#2567: Gladiator

GLADIATOR

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

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

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

THE FIGURE ITSELF

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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

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

#2561: Speeder Bike

SPEEDER BIKE (w/ REBEL SPEEDER BIKE PILOT)

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

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

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

THE TOYS THEMSELVES

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

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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

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

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

#2558: Rogue & Pyro

ROGUE & PYRO

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Unpredictable circumstances force Rogue and Pyro away from the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and into the light.”

After the original team had disbanded and otherwise moved onto other things, in the ’80s, recurring Claremont villain Mystique put together her own version of Magneto’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.  The line-up debuted in the present day section of the classic “Days of Future Past” story line, and was made up of a mostly new selection of characters, including Pyro.  The team made a handful of appearances there after, and later that same year added Rogue to their roster.  While Pyro would become one of the team’s longer lasting members, Rogue was fairly quickly adopted into the X-Men, and has become one of that team’s most prominent members.  And, now, here they both are!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Rogue and Pyro are a two-pack release for Marvel Legends, and started hitting in the last month or so, though they aren’t officially slated for release until around November.  Character-wise, they’re a perfectly sensible pairing, but unlike some of the other recent two-packs, they aren’t really in compatible costumes.  I’m not complaining too much, of course.

ROGUE

Rogue’s first Legends release since the Juggernaut Series, way back in 2016.  This one gives us her X-Men: Legacy costume.  It’s not the look people were expecting, but it’s at least a new one for the line, rather than just jumping right back into another redo of the ’90s costume.  This release is also notable because this very version of Rogue was *supposed* to join the line in 2013, but when the Puck Series was re-routed to specialty retailers only, she was dropped from the line-up.  Her head actually wound up getting re-used on Sharon Carter back in 2016, but the figure proper was just waiting in the wings until Hasbro pulled it out for re-use here.  The figure stands just over 6 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation.  Though the design for this figure has been sitting around since 2013, it’s worth noting that the final figure doesn’t actually use any of the parts from the original prototype.  Rather than make use of the original concepts rather dated selection of pieces, the retail version uses the Phoenix body’s upper torso and arms, in conjunction with Ms. Marvel’s scarf, and a whole selection of new pieces.  Aside from a slightly restricted range of motion on the elbows, the Phoenix body is a good starting point, and actually allows for a more faithful rendition of Rogue’s costume.  The new pieces fit well, and further the body’s generally well-balanced proportions.  The new head isn’t too far removed from the original prototype, but has been slightly refined to better fit with the more modern stylings of the line at this point, giving her a slight smile in her expression, and a little more flow to the hair.  The new legs are noteworthy for making use of Hasbro’s new contained pins set-up, which makes them look a lot nicer and more seamless, and also seems to have made the general construction of them just a little more solid.  I also found the posing to be a little smoother, and the tolerancing to be slightly more apt for keeping her standing.  The figure’s paint work is overall fairly decent.  It’s all pretty basic work, but it gets the job done.  There’s a touch of slop on her skirt, however, that appears to really be it.  Rogue is packed with an alternate head with a slightly more intense, teeth-baring expression, as well as hands in both fists and open palm poses.

