All right readers, allow me to level with you. For the past two or three months I've fallen victim to the same disenfranchisement as many other "Online Toy Personalities" have suffered during 2012. Who would want to write and photograph toys when Netflix is streaming not 1 or 2 or 3 but 7, SEVEN seasons of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, I ask you!? Plus, with the holiday season in full swing I certainly did less shopping so that's had a part to in all of this as well. But rest assured, your belligerent uncle Rustin is back and with the intent to get pretty thoroughly caught up. So buckle your sweet tuchus in - this is going to be a long one.
DST - Halo Minimates: Prophet of Regret & Brute Chieftain
This comes from what I believe is the final (fifth) series of DST's Halo offerings. I do love me some team-building so I'm pleased to get another variation on the visually interesting Prophets. Interestingly this one comes packaged with no "belt" on but with a black and a purple one loose on the blister. Having no exposure to Halo beyond the toys I have no idea what this means but (a) assume it's a cool touch for fans and (b) presume they are the source of his regret - "Oh man, I should have worn the purple one today!" Sadly, though, they are the same dimensions as his torso and his chair/waist so they just add height to him rather than working like a typical "minimate belt." The Chieftain I recognize as the first Brute figure McFarlane ever put out and it's a neat design. Honestly this isn't a terribly exciting pack in and of it's self, but I am quite happy to have it to fill-out my Prophet and Brute sets of Minimates.
DST - Halo Minimates: USNC Marine & USNC Sergeant
The only thing I like more than team-building (in the world of toys, not so much in the world of corporate retreats) is army-building and this set tickles that compulsion but good. In essence these guys are identical, and perhaps even so to a previous soldier release, but one can never have too many soldiers! The pair includes a ballcap for the Sergeant but also a standard helmet giving you the choice of making him a grunt. It is a bit of a bummer that DST didn't include any of the awesome new disk stands with the Halo line as that could really open up the posing options, but I imagine the high volume of armor pieces drove up the production costs here. Were I more of a Halo fan you better believe I'd be snapping up duplicates of this set. It's a darn good one.
DST - The Walking Dead Minimates: Glenn & Nerd Zombie
I finally found the TRU exclusive Walking Dead Minimates and thus finally bought into this line (as these exclusives appear to be packed one per case). Glenn is a great figure. I love that his button-up shirt is a paint app and it allows for a great new backpack sculpt which can hold the flashlight and bolt-cutters he comes with (he comes with bolt-cutters! Awesome!) plus he gets a handgun which fits in a new holster. The holster is a great thin piece that fits between the torso and waist rather than one that covers the waist piece. It would have been cool if they'd painted on ears for Glenn too so you could pick hair or shaved head looks. The "nerd" (should be called "office") zombie is probably my favorite zombie they've done since he's "just a guy." He gets a neat new combover hairpiece and a meaty bone to chomp on.
DST - The Walking Dead Minimates: Shane & Punk Zombie
Ooooh, that's Shane... I thought it was just an alternate Rick. He's a good figure but is pretty much exactly the Series 1 Rick but with a different face and undershirt. It would have been nice if he had a hat-less hair piece but he does come with jacket-less arms so you can change up the look thataways. He gets possibly the goofiest zombie, the Punk. From the neck down this is a pretty good figure, but the green mohawk is a little extreme for me and, unsurprisingly, I'm not really a fan of the sculpted gore on the the head. A fine set but not nearly as must-have as the Glen/Nerd one.
Hasbro - Marvel Legends: "Bucky" Captain America
I finally broke down and picked this guy up. When the costume was first unveiled I pretty much loathed it but somehow the DST Marvel Select figure made it look so good I've become somewhat obsessed with it. This is a pretty Marvel Legends take on the design and is everything you'd expect it to be, which is to say it is good. The shield is reused from the Movie Cap but that's fair. He also comes with one of Arnim Zola's legs. This series has just a wholly unimpressive lineup so while I'd quite like the Zola I'm really not sure I want to spend $15 a piece on the other figures. This version of Cap, though, is worth it and a happy addition to the collection and display.
