I'm getting ready to move, but that didn't stop my purchasing, sadly. In all honestly this was about two or three weeks worth of stuff but it is now time to just unload fully on your poor folks. Read ye well as things may be lite for the next couple weeks.
DST - Marvel vs Capcom: Deadpool & Dante
It took so long to get a Deadpool Minimate but now it seems like he's the new Wolverine - constantly released! You won't see me complaining though, as I like his costume more than any of Logan's (yeah, I said it!). This might just be my favorite Deadpool yet - he's a plain Minimate with added rings for cuffs, loops about his feet and a sculpted belt. Thus most of the detailing comes through paint apps - the sure-fire way into my Minimate-Heart! He also comes with far more accessories than he could ever use, including two katanas and four handguns (though maybe two are meant for Dante, I don't really know anything about him). Sadly these are the worst kind of guns - their handles are too wide for the standard Minimate hand, so you really have to wedge them in there. Dante is a great new addition to the Minimate-iverse. Like Deapool, he's just paint on a standard body, plus a hair piece and a new coat add-on. He also comes with a new sword that's well sculpted and fits in his hand like a dream!
DST - Marvel vs Capcom: Hulk & Mike Haggar
One of the two Toys R Us exclusive sets, this one offers a repaint of the last series' new Hulk and some character I don't know which is par for course when it comes to my familiarity with most things videogame related. Mike Haggar is a, buff "anyman" figure that I could see working well against the new Maximum Zombies. He's got a new torso cover with a sculpted on shoulder strap (I'm sure we'll see this reappear in the Pirate Raiders line) and comes with a pipe accessory and a brownish BAMPF base - weird but cool. Hulk is, well, just as good as the previous uses of the new Hulked-Out body pieces. The only bummer here is that is left bicep piece got warped in the package and doesn't really stay on. I do like these more vibrant colors on him this time around and the new short hair piece (which was seen on the "pre-paint" Red Hulk) making this my favorite Hulk to date. Hulk gets an accessory of sorts - an all new, clear, generic base for Minimates!!! My god how I've dreamed for these for years! Please sell bags of these at conventions!
DST - Marvel vs Capcom: Iron Man & Arthur
Continuing the trend, this is my favorite Iron Man to date. It's a very good balance between uniquely sculpted pieces and the standard Minimate body. I particularly like that instead of a whole torso piece it just covers the chest and shoulders. He comes with with alternate gloves with weapons raised as well as a giant laser canon. On the down side Tony can't really hold the gun's handle since the hand-opening is narrow and at an angle on these gloves. On the up side the gun comes with a standard flight stand to hold it up, so you can kind of fudge it. Arthur is a nice, simple figure. I really, really like the sculpt of his helmet - I wish there was some way we could see it again, maybe on a Pirate or Zombie? He comes with a shield (which fits over the forearm, so he can still hold both weapons), an axe and a very cool Lance plus one of the new generic stands. Both of these figures a much better than their "pre-paints" from SDCC.
DST - Marvel vs Capcom: Magento & Zero
This is the other TRU exclusive set and completes the theme of "best of's" with it's Magneto. At first glance it seems this is just a repaint of the Magneto that came with Wolverine a few series back at Toys R Us however it is a vast improvement over that figure! Rather than using sculpted add-ons for the boots and gauntlets those details are now wholly painted on allowing for a better, more streamlined look. Better still is that the colors are, like Hulk, quite vibrant giving Erik a much more classic comicbook look (even the underside of his cape is a different shade of purple!). He comes with an interchangeable hair piece, two translucent purple energy bulbs for his hands and the "whoosh" flight stand the previous figure originated. With him comes Zero, a spin-off from Megaman. He uses a lot of new pieces that are just too bulky to get very excited. He comes with an energy sword and a generic stand.
