The Blaster In Question #0042: Kronos XVIII-500

BlasterInQuestion1KRONOS XVIII-500

RIVAL (PHANTOM CORPS)

kronos1“Hang on a minute, didn’t we just have a Rival review, like, two weeks ago?” I hear you ask.  Why yes, sharp-eyed viewer, indeed we did.  Ordinarily I’d try and spread stuff out and keep you guessing about what the next blaster will be, like a game, but this is new and hot.  The new hotness, you might say.  So this week I’m looking at the Kronos.  Something that bears the name of the father to the Olympians must be a behemoth of a blaster, right?  Actually, it kind of goes the other way, but trust me, it’s not the size that counts, it’s all about the balls.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

kronos2The Kronos XVIII-500 was released in 2018 as part of the Phantom Corps subset of Rival blasters.  I was initially under the impression that Phantom Corps was a Target exclusive line, but this blaster was purchased from TRU which confounded me to no end, at least for a few minutes.  No idea what the deal with that is but whatever, you’re here to read about the blaster.  The Kronos is a spring powered pistol with a 5 round integrated magazine à la MEGA Magnus or Star Wars Rey (Jakku) Blaster.  Like both of those examples, the Kronos is loaded through a port on the top of the blaster that opens when the slide is primed back.  The Kronos also has an additional flap covering the port which I guess isn’t really necessary but it does preserve the silhouette of the blaster a little bit.  The shell of the blaster is all new and sports functional front and rear sights as well as 2 Rival accessory rails, one on the slide and one just above the muzzle.  Interestingly, while the blaster is labeled “XVIII-500” on both sides, the name Kronos appears nowhere except on the packaging.  Something to note about the rails on the Kronos is that, after attaching the Rival red dot sight, I noticed that it could slide back and forth just a little bit, just a few millimeters at most, and the nature of the attachment mechanism means it wasn’t in danger of falling off, but it’s just something I’d never had kronos3any of my other Rival blaster do.  I doubt that’s going to make or break anyone’s opinion of it, though.  Aside from that, everything about the Kronos’ construction is solid.  The grip in particular is very comfortable and secure in the hand as it follows much more organic lines than the more hard-lined rest of the blaster body, which is a style I quite like, visually and practically.  The slide has a surprising amount of thought and engineering put into it.  Priming the blaster is fairly easy with the grip panels that add a good amount of traction as well as providing a more defined surface to pull back on.  On the underside of the slide, there are a couple of telescoping flat panels that extend when the slide is pulled back, I assume to either keep the mechanism clean or to prevent kids pinching their fingers in the internals.  The very rear of the slide also has a cutout so you can see the orange plunger when it’s primed as well as a button to release the lockup if the blaster jams. Like all other Rival blasters, the Kronos has a safety which locks the trigger when engaged.  Unfortunately this particular safety has the same after-the-fact addition kind of feeling that the Zeus’ had.  It’s hard to describe verbally, but it feels like it’s flexing before it clicks rather than pivoting and is generally unpleasant to operate, not that it’s a necessary feature per se. For its size, the Kronos holds its own surprisingly well against other Rival blasters in terms of performance.  Shots fly and hit with the expected Rival accuracy and power, making it a kronos4real terror for younger siblings, especially given how low profile and nimble it is due to its smaller size.  I’ve even found that it fits rather handily into standard jeans pockets for holstering, just so long as you have jeans with actual pockets (why are fake pockets even a thing?  Sorry, side-tracked).  The Kronos comes packaged with another set of red and blue Rival flag/ribbon things, provided you got the Phantom Corps version and didn’t shell out $70 for the Deadpool variants, as well as one Rival round-  what’s that?  It comes with 5 rounds?  Ok.. if you say so.  Scratch that, I guess it’s supposed to come with 5 rounds.  Hmm…

 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

Ethan was actually the one who found this blaster at TRU and nicely offered to pick it up for me as I mentioned last week.  I went over to his place to pick it up as well as just to generally hang out, but when I opened the box, I found that only one round, specifically the one visible in the little window on the box, was actually inside.  Further inspection of the box revealed that the tape on one side had been cut and then taped over again, leading us to believe that someone had swiped the remaining 4 rounds from my box.  Normally I’d be rather upset upon finding out that I had been shorted, but I could not for the life of me, think of a more laughably unsubstantial thing to steal.  Whoever this chuckle-head is, decided it was worth risking getting kicked out of a Toys R Us or even fired if they were an employee over 4 Nerf Rival rounds.  The imbalance of risk to reward was so skewed, I couldn’t even bring myself to be mad about it.  If you did it, and you’re reading this, I hope you’re really enjoying playing with my balls.

