#2760: Mechagodzilla

MECHAGODZILLA

GODZILLA VS KONG (PLAYMATES)

“A robotic apex predator with unstoppable powers of laser destruction, Mechagodzilla was created in secret to destroy Godzilla and end the reign of monsters.”

On March 31st, we finally got the conclusion to what Legendary’s Monsterverse has been building up to for a few years, Godzilla vs Kong, which was a movie that was, unsurprisingly, about Godzilla and Kong having a little bit of a spat.  It’s a big, fun action movie, which very much delivers on the promise of the title, and I really quite enjoyed it.  After being rather on the quiet side in terms of merchandising, this movie was a Monsterverse film that actually got a pretty well-formed tie-in line of toys, giving us a couple of variants of the two title characters, as well as some of the more antagonistic threats that they face within the movie.  The film’s biggest antagonist is definitely Godzilla’s robotic doppelgänger, Mechagodzilla!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Mechagodzilla is part of Playmates’ basic Godzilla vs Kong line, which is, as of right now, a Walmart-exclusive line of figures, which started hitting shelves a couple of weeks before the film’s release.  He was one of two items that leaked the character’s appearance prior to the film’s release, although we all had a sneaking suspicion even before that.  The figure stands about 6 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  He’s actually one of the best articulated figures in the line, with most of the basics covered, as well as a few extra joints.  I was a little bummed by the lack of elbow joints, but otherwise he’s pretty posable, especially given the price point.  The figure’s sculpt is so far unique to him, although it’s possible it might be picked for a repaint later down the line, like the basic Godzilla and Kong sculpts got.  Whatever the case, it’s a pretty decent one.  It’s not quite to the level of Bandai Japan or NECA, with the general detailing being a little on the softer side than the more collector-oriented stuff, but there’s still a lot of detailing going on there.  Like the rest of the line, he boasts “Battle Damage Reveal!” which in his case means that the panel on the center of his torso comes off, revealing some more mechanical details beneath.  It doesn’t really track directly with anything from the film, but it’s still kind of a cool gimmick.  Additionally, while it doesn’t do much for the figure on his own, the interior of the mouth has a spot that’s compatible with the atomic breath effects piece designed for the standard Godzilla.  We still don’t have said piece in red, of course, but it’s still nice from a cross-compatibility stand-point.  Mechagodzilla is rather basic on the paint work stand point, mostly being molded in the proper colors.  There’s a few small spots of red, but that’s really it.  It’s not particularly involved, and does look somewhat devoid of detail in some spots, but, again, for the price point, it does make some sense.  While Mechagodzilla doesn’t include any sort of effects pieces of his own, he does include a miniature version of the HEAV, or Hollow Earth Anti-Gravity Vehicle. Mechagodzilla doesn’t actually ever directly interact with the HEAV, but it’s a nice way of at least getting the piece out there.  It’s also just a pretty nifty little piece all on its own.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

While I’m hit and miss with Godzilla himself in regards to the toy world, I do like me some giant robots, and as such, Mechagodzilla is very definitely a thing that makes me go “wow, I want that.”  That’s ultimately what I said when, after Max picked up one of these for himself.  Thankfully, he was more than happy to keep an eye out for a second one for me, and boom, here we are.  Mechagodzilla is a really fun figure, and very hard to beat for the $10 asking price.  Playmates did a great job with this line, and I’m very seriously tempted to pick up a few of the others.

#2747: Ultra Magnus

ULTRA MAGNUS

TRANSFORMERS: PLATINUM EDITION (HASBRO)

“Ultra Magnus is an inspiration to the Autobots under his command, and a source of terror for the Decepticons who fight against him. His ancient hammer – a mighty artifact known as the Forge of Solus – is a symbol of strength with which he defends Autobot ideals. The thunderous strike of this incredible hammer has been known to topple even the greatest Decepticon warriors.”

