#2696: Cyclonus

CYCLONUS

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: KINGDOM (HASBRO)

Yesterday, I kicked things off in a decidedly not G1 fashion for this week’s Transformers reviews.  Today, however, I’m flipping the script, and going for the decidedly G1 fashion.  See, in addition to this year’s focus on Beast Wars, the main line is also splitting that focus to take a look at the other notable piece of media with halfway notable anniversary, Transformers: The Movie.  While most of the ’86 focus is in Studio Series, it’s overflowing a touch into Kingdom as well.  One of Galvatron’s two lieutenants, Scourge, made it into the Studio Series line-up, but his other secondary, and today’s focus, Cyclonus is instead part of the Kingdom line-up.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Cyclonus makes up one half of the first Voyager Class assortment of Kingdom, alongside Optimus Primal.  He’s designed to be compatible with the Studio Series figures, so his design is generally closer to animation accuracy than prior main line figures.  In his robot mode, he stands about 7 inches tall and he has 25 usable points of articulation.  In contrast to the two Beast Wars figures I’ve looked at from the line, the articulation on this guy is pretty nicely designed and laid out.  The movement is pretty smooth, and he’s got a good range of motion.  The sculpt is very cleanly rendered, and followed the animation model very closely.  He’s appropriately sharp and angular, which is really how Cyclonus should be.  The kibble from his alt-mode folds up nicely into the robot mode, and doesn’t impede his movement.  Generally, it’s a nice, very solid sculpt, and the figure really has a nice heft to him.  Additionally, thanks to the design of the legs, it’s possible to adjust the height of the figure a little bit, thus replicating Cyclonus’ slightly variable size from the animation, which is certainly a cool touch.  Cyclonus is packed with his “Oxidating Laser” weapon, which is a pretty nifty looking sci-fi-esque gun.

Cyclonus’ alt-mode is a space jet fighter, just like it was in the movie.  It’s a pretty reasonable transformation process, that isn’t too difficult to get through.  It’s certainly not as fiddly as some of the Studio Series figures.  I did get a kick out of the Russian nesting doll-esque nature of unfolding the nose cone over and over again.  The end result is pretty decent, though I did have some trouble getting the mid-section to clip into place just right on mine.  I’m not sure if that’s an across the board thing, an issue with my figure thing, or an “Ethan’s not always great with Transformers” thing.  It’s certainly a minor thing, so there’s that.  Like the robot mode, the jet fighter mode is fairly animation accurate, and even has some fun little touches, such as fold out landing gear.  The Laser can be mounted to the top of the jet mode, for a more offensive set up.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

With the ’86 guys, I’m generally more of a heroes guy than a villains guy.  Because of that, I opted to pass on Scourge when he hit.  Cyclonus is a slightly different story for me.  He did have a tendency to get paired off against Ultra Magnus, and he’s also notable in the small handful of Transformers comics I’ve actually read.  Plus, there’s no denying that he’s got a pretty slick look.  All of that made it pretty hard for me to pass this guy up.  I’m glad I opted not to pass on him, because he’s quite a nice figure, and makes me feel not quite so bad about Kingdom as a whole.  Definitely my favorite piece of the figures from launch.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this guy for review.  If you’re looking for Transformers, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2695: Blackarachnia

BLACKARACHNIA

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: KINGDOM (HASBRO)

Okay, it’s a new month, and it feels like a good time to knock out some Transformers reviews, doesn’t it?  I happen to have this whole stack of them here, so I can just make a whole week out of it, can’t I?  Oh, yes I can!  We’re kicking things off in a decidedly not G1 fashion, and looking at one of this year’s big focusses for the line: Beast Wars.  I looked at Cheetor last month, and I’m finally getting the opportunity to follow that one up with another figure, this time from the opposing team (well, some of the time, anyway).  It’s Blackarachnia!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Blackarachnia is part of Transformers War For Cybertron: Kingdom’s first Deluxe Class assortment.  She and Cheetor make up the Beast Wars-half of this particular assortment.  Like Cheetor, Blackarachnia has multiple designs over the course of the show, but this figure goes for her original look, meaning she matches everyone else so far.  In robot mode, she stands about 5 1/4 inches tall and she has 23 practical points of articulation.  Movement wise, Blackarachnia is a little bit better than Cheetor, but still ends up feeling a touch restricted compared to other recent figures from the line.  At least her elbows and knees have a fuller range of motion.  At least the sculpt does a respectable job of replicating her design from the show, with notably less transformation induced compromises than we saw with Cheetor.  There’s certainly less really obnoxious kibble this time around, and she doesn’t feel quite as slapdash as that release.  She does still feel a little bit more…I don’t know exactly how to phrase it, but she’s just not quite as fun to mess with as some of the more G1-inspired bots.  Blackarachnia includes her crossbow-looking weapon thing, which is actually kind of cool, and I do like how they implemented the hands to be 5mm compatible without looking it.  That’s admittedly one of the better elements here.

