A couple weeks back I had the pleasure of spending some time in the greater Boston area. Not only did this mean the chance for some choice hunting across new-to-me grounds, but the ability to do so in a Pack (combining with the forces of Mr. Poe Ghostal and Mssr. Prfttear). We hit several of the "first run" stores (like Toys R Us and Walmart as well as some of the more regional favorites like Five Below and Newbury Comics) as well as a couple "collector stores" (most notably the fabulous Comicazi). Thus, a hearty haul of both old and new - all for you, my dear readers.
Art Asylum - Star Trek Minimates: "Trouble with Tribbles" Kirk
Nostalgia... ain't it great? I miss the old the Art Asylum days, or at least the birth of Minimates. There's a lot to like about these 3" tall 'mates and this was one of the "rarer" in that is was an online exclusive to Figures.com. The figure is in essence the same Minimate we all know and love, but the larger size allows for more robust joints and thus much better range of articulation. He comes with a phaser, a string of Tribbles (that's right - they're all sewn onto a string, which is an interesting concept but ultimately renders it more of a tribble-boa) and then puzzle-piece base common of all of those early releases. This a great figure and definite hole in my collection - now all I need is Mugatu and my set is complete!
DST - Avengers Minimates: Maria Hill & Chitauri Soldier
I thought Cobie Smulders was pretty good casting for Maria and while her performance was a bit bland (just like ALL S.H.I.E.L.D. personnel in The Avengers) I'm quite looking forward to seeing her role expanded across (hopefully) the next series of Marvel films. This figure does a good job of capturing her look. She comes wearing a gun holster and the set comes with a handgun for her, a rifle for the Chitauri and one clear stand.
DST - Avengers Minimates: Chitauri General & Soldier
The Chitauri were and interesting choice for the film if not a bit of a cheat, but they needed aliens and probably want to prematurely "use up" any of the more famous races, not to mention the Skrulls and Shi'Ar, etc, may be tied up in murky gray-area rights issues related to the X-Men and Fantastic Four rights held by other studios. These 'mates do a good job of capturing the overall look of the monsters, and I quite like the variant set having the General, to pad out the army. He gets a unique helmet, torso piece and not-supersoaker gun while the Soldier gets the ridiculously long rifle, and the set include a single clear stand.
Hasbro - GI Joe: Retaliation: Snake-Eyes
Yeah... so that happened. I'll still be getting the figures I was planning on anyway regardless of the false perception of rarity (well, the $10 pricetag has me being a far more choosier shopper) and started off with ol' Snakesy here. The figure is pretty nondescript, and actually fairly boring, in the pantheon of Snake-Eyes figures and as a result I have very little to say about it, almost to the point of regretting getting it. There's just nothing that feels new or special about this one. He gets his sword and a blue machine gun in addition to a winged backpack thing. I actually dig the the overall design of the (missile launching) wings, which are connected via balljoints and thus a lot of fun to pose. Alas, the thing is just so heavy there's no way he can stand while wearing it.
Lego - Exclusives: Lego Brand Retail Store
OKAY, so - I love micro scale builds, and I love models of real world things and I love just about any type of toy buying, so this set nigh on blew my mind when it was revealed, but of course something this cool comes with a substantive catch... it's only available at a handful of Lego stores as part of their grand openings this summer. By sheer and utter dumb luck I happened to be in Boston when one of those stores had their grand opening and thus... it is mine. It's a fun build and more intricate (i.e. uses more bricks) than one would expect just from looking at it. It has all of the familiar attributes of a Lego Store, though scale, volume and orientations are sacrificed a bit. The roof is easily removable (it connects only by a single stud in each corner) and the "doors" don't actually work, they are simply built from transparent bricks. I just wish they have printed the Lego logo on the flat 2x2 panel rather using a sticker. This set was available, one per customer, on Saturday only and was free with a $35 purchase! Thats just... pretty much it's the best Lego deal ever!
Lego - Lord of the Rings: Gandalf Arrives
Lord of the Rings + Lego = broke Rustin. So far I've only picked up these two sets, but this could finally be the true diorama & army-building line that the other toy ranges never panned out to become. This is the "cheap" set of the first wave of products and $13 it's not that cheap. It does, though, have the only Gandalf available as of yet and a unique Frodo (well, not for long, there is a polybag coming eventually that has him as well). Gandalf gets a newly sculpted beard while Frodo has the new hobbit hair and comes with two alternate faces. Included is one of the new horses, now with rearing action, and of course, the cart. The latter is a more complex build that it looks, which helps justify the price, and the barrel'o'fireworks is fun (kudos for the red snake as the dragon). It's a nice set and a good starter for any LotR fan you might know.
