#3008: The Family That Busts Together

PHOEBE & EGON SPENGLER

GHOSTBUSTERS: PLASMA SERIES (HASBRO)

“Phoebe’s love of science and affinity for bustin’ ghosts runs in the family. She’s got Spengler blood, after all.”

Finding a good follow-up to the first Ghostbusters has been a difficult task since, well, the first Ghostbusters, honestly.  Even the combination of the whole original cast, the original director, and the original writers on Ghostbusters II wasn’t enough to capture that particular lightning back in the bottle, so in a modern world where reassembling the whole team is no longer possible, it’s an even more daunting task.  2016’s attempted reboot was divisive to put it mildly.  So, Afterlife seemed like it was taking on a rather Herculean feat, but it actually managed to achieve the seemingly impossible, and finally craft an actually pretty decent follow-up to the first movie.  Its success largely lies in how it interweaves old and new, as the old story is still there, but there’s also an actually rather likable cast of new characters to accompany them.  Central to the film is Egon Spengler’s granddaughter Phoebe, whose curiosity about her grandfather’s old habits launches her into the film’s events, as she is guided by her grandfather’s spirit, metaphorically, and then (SPOILERS), not so metaphorically.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

“The Family That Busts Together” set is a Target-exclusive Ghostbusters: Plasma Series release, which was announced the week after Afterlife hit theaters, and started hitting shelves just after Black Friday/Cyber Monday.  Currently, the set is the only way to get Plasma Series versions of either of the two included characters.  It does seem a little odd, since Phoebe is unquestionably the film’s main character, and it’s an exclusive set, but with the rather notable spoilers surrounding the other half of the set, I can get the move for a retailer exclusive, since that allows for a closer to film release, while also keeping the reveal close to the vest for as close as possible.  The set did at least prove fairly easy to find at first, though in the aftermath of holiday shopping, time will tell as to exactly how easily acquired it is.

PHOEBE

Afterlife‘s new cast each sort of follow the archetype of one of the earlier ‘Busters, with McKenna Grace’s Phoebe taking her grandfather’s spot as the slightly quieter, more scientifically-minded member of the crew, though perhaps one that’s a little more outwardly driven than Egon ever was in the films proper.  As with all of the figures thus far from the film, Phoebe is based on her fully geared up look from later in the film, which is certainly sensible, as far as toy choices go.  Just basic day-to-day attire might not be quite as fun.  The figure stands about 5 inches tall and she has 25 points of articulation.  While there are similarities in the sculpts of all the new Ghostbusters, none of them are actually sharing parts, so Phoebe is an all-new mold.  It’s a pretty solid one.  The articulation is perhaps a touch more limited than I’d like, but it does somewhat come with the territory of her being much smaller.  The likeness on the head sculpt is pretty spot on, and I really like the little touches to show that she’s had to quite hastily tailor her grandfather’s jumpsuit to her smaller stature.  The paint work on the figure is on par with the earlier releases in the line, which is to say its pretty clean and basic, with the best work by far being shown off on the head, which has the face printing.  Phoebe gets a rather impressive selection of accessories, including Egon’s modified proton pack, with removable back plate and neutron wand, as well as an effects piece, a PKE meter, which can be clipped to her belt, a jar of ooze from the second movie, and one of the chess pieces from the game she and Egon’s poltergeist are playing throughout the film.  The very moment-specific extras are definitely a lot of fun, and I was glad to see them turn up.  Lastly, and not so much for her specifically, the set also includes the head to the Terror Dog version of Zuul, designed for use with the Build-A-Figure body released last year.  Since that one was specifically Vinz Clortho, and it was re-used again for the set with Tully, it was very nice of Hasbro to find a way to give collectors both dogs.

