#1853: Spider-Man

SPIDER-MAN

MARVEL LEGENDS GAMERVERSE (HASBRO)

“Now a seasoned Super Hero, Peter Parker has been busy keeping crime off the streets as Spider-Man.  Just as he’s ready to focus on life as Peter, a new villain threatens New York City.  Faced with overwhelming odds and higher stakes, Spider-Man must rise up and be greater.”

I had originally planned to continue the Star Wars thing today, but with the passing of comics-legend Stan Lee yesterday afternoon, I’ve decided to shift focus for the purposes of today’s entry.  I never met Stan Lee, but for 23 of my 26 years, he managed to influence every day of my life, be it directly through his introductory segments during the Marvel Action Hour in the ‘90s and his numerous cameos in all of the Marvel films since, or indirectly through the universe he helped to create, and all the characters he created to populate it, and all of the important messages that he would use them to tell.  The man influenced the lives of a great many people he never even met, and taught a lot of us how to be the best versions of ourselves, while at the same time reminding us that nobody’s perfect, and that’s okay too.  Stan had great power, and he did his very best to use it responsibly.  The creation Stan was always the proudest of was Spider-Man, and so I feel it’s only fitting that in his honor, I take a look at a Spider-Man figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Spider-Man is the inaugural release in the Marvel Legends Gamerverse line, which, as you may have gathered from the name, is a line devoted to the current crop of Marvel video games.  Spidey here is based on his appearance in the recent PS4-exclusive Spider-Man game, which hit just a few months ago.  The figure was initially supposed to hit closer to the game, then was pushed back to December, and then was moved up again.  The important thing is that he actually made it out.  So, yay.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 34 points of articulation.  He’s built entirely from re-used parts, but Hasbro’s got a substantial enough library that it’s a reasonable way of handling certain figures, this one included.  He’s built on the 2099 body, and makes use of the head from Spider-UK.  Interestingly, this means we have a Peter Parker figure that’s not built from any Peter Parker parts.  The end result is a figure that actually has something of a John Romita Sr-styling to him (I’d love to see this same combo done up in a classic deco), which definitely works for the game’s version of our favorite wall-crawler.  The paintwork for this figure is, of course, its main selling point, since that’s what truly signifies it as a video game Spidey.  The design is nice and distinctive, and the paint is crisply applied and a solid match for the in-game appearance, all while still maintaining the currently running Legends aesthetic. Spidey is packed with two different sets of hands in thwipping poses and fists, as well as a two of the new webline piece we first saw with the House of M Spidey.  It’s a nice selection of extras, especially in light of some of the recent Spidey variants lacking the extra hands and such.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve liked the PS4 Spidey design since it was first shown off, and was definitely hoping for a figure of some sort, so when this guy was announced, I knew I’d want to get one.  Super Awesome Fiancee was nice enough to pre-order him for me through her store, which proved an especially helpful move, since this guy’s proved rather scarce since his release.  Despite being made up totally of re-used parts, this is one of my favorite Spider-Men of recent years.  He’s just an entertaining figure all-around, and a good fit for today’s theme.

Excelsior!

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#1776: Motorized Patriot

MOTORIZED PATRIOT — BENJAMIN FRANKLIN

BIOSHOCK INFINITE (NECA)

“Originally constructed by Fink MFG. to serve as tour guides for the residents of Columbia, the Motorized Patriots now serve as a standing guard for the entire city.  Fearless and unrelenting, without a shred of self preservation, the Patriots will track down and eliminate any opposition without remorse.  Will you be able to find the right combination to defeat these automated monstrosities?”

