#1552: The Riddler

THE RIDDLER

BATMAN: HUSH (DC DIRECT)

Batman’s regular foes have always had a pretty easy time with toys.  I suppose that comes with the territory, being a part of the most successful comics franchise in history and all.  That being said, some of them take priority over others.  While there’s never going to be a shortage of Joker figures, some of the second stringers get left out.  Take, for instance, Riddler.  Certainly high on the list of well-known Bat-Rogues, but he goes rather lengthy spans of time without action figures.  It actually took DC Direct a good couple of years before they got to him, and it was really only because he was a pivotal player in a storyline they were doing a full line of figures for.  But hey, beggars can’t be choosers.  Let’s take a look at that figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Riddler was released in the second series of DC Direct’s Batman: Hush toyline, and is based on Jim Lee’s illustrations from the “Hush” storyline.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  “Hush” saw Riddler in the business-suited attire he picked up in the mid-90s.  It’s a decent enough look, and helped to separate Riddler a bit from the legions of spandex-clad characters DCD was producing at the time.  With that being said, it was perhaps not a design that lent itself to a super exciting action figure, especially when it comes to articulation.  I would think that, at the very least, they would have tried to give him some knee joints or something.  Perhaps they wanted to preserve the integrity of the sculpt?  On the plus side of things, the sculpt is actually pretty solid.  He’s very clean and sharp.  The head definitely capture’s Lee’s artwork very well, especially the snide and serious expression,  I also really dig the question mark-shaped spit curl.  The body is really only designed to work in one particular pose, but it’s a decent enough pose, and you do have some options.  The paintwork is all pretty good; par for the era of figures.   The colors are all pretty bright, and the application is really clean.  Lee had removed the question marks from the suit, so the figure’s a little more basic looking that usual, but it’s accurate to the material.  Riddler was packed with his hat and cane, as well as a display stand.  My figure is missing the hat, but it was cool when he had it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I missed out on the first series of Hush figures when they were released, but when I saw the prototypes for Series 2, I knew I wanted to have this guy in my collection.  I got him new, courtesy of my regular store Cosmic Comix.  I remember this series got pushed back a couple of weeks, which was really frustrating, so I was thrilled when they finally arrived.  Riddler is, I think, the figure in this set that’s aged the worst, and he certainly shows his age.  That said, he’s still one of the best Riddlers out there, especially when it comes to depictions of his suited look.

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#1510: Apollo

APOLLO

THE AUTHORITY (DC DIRECT)

“Apollo, The Authority’s mightiest member and partner to Midnighter stands ready to turn his super-strength and speed to taking care of the team’s business…no matter what the cost!”

Isn’t it a bit weird when a parody character is owned by the same company that owns the original character?  Because, that’s kind of The Authority.  They’re a dark parody of the Justice League, injecting the more idealistic League with a healthy dose of ‘90s anti-heroism.  To be fair, they weren’t originally owned by DC; they came out of Jim Lee’s Image Comics-borne Wildstorm imprint, which Lee sold to DC when he decided he didn’t want to be a publisher anymore.  The New 52 made them an official part of the main DCU, so now there’s a parody Justice League that exists in the same universe as the actual Justice League.  What a world we live in.  Anyway, today I’m looking at the resident “Superman” of the team, Apollo!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Apollo was released in the first, and only, series of DC Direct’s The Authority line in 2002, alongside his husband Midnighter, team leader Jenny Sparks, and the Engineer.  The figure stands about 6 1/4 inches tall and has 9 points of articulation.  His prototype had 11 points of articulation, but somewhere along the way, he lost his wrist joints.  While Apollo obviously draws from Bryan Hitch’s take on the character (since I believe he was still the only artist to draw him at this point), it’s not an artist-specific figure like a lot of DCD’s later stuff would be.  Instead, he’s been interpreted into DCD’s house style of the time.  It gave their earlier offerings a more cohesive look, which I suppose isn’t the worst thing.  He’s just a little blander than Apollo usually tends to be.  The pose is also a bit stiff, but that’s just true of this era of DCD figures.  The figure’s also rather scrawny for Apollo, who should ideally be sporting the same basic build as Superman.  Nevertheless, this figure’s got about half the body mass he should; he almost looks more like Kid Apollo from the Authoriteens.  Apollo’s paint is decent enough for what it is.  He does end up looking a bit washed out, but that’s true of the design from the comics.  It’s a bit tricky to do the creative lighting of the comics in three dimensions.  I suppose they could have made the white pearlescent or something, but they weren’t really doing stuff like that at this point.  I do like that they’ve done some accent work on his hair, and the details on his face are pretty sharp, so it’s hardly like they phoned it in or anything.  Apollo included no accessories, not even one of the display stands DCD were so fond of for a while.  That seems a little light given what he cost, but I don’t really know what you could have given him.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

