#1551: Sasquatch & Vindicator

SASQUATCH & VINDICATOR

ALPHA FLIGHT (TOY BIZ)

“Dr. Walter Langkowski was content with his quiet, fairly normal life as a college physics professor. That was before his insatiable curiosity regarding the effects of gamma radiation upon the human body led him to accidentally transform himself into the mighty Sasquatch! Standing at nearly ten feet tall, covered with orange fur and able to lift nearly 70 tons, Sasquatch is a physical powerhouse of superhuman strength. Led by electromagnetically charged Vindicator, Sasquatch serves Canada as a member of its foremost group of super heroes: Alpha Flight. Together, Alpha Flight fights to protect Canada and the world from the forces of evil.”

Okay, so there’s a bio for one of the two figures in the set, with like a passing mention for the other one.  Kind of an odd choice.  The combined bio thing worked better for Northstar and Aurora.  Here it feels awkward, right? Also, it’s worth noting that the use of just the “Vindicator” name with no pronouns or anything means it could technically be referring to either James or Heather.  Perhaps Toy Biz hadn’t decided which of the Vindicators was going to be included yet when the text was written?  Come to think of it, Vindicator’s not even in the illustration on the top of the box like all the others are.  It’s just Sasquatch.  Weird.  Well, I’m still gonna review them both.  Here we go.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Sasquatch and Vindicator were one of the three two-packs that made up the first (and only) series of Toy Biz’s Alpha Flight line from 1998.

SASQUATCH

Gonna be honest, I didn’t actually know all that much about Sasquatch until that bio up there.  He’s one of the most prominent members of the team in terms of toy representation, with this figure, a Minimate, and TWO Marvel Legends.  He’s rivaled only by Puck in terms of representation.  That’s not bad for what essentially translates to Canadian Hulk.  This figure stands about 6 inches tall and he has 13 points of articulation.  He’s a little smaller than Sasquatch tends to be depicted in the comics (where he frequently falls into the 8-10 ft range), but he’s still noticeably taller than the rest of his teammates, which is really the important thing in all of this.  Though his head is a separate piece from the torso, the nature of the neck and hair design is such that there’s no actual motion, an issue that would crop up on most of Sasquatch’s future figures.  Sasquatch’s sculpt was new to him (though it would be re-used for the Dark Side line’s Man-Thing figure not too long after), and it’s not a bad piece of work.  It matches pretty well with depictions of him over the years.  There’s some pretty great work  on the texturing, showing Toy Biz’z slow improvement over time that would eventually lead to the likes of Marvel Legends.  In terms of paint, Sasquatch is actually a bit better than you might expect.  TB could have gone the easy route and just done straight orange, but instead they’ve actually done quite a bit of accenting on the musculature and such, which looks pretty great.  Sasquatch has no accessories, though if you want to get technical, the way the packaging is laid out I suppose you could consider Vindicator his accessory…but that makes me uncomfortable.

VINDICATOR

This is actually the second time I’ve looked at a figure of Heather Hudson as Vindicator, in the same costume no less!  After this, I’ll have reviewed 100% of the Heather Hudson figures ever made.  Yay?  Like the Minimate, this figure depicts Heather wearing her (then) deceased husband Mac’s Guardian/Vindicator costume.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and she has 12 points of articulation.  Vindicator premiered this particular body, but it went on to serve as the basis of a number of other female figures, including the previously reviewed Bloodstorm figure.  It was a decent enough body for Heather, though it has a little bit of difficulty staying standing.  Her head is re-used from the Marvel Collector Editions Jean Grey figure, which isn’t the best sculpt Toy Biz ever put out, but at the same time, the head’s hardly the worst part of the original figure.  Plus, there’s a visor added to it, which helps to mask some of the weirder parts of the original piece.  The hair is still rooted, which isn’t super ideal in this scale, but it could be worse.  The paint work on this figure isn’t quite as interesting as with Sasquatch, but it gets the job done.  The edges are a bit fuzzy, but  for the time not bad.  Like Sasquatch, she includes no accessories.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Unlike the previously reviewed Northstar and Aurora, I didn’t get this pair new.  I saw them many times at retail, but wasn’t familiar enough with the characters to really be drawn in.  I ended up picking up over this past summer, loose, from Yesterday’s Fun.  Vindicator’s just okay.  Not anything really special or anything.  Sasquatch on the other hand, is actually pretty awesome, and I’m glad I finally got one.  Now, I’ll just need to find Puck and Snowbird.

