#2246: G.I. Joe

G.I. JOE

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

“G.I. Joe (a.k.a. Joseph B. Colton) graduated in 1960 from the United States Military Academy at West Point, receiving the academy’s highest possible honors.  An expert marksman, he is proficient with all modern weaponry from M60 machine guns to attack helicopters and L.A.W.s (Light Armored Weapons).  Recruited by Special Forces, Colton was destined for military glory, quickly distinguishing himself as an outstanding Green Beret.  In 1963, after participating in “ultra” top secret combat operations and extensive tours of duty in trouble spots around the world, 1st Lt. Joseph B. Colton became the most decorated — and most feared — battlefield soldier the world had ever known.  Recognizing Colton’s innate combat skills and his warrier heart pumping courage through his veins, then President John F. Kennedy, secretly selected him to create and command an ULTIMATE freedom fighting force.  Higher ranking soldiers had been passed over for this elite, presidential appointment.  Colton was issued the name “G.I. Joe” and began building his team with the toughest men the armed services could muster.  From there, G.I. Joe would change the course of military history and re-define the word hero!”

When reworking G.I. Joe into the anti-terrorist fighting force that would so define them throughout the ’80s, Hasbro decided to re-work the assumed name of one man from the ’60s toyline, and make the name for the whole team.  However, when it came time to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the original 12-inch line, Hasbro decided to transfer some of the old style figures into the new smaller scale.  Additionally, they decided to pay tribute to those original figures by actually making “G.I. Joe” one guy again, and having that one guy be the one who started the whole thing, just like that one figure started everything in the real world.  It was a pretty cool concept and one that has found its way into comics and movies as well.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

G.I. Joe was offered as a mail-away offer as part of G.I. Joe‘s 1994 line-up.  He tied in with the wider 30th Anniversary assortment offered up that same year.  The figure is 3 3/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  His bio classifies Joe as a Green Beret, so this smaller figure is wisely patterned on the Green Beret Action Soldier from the original line.  As far as construction, he shared a lot of his parts with the other 30th Anniversary figures (whose molds would later be re-purposed by Fun 4 All for the line of key chains offered in the late ’90s).  His torso and arms are from the Action Marine, and his left and lower right leg are shared with the Action Soldier.  The head, pelvis, and upper right leg were all new.  They slot in well with the already sculpted parts, and the end result is a figure that does a respectable job of replicating the larger figures in the smaller scale.  This is my first exposure to the original Hasbro versions of most of these pieces, which are certainly of a higher quality than the Fun 4 All variants.  The details are a lot crisper, and there are some that just go missing entirely on the later releases.  The new head is a solid rendition of the old Joe likeness, but made to fit a little better with the rest of the smaller line.  Joe’s paintwork is fairly basic, but does the job well, and it looks pretty clean.  The little bit of camo visible beneath his jacket is in particular pretty cool.  Joe was packed with a heavy machine gun, re-purposed from the V2 Gung Ho in 1992. It’s really large, but not in a comical sense, and he can hold it reasonably well.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Though I was alive in ’94, I wasn’t quite collecting yet, so I didn’t send away for this one myself.  So, I had to resort to buying one second hand.  He wasn’t in All Time’s rather large collection from over the summer, but I ended up finding him at Yesterday’s Fun while on vacation over the summer.  I wasn’t specifically looking for him like the other two I ended up getting, but I have to say I do quite like him.  He’s a cool little piece of history to be sure.

#2244: Grey Hulk

GREY HULK

MARVEL LEGENDS: VINTAGE (HASBRO)

“Accidentally exposed to gamma radiation, scientist Bruce Banner gains super strength, stamina, and invulnerability…at the cost of his genius!  Dubbed “Hulk,” Banner first transforms only at night before realizing that it’s actually his anger that gives him his super abilities.”

