#2239: Stormtrooper

STORMTROOPER

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Within the Death Star, a group of Imperial stormtroopers are in hot pursuit of Han, Luke, Leia, and Chewbacca, as they attempt to return to the impounded Millennium Falcon. But the heroic escapees blast away before the shock troops have a chance to return fire.”

Throughout the entirety of the vintage Star Wars line, we got exactly one basic Stormtrooper.  Just one take on a design that was present across all three of the original films (in the line’s defense, the same can be said of Darth Vader and Chewbacca; if the design didn’t drastically change, Kenner didn’t do a new figure.  Only R2 and 3PO got by, largely do to new gimmicks introduced in the later films).  For Power of the Force II, the same was almost true.  We got the standard Stormtrooper in ’95, and that steroid abusing fiend was it for four years.  But, just as the line was winding down, we managed to get an honest to god update, which I’m taking a look at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Stormtrooper was released in 1999 as part of the Power of the Force II Commlink assortment which was at stores alongside the Phantom Menace product.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 13 points of articulation.  Yes, you read that articulation count correctly; this guy’s probably the most articulated standard release figure that the PotF2 line ever put out.  Not only does this guy get actual, proper knees, he also gets cut joints at the elbows, and even a universal joint on his neck.  He can look up!  It’s a long way from the vintage Stormtroopers and their complete lack of neck articulation, I’ll tell you that much.  This sculpt would end up re-used more than a few times going forward, including for the Marvel Comics-styled trooper I looked at a little while back.  While I was a little down on that figure (due largely to it being released 7 years after this one), in the context of the line that spawned it, it’s actually quite a nice sculpt, and it’s understandable why Hasbro clung to it for so long.  The paintwork for the figure is pretty solid, and like the sculpt is generally an improvement over the Stormtrooper that preceded it.  It’s also an early example of Hasbro experimenting with thermodynamic paint, allowing the figure to take some damage to his armor when dipped in cold water.  The Stormtrooper is packed with a long blaster (which, like the Marvel-styled figure, he can’t quite hold right) and a weapons rack to store it on as well.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The last assortment of PotF2 figures wasn’t one I recall seeing much of (although I did get the Han figure as a kid), so this guy isn’t one I had growing up.  He was added to my collection during one of my big buying sprees of PotF2 figures in late 2018.  He’s sort of an odd figure for the line, because he’s objectively one of the best, but on the flip side, it means that when later versions replaced him, he didn’t have that same nostalgic bend to fall back on.  That being said, he’s still a cool figure.

#2333: Jean Grey, Cyclops, & Wolverine

JEAN GREY, CYCLOPS, & WOLVERINE

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

Love triangles are far from uncommon in serialized fiction, with a good deal of narratives being built around at least one.  The X-Men have been host to a fair number of them, but I don’t think any of them will ever beat out the Jean Grey/Cyclops/Wolverine triad…which is kind of amusing, because it was originally only a minor plot line, mostly meant as a way to give Logan a little character development, while also strengthening Scott and Jean’s relationship and solidifying them as the definitive couple.  Then Wolverine’s popularity went through the roof, Jean died and came back a few times, and Scott became the X-writers’ favorite punching bag, and now they’ve got some sort of vague polyamorous relationship going on?  Listen, the X-books are being written by Hickman, and he hasn’t deigned that they make any sort of sense yet, so we’ll all just have to sit back and wait for him to tell us whether or not we understand anything that’s going on, alright?  While we’re waiting for that, let’s flash back to the ’90s, when things were simpler, and we just had your basic love triangle between a newly married couple and their surly 100-year-old friend.  The basics!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Jean Grey, Cyclops, and Wolverine were released late last year as a Fan Channel-exclusive Marvel Legends three-pack.  Like the Havok and Polaris pack, they are loosely built into the “80 Years of Marvel” celebration, and also like that pack, the box is all themed around the trading cards of the ’90s.  It’s a cool design, but as with most of my figures, these things could ship in plastic baggies for all I care–actually no, I do care!  Paper bags!  Let’s be a little more environmentally conscious!  Until then, I guess a throwback to the ’90s trading cards is alright.  What was I doing?  Grand standing?  No, wait–action figure review! Yeah, let’s go with that!

