#3225: Stryfe

STRYFE

X-FORCE (TOY BIZ)

“Stryfe is the mysterious evil mutant who could be Cable’s brother – or perhaps even Cable himself! No one knows the truth about this fearsome warrior, and anyone who came close to finding out learned never to do it again! Styfe’s armor is not only shatter-proof, it’s packed with amazing weapons systems. But his most dangerous weapon is his energy mace – with just a touch it can destroy a skyscraper.”

Ah, Stryfe.  He’s so ’90s, it’s painful.  Definition of try-hard.  Just way too much going on.  Ooooh, what if he’s Cable?  Or what if he’s a clone?  And what if he looks like Wolverine, but with more Wolverine stuff shoved on his face?  But he’s also in a full suit of armor?  And he’s maybe a telepath?  And there’s a random “y” in his name, in place of the proper vowel?  See what I mean?  Too much going on.  He’s just so hard to follow.  At least he had a short run of action figures, I guess.  Well, here’s the first one of those.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Stryfe was released in Series 1 of Toy Biz’s X-Force line.  He was one of two outright villains in the first assortment, the other being the wonderfully named “Forearm.”  Gotta love that one.  The figure stands a little over 5 inches tall and he has 10 points of articulation, as well as a flip-up helmet.  The figure’s sculpt was all-new.  Apart from the head, which was re-used for one of the X-Men boxed sets later down the line, it was a sculpt that remained unique.  I looked at the slightly miniaturized version of the sculpt when it was in the Steel Mutants line-up, and I wasn’t particularly enamored by it at the time.  I’m still not really enamored by it here.  He’s scrawny, strangely shaped, and still largely devoid of detailing.  The flip-up helmet is an interesting concept, but it just winds up looking really strange.  It’s just so flat, and the underlying head just winds up looking silly.  The cape piece is removable, and….well, it connects at a very unfortunate spot, right in the middle of the butt.  Yes, this figure has a butthole.  Why connect it there?  Doesn’t it just feel like it’s asking for trouble?  The paint work on this figure is very basic.  Lots of silver.  All very flat.  It’s alright.  Stryfe was packed with his weirdly shaped mace, which is just about as goofy as he is.

 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I don’t like Stryfe.  I’ve never liked Stryfe.  This figure’s always looked lame, and I stand by that.  I bought him because I want all of them, and he was cheap because I bought him loose.  He’s not great.  He’s really not.  He’s a try-hard, and that comes through on the figure, too.  I guess it could be worse.  It could be Ahab.  But that’s not a lot to clear, really.

#3179: Ultra Magnus

ULTRA MAGNUS

TRANSFORMERS: R.E.D. (HASBRO)

Okay, the Transformers reviews have certainly slowed down around here, I suppose.  I was trying for a once-a-month thing, but I couldn’t even do that.  Admittedly, I wasn’t really trying.  Well, hey, would you guys like a Transformers review?  Okay, but slight caveat: this one does not transform.  I know.  First Transformers review in three months.  Doesn’t even transform.  There’s some sort of cruel irony there.  Well, if it makes it any better, it’s at least an Ultra Magnus.  So, you know, it’s at least mostly on brand.  Mostly.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ultra Magnus is one of the two figures (the other being the Prime version of Knockout) that make up the fifth assortment of Transformers: R.E.D., which remains exclusive to Walmart.  The entire selling point of this line is that the transformations are sacrificed in the name of animation accuracy, a selling point that has been completely lost with this figure, because instead of being based on any animated appearance of Magnus, this figure is instead based on his G1 inner robot.  Why?  Re-use, that’s why.  I’ll get to that.  The figure stands about 6 inches tall and he has 34 points of articulation.  Magnus’s entire existence is reliant on one thing: he’s a 100% parts re-use.  Since he’s just the inner robot, rather than a proper armored Magnus, he’s just a complete repaint of the Series 1 Optimus Prime mold.  This is my first time messing with the mold.  It’s alright.  The movement is a little better than the Soundwave mold for the most part, and I found the angles to be a little sharper on this one.  It matches the Prime animation model, which is good for Prime.  For Magnus, it’s kind of neither here nor there whether it’s accurate to anything.  It’s generally a pretty fun sculpt removed from the source, and it plays pretty well, so I can’t really complain.  The mold still features Prime’s opening chest compartment, which on the first release allowed for storage of the included Matrix of Leadership.  The Matrix isn’t included here, so it’s kind of vestigial, but it’s still a cool feature.  The main change-up for this release is the paint scheme.  As with the G1 figure, he’s a largely white version of Prime, much like the inner bots for the Siege and Kingdom releases.  Not *actually* being an inner bot means he can follow the original color scheme a little bit more, specifically with the upper being silver, rather than just more white.  The application is clean, and he looks the part, so it all works out.  Magnus is packed with three sets of hands (fists, open gesture, and a grip/pointing combo), a rifle, and an alternate Energon axe hand (now in blue).  All of these are the same as those included with the standard Optimus, though, as noted above, this guy loses the Matrix.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got this line’s Soundwave because he pretty much fell into my lap.  He was fine, but not really enough to make me jump into the line any further.  The announcement of a Magnus was exciting, but that was undercut by the reveal that he was just a Prime repaint.  Generally, I don’t tend to go for just inner-bot Magnuses, so I wasn’t really planning to get this one.  Ultimately, I got him because I needed to stop at Walmart for something else, he was there, and he was on sale.  He’s not a bad figure, but he’s also just sort of…lost?  Like, he’s not even true to the one thing the line had going for it, so, exactly what is his purpose?  I’d like to see a proper armored version later down the line, but honestly I feel like this figure’s existence is going to make getting another one more difficult.  I get Hasbro wanting to get extra mold re-uses, but for this specific line, I don’t feel like this is one that really works.  So, I’m glad to have another Magnus, as per usual, but I do wish he were better.

