#2009: Iron Man

IRON MAN

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

Hey, remember when Hasbro was trying to get a 12-inch-scale line of Marvel Legends up and running?  Pepperidge Farm The North The Figure in Question remembers.  Sadly, it seems it was not to be.  Despite getting a big push at their launch in 2016, and putting out some really solid releases going into 2018, the line never seemed to secure its footing.  Well, I guess now I can go back and look at a few odd figures here and there that I missed.  Chief among them, Iron Man, the subject of today’s review!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Iron Man was a 2016 release for the line.  Though he didn’t arrive at stores quite at the same time as Cap and Spidey, he wasn’t too far behind.  He also seemed to be a slightly more popular release, since he didn’t seem to hand around as much as some others.  More than some of the others in this line, Iron Man’s design seen here is an amalgam of many different appearances.  He’s clearly getting a lot of movie influence, but there are also some definite traces of Tony’s more recent comics armors cropping up in there.  In this respect, he pairs off quite nicely with the similarly designed Captain America and Thor figures.  The figure stands just shy of 12 inches tall and he has 34 points of articulation.  His sculpt is unique to him, and unlike a lot of the figures in this line, it doesn’t really seem to have any common ancestry with one of the 6-inch sculpts.  It’s appropriately cleaner and sleeker than the Cap sculpt was.  I appreciate that, unlike a lot of larger-scale Iron Men, he doesn’t feel too hollow or light-weight.  The sculpt manages to check-off most of the usual Iron Man armor elements, with hard line-work and technical details weaved throughout.  As with all of the other larger Legends I’ve looked at, you can really see Hasbro’s sculptors taking advantage of the larger canvas presented to them by this scale.  Perhaps my favorite piece of the whole figure is the arc reactor, whose handling is totally a “larger canvas” situation.  It’s a fully sculpted, three dimensional item, topped off with a clear piece over top.  There’s pretty much no way to cost-effectively do this sort of thing on a smaller figure, but it sure looks really nice here.  The figure maneuvers itself away from being too movie-inspired largely by way of the suit’s proportions, which definitely err more on the side of comic book idealized proportions.  The prospect of an actual person in the suit is a little diminished, but it’s also in keeping with the general style of the rest of this line’s figures.  I particularly like the clean silhouette this figure gives his design.  He’s a lot less segmented than the smaller figures have been.  His paintwork is actually pretty minor.  The reds are all molded, with everything else painted on top.  I do quite like the hue of gold they’ve chosen (it properly reads as yellow when lit), and I dig the energy effects on the mini-reactors on his forearms.  Iron Man is packed with an extra Tony Stark head (the clearest example of “this isn’t a movie figure” in the box), plus two sets of hands (with fists and repulsor blast posing), and a pair of repulsor blast effects.  Compared to figures like Cap, Panther, and especially Wolverine, that’s kind of light, but it’s about the same as what Spidey got.  My figure lacks the second fist and repulsor blast, due to the circumstances of how I got him.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I very favorably reviewed Cap when he came out.  Why didn’t I grab this guy?  I honestly don’t know.  I saw him when he was new, and thought about getting him.  However, I was about to move, and finances weren’t really certain, and then I didn’t see him again for a while.  I kind of forgot about him to be honest.  Last year, I ended up picking up several other figures from the line, and I’ve had them up on the shelf, with sort of this Iron Man-shaped hole.  So, when this guy was traded into All Time Toys loose, only missing two accessories, I went ahead and grabbed him.  He’s not the centerpiece of the line or anything, and the later figures definitely out-paced him, but he’s still a fine figure.  It’s a shame Hasbro couldn’t really find the market for these.

