#1662: Batman

BATMAN

SUPER POWERS (KENNER)

“Batman, The Caped Crusader.  Powers: Accomplished acrobat, a keen detective’s mind, ace criminologist, martial arts expert. Has utility belt with scientific crime-fighting equipment.  Weaknesses: Mortal.  Enemies: Joker, Penguin, Riddler, Catwoman, The Scarecrow, Two-Face.  Secret Identity: Bruce Wayne.”

Kenner’s Super Powers is undoubtedly the greatest DC toyline ever.  Yet somehow, I’ve only managed to review five figures from the line.  Those are rookie numbers!  I gotta pump those numbers up!  To do that, I’m going to look at by far the most toyetic character in the whole line (though, amusingly, not the character in the line with two figures; that’s Superman), Batman!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Batman was released in the first series of Super Powers figures. With himself, his sidekick, and two of his villains, Batman’s corner of the DCU was the most fleshed out in the first series.  He, like the rest of the standard DC characters in the line, was based on his Jose Garcia-Lopez-illustrated entry in the 1982 DC Style Guide.  It’s Batman’s yellow-circled, capsule-belted, short-eared, light blue-shaded Silver Age design, which had been in use for 20 years at the time of this figure’s release.  That’s a pretty good run, and a pretty good choice.  The figure stands 4 3/4 inches tall and he has 7 points of articulation.  Batman’s sculpt matches the rest of the line, in that it’s totally unique to him, and while it’s certainly a product of its time, it doesn’t look half bad under modern day scrutiny.  As with both Superman and Wonder Woman, he’s a little wider than his Garcia-Lopez-drawn self.  It seems most evident on Batman, since at the time he was usually depicted as rather svelte, especially when compared to the likes of Superman.  That being said, I do like that he’s distinctively smaller in build than Superman; a lot of lines these days don’t observe that.  The head’s probably the weakest part of the sculpt, being kind of squat, and having a chin that makes him look a bit too much like the Tick.  It’s worth noting that when Kenner repurposed this sculpt for their Batman and Batman Returns lines, the head was the one part they replaced outright (though part of that was undoubtedly to add a more Keaton-inspired head to the figure).  Like all the caped figures in this line, Batman had a cloth cape, attached by a rather bulky clip at the neck.  Mine’s a little worse for wear; when he was new, the color of the cape matched the rest of the figure a bit better.  I don’t think his cape worked quite as well as some of the line’s other figures, but it’s serviceable.  Batman’s paint continues the Super Powers trend of being clean, and very bright.  He definitely stands out on a shelf.  Batman of course got an action feature, dubbed the “Power Action Bat Punch.”  It’s the exact same feature used on Superman, down to having essentially the same name (though Batman adds and Adam West-style “Bat” descriptor to the name).  Not particularly inventive or anything, but it works.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Batman came late in the game of my Super Powers collecting.  I had plenty of other versions of the character, so he didn’t have the same appeal as some of the others.  Like so many of the line, he was a Christmas present from my parents.  I had specifically asked for him and Green Arrow that year.  They both arrived, as part of a larger lot that also got me Superman and Wonder Woman, as well as a number of accessories I’d been missing up to that point.  Batman was never really the star attraction there, but he’s always been a solid support figure, and he’s definitely one of the best versions of the character out there!

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#1628: Man-At-Arms

MAN-AT-ARMS

MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE (MATTEL)

“Man-At-Arms aka Duncan was a mentor to the young Prince Adam as well as a foster father to Teela.”