EGON

Afterlife begins with the death of Egon, shot in such a way as to avoid showing him directly, given Harold Ramis’s passing seven years before the film.  Throughout the film, he continues to have a role in the film as a spirit with no visible form, again to keep him included, while still acknowledging the loss of Ramis.  The big reveal during the film’s climactic battle, after the remaining three original ‘busters have shown up to assist the new team, and after Phoebe in particular steps up to face down Gozer, is Egon as an actual visible ghost.  It’s a moment that allows both Egon and Ramis to stand alongside their respective teams one last time, and it’s one of the film’s most emotional moments to be sure.  This set in particular is designed to replicate that sequence, and Egon’s appearance in particular.  The figure stands just over 6 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  Structurally, he’s largely the same as all of the other older ‘busters from Afterlife, meaning he’s using the Ray body from the first series.  It gives him a slightly huskier build, which matches to Ramis’s look later in life, as well as how Egon is portrayed in the film.  The only thing that *doesn’t* match up with the film is the presence of gloves, which Egon pointedly didn’t have on as a spectre.  However, there aren’t yet any non-gloved hands and forearms for the standard ‘Busters body, so it would have required new tooling, and given how the coloration works, it’s a forgivable change, since it’s not very visible anyway.  The one new piece here is a new head sculpt.  It’s not as spot-on a likeness as the prior Egon, but it’s also based on a cgi recreation of a likeness, and it given the turnaround time on this one, it’s likely it wasn’t even a fully-formed render at the time yet.  All things considered, it’s perhaps a little on the large side, but otherwise not a bad sculpt at all.  The paint work on this figure is a definite change-up from the others, since it needs to give him that spectral look.  This is achieved by molding him in translucent blue plastic, and then painting on some trace details, notably on the face and the upper torso, making him look like an apparition that fades away as it gets to the edges of his body.  It’s a well-rendered effect, especially when seen in person.  Egon’s more of an accessory himself, so he doesn’t get anything of his own, but a few of Phoebe’s accessories also work for Egon as well, so there’s some crossover there.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I’ve mentioned before, Egon’s my favorite member of the Ghostbusters, and Harold Ramis is also one of my favorite creators, so the lack of both of them in this sequel was something I was worried about going into the new movie.  I really loved how they worked his legacy into the story, and I’ll admit to being rather touched by how they built to his ultimate reappearance late in the film.  Likewise, I really identified a lot with Phoebe and her quest to connect more with her late grandfather.  She was certainly my favorite addition to the cast, so I found myself wanting this set quite a bit after seeing the movie.  Thankfully, Max was there with the assist on this one, and snagged me one back in December.  Phoebe is definitely the real star here, but the accessory selection and inclusion of Egon really make it a home run of a set.

#3002: Ultraseven

ULTRASEVEN

ULTRAMAN (MEGO)

Welcome to Day 2 of the Post-Christmas reviews.  Last year, I finally got back into the swing of some Ultraman reviewing after a bit of a gap, thanks to the help of an Ultraseven figure I got as a Christmas gift.  This year, I guess I’m just gonna do the same thing.  Fitting.  Of course, I’m kind of looking at opposite sides of the product spectrum here, with last year’s Ultraseven being a high-end figure from Bandai, and this one being, well, a Mego, which isn’t exactly high-end.  No less in my realm of interest, of course!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ultraseven is part of Mego’s Sci-Fi line, released as one of their mixed assortments of figures.  He’s the second figure under the Ultraman branding, following up on the standard Ultraman from earlier in the line.  Like the rest of the line, the distribution model is via a mix of specialty stores and select Target locations.  The figure stands just over 8 inches tall and he has 16 points of articulation.  Ultraseven is built on the upgraded Type 2 male body.  It’s the standard, and it’s got a nice medium, average build, which suits most characters, Ultraseven included.  Ultraseven gets a new head and hands to complete his look.  They’re pretty solid pieces; certainly a bit on the goofy side, but then classic Ultraseven frequently falls into that category anyway.  The paint work is confined to the head, and it’s pretty basic, but also does what it needs to well.  Application is all pretty clean, and the important details are all there.  Ultraseven’s outfit includes a bodysuit and a pair of short boots.  They do a respectable job of capturing the look of the character from the show, while still fitting the main Mego aesthetic.  I do really like how the printed silver looks on the suit.  Ultraseven includes no accessories, although that’s not a huge shift for the line, especially given their price point.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I missed out on the basic Ultraman, so I hadn’t really put much of an effort into getting this one.  Not that I didn’t want him, of course, but I just wasn’t really expecting to find him either.  Fortunately, I didn’t have to worry about that, since Max had my back on this one, and picked this guy up for me as a Christmas gift.  I guess it continues the tradition of getting Ultrasevens from the people I care about for Christmas.  It’s really not a bad tradition, all things considered.  And this is really a fun figure, too.  So, I call it a general win.

