#1766: Storm

STORM

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“An affinity for the magical elements make Ororo Munroe the mistress of weather manipulation Storm.”

….”affinity for the magical elements”?  That…that doesn’t seem quite right for Storm.  Her powers aren’t “magical.”  Darn it, Ethan, there you go critiquing bios again.  Knock it off!

Though one of the most prominent X-Men by far, Storm’s had rather a storied history when it comes to action figures, especially Marvel Legends.  In the whole run of the line, she’s only had two prior figures, one during Toy Biz’s tenure, and one during Hasbro’s.  Hasbro’s pulling a head of the game, though, and bringing their number up to a whopping two!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Storm is figure 5 in the Apocalypse Series of Marvel Legends.  Her last Hasbro release was based on her then-current Marvel Now appearance.  This one goes more classic (though exactly how classic the design is has been slightly up for debate), giving us Storm’s punk look from the late ’80s.  The Now figure also had a mohawk, giving us a slight taste of this design, but this one goes full-on.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall to from her feet to the top of her head (the mohawk adds another half an inch) and she has 27 points of articulation.  Storm’s starting point is the casual-wear jeans and a t-shirt body introduced last year for Mary Jane and Jessica Jones.  On top of that, she gets the jacket and glove cuffs from Rogue, as well as a new head, upper torso, boots, and belt.  The base body is a fairly decent starting point for this particular Storm design.  I suppose an argument could be made that Storm should have a slightly larger stature, but I don’t think she’s too far off.  Certainly not as bad as prior Storm offerings.  The borrowed Rogue pieces, though not perfect matches for Storm’s garb from the comics, are close enough to warrant the re-use.  That just leaves the newly sculpted pieces, which are quite nicely rendered.  I was actually a little surprised that the head was an all-new piece, as I’d somewhat expected it to be a re-use from the prior Storm figure.  I was glad to find it was a new piece, as this one takes the decent starting point of the prior sculpt, and adds an additional layer of character, to both the facial expression and the slight tussled nature of the hair.  It’s a good match for her rye personality from the comics at the time she was sporting this look.  To be completely accurate to the comics, she should really have gotten a band on her arm, but that’s a relatively minor detail.  Storm’s paintwork is on par with the usual work we’ve been seeing lately.  The application is all clean, and the all-black costume is quite slick looking.  Oddly, she’s actually gotten a painted detail she didn’t need.  They’ve painted an exposed midriff on her torso, when it should technically be a full shirt, and thereby just be black like the rest of the shirt.  I can’t say I mind the change, though, and it doesn’t seem all that out of place with this particular look.  Storm is packed with a pair of lightning effects (the same ones included with Magneto and Thor; now we’ve got them in a whole array of colors), which technically she wouldn’t have with this costume, what with having lost her powers and all, but it would seem odd to get a Storm figure without them.  She also includes the torso of the Build-A-Figure Apocalypse.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Neither of the last two Storm Legends were particularly easy to get.  I fully intended to grab the last Hasbro figure but, well, that didn’t happen.  I’ve been hoping for another shot at Storm since then.  Storm was another birthday gift from my Super Awesome Fiancee (I guess there was a mohawk theme going on).  While this look isn’t my first choice (I’m still hoping for that First Appearance figure we were teased with back in 2007), I’m happy to have gotten any look at all, really.  She’s a solid figure to be sure.

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#1758: Captain America & Crossbones

CAPTAIN AMERICA & CROSSBONES

MARVEL LEGENDS — MARVEL STUDIOS: THE FIRST TEN YEARS

Although the Avengers survive a strike by Crossbones on Lagos, dozens of civilians are killed in the altercation. As a result, the team is presented with the Sokovia Accords – an agreement designed to keep the heroes in check – and must individually choose which side of the law they stand with.”

