#2033: Battle Masters Wave 2

AIMLESS & PTERRAXADON

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE (HASBRO)

Remember back on Thursday when I was talking about gimmicks in the Transformers line?  Well, let’s explore that some more, shall we?  Cross-compatibility being the big thing for Siege, there’s a lot of work being put into accenting the main figures.  I already looked at one of the Weaponizers, but today I’m moving onto another form of alternate armaments for the big guys, Battle Masters!  In order to keep prices down during the Titans Return line, the Targetmaster characters lost their, uh, Target Masters.  When it came time for Siege, Hasbro was looking for a good way to sell the effects pieces they were showing off on con displays.  Put those together with the scrapped Target Masters and boom: Battle Masters!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Aimless and Pteraxadon make up Battle Masters Wave 2 in the Siege line, alongside a repack of the first assortment’s Lionizer.

AIMLESS

Originally the Target Master packed with Misfire, Aimless is a Decepticon Battle Master.  He starts as a fairly straightforward robot, standing 2 inches tall and having 4 practical points of articulation.  Aimless’s sculpt uses Wave 1’s Blowpipe as a starting point, though the only pieces actually shared between the two are the torso and pelvis.  The arms and legs are new, more technically detailed pieces, though you would be forgiven for not noticing at first glance, since they give the same basic silhouette.  He also flops the colorscheme, being blue with grey limbs, instead of grey with blue limbs.  Aimless transforms into a gun, which is a fairly simple process, since there really aren’t that many moving parts.  There’s a 5mm peg at the front of his torso which acts as a handle, and makes him compatible with all of the basic Transformers, Decepticon and Autobot alike.  Aimless has two included effects pieces, which look like energy trails of some sort.  They can be plugged onto the two barrels of his gun, or plugged onto the corresponding pegs on other Siege figures.

PTERAXADON

Pteraxadon is actually an all new character in the mythos, which I suppose is reasonable.  They can’t all be re-releases, right?  He’s apparently an Autobot, but with all of the Battle Masters, I really have to question exactly how the affiliations work.  I might be overthinking it, though.  Unlike Aimless, Pteraxadon doesn’t have a humanoid robot mode, and is instead a robotic pterodactyl.  I know, who could have foreseen that? This one’s a unique sculpt, but the more inhuman design doesn’t lend itself quite as well to this more simplistic style.  This puts extra weight on the alt-mode, which, as you may have gathered from the name, is an ax.  It’s actually a pretty decent piece, though the coloring doesn’t really match up with anyone right now.  Also included is an impact effect piece, which plugs into either side of the blade.  It’s not quite as all-purpose as the rest of the effects, but I still kinda dig it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I had no major intentions of grabbing either of these guys, but when they came in with the rest of the Wave 2 stuff, I felt compelled to get them as well.  They’re goofy and gimmicky, but in a good way, and I find them to be a lot of fun, especially in conjunction with the main figures.  They were even cool enough to compel me to go back and grab some of Wave 1, and I’m definitely on-board for Wave 3!

Both of these came from All Time Toys.  Right now they’re both sold out, but the others are still in stock.  If you’re looking for Transformers, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

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#2032: Starscream

STARSCREAM

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE (HASBRO)