JEAN GREY

“Jean Grey is an incredibly powerful mutant with the psychic powers of telepathy and telekinesis.”

After being Marvel Girl, then Phoenix, then Dark Phoenix, then dead, then not dead anymore, Jean decided to ditch the whole supramyn concept and go with her regular-ass name.  Seems fair, honestly.  It does make marketing her a little tricky, though, since everyone else is using these really sweet code names and she’s just regular-old “Jean.”  Whatever the case this particular regular old Jean is an important one, because she finally completes the core ’90s X-Men line-up (though we still need a proper Colossus)…well, for most fans, anyway.  Some people were fortunate enough to have found the Rocket Raccoon Series Jean, which had this same costume, but to call that release “hard to find” would be something of an understatement.  Plus, that was just before Legends really got the formula down, so an update is not unprecedented.  So, here Jean is in all her head-band-wearing, Jim Lee-designed-glory.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation.  She’s built on a variant of the same body that Phoenix was built on, but with a new upper torso and thighs.  She also re-uses the bracers and belt from the previous ’90s Jean, which seems pretty sensible.  She does not re-use the head from that figure, instead getting not one, but two new ones.  She gets one that’s a direct recreation of the last one, being the more comics-accurate hairdo (seen with Wilson on the right there), but also gets an X-Men: The Animated Series accurate head with her slightly tweaked headgear from the show.  That’s actually a first for toys, and I’m genuinely thrilled that I can now have a cartoon accurate roster.  Jean’s paintwork is mostly pretty basic, though I will say that there’s a little bit of slop on the blue portions of the costume on mine, and I had to check a few samples to get the best one.  Hasbro was definitely having a more lax QC day on this figure.  Jean doesn’t get any accessories beyond the extra head…well, I mean, unless you want to count the next two figures, which would be somewhat valid.

CYCLOPS

Scott Summers can fire optic blasts so powerful that they can only be harnessed by a special ruby-quartz visor.”

Cyclops has already gotten his modern-Legends-take-on-the-’90s-design due, with a pretty darn cool figure, I might add. However, in a similar fashion to the Jean situation above, said figure was never amazingly easy to find, and he’s kind of an essential piece to a ’90s X-Men set-up.  However, Hasbro didn’t want to just do a straight re-issue, so they’ve given us a figure that works to fill in the roster for fans that missed the first figure, while still having something to offer for fans who already have him.  What’d they do to change things up: bomber jacket.  Yeah, Scott was prone to wearing a jacket over his costume in the ’90s (especially on the cartoon), so that’s what this guy replicates.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 30 points of articulation.  He uses the same starting point as his predecessor, the Bucky Cap body, and also gets the same head and collection of straps as the previous, minus the wrist straps.  He then gets the jacket from Old Man Logan and the arms from Punisher.  The jacket works better with the straps than I’d expected it to, and while I’m still not sure it’s 100% perfect, it’s decent.  I do wish the arms had a better range of motion, but that’s really the only thing.  The other thing that this guy changes up quite a bit is the paint.  While the last one went more for the Capcom colors for the costume, this one leans more heavily on those animated colors, so there’s a darker blue and a brighter yellow.  I wasn’t sure about the change at first, but I kinda like it in person.  The only downside is that now I want an un-jacketed version to match this and a jacketed one to match the prior.  Oh darn.  Cyclops is packed with two extra heads, one depicting his ’90s sunglasses, and the second his ’70s/’80s, allowing for some nice options on the civilian front.  He also includes a second left hand in a standard fist, for those that don’t like the optic blast hand.

WOLVERINE

“The mutant known as Wolverine possesses razor-sharp Adamantium claws and the ability to heal virtually any wound.”

