#2198: Buzz-Off

BUZZ-OFF

MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE (MATTEL)

“Heroic Spy in the Sky!”

As a child of the decade post-80s (more commonly referred to as the ’90s, I suppose), I missed out on the initial run of a lot of the top ’80s toys.  Fortunately for me, there was something of an ’80s resurgence that began right around 2002, and it was this wave of psuedo-nostalgia which gave me my first proper taste of things such as G.I. Joe and Masters of the Universe.  For the Joes, it did eventually lead me to a proper appreciation for the true vintage stuff, but in the case of Masters, something about that early ’00s branch really stuck with me, thereby making it the 2002 line that I get nostalgic for, not the old ’80s stuff.  As a matter of fact, there are a good number of Masters characters whose vintage designs do nothing for me.  Good example?  Today’s figure, Buzz-Off!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Buzz-Off was added to the re-launched Masters of the Universe toyline in 2003, as part of the fifth assortment of heroic warriors in the line, alongside three He-Man variants, Ram-Man, Man-E-Faces, and Roboto.  The figure is roughly 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 17 points of articulation, thanks to the inclusion of ball-joints on the wings and little arms on his back.  That makes him one of this line’s most articulated figures.  The vintage Buzz-Off figure was designed to share parts with the villainous Whiplash.  I know, when I think of bees and reptiles, I see the similarities too.  For the 2002 relaunch, both characters got starkly divergent treatments, which was probably for the best on both counts.  While swollen and muscle bound was the only way to go for the vintage line, Buzz-Off’s recreation was now svelte and angular, easily one of the most slimmed down designs of this whole iteration of the brand.  It’s a quite unique look, and much like Roboto from the same assortment, it takes a much goofier design and makes it a little bit more palatable in the context of the wider story and the type of character than Buzz-Off is supposed to be.  When it came time to adapt the character to the new cartoon, Buzz-Off received a noticeably drab color scheme, drastically different from his old look.  For the figure proper, he more meets in the middle.  The basics of the old design are definitely still there, but he looks less like “wrestler in a bee” costume this time around.  Buzz-Off was packed with an axe (with launching, because that’s how axes work) and a pair of goggles for protecting his eyes while flying, I guess.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The thing about the 200x Masters line is that as cool as the redesigns were, and as much as I liked the look of the figures, they were our first real taste of how badly Mattel could screw up case packouts and distribution.  Remember how I mentioned the three He-Man variants in this set?  Well, they were heavier packed than the the three new heroes, and for Buzz-Off and Roboto in particular, that made them very, very hard to find when they were new.  No Buzz-Off for me.  In fact, since coming into that big GoodWill find several years ago, there have been just a few figures left to check off on my list of Masters I still really wanted.  Buzz-Off was at the top of that list.  Fortunately for me, All Time got in a whole bunch of 200x Masters figures a couple of months ago, and Buzz-Off was right there with them, meaning I was finally able to add him to my collection!

As touched on above, I picked this guy up from my friends All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

Advertisements

#2189: Daredevil – Yellow & Elektra

DARDEVIL — YELLOW & ELEKTRA

MARVEL MINIMATES

Babam!  Six years of writing for this here site, boys and girls.  How about that?  So, as I like to do every year on this occasion, I want to take today’s review to look at an item a little nearer and dearer to me and important to my collecting habits as a whole.  Today’s entry focuses on the world of Minimates, which, anyone who’s read the site for a decent amount of time can probably tell you is a world that makes up a considerable chunk of my collection.  For this review, we’re jumping back to the humble beginnings of the line, when they released a series 1 line-up that was surprisingly low-key.  Without further ado, let’s have a look at Daredevil and Elektra!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Daredevil and Elektra were part of the Daredevil/Hulk split first series line-up of Marvel Minimates, which hit alongside Series 2 and 3 in the summer of 2003.  2003 is an important year to note, as it kind of explains the line-up of Series 1, since Daredevil and Hulk were both in theaters that year, and these were sort of a loose tie-in.  This set was the one that got the variant treatment for the first line-up, with two different versions of Elektra available, and the Yellow Daredevil shared between the two sets.