Did you know that the Hulk is only green-skinned because of poor quality print techniques?  If you’re at all familiar with common place comics trivia, then you probably did.  Congratulations, you don’t need me anymore.  But I’m not writing reviews for you, so ah-ha, I’m gonna keep writing anyway.  You can’t stop me!  …Where was I?  Grey Hulk.  Right.  So, Hulk was originally grey, but the comics printing techniques of the ’60s being what they were, getting a consistent grey was very hard to attain, and the end result was a main character that shifted colors multiple times throughout his first appearance.  To avoid further issue, he was made green.  Well, at least until printing techniques improved enough to bring Grey Hulk back  in the ’80s.  Yay, second life for Grey Hulk!  And now he’s an easy action figure variant, hence the coverage here today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Grey Hulk is a standalone “80 Years of Marvel” Marvel Legends release, originally intended to be con exclusive (the counterpart to the Retro carded Green Hulk from SDCC), but ultimately re-purposed as another Fan Channel exclusive.  This marks our third Legends Grey Hulk, and the first one since the Fin Fang Foom Series in ’08.  The figure stands 8 inches tall and has 30 points of articulation.  He uses the same body as the other 80 Years of Marvel Hulk, which isn’t really much of a surprise, since Hasbro generally likes to get some mileage out of a new sculpt.  It helps that it’s a really strong body, and I liked it a lot the first time I looked at it.  This one gets an all-new head, though, since Grey Hulk never sported the lengthy ’70s locks of the prior release, and also tended to have a far more pronounced brow than later incarnations.  It doesn’t make for a very pretty looking figure, but I guess that’s appropriate for someone belted by gamma rays.  Ain’t he unglamorous?  Glamorous or not, it’s certainly a sharp sculpt, and well-suited to the body.  He includes the same torn shirt piece as the prior figure, which is the same set-up as before; it’s not super securely held in place or anything, but looks decent, and can be easily taken off if it’s not your speed.  In my review of the last Hulk, I remarked that his paintwork was surprisingly nuanced.  This figure is a step up even from that.  The skin tone still has some subtle variation to it, but he also gets some very impressive work on his pants, which have that proper broken-in denim appearance to them.  Hulk is armed with a crushed pipe, a fact that package proudly proclaims.  It’s admittedly a pretty fun piece.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When he was still rumored for a con-exclusive release, I didn’t pay this guy much mind, and I certainly wasn’t planning to jump through any hoops to get him.  When he made the shift to Fan Channel, and therefore became far easier to acquire, I was a much easier mark.  I went in with no real expectations, since he was never going to be my primary Hulk, but he’s honestly a pretty fun figure, and does some cool stuff that the prior release didn’t.

I picked up this guy from my friends All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2243: Megatron

CLASSIC ANIMATION MEGATRON

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE (HASBRO)

See, we’re kind of doing this one and one deal with me and Super Awesome Wife reviewing the Transformers now.  Why?  Well, because as she’s pointed out to me, legally the site is half hers now, so there’s not a lot I can do to stop it.  Guess this is just my life now.

At the beginning of me falling down the Transformers rabbit-hole, there was one major obstacle to overcome to get me really into that Transformers mind-set: owning an Optimus Prime.  Well now I have four of those.  You know who I still didn’t own a single figure of, though?  Optimus’s opposite number from the Decepticon side, Megatron.  Well, that changes today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Like yesterday’s Optimus figure, plus the Soundblaster and Silverstreak  Bluestreak from last week, this guy is part of the Walmart exclusive “35th Anniversary Commemorative Series” sub-line of Siege figures, which started showing up on shelves towards the end of October.  While Silversteak Bluestreak and Soundblaster were more conventional re-decos, Prime and Megatron are based on the cel-animated appearances from the G1 cartoon, which gives them a fairly distinctive flair.  Like Prime, Megatron is a re-deco of his Voyager Series 1 release from the beginning of the year.  Unlike Prime, that makes him totally new to me, since that’s one of the few Siege items I never got around to picking up.  In robot mode, the figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and has 26 practical points of articulation.  Much like his counterpart Optimus, Megatron’s sculpt aims to be an idealized version of the G1 toy…more or less.  As with any modern update of Megatron, there are some needed changes, which I’ll touch on more when I get to his alt-mode.  The robot mode is pretty posable, though compared to Prime, it’s a little more restricted.  Not terribly so, and a lot of it owes more to his actual character design than to any design choices on the toy itself.  Compared to Prime, Megatron doesn’t have quite a clean and polished look, with slightly more deviation from that G1 animation design.  All of the important notes, are there, of course, but he’s more prone to some creative liberties, such as the far more obtrusive “backpack” that houses the alt-mode parts when he a robot.  It’s not a terrible way of handling things, but it’s also not as clean as the way Optimus does things.  Additionally, there are a couple of hollow spots on this figure, which Optimus mostly avoided.  That being said, Megatron still makes for a pretty solid robot.  The new paint scheme here is a major departure from the standard.  As a whole, he’s brighter, more eye-catching, and cleaner than the prior release.  He’s also got a cool, very artistic look, which simulates the cel-shading of animation.  While I felt that both Optimus figures were of a similar quality, seeing the updated Megatron really did a lot to salvage this particular figure in my eyes.  Now, about that alt-mode.  Megatron joins many others in losing his original G1 alt-mode, which was an accurate recreation of a Walther P-38 pistol.  With current safety laws, there’s absolutely no way that would fly, so this figure’s alt-mode is a tank, which has more or less become his accepted modern-day alt-mode.  The shift to tank from gun obviously requires some changing of the robot mode, but the figure manages to balance both alright.  The tank transformation is actually pretty straight forward, and I was able to get it most of the way without the instructions, so that’s good.  It’s a fairly cool looking design, and feels imposing enough to associate with a character like Megatron.  Megatron is packed with his usual arm cannon, as well as a large sword that calls back to the original Takara release, both of which are worked into the transformation.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As much as Optimus impressed me, I just never could bring myself to drop the money for the standard Siege Megatron.  I wasn’t trying to avoid the character on purpose, though, and I wanted a good one for my collection, so I was looking at other options.  I even considered picking up the Combat Megatron, but that seemed too drastrically different for me.  When I first spotted the 35th Anniversary figures, I did think this guy looked pretty slick, but ultimately held off.  But guess who didn’t.  Did you guess Max?  Yeah.  He bought one, and brought it into the store and let me mess around with it, at which point I pretty much knew I wanted one for myself.  And here we are.  Honestly, he’s a lot better than I’d expected, and he feels like he sort of completes a very important piece of my collection, so I’m glad I decided to give Megatron another try.

