#1690: Claptrap

CLAPTRAP

BORDERLANDS (MCFARLANE)

“A general purpose CL4P-TP robot manufactured by Hyperion, Claptrap acts as the Vault Hunter’s (sometimes) useful guide and quest-giver on Pandora. Programmed with an overenthusiastic personality, Claptrap masks his fear and loneliness behind cheerful bravado.”

What happens when you cross R2-D2 and Jar-Jar Binks?  Claptrap.  Okay, well that’s what some people think, anyway.  I don’t quite agree.  Claptrap’s nowhere near as annoying as Jar-Jar.  That said, he’s cetainly more talkative than R2.  Or at least more fluent in English.  Anyway, he’s by far the most merchandised character from the Borderlands, so it wasn’t much of a shock that he turned up as one of the earlier offerings from McFarlane’s Borderlands toyline.  I’ll be looking at that figure today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Claptrap is the first deluxe offering from the Borderlands line, hitting shelves at the same time as the Zer0 figure, and thus loosely making up the second series of the line.  Most of McFarlane’s deluxe figure offerings are at a larger scale than standard releases, but this isn’t the case with Claptrap, who is meant to be in the same relative scale as the three prior figures.  The figure stands 4 1/2 inches tall and he has 15 points of articulation.  The majority of the articulation is in the arms, but he’s got a movable eye and a “lid” that goes up and down, which is a pretty nifty feature.  As far as scaling of this figure relative to the others, he seems a touch large for my eyes.  Like, not atrociously so, but he just looks a little off to me.  It *could* just be his accessories that are throwing me off.  His sculpt is an all-new one, and its a pretty solid offering.  The model from the game has been well captured here.  The details are clean, and the line work is sharp.  There’s some great work on the dings and weathering on his outer plating, which helps give him that nice broken-in look that fits in so well with the game aesthetic.  My one complaint about the sculpt is the pegs they’ve put on his top for his hats.  They’re not at all subtle, and break up an otherwise very  faithful sculpt.  I think it would have made more sense to put the pegs in the hats, since the holes would be less obvious.  The paintwork matches up with the sculpt, the base work is clean, and the accenting helps sell the sculpted details.  There’s a slight gash on my figure’s eye, which is a little annoying, but it’s minor, and I think it’s safe to say it’s not the norm.  Claptrap includes a stand, which uses an articulated arm to plug into his back.  He can’t stand without it (it’s just one of the troubles of translating this design) so it’s certainly appreciated.  He also includes a sherrif’s hat and revolver, and a wizard’s hat and two different wands.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Though I don’t dislike Claptrap as much as some of the fanbase, I still waited a bit on this one.  I ended up grabbing the last one at my local TRU, once they hit the 40% off level of their liquidation process.  He’s a pretty decent figure, but I’m not sure he’s really worth the heightened price.  It’ll be interesting to see how this concept works out for McFarlane.

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#1616: Zer0

ZER0

BORDERLANDS 2 (McFARLANE TOYS)

“Shrouded in mystery, Zer0 is an assassin-for-hire whose identity and origin are unknown. Left unsatisfied after a previous target failed to fight back, Zer0 turned to Vault hunting in search of a worthy challenge.”

