HAPPY NEW YEAR YA'LL!!! I have been incredibly busy in life and work the last few months and thus I have not been able to remain caught up, so this is more-or-less Spoils of the Month and indeed it covers many a base. But enough with the jibber and the jabber - I hope you and yours are having simply a wonderful holiday season! And now... THE TOYS!!!
DST - Marvel Minimates: Hawkeye & Black Widow
Well, this is a predictable if not uninteresting pairing which just offers a slight redux on the equally unimpressive Toys R Us exclusive set from Marvel's The Avengers. We get what I presume to be the most current looks for Hawkeye and Black Widow, which being clearly inspired by the movie costumes don't feel unique enough to warrant release. Regardless though they are well executed. This may well be the best Black Widow Minimate yet released and I can find no flaw with her. Hawkeye is fine, save for the the big gap between his hair and head but this is just a boring as heck costume. His quiver is glued on this his harness but it does have a nice a gap in it to hold the two loose arrows he comes with in addition to a bow.
DST - Marvel Minimates: Superior Spider-Man & Ultimate Electro
Look, it's Iceman and Alex Ross' concept art for Spidey's movie costume! Ahem. I totally "get" this set, but it definitely feels six months too early. The paint on Spider-Man is tight and clean so the otherwise "meh" Superior costume looks good. He gets an alternate, unmasked head with a near hair piece allowing Parker the ability to make hands-free phone calls via the fabulous new technology they're calling "bluetooth." Have you heard about this? Crazy stuff. As you well know, I'm nuts for trans blue so this Electro fits me just fine. Plus bonus points for the simple but clever electricity accessories and what is apparently a new base (could'a sworn it was a repaint from a videogame line). This is just another nice but uninspired set from this series comprised of characters we already just in their newest/darkest costumes...
DST - Marvel Minimates: Nova & Alien Symbiote Venom
This set is both awesome and underwhelming. It's just two characters in dark colors that I am aware of but not especially well versed in. This latter part is the real bummer because each come with a ton of accessories to allow for multiple looks!!! Nova comes with two heads, two hair pieces and two helmets (plus his "nova blast" flight stand). The helmets are identical sculpts but the hair is not. Then, underneath all of the bulky Venom bits is black-suit Spider-Man and he gets an alternate tendril hand plus standard feet, hands and waist to have a regular Spidey. The bummer here, though, is that he is done entirely in a very dark purple. I get it and it is well executed but it is still... you know... purple. This is the kind of set that normally I'd buy two or three of, but sadly I just can't get myself excited about getting duplicates of these guys.
Hasbro - Marvel Universe: Omega Red
Whoa - I scored a hot, new M.U. figure off the peg!? Nice. This a nice figure of one of the second-tier (at least in my mind) hokey '90s X-Villains. But since that was "my" era I'm in for them all. He uses the new "big guy" body which looks and moves well despite a propensity for falling over. The arms also pop off from (and back onto) the shoulders with alarming ease. The whips are none removable and if that face isn't based on Tyler Mane then I don't know what is.
Hasbro - Thor: The Dark World: Dark Elf
OHMYGODILOVETHISDESIGNSOMUCH!!!! I thought that this figure had been cancelled until a saw a random packaged photo of it and thus the hunt was re-enthused. I ended up having to pay $15 for him at Disneyland, but hey... at least I found him. The sculpt is flawless, the articulation is excellent, the paint is great and the accessories are all multiple, accurate and awesome. It's classic Hasbro that this guy is, at best, short packed... he's effectively a flawless figure. I really like the armor but I love the elves' helmets/masks and their weapons are equally gorgeous. It's really a hell of a bummer this stuff was wasted on Thor 2 and we won't be getting more of them and/or in other scales formats (but thanks for that Jane Foster figure, DST...).
Lego - Castle: Forest Ambush
I got big into Legos during the previous Castle/Kingdoms line which I imbecilicly never completed so I have a huge chip on my shoulder that this new series does not continue the colors from that line (good guys = red, bad guys = green). This set was on sale at TRU though so I finally bit. It's nice enough, though nothing too thrilling. The builds are pretty boring but the bricks aren't too bad plus you get a cute little doggy. The soldiers though... they're just boring retreads and not the right colors. PARUMPH and HUMBUG, sirs!
Lego - Creator: Christmas Tree
Oh but I have a lot of Lego Christmas Trees at this point, but this a fun new spin with the branches being inverted. I would have liked with addition single stud green bricks to cover up the bare studs but what are ya gonna do? The four different presents encircling the trunk is a great touch and I quite dig the translucent lime-green sea star at the top. Just another simple but nice Lego polybag for the holidays.
