#1513: Rowen

ROWEN

RONIN WARRIORS (PLAYMATES)

Hey, remember when I was talkin’ ‘bout Ronin Warriors?  That was pretty cool, right?  Well, guess what!  I gonna talk about them again!  Alright!  Last time, I looked at Cye, the Ronin Warrior of trust, who was a blue guy.  Today, I’ll be looking at Rowen, the Warrior of Life Force, who’s…another blue guy.  Aw man, they got the same color, this is so embarrassing…

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Like Cye, Rowen was part the basic assortment of Ronin Warriors figures, which were available and in steady production for a good part of the ‘90s.  The figure’s roughly 6 inches in height and has 14 points of articulation.  From the neck down, Rowen’s sculpt is completely identical to that of Cye, for good and for bad.  This means he’s got the same slightly odd articulation scheme, and the same very bulky construction, which is a little off from how the characters were depicted on the show.  That being said, they were all depicted as being roughly the same size on the show, so at least the line was internally consistent.  Rowen gets a unique head sculpt, which is a pretty decent piece.  It’s stylistically very similar to Cye’s, which I suppose is a good thing.  I will say his hair ends up noticeably less matted to the sides, and in general the head looks less tiny in comparison to the overall body, both of which are minor improvements over Cye.  Rowen had 11 snap-on armor pieces, which are unique to him, but still in keeping stylistically with the rest of the line.  They do add some more bulk to the body, which perhaps isn’t the best direction for the already overly bulked up figure, but it could certainly be worse.  My figure is missing a couple of his armor pieces, most noticeably his helmet, which is a little sad, but he’s still got most of it.  The paintwork on Rowen is decent enough to be passable.  There’s not any particularly stand-out work or anything, but everything seems pretty clean and all.  Like the rest of the Ronin Warriors, Rowen was originally packed with a whole tree of weapons with which to arm him.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I had a handful of Ronin Warriors as a kid, but Rowen was actually not one of them.  When I picked up my replacement Cye from Collector’s Corner a few months back, I spotted this figure, but ended up passing on him at that time.  Cye was a pleasant trip down memory lane, so when I was in the area next, I went back for Rowen.  I’m glad I did.  He’s another fun little addition to my collection, and I’m happy to have him.

Advertisements

#1509: Incredible Hulk

INCREDIBLE HULK

MARVEL SUPER HEROES (TOY BIZ)

“When the Incredible Hulk gets angry he can effortlessly bend steel bars, crush boulders and cause criminals to head for the hills as fast as they can! To demonstrate the Incredible Hulk’s awesome might, place the steel bar or boulder in his hands, press the lever in his back and watch the bar bend almost double and the boulder break apart.”

The Hulk, unlike his other MCU compatriots, hasn’t only recently come to fame.  In fact, he’s one of Marvel’s earlier success stories, thanks in no small part to the Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno led live action series from the ‘70s.  Despite the success of his first foray into media outside of comics, he’s had something of a rough time since then.  Nevertheless, he’s remained a major Marvel player for most of Marvel’s time in the spot light.  Today, I’ll be looking at one of his earlier action figures, and his very first by long-time Marvel toy producers, Toy Biz!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Hulk was released in the very first series of Toy Biz’s Marvel Super Heroes line.  The figure’s a bit smaller for a Hulk figure, standing right at 5 inches tall.  He’s got 7-ish points of articulation, depending on how you count the shoulder joints.  Theoretically, there’s some extra movement granted by the action feature, but you can’t really get them to stay in any given position.  This Hulk is definitely most inspired by the Hulk of the ‘70s; his hair is the real give-away there.  The sculpt is actually one of the better Hulks put out by Toy Biz.  The proportions are more balanced than a lot of Hulks, and the details, especially on the head, are nice and sharp.  I also find myself really liking the hands, and if you can get me to notice the quality of the hands, that’s a good sign.  Hulk’s paintwork is fairly standard.  He’s mostly just molded in the appropriate shade of green.  It’s a little bright for my taste, but not terribly so.  The rest of the work is fairly straight forward, but it’s pretty clean overall.  I do wish there was at least some accenting going on with the pants and stuff, but it all works.  Hulk included a “metal” bar to hold and bend with his action feature, a piece which my figure is missing.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This is a figure I always admired on the hardbacks of my various Toy Biz figures and the like.  I always wanted one, but his release was just before I started collecting, so I never saw him in person.  I finally ended up getting him just over this past summer, loose from Yesterday’s Fun.  He’s slightly goofy, just like the rest of the Marvel Super Heroes figures, but I still really, really like him.  I’m happy to have finally added him to my collection.  Possibly my favorite Hulk, despite his rather humble nature.