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#1550: Captain Poe Dameron

CAPTAIN POE DAMERON

STAR WARS: TITAN HEROES (HASBRO)

“It takes defiant courage to stare down the threat of the First Order, and while Captain Poe Dameron is eager to fight, he worries that some of the Resistance leadership don’t have what it takes.”

If that bio sounds familiar to you, it’s because you’re losing your mind!  Nah, it’s actually because it’s the exact same bio that was used on the Black Series Captain Poe Dameron figure.  He’s the same guy and all, so I guess it’s okay.  So, today I’m breaking from my trend of Black Series figures, and switching gears over to the line that’s sort of the exact opposite, at least from a collecting perspective, Titan Heroes.  Let’s have a look at the figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Poe was one of the first three The Last Jedi-themed Star Wars: Titan Heroes, released back in September for Force Friday II, alongside Rey and a Stormtrooper.  He was also available in the big Target-exclusive 6-pack with Rey, BB-8, Kylo, and two troopers.  The figure stands 12 inches tall and he has 7 points of articulation.  His construction is pretty much the same as the other two Titan Heroes I’ve looked at, with the main body being molded in a harder, hollowed out plastic, with softer pieces for his head and hands.  He’s also a little skinny like those two, but that’s really just the aesthetic of the line.  Poe’s sculpt is surprisingly good, given the line he’s from.  These figures tend to be more on the basic side, but Poe is quite detailed, and the head in particular is one of the nicer sculpts I’ve seen out of this line.  I can’t say it’s a spot-on recreation of Oscar Isaac, but it’s pretty decent, and it looks like a real human being, which is certainly a step-up.  The work on the body is also pretty decent, with lots of texture work.  The hands in particular impressed me.  His paint work is also pretty decent, again, given the style of the line.  What I found most impressive was the work on Poe’s face scruff.  It’s something that Hasbro’s been unable to handle with any sort of subtlety on any of their Poe figures, but they actually managed to do it really well here.  Hopefully, this will translate to future figures.  Poe is packed with his usual blaster pistol, sadly without any painted details, but well-sculpted nonetheless.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After picking up Rey on my own and then getting a Finn for Christmas, I figured I might want to track down a Poe from this line, just to complete my power trio set.  I ended up finding him at the same time as the Black Series Finn and Kylo figures.  He was a bit of a spur of the moment purchase, since I had just seen the movie, and it was a Poe figure I didn’t have and he was relatively inexpensive.  That said, I’m happy I picked him up.  He’s a better figure than I’d expected.

#1549: Resistance Tech Rose

RESISTANCE TECH ROSE

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Part of the support crew that keeps the Resistance star fighters flying, Rose has hated the First Order since she was a child.  Now able to fight back against the enemy, Rose keeps her focus on her mission.”

Introducing a new main character to an established franchise is always tricky business.  Our new heroes from The Force Awakens sort of got away with it, thanks to the narrative effectively rebooting, and giving the new characters more of a clean slate to work with.  For The Last Jedi, things have been re-established, and become more rigid.  Nevertheless, our newest hero Rose Tico made herself feel right at home with the rest of the cast, and is one of my favorite parts of the movie.  I’ve looked at her basic figure back during the Force Friday reviews, but now I’ll be taking a look at her Black Series release!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Rose (who is officially called “Resistance Tech Rose” on the box.  Are we not supposed to know her last name?) is part of the third assortment of TLJ-themed Star Wars: The Black Series figures, numbered at 55.  She’s seen here in her Resistance Tech jumpsuit, which was her main look in the movie, and the one used for her smaller-scale figure as well.  The figure stands about 5 1/2 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation.  Her sculpt is all-new to this figure, though it definitely shares some origins with the two smaller scale figures, as a lot of the details line up with each other.  Given it’s the same character and all, it’s kind of sensible, though.  As much as I liked the smaller Rose’s sculpt, I must admit, I find this figure to be a slight downgrade.  A lot of it’s changes that had to be made for the sake of adding in extra articulation, but there were also a few changes in proportions, so for instance her neck seems a bit longer than it should be.  There are also some areas where the details seem a little simpler than I’d expect for a figure of this scale, namely her hair, which looks almost animated in nature.  Still, there’s plenty of solid detail work on the jumpsuit, so it’s not a total downgrade.  Honestly, it’s really just the head that’s throwing things off.  Even the likeness to Kelly Tran seems a little off the mark, which is especially surprising, since the smaller figure was spot-on in that regard.  In terms of paint, Rose is generally pretty good.  The application is clean, and the small details, such as the information printed on her pocket, are all really sharp.  Her eyes seem to have been painted slightly wider than how they were sculpted, which I think is likely contributing to the likeness being a little bit off.  I do appreciate that she actually gets extra detailing on her belt that the smaller figure didn’t have, since it could have easily been left one solid color.  The larger Rose comes with the same accessory compliment as her smaller counterpart: a standard Resistance blaster rifle in gold, and her small taser device, which can once again be clipped onto her belt.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