Did you know that Wolverines have an average lifespan between 7 and 12 years in the wild?  That’s your fun FiQ fact for this tiger-stripe Wolverine review!  Wolverine is *definitely* no stranger to the toy world, the Legends world, or even the modern-Legends-take-on-the-’90s-design world.  We got his brown costume twice, and so now I guess it was time to even things out with the tiger-stripe design, especially since, even at two-to-a-case, the last release had really disappeared.  This one acts as something of a smaller-scale companion to the 12-inch Legends Wolverine.  I loved the heck out of that figure, so the prospects of it translating to the smaller line were definitely a plus for me.  The figure stands just shy of 6 inches tall and he has 34 points of articulation.  Structurally, he’s the same as the Apocalypse Series Wolverine, which makes sense, that being a very ’90s Wolverine and all.  It’s also just a really solid sculpt, and Hasbro can hardly be faulted for getting a little more mileage out of it.  The paint work changes up in a fashion quite similar to how it worked on Cyclops.  In fact, the shades of yellow and blue appear to be identical.  I don’t like the dark blue quite as much, but the yellow’s not bad.  Wolverine gets the best accessory selection of the set, with two extra heads, a pulled down mask, and an alternate set of hands with bone claws.  The two extra heads replicate the ones included with the larger figure, so there’s an unmasked head and an angry battle-damaged head.  I really like that battle-damaged head, and I’m glad we got it at the smaller scale.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was fortunate enough to get both Wolverine and Cyclops’ original releases at retail pricing, but Jean pre-dates me getting back into Legends collecting, and honestly I probably wouldn’t have found one anyway.  As I got more and more of the ’90s team, the lack of a Jean was more and more of an issue.  I was hoping for at least a re-issue, but when Hasbro announced an all-new figure, I was definitely happy, even more so when I saw that animated head.  I know a lot of people weren’t thrilled about the prospect of having to re-buy the other two, but I don’t mind so much, and find that both figures have something to offer even if you’ve got those previous releases.  All in all, this is a great set and I’m glad we got it.  Now I can finally stop using Phoenix in my X-Men display!

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

#2325: Boba Fett vs IG-88

BOBA FETT VS IG-88

STAR WARS: SHADOWS OF THE EMPIRE (KENNER)

Boba Fett, infamous bounty hunter and weapons master, vanished from sight after Darth Vader turned over the frozen body of Han Solo. Boba Fett was expected to deliver his bounty to Jabba the Hutt’s palace on the planet Tatooine some time ago. Knowing the value of his shipment and the various hunters determined to take it from him, Fett disappeared into the mists of the galaxy’s Outer Rim to bide his time. Meanwhile, Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca and Princess Leia search the galaxy for his ship, Slave I, with the hopes of freeing Solo from his carboinite prison, Fearless, clever, and always full of surprises, even the Empire cannot pinpoint this master hunter’s whereabouts./em>

The battered war droid IG-88 was among the bounty hunters commissioned by Darth Vader to hunt down and capture the Millennium Falcon after the Battle of Hoth. IG-88 is one of five droids created by Holowan scientists, who deliberately programmed the units to maximize their freedom of action in combat. This experiment proved tragic when, upon activiation, the new IG prototypes eliminated their programmers and escaped to fulfill whatever mission lie within their distorted metallic intellects. IG-88’s programming has caused it to value Imperial credits over organic life, making it a devastatingly efficient hunting machine. It is loaded down with a mass of heavy weaponry such as a heavy blaster and blaster rifle as well as a flamethrower, sonic stunner and grenade launcher.

It has been rumored that IG-88 is one of the many bounty hunters seeking Boba Fett and his prisoner. Though bounty hunters rarely break their vocational code by stealing or eliminating one another, the capture of Han Solo promises enough credits to cause most hunters to forget this formality. This is especially true for IG-88, who has little regard for laws, especially unwritten ones. The droid is literally a killing machine and one of the most dangerous hunters in the galaxy. Many consider it the equal of Boba Fett, who is generally known as the most effective bounty hunter anywhere. Upon entering the Tatooine system, Boba Fett was ambushed by the droid in its ship, IG-2000. Certain of his ability to destroy the droid, Boba Fett soon discovered that IG-88 had a few tricks of his own…”

Man, those Kenner cards sure were wordy, huh?  Guess they really wanted to fill this pack’s extra card back space.  Not much else I can add here that wasn’t already said, I guess.  So, uh, let’s look at Boba Fett and IG-88, shall we?

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

There were two comic packs released as part of the Shadows of the Empire subline of Power of the Force in 1996.  While the other was just slight re-poses of Vader and Xizor, this one paired off a valid variant of Boba Fett with the as of yet un-produced for the modern line IG-88.

