This week, we open with a quote. Taken from The Fry Chronicles, master wordsmith, humorist and all-around swell chap Stephen Fry sums up his "sugar dependency" with words quite apropos to my own thoughts on obsessive collecting: "The fact of it is an indictment of nothing and a lesson to nobody. Nor is it satisfactorily explicable. I have given you the outline of it but that does not suggest necessary or sufficient cause for so compulsive and all-consuming an addiction." And so it is that I own so many terrible toys.
DST - Marvel Minimates: Armored Thor & Beta Ray Bill
Since I was able to pick up the two Specialty Market exclusive sets from this Thor/Cap series it was back to Toys R Us to buy up the balance of the sets for total completion! Beta Ray Bill is identical to the one in the Stormbreaker set from SDCC last year, which is a bummer and really undercuts the value of that set as he was basically the anchor. At least this one gets slightly different paint. Tons of new pieces here, but the most surprising thing is that the fully unique head doesn't bother me at all - I feel like thats starting to tread in some dangerous areas for me... Armored Thor is, well, just that. He comes with alternate beautiful, long, blonde hair. Both figures get their signature weapons and a high volume of new tooling. They're certainly "busy looking" figures but are pretty cool. They're just visually too similar, I fear, to really get excited about as a pairing for this set.
DST - Marvel Minimates: Civil War Captain America & Arnim Zola
With the release of the movie last year everyone is now going Zola crazy and this is a pretty fun addition to the line. It's a great use of the existing "poofy shoulders" arms and with a single new torso cover and head (yes, that camera is a turnable, removable piece) - this is an excellent Minimate. Cap is at once both great and weak. One really feel like they're stretching things pretty thin here to get a variant but with his pack-ins he may be the best Cap yet. You get The Man in a nice lighter blue, which I strongly prefer for Cap, a removable jacket, alternate un-jacketed arms, interchangeable hair, mask and Ultimate WW2 Cap helmet, plus the signature shield - nice! If only he included alternate left arm pieces for a "just glove" look we'd be cooking with gas. As is, your options are shield-on or looks-odd.
DST - Marvel vs Capcom Minimates: Sentinel & First Appearance Ryu
MvC3 Series 2 just hit TRU. First up is Street Fighter's Ryu, one of the few game character I actually recognize, but now with silly red hair... ooookay. He comes with the "Haidukan" (or whatever the spelling is) blue energy burst and the flying base, a very awesome touch! Sadly the only why to keep in the air while Haidukan-ing is to have the base on the same side as the blast, so no flying kick action here. The real star of the set is the awesome new Sentinel. I dig its bulkiness. I'd love to get one or two more, but definitely don't want any more Ryus, alas. I'm a little surprised the Sentinel gets no accessories but he looks cool enough that that's no problem. Well, he does get a generi-base but surprisingly it is a new sculpt from the one we saw in MvC3 Series 1. It has a smaller circumference, which I like, but a peg too wide for the feet to fit on.... Man, DST just can't catch any breaks.
DST - Marvel vs Capcom Minimates: Taskmaster & Nathan Spencer
Two more characters I recognize! Yay! This is the second Taskmaster Minimate and it is certainly an improvement, at least in terms of the evolving aesthetic of the brand. In fact, this continues the trend from Series 1 by being a perfect/the definitive Taskmaster Minimate. He uses the Moon Knight cape and cowl but includes all the same old accessories - sword, arrow, bow and shield. He too gets a generi-base his pegholes can't even begin to fit on. Argh and sigh and argh. The other dude I recognize from NECA's Bio-Commander figure. This guy gets new boots and a left arm, the latter of a sculpt good enough that even I won't complain about it! The boots are a bit too bulky and make it pretty tricky to get him on his all-new base. That's right, finally a "running dustcloud" base! This is getting donated to The Flash post-haste!
Hasbro - Spider-man: Black Costume Spider-man
I've been coveting this figure since its release but was, clearly, slow on the uptake. I think it's definitely the best sculpt and, by far, the best paint for a Black Spidey. At long last no horrible white or blue spray - just a stellar light-metallic sheen to add a bit of depth - it's truly a thing of beauty. But, of course, it's suffers in one area so greatly that it's very hard to recommend - articulation. Standard Hasbro balljoints throughout, but nothing at the wrists or ankles!? Double-you. Tee. Eff. In the biggest and hardest way. He also gets a triangular mess of black webbing that is some sort of glider or surf board or what not. At $12-$15 and missing such horrible crucial articulation for this character it's really hard to recommend him, but the paint is really topnotch.