You know the last three figures I looked at?  The ones I saw once and passed on at first before ultimately picking them up again after seeing the movie?  Yeah, I found all of them because I was actually looking for Rose, because I really wanted her in this scale.  I did actually find one that I passed on, because I found her two days before Christmas and had better things to do with my money.  By the time I went back, she was gone.  Not to worry, though, because I found her at the same Target where I ultimately ended up getting Rey.  Despite some of my complaining here, Rose is actually a really good figure.  I was just spoiled a bit by her exceptionally good basic figure, so the fact that this one doesn’t completely out place that one is slightly frustrating.  Still, I’m very happy to have found her.  She’s really great.

#1548: Finn – First Order Disguise

FINN – FIRST ORDER DISGUISE

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“To carry out a mission crucial to the Resistance, Finn adopts a First Order officer’s uniform, going undercover and doing his best to blend in among his former ranks.”

Toy companies seem to have a hard time making toys of Finn exciting.  When the product for The Force Awakens first hit, all of the Finns were in his jacketed civilian style look.  While that’s certainly his main design from the movie, it was perhaps not the most thrilling, especially to a customer base that wasn’t yet familiar with the character.  For The Last Jedi, where Finn is sporting a look very similar to the one from the last film, toy makers wisely chose to use Finn’s disguised look from later in the film as his initial go-to for the figures.  While Hasbro gave us the standard Finn for their smaller basic line, they did the Officer’s uniform for his Black Series release, which I’ll be looking at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

First Order Disguise Finn is part of the second assortment of TLJ-themed Star Wars: The Black Series figures, hitting just after Force Friday II, alongside Leia, Poe, Maz, and the Guard.  He’s figure 51 in the line, placing him between the Guard and Leia numerically.  The figure stands about 6 inches tall and has 27 points of articulation.  His sculpt was technically new to him, but all but his head was almost immediately re-used for the First Order Officer included in a TRU-exclusive two-pack with Ackbar.  Given that it’s largely just a standard Officer’s uniform, that’s a rather sensible re-use, and I have no doubt it was part of what made this particular look appealing to Hasbro.  It’s a solid sculpt, and also makes for a very easy to pose, very playable figure.  The only truly unique piece is the head.  They could have just re-used the first Finn head, but they didn’t.  I’m not entirely sure why they didn’t, since that was a pretty solid sculpt and had a decent Boyega likeness.  While I certainly don’t dislike this sculpt, I do feel it’s resemblance isn’t quite as strong.  From a purely technical standpoint, though, it’s the better piece, with sharper detailing and better relative scaling to the body, though, so it’s not a total loss.  The paint on this guy is generally pretty decent work, with pretty clean detailing and a palette that’s a good match for what’s seen in the film.  I wish the pupils on my figure were a little better centered, but they aren’t as bad as some figures I’ve gotten.  Finn’s packed with a removable helmet, a pistol, and a riot-control baton.  The hat’s a good fit to the head, and isn’t overly bulky like some removable pieces, so that’s good.  The pistol’s pretty basic, but a good match for the material.  It’s a little hard for him to hold it, since his hands aren’t really designed for it, but it’s still a welcome addition.  The best piece is definitely the baton, which, rather than being a simple re-use of the one from TFA, has been totally re-tooled, so that it now can be properly extended into attack mode.  It’s a really fun piece, and I hope it sees re-use elsewhere.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As with Rey and Kylo, Finn is a figure I passed on when I first saw him (sensing a theme to this week’s reviews?), since I already had the TFA Finn and this was a non-standard variant.  I ended up grabbing him at the same time as Kylo, while I was actually on my way back from seeing the film for the second time.  Despite not being the standard version of the character, I really like this figure, and I think he’s an improvement on the standard Finn from TFA.  I’m hopeful that Hasbro will find a way to release his standard look from TLJ somewhere down the line, though, because I’d like to have it in this quality.