#2242: Optimus Prime

CLASSIC ANIMATION OPTIMUS PRIME

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE (HASBRO)

What up my diddly dudes, it’s Chey’s and Jess’s ultimate toy review part 2 with optimus prime. This ones for you Jasonn , i dont know who you are, but here go my dude. congrats! So here we are back it again with the transformers, that series the two of us know so much about. This week is Optisium prime, leader of the…. oh god… not decepticons…. just ask ethan autobot vibes, cool. The truthamal about this figures is that is cool, ish. I don’t know this history of optismus prime

Bur I do, i think. So optimusy comes from planet Cybertoner. He’s the leader of the the autobot vibers and i think he dies a few time. he also has a brother, that might not be his brother, but by nming conventions it makes sense. his brother is ultra magnus, totally the brother of optimus primus. is transformia actually a thing? who da figly knows.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

This figgu comes from this line that did the transformers as cartoons (Ethan: that would be the 35th anniversay line). He has the same body as the live colored Optimpusy  but he’s colored like the original cartoon, which is why we get to review him becaus he jus a repaint of a figga that Ethan already reviewed some times ago. Octopus Slime is bigger than my hand by a quaterish of an inch…so maybe six some inches. He’s got 420 points of articulation. HA blaze. idk hoq mNY HE ACTUALLY HAS. He’s fourth in line to the throne of Cybertoner, and his bitty brother who is also possible multiple people passed thru a family thru generations is after him in line to the throne. He’s got these flappy dos that you find when trying to transform him that Tim says protects the royal nuts and bolts. What else about this figure?

While CChey’s trying to race tim in trying to turn the autobot viber into a semitruck without a load, I talk about the truck. SURPRISE HE TURNS INTO A SEMI TRUCK WITHOUT A PAYLOAD. the bed is the blue bit and the cab where a trucker would normally drive, sleep and play is reeeeeed. If yous drunk then it probably gonna be hard to turn him inta a semi uck. if ya sober yee still may have trouba getting this figure to turn into a duck truck. Chey says IT’S NOT USER FRIENDLY. WARNING Must use magick and sacrifice an atual caaarl to get it to transform properly. Hey, show runners that have no more ideas, you should do a show based purely on drunk peple trying to turn transformeders into cars and visversa.

