#2767: Mandalorian Loyalist

MANDALORIAN LOYALIST

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“When Darth Maul betrayed and defeated Pre Vizsla, Death Watch splintered into two groups. Those who wanted to embrace Mandalore’s warrior heritage remained loyal to Maul.”

Okay, so, I can’t help but feel that the bio above would actually be more appropriate for the *other* Mandalorian trooper from this particular set.  You know, the one that was a figure of one of the Mandos that actually was loyal to Maul?  Rather than this guy, who is clearly meant to be one of the Mandalorians who sticks with Bo-Katan and is on the “heroic” side of the Siege of Mandalore?  Oh, god, I’m critiquing bios again.  I gotta stop letting myself do that!  I’m probably really messing hardcore with some poor copy writer at Hasbro who’s just trying to do their best.  Why can’t I just leave them alone?  It’s just toys!  And it’s not even the part of toys that anyone really cares about, either!  …I mean, not that it’s not a very important part of the job.  You go, copy writer!  …Where was I?  Ah, yes, action figure review.  Yes.  Let’s do that.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Mandalorian Loyalist is figure #04 in the Clone Wars sub-set of Star Wars: The Black Series Phase IV.  He’s part of the Walmart-exclusive four figure assortment based on the final arc of The Clone Wars.  The set hit shelves last fall, in theory at least, though in practice most people are still waiting.  As touched on above, this figure is based on the armor worn by the Mandos that remained loyal to Bo-Katan, and kept their slightly more heroic looking blues and greys.  It’s not as ornate as the Super Commando, but it’s about function over form, I’d imagine.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  Structurally, this figure is virtually identical to his Maul-supporting equivalent.  That means he too is built from a lot of Jango’s parts.  It’s still a clunkier body than what we’re used to these days, but after now having two Mandos built on it, I’m warming a bit more to its overall look.  Perhaps it just works a little better for this particular design.  He doesn’t get the updated shoulders from the last one, instead keeping Jango’s less pointy ones.  He keeps the modified belt and upper legs of the Super Commando, which brings him more in line with the animation designs.  His only truly unique piece is his helmet, which is similar to the Super Commando one, but without all the horns.  Like I noted above, this new helmet’s not super showy or anything, but it gets the job done, and it does look nice.  The paint work on the Loyalist is what really separates him from the Super Commando.  He’s a lot bluer, and a lot more subdued, but it’s a good look.  There’s some solid work on the weathering for his armor, as well as the markings on each of his shoulders.  There are a lot of details on this one that are easy to miss.  The Loyalist is packed with the same accessories as the Super Commando: a jetpack borrowed from Jango and a pair of pistols borrowed from Sabine.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t really have a ton of luck with this assortment at retail.  Max was able to set me up with the Super Commando, but I saw none of the others.  That certainly bummed me out, because, ideally, I kind of wanted the whole set.  This guy was probably my second most wanted figure of the bunch, so I was hoping for another shot.  Fortunately, he came in with the same trade that netted me the Clone Lieutenant I reviewed yesterday, making the whole “getting him” part that much easier!  This figure surprised me a little bit.  I wasn’t let down by the Super Commando or anything, but after getting him, I expected very little from this one.  I was pleasantly surprised by how nicely he turned out, and by how much work Hasbro put into this seemingly more basic design.

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

#2761: Casey Jones & Raphael in Disguise

CASEY JONES & RAPHAEL in DISGUISE

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: THE MOVIE (NECA)

“Now you can catch America’s favorite green teens in their first live-action blockbuster film!  After wading in a puddle of radioactive waste, these radical reptiles are transformed into New York City’s greatest crime-fighting quartet.  Raphael’s a skilled sai-wielding ninja.  Beware: when he gets angry, you don’t want to be around.  Casey Jones, the masked vigilante, carries a golf bag on his back filled with clubs, bats, and sticks…makeshift weapons in his war against crime.”

Hey, how about that totally not at all troublesome or even slightly infuriating topic that is NECA’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?  Which one in particular?  It doesn’t matter!  They’re all equally infuriating!  Yay!  Equal opportunity awfulness!  ….Okay, I’m gonna try not to let this be a review of me just complaining about distribution issues.  Those are no fun to experience, and even less fun to read about.  Let’s just skip past, shall we?  Remember back in early 2019, when I had a man on the inside a fiancee working at GameStop, which was pretty much the sole reason I was able to get a set of the GameStop-exclusive movie Turtles?  Well, NECA decided to do more of those.  And they were even harder to get than the first round, so they stopped giving them to GameStop entirely (not a bad decision, to be fair), and moved the movie-related stuff over to Walmart (a horrible decision, really).  Now, instead of single releases, they were doing two-packs, which they kicked off roughly around the middle of last year, starting with the pairing I’m looking at today, Casey Jones and Raphael in Disguise!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Casey and Raph were, as discussed above, a Walmart-exclusive two-pack, released as part of NECA’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie line last summer….or they were in theory, at least.  It’s not like anyone really saw them–right, trying not to dwell.

