#1540: GCPD Rogues Gallery

RENEE MONTOYA, BANE, KILLER CROC, MR. FREEZE, & POISON IVY

BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES (DC COLLECTIBLES)

For my ninth and final 2017 post-Christmas review, I’m returning to a line that fills me with lots of mixed emotions: DC Collectibles’ Batman: Animated.  I was very supportive of the line early on, an really liked the first couple of series, despite some of the minor flaws.  However, as the line has progressed, I’ve found a lot of the later offerings to be a bit lackluster. The thing that broke me from the line was actually the set I’m looking at today.  As I’ve noted a few times, “Heart of Ice” is hands down my favorite episode of Batman: The Animated Series, and is possibly just one of my favorite cartoons ever.  Obviously, I was eager to get a proper Animated Series Mr. Freeze.  The first figure was the New Adventures design, which is fine, but not really what I wanted.  So, what does DCC do when it finally comes time to release the classic Freeze, one of the most demanded figures in the line?  Pack him in with four other figures in an expensive boxed item.  ….Yay?

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

This five pack was released about mid-year last year, under the title “GCPD Rogues Gallery.”  All five figures in this set are based on their Animated Series designs, with the four titular Rogues being the second figure for each, following their TNBA design-sporting single-releases.

RENEE MONTOYA

Fulfilling the “GCPD” segment of this set is Officer Renee Montoya.  Montoya is noteworthy for being the second of B:TAS’s successful original creations that made her way back into the comics after the fact (following the immensely successful Harley Quinn, of course).  Montoya is the one wholly unique figure in this set.  She’s wearing her beat cop uniform, since she didn’t make it to detective until TNBA.  The figure stands about 6 1/4 inches tall and she has 22 points of articulation.  Her articulation works better than some of the Batman: Animated figures I’ve looked at, which certainly makes me feel a bit better.  Her sculpt is definitely one of the strongest in the set, recreating her animated design rather nicely. She avoids being too devoid of detail, another issue that plagued some of the line’s other figures.  Similarly, her paint is also very strong.  The application is nice and clean, and the colors all match up with her on-screen appearance.  Montoya is packed with an extra head, a handgun, a shotgun, four pairs of hands, and a display stand.  The head offers Montoya without her hat, which I guess is nice, in theory, at least.  In practice, it’s just very annoying.  Why?  Because, thanks to the design of the double barbel DCC’s used for her neck peg, if you’re not careful when swapping out the heads (a very difficult task, I might add), then the peg will pop out of the neck, rather than the head.  I ended up having to spend about 20 minutes removing the barbel from the second Montoya head to put the one with the hat back on, and after all that, the peg is mangled to the point that I doubt I’ll be able to successfully swap it again.  Okay, but what about the guns?  Well, they look nice, but I almost broke both of them taking them out of the package.  Also, despite the plethora of hands included, there’s not really a combo that can properly hold the shotgun.

BANE

The New Adventures Bane was one of my favorite figures from the single-packed line, so this figure has a lot to live up to.  I’m gonna let you all down easy here: he doesn’t.  He’s not helped by the design, to be fair.  The B:TAS Bane design is certainly one of the weakest from the original run of the show (part of why he got such a drastic redesign later).  He’s not particularly intimidating or anything.  He’s just looks like a slightly paunchy luchador.  Not the greatest design for a villain.  The figure stands 7 inches tall and he has 24 points of articulation.  Okay, let’s get this out of the way: Bane can’t stand.  Like, at all.  Just getting the photos for this review was one of the most infuriating experiences I’ve gone through.  The actual sculpt is decent, I suppose.  It replicates the show design well-enough, but I find he lacks the playability seen on the last Bane figure.  His paintwork is decent from a palette stand-point; he’s bright and colorful.  The application’s a bit iffy, and he’s got several spots of random shininess on an otherwise matte finished figure.  It’s rather distracting and makes for a fairly sloppy looking figure.  Bane includes four sets of hands, a dumbell, and a display stand.  The dumbell’s a nice extra, but, as with Montoya, there’s not actually a hand that can properly hold it.  Doesn’t that seem like the sort of thing that you would want to double check before sending this figure out?

KILLER CROC

I never actually got the TNBA Croc.  I kept meaning to, but I never did.  It’s okay.  I’ve never been a huge Croc fan anyway, so I probably didn’t need two of him.  Truth be told, Croc’s another character who I feel had a stronger design initially, so this figure’s good for that.  He stands just a little shorter than Bane, and he has 23 points of articulation.  He has the mid-torso movement like we saw on the first Bane figure, which is certainly a plus.  It helps to make him one of the most easily posed figures in the set.  It also allows for a lot more fine tuning on his weight distribution, helping him stay standing a bit better.  The sculpt is another strong offering, and I’d certainly place him on par with Montoya in that respect.  He’s very true to the show’s design, and captures Croc’s character.  I look at this guy and can hear him saying “I hit him with a rock!”  The detail work is all very sharp and crisply defined, not soft like some of the others in the line.  The paint on Croc isn’t the most exciting thing, but it matches the show.  It’s all cleanly applied, and it looks pretty decent for what it is.  Croc is packed with three sets of hands and a display stand.  No rock to hit Batman with?  I guess I can supply my own.