Lego - Games: Chima
TRU also had this guy on sale so I just couldn't help but pick it up. I have not had a chance to play the game yet, and probably won't since I really am only interested in the Games line for parts. We get some good pieces in blue and some always welcome gray, for use in castles and rocks, and a plethora of brown cones and green "flowers" for foliage. I really appreciate the not-too-common tan, green and gray octagons as well, but really it's the micro-figs that are the main draw. There is just something particularly fun about this scale to me and these guys turned our pretty darn well. It's a very solid set and a bittersweet conclusion to the range.
Lego - Speedorz: Jungle Gates
The Lego Store had all of their Speedorz marked down 50% so at $7.50 I finally had to jump on for the sets with cool bricks. This one ended up being the coolest of the three as he gets (at least what feels like) the largest, most plausible and most useful-as-spare-bricks build. Four different lion head sculpts!? Oh yeeeaaaah! Plus four palm fronds, two big arches, four half-boulders and plenty of other useful bits. Lennox is a good minifigure as well and he gets a gold chainsaw/club thing. Ultimately this is the one I am most likely to get a couple more off if the sales continue.
Lego - Speedorz: Ring of Fire
This set I have been drooling over ever since it was revealed. The translucent orange hinge bricks!!! Plus this is the most reasonably cool build of the entire range of stunt obstacles. I ended up getting two of this set just for those trans-orange bricks (8 per set)! Ultimately though I guess I've just spent too long lusting over the set because, while cool, it's not "all that" as the kids once said. The few other bricks are useful bits. There's a also a simple "jump" for Razaar to leap from. He's probably the neatest looking Raven and I like the metallic copper paint around his eyes.
Lego - Speedorz: Whirling Vines
I love rock work so two wall panels made this a must-buy for me, plus it comes with a gorilla! The rest of the bricks are pretty useful and the swivel "vine" is a novel mini-golf type obstacle. Gorzan is the first Chima Gorilla I've gotten and I have to say he's pretty cool! He may, in fact, be my favorite of the Chima-izations of all the animals so far, with his well sculpted head and simple warpaint. The line's titular vehicles are built off of a common base brick that holds the wheel and features two Technic pin holes and a 2x2 stud plate. Annoyingly you basically assemble the thing around the mini-figures legs essentially locking them in place, but on the upside each species has a uniquely sculpted wheel cover. I have to say, these things are WAAAAAAYYYY more fun than I ever imagined! it's a simple ripcord action but the wheels spin very well, very fast, and very consistently allowing for quite legitimate pull and force. They have way more range and speed than I assumed and are all the better for it.
Lego - Superheroes: The Joker Mini Mech Bot
My friend scored this free TRU build for me while I was out traveling for work and it is just too cute for words. Sadly I don't think it's very "Joker-y" but apparently it's a mini version of a design that appears in the Lego DC Video Game. For a freebie he sure has a lot of cool bricks and a ton of playability! Balljointed hips and shoulders with hinge fingers and a swivel waist! This would be a great polybag any day of the week and as an in-store promo it's all the better.
Lego - Superheroes: Robin and Redbird Cycle
Yet another TRU exclusive this guy had very limited availability as a "free with purchase" promo for the same day/weekend as the Joker Mech above. This is the same Robin from great (but apparently never reviewed by me) "Dynamic Duo Funhouse Escape" set with a comparable Robin-Cycle to the Bat-Cycle from that same set. This is just a simple but nice set. I would like to seem them do a proper Robin (i.e. Dick Grayson or "classic" Tim Drake) but I get why they went with this one.
Mattel - Imaginext: Black Manta & Sub
Target had a massive "Buy One Get One Half Off" sale on Imaginext so... yeah... here we are. This is a Target exclusive which is quite impressive consider how fully unique it is. I'm not too into the vehicles in the line and while this turned out nicely I would have definitely preferred Black Manta being available separately. The sub has a spring-loaded pincer up front and two missile launchers on swivel joints at either side of the wings. the space under and below the cockpit is a big open area that fits a robo-shark, which is identical to the one what came with Aquaman - a nice but unnecessary touch. Black Manta turned out great, despite having no neck/head articulation, and I'd be lying if I said his lack of weapon is conspicuous. If you're into the line then this is a great deal at $15, but, if like me, you're only here for the figures it's a bit of a waste I must say.