Most of my knowledge of Masters of the Universe comes from the 2002 reboot of the franchise, which served as my introduction to the context, and also provided the backbone of my MotU collection.  As such, most of my reviews here on the site have also been from the 2002 series.  Today, I’m going into less charted territory, and looking at a vintage offering.  So, let’s look at He-Man’s mentor, Man-At-Arms!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Man-At-Arms was part of the first assortment of Masters of the Universe figures, released in 1982.  The figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  MotU was largely about getting as many uses out the same few bodies as possible, and Man-At-Arms follows suit.  He uses the standard Barbarian body (seen on the previously reviewed Tri-Klops figure), meaning he’s got those same goofy, overly-muscled proportions seen on the rest of the line.  They picked a style and they stuck with it.  Man-At-Arms had a new head, as well as add-on pieces for his chest, shoulder, and shin armor (mine’s missing the shin armor).  The head is infamously missing Duncan’s signature mustache, present on all other incarnations of the character, due to the figure’s design being put into production before Filmation added the mustache for the cartoon.  It results in a slightly different look for Duncan, but not an outright terrible one or anything.  The helmet has some pretty decent detail work going on, as do the clip-on armor pieces.  Man-At-Arms has a pretty simple paint scheme.  For the most part, he’s just molded in the appropriate colors, with only his face, helmet, belt, and boots getting any actual paint.  Application is mostly pretty clean, but the boots in particular have some definite slop.  The armor has no paint at all, making it look rather cheap and goofy, which is a real shame given how much detail went into the sculpt.  Man-At-Arms included a mace, to be held in his right hand.  It was the same color as his armor, and a little small and non-threatening, but I guess if you have muscles like that, you can afford for your weapons to be small and non-threatening.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

With the exception of a few personal favorite characters, the vintage Masters line isn’t one I really go out looking for.  That being said, the 2nd Ave Thrift store nearby seems to have gotten in someone’s ’80s toy collection, which has been slowly trickling out.  This guy and a few others popped up, and for a few bucks for the set, I felt like I could do a lot worse.  This line’s not totally my thing, but Man-At-Arms isn’t a bad figure.

#1524: Flash

FLASH

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

“Flash is highly skilled in many aspects of electronic technology and is capable of equipment repair in the field. Specialized Education: Electronics School; Chemical School; Covert Electronics. Qualified Expert: M-16; M-1911A1; XMLR-1A (Shoulder-Fired Laser Rifle).”

In 1982, Hasbro was looking to revitalize their G.I. Joe brand.  Two different iterations of the 12-inch line had come and gone, and the market just wasn’t there for the style.  What the market totally *was* there for, however, was 3 3/4 inch figures, which had been super-popularized, courtesy of a little movie called Star Wars.  So, Hasbro partnered with writer Larry Hama and created a brand new iteration of G.I. Joe, dubbed A Real American Hero.  Now the Joes weren’t just your average soldiers, but were instead a group of specialized operatives, each with their own style and code name.  The line began with 13 figures, built from a common pool of parts.  Today, I’ll be looking at one of those 13, the Laser Rifle specialist, code-named “Flash”*

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Flash was released in the original 1982 assortment of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. Unlike many of his compatriots, this wound up being his only figure for 23 years (well, apart from his 1983 re-issue, which I’ll touch on in a second).  Flash stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 12 points of articulation.  That articulation count’s a little lower than usual for a vintage Joe.  Why’s that?  The first year of Joes didn’t sport the swivel arms that became a standard for the line in ’83.  These original releases are known as “Straight-Arm” figures, and are an interesting quirk of the earliest offerings in the line.  All of the straight-arm figures would see swivel-arm re-releases in ’83 to help bring them up to date, so there’s two versions of our boy Flash out there.  The lack of swivels does impact posablility, of course, but I didn’t find it to be quite as restricting as I’d expected; I guess I’m just used to my Micronauts.  Another change in motion is the neck joint.  Later figures got actual ball-jointed necks, but the earlier guys just had swivels.  Not a huge difference, but certainly a noticeable one.  In terms of construction, Flash doesn’t actually have much that’s unique to him.  His head was shared with Hawk, Shortfuse, and Steeler.  It’s a reasonable enough piece, and generic enough that changing the hair color is really all that’s needed to make him look different.  I certainly prefer it to his 25th Anniversary sculpt.  The lower legs were shared with Snake Eyes (they’re just generic boots, so it works fine), and the rest of his sculpt is shared with Grand-Slam.  As Grand-Slam was his fellow laser trooper, it’s a pretty sensible re-use, since they’re presumably both in uniform.  The sculpting on this guy is indicative of the time.  The details are a little soft by modern standards, and proportions are less traditionally heroic.  But, if you know what you’re getting into, it’s all about standard for the vintage line.  In terms of paint, Flash is mostly basic work, but it’s all pretty clean, and surprisingly bold for the line.  A lot of the early figures had very washed out palettes, but Flash gets some bright red to keep things a bit more interesting.  Flash was packed with a removable helmet (with flip-up visor), a back-pack, and his laser rifle, which my figure happily still has all of.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Flash has been on my list for a little while.  He was ranked as #16 on ToyFare magazine’s “Top 20 G.I. Joe Toys,” which is what really got him on my radar.  Since then, I’ve been on the look out for him, albeit at a reasonable price.  I ended up getting him very recently, courtesy of Lost In Time Toys, during one of their December sales.  He was in a case of items marked 50% off, meaning I got him for about $10, which is great for a vintage Joe.  Unfortunately, when I opened him, I discovered the o-ring holding him together had dry-rotted.  As luck would have it, Hasbro used standard parts for these guys, so all I needed to do was run over to Home Depot and pick up a box of #9 plumber’s o-rings, which ran me about $2 and took me less than 20 minutes to swap out with the old one.  It was actually pretty awesome to get to rehabilitate this guy, and now he’s ship-shape, and hands down one of my favorite Joes in my collection.

