#2209: Agent Anti-Venom

AGENT ANTI-VENOM

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

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

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

THE FIGURE ITSELF

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 However, from a toy standpoint, there are some issues that come with this re-use, namely that the underlying body was outdated when the first Agent Venom came out.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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

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

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

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#2208: Deadpool & Hit-Monkey

DEADPOOL & HIT-MONKEY

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

The most bodacious team-up this side of Miami: Deadpool & Hit-Monkey make being an internationally feared assassin look easy.”

There’s no denying that Deadpool has popularity and recognition behind him, which makes him an easy pick when it comes to merchandise.  It also makes him useful leverage for getting retailers to support other items, meaning that for every time that we get the likes of yesterday’s Havok and Polaris, we also get the likes of today’s offering, a Deadpool-centric two-pack, pairing him off with one of Marvel’s many attempts at spinning other goofy characters out of Deadpool, Hit-Monkey.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Deadpool and Hit-Monkey are the other half of the Fan Channel-exclusive assortment of Marvel Legends that contained Havok and Polaris, also bearing the “80 Years of Marvel” branding, and clearly meant to capture a more modern piece of Marvel history, though if it’s a reference to a specific comics occurrence, I will admit I’m not familiar with it.

DEADPOOL

There have been quite a few Deadpools in the last two years of Legends, but this one does manage to actually be a little more distinctive, mostly by being in something other than a variation of his standard costume.  This one embraces the vague Miami: Vice theme of the set by sticking Wade in an all-white suit, which is admittedly a pretty striking look for the character.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  Wade makes use of the newly re-worked suit body that we got with Nick Fury, which is a pretty decent upgrade on the prior body, and now scales a little bit better with Bucky Cap-sized heads like Deadpool.  Topping off the body, he’s got a selection of three different heads: fully masked, fully unmasked (both from the Juggernaut Series Deadpool), and half-masked.  They make for a nice variety of options, and it’s good to see Hasbro really taking advantage of that bank of existing parts for stuff like this.  Deadpool’s paintwork is pretty straight forward and clean, and keeps with the striking nature of the design.  The reds are very bright, keeping with the Sasquatch and Sauron assortment coloring, which I’m okay with, even if they don’t quite match the Deadpool Corps release from earlier this year.  The unmasked head actually gets pupils this time, and while I myself prefer the prior deco, I do like getting a change-up here.  Deadpool is packed with a solid selection of accessories, which includes two katanas (same as prior DPs), a pink zebra-patterned handgun, a guitar (re-used from Spider-UK, and in a funky Madcap color scheme), headphones (re-used from Star-Lord), a Captain America shield with Deadpool’s face painted on it, and a re-worked RC Silvermane with Headpool in Silvermane’s place.  There’s no new parts in here, but that doesn’t change how impressive it is to get this many extras.

HIT-MONKEY

Not long after Hit-Monkey’s debut in the comics, he found himself chosen as one of Hasbro’s smaller-scale BaFs from the tail end of the pre-Infinite Series Legends.  As with everything from that period, distribution was spotty, making completing him either woefully easy or near impossible, and crafting quite an odd after market.  Whatever the case, I suppose Hasbro felt they should give fans another chance at the character, so here he is.  The figure stands just shy of 3 1/2 inches tall and he has 24 points of articulation.  His sculpt is the same as it was the first time around, which is reasonable enough.  Hit-Monkey’s really only had that one look.  The sculpt is a little bit more stylized than Legends tend to be these days, but for a character like this, that’s honestly not a bad thing.  Given the alternative being the rather bland and off looking Spider-Ham we got last year, I’m more for this.  The figure changes things up from the last release by swapping the color of his suit from black to white, and the tie from blue to red, all in order to match the Deadpool.  Again, no clue if Hit-Monkey’s ever looked like this, but it works out alright for him.  Hit-Monkey includes the same accessories as the first time around: a pair of pistols and a pair of submachine guns.  Not quite as impressive as Deadpool, but two sets of guns is still pretty good.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I wanted Havok and Polaris, and this set just sort of came along with them, I suppose.  I wasn’t exactly expecting much of anything from either of them, and that probably worked out in their favor, because it allowed me to really approach them with fresh eyes, and just enjoy them for what they are.  What they are is pretty fun.  It’s a cool look for Deadpool, a second chance at Hit-Monkey, and a boatload of really fun extras between them.

