#3283: Python Patrol Viper



Alright, for the ninth entry in this truly maddening concept that is the “Day of the Vipers”….hang on, wait, that was, like, five years ago, wasn’t it?  Well, maybe the Day of the Vipers just keeps going and going and going…you know, not unlike the Energizer Bunny.  Or an exceptionally bad joke that I refuse to let die.  It’s definitely one of those things.  The point here is that I’ve got another Viper to review.  So, I’m gonna do that.  Has to be done.  In 1989, Hasbro repainted a bunch of their Cobra troops in a rather garish new color scheme and dubbed the whole group “The Python Patrol”, who were like the regular troops but “pythonized.”  I’m not even kidding.  “Pythonizing” is used on the file cards and everything.  Though they’re a pretty easy justification for a repaint in more modern lines, they only really surface every so often, probably due to how garish the aforementioned color scheme is.  Classified has decided to tap into the Python Patrol for their latest round of Target-exclusives, and, surprising no one, I have the Viper.


The Python Patrol Cobra Viper is figure 42 in the G.I. Joe: Classified Series line-up.  As mentioned in the intro, all of the Python Patrol stuff is Target-exclusive.  The Viper is the second of them, after the B.A.T., although they both hit pretty much in tandem, alongside the Tiger Force Outback figure.  The figure stands roughly 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 35 points of articulation.  Like the three-pack from last year, this guy is built from the same selection of parts as the initial Cobra Island Viper.  It’s a pretty solid selection of parts, and it keeps all the Vipers consistent across the board.  It also makes perfect sense for the Python Patrol figure to be a straight repaint, because all of the other Python Patrol Vipers have been, too.  The main change-up here is the paint, which makes the expected shift to grey, yellow, black, and red.  The layout of the colors works out pretty well with the newer mold; some of the details wind up shuffled around a bit, but the overall look reads very similar to the original.  The actual application isn’t quite as strong as previous Vipers, unfortunately.  On mine, there’s quite a bit of slop, especially on the yellows.  It’s not the worst I’ve seen from Hasbro, but it’s on the lower end for more recent figures.  This figure’s accessory selection is largely the same as the standard Viper, but there are some changes, and none of them are particularly good.  He’s got the goggles, the rifle with the removable magazine, the pistol, the arm guards, and the back pack.  So, on a positive note, the arms guards here are the easiest to remove of all of the uses of this mold so far, which is a definite plus.  Unfortunately, the goggles are the worst fit thus far, and they simply do not want to stay on unless you really jam them on, far past where it really feels safe.  I definitely worry about them breaking over time.  Also, while all other uses of the mold have included the bandana, this is the first one to leave it out.  Given that he’s a total repaint, and retailing above the cost of the original, it feels almost insulting to leave the piece out, especially when even the three-pack made sure that all three Vipers got it.


I had mixed feelings about this guy from the start.  On one hand, I wasn’t thrilled about this one being another Target exclusive, but on the other, I feel like he’s kind of the perfect choice, since it’s not like Python Patrol is anyone’s primary look.  Certainly not mine.  That said, I do sure like my Vipers, in all the various colors, so I put in my pre-order when they dropped, and played the waiting game.  I was half expecting the order to get cancelled, but it just showed up at my door one day.  Of the five Vipers we’ve gotten in the line, he’s the weakest.  He’s not bad, mind you, but his execution definitely feels a bit lacking.  Still, it’s another Viper, and I won’t complain about that.

#3259: Antoc Merrick



“Antoc Merrick commands Yavin 4’s starfighters before the Battle of the Death Star, flying as Blue Leader”

Originally, during A New Hope‘s climactic trench run on the Death Star, the color-coded squadron of pilots joined by Luke was not supposed to be red, as seen in the final film, but blue.  However, when the production realized that the blue-screen effects they were using for the space sequences would result in all of the blue markings on the ships being replaced by the background, the squadron was switched to red, with the intended back-up squadron going from red to gold, and Blue Squadron winding up shelved.  With the advancement of special effects over the years, Blue Squadron has shown back up in other forms, including in Rogue One, where Blue Squadron is more or less wiped out during the final battle on Scarif, thus explaining their absence from A New Hope.  The squadron is lead in the film by Antoc Merrick, who’s a cool dude who got far too little action figure coverage when the original Rogue One product hit.  Have no fear, the second round of product is here!