*DC was a bit less productive of their trademarks at this point, I suppose.  Future figures of this character would all add a rank of Sergeant to his name to denote him from the scarlet speedster.

#1388: Clark Kent

CLARK KENT

SUPER POWERS (KENNER)

Ah, the Mail Away figure.  There’s a largely abandoned concept.  It hasn’t been dead for as long as you might think (Hasbro had a few in their various Star Wars lines a few years back), but it’s kind of fallen out of fashion, especially with the introduction of Build-A-Figures.  The concept was an intriguing way of getting an extra figure out there, but was actually born out of the a need to help move figures at retail.  Need to sell extra stock?  There’s no better way to do that than to offer a reward to customers who buy it in a certain quantity.  Today, I’ll be taking a look at one of the earlier mail-away offerings, courtesy of one of my very favorite toy lines ever, Super Powers!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Clark Kent was offered as a mail away item in 1986, coinciding with the third series of Kenner’s Super Powers line.  He was the second mail away figure to be offered in the line, but unlike his predecessor Steppenwolf, he remained exclusive to the mail away offer and never saw a carded release.  The figure stands about 4 1/2 inches tall and he has 7 points of articulation.  Like the rest of the line, his sculpt was unique to him.  The head shares a number of traits in common with the Superman from the line, which is a very nice touch, and is kind of the linchpin in selling this guy as a Clark Kent.  The plastered-on combover looks suitably dorky, and the glasses actually don’t look terrible.  The body is a decent generic suited body; I’m not sure it has quite the same stature as the standard Superman.  Perhaps Kenner was hoping to re-use it for other characters down the line?  I don’t know.  It’s certainly not a bad sculpt at all.  The paintwork on Clark is fairly straightforward.  The color scheme has the same basics as Superman, swapping out white for the yellow.  It’s all nice and bright and it stands out pretty nicely and fits in well with the rest of the line.  All of the application is nice and clean for the most part, apart from some slight wear here and there.  Clark included no accessories, but he *did* have the requisite Super Powers action feature; when you squeeze his legs, his arms swing in opposite directions.  Not really sure what it’s supposed to be, but it does make for a kind of goofy fast-walking, late for work sort of motion.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve been steadily working on a full set of Super Powers figures, and Clark’s not one of the easier ones to track down.  I’ve seen him once or twice, but he’s usually a little pricey.  I saw one at Yesterday’s Fun this summer, and was sort of thinking about getting him, but wasn’t sure.  Remember how I said my family were too good to me?  Well, the day after seeing this guy at Yesterday’s Fun, my Dad presented me with a bag of figures I’d put back, this guy included, with the words “your Granddad would have wanted you to have this.”  I guess I can’t really argue with that.  Is he the most exciting figure of all time?  No.  Is he fun?  Yes.  Do I love this figure?  Most certainly.

