#2026: Captain America & Dum Dum Dugan

GOLDEN AGE CAPTAIN AMERICA & DUM DUM DUGAN

MARVEL MINIMATES

Even the Cap gets by with a little help from his friends… though he does occasionally have to borrow those friends from some outside sources.  Such was the case with the Howling Commandos, Nick Fury’s WW2-era unit from the comics, who found themselves merged with Captain America’s WW2-era super team The Invaders for the purposes of The First Avenger, and in turn, found themselves treated to some action figures in the process.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Golden Age Captain America and Dum Dum were one of the two TRU-exclusive sets for the Captain America: The First Avenger assortment of Marvel Minimates.

GOLDEN AGE CAPTAIN AMERICA

On the path to getting his proper Captain America uniform, Cap goes through a few trial stages.  The first of these is Cap’s USO show costume, which is the spitting image of Cap’s classic costume from the comics.  Golden Age Cap is made up of six add-on pieces, all of them re-used.  The gloves and boots are the standard Cap pieces, and the belt was taken from the DC Minimates Series 4 Golden Age Flash (fitting, I suppose).  The mask comes from the First Appearance X-Men set, and while it’s not a terrible piece, it’s not strictly speaking accurate to the source material, where he actually had 3D head wings.  Of course, there was no ready-made piece that would quite match, and it would have certainly been a one-off, so the slight deviation is excusable.  Cap’s paint matches the somewhat sephia-toned coloring of the other Caps in this assortment.  It’s pretty cleanly applied overall, and I like the goony facial expression under the mask.  It’s a different look for Cap, and it helps him stand out a bit more from the other variants.  The blue’s perhaps a touch too light (as it stands, it matches with his standard costume, when it really should be a bit deeper), but that’s a minor change, and he’s at least consistent with the Frontline Captain America in that regard.  Golden Age Cap is packed with his shield (the same one included with Frontline Cap), and a spare hairpiece for a proper unmasked look.  A pointing hand might have been cool, or even some of his accessories from his movie serials he was filming, but he makes out alright.

DUM DUM DUGAN

Dum Dum is possibly the most distinctive of the Howling Commandos, in both the movie and the comics.  His presence here was definitely a sensible one, allowing collectors not only one of Cap’s supporting players, but also a very memorable agent of SHIELD who has had far too few action figures over the years.  Dum Dum is built using two unique add-on pieces; one for his hat/hair, and one for his vest.  The hat is a very distinctive and very important piece for Dugan, and this piece is mostly pretty good, but there’s one slightly annoying flaw to it: it’s lopsided!  It should be symmetrical, but it’s very clearly leaning to the right.  The other details are well-rendered and match the movie, but it’s hard to miss that one issue.  The vest is a decent piece in its own right.  I like that it bulks him up a bit, and the options for storing his shotgun and sidearm are much appreciated.  The paintwork on Dum Dum is respectable.  He’s got a lot of brown going on, but that’s accurate to the movie, so no complaints there.  The face doesn’t have much of a Neal McDonoug likeness, but it’s a pitch-perfect Dugan, so it works well enough for me, especially since it can double as the comics version of the character.  Dum Dum is packed with his shotgun and revolver.  Basic pieces we’ve seen many times before, but still solid pieces nonetheless, and perfect choices for the character.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like the previously reviewed Gabe Jones and Hydra Flame Trooper, I grabbed these two from a TRU on a road trip with my my family back in 2011.  Golden Age Cap is perhaps the least essential of the three versions of Cap we got for the movie, but he’s a decent enough variant, and certainly more entertaining than all the variants of Wolverine we’ve gotten from his movies.  Dum Dum is a minor but still very important character, who was definitely in need of a figure.  This one, despite one notable flaw, definitely does the character justice, and helps to fill out the SHIELD ranks.

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#2008: Carrion & Scarlet Spider

CARRION & SCARLET SPIDER

MARVEL MINIMATES

Something new and something old.  Not an uncommon theme when it comes to Minimates, especially Marvel, where there’s a definite need to refresh some looks every so often, so as to both make them available for a newer audience and update some things to fit in a little better with more recent releases.  And hey, if a new character comes along for the ride, that’s not so bad either, is it?  So, with that in mind, let’s look at Carrion (the new) and Scarlet Spider (the old).

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Carrion and Scarlet Spider were part of the second to last TRU assortment of Marvel Minimates, Series 24.  The assortment was a sort of a mixed bag, with each set being a somewhat contained theme.

