#2380: Luke Skywalker with Blast Shield Helmet

LUKE SKYWALKER w/ BLAST SHIELD HELMET

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Aboard the Milllennium Falcon, Luke Skywalker is instructed by Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi in the art of lightsaber battle and the ways of the Force.”

At the end of 1997, Kenner reworked their standard Luke Skywalker head for their Power of the Force line, in an attempt to bring him more in line with, you know, a real person, and not some sort of He-Man knock off.  The following year, they got to work making this new version of Luke the new standard, which included going back and updating their take on “Farmboy” Luke.  Apparently they really liked this updated Farmboy Luke.  In fact, they seemed to like him so much that they just kept releasing minor tweaks to the mold, just all over the place.  Lets, uh, look at another one of those, I guess?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Luke Skywalker with Blast Shield Helmet was released in 1998 as part of the Power of the Force line.  This figure is designed to replicate Luke’s appearance while on the Millenium Falcon before they get brought in by the Death Star.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  Construction-wise, this figure is more or less identical to the Luke included with the Purchase of the Droids set.  The only real difference between them is the belt piece.  While the Droids set version has a pair of binoculars on his belt, this one removes them.  Yay?  It’s different?  Technically it’s less?  Honestly, though, it’s not a bad sculpt, and a definite improvement on the original ANH Luke from the line, and this was the first single-carded release, so it was a valiant idea.  The figure’s paint does change things up a bit as well.  He’s decidedly got a cooler-toned color scheme.  I’m not sure if that was an intentional thing, but it fits with him being on the Falcon as opposed to on Tatooine.  Luke is packed with his father’s lightsaber and the blast shield helmet he uses while training.  It’s too bad they couldn’t also throw in the training drone, but I suppose this isn’t a bad little assortment.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t have this figure as a kid (Gunner Station Luke was my on-hand version of this mold), and I can’t really say I had much of an undying need to get one, but as I’m trying to make my way to a complete run of Power of the Force figures, I have to pick up these guys at some point, right?  This one came in with a bunch of others at All Time last summer, and I used some trade credit to pick him up.  He’s not a bad figure, but it’s not easy to get particularly excited.  Just wait til I get to all of the other versions of this mold…

#2373: Iceboard Robin

ICEBOARD ROBIN

BATMAN & ROBIN (KENNER)

“Gotham City becomes a very cold place when Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy and Bane triple team to plot the icy demise of Batman and Robin. The crimefighters respond immediately by using the Batcomputer deep within the Batcave to develop an array of cutting-edge weapons that can be used in their battle against this multitude of fiendish foes. Discover the Secrets of the Batcave! – secret technology that gives Batman , Robin and Batgirl the ultimate ability to save Gotham City!”

After the box office success of Batman Forever (I know, I’m surprised, too), Warner Brothers decided to fast track its follow-up, Batman & Robin, with its entire production process coming in at under two years, which, when you’re dealing with a block-buster of this caliber, isn’t a lot of time.  The end result was less than stellar.  Batman & Robin holds the lowest earnings of any Batman film to date, and is still regarded as one of the worst comic book films ever made.  With all that said, it did succeed on one front: it was a pretty excellent toy commercial.  The toyline that accompanied the film was easily the best part of the whole thing.  Amazingly, though I dove into the Batman Forever line, I have as of yet not looked at any Batman & Robin figures.  I’ll be changing that today, with Iceboard Robin!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Iceboard Robin was released in the first basic series of Kenner’s Batman & Robin line, which hit shelves in 1997, alongside the film.  The first series had two Robins included, with this one being the “standard” movie Robin.  The figure stands 4 3/4 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation.  Robin sported an all-new sculpt.  Robin is actually the most fortunate of the film’s main characters, as he was the only one whose design didn’t change during the production process, meaning his was the only standard figure that was actually film accurate.  Additionally, Robin’s design, which was a pretty nifty merging of more classic Robin characteristics with the then current Nightwing costume from the comics, is really one of the nicest of the film’s designs in general, if you can get past the general Chris O’Donnel-ness of the head.  The sculpt does a nice job of capturing the look from the movie, and is generally a lot sturdier and more sharply detailed than the Forever figures were.  Pre-posing on this figure is at a minimum, but he’s a little better than the straight standing poses of prior figures.  There’s a more natural stance here, and it’s actually pretty darn nice.  The cape is a plastic piece, as were most of the capes on this round of figures, and it plugs into his back fairly securely.  Robin’s paintwork is pretty basic, which the majority of stuff being molded plastic.  However, the red detailing of the uniform is pretty cool, and has a slick metallic finish to it.  Iceboard Robin was, stay with me on this, packed with an iceboard, which is really just a big, goofy stand.  He also included a missile launcher, but mine is missing that piece.  Oh no, whatever will I do?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was too young to see Batman Forever in theaters (though I sure got in on those toys), but Batman & Robin hit at the perfect time for me to be all about it.  I was very excited prior to the film’s release (and even after, if I’m honest, because I loved it.  In my defense, I was 5), and this guy was part of the hype.  At the time, Toys R Us was running a promotion where you got reprints of Robin, Batgirl, and Mr. Freeze’s first appearances if you bought one of the toys from the tie-in line, and my mom was awesome enough to take me over one day after work.  Unsurprisingly, given my more recent collecting habits, I opted for Robin to be my qualifying figure purchase.  Quality of the film and of the actor playing Robin aside, this figure holds up well, and is just a genuinely fun offering.

