#1906: Nick Fury

NICK FURY

MARVEL UNIVERSE 10-INCH (TOY BIZ)

“When a military robot from World War II is accidentally reactivated in the present, chaos sets in! Resuming its 50-year-old mission to destroy London, the robot begins smashing its way through the crowded city streets. Called in to stop the giant steel behemoth are Wolverine, Britain’s own Union Jack and Nick Fury agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.! With Fury using his advanced S.H.I.E.L.D. technology, Wolverine striking out with unbreakable adamantium claws and Union Jack relying on sheer cunning, the three heroes successfully neutralize the robot and leave it looking like scrap metal.”

For my fifth day of Post-Christmas reviews, I’m returning to a very comfortable ground, and looking back at one of my earliest collecting sources: Toy Biz’s run with the Marvel license.  While their 5-inch line was the real star of the ‘90s, running in tandem with it was a line of double-sized figures which proved pretty popular with the younger audience.  And in the ‘90s, the “younger audience” definitely included me.  Through creative parts re-use, Toy Biz racked up quite an impressive roster for the scale, and today I’m looking at Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Nick was one of the larger scale Marvel Universe line’s 1998 offerings, hitting in an assortment that contained the Union Jack and a fairly standard Wolverine variant mentioned in the figure’s bio up there.  I’m always quite amused by this line’s way of creating a playable story from the seemingly off the wall character choices.  This one is admittedly one the most plausible of the ones I’ve found.  This figure stands 10 inches tall and he has 9 points of articulation.  While Nick had a 5-inch figure with its own unique sculpt, this figure was released after the 10-inch line was almost entirely in repaint territory, so that sculpt was never actually sized up.  Instead, Nick is a repaint of the Spider-Man line’s Punisher.  I looked the the 5-inch release of that sculpt a little while back.  The designs of the two characters are similar enough that it’s really not much of a stretch I suppose.  It’s a nice enough sculpt, especially for its time of release, so there are no complaints there.  The larger version of the sculpt has the removable shoulder holster of the smaller figure permanently affixed, but this actually works out even better for Nick, since the shoulder piece is a pretty consistent element of his design.  The main change is the addition of his eye-patch, with is a soft-goods piece that’s been glued in place over his eye.  It’s a reasonable, cost effective way of handling the design change.  Nick’s paint gives him a more SHIELD appropriate color scheme of blue and white.  It ends up adding some details where there aren’t any on the sculpt, as well as overlooking some details that *are* on the sculpt, but that’s about par for the line.  The coolest work is definitely on his hair, which is actually a black base with the brown dry brushed over, giving it a neat layered appearance.  Pretty nifty!  Nick was originally packed with a rather larger gun piece, which my figure lacks.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Nick was a stocking stuffer from my parents, and what a stocking stuffer he was!  Obviously, I didn’t have this guy growing up.  In fact, I remember seeing him only one time as a kid, and not even at a regular retail store.  The nature of the line by the time Nick hit was really one of get as many different figures out as you can and don’t look back, so there are a large number of them whose existence is really only known to the people who happened upon them for the window the figures were available.  Nick was definitely one such figure.  The Punisher mold’s a good fit for the character, and is perhaps an even better mold than his 5-inch figure had.  While he’s certainly on the goofy side by today’s standards, Nick’s still a lot of fun.

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#1904: Etherow

ETHEROW

APOSIMZ (1000TOYS)

