#2502: Ultra Magnus

ULTRA MAGNUS

TRANSFORMERS PRIME: BEAST HUNTERS (HASBRO)

At the end of yesterday’s Soundwave review, I mentioned one more Prime figure coming along with him.  If you know really anything at all about my Transformers collecting habits, then it’s not even remotely surprising that the other figure was an Ultra Magnus.  He’s kind of my guy here.  Magnus was absent from the first two seasons of Transformers: Prime, but made his way to the show for its third and final season, which also meant he got in on the toys, one of which I’m taking a look at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ultra Magnus was released as part of the third Voyager Class wave of the re-branded Prime: Beast Hunters line.  In his robot mode, the figure stands 7 inches tall and he has 19 workable points of articulation.  Magnus’s sculpt is, of course, based on his cartoon appearance, which was notable, because he wasn’t the first Magnus figure in the Prime line-up, but he was the first to actually be based on his show look.  Said show look isn’t quite as far removed from the classic Magnus design as Soundwave was.  It’s really just streamlined and generally brought more closely in-line with how the show handled Optimus’s design, since the two are usually built out of at least *some* of the same parts.  That fully tracks with the actual construction of this figure, which borrows pretty heavily from the Powerizer Optimus Prime from earlier in the line.  Magnus gets a new head, chest plate, and shoulders, which bring him more in line with Magnus’s show design, and help to really sell them as, you know, different characters and all.  The new shoulders are in line with the usual Magnus tradition of big ol’ pillars on his shoulders, but are also functional, as they can shoot missiles out of the top…if you have them…which I don’t.  Also missing from my figure is his Forge of Solus, the big battle hammer this version of Magnus carried.  Not missing, however, is his wing-pack, because apparently Magnus needs some wings.  Hey, I can dig it.  What I can also dig, as show-inaccurate as it may be, is Magnus’s color scheme, which has that cool bright blue that the old toy did.  Most stuff these days goes with the more cartoon accurate darker blue, but I enjoy the brighter shade still showing up occasionally.  Magnus’s alt-mode is pretty much the same truck mode that Optimus got, them being mostly the same mold and all, but with a few surface details here and there changed.  It’s a transformation that’s a little tricky to get the hang of the first few times through, but I was able to get there, and it’s not so bad now that I have a few attempts under my belt.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

So, obviously, I got this guy from Max, just like with Soundwave.  He knows I’m a Magnus guy, and he always keeps an eye out for the ones I don’t have, and he was nice enough to snag this one for me, also for my birthday.  Interestingly, the figure didn’t have any of his accessories when he got traded in, but Max has just so happened to have the wing-pack sitting on the shelf above his desk for over a year now, and was actually pretty excited that a matching Magnus finally came through.  And hey, it makes mine that much more complete!

#2501: Soundwave

SOUNDWAVE

TRANSFORMERS PRIME: ROBOTS IN DISGUISE (HASBRO)