CARRION

He’s not the most well-known of Spider-Man’s foes, but Malcolm McBride, the second incarnation of Carrion, is a sensible choice for a Minimate, especially given his pack-mate.  The original Carrion (who had more or less the same appearance as this figure) was a defective clone of Miles Warren, better known as the Jackal, the mastermind behind the infamous “Clone Saga.”  Malcolm was also a prominent player in “Maximum Carnage,” meaning this figure fits right in with the Maximum Carnage-themed Series 76, so he’s just all around a pretty sensible choice.  Carrion is built using seven sculpted add-on pieces for his hood, pouch, loincloth, and two pieces each for the wraps on his arms.  The upper and lower arm wraps are re-used from Heihachi and and Jack Skellington, respectively, and the pouch is Kim Bauer’s purse from 24, because Carrion is super down for taking fashion advice from the similarly accessorized Green Goblin.  The hood and loincloth both appear to be new pieces, and they work well enough, though the hood is a little restricting to the head movement.  Carrion’s paintwork is clean and sharp, though perhaps not the most eye-catching look.  Pale yellow and purple isn’t a particularly appealing palette, but it’s accurate to the character’s comic appearance, so one can hardly fault DST for that.  The linework is actually quite nice on this figure, and does a solid job of capturing that early ’90s style of illustration.  For accessories, Carrion is somewhat on the light side, with only a flight stand and a basic display stand.

SCARLET SPIDER

Carrion’s great and all, but the main reason for most people to buy this set is Ben Reilly, aka the Scarlet Spider.  He wasn’t a stranger to Minimates, with his Spider-Man costume cropping up first back in Series 10.  A proper Scarlet Spider followed in 2007, as an FYE exclusive of all things.  A decade later, he finally got an update.  Despite his predecessor making use of no add-ons, this Ben Reilly has six of them, for his hood, belt, webshooters, and ankle pouches.  All of the pieces are re-used from elsewhere, and they for the most part do their job pretty much perfectly.  The only slightly off parts are the ankle pouches, which are actually knife sheaths with nothing in them.  There exist non-sheath ankle straps, so why these parts were used is anyone’s guess.  Ultimately, though, they sell the look well enough, so I can’t complain too much about their use.  Scarlet Spider’s paintwork is actually quite impressive.  In the comics, he was frequently shaded in a very dynamic fashion, and that’s the look this particular figure tries to capture, at least on the figure’s mask.  It’s a cool looking effect, and the sort of thing that really only works on a Minimate.  Scarlet Spider is packed with an alternate head and hair for an unmasked Ben Reilly (the first proper Ben Reilly head we’ve ever gotten), a webline, and a clear display stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After a bit of a hiatus from Minimates, I picked this set up last year, at the very beginning of Toys R Us’s shut-down process.  It was actually a set I was looking for, which I was only able to find once TRU started pushing things out from their warehouses.  Carrion wasn’t really going to be at the top of anyone’s list, but it’s always nice to get a new character, and DST did a respectable job of translating him to ‘mate form.  Scarlet Spider was in desperate need of an update, and this figure really delivered well on that.  He takes every aspect of the old figure and makes it better, and results in a generally far more enjoyable figure.

#1997: Xavier & Shaw

XAVIER & SHAW

MARVEL MINIMATES

After the critical failures of X-Men 3 and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the X-Men franchise was looking for a fresh start.  They found it in X-Men: First Class, which returned the X-Men to their original decade of the ’60s.  It was something of an unexpected hit, truth be told, so it’s merchandising was almost non-existent.  Fortunately, Minimates were there to save the day, with an assortment of TRU-exclusive two-packs.  Today, I’ll be looking at one of the film’s two leading men, Charles Xavier, alongside the film’s main antagonist, Sebastian Shaw.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Xavier and Shaw were part of the TRU-exclusive X-Men: First Class assortment of Marvel Minimates, released to coincide with the movie’s release in 2011.

XAVIER

James McAvoy had some serious shoes to fill when he took over the part of Xavier from Patrick Stewart, but he did it quite masterfully, creating a different, but still very much the same person, take on the character.  This figure opts for his flightsuit look, which is a solid choice since it a) is by far his most exciting look from the movie, and b) matches the rest of the team released in this assortment.  Xavier uses the basic body, with add-ons for his hair and his belt.  The hair is borrowed from DC Series 7’s Nightwing.  It’s not quite an exact match for the look Xavier’s sporting in the movie, but it’s close enough, and it’s a good enough piece that I’m really not going to complain about seeing it re-used.  The belt’s just a basic piece, with no detailing, used dozens of other times.  Nothing to write home about, but it gets the job down.  Xavier’s paintwork is definitely top-notch.  The likeness on the face is a very good match for McAvoy, and the detailing on the jumpsuit is just tremendous.  All of the small details and stitching are included, just s they should be.  The back of the figure is slightly less detailed than the rest, but he’s at least not totally void of detail like some less fortunate ‘mates have been.  They’ve even painted his neck yellow, differentiating his uniform from Magneto’s, just as it was in the movie.  Xavier included no accessories. A Cerebro helmet would have been nice, but this assortment’s completely re-used nature ruled that out.