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#1545: Shanna the She-Devil & Savage Land Reaper

SHANNA THE SHE-DEVIL & SAVAGE LAND REAPER

MARVEL MINIMATES

One the cooler, yet sadly under-used, aspects of the X-Men universe is the Savage Land, a secret tropical area located within Antartica.  It’s a fairly standard hidden land sort of idea, and the X-Men have a tendency to find themselves stranded there every 20 years or so.  Because, honestly, what’s cooler than watching your favorite heroes duking it out with actual dinosaurs?  Very little.  While the typical “lead” in any given Savage Land story is Ka-Zar (Marvel’s answer to Tarzan), in recent years, the breakaway character has actually been his frequent co-star (and eventual wife) Shanna the She-Devil, who, interestingly enough, was actually imported to the Savage Land after she and the location had both been established.  She and her pack-mate the Savage Land Reaper became the first residents of the Savage Land to make it into DST’s Marvel Minimates line back in 2013.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Shanna and the Reaper were released in Series 51 of Marvel Minimates.  The whole series was themed around Marvel’s then-current “Marvel Now!” relaunch.  Shanna was serving as a major player in the Savage Wolverine title, so she found herself in this assortment, with the Wolverine that went with her being packed into the 15th TRU-exclusive assortment released at the same time.  Both figures were packed with a Savage Land Reaper, which served somewhat as an army builder.

SHANNA THE SHE-DEVIL

“Shanna O’Hara is a former Olympic athlete and a licensed veterinarian, and she has made the Savage Land her adopted home. Her fierce hatred of firearms arose from the accidental shooting death of her mother.”

Shanna gained some additional notoriety in the early 00s when Frank Cho helmed a heavily cheesecake-driven solo series featuring the character.  It was actually an alternate universe Shanna, with very little connection to the real character, but it served to elevate her somewhat in the public eye, and it was successful enough for Cho to be able to work her main universe counterpart in when he launched Savage Wolverine.  This figure draws her look from that series, meaning she’s kind of an amalgam of the two Shannas.  She’s built on the standard ‘mate body, meaning she stands about 2 1/4 inches tall and she has 14 points of articulation (though the hair restricts a lot of the neck movement).  She has add-ons for her hair and her belt/loincloth, both of which were new to this particular figure.  The hair’s a little bulky for my taste, but it’s not terrible.  The belt piece is actually pretty nice, and I particularly like the the sheath for her knife.  In terms of paintwork, Shanna’s okay, but she certainly leans far heavier on the Frank Cho alternate universe side of things.  Her hair’s straight blond, rather than the starwberry blond the 616 version’s supposed to have.  She’s also wearing a far more revealing bikini, which is perhaps not the most flattering thing on a block figure.  Ultimately, she looks okay, but I can’t say it’s my ideal take on the character.  She’s packed with a knife (to go in that cool sheath on the belt), a spear, and a clear display stand.

SAVAGE LAND REAPER

“In the Savage Land, the skies are owned by the Reapers, giant pterodactyls who resemble X-Men villain Sauron. When the attack Wolverine and Shanna, they quickly learn that the pair are not easy prey.”

Originally, this ‘mate didn’t just resemble Sauron, it actually was him.  When 51 was originally solicited, the Reaper was just called Sauron, despite being based on the more generic group of pterodactyl men from Savage Wolverine.  A number of people brought up the various design differences between them, and ultimately this figure was re-labeled.  24 Series later, the real Sauron still hasn’t made an appearance.  Poor guy.  This figure starts with the same basic body as Shanna, but gets a unique head, hands, and lower legs, as well as add-ons for his wings and tail.  The new pieces help to sell him as one of the Reapers, without removing him too much from the usual Minimate aesthetic.  His paint is mostly just a lot of the same shade of green, but it’s appropriate for the character, and the detail lines are all pretty decent.  The Reaper is packed with a clear display stand, specially molded to fit his slightly smaller than average feet.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When Series 51 was released, I was in the habit of ordering full cases of the latest series, so that’s what I did here.  While this wasn’t a set I was dying to have, I like both characters (or at least the characters that inspired both characters) enough to want them on my shelf. Both ‘mates are decent additions to the line, but neither is particularly thrilling.

#1543: Black Bolt

BLACK BOLT

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Supercharged powers and a quasic-sonic scream let Black Bolt destroy enemies with a single utterance.”