#3174: Parallax

PARALLAX

DC MULTIVERSE (MCFARLANE TOYS)

“As a Green Lantern, Hal Jordan served the Guardians of the Universe and saved all of existence from great peril countless times. But, when Hal was unable to save him hometown, Coast City, from obliteration because he was off-world, he was shattered. He flew straight to Oa, the Guardian’s home planet, and asked for their help to resurrect Coast City. When the Guardians refused, Hal absorbed the energy of Oa’s Central Power Battery, along with Parallax, a yellow entity made of living fear that was imprisoned within the battery for millennia. Parallax then drove Hal mad and fueled him to decimate the entire Green Lantern Corps!”

Hey, did you guys like seeing me tear into McFarlane for a bit yesterday?  Well, I guess I’m gonna do it again.  I swear, I keep meaning to be done with McFarlane DC, but, you know, then I keep not being…done…with..McFarlane DC.  Look, I just get weak sometimes.  Anyway, recently, McFarlane has been slightly breaking away from the heavy Batman-focus, and there’s been some Green Lantern stuff coming through, which certainly appeals to me.  Amongst those GL-related releases is today’s focus, Parallax, a character of whom my opinions are almost as conflicted as those of McFarlane’s handling of the DC license.  Let’s see how this goes.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Parallax is another “Platinum Edition” figure in McFarlane’s DC Multiverse line.  As I noted yesterday, exactly what “Platinum Edition” means varies from figure to figure, but in the case of Parallax, it means that he’s a Walmart-exclusive, alongside fellow ’90s-themed “Platinum Edition” release Azrael Batman.  This is Parallax’s first figure under McFarlane, and in fact the first Hal Jordan Parallax figure we’ve gotten since DCD’s old Rebirth release.  That’s quite a gap in figures there.  Sure is fun that it’s a Walmart exclusive.  That certainly won’t be a frustrating turn of events for most people.  The figure stands 7 1/4 inches tall and he has 37 points of articulation.  On the topic of sizing, McFarlane’s difficulties with consistent scaling across their figures kicks in here, as Hal stands 1/4 inch taller than yesterday’s Martian Manhunter, which is definitely off, as J’onn has consistently been depicted as one of the tallest DC heroes, and Hal is usually middle of the pack.  The sculpt for Parallax is an all-new one, and…well, it’s got its ups and its downs.  First and foremost, the box specifically cites this figure as being from “Emerald Twilight,” and it’s just not.  Heck, not even the illustration on the back of the box is from “Emerald Twilight.”  It’s actually from the Convergence crossover series, some two decades later.  The figure proper is a decent enough sculpt from a technical stand point, aside from some slight oddities this the back of the head having a slightly odd shape.  Beyond that, the issues largely stem from a multitude of inaccuracies.  The hair’s short and spiky, rather than the more classically parted hair that Hal usually has.  The arms don’t have the stripes running down the sides, instead having the shoulders come to a point, the way they do on Hal’s classic costume.  The torso, specifically the circle on the chest, is three dimensional, and the surrounding elements are totally different in their shaping than what’s shown on the page.  The tops of the boots are also totally different in their shaping, and there are a ton of extra details on the boots that aren’t there either.  Why all the differences?  Your guess is as good as mine.  Todd’s gotta Todd, maybe?  It’s been a recurring issue with the DC line, but on this one in particular, it sticks out because he’s specifically called out as being based on a specific story.  Parallax’s color work is also notably off.  The most glaring issue is the total lack of the white steaks on his temples, but his hair is also generally too dark, with almost no brown at all.  There’s a slight hint of grey, but it’s far too subtle, and also almost entirely at the back of the head.  The greens are also rather drab, and generally too light.  Beyond that, the application is at least clean, and I do quite like how the clear green hands look.  Parallax is packed with a collector card, two energy effects for the hands, a power battery, and a display stand.  The accessories are at least pretty cool, so he’s got that going for him.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

