Wow... Louisville, Kentucky... who knew!? I was recently there for business ("My business... IS DONE!!!") and spent my limited free time on the hunt, and boy did it pay off. First stop was a K-Mart which not only had the exclusive Scanning Crew sets that I'd totally forgot about but 4" Star Wars Black was half off, and they had the newest series! Then it was over to a Meijer in hopes of their ecxlusive Lego Imperial Shuttle polybag only to find a second polybag and Imaginext blind bag series 2 and Playmobil Fi?ures Series 5!!! So of course I had to go close a second Meijer trying to complete those sets and finally I ended up at a Toys R Us that, thanks to an "additional savings" sale had Mez-Itz and Minimates too cheap to pass up. Woohoo! High fives to the great city of Louisville and to last minute repacking to fit all this junk in my luggage! Now... Let's take a look!
DST: The Wolverine - Wolverine (Suit) & Black Clan Ninja
I didn't see The Wolverine so it was fairly easy to pass on these Minimates initially. I understand that the film is somewhere between "better than the first one" and "good," but lacked any of the real comic-book appeal of such films looking like a fairly generic ninja action movie. The only thing that really stood out was Logan in the all black suit - that just looks plain cool! There is just something unique and cool about Logan in that outfit, and an all-black, long-coated suit with claws. Also included is generi-ninja. You can never have enough army-builders so he's a welcome addition and features a new torso cover with sword sheath and has two little add-on cuffs at the wrists. He comes with a katana and The Wolverine gets un-snikt-ed hands. It's a simple set, and honestly borders a bit on bland with all the black, but it had two pretty neat figures which pretty much seems to be the best set of the full series.
DST: The Wolverine - Wolverine (Yukon) & Ninja Yukio
Oh sweet... another homeless Logan. What diversity they offer the character... The figure is good enough and I was mildly surprised and pleased to find that he has torso paint under the hoodie/coat torso cover. Packed in is "token kickass Japanese chick" Yukio. She's what makes this Toys R Us exclusive set exclusive by appearing in her ninja blacks. She get shin-covering pieces and a skirt to presumably set her apart from the other ninjas. She also gets the pretty annoying new forearms seen in the "Wolverine Saga" boxset which not only have the sleeves sculpted on but they point in towards the waist so they only look natural with the arms straight out to the sides. Why they did that rather that use the existing "sleeve" add-on piece is beyond me.
Hasbro: Star Wars - Luke Skywalker (Ceremony)
The revelation of this figure met with a resounding "really?" from most folks. Now, I love this costume, it's easily my favorite in all of Star Wars, but even I felt like it was overkill so I was surprised to find this was only the third version of it and it's been seven years since the previous! From the waist up this figure is 100% new and the sculpt is pretty great. From the waist down it's the same as the previous which means T-crotch, balljointed knees and nothing else. He gets his little Leia-like blaster from the promo photos, a lightsaber hilt, ignited lightsaber and, of course, the Rebellion's Yavinian Award for Most Improbable Mass-Murderer. His left hand is in an odd half-bent two-finger pose. Like... mid-taxi-hailing or blessing someone pose. I like the headsculpt but it's sadly not a great likeness but the most annoying thing here is that the jacket piece is slightly lighter in color than the arms, just enough to be noticeable (and the whole jacket is a duller yellow than it should be). All in all it's pretty good though unexciting figure.
Hasbro: Star Wars - Merumeru
The last Episode III figure I'll ever need to buy. I have no special place in my heart for Wookies, particularly the offensive-to-classic-Star Wars ones from Ep. III but this guy is one of the most signature fighters on screen as he's the "jump on a log and signal the attack" dude from the trailer. Sadly, most Wookies are so generic there's precious little about this fella that leaps out and screams "new and unique." That said, he does have a nice sculpt with pretty good paint. The double-M gets his poking-stick, a neat looking blaster and a removable helmet that can barely stay on. I dig the figure both because he's better than he should be and also because I can feel like I am comfortably done with Episode III.