Like Guardians of the GalaxyCaptain America: Civil War was fortunate to come late enough in the MCU game that Hasbro was finally comfortable actually doing a pretty decent line-up of tie-in Legends.  However, while it got greater coverage than prior entries, it also had a far larger roster of characters in need of figures.  While Hasbro did their best to include everyone they could (and then to follow up and fill some of the gaps using Infinity War), the heroes really ate up all of the slots.  If nothing else, this Marvel Studios anthology line has really been about the bad guys.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Cap and Crossbones are entry 9 in the Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years sub-line of Marvel Legends.  Both figures are based on the characters as they appear in Civil War‘s opening battle.

CAPTAIN AMERICA

America’s first super soldier, Captain America must decide if he stands by his government in the aftermath of a disastrous strike on Lagos, Nigeria.”

Now, before we get to the new hotness, let’s review the old busted.  Okay, perhaps “busted” isn’t a completely fair assessment of things here.  While Cap wasn’t without a figure from Civil War (he got two, in fact; helps to have your name in the title), there’s no denying that the figure we received had some issues. This one is meant to amend….some of those issues.  I’ll get to that.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  Pretty standard stuff there.  Now, the good news is that Cap has received not one, but two different new head sculpts.  He’s got both helmeted and un-helmeted.  Both heads are very good sculpts.  The helmeted head has a decent likeness of Evans (or at least what you can see of him), and via its use of a separate piece for the helmet, has a great sense of depth to his look that prior MCU Caps have not.  The un-helmeted head edges out the other one just a bit, in no small part due to the absolutely spot-on likeness of Chris Evans.  After years of “close but not quite,” this guy gets it down nearly perfect.  Alright, I’ve raved about the good.  Ready for the bad?  You know those two amazing head sculpts that Hasbro produced, that can finally replace the two sub-par ones we’d been dealing with since Winter Soldier?  Well, they went and slapped them on the slight variation of that body from Age of Ultron.  I was already frustrated by its re-use for the original Civil War release, given the inaccuracies of the costume details, as well as the somewhat scrawny nature of the limbs.  It’s made even more egregious by the fact that Hasbro created an entirely unique mold for the Infinity War Cap, which is, canonically, wearing the same uniform as this figure.  With a handful of new pieces, that mold would have made for a far more accurate body for this figure.  Instead, for the third time, we get a Civil War Captain America whose costume is just incorrect.  That’s a real shame.  On the plus side, he does get new paint to match those new parts.  The body isn’t far removed from the prior release, but both heads are now sporting the face-print tech, which makes a world of difference in terms of making him look like a real person.  In addition to the new unmasked head, Cap also has his shield, which is another new sculpt.  I like this one better than prior releases, though I can’t really say it’s too noticeably different.

CROSSBONES

“A Hydra agent and former double-agent at SHIELD, Crossbones makes it his mission to take out Captain America, no matter the loss of life at stake.”

And here we have the new hotness.  Crossbones may not be in Civil War for super long, but he had a very important roll to play, and, more importantly when it comes to toys, he had a pretty sweet design.  At the time of the movie’s release, he got a Minimate and one of those Microverse figures, but that was all.  Obviously, that means this figure is a very welcome addition.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  Unlike his pack-mate, his sculpt is completely new.  It’s quite an impressive piece of work, with lots of separately sculpted pieces that just give the whole figure a ton of depth.  I love the helmet, especially the way they’ve handled the eyes; they’re a separate piece from the actual mask, so it looks like there’s really a whole face under there.  The vest and his “fighting fists” are likewise separate pieces, although in this case they’re removable.  The vest isn’t really meant to be removed, though, so the underlying torso’s a little off.  The figure’s legs also end up looking a little bit wonky, but that’s about the only complaint I can come up with, and even that’s a rather minor one.  Crossbones’ paintwork is fairly decent.  A lot of it’s very subtle, with just some slight variations of black and dark brown.  The white parts stand out quite well, though, and I love how the eyes turned out.  Crossbones is packed with an extra un-masked head, depicting his scarred visage from the film.  It’s actually a little bit toned down from the movie, but close enough to get the point across.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Cap and Crossbones are actually the last of these figures that I got, though they were still picked up for me by my Super Awesome Fiancee.  They arrived at her work about a week after the others.  This set was second on my list, after Ronan.  Crossbones was just a really cool design that I really wanted a good figure of, and I was hopeful that the second try at the Civil War Cap would be much better.  Crossbones lives up to my expectations, no denying that.  Cap?  Well, like the last several MCU Caps I’ve gotten from Hasbro, he’s frustrating.  Sure, the new heads are awesome, but saddling him with the same old body is super weak, and prevents him from being the definitive Cap I was really hoping for.  I guess there’s always Avengers 4

