#2904: X-Force Cannonball & Shatterstar

X-FORCE CANNONBALL & SHATTERSTAR

MARVEL MINIMATES

Marvel Minimates have always paid very close attention to ‘90s Marvel, specifically the X-Men side of things. In 2010, we even got a small subset of Liefeld-inspired X-Force Minimates, which included Liefeld-favorite Cannonball and Liefeld-creation Shatterstar!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Cannonball and Shatterstar were released in the ninth TRU-exclusive series of Marvel Minimates, which hit at the tail end of 2010.

X-FORCE CANNONBALL

Not Cannonball’s first or last time as a Minimate, this particular take on the former New Mutant gives us his first Liefeld design, which, despite my usual distaste for things Liefeld, is actually one of the better takes on Cannonball.  Cannonball is built with four add-on pieces, for his hair/goggles, coat, and gloves. The gloves are just standard flared gloves (DC flared gloves, though; not Captain America flared gloves), but do their job well enough. The hair piece and jacket are both new, and do a reasonable job of capturing Sam’s in-book appearance. The hair could perhaps stand to be a little sharper in terms of detailing, but the coat definitely turned out well.  The paint on Cannonball is reasonable overall, but some of the application is rather sloppy. The boots on my figure are particularly messy. This assortment falls during the stretch of time where the plastic quality on Minimates took a bit of a dive. They aren’t hit by the worst of it, but you can sort of see the difference in the coloring of the skin-tone on the head, and how the paint takes to the plastic (detail lines here are generally a bit duller).  In terms of accessories, Cannonball’s only got one, but it’s a good one. He’s got a blast effect piece that plugs into the bottom of his torso in place of his legs, depicting how he is usually drawn when using his powers.

X-FORCE SHATTERSTAR

This figure marked Shatterstar’s debut as a Minimate, appropriately in his debut costume from the pages of New Mutants #99. Shatterstar is a character with a history of truly hideous costumes. This one is hardly an exception.  Shatterstar has add-on pieces for his hair/headgear, shoulderpad/scarf, belt, and gloves. The gloves are the same ones used on Cannonball, but beyond that, all of the other add-ons were new to Shatterstar.  They’re decent enough recreations of his gear from the comics, goofy as they may be. Shatterstar also has the poofy sleeved upper arms that first showed up on the Series 29 90s Storm. I’ve never been overly fond of these pieces, given how far they stick out from the chest block. Just the standard arms might have worked better, especially on a figure that’s already as bulked up as this one.  Shatterstar’s paint is rather similar to Cannonball’s. There’s some serious slop on the changeover from white to black on the legs. He’s also plagued by the same issues of plastic quality. The skintone’s a sickly color, and the white has always been a little bit yellowed. Just an overall messy piece of work.  Shatterstar is packed with a pair of his signature twin-bladed swords. They’re decent enough on their own merits (apart from some slight warping from the packaging), but the choice of hands for him means he has some serious trouble properly holding them. Getting them into his hands can take some serious effort.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This pack marked a rather easy to acquire purchase for me back when they were new, surprisingly.  I wound up finding them on a last minute stop at TRU during the holiday season, when I wasn’t actually expecting to find anything.  Cannonball is an overall decent rendition of the character, slightly held back by a few quality issues.  Shatterstar is a flawed figure, in both design and execution. Had the execution been there, I think he still would have been fine, but he had the misfortune of being released during one of the roughest periods of quality control, so he ends up really middle of the road. Not awful, but not so great either.

 

#2151: Cannonball

CANNONBALL

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

Samuel Guthrie creates a powerful forcefield to fly at superhuman speeds as a leader of the New Mutants known as Cannonball.”

