Some pre-christmas shopping rendered some pretty hearty haulage, specifically when it comes to Marvel finds at good ol' Toys R Us. Here's hoping you all had a delightful Christmas and Holiday Weekend - I spent mine buried in TOYS!
Disney - PVC Figure Sets: Toy Story Hawaiian Vacation
The Disney Store carries an exclusive line of PVC figure boxsets from many of the popular Disney films but this one comes from the short film Hawaiian Vacation that played before Cars 2 in theaters this summer. Mattel squeaked out a couple figures of the heavy hitters but nothing too exciting so I was pretty jazzed when I found this set. Each character is an all new sculpt capturing their "Hawaiian" costumes. For $19 you get Buzz, Woody, Jessie, Rex, Mr. Pricklepants, Slinky, Ham and two Aliens! Best of all Ham comes with his "luau" tray which can also be held aloft by the Aliens, which is pretty darn awesome. Each of the figures offers much better sculpting and more complicated paint than the Mattel products but they lack articulation of any kind. I also am having trouble keeping Woody and Buzz standing, unfortunately. Still though, Mr. Pricklepant's awesome Fish outfit, Rex's great bird disguise and the whole Ham/Alien/Tray affair are just phenomenal. This is a fantastic way to pick up most of the characters and in fun, film specific/accurate costume variations. I dig this set a whole lot and recommend it to any Toy Story fan - now, if only they'll do a similar set for the much better, much funnier "Small Fry" Toy Story short!
DST - Marvel Minimates: Classic Thor & Balder the Brave
Just in time for Christmas the latest series of Marvel Minimates have hit Toys R Us. Sadly though, by the time I got to them all that was left was but one of the two exclusives sets. Balder I know very little about but he is a fun silver age style design that should fit in nicely with the Stormbreaker boxset from SDCC. Thor is the third Minimate of this costume and certainly the most interesting. That's because his big cape (with shoulder pads sculpted on) simply just rests over the shoulders of the figure instead of having a little hole that slips over the neck. The cape stays on surprisingly well and it doesn't make the figure as back-heavy as I expected (a base is not included but would really be much appreciated though). He comes with Mjolinir, complete with the "whoever holds this..." text printed legibly on the side and, more cool-ly, Donald Blake's walking stick (which is the magical key for Blake's transformation to Thor, and the stick becomes Mjolnir). Overall it's not the most thrilling set but definitely one worth having for us fans.
Hasbro - Iron Man: #39 Mandarin
A casual trip to Toys R Us to use a Rewards Certificate before it expired rendered one of the single greatest finds I've had in... memory. Right there on the peg of two year old Iron Man figures was one set of the mythic and lost "series four" (well, not really complete was no Modern War Machine was to be found)!!! Snapped them up I did and here I live to tell the story. I'm not too familiar with the Mandarin or this look for him but I'm quite pleased with his the "Asian flare" of his costume. This is a pretty standard figure for Hasbro's Marvel range in terms of articulation, sculpt and paint. Being a more ornate outfit the sculptural detailing is higher than usual and it's all the stronger for it. His shoulder piece and skirt are separate rubber pieces but he's been assembled with his belt/skirt slightly askew and I can not get that to change. I would also be remiss to point the less-than-perfect paint on the dragons and rings. They tried to paint very tiny elements, which is commendable, but that means that sloppiness is even more noticeable when any slips occur. I wish the infamous Ten Rings got more than just gold paint, like a dot of color on each, to make them "pop" a bit more, but such is life. Mandarin comes with a translucent sword featuring jaggedy energy streaks and a removable helmet. The helmet is a nice way to offer both classic looks of the character but it results in a tiny head and an unnatural looking helmet. On the plus side this guy's hair is a separate piece cast in soft rubber so it bends well helping to enable the head articulation!
Hasbro - Iron Man: # 36 Ultimate Iron Man
Oh. My. God. The Ultimate armor is tied for my favorite Iron Man suit (with the Secret Wars era yellow and red one) so I have been yearning for this figure for a very long time! Sadly thought they put it in a series which saw little to no distribution. In fact, this is the only time I've seen this figure outside of Hasbro's SDCC booth (the other ones popped up at Wizard World Chicago commanded ludicrous prices) so I'm just giddy with delight. Other than his double-jointed knees and swivel thighs every single point of articulation is a balljoint - even the wrists! This guy is 100% all new sculpt and it is by far the best representation of this armor yet. As if that wasn't enough, he also comes with interchangeable helmets so that you can have his "Ultimates" look or his "Mark I" look from the prequel mini-series by Orson Scott Card. This conspires to make his scarcity all the more criminal! Interestingly, the helmets pop on to large mushroom like button, not a standard ball like most Hasbro heads. The "Ultimates" version goes on well but the "Mark I" is a little tighter and trickier. It's not all peaches and cream, though. The sculpt around the wrists and feet limit the range of motion and, most noticeably, the yellow paint on both helmets is pretty rough. All told though this is by far one of the best figure Hasbro has done to date and they need to get him re-released (probably through Marvel Universe) so that we can all double and triple up as necessary!
