Well... the last few years certainly were a challenge for all of us. When SDCC 2020 was cancelled, I pulled out my haul from SDCC 2019 to review, but that just sort of bummed me out some more on top of everything else... so this has just been sitting in my "to finish" pile since then. It's kind of wild to look back on these figures and think of the madhouse of was Comic Con was pre-pandemic. I certainly scored some fun stuff - so let's take a look at all the non-exclusives I picked up from trawling the many aisles and booths at that show!
Eaglemoss: Star Trek Discovery - U.S.S. Enterprise N.C.C. 1701
I was never able to get into Discovery, and when I heard that they brought the Enterprise on the show, my eyes rolled harder than ever - but I've got to confess that once I saw the ship I really liked this design! It takes everything that's great and iconic about the Original Series design and adds in just the right amount of elements from other ships and polishes it off with a modern flare that actually manages to make it iconic in its own right! This is 110% what JJ should've used in the new movies! After getting this "replica" I'm able to appreciate the details a bit more; like the little bit of Excelsior squared-off-ness to the back of the saucer and the Enterprise refit wedge-angling to the nacelle supports, not to mention the inclusion of translucent blue on the inside of the nacelles! I even like the gap in the nacelle supports... It just looks neat. Eaglemoss did this Enterprise in two sizes, their $75 XL series and then their standard Discovery series for $50, which is what this is. It's larger than the main line of Trek ships [ http://www.oafe.net/blog/?p=25256 ], which is kind of annoying but still cheaper and smaller than the XL. One of the pluses of this larger size is a larger packing box which allows for the magazine to now be about half size and fit inside the box! I like that a lot more than the full-size magazines we get in the regular collection. Interestingly, only the top of the saucer is diecast metal, the rest is plastic, which gives it an odd weighting in-hand. All in all, I'm really happy with this ship, and it's just another great reminder of how lucky we are to have Eaglemoss out there making all of the Star Trek collectibles when everybody else abandons the license fairly quickly!
Hasbro: Marvel Legends - 80th Anniversary Wolverine & Hulk
Man, this set is such a mixed bag. The colors are fantastic but the execution is only OK. I strongly dislike first appearance wolverine but I guess this outfit was just a matter of time given how many variations they're doing of him. This figure captures that first look pretty well with a new head featuring the goofy cat mask and much smaller blue shoulder pads. Those don't work great given the engineering of the shoulders here causing the pads flop down like loose straps. However, what this figure has great colors, they've got the perfect yellow and the perfect blue with the perfect red for belt here. This is what I want a Wolverine to look like, as opposed to the other two releases of '90s Wolverine that either have the right blue and bad yellow or vice versa. Hulk is a really fun new giant sculpt, though I must confess I've never been to terribly big fan of "gigantic Hulk." This is a fun size though for the character and they did a decent job of fitting in articulation as best they could. He's best from the waist down with nicely textured and sculpted pants, and even the tattered ends of the pants on his calves are separate pieces giving a nice layered aesthetic to the legs. The torso is a little blocky and under textured compared to the rest of the sculpt, though. The intent of the head is good but there's something about it that doesn't quite work for me, it's a little soft in detail and too small for the size of the chest/neck. The paint on it is really good though and I like that the hair is a separate piece from the head which also helps give it a nice sense of realism. I do really like the colors they used: a solid green plastic with the light green overspray and then a nice rich purple for the pants, this is basically what I think Hulk should look like, color-wise. It's just a shame that he couldn't be bought on his own, because I sure as hell don't want this wolverine... But 'dem's the shakes.
Hasbro: Marvel Legends - "Infinity War" Iron Man Mark 50 & Iron Spider
This is kind of a nut-punch of a release... basically just some new accessories but included in those is an unmasked Peter Parker head, so effectively you kind of have to get this. I'm really annoyed that I had to spend at the show about 50 bucks just for a new head but at least it is pretty good and the addition of his Iron Spidey backpack legs helps justify having two of this figure. The figure is exactly the same maybe with a slightly more metallic plastic but now he's got a little backpack glued onto his back that has four peg holes which plug into the four identical legs each three balljoints one at the base and then two at the main knuckles. The Peter head is a pretty good likeness and it's got a separate piece for the hair which is appropriately tasseled like in the film. Since Peter gets an unmasked head obviously the expectation is that Iron Man should as well but I guess RDJ just charges too much for that to be reasonable... so instead we just get a bunch of extra armor bits. Yawn. He comes with a set of fist hands and then a set of repulse or blast hands two of the repulsed or blaster facts in translucent blue and then all new for this set is a pair of identical for arm gear things a shield and then a clear thing that plugs into his back onto which for little blaster raise peg on to. It's a neat idea but just looks a little goofy in the execution and really just forces the figure to take up too much space on the shelf overall. I wish they had gone for some more iconic things from the film, like the big foot things or alternate arm designs, though. But ultimately this figure really needed a Tony Stark head in order to have any sense of value or necessity in the collection. But at least they gave him some new stuff rather than a useless light in his chest like that painful Infinity War three pack.