You might think you’ve caught on to my little running theme the last three days, where I review Marvel Legends with the prefix “Black.”  You might think you’re clever, noticing this trend.  But you’re wrong.  Today’s figure doesn’t fit that trend, because the first half of his name isn’t actually “Black,” it’s “Blackagar.”  Because, as I’d like to remind you all, dear readers, Black Bolt’s real name is Blackagar Boltagon, the stupidest name in comics.  Nah, I’m just kidding! I totally picked Black Bolt to do the whole running theme thing.  But who can resist the chance to make fun of Black Bolt’s real name?  I certainly can’t.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Black Bolt is part of the latest series of Marvel Legends, which is themed around next month’s Black Panther movie.  Why is Black Bolt in a Black Panther-themed assortment?  Your guess is as good as mine.  They both certainly like the same predominant color on their costume.  They were also both part of Marvel’s Illuminati team at one point, but I don’t think there was ever any overlap between them.  But hey, if it gets me a new Black Bolt figure, I guess I won’t complain too much.  Black Bolt is one of three comics-themed figures in the assortment (all of whom have questionable ties to Panther at best).  Like the Panther figure I looked at earlier this week, a lot of this figure is just a slight re-working of a previous figure, specifically the Black Bolt from 2014’s SDCC-exclusive Thanos Imperative boxed set.  That set was pretty difficult to acquire outside of the con, and Blackagar here was probably the most sought after in the set (since Star-Lord got a pretty quick re-release), so the re-release is much appreciated.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  Like his predecessor, he’s built on the Bucky Cap body, which seems a reasonable enough choice for Mr. Boltagon.  His upper arms are the same pieces used on the last figure, which, admittedly, isn’t a huge point in this figure’s favor.  The wings are solid plastic, and jut straight out of the back of the biceps.  They’re sculpted to rest flush with the sides of the torso, but it only works in a very specific pose.  move the arms any other way, and the wings are just sticking straight out.  I would have liked to see this handled similarly to the Jessica Drew Spider-Woman, where there are two different sets of wings that can be swapped out.  As it is, they’re more than a little limiting.  This figure also gets the same head as the last one, which is a solid piece of work, and a good fit for the character.  However, Hasbro was also kind enough to throw in another head, this time depicting Black Bolt screaming and all powered-up.  There’s a lot of of fun expressiveness to this one, and I love the Kirby Krackle effect on his tuning fork.  In addition to the new head, the other change between the TI Black Bolt and this one is his paint.  It’s really just a minor shift, with a dark blue in place of the straight black, but I like it.  I do wish the silver detailing was a little cleaner, but it’s not awful.  Black Bolt is packed with the previously mentioned extra head, as well as the right leg of the Build-A-Figure, Okoye.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Black Bolt caught me by surprise.  Tim and I were out and about, and we stopped by Walgreens, mostly to see if I could find the new Legacy Gold Ranger.  I didn’t find him, but I did find the remnants of this assortment, which I didn’t even know was hitting yet.  I missed the TI set, so I was definitely getting this guy.  He’s got a few flaws, but I’m still happy with him overall.

#1542: Black Widow

BLACK WIDOW

MARVEL LEGENDS VINTAGE (HASBRO)

“Natasha Romanov uses her fearsome fighting techniques for good as Black Widow!”

