#3112: N.E.S.T. Bumblebee

N.E.S.T. BUMBLEBEE

TRANSFORMERS: STUDIO SERIES (HASBRO)

“Re-imagined as a N.E.S.T. Jeep, Bumblebee and the Autobots team up with N.E.S.T. to protect the Allspark from the Decepticons.”

So, I guess I’ll just review a Transformers figure, like, once a month now, right?  That seems to be the way I’m headed.  Well, okay, that seems to be a thing I’ve done twice now.  I suppose I shouldn’t cling to it too early; might be a bit hasty for such things.  Well, anyway, I’m doing a Transformers review today.  It seems the thing to do, largely because I’ve got a new Transformer, and not a ton of other new things in need of review, I suppose.  But, it’s okay, because it’s at least a pretty cool one.  Despite it being neither a Soundwave nor an Ultra Magnus, it *is* a Jeep, so it still checks off at least one of the boxes for me in terms of being a Transformer that I need.  So, without further ado, here’s N.E.S.T. Bumblebee!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

N.E.S.T. Bumblebee is a Fan Channel-exclusive Deluxe Class Transformers: Studio Series release.  He’s figure 77 in the line-up, which places him between Voyager Class Thrust and Deluxe Class Sideswipe, though he was released rather far removed from both of them.  Though marketed as a Bumblebee movie release, this figure isn’t actually based on anything in the movie, and is instead more closely tied in with the Universal Studios ride, which features N.E.S.T. as a prominent part.  Of course, he’s still not specifically based on anything directly from the ride, but we’re getting closer at least.   In his robot mode, Bee stands a little under 4 1/2 inches tall and he has 16 points of articulation.  N.E.S.T. Bee is re-using the sculpt from Offroad Bee wholesale.  I like that sculpt a lot, so, you know, I’m okay with it.  The first use of the mold did have a slight issue with loose hips; for this release, they’re a little bit tighter, but not by much.  It’s a bit of a downer, but still not enough to ruin the figure for me.  He maintains his solid construction in robot mode, which is a definite plus.  The change-up for this release is the color scheme, which trades out the yellow of the original release for more of a gun metal grey.  It’s not classically Bumblebee, but it’s a nice color for the mold, and he also trades out the clear and blue parts for a drab green, further removing him from the prior release.  Like the previous version, this one is packed with his blaster attachment for his arm.  He also gets the small Sam Witwicky figurine from the Revenge of the Fallen Bee release.  It’s not really to scale, and doesn’t really interact with the figure at all, but, well, it’s there, so, there it is.

As with the last release, this Bee’s alt-mode is a fully-licensed Jeep.  The transformation scheme is still pretty decent, without all that fiddly-ness of some of the other Studio releases.  The end result still holds together pretty well, and apart from those somewhat obvious arms, it’s a very convincing Jeep recreation.  In this mode, another change-up to the color scheme, namely the addition of a N.E.S.T. insignia to the hood of the car, which is a fun little touch.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I really love the last Jeep Bumblebee.  It’s quite possibly my favorite Studio Series release.  I just really love that mold, and I like picking up molds I love.  This one doesn’t really have any reason to exist, but, honestly, I don’t care.  It was a fun toy the first time around, and it’s still fun now, just in a different set of colors.

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

#3111: Sonic Attack Spider-Man & Black Cat

SONIC ATTACK SPIDER-MAN & BLACK CAT

MARVEL MINIMATES

Marvel sure does like their cross overs, and they have for quite a while.  As perhaps the company’s biggest name hero, Spider-Man’s found himself at the center of a good number of them.  In 1993, it was actually one of his villains that was center stage, for “Maximum Carnage”, an event spinning around, you guessed it, Carnage.  Spidey himself was still rather involved, it running through his books and all, and so were a good number of his supporting cast members.  The whole event was a fairly big multi-media success, and in 2018, DST put together a set of Minimates to mark its 25th Anniversary.  I’m taking a look at Spider-Man and Black Cat today!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Sonic Attack Spider-Man and Black Cat were released as part of the 76th specialty series of Marvel Minimates, which was entirely themed around the “Maximum Carnage” cross-over.  They and the rest of the assortment hit shelves in October of 2018.

Also included in this set is a piece to the Build-A-Mate Shriek.  This time around it’s the head and hair, which are definitely her most distinctive features!

