#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?)

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The Blaster in Question #0078: Battle-Kata Blaster

BATTLE-KATA BLASTER

G.I. JOE: RETALLIATION (HASBRO)

“G.I. Joe is the world’s greatest special-ops fighting force with top-secret ninja training from the toughest of masters. Led by ultimate ninja commando Roadblock, these elite heroes defend the globe from the evil forces of Cobra. Fight your way to protect the innocent and defeat the guilty with the G.I. Joe Battle-Kata Blaster Toy! The adventures you imagine will sometimes call for a blade and sometimes for a blaster. This Battle-Kata Blaster toy is a 2-in-1 battle combo! In blaster mode, fire the included darts when the battle calls for marksmanship. But when your enemies move in close, switch to blade mode! You’ll be double trouble for evil with the Battle-Kata Blaster toy!”

Since its inception in 1964, the G.I. Joe brand has been subject to all sorts of changes over the years.  They were basic soldiers, peace-loving adventurers, an anti-terrorist organization full of colorful characters, ’90s action heroes, and movie stars.  And, apparently, also a gun?  Weird.  So, how about a look at some merch from the best live-action G.I. Joe movie starring the Rock, G.I. Joe: Retaliation!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Battle-Kata Blaster figure was released in 2012, as part of the mass product drop for G.I. Joe: Retaliation.  This means that, like all of the other products for Retaliation, the Blaster was on shelves almost a year before the film it was meant to tie-in to.  Yay for proper coordination of movie makers and merchandisers!  As you would expect from toyline that’s the original source of the term “action figure”, this blaster that is not at all a figure was the undisputed centerpiece of the product line.  And how could it not be?  Check out this poster!  This bad boy’s front and center!  It was going to be a star!  An up and comer! So, how’d this thing turn out in toy form?  Well, it stands 5 1/2 inches tall and it’s got…ummm, like some movement, I guess.  It’s hard to classify it as articulation.  Like, the little latch at the top moves back and forth.  And I guess the trigger counts as some movement too, though it can’t really hold any poses beyond “waiting to be pulled.”  The point is, you won’t really be getting poses beyond what you see here.  The Battle-Kata Blaster was sporting a brand new, totally unique sculpt, based on its appearance in the film…more or less.  It’s supposed to be a Colt 1911/Kriss Vector mash-up with some stuff tacked on it, and there’s kind of this brass-knuckles set-up around the grip.  It’s reasonably well-sculpted, though obviously a little softer on the details than the look from the film.  Can’t imagine why they wouldn’t want 100% accuracy on something like this.  The right side is definitely this thing’s “hero” side; the left has all manner of screws and what not visible for all to see.  The Battle-Kata definitely has some stability issues.  Keeping it upright under its own power is very difficult.  Just getting it to stay up for the photos seen here was quite a bit of trouble.  It’s going to definitely need some assistance.  As far as paint goes, there’s not really much for the Battle-Kata Blaster, since it goes for the molded plastic color approach.  Said molded plastic mostly orange and green, which everyone knows is just the most aesthetically-pleasing color scheme of all time.  But, if they don’t do it for you, Hasbro’s been kind enough to also throw in some pale grey.  You know, for kids.  Hands down, the best piece of the paint, though, is that “Caution” warning you not to swing this thing at people or animals.  Because the last thing you want a weapon to do is to harm anyone.  That’s just outlandish.  There are two action features built into the Battle-Kata.  The first is a missile launching feature, which works in conjunction with that weird trigger movement thing that was going on.  The missiles don’t go particularly far, but I guess it’s a neat gimmick.  Plus you can store the extra missiles in the two ports on the face of the blaster.  There’s also a slight transforming gimmick (because Hasbro is just all about that cross over), where you can unhook the handle from the gun and connect it to the front.  One good pull later and, boom, it’s a knife…a really warped and slightly scratched up knife.  There’s not really any way for it to like hold the knife or anything, but you can kind of rest them up against each other.  Not the best display option, but I guess it works.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Retaliation product was all sort of a strange beast, but no stranger than this one.  Movie accuracy really isn’t there and the gimmick is kind of strange.  It doesn’t scale with any of the other product either, making it an all around odd offering.  I mean, it can’t even stand on its own.  What’s it good for?  I don’t really know, but there it is nevertheless.

#1992: Ripcord

RIPCORD

G.I. JOE: RISE OF COBRA

Not gonna lie, this one threw me a little bit. I’m not sure if this was just a movie tie-in or what but I guess Hasbro picked up the G.I. Joe license at some point. I’m not 100% sure so I guess let’s just jump into the review.  This is the Ripcord. 