Well, except for initially, when she…ya know….used them for…bad.  But that was only at the very start!  Promise!  Just two years at the very beginning there, then it was all straight and narrow from then out.  Despite being arguably Marvel’s most prominent female hero these days, Black Widow’s been oddly absent from the toy shelves, and what we’ve gotten’s been mostly movie-based.  In a slightly strange turn, we’re finally getting some comics-based Widow product…a few months after she died in the comics.  I mean, it’s not like it’s gonna last, but still.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Black Widow is part of the first series of Hasbro’s new Marvel Legends Vintage line.  Much like last year’s Star Wars: The Black Series: 40th Anniversary line, it’s a mix of re-releases and “new” figures, all packed on vintage-styled card backs.  In this case, the cards are patterned after the old Toy Biz Marvel Super Heroes packaging, which is certainly unique.  While Widow never had a figure in that line, they’ve done a respectable job of creating an accurate card in the same style.  The figure stands about 6 inches tall and has 29 points of articulation.  Widow is seen here in her third main costume, which debuted in Amazing Spider-Man #86, back in 1970.  It’s very definitely the “classic” Black Widow design, and this is the first time we’ve gotten it as a Legends figure.  Despite the all-new look and being the only “original” figure in this first series, Widow is actually almost entirely reused pieces.  She’s built on the Phoenix body, which is a good starting point for Widow (though I do wish the elbows had a slightly better range of motion).  On top of that, she’s got the bracelets from the Hobgoblin Series Spider-Girl, and the head from this summer’s TRU-exclusive Mary Jane.  The re-use on the head has been a point of some contention for fans.  Personally, I don’t mind so much, but that might be partly due to the fact that I never actually found the MJ figure anyway.  I also find this sculpt is pretty solid for Widow as well, so on it’s own, it really works well for the character.  Worst case scenario, the upcoming Widow and Motorcycle set’s going to have two heads packed in, so there are some options available. As far as I can tell, Widow’s only new piece is her belt, which is a fairly simple add-on piece.   I wish it was affixed some how so it didn’t float around so much, but it’s not terrible.  It’s possible her hands are also new, but I’m not 100% sure on that.  They’re just pretty standard trigger finger hands, but they get the job done.  Widow’s paint is clean and bold, and really well suited to her classic design.  There’s not a ton of work going into it, but the end result is still very sharp, and I just really like it.  The figure’s a little light on the accessories front, with only a pair of pistols packed in.  I can’t say there’s much else I would give her, but considering she retailed for the same price as normal, BAF-including figures, she does feel a little lacking.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As soon as these figures were shown off, I knew I wanted Widow.  I’m fortunate enough to have the original releases of the other figures, but there hasn’t been a proper comic Widow since back when Hasbro did the two-packs, and that one was pretty hard to come by.  I ended up finding this figure sort of by accident.  Super Awesome Girlfriend and I were on our way home from taking the cat to the vet, and I made a wrong turn, and the next closest place to turn around was the Walgreens parking lot.  I figured I might as well run in and check their stock, and sure enough, Natasha was one of the two Marvel Legends Vintage figures they had on the shelf.  And, as luck would have it, they were even running a sale on Legends that week!  Hooray for me!  Like yesterday’s Panther figure, there’s not anything particularly revolutionary about this figure, but she’s still a really strong addition to the line, and I’m happy to add her to the shelf!

#1541: Black Panther

BLACK PANTHER

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“With his claws sharp and his eyes set on his target, Black Panther is ready to pounce.”

I really try not to critique the packaging bios too much, but I gotta say, if you’re completely unfamiliar with Black Panther as a character, that’s probably not gonna do much to help.  In fact, it sounds more like the sort of description you’d see of an *actual* panther.  Hasbro knows he’s not an actual panther, right?  One would certainly hope so…

We’re about a month out from the theatrical release of Black Panther, 2018’s first on a long list of super hero movies.  This, of course, will mark the second time audiences see T’Challa grace the screen, after his pretty much universally praised appearance in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War.  I’m certainly excited to see more of the character, especially given the rather rich history they’ve got to draw from.  The landslide of movie-based product just started hitting last week, but before I get to that, I’ll be looking at one of Panther’s comic-based figures!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Black Panther was a Walmart-exclusive Marvel Legends figure, released last year.  When it was released last year is very much up for debate.  Samples of the figure started showing up over seas at the beginning of 2017, and the product was given to Walmart not long after that.  However, there was no official announcement that he was coming from Hasbro or Walmart, and no real estimated street date.  A few people found him starting in the spring, but for a lot of people, this guy didn’t actually show up until just before the winter holidays.  Quite a lag time.  But the figure’s here now, and that’s really all that matters, right?  For the most part, this figure’s just a slight re-working of the Rocket Raccoon Series Black Panther from 2013.  That whole series was pretty difficult to track down, and Panther in particular was always the most popular, so it’s nice for Hasbro to give some of us another shot at him.  Like the Marvel Universe figure, this one’s based on his classic 60s/70s appearance, from when he was with the Avengers.  With the included cape, he actually comes pretty close to a first appearance Panther, but the cape’s a touch long and he’d still need the satchel.  The point is, he’s a pretty standard “classic” Black Panther.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  He’s built on the Bucky Cap body (which, when it was used for the last Panther, was still a fairly new addition to the line).  There have been some arguments made that he should actually be on one of the slightly larger bodies, but I find this base feels right.  He gets the same head as the Rocket Raccoon Series figure, which is a good translation of Panther’s distinctive full-face mask.  There are enough details that you can actually make out some of T’Challa’s face beneath it, which I think is pretty darn cool.  Changing things up ever so slightly from the last figure, this one gets the belt piece from Daredevil, and the hands from the Civil War Panther.  I wasn’t sure about the use of the hands at first, since the CW Panther has a lot of sculpted textures that I thought would be out of place on an otherwise comics-inspired figure, but they work surprisingly well.  The figure also sports a cape, reused from the 2008 Adam Warlock figure.  It’s not bad, but I definitely prefer Panther sans-cape.  The paint on Panther is subtle, especially when compared to the RR one, which had a lot of blue going on.  This one’s mostly just straight black, with a bit of detailing for the accents on the boots, gloves, and belt.  I really dig the striped boots and gloves, as they’ve always been one of my favorite parts of the classic design.  Panther is packed with the previously mentioned cape, a spare set of normal gripping hands, and a spear (borrowed from Kraven the Hunter).

