Well, it's the common-calendar year of Two-Thousand and Eighteen, and this week is the annual nexus of pop culture what is San Diego Comic-Con International, more colloquially known by the abbreviant: SDCC!!! To celebrate, lets take a jump back to a yester-con and look at my (mostly) non-exclusive purchases from SDCC 2015, since I've previously covered at least half of the 2015 exclusives I scored. Skip, skip, skip to m'lot of toy purchases, fellow nerds!
DC Collectibles - Arkham Origins: Box Set (Black Mask, Deathstroke, Joker, Batman)
I haven't much dug the character designs from the Arkham series of video games but the Origins game did hit on a fairly neat "real world" aesthetic. I particularly fell in love with Deathstroke but by the time I decided to get it he was un-find-able or over-priced, but fortunately DCD dropped this box set of the first series of figures. Black Mask is a pretty groovy design in a snappy white suit; it has the pin stripes sculpted in, which looks quite neat. He's got pretty limited articulation though but the paint is pretty good. We also get a Joker, which I wouldn't have purchased on its own but this costume is both kinda neat and a reasonably "proto" outfit for him. His head looks a bit more properly Joker-ish, versus the look in the other games, though it's still weirdly under-scaled. Batman is Batman. The real star here, though, is Deathstroke! Such a groovy tactical design with gorgeous coloring of metallic blue with orange highlights - all with silver dry-brushing for texture and aging! And his helmet is just a gorgeous design with some great angles and slopes. Really, I think it's this figure that basically made me fall in love with Deathstroke and start a character-specific collection!
DC Collectibles - Arkham Origins: Deadshot
Since I effectively had me an instant Arkham Origins collection, I went ahead and chased that beast a bit more and picked up this groovy take on Deadshot. It's sort of a perfect mix of feeling "real" and "comic book-y" with his winter coat and tactical gear. Articulation is good and the paint is fantastic, with a wash on the orange and tight line work on the head. It's cool and a fun addition to the boxset above and the Killer Croc I'd previous nabbed.
DC Collectibles - Arrow: Deathstroke
I've never seen an episode of Arrow and based on what I've heard (and how weak Flash ended up being) it's pretty clear I'm not missing anything - BUT they had Deathstroke on and DCD made a toy of him. It is pretty hard to screw him up, at least visually, so I was happy to find this figure. He's kind of similar to the Arkham Origins design, which is a reasonable "real world" take on the character, and fortunately doesn't look nearly as "TV budget" as many of the CW costumes. The signature helmet is neat, but not as dynamic as some other designs. Still though, he's cool and a welcome/necessary addition to my Deathstroke family.
DC Collectibles - Designer Series Greg Capullo: Mr. Freeze
I really like the Capullo series of Batman figures that DCD was doing, and this Freeze was somehow a whole in my collection, which is weird because he'd fit in to my Mr. Freeze collection as well, so I was relieved to grab him; buuuuuut... man this is a weak design. Why does he need a jar helmet if he can run around in a tank top? And that's just for starters with this goofy hipster malarkey. The figure is well executed though, with lots of well-functioning articulation, and the jar helmet is removable so his head can be posed. The exposed skin is well done as well, with a slightly translucent blue plastic and a slightly darker stain over it for depth! It's just a shame such a good figure is wasted on just a weak design.
DC Direct - Action Figures: Golden-Age Sandman
This score was a major coup for me! I've been sort of in love with this figure ever since I first saw it way back in the late 90s. A suit, overcoat, fedora, and a gas mask... SO COOL, especially when wrapped up in great, drab, noir-ish colors! Most people seemed to feel the same as this original version (they later repainted him with a new mask for a Golden Age version has always been tough to find and expensive when I did come across it, but this booth had him for, like, $15-20 and thus a significant grail came home with me! The sculpt is... not great (even at the time it was bizarrely stylized and proportioned which is likely why I didn't get him at the time [along with the high-for-the-time $20 SRP]) and is frankly the reason you're probably thinking I'm crazy for wanting this. It's so bulky and odd. The articulation is kind of weird too with V-crotch cuts below the hips, hinged knees and elbows, swivel waist, shoulders and neck. I'd bet this was like some of those other, early figures and was sculpted first then had articulation cut in after the fact. He comes with his sand gun, that has a little rubber hose that plugs in to his waist, and then the hat and gasmask are removable and he gets a pair of glasses to complete his "unmasked" appearance (which also isn't that great looking). It genuinely boggles my mind that NO ONE has made a figure of this outfit in the intervening years - it's such a GREAT look and it deserves a MUCH better figure than this. Still though, this guy has been a bit of a grail for me and stumbling on him for such a reasonable price is one of the most enjoyable SDCC purchases I've had in a looooooooooong time; it reminds me of "the good old days" when you could find older figures and/at good prices.