#2999: In Space Silver Ranger

IN SPACE SILVER RANGER

POWER RANGERS: LIGHTNING COLLECTION (HASBRO)

Okay, when I reviewed Zeo Gold, I may have been a little overzealous in calling him the greatest Power Ranger ever.  And why is that?  Because I may have been overlooking this guy, Zhane, aka the In Space Silver Ranger, Power Rangers In Space‘s resident Sixth Ranger.  Because, the thing is, Zhane?  He’s pretty darn cool.  Possibly the coolest.  And I’m down for that.  And now he’s got this brand new figure from Hasbro’s current run, which I definitely a win as far as I’m concerned.  So, let’s explore this win just a little bit further, shall we?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

In Space Silver Ranger is a Walgreens-exclusive release from Power Rangers: The Lightning Collection, with limited quantities available through Hasbro Pulse as well.  Thus far, only the Pulse quantities have shown up.  As with yesterday’s Andros, this figure’s release is a bit wonky, since we saw him before Hasbro had officially announced him, and then he showed up on Pulse with no actual quantities, before finally being put up for order, with an actual in-stock status.  Zhane is either the fourth or fifth of the Space Rangers to make it to release, depending on if you count the small quantities of Blue that have made it out as an actual release.  Whatever the case, it’s notable because it’s the first time Zhane hasn’t been the last member of team by a large margin.  The figure stands about 6 inches tall and he has 34 points of articulation.  He’s using the same construction as the other male Space Rangers.  It’s a consistency thing, really, and at this point, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?  He does get a new belt piece, which has been tweaked to remove the holster.  Otherwise, it’s the same basic piece.  The colors are where the real changes occur, since he’s now, well, silver.  Unlike the others, it’s more than just swapping silver for the main color, since Silver gets a whole different selection of accent colors as well.  They’ve gone for more of a toy style to the colors, since his suit is actually silver, rather than a flatter shade than the helmet as it was in the show.  It’s a slightly more intriguing design in toy form, so I get the choice.  The silver is molded plastic, rather than paint.  It doesn’t look quite as slick, but it will probably hold up better over time.  Zhane is packed with an unmasked head (which looks a lot better in person than I’d expected), two sets of hands, his Super Silverizer in both blaster and blade configurations, and an effects piece.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

In Space Silver is at the very least tied with Zeo Gold for my favorite Ranger, so I was very anxious to see him show up in this line, especially after he got left out of Bandai’s Legacy Collection.  When he was shown off in-hand with no announcement, I was worried about him being an exclusive, and sure enough, there he was.  Fortunately, I had Max in my corner on this one, and he was able to help me snag one through the Pulse order window.  I’m very thrilled to have this figure in-hand, and I’m very happy to have a decent In Space Silver.

#2998: Andros

ANDROS

POWER RANGERS: LIGHTNING COLLECTION (HASBRO)

The continuing narrative of the first six years of Power Rangers, and its conclusion in Power Rangers In Space allowed for a slightly different structure to the show’s first episode.  Since most of the team had already been introduced in the preceding season, the show places its main focus on the one new member of the team, Andros, the season’s Red Ranger.  We first encounter him on a recon mission spying on a gathering of villains from prior seasons, which requires him to have a more incognito appearance, at least at first.  It’s a design that has as of yet not gotten any toy coverage, but Hasbro’s addressing that here, with the figure I’m taking a look at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Andros in Disguise is a Target-exclusive one-off release for Power Rangers: The Lightning Collection.  Or he’s at the very least an exclusive to Target for now.  It’s a slightly confusing situation, as has been the case with a handful of releases from Hasbro recently.  Photos of him showed up with no official announcement, and then Hasbro themselves showed him off, but with no actual mention of release plan, and no mention of any exclusive status.  And then he just showed up on Target’s website, and was very quickly in-stock, making the whole thing a rather surprisingly quick turn around.  The figure stands about 6 inches tall and he has 34 points of articulation.  Structurally, his actual sculpt is identical to Andros in his Red Ranger gear (and all of the other male Space Rangers, for that matter).  It’s a sculpt that gets the job done, and it matches up with the other Andros, so it makes sense.  The main structural change up is the addition of a cloth robe piece for him.  It kind of looks like a bath robe, which I don’t really think is the intended appearance.  It’s a little goofy looking, especially in the photos, but I’ll admit it looks a fair bit better in person than I’d expected it to, and actually holds shape pretty well.  Even the velcro on the front stays secure, which isn’t always a guarantee.  The color work on this guy is another notable change up. Technically, in the show, he’s just wearing his usual Red Ranger gear under the cloak, but it’s shot in a way that hides it in the shadows.  To simulate this, Andros is wearing all black this time.  It’s an interesting look, and the presence of extra gold accenting, especially the insignia on the front, makes it feel like this is an established design from elsewhere.  That being said, I don’t know specifically where, and my brief searching on the internet hasn’t turned anything up.  So, I guess it’ll just remain a mystery.  It certainly looks cool, though.  Andros is packed with two heads, one helmeted (and in all-black to match the main figure), and one unhelmeted (re-used from the prior release), as well as two sets of hands, his Spiral Saber, Astro Blaster, and effects pieces for both weapons.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This is an odd release, and certainly not one I really thought I would need.  That said, In Space is my favorite incarnation, and there’s very little I wouldn’t buy from it.  So, this guy was certainly on my radar, not that I was in a rush or anything.  Max actually wound up ordering one online, before managing to find one in store.  Since he didn’t need two, he was kind enough to set me up with the spare.  He’s not essential, and it’s not like he really does anything new, but he’s a rather fun one-off variant.