MR. FREEZE

Four figures in and I’m finally getting to the one that actually matters!  Yeeeeeeeaaaaahhhhh! …Sorry, that’s not really appropriate for Mr. Freeze, is it?  He’d go for a more reserved, served cold sort of thing.  Ah, yes.  A Mr. Freeze figure.  Of course.  Would that it could warm his frozen heart.  But alas, there is no hope for him.  But hey, cool figure, right?  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 22 points of articulation.  Freeze has nay favorite sculpt of all the figures included here.  He’s just really got the show design down pat.  The best piece by far is the head, which just looks absolutely spot-on from every angle.  The rest of the sculpt is a solid recreation of his suit design from the show, and it’s really only marred by one thing: the head dome.  On its own, it’s fine, but it doesn’t fit the body quite right, so it never sits flush the way it should and it pops out a lot.  It’s not awful, but it’s a minor annoyance, and there was no such issue on the last Mr. Freeze figure.  If there’s a major downfall to this figure, it’s the paintwork.  It’s not the worst I’ve seen in this line, but it’s definitely sloppy, especially on the blue parts of his suit.  How they got the others in this set so clean and not Victor is honestly a bit baffling to me.  Freeze is packed with his freeze gun, five sets of hands, a snow globe, and a display stand.  Ready for the common theme of this review?  Despite the large selection of hands, he can’t really hold his gun very well, and he can’t actually hold the snow globe as well.  I appreciate the extras being included, but I wish they could be more adequately used.

POISON IVY

Last up, it’s Poison Ivy, the other hotly demanded figure in this set.  I picked up the first Ivy figure, and I liked her overall, but she was certainly a flawed offering.  I was sort of hoping that this one would fix some of those.  It does, but there are some other ones that have cropped up to replace them.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and she has 23 points of articulation.  Her sculpt is…okay? It has its ups and downs.  It’s definitely not anywhere near as accurate as the other figures in this set, which is a shame, really.  She’s far more on par with the last Ivy, in that she looks okay from certain angles, but not so great from others.  I do like that she doesn’t have the ugly seam running down the side of her hair this time.  Unfortunately, she’s now got a rather ugly bend in her right leg, as well as a severely misshapen wrist bolt.  It kind of ruins the aesthetics.  The paint on Ivy is okay, but rather on the sloppy side of things.  It’s especially bad on her legs, where there’s a few spots of errant paint.  Ivy is packed wth five sets of hands,  the Wild Thorny Rose seen in “Pretty Poison,” and a display stand.  At least she has hands that can actually hold the rose.  I guess that’s a nice change.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I discussed in the intro, I was less than enthused by DCC’s decision to lump all of these figures into one big set, so I didn’t grab this when it was new.  My parents were nice enough to get this for me as my main gift this Christmas.  This set frustrates me because I really wanted to like it, but it’s perhaps the most frustrating thing I received this year.  Sure, most of the figures are a marked improvement on the single releases, but there are still enough flaws throughout the set that it’s infuriating.  The fact that Freeze and Ivy include more accessories also drives home the point that DCC designed them as individual releases and held them back to move this big set, which feels like a real cheap move to me.  Ultimately, I’m happy to have the Mr. Freeze I wanted.  He’s a good figure.  Montoya is also a solid addition, and Croc’s a pleasant surprise that I probably wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.  Ivy’s another flawed version of the character, though, and Bane just does nothing for me.  So, that’s 2/5 figures in this set that I would have much rather passed on.  That’s not a very good spread, especially for something that carries this hefty a price tag.

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#1539: Xenomorph

XENOMORPH

ALIEN: COVENANT (NECA)

“Ridley Scott returns to the universe created, with Alien: Covenant, a new chapter in his groundbreaking Alien franchise.  The crew of the colony ship Covenant, bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, discovers what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world.  When they uncover a threat beyond their imagination, they must attempt a harrowing escape.”

…Okay, I’ve been putting this off for about as long as I could.  Let’s do this.  For my eighth post-Christmas review, I’ll be asking an important question: is it possible to enjoy an action figure based on something you utterly despise?  I’ve pondered this question before, amusingly enough, in the same franchise as this review, and from the same toy maker even.  I mean, I was able to enjoy four whole Alien 3 figures, right?  Surely Alien: Covenant isn’t that different, is it?  Well, yes and no.  The thing about Alien 3 is that it existed before I even got into the Alien franchise.  I knew it was coming before I even started Aliens.  I had fair warning.  It’s just sort of done.  And, the way Aliens ends, Alien 3 is very easy to ignore.  Moreover, as much as I dislike the movie, I’ll be the first to admit that not *everything* about it sucks.  Things like the quadrupedal Xeno I can certainly get behind.  Alien: Covenant?  Well, I had to experience it new, which definitely sucked.  It’s a sequel to Prometheus, a movie that I enjoyed more than I expected, but an incredibly flawed one nonetheless.  At the end of Prometheus, I actually had this little twinge of hope, that maybe Scott would be taking his characters in a different direction than the earlier films and trying something new.  Silly me.  Covenant takes what I liked in Prometheus and gives it a fiery, explosive death, and takes everything I didn’t like about it and sticks it front and center.  And then it sort of tries to reinvent the wheel by reintroducing audiences to one of the most distinctive monsters of all time in a way that assures you beyond the shadow of a doubt that everything clever Scott did in the original Alien was an accident.

