#2128: Wolverine

WOLVERINE

MARVEL LEGENDS VINGTAGE (HASBRO)

“Wolverine is the X-Men’s greatest fighter! A master of all forms of hand-to-hand combat, Wolverine also has a fearsome secret weapon – razor sharp retractable adamantium claws that can slice through anything.”

What’s an X-Men assortment without a Wolverine variant?  Statistically, not made.  They’re quite the hard sell.  For that reason, Wolverine gets toy love for just about every costume change, no matter how minor, no matter how restrained.  Case in point, today’s offering.  It’s Wolverine in his “Madripor” costume, an all-black number he picked up right around the time of his ongoing solo series starting up in 1988.  He wore it for a few of his world travelling adventures, before ditching it after less than a year.  Not exactly stuck in the minds of fans, but it’s only had one toy before, and it goes with Silver Samurai, so how about that?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Wolverine is the final figure in the X-Men-themed third series of the Marvel Legends Vintage line, where he fills the required Wolverine slot.  Though the Madripor costume was featured back during the Toy Biz days, it was much later in the line, and under a bunch of goofy armor, meaning he’s not quite a direct counterpart for any of those earlier figures.  Nevertheless, he gets the retro styled card, which honestly suits him better than the standard packaging might.  The figure stands 5 3/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  He’s built on the re-engineered brown costume body, since that’s our new standard for Wolverine.  It’s a solid choice given the simple spandex nature of the costume.  He gets a new head and shins (which give us clean shins without the usual Wolverine boots for a change), plus the wrist bands from Union Jack (which are a very tight fit here) and the belt from Brown Wolverine. The new head goes for a screaming expression, which works well enough, and is honestly a nice change up from the slightly more reserved Wolverines we’ve gotten recently.  The rest of the parts a pretty standard issue, which works well enough.  The rest of the figure is sold by the paint, or at least what there is of it.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that the body suit is actually a slightly off-black, with the “boots” being a more straight black.  It’s subtle, but I like it.  What I’m not as crazy about is the face, or more specifically the eyes.  In Hasbro’s defense, the weird fishnet look is accurate to the comics…it’s just really goofy, and the lack of extra head means you’re stuck with it.  Wolverine is packed with a spare set of gripping hands and a katana.  But it’s not just any katana, it’s actually the Black Blade, which figured into the Madrior story and was wielded by Wolverine in this costume.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve got no attachment to this Wolverine at all, nor do I find it to be a particularly exciting variant.  However, I was grabbing the rest of the set and felt bad about just skipping one figure, meaning he was along for the ride.  I can’t really say that he swayed my opinion on the design or anything, but it’s not like he’s a bad figure, and he’s certainly a nice accent piece for the Silver Samurai.

I picked up this Wolverine from my friends at All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for Marvel Legends, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

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#2125: Iceman

ICEMAN

MARVEL LEGENDS VINTAGE (HASBRO)

“Iceman has the mutant ability to turn himself into a being of living ice. Once he does that, he can create almost anything he wants: ice slides, ice weapons, ice shields, not to mention icicles and snowballs.”

Of the original X-Men, Iceman is probably the one with the most raw potential, power-wise.  As a way of keeping him in check, he’s also the one saddled with the most regressive personality, a permanent goof-off who never quite advanced forward the way the other four members did.  Rather tellingly, when the time-displaced versions of the original five were introduced, the two Icemen were virtually identical, and most of his storyline revolved around confronting some long-theorized ideas about his sexuality, rather than the “what did I become?” plot that faced the other four.  Bobby is just very consistent, I suppose.  So consistent that he’s really only got a handful of looks, which can be tricky when it comes to action figures.  While it means that figures can often play double or triple duty in era-specific displays, it also means that he can go a while between updated figures.  Fortunately, he didn’t have to wait too long this time.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Iceman is part of the X-themed third assortment of Hasbro’s Vintage sub-set of the Marvel Legends brand.  He follows Cyclops’ trend of being a direct homage to a vintage Toy Biz figure, specifically the first Iceman figure, released in Series 2 of Toy Biz’s line.  This pretty much means he covers Iceman’s look post-snowman and pre-ice armor, which is a period of about 25 years.  Not a bad stretch of coverage.  It’s also a look that has been done before in the scale, with both his original Toy Biz Legends release and the ANAD boxed set release covering the same ground.  Both of those figures, it should be noted, had some definite issues, meaning another go at the design is far from a bad thing.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 34 points of articulation.  Iceman is built on the 2099 body, in contrast to his last figure being built on the skinnier Pizza Spidey body.  It’s honestly a better fit for the character, especially the version they’re going for.  He gets a new head, as well as an add-on piece for the belt.  Unlike a lot of the heads we’ve gotten for the 2099 body, I actually think this one is pretty well scaled to the body, and doesn’t sit too high on the neck.  I quite like the slight grin on his face, as well as the blocky construction of his features.  The belt isn’t designed to be removable, which is a slight point against him, since the belt’s presence in his ice form was very much dependent on the artist.  I think making it more easily removed would have added more to the figure, but it’s not the end of the world as is.  Iceman’s pant is minimal, with the only details being the whites of his eyes, and the x-logo on the belt.  There’s still some interesting colorwork going on with the molded plastic, which is a slightly translucent affair.  It’s more opaque than the last figure, and lacks the blue tint, which honestly makes it look more like actual ice.  It’s worth noting that there’s a fair bit of variance between copies of this Iceman’s coloring, with some being darker and some lighter, likely dependent on when in the run they were produced.  Additionally, nearly ever figure has a seam running down the face, but the exact placement and how contrasting it is with the plastic around it is variable.  Iceman is packed with an ice sled stand, simulating the one his original Toy Biz figure included.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was more or less content with the Juggernaut Series Iceman.  He’s not a perfect figure, but I liked him for what he was, and he’s been filling that spot in my X-Men set-up since I got him.  This one’s announcement didn’t exactly blow my mind, especially given the figures he was shown alongside.  Even when I picked up my set, I wasn’t really sure about the figure.  After taking him out and playing with him a bit, I’m pleasantly surprised by this figure.  He’s not going to be my favorite in the set or anything, but he’s certainly our best Legends Iceman, and he’ll go well with the rest of the ’90s line-up.

