#2412: Space Marine Drake

SPACE MARINE DRAKE

ALIENS (NECA)

Specialty: Never defeated in hand to hand combat

Home Planet:  Detention Planet 27, Requist System

Background: Born in captivity, he fought his way out to join the Space Marines at 21

Quote:  ‘Stay Frosty, Marines…and LET IT ROCK!'”

Hey, look at that! It’s another new item, even!  Man, this is just going off the chain with the new stuff, isn’t it?  Three new things?  I better slow down!  In the midst of all this pandemic stuff, I kinda missed Alien Day.  I knew it was coming up, but I honestly didn’t have anything on-hand to review, so I just let it slip by without saying anything.  It’s been just over a month, but I’m finally coming back around, with one of the items that NECA dropped right around the celebratory day, Space Marine Drake.  We’re now four Space Marines deep in the Kenner-inspired Aliens sub-line, and much like last year’s addition of Apone, Drake’s another character whose movie incarnation we have yet to see, so this figure pulls a touch of double duty, until such time that we might actually get a proper movie figure.  Does he do alright?  Let’s find out.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

While Apone was part of a larger series, Drake seems to fall back on the pattern Ripley and Vasquez followed, being his own separate release.  However, rather than being an exclusive like those two, Drake is still available through most retailers.  I know, a non-exclusive NECA figure.  What a novel concept.  Drake stands 7 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  At his core, Drake has a great majority of his pieces in common with NECA’s Jungle Patrol Dutch figure from their Predator line.  It’s a solid starting point, and one of the better base bodies.  It also looks fairly close to what Kenner’s version of Drake was wearing, so it’s sensible in that regard.  The one major downside is that it’s articulation scheme wasn’t really designed with holding the smartgun in mind, meaning he has a little difficulty on that front.  Drake gets a new head, hands, and webgear to complete his conversion into his Kenner appearance.  The head’s a nice piece, doing a solid job of adapting Kenner’s radically different Drake likeness into a realistic design.  Unlike Apone, though, I don’t feel there’s any way to pass this off as Mark Rolston.  This is definitely a much more divergent look.  It’s still a solid sculpt, though.  The webgear’s a little loose, and floats a little more at the waist than I like, but it looks pretty decent, and is again a solid recreation of the old design.  It adds up to a pretty cohesive design.  The paintwork is again a nice recreation of the Kenner paint scheme, just with a little bit more real world flair thrown in so that he isn’t wildly out of place with the movie-based figures.  Honestly, he more than the other Kenner figures can slot in without too much trouble, given his far more reserved color scheme.  As a smartgunner, Drake gets a re-use of the same smartgun included with Vasquez, though if my figure is anything to go by, it’d not quite as sturdy, as one of the handles broke off in the midst of taking the photos.  That’s not great.  There are a few attachments to make the gun a little more Kenner accurate.  The bayonet is removable like on the original figure, and can even be stored on his shoulder, which is kinda fun.  They’ve also changed up how the arm of the smartgun connects to the figure, and it’s…well, I think it wasn’t assembled right?  There’s a new piece that connects to his web gear, and there’s the part that connects to the gun, but the ends of the two parts don’t connect, and in fact appear to be the same piece.  They’re both glued in place, and neither can be removed.  The stock photos don’t show both of these end segments in place, so I think maybe the one at the end of the arm wasn’t supposed to be there?  Whatever the case, there’s no real easy fix for this, and it means the arm just kind of hangs there.  It kind of ruins the coolness of the actual articulated arm as it was on the Vasquez figure, and kind of makes posing him a bit of a pain, because it just flops around, and it also means that the broken handle is even more of an issue, because there’s not that extra support.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Drake’s been a notable missing character in the NECA Aliens set-up, and once NECA put out the Kenner Apone, I was expecting to see him show up this way first.  I was excited for him when he was announced, I was excited when he showed up, but ultimately I don’t know if I feel like he really paid off that excitement.  He’s not awful, but the breakage and that issue with the arm on the gun is annoying, and I don’t love the Dutch body as much here as I usually do.  Ultimately, he’s a passable figure, but I think he’s a bit of a step down after last year’s Apone.  I hope NECA can some day get us a movie version.  And I also really hope Kenner Hicks is next year’s figure.