The colors are meant to mimic the tv show which is the 80s which the colors are flat as hell. boom i said  it. the kia optima from this line is you and the one from the transformers line is the guy she told not worry about. before i get into the color i just want say that this stuff, i cant say bad words, is not user friendly, its a rubiks cube that makes zero sense, so read the instructions friends, because that what every kid wants to do on christmas morning, follow rules. alright, so the cell shading gets nicer the more i look at it, but its too light to notice on first glance, bear with me im actually trying to write a review worth reading even drunk. the red WHACK the bleu WHACK the white WHACK, it doesnt got much demension compared to transformers line toy. Though like i said last time the silver “battle damage” as ethan calls it looks like a last minute disicion and i am not a fan. however, the more i look at the cartoon toy, the more i enjoy, so maybe get over the first glance and youll feel the same. Optima Prius is a cool cat.

Theres a lot of points of articulation, I lost count and gave up… so if youre interested, im sure ehtan did a better job because it took me 15 minutes and maybe more to figure out how it actually worked so yeah.

 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

If you like kia optima, buy ittttt that what matter treat yourself and maybe you can figure out HOW IT WORKS because if im honest, tim had to finish it for me

I, Jessho, have no real connection to Octopussy Primussy. i didn;t really watch the cartoons. i think i watched a movie once at the drive thru threther in my bummby duck no where town . i rememember we couldn;t use the radio for movie audio becuase the car was too old or something and we had to try and follow aong to the outside audio which was really bad. i dunno what happned. i thin there wasa  pyramid and a reallt old transformer with weird gonad chins. I almost transformed this duck hinter into a truck all by myself, without instructiosn, but ethan had to help me in the end. I got to review this firgure cuz it’s a repaint of one that ethan already review, which is where you cn find more accurate infor BTDubes. But ultimately i get to review these guys because Jason gave Ethan a job at All Time, which exposed him to all dem transformers that he started buying when he started working at your cool store! It’s been a great spark in Ethan’s week and imma so happy that he’s found you and this store. So in summation, it’s you’re fault we now have so many transformers and I get to write drunk reviews on them and that Ethan ets to end hs week on a high note.

PS ETHAN YOU’RE NOT ALLOWED TO FIX YOUR PHOTOS or imma be real sad like baby yoda without his MAndo Dad.


#2239: Soundblaster

SOUNDBLASTER

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE (HASBRO)

Who doesn’t love a good re-deco? Well, Super Awesome Wife probably doesn’t love this one quite so much because I told her she couldn’t review it.  I know, I’m mean like that. Much as I am ever tempted to just let her take over the reviews of Transformers as a whole for this site (or at the very least, all of the many re-decos), I’ve lain claim to today’s particular figure because it’s a variant of my boy Soundwave, and I just couldn’t not review a Soundwave.  It feels wrong.  So, what’s the deal with this one?  Well, the original Soundwave was released in 1985, alongside the other first round Transformers.  In 1987, Hasbro’s Japanese equivalent Takara, whose Transformers line had generally followed the same structure as the American, introduced the “Headmasters” line, which would tie-in with the Japan-exclusive “Headmasters” cartoon.  Soundwave wound up with an upgrade, now dubbed Soundblaster.  Though his initial figure wasn’t released in America, Soundblaster has become a go-to variant for Soundwave figures ever since, and Hasbro opted to add him to their celebration of the 35th anniversary of Transformers.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Soundblaster is one of the four figures in the “35th Anniversary Commemorative Edition” line-up of Siege.  The assortment is a Walmart-exclusive, and started showing up around the end of October.  All four figures included are re-decos, with Soundblaster being, unsurprisingly, a re-deco of the Voyager Class Siege Soundwave from earlier this year.  That figure’s fairly G1 faithful roots make it a solid choice for re-use here, and pretty much everyone was expecting to see it at some point.  It’s worth noting that he’s not actually a straight repaint; to be a proper representation of Soundblaster, he does get the appropriate re-tooled cassette door, which now can hold two cassettes instead of just one at a time.  Additionally, some of the tolerances on this release’s joints seem a little better, and the shoulder cannon seems to sit better this time around.  Other than that, he’s the same figure, and minor issues with the mold aside, I’m okay with that.  The new color scheme actually really does pop on this mold.  The black is slick looking, and boy do I love those new red eyes.  The new deco on the tape deck is also really eye-catching.  Soundblaster’s alt-mode is the same as the previous figure.  Honestly, it’s the one part of the Soundwave figure I wasn’t that big on.  As nice as he is in robot mode, this just feels a little…tacked on?  I don’t know.  I’ve had six months to get used to it, and I still don’t really care for it.  It’s not the end of the world, and you can still form the pseudo-boombox fan-mode.  Plus, I just don’t see myself ever displaying him any way but as a robot.  Soundblaster is packed with the same assortment of weapons as the first release, but done up to match his new deco.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Going into the 35th Anniversary line-up, Soundblaster was really the only one I was interested in.  At this point, you know I didn’t stick to that, but hey, I tried.  He was the second of them I found, and I was honestly pretty darn thrilled about it.  He’s not all that different from the Soundwave figure, but I wasn’t expecting that to be the case.  Plus, I did really love the first figure, so I’m still a real fan of the second one too.  He’s a good pick for this line-up.