SONIC ATTACK SPIDER-MAN

Every so often, we get an update on the classic Spidey, and since he had his standard look during the story, this is as good a time as any to get one.  This one specifically goes for that ’90s aesthetic, as a sort of a post McFarlane version of the character, which does have a distinctly different flair to it than previous figures.  Structurally, he’s pretty much like any basic Spidey, meaning he’s just that core ‘mate body.  It’s a good core body, so it’s hard to go wrong with a straight re-use.  Correspondingly, he stands about 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  The paint does the heavy lifting here.  He’s got all the usual hallmarks of a late-line Spidey, so he doesn’t have quite as expansive a selection of weblines as some of the earlier versions.  He does get a lot of detailing on the not-red parts, though, with a very creative use of shading on the arms, legs, and torso, which help to capture the artistic feel of Spidey as seen in the story.  The paint work is all fairly clean on this guy, and the coverage for both colors is pretty consistent.  This Spidey’s accessory selection is where things really get more unique.  He gets the usual webline and display stand, as well as the sonic gun from which the figure’s name is derived, and, for the first time ever, a pair of thwip hands.  They’ve been on the request list for quite a number of years now, but it’s pretty cool to finally get them.

BLACK CAT

Black Cat certainly hasn’t had as many ‘mates as Spider-Man, but she’s gotten a respectable amount, with four separate releases under her belt.  What’s most impressive is that there hasn’t been any overlap in terms of costume choices.  This one uses her mid-90s appearance, which isn’t terribly different from her first ‘mate, but lacks the fur collar and has a deeper neckline…so deep that it becomes more of a waist line, really.  In terms of parts, Felicia gets five separate add-ons for her hair, glove, and boot cuffs.  The hair is from the MvC Phoenix, and is suitably large and flowing for a Black Cat piece.  It also follows her original ‘mates precedent of re-using a Jean Grey piece, so I guess that’s fitting.  The cuffs were last used on TRU Series 24’s more modern Black Cat, and work just as well here as they did there.  Black Cat’s paintwork is overall pretty decent.  It keeps the usual striking nature of her design, and the line work is mostly pretty sharp.  The skin tone is a bit uneven in terms of coloring, which is a little distracting, but for the most part she looks pretty decent.  They managed to convey a feminine figure alright here, though she does at times feel a little top-heavy to me.  Spidey may have done very well on the accessories, but Black Cat’s not quite so lucky.  All she gets is a display stand, which really doesn’t feel like much, does it?  Certainly there was something else to throw in?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve got no real attachment to this cross-over, and I was already starting to dwindle on my Minimates purchasing when these hit.  But, I kinda liked the look of the set, so I grabbed it.  Honestly, I wasn’t expecting a ton from yet another standard Spider-Man, but this guy turned out really well, and the accessories in particular really make him.  Definitely a worthy update to a core character.  Black Cat’s a solid ‘mate, but I don’t know that she’s terribly exciting.  Despite being technically something new, I can’t help but feel like she’s a little redundant.  Maybe I’m just not that huge a Black Cat fan.

#3110: Superman

SUPERMAN

SUPERMAN/BATMAN: PUBLIC ENEMIES (DC DIRECT)

In the early 2000s, DC revitalized their World’s Finest book, a series that chronicled Superman and Batman’s joint exploits (well, mostly; it didn’t start that way), under the more minimalistic title of Superman/Batman.  The series launched with “Public Enemies,” a story line that saw Superman and Batman labeled enemies of the state by a soon-to-be-deposed President Lex Luthor.  It’s far from high art or anything, but it’s a fairly fun story.  At the time, DC Direct did a line of figures to tie-in, based on Ed McGuinness’s art from the book.  Today, I’ll be taking a look at the line’s take on Superman.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Superman was released in the first series of DCD’s Superman/Batman line, which was entirely “Public Enemies”-themed.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  These figures were far from super-poseable, with little more than enough movement to tweak the basic standing pose.  You can get maybe a slight take-off pose out of him, but even that’s pushing it.  He can at least get his arms closer to his sides than Batman could, but even so, it’s pretty limited.  Superman had an all-new sculpt, based on McGuinness’s art; it certainly shares a number of elements with the other figures, since they all had rather similar builds.  It’s at the very least a pretty solid recreation of the art in three dimensions.  In particular, they’ve really gotten McGuinness’s Superman’s head down pretty spot-on.  I do really love how that sculpt looks.  The cape seems perhaps a touch short, but I do like the dynamic flow to it; it helps to break up that basic standing pose just a little bit.  Superman’s paint work is actually quite nice.  I’ve always really enjoyed the metallic blue they chose for this first release; it just really pops so nicely, especially next to the matte finish on the flesh tones.  I’m not entirely in favor of the lack of actual eyes, but it’s a stylistic choice, I suppose.  It does sort of have a twinge of nostalgia for me, since it makes me think of the early Kenner STAS figures, so I guess it’s not entirely bad.  I do quite like the blue accenting in the hair, so that works out.  Superman is packed with a Superman/Batman display stand.  It’s just a stand, but it does what it needs to, I suppose.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was in middle school when these were released, so I was on a much smaller budget.  That meant I only had the money for one figure from this set, and it wound up being Captain Atom, since I didn’t already have a bunch of him laying around.  I always wanted to grab this guy at some point, but I just never got around to getting one.  Last year, I was helping a family friend downsize their collection, and they gave me this guy in return for my help, which was honestly very nice.  He’s a very specific type of figure, and you have to want that very specific type of figure.  That said, I really like that very specific type of figure, and you’d be hard pressed to find a better adaptation of Ed McGuinness’s art, so he very definitely works for me.