Hasbro: Marvel Legends - "Thor Ragnarok" Grandmaster & Korg
This was a surprisingly fun reveal when they first announced it, but after including grandmaster in the Comic-Con-exclusive two-pack it definitely lessens the appeal of this set. I suppose I get why they packed these two fan-favorite characters together, but I kind of feel like if they're doing these guys, then there was room for more as well. I would've preferred Grandmaster packed with his bodyguard, Topaz, and then Korg with, of course, Meek (or if they needed a little bit less tooling maybe a Bruce Banner). But beggars can't be choosers and I am glad to get these characters, especially since these two packs haven't sold well at all I can't fault them for not doing more than this. Grandmaster is a really nice figure that captures Goldblum's look pretty well. The likeness this is pretty good but I do think the hair could've potentially been a little bigger. He gets new arms, feet, and torso while his legs are used from the standard suit body. He also comes with his little one scene Death-Rod gag, which is fine. I do think this release is where this figure would have worked better with the smiling likeness that they used for the SDCC set. Korg is impressively an all new sculpt; I really thought he'd share parts with the Walgreens Thing figure. He does seem a little undersized especially in the torso and arms, alas. It really betrays how secretive Marvel must have been with Endgame because so much of this figure has the armor as part of the sculpt meaning Hasbro clearly wasn't aware of any sculpt reuse possibility for "casual" Korg. But the sculpt is really nice, and the armor has some good paint highlights on it; even his pants are a slightly different shade which all at all gives this figure a surprisingly rich sense of depth and texture to him compared to other figures they've done of late. Plus he comes with his little club thing. All things considered, this is a really nice set.
Hasbro: Marvel Legends - "Thor Ragnarok" Skurge & Hela
This is another surprising set because I can't imagine there was really any demand for a Skurge figure and the first Hela they released was already one of their best MCU figures! But here we are, and both of these figures turned out fantastic. Scourge is an entirely new sculpt and uses some really nice shiny plastic and minimal but good paint to highlight all of the details and give him a nice depth. He comes with two sets of hands so that he can either hold the axe or wield the machine guns, which is pretty fun (and, yes, makes me tempted to get a second set). He also has a great likeness that is immediately recognizable as Karl Urban. The figure is fantastic, it's just kind of baffling that they made it. Hela is a complete re-use of the original figure but now with a brighter metallic green paint, which I must admit does look better. She comes with three heads this time, rather than two, and they're all new. She also comes with a little bit of the Scarlet Witch magic recast in orange to be the eternal flame from the movie, and a fantastic new right hand with a shattering Mjolnir glued into it! I was really frustrated with this set initially because of the character selection, but in-hand both of these figures are excellent and I'd be lying if I haven't already been looking at buying a second set.
NECA: Pan's Labyrinth - Ofelia
Though I am no fan of Guillermo Del Toro's films, I do really like and enjoy the man himself and his movies do lend themselves to neat collectibles. Ophelia was the last of NECA's GTD series that I found but ironically the first one that I've opened. She's a cool figure and easily the most surprising since she's not a "creature." I believe this is also the first collectible she's ever gotten from Pan's Labyrinth. She's a nice little figure with 18 points of articulation, which is really impressive. The amount of leg articulation is especially surprising given that her skirt is solid plastic/rubber which really limits a lot of the posing options. The sculpt is nice and the paint is pretty good with some nice dry brushing to bring out detail in the dress (though why this limited-screen-time outfit?). She comes with a key, a hinged book with printing inside and three fairies, all the same sculpt but each in a different color. She also gets the big totem near the front of the labyrinth and it is shockingly heavy, almost to the point of me thinking it was resin at first. But I think it's just that it's a single solid chunk of plastic. It's got some nice dry brushing as well on the front and back to bring out the details as well as a few little paint hits for moss and lichen. The right eye is also removable but the fit is can be pretty loose, so it falls out with some ease when you tip the totem and that makes me a bit nervous about losing it. Overall, this is just an incredibly excellent execution of a figure I don't think anybody ever expected to get (or maybe even wanted, to be honest, but she it the central figure of the film so having her is a nice centerpiece). It's basically the dream of toy collecting: high caliber figures of every obscure niche film! But... stuff like this really draws the question of why NECA is able to do a figure like this as a plastic toy but then things like Snake Plisskin or Bill & Ted or Jaws have to be done in their "retro cloth format"... but maybe they just got these licenses for dirt cheap so they have better margins, who knows?