CASEY JONES

Casey here is really the main appeal of this set, since he was previously unreleased by NECA, in any scale, or any style.  We got two of them last year, and neither one was particularly easy to–right, I’m dwelling again.  Don’t do that.  This one is movie-based, as you may have guessed from him being in a line that has “Movie” in the title.  This is a kind of big deal, since we’ve not gotten any form of movie Casey from any manufacturer prior to this one.  The figure stands 7 1/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  He’s a little bit better in the articulation department than the Turtles were, showcasing some of NECA’s steps forward in that area since doing those guys’ sculpts back when they were still 1/4 scale.  In particular, he’s got much better range on his elbows, which have the same sort of structure as Brett did earlier last year.  Casey’s sculpt is all-new, and certainly on par with NECA’s usual work.  Since they didn’t get Elias Koteas’s likeness rights, the figure is without his face, instead keeping him permanently masked.  While it’s somewhat limiting, it’s also not that weird for a Casey Jones figure, since the vintage figure’s mask was sculpted in place too.  This one does at least look as if it *could* be removed, since it is actually a separate piece.  It’s a sharply defined and very clean piece, and definitely the best part of this figure.  The body sculpt does a respectable job as well.  The level of detail is definitely up to the standards of the other figures in the set; there are some spots where the articulation could be a little better worked in, especially on the knees, but for the most part, he’s pretty strong.  Casey’s paint work honestly isn’t all that involved for the most part, largely being just large open areas of solid color.  The shirt and vest do get some impressive accenting, however, and, apart from one spot on the side of his hair, the application is pretty clean.  Casey’s accessory selection is certainly one of NECA’s most impressive.  He gets four pairs of different hands (fists, loose grip, tight grip, and open gesture/flat grip combo), as well as his golf bag mentioned in the bio, which can be filled with his included hockey stick, goalie stick, golf club, two baseball bats, and cricket bat.  It certainly gives him a lot of options in how to bring the pain.

RAPHAEL in DISGUISE

Raphael largely exists as an excuse to make a two-pack out of this whole set-up, but I guess also as a way to get Raphael out another time, after the less than stellar distribution of the first two movie releases.  This one operates on the general thematic of Raph and Casey’s first interactions with each other in the first film, which has Raph in the aforementioned disguise, which amounts to a trench coat and hat.  How does this figure manage that?  By taking the previous Raphael (which I reviewed here) and putting him in a trench coat and hat.  The coat is a cloth piece, and is decent enough for the scale.  Some of the tailoring is a little oversized, but it’s not a terrible look, and it’s a pretty close match to the one he had in the movie.  It can be removed, if you so choose, but it’s not really optimized for it.  It’ll definitely take some doing (hence why I didn’t, what with already having one sans coat and all), but it’s possible.  The coat is held in place a little more so by a sculpted back pack, which is a reasonable enough piece.  The whole disguise is topped off by the hat, another sculpted plastic piece.  It’s designed with a hole at the back, so that it can sit more properly on the head, while still allowing for the knot on the back of his mask to be left undeterred.  It’s a little janky to look at from behind, but it does stay in place pretty nicely.  In terms of accessories, Raph has the same alternate hands, alternate ties to the mask, slice of pizza, and sais as the single release, but also adds an extra set of hands which are pointing, you know, for pointing purposes.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve always been a Casey Jones fan, and I’d go so far as to say he’s my favorite part of the TMNT mythos.  Despite all this, I owned no Casey Jones figures beyond the Minimate, which seemed wrong.  I’d been hoping for NECA to do some version of Casey, so I was interested in this one, but then there was the whole distribution thing.  That was a mess, wasn’t it?  Fortunately, I’m a patient man, so I just kind of avoided the whole issue for the entirety of the last year.  As luck would have it, my patience paid off, and someone happened to trade this set into All Time last month, at last giving me the opportunity to get one without having to deal with Walmart.  Yay for me!  Casey’s definitely a nice figure, worth the wait, but also not really worth the mark-up, so I’m glad I didn’t pay it.  Raph is kind of redundant for me, and I ultimately decided not to hang onto him, but he’s still as good a figure as the first release.  If someone didn’t get that one, I imagine this one would be a great alternative.  Perhaps even a better one, really.  Whatever the case, I’m just happy to have a Casey to go with my Turtles.  Now, here’s to hoping that April’s not quite as much of a nightmarish ordeal to acquire.  Man, even *I* don’t believe myself when I say that…

