#1580: Storm

STORM

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“Super-villains have learned that this co-leader of the X-Men is perhaps the most dangerous X-Man of all because Storm has the amazing mutant power to control weather! With a quick mental command, Storm can create anything from a simple summer shower to a raging hurricane. By raising her arms she can command the winds to carry her anywhere. She is a master of unarmed combat, though she prefers to use lightning bolts and wind to stun and disarm super-villains.”

When launching their X-Men line in the ‘90s, Toy Biz jumped right into the thick of it, covering some of the most popular team members right off the bat.  Naturally, Storm, one of the very best known X-Men for quite some time now, found her way into that initial set, for better or for worse.  I’ll be looking at that figure today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

This particular Storm figure had a handful of releases.  She was originally released in Series 1 of Toy Biz’s X-Men line, wearing the black costume from the top of this review.   She was then part of the 1993 re-paint assortment, where she was done up in silver.  Then, in 95, she got another release, this time in white, as part of the X-Men: Classics assortment designed to tie-in with the Animated Series.  Regardless of color scheme, all three versions of Storm stand just shy of 5 inches tall and have 8 points of articulation.  Storm’s not really all that posable, thanks to the slightly wonky layout of the articulation.  Not only does she have the dreaded v-hips, she’s also got a rather similar scheme to her shoulders, plus her neck is rendered motionless by her light-up feature.  The actual quality of the sculpt is rather on the rudimentary side, as was the case with all of the Series 1 X-Men figures.  She’s wearing her Jim Lee-designed leather outfit, which was current for the time, and has the benefit of being rather stiff and squared off by its very nature.  This masks some of the stiffness of the sculpt, I suppose.  Still, it’s hardly the best Storm that Toy Biz put out.  As this figure was re-released, she slowly acquired more and more cape.  The original release has no cape (which would make Edna happy).  The silver gets a more wispy sort of a thing, and the last release finally gets a proper cape, much more true to her comics design.  There were three different paint schemes for this figure, with pretty much the same application across the board, apart from the main base color of the plastic.  The application is generally pretty simplistic on all three of them, but it works.  The white and silver ones both have an extra bit of yellow detailing, which offers some more pop, I suppose.  All three figures include the same light-up feature, which illuminates the lighting bolt on her chest.  They also all three include a lightning bolt piece that can be held in her hand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got these three at various different times, none of them during my childhood.  The white one was the first one, picked up during my 5-inch renaissance back in 2011.  As the latest, I think that’s the best of the three.  The other two were both picked up in the last year, as I set out on my quest to complete my 5-inch X-Men collection.  They’re not terribly different, and unless you’re crazy like me, I don’t suppose there’s much reason to own all three.

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#1579: Han Solo – Millennium Falcon Gunner Station

HAN SOLO – MILLENNIUM FALCON GUNNER STATION

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

Two weeks ago, I discussed Kenner’s deluxe offerings from their Power of the Force II toyline.  Specifically, I looked at Luke Skywalker and the Millennium Falcon gunner station.  That particular item was designed to work in tandem with another of the deluxe offerings, Han Solo, packed with another of the gunner stations.  I’ll be looking at that particular item today!  And awaaaaaaay we go!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

As with the prior set, Han and the Gunner station were released in 1997 as part of the third set of deluxe Power of the Force II figures.  This Han was based on his end of the movie gloved and headset-ed look, which has been the source of a few Han figures (such as the previously released 30th Anniversary one).  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has 5 points of articulation.  For whatever reason, he lost the waist movement.  Don’t know why, but there it was.  This figure is rather similar in construction to the first PotF2 Han, but he doesn’t actually share any parts with that figure.  He’s still got some of the wonky proportions, and the head isn’t the best likeness of Harrison Ford, but he’s definitely a bit toned down from the earlier offerings.  I’d place him about on par with the Bespin Han figure, where he’s still within the general confines of the line’s style, but looks a fair bit more like an actual human being.  That’s certainly a plus.  The paint work on Han is fairly standard stuff.  Nothing exceptional, but it’s certainly passable work, especially for the line.  There’s less slop here than on the corresponding Luke. The color palette matches the other Hans from the line, so he was certainly consistent.  Han didn’t include any small accessories, but he still had the gunner station, which was identical to the one that Luke came packed with.  If you had both stations, they could be connected by the platform running behind them.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got Luke when he was new-ish.  They also had the Han at that time, but I was a silly small child who only wanted Luke and not Han, so he went unpurchased.  It was only recently that I finally acquired this guy.  Lost In Time Toys had him out during one of their sidewalk sales in December, so I was able to pick him up for a pretty low price.  He’s a pretty solid offering for the time.  I could have seen him becoming my default Han had I had him back in the day.