It’s been a bit of a spell since I’ve looked at any Transformers, which is something that didn’t used to be a weird thing, but now has become one.  What a weird world I live in now.  Well, the lack of Transformers should be changing post-haste, as I have some new stuff waiting for review.  However, before getting into the new stuff, how about some old stuff?  Though I didn’t watch it new, Transformers: Prime is one of my earlier instances of sitting down and actually watching a Transformers show through, and I definitely dig some of the updated designs that came out of it.  Obviously, my favorites to come out of it are my favorites to come out of any incarnation of the franchise, so I am just all about this incarnation of Soundwave, who I’m taking a look at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Soundwave was released in the first series of the Prime: Robots In Disguise “Revealers” line, which was the deluxe-class component of the tie-in line.  In robot mode, he stands 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 23 points of workable articulation.  As with most figures in this line, he was based on his cartoon appearance, which was a quite streamlined, almost bat-like design.  It’s pretty far removed from the classic G1 design, but it still really fits with the spirit of the character, and I feel makes for a much cooler update than what we ended up getting in the movies.  His sculpt was all new to this figure, and does a pretty respectable job of capturing Soundwave’s animated appearance from the show.  It’s pretty slick and poses pretty well considering how it’s designed.  He’s a touch restricted at the shoulders, but for the most part it’s impressive the level of posing you can get out of him.  This Soundwave, as with just about every Soundwave post-80s, had to come up with a new alt-mode that wasn’t just a cassette player, what with those being out of vogue these days and all.  Instead, Prime Soundwave’s alt-mode is a spy drone, reminiscent of the Predator B drone.  Honestly, it’s a pretty solid choice of alt-mode, given Soundwave’s typical characterization as a spy and all that.  His transformation process is a little more involved and finnicky than some of the more recent Transformers I’ve picked up, but it’s still pretty easy to figure out, and the end result is a pretty convincing spy drone.  Soundwave was packed with his companion Laserbeak, who can either be plugged into one of the 5mm ports throughout Soundwave’s body, or folded into his chest for easy storage.  The chest storage is definitely a nice throwback to the cassette set up of the vintage figures, and I really dig it.  In 2013, under the revised Beast Hunters branding for Prime, Soundwave’s mold got a slight re-working, a new color scheme, and a new capture claw weapon and Ravage in place of Laserbeak.  It’s a fun change-up from the initial figure, with a slightly brighter and bold color, and the new accessories are certainly a lot of fun.  Not quite show-accurate, but still kind of nifty.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Since I wasn’t watching Prime when it was first airing, I wasn’t picking the figures up either.  However, the Beast Hunters release of this mold was eye-catching enough for me to make my first “modern” Transformers purchase to pick it up.  I always dug that one, but when I sat down and actually watched some of the show, I found myself kind of wanting that more standard Soundwave.  I never did get around to snagging him…on my own, anyway.  It’s kind of been raining Transformers collections at All Time recently, though, and one of them had a lot of Prime stuff in it.  Max made it a point of setting aside this guy and one other figure (who I’ll be looking at tomorrow) for me, as a really awesome birthday present.  Now I have Soundwave and both of his smaller buddies!

#2454: Captain America & Peggy Carter

CAPTAIN AMERICA & PEGGY CARTER

MARVEL MINIMATES

Even in these times of uncertainty for the line, Marvel Minimates has a fairly steady stream of new product always coming from at least one retailer…provided you can actually find any of that new product.  Walgreens has been great for getting lots of new ‘mates on the books, but in 2018, they started kind of having a bit of a back-up in their distribution process, and two years later we’re still kind of feeling it.  Officially hitting at the end of last year, Series 11 has a decent mix of things going for it, including today’s set, Captain America and Peggy Carter!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

These two were part of the 11 Walgreens-exclusive set of Marvel Minimates, and are animation-based, specifically hailing from the Avengers Assemble show, though in the case of both ‘mates featured here, the movie-inspiration is also pretty strong.

1940s CAPTAIN AMERICA

“Given enhanced strength, speed and durability in a top-secret experiment, Steve Rogers became a symbol of hope for Americans in World War II.”

We’ve had a couple of these MCU-esque ’40s Caps in the line, and this one’s just another.  This marks the first time he’s been animated, though!  Structurally, Cap’s just got the one add-on piece for his helmet.  It’s a re-use from the ’40s Cap in the Series 55 assortment, which is fair enough.  That piece has always looked a bit better than the one we got from TFA‘s line, and its slightly streamlined appearance works a bit better with the more vanilla nature of this figure.  Everything else here is paint.  This is the animated recreation of the film design, so it dispenses with a number of the details for something a bit cleaner.  I rather like it, honestly.  There’s a definite simplicity to it, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad in the slightest.  Cap is packed with his shield, a spare hand with a connection for it, an alternate hair piece for an unmasked look, and a clear display stand.

AGENT PEGGY CARTER

“Peggy Carter, a British agent who knew Captain America during World War II, was briefly brought from 1949 to the present day by Kang the Conqueror.”

