#1692: Robin

ROBIN

DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS (MATTEL)

In a similar fashion to Toy Biz’s early Marvel Legends offerings skipping any thing Spider-Man-related due the Spider-Man Classics line that sort of launched Legends, thanks to the lead-in DC Superheroes line, Mattel’s DC Universe Classics was slightly slower introducing Batman and Superman-themed figures.  While Batman found himself in the line’s first series, he would have to wait another two series before getting his trusty sidekick, Robin.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Robin was initially released in Series 3 of DC Universe Classics, and then ultimately re-released in the World’s Greatest Superheroes sub-line.  He was Mattel’s second go at Robin, following the mold that went back to their original Batman line.  This one is based on Tim Drake, the third Robin, and still the current one at the time of this figure’s release.  He’s seen here in the costume he was wearing at the time, which was introduced following the “One Year Later” time-jump caused by Infinite Crisis and 52.  It’s a design that doesn’t quite have the staying power of Tim’s prior look, but it did stick around for a few years, and it’s certainly not terrible.  The figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  This figure’s biggest flaw is his height.  He was a full inch shorter than the standard adult male from this line, but not in a “oh, he’s just a teenager who isn’t fully grown yet” way.  He actually looks like he’s a smaller scale than the rest of the figures.  It’s especially annoying because the later Red Robin figure, meant to represent Tim from just a few years later in the timeline, was just on the standard male body.  That wasn’t the right fit either, but at least he looked vaguely right scale-wise.  The most frustrating about the height issue is that the figure’s sculpt is actually pretty good.  Robin lacks some of the more annoying stylistic elements of the larger bodies, such as the goofy larger shoulders, or the painfully obvious hip joints.  His proportions are fairly balanced, and there are actually quite a few uniquely sculpted pieces, such as the buckles on his tunic and his utility belt, which add a lot of character to the figure.  The head’s maybe more of an early career Tim than one in this costume should be, but it still looks quite nice, and even the cape is a pretty solid sculpt.  Purely from an internal standpoint, it’s a strong sculpt.  Even his paintwork’s not terrible.  I mean, there’s no crazy detail work or anything, but the application is all pretty clean, and there’s some slight accent work on the red sections of the costume.  He was originally packed with a combat staff and the left arm of the Collect-N-Connect Solomon Grundy.  The re-release (which is the one I had), dropped the CnC piece.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When Series 3 of DCUC was unveiled I was thrilled.  I wanted every figure in the set.  To date, of the five figures (six if you included the CnC), I own three, and this one’s not even the original release.  Why?  Mattel’s sucky distribution, that’s why.  I desperately wanted Robin, but I never actually saw him at retail, so I finally settled for the re-release, which I found at Baltimore Comic-Con a few years back.  He’s a frustrating figure.  I love so much about him, but he’s cursed never to really fit-in with his line-mates.  Fortunately, last fall I got the similarly mis-scaled DC Icons Batman, so at least they both have a companion.

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The Blaster In Question #0051: Star-Lord Assembler Gear

BlasterInQuestion1

STAR-LORD BLASTER

ASSEMBLER GEAR (INFINITY WAR)

assemblelord1Sometimes performance isn’t the end-all be-all for having a fun Nerf blaster.  If you’ve read some of my earlier posts, you may have seen a review I did way back in the way back for the Star-Lord Quad Blaster.  That’s a great example of fun despite pretty lackluster performance.  Well, today, I’m looking at yet another Star-Lord themed blaster, this time coinciding with the release of Marvel’s latest film, Infinity War.  Now I should warn you, I have seen the movie but I’ll try my best to stay away from spoilers.  Let’s get into it.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