Hasbro - Star Wars: Aurra Sing
Wow. Seriously. This figure is awesome. I have a pretty strong dislike of Aurra Sing - she has a thoughtless laughable design and was such a horribly painful grab at "let's forcibly create a new Boba Fett fan-favorite character" that... well I still bought the damn thing, though. I believe this is a 100% new sculpt (but might share some body parts with the Clone Wars figure) and she gets some great articulation, a true plethora of accessories and a shockingly accurate likeness! The figure is totally worth getting on its own merits but then add in a rifle, two blasters, a sabre case and three lightsaber hilts and this figure is near un-miss-able! My only complaint is that the Obi-Wan hilt can't fit in the case without being bent but beyond that I have to constantly remind myself that I hate the very idea of this character as to keep from getting a second one.
Hasbro - Star Wars: G8-R3
The only true exclusive figure to this Walmart-only series, aside from Mr. Ric Olie, this is just a repaint of a Build-a-Droid figure and comes with the Astromech restraint/holder from The Phantom Menace. The figure is a nice but excessive droid, and it's pretty darn offensive they didn't retool the B.A.D. body to get rid of the lower "arm plugs." But hey, the restraint thing is neat and one can never really have enough of those.
Hasbro - Star Wars: Gungan Soldier
For some horrible and inconceivable trick of the cruelest of all fates I am addicted to Gungans. I know... I know... I have, like, six of those Trumpet guys, lord help me. This figure takes that one as a base and folds in a few new pieces, new paint and new accessories to make a new Gruntgan (OH YES folks - puns, LOVE IT). He gets a far-better-than-it-should be set of Gungan binoculars, which he can just almost hold correctly, plus a giant spear what comes in two pieces. Both are exceptionally well detailed in sculpt. I dig this guy a whole lot and will happily buy as many as I can find, though I do wish for an upgrade to the first Gungan soldier with the shield and orb-mace.
Lego - Friends Car
The first Friends bag was the most offensive release in Lego history - a mini-fig and a 2x2 brick for $5. This one comes in at the same price but now features a mini-fig and buildable "car." It's more like a go-kart based on the scale-to-figure, but what're ya going to do? It's a fun little thing and fits well into the line. Since these girls don't have stud-holes (whoa! that's... um... well, the pegs on Lego bricks are officially called studs... so... um...) she gets what appears to be an all new piece for holding her in place - a 2x1 smooth flat brick with a divider wall running down the middle which fits between her feet. Pretty neat.
Lego - Police Boat
Now this is a perfect polybag set! A very cool mini-fig that even includes an accessory, and a neat, plausible and theme-fitting vehicle. The boat is simple and small but still feels properly in scale and is a nice little construct. He will 100% be patrolling my lighthouse set-up. I might even pick up one or two more, I like the boat enough and especially dig the "don't mess with me, boy" sheriff.
Lego - Police Plane
Aaaand this is a terrible ploybag. What the heck is that thing and why would anybody ride in it? What good is it to the Police? It's just a Red Bull Challenge fail. But whatever, it's a Lego Polybag and I'm a slut. I actively dislike the mini-figure and assume I'll be able to cannibalize the bricks into other builds. Lets us hope. Get this for you kids if you're mad at them.
McFarlane - Halo Reach: Brute Major
Target, thank you! Halo figures for $8, including the brand new series? A'dontmindifIdo! As is well documented I have a soft spot for the big guys and end up buying most every Brute. This one has minimal but cool-looking armor. As is the standard for most McFarlane mistakes these days (remember when they used to make figures instead?) the articulation is plentiful but useless and the accessory can only be pseudo-held by one finger. It is an attitude. This line is just a phenomenal case-in-point against computer-based sculpting. Clearly they designed the thing digitally and just assumed the joints would all work, as opposed to crafting it by hand and knowing they would work. Anyway, it's a cool figure for $8.
McFarlane - Halo Reach: Sabre Pilot
I do love troop figures and thus, for $8, was happy to pick up this figure I knew would disappoint me - and indeed it does. If you have the previous series' "human troop" guy then you have this guy, only with different paint and a bit more armor plated glued on. It's decent enough until you add the gun into the mix. Rarely can these figures hold their weapons (hands are too open) and worst of all is the continued, abysmal lack of bicep joints which means there is no hope of a two-handed grip. It truly, truly boggles the mind that ol' McF has still has not retooled the arms to include that feature. It is crucial for such a figure. But then again, if we want a toy we know all too well to steer clear of McFarlane. It's pitiable how far he has fallen.