#3109: Baze Malbus

BAZE MALBUS

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Baze Malbus has a bravado that provides a marked contrast to the spiritual centeredness of his best friend and moral compass, Chirrut Îmwe.”

Hey, look at that, we’re back to Star Wars.   It was bound to happen eventually, I suppose.  Back in February, I took my first look at Hasbro’s re-visit of Rogue One in Black Series format.  I’ve already looked at the main line’s one new figure, Bodhi, and a pair of the re-issues that hit alongside him.  Today, I’m following that up with another re-issue.  But it’s okay, because it’s one I didn’t get the first time around.  So, it’s like it’s all-new, right?  Sure!  Alright, here’s Baze Malbus.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Baze Malbus is figure 5 in the Rogue One set of Black Series Phase IV.  He reissues the #37 figure from Phase III of the line, which hit alongside Chirrut during the latter part of the original Rogue One run.  The figure stands a hair shy of 6 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  As I discussed in Chirrut’s review, the Rogue One era figures, especially the later ones, don’t represent the line at its best in terms of articulation schemes.  Hasbro was definitely still learning how to adapt the schemes to differing designs, so there are a good number of figures where the joints just aren’t optimized for the sculpts they’re attached to.  Baze is definitely one of those cases.  The shaping of the hair reduces the neck motion to little more than a swivel, the structuring of the chest armor makes the mid-torso joint mostly immobile, the hips are unable to get much motion at all to the sides, and the ankles can only go forward the slightest bit, making keeping the rather back-heavy figure standing something of a challenge.  The arms do at least get some okay movement, giving him the ability to at the very least hold his weapon half-way decently.  It may not seem like much, but it’s actually rather significant for this era of figure.  Baze’s sculpt was unique when he was first released, and has thus far only been used for this particular release since.  Issues with the articulation aside, it’s not a bad one.  The joints aren’t quite as clunky looking as they were on Chirrut, and the general level of detailing is pretty sharp.  The head sports a pretty strong likeness of Jiang Wen in the role, and is probably the nicest of the original Rogue One era sculpts.  The outfit is a good mix of clean and smooth armor with very broken in cloth pieces.  The boots are slightly on the softer side, but other than that, everything looks alright.  Baze’s paint work marks the primary change-up for this release.  The face gets the printing, and the head in general just gets a bit more detailing.  Some of the other colors on the palette have also been tweaked a bit, and he’s just generally a little bolder and more well defined than the prior release.  It makes an incredible difference, especially on the face, elevating the sculpt a whole lot in the process.  Baze is packed with his heavy repeater cannon, its ammo belt and canister, and a small taser which can be stowed on the back of his belt.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I noted in my review of Chirrut, the assortment that included these two was never particularly plentiful, so I only saw Baze and Chirrut once at retail each, and not even at the same time.  I’ve had a few more chances to get one or the other in the following years, but with it looking like the team wasn’t going to be finished, and not being able to even get the two of them at the same time, I didn’t have much drive to actually grab either of them.  With the team actually set to be completed, it’s easier to justify them both.  While Baze still exhibits some of the articulation troubles I had with Chirrut, he’s overall a stronger figure, and one that benefits far more from the improvements of this release.  And, hey, now I’ve got the full team.  How about that?

