#2070: Optimus Prime – Galaxy Upgrade

OPTIMUS PRIME — GALAXY UPGRADE

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE (HASBRO)

A major selling point of War For Cybertron: Siege is its throwbacks to the franchise’s older incarnations.  The vast majority of the line is very definitely very G1-inspired (sensible, since that’s the incarnation most people know and for which they have the greatest nostalgia), but there are some throwbacks to more modern incarnations.  Perhaps one of the most modern is the latest incarnation of Autobot Leader Optimus Prime.  The first Optimus went back to the original design, where as the latest, dubbed “Galaxy Upgrade,” is pattered after Optimus from 2005’s Transformers: Cybertron (Galaxy Force in Japan).  That’s the figure I’m taking a look at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Galaxy Upgrade Optimus Prime is one half of the second wave of Leader Class figures from Siege, with the other half being a re-issue of last wave’s Shockwave.  Its our second (and as far as we know last) Optimus for Siege, serving as something of a mid-season-upgrade (or “Magical Girl Power-up” according to Super Awesome Fiancee, and then she said “Auto-Girls, roll out!” accompanied by an assortment of whooshing sounds).  In his initial robot mode, he stands 7 1/4 inches tall and he has 22 points of articulation.  As pretty much everyone had expected as soon as Ultra Magnus showed up with an all-new mold, this Optimus is built on the same base body.  For the purposes of his fully armored up mode, there aren’t quite as many shared parts, with the only truly lifted parts being the “boots”, and even then they’re slightly modified, in order to streamline them a bit more from what Magnus was sporting.  As a whole, streamlined is a good description for the armored up appearance.  It’s fitting, seeing as it’s clearly meant for flight, what with the wings and all.  The wings have been scaled down a bit from their prior appearance, likely in an effort to keep him within the new Leader Class scaling, but they’re still sizable enough to make the proper impression.  The large cannons are permanently affixed to the wing pack, and I was initially expecting them to be a little bit restricting, but they actually have a decent range and fold up rather nicely on his back when they’re not in use.

In terms of alt modes, Optimus follows the trend set by Ultra Magnus, with three distinct ones.  The first is the core bot mode, and this is the one where the Magnus re-use becomes the most evident, as they’re virtually the same.  The only sculptural (but not functional) difference is the tooling on the front of his torso, as well as a swapped out front to is pelvis piece.  Neither are overly different; the pelvis in particular is easily missed, but the new torso is slightly more pointed and, following the trend of the outer armor, more streamlined when compared to Magnus.  It’s a subtle change, but one that really sells the differences between the characters.  A less subtle change is the color scheme, which swaps out the monochromatic look of Magnus for something more in line with Optimus’ usual primary colors.  This, coupled with the change in sculpt, makes the figure undeniably Optimus Prime, rather than Prime-inspired like it was before.

The next mode is the basic truck mode.  Unsurprisingly, it’s pretty similar to Magnus, but with the expected changes to the front of the cab.  There’s some slight partsforming that goes on for this mode, with the forearm pieces from the armored up mode becoming the front grill of the truck, which I actually think works out a little better than the permanently attached piece from Magnus.  This base mode is the starting point for his final mode, which adds back in his armor from his super mode, to make a more involved truck.  There’s even more partsforming going on here, moreso than we saw on Magnus, and by and large I found this transformation a little more complicated, though it certainly picked up as I moved through the process.  Like Magnus, Prime is packed with two “W-30 Magnetic Inducer Launchers” (the pistols), and also gets a “JF-15 Gravity Force Laser” (the rifle).

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After becoming thoroughly hooked on the line and starting to survey the upcoming releases, there was one figure I felt I could pass with utmost certainty: this guy.  I already had the Voyager Optimus, I already had the Leader Ultra Magnus, so why would I need this?  To add to that, I’m really not *that* much of an Optimus fan, so I’d rationalized that this guy was definitely non-essential.  And then I saw him in-person, and well, I kind of caved.  Yeah.  I’m weak.  I’ve got no excuse.  Ultimately, Voyager Optimus is still going to be my go-to Optimus, and Magnus is still my favorite Leader, but I can’t deny that this guy is a lot of fun.