DAREDEVIL — YELLOW

There were two Daredevils available in the first series.  The more standard Red DD was available with Kingpin, while this one recreates Matt’s first appearance attire, which has long been a popular choice for variations of DD.  The figure was built on the original Marvel body, which introduced the smaller 2″ scale for ‘mates.  He stands about 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  He’s also got the pre-c3 long feet, just like every other Marvel ‘mate release prior to Series 8.  Construction-wise, he and the red version were the same.  He gets an add-on for his mask and belt.  They were rather simplistic, but the mask in particular really works well, and clings to that ‘mate aesthetic.  The belt would be replaced by a less bulky model as the line went on, but for the time it was pretty solid.  His paintwork is probably one of the most complex of the early releases.  Of course, it also has the most room for error, which is probably why he’s got a lot of fuzzy and un-even lines going on. That being said, given the scale, it’s really not that bad.  He’s got a decent amount of detailing, including a full face under the mask, even though he didn’t have an extra hair piece to show it off yet.  What he did include was  a pair of billy clubs, painted up in yellow match the figure.

ELEKTRA

Given her prominent place in the 2003 movie, and her general place as one of Marvel’s best known female characters in the early ’00s,  Elektra’s inclusion here was kind of no-brainer.  Perhaps the craziest thing was how long it would take for her to get a follow-up.  Like Matt, this figure is built on the older Marvel body, long feet and all.  She has add-ons for her hair and skirt.  While DD’s design allowed for an easier transition to the ‘mate style, especially the more streamlined nature of the earlier releases, Elektra is less fortunate.  The blocky nature doesn’t quite go as well with here, and the hair and skirt would very quickly become some of the line’s most dated pieces.  They’re not awful, but they’re not amazing either.  Elektra’s paint does the best it can with the design, and ultimately captures all of the important elements.  No idea why she’s just got that single glove, though.  The standard Elektra was done up in her classic red, while her one-per-case variant was instead in black.  I’m not sure if the black was a specific comic thing, or if they were just aiming to get her a little closer the the movie version, but whatever the case, it doesn’t look bad.  Both versions of Elektra were packed with a pair of sais.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Back during the site’s first year, I acquired and reviewed the Spider-Man Classics Yellow Daredevil, which was something of a long-standing grail for my collection.  That figure was, at the time of his release, really, really hard to get, and would remain that way for a decent chunk of time, leaving him well outside of my price range.  My dad, who had been working very hard to find me one, eventually met a compromise when he discovered Marvel Minimates just a few days before my birthday in 2003, and saw a more attainable way of getting me a Yellow Daredevil.  And so, these guys became my very first Minimates, launching a collection of more than 1000 of these little buggers.  Who would have guessed it would grow so far?

#2168: Red Stripe Cylon

RED STRIPE CYLON

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (DST)

After siding with the Cylon Rebels and joining the Colonial Fleet, these newly-liberated and independent Cylon Centurions were a crucial weapon against Cavil’s retro-era forces.  Their distinct markings earned them the nickname ‘Red Stripes.'”

