Apologies for the break. I guess I was, and am, just getting caught up in the 'shelter at home' blues of shiftless laziness in the face of countless streaming services... but lets take some more baby steps towards being the person I want to be rather than the person I am, right? That's what modern humans are meant to do? Well, blow of the dust, sweep out the cobwebs, shake out the brine, and spoil the weak - because it's time for Spoils of the Week!
Disney Store: Toybox - Venom
I've managed to sit out Disney's Toybox line since the first series, but I couldn't pass up this Venom. There's just something about the character that lends itself to very cool, stylized looks and I really like the exaggerated cartoony aesthetic of this figure - plus he comes with alternate heads, which you know I'm a big sucker for. I like the big hulking body and arms with his comparably skinny legs. He's very articulated, with balljoints at the ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, and wrists; and then a swivel joint at the waist and neck. In fact, one of the reasons I got two of this figure was in hopes that I could use it as a body for the Venom-ham head that comes with the Spider-Ham figure, but sadly the way the head attaches is a big fat peg that sticks straight into the body as opposed to some kind of balljoint, like I was expecting. Plus, that Ven-Ham is a pearlescent dark plastic while this guy is black plastic with a very excellent glossy black paint finish. This is certainly the more modern Venom with a more angular spider logo that wraps all the way around his body. I'm not that crazy about it, but it still makes for a neat looking figure. So, he comes with two heads - one classic snarling Venom and then the other in a well classic half exposed Eddie Brock face. The latter is neat and looks better than I would've expected, in fact this might be my favorite unmasked Eddie head released, all things considered. He also comes with a big batch of tendrils that clip onto a peg on his right forearm and wrap around his wrist. Overall, it's a neat figure and when I got it, it was on sale for 10 bucks making it even easier to pull the trigger on getting two!
Funko: Street Fighter - Blanka (Savage World)
I was pretty surprised to see this recently on shelves at Target, thinking this line was not only dead but long behind us. The only one that it that appealed me in the Street Fighter series was Blanka (who I sort of have a character specific collection of) so I figured it was worth picking up for at least him as a way to kind of test out the format. I was never into this 5.5 style or aesthetic before and Funko's weird recent push for it hasn't changed that opinion. I will say, though, this figure turned out better than some of their previous efforts that I've seen - mainly since the character's design is already He-Man-ish anyway. The colors are rich and vibrant here, and the proportions match the character pretty well all things considered. The sculpt is pretty nice and... I don't know, it's cool enough. I was a little surprised that the chains around his ankles aren't removable accessories but part of the sculpt... I'm not sure what I do with them if they were removable, but I guess it's the sort of "thought that counts" kind of thing. His chest hair and head hair are separate pieces cast and bright orange rubber then glued on whereas the rest of the hair tufts are painted, and the ripped pants have a nice two-tone coloring on them. The head and shoulders are basic swivels, while the hips are ball-in-sockets. It's weird and a bummer that the shoulders and head aren't also balljointed but... for 10 bucks I'm fine with this figure and I think it'll look good amongst my other Blankas, but it definitely isn't a purchase I'm particularly proud of.
Hasbro: Marvel Legends - Dr. Doom
Man! How long have we been waiting for a good Dr. Doom Marvel Legends figure!?!? Well actually I can tell you it's been 8 years since the last one was released, which was just a repaint of one from 13 years ago. This Doom, though, is incredible! And with all of the extras I do have to believe the rumors that he was intended to be part of the 80th Anniversary series before getting moved over to this. The texture and detail on the cloth sculpts are just a dream come true and the riveting and detailing on the armor is impeccable! Clearly this is based on the more modern aesthetic, which I really trace to the Sideshow Premium Format figure from several years ago. I know some folks were a little bummed by that choice, but it's a look that I really dig so I'm quite pleased with it. Plus, they did include a more classic looking head (which suddenly I realize does kind of feel like it's within the Alex Ross vibe like the other 80th figures) for a more retro look. In addition to the two alternate Modern and Classic heads, he also gets his little Lugar pistol, that fits into the holster on his belt, and alternate sets of hands with both as fists and then left "open hand" and right "trigger hand." Doom also supplies us with the right leg of the super Skrull Build-A-Figure. It's very easy to shower this figure in complements - I mean he just looks incredible - But... I will say the holster gun holster definitely restricts his hand poses on the right side and, obviously, the plastic skirt limits the leg motion. I'm also very glad that I got two because one of these figures really can't stand well, ...at all. I'm not entirely sure what the deal is but between a mixture of stiff and loose joints throughout the legs and a pretty back-heavy cape it took a lot of balancing work to take this photo. I love Dr. Doom and I love this figure! And now that we have him... one can't stop thinking about the other possibilities! So while I'm madly in love with this one I do hope that we get a more classic version in the future, not to mention a Secret Wars version, and, hell, I'd even buy leather-magic-armor Doom and/or Doom 2099 - I just love Doom that much!