I grabbed my Galaxy Upgrade Optimus from my friends at All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for Transformers, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

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#2065: Hawk

HAWK

G.I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO (HASBRO)

“Hawk comes from a well established (real loaded) family. He’s a West Point graduate, top of class and has seen action in a number of trouble spots. Graduated: Advanced Infanty Training; Covert Ops School. Served on Cadre, North Atlantic Training; Covert Ops School. Served on Cadre, North Atlantic Range Command and USA ENG COM EVR Missile and Radar Training; (classified). Qualified Expert: M-16; M-1911A1 auto-pistol.”

When Hasbro relaunched G.I. Joe under the “Real American Hero” banner in 1982, they did so with a team of thirteen Joes, built from a share pool of parts.  Since Duke, the team’s field leader, wouldn’t be introduced until 1983 (and as a mail-away at that), the team’s leader was instead Clayton “Hawk” Abernathy, the original blond leader guy…who would eventually become the brunette leader guy to avoid confusion.  Today’s figure, however, predates that change.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Hawk was released as part of the very first assortment of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero in 1982, and came packaged with the Mobile Missile System (MMS for short).  Like all of the ’82 figures, he was available in ’82 with straight-arms (i.e. no bicep swivel) and again in ’83, this time with swivel arms.  Furthermore, the ’82 releases had either thin or thick thumbs, depending on production date. As you can no-doubt tell from my Hawk’s broken (and therefore thin) thumb, he’s the earliest release.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 12 points of articulation (because of the missing bicep swivels).  As I noted in the intro, the original thirteen were built from the same pool of parts.  Nothing about Hawk is actually unique to him.  The head was shared between him, Flash, Shortfuse, and Steeler, with only the hair color differentiating them.  As I noted in my Flash review, it’s a generic enough sculpt that the small changes do actually work pretty well to sell them as different characters, much in the same vein as the original 12-inch figures.  The torso he shared with Snake Eyes and Stalker, the arms with Grunt, Shortfuse, Stalker, Snake Eyes, and Zap, and the legs with Breaker, Clutch, Grunt, Rock and Roll, Shortfuse, Steeler, Stalker, and Zap.  Since the original Joes were a little more about the uniformed appearance, the mix and match approach actually works out pretty well.  The original Joes were very basic in their paintwork, with a drab color set and sparse applications.  Hawk’s is reasonable enough, though there’s definitely some wear on mine.  Hawk had no weapons (apart from the MMS), but he was packed with a helmet and visor, which is the same as Flash’s.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve been a fan of Hawk since early on in my Joe collecting, but the vintage Hawk is a rather recent addition to my collection.  I found him in rather ratty shape in a collection that was traded into All Time Toys, and decided to bring him home and rehabilitate him a bit. There’s not a lot going on with him as a figure purely on his own, but as the very first version of the character and one of the first Joes, he’s pretty sweet to add to the collection.

As I noted, I got they guy from All Time Toys, who are absolutely swimming in vintage Joes at the moment, so check out the Joe section of their eBay page here.  If you’re looking for other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2064: Infamous Iron Man

INFAMOUS IRON MAN

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Once one of the world’s most evil villains, Infamous Iron Man Victor Von Doom has a change of allegience and assumes a new identity as the tech-powered hero, Iron Man.”

Victor Von Doom (not to be confused with Victor *con* Doom, which is Victor with Doom, and is what my computer wanted to put there), better known as Doctor Doom, is perhaps the Marvel Universe’s greatest villain.  And, of course, being the top villain means also getting a story evry so often where you stop being a villain and try to be a hero.  Doctor Doom’s actually been there a couple of times, but was there most recently after the fallout of 2015’s Secret Wars, which eventually led to him taking over the role of Iron Man for a bit.  That’s the source of Doom’s latest figure, dubbed the “Infamous Iron Man.”

