Every once in a while work sends me somewhere awesome, and thus was the case in the beginning of March when I, for the first time, found myself in the fabled city of New York. It's one of the few cities in the world that really lives up to its reputation in media and surprisingly a bulk of "the sights" are all within about a one mile radius so it's a very manageable exploration. While I noted a very disappointing lack Gremlins (of new or any batch) however I did make it some very key Toy Meccas. F.A.O. Schwartz still exists, and it as appropriately elaborate (though no longer the majestic locale featured in Big or Home Alone 2). The Times Square Toys R Us is pretty cool ("[they]'ve got a T-Rex"!!!) but expect another 10% markup on TRU's new trend of 10-30% mark-ups. At any rate, it's a great place to visit and a better place to shop.
Disney - Vinylmation: Statue of Liberty Minnie Mouse
The Disney Store is one of the many chains with a "flagship" location at (or near) Times Square and, as would be a slight trend amongst these stores, they had some exclusive products. Unsurprisingly chief at Disney was Vinylmation, and this Minnie met all my criteria perfectly. While in NYC I decided to start a Statue of Liberty collection and this fits in perfectly. Though you know what you're getting she's still in a blind bag within a collectible tin. I really like the art and colors of the tin and the art deco styling of the figure makes it really stand out. She gets a "collectible" micro card of herself and, the rarest of all Vinylmation features, an accessory. The torch is a simplified/stylized look but I can't decide if the sculpt is generic enough that could be repurposed like the figures (ice cream cone?) or if it'll only ever be a torch. I like the idea of Vinylmation but this is only the third piece I've purchased as the $13 pricetag is ludicrous. That said, somehow this rang up at 50% off, so that may contribute to why I like it so very much.
DST - Marvel Minimates: Thing & Iron Man
While strolling about I stumbled upon the Times Square location (actually a block or two south) of Midtown Comics, a name in collectibles sales that is familiar to me, and thus I had to check it out. Fortunately they had an astounding selection of toys and I bought what only rarity could afford me, and all prices were SRP or slightly/reasonably over - a great place which I definitely recommend. This set is the only one of the new "popular character" series I got as I'm a dedicated FF collector and the Secret Wars era armor is my very favorite Iron Man. Thing is basically the same as the most recent release but with, I believe, a new face. The real star is Iron Man, though, duplicating the last release of this armor but now painted in flat red and, more importantly, yellow rather that metallic red and god. Iron Man is red and yellow, dammit - not gold! He comes with the standard Tony Stark Hair and yellow exhaust base accessories. While I'm thankful his second figure was someone I wouldn't hate having I wish they had packed him with someone it would be worth to have doubles off so I could feel better about buying more.
DST - Marvel Minimates: Thor & Stone Man
Fans, you know me. You know I'm a fan of "theory" and I put a fair share of time into my own "buying theory," which is to say the Why, Where, When and How of purchasing. It is, as such, that I always endeavor to buy all my Minimates from Toys R Us. The support of a major retailer is a vastly substantive lifeline for this, one of my most heartily beloved brands (hence you'll read me purchasing 'mates I don't particularly care for - the value of the sale to TRU/DST outweighs my personal preference of the piece). This strikes me as a "90s Thor." I don't know the mythos well but it seems very much to fit in that 10-15 years of "quick, redesign him so he's cool." The helmet/hair is a new piece and is interestingly "softer" in detail making it more reminiscent of the Battlestar Galactica era of Minimates (my favorite era) than of his contemporaries. A nice entry but not particularly one that tickles me throughout.
DST - Marvel Minimates: Thunderstrike & Stone Man
The Stone Man is the armybuilder of this series and Thunderstrike is the better of the two figures that come with them. Thunderstrike steps as far from Thor's classic design as possible while still being true to it (the secret seems to be black/blue torso with six silver dots and long blonde hair - who knew). It's fun to see a coat torso piece used as a vest, but more significant are his newly tooled pieces - new boots, hammer and even the hair is new. They could have easily relied on "it's stylized" and reused one the several Mjolnirs but I definitely appreciate the new tool, with is slightly different head and chain loop. The Stone Man is... well... what? They're possibly the least compelling character since Spymaster but suddenly all the new tooling for that recent Thing figure makes a lot more sense. They are almost entirely identical to Thing save for new forearms (which I'm sure we'll see on a future Thing), loincloth and head. They also get two, new (I believe) guns. Who knows... they'll go in the background but I'd still rather have two of armybuilders I've never heard of than two of a character that has no alternate look!
Funko - Universal Movie Monsters - Creature From The Black Lagoon
I never bought this guy because, well, I could never find him - but now, problem solved! He's in a sort of "super deformed" style and while a good, detailed sculpt with simple but good paint this figure just doesn't do much for me. The emphasis is on the head, and rather than embellishing on the look (like with Frankenstein) Funko rolls back and just... I don't know, it just doesn't work for me. Too simple, too round, too "guy in costume." It looks more like the Creature from The Creature Walks Among Us than the classic Gillman. Regardless, it is a unique and worthy addition to the CFTBL collection and I welcome it as such.