Blackarachnia’s alt-mode is a black widow spider, which isn’t too surprising with the name and all.  I’m not big on spiders myself, so I’m just gonna have that one single photo there to illustrate.  I changed her once for the photo and then changed her back, because, again, not big on spiders.  Her transformation’s a little fiddly for my taste, and I don’t feel super satisfied with the end result and how it all clicks together, but it’s an okay alt-mode overall.  It maintains a good deal of posability on the legs, and does stay pretty well balanced, so those are all plusses.  Not a plus?  Remember how Cheetor had that issue with that one breaking peg?  Well, I was able to avoid breaking that one on mine, but I was not so lucky on the recurring issue with Blackarachnia.  There’s a peg on her chest, which is another pretty much guaranteed break.  Unfortunately, unlike Cheetor, there’s nothing else to really hold this piece secure in the robot mode once it breaks, and it just swings up and down now, which is more than a little bit annoying.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Blackarachnia’s more of a pre-emptive addition to my collection than anything else.  I’m a huge fan of Silverbolt, and in the event of us getting an updated Silverbolt (hopefully soon), I’ll definitely want her to go with him.  So, I went ahead and picked her up.  After being kind of disappointed by Cheetor, I held off on opening her up for a while, which is rarely a good sign with my figures.  Ultimately, I opened her for this review, and she’s okay at best.  Her robot mode isn’t bad overall, and is certainly an improvement on older versions of the character, but the fact that her transformation is pretty much guaranteed to break the figure is a major point against it, and the fact that that’s the second instance of such an issue in the line’s not a great track record.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure for review.  If you’re looking for Transformers, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2694: Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi

BEN (OBI-WAN) KENOBI

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (HASBRO)

“Legendary among the heroes of the Rebel Alliance, Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi is regarded as one of the greatest Jedi Knights ever to have lived. As a young Jedi who had just completed his own training, Obi-Wan made a solemn pledge to train young Anakin Skywalker in the ways of the Force. Anakin became a Jedi but then turned to the dark side and became Darth Vader. Many years later, destiny would have an older and wiser Obi-Wan guiding Anakin’s own son, Luke Skywalker, in the ways of the Force, and ultimately, in turning Vader back to the light side.”

Last week, I took my first dive into the Power of the Force Flashback Photo subset of figures, and rather poked fun at the concept and how far of a reach some of those figures were for the idea.  Well, in their defense, some of them did make at least some bit of sense.  Given that it was to tie-in with the first of the prequels, and there were actually some crossover characters, showing those characters from the original trilogy, and offering the flashback there?  Not the worst idea.  Among the cross over characters was Obi-Wan Kenobi, who I’m taking a look at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi, as he is so specifically named on the box, was part of the first set of “Flashback Photo” Power of the Force figures, hitting towards the end of 1998, just as we were getting prepped for the new movie.  He was our fourth Obi-Wan from the line, and only the second to be part of the regular line.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 10 points of articulation.  This would mark the first real move to improve the articulation on these figures, as Obi-Wan wound up with a whopping three joints in each of his arms.  Sure, they were all cut joints, and sure, the rest of his movement was majorly restricted by the robes, but it certainly was a step up.  Also of note was the fact that this was the first Obi-Wan not to be based on the first PotF figure’s molds, making him generally less oddly bulked up and weird looking.  He’s still a little more bulked up than Sir Alec Guinness actually was in the movie, but it’s not quite as insane.  Preposing is a bit more involved this time, with the figure being designed to directly interact with the “Flashback” Vader figure, in an effort to recreate their duel from A New Hope.  With the extra articulation, there’s a little more variety as to what you can do, though it’s still not a ton.  Honestly, the screen accurate thing wasn’t the worst concept, and it does at least make him a little more unique compared to others in the line.  It’s not a bad looking sculpt, either, and they were really starting to get the hang of making the clothes look fairly natural on the bodies.  The hood in particular doesn’t look too bad, and hoods are usually pretty darn tricky.  The only downside is that the hands have some difficulty holding the lightsaber, which does somewhat hinder his purpose.  In terms of paint work, Obi-Wan is about on par with the rest of the line, so he’s basic, but generally pretty well handled.  All of the important details are there, and they’re pretty cleanly applied.  Obi-Wan is packed with his lightsaber, which is about all he really needs.  Of course, he’s also got the Flashback Photo, which is about as intriguing here as it was with Beru.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

All of the Flashback Photo figures passed me by as a kid, just because there wasn’t actually much new coverage there.  This one in particular proved frustrating for me as a kid, because I just wanted a prequel Obi-Wan figure, and I kept finding this one, and he wasn’t really what I wanted.  Admittedly not really the figure’s fault, I suppose.  I wound up getting him this past fall when he was traded into All Time.  He’s not a bad little figure, and is probably this line’s best version of Obi-Wan.