Ever the usurper, Starscream is quite a culturally relevant entry in the Transformers franchise.  Not only is he himself well-known, even to more moderate fans, but the role he fulfills has become a fixture of virtually every incarnation, even when he himself isn’t included.  And, after just getting a classically inspired release during last year’s Power of the Primes, Starscream’s back again for Siege.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Starscream is the other half of the second wave of Voyager Class War For Cybertron: Siege figures.  He joins Soundwave in making this particular assortment a completely Decepticon one, which seems reasonable enough, given the Deluxe assortment was all Autobots.  In his robot mode, Starscream stands  6 1/4 inches tall and he has 28 workable points of articulation.  This figure sports perhaps the best posability I’ve seen yet on one of these guys, allowing for a lot of real expressiveness with him.  Honestly, that’s probably the greatest thing you can offer in a Starscream figure, given just how over-the-top the character is usually portrayed as being.  Moving past that, Starscream is sporting a new sculpt, which is already slated for re-use as Thundercracker in Voyager Wave 3, as well as a Skywarp figure somewhere along the way.  If you’re going to re-use a sculpt, you’d hope it would at least be a good one, and fortunately, that’s very definitely the case.  This new Starscream has a sharp, angular, and very modern-looking take on his classic design.  Like Soundwave, he maintains all of the most important elements of his classic appearance, but injects some more modern day levels of detailing into it.  Also like Soundwave, he keeps some left-over elements of his old alt-mode, specifically the old cockpit on his torso, which doesn’t actually have anywhere to go on his new figure.  To be fair, though, he’d hardly look like a proper Starscream without it.  Unlike a lot of Transformers, Starscream and his fellow Seekers actually have established Cybertronian alt-modes in the old cartoon, which means that this figure doesn’t have to do quite as much as some of the others in the line to come up with one.  He turns into a Tetrajet, as he did in the Cybertron sections of the cartoon, though this particular design appears to be heavily influenced by the Colonial Vipers from Battlestar Galactica.  It’s a cool ship design, so I definitely can’t complain.  Heck, I’m not even going to to complain about the fact that his legs are just hanging off the bottom when he’s transformed, because, quite frankly, that’s not uncommon for Starscream figures, and it’s not overly visible when the ship is just sitting there.  What I *can* complain about, though, is the process by which you arrive at the alt-mode.  Quite frankly, it’s the most frustrating transformation process I’ve dealt with since I started collecting.  Essentially, the actual Tetrajet appearance is just a shell that drops over the figure proper, who has to be folded up just right in order to fit in that shell.  The trouble is, that getting him folded up to fit within the shell is really not easy, and my figure seemed to be fighting me every step of the way, and I’m still not actually sure I got him transformed completely correctly.  Additionally, while going through the transformation process, there’s a running flaw in the figure’s design that reveals itself.  The front of his torso is designed to swing upward during transformation, but it is only held in place by tension pegs.  This means that the first time you go to transform him, the plate’s going to pop out of place, and it’s pretty much never going to stay properly seated again after that point.  There really should have been metal pins holding that piece in place.  Starscream includes two “HPI Null-Ray Laser Launchers,” which are the arm mounted guns he’s sporting.  While they’re officially supposed to plug into the upper arms, the 5mm pegs allow you to also plug them into the forearms, which I think looks a lot better.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I knew I wanted Soundwave from the get-go, but wasn’t immediately sold on Starscream.  It’s not that I don’t like the character (quite the contrary), but I just wasn’t sure how far into this line I wanted to go.  By the time he actually started showing up, any pretense of skipping this line had been dropped, and there was no way I was missing a Starscream.  In hand, the figure perplexes me.  The robot mode is absolutely fantastic, and one of the best in the line.  The posablility and general appearance of the character just really work.  However, the transformation is frustrating, and the end result was ultimately unsatisfying.  And then, even if you just leave him in robot mode, there’s that chest plate issue, which will continue to plague him in both forms.  There have been rumors of a running change to add a pin, but so far there’s no evidence that they’re anything but rumors.  Of course, none of that’s going to help those of us that already have him.

Starscream was picked up from my friends at All Time Toys, and can be purchased here.  If you’re looking for Transformers, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2031: Soundwave

SOUNDWAVE

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE (HASBRO)

