#2634: Iron Giant



Robots sure were a somewhat common theme amongst the gifts I received this year for Christmas, and when it comes to robots, a fairly early one in my personal lexicon is The Iron Giant, Brad Bird’s lovely ’50s period-piece animated film from 1999.  I saw it in the theatre, I had the poster up on my wall, and I’ve had a small little collection of the admittedly small selection of merchandise to come out of the film.  There’s been a bit of of an uptick in stuff from the movie in recent years, including some offerings on both the lower and higher end.  I’ve covered a couple of the lower-tier items on the site previously, but now I’m jumping into the higher end, with an offering from my rather recent discovery, 1000Toys!


The Iron Giant was released by 1000Toys as part of the Riobot imprint, where he’s figure #019.  This is the standard version of the Giant, but there’s also a Battle Mode Giant from the film’s climax.  But the standard’s really where it’s at, and that’s where I’m at too.  The figure stands 7 1/4 inches tall and he has 33 points of articulation.  The Giant continues the trend of the 1000Toys figures I’ve had of being very nicely articulated.  This one’s not so much about the quantity as much as it is the quality of those joints.  The most impressive piece of design work is the neck and jaw, which are technically one joint, but a very smartly designed one.  It’s a ball joint, which the jaw piece clips onto first, thereby allowing the mouth the much more fluid range of motion the Giant’s jaw demonstrates in the film.  It’s key to getting some of his more notable expressions, and I particularly enjoy the ability to give him that lopsided look that he uses when he is confused.  It’s a subtle thing, but it really works well.  One area I was initially disappointed by was the elbow movement, which I at first found to be very surprisingly limited.  Like, not even getting past 45 degrees levels of disappointing.  What, did Mattel design this figure?  Not to worry, though.  It turned out I’d just not fully loosened up all of the joints, specifically the sliding component on the forearms, which allows them to move further down and get the elbows a much deeper bend.  It’s another clever design, and one that again adds a lot of potential to the figure’s range of motion.  Additionally, the tolerancing on all of the joints is nice and smooth, while still being tight enough to hold the poses.  In order to give the Giant that proper sort of heft, a good portion of the figure is made from die cast parts.  Some of the smaller parts, such as the head and lower arms, are plastic, so as to prevent any issues with wear or breakage.  The sculpt itself is quite a nice piece of work.  It takes the animation model and does a very solid job of replicating it in proper figure form.  It’s clean, sharp, and properly geometric, and the proportions are all pretty much spot on.  The layers to the sculpt are well rendered, and it’s just a nice and slick looking figure.  The Giant’s color scheme isn’t exactly the most complicated thing, being pretty much just variants on grey.  The figure sticks to that, of course, but does a pretty bang up job of making it not totally bland or too basic.  There’s quite a bit of variance in the types of grey, and the application is all really sharp and clean.  The Giant has a pretty impressive selection of parts.  Obviously, they split all of the specific Battle Mode stuff into a separate figure, but this guy still gets four different heads with slight variations on how his eyes are configured (fully open, fully closed, angry, and concerned), two different jaw pieces (with and without his lower teeth), a set of upper teeth to clip onto the heads, three sets of hands (in fists, open gesture, and flat), and the “S” sign he uses when playing “Superman” with Hogarth.  There’s again a lot of subtlety to some of these parts, especially the heads, but there’s also a lot of variation possible, making for some very fun posing.


The Iron Giant is a movie I fondly remember seeing in the theatre with my parents, and one of those instances of me wanting to immediately run out from theatre and buy a toy of the Giant, which I in fact did.  Over the years, I lost the hands to that one (because they didn’t ever really stay in securely), and I’ve been really looking for a real proper upgraded Giant figure for a little while now.  I’ve been really liking everything I’ve gotten from 1000Toys, and I’d been eyeing this guy for a little bit.  My parents were nice enough to get him for me for Christmas this year.  He’s really an awesome offering, and just so much fun.  I’m definitely glad to have this guy in my collection.

#1333: Noisy Boy



“The Magma Mangler – Strength: 5%, Speed: 45%, Intelligence: 45%, Special Moves: 5%”

I think I’ve mentioned before on this site that I’m quite a fan of robots.  So, in that respect, it’s probably not a huge surprise that one of my favorite movies in the last decade was Real Steel, a movie about fighting robots.  Based on Richard Matheson’s short-story “Steel,” the movie is essentially two hours of Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots.  Which is seriously awesome.  The movie’s also full of super awesome robot designs, which make for some cool toys.  Jakks Pacific picked up the license and actually put out just about every ‘bot seen in the movie.  Today, I’ll be looking at a personal favorite of mine, Noisy Boy, the Magma Mangler!