I picked up Iceman from my friends at All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for Marvel Legends, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2124: Dazzler

DAZZLER

MARVEL LEGENDS VINTAGE (HASBRO)

“Dazzler uses sonic vibrations and impressive speed to take down her enemies.  Though she can channel sonic energy in many forms, her preferred method of sonic battle is through the power of music.”

Before they were shoving the likes of Deadpool and Squirrel-Girl into everything under the sun, Marvel’s first real go at pushing a character was Dazzler.  She was supposed to be a whole cross-platform phenomenon, with a solo comic being joined by music, videos, and even real performances by “Dazzler.”  For a number of reasons, the project never took off, and Marvel was left with a character they’d put a lot of work into and nowhere to put her.  So, Chris Claremont and John Byrne introduced her in the pages of X-Men, during the “Dark Phoenix Saga.”  By the time she was actually added to the team line-up, disco was officially the thing that things were said to be “deader than,” so Dazzler was reworked with an ’80s jazzercize bend.  It was this version of the character that was used in both the failed cartoon pilot “Pryde of the X-Men”, as well as the ’90s arcade game, meaning this version was burned pretty firmly into the heads of a whole decade of X-Fans.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Dazzler is part of the X-Men-themed third series of the Marvel Legends Vintage line.  Unlike yesterday’s Cyclops, this Dazzler has no direct equivalent from the Toy Biz days, as their only Dazzler figure was based on her prior costume, and wasn’t even part of the X-Men line to boot.  In fact, the only prior toy of this particular costume design was the Minimate.  It is, of course, her second time as a Legends figure in general, though, since her disco attire was released as part of the Warlock Series in 2017.  The figure is just over 6 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation. There’s a fair bit of re-use going on here. Her base body is Phoenix’s (which was also the basis of the first Dazzler), and she also gets the upper arms, jacket, belt, and cuffs from Rogue (since it was actually Dazzler that originated the bomber jacket over spandex look).  If you want to get technical, the gloves weren’t usually worn with the jacket, but its not entirely without precedent for them to be there, and I really don’t mind it myself. The figure is topped off with a new head sculpt, which does a respectable job of capturing Dazzler’s general look from this era.  The paintwork on the figure isn’t bad, especially when compared to the Cyclops.  The blue is perhaps a little flat (either metallics or a brighter shade would have been cool), but the application is nicely handled and all of the proper details are there.  Dazzler is packed with two of the Scarlet Witch hex pieces, this time in a translucent pink with sparkly flecks in them.  While it’s not quite as fun as the multi-colored piece from the last Dazzler, they’re still pretty decent additions.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

My first introduction to Dazzler was via “Pryde of the X-Men”, which I had a VHS copy of in the ’90s.  The fact that her only figure at the time was based on her disco look always bummed me out a little bit (though I’ve since gained an appreciation for that design as well).  When Disco Dazzler was again picked for the Legends release, I was fine with it, and I really did enjoy the figure, but something always felt a little bit off.  This figure just feels right to me.  I look forward to getting a proper Longshot update to go alongside her (as well as a classic Storm to round out my “Pryde” cast).

I picked up Dazzler from my friends at All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for Marvel Legends, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2123: Cyclops

CYCLOPS

MARVEL LEGENDS VINTAGE (HASBRO)

“Cyclops has mutant-energy optic blasts so powerful that they can smash through solid steel.  He can make the beams so small that they can pass through a key hole without touching the sides, or so wide they can cover space the size of a football field.”