#2719: Autobot Elita-1

AUTOBOT ELITA-1

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON TRILOGY (HASBRO)

“Search for Alpha Trion” introduced a radical new concept to Transformers: women!  Okay, actually, it introduced gender in general, since previously they were just robots, and technically genderless.  Then these supposed “fem-bots” came along, and everything got kinda gendered…I guess.  The episode reveals that not only are there a force of female Autobots running around on Cybertron, but also that they had their own equivalent to Optimus Prime in his female counterpart, Elita-1 (whose name even has a similar root translation of “Best First”.  Pretty clever, right?).  Though central to “Search” and a fixture throughout the franchise’s various incarnations, Elita has remained a slightly less frequent choice for toys, which is really a shame.  Like Bumblebee, she was a character given a rather sizable role in Netflix’s War For Cybertron adaptation even before getting a toy in the accompanying toyline, and also like Bumblebee, she got her first War figure courtesy of the Walmart-exclusive tie-in to the show.  I’m taking a look at that particular figure today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Elita-1 was released as part of the second Deluxe Class assortment of Walmart’s exclusive War For Cybertron tie-in line, alongside Bumblebee and re-decos of Wheeljack, Red Alert, and Impactor.  In her robot mode, Elita stands roughly 5 1/2 inches tall and she has 24 workable points of articulation.  While these figures are theoretically meant to be more show accurate, Elita joins Bumblebee in being, well, not.  I mean, she’s not *incredibly* far off, I suppose.  The basics are there, but as I touched on in Bumblebee’s review, it’s a case of Elita’s show model being one of the few that didn’t have a pre-existing toy CAD file to work from, meaning it’s not quite as play-tested and ready to go as some of the others.  So, she is instead built on the underlying structure of the Earthrise Arcee mold.  It’s not an awful choice, since they’re supposed to be rather similar in design, and they did just tool up the Arcee mold and everything.  She does get a fair portion of new parts to differentiate, with a new head, torso, pelvis, and shoulders.  They do quite a respectable job of changing up the look, especially the silhouette.  I quite like the new head sculpt, and I do like how the new torso actually gives Elita a slightly different body shape than Arcee.  There was some confusion regarding the shoulders for this figure; initial renders showed unique shoulders, but early production samples had Arcee’s more simplified shoulders.  In hand, however, she’s back to the unique ones.  Also the subject of some changes was Elita’s paint scheme.  The exact placement of the darker red and tan sections changed around a bit between renders and then the final product, with the final settling on full red for the lower arms and tan for the lower legs, as opposed to the reverse.  It’s a pretty nice set-up, and what’s actually painted is nice and clean.  Elita is packed with the same weapon that was included with Arcee, molded in a darker transparent blue.

Elita-1’s alt-mode is exactly the same as Arcee’s.  Now, as you may recall, I was not much of a fan of Arcee’s alt-mode.  I didn’t actually refer to it as “garbage,” but I certainly thought it.  I thought it a lot.  With that in mind, prospects weren’t high for this figure. If I’m entirely honest, it didn’t bug me quite as much as I expected it to.  I don’t really think it’s because I like it any more, but more because I just knew what I was getting this time, and didn’t really get let-down by it this time around.  The transformation scheme’s still kind of involved and not super fun, and I’m still not really convinced by the final product or its playability.  But, I suppose it could be worse.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I’ve been watching the admittedly less than stellar Netflix show’s two seasons, one of the few things I didn’t hate was Elita and her Cybertronian crew.  So, I was definitely looking to get her for my collection.  With Max’s help, I was able to get both Soundwave and Bumblebee from this round back before the new year, but I wasn’t able to snag and Elita quite as quickly.  I happened to mention to Max just the other week that I was still looking so if he *happened* to see her, I’d still be interested, and as luck would have it, he found her about 10 minutes later.  I’m certainly not complaining.  Elita’s got a cool design, and she makes for a decent toy.  Yes, she inherits the same issues Arcee had, but she’s also got the same strengths.  That means she’s got a kick-ass robot mode, and I’m not gonna knock that.