You guys ready to play another game of Ethan reviews a figure from a video game he’s never played?  Oh yeah, let’s do this!  The game I’ve never played this time is Bioshock Infinite, the third game in the Bioshock series, a whole series of games I’ve never played.  But this one has cool old-timey motorized robot automaton things, which in turn make for cool action figures.  And that’s by far the most important thing for me.  So, without further ado, here’s the Motorized Patriot.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Benjamin Franklin Motorized Patriot is the second to last release in NECA’s Bioshock Infinite line.  He’s the second of the Motorized Patriot after the George Washington version from earlier in the line.  Unlike Washington, who was actually in the game, Franklin is just a concept figure.  The figure stands 9 1/4 inches tall and he has 19 points of articulation.  Ben shares most of his pieces with the first Motorized Patriot.  The movement on the joints is a little bit stiff, especially on the legs.  That right knee in particular doesn’t have much budge to it.  With that said, you can definitely get the basic standing poses the Patriots stand in in-game, and he’s pretty stable.  The body sculpt is up to NECA’s usual standards, with sharp, crisp detailing on the uniform, and some very nice dynamic work on the folds and wrinkles, which matches up pretty decently with the game stylings.  This figure removes the shoulder pauldrons from the Washington Patriot, which actually does quite a bit to change up the general shaping of the figure, and sell him as a more unique “character.”  Also helping sell him as a new character is the unique head, which captures the classical Ben Franklin image.  It does look perhaps slightly off on the thinner Washington body, but it’s a solid sculpt in its own right.  In contrast to Washington, Ben gets to keep both of his eyes, though one of his lids is broken, helping to keep up that sort of creepy appearance.  The paint work on Ben is pretty impressive.  He swaps out the blue of Washington’s military jacket for a deep purple, which works quite well for the design.  The application is all quite clean, and the accent work on his uniform does a lot of favors for the sculpt.  The Patriot’s primary accessory is his main weapon, the Peppermill gatling gun.  It features a spinning barrel and a rotating handle, and is just generally a pretty cool piece.  The only slight downside is that the handles are the slightest bit too big for the figure’s hands, which can easily cause breakage if you aren’t careful.  Fortunately, you can pretty easily mod the figure’s hands by cutting the connection between in thumb and forefinger, and that saves a lot of trouble.  The Patriot also includes a pair of Columbia flags, for mounting on the figure’s back, as well as an alternate head, sans the Franklin mask, which is also appropriately creepy.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Back when these figures were new, I totally meant to get one of these guys.  I was trying to pick between Washington and Franklin, and just ended up getting distracted by other things.  So, why end up with one now?  Well, as you may have noticed, the number for this review is 1776, so I wanted something appropriately festive, and I remembered these guys.  Fortunately, I was able to get some assistance from my friends at All Time Toys, who were able to secure me this guy for this review.  I think if I had the choice, I might have instead gone for Washington, but this one is still really, really solid.

If you want one of these for your very own, he’s still in stock with All Time, so check him out here.  Or, if your looking for something else, make sure to check out their web store and their eBay storefront.

#1690: Claptrap

CLAPTRAP

BORDERLANDS (MCFARLANE)

“A general purpose CL4P-TP robot manufactured by Hyperion, Claptrap acts as the Vault Hunter’s (sometimes) useful guide and quest-giver on Pandora. Programmed with an overenthusiastic personality, Claptrap masks his fear and loneliness behind cheerful bravado.”

What happens when you cross R2-D2 and Jar-Jar Binks?  Claptrap.  Okay, well that’s what some people think, anyway.  I don’t quite agree.  Claptrap’s nowhere near as annoying as Jar-Jar.  That said, he’s cetainly more talkative than R2.  Or at least more fluent in English.  Anyway, he’s by far the most merchandised character from the Borderlands, so it wasn’t much of a shock that he turned up as one of the earlier offerings from McFarlane’s Borderlands toyline.  I’ll be looking at that figure today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Claptrap is the first deluxe offering from the Borderlands line, hitting shelves at the same time as the Zer0 figure, and thus loosely making up the second series of the line.  Most of McFarlane’s deluxe figure offerings are at a larger scale than standard releases, but this isn’t the case with Claptrap, who is meant to be in the same relative scale as the three prior figures.  The figure stands 4 1/2 inches tall and he has 15 points of articulation.  The majority of the articulation is in the arms, but he’s got a movable eye and a “lid” that goes up and down, which is a pretty nifty feature.  As far as scaling of this figure relative to the others, he seems a touch large for my eyes.  Like, not atrociously so, but he just looks a little off to me.  It *could* just be his accessories that are throwing me off.  His sculpt is an all-new one, and its a pretty solid offering.  The model from the game has been well captured here.  The details are clean, and the line work is sharp.  There’s some great work on the dings and weathering on his outer plating, which helps give him that nice broken-in look that fits in so well with the game aesthetic.  My one complaint about the sculpt is the pegs they’ve put on his top for his hats.  They’re not at all subtle, and break up an otherwise very  faithful sculpt.  I think it would have made more sense to put the pegs in the hats, since the holes would be less obvious.  The paintwork matches up with the sculpt, the base work is clean, and the accenting helps sell the sculpted details.  There’s a slight gash on my figure’s eye, which is a little annoying, but it’s minor, and I think it’s safe to say it’s not the norm.  Claptrap includes a stand, which uses an articulated arm to plug into his back.  He can’t stand without it (it’s just one of the troubles of translating this design) so it’s certainly appreciated.  He also includes a sherrif’s hat and revolver, and a wizard’s hat and two different wands.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Though I don’t dislike Claptrap as much as some of the fanbase, I still waited a bit on this one.  I ended up grabbing the last one at my local TRU, once they hit the 40% off level of their liquidation process.  He’s a pretty decent figure, but I’m not sure he’s really worth the heightened price.  It’ll be interesting to see how this concept works out for McFarlane.

#1616: Zer0

ZER0

BORDERLANDS 2 (McFARLANE TOYS)

“Shrouded in mystery, Zer0 is an assassin-for-hire whose identity and origin are unknown. Left unsatisfied after a previous target failed to fight back, Zer0 turned to Vault hunting in search of a worthy challenge.”

