Strap in OAFErs - I've got some lost time to make up for so this is another long one.
DST - Halo Minimates: Arbiter (Ripa 'Moramee) & Prophet of Mercy
The Arbiter has one of my more favorite armors, as it is all scroll-work and knightly looking. It's captured well enough here and he gets a laser prong thingie. The Prophet is a neat all-new sculpt that we almost didn't get but I like how DST popped one in the 4-pack and a different paint scheme here thus eliminating any sting of double-dipping. I usually gripe to high hell about overly detailed Minimate sculpts, but by Series 4 here I've pretty much accepted it and enjoy these for what they are. A very interesting twist is that both come with what I believe is an all-new waist piece! It removes the horizontal hip portions and extends up taller adding some of the "Cylon-Extender" height to the figure. Basically it's just a flat rectangle with a torso-peg at one end and two hip pegs at the other. I'm not entirely sold on it, but we'll see what the guys have planned for it over coming releases.
DST - Halo Minimates: Shipmaster (Rtas 'Vadam) & Brute War Chieftan
I know I have a McFarlane version of the Chieftan and I think I have the Shipmaster too. Both are strong sculpts and feature mostly unique/new armor. The Brute gets one of the big ole club/axe things while the Shipmaster gets both a laser prong thingie and one of the golden missile launcher looking deals. Not bad. Posing is limited due to the bulky sculpts, of course. I can easily point to the Brute's head as a perfect example of why I hate such detailed sculpts - the face looks terribly out of place surrounded by the hyper-detailed helmet. I wish this line was handled more like the Iron Men of late, reducing the armor and upping the paint detail, but as I say, I accept it for this line and move on.
DST - Halo Minimates: Spartan Hyabusa (Red) & ODST (Rookie)
The Hyabusa is neat, and I think it's the first version in Minimate form which is cute since the first one McFarlane did was red too. But where is the katana!? I suppose Deadpool will be subbing one out now. I've fallen quite thoroughly for the ODST armor over the years and am pleased to get another one here in Minimate form. There's only a black head under both helmets, which looks a bit odd with the Rookie's exposed fingers. Still though, nice additions and sentimentally cute as they remind me much of the McFarlane releases.
DST - Marvel Minimates: Avengers 4-Pack
A Disney/Marvel Store exclusive, this set pulls a couple figures form the recent Series 44 but adds a couple unique ones to force you to buy it. You get "Heroes Return" Iron Man and Thor, the former being the better in that he's a unique, fun armor, while Thor is just another Thor. Iron Man gets a blue flight base while Thor gets two heads and two hair pieces, one without helmet with hair a little too long to fit over the cape, plus Mjolnir and the cool new "spinning mjolnir" (which is sadly a bit difficult to fit into his forearm). Fortunately both figures get alternate looks so being forced to double-up isn't so bad. Hawkeye and Grim Reaper are both exclusive to this set, with the later being a first-timer for Minimates. Hawkeye is, effectively, perfect. Other than the armbands, he gets all new sculpts with the arrows and bow from the Avengers movie 'mate, his quiver has sculpted in arrows and room for the spares, plus an alternate hairpiece. Grim Reaper gets no extras, but he doesn't really need any. A cool new helmet piece and his awesome scythe make this an excellent addition to shelf! And he reminds me dearly of ToyBiz and cartoons in the mid 90s.
Hasbro - Superhero Squad: The Amazing Spider-man: Escape From Lizard's Lair
I thought Superhero Squad was supposed to be dead... oh well, new toys are always cool. I'm pretty sure Gwen is a repaint of a previously designed but unreleased comicbook version of the character while Spidey and the Lizard are new sculpts. They have pretty strong paint, considering the line, but absolutely no articulation. I got this set because it was the first Amazing Spider-man merch I came across, I have a big Superhero Squad collection and Spider-man and Lizard turned out pretty darn well. I'd recommend it on that criteria, and that criteria alone - so comfortably hold-off if any combination of those 3 don't apply to you.
