#1489: Cybertron Advisor Meister

CYBERTRON ADVISOR MEISTER

TRANSFORMERS: ENCORE (TOMY)

“08 Cybertron Advisor Meister

Function: Cybertron Advisor Assistant to Convoy

Transformation: Racing Car

Ability: Has a high performance stereo speaker system and is able to confuse enemies with light and sound displays.

Character: A skilled Cybertron warrior who loves Earth’s culture; knowledgeable and competent at undertaking dangerous missions.”

And behold, my stock of Transformers reviews grows exponentially!  Now I’ll have reviewed *three* of them!  As I’ve mentioned once or twice before on this site, Transformers generally aren’t on my collecting radar, and never really have been.  I’m moderately familiar with some parts of the franchise, though, and I do have a few characters that I’ll buy in toy form.  My all time favorite is Soundwave, but on the Autobots side of things, I’m also a pretty big fan of Jazz.  But wait…doesn’t the title say Cybertron Advisor Meister?  It does.  I’ll get to that in a second.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Cybertron Advisor Meister was released in 2008 as part of TOMY’s Transformers: Encore line.  In case you hadn’t yet caught on, Meister is Jazz’s name in Japan, and this is a Japanese release.  In fact, it’s a re-release, or a slight retooling anyway, of the original Jazz/Meister from the ‘80s.  In his robotic form, Meister stands about 5 inches tall and has 8 workable points of articulation, all in his arms.  His sculpt is okay for what it is, which is an old style Transformer.  This is back in the days when the priority was placed on the vehicle form, and less on the robot form, so he looks a little goofy to be sure.  There are a lot of cool little details, though, especially on the car parts of the sculpt.  I also quite like the head, which was the newest piece of the figure.  In his car form, Meister’s a race car, and he’s about 4 inches long and two inches wide, with four moving wheels.  My figure is missing his doors, but otherwise it’s a rather convincing transformation.  The paint work is actually pretty decent.  Mostly basic blacks, whites, and silvers, with a helping of vac metalicizing thrown in for good measure.  There’s some tampography on the fine details of the car, such as his number, Autobots symbol and the like.  It’s all quite clean, and a definite step above the decals seen on other releases.  Meister included a silver blaster, as well as shoulder mountable cannon (missing from mine).

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve always rather liked Jazz, but I’ve never had a proper toy of him.  I found this one at a 2nd Avenue of all places, in a bag with a bunch of die cast cars, for like $2.  I figured he was one of the Hasbro re-releases and was a little surprised to find out he was a foreign release.  It’s odd to me that something like this ended up at a 2nd Avenue, and I have the wonder what the story is behind that.  He’s missing a few pieces, but looks good enough in robot mode and I’m happy to have a Jazz for the shelf.

*I realized while writing this review that I’m a total dingus who left the foot pieces down for all of the photos.  Silly Ethan.  I’ll try to reshoot those when I can.

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The Blaster In Question #0033: FocusFire Crossbow

FOCUSFIRE CROSSBOW

REBELLE (ACCUSTRIKE)