assemblelord2Snape kills Dumbledore.  DAMMIT!  Sorry, I tried.  Anyways, the Star-Lord Assembler Gear blaster kit… thingy was released in 2018 alongside similar compatible kits themed around other characters like Iron Man, Captain America, and Bruce Willis who was a ghost the whole time.  GAHHH! Sorry, sorry.  The idea is that each kit comes with one core blaster component and then a bunch of other parts that can be attached in a number of different ways, kind of like the idea behind the Modulus series, but even crazier.  The blaster piece for the Star-Lord kit has 2 female barrel sockets, 2 male barrel sockets, 3 short little rails, and a rail clip on the bottom.  In addition, the two included extra parts each have a male and female barrel socket and rail and rail clip.  It’s rather a lot, to be honest but it does definitely lend itself to coming up with some pretty crazy combinations which is fun.  It is important to note that the barrel sockets on the Assembler Gear blasters are not compatible with regular Nerf barrel attachments.  It seems the extra parts aren’t really modeled after anything, just shaped vaguely like sci-fi blaster pieces. The core blaster is definitely intended to be modeled after assemblelord3Star-Lord’s signature blaster pistols from the films though it seems like they may have put the top on backwards as it slopes the wrong way.  This could have been an accident or could have been intentional for a number of reasons, but I can tell you it was not so they could fit halfway decent internals in this thing.  The mechanism that launches the dart out of the blaster is the bane of my existence as a Nerf fan.  I can only be talking about the dart flicker style of blaster like that in the Marvel’s Captain America Civil War Iron Man Stark Strike gauntlet blaster… from Hasbro that I looked at a few weeks ago.  I’ve already ranted on this subject before so I’ll spare you, good reader, this time, but it really is just terrible.  One potential argument you could make is that maybe a non-trash based mechanism would take too much space, to which I’d reply “Kevin Spacey is Keyser Soze.”  Then I’d go on to say that maybe scaling up the blaster as a whole wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world because as it is now, the ergonomics are atrocious.  I understand these are meant for children, but so was the Quad-Blaster and that was perfectly fine to hold.  This, on the other hand, is just not remotely comfortable.  A slightly larger blaster could mean a better grip and halfway decent internals, but sadly, it is not so.  Given the ergo and the performance, I feel justified saying it’s just not worth taking this blaster if you’re planning to bust into your younger siblings’ room and open fire.  Pick something else.  The Star-Lord Assembler Gear blaster kit comes with 2 attachments and 3 Star-Lord colored Elite Darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked this blaster up on a trip to a local TRU.  I don’t recall if this was before or after the whole going out of business thing took effect, but I had seen them online and was curious enough so I picked it up.  Having done so, I don’t think I can really recommend a blaster this uncomfortable to use with such pitiful performance.  Maybe that’s the point though.  Maybe it’s meant to make you feel like Star-Lord.  Just get your biggest friend to hot glue some Jolly Ranchers to their hand and tell them to start punching as hard as they can while you try and keep them away by shooting.  I don’t see how this could possibly go wrong.

On a side note, I’m pleased to announce that after their hiatus, the fine folks at Timsical Thoughts have partnered with The Blaster In Question to bring you some degree of “content.”  I know the guy who runs the site personally and he’s just great so feel free to check that out.

#1648: Captain America

CAPTAIN AMERICA

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

From the streets of Brooklyn to the intergalactic stage, Steve Rogers defends justice as Captain America.”