Hey, you guys remember yesterday’s review?  Well, good, because I’m covering some similar ground today.  Yes, for Day 4 of my Post-Christmas reviews, I’m returning once again to 1000Toys.  However, unlike my previous two 1000toys reviews, I’m actually mixing things up and looking at a proper licensed toy, not an original creation.  Etherow, today’s focus, is the lead character of the manga Aposimz, a sci-fi epic set on an artificial planet.  I can’t say as I know much about it, but it sounds kind of fun from what I’ve read so far.  But enough of that talk of reading!  That’s not what we do around here!  How’s the toy?  Read on!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Etherow is a 2018 release and is, so far, the only figure in the Aposimz line from 1000Toys.  Time will tell if that’s going to change, but not being familiar with the source material, I can’t really say for myself.  Though technically he’s a standalone figure, the fact that Aposimz is by the same artist who did all of the design work for 1000Toys’ in-house TOA Heavy Industries figures means that he’ll fit in very nicely with them.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and he has 43 points of articulation.  Of the three 1000Toys figures I own, I found Etherow to be by far the most restricted in terms of movement.  It’s not so much the actual joints, though, but rather elements of his design that are slightly hampering him here.  All that said, there are still plenty of awesome poses to be had, and his articulation is still very smooth and easily used.  The sculpt works all of this articulation in pretty well, and, apart from the slightly impeding nature of some of the little add-ons here and there, the two aspects work nicely in tandem.  Etherow, as an armored character, has a slightly different appearance to him than the fully robotic likes of CaRB.  He’s segmented, asymmetric, and, above all, he looks like he’s been through the wringer.  His armor is dinged and dented, and just generally looks battle-hardened.  Clearly it was at one point new and sleek, but that time has since passed.  From what I’ve been able to find of Aposimz online, the figure seems to be a rather faithful rendition of Etherow in three dimensions.   Paintwork on Etherow is actually pretty impressive, considering how basic it looks at first glance.  You might think he’s just molded in shiny red plastic, but there’s quite a bit of variation to all of that red, including a good deal of accenting on the various raised edges of the armor, helping to highlight all of the different pieces.  The white striping running throughout adds a nice bit of pop, and is cleanly applied, if perhaps a little thin.  While CaRB had no extras and the Robox was a little sparse, Etherow is actually pretty decently accessorized.  He has three pairs of hands, as well as three interchangeable left forearms, one of which includes Etherow’s Ballistic Acceleration Device, which is apparently his weapon of choice.  It’s all rounded up with a rather nice articulated display stand, which makes for lots of very fun posing.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Etherow continues the 1000Toys tradition of being from my parents.  I caught a blurry image of this guy on Twitter back in February of last year, and had no idea what the heck he was, but I knew I wanted one.  Upon figuring out what the heck he was, I wanted one even more.  Fortunately for me, my family had me covered there.  Etherow’s not quite as free range as the other two 1000Toys figures in my collection, but he’s still a lot of fun, and there’s no denying that he’s very, very cool looking.

#1904: Robox – Basic

ROBOX — BASIC

ROBOX (1000TOYS)

“Born from a collaboration between the world famous Korean artist Kim Jung Gi and 1000toys that will produce products based on designs by Kim drawn specifically for this project.  This basic Robox is highly articulated and built stiff enough to hold poses. The first release is the standard version of Robox featuring a military paint finish with weathering and small markings.”

For Day 3 of this year’s Post-Christmas reviews, I’m actually calling back on Day 3 of last year’s round, where I took a break from all the licensed stuff to take a look at something that was designed as a toy first.  That was, of course, C.a.R.B., perhaps my very favorite item from last year’s round-up, and my first experience with 1000Toys.  Today, I’m following that up with another of 1000Toys’ offerings, a line of collapsible robots called “Robox.”

THE FIGURE ITSELF

This guy is the debut figure in the Robox line, as the most basic model up for grabs.  As of right now, the only real difference between releases seems to be coloring, but time will tell if they plan to expand on things.  Basic was released early last year.  He’s about 6 1/4 inches tall (a little taller than C.a.R.B.) and he has 34 points of articulation…more or less.  There are more joints than that, but they’re tied into the collapsing feature and are thus not usable in his more standard configuration.  As with CaRB, posability is one of the figure’s strongest suits.  He’s got a ton of motion, the joints move smoothly, and he’ll be able to hold poses long-term.  He’s also quite sturdy on his feet, which is always a plus in my book.  Given the robotic nature of his design, the articulation is also quite easily worked into the sculpt, by virtue of it being purposefully on display.  Basic is decidedly a different sort of robot than CaRB was, of course, being a more deliberately robotic and utilitarian design than CaRB’s uber sleek load out.  Where CaRB (and, by extension, the Synthetic Human he’s built from) is a top-of-line, artfully-crafted masterpiece, Basic is decidedly mass-produced and economized, an emphasis on practicality over finesse.  It’s a design that quite appeals to me, and the sculpt translates the very machined appearance into plastic very well.  The design is, of course, all built around his ability to fold up into a much more compact package, and it is in fact this folded up configuration that he is packaged in.  There are a handy set of instructions included showing how to unfold him, and once you’ve done the process back and forth a few times, it’s pretty intuitive and easily done.  I didn’t feel like I was risking breaking any of the joints or anything, and he stays in either configuration pretty well once full transformed.  The paintwork on this guy really reinforces the utilitarian aspect.  He’s clearly some sort of military grade item, with his olive green base coat and all of his safety markings.  I really enjoy all of the little warnings and messages printed throughout the figure, as though he were a real piece of machinery.  The work is so tiny and easily missed and yet so pivotal to giving the figure that high-end feel.  Basic is armed with two pistol-like armaments which come plugged into each leg, as well as a large shield plate, which can either be stowed on his back or placed defensively on his arm.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Basic here was, like CaRB, a gift from my parents.  After how impressive CaRB was, I was itching to get more 1000Toys offerings.  As a smaller company, their releases are kind of slower and lesser in number, so options are somewhat limited, somewhat pricey, and somewhat likely to move more on the quick side.  Upon seeing a review of these guys, I definitely ear-marked one for hopes to add him to my collection later.  My parents were kind enough to do that part for me.  He’s rather a different figure from CaRB, but no less impressive.  I’m a sucker for cool toys and cool robots, so this guy’s right up my alley.

