I functionally can not stop myself from obsessing over Legos in both thought and purchase. Fortunately, though, I've managed to keep some degree of level head and accumulate more than a fair share of Figures over the past few weeks - many to the tireless and blessed efforts of post-Christmas clearance sales!
Diamond Select: Marvel Minimates - Secret War Captain America & Crossbones
The second set of the Toys R Exclusive figures from the Cap/Thor themed line is at last mine. I'm guessing this Cap comes from the Nick Fury-caused Secret War from the Illuminati mini-series era, which I thought I read but this not-US Agent costume is unfamiliar to me. If it's Steve Rogers I want my Cap in Blue, none of this black nonsense. That said the paint is really good. Very tight, clean and daresay impeccable. Granted 'mates are flat and action figures are not but this just really shows how weak things like Jakks' PotC nonsense is. Cap comes with an alternate blonde hair piece for the unmasked look and his shield. His left wrist has the shield-wielding gauntlet with peg but no alternate is included, so though he's wearing his back-harness you'll need to keep the shield on his arm for it to look natural. Crossbones comes with a dagger, handgun and machine gun. His flak vest is removable revealing a painted torso with gray highlights for his abs and a big white bone logo - at last a layman such as myself can "get" his name! Packed between the two figures are a pouched-belt and grenade-laden suspender piece for the torso. Not knowing either character/costume I'm not sure who it's for but seeing as it matches the color of Crossbone's gun holster I gave it to him. Cap is a nice variation but pretty forgettable though Crossbones is just a 100% phenomenal Minimate!
Diamond Select: Universal Movie Monsters - Frankenstein
After missing these while on vacation in early October I was finally able to nab the granddaddy of all Monsters. Like the rest of the line it features low articulation and a few production errors to keep it "less than" its potential but overall is the best Frankenstein figure since Sideshow's old 8" line. Frank's articulated at the ankles, forearms and shoulders - all swivels. The head appears to be articulated but is sealed and immobile on mine, so I can neither confirm nor deny. The torso portion of the jacket is a separate piece but is a hard PVC rather than a rubber, so I'm guessing the body and legs are all one part. The highlight of the sculpt for me is the forearms and hands which are posed in the semi-awkward splayed nature from the famous still photo. They also look just as natural when turned parallel to the body - nice. The face looks enough like Karloff but isn't the best likeness we've seen. I'd wager it suffers from too thick a layer of paint. The rest of the figure features some nice paint texturing thanks to a few well handled drybrushes and washes. However there is problem - the left foot is ⅛" shorter than the left. Seriously. How does that even happen these days? He does have pegholes in his feet - though the he base has no pegs. He comes with a stone base featuring some chains, shackles and dirt steps. Sadly, though, the shackles and chains are sculpted on to the base. Overall it's a fine addition to the line and on par with the other releases.
Hasbro: Star Wars - Anakin Skywalker (Padawan)
Hi. I'm Rustin Parr. I'm that one guy whose actually looking forward to seeing The Phantom Menace in 3D and more importantly back on the big screen. Oh heavens to betsy, yes, I know it's a horror unfathomable, but some terrible nostalgia mixed with a healthy dose of good humor plus the-more-theatrical-Star-Wars-we-get-the-more-toys-we-get has me jazzed. Thus I am just tickled by the new 10-figure series of Vintage figures. The first I was able to find is young Master Skywalker, post-"Are you an Angel?" and very pre-"in my opinion the Jedi are wrong." It's a costume he wears but for one scene but it's a significant one so it's nice to get an update in the form of an all-new sculpt. The tunic is textured to high heaven, which I adore, and the rest is wrinkled/detailed very well. The likeness is approximate, but it's the worst of all Anakin actors so who cares? He get balljoints at the shoulders, elbows, knees and feet with swivel waist and wrists, T-crotch and a ball-and-socket head. A terrifically huge kudos to Hasbro for going all in on this figure and making him definitive (at least from the neck down). I am quite sure we'll see this body reused in the future for "smarter than Obi-Wan" Attack of the Clones younglings and Revenge of the Sith saber-fodder. Typically a little figure like this would be about it for the release but they've filled the blister with more (not seen onscreen) accessories to take the edge off the $10 pricetag. You get a lightsaber, a hilt, a blinder helmet and laser ball. It's a strong figure and if you're open to it quite worth your time. But odds are the last thing you're going to spend $10 on is an Episode I Celebration Scene Anakin.
