#2348: King Shark

KING SHARK

BATMAN: THE CAPED CRUSADER (SPIN MASTER)

Okay, so I’ve been informed recently that I need to be higher energy.  So, I, uhh, guess I should try to be higher energy?  I mean, yeah, let’s be high energy!  I love high energy!  High energy is great!  I’m excited to be a part of this plan to be higher energy!  Something that is admittedly pretty high energy is the DC Universe subscription-exclusive Harley Quinn animated series, which launched last fall.  It starts out focussed pretty heavily on Harley and Joker, but in pretty quick fashion Harley picks up her own crew of pretty far-reaching DCU characters.  One of my favorite inclusions is the show’s version of King Shark, who subverts a lot of the usual King Shark concepts and is just generally a good time.  And right as I was getting into the show, Spin Master opted to include a King Shark in their opening line-up of DC figures, so I of course bought one.  Let’s review this boy!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

King Shark is part of the first deluxe assortment of Spin Master’s Batman: The Caped Crusader line.  King Shark’s not classically a Batman villain, but I guess with the heavy featuring on a Bat-related show, there was some wiggle room, and I’m not going to argue with something that gets me an easily attainable King Shark figure.  The figure stands roughly 4 1/2 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  He’s a little bit restricted on the articulation.  The lack of neck joint is understandable, but no knees or ankles is a little annoying, especially when it comes to keeping him standing.  It’s not the end of the world, but compared to the others I’ve looked at from the line, it’s just a slight letdown.  King Shark’s got a unique sculpt, though almost all of it was immediately re-used for the Target-exclusive hammerhead version.  This one goes instead for Shark’s pre-New 52 Great White-style head, which has always been my preferred.  It’s a rather stylized take on the character, and definitely errs more on the cartoony side of things, but I really dig the detailing on his gills and the small scarring on the torso.  Those are the sorts of details that could have been overlooked, so their inclusion here really shows Spin Master is going the extra mile.  The paintwork on King Shark is more basic than the sculpt, but it gets all of the important details down, and again fits the style of the rest of the line.  Spin Master’s deluxe figures have so far followed a common theme, that theme being big armored wing pack things.  King Shark gets one of those, because why not, I guess?  It’s pretty neat, if perhaps rather gimmicky.  But then, Spin Master seems to know where their target audience is.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Super Awesome Wife’s background in marine biology has her talking about sharks a fair bit of the time, mostly touching on the unfairness of their usual portrayals in media.  So, when King Shark’s Harley Quinn appearances subverted this, she was quite thrilled.  Honestly, that did even more to endear me to a character I was already pretty into.  After getting Superman and Nightwing, I had made a passing mention to Max that I *might* be interested in King Shark, and he was kind enough to keep an eye out for one, setting me up with this guy shortly thereafter.  He’s goofy and gimmicky, but I continue to enjoy this line of figures wholeheartedly!

#2346: Zombie Viper

ZOMBIE VIPER

G.I. JOE: 30TH ANNIVERSARY (HASBRO)

“ZOMBIE-VIPERS are COBRA infantry troopers who have been given a mysterious chemical substance, Compound Z, that has turned them into drones. Wiped of all thought, they follow orders mindlessly and cannot be reasoned with or sidetracked. They have retained skill at combat; in fact, their desire to fight has been increased, making them more dangerous than before. In other words, they are deadly zombie warriors.”