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The Ripcord blaster was released in 2009 as part of the G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra movie-tie in line.  It uses the same basic mechanism as blasters such a the Stark Strike Gauntlet blaster or the Avengers Assemblers blasters, although with a proprietary ammo type I’ve never seen before. It’s certainly an odd choice but I suppose we’ve seen other brands try the hard plastic ammo over foam. I mean, just look at Boomco. The ergonomics are a little odd to say the least. For one, the whole blaster is shaped like a person holding a bazooka type launcher, so I really don’t know where to hold it. Additionally, the trigger is more like a button on the top of the blaster so you pretty much have to use both hands to fire. There are no sights or rails to speak of so aiming is a bit of a chore, not that it really would help given the anemic power of the blaster itself. Despite the lack of rails the blaster does actually come with a fair number of accessories, including a stand, an ammo belt that is purely aesthetic, and a smaller model blaster that seems to be based off the FN F2000. Sections of the blaster also are built to move like the arms and legs of the person. I’m not sure what purpose of this feature is as none of the possible poses really help the glaring ergonomic issues. The helmet of the person does open and come off with some effort revealing the face of the character Ripcord from the movie but this has no effect on the performance of the blaster, which is, again, quite poor. Something I find a little odd about this blaster that distinguishes it from every other blaster in the Nerf catalogue is the lack of an orange barrel. You could argue that this thing is so far removed from a real gun visually that it doesn’t need one, but it stood out to me. The Ripcord blaster comes with the blaster, the person, their helmet, the ammo belt, and a stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

I really don’t know what Hasbro was thinking with this one. I mean, I’m certainly no stranger to weird, sub-par licensed blasters like what we’ve seen with Marvel blasters but even those have some semblance of a proper blaster. This is just something else entirely different. Who knows, maybe if Hasbro keeps the license further down the road, we might get some better blasters in this line.

#1622: Darth Vader – Vantablack

VANTABLACK DARTH VADER

STAR WARS: THE VANTABLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

Once a heroic Vantablack Jedi Knight, Vantablack Darth Vader was seduced by the Vantablack side of the Force, became a Sith Vantablack Lord, and led the Vantablack Empire’s eradication of the Vantablack Jedi Order. He remained in service of the Vantablack Emperor for decades, enforcing his Vantablack Master’s will and seeking to crush the fledgling Vantablack Rebel Alliance.  Vantablackly.”

Have you ever looked at something and thought it could use some more light devouring, piercing, soul-sucking absolute blackness?  No?  Well, that’s ’cause you’re silly.  The obvious answer was “vanta-yes!”  Enter Hasbro with their brand new product line, combining all of the coolness of their Star Wars: The Black Series line with the absolute blackness that is Vantablack.  Behold, Star Wars: The Vantablack Series.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Vantablack Darth Vader is the inaugural figure in Star Wars: The Vantablack Series‘s first assortment, alongside Vantablack TIE Pilot, Vantablack Death Trooper, and the ultra-secret-mega-chase-one-per-case-completely-theoretical Vantablack Panther.  Why’s there a Marvel figure in there?  Disney, that’s why.  All of those are all well and good, but today’s the main event, the main man, Vantablack Darth Vader, representing Darth Vader as he’d be if he were more Vantablack-y.  This figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has…points of articulation?  I think there’s like around 30?  I don’t know, it’s hard to tell.  Absolute blackness and all.  You try to get an accurate count on something you can’t see!  Vader’s sculpt is..uhh, well there’s…I mean, uhh, it’s new, I think?  It feels new.  Or maybe it’s old.  I suppose it could be the same as the last one.  I’m not used to reviewing my figures by touch.  The quality is good, though.  I think.  There’s probably tons of details there.  It sure feels like it.  I think it’s accurate to the movies, but having never touched any of the Vader suits from the movies, I can’t quite give an accurate reading.  If my fingers don’t deceive me, this is an ANH Vader.  Good choice, guys, that one’s the best feeling one.  The paint on this guy is all Vantablack all the time.  It’s obviously got consistent coverage, since I can’t see any reflection at all.  Vantablack Vader is packed with his usual lightsaber, but with the hilt also in Vantablack.  It’s cool, but I’ve already dropped it on the floor, and what with the Vantablack…I mean, do you know how hard it is to find an item that doesn’t reflect?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I stumbled on this guy at my Toys R Us.  I mean that literally.  The box is *also* in Vantablack, and, as I noted, that stuff doesn’t reflect, so it’s kind of hard to see, especially since TRU’s literally just stacking this stuff on the floors now.  Since I’d already left a sizable shoe-print on the box, I figured I should probably pay for it.  I greatly look forward to having more of these figures that I can’t really see.  Maybe I’ll put them in a dark corner of the room.