Now, I don’t want you guys to be getting the impression that just because I’m done reviewing the Wave 2 Deluxe class figures means that I’m done with this here week of Transformers.  No no, I’ve still got plenty of transformers up my sleeves.  Or maybe they *are* my sleeves…hard to tell with Transformers.  Has there ever been a sleeve Transformer?  Probably not, but with Bot Bots, anything’s possible these days…  Sorry, I’m getting distracted.  And this is the worst Transformers review to get distracted from, because it’s a pretty big one.  I mean, it’s another Soundwave.  How often do I review one of those?  What’s that?  Two this year already?  Well, if that’s the case, one more certainly couldn’t hurt.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Soundwave is one of the two figures in the second Voyager Class wave of the War For Cybertron: Siege line.  Soundwave is only the second Decepticon I’ve looked at from this line, after the confusingly similarly named Shockwave, who will join this figure in forever baffling all of my Transformers novice family and friends over which one is which.  In robot mode, the figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 25 practical points of articulation.  Like pretty much everyone else in this line, Soundwave’s design calls back to his original G1 look, but updated a bit to more modern toy standards.  Soundwave had the coolest look of all the G1 Transformers (I may be slightly biased), and I think that comes across pretty darn well here.  He maintains all of the basic design cues of his classic counterpart (including adopting some of the old figure’s alt-mode elements that no longer contribute to the alt-mode), while adding quite a few smaller details to keep things sharp and interesting.  It also way ups the posablility, which is always a plus in my book.  I’m also really digging the left hand’s extended index finger, allowing for interaction with the latch for his “tape deck”.  It’s not all perfect, mind you.  There are a few things that do bug me.  Primarily, it’s the forearms.  They’re hollow on the insides, which bugs me far more than the hollow backing on Ironhide.  It’s not helped by the fact that he’s got some weird kibble going on on the backs of the forearms as well, which means two sides of the arms are compromised.  It’s not enough to ruin the figure, but it’s definitely annoying.  I’m also not the biggest fan of the back kibble, but that’s at least a more aesthetically pleasing solution.  Soundwave’s typical alt-mode, a cassette player, is outmoded by today’s world.  There’s been a number of attempts at giving him a replacement alt-mode, and this one is yet another.  He turns into a sort of a…drop ship thing?  I’m not big on it.  I mean, the concept’s okay, and, admittedly, I do like how it looks more in person than I’d expected to.  But something about the design just feels…I don’t know…half-formed?  More than a lot of the vehicles in this line, he looks like a brick with stuck on it, but unlike with Ironhide, I don’t really dig it.  It’s also not nearly as easy a transformation as some of the others, meaning the whole thing isn’t really ideal, and I really don’t see myself switching him back and forth at all.  If you don’t like the drop ship, Hasbro’s got a semi-official secondary alt-mode, which turns Soundwave into the lamppost he disguises himself as in the first episode of the ’84 cartoon.  Again, I don’t really feel the transformation myself, but I appreciate what Hasbro’s trying.  What’s that?  Neither of those alt-modes does it for you?  Have no fear, because the fan community is on it, resulting in a fairly widely-accepted third alt-mode, which has a sort of a speaker/boombox appearance.  It’s actually not too difficult to configure, and is by far my favorite potential alt-mode.  The only shame is that the cassette player buttons on his pelvis aren’t visible in this mode, but it’s a minor flaw.  Soundwave is packed with a HI-KEP Concussion Blaster, LR-HD Sonic Cannon, and EMTX Blitz Charge Blaster, all of which can also combine (rather awkwardly) into the “USW HF Sonic Compression Mega-Blaster,” which is really more of a staff sort of thing.  I do like how the charge blaster unfolds into a staff, which will certainly prove useful with other figures in the line.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Okay, you ready for this?  This figure?  Max’s fault.  So Max’s fault.  Because I wasn’t doing Transformers, you see?  But then Max was all “check out this cool Soundwave figure.”  And that turned into “you should get a few other figures to try out this line.”  And now I’ve got a whole darn collection.  Great.  On the plus side, slight issues aside, this Soundwave is a very, very good figure.  I’m super happy to have gotten him, and he’s my favorite in the line, mostly by virtue of being Soundwave.  I dig it.  I dig it a lot.

Soundwave, like all of my other Siege figures, came from All Time Toys, and can be purchased here.  If you’re looking for Transformers, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2030: Autobot Sixgun

AUTOBOT SIXGUN

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE (HASBRO)

While the Transformers brand as a whole is, admittedly, based on a gimmick from the start, Hasbro likes to introduce additional gimmicks as the line continues.  Each entry in the Prime Wars Trilogy had a gimmick, be it Combiners, Titan Masters, or Prime Cores.  This new War For Cybertron trilogy is starting up with a slightly more relaxed gimmick of accross the board compatibility of parts.  While a lot of this is tied in with effects parts and more accessories, there is also a subset of figures, dubbed “Weaponizers,” designed with interchangeability and cross compatibility in mind.  I’m looking at my first of those, Sixgun, today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Autobot Sixgun is the last figure in the second deluxe wave of the War for Cybertron: Siege line.  He’s the second Weaponizer in the line, following Autobot Cog from the first assortment.  Like Cog, Sixgun also began his life as an accessory to a large-scale Transformer, in this case Metroplex.  In his robot mode, the figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall and has 20 points of articulation.  Sixgun’s original figure was rather rudimentary in his bot-mode, so this one starts with that and builds it into something a little more worthy of a proper figure release.  For instance, now he has actual hands! Sixgun’s design is notably more robotic than his assortment-mates, and generally feels a little more inhuman than we tend to see with an Autobot, but it’s a cool design nonetheless.  He’s also got a sturdy build, and lacks any real hollowness like we saw on some of the others in this set. Sixgun’s alt-mode is listed as a tank, but looks a bit more like an aircraft of some sort.  It’s a rather different design than the other alt-modes I’ve looked at, partly because you arrive at it in a rather different fashion.  Instead of a solid transition from one form to the other, Sixgun’s transformation is reliant on actually breaking him down into a number of smaller parts, and then re-assembling them in his vehicle mode.   It’s more akin to building a Lego set than to actually transforming.  It does mean that there’s a lot less guessing and skill to transforming him than the average Transformer, but on the flip side, it means he’s not one that you’ll want to swap back and forth so much, since every transformation is another chance to potentially lose pieces.  As a weaponizer, Sixgun’s sculpt is also pulling triple duty, since he’s not just a robot that transforms into a vehicle, he’s also meant to accent and augment the other figures in the line.  Via the same disassembly process that comes into play for his main transformation, Sixgun can be reconfigured into assorted armor set-ups for his fellow Autobots.  By far, my favorite set-up is the one that results in a giant fighting fist, but hey, I’m easy to please like that.  And, while the colors aren’t exact matches for each other I personally found Sixgun to pair best with his assortment-mate Ironhide.  He actually transitions well to an assortment of accessories for something that works as well as he does as a figure.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