BOBA FETT

One of the earliest Power of the Force figures, Boba Fett was also one of the most sought after.  This pack was one of the handful of attempts to alleviate that issue.  He’s really not all that different from the single carded figure overall.  The construction is essentially the same, with the figure standing 3 3/4 inches tall and having 6 points of articulation.  His sculpt keeps the same general aesthetic as both the single card and deluxe releases, but with a slightly different pose.  This one’s got more of a basic “just standing around” pose.  The main change that occurs for this figure is a paint one; while both the single and deluxe releases used the slightly more colorful Return of the Jedi color scheme for Fett, this guy goes with the original, green-heavy Empire design, making this actually the first truly Empire accurate Fett in figure form.  Fett is packed with his rocket pack, scarf/braid, and his blaster rifle.

 

IG-88

IG-88 is the only of the Executor Bounty Hunters not to be released in PotF2 proper, with this being the only way to get him until he got another figure in Power of the Jedi.  I guess getting an IG-88 is worth getting saddled with another Boba Fett.  This figure stands just shy of 4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  Unlike most Power of the Force figures (but, by contrast, like a lot the PotF vehicles), IG’s sculpt is actually just slightly retooled from his vintage release.  Given that was one of the very best vintage sculpts, it’s an understandable choice, and also somehow makes IG one of the least dated looking ’90s era figure.  The sculpt has been slightly reworked in order to add a mid-torso joint, bringing him in line with the rest of the figures of the era.  IG-88’s paintwork is pretty decent; it’s more involved than either of the vintage offerings, with a lot of variance to the actual finish of his metal parts.  It looks a little more movie accurate than the prior versions.  The figure is packed with two blasters, one long, one short, both modified to make them easier for IG to hold.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

While I wasn’t quite on the IG bandwagon when this set was new, I recall my cousin Noah having it, and it stuck in my memory for a while.  When it came time to fill in the holes in my PotF collection, I knew I needed an IG for sure, and was lucky enough for this pack to be traded into All Time early last year, so I was able to grab one.  IG’s definitely cool, and honestly, this Boba’s better than the single carded release, so I’d consider this pair a win.

#2289: Death Star Trooper

DEATH STAR TROOPER

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Grand Moff Tarkin created this select force of soldiers to defend the galaxy’s ultimate weapon, the Death Star. These elite troopers manned the gun towers during the Battle of Yavin, a conflict that resulted in the Death Star’s destruction.”

The original 12 Kenner Star Wars figures were largely populated by the film’s most distinctive characters, or even a few stand out designs, such as the Tusken Raiders and Jawas.  The slight odd-man out to this line-up was the Death Squad Commander, later renamed the Star Destroyer Commander, a uniformed and helmeted Imperial trooper based on a character that really didn’t get much action in the film proper.  When the line was brought back in the ’90s with an even deeper reach of characters, it would still take most of the run to finally get a follow-up to that original character, this time named the Death Star Trooper.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Death Star Trooper was released in the Power of the Force II line in 1998.  He and Ree-Yees were the only two knew figures in 1998’s final main assortment, resulting in both of them being quite difficult to get at their time of release.  General lowered interest in Power of the Force as well as a reissue of this figure brought his price way down, to the point that he’s pretty much just as easily found as any other figure from the line.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  He was an all-new sculpt at the time and….well, it’s certainly an interesting one.  By ’98, the buffed-up, pre-posed look had been pretty much weeded out of the line.  This guy definitely wasn’t buffed up, but somehow he manages to be one of the most pre-posed the line ever produced.  And exactly the purpose of that pose?  Who knows?  He looks like he’s going for a jog or something.  I mean, the Death Star is a pretty big place.  They gotta get around somehow.  Aside from the posing, the sculpt is honestly pretty good, with a solid recreation of the uniform, and even a removable helmet to boot!  Sure, he’s got some wonky headgear going on beneath it for some reason, but it’s still pretty nifty.  His paintwork is fairly basic, but does what it’s supposed to do, and looks pretty decent.  The trooper was not seen armed in the film, but for this figure was armed with a ridiculously large blaster rifle, which despite the pre-posing, he still can’t hold very convincingly.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve got the original Death Squad Commander, which has given me a soft spot for the general concept of this figure, but I didn’t own this one growing up, largely due to how rare he was at the time.  I ended up getting him during one of my big Power of the Force splurges at All Time.  He’s not anything amazing or special, but he’s at the very least not as boring as some of the other Imperial guys.