Noisy Boy was released on the first series of Jakks’ basic Real Steel line (there was also a larger deluxe version released, but the basic line had a larger selection, so that’s the one I went with that one).  The figure stands about 5 inches tall and has 16 points of articulation.  The movement could be a little better.  As it stands, he lacks bicep swivels, a neck joint, and any sort of torso movement.  The figure has a light-up feature, which is why the neck and torso movement isn’t there, but I don’t think there’s any excuse for the missing bicep movement.  He manages alright without it, but it’d definitely add a lot to the figure.  Slight mobility issues aside, his sculpt is actually quite good for the price point.  Some of the details have been softened a bit (especially the spikes on the shoulders, which are now little more than tiny nubs), but all of the important bits are there, and there’s a surprising amount of detail in the legs in particular.  Overall, not a bad sculpt at all, especially from a company like Jakks, who fall more towards the middle of the pack.  The paint work on Noisy Boy is okay; what’s there is generally pretty clean (there’s a little bit of slop on the head, but it’s minor).  The only real issue is that there are a number of missing details, specifically the Japanese characters on his chest and shoulders.  It’s a little frustrating that they’re missing, but they were likely cut due to cost consideration (this is supported by the deluxe figure’s inclusion of the extra details).  Noisy Boy included no accessories, but he had the same mix and match feature employed by all of the smaller-scale figures, allowing for his arms and legs to be switched out with any other compatible figures.


I loved Real Steel when I saw it in theaters, so it’s not a huge surprise that I went out and bought the figures afterwards.  Noisy Boy was the first figure I got, grabbed from my local Target the day after I saw the movie.  He was the last figure left in the store, which was pretty fortunate, since he was the one I wanted the most.  He’s got some minor issues, but all-in-all, he’s still a pretty solid offering.

#1223: Rodney Copperbottom




Does anybody else remember Robots?  That CGI comedy from 2005 about a world entirely populated by goofy robots, which starred like a dozen big-name actors?  I myself only remember it every so often, when I see my DVD copy of it sitting on my shelf.  Back when it was released, I actually thought it was really amusing, and I still enjoy it when I sit down and watch it.  But, it just doesn’t seem to have had any sort of lasting impact or anything.  It did manage to get some action figures when it came out, so that’s a plus.  Today, I’ll be looking at one of the many variations of lead character  (and Ewan McGregor-voiced) Rodney Copperbottom.


rodney2Mattel had the license for Robots, and there were several different scales offered, with less and less characters offered as the scale got larger.  Today’s figure hails from the 7-inch line, which gave us both Rodney and his friend Fender (voiced by Robin Williams in the film).  This scale offered probably the best figures Mattel offered from the license, but at the cost of offering only two characters.  The figure stands about 7 inches tall and he has 16 points of articulation.  The scale is a little odd, since it doesn’t really go with anything, but the styling doesn’t really match up with anything either, so I guess it’s not a big deal.  The articulation is somewhat low by modern standards, but was pretty solid for a non-Marvel Legends line of the time.  In terms of design, Rodney offered a lot of the typical retro-robot design elements, albeit fed through a George Lucas/Ridley Scott used-future sort of filter, and then polished off by a Disney artist.  Are you following all of that?  Yeah, me neither.  The figure actually does a pretty remarkable job of capturing the in-film design for Rodney, which is more than could be said for most of Mattel’s output from the film.  Some of the details are a little on the soft side, but the general look of this figure is actually pretty solid.  The springs on the shins and waist are separate pieces, which is fun, and the waist one is even an actual metal spring (with a weird spinning feature attached to it).  The paintwork for Rodney is decent enough.  One of the issues that plagued all of the Rodney figures was Mattel’s uncertainty as to exactly what shade of blue Rodney was supposed to be.  They were pretty much all a different hue.  This one’s probably the closest, but still seems a bit too warm.  On the plus side, the rest of the paint is pretty good, with clean base work (apart from some slight bleed over around the eyes), and some rather impressive rust detailing on the silver bits of his arms and legs.  Rodney was packed just on his own, with no cool extras or anything, which kinda sucks, since there was some pretty cool stuff they could have given him.


I didn’t get Rodney when he was new, for whatever reason.  It’s strange, because I liked the movie a lot, so you’d think I’d track down one of the line’s best figures, but I didn’t.  I ended up finding him at 2nd Avenue while I was there with my brother.  Like everything else I’ve ever gotten there, he was in a bag of several other un-related figures, for $2 or something.  That was enough for me to take the plunge on him.  I’m really glad I did, because he’s a surprisingly fun action figure.  Now I kinda want the Fender figure to go with him.