#1903: Moon Knight

MOON KNIGHT

MARVEL UNIVERSE (HASBRO)

“No one, not even Moon Knight himself is really sure whether he’s actually the avatar of the ancient god Khonshu, or if he’s just crazy.  It is without a doubt that he is stronger than the average man, and a far superior fighter to all but the best.  He has devoted himself to Khonshu, acting out the Egyptian god’s agenda of revenge against criminals from one end of the world to the other.”

For Day 2 of the Post-Christmas reviews, I’m returning to one of my very favorite review subjects.  Yes, it’s none other than MOOOOOOON KNIIIIIIIIIGHT!!!!  Sorry, I can’t help but do that at least once per Moon Knight review.  Contractual obligation.  So, yeah, Moon Knight’s a personal favorite character of mine, and one of those characters that I make a concerted effort to track down whenever he shows up in action figure form.  He’s got one of those designs that just usually makes for good toy.  And today, I’m looking at another!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Moon Knight was released in the fourth assortment of Marvel Universe in 2009, during the line’s inaugural year.  He was the 27th figure numerically in the line.  As seems to be frequently the case for the character, the assortment that spawned Moon Knight was sort of an odd-ball selection of characters.  Fun fact, though, the assortment also included Blade, a character that was essentially Moon Knight’s equivalent in the Tomb of Dracula books.  Anyway, Moon Knight’s seen here in his classic all-white attire, which we actually haven’t gotten in proper figure form since.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 22 points of articulation.  Moon Knight is built on the body that initially belonged to Daredevil.  It was one of two mid-sized male bodies introduced during the first year of the line, and, to be fair, it’s definitely the better of the two.  Of course, given that the other one is one of the worst bodies from the line, that’s perhaps faint praise.  As I mentioned when I first reviewed this body (when it was Vision), it’s an okay body overall, but the biggest flaw is that it looks like he’s missing a row of abs.  His torso’s just too short.  On the plus side, it poses well, and it’s certainly very playable.  He has a unique head, cape, and belt to help complete that Moon Knight look.  The belt is a little soft and ill-defined, but the head and cape are really nice pieces, and I find them to be stronger than even the more recent version of Marc.  As with the Vision parts, I can’t help but wish we could have seen these parts on a stronger base body.  Moon Knight’s paint is, as you might expect, quite monochromatic, but kept from being too drab with a nice selection of grey and silver accenting on the white portions of the costume.  Moon Knight was packed with his staff and a single crescent dart.  Both are pretty cool, but the staff’s definitely going to get more playtime from me, since he can’t really hold the dart.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Back when this figure was first released, I held off, in part because I was less of a Moon Knight fan than I am now, and in part because he was supposedly going to be re-packed later down the line in a two-pack with an Ant-Man figure.  When that pack never materialized, I found myself with no Moon Knight, and eventually settled for the more recent small-scale Legends release.  I ended up getting this guy this year as a Christmas present from my friends at All Time Toys, because that’s just how they do.  There are certainly some dated aspects of this figure, but I’m overall quite impressed by how well-crafted he is.  If nothing else, he’s certainly a lot of fun to play with!

#1902: Sohei Darth Maul

SOHEI DARTH MAUL

MEISHO MOVIE REALIZATION (BANDAI)

Post-Christmas reviews, begin!

Yes, it’s that time of year when I’ve gotten so many new toys from all the people that love me so much, and I always feel the best way of handling a large influx of new toys is to just jump headlong into the reviews.  No turning back!  Today, I kick things off with a theme that I assure you will be sticking with us for a good portion of the reviews to come: Star Wars.  That said, today’s focus item is a slight variation on the theme.  He may be from Star Wars, but it’s definitely a more conceptual version of the story.  I’m taking my second look at Bandai’s reimagining of the Star Wars movies as Samurai films, Sohei Darth Maul!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Sohei Darth Maul is one of the 2018 releases from the Meaisho Movie Realization line, which re-envisions Sith Lord Darth Maul as Sohei, or a warrior monk.  Admittedly, “warrior monk” isn’t much of a stretch from the basic Jedi thing.  It’s *almost* as if the Star Wars characters naturally lend themselves to this sort of thing!  The figure stands 7 inches tall and he has 43 points of articulation.  As with the Royal Guard, there’s something of a learning curve on posing these guys, though I had a much easier time with Maul, largely do to already having experience with the line.  Maul’s sculpt appears to be totally unique to him, which is sensible, given that as a prequel character, he would be of a slightly vintage than the Vader and troopers we’ve gotten so far.  It’s certainly a very nice sculpt, with lots of detail work worked throughout all of its various pieces.  The texturing on his tunic is very realistic, and keeps it from being too bland, and the armored pieces are all quite intricately designed.  The head is rather demonic, even for Maul, indicating that he’s actually some form of spirit or demon in this reimagined version of the tale, which is certainly a cool concept.  It gives Bandai free reign to have a bit of fun with it, and the end result is a very expressive piece.  The paint work on Maul is quite impressive, especially given the fact that the character is typically quite monochromatic.  While his basic clothing is still straight black, the overlying armor has all sorts of subtle color work going on.  It makes for a very interesting looking figure, and he’s got plenty of elements to help him pop off of the shelf.  Darth Maul is packed with a pair of swords, which can be attached at the hilt to simulate his signature double-bladed saber from the movie.  The actual blades can also be removed simulation them being turned off.  Also included are a face mask  (furthering the demonic experience), and beads, which can be removed to mix up the appearance.  Finally, he includes three sets of hands in fists, gripping, and open gesture poses.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like the Royal Guard before him, Sohei Darth Maul was a Christmas gift from my boy Tim.  I had actually just been looking at this figure about a week prior to receiving it from him, so it was a rather well-timed gift.  Again, like the Royal Guard, there’s just a lot to like about this figure.  He’s got a cool look, has a great selection of alternate appearances, and is just generally a lot of fun.  I really look forward to seeing what else this line tackles (I’d kill for a scout trooper, let me tell you).