After a rather noticeable hiatus from retail shelves, G.I. Joe is making its return later this year, with an all-new line of 6-inch figures.  I myself am quite excited for this new line, so in the mean time, I’m going to look at some of the older items already in my collection.  Today, I’m turning my sights on the 30th Anniversary of the 3 3/4 inch line, which in addition to updating some of the older figures to the modern day, also served as the distribution point for a handful of left over ideas from Hasbro’s rather inventive Pursuit of Cobra line.  PoC attempted to introduce some new ideas into the franchise, including a few new styles of Cobra trooper.  And since everyone was going crazy about zombies in the early 2010s, we even got one of those!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Zombie-Viper was part of the fourth assortment of the G.I. Joe: 30th Anniversary line, which would prove to be the final assortment of the 30th line.  Unfortunately, due to Paramount not wanting competing product during a movie year, the 30th line was shoved into 2011, which wasn’t its actual anniversary year, and the fourth assortment in particular was practically non-existent at retail.  Fortunately, the Zombie-Viper got a more or less unchanged release for the 50th Anniversary line in 2016, making him much easier to find.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 26 points of articulation.  The Zombie-Viper’s non-zombie parts are re-used from the Pursuit of Cobra Shock Trooper.  The same figure served as a parts source for both the standard PoC Cobra Trooper and the Viper,  so there’s a nice connective tissue to it, which sells the backstory that these are infected Cobra forces.  The new parts do quite a nice job of selling the whole zombie thing.  The level of detailing is really impressive at this scale and at on a mass retail item, and is honestly enough to give other zombie lines of the time a run for their money.  The forearms are designed like those of the BATs, allowing for them to pop out at the joint and be swapped out for other attachments, in this case a set of tendrils, adding to that more sci-if side of things.  They are also compatible with the BAT attachments, allowing for some mix and match.  The Zombie-Viper’s paint work is mostly on the drab side, which is sensible for a zombie, but with a little bit of bright blue thrown in there, again to play up that sci-fi side of things. There’s some nice accent work wit ph a wash, which helps highlight the intricacies of the sculpt.  The Zombie-Viper is packed with the previously mentioned tendrils, as well as a containment helmet and tube, and a display stand with the figure’s name and the Cobra insignia on it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was quite looking forward to this figure when it was first shown off, but unfortunately Wave 4 never showed up at retail around me, and by the time I realized it hadn’t, the full sets had long since sold out online.  I wound up tracking down my one must have figure (Lifeline) on his own, but never did get the Zombie-Viper.  Fortunately, via the 50th Anniversary reissue and Max not wanting to keep both of them from the two-pack, I was finally able to get one.  I’m glad, because he’s a really cool figure.

#2329: Heavy Infantry Mandalorian

HEAVY INFANTRY MANDALORIAN

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“A brawny warrior encased in the strongest beskar armor, the mysterious Heavy Infantry Mandalorian is part of a secretive enclave of his people. A born survivor, he guards a precious armory and helps to keep the flames of Mandalorian heritage flickering in this time of galactic chaos.”

By far the breakaway merchandising hit of the three Star Wars franchise entries that had to share last year’s product, The Mandalorian has gotten most of its product from Hasbro in the form of their more collector oriented Black Series line.  The main line has gotten three show-related figures so far, plus there have been two exclusives through Best Buy to fill out the cast a bit more.  The first was IG-11, but the second is Jon Favreau’s unnamed (on screen anyway; his credited name is “Paz Vizla”) heavy infantry Mandalorian, who I’ll be taking a look at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Heavy Infantry Mandalorian is Best Buy’s second exclusive Black Series item.  For the first time on an exclusive item, he’s actually a numbered entry in the line, being numbered D2, signifying him as the second entry in the Deluxe sub-line, following General Grievous last year.  He’s based on the character’s appearance in “The Sin.”  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  Despite his bulked up design, Paz is never the less poseable on par with the rest of the more recent figures in the line, meaning he has a pretty easy time getting into all of the necessary poses for the character.  His sculpt is all-new, and it’s quite impressive.  He’s definitely got some serious heft to him, which is appropriate for a character with “Heavy” in his name.  The armored elements all match up with the design as seen on screen pretty well, and the detailing is all pretty sharply defined.  He definitely manages to be a bit more screen accurate than the standard Mando, and it’s not like that particular figure was all that far off.  The paintwork captures the slightly unique color scheme of the character nicely and cleanly.  I really dig the shade of blue they used here, and the flatter colors actually make him stand out pretty well from the rest of the line.  I also quit like the few spots of wear visible throughout the armor.  It gives it that appropriate lived-in feel.  The Heavy Mando only has one accessory, but it’s a really good, pretty darn sizable one, since it’s his heavy blaster.  It’s connected to his jetpack, and features a moving handle and spinning barrels.  Plus, it can also be stored on his back, as seen in the show, and it stays on there nice and securely.  Definitely a very nice piece for an already very nice figure.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When this guy was shown off (prior to the character’s appearance on the show), I was already on board, because man is that a cool design.  I was a little bummed when I found out he’d be a Best Buy exclusive, but fortunately for me, Max let me know as soon as he went up for preorder on their site, so I was able to get one with no fuss.  Like all of the Mandalorian-centric figures, he’s a really, really solid figure, and just really one of the Black Series‘ best.