So, I’ve never actually read any of The Authority or even any non-Authority stories with Apollo in them.  My entire exposure to the character is having seen this particular figure solicited back in 2002, and then reading up on him in preparation for this review.  Why do I own this figure, you ask?  I was at All Time Toys on Small Business Saturday, and I had grabbed a handful of loose figures.  They have a deal on loose figures, where you get a discount if you buy so many.  Long story short, Apollo ended up running me about 50¢.  I can get behind a 50¢ action figure.  Of course, now I’ve got this compulsion to track down the other three Authority members, which is just downright silly, isn’t it?

#1505: Kryptonite Batman

KRYPTONITE BATMAN

SUPERMAN/BATMAN (DC DIRECT)

“When the Joker got his hands on Batman, he united him with a being of practically pure Kryptonite named Mr. Kryptonite.  Possessed by this other being and bent on destroying Superman, Kryptonite Batman is a deadly foe of the Man of Steel”

In the early ‘00s, DC decided to give a go at reviving their old Batman and Superman team-ups from World’s Finest, under the more minimalist Superman/Batman title.  It started out moderately well, with an at least enjoyable opening arc, followed by a few actually decent ones, before sort of becoming a place where half-formed Superman and Batman stories went to die.  I think the first telltale sign was the story that spawned today’s figure, titled “With A Vengeance.”  I’d give a synopsis of the story, but, as someone who read every issue, I still don’t know what happened.  Anyway, let’s just look at the figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Kryptonite Batman was released in Series 4 of DC Direct’s Superman/Batman, which was a whole assortment based on “With A Vengeance.”  This was the main Batman-variant of the assortment, because you gotta have at least one.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  None of these style of figures were particularly amazing when it came to mobility, but the Batman figures were actually some of the worst, because his armoire permanently stuck out.  Seriously, dude looked like Randy from A Christmas Story.  This figure’s sculpt was actually a complete re-use from the basic Batman released in Series 1 of this same line.  Since he was just a palette swap in the comics, it’s not an unreasonable choice.  Like the two JLA: Classified Supermen I looked at a while back, this guy’s based on Ed McGuinness’s rather distinctive style.  In fact, he actually uses the same basic starting point as those two figures, albeit with a variety of more Batman-specific items.  Despite the difficulties with posability, the actual sculpt isn’t half bad, and does a pretty solid job of capturing McGuinness’s Batman in three dimensions.  Paint is the main thing that differentiates this figure from the Series 1 offering, but even on that front, he’s not that different.  He’s got most of the same basic detailing, but with glow in the dark green plastic instead of the grey for his body suit.  It certainly makes for a unique look.  The figure is packed only with a display stand, sporting the Superman/Batman logo.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked up a number of the “With A Vengeance” figures when they were new.  This one wasn’t among them.  Instead, it took me ten years to finally get around to buying him.  Why did I finally get him?  Mostly because Cosmic Comix was selling him for $7, which was a low enough price to get me to bite.  He’s goofy, and not really for everyone, but I enjoy him.

#1475: Mary Jane

MARY JANE

SPIDER-MAN: THE MOVIE (TOY BIZ)