Hasbro: Marvel Legends - Cosmic Ghost Rider
When I heard that Marvel had not only made Frank Castle Ghost Rider, but also put him in space... well I mean that's just the dumbest, gimmicky BS I've ever heard... But then, I saw the design. I mean look at this crazy ass thing, it's just so damn cool! It's ridiculous to think that this is Frank Castle (a.k.a. The Punisher) in there so I choose not to. The design of the figure is, as the name suggests, cosmic and evil looking - it's quite rad. And the space-cycle is just retro sci-fi gold. The big ball in front is a cool multi-piece affair with white plastic lightning within a translucent globe that has texturing on the inside which altogether helps sell the energy-ball effect pretty well. On the exhaust is a very excellent fire effect coming out of the engine; it's not removable which is a bummer but it does look damn cool. He also comes with the same flaming chain as the previous Ghost Riders as well as two awesome space guns! Each of those come with their own awesome, removable fire-blast effects. The fire across the board on this set is just excellent beyond words. The sculpts are stellar and they seem to be cast in a translucent yellow plastic, then shaded with some translucent orange and translucent red paint that just give a great depth to everything! I mean it just looks awesome! The figure itself is really cool and looks entirely new, but the legs are reused from the "modern" Taskmaster. He is a little loose in the joints and tough to get standing, but really who is going to have this guy NOT on the bike? His skull and neck fire are pretty narrow, they look fine as it is but seem awkward when you pop off the Mr. Freeze-ish dome. One of the things that's really cool is the wrists have three concentric sky-blue rings on them in a very Flash Gordon-y style. I think they look great and they're molded in a pretty clever way to maintain their shape and look, while also giving the sense of being individually separated. This whole motorcycle line has been a bit of a mixed bag as far as I'm concerned, and really this is the first one that I got since that first Ghost Rider. That's partly because this looks so cool and partly because it's all new tooling across the board, while the line has generally relied of some not-so exciting repaints! I hope that this helps set a precedent for the future and that will see more like this - I'm desperate for Danny Ketch, so desperate!
Jada Toys: Nano Hollywood Rides - Back to the Future Time Machines
Wow, these are a surprise! I kind of habitually try to check the Hot Wheels aisle since I've developed a little kick out of buying those things, and stumbled across this new take on a Micromachines line from Jada. It has sets of three diecast micro vehicles, very similar to Micromachines size and style. I'm not sure if they're doing these for general vehicles since the only ones I've seen have been for movies, but mostly it's just Fast and the Furious and Transformers... which just look like regular cars anyway. But it turns out that they've done some cool movies as well! I've got 1,000,001 DeLorean so I don't really need another set but for $6... what the hell, I'll pick these up. The sculpts are as you would expect, very similar but with some unique differences to each; for instance the BttF 1 car has the plutonium canister in the back while BttF 2 & 3 cars have Mr. Fusion. BttF 3 has the most unique look, with the old-timey gear on the hood and unique wheels (sculpted to subtly suggest train wheels, so possible prepaint action going on here) painted red to give a sense of those 50s tires, while the BttF 2 car has the wheels sculpted in the "down position" for hovering, which is pretty cool. Paint is pretty basic across the board but the BttF 2 one does have its outer time circuitry painted light blue to give the sense that it's "activated." Each car is a nice bit of heft since the upper shelf is diecast, also the wheels on all three cars work/spin that allow them to like roll as necessary. The BttF 2 car has a set of 4 working wheels in-set from the sculpted wheels, which both maintain the play value while also giving the impression of a bit of hover! I get why this set is all three DeLorean's but I'd be lying if I was saying that it was not particularly exciting - I just assume this is the kind of splash Jada felt they needed to make for a first series. It does make me hopeful that there could be a future set for each film with more cars for each movie, so fingers crossed for some fun repaints of these and some 2015 future cars and, God willing, the time train!