Okay, so I want to start this review off by giving mad props to Hasbro for going back to the original Toy Biz packaging for that bio up there.  Only true Toy Biz package text can fully capture the insanity that was Toy Biz package text.  I love the idea that there’s this need to quality Cyclops powers with such specific circumstances, as if someone heard he could smash solid steel and said “that’s all well and good, but how is he at getting through key holes without touching the sides?  What of all of the football field-sized spaced that we need covered?”  It just goes to show, no matter how much you do for them, people always want more.  It’s okay Scott, I can sympathize.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Cyclops is the first figure in the third assortment of Hasbro’s Marvel Legends Vintage line-up.  While the last two have covered the full Marvel Universe, this round is exclusively X-themed, and *most* of the figures contained are direct call-backs to Toy Biz’s old 5-inch X-Men line.  Additionally, building off of what we saw last time, all of the figures in this round are new offerings, rather than slight tweaks of prior figures.  Cyclops is patterned on his very first figure, which was sporting his second X-Factor uniform.  He spent a decent amount of time in it, and its presence on his original release has certainly given it a lot of prominence in toy collectors’ minds.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  As with every Cyclops in since the Puck Series figure, this one is built on the Bucky Cap body, which I still like for the character, even if it is getting a little older.  Perhaps the most shocking thing about this figure is how many new parts he’s got.  The prior two Vintage line ups had a sum total of two new pieces between them (Wolverine’s mask and Vision’s cape, for those keeping track), instead being largely a venue for figures that could be built from re-used parts.  That aspect has been discarded for this assortment, and Cyclops gets two new head sculpts, a pair of new forearms, new shins, and even new feet if you can believe it.  I had fully expected to see a lot more parts re-use on this guy.  While the angry head was obviously new (and very fun for dynamic posing, I might add), the calm head I had thought might just be the same one seen on the Two-Pack Cyclops, but this one adds two energy effects to either side of the of his visor, which is kind of a fun callback to the old figure’s light-up feature.  There’s a part of me that sort of wishes the effect were removable, but I’ve honestly got enough other Legends Cyclopses that I can dig this one being different.  The slightly raised cuffs to the gloves I had honestly expected to be overlooked, or just replaced by flared gloves (that’s what the TB Legends version did), but what shocked me the most were the new boots.  I was very much expecting to see the same buccaneer boots we’ve seen countless times before.  These, however, are without all of the crazy texturing of the prior boots, meaning they better fit the usual depictions for this costume.  What’s more, the feet, the last hold out of those boots, the textured feet that have been on damn near every Bucky Cap figure, have been replaced by new smooth pieces.  I anticipate these will be low key turning up on some of the upcoming figures on the body.  The point is, there’s a lot that didn’t *need* to be done on this figure that still was, and that’s mighty cool.  Perhaps the only downside to this figure is the paint work.  It’s not awful, but it’s not as good as some of Hasbro’s more recent offerings.  There’s some noticeable slop on the change overs from blue to white, plus a few spots that are just outright missing paint.  My figure also has a weird brown spot at the top of his right boot, of which I really don’t know the origin.  Cyclops’s accessories are his extra head, plus an attachable optic beam for it, which I definitely dig.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The original blue and white Cyclops was my first Cyclops figure, so I’ve definitely got a sentimental streak for this particular design.  When Hasbro showed him off, and announced he would be in vintage style packaging to boot, I was instantly sold.  The paint work is a bit iffy, but I really like all of the new parts distributed throughout, and the effects pieces are a lot fun.  I look forward to seeing these parts crop up on future Cyclopses.

I picked up Cyclops from my friends at All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for Marvel Legends, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2120: Combat Jet Skystriker – XP-14F (w/ Ace)

COMBAT JET SKYSTRIKER — XP-14F (w/ ACE)

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

“Ace would rather fly than do anything else. During high school he worked after school and weekends to pay for flying lessons. Spent one year flying pipelines in Alaska and two years stunt flying for movies. Enlisted USAF at 22. Duty most previous to G.I. Joe assignment: senior instructor USAF Fighter Weapons Squadron “The Aggressors” (pilot combat training school). Qualified Expert: F-5E, F-15, F-16, XP-14/F. 

Ace has one major character flaw: cutthroat poker. A predilection for gambling would ordinarily disqualify an applicant for the G.I. Joe team but in Armbruster’s case you can hardly call it gambling since he NEVER LOSES. That’s why we call him Ace!”

Having set a standard of larger scale vehicles with the MOBAT in the first year of their rebooted GI Joe line, Hasbro decided to up the ante even further.  The 1983 vehicles focused fairly heavily on aerial combat for both sides.  However, it was once again the Joes who pulled ahead on the coolness front, with their star 1983 offering being the Combat Jet Skystriker and its pilot Ace, which would proudly launch the Joe tradition of things getting bigger and better every year.  Like the MOBAT, the Skystriker offered up the kind of vehicle that the 12-inch line could have never dreamed of doing proper justice, further cementing the new line’s niche.  And, also like the MOBAT, the Skystriker had one of that year’s coolest Joes as its pilot, which certainly helped its case.