Battlestar Galactica…now that’s a name I haven’t heard in quite some time…or written about, at least.  While I was pretty into the rebooted BSG when it was airing (or at the very least for the back half of its airing), I’ve written a grand total of six BSG-related reviews for this site, the last of which was almost two years ago.  My first two BSG reviews, way back in my first month running this here site, dealt with Diamond Select Toys’ line of 7-inch figures based on the property.  While two of the three figures I reviewed were Cylons, there were no proper Cyclon Centurions to be had.  I intend to fix that today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Red Stripe Cylon was released as a Toys R Us-exclusive figure in 2009.  As his bio touches on, this particular Centurion hails from the series finale “Daybreak,” where the “heroic” Cyclon rebels bring with them what remain of the liberated modern-style Centurions.  In order to avoid any potential confusion from Colonial forces in the heat of battle, these guys get marked with their distinct red stripes.  Which really begs the question of just where did the Colonial fleet found so much red paint?  And who took the time to paint the stripes on these guys?  Did they use their new-found independence to paint themselves, thereby showing a capacity to learn and be creative, and by extension making the whole fleet flying into the sun at the end of the show even more depressing and oh gosh I gotta get off this train of thought.  Maybe they found a special happy farm on the other side of the sun.  Yeah, that’s it.  Or perhaps someone in the fleet was just a really big fan of Jamaican beer.  Hooray beer.  But what of the figure of which this is ostensibly a review?  He stands just shy of 8 inches tall and has 27 points of articulation.  His sculpt was shared with the several other variants of this particular design, and it’s a pretty good one.  Honestly, the Cylon Centurion sculpt is really the crown jewel of this entire line.  Without a questionably-implemented likeness to hold it back, the Centurion is free to just be pretty darn accurate recreation of the design from the show.  The details are crisp and clean, and even the articulation’s not bad, and that was something DST was still struggling with at this point.  There’s still something of a learning curve to getting decent poses out of him, and he’s not the sturdiest figure I’ve ever owned, but I can definitely dig the sculpt DST turned in here.  In terms of paint, the Centurion is a slightly cleaner model than we tended to see on the show, but virtue of the Red Stripes having spent a lot of their time on the base ships prior to “Daybreak” pulling them into battle.  It further highlights the cleanness of the sculpt, and really looks sleek.  The stripe is just a solid stripe of red, but I appreciate that it actually looks like someone quickly painted it on, as it did in the show.  The Centurion is packed with two different sets of hands: one set open, one set in fists.  There aren’t as frightening to swap back and forth as I was expecting, which I count as a definite plus.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was a slow burn on getting into the modern BSG and an even slower burn on warming up to the modern version of the Cylons.  In my defense, they actively improved how the design was implemented as the show progressed, meaning that they were at the top of their game when it came time for “Daybreak.”  Additionally, I’m a sucker for the “formerly evil robot minion works with the good guys” idea, so the Red Stripe Cylons have long been one of my favorite parts of the finale.  That said, I never had much luck with the TRU-exclusive figures from this line, so I never saw this guy new.  Fortunately for me, I work at a toy store, and that nets you all sorts of things that you don’t see otherwise.  All Time got in a collection a few months ago that included every variant of the Cylon from the line, Red Stripe included, thus allowing me to finally add this guy to my collection!

As touched on above, I got this guy from my friends All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2121: Rebel Alliance Pilot

REBEL ALLIANCE PILOT

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

In my review of the Power of the Force II A-Wing Pilot back in June, I discussed how the Rebel Pilots gained unique uniforms in Return of the Jedi after they’d all shared the same basic look for A New Hope‘s trench run.  But, they *did* all share a uniform originally, which means that toy makers will find themselves with a need to fill a few spots with generic guys in that same uniform.  That’s where today’s figure comes into play!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Rebel Alliance Pilot was available exclusively with the Target-exclusive Y-Wing Bomber, released in 2000 as an exclusive part of the Power of the Force II line.  Exclusively.  Lot of excluding going on there.  He was officially billed as “Unique Rebel Alliance Pilot,” which is rather amusing, because…well, he’s not.  He’s just definitively a generic place holder figure for all of the various unnamed pilots seen in the movie, meaning he’s exactly the sort of figure you would have every right to own multiples of, and who would therefore not be unique in the collection.  What’s more, even his molds aren’t really unique.  From the neck down, he’s identical to the 1998 Biggs Darklighter figure, which is fair, since he was our first proper New Hope-styled pilot.  The head is a new piece, at least in theory, though I myself remain unconvinced that it’s not just Biggs’ head without the mustache painted.  I’d have to actually see the Biggs head sans paint to confirm this, of course, which is a bit much for me.  Whatever the case, the two heads are certainly very similar, and this figure possess the same undersized helmet issue that Biggs had, which is consistent at the very least.  May the Rebel Pilots are just pin-headed?  For the most part, his paintwork matches Biggs, at least as far as the body is concerned, barring one color change-up on his chest monitor.  The head is different, with the skintone being molded rather than painted, and his helmet having a more generic selection of details.  Everything about the paint says “designed to fade into the crowd.”  The Pilot included no accessories, really being an accessory himself and all.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

There’s not a lot noteworthy about this figure, and that kind of extends to how I got him.  I picked him up alongside the carrying-case version of Wedge, back in December when I was on a PotF2 binge.  He’s fine.  That’s the best I can say about him.  I’m sure if I had the vehicle he was originally packed with, he’d look nice piloting it.  As it stands, he’s just one of those figures I have because I’m looking to get a full run.