#2986: M.O.D.O.K. World Domination Tour

M.O.D.O.K. & THE CAPTAIN

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

Stuart Immomen and Warren Ellis’s Nextwave: Agents of Hate, which ran from 2006 to 2007, is, simply put, an experience.  An experience I very much enjoyed, but one that’s very definitely of an offbeat notion.  As such, it’s maybe not the most easily merchandised thing.  While the characters within the story were helped back into prominence by its existence, and have subsequently had an easier time getting toy coverage as an extension, purely Nextwave-based merch has been effectively non-existence.  Clearly, Hasbro’s Marvel Legends team are fans of it, since they’ve been sneaking in little references wherever they can.  Most recently, they actually bit the bullet and made an honest-to-god Nextwave-inspired item, the M.O.D.O.K. World Domination Tour Collection, which I’m taking a look at today!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The M.O.D.O.K. World Domination Tour Collection is a Hasbro Pulse-exclusive Marvel Legends offering, released as part of Hasbro’s second PulseCon event, in the fall of this year.  The set is made up of a M.O.D.O.K. variant and The Captain, two direct lifts from the pages of the aforementioned Nextwave.  The set’s focus on M.O.D.O.K. in particular seems to be an attempt to tie-in with the show on Hulu, though there are, of course, no direct ties, and M.O.D.O.K. himself is a very minor player in Nextwave proper.

M.O.D.O.K.

Certainly, M.O.D.O.K. feels like he’s what got the set made.  The show gave him some extra notoriety, and Hasbro just put the money into getting an all-new M.O.D.O.K. mold out there, so they undoubtedly wanted to get a second use out of it as quickly as possible.  So, they opted to give us the Elvis-looking M.O.D.O.K. variant seen in Nextwave #11’s “You must buy six copies of this comic now” splash page.  It’s a rather distinctive design, and one that even found its way into Marvel Vs Capcom 3, so it’s got some reach on it.  Like his standard counterpart, the figure stands about 8 1/2 inches tall and he has 25 points of articulation.  He’s mostly the same figure as we saw earlier in the year.  Not a bad call, really, because it was a nice sculpt the first time around, and was also very unique, so I get Hasbro’s desire to get more out of it.  This release gets a new face plate and hair piece, complete with the proper pompadour and side burns, as well as an alternate control stick, tweaked to look like a microphone.  In contrast to the last one, this figure only gets the one faceplate (though you can also swap for the other two, if you’re so inclined), but it’s at least a distinctly different one from the two we’d already seen.  The paint on this guy looks rather similar the other version, but there are definitely some small changes that are easy to miss.  The purples are now metallic, and a few of the smaller details have been changed up a little.  It’s still pretty clean, and also quite eye catching.  Elvis M.O.D.O.K. is packed with the two sets of hands included with the standard, as well as a pair of removable shades, his hamburger beam effect, and a corresponding display stand for the hamburgers.  Because why not?