Hasbro - Marvel Universe: Beast
You know, it didn't occur to me until after I opened this guy that he isn't wearing his Astonishing X-Men costume - BUH-mmer! Still though, it's a remarkably good sculpt for MU and pretty solid paint too. He's got a good amount of articulation but I cannot get him to achieve or maintain the hand-stand pose shown on the package. I pretty strongly dislike Cat-Beast but this does a good job of making it palatable. I really don't have much else to say about this dude. If he appeals to you, you'll be happy with him I suspect, but I'm just not too sure where he belongs in my collection.
Hasbro - Marvel Universe: Beta Ray Bill
I don't understand this character but I sure do like buying him! He's a really fun-looking guy and this does a solid job of capturing him in the 4" scale. It's one of those (increasingly not-so-)rare Marvel Universe figures with a lot of new tooling and he's all the better for it. The one thing that is an "interesting idea" here was sculpting the shoulder pads onto the removable cape. Sadly, the effect is totally ruined when the cape is attached via a peg and peghole on the back which results in the shoulder pads hovering conspicuously out in front of the shoulders. But, a cool figure nonetheless, plenty of new tooling and an articulated jaw - this one is definitely worth tracking down and picking up!
Hasbro - Star Wars: Hoth Luke Skywalker
Okay... I must admit I've fully crossed over into costume fatigue. I almost passed on this figure but did some research and found that he is an all-new sculpt. So, for the balljointed hips and removable fully bundled head gear this is a good Tauntaun rider version, should I ever end up with a Tauntaun. The scarf piece is a neat idea - it's cast in translucent green for the goggles then painted for the rest and fits on by popping off the head. Unfortunately I just can't get the goggles to match up to the hat in a way to make the gear look convincing, there's always just enough of a gap to bug me. It'd be a bit more forgivable if it weren't the thing to really make this figure special. If, somehow, you don't have a Hoth Luke, though, this is absolutely the one to get though. A beautiful sculpt, solid likeness and tons of articulation. But I do have to ask - why does the ignited lightsaber have a peg to be hung from his belt...?
Jazwares - Hanna Barbera: Space Ghost
FINALLY!!! It took forever to find this figure, and I only did because Toys R Us got in a solid case of Space Ghosts! A surprising turn from a company that seems to make toys so begrudgingly but most likely TRU saw that they couldn't keep SG's on the shelf but everything else just warmed pegs for weeks and weeks and thus demanded reparations. I like this figure just because I like Space Ghost. It's a classic Jazwares product in that the intent clearly shows that SOMEone wanted this to be a great toy but somewhere before and/or during production it was neutered into an odd mess. The paint looks good enough from two feet away but the closer you get the more sloppiness is clear, especially on poor Blip. More insane is the articulation. The fact that he has thigh articulation but not biceps is just jaw-dropping. Do the makers of this toy have any idea of who the character is!? The hands are clearly meant to be posed firing his wrist-blasters but without balljointed elbows or biceps it's impossible. Plus most of the leg joints are fairly loose so posing ain't no walk in the park. I'm pleased to have it but it's definitely as bad a figure as everyone has told you it is (i.e., not at all), which is a damn shame because it's so close to being great.
Jazwares - Nickelodeon: Ren
I was hoping Jazwares would do Ren & Stimpy product when I saw they were doing classic Nickelodeon stuff, but what I didn't expect is that they'd be Target exclusives and only in the 4" line. This is a surprisingly extreme expression for Ren and again, the "intent" is really positive despite the end product. Pretty much everything, including the ears, is a ball-and-hinge joint for ultimate poseability (the wrists are just swivels, though). However, they're all so loose I'm impressed he stands at all. He comes with the episodically titular "Happy Helmet," which is neat, but fairly off model. You could argue that model sheet continuity didn't exist on Ren & Stimpy and be on fairly solid ground, but even then the Happy Helmet side pieces were always more pronounced than as seen here, at the least. If you want a Ren figure, just track down the awesome, old Palisades one - it's a bajillion times better than this nonsense. But for $5 things could, I suppose, be worse.