#2060: Cobra B.A.T.s Army Building Set

COBRA B.A.T.S ARMY BUILDING SET

G.I. JOE VS COBRA (HASBRO)

1986 was a good year for G.I. Joe, if you’re me at least.  Not only was my all time favorite army builder, the Cobra Viper, introduced that year, but so was my second all time favorite army builder, the Cobra Battle Android Trooper, better known as the Cobra B.A.T.  After two variants in the vintage line, the B.A.T.s disappeared from G.I. Joe for over a decade, but would return triumphantly in 2002, as the backbone of Cobra’s forces during the “Sound Attack” iteration.  They got a brand-new sculpt in the main line, as well as an online-exclusive rerelease of some old molds, designed expressly for army building.  I’ll be looking at the latter today.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The Cobra B.A.T.s Army Building set was available exclusively through online retailers in 2003.  The line-up was not quite the one seen here, as it actually had one less standard B.A.T., one more Inferno B.A.T., and the commanding officer Overkill.  They were, however, all sold sealed in little baggies, which means that getting them after the fact is pretty much always going to involve buying a bunch of loose figures.

COBRA B.A.T.S

This was the fourth version of the basic B.A.T. to grace the line.  He stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has 15 points of articulation (again including an extra joint on the right forearm).  Since (most of) the original B.A.T. tooling was lost prior to the line’s re-launch in 1997 (part of the reason there was such a gap on B.A.T. figures), this figure instead is built on the body of the V2 B.A.T.  It’s not the same, and really just not as strong a design as the original, but the original was gone, and this is far from the worst substitute.  It’s overall a slightly bulked up B.A.T., apart from the head, which is actually quite a bit pared down from the usual B.A.T. design.  It’s definitely a lot less of a melding of sci-fi and military, falling more firmly on the sci-fi side.  While it results on a figure that’s more internally consistent, it does also remove some of the more definitive flair of the original concept.  This one could really be any sci-fi-robo-henchman.  The main thing that this figure does to the V2 is try and give it the V2 colors, which is an interesting experiment.  I’m not sure how I feel about a ’90s Joe sculpt that’s not done up in its proper neon.  It’s not an displeasing look at all, but it’s definitely different.  Like his predecessors, he’s got the lenticular in his torso, detailing his robotic innards, and I will say that this one is designed to stay more firmly in place than the original, which is certainly a plus.  The B.A.T.s each included an alternate gun-arm attachment, as well as a black display stand.

COBRA INFERNO B.A.T.

Not content to just give us a bunch of standard B.A.T.s, Hasbro also created a new style of B.A.T. for this set, the Inferno B.A.T.  Designed as more independently operating troops, they also had a gimmick where they were always overheating, which gave them the distinctive design we see here.  The body is the same as the standard-issue trooper, but now it’s molded in a translucent red.  It’s actually a pretty solid look, and the brighter palette just feels “right” on this sculpt.  He had the same stand as his fellow troops, but swaps out the black gun-arm for a bright red one.  I dig it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I passed on these when they were new because I was upset that they weren’t the V1 mold.  I was a picky child.  I didn’t get them until a decade after their original release, when I fished these five out of the loose Joes bin at Yesterday’s Fun.  They didn’t have a second Inferno B.A.T. or an Overkill, so I just had to make due with what I got.  They’re not my favorite versions of the B.A.T., but they’ve grown on me, and I can definitely appreciate them for what they are.