Borderlands 2 is, if I’m being quite honest, a favorite game.  In terms of figures, toymakers always focus, just on NPCs.  This has upset me, and other fans I’ve no doubt, who want Vault Hunters.  They are the center, of all of the cool gameplay, and have neat designs.  For their second set, McFarlane has broached the group, with the Assassin.  His is the figure, which I plan to examine, for today’s review.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Allow me to tell, the info of this figure, such as I know it. He is named Zer0, part of the second series, of Borderlands 2.  He’s from McFarlane, same as his predecessors, Jack and small Tina (Tiny is her name, usually that is, lest I do this thing).  Of the Color Tops, he is numbered 41, ‘spite the others lack. He stands 7 inches, and he is packed with movement, 26 points here.  Articulation, as it is for this figure, has been worked in well.  It’s superior, a definite improvement, to prior figures.  The hips merit note, as they diverge from others, and are the best yet.  Movement is solid, though it’s somewhat restricted, to preserve the sculpt.  Zer0’s sculpt is new, rendered from his game model, and quite expertly.  His build is proper, he’s appropriately thin, and oh so scrawny.  The other details, such as weathering and wear, is also top-notch.  His armor’s beaten, it’s all scratched up and dingy, just as it should be. In terms of paintwork, Zer0 exhibits quality, that is like his friends.  The details are clean, and the colors match the game, and he looks the part.  There is some small slop, it’s on his right upper arm, but it’s not awful.  Zer0 is packed with, an assortment of extras, all of them well picked.  First is a number, to attach to his faceplate, as within the game.  It can be tricky, getting it properly placed, but once on it stays.  Also included, the Infinity Pistol, winnable in-game.  Though it’s well-sculpted, Zer0 has trouble with it, falling from his hand.  Up next is a sword, Zer0 uses for melee, and always has near.  It’s really quite long, in fact surprisingly so, more than half his height.  It has got a peg, which helps to keep it in place, unlike the pistol.  The third thing packed in, is a display stand like Jack’s, which keeps him stable.  Lastly included,  there are SHIFT codes for the game, granting you three keys.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Zer0 was purchased, on a trip to Toys R Us, and was a surprise.  I’d just discovered, the two Series 1 figures, and didn’t expect him.  Zer0 is solid, the best of the three figures, so far in the line.  I’m happy with him, and am eager to see others, of the Vault Hunters.  Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to stop writing, in the haiku form.

#1582: Chief Hopper

CHIEF HOPPER

STRANGER THINGS (McFARLANE)

The central characters of Stranger Things are really the kids, who do a lot of the important things and generally end up moving the plot forward all on their own.  However, they’re still just kids, and they do occasionally need some adult supervision, which frequently comes in the form of the town sheriff, Chief Jim Hopper.  In a world full of stange things, Hopper’s the one who stands back and goes “hey, that thing over there seems a little strange.”  What’s *not* strange is that Hopper got an action figure, which I’ll be looking at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Chief Hopper is the second of the two basic figures in the first series of McFarlane Toys’ Stranger Things line.  Where Eleven was very season specific, Hopper (by virtue of being an adult actor who doesn’t change much from season to season) is more of a catch-all sort of a figure.  The figure stands 7 inches tall and he has 24 points of articulation (though the waist on my figure was fused when he came out of the packaging, so he spent a lot of time at 23).  Hopper’s articulation is definitely an improvement over Eleven and even the Borderlands 2 Jack.  The hips here use the later Walking Dead styled joints, which allow for a lot more mobility.  It is a bit funny, though, that in the last week I’ve looked at three McFarlance figures that are ostensibly in the same style and each of them’s had a completely different hip articulation scheme.  Obviously, you have to tailor a bit to design, but this does seem a little goofy.  The improved mobility of this figure is certainly a plus, but I must admit, the hip joints aren’t exactly easy on the eyes, especially when moved out of their “default” position. If they want to use this style of joint (which I don’t think is a terrible idea), they need to refine it a bit.  The rest of the articulation is a bit better worked in, so they didn’t totally blow it.  I think hips just confuse them a bit.  Hopper’s sculpt is definitely a solid piece of work.  Apart from the hip issue, it’s a very well crafted sculpt.  The detailing on his sheriff’s uniform is quite sharp, and the head’s likeness of actor David Harbour is spot-on.  There’s no confusing who this guy is.  The paint on Hopper isn’t super exciting or anything, but, like the sculpt, it’s pretty decent.  The best work is on the face, which looks pretty lifelike (though it doesn’t photograph the best).  The rest of it’s just pretty standard stuff, but it’s rather cleanly applied, and everything matches up with the show pretty well.  Hopper’s not quite as well accessorized as El, but I’d guess that has to do with his larger stature.  He still gets his revolver, a coffee mug (hey, pair this with the waffle included with Eleven and we’re slowly getting a balanced breakfast!), and a display stand.  His solicits mention his hat being removable, but it’s not, nor does he get the extra un-hatted head that the original packaging renders showed.  That’s a bit of a bummer, as I’d have liked the option to display him without the hat.  I’m guessing McFarlane might be saving that head for a later release.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As with yesterday’s Eleven, this figure was purchased based on a request by FiQ-Fan Hubert from Poland.  Hopper actually proved to be what pushed me over into McFarlane’s camp on these offerings.  As cool as Funko’s set was, I really wanted a figure of Hopper.  Initially, I was only going to grab him, but I am weak, and I ended up with both figures.  I really like this figure a lot.  Issues with lessened accessories aside, Hopper’s really the stronger of the two figures.  Here’s to hoping the rest of the line follows his example.

