Aaaaand we're back. My apologies for about a two month break; things have been hectic in both the professional and personal areas of yon author's life. But let's "get real" here, for a moment: I can't help but suspect/admit that part of the delay has been due to a sense of burnout I've been feeling. Indeed, I've spent flight time watching movies rather than writing Spoils because I just couldn't muster the enthusiasm. As I write this, I reflect that an inherent part of "reviewing" is criticism and it's just not fun to bitch about this stuff. Sure there are some items where I have some kind of passionate (and/or hopefully constructive) criticism but then we get to weeks like this where... I mean DC Multiverse figures... it's just struggling to find different ways of saying "boy, how consistently disappointing can these figure be?" So what does this all mean? I'm not sure. I don't imagine I'll be stopping; maybe I'll go to something like "Spoils of the Month" and just focus and figures I actually have something to say about; or probably I'll just continue doing the same old, same old. I'm close enough to #150 that it makes sense to "stay the course" to that benchmark at least and spend the in-between thinking on if there is something to do with this column. Or maybe I'm just exhausted from a very busy Q3. Any thoughts, advice or interests on the future of Spoils, or even just my literary voice/endeavors, would be most welcome in the comments. With that train of thought effectively arrived at the station, let's get back to it with a big load of compulsory purchases that are, Spoilser alert, generally underwhelming.
Kid Robot - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: "Ooze Action" Raphael
My friend gave me this from out the the August Lootcrate box. It looks to be fairly identical to the blindbox figures Kid Robot is doing though this was on a blister card proclaiming this line to be "Ooze Action - Glow in the Dark series" which effectively just amounts to some GitD "ooze" on Raph's sais (which my initial reaction thought was "TMNT blood"). The figure is 2¾" tall and very simple but I do like the aesthetic of it, and articulation is equally simple with swivel joints only at the head and shoulders. All three joints are at an angle, due to the sculpt, but it's annoying with the arms because I feel there is precious little that can be done with them to show off the sais naturally.
Loyal Subjects - Transformers: Megatron
Another gift from my buddy, this comes from the July Lootcrate. I'm not into Transformers but I do like bad guys (and free toys) and this dude is all around much better than the Kid Robot Raph above. Megatron gets SIX points of articulation - swivel cuts at the neck, waist, shoulders and wrists - and they are just "right" for adding enough sense of poseability for the stylized nature of the figure. Even more impressive, although he's all gray he is 100% covered in paint. As such he looks and feels like a much higher quality item than the green-plastic Raph. This figure came in the much maligned Blind Box packaging, but I dig Megatron so it worked out well for me.
Mattel - DC Multiverse: Batman
I've read plenty of negativity towards this figure but I gotta say I'm pleased with. Given that it's Mattel, this is actually somewhat better than expected. The belt turned out great, painted yellow and even given some gold highlights plus I really dig the sort of faux pleather cape that sort of gives that leathery feel of the costume. The sculpt is reasonably good, fairly soft but again pretty good considering it's Mattel. I'm given to understand these were digitally sculpted by post-Four Horseman Chris Dahlberg and they certainly turned out alright. I've seen complaints about the head being articulated since the costumes neck famously wasn't, but it honestly doesn't bug me a whole lot (again - Mattel. They're making toys not collectibles, so my expectations are lowered). He also comes with a tiny grapple gun cast in very soft plastic.
Mattel - DC Multiverse: Batman Unmasked
And then there is this... 95% identical to Batman above, but now with an inexplicably unmasked Keaton head. I really like the '89 costume, so I'm glad they made it, but considering that they'll never do Joker and that they did do Catwoman and Penguin it's pretty crazy to me that they didn't do the Returns suit. Not only would that have made more sense with these characters he even ripped the mask off at the end meaning having an unmasked head atop the Batman body would make perfect sense! The sculpt of the head seems like it's decent enough but it is utterly ruined by ridiculous, widespread eyes. Looking closely it does appear that it's just the paint that's totally misaligned and is so on every figure we've seen photos of. Classic Mattel. Classic me... just throwing my $10 at them because it exists. That'll teach 'em...
