#1191: Ripley & Newt

RIPLEY & NEWT

ALIENS (NECA)

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Here we are at the finish line for the 2016 post-Christmas reviews.  I’m ending things the way I finished them: Aliens!  It’s hardly the Christmas season without a good helping of Aliens merch!

NECA’s a company generally known for doing the “impossible” when it comes to action figure licenses.  When they started off their Aliens line, Hicks, Hudson, and Bishop were the only guaranteed likenesses, and Ripley was most definitely not on the table.  That is, until she was.  But NECA swore up and down there was no way we were getting a Newt figure.  Not only was the likeness not available, but her unique sculpt would make her less than realistic for the line.  No way she was happening.  Until she did.  Yep, during last year’s big Alien Day celebration NECA and actress Carrie Henn unveiled the Newt figure.  She was set for a SDCC release, which made some collectors a bit worried, but NECA assured fans that everyone who wanted a Newt would get one.  They finally made good on that promise, albeit in a slightly roundabout way.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Ripley and Newt were released as part of the “Rescuing Newt” two-pack, which is sort of the last major hurrah of the Aliens anniversary product.  It was originally supposed to hit in November, but was pushed back until right before Christmas.

RIPLEY

ripleynewtneca2While clearly not the main focus of this set, NECA used this as an opportunity to get the Aliens Ripley out there one more time, for fans who missed her Series 5 release.  However, for those of us that have been faithfully following the line, they made her different enough to not feel like a total repeat.  The first figure depicts Ripley towards the beginning of her journey into the hive, and this one depicts her closer to the end.  I’ve looked at about 90% of this figure twice before; she shares everything below the neck with both the Series 5 Ripley and the TRU-exclusive Kenner Ripley.  I loved the sculpt the first time, and I loved it the second time, and I still love it the third time.  NECA really nailed the details for this look, and I can hardly blame them for wanting to get as much milage out of these pieces as possible.  But enough about the old, what about the new?  Well, Ripley gets a unique head sculpt, which reflects her more dilapidated appearance late in the film.  The hair’s a lot more pressed to her head, the eyes more tired, and the mouth ever so slightly open, showing she’s catching her breath after kicking all that Xeno butt.  I gotta say, I was a little underwhelmed by the sculpt when I saw it in the package, but after taking it out and looking at it from a few different angles, I’e warmed up to it.  The Series 5 version is still my preferred look, and has the better overall Weaver likeness, but this one’s a solid runner up, and, if nothing else, fixes the minor issue of the neck looking a bit underscaled on the last two uses of this body.   As similar as the two may look, the paint work on this figure is also a bit of a change from her Series 5 counterpart.  ripleynewtneca4The basics are all pretty much the same, but the stains on her clothes have definitely intensified from the last figure.  In particular, I think the sweat stains on the shirt look a bit more realistic this time around, which now that I’ve typed it out seems like a very strange compliment to pay something, but there it is.  My one complaint about the figure is something I feel certain is confined to my figure: they pupils are off center from each other, which makes her look a bit cockeyed from certain angles.  It’s not the worst thing ever but you can see it a bit in the shots here.  This Ripley includes the same flamethrower/pulse rifle combo from the first figure, but this time she also includes a nifty flame effect attachment, which is a nice touch that could have very easily been overlooked (it’s also compatible with Frost and Windrix’s flamethrowers as well, which makes it extra fun).

NEWT

ripleynewtneca3Let’s be honest, nobody was really buying this set for the Ripley figure (okay, that’s probably not true….)  The real star here is Rebecca “Newt” Jorden.  The set’s named after her and everything. This figure is a pretty straight re-release of the SDCC version (which is exactly what we were all expecting and what most people wanted).  Of course, I never got the SDCC version, so she’s all-new to me.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and has 26 points of articulation.  Her sculpt is a pretty solid one.  The face sports a strong Carrie Henn likeness, and the hair’s pretty not-terrible, which is quite a compliment when it comes to long, sculpted hair.  The body feels a touch too lanky to me, but it’s not like it’s really far off, just ever so slightly.  The incredible level of detail seen on the clothes more than makes up for it.  Everything’s got texture on this figure, and it really looks like she’s the character from the movie.  The only slight inaccuracy I noticed is that the tear on the right shoulder of her shirt isn’t quite as large as it is in the movie, and let’s be honest, that’s reaching pretty far.  One area where things could maybe be just a little bit better is Newt’s paint.  It’s far from bad, but there are a few sloppy spots, especially on the transitions from skin to clothing on the knees and wrists.  Her shoes are also not really symmetrical, with a lot of the paint on ripleynewtneca6her left foot missing sculpted lines almost completely.  Of course, each foot is about half an inch in size, so it’s not like it’s the end of the world.  Apart from those issues, the work is generally pretty good, and she’s at the very least on par with Series 1-3 of the line, so she’s not going to stick out or anything.  The SDCC version of Newt included her doll Cassie’s head, Hick’s helmet (which she’s seen wearing in one scene), a flashlight (just like the one included with Bishop), and her citizenship award that the Marines get her name from.  For this figure, everything but Cassie was cut.  While the other extras were certainly cool, Cassie’s really the only essential accessory for Newt, and this way, those that spent extra money on the SDCC version still get a few unique items.  I mean, it’s gonna eat at me from now until the end of time that I’m missing those three pieces, but such is my life.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I had originally hoped to be able to get the SDCC version of Newt after the con, as NECA usually finds a few ways of distributing their exclusives, but for a number of reasons, they were unable to do that this year.  This was sort of freaky, because there was something of a delay between the SDCC figure hitting and NECA confirming exactly how they were planning on getting more Newt figures out there, and I almost caved and bought a marked up Newt more than once.  Fortunately, they finally announced this two-pack, and I was able to breathe a sigh of relief.  This set ended up being a Christmas present from my parents.  It didn’t actually arrive in time for Christmas morning, but it made it just a few days later, which gave me one last little burst of present opening.  Yay!  This is a pretty great way of not only getting Newt to retail, but also offering up another chance for people to get Ripley.  Both figures are strong additions to the line, and I’m beyond thrilled to add Newt to my collection (and, as an added bonus, now I’ve got an extra Ripley to pilot the Power Loader!)