#1581: Eleven

ELEVEN

STRANGER THINGS (McFARLANE)

As far as Netflix original product goes, I think Stranger Things caught a lot of people by surprise.  Most caught by surprise?  Toy makers, who had no idea that this little online show would gather such a demand for product.  Funko were the first on the scene, by virtue of picking up every license under the sun, but McFarlane Toys has been pretty quick with their follow up.  They’re moving at a slightly slower pace than Funko, but producing a slightly higher-end product.  I’ll be taking a look at their first version of central character Eleven today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Eleven is one of the two figures (three of you count the deluxe Demogorgon) in the first series of McFarlane’s Stranger Things line.  This is a Season 1 Eleven, specifically depicting her after she’s taken in by the boys.  The figure stands 5 3/4 inches tall and she has 18 points of articulation.  The articulation on Eleven is a bit more restricted than Handsome Jack, mostly in regards to the hips, which are just swivel cuts here.  It makes her a little hard to keep standing, but ultimately she’s still pretty mobile.  Eleven’s sculpt is generally pretty solid.  The body has fairly realistic proportions, and the texture work and depth on her clothing is decent.  I particularly like the work on the shoes, right down to the slight disheveled nature of the laces.  I think some areas, the skirt of her dress in particular, do end up a touch soft, but it’s not awful.  I’d also prefer if said skirt piece had been made from a softer material, as well, since the thick hard plastic sort of looks off.  There’s even a clear cut at the waist where the new material could have been swapped in.  Her head sports an okay likeness of Millie Bobby Brown, but not quite a spot-on one.  There’s just something slightly odd about it.  I think her face may be too wide.  It certainly looks better from some angles than from others, though, and if you can get the head into a good downward tilted death-glare sort of look, I think the likeness greatly improves.  In terms of paintwork, this figure definitely has its plusses and minuses.  The face is pretty decent, especially the eyes and mouth, which are pretty lifelike.  However, the decision to go for the bloodied nose look seems a little strange, especially if there’s no alternate head or anything.  As far as the clothing, the wash on the jacket and the shoes looks good, and adds some necessary wear to them.  That said, the same effect doesn’t work so well on the skirt, which just looks like someone smeared spaghetti sauce along the bottom of it.  I think a cleaner look for that particular article of clothing probably would have looked better.  Eleven is packed with a wig, an Eggo waffle, a radio (with an extra hand to hold it), and a display stand.  Not a bad assortment of extras at all.  The wig sits a lot better than I’d expected it to, though it just makes the issue of the permanent stream of blood from the nose even more prominent.  The waffle is fun, but I don’t know that we ever see her with just a single waffle; I think the box would have hold the idea a bit better.  The radio’s an important piece, and I’m glad that got included.  The stand is also important, since, as noted above, she can have a little difficulty standing on her own.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Eleven marks my first reader requested review.  Hubert, a FiQ-fan from over in Poland, contacted me a little while back asking if I might be taking a look at any of these guys.  I like the show and knew I’d pick up some of the figures at some point, but I hadn’t made up my mind as to whether I wanted to try Funko or McFarlane’s line.  After picking up Handsome Jack and being a real fan of that figure, I ended up coming across both Eleven and Hopper at Target, so I figured I’d be a nice reviewer and give them a chance.  There are some definite flaws with Eleven, but I generally like her, and I’m happy I grabbed her.  Thanks for the suggestion Hubert!