#1577: Dark Nemesis

DARK NEMESIS

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“A survivor from a parallel Earth ruled by the evil Apocalypse, Dark Nemesis now seeks to take over the world of the X-Men. Hoping to start his empire with the Nation of Japan, Dark Nemesis enlists the other-worldly space ninja Deathbird and her advance Sh’ar technology for his plot. With a mind-controlled ninja Sabretooth enforcing Dark Nemesis’s will even Ninja Wolverine and Ninja Psylocke may not survive against his unbelievable power.”

Today, I fully intended to review the Wolfenstein II Terror Billy figure.  It’s been on the schedule for a couple weeks, and everything.  So, why am I not reviewing Billy?  Well, see, Monday night, I dropped my camera and broke it beyond repair….Yeah, wasn’t a great evening.  I’ve got a replacement on the way, but in the mean time, I’m back to reviewing stuff I’ve already got pictures of on hand.  Dark Nemesis just happened to be one such figure, so tangerine jelly bean over here gets reviewed today.  Woo!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Dark Nemesis was released during Toy Biz’s ‘90s X-Men line.  He was in the eighteenth series of the line, which was inexplicably ninja-themed.  Which apparently was the perfect assortment for Dark Nemesis, cuz he’s always been so tied to the whole ninja thing, right?  It’s worth noting that this character got a name-change from comics to toy.  In the comics, he’s called “Holocaust,” which was rightfully deemed a bit much for a line of toys aimed at children.  So, instead, he was given his pre-Horseman of Apocalypse monicker of “Nemesis” plus the Dark descriptor.  Because the kids dig dark, or whatever.  The figure stands about 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  He gets no elbow movement (which was fairly standard for figures of this build), and due his design also has no neck movement, so he’s a little bit on the stiff side.  But, then, the character was never super mobile either, so it’s not too terrible, truth be told.  His sculpt was unique to him, and it’s a fairly decent recreation of Nemesis’ oh-so-dated design.  I like the internal skeleton thing a lot, and the whole clear plastic construction in general is pretty cool.  They’ve also played down some of the more  crazy aspects of the design, which was probably a step in the right direction.  In terms of paint, a lot of the design relies on the previously mentioned clear plastic, bit he’s got a healthy helping of red accent work, which does a pretty astoundingly good job of capturing Nemesis’ admittedly unique color scheme.  There’s a very cool energy effect, which I think really helps him to pop.  Dark Nemesis is packed with one accessory: a projectile-launching staff.  It’s not really something the character was known for, nor does it really fit the ninja theme of the assortment.  Odd choice.  I guess it’s better than nothing.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Despite actually being familiar with the character around the time this figure was released (I knew him from his appearances in X-Man), I didn’t get this guy new.  In fact, I only just got him in Novemeber.  I found him loose at House of Fun, and grabbed him to help complete my 5-inch X-Men collection.  He’s not the most playable figure, but he’s still pretty fun, and he certainly looks unique on the shelf.

