#2919: Van Helsing

VAN HELSING

DRACULA (MEGO)

It’s October, which is classically a kind of a spooky month, I guess.  I don’t frequently get too invested in all the spooky stuff the way some people do, but I can enjoy it well enough, and I’ve certainly got some knowledge of various things spooky.  When it comes to classic monsters, Universal Studios really set the pace in the ’30s and ’40s, but as they began to fade away, many of those same monsters would be reimagined by Hammer Film Productions, whose horror films became a staple of the ’60s and ’70s.  Perhaps their best known work are their Dracula films, starring the late Christopher Lee in the titular role.  Playing opposite Lee in the role of heroic vampire Dr. Van Helsing, was Peter Cushing, whose take on Van Helsing (and one of his descendants) would help to shape later portrayals of the character.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Van Helsing is part of Mego’s Horror line, and was released in the latest assortment of mixed figures.  He was originally supposed to be released at the beginning of August, but he crept into the end of September.  As with other entries in the line, he’s showing up in a mix of specialty stores and select Targets.  The figure stands 8 inches tall and he has 16 points of articulation.  He’s build on the updated Type 2 body, which is a decent enough standard starting point.  Cushing was just a pretty regular guy.  The all-new head sculpt here does a pretty great job of capturing Cushing’s likeness.  It’s not often that we see a younger Cushing in toy form, but it works out well here.  He’s got rather distinctive features, and they lend themselves to this style pretty well.  This is actually the second time Cushing’s gotten a Mego-style figure, since he was also in Classic TV Toys’ Space: 1999 line.  I think the likeness here is a little bit better.  The paint work is pretty basic, but it gets the job done, and everything is pretty much in line with where it should be.  Van Helsing is clearly meant to based on his look from the first Hammer Dracula film, and he gets an outfit based on that.  It features his jacket, shirt/tie (one piece like on the Cheers figures), pants, and a pair of rubber shores.  They’re all really goofy looking, but, of course, that’s really part of the style, and he matches well.  Van Helsing is packed with a rather small stake, which is probably going to go flying the first time he gets jostled, being lost for the rest of eternity.  Or something like that.  Given is tendency to use both a hammer and stake together in the films, just the stake is perhaps a little light.  Honestly, I would have liked to get the candlesticks for the cross he makes during the film’s climactic battle, but I guess those might be a little harder for him to hold properly.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Van Helsing was initially intended as a birthday present from my parents, but he got delayed, so I had to wait a bit for him.  Worse things have happened.  While I’m not necessarily the biggest Hammer Horror fan, I’ve always quite liked Cushing’s take on Van Helsing, and I’m glad he finally got some figure treatment.  He’s goofy and hokey, but I do really like him.

There’s a slightly more serious side to this one as well, I suppose.  In the months since losing Jess, I’ve been trying to find comfort in the stories of people who have experienced a loss similar to my own.  In reading up more on Peter Cushing, and specifically how he responded to the death of his wife in 1971, I really felt like I found a kindred spirit.  His habits and the words he said about his loss really have resonated with me, and the fact that he was able to continue his life in some way after such a devastating loss has served as an inspiration to me.  So this figure, as hokey as he may be, really serves as a symbol to me, and how I can’t just give up.  And I like that.

#2893: Quicksilver

QUICKSILVER

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Quicksilver’s ultra-high-speed capabilities are a major asset to the Avengers in the fight against Ultron.”