#1576: Handsome Jack

HANDSOME JACK

BORDERLANDS 2 (MCFARLANE TOYS)

“After taking over the Hyperion corporation, Handsome Jack declared himself dictator of Pandora, and takes full credit for finding The Vault. Nestled in his geostationary “H-shaped” moon base, Jack can send supplies and troops down to Pandora, and most importantly can keep an eye on Vault Hunters at all times.”

In preparation for today’s review, I went back and looked at all of the other reviews I’ve done on Valentine’s Day, just to see how I started them off.  Did you know that in the four years I’ve been running this site, I’ve only once directly referenced the actual day in my review?  Weird.  Well, in our own odd way, Super Awesome Girlfriend and I are celebrating the holiday by sitting down and reviewing some action figures from a property we both love: Borderlands!  Her review of Tiny Tina went up earlier today, and I’m following it up with a look at the other half of the set, Handsome Jack!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Handsome Jack is the second of the two figures in the first series of McFarlane’s Borderlands 2 line.  These two were originally meant to be part of the overarching Color Tops line that McFarlane had running, where each figure was given a number, but it appears that whole idea was dropped in favor of just doing a bunch of dedicated lines.  Borderlands already has two more series confirmed, so that seems to have worked out alright.  Jack stands 7 inches tall and he has 22 points of articulation.  There was some concern when these figures were first shown that they would be little more than glorified statues (especially given the early offerings from Color Tops), and they were even solicited as only having 12 points of articulation.  While Jack’s not going to be pulling off any crazy kung fu moves or anything, he’s actually quite posable, on par with McFarlane’s Halo and Walking Dead offerings.  My only real complaint is how limited the hips are.  They do alright for minor tweaks to his stance, but that’s about it.  I suppose his elbows could also offer some more range, but I more fault the design of the character for that one.  The actual sculpt is definitely a solid recreation of the in-game model for Jack.  The clothing is all properly dynamic in how it lays on him, and his proportions match well with the character’s scrawny physique.  Jack includes two different head sculpts.  He’s packed wearing the better of the two sculpts, though curiously, it’s the non-standard one.  It gives us a glimpse at Jack’s unmasked face, seen by the player only after defeating Jack in the final battle.  There’s just a ton of character to it, with all of the scarring and the slight sneer to his expression.  His standard head isn’t bad, but something feels ever so slightly off about his face.  It doesn’t seem quite as sharp and angular as it should be, and his expression doesn’t look quite as intense as it should be.  He looks more bemused than maniacally evil.  On the plus side, both heads sport a perfect recreation of Jack’s wacky hair, which really sells who he’s supposed to be.  The paint work on Jack is pretty strong all around.  The base colors are nice and bright, as they should be, and they’ve done quite a nice job of capturing the signature comic-book-y-styled outlining of the series.  There’s a little bit of slop, especially on the forearms as they change from sleeve to skin, but the general appearance is very strong.  In addition to including an extra head, Jack is also packed with a Hyperion Inspiring Transmurdera SMG, the Vault Key, a display stand, and a code for 5 golden keys in-game.  The SMG seems ever so slightly on the large side, but is otherwise pretty cool, as are the other two physical extras.  The code is really only useful if you’re an active Borderlands 2 player, but fortunately I am.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Super Awesome Girlfriend’s the whole reason I even know what Borderlands is.  Without her, I don’t believe I would have ever played the game myself (I’m at best a moderate gamer).  When these figures were first announced, I knew Super Awesome Girlfriend was getting a Tiny Tina, since Tina’s one of her favorites.  I wasn’t certain about Jack, but I thought I might pick him up, if nothing more than to support the line until they got to the characters I really wanted.  In the mean time, I’ve done a play through of the Pre-Sequel, where I ended up playing Jack’s Doppleganger, and grew pretty attached to that character.  Given the closeness of design, it’s certainly easier for me to appreciate this guy, especially since I tended to play my Doppleganger with the scarred head like the one included here.  Jack’s a pretty great figure in his own right, and he gives me hope for the line as a whole.  I’m definitely down for the figures they’ve announced so far, and holding out hope that we’ll see all of the main Vault Hunters.  Honestly, I’d just settle for an Axton.  That’s not too much to ask, right? 