#1756: Red Skull

RED SKULL

MARVEL LEGENDS — MARVEL STUDIOS: THE FIRST TEN YEARS

Obsessed with the power of the Tesseract, Johann Schmidt teams up with Dr. Arnim Zola to create a super-charged arms force that will change the fate of World War II…and the world.

Hydra leader Johann Schmidt creates Tesseract-powered weapons to destroy American cities, but doesn’t anticipate interference from newly-dubbed hero, Captain America.  In their first meeting, Schmidt removes his mask to reveal crimson skin, a signature that has earned him the name ‘Red Skull.'”

The MCU has run through an interesting period when it comes to tie-in toys.  Iron Man kicked things off with some Legends-esqe figures, which were a decent hit with the fanbase.  By the time of IM2, Hasbro was in the midst of their push for 3 3/4 inch figures, so it, and all of the movies up to Captain America: Winter Soldier would be in that smaller scale, with only a few choice offerings at the larger scale.  The recent shift has been completely to the Legends scale, but thanks to the rapid pace at which the MCU films hit, there are more than a few prominent characters missing from the line-up.  In honor of the MCU’s tenth anniversary, Hasbro’s put together a special sub-line of Marvel Legends, devoted to celebrating those prior films.  I’m kicking things off today with a look at one of the most prominent missing villains, the Red Skull!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Red Skull is entry 2 in the Marvel Legends — Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years sub-line of figures.  He’s one of the three standard single-packed figures in the line-up, alongside the Mark VII Iron Man and Ronan the Accuser.  This figure gives us Red Skull in his more basic Hydra uniform, as he’s seen inside the Hydra base during several sequences of the film (there’s also a long-coated variant, which was offered at SDCC this year). Perhaps not his coolest look, but there’s a good reason for this choice.  He stands 6 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  He’s sporting a brand-new sculpt, which is a pretty solid recreation of Skull’s look from the movie.  The head has a teeth-gritting expression, which is always a nice throw-back to the Skull’s earlier comics design.  Thanks to it being released 7 years after the fact, it’s also able to be far more accurate to the film’s Skull face than it would have at the time of the movie, so hey, bonus!  The body captures his uniform pretty well, though the articulation is perhaps not as worked into the sculpt as I might like. It’s especially noticeable at the mid torso joint; I feel an ab-crunch might have worked a little better there.  That said, it’s hardly the worst implementation of articulation I’ve seen.  He’s still got decent mobility, and the sculpt isn’t too terribly broken because of it.  The paintwork on this guy is pretty usual fare for an MCU release.  It’s pretty cleanly applied, and matches well to the movie.  The head actually gets some pretty subtle accent work all throughout, so that it’s not just a big chunk of bright red plastic with some eyes.  Speaking of eyes, the ones on this figure are using the printed technique, which doesn’t have quite the same impact here that it does on more human looking figures, but it does still make at least some difference.  Remember up at the top, when I said there was a good reason for this figure’s costume choice?  Well, the accessories are where that comes into play.  Skull doesn’t get anything character specific, but he does get three extra heads, a tactical harness, a Hydra gun, and an extra hand, allowing him to be turned into a few different configurations of the Hydra Soldier.  Sure, the uniforms aren’t quite an exact match, but they’re close enough to work in a pinch, and it’s really the thought that counts.  As an added bonus, if you’ve got any of the Black Series FO Officer bodies laying around, with a tiny bit of modification, they work pretty well for quickly building an army.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Red Skull was purchased for me by my Super Awesome Fiancee.  She got a few of the Marvel Studios sets in at her work, and was kind enough to grab them for me.  First Avenger was my favorite of the Phase 1 films, so I was always rather saddened that it seemed to draw the short straw when it came to toys.  I’m glad that Hasbro’s been able to go back and retroactively amend that.  Red Skull isn’t a perfect figure, but I’d say he’s a fair bit better than he would have been had he been released at the time of the movie.  The added Hydra Soldiers pieces are just icing on the cake.  Now I’m resisting the urge to buy multiples…