While the first Avengers film hit during a period of time when Marvel Legends were dead, so they had to rely on an exclusive run to get the team out in 6-inch scale (and they didn’t even get out the whole team, anyway).  By the time of its sequel, Age of UltronLegends was finally getting its footing back, but still wasn’t quite strong enough to support the entire extended line-up of the team as seen in the film.  Three members of the team wound up at mass retail, with an Amazon-exclusive boxed set to fill out the rest of the original core six.  That left the three new additions to the team, Scarlet Witch, Vision, and Quicksilver, out of the line-up.  Scarlet Witch and Vision were both able to get toy coverage out of their later appearances, but that didn’t work out quite so well for poor Pietro, who, you know, died in Age of Ultron and all.  We went through two special anniversary lines with no love for Pietro, but a third one would have just been ridiculous, I suppose, so here he is, after six whole years, finally in Legends form!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Quicksilver is part of the 10 piece “Infinity Saga” sub-set of Hasbro’s Marvel Legends line.  He’s one of the five standard sized single release figures, and one of four of those to be an actual wide release (because of course we can’t release a Captain America that’s not a Walmart exclusive, right?).  The figure stands about 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  The range of motion on the joints is all pretty solid, especially on that neck joint.  I do wish the knee joints broke up the sculpt a little bit less when posed, but it’s far from the worst we’ve seen.  I also do dig the full transition to pinless joints here on the elbows and knees.  Quicksilver has an all-new sculpt based on his attire from the film’s final battle, which is a sensible choice, since that’s his most distinctive look, and the one that matches with most of the rest of the team (we still don’t have an AoU Scarlet Witch, so he doesn’t match her at all, of course).  The sculpt is an impressive piece of work.  The head doesn’t quite have a perfect likeness of Aaron Taylor-Johnson, but it’s certainly got a resemblance.  Likewise, the body seems like it might be perhaps a slight bit too small for his build in the film, but it’s again not too far off, and there’s some really amazing texture work going on in the clothing.  Quicksilver’s paint work is pretty basic stuff for the most part.  The head gets the best work, with the face printing to give him a lifelike quality, and some solid accenting on the hair, for his proper eurotrash dye-job appearance.  The rest of the work is rather on the basic side, but it works for what it is.  Quicksilver is packed with two sets of hands, in fists and an open gesture, plus the head, torso, and arm of an Ultron drone.  It sure would be nice to get a full Ultron drone one of these days, but this is certainly a start, right?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Quicksilver, specifically the Age of Ultron version of the character, was one of Jess’s favorite Marvel characters.  She really, really liked him, and she was really upset when he died.  I think I may still have the marks from her hitting in the theater, in fact.  She was also really upset that he didn’t get the same toy love as the other characters.  This figure was shown off just a few weeks before she died, and she was very excited.  It had been my plan to get her one of her own when they were released, but that didn’t happen.  It’s a shame that she just missed him.  I think she would have been very happy with the end result.  I myself am pretty happy with him, and with the extra meaning he brings along with him.

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

#2892: Ocean Protector Mosasaurus

OCEAN PROTECTOR MOSASAURUS

JURASSIC WORLD: CAMP CRETACEOUS (MATTEL)

You know how I don’t review dinosaurs much around these parts?  Well, sometimes, I go against the norm.  I know, it’s weird, right?  This time, I’ve definitely got a good reason, though.  I can assure you of that.  Also, this one might not strictly be a dinosaur.  I no longer have a resident marine biologist on hand to give me the solid facts, so I make do with what I can find online myself.

The Mosasaurus, or “Lizard of the Meuse River,” is an aquatic reptile which inhabbited the Atlantic Ocean and seaways adjacent to it 82 to 66 million years ago, during the Late Cretaceous Period.  Though extinct now, they can be traced to modern day reptiles, with either monitor lizards or snakes being their closest relatives, depending on who you ask.  Though reptilian, scientific evidence suggests that these creatures were actually endothermic, or warm-blooded.  Pretty nifty.  And, hey, look, it’s a Mosasaurus toy.  How about I review that?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ocean Protector Mosasaurus is part of Mattel’s Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous toy line, which is meant to tie-in with the Netflix spin-off of the same name.  I’ve got it on pretty good authority that the show’s not really worth it, but if it means more toys, I guess that’s not so bad, right? The figure is about 8 1/2 inches in height and measures a whopping 17 inches in length.  Based on the Mosasaurus’s average length being between 23 and 33 feet, that makes this figure about 1/18 scale, so it would technically fit with your 3 3/4 inch figures.  Of course, it’s sheer size means it’s not going to look exceedingly out of place with most common figure scales, since it’s always going to be really big by comparison.  The figure has 11 points of articulation, which includes an articulated jaw, flippers, and tail.  Not super posable, but also not a bad set-up.  While the majority of the line is just fairly average toy dino fare, the Mosasaurus, being an “Ocean Protector” and all, has a fun quirk to his construction.  He’s actually made from a pound of recycled ocean-bound plastic, which is plastic waste that is at risk of ending up in the oceans.  The plastic for these was recovered from within 31 miles of waterways in areas lacking in formal waste collection systems.  Plastic waste is a pretty big issue all around, but is especially bad for the oceans, and I’m all for any venture that does something to help stave that off.  The quality of the plastic doesn’t seem to be that far removed from what you see with other items in the line.  It’s slightly softer, so the details aren’t quite as intense, but what’s there looks pretty solid.  There’s a slight shift in detailing between different parts, as some of the plastic is a little more rubbery, but this all feels pretty by design.  I’m kind of curious to see how it holds up long term.  The actual design is a little more fearsome, I think, than most renditions of the creature, but that fits the style of the franchise, and it looks nice enough.  The paint work on this figure is pretty nice.  There’s some variance to the creature’s skin tone, with some cool flecks of color in the plastic, as well as some solid accenting and work on the lighter portions of the skin.  There are no accessories included with the Mosasaurus, apart from the potential satisfaction of doing your part to help protect the ocean.  And really, isn’t that an accessory enough?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Jess was a marine biologist, something that I don’t think was too much of a secret.  She really liked the ocean, and even had an internship at the National Aquarium not too long before the pandemic shut things down.  She fully intended to return once she was able to, but never quite reached that point.  Teaching others about the ocean and the creatures within it was one of her very favorite things, and she was also very devoted to conservation efforts, even more so after starting her work with the Aquarium.  She liked to bring others into the conservation thing when she could, and she certainly worked at that with me.  For Christmas this last year, she got me a pair of Wall-E and EVA Pop!s that were made using some recycled plastic, and she was so excited by them.  When I heard about this toy, I knew it was the sort of thing that she would have absolutely tracked down to give to me, because it was very important to her that we find the places where our loves overlapped.  So, when I found this figure just a few days after my birthday, I has a hard time not getting it, as a little gift to myself, in memory of Jess.  Of course, my mom was with me at the time, and decided to beat me to the punch on that one.  I may not be the biggest fan of dinos, but I’m a big fan of what this toy represents, both personally and on a larger scale.  And I love it for that.