PYRO

Pyro got in on the Legends game relatively early, back in Toy Biz’s Bring on the Bad Guys assortment, but hasn’t gotten a follow-up figure since then, meaning it’s been 14 years without a single update.  Admittedly, he’s not a character with a lot of looks to produce, but that old figure was a bit dated looking even when he was new.  We saw Rogue at Toy Fair this year, but we didn’t know about Pyro until late in the summer, when the pair were officially shown off.  In contrast to Rogue’s late ’00s design, Pyro’s in his classic attire, and is definitely the more timeless figure of the pair.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 34 points of articulation.  Pyro is built on the 2099 body, with new head(s), forearms, and torso overlay.  The 2099 body feels like a good match for Pyro’s usual build, and the articulation scheme is good, so it’s a solid choice.  There are two heads featured here, both rather similar, apart from the expression.  The first is a rather neutral expression, while the second has Pyro cracking a grin.  Both are solid recreations of his design from the comics, right down to that goofy hair he’s usually drawn with.  I like that they both have him sporting a slightly more jovial expression, in contrast to the rather angry appearance that the Toy Biz Legend went with.  This seems more suited to the character.  I also like the smaller touches, such as the texture of the cloth of his mask stretching over his ears.  The overlay piece does a good job of capturing Pyro’s usual gear, and the tubes for his flamethrower are long enough to not impede posability, and also sturdy enough to not risk breaking.  In general, it’s also just a cleaner looking rendition of it than what we got with the Toy Biz version.  Pyro’s paint work is, like Rogue, more on the basic side, but generally pretty clean.  My figure has a touch of missing paint on the top of his right boot, but is otherwise pretty sharp.  He’s certainly an eye-catching figure.  In addition to the extra head, Pyro is packed with two standard flame effects pieces to go on the hands.  It’s a little tricky to get them on there with the flamethrower attachments, and they’re clearly not *meant* for this figure, so something more tailored would have been nice, but these are far from the worst thing.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve never had much attachment to the Legacy Rogue design, and had no real drive to get the original release even before it was cancelled.  With the Lee version already on-hand, I wasn’t missing this one, but I do quite like how she turned out, even if she’s not going to be my standard Rogue.  The old TB Pyro, as goofy as he was, was still one I quite liked at the time, and he’s a character I’ve always enjoyed.  I was glad to see him get an update, and his design is quite well translated here.  All in all, this is a set I kind of slept on, and I actually didn’t realize quite how much I enjoyed it until I sat down to write this review.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with these guys for review.  If you’re looking for Marvel Legends, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2557: Domino

DOMINO

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

 

“With the mutant power to manipulate probabilities, the odds are always in Domino’s favor.”

Luck?  That’s her power?  Pretty sure luck’s not a super power.  I mean, what could luck as a power possibly do for you?  I mean, what’s gonna happen, is a character that’s B-list at best get a mass-release single-packaged figure from a movie where the title character and the arguable deuteragonist wound up in a two-pack and as a store exclusive respectively?  Wait, that’s…that’s exactly what happened.  Maybe luck’s a pretty good super power…which is my roundabout way of saying “let’s look at this Domino” figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Domino is a single-release in the X-Men movie sub-line of Hasbro’s Marvel Legends.  She’s one of three standard release single figures in the line-up so far, the other two being Mystique and Wolverine, both of whom seem much further up the list than Domino, who completes the main Deadpool trio whose other two pieces are currently not quite as readily available.  What a weird set-up, right?  Hey, I’m really not going to complain too much myself.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation.  The articulation scheme is really solid here.  It’s not terribly far removed from prior Legends female base bodies, but the range on the joints is generally a lot better, and they’re very well toleranced, meaning she keeps the poses without too much trouble.  She also stands pretty well, which is always a plus in my book.  The sculpt is an all-new affair, patterned on Domino’s main action-oriented appearance in Deadpool 2.  She’s got two different head sculpts,  one standard and one with goggles.  Both have a pretty solid likeness of Zazie Beetz, but I personally find the one with the goggles has just a touch more personality to it, and is subsequently my preferred of the two.  The body sculpt is fairly realistic and well-balanced in terms of proportions, and the detail work is nice and sharp.  Her costume details all look to be fairly spot on, and the articulation is well integrated.  In terms of paint work, I find Domino has a bit of a leg up on Cable, whose paint was a little uneven.  Here it’s pretty strong from start to finish, with clean work on both faces, as well as all of the important details being covered on her costume.  In particular, I really like the hair, which has been molded in a semi-translucent plastic and then been given some accent work on top of that.  It really helps to prevent the usual unnatural thickness that occurs with fuller hair styles, and allows light to pass through in a quasi-realistic way.  In addition to the previously mentioned extra head, Domino includes two sets of hands (gripping and fists), two MAC 10s, and a pistol.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When Domino’s look was first shown off back before the movie’s release, I was a little iffy on some of the design choices they’d made, as I felt there were definitely some shortcuts taken that made her less of a comic-accurate creation than Deadpool himself had been in the prior film.  Because of this, I wasn’t sure what I’d think of this take on the character.  Then I saw the movie, and I was really impressed with Beetz’s take on the character, and she was ultimately one of my favorite aspects of the final product.  I was definitely happy to see her show up among the earliest X-Men movie stuff, and I’m even happier that the figure’s as solid a final product as it is.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure for review.  If you’re looking for Marvel Legends, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2555: Mysterio

MYSTERIO

MARVEL LEGENDS RETRO COLLECTION (HASBRO)

“A cloud of smoke heralds the arrival of the villainous mastermind who uses the art of illusion against Spider-Man — Marvel’s Mysterio!”