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

#2207: Havok & Polaris

HAVOK & POLARIS

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

Originally launched in 1986 as a way to re-unite the original founding five members of the X-Men, X-Factor found itself in a slightly tricky spot when it was decided to fold the founding five back into the main X-team in 1991.  With the X-books at the height of their popularity, Marvel wasn’t looking to just drop one of them entirely, meaning they would need a new roster of characters, but a selection of characters that were not going to be at all claimed by the two main X-books.  This new X-Factor was a government sanctioned team of mutants made up largely of second-string X-Men characters who had been rattling around in the background of the main book for most of the ’80s.  Taking Cyclops and Jean Grey’s role as the romantically-involved core of the team were Cyclops’ brother Havok and his on-again-off-again love interest Polaris, both of whom were recovering from a few bouts of “brainwashed and evil.”  The series would prove quite successful in elevating all of the characters included within, Havok and Polaris among them.  And, with most of the founding ’90s X-Men covered, now Marvel Legends is moving onto X-Factor.  Nice!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Havok and Polaris are one of two Fan Channel-exclusive two-packs of Marvel Legends, loosely built into Hasbro’s celebration of 80 years of Marvel.  This particular set’s packaging is noted as a throwback to the trading cards of the ’90s, which is admittedly a pretty fun, pretty vibrant idea.  I still don’t care what these figures arrive in as long as the toys themselves are good, but I can appreciate Hasbro honoring some of Marvel’s past exploits, and these are certainly a good pair of figures to tie-in with the trading card craze of the ’90s.  Okay, enough about the cardboard that carries these things, onto the figures!

HAVOK

“Alex Summers is an Alpha level mutant with the power to absorb cosmic energy and convert it to plasma.”

I hope you guys are appreciating the calm nature I have maintained up until this point in the review.  Truly I am a master of my own emotions because HOLY CRAP THEY MADE IT THEY ACTUALLY MADE IT THEY MADE A MARVEL LEGENDS HAVOK IN HIS 90S COSTUME AND NOW I HAVE IT AND ITS MINE AND NO ONE CAN TAKE THAT FROM ME…well, I made it pretty far, I guess.  So, as the above shouting on my part may have cued you in, this would be Havok, wearing his attire from the ’90s X-Factor series, or at least a version of it.  The initial X-Factor costumes were designed to play well with the main team costumes from Lee’s X-Men book, but were not quite an exact match, and they also tended to change a little from issue to issue.  Havok’s design seen here is from around the time of the X-Tinction Agenda cross-over, which is when they added the yellow leg-straps to his design.  Given the whole cross-marketing synergy thing of the ’90s, it’s this version of the design that got used for the old Toy Biz figure, appeared on the cartoon, and generally gets picked up if their doing a ’90s Havok anywhere else, so it’s really the one everyone knows.  This is Havok’s third time as a Legend, though he’s never gotten one in this costume.  In fact, this is only the third time we’ve gotten a toy of this costume (there will also be a fourth later this year).  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  Like the last Havok and also the Lee-style Cyclops, this figure is built on the Bucky Cap body, which is a sensible enough choice for Alex.  He gets a boatload of new pieces, though, with a new head and arms, plus add-ons for the jacket and belt.  The new pieces are all pretty fantastic, with the jacket and arms in particular really standing out to me, because they just capture that feel of the old 5-inch figure, right down to the overly defined forearms.  I also really like how the jacket clips shut at the front, but can be opened to allow for better use of his mid-torso joint.  I have exactly two complaints about the sculpt, both minor, and only one of them actually new.  The forearms, as nice as they are, do seem to connect a little oddly to the fists.  It feels like there should be a cuff piece there to join them, and that would actually be more accurate to the source material.  Of course, if you’re like me and you have that Madripor Wolverine with his ill-fitting glove cuffs, I would point out that they fit pretty much perfectly on this figure, and greatly improve his already awesome appearance.  My other complaint is kind of a hold over from a prior figure.  Havok re-uses the leg straps from Cyclops, which is sensible from a consistency standpoint, but also means that he’s got the same troubles with them staying in place that figure did.  That said, I’m used to them now, and there are possible fixes, such as gluing them in place, which could help.  Havok’s paintwork is actually quite impressive.  For the most part, it’s fairly basic work all throughout, but there’s some really strong work on the jacket, which does a nice fade from blue to black.  It’s subtle and it really works.  Havok is packed with a pair of effects pieces, which are the same as the ones from his last figure, but in yellow this time.