Borderlands 2 is, if I’m being quite honest, a favorite game.  In terms of figures, toymakers always focus, just on NPCs.  This has upset me, and other fans I’ve no doubt, who want Vault Hunters.  They are the center, of all of the cool gameplay, and have neat designs.  For their second set, McFarlane has broached the group, with the Assassin.  His is the figure, which I plan to examine, for today’s review.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Allow me to tell, the info of this figure, such as I know it. He is named Zer0, part of the second series, of Borderlands 2.  He’s from McFarlane, same as his predecessors, Jack and small Tina (Tiny is her name, usually that is, lest I do this thing).  Of the Color Tops, he is numbered 41, ‘spite the others lack. He stands 7 inches, and he is packed with movement, 26 points here.  Articulation, as it is for this figure, has been worked in well.  It’s superior, a definite improvement, to prior figures.  The hips merit note, as they diverge from others, and are the best yet.  Movement is solid, though it’s somewhat restricted, to preserve the sculpt.  Zer0’s sculpt is new, rendered from his game model, and quite expertly.  His build is proper, he’s appropriately thin, and oh so scrawny.  The other details, such as weathering and wear, is also top-notch.  His armor’s beaten, it’s all scratched up and dingy, just as it should be. In terms of paintwork, Zer0 exhibits quality, that is like his friends.  The details are clean, and the colors match the game, and he looks the part.  There is some small slop, it’s on his right upper arm, but it’s not awful.  Zer0 is packed with, an assortment of extras, all of them well picked.  First is a number, to attach to his faceplate, as within the game.  It can be tricky, getting it properly placed, but once on it stays.  Also included, the Infinity Pistol, winnable in-game.  Though it’s well-sculpted, Zer0 has trouble with it, falling from his hand.  Up next is a sword, Zer0 uses for melee, and always has near.  It’s really quite long, in fact surprisingly so, more than half his height.  It has got a peg, which helps to keep it in place, unlike the pistol.  The third thing packed in, is a display stand like Jack’s, which keeps him stable.  Lastly included,  there are SHIFT codes for the game, granting you three keys.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Zer0 was purchased, on a trip to Toys R Us, and was a surprise.  I’d just discovered, the two Series 1 figures, and didn’t expect him.  Zer0 is solid, the best of the three figures, so far in the line.  I’m happy with him, and am eager to see others, of the Vault Hunters.  Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to stop writing, in the haiku form.

#1588: Terror-Billy (B.J. Blazkowicz) – The Cold-Blooded Terrorist

TERROR-BILLY (B.J. BLAZKOWICZ) — THE COLD-BLOODED TERRORIST

WOLFENSTEIN II: NEW COLOSSUS (BETHESDA)

“Murderer…Spy…Saboteur…Assassin…only some of the ways to describe the Fiend William Joseph Blazkowicz—the Most Wanted Man in the World.  A Captain of the vanquished U.S. Army Rangers, Blazkowicz was rendered vollig untauglich sum Dienst during a failed assault on a Regime compound. Blazkowicz awoke from his coma fourteen years later as “Terror-Billy”—a mindless killer!—and launched a six month reign of violence across Europe.  After brutally assassinating the esteemed Minister of Advanced Research, Wilhelm Strasse, Blazkowicz vanished.  Some think him dead, others that he went underground and lurks in the American Territories of the Regime. Now it is up to you and Elite Hans to hunt down Terror-Billy and make him face the justice he has so cruelly denied his innocent victims.”

Alright, here we are.  The review I teased a week and a half ago has finally arrived.  Does this mean I sorted out my camera issues?  No it does not.  But, I’ve got a loaner for the time being, and I’m making the best of it.  Wooo.  As today’s guest review of Wolfenstein II by my brother may have clued you in, this review is video game based.  In fact, it’s based on the very same game, albeit I’m not looking at the game itself but rather…

THE FIGURE ITSELF

That was clever, right?  No?  Well, I tried.  BJ Blazkowicz, or Terror-Billy as he’s dubbed by the packaging, is a pack-in figure, included with the deluxe edition of Wolfenstein II: New Colossus.  If you want to get technical, the way the figure is presented, he’s actually the main item, with the game being packed-in with him, but nevertheless, he’s the extra, not the main selling point.  This is something to keep in mind for the purposes of this review.  In the context of the game universe, this figure is supposed to be part of the larger Elite Hans toyline, which is sort of the evil-alternate universe equivalent of G.I. Joe.  Given the ‘60s setting of the last two Wolfenstein games, this is a rather appropriate.  That being said, it’s worth noting that this Blazkowicz figure owes most of his existence to the ‘90s revival of the 12-inch scale than to the vintage G.I. Joe.  It’s a perfectly sensible choice, mind you, and one that I think will resonate a bit better with the fanbase of Wolfenstein II, so I can’t fault Bethesda for going this particular route.  The figure stands 12 1/4 inches tall and has 22 points of articulation. 