#1547: Kylo Ren

KYLO REN

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES

“Growing more powerful in the dark side of the Force, Kylo Ren pursues his enemies with sinister determination.  He will prove to Supreme Leader Snoke that he is truly capable and will hunt down those who caused his defeat at Starkiller Base.”

There was a lot I liked in The Last Jedi, but I think perhaps my favorite character arc contained there-in was that of Kylo Ren.  He goes from a character that could have been a rather one-note retread of Darth Vader, to something much more fully formed and unique.  Certainly the similarities still persist, but I don’t find his arc quite as predictable as it was at the end of TFA.  Just like the last movie, he was a prominent fixture of the associated toys, including the fan-favorite Black Series.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Kylo is figure 45 in Star Wars: The Black Series.  He was originally released with the seven-figure assortment that hit on Force Friday II, and was then immediately re-released with the next assortment, alongside Leia, Poe, the Guard, and Maz.  This had the unintended side-effect of making Kylo look like a particularly slow seller for a little while, but it appears things have mostly evened out now.  The figure stands about 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  As with yesterday’s Rey figure, this is a figure that shares more than a few design elements with its TFA predecessor (and even more with the unmasked variant of that from the Rogue One product), but there are no shared pieces between them.  This Kylo is an entirely unique sculpt, and it’s quite a good one at that.  The likeness is definitely one of Hasbro’s best attempts at Adam Driver, and is closer than the last unmasked Black Series Kylo.  The rest of the body does a pretty great job of capturing all of the texturing and patterns of Kylo’s costume from the movie, thankfully unencumbered by ill-fitting cloth pieces this time around.  He’s perhaps a little scrawnier than I’d like, but beyond that, this sculpt is a pretty fantastic translation of his look from the film.  This Ren figure marks the third time we’ve gotten a sculpted plastic cape in the larger Black Series line.  It’s a much better look, especially when you’re doing the over the shoulders draped look as seen here.  It’s actually a little odd that they did Kylo this way, but still went with the cloth set-up for Luke, who was released in the very same series.  I definitely prefer how it was handed here.  In terms of paint work, Ren is admittedly pretty straight forward, mostly being a lot of flat black.  They did put some effort into making his pants a slightly different temperature of black, as well as adding a gloss finish to the boots, which certainly makes for a nice look.  Unlike the smaller figure, Ren’s scar goes unpainted here.  I’m actually not sure which way I prefer it.  While it was a little too obvious on the smaller figure, here the scar gets rather lost.  Maybe a slightly less jarring paint app?  Beyond that, the paint on the face is pretty great, and I’m happy to see he has a healthier skin-tone when compared to the very pale unmasked Kylo from TFA.  Kylo is packed with his distinctive cross-guarded lightsaber in both ignited and non-ignited forms, which, combined with the removable cape, makes for a pretty solid selection of extras.  For those that are so inclined, there’s also a deluxe version of Kylo, just released in the last few weeks, which adds a die cast helmet and a display stand based on Snoke’s throne room to the mix, though that one does swap out the nice plastic cape for a rather standard cloth one.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Kylo was certainly the easiest to find of the initial TLJ Black Series figures, but, as with Rey, I passed on him due to how similar he was to the previous figure.  And, just like with Rey, I regretted having passed on him as soon as I saw the movie.  Whilst on vacation the week after Christmas, I found this guy at a nearby Walmart, marked down to $15 no less.  I guess it was a good thing I waited.  This is definitely Hasbro’s best Kylo so far, and I’m glad I finally grabbed him.

#1546: Rey – Jedi Training

REY – JEDI TRAINING

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES

“At long last, Rey has found Luke Skywalker, the last Jedi Master in the galaxy.  Hoping to find a hero of legend, she must unlearn what she has learned as Skywalker challenges her expectations.”