Guest Review #0050: Tiny Tina

TINY TINA

BORDERLANDS 2 (MCFARLANE TOYS)

“All around the Sta-actus plant, the stalker chased the bandit, the stalker thought ’twas all in fun – POP! Goes the bandit!” ~Tiny Tina

Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody! If you haven’t noticed, your main squeeze and I are reviewing action figures together to celebrate. Today, Ethan will be reviewing Handsome Jack while I’m reviewing Tiny Tina, who is the coolest character of all of Borderlands.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Before I get into the nitty gritty of the figure, I’m gonna try and give a brief introduction to the character. Tiny Tina is an NPC from the Borderlands game series, she first appears in Borderlands 2 and she appears to have a really close relationship with the vault hunters, specifically Roland. She’s a young girl whose parents were murdered during an experiment done by Hyperion, the main bad guys of the game. On top of all that, she’s the best demolition expert on all of Pandora and has a crazy personality to match—her dialogue is also fantastic!

Now, on to the figure! Tiny Tina stands at about 6 inches tall without her stand, with the stand she about .25 inches taller…maybe? I’m terrible at guessing but she’s about the same height as a few of my Marvel Legends, so that’s good enough for me. As far as I can tell, this figure has about 22 points of articulation, but I’m not 100% sure because she was a bit stiff in some areas specifically her right leg. Actually, I’ve come back with a correction, there are 24 points of articulation…oops!

One of the reasons why I like Tiny Tina so much in the game is because not only is her personality absolutely chaotic, but her outward appearance is as well. Her character design is so asymmetrical that it should make me uncomfortable, instead it makes me love her more. I think they did well in recreating her chaotic personality in the design of the figure. The one thing about her design I wish were different is the face they chose, I don’t think it quite matches the character’s personality and instead makes her seem a bit more deranged than just comically crazy.

Overall, I really like the paint job and sculpting of the character. I really enjoyed how they were able to incorporate the various holes, stitches, and patchwork into the clothing. The holes are actually there and not painted on, same with the stitches—you can actually feel them there on her clothes. I also liked how rough they made the bottom of her skirt, not only does it look all cut up but it feels like it too! For the most part the paint is alright, though it’s not my favorite thing about the figure. I thought they did a decent job of emulating the animation style of the game. Where the paint suffers the most is in some of the detailing. There are some places where the paint doesn’t quite match the paint, like the brush wasn’t quite aligned with the figure so the pattern is right it’s just a bit off to the side. There are also other places where the paint bleeds a bit over the line, which granted isn’t something that you notice right away unless you’ve been staring at it for an ungodly amount of time—like me! Mostly the detailing is pretty cool and spot on, I really enjoyed how they made the various lines on the figure stand out much like they do in the game.

Finally, there’s the figure’s accessories. Now, knowing Tiny Tina I thought she would’ve come with her explosives or maybe a ridiculous looking gun. Instead, she comes with a jagged bloody axe that looks like it should weigh more than she does (as a character and not a figure) and is almost as tall as her, standing at about 6 inches. At first, I wasn’t sure if I’d like this piece because I don’t remember seeing anything about an axe, unless it came from her DnD expansion pack,”Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep”. However, after displaying her with the axe I realized that it quite grew on me. It has an interesting design that quite matches that of the owner, jagged, oddly designed, and held together by duct tape. I think it’s a really cool design, and I like the detailing that went into the piece, including the dripping blood and the vault symbols. Now all I want is an animation of Tiny swinging this massive axe around like the crazy child she is! The other accessory she comes with is a basic stand that has the games logo and a textured top too appear as if she’s standing on dirt, without coloring it. I have mixed feelings about the stand. I find it to be rather basic, but with the design of the figure you really need it to help her stand. Because her right leg, the one without the sneaker, is so stiff or doesn’t have the right joints at all it makes it really hard for her to stand. This Tiny Tina is very left foot dominant, which is fine, but without the stand it’s nearly impossible for me to keep her upright and on top of that I’m a little worried about her right leg. So if you’re going to design a figure that really needs its stand, at least make the stand more interesting and less like a last minute addition!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve been a Tiny Tina fan since the moment of her conception and so when I heard that McFarlane was making Borderlands figures I was super excited. When I found out that they weren’t going to be statues I think I actually screamed. And when they were finally released, I believe I threw my card at poor Ethan and screamed that we needed those figures NOW! There was also more screaming when the package came and then I believe the dogs howled when I finally opened up her box…