Man, remember when the Lizard Series Mysterio was so easy to get and not stupid expensive and really illusive?  No?  Oh, that’s right, because that was never really the case.  From the moment he was released, that figure was always the first one pulled from any case and remained well above regular retail pricing for pretty much his entire shelf life, if you can really call it that.  I eventually got one, but it certainly wasn’t easy.  Since it was so darn hard to get him, it’s probably not a huge surprise that Hasbro’s already got a repaint of him out, just two years later.  I’m taking a look at that figure today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Mysterio is his own standalone release for the Retro Collection sub-line of Marvel Legends, released to coincide with the recent Spider-Man-themed assortment.  Given how popular the last release was, singling him out was definitely the right call.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  Structurally, he’s *almost* identical to the prior comics Mysterio.  It was a pretty decent sculpt, and also a largely unique sculpt, so seeing Hasbro get some more mileage out of it makes sense.  It certainly looks impressive.  I’m still not overly fond of quite how the cape/helmet piece attaches, but I’ve had time to make my piece with that.  The only change to this figure’s sculpt is one that’s not evident at an outward glance: the head under the dome, which on the original figure was a skull/tentacle-illusion thing, has now been replaced by a sort of holographic Quentin Beck head (a repurposed Multiple Man head, for those that are curious).  I can dig both ideas, but I think I personally prefer the Beck head.  Beyond the un-helmeted head, the major change-up for this release is the paint work, which is, simply put, just a lot better this time around.  The helmet is now mostly opaque, allowing it to more properly capture the classic Mysterio look, and the jumpsuit’s impressive quilted sculpt is now much better showcased by the more intense accent work going on it.  Also, the gloves, boots, and clasps on the cape are all gold instead of light green, which is a slightly later look for the character but one that I think works better in toy form, as they add some extra pop to the figure.  Additionally, this figure avoids the clashing plastic colors of the last release, which again help him to just look a bit cleaner. Mysterio includes the two effects pieces for his feet, which are essentially the same between the two releases.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After the difficulty of getting the last release, this one was, comparatively, much easier to acquire.  I wasn’t sure I was even going to get him at first, but I really liked the new look in person, and I definitely wanted that Beck head.  Ultimately, both figures have their merits, but this release is definitely the superior offering, and I’m glad to have it.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this guy for review.  If you’re looking for Marvel Legends, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2553: Princess Leia Organa – Ewok Celebration Outfit

PRINCESS LEIA ORGANA — EWOK CELEBRATION OUTFIT

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

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

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

THE FIGURE ITSELF

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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

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

Flashback Friday Figure Addendum #0015: Kanan Jarrus

KANAN JARRUS

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

Oh boy, it’s a FiQ Flashback Friday Figure Addendum!  Man, it sure has been a long time since I’ve done one of these, hasn’t it?  Well, don’t get too attached; it’s not likely to become a regular feature again or anything like that.  As I discussed in my review of Hera earlier today, Hasbro’s doing a set of reissues on their Rebels figures from The Black Series.  I snagged Hera, because I missed the prior release, and I’ve skipped Ezra and Chopper, since they’re indistinguishable from the original releases.  I did, however, snag the Kanan re-issue, despite purchasing and reviewing the original release.