Hasbro - Iron Man: #37 Whiplash
All I really know about non-movie Whiplash is how lame he was on the '90s cartoon. Egads, that costume... This figure is based on the mini-series that came out around the time of Iron Man 2 which undoubtedly rebooted the comic character to be more similar to the film version. It's a neat if a but unexciting. I don't have one handy at the moment but I'm reasonably certain this figure is built off of the Vault Guard's body with new forearms, hands, shins, feet and head. The torso armor and left thigh armor are removable though I'm not sure why you'd want to do that. The upper torso is cast in flesh tone while everything below the ribcage is cast in black plastic making him look right odd sans armor. Ol' Vanko comes with two translucent (light blue?) "whips" which plug into his gauntlets. They pre-posed via sculpt which as first bugged me but actually was the right way to go, I think, as they remain fairly dynamic on the shelf.
Hasbro - Thor: #16 Sif
Christmas Eve found me hitting TRU one last time in hopes of some good Lego finds. While I left empty handed on that front I did find a Sif! All I need now is Laufey and my much coveted helmeted Loki (oh, and a Destroyer). Clearly clean paint apps are not her forte, but that's fine - I'd rather have one than not. Interestingly she is the only (non-Frost Giant) figure to not have a ridiculous play feature weapon, and odd choice since girl figures are "traditionally the worst selling" and the terrible play feature weapons exist solely to shill to kids. At any rate she comes with her awesome sword (with double-length-ed handle) and a double bladed version of the same design - watch out Darth Maul. Even odder yet is that the blades are painted metallic white... Huh? As a figure she's pretty good and works in all the same ways you would expect from Hasbro. An interesting thing is that her torso costume below the ribcage and down though the skirt is one piece, cast in rubber and fitting over the lower torso and hips. She's a good figure but not as good as I had expected.
Lego - DC Comics: Superman vs. Power Armor Lex
Lego bombshelled us all when they announced rights to both DC and Marvel Comics the week before SDCC this summer and now, just in time for Christmas (literally - the week before it) the first series is out. I'm generally not into big Exo Suit things, especially from Lego, but this set was only $20 and included Superman, Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor so I had to just suck it up and dive in. The three mini-figures are all quite good with Wonder Woman and Superman both getting new hair pieces and alternate faces (Lex, being bald, gets but the one face [which is kinda ironic considering as a character he is often "two faced" - thank you]). The Power Armor is a fun build and will make for a good toy for any kid. It has a swivel waist and balljoints at the shoulders, elbows, hips and feet plus hinged fingers on each hand. I would have preferred balljoints at the knees but I suppose I could always add them myself, this being Lego. The suit also gets a big Kryptonite gun which clips onto the right forearm. A rubber hose connects it to the torso which is kind of neat as it is a transparent piece with a thin lime green shaft cast inside it. I especially dig the kryptonite in the gun, which is just the crystal/gold brick cast in translucent green. I think my goal on this line will be just to acquire characters since most of the sets are uninspired and this is certainly a great set to start that collection with.
NECA -A Nightmare on Elm St.: ANoES 3 "Dream Warriors" Freddy
I haven't seen the movie but I do love me some Freddy Kreuger toys and boy does NECA knock this stuff out of the park! I don't have my Series 1 figures handy so I'm not sure if the arms and feet are new but the torso, claw and heads are. As always the sculpt is unimpeachable and the paint is terrific (though I did do some comparison hunting before purchasing). Sadly, though, the torso is just a rubber piece which slips over the sculpted torso beneath. Since I had discover on the last series that the under-torso is fully sculpted I had really hoped that it meant this figure with have a rubber shirt over the sculpted torso for a much cooler effect (similar to that great sense of depth on the original Movie Maniacs Jason figure, alas such is not the case. The two heads aren't totally dissimilar to the ANoES 2 Freddy in that one is screaming and one isn't but both are all new sculpts, though they both have that most annoying of NECA features - sideways looking eyes. Cut that crap out already, guys! Quit forcing poses on us! On the upswing, though, he gets a removable hat and a model of Nancy's houce made from popsicle sticks.
NECA -A Nightmare on Elm St.: ANoES 4 "Dream Master" Freddy
I also have not seen this movie but damn... not this is a memorable figure! Unlike the other four figures in the line so far this one has a solid torso, meaning there is no rubber shirt/chest over a solid under-torso. This makes a ton of sense considering all the extremities and articulation of the front. All six of the side-arms, the right "nipple" arm and the "behind the little guy" arm all terminate in ball-and-socket joints which gives some nice, subtle flexibility in posing. The little guy and the arm on Freddy's head get no articulation, but that okay. I really only have two issues with this figure, one is the very unnatural looking way the fabric hangs over the shoulder behind the little guy (but that's on the back of the figure and is thus easy to ignore and overlook) and the legs. I was never too crazy about the contraposto like pose and though I recognize its pretty iconic for Freddy it really goes against everything going on above the waist by appearing so relaxed below it. Also, he's the only figure in the line not to get an alternate head or look, which is kind of a bummer since I fantasize about being able to afford doubles of the other figures to have both looks on display. Still, this is the most distinctive Freddy in the line so far and is well worth adding to your collection for that alone.