While I’ve always had my issues with the story that spawned him, I also have this odd soft spot for Parallax, going back to the Total Justice figure being my only way to get a Hal Jordan figure back when I was a kid.  I loved that figure, and it’s resulted in me really growing to like the Parallax design.  I had the DCD figure back when it was new, but it was always a rather fragile figure, which isn’t very fun.  I had hoped Mattel might get to him during DC Universe Classics, but they never did.  Then the pictures of this guy surfaced, and I realized he was really my best bet at getting a halfway decent Parallax.  I wasn’t looking forward to the difficulties of getting a Walmart-exclusive, but as luck would have it, someone traded one into All Time, making getting one super easy.  Ultimately, my feelings on this figure, much like the actual character, and the overall toyline he’s part of, are very conflicted.  He’s not a bad figure from a technical standpoint, but there’s a lot of issues in terms of accuracy, with lots of changes seemingly being made purely for the sake of change.  It’s an issue I’ve run into before with the line, and I’m sure it’ll crop up again, but you just keep getting this sense that Todd thinks his designs are just better, and, well, he’s wrong, and it gets in the way of figures being as good as they could be, which is a real shame.

Thanks to my sponsors over at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure to review.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website.

#3173: Martian Manhunter

MARTIAN MANHUNTER

DC MULTIVERSE (MCFARLANE TOYS)

“J’onn J’onzz, the mysterious Martian Manhunter, is one of the last survivors of the planet Mars, and was accidentally transported to Earth not long after the majority of his people were wiped out. Martian Manhunter is thought to be as strong as, or possibly stronger than, Superman, and has a variety of powers including super-strength, super-speed, flight, telepathy, telekinesis, shape-shifting, phase-shifting, regenerative abilities, and near-invulnerability. Manhunter also has genius-level intellect and strong leadership skills. Using his vast powers and skills, Martian Manhunter strives to protect the citizens of his new home, Earth.”

Three years into their run with the license, McFarlane Toys’ handling of DC can still largely boiled down to “wow, Todd sure does like Batman, doesn’t he?”  And when it’s not that, it can often be boiled down to “wow, Todd sure does like squeezing extra uses out of a mold in often frustrating ways, doesn’t he?”  Today’s the second thing.  But I’ll get to that in a bit.  For the big super hero teams, I like to discuss the term “quintessential,” for those characters that may not be the heavy hitters, but whom the team kind of feels lacking without.  For the Avengers, I long maintained that character is Hawkeye.  For their equivalent team over at the Distinguished Competition, my vote goes to Martian Manhunter.  He’s just very important to the line-up, and it never feels quite right without him.  J’onn can be hit or miss when it comes to toy coverage, but he generally does alright with his figures when he actually manages to get them.  And hey, by virtue of being not a girl, and therefore unlikely to drive any boys to become serial killers, he gets two whole figures from McFarlane!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Martian Manhunter is one of McFarlane’s “Platinum Edition” figures for DC Multiverse.  As usual with McFarlane, the branding of “Platinum Edition” is one that has a confusing meaning, since he doesn’t seem to be very consistent in how he’s using it.  In the case of Manhunter, it means he’s a Target-exclusive.  So, I guess there’s that.  This Manhunter is the second figure under McFarlane’s tenure, with the first one, based on J’onn’s New 52-era design, hitting mass retail just about the same time that this one was announced.  You know, just to really split that market on the poor guy.  This one, on the flip side, is a “classic” Manhunter, or at the very least a mid-to-late ’80s Manhunter, given he’s still got the heavy brow and red eyes. The figure stands a little over 7 inches tall and he has 39 points of articulation. The articulation scheme on this figure is pretty much the same one on every McFarlane figure, and as with other releases, it’s clearly been inserted into a finished sculpt, which has its ups and downs. Much like the Peacemaker figure, getting the full range out of some of the joints, especially on the elbows and knees, requires breaking the flow of the sculpt entirely. Not exactly a great look. Additionally, there are a few instances of the sculpt getting in the way of movement, most notably on the hips.  As far as the quality of the actual sculpt, it’s honestly not a bad one.  The upper half of the figure, is mostly shared with the other Martian Manhunter.  He gets a new lower half, as well as new chest harness, and a slightly tweaked cape.  The head is more on the alien side for J’onn, but not out of character.  I like the inhuman and stoic, but still slightly friendly expression of the face, and the angling of the brow is a cool look.  The body sculpt does a respectable job of capturing J’onn’s stockier build, with a fairly realistic set of proportions, that still retain that somewhat heroic look.  There’s some pretty decent texturing at play, especially on his skin.  The cape is generally okay looking, but the collar, which wasn’t on the other release, feels a little haphazardly added; it doesn’t actually connect all the way around, so certain posing will have it clearly disconnected from the rest of the cape, which definitely looks odd.  The color work on Manhunter is nice and bright, which is honestly a refreshing change of pace for the Multiverse figures.  It’s largely molded colors, which keeps it fairly clean.  The greens of the elbows and knees are a slightly different shade from the rest of the body, but beyond that, the plastic coloring works out okay.  The paint work is kept to a minimum, but it looks pretty clean, and there’s not slop or bleed over.  Martian Manhunter is supposed to come with a collector card and a display stand, but mine doesn’t have the stand, and didn’t even have the spot for it in the package.  I mean, it’s just a black disk, and I have a bunch of them, but still.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve got a soft spot for a decent Martian Manhunter figure, so when McFarlane showed off their original, more modern Manhunter, I was very tempted to pick him up, and was *this* close to doing so.  Like, he had arrived at All Time, and I was planning to take a look at him in person to make my final call.  And literally that exact day, McFarlane announced this guy, which kind of took all of the wind out of my sails on the other one.  The timing on that announcement was pretty darn rotten.  Also, with a character that’s not a heavy hitter, it feels like splitting an already niche audience isn’t the smartest call.  This was clearly the look that most everyone wanted, so why not just make this the main release.  Was Target really clamoring that much for a Martian Manhunter variant?  Whatever the case, while I’m not one for really hunting anymore, Max was kind enough to give me an assist on this one, so I was able to get him without much trouble, at the very least.  Stupid decisions about his release aside, the figure’s actually pretty darn good.  There’s still some weirdness, but it’s minor, and I really do like how this figure turned out.

