Two big things happened this week - my friend and colleague took me to a collector store in his home town and Toys R Us slapped me in the face with a load of new arrivals. The collector store was a nice place, complete with regulars debating the distribution merits of Bowen Designs product and walls covered in figures - most of them from the '90s! Sadly the stock was predominantly easy-to-find stuff and most of it and slightly above reasonable prices. Still, I managed to snag three near-grails at very good prices!
DC Direct - Green Lantern: Effigy
About two weeks ago I was lamenting to myself the fact that I'd never have this figure and thus my DCD Green Lantern collection would be forever incomplete. He's become seemingly incredibly scarce of late so it was with great enthusiasm that I stumbled across him as I was just about to leave the collector store. This truly lesser villain is a fantastic sculpt by Jim Shoop and captures exactly why I fell in love with DCD: it's a nice simple pose with enough articulation to allow for a decent range of poses with a smooth finish for a convincing bodysuit but plenty of detail on the gloves and head. The paint is near immaculate and is half of what I love about this figure. The head and sword are cast in translucent clear plastic then accented with translucent orange paint for a nice effect (had it been tranny yellow plastic instead though this figure would be a solid 10 for me). I was very surprised to find a big emblem on his back, because I'd never seen nor heard of it and it has a very, very cool Saul Bass style to it. All in all this is a great figure and a right fitting Priest of R'Hllor.
DST - Expendables 2: TRU Boxset (Barney, Trench, Church, Booker)
Expendables 2 was only slightly better than the first and that was mainly because of JCVD's awesome turn as the villain. It made me realize the reason that JCVD and Dolph Lundgren are the only enjoyable things about this "franchise" is that they're the only guys having a good time doing it - every one else is just taking it too seriously, too stern and gritty. Oh well. Here we get Stallone, Willis, Schwarzenegger and Norris - together for the first time, together for the last time. While they're not the best actors or characters in the film this set 110% encapsulates the concept of Expendables so if you get only one boxset from the franchise make it this one. The likenesses are pretty solid, especially on Norris, and I like the combinations of outfits/colors - topless Stallone and his vibrant tats on both chest and back really bring this set home. And, as if that wasn't enough, you once again get a veritable arsenal; a total barrage of weapons! 13 in fact! This is just another case of "When Good Toys Happen to Bad Movies."
DST - Universal Select: Invisible Man
There is just something about the bandaged head and goggles that has drawn me ever since I was a kid. I was disappointed that Sideshow went with glasses rather than goggles and put him in a smoking jacket but DST has come along to right that wrong. However, that's about all this figure has going for it. Like with last year's Dracula the proportions are just off, the torso is too tall and broad to match the legs and arms. Then there is, of course, the lack of articulation (the bane of this line) with only six points (swivel head, waist and wrists, and balljointed shoulders). We once more get a figure with uneven feet and no way to right it. He does get a base but it does little to help since it too is uneven. Plus it has a bizarre "chess piece" border that in no way fits in with the rest of the series' "flat on the ground" bases. On the floor is a book and pile of bandages - both are clearly separate pieces but neither are removable - because there are no accessories to be had here! Sure accessories have been like articulation to this line but come on... At SDCC last year they showed a version of this figure which a small table, a bunch of bottles and an alternate, hollow head! Well, at least the hands are removable here, but it would be nice if the head was too - just for that full-on invisible effect.
DST - Universal Select: Metaluna Mutant
It's always weird for me to consider the Metaluna Mutant a "Universal Movie Monster," but he is undeniably part of the clan and certainly does fit the bill. Much like his brother, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Mutant is the pinnacle of design for his branch of Monster-dom ('50s Aliens). Series 3 marks a much needed (and sadly a bit too late) turning point for the line - actual articulation! The Mutant gets 17 points - almost three times every previous figure! We get swivels at the neck, shoulders, thighs and ankles plus hinged knees, T-Crotch with side hinges and two balljoints on each arm. So, so, so good. Sure the design of the beast limits the range on a lot, but it's still great to have (especially on the arms). The only problem, though, is sadly a big one - both hip joints are very loose (at least on mine) so this guy will only stay standing for a maximum of 10 minutes at a time. He does get a small base of rubble but it does little good - he's just so damn top heavy. If only he could stand this may well be my favorite figure in the entire line. But in all honesty, why do we need two? Just wait for the specialty market version and get the big Interlocitor accessory.