I got this guy from my friends at All Time Toys, who have been helping me keep my sanity with some new toys.   If you’re looking for toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2371: Harley Quinn

HARLEY QUINN

DC MULTIVERSE (MCFARLANE)

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

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

THE FIGURE ITSELF

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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

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

#2349: Green Lantern

GREEN LANTERN

DC ESSENTIALS (DC COLLECTIBLES)

So I totally neglected to review anything green for St Patrick’s Day….for like seven years running.  Look, it’s not one of the one’s I really mention.  In fact, I’m only bringing any of this up because I happen to actually be writing today’s review *on* St Patrick’s Day, and, well, it’s Green Lantern, who’s…well, green.  Also, writing this particular intro spares you all from having to read another “I’m a glutton for punishment because I keep buying toys from lines that have wronged me before” intro.  Aren’t you happy to have missed that?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Green Lantern is figure 19 in the DC Essentials line-up, heading off his assortment, which hit right after the New Year.  Like Nightwing, he was one of the earlier figures to be shown off, but it took a while for him to be slotted into the line-up.  For this assortment, he was paired off with a Sinestro figure, which makes sense.  GL is seen here sporting the same basic look he’s kept since after Green Lantern: Rebirth, though this one does take something of a more modern bend.  The figure stands 7 inches tall and he has 34 points of articulation.  He gets a new head, hands, and shins, and the rest is…well, the rest is the basic Essentials body, for better or for worse.  Okay, it’s kinda for worse, if I’m honest…but I’ll get to that.  The new parts aren’t bad on their own.  In particular, the head is quite a nice piece, and I like it more than DC Collectibles’ last attempt at Hal.  I like that this one’s got some personality to it.  The problem I have with it is how poorly it fits the body it’s sitting on.  It’s a little too small, and it definitely sits too high on the neck.  It shouldn’t be this hard, guys; you’ve had 18 previous figures to get this scaling of the parts down.  At least the hands are a nice combo, though as with all of these figures, I wish he had a few more to choose from.  The shins just give his boots actual raised edges, which, hey, at least they didn’t screw up something this simple.  GL’s paintwork is…fine.  Like, it does what it’s supposed to, but it also raises some pre-existing issues with the sculpt.  The way the split works on the forearms for the gloves just really exaggerates how bad those overly-long arms look.  Seriously, how have they not fixed those?  How do you leave something that glaring uncorrected on every figure in the line?  You be DCC, I guess.  Hal includes no accessories because, I mean, there’s no easy accessories you can give to Green Lantern, right?  What could you possibly include with a Green Lantern figure?  Do any items that might be “essential” for a Green LANTERN figure come to mind?  No?  Well, not for DCC, anyway.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ll admit, this was moment of weakness on my part.  I’ve gotten prior Essentials figures, and I know what’s up there.  But I was at my comic store, and there was this new Green Lantern figure that I didn’t have, and….well, I kinda caved.  I then got home, opened him up and kinda regretted it a bit.  It’s really those damned arms.  I’ve hated them since the start, and they just feel like they’re even worse here.  It’s not helping that the last Essentials figure I picked up actually fixed the issue, making its return even more frustrating because they CLEARLY KNOW IT’S A PROBLEM!  Ultimately, the figure’s not the worst thing ever.  Honestly there’s a lot of him that’s genuinely good, but it’s all hidden behind the albatross that’s hung around the line’s neck since the very beginning.

#2300: Luke Skywalkwer – Yavin Ceremony

LUKE SKWALKER — YAVIN CEREMONY

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

On Yavin 4, the Rebels hold a ceremony to award the heroes who bravely fought to destroy the Death Star.  Luke Skywalker receives his medal for bravery from Princess Leia.”