While Transformers: Animated was certainly a success, the cartoon proper was partially financed by, and therefore partially owned by, Cartoon Network.  Hasbro was, at the time, looking to get into their own side of the media thing, launching their own television network, the Hub.  Along with re-runs of some of the older Hasbro-based shows, they also had some original programming, including a new animated series, Transformers: Prime.  Joining the show in its third season was my boy Ultra Magnus, voiced therein by veteran actor Michael Ironside.  I looked at one of Magnus’s show-based figures already, but today, I’m looking at one more.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ultra Magnus was released, not as part of Prime‘s direct tie-in toyline, but instead as part of the Transformers: Platinum Edition line, as well as part of Hasbro’s “Thrilling 30” initiative celebrating the franchise’s 30th anniversary, where he was numbered 3 of 30.  He was released in 2013, through both Big Bad Toy Store and Toys R Us.  In his robot mode, Magnus stands 9 inches tall and he has 21 points of articulation.  As a post-show-appearance Prime Magnus figure, he’s actually based on the character’s show design, rather than the earlier toyline-exclusive design.  Much like the Voyager Class version of the character I looked at last year, this guy is built largely from Optimus parts, specifically the Weaponizer Class Optimus from the Prime line’s first year.  He’s got a new head, shoulders, and chest plate, which bring him in line with the changes to the Optimus model made for Magnus in the show.  The new parts go well with the old, and he certainly looks the part.  He keeps Optimus’ internal weaponry gimmick.  Pressing the button on his left side, launches two spinning guns over his shoulders.  They’re pretty cool, though one of them spins just a bit longer than the other, which is somewhat amusing.  Magnus includes the Forge of Solus Hammer, which is quite a sizable piece of plastic on its own.  I definitely dig it.  He’s also got a small white gun piece, which is alright, but not quite as Magnus-y.  His color scheme departs from the Beast Hunters version, which was itself not super cartoon-accurate.  This one changes the blue to a better match, and changes the hands to a proper red, but swaps white for the sections that should be grey.  It’s not a terrible set-up, though.

Ultra Magnus’s alt-mode, much like the smaller figure, is a truck mode, very much similar to the one that Optimus had.  It’s notably a little differently handled from how the smaller version did things.  Rather than the extra plastic added by the new shoulders being shifted to the top and back of the truck cab, it’s now be changed into some additional armoring around the sides.  It’s honestly not as convincing from the front, but it’s really just as much of a trade off as the other one in the grand scheme of things.  The weapons gimmick is still usable in his vehicle mode, now launching from beneath the front grill of the truck.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This particular copy of this particular Ultra Magnus is nifty, because he’s actually been owned by three separate All Time Toys employees over the years.  He was first owned by Pat, who traded him in 2019 when downsizing his Transformers collection.  I was planning on snagging it then, but Max wound up snagging it first (this was before we’d really established the precedent of me getting first dibs on Magnuses, so we were still operating on him getting first dibs on Transformers), and then Max ultimately brought him back in last year, at which point I got him, and boom, here we are.  It’s funny, because I actually got this figure before a bunch of the other Magnuses I’ve picked up, but he got set to the side for a while, and now he almost feels kind of quaint, I suppose.  He’s certainly fun, and also one of the largest Magnus figures I own, which I suppose is pretty neat.

#2745: Ultra Magnus

ULTRA MAGNUS

TRANSFORMERS: CLASSICS (HASBRO)

As commander of Autobot City on Earth, Ultra Magnus commands the most powerful forces ever assembled, of which he is among the greatest. He was given the honor of City Commander by Optimus Prime because of his superior intelligence and incredible might as a warrior.”

Man, I really enjoyed reviewing that Ultra Magnus figure yesterday.  Perhaps I’ll review just one more.  Okay, I’ll be up front with you: that’s a bald-faced lie.  I’m not just reviewing one more Ultra Magnus.  This is low-key gonna be a Magnus week. Okay, that was another lie; it’s not gonna be low-key.  It’s just a Magnus week.  Deal.  I don’t have time for your complaining now.  What I do have time for, however, is another Ultra Magnus review.  Let’s get on that, huh?  For today’s focus, we jump ahead from 2001 to 2007, just before the release of the first live-action Transformers movie.  Ah, a simpler time.  The movie was pushed back from 2006 to the summer of 2007, so Hasbro opted to fill this gap in the schedule with some G1-inspired re-imaginings, dubbed Classics.  It’s not a huge line, and was driven at least in part by use of repaints.  Hey, Ultra Magnus can be a repaint!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ultra Magnus was originally packed alongside Skywarp in the Target-exclusive “Battle for Autobot City”, a 2007 addition to the Transformers: Classics line.  In an effort to keep with the whole “just doing repaints” thing they were going for to expand the line, Hasbro opted to neglect Magnus’s distinctive fully armored look, in favor of just recreating the inner bot what looked like an all white Optimus from the original release.  I suppose that’s fair.  In his robot mode, he stands about 6 inches tall and has 20 workable points of articulation.  Unsurprisingly, his sculpt is a complete re-use of the Classics Voyager Class Optimus Prime figure.  As far as Optimus sculpts go, this one certainly is one.  Okay, fine, I’ll actually go into more detail, I suppose.  This sculpt is a pretty good example of exactly what the Classics aim was, updating the classic G1 toy into something that felt more modern in the era of 2006, and definitely serves as the precursor to the likes of the War For Cybertron trilogy.  It doesn’t strive so much for animation accuracy as later versions would, opting for actually updating the character’s design somewhat, while still keeping all of those touch stone elements.  It’s an updated Optimus design that’s not just lifted from other media, and that’s honestly pretty cool.  For the most part, it’s a pretty decent sculpt, but it does suffer from some rather awkward kibble, especially when it comes to the forearms.  Effectively, the sides of the cab from the truck mode are just one flat piece, so they just have to hand there on the sides, and they never really look all that natural.  It’s definitely the figure’s main flaw in robot mode.  Magnus, of course, changes up the color scheme, going for his usual predominately while look.  It does stray a little further than usual from his vintage equivalent, swapping out the white lower legs for blue, and giving him black hands.  I think the lower legs thing was probably an attempt to give him more of Magnus’s usual color scheme, since they weren’t able to do a whole proper Magnus.  Like the Optimus figure, Magnus included two gun pieces, which are also part of his transformation.

