#2082: Spider-Man

SPIDER-MAN

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

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

THE FIGURE ITSELF

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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

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

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

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#2061: Captain America

CAPTAIN AMERICA

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

Steve Rogers prepares for the ultimate battle to save the universe and channels all of his strength as Captain America.”

When is an amazing figure not an amazing release?  When the circumstances surrounding that release mean that not everyone who wants it is going to be able to get it.  Exclusives became the nature of the collecting beast years ago, as big box stores began to throw their buying power into guaranteeing they’d have something you couldn’t get anywhere else.  Walmart in particular has a reputation of refusing to carry certain toylines at all until they are granted an exclusive.  They didn’t carry initial assortments of Toy Biz’s Marvel Legends for this very reason, and it was because of this that Best of Marvel Legends came to exist.  Later in the line, they would get an entire series (the Giant-Man Series) to themselves, and boy was that just a pleasant experience for everyone involved.  And if you believed me there, I have a one-handed Giant-Man I’d like to sell you.  I assure you, he’s much better than one with both hands.  In recent years, Walmart exclusives have become less of an issue, but less because they actually got better at making them available and more because toymakers have started giving them less-essential stuff when possible.  I’ve not had too much trouble with the last few Legends releases, but then again, I’ve not felt like they were essential either (I also didn’t have the nightmarish experience getting Corvous Glaive that some collectors did).  Then today’s figure was announced, and I was again less than enthused by this whole exclusives game.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Captain America is the third Walmart-exclusive Legends release this year, but he’s actually the second to hit stores because, as of this writing, their Captain Marvel exclusive still hasn’t been seen anywhere domestically.  Cap actually has had a pretty fast turnaround, as we only found out about his existence two weeks ago, and he seems to be be arriving in full force, at least in physical stores.  He’s based on his newly-designed costume from the final battle of Endgame, and is what I’d classify as the “definitive” Cap look for this movie.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 34 points of articulation.  Since Winter Soldier, all of the standard MCU Caps have been built on the same body.  While I loved it when it was new, that body has grown more and more out of place as the line has moved forward.  We got a taste of something new with the Infinity War Cap last year, which was part of why I was so disappointed when the Marvel Studios release went right back to the WS body, rather than retooling the new one.  I was crossing my fingers that Hasbro wouldn’t make the same mistake when it came time for this costume.  I’m happy to report they didn’t, and, in fact, they’ve given him an almost entirely new sculpt.  From the thigh down, he shares his legs with the IW release, and he has the helmeted head from the Studios offering (which is one of my few nits with this figure, because it means he’s got the smaller ball-joint of the WS body, meaning we once again have a Cap whose heads aren’t compatible with the Quantum Suit body).  Beyond that, everything else is new to this figure.  There’s a second head included, with another go at an unmasked Steve Rogers.  I liked the Studios unmasked head a lot, but I think this one beats it.  They really got Evans’ look from the movie down.  The build of the body takes note from the IW release, and bulks Cap up a fair bit, so he no longer looks quite as shrimpy when compared to the other MCU releases.  The detailing on the uniform is some of the best we’ve seen on a  Hasbro Cap, with the “scales” on his torso and shoulders being a real highlight of the figure.  I also quite like how they’ve made the shoulder pads floating pieces, so that they can slip over the torso when you’re posing him.  It helps to preserve the look and avoid restricting his motion on his shoulders.  The paintwork on this Cap is pretty good, thought I will say parts of it are a step down from other recent releases.  Both heads make use of the face printing, which looks very nice as always.  The paint on the helmet is also improved from the Studios release, which I was quit happy about.  The rest of the body is far more basic in its application, and also quite sloppy in several spots, especially on the abdomen.  It’s not as bad as some of the stuff we used to get from Hasbro, but it could definitely be much better.  In addition to his unmasked head, Cap also gets two more extras.  The first is his shield, which uses the sculpt from the Studios release, but this time has a fancy battle-damaged paint scheme.  Unfortunately, his left hand is still in a fist, so he can’t quite hold it right.  Fortunately, the hands can be swapped between this and the IW release, should you want a gripping hand.  His final accessory is rather cleverly hidden behind his shield in the package.  It’s Mjolnir, which he wields in epic fashion during Endgame‘s final battle.  It’s just a re-use of the previous MCU mold, but it’s still a fun inclusion, and it was nice of them to hide it in the package.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I noted in my review of the basic release of this costume, I walked out of the theatre ready to buy a figure of this design.  It was my assumption that he’d be showing up in one of the regular assortments later down the line, but I did have a little concern in the back of my mind that he might wind up as an exclusive of some sort.  I was non-plussed to find out it was Walmart.  Fortunately, I found him with only a few stops, but it did require me buying a figure with a sincerely jacked up package.  This figure is a really, really good figure, and the MCU Cap I’ve been wanting ever since Hasbro stepped up their MCU game.  He’s the definitive MCU Cap, and making him an exclusive to a chain who is notoriously bad about actually getting their exclusives out there seems like a serious misstep on Hasbro’s part.  My only hope is that they have some sort of an ace up their sleeve on this one.  He’s got a lot of new parts for a one-off release, and I can’t stress enough that he really feels like too big a figure just to be a Walmart exclusive.  Time will tell.  Until then, hopefully this figure won’t be too hard to find.

