This past weekend was one of Chicago's big comic conventions: C2E2 - and your friendly neighborhood Rustin was on-site to take in the sights and, of course, shop ever-so-slightly responsibly. So, join me on this trip down the booths of C2E2 2017!
DC Collectibles: DC Icons - Joker
I've been buying the of-interest DC Icons figures but must confess this is the first one I've actually opened and played with so far, and honestly... he's quite good! The sculpt is fantastic, especially his face and all the clean, tight details on it! The line overall seems to suffer from disproportionately long legs, and while Joker is not immune to this, both his lanky design and long coat help to keep them from being too distracting. The paint is also really clean and well done! Again, the face stands out as a real highlight but another impressive detail is that his overcoat doesn't just have his standard/tux coat sculpted at the front/opening, the tails are both sculpted AND painted (a darker purple) on the inside of the coat! I don't think I would have ever noticed if they weren't there, but the fact that they are is quite impressive. Joker comes with a tommy gun, which, aside from being the late '80s design (which I have the most affinity for), made this release so desirable for me; and it came out really good! He also gets a crowbar done in a very firm plastic - a pleasant reminder of the different legal requirements for mass and direct markets. He then gets three alternate hands, which seemed pretty awesome until I realized... they're all right hands? LAME!!! Particularly because of the tommy gun I expected he'd have an alternate "open" left hand to two-fist the gun, but no - DC hates us. This is an especially bizarre choice since they included extra accessories for him in the one accessory pack they did release, making it more necessary/desirable for him to be able to hold things with BOTH hands. But alas... we get a variety of grip-widths for the right hand, and a permanent fist for the left... awesome... But, back to the good - his articulation! Lots of it and it all moves very well, allowing for a pretty good range of poses. The arms are the real highlight for me because of the doublejointed elbows and swivel-hinge wrists, which work really well for subtle and realistic poses. But man... WHY a permanent fist for the left hand, DC!? This would probably be the best Joker figure ever released if not for that one annoying fact.
DST: Aliens Minimates - Ripley with Powerloader & Battle-Damanged Alien Warrior
FINALLY got around to picking up the Minimate Powerloader, and it's pretty great! The scale and sculpt are really nice. The "roll cage" pops off the front and there's a harness for a Minimate torso that unplugs from the seat to help hold the pilot secure. The legs are immobile and attach via two little pegs, which they can pop off much more easily than I'd prefer, but they fit Minimate legs perfectly and each foot has a peghole for a stand (though this thing is sturdy enough to not need them [but they do include two for it, just in case - nice!]). The arms are really cool - they have swivel wrists and hinged elbows allowing for some good poses, but coolest of all? They attach via standard Minimate balljoints, meaning they're fully interchangeable with Minimate arms - well played, DST!!! The only thing that's weird about the design is that the control joysticks come as separate accessories which Ripley just holds free-floating. I get the reasons why (attaching would limit articulation, etc) but it's still kinda weird. The set comes with the rig's most famous user - a battle-worn and weary Ellen Ripley! She appears to be the same as the one in the two-packs but with a more "scuffed up" face this time, which is a nice touch. We also get a Battle-Damaged Alien Warrior - nice for battle-building, though I'd prefer it non-bloody. We also get a facehugger accessory that fits onto Minimate heads as well as two closed eggs and one open egg. Honestly, that stuff all feels like filler... I suppose I'd rather have it than not, but I would have preferred something more "useful" or unique, like a sentry gun or those boxes or missiles they use the Powerloaders for at the beginning of the movie. I'm surprised by how much I like this Powerloader now that I finally have it in my hands, and I'm very tempted to get another, which then begs the question of who would drive it, the answer to that clearly being Bishop, but then that reminds me they still haven't released Bishop! Just the battle-damage version with the deluxe Queen (which I have to track down now, too!), so... what's up with that?
