#1791: Norm Peterson

NORM PETERSON

CHEERS (MEGO)

NOOOOOOOOORM!!!”

—Everyone but Norm

And now it’s time for another sort of oddball appearance for this site: Cheers.  A show about a bunch of Boston-natives hanging out in a bar may not seem like the most natural fit for an action figure line, but “doesn’t seem like a natural fit for an action figure line” made up most of Mego’s business back in the day, and their relaunched selves seem to be dialing into a lot of those same philosophies.  In that respect, Cheers feels pretty well at home with Mego’s modern offerings.  They’ve decided to launch their little Cheers line not with Sam or Diane, but instead with the bar’s most frequent patron, announced by name every time he enters, Hillary Norman Peterson!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Norm is one of the 11 single-packed figures in the first wave of Mego’s TV Classics line-up.  He’s going to be followed by Cliff and Woody in subsequent waves.  As of right now, all of the new Mego offerings are available exclusively through Target.  The figure stands 8 inches tall and he has 15 points of articulation.  He’s built on a slightly different body than the previously reviewed Fonzie.  This body features a different, more rounded piece for the torso, befitting Norm’s paunchier physique.  In vintage times, this body was used for the likes of Boss Hogg and the Penguin, and it’s a pretty decent fit for Norm.  While Fonzie was built on a tweaked body with a slightly studier built to it, Norm’s body seems to be closer to its vintage counterpart, meaning he’s a little looser on some of those joints.  I’m not 100% sure if he’s still using the band construction, but if he is, I’ll be curious to see how well he holds up over time.  Norm has a brand new head sculpt, which is sporting a pretty spot-on likeness of George Wendt.  I think this is one of the best likenesses in the first assortment, and it’s definitely a step-up from the classic figures.  The detail work, especially on the hair, is quite sharp, which is impressive on a rotocast item.  Additionally, the paint is quite cleanly applied and gives him quite a lifelike quality.  Norm is seen here in his standard post-work attire of a suit and tie.  It’s decently tailored for the style, and like Fonzie, he uses velcro in place of snaps, so they should hold up a bit better.  Under the jacket is a fully sleeved shirt, which is a nice change from the vintage Mego style.  The tie, rather than being a fully separate piece, like we saw on the DST Captain America and Daredevil, is actually affixed at the front of the shirt, and the band is just a part of the shirt, so it separates at the velcro just the same.  This is definitely a far better way of handling such a design.  Norm is packed with what is hands down the best possible accessory for the character, a mug of beer.  It’s actually quite a nicely handled piece, and the mug even has the Cheers logo engraved on one side, which is certainly a nifty touch.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After getting the review sample Fonzie from Mego, I was definitely been interested in looking at a few more of these figures.  I’ve just recently been on a binge watch of Cheers, so Norm was at the top of my want list from the first set.  I’m the slightest bit let down that his body doesn’t have the same level of improvements as the standard body, but apart from that, I really like this figure.  The likeness is awesome, and the beer is a really nice touch.  I very much look forward to the rest of the Cheers offerings from this line, and I’m hopeful we might even get to see Frasier or Wings figures as well down the line.

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#1752: Chewbacca

CHEWBACCA

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES

“A mighty Wookiee nearly two centuries old, Chewbacca has fallen upon hard times during this age of the expanding Empire.”

Let’s keep this extraneous Star Wars love going, I suppose…wait, that doesn’t sound quite right.  Never mind.