#2059: Longshot

LONGSHOT

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“Once a slave to the extradimensional tyrant Mojo, Longshot eventually escaped, came ot Earth and joined forces with the X-Men. Armed with razor-sharp throwing knives, his combined abilities of amazing agility and incredible luck allow him to take on the fiercest foes. Recently, Longshot left the X-Men to search for the secrets of his past and travel to parts unknown!”

Have I reviewed a Longshot figure before on this site?  I feel like I have. <checks backlog>  Why yes, yes I have, waaaaaaaaaay back in review #0034.  Wow, that was a while ago.  It also predates me being quite as in-depth with these intros, so I guess I haven’t really talked about him much, apart from saying he’s nobody’s favorite.  Aw, that feels a little bit cruel.  Past-Ethan’s a little bit of a jerk, isn’t he?  Well, on the Longshot front, it’s worth noting that the guy hasn’t had the best luck when it comes to action figures, both in terms of quantity and quality.  He had exactly one figure during the Toy Biz 5-inch days, and that’s the one I’m looking at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Longshot was part of Series 4 of Toy Biz’s ’90s X-Men line.  He falls into one of the line’s most oddball series, with Professor X, Cyclops II, Ahab, Sabretooth II, and the Brood as his fellow releases.  Longshot joined Ahab and the Brood in the club of “not having been relevant in several years” at the time of release.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 7 points of articulation.  He’s a bit more limited in movement than a lot of the other figures from this line, and I’m not entirely sure why.  He’s only got one elbow joint (the left), which is in order to facilitate his knife-throwing action feature.  That I can kind of get.  But he’s also got no neck movement, for seemingly no reason.  That I don’t get.  Were they just not sure how to articulate it with the mullet?  Whatever the case, it’s not doing him any favors.  Also not doing him any favors is the general quality of the sculpt.  This early in the line, Toy Biz’s sculpts were still very hit-or-miss, and this one’s more miss.  It’s largely that head, which just looks downright goony.  Longshot’s usually depicted as being a somewhat charming fellow, but none of that’s visible, unless you are particularly charmed by the face of a chimpanzee.  Which maybe you are.  I’m not one to judge.  But Longshot isn’t classically this simian.  Toy Biz’s sculptors also seem to have understood the basic concept of the mullet, but not really the implementation, resulting in a hairstyle that’s…well, it’s certainly something.  The head is also rather small when compared to the rest of the body, which, it should be noted, is a much better example of sculpting, comparatively at least.  Longshot’s paintwork is fairly standard.  It’s clean and the colors match his usual depictions.  The face again gets the worst work, though, getting those round, wide eyes, making him look like he’s in a constant state of surprise.  Longshot was packed with two knives (in case you lost one, I guess) and a bandolier, which helped to complete his usual look.  He also had the “KNIFE THROWING ACTION!”, where his right arm will swing forward when pulled back.  It’s not the most technically impressive feature, but at least it wasn’t overly intrusive.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t get Longshot new, but I did get him fairly quickly after the fact (probably around 1999-2000), courtesy of Cosmic Comix during one of their legendary Midnight Madness sales back when they were still on Main Street in Ellicott City.  I don’t know exactly why I got Longshot, but I remember wanting him, for one reason or another.  He’s…not a great figure.  Of course, he’s in luck, because he’s not even the worst figure in this particular series (that’s Ahab).  Longshot’s goofy, and not a good take on the character, but I suppose he’s got his own sort of charm.

#1980: Force Link 2.0 Starter Set (w/ Han Solo)

FORCE LINK 2.0 STARTER SET (W/ HAN SOLO)

SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY (HASBRO)

When Hasbro launched their tie-in offerings for The Last Jedi, they launched alongside them a new play gimmick…well, an old play gimmick with a shiny new coat of paint, anyway.  Dubbed “Force Link,” it allowed for all compatible figures and vehicles to enhance their playablitity with sound effects and dialogue.  The whole thing required a reader to activate, and I reviewed that reader back when it was first made available. It was an amusing enough gimmick, but the whole thing ran into trouble just a few short months after its release, since Hasbro had failed to build in figures beyond the TLJ offerings planned when the reader debuted.  Not wanting to completely abandon the concept, but also not wanting to make all of the prior figures obsolete, they used the launch of Solo to offer up a “2.0” version, designed with updates in mind.  This, of course, meant another reader, and thereby another starter set, which I’ll be looking at today.

