Oh man... so much travel, so little time. I apologize my little chickadees for the delays but I offer unto thee this hearty catch-up Spoils with picks from over the last month. Enjoy, and enjoy so safely and without regret.
Bandai - Thundercats: Wily Kit & Wily Kat
Look, Toys R Us had a 2-for-1 sale. At this point I just wanted to complete the cast list. They're... I suppose they're fine for what they are (which is not much). The surf boards are a cute idea but the figures, with their 3 points of articulation... they are so painfully lackluster they should have scrapped the accessories and just done a twopack. It's really no wonder this line is more or less dead.
Hasbro - Avengers: Captain America
I gotta admit, the toys are looking to be the worst thing about the imminent Avengers movie. I also have to say that I pretty much hate Cap's costume in the movie - it's a perfect example of "what works in the comics doesn't work in live action." This toy, however, solves a lot of the overall blah-ness of the design and actually becomes one of my favorite Cap looks! First, the whole outfit looks more utilitarian than costume (unlike the film) with the more pronounced details on the chest and arms. More importantly, they incorporate minimal but crucial patches of dark blue to really break up the sea of blue and make it look more dynamic. Interestingly, this Cap has his ears exposed while the helmet in the film has them covered. I agree with the concept of them covered but as is the proportions of the film helmet look silly. Cap comes with his shield and a handgun (I'm surprised how much I like that Movie Cap has a sidearm) and giant shield launcher. Sure it's kind of silly but I really like that the pack-in's on this line are more character specific and visually interesting than the standard bin-fodder Hasbro throws in.
Hasbro - Avengers: Hulk
I expected more texturing to the figure given the usual aesthetic of Hasbro's movie figures but somehow the smoothness here works fine in the overall look. I like the growling face and the sculpt is pretty decent and a reasonable size, based on the rough sense of scale we get from the trailers. The shoulders have a spring-loaded pull'n'swing function for Hulk-Smashing action. They still ratchet into positions so it's not the worst thing ever. It really, really would have been nice if they had given him wrist articulation but there is really only one problem - his left knee. As you can see the disc in the balljoint is cast in the same tan of the pants. There is lots of logical tooling reasons for this but its a painfully noticeable problem. At the least they should have sculpted the shorts onto his lower leg, but really should have just fit that ring on the tool with green parts. It's a fun figure, and the best of Hasbro's available Hulk figures so it's certainly worth getting.
Hasbro - Avengers: Iron Man, mark VII
It feels kind of weird, but freshly relieving for Tony to only add one new armor in a film. The VII returns us to the far better circle-on-the-chest, though honestly it looks weird now having become so acclimated to the triangle. This looks like a kitbash or a repaint but it's actually 100% new, you can tell by the articulation. Every figure from the movie (save for Hulk) gets exactly the same 11 points: ball'n'socket head, balljointed shoulders, elbows, knees and hips, with swivel cuts at the top of the thighs. It's an interesting new take on reducing articulation (no doubt a result from the losses on the Iron Man 2 line - and in true Hasbro fashion, it's the cost of producing the figures, not the HORRIBLE case packs that are viewed as the problem... get a clue guys! Any new series needs to favor new figures, not previously released ones - this isn't hard!) and while I'm very happy that each point is a balljoint, it just makes the lack of wrist and ankle articulation incredibly conspicuous. In fact, I think I would sacrifice other points to have wrist and ankle articulation. Still, though, this is a fine figure and I'm pretty happy with it. Good, clean paint and a nice mash-up of the Mark IV and Mark VI designs. I also really, really dig the weird electro-spinner accessory he comes with. It even has a peg/cuff attachment on it, like with Cap's shield, so that Tony can wear it like a shield or plug it into his back like helicopter spinner. It's by far the coolest of all pack-in nonsense Hasbro has done and it really fires up the imagination in a fun, kid-like way!
Hasbro - Avengers: Loki
Loooooooookiiiiiiiii! I love your helmet so much!!! I will buy just about anything Loki cause those damn horns are just so cool to me. I'm not too crazy about his Avengers costume and wish they'd stayed a bit more in line with the Thor one, but what are you going to do? The gold on him is much more yellow than I would prefer, which juxtaposes oddly against his black costume. He comes with more bin-fodder (a silly axe/spear presumably leftover from the Thor line). It's the villain and he's got awesome horns, you know you're going to get it (even if the coloring leaves room for improvement).