#2692: Cobra Viper

COBRA VIPER

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

Alright, so, for my seventh entry in my crazy, insane “Day of the Vipers”–wait a minute! It’s not 2018 anymore, is it?  I…I already made it through the Day of the Vipers, didn’t I?  Right.  Sorry.  The “Day of the Vipers”, it did things to me, you guys.  I still haven’t fully recovered.  When I last left off with the Vipers, it was 2003, and the Joe line had just done a re-brand into it’s Spy Troops incarnation.  That line would lead into Valor Vs Venom, which got its own brand new Viper mold.  After VvV, the 3 3/4 inch line went on another hiatus at mainline retail, and moved to Direct To Consumer markets, until returning in 2007 with the 25th Anniversary line.  The Viper would gain an additional seven figures from that line (the first of which I reviewed here back in 2016), and then another revamp in the Pursuit of Cobra/30th Anniversary style.  The 3 3/4 inch line again went into hiatus following the franchise’s 50th anniversary, but Joes have returned once more, now in a 6 inch scale, and with an all-new Viper figure to boot.  What could possibly go wrong?  Yeah, about that…

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Cobra Viper is the other half of the second “Special Misions: Cobra Island” assortment of G.I. Joe: Classified Series.  He’s officially figure 22 in the line, the highest numbered figure so far in the line-up.  He follows the trend set by the Cobra Trooper of standard Cobra army builders being exclusives, which isn’t very cool.  Hopefully he’ll also get a second release in the main line, just like the standard trooper, because as of now, he’s even harder to find than that one was. The figure stands about 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 35 points of articulation.  The Viper’s design is unquestionably an update on his V1 design.  Most Vipers since the ’00s have worked from this same reference material, so there’s been a lot of smaller tweaks to it over the years.  This one follows suit, with its own handful of tweaks, but does honestly stick closer to the original design than a lot of the Classified figures so far.  Most of the tweaks are of the rather minor variety, changing up some of the specifics of design, to modernize and somewhat utilitarianize the look, while still kind of hitting the same ending mark.  Things like the ribbed section of the shoulders on the original figure have now been adjusted to be straps holing things in place.  Same end result visually, but a more practical rational for it, and one that fits a bit more with the aesthetics of the line.  The biggest change to the character’s visual is on the arms; rather than the tightly rolled up sleeves of the original figure, this one’s arms are almost entirely covered in the default set-up.  The changes that cause this are two-fold.  Firstly, the new add-on pieces for the wrist guards are designed with removing them in mind, so they wrap solidly all around the arm, rather than leaving most of the forearm exposed like the original design.  Secondly, the sleeves come much further down the arms than the original, almost exactly meeting the guards.  This bit is caused by the figure’s only re-use; namely, he has the upper torso and arms of the Duke figure.  It’s not the worst choice of re-use, even if the sleeves aren’t quite right; it changes things a little bit, and removing the guards entirely helps to sort of simulate the old look in its own way as well.  He also gets Duke’s holster for his leg, giving the Viper a side-arm he doesn’t classically have.  The rest of the figure’s sculpt, apart from the arms, is all-new.  It’s a pretty solid sculpt, with quite a bit going on, and quite a few layers.  The helmet is a very clean piece; its shape is slightly sharper and more stylized than the classic helmet, but it fits well with the rest of the figure’s design.  Much like the 25th Anniversary figure, this one’s goggles are a separate piece, and much like that figure, there is some difficulty keeping them in place.  With a little bit of doing, you can get it to sit a little bit more securely, but I’ve heard that it’s prone to breakage, so I was quite careful.  Even so, mine’s started to split a bit at the back, so I don’t foresee it holding out terribly longer.  Ultimately, the removable goggles are an intriguing idea, but much like the 25th, I’m hoping Hasbro uses later releases to offer up a version with the goggles attached directly to the helmet.  The goggles are an interesting experiment, but they always seem to introduce extra problems, and honestly, how many people are really looking to display the Viper without the goggles?  It winds up as the one really annoying feature on an otherwise enjoyable figure.  The paint work on this figure is pretty decent.  It follows the usual set-up for the color scheme on a Viper, with a touch of extra red detailing worked in.  The flesh tone on the arms is a little sloppy around the edges, and misses the mark, as well as having a spot in the middle of one arm.  These parts aren’t really meant for being seen, I suppose, so it’s not the *worst* possible place for issues to occur.  The Viper’s accessory selection includes the previously mentioned goggles, a removable bandana piece, a back pack, Duke’s pistol (to match the holster), and a rifle with a removable clip.  The rifle’s not quite the distinctive silhouette of the classic Viper weapon, but it’s not an awful looking update either, and is a cool looking gun on its own merits.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Readers of the site may have *slightly* picked up on the fact that I’m quite a fan of the Vipers.  I’ve been anxiously awaiting their addition to Classified, and I was…less than pleased about the Target exclusive move.  Nevertheless, I was determined not to miss this one, but also not to pay scalper pricing.  I wound up stalking Target’s site for a couple of hours the day these dropped, and was actually able to get one pre-ordered in the less than 5 minutes they were actually in stock.  It wasn’t fun.  What also wasn’t fun was his delivery getting pushed back three separate times, all the while people were finding them in-store, and the aftermarket price was skyrocketing.  Fortunately, they actually came through, and he actually arrived, but Target *really* needs to work on that pre-order system…or maybe just not carry quite so many exclusives?  I don’t know.  It just seems like a bad set-up.  At least the actual figure turned out pretty nicely.  The goggles are annoying, but otherwise, I really like him.  And I’d really like to be able to have a few more of them, so maybe a mainline release?