POLARIS

“Like her father Magneto, Lorna Dane has the mutant ability to control magnetism.”

Okay, so I promise to keep myself a little more reserved on this part.  It’s just Polaris, and much as I love Polaris, she’s not quite a ’90s Havok.  Polaris has had a slightly less fortunate time with action figures over the years, with her first two action figures both being repaints of Rogue figures.  She did get a dedicated Legends release in the Warlock Series, but that one was met with a lot of in-fighting about the costume choice, and ended up hanging around a lot of places, which put a serious question mark on this costume’s release.  Also, unlike Havok, Polaris’ X-Factor design didn’t quite follow the same structured look, so there are more options to choose from.  Hasbro opted to go with her first one for this release, which it’s worth noting is also the one that was on the cartoon, making it a pretty sensible choice.  The figure stands a little over 6 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation.  She uses the same base body as the last Polaris (yay for internal consistency), but gets a new head, torso, and upper arms, as well as add-ons for her wrist and boot cuffs.  The new parts mesh well with the old, and the torso and arms in particular exhibit a good range of motion, improving upon the standard pieces for his body.  The hair manages to capture the dynamic flow of the illustrations, while not being too restrictive to the movement or weighing her head down too much either.  Polaris’ paint work is nice and vibrant, and in particular I love that bright green they’ve chosen for the hair.  The dullness of the last one was one of my few complaints, and this one ends up looking a lot nice.  Polaris is packed with two sets of hands in open and closed poses, as well as the same effects pieces included with Havok, but this time in green.  I do wish they had come up with some more effects options, especially for two differently powered characters in the same pack, but this has admittedly been an issue since their solo-releases.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Oh boy, was this set a big deal for me.  Frequent readers of the site are no doubt aware that I’m a *pretty* big Havok fan, to the point where I literally own every figure of him (plus six copies of his ’90s figure just on its own).  I’ve been waiting for this particular Havok since before there were any Legends Havok figures at all, and in fact even made my own back in 2005.  I didn’t realize how long I’d be waiting for an official release.  Polaris is somewhat along for the ride, but I was certainly happy to get her too. These two are great releases, and Havok is probably my favorite Legends figure to date.  I’ve been saying that a lot recently, but he’s really good.

These two came from my friends at All Time Toys, who knew enough enough about my Havok craze to give me the heads up on its release.  Yay for me!  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2206: Soranik Natu

SORANIK NATU

GREEN LANTERN (DC DIRECT)

Coming out of Green Lantern: Rebirth we saw not just the return of classic silver age Green Lantern Hal Jordan, but also the return of the Green Lantern Corps as a whole, for the first time following its destruction during “Emerald Twilight.”  While a number of the GL mainstays were brought out of retirement for the new Corps, a good number of the prior members were dead or missing, meaning there was a need to fill their spots with some new characters who fit the same basic archetypes.  In some cases, they were pretty much just the same characters with a new name (B’dg for C’hp, for instance), but not every new inductee was this way.  Soranik Natu, taking the role of purple-skinned love interest to an Earth Lantern over from Katma Tui, got a pretty decent arc of her own over the course of the Green Lantern Corps focus series, coming to terms with her own resentment of the Corps and of her father, former rogue GL Sinestro.  She also get herself an action figure in the process.  Yay!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Soranik Natu was released in Series 5 of DC Direct’s Green Lantern line, which would prove to be the final series of the line under their tenure.  It joined Series 4 as a bit of a wrap up the the GL stuff following the rather lengthy run of Blackest Night figures.  It was honestly a little surprising that it took Soranik quite as long to get a figure as it did, but at least she got one, I guess.  The figure stands just shy of 7 inches tall (the creeping DCD scale was on the verge of topping out at this particular point), and she has 15 points of articulation.  At this point, you can kind of sense that DCD was feeling the pressure from DCUC and trying to make their figures a little bit more than plastic statues.  Soranik has more articulation than the typical release to be sure, but ultimately there’s not a ton you can do with it beyond putting her into basic standing poses.  There’s some decent range on the arms, particularly the shoulders, but even areas that had previously been pretty easy for the to articulate, like the elbows, are rather restricted here.  Also showing the DCUC influence is the figure’s construction.  DCD was trying their hand at some base bodies around this time, so Soranik uses the same body as Dove and Jade from their Brightest Day line of figures.  To be fair, it’s not a bad sculpt, and it’s got fairly balanced proportions overall, which is more than can be said for a good number of DCD’s later run figures.  It’s also not horribly preposed, and doesn’t have lots of un-needed detailing, making it look rather clean.  Soranik got a new head and hands to complete her look.  They’re fairly basic pieces, but they get the job done.  The stern expression on the face works well for Natu’s usual demeanor.  Soranik’s paintwork is fairly crisp and clean.  She uses the metallic coloring that DCD liked so much for the Lanterns, which honestly looks pretty good here, and I still really dig how those pearlescent white gloves look on all of these guys.  Soranik was packed with her power batter and a display stand with the Green Lantern emblem on it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