THE FIGURE ITESELF

Infamous Iron Man is the latest Walgreens-exclusive Marvel Legends release, and he started hitting stores in early May.  As a Doctor Doom-variant, he’s well at home with the Fantastic Four-theme that’s persisted through the last few years of Walgreens exclusives.  Like his team of nemeses, Victor’s been away from Legends for a little while, with this being his first figure in seven years.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  In the comics, Victor’s Infamous Iron Man suit was a re-working of Tony’s most recent ANAD armor, and the figure follows true to that, re-using the molds of the Okoye Series Iron Man.  It’s honestly my favorite Iron Man sculpt in recent years, so I don’t mind seeing it crop up again, especially since it’s accurate to the source material.  The base figure is mostly identical between the two of them, with only the head getting a slight tweak to the back to allow for the hood to be attached.  Speaking of the hood, both it and the cape are new parts.  The appearance is nice, and I certainly dig the sculpted texture, but I don’t know how crazy I am about the implementation.  The hood is permanently affixed to the head, but the cape isn’t actually attached in any way; it just rests there.  And while the hood can hold it in place in most poses, it still slides off more often than I’d like.  The paint on Victor is the main change-up, since it transitions him into his more classic “Doom” colors, being predominately grey and silver.  The application’s mostly pretty good, but there’s something about the outlining on the face plate that looks a little goofy to me.  Doom is packed with two repulsor blast hands, and matching repulsor blasts, as well as the lightning effects in a matching purple, and an unmasked Victor Von Doom head.  The unmasked head is definitely my favorite piece, and I only wish it was easier to use it in conjunction with the cape.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This one is technically Max’s fault, but he gets a bit of a pass, since it’s mostly circumstantial.  I fully intended to buy this figure on my own, but he happened to find one before me, and was nice enough to pick it up for me.  There are a few notable issues with this figure, however they mostly get a pass from this guy being undeniably a placeholder for the inevitable classic Doom figure down the road.  As it stands, he’s more fun than frustration, which I can get behind.

#2061: Captain America

CAPTAIN AMERICA

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

Steve Rogers prepares for the ultimate battle to save the universe and channels all of his strength as Captain America.”

When is an amazing figure not an amazing release?  When the circumstances surrounding that release mean that not everyone who wants it is going to be able to get it.  Exclusives became the nature of the collecting beast years ago, as big box stores began to throw their buying power into guaranteeing they’d have something you couldn’t get anywhere else.  Walmart in particular has a reputation of refusing to carry certain toylines at all until they are granted an exclusive.  They didn’t carry initial assortments of Toy Biz’s Marvel Legends for this very reason, and it was because of this that Best of Marvel Legends came to exist.  Later in the line, they would get an entire series (the Giant-Man Series) to themselves, and boy was that just a pleasant experience for everyone involved.  And if you believed me there, I have a one-handed Giant-Man I’d like to sell you.  I assure you, he’s much better than one with both hands.  In recent years, Walmart exclusives have become less of an issue, but less because they actually got better at making them available and more because toymakers have started giving them less-essential stuff when possible.  I’ve not had too much trouble with the last few Legends releases, but then again, I’ve not felt like they were essential either (I also didn’t have the nightmarish experience getting Corvous Glaive that some collectors did).  Then today’s figure was announced, and I was again less than enthused by this whole exclusives game.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Captain America is the third Walmart-exclusive Legends release this year, but he’s actually the second to hit stores because, as of this writing, their Captain Marvel exclusive still hasn’t been seen anywhere domestically.  Cap actually has had a pretty fast turnaround, as we only found out about his existence two weeks ago, and he seems to be be arriving in full force, at least in physical stores.  He’s based on his newly-designed costume from the final battle of Endgame, and is what I’d classify as the “definitive” Cap look for this movie.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 34 points of articulation.  Since Winter Soldier, all of the standard MCU Caps have been built on the same body.  While I loved it when it was new, that body has grown more and more out of place as the line has moved forward.  We got a taste of something new with the Infinity War Cap last year, which was part of why I was so disappointed when the Marvel Studios release went right back to the WS body, rather than retooling the new one.  I was crossing my fingers that Hasbro wouldn’t make the same mistake when it came time for this costume.  I’m happy to report they didn’t, and, in fact, they’ve given him an almost entirely new sculpt.  From the thigh down, he shares his legs with the IW release, and he has the helmeted head from the Studios offering (which is one of my few nits with this figure, because it means he’s got the smaller ball-joint of the WS body, meaning we once again have a Cap whose heads aren’t compatible with the Quantum Suit body).  Beyond that, everything else is new to this figure.  There’s a second head included, with another go at an unmasked Steve Rogers.  I liked the Studios unmasked head a lot, but I think this one beats it.  They really got Evans’ look from the movie down.  The build of the body takes note from the IW release, and bulks Cap up a fair bit, so he no longer looks quite as shrimpy when compared to the other MCU releases.  The detailing on the uniform is some of the best we’ve seen on a  Hasbro Cap, with the “scales” on his torso and shoulders being a real highlight of the figure.  I also quite like how they’ve made the shoulder pads floating pieces, so that they can slip over the torso when you’re posing him.  It helps to preserve the look and avoid restricting his motion on his shoulders.  The paintwork on this Cap is pretty good, thought I will say parts of it are a step down from other recent releases.  Both heads make use of the face printing, which looks very nice as always.  The paint on the helmet is also improved from the Studios release, which I was quit happy about.  The rest of the body is far more basic in its application, and also quite sloppy in several spots, especially on the abdomen.  It’s not as bad as some of the stuff we used to get from Hasbro, but it could definitely be much better.  In addition to his unmasked head, Cap also gets two more extras.  The first is his shield, which uses the sculpt from the Studios release, but this time has a fancy battle-damaged paint scheme.  Unfortunately, his left hand is still in a fist, so he can’t quite hold it right.  Fortunately, the hands can be swapped between this and the IW release, should you want a gripping hand.  His final accessory is rather cleverly hidden behind his shield in the package.  It’s Mjolnir, which he wields in epic fashion during Endgame‘s final battle.  It’s just a re-use of the previous MCU mold, but it’s still a fun inclusion, and it was nice of them to hide it in the package.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I noted in my review of the basic release of this costume, I walked out of the theatre ready to buy a figure of this design.  It was my assumption that he’d be showing up in one of the regular assortments later down the line, but I did have a little concern in the back of my mind that he might wind up as an exclusive of some sort.  I was non-plussed to find out it was Walmart.  Fortunately, I found him with only a few stops, but it did require me buying a figure with a sincerely jacked up package.  This figure is a really, really good figure, and the MCU Cap I’ve been wanting ever since Hasbro stepped up their MCU game.  He’s the definitive MCU Cap, and making him an exclusive to a chain who is notoriously bad about actually getting their exclusives out there seems like a serious misstep on Hasbro’s part.  My only hope is that they have some sort of an ace up their sleeve on this one.  He’s got a lot of new parts for a one-off release, and I can’t stress enough that he really feels like too big a figure just to be a Walmart exclusive.  Time will tell.  Until then, hopefully this figure won’t be too hard to find.