NECA: The Golden Girls - Blanche
I think was always kind of aware of The Golden Girls but it wasn't until lazily discovering reruns of the show in college that I became a diehard fan! It's easily one the greatest sitcoms of all time and has held up incredibly well all these years later! I've been one the vocal fans begging for toys, so it was a great surprise when NECA unveiled these! (Of course there was the Funko figures... but those were impossible to get and will never be mine, alas) The figures are pretty nice and generally use the shared female body for NECA's format in this line. Annoyingly, and consistent with toys in general, this shared body has less articulation than the male one - predominately in the form of NO bicep or thigh swivels. It's also weird that the elbows and knees are just hinge joints rather than balljoints... but at least the shoulders and hips have decent range-of-motion. The ladies also share hand sculpts for some reason, which looks fine in some cases and woefully under-scaled in others. Ultimately, it's the heads and the feet that are unique sculpts across the four figures. Blanche is sporting gold high-heeled shoes (pumps?) and a pretty good likeness. I like that she's smiling but I really hope there's a second wave so that get Rue McCalahan's trademark "annoyed side-eye" expression, which is quintessential Blanche! He clothes are, as is the nature of the game, kind of baggy, but the pants suit ensemble means she fares better than the other. Incredibly, they even found and used the same kind of soft, textured fabric all senior women wore in the '80s/'90s! I 100% immediately recognized as something my grandma used to wear, which adds a whole 'nother level of charm and nostalgia to figure!
NECA: The Golden Girls - Dorothy
Surprisingly, Dorothy uses the standard male body for the line, with a bit of padded "underwear" to feminize her physique (but, of course, the clothes are so baggy you'd never even notice it). It's a novel, nice touch to help better recreate Bea Arthur's taller stature, but of course it does mean she has somewhat oversized arms and hands. The male body also gives her more articulation, which allows for a bit more posing options - both for effect and for stability.
NECA: The Golden Girls - Rose
Rose gets, arguably, the best likeness of the group featuring Betty White's signature big smile. The head sculpt is really good, but it is fitting a bit too snug to the neck meaning she only really has swivel articulation rather than balljoint (and the same is true for the other figures) which is a shame. That snug fit also gives a sense of proportion which does not continue to the shared hands, which looks conspicuously tiny here. For a format that depends on cloth goods these outfits sure are loose fitting - particularly with Rose, who almost feels like she's about to "spill out" of the top of her dress. The clothing patterns are nice and detailed, it's really just the fit that's not very good. Also, other than Dorothy's "manssiere," none of these figures have any underwear. It's not necessary, of course, but there is something a little unsettling just knowing that these girls are all commando - especially when one inevitably falls over and you... catch a glimpse...
NECA: The Golden Girls - Sophia
Sofia is not just a great character, but now a great figure. She too has a remarkably good likeness with Estelle Getty's typical "blank stare" for the character. Unlike the others, whose heads are a single, solid piece, Sophia's hair is a separate sculpt, perhaps a nod to the actress being the only cast member in a wig/heavy makeup and/or perhaps to better let the glasses fit more naturally. She shares the same female hands, arms and body as Blanche and Rose, but gets the shorter legs from the Joe Pesci figure! They do a great job of giving her a more accurate stature while also providing some very welcome thigh swivel joints. She's also the only figure in the series to get an accessory, and has two! One is a cheesecake - the standard joke of the show and a very delightful inclusion (even if it does look like just a cheese wheel). The cake and plate seem to be separate pieces but are glued together. Sophia also gets her trademark purse, which is amazingly fully hinged and openable! That's some awesome attention to detail and a fun feature... but with the generic hands and lack of bicep swivels... she can't really hold well... Whomp whomp. Still though - as a Golden Girls fan, I'm just elated to have these and I really hope they did well enough to get us a second series with alternate facial expressions and outfits! Golden Girls 4 life!!!