While I didn’t quite get pulled in by Cog, something about Sixgun just really spoke to me, especially when I found out about that giant hand configuration (from Max, so this one’s his fault again). He’s definitely a different style of figure than the rest of the assortment, but he’s still very fun.  Now I just have to decide if I want to keep him as a robot or as an accessory.

I picked up Sixgun from All Time Toys, where he is still currently in stock, here.  If you’re looking for Transformers, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2029: Prowl

PROWL

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE (HASBRO)

When I say “horrific,” you say “death!”  Ah, yes, what better way to start out a Prowl review than by putting all of the potential Prowl fans reading up in arms immediately?  You know, by reminding them of the horrifying, fire out of the eye-sockets, death that befalls him in Transformers: The Movie‘s opening minutes?  Man, didn’t that suck?  It’s okay, I think people may have gotten over it.  They’ve had 33 years.  Well, I mean, I haven’t.  I’ve had a few months, because that’s when I finally saw the movie.  Of course, since the movie is also my only real exposure to Prowl in media, I guess it’s a bit of a wash.  Whatever the case, I’m reviewing a Prowl figure today.  So there.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Prowl is the third figure in the second deluxe wave of War for Cybertron: Siege figures, joining fellow ’84-er Ironhide.  Prowl is another classically inspired design, though he does sport the most signs of Cybertronian design work peeking through.  In robot mode, Prowl stands 5 1/4 inches tall and he has 22 practical points of articulation.  When I initially saw photos of Prowl’s robot mode, I thought it looked a little bit lacking.  Something about it seemed a little slapdash and unfinished, especially those lower legs.  Certainly he seemed like he’d be a step down from his comrades.  Well, hang on there guys, because I was actually quite wrong.  Prowl’s sculpt is definitely one of those that needs to be seen in motion to truly appreciate.  It’s actually  pretty clean, sleek design, that holds together nicely.  Sure, the legs do seem a little hollow, and if you catch the torso at the wrong angle, it’s not going to look so great, but when this guy is posed well, he looks really, really nice. And speaking of posing?  Yeah, for my money, Prowl is rivaled only by the Voyager Optimus in terms of range of motion.  There’s a lot of poses to be had with Prowl, and they only help to further improve the look of his sculpt.  Prowl’s traditional alt-mode is a police car, and this figure experiments with that.  Like Sideswipe, Prow has to somewhat tweak things and get a more sci-fi influenced version of his classic alt-mode, something that maintains the spirit of his original design, but doesn’t feel out of place with the new setting.  I actually really dig the alt-mode here, and I think it’s really one of the ones to best capture the Cybertronian feel. I particularly dig those translucent wheels! Also, this marks the easiest transformation I’ve dealt with on these guys.  I didn’t need to consult the instructions at all, and it feels nice and smooth the whole way.  He’s definitely one I can see myself swapping back and forth pretty frequently.  Prowl is packed with a W-45 Acid Pellet Strikeblaster…which is a gun with the light bar from his alt-mode strapped to it.  It’s goofy as hell, but a fun piece nonetheless.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Okay, Max got off the hook yesterday, but he most certainly does *not* today.  See, I was on the fence with Prowl, because of the slightly odd look in the promo shots.  But then Max got his early, and let me mess around with the figure a for a little bit.  It was really, really nice, and I absolutely couldn’t turn him down when I finally had my chance to get one.  I gotta say, I don’t have a huge attachment to the character, nor was I expecting much out of this figure, but he’s kind of my favorite figure from this assortment.  He’s just so much fun.

