#2217: Bruce Banner & Hulk

BRUCE BANNER & HULK

MARVEL MINIMATES

The very first assortment of Marvel Minimates is perhaps a bit odd-ball when looking back on things.  No Spider-Man, Iron Man, Captain America, or even X-Men.  Nope, it’s two sets of Daredevil and one set of Hulk.  Why this particular line-up for the debut?  Well, the first series of Marvel Minimates hit in the summer of 2003.  Do you know what else hit in 2003?  Movies for both Daredevil and Hulk, and though those films may not be looked back on particularly fondly these days, they did make their title characters recognizable to a general audience, thereby making them a moderately reasonable starting point.  Today, I’m looking at the slight outlier of the line-up, the one Hulk pack in the lot, pairing off both the Hulk and his human alter-ego, Bruce Banner.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Bruce Banner and Hulk were, as noted above, part of the first series of Marvel Minimates.  It’s worth noting that the numbering was really little more than clerical on the first three series of the line, with all of them hitting pretty much at the same time, but nevertheless, these guys were technically among the first.

BRUCE BANNER

Alter-egos were popular fodder for the early ‘mates, with Hulk, Spider-Man, and Wolverine all getting their civilian counterparts right out of the gate.  Banner makes the most sense, I suppose, though, since he’s so visually different, and the internal struggle between the two halves is so important to the story.  While Bruce has had a lot of different appearances over the years, this one opts for something more in line with how he looked on the cover of his first appearance, with glasses and a lab coat.  It’s certainly a bit more visually interesting than just plain civilian clothes.  The figure uses the old-style ‘mate body, complete with long feet, so he stands roughly 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  He’s got two add-on pieces: one for his hair/glasses, and one for his jacket.  The hair/glasses combo is different from how things would be handled later, since glasses tend to just be printed on the faces now.  Additionally, the glasses are opaque, which gives him a very different, far more stylized appearance than later figures.  I myself have always been a pretty big fan of this look.  The jacket’s a little on the bulky side, but if you don’t like it, the shirt and the arms are both white, so you can remove it without it looking too weird.  Banner’s paintwork is rather simple, with some detailing for his face, his tie on his shirt (complete with tie clip), and a belt buckle on his pelvis.  Banner included no accessories.

HULK

Definitely the selling point of this set, and honestly the more dated of the two offerings.  Hulk represents the old style of doing things, back when ‘mates were still firmly planted on the philosophy of using the least amount of extra parts possible for each figure.  For larger characters, such as Hulk and Venom, this left them looking…kinda small.  Compared to Hulk, puny Banner wasn’t very puny.  Hulk’s only add-on was his hair piece, which is a decent enough part, although it does come off a lot, since the pegs weren’t implemented until Series 8 of the line.  It’s simple, but feels classically Hulk.  His paint is a little more involved than Banner, with detailing on the front and back of his torso, as well as remnants of his torn shirt running all along the sides of his pelvis, and torn legs to his pants running along the shins.  The feet and lower legs are painted green, rather than molded, which looks noticeably of a different shade.  Also, for some reason, the shade of purple on the pants is different between Hulk and Banner, something I never really understood.  Like Banner, Hulk had no accessories.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When my dad brought home the Yellow Daredevil and Elektra set for me back in 2003, he also brought with him a Hulk and Banner set for my younger brother, which gave me a taste of the set.  I would eventually get a pack of my own as a birthday present from some family friends that same year.  I still have those two, but they’re a little worse for wear these days, so I actually picked up a replacement set when All Time got in a Minimate collection a few months ago.  If I’m honest, the Hulk in this set never did a lot for me, but conversely the Banner has always been one of my favorites from the early line up.

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#2216: Barricade

BARRICADE

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE (HASBRO)