Said transformation has him turning into a more modernized (at least, circa 2006, anyway) style of truck cab.  It definitely feels more like an Optimus alt-mode than a Magnus one, but I guess most Magnus alt-modes are an Optimus alt-mode first and a Magnus alt-mode second.  It’s not a half bad design on it’s own, and it’s aided by the guns turning into his smoke stacks and the top of the truck respectively.  The top of the cab does have a little trouble staying secured, but otherwise the transformation process works pretty well, and it’s not overly complicated.  Even more of the blue is evident in the truck mode, and I actually think it works pretty well for the design.  In general, the vehicle mode does seem more cohesive than the robot mode, so I’ll give it the win there.

THE UNOFFICIAL TOTALLY NON-SANCTIONED ADD-ON ITSELF

Transformers has a rather intensive and expansive third party market of all sorts of items to improve your official figures, or even outright new figures to accent your official figures.  Or outright new figures to accent your other non-official figures, depending on how you go.  In 2007, it was in a far more primitive, much less intense state, but Magnus played a rather sizable part in changing that.  Classically, both Magnus and Optimus are trucks with a trailer of some sort, but for the purposes of Classics, neither of them got the trailer.  For Optimus, he’s still the core bot, but for Magnus, that missing trailer means he lacks the robot mode that most people actually associate with the character.  Enter Fansproject’s TFX-01: the City Commander.  Right out of the box, it’s in trailer mode, measuring about 7 inches in length.  It’s not really patterned on Magnus’s car carrier mode quite so much, relying a bit more on Prime’s usual trailer, again keeping the vehicle more tied to Prime than Magnus.  That said, it does mesh pretty well with the cab of the truck, and they even managed to get the four extra wheels on the back end to match up pretty closely to the ones on the figure proper.  The color scheme again sticks with a lot more blue than G1 Magnus in this mode, but I like it, and it continues the visual theme that Hasbro started nicely.

Of course, the main appeal of this set wasn’t so much giving Magnus a trailer, as much as it was giving Magnus that fully formed, armored appearance that we all know and love.  The transformation process from trailer to armor is a rather involved set-up (I definitely made good use of the comic book-style instructions included), with a lot of partsforming and moving pieces.  Ultimately, it’s not terribly far removed from the likes of the War For Cybertron Magnuses and how their respective armor up features work.  You disassemble the trailer, reconfigure the smaller pieces, and clip them onto the Classics figure.  The resulting armored up Magnus now stands about 8 1/2 inches tall, and is a big ol’ chunk of plastic, just like he should be.  The armor’s definitely boxier and blocker than other Magnuses, taking things a slightly more divergent direction from the G1 toy than later official Hasbro pieces.  You can very definitely feel the era of this item’s release creeping into the design, but I can really dig what they were going for, at it fits pretty seamlessly with the other Classics style figures.  The head goes a bit more robotic for Magnus, which is different, but still not a bad look, definitely in keeping with that diverging from the G1 figure the other direction.  He also at least slightly addresses the issue with the cab doors on the forearms, mostly by just making the forearms much larger in general, and thereby giving the doors somewhere to more properly sit.  Rather amusingly, that portion’s really the only bit of the underlying robot you can still really see.  The colors do a good job recalling the original Magnus, while also being a really good match for the colors used on the Classics figure, which is certainly a plus.  While the original piece didn’t actually have any sort of official logos or anything, mine did get at least the one repro label Autobot insignia, making him feel a little more official.  After you’ve got the whole armor set-up placed on the figure, you’re left with a chunk of the core trailer parts, which, again in keeping with the era of this release, can be folded up into an absurdly large gun/cannon thing.  It’s so goofy, but I love it.  There also were a few add-ons to this add-on, which is where mine got the shoulder mounted rockets, as well as the more G1-inspired rifle piece, both of which are pretty fantastic in their own right.  There also exists a slightly more G1-based alternate head, but I don’t actually have that one.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