#2238: Bluestreak

BLUESTREAK

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE (HASBRO)

Whad up my diddly-does and my homefries. Tonight, today, this afternoon this whateva is another special treat brought to you by the drunken mind of Ethan’s wondaful wifu! On this occasiona we’re gonna talk about Bluestreak, who will no longer be refered to by that name because HE’S NOT BLUE.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Bluesteak is made by the brothers of Has. He’s from wave #, along with Well-done and Raw. He has 42 points of articulation or something–it’s hard to count when drunk, also Ethan is too busy working on models to help so that’s okay. Do you know what’s a good show so far? Mandalorian on Disney+. I never knew I wanted a show about a bounty hunter babysitter. Anyways, Medium-rare isn’t from Star Wars because he’s a transformer, but he’s technically in the same universe as Doctor WHo and Marvel because of Death’s Head. According to the wiki he talks a lot, but I wouldn’t know because I’ve never seen hhimk  in a transformer show. I deviate a lot, don’t I? On with the figure!

Bluesteak is about 5-51/2 inches tall, but we tell him he’s 6 inches so that he doesn’t feel inferior ito the other transformers. *Whispers* he’s very sensitive about his size! He’s a repaint of somebody, at least I think because theat’s the only reason why I can review some of these metal bois. Actually, yes, he’s a repaint of Prowl *gggrrrrrrr*. 

Speaking of paint. Let’s talk about his paint! Do you know what this boi ain’t? He ain’t blue that’s fo shore. He’s like a red-based grey with red and black accents. BUT NO BLUE! So the main colors though are red and this weird grey, and they look rather nice together. Then it’s accented with black, and there’s hints of silver on his faces and the rims of the wheels. He also has some clear plasstoc bits, specifically on his shins and on his back behind his head between his door wings. The clear plastic is kinda cool, like leeting you see the inner workings of the transformer-car guy. You ever want to see the inside of a steak? Well now you can with this figure! Thw detaling of the fihure is pretty cool too; I like the detailing on the inside of the doors and legs the best. I also really like waht ever joint piece the hips are because of the ratcheting, there’s something satisfying about it.

Medium-rare can turn into a car, but not just any car, a cool sports car for sleek see through flim-flam. It’s actually pretty easy to turn him into his car state, even when intoxicated. The trick, for me is turning him back intp his non-car self.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I have no personal attachment to this figure. I got to review him because he was the first transformer I was able to trasnform into their alteernate self by myself. ETHAN DIDN’T HELP ME AND HE WAS PROUD. Also I made a stink about him not being blue and how it was false advertising, and I wanted to wirte a review dedicated to making fun of him BECAUSE HE’S NOT BLUE. But yea, that’s aout it. Thanks for coming to my TED talk and I hipe we can drinkg and review again to your entertainent.

PS: Because I promised Max…Silversteak would’ve been a better name because this mofo is SILVER AND NOT BLUE. But I like Medium-Rare better because it has nothing to do with the figure, like his original name. There now I’m done.

#2237: Offworld Jawa

OFFWORLD JAWA

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Jawas that arrive on new planets continue their old habits in their new surroundings, but their obsessive need for technology still drives them.”