Prowl came from All Time Toys, where he is still currently in stock, here.  If you’re looking for Transformers, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2028: Chromia

CHROMIA

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE (HASBRO)

Hey, remember how I’m looking at a bunch of Transformers this week?  Yep, well, let’s do some more with that.  For the first two years of Transformers, it was decidedly a masculine-driven line (not exactly uncommon for the time, and, admittedly, none of the Transformers *technically* had genders, at least initially).  It wasn’t until well into the cartoon’s second season that we got our first decidedly female robots in disguise in the episode “Search for Alpha Trion.”  The very first of the fem-bots to appear on screen was today’s focus, Chromia!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Chromia is the second figure in the second deluxe assortment of War for Cybertron: Siege.  Despite her early appearance in the franchise, Chromia didn’t receive any figures for two decades, and this one is only her fifth figure since her creation.  In robot form, the figure stands 5 1/4 inches tall and has 21 practical points of articulation.  Chromia is heavily influenced by the various members of Elita-One’s crew released during the Power of the Primes line, though she is actually a distinct sculpt, and notably lacks the combiner feature of those figures.  This has been somewhat to the ire of some longer-term collectors, but for a newbie like me, I don’t mind a fresh start so much.  Of all the Siege figures I’ve looked at so far, this is the one with the most compromised robot mode in the effort to facilitate the transformation.  There’s a lot more kibble this time around, there’s no getting around it.  In Hasbro’s defense, Chromia’s smaller, and curvier design means that there are less opportunities afforded for easy places to hide vehicle elements.  I suppose it’s possible they could have streamlined her a little further, but I don’t think the end result looks *too* bad.  Really, if it weren’t for that huge honking backpack, she wouldn’t look all that bad.  In fact, I’m quite impressed by the movement on some of her joints, particularly the neck joint, which allows for quite a bit of expressiveness with the figure.  Chromia’s alt-mode is sort of a Cybertronian sports car/minivan thing.   The transformation is overall pretty simple, though I did have a few slight hangups with mine that made her more difficult to shift back and forth.  I don’t foresee myself swapping her back and forth all that much, due to these difficulties.  Chromia is packed with an RT-5 Anti-thermo Blaster, SR Hushfuze, and 2 EMP-Grenades, which pretty much translates to a blaster and a whole bunch of attachments that can configure into all sorts of differently shaped guns.  Quite frankly, this is probably my favorite part of this whole figure.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I have a tendency in my Transformers reviews to discuss how they are, very frequently, decidedly Max’s fault.  That’s not the case with Chromia.  In fact, Max even attempted to dissuade me from getting Chromia at all, when I announced my plans to grab the set of Wave 2 Deluxes.  I, however, was not to be deterred, mostly because I kinda wanted a fem-bot of some sort, and also because I don’t hate Chromia’s design.  Ultimately, yes, she’s the weakest of these figures, and there’s a good chance she may well be the weakest of the line.  And while I can’t exactly sing her praises, I do still kinda dig her, and I think she goes well with the rest of the set.

Chromia came from All Time Toys, where she is still currently in stock here.  If you’re looking for Transformers, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2027: Ironhide

IRONHIDE

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE (HASBRO)

If I’m gonna do this whole up and coming Transformers fan thing, I’m gonna need to actually stay on top of all these Transformers I’m buying, don’t I?  Indeed I do, so let’s just go ahead and do a whole freaking week of Transformers, shall we?  Fasten your seatbelts, guys!  …and then verify that the seatbelts that you’ve fastened are in a real car, and not one that’s actually a robot in disguise…because Transformers, right?  Anyway, I’m kicking off this week of Transformers with one of the earliest Autobots, Ironhide!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ironhide kicks off the second Deluxe assortment of the War for Cybertron: Siege line.  He continues the line’s heavy G1 influence, and is in fact one of Ironhide’s most show/comic accurate figures ever (I mean, hey, this one actually has a head, which is more than can be said of his original release).  In robot mode, the figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 22 functioning points of articulation.  As you may have noted on the height, Ironhide stands a half-inch taller than Sideswipe, and by extension, the rest of the Deluxe offerings for the line so far.  Since Ironhide’s typically not depicted as being small, it makes sense, and its an interesting exploration of what can be done within the set “scales.”  Of course, there do have to be some trade-offs to get him up to that larger size, so Ironhide has a few more hollow spots than some of the others.  The legs and forearms are the primary spots of said hollow-ness.  For the legs, he’s got panels that fold into place to hide this, so that works well enough.  The arms have no such coverage, so there’s just a big opening at the back of each forearm.  It’s a little obvious, but careful posing is enough to make it look alright.  The rest of the sculpt is a solid offering.  He’s boxier and more war-torn than the likes of Sideswipe, befitting the nature of the character.  He’s also suitably bulky, which I definitely dig.  On the flip-side, I don’t so much dig the panels that flip down on the outer sides.  They look a bit extraneous, and right out of the box, they actually don’t properly fit in the hinge they’re attached to, which means they stick out even further, and slightly warp the upper leg.  They can easily be removed, though, so it’s really only as much of an issue as you let it be.  Classically, Ironhide turns into a van, and this figure follows suit, more or less.  As with others in the line, his alt-mode is tweaked to have a Cybertronian flair to it.  The transformation for Ironhide is pretty straight-forward and easy, and for my first time I didn’t actually have to consult the instructions, which is pretty good for a novice like me.  The end result is effectively a brick with wheels attached.  It’s not complicated, but I feel it.  Ironhide is packed with the W-35 LR Doomblast Forge Launcher, which is a big gun that also turns into a big hammer.  I can’t stress how much I love this extra.  It’s really, really cool.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After branching into the Siege line with Optimus and the two Leaders, I started scoping out upcoming releases, and Ironhide quickly found his way to the top of my list.  The final figure has some small flaws, but for the most part, I’m quite happy with the final product.  He’s high on my list of favorites for a line of figures that I’m already thoroughly enjoying.