#2282: Strong Guy

STRONG GUY

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“Strong Guy joined X-Factor for the simplest of reasons–the regular paycheck!  Caring little about the problems between man and mutantkind, he lives instead for the finer things in life–wine, women and song!  And he’s not above using his tremendous mutant strength to put those who would criticize his lifestyle in their place!”

After three assortments of pretty solid team building, the fourth series of Toy Biz’s X-Men line is one of the stranger line-ups the line would produce.  I mean, it doesn’t have the weirdest character choices per se (well, apart from Tusk, because who the heck went “where’s my Tusk action figure?”), but more that it seems generally unfocused and all over the place.  It would be this assortment which introduced off-shoot team X-Factor into the line.  And what character would they use to launch?  Would it be team leader Havok (who had been scrapped from the Series 3 line-up), or even X-universe mainstays Polaris, Multiple Man, or Wolfsbane?  Nope, it was Lila Cheney’s bodyguard Guido, who had just taken the name “Strong Guy,” denoting his status as a…uhh….strong…guy.  Yeah…

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Strong Guy was added to the Toy Biz X-Men  line-up in 1993 as part of the aforementioned Series 4 line-up.  He would see a re-issue in 2000 in ever so slightly different colors as part of the KB-exclusive X-Men line, but beyond that, this was it for Guido, at least until last year’s Minimate and this year’s Legend.  Lucky Guido.  The figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  He’s a little bit on the small side for Strong Guy (though that made him a nice fit with Hasbro’s Marvel Universe a few years later), but he’s got enough of a size difference that it works.  Strong Guy is missing joints at the elbows and knees, I can only assume due to his larger size.  Honestly, he makes out alright without them, so it’s not the end of the world.  Much like Ch’od, who was similarly limited in terms of articulation and also similarly-sized, Strong Guy’s sculpt ends up as a pretty solid offering.  The character’s distinctive proportions are well captured, and there’s a lot of character in the figure’s face, which helps to keep him looking fairly unique.  He also matches up well with the art stylings of the time, honestly in a far better fashion than any of the other X-Factor characters.  Strong Guy’s paint work is pretty solid for the time.  All of the important details are there, and the application is fairly clean.  Technically, there should be a patch of blue on his vest, but honestly the X-Factor art was stylized enough at the time that Toy Biz can be forgiven for not realizing that wasn’t just a harshly shaded patch.  Strong Guy included no accessories (though, like most Toy Biz figures of the time, he has his hands molded to hold *something*), but he did have a “Power Punch” action, which raises his arms up and down when his torso is spun around.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Strong Guy is not a figure I had growing up.  He actually was added to my collection during my post-freshman-year-of-college Toy Biz binge, after finding him at All Time Toys.  He was still packaged, and, for whatever reason, I just never got around to opening him.  He ended up sitting unopened for another 8 years, until I finally cracked him open a month ago in preparation for this review.  I don’t know why I delayed so long, but he’s a pretty fun little figure, truth be told.

#2268: Transforming Dick Grayson

TRANSFORMING DICK GRAYSON

BATMAN FOREVER (KENNER)

For day four of my Post-Christmas reviews, I’m taking a look at something it’s been…Forever since I’ve reviewed.  Yes, the site may have started with a series of four Batman Forever reviews, but there have been none featured since.  Now, six years later, we return.  Are you feeling it?  The significance?  The shock?  The awe?  Well, you should be, because this whole thing’s a very big deal.  Let’s just revel in all of this for a bit, shall we?

 