#2060: Cobra B.A.T.s Army Building Set

COBRA B.A.T.S ARMY BUILDING SET

G.I. JOE VS COBRA (HASBRO)

1986 was a good year for G.I. Joe, if you’re me at least.  Not only was my all time favorite army builder, the Cobra Viper, introduced that year, but so was my second all time favorite army builder, the Cobra Battle Android Trooper, better known as the Cobra B.A.T.  After two variants in the vintage line, the B.A.T.s disappeared from G.I. Joe for over a decade, but would return triumphantly in 2002, as the backbone of Cobra’s forces during the “Sound Attack” iteration.  They got a brand-new sculpt in the main line, as well as an online-exclusive rerelease of some old molds, designed expressly for army building.  I’ll be looking at the latter today.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The Cobra B.A.T.s Army Building set was available exclusively through online retailers in 2003.  The line-up was not quite the one seen here, as it actually had one less standard B.A.T., one more Inferno B.A.T., and the commanding officer Overkill.  They were, however, all sold sealed in little baggies, which means that getting them after the fact is pretty much always going to involve buying a bunch of loose figures.

COBRA B.A.T.S

This was the fourth version of the basic B.A.T. to grace the line.  He stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has 15 points of articulation (again including an extra joint on the right forearm).  Since (most of) the original B.A.T. tooling was lost prior to the line’s re-launch in 1997 (part of the reason there was such a gap on B.A.T. figures), this figure instead is built on the body of the V2 B.A.T.  It’s not the same, and really just not as strong a design as the original, but the original was gone, and this is far from the worst substitute.  It’s overall a slightly bulked up B.A.T., apart from the head, which is actually quite a bit pared down from the usual B.A.T. design.  It’s definitely a lot less of a melding of sci-fi and military, falling more firmly on the sci-fi side.  While it results on a figure that’s more internally consistent, it does also remove some of the more definitive flair of the original concept.  This one could really be any sci-fi-robo-henchman.  The main thing that this figure does to the V2 is try and give it the V2 colors, which is an interesting experiment.  I’m not sure how I feel about a ’90s Joe sculpt that’s not done up in its proper neon.  It’s not an displeasing look at all, but it’s definitely different.  Like his predecessors, he’s got the lenticular in his torso, detailing his robotic innards, and I will say that this one is designed to stay more firmly in place than the original, which is certainly a plus.  The B.A.T.s each included an alternate gun-arm attachment, as well as a black display stand.