II picked this guy up from my friends at All Time Toys, where he is still currently in stock here.  If you’re looking for Transformers, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2026: Captain America & Dum Dum Dugan

GOLDEN AGE CAPTAIN AMERICA & DUM DUM DUGAN

MARVEL MINIMATES

Even the Cap gets by with a little help from his friends… though he does occasionally have to borrow those friends from some outside sources.  Such was the case with the Howling Commandos, Nick Fury’s WW2-era unit from the comics, who found themselves merged with Captain America’s WW2-era super team The Invaders for the purposes of The First Avenger, and in turn, found themselves treated to some action figures in the process.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Golden Age Captain America and Dum Dum were one of the two TRU-exclusive sets for the Captain America: The First Avenger assortment of Marvel Minimates.

GOLDEN AGE CAPTAIN AMERICA

On the path to getting his proper Captain America uniform, Cap goes through a few trial stages.  The first of these is Cap’s USO show costume, which is the spitting image of Cap’s classic costume from the comics.  Golden Age Cap is made up of six add-on pieces, all of them re-used.  The gloves and boots are the standard Cap pieces, and the belt was taken from the DC Minimates Series 4 Golden Age Flash (fitting, I suppose).  The mask comes from the First Appearance X-Men set, and while it’s not a terrible piece, it’s not strictly speaking accurate to the source material, where he actually had 3D head wings.  Of course, there was no ready-made piece that would quite match, and it would have certainly been a one-off, so the slight deviation is excusable.  Cap’s paint matches the somewhat sephia-toned coloring of the other Caps in this assortment.  It’s pretty cleanly applied overall, and I like the goony facial expression under the mask.  It’s a different look for Cap, and it helps him stand out a bit more from the other variants.  The blue’s perhaps a touch too light (as it stands, it matches with his standard costume, when it really should be a bit deeper), but that’s a minor change, and he’s at least consistent with the Frontline Captain America in that regard.  Golden Age Cap is packed with his shield (the same one included with Frontline Cap), and a spare hairpiece for a proper unmasked look.  A pointing hand might have been cool, or even some of his accessories from his movie serials he was filming, but he makes out alright.

DUM DUM DUGAN

Dum Dum is possibly the most distinctive of the Howling Commandos, in both the movie and the comics.  His presence here was definitely a sensible one, allowing collectors not only one of Cap’s supporting players, but also a very memorable agent of SHIELD who has had far too few action figures over the years.  Dum Dum is built using two unique add-on pieces; one for his hat/hair, and one for his vest.  The hat is a very distinctive and very important piece for Dugan, and this piece is mostly pretty good, but there’s one slightly annoying flaw to it: it’s lopsided!  It should be symmetrical, but it’s very clearly leaning to the right.  The other details are well-rendered and match the movie, but it’s hard to miss that one issue.  The vest is a decent piece in its own right.  I like that it bulks him up a bit, and the options for storing his shotgun and sidearm are much appreciated.  The paintwork on Dum Dum is respectable.  He’s got a lot of brown going on, but that’s accurate to the movie, so no complaints there.  The face doesn’t have much of a Neal McDonoug likeness, but it’s a pitch-perfect Dugan, so it works well enough for me, especially since it can double as the comics version of the character.  Dum Dum is packed with his shotgun and revolver.  Basic pieces we’ve seen many times before, but still solid pieces nonetheless, and perfect choices for the character.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like the previously reviewed Gabe Jones and Hydra Flame Trooper, I grabbed these two from a TRU on a road trip with my my family back in 2011.  Golden Age Cap is perhaps the least essential of the three versions of Cap we got for the movie, but he’s a decent enough variant, and certainly more entertaining than all the variants of Wolverine we’ve gotten from his movies.  Dum Dum is a minor but still very important character, who was definitely in need of a figure.  This one, despite one notable flaw, definitely does the character justice, and helps to fill out the SHIELD ranks.