Hasbro - Marvel Universe: Astonishing X-Men Wolverine
Sigh - I love buying Wolverines like I love not having that $9. However, this is a fully or almost fully new sculpt and more importantly a crucial member of my Astonishing X-Men team. All we need now is Emma Frost and "Cat" Beast. I'm not really crazy about this figure and only got him because I love Whedon's run so much. Yellow dominates this figure in an unappealing way and the articulation just seems lacking, at least for Wolverine. He really needs bicep-swivel at the minimum to help get some good "snikt!" poses. Marvel Universe certainly has had worse figure, but they've also had better.
Jun Planning: Nightmare Before Christmas Trading Figures 1: Jack Skellington
When Jun Planning picked up the master rights for Nightmare Before Christmas one of the more interesting lines they launched were Trading Figures. They did a nice job of combining the generic look of the packaging expected for such products but also included text on the top of the box to let you know what was inside - take that, evils of blind-boxing! The line wasn't very exciting though, as it was just figures of the major characters. I picked up Jack because, well, it's Jack and it turned out quite well. He builds to about 5" tall from some nine pieces. This makes him larger than expected and a nice centerpiece to the collection. The pinstripes are accomplished via a heavy white wash over little grooves in the sculpt. Jack has a really hit-and-miss history of likenesses and fortunately this is one of the better heads.
Jun Planning: Nightmare Before Christmas Trading Figures 1: Oogie Boogie
The rest of the figures are Sally, Lock & Barrel, Shock, Dr. Finklestein and this guy, Oogie. I passed on the formers, because how many of them do I really need, but this Oogie is cool because he's Burlap colored! A pet peeve of mine is Oogie Boogies painted in the black-light neon green color, so this was sort of a must-have. He comes in eight pieces, but the two halves of the torso came pre-glued together. This made getting the top of the head to plug in surprisingly difficult but through perseverance I made it work. He's about two-thirds the height of Jack which is... odd.
Jun Planning: Nightmare Before Christmas Trading Figures 1.5: Jack with Vampire Teddy
For some reason this second wave of Trading Figures is officially called "Series 1 extra" which makes no sense as they have nothing in common with the first wave, save but for the source material. However, as such, they improve immensely on what came before by finally going the route that works best for such products - miniature dioramas! This set features Santa Jack about to place the Vampire Teddy Bear under a Christmas tree. It is very well sculpted and painted considering the size (the tree is only three inches tall). It constructs well, though some of the joints are a bit looser than what I've seen on Japanese product. The tree is really the star of this set - it captures the look of the NBX trees quite well, and has a nice sheen to it.
Jun Planning: Nightmare Before Christmas Trading Figures 1.5: It's a Dream World
"...secure in their little dream land." This is basically a perfect Trading Figure set, a very specific scene that's memorable, but not one of the "trademark scenes." It's the kind of thing you look at and think "oh awesome, they did that!" Jack is two pieces, separated at the torso, and the bed is three (headboard, foot-board and bed with elves). There is no base so Jack is just on his own. Sadly he can't stay upright on his own, but prop his left elbow on the bed and you're good to go! Really good sculpting and painting too, especially for this scale!
Jun Planning: Nightmare Before Christmas Trading Figures 1.5: Snowman Jack
Like the "Dream World" set this one comes from the "What is This" musical sequence and likewise captures a very specific moment, more so even. It's Jack mid-lunge as he hops after the wind-up bear. In fact, that's why he seems a little too short, in Christmastown there's about a foot of snow that Jack sinks into so that it obscures his lower reaches. Snowman Jack is a great sculpt that really captures Jack's glee of the moment. By far the the best thing of the entire set is the very subtle purple sheen given to the snow to make it really pop - a very cool effect! The Wind-Up Bear is a cool sculpt with a subtle wood grain texture. The three elves are pretty similar and it took me a while to figure out which one went where.