Do you ever have that moment where you have something really monumental and important in front of you, and you think to yourself really hard about how this is the absolute worst time to screw up, and you focus so hard on that only to inadvertently screw up terribly on something that you’ve managed to do correctly hundreds of times previously, to the point where it should be second nature to you?  Because we know Hasbro had that moment.  And today we’re looking at that moment.  Behold, Luke Skywalkwer—crap, I mean Skwalker!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Luke Skywalkwer – Yavin Ceremony is figure 100 in the Black Series line-up.  Of course, thanks to re-numberings and exclusives, there are far more than 100 figures in the line, but getting to the number is a momentous occasion nevertheless.  And before we get any further, yes, you read all those instances of Luke’s surname above correctly; on the packaging for the momentous number 100 figure, Hasbro somehow managed to misspell poor Luke’s last name, the name of a whole saga, three times in two different ways.  As someone who’s worked in publication design, my heart goes out to the poor designer who let that slip through.  They’re probably never going to live it down.  The truth is, if this had been any other numbered release, I don’t know that it would have caught quite as much flack, but unfortunately it’s the big 100, the one that people who very well may have never bought another Black Series will hold onto, and the one that people are far more likely to keep in package.  Heck, I’m a loose collector, and even I’m hanging onto the box for this one.  Admittedly, in my case it’s purely for the typos, but the point still stands.  This one’s probably going to be well-remembered.  Well, enough about the box, let’s talk about the actual Luke Skwalker figure inside!  As the properly written section of his name denotes, he’s wearing his slightly more uniform-esque get-up from the ceremony on Yavin IV that ends the first film.  Though only seen in one scene in the main films, the look served as Luke’s primary attire for his portion of the Holiday Special (I know) and recently saw a resurgence when it was used prominently in Marvel’s Star Wars comics.  This figure was actually released a little earlier last year as a con-exclusive with several additional accessories and a Marvel-inspired box.  As has become the trend with such exclusives and their inevitable re-releases, the core figures in the two packages are essentially identical.  The figure stands just under 6 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  Apart from being shared with the exclusive release, this Luke has a unique sculpt.  It’s our first truly new OT Luke since figure 21, and the line’s come a long way since then.  The result is definitely the most technically impressive Luke we’ve gotten in The Black Series.  The articulation is definitely one area of notable improvement for the most part, although the hip joints on this guy have a weird set up which places a definite learning curve on using them.  I’m not much of a fan.  Like the Jabba’s Palace figure, this Luke uses the new style of head construction with separate pieces for the hair and face, which makes for slightly more depth in the sculpt.  On my figure the hair and head don’t line up 100% perfectly, but it’s close enough to work.  It’s honestly Hasbro’s best Hamill, displacing the Jabba’s Palace figure’s very brief moment with that title.  The body construction is in a lot of ways very similar to Bespin Han, which is fine by me, because that was a good lay out for a figure, and the designs of the two costumes are also pretty similar.  His paintwork is fairly standard for the line at this point.  The base color is all pretty clean, and he’s got the printed face which looks plenty realistic.  The con-exclusive release had a lot of extras, where as this one is comparatively pretty light.  Both figures include the blaster, and this figure also includes the medal, making him specific to the ceremony.  That’s all he gets, which leaves the rather glaring omission of a lightsaber.  He doesn’t have it during the scene in the movie, so I guess there’s that reasoning, but that didn’t stop them from including both a saber and a helmet with the pilot Luke.  It’s also not a new piece, so it feels like it should have been an easy inclusion.  I’ve got a few of my own, so I can loan him one, but it’s a little annoying.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As a kid, Cermony Luke wound up as my default Luke for a good while, and as such I’ve always had something of a soft spot for this particular look.  I like that the comics brought the design back, and I was very happy to see this figure unveiled.  He’s a proper choice for the big 100 number, and even with the goofiness surrounding the packaging and its many errors, this is a really nifty figure, and probably the best Black Series Luke.

I picked up this guy from my friends All Time Toys, and he’s still available here.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2290: Captain America

CAPTAIN AMERICA

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“The all-American hero Captain America charges into battle for justice.”