#1751: Clone Commander Wolffe

CLONE COMMANDER WOLFFE

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Clone Commander Wolffe (clone designation CC-3636) served in the Clne Wars as commander of the tight-knit unit known as the Wolfpack. A seasoned and battered combatant, Wolffe has witnessed some of the worst the war has to offer. Despite tragedy, he fights on bravely, proudly brandishing his battle scars and instilling loyalty among his men.”

I swore to myself I wasn’t going to do this.  I swore I wasn’t going to get roped into all these 6-inch clone troopers.  I stood there, Commander Cody in my hand and said “no.”  I broke the rule for Commander Gree, but come on, he’s Gree.  I can’t not buy Gree.  Except now, I’ve got this thing, where every time the subject of another Clone Commander comes up, there’s this little voice in the back of my head that says “he’d look pretty cool standing next to that Gree figure you have.”  Guess I’m just admitting defeat on this one.  Well, here’s Clone Commander Wolffe.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Clone Commander Wolffe is an exclusive item from Hasbro’s The Black Series, who sort of stretches the whole “exclusive” label, being available at GameStop, Barnes & Noble, EB Games, and Disney Parks locations.  Feels a bit like they decided his exclusive status by throwing darts at the wall there.  At least this way, he should be pretty easy to track down.  Wolffe had quite a few designs over the course of Clone Wars, beginning his journey as just a uniformed officer, before eventually armoring up.  This figure represents him from nearer the end of the show, after the clones had switched over to their Phase II armor like we saw in RotS.  It’s Wolffe’s most unique look, and it also means he matches the other Clone Commanders we’ve gotten so far.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  As with Gree, Wolffe shares a lot of his pieces with the Clone Sergeant I reviewed a ways back.  It’s certainly a serviceable body, but just the tiniest bit frustrating, since an improved version was introduced with Captain Rex.  This one is beginning to show it’s age, especially when it comes to posablility; those shoulders are quite restricted.  In addition, it means he’s still using the exact same hands as the other Clones, which are configured for holding a rifle two-handed.  As such, he lacks a proper trigger finger on his left hand, preventing him from holding both of his pistols correctly.  It’s a quick modification to separate the index finger, of course, but it’s still the sort of thing Hasbro probably wants to invest in going forward.  Wolffe gets a new head, and left shoulder pad, as well as borrowing the belt from Rex.  The head gives us a look at Wolffe’s scarred unmasked face, which is a pretty fun sculpt, though I’m not sure I’m seeing much Temuera Morrison in the sculpt.  Still, that scar over his eye is quite impressive.  He gets helmet to go over the head, of course; Wolffe’s helmet is a more unique one, with a different visor set up, as well as the common rangefinder addition.  It goes pretty well over the head, and you probably wouldn’t guess it was removable if you didn’t already know.  The belt piece is a simple variation on the basic clone belt, but with two holsters and a cloth kama attached to it.  I do wish the kama were just a touch longer, but that’s a fairly minor complaint.  Wolffe’s paintwork is pretty decent.  All of his character-specific armor detailing has been gotten down, especially on the helmet.  He’s got a few bits of weathering, though they aren’t quite as convincing as some of the other troopers.  His head gets the face printing, which helps him look more lifelike.  In addition to the removable helmet, Wolffe also gets the previously mentioned blaster pistols.  It’s a shame he couldn’t also get one of the rifles, but the helmet and two guns are enough to keep him from feeling too light.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Having missed out on Rex, I was as bit more committed to getting this guy.  Fortunately for me, Super Awesome Fiancee works at GameStop, so I was able to enlist her help in getting one.  He’s not Rex or Gree, but Wolffe is still a pretty darn cool looking guy, and minor flaws aside, he translated well into this Black Series release.