Cannonball is actually a pretty solid success story for a “late run” X-character.  Introduced in the pages of New Mutants as one of the team’s founding members, he was one of the few to stick with the team for its original run and well into its rebranding as X-Force.  He was eventually promoted into the main X-Men team for a bit, and has even had a go at being an Avenger for a span of time.  How about that?  Though not the most prevalent character in action figure form, he tends to get at least one figure for every stylistic iteration of Marvel toys, and he’s found himself included in the latest round of X-themed Marvel Legends.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Cannonball is figure 2 in the Wendigo Series of Marvel Legends.  He fits well with the running undercurrent of an X-Force theme in this particular assortment, especially since he’s in his ’90s X-Force costume.  Said ’90s costume is probably the design most evocative of the character, so it’s a good choice.  It’s also the same design that inspired his last Legends figure, some 12 years ago, so it’s got that whole direct replacement thing going for it.  The figure stands 7 inches tall and he has 18 points of articulation.  While not super low, that articulation count is a lot lower than most Legends figures.  And why might that be?  Well, as you may have noticed from the photos, Sam doesn’t actually have a lower half.  In the comics, Sam’s ability is usually showcased by sort of a rocket boost effect that consumes his lower half.  It’s a dynamic way of illustrating the level of force behind his abilities.  It’s also something that his figures beyond his Minimates have never really tackled, instead giving us Sam in his powered down state.  This figure instead goes for a fully-powered look.  I’m of mixed feelings on this choice.  While I like to have effects pieces, and the rocket boost is certainly a signature appearance for Cannonball, the choice to release him with only the blast effect and no actual legs severely limits what can be done with this figure.  Additionally, the blast effect is pointed straight up, unlike the Minimates piece, which was angled, thereby making it look like he was flying towards something.  This just makes it look like Sam is angrily propelling himself straight upward, which doesn’t really work all that well, dynamically.  His upper half is fairly decent, I suppose.  He uses the arms from Shatterstar, in conjunction with a new head, torso, and jacket.  The teeth-gritting expression is appropriately Liefeldian, and the new parts create a solid recreation of his costume from the comics.  The upper torso is also removable from the blast effect, if you want to try and give him a set of legs that they didn’t include.  The paintwork on the figure is decent enough; it’s pretty much what we’ve come to expect from the line.  The linework is clean and all of the important elements are there.  The variation from red to yellow on the blast is pretty cool too.  Cannonball has no accessories of his own (which really just further emphasizes that whole lack of legs issue), but does include a leg of the Build-A-Figure Wendigo (again emphasizing his own missing legs).

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’m actually still quite fond of the first Legends Cannonball, so this one was already going to have a rough time of clearing that bar, but the confirmation that he wasn’t going to include legs just further put me off.  I’m still all-in on Legends so I was planning to buy him anyway, but I was sure hoping to be surprised by the figure in-hand.  The figure still fills me with mixed emotions.  The upper half is decent, and I don’t hate that he has the effect piece, but it’s really, really limiting, and questionably implemented.  There were definitely better ways of handling this.

Cannonball was purchased from my sponsors over at All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#1195: Cannonball & Domino

CANNONBALL & DOMINO

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

cannonballdomino1

Hasbro’s early days with the Marvel license were an odd time.  Truth be told, they didn’t really come into their own with the product until somewhere around Iron Man 2, which was a good three years into their run with the license.  Until then, there were some weird experiments, intermixed with just sort of copying a lot of Toy Biz’s stuff, mostly when it came to Marvel Legends.  The first two series of their Legends were almost entirely chosen and designed by Toy Biz, which gave them a bit of time to figure out some of their own stuff for the half-formed Series 3 assortment.  The first two series hit in early 2007, and the third wouldn’t hit until almost the end of the year.  Hasbro filled the gap between two and three with a handful of exclusives.  Today, I look at Cannonball and Domino, one of those exclusives.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Cannonball and Domino were a Walmart-exclusive two-pack.  They were released alongside the similarly exclusive Cable and Marvel Girl two-pack in the summer of 2007, as only the third round of Walmart-exclusive Marvel Legends.  Both characters were at something of a low-point in terms of relevance, but and were actually the first X-Force alumni outside of Cable and Deadpool to join the line.

