Two weeks ago I drove from Chicago to Los Angeles. Needless to say there were a few chances to hit up the local board-of-fare mid route. While I sadly missed all Toys R Us's, a Walmart and Target were perused and best of all I did finally got a chance to visit the fabled McFarlane Toys store in Phoenix!
Hasbro - Captain America: Movie Captain America
This is hands down my most enjoyed film of the year and easily the best Marvel film since the first Iron Man so I am more than happy to buy just about anything from it! This figure bodes very well for Hasbro's return to 6" Marvel figures - a nice sculpt with plenty of detail, solid paint work and an impressive volume of articulation! The highlights of the latter are the excellent balljointed head on a "ring joint" neck for a great range of motion (I have no problem whatsoever with a visible joint like this as long as the pose-range stays so great), double-jointed elbows and balljointed wrists! The wrists don't have the full range of motion I was expecting for the joint but they're still far better than just swivels or hinges. The shield is fully sculpted on both sides and fits on the arm nicely (though is a bit of a pain to take on and off). He comes with an olde timey machine gun and a handgun with a ridiculously wide handle. He holds both guns okay but not great, especially his signature handgun, sadly. Overall, though, this is a very good figure an a welcome addition to any collection. Now, if only they would release an unhelmeted version...
Hasbro - Captain America: Nick Fury
This is just a repaint of the Nick Fury figure from the Toys R Us exclusive two-pack from a few years back but with a new Samuel L. Jackson head. It's a good figure but the cuts in the balljointed shoulders are too short to allow the arms to hang down naturally to the sides. Thus you're pretty much stuck with Arms Akimbo Fury. He comes loaded with two machine guns and two guns. Overkill to be sure but more accessories are better than less, especially when they can be donated to other gun-needing figures. Ultimately (pun!?) this is a pass-able figure as it's none too exciting or interesting, but it's pretty relevant to all of your Marvel Movie Collections and likewise fits in well with just about any of them.
Hasbro - Marvel Universe: Multiple Man
The biggest shock of the McFarlane Toys Store in Phoenix is that their stock is about 40% McFarlane product and 60% stuff from competitors! Thanks to that, though, I scored this guy on sale for about $6, and who could turn down a battle builder at the price!? (Not to mention buying a Hasbro figure from McFarlane Toys) It remains a decent figure that sadly came out just a couple waves before the better articulation started filtering in. I'm still very much looking forward a modern Madrox figure/s too!
Hasbro - Thor: Comicbook Loki
This is the most exciting figure in the two Walmart exclusive Movie Tie-In waves as it's (1) comic based, (2) the only villain, (3) and an all new sculpt of a not-before-done costume. (Well, I'd wager he shares parts with a previous or upcoming 6" Marvel Legends figure but I honestly don't care enough to investigate it further) While I'm still eagerly awaiting a "Classic" Loki I like this version a lot. It's kind of a hybrid of that classic costume and the more recent one used for the ToyBiz version. Plus, I love that exaggerated face, all twisted and evil - so cool! Proportionally he's more bulky than I'd prefer and a bit over sized for the scale but I can overlook that in favor of his general coolness. As far as accessories go all he gets is a removable pelt for his shoulders and back. Despite that though this is the best of the Walmart figures and a great "preview" figure for the return of Marvel Legends.
Hasbro - Thor: Movie Thor
Like Cap, an inevitable figure and a good one at that. He's a better figure than the Marvel Select version in terms of articulation and having a cape that won't make him fall over but I think I prefer DST's sculpt to Hasbro's. Before seeing the film I was getting pretty frustrated about not getting figures of Thor with his helmet on, but after seeing the film it actually seems weird to see Thor with his helmet on! It's nice to have this figure be a bit different in the collection, but it makes this a fairly specific figure from not the majority of the film. A welcome addition to the foray, though, as I like having these films represented in the collection.