#2327: Nightwing

NIGHTWING

DC MULTIVERSE (MCFARLANE)

“Dick Grayson began his crime-fighting career as the original Robin—Batman’s protégé and crime-fighting partner. An expert acrobat and skilled fighter, Dick eventually left the nest and ventured out on his own as a new hero called Nightwing. His childhood experiences as a circus acrobat and trapeze artist make him extremely agile. He is a superior fighter and a highly skilled martial artist who has been personally trained by Batman. Nightwing is a keen detective, a natural leader, and a strategist with advanced knowledge of a variety of technologies.”

I am nothing if not a creature of habit.  The habit of which I am a creature in this case, apparently, is trying out DC lines with the same two characters.  First Superman, then Nightwing.  I did it with Spin Masters stuff, and lookie here, I’m about to do it with the McFarlane stuff too.  You can’t say I didn’t try to warn you!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Nightwing is part of the…well, it’s still the first assortment of DC Multiverse, but it’s like distinctly separate from the one that Superman’s in, I guess?  This one’s got a different price point because there’s a build-a-thing, and so it’s…I don’t know, it’s all a little confusing, or maybe its not.  Forget it Ethan, it’s McFarlane.  Like Superman, this Nightwing figure is, at least in theory, based on specific appearance, namely “Better Than Batman,” the first volume of his Rebirth title, which reintroduced the black and blue color scheme.  Much like the “based on Action Comics #1000″ translated to “McFarlane take on Classic Superman” for yesterday’s figure, “based on Better Than Batman” here translates to “Mcfarlane take on Nightwing’s most recent costume.”  Nightwing stands 7 14 inches tall and he has 35 points of articulation.  He’s pretty much the same height as the Superman figure (and a little taller than the basic Batman), which makes him a little tall for Dick, but believe me, he’s not the worst case of internal scaling in the line.  His articulation isn’t too different from Clark’s.  There’s better range in the arms for this guy, which is good, but I didn’t find the neck joint quite as useful this time around.  The legs are also still kind of clicky and heavy on the ratcheting for my taste, making him not a ton of fun to pose.  I will say he’s pretty stable on his feet, though, so kudos to McFarlane on that.  Let’s discuss the sculpt.  By and large, I don’t like this sculpt quite as much as the Superman, largely due to this one feeling far more uneven.  The head’s definitely the strongest part, and I definitely get an effective Dick Grayson vibe off of it.  Not sure if it’s quite a Rebirth Dick Grayson vibe, but that’s really splitting hairs.  The body’s where things get funkier.  At first glance, I thought this figure’s arms were too short, and he was kinda giving me T-Rex vibes.  In-hand, it doesn’t seem like it’s the arms that are throwing things off, but perhaps the torso?  I think it’s too large relative to the rest of the figure.  It’s hard to say for sure, but it definitely looks off.  The legs, especially below the knee, also seem slightly…mishapen?  With the right posing, it doesn’t look bad, but there’s definitely something weird about this figure’s proportions in general.  As with Superman, the costume has been given an assortment of extra little details littered throughout.  I myself tend to prefer a more streamlined Nightwing, but these details still work better on him than they did on Superman.  Nightwing’s paintwork is more in line with McFarlane’s usual output than Superman was, being a little murkier on the details, and slightly washed out.  It’s not a bad look, but compared to something like the Essentials figure, he looks almost unfinished.  Maybe that’s just my classic sensibilities kicking up, though.  Nightwing is packed with his batons, a piece of the mini-Batmobile, a display stand, and a card.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