#2657: Bumblebee

BUMBLEBEE

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON TRILOGY (HASBRO)

Despite his prominent placement in the franchise as a whole and in the tie-in media for the War For Cybertron Trilogy, mainstay Autobot Bumblebee has been completely absent from the main line for the first two parts of said trilogy.  It’s been a weird, almost gnawing omission, since we got Cliffjumper and a handful of other Bee-esque molds throughout the year, and he’s also had a fairly sizable role in Netflix’s tie-in animation.  Eventually, he surfaced, but rather than being a mainline release, he’s instead part of the previously repaints-only Walmart tie-in line for the animation.  Oh joy, another Walmart exclusive.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Bumblebee is part of the second round of Walmart’s War For Cybertron Trilogy line, and is part of the five piece deluxe-class assortment, alongside three repaints, and the similarly new offering of Elita-1.  In his robot mode, Bumblebee stands 4 inches tall and has 22 workable points of articulation.  In theory, he’s based on the cartoon, but…well, he’s not.  Bumblebee had no Siege figure, so while many of the characters featured in the cartoon used direct copies of the original CAD files, Bumblebee was an all new model created for the cartoon.  These two designs are certainly drawing from the same source (G1 Animation Bumblebee), but a spitting image of his cartoon counterpart, he is not.  Structurally, this figure is, as expected a re-tool of the Cliffjumper mold from early last year.  It was probably my favorite mold to come out of Earthrise, so it’s definitely a good starting point.  He gets a different head (shared with Bug Bite, but obviously designed for Bee), as well as new parts for his mid-section and feet.  Why the new parts for the mid-section and feet?  That’s because…

…he also gets a new alt-mode!  While Bug Bite and Hubcap both shared Cliffjumper’s generic sports car alt-mode, Bumblebee gets his exterior pieces replaced, allowing him to transform into an authentic, fully-licensed Volkswagon Beetle.  The general transformation sequence is the same as all prior uses of the CJ mold, so there’s still that little touch of parts-forming required with the back of the car, but I still really don’t mind.  It’s a decent transformation sequence, and ultimately it results in quite a nice alt-mode for the figure.  It’s clean, it holds together well, and it’s undeniably a Beetle.  It also means that Bee stands out a bit from the other uses of this mold, which feels appropriate for him.  Bumblebee gets the same accessory selection as all prior uses of the mold: the modular cannon thing.  It’s in the same colors as Cliffjumper’s.  It’s a fun piece, and adds a lot of variety to the figure, so I don’t mind getting it again.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Obviously, I, like a lot of people, have been waiting for a proper Bumblebee in this line since Siege launched.  Simply put, it’s stupid that they opted to make him a Walmart-exclusive, because it guarantees that he’s going the be hard to find and go for stupid amounts of money on the aftermarket.  They really need to stop making core looks exclusives, especially to Walmart.  Hopefully, the plethora of fiascos revolving around these exclusives in the last year will get Hasbro to ease up on them a bit moving forward.  As I’ve said on a lot of these exclusives, I hope that Hasbro finds a way to make these more readily available so that more people can get them, because Bumblebee is a very nice figure, and goes very well with the rest of the standard line.  Also, a shout out to Max for setting me up with this figure, so that I could, actually, you know, have him.  That was super dope.

#2656: Soundwave

SOUNDWAVE

TRANSFORMERS: R.E.D. (HASBRO)

Ah, yes, non-Transforming Transformers.  A wonderful little oxymoronic concept that’s been rattling around ever since the introduction of Action Masters in 1990.  Over the years, it’s been something that Hasbro (and some of their licensees) have gravitated back to every so often, as a way of offering figures that are more accurate to what you see on the screen, thanks to not needing to have any sort of compromise for the sake of an alt-mode.  They’re newest stab at this venture is Transformers: R.E.D., short for “Robot Enhanced Design.”  It’s designed to pair off with the likes of The Black Series, being a highly-articulated line of collector-aimed Transformers figures…that don’t transform.  I’m giving the line a try with who else but Soundwave?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Soundwave is one of the three figures in the debut assortment of R.E.D., which was exclusive to Walmart.  I know, everyone’s super-thrilled, right?  This version of Soundwave is heavily inspired by his original G1 cartoon design, taking into account all of the impossibilities of that design in regards to an actual transformation sequence.   The figure stands about 6 inches tall and he has 33 points of articulation.  In terms of sizing, he falls somewhere between and deluxe and a voyager class from the main line, meaning he fits in alright with the standard, actually transforming Transformers, if that’s something you’re interested in.  Despite being designed as a companion line to their other 6-inch stuff, he’s, of course, not even remotely in scale with Black Series or Legends.  Honestly, actual scaling aside, even just as a “hey wouldn’t he be cool robot figure to put with them” sort of thing, he seems a bit on the small side.  The articulation is overall pretty good on this guy.  It’s a slight step up from the Siege mold in its robot form, with more range in areas such as the shoulders and wrists in particular, but just a greater range of motion across the board, really.  The only area where I had any trouble was the ankles, which are just hard to get to move, I think in part due to the size of the joints.  They’re rather large joints, and prone to getting stuck.  In terms of sculpt, Soundwave is admittedly a pretty spot-on recreation of the G1 animation model.  They really got the proportions down pretty well, and the head and torso in particular really nail this particular look.  The torso even features the eject feature for the tape deck in his chest, although in the case of my figure, it does have a tendency to get stuck.  The articulation is pretty well worked in, and it all looks pretty clean.  For the most part, anyway. I do have one notable issue with the sculpt, and it circles back around the issue I had with the articulation: the ankles and feet.  They’ve given him these rather large ball-shaped universal joints, and they’re just kind of obtrusive and not very well worked into the sculpt.  They don’t follow the model, and they don’t look great.  But, from the ankles up, everything’s great.  The paint work on this figure goes for a flat color scheme to match the cel animation.  It’s a more muted appearance than other figures as of late, but it works out alright.  And hey, it’s a Soundwave with a red visor.  That’s cool!  Two of those from Hasbro in a year.  Not bad.  Soundwave is packed with a small version of Laserbeak in tape form, two sets of hands (gripping and fist/button pressing), his shoulder cannon, and his gun.  It hits all the basics, but it feels a bit light.  Couldn’t we at least get Ravage or Laserbeak in their robot modes?  Or perhaps the perpetual red-headed stepchild of the cassettes, Buzzsaw?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