#1386: Roy Fokker

ROY FOKKER

ROBOTECH (MATCHBOX)

“Heroic commander of the famed ‘Skull Squadron’ assigned the monumental task of defending SDF-1. He is the classic definition of a hero. He is also able to transcend his heroic mold to be human and compassionate. He likes to tease his friends especially Rick Hunter, and create a feeling of general camaraderie. His raw courage and skill as a fighter pilot is matched only by Maximillian Sterling.”

Once upon a time, Matchbox was more than just a brand of die cast cars.  They were actually their own toy company outright.  Around the mid-80s, they tried their hand at making action figures, offering up a rather eclectic selection of properties.  They never hit any major success, and were ultimately absorbed into Mattel.  Anyway, amongst their selection of properties was Robotech, a recent discovery of mine.  Last time I wrote a Robotech review, I looked at one of the cool fighter robot Veritech Fighters.  Today, I’ll be looking at that very fighter’s pilot, Commander Roy Fokker!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Roy Fokker was released in the basic series of Matchbox’s Robotech line in 1986 (a slightly tweaked version was later offered in 1992, as part of Harmony Gold’s re-release line).  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  Roy’s construction makes use of a rubber band assembly, similar to the style popularized by GI Joe’s A Real American Hero incarnation.  As Matchbox was not quite as established a player in the industry as Hasbro, the figure isn’t quite as strong an offering.  The articulation is more obvious and slightly more limited, and the proportions are a bit more off (slightly large head, small torso, long arms, etc.)  He’s definitely a dated looking figure.  Not a bad looking figure, of course, provided this sort of style appeals to you.  Fortunately, it’s the sort of style that’s right up my alley.  Stylization aside, he’s got a pretty respectable likeness of Roy from the show, which is really the most important element.  The paint work on this figure is fairly basic overall, but decent nonetheless.  Aside from his skin being a little on the pale side, the colors match pretty well with the source material, and the application is generally pretty clean.  There’s a bit of wear on my figure, most noticeably on the straps on his torso, but that’s nothing out of the ordinary fro a figure of this vintage.  Roy was originally packed with both his pilot’s helmet and a gun, but my figure lacks both of these pieces.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After finding the Last Stand VF-1S, I was on the lookout for some more Robotech.  Unfortunately, like I noted in that figure’s review, they aren’t the most common items to find.  I’ve been checking out my usual toy store stops, in the the hopes of finding a few more of the Toynami Veritechs, but so far I’ve had no luck.  I did, however, find this guy at Yesterday’s Fun while I was on vacation, which was pretty sweet.  He’s a goofy figure, but I like goofy figures, so he works for me.  Now I’ve got a pilot to go with the fighter!

#1367: Falcon

THE FALCON

MARVEL SUPER HEROES: SECRET WARS (MATTEL)

“Transported to a strange planet by a force from beyond the universe, earth’s deadliest villains try to destroy the Marvel Super Heroes – as they fight the Secret Wars through the use of secret messages!”