#0892: Superman

SUPERMAN

DC COMICS MULTIVERSE (MATTEL)

DKRSuperman1

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice was released last week to reviews that were…well, I’ll be generous and say “middling.” Though they tend to be presented as a more friendly pair, Superman vs Batman is not a new idea for the film. They’ve done battle a few times over the years. One of the better handled face-offs is in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. In the story, Batman’s gotten pretty far removed from his usual self, and becomes rather unhinged, prompting the US government to send Superman in to take him down if need be. Though Batman is technically the story’s hero, Superman isn’t portrayed as being in the wrong, just a guy looking for a glimpse of hope in the bleak, nihilistic future of DKR. Anyway, the story is celebrating its 30th Anniversary this year, and Mattel has done a small sub-set of figures based on it, including Superman.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

DKRSuperman2Superman is one of the three figures that make up the Walmart-exclusive Batman: The Dark Knight Returns series of the main DC Comics Multiverse line. The figure stands just shy of 7 inches tall and he has 25 points of articulation. Structurally, he has a very similar build to the figures in Mattel’s Masters of the Universe Classics line. He re-uses a lot of pieces from the prior DKR Batman released in the Batman Unlimited line. Mattel insists that the only pieces these two share with the MotUC figures are the shoulders. I can’t say that they have much incentive to lie about something like this, so I guess I’ll believe them, even if the parts do look really similar. Anyway, Superman uses the majority of the aforementioned Batman figure, with a unique head, forearms, shins, pelvis cover, and cape. The piece make him sufficiently different, while also keeping the similar build of the two characters, which makes sense, since Batman and Superman were portrayed as about the same size in the story. While he’s definitely put on some muscle mass in the story, Superman has aged far more gracefully than Batman. The figure does a pretty good job of replicating that in the head sculpt; he’s obviously a little older when you look at him closely, but he can pretty easily pass for a normal Superman, should you want him to. The rest of the new pieces are all pretty basic, but they capture the look of the character nicely, and they’re all pretty sharp sculpts. The paintwork on Superman is kind of a mix of good and bad. The overall look is definitely very good. The colors are nice and bold, and I absolutely love the larger “S” logo on his chest. He’s noticeably missing the symbol on the back of his cape, though, which is a bit of a shame. Also, the actual application of the paint is quite sloppy. In the store, I had to choose between sloppy belt and decent neckline or decent belt and atrocious neckline. That’s not a fun choice (I went with the former). Superman includes one of Green Arrow’s…uh, arrows, which has a kryptonite tip. It’s a nice piece, even if he does have a little trouble holding it. It sure would be nice if we got an Ollie to go with that arrow, though.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’m at best a moderate fan of The Dark Knight Returns. I own exactly one issue of the series. Care to guess which one? Yeah, it’s the one where he fights Superman. I picked up the first DKR Batman when Mattel released him a few years back in hopes that it would eventually lead to this particular figure, and in a roundabout way, it did. Of course, actually finding him was no easy feat. I stopped at several Walmarts and was never able to find anything more than the Batman re-paint that accompanies this guy. However, at the last Walmart, after I admitted defeat, my good friend Jill noted a few items had been placed on the top shelf at the far end of the aisle. Sure enough, I spotted two Multiverse packages, and when I pulled them down, they were both Superman. Someone was hiding figures! I’m really happy to have this guy, and I think he turned out incredibly well. Were it not for the NECA Christopher Reeve Superman, this one would probably be my favorite Superman in my collection.

Well, here was the real review, but this was my April Fools day post for 2016.  Read the altered version here.

DKRSuperman3

#0526: The Pink Round Base

THE PINK ROUND BASE

DESKTOP STAPLERS (STANLEY BOSTITCH)

PinkStapler1

Hello everyone! Welcome back to another thrilling installment of The Stapler in Question, your daily dose of Stapler-y goodness! Yesterday, we returned back to the basics, taking a look at Old Black, a refreshing update on the classic Stapler design. Today, we’re going to mix things up by taking a look at one of the newer, more radical shifts in the stapler dynamic. Not only is this baby a round base, it’s also hot pink. Let’s take a look at this sure fire hit!