While I have mostly left the discussion of Transformers that are really just re-decos to other reviewers, I did touch on it a little bit back when I reviewed Red Alert.  Of course, the difference between the likes of Red Alert and the Seekers and today’s re-deco is that while the former grouping is all characters who are classically re-decos, the latter isn’t even a classic character at all.  The Decepticon Barricade was first introduced into the lore in the 2007 live-action film, in a role that was originally meant to go to Soundwave (which is why he interacts with Frenzy), and was designed as a subversion of good-guy Prowl’s usual role as the police car.  In 2012, fan artist Guido Guidi did a G1-styled illustration of Barricade patterned after Prowl (sensible, what with them having the same alt-mode and all), which Hasbro liked enough to make it an official thing. And here we are with a G1-style Barricade figure, a re-deco of a Prowl figure.  Yay?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Barricade is the third and final unique figure in the fourth deluxe class assortment of Siege figures, with the Weaponizer Six-Gun figure getting a re-pack in the final slot.  In his robot mode, the figure stands 5 1/4 inches tall and he has 22 workable points of articulation.  For the most part, Barricade is sculpturally identical to the Prowl figure from Deluxe Wave 2.  Prowl was my surprise favorite from that line-up, and a lot of that has to do with how the body was implemented, so it means that Barricade’s already starting from a strong point.  He does get a new head, which he will be sharing with the Generation Selects Smokescreen figure.  It’s suitably different from Prowl’s head, while still hitting a lot of the same notes.  Whatever the case, it injects a little bit more variety into the Prowl mold, which is probably a good thing, since we’re getting four figures out of it.  Barricade’s main change-up is the colors, which for his robot mode are quite different, since he’s got a lot of purple, which is admittedly a very Decepticon color to have. He’s almost an inverted color scheme to Prowl, who was predominately light with dark, where as Barricade is dark with light.  Barricade’s alt-mode is pretty much the same as Prowl’s, as it should be, but again the colors are changed up, and the inverting is even more noticeable here.  Also, unlike Prowl, who was clean of damage, Barricade has wear right on either side of the front of the car, indicating he likes to run other vehicles off the road a lot.  That’s a nifty touch, and far more character-specific than the other damage we’ve seen.  Barricade does change things up a bit on the armaments front.  Rather than getting the same blaster as Prowl, he gets a pair of shoulder-mountable cannons, which can be combined into a handheld weapon.  Classically, the cannons are actually a Prowl thing, but they were missing from the last figure.  Fear not, though, as they will be coming in white with Smokescreen, meaning Prowl will be able to have them again.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I liked Prowl a lot, and so that was enough to sway me on Barricade I guess.  Well, that and Max setting the whole assortment aside for me.  That helped too.  I don’t have a ton to say about this guy.  He didn’t surprise me, because I knew what I was getting.  What I was getting was a solid toy, though, so that’s always a plus.

Barricade came from my friends at All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for Transformers, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2215: Autobot Impactor

AUTOBOT IMPACTOR

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE (HASBRO)

Region-exclusive characters aren’t much of a thing these days, but they were fairly prevalent in the ’80s, especially when it came to the likes of G.I. Joe and Transformers and their representation in the UK.  G.I. Joe of course had an entirely different name (Action Force), and a resulting shift in a few of the characters, but the Transformers comics in the UK were a thing all to themselves.  Marvel was publishing the comics in the US, and their UK equivalent did the same on their side, but while the US-side had an 88 issue run, over in the UK there were a whopping 332 issues, meaning there was quite a bit of UK-exclusive material, and also some UK-exclusive characters.  The Wreckers were an entire team of UK-exclusive characters, and while some of them (Springer for instance) would find their way into other media, their ill-fated leader Impactor wouldn’t prove quite so lucky, at least not until much later.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Impactor is another figure from the fourth deluxe class assortment of Siege figures.  He’s only the third Impactor figure we’ve gotten, and the first one to be an all-new mold for the character.  Impactor had no G1 figure, but this one is based on his appearance from the Marvel UK comics, meaning that he stylistically fits pretty well with the rest of the G1-styled figures in the line.  Like Mirage, Impactor was granted his spot here thanks to the 2018 fan-poll, which faced the two off against each other (a little odd, what with them both being Autobots and all, but I won’t dwell on it too much), and also like Mirage, there’s a slightly different version of this guy available in an Amazon-exclusive battle-pack.  In his robot mode, the figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall (rivaling Ironhide in terms of height for a deluxe) and he has 19 workable points of articulation.  Impactor’s got a very boxy design to him, which I suppose is fairly sensible for the nature of the character.  His sculpt definitely plays up the utilitarian side of things, and I really gotta say, I kinda dig it.  There are, however, a few things I do not dig.  As impressive as Impactor looks, his larger size means that he’s also not as solidly constructed.  The interiors of his lower legs and forearms are completely hollow, and I’m not really into that.  At least in Ironhide’s case, he had some panels that folded into place to mask this hollowness, but poor Impactor just has these spots open for the world to see.  I guess it’s the placement of them that really bugs me, because finding poses that don’t highlight the issue can be a little tricky.  Fortunately, most of the body is without these hollow spots, allowing for a focus on the cool stuff there.  The color scheme on Impactor is certainly a unique one.  Typically, it’s these sorts or really gawdy color combos that scare me off of a Transformer, but the yellow and purple just feels right for this design.  Impactor’s alt-mode is a battle tank, which just follows with the boxy, utilitarian nature of the character.  The transformation is the most tricky of the three deluxes in this assortment, at least for me, and I needed to break out the instructions to figure it out.  That said, it still wasn’t *too* tricky, and I was able to transform him back and forth a few times for the purposes of this review with relative ease.  It’s also one of the cooler alt-modes to come out of Siege, at least by my count.   Impactor is armed with an “HP Energon Mineblaster” and a “Trilithium Drill,” again both listed in Cybertronian on the instructions.  The drill is particularly cool, because it can be plugged into the underside of Impactor’s hand when it’s folded up, giving him his harpoon replacement that he frequently had in the comics.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like Mirage, I wasn’t really all that impressed by Impactor when he was first shown off.  That said, he was the first one I started to come around on, once I saw the convention display versions of him, and how the color scheme looked as more than just render.  By the time the assortment hit, he was the only one I knew for sure I wanted, and he is unsurprisingly my favorite figure of this round.  While the hollow parts do still bug me, and hold him back from being quite as good as he can be, he’s still a really fun toy, both as a figure and a vehicle.