SHAW

Kevin Bacon’s Sebastian Shaw was a slightly different take on the character, combining elements of Shaw’s comics counterpart with later X-foe Mr. Sinister.  The end result is a more calculating, far less hand-to-hand combat sort of a character, who was quite entertaining to watch.  Shaw uses add-ons for his hair and jacket/shirt piece.  The hair is re-used from Back to the Future Part II‘s Biff Tannen.  It’s not a perfect match for Shaw, and definitely not as close as the piece chosen for Xavier.  That said, it’s the best piece they had on hand at the time, and it’s serviceable.  The jacket is from 24‘s Tony Almeida, and is a well sculpted piece that fits the style Shaw was sporting throughout the movie.  Shaw’s paint work is not quite as complex as Xavier’s.  For the most part, it’s just the face that matters, and I gotta say, this guy doesn’t look all that much like Kevin Bacon.  I think he’s one of those people whose likeness is very dependent on his nose.  Without it, he’s very hard to convey.  Shaw also includes no accessories.  The helmet’s about the only thing I could think of to give him, and that got (rather sensibly) packed in with Magneto.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Though lacking in accessories, Xavier is an otherwise very fun figure, and once again goes to show just how far you can get without needing any new parts.  Shaw’s an important part of the movie.  That said, he’s never quite as “battle-ready” as some of the others, which translates to another “guy in a suit” Minimate, and not a particularly notable one at that.

#1858: Gabe Jones & Hydra Flame Trooper

GABE JONES & HYDRA FLAME TROOPER

MARVEL MINIMATES

When it came time to do the Minimates for The First Avenger, the film’s titular character was featured in most of the sets, but he did get to take a break for a few packs.  This includes today’s focus pack, which is perhaps the most obscure pairing of the bunch, Howling Commando Gabe Jones and the Hydra Flame Trooper.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Gabe and the Hydra Flame Trooper were one of the two Toys R Us-exclusive pairings for The First Avenger, alongside Golden Age Cap & Dum Dum Dugan.

GABE JONES

Gabe is perhaps a less distinctive member of the Howling Commandos than Dum Dum, but he’s an important one nonetheless, and one that’s stuck around for quite a while.  He also has the notoriety of being Marvel’s first African American hero, albeit not quite one of the “super” variety.  The figure is built on the standard Minimate body, so he’s about 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  Gabe is constructed using two add-on pieces.  The first is his helmet, which is shared with Frontline Captain America.  It’s a decent, standard-issue piece, so it works well enough.  His second add-on piece is his vest, a unique piece to this particular figure.  It’s definitely another solid piece, and it has some pretty excellent detail work, especially on the bandolier.  Like others in this particular set, there’s a holster attached; I still like them better as separate pieces, but it doesn’t look terrible.  The paintwork on Gabe is pretty standard stuff.  The application is all pretty cleanly handled.  He’s a little bit drab, but that’s just his design.  His face is sporting a pretty decent likeness of Derek Luke, but, as with Dugan, the likeness isn’t that far removed from Gabe’s comic incarnation, should you want to swap this head onto one of the comic book agent bodies.  Gabe is packed with a rather large machine gun, just like the one he was carrying around in the film.  He can hold it surprisingly well, given that it’s a two-hander.  He also includes a standard issue side-arm, which is the same as the one included with Cap and Bucky.

HYDRA FLAME TROOPER

The Hydra Flame Trooper, like the basic Hydra Agents packed with Peggy and Howard, was first offered up as part of the single-packed army builders case, before being offered up a second time here.  It’s actually a pretty sensible way of filling in the line-up, since I doubt anyone’s really going to complain about a duplicate here.  The figure uses four add-on pieces for the mask/goggles, chest cap, and flamethrowers.  The mask is the same one used on the basic Agents, which is good for consistency’s sake.  The chest cap and flamethrowers are big and bulky, and a little bit restricting, but that was the case in the movie as well, so it’s not really a complaint here.  Lastly, the figure swaps out the upper legs for a pair of more detailed ones, used from the Hammerdrones.  The Flame Trooper’s paintwork is pretty straightforward stuff, really.  It’s black, with thin white detialing.  It actually looks quite good, and makes for rather a striking figure. The Flame Trooper included no accessories, but given all of the sculpted extras, I suppose that’s excusable.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I grabbed these two from a TRU on a road trip with my my family back in 2011.  Gabe isn’t the star figure in this assortment, but he’s exactly the sort of figure you like to see come out of movie assortments.  A fun second-tier character who wouldn’t otherwise get a figure.  The Hydra Flame trooper is another fun addition to the Hydra army, based on one of the cooler designs from the movie.