#2851: The Rocketeer

THE ROCKETEER

THE ROCKETEER (MEGO)

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, that 1990’s The Rocketeer is one of my favorite movies, and truly an underappreciated gem.  The film’s failure at the box office led to Disney kind of burying it for a while, but in the last decade they’ve started to get a little more serious about licensing it out.  Funko got us a few different styles of him in the 2013-2014 area, which was cool, but then it kind of quieted down again.  There’s a bit of an uptick again, though, and included in that uptick is a figure from Mego, who are themselves in something of an uptick, I suppose.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Rocketeer is part of Mego’s line of Movie-based figures.  It’s a collection of all sorts of different film characters, and that’s really the only way someone like the Rocketeer is ever getting a chance at a release.  He started showing up around the spring of this year through specialty stores, as well as the handful of Targets that are still carrying Megos.  The figure stands about 8 inches tall and he has 16 points of articulation.  He’s built on the basic improved Type 2 body, which serves as the basis for most of their output.  As a rather average build sort of guy, Cliff makes perfect sense for this body.  Cliff gets an all-new head sculpt, sporting his distinctive helmet.  It captures the helmet’s look pretty closely, while still filtering somewhat through the usual Mego style, just so it doesn’t look *too* out of place.  It’s a nice piece, with a fun, sleek retro feel to it.  The paint work on the head is pretty straight forward; the majority is a metallic bronze, with some black detailing for the eyes and mouth.  It’s basic, but it’s clean, and it works.  Cliff’s outfit is made up of five different pieces, including the jacket, pants, boots, and jetpack.  The jacket and pants are decently tailored.  They’re a little bulky, as is the usual Mego way, but they look alright for the scale and style.  The boots are re-used from the original Mego Will Scarlet figure.  They’re not a perfect match for his boots from the movie, but they work well enough, I guess. The jetpack is all-new, and it’s a nice replica of the one from the movie.  It’s a little hard to get on his back, because the strap is very tight, but once it’s in place, it does look really nice.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’m always a sucker for Rocketeer merchandise, but it’s not always very easy to find.  Mego and The Rocketeer are a pretty solid match of styles, and I was definitely on the look out.  Not that I was really expecting to find him in person, or anything, since none of the stores nearby tend to carry such things.

FYI, we’re going into post-Jess territory here.  This guy was the last piece of the trip out to Target that brought me Major Bludd and the Plastic Patroller, though he’s not actually from the *same* Target, but rather another Target we all stopped at on the way back after the first Target didn’t have something Cheyenne was looking for.  Jess and I didn’t talk about The Rocketeer a lot or anything, but we watched it a few times together, and she did buy me one of my other Rocketeer figures.  But, if I’m sticking to attaching my own projections and feelings to what are likely unrelated events, I suppose it did mean something to me that I found three figures I actually wanted, on one trip, despite the general barren nature of retail these days.  It was at least a nice little pick me up in light of the worst week of my life.  It’s a small victory, but the small victories are what keep me going these days.

#2850: Plastic Patroller

PLASTIC PATROLLER

FORTNITE (MCFARLANE TOYS)