DST - Avengers Age of Ultron Minimates: Mark XLIII Iron Man & Age of Ultron Black Widow
Oh, Age of Ultron... what a misguided little endeavor you are. At least one benefit of Marvel cranking out 2-3 films a year is that we can quickly move on and forget about the misfires. Iron Man is a good 'mate, as usual, and I appreciate that he has minimal extra tooling so that he maintains the more streamlined look of the classic Minimate body. Black Widow is nice, too, and probably the best looking of all the Widow costumes/Minimates.
DST - Avengers Age of Ultron Minimates: Thor & Age of Ultron Captain America
Was Thor even in Age of Ultron? Oh, I guess that was the one where they just sidelined him out on a vision quest...? The Minimate is fine, but I wish they had come up with a better torso option, like on Iron Man, that reduced the sculpting and favored printing on the base body (since this guy looks bulky as heck). Cap is sexy as ever, adapting the groovy Winter Soldier costume to more classical Cap colors. I dig it!
DST - Avengers Age of Ultron Minimates: Hawkeye & Ultron
What do you do when you cast a flavor-of-the-movie breakout "star" in a characterless role and it turns out he's got a bit of an ego on him and publicly "disses" the film? Give him his own pronounced b-plot in an obvious form of appeasement, of course! While I'm clearly no fan of Hawkeye, I do appreciate that DST took a really nice, minimalist approach to this 'mate - again favoring print and paint over sculpt, but maintaining some key "blending" elements where necessary (shoulder pads to transition from his quiver piece). Ultron is a pretty gorgeous result of print and paint on the basic Minimate body, but I'd be lying if I said he was a bit bland. It would have been nice if they had made him a bit taller or used some of the sculpted shoulders to help boost his overall look.
DST - Avengers Age of Ultron Minimates: Winter Ops Hawkeye & Sub-Ultron (Blue)
Oh cool - another Hawkeye! I get that his cold-weather-gear is at least visually different enough from his standard gear, but still... who would ever have wanted this? And to think, we have this Hawkeye but NO Klaue from this film... oh well. Again, this is a really nice execution of the design and translation in to Minimate form. He comes with a "sub-Ultron" which is neat, but seems fairly counter intuitive as, 1., this outfit would be MUCH better paired with one of the snowy "Hydra Soldiers" from the second series of AoU Minimates and, 2., including "regular" Ultron with "regular" Hawkeye negates the point of having the battle-builder with this "limited" release in the direct-market case. Not to mention the fact that if I want an army of sub-Ultrons I'll also have to have an army of Winter Hawkeyes... ah, hell nah!
DST - Godzilla Minimates: Box Set 2 (Atomic Godzilla, Mechagodzilla, Hedorah, Jet Jaguar
One the weirdest licenses DST has picked up for Minimates is Godzilla, simply because the aesthetics of the kaiju and of the Minimate base body are so contrary. They did a decent job adapting the characters, but most of the figures are just like the Battle Beasts Minimates in that if you have to cast SO MUCH new tooling to cover up the base body (and not even use the standard head) then what's the point of even using the base body to begin with? Godzilla is a "repaint" of the figure from the first box set but now with translucent blue back fins (but the fins on the tail are still painted "bone" color which looks super weird; I wish they'd painted them blue to continue the look of the back fins) and nuclear "breath." Mecha Godzilla turned out pretty rad and I gotta say is probably my favorite 'mate from the entire line. I don't think I'd ever heard of Jet Jaguar before this set and I'm still not entirely clear on who this robot/Power Ranger dude is, but he IS a good, zany fit for the Minimate body. Hedorah (not Ghidorah) is a giant sludge monster, I guess, and appears as such here.