The head is the real high point of the main figure.  It’s somewhat generic, but overall is a solid rendition of Blazkowicz’s in-game model.  He should have a few more scars, I think, but he’s got that overall grizzled and determined look down pat.  The paintwork on the head isn’t Hot Toys level or anything, but it’s still pretty sharp, and pretty realistic.  It’s on par with the best of the older Joes and that’s nothing to shrug off. 

Flipping over to the definite weak point of this figure, let’s take a look at his underlying body.  I’m not sure if this is based on an existing mold (it wouldn’t surprise me to find out it was; the molds from defunct toy companies are usually pretty easy to procure), but it’s definitely not quite up to the quality of even Hasbro’s older molds.  It’s hollow and very light, and not particularly lifelike.  Now, none of these things are really a major issue on figures of this nature, since that’s all pretty well hidden by the clothing.  The real letdown of this particular body is the lack of any sort of swivel joint at the biceps or thighs.  The legs I can get over, but no swivel on the arms means he can’t two-hand any of his weapons, which is a bit of a disappointment.  On the plus side, the hands, which are the only visible parts of the body, are actually pretty nicely sculpted, and look not unlike a lot of Hot Toys’ offerings in this respect.

Blazkowicz’s outfit includes a t-shirt, pants, rubber boots, and a two different leather jackets.  The shirt is a little tight, and the pants are a bit shapeless, but they’re decent enough, and would likely look better on a slightly better body.  I like the Rangers emblem on the shirt quite a bit.  The boots are big and a little clunky, however, given the style they were going for, this is accurate.  The two jackets allow for the choice between the main designs of the two games.  I’m partial to the bomber jacket myself, but the motorcycle jacket is certainly a well-put-together piece.  Both of them are well tailored, and help to mask some of the body’s faults.

In addition to previously mentioned extra jacket, the figure is packing “5 Deadly Weapons!” as is so proudly proclaimed by the box.  Included are the Dieselkraftwerk (flamethrower), Schockhammer X (shotgun), Laserkraftwerk (laser), Maschinenpistole (machine pistol), and Kriegsbeil (axe).  All of these weapons are incredibly detailed in terms of both sculpt and paint.  By far the highlight of the figure.  I do wish that in addition to the weapons he came with at least an extra set of hands, or even just an extra left hand with a grip to it.  Blazkowicz can dual wield weapons in the game, so being able to do that here would go a long way, and would also distract from the lack of bicep swivels.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As you may have gathered from Christian’s earlier review of the game, Terror-Billy comes from another joint purchase between the two of us.  Christian was quite fond of the last Wolfenstein game, so he was already on board for this one.  When we discovered that the deluxe version had this figure included, we were both pretty pumped.  Funds and time being factors, we didn’t end up getting this set quite as quickly as we’d planned, but Amazon marked it down to a pretty good deal, and neither of us felt we could pass it up.  Blazkowicz isn’t a top of the line figure.  He’s not going to be winning any awards or changing the industry.  But, as something that’s really more of a fun side novelty, he’s the sort of figure I can get behind.  Yeah, I’d have liked it if the base body were slightly better, but that’s honestly the easiest thing to replace on a 12-inch figure, and I can’t deny, I had a ton of fun playing around with this guy when I opened him up.

Wolfenstein II: New Colossus – A Video Game Review

In an industry just over 40 years old, we have finally reached the point in gaming where character models actually resemble people and game controllers feature more buttons than the number friends I have, it would make sense that we could focus on developing story and gameplay beyond our wildest imaginations. Games today could have branching stories and invest us in the character’s background and with the leg up on film or TV through the interactivity. Or they could innovate with new types of gameplay and create new genres to really make the general public treat video games with the same respect as they treat movies. Or a literal cup and mug could make a pact with the ACTUAL DEVIL and then have to gangster-snap a carrot to death to take its soul back.

*despair intensifies*

Fear not, though, as Wolfenstein: The New Colossus seeks to remedy my despair. With amazing cinematography and thrilling gameplay, this sequel to The New Order keeps up appearances for the game’s inevitable conclusion via the third game obviously going to be named Wolfenstein: The New Shadowcat. Who knew Fox would make a Wolfenstein game? Does that mean Disney owns it? Does that mean B.J. Blazkowicz is a Disney Princess?

This is a SPOILER WARNING.

