This was a pretty solid week - scored the rather hard to find "Phoenix Five" booster Minimate set and the new Hobbit figures, which I fretted would be pretty rare too, plus M.U. Abomination. Add in some more fun stuff like new Lego seasonal poly's, my first dip into Matchbox cars and the much anticipated Grail-Haul of the Hot Wheels Enterprise and you have just a wonderful barrage of consumerism!
Bridge Direct - The Hobbit: Azog
I was pretty surprised and very disappointed when Bridge Direct finally let out that they'd slashed their Desolation of Smaug offerings, especially since the THREE FIGURE WAVE of 6-inch figures is one straight re-release, one all-new figure, and this guy - a semi-rerelease (though expected) of the SDCC exclusive. Since he is just a repack, sans two accessories, Azog has the same pluses and minuses as the previous figure. I really do like the sculpt and paint on this guy and love that his hook-hand can hold figures aloft by the neck. I wish his skirt was more textured and though it seems like this release has a bit more range of motion on the balljointed neck, the back of the head is still too low/thick to allow it to tilt back, which really robs him of some cool poses. Still though, this is easily the best figure Bridge has put out, plus he's a neat bad guy, so if you get one - make it Azog.
Bridge Direct - The Hobbit: Radagast
Radagast was more-or-less the only enjoyable thing about the first Hobbit film and I am quite happy (and relieved considering where this line is apparently headed) to get him in the 6" line! He comes with his staff and hat and while the staff seems a little oversized the hat fits on quite well and snug. The figure is pretty solid, though certainly a bit bland. It did call out the more hodge-podge nature of the character's costume which I didn't notice in the film - one long sleeve and one short, two different shoes - all great details for this wonderfully eccentric fellow. The head, though, is absolutely the highlight and provides us with perhaps the best likeness in the line and definitely the best facial paint job. The only "complaint" that I have about the figure is that the bird poop is just painted on rather than being sculpted/textured even though under the hat his hair is wound up into a bird's nest. Another good figure from Bridge Direct that further proves it's just an outright shame that the line is likely dead.
DST - Marvel Minimates: Phoenix Five Colossus & Phoenix Five Emma Frost
I hadn't seen this series in stores for over a month so I was starting to worry I was screwed but thank goodness my local TRU just got in a/new case and there was one of these left. Colossus' chest does have a print on it under the armor, so you have that option. Emma Frost comes with a pretty cool new cape piece that allows her to hover and is ringed in fire at the base. It connects via the wrists which is a sound concept but was honestly quite a hassle to get on. Also, the un-ending Minimate-Stand drama continues as both figures get stands but the pegs on each stand are too small for the feet and thus provide no stability. At least this is more of a solvable issue, via putty, etc. Though there is another big plus for the set, it comes with a bonus piece - a correctly colored Phoenix Armor shoulder piece for the "Phoenix Five" Cyclops from the previous boxset. I love and appreciate those "problem fixes" that DST works in from time to time. They're good people and this is a good set.
DST - Universal Movie Monsters: Hunchback of Notre Dame
Lon Chaney was a god of acting and it's always welcome to get product from one of his most moving and iconic roles. The figure turned out pretty well with very nice sculpting and more articulation than any Hunchback before him. He comes with his Fool-King crown, scepter and cape (an awesome sculpt that fits on nicely) plus a unique base to this exclusive. The base is unfortunately a little too small to comfortably fit his stance, particularly in its "recommended" width (based on the contours of his tunic). The likeness is pretty good, though there is an odd quality too it I can't quite put my finger on... something sort of "artful" to it, as though it's still a bit rough and clay-ish. It looks just like Chaney in the makeup though, so it is good and I do like it. Sadly though, the hair is sculpted a little too bulky in the back and the balljoint at the top of the neck doesn't have much range so he's basically permanently stuck looking down. He is a hunchback so one can't quite fault them however what's the point of all the articulation if he only look at the ground? Just kind of a bummer. However, this line took a nice step back in pricing so for an SRP of only $12.99 I can't much complain.
DST - Universal Movie Monsters: Mr. Hyde
This is easily the most "exciting" figure in this year's line-up because it's not only a character Sideshow hadn't done in their landmark line, it's entirely new to the world of collecting! Sadly, though, the design just isn't that great so as a toy it's not all that appealing. The sculpt is pretty good, with all of the articulation of the more recent releases from DST. He comes with a cape that fits on quite nicely, a top-hat that crazily doesn't fit on at all, and a cane that is thin enough that it's tricky to keep it held. The big plus here is a nice, hearty bit of rooftop with chimney as a base. I've never seen Abbot & Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde so I can't be sure but I assume that it's black and white so there was some license to the coloring and as such it would have been great if DST had done him with darker/dirtier skin and hair tones. I understand the need for consistency with the interchangeable parts with the Direct Market Select version, but the "normal" colors here detract from the potential monster-ish-ness and render the figure somewhat goofy.