DST - Pulp Fiction Minimates: Jules & Vincent
I was kind of stunned with DST announced this two-pack as a Con exclusive... two popular characters in their signature looks! As an exclusive! Well they seemed to have made plenty, so that's good - and they probably picked some novelty/non-collector purchases too with this just being the two heavy hitters (I know I gifted a set to a friend), but it still would have been (or would be) nice to get a four-pack with these two and Brett and Marvin - that's the one key scene without a Minimate boxset from the flim. Both 'mates are really well done and they come with a bevy of accessories, including their guns, a soda cup and a hand holding what can only be a Big Kahuna burger. Not to mention THE briefcase and Jules' signature wallet. It's a great set and it works well with the whole Pulp Fiction collection or as a stand-alone.
DST - Star Trek Select: Lt. Worf
I was a genuinely big fan of the Star Trek Select line when DST first launched it - it's an ingenious and fresh take on a debatably played-put license - and the first two figures are inventive and fun! But then they followed those up with that bizarre-as-hell Picard figure that essentially scrapped everything that was good about the first series. Then they did this Worf, which at least brought back the fun of interchangeability. He gets two heads with his two different hairstyles but identical faces/expressions, six arms in different positions, and eight interchangeable hands. That's a hell of a lot of options, and they're neat, but they still seem to miss the point about what worked so well with Kirk and Spock - those alternates parts changed the overall pose of the figure and gave you dynamic diorama options, whereas here - basically you just get to pick what weapon he holds. Okay... cool? He comes with two (why?) batleths, a phaser-rifle and a phaser. He also gets the blandest base imaginable - an unidentifiable two-step set of stairs. So, once again, gone is the chance to recreate an iconic moment or cool diorama like with Kirk and Spock. Work is also packed with a weird sheet of cardboard that has a marbled background and a Klingon insignia on it - but there is no stand for it and no clips or anything on the stairs, so... it's just a thing. BUT, aside from all the weird choices made with this figure's design he is really well sculpted and the paint is generally clean and nice. As "statue" it's a good figure, but the design choices behind it are confusing and underwhelming, unfortunately.
Funko - Gremlins: Bandit Gremlin
One booth had almost all the Gremlins ReAction figures for cheap so I Carpe Diem-ed the chance to own them. This guy is one of the fun-est figures in the line thanks to his classic 80s ski mask (but where are his ears!?). From the neck down he appears to be the same as the other Gremlin figures and he comes with a hand gun as his sole, small accessory - which I've subsequently lost.
Funko - Gremlins: Billy Peltzer
Billy P! Zer-ing the Pelt! This is a fun figure of just a "regular 80s dude." He has some of the stiffness of most of the early ReAction figures but his hair and winter coat help give him some nice bulk and contours. Plus he gets a neat old school backpack to wear about town; mogwai smuggling like we all did back in the day.
Funko - Gremlins: Gizmo with Barney
Can't have a Gremlins collection without a Gizmo! He's a teeny tiny little sucker and really only has neck articulation. The sculpt and paint are fine but he is just so little - to help balance that out, though, they packed him with Barney the dog. He's a solid piece with a nice sculpt and simple paint - he's been absorbed by my Back to the Future display to be a stand-in Einstein for the ReAction figures. Giz also gets a little trumpet and a candy cane, neither of which he can hold, because of Christmas.
Funko - Gremlins: Gremlin Stripe
Mean ol' Stripe here shares the Gremlin body with El Bandito above, but with a unique head sporting the trademark mohawk. These guys have the standard 5 points of articulation as classic Kenner figures, but with the limbs being so small and the paint so thick, they really feel like they'll break if they're turned too much. Stripe comes with a chainsaw, which is a fun inclusion! It's bigger than he is, though, so while he can hold the handle with his right hand there's really no way he can support its weight.