Impactor was purchased from my friends at All Time Toys, and is still available here.  If you’re looking for Transformers, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2214: Autobot Mirage

AUTOBOT MIRAGE

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE (HASBRO)

It’s been a little while since I did a Transformers review.  I mean, there have been two Transformers reviews on the site since I reviewed the Studio Series Optimus back in August, but they weren’t written by me.  And despite some pleas to the contrary, I haven’t quite relented to letting Super Awesome Wife write *every* Transformers review, as amusing as that may be.  So, I’m diving back in, with a look at one of the franchise’s earliest characters, Autobot Mirage!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Autobot Mirage is part of Wave 4 of the Deluxe Class line-up for Siege.  Mirage is one of two figures granted their spot in this line-up by the 2018 fan poll Hasbro ran, although there’s a battle-pack that more officially celebrates this victory.  As with many Siege releases, Mirage is patterned on his very first toy, back during the G1 days.  In his robot mode, the figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 20 workable points of articulation.  Given that he turns into a fancy race car, it’s not a huge shock that Mirage’s design is decidedly sleek and streamlined for the most part.  He’s not quite as svelte as some earlier Mirage figures, but when compared to the rest of the Siege line, he’s definitely a more lithe guy.  Being at a slightly lower price point, the Deluxe figures are a little more prone to the “hollowness” that I don’t like so much, but fortunately for Mirage, it’s pretty restricted here.  The forearms have it where the hands fold in, and the legs are a little bit more skeletal on the lower half, but for the most part, Mirage is fairly solid construction.  In general, I will say that the lower legs are my least favorite part of this figure, though.  Something about the placement of the wheels just feels off.  In terms of coloration, Mirage marks a slight change for the line, being completely clean and without wear.  It’s fairly sensible for the character and his alt-mode, but notable nevertheless.  Speaking of alt-mode, let’s talk about Mirage’s.  His original toy turned into an F-1 racer, and while it’s not as branded and specific as the original, this one does too.  It’s a bit of a surprise, given the Cybertronian bend of the alt-modes up to this point, but at the same time, I suppose an F-1 racer is a fairly sleek, almost sci-fi looking design in real life, and doesn’t necessarily look so out of place with the others.  Somewhat like Starscream, Mirage’s robot mode has some faux pieces that look like they should contribute to his alt, but actually do not, with the chest in particular folding up into the back of the car, rather than making the front like you might expect.  Unlike Starscream, Mirage’s transformation process didn’t prove nearly as frustrating for me, and I was able to figure it out with minimal consultation of the instructions.  Mirage is packed with a couple of armaments, which are named “C-20 Electro-Disruptor Cannon,” “Distortion Missile,” and “W-15 Armor-Piercing Rocket-Dart Launcher”, although I had to actually look those up, since the instructions list the names in Cybertronian.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Looking at the announcements for the line back at the beginning of the year, Deluxe Wave 4 was about where I started to see myself tapping out.  Something about the renders of the figures wasn’t really doing a lot for me, and Mirage was a prime offender.  He just looked, I don’t know, less put together than the other figures?  Not helping things is that Mirage is really on that boarder of characters I was familiar with before getting into the line, and really was stretching my personal attachment to these designs.  So, why did I buy him?  Well, they came in at All Time, and Max (who is always at fault with these things) set the wave aside for me, and honestly they looked a lot better in person than they did in the renders.  Mirage is a solid addition to the collection, and I’d guess a decent preview of how the Earthrise figures will be.

