#2568: R2-D2

R2-D2

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

Remember last week’s Speeder Bike review, where I mentioned setting up an entirely different review completely by accident and getting further than I’d like to admit into it before realizing my mistake?  Wanna see what I started reviewing?  What could possibly be more exciting than that edge of your seat Speeder Bike review?  Gotta be honest, dear reader, it’s not actually that much more exciting, because it’s just another R2 variant.  It’s not like there were a metric ton of those or anything.  But, my subconscious was apparently more on board with this review than last week’s.  Let’s see how it did, I suppose.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

R2-D2 was part of the 1997 “Electronic Power F/X” sub line of Kenner’s Power of the Force line.  The main purpose of the line was to replicate some of the cool battles from the original trilogy with all of their cool effects….and then there was also this somewhat mundane “R2 while he was wandering through the desert in that one scene in the first movie” figure.  People were just lining up for this one, let me tell you.  The core R2 figure isn’t anything super special.  He has a few features that are new, but also trades out a lot of stuff that had become standard.  He’s about 3 inches tall and has a whopping 2 points of articulation, at the top of his two main legs.  He lacks the ankle joints of later figures, of course, but also loses the up and down movement on his third leg, as well as lacking the ability to move his head dome.  These changes are due to his main “F/X feature”, which is a lights and sounds gimmick.  Press the center of his body, and his eye lights up and there are some beeps to go along with it.  It’s okay, but it’s hard to say it’s worth losing all of the posability.  Additionally, it results in some loss of crispness on some of the sculpted details, which is another iffy trade off.  His paint work is actually not terrible.  He’s appropriately grimy for having been rolling through the desert, and he even has the more proper flat silver that most figures at this point lacked.  Of course, it might be an unexpected side effect of the more single-piece construction, I suppose.  All of the Power F/X figures included a rather elaborate base piece, which added to their features.  R2’s is of some rocky Tatooine terrain.  The piece has an arm built into the base, which has a magnet built into the end of it, which catches R2 by the piece of metal in his third leg’s foot.  This allows R2 to be moved back and forth somewhat seamlessly, although it doesn’t work overly consistently.  It’s kind of nifty, though.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Unsurprisingly, R2 was a figure that excited me all that much as a kid, and was subseqently one that I never had much drive to own.  I had every other Power F/X figure before this one…so, of course this is the first one I’m reviewing, right?  Honestly, that’s because he was a rather recent addition (picked up at the same time as the bike, in fact), which made him rather easy to grab and review quickly.  Yes, sometimes what I’m reviewing is based on me being lazy.  I’m sure it shocks you to your core to find this out.

#2567: Gladiator

GLADIATOR

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“The most powerful member of the Shi’ar Imperial Guard, the alien super hero known as Gladiator is also its most devoted protector! Possessing nearly unlimited strength, virtual invulnerability, and a bevy of other abilities, Gladiator uses his powers on behalf of the throne of the Shi’ar Empire – no matter who may occupy it!”