Funko - POP!: Maleficent
Ever since getting to mega Malificent at Comic Con last year I've been hunting for the standard release. I really, really like the sculpt - in fact I fully contend it is the best of the entire POP! range - and I think it'll be a stellar counterpoint to the large version I have. Where that one used shiny black and metallic colors this one features more screen-accurate pastels wrapped up in flat black. It's just... well perfect. Well, you know... conceptually perfect - it is a Funko product after all, so the paint is terrible. Especially at an SRP of $10. I mean come on - stylized figure like this rely heavily on good paint apps to work but virtually all POP! look terrible from anywhere closer that three feet away (that's one meter, ye metricized readers). Regardless, she is queen of the line and is well worth your owning!
Hasbro - Star Wars: Hoth Rebel
Toys R Us for the win! I thought I was just screwed on this series, like oh so many phantom series from Hasbro (LEARN HOW TO PACK A CASE!) but excellently TRU Times Square had the two figures I wanted most from. This guy is, to quote one of Dave Foley's characters in Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy "...just a guy." It's a new look though giving us something of a Middle Manager at Echo Base and alludes lovely to the vintage Hoth trooper. He comes with a blasters and goggles - watch out Snowtroopers! He's a nice and welcome addition, but for $10 is anything but an armybuilder.
Hasbro - Star Wars: Ponda Baba
Oh ho ho, I've been waitin' for dis!!! A figure of Ponda Baba so ultimate he comes with alternate hands for the different gloves used in the film which I had never cognitively noticed (but makes perfect since for why I always though Ben had loped off Lak Sivrak's arm as a kid). So... what to we get here - and awesome new sculpt with interchangeable right arms, interchangeable hairy and flipper hands, a blaster and a glass of milk (which, ironically, does not do Ponda Baba's body good here). Balljoints abound though the head does have a lot of range and the removable arm only gets a swivel at the elbow. This is, for all concerns, a perfect Ponda Baba figure - hence I got two. The only complaint I have is the peg on the severed arm! I understand why it's there but... it really should have gone on the upper arm or used a magnet or something. The severed arm is one of those 100% iconic shots in A New Hope and it's truly a shame we can't accurately duplicate it with employing our own devices.
Lego - Polybags: Statue of Liberty
Released just a few days before my arrival this set create a micro scale Statue of Liberty and is sold exclusively at NYC Lego Store at Rockefeller Center. I wish Lego would do more things like that, maybe not necessarily an exclusive per store but something special and always on hand at the signature locations (like Downtown Disneys) or for a whole region. I think this figure a lot more than I expected based on photos and while it does suffer from being a little too abstract (the "hat" and torch arm in particular). This base is great, though, and in retrospect I should have gotten and additional set to use the base for the Series 6 Liberty Mini-Fig. This is a great polybag set and a perfect souvenir/gift - if you get the chance, I highly recommend it.
Playmobil - Specials: Samurai
F.A.O. Schwartz has a sizeable Playmobil presence, including some of the more recent Specials which makes me a happy Rustin as though aren't too easy to come by. Chief among this series is the pretty cool Samurai! At first glance I thought he might be a bit of a kitbash using some of the old Dirtbike Rider gear but that is definitely not the case. He gets a new helmet, new torso armor, new skirt and I even think the hair might be new too! His legs come from the modern Knight style, with the skirt sculpted on, and his wrist guards are clever repaints of a familiar tool. Plus, he gets not one but two katanas! They are identical, and while I wish one had been he more accurate shorter length, I ain't complaining. I also very much hope this is a harbinger of things to come, like the Centurions that preceded the very cool Roman theme. Just think of all the cool masks they could do for these guys - they'd fit perfectly in the "beard notches" on the head and allow for some really fun battle scenes - Cowboys vs. Samurai!!!
Playmobil - Specials: Axe Knight
I'm fairly Knight-ed out, but this one has some appeal to it beyond the usual one-off Knights and so I bought in. The silver/yellow color ties him into the recent Lion theme, which is nice, and he has one of the few not-too-goofy helm crests. Plus the armor is neat and he has a leather sword sheath! The shield is weird though, the handle is just a vertical "J" so you have to turn the hand to get a natural looking position.
Playmobil - Specials: Indian Chief
At first I thought this was just some kind of re-release as he looks very familiar but he is in fact a new "character." The feathered club and feathered "hat" are hold overs from the "old days" but the cape is from the new Cavemen line and it looks great. The shield (a vintage sculpt) and torso get sufficiently detailed paint and this guys just makes for a stellar Chief, Medicine Man and/or Warrior. Especially with the relaunch of the Western theme this year (in Europe; next year in the US) this guy is fully worth owning.
Toys R Us - Plush: Statue of Liberty Geoffrey
So I wanted to get something "special" from the Toys R Us but sadly they only exclusive merchandise they had was a slew of plush Geoffrey the Giraffes, most of which were on sale. I narrowed in on the Statue of Liberty outfit but then had to choose between this, "Classic Geoffrey" and "Modern Geoffrey." While the latter is unique and identifiable (he has stars for spots) I have more of a connection to the Classic look, and thus the decision was made. It's a fine thing, but nothing terribly exciting. The dress has velcro in the back and is probably removable while the torch, book, and crown are sewn on.