#2039: Speeder Bike (w/ Scout Trooper)

SPEEDER BIKE (w/ SCOUT TROOPER)

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

Just over a month ago, and then also two weeks before that, I took a look at the first and second releases of the Imperial Speeder Bike from Kenner’s Power of the Force II line.  At this point, it can’t be too much of a surprise that I’m following those up with the final piece of the trio.  I’ve looked and both Luke and Leia with their stolen rides, but why not look at the proper rider of the ride, the Biker Scout?

THE VEHICLE ITSELF

As I noted in the Luke review, the speeder bikes in these sets were all identical, meaning this one is exactly the same as the one I looked at alongside Leia back in March.  I liked it then, I liked it the second time, and I still like it now.  It’s hard to go wrong on this one.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

This was our first Biker Scout since the vintage line, and, unlike that one, this one was designed specifically with riding the bike in mind.  To facilitate this, the figure’s articulation scheme is changed up a bit.  Rather than the standard 6 points, he’s got 7, which includes movement at the knees, as well as a a hinge-style neck, allowing for him to look up and down.  It’s the same articulation spread used for the Swoop Trooper, but I think it actually works a little bit better for this guy, since the configuration of the bike means he’s more likely to need to look upwards.  Despite the extra articulation, he still ends up being rather pre-posed, even moreso than the other two Speeder Bike figures.  He’s got a defined squat, and really deeply bent arms.  It’s the arms that I think are the worst bit of it, because they don’t quite work as well with the bike as you might hope.  It’s a shame they couldn’t also spring for elbow joints to match the knees.  Despite its awkward stance, the costume details on this guy are at least accurate, if perhaps a bit on the soft side.  His paintwork is limited to black detailing on a (very yellowed) white plastic, and it’s rather on the sloppy side.  Like, even for this line, it’s really quite sloppy.  While Luke and Leia both got accessories in addition to the bike, the Biker Scout was not so lucky.  No comically enlarged comically small Biker Scout blaster I’m afraid.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Luke was the one I got as a kid, and Leia was the most recent addition.  Where does this guy fit into it all?  Well, not that far ahead of Leia, actually.  I picked him up in the Farpoint 2018 Dealer’s Room, from one of the vendors I frequent.  I’d long wanted one, and this one was a case of right price at the right time.  Ultimately, he’s really the weakest of the three variants, though.  The main figure’s just not as strong as a proper figure as the other two, nor is he a particularly endearing Biker Scout variant.  It’s kind of a shame this was his only Power of the Force release, but there’s always the Power of the Jedi single-card.

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#2024: Snake Eyes & Scarlett

SNAKE EYES & SCARLETT

G.I. JOE: NINJA FORCE (HASBRO)

For its first three decades, G.I. Joe was in a rather frequent state of change, attempting to keep itself matched with the times.  Since hitting a smash success with the A Real American Hero incarnation in the ’80s, there’s been a bit of difficulty updating, since a lasting fanbase has prevented them from completely revamping things the way they may once have done.  In the early ’90s, they made a bid at a more informal re-vamp, by breaking out some of ARAH‘s established characters into smaller sub-series, each following a popular theme of the time.  Mainstays Snake Eyes and Scarlett found themselves at the hoist into the “Ninja Force” brand, a decidedly foreign tone for a line that had “American” in its title.  Given the line’s hiatus just a year after this re-branding took center stage, it was perhaps a little too foreign for the established fanbase.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Snake Eyes and Scarlett were both released in 1993, during Ninja Force‘s second year running.  The comics by this point had interwoven both Snake Eyes and Scarlett with Cobra Ninja Storm Shadow, whose move over to the Joe side had led to him being Ninja Force‘s central character during its debut year, and these two coming along to join him seemed like a rather sensible move, at least from a marketing perspective.

SNAKE EYES

“SNAKE-EYES excelled in Long Range Recon Patrols and high-risk covert missions in Southeast Asia. His success was based on his ability to use everything from trees to fog when making himself virtually “invisible,” even to skilled Cobra Ninjas. He perfected his mystical martial arts techniques with the same ninja clan that trained STORM SHADOW. Snake-Eyes was living a self-disciplined, tranquil life in the High Sierras when HAWK recruited him for the G.I. Joe team. Since then, he has proven himself an invaluable asset to the Ninja Force and one of the fiercest fighting menaces against all Cobra legions.” 