Hasbro - Avengers: Thor
Thor, Thor, Thor... You just... don't fit in. And not just dramatically. I like the idea of Thor, but he's just never worked for me in the overall Marvel Universe, and especially on The Avengers. I love the Avengers trifecta of Hulk, Cap and Iron Man - they're a perfect display: Man, Machine, Monster plus they comprise a perfect balance of the four primary colors (yes, we're counting green as a primary, because COME ON! It's such a dominant hue in perception). Thor... well he just doesn't really add anything to the mix, especially visually. I also very much don't care for his filmic costumes. I like the current suit in the comics, but this takes that and makes it silly. They just favor the "ooh, I'm alien" thing way too much when what I want is the more classical Norse viking badass. Much like Cap's Avengers suit, this just screams "costume" rather than uniform, armor, etc. However, Thor is a part of the world, and a key one at that, plus this appears to be the only collectible of his Avengers duds so ya gots to get it. He comes with a big translucent blue lightning burst that missile-launches an electro-encased Mjolnir. Much like Iron Man and Cap's kiddie-fun accessory I like how semi-plausible this is and that it's actually in keeping with the character's power. If only it weren't so bulbous...
Hasbro - Avengers: Ultimate Thor
I love me some Ultimates and this Ultimate Thor may be my favorite incarnation of him (the only Thor storyline I've liked is the Ultimates 2 "is he a crazy human or a real god" one) and it was my favorite armor until the mail-arms one came along. With an Ultimate Universe Cap and Iron Man (good god they need to re-release that one!) in my collection I'm very happy to continue building that team (though I can not find Ultimate Hawkeye anywhere!). Thor's a very a good sculpt but suffers from the same articulation problems as the rest of the Avengers line. Packed in is Mjolnir and a fairly neat axe/spear like the ones from the Thor line, and while it is pointless it's "pull-out blades" make it my favorite of the line of that style. Mjolnir is just... it seems slightly out of scale and the axe blade is certainly WAY too big. It's a good figure and I do recommend it, but Hasbro could have done better.
Hasbro - Captain America: Captain America
TRU's classic "Buy 2 Get 1" sale suckered me in to wrap up my Captain America purchases. I just dig Cap so I felt compelled to get this version, though I hate the head (so square and angry!?) and the blue is too dark for my tastes. Overall it's a good sculpt and plenty of fine articulation. His shield seems a little too big and he gets a repainted missile launcher from the Iron Man 2 line. I know these accessories are meant to target kids, but I really think it's just some sort of plastic-producers lobbyist conspiracy. These tend to just be ugly and useless things. Give this figure a new head and a lighter shade of blue down the road and he'll be worth having. As is... let him warm those pegs.
Hasbro - Captain America: Snow Gear Captain America
It's goofy as all heck but something about it just clicked for me and I've been eying him since release. I just dig Cap when he's got more militaristic gear on over his costume. He gets a pseudo-bazooka which he can't really hold and a silly snowboard that's over-sculpted and only painted on the underside. Sure... makes since. I may try to set up a snow attack display with Snow Cap leading my various snowy GI Joes into a Winter Wonder War sometime. Cope.
Hasbro - Captain America: Winter Soldier
I never read this storyline and do not care to. Why can't they just let the permanently dead characters stay permanently dead? How long till we find out Uncle Ben has actually been MODOK all along? I can't even say I'm too fond of this design, but whatever - I'm into character variety. It's a good sculpt, far better than the one from the Marvel Universe line, and comes with a super cool sniper rifle, though he can't hold it as well as I'd have liked. There's also a silly jetpack with wings that don't fully fold into the body. Certainly this is one of the stronger figures from the ill-conceived Captain America line, and while I'm happy for fans of the character (are there any?) the quality and new tooling seems wasted on him.