THE CAPTAIN

Nextwave’s five-member line-up was mostly pre-existing characters, but there was one notable exception.  The Captain, formerly known as Captain ☠☠☠☠ until Captain America objected, was an all-new creation, designed to fill-in for all of the lame, terrible, or otherwise forgettable characters with the moniker of “Captain” over the years.  Unlike the other members, who have other notable appearances to draw from for their figures, the Captain has no such luck, making it quite an accomplishment that he got a figure at all.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 34 points of articulation.  I was quite pleasantly surprised to find a set of butterfly joints hiding under his jacket, as well as cut joints at the tops of his shoes, both of which make him a little more agile than I’d expected.  The Captain makes use of the arms and jacket from the Netflix Punisher figure, but is otherwise an all-new sculpt.  That’s honestly surprising for such a minor character, but I’m certainly not complaining.  The Captain has largely been drawn by his co-creator Stuart Immomen, who has his own rather unique style, which isn’t quite the same as the usual Legends fare, so this figure sort of splits the difference between Immomen’s usual depictions and the line’s standing aesthetic.  It works out pretty well overall.  To my eye, his head seems to scale a bit larger compared to the body, and boy is he not a looker, but it generally feels proper to the character as we know him.  He gets two different heads, one goofy, and one serious.  I prefer the goofy myself, but they’re both good sculpts, and I appreciate the options.  It makes for better variety when posing.  The Captain’s paint work is overall pretty basic, but it does what it needs to, and it does it well.  There’s quite a bit of detailing on both faces, and they’ve also done a solid job on the camo pattern of the pants.  The star on his shirt is a little inconsistent in coverage, but it’s otherwise good.  The Captain’s only accessory is the previously mentioned extra head, but it’s honestly all I can really think to give him.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve been a big Nextwave fan since my college years, and I honestly never expected any dedicated figures for it.  I’ve been glad to get the few crossover characters we’ve seen so far, but I certainly didn’t think we’d ever get The Captain, much less a MODOK variant that appeared on one page.  I was honestly pretty hyped for this pack when they were shown off, and Max was kind enough to help me secure a set during Pulse Con.  I like this set a lot.  MODOK is far from essential, but he’s a lot of fun, and The Captain is just plain Awesome.  Here’s to hoping we can get dedicated Nextwave versions of the rest of the team.

#2982: Miles Morales

MILES MORALES

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“When a fierce power struggle threatens to destroy his new home, Miles Morales realizes that with great power there must also come great responsibility.”

In 2018, Sony took advantage of their exclusive distribution rights on Spider-Man media to release a totally PS4-exclusive game based on the character, which was rather a big hit. There were some toy tie-ins at the time, and last year they launched a follow-up game to go along with their launch of the PS5, now centering on Miles Morales in the title role. Unsurprisingly, there are some more toy tie-ins, starting with a standard version of the main character, who I’m taking a look at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Miles Morales is figure 4 in the Armadillo Series of Marvel Legends.  Miles is under the Gamerverse branding, and is the only such figure in this set.  He’s based on his standard costumed appearance from Spider-Man: Miles Morales, which is in turn a pretty straight translation of his costume design from the comics.  The figure stands just shy of 6 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  In terms of how the articulation works, he’s pretty much set-up the same way as the Integrated Suit Spidey, with the adjusted neck joint which includes the double ball joint.  It’s generally not a bad set-up, so I can get behind it.  Miles is sporting an all-new sculpt (which is shared with the Gamestop-exclusive stealth version).  It’s a little taller and the proportions are a little more nuanced than on the previous strictly comics Miles.  There’s also a good deal more texture work this time around, with raised webbing and some actual patterning on the suit proper.  It all looks pretty good, and helps give him a little bit of extra sharpness over his predecessor.  It also means that, unlike the Peter figure we got back in 2018, Miles is quite screen accurate, which is pretty cool.  Miles’s paint work is generally pretty solid.  The application’s all pretty sharp, and I quite dig the slightly metallic finish on the red sections.  Miles is packed with quite an impressive selection of accessories, getting three sets of standard hands (in fists, open gesture, and thwipping), plus a set of hands specifically for his shock abilities, as well as an unmasked head, and the right leg for the Armadillo Build-A-Figure.  Given how anemic the accessory selection on some of the Spidey variants has gotten more recently, as well as the fact that he’s an all-new sculpt, there definitely feels like a lot of value here.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Special thanks to Max for loaning this figure for review.  I’ve been taking a closer look at how I collect Legends in the last year, and with me already owning a pretty standard-looking Miles figure that I quite like, I wasn’t sure I was in a rush to get this one.  Max, not having the prior release, was snagging one, so he was kind enough to set me up with the BAF piece, as well as letting me borrow this one to round out the reviews.  This figure’s quite nice, I won’t lie.  He turned out very well, and I certainly appreciate the level of detail on the sculpt, as well as how well accessorized he is.  I also like that Hasbro’s committed to keeping a standard Miles available, especially one that’s just a strong all-around figure.

