Aaaaaaand we're back.
Bif Bang Pow: Penny Dreadful - The Creature
Penny Dreadful is one of those shows that seemed right up my alley BUT I just never got into, mainly because the title so eye-rollingly on-the-nose (plus I don't have Showtime). Yet, once these BBP unveiled these toys I felt obligated to check out the show and it turns out that the first season, at least, is pretty darn good (and the first two episodes and wondrous, genre awesomeness)! I managed to get most of the figures off of Entertainment Earth during a sale but was thrilled to find these marked down to $13 at Toys R Us. The Creature is... not a good design. But the toy captures it well enough. Gentle Giant must have made these because they are SO much like the Funko Legacy figures in style and execution. Ol' Creech gets a decent amount of articulation: Mid-torso, balljoint elbows & shoulder, double hinge knees, swivel & hinge ankles with rocker feet! Sadly there are no accessories, which does hurt the sense of value (I would have at least loved to see him come with a severed heart, especially since he's got grabby-hands). His coat is a single, rubber piece over the body, and annoyingly the collar is sculpted/permanently up and closed. One would really have preferred they find a way to engineer it so that it was poseable or, at least, made it interchangeable to be up or down, since most of the time it's down.
Bif Bang Pow: Penny Dreadful - Werewolf Ethan Chandler
This figure is obviously/unfortunately a spoiler, and a bit of spoiler in both "what's to come" and "building anticipation" because this look doesn't show up until the very end of Season 1. So, since my introduction to the series was through these figures, I kept eagerly awaiting the werewolf to be unleashed that once it was it was pretty anticlimactic... but, still it's a cheap and easy variant so I get the decision. The whole line was labeled as SDCC exclusives, which is clearly nonsense since no one will tool up six unique sculpts just for a limited con run, so really I think this (and maybe in repainted or slightly different dress) should have been the exclusive they would hype and run in very low numbers. Aaaaaanyways, it's a solid figure - good articulation (same as Creech above) and clean paint. Unfortunately the joints are fairly loose on (at least my copy of) this figure, primarily the shoulders and the thigh swivels, which makes posing and standing difficult. Much like The Creature, too, WereEthan gets no accessories which, again, is a bummer and feels a bit stingy; especially since he's just new hands and a new head. A bottle and/or a mug/stein, at the least, would have been great! Alas, no such luck. I should also take a moment to note the packaging... On the plus side the cardboard is printed on both sides so it uses less material (unlike Marvel Legends, which has a plastic blister in a cardboard tray in a cardboard box) and is easier to deal with. On the minus side - the "window" is a very thin, brittle plastic which doesn't really/successfully attach to the right side of the package, so... on one and this isn't a line for MOC'ers and on the other, all the broken/open packages further suggest a sense of "cheapness." That's really a shame, because these are pretty good figures and they deserve a better shake!
DST: Gaurdians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 Minimates - Nebula & Drax
Toys R Us get this exclusive 2-pack for Gaurdians 2 which fills out and completes the roster in the standard line-up (Both the TRU and Direct lines include Star-Lord & Yondu and Gamora & Rocket packs, with the Direct Market line also getting Mantis/Taserface and Ego/Ayesha). The figures are pretty damn good with remarkably good paint and line work! Sadly, though, we only get 5 accessories... 2 stands, Drax's 2 daggers, and 1 blaster for Gamora. I'm sure the paint work mixed with TRU budget concerns are the cause but it does feel notably light for Minimates. I would have loved alternate heads or maybe some extra space guns for these warriors. Still though, it's a good set and a must-have to complete the team!
DST: Marvel Minimates - Jessica Jones Boxset
Now THIS is what I'm talking about!!! This set is LOADED with accessories!!! We get 3 cell phones, a (tiny) camera, a video camera, a laptop, a TV monitor with "It's Patsy" on it, a black & white photo of Jessica.... PLUS alternate arms for ALL 4 characters plus alt Chinese food eatin' hands for Jessica and an angry head and bare feet for Kilgrave! DST - you are rocking it! Thank you! The Toys R Us that had this only had one but I will ABSOLUTELY be buying at least one more so that I can display all the costume options! The figures themselves are good, but also suffer much from the Netflix aesthetic of "people in clothes." At least Kilgrave gets a semi-iconic, eye catching purple suit, and the likeness on Jessica is really good. Luke and whats-her-name are just people, though. I liked the show well enough, but it definitely felt pretty stretched out, which has cooled me on the whole Marvel Netflix universe in general (haven't watch Luke Cage or Iron Fist yet). But this set, thanks to the alternate arms/costumes for all four figures makes it one of the best Minimate 4-packs in recent memory!