Hasbro: Star Wars - Mace Windu
The Attack of the Clones series of 2011 Vintage figures has been popping up at discount stores like Marshall's for about $4 and indeed that's where I found this fine fellow. I'm no fan of the Windu so I was happy enough without this figure though the only super-articulated Mace I have features a ridiculous screaming face so this fills a hole for me. He's got identical articulation to Padawan Ani, which is nice but it's pretty ridiculous that he lacks balljointed hips. I mean, come on... he is pretty much the action Jedi. Oh well. Included is an ignited lightsaber and a belt-hangable hilt plus the terrible softgoods cloak. Oh boy do I await the return of sculpted cloaks with baited breath! Soooo much better. Or at least they could try out plastic/cloth hybrids kind of like the new Daulty Dofine, Darth Sidius and Darth Maul figures. We shall see. Odds are you already have this figure but with a softgoods under-skirt and new head with a great likeness he's worth adding if you can find him at a good price.
Hasbro: Star Wars - The Search for Luke Skywalker
This is the better of the two Target-exclusive sets last fall that brought the long awaited resculpted Tauntaun. The other is just Luke's Tauntaun while this one includes Han and a Rebel Trooper so since they cost the same this is the one to get (the difference in Tauntauns is only that Luke's has a broken left horn). Han is a hokey kitbash in a uselessly bright blue coat. He also comes with a hat that can't fit on because of he "down hood" piece - both of which being pointless as it really should have been a "hood up" Han. He's new in that he has a terrible nylon skirt to allow for newly added balljointed hips. He kinda fits on the Tauntaun but not as well as I'd expect from modern Hasbro. The Rebel Trooper is a rerelease from the Vintage Target 3-packs so is a nice addition. I can't get the hat off him without taking his head with it, though. Included is a rifle and a scanner he can't hold. The real star is the Tauntaun which is sculpted to perfection. It has balljointed ankles, hips and shoulders. The head is a ball-on-socket joint on top of a swivel ring (like more recent Marvel Universe figures) which allows for a very wide range of poses. The saddle is a separate piece, though there is a strap wrapped under the tail that is sculpted on to the Tauntaun, as is the head harness and rein, so naked Tauntaun this is not. It's a great piece and well worth the wait. The only thing that could improve it is wrist and elbow articulation but that's not really a deal breaker at all. Just another reminder of how awesome Hasbro is these days!
Jakks Pacific: Pirates of the Caribbean - Barbossa with Longboat
I know, I know... why would anybody spend money on this? Well... I had just scored the Queen Anne's Revenge for $25 and was willing to gamble the $4.78 on this to have a boat to hang from her side. Barbossa is exactly the same as on the carded version and comes with the same sword and (useless) crutch but instead of a blacklight barrel this time he gets what I suspect is a British coin. The coin has two pegs on it making it the most useful of all the UV flashlights because it can double as a stand. The boat itself is fine enough, with three benches but no oars (allegedly there was a Jack with Longboat in Series 2 that came with oars, but I never saw it). The benches and exterior have a nice wood texture but the interior is as smooth as smooth could be. The exterior rim has little bones and skulls sculpted on. I'm not sure if they're screen-accurate but despite their smallness they allude nicely to the Revenge's design. The boat also comes with a play-feature, oh joy. It's a pseudo net missile that shoots from some kinda woody cannon atop a smooth pole. The boat has two post-holes in it but the cannon-pole only fits in the one at the bow. To further lessen value the boat hooks fore and aft don't swivel and aren't removable. Realistically this isn't even worth the $5 I paid at 75% off.