*The classic Viper rifle above was actually given to me, along with a few other classic Joe-esque designs, by Mark2Designs, whose work is quite impressive, and can be seen on his Instagram page!

#2691: Firefly

FIREFLY

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

I haven’t taken a look at anything from G.I. Joe since October, which does feel like a bit of a gap, doesn’t it?  In my defense, there hasn’t been a ton to look at, since I’ve been kind of keeping up with Classified as it’s been moving along, and there was a bit of a gap in new releases, as they at least attempted to actually get some of the older releases to some stores.  But, the new year has brought some new figures…or more specifically some new exclusives.  I know, I’m not thrilled either.  I’m starting things off with the *slightly* less frightening to acquire offering, Cobra’s resident saboteur, Firefly!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Firefly is one half of the second Target-exclusive “Special Missions: Cobra Island” series of G.I. Joe: Classified Series.  He brings us another Cobra mainstay, and another character that *probably* shouldn’t have started as an exclusive, but, hey, let’s not open that particular can of worms, huh?  Firefly stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 34 points of articulation.  FIrefly’s design is one of the ones that’s a little further removed from his classic v1 appearance, at least in terms of direct replication.  All of the major strokes are there to ID him, but he modernizes a few elements.  It’s not incredibly new for the character, since elements like the goggles and the bomb disposal vest were incorporated into the character’s design back during Resolute and Renegades, making him more of an adaptation of all of the character’s appearances through the years, rather than focusing in on just one figure in particular.  The figure is a mix of old and new pieces to achieve this design.  His upper half is shared with Beach Head, while the legs come from Snake Eyes.  While we’ve had some re-use previously, this is the first time that any of them have crossed teams.  Fortunately, they end up looking pretty standard issue, so it doesn’t look too specifically Joe-y.  He gets a new head and boots, as well as an overlay for the bomb vest.  The head’s the best piece, and I absolutely love what you can make out of the crazed expression beneath the mask, as well as that small touch of scarring over the eye.  The boots are sufficiently unique looking, if maybe not much to write home about.  They get the job done.  The vest piece is pretty cool looking, but my main beef with it is how much it restricts the mobility on the torso and hips.  It definitely impairs his posability a touch.  Firefly’s paint work is pretty nicely handled.  He’s got some proper camo detailing, which looks pretty sweet, and they’ve managed to keep him in all greys without him looking too bland or boring.  I also quite like the detailing around the eyes; it really makes them pop.  Firefly is pretty well off when it comes to accessory selection, including a pair of goggles, a gun (based on a modified version of the Nerf Vortex Praxis; thanks Tim!), a backpack, stack of dynamite, drone, and control panel for the drone.  The goggles are another cool piece of customization, and the drone’s certainly a lot of fun, and can even be stored on the backpack (as can the dynamite).  I wish he had a spot for the control panel, but no placement for it seemed to make sense to me.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When these figures were shown off, I honestly didn’t pay Firefly much mind.  I was quite happy with Havoc as a stand-in on the shelf, and this one was an exclusive, and that’s not a game I was really looking to play.  I was far more invested in getting his assortment-mate anyway, so I wasn’t going to put any real effort into this one.  Then they started hitting, and I did stick to that bit about no effort.  Max, however, managed to find a pair of them out in the wild, and hooked me up with this one.  Admittedly, even after getting him, I held off of actually cracking him open for a bit out of protest about getting him before my pre-order for the other figure actually even shipped, but, well, he’s open now, so I guess you can fill in some blanks there.  He’s a well put together figure, but I can’t say he really jumps out at me as much as others from the line.  Still, I’m happy to have him, I guess.