CANNONBALL

cannonballdomino3Sam Guthrie is one of the more successful characters from his era of comics.  Cannonball started out as a member of the New Mutants and not only make it all the way through that series’ run, heal also transferred into its follow-up X-Force, and then moved onto the main X-Men team, where he was a pretty prominent character for a while.  He fell back into obscurity for a bit, but was recently brought on as one of Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers, which seems to have gone pretty well for him.  This figure is loosely based on his first X-Force design (loosely due to the necessities of parts re-use, which I’ll touch on in a sec).  He stands about 6 1/2 inches tall and has 39 points of articulation.  That’s a lot of movement, but, as you can see, it’s sort of at the cost of the sculpt.  The sculpt, it should be noted, originally hails from Toy Biz’s Johhny Blaze version of Ghost Rider.  It was heralded as a great sculpt at the time, but it’s sort of specifically tailored to Blaze, since it’s skeletally skinny.  It’s not that Cannonball hasn’t frequently been depicted as rail thin (because he was for most of his early career), but this seems a bit extreme even for him.  It probably doesn’t help that when he was with the X-Force he was usually depicted as only being a little smaller than Cable.  The point is, this figure makes Sam look more than a little emaciated.  For what it’s worth, the costume details do match up surprisingly well with his X-Force togs, and there’s a lot of really fun detail sculpted into this figure.  I can get why they wanted to re-use the parts, it’s just a bit questionable, that’s all.  As far as new pieces go, Sam got a new head, which captures his slender mug pretty well, as well as a weird dicky sort of piece that slips over GR’s exposed neck and shoulders.  They do their job well enough, and also fit pretty well with the body (though the neck is a bit jarringly smooth).  One last thing about the sculpt: Sam is a testament to why you should avoid soft rubber on action figures.  There’s rubber for the upper torso, and while mine has held up okay (only two very small tears), I’ve seen others that weren’t so fortunate. The paintwork on Cannonball is decent enough.  It takes his color scheme from the comics and translates it into something a bit more consumable by the human eye.  The application is mostly pretty clean but there’s some slop here and there, especially on the white piping of the jumpsuit.  Cannonball included no accessories.

DOMINO

cannonballdomino2Domino’s not a character I really have that much affinity for, so I don’t know a whole lot about her.  She’s got luck-based powers, but it was the ‘90s so that translated to “carries a gun.”  Everything seemed to translate to “carries a gun” in the ‘90s.  Domino’s had her fair share of looks over the years (mostly because no one can make up their minds about how to draw her), and this figure seems to be based on her look from the early ‘00s.  She stands about 6 1/4 inches tall and has 33 points of articulation.  Despite all that articulation, she still can’t sit, thanks to being built on a body from Toy Biz’s period of useless hip joints.  Bleh.  She uses the body of the X-Treme Rogue from TB’s 2006 X-Men line.  It’s actually a pretty good match for the art I’ve been able to find of Domino in this costume.  The proportions are still quite on the wonky side, and don’t get me started on whatever the heck’s going on with the torso (she moves at the boobs and the abdomen?  That’s odd), but Toy Biz certainly produced worse, and Hasbro put out worse the same year as this figure’s release.  So, this isn’t awful.  The head and hands were unique to this figure.  The head is a pretty decent, no-nonsense head, and looks like the later interpretations of Domino.  The hands are sculpted to hold her guns, which is a nice thing to see on a character whose whole thing is having guns.  Domino also got a new add-on piece for her belt, which is fixed with a holster for each leg.  The holsters would probably limit hip movement, but the actual hip joints beat them to it, so not a huge loss, I guess.  Domino’s paintwork is alright.  There’s some really strong work on the head, but the jumpsuit exhibits a lot of slop, in very obvious places.  Domino was packed with a pair of pistols (I seem to have misplaced one of mine…)

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When these figures were released, my dad was after the Marvel Girl from the other set.  When he finally found them, our local Walmart was already clearancing them, so he went ahead and grabbed this set as well, on the off chance that I might want it.  As luck would have it, I was still into collecting action figures that particular day, so I did want this set!  Who would have guessed?  Despite not knowing a whole lot about him, I’ve always had a soft spot for Cannonball, and this figure was no exception.  I can point to all the figure’s flaws, but I still really like him.  Domino?  She’s just sort of there.  She’s not a bad figure, but I just feel nothing about her, so she just came along for the ride.  Of course, now that I actually have a Cable, she’s not quite as out of place, so that’s good!

cannonballdomino4