Mattel - Imaginext: Brainiac
A bummer of a single pack, but I imagine his unnecessary tentacle backpack with bendy arms ate up the cost for a second figure, and frankly I'd rather have it than another useless repaint of Superman. My favorite thing about it is the bundle of cables that fit up against the back of his head - they just look cool. Poor Brainiac has never really had a good look (though the Gary Frank costume is pretty solid) so I can accept the more well-known JLU style seen here. The head, which does not turn, is conspicuously a new oval head... could Egghead be coming soon!?
Mattel - Imaginext: New 52 Flash & New 52 Aquaman
My obsession for Aquaman won out and I got this mediocre Target-exclusive set. It's just two repaints done in less appealing costumes. Flash is identical to his predecessor but now with the "too cool for school" yellow torso piping. Aquaman thankfully ditches the awful yellow boots of his previous release but now suffers a very dull orange for his shirt. I may just try to swap the legs between the two. On the plus side he gets the same trident but now has it cast in a gold.
Mattel - Imaginext: Gorilla Grodd
Giant ape! This is a pretty cool figure and he wonderfully large making him quite a good deal at the standard $6.99 SRP of the line. The legs move individually and while he lacks wrist articulation he does have pretty good ball-hinge shoulder joints, and then a swivel at the neck. There's not a whole lot of posing options here but this is Imaginext after all. Grodd too is exclusive to Target.
Mattel - Imaginext: Green Arrow & Launcher
Another Target exclusive and another useless accessory. My guess is that this thing already existed in their catalog or was other a simple kitbash because there is no relevance for it whatsoever. Green Arrow turned out well enough for what reads to me as a hybrid of the New 52 and TV Show costumes. Underneath the hood/tunic he looks a lot like costumes from Smallville's "Justice League."
Mattel - Imaginext: K. Croc
Just like Manta, Braniac and Arrow I had to get this one for the figure. I understand why they include some vehicles and large accessories here and there but with the exception of Manta's Sub they really feel like stretches. Especially when it's just a wine-y swamp boat. Fortunately Croc's completely unique sculpt is darn awesome and he is well worth it and quite a good entry in the collection. I particularly love that they label him "K. Croc." For the kids.
Mattel - Imaginext: Castle Battle Plan
How goddamned awesome is this set!?!?! I've been waiting for a sale for months to score this killer set. It's only $15 but look at all you get! A throne with a spring-loaded hiding place for a treasure chest and removable candelabra and banner), a King with sword and shield, an end table (with permanently attached pitcher and chalice), a globe (!!!) and a battle plan table with hidden treasure cache! If Playmobil made this kind of thing I'd lose my gourd so I'm somewhat thrilled Imaginext beat them to the punch. This is just toys at their very, very best. World building with inherent story options and great visual aesthetics.
Mattel - Imaginext: Red Tornado & Cyborg
Our final Target-exclusive set gives us two fully uniquely sculpted figures! I've never been a big fan of Cyborg but I suppose I'm pleased to have him since it appears I'm amassing a sizable New 52 collection after all - plus he really is a cool sculpt. Red Tornado translates to the Imaginext aesthetic remarkably well which is why I'm fairly surprised he gets a unique sculpt. He'd look just as good on a blank body and this tooling cost could have gone to giving a second character to Green Arrow. Still, a very strong set if you dig either character.
Playmates - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Classics: Rocksteady
At last he is found! Being a child of the '80s I have a wildly soft spot for TMNT and for Bebop & Rocksteady so this is very exciting for me. Yes, as you've no doubt read, there are a number of issues with the final product but honestly, if not surprisingly, I (of all people) am pleased enough to have him that I'll go with it. Really all things considered the only thing that bothers me is the total lack of articulation below the shin. If you're going to double-joint the knees you have an obligation to provide ankle and toe articulation. Regardless, the figure look good to me and he stands pretty well. I was even pleasantly surprised to find him including the knife from the original figure too, I just wish they'd include a belt loop for it or something. Now if only I could find Bebop...
Playmobil - Playmobil Collectors Club: White Knight
Hey-hey! I thought I'd totally missed out on this but apparently I must have signed up for auto-renewal on my Playmobil Collectors Club membership cause this dude showed up quite unexpectedly on my doorstep one afternoon. I don't know if this is some kind of reference or homage but I do know he looks damn cool and is a perfect club exclusive! He's just a basic knight figure but with every element (other than his eye/mouth inset) cast in pure white plastic. It creates a most striking appearance and I think it'd be pretty cool too see a couple more of the themes get this treatment, like a Pirate and Cowboy!