DST: Alien Minimates - Kane with Space Jockey
I'll never be able to afford (in money or space) the giant 7" scale NECA Space Jockey, so I'm quite happy that DST has made one for us! The sculpt is pretty nice and reasonably well Minimate-ized, and the Jockey himself is even done as a 'mate, complete with (sculpted) elbow articulation and 'mate proportions. EVEN cooler, yet? He looks to be in scale with the original 3" minimates!!! That is SO COOL to me! DST is so cautious to never use or even acknowledge the larger size 'mates, especially the 3" one, which hasn't seen the light of day since the LotR Sauron back in 2004 (which was back even before DST bought Art Asylum)! So not only is it an appropriate "use" of the larger size body, it's also a bit of a meta reference to Minimates' own ancient past, the same way the Jockey is an ancient corpse! Well played! But, back to the toys - the whole Space Jockey piece is a static sculpt, basically a display piece, which will go well with the spacesuit versions of Dallas, Lambert and Kane they'd released. The set comes with a Spacesuit Kane, in fact, with new and unique face deco and helmet. Toys R Us got "let's go check it out" Kane while here we get screaming "what was I thinking!?" Kane and a helmet with the facehugger burrowed in it. The helmet is pretty well done - it's a solid sculpted pieced (which fits over Kane's head) with a translucent visor fitting on over the facehugger - the effect is pretty good! We also get a removable facehugger to go over his head, should you so desire, and six eggs - 5 closed and one open. The eggs are pretty good, though I do wish they had been painted darker, or done in dark translucent plastic with a painted interior (they are hollow and open on the bottom). These are actually even lighter they the ones that came with the Powerloader. Toys R Us has an exclusive set with what appears to be a straight reissue of Spacesuit Dallas and the Space Jockey done entirely in black plastic with a dark, metallic blue drybrush effect. It's neat enough... but not accurate and certainly not as good as this 'direct market' version.
DST: Dr. Strange Minimates - Stephen Strange & Christine Palmer
Boy, civvies clothes, huh? This is one of those thankless Minimate two-packs that does some good story filling, but really lacks much of the "oompf" that makes toys fun. I mean, this is essentially a "fight about their relationship" two-pack, and what kid doesn't want to re-enact those scenes!? Both 'mates are quite good, but I'd be lying if I said either was all that remarkable. Both get alternate arms, though, which is a nice touch and a solid temptation for compulsives like me to get two sets, but... I think I'm good. Strange also gets the backpack from Amazing Spider-Man Peter Parker, and while I appreciate it, the strap (with its weird peg) is an awkward size and shape making it tough to work/pose with. They did the best with what they could here, and I certainly can't think of other characters or costumes I'd have done instead.
DST: Dr. Strange Minimates - Wong & Zealot
DST's booth was selling some of the recent Marvel Minimates so I was able to pick up both direct market exclusives sets from Doctor Strange so now I need to get the other two sets from Toys R Us to complete the collection! This is the, I believe, short-packed set, which is a bummer because it has Wong and a bad guy! Wong was good fun in the movie so I'm jazzed to get a figure of him. The figure is very simple but has good, clean paint and deco. The zealot is a welcome addition to build up Team Evil, and much like Wong she has good, clean paint and deco. This set is good for the characters, but... not good beyond that. Both costumes are dark purples and seem too similar to really pop out or compliment/accent each other... And then... where are the accessories? It feels like Wong at least needs a book or two or the Wand of Watoomb, if not those "spell hands" that come with Dr. Strange... And then how about a sword or staff or something for the Zealot? Or one of those portal bases that came with Blink/Magik/Nightcrawler to represent their little teleporting circles? Oh well. Still, worth getting for the characters!
DST: Ghostbusters Select - Quittin' Time Ray
Building that Rooftop, baby!!! A booth had this guy for $15, so I'm one piece closer to this mad, obscene, brilliant, crazy, massive diorama! I love Ray, and I love "casual" looks for characters with iconic outfits/uniforms, so I was pretty jazzed to see they were doing this, but... the execution is just kinda weird. First and foremost, it's weird that the torso is fully sculpted with the zipper down, especially as two pieces. It would have made more sense to have the jumpsuit be a soft rubber piece over the black-T-shirt torso... but... DST. Moreover, other than the unzipped mid and upper torso pieces this is exactly the same as the original Ray release... I just don't... I just don't get it... It's the same head, all the same accessories (though now with the little plastic connectors for the proton streams) and he's even packed wearing the proton pack (though I was able to easily remove it by pulling out a snug peg on one of the straps [thanks for not gluing these closed, DST!]). I mean, it's certainly better than that awful Slimed Venkman in Series 4, but this just seems like a wasted opportunity to make a more unique release by including some of Ray's occult books instead of the different hands, or sneaking in the colander helmet for Vinz Clortho instead of the proton pack. Heck, this is even one of those rare instances where I'd even argue that less is more, and simply just not including the extra hands, proton stream, or even proton pack, would have made this release feel more unique and interesting. But... I'm sure DST has their reasons. And, at the end of the day this does, at least, get us one chunk closer to the complete Rooftop - which is the main reason to be collecting the $10-more-expensive non-TRU versions of these figures! Oh, and speaking of the Rooftop piece... how the heck is it that assembly instructions are not included with these!? We the same old boring "please buy our stuff" insert but nothing regarding the rooftop or where to go to find the instructions.