#1507: Shadowhawk

SHADOWHAWK

SPAWN (MCFARLANE TOYS)

“When justice failed the innocent, district attorney Paul Johnstone fashioned the silver and black garb of the human Bird of Prey: Shadowhawk! With his powerful weapons, bullet-proof armor, infra-red lenses and natural fighting skills, he has vowed to TAKE BACK THE NIGHT form the monsters that prowl the city’s streets!”

When discussions of early Image Comics come up, Jim Valentino always seems to be the odd man out.  He wasn’t the super star that Todd McFarlane, Rob Liefeld, and Jim Lee were, nor did he experience the larger scale notoriety in his original creations like Erik Larsen. He did, however, have a highly enjoyable run on Guardians of the Galaxy, which may well be one of the best things to come out of ‘90s Marvel.  When it came time to create his own original work, he delivered ShadowHawk, something of a ‘90s anti-hero take on Batman, but still one of the more unique of the early Image creations.  Like so many of those early characters, he found his way into the Spawn line from McFarlane, and I’ll be looking at that figure today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

ShadowHawk was released in Spawn Series 4.  He joined Sam Kieth’s The Maxx as one of two non-Spawn characters in this particular series.  There have actually been two different main ShadowHawks over the years.  This figure represents the first one, who was still the only one at the time of his release.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and has 9 points of articulation.  ShadowHawk’s sculpt was unique to him, though it certainly feels very similar to the basic Spawn figure from Series 1, at least in the pose and basic build.  While the figure looks overall like the ShadowHawk of the comics, it’s far from accurate to the source material.  The shoulderpads are separate pieces, rather than sleeker parts of the costume, and there’s a lot of ribbing on the silver parts that wasn’t there in the comics.  He’s also got more straps than he usually did.  One feels like McFarlane was attempting to give us Rob Liefeld’s Jim Valentino’s ShadowHawk.  It’s kind of an odd choice.  I mean, it certainly doesn’t look terrible or anything, but it’s a little sad, given that this is one of three ShadowHawk figures ever, and the only one within a decade of its release.  The most awkward part of this figure by far is the assortment of weapons that come attached to him.  While the shoulder-mounted guns can be easily removed, the two that mount on his arms are permanently attached to the figure via the tubes that go into his back.  It’s kind of a strange choice, and seems particularly silly given McFarlane’s whole “action figures for hardcore collectors” angle.  I guess he didn’t actually expect anyone to oped the damned things.  ShadowHawk’s paint work is reasonable enough.  It’s mostly pretty basic, but the colors are bold, and he stands out pretty well.  There’s a bit of slop here and there, but nothing atrocious.  ShadowHawk included the aforementioned assortment of weapons, most of which are just meant to be mounted on his person.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked up ShadowHawk on Small Business Saturday from an antique store I frequent.  They had just put out a bunch of ‘90s figures, and I was asking for a few of them from the case.  I was mostly grabbing some Toy Biz Marvel releases, but this guy was also in the case, and I sort of impulse bought him.  ShadowHawk’s always sort of intrigued me, and the figure’s cool enough.  Now I think I might try and track down some back issues, just to see what I think of the source material.