Done reveling? Cool.  Let’s review a Robin action figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Transforming Dick Grayson was one of the first assortment of Batman Forever figures released to tie-in with the movie in 1995, which was the same assortment that gave us three of the four previously reviewed Forever figures on this site.  It’s worth noting that there was no straight forward standard Robin in this initial assortment; you just had to decide whether you preferred this or Hydro Claw Robin as your go-to annoying Chris O’Donnell Robin figure.  The figure stands just shy of 5 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation.  His sculpt was unique to him in the initial assortment, but would later get repainted blue and used as Triple-Strike Robin later the same year.  It’s an okay sculpt, being generally pretty faithful to the film design.  He’s noticeably a lot skinnier than Hydro Claw, and for that matter a lot skinnier than Chris O’Donnell was in the role.  It’s not terribly off, and works fine for the more classical Robin proportions, so I can’t knock it too much.  His pose is fairly neutral, apart from the slight bend in the left arm; this was present on Hydro Claw, and it’s also on Street Biker Robin, so maybe that’s just how they assumed Robin would pose in default.  There’s a good chance that character design sheets for the movie may have had him in such a pose, which is further supported by all of the prototypes having a totally different hair style than O’Donnell sported in the film.  Whatever the case, the pose keeps him from looking too stiff, so I can’t fault it.   The figure’s paint delivers a fairly standard set of Robin colors as you might expect, but does have one interesting feature: his Sudden Reveal Mask!  Yes, in order to give Dick his usual mask when transforming him into Robin, you reveal the mask by dipping his head in cold water, and then remove it again by dipping it in warm water. It would probably be a more compelling feature if it wasn’t bound to be just a little bit off in both modes, but it’s nifty enough as is.  To aid in his transformation, Robin also included a cape (which on my figure hadn’t had all of the excess molded parts cut off…see the picture), a chest piece, wrist guards, and boots.  And, of course, he also has Robin’s signature bat-brass-knuckles.  Never leaves home without them.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This guy was a Christmas gift from my brother Christian, who was eager to get something that a) I didn’t already have and b) would amuse me.  Apparently, he caught the packaging illustration at the top of this guy’s card and felt that alone was amusing enough to warrant getting this for me.  I can’t argue with him on that; the packaging art on this is a national treasure.  The figure?  He’s okay.  Perhaps not terrible impressive in his own right, but still one of those figures I never had that I always had this morbid desire to own just for the sake of owning him.

#2261: Prince Xizor

PRINCE XIZOR

STAR WARS: SHADOWS OF THE EMPIRE (KENNER)

“Prince Xizor is the head of the galaxy-wide criminal organization known as Black Sun, his power and influence challenged only by the Emperor and Darth Vader. A villainous mastermind, Xizor uses his huge , intergalactic shipping operations as a legitimate front, employing millions of criminals to execute favors for the Empire and carry out its his own evil agenda. His characteristic lack of emotion is due much to his Falleen ancestry which evolved from a species of reptile. Cold and clever, he plots his moves with a diabolical genius and fights with the skill of a tera kasi master, stopping at nothing to get in his way. Those that dare challenge Xizor generally meet with death by his own hand or by one of his myriad of henchmen. His favorite proverb: “To contend with Xizor is to lose”.”

In 1996, the Star Wars expanded universe got its first real time in the public spotlight, courtesy of the multimedia event that was Shadows of the Empire.  A movie launch without the movie, Shadows encompassed books, comics, video games, and of course toys, and told a story set in the gap between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.  Since it was set between two established chunks of the story, there wasn’t very much at stake just pitting our heroes against Vader’s forces, since we all knew the outcome wouldn’t arise until the end of Jedi.  This meant there needed to be a new villain.  Enter Prince Xizor, a villain whose imposing nature was hindered only by not being Darth Vader in a universe where Darth Vader exists.  Oh, and also by totally having his look stolen by Ivan Ooze a year prior.  Xizor was central to much of the story’s marketing, and wound up with two figures from Kenner for their part of the tie-in.  I’m looking at the standard single release today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Prince Xizor is the final single-carded figure in the Shadows of the Empire spin-off line of Power of the Force II figures.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  That said, only the arms really have practical movement most of the time, thanks both to the weird braids on the back of his head, and the thick plastic robe that encases most of the figure.  A lot of this Xizor’s sculpt is shared with the two-pack release of the same time, but it remains unique to the character.  That’s…good?  I mean, it’s certainly different from everything else.  That said, Xizor was generally depicted as a fairly skinny guy, and this figure does not follow that set-up.  He definitely falls into that really buff PotF2 aesthetic, and perhaps exemplifies it even more than other figures from the main line.  It’s really only exaggerated by the really bulky robe, but even with that removed, it’s still not great.  I mean…there’s some interesting detail work going on under the robe, so that’s cool, but it’s not like it’s a particularly endearing design.  It’s a relic of its time at best.   The colorscheme is also a definite relic, and easily feels like the least Star Wars-y aspect of the character.  Neither purple nor the pale green feel like the fit the established Star Wars color scheme, especially the colors of the original trilogy era.  The application on the paint is decent enough, but that doesn’t really change how out of place he feels with the others from the line.  Xizor is packed with a pair of shield blades, which can snap together into one larger shield.  They’re nifty enough, and honestly one of the more exciting parts of the figure, because they’re unique if nothing else.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Even as a kid, I never liked Xizor.  He always felt like an intruder, trying to hide amongst the rest of the Star Wars line, but always sticking out.  As such, I never owned him.  But, after managing to get everyone else from the Shadows line, I felt it was wrong for him to still be missing.  I ended up grabbing him during one of my PotF buying sprees last winter.  There were a lot of figures, so I guess that made buying Xizor a little more palatable.  He’s still not really a favorite of mine, and having the figure in hand hasn’t really changed any of my opinions about it or the character, but here it is, I guess.