DST - Univeral Movie Monsters: Mole Person
The only familiarity I have with Moleman is the figure Sideshow made back towards the end of their line and I can't imagine that there's much following for that guy beyond similar exposure. It's a decent figure, and is this series' TRU exclusive, with a nice base and plenty of articulation but I would remiss to not note the unimpressive paint. It's a fine entry in the line but is nothing exciting so it just feels like a "well... Sideshow did him so I guess we have to" figure. It would have been nice to see other interesting variations (like "Mask of the Red Death" Phantom of Opera or Glenn Strange/Bela Lugosi Frankenstein) or more iconic characters who have never gotten action figures (like Creature Walks Among Us Creature and/or ARDETH BEY (!!!)).
Hasbro - Marvel Universe: Abomination
Oh my god... I found a Hot New Figure!? The paint is less than stellar on this particular figure but I assume I'll never see him again, so I'll take it! Like most folks I do love a bulky figure, so I was right on board with this guy from the get go. He is just a repaint of the new Rhino figure but with a new head and feet. They're good, though the head feels a bit too large and certainly does have even less range of motion than Rhino (why didn't they just insert a swivel disk with a ball for the neck joint like their first, AWESOME, 4" Rhino figure!?). I would have really liked it, too, if they'd given him at least one new, open hand and it is frankly pretty weird to me this figure is naked. Still though, he's a fun addition and a significant character so quite a welcome addition to the ol' collection (if you can find him).
Lego - Seasonal: Christmas Scene
The winter polybag follows the trend and gives us a father and daughter decorating a Christmas tree. Geez, how many Lego Christmas Trees do I have at this point...? The presents are nice and have a little variety from previous releases for a welcome sense of freshness. I love the clever build for a ladder though it is pretty darn bulky. The mini-figs are nice too, but it's the train that steals the show. It's just an awesome micro build and looks fantastic. This is an $8 poly exclusive to Lego Stores and like it's seasonal predecessors it makes for a nice little display for the causal fan but I'd be lying if I said it wasn't hard for me to get excited for this one.
Lego - Seasonal: Santa's Sleigh
This is another $8 Lego Store exclusive and while it looked fairly good on the bag art I'm ultimately pretty disappointed by it. The presumable Elf has too many over-used pieces to be appealing and is just red-overload on this set while "Santa" is just a blank red body with the old wizard beard and a pirate cap. He would have been fine a decade ago but is downright bad by today's standards. Plus he uses a magic wand? The sleigh is decent enough, though it's too narrow to properly hold the mediocre presents. The only thing I've ended up liking about this set is the novel Reindeer build. It's a clever design and though more abstract than the rest of the set it's a great example of Lego "sculpting."
Mattel - Hot Wheels: U.S.S. Enterprise (Battle Damage)
The piece that launched this whole debaucherous slide down the slippery slope of Hot Wheels collecting is mine! Well, not quite - it is the new "Battle Damage" repaint, but I'll take it! The nacelles and their "wings" are plastic while the body and saucer are diecast. Paint is simple and sadly lacking, particularly on the nacelles (poor Bussard collectors) but this thing only cost a dollar, so it's not too bad. It comes with a micro version of the base design from the larger Hot Wheels Star Trek ships, so that's a cute bit of continuity. The peg/peghole is a loose fit, however, so they come apart easily though only while it's being handled. All in all this is just a great $1 toy, and I'd love to see them do more ships in this line/price point (though they'd also be impossible to find, most likely).
Mattel - Hot Weels: Bumper Around
What can I do... I'm just a man!? It's a Bumper Car! A metallic blue Bumper Car! That's just too neat/cool/fun to pass up. And that's the power, and danger, of Hot Wheels - fun stuff and only a dollar. I have seen a repaint of this guy in yellow, which isn't too appealing, but if they ended up doing one in the whole ROYGBIV wheel then that would just be an undeniably cool display!
Mattel - Matchbox: Deep Diver
Mattel owns Matchbox!?!? That's like if one company owned Coca Cola and Pepsi! Aren't they just cannibalizing their own sales? Mattel is nothing if not a numbers game so I guess it works out significantly profitable on some spreadsheet. I love submarines and especially the bright yellow scientific ones of my youth so when I saw this dude for an equally low $1 I had to have it. The bottom half is diecast metal while the top, yellow half and middle, translucent blue window sections are plastic. Despite having two arms and a propeller there is no articulation but that's fine by me since it's such a cool design. It's bigger than your average Hot Wheels car too, maybe 1:1.25 or 1:1.5, so that's fairly great too. This is a really cool little guy and I downright recommend it.