I broke my rule about the clones, but I also had this other rule with the Black Series, where I was going to avoid minor variations of the same characters.  Now, technically Vader was the first one I broke the rule for, but that was a slightly special case.  I stayed true with Chewbacca and didn’t buy the Force Awakens variant.  Well, Solo broke me, what can I say.  Was he worth it?  Let’s find out!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Chewbacca was released right around the same time as the rest of the Solo product launch, but the comparatively soft roll-out of the Solo product compared to prior movies meant that he just started showing up in some places very recently.  He’s not part of the main line-up, but is instead a Target exclusive.  Chewbacca stands 8 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation. Unsurprisingly, given his generally consistent look over the course of the film’s, this Chewbacca figure shares a lot of parts with the original Black Series release, namely everything but the head, upper torso, and bandolier. I was rather critical of the sculpt back when it was new, and I still stand by those critiques.  There are just some issues that are inherent to the process of adapting a design like Chewbacca’s into a highly articulated plastic figure.  There are going to have to be some compromises, and they do have negative impact on this sculpt.  With all that said, I think this figure does a lot to salvage the sculpt.  The new head is really strong.  While it’s been reworked to allow for the goggles to sit better on his face, he actually still looks pretty good without the goggles in-place.  In fact, he makes a for a decent approximation of Chewbacca’s messier hair style from Empire and Jedi, which I’m definitely okay with.  The new torso’s really just a slight change, mostly done to help the new double-strapped bandolier sit better on his shoulders.  But it definitely helps, and as a result, this Chewbacca’s bandolier sits a lot flusher to the body than the first one’s did.  It’s a minor change, but one that does a lot to help the figure.  Minor changes to the sculpt aside, I think the biggest thing that helps this new release is the paintwork.  The first Chewbacca was released during the line’s worst period paint-wise.  While his paint wasn’t *bad*, it was definitely very basic, and lacking in any form of subtlety, which hit that figure pretty hard.  By contrast, this figure’s hitting while the line is at a very high point, and he definitely shows it.  The transitions between shades on the fur are less jarring, and work has been done to keep these changes from being right on the joints.  In addition, he’s far less glossy overall, which only helps in making him look a lot less goofy.  In Solo, Chewbacca hasn’t yet gotten his distinctive bowcaster, so he’s instead carrying a different heavy blaster rifle entirely.  This one’s patterned on the M-60 machine gun (thanks Tim!), which is certainly a fun one.  The piece is very well sculpted and an accurate recreation of the design from the movie.  And, not only does it avoid the usual lack of paint issue, but it’s even got moving parts!  A very impressive piece.  In addition, Chewbacca also includes his goggles from the train heist, which go on and off pretty easily.  Not as impressive as the gun, but fun nonetheless.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I saw Chewbacca fairly early on, back in May, but decided to pass on him at that time.  Of course, then I didn’t see him for a couple of months, so when I came across him again (after having seen and quite enjoyed the movie), I didn’t feel like I could pass him up.  I’m glad I opted to get him the second time around, as he’s a pretty sizable improvement on the last one, and definitely my favorite Chewbacca to date.

The Blaster In Question #0057: Vigilon

BlasterInQuestion1

VIGILON

VORTEX

vigilon1I know what you’re about to ask, so let me go ahead and answer it before you do.  No, I’ve still not heard anything from Mads but I’m staying optimistic.  That’s not what you were gonna ask?  Ok, weirdo.  Oh, right, that.  Yeah, I have no idea what the heck a vigilon is either but it’s the name of this week’s blaster.  Maybe taking a look at the blaster will inform us on the matter.  Let’s find out if that’s the case.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

vigilon2It’s not the case, it’s a made up word.  Anyway, the Vigilon was released in 2011 as part of the Vortex series of blasters.  It then disappeared with the apparent death of the Vortex line a few years later, only to be brought back in 2018 in the Target exclusive Vortex VTX line-up.  Really all that changed is the colors, so I’ll be reviewing them both as the same blaster here.  The Vigilon uses the same mechanism for launching the Vortex discs as most blasters in the line but with the added bonus of an integrated internal magazine that holds (officially) 5 discs.  I find it odd that the Vigilon has only ever been marketed as a 5-round blaster despite the fact that I can fit 6 discs in the magazine just fine without using any trickery, plus, you can keep another disc in the chamber, effectively giving the blaster a 7-round capacity.  The magazine vigilon3itself is an interesting design in which you open the loading gate with the release levers just above the trigger and load rounds in the side of the blaster rather than the top or front like we’re used to seeing on dart blasters.  Releasing the magazine cover is also rather satisfyingly snappy and makes it feel like something akin to a plasma weapon from the Halo franchise venting heat.  The outer shell is all original to the Vigilon, and while the green and orange color scheme of the first wave was fine at the time, the sky blue/neon green VTX colors really do it for me.  Just- MM, so good.  Naturally, the new colors are also carried over to the ammo which also looks quite nice and again, an improvement over the older version.  I mean, they work the same, they just look nicer while they do it.  The Vigilon gets the same performance as just about every other Vortex blaster out there.  The discs do travel far, but they vigilon4slow down as they fly through the air and end up floating a bit near the end of their flight path.  If you’re planning on using this as a weapon against your younger siblings, just make sure they’re not too far away, otherwise, even if your shots hit, they won’t have nearly the same impact as they would at closer range.  Plus, with some practice, you can do crazy stuff like bank shots off the wall and whatnot.  Then you can really make them feel like they’ll never be safe again, and isn’t that really the goal?  What do you mean that sounds abusive?  I’m just saying they shouldn’t feel completely at ease in their own home cuz they’ll never see the radtastic VTX discs coming.  Well, yeah, when you say it like that, you can make anything sound like abuse.  Anyway, the original Vigilon came packaged with just 5 Vortex discs, but the new VTX version comes with 10 and they look way cooler to boot.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

I don’t normally care too much about straight recolors, but the Vortex series was different and innovative in a way not often seen in the toy blaster market.  Moreover, it seemed to garner a decent fan base over traditional darts, so it’s fairly unique in that regard.  In reality, though, I just think the folks over at Nerf did a great job with the new colors.  I wish this had been what Vortex looked like from the get-go.  It’s just so- MMM, I love it.

