CY-KILL (SALMOORE) 2014

TF-Cykill fullGO-BOTS

Today marks the 3 year anniversary of this blog. I posted my first review way back on December 18, 2011. I was pretty gung-ho about this new venture at first and I was posting multiple reviews a day regularly. Unfortunately I didn’t own a digital camera at the time so for my first bunch of reviews I just lifted pictures of action figures from the internet. It wasn’t until a full month later (January 17 to be precise) that Vanessa bought me a camera for my birthday. Since then I’ve taken all my own pictures (perhaps to the detriment of the blog because I’m a crappy photographer). One of the pre-camera posts from that first month was a review of Cy-Kill from Tonka’s short-lived Go-Bots toyline. For that review in particular it was probably for the best that I used a stock image of the toy instead of taking pics of my own figure. My original 1983 Cy-Kill is in rough shape. One of his arms is busted off, the handle bar on the shoulder of the remaining arm is broken off, the joints are loose, the accessories are missing, and the chrome has worn off in several places. Despite all that I still think it’s a great looking figure. As I said in the original review there’s just something about Cy-Kill’s design that really appeals to me.  I’m not sure why I only gave him a 6 out of 10. TF-Cykill back

The Go-Bots were basically trounced from existence by Hasbro’s Transformers line and it’s easy to see why. The Transformers had better toys, they had a better cartoon, and they had a top-selling Marvel comic book. But I’ve always retained a soft spot for the Go-Bots. The toys were really basic but they had a charm about them. Their transformations were simple, they were mostly all the same size (the same scale as G.I. Joes and Star Wars figures), they were brightly colored, and they had laughably on-the-nose names. Naming a motorCYCLE “CY-KILL” for example is so dumb that it’s brilliant. I didn’t have many Go-Bots when I was a kid but I really liked each one I had. Regrettably, I got rid of most of them at the same time I got rid of my Transformers but I held onto my 2 favorites, Cop-Tur the helicopter, and Cy-Kill.

TF-Cykill torso

I would love to see the classic Go-Bots toys make a comeback but the chances of that happening seem to be slim to none. Hasbro bought the rights to the Go-Bots franchise years ago but the actual character likenesses still belong to Bandai, whom Tonka leased them from.  So while Hasbro produced Go-Bots/Transformers crossover toys are off the table there have been a few subtle interactions between the two in the Transformers comic books. Cy-Kill was featured in a flashback story that explained how the Decepticon leader, Megatron, was once a gladiator before he was a terrorist.  In the gladiator scene Megatron is shown to slay an unnamed bot who bares a striking resemblance to Cy-Kill.TF-Cykill comic

In the past few years there has been a flood of unlicensed Transformers toys hitting the market produced by third-party companies.  But these aren’t the dollar-store knock offs you might expect.  Third party Transformers are some of the best on the market.  They’re made by people who clearly love the characters.  I’ve got some fantastic third party Transformers such as Stormbomb (Bombshell), Cogz (Gears), and the Shark Attack Squad (Sharkticons) just to name a few.  It never occured to me that one of these companies might attemp a Go-Bot.TF-Cykill toon face

Well DX9 is the first company out of the gate (I’m pretty sure) to do it and I couldn’t be happier.  I have no idea how these companies get away with doing what they do but I’m sure glad they do.  Often times I’m reluctant to pay the high asking prices for these third party figures because there’s always the possibility that Hasbro will release their own version of the character at a much lower cost.  But with Cy-Kill there’s no chance of that so this purchase was a no-brainer.TF-Cykill pose

As soon as I saw this figure available for pre-order on BigBadToyStore I absolutely loved it.  But the price was $100 so that did give me pause.  I waited months and months hoping to see a price reduction but at the end of November I finally pulled the trigger.  I felt I couldn’t wait any longer because I knew this figure would be a contender for my toy of the year so I had to get it in-hand and reviewed before posting my year-end list.  As luck would have it, the figure went on sale for $70 the very next day and BBTS credited me the $30 difference.  Score.

This figure is named Salmoore.  They can’t call him Cy-Kill for legal reasons but I’m not sure why they didn’t go with something a little closer like Cyke-Ill.  I have no idea what Salmoore means.  It doesn’t sound tough and it makes me think of salmon.  So as far as I’m concerned this figure’s name is Cy-Kill.TF-Cykill box

First I want to quickly mention the box this figure came in.  Theres a picture of the toy on the back with a small bio and the whole thing is pretty nice looking but the artwork on the front is wicked.  I love it.  The figure itself is also quite wicked. He stands about 6″ tall and he’s very well articulated.  He bends at the ankles, knees, hips, waist, neck, shoulders, and elbows.  The colors are nice and  bright and very reminiscent of the original figure.  Most importantly the sculpt on this figure is absolutely amazing.