#1733: Negative Zone Spider-Man & Jack O’lantern

Before their demise last month, Toys R Us played a tremendous role in getting the Minimates brand into the hands of many new fans, as well as helping to introduce new licenses and bolstering the ranks of existing ones.  As with all things Minimates, by far the most successful of these ventures was with the Marvel license.  In the decade that they supported the line (well, the second time around, anyway), they put out 47 series and 6 boxed sets, with over 200 unique Minimates released therein.  That’s pretty darn impressive.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Negative Zone Spider-Man and Jack O’Lantern, comes from Series 25 of the main comics line of Marvel Minimates, which would prove to be the final TRU-exclusive assortment.

NEGATIVE ZONE SPIDER-MAN

Amongst the many zany properties of the Negative Zone is apparently the ability to create killer costume variants.  In addition to doing it for Spider-Man, it’s also done it for the Fantastic Four.  It’s a wonder Marvel hasn’t stuck a few more popular heroes through there to get some additional variants!  Negative Zone Spider-Man’s a variant that’s cropped up in other lines, but not yet been seen in Minimates, which is honestly a little bit surprising given how many Spider-Men we’ve gotten over the years (this one marks the 83rd, for those keeping count). Negative Zone Spider-Man is another vanilla ‘mate, so no add-on pieces here.  I much prefer this method of handling Spider-Men, so I’m happy this was the way they went. The important costume details are done via paint, which is applied very cleanly and is sharply defined, capturing his negative look from the comics very well.  It all makes for a very striking looking design, that’s also quite sleek.  As an added bonus, the head is almost a dead match for Agent Venom’s mask, should you wish to swap out the slip mask from the TTA set or turn your animated version into a comics one. For accessories, Negative Zone Spidey includes a webline (done in smokey translucent grey instead of the usual solid color; guess Spidey’s web-fluid was affected too), a Negative Zone effects base (a clever re-use of Invisible Woman’s forcefield piece), and the usual clear display stand.

JACK O’LANTERN

Jack O’Lantern’s a name that’s been held by four Marvel Super Villains.  None of them have ever really risen beyond second-string villain, but he’s got an intriguing design, so he’s gotten a few toys.  This marks his first Minimate, though.  This particular figure’s design is one that could equally work as original Jack O’Lantern Jason Macendale, or his immediate replacement Steven Mark Levens, and it could even work as Daniel Berkhart from before he re-designed his costume to become Mad Jack.  Point is, you’ve got options. Jack O’Lantern makes use of a unique pumpkin-shaped head in place of the usual cylinder.  At first glance I thought it might be re-used, either from Samhain or Pumpkin King Jack, but it’s a new piece.  He also has add-ons for the flame effect, and his flared boots and gloves.  It makes for a nice summation of Jack’s classic design, and the flames in particular work a lot better here than they have on the various Ghost Riders we’ve gotten over the years. Like Negative Zone Spidey, Jack’s paintwork is sharply handled, cleanly applied, and very bold and striking.  Traditionally, Jack’s color scheme is variations of green, rather than the green and black combo seen here.  However, differences in shading mean this general look has shown up on occasion, and it certainly looks very eye-catching. Jack O’Lantern is packed with a spare pumpkin-bomb-wielding hand, as well as his flying disk, a corresponding flight stand, and a standard clear display stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked up this set during TRU’s lengthy liquidation sales.  It was nearer the beginning, so they were essentially full price, but given how scarce Series 25 proved, I’m glad I got them when I did.  Negative Zone Spider-Man is far from an essential design, but as far as one-off variants go, he’s a pretty strong one, and quite a bit of fun.  Jack O’Lantern’s a fun lesser villain, and his Minimate lives up to all that fun, and even elevates him, crafting one of the best Spider-Foe ‘mates available.

#1727: Cosmic Silver Surfer & Swordsman

COSMIC SILVER SURFER & SWORDSMAN

MARVEL MINIMATES

Marvel Minimates is home to some off the wall choices in terms of characters, and especially pairings. The early Toys R Us-exclusive series were home to some of the most truly strange character pairings for the exclusive two-packs.  Most of them tried to keep at least some sort of common thread between the characters included, but today’s set, Silver Surfer and Swordsman is perhaps one of the weirdest.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

These two were released in the fifth series of TRU-exclusive Marvel Minimates.  They were both designed to fit with, at the time, current boxed sets, those sets being Infinity Gauntlet and Thunderbolts, respectively.