#1956: Firefly

FIREFLY

G.I. JOE: SIGMA 6

“FIREFLY is an expert in the art of sabotage and specializes in explosive devices that disable electronic systems. He worked in covert ops on missions involving computer espionage and was brought onto the SIGMA 6 Team to destroy a sophisticated computer virus created by COBRA to destabilize the world economy. He infiltrated the evil organization and blew up the base’s central electronics core, stopping the virus from being transmitted and ending all computerized COBRA activity for over a year. He became a permanent member of the SIGMA 6 Team to provide his expertise in fighting the COBRA B.A.T. troops. His Innovative Devices have provided the team with powerful weapons to deplete the ranks of these dangerous robots.”

G.I. Joe is a franchise of change.  Well, it was, anyway.  Beginning in the late ’60s, when it became unfashionable to be selling war toys, and the line had to be rebranded as “Adventure Team,” the brand became rather comfortable with re-formatting itself to suit the times.  In the early ’00s, after a decent run with a relaunch of the ARAH line, it was time to re-brand again.  In an effort to fit in more with the anime-influenced, sci-fi-heavy market of the time, Hasbro created Sigma 6, perhaps one of the most divisive incarnations of the brand in existence.  Either you love it, or you despise it, with very little room between.  Some of the changes to beloved characters drew this divisiveness out even more, and today’s focus, Firefly, was at the center of some of that conflict.  Rather than the clear cut Cobra saboteur of the ’80s, he was a member of the Joe team, with a character arc that amounted to more than the line “Cobra saboteur.”  How could this be?  They were killing the line!… You know, apart from the whole running for another year and a half after this figure’s release, and giving Hasbro the liquidity to launch the 25th Anniversary line and get the movie financed.  But yeah, it killed the line.  Let’s look at this awful thing that killed the line.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Firefly was released in the second Soldier Wave for the 2006 line-up of Sigma 6 figures, as the assortment’s one debut character.  Like most of the line, he’s based on the character’s appearance in the corresponding cartoon, albeit filtered through a slightly different stylization.  The figure stands 8 inches tall and he has 25 points of articulation.  Firefly’s sculpt was all-new to him, though it definitely shared more than a few stylistic elements with the various other Sigma Suit-sporting characters from the line.  Stylized as he may be, there are still a lot of really fun sculpted elements mixed in throughout this guy’s sculpt.  I love the differing textures on the various parts of the suit, as well as the fact that Firefly’s been given a distinct build when compared to the rest of the team.  I’m also still a fan of the cool little flip-up communicator that every team member had built-in; it was such a fun little touch.  Firefly also has one of my favorite headsculpts from this whole line; that evil smirk of his just exudes so much character, and is just so on point for him.  The modular nature of Sigma 6 was a pretty big selling point for the line, and most of the early figures have pretty involved costume pieces.  As a Soldier release (meaning he was at a lower price-point), Firefly had less pieces than some, but he was still pretty jam-packed.  He had a mask, web-gear (missing from my figure), belt, elbow and knee pads, and a set of dog tags, all of which add-up to a very unique looking figure.  By far, my favorite part is the mask, which has a very distinct flair to it, and sits so perfectly on his head.  In addition to the accents to his uniform, Firefly was armed with a nifty looking sub-machine gun (with a removable magazine and everything), plus two lightsaber-inspired torches, and a land-mine/trap gizmo.  The trap is kind of goofy and hard to use, but the gun is awesome, and the torches can be inter-locked with it for a different configuration, or the flame effects can also be removed and attached to the gun’s barrel.  There are a lot of play options here, to say the least.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Sigma 6 was a concept I loved so much, but one I never was able to actively collect when it was new.  Firefly is a figure I admired from a far for quite some time before finally being able to add a mostly complete sample to my collection late last year, courtesy of House of Fun.  There’s so much I love about this figure, and he perfectly encapsulates everything that was so great about this line.  He’s a fun re-vamp, a fun design, and just a generally fun toy.  And he most decidedly did *not* kill the brand.  That came later.  Whatever the case, I’m glad to finally have one of my own, and he really is pushing me to get more of these figures.

#1842: Snake Eyes

SNAKE EYES

G.I. JOE: 25TH ANNIVERSARY

“SNAKE EYES is proficient in 12 different unarmed fighting systems (Karate, Kung-Fu, Jujitsu) and is highly skilled in the use of edged weapons. Has received extensive training in mountaineering, underwater demolitions, jungle, desert and arctic survival, and some form of holistic medicine. Qualified Expert: All NATO and Warsaw Pact small arms.”