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#2007: Autobot Jazz

AUTOBOT JAZZ

TRANSFORMERS: STUDIO SERIES (HASBRO)

Autobot Jazz brings all he’s got to defeat the Decepticons”

Sometimes, the time is really right.  For review #2007, I’m jumping back to the year 2007.  2007 was a weird time.  We had two Marvel movies, which isn’t that odd these days, but they were neither one an MCU entry (because the MCU didn’t exist yet).  But before Marvel could re-brand their film franchises, another one was just starting up.  That July saw the release of the first of the oft-reviled Michael Bay Transformers films.  I was never a huge Transformers fan, but I was still in the audience opening weekend, and I still came out…less than satisfied.  In fact, I think a good argument could be made that the film scared me off the franchise for a bit.  Needless to say, I generally avoid Bay-inspired figures, though I’ve made my first exception for the subject of today’s review, one of my personal favorite Autobots, the aptly named Autobot Jazz!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Autobot Jazz is a Deluxe Class offering from Hasbro’s Transformers: Studio Series, where he is numbered figure 10, and hit shelves in July of last year.  Given his demise during the first film, Jazz has been less lucky with releases since the original 2007 line.  This figure marks his first domestic release since all the way back in 2010, which is a pretty big deal.  In his Robot mode, the figure stands a little over 5 1/4 inches tall and he has 19 practical points of articulation.  Size-wise, he’s just a little bit taller than Bumblebee.  Given the scaling and price-point, Jazz is a fairly respectable recreation of his robot mode from the movie.  Not all of the details match up 100%, but the general proportions are there, and the robot specific parts are pretty much spot on.  It’s really the remaining elements of the car form that are slightly throwing off the look, and mostly limited to the arms.  Ultimately, it’s just down to needing a little bit of compromise to actually make things work at this scale and in order to maintain transformability.  While Jazz’s original alt mode was a Porsche, for the 2007 movie, it was changed to a Pontiac Solstice, which is still a reasonably sporty model, though it’s decidedly less distinctive.  Whatever the case, this figure maintains its accuracy by giving him the proper alt mode.  The transformation between the two forms is a little less tricky than the Bumblebee, but still a little more fiddly than the Siege figures I’ve been getting.  Overall, though, it was less frustrating than I was anticipating.  The end result is a pretty decent little car, though, like Bumblebee, he’s got a tendency to pop apart at the seams from time to time.  But, as is the usual case, I was more in this one for the robot mode.  Jazz is packed with his crescent cannon, which he can either hold in his left hand, or his hands can flip into the forearm to allow it to attach directly to the wrist.  It’s a nice little feature.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Jazz was an impulse buy.  Well, he was as close to an impulse buy as I ever really get.  I saw him at Walmart on my way home from work and passed.  Later that same evening, I was out to dinner with Super Awesome Fiancee, and passed by the Walmart again, at which point I caved and went back for him.  Though I’ve never really cared for most of the Bay film designs, Jazz is one of the few I didn’t hate, and his death in the film was perhaps one of my biggest complaints about it.  This guy makes for a pretty decent toy, and I’m glad I went back for him.

#2003: Professor X

PROFESSOR X

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Professor Charles Xavier, better known as Professor X, is a highly gifted telepath and scientific genius who develops the Cerebro device to aid in the ability to control and manipulate psionic abilities.”