#1574: Falcon

FALCON

MARVEL’S GOLD (TOY BIZ)

You know, there’s a surprising backlog of Falcon action figures.  Though the general public didn’t know him until his appearance in The Winter Soldier in 2014, he’s still made an appearance in just about every prominent style of Marvel figures.  Under Toy Biz’s reign, he appeared not once, but twice as 5-inch figure.  His second of those figures is the one I’ll be looking at today.  And awaaaaaay we go!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Falcon was one of the 11 figures in Toy Biz’s specialty store-exclusive  Marvel’s Gold line.  Falcon was one of the later figures in the line-up.  The big deal with this particular figure was his return to the classic design, since the prior Falcon figure was based on his design from the short-lived Avengers: United They Stand show.  The figure stands 5 1/4 inches tall and he has 20 points of articulation.  He was built on the same body as the Spider-Man line’s Daredevil.  This was definitely one of Toy Biz’s best bodies, and it’s a shame they didn’t start using it earlier into the Marvel’s Gold run, as I think Moon Knight would have been much better had they used this base.  Regardless, I’m glad it was used here.  Also re-used are Falcon’s wings, which also come from the Spider-Man line, specifically from Vulture.  They’re a bit more metallic and stylized than Falcon’s usually are, but they get the job done.   At this point in the line, Toy Biz had moved past the pure re-use that was going on at the start, so Falcon got a “new” head sculpt.  I say “new” because it’s technically re-used from the Famous Covers Falcon, albeit shrunk down a bit.  That was one of the best FC sculpts, and it still looks great shrunk down for this figure, especially given the higher depth of detail allowed.  Perhaps the only disappointing part of the sculpt is the fringe at the edge of his legs.  They’re essentially just a sticker, and it’s really lazy and obvious.  I think he would have looked better if those had just been left off.  The paint on Falcon is respectable, but not without its issues.  The basic colors work well, and the accenting on the reds looks pretty solid.  That being said, the actual application is rather messy, especially on the edges of the vest.  Falcon is packed with his trusty sidekick Redwing, as well as a glove with a perch for Redwing.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Falcon was a rather recent acquisition, picked up from the NJ-based House of Fun this past November.  It’s a figure I’ve wanted for a little while, so I was glad to find him.  He’s definitely one of the best offerings Toy Biz had from this particular line, and he’s just one of the better Falcon figures out there in general.

#1565: Luke Skywalker – Millenium Falcon Gunner Station

LUKE SKYWALKER – MILLENIUM FALCON GUNNER STATION

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

In the ‘90s, the toy aisle was ruled by gimmicks.  Whatever your toy was, it needed a cool gimmick.  The trouble for Kenner’s just recently relaunched Star Wars brand was that it’s not super easy to work goofy ‘90s gimmicks into the confines of the established brand.  In ’96, they gave it a go, offering up a Deluxe line, featuring four of the franchise’s heaviest hitters, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Boba Fett, and a Stormtrooper, all packed with some big honking missile launching contraption.  Suffice it to say, the line was not exactly the smash hit Kenner was hoping for, so they went back to the drawing board.  The 1997 Deluxe offerings were all much more sensible, and by 1998, they’d even come up with a decent theme: Gunner Stations.  Remember the gunner stations used by Luke and Han in their escape from the Death Star?  Those were pretty cool, right?  Well, Kenner certainly thought so, and offered up new figures of both Luke and Han, each packed with one of the stations.  I’ll be looking at Luke today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Variations of Farmboy Luke weren’t exactly uncommon in 1998, but this one does give us a slight tweak that’s not been done as a figure since.  Like the Smuggler Han figure I looked at a few months back, this figure depicts Luke with a headset, as well as the belt he took from his Stormtrooper disguise.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  Unlike the last version of Farmboy Luke I looked at from this line, this particular figure comes from after the line had largely fixed those wonky proportions, so Luke no longer looks like he’s been juicing hardcore.  I think there’s perhaps an argument to made for him looking a little flat in some places, but he certainly looks a lot better than he did.  He’s also sporting a head based on the second style of standard Luke from this line.  This head was definitely an improvement on the prior one, and while it’s still not a spot-on likeness of Hamill, it’s certainly closer than before.  This particular version has been tweaked to give him the headset, which also means he’s got a full ear showing on one side, which I think was a first as far as Luke Skywalkers go.  The paint on this figure is pretty standard.  The application is all pretty clean, though there’s a bit of slop under his left eye.  Overall, though, a solid effort.

