This was supposed to be a quiet week! But, no... oh no... Toys R Us and Target just couldn't let me be... they had to unload a whole bunch of brand new stuff!
DST - Battle Beasts: Gruntos & Scalpus
So, the Battle Beasts are finally out after so many years of wondering! This Toys R Us exclusive set includes repaints of Gruntos the Walrus and Scalpus the snake, though the repainted-ness of them goes only so far as having silver armor rather than gray (which I suppose isn't too bad since these are the characters packed with the two human kids in the Specialty market sets, making this one a bit more skip-able). Both are neat designs, but the extreme changes between hyper-detailed new pieces and simple common Minimate pieces remains a bit unpleasing. A plus of the Minimate body, though, is that they put un-armored tampo paint on the torsos, but again this just points out the inconsistency in styles. I'd be remiss to point out, too, that it is very hard to keep all of the Walrus' hands and feet on. They're so bulky and their connection points so shallow it's unfortunately a bit of 'worst case scenario' there. But, removing my design and any production issues, these did turn out pretty cool and I certainly recommend this one set to just about everyone - if you get only one, make it this one!
DST - Battle Beasts: Antalor & Nychrix
This set is the other exclusive for Series 1, though technically everything is an exclusive since they're all repaints, but this one has unique characters/animals! Antalor is a Moose. A terribly hunchbacked Moose, to be sure. He comes with a battle axe, a dagger with a sheath and a cool little war horn. Unfortunately the latter is more show than tell since it's not sculpted to fit in his hand really at all. Nycrhix is a bat, and looks way cooler than he is. He gets a sword and a glave which he can barely hold. Like the Walrus, his hand pieces are heavy and have shallow connections so they fall of with some ease. His jaw looks like its articulated, but sadly it's just glued in place. Also, albino bat? I can't help but think this guy would look much cooler in darker colors. This is a neat set, but unfortunately it doesn't really do much for me beyond the novelty of a moose warrior and collection padding.
DST - Marvel: Human Torch & Annihilus
I have been a big fan of Annihilus ever since his early '90s ToyBiz figure, which also got my young age tongue twisted into calling this guy “Annie-hill-eus" - a bad habit until this very day! But hey - the toys! This is an awesome set, and part of yet another all-exclusive-to-Toys-R-Us wave! Annihilus turned out AWESOME!!! Just his collar and wings are new so the basic body and paint are relied on to create the appearance and it's gorgeous. The Torch is a character we have a million of but this is a fine new entry because he sports a new fire-hair piece and brand new, more detailed "fire fists" which even I will admit look great. But it’s his all-new base that steals the show - his fire-made F4 symbol! Too! Damn! Cool! The only problem here, and unfortunately it is kind of a big one, is that with the Torch on the base, he completely blocks the 4 logo. I really, really wish they had made the 4 something that could connect to that awesome "blast off" effect so that it had some height and could be a proper centerpiece. Regardless, though, this is still a very cool pair, with Annihilus being quite possibly one of my top 10 favorite Minimates!
DST - Marvel: Thing & Silver Surfer
Oh man - this is a surprisingly cool set. It's two characters we've seen a lot of in Minimate form, especially the Thing, but DST knew just what to do to keep these characters fresh. The Surfer looks pretty similar to his previous TRU exclusive form, complete with flight stand for his board but he gets the new "fire fists" cast in trans purple but best of all is his cosmic portal that clips on to the back of his board! This is likely as close to a Boom Tube toy as we'll get and it's darn cool! And then, we have the Thing, and here they did something phenomenal... the arms, legs and torso are painted to look like an orange flight suit and he comes with alternate hands, feet, waist and head to become a proper Ben Grimm - too cool! This pack may not grab non-Minimate fans, but it is a great set to be sure.
Hasbro - G.I. Joe Retaliation: Snake-Eyes
After what seems like the better part of a year the second wave ofGIJR figures have started to show up, and among them is this new, film-accurate Snake Eyes, which is far better than the one from the first series. This one is right on par with the great Pursuit of Cobra figures and is quite recommendable. It uses different flat and glossy blacks for some nice contrast, and a dark brown on the shoulder pads to help add a little life. The katana sheath plugs into the backpack and which, all told, can only hold one sword, which is equally confusing and annoying. The second will fit in the gap between the pegs of the sheath and backpack (as pictured) so at least there's that. He also comes with some giant mess of plastic and rope I haven't bothered to fiddle with. Articulation is also top notch, again back to GIJ:POC standards. (Note: I also got a Bruce Willis, which has a great likeness, but the stubbly paint is so splotchy it looks like he has a big, gray Groucho mustache. Thus, I have it in case the figure is hard to find, but I'm hoping to exchange it for one with better paint)
Hasbro - Iron Man Legends: Iron Patriot
I really don't care for Iron Patriot. The cover variant was a neat novelty design but, much like the Silver and Black Wolverine, I found it too tacky to warrant merchandise or be brought into continuity - boy was I wrong. This is a re-do of the Extremis Armor Iron Man from Marvel Legends Series 1 but with a new sculpted star icon, and his hand poses are swapped here so that the left hand is a fist this time. The paint is pretty clean and the figure is cast in a nice pearlescent blue, but that’s about as far as my enthusiasm goes for him. He comes with the body of the Iron Monger BAF and it’s pretty awesome. A great, bulky sculpt in a nice metallic deep blue plastic - I definitely look forward to completing this guy (which is really the only reason to buy this figure).