Back in 2012, Marvel Legends was kind of in hibernation, meaning the main line of Avengers figures were in the smaller 3 3/4-inch scale.  Walmart, however, carried an exclusive line of Legends-styled figures for the movie, to at least give us (most) of the main cast.  These figures were still a little rarer than the usual release, however, and over the course of the last eight years, Hasbro have done what they can to get some of those figures (or at least those looks) back to market.  A lengthy flashback sequence (plus an involved fight scene) in Endgame proved a fairly good excuse to put back out the first movie’s take on Cap.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Captain America (affectionately referred to as “America’s Ass” Cap by the fanbase, due to the movie’s commentary on the costume’s…benefits to Cap’s physique) is part of the third Endgame-themed series of Marvel Legends.  While the assortment was officially a fall 2019 release, there was a definite split in distribution, which caused a lot of the figures to be pretty scarce until around the first week of 2020.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  As far as the sculpt is concerned, this figure’s completely re-use, though not all from the same source.  The majority of the figure is the old Walmart release, with the head of the Quantum Suit Cap (which I had pegged for re-use when it debuted).  The head was the most inaccurate part of the original figure, so the replacement is certainly an improvement.  Unfortunately, while the head may work in modern times, the body, though good in 2012, is really out of date eight years later.  The articulation on the hips his definitely the weakest bit, but the lack of proper wrists also holds him back, as does his limited range of the shoulders.  The head also sits a little high on the neck, and takes some pretty careful posing to not look super goony.  Also, despite the whole “America’s Ass” commentary from the movie, the old sculpt definitely doesn’t do that aspect of the costume any favors.  Obviously, Hasbro was looking for a figure to save some tooling costs on, but ultimately, this is a figure that should have warranted an all-new body sculpt; the old one just doesn’t quite pass muster anymore.  The paintwork on this figure changes things up a bit from the original release; the brighter colors of the Walmart figure have been toned down a fair bit, resulting in a more film-accurate color scheme.  Additionally, he’s got the face printing on the head, making the figure look a little more lifelike.  Cap gets the upgraded shield from the 10th Anniversary line in place of the old one, as well as one of the arms for the Thor Build-A-Figure.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This Cap figure fills me with mixed emotions…which seems to have been a running theme for Cap Legends in 2019, honestly.  I never hated the 2012 costume the way others did, so I’m not put off by the prospect of an update, especially given it’s prominence in Endgame.  The 2012 figure certainly wasn’t bad for his time, and I reviewed him quite favorably when I looked at him back in 2018. Unfortunately, the rehash feels kind of hollow, especially when compared to some of the other work Hasbro put out last year, and it’s also hard not to view this figure as taking the regular retail slot from the standard Endgame Cap, who would have made far more sense in one of the standard assortments, and who still proves particularly hard to acquire for a lot of fans.  Obviously, there are things behind the scenes at Hasbro that I’m not privy to, so I can’t know exactly why they chose to do things this way, but it doesn’t stop this Cap figure from feeling somewhat lackluster, and not quite what I wanted.

Cap was purchased from my friends at All Time Toys, and he’s currently in-stock at their store, here. And, if you’re looking for other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2250: Supreme Leader Kylo Ren

SUPREME LEADER KYLO REN

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

As Supreme Leader of the First Order, Kylo Ren wields more power than ever before.  Nevertheless, Ren continues to search for the secrets of the Force from the depths of the Dark Side.”

So, uhh, hey, did you hear there’s a new Star Wars coming out?  It’s probably not a big deal or anything, just the end of the latest trilogy, and allegedly the main saga.  Also, there’s some toys, so I guess I might review a few of those.  Central to this new trilogy is Kylo Ren, tortured villain and wannabe Vader.  Though he flirted with a redemption in the last film, he ultimately rejected it, netting himself a promotion to Supreme Leader of the First Order in the process.  And, as a central character, that’s also netted him a brand new Black Series, complete with fancy “Supreme Leader” moniker.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Supreme Leader Kylo Ren is figure 90 (exactly twice the number that the TLJ version was) in the Black Series line up.  Numerically, he’s the first of the eight figures that were released for Triple Force Friday, and he’s one of the four Rise of Skywalker branded figures at launch.  Kylo is no stranger to the Black Series, with this being his seventh figure in the line.  He’s also doesn’t possess the most varied appearance.  All seven of those figures have more or less followed the same basic look.  The primary change-up tends to be whether he has his helmet or not.  Though he destroyed it at the beginning of Last Jedi, it appears the Kylo has restored it for Rise, and so he’s sporting it once more on this figure.  Said figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  I’ve reviewed the majority of this figure before, since he is from the neck down the same figure as the Kylo from Last Jedi.  I liked the sculpt the first time around, but this time…I don’t know, it just doesn’t resonate quite as well with me this time.  It’s got to be due to the new parts, I suppose.  Kylo gets a new head and cape, and I can’t say I’m much of a fan of either.  The new head gives us Kylo’s repaired helmet, which is an interesting visual, and one that I liked a fair bit on the Galaxy of Adventures Kylo figure.  Here, it’s certainly more detailed, but it also seems far too large for the body, or at the very least the neck.  It also just doesn’t look natural in any position, and sits low enough to make actually posing quite a tricky task.  The new cape piece is decent in concept, but lousy in application.  The actual cape bit’s alright for the most part, but does seem to have more trouble staying in place than the one from the TLJ release.  The real trouble comes from the hood, or rather hoods.  Since the cape is plastic, the figure has two hood pieces, up and down.  Down is certainly the better implemented of the two, since there’s less room for error, but it has some difficulty staying clipped in place on my figure.  The up hood is just a mess.  It doesn’t attach securely at all, and worst of all he’s got hover-hood, with a noticeable clearance between his head and the hood no matter how you situate him.  I ends up making the pulled up hood effectively useless, since there’s no way I’m going to display it with that.  It’s a shame, because that’s pretty much the only element that really distinguishes him from prior figures.  Kylo’s paintwork is okay, nothing spectacular.  It hits all the right notes and gets the job done.  In terms of extras, Kylo has his lightsaber in both ignited and unignited forms, just like virtually every other Black Series Kylo.  What he *doesn’t* include is an unmasked head, which at this point feels downright criminal, especially given how much of this figure is re-use.  They could have just thrown in a well-painted TLJ head at the very least, since that one hasn’t yet received the face-print tech.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I opted to just pick up a full case of the Force Friday Black Series figures for the sake of having them all.  The Mandalorian and the Jawa made me feel pretty good about things, but Kylo really tested my resolve.  I feel I may have done myself a disservice by picking up the Galaxy of Adventures version first, because that one was a pleasant surprise, while this one was a letdown the whole way through.  How much of a let down?  Well, I opened the figure, immediately placed him back in his box, opened him again for the photos, and they put him back away again.  I pretty much never do that, but with him I just felt no need to mess with him outside of the needs of this review.  I am not a fan of this figure.  If you want a good Kylo, buy the GoA version.  It’s half the price, better looking, and a far more playable figure.