COBRA INFERNO B.A.T.

Not content to just give us a bunch of standard B.A.T.s, Hasbro also created a new style of B.A.T. for this set, the Inferno B.A.T.  Designed as more independently operating troops, they also had a gimmick where they were always overheating, which gave them the distinctive design we see here.  The body is the same as the standard-issue trooper, but now it’s molded in a translucent red.  It’s actually a pretty solid look, and the brighter palette just feels “right” on this sculpt.  He had the same stand as his fellow troops, but swaps out the black gun-arm for a bright red one.  I dig it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I passed on these when they were new because I was upset that they weren’t the V1 mold.  I was a picky child.  I didn’t get them until a decade after their original release, when I fished these five out of the loose Joes bin at Yesterday’s Fun.  They didn’t have a second Inferno B.A.T. or an Overkill, so I just had to make due with what I got.  They’re not my favorite versions of the B.A.T., but they’ve grown on me, and I can definitely appreciate them for what they are.

#2057: Captain America

CAPTAIN AMERICA

AVENGERS: ENDGAME (HASBRO)

So, now that all of the hype for the Quantum Suits has died down a bit, we can finally set our focus on the suits that the characters actually wear for most of the film’s run-time.  Of all the characters in the movie, Cap is the one with the most suits on-hand, donning his STRIKE suit for the first act, a replica of his first Avengers costume for the second, and then finally getting an all-new costume for the rest of the film’s run-time, which most notably is featured during the film’s huge climactic battle.  That’s the suit that pretty much everyone wants, but, apart from the Titan Heroes release, it wasn’t really available at the time of the film’s release.  Fortunately, it’s at the forefront of a lot of the post-film stuff, including Hasbro’s basic figure line.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Captain America is part of the second series of basic Avengers: Endgame figures, which appear to have started showing up in force right at the end of May.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and has 11 points of articulation.  Like prior figures in this style, the scaling is just a touch smaller than a Legends figure, so Cap’s not quite going to fit it, but he wouldn’t be terrible in a pinch.  I still don’t know why Hasbro can’t give these guys knee joints, since it’s really the only joint holding them back, but they seem dead-set on sticking to their guns on this one.  This Cap is, of course, sporting his newest costume, which continues the evolution of the design first launched in Winter Soldier.  This time around it maneuvers even closer to his classic comics appearance by mimicking the scale-mail of his classic costume in the patterning on the torso and shoulder segments.  It adds an extra bit of flair to the costume, which this release takes advantage of.  The sculpt, which is all new, is a little bit stiff, what with the lack of certain articulation, but is otherwise a very well-detailed, overall very movie-accurate recreation of the uniform. The detail work, especially on the torso, is very sharp, and the likeness on the head is about as good a match for Evans as any of the Legends. Also, for the first time since the first Avengers movie, we get a Captain America with a grip on the left hand, so he can actually hold his shield properly!  One fun little side thing I did notice was that the head was a little loose on its ball-joint, which has the unintended benefit of making this particular head compatible with the Legends Quantum Suit body, should you prefer this helmet to the one we got.  Yes, it’s still inaccurate, but now you can choose your preferred inaccuracy!  The paintwork on this figure is a bit of a step down from a Legends offering, since he’s half the price and all.  He gets the basics, and they’re pretty good at that.  No fancy printed face or anything, but on a helmeted head, it’s less of an issue. There are some smaller details that are missing, but it kind of comes with the territory.  Cap is packed with his shield, which is a re-use of the most recent Legends iteration, albeit with slightly downgraded paint.  It’s nice that they’re using this same mold, especially if you’re looking for an easy spare for customizing purposes.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I walked out of Endgame desperately wanting a figure of Cap in this costume.  I’m a self-admitted Cap fan, and this is definitely my favorite of his MCU designs.  With the Legends release uncertain (at least at the time I got him), this figure was an easy purchase.  I’m not gunning for him to be my go-to Cap or anything, but this guy’s definitely not a bad figure for the price.