As noted above, Mirage was purchased from my friends at All Time Toys, and is still available here.  If you’re looking for Transformers, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2211: Punisher

PUNISHER

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Frank Castle takes to the streets and delivers brutal vigilante justice as The Punisher.”

I haven’t reviewed a Punisher figure in over a year, which on one hand seems a little weird, but on the other hand is surprisingly frequent for a character I owned exactly one figure of for the first 20 years of my collecting.  Classically, I wasn’t much of a fan of the character.  It wasn’t until he was introduced in Netflix’s Daredevil show that I truly started to appreciate the character. Since then, I’ve gotten quite a few more Punishers, including today’s offering, another Marvel Legends release.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Punisher is another Fan Channel-exclusive Marvel Legends release.  Interestingly, it’s one of two Frank Castles to be included in the Fan Channel line-up of figures, the other being the Punisher War Machine. This one goes for a more gritty, urban look for the character.  Not being super familiar with the character’s comic exploits, I don’t know if it’s a reference to a specific look, or just a slightly more real-world adaptation of his usual design.  It’s a cool look whatever it is.  The figure stands about 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 30 points of articulation.  While the previous Fan Channel figure have been pretty straight re-decos, Punisher mixes things up a little bit, not by being a new figure, but rather by being a mix of a number of prior figures.  He uses the torso and legs of the Netfilx Punisher, the arms from Scourge, the heads from the Walgreens Punisher, and the vest from the RoML Ultimate Captain America.  It all adds up to a fairly tactical looking take on Frank, especially depending on which head you opt to go with.  I personally feel that if you ditch the vest and give him the head with the headband, he looks a bit like he’s going for a Solid Snake cosplay, which I have no issues with at all.  The paintwork for this guy is rather involved, with camo on the pants, and a rather distressed skull on the torso.  The two heads also get two very different paint schemes.  The slicked back hair head gets skull-styled face paint to match the torso, which is fun, while the headband head gets some serious bags under his eyes, and some pretty intense scruff, making it look like he’s been going for a while.  Of the two I prefer the headband myself, but I love having two diverse options.  In addition to having the two different heads, Punisher is also packed with an assault rifle, a handgun, and a sniper rifle.  All of them are re-used, but they’re pretty nice, and he actually has an easier time holding his weapons than a lot of prior figures.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

In a similar fashion to yesterday’s Wolverine, I wasn’t really sure I needed to get this figure when he was first shown off.  The other Fan Channel figures are a little more on the exciting side, and this guy also had the misfortune of arriving alongside Havok, who definitely got most of the attention.  That being said, I did still like the concept on this guy, and the exectution’s definitely a lot of fun.  I’ve still got a soft spot for that spandex look, but there’s no denying that this is a cool look for Frank.

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

#2210: Wolverine

WOLVERINE

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

Wolverine is a nearly indestructible mutant with a gruff attitude and the formidable skills to back it up.”

There have been no shortage of Wolverine action figures, even when just looking through the narrow lens of Marvel Legends.  In the last year, there have been six separate Legends Wolverines (with a seventh right around the corner).  That places him second only to Spider-Man for Legends releases, which is really quite a bit.  I’d say there’s a little bit of Wolverine overload going on for a good portion of the fanbase, and I definitely include myself in that grouping.  But hey, it’s okay, this one has a new hat!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Wolverine was officially the first of the Fan Channel exclusive Marvel Legends, though exactly what order they actually hit in is a little bit fluid.  He was the first one to be shown off, though.  After a number of different costumed variants throughout the year, this one goes for a civilian Wolverine, rocking the jeans and the wifebeater.  But also that hat.  The hat is very important.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and he has 30 points of articulation.  From the neck down, this figure is the same as the Legendary Riders release from last year (which I never picked up), itself a retooling of the Old Man Logan (which I *did* pick up).  It’s really not a bad body, and this particular release is really crisp on the texturing of the shirt and pants, which looks really good.  My figure does have a slight molding issue on his torso, so there’s a little bit of plastic missing at the collar of his shirt.  It’s fairly minor, and confined just to mine, but it’s something to keep an eye out for.  The body’s not the main focus of this release, though.  No, no, we gotta talk about what really matters: the new hat! Yes, Logan’s sporting a cowboy hat, an item he’s frequently seen sporting in the comics, but has largely been absent from his action figure coverage.  It is admittedly a pretty distinctive look, and the head that it’s permanently affixed to isn’t a half bad unmasked Logan either.  I actually really dig the grin; it’s a nice change of pace from the usual growls, screams, and grimaces we get for the character, and yet this is still very true to Logan, especially the more relaxed civilian take we’ve got going here.  Wolverine’s paintwork is fairly decently handled.  He swaps out the white shirt from the Riders release for black, which I think actually looks pretty cool.  Beyond that, it’s fairly standard stuff.  Wolverine is packed with an extra head (the same as the head from the Madripor Wolverine, but without the weird eye stuff), a set of gripping hands without the claws, and the Muramasa blade.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Wolverine overload is a thing that’s been plaguing my Legends collecting since Toy Biz first added him to the line in Series 3, and it was the primary reason I didn’t buy the Riders release last year.  With Madripor and X-Force, I almost waffled on this one too, but I like the civilian look enough that he felt worth it.  Ultimately, I do quite like this figure, and I think he’s the best of the 2019 Wolverines.  Sure, he’s another Wolverine, but at least he’s a decent figure in his own right, and I didn’t have to pay for the motorcycle to get this one.