Hasbro - Star Wars: Jar-Jar Binks
This is the first Jar-Jar that Hasbro has put out in about 11 years, and it's a pretty solid update. He comes in the Movie Heroes line, which is "targeted to kids," aka has ridiculous big missile launchers and limited articulation. Like almost all of Hasbro's licensed work of late we get a T-crotch with balljoints at the head, shoulders, elbows and knees. As always, I'm pleased with the balljoints but the lack of wrist and especially ankle articulation severely limits what good poses can be got. Binksy has nice sculptural detailing throughout, of which I'm always a fan, but this particular figure has fairly "iffy" paint. I still got it cause it's the only one I've seen in person, though. However, from what I can tell from photos, every one of these Jar-Jars is noticeably crosseyed. I mainly got it because it's new, an infamous character, and I could certainly find a place for him in my display. There is, supposedly, a properly done Jar-Jar coming later this year in the Vintage line so I'd say just wait for that one.
Hasbro - Star Wars: Queen Amidala
Much like Jar-Jar this a necessary update. Originally released back in 1999 with the Episode I industry-killer line, it was our only version of the "Queen" for a couple of years (there was a Tatooine Disguise Padme though), so that one suffers from a relatively dated aesthetic by today's standard. This one too suffers, from the new standard Hasbro/Movie Heroes articulation and some conspicuously heavy texturing on her clothes. The likeness is reasonable and certainly capture the recognizable Portman hairline, though the face is only okay. She comes with a great new grapple-blaster and a little backpack encasing a string which lets her slide hither and thither... It's a much needed update to a notable costume, but not a particularly great one.
Hasbro - Thor: Destroyer
I kept holding out hope that I'd find one of the 8" figures but have now given up. The week after Avengers came out both of my local Toys R Us'es were swimming in "Series 2" from the Thor movie, so tons of Warriors Three and Destoryers but none of the harder-to-find, more-desirable Armored Loki, Sif or Laufey. So's anyway I picked this up for $10 and... well I just needed the character represented. The sculpt is pretty solid but it's ruined by some very strange production choices. The most noticeable is that the head is cast in clear plastic with a thin gray wash over it. The torso holds a light-up feature to illuminate a red light in his chest in order to recreate that awesome part were Destroyer's heart glowed so brilliantly his head became see-through... yep. Presumably a result of the electronics is sadly limited articulation. Plus, he's woefully out of scale. They would have been infinitely better off doing a properly articulated and painted figure then including a "face blast" missile launcher, that could fit around his head.
Lego - Dinos: Tower Takedown
Like the Triceratops set below, this one includes an exclusive dino - most beasts get double releases but no such luck for Johnny Pterodactyl here. Here's a great sculpt and perfect melding of history and Lego Style. The bottom jaw is rubber and plugs into place and the top of the head can be tilted back and forward for biting. Each wing is poseable and uses a universal Lego clip/rod so you can apply these elsewhere. I really, really wish the whole head was poseable so that you can have this guy in landed pose, but alas. There is a push-action net launcher on the tower, which works reasonably well. A small jet ski vehicle is provided for the "hunter" guy and it's a serviceable design and build. I really dig a printed flat in the tower with a unique Pterodactyl computer screen. It's great to see something non-generic! This is a great set, but one I will be using for Jurassic Park fodder rather than keeping together.
Lego - Dinos: Triceratops Trapper
I've really taken a very strong liking to Lego's recent Dinos theme and fully plan to build my own little not-Jurassic Park based around it. I'm generally not interested in wheeled vehicles at all but this "transporter" has a very cool, Aliens-esque design and feel to it. I love its bulk - it really does look like something that could effectively haul about dinosaurs. Plus, it has a removable Dino cage! Now you can mimic your own "shooooot heeeeerrrr" scene - with Legos! The cage is just a little too small though, being exactly the size of the Triceratops, so that infringes on the "realism." The real selling point, though, of this and indeed the whole line are the absolutely stellar dinosaurs! The designers impeccably nailed truly perfect blend of reality and Lego aesthetic in these (were only the Playmobil dinos as good)! The Trike is built of six pieces - the body, the four legs (each attached by a standard Lego peg) and the head, which comes in a separate cardboard box to preserve the horns and attaches via a neck-peg with a ratcheted hinge at the skull. It's practically worth getting this set for this guy alone, but the truck is cool enough too that the $50 price tag isn't that bad to swallow (considering Lego's naturally high prices). I highly recommend this one!