 

The Story In Summary

As always, you are still William Joseph Blazkowicz. You have survived what was thought to be your death(again) via severe surgery and some good sleep(again). You awake a few months after the last game ended and start your journey wheelchair bound with pistol in hand. Eventually you gain a power suit from your ex-friend Caroline who has suffered a fresh King Louis and your bomber jacket has these big ole holes in it. (Like, from the power suit. Obviously a jacket has holes in it. How else would you put it on?) You may think Terror-Billy is perfectly fine, but your health only goes up to 50 for the first half of the game. You suffer through the pain just enough to go through a 1950s dream town Roswell to plant a nuke to blow up, you guessed it, Nazis. You drive away just in time, but the you get caught by the main antagonist of the game, Frau Engel. You are put on trial for war crimes and immediately sentenced to join eating cake with King Louis. You legit get beheaded and think you’re dead, but obviously SCIENCE occurs and your head is saved. Your melon is attached to a Chris Evans pottery class project and now B.J. is back to 100 health. The rest of the game increases the Nazi killing Zehn-fold and B.J. eventually knifes the heck out of Frau Engel. It ends patriotically and lovingly as you propose to Anya, your long time steady. That’s the story in a nutshell. Plenty more happens in this game and some might consider it too much. One of those some is me!

The Me Half of the Story Equation

This game has a story that is really really really trying to be good. I want it to succeed, but can’t help but say that the story of this game is its weakest area. While much caries over from The New Order, it almost feels like the writers wanted you to be able to play TNC without playing TNO which you shouldn’t do. These are supposed to be episodic and I don’t get why they felt the need to introduce so many plot lines in this game as if they were always there because they weren’t. I feel like the lack of J in this campaign really spelled out what was wrong with the side characters(aside from Fergus and Wyatt): none of them had really any personality. I especially noticed the side plot between Sigrund and Bombate pointing out as my biggest “Wait where did that come from?” The subplot concerning B.J.’s parents was really weak and introduced a lot of filler and bland storytelling aspects that only kept me from actually playing the game. The ending to the father storyline is completely underwhelming and trivializes what could’ve been a non-Nazi struggle in B.J.’s life into another “it’s all the Nazi’s fault” trope. The subplots really make this game look thematically weak which is unfortunate. The main story between Frau Engel, Fergus/Wyatt, B.J., and Anya* is enjoyable and moving. When this game focused on why it was fighting the Nazis instead of how it really shined and made me have fun being happy and happy to have fun. I hope the third game fixes these short changed plot lines because underneath all that mess is a game with a whole mess of heart.

*Anya gets the most badass moment in the whole game. Prepare.

Sorry to beat up on the game, but the praise is coming.

The Design In Question

Many said when The New Colossus was released that Bethesda didn’t shake anything up and that the setting formula was no different. I can’t outright disagree. Yeah, you travel across the map underground, on a train, and even to other celestial objects and shoot stuff and plant bombs and steal papers: it’s the same schtick. They’re right. However, where the word “Order” in the first game’s title is fitting to its universal grim aesthetic, The New Colossus plays around with the venir and creates a different essence in each level. A character like J in The New Order wouldn’t work in The New Colossus because TNC fully embraces the 1960s vibe or haze, if you will. First off, the sheer amount of collectibles in each level is stunning. Like the last game you can collect records you can actually listen to in the game, but you can also collect toys and gold as well as star cards which are drawings of famous entertainers and other German elite. These kinds of collectibles would be out of place and easy to spot in the dark and gloomy film tape of The New Order, but blend into the scenery in The New Colossus.  When you go to Roswell, it’s a 1950s dream town (if the dreams featured the literal KKK) wherein you act as a friendly firefighter carrying an extinguisher encasing a nuclear warhead. This scenery is bright and happy, despite your weaponry and their white supremacy. This deeply contrasts with your trip to Mesquite, Texas just after you blow Roswell the hell up. Mesquite is dusty and tan and rundown. Then you get back to the industrial but very personalized submarine you call home, the Eva’s Hammer to be told you have to fly to Venus to audition in front of Adolf Hitler for the lead role in a movie about you since they think you’re dead. Venus is, obviously, hot and blazing, but the insides are reminiscent of 1950s and 1960s science fiction bases. Each of these settings is a different flavor. TL;DR: The New Order is like passion-suppressing corn flakes in water where The New Colossus is like those cereal value packs where each cereal gets its own box.

The Gameplay In Question

On the subject of gameplay which is this game’s strongest aspect, I couldn’t put the controller down. I had a lot of trouble with The New Order when it came to the mesh between stealth and combat. I died non-stop and felt cheated nearly every time because the stealth mechanics were terrible. In this game, they’ve intertwined much better and make both stealth and combat seem like viable options at all times in the game. B.J. feels faster and leaner in this game once you get your new body. I would replay missions just for the heck of it because I love how Terror-Billy feels when he runs and shoots. This game lets the player decide when it goes from slow to fast and I adore being given that choice. This game fixed my biggest problem with TNO and I’m very grateful. This game features new tech for B.J. to strap to himself including ram shackles, which allow B.J. to run into people to kill them,  a battle walker, which allows you to double your height to gain a vantage point, and a compression harness, which allows you to compress your body under tight spaces. These all make the gameplay feel even fresher when the game is halfway done and come with their own upgrades that allow stuff like regenerative health and armor. This game when its about killing Nazis is 110% fun and I can’t get enough.