#2025: Chewbacca

CHEWBACCA

STAR WARS (KENNER)

On this May the Fourth, it’s with a heavy heart that we bid adieu to Peter Mayhew, the man behind Chewbacca for four decades.  The people behind these masks can sometimes easily be forgotten, but Peter was beloved by his fellow cast members.  And, fortunately, his legacy will live on through his replacement Joonas Suotamo, who took over the role from Peter in The Last Jedi.  In honor of Peter, today I’m going to look at the very first Chewbacca, which feels kinda right.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Chewbacca was one of the first four figures offered in the original Star Wars line, initially shipping in early 1978 as part of the fulfillment for the Early Bird set, before finding his way to a standard carded release shortly thereafter.  Chewbacca was one of the few characters not to get a new version during the three-film run, and as such this figure was in production until the end of the line in the ’80s.  This one came from the ’78 release, a fact I know based on how I acquired him.  That said, there were no notable changes to the main figure during the vintage line.  The figure stands 4 inches tall (the largest of the initial figures) and has 4 points of articulation.  He loses out on the neck articulation due to the nature of his furry design.  Chewbacca’s sculpt was totally unique to him, and it’s certainly a product of its time.  Action figure sculpting wasn’t quite yet up to the level of being able to convincingly translate a walking furball into plastic form, so this guy ends up looking…surprisingly polished?  It’s like somebody really thoroughly shellacked him, or maybe like he’s Cousin It’s much taller brother.  He’s definitely not as intimidating as later versions of the character would be.  Of course, in its own way, perhaps that’s more appropriate to the character, who was generally pretty lovable in the film.  Maybe Kenner was onto something there.  The figure’s paint work is pretty simple.  Mostly, he’s just molded in brown plastic, with a little paint here and there for the eyes, mouth, and bandolier.  It gets the job done, but it’s certainly not extensive.  Chewbacca was originally packed with his bowcaster, which my figure no longer has.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I’ve touched on a few times before here, my vintage Star Wars collection was kind of jump-started by my Dad giving me his old figures when I was growing up.  Chewbacca was amongst those figures, and, since I’ve established here on the site that my first Chewbacca wasn’t a default one, this guy was kind of my go-to Chewbacca for a good long while.  Like a lot of the vintage figures, he’s goofy and dated, but he’s also a really nifty little figure.

#2024: Snake Eyes & Scarlett

SNAKE EYES & SCARLETT

G.I. JOE: NINJA FORCE (HASBRO)

For its first three decades, G.I. Joe was in a rather frequent state of change, attempting to keep itself matched with the times.  Since hitting a smash success with the A Real American Hero incarnation in the ’80s, there’s been a bit of difficulty updating, since a lasting fanbase has prevented them from completely revamping things the way they may once have done.  In the early ’90s, they made a bid at a more informal re-vamp, by breaking out some of ARAH‘s established characters into smaller sub-series, each following a popular theme of the time.  Mainstays Snake Eyes and Scarlett found themselves at the hoist into the “Ninja Force” brand, a decidedly foreign tone for a line that had “American” in its title.  Given the line’s hiatus just a year after this re-branding took center stage, it was perhaps a little too foreign for the established fanbase.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Snake Eyes and Scarlett were both released in 1993, during Ninja Force‘s second year running.  The comics by this point had interwoven both Snake Eyes and Scarlett with Cobra Ninja Storm Shadow, whose move over to the Joe side had led to him being Ninja Force‘s central character during its debut year, and these two coming along to join him seemed like a rather sensible move, at least from a marketing perspective.

SNAKE EYES

“SNAKE-EYES excelled in Long Range Recon Patrols and high-risk covert missions in Southeast Asia. His success was based on his ability to use everything from trees to fog when making himself virtually “invisible,” even to skilled Cobra Ninjas. He perfected his mystical martial arts techniques with the same ninja clan that trained STORM SHADOW. Snake-Eyes was living a self-disciplined, tranquil life in the High Sierras when HAWK recruited him for the G.I. Joe team. Since then, he has proven himself an invaluable asset to the Ninja Force and one of the fiercest fighting menaces against all Cobra legions.” 