At the time that Soranik was released, my brother Christian and I were working on our respective 6-inch Lantern collections (his was Yellow, mine was Green), so he was pretty adamant about having my parents take him out to get me Soranik as soon as she was released so that he could give her to me as birthday present.  While I don’t have a ton of attachment to the character, she was a fairly prominent piece of the Corps for a good while, and I was definitely happy to had her to the roster.  It helps that she’s a fairly decent looking figure, even if she’s not the most playable thing.

#2205: Imperial Scanning Crew

IMPERIAL SCANNING CREW

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

In 1997, we got our very first Wedge Antilles figure, available exclusively as a pack-in with a figure carrying case shaped like the Millenium Falcon.  Wedge’s placement in a case shaped like a ship that he never so much as stepped foot on during the original trilogy’s run was definitely an odd choice, so in 1998, when Kenner re-issued the case again, I guess they kind of took that to heart, and instead gave us someone who *had* actually stepped foot on the ship…like that’s literally the only thing he did.  Yes, it was the Imperial Scanning Crew, one of those non-even-a-Stormtrooper guys who goes and checks the Falcon when it gets pulled onto the Death Star in the first film.  Admittedly, not the biggest role, but he *did* interact with the Falcon!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

As touched on the intro, the Imperial Scanning Crew replaced Wedge Antilles as the pack-in figure for the Power of the Force II Millenium Falcon Carrying Case in 1998.  There’s just the single version of the figure to keep track of this time around, though, which is honestly a little amusing, given the there’s room for multiple purchases on a figure like this.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  Like Wedge, the Scanning Crew figure makes use of some reused parts, with his torso, pelvis, and legs all being shared with the AT-ST Driver figure from 1997.  There’s not really a lot you can do to mix up the basic grey jumpsuit, so the re-use is honestly pretty sensible here.  He gets a new head and arms, which remove the gloves and helmet and give him that officers’ style cap that the crew sports in the movie.  The whole sculpt would eventually see re-use again for a single carded Scanning Crew figure in the Original Trilogy Collection, so obviously Hasbro liked it.  It’s not terrible, though it certainly shows all of the hallmarks of the mid-line PotF2 figures, with proportions that aren’t totally crazy, but are certainly a bit off, and some slightly softer sculpted elements.  His paint work is rather on the bland side, but then that’s pretty accurate to the source material.  Application’s still pretty clean, though, and there’s not obviously missing details.  The Scanning Crew figure was packed with a blaster pistol and a scanning trunk, both of which are missing from my copy of the figure.  The trunk is actually a nice, unique piece, and a sensible choice.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After finally picking up a Wedge, I felt compelled to own this guy as well.  Not really sure why, probably just that completist strain that runs through me.  I ended up finding him loose last winter during a vacation, courtesy of my usual vacation stop Yesterday’s Fun.  He’s not super exciting, and really anything to write home about, but he was unique, and honestly a decent choice for this sort of a pack-in figure, being non-essential, but still a nice background filler for a kid who bought the case.

#2204: Snake Eyes

SNAKE EYES

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

“SNAKE EYES honed his combat skills as a Long Range Recon Patrol trooper in Southeast Asia and perfected his mystical martial arts techniques with the same Ninja clan that produced STORM SHADOW. Although he is as equally adept with submachine guns as he is with swords, Snake Eyes is most dangerous and unpredictable when he’s armed and cornered. When HAWK went to Snake Eyes’ cabin to recruit him for duty with G.I. Joe, the silent Ninja was out hunting rabbits – bare handed!”