THE VEHICLE ITSELF

Certainly the star affair here, the Skystriker is kind of the fighter jet equivalent to the MOBAT’s tank, in that it reads as a pretty decent summation of a basic military vehicle.  Like the MOBAT, the Skystriker had some realworld inspiration, specifically the F-14 Tomcat.  Of course, the F-14 actually went into production, meaning the salvaged experimental design angle that was so cool about the MOBAT ended up dropped here.  Of course, the F-14 still being fairly new at the time of this vehicle’s release does still make it feel pretty cutting edge.  At the time of its release, the Skystriker was the largest vehicle in the line, and it would remain so until the USS Flagg came on the scene in ’85.  And, if you want to get really technical, that was more a playset than a vehicle, so it’s all very suspect if you ask me.  The Skystriker was robbed, I tell ya!  …Where was I?  Right, toy review.  Always toy review.  The Skystriker’s a big boy, measuring almost 2 feet in length.  It was a brand new mold, and would see itself repurposed for the Night Boomer in 1989, as well as being slightly retooled to be an all-new Sky Striker in the 30th Anniversary line.  Much like the MOBAT, the Skystriker’s sculpt is noticeably less dated than the figures it accompanied.  It emulates the real world vehicle well, and includes a lot of nice technical details that keep it from becoming too generic or sci-fi-y.  There are lots of little crevices and small details littered throughout.  While the MOBAT was really just a solid chunk of plastic with one small opening to house a single figure, the Skystriker is designed with a bit more interaction with the figures in mind.  The interior of the cockpit actually has a bit of the appropriate detailing, as well as seating for two separate figures, a feature which the comics and cartoons, and even the 2011 re-release dropped.  It’s not a ton of extra seating, but compared to the tank, it was a pretty big deal.  The Skystriker wasn’t quite as feature heavy as some of the other vehicles in the line, but it did have removable seats for an “ejecting” feature.  More prominently, the wings can be moved forward or back (much like a real F-14), and the landing gear on the underside was tied into this feature.  Moving the wings forward brings the landing gear out, while switching them back will fold it back up.  There’s no paint on the Skystriker, but there are a rather extensive selection of decals, which mainly serve to remind you that decals really aren’t designed to last, and be a major pain to anyone who wants to restore a vintage Skystriker.  The Skystriker was packed with six missiles, which could be mounted on the underside of the vehicle.  It also included…

THE FIGURE ITSELF

…Ace!  First coming onto the scene with the Skystriker in ’83, Ace would go on to become one of the most prominent pilots in the Joe line-up, with a whopping 12 figures to his name…well, to a variation of his name, since he couldn’t keep just “Ace” post 25th Anniversary.  Ace’s original design kind of dives back into that “experimental” bit that the vehicle didn’t quite keep up with, since he’s got more in common with an astronaut than your typical fighter pilot.  It’s certainly a distinct appearance, though, and the figure’s sculpt does a respectable job of making him look cool.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  As an ’83 figure, his neck is still just a swivel, but with the big collar, it’s not really much of a loss.  Though Ace’s sculpt was all new, his head actually shares a number of common elements with the Hawk/Steeler/Flash/Shortfuse head from the ’82 line-up, though the level of detailing had certainly taken a jump.  The color schemes of the ’83 line-up moved away from the drab greens of the initial figures, and Ace follows suit, with a white and red number, which matches him well with the Skystriker.  Ace had no armaments of his own (he’s already got the combat jet, so what more does he need), but he does have a removable helmet.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Remember me mentioning the really large G.I. Joe collection that All Time Toys got in?  Wanna guess where this thing came from?  Yeah, I was responsible for piecing most of the collection together, which meant I got to spend a whole lot of time with most of it.  This was kind of a star piece, since, in addition to having everything but the parachute, it also included its box, blue prints, and even some spare decals.  It was a nice enough piece that I decided I kind of wanted to keep it, and my parents were kind enough to assist on that and give it to me as a birthday present this year.  Since receiving it, I’ve been spending my nights working to restore it to the best of my ability, which included stripping it of all of its decals, cleaning it,  replacing the decals I could with the spares, and then re-affixing the rest of them.  It’s been a lot of work, but I knew that one going in.  And it may be more work yet, as I’m not entirely sure I’m going to be keeping the vintage decals long-term.  Whatever the case, this is a fantastic center piece to my Joe collection, and has definitely been a big investment for me.

#2119: Assault on Ryloth

WAXER, BOIL, CLONE COMMANDER CODY, & MACE WINDU

STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS (HASBRO)

“Jedi generals and clone troopers battle the Separatists who have taken control of the planet Ryloth, homeworld of the Twi’leks. Mace Windu coordinates battle plans as he prepares to bring gunships onto the planet. Clone Troopers Waxer and Boil, who are eager for combat, join Clone Commander Cody on a mission to free Twi’lek prisoners being used as shields to protect a deadly proton cannon.”

Fairly early on in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the show runners realized that a show with “Clone” in the title was going to have to lean pretty heavily on clones as characters.  With that taken into consideration, the previous depictions of clones literally just being whole squadrons of the same guy a couple dozen times over wasn’t going to work.  Over the course of the show’s first season, they began introducing the audience to lots of troopers, all with individual names and personalities, many of them even getting their own small arcs.  There were a few clone-centered early on, which included my personal favorite episode, “Innocents of Ryloth,” the middle entry of Season 1’s Ryloth trilogy.  “Innocents” brought in troopers Waxer and Boil, and bickering pair that would crop up a couple more times over the course of the show.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Waxer, Boil, Clone Commander Cody, and Mace Windu make up the “Assualt on Ryloth” Battle Pack, which was available exclusively at Target in 2009.  The set is based primarily on “Innocents,” though Mace’s presence brings in the follow-up, “Liberty on Ryloth.”