Antoc Merrick is one of two Target-exclusive Star Wars The Black Series figures released for the Rogue One sub-set from earlier this year.  He is figure 8 in the overall Rogue One line-up, making him the second numerically of the two exclusives.  The figure stands a little bit under 6 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  For the most part, this figure is re-using parts from the original Pilot Luke body (which I reviewed when it was used for Wedge), but he actually swaps out the arms for the ones from the Snowspeeder Pilot Luke, so as to give Antoc his proper gloves.  The Luke body’s technically a touch short for Merrick, whose actor Ben Daniels is closer to 6 feet tall, but given that he’s a much more minor player, I suppose expecting a totally new pilot body just for him is probably a bit much.  It’s at least a decent sculpt, and the alternate arms mix things up a little bit from Luke and Wedge.  He doesn’t get the proper collar piece from the movie, but it’s otherwise fairly accurate, and the collar’s honestly quite minor.  Antoc gets an all-new head sculpt, which sports a respectable enough likeness of Daniels in the role, although it does seem a little too large for the body.  Antoc’s color work is a nice change of pace for the pilots, since it’s predominantly blue.  The paint work is generally pretty basic, but it’s got some solid application, and the face printing works well.  Antoc is packed with his helmet and a blaster pistol, which have become the standard pilot offerings.  The pistol looks to be the same one included with Luke, while the helmet is, curiously enough, the Snowspeeder version of the mold, which is a bit smaller than the X-Wing version.  It makes getting the piece onto Antoc’s head rather tricky, since the sizing doesn’t work quite right.  It’s at least a very nicely painted piece, and it makes for a decent thing for him to hold.  Given he’s not likely to get an X-Wing to pilot at this scale, having him hold the helmet seems more appropriate anyway, but it’s still odd.


I’ve honestly been hoping for an Antoc Merrick in some form or another since Rogue One hit theatres.  He’s a minor character, but a cool enough one that he caught my attention.  I was always a little bummed that the basic line never got to him.  I wasn’t super thrilled by him being an exclusive, as I’m not really going out of my way to track any of them down these days, but I happened to find him in store right as Target was doing that crazy markdown on all of their figures, so I got him at $12, which is a price that I really couldn’t say no to.  He’s not a game changer or anything, but he’s nifty, and I do like actually having him.  Hey, another pilot for the shelf!

#3184: Alisha Hawthorne & Buzz Lightyear



For their summer offering this year, Pixar went back to the well that is Toy Story, but, having acknowledged that you can only wrap up the franchise’s loose ends so many times before you start to really see diminishing returns, they went a little bit different with things.  In the early 2000s, we got Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, a Saturday morning cartoon that was meant to be the in-universe Saturday morning cartoon that went with the Buzz Lightyear toy from the movies.  In 2022, Pixar asked the question: “what if the cartoon and the toy were both actually based on a movie?”  And then they went ahead and made that movie.  And there was much rejoicing.  No, the other thing.  There was a lot of complaining, actually.  Mostly by people who didn’t, you know, actually see the movie.  But, that’s just our culture at the moment, I guess.  I liked it.  I also bought some toys, because, well, that’s who I am.  And I enjoy the recursiveness of the toys based on a movie based on the toy from a movie, which was in-universe based on a movie.  It’s mind-boggling in just the best possible way.


Alisha Hawthorne and Buzz Lightyear are a Target-exclusive two-pack release, courtesy of Mattel’s Lightyear: Alpha Class line.  There are a handful of different scales in play for the tie-ins, with the Alpha Class stuff being on par with Mattel’s other collector-geared lines, though they’re still definitely toys.


Buzz’s partner at the beginning of the film, Alisha winds up getting a small but very integral to the plot role in the movie.  Over the course of about 20 minutes of the film, we see her live out pretty much her entire life as Buzz checks in with her between his light speed jumps.  This figure is based on her look from about the mid-point of things, when she’s established herself as the commanding officer of their station, and gets the fancy dress uniform to go along with that.  Barring the classic Space Ranger attire, it’s her most distinctive look, and it is very snazzy.  The figure stands just shy of 6 1/2 inches tall and she has 32 points of articulation.  Her movement is about the same as Mattel’s other collector lines, which is to say it’s actually pretty good.  They’re using pinless construction on the elbows and knees, so everything looks pretty slick.  The actual sculpt is unique to this release, and does a fairly respectable job of capturing Alisha’s design from the movie.  I quite like the way the hair turned out, and the uniform is nice and sharp.  Alisha’s paint work is pretty decently handled.  The base work is all very cleanly applied, and there’s some great small detail work on all of her ribbons and medals.  The eyes are perhaps a touch crazy looking, but I think that’s more an adaptation thing, just being one of those design elements that looks fine on screen but ever so slightly off on an actual physical object.  Alisha technically doesn’t really get any accessories, but, it’s honestly hard to say that with absolute certainty.  The stuff included all feels like it *should* go with the other figure, but there’s no reason you can’t share the load.  Product shots showed her with the knife, so I gave her that for the Wilson photo, just so she had something more to do.