My love for Magnus is predominately linked to his full armored appearances, since that’s what I actually think of when I think of the character.  With that in mind, I’ve been largely steering away from the “just a white Optimus” Magnuses as I’ve been tracking down older ones, and that meant Classics wasn’t high on my list.  I knew of the City Commander add-on kit’s existence, of course, but it’s not the most easily found thing, and even the Classics Magnus isn’t exactly growing on trees, so getting them both seemed like a bit of a long shot.  Boy, am I one for long shots, apparently.  Last summer, Max gave me a heads up on a sizable Transformers collection that was coming into All Time, and said Classics Magnus was in there.  I was about to pass, but then he followed it up with “and they also have the add-on set with the armor.”  And that’s when he got me.  Kinda hard to say no to getting the whole package all at once, isn’t it?  As my first real venture into the whole third party thing, I will say this was certainly a fun piece, and is a nice sort of precursor to the sorts of things that Hasbro would begin doing in-house.  I do really like him, quite a bit.

#2744: Ultra Magnus

ULTRA MAGNUS

TRANSFORMERS: ROBOTS IN DISGUISE (HASBRO)

My personal experiences with Transformers are, admittedly, slightly different from most of those within my age bracket.  I was exactly the right age for Beast Wars, and yet was never really all that enamored by Beast Wars, which I suppose is slightly odd.  Ultimately, the first incarnation that really grabbed my attention was Armada, but before that one hit, I did have something of an appreciation for its immediate predecessor, 2001’s Robots in Disguise.  Perhaps most notably, it proved my first exposure to the wonder that was Ultra Magnus, albeit in a slightly angstier form than usual.  RiD‘s tie-ins were rather brief, since it was really just filler, but there were two Magnusi of note, one big, and one small.  I’m looking at the small today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ultra Magnus was released in 2002, as part of the fourth and penultimate wave of the Basic Class-sized Spy Changers for the Robots in Disguise line.  They are, effectively, equivalent to modern day Core Class figures, or, before that, Legion Class.  Magnus and his wave-mates were notable for being new-to-the-line molds, based directly on the RiD characters, rather than being reissues of older G2 molds or releases of previously shelved molds.  Magnus is, of course, based on his RiD design, which was something of a departure from his classic design (though not as far removed as some of the others, including Optimus himself).  Pretty much, he trades in his shoulder pylons for extra leg height.  That’s important thing really.  This is a Magnus that does not, under any circumstances, skip leg day.  In his robot mold, Magnus stands 3 1/2 inches tall and has 5 points of articulation.  Yes, he can move at his neck and shoulders, as well as getting some weird side-kicks on the hips.  This Magnus can do splits, and isn’t that what you’ve always wanted out of a Magnus.  The sculpt’s not actually too bad, especially given the scale and style.  It makes for a reasonable approximation of Magnus’ show model in robot mode, and while it’s got a fair bit of kibble hanging off the back of it, it’s not terrible looking from the front, or really even at a slight angle.  Really, it’s just the arms, and the bit of the back with the front of his vehicle mode hanging off of it that are weird.  Honestly, weird’s probably not even the right word; they’re more rudimentary than anything.

Rudimentary is generally an appropriate word for a lot of things about this figure, including his alt-mode, or more specifically, his transformation into it.  You pretty much just collapse him down into his alternate car carrier mode.  It’s not hard at all, and takes all of 30 seconds, and that’s if you take a break in the middle to stop your hands from getting all cramped and stuff.  He turns into an okay approximation of his some what sci-fi looking truck mode from the show, albeit one that seems a little bit on the squat side.  He’s got two sets of working wheels, and three sets of non-working wheels, which does seem a little wonky, but again, at the scale and price point, it’s not the weirdest thing.  Probably the weirdest bit is that they painted one of the three non-working sets; why not just leave them all un-painted?  I guess I shouldn’t complain too much about extra paint.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

RiD was my first exposure to Ultra Magnus as a kid, and I thought he was just the coolest thing.  It’s amusing, in retrospect, because he’s a rather different take on the character, and not really the by the book Magnus I would come to love in later years.  I never had any Magnuses as a kid, which seems an awful shame, really.  I’ve been slowly amending that, and Max was here for the assist on this one in particular.  He was clearing out two large totes of Transformers junk from his garage, and this guy was in one of them, so he passed him along to me.  How thoughtful!  He’s not technologically astounding or anything, but he’s a fun little piece, and I can definitely get behind that.  Also, it’s another Magnus, so, you know, who am I to stop it, right?