Jun Planning: Nightmare Before Christmas Trading Figures 1.5: Welcome to Christmas Town
So I walk into a FiveBelow store to check it out. I've never been to one, but maybe they have toys, and you know what? Turns out they do! Much more than expected - including these Trading Figures, for only $2.99! I had forgotten about this "second" series and was surprised to see it actually got made seeing how big of a flop the rest of the NBX product was. Regardless, when I saw this set I was fully on board. The Doorway Trees is possibly my favorite set, and concept, in the entire film and it is so rarely, if ever, put down into collectible form! The tree is a two-piece construct on top of the base. Jack is two pieces as well, but his right arm is in a weird pose - the packaging shows it behind his back, but out of the box it seems designed to cup the left hand grabbing the doorknob. I went with the packaging pose as it looks better. Included is a loose Zero to do with as you please. He's probably my favorite version of the ghost dog yet, cast in clear plastic with a light milky white wash.
Lego - Polybag: Turkey
Polybags rock! Micro sets rock! Lego animals are cool! And this set, well it just happens to be all three! It's a fun build that's a little bit more complex than it looked. Still simple and fun. The eyes throw me right back to those bricks when I was a kid with the eyes printed on them, making them just weird. In this set they're stickers, which offers just as many issues. Overall it's a nice little set and a great addition to the Holiday themed Polybags!
Lego - Polybag: Vulture Droid
Scored this little dude at TRU and was quite thankful for it! In a nice bit of design, the "head" is articulated so that you can have him in either Fighter or Walker mode. The wings are articulated by the nature of the build, they can pivot to or away from the body. It would have been cool if they could have made the halves of each wing close-able, but that may be asking too much from a Polybag and a Micro. It's not really in scale to anything I have but a fun piece nonetheless.
Lego - Polybag: Wreath
Now this is a great Polybag set! Creative, distinctly Lego but a good reproduction, lots of bricks and a straightforward but active build. I'm kind of tempted to get a second one to extend out the circumference. There is only one downside to this and that is it comes with no way to suspend it. Being Legos I'm sure we can easily solve that, but it still would be preferably to have it included. If you get one Seasonal Polybag - make it this one!
Lego - Orient Expedition: Yeti's Hideout
Oh wow, something old! It's been a long road to me being hooked on Legos but while surfing the catalogs on Brickset.com I came across this set from 2003 that I had completely forgotten about. I've been nuts for Bigfoot and Yetis for as long as I can remember and indeed came close to getting this back in the day, but ultimately decided to spend that money on something else (probably Star Wars figures). Now, though, thanks to an eBay auction it is mine. This is the first time I've bought something not Mint In Box and it actually worked out okay (it only cost me the original SRP, though I am sans box and instructions). The Snow Mountain is cool, but the "door" doesn't really fill up the archway very well. I do dig the Tibetan shrine, which does a good job of being both simple and familiar. It has a little slide-out box connected via rope to the wall, for some reason. The Minifigure is a neat little thing with a Mongolian/Tibetan looking hat and a camera. But the reason to get this is the Yeti, and it is pretty cool. It's built out of a leg-piece which terminates in a four-by-four on which two two-by-one's with holes through them are put. The arms plug into the holes and the head/torso slips over and on. It's definitely of a simpler style that pre-dates the more current aesthetic (it reminds me of the old Jabba the Hut figure they did). While I would prefer something a bit more dynamic in appearance I'm just too damn happy to have a Lego Yeti!
Lego - Ornament: Gold
So Lego is putting out three of these color-themed ornaments for the upcoming Holidays. There is a Green, Red and Gold one that each contain a combo of four-by-four colored bricks and two-by-one translucent bricks. While all three are tempting, at $7.99 each I couldn't really justify getting all. This one, though, has gold bricks which will come in very handy for my castle's treasure room. Inside the clear ball are 12 translucent yellow two-by-one bricks and 28 four-by-four bricks but sadly only half of those are gold, the other half being in dark beige.