As the titular character of the film, Buzz gets a lot of looks over the course of the movie, and pretty much all of those got toys.  Obviously, they’re not going to stick his main Space Ranger gear in an exclusive two-pack, so that’s not what this one gets.  Instead, this one is sporting the suit he does his last jump in, which is what sends him into the film’s “current” time.  It’s kind of an interesting choice, since it means he doesn’t really match up with Alisha, who is out of the story by the time he dawns this gear.  That said, it’s the one he spends the second most time in, so it’s at least a pretty prominent one.  The figure stands just shy of 7 inches tall and he has 33 points of articulation.  The articulation scheme is very similar to Alisha’s, though he also gets a ball-jointed waist, which adds just a little more range to his posing.  The sculpt appears to be unique to this release.  It’s the only way thus far to get Buzz with the flight cap, so that’s cool and unique.  The detailing on the sculpt is generally pretty solid.  He’s definitely a good recreation of the animation model, and this particular look has a lot of cool intricate details to work with.  Some areas, notably the arms and legs, are a little softer on the detail work, but the overall look is pretty great.  Buzz’s paint work is fairly strong.  The base work is nice and clean, and the level of work on the small printing and insignias is particularly impressive.  Buzz is packed with his removable helmet, a rifle, the warp crystal in its case, an upgraded version of the IVAN autopilot, his portable computer (with closing lid), and a laser knife.  It’s a great selection of extras, and none of them feel phoned in at all.


Toy Story was my first movie in the theatre, so I definitely have more than a small attachment to the franchise.  As faithful readers will have no doubt picked up from the Matty’s Corner entry about some of the basic figures, I took my son Matthew to see the movie when it was released.  He, unsurprisingly, wanted toys, so I took him to pick out a few.  At the same time, I saw this set, and it really spoke to me.  It was also on sale.  Win-win.  It’s a really great set.  Both figures are really strong, but honestly, the Buzz just really steals the show for me.  The detailing, both in terms of sculpt and paint, as well as the accessories, just really put the whole thing over the top.

#3173: Martian Manhunter



“J’onn J’onzz, the mysterious Martian Manhunter, is one of the last survivors of the planet Mars, and was accidentally transported to Earth not long after the majority of his people were wiped out. Martian Manhunter is thought to be as strong as, or possibly stronger than, Superman, and has a variety of powers including super-strength, super-speed, flight, telepathy, telekinesis, shape-shifting, phase-shifting, regenerative abilities, and near-invulnerability. Manhunter also has genius-level intellect and strong leadership skills. Using his vast powers and skills, Martian Manhunter strives to protect the citizens of his new home, Earth.”

Three years into their run with the license, McFarlane Toys’ handling of DC can still largely boiled down to “wow, Todd sure does like Batman, doesn’t he?”  And when it’s not that, it can often be boiled down to “wow, Todd sure does like squeezing extra uses out of a mold in often frustrating ways, doesn’t he?”  Today’s the second thing.  But I’ll get to that in a bit.  For the big super hero teams, I like to discuss the term “quintessential,” for those characters that may not be the heavy hitters, but whom the team kind of feels lacking without.  For the Avengers, I long maintained that character is Hawkeye.  For their equivalent team over at the Distinguished Competition, my vote goes to Martian Manhunter.  He’s just very important to the line-up, and it never feels quite right without him.  J’onn can be hit or miss when it comes to toy coverage, but he generally does alright with his figures when he actually manages to get them.  And hey, by virtue of being not a girl, and therefore unlikely to drive any boys to become serial killers, he gets two whole figures from McFarlane!


Martian Manhunter is one of McFarlane’s “Platinum Edition” figures for DC Multiverse.  As usual with McFarlane, the branding of “Platinum Edition” is one that has a confusing meaning, since he doesn’t seem to be very consistent in how he’s using it.  In the case of Manhunter, it means he’s a Target-exclusive.  So, I guess there’s that.  This Manhunter is the second figure under McFarlane’s tenure, with the first one, based on J’onn’s New 52-era design, hitting mass retail just about the same time that this one was announced.  You know, just to really split that market on the poor guy.  This one, on the flip side, is a “classic” Manhunter, or at the very least a mid-to-late ’80s Manhunter, given he’s still got the heavy brow and red eyes. The figure stands a little over 7 inches tall and he has 39 points of articulation. The articulation scheme on this figure is pretty much the same one on every McFarlane figure, and as with other releases, it’s clearly been inserted into a finished sculpt, which has its ups and downs. Much like the Peacemaker figure, getting the full range out of some of the joints, especially on the elbows and knees, requires breaking the flow of the sculpt entirely. Not exactly a great look. Additionally, there are a few instances of the sculpt getting in the way of movement, most notably on the hips.  As far as the quality of the actual sculpt, it’s honestly not a bad one.  The upper half of the figure, is mostly shared with the other Martian Manhunter.  He gets a new lower half, as well as new chest harness, and a slightly tweaked cape.  The head is more on the alien side for J’onn, but not out of character.  I like the inhuman and stoic, but still slightly friendly expression of the face, and the angling of the brow is a cool look.  The body sculpt does a respectable job of capturing J’onn’s stockier build, with a fairly realistic set of proportions, that still retain that somewhat heroic look.  There’s some pretty decent texturing at play, especially on his skin.  The cape is generally okay looking, but the collar, which wasn’t on the other release, feels a little haphazardly added; it doesn’t actually connect all the way around, so certain posing will have it clearly disconnected from the rest of the cape, which definitely looks odd.  The color work on Manhunter is nice and bright, which is honestly a refreshing change of pace for the Multiverse figures.  It’s largely molded colors, which keeps it fairly clean.  The greens of the elbows and knees are a slightly different shade from the rest of the body, but beyond that, the plastic coloring works out okay.  The paint work is kept to a minimum, but it looks pretty clean, and there’s not slop or bleed over.  Martian Manhunter is supposed to come with a collector card and a display stand, but mine doesn’t have the stand, and didn’t even have the spot for it in the package.  I mean, it’s just a black disk, and I have a bunch of them, but still.