Lego - Lord of the Rings: Shelob Attacks
You're going to get this because you need Sam and Golum, but I gotta tell you - this Shelob rules. It is by far the best Lego Spider ever done. Plus her web is winch which works via a gray dial on the underside of her... butt. It to is one of the best Lego gear/winches I've yet played with. Pretty simple but innovative leg design too. Both Sam and Frodo get alternate faces (including Zombie Frodo) but I gotta say I'm none too keen on Gollum. Just a little too... narrow for me. Still a surprisingly great set.
Lego - Lord of the Rings: Uruk Hai Army
Aaaawww yeeeaaaah. I've been trying to amass a substantive Helm's Deep Uruk Hai force ever since seeing The Two Towers and now, at last, I might just be able to! This set is totally genius - you get all you need to stage a little battle/siege, but it is modular allowing you to really stretch out that wall! The wall section actually a pretty complicated build because it's all done with bricks - no castle panels here! While this approach makes for a very pretty look I can't help but think that had they just gone with panels they could have knocked $5 off the price, or at least included another fig or two). The Uruks get a big ballista, which toys seem to insist was part of the battle, but I certainly don't recall it. It's a nice design and understandable for the "play pattern" but again I'd have rather had more figs or a lower price. There are four Uruk Hais, but only three helmets and two torso armors, which makes for an inconsistent army - a Rustin no-no. You also get a Rohan Solider and Eomer, both are great but Eomer essentially ruins the set by being a specific character and thus notably lessening the armybuildability of the overall thing.
Lego - Monster Fighters: Mummy
Ironically the two sets from Monster Fighters I was least interested in were also the two cheapest. The good news is that they're better than they look. The problem here is the Mummy is a bland, poor follow-up to the excellent Egyptian-themed line they did a year or two ago. At least his chariot ended up being cool, plus it comes with a skeleton horse! The horse glows in the dark and it actually holds its "glow" surprisingly well (I recently noted it still shone distinctly over 2 hours after lights-out). The mini-fig has g.i.t.d. paint under his face and torso deco which means he only selectively glows, and that is weird. The Fightin' Female figure is pretty cool (she gets two faces) and I like the arrow in the hair gag. I had hated her helicopter up until I completed building it, and now I do kind of dig it. This is the most missable set mainly just because we have plenty of better mummies and while neat there's not that much special about the remainder of the set that we can't get elsewhere.
Lego - Monster Fighters: Swamp Creature
This is the final monster never touched upon in the Collectible Mini-Figure line so I was waiting with baited breath (yes baited, not bated - 'cause he's a fish, see?) and now that I have him.... disappointed is the word. After the cool snakes in Ninjago and awesome Space Police aliens and Atlantis mutants I'm fairly shocked that this is the best design they could come up with. He comes with a bit of swamp... something (not sure if it's above or below water) which is nice enough. His fighter is a hokey Greaser who fortunately gets two faces so that you're not stuck with that terribly sunglasses and smirk nightmare in the press photos. Much like the helicopter above, I was loathing the airboat but have grown to like it once getting it in hand. This set runs for $7-8 which means you could armybuild a Swamp Creature army, were you of the mind.
Mattel - The Dark Knight Rises: Batman
Found this at Walmart for $6 and decided, "what the heck." Of course, then I saw it at Target for $5 and in a much better Target exclusive five figure multi-pack. This is the same 4" figure released with The Dark Knight so in all reality I should have not got it. He comes with an oversized batarang and non-firing grapple gun. I'm very, very happy to see Mattel dropping their pricepoint on their B.S. figures and I'd love to see them expand backwards and fold in some Batman Begins characters in this scale/pricepoint too.
McFarlane - Sleepy Hollow: Ichabod Crane
This figure is 13 years old - now I bet you feel old. It's very remarkable that it essentially looks quite current in its sculpt and detail. You might expect a better Johnny Depp likeness, more malleable hands and some balljoints, but overall if McFarlane, or maybe NECA, put this out today you wouldn't really think twice about it. Of course I already had one from way back when, but come on - look at all those accessories! It's just obscene - well, technically what's obscene is that he can't hold any of them really. My favorite is by far the bag, which has fold-down flaps on either side and opens in the middle so that you can raise up the rack of bottles. So very cool.
Mezco - 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Control Room Nemo
Oh my god... I mean... come on. Come the heck on. On Judgement Day, when all us toy sites do the Best Toys of All Time lists this thing will rank way up at the top for everyone. It's just unbearably phenomenal. I got it open to the point of laying out the base segments and just realized there was way too many pieces to risk loosing or breaking and the base was so big I just don't presently have room for it, but oh man, soon... soon... I also really, really like the packaging.