#2056: Hawkeye & Black Widow

HAWKEYE & BLACK WIDOW

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

From the ranks of SHIELD to the growing team of Avengers, Black Widow and Hawkeye put their expert training to use as they suit up to defend their world and universe from intergalactic threats.”

There sure was a lot of pre-movie hype built around the Avengers’ Quantum Suits in Endgame, and then…well, let’s just say they aren’t overly present for much of the film.  But, I suppose they did get that grand entrance, and they were certainly an intriguing new design.  They’re also a decent way of getting out a fair number of the main characters out with as much shared tooling as possible.  I’ve looked at one Legends offering of the Quantum Suit (worn by Captain America), and now I’m following it up with fellow founding Avengers Hawkeye and Black Widow!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Hawkeye and Widow are a Target-exclusive two-pack of Marvel Legends, and started arriving at shelves right around the film’s release date.

HAWKEYE

After quite an absence from the toy realm, Clint Barton has been pretty well-served by the initial Endgame product, with a whole two Legends figures, right out of the gate.  No body else got that!  Well, okay, Cap’s almost getting that, since the Walmart-exclusive is already hitting, just over a month after the first figure, but let’s not sully Hawkeye’s good fortune.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and has 32 points of articulation.  This guy is mostly made up of re-used parts, being identical to the Quantum Suit Cap from the neck down.  It’s really not a surprise, especially given the slightly more averaged proportions of the body.  It’s also supposed to be the same suit on everybody, so I guess it’s a sensible choice.  Hawkeye gets a brand-new head sculpt, sporting Clint’s radical new hair, or at least an approximation of it.  It’s also got probably the best Renner likeness we’ve seen from Hasbro (although Super Awesome Fiancee says he does have enough of a “dad” look to really be Hawkeye), and is generally a nice offering.  It has the added benefit of looking pretty nice on the Ronin body, should you want his look from most of the movie.  The paint on Hawkeye is about what you’d expect.  The head sports the face-printing tech, which looks nice and lifelike, and the body is an exact match for the paint on the Cap figure.  Hawkeye is packed with his bow, re-used from his first Avengers figure.  Befitting the “lots of characters from the same shared tooling”, he also includes two alternate heads, for Iron Man and Ant-Man.  They’re re-used from the IW Thanos and the Cull Obsidian series figures respectively.  Not at all accurate, but hey, that hasn’t stopped these figures before.

BLACK WIDOW

Widow was represented in the Infinity War toys, but thus far has had a much sparser selection for Endgame, with this being her only planned figure from Hasbro, at least so far.  I wouldn’t be shocked if that changes going forward, though.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and has 29 points of articulation.  Widow’s sporting an all-new sculpt.  It’s a solid match for the male version of the suit, and it’s in fact a little better, at least from a proportions stand-point.  The head is sporting a very nice likeness of Scarlet Johansen, which, again, I’d say is the best version of her likeness we’ve gotten from Hasbro.  It’s also sized well to fit on the Infinity War Widow body, if you want her non-Quantum-Suited.  The paint on Widow matches pretty decently with Hawkeye’s, so it’s another very strong offering.  I especially like that they got that little bit of blonde at the end of her ponytail.  Widow is packed with her twin batons (re-used from the Infinity War release), as well as an extra head and pistol so she can be used as Nebula (both re-used from the Mantis Series figure).

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This set was a little scarce around the movie’s release, what with the hype and whatnot.  I was searching for a little while without much luck, and kind of gave up, honestly.  Then the power went out a few weeks ago, and we had to run out for dinner and some supplies, and I just happened to wander past the toy aisle and, boom, there they were.  While having the quantum suits doesn’t mean as much to me, I’m definitely glad to have the new heads for Nat and Clint.