After around 1988, there’s something of a downward shift for G.I. Joe.  They really hit their groove in ’85, but the movie really through them for a loop.  Despite gimmicks and really far out concepts largely being the thing that people deride the movie and its associated characters for, Hasbro would nevertheless double down on such concepts as they embarked into the ’90s.  Interspersed with the likes of Super Sonic Fighters and Eco Warriors, they did manage to have some slightly less gimmicky Joes, I suppose, including a rather surprising go at returning Snake Eyes back to his pre-ninja roots, going back to his original backstory as a commando, albeit one in bright 90s-esque neon colors.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Snake Eyes was released in the main 1991 assortment of G.I. Joe, as the fourth version of the character to grace the line.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has the usual 14 points of articulation.  By the ’90s, the sculpts were definitely changing again, morphing into a style that would more closely match the rest of the stuff that would come out of the decade.  Snake Eyes showcases a lot of these changes, being way more bulked up and exaggerated in his proportions than the character’s prior incarnations.  Poor Snake looks like he barely fits into his gear this time around.  Maybe it’s time to put down the weights?  Or lay off the steroids?  Something.  Well, it’s gonna get worse before it gets better.  Snake Eyes sculpted design is perhaps not the most radical departure from prior designs, although the artful nature of prior looks is largely lost, with everything adding up to a design that doesn’t quite have that same cool factor as prior versions.  All of the elements to make a Snake Eyes are certainly there, but they come together like some sort of off-brand product.  The goggles in particular just seem…goofy and unimposing.  More like safety goggles than anything combat ready.  The artwork for the figure honestly doesn’t make them look that bad; there was something lost in translation.  Of course, the biggest thing against this figure’s probably the paint, where he departs the most from every other version of Snake Eyes.  Previous Snake Eyes figures all were very heavy on black, and very light on pretty much anything else.  This figure’s still got some black, but it’s interspersed with a lot of light blue, grey, and even some red.  While he’s hardly the most garish figure his year produced, by Snake Eyes standards, he was pretty obnoxious.  Also, inexplicably in Cobra colors, for whatever reason.  More than anything about the sculpt, these colors are the thing that remove this figure the most from being Snake Eyes.  Repaints of this figure in more Snake Eyes-esque colors aren’t perfect, but do at least make him more recognizable.  My guess would be that the sculpter and the person who chose the colors were not one and the same on this figure.  Snake Eyes was packed with two swords, a submachine gun, a backpack with a built-in missile launcher, and a display stand.  With the exception of the pack and stand, the accessories are all a vibrant red, again removing the usual Snake Eyes brand a bit.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When the very large Joe collection that came into All Time over the summer came in, this figure’s file card was in the mix, but he was nowhere to be seen.  Unlike Falcon, he did not miraculously appear out of one of the vehicles, however.  Instead, he miraculously appeared out of a small bag brought into the store by the person who sold us the rest of the collection, who had apparently found Snake Eyes and another figure while cleaning.  As an unabashed Snake Eyes fan, I have this weird desire to own all of his vintage figures, no matter how goofy, lame, or off-brand they may be.  This guy’s not great, but I honestly love him anyway.

As noted above, Snake Eyes came from All Time Toys, who got in a rather sizable vintage Joe collection, the remnants of which can be checked out the Joe section of their eBay page here.  If you’re looking for other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2203: Spectral Ghostbusters

PETER VENKMAN, EGON SPENGLER, WINSTON ZEDDEMORE, & RAY STANZ

GHOSTBUSTERS MINIMATES

“The Real Ghostbusters follows the continuing adventures of The Ghostbusters, secretary Janine, accountant Louis, and their mascot Slimer, as they chase and capture rogue spirits around New York and various other areas of the world.”

Happy Halloween dear readers!  For this year’s spooky-themed entry, I had intended to keep up with the running theme of looking back at DST’s ill-fated Universal Monsters Minimates, but they continued with the ill-fated bit, so I wasn’t able to get that particular set ready to go.  I guess there’s always next year.  So, I’ll be jumping over to one of DST’s other somewhat spooky lines of Minimates, the Ghostbusters, a far less ill-fated line.  After doing a rather successful run of movie-based ‘mates, DST picked up the license to the cartoon and rebranded the line under the Real Ghostbusters heading, producing another three boxed sets, plus a whole bunch more two-packs.  The first two sets covered the ‘busters and their supporting cast, but the third went the variant route, giving us all four ‘busters together, albeit in a slightly askew form.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The Spectral Ghostbusters were released in December of 2011, as the third and final boxed set in the Real Ghostbusters off-shoot of Ghostbusters Minimates, based on their appearance in the cartoon episode “Citizen Ghost”, the 11th episode of the show, which sees the ‘busters’ uniforms from the night they fought Gozer reainimated by spectral approximations of themselves.

