3270: Mystique

MYSTIQUE

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“Wanting her foster-daughter Rogue back in her life, Mystique helps Miser Sinister in his plan to take over the X-Men! Shapeshifting into the Beast, Mystique tricks the X-Men into Sinister’s clutches. Witnessing Sinister turn Rogue into a monster proves too much for Mystique and she turns against the villain, using the now out of control monster Wolverine to aid in her revolt.”

Oh boy, late ’90s X-Men line.  When the whacky themes ran rampant.  Early in the line, things were rather focused and comics based, with a little bit of the cartoon input bleeding in here and there.  As the line progressed, the concepts started to get weirder, but not too crazy.  1996 had some weirdness, but it was 1997 where things got crazy, and each assortment seemed to be trying to top the last.  We had Ninjas and Robot Fighters, and eventually they just turned everyone into monsters.  Yeah.  At least we got one new character out of the whole deal, though.  Let’s look at Mystique.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Mystique was added to the X-Men line in 1997’s “Monster Armor” assortment, which was the twentieth series of the line.  This marked Mystique’s first time in 5-inch form, though she’d previously been part of the 10-inch line as a rather hastily thrown together Rogue repaint.  Mystique was seen here in her classic attire, likely chosen because it matched her animated appearances.  That was a small grace, since she had some real doozies in the ’90s.  The figure stands just under 5 inches tall and she has 5 points of articulation.  She marked a rather reduced articulation set-up.  Generally, this assortment marked a move away from practical articulation and into more pre-posing, a la what McFarlane’s offerings of the time.  Mystique’s articulation was good for minor tweaks to keep her standing, but ultimately not much else.  Her pre-posing was at least kept to a minimum on the figure’s sculpt, so she doesn’t look quite as silly as some of the others.  The sculpt has a respectable set of proportions, and just generally looks pretty balanced.  Toy Biz was clearly a fan of this one, too, since it got quite a few re-uses in the following years.  The paint work on this figure is decent enough.  Some of the change-overs are a little fuzzy, but there’s nothing horribly out of place and all of the important details are there.  Mystique was packed with her own set of Monster Armor, which included a mask, hand, and feet clip-ons, meant to turn her into a loose approximation of Beast, as mentioned in the bio.  It’s not spot-on, but it works okay, and it’s actually a pretty sensible accessory set-up for a character whose main gimmick is shape shifting.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When this assortment hit, I got distracted by the prospect of another Cyclops, and wound up not actually getting any of the others.  I’ve been slowly grabbing the rest over the years, and Mystique was on the top of my list.  I wound up snagging her from Collector’s Corner a few years ago, when they were doing a sale on a lot of their action figure back stock.  She’s not bad.  I mean, sure, she could be more posable, but otherwise she does look pretty decent, and it was the best option for a very long time.

#3269: Ahsoka Tano

AHSOKA TANO

STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS (HASBRO)

“Anakin’s padawan Ahsoka both amuses and exasperates her master with her plucky attitude and impertinent comments. She is tasked with keeping Jabba’s son safe as she and Anakin try to escape their attackers. She affectionately nicknames the child “stinky” because of his odor, the characteristic stench given off by the Hutt species.”

Before she was the glue that holds the non-film Star Wars canon together, Ahsoka Tano was the obnoxious tag-along kid sidekick added to The Clone Wars purely for kid appeal.  Also, she was the worst thing ever to happen to the franchise.  Worse than Jar Jar.  Worse than the Ewoks.  Worse than Bea Arthur.  But, it’s okay, because she’s had like 30 other things replace her as the “worst thing in the franchise.”  Also, her writing improved by leaps and bounds very quickly, and by the end of Clone Wars, she and the other all-new central character for the show, Captain Rex, had firmly become the heart of the series.  Today, I’m jumping back to her very first figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ahsoka Tano was figure 9 in the 2008 Clone Wars line-up.  She headed up the second assortment of the line, which hit a little bit after the movie and series had dropped, and added not only Ahsoka, but also the previously reviewed Commander Cody, Clone Pilot Oddball, and the Super Battle Droid, as well as mixing in the cleaned up variants of Rex and the standard Clone Trooper.  She was based on Ahsoka’s initial look on the show, since that was all they had to go by at this point.  The figure stands 3 1/4 inches tall and she has 18 points of articulation.  While Ahsoka looses out on the elbow joints that the other Jedi got early in the line (largely due to her arms simply not being large enough to sustain the joint construction), she gets a quite literal leg up on the other early Jedi by gettin full knee and ankle movement, which made her surprisingly posable for this point in the line.  Her sculpt was an all-new one, as expected.  It wound up getting re-used a few times for boxed sets and deluxe releases while this was still her main look on the show.  It’s a pretty solid offering, and does a respectable job of capturing her younger animation model.  As with all of the early line releases, she’s a little more rounded and “real world” in her proportions, but the general feel of the character is still very much there.  This marked the line’s first venture into mixed media, as she gets a cloth skirt in order to maximize posability on the hips.  Ahsoka’s paint work is pretty decently handled.  I especially like how the markings on the face look.  There was a variant to the paint as well on this figure.  Early versions were without the eyelashes, while the later releases added them.  Mine is the later one, and it’s for the better; the eyes are just framed much better.  Ahsoka is packed with her lightsaber, Jabba’s son Rotta, and a backpack for carrying Rotta around.  The Rotta figure is pretty fun; he’s got posable arms, and he sits really nicely in the pack.  It’s a very inventive accessory.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I will admit, I wasn’t sold on Ahsoka early in the show’s run, but she grew on me fairly quickly, and I liked her well enough to want a figure of her by the end of the first season’s run.  Of course, her figure was pretty scarce at the beginning, so it was probably until about the end of 2009 or so that I finally was able to get her.  Towards the end of my senior of high school, I used most of my spare cash for Clone Wars figures, and she was one of those figures.  She’s pretty solid for an early offering for the line, and I think she still holds up really well.