Lego - Spongebob Squarepants: Heroic Heroes of the Deep
Something that will always grab my attention is diverse use of bright colors, and this set definitely has that. I've been eying it for awhile, but with no Spongebob familiarity I've comfortably stayed away. However, with the revelation of the 2012 sets there are two that I'm totally sold on so thanks to October's "Double VIP Points" promotion at the Lego Store I finally bought in. There are three characters, though only two mini-figs - the third is built entirely out of standard bricks, though with an eye painted onto a one-by-one cylinder. These are fun variations on Spongebob and Patrick that will definitely, happily, stand out once I end up getting more sets. The boat is pretty cool too, and I do like its shape and especially bright yellows, reds, and sky blues. I do wish it had a bit more depth to it (the figures sit on the same level/height as the bow) but overall it works fine for me. This a fun little $15 set.
Mattel - DCUC 19: Atom
I'm surprised by how much I like this figure. I'm a big fan of the J.S.A. and was one of the few people thrilled by this series but the Atom seemed like not the best choice since he has such an odd costume. However it comes together very well here and I think the secret is the color choices which are just slightly darker than the comic colors. The real winner though is the fantastic light brown drybushing over the dark brown costuming, which really completes that look of worn leather. I only really have one complaint about this figure and is the non-sculpted sleeves on the bicep. It wasn't really an issue for me but once I noticed I can't stop seeing the weak line between yellow and tan. At least it needed a thin, darker color, line but preferably would have been sculpted.
Mattel - DCUC 19: Hawkman
The who-gives-a-damn figure of the series. Sure, I love Hawkman as much as the next guy but this pretty much the cheapest cash-in since the "Ocean Warrior" Aquaman figure. Fortunately they gave this guy two heads which kind of ups the value and lets you pick your own lesser-of-two-evils (for me it's the hood, I just can't get behind the exposed-chin helmet). Ironically, because he has interchangeable heads he also gets a two-ball neck rod meaning you can actually pose the head somewhat. The initial release came with a sword, shield and mace but this one gets a mace and a second head. Hoo-boy. It's just a repaint too similar to the original to really get excited about it.
Mattel - DCUC 19: Lord Naga
I have no idea who this is but he sure looks cool! I've also been a sucker for sculpted scales (thanks Super Powers Aquaman!) so obviously there is appeal on that front. I also really dig the pseudo-Serpentor look of the design and the two-tone greens. I love the hell out of the staff too, the cobra head is just perfectly conceived and executed! If only the staff were a bit thicker he could actually hold it, rather than just loosely presenting it in-hand.
Mattel - DCUC 19: Magog
Kingdom Come is my favorite Superhero story of all time so between that and my passion for the JSA I've certainly been looking forward to this guy. He's pretty much my favorite figure of the series, a really good DCUC/4H execution of the design. The only downside is the non-removable gun. I can understand why it has played out as such, but it's just very conspicuous. On the plus side though the knees are sculpted with articulation in mind! The hinge joint is thin and long, with a comparable groove on the thigh so that it can bend to a full 90 degrees! If only the same consideration was taken with other figures...
Mattel - DCUC 19: Sandman
Sandman is just cool, especially in his Mystery Theater attire, which I'm sure we'd all prefer (and I say that as a huge Golden Age JSA fan). The bright colors of this one work well in the overall team aesthetic but not so much as a one-off. He's built off of the Joker's body, which means he can't bend his elbows too far. While that's bearable for the Clown Prince of Crime, when this guy's main offense is that he shoots a gun, it's pretty darn bad! The gun is pretty cool, though, and I dig the complementary hooks on the handle and the jacket, but the left hand just doesn't hold it too well. Add to that a none-too-poseable neck joint and you get the opposite of The Atom, a promising design lost in execution.
