So we've spent a couple weeks looking at my haul from San Diego Comic Con 2013, now it's time to get to the GOOD STUFF - the exclusives! These are pretty much 80% of why I keep going and subjecting myself to the EXCEPTIONAL cost in time, money, patience, peace of mind and MONEY what is SDCC, but by gum... an addiction this ingrained is darn near impossible to kick. I had hoped an planned to write more "full reviews" of last year's exclusives, but never got around to it for being overwhelmed by the full volume of them all. If there is anything mentioned here you'd like a fuller take on, please let me know and I'll try my best to accommodate! But enough jibba jabba from ol' Flippa Dippa - let us commence... THE TOYS!!!
Bif Bang Pow - The Venture Bros.: "Naked, Bloody" Brock Samson
The figure is almost an entirely new sculpt, with only the head and possibly forearms re-used, BUT it's 100% new tooling. This is evident in that he's just a bit shorter than last year's Brock and the head is likewise just noticeably smaller. Since they went to that kind of trouble I REALLY wish they'd just sculpted him a new, snarling face head to really complete the berserker effect. In lieu of nudity they've carried over the black-censor-bar gag to the figure, but sadly it fails pretty miserably. The "bar" is just a short strip of black tape, one over the crotch and one over the butt. Not only do they fall off easily, since they're just tape they're pretty form-fitting so the gag is lost. Having the bars be "sculpted" pieces that are glued on would have been ideal. He also gets the same knife as before, but VERY sadly it's not bloody, thus it doesn't work too well with the figure.
Bridge Direct - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: "Flashback" Azog
He stands about 7" allowing him to tower over the other figures in the line and as is sculpted and painted excellently. His skin has a subtle texture that is highlighted excellently with the light gray drybrush over the gray plastic. The result is easily the best looking figure in the line so far. They did a good job of capturing his scars and the tanned faces on his loincloth. He comes with his iconic (bone?) mace and sword plus interchangeable left forearms - one "normal" and one with his awesome "hook hand". The hook is cast is firm enough plastic and sculpted wide enough it can grab characters by the neck and hold them up! The real star here, though, is his alternate right hand.... which proudly display dwarf King Thrain's severed head! As such this is a perfect Comic Con Exclusive and really is the centerpiece of my Hobbit collection. At $40 he's just over twice the price of a standard retail figure, which is damn steep considering he really only includes two unique pieces, though.
DC Collectibles - Blackest Night: Black Hand, Sinestro, Arkillo, Dex-Starr
The 4" Green Lantern line continues with this three, no... "four" pack - no, three-pack. Dex-Starr doesn't count! All three keep much in line with the previous releases and are quite good. Dex-Starr does appear to be the most articulated iteration of that ridiculous character to date, with six points. Arkillo is my favorite rendition yet, though he gets no accessory. Black Hand turned out to be such a nothing character and is painted in his blue rather than gray costume but at least he gets a weird translucent purple skull construct that looks cool. Then there is Sinestro... as a Green Lantern. He gets a gigantic sword, but it lacks the construct energy burst that fits over his hand as with the others in the line, but maybe that's because it only fits in his non-ringed hand (boo). I do like this line quite a bit but this is absolutely the most boring release yet.
DST - Lost in Space: Black & White Dr. Smith and B-9
Dr. Smith comes complete with three heads each with a different expression so you can "choose your own emotion" for the irascible semi-villain. He comes with a cool raygun, too, which I almost lost in the recycling before a friend rescued it (thus it's not pictured). B-9 gets a ton of new pieces, and he turned out pretty well. Of course we get the new torso piece, under which is tech-printing on the front and back of his torso, as well as a thin band wrapping around both legs. Instead of feet he gets the treads so familiar to this robot plus great new claws for hands. The head is a big honker that plugs onto the neck and even has a removable top dome so that they can paint his "brain!" Since the Robinsons, like Smith, just wore jumpsuits it would be very easy (read: cheap) for DST to get out at least the major players, and if they do that, then they could time it with a release of the Jupiter-2. Learn from the Munster's Koach - things sell better when there's a set to be had. Plus, Lost in Space offers some real '60s kookiness that could be A LOT of fun in Minimate form - Carrot Dr. Smith, anyone?
DST - Marvel: Deadpools Assemble
Oh man... I'm just too damned overwhelmed with this release... Look at all that stuff!!! I'm surprised they didn't sculpt a kitchen sink to include with this set! I'm not to familiar with the comics so I'm none too sure as to if Deadpool really did appear anywhere in these outfits though I do know that the Phonics Killer Iron Armor version was just a made-up thing by DST. Though that has proved to be a somewhat controversial choice on their part I think it worked out quite well, personally. Plus, inside the armor is my favorite thing in the set - "X-Men Deadpool," a very fun looking 'mate! This set is really just an awesome way to show the power of repaints and I really like how everything turned out. It shows a great attention to detail and a real sense of fun (for instance Cap-pool's mask is removable to give you a Hamburger Head Deadpool). I highly recommend this set.