Infinity War is here!  Yes, the movie 10 years in the making has arrived.  By the time you, dear readers, read this review, I will have already seen the film, but I’m writing this one in advance.  So, no spoilers or anything to worry about here!  Anyway, I’ve actually managed to track down the last few missing figures from the first assortment of Infinity War-themed Marvel Legends, so, over the course of the next week, I’ll be taking a look at all of those.  Up first, Steve Rogers, the former Captain America!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Captain America is the first figure in the Thanos Series of Marvel Legends.  He’s the first of the four IW-based figures in the series (five if you count the Build-A-Figure), and, like his basic-line counterpart, he’s based on Cap’s “new” Nomad look.  Well, mostly, anyway.  I’ll get to that in a bit.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  This guy gets an all-new sculpt, which is definitely a positive.  That Winter Soldier mold was great for its time, but was starting to look a little dated.  This figure’s the same height as that one, but he’s been bulked up a little bit more, which prevents him from looking quite as shrimpy as the prior figure.  Overall, I like this new sculpt for this costume, and I’m hopeful that the 10th Anniversary two-pack Cap from later this year will be making liberal use of these pieces.  I do have some slight issues, mostly to do with the IW-specific pieces, and some questionable accuracy.  The first is the head.  By far, it’s the best Evans likeness we’ve gotten from Hasbro yet, and the face in particular is quite well detailed.  The issue lies with the hair, a separate, and going by what we’ve seen in the trailers, rather inaccurate piece. It looks to be the same styling he had in Civil War, when it really should be much longer.  Maybe he gets an important haircut in the film?  I don’t know, but I think it’s more likely Hasbro made a mistake.  Time will tell.  Another slight oddity to the sculpt?  The glove, or should I say lack of glove, on his right hand.  In all the trailers, he’s quite clearly got them on both hands, but this figure’s pulling a Luke Skywalker.  Again, maybe this is to do with something that happens in the film, but it certainly looks off.  His paintwork is overall pretty decently handled.  The uniform is appropriately dingy and dirty, but the application is still clean.  The face uses the face printing technique, and it’s okay, but on my figure it does seem to be a little slight bit off.  Not terrible, though.  Cap is packed with one of his new shields, a pair of fists to swap out for the hands he’s packaged wearing, and the head of Thanos.  Like the basic figure, just the one shield, despite him having two in the trailers, but it’s at least a well-detailed piece.  The hands run into another issue of accuracy.  They’re now *both* ungloved.  Not an issue for his right hand, but since the left forearm has the cuff from his glove sculpted on it, it looks a little odd with the spare hand in place.  Another rather odd choice.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Cap was the first of these figures I was able to track down.  He showed up at Super Awesome Girlfriend’s work, so she grabbed him for me.  He’s not a bad figure, but I will admit to being a little bit let down by him.  Maybe my opinion will change after I’ve seen the movie, and maybe some of Hasbro’s choices will make more sense.  As it stands, he’s certainly far from awful, but I think the basic figure is a bit more faithful to the film.

#1644: Crimson Dynamo

CRIMSON DYNAMO

IRON MAN (TOY BIZ)

“As the United States had its armored champion in Iron Man, so did the former Soviet Union have their own crusader — the Crimson Dynamo! His first mission was to destroy the symbol of Western democracy — Iron Man — a mission which led to the first of many defeats for the Dynamo. As the Cold War came to a close, so did their animosity; now these uneasy allies focus their combined might against such foes as Fin Fang Foom and Titanium Man!”

The biggest problem faced by the ‘90s Iron Man toyline was Iron Man’s overall lack of a really strong rogue’s gallery.  I mean, he’s got Mandarin, and….alcohol?  That’s hard to do in a toyline, though.  Another good, solid Iron Man foe (and my personal favorite) is Crimson Dynamo.  Unfortunately, Dynamo wasn’t very prominent in the cartoon that the toyline was based on, so it took a few assortments.  Still, at least he got a figure.  Living Laser was on the show a couple of times, and he never did…