The similarities between Marvel’s Shi’ar Imperial Guard and DC’s Legion of Super Heroes aren’t exactly a secret amongst the fans, and this especially comes to a head with the Imperial Guard’s leader, Kallark, aka Gladiator, who is a pretty thinly veiled take on Superman.  The differences are, however, enough to not actually cross any legal boundaries, making Gladiator a somewhat recurring character when it comes to action feature treatment.  Today, let’s have a look at his very first.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Gladiator is part of the Phoenix Saga series of Toy Biz’s X-Men line, released in 1994 to tie-in with the cartoon’s adaptation of the story from the comics.  Gladiator gets some decent focus in the story, making him a pretty sensible choice for inclusion (certainly a more logical choice than the other Guardsman in the assortment, Warstar), and he helped to sort of round out all of the factions present in the story.  The figure stands a little over 5 inches tall and he has 10 points of articulation.  Gladiator’s sculpt was quite a bulked up affair, befitting most renditions of the character.  He seems to have misplaced most of his neck somewhere, and his arms seem a touch long, but beyond that the proportions aren’t bad.  This body wound up getting reworked to remove the Gladiator-specific elements and was re-used for Toy Biz’s Hercules tie-in line, before making its way back to Marvel in the Marvel Gold line, where it was used for Moon Knight, among others.  The cape’s a separate piece, though, like Dr. Doom, the chain for the clasp is actually sculpted on the main figure, rather than being a part of the cape proper.  The cape sits a little high on the figure, and also has a hole in it to facilitate the action feature, but it’s overall not a bad piece.  The paint work on Gladiator is pretty basic, but also pretty decent.  It’s appropriately bright and bold.  His skin tone seems a touch on the light side, but that’s pretty minor.  Gladiator’s initial short card release didn’t have any accessories, but his long card release added Stryfe’s mace and Silver Samurai’s sword for…reasons?  They had all that space to fill, I guess.  Both versions got the same “Super Strength Power Punch” action feature, which causes his right arm to jut forward when the button on his back is pressed.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Gladiator is the only of the Phoenix Saga figures I didn’t have growing up.  I couldn’t tell you why, because I was a big fan of the whole saga, and I’ve always liked Gladiator as a character.  I guess I just never found him at the right time…I mean, until I did, obviously, since I’m, you know, reviewing the figure and all.  I snagged him very recently, as he was part of a collection of X-Men figures that came through All Time.  He’s a somewhat goofy figure, but I’m glad to have finally finished up the Phoenix set after all these years.

#2561: Speeder Bike

SPEEDER BIKE (w/ REBEL SPEEDER BIKE PILOT)

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Whipping through the forests of Endor on a Rebel strike mission against the Death Star shield generator, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia battled Imperial scout troopers atop highly maneuverable speeder bikes. Considered ideal reconnaissance vehicles by the Empire and he Rebel Alliance alike, their maneuverability and acceleration is superior to both landspeeders and airspeeders. This particular speeder bike was designed and built based on production sketches found in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi Sketchbook.; its creator was renowned Star Wars artist, Joe Johnston.”

Have you ever been so non-started by something that when it came time to do that thing you actually did an entirely different thing for far longer than you’d like to admit before realizing you were actually doing the wrong thing?  Because I have, and it was right here, just moments ago, when I was so “meh” on today’s review subject that I actually started up writing a review for *next* Sunday, and even got so far as uploading that review’s photos before realizing my mistake.  I’m sure that makes you guys feel real great about having to read the following review that my subconscious clearly didn’t want to write.  Well, we’re doing it anyway.

THE TOYS THEMSELVES

The Speeder Bike and Rebel Speeder Bike Pilot were released by Kenner in 1998, as one of three vehicle sets that accompanied the Expanded Universe sub-line of their main Power of the Force line.  While the figures were all based on established characters and designs from Star Wars media other than the movies, the vehicles on the other hand were all focused on replicating un-produced concept work from the films.  This item is, as you may have guessed, the original concept for the Speeder Bikes that would appear on the Endor sequences in Return of the Jedi, and, as the bio above notes, are based on Joe Johnson’s sketch.  In toy form, it’s about 5 inches long, and features a spring-loaded feature that swings the outriggers backward or forward.  The sculpt is definitely on the boxy side, which is true to the original sketch overall, but the process of converting the design into plastic form has made it a good deal clunkier.  This only increases its relative clunkiness when compared to its film-based brethren.  It’s not a bad looking sculpt from a technical standpoint, I suppose.  The detailing is relatively sharply rendered, so that’s good.  In addition to the outrigger action feature, there’s also a missile launcher built in, for a more offensive set-up, I guess.