Before Toy Biz came along and gave us just about every single Marvel character under the sun in the ‘90s, there was a very eclectic selection of Marvel characters available in toy format.  Major characters went completely figureless for years.  And yet, in the chaos of pre-Toy Biz Marvel stuff, somehow The Falcon, a relatively minor character until very recently, wound up with not one, but two whole figures.  I’ll be looking at the second of those, courtesy of Mattel’s Secret Wars line.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Falcon was released in the second series of Marvel Super Heroes: Secret Wars, alongside the previously reviewed Daredevil, Black Costume Spider-Man, and Baron Zemo.  As with DD and Zemo, Falcon is another character in the line who wasn’t present in the maxi-series at all.  Not sure why they went with so many non-series stars, but if it gets me a Falcon figure, I won’t complain.  The figure stands about 4 1/2 inches tall and has 7 points of articulation, counting the wings.  He’s built on the same basic body as most of the line, at least for the torso and legs, anyway.  His arms are from Captain America, and his head was an all-new sculpt.  The head is sort of iffy.  I think part of the problem is that he’s the only Secret Wars figure to incorporate hair, and Mattel clearly wasn’t up to hair in terms of sculpting prowess.  He’s also rather wide, and somewhat nondescript.  The standard torso’s been tweaked slightly to allow for the attachment of his wings.  The wings don’t really follow the usual layout for Falcon; his wings have classically been attached to his arms, but these are purely attached to his back, sticking straight out like Angel or Hawkman’s wings.  I find it doesn’t look as cool as his traditional look, but doing them the right way wouldn’t have really been possible given the constraints of the base body.  The paint on Falcon is about on par with the rest of the line, which is to say it’s passable, but far from stellar.  The colors sort of run together, I find, and for whatever reason his shoes are the same color as his skin.  He’s also missing any detailing on the eyes, which comes across as incredibly cheap and lazy in my opinion.  Also, like all of the other figures I’ve looked at, this guy’s exhibiting some rather noticeable paint wear, a symptom of the lower quality paint that was used.  The worst of it’s the missing spot on the nose, which is a little frustrating, but far from horrible.  He was originally packed with his sidekick Redwing, as well as one of the goofy lenticular shields.  Mine has neither, but I can’t really say I’m hurting for either piece.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Falcon is a figure that’s eluded me for quite some time.  Cosmic Comix got one in about a decade ago, which I wanted to get, but decided to come back for later.  Sadly, he was gone when I got back, and not long after I discovered that he’s actually one of the rarer releases from the line.  I was able to finally track him down, courtesy of Heywood Comics in Asheville, NC.  He’s not in perfect condition, but he’s decent enough that I’m happy with him.  The figure’s not one of Mattel’s stronger offerings, but I can’t say he’s out of place with this line.  He could be worse.

#1359: VF-1S Roy Fokker – Last Stand

VF-1S ROY FOKKER – LAST STAND

ROBOTECH: VERITECH SUPER POSABLE FIGURE (TOYNAMI)

For someone who’s so hardcore into media that has to do with giant robot fighting suits, you’d probably assume that I’d be all about Robotech.  Truth be told, I only actually started watching the show a month ago.  I’ve absolutely been loving it; I can’t really say why I put off watching it for quite so long.  Anyway, there are a ton of Robotech toys out there.  They aren’t the most common items to find, since there’s a pretty big fanbase that collects them, but every so often you do find the occasional stray figure, and I was fortunate enough to do so.  Today, I’ll be looking at the Veritech fighter of my personal favorite character from the show, Roy Fokker.  So, let’s look at the figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