In 2007, Hasbro was in something of a dry patch.  Marvel Legends was all but dead, the Star Wars franchise was slowly dragging along waiting for Disney to buy it, and their in-house G.I. Joe’s re-branding as “Sigma 6” didn’t pan out quite as they’d hoped.  But, with the looming quarter-century anniversary of G.I. Joe’s A Real American Hero incarnation, they were hoping to at least have a modest, 25 figure celebration.  Little did they know that they’d inadvertently revive the brand for another five years of resounding success.  Yes, the 25th Anniversary line was the breath of fresh air that G.I. Joe needed.  Ironic, given that the whole purpose of the line was fixating on the past, but it showed Hasbro that you didn’t need to totally ditch the past to inject some modern ingenuity into the line.  Today, I’m looking at one of that line’s many, many variants of Joe heavy-hitter, Snake Eyes!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Snake Eyes was part of 2009’s 10-figure “Hall of Heroes” sub-set of the G.I. Joe: 25th Anniversary line.  He was figure 10 of 10, bookending the assortment, which featured another Snake Eyes as figure 1 of 10.  Even in the limited engagement sub-line, there were still two different Snake Eyes variants!  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 22 points of articulation.  Sculpturally, he’s the same figure as the initial boxed-set 25th Snake Eyes, based on Snake’s original 1982 appearance.  After years of him being a pretty straight ninja, it walked him back to being a commando, who I guess would make more sense on a military task force.  That figure’s sculpt was very good, with tons of great little details littered all throughout.  The mask has tiny little vents at the front, his goggles are now clearly a separate piece, and you can even make out the stitching on his cowl.  His proportions are far more true to life than either the vintage or ‘00s lines, and the use of rubber overlay pieces for his web gear mean his gear has a much higher level of detailing, and he can even properly stow some of his weapons, something of a rarity in prior offerings.  The original Snake Eyes figure was actually part of the assortment as a cost-saving measure; a figure that required no paint applications.  This figure operates as a send-up to that, being predominately molded in straight black plastic.  He’s not completely without paint, though, as that would look rather cheap on a modern figure.  He’s got the slightest bit of accenting on his buckles, and the rim of his goggles.  It’s very subtle, enough that you might miss it, allowing him to maintain the same look as his original figure, while still maintaining that ever so slight extra detailing.  Snake Eyes is packed with a knife, handgun, uzi, and satchel, as well as a display stand with the G.I. Joe logo and his name printed on the front.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Remember a few weeks ago when I was talking about All Time getting in a large collection of vintage Joes?  Well, this past week they followed it up with a collection of 25th Anniversary Joes.  As a huge shock to everyone, I’m sure, I didn’t come home with a huge stack of Vipers this time.  Nope, just this guy, who was one of a handful of Snake Eyes variants sitting at the bottom of the box.  He’s a very nice figure, just like all of the Snake Eyeses built on this body.  Hasbro really was at the top of their game here, and it resulted in great figures, even when they just were minor re-paints like this guy.

This guy was loaned to me for review by All Time Toys.  Like I mentioned above, they just got in a collection of these, which they’ve got available on their eBay Store.  So, if you want Snake Eyes or some of his other compatriots, check them out there.  Of course, I make no promises about this particular Snake Eyes, because he may or may not be staying in my collection.  And, if you’re more in the market for something new, also check out their website.