The Rebelle line of products and its handling has always slightly confused me.  At a surface level, getting girls into a hobby dominated by boys by making products targeted to them sounds like a good thing, exactly what constitutes a “girl blaster” is odd to say the least.  I’m not about to go on a rant about gender equality or how Hasbro should run their business, but what I will do is talk about one such Rebelle blaster, the FocusFire Crossbow.  Let’s get into it.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The FocusFire Crossbow was released in 2017 as a crossover blaster between the Rebelle and Accustrike lines.  Mechanically, it’s a 5-round revolver.  That’s it, the crossbow arms don’t actually affect the performance of the blaster in any way.  As such, you may notice that I chose to leave them off of mine.  Had I left them connected, I could store a few extra darts on the crossbow arms themselves.  The string of the bow arms is intended to loop through the priming handle on the top of the blaster which locks back when primed and snaps forward again when you pull the trigger, thereby imitating a crossbow action kind of, I guess.  The internals aren’t really anything special, but I do quite like the exterior of the blaster quite a bit, at least up to a point.  I have always been a fan of Rebelle’s smoothed, clean shell designs for the blasters and this is no exception.  The FFC has some really nice flowing lines with just a little bit of texturing on the grip that adds an air of technological sophistication into the overall grace of the design (can you tell I was an art student?), kind of like somthing I’d expect from the Asari from the Mass Effect video game series.  I also really like the paint deco on the right side of the blaster.  It’s just a shame it didn’t make it to the other side as well, like with so many other Nerf blasters.  There aren’t any places to add attachments on this blaster, but it does have an interesting integrated sight setup on top.  The blue piece can fold up or down to give you a choice of sight picture.  When folded down, it effectively acts as a hybrid peep/notch sight that’s more or less parallel with the barrels.  Flipping it up gives you a few more options as the entire piece can theoretically work as a ladder sight for angling long-range shots with a few pre-selected notches for quicker aiming, I suppose.  It’s a nice feature, but it doesn’t really help that much if at all.  I assume it was added to coincide with the fact that this blaster comes with Accustrike darts.  In theory the better accuracy of the darts could be taken full advantage of with the use of proper sights, and while accustrike darts are vastly superior to Elite darts, its still a toy, so sights can only do so much.  There is at least nice contrast between the blue rear sight and the orange front sight so they’re easy to aquire and line up.  The construction of the blaster feels solid, so no issues there.  Where I do have some issues is in the scale of the grip area.  The grip is noticeably smaller than on standard Nerf blasters both in length and thickness.  I can still fit my whole hand on the grip, which is more than I can say for some Rebelle blasters, but the notch toward the end can dig into my pinky a little.  The worst part, though, is the stock.  It’s too small to use, period.  I know Rebelle is geared to younger girls, and in general girls are slightly smaller than boys, but when my 11 year old sister can’t even use this thing, you know it’s just too small.  I would have loved it if it was a useable length, but as it stands, its just this weird extra part that hangs down and blocks your wrist.  As is the norm for Rebelle, the FFC is a little underpowered when compared to similar Elite blasters.  Not by much, granted.  You can still land some good hits on your younger siblings with it, and of course, the added accuracy of the darts helps with shot placement.  The FocusFire Crossbow comes packaged with the bow arms not attached, and 5 fancy purple Accustrike darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Sadly, it seems like Rebelle has been on the decline as a product line.  There have still been some new releases with blasters like the Com-Bow, but not nearly as much as we used to see and that does bum me out.  Sure, maybe the line could have been handled better, but the problems are pretty much all easy fixes, and I’d much rather see these issues taken into account with future releases than have the whole line disappear.

 

#1485: Human Torch

HUMAN TORCH

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Flame on!  Johnny Storm suits ip to command the head as the scorching hot hero, The Human Torch.”

I noted the miracle that is new Fantastic Four Marvel Legends when I reviewed the Invisible Woman earlier this year.  She was the inaugural figure in what is set to be an under-running theme in the upcoming Walgreensexclusive Legends releases, which is set to give us a complete FF by the end of next year.  For the second figure in this them, Hasbro’s gone with Sue’s younger brother Johnny, better known as the Human Torch!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Human Torch is the newest Walgreens-exclusive Marvel Legends figure.  He started hitting most Walgreens’ shelves in the last month (though people have reported finding him for a few months now).  Johnny is a character that’s proved to be somewhat difficult to translate to plastic over the years.  The most successful figures have tended to be the ones that went for some sort of half-flamed-on variation.  This figure doesn’t do that, and instead takes a stab at the every so tricky fully flamed-on variation.  The figure stands about 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  He’s built on the Bucky Cap body, and, if I’m honest, I’m not 100% behind this choice.  Johnny’s typically be depicted as more on the slight side, so I was sort of expecting he’d be on the Pizza Spidey base.  At the very least, I was hoping that he’d use the Bucky Cap base with the less muscular Dr. Strange torso.  No such luck.  Admittedly, it’s not the worst choice of body.  It hardly ruins to figure.  He gets a new head, forearms, hands, shins, and feet, all sporting flame effects sculpted right onto them.  They’re obviously of a more stylized nature, but I think they look pretty decent.  They certainly look better than prior attempts.  The head is actually a fairly well rendered piece.  He’s got a sly grin, which is perfect for Johnny, and is a much better fit than the angry, teeth-gritted expressions we’ve gotten on prior figures.  They’ve foregone his hair, opting for a “bald” Johnny with unrelated flames at the top of his head, rather than some bizarre flame-hair-combo thing.  The paint on Johnny is pretty decent.  He’s molded all in translucent plastic, which adds quite a bit of life to the figure.  There’s some more opaque work on the actual flames, as well as some variation in the coloring, indicating his uniform beneath it all.  He’s clearly wearing his classic costume, which means he matches his sister.  I like that the head is a lighter yellow shade, making it clear that it’s his exposed flesh, and not the same color as his uniform.  Johnny is packed with two flame effect pieces (re-used from Iron Fist), as well as two standard fists, molded to match the figure.  Not quire as impressive as the whole extra figure included with his sister, but not terrible.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I grabbed Human Torch from a slightly out of the way Walgreens, where I was actually looking from Black Widow from the new Vintage series of Legends.  No luck there, but they had Johnny and he looked pretty cool, so I grabbed him.  Personally, I’m still a fan of the mid-flame-on style of figure, but this is definitely the best take on a fully-flamed-on Johnny that we’ve gotten!