I picked up this Wolverine from my friends at All Time Toys, and he’s currently in stock here.  If you’re looking for Marvel Legends, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2209: Agent Anti-Venom

AGENT ANTI-VENOM

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“After exposure to the Anti-Venom Serum, Flash Thompson becomes the newest incarnation of the anti-hero.”

Back at the beginning of the Infinite Series relaunch of Legends, when Walgreens was dipping their foot in the waters of being a toy-buying destination, their first trial-run exclusive was Agent Venom, a figure that Hasbro had had rattling around their con displays for a little while.  He proved a successful venture, for Walgreens and Hasbro at least, but perhaps a little bit less so for fans, as he never really hit anywhere in truly huge numbers, and Walgreens was still not quite as numerous at the time as it is now.  This, coupled with the general fan-favorite nature of the character, made him slightly pricey on the after market.  Hasbro, ever in the game of trying to give collectors a fair shot at hard to find Legends took advantage of the re-branding of Flash Thompson under the Anti-Venom name from a few years ago, along with a need for some easy parts re-use figures, and has given us another Agent Venom, albeit of the inverted variety.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Agent Anti-Venom is another Fan Channel single Marvel Legends release, much like the Big Time Spider-Man I looked at a few weeks ago.  The figure stands about 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  Structurally, this figure is identical to the standard Agent Venom from back in 2014.  From a design standpoint, this makes sense, since the looks are just color swaps of each other in the comics.  However, from a toy standpoint, there are some issues that come with this re-use, namely that the underlying body was outdated when the first Agent Venom came out.  The five years since then have only made that more apparent, as a handful of similarly built and far more up-to-date bodies have come into use.  Of course, that would have required some pretty substantial retooling of the Agent Venom-specific parts, which would have then defeated Hasbro’s whole purpose of releasing figures that don’t need any new parts.  I will say that this release has far less rubbery plastic than the first one, which does make him feel better overall.  Additionally, the new paint apps are a lot cleaner in terms of application than the last time around, making for a much slicker looking figure, and showcasing the great strides Hasbro has made in terms of paint since the Infinite Series days.  Agent Anti-Venom is packed with a pair of glocks and a pair of MP5s, as well as the back piece that can hold his weapons for him.  I still feel like he should have 6 guns instead of 4, but at least I was prepared for it this time.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was fortunate enough to get the original Agent Venom release, but a lot of people weren’t, so I wasn’t surprised when this guy was listed amongst the Fan Channel figures.  While I do wish they’d been able to change out the underlying body, I won’t deny that the changes in production quality on this figure do a lot to make him even better than his predecessor, and he’s still a lot of fun.

This guy was purchased from my friends at All Time Toys, and it’s currently available from their store, here. And, if you’re looking for other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2208: Deadpool & Hit-Monkey

DEADPOOL & HIT-MONKEY

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

The most bodacious team-up this side of Miami: Deadpool & Hit-Monkey make being an internationally feared assassin look easy.”

There’s no denying that Deadpool has popularity and recognition behind him, which makes him an easy pick when it comes to merchandise.  It also makes him useful leverage for getting retailers to support other items, meaning that for every time that we get the likes of yesterday’s Havok and Polaris, we also get the likes of today’s offering, a Deadpool-centric two-pack, pairing him off with one of Marvel’s many attempts at spinning other goofy characters out of Deadpool, Hit-Monkey.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Deadpool and Hit-Monkey are the other half of the Fan Channel-exclusive assortment of Marvel Legends that contained Havok and Polaris, also bearing the “80 Years of Marvel” branding, and clearly meant to capture a more modern piece of Marvel history, though if it’s a reference to a specific comics occurrence, I will admit I’m not familiar with it.