PETER VENKMAN

It’s Peter’s fault that the Spectral Ghostbusters come into existence in the first place, so I guess he’s the defacto leader of this particular bunch.  He was also, at the time of this figure’s release, the only Spectral Buster with a prior figure, courtesy of Mattel’s Retro Action line.  The figure stands 2 1/4 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  He’s built on the basic ‘mate body, with add-ons for the hair, shoulder pads, and torso piece.  The hair was re-used from the basic RGB Venkman figure, with the torso piece being a re-use of Wintson’s piece from set two, with a slight adjustment to the proton pack’s left side to allow for storage of the ghost trap.  The torso pieces were still rather bulky at this point, an issue that wouldn’t properly be addressed until the “I love this town” boxed set, but I do have to say that they looked better here, probably because they were molded plastic, rather than painted, which slimmed them down ever so slightly.  The paint on these was also somewhat notable for being the first ‘busters to be in the tan color that more closely resembles the color of the uniforms seen on-screen in the films.  Of course, Venkman was also notable for being green and translucent, which was something he usually wasn’t.  The spectral effect on the face works quite well, and like all of the RGB ‘mates, he has a fully detailed torso under the chest piece, which I was always happy to see crop up.  Peter is packed with a ghost trap and a proton wand effect in green.

EGON SPENGLER

Egon is pretty similar to Venkman, but obviously swaps out a few of the add-on parts to make things slightly more unique.  The hair is from the RGB Egon, and has that distinctive swirl, while the torso is from the Venkman/Egon figures of set one, meaning he gets that extra strap at the front.  It’s safer that way I guess?  It does mean that he’s got a plug on the right side of his belt, which is missing anything to plug into it (prior Egons had his PKE), but I guess it’s not terribly noticeable.  The paint work changes up a little bit to match the new pieces and to change up the face for the likeness.  Again, the spectral effect is pretty cool, and the glasses make it look even cooler.  Egon is packed with the same trap and effect piece as Peter; shame they couldn’t throw the PKE in there.

WINSTON ZEDDEMORE

Wintson is even less different from Peter than Egon was.  From the neck down, the two are completely identical figures.  It’s just that head that changes things up, with the proper Winston hair piece and an adjusted likeness on the face.  Beyond that, same figure, right down to the same pair of accessories.  Fortunately, that means he doesn’t look like he’s missing anything the way Egon did, so I guess it works out alright for him.

RAY STANZ

Last up, there’s Ray, and what a surprise, he’s really similar to the other three.  I know, what a shock.  He does mix things up ever so slightly, getting the animated Ray hair and the Box 2 Ray torso piece (interestingly, Ray is the only ‘buster who never had to share his torso piece with any one else), but like Egon that leaves him with a peg that goes unused for this particular release, where the trap would have gone on the original release.  At least he and Egon have each other?  Beyond that, it’s all pretty much business as usual.  The paint’s pretty much the same, with the expected adjustments, and the accessories are again the same.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Though I mostly skipped the RGB line, I nevertheless ended up with this set.  Why?  Do I have some sort of undying devotion to the Spectral Ghostbusters?  Nope, I bought them because they were cheap.  Cosmic Comix got the set in, and the glue on the backing card was faulty, so it fell off.  To save themselves some trouble, they marked it down to half price and boom, there I was, buying me some half-price Minimates.  While perhaps not the most unique or individually thrilling ‘mates, I actually do dig this group, especially as a set.  They aren’t perfect, but they’re goofy, and gimmicky, and actually rather fun.