COSMIC SILVER SURFER

Despite his status as a fairly major player on the cosmic side of Marvel, this is the second of only three Silver Surfer Minimates.  His low number of releases is undoubtedly due to his largely unchanged look over the years.  Sure, he’s had some minor stylistic tweaks, but only so much of that can be conveyed through a 2-inch block figure form.  As such, Surfer’s debut ‘mate went unchallenged for a good five years (and, depending on who you talk to, he’s still the best version of the character).  In 2009, however, there were a lot of new fans coming into Minimates, so it seemed about the right time for a new version, so we got this guy.  Silver Surfer is, and always shall be, a vanilla ‘mate.  There’s really no other way to properly do this guy.  It’s worth noting, however, that the Minimate body has had some subtle changes over the years.  In 2009, the necks got kind of short for a while, which throws off the design more than you might think.  It makes Surfer look a little more powerhouse-y than usual. The paint is, of course, the key element here.  The original Surfer ‘mate was more on the simplistic side of things, as was the style of the line at time.  By the time this guy was released, Minimates were far more detailed.  This guy gets a much more intensive paint job, which looks to be heavily influenced by Jim Starlin’s take on the character from Infinity Gauntlet.  Given the release of a whole Infinity Gauntlet boxed set the month prior to this figure hitting TRU, it was a solid stylistic choice for DST.  With that said, I can’t help but feel the figure ends up looking rather busy with all those lines and everything going on.  The head and limbs aren’t so bad (in fact, I think the face on this Surfer is my favorite of the three), but the torso is just too much.  He looks like he has a second face down there. Since he had no actual add-ons, Silver Surfer instead gets a bunch of accessories.  Obviously, he gets his board, which had been tweaked from the original release to add a peg for him to be attached, as well as a peg hole on the opposite side, thus allowing for the attachment of the included flight stand.  He also included a pair of hand blast effects and electricity effects, both molded in a very pleasing translucent purple.

SWORDSMAN

Marvel has had five different characters who bore the name “Swordsman” (and that’s not getting into alternate universes).  The one depicted here is Andreas von Strucker, originally one half of the Fenris Twins, Baron Von Strucker’s two children.  Following the death of his sister Andrea, he took up the Swordsman title.  He was never a particularly noteworthy character, but had the good fortune of being part of Norman Osborn’s Thunderbolts team, which got a full line-up of Minimates.  He was just along for the ride, I suppose.  It probably helps that he has a pretty solid design. Swordsman featured sculpted add-ons for his helmet, gloves, and belt.  The gloves are re-used from Captain America, but the helmet and belt were new pieces.  Everything was well sculpted and sits well on the ‘mate body.  I quite like the helmet in particular; they’ve done a very good job of translating it to the Minimate form.  The belt is more basic fare, but is notable in it’s inclusion of a spot to keep his sword stashed.  As with Silver Surfer, his head sits a little low on the neck, but this is less noticeable with the addition of the helmet. Swordsman’s paintwork is pretty solid stuff overall.  The shade of purple they’ve chosen actually looks quite nice, and even photographs well (a rarity when it comes to purples), and the detailing on the chain mail is quite impressive.  Under the mask, we get Andreas von Strucker’s ugly mug, and I do mean ugly.  Though he’s got a peg hole in his head, there are painted on ears, meaning this is supposed to be Andreas after he shaved his head, though if you want to throw in your own hairpiece, the option’s there. For accessories, all Swordsman gets is a single sword, borrowed from the Defenders set’s Valkyrie.  It’s a decent enough, but I do feel the extra hairpiece would have been a nice extra bit of value.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This set’s announcement frustrated me a bit.  I was excited by both figures included, but up to that point, none of the TRU-exclusives had been particularly easy to get a hold of.  Fortunately, I didn’t have much trouble with these two.Though not perfect, this Silver Surfer was much appreciated at the time of his release.  If I’m honest, I don’t truly believe any of the three Surfers is better than the others; they all present a slightly different take on the character.  If a more modern Surfer is what you’re looking for, then this one’s the one you’re after.  Despite this not being a version of Swordsman I have any particular attachment to, I really like this ‘mate.  He’s quite well put together, and it’s a design that just works well in this style.  Now, one of these days I’d really like a proper Jacques Duquesne Swordsman, but that’s a whole other thing.

#1661: Thor, Rocket, & Teen Groot

THOR, ROCKET, & GROOT

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“When a blaster-toting raccoon, a teenage tree, and a Asgardian god get together, the journey is sure to be out of this world.”

You thought I’d slip, didn’t you?  You thought I’d forget about my new favorite running gag!  That I’d review a Thor figure on a day other that Thursday!  Well….I actually almost did.  Yep, had this one queued up for tomorrow.  Like an idiot.  It’s okay, I got better.  It’s been a week since I wrapped up my first round of Infinity War-themed Legends reviews.  Now I’m coming back to it for another multi-pack.  This one’s got the aforementioned Thor, as well as one-third of the Guardians of the Galaxy, Rocket and Groot!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Thor, Rocket, and Groot are another displaced Toys R Us-exclusive.  They were meant to be the follow-up to Vision and Scarlet Witch, and were only confirmed to exist just before TRU announced they were going under.  It’s not known how many of them actually made it to TRU, but it’s certainly less than Vision and Scarlet Witch.  As with the other displaced exclusives, it’ll be available over the summer via Entertainment Earth.