DST - Universal Select: Phantom of the Opera
DAMN. This series is a complete changing of the guard. First we have the the Invisible Man wrapping up the utter mediocrity from Series 1 and 2, then the Metaluna Mutant comes in with an army of articulation and now the Phantom sees that articulation and raises it with accessories. Not 1, or 2, or 3 but 10 pieces! He gets a hat, cape, violin, bow, cane, music stand, book, alternate right hand and two bases! There is a larger stone base with two pegs and a smaller one with one peg. The smaller base is for the music stand (which actually stands fine without it) but its peg also fits the Phantom, that is some very cool and much appreciated forethought. Plus, he gets 18 points of articulation, identical to the Mutant's save for balljoint shoulders, swivel biceps, balljoint elbow and swivel + hinge wrists. I do find the poses of all three hands awkward and difficult to work with for holding accessories, but it can be done with a little effort. This figure is fantastic and between the sculpt (again by Jean St.Jean I believe), articulation and accessories it is a steal for only $16. The only downside is that this version features the masked head, but frankly if you're collecting this line that shouldn't be too much of an issue, especially considering that with so many accessories it is 100% worth having multiple versions of this character for different poses. DST - This is precisely how you do the specialty/TRU versions - well played and keep it up!
Hasbro - Avengers: Chitauri
Yawn. Bought and opened before I had the wherewithal to note it's identical to the Deluxe version and should have returned it. Oh well, at least he comes with the ridiculous rifle from the movie. And hey, even that ludicrous second thumb doesn't obstruct him from holding it (though lack of elbow articulation means no natural poses for you!). He also gets a horrible trans green missile launching axe. Had only they used that money to give us the other Chitauri weapons from the film, and elbow articulation, then maybe it'd be worth armybuilding this figure. But a boring design and a $10 pricetag certainly helps talk me out of that folly.
Hasbro - Avengers: Hawkeye
I am now one step closer to completing the titular team, huzzah! Of course, though, it would be Hawkeye - the least interesting character in the film and an actor I don't much care for. The figure is surprisingly good, though - very well sculpted and detailed and has possibly the best likeness in the line (despite wearing sunglasses). He suffers the standard articulation of the line - which actually isn't that bad, all things considered, and far better than anything Mattel offers, I just really wish they offered something at the ankles if not the wrists too. He comes with three missiles, a pull-back-to-shoot launcher which can clip on to his bow, of which he gets two. That's pretty awesome! This way, not only are you not stuck with an awful accessory, you actually get two of a trademark weapon in case one gets lost or broken. This may not be my favorite figure in the line but between the quality of the figure and forward-thinking with accessories I'd contend this is the best figure they've released.
Lego - Monster Fighters: Ghost Polybag
Just in time for Halloween Target brings us quite possibly the coolest polybag all year! We get one of the new Ghosts and a Grandfather clock - both are pretty cool and definitely good for Monster Fighters but fully applicable to any theme/collection. The Ghost is a new sculpt very similar to the classic on but now with a little hood tail on the back of the head. The sheet is cast in glow-in-the-dark plastic but the torso and arms are just white. Instead of legs he gets a white 2x1 brick and two white circle/studs for feet, which is pretty cool especially since one can be swapped out for the end of the ball-and-chain piece - this maintains an even height with the sheet and leaves two holes for normal connecting. The clock is a fun little build and with more parts than I expected, and all of the bricks have plenty of use outside the build as is. This is truly a phenomenal set and worth having for anyone, and even is useful in multiples (I have four)!