#3268: Soundwave – Shattered Glass

SOUNDWAVE

TRANSFORMERS GENERATIONS: SHATTERED GLASS COLLECTION (HASBRO)

I’ve discussed “Shattered Glass,” the Transformers equivalent of the Mirror Universe concept, once before here on the site.  That time, it was in regards to my favorite Autobot, Ultra Magnus, as his evil alternate self.  But, I can’t just look at an evil Autobot and leave the poor heroic Decepticons out in the cold, can I?  Well, as luck would have it, they just so happened to also do the alternate version of my favorite Decepticon, Soundwave, who in this reality trades his usual cold and calculating persona for a laid back resistance fighter.  Totally radical!  …Right?  Because, he’s like, cool and stuff?  Yeah.  Okay.  I’ll stop trying to be cool now.  Let’s just look at the figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Soundwave is figure #10 in the Shattered Glass Collection.  He wraps up the second batch of figures, and appears to wrap up the sub-line as a whole, at least as far as we know.  He actually stuck pretty close to his expected release, arriving in mid-November.  In his robot mode, the figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 25 practical points of articulation.  Soundwave’s mold is predominantly shared with the Walmart-exclusive War For Cybertron Soundwave.  It’s the most straight forward update to the G1 Soundwave mold we’ve gotten at this scale, and it’s thus far only had the one other use, so it makes a lot of sense here.  My only real issue with the mold remains the forearms, which still feel just a touch greebly for the rest of the sculpt.  Other than that, it’s really strong.  His head sculpt has been modified to include SG Soundwave’s signature headband, which gives him that more laid back feel.  It’s a minor change-up, but I dig it.  As with all of the SG figures, the color scheme marks the biggest departure for this release.  He’s predominantly white, and the sections of blue that remain are a much lighter (and metallic) shade.  He’s just much brighter than usual, which makes for a great contrast compared to the standard look.  The application is generally pretty clean, with the only (small) issue on mine being that his Decepticon emblem is *ever so slightly* off-center.  It’s not the worst I’ve seen, but it’s a little off.  Also, not a real issue on my figure, but some Soundwaves are arriving with a lot of yellowing on the white plastic.  Thus far, mine’s a little discolored in his right arm, but it’s very minor for me.  Soundwave gets the same accessory selection as the last one, with the two styles of blaster (in proper matching colors for the figure), as well as Ravage and Laserbeak.  Ravage and Laserbeak are both using their Siege molds (in contrast to Laserbeak getting the Earth-mode head for the WFC release), and they both get updated colors, with Ravage matching up with Soundwave, and Laserbeak getting an inverted palette.  Since he’s re-using the updated WFC version of the mold, his alt-mode is once again the mini cassette player.  The transformation scheme is pretty straight forward, and the end result is pretty great…when viewed from the front.  The back’s a different story, but honestly, that’s not the end of the world.

Like the Ultra Magnus, Soundwave is packed with an issue of IDW’s Transformers: Shattered Glass II, specifically issue 5.  It wraps up the story.  I missed the four issues between the two I got, but I honestly didn’t feel any more lost here than on the prior issue.  It’s a little better than the first issue, but it’s still just sort of there.  It does again showcase Soundwave pretty well, so that’s cool.  It’s also the final Transformers comic to be published by IDW, ending their 17 year run with the license.  So, you know, there’s that, I guess.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This figure is, once again, Max’s fault.  It’s a Transformer, and it’s a Pulse exclusive, so he’s got no escaping the blame.  I already had Magnus, and there was no way I could pass on Soundwave.  Max, knowing this, immediately contacted me as soon as this guy was shown off to verify that I indeed wanted one, so that he could throw one into his order.  Here he is again, being all helpful and stuff.  The nerve.  He’s not quite as impressive as the Ultra Magnus, but he’s still very fun, as are the two updated cassettes.  And thus ends the venture into Shattered Glass, I guess.