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Crimson Dynamo was released in Series 4 of Toy Biz’s Iron Man line, as the assortment’s only villain.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 9 points of articulation.  This figure uses Dynamo’s armor design from the Valentin Shatalov incarnation of the character, which was the most recent version  of the character at the time of this figure’s release.  It’s got a lot more silver than most Dynamo designs (the cartoon even recolored the whole thing red to keep him consistent with other versions), and is a but thinner, making it much more similar to an Iron Man design.  Personally, I’d have preferred one of the earlier models, but I think it’s fair to say this version worked a bit better with the overall style of the line.  As with all of the Iron Men and War Machines of this line, Crimson Dynamo’s fished look is completed using a base figure with a bunch of clip-on armor pieces.  Dynamo had 9 clip-on pieces, for his chest plate, back plate, gauntlets, belt, boots, and helmet horns.  What’s that you say?  You don’t see any horns on his helmet?  Yep, mine’s missing his.  I’d have borrowed them from my dad’s figure, but his is missing them too.  They have a tendency to go missing.  Why they didn’t just make them a permanent fixture of the head is anyone’s guess.  I can’t imagine why someone would want him without them.  The rest of the armor is cool enough, though I’m not a huge fan of how the boots work, since they make posing the figure a bit difficult.  Another major issue with the figure’s design is linked to his action feature, which launches a missile from the middle of the figure’s torso, resulting in a big hole in the middle of his chest.  Another item that harms the integrity of the figure’s appearance for essentially no good reason.  On the plus side, the paint’s decent enough.  Moderate slop on the edges of the silver, but nothing too terrible.  Beyond the clip-on armor, Dynamo also included a flame-styled projectile, meant to go in that big gaping hole int he torso.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I believe Dynamo was a gift, possibly for Christmas.  I definitely remember getting one of the other Series 4 figures for Christmas that year, so I think Dynamo was part of the same set of gifts.  Honestly, Dynamo is one of the line’s weaker entries.  Off costume choice, and a number of very strange design choices in the actual implementation of the figure.  He’s hardly a bad figure, but he’s still a rather frustrating one.

The Blaster In Question #0049: Stark Strike Blaster

BlasterInQuestion1

STARK STRIKE BLASTER

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR (NERF)

starkstrike1Another week, another late review. One of these days I’m going to get the hang of this. And what’s that? April 1st? Time for jokes and pranks and whatnot. Well, kinda, I don’t have quite the same elaborate gag-posts Ethan pulls off, but this week’s blaster is a joke in and of itself in a way. That’s me saying it’s bad. It’s a bad… you know what? Nevermind. On to the review.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

starkstrike2It’s the Marvel Captain America: Civil War Iron Man Stark Strike Gauntlet Blaster… from Hasbro. At least, that’s what the friendly marketing guy in the video ad for this product told me. It’s the longest name for a Nerf blaster I can think of since the Nerf N-Strike Accu-Zombie Elite Strike Fire Mega Fury Strike Rapid Modulus Strike Fire Strike Strike… from Hasbro. The MCA:CWIMSSGB… fH was released in 2016 as a tie-in product for the Captain America: Civil War film. The blaster uses spring power to launch the dart, but instead of using it to push a plunger into a cylinder to create air pressure, the spring just impacts the dart directly. I’ve mentioned this system a couple times I the past, largely in reference to how terrible it is, and that assessment holds true here as well. The body of the blaster is pretty good, actually, the main feature being that the actual blaster part pops up from the rest of the platform before allowing you to fire. The construction feels solid and the sculpt is all new with starkstrike3some painted gold accent work here and there. The only controls on the blaster are the two buttons on the back, one causes the blaster to pop up, the other fires. Interestingly, due to the nature of the firing mechanism, even if the blaster is primed, it can’t be fired without a dart in the barrel, I assume to prevent the spring from beating the crap out of the internals of the blaster. The strap is small but I can still get it around my adult-sized wrist without too much trouble. Unfortunately, the problem with arm-mounted blasters is that aiming is pretty much out of the question. They say you can’t lick your own elbow, and it seems just about as impossible getting a sight-picture with it too, not that aiming would improve your chances of hitting anything with this blaster. As said before, calling the ranges on this blaster “disappointing” would be the understatement of the month, that is, if it fires at all. More often than not, the shock of the top part snapping up into position is enough to shake the dart forward in the barrel to where it no longer presses on the firing lock, meaning you have to re-seat the dart before the blaster will fire. If it does work, then you can watch the dart go flying up to about 10 or 15 feet. Woo… So unless you have some really emotionally fragile siblings, this blaster won’t help much when you decide to bust into their room and light them up. It’s probably best to leave it back in your room. The Marvel Captain America: Civil War Iron Man Stark Strike Gauntlet Blaster… from Hasbro comes with 2 Eilte darts in red and black but I seem to have lost mine, oh well.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I think It really says something about a blaster when the most enjoyment I’ve gotten from it is hearing the guy in the ad say the full product name and almost forget to mention it’s from Hasbro. Sure I like gimmicky blasters, but that’s predicated on them being blasters first, and this one is pretty awful. Heyyyy jokes! But seriously, though, I wouldn’t recommend this blaster.