#2366: Jabba the Hutt (w/ Han Solo)

JABBA THE HUTT (w/ HAN SOLO)

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

For the (first) Special Edition release of A New Hope, one of the primary new features was the re-insertion of a cut scene from the original film, which would have introduced viewers to the gangster Jabba the Hutt two films earlier.  In the scene as it was shot, instead of the huge slug we’d all come to know, Jabba was portrayed by actor Declan Mulholland, who was pretty much just a guy in a lot of furs.  For a number of reasons, the scene was excised, and its important bits were retooled into Han’s confrontation with Greedo, leaving Jabba as an ominous figure not fully realized for two more films.  When the scene was added back in, a Jabba more in line with the creature seen in Jedi was digitally added in to replace Mulholland (something Lucas has maintained was always his plan, though Lucas isn’t exactly the most trustworthy source on such things, since he frequently claims that whatever the current final product may be was always his plan).  Ultimately, thanks to the Greedo scene still being there, the scene’s kinda redundant, slows down the movie, and removes a chunk of Jabba’s menace, and to top it all off, the Jabba CGI model is just nowhere near as convincing as the puppet was.  And that’s not even touching on that magical CGI leap that Han has to take in order to jump over Jabba’s tail… Where was I?  Right, the toys.  They made some toys of this absolute masterpiece of a scene, and I’m taking a look at them today.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Jabba and Han were released as one of the Power of the Force II line’s creature sets in 1997, in order to coincide with the release of the Special Editions in theaters, alongside the similarly Special Edition-inspired Ronto with Jawa and Dewback with Sandtrooper.

JABBA THE HUTT

The main focus of this set to be sure, this Jabba was the only release of the character in the PotF2 line, and is notable for being the only one to be directly based on the CGI model of the Special Edition.  Small victory there; it wasn’t allowed to spread any further.  The figure is about 4 inches tall by about 7 inches long.  His only really reliable movement is at the shoulders; there’s joints at the mid-section and in the tail, but they’re all linked together in a mechanism-driven movement, which doesn’t really have much motion, truth be told.  I think some more straight-forward joints there would have been better served.  As it stands, he actually can’t even properly get into his basic RotJ sitting pose, which is a bummer if you want to make use of him in the Jabba’s Palace playset.  The sculpt on this guy is clearly tailored after that previously mentioned CGI model, which is evident from Jabba’s slightly skinnier proportions, especially in the head, and his larger eyes.  The texturing on his skin also has that same sort of droopy, almost melted quality of the early CG model.  I guess you can’t really fault Kenner on that; he’s possibly a little better looking than the source material, truth be told.  Jabba’s paint work also draws a bit more from the updated design.  While the original Jabba model had the sort of two-toned thing we see going on here, it was far more subtle.  For the CGI look, it became more pronounced, and that was further emphasized on this guy.  It’s not *awful* but it becomes even more noticeable when compared to his vintage counterpart, which didn’t go for the two-toned thing at all.

HAN SOLO

The creature sets liked to throw at least one standard figure into the mix, and I guess you could do a lot worse than a standard Han Solo.  That’s what this is: a pretty standard Han.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation (no waist joint for this guy).  His sculpt comes from the same basic lineage as the standard ANH Han from the beginning of the line, but he’s a lot like the Gunner Station Han, in that he tones down a lot of the previous Han’s wonky proportions and pre-posing.  Honestly, where it not for the leaps and bounds made by the Cantina Han two years later, this would easily be the best ANH Han in the PotF2 line.  As it stands, he’s at least in that nice mid-ground spot.  Honestly, it’s kind of a shame he only came packed in this set, because I’m certain it led to him getting far more overlooked than he should have.  I certainly did.  His paint work is probably his weakest point.  For some reason, he’s awfully pale, and my figure also has a stray mark of brown across his cheek, which is more than a little distracting.  Han included a unique version of his blaster, which was in a dark blue this time instead of the usual black.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I remember seeing this set when it was, new, but even as a kid, I wasn’t much of a fan of the updated Jabba, so I never did get one.  That said, I’ve been filling in my PotF2 collection a lot recently, and ended up with the Jabba’s Palace 3D playset, but no Jabba to go with it.  Luckily for me, All Time got one of these traded in, and so I’ve finally added it to my collection.  There’s not really much to write home about on either of these figures, but they do have sort of this quaint “wow, we didn’t know how far the edits would eventually go” quality about them.