#3156: Street Fight Wolverine & Shingen

STREET FIGHT WOLVERINE & SHINGEN YASHIDA

MARVEL MINIMATES

In a line-up that was actually pretty focused and on-point, there was one pack from the tie-in assortment for 2013’s The Wolverine that just seemed…non-essential?  Redundant?  I don’t know exactly.  Though a far cry from the over saturation of the Wolverine: Origins days, today’s pairing of Street Fight Wolverine and Shingen Yashida is a reminder that not every set needs the title character and not every character in the film was strong enough to warrant their own ‘mate.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

These two were part of Marvel Minimates Series 52’s The Wolverine tie-in, as well as being the carried over set in the TRU assortment…for…reasons?  I don’t know why this set was carried over, but, well, I think I might be getting ahead of myself.

STREET FIGHT WOLVERINE

Here’s a design that is a definite “points for effort” on the part of the costume designers.  In the original miniseries on which The Wolverine was based, Logan spent most of his time in his then-current brown costume.  The film’s never put Wolverine in anything remotely close to any of his proper costumes, preferring to more often stick him in his civilian gear.  For the climactic battle of The Wolverine, they actually tried to put him into something that recalled his distinctive brown costume, without actually being a “costume.”  So, we get a jacket that kind of mimics the patterns of his uniform.  Not a terrible choice, though perhaps a little too subtle if you ask me.  Wolverine uses add-ons for his hair and jacket, as well as having a set of clawed hands.  The hair and hands are shared with his fellow Wolverines from the movie, but the jacket was actually an all-new piece to this particular figure.  In an assortment with a lot of re-used parts, this one being new was a little bit surprising.  Regardless, it’s a pretty nice piece, and its understandably seen some subsequent re-use since its introduction here.  Wolverine’s paintwork is okay, but not super eye-catching, since it’s just a lot of brown.  We get a more intense facial expression here, which is actually pretty nice, albeit more limited in application than the suited version.  There’s a lot of nice detail work under the jacket, which is always good to see.  He’s also got some detailing on the knees, but I can’t for the life of me figure out what it’s meant to be.  Wolverine is packed with a set of normal hands, alternate bare arms for a look sans-jacket, and a clear display stand.

SHINGEN YASHIDA

Ah, yes, Shingen Yashida.  Who could forget Shingen Yashida?  Me.  I could.  Because I totally had to look this guy up to figure out which guy he was.  For clarification, Shingen is Mariko’s father, played by veteran actor Hiroyuki Sanada in perhaps one of the least forgiving roles in the movie.  The most distinctive thing the character does is suit up in Samurai armor and try to kill Logan.  So, naturally, DST decided to release him in a business suit.  Yeah… Anyway, Shingen has three add-on pieces for his hair, jacket, and tie.  All three pieces are re-used.  The hair is from Civilian Thor, the jacket from “World of the Psychic” Peter Venkman, and the tie from The Spirit.  The suit and tie are perfectly fine generic pieces, but the hair is just flat out wrong for Shingen, whose hair is nowhere near this length or style in the movie.  I understand the need to re-use parts, but certainly there was a more accurate piece available.  The paint on Shingen is alright, but far from thrilling, since he’s mostly shades of grey.  The face has an okay likeness of Hiroyuki Sanada, but not so much of Sanada *as* Shingen, since he’s got facial hair, which Shingen very definitely doesn’t have in the movie.  This only further adds to the confusion of who the heck this guy is supposed to be.  Shingen is packed with a katana and a clear display stand.  The sword, it should be noted, is only used by Shingen during his battle with Wolverine, when he’s wearing the armor, and therefore makes little sense with this version of the character.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Wolverine’s an okay figure, but there’s not much that sets him apart from the plethora of other Wolverine variants we’ve gotten.  Shingen is at best a minor character in The Wolverine, and is really only notable because of the scene where he armors up.  This figure’s choice not to use that design robs him of pretty much all play value and recognizability, and makes the figure a real wasted slot in this assortment.  And, to add insult to injury, he was the only non-Wolverine character to be shared between specialty and TRU, so he was freaking everywhere, just rubbing in how pointless he really was.  I do not like this figure.