#1589: Cassian Andor, Imperial Deathtrooper Specialist, & Jyn Erso

CASSIAN ANDOR, IMPERIAL DEATHTROOPER SPECIALIST, & JYN ERSO

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES

 

There was one major piece of Rogue One merchandise I haven’t yet gotten around to reviewing.  It was sitting there in the store, staring at me, waiting, watching, and….uh, waiting.  Sorry, didn’t have a third “w” word, there.  Anyway, I finally have said piece of merchandise, so, without further ado, here’s this set with Cassian, Jyn, and a Deathtrooper!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

This three pack was a Target-exclusive, and started hitting shelves about a month after the main Rogue One product launch.  Of the three figures included, only Cassian is a truly unique figure.  The Deathtrooper has some minor tweaks as well, but Jyn is exactly the same as both her standard and SDCC-exclusive releases.

CASSIAN ANDOR

“An accomplished Alliance Intelligence officer with combat field experience, Captain Cassian Andor commands respect from his Rebel troops with his ability to keep a cool head under fire and complete his missions with minimal resources.”

Despite his placement in a big exclusive set, the Cassian seen here is the standard version of the character, seen most frequently throughout the movie.  It was oddly scarce in the initial product launch, but by the end of all the Rogue One product, it did end up fairly well represented.  It’s definitely the selling point of this release.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  His head is shared with the Eadu version, which admittedly wasn’t the best Cassian sculpt we got, but it looks a little bit better here than it did on that figure.  The rest of the figure is a unique sculpt, and it’s a definite improvement over the Eadu look.  The details are generally a lot sharper, especially on the jacket, and the overall aesthetics just seem to flow a bit better.  He’s still a little bulky for Luna, but not as bad as the Eadu figure.  The movement is a lot better as well, thanks to the slightly less restrictive design.  Just like the sculpt, the paint on this Cassian is a marked improvement on the last figure.  The face is still a bit off, especially the beard, but it’s definitely a step up.  The eyebrows are less caterpillar-like, and the scruff is a little more reserved, so that’s a plus.  The rest of the body is pretty solid overall.  There’s a little bit of fuzz in a few spots (like the tops of his boots), but generally it’s pretty sharp.  Like his oh-so-awesome small-scale counterpart, this Cassian is packed with his modular blaster rifle, which maintains the oh-so-awesome-ness.

IMPERIAL DEATHTROOPER SPECIALIST

“The elite soldiers of Imperial Intelligence, Death Troopers are encased in specialized stormtrooper armor with a dark, ominous gleam.  These soldiers serve as bodyguards and enforcers for Director Krennic, a highly placed officer within the Advanced Weapons Research division of the Empire.”

For the most part, this is a figure I’ve looked at before, back when it was just the standard Deathtrooper.  But, apparently, as a “Specialist,” this guy is entitled to a whole web gear load out, with a shoulder pauldron, some ammo pouches, and a bunch of grenades.  It’s a cool piece, and totally removable, should you just want the standard Deathtrooper.  Beyond that, his sculpt, paint, and accessories load out is the same as the basic variant.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I passed on this set when it was new, because paying the cost of three figures and only getting one I actually wanted seemed a bit much.  Just after the new year, however, Target got around to marking the set down, to about the cost of a standard Black Series figure. That brought into a reasonable range for me, so I finally got it.  I’m glad I finally got this Cassian; he’s definitely my go-to figure of the character.  I’m also not unhappy about the Deathtrooper variant, though I can’t say it’s the sort of figure I would have paid full retail for.  Ultimately, I think bundling Cassian into this three-pack was a mistake, and I think the fact that the set ended up on such deep clearance speaks to that.  I get Hasbro’s desire to get as many Jyns as possible out there, but this exclusive really would have worked much better as a two-pack with Cassian and the Trooper.  Three times was just one time too many for the standard Jyn to get a straight re-release.

The Blaster In Question #0024: Captain Cassian Andor Deluxe Blaster

CAPTAIN CASSIAN ANDOR DELUXE BLASTER

ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY

Everything looks better in blue.  Ok, maybe not everything, but a lot of things do, and that goes for Nerf blasters.  Today, I’ll be taking a look at yet another Star Wars blaster.  This time it is the Target exclusive Captain Cassian Andor Deluxe Blaster.  Well, sort of exclusive.  I’ll explain later.  Let’s get into the review