#2690: Grand Admiral Thrawn

GRAND ADMIRAL THRAWN

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES ARCHIVE (HASBRO)

“Thrawn was a male Chiss, known for his brilliant strategic mind and ruthlessness, he was determined to ‘pull the Rebels apart piece by piece’ for the Empire.”

Late last year, I did my first review centered on Grand Admiral Thrawn, a rather notable character in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, and one of the first elements from the old EU to be officially canonized by Disney following their take-over of the franchise.  Thrawn’s inclusion in Rebels netted him a couple of new figures, a feature in Star Wars: The Black Series included.  Thrawn was originally an SDCC release, and then got a standard release alongside the first chunk of Last Jedi items in late 2017.  Both of them proved rather scarce even at the time, and in light of the rest of the Rebels figures getting re-released over the fall, Thrawn was in dire need of some sort of reissue.  Thankfully, Hasbro’s Archive series is here to the rescue on that one.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Grand Admiral Thrawn is part of the four figure line-up that makes the third series of The Black Series Archive.  Thrawn, like the rest of the Rebels figures, is designed to be a real world approximation of his animation model.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  Structurally, this figure is, of course, identical to his original two releases.  Additionally, his articulation scheme follows the set-up of the other Imperial Officers we’ve gotten in the line.  Interestingly, however, he’s got no parts in common with any of those figures.  Presumably, it’s in order to make Thrawn a little taller than the other Officers.  Whatever the case, it’s a good sculpt, and matches the other officers well, while still adding a bit more variety to the Officer’s line-up.  Compared to some of the more recent figures in the line, his articulation is a little bit restrictive (the vast improvements really started to hit just after this guy was released), but it’s certainly enough for the sorts of poses you’ll be putting Thrawn into.  Thrawn’s head sculpt is a solid translation of his animated design into a more real world appearance.  Like with Hera, the more alien elements do seem to aid a bit in the transition, so he doesn’t wind up looking quite as wonky as Kanan or Ezra.  Thrawn’s paint work is generally pretty cleanly handled.  It’s mostly pretty basic work, but the application’s pretty sharp.  The one notable change-up for this release is the transition to the printing technique on the face.  It’s not as drastic a change on Thrawn as it is on other figures, but it’s a touch more lifelike and generally looks quite nice.  Thrawn’s only accessory is a small blaster, which he can hold, or stow in his holster.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I missed out on Thrawn the first time around.  I don’t believe I ever actually saw him in person, and, admittedly, I wasn’t really looking, since I hadn’t really had any exposure to the character at the time.  I’ve subsequently read a bit of Timothy Zahn’s work with the character and watched through Rebels, which left me really wanting to have him in figure form.  Thankfully, the Archive release hit just at the right time for me, allowing me to finally put this updated version of the character on the shelf.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure for review.  If you’re looking for Black Series, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2689: Pumpkin Rapper

PUMPKIN RAPPER

POWER RANGERS: LIGHTNING COLLECTION (HASBRO)

“Ooh, you Rangers make me mad, waking me up with a rap that bad!”