#2953: Demolishor

DEMOLISHOR

TRANSFORMERS:ARMADA (HASBRO)

Demolishor fights ferociously in every battle to which he’s sent, regardless of the odds. If Megatron tells him to do something, he does it without hesitation. To Demolishor, a leader must always be obeyed at any cost. Megatron values the unswerving loyalty of his best soldier, but abandons him, when necessary, to save his own life. Demolishor has never resented any of these betrayals. But will there come a day when Demolishor questions the orders of his leader?”

Hey, remember when I was talking about Transformers: Armada a week ago?  Wanna here about it some more?  Well, you’re gonna, because it’s my site.  Sorry, I don’t make the rules.  Oh, wait, I actually do.  Well, there we are, I guess.  Last week, I looked at one of Armada’s heroic Autobots, so today, why not give the other side some coverage, with Decepticon Demolishor.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Demolishor was released alongside Hot Shot in the first wave of Super-Con Class Armada figures.  The assortment was the two of them and Cyclonus, who I don’t actually own.  In his robot mode, the figure stands about 5 inches tall and he has 10 practical points of articulation.  Before we delve into the meat of the review, I want to address the elephant in the room: I am aware that Demolishor’s lower half is backwards in all of my photos of his robot mode.  I wasn’t aware when taking the photos, or for the nearly two decades I owned him prior to this review, but I’m aware now.  Honestly, he looks wrong to my eye in his correct configuration (I went for forward facing being the side that had the longer “feet” which seems more right to me), and this is genuinely how I’ve viewed him for almost 20 years, so I’ve decided to leave the photos as is.  For moral reasons, really.  Certainly not because I’m lazy and I didn’t want to have to reshoot and edit all of those photos.  Why would you even suggest that?  So, back to my morally correct version of Demolishor.  The robot mode on this guy does actually make for a pretty playable toy, much like Hot Shot.  Sure, he doesn’t have neck movement, but the arms are pretty solid, and they can even swivel forward and back, which not even Hot Shot could do.  Compared to Hot Shot, Demolishor’s kibble his also pretty minor. There are a few spots where extra details are present, but not really that many.  Demolishor also has a Mini-Con partner, Blackout, who, much like Jolt, is about 2 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  Blackout allows Demolishor to unlock the missile launching feature on his shoulder, though this does require flipping his arms around.

Demolishor’s vehicle mode is a big made up sci-fi tank thing.  It’s a pretty easy transformation process, and the end mode is a pretty cool tank.  It’s even got a little seat, where you can place Blackout or one of the other Mini-Cons, in order to man the tank.  Blackout himself has his own tank mode.  It’s much smaller and conservative in its design, but it looks cool too, and can even combine with Demolishor’s vehicle mode for a more complete front to the tank.  In this mode, Blackout can also combine with Demolishor’s robot mode to form an arm cannon of sorts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I brought up in my Hot Shot review, I didn’t get my Armada figures new, but instead got them fairly quickly after their release when my cousin Patrick decided he didn’t want his anymore.  Demolishor was one of the three of them I got, and I got him mistransformed and without any instructions, so I just never knew.  Seriously, it kind of broke my mind you guys.  I found it out, and I had to text Max for emotional support and everything.  How could I be living this kind of lie all this time?  What else am I doing wrong?  Okay, it’s probably not that serious.  Demolishor may not have been my favorite of the three figures I had, but I did still really like him, and like Hot Shot, I still think he really holds up.

#2832: The Hood

THE HOOD

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“A chance encounter with a demon gives petty thief Parker Robbins a mystical cloak and transforms him into a true criminal menace.”