WAXER

Technically, Waxer appeared prior to “Innocents,” as part of the tie-in comic “Slaves of the Republic.”  Of course, the timing is close enough that Waxer was likely created for the show first and dropped into the comic later, given production cycles and all.  Whatever the case, Waxer’s appearance in “Innocents” is certainly the better showcase.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 24 points of articulation.  All of the figures in this set were built from pre-existing molds, which really isn’t too surprising for Waxer, what with him being a clone and all.  Nevertheless, there’s a surprising amount of frankenstiening going on here.  Waxer uses the body of Clone Trooper Denal (meaning he’s got a spot for a backpack…not that he includes one, of course), with Commander Thire’s dual holster-sporting belt, and the original Captain Rex head, all topped off with the upgraded removable helmet first seen on Gree.  The holsters on the belt on show accurate, and I’m not entirely sure why they went with the torso with the peghole, but beyond that Waxer’s as good as any figure built from the basic clone parts, which is to say he’s very good.  He poses well, and his helmet sits properly and tightly on the head, and he’s fairly accurate to the animation models.  His paintwork is solid stuff, though it’s worth noting this set was released in a period when Hasbro was going for cleaned up clones.  He still gets his proper 212th markings, as well as his personalized helmet, with tally marks and all.  Waxer is packed with a pair of DC-17 Blaster pistols, as well as a DC-15A rifle.  Technically, he’s carrying the 15C in the episode, but it’s not like I don’t have a bunch of those I can give him, including one of the two in this very set.

BOIL

Though he never seemed to get the same prominence as Waxer, Boil ended up as the more fortunate of the two, since he was one of the few prominent clones still alive at the end of the show’s run…at least as far as we knew.  Boil and Waxer’s designs were very similar, but Boil ended up sticking with the Rex/Basic Trooper hybrid body that was first introduced with Matchstick, with the head of Commander Cody.  No extra holsters or spots for back packs on him.  He does *technically* still have Cody’s molded scars on his forehead, but there’s enough else going on that you really don’t notice them.  Beyond that, he’s another pretty solid clone figure.  His paint does change up things ever so slightly from Waxer.  Obviously the head’s different, what with the mustache and all, as is the helmet, which has Boil’s specific markings and graffiti.  There’s one more rather minor change between the two: Boil has solid colors on the shoulders, while Waxer had stripes.  In the show, they actually both had stripes, but when they they got their ARF armor in their second appearance, Boil had one solid shoulder to further distinguish.  This figure just carries that forward symmetrically.  It’s not technically show accurate, but I really don’t mind the slight change for the sake of a slightly more unique figure.  Boil isn’t quite as heavily armed as Waxer, with only a DC-15C blaster rifle.

CLONE COMMANDER CODY

As the clone in charge of Waxer and Boil’s battalion, Cody’s definitely a sensible choice for inclusion.  He’s essentially just a reissue of his single release figure from the main line.  Cody shared his legs and lower arms with the standard early line clones, but had his own head, torso, pelvis, and upper arms.  The head is the same one I just looked at for Boil, but the scarring now makes sense.  The other parts incorporate Cody’s unique armor elements.  Curiously, his torso, and especially his waist, is really skinny when compared to all of the other Clones released around the same time.  Was Cody just more conscious of his figure?  Whatever the case, Cody’s sculpt is just as strong as the other two clones, making him another really solid figure offering.  For the most part, Cody’s paint is identical to his single release, though the orange on his armor was dulled down a bit to better match Waxer and Boil, and he also loses the painted aspect of his facial scar.  Cody included his removable helmet, as well as a DC-15C blaster rifle.

MACE WINDU

Windu is honestly the weirdest choice in this set, since he only has a small role at the beginning and end of “Innocents,” with the primary Jedi being Obi-Wan.  While Windu wraps up the Ryloth Trilogy in the next episode, it’s without Waxer, Boil, and Cody.  I’d wager that the main reason he was chosen over Kenobi is that he was the rarer figure at the time, and Hasbro wanted collectors to get another shot.  Worked out for me, since I didn’t have a Windu.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  For whatever reason, the initial Jedi for this line weren’t given full articulation, so Mace lacks any sort of knee or ankle movement.  It definitely cuts down on the crazy action poses.  Despite the reduced articulation, his sculpt is actually pretty solid.  It’s a decent translation of the animation model, and fits in well with the rest of the line.  His paintwork is pretty minimal, with just a lot of browns for the most part.  For whatever reason, his eyebrows went from dark brown on the single to an orange here, which looks a little off, but really only if you closely examine him.  It honestly reads as him just not having eyebrows most of the time.  Windu included his lightsaber, plus a helmet, collar, and shoulder pads to give him some clone armor.  He also includes a spring-loaded waist joint, which gives him a sort of a slashing feature when you pull it back.  Yay?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

With “Innocents” being my favorite episode of the show, you’d think that this set would have been on my list from day one, right?  I mean, I got the high-end Sideshow set, right?  Yeah, well this pack wasn’t anywhere near as easily gotten as the Sideshow figures, so I actually didn’t have them.  In fact, for the longest time, I just passed off my generic 212th trooper as one of them.  It wasn’t until the set got traded into All Time a couple of weeks ago that I finally had my chance, and while they may have been a little pricey, I kind of counted them as a birthday present to myself.  Expensive as they may be, I really like the Waxer and Boil included here, and I’m happy to have finally gotten them.  It’s just too bad we never got a Numa to go with them.