…I’m getting very sidetracked.  I should probably talk about the figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Xenomorph is part of NECA’s Alien: Covenant line, released to coincide with the movie’s theatrical run.  The figure stands 8 1/2 inches tall and he has 37 points of articulation, plus a bendable tail.  This Xeno sports an all-new sculpt, modeled after the Xeno seen on screen in Covenant.  To NECA’s credit, they’ve crafted a very good recreation of the creature seen in the film.  Every detail looks spot on, and everything is very sharp and well defined.  The figure’s articulation is pretty decently worked in, and he’s just as posable as his brethren from the other movies.  The paint’s pretty solid too.  The fine details on the head are all well outlined and clearly applied, and there’s decent accent work that shows off the sculpt pretty well.  Viewed just on its merits as a plastic recreation of the thing we see in the movie, this figure is nothing short of exceptional.  And there lies the rub.  I could go on for a very long time about what I didn’t like about Covenant (I’ve already gone on too long, frankly), but nothing frustrated me more than the design of the Xenomorph.  It’s like someone looked at the original design and said “how can remove everything unique, interesting, and genuinely terrifying about this design?”  Simply put, this alien looks like a skinned human with a Xeno head stuck on top.  Is that pleasant?  No.  Is it gross? A bit.  Would I want to run into this thing? No.  Is it scary? Not really.  There’s too much going on, and it’s all far too familiar to me.  Remove the head, and you’re left with a monster that would look at home in any slasher film of the week.  It’s really generic.  And I get that they designed it this way on purpose, so that it would still look alright when brightly lit (which is most definitely not true of the Xenos seen in Alien or Aliens; they look downright goofy when seen in regular lighting).  So bravo, you created Aliens you can look at in daylight.  But why, though?  Why?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This figure came from Super Awesome Girlfriend.  I had mentioned to her that the Books A Million in the mall where she works had a decent selection of NECA Aliens figures, and when she went back, the Covenant figures were all they had left.  She knew I didn’t like the movie, but she really wanted to get me something Alien-related, so she got me this one.  It’s a thoughtful gift, no doubt.  It’s not her fault that the movie sucked.  Nor is it NECA’s, or even this figure’s.  Like I said, just as a figure of the design in the movie, this figure is solid.  And I’ll put it on the shelf with my other NECA Xenos, and be content.  But I really wish the movie had been better.  And I really wish the design were better.  And I really wish Ridley Scott would learn to quit while he’s ahead.

The Blaster In Question #0038: First Order Stormtrooper Blaster

FIRST ORDER STROMTROOPER BLASTER

STAR WARS

stormpistol1One little word sure can make a big difference, especially when that word is “deluxe.”  Yes, this is in fact a different blaster review from last week, it’s not a typo.  So what does the First Order have to offer when “deluxe” is off the table?  Well… not very much, as it happens, but let’s have a look at it anyway.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

stormpistol2The First Order Stormtrooper Blaster was released in 2015, alongside the deluxe version as a promotion for The Force Awakens.  If you’re not sure what part of the movie it’s from, you can be forgiven for missing it because it doesn’t get a lot of screen-time, but it’s there, I promise.  Now, having just recently The Last Jedi, I can tell you it gets a couple scenes where characters using it are front and center on the screen, so that’s nice.  The blaster itself is almost as basic as you can get.  It is a single shot, muzzle loaded pistol with a little spring loaded priming tab in the back.  While the tab does a good job of maintaining the blaster’s aesthetics even when primed, it does mean the actual size of the plunger tube is severely limited.  You can really get a sense of this by how short and light the priming stroke is.  The outer shell is completely new to resemble the blaster from the film and looks pretty accurate… until you actually hold it.  In the film, the SE-44C blaster, which this is designed after, is built on a Glock 17 pistol.  If you’ve been keeping up with my Star Wars Nerf reviews, you’ll know that in general the Nerf blasters have pretty good ergonomics as they’re modeled after props that used real world firearms.  In the case of the FOSB, the shape is right, but the scale is waaaaayyy off.  It feels tiny in the hand.  As such, the normally quite comfortable grip of the Glock has been shrunk down so it no longer lines up with regular human sized hands.   I understand the reasoning behind it, because otherwise there would be just an unnecessarily large body housing a small internal mechanism.  Sure, they could have scaled up the plunger tube to get more air into the system but that… actually, that’s a good idea.  Why didn’t they just do that?  I guess it’s probably safe to assume that it all comes down to cost cutting measures, as is so often the case.  But hey, at least it comes with a cool attachment piece, right?  I mean, it does come with an attachment piece which clips onto the standard Nerf rail on the top of the blaster, but what even is the piece supposed to be?  As far as I can tell it’s a sight(ish) but it sits in the dead center of the blaster and has no other sight to line up to, so it’s kinda useless.  It’s actually really useless, but its on the blaster in the film, so there it is.  The FOSB’s performance is about what you’d expect for a Stormtrooper’s backup blaster.  Distance and power are lacking pretty heavily from that of a regular N-Strike Elite blaster, but you can usually hit your target if the muzzle is just about 5 or 6 inches away from it, so… yay?  Stormtroopers are meant to be imposing and scary, but a couple shot from this blaster and I doubt you’ll be able to maintain that kind of fear-based dominance over your younger siblings when you bust into their room.  The First Order Stormtrooper Blaster comes packaged with the useless sight/spike thingy and 3 of the red Star Wars branded Elite darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got the FOSB at the same time I bought its deluxe bigger brother.  I think having the deluxe blaster there distracted me from how lackluster the pistol was.  I’m not saying I regret buying it or owning it, but for the price, we essentially got a Star Wars logo that came with a free Nerf blaster.