#1540: GCPD Rogues Gallery

RENEE MONTOYA, BANE, KILLER CROC, MR. FREEZE, & POISON IVY

BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES (DC COLLECTIBLES)

For my ninth and final 2017 post-Christmas review, I’m returning to a line that fills me with lots of mixed emotions: DC Collectibles’ Batman: Animated.  I was very supportive of the line early on, an really liked the first couple of series, despite some of the minor flaws.  However, as the line has progressed, I’ve found a lot of the later offerings to be a bit lackluster. The thing that broke me from the line was actually the set I’m looking at today.  As I’ve noted a few times, “Heart of Ice” is hands down my favorite episode of Batman: The Animated Series, and is possibly just one of my favorite cartoons ever.  Obviously, I was eager to get a proper Animated Series Mr. Freeze.  The first figure was the New Adventures design, which is fine, but not really what I wanted.  So, what does DCC do when it finally comes time to release the classic Freeze, one of the most demanded figures in the line?  Pack him in with four other figures in an expensive boxed item.  ….Yay?

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

This five pack was released about mid-year last year, under the title “GCPD Rogues Gallery.”  All five figures in this set are based on their Animated Series designs, with the four titular Rogues being the second figure for each, following their TNBA design-sporting single-releases.

RENEE MONTOYA

Fulfilling the “GCPD” segment of this set is Officer Renee Montoya.  Montoya is noteworthy for being the second of B:TAS’s successful original creations that made her way back into the comics after the fact (following the immensely successful Harley Quinn, of course).  Montoya is the one wholly unique figure in this set.  She’s wearing her beat cop uniform, since she didn’t make it to detective until TNBA.  The figure stands about 6 1/4 inches tall and she has 22 points of articulation.  Her articulation works better than some of the Batman: Animated figures I’ve looked at, which certainly makes me feel a bit better.  Her sculpt is definitely one of the strongest in the set, recreating her animated design rather nicely. She avoids being too devoid of detail, another issue that plagued some of the line’s other figures.  Similarly, her paint is also very strong.  The application is nice and clean, and the colors all match up with her on-screen appearance.  Montoya is packed with an extra head, a handgun, a shotgun, four pairs of hands, and a display stand.  The head offers Montoya without her hat, which I guess is nice, in theory, at least.  In practice, it’s just very annoying.  Why?  Because, thanks to the design of the double barbel DCC’s used for her neck peg, if you’re not careful when swapping out the heads (a very difficult task, I might add), then the peg will pop out of the neck, rather than the head.  I ended up having to spend about 20 minutes removing the barbel from the second Montoya head to put the one with the hat back on, and after all that, the peg is mangled to the point that I doubt I’ll be able to successfully swap it again.  Okay, but what about the guns?  Well, they look nice, but I almost broke both of them taking them out of the package.  Also, despite the plethora of hands included, there’s not really a combo that can properly hold the shotgun.

BANE

The New Adventures Bane was one of my favorite figures from the single-packed line, so this figure has a lot to live up to.  I’m gonna let you all down easy here: he doesn’t.  He’s not helped by the design, to be fair.  The B:TAS Bane design is certainly one of the weakest from the original run of the show (part of why he got such a drastic redesign later).  He’s not particularly intimidating or anything.  He’s just looks like a slightly paunchy luchador.  Not the greatest design for a villain.  The figure stands 7 inches tall and he has 24 points of articulation.  Okay, let’s get this out of the way: Bane can’t stand.  Like, at all.  Just getting the photos for this review was one of the most infuriating experiences I’ve gone through.  The actual sculpt is decent, I suppose.  It replicates the show design well-enough, but I find he lacks the playability seen on the last Bane figure.  His paintwork is decent from a palette stand-point; he’s bright and colorful.  The application’s a bit iffy, and he’s got several spots of random shininess on an otherwise matte finished figure.  It’s rather distracting and makes for a fairly sloppy looking figure.  Bane includes four sets of hands, a dumbell, and a display stand.  The dumbell’s a nice extra, but, as with Montoya, there’s not actually a hand that can properly hold it.  Doesn’t that seem like the sort of thing that you would want to double check before sending this figure out?