Oh boy, this might offend some people, but you know what?  I really liked The Last Jedi.  It was a solid, thoroughly enjoyable film.  Most importantly for any entry in the Star Wars franchise, it made me want to go out and buy some toys.  And buy some toys I did.  So, I’m gonna do a bit of a Star Wars week, because why not?  Let’s start this whole thing off with a look at the new trilogy’s central figure, Rey!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Rey is figure 44 in the latest iteration of Hasbro’s Star Wars: The Black Series.  There are actually a few different releases of the figure.  The first was in the SDCC 2017 two-pack with Luke. She was then released solo during the Force Friday II product launch.  All of the initial TLJ Black Series figures were rather scarce, so she was given another release as part of the latest assortment (the one that includes Rose and Snoke).  While the first two are identical, the last release (which is the one I have) has one minor detail that differentiates her: the small cut on her right shoulder, which she earned during her battle in Snoke’s throne room.  The figure stands about 5 3/4 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation.  Though there are some slight design similarities between this figure and the Force Awakens release, this figure is a wholly unique sculpt.  I was actually a pretty big fan of the last Rey when she was released, but in the two years since then, there’s no denying that The Black Series has definitely made some leaps and bounds in quality.  So, that older figure was looking a little out of date.  This one, on the other hand, is an incredibly strong sculpt.  The proportions on the body feel more realistic, her outfit now consists of several overlays to convey the proper depth, and there’s just a tremendous amount of detail and texture work all throughout.  The likeness on the head still isn’t quite as spot-on as the Titan Heroes figure (my favorite Rey head sculpt to date), but it’s certainly a marked improvement over the TFA release, and there’s still a lot of Daisy Ridley in there.  This figure is also an improvement when it comes to paint.  The painted skin is gone, replaced by molded plastic, but unlike some of the later TFA Black Series offerings, the sheen isn’t too shiny or lifeless.  The application is all pretty clean, and the colors match well with the source material.  There’s still some room for improvement, of course.  There’s some slop on the hairline and on the wrapping around her waist.  I also feel like the eyebrows are a bit too which, which is likely contributing to the slightly off likeness.  But, for a mass-produced figure, she’s not bad.  Rey is packed with her staff (which is a brand-new mold, and a definite upgrade to the last one), the blaster she got from Han, and Luke’s lightsaber.  I miss BB-8, but it’s still a nice assortment of extras.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Black Series offerings for Force Friday II were amongst the most difficult to find, so I didn’t come across any of them in my first week or so of hunting back in September.  I did eventually find a Rey, but ultimately passed on her, feeling she was rather similar to the one I already had.  After seeing the movie, I somewhat regretted this decision.  Fortunately, Hasbro did the re-pack, and I was able to score that one just last week.  While I’m sort of kicking myself for waiting so long on this figure (given how big an improvement she is over the last one), it’s one of those times where I’m ultimately grateful I waited, since I do kind of prefer the running change with the scar on her arm.  This is probably my favorite Rey in my collection.  Of course, there’s that Island Journey Rey looming on the horizon which may unseat her, but we’ll see.

The Blaster In Question #0041: Mediator

BlasterInQuestion1

MEDIATOR

MODULUS

mediator1Sometimes a really good idea isn’t something entirely brand new, but rather, a refinement of something that already exists.  Up till this point, we’ve had the Raider CS-35, the Alpha Trooper CS-18, the Rampage, Elite Alpha Trooper, and Stormtrooper Deluxe blaster (the first one) that all fill the role of pump-action magazine fed blasters.  Well, with Nerf’s latest wave of products, we have yet another to check off those boxes and then some.  Let’s have a look at the Modulus Mediator.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