#2202: Spider-Man Symbiote

SPIDER-MAN — SYMBIOTE

MARVEL MIGHTY MUGGS (HASBRO)

It’s been almost a year since I last reviewed one, but I want to remain on the record about not having forgotten Mighty Muggs.  Everyone else may have, but I’ll be damned if I will.  Launching in 2007, Muggs pre-dated the Funko’s Pop! craze by a few years, and really just missed the earlier designer vinyl push from the early ’00s, making them sort of an odd duck in terms of success.  They definitely had their supporters, and the licensed properties in particular did well for Hasbro.  Though not quite the smash success that Star Wars was, the Marvel line got a decent run, with six main series plus a bunch of exclusives.  There was enough space for a few variants of the heavy hitters, and who’s a heavier hitter than Spider-Man?  Not only did he get his basic costume, but he also got that suite symbiote treatment…wait, that sounds wrong….

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Spider-Man in his Symbiote Costume was released in the third series of Marvel Mighty Muggs, alongside Ghost Rider, Doc Ock, and Thor, hitting shelves at the end of 2007.  The figure stands 5 3/4 inches tall and he has movement at the neck and shoulders (the legs are separate pieces, but do not move).  From a sculptural standpoint, there’s not a thing that’s unique about this figure.  He’s just the basic classic Mugg body, with no add-ons or alternations.  To be totally fair, that’s really the best way to handle this particular design, and works for that whole sleekness angle.  The heavy lifting is handled by the paint, which in this case is itself pretty basic and straight forward.  The base coat is black, and there’s white accenting.  That’s it, and what more would you want.  Sure, there’s all sorts of highlighting or creative shading you could try, and Muggs were known for being somewhat experimental with simulating lighting styles, but I’ve always found that such tactics just really muddy up the clean look of the Symbiote’s design.  I also appreciate that the design on the logo has been changed from Series 1’s Venom, who was lopsided and monstrous looking.  This one is much more symmetrical, and makes sense for the comparatively far more balanced Peter.  Spidey included no accessories, which wasn’t very out of the ordinary for this incarnation of the line.  I suppose he could have gotten a webline or something.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Mighty Muggs were sort of tricky to judge when they first hit, and so there was a lot of speculation.  That made getting a hold of a figure like Symbiote Spidey a little difficult when the line was still new, and I myself never did get one at the time.  Fortunately for me (but unfortunately for the line as a whole), as people forget about Muggs, whole collections appear and pretty much go for next to nothing.  I got Spidey over the summer, courtesy of Yesterday’s Fun, and I was pretty happy to find him.  There’s not a ton to say about him, but it’s worth noting that he’s an example of a design that worked great for this style, and one that wouldn’t have really worked for the updated Muggs, which I guess is why they didn’t make one.

#2201: Red Hood

RED HOOD

DC ESSENTIALS (DC COLLECTIBLES)

“The vigilante outlaw who was once a Robin, the man under the hood is extremely proficient in both weapons and hand-to-hand combat.”

Originally conceived as a potential former alias for the man that would eventually become the Joker, the monicker of Red Hood is one that’s been passed around a little bit, but ultimately it’s stuck a pretty darn long time with the un-deceased Jason Todd.  I suppose there’s something poetic about one of the Joker’s victims laying claim to his old name.  Despite being well-established in the role for a good long time now, as well as being introduced in a rather well-known modern era Batman story, Jason’s comics version of his Red Hood gear has been surprisingly absent from toys, or at least was for the first decade of his existence.  There was a New 52 figure which kind of worked in a pinch, but it wasn’t until just this year that we got a whole two Jason Red Hoods, one from DCC, and the other from Mattel.  Today, I’m taking a look at DC Collectibles’ version!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Red Hood is figure 18 in DCC’s DC Essentials line.  After doing a fair bit of retreading, Red Hood is finally a taste of more new stuff…though it looks like we’re going back to the retreading after this.  Oh, DCC, how predictible of you.  This figure represents Jason in the biker-styled Red Hood gear, though it’s not quite his first appearance attire.  Instead, he’s technically the most modern take on the design, from the post New 52/Rebirth era.  It’s a little more costume-y than the original look, but also has lost some of the over-designed elements that the initial New 52 stuff brought about, making for an overall pretty clean looking design for the character.  The figure 7 inches tall and he has 34 points of articulation.  The Essentials line has been fairly heavy on the re-use side, but Red Hood actually does inject a fair number of new pieces into it.  He uses the torso, pelvis, and upper legs of the standard male body, but gets an all-new head, arms, hands, shins, and feet, as well as add-ons for his jacket and belt/holsters.  The new pieces really work out in this figure’s favor.  The head, is definitely sleek and very cool, living up to the really solid heads we’ve gotten so far from the line.   The new arms are great because, in addition to adding the coat sleeves, they are also ever so slightly shorter than the standard arms, thereby fixing the monkey arms problem of prior figures.  The jacket add-on also hides those exposed pegs on the torso joint, fixing my other major complaint.  As a whole, the new parts really sell this figure as his own figure, rather than leaving him really tied to the rest of the Essentials line like the prior figures have been.  The paint work on Red Hood is also really strong, with the metallic red on the helmet being my favorite aspect by far.  The rest of the application is actually cleanly handled, and lacks the fuzzy edges that a lot of DCC stuff sports.  Red Hood is packed with a pair of pistols (which can actually be removed from the holsters and held, giving him a leg up on the Mattel release), as well as two sets of hands in both gripping and fist poses.  It’s nice to see the extra hands cropping up again, as the lack of them with the earliest figures was a real drag.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Red Hood was something of an impulse buy, truth be told.  He came in at Cosmic Comix, and I just really, really liked the look of him on the shelf, so I just ended up grabbing him.  I actually haven’t done that with a single Essentials figure since Reverse Flash, and I wasn’t sure it was going to pay off.  Then I opened the figure up, and oh boy did it.  Essentials has been really spotty for it’s run, but Red Hood is genuinely a solid figure, and by far the best figure this line’s put out.  I’d say here’s to hoping for more like him, but unfortunately DCC’s just shown off a bunch of stuff that goes firmly the other direction…alas.