DEADPOOL

There have been quite a few Deadpools in the last two years of Legends, but this one does manage to actually be a little more distinctive, mostly by being in something other than a variation of his standard costume.  This one embraces the vague Miami: Vice theme of the set by sticking Wade in an all-white suit, which is admittedly a pretty striking look for the character.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  Wade makes use of the newly re-worked suit body that we got with Nick Fury, which is a pretty decent upgrade on the prior body, and now scales a little bit better with Bucky Cap-sized heads like Deadpool.  Topping off the body, he’s got a selection of three different heads: fully masked, fully unmasked (both from the Juggernaut Series Deadpool), and half-masked.  They make for a nice variety of options, and it’s good to see Hasbro really taking advantage of that bank of existing parts for stuff like this.  Deadpool’s paintwork is pretty straight forward and clean, and keeps with the striking nature of the design.  The reds are very bright, keeping with the Sasquatch and Sauron assortment coloring, which I’m okay with, even if they don’t quite match the Deadpool Corps release from earlier this year.  The unmasked head actually gets pupils this time, and while I myself prefer the prior deco, I do like getting a change-up here.  Deadpool is packed with a solid selection of accessories, which includes two katanas (same as prior DPs), a pink zebra-patterned handgun, a guitar (re-used from Spider-UK, and in a funky Madcap color scheme), headphones (re-used from Star-Lord), a Captain America shield with Deadpool’s face painted on it, and a re-worked RC Silvermane with Headpool in Silvermane’s place.  There’s no new parts in here, but that doesn’t change how impressive it is to get this many extras.

HIT-MONKEY

Not long after Hit-Monkey’s debut in the comics, he found himself chosen as one of Hasbro’s smaller-scale BaFs from the tail end of the pre-Infinite Series Legends.  As with everything from that period, distribution was spotty, making completing him either woefully easy or near impossible, and crafting quite an odd after market.  Whatever the case, I suppose Hasbro felt they should give fans another chance at the character, so here he is.  The figure stands just shy of 3 1/2 inches tall and he has 24 points of articulation.  His sculpt is the same as it was the first time around, which is reasonable enough.  Hit-Monkey’s really only had that one look.  The sculpt is a little bit more stylized than Legends tend to be these days, but for a character like this, that’s honestly not a bad thing.  Given the alternative being the rather bland and off looking Spider-Ham we got last year, I’m more for this.  The figure changes things up from the last release by swapping the color of his suit from black to white, and the tie from blue to red, all in order to match the Deadpool.  Again, no clue if Hit-Monkey’s ever looked like this, but it works out alright for him.  Hit-Monkey includes the same accessories as the first time around: a pair of pistols and a pair of submachine guns.  Not quite as impressive as Deadpool, but two sets of guns is still pretty good.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I wanted Havok and Polaris, and this set just sort of came along with them, I suppose.  I wasn’t exactly expecting much of anything from either of them, and that probably worked out in their favor, because it allowed me to really approach them with fresh eyes, and just enjoy them for what they are.  What they are is pretty fun.  It’s a cool look for Deadpool, a second chance at Hit-Monkey, and a boatload of really fun extras between them.

This set was purchased from my friends at All Time Toys. And, if you’re looking for other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2207: Havok & Polaris

HAVOK & POLARIS

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

Originally launched in 1986 as a way to re-unite the original founding five members of the X-Men, X-Factor found itself in a slightly tricky spot when it was decided to fold the founding five back into the main X-team in 1991.  With the X-books at the height of their popularity, Marvel wasn’t looking to just drop one of them entirely, meaning they would need a new roster of characters, but a selection of characters that were not going to be at all claimed by the two main X-books.  This new X-Factor was a government sanctioned team of mutants made up largely of second-string X-Men characters who had been rattling around in the background of the main book for most of the ’80s.  Taking Cyclops and Jean Grey’s role as the romantically-involved core of the team were Cyclops’ brother Havok and his on-again-off-again love interest Polaris, both of whom were recovering from a few bouts of “brainwashed and evil.”  The series would prove quite successful in elevating all of the characters included within, Havok and Polaris among them.  And, with most of the founding ’90s X-Men covered, now Marvel Legends is moving onto X-Factor.  Nice!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Havok and Polaris are one of two Fan Channel-exclusive two-packs of Marvel Legends, loosely built into Hasbro’s celebration of 80 years of Marvel.  This particular set’s packaging is noted as a throwback to the trading cards of the ’90s, which is admittedly a pretty fun, pretty vibrant idea.  I still don’t care what these figures arrive in as long as the toys themselves are good, but I can appreciate Hasbro honoring some of Marvel’s past exploits, and these are certainly a good pair of figures to tie-in with the trading card craze of the ’90s.  Okay, enough about the cardboard that carries these things, onto the figures!