KILLER CROC

I never actually got the TNBA Croc.  I kept meaning to, but I never did.  It’s okay.  I’ve never been a huge Croc fan anyway, so I probably didn’t need two of him.  Truth be told, Croc’s another character who I feel had a stronger design initially, so this figure’s good for that.  He stands just a little shorter than Bane, and he has 23 points of articulation.  He has the mid-torso movement like we saw on the first Bane figure, which is certainly a plus.  It helps to make him one of the most easily posed figures in the set.  It also allows for a lot more fine tuning on his weight distribution, helping him stay standing a bit better.  The sculpt is another strong offering, and I’d certainly place him on par with Montoya in that respect.  He’s very true to the show’s design, and captures Croc’s character.  I look at this guy and can hear him saying “I hit him with a rock!”  The detail work is all very sharp and crisply defined, not soft like some of the others in the line.  The paint on Croc isn’t the most exciting thing, but it matches the show.  It’s all cleanly applied, and it looks pretty decent for what it is.  Croc is packed with three sets of hands and a display stand.  No rock to hit Batman with?  I guess I can supply my own.

MR. FREEZE

Four figures in and I’m finally getting to the one that actually matters!  Yeeeeeeeaaaaahhhhh! …Sorry, that’s not really appropriate for Mr. Freeze, is it?  He’d go for a more reserved, served cold sort of thing.  Ah, yes.  A Mr. Freeze figure.  Of course.  Would that it could warm his frozen heart.  But alas, there is no hope for him.  But hey, cool figure, right?  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 22 points of articulation.  Freeze has nay favorite sculpt of all the figures included here.  He’s just really got the show design down pat.  The best piece by far is the head, which just looks absolutely spot-on from every angle.  The rest of the sculpt is a solid recreation of his suit design from the show, and it’s really only marred by one thing: the head dome.  On its own, it’s fine, but it doesn’t fit the body quite right, so it never sits flush the way it should and it pops out a lot.  It’s not awful, but it’s a minor annoyance, and there was no such issue on the last Mr. Freeze figure.  If there’s a major downfall to this figure, it’s the paintwork.  It’s not the worst I’ve seen in this line, but it’s definitely sloppy, especially on the blue parts of his suit.  How they got the others in this set so clean and not Victor is honestly a bit baffling to me.  Freeze is packed with his freeze gun, five sets of hands, a snow globe, and a display stand.  Ready for the common theme of this review?  Despite the large selection of hands, he can’t really hold his gun very well, and he can’t actually hold the snow globe as well.  I appreciate the extras being included, but I wish they could be more adequately used.

POISON IVY

Last up, it’s Poison Ivy, the other hotly demanded figure in this set.  I picked up the first Ivy figure, and I liked her overall, but she was certainly a flawed offering.  I was sort of hoping that this one would fix some of those.  It does, but there are some other ones that have cropped up to replace them.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and she has 23 points of articulation.  Her sculpt is…okay? It has its ups and downs.  It’s definitely not anywhere near as accurate as the other figures in this set, which is a shame, really.  She’s far more on par with the last Ivy, in that she looks okay from certain angles, but not so great from others.  I do like that she doesn’t have the ugly seam running down the side of her hair this time.  Unfortunately, she’s now got a rather ugly bend in her right leg, as well as a severely misshapen wrist bolt.  It kind of ruins the aesthetics.  The paint on Ivy is okay, but rather on the sloppy side of things.  It’s especially bad on her legs, where there’s a few spots of errant paint.  Ivy is packed wth five sets of hands,  the Wild Thorny Rose seen in “Pretty Poison,” and a display stand.  At least she has hands that can actually hold the rose.  I guess that’s a nice change.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I discussed in the intro, I was less than enthused by DCC’s decision to lump all of these figures into one big set, so I didn’t grab this when it was new.  My parents were nice enough to get this for me as my main gift this Christmas.  This set frustrates me because I really wanted to like it, but it’s perhaps the most frustrating thing I received this year.  Sure, most of the figures are a marked improvement on the single releases, but there are still enough flaws throughout the set that it’s infuriating.  The fact that Freeze and Ivy include more accessories also drives home the point that DCC designed them as individual releases and held them back to move this big set, which feels like a real cheap move to me.  Ultimately, I’m happy to have the Mr. Freeze I wanted.  He’s a good figure.  Montoya is also a solid addition, and Croc’s a pleasant surprise that I probably wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.  Ivy’s another flawed version of the character, though, and Bane just does nothing for me.  So, that’s 2/5 figures in this set that I would have much rather passed on.  That’s not a very good spread, especially for something that carries this hefty a price tag.