Since Minimates had claim to the only Peggy Carter action figure on the market for a good eight years,  I guess it’s only fitting that when Legends got in on the game, they would double their efforts…literally.  This is our second Peggy ‘mate, and our third Peggy figure, ever, so that’s all pretty cool.  What’s more, it takes my complaints about wanting the Hydra base-storming gear from the end of TFA into account!  More looks for Peggy!  Yay! Peggy is a pretty basic ‘mate in terms of construction.  She’s got the hair piece, and that’s really it.  It’s a new piece, and definitely goes with that animated style, but it certainly fits the character.  In fact, I like this piece a bit more than the one used on the movie Peggy.  It just really feels like it gets the character down.  Again, the heavy emphasis here is on the paint.  As with Cap, she’s definitely got a very simplified look about her, but that said, the face still looks remarkably close to Haley Atwell in terms of likeness.  It also seems a little less void of expression than the last ‘mate.  The detailing on the jacket is all pretty sharp looking as well, and this has got to be one of the few times that the somewhat washed out nature of the animated ‘mates didn’t feel totally out of place. What really makes Peggy shine are her accessories.  She gets a hat-wearing hairpiece, a spare torso and arms, and a skirt piece, which effectively allow you to build a second figure, of Peggy in her trench-coated appearance.  It’s another quite distinctive look, and another really strong design for the character.  It also really adds some serious value to a figure that was already really cool, and distracts from the always present issue of the Walgreens sets not getting guns by giving Peggy a much preferred replacement.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve kind of been falling out of Minimates (which is only fair, since so has DST, if I’m honest), but Max has been keeping me at least a little bit invested, and he was nice enough to hook me up with this set earlier in the year.  Cap is kind of a nifty figure, presenting something of a what-if scenario where the line hadn’t evolved so much by the time the MCU films rolled around.  He’s kind of a movie Cap via Minimates Year One, and I think that really works for him.  I’m getting real Series 5 Cap vibes off of this guy.  The prior Peggy was good for the time, and had the novelty of being the only one for a while, but this Peggy is pretty much the ultimate version of the character, with two really great looks and a pretty spot-on likeness.  This set is pretty much all win.

#2392: Green Lantern

GREEN LANTERN

DC PRIMAL AGE (FUNKO)

Funko, holders of the licenses to everything you care about, have a tendency to slide from style to style, for anything that’s not Pops, anyway.  From 2018 to mid-2019, that style was Masters of the Universe knock-offs.  They did a bunch of horror icons and the Thundercats under the Savage World imprint, before moving DC into the style with their Primal Age line.  Me being me, I of course have the Green Lantern figure, and I’m gonna take a look at him today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Green Lantern was part of the first basic assortment of the DC: Primal Age line, which was initially exclusive to Target, before showing up through a few other retailers.  So far, Primal Age has been the only of these Masters-inspired lines to get more than one series, so I guess Target backing them right out of the gate probably helped with that.  The figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  Continuing the trend of the figures I’ve looked at from these line’s so far, GL is an all-new sculpt, rather than falling back on the usual heavy re-use of such a style of figure.  Of the two lines I’ve looked at, he falls more into the horror line’s style, being a more complete re-imagining of the character design through this new lens.  The standard GL elements are all there, but rather than a sleek super hero costume, it’s more battle-ready armor.  He’s got a breast plate instead of the green unitard thing, and a chain with a lantern charm on it instead of a logo.  Of course, he’s still just strait up got a domino mask, which does ruin the immersion ever so slightly, but what else are you going to do?  Though the chest armor is not removable in the usual Masters fashion, there’s a shoulder pad and leg piece that are, and it kind of recalls Man-at-Arms in its stylings.  The paintwork on this guy is pretty basic, but it does the job it needs to.  He has the usual colors for a GL, and that works pretty well.  He’s packed with an axe, mace, and shield, which are all molded in translucent green, so as to look like constructs, which is a pretty cool touch.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Something I’ve recently discovered about myself is that I actually don’t like the vintage Masters aesthetic all that much, so I really haven’t been pulled in by these take-offs of the style.  This guy almost got me, especially when they got really cheap, but I never did get one.  Max, on the other hand, did, and he decided that it ultimately wasn’t a figure he *needed* and since I’m the resident GL fan, he passed it onto me.  It doesn’t really change my opinion on this style of figure, but this guy’s pretty cool on his own.