My interactions with Transformers in the last two years have sort of shifted my opinions on things, because in 2018, this is the kind of line that I probably would have been a bit more excited by, being a fan of the Transformers as cool robots, but not much else.  But, Siege and Earthrise have showcased to me that Hasbro can make some really good robot action figures that still have transformations, making the prospect of this line a harder sell.  When Prime and Megatron were the only two we knew about, it was an easy pass, especially with that bit about the Walmart exclusivity.  Then they had to go and show this guy, and my stupid love of stupid Soundwave dragged stupid old me back in.  The Soundwave that eventually became mine wasn’t originally meant for me at all, however.  Max found two of them at retail, but was unable to get a response from me, so only bought this one for himself.  After opening and messing with the figure, however, he ended up just asking if I wanted this one, because he wasn’t really feeling it.  I certainly wasn’t going to pass on a G1 Soundwave I didn’t have, so I was more than happy to take it off his hands.  Ultimately, getting him within a week or so of the Earthrise Soundwave, he feels a little redundant and out of place, but I can appreciate him for what he is, even if what he is winds up being a bit…counterintuitive?

#2556: Cable

CABLE

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“A powerful mercenary, Cable uses telekinetic abilities and combat expertise to get the job done.”

The X-Men movies and Marvel Legends have never had the best relationship.  The first film predated Legends, and the second was its own removed thing.  The production schedule of the third film was fast tracked, so Toy Biz had to produce a vaguely film-inspired side line at the time.  When Hasbro took over the license, they included X3 figures in a few of their early assortments…and the less said about those, the better.  X-Men Origins: Wolverine hit right as Hasbro was taking a break from Legends for a bit, so it got a Universe-compatible line instead.  Then the relationship between Fox and Marvel really blew up, and we got absolutely nothing for the next several years.  Now, with Fox under Disney, things are starting to smooth out, and we’re actually getting a whole little sub-line of Legends figures just for the X-Men movies.  Among the earliest offerings are some figures based on the most successful branch of the X-Men films in recent years, Deadpool and Deadpool 2, including today’s focus, Cable!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Cable is a Walmart-exclusive Marvel Legends offering, released to coincide with the main line releases of Domino and the Deadpool/Negasonic two-pack.  Another Walmart-exclusive wasn’t something that got anyone excited, but so far this particular release doesn’t seem like it’s been quite as hard to acquire.  Your mileage may vary, of course.  The figure stands 6 3/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  He’s sporting an all-new sculpt based on Josh Brolin’s appearance as the character in the second film.  If you’ve messed with any of the post-movie MCU figures, then he’s pretty much the same story.  The articulation’s pretty solid for the design, and he’s more or less built like a real person.  The likeness on the head is a really good match for Brolin, and the detail work on his body is all quite sharp.  They even included his daughter’s bear on his belt, which is a cool touch.  The only thing I’m not super crazy about is how long the neck ends up looking when the cloak piece is removed, but getting the right pose helps with this.  Cable’s paint work is largely monochromatic, as it was in the film.  The face is suitably lifelike, thanks to the face printing technique, and they manage to get the hairline down okay.  The cybernetics on the neck are a bit sloppy, and almost seem to be just slightly misaligned to the sculpt.  The cybernetic arm showcases some decent accent work, but that more or less marks the end of any accenting.  The rest of the figure is just really basic work.  It’s not bad, but it kind of lacks that gritty feel that Cable has in the movie, and it means that some of the sharpness of the sculpt ends up getting lost.  A solid repaint could definitely really help the sculpt.  Cable’s accessory selection is rather decent.  He gets his larger rifle (which is a hodgepodge of a Kriss Vector with a Thompson stock and two barrels on the fore end), with two separate under barrel grenade launcher attachments, plus a pistol, and two sets of hands (one gripping, one in fists).