mediator2First things first, I have no idea why they went with “Mediator” for the name of a blaster.  It doesn’t have quite the same sort of imposing punchy quality as something like the Rampage or Retaliator.  Even in the context of a conflict, a mediator is supposed to be a neutral third party that gets two opposing sides to agree on something.  I don’t know, just feels like a weird choice, but that’s what it’s called so I guess let’s just roll with it.  The Mediator was released in 2018 as part of the Modulus line of products,  Like I said, the Mediator operates much like other pump mag blasters but with 2 major differences.  I would say they’re improvements, but I’m sure there are people who aren’t fans.  Probably the same weirdos that thought The Last Jedi was the worst thing ever, but that’s neither here nor there.  The shell of the Mediator is all new work apart from the standard Nerf barrel and stock attachment points.  That actually brings us to the first big improvement, that being customizability.  While you could expect to find a stock attachment and a rail on pretty much all other pump mag blasters, what you never found was a second rail (I’m counting the Raider/Rampage’s rails as one big one, fight me) or a barrel attachment lug, both of which the Mediator provides quite handily.  The extra rail on the right mediator3side obviously grants you greater potential for decking out your blaster with tactics.  That’s all well and good, but the inclusion of the barrel lug is really what’s new.  Given blasters like the Rampage and Alpha Trooper needed already pretty lengthy front ends to accommodate the pump action, extending the barrel further doesn’t make much sense as it would only work to slow the dart after being fired.  As such, they never had barrel extension lugs, but the Mediator pulls it off thanks to it’s second major improvement over previous blasters.  The whole thing is super compact with just a short little barrel.  This means adding extra barrels doesn’t drastically reduce performance, which in turn means even more customization.  The ergonomics of the Mediator are pretty great.  I’d say it’s probably the best we’ve seen from the Modulus line so far.  The pistol grip is a good size and has a really nice grippy texture to it that I haven’t seen before but certainly hope to see again.  The same texture is also on the pump grip, which is a little short, but not enough to hinder, and I can understand the desire to not have it protrude too far from the body of the blaster.  Everything feels nice and solid, though I wish the ratcheting on the pump grip was a little quieter when cycling the bolt.  Nothing a little light modification can’t fix, though.  My last gripe is purely aesthetic.  I wish the blaster had a raised front sight parallel to the very prominent rear one.  While this would have looked better in my opinion, it turns out the little stubby nub at the front end IS a front sight and is even relatively well calibrated to give slightly arced shots for a subtle boost to the range.  On that note, the performance of the Mediator is decent.  Shots fly and impact right on par with those of other comparable blasters.  The ability to slam-fire is also a plus when busting into your younger sibling’s room and laying down heavy fire.  The Mediator comes packaged with the magazine well detached (needs to be installed to operate the blaster), a 6 round magazine, and 6 white Modulus styled Elite darts.

 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got the Mediator on a trip to Target with my boi, Ethan.  I didn’t expect to come out with it, but I knew I had to buy something and there it was.  See, the night before, Ethan texted me that he had come across another blaster that I was looking for (more on that next week) and offered to grab it for me and I would pay him back.  I didn’t have any cash on me, so when we were hanging out the next day, I suggested we stop by Target so I could get some cash back.  Long story short, I bought a Nerf blaster so I could pay for another Nerf blaster.

#1543: Black Bolt

BLACK BOLT

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Supercharged powers and a quasic-sonic scream let Black Bolt destroy enemies with a single utterance.”

You might think you’ve caught on to my little running theme the last three days, where I review Marvel Legends with the prefix “Black.”  You might think you’re clever, noticing this trend.  But you’re wrong.  Today’s figure doesn’t fit that trend, because the first half of his name isn’t actually “Black,” it’s “Blackagar.”  Because, as I’d like to remind you all, dear readers, Black Bolt’s real name is Blackagar Boltagon, the stupidest name in comics.  Nah, I’m just kidding! I totally picked Black Bolt to do the whole running theme thing.  But who can resist the chance to make fun of Black Bolt’s real name?  I certainly can’t.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Black Bolt is part of the latest series of Marvel Legends, which is themed around next month’s Black Panther movie.  Why is Black Bolt in a Black Panther-themed assortment?  Your guess is as good as mine.  They both certainly like the same predominant color on their costume.  They were also both part of Marvel’s Illuminati team at one point, but I don’t think there was ever any overlap between them.  But hey, if it gets me a new Black Bolt figure, I guess I won’t complain too much.  Black Bolt is one of three comics-themed figures in the assortment (all of whom have questionable ties to Panther at best).  Like the Panther figure I looked at earlier this week, a lot of this figure is just a slight re-working of a previous figure, specifically the Black Bolt from 2014’s SDCC-exclusive Thanos Imperative boxed set.  That set was pretty difficult to acquire outside of the con, and Blackagar here was probably the most sought after in the set (since Star-Lord got a pretty quick re-release), so the re-release is much appreciated.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  Like his predecessor, he’s built on the Bucky Cap body, which seems a reasonable enough choice for Mr. Boltagon.  His upper arms are the same pieces used on the last figure, which, admittedly, isn’t a huge point in this figure’s favor.  The wings are solid plastic, and jut straight out of the back of the biceps.  They’re sculpted to rest flush with the sides of the torso, but it only works in a very specific pose.  move the arms any other way, and the wings are just sticking straight out.  I would have liked to see this handled similarly to the Jessica Drew Spider-Woman, where there are two different sets of wings that can be swapped out.  As it is, they’re more than a little limiting.  This figure also gets the same head as the last one, which is a solid piece of work, and a good fit for the character.  However, Hasbro was also kind enough to throw in another head, this time depicting Black Bolt screaming and all powered-up.  There’s a lot of of fun expressiveness to this one, and I love the Kirby Krackle effect on his tuning fork.  In addition to the new head, the other change between the TI Black Bolt and this one is his paint.  It’s really just a minor shift, with a dark blue in place of the straight black, but I like it.  I do wish the silver detailing was a little cleaner, but it’s not awful.  Black Bolt is packed with the previously mentioned extra head, as well as the right leg of the Build-A-Figure, Okoye.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Black Bolt caught me by surprise.  Tim and I were out and about, and we stopped by Walgreens, mostly to see if I could find the new Legacy Gold Ranger.  I didn’t find him, but I did find the remnants of this assortment, which I didn’t even know was hitting yet.  I missed the TI set, so I was definitely getting this guy.  He’s got a few flaws, but I’m still happy with him overall.

