Buckle your sweet bippies in, kiddos. We have about seven or eight weeks' worth of junk to get caught up on due to my rather hectic schedule of late. So, please, friends and readers - join me, won't you, as we traverse the myriad purchases of mostly-April-but-also-some-in-March-and-May.
DST - Marvel Minimates: Avengers vs. X-Men
I put off this purchase back in December and was then surprised to find it gone from stores not soon after (I guess that's the selling power of Avengers and X-Men over Galactus). Fortunately I found one at a Pittsburghian TRU and all is well. Iron Man is a cool new variation, apparently a "Phoenix-Buster" get-up with flip-up front/head. What's very cool is that he's a fully painted "Heroic Age" armor underneath all the new gear complete with alternate hands and feet to complete that look! Cyclops comes to us fully Phoenix-ed out. He gets two chest/shoulder pieces: Phoenix fire (which looks awesome) and mis-painted golden armor and under his new helmet his eyes are ablaze (though no hair is included). Scarlet Witch gets her second Minimate and it's basically a perfect rendition of her classic outfit. She gets alternate magic hands, but unfortunately they're shared with Dr. Strange, so they're Hailing Satan. Finally is some idiot called Protector who is just about as boring too look at as can be. He does get an alternate white hair piece. I'm very tempted to get a second set for both Iron Man and Cylops' alternate looks, but there's not much else that can be done with Scarlet Witch and Protector is... unwanted.
DST - Marvel Minimates: Firelord & Air-Walker
And I've finally tracked down the last set from the latest TRU series! Both are quite good Minimates and about as good as one could hope for considering the rather hokey costumes of each character. I am a sucker for translucent plastics for fire and it looks great here. Surprisingly Firelord gets a new hair sculpt and while his baton is well sculpted it's cast in a very soft plastic. Air Walker gets a fairly warped "Slimer Stand" and either that mold has shrunk or the feet mold has grown because it takes a whole lot of effort to get him to balance on the peg which no longer fits the peg hole (same problem with Cyclops above).
DST - Pete Pan: Pirate Ship with Wendy & Smee
This thing costs $30!!! That's more than either four-pack and twice the price of each previous Pirate Ship release! It's just ridiculous. We get two Minimates this time around, and while both are very important characters neither seem that compelling. Smee uses the short feet and Wendy gets pretty good new poofy-shoulder pieces, plus a clear 'mate stand. The ship is identical to previous releases (kind of a bummer, but understandable, that they didn't make a new cabin with skull & crossbones) and though it is technically film accurate I'm pretty bummed that it's painted brown rather than red, which Disney usually uses for the ship. It's quite a nice release and a great way to complete the set, though the price is way too high.
Disney Store - Unlock Imagination Key
If you've been to a Disney Store in the last couple years you may have noticed a gigantic key behind the registers. Turns out that they let a kid use it to "unlock" a giant lock every morning to open the store and as a bonus that child gets a small replica of said key. Some dear friends know how big of a Disney nerd I am and were kind enough to get me one of these keys for my birthday! It's 6" long and cast in a fairly firm plastic with a coat of dark green paint with white detailing over it. I quite like that the one end is the iconic "D" with the key's teeth are made up of the classic Disneyland Castle (and Buena Vista Pictures/Walt Disney Studios) silhouette. On the "back" of the line in the "D" is "CHINA" in raised letters while business info is printed on the front (The Disney Store is headquartered in Pasadena, CA).
Gentle Giant - Star Wars: Royal Guard
The comic store I went to on Free Comic Book Day was selling both of these busts for $20 a pop, how could I say no? I was after this guy because this Episode III look is close enough to the Return of the Jedi look that he'll fit in with my mainly Original Trilogy collection. I'm not crazy about the two-handed staff-holding pose, but that was just an excuse to body-share with the Senate Guard. The paint is nice and bright, the sculpt good and the staff is diecast metal so all around this is a well-produced bust, though not the most exciting one they've made.
Gentle Giant - Star Wars: Senate Guard
I'm just a darn sucker for the Trojan-style helmets of the E1 & E3 Senate Guards, so at $20 I was hard pressed to walk away from this one. As I mention this shares the same torso/arms sculpt as the Royal Guard and I like how Gentle Giant uses a generic base for all of their SW busts but the cloaks on these guys falls down and over it. The rifle is a nice sculpt of a mediocre design and is, I believe, resin rather than metal. The helmet is just as cool as one would hope. These are nice additions to the collection but are, frankly, kind of boring "characters" so the exceptionally deep discount was certainly "the right price" (though I should note these were open and clearly second-hand).