Hey, did you know that Power Rangers launched in the ’90s?  I know, that’s crazy.  It’s so easy to forget, what with there being no notable clues about the decade contained within the show, in any way that might date it and make it really zany and hokey when you look back on it.  None at all.  Just devoid of that sort of thing, right?  Now, let’s discuss this action figure of a rapping pumpkin monster, so wonderfully named “Pumpkin Rapper.”  Truly a timeless creation, this one.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Pumpkin Rapper is part of the inaugural assortment of the “Monsters” spin-off line of Hasbro’s Lightning Collection line, alongside fellow MMPR monster King Sphynx.  Since he was a Zyu2 creation, Pumkin Rapper wasn’t privy to a toy tie-ins at the time of the show’s airing, since no molds already existed for him.  Because of this, this guy’s the first proper figure treatment Pumpkin Rapper has gotten, which is pretty nifty.  The figure stands 7 1/2 inches tall and he has 33 points of articulation.  The articulation scheme for this guy is essentially the same as the standard Rangers, with the exception of the neck joint, which is a balljoint connected to a cut joint.  It’s a kind of odd design, and means the head has a tendency to come off a lot, but it does give him a good range of motion on the head.  So, it’s ultimately a decent trade off all things considered.  His sculpt is an all-new one, and it’s a pretty solid translation of the suit from the show.  The head sculpt is definitely the coolest part, and really does the mask from the show justice.  The body suit gets the proper quilted pattern as well, and adds a nice bit of variety and texture to the sculpt.  When it comes to the paint, Hasbro definitely put in some effort on this guy, but still does wind up coming up a bit short on some elements.  They’ve added some accenting to both the head and the collar, in order to bring out some of the sculpted details.  Largely, this works out okay, but on the head in particular, it feels like he could really use some darker detailing on the eyes, because they have a tendency to get a little lost as is.  It’s also a little jarring that there’s accenting on the head and collar, but nowhere else.  It makes him look a touch uneven.  Pumpkin Rapper has a decent selection of accessories, including two sets of hands (gripping and an open/fist combo), two different vine whips, an effects piece, and three smaller pumpkins.  The pumpkins are definitely a lot of fun, thanks to the inclusion of a socket compatible with the standard Ranger neck joints.  It makes for some amusing display options to be sure!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I only caught the occasional episode of MMPR when they were airing, and mostly in the syndication re-runs or the odd VHS copy from Blockbuster, so I didn’t see Pumpkin Rapper’s debut episode as a kid, but he’s one of those designs that just really feels very classic MMPR, and as I’ve gotten back into Power Rangers stuff as an adult, he’s very definitely one of those Monsters that I’ve really come to appreciate.  So, when they announced they would be doing some monsters, and that he’d be in the first round, I was definitely on board for it.  Ultimately, he’d benefit from a slightly improved paint job, but overall this is a very fun release.  I look forward to other figures in this set.

Thanks to my sponsors over at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure to review.  If you’re looking for Lightning Collection, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2688: In Space Red Ranger vs Astronema

IN SPACE RED RANGER VS ASTRONEMA

POWER RANGERS: LIGHTNING COLLECTION (HASBRO)

Hitting the airwaves in 1998, Power Rangers In Space was, as noted previously on this site, kind of my jam.  I was six at the time, and that made me very much in the right target audience at the right time.  With the show being my jam and all, I had some of the toys as a kid, but I’ve been waiting to get some proper updates for a good while now.  I’m still kind of waiting, but at leas there’s been *some* progress made, because Hasbro is slowly feeding the show’s cast into their Lightning Collection line.  We’ve already gotten the whole Psycho Rangers line-up, as well as our first member of the main cast, the Yellow Ranger, Ashley Hammond, but now we’re getting both the team leader and Red Ranger Andros and the show’s main villain (who is also secretly Andros’ long-lost sister…spoilers) Astronema, in one convenient two-pack!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The In Space Red Ranger and Astronema make up one half of the second assortment of two-packs for The Lightning Collection, the other being the SPD A and B Squad Blues.  It follows the thus far established versus trend of the two-packs (well, the main release ones, anyway).

IN SPACE RED RANGER

Andros is clearly following in the footsteps of Galaxy Red, placing the team’s leader in a two-pack shortly after getting another team member in the main line.  It’s admittedly mildly surprising for him to show up in a two-pack first, but given Galaxy Red’s also getting a single release later this year, I’d imagine we’ll see a single release Andros sooner than later.  Hopefully they’ll at least give us a few other members of the team first.  The figure stands about 6 inches tall and he has 34 points of articulation.  Structurally, there’s not a ton of new stuff here, which I suppose isn’t a huge shock.  He’s using the basic core Ranger body, with his own helmet and belt pieces added in.  Andros is definitely one of those times that I feel the standard body is just a touch too bulky for the character, but it’s not terribly far off, I suppose.  The new helmet piece matches up nicely with Ashley’s in terms of design, and is likewise a pretty good match for the helmets as seen on the show.  The belt is likewise a pretty decent piece, and one I’m certain will be seeing re-use for the rest of the male Space Rangers.  The paint work on this guy is pretty basic, but also pretty straight forward.  The application’s pretty cleanly rendered, following the overall improved trend of the last two main line assortments.  Andros is packed with two sets of hands (pointing/fist combo, and gipping), his Spiral Saber, Astro Blaster, and an alternate unmasked head.  The unmasked head’s definitely one of the better ones we’ve gotten, with a more than passable likeness of Christopher Khayman Lee.  Notably, Andros includes no effects pieces for himself, a first for one of the Rangers in this line.  I can’t say I miss it *that much* but still notable.