#2727: IG-11 w/ Speeder Bike

IG-11 w/ SPEEDER BIKE

STAR WARS: MISSION FLEET (HASBRO)

After following the line for a good chunk of last year, I finally dove into actually reviewing Hasbro’s current, more all-ages aimed Star Wars line, Mission Fleet, in January of this year, and I ended that review by saying that I should probably go back and review some of the others…well, I haven’t gotten to that yet, and I’m not starting it today.  However, I do have another Mission Fleet review just the same, of a non-back-log item.  As The Mandalorian is the main event for Star Wars right now, the line has taken something of a focus on it, and we’ve already gotten a handful of show-inspired sets, with plans for more.  I looked at the main version of Mando in January, and now I’m looking at one of his compatriots, and certainly my favorite portion of the show, IG-11!

THE TOYS THEMSELVES

IG-11 with Speeder Bike is part of the first crop of Mission Fleet sets to be added to the line in 2021.  The set is officially dubbed “Protect the Bounty” and is another Expedition Class set.  It’s specifically patterned on IG-11’s retrieval of the Child from the Biker Scouts at the beginning of the first season finale.

IG-11 is the core figure of this set, and is presented here in his slightly dressed down appearance following his rebuilding by Kuiil, where he drops the twin bandoliers from his earlier appearance.  The figure is about 2 3/4 inches tall and has 10 points of articulation.  IG-11 is also available in the “Defend the Child” boxed set, with the bandolier, which hit at roughly the same time, if not a little bit earlier.  It’s the same core figure, just with the extra piece.  It’s a pretty solid sculpt; IG is hit a little less heavily by the stylization of the line, being a non-human character already.  In a rather amusing fashion, because of his hands actually having IG-11’s proper adjusted manipulators, this IG-11 sculpt is currently the most-show accurate version of the character we’ve gotten from Hasbro.  How about that?  Beyond that, it’s a very nice sculpt.  The detail work is quite sharp and in depth, and the articulation scheme works best for him out of all of the figures I’ve gotten so far in the line.  IG’s paint work is pretty nicely handled.  The bulk of his coloring is molded plastic, but there’s a surprising amount of paint apps, and he’s nice and cleanly defined.  IG-11 is packed with his two blasters, like the ones seen with earlier releases of the character.  He also includes another version of the Child, this one less of his own figure and more of an accessory.  He’s in the bag he was in during the finale.  It’s molded to sit on IG’s shoulders, and is scaled well to the other version of the character.

The vehicle component of this set is another speeder bike, this time the Imperial one that IG steals during the finale.  Like Mando’s vehicle, this one’s about 6 inches long, and scales well to IG and the Child.  The detailing’s all pretty solid, and it does a nice job of capturing the classic speeder bike design in the smaller scale.  It’s been adapted to add a couple of ports to it for use with the line’s various canons and such, which keeps the play style for the line going pretty well.  The color work on the bike is generally pretty basic, mostly with just molded colors, but there’s a touch of accenting on the main body of the bike, which is pretty impressive.  The bike is packed with a large missile launcher and corresponding missile, which can be mounted at any of the port points on the bike.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

While I knew of the “Defend the Child” set thanks to an in-hand photo late last year, and I knew of several of the other early 2021 offerings for this line, I didn’t actually know this one was coming.  My first knowledge of it came from Max finding two of them in-store, and texting me to find out if I wanted one.  Since IG’s my favorite part of the show, and this is one of my favorite sequences in the show, I was definitely down for this set.  It’s another nice little contained package set.

#2719: Autobot Elita-1

AUTOBOT ELITA-1

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON TRILOGY (HASBRO)