#1483: Maz Kanata

MAZ KANATA

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES

“The destruction of her castle has forced Maz to become more mobile and take a more hands-on (and blasters-firing) role in the turbulent criminal underworld.  She offers help in the struggle against the first order by pointing the Resistance toward a mysterious new ally.”

Poor Maz Kanata was largely absent from the product for The Force Awakens, which was sort of sad, given how popular and memorable she proved to be.  In the case of proper action figures, her only one was in the smaller line from Hasbro, and she was only available as part of a boxed set, packed with three previously released figures.  A little annoying to say the least.  Fortunately, The Last Jedi’s gone and given her a larger scale figure fairly early on.  Things are looking up for good ol’ Maz!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Maz Kanata was released in the second assortment of The Last Jedi-themed Star Wars: The Black Series figures, numbered as figure 49.  At first, I thought she was another straight Force Awakens figure, but her bio at the very least seems to indicate otherwise.  I guess it wouldn’t be that odd for her to keep the same look for both films (it’s not like Yoda changed between Empire and Jedi).  The figure stands about 4 inches tall and she has 29 points of articulation.  Amongst those points of articulation are two points for each half of her goggles, which can be rotated upwards, just like we see in the movie.  I was slightly bummed that the smaller figure didn’t have moving goggles, so I’m glad that was remedied here.  Max’s sculpt is all-new to her, and it’s a pretty solid one at that.  The body in particular has a ton of really top-notch detail work, not only getting all the layering and such of her clothing down, but all of the texturing of the fabrics and her skin as well.  My only real complaint is that, comparatively, the head is a bit less detailed and all around softer looking.  It’s still a good piece, of course, but it does seem slightly off compared not just to the body, but also to the other head sculpts the line’s produced recently.    The paint on Maz is decent enough.  Nothing really stand-out or anything, but it’s clean and seems to mostly match up with her on-screen appearance.  I’m still not entirely sold on the metallic gold they used for her skin, but it’s hardly the worst choice ever.  Maz includes a very similar assortment of accessories to that of her smaller figure: a blaster, Luke’s lightsaber, and the box of junk the saber was found in.  The only real difference (apart from level of detail, of course) is that the blaster is now one of the standard Rebel blasters, which I believe may actually be a new piece to the line.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When I found most of Series 2 at Target a few weeks back, I was a little disappointed that Maz was the only one missing from the bunch.  A week or so later, Super Awesome Girlfriend and I were picking up a few pieces of furniture from Ikea and decided to stop by the nearest Target for a few things, and boom, there she was.  And, as luck would have it, Target was even having a sale on Star Wars stuff, so I got her for a discount even!  It was a long wait for this figure, but, like the Leia in this series, she was very much worth it.  I’m happy to finally add her to my collection!