THOR

After taking a bit of a back seat for Age of Ultron, Thor’s right back in the forefront for Infinity War.  Of the many characters included in the film, he’s the first to have a variant confirmed.  This one uses his early-in-the-film appearance, picking up from the end of Ragnarok.  If you haven’t seen that film, his eye-patch-wearing head’s going to be a bit of a spoiler.  It’s a major selling point for this set, though, being the only version of the character available right now with the eye patch.  He’s also sans cape, which is a first for the MCU Thor figures.  I like it.  The figure stands 7 inches tall and has 30 points of articulation.  At first glance, I’d kind of expected this figure to make use of a lot of Gladiator Thor’s pieces, but there doesn’t actually appear to be anything shared between them.  I think that’s ultimately for the best, as I felt there were some minor issues with the last one.  This one has a really solid, hefty construction, and his posablity is actually really great given how bulky he is.  The head looks to be about the same as the un-helmeted Ragnarok sculpt, but with the eyepatch, of course.  It’s a pretty decent likeness of Hemsworth, so I can’t complain.  What I can complain about?  The paint.  It’s perhaps the only thing I don’t like about this figure.  I mean, the basics are fine.  The detailing on the hair works.  But, what I really don’t like is the lightning effects.  The details on the torso in particular look rather cheesy.  I don’t hate the effects on the eye; if it were an extra head, I’d probably find it really cool.  As the only eye-patched Thor head out there?  It’s a little annoying.  Like the Ragnarok two-pack release, he’s packed with Heimdall’s sword.  He still doesn’t use it in this movie, and I still want an actual Heimdall, but it’s better than nothing.

ROCKET

Any Rocket figure is going to have the rather difficult task of surpassing the Mantis Series release.  Hasbro has acknowledged this fact, and pretty much just given us a straight re-release of that figure.  There are some minor paint differences between the two, with the accents being a darker grey this time.  He also only gets the calm head, but he does still get both of his blasters (sadly lacking the cool painted details) as well as his brand-new gun that’s been packed with all of the Infinity War Rockets.

GROOT

I’d say Groot’s the biggest draw of this set, since we’ve not yet gotten this version of the character in Legends form (though we did get a surprisingly good version of him from the basic Infinity War line).  The figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 25 points of articulation.  Articulation is the main differentiating thing between the two teen Groot figures, with this one being not only far more posable, but also having the articulation better worked into the overall sculpt.  This figure also gets a little more detailing, especially on the smaller details, such as the little twig growing from the top of his head.  His head seems to be a little more accurate to Groot’s Infinity War design than the basic figure (in the basic figure’s defense, he seems to have been based on our brief glimpse of Teen Groot from Guardians Vol. 2), with a rounder face, and an even poutier expression.  He’s not a perfect recreation of Teen Groot; I think his chin’s a bit too pronounced; but he’s still pretty close.  The paint is kind of sparse on this figure, which is a little surprising given the accent work that the basic figure got.  The browns are just left flat, which is a little disappointing.  On the plus side, there’s some slight green representing vegetation, which keeps him from being too monotonous, and his eyes are nice and sharp as well.  Groot includes his gamepad…or *a* gamepad, because I don’t think this is the one he had in the movie.  It’s still a nice touch, though, and I’m glad he got *something*

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I found this set at one of the two slowly dying Toys R Us’s near me.  I thought Vision and Scarlet Witch were just a stroke of luck, but this set popped up about a week after.  Honestly, it’s a set I was uncertain about when it was first shown off, since there’s not a *ton* of new stuff here.  Rocket’s essentially identical.  If you missed his first release, it’s great that there’s a second opportunity, but if you didn’t, he’s extraneous.  I quite like Thor, like to a surprising level, but he’s got a few flaws, and if you aren’t big on lots of variants of the same character, he too can feel a bit extraneous, especially with the fully equipped version from the Cull Obsidian assortment on its way.  A lot of this set’s selling power is resting on Groot.  He’s a good figure, but I can’t say he’s enough of an improvement on the basic series figure to warrant 5 times the price to get him.  Of course, I got my set for 20%, since I got it from TRU, but I can see it being a tricky sell at full retail.  I’m certainly happy I have it, but not everyone’s as willing to drop tons of money on toys as I am!

*Miss this at TRU and still want a set of your own?  It’s currently in stock with our sponsors over at All Time Toys!  Check it out here!