THE GUNNER STATION ITSELF

Luke himself is really more of an accessory to the main selling point of this set, which is the Gunner station.  Once assembled, the station is pretty sizable, standing about 7 inches tall and measuring 6 inches deep.  The seat and turret are one connected piece, attached to the base via a hinge.  The hinge isn’t particularly strong, so the seat ends up just resting on the platform beneath it if there’s a figure in place.  There’s a faux-window piece that clips over the main gun, which does its best to sell this as being one of the Falcon’s two guns.  That being said, aside from the window and the general shape of the gun, the overall layout of the station is a bit different from the one seen in the movie.  I guess it’s more about the spirit, though.  As far as paint goes, it’s confined to the main section of the gun, which has some slight blaster scarring, which looks reasonable enough.  There’s also a decal back on the monitor, which replicates the screen in front of Luke in the movie.  Beyond that, it’s just molded plastic.  There’s also a sort of missile launching feature.  The barrels of the gun can be fired in succession when you turn the gear at the back of the gun.  It’s not spring loaded and the missiles don’t actually click into place or anything. which can be a bit on the annoying side when you’re picking this thing up and moving it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When I was much younger, every year when school finished up, my Nana would take me and my cousin Rusty out and buy us a few small things as a small treat for finishing out the year.  We were each given a set amount we could spend, and I had gotten one or two other things (what they were, I can’t for the life of me remember), and I still had a little bit left to spend, and I believe this guy was marked down.  He was actually my go-to Luke for a good while, and stayed my stand-by Farmboy Luke until I started collecting as an adult.

#1558: Swoop Vehicle

SWOOP VEHICLE (w/ SWOOP TROOPER)

STAR WARS: SHADOWS OF THE EMPIRE (KENNER)

“The Empire’s broad reach has included thousands of planets in the galaxy. With such a vast territory to police, the Empire often pays bounty hunters huge sums for the capture or elimination of certain “wanted” individuals. The mercenaries favored by the Empire are expert trackers and assassins, dangerous individuals who are highly intelligent and extremely skilled in both weapons use and air combat. A preferred vehicle of many of these elite bounty hunters is the swoop, a brawny speeder craft most often associated with gangs and outlaws such as the Nova Demons and the Dark Star Hellions; its toughness and incredible speed make it a perfect mount for bounty hunters.”

For the most part, Shadows of the Empire’s focus was placed on our recognizable heroes and villains, filling in a few gaps in their personal stories.  Totally new concepts weren’t a huge piece of it.  Sure, there were the likes of Dash and his ship the Outrider, but they were really just quick concepts thrown together to replace a popular character who couldn’t actually be in the story.  There were a few more original concepts, but mostly off to the side, such as today’s focus, the Swoop speeder!