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

#3108: Ultimate Ash

ULTIMATE ASH

THE EVIL DEAD: 40TH ANNIVERSARY (NECA)

In 1981, after a series of glorified home movies, and otherwise widely unseen product, Sam Raimi and a bunch of his friends put together a full-length feature.  A horror movie about a group of friends trapped in a haunted cabin in the woods, and an extremely low-budget affair to boot, The Evil Dead gained quite a bit of notoriety for its cast and crew, especially Raimi, and the film’s star, Bruce Campbell, who made his first turn as Ash Williams, the man who would become the face of a franchise.  While there’s been toy coverage for the ultimate badass that Ash would become, we’ve never gotten anything based on his debut appearance.  In honor of the film’s 40th anniversary (well, last year, anyway), NECA’s gone back to the beginning, with a full on “Ultimate” treatment for Ash, circa the first film.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ultimate Ash is a single release figure, under NECA’s general Evil Dead banner, but the very first to be officially branded as The Evil Dead, aka the first movie.  The figure was first released in limited quantities to Target as part of their “Haulathon” event, before getting a wider release through specialty stores the following month.  This figure stands about 7 inches tall and he has 28 points of articulation.  Ash’s articulation scheme matches up with the modern NECA set-up.  It’s generally pretty decent, but there are certainly some areas where he could stand to have a little more range of motion.  For the most part, it does what it needs to, however.  Ash’s sculpt is an all-new affair, based specifically on Bruce Campbell’s much less action hero-y portrayal of the character from the first movie.  It does a pretty respectable job on that front.  The details match up well with the look from the movie, and the sculpting is all pretty sharp and on point.  There are three heads included with this release, each with a slightly different expression.  Given how expressive Campbell is in all of the Evil Dead films, it’s nice that NECA continues to give us a full range of extra heads to fully showcase this.  Of the three, I particularly like the more frightened head, which I feel best fits the first movie version of the character, but all three of them have a pretty respectable likeness of a very young Campbell.  Ash’s paint work is generally alright.  Nothing too fancy going on here.  Ash is based on his appearance early on in the film, before he really gets all messy from killing his possessed friends.  Knowing NECA, a bloody version will more than likely follow, but this one keeps with the clean look.  Given that all of the Evil Dead 2 figures had him in various states of dirtiness, having this one be totally clean actually makes it a bit more distinctive.  Ash is packed with a sizable assortment of accessories, befitting the “Ultimate” status of this figure.  He gets three alternate right hands (basic grip, trigger finger, and lantern holding), a lantern, chainsaw, rifle, axe, and the tape recorder he and his friends find in the cabin.  He lacks the book of the dead, which feels like an odd omission; maybe that’s a piece they’re saving for that inevitable bloody variant.  As it stands, not a bad assortment of extras.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I’ve addressed before, my first introduction to the Evil Dead films was via Bruce Campbell’s behind-the-scenes discussions regarding them in If Chins Could Kill.  I really enjoyed the book, and figured I might as well actually watch the films discussed there in.  I watched them in order, and notably caught The Evil Dead after midnight, which certainly made for a slightly more restless night.  I love the low-budget roots of the film, and I’ve been hoping to see some sort of toy coverage for a while now.  This guy finally gives us that, and he does it well.  He’s quite a lot of fun, even if he’s not the distinctive version of Ash that most people remember.

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

#3107: Migs Mayfeld – Morak

MIGS MAYFELD — MORAK

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“A hot-headed ex-Imperial sharpshooter, Migs Mayfeld was once the leader of a gang of criminals. Mayfeld’s old ties help The Mandalorian on his mission to rescue Grogu from Moff Gideon”