#1688: Tuskador

TUSKADOR

MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS (MATTEL)

Mighty Tusked Galactic Warrior”

Tuskador!  It’s Tuskador!  ….Who’s Tuskador?  Boy, is that a good question.  Well, he’s from the New Adventures of He-Man, an iteration of the franchise I have no direct interaction with.  I’ve never seen a single episode of the cartoon, and I own none of the toys.  Or, at least I didn’t, until now that is.  Tuskador was one of the heroic characters, and seems to have followed somewhat in the vein of Ram-Man from the original series.  So, uh, here he is?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Tuskador was released during the 2016 year of Mattel’s online-exclusive Masters of the Universe Classics line.  He was one of the line’s oversized figures, and was also a Collector’s Choice item.  He was also the final figure to ship from the Matty Collector-run version of the line, so there you go.  The figure stands 7 inches tall and he has 21 points of articulation.  Structurally, Tuskador uses the same starting point as Ram-Man, which I’d say is most of the reason he got made in the first place, since Mattel is all about re-use potential.  Direct re-use is limited to the arms and torso, with the rest of the parts on this figure being modeled on older parts but technically new.  In order to facilitate the re-use, Tuskador has been bulked up a bit more from his prior appearances, at least from what I can find of him online. The new pieces fit the more cybernetically-advanced design aesthetic of the New Adventures characters, which helps to keep him well-separated from Ram-Man.  He’s definitely a hefty figure, and his armored elements are well-sculpted, with lots of sharp detail work.  His helmet can be removed, which causes it to sit a little funny.  On the plus side, the underlying head is one of my favorite aspects of the figure.  His astronaut-inspired cap is a fun touch, and there’s something undeniably cool about his grizzled and wrinkled face.  Tuskador’s color scheme is heavy on the blues, which works pretty well, as does the gold.  The application is all pretty clean; paint on these items was at the very least superior to Mattel’s various retail offerings.  Tuskador is packed with his titular tusks, of course.  There are two lengths included, with a more modest pair and a more ridiculous pair.  Both are fun, and you can store the pair not in use on his back if you so choose.  He also includes a big blaster, which can be held or kept on his belt.  It’s annoying that he doesn’t have a trigger finger on his right hand, but if it were perfect, it wouldn’t be Mattel.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

By 2016, I’d completely bailed on MOTUC.  For the most part, the characters I’d wanted had been done, and Matty Collector was just too much of a hassle.  When the line ended, I really paid it no mind, and I moved on to other things.  So, why do I have this figure?  Super Awesome Girlfriend.  The Gamestop where she works got this guy in, she saw the logo on the box and knew I liked Masters of the Universe, so she bought him for me.  I’ve got no prior attachment to the character, nor can I say his design compelled me to track him down on my own.  With that said, he’s actually a pretty fun figure, and a nice counterpart to Ram-Man, who’s one of my favorite figures in the line.

#1641: Black Panther

BLACK PANTHER

MARVEL MIGHTY MUGGS (HASBRO)