The Guns In Question

I’ll walk through each of the guns included with the figure and talk about how they were in the game.

The Machinepistole is a 9mm fully-automatic submachine gun. It’s the first gun B.J. gets in the game whilst battling à la wheel-chariot. This gun is your typical shooter submachine gun with three possible upgrades: a compressor, a nail gun attachment, and a drum magazine. I found this gun very easy to use in those areas where stealth could turn to combat as the compressor made headshotting enemies easy. I’d say this gun isn’t really worth much until you upgrade it, but I never stopped using it. I’d say I never ran out of ammo for this gun so you can trust it as a fallback gun above anything else.

The Schockhammer X is a buckshot automatic shotgun. I think this is the most “run and gun” weapon in the whole game. Someone peers out of the corner two feet in front of you and *BANG.* From distances more than ten feet, this gun is some weaksauce. But, that’s fine seeing as it’s a shotgun and you’re carrying a plethora of other such things. When B.J. is in the trains or any other tight squeeze, equip this gun. Even up against a heavy, this gun is fantastic at mowing any Nazi down in just a few shots. This gun has three upgrades: ricochet, which sends shrapnel flying all around after a shot, rotor, which allows for three shots to be fired with one trigger pull, and and extended magazine. Unlike the machinepistole, the schockhammer’s upgrades, to me, are really pointless and don’t help the gun do any more than it already does. I enjoy this gun a lot, but it is what it is: a dual-wieldable shotgun. Your mileage may vary.

The Laserkraftwerk is only available in the Reid Timeline. It’s very similar to the gun of the same name from the last game, but this is much more compact and powerful. This gun is a laser. It’s a laser. It takes a second to warm up, but it does some serious damage. Expect constant rumbling in your controller when firing this gun. The laserkraftwerk also works to melt metal plates in B.J’s way at various parts in the game. This gun works fine and is certainly cool looking, but functionally I didn’t really enjoy my time with it. There are three upgrades: enhanced scope, battery upgrade, and supercharge which kills a heavy in one shot. These upgrades do more than the schockhammer’s do, but not very much to make this gun fun. I much prefer the next and final gun in this package…

The Dieselkraftwerk is only available in the Wyatt Timeline. I think this is the most interesting and innovative gun in a series of extremely standard selections. It fires diesel-powered grenades that you can stick to just about anywhere and blow up anytime. I think this is a great weapon in both stealth and heavy fire as the ability to hold the detonator button down as you fire so the grenades explode on impact can essentially clear your screen. It is dope shooting a grenade on the back of a heavy causing his firepack to explode instantly killing him. If you detonate a regular Nazi they will go flying and actually get stuck about ten feet in the air, clipped into the wall. The Dieslekraftwek also helps B.J. traverse through metal plates and blast through holes in infrastructure. This gun comes with three upgrades: an ignition muzzle, which detonates the grenades as soon as they leave the barrel, supercharge, which fires five grenades in a row, and an extended barrel. The only thing  “bad” about this gun is that ammo can be incredibly scarce. Like with the Laserkraftwerk, there are charging stations placed randomly in the missions, but when you’re in a pinch they seem to disappear for a good half hour. Either way, this gun is my all-time favorite and I think this gun makes it worth playing the Wyatt storyline over the Fergus story. (Though you should still play both. They’re great stories that I won’t spoil here.)

The Overall

Overall, this game could’ve been better. It continues a great story of rebellion against Nazis and though topical right now, this game doesn’t get caught up in current politics. It remains true to the run and gun Nazi killing spree fans have loved for years while branching out and evolving extremely well and maturing for today’s audience. The story could use some work and maybe some of the guns could be a little more interesting, but like I said; I couldn’t put the controller down. This game is absolute fun from start to finish and a real-looker at that. This game hopefully seems to be the beginning of a new era in video game storytelling and I’m very behind Bethesda’s ultimate goal. I’d give this game a 7.5/10 only because I feel it banks too heavily on the success of the last game and feels a little closed in its world. Otherwise, please go buy this game and have as much fun as I did.

…. I’m still waiting for Wolverine and The Fastball Special DLC

#1576: Handsome Jack

HANDSOME JACK

BORDERLANDS 2 (MCFARLANE TOYS)

“After taking over the Hyperion corporation, Handsome Jack declared himself dictator of Pandora, and takes full credit for finding The Vault. Nestled in his geostationary “H-shaped” moon base, Jack can send supplies and troops down to Pandora, and most importantly can keep an eye on Vault Hunters at all times.”