Back in the day, when super hero movies actually got dedicated toy lines at mass retail, one of the nicer things they offered were figures of some of the less dynamic members of their supporting casts.  Perhaps one of the best examples of this is the toy line for 2000’s Spider-Man film, which gave us figures of J. Jonah Jameson, Norman Osborne, and today’s focus figure, Mary Jane Watson!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Mary Jane was released in Series 2 of Toy Biz’s Spider-Man: The Movie toy line, alongside variants of Spider-Man and Green Goblin, as well as a Peter Parker.  She’s seen here in her red dress she wears during the first movie’s World Unity Festival scene.  While it’s not necessarily a definitive look for her, it’s easily the most distinctive look from the movie, and more exciting than her others.  The figure stands a little under 6 inches tall and she has 10 points of articulation.  Though many of the figures in this line were super-posable, MJ was on the lower end, more on par with the X-Men: The Movie figures.  Like those figures, there’s not a ton of poses possible, but you can get at least a little bit of variety out of her.  The sculpt was unique to this figure, and it’s actually pretty good for the time.  The proportions are still a little bit exaggerated, and the articulation isn’t integrated as flawlessly as I might like, but it looks solid overall.  The detail work on the dress is actually pretty nice, and the likeness on the head isn’t a half-bad Kirsten Dunst.  The paintwork on MJ is pretty solid overall, apart from a few small nits.  The skin’s a little pasty, and the face is a bit sloppy, but the work on the dress is nothing short of amazing.  It definitely makes this figure worthwhile.  MJ is packed with a section of balcony, which is meant to work as a stand, I suppose.  There’s no foot pegs or anything, and it’s only really stable if you’ve got a window to mount it on, but it’s still a pretty cool piece.  There’s a breakaway feature, allowing it to split, not unlike the damage seen in the movie.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

17 years ago, I picked up this figure in a Toy Zain toystore.  She was rarer at the time, so I almost got her, but she was also $7.99, which was a $2 mark-up from the usual going rate, and I just didn’t know if she was worth it to me.  So, I didn’t get her.  And then I didn’t really see her again, until a few weeks ago, when Cosmic Comix put her out, as one of the many figures they’d gotten as part of a larger collection.  The price?  $7.99.  Nowadays, that’s not so bad, and I was hardly going to leaver her behind again.  She’s actually not a bad little figure, certainly not for the time. 

#1467: Rogue

ROGUE

X-MEN: THE MOVIE (TOY BIZ)

“The genetic abilities of the young drifter known as Rogue are both a blessing and a curse. The young mutant has the power to absorb the memories and powers of others through the slightest touch, but because she has no control over this talent, she must keep even those she cares for at a distance. She first met Wolverine when he saved her from an attacking angry mob and feels a special kinship with him because she once used her powers to absorb his mutant healing factor and memories in order to save her life. As a result, she understands why the mysterious loner has such a troubled soul.”

For 2000’s X-Men movie, Rogue was somewhat refitted into a focal point character, through whom the audience could be more easily introduced to the titular team of mutants.  Since it’s not a role the character had previously filled, she was refitted with some traits from the last two characters to fill this role, Kitty Pryde and Jubilee, which ended up making her a little less Rogue-like.  Still, she got to be a very central figure in on of the franchise’s most visible offerings, so it’s hardly the worst thing ever, right?  And she got toys out of the deal, which is always a win in my book.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Rogue was released in Series 2 of Toy Biz’s X-Men: The Movie tie-in line of figures.  The first two series of the line were actually released simultaneously, something Toy Biz did with a few lines at the time.  The figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  Most of that articulation is rendered essentially inert, thanks to some very low range of motion.  The neck has the hair to contend with, the cuffs of the jeans restrict the feet, and the hips are v-hips that are so shallow they barely even count as v-hips.  Essentially, she’s good for standing, and that’s about it.  Oh, and she can also wave her arms around.  That’s fun!  The sculpt was an all-new venture, and it’s decent enough for the time, I guess.  The body seems a little skinny for Anna Paquin, and the head doesn’t really look all that much like her, but it’s decent enough from a purely aesthetic standpoint.  She looks like an actual person, which is always a good thing.  The paint work is passable, if maybe a little basic for a figure that’s supposedly based on a real person.  There’s at least some fun detailing on her blouse and undershirt.  She’s got a streak of white in her hair, showing that she’s supposed to be from the end of the movie.  It’s only in the final film ever so briefly, and even the prototype didn’t have it, but one can certainly understand why Toy Biz would want Rogue to have at least one recognizable trait.  Rouge included an overcoat and scarf, both cloth, which completed her look from the film.  They were both rather over-sized and goofy, but better than nothing, I suppose.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After rushing out to get Cyclops and Jean Grey when they were first released, I patiently waited for my 8th birthday to get the rest of the line.  Rogue was near the top of my list, but she and Toad were both short-packed, meaning they weren’t found for my actual birthday.  However, I did get a little money, which I immediately took to the nearest Toys R Us, where I found both Rogue and Toad in one fell swoop.  Nifty! Rogue is perhaps not the most thrilling figure, but she’s a pretty solid standard civilian, and you don’t get many of those.