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I always wanted the RR Series Panther figure, but never could find one.  I eventually got the Civil War figure, which is an awesome enough figure that I was willing to let it slide that he wasn’t a classic Panther.  Needless to say, when this figure first surfaced, I was pretty dead set on getting one.  It took me until December to actually find one.  My closest Walmart put out about 20 of him all at once (all of which were gone within a week, I might add), so I grabbed him as soon as I saw him.  There’s not anything particularly innovative or new about this figure, but he’s still one of the best Black Panther figures in my collection, and I’m happy to add him to my Avengers shelf.

#1533: Daredevil

DAREDEVIL

LEGENDARY MARVEL SUPER HEROES (DST)

For my second day of post-Christmas reviews, I get to look back on things I’ve forgotten.  Namely, the line today’s figure came from, Legendary Marvel Super Heroes.  The line is Diamond Select Toys’ continuation of the Mego-stylings seen in the World’s Greatest Super Heroes toy line of the 1970s, launched back in 2015.  I looked that the first two figures, Spider-Man and Captain America, back when they were new, and I was quite supportive of the line, and very much looking forward to its future offerings.  And then…I sort of forgot about it.  I feel a bit bad about that.  I blame Hasbro releasing 3 million Marvel Legends that I have to buy every year.  It takes up a lot of my time.  Anyway, today, I’m finally returning to Legendary Marvel Super Heroes, with a look at a character who never got a proper Mego back in the day, Daredevil!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Daredevil was the sixth figure in DST’s Legendary Marvel Super Heroes, released in mid-2016, between Deadpool and Punisher.  As with the rest of the figures in this line, he was built on the same standard body, which a slight re-fitting of Mego’s Type II body, with minor adjustments by Paul “Dr. Mego” Clarke.  The figure stands about 8 inches tall and he has 16 points of articulation.  Like the other figures in this line, Daredevil is essentially three figures in one, with only the base body shared between the three.  If you have any standard Mego bodies lying around, or even prior figures from this line, you can display all three looks as separate figures.  For the purposes of my review, I’ve supplied two extras from my own collection.

The first of the three included looks is DD’s “vintage” design.  This is the one that’s meant to come as close to a legit Mego figure as possible.  The difference between DD and the last two I looked at is that, as a character with no actual vintage counterpart, DST and crew have had to come up with a figure that mimics the stylings of the old figures, a task at which they’ve very much succeeded.  By far the best part of this look is the head sculpt, which captures the classic DD design perfectly, while also preserving that Mego charm.  By modern standards, he looks a bit dated, but that’s sort of the idea, now isn’t it?  This is a head that will look completely at home next to the likes of Cap and Spidey.  The paint on the head is fairly simple, but it’s bold and the application is very clean, which looks pretty fantastic.  DD has a red bodysuit, which has been tailored to match the classic Mego one piece suits.  It’s got some pleather cuffs for the gloves, which feels appropriately vintage.  My only real complaint here is about the logo, which is very hard to see.  A higher contrast would have looked nicer, I think.  There’s a separate pair of red shorts overtop, which are definitely goofy, but also totally true to the ’70s version of the character.  As far as molded pieces go, he’s got a fairly standard set of red boots, as well as belt with a pleather holder for his billy club.  Said billy club is molded in bright red and can be popped apart at the middle.  He also includes an extra right hand with a more formed grip.  It’s nice to have the option, but it sort of doesn’t feel right to me, since it goes against the vintage Mego look where they all had the same hands.

The second costumed look for both Cap and Spidey was an updated version of the classic costume, but for DD they’ve opted to go for a totally different look, since just another version of the red costume might be a little bit drab.  So, instead, he gets a slightly modernized take on his original yellow costume.  As an unabashed fan of the Yellow Daredevil design, I’m definitely happy this costume made it into the set.  Where both Cap and Spidey got an all-new masked head for their second costume, DD’s is the same head, just painted in the appropriate colors.  The sculpt is strong enough that I don’t mind, and in fact I think it’d just be frustrating if they gave us a different head sculpt here, since the two would then never match.  This costume also gets the same belt and holster as the first one, just in a darker brown this time.  The actual costume is far more involved.  There’s a yellow body suit, which is slightly tighter to the body and also includes more of a collar to better hide the underlying body at the neck.  There’s an additional pleather unitard that goes overtop, which is also tightly tailored to the body, and features a much more obvious insignia.  He gets a set of far more detailed boots, modeled after those worn by a boxer (fitting, given his background) as well as new hands in fists.  He also gets the gripping right hand, as well as a billy club in brown.