We’ve been seeing some lulls as of late in some of Hasbro’s major lines.  Not all at the same time, of course; they’ve been kind of rotating a bit.  Hasbro’s still having some noted issues with proper distribution, and all that, resulting in some lines being few and far between on their releases.  I looked at one Black Series figure over a month ago, which was actually one that had been sitting in my “to review” pile for several months.  Before that, my last three Black Series reviews have all been reissues of one form or another.  How about something new for a change?  Well, newish.  Migs Mayfeld was first introduced in The Mandalorian‘s first season, as point man for the group performing the heist in “The Prisoner.”  He was portrayed by stand-up comic Bill Burr, noted for his (likely comedically exaggerated) dislike of the franchise, and was, at least in his first appearance, really just playing himself…IN SPACE.  The character returned during the show’s second season, in the episode “The Believer,” which gave the character a surprisingly effective emotional journey, and gave Burr a chance to deliver an incredibly nuanced performance, far outside of his usual range.  This second appearance rather resonated with viewers, making it the natural choice for the character’s first figure treatment, which I’m taking a look at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Migs Mayfeld (Morak) is figure 15 in the Mandalorian sub-set of Black Series‘ Phase IV incarnation.  He’s one of three Mando-themed figures in this particular assortment…not that I’ve actually had the chance to see the whole assortment, or anything, of course.  Just Mayfeld.  Mayfeld is based on his disguised appearance from “The Believer,” after he and Mando steal Transport Driver armor to infiltrate the Imperial base on Morak.  It’s what he’s wearing during what’s really the character’s most definitive scene, and it also means that he can double as a Transport Driver, should you want such a thing.  The figure stands just shy of 6 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  Since Mayfeld is disguised as an Imperial, it makes sense for the figure to re-use some Imperial tooling.  While the Transport Driver isn’t strictly speaking one we’ve gotten before, it’s show design was heavily built from the Mudtrooper design we saw in Solo.  Subsequently, a good portion of this figure is making use of the Mudtrooper Han parts.  It’s a solid sculpt, and not one that really got out there, so it’s a fairly sensible re-use.  Apart from the collar of the undershirt not being the same, and there being some lingering holes in the back meant for the hoses from the Mudtrooper mask, it’s a close enough sculpt to work.  He gets a new skirt piece, with his slightly tweaked belt and holster, as well as a new head and removable helmet.  The helmet is on in the package, so you can’t actually see the Burr sculpt at all until its opened.  You almost have to wonder is Burr requested that, since it’s out of the ordinary for how such figures are usually packaged.  The helmet is supposed to be the same one that the Tank Pilots were sporting, and it matches up pretty well, while still being removable.  Under the helmet is the proper Mayfeld sculpt.  It’s a pretty solid one, if perhaps a touch too large for the body.  The likeness to Burr is fairly strong, and it’s great that he’s got an expression that really breaks from the usual emotionless appearances we tend to see on these.  Mayfeld’s paint work is generally decent, with one notable thing that I hesitate to really call an “issue;” it’s more of a discrepancy.  The armor on his right arm is red, as it was on the Han figure, denoting a higher rank.  However, Mayfeld’s armor in the episode is without this extra coloring; it’s Mando who gets the extra detail on his armor.  So, this one gets extra paint that he shouldn’t technically have, which is the opposite direction that such issues tend to go with paint.  At this point, I wonder if Hasbro might intend to just give the inevitable disguised Mando the green arm, just so that you can swap them both for the proper set-up.  That said, VC made the same mistake on Mayfeld, and Mando was still sporting the red as well, so perhaps Mayfeld is just cursed to be given a promotion.  Worse things have happened.  Mayfeld is packed with the previously mentioned removable helmet, as well as a small blaster pistol, which is a pretty key accessory for him.  It’s kinda light, but it also covers the basics, so I’m not too bummed about it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Mayfeld was a character that I had no issues with in his first appearance, but not one I was particularly intrigued by, or eager to see more of.  That said, his reappearance in “The Believer” was genuinely one of my favorite parts of the second season.  So, the announcement that he was getting a figure based specifically on that episode was cool by me.  Plus, it’s a Bill Burr figure, which is kinda cool in and of itself.  The figure turned out pretty well overall.  The issue with the coloring on the arm is honestly pretty forgivable, and I think he otherwise handles things well.  Now, the wait for the inevitable Mando to go with him begins.