#2372: Snake Eyes

SNAKE EYES

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

In 2016, after an attempt to revitalize the line with a 50th Anniversary celebration after numerous re-brandings of the core line, the G.I. Joe brand was retired from retail, with its only continuation being in the form of a handful of Collector’s Club exclusives and a one SDCC exclusive from Hasbro that wasn’t even specifically Joe-centered.  In 2018 there were exactly two Collector’s Club-exclusive, and the rest was silence.  With over a year of no new Joe at all, the fanbase kind of folded in on itself, with most of the focus shifting to the old vintage line, because they were desperate to have *something* to buy.  After that year-plus of silence (to the point of even leaving G.I. Joe off of a brand poster that included freaking *Visionaries* of all things), Hasbro went into 2020 with a plan to revitalize Joe again.  The Snake Eyes movie is supposed to be hitting theaters this year, the mobile game was officially launched in January, and Hasbro’s bringing G.I. Joe back to retail in the form of a new 6-inch scale line, much in the style of their LegendsBlack Series, and Lightning Collection lines.  So far, we’ve seen most of the first series (which is tentatively hitting in June, but who knows at this point?), and the line has officially been kicked off with a deluxe version of everyone’s favorite ninja-commando-mute, Snake Eyes!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Snake Eyes is figure 00 in the newly launched G.I. Joe: Classified Series.  He was offered exclusively though Hasbro Pulse, and, as the “00” denotes, he’s meant as a preview for the line proper.  The rumor mill is speculating that the core figure of this release will be going to regular retail with the rest of the line, making all of the deluxe-ness the real exclusive part of this one.  Speaking of the deluxe-ness of this release, before I dive into reviewing the actual toy proper, I would like to mention the packaging of this release.  Though I’m not usually all that interested in what my figures get to me in, this release deserves a special mention, because Hasbro’s really gone the extra mile here, with a heavy cardboard construction, and an almost faux-leather exterior.  The intricate design on the front and back of the box is really impressively applied, and said design is also included as a pretty cool print when you open the box.  Inside the box, there’s a foam tray with spots for the core boxed Snake Eyes (in a variation of what will be the line’s standard packaging) and all of the exclusive extras.  It’s one hell of a presentation, and shows that Hasbro’s really invested in the significance of this release.  Alright, we’ve discussed the beauty that is the box, now we tear it open and look at the guy inside.  Snake Eyes stands just shy of 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 37 points of articulation.  Hasbro’s gotten pretty impressive with their articulation on their 6-inch-scale lines as of late, but Snake Eyes takes that to the next level, adding things like butterfly shoulders, a ball-jointed waist, and drop-hips to the equation.  He also fuses the Black Series double-ball-jointed neck design with the Legends hinge joint, which gives the best of both worlds in terms of range.  He’s a very, very posable figure is what I’m getting at here.  However, it’s worth noting that the figure’s sculpt really doesn’t suffer to grant him this posability.  Said sculpt is clearly patterned after Snake’s v2 figure, which is generally considered his most distinctive look, and a good starting point for any new version of the character.  He’s not a straight adaptation of that design, though, as Hasbro is clearly building a new aesthetic for the Joes for this new line.  The broad strokes are all the same.  He’s got the knight-style visor, the bandolier with grenades, and all the pouches and straps are in more or less the same spot.  However, when you take a closer look at the smaller details, that’s where the changes come in.  They’ve followed a bit in the footsteps of the movies, giving him a more armored appearance, at least on the head and torso.  Within that set-up, he gets some extra webgear on his shoulders, which is really the only part of this design I’m a little iffy on.  Honestly, I don’t hate it, but I think it stands out a little too much from what’s around it.  I think the fact that I can hone in on one specific thing like that and say it’s slightly off speaks to the sleekness of the rest of the sculpt, though.  I really do appreciate how well they homaged the v2 release with this sculpt.  In terms of the paint, Snake Eyes goes a fair bit more involved than the usual figure of him.  He still keeps things predominantly very dark, but it’s not quite as much straight black.  There’s a lot of variance to the browns, and there’s also some nice change-ups in the finish on the black sections as well, making the different sections look like different materials.  It’s really nicely handled, especially given how easily they could have just left things all-black.  In terms of accessories, there are really two groups with this figure.  Firstly, there’s what is actually included in his smaller box with him.  He gets a sword (which according to Tim is more of a messer than a katanna, and I’m inclined to believe him there), an Uzi, a Beretta m93r with a removable silencer, a knife, a backpack, a sheath for the sword (which can plug either straight into his back or onto the pack), and two extra hands, one holding throwing stars, the other flat.  The Uzi, sword, and backpack do a great job of replicating the v2 figure’s accessories, and the Beretta, knife, and extra hands just accent things further.  Outside of his own packaging, Snake Eyes also gets a whole Dojo wall full of weapons.  The wall itself is a nice piece in its own right, and its got spots for the 2 sai, 2 axes, 2 kama, spear, long sword, and katana included alongside it in the box.  Snake Eyes can use these extra weapons if you like, or they make for a pretty killer display behind him.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got a slight heads up that a 6-inch Joe line was coming, so I was pretty eagerly awaiting its arrival.  Once this guy was shown off, I knew I needed one.  Max was kind enough to let me use his Pulse account so that we could both order one, meaning I got in on the ground floor with this guy.  And then I got him literally the day everything started shutting down around here, so I’ve gotten a lot of time to mess with him.  I love this figure.  I love this figure so much.  This is pretty much everything I wanted out of this line, and I’m really excited for the rest of the line to hit so that this guy can have some companions.  Until then, he’ll just have to face off against my Fortnite Havoc figure that’s totally not just a 6-inch Firefly.