While I was sold on Superman, I was still kinda on the fence with this guy.  I liked parts of him, but I wasn’t sure about the whole.  Max wanted the mini-Batmobile piece, so he bought this guy, and ended up pretty much just giving him to me.  He’s not a bad figure.  Honestly, he’s probably about as good as the Essentials figure, which also had it’s pluses and minuses.  However, I still personally prefer the Essentials release and its slightly cleaner approach to the character.  Both figures have their merits, and neither one is truly definitive, so I guess I’m just gonna have these two nearly identical Nightwings in my collection.  Oh, the oddity of me.

#2315: Nightwing

NIGHTWING

BATMAN: THE CAPED CRUSADER (SPIN MASTER)

Remember how I ended yesterday’s review by saying I wanted to see more from Spin Master with their DC stuff?  Well, it happened sooner than I expected.  Like, you know, right away.  Don’t you look at me like that.  We all knew what this was, okay?  Look, just sit back and enjoy this Nightwing review, alright?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Nightwing is part of the first standard assortment of Spin Master’s Batman: The Caped Crusader line.  Rather wisely, Spin Master has opted to separate out the Bat-characters from the main DC line, which means that the main line-up won’t get too overshadowed by the Bat-family.  This Nightwing figure is based on the character’s DC Rebirth design, which is my favorite of his more recent redesigns.  I dig the New Adventures vibes.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 17 points of articulation, for real this time!  No broken joints on this guy!  Nightwing’s sculpt is an all-new piece, but given its generally generic nature, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it get re-used for some similarly built characters.  He’s actually smaller in build than the Superman figure, which is nice to see, given that the far more expensive DC Essentials version didn’t even get that.  You know there’s a problem when your $30 collector’s figure gets outclassed by an $8 toy….I’m getting distracted, aren’t I?  Yeah, it’s a decent sculpt.  It’s not perfect; the neck is a smidge too short, and the hair’s not my ideal choice for Nightwing.  The hands and feet are also a little chunky, but given that the same is true of Superman, that feels more like a stylistic thing.  Also, it’s nowhere near the level that it was on Mattel’s old Infinite Heroes line, so I can give it something of a pass.  Nightwing’s paintwork is all fairly basic, but the bright blue looks really nice, and the application is all pretty sharp. There are one or two spots of missing paint on mine, but nothing too bad or figure ruining.  As with the Heroes Unite line, the Caped Crusader line is also doing the blind-boxed accessories.  There are currently two different accessory sets available for Nightwing.  Mine has the “Harbor Defender” selection, which is a pair of batons (with built-in gauntlets), a scuba mask and tank, and a batarang.  I found the accessories a little more interactive for Nightwing than with Superman, and really like the batons in particular.  He’s also got a collector’s card like Superman’s.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Again, Max’s fault.  I mean, in a slightly different fashion than yesterday’s review.  And, admittedly I get a lot of the blame on this one, since I did actually buy it myself, but Max let me know that the Walmart near All Time had this guy, and said “if you’re gonna grab one, mind getting one for me too?”  At that point, I felt a little obligated, because what was I gonna do, make Max stop on his way home?  That just wouldn’t be very nice, now would it?  So, I got my Nightwing, because obviously I wasn’t just gonna buy one for Max.  As with Superman, I’m very happy with this figure, and am further intrigued by the rest of the line.  Also, this has perhaps set a precedent of me trying out new DC lines by buying Superman and Nightwing.  Possible spoilers for future reviews?  You’ll have to keep reading to find out…