In preparation for today’s review, I went back and looked at all of the other reviews I’ve done on Valentine’s Day, just to see how I started them off.  Did you know that in the four years I’ve been running this site, I’ve only once directly referenced the actual day in my review?  Weird.  Well, in our own odd way, Super Awesome Girlfriend and I are celebrating the holiday by sitting down and reviewing some action figures from a property we both love: Borderlands!  Her review of Tiny Tina went up earlier today, and I’m following it up with a look at the other half of the set, Handsome Jack!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Handsome Jack is the second of the two figures in the first series of McFarlane’s Borderlands 2 line.  These two were originally meant to be part of the overarching Color Tops line that McFarlane had running, where each figure was given a number, but it appears that whole idea was dropped in favor of just doing a bunch of dedicated lines.  Borderlands already has two more series confirmed, so that seems to have worked out alright.  Jack stands 7 inches tall and he has 22 points of articulation.  There was some concern when these figures were first shown that they would be little more than glorified statues (especially given the early offerings from Color Tops), and they were even solicited as only having 12 points of articulation.  While Jack’s not going to be pulling off any crazy kung fu moves or anything, he’s actually quite posable, on par with McFarlane’s Halo and Walking Dead offerings.  My only real complaint is how limited the hips are.  They do alright for minor tweaks to his stance, but that’s about it.  I suppose his elbows could also offer some more range, but I more fault the design of the character for that one.  The actual sculpt is definitely a solid recreation of the in-game model for Jack.  The clothing is all properly dynamic in how it lays on him, and his proportions match well with the character’s scrawny physique.  Jack includes two different head sculpts.  He’s packed wearing the better of the two sculpts, though curiously, it’s the non-standard one.  It gives us a glimpse at Jack’s unmasked face, seen by the player only after defeating Jack in the final battle.  There’s just a ton of character to it, with all of the scarring and the slight sneer to his expression.  His standard head isn’t bad, but something feels ever so slightly off about his face.  It doesn’t seem quite as sharp and angular as it should be, and his expression doesn’t look quite as intense as it should be.  He looks more bemused than maniacally evil.  On the plus side, both heads sport a perfect recreation of Jack’s wacky hair, which really sells who he’s supposed to be.  The paint work on Jack is pretty strong all around.  The base colors are nice and bright, as they should be, and they’ve done quite a nice job of capturing the signature comic-book-y-styled outlining of the series.  There’s a little bit of slop, especially on the forearms as they change from sleeve to skin, but the general appearance is very strong.  In addition to including an extra head, Jack is also packed with a Hyperion Inspiring Transmurdera SMG, the Vault Key, a display stand, and a code for 5 golden keys in-game.  The SMG seems ever so slightly on the large side, but is otherwise pretty cool, as are the other two physical extras.  The code is really only useful if you’re an active Borderlands 2 player, but fortunately I am.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Super Awesome Girlfriend’s the whole reason I even know what Borderlands is.  Without her, I don’t believe I would have ever played the game myself (I’m at best a moderate gamer).  When these figures were first announced, I knew Super Awesome Girlfriend was getting a Tiny Tina, since Tina’s one of her favorites.  I wasn’t certain about Jack, but I thought I might pick him up, if nothing more than to support the line until they got to the characters I really wanted.  In the mean time, I’ve done a play through of the Pre-Sequel, where I ended up playing Jack’s Doppleganger, and grew pretty attached to that character.  Given the closeness of design, it’s certainly easier for me to appreciate this guy, especially since I tended to play my Doppleganger with the scarred head like the one included here.  Jack’s a pretty great figure in his own right, and he gives me hope for the line as a whole.  I’m definitely down for the figures they’ve announced so far, and holding out hope that we’ll see all of the main Vault Hunters.  Honestly, I’d just settle for an Axton.  That’s not too much to ask, right? 

Guest Review #0050: Tiny Tina

TINY TINA

BORDERLANDS 2 (MCFARLANE TOYS)

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

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

THE FIGURE ITSELF

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

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

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

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

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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

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

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

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

#1457: Mercury

MERCURY

TRON 2.0 (NECA)

“Jet Bradley, a young computer engineer working for ENCOM, must step into the digital world in search of answers.  He uncovers a sinister plot spinning out of control that threatens to corrupt one reality and forever transform another.”