Introduced in the very first film, the Jawas have sort of hung around in the background of the Star Wars universe ever since.  Classically, they’ve been confined to Tatooine, at least for their appearances in the first two trilogies, but The Mandalorian is mixing things up, having them show up at least one other place that we know of.  The creatures’ notable appearance in the show has also been a good excuse to put out another release of them in the main Black Series line, and I’ll be taking a look at that release today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Offworld Jawa is figure 96 in the Black Series line-up, being the second Mandalorian-based figure in the eight figure Triple Force Friday product launch.  It’s our third Black Series release of a Jawa, following the 40th Anniversary and #61 releases.  The figure stands 4 inches tall and has 28 points of articulation.  Those numbers should be somewhat familiar, since they are the same ones as the #61 Jawa.  That’s because this figure uses the same sculpt as that one, but loses the plastic skirt piece from that figure, and gains a cloth goods robe.  Though I am not always a fan of the cloth goods in Black Series, and I was okay with the plastic robe of the prior Jawa, I will admit that this robe ended up working far better than I’d expected.  It honestly ends up looking a little better than the plastic version, and has the added benefit of finally letting the figure take full advantage of all that leg articulation that the old figure had hidden beneath the plastic skirt.  The only slight downside is that they didn’t re-sculpt the arms to remove the sculpted robes, so the articulation there is still as restricted as the original release.  Though the head isn’t actually changed, the way the hood is connected is slightly different between my two Jawas, and I find that this one has a more natural look about it than the prior, which I’m totally okay with.  The Jawa’s paint is actually more involved than you might think.  There’s some nice weathering on the feet, and the bandolier now gets a wash to bring out more of its details, which definitely does it some favors.  This figure includes the same two ion blasters from the prior release, with one still being permanently attached to the harness.  Again, this feels a little light, but at this point, I think this just how the Jawas are gonna go in the Black Series.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was expecting very little out of this figure.  I already had the prior release, and I’m generally not that big on cloth.  Mostly, I bought him because I was buying everything else.  In person, he certainly looked better, but it wasn’t until I opened him up that I realized how much I enjoyed him.  I liked the prior figure a lot when it was new, but this one is an improvement in pretty much every way.  I’m glad I picked up this figure, especially after watching Episode 2 of The Mandalorian.

I got the Jawa from my friends at All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for Star Wars, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2236: IG-11

IG-11

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“One of a series of dangerous assassin droids largely outlawed in the galaxy, IG-11 is a hired gun programmed to follow Bounty Hunter’s Guild protocol to the letter.”

Ranking the distinctive bounty hunters from Empire Strikes Back has become something of a running gag on this site, so I don’t believe it’s at all a secret that my favorite of said bounty hunters is the robotic IG-88, a character that doesn’t do much on the screen, but like all of the bounty hunters has a rich background in the expanded universe.  Also like all of the bounty hunters, he doesn’t really have much going on post-Empire.  When The Mandalorian was in production, they originally planned to include IG-88 as one of the series’ characters, but at a very late stage it was decided that it would be better to let IG-88 keep his EU backstory, leading to the creation of the very similar, but still ever so slightly different IG-11, who we meet in the show’s very first episode.  He’s voiced by none other than Thor: Ragnarok director (and voice of Korg), Taika Waititi, and is just generally pretty awesome.  And, it being Star Wars, he’s also gotten a figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

IG-11 is a Best Buy-exclusive Star Wars: The Black Series offering.  Yes, apparently Best Buy is also getting in on the exclusives game, and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that.  I guess it’s not a total shock to see them try to expand outside of selling dying forms of media, but I’m not entirely sure that backing action figures is quite going to be the salvation that they’re looking for.  Time will tell, I suppose.  IG-11 was officially street-dated for November 1st, and has been cropping up in fairly decent numbers since then.  The figure stands just shy of 7 inches tall and has 21 points of articulation.  Most of this figure’s sculpt is exactly the same as the main line’s IG-88 figure from 2015 (or, if you want to get really technical, the very slightly improved version of that mold from this year’s Archive release), which more or less makes sense, since the two character’s designs are very, very similar, and they are meant to represent the same model of droid.  That being said, there were a few issues with IG-88 that I know a lot of fans were hoping to see corrected on any potential IG-11 release.  The head is the most glaring inaccuracy, being the wrong shape for both droids; I myself don’t mind it too much, but inaccurate is still inaccurate.  He should also really be a little larger as a whole to be properly scaled.  At his current size, he’s still taller than the standard figure, but he doesn’t tower quite the way he should.  The cut joints on the hips are also still quite restricting, even more noticeable for a more mobile on-screen character like IG-11.  The last issue *wasn’t* an issue with IG-88, but is for 11; his hands should be the new design from the show, but are instead the same as 88’s were.  IG-11 does get one new piece: his two bandoliers, which are a single, non-removable add-on.  It’s a suitably distinctive look to separate him a little bit from IG-88, and I can certainly dig it.  11 is also a little bit different on the paint front, with a slightly grimier, generally darker color scheme, as well as some nifty accenting that wasn’t present on the original or Archive releases.  The weathering takes advantage of the same technique Hasbro’s been using on faces, and it looks pretty solid here.  IG-11 is packed with two styles of blaster.  The longer rifle is the same one included with IG-88, while the shorter one, though very similar, is actually a new, smaller mold.  Both attach to the forearms in the same fashion as they did with 88, and there’s a spot on the bandolier that can hold either one of the guns.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Despite it not being perfect, I’ve always been a big fan of the Black Series IG-88, and IG-88 in general.  I was beyond thrilled when he was rumored for the show, and still thrilled when they revealed him to be IG-11, not 88.  I figured the 11 would end up being mostly just a re-deco, and I wasn’t wrong.  Would I have preferred to get an all-new mold?  Probably.  Would I have wanted that original mold to wind up as a store exclusive like this figure is?  No, I would not.  As it stands, I love this figure just as much, if not a little more than the 88 figure, even if he’s not entirely accurate.  I wouldn’t mind getting a more accurate one further down the line (alongside an updated 88), but this one will certainly hold me over.