Moore Action Collectibles - Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Vampire Spike
While I certainly don't like Buffy as much as many do, the greatness of James Marsters' Spike is undeniable and as soon as I saw his first episode the hunt began for the MAC figure. Well... it seems the rest of the world had the same idea and the "human face/red shirt" version easily commands over $120. This variant I saw at SDCC this year for $80 but found it at the collector store for - wait for it - $20! Score! I've always been a huge fan of Clay Moore's work and it's great to pick up a figure from over a decade ago and find that it still holds up. The sculpt is just fantastic. I love the smooth flow and thin proportions under the loose clothes. He does have an odd pelvic-thrust pose and his neck keeps his head permanently looking down, but those are acceptable to me. Plus his 15 points of articulation help even out some of that. He comes with a phenomenal base with removable headstone. I really, really like the sculptorly "scratch mark" grass. And as if that was not enough he gets seven weapons! He can't hold them very well with his graspy hands, but more is always better than less. This is just a really cool figure and I'm ecstatic to add him to my collection.
Palisades - The Muppets: Vacation Pepe
I recently brought down all of my Muppets figures from the attic and was shocked (SHOCKED, I say!) to find that I had no Vacation Pepe! Well, that is now rectified with this ToyFare exclusive version. It's not the most exciting variant or figure Palisades did but it's fun to be sure. We get a slight resculpt of the Pepe figure which captures the muppet perfectly. He gets T-crotch, ball-jointed shoulders and a swivel neck but it's the accessories that bump this guy up. He comes with the folding beach chair that the standard figure had, though now it's purple and lacks the umbrella. In place of the latter we get softgoods swim trunks, a tropical drink, swim mask, snorkel and an elephant floaty! The floaty in particular is an astounding sculpt and it's hard to believe it's cast in hard plastic, it looks so realistic. The mask fits snugly over the eyes but doesn't block them and the snorkel is easily attachable via a clip on the mask. Part of my hold-off on getting this guy was that there was an alternate paint version with a better looking blue shirt but an orange elephant while this one has the far superior gray elephant but the red shirt I'm not too crazy about. Either way, this is a cool figure and definitely makes one wish we had gotten more vacation variants, let alone more Muppet figures in general!
Playmates - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Leonardo
I finally bought this guy mainly to use for a comparison photo in a review of the SDCC exclusive but I'm glad I did cause this figure is great! We get a balljointed head, swivel/hinge shoulders, elbows, hips and knees and swivel hands. And they all work pretty darn well. He gets two swords, which are actually different sculpts (one is a little smaller) plus a tray of weapons! I love the tray - not only is it a very fun reference to the '80s toys it's a great way to up the value and they're cast in silver plastic, so they're actually plausible to use! There is very little paint on this figure, mainly just for the tape and wraps. The front and back of the shell are separate molds cast in colored plastic. I for one really dig this look. Would I have preferred all painted? Sure, but I really like and appreciate that they picked a route and stuck too it giving the figure a very cohesive aesthetic. Plus the sculpt is very textured, which I always love. I am honestly impressed - I like him much more than I though I would and look forward to completing the collection.
NECA - Evil Dead 2: Hero Ash
And here he is at last. Was he worth the 12-13 year wait? Pretty much! Another excellent NECA figure and certainly a must-have for anyone who collects action figures. The sculpt is great, and while I would have preferred a new head the paint on this one makes it seem more on-target than the last. The bad news is that he can't really hold the gun with his left hand, which is a little annoying. but the chainsaw is still plenty fun. I love the Deadite deer head, complete with (limited motion) balljointed head, but as Monkey Boy pointed out it's a shocking oversight that there is no kick-stand or peg on its back. I really like what they've done here and I'd love to see more. Randy has been pretty vocal that is was is a "two series and done" break-even license for them, but I would love to see this transition into a similar line for Army of Darkness. So many figures they could do and they'd all kick ass!