ASTRONEMA

Oh wow!  Is that a non-Ranger antagonist from one of the non-MMPR shows?  That’s certainly a first!  …Okay, yes, I do know that she eventually served as a Ranger later down the line, but she’s not one here.  Don’t take this from me.  Everybody be cool.  Astronema is a character that kind of does a little bit of everything available for the Power Rangers mythos.  She’s the main villain for In Space, but ultimately follows the path of redemption, and even becomes a Ranger proper in the following incarnation of the the show, albeit for a brief time.  She’s also got that whole “sister of the Red Ranger” angle going on, and even gets to be brainwashed and crazy for a bit.  Astronema really just liked checking off all of the possible boxes, huh?  The figure stands just shy of 6 inches tall and she has 30 points of articulation.  She’s using some of the parts from Ranger Slayer, with the upper torso, abdomen, upper arms, and lower legs overlapping between the two figures.  I had some issues with the ankle joints on Ranger Slayer, but on this release, they seem a lot more solid, and Astronema has far less issue staying standing.  She gets a new head, forearms, and add-ons for her torso armor and the strap on her leg.  The new head is definitely the star piece; it’s got a great likeness of Melody Perkins in the role, and specifically is based on her blue-haired appearance from episodes 26-29 of the show.  I sums up her general look from the show quite nicely.  The new forearm pieces have a lot of really great detail work going into them as well, and the torso armor is designed so that it can be removed, adding some variety to her potential appearances.  Astronema’s paint work is generally pretty decent, but has a few drawbacks.  The biggest issue is on the face; they’ve attempted to emulate some blush on her cheeks, but they’ve gone just a touch too intense with the coverage, making her look a little too clown-esque for my taste.  It’s not the worst thing ever, and it’s better than it looked on some of the prototype shots, but it could definitely look a bit better.  Otherwise, things aren’t too bad.  The edge of the silver on her waist is a little fuzzy, and there are a few spots on the armor that would certainly benefit from some extra accenting, but for the most part it looks pretty decent.  In terms of accessories, Astronema is packed with two sets of hands (fists and gripping), her Wrath Staff, the boomerang looking thing she has on her leg, and an effects piece for her staff.  It’s a shame there aren’t any alternate heads with her differing hair.  We even saw a cyborg Astronema head when this figure was originally shown off, so clearly they planned for it.  Ultimately, I guess it just didn’t cost out.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Given how much of an In Space fan I am, it’s surely no surprise that I’ve been waiting to get more of them since this line launched.  Obviously, I was all in for an Andros, since I definitely want the main team, but I was also holding out at least a little bit of hope for an Astronema, given that she’s always been left out previously.  Getting both of them together?  That was bliss, honestly.  Sure, Andros is rather by the numbers, and Astronema could stand to have a couple of improvements, but ultimately I really like this set, and I look forward to a deeper In Space component for the line.

Thanks to my sponsors over at All Time Toys for setting me up with these figures to review.  If you’re looking for Lightning Collection, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2687: Aunt Beru

AUNT BERU

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Beru Lars was the closest thing to a mother that Luke Skywalker ever knew. She and husband Owen lovingly raised Luke as their nephew, and trained him in the mundane ways of moisture farming on their arid Tatooine homestead.. All along, Aunt Beru understood that a larger destiny awaited Luke. Years before, on another part of Tatooine, the slave Shmi Skywalker raised the boy who would become Luke’s father-Anakin Skywalker. Like Aunt Beru, she sadly understood she could only love and nurture her boy for a relatively short period of time before she had to allow him the freedom to fly on his own wings.”