Playmates - Star Trek: "Trials & Tribble-ations" Chief O'Brien
Huzzah!!! Trials and Tribble-ations set complete! Since he's the coolest character O'Brien was shortpacked and thus has been nigh impossible to get at a reasonable price on the secondary market. But there he was, hanging pleasantly on Comicazi's giant $10 walls! The Playmates Star Trek line is officially what transitioned me from Kid to Collector so between that and my love of Trek I'm a big fan of this oddly stylized line. Miles comes with a slew of semi-reasonably accessories, including two tribbles cast in black plastic. Sadly, his feet are oddly posed so he pretty much only stands with his base, but I can happily accept that.
Stan Winston Studios - Brotherhood of the Wolf: Trakk
I scored this dude for $10 in some mall-based collector store and was super psyched until I opened him and realized he was missing his gauntlet piece. Damn it! Disregarding that obvious and terrible flaw this a great figure. A ton of plastic and pretty good paint, I would have preferred hinges at the elbows and bicep swivels, but the swivels are acceptable. He has swivels right underneath his hinged knees so that's almost a balljoint. I dig the stone base and the helm and didn't realize his dagger was removable, so bonus on that front! This a pretty fun (in concept and design) figure.
Although overpriced for it's time, the Stan Winston toylines were some of the greatest that I've ever seen, as far as new intellectual properties and toy designs go. I don't think we'll ever see a better werewolf figure than Vereticus, and Oswana just makes Chief Carnivus or Bronze Tiger look dime store.
They were the best of McFarlane and a reasonable version of Toybiz mixed with the talent for integration of articulation and design that NECA is only now showing themselves even remotely capable of.
Man, Stan Winston himself was amazing. He took something that God, or whichever omnipotent being you prefer, designed and managed to create the way that an entire species will think of it until Steven Spielberg is long dead and buried.
I'm still kinda jealous you found that 20K set, it really was a diamond in the rough!
I completely disagree with you on the Swamp Monster, I love how he came out! The headpiece is so unique and the head is absurdly creepy. It reminds me of Brak or Zorak for some reason.
The mummy set I got solely for the skeleton horse (I only had one), but I ended up loving the female vampire hunter. The corset torso is stunningly details for a LEGO set.
As for LOTR, I picked up the entire line over the last few weeks and really love it. Shelob is especially incredible, I mean Aragog from Hagrid's Hut was only two years ago and doesn't even compare! If you end up getting the bigger sets, you'll be getting more impressed. Moria turned out far more impressive than I imagined.
With the cool Star Wars sets coming out this summer I can't afford to get into Lego LOTR, but I was still going to grab a Gandalf. Then I saw how they did the big wrinkles on his face, and he just looks like an unmasked Darth Vader or something to me. I know it's too small a detail to be this picky about, but it just put me off the minifig completely for some reason.
I did grab that Keaton-style Batman polybag you showed on here a while back though, so thanks for bringing that to my attention.
What stores did you hit around the Boston area? I visit family there every Spring and Summer and should really give P-man and Mr. Poe a shout sometime. I usually get a Newbury Comics run in Danvers and a Harris Comics run in Salem. That's about it for me.
That wee Dark Knight is perfect scale to the first movie Tumbler we got. And the 2nd movie Tumbler. I could branch out to the BatPod this go around. I too like the $5 price point on these and ever the $9-$10 price for the more accessorized figures ain't bad.
I picked up those 2 lego monster sets to whet my appetite. Lego + Monsters = Awesome. My 2 boys age 9 and 6 really enjoyed the build and have been playing with them a bit. I like the vampire Hearse Rod. That line could get real expensive though. I see Drac's castle is out now and there's a Haunted House coming in October! My big lego money goes to Lego 3-in-1 Creator sets and Lego 2-in-1 or 3-in-1 Technic sets the bigger the awesomer. Not sure how to budget out for Lego Monsters.
Grab the Retaliation three-packs if you can find them instead of the singles. Those are some incredibly good value - $48 for six figures that have better sculpts and accessories than the single pack line. Kamakura's great, Beachhead is great (although oddly de-saturated), and Roadblock's... well, not as awesome as that Series 2 one that's making the rounds, but he'll do for now and actually looks nothing like the Rock facially so he won't look strange standing next to the "real" version.
The only worthwhile single-pack purchases are the Joe Trooper (aka pretty much the best thing since sliced bread), and MAYBE Zartan and the Red Ninja.
1. You should drop us a line the next time you’re in Bean Town! I can’t speak for Rustin cuz he and Poe had already been on the hunt for a while before spED and I joined them. We did hit up Harrison’s Comics in Salem. Also made it to Comicazi at Davis Square in Somerville.
2. I’m interested in that Swamp Creature… I doubt we’ll ever get Creature from the Black Lagoon, so this is as close as we’ll get.
I watched a video on the Haunted House… that thing looks incredible! Its gonna retail for a buck eighty tho…
All the more reason for me to ask for it as a birthday present.
So many Hobbits!