#3267: Steve Rogers & The Hydra Stomper

STEVE ROGERS & THE HYDRA STOMPER

MARVEL STUDIOS WHAT IF…? (HOT TOYS)

Who does Peggy Carter call in for backup when she needs it? Steve Rogers, of course. In this universe, Peggy Carter jumps into action with a number of familiar faces, but even she might need some help defeating the enemy. Calling in air support, she certainly doesn’t expect Steve to come swooping in – in a Hydra Stomper suit.”

Prepare for more formula breaking, as I interlude with yet another Hot Toys review outside of a monumental number!  I seem to be doing this far too frequently, don’t I?  It’s gonna make the monumental reviews not so special.  Ah, I don’t really care that much, honestly.  I just want to review the toys.  It’s kind of the whole purpose of the site, right?

In my last Hot Toys review, I was discussing my adherence to just Captain America stuff, and how that played into some alternate universe characters, specifically when What Ifis on the table.  While What If…? is a show I had generally mixed feelings about, I absolutely loved its first episode, “What If…Captain Carter Were The First Avenger?”  I’ve already got the HT Captain Carter, so there’s only one proper way to follow-up: The Hydra Stomper!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Steve Rogers and The Hydra Stomper is a deluxe set of figures from Hot Toys’ Television Masterpiece Series, where it’s numbered TMS060, placing it just after Peggy in the numbering.  This marks the third What If…? offering from Hot Toys.  Like Peggy, this set stuck pretty close to its original anticipated release date of the end of 2022/beginning of 2023, though it did stick to the earlier end of the window.  There are two releases of the Hydra Stomper available; just the Stomper on its own is available as part of the Power Pose Series, and then there’s this set, which adds in the full pilot Steve Rogers figure to the mix.  Clearly, there was no way I was just doing the Stomper when there’s also a Steve available, right?  Right.

Steve is technically the actual “figure” here as classified by HT and Sideshow (to the point of being the one with an actual classic HT-style box), so I’ll kick things off with a look at him first.  The figure stands just over 11 inches tall and has over 30 points of articulation.  Steve’s head sculpt, much like the Captain Carter figure, is an animation-inspired piece, rather than shifting him to a realistic style like a lot of Hot Toys offerings.  As with the Peggy sculpt, there’s still a degree of an Evans likeness present here (albeit, the shrunken down and skinny Evans likeness from early in The First Avenger), so you can tell who it’s supposed to be.  It’s a good match for the design as seen in the show, and it’s nice, clean, and slick.  The paint work emphasizes the animated look further, while still maintaining the usual high Hot Toys standards.

Steve’s outfit is generally pretty simple (which is true to the show), being a rather standard loose-fitting jumpsuit.  There’s an underlying shirt, albeit without any sleeves.  You won’t notice, of course, since the suit’s not designed to be removed.  Further tailored items include some harness straps and a removable back pack.  There’s also a sculpted buckle for his belt, as well as a pair of feet that look like boots.  Under the outfit, he’s got a rather small and scrawny base body, matching well with his pre-serum build.  It’s a rather nicely articulated base body, which makes for easy posing.

Steve gets a rather modest selection of extras, with three sets of hands (L and R relaxed, L and R pointing, L gripping, and R flat), and a display stand that matches with the one included with Peggy.

Moving past the Steve Rogers figure, let’s take a look at the thing that takes up the vast majority of the package space here: The Hydra Stomper!  The figure stands a little over 22 inches tall and has 8 points of articulation.  On its own, the suit is part of Hot Toys’ Power Pose Series, which is their way of releasing Iron Man armors at a cheaper price by cutting back on articulation in order to simplify the engineering.  As such, this figure only gets movement where it absolutely *needs* it, rather than just sort of all the places it naturally would.  All things said, the posability is still better than I’d expected.  In particular, the fully articulated fingers are really impressive.  The only area that’s truly restricted is the lower half, but on the plus side, it does keep him very stable on his feet.  His sculpt is, as expected, quite impressive.  It’s very clean and sharp, and a spitting image of the design as seen in the show.  The figure is designed to allow Steve to actually sit inside; it’s a bit tricky to get him in there, and he’s a little cramped, but it’s cool to have the option. There are light up features worked into the eyes and the torso, both of which are battery operated independently from each other.  The Hydra Stomper is packed with a flight stand, which affixes to the belt line of the figure.  It holds him rather securely horizontally, allowing for a more stable point for Peggy to hold onto the back like in the episode.  It’s a little tricky to get it all properly posed and secure, but it’s fun that the option is there.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I mentioned in the Captain Carter review, this episode was by far my favorite of What If…?, and I was honestly already kinda sold on these even before seeing the show.  The Hydra Stomper design is just one that really works for me, and as soon as I saw this figure, complete with the Steve Rogers, I was sold on getting this set and the Captain Carter.  Since I got Peggy from Jason at All Time as a Christmas gift, this sort of became my Christmas gift to myself, I suppose.  It’s huge, it’s impressive, and it’s just a whole lot of fun.  And I’ve even made shelf space for it already, so I don’t even have that whole thing looming over me!

