I had great luck with brand-new releases (though the luck is augmented by not having gone to stores last weekend). Tons of NECA stuff and finally buying into the newest iteration of the Hasbro Playskool variation, not to mention all the fun various things, like Thudercats and Clone Wars. I also scored a bunch of Playmobil and almost all of Lego Mini Figures Series 5 but you'll have to wait til next week for those (I know, contain your disappoint). Oh well - may you suffer my same lot - Sincere, Total Addiction Continuing Every Year!
Bandai - Thundercats Classic: Lion-O
Kicking it off with the big guns! Arguably the most anticipated action figure of the last decade, Thundercats finally makes it to retail! Despite all the contenders Bandai won the prize and, for better or worse, they're who we have. They're doing the classic figures in waves of two 8" figures and they are freshly out on pegs. Now, obviously there is some bad, but also some good, to these. On the down side - the sculpts are very simple and smooth and the plastic is quite shiny giving the whole thing a pretty "cheap" look. On the up swing, though, is a virtual ton of articulation and a fair share of accessories. We're looking at a balljointed head, back-and-forth neck, balljointed shoulders, swivel biceps, hinged elbows, swivel-and-balljointed wrists, hinge chest, balljointed waist, balljointed hips, swivel things, hinged knees, swivel calves, and hinged-with-rocker ankles. Damn. He also comes with interchangeable open and gripping right hands, and open and "power glove" left hands. The Glove also comes with a blue peg that can connect it to the waist, though it is too wide to lay properly against the leg. In addition, we get the full sized Sword of Omens as well as the smaller dagger version, and perhaps in the coolest feature of any toy I've got in a while, the dagger fits in the glove. There is just something so amazingly awesome about that to me. I really wish the plastic was far less shiny but the biggest issue is the scale - it just doesn't fit with any other line and will look odd on the shelf. Moreover, it carries a steep $20 pricetag. Still, despite the high price and "cheap" look, this is one hell of a toy is definitely worth your time and money.
Bandai - Thundercats Classic: Tygra
Every line these days features body reuse, and this one is no different. At this price point that's kind of aggravating, but them's the facts. In essence, unless it's something clearly unique to Tygra, Lion-O uses it too. Much like Lion-O, as well, this is a really fun figure. In place of the Sword of Omens, Tygra has his whip in both compressed and extended forms, the latter being extra long by utilizing two lengths of "rope." He also comes with both gripping and open hands. He also suffers in the same, hyper smooth sculpt and shiny plastic. For $20 I would expect much less reuse and more textured fur, as with the Mezco Lion-o. I'm very curious to see what the next releases will be as the ability to reuse tools is pretty limited after these too, but with such great posing options it'll be great to assemble the team, and hopefully most/all of Mumm-Ra's mutants as well!
DST - Halo Minimates: Carter & Kat
Now here we are with yet another Minimate set to make me cranky. I hate how over-detailed these sculpts are and while I can accept Kat's right arm being all new since it's robotic, why in heaven's name are Carter's upper arms fully sculpted new pieces instead of slip-on armor? It's really fun because we can barely move his arms with the bulky shoulders and torso armor - thanks guys. This is potentially the last Halo set I'll get because I'm really unhappy with the handling of these and each release is more uninspired than the last. Hey DST, look at how McFarlane has run the line to get an idea of an appealing line plan. An entire series of blue armor is boring! At least these two figures have fully painted heads under their helmets.