#2191: Cantina Showdown

OBI-WAN KENOBI, DR. EVAZAN, & PONDA BABA

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“On the run from Imperial stormtroopers, Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker enter the seedy Mos Eisley Cantina in hopes of finding swift passage to the planet Alderaan. Inside, among the gallery of criminals are the murderous Dr. Evazan and the brutal Ponda Baba–both of whom are thirsty for a fight with Skywalker. Reaching for their blasters, the villains are suddenly cut off from Luke by the pulsating blaze of Obi-Wan’s lightsaber! Will Obi-Wan triumph and save the Rebellion’s only hope?”

So, believe it or not, the original purpose of the Cinema Scenes sub-line of Power of the Force II was to, you know, recreate scenes directly from the movies.  By the end of the line, it had transitioned into “let’s throw three figures into a set”, but there was far more focus with the early stuff, where it was a merging of previously released figures with new in order to create a specific scene.  This was the case for today’s set, the “Cantina Showdown”, which showcased Obi-Wan in his brief face-off with Mos Eisley Cantina denizens Dr. Evazan and Ponda Baba.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Cantina Showdown was one of the four sets released in 1997, the first year of Cinema Scenes.  This set was a Walmart-exclusive upon release, and would prove to be a less than stellar performer at retailer, for a few likely reasons I’ll touch on as I review the figures proper.

OBI-WAN KENOBI

Patterned on his single-carded release from ’95, this figure aimed to inject a little more dynamism into the previous figure.  Like that one, he stands roughly 3 3/4 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  It feels sort of odd and recursive for a figure to add more pre-posing to one of the ’95 releases, but this was far from the only time the line did it, so I guess it was a bit of a thing.  To be fair, Obi-Wan was one of the least stylized of the earliest figures, so I suppose Kenner just wanted him to get in on the ’90s pre-posed, super-roided fun.  So, here he is, I guess?  Despite looking similar, the only parts actually shared with the single are the head and torso, with everything else, including the robe, being retooled for his sick action pose.  I’m…I’m not entirely what the pose is going for, if I’m honest.  It’s not like Alec Guinness was breaking out the kung-fu moves when he whips out the saber at the bar, and even with the dramatically bent elbows, he still doesn’t have the ability to hold his saber two-handed, making the non-holding hand look even more awkward than the single-release, if I’m honest.  The paint on this figure is pretty much the same as the standard, and he’s also got his lightsaber, albeit the shortened version.   Shrinkage!