#1542: Black Widow

BLACK WIDOW

MARVEL LEGENDS VINTAGE (HASBRO)

“Natasha Romanov uses her fearsome fighting techniques for good as Black Widow!”

Well, except for initially, when she…ya know….used them for…bad.  But that was only at the very start!  Promise!  Just two years at the very beginning there, then it was all straight and narrow from then out.  Despite being arguably Marvel’s most prominent female hero these days, Black Widow’s been oddly absent from the toy shelves, and what we’ve gotten’s been mostly movie-based.  In a slightly strange turn, we’re finally getting some comics-based Widow product…a few months after she died in the comics.  I mean, it’s not like it’s gonna last, but still.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Black Widow is part of the first series of Hasbro’s new Marvel Legends Vintage line.  Much like last year’s Star Wars: The Black Series: 40th Anniversary line, it’s a mix of re-releases and “new” figures, all packed on vintage-styled card backs.  In this case, the cards are patterned after the old Toy Biz Marvel Super Heroes packaging, which is certainly unique.  While Widow never had a figure in that line, they’ve done a respectable job of creating an accurate card in the same style.  The figure stands about 6 inches tall and has 29 points of articulation.  Widow is seen here in her third main costume, which debuted in Amazing Spider-Man #86, back in 1970.  It’s very definitely the “classic” Black Widow design, and this is the first time we’ve gotten it as a Legends figure.  Despite the all-new look and being the only “original” figure in this first series, Widow is actually almost entirely reused pieces.  She’s built on the Phoenix body, which is a good starting point for Widow (though I do wish the elbows had a slightly better range of motion).  On top of that, she’s got the bracelets from the Hobgoblin Series Spider-Girl, and the head from this summer’s TRU-exclusive Mary Jane.  The re-use on the head has been a point of some contention for fans.  Personally, I don’t mind so much, but that might be partly due to the fact that I never actually found the MJ figure anyway.  I also find this sculpt is pretty solid for Widow as well, so on it’s own, it really works well for the character.  Worst case scenario, the upcoming Widow and Motorcycle set’s going to have two heads packed in, so there are some options available. As far as I can tell, Widow’s only new piece is her belt, which is a fairly simple add-on piece.   I wish it was affixed some how so it didn’t float around so much, but it’s not terrible.  It’s possible her hands are also new, but I’m not 100% sure on that.  They’re just pretty standard trigger finger hands, but they get the job done.  Widow’s paint is clean and bold, and really well suited to her classic design.  There’s not a ton of work going into it, but the end result is still very sharp, and I just really like it.  The figure’s a little light on the accessories front, with only a pair of pistols packed in.  I can’t say there’s much else I would give her, but considering she retailed for the same price as normal, BAF-including figures, she does feel a little lacking.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As soon as these figures were shown off, I knew I wanted Widow.  I’m fortunate enough to have the original releases of the other figures, but there hasn’t been a proper comic Widow since back when Hasbro did the two-packs, and that one was pretty hard to come by.  I ended up finding this figure sort of by accident.  Super Awesome Girlfriend and I were on our way home from taking the cat to the vet, and I made a wrong turn, and the next closest place to turn around was the Walgreens parking lot.  I figured I might as well run in and check their stock, and sure enough, Natasha was one of the two Marvel Legends Vintage figures they had on the shelf.  And, as luck would have it, they were even running a sale on Legends that week!  Hooray for me!  Like yesterday’s Panther figure, there’s not anything particularly revolutionary about this figure, but she’s still a really strong addition to the line, and I’m happy to add her to the shelf!