#1502: Han Solo as Stormtrooper

HAN SOLO AS STORMTROOPER

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

Okay, so let’s talk about a concept that I really miss: mail away action figures.  Those cool little bonuses you’d get for collecting a bunch of proofs of purchase, or even just finishing a box of cereal.  Hasbro used to be pretty big on them, but we haven’t seen anything like this in a good decade.  It’s kind of a little sad.  So why not reminisce a bit for better times and have a look at one of my favorite mail-away items, Han Solo as Stormtrooper!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Han Solo as Stormtrooper was offered in 1995 through 1996 as a Kellog’s-exclusive mail-away offer, featured on Froot Loops, as a part of the overall Power of the Force II line from Kenner.  This was the second Han in POTF2, following the basic ANH Han from Series 1.  As noted by the name, he depicts Han in his Stormtrooper disguise from his time on the Death Star in A New Hope.  Believe it or not, this was the first time we got such a figure.  Said figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  Surprisingly enough, the sculpt is all-new, and doesn’t use pieces from any of the standard Stormtroopers.  It still follows their lead stylistically, of course, meaning he’s still got that whole steroid abuse look going on.  But hey, if you’re gonna blend in, you gotta actually blend in, right?  He’s sculpted with a bit of a pose to him, like he’s right in the middle of a lunge or something, which is consistent with the rest of the line’s earliest figures.  The head is a slight re-working of the early POTF2 Han head.  It still doesn’t really look like Harrison Ford, but I can understand their desire for consistency.  I also really like the addition of the collar to his neck; that’s a nice touch.  His paintwork is fairly standard fair.  The body’s on par with the basic Stormtrooper, and the head with the first Han, so he’s certainly at home with his line-mates.  While the figure included no blaster (due to Kellog’s fairly strict no guns policy with their mail-away offerings), he did get his removable helmet, which looks just like the actual trooper head, and goes on quite nicely to boot.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This figure’s important to me.  Not only was he my first Han Solo, but he was also my first experience with a mail-away offer.  I was at the grocery store with my parents, and they let me pick out a cereal.  I didn’t know what I wanted, but they were kind enough to point me in the direction of the Froot Loops with the Han offer, and that was just tops for me.  Sure, this figure’s goofy and dated, just like the rest of the line, but I still think he’s awesome.

#1488: Luke Skywalker – Dark Empire

LUKE SKYWALKER – DARK EMPIRE

STAR WARS: EXPANDED UNIVERSE (KENNER)

“Six years after the destruction of the second Death Star, the galaxy is thrust into turmoil. A reborn evil threatens to enslave the galaxy, and the Republic’s closest friend – Luke Skywalker – may become their greatest enemy. Freed from their detention cell, a group of rebels begin their escape from the Imperial planet Byss. But the sudden appearance of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Master, could mean unfortunate news for the Rebels. Has Luke fallen under the spell of the dark side?”

Remember two weeks ago when I was talking about the Star Wars Expanded Universe?  Well, hows about a little more of that?  Yeah, let’s go with that.  It’s another Dark Empire figure!  Wooooo!  This time, it’s Luke Skywalker, in his ‘90s anti-hero phase.  Let’s have a look!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Dark Empire Luke Skywalker was another of the four Dark Empire figures in the one and only series of Kenner’s Star Wars: Expanded Universe line.  The figure stands about 3 1/2 inches tall and he has 7 points of articulation.  Like the Clone Emperor, the seventh point of articulation is on his wrist (though this time it was the right one), which was more to allow for the removal of Luke’s hand…which is why my figure is missing his right hand.  Luke had a totally unique sculpt, based on his bad-boy look from the Dark Empire comics.  It’s sort of goofy and definitely dated, but I can’t help but find it endearing.  By this point in time, Kenner had lost the bulky, puffy look of their early ‘90s Star Wars figures, so this guy doesn’t look anywhere near as goofy, at least proportion-wise.  The head was a new mold, showcasing Luke’s extra bouncy hair from Dark Empire, but it has the same facial construction as Kenner’s second-generation PotF2 Luke heads, which had a slightly better Hamill likeness.  It’s a little strange that he’s ended up looking so much younger, but I don’t think it looks terrible at all.  Luke’s paint is pretty solid overall.  I think it’s a bit more pleasing to the eye than the Clone Emperor, and the application is generally pretty clean.  Luke included a lightsaber—red to denote his flirting with the Dark Side during the events of Dark Empire—as well as a blaster pistol.  He also included another of the fold-out 3D display stand things, which was pretty cool.  Reeeeeaaaaally wish I still had one of those.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I think this was the first instance of me eagerly awaiting the release of a Star Wars figure.  I was at the local Another Universe at the mall with my Dad, and I saw this guy on the cover of a Star Wars fan magazine, which had the details on the whole Expanded Universe assortment.  My Dad was nice enough to buy the magazine for me, and I remember dragging that thing all over the place while I eagerly awaited this figure’s release.  As I mentioned in the Clone Emperor review, I found this guy in the Farpoint dealer’s room the year he was released, and he was purchased for me by my Grandmother.  He’s a pretty awesome figure, and still remains one of my favorites.