I’ve got a soft spot for a decent Martian Manhunter figure, so when McFarlane showed off their original, more modern Manhunter, I was very tempted to pick him up, and was *this* close to doing so.  Like, he had arrived at All Time, and I was planning to take a look at him in person to make my final call.  And literally that exact day, McFarlane announced this guy, which kind of took all of the wind out of my sails on the other one.  The timing on that announcement was pretty darn rotten.  Also, with a character that’s not a heavy hitter, it feels like splitting an already niche audience isn’t the smartest call.  This was clearly the look that most everyone wanted, so why not just make this the main release.  Was Target really clamoring that much for a Martian Manhunter variant?  Whatever the case, while I’m not one for really hunting anymore, Max was kind enough to give me an assist on this one, so I was able to get him without much trouble, at the very least.  Stupid decisions about his release aside, the figure’s actually pretty darn good.  There’s still some weirdness, but it’s minor, and I really do like how this figure turned out.

#3122: Mighty Morhin Ninja Blue Ranger



Wait, another Power Rangers thing?  Wasn’t I supposed to be done with these?  I mean, I finished my two times, right?  Okay, but hear me out: Blue Ranger.  Yeah.  See how that instantly changes the dynamic?  Makes so much more sense now.  Which Blue Ranger, you ask?  Well, it’s, uh, Billy again, but, you know, in a different outfit.  What’s the deal with that?  Well, depending on which continuity you’re going by, the Ranger’s source of power was destroyed by either Rito Revolto or Ivan Ooze, and they had to go train to gain new powers, which meant getting new “ninja” suits.  Boom.  Perfect excuse for new toys.


Mighty Morphin Ninja Blue Ranger was, alongside Mighty Morphin Ninja Black, the debut of the Target-exclusive Ninja Rangers sub-set of Lightning Collection.  That said, they seem to have more or less hit at the same time as the White and Pink Ninja Rangers.  They’re all hitting in solid cases, though, so it’s probably just a regional thing.  The figure stands just over 6 inches tall and he has 31 points of articulation.  This version of Billy uses the newly developed parts used for all of the male Ninja Rangers.  The articulation scheme for this one is similar to the standard Rangers for the line, albeit with some slight adjustments to match up with more recent Hasbro figures from their other 6 inch lines.  The butterfly shoulders have a tendency to pop out of place, but otherwise, the range of motion is pretty solid.  He’s also got the pinless construction for the elbows and knees, which works better from an aesthetic standpoint.  The sculpt proper is pretty solid; it takes the design from the show, which is admittedly kind of sloppy and hokey, and does its best to make the design notably less sloppy and hokey, while still looking the part.  The figure gets three different head sculpts.  There’s the fully masked look, which is the same across all of the male Rangers, plus the movie-inspired hood and half-mask combo, and the unmasked with headband look, as well as two different styles of collar piece to match up with them.  Of the heads, the hooded appearance is definitely my favorite, as I think it looks the sleekest.  It and the fully unmasked head both sport pretty solid likenesses of David Yost, on par with the one included with the standard MMPR Blue.  Ninja Blue’s color work consists of a bunch of molded blue plastic, plus painted accenting for the other colors.  The white is a little fuzzy on the edges, but the rest of the details are pretty sharp.  The two heads with the face visible use the printing for the details, which works pretty well. The unmasked head has a stray smudge of brown on his chin, which is kind of frustrating. The eyes on the fully masked head are also printed, but it’s not quite as effective for that piece.  Ninja Blue is packed with two pairs of hands (fists, and a flat and striking gesture pair), as well as an effects piece for the hand.