Hey, remember how I don’t like Bendis?  I’m pretty sure it’s come up a few times.  If ever you wonder to yourself why I hate his writing, you know, beyond the whole “he’s not terribly good at it” bit, I’d point to his tendency to take a more minor character, completely re-work them with no regard to prior stories, and then try to shove that regurgitated broken version of the character down everyone’s throats for way longer than anyone’s comfortable with.  One such character was The Hood, created by Brian K Vaughn, Kyle Holtz, and Eric Powell.  He began as a self-contained, very much supernatural type character, but Bendis decided to grab him, change him to make him generally less interesting, and generally more present, shoving him into just about every crossover for like 5 years, and building him up as this ultimate badass that was so ultimate and badass, because he totally said so you guys.  He’s like frickin’ Poochie, but with a hood.  Well, now he’s got a figure.  Yay.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Hood is figure 2 in the Xemnu Series of Marvel Legends.  In a series of otherwise classically-inspired villain choices, he’s kind of out of place, being from the 00s, and also not being all that noteworthy anymore.  He’s certainly the most oddball choice in the line-up, but not in a fun way, like Frog-Man or something.  In a bland way…like The Hood.  Sorry, I don’t have any other examples there.  I try to think of someone else that disappoints me, and I just keep thinking about The Hood.  There is no escaping it.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 30 points of articulation.  From the neck down, he’s the same as last year’s Stan Lee figure, which I guess is okay, since it’s just a normal dude in a wind breaker and slacks.  Not very imposing, but why start now with The Hood, right?  He gets a new head, as well as the eponymous hooded cloak.  The head is…well, it’s very angry, I guess.  He’s very rage-y.  Combined with his rather average attire and build, a number of people have brought up that he looks a bit like a fanboy throwing a temper tantrum.  It’s again not the most imposing thing, but there it is.  Not sure why this was the expression they went for on The Hood, but if nothing else it’s different.  And also very comical.  So, good on them for that, I suppose.  The hooded cloak is a nice enough looking piece on its own, but that ends when you place it on the figure.  Since it’s all one piece, it really just sort of sits there, and it’s actually a bit too long for this figure, so it winds up sitting up too high, which looks really goofy.  Given recent trends toward hooded characters with capes, I’m not sure why they went for this set up over the hood and cape being separate pieces.  Yes, that would more than likely mean permanently affixing the hood to his head, but it’s not like there’s a lot of call for having Robbins without the hood.  It’s really the only thing that makes him remotely distinctive, you know?  And he definitely would have benefited from the two-part construction.  Oh well.  His color scheme is surprisingly bright and colorful for the character.  I’m not entirely sure why, but it doesn’t look terrible, I suppose.  He’s at least a little less drab this way.  Not much in the way of actual paint, but what’s there is reasonable enough.  The Hood is packed with a pair of pistols, plus some somewhat unfortunately shaped effects pieces for them, and the right leg of Xemnu.  Definitely light compared to the prior two figures in the set, especially given how little new tooling there is here.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

My first introduction to The Hood was rather unfortunately during Bendis’s time with him, which was also when Bendis was essentially running the Marvel Universe.  It also coincides with me almost entirely quitting reading Marvel, because it was so abysmal.  So, I don’t have the most pleasant associations with the character.  As such, I wasn’t thrilled by his presence in this line-up, but I was willing to go along.  Hasbro’s given good figures to characters I’ve been iffy on before.  That said, my expectations were low.  And even based on those low expectations, the figure still wound up being quite a letdown.  That’s a shame.  The figure’s not without value, but it’s all chopped up, and not about the actual figure they’re selling here, which is too bad.  I foresee this guy sticking around for a good while, but maybe I’m wrong.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this guy for review.  If you’re looking for Marvel Legends, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2816: Carnor Jax

CARNOR JAX (AKA KIR KANOS)

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

NOTE: This review was written before June 6th.

“Training himself in the ways of the dark side of the Force, Carnor Jax became one of the most formidable members of the Imperial Guard. He betrayed this brotherhood by usurping the Imperial throne.”