THE SET ITSELF

The Force Link 2.0 starter set was released alongside the rest of the Solo-themed product in April of last year.  Not quite the grand hurrah of prior toyline launches, but there it was.  The set includes the new version of the reader, as well as standard Han Solo figure.  Both of these items remained unique to this set throughout the line’s run, unlike the first starter set.  As with the first set, the three AAA batteries needed for the reader’s operation are not included.

FORCE LINK 2.0 READER

If you read my review of the first Force Link reader, then there’s not much new about the basics of this one.  It operates using the same NFC partnering between the reader and the figures.  The basic physical design is also the same, albeit with some slight cosmetic changes that better match it to Solo‘s aesthetics.  This mean’s it’s operation in conjunction with the figures is also the same, for good and for bad.  It’s still a tight fit on the wrist, and getting the figures to work as Hasbro intended doesn’t so much go; I again found holding the figures up to the reader directly to be more efficient.  There’s one new feature, which is kind of the selling point of the 2.0, but is also it’s biggest problem.  The new reader is tied-in with a Force Link app (which can be downloaded onto mobile devices), allowing for periodic updates.  This is supposed to fix the issue of the prior reader’s fixed selection of characters to interact with by allowing for new figures to be added via these updates.  So, what’s the problem?  Well, right out of the box, the reader is compatible with the Han Solo it comes packed with…and no one else.  No launch figures, no 1.0 figures, nothing.  Every figure beyond Han will simply give you a “Firmware Update Required” message.  You have to download and launch the app, pair the device to your phone and go through a rather frustrating interface process, all to start a very lengthy firmware update (Hasbro says it can take up to an hour, and mine stuck right to that).  The fact that they couldn’t even have the 1.0 and initial figures ready to go is a real problem, and it’s further hurt by the updates not actually being available when this thing hit shelves.

HAN SOLO

The second half of this set is a Han Solo.  But not just any Han Solo; it’s actually the standard Solo Han Solo.  Yes, unlike the first Force Link reader, which supplied us with a Kylo variant, this time Hasbro decided to make it a more worthwhile figure.  For those planning to buy the set, this is great, since they don’t have to worry about some extraneous offering.  For those not?  Well, it kind of means that Hasbro made a Solo line without a single-carded Han Solo, which, in retrospect, may not have been their finest move.  Moving past that, though, how is the line’s standard Han Solo?  He stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has 7 points of articulation.  He’s rather similar in design to the Han included with the Falcon, but obviously with the jacket added.  He uses the same head, legs, and hands, with a new torso and arms.  It’s a nice, sharp sculpt, and definitely my favorite of the various Hans available in the line.  His paintwork is clean, which is good, since you actually can’t see him in the box.  In fact, he’s probably the best of the Hans…again.  He’s packed with his usual blaster pistol, which he can hold or keep in his holster.  His Force Link sounds are:  “They call me Han Solo.”  “We’ve got company!”  “Blast ’em!” “This better be worth it.” “I don’t run from a fight.”  “Huh, I’ve got a really good feeling about this.” “Okay, stay sharp!” “Wa-hoo!” and then a blaster sound.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

It took a $10 off coupon to get me to buy the first Force Link starter set, so it’s probably not a huge surprise to find out I wasn’t eager to drop full retail on a second one, especially so soon after the first.  So, I clearance-waited on this one, which paid off quite nicely for me, since I was able to snag it for $4 just after the holidays.  Not great for the prospects of the concept continuing, of course.  I can see Hasbro really trying with this set, with the potential for updates instead of having to buy a new reader with every movie, and the avoidance of double-dipping on Han figures like they had with Rey and Jyn.  Unfortunately, the need to update right out of the box, coupled with how mind-numbingly frustrating the update process can be really hinders the fun factor on the reader.  The Han’s a nice figure, but he was stuck in a $30 set, and that’s a real hard sell.  And, ultimately, the fact that you couldn’t get a Han Solo figure in his own toyline without dropping $30 minimum really shot the line as a whole in the foot, which is a real shame, since they weren’t bad figures at all.

#1927: Red Goblin

RED GOBLIN

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

When Norman Osborn merges with the Carnage symbiote, he becomes the villainous Red Goblin.”