While I’m largely done with Lightning Collection at this point, and I’m also done with store exclusives (or at least hunting them down), this guy piqued my interest when he was shown off.  I do like my Blue Rangers after all, especially when they’re Billy.  That said, I didn’t put much effort into it.  I just wound up finding him during a quick stop at my local Target for some other things.  He was a rather nice surprise.  He’s a solid figure, and honestly a noted improvement on prior offerings from the line.

#3087: Gabriel “Barbecue” Kelly



A new G.I. Joe review?  In this economy?  Are you sure it’s legal?  I wouldn’t want to be accused of taking part in a rumble.  Or, you know, in this case, a Barbecue.  Right?  It’s funny, right?  Cuz he’s…you know…Barbecue?  And that’s a thing that you can take part in?  Much like the “rumble” to which the original quote referred? Am I getting too referential in my humor?  Yeah, probably.  Okay, fine, no more comedy for the whole rest of the review.  Just completely dry.  You know, like a Barbecue.  …I’ll see myself out.


Gabriel “Barbecue” Kelly is figure 32 in the G.I. Joe: Classified Series line-up, and is the latest of the line’s Target-exclusive Cobra Island subset.  He gets to use his whole name, as, like Breaker and Beachhead, it’s not really possible for Hasbro to trademark a word as commonplace as “Barbecue.”  He started hitting retail around the same time as the Breaker and RAM Cycle pack, if not just a touch later.  There’s no full assortment set-up with him, so he’s presumably a solid case figure, much like Major Bludd was.  The figure stands 6 3/4 inches tall and he has 37 points of articulation…sort of.  The ab crunch is notably pretty restricted on this guy, so he doesn’t really have much use of that joint.  Beyond that, it’s pretty standard movement for the line, which is pretty solid.  Barbecue is built using Destro as a starting point, which serves to make him a little bigger and bulkier than most of his team mates, barring Roadblock.  It makes a fair bit of sense for a guy who’s covered head to toe in protective gear.  As with some of the other more recent figures, Barbecue is a rather close recreation of his original v1 figure.  There are obviously some updates, just to modernize him ever so slightly, and also fill in the visual space just a little bit more at the larger scale.  He gets a little more armoring on the shoulders and wrists, as well as a little more tactical gear around the middle.  The helmet is a particularly cool piece; it very faithful to the original design, while sharpening things up just a little bit, and also adding some smaller details, again to help with fill in that extra visual space.  Barbecue’s paint work is generally pretty basic; it matches up with his established color scheme quite well, and the application is all pretty sharp.  I wouldn’t mind seeing maybe a few other smaller details worked in, but he checks all of the basics off, which is still pretty solid.  Barbecue is packed with his classic backpack, hose attachment, and spray gun, as well as a smaller axe based on the one included with the original figure, and an all-new larger axe piece.  The smaller axe and spray gun are able to be holstered on the legs, and the larger axe has a spot on the backpack.  The ones on the legs work well, but the backpack one isn’t quite as practical.  That said, it’s nice to see them still try to give everything proper storage.


I’ve effectively given up on the hunt when it comes to the Target-exclusives for this line, and I had no major need to have Barbecue in any sort of a rush, so I made no concerted effort to get one at retail.  I’d honestly almost forgotten he’d even been released, but then an almost complete run of Classified Series figures got traded in at work, so I had a much easier time of snagging one.  And who am I to argue with that?  So, boom, now I’ve got a Barbecue.  He’s pretty great.  He’s fairly by the numbers, but that’s not a bad thing, and he’s a pretty great update to the original.  All in all, not a bad offering at all, though again one that feels a little odd as an exclusive.

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.

#3074: Stealth Suit Captain Carter



“Captain Carter’s secret stealth mission sets her on a collision course with new enemies.”

Man, the Marvel Legends reviews sure are spacing out a lot more than they were a few months ago.  Weird, huh?  I finally actually have the time to go back and, you know, catch up on some of the items I missed at the end of last year, when I was drowning in Legends.  With the benefit of a breather, I can better appreciate items like today’s focus, Stealth Suit Captain Carter.  I took a look at the standard Captain Carter towards the end of last year, and I really liked it, so it stands to reason that another one, now in cool Winter Solider-inspired stealth colors, is probably gonna resonate well with me.