This Snake Eyes marked his fifth time gracing the small-scale line, which made him the most prevalent character in the line (though Duke would catch him by virtue of getting two figures released that same year).  Snake not joining the Ninja Force until its second year may seem a little odd at first glance, but it’s likely that his very recently released V4 figure from ’91 prevented his presence for the sub-brands ’92 launch.  Up to this point, Hasbro hadn’t really done the same character two years running (apart from Cobra Commander, who was granted a new figure every year from ’91-’94), so I guess they wanted to let the Commando Snake do his thing a little longer.  Snake Eyes stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 13 points of articulation.  Snake Eyes’ articulation was a marked change from where the line had been for it’s prior nine years, by virtue of the addition of an action feature.  Squeeze the legs and his arms swing up and down for his “Basami Slice”.  Said feature limits the hip movement to more simple swivels and removes the waist.  Removing movement for a figure that’s part of the “Ninja Force” does seem like an odd choice, but it was the direction things were going at the time, so you can’t really fault Hasbro from leaning into that curve.  This figure’s design took the opposite position to the V4 release, which had almost completely abandoned Snake Eyes’ ninja side, and in contrast plays up the ninja side about as much as is possible.  In fact, you’d be forgiven for not realizing this was Snake Eyes at all at first glance.  He’s got actual, visible eyes, for Pete’s sake!  Where’s the signature eyewear?  Morphed into some sort of full faceplate thing, I guess.  He’s also bulked up substantially from his prior figures, because that’s what the ’90s does to you.  It’s actually not a bad sculpt all around, with solid detail work, showing a definite progression from earlier in the line.  Snake Eyes’ paintwork is actually pretty involved for an Snake Eyes figure.  He’s got TWO colors!  That’s crazy!  Snake Eyes was packed with an impressive selection of accessories.  He included three different swords of varying sizes and styles, plus a small knife, nunchucks, a pair of claws, and a display stand.  Mine is missing the knife and claws, but with that many accessories to start with, he doesn’t feel like he’s missing too much.

SCARLETT

“SCARLETT began her training in the martial arts at age nine and was awarded a black belt at age 15. She was not only physically ahead of her time, but mentally as well. She graduated summa cum laude from two Ivy League universities and went on to excel in training courses at all four branches of the armed forces. Cobra often mistakes her for just a pretty face rather than a member of G.I. Joe’s elite Ninja Force, which makes her perfect for undercover missions. She is great friend to each of the Joes, especially SNAKE-EYES, and a deadly enemy to Cobra.”

Despite being in the line’s first year and being a prominent fixture in both the comics and the cartoon, this was only Scarlett’s second figure, a full decade after the original figure.  She wasn’t previously as linked to the whole ninja-thing as Snake Eyes, but the two have been linked since very early on, so her place here as a companion to Snake Eyes was reasonable.  The figure is just under 3 3/4 inches tall and she has 13 points of articulation.  Like Snake Eyes, she has an action feature that limits the hips and waist.  Her action feature, the “Kato Kick” works a little differently than Snake Eyes, since it’s a kick, and there’s a sort of looser way of activating it.  If Snake Eyes’ design was a departure from his usual design, Scarlett’s is even more so. There’s really nothing left of her original look, apart from her red hair, I guess.  The rest of her look leans really heavily on the ninja thing, enough that this same sculpt was easily re-purposed into Chun-Li the same year.  Scarlett’s headsculpt was actually a notable improvement over the less attractive original Scarlett head, better matching her depictions in other media.  She makes use of soft-goods for both her pony tail and sash.  They sort of lend themselves to being all sorts of curled up and messy, but they were a decent enough idea.  Her paintwork is nice enough.  She’s very green, which was an interesting contrast with the red hair.  Not the most attractive color scheme, but not terrible when compared to some of the other figures from the same period of the line.  Scarlett includes the same accessories as Snake Eyes, but molded in yellow instead of blue.  My Scarlett’s missing even more of the extras, but again, with this many, it isn’t quite as much of a loss.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When I first started getting into G.I. Joe, I was always rather perplexed by this subset of the line.  To my younger self, they seemed kind of pointless and goofy, but I’ve kind of gained a new appreciation for them.  I’ve always been a big fan of Snake Eyes and Scarlett, so when this pair showed up in a big ’90s Joe lot at All Time Toys, I fished the two of them out. Are they hokey?  Yes.  Are they the best versions of the characters?  No.  Are they a lot of fun?  Absolutely.