Jazwares - Nickelodeon: Stimpy
Like Ren, above, this is a Target exclusive and just a weird looking toy. It's definitely Stimpy, but there's just something off about him. I think a big part of it is the heavy seam line below the eyes but there is some intangible "they just didn't quite get it" quality to this likeness. Where as Ren had a lot of articulation, Stimpy only gets four points (hips and shoulders) but they are all ball-and-hinges. The real value here though (beyond completing the pair) is his pack-in: Muddy Mudskipper! And 'ol Muddy seems all around a better execution than Stimpy. More importantly he was one of the main characters Palisades didn't get a chance to do, and this guy is essentially in scale with those figures too! All we need now is a 6" Powdered Toast Man and all the heavy hitters will be covered between the two companies, though certainly not all at the quality of Palisades' work.
Mattel - Ghostbusters: Courtroom Ray
Hey, hey - the last Ghostbusters figure and on the upside it continues one set and completes another! On the downside, Mattel done messed it up again! I'm a fan of the suits-with-proton packs look so I'm quite happy to get another one here, and I'm especially a big fan of Ray's color combination - the blue shirt looks great and really sets him apart between he and Peter. Unsurprisingly he's just a repaint of Peter with Ray's head, by the way. He does get a great pack-in: Tony Scoleri's Ghost! But, in classic Matty tradition, for no clear reason they made this guy in a richer, darker blue than his brother ensuring that the identical-looking-in-the-film ghosts are conspicuously different in toy form. I guess it was just too expensive to just do exactly the same thing they had already done. Also, the last Scoleri got interchangeable standing and floating feet - a nice inclusion (though it didn't include a stand to allow him to float) and one I am a little bummed isn't included here. At this point all we have left is to hope they'll at some point eek out a Courtroom Egon to complete the collection (I'd even take the sweater vest just painted on), and if I really want to dream his pack-in would be a figure of the Judge with very limited articulation and Harris Yulin's likeness. Oh, perchance to dream...
Mattel - Ghostbusters: Glow-in-the-Dark Slimer
Oh - and I was wrong - here is, in fact, the last Ghostbusters (because come on, it's not like Mattel will ever let the license go even if the third movie never gets made). And it's a fun bookend as it's a re-issue of the Slimer from the first Ghostbusters release from Mattel, "Inexplicably Slimed Egon" and the third use of the sculpt (he was also available in the Ghostbusters 2 box set). This release is cast in glow-in-the-dark plastic and was shipped out in a clear bag which also included the stand. He's got some legal text printed on his underside and pretty good paint apps on his face and mouth. This guy was sent out as a "thank you" for all of us who had subscribed to the 2012 Ghostbusters line, which ultimately didn't hit its quota and was canceled. We got a full refund but they still sent us out this figure and you know what... that's pretty darn cool of them. We beat up on Matty a lot here, because they make it so easy some times, but honestly they just sent me a free, somewhat unique toy to show some gratitude for my business - and I appreciate that. Thank you, Mattel.