HAVOK

“Alex Summers is an Alpha level mutant with the power to absorb cosmic energy and convert it to plasma.”

I hope you guys are appreciating the calm nature I have maintained up until this point in the review.  Truly I am a master of my own emotions because HOLY CRAP THEY MADE IT THEY ACTUALLY MADE IT THEY MADE A MARVEL LEGENDS HAVOK IN HIS 90S COSTUME AND NOW I HAVE IT AND ITS MINE AND NO ONE CAN TAKE THAT FROM ME…well, I made it pretty far, I guess.  So, as the above shouting on my part may have cued you in, this would be Havok, wearing his attire from the ’90s X-Factor series, or at least a version of it.  The initial X-Factor costumes were designed to play well with the main team costumes from Lee’s X-Men book, but were not quite an exact match, and they also tended to change a little from issue to issue.  Havok’s design seen here is from around the time of the X-Tinction Agenda cross-over, which is when they added the yellow leg-straps to his design.  Given the whole cross-marketing synergy thing of the ’90s, it’s this version of the design that got used for the old Toy Biz figure, appeared on the cartoon, and generally gets picked up if their doing a ’90s Havok anywhere else, so it’s really the one everyone knows.  This is Havok’s third time as a Legend, though he’s never gotten one in this costume.  In fact, this is only the third time we’ve gotten a toy of this costume (there will also be a fourth later this year).  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  Like the last Havok and also the Lee-style Cyclops, this figure is built on the Bucky Cap body, which is a sensible enough choice for Alex.  He gets a boatload of new pieces, though, with a new head and arms, plus add-ons for the jacket and belt.  The new pieces are all pretty fantastic, with the jacket and arms in particular really standing out to me, because they just capture that feel of the old 5-inch figure, right down to the overly defined forearms.  I also really like how the jacket clips shut at the front, but can be opened to allow for better use of his mid-torso joint.  I have exactly two complaints about the sculpt, both minor, and only one of them actually new.  The forearms, as nice as they are, do seem to connect a little oddly to the fists.  It feels like there should be a cuff piece there to join them, and that would actually be more accurate to the source material.  Of course, if you’re like me and you have that Madripor Wolverine with his ill-fitting glove cuffs, I would point out that they fit pretty much perfectly on this figure, and greatly improve his already awesome appearance.  My other complaint is kind of a hold over from a prior figure.  Havok re-uses the leg straps from Cyclops, which is sensible from a consistency standpoint, but also means that he’s got the same troubles with them staying in place that figure did.  That said, I’m used to them now, and there are possible fixes, such as gluing them in place, which could help.  Havok’s paintwork is actually quite impressive.  For the most part, it’s fairly basic work all throughout, but there’s some really strong work on the jacket, which does a nice fade from blue to black.  It’s subtle and it really works.  Havok is packed with a pair of effects pieces, which are the same as the ones from his last figure, but in yellow this time.

POLARIS

“Like her father Magneto, Lorna Dane has the mutant ability to control magnetism.”

Okay, so I promise to keep myself a little more reserved on this part.  It’s just Polaris, and much as I love Polaris, she’s not quite a ’90s Havok.  Polaris has had a slightly less fortunate time with action figures over the years, with her first two action figures both being repaints of Rogue figures.  She did get a dedicated Legends release in the Warlock Series, but that one was met with a lot of in-fighting about the costume choice, and ended up hanging around a lot of places, which put a serious question mark on this costume’s release.  Also, unlike Havok, Polaris’ X-Factor design didn’t quite follow the same structured look, so there are more options to choose from.  Hasbro opted to go with her first one for this release, which it’s worth noting is also the one that was on the cartoon, making it a pretty sensible choice.  The figure stands a little over 6 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation.  She uses the same base body as the last Polaris (yay for internal consistency), but gets a new head, torso, and upper arms, as well as add-ons for her wrist and boot cuffs.  The new parts mesh well with the old, and the torso and arms in particular exhibit a good range of motion, improving upon the standard pieces for his body.  The hair manages to capture the dynamic flow of the illustrations, while not being too restrictive to the movement or weighing her head down too much either.  Polaris’ paint work is nice and vibrant, and in particular I love that bright green they’ve chosen for the hair.  The dullness of the last one was one of my few complaints, and this one ends up looking a lot nice.  Polaris is packed with two sets of hands in open and closed poses, as well as the same effects pieces included with Havok, but this time in green.  I do wish they had come up with some more effects options, especially for two differently powered characters in the same pack, but this has admittedly been an issue since their solo-releases.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Oh boy, was this set a big deal for me.  Frequent readers of the site are no doubt aware that I’m a *pretty* big Havok fan, to the point where I literally own every figure of him (plus six copies of his ’90s figure just on its own).  I’ve been waiting for this particular Havok since before there were any Legends Havok figures at all, and in fact even made my own back in 2005.  I didn’t realize how long I’d be waiting for an official release.  Polaris is somewhat along for the ride, but I was certainly happy to get her too. These two are great releases, and Havok is probably my favorite Legends figure to date.  I’ve been saying that a lot recently, but he’s really good.