Since Norman Osborn’s return to life at the end of “The Clone Saga,” there’s been some confusion about what to do with the character.  His goblin mantle had been filled in his absence by both his son Harry and the mysterious (or at least very illusive) Hobgoblin.  While he has returned to the Green Goblin a few times, there always seems to be something of a caveat to its presence.  He’s also taken on other identities, serving for a time as Marvel’s answer to Lex Luthor, a ruthless business man with no true secret identity, then as a twisted “savior” as the Iron Patriot, and then finally as the leader of an army as the Goblin King.  His latest identity, born from the pages of Amazing Spider-Man #799, is that of the Red Goblin.  Red Goblin is about as clear-cut an example of escalation is serialized fiction as you can get.  He’s the combination of Spider-Man’s greatest foe, Norman Osborn, with the deadlier, more un-hinged spawn of another of his greatest foes, Venom, all in a dark reflection of Spidey’s own time as host to the Venom symbiote.  Hey, when you get to issue #800, you kinda have to pull out all the stops, right?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Red Goblin is figure 6 in the Kingpin Series of Marvel Legends.  He’s the final single-packed figure in the assortment, and the only of the individuals to be a clear-cut villain.  He also marks the second quickest turnaround from page to plastic in this assortment, being beaten out only by the Symbiote Spider-Man created to stop him in #800.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and has 32 points of articulation.  Like the last version of Norman, Red Goblin is built on the Bucky Cap body.  He makes use of Carnage’s tendril-ridden lower arms and legs, as well as his tendril back-pack piece, a sensible bit of re-use, since it’s the same symbiote and all.  He also uses Superior Venom’s feet and 2099‘s hands for properly clawed appendages.  Red Goblin is topped off with a brand-new head sculpt and a tail that’s been stuck to the back of the basic Bucky Cap pelvis.  The Red Goblin design is one that’s very dependent on specific lighting and a fluidity to the design, and because of this, it’s a design that’s not ideal for translation to toy form.  This is evident in the sculpt, and how it looks when viewed from most angles.  The head looks downright comical when viewed straight-on, like an old toothless man.  Also, as versatile as the Bucky Cap body tends to be, I wouldn’t say it really lends itself to “fluid”.  It’s a more realistic, balanced physique, so you throw a cartoony looking head on there and the head just looks even more cartoony.  Not helping matters is the tail, which is a big, solid chunk of unmoving plastic.  I can kind of understand Hasbro’s hesitance to do bendable appendages, with the long term issues that can plague them and all, but on a figure like this, it’s really limiting his play value, and ends up looking downright silly just sitting there in the exact same pose no matter what you do with him.  Furthering the issues with translating the design into three dimensions?  The paint.  They tried.  They really did.  They’re clearly taking a page out of the Carnage playbook with how they handled this, but it just doesn’t work as well with this particular design.  The black sections just look kind of random and blotchy, and there’s too much un-broken red between them to make it look convincingly like the symbiote is in motion.  The hands and feet being solid black also looks goofy, because it kind of looks like he’s running around with opera gloves and some toe-socks.  It’s undoubtedly too clean and too collected, and, again, it just ends up looking comical.  Maybe he’d look better molded in slightly translucent plastic?  Or something with various colors injected in?  It’d be an inconsistent effect to be sure, but I think that would only further help the figure.  He just needed something better than all the solid colors we see here.  Red Goblin is a rather sparsely packed figure, with only a single Carnage-infused pumpkin bomb.  No glider, which seems kind of criminal with any Goblin figure.  He’s also packed with the right leg of Kingpin, which is, without a doubt, the best thing he’s got going for him.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve long felt that Norman Osborn was the sort of character that was better off dead.  Apart from a few decent stories here and there (the Goblin King angle was one I liked), he’s felt like he’s sort of out of place.  I appreciate the Red Goblin concept for what it is, but I can’t say I was that invested in it, nor was I that crazy for a figure of the design.  Having the figure in hand, my feelings really haven’t changed.  He just doesn’t work as a toy, and I struggle to find much to like about him.  I appreciate their attempt to be timely with this release, and he pairs off alright with the Symbiote Spider-Man, but he’s ultimately just not very well-made, and a very clear weak point in the assortment.

Red Goblin was purchased from my friends at All Time Toys.  He’s currently in-stock at their webstore.  If your looking for other Legends or other toys both old and new, please check out All Time’s website and their eBay storefront.

#1651: Big Barda

BIG BARDA

DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS (MATTEL)

“Born on the evil, warlike planet Apokolips, Barda was specially trained in all forms of combat by Granny Goodness. However, she fell in love with Scott Free, a child of peaceful New Genesis raised on Apokolips, and used her warrior skills to help him escape to Earth. Barda accompanied Scott, and they married after he assumed the name of Mister Miracle, world’s greatest escape artist. Since then, she has fought evil alongside her husband, both of them serving in the Justice League of America.”