#1474: Clone Emperor Palpatine

CLONE EMPEROR PALPATINE

STAR WARS: EXPANDED UNIVERSE (KENNER)

Six years after the destruction of the second Death Star, the galaxy is thrust into turmoil. A reborn evil threatens to enslave the galaxy, and the Republic’s closest friend – Luke Skywalker – may become their greatest enemy. With the power to transfer his consciousness to genetic clones, a younger, stronger Emperor Palpatine is perilously close to gaining total control of the galaxy forever.”

Following the conclusion of the original Star Wars movies, there was no immediate follow up planned.  The prequels were still just a concept, and the sequel trilogy wasn’t even a glimmer in Kathleen Kennedy’s eye.  The next best thing was the Expanded Universe, which fans latched onto pretty quickly.  In the ’90s, in the midst of their re-launched toy line, Kenner created an EU-centered sub-line.  Amongst that line were two figures based on the “Dark Empire” story, which included today’s figure, Clone Emperor Palpatine.

THE FIGURE ITSELF 

Clone Emperor Palpatine was released in Kenner’s one series Star Wars: Expanded Universe line in 1998.  As noted in the intro, this figure hails from “Dark Empire,” a story which sees Palpatine brought back in a series of cloned bodies.  Without the name on the package to go by, you could be forgiven for not recognizing this as Palpatine, since he’s noticeably less wrinkly than he usually is.  The figure stands about 3 1/2 inches tall (the EU figures were a little smaller) and he has 7 points of articulation.  Where’s that extra point coming from you ask?  Why, from his left wrist.  And why just the left wrist?  Because it’s actually just a side effect of making the left hand removable.  It was actually pretty common around this period of Kenner’s Star Wars figures, before they realized they could do more with that joint than just detachable limbs.  Now, you may have noticed my Emperor has no left hand.  I lost it.  Silly me.  Palpatine’s sculpt was unique to him.  It showed Kenner’s trend towards much less exaggerated stylings, and honestly feels more like a vintage figure than a lot of his compatriots. His robe is a separate, removable piece, which goes on and off pretty easily, and is a pretty solid sculpt to boot.  The paint work on this guy is about on par with the rest of Kenner’s offerings around the time.  It’s all cleanly applied, and the details are fairly sharp.  It’s not terribly exciting, but there it is. Palpatine was packed with a light saber–blue, so as to leave everyone all confused and shocked.  There was also this cool 3D fold-out playset thing with all of these figures.  I really wish I still had that.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I can’t tell you exactly why I got this guy.  I got him from the Farpoint dealer’s room, back when he was new.  He shortly followed my acquisition of Luke from the same series.  I think I just wanted someone to go with him.

#1460: Luke Skywalker in X-Wing Fighter Pilot Gear

LUKE SKYWALKER in X-WING FIGHTER PILOT GEAR

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

” Growing up on the twin-sun planet of Tatooine, Luke Skywalker had always looked tot he stars. He had been told that his father was a great star pilot, and it was clear that the young Luke had inherited some of his skills. In the arid deserts of the Jundland Wastes, Luke and his best friend Biggs Darklighter, would race their T-16 skyhoppers. Tagging womprats in Beggar’s Canyon or threading the Stone needle, Luke and Biggs were the best of friends, and daring pilots. Unfortunately, they were separated when Biggs went to the Academy, and Luke was forced to stay behind.”