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I went against the grain a bit and was not really as big on the first Deadpool movie as a lot of people were, so I wasn’t exactly lining up for its sequel.  That said, my brother Christian wanted to see it opening weekend, and didn’t want to see it alone, so I went along, and I was honestly pleasantly surprised.  Brolin’s Cable was definitely a solid addition, and I was a little bummed when he was announced as a Walmart-exclusive.  Fortunately, Max was able to score me one on one of his Walmart runs, so I was good to go.  Cable’s a decent figure overall.  The likeness is strong, and the accessories are fun.  If they could slightly up the paint quality, he’d be top notch.

#2432: Ultra Magnus Spoiler Pack

ULTRA MAGNUS SPOILER PACK

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON TRILOGY (HASBRO)

Okay, so, uhh, here’s something a little different, I guess.  At the beginning of the year, back when the world was still relatively normal, Hasbro debuted the trailer and accompanying toy line for their Netflix-based Transformers War For Cybertron: Siege cartoon, which is, of course, based on the toy line of the same name.  Despite the toys being pretty directly recreated for the animation (down to using the same CAD files), there’s still an even more-show-specific set of figures, which are a Walmart-exclusive here in the US.  At the center of this line is a rather gimmicky concept: a spoiler pack.  And before we get into any sort of confusion about this being a box of car parts, since that wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for a Transformers line, it specifically references spoilers for the show’s plot, although technically the contents of the box as well.  We found out fairly early on that the box contained an Ultra Magnus, but further details weren’t initially revealed…or at least they weren’t supposed to be.  I’m going to play nice to that small handful of people who might actually like to still be surprised when they open this thing.  If that’s you, the following review is technically a SPOILER, so you’ve been warned.

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#2313: Xenomorph vs Super Power Loader

XENOMORPH VS SUPER POWER LOADER

ALIEN COLLECTION (LANARD TOYS)

I had my first look at Lanard’s new Aliens line yesterday with the line’s star piece, the Alien Queen.  But, what good is an Alien Queen without a Power Loader to do battle with, and at least one minion to be all Queen-ly with?  Practically no good at all!  Fortunately, the line offers up both of those things in one convenient package!  That’s some fairly smart planning right there.  It got me to buy them, anyway.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The Xenomorph Vs Super Power Loader set is part of the next step down from the Alien Queen on the price scale for the Alien Collection line, the “Xenomorph Attacks” sets.  There’s this set, and an APC (which, somewhat amusingly, is the only set at launch to not have a Xeno packed in, despite being in the “Xenomorph Attacks” sub-set).

XENOMORPH

There’s one of these in just about every set Lanard’s put out so far.  Currently, we’ve got two styles of Xeno drone: one based on the Aliens Warrior, and one based on the Alien 3 Runner.  This one is the Warrior.  The figure stands about 4 1/2 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  Stylistically, much of this sculpt matches up with the Alien Queen, which is no surprise.  It’s fairly faithful to the film design, while still dialing things back a bit to make it a little more kid-friendly.  The various Xeno elements are all present, and things are pretty sharply defined.  The articulation is pretty well implemented, though the lack of elbow joints is a little bit restricting.  Additionally, the joints on mine are already starting to get rather loose from regular usage, so I’m not sure how well they’ll hold up to long-term play.  That said, it’s a fairly impressive sculpt, with some cool little touches.  Though he lacks the inner-mouth action feature of the queen (forgivable, given the size), he’s still got the details of the inner mouth sculpted on the interior of his jaw, which is a nice touch.  Like the Queen’s vibrant purple, the smaller Xenos are all privy to some Technicolorization, with this one being a rather eye-catching metallic green.  It looks pretty nice, and it’s something different, so I really don’t mind the change-up.