As I noted, I got this pair from All Time Toys, who have been getting a rather steady stream of G.I. Joe collections as of late.  So, if you’re looking for old Joes or if you’re looking for other cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2017: Scorpion Alien

SCORPION ALIEN

ALIENS (NECA)

We interrupt our regularly scheduled Avengers coverage for a look at another “A” franchise.  Yes, it’s April 26th, or 4-26, also known as Alien Day, or at least it has been for the last few years.  And this year, I did actual manage to flag something special to review for the occasion.  Last month, I took a look at the NECA’s Kenner-inspired take on Sgt. Apone.  Today, I’m following that up with my first look at one of NECA’s Kenner-style Aliens, namely the Scorpion Alien, the closest the original line got to a standard-issue Xenomorph variant.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Scorpion Alien is the second of the three figures in the Kenner-inspired Series 13 of NECA’s Aliens line.  As sort of the quintessential alien of the original line, it was a little bit of a surprise that the Scorpion Alien wasn’t in the first Kenner-inspired assortment, but my guess would be that NECA was looking to space him out a little bit from the other more standard Alien variants.  At this point in the line, a more standard Xeno is a little more appreciated.  The figure stands 8 inches tall and he has 39 points of articulation.  The Scorpion Alien uses the general model of the recently released Ultimate Alien Warrior as a starting point, mostly cribbing the internal workings and articulation scheme of that figure.  Most of the exterior is new; I think the pelvis and maybe the lower legs are the only truly un-changed parts.  Everything else gets a new skin.  It’s not *terribly* different from the film design, just a lot spikier, really.  For the sake of mixing things up a bit, and making him a little more unique, NECA’s also changed up the musculature a little bit, making him ever so slightly bulkier in areas such as the shoulders and the thighs.  It matches better with the slightly stouter build of the old figure, making him a more true adaptation of that figure.  The paintwork on this figure also leans pretty heavily on accuracy to the original’s exact coloring, with a heavy bronze accenting.  It’s a good look, though, as always, I’m slightly partial to blue, so I wouldn’t be opposed to a re-paint.  Still, this is a good look for the figure, and I appreciate the heavy bronze to black ratio.  The Scorpion Alien doesn’t have any accessories, but he does include a reprint of the comic included with the original figure.  I was slightly saddened by the lack of a blast apart feature, but I can’t really blame NECA for leaving that one out.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Since I was already picking up Apone, the Scorpion Alien was a pretty easy sell for me.  Though not far removed from the original design, he’s always been my favorite Kenner Alien design, so I was happy to see him show up in this line-up.  If you have any of the other Xenos from this line, he may not feel like much new, but I dig the changes they made, and I think he makes for a fun variant.  Hope you didn’t mind the detour.  The Marvel stuff will be back tomorrow!

I picked up this guy from my friends at All Time Toys, who have (or had, at least) the whole series.   If you’re looking for toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2012: Apocalypse

APOCALYPSE

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“The megalomaniacal mutant villain known as Apocalypse believes that total war between humans and mutants is inevitable. In order to weed out those he feels are weak and unsuitable for the coming conflict, he manipulates mutants into battling one another, calculating that with the help of the strongest and most ruthless survivors he can conquer the world and become ruler of all – both man and mutant!”