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The Captain Cassian Andor Deluxe Quite A Mouthful Blaster was released in 2016 as a tie-in product for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.  This specific blaster is the Target exclusive blue recolor of the Jyn Erso Blaster from the same line.  Plus, this one’s got a bunch of accessories that Jin’s blaster doesn’t.  It’s built on the classic magazine-fed flywheel system we’ve seen on the Stryfe and other blasters.  Holding down the rev trigger spins up the flywheels and pulling the main trigger pushes a single dart into the wheels, sending it flying.  The big difference between the CCADB and the Stryfe is the inclusion of lights and sounds which activate on the trigger pull, regardless of the rev trigger being pressed.  I was actually pretty impressed with the lights on this blaster.  Every time the trigger is pulled, a series of green LEDs in the barrel light up in rapid succession giving the illusion of a laser blast traveling down the barrel.  Accompanied by the sound effects, it really does make just pulling the trigger quite satisfying.  It’s also worth noting that holding down the rev trigger turns on the blue LED in the chamber as part of the blaster’s Glowstrike feature.  The included magazine holds 12 darts and, unlike most standard N-Strike Elite magazines, is completely transparent orange on both sides.  The outer shell of the base blaster is completely new work though shared with the Jyn Erso blaster, and looks a good bit like the blaster in the film which, if anyone cares, was made with an AR-15 as the base of the prop.  Like with the Poe Dameron blaster, the use of real-world firearms parts makes holding the blaster fairly comfortable, though there is some noticeable down-scaling from the real thing, making it a little cramped in the grip.  All the included accessories with the CCADB are recolored attachments from various other blasters.  The stock comes from the N-Strike Raider CS-35, the scope comes from the Modulus Long Range Upgrade Kit, the barrel extension/suppressor comes from the N-Strike/Elite Specter REV-5, and the bumps along the sides of the magazine indicate it comes from the Modulus Flip-Clip Upgrade Kit.  In addition to the grip being a hair small, some sections of the blaster feel a little flimsier than I’m used to from Nerf.  It’s not a lot, but the grey panels on the sides of the grip and the battery tray cover do flex a good bit if you have a firm grasp on the blaster.  This CCADB is not a heavy hitter in terms of performance.  The power of the flywheels is rather limited, either by design or because the batteries also have to power the lights, sounds, and Glowstrike feature when firing.  This is an indoor blaster, no question.  It does fire reliably but shots arc more severely than most other blasters and don’t land with as much force, making it ideal for busting into your sibling’s room and emptying the mag without fear of getting in as much trouble.  The CCADB comes packaged with 12 Glowstrike Star Wars darts, a 12 round magazine, a scope, a stock, a barrel extension, and 4 AA batteries already installed.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This blaster is largely what convinced me that the addition of lights and sounds to the Star Wars Nerf lineup wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.  While the Death Trooper blaster is fine, the effects on this blaster are pretty top notch and, having seen this year’s offerings, set the standard for effects for “deluxe” blasters to follow.

 

#1298: Imperial AT-ACT Driver

IMPERIAL AT-ACT DRIVER

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“The Empire’s combat drivers are trained to handle everything on the Imperial ground arsenal, from heavily armed AT-ATs to the more utilitarian AT-ACT walkers.”

You can’t have Star Wars figures without a metric ton of generic Trooper figures.  They’ve long been the backbone of the line, so it’s not a huge surprise that the movie makers put effort into introducing a few extra variants every time there’s a new movie.  Rogue One gave us the whole Scarif sub-set of troopers, which are some of my new favorites.  Today’s figure isn’t *technically* a Scarif trooper, but he share’s a lot of design elements, and he only actually shows up during the Scarif sequences of the movie, so I’m grouping him with them.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Imperial AT-ACT Driver is a Target-exclusive entry in the Star Wars: The Black Series line.  He follows the store-exclusive trooper trend, coming out after the TRU-exclusive Hovertank Pilot and the Walmart-exclusive Scarif Trooper.  In the movie, there are actually two drivers seen in the AT-ACT; a basic driver and a commander.  This figure represents the commander.  Of course, thanks to the fairly easily swapped heads on all these troopers, if you swap the head on this guy onto the Hovertank Pilot’s body, you can get both the basic AT-ACT driver and the Tank Commander, if one were so inclined. The figure stands about 6 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  Structurally, he’s a total parts re-use; he’s got the body of the Hovertank Pilot and the head of the Scarif trooper.  It’s totally warranted re-use, since the movie design was the same.  Plus, the pieces are solid, so I have no issues with having them used again.  This figure’s main differences are, of course, the paint.  The basic colors match up with those of the Hovertank pilot (no doubt intentional, since it makes the previously mentioned head swap much easier), but he also gets the additional grey markings on the shoulders to denote him as a commander.  The markings are nice and sharp, which is good.  There’s also a little bit of weathering on the armored sections, offering a bit of accenting to the sculpt.  I’m glad to see the weathering on troopers is remaining a rather consistent thing.  The AT-ACT Driver includes a standard E-11 Blaster.  In uses the same extra detailing used for the blaster included with the K-Mart-exclusive Jyn, which is another thing that’s nice to see be a recurring feature.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This guy caught me by surprise, since he wasn’t really promoted that much by either Hasbro or Target.  On the same trip where Tim bought me Moon Knight, I also found this guy, but I was still planning to pass, since I was trying to hold off on buying as much.  Of course, this just wouldn’t sit with Super Awesome Girlfriend, who insisted on getting him for me.  This figure doesn’t exactly offer anything new, but I do really like him.  He’s probably my personal favorite of the various Rogue One troopers that have gotten Black Series releases.