So, when The Black Series was launched, the focus was most prominently on the Original Trilogy characters (with one or two Prequel characters here and there, but definitely secondary).  As the line has continued, it’s become a bit more inclusive, adding The Force Awakens, of course, but also some Clone Wars and Rebels characters (and in the most recent series, even a proper EU character).  Today, I’ll be looking at one of those Rebels figures, namely Kanan Jarrus!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Kanan was released in the sixth series of the third round of Star Wars: The Black Series (i.e. the sixth series of Force Awakens Black Series).  He’s figure #19 in the line, which I believe makes him the first Rebels figure numerically.  The figure stands about 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  This figure takes Kanan’s animated design and sort of real-world-izes it.  It’s a good plan on Hasbro’s part; with the smaller scale figures, you’re guaranteed to get a larger quantity of them, so the stylized look won’t stand out as much, but for the larger figures, where animated releases will be far more spaced out, it’s far better to have them fit with the rest of the established line.  This way Kanan can get right to mowing through Stormtroopers without waiting for a proper Rebels Trooper release.  Overall, I think Kanan’s sculpt does a reasonable job of taking Kanan’s animated design and translating into how he might look in a live action film.  It’s not perfect, and I do really think Hasbro would have been smart to base Kanan on his voice actor Freddie Prinze, Jr in terms of likeness and build.  While it certainly looks like Kanan, he still ends up being a little more cartoony than a real person; his eyes (and head in general, really) are rather large, and his torso and arms seem very scrawny.  They’re certainly not as exaggerated as his animated counterpart, but when compared to some of the other figures from the line, he does look ever so slightly famished.  On the plus side, the texture work on the figure’s clothes is pretty outstanding, even better than a few of the other Black Series figures.  I like that each article of clothing has its own texture.  As far as the paint work goes, Kanan matches up with most of the more recent Black Series releases.  He’s a notable improvement over some of the prior figures, and most of the work is pretty sharp.  He could probably stand to have a little more accent work in a few spots, but what’s there works.  There is this weird clump scratched paint on his neck thing, almost like he was scratched before the paint had completely dried, but that’s the only real nit.  Kanan is packed with sidearm blaster, as well as his lightsaber, the hilt of which is designed got separate into two pieces that clip onto his belt, just like on the show.  It’s not the world’s largest accessory complement, but it’s better than several other figures in the line.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

So, Kanan was released prior to me getting into Rebels, which means I saw him a number of times and passed him up, since I didn’t know the character (yes, I know I bought all of the Rogue One and Force Awakens stuff before seeing the movies and “knowing the characters.”  You’re very smart.  Now shut up).  By the time I got into the show and actually wanted this guy, he had pretty much disappeared from shelves.  Fortunately for me, there are still some cases of series 6 making their way out there, and one such case had hit the Target where I found the second series of Rogue One figures, allowing me to grab this guy at the same time.  Karan has his flaws, but so did a lot of figures in this particular series, and at least his don’t prevent him from being a fun action figure.

That review was from December of 2016, and actually isn’t that bad.  Hey, my writing actually holds up; good for me, right?  In my original review, I was overall pretty positive on this figure.  I did remark that the Kanan seemed a little bit on the scrawny side in terms of build, and that I wasn’t all that big on the way the head looked.  I definitely was hoping for more of a Freddie Prinze Jr likeness on that head.  All of the Rebels figures barring Ezra predated the addition of the face-printing to the line, but Kanan in particular hit during one of Black Series‘ low points on the paint front.  A major appeal of this latest release of the figure is updating Kanan to this new style.  While the figure is effectively identical to the original release from the neck down, the face is an incredible change-up for the figure.  Simply put, he just looks better.  Like, so much better.  Better enough for me to feel totally okay with dropping the price of a standard figure so that I could get this update.  I liked Kanan’s original figure well enough, but this update makes me like him way more, and he feels much more at home with the rest of the line as its evolved.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this guy for review.  If you’re looking for Black Series, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2551: Hera Syndulla

HERA SYNDULLA

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“The captain and heart of the Ghost crew, Hera Syndulla was a gifted pilot and leader. The Twi’lek could bring out the best in her team, making them believe in themselves.”