Stealth Suit Captain Carter is a Target-exclusive Marvel Legends release, which hit stores in late November of last year.  While the first figure was based on Carter’s design from the premier episode of the show, this one is based on the season finale, which sees the Watcher pull Peggy from her timeline’s version of the opening scene of Captain America: Winter Soldier.  It’s not a drastically different look, but it’s a cool one, especially when paralleled to Steve’s look.  The figure stands just shy of 6 1/2 inches tall and she has 31 points of articulation.  This figure’s sculpt is identical to the standard Captain Carter.  I really liked that sculpt a lot, so I can certainly see the appeal of getting it a second time.  Since her costume is largely unchanged in the show, it makes a degree of sense.  The only issue is with the hair, as in the show Peggy had a slightly more modernized style, while this one still has her ’40s hair.  It’s not a major difference, all things considered, so I can kind of let it slide, especially given the whole “quick repaint” set-up for this one.  The paint work is where the changes occur for this figure.  The head is essentially identical, but the uniform captures the more monochromatic design of this outfit.  The application’s okay, though not as consistent as other releases.  It’s a little better than the standard release, though that may be largely due to there being less actual paint to apply.  Peggy is packed with the same shield as the standard release, but now in the updated colors to match her uniform.  There’s nothing else, which does feel a little light, especially given that the standard release included a BaF piece as well.  That said, I’m not entirely sure what else there is to include with her.


I do dig this whole look quite a bit, but I was content with the standard release, especially if it meant I didn’t have to track down an exclusive.  That said, Max found one out in the wild, and, while initially grabbing it for himself, decided he felt it more appropriate for me to have her, given my general Captain America love an all.  She’s not quite screen accurate, but she’s still quite a lot of fun, especially given how strong of a starting point she’s got to work from.

#3008: The Family That Busts Together



“Phoebe’s love of science and affinity for bustin’ ghosts runs in the family. She’s got Spengler blood, after all.”

Finding a good follow-up to the first Ghostbusters has been a difficult task since, well, the first Ghostbusters, honestly.  Even the combination of the whole original cast, the original director, and the original writers on Ghostbusters II wasn’t enough to capture that particular lightning back in the bottle, so in a modern world where reassembling the whole team is no longer possible, it’s an even more daunting task.  2016’s attempted reboot was divisive to put it mildly.  So, Afterlife seemed like it was taking on a rather Herculean feat, but it actually managed to achieve the seemingly impossible, and finally craft an actually pretty decent follow-up to the first movie.  Its success largely lies in how it interweaves old and new, as the old story is still there, but there’s also an actually rather likable cast of new characters to accompany them.  Central to the film is Egon Spengler’s granddaughter Phoebe, whose curiosity about her grandfather’s old habits launches her into the film’s events, as she is guided by her grandfather’s spirit, metaphorically, and then (SPOILERS), not so metaphorically.


“The Family That Busts Together” set is a Target-exclusive Ghostbusters: Plasma Series release, which was announced the week after Afterlife hit theaters, and started hitting shelves just after Black Friday/Cyber Monday.  Currently, the set is the only way to get Plasma Series versions of either of the two included characters.  It does seem a little odd, since Phoebe is unquestionably the film’s main character, and it’s an exclusive set, but with the rather notable spoilers surrounding the other half of the set, I can get the move for a retailer exclusive, since that allows for a closer to film release, while also keeping the reveal close to the vest for as close as possible.  The set did at least prove fairly easy to find at first, though in the aftermath of holiday shopping, time will tell as to exactly how easily acquired it is.


Afterlife‘s new cast each sort of follow the archetype of one of the earlier ‘Busters, with McKenna Grace’s Phoebe taking her grandfather’s spot as the slightly quieter, more scientifically-minded member of the crew, though perhaps one that’s a little more outwardly driven than Egon ever was in the films proper.  As with all of the figures thus far from the film, Phoebe is based on her fully geared up look from later in the film, which is certainly sensible, as far as toy choices go.  Just basic day-to-day attire might not be quite as fun.  The figure stands about 5 inches tall and she has 25 points of articulation.  While there are similarities in the sculpts of all the new Ghostbusters, none of them are actually sharing parts, so Phoebe is an all-new mold.  It’s a pretty solid one.  The articulation is perhaps a touch more limited than I’d like, but it does somewhat come with the territory of her being much smaller.  The likeness on the head sculpt is pretty spot on, and I really like the little touches to show that she’s had to quite hastily tailor her grandfather’s jumpsuit to her smaller stature.  The paint work on the figure is on par with the earlier releases in the line, which is to say its pretty clean and basic, with the best work by far being shown off on the head, which has the face printing.  Phoebe gets a rather impressive selection of accessories, including Egon’s modified proton pack, with removable back plate and neutron wand, as well as an effects piece, a PKE meter, which can be clipped to her belt, a jar of ooze from the second movie, and one of the chess pieces from the game she and Egon’s poltergeist are playing throughout the film.  The very moment-specific extras are definitely a lot of fun, and I was glad to see them turn up.  Lastly, and not so much for her specifically, the set also includes the head to the Terror Dog version of Zuul, designed for use with the Build-A-Figure body released last year.  Since that one was specifically Vinz Clortho, and it was re-used again for the set with Tully, it was very nice of Hasbro to find a way to give collectors both dogs.