#2047: Caliban

CALIBAN

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

In the early ’80s, it occurred to Chris Claremont that the X-Men were generally pretty attractive and normal-looking for a bunch of so-called “mutants,” so he introduced the Morlocks (named after the creatures from HG Wells’ The Time Machine), a band of sewer-dwelling mutants whose mutations weren’t as presentable as the more heroic X-Men.  One of the more prominent Morlocks, Caliban, actually wasn’t originally intended to be one of them and even predated their 1983 appearance by two years.  He’s subsequently served as an ongoing recurring character in the background of various X-Men stories, and has in his tenure been part of the X-Men, X-Factor, X-Force, and has even been one of Apocalypse’s Horsemen on two separate occasions.  Despite being around for a good long while, he’s not been graced with an abundance of figures, with a single figure during Toy Biz’s 5-inch run.  That’s finally changed, though!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Caliban is the Build-A-Figure for the latest X-themed series of Marvel Legends.  In keeping with the ’90s theme of the line-up, he’s based on his design during his time as the Horseman Death for Apocalypse.  Yeah, now we’ve got two of the Four Horsemen, and their both the same role…bleh.  Of all of Caliban’s designs, this one’s really the easiest to sell as a toy, which is probably why both of his toys, released two decades apart, are sporting this same design.  The figure stands 8 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  Caliban makes use of a number of parts from last year’s Apocalypse, specifically the arms and upper legs.  The rest is new, with the head and hands in particular being the most character specific.  They’re nicely crafted parts, and provide some nice expressiveness.  The screaming expression on the face in particular seems very well-suited to this incarnation of the character.  The other parts I can definitely see having been designed with future re-use for other bulked up characters.  The new torso actually makes him a little bigger than Apocalypse, for what it’s worth.  The most impressive bits of Caliban’s paintwork are definitely the head and hands, which do a nice job of keeping Caliban’s exposed skin from being just a stark white.  The head even uses some slight printing around the eyes for a more subtle transition between colors.  The paint on his uniform is a bit more straightforward.  There’s a bit more slop here than on the single offerings, but I definitely dig the pearlescent white.  Caliban includes no accessories, but then again, he’s kind of an accessory himself.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve never had much of an affinity for Caliban.  He sort of falls right into the gap of my X-Men fandom, since I’m really big on the ’70s stuff, then dip out, and then come back into things for the Animated Series era.  Caliban’s not really part of either of those things, nor is he a design that I really feel like I *need* to have.  Ultimately, this figure is a pretty serviceable one, and while I don’t think he’s going to be BaF of the year, he’s still a decent offering.  Maybe he’ll open the doors to some more Morlocks.

Despite a less than thrilling Build-A-Figure, I was very happy with this assortment as a whole.  Gambit steals the show for me, but Beast, Blink, and Weapon X are all respectably cool offerings, Forge and Skullbuster are decent figures of characters I didn’t *need* to have, and Jubilee is at least an improvement on the really hard to find BaF.  This continues the trend of X-waves just being really solid complete sets.   If you’re interested in getting a set of your own, five of the seven single figures are still in-stock at All Time Toys’ webstore.  And, as always, if you’re looking for other toys both old and new, please check out All Time’s website and their eBay storefront.

#2046: Skullbuster

SKULLBUSTER

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

An enemy of the X-Men, the cyborg Skullbuster is a member of the villainous gang called the Reavers.”

Introduced in 1988, the Reavers are a concept that’s sort of been in the background of the X-Men mythos since their introduction.  They’re not super high concept or anything, they’re just cyborg mercs who tend to make for good fodder for Wolverine to cut up from time to time.  I became familiar with them through their spot on X-Men: The Animated Series, but they also figured into the plot of 2017’s Logan.  None of the members of the group have ever really made it big (apart from their original leader Lady Deathstrike), so they’re haven’t really been toys galore for them.  But, hey, Skullbuster got a figure, so maybe things are looking up!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Skullbuster is figure 6 in the Caliban Series of Marvel Legends, and is our only single-carded antagonist this time around.  Skullbuster’s spot as the Reaver in this assortment was undoubtedly chosen because a) he’s somewhat distinctive and b) he doesn’t require much new tooling.  Bonecrusher’s definitely more distinct, but he’s got that freaking tank half to contend with.  Also, as an added bonus, Skullbuster’s the Reaver taken out by Forge during their siege on Muir Island, so he ties in with the rest of the set pretty well.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  Skullbuster is a reskin of last year’s Deathlok, which I can’t say is super surprising.  It was an all-new sculpt that, up til now, had seen no re-use.  A new head, vest, and ammo belt completes the transformation from ‘lok to ‘buster.  The end result isn’t a perfect mach for any established Skullbuster designs, it’s a good approximation, and he’s really one of those character where approximation’s really good enough.  The important thing here is that he looks distinct from the Deathlok figure, which he does.  The paintwork on Skullbuster is on the drab side, which I suppose is appropriate for the character.  I do somewhat wish they’d opted for the red skull look, instead of the white, but they made it work.  Otherwise, the application’s all pretty clean, and the palette is well-chosen.  Skullbuster includes the smaller gun that came with Deathlok, as well as an extra headsculpt for Reaver Reese, one of the three ex-Hellfire Guard members who joined the group when Donald Pierce took over.  It’s a cool head, and I feel certain we’ll be seeing it re-painted for Cole and Macon down the line. Skullbuster also includes the right arm of the BaF Caliban.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve got no major attachment to the Reavers, apart from their spot on X-Men: TAS, so I wasn’t beating down the door to get them.  That said, Skullbuster’s got a cool look and is built on a base I liked, so I had no complaints about his inclusion in this line-up, especially not when they showed off the extra Reese head as well.  I don’t have a ton to say about this guy, but he’s kind of fun.