Even though I’m a bit annoyed with her stand and one leg, I’m actually really happy that I have a Tiny Tina now. She’s still a fantastic figure that I love having on display on my side of the bookshelf! And I can’t wait to add more of the cast to my collection so that my crazy bomb-loving child won’t be alone. To say that we’re more than ready to support this new line of figures is a little bit of an understatement.

“Get-outta-my-shop-or-I’ll-punch-yo-butt. That’s-how-Tiny-Tina-roll.” ~Tiny Tina

#1507: Shadowhawk

SHADOWHAWK

SPAWN (MCFARLANE TOYS)

“When justice failed the innocent, district attorney Paul Johnstone fashioned the silver and black garb of the human Bird of Prey: Shadowhawk! With his powerful weapons, bullet-proof armor, infra-red lenses and natural fighting skills, he has vowed to TAKE BACK THE NIGHT form the monsters that prowl the city’s streets!”

When discussions of early Image Comics come up, Jim Valentino always seems to be the odd man out.  He wasn’t the super star that Todd McFarlane, Rob Liefeld, and Jim Lee were, nor did he experience the larger scale notoriety in his original creations like Erik Larsen. He did, however, have a highly enjoyable run on Guardians of the Galaxy, which may well be one of the best things to come out of ‘90s Marvel.  When it came time to create his own original work, he delivered ShadowHawk, something of a ‘90s anti-hero take on Batman, but still one of the more unique of the early Image creations.  Like so many of those early characters, he found his way into the Spawn line from McFarlane, and I’ll be looking at that figure today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

ShadowHawk was released in Spawn Series 4.  He joined Sam Kieth’s The Maxx as one of two non-Spawn characters in this particular series.  There have actually been two different main ShadowHawks over the years.  This figure represents the first one, who was still the only one at the time of his release.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and has 9 points of articulation.  ShadowHawk’s sculpt was unique to him, though it certainly feels very similar to the basic Spawn figure from Series 1, at least in the pose and basic build.  While the figure looks overall like the ShadowHawk of the comics, it’s far from accurate to the source material.  The shoulderpads are separate pieces, rather than sleeker parts of the costume, and there’s a lot of ribbing on the silver parts that wasn’t there in the comics.  He’s also got more straps than he usually did.  One feels like McFarlane was attempting to give us Rob Liefeld’s Jim Valentino’s ShadowHawk.  It’s kind of an odd choice.  I mean, it certainly doesn’t look terrible or anything, but it’s a little sad, given that this is one of three ShadowHawk figures ever, and the only one within a decade of its release.  The most awkward part of this figure by far is the assortment of weapons that come attached to him.  While the shoulder-mounted guns can be easily removed, the two that mount on his arms are permanently attached to the figure via the tubes that go into his back.  It’s kind of a strange choice, and seems particularly silly given McFarlane’s whole “action figures for hardcore collectors” angle.  I guess he didn’t actually expect anyone to oped the damned things.  ShadowHawk’s paint work is reasonable enough.  It’s mostly pretty basic, but the colors are bold, and he stands out pretty well.  There’s a bit of slop here and there, but nothing atrocious.  ShadowHawk included the aforementioned assortment of weapons, most of which are just meant to be mounted on his person.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked up ShadowHawk on Small Business Saturday from an antique store I frequent.  They had just put out a bunch of ‘90s figures, and I was asking for a few of them from the case.  I was mostly grabbing some Toy Biz Marvel releases, but this guy was also in the case, and I sort of impulse bought him.  ShadowHawk’s always sort of intrigued me, and the figure’s cool enough.  Now I think I might try and track down some back issues, just to see what I think of the source material.