Luke Skywalker figures are a hot commodity these days, due to his almost total absence from the main Star Wars toy lines for the better part of two years.  For a good portion of the franchise’s run, it was hard to go anywhere without tripping over a whole pile of Luke Skywalkers. There were a dozen Lukes in the Power of the Force II line alone, and I’ll be looking  at another one of that particular subset today, with Luke in his X-Wing Fighter Pilot Gear.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Luke was released in Power of the Force II‘s first year, as a later addition to the assortment.  He was the second Luke in the line, and the second figure of Luke in this particular gear in general.  Despite the claims on the package that this is Luke in his “X-Wing Fighter Pilot Gear,” which is a little bit misleading.  The figure’s actually wearing his cold-weather flight gear that he puts on to pilot his Snowspeeder during the Hoth Battle from Empire.  He does eventually wear it while flying his X-Wing later, but it’s still more commonly viewed as his Snowspeeder gear.  Not that the two designs are that dissimilar, of course.  The figure is about 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  The sculpt was unique to this guy at the time of his release, however the body ended up getting re-used later down the line for both Wedge and Dak.  Until around 2010 or so, this was actually the only Hoth flight-suited sculpt Hasbro had on hand.  Just like the rest of these early figure’s, it’s a rather dated sculpt.  He’s got the usual exaggerated proportions, albeit masked a little bit by the more padded nature of the design.  He’s still got the insane bulging muscles, and the crazy thin waist, of course.  On the plus side, the detailing on the costume is pretty decent; the ridges on the arms are pretty cool, and the helmet, while a bit on the tiny side, is quite accurate to the source material.  Said helmet is permanently attached to the head, and missing the visor, but removable helmets were still a ways off at this point, so this isn’t bad.  His face is a slightly different likeness than the other Luke’s from this line.  It’s still a bit off, looking more like Ron Howard than Mark Hammil, but that’s a step in the right direction at least.  The paint work on this figure is on par with the rest of this line’s offerings.  It’s pretty clean overall, apart from a few fuzzy lines on the edge of the vest.  Luke is packed with his lightsaber and a small blaster pistol.  The lightsaber is a lot shorter than the initial Luke saber, but I choose not to judge him for that; Hoth is very cold.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got this figure when he was relatively new.  I had gotten the PotF2 X-Wing Fighter as a gift, and didn’t yet have the proper Luke to fly it, so I obviously had to buy this guy.  Along the way, my original was lost, more than likely sold during one of my “purges” over the years.  The one reviewed here is a replacement, picked up at Farpoint a few years back.  He’s hardly the best pilot Luke figure out there, and he certainly shows the line’s flaws quite overtly, but he was my first pilot Luke, and he still holds an important spot in my collection.

#1458: The Thing

THE THING

FANTASTIC FOUR (TOY BIZ)

“Ace test pilot Ben Grimm found his life was forever changed after a fateful trip on an untried spacecraft. Exposure to cosmic rays caused Grimm to evolve into a hulking, brutally strong creature, with a thick, orange, rock-like hide. Dubbing himself The Thing, Grimm, along with Mr. Fantastic, the Human Torch, and the Invisible Woman, decided to make the most of his transformation and aid humanity by becoming a valued member of the Fantastic Four. His unbelievable strength and endurance, combined with his bravery, loyalty and innate kindness make The Thing one of the most heroic humans ever to walk the Earth!”

Almost exactly four years ago, I spent several of my earliest reviews on this site looking at six of the seven figures in the first series of Toy Biz’s Fantastic Four line from the ’90s.  I didn’t review the seventh because he was the only one I didn’t own.  Now I own him, and so now, after four years, I’m completing my reviews of Fantastic Four Series 1.  Let’s look at Benjamin J Grimm, aka the ever-lovin’-blue-eyed-Thing!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