#0787: Poe Dameron & Riot Control First Order Stormtrooper

POE DAMERON & RIOT CONTROL FIRST ORDER STORMTROOPER

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES

Poe&Trooper1

By the time you guys read this review, I’ll have already seen the new Star Wars movie. Lucky me! Unless it’s terrible, in which case, un-lucky me! Of course this review was written beforehand, since I had to, you know, go see the movie, so I can’t offer any actual thoughts on the movie. I also still don’t have any real information on any of the new characters, so, hey, enjoy one more review of me talking about stuff I don’t know! That’s the best, right? Let’s have a look at resistance pilot Poe Dameron and a Stormtrooper variant!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

This pair was released as part of a two-pack of figures from the new Force Awakens-branded Star Wars: The Black Series line. The set is a Target exclusive (in the US, anyway).

POE DAMERON

Poe&Trooper2“An ace pilot, Poe Dameron is a leader in the Resistance’s fight against the evil First Order. He soars into battle behind the controls of a modern X-Wing fighter.” So, yeah, that’s kind of the same bio we’ve gotten on every Poe figure so far. Hey, at least they’re consistent! This figure is based on Poe in his
“casual” look (the same look used for his “Armor Up” figure in the smaller scale). Poe is 6 inches tall and has 25 points of articulation. When this figure was first announced, the assumption was that he’d be making use of a lot of re-used parts, especially given that he and Finn have the same jacket. However, it appears that the only piece to actually be re-used is Poe’s head, which is the same piece as his single release figure (though you can be forgiven for not realizing, for reasons I’ll touch on in a bit). The likeness is decent enough, though not quite as good as some of the other figures. The rest of the sculpt is all-new, and quite well handled too. As with the smaller scale figures, Poe and Finn’s jackets have enough minor differences to give each of the figures a bit of uniqueness. Poe’s jacket is much sharper detailed in general, which makes it look a bit better. Poe’s paintwork is generally pretty good, though it is not without its drawbacks. The base color work is all pretty good, and there’s Poe&Trooper3not too much slop or bleed over. The clothing, especially the coat, have some nice accent work to help bring out some of the sculpt’s details. The head’s paint is easily the sloppiest, with the same wonky hairline that’s plagued all of the Poe figures so far, as well as a slightly messy attempt at giving him 5 o’clock shadow, which just looks a bit goofy. However, it’s leaps and bounds above the regular release Poe, who’s paint was, to quote Shaun of the Dead’s TV edit, “funk ugly.” Poe is packed with a rifle (which is the same model as his smaller scale figure), and a helmet.

RIOT CONTROL FIRST ORDER STORMTROOPER

Poe&Trooper4“Armed with specialized batons, the First Order’s Riot Control Stormtroopers are trained to subdue crowds in the most ruthlessly efficient manner possible.” Yeah, so here’s another Stormtrooper. But he’s got a new hat—I mean baton and shield! He’s the same figure as the regular First Order Stormtrooper from the first series of Force Awakens The Black Series figures.  It’s still a good sculpt, and you really can’t have too many Stormtroopers, so no complaints there. The main difference is the accessories. He gets the same pair of blasters as the regular release, plus a shield and baton, which make him an official “Riot Control” Stormtrooper. They’re both quite nicely sculpted, though he has a bit of trouble actually holding the baton.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I ended up finding this set at one of my two local Targets, without too much trouble. The main appeal of this set (for me anyway) was definitely Poe, since I hadn’t yet gotten him in this scale. I don’t have his other figure to compare, but this one looks to be the better of the two. The Riot Trooper doesn’t offer much new, but the new accessories are pretty cool, and I won’t say no to another Black Series Stormtrooper!

Poe&Trooper5

#0761: Ultron, Vision, & Hulk

ULTRON, VISION, & HULK

MARVEL LEGENDS INFINITE SERIES

UltVision&Hulk1

Last year, Hasbro partnered up with Target during the holiday season in order to offer a few exclusive items from a number of their lines. Among the lines included was Marvel Legends Infinite Series, which got a special three pack of figures, which included Captain America, Ms. Marvel, and Radioactive Man. It would seem Hasbro is looking to make this something of an annual thing, as another three pack was just released. Included this time around were Ultron, Vision, and the Hulk, all of whom received a nice popularity boost courtesy of Age of Ultron.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

These three are, as noted above, part of a Target exclusive set, arriving just in time for the holiday season.

ULTRON

UltVision&Hulk4Ultron’s had quite a few figures this year, but this is actually only the second Marvel Legend. This one gives us another shot at the comics design. Specifically, he seems to draw inspiration from Ultron’s comics appearances from the last several years, though he certainly amalgamates a few different designs. The figure is about 6 ½ inches tall and has 30 points of articulation. Part of why Ultron amalgamates a few designs is due to some necessary parts re-use. Ultron makes use of the body of last year’s Ultimate Beetle figure, along with a new set of forearms/hands, as well as yet another all-new Ultron head. Beetle’s body’s actually not a bad fit for Ultron, and it was pretty good sculpt to begin with, so it’s re-use is definitely a reasonable one. The new forearms and hands meld nicely with the rest of the body, and definitely work better for the character than the original Beetle hands would. The new head is definitely the star attraction here. It’s a fantastic sculpt, with lots of really sharp line work and some great symmetry, and it really captures the character well. Ultron’s mostly just molded in a dark silver plastic, which looks pretty decent, but he’s got a fair amount of red detailing throughout. In particular, I really like how the mouth has been handled; they managed to get that whole crackling energy thing down just right!