Jakks Pacific: Pirates of the Caribbean - Blackbeard with Double Cannons
Much like the longboat above I got this for the sole reason of decking out my Queen Anne's Revenge. Unbenownst to me this is from Series 2 (which also included Jack with Longboat and Philip with Glass Coffin) so it turns out these are totally different cannons and the figure is the confusing and wholly pointless "Coatless Blackbeard" from the second series of carded figures. So, I now have every figure released - yay? The cannons are four-part constructions: a gold cannon attached to a brown base and an articulated wall on either side. The intent is to clip together the cannons via sculpted-on pegs and hole to have a dual launcher. To further ensure this approach wheels are only sculpted onto one side of each cannon. That's not all, the walls of each cannon flip down so that they can each be attached to the outside of the Revenge, hanging from the rigging's bottom. To that end they even have skulls and rigging, but unlike the exterior details these aren't painted. Way to go. There's also four neon orange missiles that the cannons can fire. It's not as pointless as the Barbossa/Longboat but just the same it's lessened by a needless reissue of a useless figure and I simply cannot help but see where a few simple paint apps could have really helped, but that money was probably consumed by the needless UV flashlights.
K'Nex: Super Mario Kart - Bowser
I famously have no interest in the playing of videogames. The extent of my tolerance goes little further than Tetris and Super Mario Bros. so while that leaves me out of most nerd conversations these days it does mean I have a strong love of Mario's world. I own surprisingly little product from it, and certainly none of K'Nex's Mario Kart line grabbed me, but when a friend pointed me towards their polybagged figures line I couldn't resist. It's a cardboard display box with single-figure packs for $2.99. Sound familiar? Their twist - there's only four characters and more importantly they tell you what you're getting! The mix is Mario, Luigi, Yoshi and Bowser with the latter being one per case. Awesome planning jackasses! The figure is stylistically closer to Kubricks than Lego Mini-Figures or Playmobil having an equal balance between basic aesthetic and uniquely sculpted pieces. Actually, everything on Bowser is unique, though it could be reused for his kids in the future. He comes in six parts: head, upper torso and arms, lower torso and legs, tail, top half of the shell and bottom half of the shell. I don't really understand why the shell is two pieces, but it is, and plugs into the torso's back via a peghole. The paint is remarkably clean and even, and I like the sculpt. Accepting it's general brick figure nature, it does a good job of capturing the look of Bowser. He even gets eight points of articulation with swivel joints at the hips, waist, wrists, shoulders, and neck. All I've gotten so far is Bowser but I'll probably pick up the other three too. Lord knows affordable Mario collectibles don't come around often.
Mattel: Action League - Sinestro & Arkillo
It's hard to get or remain excited for Mattel/DC product of late. Everything about both corporations just seems to be growing increasingly more profit seeking (and less passionate for their product). However, I just love the Sinestro Corps too much to have continued passing on this set. Both figures are all new sculpts though Arkillo is cooler due to both bulk and more unique looking pose. Sinestro basically takes the same stance as the Hal Jordan figure but this one has all of his costume details sculpted into the plastic making the body unique to his Corps. Arkillo is much the same, the only exception being his armband on the left bicep, which is just a region devoid of black paint rather than having a seam in the sculpt. The paint on this toyline has actually gotten worse since the first series and this set is a key sufferer. The bright yellow plastic is not forgiving of errors so missed lines or smudges over it are highly noticeable. Sinestro's skin tone in particular seems the trickiest and this was the best of three sets I looked at but was still weak. Despite being wholly disappointed by Blackest Night I still adore the concept of the separate corps so am happy to continue building those out, especially my favorite - the Fear team!
Mattel: DC Universe Classic - Bronze Tiger
Who the hell is this? Seriously. And who wanted a figure of him? Figures like this and Mattel "blames" the collectors for not supporting their lines... sheesh. Anyway, I found this uninteresting series at Walmart marked down to $11 which was awesome, though they didn't have the full series. As a figure this is a good one. Clean paint, a bright colors and a nice new belt/skirt piece. Plus he comes with a sword (from which the paint is already flaking off), a staff, two small billy clubs and an alternate head. The latter of course means that the head articulation actually works like a real balljoint. The alternate tiger head is a great sculpt but is stylistically way too detailed to fit in with DCUC; it belongs on one of the Horsemen's Seventh Kingdom figures. Also packed in is build-a-figure Apache Chief's right leg. Look, it's a good figure but it's actually a little aggravating to think not only did they think this was a good choice for the mass market and even moreso now that I have pay $20 plus shipping for Barry Allen, Atrocitus and so on. This toy is only relevant for his BAF part.