#1539: Xenomorph

XENOMORPH

ALIEN: COVENANT (NECA)

“Ridley Scott returns to the universe created, with Alien: Covenant, a new chapter in his groundbreaking Alien franchise.  The crew of the colony ship Covenant, bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, discovers what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world.  When they uncover a threat beyond their imagination, they must attempt a harrowing escape.”

…Okay, I’ve been putting this off for about as long as I could.  Let’s do this.  For my eighth post-Christmas review, I’ll be asking an important question: is it possible to enjoy an action figure based on something you utterly despise?  I’ve pondered this question before, amusingly enough, in the same franchise as this review, and from the same toy maker even.  I mean, I was able to enjoy four whole Alien 3 figures, right?  Surely Alien: Covenant isn’t that different, is it?  Well, yes and no.  The thing about Alien 3 is that it existed before I even got into the Alien franchise.  I knew it was coming before I even started Aliens.  I had fair warning.  It’s just sort of done.  And, the way Aliens ends, Alien 3 is very easy to ignore.  Moreover, as much as I dislike the movie, I’ll be the first to admit that not *everything* about it sucks.  Things like the quadrupedal Xeno I can certainly get behind.  Alien: Covenant?  Well, I had to experience it new, which definitely sucked.  It’s a sequel to Prometheus, a movie that I enjoyed more than I expected, but an incredibly flawed one nonetheless.  At the end of Prometheus, I actually had this little twinge of hope, that maybe Scott would be taking his characters in a different direction than the earlier films and trying something new.  Silly me.  Covenant takes what I liked in Prometheus and gives it a fiery, explosive death, and takes everything I didn’t like about it and sticks it front and center.  And then it sort of tries to reinvent the wheel by reintroducing audiences to one of the most distinctive monsters of all time in a way that assures you beyond the shadow of a doubt that everything clever Scott did in the original Alien was an accident.

…I’m getting very sidetracked.  I should probably talk about the figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Xenomorph is part of NECA’s Alien: Covenant line, released to coincide with the movie’s theatrical run.  The figure stands 8 1/2 inches tall and he has 37 points of articulation, plus a bendable tail.  This Xeno sports an all-new sculpt, modeled after the Xeno seen on screen in Covenant.  To NECA’s credit, they’ve crafted a very good recreation of the creature seen in the film.  Every detail looks spot on, and everything is very sharp and well defined.  The figure’s articulation is pretty decently worked in, and he’s just as posable as his brethren from the other movies.  The paint’s pretty solid too.  The fine details on the head are all well outlined and clearly applied, and there’s decent accent work that shows off the sculpt pretty well.  Viewed just on its merits as a plastic recreation of the thing we see in the movie, this figure is nothing short of exceptional.  And there lies the rub.  I could go on for a very long time about what I didn’t like about Covenant (I’ve already gone on too long, frankly), but nothing frustrated me more than the design of the Xenomorph.  It’s like someone looked at the original design and said “how can remove everything unique, interesting, and genuinely terrifying about this design?”  Simply put, this alien looks like a skinned human with a Xeno head stuck on top.  Is that pleasant?  No.  Is it gross? A bit.  Would I want to run into this thing? No.  Is it scary? Not really.  There’s too much going on, and it’s all far too familiar to me.  Remove the head, and you’re left with a monster that would look at home in any slasher film of the week.  It’s really generic.  And I get that they designed it this way on purpose, so that it would still look alright when brightly lit (which is most definitely not true of the Xenos seen in Alien or Aliens; they look downright goofy when seen in regular lighting).  So bravo, you created Aliens you can look at in daylight.  But why, though?  Why?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This figure came from Super Awesome Girlfriend.  I had mentioned to her that the Books A Million in the mall where she works had a decent selection of NECA Aliens figures, and when she went back, the Covenant figures were all they had left.  She knew I didn’t like the movie, but she really wanted to get me something Alien-related, so she got me this one.  It’s a thoughtful gift, no doubt.  It’s not her fault that the movie sucked.  Nor is it NECA’s, or even this figure’s.  Like I said, just as a figure of the design in the movie, this figure is solid.  And I’ll put it on the shelf with my other NECA Xenos, and be content.  But I really wish the movie had been better.  And I really wish the design were better.  And I really wish Ridley Scott would learn to quit while he’s ahead.

#1538: Nite Owl

NITE OWL

WATCHMEN (MATTEL)

“Awkward, shy, and unnaturally obsessed with masked vigilantes and ornithology, Dan Drieberg was a surprisingly good fit to inherit the mantle of Nite Owl.  He is a talented engineer with a tragic childhood that feeds his needs to help the helpless and fight the good fight.  However, the world is not a perfect place and Dan is forced to constantly question his own morality.”