Mattel - DCUC 19: Stargirl
Yawn. I've never been a fan of this character or design or name. It's cute that she teams up with S.T.R.I.P.E. but ultimately just doesn't click for me. I get the functional relevance of her (J.S.A. is more a family than a team) but there's just nothing too special about the character. As would be expected the paint around the face mask is sloppy but the rest of the figure is pretty well done, and of course I'm always a fan of metallic paint especially of the blue variety. She comes with Jack Knight's Starman staff just cast entirely in translucent yellow. I suppose that's a fair way to differentiate and allude to the "fire" often coming off it in the art but it still doesn't look too exciting. Even though the line already includes two golden staffs I think it would have been ideal to stay gold on this one as well.
Mattel - DCUC 19: S.T.R.I.P.E.
Since I was actually able to stumble upon the entire series at Target I was able to build the BAF in one shot so I'll review it as such too. It's good. Obviously it borrows from the (horribly over-scaled and thereby somewhat pointless) Stel BAF sharing the legs, hips (but with new frontispiece), shoulders and biceps. The rest is new and actually ties the whole thing together quite well and thus looks very good. He's a bit more techno-y, and certainly more robot than suit, than in the books but that's okay. He makes a lot of sense as this wave's BAF but in all honesty I'm very bummed out that we didn't get a Gog figure. That's one of my very favorite designs in the last two decades and he fits the series, and Magog, theme well. Sure maybe they'll do a more accurately in-scale version through Mattycollector, but that's highly unlikely.
McFarlane - Halo Reach - Brute Chieftan
So I walk in to Toys R Us and see this guy, and I'm all like, "WTF, Mate!?" How did I not know about or otherwise forget entirely about this series!? It's easily one of the best that they've done and this duder is definitely the star! First off, super cool new armor! Second, an even cooler copper/gray/light blue color scheme. Thirdly - he's huge! He's 7¼" tall (with the helmet on - it's removable AND he has an articulated jaw!) which makes him the biggest carded figure to date! I was excited at first to see a lot of high-functioning balljoints all over him, but due to proportions he's still not easy to pose. Regardless this is a must-have for any Halo fan, he's too cool.
Neca - Gremlins 2: Flasher Gremlin
Yay!!! Gremlins 2 are finally here after so many years!!! This is the very memorable, one-shot gag Gremlin throwing-back to the not-so-funny but still kind of funny childhood trauma of Phoebe Cates' character revealed in the first film. He shares the same everything-below-the-neck as the rest of the Gremlins but a different right hand, angled to better hold the coat. I was worried the coat would be pretty rigid but I had little issue with it going from the more closed pose in the package and the more open one of the sculpt. The sunglasses are removable and a little tricky to get in place but work fine. The cigarette is a pretty cool accessory, but it doesn't fit well in his mouth or between his fingers, so expect it to be lost easily.
Neca - Gremlins 2: George
George is probably the coolest of the first series since he's the evil-est. Plus he comes with a cool cigar, which also doesn't fit well in fingers or mouth (it just hangs loosely). Look, I'm not too happy with these now that I have them. I just figured they'd rework the Brain and Mohawk sculpts but this is 100% new, and it just doesn't look as good to me. The torso is a bit too plump and the shoulders have pretty pronounced spikes on them similar to the uncool Gremlins from the first film. The good news is balljoints at the ankles, knees, hips, elbows, shoulders and neck. It's really a bummer they have swivel wrists instead of balljoints there too.
Neca - Gremlins 2: Daffy
It's easy to confuse Daffy and Lenny as they're booth goofy looking, but you can tell this Daffy mainly due to the crossed eyes. It's a good likeness that captures the character well. He comes with a pair "novelty" glasses-with-nose that I can't really figure out how to get on and solid plastic noise-maker. Nothing too exciting, and sadly that sums it up for the line. They're good but nowhere as great as they looked previously. Of course, a big part of the disappointment comes from the whopping $15.99 price tag. For figures with very minimal accessories and that are 80%-90% just repaints that's really too hard of a pill to swallow. Bummer.