Hasbro: Star Wars - Clone Commander Neyo
Mermeru was supposed to be the last Ep. III figure I got, but this guy was only $4.90! There was something about the helmet and the weathered armor that just broke me. The brown drybrush/wash is some sort of intoxicating balance between heavy and subtle, and when mixed with the white armor, black undersuit and maroon accents it all just clicks. The cool looking helmet is removable to reveal a green tattoo down his left cheek. At first I thought is was an error or some kind of factory tracking number but it looks like there are a couple TIE fighters on there so maybe it's his "totally badass" kill list? The torso is all new with an interesting, detailed backpack. The balljointed shoulders are also excellently engineered - that somehow allow the armor to rotate into the socket while never making the sculpt look unnatural. A blaster is also included for recreating sudden, arbitrary genocide.
Hasbro: Star Wars - Vizam
Skiff Guards!!! I really like Cantina Aliens but I love Skiff Guards (probably because they've gotten so little attention over the years) so I'm always happy to add to the ranks. I, of course, know this character as Nikto based on his inclusion in the old "Klaatu Barada Nikto" Cinema Scene three-pack. Those were relatively solid figures so it is a little bit annoying this get one of those guys rather than a new character or one that sorely needs updating (Yakface). Vizam gets a Jabba Blaster (boy howdy do I love those little bits under the front of the barrel! Somehow they are both very cool and iconic to the sequence) and a (too easily) removable helmet/hat. He also gets a pretty shocking accesseory - a deck cannon from Jabba's Sail Barge! The arm has a clip for a railing (maybe it fits on the skiff?) and connects to the gun with a ball-and-socket joint for a decent amount of posing. That joint is a little limited and the handles are too close together to easily get him to hold both but still it's pretty damn cool that it's been included!
Hasbro: Star War - Imperial Scanning Crew
I totally forgot about these sets until I saw them at K-Mart! There is a second set with two different Imperials (one gray, one black) and a repaint of the previously released bit of Scanner so I opted to sit that one out. In fact, things worked out quite well as this set is quite superior. It comes with the second/top/unreleased/new half of the scanner which looks pretty great. The top even pops off to reveal a nozzle molded with a bot tube that's too firm and too short to really do much with. Also inside is a little bit of removable silver tech. It's a great piece and I gotta dig out the other half now to combine them. We also get an Imperial Technician who is ostensibly the unreleased variant to the previous released carded figure what came with the bottom half of the scanner. But, the real kicker that makes him insanely cute & fun is revealed by the packaging... this is TK-421!!! That's right, the only Stormtrooper to ever get a name! This set was about $25 I believe which is a fair price considering where things are at now. Still a bit steep but it'd nice to get two great figures and a long lost accessory for the collection.
Hasbro: Star Wars - Stormtrooper
I only got this guy because he, too, was on sale. The paint is a little rough and there is something weird/off about the helmet (eyes are too small and far apart?) and while Stormtroopers are always welcome who needs one for for $10? He comes with the big, long rifle plus the new style of blaster with articulated stock to fold out the shoulder-rest. It's a fun feature and impressive detail but it does leave the muzzle too wide for the holster or the hand to grip. Articulation abounds with balljoints petty much everywhere, including the hips, which is nice. Oddly, the black body suit has stripey detailing for some reason making it look like muscles. Frankly I'm just none-too-impressed with this figure. For $5 he's fine filler but for $10, nothing-doing.
Lego: City - Cop'n'Robber Polybag
This one is awesome for two reasons - it's the first standard polybag to include two mini-figures and it tells a story! You get one build here, a generic police jet ski, which is actually more elaborate than it looks. It is a little too bland for me and I think it would have been better served by using red, orange or yellow translucent 1x1 bricks rather than blue. The cop gets a baseball cap, life vest and binoculars for burglar huntin'. The Robber is in prison-escapee garb and comes with a knit cap, an oar, a back-sack and two $100 bills. Giving him a basic crate as a vehicle is inspired! This is an absolutely phenomenal polybag and it's a shame that it's a Meijer exclusive since they're such a regional chain. The set cost $4.50, which is a pretty fair 50-cent upcharge considering what all you get. Perhaps part of the cost comes from the inclusion of only one extra brick (a trans blue 1x1 square).