#1442: Spawn

SPAWN

SPAWN (TODD TOYS)

“The kids like chains.”

-Todd McFarlane

SPWAAAAAAAWWWWN!  He’s X-TREEEEEEME! He’s the hippest dude on the block!  He’s fliggity-fly!  Other goofy and dated phrases as well.  In the ‘90s, Spawn was just like Raymond: everybody loved him.  And why wouldn’t they?  He had all the best stuff.  He was like Batman and Spider-Man and Venom all rolled into one.  And he even had the one thing so heinously lacking from those three: chains!  Kids love those things!  Todd McFarlane used Spawn as one of the main launching points for Image Comics, with the hopes of building a merchandising empire to rival his old employers at Marvel.  He initially shopped Spawn and all associated characters around to various established toy makers, including Mattel, who almost took Todd up.  Ultimately, Todd decided the process was just taking too long, cut out the middle man, and founded Todd Toys* to release the Spawn figures on his own.  I’m looking at one of those early figures today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Spawn was released as part of Spawn Series 1.  He was the main Spawn of that particular series (there was also a Medieval Spawn released), based on Spawn’s standard look at the time, which is more or less the same look he’s had for all the years since.  The figure stands about 6 inches tall and he has 7 points of articulation.  His sculpt was new to him (though pieces of it were used elsewhere later).  For all of Todd’s insistence that his toys were the next step, this figure feels very much like a slightly dumbed down Toy Biz release.  This dude would look right at home with the Spider-Man figures of the same era.  The detail work is all rather on the simplistic side, and the details are a little soft, especially as when compared to Todd’s rather sketchy illustrations from the book.  I mean, admittedly, I sort of like this look a little bit more than Todd’s stuff, since it’s a little bolder this way.  Hands down, the most awkward feature is that damned sentient cape.  It’s big, and it’s floppy, and the “hinges” on the sides don’t really work at all.  Also, unlike every other cape on every other caped figure ever, there’s this weird extra attachment piece that plugs it into his lower back and keeps it elevated above his shoulders in a really awkward way.  When a character whose whole gimmick is his cape looks better without the cape, you may have made a wrong turn at some point.  The paint work on Spawn is okay, but not top notch or anything.  It gets all the basic work down, but most of it’s pretty fuzzy around the edges, and there’s not really anything beyond the very standard color work.  In addition to his removable cape, Spawn also included a….wooden board…with a nail…sticking out of it?  I don’t know Spawn that well, but I don’t recall this being one of his signature items.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I went almost 25 years of my life without a single Spawn figure.  Which…seemed wrong somehow.  I found the standard Spawn at Lost in Time Toys over the summer, and figured why not, right?  He’s okay.  Nothing particularly special or noteworthy.  But this launched a toy company, and had quite an impact on the industry as a whole in the long-run, so it’s a nice piece of history.  And now it’s in my collection.  Woooeeee.

*Todd Toys is now known as McFarlane Toys, due to pressuring from Mattel, who wanted to avoid confusion with Barbie’s younger brother Todd…who they then abandoned.

#1217: Michone

MICHONE

THE WALKING DEAD (MCFARLANE TOYS)

michone1

So, I guess The Walking Dead TV-show starts up soon.  Or maybe it already started back up.  I don’t actually know, because I haven’t watched the show since about fifteen minutes into this season’s premiere, nor will I be going back.  But, I’ve still got all these figures, so…yeah…  Here’s Michone.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