Funko - Gremlins: Mogwai Stripe
And then, of course, we have the mogwai version of Stripe to pre-transformation terrorize Gizmo. Stripe is a wee little fellow here as well, seemingly sharing the same body with The Giz but getting a unique head with a properly mischievous face (which does make one wonder what Gizmo would look like as a Gremlin). Neither of the Mogwai stand all that well and have the same fragile-joint feel as the Gremlins. He comes with one of those old table-top video game machines, which is a really fun retro reference and a more-than-likely once-in-a-lifetime accessory, so it's kind of worth getting this for that pure novelty alone!
Hasbro - Marvel Legends: Jean Grey
I finally broke down and pulled the trigger on this "grail." Jim Lee X-Men are MY X-Men, but Hasbro dumped this figure out, the first ever not-just-a-repaint figure of this costume, in a super limited release. I think I wound up dropping $40 on her, but that seems too high for me, so maybe I found her in the $30s? She's a good figure with new/unique thighs, wrist guards, upper torso, belt and head. The sculpt is pretty nice and the paint is fairly clean. I quite like that the blue bits are cast in a pearlescent blue plastic, but when I think of this outfit I picture the rest of the suit in more of a peach or soft-orange shade rather than yellow... The Build-a-Figure for this wave was Rocket Raccoon, which is disappointingly just a scaled up version of the 4"-scale figure. Thanks to his underarticulated sculpt, Jeanie here gets everything but Rocket's arms and head.
Hasbro - Marvel Legends: Ant-Man (Movie)
The loss of Edgar Wright on the Ant-Man movie was a bummer if for no other reason than that he was the only reason that there IS an Ant-man movie; plus it, of course, just betrays the cookie-cutter nature of the Marvel Studios factory - while there are things that are quite enjoyable about this movie I just can NOT deal with how generic and overplayed the Obidiah Stane, I mean Justin Hammer, I mean whoever-Guy-Pearce-was, I mean Yellowjacket character and arc was... they just took this way overused archetype and then, insanely, seemed to lean in to him being generic and stripped away any plausibility or uniqueness they could have given him - UGH. Aaaaanyways, thanks for your time. This is a good figure of a mediocre costume (yeah, more black) with a famously inaccurate headsculpt. I mean, seriously... At least Hasbro is rereleasing it with a Yellowjacket, ugh, figure and gave him two heads so we can swap this one out (or just use the unmasked one from the sequel figure). He comes with a micro Ant-Man figure, a micro Yellowjacket figure and a giant Ant-ony that doesn't match the scale of any these figures, so... cool.
Hasbro - Marvel Legends: Bulldozer
This was a surprising release, and a frustrating one since he completes the Wrecking Crew which I don't have many of the previous ones of because the figures were either too boring to have without the full team or they were just saw SUCH a limited release (poor, Wrecker... and he's the neatest looking one). This figure uses the "textured big body" as its base and adds on some great metal lookin' armor-y bits that basically make him look like Juggernaut. In fact... between them and the orange jumpsuit he does kind of look a lot like Juggernaut from Deadpool 2, so I wonder if he was the inspiration for that design.
Hasbro - Marvel Legends: Giant Man
A costume I've never seen and which seems like just another in a long line of "am I cool now?" comic book redesigns. It's a fine figure, but pretty darn boring. Just picked cause only cost tooling a new head.
Hasbro - Marvel Legends: Grim Reaper
Yeeeaaah! Let's get nutty!!! This is such a weird and wonderful character design and they captured it really well here. He's just the basic Marvel Legends body but with a cool skull'n'crossbones logo printed on his chest and a cape that plugs into his back. His pseudo-Galactus head turned out great and has some really nice, crisp paint details around the eyes and teeth. Then, of course, there's his mega-scythe right hand. It's unsurprisingly cast in pretty soft plastic, which means it's prone to warping, so... heads up. This just is just a fun-as-heck release.
Hasbro - Marvel Legends: Tiger Shark
Wow... never would I have imagined they'd do this goofy bastard. He's kind of fun in the same way as Grim Reaper but still a bit too "retro" to really play on his own. He's also on a larger body, so that's two big guys in one series, and the colors just sort of blend in with the rest of this wave. These are all neat figures, but none are "stars" and they just all favor purple/red/orange too much - it's overwhelming. This series could have really used someone in green, or even light blue, just to break it all up.