The Blaster In Question #0032: Revonix 360

REVONIX 360

VORTEX

Ok, fine.  I was mean to you guys last week so here it is, an actual legitimate Vortex review.  Some of you may ask “But Tim, what is Vortex even?” to which I would reply, “Largely unsuccessful.”  Sure, it had its fans, but not enough to keep the line afloat.  Today, I’ll be looking at one of the last Vortex blasters to see a release, the Revonix 360.  What the heck is a revonix?  Let’s have a look and find out.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

First things first, “revonix” isn’t a word.  It’s not even a mishmash of a couple real words, and that’s really rather odd for Nerf.  Even the Vigilon is arguably “vigil” and “on.”  Still doesn’t make sense, though.  Best I can tell is “revo” refers to the rotating drum aaaaaaand… that’s it.  It’s just gibberish.  The Revonix 360 was released in 2013 as part of the Vortex line of blasters.  The main selling point of the entire line was its use of proprietary Vortex discs as ammo which provided greater range and consistent flight path over standard Elite darts.  The trade-off was the speed of the projectiles themselves which could be outrun by an enthusiastic glacier.  As with almost all Vortex blasters, the Revonix launches the discs by use of a spring-loaded lever that would effectively flick the discs out of the chamber instead of a more traditional air plunger mechanism.  What makes the Revonix unique is its style of magazine which holds the discs perpendicular to their flight path until one is loaded into the chamber by pumping the fore grip.  Within the magazine, the discs are held in 5 stacks of 6 which cycle through the blaster.  The drum magazine is fully integrated with the blaster, so you have to reload the discs one at at time through either of the ports on the sides of the blaster.  The shell of the Revonix is entirely new, though it does bear a striking resemblance to its predecessor, the Pyragon.  There is a very long attachment rail on the top of the blaster and a stock attachment lug in the back. Some images of the Revonix showed it with its own stock which looked pretty cool, but it seems that wasn’t ever put into production. Sadly the Revonix was released after the decision was made to change the deco style of the Vortex blasters from a cool high-tech sci-fi look to some sort of urban/punk/graffiti kind of something. I’m not really a fan, but as such, the Revonix sports a weird out of place flame paint scheme.  Oh well.  Another trait shared among the entirety of the Vortex line is how wide the blasters are compared to standard dart blasters.  The Revonix is even more so than that because of the great big drum mag, so the whole thing feels rather hefty in hand.  Thankfully the ergonomics are good.  No hard edges or sharp corners on the grips.  Due to the mechanical complexity of the blaster, priming it is fairly loud and requires a bit of elbow grease, but once you get a feel for it, it’s hard to deny the intimidation factor of hearing it rack in a new round, especially if you’re one of those younger siblings I keep talking about.  As stated above, Vortex blasters have a tendency to shoot straight and far but hit with minimal impact and it’s true here too.  Sure, it sounds, looks, and feels like a monster, but it’s really a precision tool of sibling harassment as you can pretty easily get shots to just barely skim someone’s head if they’re not looking.  If they can see you, though, it just takes an idle side-step to avoid one of the discs, so I would greatly recommend using stealth to your advantage.  Easier said than done with a blaster like this.  The Revonix 360 comes packaged with 30 red and white Vortex discs.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

There we have it, I finally got around to reviewing something from Vortex.  I am a little sad that the line is dead, I do quite enjoy all of my Vortex blasters still.  At the same time, I’m glad Nerf had the sense to end something that was floundering so they could make room for something awesome like Rival a little further down the road.

 

#1476: Obi-Wan Kenobi

OBI-WAN KENOBI

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (HASBRO)