THE VEHICLE ITSELF

Following in the vein of Return of the Jedi’s Speeder Bikes, here’s the Swoop.  It’s sort of the chopper of the galaxy far, far away, I suppose.  Of the three vehicles offered in Shadows of the Empire packaging, this is certainly the smallest.  It’s about 6 inches long and stands 2 1/2 inches tall.  The cannon on the side swings up and down, but beyond that there’s no other moving pieces.  Not a shock on a vehicle of this nature, though, and its not like the design really allows for them.  It’s a decent enough design for a bike in the Star Wars ‘verse, matching up alright with what we’ve seen in the movies, while also not being a total retread.  The sculpt is fairly well rendered, albeit perhaps not as intricately as some of the actual movie designs.  It lacks some of the smaller details that sold that whole “used future” aspect of the franchise.  Still, it’s a visually intriguing design, and it fits well with the rest of what Kenner was doing at the time.  The paintwork on the bike is pretty solid stuff.  A lot of red and silver, but it looks good, and there’s some pretty cool accent work on the larger sections of the bike.  Smaller details are handled via decals instead of actual paint.  The decals are fine, but they are a bit less advanced than the sort of thing you’d see now, thereby making them rather obvious.  That said, the bike certainly looks better with them than without them.  The bike includes a missile for the cannon, which has a spring-loaded feature.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Included with the Swoop is its own dedicated pilot, simply dubbed the “Swoop Trooper.”  Very original name there.  The package proudly boasts that this figure is exclusive to this particular set, and, unlike a lot of Kenner/Hasbro’s “exclusive” pack-in figures, it actually stuck for this guy.  I’d guess that’s largely due to his obscurity…and reminder, this is a Star Wars figure I’m taking about here.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 7 points of articulation.  The bike pilots all got extra articulation at the knees, which I was always a fan of, though he does end up losing the waist joint.  This figure also has a different neck joint; instead of the usual swivel joint, he’s got a hinge sort of thing, which allows him to look up and down instead.  The same joint had previously been used on the Biker Scout from the main Power of the Force II line, and, while I don’t mind it, it certainly made a bit more sense on that figure than it does on this one.  The Swoop Trooper’s design was, of course, created wholesale for the Shadows of the Empire event.  It’s alright, but, like a lot of the Shadows designs, it doesn’t necessarily fit the classic Star Wars aesthetic, instead falling into more typical ‘90s comics design concepts.  It’s certainly not a bad design, but I can’t say it’s a favorite of mine.  Still, it’s a decent sculpt of a decent design.  I certainly appreciate the presence of some shared armor elements between this guy and some of the other troopers (namely the knee pads from the Biker Scout).  In terms of paint, the Trooper is a bit of a step up from the bike, since there’s a bit more going on.  I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the assortment of browns, as they aren’t a super thrilling combo.  That said, application is all pretty clean, and he looks respectable enough.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Swoop bike was a rather recent addition to my collection.  I missed a lot of the Shadows of the Empire stuff when it was new, so I’ve been piecing it together little by little.  I found this set at Lost in Time during their winter sale.  Since it was like $5, I figured it was worth it to finally grab it.  Not the most thrilling thing to come out of the franchise, but it’s another solid offering from Kenner’s ‘90s Star Wars output.

#1551: Sasquatch & Vindicator

SASQUATCH & VINDICATOR

ALPHA FLIGHT (TOY BIZ)

“Dr. Walter Langkowski was content with his quiet, fairly normal life as a college physics professor. That was before his insatiable curiosity regarding the effects of gamma radiation upon the human body led him to accidentally transform himself into the mighty Sasquatch! Standing at nearly ten feet tall, covered with orange fur and able to lift nearly 70 tons, Sasquatch is a physical powerhouse of superhuman strength. Led by electromagnetically charged Vindicator, Sasquatch serves Canada as a member of its foremost group of super heroes: Alpha Flight. Together, Alpha Flight fights to protect Canada and the world from the forces of evil.”

Okay, so there’s a bio for one of the two figures in the set, with like a passing mention for the other one.  Kind of an odd choice.  The combined bio thing worked better for Northstar and Aurora.  Here it feels awkward, right? Also, it’s worth noting that the use of just the “Vindicator” name with no pronouns or anything means it could technically be referring to either James or Heather.  Perhaps Toy Biz hadn’t decided which of the Vindicators was going to be included yet when the text was written?  Come to think of it, Vindicator’s not even in the illustration on the top of the box like all the others are.  It’s just Sasquatch.  Weird.  Well, I’m still gonna review them both.  Here we go.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Sasquatch and Vindicator were one of the three two-packs that made up the first (and only) series of Toy Biz’s Alpha Flight line from 1998.

SASQUATCH

Gonna be honest, I didn’t actually know all that much about Sasquatch until that bio up there.  He’s one of the most prominent members of the team in terms of toy representation, with this figure, a Minimate, and TWO Marvel Legends.  He’s rivaled only by Puck in terms of representation.  That’s not bad for what essentially translates to Canadian Hulk.  This figure stands about 6 inches tall and he has 13 points of articulation.  He’s a little smaller than Sasquatch tends to be depicted in the comics (where he frequently falls into the 8-10 ft range), but he’s still noticeably taller than the rest of his teammates, which is really the important thing in all of this.  Though his head is a separate piece from the torso, the nature of the neck and hair design is such that there’s no actual motion, an issue that would crop up on most of Sasquatch’s future figures.  Sasquatch’s sculpt was new to him (though it would be re-used for the Dark Side line’s Man-Thing figure not too long after), and it’s not a bad piece of work.  It matches pretty well with depictions of him over the years.  There’s some pretty great work  on the texturing, showing Toy Biz’z slow improvement over time that would eventually lead to the likes of Marvel Legends.  In terms of paint, Sasquatch is actually a bit better than you might expect.  TB could have gone the easy route and just done straight orange, but instead they’ve actually done quite a bit of accenting on the musculature and such, which looks pretty great.  Sasquatch has no accessories, though if you want to get technical, the way the packaging is laid out I suppose you could consider Vindicator his accessory…but that makes me uncomfortable.