While I have come to tolerate Funko’s Pop! line in recent years, and even put together a sizable collection, there’s no denying that they’ll always be my second choice for pseudo designer vinyl media tie-in figures.  Number one will always go to Hasbro’s sadly under-appreciated Mighty Muggs.  Fortunately for lovers of the Muggs, they’ve made a comeback this year.  I’ve looked at one of the Star Wars ones, but Hasbro’s also launched a Marvel line alongside them, and I’ll be looking at my first of those today with Black Panther!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Black Panther is figure 07, the second figure numerically in the second assortment of Marvel Mighty Muggs.  Panther’s design is based on his appearance from Captain America: Civil War.  A movie design allows Hasbro the chance to offer some more detailing, and of the two film designs, I’m still pretty partial to the original design.  The figure stands 3 1/2 inches tall and has articulation at each shoulder.  Panther uses the same standard body used for Luke, with a different head piece depicting Panther’s mask.  Only the actual “face” of the mask is left uncovered.  It works with the natural lines and breaks of the mask, so the changeover from the sculpted headpiece to the painted face is fairly subtle, and doesn’t look to jarring.  The sculpted details of the headpiece are simple enough to fit the style, but still plentiful enough to add some nice depth to the overall design.  As I discussed in my review of Luke, the new Mighty Muggs all feature an action feature, allowing for changing facial expressions.  As a masked character, his expressions have to be a bit more inventive than Luke’s, I suppose.  It all comes down to the eyes.  There’s wide-eyed, squinty-eyed, and a mix of the two.  There’s a lot of variety offered by those different eyes, and it’s an impressive handling on Hasbro’s part.  I think the basic wide-eyed is my personal favorite, but all three are a lot of fun.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After being so impressed by the Luke figure, I was definitely on the lookout for some of the others.  Panther certainly looked cool, and Super Awesome Girlfriend ended up picking him up for me one day while she was at work.  My excitement for this line has not subsided at all; Panther is just as well handled as Luke, and I’m definitely on board with both currently running Mighty Muggs lines.

Guest Review #0050: Tiny Tina

TINY TINA

BORDERLANDS 2 (MCFARLANE TOYS)

“All around the Sta-actus plant, the stalker chased the bandit, the stalker thought ’twas all in fun – POP! Goes the bandit!” ~Tiny Tina

Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody! If you haven’t noticed, your main squeeze and I are reviewing action figures together to celebrate. Today, Ethan will be reviewing Handsome Jack while I’m reviewing Tiny Tina, who is the coolest character of all of Borderlands.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Before I get into the nitty gritty of the figure, I’m gonna try and give a brief introduction to the character. Tiny Tina is an NPC from the Borderlands game series, she first appears in Borderlands 2 and she appears to have a really close relationship with the vault hunters, specifically Roland. She’s a young girl whose parents were murdered during an experiment done by Hyperion, the main bad guys of the game. On top of all that, she’s the best demolition expert on all of Pandora and has a crazy personality to match—her dialogue is also fantastic!

Now, on to the figure! Tiny Tina stands at about 6 inches tall without her stand, with the stand she about .25 inches taller…maybe? I’m terrible at guessing but she’s about the same height as a few of my Marvel Legends, so that’s good enough for me. As far as I can tell, this figure has about 22 points of articulation, but I’m not 100% sure because she was a bit stiff in some areas specifically her right leg. Actually, I’ve come back with a correction, there are 24 points of articulation…oops!

One of the reasons why I like Tiny Tina so much in the game is because not only is her personality absolutely chaotic, but her outward appearance is as well. Her character design is so asymmetrical that it should make me uncomfortable, instead it makes me love her more. I think they did well in recreating her chaotic personality in the design of the figure. The one thing about her design I wish were different is the face they chose, I don’t think it quite matches the character’s personality and instead makes her seem a bit more deranged than just comically crazy.

Overall, I really like the paint job and sculpting of the character. I really enjoyed how they were able to incorporate the various holes, stitches, and patchwork into the clothing. The holes are actually there and not painted on, same with the stitches—you can actually feel them there on her clothes. I also liked how rough they made the bottom of her skirt, not only does it look all cut up but it feels like it too! For the most part the paint is alright, though it’s not my favorite thing about the figure. I thought they did a decent job of emulating the animation style of the game. Where the paint suffers the most is in some of the detailing. There are some places where the paint doesn’t quite match the paint, like the brush wasn’t quite aligned with the figure so the pattern is right it’s just a bit off to the side. There are also other places where the paint bleeds a bit over the line, which granted isn’t something that you notice right away unless you’ve been staring at it for an ungodly amount of time—like me! Mostly the detailing is pretty cool and spot on, I really enjoyed how they made the various lines on the figure stand out much like they do in the game.