#0862: Robot Soldier




Every so often, I like to take a look at a model kit. There’s a lot of cool snap-kits out there, which not only give me the fun of building a model, but I also get to have a fully functioning toy when I’m done with building. That’s one hell of an incentive, for me anyway. I’ve looked at three of these kits so far, all of which have been based on Gundam, a property I’m not super familiar with. So, I was more going for a cool looking toy at the end of the ride, without a whole lot of emotional attachment to any of the figures I was building. Well, today, I’m actually looking at a kit I got for the sole purpose of getting a cool figure of a character I really like, though the figure’s still a little outside of my usual area of expertise. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the Robot Soldier from Castle in the Sky, or as it’s known in Japan, Laputa: Castle in the Sky.


CitSRobot2The Robot Soldier is one of two Castle in the Sky-based model kits from Fine Molds (the other is the Robot Gardener, which is really just this set, but with different arms). The set was released in early 2011, in time for Laputa’s 25th anniversary. The figure is 1/20 scale, so he stands about 7 inches tall and fully assembled, he has 36 points of articulation. The articulation isn’t super flexible; he won’t be getting into many crazy poses beyond standing/walking. The shoulders are quite mobile, but the hips, for instance, don’t do anything but move side-to-side. What’s there is perfectly serviceable, so I can’t really complain. The robots from Castle in the Sky actually have a pretty neat heritage; they were inspired by the robot attackers from the Fleisher Superman serial “Mechanical Monsters,” a serial that would also inspire similar robot designs in Lupin III, Batman: The Animated Series, and the film Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. As the Robot Soldier, he’s officially based on the first of the two main robots we see in the movie. It’s the harsher of the two designs, though it’s mostly just about the arms, which are all spikey here (in the movie, the spikes allow for wings, giving the robot the ability to fly). The sculpt does a pretty great job of capturing the design from the film, and making it look decent in three dimensions. The only real point of inaccuracy is the hips. In the film, they sort of round off into his waist, but on the figure, they end in a fairly straight line. In the figure’s defense, the hips of the robot in the movie are a classic case of cheating the angles. As they are shown in the movie, there’s no practical way for them to work, so they had to be tweaked. One of the best things about this guy’s sculpt is the texture work; the film is cel-animated, so the robots shown therein are mostly devoid of any real texture, just for the sake of easier animation. However, the shading and such of the ‘bots is done in such a way to suggest a slightly rough texture to them, were they to exist in real life. This figure has a nice, ripple-y effect on all of his pieces, barring the visor and neck. This gives the figure a visually intriguing look, and has the added benefit of hiding the imperfections and such caused by breaking the parts of the figure off of their mold trees. Also, it should be noted that, while many snap-kit figures tend to feel light-weight, and of a slightly lower quality than a mass-produced figure. This is not the case with this guy, who is easily the sturdiest kit I’ve put together, and feels not unlike a figure you might buy fully assembled. As with all snap kits, there there’s no paint on this guy. Some kits use stickers to make up for this, but this guy doesn’t, instead letting all the separate pieces be molded in the appropriate colors. This actually works really well, and he doesn’t feel lacking at all. The Robot is packed with a little scale figure of Pazu. He doesn’t have any articulation, and the lack of paint is plain as day here, but it’s cool to have gotten him. One thing I do feel is missing is some sort of an extra attachment to swap out for the lower half of the left arm. The main Robot Soldier we see in the movie is lacking said arm, so being able to showcase this look would have been nice.


Until the last two years, I had never actually watched a Miyazaki film. This changed when I started dating Super Awesome Girlfriend, who is a huge fan of Miyazaki’s work. Castle in the Sky was the third of Miyazaki’s films I saw, and I fell in love with it immediately. The awesome Robots therein played no small part in this. After seeing the movie, I made an off-hand mention of how I wouldn’t mine owning a figure of one of the Robots. Super Awesome Girlfriend showed just how much she pay attention, and presented me with this kit as a Valentine’s Day gift this year. I then spent an hour or two putting the guy together, with a bit of help from my buddy Tim. This is an awesome figure, and I’m super thrilled to have gotten him. Easily my favorite of the snap-kits I’ve gotten, and just a great figure in general!

#0760: Maria




What’s this? A silent film character on this site? What, am I trying to inject some culture or something?

As surprising as it may be, my interests do actually go beyond modern day entertainment and action figures. I love me some old silent movies, Fritz Lang’s Metropolis in particular. That movie’s got a lot going for it: cool dystopian setting, art-deco look, underground civilizations, gripping fight scenes, a crazy mad-scientist, and one of the coolest freaking robots of all time! Maria, the robot who became the film’s signature character(who actually stole the name from the film’s female protagonist. It’s Frankenstein all over again!), would go on to influence a number of other robots, with Star Wars’ C-3PO probably being the best known. She’s received a few pieces of merchandise over the years, including an action figure, which I’ll be looking at today!