Mattel - DC Multiverse: Catwoman
Woof... How is that a figure from 1992 is actually better than one from 2014? There is just something stiff and awkward about the proportions and posture here, but, again, it's the paint that ruins the figure. I mean... you're Mattel... you only do cash-grabs, what makes you think you can pull off detailed line work? The head is fairly wonky but also the worst offender because Selina is painted normal, lively Caucasian flesh tone... Pfeifer Catwoman is pale as heck, dude! Off, flipping, model! I also find that sliver of skin by the shoulder odd and distracting. I'm very surprised they didn't do an unmasked Catwoman, but maybe that'll come with a Returns Batman later? She comes with a whip, which is ALSO less-than the '92 original. It's pretty thick and stiff (ahem) here and thus fairly bad for posing. I'll also take this opportunity to point out the insanity of the articulation. The whole line has ball-hinge shoulders and hips with hinged elbows and knees but no ankle or, in most cases, wrist articulation. They do have thigh swivels, though, but NO bicep swivels... Without ankle articulation there is NO point to the thigh swivels and without bicep articulation the poses are VERY limited, especially since they have hand-based accessories! Classic "why bother doing it right when we can just arbitrarily eff it up" Mattel logic.
Mattel - DC Multiverse: Penguin
This is easily the best figure in the line. A great sculpt, wonderful likeness and pretty great face paint! He does come with an umbrella, awkwardly over sized and thus tough to keep held, plus the top hat is glued on... He has the same annoying articulation decisions mentioned above and likewise, though being the best figure of the line is ruined by one, dumb arbitrary decision - he's the same height as Batman! Whoops. Idiots. It's so frustrating. I really do like this figure, but Mattel make's it so hard to defend their product.
Mattel - DC Multiverse: Superman
If there is a lowlight to this line then this figure is it. It should be a highlight, and is certainly a welcome spot of color in this overwhelming black-toned series, but man oh man. That likeness is just off. To be fair it's a bit better in person than in photographs but it is by far the weakest in the line, especially frustrating since they could have just scaled down the reasonable head from their 12" figure. Equally annoying is that the S-shield is sculpted on!? Look, I love that effect and it's my vast preference for Superman figures but the Reeves suit is defined by it's form-fitted-ness and this is just a fundamental misunderstanding of what was on screen. It also seems 25-50% too large for the source material too.
Mattel - DC Multiverse: Zod
Well, the likeness is obviously just as weak as the Reeves, so I guess that's some form of filmic continuity. On the plus side, the costume trim in gloss black rather than the metallic red of the 12" figure (it's whats onscreen that counts) and he even comes with an accessory (that I've have zero affinity for - I wished they'd have used that tooling to give Zod a skirt rather than do "Kenner hips" for it). While the overall black look of the figure is boring he does manage to be the best figure in the series because instead of thigh swivel cuts he gets biceps swivels - yes, you can actually pose this guy plausibly! I have no idea why they decided to do this for the least appealing character in the series but maybe that's exactly why. And besides... it is a fruitless endeavor to understand why Mattel does what it does. No wonder Lego has surpassed them as the most successful toy company on the planet.
Mattel - Hot Wheels: Fig Rig & Let's Go
We all know that I've become a big sucker for these gimmicky Hot Wheels cars and especially for new color variants of the cars I already have. Thus, I was very surprised and excited to stumble upon these unknown-to-me new versions of the two Lego cars. Fig Rig is now in white with blue plastic inserts and looks better than I would guessed. Let's Go comes with a body cast in green plastic with a vac metalized engine and blue plastic handlebar. I remain pretty surprised and bummed by how few diecast parts this car has and by how relatively ineffective it is at it's gimmick, but I'm still pleased to have it. Long live these fun, one dollar variants!
Mattel - Imaginext: Pirate Crab Walker
Mattel pulled a big surprise on 'ol Rustin by sneaking out a relaunch of the Pirate Imaginext theme with a decidedly Steampunk vibe. This is an all new vehicle in the $16 range and it's fairly fun. Both of the Walker's arms are hinged to swing in and out. One has a poseable pincer and the other fires a shark-shaped missle. It has six legs all on hinge joints and the canopy flips forward to fit the Skeletion driver in there. I really dig his wrench-like weapon and especially the sloppily welded/riveted armor, though both have more of a post-Apocalypse vibe to them. He also comes with a weird lobster/crab thing which fits over a figure's head (I get the sense that this is a re-release from some previous line). The vehicle is "locked" into the package by two little plastic tabs which I've held on to as they can easily double as stands or risers for the thing. This is neat, to be sure, but to be honest I've become decreasingly enamored of it the more time I've spent with it.