The last look in the set is Daredevil’s alter-ego, Matt Murdock.  He gets an unmasked head sculpt, which looks to use the same starting point as the masked heads.  It’s okay, but I’m not sure it works quite as well as just the basic masked head.  It’s got some very clean paintwork, so that’s nice.  Matt’s seen here wearing a suit, which was patterned off the classic Mego suits seen on Clark Kent and the like.  It’s rather baggy and more than a little goofy, but it fits the style and, if nothing else, it’s easy to get on the body.  He also includes a set of sunglasses (which stay on much better than the glasses included in the Spider-Man set), as well as standard flesh tone hands, an extra gripping right hand, his briefcase, and his cane.

Also included in this set is a booklet detailing the process of getting this figure made, as well as giving a detailed account of DD’s history in both toys and comics.  It was certainly an entertaining read, just like the other two I’ve gotten.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Daredevil was given to me by my parents as a Christmas gift this year.  He’s a figure I kept meaning to get, but I just kept getting side-tracked.  When playing with my Dad’s Mego collection as a kid, Daredevil’s absence definitely bugged me, so getting this figure definitely feels nice.  The standard look is definitely my favorite of the three, but I like them all.  Given his uniqueness, I think this set offers a bit more value than the last two I looked at, but I’m still a little bit frustrated that only one body is included, especially since one of my spares broke while I was shooting the photos for this set.  Nevertheless, this is a fun set for sure, and essential for any Mego fan’s collection.

#1530: Avalanche

AVALANCHE

X-FORCE (TOY BIZ)

“A mutant with the ability to control earth and rock, Avalanche’s powers earned him a place in the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants! Now operating largely on his own, or in the company of his allies, the Blob and Pyro, Avalanche strikes not so much out of hatred for normal humans, but from a desire to make a profit!”

Back in the ‘90s, the X-Men were super hot, and by, extension, the various X-Men spin-offs were super hot.  X-Force, the spawn of everyone’s favorite artist Rob Liefeld, was inexplicably successful, but only the actual team seemed to get real notoriety.  The villains were mostly forgettable, however, so for the toyline Toy Biz borrowed a few classic X-Men baddies, including today’s focus character, Avalanche!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Avalanche was released in Series 5 of Toy Biz’s X-Force toyline.  He was the second of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants figures featured in this particular line, following Pyro.  Seeing how the two of them were a semi-recurrent pair on X-Men: The Animated Series, it was a pretty sensible inclusion, I suppose.  The figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  He got extra disk joints on his hips, which I guess was kind of nice.  It does seem a little bit odd that Avalanche of all people got extra special articulation, but I’m not gonna fight it.  HIs sculpt was all new to this particular figure, and it was fairly decent for the era.  The proportions are a little exaggerated, obviously, but given that he was in the X-Force line, it’s actually fairly balanced.  There articulation could perhaps be worked in a bit better, but it’s not awful.  The details of the costume are pretty clean, and I do like the intensity of the expression on what we can see of his face.  It’s a bit of a shame that his helmet is permanently affixed, since he had it off rather frequently on the cartoon, but it looks good, and that’s ultimately the most important thing.  Avalanche’s paintwork is fairly standard, mostly silver and blue.  It looks decent enough, though it’s perhaps not the most thrilling color scheme.  Avalanche was originally packed with an “Exploding Rock Platform” which demonstrated his powers via action feature.  My figure was purchased loose, however, so he doesn’t include this piece.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Avalanche is a rather recent addition to my ‘90s Marvel collection, picked up over the summer from Yesterday’s Fun.  They had a number of old X-Men figures, and this was one I kept meaning to grab, but never got around to.  He’s a pretty decent figure of a character I admittedly don’t have a ton of attachment to.  Nevertheless, I’m happy to have him, and he brings me one step closer to completing this collection.