Jada Toys: Nano Hollywood Rides - Batman Returns
This set blew my mind when I first saw it and instantly made me a diehard fan of the series! I'm already an easy mark for this kind of thing since I grew up loving Micromachines, which has made me a huge fan of mini ship replicas for my entire life. But this set comes with something NOBODY has ever done before from this movie... Penguin's kiddie-arcade-ride version of the Batmobile, where he plays this town like a harp from hell! We get the Tim Burton Batmobile and Penguin's Duck Car, both we've got in a couple different versions in other lines and both turned out fine for what they are (though I will say the Batmobile feels a little too small here). The Batmobile Ride vehicle, though, is just... I mean... so good! It looks exactly like it does in the movie - a fun chibi style of the car but with a arcade game mount on the front! I mean it's the sort of thing that just makes one wonder how it took us this long to get a toy of that thing given how many countless iterations we have of everything else from the movie! Especially given that there is no Bat Ski Boat in here... well, that makes me hopeful that we would get another set of this from this movie with that and the Bat Missile. I don't know, man, I just... them starting with this Penguin Ride thing makes me very excited and optimistic for the kind of things that they're looking at doing with this line and I hope that they get the chance to do a lot more because I am fully on board!
Lego: Star Wars - Poe Dameron's X-wing Fighter Polybag (30386)
Lego has released a lot of X-Wing polybags over the years, especially for this new trilogy, so this last movie was no exception. With little fanfare this set came out to Target. It gives us the look of Poe's X-Wing in the new movie, which honestly I can't say I really recall from the film but certainly recognize from the various toys of it - and isn't that the curse of this latest trilogy: the stuff in it isn't all that memorable onscreen, at least as compared to the previous two trilogies. I really do like this design, though, with the orange triangle on it and blue highlights. It's much more appealing than that black X-Wing that he had in the first two films. This set captures the look pretty well and is by far the best polybag X-Wing that they've done yet! That's probably because the parts library has added some nice little detail bricks, and of course whoever designed this was just one real clever person with a smart use of the brick catalog. The highlight here I think are the guns which are built out of a telescope/light saber hilts and, ingeniously, ski poles. The ski poles capture the guns perfectly in the scale. Also, really clever is the use of carrots as the engines and then little rounded 1x1 bricks for the engine intakes. The carrots give a great tapered look, though it's just a shame that they have the sculpted-in texturing and still, well, look like carrots. Weirdly, the instructions have you assemble the wings so that the colored bricks are lined up, but this gives it an odd look that doesn't seem quite natural to the film... but a simple inversion and swapping of the lower wings gives it a much more accurate look which is ultimately what I did and how I'm keeping mine - but in this photo I've got the version that's described in the instructions just for documentation sake. This is absolutely the best polybag X-Wing and I highly recommend it.
Mattel: Hot Wheels - Batman The Animated Series Batmobile
The BTAS Batmobile is my second favorite Batmobile, after the Burton one, so I was very pleasantly surprised when I discovered that Mattel had finally done one in their larger-size Batman Hot Wheels series. This version turned out very nice it has all of the classic design elements that one would expect and hope from for the design it's a little taller than expected but I'm sure that's to accommodate some of the interior stuff and the larger wheels that they gave it. What's nice is that there's a lot of separate tooling in here which adds a lot to this very simple design. All the gray bits on the front of the car, the sides of the engine, the hubcaps, and the exhaust jet in the back are a separate piece from the diecast metal shell of the car, and that separation and use of colored plastic, as opposed to just paint, give a real nice sense of detail. And, of course, the windshields are separate plastic as well, here done in translucent blue. In fact, only the red tail lights on the back and the yellow headlights on the front are paint. It's a nice piece and I'm happy to have it, especially to further build out the line. I don't know how much longer this line will last but this does make me hopeful that we would see some more stuff from the show like the Bat Cycle, the Bat Boat, or even those cool Zephyr Blimps from the opening.
Mattel: Hot Wheels - Batman The Animated Series Batwing
Well the Burton version will always be my favorite Batmobile, but I will have to confess that it's a very neck and neck tossup between the Burton Bat Wing and the BTAS Bat Wing - so I was super jazzed to see that Mattel did this in the larger series as well! There is just something really excellent about the very thin, flat nature of this design and the way it takes the Burton bat symbol concept but stretches it out to feel a bit more airplane-like that really just clicks for me. The sculpt is pretty simple, as it should be, with the wings being one solid piece including the bottom of the plane and then the upper fuselage being a separate peace, and then translucent blue plastic for the windshield. This does come with a nice little solid clear plastic base using the Hot Wheels logo as the armature, and it has a balljoint on the top which plugs into a recess on the underside of the batwing allowing for a nice bit of poseability here. Between the accuracy and the size this is quite probably my very favorite replica of the BTAS Bat Wing ever made, and, yes, I absolutely got two! ...who are we kidding, I have three.