#2359: Captain Britain

CAPTAIN BRITAIN

MODERN AGE (TOY BIZ)

“As a research assistant at Darkmoor Research Centre, Brian Braddock was a typical physics student.  During a botched theft at the facility, Brian was nearly killed in a motorcycle accident he suffered while trying to escape.  The legendary Merlin the Magician saved Brian’s life and bestowed upon him a mystical suit that gives him superhuman powers, transforming him into Captain Britain.  While the suit Captain Britain wears gives him superhuman strength, the ability to fly and erect mystical force shields, he is powerless without it.  As Britain’s honorary protector, keeping the UK safe from peril, Captain Britain is a formidable opponent for any foe.”

At the beginning of their lengthy run with the Marvel license, Toy Biz initially focussed on the Marvel Universe as a whole, before splitting things up into several different lines, most of which were themed around one of the handful of Marvel cartoons which launched during the ’90s.  By the end of the decade, those cartoons were all pretty much wrapped up, but there was still a fair bit of steam in the 5-inch locomotive, so they did several single-assortment series, each with its own theme.  In 1999, they paired two off, a Silver Age and a Modern Age line, covering Marvel’s history through a mix a bigger name and minor characters.  On the more minor side, it was through these assortments that Captain Britain got his first action figure, which I’ll be taking a look at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Captain Britain was among the four figures in the Modern Age line.  As the only character created post-1975, he was probably the best representation of the assortment’s purpose, especially since he was wearing an ’80s era costume.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and has 9 points of articulation.  Captain Britain was built on the body that began its life as Archangel II, a favorite of Toy Biz’s.  By this point, it had gotten some minor retooling to change-up the posing on the hands and to remove the remains of the wing-flapping mechanism from that figure, meaning he actually looks a bit better than most of the others who used this body.  The head is also re-used, coming from the Iron Man line’s Blacklash figure, though as with the Guardian figure that also used this head, the ponytail has been removed.  While internally its a nice enough assortment of parts, compared to the rest of Toy Biz’s stuff, it did make poor Brian rather small when compared to his comic book incarnation.  This wouldn’t be the last time Toy Biz would make a diminutive Captain Britain, either.  Did no one check the style guide for his height?  His paintwork was really cool…when he was new anyway.  On my figure, it really didn’t hold up to time, and definitely shows a lot more wear and tear than my other figures from the same era.  I have to wonder if it was something to do with the slightly metallic finish?  It certainly looked really nice when he came out of the package.  He’s done up in his Alan Davis-designed costume, which is his best one, really, and certainly the most lasting design.  Like others that use this mold, the details of the costume don’t quite match up to what’s sculpted, but it’s minor here.  Captain Britain was packed with an energy staff (recolored from Gambit) and Lockheed (repacked from Magik), but my figure has neither at this juncture.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got this figure when it was relatively new via a trip to the KB Toys outlet that was near the spot where my family vacationed.  I didn’t know a ton about the character, but I sure thought this figure looked cool.  At the time, I also got an animated Superman, so I recall the two of them facing off a lot during that trip.  Small stature and slightly ratty hold-up of the paint do drag him down a bit, but even in his current state I do really like him and I still have those fond memories!

#2356: Transforming Bruce Wayne

TRANSFORMING BRUCE WAYNE

BATMAN FOREVER (1995)

Today I’m making a return to the line that started these wacky-tacky reviews.  It’s more Batman Forever, but like another variant of that main guy.  Dig it.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Tansforming Bruce Wayne is another Batman Forever figure.  He’s batman but when he’s not Batman.  Also he’s Val Kilmer because it was the ’90s, but not the early ’90s when he was Michael Keaton or the late ’90s when he was George Clooney (yuck, don’t make me think about it, dudes).  He could transform into Batman with armor, most of which is still present, because instead of loosing the armor, silly child Ethan lost the whole darn figure.  Silly child Ethan.  Such a child.  I got another one but I gotta wait til the next section for that.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

It all started when I was born.  As a child of the ’90s I became a part of a society that fully embraced Val Kilmer and we made him Batman.  We did that, people.  Think of it and weep.  As the constructs of walking and talking and collecting formed in my mind, Kilmer rang out, jumping from the shelf of that service merchandise, calling to me.  Buy me Val Kilmer said, and I was sore afraid.  So I bought him.  Well, my parents did.  And I saw that it was great.  But no it wasn’t great.  It was Val Kilmer.  And so silly child Ethan FLUNG him to the far corners of the Earth, never to be found again.  That showed him.  But then he came back.  Oh dear.  Here he is.  Being reviewed.  That’s pretty much it…

(Oh gosh, did we leap through some sort of time warp, because it’s feeling real 2013 up in here…nah, it’s just April Fool’s Day.  Got ya?)

Continue reading

#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.