#1523: Princess Leia Organa

PRINCESS LEIA ORGANA

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“After many unsuccessful attempts to bring change to the Empire as a senator, Princess Leia Organa became involved in the Rebel Alliance and immediately established herself as one of its most popular and influential leaders. Although it was extremely dangerous for someone of her prominence. Leia often participated in secret missions for the rebellion. It was during one such mission to recruit General Obi-Wan Kenobi that she obtained the technical readouts for the Empire’s new Death Star battle station. Moments before being captured by Darth Vader, Leia hid the plans in the droid R2-D2, who then escaped to the planet Tatooine to find Kenobi.”

Over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve looked at both Han Solo and Luke Skywalker in their Stormtrooper disguises, which they use to sneak into the Deathstar detention center.  I haven’t yet looked at the subject of their rescue (who ends up doing a little bit of the rescuing herself), Princess Leia Organa.  So, I’m going to amend that today, by looking at one of the worst Leia figures in existence.  Yay?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Princess Leia was released in the first series of Kenner’s Power of the Force II, where she wound up as the short-packed figure.  She was the first of several Leia figures from the line, and is based on her introductory look, her main appearance from A New Hope.  The figure stands about 3 3/4 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  Despite Carrie Fisher being a good deal shorter than most of her cast mates, Leia isn’t noticeably shorter than the other figures in the line.  This was a trend that wouldn’t really be corrected until the line re-formated after The Phantom Menace.  Leia’s sculpt was unique to her, which is a good thing, because that means Kenner realized the horrible mistake they’d made and never allowed it to occur again.  I’m sorry, was that too harsh?  Yeah, I’m not much of a fan of this sculpt.  She’s preposed, she’s got really goofy proportions, her costume’s kind of strangely inaccurate, and, most importantly, her face looks not unlike a monkey.  Seriously, look at that face and tell me that doesn’t look at all like Zira.  None of the PotF2 figures had particularly great likenesses, but every other Leia in the line was way better than this.  I’m trying to find something positive to say about this sculpt…the hair’s not terrible, I guess?  Her paint’s pretty simple, since she’s mostly just molded in white plastic, which a little bit of paint here and there.  It’s not terrible.  Leia included two different styles of blaster pistol (both of which are missing from my figure), as well as a removable cape and skirt.  The cape is a bit baffling, as it just sort of continues the trend of Kenner clearly having no idea what Leia was actually wearing in the film.  I suppose this was a bit closer than the vintage release?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Ah, this one.  This one’s an important one.  Why?  Because this is the figure that introduced me to my arch-nemesis: The Scalper!  Yes, in my quest for this figure, I had an unfortunate run-in with a horrid man-creature, which I detailed a few years ago in the ever so eloquently titled “GAHHHHHHHHH!  Suffice it to say, I did eventually get the figure through non-scalped means, thanks to some dutiful work on my parents’ part.  This was my first Leia, and I have aa whole story that goes with her, which gives her all this great emotional value.  It’s a shame the actual figure kind of sucks.  I mean, I’m glad I have her, but there’s no denying that she’s just a bad figure.

#1466: Batman

BATMAN

DC ICONS (DC COLLECTIBLES)