In 2001, Toynami picked up the license for Robotech, and they put out a line dubbed Robotech: Veritech Super Posable Figures.  Roy Fokker’s VF-1S was from that line.  This particular version is dubbed the “Last Stand” version, presumably based on Episode 18 of the series, which contains Roy’s final stand and eventual demise (spoilers, I guess).  The figure was released as an exclusive through ToyFare magazine, as a way of promoting the line.  Sculpturally, the VF-1S is the same figure as the standard release, just with a tweaked paint job.  The figure stands about 7 inches tall (largely due to his splayed legs; he’d be closer to 8 standing straight) and he has 22 points of articulation.  It’s somewhat amusing to see this figure branded as “super-posable” in this day and age, given his lack of a number of joints that are kind of essential in this day and age.  The most egregious omission is the lack of anything beyond cut joints on the hips, which means he’s perpetually stuck in this slightly splayed-leg-pose.  It’s far from the worst thing ever, and there’s no denying that he’s highly posable in several other areas, but it’s still a little limiting.  For the time, though, it was actually pretty amazing, so credit where credit is due.  The sculpt on this guy is really solid work; he pretty closely follows the show’s design and the detail work is all really sharp and geometric, just like it should be.  The joints are also worked in very nicely, but that’s just a matter of keeping consistent with the character design (which isn’t exactly something that’s always done; looking at you, Hasbro!).  This is a non-transforming figure, so he’s always in robot mode (which is the cool mode), but the important elements that remain from the original mode are still there, and very nicely detailed.  They’ve even made his skull leader insignia a raised element, to help differentiate him from the other Veritechs.  There are a few mold lines that I wish were a little less obvious, but beyond that, I’m very happy with the sculpt.  The paint is what differentiates this from the normal release; where the basic figure was clean and shiny, this figure depicts Roy after he takes a beating.  There’s a bunch of heavy shading and burn marks, as well as some pretty amazing bullet holes and puncture wounds.  Those are all still just painted on, but are quite convincing as actual damage to the figure.  I find that all of this extra work really does a lot to bring out the strengths of the sculpt and makes for an all-around more visually interesting figure.  Roy’s VF-1S is packed with three sets of hands in fists, trigger finger, and open gesture poses, as well as his rifle, which has adjustable pieces, allowing it to be held in his hand or slung over his shoulder.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As noted in the intro, I only got into Robotech very recently, so I didn’t get this guy new (though I do recall when he was offered in ToyFare, since I was a subscriber at the time).  Instead, I found him just a few weeks ago at this awesome place around the corner from me called Lost In Time Toys.  My brother got their card at AwesomeCon and we went to check them out and just happened to catch them in the middle of a moving sale.  This guy was amongst the handful of items still yet to be moved, so I got him for half of his usual price, which was a pretty darn good deal.  I will admit, I was a little annoyed by the hips when I got him out of the box, but other than that small issue, I just can’t help but love this guy.  I foresee myself tracking down more of this line.

#1340: Superman

SUPERMAN

SUPER POWERS (KENNER)

“The Man of Steel – Powers: Super-strength, super-vision (x-ray vision, telescopic vision, heat vision, microscopic vision), invulnerability, flight, super-speed, super-breath, super-senses, super-voice, super-intellect – Weaknesses: Green Kryptonite can kill Superman, Red “K” affects him in bizarre ways, Gold “K” takes away hi powers. Superman’s invulnerability does not protect him against magic. Superman loses his powers in a solar system with a red sun.”

I gotta be honest, I’m a little bit shocked by how few Super Powers figures I’ve looked at on the site.  I mean, I only have so many of them, so they can’t get reviewed all the time.  Anyway, as I’ve mentioned a few times before (I think, anyway), it’s one of my very favorite lines of action figures, and it gets my vote for THE definitive DC-based toyline.  In particular, it provides perhaps the best figures available of a number of DC top-tier characters, including the Man of Steel himself, Superman!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Superman was released in Series 1 of Kenner’s Super Powers line.  Like the rest of the line, he’s based on Superman’s entry in the 1982 DC Style Guide (drawn by the consistently fantastic Jose Garcia-Lopez), which is really just the same look Supes had been sporting for almost 50 years at that point, and would go on to sport for another 30.  Stylistically, of course, he’s very much a Bronze Age Superman, but that’s something only the most dedicated of fans is really going to care about.  The figure stands about 4 3/4 inches tall and he has 7 points of articulation.  Superman’s sculpt is definitely top notch; while he’s a little wider than the Garcia-Lopez Superman seen on the packaging, he’s no less well rendered.  Like the rest of the line, he is, of course, a completely unique sculpt (and also like so many in this line, this sculpt would be slightly tweaked and re-used for Toy Biz’s DC Super Heroes line).  The head has a nice, friendly but strong look about it, which is really just perfect for Superman, and his musculature is actually pretty well balanced.  The arms are a little weird, with the preposing and the somewhat unnaturally upright fists, but they don’t look awful.  The cape is a separate, cloth piece.  It’s done the same way as all of the other capes in this line were done: flat fabric with a little plastic clip impeded in the collar.  It’s a kind of a dated look, since it’s not how such things are rendered anymore, but it’s not bad, and I particularly dig the S-emblem on the back of it.  In terms of paint, Superman is bright and colorful, and pretty clean.  My personal figure has a little wear on a few spots, but he’s generally held up pretty well.  As with all Super Powers figures, Superman has an action feature, dubbed the “Power Action Punch.”  When you squeeze his legs together, his arms rotate in opposing directions.  It’s not as clever as some others, but it’s still pretty fun.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