Finally, there’s the figure’s accessories. Now, knowing Tiny Tina I thought she would’ve come with her explosives or maybe a ridiculous looking gun. Instead, she comes with a jagged bloody axe that looks like it should weigh more than she does (as a character and not a figure) and is almost as tall as her, standing at about 6 inches. At first, I wasn’t sure if I’d like this piece because I don’t remember seeing anything about an axe, unless it came from her DnD expansion pack,”Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep”. However, after displaying her with the axe I realized that it quite grew on me. It has an interesting design that quite matches that of the owner, jagged, oddly designed, and held together by duct tape. I think it’s a really cool design, and I like the detailing that went into the piece, including the dripping blood and the vault symbols. Now all I want is an animation of Tiny swinging this massive axe around like the crazy child she is! The other accessory she comes with is a basic stand that has the games logo and a textured top too appear as if she’s standing on dirt, without coloring it. I have mixed feelings about the stand. I find it to be rather basic, but with the design of the figure you really need it to help her stand. Because her right leg, the one without the sneaker, is so stiff or doesn’t have the right joints at all it makes it really hard for her to stand. This Tiny Tina is very left foot dominant, which is fine, but without the stand it’s nearly impossible for me to keep her upright and on top of that I’m a little worried about her right leg. So if you’re going to design a figure that really needs its stand, at least make the stand more interesting and less like a last minute addition!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve been a Tiny Tina fan since the moment of her conception and so when I heard that McFarlane was making Borderlands figures I was super excited. When I found out that they weren’t going to be statues I think I actually screamed. And when they were finally released, I believe I threw my card at poor Ethan and screamed that we needed those figures NOW! There was also more screaming when the package came and then I believe the dogs howled when I finally opened up her box…

Even though I’m a bit annoyed with her stand and one leg, I’m actually really happy that I have a Tiny Tina now. She’s still a fantastic figure that I love having on display on my side of the bookshelf! And I can’t wait to add more of the cast to my collection so that my crazy bomb-loving child won’t be alone. To say that we’re more than ready to support this new line of figures is a little bit of an understatement.

“Get-outta-my-shop-or-I’ll-punch-yo-butt. That’s-how-Tiny-Tina-roll.” ~Tiny Tina

#1539: Xenomorph

XENOMORPH

ALIEN: COVENANT (NECA)

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

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

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

THE FIGURE ITSELF

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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

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

#1538: Nite Owl

NITE OWL

WATCHMEN (MATTEL)

“Awkward, shy, and unnaturally obsessed with masked vigilantes and ornithology, Dan Drieberg was a surprisingly good fit to inherit the mantle of Nite Owl.  He is a talented engineer with a tragic childhood that feeds his needs to help the helpless and fight the good fight.  However, the world is not a perfect place and Dan is forced to constantly question his own morality.”