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#1190: Daredevil & Punisher

DAREDEVIL & PUNISHER

MARVEL MINIMATES

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Today marks the penultimate post-Christmas review for 2016.  This review is more or less a continuation of yesterday’s.  I’ll be looking at the remaining Marvel Minimates based on Netflix’s Daredevil series.  Yesterday’s set was heavy on the civilian looks, but this set turns things around, giving us Daredevil’s official, more superhero-y costume, as well as his fellow Hell’s Kitchen vigilante, Frank Castle, aka the Punisher!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

DD and Punisher were released as an exclusive two-pack at SDCC 2016.  They served as a way of hyping up the rest of the Netflix-based sets, as well as tying into the recently released second season of Daredevil.  The set was supposed to get a wider release following the, but some issues with misplaced product in one of Diamond’s warehouses meant that a good chunk of the sets didn’t arrive until almost the end of 2016.

DAREDEVIL

ddpunisher2After spending 13 episodes in Season 1 sporting the all-black number seen yesterday, the final battle of the season finally gave DD his more familiar red getup.  This figure isn’t *quite* that version, but is instead based on his look from the back 3/4 of Season 2, after a stray bullet from the Punisher cracks his original helmet and he has to get a replacement.  The differences are negligible, really, but it’s still important to note.  The figure uses the standard ‘mate body, and as such stands about 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  He’s got add-ons for his mask and thigh holster.  The holster is the same piece seen on yesterday’s Season 1 DD (though flipped to the other leg, as it was in the show), but the mask is all-new to this particular figure.  It’s a decent enough translation of his second mask, though the forehead section seems a little too tall.  It’s a minor enough issue not to really bug me.  His paintwork is far more complex than any of yesterday’s ‘mates, and does a pretty solid job of capturing the suit seen in the show.  The colors are a good match, and all of the line work is nice and sharp.  Under the mask, there’s another Matt Murdock face, this time a bit more intense than either of the two in yesterday’s set.  It’s perfectly fine (the stubble in particular is very impressive), but something about this particular expression messes with the likeness a bit; I’m not seeing much of Charlie Cox in there.  DD is packed with his billy club (the same pieces as the eskrima sticks, but in red this time), an extra hairpiece for an unmasked look, and a clear display stand.

PUNISHER

ddpunisher3Frank Castle serves as the antagonist for the first several episodes of Daredevil’s second season, before becoming something of a dueling protagonist as the season progresses.  Season 2 was admittedly a slight step down from the show’s first season, but Jon Bernthal’s turn as the Punisher was easily the high point of the season, and this is coming from a guy who’s never really liked the Punisher.  His presence as the second half of this pack is far from surprising.  Frank spends most of the season in rather normal clothes, but does finally dawn a pretty straight forward Punisher costume during the second season finale.  It’s only on-screen for a few minutes, but it’s a pretty distinctive look.  Punisher uses add-ons for his hair and  coat.  The hair is a new piece, specifically designed to replicate his close-cropped style.  It does alright in that respect, though I feel like something more along the lines of the Red Hulk hairpiece might have done the job a bit better.  The coat is the long coat piece first introduced way back in 2007 on the very first Doc Brown, and it’s a nice, basic piece, which does its job pretty well.  Punisher’s paintwork is more on par with the Season 1 set than DD, being mostly a lot of black.  That being said, there’s a lot of really great detail work on the front of the torso and the belt.  He also has a pretty good likeness of Jon Bernthal, and the detailing on his hair even continues under the hair piece, allowing for him to be displayed with his closer cropped ‘do from earlier in the season (even if he’s not wearing the right jacket and shirt).  In terms of accessories, Frank is packed with a spare set of arms with rolled up sleeves, a machine gun, two handguns, and a clear display stand.  I wouldn’t have minded getting the larger rifle he uses during the final battle with the hand, or even the mini gun he was seen carrying at the very end of the finale, but I guess this assortment works alright too.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Since I didn’t attend SDCC, I couldn’t pick up this set in person.  I also missed out on the initial supplies that hit online, so I ended up having to play the waiting game.  Ultimately, they were a Christmas present from my parents (who have been supplying me with pretty much all of my Minimates as of late).  This is a great counterpart to yesterday’s set, and gives me another two of my favorite characters from one of my favorite shows!