#2314: Superman

SUPERMAN

DC HEROES UNITE (SPIN MASTER)

It’s a time of change.  After 17 years with the DC license, Mattel lost it at the end of 2019.  In their stead, two companies are taking over as the primary holders: Spin Master and McFarlane Toys.  The first product from both companies started hitting in the middle of last month, giving collectors a chance to try out both styles.  Spin Master is handling the more kid-focused, all-ages side of the license, and I managed to pick up some of their stuff first.  Today, I’ll be taking a look at one of their versions of the Man of Steel, Superman!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Superman is part of Spin Master’s DC Heroes Unite line, and is one of two versions of Superman available at launch.  This one is marked “rare” on the included booklet, so I would assume that means he’s a one-per-case figure.  That said, Spin Master’s set-up for the line tends to suggest that none of the figures will be that hard to find in the long run.  This Superman is based on the Superman’s appearance from the 2016 Lois & Clark series, which saw the Lois and Clark of Earth-Prime return to the Nu-Earth, and gave Clark this new darker costume.  It’s clearly meant to call back to the “rebirth” costume that he wore in the ’90s after coming back to life, but it’s still effectively a modern appearance.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 17 points of articulation…or at least he should.  My figure’s right knee was fused out of the box, and ended up snapping when there was an attempt to bend it.  Probably just a one-off issue, but certainly something to keep in mind.  The sculpt of this figure is shared with the standard Superman, which actually isn’t the worst thing, given the similarities between the costumes.  The only downside is that the upper portion of the cape that’s not there is still…there.  With it being all-black, it’s not terribly distracting, but it’s too bad he couldn’t at least get a unique torso.  Aside from that, the sculpt is actually pretty nice, especially given the quality of the last Spin Master figures I picked up in this scale.  He’d certainly benefit from a waist joint and maybe some wrists, but he’s a far better offering at this scale than anything we ever got from Mattel, both in terms of sculpt and and articulation.  It’s a fairly basic layout of details, but it works very well for the style that they’re after.  Superman’s paintwork is pretty decent across the board.  The details are all pretty sharp, and the bleed over is minimal.  The painted beard works better than I’d expected, and I like how sharp the eyes are.  The primary gimmick of Spin Master’s 3 3/4 lines right now is tied in with the accessories, which are blind-boxed, and have a few different possibilities for each figure.  For my Superman, I got the armor in blue, the Kryptonite in green, and the eye beams in red, indicating this is the “Metropolis Mayhem” accessory selection.  Not a bad little assortment, and honestly not the worst gimmick for the line.  There’s also a little collector’s card, which can be removed from the front of the package, if you’re into that sort of thing.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This is Max’s fault.  I saw the Spin Master stuff and was honestly interested in checking them out in person, but Max beat me to the punch, and picked up this very figure for himself.  Then it went and broke on him, and he was going to throw it in the trash.  I can’t bear to see a figure thrown in the trash, and I honestly wasn’t quite as perturbed by the broken knee, so I salvaged him (with Max’s permission, of course), and fixed him up.  And, boom, new line tried.  Breaking knee issue aside, I’m very happy with this figure, and I think that all of Spin Master’s launch product looks really great.  I look forward to seeing more from them.

#2286: C-3PO

C-3PO

STAR WARS: GALAXY OF ADVENTURES (HASBRO)

C-3PO presents an interesting conundrum for toy makers.  He’s undoubtedly one of the most distinctive characters in the franchise, and certainly most fans are down for a toy of him.  That said, he’s never been particularly action-oriented, so he’s maybe not the easiest sell to kids.  If he’s produced in the same numbers as other main characters, he lingers, but if he’s under-produced he goes for silly money.  How do you distribute such a character?  Revision cases are, for once, not a bad solution.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