#2118: Captain Rex – Jet Propulsion Pack

CAPTAIN REX — JET PROPULSION PACK

STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS (HASBRO)

“Captain Rex takes the battle to new heights. When the clone captain needs to reach high elevations, he boosts his rocket pack with a space combat propulsion pack. With this additional gear, Rex can take on battle droids even in space, increasing his chances of stopping even more of the droid army.”

Star Wars: The Clone Wars had the good fortune of hitting pretty much at the height of the 3 3/4 inch line’s quality and popularity, but even with a strong start, Hasbro wasn’t content to sit back and just tread water.  This meant that there were improvements to how they were making the figures with each successive year of the line.  In order to keep things relatively balanced, the show’s main characters all found themselves getting an update every so often.  Given “Clone” was in the title, it’s no surprise that the series’ main clone, Captain Rex, found himself with some of the most figures of any one in the line.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Jet Propulsion Pack Rex was released in 2011, as figure 62 in that year’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars Basic Series line-up.  He was the line’s third version of the character, following the initial release and his cold-weather variant.  This one used a fancy new accessory as an excuse to give us an all-new take on the character’s already in the toyline design, lest he be the only main character not to get an update following the Season 3 model changes.  Rex’s model didn’t change, but the upgrades to the way the figures were made meant his 2008 figure looked a bit out of place with Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka’s new figures.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 20 points of articulation.  Despite most of the clones being built from a common pool of parts, Rex was instead an all-new sculpt.  With that all-new sculpt was a new articulation scheme, which has a bit of give and take.  While he lost the hinges at the wrists, as well as the entire joint at the ankles and mid-torso, the figure gains a set of ball-jointed hips, which were quite a bit deal.  For the longest time, it didn’t matter how well-articulated a Star Wars figure may be, they’d always be saddled with a t-crotch.  This line’s ARF Trooper had experimented in a slightly different style of hips, which had some side to side, but again there was some give and take, and a definite learning curve on how those joints worked.  This Rex just had pretty straight forward ball-jointed hips, giving him the best possible range of movement.  It’s too bad that other joints had to be cut to facilitate this, but I think they managed a reasonable balance given the circumstances.  Rex’s sculpt is certainly the most show-accurate version of the character we got in the line, and probably one of the most show-accurate clone sculpts that the line produced period.  The armor’s details are for the most part very crisp, the removeable helmet manages to retain its accuracy even when being made from a softer plastic, and the underlying unmasked head isn’t as undersized as others in the line.  It also doesn’t have that issue of looking far older than it should, which a lot of the earlier clones (including the prior Rex) did.  His kama is cloth this time, aiding in the articulation, and also more appropriately simulating the improved movement among the show’s models from the same time.  Lastly, it’s a minor thing, but this Rex has both of his hands sculpted with trigger fingers, meaning for one of the very few times, he is able to properly dual wield.  That’s kind of amazing.  Rex’s paintwork is pretty solid.  The line went back and forth on if they wanted to do weathering on the clones, and Rex sort of catches some of that.  He lacks the dark wash of his earliest figures, but still has wavy edges to the colored sections of his armor, showing that he painted those sections on himself, and that they’re starting to wear a bit.  About the only thing that really bugs me on this guy’s paint is that his viewfinder was left all-white, but that’s pretty minor.  Rex has a pretty extensive selection of extras.  There’s the removable helmet, of course, as well as his dual blaster pistols, so that you can have a proper basic Rex.  On top of that, he also gets a larger blaster pistol and the titular Jet Propulsion pack.  The pack has a little removable Mandolorian-styled jetpack attached to the back as well, which can be directly plugged into Rex’s back.  Rex was seen sporting just the smaller pack from time to time on the show, so it’s nice that they included that option.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When this figure was released, I was still very much collecting this line, but I was sort of in and out on it.  I don’t know if I saw this guy in the wild, but I may have assumed he wasn’t all that different from the original release, which I was pretty happy with.  It wasn’t until years later that I actually found out how different he was, and at that point tracking one down was more of an endeavor.  My chance at getting one arrived a couple of weeks ago, courtesy of All Time Toys, who just got in a Clone Wars collection.  While piecing them together, I picked out a few for myself, which did *not* include Rex here.  However, in addition to yesterday’s Minimate set, Max had also given me $20 in store credit, which was just enough to net me this guy.  For the record?  That makes this his fault again.