When it came to DC Universe Classics‘ line-up, there was definitely a penchant for leaning heavily on Jack Kirby’s Fourth World creations.  This is something of a carry over from Kenner’s Super Powers, a line that inspired much of the DCUC line.  One prominent Fourth World member that was absent from Super Powers was Big Barda, who made her debut rather early into DCUC‘s run.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Big Barda was released in Series 7 of DC Universe Classics.  There were two versions of the character available: with helmet and without.  As you may have pieced together from the photo at the top of the review, this one’s the un-helmeted release, which, despite not being a standard look for the character at all, ended up as the easiest of the two versions to find.  Why the decision was made to make it two separate figures, rather than just tossing in the alternate look as an accessory is anyone’s guess, but it’s just the first of the problems that plague this figure.  The figure stands 6 inches tall.  I’m gonna say that again: 6 inches tall.  So, for those of you playing the FiQ home game, double-checking the stats up against prior players reviews, you’ll note that Barda is shorter than the DCUC Mr. Miracle, despite Barda being consistently depicted as a good half foot taller than Scott, and having, you know, “Big” in her name. Kind of an issue.  What’s especially odd about this is the fact that Barda has a completely unique sculpt…so, there’s really no reason for her to be the same size as all of the other female figures.  There’s legitimately no good reason for Mattel to have so badly underscaled Barda.  Apart, of course, from the looming “they’re Mattel and thereby must suck at everything” bit they’ve got going on.  And even from an internal standpoint, she’s still really off, because her arms and legs are really quite scrawny, again, in sharp contrast to that “big” descriptor.  How did nobody along the whole process stop and go “wait, something’s not right here.”  Or maybe they just thought it was an ironic nickname?  Like “Einstein” or “tiny”?  That seems like an appropriately Mattel thing to do, I guess.  If there’s one redeeming aspect to the figure, it’s the paint.  It’s from a time when Mattel was still kind of trying at such things, so she actually has some pretty solid accenting work, especially on things like the chainmail on the arms and legs, where it really helps bring out what few strengths the sculpt actually has.  In terms of accessories, Barda was rather light.  She has her staff and one of Atom Smasher’s arms, and she can’t even hold her staff all that well.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

No super exciting story about acquiring this figure.  A friend of mine bought this figure thinking there was a helmet included, and upon discovering no helmet was included, she handed it off to me.  The sans-helmet figure wasn’t my first choice, and I mostly just kept her because I wanted to finish my Atom Smasher.  She’s a flawed figure.  I can’t really get past that.  On the plus side, with the introduction of DC Icons and its rather diminutive nature, I at least have somewhere to put her.  Yay?

#1830: Spider-Man – House of M

SPIDER-MAN — HOUSE OF M

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Quick on his feet and agile as they come, Peter Parker becomes the wrestling sensation known as Spider-Man.”

Ah, “House of M”, the second in an insanely long line of mid-00s-era events that were designed to “shake the world to its core and break the internet in half.”  Boy was that a greeeeaaat time.  My distaste for most things that Brian Michael Bendis is involved in has been no secret on this site, and “House of M” is certainly high on the list of things that have earned said distaste.  But alternate universe stories are prime choices for variants of main characters, and “House of M” has some decent ones, including everyone’s favorite web-slinger Spider-Man!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

House of M Spider-Man is figure 7 in the SP//dr Series, the second Spider-themed series (I guess third if you count the Venom set) of the 2018 Marvel Legends.  He’s the resident Spider-Man variant of the assortment.  This is the second time we’ve seen the House of M design in this scale; the last one was during Toy Biz’s final year with the license, and was part of their more action-feature-prone Spider-Man line.  This one is his first proper Legends release.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  You remember when I reviewed Pizza Spidey way back when?  Cool.  Well, this figure uses the exact same sculpt as that one.  No surprises there, since the designs really aren’t that far removed from each other, and they’re supposed to be the same guy.  Sensible re-use is sensible re-use.  The main breaking point between the two is the paint.  It’s still not crazy different, since the designs are still quite similar, but it nevertheless captures the slight differences in the costume design.  I gotta say, I actually like the red/blue used on this figure a little more than the basic Spidey, for what its worth.  House of M Spidey includes a web-line piece (which I hope to see become a standard inclusion going forward), and the left leg of the SP//dr Build-A-Figure.  That’s it.  No extra hands.  No unmasked head.  Nothing special.  This late in the game, we shouldn’t be getting any Spidey built on this body without the extra hands.  That’s kinda lame.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

So, dislike of “House of M” aside, I do kinda like this variation of the standard look, and I was certainly interested when he was first shown off.  The web-line in particular had me interested, since we haven’t gotten anything like that yet for the modern Legends.  The final figure gives me mixed emotions.  Just the base figure is actually surprisingly strong, but the lack of any sort of extras really, really hurts him here. I’m not sure why Hasbro opted to cut those extra hands just for this one variant is beyond me.