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

#3266: Green Lantern

GREEN LANTERN

WORLD’S GREATEST SUPER HEROES (MEGO)

I’m just about done with this year’s batch of post-Christmas reviews, but I’m wrapping up with a look at something that’s not quite as much a holiday fixture for me as Super Powers, but is still pretty high up there: Mego.  2022 marked the 50th anniversary of Mego’s World’s Greatest Super Heroes toyline launching.  At its start, WGSH was exclusively dedicated to DC Comics, something that is true of the modern WGSH line, thanks to Mego picking back up the license for 8-inch figures in 2020.  In celebration of the 50th, Mego is returning the line to its roots, with packaging based on the original boxed look for the line.  While the line-up is mostly recreations of figures from the original line, it also features two additional figures, Green Lantern and Flash, the two most glaring omissions from the original run, in fancy throwback packaging and all.  I’ve got the GL, of course, and I’m taking a look at him today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Green Lantern is part of Wave 16 of the post-relaunch Mego line, under the World’s Greatest Super Heroes 50th Anniversary banner.  He’s one of the eight retro throwback figures in the set, and one of the two that’s not a re-issue of a vintage Mego counterpart.  This GL is the Hal Jordan version, specifically sporting his classic ’70s appearance, making him through and through the correct look for a proper vintage Mego release, which is pretty cool.  The figure stands just shy of 8 inches tall and he has 26 points of articulation.  Hal is built on the brand-new Type-S Mego base body, which takes the vintage Type 2 body aesthetic, and reworks it to remove the band construction, as well as improve the general articulation set-up for the body.  It removes the issues of long-term viability of the band construction, creates a generally more solid feeling base body, and also gives him better posability…for the most part.  The only thing I’m not super crazy about is the knees, which are a bit more restricted on this body than earlier Mego base bodies.  Hal gets a unique head sculpt and hands as well.  They’re quite impressive pieces; the head sculpt in particular is really a star piece.  He’s the spitting image of the quintessential ’70s Hal, which is exactly what I want on this sort of figure.  The paint work on GL is on the head and both hands.  The head’s pretty clean, apart from just a touch of missing paint near the nose of the mask.  The hands are fully painted, with white for the gloves and everything, which gives them a slightly glossier finish, helping them match closer to the costume.  GL’s costume is made up of a jumpsuit and a pair of standard boots.  The jumpsuit is made up of separate cloth pieces stitched together, rather than just being silkscreened, which gives it a little more pop.  GL is packed with his power battery, which, unlike the 14 inch figure, he can actually hold.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like Friday’s Mister Miracle, GL was a Christmas gift to me from my parents.  Ever since I was a kid, I’ve wanted a proper Mego GL.  I made my own custom back in the day, which tided me over, and then I had the Mattel one, and even the Figures Toy Company one.  Of course, none of those were official Mego.  There was also the 14 inch version, but he was, you know, really tall and all.  It’s been a road of small steps and improvements, but this one is really, really nice, and he’s a proper, official Mego GL.  Only took us 50 years, but, hey, here we are.  Feels like it was worth it.  Genuinely couldn’t be happier with him.

#3265: Mister Miracle

MISTER MIRACLE

SUPER POWERS (KENNER)

 

Mister Miracle is an incredible escape artist who can free himself from any trap or ambush. By calling upon a multitude of advanced scientific gadgets, and his remarkable dexterity and agility, Mister Miracle is able to make any impossible stunt look easy.”

It’s that post-Christmas review time of year, and the best way for me to really, truly feel that post-Christmas-y sort of vibe is, quite frankly, Kenner’s Super Powers.  From a rather early age, they’ve kind of been a key piece of the stuff I get for holidays, and that’s become especially cemented in the last few years.  In my last four Super Powers reviews, (the most recent of which was almost an entire year ago; for shame!) I’ve stuck with the line’s Fourth World component, which really influenced the last two years of the run.  I’m continuing that trend with today’s review, which looks at perhaps my favorite Fourth World character, Scott Free, aka Mister Miracle!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Mister Miracle was released in 1986, as part of the final year of Kenner’s Super Powers line.  As with a lot of characters in this line, this release was Scott’s first figure, and would remain his only figure until DC Direct put one out in the early ’00s.  Of course, he was still ahead of all of the other New Gods barring Darkseid there, so I suppose it’s not all that bad.  He and his assortment-mate Orion made up the entirety of the heroic New Gods portion of the line, which was otherwise much heavier on the Apokolipsian bad guys.  The figure stands 4 1/2 inches tall and he has 7 points of articulation.  Mister Miracle’s sculpt is a unique one based on his standard comics design, which was honestly a pretty notable thing for a New Gods character.  Only he and Darkseid got that treatment.  Admittedly, when you’ve got a design as spot-on and cool as Mister Miracle’s, what exactly is there to change?  It translates well to the style of the line, and he’s got a pretty solid set of proportions, as well as a nicely defined selection of costume details.  As with all the caped characters in the line, Scott’s cape is a soft-goods piece, though it does get a rather unique clasp piece, which is quite a bit of fun.  Mister Miracle’s paint work is pretty decent, although it’s rather prone to wear.  Mine’s in pretty decent shape, but that’s no small feat.  Scott is packed with a set of shackles, which are a trick set-up.  They’re on a joint at the middle, and squeezing his legs moves his arms outward, as if he’s escaping from the locks.  It’s a little iffy on this 35 year old figure, of course, but it’s otherwise a good gimmick.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Mister Miracle is the latest addition to my ever growing Super Powers collection, given to me as a Christmas gift by my ever supportive parents.  He’s actually been pretty high on my list of the remaining figures I needed, barred only by the difficulty of finding him in complete condition.  Getting one in this shape is honestly astounding, and he’s just so much fun.  Truly one of the line’s star pieces.  And with that, I only need 5 more.  Crazy.