DST - Minimates Vehicles Series 2: Pirate Ship
Next up is the Minimate Pirate Ship. I hate heavily detailed Minimates and was pretty tough on the wholly underwhelming Calico Jack's Pirate Raiders first series of 'mates and was equally skeptical of this wildly out of scale Pirate Ship, but you know what? I was wrong! This thing is totally awesome! For some inexplicable reason I do like how detailed it is and more importantly is the great paint. After a decade of fancifully technicolor ships from Playmobil it is very refreshing to get a ship that is actual, real ship colors (read: wood)! On top of that is a ton of play features! In addition to the spinning steering wheel and the opening hatch to the hold, the top deck flips back for access to a chair in the cabin (complete with translucent windows) which can also be accessed by two hinged doors and moreover, the enter main deck is removable for full access to the hold! There are two rows of cannons on each of the ship, both of which can slide forward and backward (in and out of the cannon ports) about half to a full centimeter as well. The mast and the bow are both removable, mainly to fit in the packaging though it also allows for more customization by eventually offering alternate bows and constructing different heights of Mast, or even doubling them on the ship thanks to a second peg hole near the front of the deck. The Mast is really my only problem with the set. The sections of mast are different widths, and the clasps attached to the sail which clip to the mast are too wide to fit all sections snugly. More disappointingly the ribbing on the mast blocks one from hanging the sail as directed. I was still able to get it to work, but that system could/should well be revised. Also included is an all-new character, which is a pretty unexciting 'mate but more crew is always welcome!
Hasbro - Clone Wars: Chewbacca
Even though Clone Wars represents the worst of Star Wars I can't help but be a sucker for cool figures and SW Expanded Universe, so when I saw this figure at SDCC I knew immediately I was on board. This is basically the best Chewie figure to date, excepting the cartoon style. He is loaded with articulation, mostly balljoints, though ankle joints are definitely missed and is, more importantly, the first Chewie figure ever to have a removable purse! Here's sincere hoping that we'll see this carry over in to the movie line, and perhaps in reuse of this new bowcaster which is the best sculpt and execution yet. He also comes with a silly missile-launching bowcaster and a weird, cool shotgun.
Hasbro - Clone Wars: Droid Bomber
The first time I saw the Droid Bomber in Hasbro's diecast Titanium line I was hooked. It was the first of of the vehicles from that show to really grab my attention as just a cool vehicle (the Clone Wars Y-Wing is too similar to the original to really be a "new" vehicle). It basically takes what's good about the Droid Fighter and the TIE Bomber and successfully marries them into a a darn cool hybrid! One of the neat things with the Droid ships is that they are robots and thereby are characters too, so in essence this is like a giant figure. Articulation abounds with a spring-loaded neck with articulated head, pivot-able wings that break out into four legs. Plus a missile launcher, a bomb dropper and each "foot" holds excess missiles. While it can't hold a figure, there's so much to do with it in both ship and robot modes that it'll be a welcome addition to any collection. It's just a damn good toy, and honestly is worth the $25 they now charge for the vehicles. Between the new Snowspeeder and this, I'm really sold on this range! I wish they could/would do more Original Trilogy vehicles in this format. Screw true scale, I would buy a full Red Squadron of X-Wings in this format! This is kind of toy that reminds me how I got hooked on this hobby in the first place. Fun too look at, fun to play with and fun to display!
Hasbro - Marvel Super Heroes Adventures: Hulk & Thor
How many times can I buy the same character in the same outfit? Infinite seems to be the answer. I have finally got around to buying into the new Gen-2 of Hasbro's Heroes range and you know what, they're pretty darn good. These do a great job of combining the cutest style we've all come to expect with decent, play-able articulation. Rather than the bulky, squat look of the classic Heroes these take the style of the larger "Rescue Heroes" and shrink it down to 2". Big feet, big hands little torso, medium head - I like it. More importantly - articulation!!! Swivel head, T-crotch, balljointed shoulders and swivel wrists. Just when Mattel attempts to up the ante on the format, Hasbro blows them out of the water and grabs firm hold of remaining the Industry Leader.
Hasbro - Marvel Super Heroes Adventures: Iron Man & Dr. Doom
How beautiful is this set? Answer: a whole hell of a lot! Color balance is a huge deal to me, as recently expounded upon in my disappointment with DCUC Series 16. Having a visually pleasing range of colors is crucial to the overall performance, and this set is a great example. The bright green, silver, yellow and red really pop and compliment each other insanely well. Sadly the power is lost when added into a larger collection, but this is a perfect pairing. I did have to go through several sets to find a better paint job on Iron Man, the yellow is light enough mistakes are easily noticed, but am tempted to get a second set just because the style of the figures and the colors just coalesce so perfectly into something really engaging to look at it. This is toy-ery at it's best, and I will go as far as to describe this set as art.