I’ve now made it through a full week of my post-Christmas reviews, and now we’re kind of nearing the end of this whole thing.  For today’s review, I’m switching over to a property that I’ve covered a few times on this site, Watchmen.  I was pretty huge into Watchmen a few years back, especially around the time of the film adaptation.  In the years since, my fixation has sort of waned, probably due to the overabundance of grimdark super hero stories in the last several years.  I still appreciate it for what it is, and there’s no denying that the story has lots of exciting designs, just ripe for toy form.  The comics designs are somewhat rare in the toy world, but Mattel put out a set of them a few years back, and I’ll be taking a look at the Nite Owl figure from that set today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Nite Owl was the fourth figure in Mattel’s “Club Black Freighter” subscription, released back in 2013.  He’s based on the comics Nite Owl design, of course, which is a more simplistic look than his more sculpted look from the film, but I feel a slightly more polished and to the point design.  The figure stands 6 3/4 inches tall 23 points of articulation.  The whole Club Black Freighter set was designed to fit stylistically with DC Universe Classics, and a lot of this was done via parts re-use from that line.  For Nite Owl, this means he uses the standard mid-sized arms, legs, and pelvis, along with a new torso and head, as well as add-ons for his cape and belt.  The legs are the end of DCUC legs, meaning they’ve had the rocker-ankles removed.  It’s definitely an annoyance, and it means he can’t really ever keep his feet flat on the ground, which looks rather goofy.  On the plus side, all of the newly sculpted pieces really do look cool.  The head’s a solid piece of work, and replicates Gibbons’ take on Nite Owl quite nicely.  His hard plastic cape, though very cool looking, effectively renders his arms motionless from the elbow up.  The end result to all of this is a figure that’s not really good for anything but standing around.  But at least he looks good, I suppose.  The paint work on Nite Owl is decent enough, and certainly better than a lot of Mattel’s output.  It’s clean and matches well with the art from the book.  It’s not the most thrilling color combination, but that’s true to the character, so one can hardly complain.  Nite Owl is packed with a display stand, three owl-arangs, and a grappling gun, as well as big novelty card thing with an art-deco sort of illustration.  The stand’s fine, but he has some trouble successfully holding any of the other extras.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Nite Owl was another Christmas gift from Super Awesome Girlfriend.  By the time the Club Black Freighter set came along, I was kind of done with Mattel’s whole subscription model and past my Watchmen fixation, so I ended up passing on them.  I almost bought Nite Owl a few times from Matty Collector during a couple of their year-end sales, but never got around to it.  Jess spotted him at the GameStop she works at and grabbed him for me.  He’s sort of an interesting phenomenon, a “super-posable” figure that doesn’t work as much more than a statue.  Ultimately, he’s not a bad figure, but he sort of fails at what he’s supposed to be.  I guess he’s rather par for the course when it comes to Mattel, though.

#1537: Finn – FN-2187

FINN — FN-2187

STAR WARS: TITAN HEROES (HASBRO)

“After his first taste of combat during a brutal First Order night assault on a Jakku village, Stormtrooper FN-2187 defects from Kylo Ren’s forces, becoming a fugitive.”

For my sixth post-Christmas review, I’m ducking back into the world of Star Wars, with another figure from the sequel trilogy.  This one specifically comes from The Force Awakens, which feels so long ago now, doesn’t it?  Prior to the movie’s release, we got a whole slew of Finn figures wearing his more civilian get-up, which, while accurate to the film and certainly the look he was sporting for the majority of its runtime, was perhaps a little less than exciting.  Slightly more exciting was his Stormtrooper-armored look from the opening of the film, which we had to wait until after the film’s release to get.  Thanks to weird distribution, I never actually picked up a single figure of Stormtrooper Finn, but now I have one, and I’m reviewing him today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Finn, or FN-2187 as he’s known when he’s still a Stormtrooper, is from the third main assortment of Force Awakens-themed Star Wars: Titan Heroes.  He hit around May of 2016 and was released alongside the Fifth Brother from Rebels.  The figure stands about 12 inches tall and has 7 points of articulation.  He’s built very much like one of the smaller basic-line figures, but, like the previously reviewed Titan Heroes Rey, he’s molded in a much harder plastic, and he’s largely hollow.  This figure is largely a re-use of pieces from the First Order Stormtrooper, which is sensible enough, I suppose.  It’s rather on the skinny side, given how bulky these particular troopers tend to be, but the overall detail work is generally pretty decent.  It’s not any worse than the smaller figures in that regard, though compared to Rey, the only other Titan Heroes figure I own, he seems a little lower in quality.  On the plus side, his head sculpt was an all-new piece to this figure, and it was certainly one of Hasbro’s best Boyega sculpts, certainly on par with the Ridley likeness on Rey.  The paintwork on Finn is okay, but noting to really write home about.  The head gets the cleanest work, and manages to look pretty lifelike.  The body’s a bit on the sloppy side, especially on the hands, but it’s not atrocious.  Finn is packed with a standard Stormtrooper blaster, which is a decent replica of the real pos and can be stowed on his thigh when he’s not holding it.  It’s a shame he does’t get a helmet or anything, but at this scale and price-point, it’s not a huge shock.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Finn was a gift from Super Awesome Girlfriend’s parents.  He’s more of a companion piece to a larger gift they got for the two of us (a Sphero BB-8 was the main gift, with a Finn figure for me and a Rey for Jess).  I’ve never really devoted much of my time to this particular line, but I did really like the Rey figure I picked up a while back, and Finn makes for a decent enough companion piece to her.  He’s not the most thrilling figure in the world, but he’s still a pretty solid toy.