Hasbro - Star Wars: R5-D4, Deathstar Droid, Power Droid
A local Target is finally dumping these pegwarmers for $7.48 so I bought in for the new GONK. R5-D4 is a straight re-release of the Vintage figure which we probably have 2 or 3 of so far, and the Death Star Droid is likely a re-release of one of the Build-A-Droids. It's certainly built out of those parts, so the limbs pop out easily and the elbows have totally bizarre sideways joints, but even if it's not a re-release it's not a very compelling repaint. I would really, really have preferred the black with silver eyes PotF2 scheme. The reason to get this set is the all-new GONK, a.k.a. Power Droid. It’s a little taller and narrower than I recall, and too light as well, but is a cool sculpt. The top half pops off to reveal some inner machinery, which is just a fun touch, and the legs are balljointed at both the top and the feet, so you actually have a solid variety of poses for this otherwise droll design. This is, frankly, a pretty boring set so it's no wonder I found it for 60% off.
Mattel - Batman Unlimited: Silver Age Penguin
And just when I thought it'd take forever to find this guy... I found him! I had the Super Powers Penguin growing up so I am particularly enamored of this figure, and for all intents and purposes he's turned out quite well. The colors look spot-on and I think the primary colors on the umbrella really make that design work better than the original. Speaking of the original other than the head this is nothing more than a repaint of the Penguin figure from DC Universe Classics Series 1. But it is the head that offers the sole problem with the figure - his nose is a separate piece and there was no effort taken to hide the seam that encircles it! Sure I get that it would make sense to make it a separate piece for the mold, but hey... the original penguin didn't have to be. If you could do it four years ago you could certainly do it now. Other than that garish seam, which I just can't seem to be able to un-see, this is a really fun addition to the collection.
NECA - Gears of War: "Headshot" Locust Drone
I have no interest in or knowledge of Gears of War (outside of the NECA product) but this guy has been a semi-grail for me! So, imagine my shock and awe when a recent trip to TRU found him on pegs (along with NECA's AC/DC 2-Pack, SDCC '09 Guile and the series 1 Wire Twins from Hellraiser!?!?) for the relatively low price of $14.50! This is the line that really brought articulation to the fore-front at NECA and sadly this figure is at a weird middle ground. He has a swivel neck, balljointed elbows, swivel wrists, swivel waist, V-crotch, swivel thigh, balljointed knees, balljointed ankles and the left arm has a swivel bicep and swivel elbow - and all of it is pretty restricted. He comes with a big alien gun, a handgun (packaged in its holster) and an alternate "normal" head, which is a nice touch. The only reason to get this guy though is the amazing exploding head! It's cast in several pieces of translucent red plastic, with some opaque elements or opaque-painted pieces to really sell the effect. There are chunks of brain and a section of face flying off the tendrils of blood. This is as gruesome as it gets, and easily stands eye to eye with Tortured Souls for intensity if not arguably surpasses it. As a toy, it's not that great, but as a display piece it is PHENOMENAL. I'm right pleased to add him to the collection.
NECA - Team Fortress 2: Demoman
You know me and not liking videogames, but boy do I love a cool looking toy. The sculpt is really good and does a great job of translating the stylized art into toy form. Being such a stylized design articulation was bound to be problematic but NECA found ways to sneak in most every point we've come to enjoy from them. The downside, though, is that all of them have very limited range due to design aesthetics. Worse, the spindley feet leave this guy pretty top heavy and so far I have yet to find any way to keep him standing for longer than five minutes. For a $22 toy that's honestly pretty disappointing. He comes with four accessories - two guns and two alternate left hands, one with a liquor bottle glued in it. They're all pretty good but he can’t really hold either gun properly with either left hand. Finally, while the sculpt is great, the paint is only "good," though I'll say "okay" by NECA standards, with plenty of sloppy lines. Sadly, this is just a toy that didn't survive the production process too well. He does look neat and will look good and unique in my video game display, but I’ve gotta say I'm disappointed by the final product.
NECA - Team Fortress 2: Pyro
This guy just looks AWESOME. Such a cool, great design! He gets much the same treatment as Demoman, above. NECA did a surprisingly good job of incorporating articulation into the very articulation-unfriendly design and while it has limited motion as well he’s able to remain standing much longer than Demoman. Both figures have little pegholes in their heels so here's hoping they will fit on the universal stands NECA has been teasing of late. He comes with two weapons, a big thick fireman’s axe that came very bowed due to the packaging, and the coolest damn flame-thrower ever conceived in the history of fire-based weaponry! I mean, it’s got a full propane tank on there! Sure, other that the head, the articulation is restricted enough as to not really offer many poses but he still looks cool. This is certainly the better, all around, of the two figures, but my suspicion is that if you get one, you’ll be getting both. And if you get both, you’ll be looking for stands too, just like me.