Well, thanks to the release of Captain America 2:
S.H.I.E.L.D. The Winter Soldier Target has been getting restock of the 6" figures, which means that against all odds I've been able to find and get everything but the so-elusive-I'm-not-even-convinced-she-exists Black Widow. I also finally dove into my March box from MattyCollector to find some all around great stuff (and boy it does kind of feel nice to just "buy as I want" rather than just get automatic dumps from them of stuff I don't want). So, keeps your arms and hands inside the improbable-at-best helicarrier!!!
Best Lock: Stargate - Deathglider
I passed this set in Target's Easter section and novelty plus curiosity broke me. Best Lock is one of the latest Lego impostors and ironically their product does not live up to their brand name (surprise). Bricks with only a one-stud connection pop off easily and bigger bricks with multiple studs don't really, well, "lock" tightly so I had to do lots of pressing down on the table and even a couple bite-downs. The final build is nice enough, though, and it does give me one of these fairly iconic ships to have in the collection. It comes with a Jaffa warrior complete with staff and removable helmet. The particularly neat thing is that this comes in a vinyl-like bag that has a re-sealable zip-top. That's actually a fantastic innovation for theses types of building sets!
Hasbro: Captain America 2 - Baron Zemo
I'm fairly amazed that I actually found the bad guys, considering the infinite wisdom of Hasbro's casepacks and distribution. Baron Zemo has always been a pretty memorable character thanks to his unique costume (I actually don't think I've ever read a story that included him) and this figure does a solid job of translating it. I'm not sure if this is "modern" Zemo or a Hasbro version elaboration of him, but I like it. He's got a neat belt with loincloth and shoulder-holsters (though the guns are sculpted on/non-removable). He also gets a new, over-sized sword (which fits in a loop on the belt) and a repaint of Madame Hydra's gun which features a leopard print on the handle (which just screams Pimp Daddy Destro). All that and a BAF arm I'll never be able to use since Black Widow is harder to find than 6" Boba Fett. This is not a great figure but it's definitely a good one.
Hasbro: Captain America 2 - Captain America, Stealth Suit
I really like this costume (despite the idea of a "stealth suit" that features a silver star and stripes and a big metal shield is laughable at best), and I just could not help myself from buying two. The pointing hand is phenomenal and really allows for an incredible amount of fun, badass poses. The flat palm is nice, presumably meant for salutes but invariably used for Heils, but I would have certainly preferred one the could hold the shield for throwing poses. He also gets two heads! One helmeted and one unmasked, I love that a lot except for they... don't have Chris Evan's likeness!? I can only awesome so because that is certainly not him. Instead of the much nicer wrist-clip/peg version they've used for Marvel Legends this shield gets a double strap (though the wrist strap is so tight you have to pop the hand off to get it on). I love accuracy but this is just silly - I'd infinitely prefer the other type of shield and a peghole on his back to this. Still though, the sculpt and articulation are excellent and this is a figure well worth having.
Hasbro: Captain America 2 - Red Skull
Cutely enough Nick Fury is repainted into the Red Skull. It works well and I'm just thrilled to finally have a 6" Red Skull in the collection. We'd seen this figure (neck down) a couple time before and this continues the same strengths and weaknesses of it. The biggest issue is that the shoulders which simply can not let the arms hang naturally to the sides. The Skull gets an excellent new head plus the Cosmic Cube! I do wish the Cube was clear rather than light blue to match the Cinematic Universe's Tesseract, but what can I do in the face of (moderate) synergy? Fortunately he gets a new grope-y left hand which can hold it well enough. He also gets one hand gun cast in red and a second space-age-y ray gun which is likewise fun. All around another very welcome addition to the roster.
Hasbro: Captain America 2 - Winter Soldier
I've always hated the Winter Soldier but the costume design from the movie is pretty excellent. This figure captures it quite well and manages to be simply a great looking figure to boot! Weirdly and sadly he only comes with with an alternate head and a goofy-as-hell comic book rifle. Why? Is Hasbro just mad at us? Why not just reuse the machine gun that has come with a ton of figures before, at least? The alternate head features mask-less Bucky but who knows if it looks like Sebastian Stan since it's got that ludicrous "well a raccoon mask would be ridiculous" eye shadow that's blessedly barely present in the film. But that's a-okay because the "James Franco Goblin"/"Gots to cover my precious face but not my head"/"paint-balling is so rad, the 90s will never die" masked head looks way cooler with this costume anyway. So there you have it, a great figure and three useless accessories.