My last Fortnite-themed review was back in December of 2019.  Ah, 2019.  What a different place to be.  Given that I’ve never played even a second of the game, I do actually review stuff from it here with a surprising frequency.  Look, I’m a sucker for a fun toy, and you can’t deny that Fortnite‘s designs do result in some fun toys.  While I’ve stuck with the Jazwares component of the tie-ins thus far, McFarlane has also had their own line running alongside for a bit, which offers up a lot of the same stuff at a slightly different scale, but also a few unique pieces.  Included amongst the unique stuff is today’s figure, the Plastic Patroller.  Added in Season 9 of the game, the Plastic Patroller is a pretty straight forward concept: he’s an old school plastic green army man.  That’s very toyetic, and I’m all about it.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Plastic Patroller was added to McFarlane’s Fortnite line early this year. The figure stands 7 1/4 inches tall and he has 35 points of articulation.  Comparing the two toymakers’ lines, I don’t find the McFarlane offerings to be quite as easily posed, at least going by this particular figure, but I don’t think it’s a bad set-up.  It’s on par with the DC stuff, so it’s certainly much better than what Todd used to do.  In-game, the Patroller is largely a recoloring of the Jonesy skin, so this figure is unsurprisingly built on a lot of the same parts as the McFarlane Jonesy.  It’s a decent enough starting point.  I’m super crazy about how the ankles and wrists look, but for the most part it works.  I also did find it interesting that the trigger finger is on the left side, which isn’t very common.  That I definitely don’t mind, though.  He does get a new head and feet, though, in order to give him both the helmet, and the excess plastic at the feet, to help really sell that green army man feel.  The helmet does maybe feel a little to joined to the head and not a distinctly different part, based on the animation model, but it’s not terrible, and does still feel like the old toy, so it still works.  The extra stuff on the feet actually makes him a bit more stable, so I won’t complain about that.   In terms of color work, the Patroller is actually a little more involved than you might think at first glance.  He’s based on the skin’s second iteration, after it was reworked in order to remove its potential for blending in with certain environments.  So, he’s not just straight green, but actually has a little bit of dirt build-up.  Though not quite as classically green army man, it does make him a slightly more involved design, I suppose.  It’s like he’s been taken out to the playground.  The Patroller is packed with the Response Unit Back Bling, Scar Assault Rifle, Knockwurst harvesting tool, and a stand.  Not a bad selection of parts, and it certainly follows the gamut of the game’s stylings, being a mix of goofy and straight forward.  The rifle’s basic, but I really dig the Knockwurst, as goofy as it is.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

My Fortnite purchases are entirely based on “hey, that’s a cool design”, with no underlying knowledge beyond that.  Jazwares had dragged me in with the Joe compatibility, and then gotten me on board with the 6 inch stuff, but I was steering clear of McFarlane, because why would I need to start another scale.  Well, a green army man’s a good enough excuse.  I mean, I’m pretty sure it’s a one-off.  I hope it’s a one-off.  I’m sticking by it being a one-off.

FYI, we’re heading into another post-Jess section here.  The Plastic Patroller came from the same trip to Target as yesterday’s Major Bludd.  Likewise, I didn’t go in expecting to find him, but after finding Bludd, I was wandering through the video game section, and I spotted this guy.  And I heard this little voice in the back of my head telling me that they’d be mad at me if I didn’t buy him, because I’d regret it later.  It felt very Jess.  Again, I may be doing some projecting, and maybe I’m seeing more than what’s there and attributing silly, little minor things to her, but hey, that’s where I am.

#2849: Major Bludd

MAJOR BLUDD

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

We’ve had something of a hiatus from G.I. Joe reviews around these parts, mostly because there hasn’t actually been all that much to review, surprisingly.  We’ve got a lot just now hitting and also on the horizon, but since I reviewed Zartan back in May, there’s only actually been one true addition to Classified Series, and, surprising very few people, it was an exclusive.  This time around, it’s another member of the Cobra forces, Major Bludd.  First added to the line in 1983, Major Bludd gave the Cobra side some variety in ranks, as one of the first actual face characters for them, as well as one of the very few to truly fit into the overall Cobra ranking structure, unlike Destro, who was more an outside contractor.  Bludd is often a character that gets no respect, and you know what?  That’s appropriate.  He hasn’t earned it.  No respect for Sebastian.  I shan’t allow it.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Major Bludd is figure 27 in the G.I. Joe: Classified Series line-up, and is part of the Target-exclusive “Cobra Island” sub-line of figures.  Unlike other Target-exclusives from this line, Major Bludd is the only new figure from his round, as he initially shipped with restocks of Firefly and the Viper.  His initial stock disappeared as quickly as anything else in the line, but there was a pretty decent push for solid restock cases, which made him *slightly* more available for about a week or so.  That was kinda nice.  The figure stands about 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 37 points of articulation.  Major Bludd’s design is generally a pretty straight forward updating of his original V1 design, with that little bit of the Classified sci-fi upgrading to help fill in some of the gaps from making it too bland at the larger scale.  Structurally, the core of Major Bludd’s build is shared with the Cobra Trooper.  It’s a pretty sensible choice, since he’s kind of the highest ranking grunt, and has classically had some design elements in common with them.  He gets a new head, right arm, torso overlay, belt, and boots in an effort to change him up.  Ultimately, it ends up working pretty well.  Bludd’s original head was a little nondescript, but this one is very descript.  He’s grizzled and angry.  His eyepatch is no longer just a standard patch, but is now this more armored, squared off looking thing, which appears to be mounted to his eye in some fashion.  The face is scarred beneath the patch, and the expression on the face is definitely not a pleasant one.  The helmet is, for the second time on a Major Bludd, a removable piece.  It sits securely in place, which is nice, and it adds a slightly more severe shape to the design than the original.  Perhaps the star piece of the new sculpt is the right arm.  Bludd’s V1 figure had an arm that lacked the usual articulation, but which sported vaguely cybernetic details, which weren’t mentioned in his bio, and were ultimately left off of all updates until 25th.  This time, he leans hard into those details, with an all-new appendage that is clearly a robotic replacement.  It’s a very cool design, which immediately reads as different from the rest of him.  It’s very cool.  Quite frankly, it’s too cool for Major Bludd.  He doesn’t deserve it.  But he gets it anyway.  Oh well.  Bludd’s paint work is largely very brown.  True to the character, but not terribly exciting.  The face gets some very strong detailing, though, so that’s cool.  Bludd gets a decent enough accessory selection, which includes the previously mentioned removable helmet, as well as a necklace of dogtags (a detail lifted from the V1 figure), an update on the V1 rocket launcher, two rockets, an update on the V1 backpack, and a very large revolver.  Despite not being V1-homaged, the revolver is probably my favorite piece.  But, again, it’s probably too cool for Bludd.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’m not the world’s biggest Bludd fan by any stretch, and I certainly wasn’t jumping up and down for this figure.  Originally, he was brought up to some retailers as a standard release, at which point I would have just gotten him the usual way.  But, then he was suddenly a Target exclusive, and orders were being cancelled, and he was harder to get.  And that’s a lot of work for Bludd.  And is he really worth that?  I certainly didn’t think so.