As touched on in the intro, the Thing is one of the seven figures in Series 1 of Toy Biz’s Fantastic Four line, based on the cartoon from the mid-90s.  Ben, like the rest of the titular team, is wearing a variant of his John Byrne-designed costume from the ’80s.  It’s a standard look, and was his main look in the cartoon, so it made sense here.  The figure stands about 5 1/4 inches tall and he has 10 points of articulation.  This version of Ben was sporting an all-new sculpt, which was only ever used for this one figure (barring a few direct re-releases).  Unlike later Thing figures from this line, this guy wasn’t directly based on the cartoon, and as such presents a slightly more detailed take on the character.  I think this may be the best sculpted Thing figure that Toy Biz ever released, quite frankly.  It’s really very good.  There’s a ton of detailing on his rocky skin, he’s got just the right build, and they even managed to very nicely convey Ben’s attitude on the face.  What’s more, the belt on his shorts even has little wrinkles and some stretching, which is an awesome touch.  Comparing this figure to something like Mole Man, who is from the very same series as this figure mind you, is like night and day.  Whoever sculpted this guy had a fun time.  Now, I’m not going to say that the paint ruins this figure, because it certainly doesn’t, but there’s a definite step down from the sculpt to the paint.  There’s paint for the eyes, the belt, and the shorts.  That’s it.  The rest is all the same shade of molded orange plastic.  That was Toy Biz’s style at the time.  That was the style of action figures in general at the time.  And it doesn’t ruin the figure.  But this sculpt would look a ton better with even the tiniest bit of accent work.  The Thing included no accessories, but he does have a “Clobberin’ Time Punh” action feature: when you turn him at the waist, his arms swing up and down. Fairly standard for this era of figures, but I like that it adds a little something to the figure without risk of ruining the sculpt or posability.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Growing up, my main version of Ben was the trench coat-wearing variant from Series 3, so I never had this one.  I’ve been on the lookout for one for a few years now, but it was never a really a search I put a ton of effort into.  This year at Shore Leave, one of the vendors I buy from pretty regularly had gotten in a stock of new loose figures, and thrown some of the more beaten-up figures into the dollar bin.  I was mostly happy meal toys, knock-offs, and the like, but I did dig this guy out.  He was covered in god-knows-what, but I figured it was worth it to grab him and see what sort of condition he was in.  So, I got him home, and I sat down with my cleaning supplies, and after about a half an hour or so, I had a Thing figure that was in pretty great shape.  And now my Series 1 set is complete.  For a dollar.  Not bad.

#1456: Annihilus

ANNIHILUS

MARVEL SUPER HEROES (TOY BIZ)

“Power mad is the only word that can describe the flying nightmare known as Annihilus. He’s not satisfied being the merciless ruler of his own dimension, the bizarre Negative Zone – he wants to be the tyrant of Earth’s universe too! And because he carries the near-limitless force of the awesome Cosmic Control Rod on his chest, he has the power to make his wicked dream a reality! Only the Fantastic Four have been able to block his nightmarish plans of conquest.”

The foes of the Fantastic Four don’t ever seem to get much respect.  Beyond Doctor Doom and Galactus, it’s like they don’t exist.  And that’s a shame, because the FF have a lot of really fun villains.  One such villain is Annihilus, the ruler of the Phantom Zone.  Annihilus has had a few different figures over the years, but he got his very first in 1992, in what was effectively luck of the draw.  I’ll be looking at that figure today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Annihilus was released in Series 3 of Toy Biz’s Marvel Super Heroes line.  Series 3 included Toy Biz’s first versions of the Fantastic Four, and they needed a villain to go along with them.  However, Doctor Doom had already been released in Series 1, meaning TB needed another villain.  Why they chose Annihilus is anyone’s guess.  Perhaps they just thought he had the coolest design?  Who knows?  Annihilus is seen here sporting his classic design, which I believe was still the only one he had at the time of this figure’s release.  The figure stands about 5 inches tall and he has 10 points of articulation.  Like most of the others from this line, Annihilus’s sculpt is rather dated, and looks a little out of place with more modern items, or even figures from just a few years later in TB’s run.  The details are a little more simplified, and, most noticeably, he’s really scrawny.  This was a recurring issue, after Toy Biz moved away from the slightly stockier figures of the first two series, where everyone went too far the other direction.  I don’t believe Annihilus has ever been quite this small.  It should be noted, though, that this is still not a bad sculpt.  There’s some nice work on some of the smaller details, especially on the head, which looks good for the time, if perhaps a little goofy in this day and age.  Though jiust how they’d be handled on later figures would vary, the wings on this Annihilus are permanently affixed to the figure, and much like the original Toy Biz Archangel, there’s a wing-flapping action feature that’s operated by the little lever on the back.  It doesn’t offer a ton of motion, and the wings are sort of small and silly, but it’s a mildly amusing little feature.  Paint on Annihilus is fairly simple.  Mostly, he’s just molded in the proper colors, with only a few actual painted details, which are all just straight colors.  It’s hardly inaccurate to his original design, though, so it’s hard to really complain.  Perhaps some metallics would have added some flair, but beyond that, this feels decent enough. Annihilus included no accessories, but he’s got the wings, so that’s at least something.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t have this figure growing up.  Instead, I had the later one from the main Fantastic Four line.  Unfortunately, that one had a removable head, and I lost mine, so I’ve been without a proper Annihilus for a little while.  I’m slowly working my way to getting a complete run of Toy Biz 5-inch figures, so I grabbed this guy at the Dave Hart Toy Show this past summer, in an effort to get one step closer to my goal. He’s sort of a goofy little figure. There’s no denying that.  But, he’s still entertaining, and that’s really all I look for in an action figure.