Hasbro: Marvel Infinte Series - Grim Reaper
This guy is just the height of comic book villainy - I love it. A surprisingly cool looking costume and a giant scythe for a hand, what's not to love? I really like his head and his cloak-esque cape! It is, of course, a little tricky to get him to stand since this is Marvel Universe after all, but it fares better than others. The scythe is actually swivel-able, though it's tough to do since it's a rubber piece set in a plastic piece. Also, and unsurprisingly, the soft rubber of the scythe bends and warps very easily. The skull-and-crossbones logo looks great, and I like the split on the torso, but the printing presumably couldn't fill the deeply sculpted pecs so there is a weird, thick white dot in the skull's forehead. All in all this is another fun, classic character and a very welcome addition to the collection!
Hasbro: Marvel Infinite Series - Hyperion
I absolutely loved J.M.S.' Supreme MAX book and that sort of kicked me over into reading up on Squandron Supereme. That graphic novel/mini-series/whatever was a little goofy but it had some really great things in it, enough to make me ostensibly a "fan" so I was pretty jazzed when they announced this figure. He turned out pretty well, though he does suffer much of the slave-to-the-articulation issues of most Marvel Universe - oh, I'm sorry... "Marvel Infinte Series" figures. The biggest annoyance, though, is his cape which falls off with notable ease. Still though, he's a fun "first timer" to the collection and here's hoping we get a couple more folks to fill out the Squadron (oh man - DST should do a boxset or two of Minimates!).
Hasbro: Marvel Infinite Series - Wasp
I hadn't planned on getting this figure, but a) they actually had her and b) I was on a high from finding the other two figures. She is a pretty good figure of the character, though she's also a tough reminder of how rough this line is - she can barely stay standing. Her wings are effectively balljoints but they don't work super well and pop off easily. I had to use a knife to separate the soft plastic of the wings from the harder plastic of the swivel joint so that they'd actually work. She also includes a repaint of the micro wasp which may well be the same sculpt that's been in rotation since the ToyBiz days. It's a lovely inclusion but given the choice I'd sooner take a stand/base.
Hasbro: Marvel Universe - Nighthawk
Since Hyperion came out that makes it two Squadron members available which is enough for a "display" so I had to go track this down. Fortunately it didn't take too long. Unfortunately Target had him priced at $11.50. Woof. He's a good figure, again with all of the shortcomings of MU articulation, and has pretty nice paint too. He gets a new head, new cape and new fists. I'm pleased to have him, but this bout of MU purchases served to just remind me how frustrating these figures can be, much like classic ML figures, since they are so beholden to articulation. I love poseability a whole hell of a lot, but these are some wobbly ass toys, bro.
Mattel: DC Signature Collection - Aquaman
I always thought that this was about as goofy as Aquaman could ever look, but then Mattel made that insane "wave costume" Aquaman. Regardless, this is easily his second most iconic (and second longest-worn) costume so it's been a long time coming for DCUC and he turned out pretty darn great! The sculpting is fan-freakin'-tastic and I love that the hair is a callback to the awesome Total Justice figure. Artie C gets more new pieces than your average DCSC figure and in fact I think there's maybe only six parts that could come from a base body. The head is predictably limited in motion but, oddly, so is the ab-crunch. The biggest let-down, though, is that the hook is non-poseable and can't be twisted around. The head looks fantastic and I looooooove the legs, with the scaly sections, though the bronze-y wash on them is kind of sloppy. I do wish the legs had been greener though, but what are ya gonna do? I had debated long and hard about getting two, resolved on getting one, but when I saw he was only $20 immediately went back to two! One for the '90s Justice League and one for the Aquaman collection!
Mattel: MotUC - Hyrdon
Semi-related to my love of Aquaman, I have a massive love of all things submarinal so I've likewise been counting down the releases till we go to this guy. I think he's tops and fits in nicely with Top Gun (or whatever the hell his name is) and New Adventures He-Man. This is another stellar MotUC-ification of an old figure and he's a great blend of muscles and diving equipment. His backpack is removable, and its respirator tubes are actually on swivel joints to it can plug/unplug easily from the clear helmet, which is also removable. I didn't expect to love his head so much but I really, really do! It's a phenomenal Flash Gordon-y type affair that makes me kind of what to get a second for customizing. Finally, he gets a quadrant/gun type thing that is just bizarre. I really dig this figure, more than I expected, and he's a blessed reminder of what made MotUC so fun once upon a time.