DST - Marvel: Wolverine Saga
It's done on the cheap but does have some good fun to it, making it well worth your while. It's kind of annoying that Logan-san's sleeves point sideways but overall it works well enough. Ultimate Wolverine is a nice re-visit to one of the very first Minimates ever released though more detailed paint and sculpt don't solve the blandness of the costume. Symbiote Wolverine is a cool, unique twist on a character we have too many of. But the real star here is Space Suit Wolverine. Based on the old ToyBiz figure this is an INGENIOUS repaint of the Mark IV Iron Man armor with not only a new helmet, but a new cowl that fits inside the helmet too! There's pieces to make extra Wolverines but 1) the hands are too loose and keep falling out, plus 2) who wouldn't want them as is!? Oddly this set doesn't include stands, unlike every other set, but its real downfall is that color palette - it's dominated by black and yellow making the figures feel repetitive and boring.
DST - Minimates: Display Stands
Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! I've been waiting 11 years for this!!! DST spent 2012 perfecting a proper stand for Minimates and finally those stands are released in bags for all our past 'mates - HUZZAH! There are three different options - Black, Clear and Assorted. Both of the "basic" packs include TWENTY-FOUR (24) STANDS!!! The Assorted pack is a kind of "best of" from their various sculpted bases and in it you get 10 stands: 3 clear basic, 1 hover, 1 one-foot swoosh, 1 two-foot swoosh, 1 waist hover/jump, 1 translucent orange rocket blast, 1 translucent yellow fire trail, 1 translucent blue flash. Really it's only 9 stands since the torso-jump requires one of the basic ones, but who's counting? At only $4 apiece, all three types of stand-bags are WELL worth your money - indeed I got four of each!
DST - View Askew-niverse: Black & White Jay and Silent Bob
This set also served as the announcement of the license, which was a fun way to handle that reveal. The figures are quite nice. Both had basic bodies with new jacket/torso and hair/hat sculpts and Silent Bob even gets a new hand with a cigarette. The paint is pretty good, but I have to confess I'm generally never that interested in "black and white" figures so it is a little bland to my tastes. This is a neat set that really succeeds due to my nostalgia. It's funny to think back to Kevin Smith's heyday and realize just how much the world/nerdery has shifted and changed in the past two decades. I honestly can't imagine much else from this set of View Askew licenses I'll pick up (Kevin Smith seems wildly passe these days) but there will always be a place in my collection for the guys from Clerks (and probably Dogma).
DST - Walking Dead: Hershel's Farm Boxset
The juggernaut what is Walking Dead keeps plowing through my collection with this four pack. As far as I'm concerned it's two more "okay" generic zombies, an old guy and "superhero Rick." Hershel's one of those characters that never really had a "thing" that made him visually stand out (for instance Dale's bucket hat) so it's hard to really make him translate but at least the 'mate turned out well - it has a remarkably excellent plaid pattern printed on the shirt. Rick is almost comically badass here. I don't really recall the cape/poncho but it does look neat. His belt can hold both his pistol and his axe, but the latter is weird though - the head is big and the handle is short and narrow enough it's a bit tricky to keep it in his hand. This a decent set but I feel it's more for the completists out there than for anyone else.
Funko - Wacky Wobblers: Skeletor
My first run-in with Funko was one with a "metallic colors" repaint so it feels somewhat like I've come full circle. There were plenty of their exclusives this year that were appealing to me but none strong enough to make it worth facing their killer line. Fortunately though, when I did finally swing by on Sunday there were a couple of this guy left behind which was great since he was at the top of my list. The sculpt is good and it has a nice "retro" vibe to it. The head bobbles easily, which is annoying to ME, but if bobbles are your thing
it must 2005 it might be more endearing to you. The real reason to get excited about him is that which make him exclusive - sweet, sweet metallic paint! What can I say? I'm a sucker for shiny things and this hits it on all levels. With only 480 pieces made, I'm pretty shocked he was a left-over, but I guess that goes to show you how dead the Bobble-Head market is... move over Beanie Babies.