Introduced in the ’80s, as a foe for the recently launched X-spin-off X-Factor, Apocalypse has gone on to become one of the X-franchise’s most enduring foes.  Throughout the ’90s, he maintained a rather prominent place in at the center of a lot of conflicts and cross-overs, and also wound up as a big-bad for the ’90s X-Men: The Animated Series, and, by extension, got some pretty solid coverage from the toyline that ran alongside it.  He was actually among the very first figures released in the line, but due to evolution of the character’s design, he found himself up for a second figure quite quickly.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Apocalypse was released in Series 4 of Toy Biz’s X-Men line, just two years after his initial figure debut.  Following Magneto, he was the second true remake of a Series 1 figure (Wolverine had also shown back up, but all of his figures up to this point were using unique designs, so it’s every so slightly different).  The figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 8 points of articulation.  He’s actually quite a step-down on the articulation front when compared to his predecessor.  He got an all-new, much more bulked up sculpt, based on the steady changes to Apocalypse’s design since he’d first appeared in the ’80s.  This was very much the current Apocalypse design at the time, making him a more definitive take on the character than his prior release had been.  His sculpt is a fairly decent one, and definitely had a little more menace to it.  The head in particular really captured how Apocalypse looked in the comics at the time.  His color work was another marked change from the prior figure, and again befitted the changing design of the character.  This one, with his brighter blue accents, follows the lead of the cartoon design.  I do miss the black details, but overall, it’s a decent colorscheme, and certainly one that’s accurate to the character.  Apocalypse was packed with a spare set of arms, simulating his techno-shifting abilities. There’s a claw arm and a drill arm, both of which are pretty neat.  They swap out at the shoulders, which means that both they and the regular arms do have a slight tendency to pop out of place when you don’t want them to.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I had a copy of this guy growing up, but it was a ways after getting the first one, who remained my favorite.  That one went missing, so I picked up this replacement during one of my splurges of 5-inch Marvel figures, about a year or two ago.  He’s an okay figure, and was certainly a more accurate figure at the time of his release.  Personally, though, I find that the changes make for a figure that’s just not as much fun to play with as the original was, so he’s always been second gear to me.

#2005: Cyber-Link Batman & Cyber-Link Superman

CYBER-LINK SUPERMAN & CYBER-LINK BATMAN

SUPERMAN: MAN OF STEEL (KENNER)

“The Man of Steel teams up with the Dark Knight to form the ultimate crime-fighting team!”

After a rash of success with their various Bat-themed lines, in 1995, Kenner tried to expand their DC reach, giving a dedicated line to DC’s other big hero, Superman.  Superman: Man of Steel was not a smash success like its counterpart Legends of Batman, but did manage to get two regular assortments, plus some deluxe figures, and even a few multi-packs.  In an attempt to get a little bit of synergy from the two lines, Kenner decided to team up the lead characters, as they had been so many times in the comics, releasing the pack as part of Superman’s line to give it a slight boost.  Today, I’m looking at that set.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Cyber-Link Superman and Cyber-Link Batman were the only set offered up in the second round of Multi-Packs from Kenner’s MoS line.  After the poor performance of the “Superman & foe” layout of the first assortment, this one was a push from Kenner for a better selling product.  Despite their propensity for just dropping these sorts of variants without much explanation or thought, these two actually got a backstory.  “Cyber-Link” was an Elseworlds concept, an alternate universe where Batman was a Metropolis resident and he and Superman were a crime-fighting duo.  Trace elements of Kryptonite within the Earth’s atmosphere necessitated the use of the Cyber-Link suits seen here.  All of this was explained in the 11-page Christopher Priest-penned comic included with this set.  It’s a surprising amount of backstory for something that seems kind of straightforward, but I guess they were trying to inject a little bit more of Legends of Batman into Man of Steel.

SUPERMAN

He’s the star of the line and the star of the set, so I guess he gets to go first.  The ninth out of nine Superman figures, this one didn’t exactly cover new ground, but was interesting in his lack of a specific purpose like we had seen with the prior variants.  It’s definitely a different sort of design for the character, a departure from his classic look.  He’s even sporting the mullet still, further removing him from the Superman we all knew.  Of course, in light of things like the New 52, I guess the design doesn’t feel quite so out there anymore.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  Yay for waist joints!  Despite his non-standard nature, the sculpt for this figure is actually pretty decent.  The pre-posing that would plague Total Justice was starting to settle in, but it doesn’t seem quite as bad here.  It’s got sort of a dynamic “just about to leap into action” look about it.  He also doesn’t have any trouble staying standing, which is nothing short of a miracle with most of these figures.  His head, despite the dated hairstyle, is a good take on Superman, and the removable cape is quite nice, and further supports the dynamic stance.  Superman’s paintwork doesn’t stray too far from his classic colors, though the blue and yellow are kind of metallic, and there’s quite a bit of black.  There are also a number of sculpted lines that just sort of get ignored here, though they would be more emphasized on later uses of the mold.  Superman included no accessories, though his hand looks like it was supposed to hold something at some point.