Mattel: Total Heroes - Green Lantern
Hal turned out pretty well, though I will concede he's a tad boring as he's just a repaint of the base body. He comes with an incongruous, small seeming double-axe accessory cast in a nice translucent green, and it can't be held in his non-ring hand. I like the figure but he does have a notable flaw, and that's his shade of green. It's so very drab. Aquaman's shiny orange practically leaps off the pegs at you while this guy sort of just recedes back into them. I was also very annoyed to see that they put a little bit of Caucasian skin tone on the neck since I had hoped to double up on this figure and use the second body for the John Stewart head from MattyCollector. I guess it worked out okay, though, since Hal's head is very firmly mounted on him and can't be removed.
Mattel: Total Heroes - Sinestro
I love, love, love Sinestro Corps Sinestro so this was probably the second most exciting figure in the line for me, after Aquaman, and of course I had to have him. Plus I wanted to see if I could head swap him to the GL Corps body too - nope. His big translucent axe makes for a much better construct/accessory than Hal's wimpy little double axe nonsense, so that's nice. Sinestro, too, uses the Total Heroes base body with just a new head and new en-ring-ed left hand. His bright yellow really pops and looks fantastic... except for the application of it. He's cast in black and has the yellow painted on and, boy oh boy, are the edges a sliding scale of awful. This is the least awful of the five or so that I looked at but it's rough enough I debated about even getting him let alone opening him. Alas, my impatience won out. I really like the premise of the Total Heroes line but between the sinking QC here, dull/dark colors on most figures and Toys R Us' ever increasing price for them it's becoming tough to remain enthusiastic.
Mattel: Total Heroes Ultra - Green Lantern Corps
This set uses the basic body cast in a bright, semi-pearlescent green and it really looks stellar. There are variant parts to the body, chiefly interchangeable John Stewart, Tomar Re and Green Man heads plus he comes with three pairs of interchangeable hands (fists, grips, and flats). Since the range of articulation is somewhat limited there's not a whole lot you can do with the extra hands but they are certainly welcome! He also gets a bunch of constructs which are sadly none-too-impressive: they're cast in a matte green which looks kind of cheap; there is a big, long energy stalk which has two female ends, one for the figure's arm and one for the construct, which mean you have to use the stalk to use any of the three constructs. Plus... the stalk is a wobbly fit on the arm and the articulation is too loose to keep it lifted. Their heart is in the right place but this just doesn't work in execution. Despite the issues with the accessories, though the figure is fantastic and the alternate heads are equally great and the alternate hands are pretty good.
Mezco: Blues Brothers - Elwood
Elwood stands a whopping 11½" tall. He comes with five accessories (a mic, a mic-stand, sunglasses, harmonica and satchel) and nine points of articulation (neck, shoulders, wrists, waist and feet with a swivel at only his right elbow). To be honest... I like the idea of it but the final product is just odd. The big, angled shoulders are what really makes it weird. Likewise they went a little too gangly with his look. The likeness also seems pretty off, particularly without the glasses on (and I'm not too crazy about the extreme sideways-looking position of the pupils. All of the joints work pretty well and have a solid range, though it's basically impossible to get the mic or harmonica up to his mouth. The satchel is a rubber and split along the zipper so it works a lot like those old coin purse things, which is fun. Another substantive issue is that the hands are narrower than the accessories so it take some effort to jam the stuff in there and once you do there is paint scraping. Plus, he paint on the mic is very sticky (these figures are about a decade old, I think) which makes me nervous about it touching anything.
Mezco: Blues Brothers - Jake
Jake is about three inches shorter than his brother and has three fewer points of articulation, too (no ankle or elbow joints here). He comes with the same mic and stand as Elwood, though his stand has a shorter rod. He also gets removable sunglasses a pack of cigarettes and the ill-fasted cigarette lighter from the Blues-mobile. They're weird accessories, but then again what else could he have come with? It is a little odd that the hats aren't removable since they are separate pieces, but whatevs... The likeness is solid, and seems better without the glasses, but these figures are definitely far, far across the caricatured valley. Both brothers have their name tattoos represented on their fingers while Jake gets a ring on his left middle finger which I don't recall being in the film (though is certainly is there for the big concert). It does have a little bedazzler jewel on it, which is a nice touch. As a figure Jake certainly looks the better of the two but as a toy Elwood is definitely more appealing but neither is all that exceptional. As a Blues Brother fan, a toy collector, and with the novelty of these toys' obscurity I'm pleased to have them, but I am sad to report that I am squarely underwhelmed by them.