VISION

UltVision&Hulk2He’s had no new Marvel Legends for like 7 years (being dead can do that sort of thing to you) but Vision’s managed to get two whole new Marvel Legends figures. His first one hit just a few months ago, and was based on one of the character’s more recent designs. This figure opts for a slightly more oldschool look, offering Vision’s second design ever, from John Byrne’s run on West Coast Avengers. I respect Byrne a lot, but the less said about that run and why the Vision was suddenly mono-chromatic, the better. Regardless of the questionable rationale behind the why of the design, it’s actually not a bad look, and it’s certainly different enough to warrant a figure. The figure stands about 6 ¼ inches tall and has 32 points of articulation. He is, more or less, a repaint of the last Vision figure. He’s built on Hasbro’s favorite body, the Bucky Cap, and uses the same head as the previous Vision. Unfortunately, he’s back to the two-fisted look, which is a shame, since the outstretched hand of the last one (and this one’s prototype) made for a nice variety of poses. To make up for that, this guy gets a brand new pair of feet, sans shoes, which are very well sculpted. He’s also got that same cape piece, of which I am still not a huge fan, but it’s less offensive here. The paint is, of course, the main draw of this figure. Now, he could have been just solid white, since that’s how he was depicted in the comics. However, Hasbro decided to do something a bit more visually interesting, so he’s molded in clear plastic, with white painted over top, making him semi-translucent, which looks really cool. In general, this paint works a lot better for this sculpt than that on the Now! Costume. I do sort of wish the black costume lines went all the way around his torso, but he that’s relatively minor.

HULK

UltVision&Hulk3Last up, it’s the required heavy hitter of the set, Hulk. This Hulk, like Ultron before him, appears to be an amalgam of a few recent Hulk designs. Overall, he seems to take the most influence from the Indestructible Hulk book from the Marvel Now! relaunch, though he lacks that look’s armor. The figure is a little over 8 inches tall and has 31 points of articulation. The figure gets a new head sculpt, clearly based on the buzz-cut look from Indestructible. It’s a pretty nice sculpt, which is certainly expressive, so that’s cool. From the neck down, the figure is the same as the Age of Ultron version from earlier this year. It’s a decent enough sculpt, and it actually works a bit better for a comic design, than it did a film design. Hulk’s paint work is fairly straightforward, basic greens and purples. It’s not the most exciting look of all time, but it’s pretty solid work.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I, unsurprisingly, got this set from my local Target. My main interest in getting this set was definitely Vision. He’s definitely a solid figure, and an improvement over the Now! version. Hopefully a proper classic look (or maybe even his 90s look) is on the horizon. Regarding the other two figures in the set, Hulk is a well done space taker, but Ultron is actually a pleasant surprise. He’s the best figure in the set, and probably one of the best Ultron figures ever. Solid work!

#0563: Ultron, Captain America, & Hulk

ULTRON, CAPTAIN AMERICA, & HULK

MARVEL SUPER HERO MASHERS

UltronCap&IM1So, it’s been almost a whole week since I took a look at anything Avengers-related. I don’t know about you guys, but that feels a little bit too long to me. Fortunately, I’ve got another set ready to go, and it’s even got an Ultron in it! Yay!

This review marks my second look at one of Hasbro’s newest ventures, Hero Mashers, a somewhat more kid-aimed line of figures whose whole gimmick is that you, well, mash them together. It’s not exactly the highest brow concept, but as long as it’s fun, who cares?

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Ultron, Captain America, and Hulk make up a three-pack that is part of the Marvel Super Hero Mashers line. The set is exclusive to Target and it was released to sort of coincide with the release of Age of Ultron. Hulk and Cap are re-decos of previous figures, but this is currently the only way to get Ultron. I’d like to address upfront that these figures are mostly made up of previous Mashers parts, but since I am not really familiar with the line, I don’t quite know the origins of each part.