FYI, there’s gonna be some Post-Jess talk here.

Three days after Jess’s passing, I was staying with my friends Tim and Jill, and I woke up one morning with a sudden urge to go to a Target.  No idea why.  I’ve pretty much entirely given up hunting these days, but I was feeling it for some reason.  Tim, Cheyenne, and Christian obliged, and off we went for a quick little trip.  The toy aisle was predictably barren, but I again felt an urge, this time to walk over to the “collectibles” section, which was a total mess.  I happened to pick up one of the NECA figures, and spotted the corner of a Classified box behind it, which turned out to be this guy.  I wasn’t actively searching for him in the slightest, but there he was, so I bought him.  Like the Disney+ Legends, he helped me navigate that first week without Jess, even if in a small way.  And, if I’m entirely honest, I almost feel like finding him was somehow her looking out for me.  I know it’s cheesy and hokey, and probably a very reductive way of looking at it all, but it makes my days a little brighter to think that some part of her is still out there, even if it’s only in my own mind.

#2845: Jaxxon

JAXXON

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Jaxxon is a nearly 6-foot tall, green-furred, Lepi smuggler and captain of the Rabbit’s Foot. Known for his wise cracks and high kicks, Jaxxon has helped Han Solo and Chewbacca out on more than one occasion.”

For some reason, this review has been very hard for me to start.  Well, I say “for some reason,” but I suppose it’s a bit more transparent than that.  There’s a rather big reason that anything is difficult for me these days.  I guess the “for some reason” comment more relates to how difficult this one review has been for me to actually sit down and write.  I’ve even written other reviews around working on this one, so it’s apparently just this particular green space bunny that’s giving me trouble.  Said “green space bunny” is Jaxxon, a big green bunny man created by Roy Thomas and Howard Chaykin for Marvel Comics’ Star Wars #8.  He’s one of the earliest full-fledged EU creations, and is rumored to have been removed from the comics on Lucas’ request, although this rumor remains unsubstantiated.  Though an early player, Jaxxon was removed from the franchise just as early, and has up to this point been completely without a toy in a very toy-driven franchise.  Seems like a shame.  Fortunately, Hasbro’s on top of it.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Jaxxon is another of the four comics-based Star Wars: The Black Series line-up, alongside the previously reviewed Carnor Jax Kir Kanos.  Jaxxon is notably the only figure in the set without any prior toy treatment, as I noted in the intro.  There was just no love for the bunny before this.  The figure stands about 6 1/2 inches tall counting the ears (closer to 6 without them) and he has 27 points of articulation.  Though he looks very unique and different, Jaxxon actually has a fair bit of re-use going on.  His upper half is X-Wing Pilot Luke, and his lower half is ANH Luke.  He’s a lot of Luke, I guess.  It’s a combo that works pretty decently, though I’m admittedly a little surprised he’s not just a straight up Pilot Luke re-use.  I guess this keeps him a little more diverse.  Aiding in making him look sufficiently different is a new head, chest plate, and belt with holsters.  The new head is certainly a more realistic looking design than he usually gets, in keeping with how the line has handled other more cartoony characters, I suppose.  This is really Jaxxon viewed through the lens of actually being in one of the OT movies, where he’d have just been another guy in a rubber mask.  It’s a departure from the artwork on the box, but it’s not bad at all.  The new overlay pieces for the armor and belt sit well on the figure and do a strong job of selling him as having more new parts than he does.  Generally, the result of this mix of parts is a pretty good one.  His paint work suits the design.  It’s not many colors that you tend to really associate with Star Wars, but that helps him feel more unique, and certainly true to the character’s nature.  Application is pretty clean, and the head even gets some accenting to keep it from just being a basic green.  Jaxxon is packed with two blaster pistols, re-used from Jaina Solo.  Unfortunately, we once again have a figure with two blasters, but only one hand with a trigger finger.  Come on guys.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Disclosure: I’m talking about Jess a lot today.

