#2832: The Hood

THE HOOD

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

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

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

THE FIGURE ITSELF

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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

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

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

#2816: Carnor Jax

CARNOR JAX (AKA KIR KANOS)

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

NOTE: This review was written before June 6th.

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

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

THE FIGURE ITSELF

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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

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

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

#2643: Han Solo – Endor

HAN SOLO — ENDOR

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

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

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

THE FIGURE ITSELF

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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

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

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

#2513: Shiklah

SHIKLAH

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

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

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

THE FIGURE ITSELF

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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

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

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

#2412: Space Marine Drake

SPACE MARINE DRAKE

ALIENS (NECA)

Specialty: Never defeated in hand to hand combat

Home Planet:  Detention Planet 27, Requist System

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

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

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

THE FIGURE ITSELF

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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

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

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

#2371: Harley Quinn

HARLEY QUINN

DC MULTIVERSE (MCFARLANE)

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

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

THE FIGURE ITSELF

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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

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

#2349: Green Lantern

GREEN LANTERN

DC ESSENTIALS (DC COLLECTIBLES)

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

THE FIGURE ITSELF

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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

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

#2300: Luke Skywalkwer – Yavin Ceremony

LUKE SKWALKER — YAVIN CEREMONY

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

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

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

THE FIGURE ITSELF

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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

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

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

#2290: Captain America

CAPTAIN AMERICA

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

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

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

THE FIGURE ITSELF

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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

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

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

#2250: Supreme Leader Kylo Ren

SUPREME LEADER KYLO REN

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

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

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

THE FIGURE ITSELF

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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

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