Hasbro - Marvel Legends: Wasp
It's neat that they made Wasp, but I'm not all that crazy about this costume (and thus, this figure). It's the standard female body, with a new head a four-wing attachment for the back - which of course means she's super back-heavy and can't stand very well.
Hasbro - Marvel Legends: B.A.F. Ultron
The BAF for this series (Ant-Man, Giantman, Wasp, Bulldozer, Grim Reaper, Tigers Shark) is the Age of Ultron's finale version of Ultron, and he's an incongruous match for the figures in the series. The sculpt is good, but the articulation doesn't blend in very well (particularly that "eh, whatever" waist cut). The plastic for some of the parts is soft and gummy, making the articulation work weirdly and the paint is inconsistent and odd, making this figure look both good and cheap at once - so it's kind of a good metaphor for that film and for this series. But, he's the big baddie (so much so that he caused an entire Age to take on his name - even if it was just for two hours).
Mezco - One12: "The Dark Knight Returns" Batman
Mezco really kicked the door down with their announcement of this new line and format of, essentially taking the Hot Toys approach down to 6" scale. I've never been a big fan of The Dark Knight Returns so while I was intrigued I wasn't a, sigh, "early adopter." But, when I saw Mezco had a few of this exclusive version at their booth I went ahead and got one to take the figure/line out for a spin, since it basically came with all the different accessories and had the costume variation I most preferred. And what did I learn? OVER. WHELMING. Overwhelming! There is so much pose-ability on the body that you can do a lot with it but by covering with fabric its difficult to see and understand what points are articulated and what kind of articulation they have. Then you fold in two alternate heads, eight alternate hands, three guns, two alternate costume pieces and a bendy armature for posing the cape... man, all the options just straight up overwhelmed me and I had to put this figure away and go back to my basic Marvel Legends. I do like the idea of the line and am keeping an eye on things but at $80-$120 a figure it's tough to find ones that really grab me.
NECA - Alien: Dallas (Compression Suit)
Take the Kane figure, swap a new head on it and instant sell! Considering the drama that can surround likeness rights and actors from these classic films it's actually kind of surprising, and cool, that they were able to snag Tom Skeritt's likeness for this figure. Other than his head, and now fully enclosed helmet, he's the same figure as Kane but with a new, pink paint scheme. In fact, I don't think I knew that each of the suits had a different color until this figure was made. It certainly doesn't look like it in the film to me, but I understand how lighting can affect things. I just wish the color wasn't so bright and would honestly be into a repaint of all the "Away Team" figures in a more homogeneous gray since that's what they look like in the movie. It wasn't an issue at the time, but seeing as the subsequent Lambert figure came with a second head without the cap I now wish that Dallas also had gotten the same treatment.
NECA - Alien: Ripley (Compression Suit)
And following Dallas' lead we get Ripley in the same suit, now in all-white. I do like, and appreciate, that they gave the straps'n'such an off-white coloring and the "armor" glossy paint - it really helps break up the figure and make it a bit more dynamic. She gets a new head (or at least hair) sculpt from the first Ripley figure as well as the grapple gun for killin's Xenos (with alternate closed and opened grapples) and a pissed off Jonesy that don't give no f**ks.
NECA - Alien3: Dog Alien
This series' third figure was the long-anticipated Alien 3 Dog Alien - a vastly needed improvement over that "what were they thinking" McFarlane figure from years ago. The sculpt is excellent and it's loaded with articulation - but I've honestly found the articulation pretty hard to work with in terms of finding both a good pose and keeping it from buckling. I was surprised to see the figure came with a little C-clip stand at first, but I get it now. There are not instructions, etc., for how best to use the stand (i.e. the arm is at an awkward height - too tall for a proper crouch but too short for standing) but it's pretty much the only way to keep the figure from becoming a crumpled mess. Sometimes, engineering a good figure that functions well on its own is more important than perfect fidelity to the source material, and I wish NECA had spent a bit more effort on engineering the articulation on this figure so that it didn't require a separate stand.