Star Wars: Rebels hit at a rough spot for merchandising on Star Wars.  The 3D re-release of Phantom Menace and its ensuing tie-ins practically killed Star Wars at retail in its entirety, necessitating a major re-work and as major scaling back.  Rebels was treated to a line of basic figures at the smaller scale, just as The Black Series was launching at the 6-inch scale.  Black Series was very OT focused at itself, so the Ghost crew had to make due with slowly being added to the line one-by-one.  Of course, having them mixed in with a bunch of other product launches didn’t exactly make them the easiest figures to get ahold of.  I myself missed my first shot at Hera, who originally dropped during the Last Jedi launch.  Fortunately for me (and the many other fans who missed out on her initial release), Hasbro’s decided to just go ahead and reissue the whole crew in one shot.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Hera Syndulla is part of Hasbro’s latest relaunch of Star Wars: The Black Series figures.  Gone is the red packaging and the line-wide numbering, replaced by mural-building subgroups of figures.  The seven figure Rebels subgroup’s packaging can be lined up for a full cast shot.  Hera’s fifth in that line-up, but there seems to not be any correlation between placement and release, as she and Kanan are in the second “batch” to show up at retail, at least around here.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation.  Hera was fortunate to hit right as Hasbro was really getting a handle on articulating these figures, so she winds up with a pretty solid range of motion.  The elbows get more than 90 degrees, and I dig the ball jointed waist.  The only part I’m not super crazy about is the neck, but even that’s not terrible.  Hera’s sculpt is by far my favorite of the humanoid Rebels characters in this line (Chopper still takes the top overall, though), as they really found their footing on that line between cartoon and reality, and made a sculpt that really captures the main essence of her show design, while also managing to look properly at home with the figures from the live-action films.  I also really love how much detail work they’ve managed to inject into her costume.  The paint work on the figure is mostly pretty basic, but seems to stick pretty close to how Hera’s supposed to look.  It’s worth noting that this figure adds the face-printing, which the initial release just narrowly missed.  It’s not quite as essential for her, but it still adds a nice touch to the overall look of the figure, and certainly looks more lifelike.  Hera’s only accessory is a rather small, but also rather well-detailed blaster pistol, which can be held, or stashed in her ankle holster.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I saw Hera’s original release one time, and just didn’t have the money for it at the time.  Given how scarce she wound up being, I definitely regretted that, especially as the rest of the crew started to show up.  As soon as this re-issue was confirmed, I was totally on board.  She’s a really solid figure in-hand, and honestly my favorite of this little subset.  I’m very glad to finally have one.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this guy for review.  If you’re looking for Black Series, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2548: Brett

BRETT

ALIEN: 40TH ANNIVERSARY (NECA)

“Parker, what do you think? Your staff just follows you around and says ‘right’. Just like a regular parrot.”

What good is a manager without some staff to manage?  Parker’s definitely the brains of the Nostromo’s maintenance division, but he’s kept company by his slightly slower on the uptake subordinate, Samuel Brett.  Played by veteran character actor Harry Dean Stanton, Brett has the misfortune of becoming the titular creature’s first victim, but is never the less a memorable part of the film’s cast.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Brett joins Parker as part of the second series of NECA’s Alien: 40th Anniversary line, where the two ship alongside a variant of the main alien.  If Parker’s been scarce as a toy, Brett’s only been scarcer, with only a Minimate preceding this release.  The figure stands 7 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  Much like Parker, Brett’s got a lot of articulation, but the range isn’t quite all there.  It’s a little better here than on Parker, and the double joints on the elbows help a little more with posing.  That being said, those double joints aren’t really much to look at, and do end up being more than a little bit jarring in regards to the flow of the sculpt.  The actual quality of the sculpt’s not bad, but I’m not sure it’s quite as strong as Parker’s, which is interesting, because my opinions on the two were swapped based on the prototypes.  Something seems to have happened in the production process, however, and the likeness in particular on this guy took a real hit.  It’s not terrible, but it’s not nearly as spot-on as it looked to be in early shots.  The rest of the body’s not bad, apart from the previously mentioned issue with the wonky elbow joints breaking things up. The detail work is crisp, and there’s a lot of effort that’s been put into making him look properly disheveled.  The only part that’s not really got that disheveled look is the bottom of the shirt, which just ends up looking a bit too neat and even by my mark.  Brett’s paint work is overall pretty decent.  There’s a reasonable amount of accent work going on in the uniform, which helps the make the sculpted details pop.  The head gets the worst work again, unfortunately, with the eyes in particular just seeming…off.  Like, possibly misaligned?  It looked like this on all of the figures I had to pick from, so it seems like a line wide issue of some sort.  Brett’s packed with a motion detector and the same cattle prod that came with Parker.  He can hold them both a bit better than Parker could hold his accessories, so that’s a plus.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Parker was definitely my most wanted member of the Nostromo crew, but Brett wasn’t too far behind him, so I was quite happy when they were confirmed together for this line-up.  I find Brett’s got more issues that hold him back than Parker, but ultimately he’s still a good figure, and I’m glad we got them both.