Afterlife begins with the death of Egon, shot in such a way as to avoid showing him directly, given Harold Ramis’s passing seven years before the film.  Throughout the film, he continues to have a role in the film as a spirit with no visible form, again to keep him included, while still acknowledging the loss of Ramis.  The big reveal during the film’s climactic battle, after the remaining three original ‘busters have shown up to assist the new team, and after Phoebe in particular steps up to face down Gozer, is Egon as an actual visible ghost.  It’s a moment that allows both Egon and Ramis to stand alongside their respective teams one last time, and it’s one of the film’s most emotional moments to be sure.  This set in particular is designed to replicate that sequence, and Egon’s appearance in particular.  The figure stands just over 6 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  Structurally, he’s largely the same as all of the other older ‘busters from Afterlife, meaning he’s using the Ray body from the first series.  It gives him a slightly huskier build, which matches to Ramis’s look later in life, as well as how Egon is portrayed in the film.  The only thing that *doesn’t* match up with the film is the presence of gloves, which Egon pointedly didn’t have on as a spectre.  However, there aren’t yet any non-gloved hands and forearms for the standard ‘Busters body, so it would have required new tooling, and given how the coloration works, it’s a forgivable change, since it’s not very visible anyway.  The one new piece here is a new head sculpt.  It’s not as spot-on a likeness as the prior Egon, but it’s also based on a cgi recreation of a likeness, and it given the turnaround time on this one, it’s likely it wasn’t even a fully-formed render at the time yet.  All things considered, it’s perhaps a little on the large side, but otherwise not a bad sculpt at all.  The paint work on this figure is a definite change-up from the others, since it needs to give him that spectral look.  This is achieved by molding him in translucent blue plastic, and then painting on some trace details, notably on the face and the upper torso, making him look like an apparition that fades away as it gets to the edges of his body.  It’s a well-rendered effect, especially when seen in person.  Egon’s more of an accessory himself, so he doesn’t get anything of his own, but a few of Phoebe’s accessories also work for Egon as well, so there’s some crossover there.


As I’ve mentioned before, Egon’s my favorite member of the Ghostbusters, and Harold Ramis is also one of my favorite creators, so the lack of both of them in this sequel was something I was worried about going into the new movie.  I really loved how they worked his legacy into the story, and I’ll admit to being rather touched by how they built to his ultimate reappearance late in the film.  Likewise, I really identified a lot with Phoebe and her quest to connect more with her late grandfather.  She was certainly my favorite addition to the cast, so I found myself wanting this set quite a bit after seeing the movie.  Thankfully, Max was there with the assist on this one, and snagged me one back in December.  Phoebe is definitely the real star here, but the accessory selection and inclusion of Egon really make it a home run of a set.

#2998: Andros



The continuing narrative of the first six years of Power Rangers, and its conclusion in Power Rangers In Space allowed for a slightly different structure to the show’s first episode.  Since most of the team had already been introduced in the preceding season, the show places its main focus on the one new member of the team, Andros, the season’s Red Ranger.  We first encounter him on a recon mission spying on a gathering of villains from prior seasons, which requires him to have a more incognito appearance, at least at first.  It’s a design that has as of yet not gotten any toy coverage, but Hasbro’s addressing that here, with the figure I’m taking a look at today.


Andros in Disguise is a Target-exclusive one-off release for Power Rangers: The Lightning Collection.  Or he’s at the very least an exclusive to Target for now.  It’s a slightly confusing situation, as has been the case with a handful of releases from Hasbro recently.  Photos of him showed up with no official announcement, and then Hasbro themselves showed him off, but with no actual mention of release plan, and no mention of any exclusive status.  And then he just showed up on Target’s website, and was very quickly in-stock, making the whole thing a rather surprisingly quick turn around.  The figure stands about 6 inches tall and he has 34 points of articulation.  Structurally, his actual sculpt is identical to Andros in his Red Ranger gear (and all of the other male Space Rangers, for that matter).  It’s a sculpt that gets the job done, and it matches up with the other Andros, so it makes sense.  The main structural change up is the addition of a cloth robe piece for him.  It kind of looks like a bath robe, which I don’t really think is the intended appearance.  It’s a little goofy looking, especially in the photos, but I’ll admit it looks a fair bit better in person than I’d expected it to, and actually holds shape pretty well.  Even the velcro on the front stays secure, which isn’t always a guarantee.  The color work on this guy is another notable change up. Technically, in the show, he’s just wearing his usual Red Ranger gear under the cloak, but it’s shot in a way that hides it in the shadows.  To simulate this, Andros is wearing all black this time.  It’s an interesting look, and the presence of extra gold accenting, especially the insignia on the front, makes it feel like this is an established design from elsewhere.  That being said, I don’t know specifically where, and my brief searching on the internet hasn’t turned anything up.  So, I guess it’ll just remain a mystery.  It certainly looks cool, though.  Andros is packed with two heads, one helmeted (and in all-black to match the main figure), and one unhelmeted (re-used from the prior release), as well as two sets of hands, his Spiral Saber, Astro Blaster, and effects pieces for both weapons.