 

The Blaster in Question #0045: Battlescout ECS-10

BlasterInQuestion1

BATTLESCOUT ICS-10

MODULUS

battlescout1Sometimes Nerf will announce or unveil a blaster with a particular gimmick to it and all you can do is nod in acknowledgment and hope it at least shoots well. Sometimes it does, but sometimes it really doesn’t. Not to give anything away prematurely, but this week’s blaster is the latter of the two. I’m talking about the Modulus Battlescout. Let’s scope it out.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

battlescout3The Battlescout ICS-10 was released in 2016 under the Modulus line and was intended to bring 2 cool new features to the brand. The first was the use of a new horizontally-feeding clip as opposed to the more traditional Nerf magazines (despite Nerf themselves referring to them as “clip systems”). The clip holds 10 rounds and automatically advances one position when the blaster is primed via the angled front grip. This means the clip starts by sticking out the right side of the blaster and eventually ends up sticking out the right side or potentially even just fully ejecting from the blaster itself if you’re a little too vigorous with the pump action. I was reasonably interested in having a Nerf blaster with this style of feeding mechanism when I first heard about it, and I still think it has potential, it just seems like the execution left a little to be desired. The clip is just too bulky for only holding 10 rounds, and the ratcheting mechanism in the blaster doesn’t hold onto the clip very securely so it’s possible for it to get bumped out of position. The second feature the Battlescout was meant to showcase was the included attachable Nerf “action cam” that could clip onto a Nerf accessory rail. I’m pretty sure no one was excited about this. After the Elite Cam ECS-12 blaster, everyone was familiar with the quality of cameras Nerf was working with and they weren’t great. At least the Cam blaster had a screen so you could pretend the camera was just a scope instead of a dedicated recording device. Not so with the Battlescout. I only took a couple test videos just to see what it was like, but the picture quality was dark and grainy, the sound was tinny and sounded like it was being recorded through several blankets, that is, until you tried shooting the blaster while recording upon which you were treated to one of the most battlescout4horrific sounds I’ve experienced as the noise from all the blaster’s mechanical parts moving was transferred through the plastic to the mic. There also seemed to be some discrepancy between the video and audio recording, as every time I played back a recording on the computer, the longer the video went on, the further and further out of sync the audio got. Long story short, the camera was just bad. What was worse, though, was the fact that its inclusion jacked up the price of the Battlescout to almost $70. Yikes, indeed. “But does it shoot well, at least?” I hear you ask. Well, dear reader, no. No it doesn’t. I can’t quite tell where the problem is, but it’s one of the weakest shooting blasters I can recall from recently. Flaccid is a generous term. More than once, I’ve had shots just tumble out of the barrel followed by the slab of orange plastic getting spat out the side of the blaster, sometimes travelling further than the dart. Not great. I can’t say I’d recommend this one for attacking your siblings unless you’ve got enough of a presence that you don’t have to actually shoot to get your point across, because at the very least, the Battlescout looks cool, and with places to attach a barrel, a stock and anything else besides that camera onto the top rail, you can really dress it up. The Battlescout ICS-10 comes packaged with the Camera, a 10-round clip, and 10 Elite Modulus darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I wanted to like the Battlescout, I really did. It looked so cool and interesting in the pictures. Sadly, it just couldn’t live up to my expectations. Although, I will say, since its initial release, there’s been a Walmart exclusive “battle camo” version with no camera, a stock, and what seems to be reasonable performance. Sure, it doesn’t really match any other blasters, but at least it works, so if you’re determined to get a Battlescout, I’d say go for that one.

 

#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.

#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

BlasterInQuestion1FIRST 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.