#1837: Abe Sapien

ABE SAPIEN

HELLBOY (MEZCO)

Man, I’ve gone almost the whole month of October without looking at anything all that spooky.  That in and of itself seems pretty spooky, right?  No?  Okay, fair enough.  Anyway, within the spirit of the month, I guess I’ll look at something from the more paranormal side of things, with another visit to the world of Hellboy, a series that blends so many of my personal interests.  Today, I’m looking at my favorite character from the Hellboy-verse, Abraham Sapien!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Abe Sapien was released as part of the first series of Mezo’s movie-based Hellboy line.  There were two different Abes available, one standard release (shirtless), and one Previews-Exclusive release.  Today’s review focuses on the exclusive release, which allowed for (more or less) a fully-suited up Abe.  The figure stands 7 3/4 inches tall and he has 25 points of articulation.  He has the same articulation as the Kroenen figure I looked at a few years back, which means he has the same pluses and minuses as that figure.  Overall, it’s standard for the time, but there remain a few odd-ball joints that subsequent lines from Mezco would re-work or drop entirely.  Some of these joints, the mid-foot cut joints in particular, were a little fragile and prone to breakage, as was the case with one of my Abe’s feet.  Fortunately, it’s one of the less essential joints, so gluing the foot back together hasn’t robbed him of all that much.  Abe’s sculpt was shared between the two variants, and then re-tooled for the battle-damaged figure from Series 1.5 and the main Abe from Hellboy 2.  It’s a pretty solid sculpt overall.  It’s filtered a bit through the lens of Mezco’s more stylized sensibilities, so he’s a little ganglier, and a little more angular than he was in the movie.  There are two heads included with the figure.  Since this Abe is meant to be the fully kitted-out Abe, he comes wearing his goggled head, which is accompanied by the two pieces of his rebreather system.  The rebreather can easily removed by popping off the head, allowing the head to be displayed without it, if that’s your prerogative. By virtue of being a straight re-paint, he lacks the gloves and shoes that Abe should technically have in this set-up, but I suppose we can all just imagine that he’s decided to forego those pieces for the day. The paint is, of course, imperative here, since it separates him from the standard release.  The first Hellboy figures were a bit more reserved in coloring than later counterparts.  Abe in particular seems to have been toned down a fair bit from his on-screen appearance.  His blues are more murky, which makes him a little less eye catching.  I do like the shiny finish they’ve given him, but beyond that, he does sort of run together a bit more than I’d like.  Of course, he’s still far from terrible.  Abe is packed with a second head, sans the goggles, and also included a belt, but mine seems to have gone missing.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I came into the first Hellboy movie with no familiarity of the source material, so I didn’t know what to expect.  Retailers didn’t either, so the figures weren’t the easiest to track down.  I never found the basic Abe, but I was fortunate enough to get this one through a friend who worked at Diamond.  He’s a decent figure, but perhaps not as strong as the Kroenen figure I looked at before.  Admitedly, my opinion may be slightly colored, since there are a greater number of Abes on the market to choose from.  Still, you could do a lot worse than this one.

#1825: Red Skull

RED SKULL

MARVEL LEGENDS (TOY BIZ)

“Trained by the black-hearted Adolf Hitler himself, the Red Skull and his fearsome visage were intended as a symbol of Nazi supremacy. During World War II, his unparalleled evil genius only could be matched by his arch-foe: the star-spangled Super-Soldier called Captain America. After failing to tip the wartime balance of power in favor of the forces of tyranny, the Red Skull spent decades in suspended animation – awakening in present day to enslave humanity and resurrect the power of the Third Reich!”

Nazis.  I hate these guys.