This is an odd release, and certainly not one I really thought I would need.  That said, In Space is my favorite incarnation, and there’s very little I wouldn’t buy from it.  So, this guy was certainly on my radar, not that I was in a rush or anything.  Max actually wound up ordering one online, before managing to find one in store.  Since he didn’t need two, he was kind enough to set me up with the spare.  He’s not essential, and it’s not like he really does anything new, but he’s a rather fun one-off variant.

#2970: Happy Hogan & Iron Man Mark XXI



Moving along the Iron Man timeline with our reviews here, we make our way to the final entry in that set of films, Iron Man 3.  IM3 had the good grace of being the first MCU film to get the Legends treatment proper, which was a pretty big deal at the time.  That said, it was just two movie-related figures in an otherwise comics assortment, which meant we just got the rather barebones Mark 42 and Iron Patriot releases, with scrapped releases for War Machine Mk II and Ben Kingsley’s Mandarin.  Later Legends treatments got those additional two released, and there’s been a slow trickle of a few additional House Party armors every so often.  We get one tribute to the film in the Infinity Saga set, featuring Stark Industries Head of Security Happy Hogan, as well as one more House Party armor.


Happy Hogan and Iron Man Mark XXI are a Target-exclusive two-pack, released in the Infinity Saga sub-line of Marvel Legends.  They started hitting retail at the beginning of October, and have thus far been hitting in at least okay numbers.


Stark Industries’ new Head of Security gets caught in the middle of the battle as Iron Man gears up to face an all new powerful threat.”

After six film appearances (with a seventh in later this month), Jon Favreau’s Happy Hogan finally gets some Legends coverage.  Not bad for a guy in a suit, I guess.  The figure stands just shy of 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 30 points of articulation.  Happy is a much larger guy than any of the other suit-wearers we’ve gotten, so he requires mostly new pieces.  He borrows the arms from the Logan version of, well, Logan, but is otherwise sporting all-new parts.  I certainly appreciate getting more variety to how the guys in suits are built; things were beginning to get a bit samey.  I do appreciate that he’s even got a pocket on his shirt under the jacket, showcasing that he’s just a little bit more working class than most of the other suit wearing guys we’ve gotten.  The only downside to the sculpt is that they’ve neglected to give Happy his ID badge, which is definitely gonna set him off.  C’mon guys, everyone needs to be wearing their ID badges.  By far the best part of the sculpt is the head, which has a pretty spot-on likeness of Favreau circa IM3, which is when Happy really comes into his own, so it’s a good choice.  He’s got a good recreation of Happy’s usual “sunny disposition.”   Happy’s paint work is reserved, but works well.  Mostly it’s just the face, which is quite lifelike.  Theres a few other spots on the suit, namely the belt and buckle.  It’s all pretty clean, and it does the job well.  Though he may not have his ID badge, Happy does at least get his cellphone.  It’s a tiny little piece guaranteed to be lost, but hey, it’s still a cool touch.


“Mark XXI, codename ‘Midas,’ is a fully loaded high-altitude suit built by Stark that’s outfitted with enriched gold titanium alloy.”

There are a great number of varieties of Iron Man suits presented by the film’s “House Party” concept.  Many of them are quite unique, while others are really just re-decos of prior armors.  This one’s one of the latter.  Dubbed “Midas,” the Mark XXI is a recolor of Avengers‘ Mark VII, done up in all gold as a reference to Iron Man’s distinctive all-gold armor from the early Silver Age.  Unsurprisingly, the figure is likewise just a re-use of the Mark VII mold.  He stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 37 points of articulation.  The sculpt worked well for the Mark VII and it works well for Midas as well.  It’s hard to fault Hasbro for the re-use, especially when the mold is as good as this one.  The color work is changed up, of course, so that he’s now all gold.  It’s a mix of molded plastic and painted sections, so there’s som variety to the finish.  It doesn’t look half bad.  Midas gets the same accessory selection as the Mark VII: two sets of hands and blast effects, all in changed up colors to match with the core figure.


Happy Hogan is one of those character’s I’ve always loved in the comics, and I’ve been thrilled to see him actually get to grow over the course of his MCU appearances.  I didn’t have the highest hopes for a Legends release, but they’ve been pulling out all the stops recently, so it’s not the craziest thing.  It was definitely cool to see him show up here, and I like that they went with his IM3 appearance.  Midas isn’t one of the more thrilling House Party armors, but the original base figure was nice, and so is this one.  There have been worse space fillers in these two-packs.