Hasbro - Thor: Fandral
By sheer happenstance I stumbled on the Warriors Three at a Target in Tucson we were visiting more as a Pit Stop than anything else. I love when you score big totally out of the blue - I never expected to see these guys in stores, so I'm thrilled to get them! Fandral is a pretty cool little, dashing, Cary Elwes-esque guy. The thing I remember most about him is that the original Aragorn, Stuart Townsend, was cast in the role but was so routinely late for meetings, rehearsals and fittings that they replaced him with a different actor. So clearly the character had an impact on me. I know little about the Thor mythos but I enjoy how they broke the Three up a bit making each more unique for the film. Fandral is the classic scoundrel rogue and comes complete with a fancy-man half-cape and rapier-like sword. Ignore the dumb kiddie pack-in accessory.
Hasbro - Thor: Hogun
Hogun is one of the "ethnically diverse" members of Asgard, a concept that works well in execution and seemed to take surprisingly little heat from the fanboys. The costume skews Asian with flavors of samurai armors in its design. I'm not too crazy about the all-black color scheme but I guess we had to have our ninja. I really, really like that his weapon of choice is a mace, however. Plus, he comes with the only not-totally-junkable kiddie accessory in the entire line, an axe with removable blades that can each be used as a weapon. While the least visually interesting he's arguably the best of the three figures.
Hasbro - Thor: Volstagg
I'm fairly tired of Ray Stevenson, but being an affordable "tough guy" actor means he won't be going anywhere any time soon. This is a pretty filmic incarnation of Volstagg but I'm in the camp that's upset they didn't go the "big fat guy" route. In the few comics I've read with the Three I've liked Volstagg the most, with his affable Gimli-esque nature. It just seems much lessened to have such a slim version. Had I my druthers I'd have got Oliver Platt for the role. Fortunately though the figure turns out pretty well. I really loathe his terrible kiddie accessory but and rather enamored of his multi-layered battle axe. It's a cool spin on the familiar weapon and I wish it was given more attention in the film.
McFarlane - Walking Dead: Officer Rick Grimes
I picked this up from the McFarlane Store (I had to get something they made) because they had these for $15, which is far better than the $20 they run for in the stores (though I just saw TRU has marked them down to $15 as well now). I wanted this figure because I quite like the character and he comes with a ton of guns, but the "it only makes sense to us" 5" scale is a hindrance. The real problem, though, is that, as other have pointed out, the figure seems sculpted first with articulation added haphazardly after the fact. None of the 23 points are really worth a darn, excepting the excellent balljoint at the head. It's near impossible to get him in any pose other than what you see in the one photo they show. In a lot of ways it's just like the Halo figures, the articulation looks more impressive than it actually is. At some point it would be fun to give some of these shotguns to the Halo guys for some cool poses and since these two are the only 5" lines in... 15 years or so.
McFarlane - McFarlane Toys Catalog: 1997
One of the best things about McFarlane at Comic Con were their free catalogs. It's easy to forget but during their golden age (roughly '98-'02 or '03) McFarlane didn't just have the best figures, they had the best packaging and the best advertising. Remember those ads that were just artistic photos of the figure so cool we wanted them released as posters? And what do we get nowadays? Boring, static, lifeless photos and an articulation count - aaaah, the sweet legacy of ToyBiz. At any rate I started going to SDCC in 1998 and have every catalog they put out from that year until they stopped making them but never any from before. Lo and behold, though, the McFarlane Store had a small stack of the 1997 catalogs for $5 a pop. Now that is an uber-score! This is just before they started doing cool photography but it's still a fantastic trip down memory lane and through toy history. '97 was the first year McFarlane did anything licensed or non Comic-Based with the release of the Monsters Playsets, Spawn: The Movie line and, of course, the debut of their KISS figures. It was also the debut of the first themed series of Spawn figures with Series 9 being "Manga Spawn." The catalog covers series already released as well as those new for '97, including a handy release calendar on the last page. This volume shows off Spawn: The Movie 6" and Deluxe figures, Spawn Series 5 through 9, KISS series 1, McFarlane's Monsters Playsets Series 1, and Total Chaos Series 1 & 2. Each figure has a photo and brief description as does each line, though some get more of a write-up than others. All in all this was a truly killer find and a bit of a grail for me!