Obi-Wan Kenobi…now that’s a name I haven’t heard in quite some time…  Or at  least not for about 11 months, since that’s the last time I reviewed an Obi-Wan figure.  A year’s “quite some time,” right?  That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.  Anyway, even 50 years after his demise at the hands of Darth Vader, Kenobi’s still getting new action figures, which seems like a pretty sweet deal if you can get it.  Today, I’m looking at the newest of those figures!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Obi-Wan is one of two refresher case figures in Hasbro’s first series of The Last Jedi figures.  He and Yoda (the other refresher figure) are shipping in refreshment cases of the Teal Wave of Series 1, and they started showing up most places last month.  This Kenobi figure represents the Alec Guinness version of the character from A New Hope, which is certainly my favorite.  The figure is about 4 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation.  He’s got an all-new sculpt, though parts of it, the head at the very least, appear to come from the same files as the Black Series figure.  In the case of the head, that’s definitely a good thing, since it means he’s on par with the earlier figure in terms of the likeness.  It’s a spot-on Guinness, no doubt.  The rest of the sculpt is pretty solid as well; the robes on the body are pretty similar in design to those of the Jedi Master Luke, right down to the way the articulation cuts through them.  The arms go with a slightly different style than most of the figures in this line.  They’re bent at the elbows and the articulation at the shoulders is cut at a slight angle.  The end result is that if you get the posing right, he can actually hold his lightsaber two-handed, which is a first for a basic series figure, at least for a good long while.  I dig it.  Kenobi’s robe is a separate, soft plastic piece.  The hood’s sculpted to be permanently up, but you can fold it inside out for an approximation of his hood down look.  I don’t mind the hood up, but I certainly won’t be surprised if this mold shows back up with a tweaked robe piece down the line.  The paint work on Obi-Wan is fairly basic, but certainly passable.  The application is all pretty clean, and the colors all match up pretty well with the on-screen look.  Obi-Wan was packed with his lightsaber, and also features the Force Link feature.  When placed up to the reader, you hear him say: “Obi-Wan Kenobi…,” “Run, Luke, Run!,” and there are a bunch of lightsaber sounds.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Obi-Wan was a fairly recent purchase.  I got him from Toys R Us, at the same time as the Dark Phoenix two-pack, in fact.  I don’t have a ton of Guinness Kenobis, and I rather liked the look of this one, so I grabbed him.  He’s actually pretty solid, and another fantastic addition to an already awesome line.

The Blaster In Question #0031: Modulus ECS-10

MODULUS ECS-10

MODULUS

It’s come to my attention that there is a glaring hole in the scope of my reviews thus far.  As it stands, an entire line has gone without a dedicated review up till this point.  An empty space in the catalog, like the eye of a hurricane, a vortex, if you will.  But that ends here.  It’s time to stop circling around the topic like debris in a vortex.  So now I bring you this review with great fervorTex.  That’s right, it’s time to talk about Modulus.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

Ok, that was mean to lead you on like that, I’m sorry.  Now that that’s out of the way, I feel like if we’re gonna be talking about the Modulus line, you have to start with the blaster that’s also called… Modulus.  It’s the Modulus Modulus?  You mean like Mario Mario?  It’s probably just easier for everyone to call it the ECS-10.  The Modulus ECS-10 was released in 2015 as the first blaster in the Modulus line.  Mechanically, the blaster works exactly like a Stryfe, using a magazine-fed flywheel setup, requiring 4 AA batteries to run.  The exterior work is completely original and showcases the primary focus of the line: accessories.  The ECS-10 has more than its fair share of attachment points including 5 attachment rails (one on the top handle, one on top of the body, one on either side, and one beneath the barrel) plus 2 more on the top and bottom of the included barrel extension.  In addition, there is a stock attachment lug in the back and a barrel attachment lug up front, but wait, there’s more.  Typically, if a Nerf blaster has a barrel attachment, it’s a simple case of male barrel to female accessory, but with the ECS-10, the barrel extension piece has both male and female connections, allowing for even more barrel pieces to be added.  For the most part, all components of the blaster work and feel good with just a couple rather pronounced exceptions.  First and most importantly is the grip.  When designing this blaster, the people at Nerf went for a skeletonized sci-fi looking handle which is cool until you pick up the blaster itself.  The construction leaves it a little creaky if you hold onto it with any significant force.  Worse than that, though is that there is a sharp little ridge that is positioned just perfectly to dig rather painfully into the webbing of your hand right by your thumb.  Now, Nerf has been known to quietly update some of their designs to fix some of the more egregious problems, so it may have been addressed in later releases, but on mine, it’s just bad.  The second area of concern is the stock, which, immediately upon handling, reveals itself to be comically floppy, lacking any kind of structural integrity whatsoever.  I guess it can hold a spare magazine, so there’s that.  It’s also removable so I don’t see it as being quite as irksome as the uncomfortable grip.  The other attachments don’t add any functionality to the blaster but they’re at least cool pieces in their own right.  The scope has a sharp look and provides one of the better sight pictures available on a Nerf blaster, while the vertical fore grip is vertical and adds a place to grip… in the fore.  Simple enough.  Being more or less a Stryfe reshell in its core, the ECS-10 performs accordingly, flinging darts a respectable distance and with just enough oomph to make it noticeable if you get hit, but not enough to get in trouble when you bust into your sibling’s room and light them up with a volley of foam.  The Modulus Modulus Luigi Mario ECS-10 comes packaged with a stock, a scope, a vertical fore grip, a barrel extension, a 10-round curved magazine (though the darts don’t actually go down far enough for the curve to do anything but look cool), and 10 Modulus colored Elite darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I remember when the image of the Modulus first leaked back in 2014, everyone was convinced it was going to be this revolutionary new system that could be configured as spring or flywheel powered just by exchanging a few parts.  Boy was that optimistic.  Don’t get me wrong, I think the Modulus  line is great for all the crazy new accessories it’s spawned, but it’s not the build-a-blaster dream so many people were convinced it was going to be.  I mean, there’s always time for Nerf to come up with something like that sometime in the future I suppose.  Just have to keep on dreaming.