#2235: The Mandalorian

THE MANDALORIAN

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

His body is shielded by beskar armor, his face is hidden behind a T-visored mask, and his past is wrapped in mystery.”

The Disney+ streaming service officially launched on the 12th of last month, and brought with it The Mandalorian, our first live-action TV series set in the Star Wars universe.  The prospect of a live-action Star Wars show has been rumored for years now, with one supposed to go into production around the same time as Clone Wars, but nothing ever came of it.  Running sort of right alongside all these plans, there has also long been discussion of actually centering some piece of mainstream Star Wars media on fan-favorite bounty hunter Boba Fett (you know, to finally actually do something of consequence with the character after 30 years).  Rumors of a Boba Fett series were floating for a bit, but ultimately those plans found themselves reworked into producer Jon Favreau’s new series, centered not on Boba Fett, but instead on an as-of-yet-unnamed fellow Mandalorian bounty hunter.  As of this writing, I’ve seen two episodes, and I’m quite enjoying what I’ve seen so far.  The show was one of the three projects focused on during the Triple Force Friday launch back in October, with a Black Series version of its title character being front and center.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Mandalorian is figure 94 in the Black Series line-up, and was one of 8 Black Series figures made available on Triple Force Friday, two of which were based on the show.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  Compared to our previous Mandalorian Boba Fett, whose figure ended up a little restricted in a few spots, this one can actually pull off a decent amount of range with his articulation, certainly some of the best range I’ve gotten out of a Black Series release.  The sculpt is an all-new affair (though it’s also shared with the “Carbonized” variant of the figure), based upon the Mandalorian’s Episode 1 appearance from the show, mostly clearly denoted by the *MINOR SPOILERS* right shoulder pauldron sill being the scavenged Shoretrooper piece, rather than is proper Beskar piece he has crafted mid-way through the episode.  I’m honestly okay with it, since the Mandalorian is bound to get a lot of toy coverage, and as someone who really loves the Shoretroopers, I totally geeked out seeing that piece there when I got the figure.  The rest of the character’s piecemeal armor is rather nicely recreated, with some solid detailing all-around.  His helmet’s not quite a pitch-perfect recreation of the piece from the show; some of the angles are a little bit softer, and the general detailing is also a little softer too.  It’s possible that Hasbro was working from design sketches, or on a slightly shorter production schedule than usual.  Given that the helmet appears to be the one element of the design that will remain constant, I wouldn’t be shocked if we got a slightly improved version for the next figure.  Whatever the case, it’s hardly a bad sculpt, and honestly I didn’t really notice until I was directly comparing the figure with photos from the show for the purposes of this review.  In contrast to Boba, this Mandalorian’s asymmetrical cape is a sculpted element, rather than a cloth one.  Personally, I tend to prefer plastic, and I feel this ends up looking better then the cape on Boba did.  It’s also a soft enough rubber that it doesn’t really limit posing too much, and it’s pretty easily removed if you really don’t like it.  I’ve heard that Island Journey Rey’s poncho makes for decent replacement piece.  There’s also an add-on piece for his belt/webgear, which isn’t really meant to be removed, but adds a nice element of depth to the figure.  The paint work on this guy is pretty solid work.  It’s not super weathered or 100% show accurate or anything, but it’s got a decent amount of extra detailing going on, keeping it from being totally devoid of detail like some of the mid-line figures ended up being.  The colors are also accurate to the show, which is more than can be said about the Carbonized version.  The Mandalorian includes two styles of blaster: a rifle and a pistol.  Both are fairly nice pieces, held well in the figure’s hands, and appear to match the show’s designs pretty closely.  The rifle is definitely my preferred of the two, in part due to it’s cool throwback to Boba’s first appearance in the Holiday Special.  Both weapons have storage on the figure, though the rifle’s pegging into the figure’s back can be a little bit tricky, and not super reliable.  The peg is just too long, and it results in a very loosely hanging weapon.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Mandolorian was definitely the figure in this assortment I was most interested in.  Of course, that’s true of pretty much every one buying these figures, so this guy is consistently the first to go from any case of figures.  I was able to get mine without too much trouble, but he’s probably going to be a little rough to get until the solid cases of him start hitting in a few months.  He’s a strong figure, no doubt, and I found him to be a notable improvement on the Boba and Jango figures from this line.  He’s a lot of fun, and I heartily recommend him if you can get him.