Mattel - Imaginext: Pirate Dive Armor
Oh, heavens to betsy, YES! Firstly, big Diver Mech!!!! Secondly, Imaginext (Bioshock) Big Daddy!! Too cool. There is a big tank on this dude's back with a push button; push it and two wheels on either side of the tank spin, moving the arms connected to the shoulders in a cool Steam Engine effect while also rising the left arm. I'm not crazy about the arm-moving play feature, but I'll be darned if those spinning wheels aren't ridiculously fun! This comes with one accessory, a large drill, and the "helmet" opens forward so you can fit the pilot in. When seated his head lines up perfectly with the little porthole on the front of the "helmet" which is cool but also kind of weird since that leaves a LOT of empty space over his head (and the space is too small to leave him standing inside). The figure is surprisingly cool; a sort of diving suit wearing a dress vest! He's feels much more steampunk than the Explorer from Blind Bag Series 2 to me, too. I think I'm going to get a second one these to give the figure an uncowled head and to try to add some paint and lights to the Mech. This is a pretty cool, pretty fun set.
NECA - Robocop: Deluve Robocop with Jetpack
Oh man, this is another figure I've been waiting a looooong time for, and NECA has nailed it! Robocop 3 is not only pretty bad, it's also the one I've seen the most thanks to '90s HBO, and that was right in the midst of my Jetpack obsession, so it's been a favorite design for a while. In fact, I got the model kit from the movie just because there were no good Robocop toys back then and it was the ONLY way to get the jetpack. NECA has really done a great job on the sculpt of the Jetpack - I always imagined it'd require a retooled torso and glue but this sucker is fully removable and fits on very snugly (it is a bit tough to pop on due to the figure's head) and in extra trademark NECA coolness, the underside has a bunch of sculpted and painted wires. My only really complaint with it is that the 'arms' are cast in pretty soft plastic and just connect to the jetpack with a ball-in-socket joint so they feel like they'll rip apart every time I try to move them. In addition to the jetpack, Robocop comes with a big, giant gun I barely recall from the film (and whose two poseable kickstands seems like they're going to break off at any minute) and the totally ridiculous (fun) "assualt cannon" arm from the film. I'm really pleased they've done that cannon though it feels like it desperately needs some muzzle flash or fire effects that could be plugged in. But, overall, I have to say my favorite thing is the paint on Robocop himself - it recreates the film's look PERFECTLY, giving him a metallic blue sheen with a sense of iridescent purple. Silver will always be Robocop's true color but I'll be damned if this doesn't look really cool. There is a very good chance I'll end up getting a second one of these! (Oh, and for what it's worth he comes with the super frustrating spring-loaded thigh gun holster)
Playmates - TMNT Half Shell Heroes: Casey Jones & Metalhead
Playmates tries to stay afloat by milking TMNT for every cent by rolling out this new format that riffs on stuff Hasbro ran the course with years ago. Casey Jones looks, well I'll just say it, awful. This version really highlights how boring the modern design is, not to mention Casey should pretty much always be mask-on. Plus he has that dumb hockey stick sculpted into is hand... so, great. Conversely Metalhead turned out pretty cool looking and I wonder if this figure is more in proper show-scale (or is this a Golidlocks things where this guy is too small and the other too big). Just like the regular line these figures are under-articulated too. Swivel neck, T-crotch and balljointed shoulders. That seems good but the problem is that the arms are so sculpt-posed that it becomes really frustrating to find a good pose for the figures. They need at least wrist articulation, especially stupid ol' stick-handed Casey. And in many cases the arms are sculpted in such a way that the balljoint is kind of pointless.
Playmates - TMNT Half Shell Heroes: Kraang & Leatherneck
Absolutely the best two-pack in the series, here we get two cool looking characters executed well in the style. The Kraang could have used a more defined brain but I dig the mutagen canister (though, again, the arm is in desperate need of wrist articulation). Leatherneck is just a big hulking piece of Croc-y awesomeness. He's ended up wall-eyed in paint but the sculpt and bulk are wonderful.
Playmates - TMNT Half Shell Heroes: Shredder & Foot Ninja
Shredder seems surprisingly simplified considering the more sculpturally detailed figures shown above. The Foot is a ninja. Note the continued desperate need for wrist articulation on the figures.
Playmates - TMNT Half Shell Heroes: Splinter & April
Splinter turned out neat and really recalls the orignal '80s figure to me, which I more than appreciate. Though... look at that super awkward right hand - pretty much only works in one pose. And then... there's April... To be internet-y, "I just can't even."