Hasbro: Marvel Universe - Vulture
I love the Vulture, but boy oh boy is this an awful release! It uses the lanky old body, which actually makes sense here since that's pretty much what this cranky old bastard looks like. He gets a great, new furry collar and a pretty good new head. And theeeeen... there are the wings. At first glance they look giant and awesome! But then, you try to connect them, and... my god... "who was the marketing genius behind THIS idea," as Seinfeld is wont to say! The wings have little tabs about half way down, but those connect to the .... Biceps!? Which means about have the length of the wing juts out backward from the bicep. AND they barely stay in place!!! Just... man, it seems like a Mattel figure; that some grad student just looked at one paper and said "yeah, do this" before rushing out to Margarita Monday. It's bad, folks. The "connection" is so loose the wings fall out if they angled even close to down, and the tabs on them are so far forward the wings overlap in a big way behind the figure severely limiting poseability! Why, at the bare minimum, they did put the connection slot in the forearms is utterly beyond me. I mean, it worked out perfectly for 4" Darkhawk! It even seems like the silhouette of the wings was designed for that. I was excited to finally find this figure since I'm so into the character, but... man it's bad - avoid this figure at all costs!
Mattel: DC Multiverse - "The Dark Knight Returns" Batman
I passed on this guy MANY times, and even on sale, back when it was still on pegs since DCUC was dead and, certainly, they were never going to do any OTHER figures from Dark Knight Returns... but then they did the Batman repaint, Superman and Son of Bat for Walmart this past summer... AND THEN unveiled Robin, Mutant Leader, Armored Batman and Joker at SDCC, and man... I knew I had to get this one since it's the iconic outfit and a must-have for this mini-collection we're now getting. In essence, it's a Masters of the Universe Classics body with a couple new Batman parts, and voila: Frank Miller Batman! It's good for what it is, and certainly contains no surprises, short of the batarang accessory - a nice touch. I'm quite glad to finally finish off the collection with this guy.
NECA: Escape From New York - Snake Plissken
I'm really not much of a fan of this format of figure, but at this point it's pretty clear NECA won't make a proper Snake Plissken figure, so I jumped on this as my last chance at an affordable EfNY Snake for my collection. He's quite good for what he is. The parts that are sculpted are definitely up to the high level we've come to expect from NECA, and the paint is pretty good (except the hairline). The clothing is good enough. I simply don't like softgoods on toys, they never really work, but NECA is probably the closest to making them reasonably proportionate and functional. The one plus about going with cloth, is that Snake can reveal his titular belly tattoo to the world. It's a cool touch, but the dye of the shirt has stained the plastic of the figure; but we can just pretend Plissken hasn't bathed in a while. He gets his two signature guns from the movie, along with his countdown-to-death watch (complete with printed numbers! [22:59:58]), a little throwing star, an alternate right hand to hold it and a little watch-y thing that you're probably mad at me about for not knowing what it is (it's been at least a decade since I last saw the movie, though). I get that this format is ultimately cheaper than cutting steel for a fully tooled figure, but Snake is perfect for the NECA mode of releasing variations - Give me Snake with the coat on and the coat off, each with a different head and a couple different accessories and I'll happily "rebuy the same figure!" Heck, you could also essentially reuse most of the tooling to do EfLA releases too! But... Falk is gonna do what Falk is gonna do. It's a good figure, if you can get into the Mego approach at all.