Hasbro - GI Joe: Cobra Trooper
Hot damn, now this is more like it! I haven't seen the new cartoon at all but I dig the look of the designs and the hybrid style of the figures works fine for me. Ever since... I think it's the, well I don't know their names but there was a Flint figure with short sleeves that then were reused on the silver-face-helmeted Cobra Troopers, but ever since those guys I've been kinda nuts for troopers and fighters in short sleeves. There's just something cool about it for some reason (implausible though it may be). I really like the color combos here, though somehow (and I say this well knowing in the same seires is the all-purple Techno-Viper) it feels too cartoony to fit in with the standard Joe line. At any rate he comes with handcuffs, a nightstick, alternate head and the very cool rectangle rifle finally cast in a decent weapon color and even featuring some minor paint detailing. I really like the alternate head with the mask over the mouth - it really helps the army-buildability of the figure, though it does make the bare arms all the more conspicuous. Were these not $8-$10 apiece I would definitely get 2-6 more.
Hasbro - GI Joe: Law & Order
Imagine my surprise to find this was not a generic Joe trooper! Well, the beauty of toys and a passing interest in the mythos means I can do as I please - so L&O? You are now a generic armybuilder! I love the guy for much of the same reasons as the Cobra Trooper but he gets the bonus of a kickass new dog and an awesomely oversized badge (calling to mind the great Judge Dredd costume). I do wish he came with more helmet options but that is expressly me being greedy. He comes with the dog, a helmet, removable visor, nightstick, cuffs, machine gun, grenade launcher and a handgun with removable silencer (though those last two are cast in olive green)! Hell yeah! I will absolutely be getting three more of this guy and possibly more! This is Duke's Army!
Hasbro - Iron Man: Initiative War Machine
Yeah, well... I decided I wanted to be "all in" for Iron Man characters and thus is happened. I do not care at all for the black and white color scheme but I do like the idea of the green "glow" effect. In general I hate that sort of thing but it's actually executed well here and helps break up the blandness of the color pattern, though it now makes the whole thing favor white - blah. The cannons are nice too but overall it's a weird kitbash piece. Best of all is about half of his joints are super, super loose making him the Wobble King of South Jiggleston. It's better than just a "made up" Iron Armor, but not by a whole lot.
Hasbro - Marvel Friends: Spider-Man & Rhino
I've a mad passion for Rhino. I'm not sure exactly why, but I do, and thus when I saw this set newly released, well it had to be mine. Spider-Man is another yawnable Spidey figure. The only things to note about him is a (probable) result of the style gives him a "Thumbs Up" hand and a "Satan Rocks" hand, which is cute. Plus he has weird feet - on the underside is a standard peg hole but on either side of it (toe and heel wise) is tiny hole with a metal ring insert - no idea what those could possible be for. Rhino is a pretty standard entry in the line but I quite like his super angular armor. I do kinda of wish they had made him ¼" or ½" taller but this is fine. For some reason his costume's eyes are red and for some other reason than seems to really, really bother me... Rhino is cool and Spider-Man is fine, which is great for me as I don't have either yet but were I a Spidey collector I'd be right pissed that the only why to get a Spider Villain is to also get stuck with yet another red and blue Spider-Man.
Lego - Seasonal: Christmas Room
During last fall Lego was giving away two X-Mas themed sets in their stores and online with a minimum value purchase (i think it was $75 or $100) and the first of the two was this boy with a Christmas tree. I ended up finding a Lego Store selling off their excess stock at $10 each so I happily got one (though I really would have preferred the second set with Santa and a fireplace). At this point I probably have a million different Lego Christmas Trees and this one as similar as it is different, but I do very much like and appreciated the high volume of "ornaments" it has. There are also four "presents" which is always fun. The Sailing Ship painting is printed on its plate and the mini-fig is a boy version of their typical Mascot guy. All in all it's an okay set and nice build but it's nothing really special at all, unfortunately.
Mattel - Real Ghostbusters: Samhain & Janine Melnitz
Ooooooooooh Mattel. I just don't know what to do with you. My dislike of Mego-esque figures is more than well documented, but when it comes to properties I love, like Twilight Zone and Real Ghostbusters, the need for product outweighs the format. The idea of this set is great, and an excellent cap on the RGB line. However, it clearly has even more niche appeal than the already highly niche-appeal of the line's four Ghostbusters. And then, oh yes, AND THEN they have the sheer audacity to charge $60 for this? That's three (3) times more than the already over-priced standard figures. So, anyone who was interested, like myself, pretty much sat tight for four months and now you can get these on clearance at TRU for $20. For that price, yeah it's pretty cool. Samhain is a nice figure with a bendy-wire in the collar and tattered edges to his robe. He entirely cast in translucent orange, but mine has very loose/wobbly hips. Janine is a truly great new head on the standard female body with hands that, awesomely, can not hold anything, which is fantastic because in addition to her proton pack the set comes with all the accessories from the single carded figures, rendering those totally unspecial now. Thanks. At least repaint them, or better, don't include them and knock the price down. We also get a decent Slimer (with swivels at each shoulder) but he is pretty wildly under-sized. The "star" of the pack is a cardboard Firehouse packed in behind the figures. It's a pretty cool idea and looks to be a good back drop, though it threatens to be a shelf killer as it's top half will be nothing but dead space for you. This set would have been an amazing SDCC exclusive which I would have been fine paying $60+ for, but at retail (even as an exclusive) it's a spectacular failure.