“Search for Alpha Trion” introduced a radical new concept to Transformers: women!  Okay, actually, it introduced gender in general, since previously they were just robots, and technically genderless.  Then these supposed “fem-bots” came along, and everything got kinda gendered…I guess.  The episode reveals that not only are there a force of female Autobots running around on Cybertron, but also that they had their own equivalent to Optimus Prime in his female counterpart, Elita-1 (whose name even has a similar root translation of “Best First”.  Pretty clever, right?).  Though central to “Search” and a fixture throughout the franchise’s various incarnations, Elita has remained a slightly less frequent choice for toys, which is really a shame.  Like Bumblebee, she was a character given a rather sizable role in Netflix’s War For Cybertron adaptation even before getting a toy in the accompanying toyline, and also like Bumblebee, she got her first War figure courtesy of the Walmart-exclusive tie-in to the show.  I’m taking a look at that particular figure today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Elita-1 was released as part of the second Deluxe Class assortment of Walmart’s exclusive War For Cybertron tie-in line, alongside Bumblebee and re-decos of Wheeljack, Red Alert, and Impactor.  In her robot mode, Elita stands roughly 5 1/2 inches tall and she has 24 workable points of articulation.  While these figures are theoretically meant to be more show accurate, Elita joins Bumblebee in being, well, not.  I mean, she’s not *incredibly* far off, I suppose.  The basics are there, but as I touched on in Bumblebee’s review, it’s a case of Elita’s show model being one of the few that didn’t have a pre-existing toy CAD file to work from, meaning it’s not quite as play-tested and ready to go as some of the others.  So, she is instead built on the underlying structure of the Earthrise Arcee mold.  It’s not an awful choice, since they’re supposed to be rather similar in design, and they did just tool up the Arcee mold and everything.  She does get a fair portion of new parts to differentiate, with a new head, torso, pelvis, and shoulders.  They do quite a respectable job of changing up the look, especially the silhouette.  I quite like the new head sculpt, and I do like how the new torso actually gives Elita a slightly different body shape than Arcee.  There was some confusion regarding the shoulders for this figure; initial renders showed unique shoulders, but early production samples had Arcee’s more simplified shoulders.  In hand, however, she’s back to the unique ones.  Also the subject of some changes was Elita’s paint scheme.  The exact placement of the darker red and tan sections changed around a bit between renders and then the final product, with the final settling on full red for the lower arms and tan for the lower legs, as opposed to the reverse.  It’s a pretty nice set-up, and what’s actually painted is nice and clean.  Elita is packed with the same weapon that was included with Arcee, molded in a darker transparent blue.

Elita-1’s alt-mode is exactly the same as Arcee’s.  Now, as you may recall, I was not much of a fan of Arcee’s alt-mode.  I didn’t actually refer to it as “garbage,” but I certainly thought it.  I thought it a lot.  With that in mind, prospects weren’t high for this figure. If I’m entirely honest, it didn’t bug me quite as much as I expected it to.  I don’t really think it’s because I like it any more, but more because I just knew what I was getting this time, and didn’t really get let-down by it this time around.  The transformation scheme’s still kind of involved and not super fun, and I’m still not really convinced by the final product or its playability.  But, I suppose it could be worse.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I’ve been watching the admittedly less than stellar Netflix show’s two seasons, one of the few things I didn’t hate was Elita and her Cybertronian crew.  So, I was definitely looking to get her for my collection.  With Max’s help, I was able to get both Soundwave and Bumblebee from this round back before the new year, but I wasn’t able to snag and Elita quite as quickly.  I happened to mention to Max just the other week that I was still looking so if he *happened* to see her, I’d still be interested, and as luck would have it, he found her about 10 minutes later.  I’m certainly not complaining.  Elita’s got a cool design, and she makes for a decent toy.  Yes, she inherits the same issues Arcee had, but she’s also got the same strengths.  That means she’s got a kick-ass robot mode, and I’m not gonna knock that.

#2717: Wonder Woman – Last Knight on Earth

WONDER WOMAN — LAST KNIGHT ON EARTH

DC MULTIVERSE (MCFARLANE TOYS)

“The world has been destroyed. The Super Heroes lost, and a new evil by the name of Omega has taken over what’s left. Now, 20 years in the future, Wonder Woman leads a faction of heroes and survivors living underground known as the New Amazons. Hiding from the world above in order to stay alive, Diana and her band of warriors must choose between retreating deeper beneath the Earth’s surface or fighting for a better tomorrow.”