I purchased House of M Spidey from my friends at All Time Toys.  If you’re interested in buying other Legends figures, or are looking for other cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

The Blaster In Question #0067: Delta Trooper

BlasterInQuestion1

DELTA TROOPER

N-STRIKE ELITE

dtrooper1I’ve talked before about how much I appreciate Nerf’s willingness to update and improve on their designs over time.  It definitely makes me, the consumer, feel that they are trying to present me with the best possible product.  That is, assuming that each iteration is actually an improvement over the last.  One of the most pervasive designs is the Recon from way back in the days of regular N-Strike.  From the Recon, we then got the Retaliator and the Recon Mk2 (which itself had an updated version to fix some issues).  Now I’ll be looking at the latest model of this type of blaster, the Delta Trooper.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

dtrooper2The Delta Trooper was released in 2018 as part of the N-Strike Elite line and moved to fill the role of the Recon Mk2 as the newest version of the slide-primed magazine-fed configurable rifle/pistol thing.  You could be forgiven for thinking it should be an updated version of the Alpha Trooper, but not this time.  It functions exactly like any of its predecessors, but with a new style of magazine release, and more importantly, with slam-fire.  Slam-fire is always nice to see added as there’s really no downside to having it, and I quite like the AR15 style push-button mag release over the latch we typically see.  All put together, it’s a pretty good looking blaster.  It has decidedly more aggressive lines than the Recon or Retaliator, which I enjoy.  Sadly, that is almost all the good things I can say about the Delta Trooper.  Here’s where we start with the complaints.  First and foremost is the ergonomics.  The pistol grip on the DT is a weird size.  It has a decent thickness to it and fills the hand quite well, but it’s about as short as it could possibly be and still fit all my fingers on it.  I could overlook this if it wasn’t made worse by the abrupt hard edge right above where my thumb sits.  If I choke up on the grip, this edge digs rather uncomfortably into my hand which makes me want to move down a bit, but then my pinky is all but falling off the grip.  I’m not exaggerating when I say I had to manually smooth out that edge to make holding this blaster normally a mostly comfortable feat.  Sure, I’ve had blasters with seams that didn’t line up where I’ve done similar modifications for the sake of comfort, but this wasn’t a seam, it was a quirk of the design that I’m surprised no one in testing had issue with.  But what about the other hand?  Well, on the main blaster body there’s a small area that can be used as a fore-grip, but trying to hold the blaster by the barrel, when dtrooper3attached, is again, thoroughly uncomfortable thanks to the design of the shell.  All those visually appealing aggressive lines just do not work with hands, but they also have another drawback.  One of the main features of the Recon/taliator is its customizability with attachments for the barrel, stock, and as rail accessories.  The DT has a stock, though short and blocky with no extra features, and a barrel, which refuses to sit parallel to the main blaster and has the aforementioned ergo problems, but what the barrel does have is the only rail on the entire blaster.  There are no rails on the core blaster itself which means that most options for customization are just gone.  The other issue, while slightly more nit-picky, is the magazine well.  With the included 12-round mag, it works as it should, but with every other magazine I had on hand, it was tight and stiff, nevermind that it simply does not accept the 35-round Raider drum mags.  Sure, the blaster still works, but this isn’t the same level of polish I’m used to seeing from Nerf.  Now, the Recon Mk2 had similar issues and those did get fixed, so maybe an update is in the works, but I’m still a little frustrated with it.  Overall, the construction does seem solid and the performance is good, but these are kind of expected at this point for a full size blaster from Nerf, so they do little to abate my annoyance with the other issues.  The Delta Trooper comes packaged with the stock, barrel, 12-round magazine, and 12 Elite darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

If I’m being honest, from when I first heard about this blaster, my thoughts on it have been a series of concessions.  First I thought it might be a new Alpha Trooper and it wasn’t, but maybe they’re going for a whole assortment of “trooper” blasters.  Then it was shown as only having one rail for the whole kit, but at least it looked really cool.  Then I got one and felt it in my hands and wasn’t thrilled, but maybe performance will justify all of it, but it’s standard Nerf performance.  I won’t go so far as to say I regret buying it, because I don’t, but I do sincerely hope it gets the same treatment the Recon Mk2 got.  Either that or I’ll hold out for the Upsilon Trooper.

#1786: Spider-Ham

SPIDER-HAM

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Part pig, part scientific mishap, Peter Porker becomes the web-shooting swine, Spider-Ham”

Spider-Ham?  It’s come to this?  I’m reviewing a Spider-Ham figure?  Yeah, I know, I’m as shocked as the rest of you.  Even with his elevated status as a variant of Spider-Man, I don’t really know that I ever expected to review a Spider-Ham figure.  Of course, I say this as a guy who just reviewed Poison, a character with far, far less comic book appearances than the esteemed Mr. Porker here, so maybe I’m just overreacting.