#3264: Blackout & Scorponok

BLACKOUT & SCORPONOK

TRANSFORMERS: MASTERPIECE MOVIE SERIES (TAKARA TOMY)

I really don’t talk about the Michael Bay Transformers movies much around here.  It’s for the pretty good reason that I just didn’t much care for any of the Michael Bay Transformers movies, so, you know, I just don’t have much call to own stuff from them, or by extension review much from them either.  Thus far, I’ve looked at a Soundwave and a Jazz, characters that, notably, I care about outside of the Bay films, so that colors the opinions ever so slightly.  On a different, but still related note, I’ve not yet reviewed anything from Takara’s long-running Masterpiece line of Transformers, which are rather high-end, generally more screen accurate figures, which also seek out proper licensing for all of their alt-modes (where needed, of course).  It’s been a running theme since 2003, at first sticking to G1 characters, but moving onto other themes, with the live action films getting their own sub-line starting in 2010.  The most recent release from the live action sub-line is actually a twofer, since it’s Blackout and Scorponok, based on their appearance in the first film, and I’m taking a look at the two of them today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Blackout and Scorponok are the lone 2022 release for Transformers: Masterpiece Movie Series, where it is item MPM-13.  Though billed as “Blackout and Scorponok” on the package, Blackout is clearly supposed to be the star piece, with Scorponok as an accessory.  In his robot mode, Blackout stands about 11 1/2 inches tall and he has 32 points of workable articulation.  In terms of scaling, Blackout is certainly quite a sizable figure, which is appropriate, since he was also one of the larger ‘bots in the films.  The articulation scheme is a pretty good one for a Transformer, especially one as bulky as this one.  Of particular note are the hands, which even have separately articulated fingers.  Blackout’s sculpt is a unique one (thus far, at least; if they follow the Studio Series layout, he might get a re-use for Grindor later down the line), obviously based on his film appearance.  In the movies, most of the TFs are kind of a jumbly mess of random angles when in their robot modes, and Blackout is no exception.  On the plus side, the toys, by necessity, do clean things up a little bit.  This figure does a pretty good job of doing just that, while still sticking pretty closely to the design as seen on-screen…I mean, when it can be seen, which is, admittedly, pretty tricky to do.  They sure did love to hide those designs.  Whatever the case, this one is pretty cohesive in his look, and he’s properly big and imposing, and there’s a ton of smaller sculpted details, which are pretty impressive. Blackout is packed with two mountable miniguns, two blast effects for the miniguns, and a rotorblade weapon.  The rotorblade should *technically* be mounted to the back of his hand, as opposed to being held in his hand is it is here, but otherwise it’s a pretty cool piece.  Also included is the previously mentioned Scorponok figure.  He doesn’t transform (excusable, since he doesn’t actually have an on-screen alt-mode in the first movie), but he’s at least fully articulated, which is honestly pretty cool.

As in the film, Blackout’s alt-mode is a MH-53 Pave Low helicopter, which is an officially licensed take on the vehicle.  The transformation sequence to get from robot to copter is…well, it’s certainly a complicated and lengthy one.  It’s unfortunately a side effect of how the animation models were done for the Bay films, since there wasn’t really much actual science or engineering to how they worked; just lots of small greebly bits all moving in a mess of motion.  So, this figure’s dealing with that, but it does alright by it.  Still, it would up taking me about an hour and a half to work my way through the whole thing; getting his waist properly folded into the body of the copter was, in particular, quite tricky on my copy.  All in all, it’s a bit nerve-racking, but the end result is at least pretty convincing.  He’s even got a working hatch on the rear fuselage, where you can store Scorponok.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I touched on in the intro, I don’t really do much with the Bay films.  I saw the first one in the theatre.  It wasn’t really for me, and I’ve not really owned any of the associated product.  So, why do I own a Masterpiece quality figure based on a not Soundwave or Jazz character?  Well, my son Matthew was determined to get me something cool for our first Christmas together, and he was apparently adamant that he needed to get this for me.  (He also apparently found it on some sort of crazy clearance, which is good, because I really don’t expect him to be spending this thing’s full retail on a present for me)  On Christmas morning, after jumping up and down with excitement over the things waiting for him under the tree, he very excitedly handed me this guy, and told me I had to open my gift first.  I was certainly surprised, I’ll say that much.  I may not really care about the first Transformers, or really Blackout as a character, but I’ll admit, he does certainly make for a quite impressive transforming robot toy.  And, you know, the whole presentation did kind of help to further my general enjoyment as well.  So there’s also that.