 

#1472: Cyclops & Dark Phoenix

CYCLOPS & DARK PHOENIX

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Though Scott Summers and Jean Grey shared a psychic link, Cyclops was no match for the Dark Phoenix. As Grey came to possess the power of the Phoenix Force, the Dark Phoenix rose, mastering telekinesis to overthrow her opposition and ascend to cosmic dominance.”

There’s much fan debate over what’s truly the “definitive era” of the X-Men.  For most people, it’s really just the era that introduced you to the characters.  For me, it’s the “All-New, All-Different” era (the first one, not the Bendis one).  Few people would debate the impact of that era’s climactic story, The Dark Phoenix Saga, a story that not only helped define the course of the X-Men going forward, but also the course of the comics industry as a whole, for better or for worse.  The story has been the source of a handful of toy adaptations, including the item I’m looking at today, a two-pack of the two central players, Scott Summers and Jean Grey, aka Cyclops and the Dark Phoenix.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Cyclops and Dark Phoenix (or Marvel’s Dark Phoenix, as the box so possessively names her) are a Toys R Us-exclusive two pack from Hasbro’s Marvel Legends.  They’re one of four such packs this year, and were the first one to hit shelves, back in June.

CYCLOPS

Cyclops has had a lot of looks over the years, and while I’ve quite liked some of them (the Jim Lee look in particular is a favorite), this one’s really the top of the game.  It’s also the one that seems most neglected in the realm of action figures.  It was only released once in Toy Biz’s 5-inch X-Men line, as a rather hasty repaint, and then later in a two-pack as another hasty repaint.  There was a Toy Biz Marvel Legends release, but the less said about that, the better. This figure follows the formula established by the Warlock Series release, taking advantage of Hasbro’s new system to make the best version of this design out there.  The figure stands about 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  Like every other Hasbro Cyclops in the last five years, he’s built on the Bucky Cap base, which makes for some nice consistency, and also very much fits this incarnation of the character.  In addition to the base body, the figure makes use of the standard buccaneer boots, the special left hand from both the Warlock and Puck Series releases, and an all-new head and belt.  The belt is pretty standard fair; it’s a little floaty, but it gets the job done.  The head is very similar to the one we saw on the Lee Cyclops, just sans the hair. I liked the sculpt the first time around, and I still very much like it here. It definitely captures the character.  The paint’s an area of this figure that had the opportunity to be rather bland if not handled well.  In the comics, the bulk of the costume is blue, but it was always heavily shaded.  That’s a look that’s hard to pull off on a three-dimensional figure, and many others have tried an failed to make it work convincingly (including Hasbro themselves).  This figure looks a lot better than its predecessors.  The base color is a darker blue, and they’ve gone in and airbrushed in some light blue highlights.  The end result can be a little inconsistent in some spots, but it’s overall quite nice looking, and gets the idea across pretty well.  Cyclops includes no accessories, which is a slight letdown.  I would have liked an alternate screaming head, so as to help recreate the cover of #136.  As is, he certainly feels light.