Maria2Maria was part of the second series of Silent Screamers, dubbed Reel Masters line, and released in 2000. Interestingly, while this series was released by Mezco, the first series was actually released by Aztech Toys. Aztech ended up splitting into two separate companies, Art Asylum (creators of Minimates, among other things) and Mezco. So, this series ended up being one of Mezco’s very first products. The figure is about 7 inches tall and has 13 points of articulation. While she is ostensibly based on her robotic appearance from Metropolis, Maria’s design has definitely been tweaked a bit for this figure. The original Maria design is kind of a classic for a reason, so changing the design is shaky ground to stand on at best. Mezco opted to go for a more modern design aesthetic, or at least an early 2000s design aesthetic. In the film, Maria’s look was built around an actual person, so she definitely wasn’t rail thin. Here, however, Mezco is taking advantage of the fact that there isn’t a person inside the figure, so they can give it whatever proportions they like. So, this Maria is really tall and quite lanky.  That’s a reasonable change. However, for some reason, they’ve also given her a pair of rather large breasts, and a pair of crazy high-heeled/platform shoes, which don’t really work well with the design, since Maria’s not really supposed to be overly-sexualized, especially not while in her robot form. Her face has also been tweaked to be more human, which kind of deprives the figure of the necessary cold, steely look.  In addition, the general retro-y, art-deco nature of Maria’s original design has been tweaked, to look a bit more like something that wouldn’t look completely out of place in, say, an early Image comic. The end result is a sculpt that is still clearly Maria, but just feels really off. On the plus side, her paint is actually pretty cool. She’s mostly silver; for some reason, I had always assumed she was gold, but I guess silver’s reasonable. She’s also got some blue accent work, which looks pretty sharp, and looks pretty nifty next to the silver. Maria includes the chair used to bring her to life. Like Maria herself, its design has been tweaked a bit, though nowhere near as much. The chair and stand need to be assembled once removed from the box, and those tubes are a bit of a pain to get into place, but the end result looks pretty cool. Plus, the figure ends up looking a fair bit better sitting in the chair than she does standing. The only real downside is that she has to sit with such a wide stance, due to her hip joints.


I’ve been a pretty big fan of Maria from about 5 years old or so, even before having seen Metropolis (in fact, I saw Metropolis because it was the movie in which Maria appeared). My dad had one of the Maria statues, which I always though was pretty cool. I remember this figure being released, but I don’t think I ever saw it in a store, so I never got one. I ended up getting her as a birthday gift from my pal Phil just this past year. This figure’s far from perfect, but she’s also the only action figure of Maria on the market, and she’s not the worst thing ever. If you’re a fan of Metropolis or cool robots, you could do a lot worse.

#0110: Funland Robot



Scooby Doo where are you?  That’s actually a good question to ask when examining my action figure collection.  You see, I own exactly 2 figures from Scooby Doo, and neither of them is the title character (or Shaggy for that matter).  It’s not that I don’t like Scooby Doo, or anything.  Just, for whatever reason, I never really picked up any of the figures outside of the two that I had a specific interest in owning.  Today’s figure comes from my favorite episode of the original series, “Foul Play in Funland.”  The episode was a bit out of the ordinary, as it featured an out of control robot named Charlie, which actually turned out to be an out of control robot, not some guy in a mask pretending to be one.


The Funland Robot was released as part of the second series of Scooby Doo figures released in 2000 by Equity Marketing, Inc.  He stands about 9 inches tall and features 7 points of articulation.  The sculpt is fairly basic, but that’s pretty accurate to the show.  I feel that the head might be a bit to long for Charlie’s design on the show, but it isn’t too terrible, especially since Charlie did have a tendency to look different from frame to frame.  For the most part, Charlie is molded in the appropriate colors, with minimal paint for the gloves, boots, and then most of the paintwork appearing on the head.  There’s a few questionable choices, chief among them being that Charlie seems a bit too bright for the character on the show.  In particular, his torso being pink seems to be quite off, as it was more of a darker purple in the show.  The head is overall well done, though there is an odd choice to paint most of the jaw a pale indigo color.  I’m not really sure why they did that, since it should just be the same color as the rest of the face, which would have actually saved them a pass with the paint.  Oh well.  The Funland Robot was packed with a giant magnet that could be attached to his back, and a funhouse mirror.


Charlie’s always been one of my favorite characters from the old Scooby Doo series.  He’s the main point of my favorite episode, plus he’s also a robot, which is one of my favorite things, so he just added up to a whole lot of cool.  When the Funland Robot was announced back in 2000, I knew I most definitely wanted one.  My parents paid close attention to this, and he was amongst my birthday gifts for that year.  While he may not be a perfect figure, he’s one that I really enjoy.