Included with the Speeder Bike is its own unique pilot, the Rebel Speeder Bike Pilot.  That’s a very unique name, I know.  While the Speeder bikes in the final film were an Imperial vehicle, and subsequently had their own specific Imperial pilots, it seems at some point they were supposed to be the Rebels’ proper.  This guy’s design is rather different from any of the Rebels we actually saw in the film, with his aviator’s cap and goggles.  It’s not that far removed from the WWI/WWII film-inspirations that the movies had, and a similar design element would crop up years later when Marvel introduced Doctor Aphra into the universe.  So, it’s not inherently un-Star Wars.  The figure stands just shy of 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  He feels somewhat on the diminutive side for this line, and I’m not entirely sure why.  I guess he’s just like that.  His sculpt is passable, but compared to the original sketch, it definitely feels like some of the charm of the design was lost in translation.  A lot of that coolness factor just feels gone.  As it stands he’s…fine.  That’s about it.  The paint’s kind of the same deal.  He’s rather drab and not particularly eye-catching.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Expanded Universe sub-set as a whole excites me.  The vehicles from that set as a whole do not.  They’re just kind of bland and not terribly exciting, and they’re certainly not helped by the lack of the 3D back drops.  I never had much attachment to this release, which is why I never really went to the trouble of tracking it down.  I still don’t really have much attachment.  It’s okay.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this set.  They’ve got a decent back stock of Power of the Force, and other cool toys both old and new, so please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2559: Wolverine – Battle Ravaged

WOLVERINE — BATTLE RAVAGED

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“Since long before he joined the X-Men, Wolverine has been squaring off against opponents in all types of battles, from silent ambushes to brawls. His mutant healing factor allows Wolverine to recover from wounds and injuries at a rate much faster than normal, letting him take greater risks when in combat. Fighting is in this man’s nature, but Wolverine must always take care to hold his berserker fury in check and keep his animal nature from taking control.”

And here we are, making it to a full-on seven years here with the site.  How about that?  This takes dedication…or insanity.  I’ve certainly got one of those two things.  Speaking of a strange mix of dedication and insanity, this year, one of my favorite days of reviewing was the “Day of the Wolverines,” where I took a look at 18 of Toy Biz’s 5-inch Wolverine figures.  During that day, I noted that I was skipping the ones I’d actually had as a kid, which meant skipping out on 1995’s Wolverines entirely, since that was the year I got into collecting the line, and I already owned all of that year’s variants.  Since the Day of, I’ve been filling in some of the Wolverines from that year, and today I get to the final, and honestly most important one: Battle Ravaged Wolverine!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Battle Ravaged Wolverine was released in the Invasion Series of Toy Biz’s X-Men line, the eleventh series of the line.  Truth be told, it’s probably my favorite series of the line, for reasons I’ll get to in the relevant section.  The concept on this guy is pretty straight forward: take the basic Tiger Stripe Wolverine design, and just tear it to shreds, as if in battle.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 7 points of articulation.  While I didn’t look at this figure proper during the Day of the Wolverines, I did look at his sculpt, which was re-used in the 1997 “Greatest Archenemies” set.  As I noted in that review, it’s a sculpt I actually quite like.  It’s a little on the large side for a Wolverine, but the build actually works pretty well, and the battle damage is quite well implemented throughout the figure.  There’s a great intensity to the sculpt on this guy, and I just really dig it.  The paintwork is really the main differing thing here, as it gives him a more classic color scheme than the later release.  It works a lot better, and just results in a nicer overall figure than the later release.  There’s actually another repaint of this guy, released as part of 1996’s KB Toys-exclusive Overpower line.  It tweaks the coloring on the claws so that they’re now bone claws, and also makes the shoulders silver….for some reason.  I guess they really needed to keep that silver paint quotient up.  The original release and all subsequent re-uses of the mold had a “Berserker Rage Action” action feature, which slashes the arms downward when you push the lever on his back.  The original release also featured a set of doors, which you could use the action feature to “split” and knock down.  It’s very basic, but a cool extra piece of scenery.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Remember how I said that the Invasion Series is probably my favorite?  There’s a good reason for that.  I got into toys in late 1995, and because of that, the Invasion Series was the one on shelves when I started collecting.  That’s why Havok and Erik the Red were my first two X-Men action figures, and that’s why this particular Wolverine was my very first Wolverine…well, *a* Battle Ravaged Wolverine was my first Wolverine.  This one’s a replacement, because my original went missing at some point along the way.  Whatever the case, I have a real nostalgic appreciation for this figure, and he’s definitely very high up on my list of favorite Wolverines.