#1647: Colonel James Cameron

COLONEL JAMES CAMERON

ALIENS (NECA)

Okay, so Avengers: Infinity War starts hitting US theatres today, but I’m taking a one-day reprieve from the Avengers stuff to celebrate today’s other notable thing:  it’s Alien Day again!  And I actually remembered to set aside an Aliens-related item for this year.  Of course, the focus of this review, a figure based on Aliens director James Cameron, is rather amusing in light of Cameron’s comments in the last week about hoping for audiences to get “Avengers fatigue” so that we can back to creating new sci-fi ideas.  You know, like those 5 Avatar sequels we’ve all really been clamoring for.  That’s what the people want.  I wonder how he’d feel about his action figure being smack dab in between Avengers figures.  Well, he’d have to read the site for that to apply.  Odds of that seem low.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Colonel Cameron was a Toys R Us-exclusive figure, released as part of NECA’s running 30th Anniversary assortment of their Aliens line.  He started cropping up in stores towards the end of last year/early this year.  As with Sgt. Windrix, Cameron doesn’t represent a character actually from Aliens, but is more of a concept figure instead.  The figure stands 7 inches tall and he has 28 points of articulation.  He uses the long-sleeved Marine body we’ve seen on both Windrix and Frost.  It’s still a very strong sculpt, even five years after its introduction into the line, and I can’t really see any improvements on it at this point.  It remains one of NECA’s strongest sculpts, so their desire to get as much mileage out of it as possible is pretty sensible.  Cameron gets a new head sculpt, which is sporting a pretty darn fantastic likeness of Cameron circa 1986.  The details are sharp, and it’s well-fitted to the base body.  He’ll fit right in with the rest of the crew.  Colonel Cameron’s paint work is on par with what we’ve been seeing on the more recent offerings from this line.  Application is cleaner than most of the line’s earliest offerings, and he makes use of the molded skin-tone plastic, which helps him look more lifelike.  The detailing on the armor matches up with the other Marines, but Cameron has his own unique graffiti-ing.  It’s really just a planet on his backplate.  I might have liked a little bit more personality, but this is a fun touch, and it’s certainly better than nothing at all.  Cameron’s accessories are his most impressive aspect.  The re-used compliment includes the standard issue M41A pulse rifle, the handgun included with Frost, and a motion tracker.  Figure-specific, there’s a clapboard (which admittedly doesn’t make much sense in-universe, but it’s cool nonetheless) and the viewfinder Cameron used when scouting locations.  A lot of fun pieces in there, which show a real commitment to making this release stand out from the standard-issue figures.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Obviously, the odds of me missing a figure like this were always going to be slim.  That being said, I did see him a couple of times in the store before I finally got around to picking him up.  It was ultimately the announcement of Toys R Us’ planned closure that pushed me to pick him up, since I definitely didn’t want to miss out.  He’s another top-notch figure from NECA, and a fantastic addition to the line.  Happy to have the chance to add him to my collection.

#1646: Vision & Scarlet Witch

VISION & SCARLET WITCH

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Both empowered by the Mind Stone, Vision and Scarlet Witch are powerful forces in the throes of battle.”

Avengers: Infinity War is almost upon us, which is pretty darn exciting.  There’s a metric ton of product out there for it right now, including the largest movie compliment of Marvel Legends Hasbro’s done yet.  When Age of Ultron came out, the MCU-Legends were still on the slow rise at retail.  This meant that it was tricky enough just to get the core Avengers all represented, so there was certainly no space for the team’s new recruits from the movie.  Scarlet Witch found her way into the Civil War assortments, but poor Vision’s been up in the air for three years.  Can I get a “finally”?

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

When is an exclusive not an exclusive?  When the company that paid for it goes out of business.  Yes, this pair was supposed to be the first of a large number of Toys R Us-exclusive Marvel Legends two-packs planned for this year.  Because of Infinity War’s release date, this set was already produced and some of it had made its way to TRU’s warehouses prior to their announcement of liquidation.  They’re keeping what they already had, but anything not already in their possession is going to be distributed through online retailers later this year.

VISION

Vision is very obviously this set’s star, and looks set to play quite a pivotal role in Infinity War, what with possessing one of the Infinity Stones and all.  His design has remained consistent through all three of his MCU appearances so far, so this figure has an easy time of picking an appropriate look.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  Okay, so first minor complaint about the figure: his height.  Bettany is 6’3”.  On a strict 1:12 scale, the figure’s height is fine, but Legends hasn’t really ever been on a strict 1:12 scale.  Bettany is the same height as Chris Hemsworth, and while the Thor figures have a tendency to slightly over-state Hemsworth’s height, I feel Vision should be at least a little taller, so as to not be totally dwarfed by Thor.  Moving past that, it’s worth noting that this figure is sporting a brand-new sculpt.  I have a few minor nit-picks, mostly having to do with him seeming a bit too skinny.  That said, the overall quality is pretty top-notch.  The likeness on the head bears a decent resemblance to Bettany, and the texture work all throughout the body is definitely impressive.  He’s certainly on par with the recent kick of very strong MCU sculpts.  Even the cape has a nice flow about it, and captures the intricate nature of the design from the films.  Vision’s paintwork is pretty decent.  The metallic colors are fun, and he uses the same face printing technique as the others for his eyes.  His cape is a slight letdown; the semi-translucent effect is nice, but rather than fully detailing the back of the cape like in the movie, he’s just got several streaks of metallic pink going down the back.  It gets the general effect alright, but it does rob the sculpt of some of its impact.  Vision’s packed with two sets of hands.  The standard ones are in open gestures, which feel very true to the character, and there’s also a pair of fists.  You know, for punchin’.