#2974: Emperor Palpatine

EMPEROR PALPATINE

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE (KENNER)

So, umm, I’m not gonna lie, today’s review was supposed to be a totally different review.  It was supposed to be a review of the Power of the Force Darth Vader with Removable Helmet.  I took the photos, I did the background  research, I grabbed the text from the back of the box.  And then I pulled up my own prior reviews for some reference, at which point I discovered that I actually already reviewed that figure on July 25th of last year.  This is really embarrassing, you guys.  I don’t know how this happened.  I’m…I’m slipping, I guess.  Well, on the plus side, my slippage has given me something more interesting to talk about in the intro than whatever I was going to struggle to say about Sheev Palpatine.  So that’s a plus.  Anyway, here’s Sheev.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Emperor Palpatine was added to Kenner’s Power of the Force II line in 1997.  It was generally a Jedi heavy year, so Palpatine’s presence was a fairly sensible one.  Palpatine actually wound up getting three of his four PotF figures all in that same year, so it was a good one for him, I suppose.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 4 points of articulation.  Like the other PotF Palpatines, while he may *have* the articulation, there’s not much he can actually *do* with it.  At least this one’s got a little more to do with his arms, I guess?  The sculpt is quite similar to both the electronic and Cinema Scene versions of the character released the same year.  I guess there are really only so many ways to sculpt a wrinkly old guy in a robe.  They do an alright job of it.  There’s honestly not a ton you can do to dress up this design, so he does what needs to, really.  Honestly, it’s probably the best of the three, just given its greater versatility.  As with the other Palaptines, the paint work here is pretty much confined to the face and hands.  It’s thickly applied, which does make it kind of hard to make out some of the sculpted details, but it generally works.  At least they got the weird shading around the eyes.  That’s right out of the movie.  Palpatine was packed with his cane.  Sure, it’s not as technically impressive as that whole unlimited power bit, but he does gets some use out of it for walking purposes.  Yes, this is certainly a walking man’s Palpatine.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

My generally middling opinions about Palpatine aren’t really a secret, so it’s not a shock that I didn’t own this one as a kid.  Instead, I actually got it as part of a batch of PotF figures I got from Max a couple of years ago.  Of all the Palpatines from the line, it’s the most average.  I guess that’s okay.  Not terribly exciting, but certainly not bad.  He’s good for standing on the shelf with other, more interesting figures.  In fact, he does that quite well.

#2960: Starscream

STARSCREAM

TRANSFORMERS: ARMADA (HASBRO)

“Starscream uses his speed and maneuverability as a jet to launch aerial attacks on the Autobots. No one can compete with him when it comes to speed and skill in the air. He slices through the sky, chasing the enemy and even endangering any Decpticon that gets in his way. As the second in command, he pretends to be loyal to Megatron, but is always looking for an opportunity to weaken his leader’s rule and take control of the Decepticons.”

Present in the franchise since its beginning, Starscream is a rather inescapable piece of the Transformers lexicon.  Other characters may come and go, but after Optimus and Megatron, the character next most likely to find himself in a given version of the story is Starscream, always Megatron’s lackey, always ready to betray him and take power for himself.  Transformers: Armada actually flipped the script on Starscream a little bit, though.  Rather than being purely motivated by his own self-interests, the Armada Starscream’s inevitable betrayal of Megatron saw him not taking power directly from Megatron, but rather switching to the side of the Autobots.  While still selfishly motivated on the surface, he would eventually find his own more valiant side, and even make a rather heroic sacrifice, something that no other version of Starscream would ever even consider in the slightest.  It was cool change-up, and a fun take on the character.  Helping even more on the fun/cool scale?  A pretty awesome toy, which I’ll be looking at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Starscream made up one half of the first Max-Con Class (the line’s equivalent to the modern Voyager Class) assortment of Hasbro’s Transformers: Armada line, released alongside the show’s debut in 2002.  In his robot mode, Starscream stands about 7 inches tall and he has 10 workable points of articulation.  As with most of the other figures in the line, Starscream’s articulation is rather restricted by the nature of his design.  There’s no neck movement, and the shoulders don’t move either.  He’s got some swivels near the shoulders, and some okay leg movement, but there’s not a ton of posing to be had here.  He’s good for one thing, and that’s standing.  The sculpt is a pretty impressive piece.  It matches up well with how he looks in the animation, and it’s got a solid bit of heft to it.  The boxy shapes definitely work well, and his robot mode is well-formed.  There’s a bit of kibble, especially when it comes to the back of the torso, but he generally makes it work.  He’s armed with a folding sword, which is actually his left wing removed and unfolded.  It’s not the most convincing thing, but it works in its own goofy sense.  Also included is his Mini-Con partner, Swindle.  Swindle’s robot mode isn’t quite as strong as Jolt or Blackout’s were.  It’s okay, but not great.  The R&D definitely went to Starscream on this one.  Swindle allows Starscream to unlock the two cannons on Starscream’s shoulders, which each shoot a missile.  The missiles are, sadly, missing from mine.  The cannons also have a tendency to unlatch themselves from time to time, and, if you’re not careful, the latches can wear out, causing them to be permanently be forward.  Fortunately, that’s not the case with mine.