#1189: Daredevil Season 1

MATT MURDOCK, FOGGY NELSON, WILSON FISK, & CLAIRE TEMPLE

MARVEL MINIMATES

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For day 22 of my post-Christmas reviews, I’m heading back over to the world of Marvel Minimates.  Said Minimates are my first venture into the merchandising for Marvel’s widely successful Netflix shows.  The first (and in my opinion, the best) of those shows is based on Marvel’s resident Man Without Fear, Daredevil.  His show’s success took a lot of people by surprise, especially merchandisers, including DST, who had no plans for any Minimates from the show until well after it started streaming.  Fortunately, they picked up the license for the Netflix stuff last year, and have gotten to work offering some boxed sets, each based on one season of one of the shows.  Up first were Daredevil and Jessica Jones, the former of which I’ll be looking at today.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Matt, Foggy, Fisk, and Claire are all based on their Season 1 appearances on Daredevil. The set was released in November of last year.

MATT MURDOCK

ddseasonone3Up first, the show’s titular character.  Of course, the box only refers to him by his real identity of Matt Murdock.  It’s fitting, since this is his Season 1 prototype costume, and he hadn’t yet fully embraced the name until a ways into the season.  The costume is a departure from the usual red togs from the comics (or even his red and yellow first appearance costume, of which I am a huge fan), but it’s not without its roots in DD history, being inspired by both his prototype costume from Frank Miller’s Man Without Fear and his costume from his first live-action appearance in “The Trial of the Incredible Hulk” back in the ‘80s.  Matt is built on the usual Minimate body, with add-ons for his mask, belt, and leg holster.  All three add-on pieces are reused, with the mask coming from Iron Fist, the belt being a standard piece, and the holster being introduced with the Series 43 Daredevil.  All of the parts are good fits for his ddseasonone2on-screen design, and the costume translates to Minimate form exceptionally well.  While the paintwork is mostly just flat back, he does have a fully detailed torso, with subtle highlighting to show off his musculature, as well as the tiny bit of red piping on the shoulders.  Under the mask, there’s also a fully detailed Matt Murdock face, with a pretty solid likeness of Charlie Cox.  For his base look, DD includes his wooden eskrima sticks, given to him by…Stick, as well as the usual clear display stand.  He also includes a spare head, hair, torso, tie, suit jacket, hands, and walking stick, allowing you to turn him into a civilian version of Matt.  Supply your own arms and legs, and you’ve got yourself a whole second figure!

FOGGY NELSON

ddseasonone5Matt’s nothing without his law partner Franklin P. Nelson, better known as Foggy.  Foggy’s a pretty major part of Season 1 and the DD mythos as a whole, so his presence here isn’t a huge surprise. The ‘mate’s really just another guy in a suit, but that’s true to the character, so you can hardly blame DST there.  Foggy uses the same basic pieces as Matt’s alt look, as well as the hair from Series 39’s Thor, which is actually a better fit for Foggy than it was for Thor, if I’m honest.  The pieces add up to a decent enough Foggy, so that’s good.  Foggy’s paintwork is once again pretty basic, but the colors are rather unique, and everything is pretty cleanly done.  He’s packed with a briefcase and a tan messenger bag, as well as a clear display stand.  It might have been nice to get some extra shirt sleeves for him, since the pink is rather unique, but it’s not like he comes with nothing.

WILSON FISK

ddseasonone4Season 1 is as much an origin story for Wilson Fisk (better known in the comics as the Kingpin) as it is for Daredevil.  He’s the main antagonist for the whole season, and it would be silly to leave him out.  That being said…he’s really just another guy in a suit.  An important guy in a suit, but still.  He uses two add-ons: his coat/shirt and a waist riser piece to make him a bit taller.  He’s still lacks some of his show counterpart’s intimidation factor, but there’s only so much you can do, right?  The coat is re-used from 24’s Tony Almeida, and its a good fit for the types of suits he wore on the show.  Paint’s once again a lot of black, but he has a slight splash of dark blue for the shirt, as well as a pretty decent likeness of Vincent D’Onofrio as Fisk.  Fisk includes a clear display stand, and that’s it.