Back in 2014, when I was only 11 reviews in on Marvel Legends, I looked at the then-most-recent-version of Red Skull.  Now, four and a half years and 270 Legends reviews later, I’m going all the way back to the beginning, and taking a look at Johan’s very first Legends treatment.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Red Skull was released in Series 5 of Toy Biz’s Marvel Legends.  After three series of the “chase” figure being a variant of a main figure from the line-up, they’d introduced the concept of a secret, separate character chase figure with Series 4’s Goliath.  But, while that figure was just a simple repaint of the Marvel Collector’s Editions Giant-Man, their next go, Red Skull, would be a brand-new character with a “new” sculpt.  Why the quotes?  I’ll get to that.  As the “chase” figure, Red Skull wasn’t actually advertised at all on any of the packaging, making him an unknown offering to a great number of collectors, I’m sure.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and has 18 points of articulation.  Now, right off the bat, we run into the issue of articulation.  Toy Biz Legends were regularly boasting upwards of 30 points of articulation, so the Skull being below 20 is definitely notable.  What’s more, the distribution is really whacked out; 10 of those points are in the legs. Heck, he’s got toe joints, but no double joints on the knees and elbows, and even just cut joints on the shoulders and hips.  Why such odd articulation choices?  Re-used parts.  Red Skull is made up of a combination of the upper half of the X-Men: Movie Series Professor X and the Legends Series 3 Daredevil.  The Xavier body was three years old by this point, and from a line that was comparatively under-scaled.  And while the DD parts might have been a genuine Legends release, even the original felt out of place at the time of his release, and the parts also feel out of place for the Skull.  Red Skull also had a new head and hands, an add-on piece for his coat, and the Dr Doom holster stuck to his right leg, all in the name of separating him further from the figures that birthed him.  Unfortunately, even the new pieces don’t quite seem at home.  The head is too large for the body, and has no real neck to speak of.  The jacket piece, conversely, seems to sit too high on his body, leaving a good portion of his awkwardly designed hip joints still exposed, further exaggerating the largeness of the head, and the mix-and-match nature of the body.  On the plus side, the paint’s kind of decent, I guess.  The head in particular makes out pretty well.  Going for something other than a straight red seems to have worked out nicely.  Red Skull was packed with his peak cap, a pistol (borrowed from Dr. Doom), and the same display stand that was included with Cap, but in a different color scheme.  He also included a reprint of Captain America #16.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Series 5 is around the time that the magic of Marvel Legends was starting to wear off for me, thanks in no small part to this crazy “chases” thing that they introduced.  I was lucky with Red Skull.  My dad was at a comic show, and happened to find him for a somewhat reasonable price from a dealer.  Even new, he wasn’t great.  Toy Biz definitely made a lot of missteps on this one.  He’s a reminder that, as great as some of those figures were, Toy Biz’s Legends had some real stinkers.  Also, behold the start of the trend of crappy Red Skull Legends that perpetuates to this day.

#1821: Cobra Viper

COBRA VIPER

G.I. JOE: SPY TROOPS (HASBRO)

“Ripping up the roads on their COBRA VENOM CYCLE vehicles, COBRA VIPER members like to think of themselves as a biker gang with the most technologically advanced hogs on the planet”

Here we are at the finish line.  Just one more entry in my insane 6-in-1 Day of the Vipers reviews!  Oh yeah, I did it!

In 2003, the G.I. Joe line once again rebranded, taking on the heading “Spy Troops.”  Joes and Cobras were given infiltration gear and disguises, and it was all very spy-y.  Well, it was mostly spy-y.  Some of it was not at all spy-y at all.  The the Viper’s one release during the line’s run fell into that non-spy area.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Cobra Viper was released as a pack-in figure with the Cobra Venom Cycle, a small-scale vehicle from the Spy Troops line.  The cycle was undoubtedly the selling point, but I don’t have it, I just have the Viper.  For I am a mad man.  He’s the same basic figure I’ve looked at three previous times today, the tweaked V5 Viper mold that Hasbro would continue to use for another three years after this.  Hey, they had a good formula down, right?  The big difference, of course, was the paint scheme.  He’s got this olive sort of thing going on, which is right in line with the overall look of most of the Spy Troops figures.  At first glance, he looks a little bit like the Turquoise Viper from ’02, but if he’d been left out in the sun.  That being said, I do actually quite like this color scheme, and have generally found myself kind of drawn to this figure.  Since he was just a pack-in with a vehicle, the Viper didn’t come with any accessories of his own.  Maybe he’s like the pacifist of the group, or something?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This was the last figure I dug out of the collection at All Time.  I had just about called it on getting any more Vipers, and I looked down and saw this guy staring at me.  With no accessories of his own, he was an easier grab than some of the others, and I’ll admit, I was just thoroughly broken at that point.  There’s not really anything to distinguish him from the rest, but he’s a Viper, and a kinda neat one at that.  He rounds out the set nicely.

So, there you have it: nine new Vipers, courtesy of my friends at All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for old Joes (provided that you don’t want Vipers, because seriously, I’ve cleaned them out) or if you’re looking for other cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.