#1521: Ego & Ayesha

EGO & AYESHA

MARVEL MINIMATES

Every good movie needs a good villain.  Sometimes a bad movie tries to compensate for its badness by adding extra villains in the hopes of that making the badness less noticeable, like in the Joel Schumacher Batman movies.  Fortunately, that wasn’t at all the case with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which deftly handled having two antagonists by having one be the primary (Ego), and the other just a secondary (Ayesha).  It allowed both to have their own moments to shine, without the film feeling too cluttered.  As luck would have it, those two are the two figures I’m looking at today!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Ego and Ayesha, like yesterday’s set, are exclusive to Marvel Minimates Series 71.  Also like yesterday’s set, the pairing is a little bit off.  I mean, it’s not quite as bad, since these two at least share one scene (not that they actually interact during it), but I can’t help but feel the pairings would have made more sense if it had been Ego/Mantis and Ayesha/Taserface.  But I bought the whole assortment anyway, so I guess it doesn’t ultimately matter.

EGO

As noted in my last Ego review, the film changed a few things about the character in order to translate him to film, but I thought it worked out pretty well.  Like that figure, he’s based on Ego’s modern-day “human” appearance.  The figure stands about 2 1/4 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  He’s based on the standard ‘mate body, with add-ons for his hair and his shirt/cape/belt.  Both of these pieces are new for Ego, and they’re both fairly decent.  I wouldn’t mind if the details of the sculpt were a little bit sharper, but they could be worse.  I’m not 100% sure why they’ve gone with a sculpted torso rather than just painting the details on, but it looks alright in the end.  Ego’s paintwork is decent enough, though like his movie counterpart, he’s a tad on the bland side.  Still, that’s accurate, so one can hardly hold that against him.  The face is a passable rendition of Kurt Russel as Ego, though it’s not quite as spot-on as some ‘mate likenesses.  Ego’s only accessory is a clear display stand.  What, no extra head with only the most minor cosmetic changes?  For shame!

AYESHA

Like Ego, Ayesha got some changes in her journey from the page to the screen.  In the comics, she’s an artificial human like Adam Warlock (who she looks to be the creator of in the movie-verse), and only actually an antagonist in the loosest sense of the word.  Neither version of her is super prominent.  She has a number of different designs over the course of the film, but this ‘mate goes for her more active pilot’s gear from when she’s flying the remote ship at the end of the movie.  I personally liked this design the best, so no complaints there.  She’s also constructed on the standard body, with a new hairpiece.  It’s an okay piece, but it’s very restrictive of the head movement (a common issue with the females in this series), and it looks a bit more inorganic than I’d expected.  Ayesha’s paint is clean and bold, and does a reasonable job of recreating the on-screen design.  All of the gold stands out really well against the darker blue, and gives her a lot of pop.  Like Ego, her only extra is a clear display stand.  I guess a piloting console was a bit much to ask for…

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t know much what to expect from this set.  I liked both of the characters in the movie, so I’m certainly glad to have them in figure form, and they do a nice job of rounding out my overall set.  Neither one of them stands out quite as much as any of the others in the set, but they’re still solid additions.

#1520: Mantis & Taserface

MANTIS & TASERFACE

MARVEL MINIMATES

So, beyond Drax and Nebula, who are part of the Toys R Us-exclusive set which I didn’t pick up, there’s only one main Guardian from Vol. 2 I haven’t yet looked at in Minimate form.  As chance would have it, it’s a personal favorite of mine, Mantis, the newest addition to the team.  I’ll be looking at her, as well as her pack-mate Taserface!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Mantis and Taserface are one of the two sets exclusive to Marvel Minimates Series 71.  They’re sort of an odd pairing, seeing as these two characters never once meet during the film, being a part of two divergent storylines and all.  In DST’s defense, they aren’t the only licensee to do this; Lego also packed these two together.  Perhaps it was an early story idea?  Who knows.

MANTIS

This marks Mantis’s very first Minimate, and is in fact her very first action figure in general, since it hit a couple of months before the Legends release.  The figure stands about 2 1/2 inches tall and has the usual 14 points of articulation.  She’s built on the standard body with add-ons for her hair and skirt.  Both of these pieces are new to this ‘mate, and they’re both decent enough.  With that said, I do feel Mantis is the sort of character that would benefit from a unique head, since the antenna being on the hair doesn’t quite look right.  It’s far from horrible or anything, but it’s a little off.  Still, both pieces are nice overall.  The paintwork on Mantis is largely pretty solid.  The detailing and color with on the body is top-notch, and I really dig the metallic green.  The hair is a little sloppier, as are the antennae, but they’re respectable.  Her face is decent, but feels like it has too many lines for Mantis.  She ends up looking way to angular and defined.  I think just losing the cheekbones improves things.  Mantis’s only accessory is a clear display stand, but I can’t think of much else you could give her, so that seems reasonable enough.