CLAIRE TEMPLE

ddseasonone6Effectively the Coulson of the Netflix shows (being the connective tissue that holds them all together), Claire Temple started out in the comics as a Luke Cage supporting character, which made her turning up in the first season of DD a slight surprise.  Her being in this set of Minimates is also a *slight* surprise, since there are a number of characters more prominent than her in the first season (Karen was held back for the Season 2 set, which is fine, but Ben’s another pivotal character still missing.  Of course, he would have been another guy in a suit, so…).  Of course, releasing her here frees up some space in the other sets, so I guess that’s good.  She’s seen here in her “Night Nurse” garb that she’s wearing when she and Matt interrogate a thug on the rooftop.  It’s probably the most visually interesting of her looks, so it’s a good choice.  In her basic layout, she has Lady Sif’s hair, which is a reasonably close match to Rosario Dawson’s hair in the show, and Amy’s hoody.  Her paintwork is a bit more exciting than the others, with like five whole colors.  The application’s all pretty clean, which is always good.  The likeness on the face is a passable Dawson likeness.  It’s maybe sits a tad too high on the headblock, but that’s my only real complaint.  She includes a knife and a clear display stand, as well as a pulled up hood, and an extra head and hands, so as to complete her disguised look from when she was interrogating the guy.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This set was another Christmas present from my parents.  It’s a set I’ve been patiently waiting for, since I really loved DD Season 1.  I know I ragged on this set a bit for being guys in suits, but that’s more because guys in suits aren’t the most exciting things to review.  The actual figures are really a lot of fun, and this set is really worth it just for DD alone.  That guy’s definitely one of my new favorite ‘mates!

#1188: Lando Calrissian

LANDO CALRISSIAN

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES

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For Day 22 of my post-Christmas reviews, I’ll be taking a look at the last of the Star Wars-themed figures I got this year, before once again returning to the world of Marvel (spoilers for tomorrow’s review?)  Today, I’ll be looking at everyone’s favorite suave scoundrel.  No, it’s not Han Solo, why do you ask?  Okay, so it’s everyone’s *second* favorite suave scoundrel, Lando Calrissian!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

landogen2Lando was released as part of Series 5 of Walmart’s exclusive smaller-scale Star Wars: The Black Series line, the same assortment that brought us Wednesday’s Admiral Ackbar figure (along with Ahsoka Tano and a Royal Guard).  Like Ackbar, Lando is a re-release of an earlier Vintage Collection figure.  Also like Ackbar, I don’t have the earlier figure, so this one is new for me.  The figure stands just shy of 4 inches tall and has 24 points of articulation.  The Vintage Collection was where Hasbro finally started adding in some additional hip movement for some of the figures.  Lando was from later in the line, when they started adding it to non-Jedi/Trooper characters.  At this point the movement was still rather primitive when compared to lots of other small-scale lines like this, but progress is progress.  The sculpt is generally pretty decent.  He’s based on Lando’s General look from Return of the Jedi, which isn’t my go-to Lando look, but it’s a decent enough choice.  The uniform is pretty solid and matches up with the onscreen costume.  The holster is a separate, removable piece, which is actually pretty convenient, since it had a tendency to switch shoulder from shot to shot.  The head sports a passable Billy Dee Williams likeness.  It’s hardly perfect, but it’s about as close as any other likeness this line’s ever given us.  The cape is cloth, and that’s probably the one major detractor about this figure.  It’s not awful; the actual cape bit is decent enough, but the clasp, which is rather thin in the film, is replaced here by a rather thick spandex band.  It’s totally inaccurate and ends up covering a good portion of the rather nicely sculpted collar.  Lando sports some pretty decent paintwork.  Nothing particularly spectacular, or super exciting, but the application is quite clean, continuing the upward trend from Hasbro as of late.  Lando includes a small blaster pistol, which can be placed in the holster.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Just like Admiral Ackbar, Lando was a Christmas present from my Super Awesome Girlfriend, though there’s no special reason behind me getting this guy (aside from an offhand confirmation of “yeah, I like Lando”).  While this isn’t my first choice of costume, this is otherwise a pretty solid figure, and I’m glad to add him to my collection!

#1187: Mandroid & Blizzard

MANDROID & BLIZZARD — DONNIE GILL

MARVEL MINIMATES

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Today, I’m making my way into the final five of the 2016 post-Christmas reviews, and wrapping up the last of my Marvel Minimates Series 69 reviews in one fell swoop.  I’ll be taking a look at the series’ resident army builder (boy has it been a little while since we’ve gotten one of these guys, especially a comic-based one) the Mandroid, as well as Iron Man baddie Blizzard!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

There are two Mandroid/Blizzard sets in Series 69.  The one seen here has the more heavily packed Donnie Gill version of Blizzard, but there’s also a variant set featuring Donnie’s predecessor Gregor Shapanka, which is packed one-per-case.