Tron Legacy is perhaps one of my favorite movies ever.  In terms of toys, though, it’s also one of the biggest disappointments ever, with some of the most lackluster offerings imaginable under its belt.  The Tron franchise in general hasn’t really tended to have much luck with toys.  The only entry to really escape this curse is Tron 2.0, 2003’s video game sequel to the original film.  In it, the son of one of the original film’s heroes goes into the digital world looking for his missing father, and he’s aided by a kick-butt female program sent by his father to help…wait, this sounds familiar.  Yeah, there are a few similarities between 2.0 and Legacy, but they’re actually pretty superficial.  Anyway, when 2.0 hit, they went all-out and had some figures made, which were produced by the fine folks at NECA.  Today, I’ll be looking at the previously mentioned kick-butt female program, Mercury.  No, she’s not Quorra, but I’ll try not to hold that against her.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Mercury is one of the four Tron 2.0 figures NECA released in preparation for the game’s release.  She hit in early 2003, about 5 months before the release of the game.  The figure stands about 7 inches tall and she has 11 points of articulation.  She’s not the most mobile figure ever, but given that NECA was still moving past their usual McFarlane-style plastic statues at this point, she was actually pretty decent.  Honestly, my only real issue is with the v-hips; that’s a style of joint I’ve just never really lived.  Obviously, she’s based on her in-game design, though it’s a slightly idealized version.  Since the graphics of a 2003 video game were still a little bit compromised, this figure sort of smooths some things out and presents a slightly more realistic composition.  She’s still a bit6 stylized, of course, since she’d look a bit weird if she wasn’t.  They kept the essence of the character without the flaws, I suppose.  The sculpt does a nice job fitting in all of the details from the game, and I particularly dig the big bulky gloves.  Those are pretty awesome looking!  The paint on Mercury is a bit monochromatic by design, but NECA didn’t just phone it in; they actually put a lot of effort into getting all of those distinct shades of blue on the figure, and she’s better for it.  Even without translucent plastic or light-up features, this figure conveys the whole Tron aesthetic very well.  Kudos to NECA for that.  Rather than the usual disc, Mercury is armed with a cool fighting staff.  It’s translucent with dark blue piping, which has this nice holographic look about it, and it can be fairly easily held in either hand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This figure’s a recent acquisition for me, but it’s been housed in the same place as the rest of my collection for several years now.  It used to be owned by my brother, who decided over this past summer to part with a lot of his action figure collection.  I’ve taken most of the strays in, of course, because, as I’ve noted before, I’m the personification of the Island of Misfit Toys.  In the case of Mercury, it’s actually a figure that I might have tracked down on my own eventually.  I’ve never played Tron 2.0, but this is still a pretty fun figure, and an early sign of how good NECA would eventually get at making consistently awesome stuff.  One of these days, I’ll need to track down the rest of this particular line.

#1349: Kat & Carter

KAT & CARTER

HALO MINIMATES

I own an amusingly small quantity of Halo Minimates.  How amusingly small?  Well, this will be my third and final Halo Minimates review.  More amusing?  I don’t actually like either of the characters in this set.  Why do I have them?  Read on to find out.  Onto the review!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

This pair was released in the second Toys R Us exclusive series of Halo Minimates, as the resident Halo: Reach pairing in the assortment.

KAT

“As second in command of Noble Team, Lieutenant Commander Kat was considered an exemplary soldier and brilliant cryptanalyst. Even during times of limited intel, her ability to read a situation and react accordingly was considered supernatural, making her invaluable to the team.”

Of the two figures in this set, Kat’s the one I loathe the most.  God does Kat suck.  Especially when she’s driving. She’s like the worst driving AI ever implemented in a video game.  But none of that has anything to do with the figure, I guess.  The figure stands about 2 1/4 inches tall and has 11 points of articulation (she loses one wrist joint and both ankle joints).  She uses the standard ‘mate body, with add-ons for her helmet, chest plate, left shoulder armor and glove, belt, and boots, as well as a unique right arm, which replicates her robotic replacement from the game.  The pieces are on par with the other Halo ‘mates I’ve looked at; not bad overall, but slightly soft around the edges, when it comes to the finer details.  Still, it’s pretty solid.  In terms of paint, Kat’s okay.  The colors seem to match up pretty well with her in-game counterpart, albeit much cleaner than her armor in the game.  Under the armor, there’s a fully detailed face, with hair and everything detailed.  For some reason, the hair has no actual color, but other than that, the detail work is pretty solid.  Kat comes packed with a Magnum handgun.

CARTER

“During the Fall of Reach, Carter was the Commander of an elite team of Spartans referred to as the Noble Team. Charismatic, reassuring, and also known to be cool under pressure, Carter was considered a born leader. He inspired confidence in all of those under his command.”

Okay, so, admittedly, I don’t dislike Carter quite as much as Kat.  Mostly, I just find him sort of “meh,” which isn’t so great when you’re leading a team of fun, colorful characters. I guess not everyone can be Jorge and Emile.  Like Kat, he’s built on the standard body, though he’s got movement on both wrists.  He has add-ons for his helmet, chest armor, gloves, and boots, as well as unique pieces for his upper arms and legs.  He’s a little on the chunky side, but the pieces are generally pretty  nicely sculpted. The paint on Carter is okay; a little on the drab side, and the blue and grey run together, but it’s decent enough.  As with Kat, there’s a fully detailed head under the helmet.  He actually gets hair color, so that’s a nice step up.  Carter includes a DRM battle rifle, which he can only hold with one hand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Okay, Ethan, you don’t like these two, so why do you own them?  Two reasons: 1) I hadn’t yet played the game when I got them, so I didn’t really know the characters, and 2) my local Toys R Us was closing down, and everything was 75% off.  I’m not crazy about the characters, but the figures are actually pretty cool.