#3263: Rumble – Blue

FRENZY RUMBLE — BLUE

TRANSFORMERS: STUDIO SERIES (HASBRO)

Are you guys ready for some controversy?  It’s okay, it’s nothing super important or anything.  Just a long stretching conflict going back three decades is all.  And what exactly is that conflict?  It’s simple: what is the name of Soundwave’s blue cassette buddy?  According to the vintage toy, the Marvel comics, and the Japanese version of the original cartoon, it’s Frenzy.  However, according to the US version of the cartoon, it’s Rumble, though, even then, it’s the finished product, since the series bible clearly dictates that the blue one is Frenzy.  But, since the cartoon has mass exposure, there’s still a contingent that thinks of Rumble as the blue one.  They’re wrong, of course.  The blue guy is Frenzy.  The My Little Pony crossover said so.  Definitely.  But these wrong people sometimes get thrown a bone by official channels.  And that’s why we have a Studio Series release of Rumble (Blue).  Let’s have a look, shall we?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Frenzy Rumble (Blue) is part of the fourth Core Class assortment of Transformers: Studio Series, alongside Dark of the Moon Laserbeak and a repack of Wheelie.  Frenzy Rumble (Blue) is part of the ’86 Movie sub-set of the line, and is thus explicitly an animation-based figure.  Hence the naming.  In robot mode, Frenzy Rumble (Blue) stands a little over 2 inches tall (just a smidge taller than the Siege mold) and has 13 workable points of articulation.  Frenzy Rumble (Blue) is making use of an all-new mold, which goes for a less chunky set of proportions than the Siege mold did, as well as greater detailing and a better range of motion on the joints.  I was cool with the Siege mold at the time, and I still don’t mind it, but there’s no denying that this guy is just an improvement on the prior mold across the board.  His color scheme is, as noted by the name, blue.  Well, blue-ish at the very least.  He’s patterned on the animation colors, so he errs a bit more on the side of purple than a proper blue.  It’s a good look, and the paint application is again a little more involved than the Siege version.  Frenzy Rumble (Blue)’s alt-mode is a proper mini-cassette; though he’s larger in robot mode, he transforms into a box that’s still compatible with the Siege/Earthrise Soundwave molds.  Yay for backwards compatibility!  Frenzy Rumble (Blue) is packed with the original G1 toy’s laser drill attachments, as well as the stomper arms frequently seen in animation.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Through an odd sequence of coincidences, I wound up with a bunch of Soundwaves that only had Frenzys to go with them, and never Rumble.  After getting to three of them, I decided I was just sticking with only getting Frenzy.  You know, the blue one.  Of course, I’ve had to go against the printed name a few times before.  The most important thing is the color.  He’s gotta be blue.  You know, because that’s the one that Frenzy is.  I got this guy as a stocking stuffer on Christmas morning, which was pretty cool.  He’s a rather fun offering, and an improvement on the Siege release…even if he’s got the wrong name.

#3262: Parks & Recreation ReAction Figures

LESLIE KNOPE, BEN WYATT, DONNA MEAGLE, APRIL LUDGATE, & BURT MACKLIN

PARKS & RECREATION REACTION FIGURES (SUPER 7)

“Ba ba badadada ba badadada ba badadada ba badabada….”

Parks & Recreation Theme Song (Paraphrased)

The Office gets, like, a lot of attention.  So much attention.  Absurd amounts of attention.  And, the thing is, honestly?  It’s kind of overplayed.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some very funny bits on The Office.  But, for the most part, they can just be boiled down to quippy clips that make just as much sense, if not more, when chopped up and thrown into compilations as when shown in actual context.  For my money, the superior workplace comedy by a wide berth is Parks & Recreation, a show that’s also just one of my favorite shows in general.  As a show with a lot of pretty normal looking people, there’s not a *ton* in the way of merchandising for Parks & Rec, but there’s more than you might think.  Funko of course grabbed the license for Pops a while back, and last year Super 7 also got the license for the purposes of doing a set of ReAction Figures, most of which I’m taking a look at today!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Leslie Knope, Ben Wyatt, Donna Meagle, April Ludgate, and Burt Macklin are five of the six figures (the other being Ron Swanson) that make up the first series of Super 7’s Parks & Recreation ReAction Figures line, which started hitting retail in the fall of last year.