MANDROID

mandroidblizzard2The Mandroid is a ‘mate that’s been a long time coming.  It was first shown off as one of the potential choices during the big Series 50 fan-poll back in 2012, but was beaten by the Nova Corpsman.  We’ve actually seen a good chunk of the losing characters from that poll in the last five years, but the Mandroid is the first of the losing army builders to make it plastic form (I’m still pulling for classic Multiple Man), so good for it!  The figure stands about 3 inches tall when fully armored up, and sports 11 of the 14 usual points of articulation.  The Mandroid depicted here is more or less the classic version of the armor.  It’s a little bit more kibble-y than usual, but the armor tended to vary from appearance to appearance, so this sort of aims to capture the essential elements.  Amazingly enough, the Mandroid has been constructed entirely out of re-used pieces.  He’s got the helmet/chest of Nemesis, the hands of Iron Monger, and the upper arms, upper legs and feet of the Age of Ultron Hulkbuster.  Despite the pieces being from a span of  nine years, the actually mesh together pretty well and make for a pretty solid take on the Mandroid armor.  In terms of paint, the Mandroid is a whole lot of gold.  It’s a nicer gold than some of the earlier ‘mates to use the color, and hopefully this one won’t wear off like some of those.  Also, there’s actually more than one gold present here, which keeps things from getting too boring.  Remove the armor, and there’s a fully detailed figure underneath, showcasing the SHIELD Agent piloting the suit. But it’s not just any SHIELD Agent!  DST Rep Zach Oat confirmed at NYCC that this is none other than Agent Phil Coulson, making his third appearance as a ‘mate.  We had yet to receive a comic version of Phil, so it’s cool that they threw him in there.  The Mandroid is packed with an extra gun hand (taken from Alpha Flight’s Box), plus and extra hair piece, flesh colored hands, and grey feet to turn him into Coulson.  He also gets the usual clear display stand, but the coolest extra by far (for me, anyway) is the coffee mug with the SHIELD logo on it.  This was first shown on Jasper Sitwell’s control art, but ultimately cut.  It’s great to see DST finally got it out!

BLIZZARD

mandroidblizzard3You know how I said it’s been a while since we’d gotten a proper comic army builder?  Well, it’s been way longer since we got any Iron Man foes.  The last comic Iron Man villains we got were back in Series 36, almost 7 years ago.  Fortunately, Blizzard’s one of his cooler looking (heh) foes, and makes up for some of the lost time.  Here’s hoping more foes will follow!  Blizzard is a classic vanilla ‘mate, which makes sense, since his costume’s never really been anything but a basic spandex suit.  As such, this figure is really carried by the paint.  Fortunately, the paintwork is pretty solid.  The white and blue contrast nicely with each other, and the detail lines are all pretty sharply defined.  Sometimes, there’s a bit of bleed through under light colored paints, but not on Blizzard, showing that they actually took the time to apply the proper number of coats!  Yay for learning!  Blizzard includes a number of ice effect pieces, including an ice blast and ice sled (both borrowed from Series 59’s Iceman), as well as an ice fist (one of the Thing’s fists, remolded in clear plastic; it works surprisingly well).  The ice fist I got is a right hand, but DST actually produced both right and left and packed in one at random, so if you get two Blizzards and are particularly lucky, you can give him some ice-y boxing gloves!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like the last two days of sets, this pair was a Christmas present from my parents.  I didn’t think much of this set when the series was initially announced (I was a bit distracted by the other sets), but I’ve always kinda liked Blizzard, and the Mandroid is an essential piece of any SHIELD display.  Both of these ‘mates could have been rather dull, but the execution makes them both really fun to play with, and the accessories really give them both that extra punch.

#1186: Falcon & Tigra

FALCON & TIGRA

MARVEL MINIMATES

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Following yesterday’s lead, today I’ll be looking at another set of figures from the latest comic-based series of Marvel Minimates, which is heavy on the classic Avengers theme this time around.  Today’s set gives us another take on one of my favorite parts of the Captain America mythos, Falcon, as well as recurring Avenger and all-around under-appreciated character Tigra.  Yes, that’s right, they packed the bird person and the cat person together.  Clever DST.  Clever.  Onto the figures!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Falcon and Tigra are both part of Series 69 of Marvel Minimates, officially dubbed the “Most Wanted” series.  These two are something of an odd pairing for their main universe counterparts (aside from the cat and canary gags), but it’s worth nothing that the two were sort of an item in the 1999 Avengers: United They Stand cartoon, for what that’s worth.  It’s worth a lot to me, but probably not much to others, since I think I’m like one of two people in existence who even remembers that show.