#2260: Action Sailor

ACTION SAILOR

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

“Since joining the Joes, I’ve held the record for personally sinking more enemy ships than the entire 3rd fleet, and that’s on a bad day!  I’ve torpedoed so many hulls, I’m surprised the ocean hasn’t overflowed with scrap iron!  On dry land, I’m a fish out of water.  I’d rather be on my sea sled than in a tank or jet fighter; luckily I have plenty of courageous teammates to handle those jobs. Making the seas safe from criminal scum is my life’s work, and I can’t think of a better way to do it than as a member of G.I. Joe!”

In 1994, it was the 30th anniversary of the G.I. Joe brand as a whole, but perhaps not the best spot for the brand’s 3 3/4 inch scale, which had ruled the market for 12 years.  In its last gasp of breath before going on a hiatus, the line merged styles with its 12-inch predecessors for a line of commemorative 3 3/4-inch figures based on the original Joes.  Each of the major branches of the military was covered with one figure based on the original packaging illustrations.  In the case of the “Action Sailor” that meant a pretty sick looking wet suit!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Action Sailor was released in 1994 as part of the final year of the Real American Hero branding’s vintage run.  He and the other four 30th figures were sold as deluxe boxed items in packaging that replicated the original box.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  While the original Action Sailor was in a more standard uniform, this figure instead gives us the sailor in his Navy Frogman outfit, by far the most distinctive look for this branch.  His mold was brand new to him, but a slightly altered version was used by Fun 4 All later in the ’90s when they put out their Keychains.  As I noted in that review, I find this and the Action Pilot to be the best of the 30th sculpts.  It’s a lot more organic than the soldier and marine were, and gets to add in the details of a fully kitted out design.  This version of the mold is also a lot sharper than the keychain recreation, allowing the details to more clearly be made out, making it all the more impressive.  Also, the better quality plastic means that he’s not as easily broken, allowing me to finally have a diver without the broken pelvis.  Yay!   His paintwork is a fairly basic set-up; the black is just molded plastic, with some silver and flesh toned details mixed in throughout.  The Action Sailor included his sea sled, a scuba tank, two flippers, a harpoon gun, a flashlight, and a hose.  My figure’s missing the gun, flashlight, and hose, but even so, he makes out alright on the accessory front.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Action Sailor is important me because the Keychain release is actually what got me into small-scale G.I. Joe.  That one was never quite as impressive as a proper Joe, but I hung onto him for a good while.  It wasn’t until much later that I even knew that non-keychain releases existed, nor did I know of the difference in quality.  This guy came from a small collection of Joes that All Time got in about a month before the huge collection.  He got a little overshadowed, but I was still pretty happy to have the proper Hasbro release after all these years.  He’s not majorly different, but it’s different enough that I felt he was worth the purchase.

#2254: Beast

BEAST

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“Blue-furred and boisterous, the Beast’s monstrous exterior conceals the fact that he possesses the mind of an articulate, well-read genius! Ever ready to answer the call should either man or mutant be in peril, the Beast employs both his dexterous digits and his scientific skills as a member of the X-Men.”