NECA: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre - Leatherface
Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the movie that made me a Horror fan, so I've always had a pretty soft spot for toys from it. I'd originally passed on this cause I'm just not into the format and they released the much cooler Ultimate Leatherface figure at about the same time, but Randy just teased the Hitchhiker from the first movie is coming in this format, so I felt I needed this guy to go with that upcoming figure. This uses the standard NECA "retro" body (which REALLY needs rocker joints on the ankles to allow for better/more poses) and they tried to bulk him up with some padding on the torso, but Gunnar Hansen this is not, unfortunately. I also assumed they just reused the same sculpts for the hands, head and accessories from the Ultimate figure, but, incredibly these are pulled from the original Cult Classics figure released in, like, 2006 or 7! This head may be new, it's awfully "scratchy" looking, but the chainsaw and hammer are the same and the head looks pretty similar. Man, I just don't get that choice. What's especially frustrating, though, are that the hands are sculpted fully closed with just a basic, round shaft in them, so he can't really hold the hammer, and the chainsaw has to be disassembled, forced through the hands, then reassembled. I've been impressed with my previous purchases from this line/format from NECA... but this figure just isn't that good. I'd be tempted to return him if I'd got him from a store, but I did only get him to keep the Hitchhiker company on my shelf, so... well, here's hoping they actually are making and releasing that guy!
Super7: Street Fighter - Blanka (Player 2)
I'm pretty stoked that Super 7 got back the ReAction name and branding, they seem to "get it" more than Funko did, and this license is a good example. I've never been a big videogame player, but as a kid I would routinely get dragged into playing Street Fighter II with friends, and Blanka was my jam - He's like a Hulk/Monster! At C2E2 Super 7 had the new series of "Player 2" repaints so I felt compelled to pick up this little fella for the ol' Blanka collection. He's neat... but the sculpt does seem fairly soft and chunky for what I'd expect from an actual release "back in the day." But the bulkiness does give him a good heft. All of Super7's ReAction figures are $15, which frankly is pretty steep, especially for this "good enough" sculpt, but... I was at a convention and this a beloved character, so I went for it. I doubt I'd pick this up under "normal" conditions, though.
Super7: The Toxic Avenger - Toxie, The Toxic Avenger (Movie & Glow versions)
This is a perfect character for this retro format! We got a decent sculpt, five points of articulation and a mop accessory - wonderful! Super7 released this "movie colors" version and an animated colors version, the latter I desperately want but they were sold out by the time I got to the booth. It's weird that the "movie" version of the figure is shades of green since the character is pretty clearly shades of brown, so I'm not sure what happened there but here's hoping for a repaint in the future. C2E2 also got an "exclusive" figure with this glow-in-the-dark version of Toxie, too! He comes in bright and neon greens with GitD plastic for his skin. The mop is fully painted, which seems odd since having the mop head be GitD seems like a no-brainer, but... c'est la vie. Sadly, though, the strength of the glow isn't too strong. The card art is same for both figures; it's a nice bit of poster art and includes a cut-out Toxie mask on the back!
Super 7: The Worst - Glow Patrol
I gotta say... other than the original ReAction releases of the Kenner style Alien figures, The Worst is the best this Super7 has done yet. These are really fun designs and certainly lend themselves to a multitude of potentially cool repaints! It's also something relatively fresh and exciting that no one else is doing, and seems to be a perfect fit for where Super7 currently is in the world - one foot in production-run toys and one foot in art figures. Since I dig this whole line, and they had the new Glow in the Dark figures there at C2E2 I went ahead and bought the whole set (plus, I'm not at a point where I can really single out one figure I like the most). These are $15 a pop, so $90 down wasn't very exciting (and I'd be lying if I said I didn't half regret it), but this is a collection that I think will only increase in cool-ness the more color variations one has. Plus... GitD is just plain cool! Though, sadly, like GitD Toxie, these don't seem to have very strong glow strength.
Wild Bill's Olde Fashioned Soda Pop Co.: Souvenir Mug - C232 Edition
It was kinda surreal seeing so many people walking around with open-top mugs at C2E2, and as a bit of a souvenir junkie I was getting awfully tempted by the unique mugs. I opted to go for this one, despite the very long line, because the metal mug just seemed cooler (and I still can't wrap my head around beer being sold on the convention floor!). It's a pretty darn sturdy mug and holds a lot of soda! On one side is the Wild Bill's logo engraved in to the metal, along with the year (2017) and on the opposite side is a vinyl C2E2 sticker. The fact that it had the C2E2 logo on it was the deciding factor that made me get this but it is kind of a bummer it's just a sticker and not etched or engraved. The mug cost $25 but that came with free refills all day long, so that was a fairly reasonable deal. Their soda was good, but I'm more of a cola guy than a ___-beer guy. Still, though, this is one of the most unique convention purchases I have. It was also surprisingly odd to be strolling about with a large, open container full of liquid like this at a convention. It certainly felt like I was avoiding spilling while in booths, but I wonder if many vendors did have folks spill...