You can’t very well have a line of Parks & Rec figures and not include the main character, so Leslie was always along for the ride.  Leslie gets quite a number of looks over the course of the show, but this figure settles on one of her office attire blazer and skirt looks, which feels pretty appropriate for the character.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and she has 5 points of articulation.  The movement on her neck is a little restricted by the hair, but otherwise it’s a decent basic set-up for movement.  Leslie’s sculpt is obviously stylized to be a bit more basic.  It’s gets the important details, while dialing back a bit on some of the specifics.  The head’s got a passable likeness of Amy Pohler; it’s not spot-on, but at this scale and in this style, it’s hardly expected to be.  I’d say she’s probably the best of the likenesses present in the initial line-up.  The paint work is, like the sculpt, pretty basic.  It does what it needs to, and it looks the part.  Leslie is packed with a plate with a waffle on it, undoubtedly one made by JJ’s Diner.  There’s honestly nothing more on-brand for Leslie, so it’s definitely nifty.  She can’t really hold it, though, which is a shame.  Still cool.

Though absent until the end of the show’s second season, Ben’s still very much a signature character for the show.  Gonna be honest, there are few fictional characters I identify with more than Ben Wyatt.  His absence from the first two rounds of Pops kind of soured me on those, so I’m very excited that he’s here.  Ben’s sporting his more dressed-down, getting things solved look, which definitely works well.  The figure’s sculpt is one that works better in context than on its own.  The head’s an okay Adam Scott, but it could honestly just as easily be Jason Bateman or Jason Sudekis.  I don’t hate the smile, but it’s also not quite a quintessential Ben expression.  The body doesn’t seem quite skinny enough for Scott’s build; he’s too doughy in the middle, I think.  It’s definitely a little bit of a stylistic thing, though.  The paint work on Ben is pretty basic, and fairly drab, but that’s all about right.  Ben’s packed with a small recreation of the Cones of Dunshire, Ben’s absurdly complicated strategy game he invented.  As with Leslie’s waffle, this is a very on-brand piece, so it’s a lot of fun.  He does have a little bit more luck actually holding it, so that’s a plus.

Donna may have been in the show from the beginning, but she’s a character who very much grew as the show progressed, going from a glorified extra in the first season to a prominent series regular by the end.  Donna also has a lot of looks over the course of the show, but this one goes for her more casual attire.  Donna’s sculpt is a little more immediately obvious as to who it’s supposed to be, but it’s still not quite as on the mark as Leslie.  The likeness to Rhetta’s not overly there, but at the same time, it’s not like the figure looks *unlike* her.  As with Ben, the context of the rest of the figures fills it in pretty quickly.  Her sculpt is pretty basic, as expected, but her proportions seem a little more on the mark than Ben’s were.  Her paint work adds a little more color to the set, with a nice splash of bright pink, which works well for the set.  Donna is packed with a box of baked goods, marked “Treat Yo Self”, which is another very appropriate extra, since the Treat Yo Self antics really helped to cement her character.  We’re back to the figure not being able to hold the accessory, unfortunately, but it’s still nifty to have it.

April’s one of the few characters that comes out of the gate more or less fully formed on the show, albeit in a way that still very much allows her to grow as the series progresses.  For her figure, she’s another casual attire look, which is again pretty on-the-mark for her character.  April’s sculpt winds up being the weakest of the bunch, I find.  Something about the head just misses the mark.  The hair seems to sit too far back, making her forehead seem far too large, and the proportions on the body seem a bit off.  None of it’s terrible, but it’s not super great either.  Her paint work is at least pretty bright, so she’s got that going for her.  April is packed with a small minifigure of her and Andy’s three-legged dog Champion, which isn’t quite as spot-on for the character as some of the others, but is still a pretty solid inclusion.

Burt Macklin, FBI!  Yes, while everyone else in the assortment is just their normal selves, our first version of Chris Pratt’s Andy Dwyer is him using his Burt Macklin persona, which he’d whip out whenever things got “serious.”  It makes him the most targeted of these figures in terms of appearance, and also marks him as someone they’re probably looking to do multiple variants on, should the line progress.  “Burt” is a pretty decent sculpt as well.  The likeness is a little harder to place, since he’s got the glasses sculpted in place, but it seems to land the look pretty alright, and the body gets Pratt’s slightly huskier build down well.  “Burt” has a slightly sloppier paint scheme than the others in the set, especially on the hair and beard.  Given the scale and style, though, it’s not that bad, and the rest of the figure’s all pretty clean.  There are no accessories for this guy, which is a bit of a bummer, but I suppose they’re holding out on the more fun stuff for another Andy variant.  Still feels a bit light.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

With Parks & Rec being very high on my list of favorite TV shows, it’s hard for me to justify passing up the chance to own the cast in action figure form.  Of course, given the price point on these things, I was initially thinking I might just grab Ben.  I wound up being swayed into getting the five of these when my wife Rachel and I found them at Target, and she insisted on buying them for me as an early Christmas gift.  They’re definitely expensive for what they are, and they’re not perfect, but I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t be down to pick up whatever else they want to do from the line.