VINDICATOR

This is actually the second time I’ve looked at a figure of Heather Hudson as Vindicator, in the same costume no less!  After this, I’ll have reviewed 100% of the Heather Hudson figures ever made.  Yay?  Like the Minimate, this figure depicts Heather wearing her (then) deceased husband Mac’s Guardian/Vindicator costume.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and she has 12 points of articulation.  Vindicator premiered this particular body, but it went on to serve as the basis of a number of other female figures, including the previously reviewed Bloodstorm figure.  It was a decent enough body for Heather, though it has a little bit of difficulty staying standing.  Her head is re-used from the Marvel Collector Editions Jean Grey figure, which isn’t the best sculpt Toy Biz ever put out, but at the same time, the head’s hardly the worst part of the original figure.  Plus, there’s a visor added to it, which helps to mask some of the weirder parts of the original piece.  The hair is still rooted, which isn’t super ideal in this scale, but it could be worse.  The paint work on this figure isn’t quite as interesting as with Sasquatch, but it gets the job done.  The edges are a bit fuzzy, but  for the time not bad.  Like Sasquatch, she includes no accessories.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Unlike the previously reviewed Northstar and Aurora, I didn’t get this pair new.  I saw them many times at retail, but wasn’t familiar enough with the characters to really be drawn in.  I ended up picking up over this past summer, loose, from Yesterday’s Fun.  Vindicator’s just okay.  Not anything really special or anything.  Sasquatch on the other hand, is actually pretty awesome, and I’m glad I finally got one.  Now, I’ll just need to find Puck and Snowbird.

#1544: Luke Skywalker in Imperial Guard Disguise

LUKE SKYAWALKER IN IMPERIAL GUARD DISGUISE

STAR WARS: SHADOWS OF THE EMPIRE (KENNER)

“The Empire’s victory in the Battle of Hoth has brought hard times for the Rebel Alliance. Han Solo has been frozen in carbonite by Darth Vader, and two huge bounties have been placed on the head of Luke Skywalker. The Emperor wants him alive, but Prince Xizor , underlord of the most powerful criminal organization in the galaxy, wants him dead. Worse still is that the diabolical Xizor is holding Princess Leia Organa prisoner in his castle on the Imperial Center of Coruscant. this is a tactical maneuver, part of a larger master plan to lure Luke Skywalker into his castle where he can be easily eliminated — the key step in Xizor’s plan to replace Darth Vader at the Emperor’s side. unaware of this danger, the young Jedi and Lando Calrissian sneak into Imperial City hoping to rescue Leia. Simplylaying foot on Coruscant is a dangerous act for these two: high on the Empire’s list of most-wanted outlaws, they could easily be recognized and captured — or assassinated. Disguising themselves as beggars, they “borrow” the armored uniforms from a pair of elite Coruscant stormtroopers. These troopers are some of the Empire’s finest, selected as home guards for the wealthiest and most cultured city in the galaxy. Joining forces with Chewbacca and Dash Rendar, Skywalker and Calrissian attempt to infiltrate Xizor’s nearly impenetrable stronghold and rescue the princess.”