I’ve now made it through a full week of my post-Christmas reviews, and now we’re kind of nearing the end of this whole thing.  For today’s review, I’m switching over to a property that I’ve covered a few times on this site, Watchmen.  I was pretty huge into Watchmen a few years back, especially around the time of the film adaptation.  In the years since, my fixation has sort of waned, probably due to the overabundance of grimdark super hero stories in the last several years.  I still appreciate it for what it is, and there’s no denying that the story has lots of exciting designs, just ripe for toy form.  The comics designs are somewhat rare in the toy world, but Mattel put out a set of them a few years back, and I’ll be taking a look at the Nite Owl figure from that set today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Nite Owl was the fourth figure in Mattel’s “Club Black Freighter” subscription, released back in 2013.  He’s based on the comics Nite Owl design, of course, which is a more simplistic look than his more sculpted look from the film, but I feel a slightly more polished and to the point design.  The figure stands 6 3/4 inches tall 23 points of articulation.  The whole Club Black Freighter set was designed to fit stylistically with DC Universe Classics, and a lot of this was done via parts re-use from that line.  For Nite Owl, this means he uses the standard mid-sized arms, legs, and pelvis, along with a new torso and head, as well as add-ons for his cape and belt.  The legs are the end of DCUC legs, meaning they’ve had the rocker-ankles removed.  It’s definitely an annoyance, and it means he can’t really ever keep his feet flat on the ground, which looks rather goofy.  On the plus side, all of the newly sculpted pieces really do look cool.  The head’s a solid piece of work, and replicates Gibbons’ take on Nite Owl quite nicely.  His hard plastic cape, though very cool looking, effectively renders his arms motionless from the elbow up.  The end result to all of this is a figure that’s not really good for anything but standing around.  But at least he looks good, I suppose.  The paint work on Nite Owl is decent enough, and certainly better than a lot of Mattel’s output.  It’s clean and matches well with the art from the book.  It’s not the most thrilling color combination, but that’s true to the character, so one can hardly complain.  Nite Owl is packed with a display stand, three owl-arangs, and a grappling gun, as well as big novelty card thing with an art-deco sort of illustration.  The stand’s fine, but he has some trouble successfully holding any of the other extras.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Nite Owl was another Christmas gift from Super Awesome Girlfriend.  By the time the Club Black Freighter set came along, I was kind of done with Mattel’s whole subscription model and past my Watchmen fixation, so I ended up passing on them.  I almost bought Nite Owl a few times from Matty Collector during a couple of their year-end sales, but never got around to it.  Jess spotted him at the GameStop she works at and grabbed him for me.  He’s sort of an interesting phenomenon, a “super-posable” figure that doesn’t work as much more than a statue.  Ultimately, he’s not a bad figure, but he sort of fails at what he’s supposed to be.  I guess he’s rather par for the course when it comes to Mattel, though.

#1535: Inferno Squad Agent

INFERNO SQUAD AGENT

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES

“In the wake of the Death Star’s destruction, the Empire created the Inferno Squad to ensure that Imperial secrets would remain safe.  Their fierce loyalty to the Empire and exceptional skills in both aerial and ground combat set this squad apart from the rank and file troopers.”

It’s Day 4 of my post-Christmas reviews.  Today, I’ll be turning my sites on that galaxy far, far away, and looking at a figure based on the *other* highly divisive Star Wars sequel released this year, Star Wars: Battlefront II.  I myself haven’t yet played Battlefront II, but that certainly doesn’t mean I can’t partake in any of the cool figures that have come out of it, right?  The game has reintroduced an actual campaign to the gameplay, but rather than playing as the 501st (like in the original Battlefront II), you now play as members of the Inferno Squad.  Which apparently translates to TIE Fighter pilots with a little bit of extra detailing.  Cool by me.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Inferno Squad Agent is one of three GameStop-exclusive Star Wars: The Black Series offerings from 2017.  This one was released to somewhat coincide with the release of the game he’s based on, which seems sensible enough.  This figure stands 6 inches tall and has 28 points of articulation.  There’s not actually anything new to his sculpt.  For the most part, he’s a pretty straight re-hash of the first Black Series TIE Pilot.  That was an incredibly strong sculpt the first time around, and it still holds up very well three years later.  In place of the original belt, this figure has the spare Stormtrooper belt from Han.  It’s a nice, yet simple, way of differentiating him a little bit more from the original release, and matches up with at least a few of the Agents from the game.  Paint marks where most of the changes are from the original TIE Pilot.  He’s still not crazy different or anything, but different enough to matter.  He’s got the same basic detail work as his predecessor, but now he’s also got some extra red accent work to help denote his Inferno Squad status.  I found the edges of said accenting to be a little fuzzy on my figure, but I was otherwise pretty happy with them.  The bright red contrasts well with the rest of the figure, and helps him stand out when placed next to the original.  The Inferno Squad Agent is packed with the standard E-11 blaster.  Thankfully, this one continues Hasbro’s trend of including accent work on the accessories, which is a pleasant change from the last TIE Pilot’s straight black blaster.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This guy came to me courtesy of Super Awesome Girlfriend.  She’s been working at GameStop for the last couple of months, and was able to score this exclusive for me for Christmas.  He’s not wildly different from the standard TIE Pilot, but I dig the red accents a lot, and I was enough of a fan of the first one that I don’t mind getting a lot of that figure again.  A good toy is a good toy.