Professor X is a character that doesn’t seem outwardly like he’d make for a lot of really good action figures, but he sure does have quite a few.  I guess naming the team after yourself is a good way to make yourself essential to a line-up.  It helps that toy companies have actually gotten pretty decent at squeezing some cool concepts out of his figures.  Despite their usual knack for adding interesting touches to their figures, the original Toy Biz Marvel Legends Xavier, is one of his less thrilling toy entries, not doing much to move past his “bald guy in a suit sitting in a wheelchair.”  He was also released 14 years ago, so it seems like a good time for an update, especially with all these X-Men Legends we’ve been getting lately!  Fortunately, Hasbro was more than happy to deliver that update.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Professor X is the second figure in the third series of the Legendary Riders sub-line of Marvel Legends.  The “rider” tag seems like a *little* bit more of a stretch for Xavier, but becomes more sensible when you take into account that Hasbro’s gone with the ’90s hoverchair version of the character.  The actual basic figure on his own stands 6 1/4 inches tall and has 30 points of articulation.  He’s built on the basic suited body, which is a sensible choice for Xavier, what with him tending to be a guy in a suit and all.  I’ll admit, I’m still hoping to see his tactical jumpsuit from the ’90s, but there’s no denying this is the more distinctive look, and it’s a lot of re-use, which I’m sure Hasbro was fond of.  Xavier has a new head and hands, both of which are well tailored to the body.  The head’s perhaps a little more on the cartoony side than I was expecting, especially given the general Jim Lee-inspired nature of this figure and the others he’s meant to go with.  With that said, after getting him in hand, I don’t mind the appearance so much, though I can understand why it’s not for everyone.  I do really like the new hands, though, and they’re just pure classic Xavier poses.  Xavier’s suit is green, a new color for this mold, with a stylish blue and black striped tie, just like he used to sport on the animated series.  But enough about the main figure.  Though he may be the title item, he’s not the main selling point here.  No, that would be his hoverchair.  Introduced in the ’90s as a more hi-tech replacement for the wheelchair in which he’d spent three decades, the hoverchair was really only at the forefront of the comics during the ’90s.  Of course, the X-Men were at the height of their popularity, and they got a cartoon, meaning the chair is the go-to look for Xavier for a whole bunch of fans.  It’s also got a little bit of that “one that got away” thing going for it; Toy Biz’s Xavier was originally supposed to have its own version, but it was cut from the release when they decided to offer Galactus as a Build-A-Figure.  In the 14 years since, we’ve been patiently waiting to finally see it show up in this scale.  Hasbro previously offered up this design at a smaller scale as part of their Marvel Universe line, but since he was offered as a standard figure, the chair was rather downsized and compressed.  This time, a focus has been placed on making the chair as accurately proportioned as possible.  It’s split down the middle in the package, but assembles easily enough, and stays together once assembled.  The sculpt is cleanly defined, with a nice, mechanized fixture appearance on the outside, and a nice stitched-leather looking interior.  Additionally, the armrests slide open, in a similar fashion to the old TB 5-inch figure, giving us a view of a pair of hidden consoles.  In order to simulate his hovering, the chair has a little exhaust effect piece that plugs into the bottom, keeping it stably held aloft.  Xavier slides into the chair without much fuss, and can be easily removed, so you’ve got your options.  The figure and the chair is a pretty impressive package already, but this set also includes a few more extras.  There’s always a threat of Xavier’s legs getting cold in a big metal chair like this, so to fight off that cold, he’s got himself a blanket.  It’s something that always accompanied the chair in the comics, and in this case it slips over Xavier’s legs to help hold him in place when in the chair.  Also included is Xavier’s Cerebro helmet, along with a clip-on effect piece for added dynamics.  Lastly, following the “accent another figure” trend that Hasbro’s gotten so into recently, there’s also a head included for Xavier’s long-time foe, Amahl Farouk, better known as the Shadow King.  It’s designed to fit the body of the recent Kingpin BaF, and it’s a pretty pitch-perfect fit.  It captures his design well, and I really dig those removable glasses.  I do sort of wish I had an extra Kingpin figure now, though.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve been waiting for this figure for 14 years.  I still have the TB figure, but only because I bought him to finish my Galactus.  He’s never stayed up on the shelf, and he certainly hasn’t had a spot with all the Hasbro figures.  I’ve always been partial to the hoverchair look, and I was definitely looking to see it done proper justice.  I’m happy to say this release undeniably does it that justice.  He’ll be a nice centerpiece for the ever growing ’90s X-Men figures to be sure.  Throw in a pretty sweet Shadow King head, and you’ve got another winning set.

Like yesterday’s Deadpool, this set was purchased from my friends at All Time Toys.  He’s currently out of stock, but they’ll be getting him back in soon. And, if you’re looking for other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2002: Deadpool Corps Scooter

DEADPOOL CORPS SCOOTER

MARVEL LEGENDS: LEGENDARY RIDERS (HASBRO)

“Vroom vroom, baby.  It is I, Deadpool, and my merry heard of fluffy-tailed friends. All aboard, dirty-pawed brethren!  It’s ride-off-into-the-sunset time.”