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

#3106: Darth Vader – TIE Fighter Gunner Station

DARTH VADER — TIE FIGHTER GUNNER STATION

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

Back in the far off times of 2018, I reviewed two figures from the “Gunner Station” sub-branding of Kenner’s Power of the Force II line.  The gunner stations served as a more concise and themed continuation of the Deluxe sized figures for the line, and Luke and Han in their respective stations from the Millennium Falcon‘s dogfight in A New Hope were a pretty logical choice.  I guess Hasbro felt that they hadn’t quite heavy hitter-ed it up enough, though, so there was one more figure in the set.  It’s a Darth Vader, whose “Gunner Station” comes in the form of the cockpit of his TIE Fighter.  Yeah, it’s definitely a bit of a stretch.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Darth Vader with the TIE Fighter Gunner Station was added to Power of the Force in 1998, alongside the previously reviewed Han and Luke.  Where the other two have designs very much dialed into a very specific moment of the first film, this version of Vader continues the PotF Vader trend up to this point of being a loose amalgamation of Vader’s look in all three of the films.  The figure stands a little over 3 3/4 inches tall and he has a whopping 8 points of articulation.  Yes, in addition to the usual articulation for the line, this Vader also got knees.  It’s so much movement, you guys!  Structurally, he’s very similar to the other Vaders of the early run for the line, with the notable difference of having the knee joints, as well as a slightly more rigid stance.  Han and Luke both had some slight sculpting improvements from earlier releases, and this figure also came out the same year as the one with the removable helmet, which sported a far improved sculpt of its own.  So, this one feels a little behind the times, comparatively.  Beyond that, I guess he’s alright.  He keeps all the detail work, and swaps out the plastic cape of the prior figure for a cloth one, which is admittedly better for sitting in a cockpit.  The figure’s color work is generally pretty basic, with mostly molded black.  There are a few smaller accents, which follow the look from the movie closely enough, and keep him from being *too* drab.  Vader includes no smaller accessories, so there’s not lightsaber or anything.  He instead gets the Gunner Station thing.  It’s meant to look like the cockpit of his TIE Figher, which I guess it does alright.  There’s no upper half, of course, nor are there wings or anything.  There’s part of the window, and a weird handle thing, so that you can, like, hold it as a gun or something?  I’m a little confused about the exact intended use, to be honest.  It gets some missiles, which you can launch from the front of the “vehicle.”  And that’s really about it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This is one of those items that’s so nonsensical and far reaching, that I actually don’t think I even realized it existed when I was a kid.  I remember the other two, of course, but this one just slipped from my radar, at least until I had reason to really look into it again, after digging more into the whole line.  I got one when it got traded into All Time, because, well, I didn’t have it, and it’s also just really cheap.  It’s an odd piece.  It just feels very forced, like they really just wanted another Vader on the market, but didn’t know exactly how to get to that point logically.

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

#3105: Human Torch

HUMAN TORCH

FANTASTIC FOUR (TOY BIZ)

“Bombarded by cosmic rays while on an experimental space flight, teenager Johnny Storm gained an ability to match his fiery disposition. With but a thought, his body would ignite and burst into flame! Realizing that he must use his powers in the service of mankind, Johnny became the Human Torch, and fights to protect the world as a member of the Fantastic Four!”

Remember at the beginning of the month, when I was talking about all the weirdness surrounding getting Invisible Woman and Human Torch added to the first series of Toy Biz’s Fantastic Four line?  Since I started the month with the weird place holder Sue, it would make a lot of logical sense to end the month with the weird place holder Johnny, right?  It sure would.  Shame that I don’t actually own that figure.  That would have been convenient.  Guess you guys will just have to settle for the not-weird-place-holder Johnny, who is, in this sense, ironically a placeholder for the placeholder.  So, you know, still kinda weird.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Human Torch was initially released in the second series of Toy Biz’s Fantastic Four line, and was then re-released as part of their KB Toys-exclusive Marvel Universe line in 1996.  The two figures are identical, but for the sake of clarity, it’s worth noting that mine is the Universe release.  Torch is seen here in his fully flamed on appearance, and is at least loosely inspired by how he looked on the cartoon.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 9 points of articulation.  His sculpt was an all-new one, and remained unique to this figure (though an up-scaled version of it was used for the 10 inch line).  Generally, it’s not bad.  Fully flamed on Torches are always an iffy prospect, but this one does at least do a fair bit to keep him quite visually interesting.  His scorch lines are a sculpted element on this one, which actually works surprisingly well, and he’s got enough small flame effects to sell the “man on fire” thing.  I like that the head has a more playful expression than flamed on Torches tend to; it just feels more true to the character.  The main down side of this sculpt is the torso, which, due to the nature of his action feature, winds up a bit oversized.  It’s not awful, but it’s not great either.  Said action feature is a “Flame On Sparking Action.”  When you pull the string on his back, the torso sparks.  Or it used to, anyway.  The feature’s worn itself on mine.  Human Torch’s paint work is alright; fairly basic, really.  He’s molded in a bright red, and there’s some yellow for the flames, eyes, and mouth.  It works well enough, though the fact that everything is opaque is a little bit of a bummer.  Torch is packed with a catapult launcher stand, similar to the one included with Phoenix.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Human Torch is a figure I got brand new, albeit when he was re-issued under the Universe heading.  I had come into the collecting game too late for FF release, so I got the Series 4 version first.  This one was procured during a trip to my local mall’s KB Toys, on a trip with my Grandmother.  I think I just really wanted a fully flamed-on version of the character, since that’s what I was used to seeing on the show.  He’s not the best version of the character Toy Biz produced, but he’s also not the worst, and I kind of appreciate the goofier aspects of the figure.