Spider-Ham is a 1983 creation, parodying Spider-Man through the lens of an anthropomorphic cartoon animal.  He began his life as a spider, before being bitten by a radioactive pig, causing him to turn into a pig, while still retaining many of his spider abilities.  He’s actually been a pretty recurring staple at Marvel since his creation, and in 2016 met up with his main universe counterpart during the Spider-Verse cross over.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Spider-Ham is figure 4 in the Monster Venom Series of Marvel Legends, and perhaps the one figure in the series who feels more like a straight Spider-Man character than a Venom one.  I guess they just really wanted a counter for all of the ‘90s X-treme-ness that was oozing from the rest of the assortment.  The figure stands 3 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  Okay, so let’s just rip the band-aid right off, shall we?  Spider-Ham’s biggest failing, by a country mile, is his articulation, or rather his lack thereof.  While his upper body is fairly decently articulated (though it’s not as smoothly integrated as I’d like; his arms end up with quite a segmented look), the legs only have simple cut-joints at the calves, and nothing more.  That splayed leg position is all you’re getting out of him.  This is a sincere let-down, especially after Hasbro had just last year addressed a similar problem with their original Rocket Raccoon, and released a fully articulated version for Vol. 2.  There are some characters for whom I could forgive the missing articulation, and I could even forgive it on Ham if he were a pack-in figure or something, but as a single-release figure, this is ridiculous, and quite a step backwards.  In addition, Hasbro seems to be aware of the potential problems with releasing such a small-statured figure on his own, and has subsequently upscaled him a bit, making him too large to properly scale with other figures.  It’s a minor thing, given how infrequently Ham interacts with other characters, but it’s still annoying.  Beyond that, his sculpt’s okay.  The internal proportions are fine, and he certainly looks like Spider-Ham.  The choice to go with sculpted webbing, something that all of the recent Spider-Men have forgone, is sort of an odd one.  It looks fine, but it’s anyone’s guess as to why Hasbro chose this of all figures to give that treatment to, especially since it removes their option to do any black-costumed variant down the line.  I think the oddity of the choice is further highlighted by the decision to leave the webs unpainted, making them easy to miss at first glance.  Also, they’ve used painted red for exactly one part of the figure, his belt, and it’s so obviously a different tone from the rest.  Why not just paint the legs instead? Another mystery.  Spider-Ham includes two accessories, neither of which is actually for him.  The first is the head of Pork Grind, the Venom to Ham’s Spider-Man.  It’s a really nice piece of work, and has been designed to be compatible with the standard Venom from this same assortment.  It’s a nice bonus for those of us who had the Absorbing Man release, and by far my favorite thing about this figure.  Secondly, Ham includes the largest piece of Monster Venom, the torso.  Hasbro used this same pack-out style for both versions of Rocket, so it’s not a huge surprise here.  While I certainly appreciate the two pieces included, given the smaller size of Spider-Ham, I’d have loved to see some extra heads and hands and maybe even a webline thrown in to sweeten the pot.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was so excited when Spider-Ham was announced.  He was one of the two figures in this set I was certain I’d be getting.  The prototype shots made me slightly apprehensive, but I’ve learned not to judge a Legends release by the prototype.  And then I got him in hand, and, well, most of my my problems were still there.  I really, really wanted to like this figure, but the simple fact is that Hasbro dropped the ball pretty hard on this guy.  I wish that weren’t the case.  I wish I could say this was another win for Hasbro, but this figure honestly showcases a number of problems that we haven’t seen from Hasbro in years, and I wouldn’t mistake someone for thinking he was a pre-Return of Marvel Legends release.  I don’t hate him, because I genuinely can’t bring myself to hate a Spider-Ham figure.  I’d rather have this than nothing at all, and I can enjoy him for what he is, but I’m sad that he doesn’t live up to Hasbro’s current standards, and I’m sad that he’s not this Series’ logical star like he should be.

Spider-Ham was purchased from my friends at All Time Toys.  If you’re interested in buying other Legends figures, or are looking for other cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#1779: Girl’s Night Out

SUPERGIRL, LIVEWIRE, BATGIRL, HARLEY QUINN, & POISON IVY

BATMAN: ANIMATED (DC COLLECTIBLES)

Female action figures are, on a whole, a rarity.  This stems largely from the days when the line between action figures and dolls was really just that one was marketed to girls and one was marketed to girls.  But, in the 50 years since the term “action figure” was invented by a marketing department, the definitions have become a little more rigid, and opinions on who collects them have slightly changed.  This is my very long-winded way of saying I’m reviewing my second all-female boxed set in the space of three months, which even by modern standards is kind of cool.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Supergirl, Livewire, Batgirl, Harley Quinn, and Poison Ivy make up the “Girl’s Night Out” boxed set, released last year as part of DCC’s Batman: Animated line.  They’re based on the New Adventures of Batman episode of the same name, which sees Supergirl and Batgirl teaming up to defeat the combined forces of Livewire, Harley, and Ivy.  Only the Superman characters are actually new to this set, with Batgirl, Harley, and Poison Ivy being re-releases of their single figures from the main line, sans most of their accessories.  Since Harley’s new to me, I’ll be reviewing her here, but for my opinion on the other two, go here and here.