#2553: Princess Leia Organa – Ewok Celebration Outfit

PRINCESS LEIA ORGANA — EWOK CELEBRATION OUTFIT

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“An accident during a furious speeder bike chase leaves the princess without a way of finding her Rebel companions. Befriended by Endor’s Ewok civilization, Leia is once again united with her friends, but under different circumstances.”

You know what’s just really the best variant of a main character in an action-oriented action figure line?  An outfit that never sees a single moment of action!  Or, at least, that’s what numerous Star Wars toy lines would have me believe.  Sometimes it works out, of course, and we get cool looks that *could* see some action, if you really wanted them to.  Sometimes we get looks that even *do* see action in later EU tales (Luke’s jacketed look from the end of A New Hope springs to mind).  Sometimes, however, you get today’s focus.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Princess Leia in Ewok Celebration Outfit joined Kenner’s Power of the Force II line in 1998.  This wasn’t the first time this look got a figure, or even the first time it was in PotF; a slightly different version was released alongside a re-packed Wickett figure as part of the Princess Leia Collection in 1997.  Like all the other Leia Collection figures, however, that figure used a lot of cloth pieces, making it stand out a bit from the core line’s releases.  This one instead was an all plastic variant.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and she has 6 points of articulation.  Both the neck and the hip joints are greatly restricted by the figure’s design, but on the plus side, the arms and waist are free and clear.  So there’s that, I guess.  These restrictions do not help with the already very non-action feel of the figure.  Also not helping is the figure’s pose, which is…I don’t know exactly what it is.  The legs are close together and sort of prim and proper looking, but there the arms are just slightly elevated…because?  I don’t know.  I got nothing.  The paint work is all very brown.  It’s accurate, but not super thrilling or eye-catching.  At least it’s well applied.  Leia is packed with a small blaster (hinting at her doing something more exciting than standing around, which doesn’t really track with the rest of the figure) and a freeze frame slide.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve never been much for this particular Leia design, as I always have preferred her more practical get-ups, and her Endor tactical set-up is just a much better design to me.  This figure is one of those ones I have seen many times over the years, and I certainly knew I was going to have to get it some day now that I’m doing this whole complete run of the line thing.  I wasn’t really in much of a hurry, and really only snagged it because it was right in front of me.  Thrilling, I know.  Almost as thrilling as the figure itself, right?

#2552: Wolverine Fang

WOLVERINE FANG

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“The adamantium-clawed Wolverine is the best there is at what he does – no matter what the venue! And, dressed in the guise of the Shi’ar Imperial Guardsman known as Fang, he intends to prove it – by doing battle with intergalactic evil on a cosmic scale!”

Wolverine’s had more than a few costume changes over the years, beginning with a somewhat unintentional change to his mask when Gil Kane drew up the cover to GSXM #1.  That one definitely stuck.  The ones that would follow had varying degrees of success.  Neither Dave Cockrum nor John Byrne was ever much for the tiger stripe design, and both attempted their own replacements.  Byrne’s was the brown costume, a rather successful alternate look for the character, which clung to the roots of the tiger stripe design.  Cockrum’s, introduced just before he left the book in issue #107, was more drastically different, and decidedly not quite as successful.  During a battle with the Shi’ar Imperial Guard, Logan’s costume is destroyed, and he has to quickly find a replacement, which he does by taking down the Guard’s own resident feral guy, Timber Wolf Fang, and stealing his threads.  It’s a unique look, to be sure, and when Toy Biz was looking for excuses for more Wolverine figures (before just deciding to start making stuff up), it proved worthy enough for inclusion as a toy.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Wolverine Fang was the Wolverine variant for the “Mutant Genesis” series, the tenth series of Toy Biz’s X-Men line.  It’s rather amusing that he didn’t arrive until two series after the Phoenix Saga, given that’s where the costume showed up in the comics.  However, not being in Fox’s animated adaptation of the story probably didn’t make it the most sensible inclusion there.  The figure stands 4 3/4 inches tall and he has 7 points of articulation.  While this figure was an all-new mold when he was released, the following year saw it repurposed as Savage Land Wolverine, a figure I looked at during the Day of the Wolverines.  As I noted when I reviewed that figure, this is probably the best Wolverine sculpt to come out of this line.  Certainly one of my favorites, and definitely the closest we ever saw to anything really approaching Cockrum’s style for this line.  The paint work on the figure is pretty decent, albeit pretty basic and straightforward.  It’s certainly very brown, which is pretty accurate.  Wolverine’s accessories are the same as Savage Land Wolverine, so the weapons tree of blades from Spy Wolverine and the two additional blades.  It’s a little bit overkill, what with him already having the claws, coupled with him only actually having one hand to actually grip things with.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Fang Wolverine was not a figure I personally had growing up, but he was my Dad’s Wolverine for his collection, and I rather fondly remember when he got that figure.  When I went on my first real dive back into Toy Biz Marvel the summer after my Freshman year of college, this guy was one of the very first figures I picked up.  Toy Biz figures were being cleared out at frankly insane prices on Amazon at the time, and that’s how I got him, along with a nice little thank you note post-it from the seller, which honestly made my day at the time.  This figure’s really strong, and remains a favorite.  I’d really love to see him updated for Legends.