NECA: Hellraiser - Ultimate Pinhead
This figure feels like it's been a long time coming. When Randy first joined NECA he brought with him connections to the Hellraiser franchise, which effectively kicked that license off as NECA's first real foray into action figures. So in a lot of ways this figure is a nice full circle; especially considering that it's a one-off, which is ironic since that's what McFarlane wanted to do but the licensee wanted an entire line which is why we never got a Movie Maniacs Pinhead and then a full multi-wave series from NECA. This figure follows the Ultimate format pretty well - he's got tons of articulation and a good assortment of accessories, though to be a proper ultimate figure I feel like there should be something more here... perhaps a base or something. He does come with two sets of alternate hands which allow for different poses and holding of things. His two knives and saw are packaged separately and then manually hung onto a loose string on his torso which is okay, but mine certainly have a tendency to fall off as I try to pose him, so I sort of prefer the original versions that just had holes in the actual plastic rather than these metal hooks. He also gets two of the Lament Configuration boxes, one closed and then one open. Both just have prints in gold paint for the detail, which is understandable but also kind of a bummer given the "ultimate" nature of the figure. Then of course there are the two heads which is a nice touch! We get Pinhead's standard no-expression head and an open mouth grimace head - and yes, I'll probably end up getting a second one to display both heads! The other big claim to fame the figure has is: for the first time fully articulated legs under a cloth skirt for Pinhead. That's really the main difference between this figure and the previous ones but also something that doesn't feel totally necessary. I mean, it's not like Pinhead is known for jumping and kicking... he pretty much just stands there looking pretty. I kind of figured that these legs would be reused for an Ultimate Chatterer later on but these legs look to be fairly different designs and sculpts. The skirt is interesting, it's a thin cloth but has a kind of semi-reflective plastic-y paint print on it to give a hint of that leathery sort of look. Surprisingly, it also has a metal wire along the bottom seam, and a split running up the back. The metal wire is an interesting touch but feels like it adds too much, I don't know, responsibility on me as the collector to work it into a good pose whereas pure fabric would've just hung there. The split up the back is also kind of annoying since it's not necessary for action poses, but how often are you really looking at Pinhead from the back? So I guess it's OK. The biggest star here is the arm articulation! We've got balljointed shoulders, double balljointed elbows, and balljointed wrists. These joints all work amazingly! They look great and allow for really awesome poses, like the iconic "holding the box between the hands" and so forth. This pretty much IS the ultimate Pinhead figure, as the name would imply, and if you don't have any of the previous figures I highly recommend this one! And even if you do have those, the possibility of this figure's arms make him a very fun addition to the collection.
NECA: The Joy Of Painting - Bob Ross
Over the last decade I've become a massive fan of the soothing tones and optimistic outlook of one Mr. Bob Ross. I'm very glad that his organization has put up every episode of the Joy Of Painting up on YouTube for free; and quite frankly I spend a lot of time watching those or just having them on in the background to calm the wild beast that is modern living. So I was equally excited when NECA announced this figure! He is done in NECA's pseudo-Mego style and, while I'm not crazy about it, this is definitely a good fit for the format - meaning it's something that justifiably couldn't quite spend tooling money on, plus there's something about Bob that kind of fits with this kind of thing. This is the first time that they've done a sort of "ultimate" release in this format, which allows NECA to include his easel! It has a painting permanently attached, then hinged back legs and a separate table top that that fits in between the legs, and into that pops the bucket of odorless paint thinner (for the almighty brush cleaning) which is sculpted full and glossy paint really nails the effect! Bob also comes with a paint knife, a 2-inch brush, and a 1-inch fan brush. He also comes with his pallet, which is a fantastic piece done in clear plastic with 12 different paint swatches sculpted onto it which are then individually painted to give you a pretty accurate sense of what he uses on each episode. Perhaps my favorite detail that with the whole figure is the missing nub on his left forefinger, it results from an injury he had while in the army and it's one of those little details that if you know about it you cannot unsee but is subtle enough that a lot of folks aren't aware of it (for instance the Funko Pop! figures). Bob uses the same body as most of the other not-Mego figures but has newly sculpted a newly sculpted head, hands and, I presume, boots. Interestingly the hands are fully painted, just like the head, despite connecting to bare arms - it's a rare instance where I wish that NECA hadn't painted them because there's a slight color tone difference. The hands are cast in a very tough plastic which is good for the right hand because it helps ensure that he can hold any of the brushes, but makes it very difficult to get the pallet into his left hand. The head is a decent sculpt but the likeness isn't very accurate - the features are a bit too wide and squat, at the least. This is definitely a younger Bob from the earlier seasons, so maybe that's part of it. But take the figure as a whole and it's very clear who it is, partly thanks to the signature blue jeans and light blue, partly unbutton shirt. Despite my complaints I'm very happy with this release and it's a wonderful example of NECA branching out into some very cool, fun, new places, and I really hope that they continue this trend of going off the beaten action figure path!