BATMAN

Man, how often is it Batman that plays second fiddle?  Obviously, this was his first figure in this line, though he was hardly lacking on figures from his own lines.  Batman’s design here isn’t quite as foreign as Superman’s, but that may be partly because he’d just had a more fluid design up to this point.  He’s a little more on the armored side, and some of his color elements have been moved around a bit, but otherwise he’s going to pass the squint test.  The figure, like his Kryptonian counterpart, stands 5 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  Batman’s sculpt was unique to him, and is an okay offering, though I don’t think it’s quite as strong as Superman’s.  The posing seems a bit more extreme, and the proportions a bit less balanced.  He also has a little more trouble staying standing, though he still doesn’t face plant nearly as often as some of these guys.  I do kind of like that little sneer to his expression; it’s unique for a Batman figure.  His paint/color work is about on par with Superman.  It’s just slight variations on the usual colors, and some of the sculpted elements are kind of ignored, but the overall work is solid.  Like his packmate, he includes no accessories, but still looks like he’s supposed to be holding something.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I had none of the Man of Steel two-packs growing up.  In fact, I didn’t have anything from the line beyond several Series 1 figures.  However, my obsessive toy-nerdiness meant that I gazed upon their photos many a time on the back of the package and on Raving Toy Maniac’s old archive page, so they’ve always been in the back of my mind.  A loose set ended up traded into All Time Toys alongside a larger collection of ’90s toys, and since there’s not a huge market for these guys, I felt compelled to save them from hanging around the store for forever.  Superman’s my favorite of the two, but I kind of dig both of them, and all their crazy ’90s glory.

As noted above, I got these from All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for other cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2004: Speeder Bike (w/ Luke Skywalker in Endor Gear)

SPEEDER BIKE (W/ LUKE SKYWALKER IN ENDOR GEAR)

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

A couple of weeks ago, I took a look at the first of three versions of the Imperial Speeder Bike released by Kenner in their Power of the Force II line.  The vehicle’s mold was first introduced in the vintage Return of the Jedi line, and was then re-packaged in the ’90s, with one of three different pilots.  I’ve already looked at the one with Leia.  Today, I look at her brother Luke, alongside his own Speeder.

THE VEHICLE ITSELF

The speeder bikes in these sets were all identical, meaning this one is exactly the same as the one I looked at alongside Leia two weeks ago.  I liked it then, and I still like it now.  I imagine I’ll still like it when I get around to the third variant of this set.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Like the Leia figure included with the last one, this one has an Endor variant of Luke Skywalker.  Luke spends a little bit less of his time in this gear, but it’s still a fairly distinctive appearance for the character.  Like Leia, it had previously appeared in the vintage line, but this was the first we saw of it in this re-launch.  It would also be our only Endor Luke for a little while, as figures of him from Jedi tended to go for his, well, Jedi appearance.  As such, this figure’s sculpt would remain completely unique to him.  He stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has 7 points of articulation.   Check out those sweet knee joints!  That was a pretty huge deal.  Luke’s head is rather similar to the Endor Rebel trooper, not only with the same helmet, but also a rather similar facial structure.  This Luke’s sculpt was notable for not including his outer vest; he was not the only version of Luke to omit it in this line, but he was the first one.  Like his sister, Luke has a removable rubber poncho piece.  This one’s not quite as nice.  It isn’t very well fitted to the figure, making him look really pudgy.  It also lacks the nice, subtle paintwork, meaning it’s just a lot of unpainted tan plastic.  This guy was packed with a variant of the green lightsaber included with the basic RotJ Luke, though this one was wider than that one so that his slightly enlarged grip can still hold it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As a kid, I only had one Speeder Bike, and it was this one.  I was definitely a Luke kid, so I needed to have another version of him, and the Endor one was one of my favorites.  That being said, I remember the actual figure didn’t get a ton of use; instead he was robbed of his poncho and speeder, which I gave to my standard Jedi Luke.  Looking back at this figure, I kind of remember why that was the case.  He’s not a bad figure, but he’s not as strong a figure as the Leia.