#2545: Cameron Hodge

CAMERON HODGE

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“Once a mutant-hating businessman, Cameron Hodge had his entire body reconstructed into a biomechanical killing machine known as a Phalanx so that he could more readily pursue his murderous goal: the elimination of all mutants! Driven by hate and rage, Hodge is not the most stable of opponents – but his cybernetic abilities make him nonetheless a lethal one!”

Cameron Hodge was a good example of X-Men‘s ability to allow a recurring background character to really grow over the years, beginning as a seeming ally to the main heroes in the pages of X-Factor, before being revealed to be just as much of a bigot as some of the worst “normal” humans the mutants met.  After his original arc ended with his demise, he was eventually revived by the Phalanx, and wound up playing a role in a few more cross-overs, as well allowing him to play the role of main antagonist in one of the cartoons best episodes (I may be projecting some personal feelings onto that one).  And, since he did a bunch of stuff in the X-Men comics in the ’90s, of course he got a toy!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Cameron Hodge was released in 1995, as part of the “Mutant Genesis” Series, the tenth series of Toy Biz’s X-Men line.  Believe it or not, Hodge was probably one of the best known characters in that particular assortment, which had some serious second and third stringers.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 8 points of articulation.  Hodge is based on his appearance post-Phalanx-assimilation, which was firstly a relevant choice for when this figure hit shelves, and secondly a far more interesting choice than any of his other designs when it came to making toys.  Also, he looks like he’s got a thing of french fries on his head, and who doesn’t love that?  His sculpt was totally unique to him, which I guess makes sense, because, really, who’s he going to share with?  He definitely endorses the general bulking up of the line, which was getting near to critical mass at this paint.  Hodge was usually depicted as a little skinnier, but given the shape-shifting properties of the Phalanx, it’s not a crazy concept.  I particularly like the head on this figure, which does a solid job capturing Hodge’s particularly manic personality.  Cameron’s paint work is probably his weakest point, largely due to an issue of translation of what’s on the page into reality.  The technoarganic nature of the Phalanx just doesn’t look quite as impressive when it’s all just a rather unappealing yellow.  Later takes on the concept would make it work a bit better.  Hodge’s one accessory is a pump that plugs into the very large and very obvious spot on his back.  What does it do?  It lets him squirt water out of his gun hand, of course.  You know, like in the comics!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As much as I liked “Phalanx Covenant”, I never had much interest in this toy as a kid, and as such it went un-purchased by me for a rather long stretch of time.  I even avoided picking him up during my first real return to the line during college.  It wasn’t until very recently that I picked this figure up, and it was mostly because I was already picking up a bunch of other stuff, if I’m honest.  He’s not bad.  Not very exciting, but also not bad.  I’d say he’s better than I’d expected, in fact.