For today’s DC Icons Friday, I’m taking a bit of a leap back.  The last three weeks have all been figures from ore towards the end of the line’s run, but for this one I’ll actually be going all the way back to the earliest releases of the line.  I’ll be taking a look at the heaviest hitting of DC’s heavy hitters, Batman, in his inaugural Icons figure form.  Strap in FiQ-fans; this one might get a bit bumpy.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Batman is figure 01 in the first series of DC Icons figures.  Interestingly, though he’s numerically the first, he ended up hitting a week after the other three Series 1 figures, for unknown reasons.  Batman’s packaging lists that he’s based on the “Last Rights” storyline, which was the follow-up to the “Batman R.I.P.” that deals with the various Bat-cast’s reactions to the death of Bruce Wayne.  It’s an odd choice for a Batman figure, since, as you might have guessed, he spends the story…well, dead…ish (it’s a long, convoluted, complicated story.  Best not to ask further questions).  I think there’s a flashback with Bruce in costume at some point, but it’s brief.  Odd choice of storyline aside, it’s really just a pretty standard pre-Final Crisis Batman, which is generally a good thing, since that’s a rather definitive take on the character.  The figure stands a little under 6 inches tall…yeah, you read that right.  Here’s what its hands down the greatest flaw of this figure: he’s too short.  He’s one of the shortest Icons figures produced.  And that just doesn’t quite work out, since he’s Batman, and he really shouldn’t be that short.  And it’s not like he just missed a little height in his legs or torso or something; he’s actually just a smaller scaled figure, so he looks out of place next to most contemporary 6-inch lines, including the line he’s actually a part of.  Looking at the positives, he’s got 29 points of articulation, and is without a doubt one of the best articulated Batman figures ever to be produced.  Only the later Rebirth Batman really surpasses him.  Some of the articulation could still be better, of course.  The lack of any joints on his thighs continues to be the biggest flaw of any Icons release, and his neck joint is rather limited (and his head has an annoying tendency to pop right off the joint at a moment’s notice).  Still, there’s a lot of great poses that this guy can pull off that no other Batman really can.  This Batman figure has a unique sculpt, which is definitely one of the better Batman sculpts out there.  Like the other figures in the line, it’s based on Ivan Reis’s work, and makes for a very satisfying Batman, at least from a design front.  He’s less pouty than his Rebirth compatriot, which I like, and is in general one of the more realistically built figures in the line.  I like the small details like the wrinkles in his costume, and I love how well the belt turned out.  Even the cape is well done, and I’m the sort of guy that’s hard to please when it comes to capes.  The only real issue I have is the gauntlets of his gloves, which have the “spikes” placed on the sides, when they actually should be running on the backs of his forearms.  It’s a symptom of the gloves originally having a swivel joint above them that was later removed; they were just affixed in the wrong position.  Paintwork on this figure is pretty decent overall.  The colors match up well with the usual look of a mid-00s Batman, and the application is mostly pretty clean, aside from a few very minor spots of slop.  There’s one slight oddity with the paint; for some reason he’s got a pair of black eyebrows painted on his cowl.  Now, eyebrows aren’t uncommon on Batman designs, but the modern look mostly dispensed with them, so they can look a little goofy.  Fortunately, they’re effectively invisible to the naked eye.  Batman is packed with two sets of hands in fists and gripping poses, as well as an additional left hand holding a grapple, and a pair of batarangs.  It’s a decent selection of extras, though I can’t say any of it’s terribly exciting.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t buy this figure when he was new, largely due to the whole scale thing.  I thought he looked cool, but the size was a big obstacle.  Cosmic Comix also never seemed to keep him in stock for particularly long, so it’s not like there was one there to tempt me.  With the cancellation of the Icons line, I’ve been feeling a little bad for it, so I’m working on tracking down as many of them as I can.  Batman’s value’s actually taken a bit of a jump on the after market, so I didn’t really think I’d be getting him soon.  Then Cosmic Comix found one in their back room, and priced him at his original retail, so I figured why not?  This figure is frustrating.  Taken purely on his own, he’s possibly the greatest single Batman available.  The problem is he sort of exists in this weird vacuum, where nothing really goes with him.  On the plus side, I did remember that I had a similarly mis-scaled Tim Drake Robin from DC Universe Classics, so at the very least these two now have each other.

The Blaster In Question #0028: SharpFire

SHARPFIRE

N-STRIKE

This week, we’ll be playing the NES classic, Duckhunt using the zapper light gun.  Wait, hang on.  Nope, scratch that, this is a Nerf blaster, but let’s be fair, you can understand my confusion.  I mean, look at it.  Ok, fine, we can look at it together.  Let’s get into reviewing the N-Strike SharpFire.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The SharpFire was released in 2015 as part of the N-Strike series which was a little odd seeing as N-Strike Elite had already been launched several years prior.  It is a single-shot, breach-loading pistol/rifle thing.  It’s a bit of a mess, quite frankly.  To my knowledge, it was the first Nerf blaster to use this breach-loading mechanism but not the last as it has also appeared in the Modulus and Accustrike lines as the IonFire and FalconFire respectively.  The core blaster can be used on its own as a small pistol or combined with the included (and proprietary) stock and barrel extension.  The barrel extension is just a tube that snaps on the front, but the stock can be reversed and used as a holster of sorts.  It even has a belt clip on one side and can hold 6 extra darts in storage as well as holding onto the barrel extension when not in use.  The shell of the blaster is completely original and has only seen reuse in the SharpFire Delta, effectively just a recolor and without the accessories.  The ergonomics of the SharpFire leave something to be desired.  The lump on the back of the pistol grip makes achieving a firm grip rather awkward, and the barrel and stock are too short.  The stock is especially uncomfortable as it has no semblance of a cheek rest of any kind, leaving your head floating awkwardly behind the blaster as you hunch way down to get any kind of sight picture.  The whole thing is quite literally a pain in the neck.  This is not helped by the fact that the barrel attachment mechanism is so poorly designed that it is both too tight where it causes stress marks in the plastic from attaching and detaching, but also too loose so the barrel never stays on straight.  As a pistol, my left hand can wrap around the fingers of my right hand in a standard grip, but as a rifle (kinda sorta), It feels like there should be something more substantial to hold on to in the front of the blaster and there isn’t.  These would be bad enough except that both of these accessories are only compatible with the SharpFire, and likewise, the SharpFire can’t accept standard attachments.  Performance isn’t exactly stellar either.  With just the core blaster, many shots seem to idly coast through the air before dropping to the floor as opposed to the speed and force seen with Elite series blasters, which again, had been out for 3 years at this point.  I just feel like I need to point that out again.  With the barrel attachment on, the loose fit would sometimes mean that darts would impact the inside of the barrel and slow down before exiting the blaster, leading to some hilariously flaccid shots.  Needless to say, you don’t want this happening when you decide to bust into your younger sibling’s room.  You’ve got an image to maintain.  The SharpFire comes packaged with its stock, barrel extension, and 10 N-Strike Elite darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Hoo-boy.  That was a rough one.  When it was first shown in a leaked promo image back in 2014, I was super excited for it to come out because it didn’t look like anything that had come out before it.  I was really confused why no one else seemed interested in what could have potentially been a dedicated Nerf sniper.  Then it came out and I figured out why.  I guess it’s hard to convey scale on a low res leaked picture but this thing really is just kind of disappointing all around.