ULTRON

UltronCap&IM2Clearly, this guy’s the selling point of the set, it being his introduction to the line and all. The figure is about 6 inches tall and has 24 points of articulation. Design-wise, he seems to be an amalgam of various Ultron looks, though he does seem to skew more towards the modern side of things. I’m fairly certain that the only piece on this figure that is actually a new sculpt is the head. It’s a rather nice piece, with some pretty decent detail work. Ultron’s head is less affected by the stylization of the Mashers line than others, which definitely works in his favor. The body is a mix of pieces from various other figures in the line. He seems to draw mostly from Iron Man and Dr. Doom, which isn’t a bad choice of parts. For the most part, everything meshes together pretty well, though it is worth noting that his right hand is noticeably larger than his left. It’s not really an issue on a robotic character such as Ultron, but it does leave me wondering if it was intentional. I’m not super keen on the red energy blade thingy, which isn’t removable. Regular release Mashers tend to have more standard parts to replace the wonkier ones like this one, but Ultron seems to have gotten the short end of the stick on that one, with no additional pieces. That’s a little annoying. Ultron is mostly just molded in silver, though he does feature some minimal red paintwork for his eyes and mouth, as well as some slight detailing on the torso (which, it has been noted, when coupled with the sculpt of the chest ends up looking not unlike a frowning face. Can’t unsee it…) and the aforementioned red energy blade thingy. What’s there is cleanly handled, if a bit sparse. As previously noted, Ultron includes no accessory.

CAPTAIN AMERICA

UltronCap&IM3Cap is the first of the two repaints in the set. He stands 6 inches tall and has 24 points of articulation, just like Ultron. Cap is generally built from the same pieces as the series 1 version of Cap, with the exception of the hands and feet, which come from elsewhere, though I couldn’t begin to say specifically where. Cap is definitely more stylized than Ultron, though not to an unreasonable degree. Generally, he’s more squared off at the edges than the average Captain America figure. The hands present a similar problem to Ultron’s left hand, in that they have the what appear to be sections of railroad track permanently affixed to them. It’s less annoying here, given that this isn’t the only Cap available, but it’s still a little annoying that there isn’t an alternative. From the standpoint of paint, this figure ends up having a little extra value to it. See, instead of the usual blue, he’s got black, which actually makes him a pretty decent stand-in for lesser known Marvel hero US Agent. It’s also worth noting that the paint is all cleanly handled, with no issues with bleed over or slop. Cap is the only figure in this set to get an accessory; he comes armed with his mighty shield, which can be plugged into either of his hands.

HULK

UltronCap&IM4Last, and sadly least, it’s the Hulk. He’s the second repaint in the set, and easily the weakest figure (spoilers). Hulk is about 6 ½ inches tall and he features the same 26 points of articulation (check out those spinning fists!). Like Cap, he’s mostly built from the last Hulk, with different hands and feet. Hulk doesn’t translate as well to this style, being a character who should be a bit more organic. He’s got a neck that is the same size as Cap’s, which looks really strange. And then there’re the hands and feet, which are mechanical in nature for some odd reason. In addition, his right hand has a cannon of some sort affixed to it, and, just like the other two, there isn’t an alternate piece. Hulk ends up with a rather straightforward Hulk style paint scheme, though it’s not without issue. The hands and feet are a metallic green, in contrast to the flatter green of the upper arms, head, and torso, suggesting that maybe it’s armor or something. Also, the greens of head and arms don’t match the torso, which really bugs me. Like Ultron, Hulk is without any accessories.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

So, I was at Target with my Dad a few weeks ago, and they had this set. I knew of its existence, but I hadn’t actually seen it. It being Ulton’s debut in the line, I kinda had to go for it. Ultron’s definitely the best piece of this set. He’s just shy of greatness; it would be really nice to have an alternate left hand. Cap isn’t bad, but he’s not the most exciting, and Hulk is really just filling space. I feel like this set would be best for a kid who doesn’t have Hulk and Cap yet, since they are at least fun to mess with. For a collector, you’re essentially paying the price of three figures for an Ultron. For me it was worth it, but your mileage may vary.

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#0557: Iron Man vs. Ultron

ULTRON PRIME, IRON MAN, & ULTRON – MARK 1

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON

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Happy Free Comic Book Day everyone! Yes it’s that joyous time of year where we all go to pick from a small selection of pre-determined free comics and we get to hear the inevitable stories about less informed people attempting to wander out of the store with hundreds of dollars-worth of comics. Yay?

So, the official countdown to Avengers: Age of Ultron ended yesterday, but fear not, the Ultron fun isn’t done just yet! I’ve looked at (almost) all of the comic-based Ultron figures. Now we start getting into the movie-based stuff. I’ve already looked at some of the Marvel Legends that were released to tie-in with the movie, and I’ll be taking a look at the first series of Minimates in a week or so. Today, I’ll be taking my first look at Hasbro’s line of 3 ¾ inch figures from the film, with two versions of the titular villain and an Iron Man thrown in for good measure.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

This trio of figures was released as a Target-exclusive “Iron Man vs. Ultron”’ three-pack, which is part of Hasbro’s wider Avengers: Age of Ultron line. The figures were released just prior to the film. Iron Man and Ultron Prime are repaints of their single releases (though Ultron Prime hasn’t actually hit retail yet) and Ultron Mark 1 is, for now anyway, exclusive to this set.