#1461: Snake Eyes & Storm Shadow

SNAKE EYES & STORM SHADOW

G.I. JOE VS COBRA (HASBRO)

Heyo!  As all my faithful FiQ-fans are undoubtedly aware, today marks four years of reviews here at the site.  In honor of this momentous day, I wanted to take a look at a pair of figures that are somewhat important in the grand scheme of my collection.  I’ll be setting my sites on G.I. Joe, a franchise that I feel I don’t look at quite as often as I should around these parts.  I mean, it is the *original* action figure, after all.  The line definitely deserves some respect.  Today, I’ll be looking at two of my favorite characters from the franchise (as well as two of the most popular characters in general), Snake Eyes & Storm Shadow!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Snake Eyes & Storm Shadow were released in Series 1 of Hasbro’s G.I. Joe Vs Cobra line. This series served to bring brand-new 3 3/4-inch Joes back to mass retail after a one year absence and a few years of repaints.

SNAKE EYES

“SNAKE EYES learned his top combat skills in missions around the globe. A tragic helicopter mission took away his voice and scarred his face. That’s why he communicates with sign language and never removes his mask around others. He studied mystical martial arts with the Arashikage clan, which is also the family of master ninja STORM SHADOW, SNAKE EYES is an expert in all disciplines of martial arts and silent weapons. He can move silenty and without being seen. At one time, he and STORM SHADOW were sword brothers, linked by spirit and tradition. Now that STORM SHADOW is part of the evil COBRA organization, there is no escape from a final battle between two of the world’s greatest martial arts fighters.”

As perhaps the most popular Joe ever, it was no surprise that Snake Eyes turned up here in the first series.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall (he’d be taller without the wide stance) and he has 14 points of articulation.  The first series of Vs were distinct in their construction.  Hasbro abandoned the more typical O-ring construction, and went for a more solid construction.  This results in figures that are a little sturdier than their predecessors, but slightly more limited in their posability at the hips.  It wasn’t a perfect solution, and that’s why Hasbro ended up going back to the O-ring build in the next series.  This Snake Eyes had a unique design, which made use of elements from all of his prior figures.  I may be a little biased, but this has always been a favorite look of mine.  His sculpt definitely shows its age….or an age.  Given the sheer size of this guy’s muscles, he looks like he should be straight out of the ’90s, not the early ’00s.  Guess Hasbro was still shaking off a little of the Extreme days from the ’90s.  That being said, whoever worked on this sculpt was certainly having a good time of it.  The details in the wrappings, the straps, and the pouches are all really well rendered, and indicate real attention being paid to this figure.  The head’s my favorite part of the figure, as it’s probably the least affected by the stylization.  I like that you can clearly see the face under the mask, but it’s not quite as ridiculous as the sculpted lips from Rise of Cobra.  The paintwork on this figure is a bit more involved than most Snake Eyes figures tended to be.  He’s actually molded in a very, very dark green, allowing his visor to be made straight black and still have contrast.  The rest of the work is all in the accents, which all go pretty well.  He’s got some color without it getting too garish.  Snake Eyes was packed with a pair of swords, a backpack to hold them, a knife, and a sub-machine gun.  After 15 years, all my figure has left are the swords.

STORM SHADOW

“STORM SHADOW grew up in the Arashikage clan of ninjas.  During his training, his sword-brother was SNAKE EYES, the commando and martial arts master of the GI JOE team.  The evil COBRA organization recruited Arashikage members.  This corruption split the clan in two.  After a COBRA agent killed STORM SHADOW’s uncle, he went undercover within COBRA to find the assassin.  When the killer was revealed, STORM SHADOW joined the GI JOE team to get revenge.  But now, STORM SHADOW is back with COBRA.  Are all Arshikage ninjas evil? Or does COBRA COMMANDER hold some special power over STORM SHADOW?  Whatever the reason, the anger is clear when he meets SNAKE EYES.  The battle between the ninja masters will be legendary.”