I picked up Skullbuster from All Time Toys, and he’s still currently in-stock at their store, here. And, if you’re looking for other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2045: Jubilee

JUBILEE

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

The mutant Jubilee generates pyrotechnic energy blasts that she calls fireworks, capable of blinding enemies or causing serious damage.”

When Kitty Pryde was added to the X-Men line-up, one of the more unlikely pairings on the team was between her and the gruff loner Wolverine.  It was a particularly humanizing dynamic for Logan, and one that went over quite well with the fanbase.  When it came time to move Kitty on in her story and haver her forge out on her own, the writers were faced with the the dilemma of losing that humanizing element for Wolverine, and decided that the best thing to do was give him a new teenage girl to pal around with.  It’s been a wash-rinse-repeat cycle of that pretty much ever since, but the first character in said cycle was today’s focus, Jubilation Lee, aka Jubilee.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Jubilee is figure 5 in the Caliban Series of Marvel Legends.  She’s pretty much in a permanent face-off with Gambit for the best deserving of “most appropriate for a ’90s-centric line-up).   This is Jubilee’s second Legends release, and in the space of five years no-less; the last one was the Build-A-Figure for the first post-Infinite Series X-Men assortment, which was a TRU-exclusive and also really hard to find.  On top of that, she was sort of a compromised mix of classic and modern, which didn’t really suit itself to a proper ’90s Jubilee.  This one, on the other hand, is unabashed about which incarnation of the character it’s meant to be.  The figure stands 5 3/4 inches tall and she has 32 points of articulation.  Jubilee is built on a body that’s definitely inspired by the Spider-Girl base, but I don’t know that they have any actual parts in common, as Jubilee’s sculpt is decidedly character-specific.  I like it for the most part, but after several slam-dunk sculpts this time around, I will admit to being slightly underwhelmed with Jubilee’s finished product.  The body’s fine, and features solid work on the clothing elements.  The head, or should I say heads, because there’s two of them, is a respectable effort, but both seem a little…bland?  Expressionless?  I like the bubble gum blowing head, but I really wish one of these two sculpts had a grin or something.  The dour expression doesn’t feel right to me.  Also, call me crazy, but the clear glasses seem wrong to me; I know that’s how they’d look in real life, but I always think of them as being more opaque.  And the fact that they’re glued in place on the standard head seems kind of criminal, since more often than not she had the glasses up on her forehead.  The biggest issue, I feel, isn’t with the head or the body, but rather how they connect.  Neither head sits all the way down on the peg, and while it doesn’t look terrible from the front, it looks downright awful from the back. On the plus side, Jubilee’s paint work is appropriately bright, colorful, eye-catching, and obnoxious.  I wouldn’t want that any other way.  In addition to the extra head, Jubilee is packed with the largest piece of Caliban, his torso.  That’s it.  No effects pieces or anything, which feels like a missed opportunity.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I really wanted to build the last Jubilee, but was never given the chance to.  When a single release was announced, I was definitely on board.  In hand?  I think Jubilee might be my biggest disappointment in the set.  It’s not entirely Hasbro’s fault.  For all her flaws, this isn’t a terrible figure, but it’s a compromised one.  And, as the first proper ’90s Jubilee figure ever, it had a lot riding on it for me.  And in that regard, it ultimately came up just a little bit short.