NECA - Evil Dead 2: Deadite Ash
NECA keeps fandom alive by being the only company (with the possible exception of DST) to continue producing figures from old but beloved properties. This is a toy many of us never even thought to hope for but now is ours! It's basically just a variant of the other Ash in the line with a different head and accessories, but it's still a signature look and thus a fine justification for release. I also very much like the different degrees of sweat'n'grime on the shirts between the two figures showing some great continuity. This guy comes with the tape player from the film - an accessory so marvelously detailed and tooled it almost steals the glory of the figure. It's the first time I've really stopped to appreciate the fabrication of a piece - it's just so damn detailed and spot on! Plus we get the severed head of whats-her-name, with one of the coolest paint apps: light blue "dead zombie pupils!" Sadly, mine lacks those details as I had to choose between good Ash head paint or good Severed Head paint detail. Pretty much, if you're an Evil Dead fan or collector of Movie Maniacs in any of its incarnations this is worth owning.
NECA - Evil Dead 2: Farewell to Arms Ash
So from the neck down this thing is pretty great. A "just a guy" figure always comes down to the quality of the likeness and for me this is a good portrait, but not a great one. It's better than the McFarlane Ash or the first NECA Ash, but not as good as the S-Mart Ash the latter also did. I think it's lost in the paint, specifically in the eyes. Still though, what more could you ever want from a "no chainsaw" Ash? I'll mirror yo's points that I wish the severed Evil Hand was in a crouched "Addams Family Thing" pose and, really, it's practically a deal breaker that you have to struggle to just barely get the shotgun resting on the no-hand forearm. Still though, this is the centerpiece of the Evil Dead 2 collection as Signature Ash. Chainsaw-Arm Ash is awesome, but honestly not what I think of when I think of ED2. Here's hoping this does well enough to get a similar treatment to Army of Darkness so we can get articulated versions of not only that Chainsaw Ash but also Horse-Blanket and Chest-Armor Ash! Heck, they could even add some new armor pieces to those old Pirates of the Caribbean skeletons to make some awesome Deadite Soldiers!
NECA - Rocky: Rocky
Can you believe I had never seen Rocky before Christmas 2011, when I saw only to get up to speed on the toys? WELL BELIEVE IT - IT IS TRUTH UNDENIABLE!!! The pre-release photos and such really sold me on this figure and it is pretty good, but sadly not much more so than what we've come to expect from NECA. The shorts are a soft PVC over balljoints with thigh-swivels and the toes get a hinge joint which is great. But the chest balljoint, shoulder and elbows don't offer as wide a range of motion as I had expected sadly, and the wrists are only swivels. The likeness is remarkably good and does a fine job of capturing Young Stallone. I'm pretty happy with the figure, and was thinking of getting the Beat-Up "variant" to do the "Adrieeeeeene" pose but I don't think the articulation really warrants double dipping.
NECA - Rocky: Apollo Creed
He is, though a wholly separate sculpt, pretty identical to Rocky for all intents and purposes. I really admire their dedication to filmic accuracy on this line, but wish all the unique tooling carried over into their other lines as well. The likeness is another great example of NECA's dominance in the field - it looks just like young Carl "you can make a soup out of that" Weathers. I must confess that at the end of the day these are just "guys in trunks" with no real "thrill" beyond that (that's what I thought the articulation was going to provide) so I'm not too sure how long that'll hold my interest. However, how can one not buy a figure of Dolph Lundgren or Mr. T!? And the new heads but alternate trunk colors help justify getting more Rockies so I think the line will do fine, but it will be interesting to see if NECA continues it past these three series.