NECA: The Predator - Emissary Predator I
The Predator was a disappointing movie, including how dull the design of the main Predator and his armor was. I passed up the figures of the titular character, but when NECA revealed these two figures they were just too goofy and fun for me to pass up. Clearly from rumored-but-deleted scenes these guys are other Predators but now suited up in human military gear... Because that makes any sense. But nothing changes the fact that these do just look cool, so when I found these guys for about 20 bucks each I had to pull the trigger. The sculpt is real nice, up to the standard NECA quality, and the paint is pretty good too. These guys are fully articulated with about 21 points, including double swivel/hinge elbows and knees! I think this is the first time I've seen double on knees, and the premise is certainly sound and cool and they do have a lot of range, however I do have the same kind of problems as with things like Revoltech where most of the fiddling is just about trying to align the legs and knees properly rather than finding a dynamic pose. This guy gets two heads one unmasked and then one masked, and the mask appears to be identical to the same one the main Predator of the film wears (which is pretty lame especially given variation in the Lost Tribe from Predator 2). We also get three sets of hands: two fists, two open and trigger right-hand and cupped left-hand. Those last two help him carry the machine gun he's got - because again, why would a Predator not need bullets? It's a silly premise overall, but a much better figure than it deserves and a lot of fun to add to the collection.
NECA: The Predator - Emissary Predator II
This guy is basically 95% identical to Emissary One, a.k.a. the purple guy. The differences are simply that this one is brown, black and blue rather than purple and tan he's got a unique head and his gauntlet is now on the left forearm rather than the right, because his right arm has a sort of brace gear on it. The brace looks pretty neat and it even has a little hinge at the elbow but the hinge is in soft plastic that's glue-sealed. The more I try and bend it the more it seems like it's going to break. I got this guy just because I get such a tickle out of the premise of these two so much, and I do like building a team but if you only get one make it the purple guy. I do like this guy's head sculpt more but the other one's colors are much more unique and cool looking, plus they help the camo gear contrast more (and he's got an open mouth which looks neater on a Predator).
Weta: Mini Epics - "Alien" Xenomorph
I've been eyeing Weta's Epic Minis line ever since they first unveiled it, but the price of the pieces were always too high for me, and while I really liked some of the designs, others were a bit too cute. When they announced they had the Alien license I just shrugged my shoulders at yet another kick to that old dead horse... but once I saw the giant sized display version of it at SDCC I just... well I kept going back and back and back to the booth ogling the sculpt. Even once I resolved to get it, I still did a LOT of hemming and hawing over the convention exclusive "bone" color version and this standard one. Ultimately, for $30 I knew I'd only get one and just had to accept that while the bone version is cool, I would rather have this one in the permanent collection. Weta managed to find a surprisingly fresh and unique take on the classic Xenomorph, hitting the perfect balance of stylization and design-honoring. I really like how rounded and curvy the design is here, but still hyper detailed with ridges and exoskeleton musculature. The pose fits the style well, too, and adds a little extra something to the look of the figure. I also have to confess that the transparent drool is a really great touch and definitely part of what drew me to this, it's cool looking and really helps set this apart from all the infinite other collectibles of this character. The figure is painted in glossy black then has some dry-brushing in dark blue and gray to bring out the details and give a nice sense of texture. The skull under the clear bone is bone color with a blackwash and the inner jaw (retracted here but extended on the exclusive) is a fleshy pink. I think those contrasts fit in fine with the stylized take on the character. It's also bigger than expected, about 6" tall, which also helps take the sting off the price - but in all honesty, as a cool, fun mini-statue this guy is well worth the $30. He also comes packed with a big, clear rectangle base with pegs for the feet though he doesn't need it, but it's still a nice inclusion.
Weta: Mini Epics - "Dr. Grodbort's Invaders" Gimble
I've been a big fan Weta's Dr Grodbort's Rayguns since the beginning, and have all the miniature versions, so while those did get a bit pricey, I have really missed product based on Greg Broadmore's incredible art. So, it was with great excitement that I discovered they were taking that brand into their Mini Epics line! Gimble here is a rad little robot, apparently from a VR game they've developed for Grodbort, and I got him simply because he's from that universe, but the more I look at him the more I love him. He's got the Raygun logo on his chest, as well as a fun assortment of dials, "lights," wingnuts (representing legs, I think) and assorted steampunkery. His arms are a cool bit of designs and look fully thought-out in terms of functionality. On his back is a jetpack which connects to a bit of dark smokey plastic which creates an exhaust stand for Gimble to hover about. It's the head, though, that I love the most! The bright red coloring looks stellar and the brass details and triple fins are just Broadmore/Grodbort perfection! The single large eye is a nice sticker with a rounded, clear lens over it that adds a lot of depth and character to this guy. My favorite detail is that the head appears to be a ball, which would allow Gimble a huge range of "looking around"! This line is all mini-statues, but between the ball design of the head, wrists and shoulders I really, really, really wish this was an articulated figure - I think it'd be outrageously fun to pose! This statue is a wonderful step back in to the world of Grodbort, and I hope he's doing well for them, because I could see Lord Cockswain fitting this style really, really well - let alone many of Broadmore's other crazy designs! Long live Dr. Grodbort!