Lego: Star Wars - Imperial Shuttle Polybag
I love me some polybags, especially when they are micro Star Wars ships, so this was a must have. Like the Cops'N'Robbers set above this guy cost $4.50 and was located in the mid-aisle Easter bins (which makes me think the upcharge was Miejer, not Lego). The build is pretty darn and includes more bricks and steps than you'd guess just by looking at it. My only "thing" is that the head looks a little off, probably because the hinge joint leaves a gap between the head and body. Otherwise it's pretty great and effective. One of the things I really like are that "eaves" bricks under the wings and the studs on top only allow a fixed and equal range of motion meaning that it's pretty easy to get the wings open and closed in accurate, consistent degrees (unlike many other toys of the shuttle). All around this is pretty much an excellent little build.
Mattel: Hot Wheels - Batmobile (Mattel 2000)
I have never had much love for Mattel's design for their first Batman toyline way back when they first got the DC license but, as the man once said, "I'll buy that for a dollar." It does make for a decent little diecast car that is served best by its simple yet effective color scheme. A silver under-body with translucent blue canopies and a fantastic metallic blue color for the body. It looks good enough, and is darn cheap, so what the hell... to the collection it has been added. Now I kinda feel like I've got to get one of every Batmobile they've made, and perhaps I'll do just that, should I ever find them at retail. I really do hate paying any scalper mark-up on these. It may only be $5, but that represents a 500% mark-up! Plus it only, and expressly, supports the main reason these are so hard to find in the first place!
Mattel: Imaginext - Blind Bag Series 2
Huzzah! Series 2 is finally out! This
wave series comes in a green package (though the insert inside still features Imaginext yellow) and oddly only includes 8 figures to Series 1's 10. It also seems to have less thematic variation between the figures, but at least the whole series skews cool! Caveman is a pretty fun figure which is an all new sculpt and has a great Sabretooth Tiger pelt which covers his unarticulated head. Artic Explorer is a little bland too me but his ice pick is cool and bearded head makes me think this is MacReady from The Thing. Cowboy is a cool figure that includes a lasso in sand-brown. I fairly impressed by how different he looks with and without coat, like Doc Holliday. Frankensten is the star of the series, but contrary his backpack-scalp doesn't fully cover his sadly unpainted brain. Jungle Explorer is a less-than-exciting addition but the snake/hat is cute and without he's very Crocodile Dundee-y. Bigfoot is a lot of fun, though I'm not crazy about it being a costume (but the winking face on the guy under the mask is cute). Glider Suit is certainly the least appealing of the series to me, but he's what we in the industry call "good enough."
Mattel: Imaginext - Skeleton Diver
Holy crap how awesome is this!? Meijer was having a "buy-one-get-one-half-off" sale so I did a little perusing and found this secret release from the Pirate theme (as in he's not pictured on any packaging I could find). I absolutely love everything about this set! He comes with a cool, huge, aged treasure trunk that launched a Cthulhu-ish octopus from the gold stores when the lid is pulled back. He also gets a big axe, a ball-and-chain, a hand drill, a pick-axe made from an old anchor and an awesome diving helmet! And then, then, there is the figure - wonderfully detailed in a beautiful teal with gold armor and teeth! He looks like a perfect sea-decayed skeleton but could also double for an Atlantean zombie or even a mummy or Aztec altar piece. Seriously, this set is just g-d amazing and the only reason I can't recommend it to you is because then I'd have more competition in trying to get extras.
Mattel: Imaginext - Wonder Woman & Superman
Thanks to the aforementioned sale at Meijer I finally bit the bullet and got this set. I'm tired as beans of New 52 Superman, having several already, but I need this "classic" costume Wonder Woman hence I was left debating. Supes is... the same. Wonder Woman is actually pretty great and this figure highlights the strong mix of colors in the old costume. She's a little too skinny, but these kiddie figures have never not played up sexist ideals so what are ya gonna do. She also gets an accessory, a lasso cast in gold plastic. She can loosely grip the rope but really the small loop is meant to be the handle. The large loop is big enough for a Imaginext figure to be entrapped within its truth-y confines (so no wonder it was re-used for the Cowboy above). Wonder Woman is excellent but Supes is boring and over-released, which is a shame.