TASERFACE

TASERFACE!  It’s metaphorical!  Man, did I love Taserface.  I mean, I didn’t actually like him, but I sure loved everything that went on around him.  And I’m very happy he found his way into this line-up.  Like Mantis, he’s built on the usual body, bit with a unique head, as well as add-ons for his chest cap and wrist bands.  The head adds his top-not, beard, and ears, while still keeping the overall ‘mate thing going on, so that’s  cool.  The rest of the pieces do a decent job translating his film design into ‘mate form as well, though I feel the torso piece is maybe a bit soft on the details.  His paintwork isn’t as clean as Mantis’s, but then it’s not really supposed to be.  It works well enough for what it’s supposed to be doing, but it’s certainly not quite as interesting to look at.  Taserface is packed with a large blaster rifle and  clear display stand, which is a pretty nice assortment, I guess.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

It’s really this set’s fault that I took so long to actually get this whole assortment.  I came out of the theatre knowing I wanted a Mantis figure, and since the Legend was a little ways off, I stopped off at my comic book store to get this set.  Sadly, they were out of stock, and I just never got around to ordering them.  While Mantis isn’t perfect, she’s still pretty great overall, and I’m happy to have another version of her in my collection.  Taserface is pretty solid, and holds some extra value, being the only Taserface figure out there and all.

#1519: Gamora & Rocket (w/ Groot)

GAMORA & ROCKET (W/ GROOT)

MARVEL MINIMATES

Who would think that a raccoon and a giant radioactive turtle would make such a great pairing?  What what?  Not the turtle?  Oh, with the “o.”  That makes more sense.  You can understand my confusion.  Man, how cool would it be if Rocket just came packed with Gamera?  I mean, Gamora’s still, cool, I guess, but now I’ve got Gamera on my mind.  I’ve set myself up for disappointment now, haven’t I?  Well, better just review these figures, then.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Gamora and Rocket are the second of the two shared sets between Marvel Minimates Series 71 and the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 TRU-themed assortment.  Unlike the first film, TRU actually had the whole team in their assortment this time around, which I’m certain was done in part due to DST wanting to avoid any ill-informed parent anger like what happened for the first movie.  It seems to have paid off in that regard.

GAMORA

Gamora inadvertently ended up in the hardest to procure of the two-packs from the original Guardians assortments, so it wasn’t a huge surprise to see her included in a shared pack.  She’s sporting her slightly fancier Vol. 2 design, which I’m quite a fan of.  The figure is about 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  She’s got add-ons for her hair and the bottom section of her jacket.  Both are re-used, with the hair being the same piece as the Series 57 Gamora, and the jacket being from the Civil War Scarlet Witch.  Both pieces work well here, and recreate her onscreen design pretty nicely.  I even find the jacket’s crossing across the waist far less distracting here than I did on Scarlet Witch, which is certainly a plus.  The paintwork on Gamora is overall pretty solid.  The detail work in particular, especially on the face, is really strong, and as a whole she just looks really clean and well put together.  My only real complaint is the way the hair has been handled; the change from brown to purple is a bit too jarring for my taste.  Gamora’s packed with her sword (the same one seen with the Series 57 version) and a clear display stand.

ROCKET

There have been two “minimate” Rockets in the past, but they were both completely static pack-in figures.  This one switches things up, and gives us an actual ‘mate, with articulation and everything.  Less articulation than the average ‘mate, of course, since he’s using the shortened limbs to keep him smaller.  He’s still got 8 points, which is a definite step up from “none at all.”  Construction-wise, Rocket gets a new head, the shorted arms, new shortened legs, and a belt featuring his tail.  The head’s definitely my favorite piece, and it looks pretty awesome, but the rest of the pieces make for a decent enough take on Rocket, albeit a slightly large one.  The paint on Rocket is decent enough.  Some of the base work is a little sloppy, but not unreasonably so, and the detail work on the torso is nice and sharp.  In addition to a clear display stand, Rocket includes his companion Groot, now in his baby form.  Like the prior Rockets, Groot is unarticulated, but given his smaller size, that’s pretty reasonable.  Rocket also includes a larger gun, the origin of which I’m not entirely certain.  Initially, I thought it was actually supposed to be the huge gun Gamora used to attack Nebula, but that looked different, and it would leave Rocket with no guns, which would just be odd.  

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Gamora was one of my favorites of the Series 57 ‘mates, so this one had a pretty high bar to clear.  I’m happy to say she’s certainly stepped things up.  Rocket’s no contest, of course, since this one’s an actual figure, rather than just a statue.  I wasn’t sure how well it would work, but it really did.  Sure, he could use some guns, but Baby Groot is a fun extra, too!