It’s been exactly 200 reviews since I did my last Deadpool-centric review.  Time for another one?  Might as well be.  So, why a Deadpool review?  Well, let’s put some context on this one: just a little over a year ago, Hasbro launched the Legendary Riders sub-set of their popular Marvel Legends line.  It’s focus is, as you might expect, on providing some of their Legends with their rides.  Deadpool is just one of the lucky ones to get focussed on for this last go-round.  But, it’s not just Deadpool all by his lonesome, he’s bringing some of his Deadpool Corps teammates with him!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Since his re-appearance in the Juggernaut Series, there have been no shortage of Deadpool figures in Hasbro’s Legends line-up.  Just last year, he got four separate 6-inch releases.  Now he’s gotten one more.  This one’s another go at a default Deadpool, though he’s wearing a different derivation of his costume than the Juggernaut or Sasquatch Series releases.  This one goes back to Deadpool’s appearance from around the mid-00s, right about when his popularity really started to spike.  This is most clearly denoted by the y-shaped harness that he sported at the time, which is also seen on this figure.  I’m not as big a fan of this particular look, but it’s been a few years since it got a Legends release, and at least it’s something different.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and has 32 points of articulation.  As you might expect, he’s largely made up of re-used parts.  The bulk of the figure uses the same construction as the Juggernaut Series release, though he swaps out the harness piece for the one from the 2008 figure.  That figure was built on the Bullseye body, so the harness isn’t a perfect fit, but it’s close enough that it doesn’t look out of place on this figure.  The one new contribution here is the head, which is stylistically consistent with the prior DP head, but now depicts his eyes wide-open, and his mouth clearly agape under the mask.  It suits the incredibly goofy nature of this entire set very well, and I think it may well be my favorite of Hasbro’s Deadpool heads.  Deadpool’s paint work is a bit of a conundrum.  On it’s own, it’s a nice paint job.  It’s clean and bright, and suits the character well.  So, what’s the problem?  It doesn’t match either the dark red of the Juggernaut Deadpool or the exceedingly bright red of the Sauron Series Deadpools, meaning that there’s no way to swap the various expressions between the figures.  It’s a definite missed opportunity if you ask me.  Deadpool is armed with a pair of katana, which he can stow in the sheaths on his back.  They’re gold instead of the usual silver, which is a nice change of pace.

THE VEHICLE ITSELF

Deadpool may not be defined by his ride, but the image of him looking super goofy while riding around on an appropriately color-matched vespa has become fairly common place in the cultural lexicon, and is a sensible choice here.  It measures 4 inches tall by about 5 inches long.  It’s got working wheels and can properly steer, and all that jazz.  It’s also got a working kickstand to keep it upright most of the time.  The sculpt is actually really nicely handled.  The shaping is clean and sharp, and everything flows together quite well.  It’s also a very unique looking item, with less re-use potential than Widow’s cycle had.  It also doesn’t have the obvious screws that the cycle had, which I count as a very definite plus in this vehicle’s favor.  The scooter has it’s own specific accessory, a little horn to mount on the handle bars.  It also includes a sheet of stickers for customization, but I don’t see myself using that much.  The most important extras, though, aren’t for the scooter, but instead accent the included Deadpool.  We get figurines of both Dogpool and Squirrelpool.  Dogpool is articulated at the arms and neck, and can be mounted on the scooter.  Squirrelpool is unarticulated, but can be placed on Dogpool’s back.  Also included is an extra head, for a figure that’s not even in this set.  Whose head is it?  Why it’s only Deadpool’s bestest sidekick ever, Bob: Agent of Hydra!  It’s perfectly matched the standard Hydra Trooper from the Agents of Hydra two-pack, which is still quite readily available, making this a rather ingenious extra.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Okay, so, admittedly, this set wasn’t at the top of my list or anything when it was shown off, because it was shown off at the same time as the outwardly more impressive Professor X.  Also, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little worn out on Deadpool.  That being said, I did used to be a fan back in the day, and the confirmation of the extra head for Bob really swayed me quite a bit.  Plus, I was also getting an Xavier, and I felt compelled to grab them both at once.  I’m actually really happy I did.  This is probably the best package deal of all the vehicle sets.  You get a solid, unique variant of a main character, a quite well-crafted vehicle, and a bunch of fun little extra characters.  I dig it.  I dig it quite a bit.

This set was purchased from my friends at All Time Toys, and it’s currently available from their store, here. And, if you’re looking for other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2001: Dryden Vos

DRYDEN VOS

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

The public face of the Crimson Dawn crime syndicate, Dryden Vos is a contradiction: a pitiless enforcer known as a gangster of wealth and taste.  His good manners shouldn’t be mistaken for weakness, though: he can change from generous host to ruthless killer in a moment.”