#3261: Captain Carter

CAPTAIN CARTER

MARVEL STUDIOS WHAT IF…? (HOT TOYS)

Greetings and welcome to a brand-new year, faithful readers!  Today’s important thing is the official kick off the post-Christmas reviews.  Very fancy stuff.  Notably, I’m also breaking formula, and totally writing a review of a Hot Toy, but not on a big review number.  Look, I’ve got a new Hot Toy, and I don’t really feel like waiting over 200 reviews to get to it, okay?  When last I was discussing Hot Toys, I had two different Captain America reviews, and indicated that was kind of the path I’d be sticking to for Hot Toys going forward.  Today’s focus sticks with that, more or less, albeit in a sort of an alternate universe capacity.  Yes, straight from 2021’s What If…?, I’m taking a look at a very fancy version of Captain Carter, Margaret “Peggy” Carter’s super soldier alter-ego!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Captain Carter is the second figure in the What If…? component of Hot Toys’ Television Masterpiece Series, which is their “small screen” equivalent to their longer running Movie Masterpiece Series.  She’s figure TMS059, placing her right between Zombie Hunter Spidey and the Hydra Stomper.  It’s a nice little stretch of What If…? figures there.  Peggy stuck pretty much spot-on to her original release date of fourth quarter 2022, hitting back in early November.  Captain Carter is based on her WW2-era outfit from her debut episode, which is definitely the more distinctive of her two looks (it also pairs well with the upcoming Hydra Stomper).  The figure stands about 11 3/4 inches tall and she has over 30 points of articulation.

Captain Carter’s head sculpt marks a change for the usual Hot Toys stylings.  They most often got for hyper realism, even when adapting non-realistic designs (as highlighted by the Clone Wars characters in their larger Star Wars line), but the What If…? figures are instead sticking closer to their actual animation models.  This appears to possibly be a licensing thing, since the Legends figures were the same way.  Whatever the case, the spot where this is most evident is the head sculpt.  The sculpt is much smoother and streamlined than your typical Hot Toys head, but it’s nevertheless a really strong likeness of the character as she appears in the show.  It’s still got a respectable likeness of Hayley Atwell, making her fairly easily recognizable.  She includes two different pieces for the back of her hair, allowing for either a relaxed hang, or something a bit more dynamic.  They’re both attached via magnets, so they swap out and hold in place pretty nicely.  They also both work really well for their respective looks, and add a nice bit of variety to what you can do with the figure. As with the sculpting, Captain Carter’s paint work is a bit different from the usual, with something a little cleaner and bolder.  The application’s still really strong, and she’s got enough realism to her that she doesn’t stand out too much from other figures Hot Toys has done.

The bulk of Captain Carter’s costume is a single piece jumpsuit, in contrast to the usual two-piece set-up we’ve seen on the Captain Americas.  That said, she’s still got that layered look like the Caps have, so as to properly recreate all the cool little details of the costume.  On mine, the mid-torso stripes do seem *just* a tad off-center, just careful posing makes them look just fine.  The suit is topped off with a shoulder harness, a belt, and boots, which are all plastic add-on parts.  Like the more recent Captain Americas, the boots use a two-piece construction, so that the ankles can still properly move.  The belt and harness just being plastic is a slight step-down from the cloth construction on the other Caps, but it also tracks a bit better with her more animated appearance.

Peggy’s underlying base body is a rather basic one, which seems to go more for function over form.  It’s a fairly standard female base body, albeit one that’s a little taller than the usual.  It’s generally a pretty good match for Peggy as seen in the episode, although, if I’m honest, I do feel like she’s still perhaps a bit too short for her appearance in the show.  Likewise, her shoulders seem a little narrower.  Beyond that, though, it does work okay.  The posability is pretty decent, especially in the arms.  The hips are a bit restricted, but that’s more about the costume design than the actual body.

Captain Carter gets a pretty decent selection of extras, covering all of the basics for what she’s got in her episode.  Included are:

  • 7 hands
  • Shield
  • Hanger for shield
  • Sword
  • Handgun
  • Display stand

The hands included are two fists, two gripping, two relaxed, and a right hand with trigger finger.  The shield is smaller than Steve’s (which is either accurate or not, since it’s scale fluctuated depending on the shot), but it’s still similar to his in construction and detailing.  The straps can unhook just like Steve’s, and there’s a hook for hanging it on her back.  The sword is based on the one she grabs during the first episode’s climactic battle, and it’s nice and sharply detailed.  The handgun is a little simpler than other HT weapons, which I’ll admit I was just a tad bummed by, but it’s not going to get much use by me anyway.  Her display stand goes with the hexagonal shape, with a printed design based on the What If…? branding, as well as her name on the front.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Captain Carter episode of What If…? is far and away my favorite of the show’s first season.  I’ve been very excited for all of the tie-in stuff for it.  While I’m keeping it lighter on the HT side still, I’ve got that soft spot for the Captain America-related stuff, and I’ve honestly been wanting an HT Peggy of some form since The First Avenger.  Now, you’ll notice that I said this figure was kicking off the post-Christmas stuff.  I got this one courtesy of All Time’s owner Jason, who gave her to me as a very generous Christmas gift.  She’s pretty awesome, and I’ve very excited to pair her off with the Hydra Stomper figure!