 

#1441: The Atom

THE ATOM – DC’s LEGENDS OF TOMORROW

DC COMICS MULTIVERSE (MATTEL)

Oh dear.  It’s a Mattel review.  DC Comics Multiverse even.  This don’t look good….

In effort to at least try to get off to a good start, I’m going to talk about some more pleasant things.  Just over a week ago, I was mentioning that DC’s actually got a pretty good slate of live action TV shows running right now.  Flash and Supergirl are solid straight super hero shows, but over in the eclectic odd-ball corner, there’s Legends of Tomorrow, which is pretty consistently fun.  Part of its success lies in spinning off some of the breakout characters from The Flash and Arrow, including today’s focus, Ray Palmer, aka the Atom.  I’ve been a fan of the character for quite some time, and Brandon Routh’s portrayal of him in Arrow and Legends is always enjoyable.  I’ve been patiently waiting for him to get a figure from *someone* and it looks like Mattel was first up to the bat.  I really like this character and his design, so I’m going to try very hard to like this figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Atom (or should I say “FGC12,” since that’s how he’s listed on  the back of the box.  Yes, it looks like Mattel forgot to swap out the actual character names for the assortment numbers when the box went to print.  I can’t wait for kids to try and beg their parents to buy them DWM60 figure to go with their Robin) was released in the “Rookie” series of DC Comics Multiverse figures, which started hitting towards the end of the summer.  Atom is based on his slightly upgraded design from the second season of Legends, which I think is a slightly stronger look than the earlier design.  The figure stands about 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 22 points of articulation.  As with the last few Multiverse figures I’ve looked at, the articulation count is largely theoretical.  This figure hasn’t met a joint it couldn’t limit.  The neck is a balljoint that operates as a simple swivel.  The shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees all get less than 45 degrees of movement, so sitting poses and any real flying pose are out of the question.  There are ankle joints present, but they don’t seem to actually do anything, so I’m not sure what they’re supposed to be accomplishing.  They’ve foregone the ab-crunch completely this time, which I suppose is better than the essentially useless one found on the Suicide Squad figures.  At least this way the sculpt isn’t needlessly broken up.  Well, in that one place, anyway.  Despite it’s lack of actual effectiveness, most all of the articulation is out there, naked, on display.  Noticeable gaps in the sculpt somehow still leave the joints insanely restricted.  How do you do that? You be Mattel, that’s how.  The figure’s sculpt is all new, and it’s not atrocious.  The details are certainly sharper than on a lot of the TV/Movie figures that Mattel’s offered in the line.  The suit pieces certainly don’t look terrible.  That said, the underlying body is definitely off, though.  The neck’s really skinny and leaves the head sitting too high, the forearms almost look backwards, and the legs are very tube-shaped and inorganic.  He’s also got that hideous hip construction that Mattel seems dead-set on saddling every one of their live-action figures with.  The best I can say about this sculpt is that the whole is the slightest bit better than the sum of its parts; the complete figure looks okay.  The paintwork on this figure is a bit better than some of Mattel’s other offerings.  There aren’t any glaringly missing applications, and the work seems to be overall pretty clean.  If you want to get nitpicky, the visor shouldn’t be solid black like it is, but it’s not terribly far off from the Season 2 design.  Atom is packed with a smaller version of himself, which is a pretty standard extra for Atom figures.  It’s decent enough, but it’s rather hard to keep standing.  There’s also an unmasked Ray Palmer head, which is cool in theory, but not so much in practice.  It doesn’t really look like Routh at all, it’s too large for the body, and it’s really, really shiny.  Of course, seeing as it’s a Mattel accessory, I suppose we should just be glad he doesn’t have “CHINA” stamped right across his forehead.  Lastly, Atom has both the head and pelvis of the Rookie Collect-N-Connect.  Apparently Rookie is the name they assigned to Commissioner Gordon’s big Batman suit.  Was that really a name associated with that suit? Because I don’t believe I ever heard it referred to as such.  Bleh, I’m getting side-tracked again.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Okay, I’ve been burned by Multiverse before.  I don’t really like this line.  Why did I buy another one?  Honestly, I just really wanted a TV Atom figure.  I found this guy at Walmart while I was moving in August, and he just sort of called to me.  I wanted to like him, I really did, but as soon as I took him out of his packaging, I found myself immediately let-down.  Mattel’s articulation has been weak before, but I think this figure may be a new low on that front.  The best you’ll be able to get from him is a semi-decent standing pose.  That’s it.  And, unfortunately, unlike the DCC TV Supergirl, who was also articulation-challenged, Atom’s sculpt isn’t high enough caliber for me to feel his lack of movement is justified.  Instead, he’s just another below average figure.  And that kind of sucks.  I was really rooting for this figure.  I don’t entirely hate him.  He looks okay in that standing pose.  But he’s hardly fun.  For what may be the first time ever, I wish I’d left a toy in its packaging.  At least that way I wouldn’t know just how disappointing he is, right?  DCC’s releasing their own take on Atom in a month or so.  I guess I’ll see how that one turns out.