Solo‘s antagonist Dryden Vos had quite a time making it into toy form, largely due to the character having even more of a time making it to the big screen.  He was originally to be played by actor Micheal K. Williams, who filmed his scenes wearing motion-capture gear in order to facilitate the character being a CGI character of some sort.  When Ron Howard took over as the film’s director, Williams was unavailable for re-shoots, and the character was still without an actual final design.  Short on time and money, Howard cast his frequent collaborator Paul Bettany (whose text asking for a role is so perfectly in character) in the part, and changed his design from a CGI monster to…Paul Bettany, but with some scars.  Ultimately, it seems to have worked out pretty well, as Bettany’s turn as Vos was one of my favorite parts of the movie.  Of course, all of the shifting around with the character meant that he was almost completely absent from merchandise.  His first figure from Hasbro arrived on shelves almost a whole year after the initial Solo product launch, and I’ll be looking at it today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Dryden Vos is figure 79 in the Star Wars: The Black Series line-up.  He’s from the most recent assortment of figures, which just started showing up last month.  He’s one of two Solo figures in the line-up, the other being a Mudtrooper Han variant.  Dryden has two looks in the film, both following a fairly similar theme.  This figure is based on his initial appearance, when meeting with Han and Tobias after their botched heist.  Of the two designs, it’s the more visually striking, thus making it a solid choice for the figure.  He stands a little over 6 1/4 inches tall (Bettany’s a tall guy) and he has 29 points of articulation.  Dryden’s sculpt is an all-new affair, and it certainly captures Vos’ svelte nature pretty well.  As is common with Black Series sculpts, he can look a little off in some more extreme poses, but for the most part it works.  The head sports a pretty spot-on Bettany likeness, building on the already solid likeness we saw on last year’s Vision figure.  Dryden’s rather distinctive jacket/half-cape combo is rendered here through a separate overlay piece, which can be a little finicky when posing his left arm, but is otherwise a really sharp addition to the figure.  I’m glad they didn’t go the cloth route for this one and risk losing the visual sharpness of the design.  The piece *can* be removed from the figure, but it really doesn’t serve him well to do so, nor do we see him in this outfit without it, so on him it will stay.  There is one small inaccuracy to this figure’s sculpt: his thumbs.  One of the few “alien” aspects of the character’s design were his oddly pointy thumbs, a feature that this figure lacks.  That said, it’s a minor feature, and one that most people are likely to miss.  It hardly holds the figure back.  Dryden’s paintwork is full of nice, very subtle work, keeping all those darkly colored pieces of the costume distinct from each other.  The most impressive work is definitely on the face, though.  In the film, Dryden’s scars become redder and more visible when he gets angry, a feature replicated here through thermo-sensitive paint.  At room temperature, Dryden’s scars are faint, but when exposed to cold, they’ll flare up to a dark red.  It’s a really fun touch, and something that could be easily overlooked.  Dryden is packed with his pair of distinctive knives, which he uses to dispatch those who disappoint him in true Star Wars villain fashion.  Like Dryden himself, these are temperature sensitive, and will exhibit a bright orange hue at the ends when exposed to cold, simulating how they power up in the film.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I really liked Dryden in the film, and I was definitely bummed when no figures of him were available.  It’s been a long wait, but this guy hit Amazon for retail, allowing me to snag him pretty quickly.  Though perhaps not the franchise’s most pivotal character, Dryden is high in the running for my favorite Star Wars villain, and his figure absolutely did not disappoint.  He rounds out an already pretty awesome set of Solo figures.  Now, is it too much to ask for a Qi’ra that actually matches him?