C-3PO joins Han as one of the two new figures in the second series of Galaxy of Adventures.  He’s only in this assortment right now, and given how things tend to work with 3PO, I wouldn’t be shocked if this is all we see of him for the time being.  3PO had essentially the same look for all three of the original trilogy films, and that’s the one that this figure goes for, which is a decent enough choice.  The figure stands a little under 5 inches tall and he has 21 points of articulation.  That’s a lower articulation count than the usual, due to the lack of elbow joints.  Admittedly, not even the initial Black Series version had those joints, so I can’t fault them for leaving those joints out here.  3PO is sporting another new sculpt for this line, and is again playing into the style of the line as a whole.  He’s not super different from how he usually looks, just a little more svelte in the limbs and lower face.  It’s kind of halfway between Clone Wars and Droids.  It certainly gets all of the appropriate elements to sum up the character, though.   If I have one minor complaint about the figure, it’s that his neck is a touch long for my taste, but beyond that, it’s another strong sculpt for the line.  3PO’s coloring is predominantly handled via molded plastic, which works fine, and is certainly better looking on a stylized figure like this than it would be on a more realistic 3PO.  The only paint is on the eyes, the wires, and the undersides of his hands.  It’s all pretty good on mine, but I know the eyes have been pretty wonky on most samples.  3PO doesn’t have any accessories, but he does have one of the most involved action features of the line.  Pressing the button on 3PO’s back sends his head, legs, and left arm flying off, as if he’s just been blasted to parts.  Given how frequently 3PO gets knocked apart, this is certainly an appropriate feature for him, and it works pretty nicely, without impeding his actual playability too much.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got 3PO at the same time as Han, again courtesy of Max.  I was definitely more interested in Han, but I’m loving the line enough to want to pick everything up right now, and 3PO was along for the ride.  He’s a little more gimmicky than most of the line, but it works for him, and he’s still a very fun figure.

#2285: Han Solo

HAN SOLO

STAR WARS: GALAXY OF ADVENTURES (HASBRO)

At launch, Galaxy of Adventures‘ primary focus was on the latest installment in the Star Wars franchise, Rise of Skywalker, but it was not without a few throwback figures.  For the second assortment, they stepped the Original Trilogy content up, adding two of the trilogy’s core characters to the line-up.  It’s hard to imagine any Star Wars line without a Han Solo, and fortunately we don’t have to do that for Galaxy of Adventures, because here he is!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Han is one of the two new figures in the Series 2 pack-out for Galaxy of Adventures.  As of right now, he’s only available in this particular assortment, but I fully expect that he’ll be mixed into another case packout this year, since that seems to be the way Galaxy of Adventures is going to be working.  While Luke was based on his Return of the Jedi appearance and Vader was definitely an amalgamation, Han is in his A New Hope attire.  It’s actually a little bit surprising, since his smaller GoA figure was in the Bespin look, but either one makes for a strong Han appearance.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  His articulation is pretty much the same as all of the other GoA articulation, meaning that he’s quite posable, and also quite steady on his feet.  There’s a slight restriction at the right hip, where he’s got the holster, but it’s actually not as bad as it is on most recent Hans.  You can still get him to sit without too much trouble.  Han’s sculpt follows the stylization of the rest of the line, and I really feel that Han translates the best of the human figures.  Something about his design just really jibes well with the aesthetic.  It helps that he’s also got one of the most expressive faces in the line to date; that cocky grin is perfect for Han, especially his earlier incarnation.  It’s not a Ford likeness, but it’s a good character likeness for Han, and not even trying for the Ford likeness honestly puts him ahead of most versions of Han that aim to be more realistic.  Like other figures in the line, he’s just generally got a very clean appearance about him, which works well in figure form.  Han’s paintwork is by and large pretty clean; there are some slight spots of bleed over on the stripes of the pants, but other then that he looks quite good.  Like the Rey from the two pack, the coloring on the face is stepped back a notch from the first series, making for a slightly better look in my eyes.  Han is packed with his usual blaster, which fits nicely in his hand or his holster without issue.  He also has a spring-loaded arm, much like others in the line.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Han was on my list of figures I wanted even before I’d tried out the rest of the line, mostly because his prototype was just one of the better ones they showed off in that initial wave of photos.  He was definitely high on my want list.  Fortunately, Max was able to score one for me just before the holiday season.  He’s a very solid figure, and easily one of my favorites from the line so far.