SUPER POWER LOADER

Though the most unique piece of this set within the context of this line, the Super Power Loader is the most clear-cut re-use (similar to what we’re used to seeing from Lanard), and does feel like more of an after thought to make sure there’s a Power Loader to face off against the Queen.  This release takes a pre-existing mech-suit from Lanard’s Corps! inventory and re-purposes it for something more familiar.  It’s not terribly far removed from the Power Loader of the movies, but it’s not terribly similar either.  It’s big and yellow and one of the hands is a claw.  That’s about where the similarities end.  That doesn’t stop it from being a respectably cool piece, although one that feels more designed for conventional weaponry than the glorified forklift from the film, which I suppose is really just an extension of the slightly more weaponized Loader from Kenner’s line.  It does make the name of the machine feel increasingly like an artifact, though.  The construction is fairly hollow, since it’s really just a shell for a figure, but it doesn’t feel too light weigh or like it’s going to break or anything.  I do like the color scheme a lot, and the caution stripes and bright yellow do a lot to sell this as the genuine article.  Power Loaders don’t always include a pilot, but this one does.  He’s not much to right home about, being one of Lanard’s cheapest figures.  He’s got the basic 5 points of articulation, and is very hollow.  Not particularly impressive, but okay for being essentially a glorified cardboard cut-out that’s only there to fill out the Loader in the box.  He’s armed with a pickaxe of some sort, which doesn’t feel like the best choice of weapon when your opponents bleed acid.  Whatever the case, I fairly quickly replaced him.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ll admit, I kind of got swept up in the awesomeness of the Alien Queen, and found myself buying this in the same purchase.  I like having Loaders to face off against my Queens and this one was sitting right there, and was admittedly quite affordable.  The Alien’s the better of the two items here, definitely.  Clearly Lanard’s put their resources into making the Aliens cool, and is filling in everything else as cheaply as possible.  Given that the Loader was not part of the first batch of items we saw, it wouldn’t surprise me that this was a somewhat later addition, which would explain the more blatant re-use for the Loader.  It’s not a piece, mind you, but it’s not nearly as impressive as the Queen.  That said, they still look pretty impressive sparring off against each other.

 

#2312: Alien Queen

ALIEN QUEEN

ALIEN COLLECTION (LANARD TOYS)

An Alien Queen review?  Is it the post-Christmas reviews again already?  No, I’m throwing you for a loop dear readers, and doing something that’s not totally predictable.  Okay, that’s probably not true, because I’m reviewing an Aliens action figure, and that’s pretty darn on-brand for me.  Alas, there goes my plans for spontaneity.  So, in Aliens news, the license got picked up by a new and kind of surprising company: Lanard Toys.  Lanard previously made their name with their G.I. Joe knock-off The Corps!, but first got into the licensing game with Kong: Skull Island, and then followed up with Rampage and Jumanji.  So, while licensing isn’t a *new* thing for them, an R-rated movie from the ’80s does seem a little off for a company that sells exclusively in the toy aisle of Walmarts.  Whatever the case, I’m not going to complain if it means more toys from my favorite movie.  Plus, it’s been forever since I’ve reviewed an Alien Queen.  My skills are getting rusty.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Alien Queen is the central piece of Lanard’s new Alien Collection, which started hitting shelves right at the beginning of the year.  While much of the line is made up of Lanard re-purposing old tooling under a new branding (much like they’ve done with prior licensed lines), the Queen is a brand-new offering, designed solely for this line, and she doesn’t exactly have a lot of re-use potential after the Alien line is done.  The figure is roughly 12 inches tall (with her slight hunch) and has 20 points of articulation.  The articulation and its implementation is all fairly basic, but what’s there works and it works well.  In particular, the ball-joints on the ankles work surprisingly well to help keep the figure balanced in a variety of poses.  At first glance, I didn’t think much of them, but while taking the photos, they really stood out to me, especially in contrast to figures like the NECA Queen, who requires a stand to stay balanced (in their defense, so did the real thing; it’s one of the impossibilities of the design).  Some effort has been made by the figure’s sculpt to cartoonize or kidify the Queen’s design a little bit in order to make a slightly sturdier toy.  Most of this is in the legs, which now are more beefed up to support the rest of the figure.  By and large, though, the figure remains surprising faithful to the source material.  While it’s not got the screen accuracy of the NECA figure, it certainly lands closer than the Funko ReAction, or even the vintage Kenner attempts.  They’ve boiled down all of the important elements and crafted something that immediately captures that spirit of the original design, while not being too horribly terrifying for kids par-oozing the toy aisle.  In a lot of ways, I feel she would pair well with the Kenner Scorpion Alien in this respect.  Another change to the design in the effort of keeping things a little more kid-oriented: the colors.  While classically black with some blue highlights, the queen is now a rather vibrant purple…with some blue highlights.  There’s not actually much paint, just the whites of the teeth and the few traces of blue, but it looks pretty striking, and the purple honestly shows off the sculpt a little better than a straight black might have.  Though the Queen includes no accessories, she does get an action feature.  Pulling her head back will shoot her inner mouth outwards, a surprisingly effective feature.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When I found out that Lanard picked up the Aliens license, I’ll admit I was somewhat perplexed.  However, the Queen was one of the first items to be shown, and I rather liked what I saw.  Thanks to Max, I got a heads up that this figure had hit, and was able to find one just after the new year.  I gotta say, I really love this figure, more than I’d anticipated, especially given the very low price tag.  For the same price as a Marvel Legend, you get a figure more than twice the size, and very, very playable.  I love my NECA Queen as much as the next Aliens fan, but if there’s one thing it was not, that’s playable.  Having a Queen I can feel free to pick up and mess with is really solid, and a great alternative for those not looking to drop over $100 on a Queen.  This is an absolutely fantastic piece for kids and collectors alike, and I hope Lanard can continue with such pieces.