Mezco: Mezitz - Dr Fate & Etrigan
The big sale at Toys R Us was enough to finally put these figures into "reasonable price range" (about $5 which is what they should have been in the first place, not $12). I really dig the aesthetic of "totally not Mighty Muggs" version of the Mez-Itz but these little 2" versions felt a bit... weak. Sculpturally these two figures are identical - same base universal body with a rubber cape that fits over the neck-peg and under the head. The head has a ball-in-socket joint and then there are swivels at the four limbs. It's the paint that really makes them unique and while it continues the great look of the larger Mez-Itz due to the size of these much of the more intricate details are gone. I'm a big Dr. Fate fan and really dig Etrigan so I'm pretty pleased with these two figures, especially as a pairing, though I will concede it's missing that extra "super cool" spark that makes similar things so fun.
Mezco: Mezitz - Flash & Captain Cold
Flash and his Rogues Gallery have never been particularly high on my list, though I will admit a growing interest in Captain Cold over the years. Like the other Mez-Itz above, these guys use the base bodies of the line with all uniqueness coming from very clean, nice paint. Captain Cold even comes with his Cold Ray gun. It's a bummer that they didn't include at least one accessory per figure because Flash could sure use a base to allow for running poses. As is there is no way to manipulate his various limbs and keep him standing. There aren't even pegholes in either foot so... there you go. This is a fun little line but I'm not at all surprised it's dead.
NECA: Robocop - 16 Bit Robocop
I got this guy because you never can tell which NECA figures will be the ones that will fly or linger and I certainly didn't want to miss out! He comes in a big box perfect themed to look like the old NES game boxes of yore and I do have to say they are pretty cool. This figures costs $25 while the previous versions of Robocop where about $18. Presumably it's a lower run and/or "premium" posturing, which I can understand, but while I like the figure I'm not really sure it's worth that price. He's cast of matte dark blue, then metallic blue and light blue highlights give him a very cool "painted light" quality and generally recreates some the load screens and/or interstitials from the old game. Sadly, though, like Heat Vision Dutch this paint is not carried over to the back of the figure (or even the forearms/hands and shins/feet). This version includes the spring-loaded thigh with removable gun which is new to me and just as annoying/frustrating as it seemed to be. I've found it remarkably hard to close the thigh with the rear panel popping off/out regularly and threatening to break the tiny plastic pegs and clips that are supposed to hold it in place. Likewise it's fairly tough to pop the gun out of the holster and then, of course, the whole look of the thing is just "close enough" rather than the high level of screen accuracy NECA is known for. I'd infinitely prefer a fully sculpted thigh. Still, though, despite the short failings I'm pretty pleased with the figure and happy to add him to the collection.
Playmobil: Fi?ures - Boys Series 5
I was so darn excited to find both sets of Fi?ures 5 since they've just released 6 in Europe and 5 has been nowhere near me. This is another strong series though it is a healthy mix of "okay," '"good," and "great." The Construction Worker is picture with a two tools on the insert but he actually gets a whole little baggy of, like, 5 or 6 - so that's darn cool. The Black/Green evil Tron-ish guy has a plain Klicky head and hair under the helmet, though they're entirely black with just to green "slits" paint on as eyes. The Fireman/Miner guy turned out so cool I got two and will probably get several more so that I can have a creepy little army of him. Both the blue Ninja and Knight turned out better than I expected but the golden Asian Warrior really impressed me once in hand; that's another I'll be battle building. The Viking is clear the most popular of the series and was the hardest to find and no wonder - he turned out damned awesome! The Astronaut, though, is the absolute rockstar of the series though and is a brilliant repaint of a deep sea diving suit from a couple years ago. I got two of him but probably need more.
Playmobil: Fi?ures - Girls Series 5
The Girls half of Series 5 is similar to the Boys one with a hodge podge of interesting-ness but it doesn't really have any real standouts. The yellow Fairy is a cool figure that ties into that theme's recent relaunch, but man am I 'over' the permanently back facing wings on those figures! The Archer is cool but still seems a little too modern/fantastical to really work in the Knights-proper theme. The mermaid is cool, all in my beloved metallic blue, though there does seem to be something missing from her. The Native American woman is pretty cool and I love that they are and are able to still use the same kachina doll that was introduced in the '70s. It's the Indian woman, though, with her head-basket that is the most unique and interesting figure in the assortment.
*I'm not making light of Terrorism, just expressing my exhilirating passion for that toy in a comically over-the-top manner. Please don't jihad us.