NECA - Carrie (2013): Carrie (Bloody)
Remember that time that not only did "they" remake Carrie, but NECA made figures for it!? They made two figures, Prom Queen Carrie and this much cooler Bloody Carrie. A booth had her for, like, $10 or $15 so it was totally worth picking up - both for the novelty of it and for the withdrawals I'd been having over NECA horror figures (it'd been a while of only Predators and Aliens). The figure is a nice sculpt but it the likeness is... only okay. The paint is pretty good though, with a sort of two-tone consistency for the blood which helps make it look fairly dynamic - which is great since there is only one point of articulation here. Yup - just a balljointed head and nothing else. It's a neat figure for what it is, but like the film, it's nothing special.
NECA - Pacific Rim: Horizon Brave
I hated Pacific Rim but I do like neat robots and neat toys, so I was cherry-picking from NECA's line for the first film. While most of the featured robots were shockingly generic, several of the limited/no-screen-time ones, like this Chinese Jaeger, do look pretty neat. This sucker has a fun 3A vibe, kinda like that little kit robot I got at SDCC in 2013 and sort of a WW1/WW2 sensibility to it. He's got two giant gold pods by his head, which turn out to be fire-able missiles, which is kinda neat. And that's pretty much this figure - neat. A fun addition to a little corner of the collection.
NECA - Superman: Quarter Scale Superman (Christopher Reeves)
YES! FINALLY! A proper Christopher Reeves Superman figure!! Unfortunately NECA can only make DC figures in Quarter Scale, unless under very specific circumstances (for instance the 7" DVD promotional figure of this same character, which came out a year or so after this 18" version) so beggars can't really be choosers in terms of scale. And man did this turn out soooo nicely! The sculpt is great and the fabric cape blends in to the neckline really well. The likeness is fantastic, but it is frustratingly "classic NECA" in that they favor the "bad ass" aspects of any character. When I think of Chris Reeves Superman I think of goodness, light-heartedness and a bit of a smile. So, while he definitely does make this stern expression, it's a bummer that this is what NECA went with since it seems a bit too grim for the character. It'd be great as an alternate head or a variant, but as the only ever 18" Chris Reeves figure... just not quite right. Still though, it's a gorgeous figure and a long needed addition to the collection! Thank you, NECA!
October Toys - OMFG: Series 2, Glow-in-the-Dark
Not being a big fan of Kickstarter or online ordering, I've always relied on conventions to pick up the OMFG minifigures. Fortunately October Toys usually has most of the variations with them for each year so I leapt on these glow-in-the-dark ones lickity-split! I dig this second series of mini's, particularly the vomiting knight just because he's basically two companion pieces that make a good use of the different color releases (i.e. using the GitD vomit with a solid figure makes it seem like it is puke or ectoplasm or whatever you like). The pumpkin dude is pretty cool too, while the baby is neat, the shark is kinda weird and the mouth is too "Rolling Stones" for me (even though its presumably meant to be the OMFG logo).
October Toys - OMFG: Series 3, Glow-in-the-Dark
Another fun set, cast in the always reliable Glow-in-the-Dark plastic! The GitD material is pretty good and holds the glow well and for a pretty good length. The tentacled trashcan is my favorite mini in this set, and it the one that seems the best fit for the line. I dig the barbarian dude, but he kind of drives me nuts as he seems so familiar... is he an homage? That armor from Castle Graykull? Oh well, clearly I'm not curious enough to investigate.
October Toys - OMFG: Series 4, Flesh Tone
The was the newest release at the time, hence it was only available in the initial release color of standard M.U.S.C.L.E. flesh tone (in fact, I think they did a rush order for some just have some in stock for the con). One plus this hue does have over Glow-in-the-Dark plastic is that it's much easier to see the sculpts and make out all the details. I really like that eye/bull beastie - a cool design and a great sculpt! The tree monster is neat but the other jagged monster seems a little too similar and not as stand-out (according to the back of the card it's dinosaur/fossil themed, but that doesn't quite read at first glance).
October Toys - Skeleton Warriors: Glow-in-the-Dark Skeleton
This was, I believe, October Toys' exclusive for SDCC 2015 and how could anyone go wrong with a Glow-in-the-Dark skeleton!? This is the basic skeleton from the Skeleton Warriors Kickstarter, fully loaded with Glyos pegs and plenty of articulation. It's a fun little figure, just kind of a bummer they didn't get a chance to do any more of the skeleton monsters or alternate parts to take advantage of the Glyos system.