#2259: Spider-Man & Carnage

SPIDER-MAN & CARNAGE

MARVEL MINIMATES

The early assortments of Marvel Minimates were home to some quite distinctive ‘mates.  While they are by and large a simpler selection and design, that can’t be said for every release.  In fact, the two ‘mates I’m looking at today remained some of the line’s most detailed for a long period of time, to the point where replacing them with updates seemed quite a daunting task for quite a while.  Without further ado, let’s have a look at Spider-Man and Carnage.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Spider-Man and Carnage are the final pairing from Series 2 of the main Marvel Minimates line, hitting alongside Series 1 and 3 in the summer of 2003.  Both would see re-release in a TRU 4-pack the following year, and Spider-Man would also be released in a TRU 5-pack and as a single in ’03, as well as packed with Green Goblin at Walmart and Target in ’04, and with Gajin Wolverine at Target in ’06.  He got around is what I’m getting at.

SPIDER-MAN

Perhaps the definitive classic ‘mate was this Spider-Man.  He was easily the poster child of the line’s launch, and remained front and center until the arrival of a new “standard” classic Spidey in Series 24.  It’s not a huge shock, I suppose, given that he’s Marvel’s most recognizable hero and his design allows for the showcasing of a “pure” Minimate body.  He stands 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation, and is constructed on the old long-footed body.  As with any standard Spidey, he’s great for taking a step back and appreciating the basic body at its best.  The heavy lifting, of course, is done with paint, and this Spidey had some of the very best.  All of his weblines are properly defined, something that would disappear as the line moved on.  Additionally, the face of his mask is really a perfect boiling down of Spidey’s classic mask.  No ‘mate that followed ever quite got that same feel.  It’s not 100% perfect; the blue is probably a touch dark, and compared to later releases, the lack of any musculature can be a little glaring.  On his own, though, he’s very strong.  Like the other Spider-Men in this inaugural assortment, he was packed with a webline piece.

CARNAGE

Having just escaped the ’90s, we were all still very invested in Carnage at this point, making him a solid choice for the final villain in this initial line-up.  It would be his only Minimate for a resounding 11 years, in no small part due to how well this one was implemented.  He’s fairly similar to Venom in his constuction, being a base body with a new set of hands, but it’s important to note that the hands on this one aren’t the same as on Venom, which was honestly a little bit surprising, but not unappreciated.  The real star of the show is again the paint.  Carnage’s distinctive black and red swirls are present on every visible surface, no small feat given how often details on the sides and backs of limbs got cut as the line progressed, or even compared to how sparse the rest of the early ‘mates were.  Heck, he gets full detailing on his hands and feet, the one place even Spidey’s weblines don’t go.  That’s impressive, and is part of why it took them 11 years to top this one, with a ‘mate that was rolling in the sculpted add-ons.  This one did it without those.  Carnage was packed with an extra hand, shaped like an axe, to demonstrate his shape-shifting abilities.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t actually get this set new.  My brother had one, but I ended up getting just the Spidey from elsewhere, and never felt compelled to track down Carnage until he was far too expensive on the aftermarket.  Then I got the 2014 release, and just didn’t feel the need to go back.  When All Time got in a large ‘mate collection back a few months ago, I managed to add every figure from the first year of the line to my collection, minus one: Carnage.  There was but one Carnage in the lot, and that went to Max, who’s definitely the store’s resident symbiote fanatic, so I wouldn’t dream of fighting him on it.  However, I did send him a photo of my shelf containing all but that one missing ‘mate, and he decided to go and be one of them pesky nice and generous people and give me his Carnage so that I could complete the set-up.  Can you believe the nerve of this guy?