I know what you’re thinking: “Why does Shmi Skywalker get mentioned in Aunt Beru’s bio?  Isn’t that a weird reach?”  Yes.  Yes, it is.  But it’s okay, because weird reaches are something that defined this particular branch of the Power of the Force line.  In celebration of the upcoming Prequel Trilogy, Hasbro (who was once again putting their name on action figures, after deciding to shut down their Kenner division) decided to celebrate in the best possible way you can when you can’t actually release anything from the movie you’re promoting: awkward, forced tie-ins.  Instead of actual Episode 1 based product, they produced the “Flashback Photo” figures, a set of Original Trilogy figures that each had a tie to someone from the new movie.  Figures like Vader, Obi-Wan, R2, or 3PO all made sense, being in both sets of movies and all, but what of other characters?  Well, you get pairings like Beru and Shmi, who aren’t related, and don’t actually interact on-screen….but, I guess they’re sort of similar?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Aunt Beru was added to the Power of the Force line in 1999, as part of the second round of the “Flashback Photo” figures that were leading into the new film.  This was Beru’s first figure (not an exceptional shock, really), and remains the only OT Beru figure we’ve ever gotten.  Clearly she’s overdue for Black Series treatment, right?  Riiiiight.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and she has 6 points of articulation.  She’s rather limited on the mobility front, due to the harder plastic skirt, but it’s Beru; it’s not like she was exactly action oriented.  Her sculpt was an all-new thing, and it’s actually a rather nice offering.  The proportions are fairly balanced and realistic, and pre-posing is kept to a minimum.  Her outfit is fairly well detailed, and she’s even got a halfway decent likeness of actress Sheila Mary Fraser.  Generally, just pretty good sculpting for the time when you get down to it.  Additionally, the paint work’s not too bad either.  Mostly, it’s flat base color work, but there’s some decent work on the pattern of her collar, and the accenting on the hair also works quite well.  Beru’s real selling point is the accessories.  She gets the best ever accessories for an Aunt Beru figure: a pitch and cup of blue milk!  It’s kind of a signature thing, so it’s nice they put it in there.  Hasbro obviously knew that old woman in a sensible jacket and dress serving a good, calcium building beverage wasn’t going to fly off shelves, so they packed Beru with one of the Lars family Service Droids.  Though simply dubbed “Service Droid” on the package, this guy is actually a WED-15-77 Treadwell droid, which is a somewhat recurring type of droid from the films and expanded universe material.  Treadwell even has a single joint at the base of his treads, and a spot for keeping the milk, making him the perfect companion piece to Beru.  Lastly, there’s the “Flashback Photo” piece, which is really just an extra piece of packaging that you’d be forgiven for immediately throwing away.  It’s a picture of Beru on a set of shutters; pull the tab down, and they flip to show Shmi Skywalker.  Thrilling.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This is one of those oddball releases that isn’t really ripe for buying as a kid…so I didn’t.  She got traded into All Time over the summer, and I snagged her then, as I continue my quest of getting all of Power of the Force.  Honestly, while she may not be the most thrilling character, Beru is a better figure than you might expect, and holds up surprisingly well for this line.  For me, though, Treadwell is the real star.  He’s just so nifty!

#2685: J. Jonah Jameson

J JONAH JAMESON

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Tough, gruff, and loud, J. Jonah Jameson is a force to be reckoned with in the boardroom and on the front pages of the Daily Bugle. As the newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Jameson is a perennial thorn in the side for both Peter Parker and Spider-Man.”

Not quite a villain, but certainly an antagonist, J. Jonah Jameson has been part of the Spider-Man mythos since almost the very beginning.  As really just a guy in a suit, though, you wouldn’t exactly expect him to be a very frequent part of the tie-in toys.  You would, however, be surprised by just how often he actually winds up getting proper action figure treatment.  He’s almost got Mary Jane beat!  What he’s never officially had, however, is a Marvel Legend, though he’s gotten close, since he had a 6 inch movie figure back in the Toy Biz days, and was also one of the extra heads included with Chameleon.  But now he’s official.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

J. Jonah Jameson is in the same boat as yesterday’s Black Cat figure; he’s a standalone release for the Retro Collection sub-line of Marvel Legends.  He’s also the third civilian release under this particular banner, so I guess the exciting package is good for something, huh?  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 30 points of articulation.  Jameson is built on the suit body, specifically the variant of the suit body that was used for Klaue, which is specifically designed for that vested appearance.  He additionally uses the Jameson head that was previously included with the Chameleon figure (taking a page out of the Toy Biz playbook), which was a pretty solid piece it’s first time around, and remains a really great character piece for Jameson.  In order to become sufficiently Jameson-esque, the body gets an assortment of new parts, including a new set of forearms, a new tie piece, and an add-on for the vest.  This vest/tie combo works better to help the body not be too bulked up, as it was on the Klaue body.  This set-up pretty nicely matches with Jameson’s usual newsroom appearances.  Additionally, the vest piece is open, so it can easily be removed, adding for an extra set of looks for the figure.  Jameson’s paint work is generally pretty decent.  It’s rather monotone, but that’s true to the character’s usual looks.  I quite like the pattern on the tie, and the application on the head is much improved over the one included with Chameleon.  Jameson gets a pretty solid selection of accessories to top everything off.  He’s got two sets of hands (one gripping, the other pointing/fist combo), the rolled up newspaper we saw included with Gwen (it makes way more sense here), and an unrolled copy as well, which features a ton of fun little references and in jokes.  Now, why it’s so much wider than the rolled up one is anyone’s guess; maybe it’s the proof they assembled before they sent it to the printers?  Actually, that would probably make a lot of sense, wouldn’t it?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Jameson is one of those essential characters that you just forget you don’t have a proper figure for.  The extra head was cool, but none of the available bodies really seemed to fit the character.  Getting a full figure for him wasn’t expected, but was certainly appreciated.  In hand, he’s a bit of an unsung figure, I think.  He’s quite nice, and he’ll go great with a display, but he doesn’t quite pop the way some of the costumed figures do.  Still, he’s definitely cool to have.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this guy for review.  If you’re looking for Marvel Legends, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.