Hasbro - Marvel Universe: Inhumans
I've been a fan of the Inhumans since reading the Jae Lee book, so I was looking forward to this rather hard to find set. Ultimately, though, it's a disappointment - but I guess that's standard for Marvel Universe. You'll unfortunately need these for three unique/exclusive figures but all are pretty much MU at its mediocre-est. Black Bolt is a new head and wings on a bulky generi-body. The paint is pretty good but articulation is wonky making this guy hard to stand, plus the armband-based-wings are just awkward and I'm really bummed they didn't give him the super-articulated neck so that he could look straight up. Medusa's hair is a nice sculpt but it's basically a flat wall which makes posing very difficult, especially with her many wonky, loose joints. Karnak rounds out the set probably because he's too boring to be released on his own and while he is a solid execution, the all too familiar "wonky joints" render him an awkward figure.
Hasbro - Star Wars: Darth Malgus
Wow! I finally found this dude at a Toys R Us and he's every bit of Expanded Universe fun that I had hoped he'd be. This is my favorite fake-Vader look yet and the figure features everything you'd expect from a Vintage style figure - good sculpt, paint and articulation. He gets an ignited lightsaber, a hilt and a removable cloth cloak with a bendy wire at the base of the hood to help form to the shoulders and keep it on - not bad!
Hasbro - Star Wars: Slave I
I was fairly pleased when Hasbro announced their new "Class II Fleet Vehicles" scaling down larger ships to a size manufacture-able at a $20 pricepoint. This small Slave 1 is a perfect way for me to get this significant ship into my collection without spending too much money or space. It's a pretty good toy, too, with few surprises. It was a little tricky to plug into the fins correctly so that they rotate together but that feature works well once in place. The cockpit is basically a somewhat detailed (plus stickers) slot for a figure to stand it and the canopy is a very dark translucent plastic. The latter makes for a better stand-alone look, but I was hoping to use this as a home for "Pilot Jango" but he can't be seen through the plastic. I appreciate what they did here and would be on board to see "economical" versions of other ships (since I already have the larger more accurate ones).
Hasbro - Star Wars Jedi Force: Darth Maul
Target was having a sale so I picked up these Episode 1 duders. Darth Maul is a nice figure, right in line with the whole Jedi Force aesthetic. I'm a little bummed that he can't hold his lightsaber with both hands but that kind of goes against the style - the one-handed hold just looks kind of weird to me. His Sith Speeder is re-used from the Galactic Heroes line, so while he can sit on it it's not a great fit. I certainly would have preferred an additional figure (or a hood-up Maul for the speeder) instead.
Hasbro - Star Wars Jedi Force: Qui Gon & Obi Wan
These two guys use the same torsos, arms and left hands, but the coloring is different enough as to not make it a huge problem. Qui Gon's cloth cloak help in that department too, but it's a tough sell at this 2.5 inch scale and makes the pair more peculiar with only one cloak betwixt them. Still a pleasant entry from the shockingly oversaturated Worst-Star-Wars-Movie from this fun but struggling line.
Mattel - DC Signature Collection: Elongated Man
Yeah, well... at least he's a new character. I'm probably just being rough on him since there isn't too much to get excited about any longer from this line. The head is nice, if not a little too large and tan in paint. I appreciate the magnifying glass, but it kind of highlights the good-but-limited articulation. The best part of this release is easily the elongated right hand. A very nice sculpt to be sure (though a little awkward in the posing).
Mattel - DC Signature Collection: Larfleeze
This probably may favorite of the DCSC releases of 2013 so far. The head sculpt is my favorite take on this character yet, too. When I discovered he lacked bicep articulation I was prepared to be pissed off but honestly between the hand sculpts, balljointed wrists and double-jointed elbows it all works out fine (though the biceps are a glaring omission). The biggest problem for me here is the bright orange plastic used, it just looks and feels "cheap." All in all though everything is good enough (or was until yo pointed out he should have come with the already-tooled handle-less Orange Lantern from O.L. Lex).
Mattel - DC Signature Collection: Monsieur Mallah
Oh look, Rustin sighs loudly yet again. My only exposure to this nonsense was the forgettable DC Infinite Heroes line so my interest in this release is at about a 1 of 10, especially since it's just another DC gorilla. Well, color me surprised because he turned out good enough to own. I really dig dark brown fur color and man is that head sculpt awesome or what! It suddenly occurs to me that it's too bad that the beret isn't removable because this would be a great generi-ape for 6" figures to battle. The gun, bandolier of bullets and Brain-thing are likewise well executed versions of un-special, if not silly, things. Its fine to have, but I wouldn't be missing anything without it.