My first Super Powers Superman was actually not a Super Powers Superman at all, but rather the Toy Biz copy, which I fished out of a loose toy bin at Universal Comics when I was about 5 or 6.  At the time, I didn’t quite know the difference between the two yet.  A few years later, this guy was part of a large lot of Super Powers figures that I got for Christmas, and I at that point recognized the difference between the two, so this guy was added to my collection.  He didn’t have his cape, so he actually has the Toy Biz one (which was pretty much the same).  I quite like this guy, and as I noted in the intro, he’s one of my favorite Supermen.

#1233: Princess Leia Organa – Bespin Gown

PRINCESS LEIA ORGANA — BESPIN GOWN

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (KENNER)

2016 was pretty unrelenting when it came to celebrity deaths (and, sadly, 2017 seems to be continuing the trend).  The one that me the hardest personally was undoubtedly Carrie Fisher, an actress I had come to admire more and more with every passing day.  She was truly awesome.  Truly, there is no better way to celebrate an awesome person than with action figures, and, thanks to Star Wars, Carrie was privy to quite a few of them.  Today’s focus figure is one of the earliest, coming from Kenner’s Empire Strikes Back line of figures.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

This Leia figure is one of the two Leias released in Kenner’s Empire Strikes Back line (the other is her Hoth attire, reviewed here).  This one depicts Leia in the gown she was given by Lando when she and the rest of the Millennium Falcon’s passengers arrived on Bespin.  It’s not as prominent a look as the Hoth gear (which she spends most of the movie’s runtime wearing), but it’s certainly unique, and, if nothing else, was an excuse to release a Leia figure in a color other than white.  It’s actually a rather infrequent look for Leia figures, with only a handful of figures over the years.  Still, Han and Luke both got Hoth and Bespin figures, so Leia was due two figures as well.  The figure stands a little over 3 1/2 inches tall and has the usual 5 points of articulation.  Bespin Leia was an all-new sculpt.  Like every other figure in the vintage line, there’s definitely a degree of stylization going on here, especially in how the outfit has been rendered.  With that being said, she’s not as far off from the film design as her first film predecessor.  The basics of the sculpt are pretty good.  She doesn’t really look a whole lot like Carrie Fisher, but she’s at least consistent with the ANH and Hoth versions.  The details on the clothes are rather on the simple side, but all of the important stuff is there, and she fits in with the rest of the line. The skirt has still been cut into a set of legs, but no longer in a way that resembles whatever the first figure was wearing.  Here, the skirt is simply cut with straight lines, as many of the other figures in this line were handled.  Also, while she’s still got the vinyl robe thing that the first figure had, it actually works a bit better with this design, which included a sleeveless cardigan-thing of a similar nature (thanks to Super Awesome Girlfriend for help IDing that piece of clothing.  Side note: she would like it noted that she’s not a fashion expert).  Sure, it wasn’t opaque pink like this one is, but it’s close enough, given the rest of the line.  It’s even got some nice printed detailing, which I believe is a unique feature to this iteration of Leia.  As far as paint, she’s once again pretty simple.  Mostly, she’s just got paint for the hair, the details of her face, and the few spots of flesh tone on the body.  Everything’s pretty clean (apart from the slight wear present on my figure).  The figure was packed with a small blaster pistol, which my figure does not have.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This Leia is a relatively recent acquisition.  I actually picked her up a few days after Carrie Fisher’s passing, from an antique store just outside of the town my family vacations in (in fact, it was the same store where Super Awesome Girlfriend bought me the ANH Leia just the year before).  It’s a figure I’ve been meaning to get, and they had this one there, and she was in pretty nice shape for the price.  I guess it was kind of part of my mourning process.  Anyway, despite this being one of her less essential looks, this was probably the best version of Leia that Kenner released.