ULTRON PRIME

IMvsUltron2Ultron Prime here is Ultron’s main appearance from the film. The figure is just shy of 4 inches in height and features 5 points of articulation. That presents some issues. The limited articulation is an issue to be sure, but the real issue here is that he’s just too short. In the movie, Ultron was somewhere around 8 feet tall. To be properly in scale with the rest of the figures, he should actually be over 5 inches tall. In its current state, the figure ends up being woefully small. Moving past the scale issue, let’s just look at the figure on its own merits. The figure’s sculpt is new (though it will see another use fairly shortly on the regular Ultron Prime), and, obviously, it’s based on Ultron’s final film appearance. The sculpt is okay, though I certainly wouldn’t call it perfect. The details are mostly well placed and seem fairly accurate to the source, but the sculpt seems a little bit soft. In addition, it feels as if the figure has been stretched to add some height, resulting in a rather thin figure. Couple that with the figure’s short stature and you have a rather dinky, unimposing Ultron. Paintwork doesn’t do much to help this figure, either. He’s mostly just molded in a dark, brownish grey. It’s not metallic or anything, and it’s certainly too dark. His arms are molded in a translucent red, with some paint thrown in to make the switch from grey to red gradual. Some metallic sheen shows up there, and there is some pretty decent work. The red for the eyes and the detail on the torso is also pretty decently applied, and it breaks up some of the monotony of the grey. Ultron includes a blast effect piece, molded in red, which can be placed on either of the figure’s hands.

IRON MAN

IMvsUltron3Here we have the set’s requisite heavy-hitter, Iron Man. He’s represented here in his Mark 43 armor from the movie, which is the same armor we saw in the Marvel Legends assortment as well. The figure is about 3 ¾ inches tall and has the same 5 points of articulation as Ultron Prime. Structurally, this figure is identical to the Iron Man figure from the first series of single release figures. It’s actually a fairly decent sculpt. The proportions are pretty spot on, it’s accurate to the armor from the film, and it has a more than passable amount of detail work. All-in-all, a good sculpt. Paint; here’s what sets this figure apart from the single release. The single release was rather disappointing, with only the most basic color placement and a lot of “broad strokes” work. Here, the paint is actually very nicely handled. Everything is pretty clean, with no slop or bleed over. All of the parts that should be red are red and all of the parts that should be gold are gold. There are even a few spots of silver thrown in for good measure. The end result is a paint job that accents the sculpt rather nicely. Iron Man includes a blast piece molded in blue.

ULTRON – MARK 1

IMvsUltron4Look! Another Ultron! It’s like a sandwich or something. This Ultron is, as noted by the name, the first version of the character we see on screen. Rather than being specifically designed to be Ultron, he’s constructed from the remains of several of the Iron Legion drones. It’s a look that figured pretty prominently into the early trailers for the film, delivering the distinctive “strings” speech, so it got a fair bit of notice. The figure is about 3 ¾ inches tall and has 5 points of articulation, just like the other two in this set. Though he may be built from Iron Legion drones in the film, this Ultron figure features a sculpt that is wholly unique to him. And what a sculpt it is! This figure features a ton of texture and detailing, all throughout. The inner workings of his body are all nicely defined, and all of the armor plating is scratched and dented, giving it a nice touch of realism. The head is probably a little too large, especially when compared to the Iron Man included, but it’s minor, and the sculpt of the head is fantastic on its own. The figure is also sculpted with his legs in a bit of a step, giving him the appearance of a limp, like the one he has in the film. It’s a nice change from the standard standing pose of the rest of the figures, but it isn’t so extreme that it takes away from the figure. Ultron Mark 1 probably has the best paintwork in the set. It could probably stand to be a little more detailed, especially on the grey parts (some metallic grey plastic would have gone a long way in this set), But there are some nice touches, and he has enough different colors to make him a bit more visually interesting than the others. On top of all that, the paint is nice and clean and there isn’t any real slop or bleed over to speak of, which is always a plus. Ultron Mark 1 includes no accessories of his own, though I suppose you could give him one of the other two’s blast pieces if you really wanted to.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I actually stumbled upon this set pretty much completely by accident. I just happened to find a rack of them at my local Target, while I was looking to see if the second series of singles had shown up yet. I hadn’t seen any news about this set, so its existence was new to me. That’s a rarity for me nowadays, so it was a fun little find. I’m still not totally sold on Hasbro’s move to the more simplistic figures for this scale. After years of fully articulated figures, the move back to the basic 5 hurts more than a little bit. Ultron Prime is easily this set’s weak point; there are just too many things against him, and the fact that he’s not even a “default” version of the design doesn’t help. However, Ultron Mark 1 is a fun figure, and more than makes up for the failures of his more advanced counterpart. The lower articulation is much more forgivable here, and the sculpt is just far superior. Add in an Iron Man that is easily the best version available in the line right now, and you’ve actually got a pretty decent set. If we can get more figures like those two and less like Ultron Prime, my opinion of the line would definitely improve.

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