Hasbro - Star Wars Jedi Force: C-3PO & R2-D2
So riffing on the discussion of color above - you know what I generally don't like on figures? Vac metallizing. With the exception of Chrome Dome from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the super shine usually succeeds in just looking hyper tacky to me, and few things bother me more than when this is done to C-3PO. Because of the needs from the process articulation is always pretty limited, not to mention that 3PO spends a lot of his time in the movies being dirty! So not only does painting him gold make more logistical sense, it just looks so much better to. Case in point: this figure. The R2 is pretty lame, just a big fat load of who-cares, but my god... this 3PO. A design that fits perfectly into this style, and is just so eye-grabbing in the rich gold paint. I would definitely buy one or two more of these sets were he packed with about anything other than this really disappointing R2 Figure. While Doom and Iron Man is the best set from this format's relaunch, C-3PO is hands down the best figure.
Lego - Creator: Snowman
Creator sets are usually both the best or the worst when it comes to Lego's, and fortunately this sets sits firmly on the former's side of the fence. This thing is a great kit. A simple set but with enough pieces to make it a fun build, especially since there is some multi-plane building too! He even comes with a broom (also a construct)! A cool thing is that they double up on both the straight and angled "arms" to further allow you options in display. A cool feature too is the piece on the top hat which provides a hole so that one could hang him as an ornament, were they so inclined.
Lego - Harry Potter: Harry Potter
Harry Potter Legos are a huge hit according to Jesse Falcon (who should know as he's working with Lego on the new Marvel brand), but we would never know it since they don't introduce a lot of new sets. Fortunately though we did just get an all-new Polybag, and who doesn't love Polybags! This set includes Prizoner of Azkaban Harry, Hedwig (who is less than one angry inch tall), a luggage trolley, his traveling trunk, a wand and a slew of gold pieces. The concept is great and fits the nature of the polybag pretty well, however it's a very lackluster and forgettable set. It kind of goes with the Hogwarts Train set but really doesn't have much of a place in the collection. Plus this Harry already comes with at least the Knight's Bus. He does have alternate expressions of both sides of his head so I guess you can now have both displayed. The wand is also gigantic, but I get that that just comes from the reuse nature of the format. I always love me some polybag sets, and vastly enjoy anything Harry Potter but this set is miss-able. I wish they had done something far more construction based, like Micro Hogwarts.
DST - Captain America Minimates: Captain America & Red Skull
Why have one when you could have two, twice the price! I picked up this second set so that I could have human-head Red Skull and helmet-less Cap on display. As before this remains one of the stronger sets DST has done recently. The flesh-mask for Red Skull on this one has particularly miss-aligned paint, but that's okay since I already have a another set.
Mattel - DCUC: Gleek
All right, kids. It has finally happened. Thanks to Mattel being so horrible that they are chasing people away, a friend of mine decided to sell his entire collection of DCUC. Our beloved Shocka was the purchaser and he was kind enough to take pity on me and sell me the Wonder Twins and Gleek. Man. This figure is not worth the hubbub. He's got swivel joints at the shoulders, hips and head. His tail looks like a swivel cut but it ain't moving for me. The yellow is just plastic-color while the rest is paint, so it, the yellow, looks particularly poor. The sculpt is well detailed but Gleek has, frankly, a very creepy face - and not in a fun way. Now, I know that I can say "you're fine without this" till I'm blue in the face, but it won't change the fact that if you feel him missing in your collection you're not going to stop wanting him. Just know that he really isn't worth it. "Strange that such a small thing should govern the fates of us all."