These two came from my friends at All Time Toys, who knew enough enough about my Havok craze to give me the heads up on its release.  Yay for me!  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2204: Snake Eyes

SNAKE EYES

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

“SNAKE EYES honed his combat skills as a Long Range Recon Patrol trooper in Southeast Asia and perfected his mystical martial arts techniques with the same Ninja clan that produced STORM SHADOW. Although he is as equally adept with submachine guns as he is with swords, Snake Eyes is most dangerous and unpredictable when he’s armed and cornered. When HAWK went to Snake Eyes’ cabin to recruit him for duty with G.I. Joe, the silent Ninja was out hunting rabbits – bare handed!”

After around 1988, there’s something of a downward shift for G.I. Joe.  They really hit their groove in ’85, but the movie really through them for a loop.  Despite gimmicks and really far out concepts largely being the thing that people deride the movie and its associated characters for, Hasbro would nevertheless double down on such concepts as they embarked into the ’90s.  Interspersed with the likes of Super Sonic Fighters and Eco Warriors, they did manage to have some slightly less gimmicky Joes, I suppose, including a rather surprising go at returning Snake Eyes back to his pre-ninja roots, going back to his original backstory as a commando, albeit one in bright 90s-esque neon colors.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Snake Eyes was released in the main 1991 assortment of G.I. Joe, as the fourth version of the character to grace the line.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has the usual 14 points of articulation.  By the ’90s, the sculpts were definitely changing again, morphing into a style that would more closely match the rest of the stuff that would come out of the decade.  Snake Eyes showcases a lot of these changes, being way more bulked up and exaggerated in his proportions than the character’s prior incarnations.  Poor Snake looks like he barely fits into his gear this time around.  Maybe it’s time to put down the weights?  Or lay off the steroids?  Something.  Well, it’s gonna get worse before it gets better.  Snake Eyes sculpted design is perhaps not the most radical departure from prior designs, although the artful nature of prior looks is largely lost, with everything adding up to a design that doesn’t quite have that same cool factor as prior versions.  All of the elements to make a Snake Eyes are certainly there, but they come together like some sort of off-brand product.  The goggles in particular just seem…goofy and unimposing.  More like safety goggles than anything combat ready.  The artwork for the figure honestly doesn’t make them look that bad; there was something lost in translation.  Of course, the biggest thing against this figure’s probably the paint, where he departs the most from every other version of Snake Eyes.  Previous Snake Eyes figures all were very heavy on black, and very light on pretty much anything else.  This figure’s still got some black, but it’s interspersed with a lot of light blue, grey, and even some red.  While he’s hardly the most garish figure his year produced, by Snake Eyes standards, he was pretty obnoxious.  Also, inexplicably in Cobra colors, for whatever reason.  More than anything about the sculpt, these colors are the thing that remove this figure the most from being Snake Eyes.  Repaints of this figure in more Snake Eyes-esque colors aren’t perfect, but do at least make him more recognizable.  My guess would be that the sculpter and the person who chose the colors were not one and the same on this figure.  Snake Eyes was packed with two swords, a submachine gun, a backpack with a built-in missile launcher, and a display stand.  With the exception of the pack and stand, the accessories are all a vibrant red, again removing the usual Snake Eyes brand a bit.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When the very large Joe collection that came into All Time over the summer came in, this figure’s file card was in the mix, but he was nowhere to be seen.  Unlike Falcon, he did not miraculously appear out of one of the vehicles, however.  Instead, he miraculously appeared out of a small bag brought into the store by the person who sold us the rest of the collection, who had apparently found Snake Eyes and another figure while cleaning.  As an unabashed Snake Eyes fan, I have this weird desire to own all of his vintage figures, no matter how goofy, lame, or off-brand they may be.  This guy’s not great, but I honestly love him anyway.

As noted above, Snake Eyes came from All Time Toys, who got in a rather sizable vintage Joe collection, the remnants of which can be checked out the Joe section of their eBay page here.  If you’re looking for other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.