#1541: Black Panther

BLACK PANTHER

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“With his claws sharp and his eyes set on his target, Black Panther is ready to pounce.”

I really try not to critique the packaging bios too much, but I gotta say, if you’re completely unfamiliar with Black Panther as a character, that’s probably not gonna do much to help.  In fact, it sounds more like the sort of description you’d see of an *actual* panther.  Hasbro knows he’s not an actual panther, right?  One would certainly hope so…

We’re about a month out from the theatrical release of Black Panther, 2018’s first on a long list of super hero movies.  This, of course, will mark the second time audiences see T’Challa grace the screen, after his pretty much universally praised appearance in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War.  I’m certainly excited to see more of the character, especially given the rather rich history they’ve got to draw from.  The landslide of movie-based product just started hitting last week, but before I get to that, I’ll be looking at one of Panther’s comic-based figures!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Black Panther was a Walmart-exclusive Marvel Legends figure, released last year.  When it was released last year is very much up for debate.  Samples of the figure started showing up over seas at the beginning of 2017, and the product was given to Walmart not long after that.  However, there was no official announcement that he was coming from Hasbro or Walmart, and no real estimated street date.  A few people found him starting in the spring, but for a lot of people, this guy didn’t actually show up until just before the winter holidays.  Quite a lag time.  But the figure’s here now, and that’s really all that matters, right?  For the most part, this figure’s just a slight re-working of the Rocket Raccoon Series Black Panther from 2013.  That whole series was pretty difficult to track down, and Panther in particular was always the most popular, so it’s nice for Hasbro to give some of us another shot at him.  Like the Marvel Universe figure, this one’s based on his classic 60s/70s appearance, from when he was with the Avengers.  With the included cape, he actually comes pretty close to a first appearance Panther, but the cape’s a touch long and he’d still need the satchel.  The point is, he’s a pretty standard “classic” Black Panther.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  He’s built on the Bucky Cap body (which, when it was used for the last Panther, was still a fairly new addition to the line).  There have been some arguments made that he should actually be on one of the slightly larger bodies, but I find this base feels right.  He gets the same head as the Rocket Raccoon Series figure, which is a good translation of Panther’s distinctive full-face mask.  There are enough details that you can actually make out some of T’Challa’s face beneath it, which I think is pretty darn cool.  Changing things up ever so slightly from the last figure, this one gets the belt piece from Daredevil, and the hands from the Civil War Panther.  I wasn’t sure about the use of the hands at first, since the CW Panther has a lot of sculpted textures that I thought would be out of place on an otherwise comics-inspired figure, but they work surprisingly well.  The figure also sports a cape, reused from the 2008 Adam Warlock figure.  It’s not bad, but I definitely prefer Panther sans-cape.  The paint on Panther is subtle, especially when compared to the RR one, which had a lot of blue going on.  This one’s mostly just straight black, with a bit of detailing for the accents on the boots, gloves, and belt.  I really dig the striped boots and gloves, as they’ve always been one of my favorite parts of the classic design.  Panther is packed with the previously mentioned cape, a spare set of normal gripping hands, and a spear (borrowed from Kraven the Hunter).

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I always wanted the RR Series Panther figure, but never could find one.  I eventually got the Civil War figure, which is an awesome enough figure that I was willing to let it slide that he wasn’t a classic Panther.  Needless to say, when this figure first surfaced, I was pretty dead set on getting one.  It took me until December to actually find one.  My closest Walmart put out about 20 of him all at once (all of which were gone within a week, I might add), so I grabbed him as soon as I saw him.  There’s not anything particularly innovative or new about this figure, but he’s still one of the best Black Panther figures in my collection, and I’m happy to add him to my Avengers shelf.