#1998: Sabretooth

SABRETOOTH

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“Sabretooth is Wolverine’s greatest enemy. Both are products of the Top-Secret Weapon X program. But instead of using his super-sharp claws and fighting abilities for good, Sabretooth became the Evil Mutants’ master assassin! Sabretooth has the same powers as Wolverine, including a mutant healing ability. What makes Sabretooth so dangerous is the fact that he’s even more savage in battle than Wolverine! When the two of them fight, it’s anyone’s guess who will win.”

Despite his connection to Wolverine, Victor Creed, better known as Sabretooth, first appeared as a foe to Iron Fist.  Like fellow X-foe Mystique, he was an example of long-time X-scribe Chris Claremont spreading the love so to speak, and introducing characters he intended to use in X-Men in some of his other books.   Whatever his source, he’s been an enduring foe for Wolverine and the X-Men, and was at the height of his popularity alongside them in the ’90s, when he got his first action figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Sabretooth was released in Series 2 of Toy Biz’s X-Men line.  He’s based on Sabretooth’s original John Byrne-designed costume, which, interestingly enough, Sabretooth had just ditched in the comics at the time of this figure’s release.  The early line was kind of plagued with things like this, which is why characters had a tendency to show up a second time pretty quickly (Sabretooth’s second figure would arrive just three series later).  The figure stands 5 inches tall and has 8 points of articulation.  Sabretooth lacked neck articulation, a surprisingly common phenomenon in the early years of the line.  Unlike other figures this happened to, Sabretooth doesn’t really have any specific gimmicks preventing a neck joint from being added, so I guess it was just a design thing.  Whatever the case, it’s a bit limiting on posing.  Sabretooth’s sculpt was unique to him.  It’s okay, but not really anything to write home about.  It leans closer to the weaker of the Series 1 sculpts than it does the stronger Series 2 sculpts.  The details are rather soft, especially on the face, the hair is rather oddly shaped, and the proportions are really on the scrawny side for a Sabretooth figure.  His paintwork is pretty basic; the standard colors are all handled decently.  The two shades of yellow for the fur and his hair are kind of close to each other, meaning they kind of blend together and look kind of odd.  Sabretooth was packed with this weird sort of claw thing to hold.  He also had an action feature, where the front plate of his stomach could be flipped back and forth.  One side is clean, while the other has claw marks, thereby simulating his healing factor.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

By the time I was collecting, this figure had vanished from shelves, replaced by his more cartoon-indicative second figure, so that was the one I had.  I picked this one up a couple of years ago second hand.  Part of his appeal was being the first copy of this guy I’d seen without horrible paint scraping on the eyes.  He’s not really a great figure…or even a particularly good figure.  I guess if you really like his original costume, that’s a plus, but it’s not even the best version of that costume on the market.

#1990: Speeder Bike (w/ Princess Leia Organa in Endor Gear)

SPEEDER BIKE (W/ PRINCESS LEIA ORGANA IN ENDOR GEAR)

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

The Star Wars franchise has long placed a good deal of emphasis on the distinct vehicles utilized by its heroes and villains, with at least a few new designs for every film.  For Return of the Jedi the cool new vehicle was the speeder bike, a hovering cycle that was perfectly tailored for exciting chase scenes.  It of course got a release during the vintage line, and by extension, it found itself among the re-purposed vehicle molds for Power of the Force II in 1997.  Where the prior release had been sold on its own, for PotF2, it was available with one of three pilots: the Biker Scout, Luke Skywalker, and today’s focus, Princess Leia Organa.