#2116: Optimus Prime

OPTIMUS PRIME

TRANSFORMERS: STUDIO SERIES (HASBRO)

Okay, so I usually do a better job of spacing out the Transformers reviews, but…well, I have a lot of Transformers these days, and they’re piling up ever so slightly.  I know, what a terrible problem I have.  How can I free myself of the terrible shackles that are this problem?  And how in god’s name do I now own three separate Optimus Prime figures?  That’s the realest question right there.  For today’s review, I’m going back to the thing that broke me into Transformers in the first place: Bumblebee.  I picked up the title character in his movie form, but had as of yet not gotten anyone else, preferring to stick with the Siege stuff for the most part.  Nevertheless, here I am looking at another Optimus Prime figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Optimus Prime is a Voyager Class release, as part of the Transformers: Studio Series line-up, where he’s figure 38.  He started hitting shelves right around April/March, arriving with the comparatively far less in-demand Constructicon Rampage.  In his robot mode, the figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 22 practical points of articulation.  Optimus is an all-new sculpt and is certainly heavily inspired by his G1-based design from the film’s opening battle on Cybertron.  He’s not a pitch-perfect recreation of the final film design, generally being a little boxier than the one seen on the screen, but he’s not too far removed, and it’s certainly clear which version they’re going for, especially in the robot mode.  Where the Siege Optimus was going for an animation accurate model, this one instead serves more to upgrade the original toy, albeit with some more movie-ized details, making him look a fair bit more “real-world.”  He’s not as clean or sleek as the Siege Optimus, and he has a few more spots of kibble, with the back and forearms being the most prominent.  The back doesn’t bug me quite so much, but the forearms are a little frustrating, especially since they aren’t as clean as the corresponding kibble on the Siege figure, and they have a tendency to start unfolding during posing.  That being said, the overall appearance of the robot mode is pretty cool, and he makes for a solid action figure.  Optimus’ alt-mode is the source of even more inaccuracy compared to the film because while Bumblebee turned into an officially-licensed VW Beetle, Optimus instead settles for an unlicensed equivalent to the Freightliner he turns into in the film.  It’s not quite accurate, but it’s admittedly not a bad design all things considered.  Additionally, while it’s definitely very fiddly and packed with false shell pieces for the final mode, the transformation’s not too bad on this one, making transforming back and forth pretty easy going.  Optimus is packed with his Ion Blaster he’s seen using in the opening battle, which is a nicely scaled piece.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

So, this Optimus is officially my “patience is a virtue” Optimus.  As one of the most demanded and sought after Studio Series releases, this guy came and went pretty quickly at All Time Toys, my usual spot for Transformers.  As such, I didn’t get one at the time of release, and in fact gave up the chance to grab a re-stock later down the line so that another customer could have him.  When a loose figure was traded into the store a few weeks back, the owner handed him over and said “your patience paid off.  Happy Birthday,” and just like that, I had an Optimus.  Like I noted when I reviewed Galaxy Force Optimus, the Siege Voyager remains my go-to, but there’s a lot I like about this figure.

#2113: Jetfire

JETFIRE

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE

I’m getting the urge to start this review off with a comment about how this site could do with some more Robotech reviews, but…that’s not entirely the right call for this particular review.  And, if you’re wondering to yourself “Ethan, why are you bringing up Robotech in a Transformers review?”, then allow me to explain.  Today’s focus is the latest iteration of Jetfire, a 1985 addition to Transformers, who was notable for being a repurposed Macross VF-1S toy for his original release.  Though repurposing pre-existing toys was the vintage Transformers line’s jam, Jetfire was the odd man out in that his original toy wasn’t produced by Takara, and therefore Takara, as Hasbro’s Japanese equivalent, were less inclined to support this particular release.  For the purposes of the cartoon, Jetfire had to go through a pretty rigorous set of design changes, and even got a new name, Skyfire.  Since then, every subsequent release has somewhat walked the thin line between vintage toy accuracy and cartoon accuracy.  This one just continues that trend, albeit with some caveats.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Jetfire is the debut of a new size-class of Transformers in the Siege line, dubbed the Commander Class.  Classically, Jetfire’s been a Leader Class release, but with the slight change-up of the gimmick behind the Leader Class figures, Jetfire needed to be a larger-scale figure, necessitating a new size-point, between the Leaders and the Titans.  In robot mode, the figure stands about 11 1/2 inches tall and he has 25 practical points of articulation.  Jetfire is a big, solid figure.  Definitely the most solid of the Siege figures so far.  Like a good number of the figures in the line, Jetfire has more than just the two looks.  Right out of the box, he’s in his stripped down robot form which is designed as a fairly straight adaptation of the Skyfire design from the show.  It’s a pretty solid recreation of that design, and thereby more of a departure from his Verictech roots.  He has an actual face, as he does in the show, which isn’t so much my speed, but it’s accurate, and a nice option for the figure.  The hands are posable, but unlike prior figures to use such hands, where issues holding weapons can be a problem, this figure is designed with a folding 5mm port.  Thanks to this, when his hands are open, the port is gone, but when they’re closed, he can properly hold his accessories.  It’s a great feature, and I hope they get more use out of it.  Speaking of the hands, they’re also the source of my only real issue with the figure, namely how his hands connect to the forearms.  To facilitate transformation, they fold out, and they have a tendency to pop out when trying to pull of routine posing with the hands, which can be slightly annoying.  Jetfire has another sort of new feature has to do with his insignia.  Though an Autobot by all official counts, Jetfire’s backstory frequently paints him as a reformed or at least otherwise former Decepticon, and this figure has a flippable insignia to note this change.  Again, I don’t ever see myself displaying that Decepticon symbol, but the option being there is really great.  Jetfire’s second mode serves to homage his vintage counterpart, via some additional armored parts.  He gets a faceplate, chestplate, and some wrist mounted guns.  While they don’t perfectly recreate the Veritech design (because there’s likely all sorts of potential legal issues regarding such a thing), it keeps enough common elements to get the point across.  While I can take or leave the chest piece, the faceplate’s definitely my preferred appearance for him, and I love how seamlessly it fits into place on the figure.