Ah, the revolving door that is Storm Shadow’s affiliation.  Yes, one of the notable things done by the relaunch was placing Storm Shadow back on the side of Cobra, which was explained in the Devil’s Due comics of the time as the result of brainwashing.  The figure has the same height and articulation as Snake Eyes.  Thanks to a slightly straighter stance, that actually makes him a little shorter.  The sculpt for Storm Shadow as another all-new one, and while Snake Eyes would get another sculpt very quickly, Storm Shadow’s stuck around for several years.  It’s not anywhere near as exaggerated as the Snake Eyes sculpt, so I guess it had a slightly longer shelf life.  That being said, I can’t help but feel this sculpt is a little less inspired than that of Snake Eyes.  The details seem a lot flatter, less organic, and just generally a little less developed.  And then there’s that hood; what’s going on with the hood?  It’s all stuck to the head, and generally un-hood-like.  The Storm Shadow figure just prior to this one clearly showed that sculpting a hood was totally within Hasbro’s grasp, so this just looks…strange.  It’s as if they didn’t decide until the last minute whether they wanted the hood or not, so he just has this amorphous could-be-a-hood-could-be-a-mask thing.  Storm Shadow’s paint is alright.  It’s pretty basic stuff, really.  Red, white, gray, and black.  It’s relatively clean, and makes for a good contrast with Snake Eyes.  The white is all molded plastic, though, so he’s done some serious yellowing over the years.  The figure was packed with two swords, a backpack, a knife, and a sub-machine gun.  Apart from the backpack and knife, the pieces were actually unique to Storm Shadow, not shared with Snake Eyes.  That’s actually pretty cool!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

These two are my very first small-scale G.I. Joes.  I had several of the 12-inch ones, but the smaller line was on the back burner for my earlier collecting years.  When the first series was first shown in ToyFare magazine, I was pretty excited, and I knew from the very beginning that Snake Eyes was the first one I wanted.  Storm Shadow sort of came along for the ride.  My dad bought these for me, as a reward for patiently waiting for flooring with him at Home Depot.  They aren’t amazing figures.  None of this era of Joes really were.  But they were my first, and they were fun.  I loved having them, and they got me into the whole franchise.  Now I have over a hundred of these little guys.  Lots of them are better technically than these two, but these two are still my favorites.

#1393: Buzzing Beetle

BUZZING BEETLE

SPIDER-MAN: CLASSICS (TOY BIZ)

When is a figure you want not a figure you want?  That’s a confusing question.  What I’m getting at is that sometimes, there’s a character you really want, and when they arrive, they just aren’t what you wanted at all.  That’s the perpetual story of Beetle.  He’s a B-list Spider-Man foe, so his appearance in numerous Spider-Man lines over the years is no surprise.  What’s continued to be a surprise is the versions of the character we’ve gotten.  Back when Toy Biz was still pioneering the Marvel Legends style, they gave us our first 6-inch Beetle as part of their complimentary Spider-Man: Classics line.  It was…not exactly what was expected.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Buzzing Beetle was released in Series 14 of Spider-Man: Classics as one of the two Spider-foes in the set.  The figure stands a whopping 7 3/4 inches tall and has 39 points of articulation.  This Beetle figure is based on one of the much later Beetle designs.  It’s not exactly one of the more memorable designs that the character’s had.  In fact, Abner Jenkins, the original Beetle, never even wore this armor.  He instead controlled it by remote.  It was eventually worn by Leila Davis, after Abner had given up the Beetle identity, but even that was rather short-lived.  It’s at the very least a visually interesting design.  The complexity of the design means it also requires a completely unique sculpt.  It’s pretty decent work all-in-all.  The various pieces of armor have differing textures, which adds a lot of additional cool factor to this figure.  The design also really lends itself to toy form, so the articulation can be worked in pretty well.  The hip joints are kind of obvious, as were all of these types of joints at the time.  Beyond that, it’s really pretty solid.  The “buzzing” feature was linked to the wings (which my figure is lacking) and the mechanics are placed within the torso.  Due to the sheer size of the figure, though, the mechanics really don’t impede the sculpt or articulation all that much.  There’s also a light-up feature on the visor, which turns it…red?  Yeah, okay.  The paintwork on Beetle is actually pretty great.  The metallic shades are really cool to look at, and the purple and green go really well together.  There’s also some really fun weathering on the purple bits, which helps further accentuate their already more worn-in sculpt.  In addition to the (missing) wings, Beetle also included a pair of missiles (also missing) to go in the missile launchers affixed to the figure’s forearms.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I saw this figure a few times when it was new, and I never bought it.  I was a little bit resentful that they went with this design over the classic look.  Of course, once it was officially gone from all the regular places, I kind of regretted never picking it up.  I ended up fishing this figure out of the $1 bin at 2nd Chance Toyz, which was pretty exciting.  Sure, it’s missing a few parts, but the base figure is still cool.  Really, at the end of the day, I’m actually kind of happy this figure was made when it was.  It’s actually a pretty fun design, and it’s the sort of thing that wouldn’t really be financially feasible in this day and age.  A good toy’s a good toy.