THE VEHICLE ITSELF

The main focus of these sets was the Speeder Bike, seen here as it appears on the forest moon of Endor.  As I touched on in the intro, a lot of the vehicles for Power of the Force II re-used the molds of their vintage counterparts.  For the bikes in particular, there’s a definite feeling of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.  Measuring about 7 inches in length and standing about two inches off the ground, the Speeder Bike is a fairly decent replica of the on-screen version of the vehicle.  Some of the features have been simplified ever so slightly, and it still has the original mold’s adjustments to make seating the figure on it a little easier, so the controls are vertically oriented rather than horizontally, and there’s still that little plunger that held the original figures’ legs in place.  The plunger was no longer necessary thanks to the vehicle specific riders, but I can’t complain about it remaining, since that keeps it backwards compatible, and meant it could still be used with figures not specifically designed for this set.  The foot pedals have springs built in to maintain tension, allowing the bike to stay up straight even if not totally balanced in its weight distribution.  Later bikes would instead resort to flight stands and the like, but I actually like how this works, and it certainly makes it playable.  Speaking of playable, there’s a whole other spring-loaded feature designed with play in mind.  When you press the pack on the rear of the bike, it pops apart into several pieces, simulating the rather catastrophic damage the bikes tended to take in the movie.  In terms of coloring, the original bike was always a little on the pale side.  This one went a little more accurate, and also supplied some decals if you wanted to go even further with the accuracy.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Included with this bike was a variant of Leia, seen here in her camo gear from Endor.  Since this is what she’s wearing when on the bike, it’s pretty sensible, don’t you think?  Leia’s Endor appearance had previously appeared in the vintage line, though this would be its debut here for Power of the Force.  It would, however, later be retooled and released alongside a Commemorative Coin.  But this one was first.  She stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has 7 points of articulation.  These pilot figures were the first to sport knee articulation, which was a definite plus for this Leia, though the articulation is perhaps a little rudimentary in their implementation.  The sculpt is about on par with the rest of the line.  The helmet is permanently attached to her head, which is honestly the best way of handling it.  Her poncho is a separate piece made of a somewhat rubbery material.  It’s a little bit bulky, but not terrible as a whole.  Under the poncho, Leia’s got a fully defined uniform, which is a respectable match for what she was wearing in the film.  Leia’s paintwork is actually pretty darn decent.  Most of it’s pretty basic, but the work on the helmet and poncho is subtle and quite nicely implemented.  Leia is packed with a blaster pistol which, while it may look really similar to Han’s, is actually a totally unique sculpt.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As a kid, the only of these sets I had was the one with Luke.  Back last year I finally picked up the one with the Scout Trooper.  Leia here?  The last of the three to be added to my collection.  All Time got her in last winter, and I picked her up during my splurge of PotF2 purchases.  For the money and time it takes to acquire, this release of the speeder bike, regardless of which figure it comes with is really the best option.  It’s pretty accurate, the spring loaded features are fun, and it scales nicely with the other offerings.  Plus, the Leia figure that’s included is actually not a bad offering, and is probably the best of the three potential figures to go with.

#1989: Sgt. Apone

SGT. APONE

ALIENS (NECA)

“Tough and gritty, Apone keeps the Marines in line. Right arm now bio-mechanical.”