This Snake Eyes marked his fifth time gracing the small-scale line, which made him the most prevalent character in the line (though Duke would catch him by virtue of getting two figures released that same year).  Snake not joining the Ninja Force until its second year may seem a little odd at first glance, but it’s likely that his very recently released V4 figure from ’91 prevented his presence for the sub-brands ’92 launch.  Up to this point, Hasbro hadn’t really done the same character two years running (apart from Cobra Commander, who was granted a new figure every year from ’91-’94), so I guess they wanted to let the Commando Snake do his thing a little longer.  Snake Eyes stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 13 points of articulation.  Snake Eyes’ articulation was a marked change from where the line had been for it’s prior nine years, by virtue of the addition of an action feature.  Squeeze the legs and his arms swing up and down for his “Basami Slice”.  Said feature limits the hip movement to more simple swivels and removes the waist.  Removing movement for a figure that’s part of the “Ninja Force” does seem like an odd choice, but it was the direction things were going at the time, so you can’t really fault Hasbro from leaning into that curve.  This figure’s design took the opposite position to the V4 release, which had almost completely abandoned Snake Eyes’ ninja side, and in contrast plays up the ninja side about as much as is possible.  In fact, you’d be forgiven for not realizing this was Snake Eyes at all at first glance.  He’s got actual, visible eyes, for Pete’s sake!  Where’s the signature eyewear?  Morphed into some sort of full faceplate thing, I guess.  He’s also bulked up substantially from his prior figures, because that’s what the ’90s does to you.  It’s actually not a bad sculpt all around, with solid detail work, showing a definite progression from earlier in the line.  Snake Eyes’ paintwork is actually pretty involved for an Snake Eyes figure.  He’s got TWO colors!  That’s crazy!  Snake Eyes was packed with an impressive selection of accessories.  He included three different swords of varying sizes and styles, plus a small knife, nunchucks, a pair of claws, and a display stand.  Mine is missing the knife and claws, but with that many accessories to start with, he doesn’t feel like he’s missing too much.

SCARLETT

“SCARLETT began her training in the martial arts at age nine and was awarded a black belt at age 15. She was not only physically ahead of her time, but mentally as well. She graduated summa cum laude from two Ivy League universities and went on to excel in training courses at all four branches of the armed forces. Cobra often mistakes her for just a pretty face rather than a member of G.I. Joe’s elite Ninja Force, which makes her perfect for undercover missions. She is great friend to each of the Joes, especially SNAKE-EYES, and a deadly enemy to Cobra.”

Despite being in the line’s first year and being a prominent fixture in both the comics and the cartoon, this was only Scarlett’s second figure, a full decade after the original figure.  She wasn’t previously as linked to the whole ninja-thing as Snake Eyes, but the two have been linked since very early on, so her place here as a companion to Snake Eyes was reasonable.  The figure is just under 3 3/4 inches tall and she has 13 points of articulation.  Like Snake Eyes, she has an action feature that limits the hips and waist.  Her action feature, the “Kato Kick” works a little differently than Snake Eyes, since it’s a kick, and there’s a sort of looser way of activating it.  If Snake Eyes’ design was a departure from his usual design, Scarlett’s is even more so. There’s really nothing left of her original look, apart from her red hair, I guess.  The rest of her look leans really heavily on the ninja thing, enough that this same sculpt was easily re-purposed into Chun-Li the same year.  Scarlett’s headsculpt was actually a notable improvement over the less attractive original Scarlett head, better matching her depictions in other media.  She makes use of soft-goods for both her pony tail and sash.  They sort of lend themselves to being all sorts of curled up and messy, but they were a decent enough idea.  Her paintwork is nice enough.  She’s very green, which was an interesting contrast with the red hair.  Not the most attractive color scheme, but not terrible when compared to some of the other figures from the same period of the line.  Scarlett includes the same accessories as Snake Eyes, but molded in yellow instead of blue.  My Scarlett’s missing even more of the extras, but again, with this many, it isn’t quite as much of a loss.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When I first started getting into G.I. Joe, I was always rather perplexed by this subset of the line.  To my younger self, they seemed kind of pointless and goofy, but I’ve kind of gained a new appreciation for them.  I’ve always been a big fan of Snake Eyes and Scarlett, so when this pair showed up in a big ’90s Joe lot at All Time Toys, I fished the two of them out. Are they hokey?  Yes.  Are they the best versions of the characters?  No.  Are they a lot of fun?  Absolutely.

As I noted, I got this pair from All Time Toys, who have been getting a rather steady stream of G.I. Joe collections as of late.  So, if you’re looking for old Joes or if you’re looking for other cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.