FALCON

falcontigra2Man, remember when it was a really big deal when Falcon finally got his first ‘mate in Series 54?  In less than three years, he’s gone from no Minimates to a whopping 6 of them!  Not bad!  So far, most of Falcon’s ‘mates have skewed more modern, but this one goes back to his early days.  Well, not his earliest days, with all the green and yellow and the total lack of wings.  No, this would be Falcon’s second costume, which is the one that set the tone for all costumes to follow.  Falcon stands about 2 1/4 inches tall and he has the usual 14 points of articulation.  Structurally, he’s the same as his Series 54 counterpart.  Same hair, same wings.  He’s the same person, so that makes sense.  Plus, the parts were a good fit the first time, so if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?  The main difference here is the paintwork, which I have to say, is really well handled.  All of the important details of his classic costume have been translated very nicely into the Minimate form, and the details are all nice and sharp.  They’ve managed to choose the least tacky red/white combo available, which is certainly a good thing, and I really like the nice, friendly smile on his face.  Falcon’s always been characterized as a pretty easy-going guy, so I’m happy we got a more jovial expression for him (and in general, really.  Minimates can sometimes get a little on the stern side).  There are a few spots that could probably stand to be a little cleaner (the hands in particular are rather uneven), but the paint is by and large very good, and better than most of Falcon’s previous ‘mates.  Falcon is packed with his sidekick Redwing, a flight stand, and a clear display stand.

TIGRA

falcontigra4Falcon may be raking in all the Minimates these days, but Tigra here makes her Minimate debut with this figure.  Poor Tigra doesn’t seem to get much respect these days.  It’s a shame, because she’s an awesome character when written the right way, but almost none of the current crop of writers seem to be able to do that, so she’s either reduced to simple sex appeal or just shoved off to the side and totally ignored.  Perhaps she’ll make her way into the movies and get some respect there.  In the meantime, she’s got this pretty sick Minimate!  She makes use of Dazzler’s hair and Cheetah’s claws and tail (they went waaaaaay back for those parts!).  It makes for a pretty good match for Tigra’s usual depictions, showing that some times, re-use really is the best way to go.  The paintwork on Tigra is downright amazing if you ask me.  She’s one of those rare ‘mates that’s completely painted, which always looks better if you ask me.  The orange really makes her pop and the sharpness of the linework, especially on her stripes is just great.  Her facial expression is a much more intense one than Falcon’s, but it’s well-rendered and works quite well for the character.  Tigra’s only accessory is a clear display stand, but I can’t really think of any accessories she’s incomplete without, so it’s enough to make me happy.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like yesterday’s Black Knight and Enchantress, these two were a Christmas gift from my parents.  Black Knight may be my favorite figure from this series, but boy do these two give him a solid run for his money (if this were the first Falcon ‘mate, he’d have definitely come out on top).  Tigra is a fantastic new addition to the Avengers line-up, and Falcon is a more than welcome replacement for the Series 54 version.  Another winning set to be sure.

#1185 Black Knight & Enchantress

BLACK KNIGHT & ENCHANTRESS

MARVEL MINIMATES

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It’s Day 18 of the post-Christmas reviews, and we are officially in the home stretch.  Just one more week of these things left.  You know, until I…get back to reviewing action figures after three and a half weeks of…reviewing action figures.

For today’s review, I’m getting back to one of my all-time favorite toy lines, Marvel Minimates.  Now, I must admit, I’ve been a little down on the line the last few years.  Not that the figures have been bad by any stretch (because they haven’t) but more because almost all of the focus was either totally current, event-driven stuff (like AvX, Axis, Infinity, and of course all of the movies) or heavy on the ‘90s X-Men side of things.  Series 68 was definitely a breath of fresh air, offering up a really great assortment of classic X-Men, but I was really longing for some good comic Avengers.  The last comic-based Avengers series was way back in early 2012, and even that only offered two new characters (and one of them possessing a marginal connection to the Avengers at best).  68 was great, but I wanted an Avengers series that rivaled that.  Well, as it just so happens, DST was way ahead of me.  Let’s begin with the Series 69 reviews!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Black Knight and Enchantress are, as noted, part of Series 69 of Marvel Minimates, officially dubbed the “Most Wanted” series, which I certainly think is appropriate.

BLACK KNIGHT

blackknightenchantress3First up, it’s Black Knight, specifically Dane Whitman, the heroic incarnation of the character.  For me, this guy is hands down the star attraction of this series.  Something about Black Knight’s always appealed to me, and up until recently, he hasn’t really been done justice in action figure form (Hasbro’s Marvel Universe version being the one exception).  He’s based on his classic costume, which makes me very happy.  No offense to his other designs, but they always felt like rather pale imitations of his original look.  The figure stands a little under 2 1/2 inches tall and has 12 points of articulation.  He’s built on the standard ‘mate body, with add-ons for his helmet, cape, glove cuffs, and boots.  The gloves and boots are re-used pieces; they’re just basic flared gloves and boots, which work well for the character.  His helmet and cape are both new.  The helmet is spot-on to his comics helmet, and sits very nicely on the head.  The cape is okay, but could be better; it seems to lack some of the dramatic flare usually seen on Dane’s cape, and it looks like something was lost during the transition from control art to final product.  Rarely do I point out something that’s missing on a Minimate, but I was slightly disappointed that Dane just had a painted on belt, with no scabbard for his ebony blade.  It’s a fairly consistent feature of his design, so it’s a slightly odd omission.  That being said, it’s likely a cost thing, and if something was going to be cut, that was the easiest thing.  Black Knight’s paintwork is pretty standard fare for a ‘mate; the colors are all nice and bold, and most of the application good and clean.  I really like the subtle work on the scale mail.  I also quite like the face; it’s intense expression is a good match for Dane’s look on the cover of his first appearance, and it’s always great to get some variety in expressions.  Black Knight is packed with his Ebony Blade (which is the same sword included with the animated Taskmaster ‘mate from a little while back.  It’s a good enough fit for the character), a spare hairpiece for his un-helmeted look, and a clear display stand. 