Gentle Giant - Marvel: Galactus
This guy just doesn't photograph well. For whatever reasons his colors are duller and his proportions are more off in every photo I've seen and taken of him than they appear in real life. For instance, the topside of his gloves are bright pink! I like that color choice though, it helps him make feel more "Silver Age." This bust does suffer from Gentle Giant's general malaise that seems to plague its output, particularly the stuff from Marvel: the sculpt is sleek and texture-less, the proportions are slightly off (torso seem too wide and head too small), and the costume feels like an odd riff on the Marvel Legends design. I wish they'd either gone full retro like the Bowen Designs bust or full modern like the stuff Sideshow has done with him. He also comes with the Silver Surfer swooshing around him - a neat addition that really helps this piece come to life, but it's not as impressive in person, sadly. The swoosh is two pieces of clear plastic that connect with a big plug and have pegs that fit into the base and arm. He comes with NO instructions so it took me awhile to figure out exactly what I was meant to do, but here you see the end result. This is a good bust, better than I expected and than he looks but it's still not great and I yet prefer the Bowen and Sideshow ones to this.
Gentle Giant - Marvel: Spider-Ham
I have absolutely no knowledge of this character other than that he exists. I thought I heard not too long ago that he's been fan requested for a long time but that Marvel refuses to allow merchandise based on him. Well, whoever is in charge (Quesada? Falcon?) must be easing up finally (we're even getting more Minimate Zombies!!!) cause this was a "secret" last minute announcement for the Con. At 500 pieces and $45 I decided it was too novel to pass up (though not so much as the impossible-to-get Squirrel-pool from a year or two ago, whose success this was no doubt trying to repeat [really, they should have done Frog-Thor this year and Spider-Ham next year to capitalize on the movie releases]). The sculpt and pose are pretty good and the paint is surprisingly great! Surprising because it's more detailed and subtle than I'd anticipated with some excellent shadowing on the suit and particularly the eyes. He's a little guy, just over four and a half inches tall, but he is nothing if not fun and unique.
Gentle Giant - Star Wars: "Magnitude" Admiral Ackbar
This was my Absolute, Number 1, Must-Have exclusive for this year, and really the only one I was especially excited about. The low production run of only 500 made me very worried and the high price of $175 was obscene, but what could I do? I love Victoriana and I love Ackbar! I would have preferred him sans AWFUL ironic-mustache, but I am painfully aware of the constant need to cater to the lowest common denominator in pop culture. To complete the "upper crust" tone of the piece comes in a wooden box, which no doubt is what doubled the price of this thing. I'm (clearly) split on this piece. I think it is a PERFECT example of a good Comic Con exclusive and as a bust it turned our smashingly! BUT, it's easily $75 too much, and more like half its total price in value, with most of that no doubt being a result of unimpressive "high quality" packaging which has no bearing on the piece when it's displayed. Had they done normal packaging and pricing this would have been one the highlights of the con, but as is even with a very low production run it didn't sell-through and was mainly only ever discussed as "I'd get it, but not at that price."
Gentle Giant - Star Wars: Deluxe Boba Fett
If the idea was to bring this popular character back for those without the original ESB one then why make him an exclusive? And, at 2500 pieces he's one of the more higher run busts Gentle Giant has released of late. Plus, with his "collectible packaging" (an olive gray tin with the bantha skull logo on top in reflective red) there's yet another pointless up-charge because who SERIOUSLY displays the BOXES for their mini-busts (and if they do, it's to show the photos of the product, which this lacks). And, to add lackluster to disappointment, this is called a "Deluxe" bust but that entails is only a balljointed helmet and two interchangeable left arms... My, what a wonderful breadth of pose options... The alternate left arm (pictured above) is a nice touch but feels a little unnatural when paired with the fixed pose of the right. The arms attach via strong magnets, which is a nice innovation, but sadly that's pretty much the best thing about this release.
Gentle Giant - Star Wars: McQuarrie Concept C-3P0
I was surprised and pleased to see this one announced. I'm a huge fan of "the Star Wars that never was" plus Ralph McQuarrie's art so the continuing McQuarrie themed subset of SDCC exclusives is a personal favorite. This is a nice sculpt and I like that they included two different head sculpts, once again attached by a pretty strong magnet. The two heads are frightfully similar but show a fantastic attention to detail as McQuarrie's early design evolved a bit. Plus, the gold hue is a very welcome change to the last three years of white and gray busts. Sadly, though, this does have one glaring fault, and that's that there is no McQuarrie R2 to go with him. Despite having complained about price earlier, this is one where I would have happily paid the higher price if an R2 bust was included. Sadly, the line will feel incomplete without him now and I can't really imagine a fulfilling way of getting him out in the future. Regardless this is a fine entry in the line, and now let us hope and pray and hope and hope and hope and pray that next up is "Starkiller" - the purple-shirted, diving-masked Jedi fighting Vader in the single greatest image in all of Star Wars!