1996’s Shadows of the Empire was important, in that it was the first time the public at large had been introduced to the Star Wars Expanded Universe.  It’s also an interesting experiment in marketing, essentially being a movie merchandising campaign that lacked a movie.  There were a handful of figures, mixed in with Kenner’s then running Power of the Force II.  Newcomers Dash Rendar and Prince Xizor got figures, of course, but there were also new variants of out heroes Luke, Leia, and Chewbacca, all of whom had to take on disguises during this new story.  I’ve looked at both Leia and Chewbacca, which just leaves Luke, who I’ll be reviewing today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Luke Skywalker in Imperial Guard Disguise was released in the basic figure assortment of Kenner’s Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire line.  The figure stands about 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  This Luke uses the same head as all of the other early PotF2 Lukes.  It’s not the best likeness, but hey, here’s to consistency, right? The rest of the figure is brand new.  The packaging dubs his look as “Imperial Guard Disguise,” a name that tends to conjure up the red guards from Return of the Jedi, who look quite a bit different than the look Luke is sporting here.  However, the bio fills us in that this armor is actually from one of the elite Stormtroopers on Coruscant, making it a separate look entirely.  As with so much of the design work seen in Shadows, the armor is undeniably a product of mid-90s comic book design, meaning it’s a little divorced from the original trilogy designs.  His armor’s bulky and ultra padded, and seems to lack that used look we’re so accustomed to.  It’s a little hard to reconcile this as a design that would appear in between Empire and Jedi.  That being said, it’s hardly a terrible look.  In fact, it manages to be rather unique and helps this Luke to stand out a bit from the crowd of other Lukes from over the years.  The paint work on this figure is fairly decent, and, like the rest of his design, fairly unique.  The red’s a nice shade, and all of the application is pretty clean.  He’s packed with a removable helmet and half-cape to help complete his full disguise.  Since Luke lost his father’s lightsaber in Empire and didn’t build a new one until the beginning of Jedi, he of course needed a new weapon, so this figure included a taser staff weapon.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This figure was, I believe, my first Shadows of the Empire figure.  My cousin Noah had saved up to buy the PotF2 Millennium Falcon, and was along for the trip to go buy it.  Noah’s mother, who took us on the trip, agreed to get me one figure.  Luke was my favorite character, and this figure appealed to my 5-year-old self, so he was the one I picked.  I’d say having this guy in my collection already was probably what pushed me to pick up the Bounty Hunter Chewbacca instead of the normal one, and owning these two is certainly not a decision I regret in the slightest.

#1530: Avalanche

AVALANCHE

X-FORCE (TOY BIZ)

“A mutant with the ability to control earth and rock, Avalanche’s powers earned him a place in the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants! Now operating largely on his own, or in the company of his allies, the Blob and Pyro, Avalanche strikes not so much out of hatred for normal humans, but from a desire to make a profit!”

Back in the ‘90s, the X-Men were super hot, and by, extension, the various X-Men spin-offs were super hot.  X-Force, the spawn of everyone’s favorite artist Rob Liefeld, was inexplicably successful, but only the actual team seemed to get real notoriety.  The villains were mostly forgettable, however, so for the toyline Toy Biz borrowed a few classic X-Men baddies, including today’s focus character, Avalanche!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Avalanche was released in Series 5 of Toy Biz’s X-Force toyline.  He was the second of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants figures featured in this particular line, following Pyro.  Seeing how the two of them were a semi-recurrent pair on X-Men: The Animated Series, it was a pretty sensible inclusion, I suppose.  The figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  He got extra disk joints on his hips, which I guess was kind of nice.  It does seem a little bit odd that Avalanche of all people got extra special articulation, but I’m not gonna fight it.  HIs sculpt was all new to this particular figure, and it was fairly decent for the era.  The proportions are a little exaggerated, obviously, but given that he was in the X-Force line, it’s actually fairly balanced.  There articulation could perhaps be worked in a bit better, but it’s not awful.  The details of the costume are pretty clean, and I do like the intensity of the expression on what we can see of his face.  It’s a bit of a shame that his helmet is permanently affixed, since he had it off rather frequently on the cartoon, but it looks good, and that’s ultimately the most important thing.  Avalanche’s paintwork is fairly standard, mostly silver and blue.  It looks decent enough, though it’s perhaps not the most thrilling color scheme.  Avalanche was originally packed with an “Exploding Rock Platform” which demonstrated his powers via action feature.  My figure was purchased loose, however, so he doesn’t include this piece.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Avalanche is a rather recent addition to my ‘90s Marvel collection, picked up over the summer from Yesterday’s Fun.  They had a number of old X-Men figures, and this was one I kept meaning to grab, but never got around to.  He’s a pretty decent figure of a character I admittedly don’t have a ton of attachment to.  Nevertheless, I’m happy to have him, and he brings me one step closer to completing this collection.