I could give you the exact road map to how exactly “Green Space Bunny Pilot” invariably leads me to dwelling on Jess’s final days over and over again, but I can’t say that knowing the how really truly explains the why.  I suppose, technically, you could say it’s because this was the first item added to my collection that she never saw (since he came into the store before she passed, but I didn’t actually get him until after), and I suppose it could also be linked to him being another Star Wars piece, and how much we both enjoyed the franchise.  I suppose it could even be because he’s a Black Series figure, and that the figures I was photographing on the day that she asked me what I was doing and I answered “just taking a few photos of some action figures,” were the first series of Black Series. Or it could even be because he’s the first of the comic figures I’ve reviewed since Kir Kanos, who was the figure I was reviewing the last day I sat with Jess before we knew it was the end.  There’s a lot of supposing in there, huh?  That’s because I really don’t know any of it for sure.  I just know that, for some reason, every time I sat down to write this, it got very hard to do so.  I think it’s because Jess probably would have gotten a real kick out of the Green Space Bunny.  Seems like something that might be up her alley, honestly.  This feels like something I very much would have gotten to show her, and to experience with her, but it’s one of the first things I didn’t.  That sucks.  Plain and simple, it just sucks.  The figure doesn’t, for what it’s worth.  I actually quite like him, and look forward to more deep cuts like this for the line.  And perhaps those ones won’t be quite as hard for me to write about.  Time will tell.

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.

#2843: Clone Pilot Hawk

CLONE PILOT HAWK

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

Store exclusives have been the bane of pretty much every collector’s existence for the last year, because not only has the number of things that are exclusive jumped, but so has the number of people trying to scalp them in order to make a quick buck.  Not helping matters is the general lack of quality distribution when it comes to actually getting them out there, making for an all around just unpleasant experience.  So, there’s definitely a little twinge of anxiety that hits every time a new item is announced, and then also confirmed as an exclusive.  In the case of Star Wars: The Black Series, there’s a whole sub-set of throwback Clone Wars figures, which seemed poised to be the worst thing ever to get, but which now seem to be significantly less so, which I suppose is a good thing.  For me personally, I was most invested in getting the clones, which I have.  I’m starting things off today, with a look at Clone Pilot Hawk.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Clone Pilot Hawk is one of the four figures in Target’s exclusive assortment of Clone Wars-retro carded Black Series figures.  He’s the most obscure character in the bunch, to be sure, notably being the only one included who has never had a figure, even in the days of Hasbro’s far more expansive Clone Wars toy line.  Not only did we not get Hawk, we never even got one of the pilots with this specific helmet design, which does feel kind of baffling when you get right down to it.  The figure stands just over 6 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  Now, the fact that Hasbro very recently introduced an all-new basic clone body into the line might lead you to believe that Hawk might, you know, be built on it, what with being kind of a basic clone and all.  However, you’d in fact be a fool to think that, because he’s absolutely not built on that body.  Neither is he built on the old clone body, though, so don’t think that either.  Instead, he’s actually built on the Captain Rex body, for some reason.  I mean, I’m not knocking it.  It’s a good body in its own right, and certainly an improvement on the old clone body, meaning his movement isn’t really restricted like it would have been on that older body.  In fact, his movement’s pretty darn great, so that’s cool.  He gets an all-new head for his unique helmet, as well as a connected breathing device, to signify his pilot nature.  Also, in a far more minor touch, he also gets a new belt, sans the kama and the holsters.  The new parts are nicely crafted, with the helmet in particular being the real star piece here.  It does a quite respectable job of walking the line between animated faithfulness and merging with the realistic style of the line.  I definitely like it a lot.  Hawk’s paintwork is generally pretty nicely handled.  There’s a little bit of slop on the hands on my figure, but he otherwise turned out pretty nicely.  I like the extra markings on the armor, as well as how they’ve weathered them a bit to show that his armor’s been in use.  Hawk is packed with a standard small Clone Trooper blaster.  It’s a little light, but it’s also fairly standard set-up for a pilot figure in this line, so it’s hard to say it’s a surprise.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Hawk was my only “must have” figure in this set, largely because I’ve just always liked this particular pilot design and it’s literally never gotten a figure before.  I was happy he got a figure, but not so happy that it wound up as an exclusive.  Fortunately, Max was able to help me out with this one, as it wound up being literally the first of the four he saw at retail.  He turned out really nicely, and I’m curious to see if we might actually get some of the other Clone Pilots in the main line now.  Time will tell.