PONDA BABA

Like Obi-Wan, Ponda Baba also had a single carded release, which this one draws much of its stylistic inspiration from.  Unlike Obi-Wan, Ponda’s prior figure hit shelves just months before this one, making him feel a little bit more redundant.  Again, it’s the pose that really differentiates them, and again, the only real overlap is the head and torso.  Even the jacket gets re-sculpted in the name of dynamics.  It’s admittedly not a bad sculpt; all of the creatures stood out as the best of the earlier figures in this line.  That said, this version, due to the preposing, has a lot of troubles staying standing, which can get more than a little bit annoying.  For me, the most criminal piece of this release is that he doesn’t take advantage of the newly-sculpted parts to add the one important feature that the sing-card lacked: a removable arm!  It’s kind of key to the scene, so for it to be left out of this supposedly scene-specific release is just odd.  Also, this figure cuts the original’s accessory count from two to one, only including the smaller blaster pistol.

DR. EVAZAN

As the set’s one truly unique piece, Dr. Evazan seems like the natural fit for the set’s star, doesn’t he?  I mean, the character had never gotten a toy release before, so this one had to be a big deal, right?  Well, in a word, no.  The thing about Evazan is that he’s got the far less distinctive of the two creature looks here, which is why Ponda was always first for toys.  The thing about this particular Evazan figure is that it doesn’t even really capture that already less distinctive look, making him look even more average than he does in the film.  Removed from the other two figures in this set, it’s a little hard to place him, and that’s probably why his value also drops pretty drastically when it’s just him.  Kenner was right to think this guy couldn’t move as a single-carded figure, but that’s at least in part because he’s the worst of three figures included, made worse by there not being another option to get him.  I will say, they did at least try on the paint, giving him some more subdued work than we saw a lot of his contemporaries, especially on his vest.  He also included a unique blaster pistol, which I suppose would be cool if I had it, but I don’t.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When you go completist on a line, there are the items that really test you.  This is one of those for me with Power of the Force II.  I mostly have them because All Time Toys had all three of them loose, with only the one missing piece between them, and they were super cheap, and I was already buying a bunch of other PotF figures.  It’s not hard to pin-point why this set performed so poorly.  Obi-Wan and Ponda Baba had a lot of work to do to prove their worth, and they don’t succeed.  Evazan didn’t, and yet somehow he also doesn’t succeed.  How does one manage that?

#2163: Batcave (w/ Batman)

BATCAVE (w/ BATMAN)

BATMAN ’66 (MATTEL)

So, it’s apparently Batman Day, a fact I know because pretty much everyone keeps saying “hey did you know it’s Batman Day?”  I didn’t realize fictional characters were getting days now, but if anyone’s gonna get one, I guess it makes sense for it to be Batman.  He’s does have like one of everything; it’s only sensible he’d eventually have a day as well.  In the spirit of the day, I figured I’d take a look at one of the very many Batman items I have in my collection, courtesy of Mattel’s ill-fated run with the Batman ’66 license.  Let’s have a look at Batman and Mattel’s go at the Batcave!