Thanks to my sponsors over at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure to review.  If you’re looking for NECA figures, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2547: Parker

PARKER

ALIEN: 40TH ANNIVERSARY (NECA)

One of Alien‘s enduring contributions to the sci-fi lexicon was moving space-faring characters away from being just purely scientists and military experts, running around in spandex jumpsuits and carrying fancy laser guns and the like, speaking in perfect english, and rarely ever showing any actual normal emotions.  The crew of the Nostromo were a decidedly blue collar bunch, a band of career space truckers not even remotely qualified to be the ones handling first contact with a hostile species.  Their interactions with these strange situations, coupled with their own very realistic interactions and dialogues with each other, gave the film a far more believable and realist feel, and had the side effect of also making the tragedies that befall each of them even more impactful.  Perhaps two of the most interesting characters in the film are the Nostromo‘s engineers, Dennis Parker and his subordinate Brett, two men stuck at the bottom of the Nostromo‘s totem pole.  Parker in particular is one of the film’s most central characters*, his very reactionary and fiery responses to the growing threat serving as a consistent counterpoint to Ripley’s coldly rational approach.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Parker is part of Series 2 of NECA’s Alien: 40th Anniversary line, which celebrates Alien‘s 40th anniversary, albeit a year late.  NECA’s gotta NECA.  Oh, also Series 2 is the only one available through specialty markets, with Series 1 going to Target and 3 going to Walmart.  Why they decided to split up the line between three different venues is anyone’s guess, and I feel it’s only going to further the growing frustration with NECA’s distribution practices and the relative difficulty of following any of their lines right now.  Not helping matters is the difficulty of getting even this specialty assortment, which appears to have been rather scarce.  But, I’m getting away from the actual review.  Back on topic.  Parker here is getting his third ever action figure, following the old Galoob Action Fleet version and the Minimate.  The figure stands 7 3/4 inches tall and he has 30 points of articulation.  While he’s got a lot of articulation, the range is definitely more on the limited side with this guy.  I had some trouble getting him to properly hold the flamethrower on my figure.  It’s certainly nothing terrible, but he’s not quite up the same level as the Marines.  It’s possible he might have a little more range if I pushed a little more on those joints, but I’m hesitant to do that, given NECA’s usual track record on such things.  Parker’s sculpt is all new, and it’s a pretty impressive piece of work.  The likeness of Yaphet Kotto is definitely a very strong one, and the detailing on his uniform is nice and crisp…well, nice and crisp in the appropriate, disheveled way.  The only thing that seems slightly off to me is the figure’s torso, which appears to be a bit too long to be a proper proportionate match for the rest of the sculpt.  It’s not really far off, but it’s enough to stick out.  Parker’s paint work is pretty decently handled.  His face isn’t quite on par with some of Hasbro’s more recent work, but it’s still quite lifelike, and the detailing on the uniform aids in showcasing the depth of the sculpt.  Parker is packed with a flamethrower (the same one originally included with Ripley), the cattle prod he and Brett whipped up, and a second right hand with a slightly different grip.  The hand perplexes me a bit, because it’s a tighter grip than the standard, but not enough to actually let him hold either of the accessories any better, which makes me question why it was included.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Parker’s my favorite character from the film, and I’ve been hoping to see him added to this line pretty much since NECA started doing the Nostromo crew back in 2015.  I’m glad to have finally gotten the figure, and he’s a pretty solid addition to the overall line.

Thanks to my sponsors over at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure to review.  If you’re looking for NECA figures, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

*Re-reading some of my old reviews, I see that in my review of the Parker Minimate, I referred to him as “not a character who’s key to the plot.”  I’m not sure why I said that, and I’m gonna have to call out 2015 Ethan for his totally incorrect and bogus assessment of the character there.  What gives, man?