#1525: White Christmas

BETTY HAYNES, PHIL DAVIS, & BOB WALLACE

IRVING BERLIN’S WHITE CHRISTMAS (EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE)

“IIIII’m dreeeaaming of a Whiiiite Christmas….”

Heyo, it’s another Christmas morning, and another day of me being a little bit festive here on the site!  My family and I have a whole ton of various holiday films and specials we have like to watch during the season.  The exact order is mostly free form, but the whole thing is always kicked off by the same film, which we always watch during out assembly of our main tree.  That film is the focus of today’s review: White Christmas.  It’s one of my very favorite holiday films (and really one of my favorite films in general), though it’s not necessarily the most toy-etic film in existence.  Despite that, it still managed to get a set of figures courtesy of Exclusive Premiere, who built a whole company on releasing toys based on non-toy-etic properties.  Perhaps surprising no-one, they didn’t go very far with that business plan.  But hey, at least we got these guys, right?

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Betty, Phil, and Bob were all released in 1998 by Exclusive Premiere.  It’s sort of an odd line-up.  I mean, yeah, Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye, and Bing Crosby were all in starring roles, but there’s kind of a major character missing here: Judy Haynes, Betty’s sister, played by Vera-Ellen.  Admittedly, she’s the least known of the four leads, but she’s still a major part of the story, and it’s a little weird she was left out…but like I said, it’s kind of a miracle they got made at all, so, I guess that’s the thing to focus on.

Betty’s the most unique of the three.  She’s built on EP’s standard female body, standing about 8 3/4 inches tall with 11 points of articulation.  The body was alright, I guess.  It doesn’t have elbow movement, which is kind of frustrating, but there’s been worse base bodies.  She’s got a unique head sculpt, which is probably the best of the three here.  It’s got a passable resemblance to Rosemary Clooney.  I’d hardly call it spot-on, but given the quality of the other likenesses put out by EP, it’s borderline amazing how well this one turned out.  The tailoring on her dress is decent enough even the price point, and compared to the others.  It doesn’t look terrible by any stretch of the imagination, and it hits all of the major design points of her on-screen dress.  There are some smaller details that are missing, but the important stuff is all there.

Phil and Bob are both essentially the same figure, separated only by a head sculpt.  It’s not the worst thing ever, I suppose, since it’s not like Kaye and Crosby were horribly different in build.  That being said, the standard base body they’re both using is a little on the buff side for either of these two guys.  They both stand 9 inches tall and have 13 points of articulation.  At least their elbows can move.  The bodies are kind of similar to the Playmates 9-inch Trek figures, which isn’t awful, but these are definitely of a slightly lower quality.  The heads are decent, I suppose.  I think Phil’s the stronger of the two.  It looks kind of like Kaye, but not a ton.  I guess you can figure him out in context, though.  Bob’s…well, Bob looks a bit like a cartoon character.  Like, I guess it’s Bing Crosby, but it’s more like the Genie as Bing Crosby caricature from Aladdin and the King of Thieves, and less like real Bing.  There’s noooooo doubt about it.  But, like Phil, you can kind of piece him together in context.  Neither head is particularly helped by the hat that’s permanently glued to it, but I guess they won’t bet lost that way.  From the neck down, they’re both wearing the same Santa suit.  It’s not great.  It’s really baggy, and lumpy, and sloppy, and not particularly accurate to the suits seen in the movie.  This is probably due to this same exact suit being used on EC’s Miracle on 34th Street Santa Claus, where it was still inaccurate, of course, so I guess they just spilt the difference between the two looks.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like the previously reviewed Charlie Brown, these guys aren’t technically mine, but are instead more of a joint family possession that gets pulled out and put on the shelf every holiday season.  They’re goofy as all get out, and even 20 years later, I’m still a little bitter that Judy got left out, but the novelty of just having White Christmas figures forgives a lot of sins.