Mattel: DC Universe Classics - Captain Boomerang
Continuing the trend of this series I have no soft spot for this character though I know many do, and certainly he's more recognizable than the rest of the line. He also has the fine distinction of looking the most unique. He's got the collar, the big trenchcoat with attached boomerang-bandolier, coated arms, and new shins. The arms and legs have double jointed elbows and knees, which I believe, offhand, are taken from the Sinestro Scarecrow figure. So that's cool. He also comes with a boomerang accessory cast in full rubbery making it ridiculously malleable. Beyond that he get's you Apache Chief's head and waist. Cap's head is a nice sculpt but it looks way too familiar to me. All I see is Seth Green when I look at it (or maybe the semi-legitimate child of Seth Green and Michael Bay...).
Mattel: DC Universe Classics - El Dorado
One of the missing third series of Super Powers figures as well as one of the created-for-Super Friends characters. It'll probably come as no surprise to you that I'm no fan of this series. It would have made since much more since a few years ago when the line was more popular, novelty was more in favor and it could have more directly tied into the Wonder Twins exclusive. Anyways this is just a new head on a standard body with a well sculpted belt/torso piece that connects to a collar/cape piece. It's good for what it is, though it's nothing special. I'd be remiss not to point out that below the waist he reminds one of Hawkman a little too strongly. No accessories are present save but for Apache Chief's torso and (removable) vest.
Mattel: DC Universe Classics - Samurai
Samurai is the final character from the original Super Powers line from Kenner to receive DCUC treatment so while this is a terrible design is actually a desired figure. The big debate for me will be to put him in my Super Friends or my Super Powers display. What's a nerd to do!? And no, buying a second is absolutely not an option. What can I say, it's a fine figure of a horrible design. He comes with a translucent sword and Apache Chief's left arm. Mine has a undesirable smudge on his nose, but I decided "what the hell" and opened him anyway. It's nice to actually complete a subcollection within DCUC (though I would dig a SP design Kalibak) but this is yet another figure from this wave for only the most hopeless of collectors.
Mattel: Masters of the Universe Classic - Star Sisters
This is arguably the most controversial release from the popular MotUC line because... well, who gives a damn about these characters? From what I understand they appeared in only one episode of She-Ra and might not even had their original figures released. So, following the awesome over-sized and multi-packs of the previous year to find out this is what we were stuck with was definitely a huge disappointment and gave major pause towards signing up for the subscription. These three are, obviously, She-Ra characters and come out in one hefty blow costing almost $80 including shipping. That makes them a slightly better deal than the average MotUC figure but still more than they're worth, especially since most would have passed on them if not for the sub. I was on the fence about these but finally a healthy dose of "I like bright colors" plus "the She-Ra display could use some plus-ing" and "oh, screw it" lead me to open them rather than not. Jewelstar is the all-pink one with the gems. I do like translucent plastic so the see-through gems are a plus. The highlight is her translucent purple cape with a few pearlescent green sprays over it giving a nice "oily" refractive color. Starla is the fiery looking one. Like Jewelstar she gets a new torso and waist cover plus new forearms, shins and head. This is the least interesting of the three to me just cause the colors do little for me. Tallstar is the fake Rainbow Bright in the blue and purple. I believe everything but the hands, feet and waist are new on her. The original figure had an "extending limb" play feature which is alluded to her with extra pieces to extend the neck, forearm and shins. Each extension is about ¼" long and in all honestly I'm not sure how I feel about them. Nice variation or just awkward proportioning? Each figure comes with the same star staff in a character specific translucent color. Also included is a pink, maned bird named "Glorybird" (which seems like it should be something inappropriate) and, thankfully, a stand. All in all they're fine figures, but are only worth having because the subscription gives us precious little alternative.