As his name suggests, Jetfire’s primary alt-mode is a fighter jet.  It’s easily the most complex transformation sequence I’ve encountered on one of these guys (which makes sense, since the one transforming Veritech I encountered was quite similar), and it’s the sort of thing that you’ll probably need to actually sit down and dedicate some time to doing properly.  He is definitely not a “swap back and forth on a whim” sort of figure.  That being said, as involved as the process may be, I didn’t find it frustrating or particularly difficult, which is a definite plus in my book.  The final product is a pretty straight recreation of his alt-mode from the cartoon, which works out pretty well, at least with the whole Cybertron setting. Perhaps the coolest aspect of the alt-mode is that the cockpit is properly scaled to hold a Titan Master as its pilot, as Doombox has so kindly illustrated here.  Jetfire is packed with a large rifle, which can split into two, as well as two sizable effects pieces, which can each split into three.  There’s a lot of multipurposing with the accessories here.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Robotech and Transformers are both rather new additions to my cultural lexicon, but I was still quite excited to find out about Jetfire being added to this line.  While larger scale Veritechs are a little outside of my price range, Jetfire offered me a similar experience at a much more bearable price point.  Jetfire came in alongside a whole slew of other stuff, but was still the very first figure I pulled out of the box after getting home.  There’s a lot going on with this figure, and it’s pretty much all awesome.  He’s got little minor flaws here and there (the hands being the only prominent one for me), but boy is he a lot of fun, and boy is he a great presence on the shelf.  I like him a lot.

Jetfire was purchased from my friends at All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for Transformers, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2111: Lord Zedd

LORD ZEDD

POWER RANGERS: THE LIGHTNING COLLECTION (HASBRO)

“I am Lord Zedd, Emperor of all I see. You have failed to complete the mission assigned to you. I will now resume command. Prepare the planet for my return!”

For the second season of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, Saban decided that they wanted another big bad to pair off with the first season’s Rita Repulsa.  There was just one slight problem: no such character existed in the original Japanese material they were importing.  So, it was up to them to introduce their own.  Enter Lord Zedd, a villain so frightening that parental complaints led to him eventually getting toned down.  Given his US-based nature, Zedd’s been less lucky than the Rangers when it comes to action figures.  Fortunately for him, he was right at the forefront of Hasbro’s recently launched Lightning Collection.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Lord Zedd is the second of the four figures that make up the first series of The Lightning Collection, designed to pair off with the White Ranger also featured in the assortment.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 34 points of articulation.  Unsurprisingly, he follows the same basic construction-style as the White Ranger, which is a slight departure from the articulation schemes on Black Series and Legends, but is actually a very solid layout, and I’d wager it’s something Hasbro’s probably going to try to phase into their other lines as well.  Zedd is another all-new sculpt, as one would expect; there aren’t exactly a lot of characters that Zedd could share parts with.  It’s a pretty solid match for what we see in the shows, albeit adjusted ever so slightly to remove some of the “guy in a rubber suit” elements that the real Zedd possessed.  The star element is definitely the head, which capture’s Zedd’s distinctive visage quite nicely, and isn’t horribly under-scaled like the Bandai offerings tended to be.  The body is…a little less impressive.  They’ve followed the same lead they went with on the White Ranger, so he’s a base body with armored elements on top.  Not a terrible idea, and honestly much nicer looking than the solid-construction Bandai figures, but the add-on elements are a very soft plastic.  While this worked well for the White Ranger’s chest armor, on Zedd’s more piece-meal affair, it leads to some parts that are a little floppy.  On my figure, the leg guards pop out of place a lot, as do the wrist bands whenever you go to change the hands. Posing him is definitely not quite as much fun as it was with Tommy.  That said, he sure does look the part.  Aiding in him looking the part is the paint work.  The silver armored elements are a stark, clean silver, while the “flesh” elements get a wash to bring out all of the recesses of the body, doing a pretty solid job of capturing Zedd’s intimidating presence from the show.  Zedd is packed with two sets of hands (two open gesture, one gripping, one fist), his signature staff, a lightning effect piece, and a growth bomb.  Not a bad load out at all.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Since acquiring my Figuarts Rangers, Zedd’s been at the top of my list.  He was pretty much off the table with Figarts, but with Hasbro taking over, I had renewed hope, and it paid off, because here he is.  Of course, I’m not the only one desperately waiting for a Zedd, and he’s the shortpack of the first assortment, so he’s by far the most difficult figure in the set to get ahold of.  I wasn’t able to get one from All Time’s first shipment, but lucked into one being traded into the store loose just a couple of weeks later.  He’s not as strong a figure as the White Ranger, and that’s only further punctuated by him having a lot more riding on him.  With that said, he’s unquestionably the best Zedd figure ever made (not that it takes much) and he is still a solid offering.