(Oh and for those interested the painting on the easel is "Meadow Lake" from Season 2, Episode 1, and the interestingly-different paint on the packaging insert is "Mountain by the Sea" from Season 9, Episode 12. Bob painted three versions of each painting (a master/control piece, then copied it for TV and again for step-by-step photos in how-to books). Sadly, the ones used are the more detailed master paintings... I would have really preferred the screen-accurate versions, at least for the easel.)
Playmobil: Scooby Doo! - Scooby and Shaggy with Ghost (70287)
One of my favorite things about Playmobil was that they didn't get into the licensing game... but licensing waits for no man, alas. Once they did jump in, they helped calm my unease by going after licenses that actually made for good fit for the company; of course there was Ghostbusters and now we have Scooby Doo. I was never a big fan of the show but I must admit that there is appeal to all of the monster designs and I've enjoyed getting toys of those over the years. So when Playmobil got this I was tentatively quite intrigued... and everything they've revealed has just been exciting as heck! This is the first set that I've found (and it was at Walmart), and it's pretty much the one set you'll get since it's got Shaggy and Scooby plus a very cool Ghost. The ghost is a two-part "sheet" piece that is all new sculpts cast in glow-in-the-dark plastic! There's the sheet which the guy slides in to thanks to a hole in the back that allows his head to poke through, then click on around his neck, and then a hood that clips onto his hair like any classic Playmobil hat. The sculpt is wonderful and it just looks rad! It feels feels appropriately Playmobil-y despite the arms being raised up in a way the Playmobil figures can't do. Shaggy is a nice figure and uses a lot of familiar pieces to re-create the classic character and the color choices do a lot to help convey the sense of him. Scooby is an all new sculpt and surprisingly cool with articulation at the shoulders, hips and tail as well as a hinge joint at the neck allowing his head to move up and down, as well as having a hinged jaw. His front paws even have a little holes in them that allow him to hold standard Playmobil accessories, but sadly he isn't balanced well enough to stay upright while holding his one of the arms up. The set also comes with Scooby's collar, which is a removable piece, as well as his dog tag, then we get a bag of Scooby snacks, a hamburger, a leash, a figure stand (for some reason) and a clear plastic "rap sheet" with a sticker on it for the ghost. I don't really get the point of the stand or the rap sheet but I'm certainly not gonna complain about having them. This is just a fun little set and it's really did whet my appetite to get the blind bag ghost series and, actually, a lot of. if not the entirety of the rest of the series!
Spin Master: Batman - King Shark (Hammerhead)
I think we were all relatively surprised when Mattel lost the DC license, and very intrigued that it was Spin Master, of all companies, that picked up the main retail or kid targeted set of rights. I have to say that I haven't been too impressed by what I've seen from them. I like the idea, but the actual execution have felt weirdly subpar to a lot of stuff. The bad guys are always the coolest thing in toylines and impressively Spin Master leaned into some of the monsters in Batman's cannon right off the, ahem, bat. They made "regular" King Shark in their deluxe line, and then this more modern Hammerhead version as a Target exclusive. The deluxe figures don't appeal to me enough to spend $15, but for eight bucks (Target has the line for $10 but marked down their exclusive figures for whatever reason) I was happy to pick this up and give them to give the line a (once again), ahem, spin. The sculpt is good and certainly helped by the bulkiness of the figure, but the detailing feels conspicuously soft in the proportions are not great - as if they were sculpting things to fit the 4" height more than a sense of realism (or dare say quality). Still though it's a neat figure, and is identical to Great White version from the neck down. One of the gimmicks of the series was having blind boxed accessories that would come in different colors, which is kind of a fun combo of retro Playmates style of accessories and the relatively recent boom of blind boxing. Since I don't care about these accessories or particular colors it doesn't bother me at all. The package is designed in a way that the accessories are packaged as though they were in a locker, which I'm sure is some degree of fun for kids. This guy comes with two guns and a clip-on chest armor (that he can't wear) all in translucent gray smoky plastic. The sculpts on all of these are very exaggerated and cartoony, and just not appealing to me. I like the idea and the intent here but for me, much like this entire line, it just feels "off" in the final execution. So, in today's world of higher prices I'm just going to sit this line out (mostly) and spend that money on the things that excite me more, as opposed to old Rustin I would just buy it because it exists - so applaud my growing maturity.