#2371: Harley Quinn

HARLEY QUINN

DC MULTIVERSE (MCFARLANE)

“When she first met The Joker, Dr. Harleen Quinzel was his psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum.  Instead of treating her patient, she fell in love with him and became his prankster partner in crime known as Harley Quinn.  Although mentally unhinged, Harley is highly intelligent.  She’s a skilled gymnast and her agility makes her an adept fighter.  Like The Joker, she uses a variety of weaponized gag props in her chaos-creating crimes.”

Hey, remember how McFarlane has the DC license now?  And remember how Spin Master also has it?  And how I’m really leaning into that Spin Master curve?  Well, it could only last for so long, I suppose.  In an effort to make my way through some of the stuff sitting on my “to review” pile, I’m grabbing a few things I’ve kind of been putting off.  Today’s entry is definitely in the “putting it off” category.  Guess I can’t put it off any further.  Okay, here’s Harley Quinn.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Harley Quinn is part the…well, still technically the first assortment of McFarlane’s DC Multiverse line, but exactly where she falls in that is a little debatable.  She’s not part of the Superman/Batman portion that we first saw, and she’s not part of the more Bat-family-themed build-a-vehicle assortment that Nightwing was in.  Technically, she was shown off alongside Green Arrow from Arrow and Green Lantern from JLU, neither of whom she really ties in with all that well.  It hasn’t got any less confusing since I reviewed Nightwing is the general theme of what I’m getting at here.  Harley is, according to the box anyway, based on her appearance in her self-titled miniseries from the comics, which introduced her into the mainstream DCU.  I’ll get to that.  The figure stands just over 7 inches tall and has 35 points of articulation.  Compared to the rest of the line, Harley’s not only too tall; she’s just flat out too big.  She’s not actually taller than Nightwing and Superman, but thanks to the way the parts of her body are scaled internally, she looks like she’s taller than they are.  It’s really the head that throws things off the most, because it’s so large.  Also?  Clearly not based on her main DCU design.  That head’s unquestionably meant to be an animated-style Harley, and there’s nothing about it that indicates otherwise.  Given they were already doing actual animation-based figures in the strange collection of figures that makes up “Series 1”, I’m not sure why they didn’t just say she was an animated Harley.  Okay, actually I kinda do get why, but that’ll come up later.  Whatever the case, the head’s not a great piece, even for an animated look, because it’s kinda off-model for any version of Harley we’ve seen before.  Below the neck, Harley suddenly doesn’t seem quite as animation-styled, but I wouldn’t really classify it as realistic either.  There’s a definite style there, but whose I couldn’t really say.  The part that really bugs me is the shoes, which are the usual pixie shoes, but inexplicably have high heels on them?  I don’t know how that works, and I don’t want to.  Harley in high-heels just feels wrong to me, though.  Of the three McFarlane DC figures I’ve looked at, Harley’s probably got the most basic paint scheme.  I don’t know that I’d call it “cleaner”, because the actual application is kinda messy.  There’s a noticeably splotch of white on the left shoulder, and in general the transitions between colors aren’t very clean.  It’s not terrible, though, and I don’t know that it’s really messier than the other two; there’s just less extra work to distract from the errors.  Harley is packed with a mallet, a gun with a “Bang” flag, a display stand, and a collector’s card.  The mallet is the weirdest part, because it’s definitely meant to be more real world, and therefore doesn’t fit with the rest of the figure at all.  Sure, there’s a lot of nice work on it, but why does it come with *this* figure?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The animated figures from Multiverse kind of repulse me, and though she’s not technically an animated figure, so does Harley.  From the prototype shots, I knew I didn’t like her, and in person that didn’t change.  So, why do I have her?  It’s Max’s fault.  He bought her because he decided to buy a whole set of them, and after opening her up and messing with her for a bit, he decided he didn’t really need to keep her, and passed her along to me for the purposes of reviewing.  There it is Max.  I reviewed her.  I hope you’re happy.  Ultimately, I’m cooling on this whole McFarlane DC thing pretty quickly.  While Superman and Nightwing held my interest at first, I ultimately don’t have much to say about them a month after the fact.  And a month with Harley sitting on the shelf waiting to be reviewed did nothing to really make me like her any more than I did when I first looked at her.

#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.