My Mandalorian came from my friends at All Time Toys.  They’ve sold through on initial quantities of him at the moment, but they do still have some of the others from the assortment in stock.  If you’re looking for Star Wars, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2232: Undertow

UNDERTOW

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

“Any frogman can operate in clean water, under optimum conditions, but the UNDERTOW are especially trained to function and fight in the murky, polluted waters that clog busy industrial and military waterfronts.  His wet-suit is made of a nontoxic anti-corrosive material.  His face-mask is coated with silicone to repel oil slicks, and is organically conditioned against hostile biological agents and infections.”

In 1988, Destro decided he just wasn’t content to let Cobra have all that faceless minions fun, so he got his own group of armed body guards, dubbed the Iron Grenadiers.  He then decided he liked that enough to double down, and start adding even more faceless minions.  But, in order to add more minions, he’d really need to diversify things a bit.  Throw in a little bit of specialization, you know?  Cobra had their own group of underwater operatives, so why not get in on that market?  Enter the Undertow, Destro’s Frogmen.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Undertow was released in the 1990 line-up of G.I. Joe, and was one of two additions to Destro’s forces from that particular year, bringing Destro’s total numbers up to a resounding 10.  Hey, that’s not the worst, I suppose.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  Despite not being Cobra affiliated in the slightest, Undertow’s sculpt actually has a lot of the same hallmarks of a lot of Cobra’s forces.  Because of this, it’s not much of a shock that the next two times the mold was used, he was transitioned over to Cobra.  It’s honestly a pretty solid sculpt, and surprisingly restrained for being a 1990 release.  Where most of them were starting to bulk up and go for the more fantastical elements, this one keeps it far more low-key, and honestly feels pretty at home with the line’s earlier offerings.  He’s just got a very clean design.  It’s kind of a shame that they saddled him with with the color scheme that they did.  Yes, if Undertow’s sculpt isn’t indicative of the time period he was released in, his paint is.  I mean, it’s not blindingly neon like others, I suppose, but he looks something like a Christmas pageant reject with all that red and green.  Not exactly the sort of colors that come to mind when you think of an underwater trooper, are they?  At least the application’s not bad, I guess.  Future uses of the mold would change the colors way up, which honestly did the mold a lot of favors.  Undertow was packed with a mask (with hose), harpoon, sled (with removable missile), flippers, and a…barracuda?  Hey, whatever works for you, man.  Mine is missing the harpoon, but everything else is showcased here.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When I was a kid, I actually had the 2002 Undertow figure, which used this same mold, and he was a favorite of mine.  Unfortunately, he didn’t make it through my childhood intact, so there was this Undertow-shaped hole in my Joe collection.  I was the slightest bit bummed when Undertow didn’t come in with the big collection that All Time got over the summer (but not overly surprised, given how late run a figure he is), so I ended up finding this guy at Yesterday’s Fun during my family’s family vacation.  The colors are wonky, but the sculpt is still one of my favorites.  Of course, I still kind of want to get a direct replacement of my V3 original one of these days…