Lego - Marvel: Hulk's Helicarrier Breakout
I think we can all pretty much agree that Hulk was the best thing about The Avengers so it should come as no surprise that I picked up this set (though I would have gotten it either way). It's basically an all-in-one depiction or SHIELD's Helicarrier, and does a decent job of pulling it off. I really dig how they made Loki's spear out of existing parts. I love that Lego has its own brand of gas and that it's represented here (as the launch-able white/red/green barrels). Also included is a jet fighter which looks remarkably cool thanks to the wings and angled foils. But the real reason to get this are the Mini-figures. Thor and Hawkeye are each fine additions, both with two faces and a new weapon sculpt. Loki is a personal favorite thanks to the all-new helmet with my beloved horns, but it's the Hulk that's going to sell this set. He's out-of-scale huge, but that's okay. He has only four points of articulation - shoulders and wrists - which is also not too bad. He has standard accessory sized grips in his hands, plus larger slot that fit any mini-fig's legs! There's a lot of good stuff here, but seeing as the figures are it's key appeal, the $50 price is a bit of a tough sell.
Lego - Marvel: Hulk Minifigure
Lego Stores were doing a promotion for the first half of May wherein you spend $50 and you get a free Hulk mini-figure. Being a Marvel, Lego and Mini-Figure fan I was, of course, all in (and hmm, I've also reviewed two $50 sets this week...). It's a pretty great mini-fig rendition of "The Other Guy" is his classic tv appearance. Sadly the purple pants are only painted on the front of the legs, so I guess this is Streakin' Hulk. My only "issue" with the figure is the hair, which is the same mold used for the Hobbits in the upcoming LotR line - it's just a little too big and fro-y for me. Still though, this is a great figure and an exceptionally welcome addition to the collection.
Mattel - Batman: Swap Raider Killer Croc
The Batman merchandise juggernaut just got into town for Memorial Day weekend and that includes the launch of the new "Kid & Mom Friendly" generi-Batman line. We'll see how it does, I have mixed feelings. As long as there are villains, I'll be good. I nabbed this Croc (who is clearly labeled with the "Kid & Mom Friendly" adjective "Killer") which I fret may be 1 per case based on what I saw, and was surprised to find him constructed entirely out of soft, almost rubbery, plastic. He's got swivel shoulders, hinged elbows and T-crotch. That's it. The bottom jaw is a separate piece but is only poseable insofar as it's a very pliable rubber. The tail is a separate piece that doesn't do anything. This is only worth getting if you like the design. Fortunately some of the packaging in the store showed a decent looking Mr. Freeze is next up.
Mattel - The Dark Knight Rises: Movie Masters Bane
I was shocked to find this guy, and indeed they had only one. He's pretty much exactly what you'd expect from a Movie Masters figure in terms of sculpt and articulation. There are no biceps which are very painfully missed but the coat seems more textured than normal, which I like. What's really surprising is the high quality paint. The torso, legs and arms are of "standard" quality while the torso portion of the coat is "good," but the head... it's great. Not only lots of very good, clean, crisply done detail work (the eyes in particular are great) but the scalp is at least two-tone for a very naturalistic shaved-head look! Good going, Mattel! He comes with part "2" of the Batsignal, the yoke that holds the actual light.
Mattel - The Dark Knight Rises: Movie Masters Batman
The biggest question I have is "is that the same sculpt as The Dark Knight?" And from what I can tell, I think it's all-new. I'll have to dig out my TDK figure for a proper comparison but in hand it does look subtly different and more detailed enough to make me think it's not just a repaint. The suit also comes in a more glossy black than the previous line which does look A LOT better. The head even has some proper balljoint motion to it! He comes with part "1" of the Batsignal, which is the base for the piece what comes with Bane. The Target I found these at had 1 Bane and 2 Batmen, which makes me VERY worried we're looking at a case pack of 3 Batmen, 2 Bane and 1 Alfred... so much for completing that Batsignal, if that's the case.