There’s also a bit of a post-Jess segment to this one as well.  This figure is the last figure added to my collection before Jess died.  Max brought him to me during her last week in the hospital, and I had him with me those last few days.  He’s the last new figure I got to show her, and the last figure she got to be excited about me adding to my collection.  I didn’t know that when I got him, but those are the sorts of things you never do know, I guess.  I do know that showing off my new figures to her was one of my very favorite things about collecting in the last eight years, and the items I gotten since all feel a little different, since something’s very definitely missing.  He gets to be my last contact to that feeling, and the last true part of that collection.  My collection post-Jess will be a different one, and I’ll have to figure out how as I move forward.  But this guy’s not going anywhere, I can tell you that much.

#2829: Captain America

CAPTAIN AMERICA

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Donning a brand new suit and wings from Wakanda, Sam Wilson proudly takes on the mantle, ready to unite people as the world’s new Captain America.”

When Steve passed the shield to Sam in Avengers Endgame, Sam’s taking up the Captain America mantle seemed pretty inevitable, but The Falcon and the Winter Soldier devoted a lot of its time to showing that even when something is the inevitable or even most common sense outcome, that doesn’t mean that the journey there is always the easiest.  Much like Steve, Sam’s own hesitance at accepting the role, coupled with outside factors believing him wrong for the role based on superficial factors, are ultimately the very reasons that Sam is the right choice for the part, and the show pulls double duty of convincing both Sam and the audience watching that there’s really no other choice for the new Captain America.  And, if he’s going to be the new Captain America, then he damn well better get a cool new action figure while he’s at it, right?  Right.  So, let’s look at that, huh?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Following in the footsteps of Homecoming‘s Vulture, Captain America is both the final single release in the Disney+ series of Marvel Legends and its Build-A-Figure, by virtue of his wings being parted out amongst the other figures, while the core figure himself is sold by himself.  This allows the wings to be far more intricate in their design than they might otherwise have been, while also giving people the option of just getting that main Cap look, which Sam does, admittedly have for quite a bit of his screen time.  The wings are certainly less key a piece for him than his Falcon design, or even really that prior Vulture figure, so I think it was a pretty wise choice.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 30 points of articulation in his single-packed form, with an additional 6 points courtesy of the wings when he’s fully assembled.  His articulation scheme is pretty well balanced.  The wings can be a little floppy in certain poses, but they hold up alright, and the core body is on par with the rest of this line-up’s articulation.  Sam’s got an all-new sculpt based on his final episode design from the show, and let me take a moment here to once again discuss how strong many of the costume choices have been for these shows.  Much like Wanda’s Scarlet Witch design, Sam’s Captain America uniform is a quite faithful adaptation of his Cap suit from the comics.  I was quite a fan of that design in 2D, and I think it translated amazingly well to live action.  Rather fittingly, it’s also translated quite nicely into toy form.  The costume details match up quite nicely with those seen on the screen, and the head sports Hasbro’s best Anthony Mackie sculpt so far (which is saying something, because the prior Legends version was pretty good to begin with).  Most impressively, this time around the goggles are actually a separate piece, with a slight translucent feature to them, so you can ever so slightly see his eyes peeking out from beneath them.  If I have one complaint, it’s that he does still seem maybe a little too thin for Mackie’s build in the show.  That said, it’s not quite as bad as the prior figure, and on top of that, Mackie has also slimmed down a bit as his appearances have progressed, so it’s not terrible.  He still looks pretty good.  Generally speaking, his paint work is decent.  It’s not quite as sharp as some more recent MCU offerings, I think partially owing to just how much is going on with it, and there’s a few spots of bleed over and slop around the edges, but for the most part it looks okay.  I was certainly glad that they actually put the proper color change ups on the wings.  The core Cap figure is packed with the collapsed version of his wing pack, as well as his shield (which is distinctly different from Steve’s, as it should be).  I was a little letdown that he didn’t get any alternate hands, since he’s just got the open gesture ones.  They aren’t as limiting as just fists, or something, but I do still wish we’d gotten at least one more set, just to have the option.  The Build-A-Figure parts add in the whole extended wing pack, of course, which swaps out for the collapsed piece.  It also gives him the upgraded version of Redwing (which I really love that we got), who has his own flight attachment on the pack, and a stand to held support him when he’s got the full wing pack on.  While the core figure is perhaps lacking a touch, the full BaF treatment definitely makes him feel more complete.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

There was debate after Endgame about whether Sam should really be the next Cap.  As a longtime classic Cap fan, I’ve always felt he was the always the logical choice, so I was definitely there for it.  I really enjoyed seeing his journey to claiming the mantle, and I absolutely loved seeing his full Cap look in action, so I was definitely down for getting it in figure form.  I think the whole Build-A-Figure set-up worked pretty well for him, and the resulting figure is the best MCU version of Sam we’ve gotten so far, certainly worthy of the quality of the show.