The ’90s X-Men line-up was a pretty sizeable, even just going by the cartoon’s more paired down version of the cast, which for a burgeoning toy line can be a slightly daunting prospect.  It took several assortments to make their way through the main cast.  Founding member Beast was a later addition, though certainly not the latest.  I’m taking a look at that figure today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Beast was released in Series 6 of the Toy Biz X-Men line.  Aside from the cartoon-creation Morph, he was the only X-Man proper in the line-up.  The same figure would subsequently be re-issued as part of the “Classics” line-up which put out all of the main cartoon cast in one assortment, and then again as part of the Marvel Universe line.  The three figures are essentially identical, and it’s worth noting that my figure comes from the “Classics” release.  This figure’s sculpt would also serve as the inspiration for both the 10-inch and Steel Mutants figures.  The figure stands just over 5 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation…in theory.  In reality, it’s more like 7, because his action feature makes the joints at the knees and ankles effectively useless.  Said action feature is dubbed “Mutant Flipping Power” and means that there are springs in his knee and ankle joints, which are supposed to allow him to flip.  In my experience, it was never a very reliable feature and just made it rather hard to keep the figure standing.  Tied into the feature was this weird switch thing on the figure’s back, for which I’ve never figured out the purpose.  His sculpt definitely follows that early ’90s look for the character, at his most bulked up and monstrous.  Nevertheless, he’s still got that sophisticated Henry McCoy expression on his face, as if he’s contemplating the moral quandaries of his current heroic endeavor.  The rest of the sculpt is surprisingly smooth for such a hairy guy, especially when compared to other, similarly textured characters from this and surrounding series.  I can only guess they were going for more of a stylistic thing on Hank.  The figure’s pretty light on the paint front, with most of him being just molded in a light blue.  There’s a bit of paint for his shorts and belt, as well as his eyes and teeth.  For whatever reason, his eyes are solid yellow; he’s gone back and forth between having pupils and pure white eyes, but the yellow’s more of a Nightcrawler thing usually. Beast was packed with a suction cup-sporting bar to hang from, which was cool enough, though the suction cup long ago fell off of mine.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I don’t actually recall much about getting this figure.  I think he was one of those “my Dad got one and then I also wanted one” figures.  I certainly would have wanted him for the purposes of filling out my X-Men line-up.  He’s an okay figure.  The action feature gets in the way here more than on most Toy Biz figures, which can be annoying, but his sculpt’s fairly decent, and he definitely fit with that toon aesthetic.

#2247: AT-ST Driver

AT-ST DRIVER

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

The AT-ST, commonly referred to as the “chicken walker” was first introduced into Star Wars in Empire Strikes Back, but really became prominent in Return of the Jedi.  The vehicle would end up being one of the earliest vehicles available in the Power of the Force II line, hitting shelves in 1995.  However, while the vehicle was available right away, it would take a little bit of time for it to finally get its distinctive driver, whose figure I’m taking a look at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The AT-ST Driver was added to the Power of the Force line in 1997, unfortunately right after the vehicle he was meant to pilot left shelves, making him a little bit of a tough sell.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  I’ve looked at a fair bit of this figure’s sculpt before, since the torso, pelvis, and legs were all re-used for the 1998 Scanning Crew figure.  He had a unique helmeted head, as well as arms with gloves.  The sculpt is fine, but not really anything to write home about.  I will say that the AT-ST Driver-specific parts made it slightly more exciting than the Scanning Crew, as well as making him a little easier to justify army building with that helmet in place.  As a whole, though, he’s still a little soft an puffy by modern standards.  As with the Scanning Crew, the paint on this guy’s somewhat on the bland side, but that’s due to the film design being a whole lot of grey.  Hey, they can’t all be winners, right?  Otherwise, the goofy aliens wouldn’t stick out and be fun.  The AT-ST Driver was packed with two different styles of blaster rifle, which I suppose is nice of them to include, even if he’s destined to never hold them, what with driving the AT-ST and all.  Still, it’s nice to get something.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got this guy from All Time.  I know, shocker.  He was in a collection that got traded in, he was still carded, but his card and bubble were in really ratty shape, so I took the opportunity to grab a “new” one without paying a new price.  He’s okay, but hardly the most exciting, much like the Scanning Crew figure was.  These guys are meant to accent the more exciting figures in the set, but not be the primary focus themselves.  In that respect, I guess they do succeed.