#2538: Joker

JOKER

THE ADVENTURES OF BATMAN AND ROBIN (KENNER)

My last Kenner Batman: The Animated Series review had me taking a look at one of the line’s patented wacky variants.  Variants were kind of central to the line’s success, covering not just Batman and Robin, but also some of their antagonists.  As I touched on in prior reviews, not all of the variants Kenner rolled out were “wacky”.  Some of them were actually quite sensible, including today’s focus, a pretty solid variant of the Joker!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

This Joker figure, known in the collector’s community as “Machine Gun Joker” because of the big machine gun accessory he included, was released in Series 2 of Kenner’s Adventures of Batman and Robin line in 1997.  He was Kenner’s fourth animated style Joker, following the basic, jetpack, and pogo stick variants.  He’s a completely show accurate figure, since Joker sported the coat and hat from time to time.  The figure stands 4 1/2 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation…provided the head hasn’t snapped off at the neck joint like mine has, thereby removing a point of articulation.  It’s okay, years of therapy have managed to get me through the loss.  This version of Joker sported an all-new sculpt, not re-using the parts from the prior variants.  It’s probably the best old school style Joker sculpt that Kenner did, for what its worth, being a fair bit more on model than the earlier versions, and just generally having cleaner detailing and a more solid overall construction.  In terms of paintwork, he’s again a bit of a step-up, correcting the issues with the bluish skin, as well as just generally getting the colors closer to their on-screen counterpart.  The application is basic, but pretty clean, and just some of Kenner’s best work, again.  Joker was packed with the machine gun I mentioned earlier in the review, as well as a bundle of TNT, complete with Joker’s face on it.  Both pieces are a touch oversized compared to the figure, but for the time, pretty straight forward, and unhampered by the gimmicks, which was pretty darn cool.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Machine Gun Joker has the distinction of being my first Joker action figure, picked up when he was brand new, on a trip to the store with my Dad.  If I recall correctly, I specifically went in looking for a Joker, since I didn’t have one, and this one was the most straight-forward Joker available at the time.  He stuck as my primary Joker figure for most of my childhood, and I’ve definitely got an attachment to it.  Honestly, I was pretty happy to find he’s just such a good figure when going back for the review.  He remains one of my favorite Joker figures.

#2531: Decoy Batman

DECOY BATMAN

BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM (KENNER)

Interspersed with its selection of rather faithful recreations of characters and designs from the show, Kenner’s Batman Animated offerings also had a need to keep a lot of colorful variants of its main character coming at a regular pace.  So, we definitely got a *lot* of Batmen, whose importance to the overall narrative definitely had a range.  Some of them were sensible additions, perhaps taking one gadget or moment and building a whole figure around it, while some were just kind of bonkers.  And some were bonkers at the forefront, but ultimately not that weird when you explored them just a bit further.  Today’s figure fits that particular, very narrow mold.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Decoy Batman was officially part of Kenner’s tie-in line for Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, released in 1993.  While the last two figures I looked at from this line were directly lifted from the film, this one’s a bit more dubious.  His whole gimmick is that his torso launches away as a “decoy”, while the underlying Bruce Wayne figure can get away, I suppose, which kind of tracks with the scene in the movie where Bruce places his cape and cowl on a sawhorse and flings it out of a building in an attempt to escape the police…and now that I’ve written that out, I realize this figure’s maybe a better tie-in than I realized.  I mean, sure he’s not a direct lift from the scene, but I guess the concept’s there.  He fits into that “building a figure around one moment” dynamic.  Kudos to Kenner, I guess.  And, like, anti-kudos to me for not thinking this through before writing the review.  I mean, sure, I could go back and re-write the whole thing and make it look like I knew from the start, but tell me: where’s the fun in that?  Okay, maybe I should actually get to the reviewing.  This figure stands just shy of 5 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation.  The body sculpt for the figure is unique to him and it’s not bad.  The build is in line with the other standard Batmen from the line, and while the costume details are somewhat made up, they aren’t too crazy or zany.  He re-uses the main line’s Bruce Wayne figure’s head, and it’s a pretty darn spot-on old-style Bruce Wayne head, so no complaints there.  Perhaps the weirdest element of the whole thing is the way his action feature works; the Bruce head is on a spring-loaded neck piece, which can be depressed into the torso, much like a turtle, allowing for the “decoy” head and chest piece to snap over top.  It was a gimmick that Kenner would use a few more times for their DC lines, as well as their Shadow tie-in line.  It’s goofy as heck, but it does get the job done, and honestly doesn’t really impede the figure too badly. The clip-on decoy piece is another pretty solid match for the animated series designs, and is a pretty basic Batman from the show.  Well, in sculpt, anyway.  The paint work opts to forego the usual Batman colors for a black and red number.  For some reason, they really liked making Bruce-to-Batman figure’s red.  I really don’t know why that is, but it happened on three separate occasions, so that’s one heck of a pattern.   Ultimately, it’s not the worst color scheme ever, and does sort of fit the art deco designs of the show, at least somewhat, but it’d certainly be cool to see this figure in a more standard color scheme.  In addition to his decoy chest piece, Decoy Batman was also packed with a grapple…which I lost.  Look, it hardly seemed as essential as the main gimmick of the figure, alright?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t get Decoy Batman new, since the whole line was gone from retail shelves by the time I was actually getting into collecting.  So, I was definitely on the follow-up market for him.  Ultimately, he was kind of a bit of a consolation prize, if I’m honest.  I was at Baltimore Comic Con, and saw the Phantasm at a dealer’s table.  It was, however, $20, and that was too much for me, so instead I got this guy because he was $5.  Can’t really say I was at all let-down by the set up, because I wound up getting the Phantasm a bit later down the line anyway, and Decoy Batman’s a pretty fun figure in his own right.