Mattel - DCUC: Wonder Twins
Really, I tried so HARD to get this at SDCC 2009, but since Gleek was un-have-able, my frustration got the better of me - what's the point of Wonder Twins sans Gleek, and seriously, what are the odds they'd make any more Super Friends specific figures that would make these a hole in the collection. Well... DCUC 18 proved me wrong and it's been a battle ever since. The figures are standard DCUC bodies and the heads are decent enough, but still have a slightly creepy look to them. Not as bad as Gleek, but still... it's like they're the evil Identical Twin versions of the Twins. Included is an eagle (the first release of this now standard bird tool, I believe) and a bucket of water. Sigh - what dumb characters. The accessories are pretty fun, but seeing as the characters are shape shifters I don't much anticipate displaying them instead of the figures. Now all I have to do is get DCUC 18.
Mattel - Ghostbusters: "We're Ready to Believe You" Egon
This is the fourth Egon figure, which I believe makes him the most released Ghostbuster [no, actually, he and Venkman are tied --ed.] and the first of this guy out of uniform. Like Ray before him and Venkman after, he comes in the blue lab coat from the "We're Ready To Believe You" TV commercial from the first film. Just like the Minimates these figures come with screen-inaccurate open coats, which is pretty aggravating since it's such a specific costume from such a specific scene! But I guess they didn't want to inhibit articulation for all those babies out there who would flip out if they couldn't have this Egon flex-running (not like the articulation is good enough to allow for such a pose at any rate). Included are three PKE meters representing the three degrees of "wing" open-ness, which is kind of neat. The ghost is the monster version of the Library Ghost. It's a good, if not too small, sculpt, but frankly I would much prefer the human version, so here's hoping that happens at some point. At any rate, it's a solid entry in the Ghostbusters line and is worth picking up.
NECA - Nightmare On Elm Street (2011): Fred Krueger
Zeno of Elea philosophized about paradoxes and "human" Krueger is a bit of one, if I do say so myself. Freddy Krueger is undeniably one of the very great Monsters in all of fiction, and while I get the "urban myth" value of him once being a real person it seems to undermine the incredible dream-manipulating powers by coming from such humble beginnings. I far prefer the New Nightmare origin of him being a sort of djinn, if you will. Regardless, though, I still happily bought this figure, partly to go with the Freddy Krueger spree I was on at this one TRU, partly cause I was always interested in getting him and mainly because he was marked down to $5! He uses the same legs and feet as the standard Freddy from the new film, but the rest is all new/unique sculpts. He comes with alternate right hands, as if you'd ever want to pose him without the garden claw (but the option is much appreciated). As is often the case the likeness is fantastic and looks just like Jackie Earl Haley. This figure certainly won't be a hole in anybody's collection, but is still a very fun addition!
NECA - Nightmare On Elm Street: Freddy Krueger
Man oh man - my second most anticipated line of year is at last out! This is Freddy from the original Nightmare on Elm Street which I've only seen once so I can't really vouch to the accuracy of the figure, though In Windrix We Trust. The heads look less realistic than the usual NECA fare, but we'll go with it. Included are two heads, two sets of arms (but one one pair of hands, so those need to get swapped as well) and a hat! Swapping everything out wasn't too difficult, fortunately. Best of all the long arms seem to stay in poses just fine! Interestingly enough the sweater is a separate piece from the torso, which is fully sculpted with scar tissue. It's just cast in black on these figures except for the neck, which is a separate piece, the seam being at about the collarbone.
NECA - Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy Krueger
All the figures from this line share the same legs, which is kind of a bummer since they are in such a specific stance, but the rest is unique sculpts - even the shoes! NoES2 Freddy comes with two of the very, very best sculpted heads I've seen in a long time! The standard is a normal, grimacing expression, eyes looking askew while the alternate has some exposed brains and a phenomenal screaming face! Swapping the head on this one was trickier than on the previous figure but with some effort I got it to work. Also included is an alternate knives-coming-out-of-his-fingers claw hand, which is just as cool as it sounds! These are retailing at TRU for a very steep $16 apiece which is brutal, especially considering the leg re-use, but the quality of the figures makes up for it. The bummer is that I really want doubles of each to have both configurations on display. The figures have swivel ankles, balljointed waist, ball-and-hinge shoulders and elbows, balljointed wrists and a balljointed head.