THE SET ITSELF

The “To The Batcave” set was one of the last two items to come out of Mattel’s Batman ’66 line, released (initially, at least) as a Toys R Us-exclusive item, alongside the Triumphant Trio three-pack, in the late summer of 2015.  While billed as a playset, what it more works out to is a figure with a larger than average selection of accessories, because that’s just how Mattel do, I suppose.  The figure included here is a standard Batman, who would receive five separate releases by the time the line was done.  He stands right at 6 inches tall (quite under-scaling him when compared to pretty much any other 1:12 lines, since they tend to punch up a bit on size) and he has 23 points of articulation. Despite how many times it would end up re-issued, the Batman sculpt was probably the weakest of the line’s selection of very weak sculpts.  Firstly, let’s discuss the articulation.  DC Universe Classics was never on par with Legends, but it at least offered a workable selection of joints; not so with this line.  In addition to the general lack of joints, the joints included aren’t particularly useful.  The ab-crunch, the knees, and the elbows in particular have extremely reduced range, making even rather basic poses very difficult.  The quality of the sculpt proper’s not great either. While Adam West may not have been a body builder or anything during his time under the cowl, the extraordinarily skinny build on this figure goes way too far, building a figure that really doesn’t look like a real person at all.  Coupled with the already small scale on the figures, it makes Batman downright silly looking when compared to his contemporaries from lines running at the same time.  Additionally, despite being based on a real person, and not a comic book creation, this figure’s level of detailing marked a major step down when compared to prior Mattel output, as the majority of the costume is devoid of any sculpted textures.  About the best that can be said of the sculpt is that the masked head doesn’t have a terrible likeness.  So, that’s the old figure that they threw into the box to take up space.  What about all the new stuff they added that was supposed to actually sell this thing?  Well, the box proudly proclaims that the set includes 15 accessories…which is true, albeit not quite as impressive as the box might lead you to believe.  To go on the figure proper, we get an unmasked Bruce Wayne head.  Kind of an interesting choice, since I don’t believe we actually ever saw Bruce unmasked in the costume on the show.  However, it’s got a decent likeness of West, and it actually looks a little better on the body than the standard head.  The largest piece is definitely the Batcomputer, which is a decent set piece, even if it is pretty simplistic.  At least it’s got its proper label, showcasing 60s Batman’s love of labels.  The piece is hollow, and the back pops off to reveal the “Secret Equipment Storage,” which is where you can stow all of the other parts when you aren’t using them.  The back that pops off is designed to look like the inside of stately Wayne manor, allowing for two different display options, and two different sets of accessories to go along with them.  On the cave side, we get three batarangs (all identical), four cans of Batman Spray Repellent (again all identical), the Batzooka, Bat megaphone, and Bat communicator.  The duplication of the batarangs and repellent is kind of odd, since obviously he can’t use them all at once, nor is there really anywhere to display the extras, making it really seem like Mattel included as many as they did to bump that accessory count up.  Additionally, there’s the ongoing issue with Batman generally just being unable to really hold any of the included extras. The Batzooka in particular is notable, as its size and weight mean that the figure will fall over if its held in any fashion other than at his side.  On the Wayne Manor side, we get the Shakespeare bust with the hidden button for cave access and the red Bat-phone.  The bust is definitely my favorite extra included here, because the sculpt’s really clean, and the hinge works quite nicely.  To complete the two different set-ups, there’s a card with a Batcave illustration on one side and Wayne manor on the other, as well as a stand to hold the card.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

By the time this set hit, my enthusiasm for the line was completely dead.  I picked up everything from the initial run, but only ended up picking up the three-pack when I was disappointed at not getting anything Star Wars-y during the first Force Friday event.  This set, as interesting a concept as it may be, just didn’t excite me enough to drop $35 on it.  However, a friend of mine had gotten one a while ago, and decided they no longer wanted it, and thus it made its way into my collection.  As with so much Mattel did, it fills me with mixed emotions.  There are some cool things in here, and in general it’s a fun concept, but the core Batman’s kind of rotten, and this being the fifth time we got him really hinders the set.  I think if it had been in that first wave of product, rather than pushed all the way to the end of the line, it might have been a bigger hit, but quite frankly there’s a lot of things that could have been done differently to make this line worth while.

#2151: Cannonball

CANNONBALL

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

Samuel Guthrie creates a powerful forcefield to fly at superhuman speeds as a leader of the New Mutants known as Cannonball.”

Cannonball is actually a pretty solid success story for a “late run” X-character.  Introduced in the pages of New Mutants as one of the team’s founding members, he was one of the few to stick with the team for its original run and well into its rebranding as X-Force.  He was eventually promoted into the main X-Men team for a bit, and has even had a go at being an Avenger for a span of time.  How about that?  Though not the most prevalent character in action figure form, he tends to get at least one figure for every stylistic iteration of Marvel toys, and he’s found himself included in the latest round of X-themed Marvel Legends.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Cannonball is figure 2 in the Wendigo Series of Marvel Legends.  He fits well with the running undercurrent of an X-Force theme in this particular assortment, especially since he’s in his ’90s X-Force costume.  Said ’90s costume is probably the design most evocative of the character, so it’s a good choice.  It’s also the same design that inspired his last Legends figure, some 12 years ago, so it’s got that whole direct replacement thing going for it.  The figure stands 7 inches tall and he has 18 points of articulation.  While not super low, that articulation count is a lot lower than most Legends figures.  And why might that be?  Well, as you may have noticed from the photos, Sam doesn’t actually have a lower half.  In the comics, Sam’s ability is usually showcased by sort of a rocket boost effect that consumes his lower half.  It’s a dynamic way of illustrating the level of force behind his abilities.  It’s also something that his figures beyond his Minimates have never really tackled, instead giving us Sam in his powered down state.  This figure instead goes for a fully-powered look.  I’m of mixed feelings on this choice.  While I like to have effects pieces, and the rocket boost is certainly a signature appearance for Cannonball, the choice to release him with only the blast effect and no actual legs severely limits what can be done with this figure.  Additionally, the blast effect is pointed straight up, unlike the Minimates piece, which was angled, thereby making it look like he was flying towards something.  This just makes it look like Sam is angrily propelling himself straight upward, which doesn’t really work all that well, dynamically.  His upper half is fairly decent, I suppose.  He uses the arms from Shatterstar, in conjunction with a new head, torso, and jacket.  The teeth-gritting expression is appropriately Liefeldian, and the new parts create a solid recreation of his costume from the comics.  The upper torso is also removable from the blast effect, if you want to try and give him a set of legs that they didn’t include.  The paintwork on the figure is decent enough; it’s pretty much what we’ve come to expect from the line.  The linework is clean and all of the important elements are there.  The variation from red to yellow on the blast is pretty cool too.  Cannonball has no accessories of his own (which really just further emphasizes that whole lack of legs issue), but does include a leg of the Build-A-Figure Wendigo (again emphasizing his own missing legs).