Mattel - Masters of the Universe Classics: Fang Man
I'm under the impression this is one of those "MotUC 2013 Subscriptions are going to fail" figures but he was probably 40% of why I decided to re-sub. Having no nostalgia attached to MotU I'm in this mess for the weird, colorful and cool - and Fang-Man is all of those. This is just a fun figure, nothing more and nothing less. I like the sculpt, though the head is a little too "animated" in style, and his accessories are pretty cool, especially the '50s-style forked thingamabob. I'm not losing my mind over this guy or anything but he's probably my favorite MotUC figure since Gygor (the figure that convinced me to sub-in).
Mattel - Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan
Wow... what happened here. After the surprising good-ness of Rorshach the pendulum swings equally back the opposite direction for Manhattan. The plastic is inconsistently blue between the torso and limbs, he gets absolutely no accessories and is unforgivably shorter than Rorshach! (In reality, they should have built Rorshach off of the little body used on Louis Tully and Hector Hammond) This figure is only acceptable if Ozymandias comes with Bubastis with Manhattan's accessory budget helping to create that bulky pack-in. If not... this is a rip-off.
Mattel - Justice League: Lex Luthor
And here I was thinking this guy was going to be impossible to find, but I've ended up seeing him somewhat regularly. This line is pretty much a joke but this figure turned out darn cool. A fully unique sculpt with nice details, plenty of rivets and even two shades of green he puts the rest of the line to shame. He even comes with two accessories which are weird pull-overs from the Brave and the Bold line, a batch of three translucent green missiles and a purple bit of armor. This is both a neat and weird figure at the same time, but as a fan or armored Lex I'd be hard pressed not to recommend him!
McFarlane Toys - Halo 4: Collector Box Set 2
Target blew this out for $21 - of course I'm going to get this at that price! Master Chief is more of the same with no discernible difference in look to previous Master Chief's to a novice like myself. His articulation works a little better than previous versions, but still isn't as good as the Halo 1 version. Spartan Soldier continues the "more of the same" with being just another generi-armor but in purple. Watcher is a cool design but a poor figure as he's pretty small and though "articulated" at fins/wings doesn't really do anything. Crawler is another one of McFarlane's patented "tons of articulation but no real posing options" figures.
McFarlane Toys - Halo 4: Knight
And Target was throwing this guy away for $7.50, so hell yes I got him - all of the silver robot things in one swoop! This, guys, is a pretty awful figure. Like the Crawler above he has tons of articulation (40 points, the box proudly proclaims) but most of them are pretty good, though loose. Between them and the incredibly top-heavy design this thing cannot stand (my record so far is less than 10 seconds [for this photo]). He comes with two big, silly parentheticals that clip on to his feet so tightly it broke the heel off one foot. This route not only looks gaudy it relies entirely on the stability of the hip, knee and ankle joints which are both loose and no help under the heavy torso. They really, really, really should have given him a peg/stand that plugged into the abdomen - that would have pretty much solved every single problem. The Watcher's top half is supposed to plug into this guy's back but mine was glued together and thus will not fit here.
Playmates - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Baxter Stockman
I came to the TMNT through the original cartoon and toys so Baxter will always be a white Fly guy and I desperately wish they fly-mutate this version as I love that look. That said, this is the best non-turtle figure in the entire line. He gets a swivel neck, shoulder-pads, waist and wrists plus hinged knees and elbows with balljoints at the shoulders and hips - that's 14 points! The only complaint I have is there is no bicep articulation (and ankle articulation would have been nice) but you can still pretty much accomplish any pose, and he certainly is the most pose-able in the line! His fingers are a softer plastic so that he could hold things if you wanted. Basically, this is just a stellar toy and probably the most fun I've had with a figure in the last couple months, if not year.
Playmates - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Leatherhead
I love crocodiles and alligators, so I've really been looking forward to this guy. The sculpt is fantastic, basically a perfect mutant gator, but the paint is what really hurts him - it's varying degrees of inconsistent and cheap looking. He's got a swivel tail and head with balljoints at the shoulders and hips - sure he could use more, but this is good enough it automatically makes him better than all of the non-turtles. And according to the cardback, he's a good guy now? (Oh apparently he is in everything but the classic 'toon - harumph).
Playmobil - Special Plus: Archer
I was pretty darn amazed to find the new Special Plus line of Playmobil figures at Toys R Us, but was indeed greatly relieved as I've been pining for this guy ever since learning of his existence! The figure is a pretty cool looking, brightly colored Archer. I'm none too crazy about the chin-beard but I quite like the notched hat he's sporting! The real stars here, though, are the accessories. He gets six of the new style arrow, a quiver (which sadly can't really accommodate the new arrows too well), a long bow, a new basket (with separate piece for the top) and most importantly a target! The target is a simple piece with three holes for the new arrow tips and a peg that plugs into what I believe is a classic easel tripod. It's fantastic and I fully intend to buy at least two more of these to set up a proper archery contest ("An aaaarchery contest...?")!