When NECA’s highly-popular Predator line started running out of actual movie-based Predators to release, they started reaching back to the ’90s line of Predator figures from Kenner, a fairly popular move.  Obviously, it’s not a huge shock that the Aliens line would follow suit.  We got the Kenner variant of Ripley back on the first Alien Day, with Vasquez following suit the next year.  There was an assortment of Kenner inspired Xenos released between the two in 2016, and we’ve finally gotten a follow-up assortment just this year.  We’ve also gotten our first main series release for a Kenner human, Sgt. Apone, a character whose movie version we have still yet to see, due to Al Matthews, Apone’s actor, being notoriously protective of his likeness.  But hey, at least we have *some* version of Apone.  And one that’s super ’90s-tastic at that!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Sgt. Apone is one of the three figures in the Kenner-inspired Series 13 of Aliens from NECA.  The figure stands 7 inches tall and he has 22 points of articulation.  As I noted when I reviewed the original Kenner Apone, his design from Kenner was perhaps one of the most divergent from the source material.  Gone was his uniform and standard military gear, replaced by something I can only describe as “uber ’90s”.  He’s got a backwards baseball cap, fingerless gloves, a bright-colored t-shirt with the sleeves torn off, and even a pair of sneakers inspired by the ones Ripley has in the film (which her Kenner figure didn’t have; I can only imagine that Al stole them from her).  The look is unique to say the least.  For the part of this specific figure, he’s done a pretty amazing job of faithfully capturing the details of the original figure, while still updating him so that he won’t look *too* out of place with the rest of the movie-inspired figures.  There’s a lot of great small detail work going on, from the wrinkles of his pants, to all the little stitches and wear on his boots.  The facial likeness is a tricky area of course, since it’s not officially an Al Matthews likeness, same as the Kenner figure before it.  But, like the Kenner figure, it’s still got a more than passing resemblance to the guy, meaning he still looks like Apone.  For the more resourceful customizers out there, I can see this head leading to a pretty easy movie accurate version of the character.  If there’s one drawback to the sculpt, it’s the way the cybernetic arm impedes the articulation on his right elbow.  It’s not terrible, and you can still get some good poses, but it’s not as good as the left.  In NECA’s defense, the original Kenner figure threw the arm on with no intention to articulate it, so they’re just doing their best to remain faithful to that design.  In the end, it’s not that big an issue, but it did somewhat stick out at me.  Moving onto the paint, Apone’s got some solid work, and is appropriately garish in color scheme.  He’s got his signature “No Bugs” scrawled across his shirt, which definitely looks cool, and as a whole the figure just really pops.  What I like the most about it, however, is that NECA didn’t just do the basic colors, they’ve also gone behind and added some accenting work, especially on those boots, so even though he may be bright and painful, he still looks like a real person.  Apone includes two “grenades” and a shotgun, just like his old figure.  The gun is re-used from one of the Genisys Terminators, but it’s actually a surprisingly good match.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve definitely been wanting an Apone for my NECA Aliens collection, and while I still want a faithful movie version at some point, I really can’t complain about getting this one.  The super ’90s nature adds a lot of charm.  Here’s hoping for some more Kenner Marines to go with him!

I got this guy from my friends at All Time Toys, who have (or had, at least) the whole series.   If you’re looking for toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#1984: Brainiac

BRAINIAC

SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES (KENNER)

“The fusion of alien lifeform and computer, Evil Alien Brainiac uses telekintec powers and a blasting space sled to control his enemies as he attempts to conquer the universe.”

After the smash success of Batman: The Animated Series, the show’s creative team moved to an adaptation of DC’s other big hero with Superman: The Animated Series.  Though not quite the same cultural phenomenon as its predecessor, the show was still a pretty solid success in its own right, and unsurprisingly netted its own line of toys.  But, while Kenner’s BTAS line actually covered a good chunk of the show’s cast, with the wacky-Bat-variants coming in later, Superman’s line was much more variant heavy from the very start.  There were only two non-Superman figures in the initial launch: Superman’s two biggest foes, the previously reviewed Lex Luthor, and today’s focus, Brainiac!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Brainiac was initially released in the first series of Superman: The Animated Series figures under the name of “Evil Alien Brainiac.”  You know, in case there was some confusion about his motivation or his place of origin.  Kind of sad we didn’t get this naming scheme across the whole assortment.  Why not “Good Alien Superman” or “Evil Human Lex Luthor”?  Would those have not appealed to the mass consumer as well?  Regardless, the figure in this review is not actually the Series 1 release, but is instead from the “Battle for Metropolis” four pack released at the tail end of the line.  The two figures are essentially the same, but there were some color differences, which I’ll touch on in the paint section. The figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation, which was standard for the line.  After being reasonably faithful to the show designs for BTAS, the STAS line was a bit more stylistically divergent from the show.  Brainiac was one of the more faithful sculpts from the line, though he lacks the somewhat streamlined proportions of the show design.  Beyond that, though, it’s not a bad offering.  The details are pretty well defined, the costume details are all where they’re supposed to, and the pre-posing isn’t as crazy as some of the other figures in the line.  The paintwork on Brainiac does the sculpt well and keeps him fairly faithful to the show.  This second release was even closer, having swapped out the shade of purple for a slightly warmer tone like we saw in the show.  Both versions of Brainiac were packed with the same missile-launching Space Sled.  My figure is without said accessory, though.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

My STAS collection growing up was actually pretty small.  Brainiac here was a slightly more recent addition (though still purchased almost a decade ago, so “recent” is relative), purchased from Yesterday’s Fun Toys & Games during one of my family vacations.  He’s a solid figure of a solid design, and really one of the better figures in this line.