McFarlane Toys - Halo 4: Cortana
December was really an anti-Halo month as it seemed everyone was discounting all of their Halo product, which is fine by me since I meant I picked this lady up for $6 or $7 at Target. I never got the first one and I like the "hover screen" concept so figured this would be a fun one. Well, "fool me once..." as they say. She is right on par with the Walking Dead TV show figures McFarlane's been putting out, which is to say a fairly specific pose with articulation added just for the sake of articulation. They could have easily scrapped most of it and used that money towards putting an LED in the base under the clear footpegs which would semi-illuminate her from inside. The paint here is pretty good and the sculpt ain't too bad, but neither are exceptional or eye catching - this is really a figure to get because it's in translucent blue. Or it's a naked chick, if you're a "normal" collector. The base is hollow but cool and I imagine it's meant to be a life-size version of the the little holo-emitter Master Chief carries around (if not, that's a bummer - half toy, half role-play seems like a smart move). She also comes with a micro Master Chief to convince you to buy the already-on-clearance micro line from McFarlane. It's fine for what it is, but I fail to see the point. But, a-ha, what about the alternate hand with the screen? Note she is handless - that's because the peg for the screen-less hand broke right the hell off inside her forearm when I tried to remove it. So now neither hand will fit. It just... I just... siiiiiiiiigh. McFarlane... It's An Attitude
Playmobil - Stone Age: Chief
Oh ho ho, finally I've bought something from the awesome new Stone Age line! This is the Chief or Shaman of the Wagaboo and essentially everything that comes with him is new with this line! He gets the new pelt outfit with a fur cape and an elk head headdress! Plus a cool new spear with a neat new fire sculpt, cast in a mix of yellow and neon orange plastic for a great effect, which plugs into the end of the spear (presumably it could swap with a blade tip). This is just an all-around great figure. But this set isn't just a figure - it comes with a big old campfire too! It's a great Playmo-style fire cast in three shades of plastic so it looks fine enough as is, but press a black button in the fire and it lights up! But not just a simple light-up effect, it actually has a collection of yellow, red and orange LEDs that flicker to great effect, and what's more the number of lights that light-up increases over the first 5 or so second after pushing the button as if the fire is growing! The bummer is it does not include batteries (takes two AAAs) but that's solvable enough. This is a really cool set from a really great new theme - I really, really can't wait till I can track down more from it!
NECA - Predators: Jungle Hunter & City Hunter 2-Pack
The Jungle Hunter is pretty much the same figure from the first series from the waist-up but now features balljointed hips and double-hinged knees. It's not a major difference for the average collector, such as yours truly, but enough to be fun, especially if you were never able to track down one of the previous Jungle Hunters. The City Hunter is more obviously unique thanks to his wearing of a respirator. It's a pretty clever alternate to the open or closed jaws trend but it does only appear in one shot making this a highly specific figure. He comes splattered in his own blood, a nice two-tone green series of apps which are surprisingly not glow-in-the-dark but best of all he gets a removable left fore-arm! This is pretty awesome, but in a shocking move away from NECA's much vaunted screen-accuracy there is a big, plain peg sticking out of the stump. Most likely they couldn't reasonably fit a peghole in the stump end due to the elbow joint but this does just look a little too garish for me. And as if two neat, new versions of the most famous Predators weren't enough this set also includes two of the final skulls for the trophy wall (which should be released later this year). Interestingly the smaller of the two is the first of these skulls to include a proper peghole in its underside.
NECA - Rocky: Clubber Lang
Mister T - 'nuff said. This is just a killer figure. An awesome likeness and the very best use of the "dyed plastic" technique NECA is starting to utilize. While generally we always prefer paint to plastic for coloring this has a perfect balance of translucency, depth and sheen to look precisely like bare, sweaty skin. This is just an awesome, awesome figure and a terrific innovation for toys in general. NECA at its very best!
NECA - Rocky: Ivan Drago
I was never interested in Dolph Lundgren at all until I saw The Expendables. He is by far the best thing about both films and they have turned me into a big fan of his, so of course I am going to get this figure! The likeness looks off to me, but I've never seen Rocky IV so maybe I'm wrong. I'm also not crazy about his hairline, the blend from blonde to flesh just looks a little too odd to me for some reason. Regardless, though, he's a great figure for all the reasons the Clubber Lang one is, though not necessarily as good as that one. He's cool enough in his own right, but is a must have when paired with...
NECA - Rocky: Rocky Balboa
Man... flying blood... why is that so cool!? I missed out on the Gears of War Exploded Head Locust figure so I had to pick this one up. He's really just a repaint of the Series 1 Rocky but with the awesome new head. Sure this is a head that can only be used for ONE pose but by gum it's so well sculpted that's okay with me. I was infinitely more impressed, too, once I played with poses and lined up the Drago figure to deliver the punch... man. If you like dioramas you must get these two figures! So cool! Way to go NECA!