Remember back on Sunday, when I was talking about how all the Royal Guards do in the movies is just stand around?  Well, I wasn’t the only one who noticed that, which is good, what with it having been a rather obvious thing that was happening right there on the screen.  In an effort to remedy things somewhat, the Expanded Universe came into play, with Crimson Empire, a six issue comic which explored the background of a few members of the Royal Guard, and then followed them through to just past Palpatine’s demise in Jedi.  Central to the story are Carnor Jax and Kir Kanos, two guards who fall on opposite sides of a rather vicious power struggle.  The two of them have been privy to a few figures over the years, but The Black Series is finally taking a real stab at some comics-based material, and one of them got to be the first one up to bat.  But which one?  Oh, I’ll get to that.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Carnor Jax is one of four figures in a special assortment of comics-inspired Black Series figures, each based off of a different story, and in nice, fancy boxes, patterned on the covers of the books they hail from.  Or, at least, that’s what I’d be saying if there were actually a Carnor Jax Black Series figure.  Trouble is, there’s actually not.  Despite the name on the box and the bio that accompanies it, the figure in today’s review isn’t actually Carnor Jax; it’s Kir Kanos.  Somewhere along the way, Hasbro mixed up the names for the two characters, and without any time to fix it after the reveal, they can pretty much only say “sorry” and move one.  It does make more sense for Kir to be the debut figure, of course, since he’s kind of the story’s main character anyway.  But it’s another amusing mix-up.  The figure stands about 6 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation. Kir is structurally a re-use of the molds from the standard Royal Guard, which I suppose is fitting, since the armor under the robes was patterned on what we saw in Crimson Empire anyway, and therefore matches Kir’s design pretty well.  It’s not a bad sculpt, though it does still have the slightly too long arms.  It’s too bad they didn’t retool him to give him a removable helmet, like the 3 3/4 inch version.  As it stands, there’s very little to actually differentiate him.  He does swap the full cloak of the other one for a more straight-forward cape, which does at least make it easier to see the armor on this one.  The cape’s also got a nice purple lining, which is again a bit more different.  Other than that, the changes are all to do with paint.  Again, not major changes, but the jumpsuit’s black now, some of the reds are shifted around a bit, and the visor’s more of a maroon.  It’s mostly changes that you might not even notice if you didn’t have the two figures side by side.  Kir gets the small pistol from the last release, as well as a new double-bladed axe thing.  It’s a cool design, but he does have a little trouble holding it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve never read Crimson Empire, but I’m familiar with the concepts, and I do generally like the looks of the two main guys.  I missed out on their smaller scale figures, so new ones aren’t a problem for me.  What is a problem, though, is how phoned in this whole thing feels.  Starting with getting the names mixed up, and ending with not actually investing in any new tooling beyond the one weapon, this figure’s a bit of a let-down.  I wanted to like him a lot more, but I struggle to.  Maybe if they do Carnor for real, and possibly throw in an unmasked head for Kir or something, my opinion might change, but this figure’s a bit lackluster, at least as a new offering.  If you never got the Royal Guard, I imagine you might have a differing opinion, since he is, in a vacuum, at least, a decent toy.

Thanks to my sponsors over at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure to review.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2643: Han Solo – Endor

HAN SOLO — ENDOR

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Han Solo volunteered to lead the mission to destroy teh new Death Star’s shield generator. He and his strike team landed on the forest moon of Endor, where they encountered Scout Troopers and Ewoks.”

While Luke and Leia got drastically re-designed looks for Return of the Jedi, Han wound up with an appearance that was generally pretty re-tread-y of his first movie attire.  It doesn’t make for thrillingly different figures, and that’s probably why when we do get Jedi-inspired Hans, they’re almost always from the Endor segment, which does at least throw a trench coat over his main look, just to mix things up a bit, I suppose.  That’s the look that finally got him in on the RotJ bandwagon for The Black Series, and that’s the figure I’m looking at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Han Solo (Endor) is another piece of the second assortment of the relaunched Star Wars: The Black Series.  He joins the similarly themed Luke and Leia figures from the same set, and is figure #5 in the RotJ sub-set.  Like the last two, he was also available in the “Heroes of Endor” boxed set earlier last year.  The figure stands a little over 6 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  Structurally, a lot of this figure is shared with the Bespin Han figure from 2018.  I was overall pretty fond of that figure and his sculpt, so you’d think the re-use wouldn’t bug me…but it kinda does.  Mostly, it’s because they keep some of the stuff I didn’t like about it, and don’t really fix the handful of issues that were present.  The head proper is very similar to the last piece, but to my eyes it looks like the jaw’s a touch more prominent on this one.  I don’t know if that’s intentional or just mold variation, but it doesn’t really help the issues of the prior figure looking kind of narrow-shouldered for Han.  Nor does the new hair sculpt, which is just generally a bit poofier than the prior piece, again making the head look larger compared to the shoulders.  Additionally, the jacket piece has been swapped for a vest, which doesn’t have the same high-sitting collar as the jacket, which makes the neck look longer and thinner, which just makes the head look larger and thereby makes the shoulders look again smaller by comparison.  He also gets a new set of arms, which wind up looking rather on the scrawny side themselves; given how thin they are, but yet how baggy the sleeves are, Han must really not have any muscle mass to speak of under those sleeves.  The whole thing is topped off with the trench coat, which is a cloth piece to match Luke and Leia’s ponchos.  Trouble is, the coat just exacerbates the issues with the body, honestly, because it’s clearly tailored for a figure *slightly* bigger than this one.  This results in it dragging at his feet and hanging down over his hands, making it look not unlike Han is a small child who has stolen his father’s coat.  It’s not a very imposing or impressive look, and ultimately just adds to his gooniness.  It honestly looks a bit better when placed on the Bespin Han, if I’m honest. Of course, even then, the jacket is also missing the pockets on either side, and the pattern generally seems a bit too dark for what Han wears in the movie, so it’s always a bit of a compromise.  Even Han’s paintwork ends up a little rougher than previous entries, with some rather sloppy application on the shirt and belt, even going down to the strap for the holster.  The face also feels like it has a bit too much color going into it, making it look like Han is a bit flushed.  Han’s only accessory is his usual blaster pistol.  It’s the same piece as the Empire version, but this time with the proper color scheme.  It’s too bad they couldn’t also give him a few of the detonators or something, just to make the package a little more exciting.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Han’s Endor look has never been one of my favorites.  Even in the films, after the coolness of the Bespin look, this one seemed like a bit of a step down, at least to me.  It doesn’t help that it always seems to have rotten luck with figures.  This figure is, unfortunately, not an exception, either.  There’s no real smoking gun as to why this figure doesn’t work compared to the other two; it’s just a lot of small stuff that ultimately adds up to a figure that’s just not so great.  It’s a shame, because this one feels like one that could have really shined, but it’s instead the weakest in its respective series.  Oh well.  At least it’s another Han Solo for people to buy.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure for review.  If you’re looking for Black Series, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2513: Shiklah