#3104: Knuckles

KNUCKLES

SONIC 2 (JAKKS PACIFIC)

Video game movies are always a tricky prospect.  There’s a whole lot of room for error in any adaptation to a new medium, but games to movies has classically proven particularly troublesome, typically resulting in films that not only fail as adaptations of the source material, but also as movies on their own.  Released just before the start of the pandemic in 2020, the first Sonic the Hedgehog movie started off with some trouble, namely the uncanny valley surrounding the title character’s design.  However, by the time the final product hit theaters, audiences were surprised to find that…it was actually a pretty solid movie?  Like, both as an adaptation, and just on its own merits?  I was certainly surprised. With the success of the first film, its sequel was fast tracked (at least as fast-tracked as anything can be during the pandemic era), and it just hit about a month ago.  It’s even more fun than the first one, and introduces a few more of Sonic’s usual supporting cast.  This includes my personal favorite character, Knuckles, voiced within the film by Idris Elba.  It’s pretty great, you guys.  Let’s have a look at the figure today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Knuckles is one of the four figures that make up the first series of Jakks Pacific’s Sonic 2 movie tie-in line.  The figure stands 4 1/2 inches tall and he has 21 points of articulation.  Knuckles is sporting a pretty impressive selection of articulation, given the scale/price point.  The joints do have a tendency to get stuck, at least on mine, but with enough working, they pose pretty nicely.  The sculpt is an all-new affair, based on Knuckles’ design from the movie.  His movie design is quite faithful to his classic video game appearance, just brought a little bit more in line with the first film’s take on Sonic.  The figure follows the movie model quite well, making for a pretty spot-on recreation.  The sculpt gets some pretty solid detailing, especially on the texturing for his fur.  The color work on Knuckles maintains the design from the movie pretty well.  It’s rather basic, of course, but that’s kind of expected.  The red is all molded, as is much of the white, but what paint work is present is generally well-applied.  There was a bit of iffy coverage on the white patch on the torso on the figures I looked at, but my copy generally looks pretty good.  Knuckles is packed with a snow board (which is also included with Sonic).  Not the most Knuckles-esque extra, but I suppose it’s better than nothing.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The first Sonic movie was a pleasant surprise for me, and I was excited by what more the sequel could offer.  The confirmation of Knuckles, followed up by Idris Elba’s casting, made me quite hyped for it.  I’ve been eying the Jakks Pacific stuff for a bit, wanting to grab a decent Knuckles.  This particular release finally cemented the deal for me.  He’s a pretty fun little figure.

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

But hang on just a second here!  We’re not quite done with today’s feature.  Since I’m admittedly a little outside of the target demographic for these figures, I’ve decided to bring in a little bit of help from my good buddy Matthew, who’s a little more in the realm of being a kid, because…well, um, he is.  He’s not quite so versed on the reading and writing thing himself just yet, but he took some pictures, and he’s supplied me with his thoughts on the rest of the series, which I’ve done my best to transcribe.  Take it away Matthew!

This is Matthew!  Just so that you know, you heard about me from the other paragraph.  These are my figures from Sonic 2.  Tails, Sonic, and Eggman…no, Dr. Robotnik.  I went to the theatre to watch this movie, and it was really good.  If you have not watched it, please do, and then check out Ethan’s website [hey, this kid’s a pretty good promoter–Ethan].  You should go to All Time Toys if you want these.  That’s where I got them.

I want to tell everyone my favorite figure, which is the one in the middle.  It is Sonic.  I like blue.  My room is blue.  And they painted it right on this figure.  I like the board of Sonic [his accessory–E], it is really cool.  Just forewarning, he falls apart really easily, so be careful when you get them.  The feet come off…when I said that, the feet just came off.  Especially be careful with the hands and shoes.  But I do like how the joints move when he’s not coming apart.  I’m done talking about Sonic.  I wanna talk about Tails now.