michone2Michone was released in the first series of McFarlane’s comic-based The Walking Dead line, which hit around the same time as the TV show’s series premiere.  The figure stands about 5 inches tall and has 18 points of articulation.  So, right off the bat, there’s the weird scale thing.  I’ve looked at the TV line and one or two of the comic figures, so the scale’s not new to the site, but it was actually new to this particular line.  It was an odd choice to say the least, since the rest of the industry was doing either 3 3/4 or 6-inch scale at the time.  McFarlane’s gotta be different.  Michone is based on her first appearance from the comics, which is a fairly standard look for her, but at the same time a bit gaudy compared to the character’s look as the series progressed.  The sculpt is alright, I guess.  It certainly wasn’t as bad as some of how of the other figures from the earliest days of this and the TV line.  That being said, while the sculpt isn’t bad, it’s also michone3kind of boring.  The pose is just sort of her standing with her hand holding the katana downwards.  There’s also pretty much no trace of Charlie Adlar’s art style in the sculpt; she instead looks like just some generic sort of super model or something.  Not exactly very indicative of Michone as a character.  I guess it could be worse, though.  She’s not the ultra-hideous figure that the first Rick was.  At the very least, the paint on Michone is actually pretty solid.  The colors are vibrant, which works surprisingly well, and all of the application is very clean.  Miocene was packed with her katana, a power drill, and a spoon.  The sword is pretty much expected, but the drill and spoon are some pretty fun issue specific pieces, even if she didn’t use them in this outfit.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I bought the corresponding Rick figure from this line first, which didn’t really make me want to pursue any of the others.  But, Cosmic Comix had their biggest sale of the year going, and she was 40% off, which was enough for me to go for it.  It’s hard to get super excited about this figure, but she certainly could have been far worse.

#1031: Cyborg Ninja

CYBORG NINJA

METAL GEAR SOLID (MCFARLANE)

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In my family, I’m the action figure guy and my brother Christian is the video game guy. The cool thing about those two hobbies is that they have a tendency to overlap, with lots of games getting action figures. I’ve been known to dabble in such figures, but I generally stick to ones from games I’ve actually played. Not so with today’s figure, who comes from Metal Gear Solid, a game from a series of games I’ve never once played. I did watch the “movie” version of the first MGS, though, for what that’s worth. Anyway, despite not playing the game, I like a few of the designs, especially today’s figure, the Cyborg Ninja, better known as Grey Fox!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

GrayFox2Cyborg Ninja was released by McFarlane Toys in 1999, as part of their Metal Gear Solid line. This figure is actually the camouflaged variant of the main figure. There were a number of similar variants in this particular line, but it’s actually pretty sensible for Grey Fox, who spends a good portion of the game cloaked. The figure stands 6 ½ inches tall and he has 16 points of articulation. His articulation is a bit better than a lot of McFarlane’s earlier stuff, but still he’s really only good for a basic standing pose. It’s a shame, since Fox is pretty agile in the game, and it would be cool to do a bit more with the figure. The real killer is those freaking v-hips. V-hips are consistently annoying, no matter the figure. Grey Fox’s sculpt is decent enough, especially since it’s based on the PS1-era graphics of the original game. He looks more or less like the character he’s supposed to be. He lacks the cool detail work that later versions got, but he was also a fraction of the price, so it’s acceptable. I will say that his arms seem a bit short and his legs a bit long, but that could just be a stylization thing. The paintwork on the figure is more detailed than you’d think, given the whole active-camo thing. Every detail of the suit has been outlined in black, so that you can still see what he’s supposed to look like. It’s a nice effect, and makes him feel like a whole figure, rather than just a cheap recolor. Grey Fox included a sword (done to match the rest of the figure), an extra head with the faceplate open, and an extra arm with a rail gun attachment. The extra arm is really cool, because it has an elbow joint, which the normal arm does not. Why they didn’t just put elbow joints on both arms is beyond me, though.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Cyborg Ninja figure was actually my very first exposure to MGS. I saw a picture of the figure in ToyFare and thought he looked kind of cool. It was years before I had any clue who he was or what MGS was. In the last couple of years, Tim’s introduced me to the games, and I still quite like Grey Fox. For my birthday, I took a trip to 2nd Chance Toyz and Tim pointed this figure out to me. I would have preferred the regular version, I think, but this one’s not bad. He’s got the sorts of problems I’d expect from an old McFarlane figure (weird proportions, no movement, fragile, etc.), but he’s still a decent enough figure that I don’t regret getting him.