I am, at this time, going to again get into some post-Jess stuff here, so another fair warning.  The MCU Falcon in Legends form definitely has some strong ties to Jess for me, because Winter Soldier was the first movie we saw in the theater together, not long after we started dating, and she also put a very large amount of effort into making sure that I got the first Legends MCU Falcon for Christmas the year it was released.  The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was also the last thing that the two of us got to watch start to finish together.  So, there’s already a fair bit of meaningful attachment to this guy.  But this whole set of figures gets an extra final little push, courtesy of some incredible generosity on the part of Jason over at All Time Toys.  Throughout all of Jess’s treatments and struggles, and our personal battles, Jason and the rest of the team at All Time Toys have been nothing short of amazing, doing whatever they could.  In the case of this particular round of figures, on the day Jess passed, Jason showed up at my house with this set in tow.  It’s a not small gesture, and it gave me something to focus myself on in the days immediately following losing Jess, which was an invaluable resource for getting myself back on my feet.  I was already poised to really like this set of figures, but now it’s a very special symbol of both the wonderful times I had with Jess and of the people who have been supporting me through these trying times.

#2826: Ultra Boy

ULTRA BOY

LEGION OF SUPER HEROES (DC DIRECT)

In the early days of the Legion of Superheroes, one of their by-laws for new recruits was that there could be no duplication of powers.  Today’s focus, Jo Nah of the planet Rimbor (who also got his powers after being swallowed by a space whale, in a reference to the biblical Jonah), aka Ultra Boy, got by on the technicality that, while his powers technically duplicated powers already covered by other members of the team (super strength, speed, flight, flash vision, and pentra-vision), he could only use one of them at a time, which is at least a different gimmick, I guess?  Of course, let’s not get into how they still managed to keep Superboy, Supergirl, and Mon-El on the team at the same time or anything….honestly, there was probably more than a little bit of prejudice and personal bias going into exactly when those by-laws came into effect; early Legionnaires were all kind of bastard people.  They got better.  Sort of.  Anyway, I was talking about Ultra Boy, so I should probably continue that, and not keep discussing how genuinely awful the Legionnaires are as people.  Even though they really are.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ultra Boy was released in Series 3 of DC Direct’s Legion of Superheroes line, which marked when the line starting spreading a little more into the depths of the team.  Not terribly, so, of course, since it’s not like Ultra Boy is that crazy obscure, but he’s the sort of character that doesn’t tend to get picked for the more paired down team line-ups for, like, guest spots and other media appearances.  The figure stands just shy of 6 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  Ultra Boy has quite a few parts in common with the Brainiac 5 figure, as by this point DC Direct had decided to institute more of a base body for this line.  The torso and legs are the same, as is the right hand.  The head and belt pieces were all-new, and the arms were a set designed to be a tighter fit than those used on Brainy and Mon-El, and were shared between this guy and Star Boy in this particular series.  All in all, I still think the base body works pretty well, and it certainly looks good here.  The new head is also one of my favorites, as it really seems to capture the ’60s Ultra Boy appearance, and just feels a little more unique than some of the others in the set.  Ultra Boy’s paint work is nicely applied, very clean, and very bold.  As with Brainy, he’s entirely painted, with no molded colors showing through.  It does aid in him looking clean, but there was always more potential for scuffing on this line of figures.  Fortunately, my Ultra Boy’s not so bad.  Ultra Boy was not packed with any accessories.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Fair warning: I’m going to be getting into some more post-Jess discussion here.

Ultra Boy is a figure that I always wanted when he was new, but who is actually one of my more recent acquisitions, because he just doesn’t show up nearly as often as the rest of the figures in this set, for whatever reason.  I actually quite vividly remember the exact day I got him, though perhaps not for the most happiest of reasons.  This figure came into All Time Toys, along with a whole ton of other DC Direct figures, on June 19th of last year.  It was the Friday before Father’s day, almost exactly a year from when I’m writing this review.  I know this because while I was at work that day, I got a call from Jess, who had just recently had a small surgical procedure done, and had just been told she would need to be moved into observation at the hospital.  She spent the next three days in the hospital, and I spent them right next to her, missing out on my family’s small plans for Father’s Day.  We didn’t know it was cancer yet, and wouldn’t find out for another two weeks, but it was the first indication that things were more serious than we realized.  So, I suppose, looking back, a year removed now, with Jess having been gone for 13 days by my time, this figure carries a rather odd weight, as the very last figure I purchased before my world changed.  It’s quite a bit of weight to place on one item, but my life in the last two weeks has seen me placing a lot of weight on seemingly small things.  And, I imagine, that’s where I’ll be for a little while longer.  And maybe that’s not the worst thing in the world.  As it stands, Ultra Boy’s at least a nice figure, so maybe not a bad choice for one that remains a token of how things were.