SHIKLAH

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Shiklah is the shape-shifting superhuman Queen of the Undead and former Mrs. Deadpool.”

Oh goody, today I get to review Shiklah.  She’s my faaaaaaavorite.  Ever since that time that…ummm…she did that very memorable…thing?  And then that other thing happened?  Wasn’t that great?  ….Okay, real talk, I’ve been fooling you this whole time.  Not only do I not remember either of those memorable things I mentioned, but Shiklah is also *not* my favorite.  I know, you’re shocked.  I’m very convincing with this ruse, right?  Okay, let’s just get to the damn review.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Shiklah is figure 3 in the Strong Guy Series of Marvel Legends, and she falls squarely into the Deadpool portion of the assortment.  Woooooooo.  Deadpool-theme.  It’s automatically wacky and zany and off the wall and they don’t even have to try, right?  Well, that seems to have been the prevailing theory on this one.  The figure’s 6 inches tall and she’s got 27 points of articulation.  Shiklah is using the Lady Deadpool body, and it’s not really the greatest.  From the (admittedly brief amount of) research I did, the body seems rather skinny for how she’s usually depicted, so it’s not great standpoint.  Also, her joints are kind of warped, and she’s got the really high-heeled feet, culminating in a figure that can not stand.  At all.  The effort I had to put into getting her to stay standing for the few photos I have here was insane, and I couldn’t even actually keep her up for all of them, which is why she’s just on the ground for one, and totally absent from another.  Really frustrating and poorly made are the best terms to describe her, really.  She gets a new head, which is fine, but seem large on this body, and she’s got floating add-ons for her necklace and belt, which don’t really stay in place, so hey, there’s more frustration to look forward to.  Her cape is a “cloth” piece, in the same vein as Storm’s.  I use the quotations because I struggle to really call this material cloth.  It’s effectively just paper when you get down to it.  It doesn’t hang well, it doesn’t pose well, and it’s not going to hold up well over time in the slightest.  There’s no pose where it doesn’t look dumb, apart I guess from when she’s laying flat on her face.  How fortunate, then, that that’s the only pose she can actually pull off long-term.  Shiklah’s paint work is, at least, fairly inoffensive.  It does its job, and seems to match the comics alright.  It’s quite purple.  There are no glaring issues, which I suppose is a piece of mercy given the rest of the figure.  Shiklah includes two accessories, neither of which is actually hers.  The main one is Jeff, Gwenpool’s pet land shark.  He’s just an unarticulated figurine, but he’s a fun little piece, and certainly an enjoyable addition to the Gwenpool figure.  He’s got a nice little jaunty walking pose that’s fairly versatile, and he interacts well with Gwen.  There’s a bit of obvious flashing and join lines that are a little bit annoying, but they don’t ruin the figure.  The other extra is Strong Guy’s arm, for those that want that (which is, like, 90% of the people buying this thing).

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I do not care about Shiklah.  She’s far outside of the period of time when I still enjoyed Deadpool, and she just doesn’t seem like she’s got much going on.  Honestly, it doesn’t even seem like Hasbro cares about Shiklah, given Jeff was actually shown off before she was, and is in front of her on both the side illustration and the product image on the back of the box.  I was originally planning to be more jokey with this review, and have Jeff as the main figure and Shiklah as the accessory.  Then, in the course of getting my photos, I realized how actually phoned-in and terrible the figure is, and I felt the need to actually talk about her.  I loathe this figure.  Do you know how bad a figure has to be for me to loathe it?  I’ve bough Mattel figures that I didn’t loathe!  But boy do I loathe this one.  I loathe it so much that I’m getting rid of it.  Not selling: getting rid of.  At least Jeff and the Strong Guy arm justify the cost for me, but you can tell that Hasbro just needed a space filler for this set and didn’t feel like they should put out another Gwenpool just yet.

Not so mixed feelings aside, thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure for review.  If you’re looking for Marvel Legends, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.