#1996: Sideswipe

SIDESWIPE

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE (HASBRO)

In my trek into the world of Transformers, I’m kind of making my way through all of the standard classes.  I looked a Voyager Class first with Optimus, then followed that up with some Leader coverage with Magnus and Shockwave.  With the second wave of Siege product hitting right at this very minute, I’m going back and doing a little bit of catch-up, and jumping into the Deluxe Class with today’s focus, Sideswipe!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Sideswipe is one of the four figures in the first Deluxe Wave of War for Cybertron: Siege figures.  Like the rest of the line so far, he’s heavily influenced by his G1 design, which is really about as prominent as Sideswipe gets.  In his robot mode, the figure stands 5 inches tall and has 20 workable points of articulation.  Where many of the Siege figures are worn-in and battle-torn, Sideswipe’s robot mode is actually pretty clean and slick.  There’s some definite polish to the sculpt, and a lot of people have brought up that he almost looks like a mini-Masterpiece figure in this regard.  Still, as a lower price-point figure, there are some hollow sections of construction; the legs form in a way to conceal them, but the arms are just hanging out there.  Fortunately, the off-white plastic somewhat masks this issue, so he doesn’t end up looking too cheap. Sideswipe has a little bit of back-kibble where the roof of the car folds up on his back.  Like Optimus, it’s clearly there, but it’s svelte enough to not really ruin the figure’s silhouette.  Sideswipe’s original figure turned into a Lamborghini.  They obviously don’t have many of those around on Cybertron, so this figure instead turns into a slightly more generic Cybertronian sports car.  It’s not actually too far removed from Sideswipe’s usual alt-modes, but it fits the overall aesthetic of the line pretty well.  Sideswipes transformation into alt-mode was definitely the easiest of all the Siege figures I’ve picked up.  It’s quite intuitive, and not as involved as some of the others, making swapping him back and forth a rather easy endeavor.  Despite the simplicity of the transformation, the alt-mode is still a very nice piece in its own right.  It matches the robot for sleekness and holds together well.  Sideswipe is packed with two blasters, the W-10 Photo-Pulser Proton Launcher and the W-5 Gyro Blaster, which can be combined into the RR Gyrofuse Axleswitch Hyper-Blaster.  They can be held in his hands, or mounted on his shoulders, depending on your fancy.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Sideswipe was almost my first Siege figure.  When All Time first got in the deluxes in December, I came very close to buying him, but he ended up selling before I had the opportunity.  When the second round of them arrived in January, I had already gotten Optimus, but I felt like maybe the moment had passed.  You know, like a fool.  He ended up coming home with me a few weeks later, because I just kept finding myself looking at him.  I’m glad I bought one, because oh boy is he a nice figure, and a nice car.  I think this is the most I’ve enjoyed both forms of a Transformer.

As mentioned above, I picked this guy up from my friends at All Time Toys, where he is still currently in stock here.  If you’re looking for Transformers, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#1995: Captain Marvel – Starforce

CAPTAIN MARVEL — STAR FORCE

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

Using her intensive training from her days in the Air Force, Carol Danvers boldly leads an intergalactic fleet as Captain Marvel.”

Well, I gave one MCU-based Captain their due.  Why not jump on over to another?  Captain Marvel continues to perform very well at the box office, and will, without a doubt, follow in Black Panther’s footsteps, remaining in theaters even as its MCU successor Endgame arrives.  I looked at the movie’s main assortment of Marvel Legends right before the film hit theaters, but there was one figure I hadn’t managed to snag yet at that time, a variant of the main character that I’ll be taking a look at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Starforce Captain Marvel is a Target-exclusive Legends release.  She was impeccably timed, showing up at most stores within a week before or after the film’s release.  She was also a successful step forward in Target getting their exclusives up on their webstore, meaning she’s been a reasonably easy experience for most of the fans that wanted one.  As the name denotes, she’s based on Carol’s Starforce colors from the film.  The figure is a rather logical repaint of the standard Captain Marvel figure, meaning she stands the same height and has the same articulation.  While the sculpt is not a 100% perfect replica of her look from the movie, it’s still a good, solid offering, and its reuse here is kind of expected.  It’s decked out in a new color scheme, and, I have to say, I think this color set does the sculpt a lot of favors.  Obviously I’m not knocking her usual colors, but there’s something about this look that feels more dynamic and has more of a pop to it.  It makes the figure look pretty sufficiently different from the main release.  Carol gets the same masked/unmasked head selection as the standard release.  The helmeted head is understandably different, so as to match her uniform.  The unmasked head is also different, but in a much subtler, more than likely unintentional sense.  It still doesn’t look a whole lot like Brie Larson, but I’m warming up to it.  Following a trend that Hasbro’s been really getting into lately, this Carol figure isn’t *just* a Carol figure.  She also gets an extra head, hands, scarf, and rifle, allowing her to be turned into fellow Starforce member Minn-Erva.  Minn-Erva played a decently-sized role in the film, so it’s certainly nice to see her crop up, and it’s also a fantastic way of getting us an extra character out a necessary variant of the main character.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After rather easily acquiring the main assortment through All Time Toys, this figure was slightly more illusive (though mostly because I resisted doing the easier thing of just ordering one online), but I was able to find her within a week of seeing the movie.  I’m glad I did, because I really liked the Starforce design (probably owing a lot to my history as a Green Lantern fan), and it especially translates well to toy form.  Not only is the standard Carol figure really cool, but the ability to turn her into Minn-Erva makes this an essential part of the collection.  Hopefully she continues to be easy to acquire.