NECA - Robocop: Robocop
Now this is something I've been waiting for for a long time! Ever since NECA did the 18" Robocop I've been looking forward to a line from them. Sadly it's just Robocop so far but word is that there will be a Battle Damaged and Un-helmeted version coming later! The figure is pretty darn good, with a special shout-out to the open left hand which subtly adds to pulling off a lot of classic poses. Murphy comes with his signature gun (I'm not sure if it's the same tool from the Yellow Bastard/Hartigan boxed set from Sin City) and an interchangeable right hand with the Data Spike sticking out. While the paint lines around the mouth are pretty rough on all of the figures, it's the paint that really makes this figure special. Somehow they managed to nail the coloring from the film. He looks silver, but at certain angles there's a subtle purplish hue or slight hint of green or blue. It's astounding and can not be captured by photos, sadly. A great figure I'm more than happy to add to the collection!
Toys R US - Reusable Bag
I grew up in California and was raised on recycling so I thus have some pretty strong beliefs in favor of Reducing, Re-Using and Recycling. While I applaud TRU for using bags that are fully recycled and I'm particularly pleased to see they joined the bandwagon of re-usable tote bags! This thing is a heck of a good bag too - it's 14 inches wide, 6.25 inched thick and 16.5 inches tall! Trust me, it holds a lot! Now, there are only two main draw backs - you gotta carry it in with you (but that's what Cargo Pockets are for) and you gotta empty it out to go in to any additional Toys R Us' that trip - at least depending on your level of dedication. But whats better than something wholly functional and that's good for the environment? Something that looks cool too! And this does just that by hosting a great collage of retro TRU ads and comic strips featuring Geoffrey. I highly recommend you folks pick up one of these. It looks cool, it's good for the environments, and it's very functional for any of your tote-ing needs!
Bonus additions - Samples provided by DST! Thanks Zach & DST!
DST - Star Trek Mego: Captain Pike
I have some of the previous DST fake Megos, mainly as an extension of my all-encompassing obsession with the glory what it Star Trek so while I would have vastly preferred more action figures I'm just pleased to see new Trek product making it out. Pike seems like an obvious choice at first, but really seems a poor one the more I think about it. Yeah Mego/DST did a figure of The Keeper but it's so off-model it might as well be Balok's Puppet, so basically Pike stands alone in the series as the only character from The Cage. This slot would have been much better served with a Green Shirt Kirk, or T-Shirt McCoy, or Dress Uniform Spock, or essentially any other costume variant from The Original Series. That said though, this is a decent figure. The boots are sculpted on to the lower legs which is an interesting approach, but accurate to the originals. The head is the real winner though, it matches the Mego style perfectly - having enough Jeffrey Hunter to be Pike but poor enough to make most collectors wonder what's up with Mego fans. Seriously, I get nostalgia like nobodies business, but why do people dig exact duplicates of such a weak style. I guess I'll just never get it. At any rate, Pike's head is fully painted which makes me stand out even more so among the other crewmen who only get paint on their hair and eyes, using flesh tone plastic for the skin. Pike comes with a removable utility belt with a Phaser and a Communicator, neither being The Cage versions. All in all though, this is a really solid figure for this format.
DST - Star Trek Mego: Salt Vampire
Villains are the best! Finally we get a M-113 Creature in toy form. Sadly though its too on-model, something I never thought I'd say. He's basically just a big white mess, which doesn't fit in with the more inaccurate and colorful costumes of the other Aliens. I wish they had just had the courage to lean towards the outrageous and do something more cool and funky like what Mego did with the Mugato. The knees, elbows and ankles are all ratcheted hinge joints, so they hold their poses quite well. Conversely, the shoulders and hips are pseudo balljoints that get their range of motion from rubber-bands. Yep. The stellar might of rubber-band technology - oh, Mego. The sculpted head and hands do a great job of walking the thin line between Mego aesthetic and Costume accurate. Sadly, though, his big white one-piece pajamas literally soften the stability of his feet making standing remarkably hard; near impossible, I'd even contend. It's still a decent figure and a welcome addition to the ranks of the Alien Mego hordes.