#1394: Iron Man

IRON MAN

MARVEL SUPER HEROES (TOY BIZ)

“Iron Man is the world’s greatest high-tech hero. Iron Man’s armor is made of space-age alloys and is virtually indestructible. Not only that, but the armor is filled with an awesome arsenal including energy blasting repulsor rays, a navigational computer and rocket-powered boots that can fly him at a top speed of 960 miles an hour! Iron Man is really the millionaire inventor and industrialist, Tony Stark. When he’s not wearing his armor and helping his friends Thor and Captain America save mankind from super-powered enemies, Tony’s in his lab creating a new invention to save lives or clean the environment.”

You can’t go anywhere these days without tripping over like 50 Iron Man figures, but that wasn’t always the case.  When Toy Biz took over the Marvel license back in the early ‘90s, there were only two prior Iron Man figures.  They eventually released a whole line of Iron Men, but their first figure of the character was released as part of their early Marvel Super Heroes line.  He’s kinda goofy and I’m looking at him today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Iron Man was released in the second series of Marvel Super Heroes.  Along with that series’ Thor figure, he completes the “Avengers” set started in Series 1 with Cap and Hulk.  He’s based on the Neo-Classic armor, which is more rare amongst action figures.  This was actually its first time in plastic form, and would remain its only appearance until the Marvel Legends Showdown line more than a decade later.  The figure stands about 5 inches tall and he has 7 points of articulation.  These earlier figures kind of mimicked the Super Powers aesthetic, albeit in a slightly lower quality way.  This figure’s sculpt is…interesting.  It’s not the worst thing ever, but it’s not as nice as, say, the Captain America figure.  A lot of the figure’s issues come from the rather primitive snap-on armor.  While later Iron Men would place the focus on getting a decent starting figure and then enhancing them with extra armored bits, this figure goes for a combo Iron Man/Tony Stark.  The problem is that the end result is an Iron Man and a Tony Stark that are both off.  The armor is really bulky and has obvious clips (which are rather difficult to work with), and the underlying Tony Stark is just…odd.  Really, really odd.  I mean, just look at him.  That ain’t right.  The paint work on this guy is okay overall, but his armor is lacking a few of the yellow details.  Maybe they were working from a classic Iron Man image?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This figure slightly pre-dates me getting into collecting…and me existing…so I didn’t get it new.  I did eye it up a few times over the years, but it’s not the most common figure, and it was never high enough priority for me to actually go and track him down.  I ended up finding this guy at the most recent Dave Hart Toy Show back in July, for a pretty decent price.  He’s…strange?  I guess that’s the word.  I find him intriguing as sort of a pre-formed version of the later Toy Biz Iron Men, but as his own figure, he’s not Toy Biz’s strongest offering.

#1391: Fireball Shooting Hades

FIREBALL SHOOTING HADES

DISNEY’S HERCULES (MATTEL)

“Fast talking, slicker than slick, Hades is ruler of the Underworld.  When he shoots his deadly fireballs, he causes ultimate destruction.  Only the heroic HERCULES can put an end to this fiery villain’s evil plan!”

