always liked Phantom Menace the most of the prequels, and that’s not changed.  As a kid, my favorite part of the movie was Ewan McGreggor as a young Obi-Wan Kenobi.  The Black Series has placed the majority of its focus on the original trilogy and the new trilogy, so the prequels have been sort of pushed to the side, and Obi-Wan’s “debut” appearance had a little bit of a wait.  Fortunately, it’s finally here, and now I’m gonna review it!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Obi-Wan is figure 85 in the Black Series line-up.  He arrived in stores in a mostly non-movie assortment, making him the a bit of an odd-man out.  It’s our fourth version of Obi-Wan in the line, and he’s the final of the three main Phantom Menace Jedi to be added to the line.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  Obi-Wan’s sculpt is all-new, and it’s another strong piece.  It’s another step forward in working the articulation into the sculpt without things looking too weird.  The arms are a touch long and seem to bend a little too far down, but beyond that the joints are well-implemented and he has an impressive range of mobility.  The head is sporting a solid likeness of Ewan McGreggor, certainly an improvement over the head from the Revenge of the Sith Obi-Wan.  The torso is constructed via layering, which has done a nice job of creating depth on the figure, as well as preserving the articulation.  His robes are nicely textured, and do a suitable job of looking lifelike.  Obi-Wan’s paintwork is pretty solid.  He’s the first of the Phantom Menace figures to released post-face-printing, and it does him a lot of favors.  He’s definitely a really lively looking guy, and it does the sculpt all sorts of favors.  The more basic paintwork isn’t quite as strong, with some noticeable slop on the edges of the boots in particular.  That said, it’s not as bad as some of the others we’ve seen in this line.  Obi-Wan’s only accessory is his lightsaber, which, following the trend of others in the line, has a removable blade and can be hung from his belt.  It’s a shame they couldn’t throw anything else in with him; even a cloth robe would have been nice.  As it stands, he does feel a tad light.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When the Black Series first launched, I had one firm rule: no prequel figures.  Even before I broke it to get in on some Clone Trooper goodness, this guy was the one exception to that self-imposed rule.  I was definitely playing a mean waiting game with both Maul and Qui-Gon out already, so I was very excited when this guy was finally shown off.  He was at the top of my list for this assortment, and I gotta say, he’s a really satisfying figure.

I picked up Obi-Wan from my friends All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

 

#2109: Grey Ghost

GREY GHOST

BATMAN: ANIMATED (DC COLLECTIBLES)

When it was in full swing, DC Collectibles’ Batman: Animated line was one that gave me a lot of mixed emotions.  I liked the concept behind it, because I like the show, and I like well-articulated action figures, but the implementation was always hit or miss.  And if the quality of the figures wasn’t questionable, how they were getting released kept getting weirder.  When my most wanted figure ended up stuck in a $150+ boxed set, I was less than thrilled, and so were a lot of other people, and the line sort of died off for a bit, its last few offerings being a bit up in the air.  Cancellation seemed like a certainty, but DCC surprised us and actually got those last several figures out.  Included amongst them was the Grey Ghost, a show original creation designed to showcase former Batman actor Adam West.  He was one of the few characters not to be given a figure during Kenner’s run, and while Mattel made one, he was never super plentiful, making DCC’s a pretty big deal.  Does he live up to it?  The short answer is yes, but allow me to elaborate.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Grey Ghost is figure 42 in the Batman: Animated line, and is part of what is looking like it may be the final assortment of single-carded figures.  He’s based on the character’s appearance in his showcase episode “Beware the Grey Ghost.”  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  Right off the bat, this figure is notable for deviating from the line’s (admittedly a little inconsistent) articulation scheme.  The neck is changed from a restricted ball joint to a universal joint, the hips are now a ball and disk construction with an overlay piece for the pelvis, he has double knee joints, and his ankles follow the current Legends rocker set-up.  The biggest upside to this is an abundance of lateral movement on the legs, which removes the tendency towards pigeon-toes for these figures and also makes him a lot easier to keep standing. There are still some areas where movement could be improved (he still has nothing mid-torso), but this is a great step forward.  This line was sold on show accuracy, and Grey Ghost’s sculpt follows suit.  It’s a pretty clean recreation, and the articulation is suitably worked in without breaking things up too badly.  In terms of paint work, Grey Ghost is fairly consistent with earlier offerings.  This definitely makes the paint the weakest aspect of the figure, but it’s not terrible.  There are a few spots that could stand to be just a touch cleaner.  Grey Ghost is packed with his pistol (plus an extra hand for holding it), one of the Mad Bomber’s toy cars, an extra hand holding a pen, and a copy of the Grey Ghost VHS he’s seen signing at the end of the episode.  While it’s a little sad that the stands were cut, I do like the return to episode specific extras a lot.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I genuinely thought this figure wasn’t getting released, so I was surprised to find him at a comic book store while on vacation a few weeks ago.  I wasn’t expecting much, but wasn’t going to pass on owning some version of the character as a toy.  He pleasantly surprised me to say the least, and in typical DCC fashion, they’ve managed to fix everything just before abandoning things.