#2524: Phantasm

PHANTASM

BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM (KENNER)

As I’ve brought up on this site, my favorite Batman film of all time is easily Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, the Animated Series’ cult classic theatrical feature. It’s an impressively crafted story, and actually does a phenomenal job of actually salvaging some of the elements of the rather messy Batman: Year Two story.  The story’s original antagonist, Reaper, was reimagined as the titular Phantasm, a chilling and truly intimidating villain.  Unsurprisingly, the Phantasm got some toy coverage in the tie-in line, and I’m looking at that figure today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Phantasm was released as part of the Mask of the Phantasm tie-in line in 1994, and was really the main focus figure in the line-up.  I know, what a shock.  What was also *supposed* to be a surprise was the Phantasm’s identity, which was to be hidden under the figure’s mask in the package.  However, for some reason, someone at Kenner thought it would be a much better idea to instead package the mask off of the figure, thereby revealing the Phantasm’s secret identity before the film even hit theaters.  Yay.  The figure stands 4 1/2 inches tall and she has 4 points of articulation.  The Phantasm’s sculpt was all-new, and, well, it’s technically a little bit compromised.  It’s not entirely Kenner’s fault, to be fair.  In the film, the reveal that the Phantasm is really Andrea Beaumont is hidden by the fact that the two character’s designs sport almost entirely different builds.  It’s a total cheat in the movie, and not something that’s quite so easily rendered in three dimensions.  For the purposes of this figure, Kenner opted to sculpt Andrea as she’s seen post-reveal, and then provide add-on parts to approximate the Phantasm design.  Ultimately, it’s a compromise, but it’s probably the optimal compromise.  The underlying figure is a pretty solid recreation of Andrea’s design.  The head in particular is a good match to the model.  Technically, for true film accuracy, she shouldn’t have the glove on her right hand, but I’m ultimately not too bugged by the added symmetry.  Phantasm’s paint work is pretty basic, but a decent match for her colors in the movie.  There’s no odd color changes this time around, so she’s nice and screen-accurate.  Phantasm is packed with her mask/hood and cape, which slips nicely over the head, and her scythe attachment for her hand.  They make for a passable, if perhaps not quite as intimidating, recreation of the primary Phantasm design.  The figure also originally included a gun because, you know, gun, right?  Mine doesn’t have that piece, which, you know, is just such a bummer, right?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t get the Phantasm when she was brand new, mostly due to being just shy of being only enough to actually see the movie.  Also, when I finally did see it, she kind of scared the crap out of me, so I held off for a bit longer.  Ultimately, I ended up getting her as a Christmas present from my parents a few years later, and she’s stuck with my collection  since.  While the figure obviously isn’t a pitch perfect recreation of the film design, I’ve still always found it to be a really fun offering, and certainly one of my favorite Animated pieces.