DST: Plants vs Zombies GW2 Minimates - Captain Deadbeard, Super Brainz, Rose, Kernel Corn, Peashooter
While I'm not familiar with Plants vs Zombies at all beyond DST and Jazzwares' competing toylines, I'll still buy just about anything Minimates, plus these are some fun, bright, colorful designs. The Pirate is my favorite of the set, he's just pure novelty fun but now with a peg leg and fantastic hook hand! (Hmm... note to self, I wonder if a headswap could make him work with the old Calico Jack Minimates...?). The superhero is okay - I "get it" but he's a bit too bulky for my taste in Minimates. The raccoon mask on his headpiece does match up with his eyes remarkably well, though, and he gets a nice purple "energy blast" for his fist. The corn guy is the biggest of the plants and I figured he just had the "tall head" but that's actually a unique sculpt with a subtle, sculpted hexagonal pattern on everything but the face to imply the kernels. The "leaves" that make his collar are a separate piece, which is thick enough that it really restricts his head posing and makes pretty tough to reconnect the head, unfortunately. The pea shooter is the same as in previous sets but the Rose is a fun, colorful figure. She's basically a solid piece though, so the scepter is unremovable and the despite looking like a hat or hairpiece the rose petals are sculpted on.
Hasbro: Marvel Legends - "Marvel's" Angela
Weeeeeeell... here we are - nerd drama incarnate! There is something undeniably satisfactory about Angela now being owned by Marvel/Disney given her McFarlane-y origins. And who could ever forget the whole "Party Angela" debacle? This is a great figure and certainly the best figure Angela's ever gotten (the irony continues to abound - Hasbro is now better than McFarlane Toys!). Her gold parts are cast in a really nice pearlescent gold plastic that really pops and her head is a great sculpt with really clean paintwork! She comes with Titus' (who?) left leg and three weapons - two hand blade thingees and a sword! The sword fits into a sheath glues to the back of her belt. Insanely, though, the sheath doesn't connect via peg/peghole or tabs or clips or anything, just two little lines that match to little grooves in the belt meaning that the glue is doing all the work and mine just popped right off simply removing her from the blister-tray. And, since there's no physical way to connect it, I gotta track down the proper glue and re-glue it... might as well just be doing a model kit... Other than that annoying design flaw this is a really nice figure and she definitely lives up to the drama, hype and wait! Now if only Gaiman could sell Medieval Spawn to Marvel so that Hasbro could give a good figure of that character too...!
Hasbro: Marvel Legends - Darkhawk
Darkhawk is one of those C or D tier characters that I really only am aware of because of the old Marvel trading cards in the '90s - but I do have strong nostalgia for those and this is a pretty fun design. The figure is about as good as we could expect from Marvel Legends these days. I really like the dark, metallic blue plastic used for his body and the silver plastic really pops against it. The head, at least on mine, is pretty loose though and kind of tough to pose. The hurdle with figure, though, is the wing design - my recollection is that, like Vulture, the wings are solid and run the length of the arm... but while that looks cool as a drawing it does, of course, offer some practical/physical difficulties in recreating. What's odd here is that the two wing sections don't really match each other, so they don't nest well, plus the elbow-causing gap between tricep and forearm sections is conspicuously wide. Still, though, this is the kind of obscure character I prefer - he's a fun design, unlike older characters like Misty Knight or Thundra. He comes with Titus' (who?) head, which is a really good sculpt and is fairly well painted. Insanely, despite clearly being a separate piece, his jaw is NOT articulated! WTF, mate!?