ENCHANTRESS

blackknightenchantress2It hasn’t been all that long since my last Enchantress review.  It seems 2016 was a good year for her.  Maybe Marvel’s trying to stick it to DC for pushing to get their version of Enchantress to the big screen first?  Regardless of rationale, Amora’s a pretty prominent member of the Thor’s supporting cast, as well as a founding member of the Masters of Evil, and an all-around pretty cool character.  It’s about time she was given her due!  Like Black Knight, she uses the standard ‘mate body, this time with add-ons for the hair and skirt.  The skirt looks to be a standard piece, but the hair is new.  It’s a decent enough sculpt, though it does feel a tad lifeless when compared to some of the other hairpieces in this set.  Still, it looks like Enchantress and that’s really the point.  Enchantress’s paintwork is actually quite impressive.  All the details are very sharp, and there’s a lot of really cool small detail work, especially on the arms and legs.  The face does a really nice job of capturing that alluring, yet still devious look that she’s prone to sport in the comics, and really sells just who this ‘mate’s supposed to be.  Enchantress includes two green effects pieces and a clear display stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Black Knight and Enchantress were a Christmas gift from my always supportive parents.  As I noted above, this is a series I was really looking forward to, and this set in particular was my most anticipated.  Black Knight’s been pretty high on my Minimates wishlist for a good long while, and I’m beyond psyched to finally have him.  He certainly didn’t disappoint.  Enchantress is no slouch either.  While she may not have quite the same coolness factor as Dane, she’s an essential character, and DST did a great job translating her into ‘mate form!

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#1184: Admiral Ackbar

ADMIRAL ACKBAR

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES

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For the 18th day of my post-Christmas reviews, I’m ducking into the galaxy far, far away for a quick stop.  This time around, I’m heading back to the original trilogy and looking at the best trap-detecting commanding officer in the whole Rebellion, Admiral James Tiberius Ackbar.  No, he’s not really James Tiberius Ackbar, but that felt appropriately Admiralitorial.  Onto the figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

ackbar2Admiral Ackbar is part of Walmart’s current exclusive Star Wars: The Black Series.  His assortment (which also included Lando Calrissian, Ahsoka Tano, and a Royal Guard) hit around Rogue Friday.  Ackbar is a re-release of the previous The Vintage Collection Ackbar.  I don’t have that figure, so this one’s new to me.  Yay!  The figure stands about 4 inches tall and he has 18 points of articulation.  He’s based on Ackbar’s Return of the Jedi look which, at the time of the original figure’s release, was the only Ackbar design (since then, he’s appeared in both Clone Wars and The Force Awakens). It’s a very good recreation of his on-screen design.  In fact, it’s probably one of Hasbro’s best Star Wars sculpts, even seven years after its initial release.  The best part is definitely the head sculpt, which perfectly captures Ackbar’s distinctive head prosthetics.  The paintwork on Ackbar is solidly handled.  Like yesterday’s Spider-UK, Ackbar showcases a definite step-up in the overall paint application from Hasbro.  There are some slight differences on this guy’s paint compared to his TVC figure  The black details on his head and hands are a bit less subtle, which is a slight detractor, but the rest of the paint is a lot bolder and crisper, which makes him just look a lot better put together.  Ackbar is packed with a baton and the control panel from his ship (which is rather on the random side, but better than nothing, I suppose).

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Ackbar was a Christmas gift given to me by my Super Awesome Girlfriend.  We’ve been playing through Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Jess particularly loved Ackbar’s extra sassy personality in the game, dubbing him “Sassbar.”  When she found out there was a new Sassbar figure out, she told me I had to get it.  True to form, she went the extra mile and actually got him for me.  I’ve always had a soft spot for the good admiral, and I gotta say, this is easily one of the best Star Wars figures Hasbro’s ever put out there.  He certainly warranted the re-release, and I’m happy it allowed me to get him!