SCARLET WITCH

Scarlet Witch’s design has only changed minimally since Civil War, so it follows that this figure is mostly just a retread of that one.  It’s the same exact sculpt, which is fine by me, since that sculpt was a favorite of mine.  It still holds up well two years after its release.  The figure gets a new paint scheme, detailing her lighter hair color from this film, as well as upgrading her to the new face printing tech, which has improved her likeness to an amazing level I didn’t realize was possible.  I thought the Civil War release was pretty solid at the time when it hit, but this release makes that one look kinda goofy.  This figure also ditches the effects pieces form the last version, and adds in a new set.  I thought the old effects pieces were by far the weak point of the last figure, so the new pieces are a very welcome addition.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve been wanting Vision since 2015, so I was happy to hear he’d be getting a figure courtesy of Infinity War.  I was less happy to hear it would be a TRU exclusive, and even less so when they announced the impending closures.  I initially thought I might be missing this set, but then when Entertainment Earth put it up for pre-order, I planned to just wait to get it from them.  Then TRU started clearing out their warehouses, and I walked in one day to find a case of this set sitting on the shelf.  That was most definitely a pleasant surprise.  If only I’d had more experiences like that *before* they were going under.  Vision isn’t a perfect figure, but he’s a very, very good one, and an awesome addition to my collection.  Scarlet Witch takes a figure I already loved and makes it bafflingly better than it was before.  This is a fantastic set, and I hope everyone who wants one can get one.

#1604: Dora Milaje Nakia & Dora Milaje Okoye

DORA MILAJE NAKIA & DORA MILAJE OKOYE

MARVEL MINIMATES

Prior to seeing Black Panther, I was largely unfamiliar with both Nakia and Okoye.  Fortunately, the movie fixed that for me, and in fact I found both characters to be immensely entertaining and a great addition to the MCU.  Sure, they weren’t M’Baku or Shuri, but they were still solid supporting cast members.  Seeing as the two of them essentially never leave T’Challa’s side, they’ve found their way into just about every format of figure, including the Minimates, where they’re even packed together.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Nakia and Okoye are the Toys R Us-exclusive pair from the Black Panther assortment of Marvel Minimates.  They shipped alongside the non-exclusive Black Panther/M’Baku and Killmonger/Klaue sets.

DORA MILAJE NAKIA

Okay, so, right off the bat, this figure’s a bit of a misnomer.  Nakia is not a part of the Dora Milaje.  She *is* wearing one of their uniforms (since it was what was available in the few moments before she charged into battle), but that hardly makes her one of them.  In fact, it’s kind of an important plot point that she’s not bound to their oaths.  So, yeah.  Nakia is based on the standard ‘mate body, so she’s roughly 2 1/4 inches tall and she has the usual 14 points of articulation.  The figure has four add-on pieces for her hair, belt/skirt, and wrist bands.  All of these are new to Nakia, and they work pretty well for her.  I think the shaping of the hair is a little off; it should be more top heavy than it is.  The paintwork is pretty solid.  The likeness is sort of generic, but it’s not awful.  The details on the uniform are sharp and cleanly applied, and she’s quite on the colorful side, which is always a plus.  Nakia is packed with her pair of hoop blades, as well as a clear display stand.

DORA MILAJE OKOYE

Okay, so Okoye *is* one of the Dora Milaje.  In fact, she’s the leader of the Dora Milaje, so the title here is definitely appropriate.  Structurally, Okoye is essentially identical to Nakia.  Same belt/skirt, same wrist bands.  The only actual difference is her lack of hair.  Seeing as it’s a uniform, the shared pieces are certainly acceptable.  The difference between these two is just paint.  Okoye’s paint is still somewhat similar, of course.  The details are sharp on her uniform, and her likeness is actually pretty darn spot-on.  The slight change in her color denotes her higher rank as well, and, like Nakia, she’s quite colorful.  Okoye includes her staff and a clear display stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This set is ultimately the main reason I ended getting the whole assortment of Black Panther ‘mates.  After seeing the movie, Super Awesome Girlfriend wanted Pop!s of Nakia, Shuri, and Okoye.  Unfortunately, Okoye isn’t available at regular retail.  So, this set is another joint custody item, purchased so that SAGF could have some version of Okoye.