#2265: Luke Skywalker – Jabba’s Palace

LUKE SKYWALKER — JABBA’S PALACE

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Luke Skywalker was a Tatooine farmboy who rose from humble beginnings to become one of the greatest Jedi the galaxy has ever known.”

And lo, the Post-Christmas reviews begin!

There were a few years running where my first post-Christmas review was invariably an Alien Queen, but after my friends and family ran out of Alien Queens to buy me, I’ve moved onto another theme, it would seem: Star Wars.  Honestly, it’s not all that new a concept, me getting Star Wars figures over the holidays, going all the way back to the Millenium Falcon I received for Christmas of ’96.  So, I guess I can dig it being the new trend.  So, let’s kick things off with a Luke Skywalker figure, shall we?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Jabba’s Palace Luke Skywalker is a Walmart-exclusive Black Series offering.  Much like the two Captain Americas that they got last year, they also got two versions of Jedi Luke back to back.  Sometimes, I think Walmart’s toy buyer might be a little limited in their sights.  Whatever the case, this figure theoretically started showing up alongside the Triple Force Friday stuff back in October, though realistically, he started showing up shortly before the holidays.  This Luke is the second Return of the Jedi Luke we’ve gotten in the Black Series line-up, following the more end of the movie inspired version released back in 2014.  This one, as the name denotes, is based on Luke as he first appears in Jabba’s Palace, prior to ditching his vest and getting his robotic hand damaged. The figure stands just shy of 6 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  For the most part, he’s fairly reliant on parts from the previous Jedi Luke figure.  He uses the body of that figure, along with a new head, the right hand from Bespin Luke, and an all-new vest overlay piece. The new head is the real star attraction.  While I always felt that sculpt on the original Jedi Luke head was far better than the sub-par paint job allowed to show through, it’s never the less a little bit of an artifact of an older way of doing things, since the separate face/hair pieces have become the new way of doing things, and allow for a more realistic recreation.  This new sculpt follows that new styling, and is honestly one of Hasbro best attempts at a young Hamill likeness, at least as far as the face is concerned.  The hair I’m still a little iffy about, but it’s certainly not terrible.  The new vest piece is a decent overlay; it’s not too bulky.  Of course, it’s also not designed to be removed, which I was a little let down by, but if you don’t want it on the figure, it’s easy enough to remove, keeping in mind it’s not really going back on.  And, on top of that, after removing it, you’ll also discover that he’s missing the previous figure’s belt (which would have no doubt affected the look of the vest at this scale, so I get why it’s gone).  The figure is also privy to the improvements in paint since the last Jedi Luke.  That previous figure was honestly one of my worst experiences with iffy paint in the line, but this guy gets the new face print tech, which works very well for him.  There’s a part of me that wouldn’t mind seeing this paint on the old sculpt, just to see how the two pair off, but as is, this one looks very good.  This Luke ends up being a little better accessorized than the last one.  While he no longer has the swapable flap for the front of his uniform, he still gets his lightsaber (with a more accurately painted hilt this time), a cloth-goods cloak, and the blaster he steals from one of Jabba’s guards (re-used from Kanan Jarrus).  Not a bad assortment of extras, and certainly enough to make him worthwhile even if you have the prior figure.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve been looking for this guy pretty much since Force Friday.  As a kid, I went as Jedi Luke for Halloween, so I’ve always had a soft spot for this costume design, and felt the old figure wasn’t doing it justice on the shelf.  I found this figure just before Christmas and actually bought him with some money I got from my Grandmother for the holiday.  He’s solid improvement without being a straight replacement.  I just kind of wish Hasbro would stop giving their best figures to Walmart as exclusives…