Hasbro: Marvel Legends - Drax
Ddddrrrraaaaxxxx!!! A real surprise in Gaurdians 1 and, as a result, one of things I'm most looking forward to in Gaurdians 2, so I'm quite jazzed to be getting another figure of him! This is essentially just a repaint of the Drax from the first movie, but it's a good figure and a helluva sculpt - plus gets a much better, screaming head this time around, so I'm cool with it! He comes with who two trademark knives and a big space-bazooka - the former are great, and fit well into the boot-sheaths he has while the latter looks good but, annoyingly, was designed with a grip MUCH larger than Drax's hand. The plastic is soft enough that you can get him to grip it, but it's definitely going to warp the hand and make it difficult for him to hold his dagger. This is the kind of design thing that bugs me A LOT. They KNEW they were using the original tooling, so they knew the grip size they were dealing well before even starting the sculpt. Come on guys. Still though - this is an excellent figure and a very welcome addition to the second volume's team! Oh, and he comes with Titus' (who?) arm.
Hasbro: Marvel Legends - Groot
Toys R Us gets Groot as an exclusive release which is... surprising honestly. He's the breakout character and, from a strategy standpoint, it seems really weird to not have him be a universal release. But... good on TRU for scoring him. Much like Drax, the figure is the same as the one from Gaurdians 1 but now gets a new head. The new head is AWESOME and really does help the figure feel different and unique - it's a great sculpt with really good, clean paint (given the minimal paint on the rest of the figure. What is annoying, though, is that the lower legs are packaged disconnected (to fit him in the package) but there is nothing to indicate which goes to which knee, and while the feet are very unique, the photo on the back of package fades to black at the knees so there isn't even photo reference to use as a guide! For most folks, though, the key selling point is the two pack-ins: Baby Groot and Toddler Groot! Baby is a good sculpt, but seems a little oversized though the pot is a PERFECT fit for Groot's grabby left hand. Conversely, Toddler Groot seems a bit undersized, based on the trailers. And unfortunately he can't stand. Ugh! He's top heavy by design and has zero articulation and no pegholes in his feet, so... he's going to have to carried or leaned-against-something.
Hasbro: Marvel Legends - Yondu
Yondu, YONdu, YonDUUU, YONDU!!! Rooker and this beautiful character design stole all of his scenes and I've been eager to buy any toy of him to date so I'm quite thrilled that he's got a larger role in the new movie, AND that he get's a proper figure, AND that it comes with not one, but TWO heads!!! There's no way I wasn't getting two so that I could have both heads on display - PLUS one has the Volume 1 metal mowhawk while the other has the Volume 2 metal fin! So basically one of these goes my Movie 1 display and the other goes to Movie 2 - PERFECT! Thank you, Hasbro!!! The Movie 1 head has a great Rooker grin while Movie 2 is mid-whistle for controlling his awesome death arrow of doom! His coat is sculpted to allow the arrow-holster to be shown, which is fine, I just wish the arrow could be removed from the energy trail. I get the production/legal/safety reasons for why it's not, and certainly a paint of clippers will solve the issue, but it is a bit of a bummer; especially since the holster is design to best hold the arrow and not the energy trail. Still though, AWESOME figure, and I adore it! He comes with Titus' (who?) right arm, which features a giant, four cylinder cannon for a hand. Somewhat surprisingly the cannon/hand doesn't spin, BUT each of the barrels is open-ended and hollow so I imagine an enterprising customizer could add some neat light effects or blast/missile effects.
Hasbro: Star Wars Black - AT-AT Driver
Every time I decide to take a break from Star Wars Black I find a new series, which tricks me into continuing to buy in. I've never been a fan of the AT-AT Driver costume or design, and it's a toy that only makes sense in the smaller scales where it could actually have an AT-AT to drive... but Star Wars fans will ALWAYS buy troopers, and at least it's a unique look and from the classic trilogy. The sculpt is pretty good and the paint is pretty solid and clean, though the plastic is doing a lot of the work. It's good enough for what it is.
Hasbro: Star Wars Black - Snowtrooper
Hoth has never been a favorite planet of mine, and I'm not a huge fan of Trooper variants, but there is something kinda neat about the Snowtroopers. This figure is, for Black Series standards, remarkably good. This sculpt is quite good and the coloring is too - the armor is glossy white, the "fabric" body suit and skirt are beige-y off-white, which fades dark the closer to the feet it gets - a great touch. This coloring is a combination of plastic and paint, but it does add some nice, subtle dimension to the figure. Articulation is pretty good - not only can you actually turn and move his head (!) but his elbows actually bend - so the curse of Force Awakens crappy elbows is, if not over, rectified for OT characters! Also, this dude gets a standard Stormtrooper blaster, a rifle and, of course, his backpack - a veritable wealth of extras given how stingy the line tends to be.