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’m actually still quite fond of the first Legends Cannonball, so this one was already going to have a rough time of clearing that bar, but the confirmation that he wasn’t going to include legs just further put me off.  I’m still all-in on Legends so I was planning to buy him anyway, but I was sure hoping to be surprised by the figure in-hand.  The figure still fills me with mixed emotions.  The upper half is decent, and I don’t hate that he has the effect piece, but it’s really, really limiting, and questionably implemented.  There were definitely better ways of handling this.

Cannonball was purchased from my sponsors over at All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2082: Spider-Man

SPIDER-MAN

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

What’s a Spider-Man movie without at least one variant on the main character’s costume?  Well, Spider-Man 2, I guess.  That doesn’t really sell my point very well, though does it?  Let me come in again.  What’s an MCU film without at least one variant on the main character’s costume?  Poor marketing synergy, that’s what.  For Homecoming, we got both Peter’s Stark-designed suit and his personal prototype suit, both of which got their appropriate due in the film proper.  For the follow-up, we get another two (at least, though there may be more), with an update on his main design, and a more stealthy option, presumably given to him by his new friends at SHIELD.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

This version of Spider-Man (which gets no notation of his varation in his name proper; he’s just “Spider-Man”) is figure 2 in the Molten Man Series of Marvel Legends.  He’s the third, and final, movie-based single release in this assortment.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  Peter’s had a number of stealth suits in the comics, but this one seems to actually take a lot of influence from the Spider-Man Noir design (the comics one, that is, which is a little different from the one seen last year in Into the Spider-Verse), which kind of works if this is in fact a SHIELD design, and is therefore from an entirely different source than his usual costume.  It’s not a bad look all things considered.  That being said, it doesn’t seem to have made the transition to figure all that well.  It’s not terrible, but I don’t think it’s nearly as strong as the basic Spidey. The biggest issue, no doubt, is the neck, which is way too long.  Clearly, this is a production error of some sort, but it’s a pretty bad one, and throws the whole figure sort of into disarray.  Beyond that, the rest of the sculpt is a little better, but really feels devoid of detail when compared to the other figure.  There’s a lot of smooth surface, and a lot of very flat areas, making him look particularly toy-etic.  It’s possible this costume is just less texture heavy than the standard costume, but it seems kind of lackluster here.  There’s not a ton going on with the paint work on this figure; mostly, he’s just molded in black plastic.  There’s some slight variance in finish, which breaks up the monotony a bit, plus the silver for the eyes and peach-tone for the hands.  It’s accurate, so I can’t fault them there.  He’s packed with two sets of hands (fists and thwipping) and an extra head with the goggles flipped up.  The second head seems to sit a little better on the neck, but it’s still a bit high for my taste.  Spidey is also packed with the left arm of the BaF Molten Man.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This guy is kind of the reverse of the previous Spidey.  I was kind looking forward to him, and hoping he’d be new and different.  In hand, I was rather let down.  The neck issue is the biggest thing for me, because it’s hard to overlook it, even with posing.  Were that not present, I think I’d like him a lot more.  Ultimately, he’s probably not going to be a huge part of the film, so it’s not the end of the world, but that doesn’t make the figure magically better.

I got this figure from All Time Toys, and he can still be purchased here.  If you’re looking for other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.