SUPERGIRL

For Superman: The Animated Series’ third season, Supergirl was introduced to open up some new story-telling possibilities.  However, due to DC’s then-standing policies on Clark being the only remaining Kryptonian, they had to money around with her origin a bit.  On the plus side, the character remained more or less the same.  This figure replicates her tweaked animated design.  She stands 5 3/4 inches tall and has 24 points of articulation.  Her sculpt is a rather faithful recreation of the design from the show, which is a real first for Supergirl, as her prior animated figures have all strayed from the proper design.  There are some minor nitpicks that can be made, like her head maybe being a smidge too big for the body.  However, that’s really looking for issues, and comes down more to personal preference than anything else.  Her paintwork is very clean, and the colors are bright and eye-catching.  Definitely a nice departure from this line’s penchant for fuzzy edges on everything.  The biggest downfall of this figure (and this set as a whole) is her lack of any accessories outside of a stand.  At the very least, a spare set of fists seems like it should come standard.

LIVEWIRE

After the successful creation and reception of Harley Quinn and Renee Montoya in Batman: The Animated Series, the creators tried their luck again with Livewire (though Livewire *actually* appeared in the tie-in comic before the show).  While she didn’t quite take off the way those two did, she did still pick up a decent fanbase of her own.  She never actually got a figure during S:TAS’s run, but she’s made out alright since the show’s end.  The figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall and she has 23 points of articulation.  Like Kara, her sculpt is quite a good match for her show appearance.  In fact, I even have trouble finding the minor nitpicks like I did with Supergirl.  The proportions are more balanced, and the lines are all very sharp and clean.  Her paintwork is appropriately monochromatic, and the blues interact well with each other.  There’s a little bit of fuzzy work on the edges, but it’s mostly confined to the “emblem” on her torso, where it’s somewhat acceptable, with her being an energy being and all.  She also is only packed with a display stand.  The lack of extra hands is slightly less frustrating for her, since she doesn’t need them as much, but I’m still not 100% okay with it.

HARLEY QUINN

And speaking of successful creations from the DCAU, here’s the character that’s by far the greatest success story, Harley Quinn!  Outside of Batman himself, she’s actually the character with the most figures in this line, which really speaks to her marketability.  This figure is a re-issue of her second single-carded figure, which was based on her TNBA appearance.  Harley is one of the characters whose two appearances weren’t that different, but they were enough for the eagle-eyed fan to need two distinct figures.  This figure stands 5 3/4 inches tall and she has 19 points of articulation.  Okay, so, first thing’s first, let’s discuss the articulation.  You know ankle joints?  Harley doesn’t have those.  Why not?  Your guess is as good as mine.  Apparently, DCC didn’t feel Harley needed them.  They also didn’t feel she needed the ability to stand either, though I guess that’s linked to the lack of ankle movement.  The point is, it really sucks.  Really, really sucks.  Her sculpt is fine, but it reminds me that I prefer the subtle differences of the B:TAS version.  The big head’s throwing me on this one.  I guess it’s not a terrible offering though.  Her paintwork is pretty decent.  The dual-toned color scheme looks sharp, and the application is overall pretty clean.  Like all of the others in this set, Harley’s only accessory is a display stand.  No extra hands, no weapons of any sort.  Nothing.  Not even the accessories from the prior figure.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When the Batman: Animated line launched, I was excited by the prospect of a complimentary Superman line.  It didn’t so much come to fruition, and I’ll admit, two of my most wanted figure from said theoretical line only being available in a big boxed set with two figures I already had kind of killed my excitement.  I ended up getting this set at the same time as yesterday’s DKR set, as a birthday present from my parents.  Supergirl and Livewire are very nice figures, slightly held back by a lack of accessories.  The other three are kind of dead weight.  Harley’s easily the worst version of the character from the line, and while Ivy and Batgirl are perfectly fine figures in their own right, having to buy them again, and not getting any accessories the second time around is really lame.  And a note to DCC:  if you’re only going to include a single set of hands, can you at least make it something more useful than the limp open palm?  This set’s begging for some cool fight set-ups, but as it currently stands, all they’re really prepared for is a big slapping fight.