#2243: Megatron

CLASSIC ANIMATION MEGATRON

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE (HASBRO)

See, we’re kind of doing this one and one deal with me and Super Awesome Wife reviewing the Transformers now.  Why?  Well, because as she’s pointed out to me, legally the site is half hers now, so there’s not a lot I can do to stop it.  Guess this is just my life now.

At the beginning of me falling down the Transformers rabbit-hole, there was one major obstacle to overcome to get me really into that Transformers mind-set: owning an Optimus Prime.  Well now I have four of those.  You know who I still didn’t own a single figure of, though?  Optimus’s opposite number from the Decepticon side, Megatron.  Well, that changes today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Like yesterday’s Optimus figure, plus the Soundblaster and Silverstreak  Bluestreak from last week, this guy is part of the Walmart exclusive “35th Anniversary Commemorative Series” sub-line of Siege figures, which started showing up on shelves towards the end of October.  While Silversteak Bluestreak and Soundblaster were more conventional re-decos, Prime and Megatron are based on the cel-animated appearances from the G1 cartoon, which gives them a fairly distinctive flair.  Like Prime, Megatron is a re-deco of his Voyager Series 1 release from the beginning of the year.  Unlike Prime, that makes him totally new to me, since that’s one of the few Siege items I never got around to picking up.  In robot mode, the figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and has 26 practical points of articulation.  Much like his counterpart Optimus, Megatron’s sculpt aims to be an idealized version of the G1 toy…more or less.  As with any modern update of Megatron, there are some needed changes, which I’ll touch on more when I get to his alt-mode.  The robot mode is pretty posable, though compared to Prime, it’s a little more restricted.  Not terribly so, and a lot of it owes more to his actual character design than to any design choices on the toy itself.  Compared to Prime, Megatron doesn’t have quite a clean and polished look, with slightly more deviation from that G1 animation design.  All of the important notes, are there, of course, but he’s more prone to some creative liberties, such as the far more obtrusive “backpack” that houses the alt-mode parts when he a robot.  It’s not a terrible way of handling things, but it’s also not as clean as the way Optimus does things.  Additionally, there are a couple of hollow spots on this figure, which Optimus mostly avoided.  That being said, Megatron still makes for a pretty solid robot.  The new paint scheme here is a major departure from the standard.  As a whole, he’s brighter, more eye-catching, and cleaner than the prior release.  He’s also got a cool, very artistic look, which simulates the cel-shading of animation.  While I felt that both Optimus figures were of a similar quality, seeing the updated Megatron really did a lot to salvage this particular figure in my eyes.  Now, about that alt-mode.  Megatron joins many others in losing his original G1 alt-mode, which was an accurate recreation of a Walther P-38 pistol.  With current safety laws, there’s absolutely no way that would fly, so this figure’s alt-mode is a tank, which has more or less become his accepted modern-day alt-mode.  The shift to tank from gun obviously requires some changing of the robot mode, but the figure manages to balance both alright.  The tank transformation is actually pretty straight forward, and I was able to get it most of the way without the instructions, so that’s good.  It’s a fairly cool looking design, and feels imposing enough to associate with a character like Megatron.  Megatron is packed with his usual arm cannon, as well as a large sword that calls back to the original Takara release, both of which are worked into the transformation.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As much as Optimus impressed me, I just never could bring myself to drop the money for the standard Siege Megatron.  I wasn’t trying to avoid the character on purpose, though, and I wanted a good one for my collection, so I was looking at other options.  I even considered picking up the Combat Megatron, but that seemed too drastrically different for me.  When I first spotted the 35th Anniversary figures, I did think this guy looked pretty slick, but ultimately held off.  But guess who didn’t.  Did you guess Max?  Yeah.  He bought one, and brought it into the store and let me mess around with it, at which point I pretty much knew I wanted one for myself.  And here we are.  Honestly, he’s a lot better than I’d expected, and he feels like he sort of completes a very important piece of my collection, so I’m glad I decided to give Megatron another try.