Presenting the one on the left hand side: Tails!  One thing did not come with him: the backpack.  And just so that you know, if you have watched the movie, I’m just telling you a part of it, because he has a backpack in the movie.  I like that he has his gadget thing.  All his parts still come off like Sonic’s can too.  I don’t like the tail because it makes Tails fall over if you haven’t put down his feet properly.  If you have him on the Eiffel Tower tipping, he will fall over.  I’m done talking about Tails.

Presenting Dr. Robotnik! I like that he has an egg.  I do not like Dr. Robotnik.  I like the toy.  Not the guy.  Why I do not like the guy, is because I do not like his beard.  His mustache I mean.  I love his mustache.  I mean I hate his mustache.  I do not like that he’s evil.  And he likes drinking coffee.  And that’s why he comes with a coffee cup.  Because he’s Dr. Robotnik.  And he loves coffee cup.  He could even eat a coffee cup with coffee in it.

I hope you like the website.  And if you want the toys, you should go to All Time Toys.  Good bye!

#3103: Winter Soldier – Flashback

WINTER SOLDIER — FLASHBACK

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Though Bucky Barnes has fought to become himself again, in his darkest nightmares his greatest fear comes to life…that he is still the Winter Soldier!”

Oh man, is this two whole Marvel Legends reviews?  In a row?  Don’t get too used to it, guys.  But hey, it’s some Legends.  And I do love reviewing me some Legends.  Some of my earliest Marvel Legends reviews here on the site were of the tie-in product for Captain America: The Winter Soldier.  It’s still one of my favorite MCU films, and, despite plenty of retrospective MCU coverage in Legends since, we’ve not actually gotten any additional TWS figures since that initial run.  Kinda crazy, really.  8 years later, we’ve got one more, though this one comes under the guise of technically being a tie-in to last year’s The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.  Hey, I’m hardly going to complain about weird loopholes if they mean I get more TWS figures.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Winter Soldier (Flashback) is a one-off Fan Channel-exclusive Marvel Legends release.  He’s loosely tied in with the Sam and Steve Caps two-pack, as they both are using the same code-name, and are clearly meant to at least somewhat compliment each other.  Winter Soldier started hitting retail in roughly the last month or so.  Officially, this figure is based on the flashback dream Bucky has in the first episode of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, but unofficially, he’s definitely meant to be Winter Soldier from the highway fight in TWS, since that’s the most distinctive use of this particular look.  The figure stands about 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 30 points of articulation.  From the neck down, this figure is re-using the mold from the original Mandroid Series Winter Soldier.  It’s a pretty sensible re-use.  Slightly old-style articulation scheme aside, it’s a really good sculpt, which does a respectable job of capturing the character’s outfit as seen in the movie.  The detailing is all nice and crisp, and he just really looks the part.  He’s also not nearly as undersized as the Caps of the same era, which really works in his favor.  He gets two all-new head sculpts, replacing the original two, which were working from pre-production designs.  These one’s give us the proper half-mask and fully unmasked looks.  They’re both pretty solid sculpts, and certainly improvements to the original release.  Of the two, the masked look is the stronger sculpt, I feel.  The half-mask looks really cool, and the sculpting is really sharp.  The unmasked head is okay, though the likeness isn’t quite there; I think his chin is a bit too large for Sebastian Stan.  Adding to the updated head sculpts is an updated paint scheme.  The jacket is properly darkened, matching the final film, rather than the concept art that the original was based on.  The heads both have the printing on the face, and the metallic arm is now much cleaner, closer to the way things look in the movie.  While the prior Winter Soldier’s only accessory was a big, goofy red thing that was supposedly a gun-type-thing.  This time around he’s got actual guns…well, closer to actual guns, anyway.  There’s an assault rifle type thing, and two pistols, which sort of have some Beretta 93r elements…if you squint.  He’s also got a knife, which is key for that cool knife flip trick from the movie.  The guns aren’t real, but they at least look the part more so than the original, and I’m honestly going to have him wielding the knife all the time, anyway.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I really loved the old Winter Soldier at the time of its release, but he was always slightly hindered by some of the odd factors that went along with him.  I also always really wished he had the half mask, which is by far his coolest look in the movie.  I’d been hoping for some sort of an update, what with all of the Marvel Studios stuff Hasbro’s been doing.  It’s been quite a wait for this one, and there are still some minor nits, but I really love how this figure turned out, and he’s pretty much exactly what I’ve been hoping for since 2014.

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