Poor Hades gets bum deal when it comes to popular culture.  In just about any adaptation of mythology, he’s perpetually cast as some sort of ultimate villain, when in the actual myths he’s actually one of the more level-headed and reasonable gods.  Compared to the likes of Zeus, Poseidon, or Hera, he’s really not that bad.  Disney’s Hercules is one of the prime offenders when it comes to reworking things to make Hades the villain.  The actual villain of most of Hercules’s stories in mythology is Hera, who resented Herc for being one of Zeus’s many bastard children.  Herc and Hades barely even interacted.  But, I guess having Hera constantly trying to kill Hercules out of a constant anger caused by Zeus’s sexual escapades wouldn’t have made for a very good kids movie, would it?  So, they went with the more obvious “god of death = evil” bit.  At least it was entertaining, right?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Fireball Shooting Hades was released in the basic series of the Disney’s Hercules tie-in line from Mattel.  While Herc got all sorts of variants and the like, this was the only Hades figure in the line.  I’m not sure what other variants you could really do, but hey, I wouldn’t have though of Hydra Slaying Hercules either.    The figure stands about 6 inches tall and he has 3 points of articulation.  Bit of a step down from Herc on the movement front.  Obviously, he lost some articulation to his designs lack of legs, which is understandable.  It’s a shame they couldn’t at least put some extra movement in the arms.  At least his head can turn, though.  Hades’s sculpt was unique to him, and it’s okay, I suppose.  It’s more faithful than the Hercules figure I looked at, which is good.  However, it also means that the focus is on trying to be faithful to a 2D character, rather than making just a good looking toy.  The body works out all right.  It’s pretty clean and it follows the line work of the movie.  The smoke at his feet is a little blocky, but it’s not terrible.  You just need to find the right angle for him.  The left arm is a little impeded by the figure’s action feature, but I’ll touch on that a little later.  The biggest issues come from the head.  They’re pretty much entirely related to the fluidity of Hades’s face in the movie.  He’s very expressive and all over the place, which makes capturing him in one single sculpt rather difficult.  He’s the sort of character that would likely be better served with a few interchangeable heads, but the toy industry wasn’t quite there in ’97.  So, we have to settle with a single expression.  Mattel went with a scary, scowly, wide-eyed grimace.  It’s not a great look.  I mean, yeah, he looks a little frightening, but it’s more in that uncanny valley sort of way, where his eyes just seem too human.  Parts of the sculpt look fine, but it doesn’t add-up to a really great piece.  It’s not terrible, but it could be a lot better.  Moving onto the paintwork, Hades is pretty decent.  Nothing crazy stand-out or anything, but the application is pretty clean and the details are pretty sharp.  In particular, I like the way the flames behind Hades’s head have been handled.  I sort of which his actual hair had been done in a similar fashion, but the solid paint isn’t awful.  Hades has two different “action features.”  The first is the titular “fireball shooting.”  There’s a missile launcher in his left arm.  Load up the fireball and press the button.  There it goes.  Wooooooo.  The second feature is even less involved; move the slide on his back up and down, and the flames behind his head will rise and fall.  Fun times.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked up Hades here from Lost in Time Toys, at the same time as Hydra Slaying Herc.  It was actually finding Hades that got me to grab the pair.  Hercules was pretty fun, but Hades has a few more flaws that hold him back.  Ultimately, he’s fine if you want to stick him on a shelf or a desk or something, but his actual playability is kind of low.

#1389: Loki

LOKI

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

““Forever a trickster, Loki’s allegiances are often unclear. However, one thing can be said for certain: Loki always looks out for Loki’s best interests.”

Summer’s on it’s way out.  So, move over summer blockbusters!  It’s time for…the fall blockbusters?  We’ve had Guardians Vol. 2 and Spider-Man: Homecoming.  Now it’s time for the next Marvel entry, Thor: Ragnarok!  After being slightly underwhelmed by The Dark World, I’m hoping that Ragnarok can deliver something a bit more enjoyable.  The Dark World had only an incredibly modest offering of toys, but Ragnarok is getting a little more coverage.  The first of the product is just starting to hit retail now.  Today, I’ll be looking at the trickster god Loki!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Loki is figure 2 in the Ragnarok assortment of Marvel Legends.  This is actually the first time Hiddleston Loki’s been given a proper retail release, since the Avengers was only available as a Walmart exclusive, and then was re-released as part of the European version of the Hulkbuster assortment.  This one is, obviously, based on his Ragnarok appearance, which seems to have been somewhat influenced by the Lady Loki design of all things, along with a touch of the “Agent of Asgard” look.  It’s not a bad look.  The figure stands about 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 30 points of articulation.  His sculpt is new to this figure.  It has its ups and its downs.  By far, the best part is the head sculpt, which has quite a nice likeness of Hiddleston as Loki, slight little sneering grin and all.  I also quite like the hands, which are a nice open gesture, thus adding a lot of character when you pose him.  I’m a bit iffy on the torso, which seems slightly oddly shaped and kind of rudimentary.  Compared to some of the other Legends of late, this feels like a bit of a step down.  I’m also not a fan of the floating skirt piece on the waist.  I feel like a fixed piece would look better, and be less annoying when posing the figure.  Lastly, I don’t care for how the cape attaches.  Maybe it’s just my figure, but I found it to be rather difficult to bet both clips properly seated on the shoulders, and even once they’re in place, it doesn’t take much to knock one or the other out of place.  It gets a little frustrating.  On the plus side of things, the paintwork on Loki is pretty strong.  The best work is definitely the face; this is my first experience with the “printing” technique that Hasbro’s started to use on the movie figures.  Photos online had me skeptical about the process, but it person it looks really good.  The rest of the paint is pretty straight forward stuff.  The colors seem to match the movie design, and the application is all pretty sharp.  Loki includes his “helmet”, which has been streamlined down to more of a headband with horns attached.  It’s a little bulky, but fits on his head pretty well. He also includes the left leg of the series’ Build-A-Figure, Gladiator Hulk.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This guy snuck up on me.  I barely even knew of his existence when I found him at one of my local Targets.  I was actually looking for the Homecoming figures, which I still haven’t had any luck finding, when I came across this guy.  I was pretty excited to find him (and I’ve already tracked down a duplicate for Super Awesome Girlfriend).  Ultimately, he’s a bit of a mixed bag.  The torso on this guy is really poorly designed, just all-around, which is a real surprise from Hasbro these days.  Still, the good does outweigh the bad on this guy, and the end result is an overall nice figure.  He’s not going to be figure of the year, but he’s far from terrible.