UPDATE - I checked and it's 100% the same sculpt as the TDK figure
Mattel - Young Justice: Aqualad
You know how you can tell a line is really over? You find it at 50% discount at Target. While most stores I've been to have the 6" Young Justice figures clearanced for $16 the first one I went to had them for $11 each, so... sold. Aqualad is the only one I was really interested in because I have a thing for Aquaman and translucent blue plastic. The figure isn't too bad but due to horrible action pose in the package his legs are terribly warped. On the upshot though is a ton of accessories, though the hilts aren't painted to match the removable ones from his backpack unfortunately. The real selling point on the line are the large bases but, as yo pointed out the water stream is PERMANENTLY attached to the pipe, so... it's pretty useless as an accessory AND as a base. Still though, for less than the cost of a DCUC figure I'll take it.
Mattel - Young Justice: Robin
I'd quite dig having Batman, but he'll be impossible to find, so I'll settle for Robin because he gets a rooftop base which is useful for any Matty/DC figure(s). I believe this is just a repaint of the "modern Robin" from early on in DCUC, so there you go. You get some nice accessories that are pan-Bat useful but it's really all about the base, which apparently Mattel knew so they dialed back hard. Compared to everything else in the line this base is overwhelmingly underwhelming, but I suppose that's the price for Matty making something useful.
Mattel - Young Justice: Superboy
I've still never scene an episode of Young Justice but that goopy, tech-y base is just cool! Plus, I dig the white jumpsuit. It's really a shame Mattel can't ever learn from its mistakes. Remember when no one bought the Public Enemies line because of the animated style heads? Yeah, no shocker this is on clearance. I think for this line to have worked they should have used the YJ designs but done DCUC-style heads. That'd actually have boosted broad collector interest and allowed them to slide in some characters, like Aqualad or Black-Shirt Superboy, they'd otherwise not do in DCUC. See, that's called synergy and cross-promotion. But what do I know, I'm just a Collector and don't understand the Big Corporate reasons behind repeatedly launching lines that fail.
NECA - E.T.: Galactic Friend E.T.
I've only seen E.T. once and didn't much care for it. I'd like to see it again to see if my current, older self can get into it better but we'll see when/if that happens. Regardless, this guy is a true Icon and that's more than enough to secure him a place in my collection. This is the "standard" E.T. and comes with a well sculpted and textured wrap around blanket (or towel?) and an unlabeled bag of candy. Obviously this is the famous Reese's Pieces and it's really too bad they couldn't secure the brand rights, as with the Rocky figures, or, as yo suggests make up their brand to fill in the conspicuous and ugly orange expanse (plus I don't like how limited the brown and yellow paint is on the actually candies). He also gets an alternate neck for "extendo head" action. Look, the disembodied necks look like Ox penises. That's just a fact. The worst part, though, is that it is nearly impossible to get the torso and head balls to snap into the neck holes, especially on the long neck. By which I mean after 10 minutes I gave up and struggled to get the short neck back on. It's a very good figure, and definitely worth adding to your collection (just don't fuss with the necks!).
NECA - Predator: Guardian Predator
I get that it's accurate to the movie but this guy is just a straight-up repaint of one the Predators from the last series (no armor or trophy switches) but now with the "Gort" mask and a disc plus the extended spear from the 2-pack. I just... Toys R Us charged me $18.50, before tax, for each of these and that's just obscene for repaints. Sure the paint is good, but... I just bought and opened these before I let myself really consider the purchase. And I should have just cut my loses and let the "Lost Tribe" stay lost.
NECA - Predator: Snake Predator
This one, too, is almost identical to a figure from the last series, but at least Snake gets a new loincloth, satchel and necklace. He also gets a disc and the collapsed spear from the last 2-pack (I'm so glad they're putting those weapons back out so that there is now even less of a reason to have spent $40 bucks on that damn set). Snake is the token "crappy paint" figure of the series because they couldn't be bothered to give him a base coat, so he has mildly translucent, shiny plastic skin. Sooo worth $20.... NOT.
NECA - Predator: Stalker Predator
Exactly the same as the Snake Predator except for his being the only unmasked figure in this series and two new over-the-torso pieces. He feels the least jipp-y of the bunch because his fur pelt-ish shoulder patch and belt are both big and totally unique (he does wear a familiar bone necklace though). Couldn't get at least get a new tool of an open disc/glave? All three are good figures but due to their very similar hues and exceptionally high volume of re-use they're not that impressive. It's the ridiculously high price tag that makes them wholly undesirable though.