The Blaster in Question #0078: Battle-Kata Blaster

BATTLE-KATA BLASTER

G.I. JOE: RETALLIATION (HASBRO)

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

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

THE FIGURE ITSELF

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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

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

#1992: Ripcord

RIPCORD

G.I. JOE: RISE OF COBRA

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

THE BLASTER ITSELF

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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

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

#1991: Soundwave

SOUNDWAVE

TRANSFORMERS (HASBRO)

So, this Transformers thing…it doesn’t appear to be going away, does it?  Like last month, I am once again bookending a month’s reviews with Transformers.  Today’s offering is slightly different, however, because rather than looking at something new, I’m actually looking at something quite old.  About as old as a Transformer can possibly be, in fact.  It’s no secret that Soundwave is my very favorite Transformer, so it’s probably not a huge shock to see me go back to his beginnings, and take a look at his vintage figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Soundwave was released in 1984, as one of the line’s first Decepticons.  He was a re-working of the Microman Micro Change Cassette Man figure, and is actually one of the least changed imports the line had to offer, with only minimal re-tooling and some slight changing of his color palette.  In his robot mode, Soundwave stands 7 inches tall and has 15 workable points of articulation.  Though his sculpt is certainly boxier and more rudimentary than more modern offerings from the line, Soundwave is probably one of the best sculpts of the 1984 line-up.  He’s pretty posable, and maintains that sort of retro robot feel without getting too goofy or basic.  He’s also a rather sturdy feeling figure, which is certainly nice to find in a figure that’s 45 years old.  I particularly like the metal feet, which help to keep him up and standing.  There’s also virtually no kibble left over from his alt form which is downright impressive on such a figure.  Said alt form is, of course, that of a micro cassette player.  Cassette Man was part of a line of figures meant to be mini robots masquerading as everyday items.  While Soundwave in the show had to rely on some weird mass-shifting to go from one form to the next, the toy just sticks with letting him be a realistically scaled player, which is certainly a neat idea.  His transformation from one form to the other is pretty straightforward, which was a relief to a relative Transformers novice such as myself, and the cassette player form is a convincing one.  I mean, it’s not like it’s super complex or anything; it’s really just a box, but it does that whole box thing pretty well.  Soundwave, like many earlier Transformers, foregoes paint for more decals and the like.  For the most part, they’ve held up well, but mine is missing his Decepticon logo (which was actually replaced by a rubsign decal for figures released in 1985 and beyond).  Soundwave was originally packed with a shoulder cannon, a handheld weapon, and one of his cassettes, Buzzsaw.  My figure only has the shoulder cannon, which is really the most important to him personally.  Soundwave included an “action feature” of sorts as well; the door on his chest is spring loaded, allowing for a proper ejecting of any cassette-based associates.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This Soundwave was traded into All Time alongside a larger collection, and spent a good couple of months just sitting back behind the counter, just the see if anyone might as to purchase him.  No one did, and I found myself sitting there fiddling with him one night, at which point I realized I kinda didn’t want to put him back.  So, home with me he came.  He’s somewhat dated, but still pretty darn awesome, and I’m honestly pretty happy I snagged him.  I mean, what kind of a Soundwave fan would I be if I didn’t have the original?