#1183: Spider-UK

SPIDER-UK — MULTIVERSE SPIDER-MEN

MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES

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So, it’s been like twelve days since my last Marvel-related review. That feels like a really long time to me.  Well, fear not dear readers, I just so happen to have the perfect figure to quench that Marvel thirst…or something.  That sounds weird.  I withdraw that comment.  Anyway, umm…here’s a Spider-Man?  Yeah, let’s go with that!  It’s not just any Spider-Man, of course.  No, no, this is Billy Braddock, better known as Spider-UK!  He has the distinction of being both the Spider-Man *and* the Captain Britain of his universe, which is pretty cool I guess.  He’s also another addition to the ever-growing Spider-Verse roster, and that’s always a plus in my book.  Let’s see how he turned out!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Spider-UK is figure 3 in the Sandman Series of Marvel Legends.  His package name is “Multiverse Spider-Men,” a name he shares with the latest version of Spider-Man 2099.  He’s one of three Spider-Men in this particular assortment, and by far the most obscure of the three, though I feel certain they could go more obscure if they wanted to.  The figure stands about 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  Spider-UK is debuting a new base body.  Sizing wise, it falls between the Bucky Cap and Reaper bodies.  It’s probably a little closer to the Bucky body, which is why some people are thinking this body might be Hasbro’s way of slowly working out the Bucky Cap, or at least lightening its load.  I gotta say, I really like this new base.  The posability is pretty great,  the proportions are very well balanced, and I really dig the small folds here and there to really sell it as someone wearing an actual cloth costume, rather than one that’s just painted on.  This is definitely a base I can see getting a lot of mileage.  The head sculpt is also new, though it looks to share some common ancestry with the Pizza Spidey head.  It’s wider, of course, allowing it to better fit the body (and the character, who was always pretty lantern-jawed).  The majority of his costume details are painted, which is fine by me, since I prefer painted webzines.  The application is all really solid.  The lines are nice and sharp and the color palette is certainly pleasing to the eye.  He definitely follows the upward trend of paint on Legends as of late.  While Spider-UK includes no accessories for himself personally, he does come packed with the left arm of Sandman, which really has made me want to finish this guy.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Spider-UK came from, who else, Super Awesome Girlfriend.  We were out at the Walmart near her parents the week before Christmas, and I happened upon this guy, the only figure from the series. I still haven’t seen any of the Space Venom Series, so the fact that this series was already hitting has certainly caught me by surprise.  Funds were tight so I passed.  However, Super Awesome Girlfriend, crafty as she is, asked me to go grab something else, and hid him in the cart.  Then she conveniently had me go look for yet another thing during check-out, all so as to make sure I didn’t see this guy.  She’s crafty like that.  I don’t have a strong opinion one way or another about Spider-UK as a character, but as a figure, he’s pretty awesome!

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#1182: B-9 Robot

B-9 ROBOT

VINIMATES (DST)

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Last Monday, I took a rare look into the world of Lost In Space.  That was cool.  Why not do it again?

Minimates are a frequent topic of reviews on this site, and today’s focus comes from what is effectively the big-brother line to Minimates, Vinimates.  Now, Vinimates is a relatively new thing.  The line was officially launched at SDCC in 2015, but didn’t really get any proper releases until early 2016, and it really started picking up steam towards the end of last year.  They share a lot of stylings with Minimates, but in terms of actual feel, scale, and general design, they’re a lot like Funko’s various Pop! lines.  I’ve yet to really break into Vinimates, so why not start things off with one of my favorite designs of all time, the B-9 Robot!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

lisrobotvini2The B-9 Robot was released as part of the Lost in Space sup-set of the larger Vinimates line.  He hit stores in mid-October, wedged in-between the Ghostbusters and Predator Vinimates.  The figure in today’s review is the standard version, but like the big electronic B-9, there’s also an Anti-Matter variation, which was available through select specialty retailers during Diamond’s Local Comic Book Store Day event.  The figure stands about 4 3/4 inches tall (about twice the size of your average Minimate) and has 1 point of articulation at the neck.  Most vinyl figures don’t sport more than that one point (including Pop!s), so it’s no surprise to see Vinimates follow the same pattern.  Of all the Vinimates currently available, the Robot is the one that least follows the Minimate aesthetic.  There’s no sign of the usual arm articulation (which is present on other figures in the line), and all of his details are sculpted on, rather than the usual painted line work we usually see on Minimates.  This isn’t too far removed from the Robot’s smaller predecessor, who made use of a pretty extensive selection of sculpted add-ons in order to properly convey the character’s unique design.  I’d say the closest connection this guy has to a Minimate is the slightly squarer shaping of his legs (and even then, it’s not that far removed from the Robot’s on-screen design).  Nevertheless, this figure has a pretty impressive sculpt, which does a great job of caricaturizing his show design into something slightly more goofy.  Even with his more cartoony nature, he’s still sporting quite a bit of detail work, which is quite impressive for this style of figure.  The paintwork on the Robot is pretty solid too.  It’s mostly basic color work, but it’s all appropriate to the design, and the application is nice and sharp.  As a larger figure, he’s able to make use of more clear plastic in in the appropriate sections than the mini version, which makes for a slightly more interesting look.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Robot was given to me for Christmas by my parents.  No goofy story for this one, I’m afraid, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still enjoy him.  I’d been looking for a good entry point into Vinimates, and this guy was definitely the one for me.  He’s certainly different from what I usually expect from DST, but a solid offering nonetheless.  Who knows, maybe Vinimates will be the next big thing?

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