#1377: Wrestler Spider-Man

WRESTLER SPIDER-MAN

SPIDER-MAN: THE MOVIE (TOY BIZ)

In light of the recent re-re-launch of Spider-Man in Spider-Man: Homecoming, why not have a look back at Spidey’s first turn as a movie star.  Though they have been eclipsed a bit by some of Marvel’s more recent offerings, the Raimi Spider-Man films are still some of my favorites (yes, even the much maligned Spider-Man 3).  Another favorite thing of mine?  Prototype super hero suits.  Today’s figure combines both of these things.  Without further ado, here’s Wrestler Spider-Man!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Wrestler Spider-Man was released in the third, and final, series of Toy Biz’s Spider-Man: The Movie tie-in line. The figure stands a little over 6 inches tall and he has 22 points of articulation.  He’s based on Peter’s initial costume, which, as the name suggests, he makes for his wrestling match against Bone Saw McGraw.  Well, part of the figure is based on that, anyway.  This guy’s actually a two-in-one, representing both a standard Spider-Man *and* Wrestler Spider-Man.  The base figure is the standard Spidey, which is generally pretty nicely sculpted.  He’s not quite as mobile as the actual standard Spider-Man from this line, but you can get some pretty solid poses.  There’s a touch of preposing to him, with a slight hunch to his torso, which makes for some Spidey-worthy poses.  The head is unmasked, and is a pretty spot-on likeness of Tobey McGuire as Peter.  The standard Spidey look is finished off with a removable mask.  Said was prone to tearing, which is why my figure is missing his.  The paint work on the standard Spidey is really quite nice; the suit has the basic colors down, and there’s a ton of great accent work exhibited throughout.  The head also gets a pretty solid paint job, though the skin does seem a little bit pale and pasty.  Still, it’s far from bad.  To transform him into the Wrestler Spider-Man, the figure includes a spare set of arms and feet, as well as a rubber shirt piece, mask, and pants.  The sculpted parts are quite nicely detailed, and swap out with relative ease.  The extra add-on pieces are a little difficult to get on, but the end result is that they’re pretty form-fitting, and that makes for a much better final figure.  Like the standard mask, the Wrestler mask was also rather prone to tearing, meaning my figure’s missing that one, too.  Good thing he’s got that nice Tobey McGuire likeness, right?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I noted in the intro, I really like prototype super suits, and this particular design is one of my favorites (the year Spider-Man was released, I actually made this costume to wear for Halloween).  I remember this guy being announced in ToyFare, and anxiously awaiting his release.  I ended up getting him during a trip to KB Toys with my Grandmother.  He’s definitely my favorite figure from this particular line; I just wish the masks had held up a little bit better.

#1374: Roboto

ROBOTO

MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE (2002)