#2200: Shrikethorn

SHRIKETHORN

PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING — SOVI SPIRITS (BANDAI)

Though not the smash critical success of its predecessor, Pacific Rim: Uprising was if nothing else a nice run through the world of the original, even if under some slightly different confines.  Had Pacific Rim been made in the ’70s, Uprising would have no doubt made a solid pilot movie for the inevitable TV adaptation.  It also did wonders for the very strong collectibles market associated with the franchise, giving us a whole new pool of Jaegers and Kaiju to give cool new toys.  Back around the movie’s release, I looked at a bunch of the Jeagers, but never did get around to looking at any of the Kaiju.  Let’s switch that up today, with a look at one of the three final battle Kaiju, Shrikethorn!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Shrikethorn was part of Bandai’s Sofvi Spirits line, as one of three Uprising-themed figures in the line.  The Jaegers were covered by the more conventional action figure stylings of the Robot Spirits line, but for the much larger designs of the various Kaiju, it’s not really quite as cost effective to produce solid, fully articulated figures.  So, these figures take a page out of the same book as the likes of the Ultra Hero 500 and Ultra Monster 500 lines, crafting the figure from a soft (and hollow) vinyl and cutting back on the articulation.  It makes for a much lighter, and slightly less detailed figure, but it also means that getting the Kaiju in the same scale as the Jeagers is attainable without dropping rather insane amounts of money.  The figure is about 6 inches tall (with a bit of a hunch, of course), about just as wide, and has 7 points of articulation.  The articulation’s really not meant for getting much variance of poses; it mostly is there to help add more balance when getting the figure standing.  For a big monstrous thing like Shrikethorn, it’s not really like there are going to be a ton of poses needed.  He’s good for looking rather menacingly at your Jeagers, which is kind of the main point here.  Being made from a softer material, his sculpt is understandably a little softer when compared to the likes of the Robot Spirits figures, and especially when compared to the NECA figures.  That said, all of the important details are there, capturing the broadstrokes idea of Shrikethorn’s design quite well.  Most importantly, they get the silhouette down, and that’s really were this figure’s success lies.  Shrikethorn’s paintwork is respectable enough for what it is.  Again, when compared to something like NECA, it’s a little soft, a little cartoony, and a little simplified, but the slightly more cartoony designs from Uprising do the figure some favors here, and the end result is a pretty solid offering.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Since all of the Uprising stuff was hitting right as Toys R Us was going under, these guys showed up there at full price, quickly got discounted, and quickly disappeared.  I recall looking at Shrikethorn when he first hit, but just never got around to tracking one down.  So, where did this one come from?  Well, from my Super Awesome Fiancee Wife (yes, you read that right), of course!  She found him all alone in the clearance aisle of the Barnes & Noble right next to her new job, and decided to bring him home for me.  As a piece on his own, Shrikethorn is perhaps not the most impressive offering, but he’s a really fun accent piece to the Jeagers, and I’m honestly just happy to finally have one.