#1231: Baron Zemo

BARON ZEMO

MARVEL SUPER HEROES: SECRET WARS (MATTEL)

zemosw1

Mattel’s Marvel Super Heroes: Secret Wars is a strange beast.  It’s one of the earliest examples of true cross-media promotion when it came to action figures and comics, since Marvel essentially created a giant cross-over event out of whole cloth simply to give Mattel a slightly easier time of marketing the toys.  But then, Mattel, being Mattel, went and made some really odd choices.  Despite Marvel purposely filling the comic with many of their heaviest hitting heroes and villains, and wrapping them in a neat and tidy package with a bow, Mattel’s character choices for the series are beyond odd.  Sure, there are the clear hits like Spider-Man, Captain America, Iron Man and Wolverine, but Marvel mainstays like the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, and the Hulk were absent, while many minor and in some cases rather recent additions to the Marvel ‘verse were released, despite playing no part in the actual comic Mattel specifically requested to have as a tie-in.  One such character was Baron Helmut Zemo.  The character was not a part of the Secret Wars event, and though he had appeared back in 1973, he had only taken on the Baron Zemo identity seen here in ’82, just two years prior to this figure’s release.  He wouldn’t even truly become a major player in the Marvel universe until three years later, during The Avengers “Under Siege” story arc.  An odd choice.  Still, he got the figure, and now, 33 years later, it feels a little less odd to have a Zemo figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

zemosw2Baron Zemo was released in the second series of the Marvel Super Heroes: Secret Wars line.  As noted above and like everyone else in the series (barring the Black Costumed Spider-Man), he played no part in the Secret Wars maxi-series.  Interestingly, though this figure is clearly meant to be Helmut, the second Baron Zemo, and the back of the package lists his identity as such, the short comic on the back of the box presents a Zemo that far more resembles Heinrich, Helmut’s father.  This was hardly the only discrepancy of this nature in this line, of course.  The figure stands about 4 1/2 inches tall and has 5 points of articulation.  Unlike Daredevil and Spider-Man, who’s presence in this line-up seems to have mostly been due to the low number of new parts needed, Zemo actually got an impressive selection of new parts.  The torso is the same basic piece seen on several of the other figures I’ve looked at, but the arms, legs, head, and belt add-on were all unique to this figure.  The new pieces of course are all still victim to the very simplistic style of this line, but Zemo looks passable enough.  There’s some mild texturing on the fur bits, and the folds on the sleeves are rather believable.  The head looks to just bee a slightly re-worked Spider-Man head, but that’s actually not an unfair re-tooling.  A basic masked head is a basic masked head.  In terms of paintwork, I suppose Mattel can have points for effort on this guy, but that’s as far as I’m willing to go.  The colors are okay, but the contrast between the mask and the jumpsuit is not as drastic as it should be.  There’s quite a bit of slot, and fuzzy lines all over the place.  Similar to what we saw on Daredevil, the black detail lines seem to start and stop wherever they please, with little regard to aesthetics.  His neck, for instance, has no details, making for a jarring break from the face and the shoulders.  Likewise, the lines have a clear break above his headpiece, which has the unintended effect of making him look like he’s got a bit of a receding hairline.  For accessories, Zemo was given one of the blasters included with Dr. Doom, as well as, what else, a goofy lenticular shield, like the ones included with every other figure in the line.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

You know how I keep claiming I never intended to really collect this line?  I think I’ve officially lost the battle, because this is the first figure I’ve bought with no real rationalization.  I got Iron Man because it was the only way to get the classic armor at the time.  Wolverine was $1.  Cap was because I like the character, and wanted him to go with Tony.  Doom and Kang were cheap.  Daredevil and Spider-Man were gifts.  Zemo?  I bought Zemo because I wanted to buy Zemo.  I picked him up from Yesterday’s Fun during the holiday season.  He’s the most I’ve ever personally spent on a Secret Wars figure (which, to be fair, was still a lot less than I’ve paid for most of my Super Powers figures).  Zemo’s what I’ve come to expect from this line: a slightly sub-par figure with a disproportionate amount of charm.  The average collector might not get a lot out of him, but to a hardcore collector like myself, there’s some nice history.