#1536: Ultraman Ace Suit

ULTRAMAN ACE SUIT

S.H. FIGUARTS X ULTRA-ACT (BANDAI)

It’s Day 5 of my post-Christmas reviews, and today I’ll be returning to one of my very favorite franchises, Ultraman.  My Ultraman reviews have gotten few and far between.  That’s the sort of thing that happens when they end the main line you collect of something, I suppose.  Without a steady stream of new Ultra-Act offerings, there’s a bit less regularity to my Ultra-collecting habits.  The Figuarts offerings are very cool, but there’s also a bit of overlap between the two collections, so I haven’t really picked up anything from that line.  Well, until now, anyway.  Today’s figure is based on the currently running Ultraman manga, which is a sort of soft reboot of the franchise, taking only the original show as canon, and following the adventures of Hayata’s son Shinjiro as he takes up the mantle of Ultraman.  The series has also introduced some of the later Ultras as recurring characters, though they aren’t proper Ultramen like they were before.  So, without further ado, here’s the Ultraman Ace Suit, piloted by Seiji Hokuto, a reimagining of one of Ace’s two hosts!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Ace Suit is the third offering in the SHFiguarts X Ultra-Act line, following the standard manga Ultraman and the Ver7.2 Suit.  As the Ace Suit is the third suit to appear in the manga, it’s a sensible release order.  The figure stands about 5 3/4 inches tall and he has 40 points of articulation.  Ace is the shortest of the three manga Ultras, and the figure reflects that.  I will admit, after messing around with CaRB for a few days, Ace’s articulation felt a little bit restricted, but compared to the average Figuarts offering, he’s not too bad.  The shoulders are the most  difficult thing, because they have to be configured just right for any given move.  But, once you get a feel for the figure, it’s not too hard to get him posed how you’d like him.  Ace’s sculpt is unique to him, and it does a pretty respectable job of translating the manga design into three dimensions.  It certainly helps that Ace is my favorite so far of the manga Ultras.  I definitely appreciate the common elements between this design and the classic Ace design, especially filtered through the manga’s more tactical design aesthetic.  His suit is pretty sleek and clean, and I quite like the more squared off nature.  It really goes well with the classic Ace elements, such as the pseudo Greco-Roman style helmet.  The sculpt gets all of these design elements worked in quite nicely, and doesn’t skimp in the smaller details.  I like that you can tell what’s actually armor and what’s a more flexible undersuit, just through the shaping of the materials.  In terms of paint, this guy’s pretty much on par with the various Ultra-Act figures I reviewed.  Everything is pretty clean and sharp, and the metallics look top-notch.  I particularly like that his lenses are translucent yellow; they look amazing when the light hits them the right way.  The Ace Suit is quite well accessorized.  He includes three sets of hands (in fists, open gesture, and flat poses), extra gauntlets, his specium blade, a slightly longer set of wrists (for use with the blade), and an alternate unmasked head with two different facial expressions.  The blade can be a little tricky to get set-up the right way, since it requires swapping out the wrists and getting the hands and bracers swapped over to the new ones, as well as getting the blade properly seated between the arms.  It took a few tries to get my figure to hold the blade the right way.  The extra head is certainly a nice touch, especially after a similar piece was left out of the first release of the main Ultraman.  The separate expressions work much the same as they do with the DBZ figures, and add a nice bit of character to the figure, though I hardly see myself displaying him unmasked.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Ace is Tim’s fault indirectly, and I suppose my parents fault directly.  It’s Tim’s fault I know this figure exists.  Which is a bit weird, when you get down to it, since I’m the Ultraman fan, but somehow this one slipped past me.  Once I saw him, I knew I wanted one, and my parents were nice enough to get me him for Christmas.  It’s kind of funny, because, while I like the original Ace, he’s never been one of my favorites.  This figure, on the other hand, very definitely is.  He’s a ton of fun, and just really cool looking to boot.