THE STAPLER ITSELF

PinkStapler2The Pink Round Base was released as part of Stanley Bostitch’s line of Half-Strip staplers. It’s a model 606 stapler, which is the model that really seems to have been SB’s bread and butter as of late. Pink was released one of two ways: solo or in the “Plus Pack,” which featured a pinch-style staple remover and 5,000 staples. Mine is the solo release, but the staplers themselves are identical. The stapler is about 2 inches tall and 5 inches in length. It has the standard two points of articulation, along with the typical spring-operated reloading feature. The stapler also has the ability to open up all the way, for use on things such as bulletin boards, which is always a handy feature to have. Word to the wise: getting it open all the way can be a little tricky. It’s easy to accidently open up the staple case instead, sending those staples flying. That can be a real pain. The sculpt of the Pink Round Base is a re-use of the basic SB Model 606. It’s one of their ergonomic models, and it’s really not bad. It seems that ergonomics is not the fad that some people in the stapler industry thought it would be, and SB has embraced it full-heartedly. This model is easy to grip, and staples with relative ease. The mold has clean, sharp lines, and the SB logo is nicely emblazoned right at the top.  Oh boy is that a sweet logo! However, there’s one thing that’s easily the selling point of this mold, and that’s the convenient visual staple reload alert. It may just look like a hole in the front of the stapler, but it’s oh so much more! This sucker lets you monitor the number of staples at the front of the stapler, letting you know you’re out even before you do that first empty staple click. That saves you almost seconds of time! The Pink Round Base has no actual paintwork, but the plastic parts are molded in, you guessed it, a nice pink plastic. The color is nice and even, and sure to last, even when hit by that pesky natural light!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This Pink Round Base was a gift from my always awesome, always supportive Mom. I went to her and said, “Mom, I need a stapler for my paper I’m turning in.” She pulled out this bad boy, and I’ve been on cloud 9 ever since. At its core, it’s just another stapler, but this things got personality. You put this on your desk, and people will be talking for sure!

 

*Holy crap, you actually made it through this thing! Congratulations! In case you hadn’t gathered prior to this, April Fools! You, faithful reader, just won The Figure in Question No-PrizeTM. Try not to spend it all in one place! We’ll return you to our regularly scheduled FiQ programing tomorrow!

#0166: Robin

ROBIN

BATMAN (MATTEL)

 

This was my April Fool’s Day post for 2014.  The following is a proper review of the figure written March 24, 2017.  If you’d like to read the original post, go here.

The original version of this review was more a joke thing than anything.  Now a days, I’d have written the review both ways, but the figure was quite incomplete at the time.  Since I finally found this guy’s freaking head, I guess I can actually review him now!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The figure, officially titled “Battle Board Robin,” was released in the first series of Mattel’s 2003 Batman line.  Robin stands about 6 inches tall and has 11 points of articulation.  The main hook of this line at the time was that they’d brought in the Four Horsemen (who had just helped Mattel relaunch Masters of the Universe) to sculpt most of the figures, including the Bat-variants.  There was one exception to this in the first series.  Care to guess who it was?  Yep, it was this here Robin figure, which was handled by Mattel’s in-house team.  In their defense, it’s actually a decent enough sculpt.  It doesn’t look quite as good as the  prototype did, but what figure does?  His muscles are sort of impossible, and I’ve always disliked how stiff he was, bit there are some nice things about the sculpt.  The boots in particular look pretty solid.  But how about that head that I finally found after all these years?  Well, full disclosure: the reason it was missing when I found him was because I had fully intended to replace it with another one.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t particularly good at sculpting at 12, so the replacement I made wasn’t much better.  Ultimately, this one’s okay, but not my favorite Robin head.  I think it’s got a lot to do with the hair, which just doesn’t really look like anything Tim ever sported.  Also, still missing from the figure is his cape.  It was just two pieces of fabric glued together, and was too thick and short to actually hang realistically.  It’s kind of exhibit A of why I prefer capes to be sculpted.  In terms of paint, this figure was fairly basic colors.  For some reason the gloves are black.  Don’t know why, never did.  The accents on the muscles and some of the other sculpted work actually weren’t standard to the figure; I added them around the time that I tried replacing the head.  I really wanted to salvage this figure for some reason.  His only accessory was his titular Battle Board, which was really just a disc launcher than he could also stand on.  It was an odd choice.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

There’s actually not a particularly exciting figure regarding the acquisition of this figure.  He, Joker, and the basic (Zipline) Batman were all really hard to find when these figures started hitting stores.  I eventually found him at the KB Toys near where my family vacationed (I got him alongside some Star Trek: Nemesis figures.  Oh what a joyous day that was).  He’s not awful, but he’s also not super great.  The saddest thing is that Mattel never actually returned to this design for Robin (apart from an inaccurate repaint of the later DCUC figure), so this is the best there is from them.