#1446: Darth Vader

DARTH VADER

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Once known as Anakin Skywalker, expert pilot and hero, Vader studied the ways of the Force under young Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi. His impatience with the Jedi training made him susceptible to the dark side, which corrupted him as he gave in to his anger and aggression. Vader was almost killed in a confrontation with Kenobi, and was forced to adopt his current life support systems and fearsome body armor.”

You know, it’s been two weeks since I reviewed a Star Wars figure. That’s a long time.  I could go into withdrawal.  Or worse yet, I could get a huge backlog of Star Wars figures to review!  Oh…right…too late.  Well, let’s take another stab at getting through that backlog, shall we?  Let’s have a look at my man Vader here.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Darth Vader was part of the very first series of the Power of the Force II line.  Believe it or not, this was only the second small-scale Vader ever released.  That’s kind of crazy in this day and age where you can’t go anywhere without tripping over like 50 of this guy.  This was long before the trend of 100% movie accuracy, so this figure ends up as a rather indeterminate version of Vader.  I suppose he’s technically an Empire/Jedi Vader, since his robes go under his shoulder armor.  Of course, even the original Vader, who was released to coincide with the first movie, had the robes under the armor, so I think it’s less an accuracy thing and more a “they just never really noticed” thing.  The figure stands 4 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  Vader’s not only taller than his compatriots, he’s also just generally larger.  This is Vader if Star Wars had been made in the ‘90s and he’d been played by Jeep Swenson…the ‘90s were a strange time.  Apart from the overall Swenson-ness, the sculpt isn’t terrible.  The quilted pattern on his undersuit is nice, and most of the important details are there.  The helmet’s a little off, but it was a marked improvement on the vintage version, and it’s not like anyone would ever confuse it for anything but Darth Vader’s helmet. The one notable omission on this guy is his lack of the bottom section of his robe.  However, as with the handling of the shoulder armor, this is something consistent with the vintage release, so maybe Kenner/Hasbro just hadn’t learned yet.  The figure’s topped off with a plastic cape, which makes the already bulky Vader even bulkier.  It’s not a bad piece, but it definitely has a flair for the dramatic.   Vader’s paint is fairly straightforward stuff.  Mostly, he’s just molded in black, with a few little spots of detail work.  Nothing spectacular, but it’s fair enough fore the time.  Vader’s one accessory was his lightsaber, which, like all of the early figures, came in short and long variants.  Mine no longer has his, but I’m fairly certain it was one of the short ones, given the basic time period of when I would have gotten this.  

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I don’t know 100% how this guy came into my collection.  I know how he *didn’t* come into my collection.  Let me ‘splain: the first time I saw this figure, it was just after seeing The Hunchback of Notre Dame in the theatre.  After the movie, my parents took me to the KB Toys in the same mall so I could get one figure.  It came down to this guy or Phoebus from Hunchback.  Having just seen the movie, it was Phoebus, and not Vader, who went home with me that day.  I know that Vader was given to me by my parents shortly after.  Now, if I had to guess, using my much more fully-formed and adult investigative skills, I’d say my parents more than likely bought me both of these figures that day and just gave me Vader a little later.  I can’t know for certain, of course, but that’s certainly the type of thing they’re prone to do.