Have I mentioned the Batman-centric nature of McFarlane’s DC output?  Yes.  Yes, I have.  As has everyone else.  Many times.  It’s not new or different, and at this point, none of us should be surprised by each subsequent Batman he adds.  Let’s just try to enjoy the few not-Batman figures we get mixed in, right?  After initially swearing off them, the latest assortment adds up to a Build-A-Figure, and is all based on Snyder and Capullo’s “Batman: The Last Knight on Earth.”  In the story, most of the other super heroes are dead, so there’s not a lot of room for others in the toys, but Wonder Woman serves as a notable player in the whole thing, and found herself included in the first line-up.  Dig it.  That’s gonna be the one I’m looking at.  Dig it again.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Wonder Woman is one of the four figures in the latest Build-A-Thing assortment of DC Multiverse, all patterned on “Last Knight.”  They were officially slated for the end of March, but starting showing up in a few places towards the end of February.  Wonder Woman and Scarecrow are the two lighter packed figures in the set, which makes sense thematically, I suppose.  The figure’s quite tall, and almost 7 1/2 inches tall, and she has 38 points of articulation.  At this point, the articulation scheme for the McFarlane DC figures is pretty set, so Wonder Woman kind of follows that set-up.  She’s got a pretty solid range of motion on most of the joints, and in general I found her easier to pose than most of the other McFarlane figures I’ve grabbed.  Wonder Woman’s sculpt is another all-new piece, patterned on Greg Capullo’s illustrations of the character from the book.  McFarlane’s no doubt got some experience translating Capullo’s art into three dimensions, so it does overall work out a bit better than, say, their go at Jim Lee’s style with Superman.  That being said, it’s not quite as faithful a recreation of Capullo’s art as the DCC figures from a few years back, and is definitely a bit more in line with McFarlane’s house style.  The figure seems to be an earlier-in-the-story Wonder Woman, since she’s lacking the scarring on her face.  Oddly, she’s also sporting some stubble on the non-mohawk portions of her head, which she never really has in-story.  Another symptom of that house style peaking through.  Overall, it’s not a bad piece of work.  She hasn’t had any unnecessary extra details added, apart from the stubble, and the costume seems to match well with Capullo’s design.  The general proportions, while certainly stylized, aren’t as wonky as some of the prior figures, and the detail work is pretty solid.  The texturing on the cape in particular is quite impressive.  That said, there’s some really rough flashing on the cape for my figure, which, given the ragged nature of the design, isn’t immediately noticeable, but is still really sloppy for a professionally produced figure.  On the plus side, her paint work is all pretty clean.  The base work’s all there and rather decent for the most part.  There’s some slight mismatch between the molded fleshtone that makes up the bulk of the figure, and the tiny bit that’s painted on the skirt piece, and I also question why they’ve molded the lower knee joints in flesh color instead of the darker red of the boots.  Otherwise, it’s nice work.  Wonder Woman is packed with her sword and a stand (which she needs, because she struggles to stand on her own), as well as the arms of the Bane Build-A-Figure, which I don’t have.  It’s a shame she didn’t get the Doctor Fate helmet as well, but I guess she’s got the basics.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t really intend to get this figure.  I mean, she’s got a decent look to her, and I was mildly intrigued, but not enough to justify the whole cost of purchase.  Max, on the other hand, was already planning to buy the other three, and decided to grab Wonder Woman to finish out the Bane figure.  He wasn’t really feeling Wonder Woman, so I ended up splitting the package with him, and took the Wonder Woman on her own.  She’s another one of those designs that’s really up McFarlane’s alley, and that results in her being another pretty strong figure.  And she’s not even a Batman.

#2704: Clone Commander Cody

CLONE COMMANDER CODY

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“A natural and practical leader in the clone army, Clone Commander Cody was a good fit for General Kenobi, to whom he was particularly loyal.”

While they’ve stepped it up a little bit in the last few years, when The Black Series launched, the prequel component was pretty light.  In the first three years of the line, there were only seven prequel figures, four of them being Clone variants of some form or another.  Just prior to wrapping up the line’s second incarnation, just before the re-branding for The Force Awakens, they put out their first actually named clone, Commander Cody, who was in an otherwise OT-based assortment.  He was easy to overlook at the time, but as we’ve gotten more and more of the other Clone Commanders, he’s become rather a desired entry in the line.  Thankfully, he just got a re-release as part of the Archive line-up.  Not that I’m reviewing that release here, but I’ll get to that later.  Onto the figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Before being re-issued in the third assortment of The Black Series Archive, Commander Cody was originally released in early 2015, as #14 in the Blue Line incarnation of The Black Series, heading off the final assortment of that incarnation (alongside the previously reviewed Leia as Boushh and IG-88).  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and has 29 points of articulation.  Cody is built on the the original Clone Trooper body.  He got a new head, upper torso, shoulder pads, and upper right arm in order to replicate Cody’s more personalized armor elements.  The original Clone body does show its age these days, but it was still quite good for the time, and it’s certainly not terrible.  Cody’s new shoulder pads even address the issue with the standard body by giving him a slightly better clearance, and thereby a better range of motion on those particular joints.  The Cody-specific parts are all really nicely sculpted, and have quite a lot of deep detail work.  His armor shows some more wear and tear than the rest of the Clones, which is appropriate for the character.  By far my favorite piece is the head, which manages to be a nicer, sharper recreation of the Phase II helmet than the standard one that later followed, with deeper detailing, and a far better range of motion on the neck joint than the regular helmet as well.  Cody’s paint work is pretty solid; while the pre-TFA stuff had some issues with paintwork, there was a real reversal on this final assortment before the switch-over.  Cody followed that set up, and actually has some decent work.  The orange stripes on his main armor have some nice simulated wear, and the knee pads have some cool accenting to make them look dirty and messed up.  The white sections of the armor could perhaps use some slight accenting to bring out some of the sculpted damage, but accenting on white can be very tricky, so it’s probably for the best that it was just left out.  Cody is packed with both the DC-15 and DC15A blasters, which have become the norm for the Clones.  Interestingly, his helmet isn’t removable like some of the later Clone Commanders, despite Cody rather prominently taking off his helmet in his film appearance.  Ultimately, it’s probably for the best, however, since it means that this figure doesn’t have the older style paint on the head to contend with.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I passed on this guy when he was new because I was far more focussed on the other two figures in the set, and I was still trying to hold to my no prequels rule.  However, once Hasbro really started getting into the other Clone Commanders, I definitely regretting passing on him more and more.  Back over the summer, All Time had this guy come in with a whole Black Series collection, and I was interested, but the Archive was not yet announced, and that meant he was at the peak of his after market value.  That was outside my price range, so I passed, albeit somewhat disappointedly.  Max was evidently having none of that, and decided to be far to nice to me, and got me this guy anyway.  Sure, the Archive release is out now, but that doesn’t make how I got this one any less special, nor does it change the fact that I had him for a good six months before there was another opportunity.  Whichever release you get, this guy is really cool, and I’m glad to have him to round out the set.