One year ago exactly, I wrapped up a two-week stretch of Masters of the Universe reviews with a review of the Castle Grayskull playset from the 2002 line.  In what I guess is going to become a birthday tradition on the site, I’m looking at yet another MotU figure today.  It’s one of my favorite characters from the franchise, Roboto, Heroic Mechanical Warrior!  I’ve actually looked at Roboto once before, having looked at his vintage counterpart, but today I look at his super awesome 2002 version!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Roboto was added to the re-launched Masters of the Universe series in 2003, as part of the fifth assortment of Heroic Warriors.  The figure stands about 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 12 points of articulation (13 if you count the very slight mobility of his jaw).  Where the vintage Roboto made use of a couple of pieces from Trap-Jaw, this Roboto was a totally unique sculpt.  This figure takes Roboto’s admittedly rather goofy vintage design, and does its very best to make him look, you know, actually pretty cool.  Unlike a lot of things that Mattel tries at, this figure succeeds.  In fact, this is easily one of my favorite designs from the 2002 line, and really Masters of the Universe in general.  He keeps all of the important details from the original Roboto, so you can clearly tell it’s the same character, but all of these details have been made much sharper, more robotic, and more in line with other cool robots of the last few decades.  The head in particular ditches the duck-billed knight looking design of the vintage figure in favor of a more futuristic warrior look, which made more sense in the setting of the updated cartoon.  Like his vintage counterpart, this guy takes advantage of the usual hollow torso of these figures, and has molded it in clear plastic and placed an assortment of gears inside, representing his inner workings.  In terms of paintwork, this guy is pretty great; the application is all very clean, and I really like the metallic re-working of his classic color scheme.  It really pops.  The figure is packed with two arm attachments for his right arm: a claw and a blaster.  Both are updates of the same pieces included with the vintage figures, updated to match the new figure’s style.  He loses the third attachment (the axe) but gains an extra armored piece for his torso, as well as a missile for his blaster arm.  Not a bad assortment of extras at all!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Roboto’s debut episode was one of my favorites of the 2002 show, so I always wanted this figure.  Remember how I mentioned that his re-design was one of my favorites?  Well, I wasn’t alone in this thought.  That, coupled with Mattel’s incredibly stupid methods of packing cases and distribution, meant that I never once saw this figure at retail.  It also meant he was one of the figures to hold onto his aftermarket value, even well after most of the line had fallen way down in price.  Honestly, I’d never even seen this guy in person.  So, when I found him at Lost In Time Toys a few weeks ago, I was pretty excited.  I was even more excited when I found out that he was half-off his given price, allowing me to get him for a more than reasonable price.  I’m thrilled to finally have this guy, and for all the ragging I do on Mattel, there’s no denying that this is a cool toy.

*As an added bonus, Roboto was also the 4000th unique figure to be added to my collection!  Wow, that’s a lot of figures!

#1345: Star Trek Minimates

CAPTAIN KIRK, SPOCK, DR. McCOY, KHAN, & GORN

STAR TREK MINIMATES (ART ASYLUM)

I’ve spoken twice before about the original, larger-sized Minimates, the important stepping stone on the way to getting us the licensing behemoth that we now have.  Today, I’ll be touching on them yet again, this time looking at the one property to have graced both styles of Minimate: Star Trek.   After doing ‘mates from Crouching Tiger and some music ‘mates, and even some Bruce Lee ‘mates, Art Asylum turned their sights onto Trek mostly because they already had the license (they produced a Dark Angel Minimate for the same reason, but with less success).  Anyway, I’ve got a bunch of them, and I’ll be looking at them today.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

These five were released in the first (and only) series* of the larger-scale Star Trek Minimates from Art Asylum.  There was also a Mugato in the series, as well as an accompanying ToyFare-exclusive “Trouble With Tribbles” Kirk, but I don’t yet have those two.  Maybe some day.

All of the figures featured here are built on the 3-inch Minimate body, which is a little different from the smaller body in terms of construction, mostly around the elbows and knees.  The assembly can afford to be just a touch more complex at the larger scale, and that’s really the source of most of the changes.  Nevertheless, it works the same as the smaller body from a basic functioning stand-point, and it has the same 14 points of articulation.

CAPTAIN KIRK

This was the first of the 14 MInimates of James T. Kirk.  He’s most prevalent of the Trek characters by far, though he’s got nothing on the likes of Spider-Man and Iron Man.  Anyway, this is the one that started it all.  This figure has three add-on pieces: hair, and both pants cuffs.  The hair was new to this guy (though it was also shared with the ToyFare variant, and would have presumably been used for the Mirror Universe version in Series 2).  I gotta say, I like this piece a lot more than the initial smaller Kirk ‘mates.  It’s still a bit more simplistic than more recent ‘mates, but that’s certainly not a point against it, and it’s definitely in keeping with the other ‘mates of this time period.  The paint work on Kirk is about on par with the rest of the earlier ‘mates.  It’s all pretty clean, but also rather on the simple side.  All of the important things, like the face and various uniform elements are there.  The face has a pretty decent likeness of Shatner (honestly, I think it was a bit better than later attempts), and the uniform details seem to be pretty accurate.  The colors are generally pretty decent, but once again, far more basic than later ‘mates would be.  Kirk was packed with a phaser (painted in all silver, rather than the proper silver and black), as well as one of the goofy puzzle pieces that they threw in with all of the early guys.