DARK PHOENIX

We actually saw this figure a little while before this pairing was officially announced.  Her head sculpt was shown in one of Hasbro’s slideshows, unpainted.  It wasn’t much of a shock, mind you, since to date no company’s done a Phoenix without an accompanying Dark Phoenix close behind.  That guaranteed second use of tooling is definitely appealing.  The figure is about 6 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation.  Despite what might seem like an obvious chance to re-use some parts from the original Phoenix release, this figure is actually rather different from that one.  She starts with the same basic starting point, but with a different upper torso, thighs, and feet, and a brand new head sculpt. Most of the changes are minor, and virtually unnoticeable.  I certainly appreciate the new feet with flat heels, since it makes her a fair bit easier to keep her standing than the last one.  The new head is a really nice piece.  The hair in particular is really lively and dynamic, and just generally cool looking.  In terms of paint, this figure’s pretty decent all around.  She’s got a similar style of shading to the Cyclops on the red sections, and the yellows are pretty much the same as the first Phoenix.  The head takes the cake, though; the eyes are blanked out, but not straight white as they’re usually depicted.  Instead, they’re metallic, and accented by black on all sides.  The hair starts as a normal dark red, and then slowly becomes translucent, creating an almost fire-like quality.  It’s pretty cool.  Dark Phoenix makes up for Cyclops’ lack of extras, with two extra heads and a phoenix flame construct.  The first head is the same as the standard one, but with fully opaque hair and pupils in the eyes.  It’s not quite as cool, but it’s perfect if you’re looking to upgrade your basic Phoenix.  The second head is my least favorite of the options; she’s just got a calm expression, pupils, and straight hair.  It’s well done, but not particularly exciting.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve been looking forward to this set ever since the prototypes were first shown off.  Unfortunately, the two-packs appear to be the new scalper bait.  I found a small stash of this set back in June, but only had the money for one, which went to my Dad, since he had neither of the single releases and is the one who got me into this whole X-Men thing.  I didn’t see another one of these for a whole four months, but when I finally saw them again, I picked them up so fast.  I like this pair a lot.  I’m happy I found them.

#1471: Scarif Stormtrooper Squad Leader

SCARIF STORMTROOPER SQUAD LEADER

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES

“Specialist stormtroopers stationed at the top-secret Imperial military headquarters on Scarif, Shoretroopers patrol the beaches and bunkers of the planetary facility.”

Though the main Star Wars line has moved onto all of the product from this December’s Last Jedi, I’ve still got a few Rogue One products sitting on my shelf waiting to be reviewed.  There was sort of a mass influx of new figures over the summer, and a lot of them had to wait for their slot in the reviewing schedule.  None more so than the Rogue One stuff, which got put on hold so that I could focus on TLJ.  Now that I’ve got a bit of lull, I can finally get back to some of them.  So, after much delay, here’s this Shoretrooper figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Scarif Stormtrooper Squad Leader is the fourth and final figure from the Rogue One assortment of the Walmart-exclusive small-scale Star Wars: The Black Series line.  Of the four, this guy was by far the most difficult to acquire (which is part of why he’s being reviewed four months after the other three), largely due to his status as an army builder.  The name on this guy is a little confusing.  He’s listed as the “Squad Leader,” which is the name generally associated with the more decorated guy from the two-pack with the Moroff.  That name was again used for the more decorated look in the larger Black Series, where the look seen here was listed simply as “Scarif Stormtrooper.”  And when this look showed up in the basic line, it was “Shoretrooper.”  If I had to guess, I’d say Hasbro may have been initially planning to release the guy from the two-pack, but changed their minds after the packaging was underway.  At the end of the day, none of this actually affects the figure, though, so I guess it doesn’t really matter that much.  The figure stands a little under 4 inches tall and he has 26 points of articulation.  As with the rest of his assortment, the Shoretrooper’s articulation represents a marked improvement over the Force Awakens offerings from the prior year.  I’d place this guy on par with Cassian in terms of posabilty.  It’s nice that Hasbro put in the effort on these guys, since they’re probably less likely to see new figures going forward.  The sculpt on this guy is totally unique to him; no parts shared with any of his less articulated brethren (though I feel certain we’ll be seeing most of this body again for the Vintage Collection Hovertank Pilot).  It’s definitely solid work, and on par with the larger version of the same design.  The helmet could perhaps be a little sharper, but the detailing on the body is definitely top-notch.  The paint on this guy is definitely solid work.  All of the base work is pretty clean and the colors match what we see on-screen.  Like the larger Shoretroopers, he gets some dirt and grime, to help make his armor look a bit more used.  It’s a nice touch, and really adds a lot to the figure.  The Shoretrooper is packed with a standard E-11 Stormtrooper blaster.  That’s a bit less than the others in this assortment, so he feels a little light, but it’s not terrible.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve been looking for this guy pretty much since they hit back in last December.  He and Cassian were definitely my most wanted, but while I was able to find Cassian back in May, this guy eluded me for several more months.  I ended up finding him at the Walmart across the street from the apartment I was moving out of back in August.  Which, of course, was just in time for Walmart to bring the price on these figure back up to their full $12, rather than the $6 they’d been at all summer.  Oh well.  At least I got him.  Is he the most thrilling figure ever?  Perhaps not.  I’ve gotten every other Hasbro Shoretrooper, so he’s not particularly different or new, nor does he blow me away the way Cassian did.  That being said, he’s still a very good figure, and I’m glad I found one.