#2698: Bumblebee & Spike Witwicky

BUMBLEBEE & SPIKE WITWICKY

TRANSFORMERS: BUZZWORTHY BUMBLEBEE (HASBRO)

Despite his increased presence in the franchise in the last few years, Bumblebee has been without any major presence in the main core line of the toys since the beginning of the War For Cybertron Trilogy.  He’s gotten a couple of figures in Studio Series, of course, as well as the one notable exclusive figure from Walmart for the main line, but that’s admittedly kind of minor given how many Optimuses and Megatrons we’ve gotten in that same span of time.  Fortunately, Hasbro’s at least a little bit aware of the seeming lack of Bumblebees, and they’ve got a whole subline of stuff dedicated to him.  Isn’t that nice?  I mean, I think so.  Most of the line is re-releases, but there’s one new item in the starting line-up, a Bumblebee and Spike Witwicky two-pack, which I’m taking a look at today.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Bumblebee and Spike Witwicky are part of the Target-exclusive Buzzworthy Bumblebee line, specifically under the War For Cybertron branding.  Though dubbed as a two-pack, the focus of the pack is really the Bumblebee figure.  He’s part of the newly launched core-class size, which is a slightly smaller scale at an appropriately smaller price point.  In his robot mode, Bumblebee stands about 3 1/2 inches tall and he has 9 practical points of articulation.  Design-wise, this Bumblebee is definitely G1-inspired, though not quite as 100% cartoon accurate as some of the larger scale WFC figures have been.  There’s a little more stylization to this mold, and it matches up pretty decently with the other G1 figures we’ve seen from the core-class line-up so far.  The kibble is a bit more intensive on this robot mode, since his smaller scale makes folding such things up a little more difficult.  He’s also got some more hollow and exposed portions in robot mode, again thanks to the smaller size.  Ultimately, he’s pretty impressive for the smaller size, and he’s a fun little figure.  Bee is packed with a small blaster pistol, styled after his G1 weapon, which is pretty nifty.  He’s also joined by Spike Witwicky…or at least Spike’s exo-suit from Transformers: The Movie.  Spike’s about 2 1/2 inches tall and he’s got movable arms, and that’s it.  The sculpt’s pretty rudimentary, and is designed in such a way that you can’t actually see anyone inside of the exo-suit.  Silver lining: that means it can just as easily be Daniel!

Bumblebee’s alt mode isn’t the usual G1 VW Beetle, and is instead a more generic tiny little car.  Given the lower price point on this guy, the VW licensing probably wasn’t going to be worth it.  This is an okay alternative.  It’s generic, but not a terrible look.  It’s also a pretty easy transformation, and pretty fun to swap back and forth.  Spike’s also got an alt-mode…in theory.  You lay him down on his front and flip one panel over.  Boom.  He’s a…thing?  It’s a different thing, I guess?  I don’t know.  Hey, he’s pretty much an accessory; anything extra’s cool.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Kudos go to Max for setting me up with this set.  I’m not in dire need of any of the Core Class stuff, and I was content with just the Walmart Bumblebee, but the inclusion of Spike’s exo-suit made this set a bit more worthwhile for me.  Ultimately, he’s not the star of the set, and he’s pretty basic, but the price point on this set is also low enough that it doesn’t really hurt too much to pick it up.  The Bumblebee being a nifty figure on his own helps things out too.

#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.