NECA - Tron 2.0: IC Regular
I was incredibly excited to score the Tron 2.0 figures for $10 each at SDCC but now I find them at FiveBelow for $5 (just as people told me), so of course I'm going to army-build and double up on the one trooper figure! He has fairly tight swivel joints all over, plus hinged knees and elbows, which is okay since I don't really need him to do more than stand ominously. Accessories include a simple, generic base, an identity disc (with a peg that connects to the left palm) and a big semi-transparent shield. A simple but neat figure, especially for the price.
Playmobil - Pirates: Rowboat
Huzzah- new Playmobil! This set comes from the relaunch of the Pirate theme and features a new shark as well as a new boat. The shark is awesome, which is good since he's a major selling point. He seems small at first but is length of two Playmofigs and is thus quite the formidable beast. It has an articulated jaw for biting and the whole underside is a separate white piece that even has a peghole should you want to make a little swim stand for him. The boat seems cool at first but its design is just mind boggling. It's too wide for a single oarsmen (he has to sit with the oar-tips precariously resting about a third of the way in each hand) and seems more intended to have two oarsmen sitting side by side. However, in that configuration they would only be rowing with a single arm, which just seems weird. Plus the boat has a front-mounted cannon which just seems so implausible, but I do like the new angled flagpole on the back. Included are two pirates, one a generic white guy much in the "castaway" vein of the line. The other is a much cooler, much more anticipated Maori-ish would-be Queequeg! He even comes with a spear to complete the harpoonist look! While I'd really like them to do a harpoon I totally get the proverbial hot water that could get them into. Still though, for a company that has made toys of a Port-a-Potty, a T.S.A. checkpoint and a Premie Incubator it's not too far out of the realm of possibility.
Playmobil - Specials: Cowboy
Another score at FiveBelow, they had a bunch of this wave of the Playmobil Specials so I finally got to fill in some holes in the collection. This is a pretty cool Old West guy with a nice aesthetic going on but where he really shines this the large volume of accessories! He's got a hat, a gun belt, gun, Winchester rifle, rope, two fringed chaps, a campfire, frying pan, pitcher and two cups. Um.... awesome! And all for only $2.99!
Playmobil - Specials: King
Somehow I just never ended up with a more modern King but all that's over with now! I really like the overall aesthetic of this guy, the balance of purple and white give him an air of realism lacking in some of their other efforts. I'm not too crazy about the hair, but that's easily solvable (and boy will he be getting a beard). Included is a cape, scepter and crown. The latter is actually two separate pieces which is pretty cool cause it looks just as good without the purple poofy bit.
Toybiz - Lord of the Rings: Moria Orc Archer
Ho-Lee-Cuh-Rap! About two weeks ago I got completely swept up in behind the scenes stuff for The Hobbit which has kicked me back hardcore into the nostalgia of production on Lord of the Rings and, of course, the subsequent franchise so I've been watching the movies and the various documentaries a lot. It got me depressed that the last couple series of figures were so hard to get and that I didn't have the Moria Archer nor Battle Cry Uruk Hai. Over the weekend I decided to swing by the local collector store and not only did they have this guy M.O.C. but he was only $9!!! Fate shines on Rustin in the most gloriously fortuitous way!!! I gave Jesse Falcon and ToyBiz a lot of crap back in the day for this line, but despite the problems with the general handling of it they really did make some very cool figures! This guy has hinged ankles, double jointed knees, ball-and-hinge hips, swivel waist, ball-and-hinge shoulders, hinged elbows, side-to-side hinged wrists and a balljointed head - that's 16 points and it's all hidden pretty. He comes with a bow (with a string... string), a removable quiver and four arrows. Best of all, the bow has enough slack that you can prop it pulled back with the right fingers which also easily hold the arrow in place. This is the best archer figure I've seen, in terms of posing with or without bow pulled, it's really a shame it came out at the very end of the line. It's not all perfect, though. I can't get the bottom hinge of either knee to budge at all and the back has a big metal vertebrae cast in rubber that's bent over from the packaging. Still, had I my druthers I'd armybuild this cool Orc!