#1469: Luke Skywalker – Jedi Master

LUKE SKYWALKER – JEDI MASTER

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES

“After tragedy destroyed his attempt to rebuild the Jedi Knights, Luke Skywalker vanished from the galaxy. Now, the Resistance needs his help to thwart the efforts of the evil First Order.”

FINALLY!!!!!!  I got the freaking Black Series freaking Jedi Master freaking Luke freaking Skywalker!  And it only took me two freaking months to find it!  *deep breath*  Okay, it’s out of my system.  Sorry, it’s been a long journey to getting this guy.  But I have him, so now I’m gonna review him.  I thought about putting him in a nice casserole, but I didn’t really fit the formula.  So, hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s off to the review we go!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Jedi Master Luke Skywalker was released in the first assortment of The Last Jedi-themed Star Wars: The Black Series figures.  He’s figure 46, which makes him the second to last figure in the set numerically.  This figure also saw an early release at SDCC this year, in a two-pack alongside Jedi Training Rey.  As far as I can tell, the only difference is the packaging; the actual figures are the same.  Like the smaller Jedi Master Luke, this one is sporting his garb from the end of The Force Awakens, which is certainly a solid design.  The figure stands a little under 6 inches tall and he has 25 points of articulation.  The joints in his legs are obviously a little bit restricted by the lower portion of his robes, but you can still manage some fairly decent poses, and the rest of the joints are thankfully left unrestricted.  Luke’s sculpt is all-new, and does a pretty respectable job of capturing Luke’s look from the two films.  The likeness on this figure is a reasonable approximation of Hamill, though I think I might actually like the smaller figure’s take just a little bit more.  Similarly, I do find myself drawn to the detailing of the smaller figure over this one.  It’s not that this one’s bad at all.  He’s actually quite well-done.  There’s a lot of nice layering and wrinkling to the clothing.  I just find it to be a little softer than the smaller figure, and I’m not a huge fan of that.  I’m also not a huge fan of the generic gripping pose on the hands, especially since he doesn’t include anything to hold.  It just seems to me that some more specific gestures might make for more dynamic posing options.  Also, like the smaller figure, this one had a loop from which to hang a lightsaber hilt, albeit one that’s not included.  I’m still appreciative of the forward thinking on Hasbro’s part, though; it’s not like I don’t have any Skywalker sabers laying around.  The paintwork on Luke is decent enough.  The best of it’s definitely on the head, which has some nice accent work on the hair and beard, as well as some of the cleanest eyes I’ve seen from this line so far.  In terms of extras, Luke’s got his cloak, which is a fabric piece.  It’s not great.  There’s no real way to keep it in place on the figure, so it just really flops off of him a lot.  I can’t see myself using it much.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Luke, and by extension the rest of the first assortment of Last Jedi Black Series figures, has been quite difficult to find around these parts.  They were practically nonexistent on Force Friday, and they never really showed up after that either.  When I found Series 2, I was pretty much convinced I wasn’t finding Luke.  And then I did find him at an out of the way GameStop, about a week later.  Unfortunately, I’d dropped over $100 on action figures the day before, so I just couldn’t bring myself to buy him.  So, back to the car I went, with the hopes that he’d still be there at a later date.  I mentioned this to my dad, who pretty much immediately turned the car around, said “I didn’t buy anything yesterday” and marched into the GameStop to purchase this figure.  I swear, I try not to always buy stuff, but my family and friends won’t let me escape.  Because they love me or something.  It’s frustrating at times.  I’m happy to finally have this figure, especially after the long wait.  Is he perfect?  No, but he’s still solid, and definitely worth your time if you like this line.