MR. SPOCK

Spock’s not too far behind Kirk on the variant front, with a whole 8 Minimates under his belt.  There does seem to be a little less variation to his, though.  Like Kirk, this figure has add-ons for his hair and pant cuffs.  Spock’s hair piece is fine, but I find his style of hair doesn’t translate quite as well to this sort of figure.  Later pieces worked a fair bit better, I feel.  I think his hair just needs more detail to it, otherwise it just ends up looking like a skullcap or something.  The paint on Spock is rather similar to Kirk’s, but once again, I don’t think it works quite as well.  The face definitely tries for a Nimoy likeness and, while it isn’t horribly off, I think the lack of any sort of line work for the cheekbones is really holding it back.  Most characters can get by alright without the cheekbones, but not those played by Leonard Nimoy.  In addition, the shade of blue chosen for the shirt is several shades too dark and far too greyed out for the blue shirts from Classic Trek.  This shade almost looks like something from the JJ Abrams films, which wouldn’t be released for 7 years after this.  Spock includes an extra right hand, doing the Vulcan salute, as well as a tricorder and the puzzle piece.

DR. McCOY

McCoy’s important because he finished out the show’s core trio.  Sadly, he always seems to be the one who gets overlooked.  It’s a shame, really.  But hey, he got this ‘mate and a few others, so that’s pretty good for him, right?  This guy is very similar to the other two, with the exact same cuffs on the legs and then a unique hair piece.  The hair falls somewhere between the other two, being not quite as strong as Kirk’s, but a fair bit more recognizable as hair than Spock’s.  It’s definitely not bad.  In terms of paint, he’s almost identical to Spock, overly dark blue and all.  On the plus side, the likeness on the face is the spitting image of DeForrest Kelly, surly country wisdom and all.  He includes the same tricorder and puzzle piece as Spock, but obviously loses the saluting hand.  It would have been nice to get one of his medical gadgets or something, but the tricorder’s enough, I suppose.

KHAN

Khan’s pretty popular for a guy who was only in a single episode of the show.  Oh, right, and there was that movie thing, I guess.  That might have helped.  Khan’s had a few Minimates, and not a single one of them has been in the same outfit.  This is one of his red outfits, likely chosen for it’s contrast with the rest of Series’ color schemes.  He’s got a hair piece and a skirt for the bottom of his tunic.  Both pieces are pretty solid, so that’s good.  Khan has one of the more complex paint schemes in the set (though not *the* most.  That comes later), and it’s generally pretty nicely handled.  My only real complaint is that his face is slightly off-center, which is a problem that occasionally cropped up with these early ‘mates, due to the hair peg being near the back of the head.  On the plus side, the likeness on the face is pretty decent.  Khan’s only accessory is the puzzle piece.

GORN

Okay, so I freaking love the Gorn, and this is like my whole reason for buying this set.  Because I desire to own every Gorn figure in existence.  I’m actually pretty close on that, so, yaaaaaay.  Gorn FTW!  This guy uses add-ons for his hands and his skirt.  There’s no piece for the head, which leaves the peg hole exposed, but it’s not huge issue, given the placement.  The add-ons are nicely sculpted and pretty cool looking overall.  The skirt piece is a little thick, so he splits at the middle a lot, but it’s a minor issue.  Gorn gets the most complicated of the paint jobs.  It’s still pretty simplified, but I actually really like it.  The face is pretty neat, and I like how they’ve translated his design onto the basic head block.  They’ve also done a nice job with the pattern on his tunic, so that’s cool.  He was packed with a spike, a translator, and that freaking puzzle piece.  Mine is lacking these, sadly.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I always wanted to pick up a set of these back when they were still new, back when they would have been my first Minimates, but for whatever reason, I never got any of them.  I’m the reason the line failed, you guys.  I’m sorry about that.  I’ve been on the lookout for a set for a little while now, and I ended up finding these guys at Amazing Heroes, which was a cool toys, comics, and games store that my brother found just outside of Seattle.  I was actually pretty happy to find an almost complete set in one go.  I kinda dig these guys.  Kirk and the Gorn are the definite stars, and translate really well to the more simplistic style.  The others are pretty solid as well, if not quite as stand out.  Now, I gotta get that second Kirk and a Mugato….

*There was a proposed second series, which would have rounded out the main crew and given us a Klingon, but, like all of the 3-inch lines, Trek never made it past Series 1.