Starscream’s alt-mode is a sci-fi jet.  The transformation is a little more involved than the other two, but he’s a more advanced class, so it makes sense.  It’s still not particularly difficult, and there are also a few spring-loaded components to the transformation.  The end result is a vehicle that’s a little awkward in some spots, but one that also lacks the major under the jet kibble left over from the robot mode, which is something that shows up a lot with the jets.  In his jet mode, there are some sound effects built in; they no longer work on mine, but there are a few jet related sounds.  They’re honestly more annoying than anything, so I can’t say I miss them.  Swindle has his own alt-mode as well; he turns into a racing car, and is honestly more convincing as a car than as a robot.  Now, why a race car robot is packed in with the big jet is anyone’s guess, but I try not to dwell too much.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Of the three Armada figures that my cousin owned for a very brief time and ultimately gave to me, Starscream was definitely his favorite.  When they were in his possession, I didn’t get to play with Starscream the way I did the other two.  So, when he was finally mine, that was a pretty big deal.  Unfortunately, he also wound up being the only one readily available to me to grab when I decided to get rid of a lot of my stuff at around 15 or so.  I wound up selling him off (to All Time Toys, actually, along with a bunch of junk that they honestly gave me more than they should have for), and it’s something I’ve regretted since.  I’ve been keeping my eye out for a replacement ever since.  Fortunately, I was able to snag one from a collection that came into All Time last January.  He was missing Swindle, but Max was nice enough to set me up with a replacement, and boom, here we are.  I really dig this figure.  He’s just a really good, solid toy, and I’m very glad to have him again.

#2946: Hot Shot

HOT SHOT

TRANSFORMERS: ARMADA (HASBRO)

“Hot Shot is a young, heroic fighter who rushes into danger without regard to his own safety. He courageously charges into the middle of the fight to aid his friends in battle. He has taken charge in several battles, showing great leadership potential. But he needs the guidance of his elders before he can hope to lead the Autobots. Will he learn to be a leader who strives for good, or will his reckless nature ruin his promising future?”

As a child of the ’90s, as well as someone who sometimes dabbles in Transformers, it would be easy to assume that I’m into Beast Wars, but I’ve actually never had a particular attachment to it.  I mean, aside from Silverbolt.  That guy’s awesome.  Generally, I’ve tended to be more into the vehicle-based Transformers stuff.  I first dabbled with the franchise with 2001’s Robots in Disguise (which instilled in me a love of Ultra Magnus), but my first real investment in the franchise was during the show that followed in 2002, Transformers: Armada.  One of the central characters in Armada, and in fact the rest of the Unicron Trilogy, was Hot Shot, who I’m taking a look at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Hot Shot was part of Transformers: Armada‘s first wave of Super-Con Class figures, which were the line’s Deluxe Class equivalent.  He was the only Autobot in the assortment (which also included Cyclonus and Demolisher), and they all hit alongside the launch of the show in 2002.  In his robot mode, Hot Shot stands about 5 inches tall and he has 10 working points of articulation, as well as a moving visor for his helmet.  Emphasis was still very much on the transformations and vehicle modes at this point, so Hot Shot’s movement is rather restricted.  The legs do alright, but his head doesn’t move, and his shoulders move side to side, but there’s no forward and back.  For the time, though, he remained remarkably mobile.  Hot Shot’s sculpt actually does an okay job of matching up with how he looked in the cartoon.  His race car driver design is carried over well.  There’s a fair bit of kibble from his alt mode, especially on the backs of the arms, but it at least folds up to be out of the way.  Hot Shot got his own Mini-Con partner, Jolt.  Jolt is a much smaller robot, standing about inches tall, and having a whole 6 points of articulation.  Using Jolt (or any Mini-Con, really, but Jolt’s the best one), you can unlock Hot Shot’s built-in weapon, affectionately referred to as his “axlezooka”, which is spring loaded to deploy.  The springs on mine are a little weak, so it needs a little extra help, but it’s still pretty cool.  There’s meant to be a missile, but it’s missing from mine.  Jolt also has a rather big gun piece which Hot Shot can wear as chest armor.

Hot Shot’s alt-mode is a modified Audi TT, which is a fairly generic looking sports car, really.  The transformation sequence is actually rather simple, so it makes it very easy to switch him back and forth without much trouble.  He also stays in the mode very securely.  In general, it just works very well.  Jolt has his own alt-mode; he transforms into a small helicopter through an even simpler transformation process.  Jolt’s gun can also be mounted to the front of Hot Shot’s hood, and Jolt can be mounted on one of the three Mini-Con ports on the vehicle mode.  The central one actually releases the springs on Hot Shot’s feet, to use as “driving claws.”  You know, as you do.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Despite how much I liked the show and kept up with it when it was new, I didn’t actually get any of the toys first hand when they were new.  Instead, my initial exposure to them was through my cousin Patrick, who had a small handful of them, and would frequently bring them over for both of us to play with.  During that time, Hot Shot was always my go-to.  Patrick decided fairly quickly that he didn’t need to keep them, so they were rather quickly gifted to me.  Hot Shot himself wound up getting lost at my grandparents’ house some time during my childhood, and it wasn’t until after I moved into their house a few years ago that I actually found him again.  He was missing all of his extra stuff, but fortunately for me, Max was able to help me out and get me set-up with Jolt and the gun.  I like this guy a lot, and he’s probably the most nostalgic I get about Transformers.

#2928: Nightwing

NIGHTWING

BATMAN: THE CAPED CRUSADER (SPIN MASTER)

I think I’m finally hitting an okay pace when it comes to these Spin Master DC figures.  I mean, it’s at least a consistent one.  Sure, that consistent pace is, like, one figure per month, but that’s still something, right?  This year’s theme for their Batman line is Bat-Tech, which is outfitting all of the Caped Crusader’s allies and foes with new variant costumes that are all techy.  Largely, I’m picking up the actually new characters, but there are a few intriguing variants mixed in, and I’m always a sucker for a good Nightwing.  So, you know, here we are.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Nightwing is part of the sixth assortment of Spin Master’s Batman: The Caped Crusader line, which is the second assortment under the “Bat-Tech” banner.  This is the same assortment that included the previously reviewed Batgirl, making Nightwing a logical inclusion.  The figure stands about 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 17 points of articulation.  Structurally, the figure is the same as the prior Spin Master Nightwing.  It’s a reasonable enough sculpt, not perfect, but certainly serviceable, and the consistency isn’t a bad thing.  In order to fit with the “tech-y” nature of the set, Nightwing’s color scheme has been tweaked.  It keeps the same basic Nightwing feel, but he’s molded in a smoky translucent plastic, which is fun, and he’s got a bunch of the tech details like we saw on Batgirl and Batman.  They’re fun little details, and I also enjoy the slight change-ups to his basic suit’s layout of details.  Nightwing is packed with the same baton pieces that the prior release included, but in sparkly blue plastic instead.  He also gets two different guns, one of which has a piece to allow for hooking it up to his back.  Guns feel a bit in contrast to Nightwing’s usual loadout, but I guess they’re not real guns, so that’s better maybe?  I’m only gonna use the batons anyway, so it doesn’t really matter.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After getting Batgirl, I found myself really liking the Bat-Tech set-up as a whole, and, I am, as noted before, a sucker for a good Nightwing.  Max wound up finding this one during one of his stops, so he was nice enough to enable me pick one up for me.  He’s not drastically different from the last one, but he’s still a lot of fun, and keeps the spirit of Spin Master’s whole set-up really going.