When I compared the new and the old versions I was surprised to see just how different they were.  Salmoore’s feet are quite different, the head sculpt is a mix of the old toy and the cartoon look, and the arms are no longer chrome. The big round chrome hands were one of my favorite aspects of the original toy and it would have been nice if Slmoore at least came with alternate arms that more closely resembled the originals.  That said, I think almost all of the changes are an improvement over the original design.  The mismatched feet look great and the face sculpt is deadly.TF-Cykill compare

For accessories Cy-Kill comes with  two tires.  In his motorcycle alt-mode it’s obvious where they go but in his robot mode they can be attached to his shoulders just like with the original.  This toy also has removable spiked armor that can be placed on the tires.  he looks super cool either way.  Also his exhaust (or whatever they are) can be removed from his bike mode and can be used as guns when he’s in robot mode.

Speaking of his bike mode, it looks pretty sweet from the images I’ve seen but I have no intention of transforming mine.  I read online that the transformation process can be difficult because the arms are wonky or something.  That doesn’t bother me any because my Cy-Kill will always be displayed in robot mode.TF-Cykill bike

This toy is absolutely great and I’m so happy I finally bit the bullet and ordered him.  I really hope DX9 tackles some more Go-Bots in the future.  I would love to get an updated Cop-Tur. The only complaint I have about this figure is that the legs are a little loose.  I wish they were stiffer so his stance was more solid but overall this toy is epic.  10 out of 10.TF-Cykill victory

DESTRO v.29 (2014)

Joe-Destro v29 full2G. I. JOE: 50th Anniversary

With the passing of 2014 so to passes the 50th anniversary of G.I. Joe. It was a pretty lackluster anniversary as far as standard G.I. Joe figures were concerned. We got four 2-packs, a couple 3-packs, and a couple vehicle packs. Fortunately, besides the limited standard releases we also got a great convention set and 13 new subscription figures from the Collector’s Club, a bevy of Kre-O block figures, some unexpected Burger King kids meal toys, and the promise of 12” retro-figures from Gentle Giant. So while the 50th anniversary lacked the impact of the 25th anniversary it could have been much worse.

The small wave of anniversary product that Hasbro did provide us with was an interesting mix of figures. Some were straight re-releases of figures we’d seen before, like the Cobra Trooper and Hawk. Some were repaints of figures and vehicles we already had, like the Viper and the VAMP. And some were brand new figures, like Heat Viper and Ice Viper. The plastic used was softer than usual and there were a number of reports of quality controls issues in regards to the paint apps so some fans were fairly disappointed.  Personally, I was quite satisfied with anniversary figures overall. One of the biggest highlights from the small assortment was Destro.Joe-Destro v29 back

Destro’s been around since 1983 and this is the 32nd version of him in the 3 ¾” scale; the 19th version in the modern style alone (the reason it says v.29 above is a technicality I won’t bother getting into). As with other overexposed characters like Snake Eyes, Cobra Commander, and Duke, I usually try to avoid buying the multitude of Destro variants Hasbro puts out. The way I see it, you really only need 2 versions of Destro: His v.1 look from 1983 featuring the silver chrome helmet, exposed chest and medallion, and his v.2 Iron Grenadier look from 1988 featuring a gold helmet and cape. Practically all of the other versions that have come out since are just redundant variations of those two signature looks.

Joe-Destro v29 face

 

 

 

 

The first modern version of Destro came out in 2007. It featured the 1983 silver helmet design and I thought it was a great figure. It still holds up as one of the best 2007 figures. Hasbro was still working out the kinks of the new figure construction at that point so some of the other 2007 offerings are pretty wonky. The first modern take on the 1988 gold-helmeted Grenadier version of Destro came out in 2008 and it was also quite good.  With 2 great modern construction style figures in my collection, one representing each of the character’s iconic costumes, I should’ve been able to stop buying Destro figures  right then and there. Unfortunately Hasbro kept including variations of Destro in multi-packs with other figures and vehicles that I needed so I ended up with a half dozen more Destros that I didn’t really want or need.

This particular Destro was another multi-pack version.  It was included in a 3-pack with the re-release of General Hawk and one of the must-have 50th anniversary figures, Leatherneck.  Therefore I would’ve got saddled with this Destro whether I wanted him or not in order to get Leatherneck. However, in this case, I wanted this Destro; I wanted him bad.  Yes, it’s another modern-style take on 1983 Destro, much like the 2007 figure, but this one is  totally badass.

2014 vs 2007

2014 vs 2007

The first difference you’ll notice between the ’07 version and this figure is that this version is much taller; by at least a quarter inch. Bigger doesn’t always mean better but in this case I think it does. Real people come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and one aspect of the modern construction that I really like is that it allows for a much wider array of body types. This figure is a frig’n giant.  Destro wasn’t generally portrayed in the comics or cartoons as being huge but he was definitely an imposing character. I think the original toy would have been bigger if the designers had the ability to do that back in ’83. This larger physique really suits Destro’s character.

The other thing about this figure which immediately stands out is the head sculpt. It’s absolutely deadly. This is the closest we’ve come to a figure that accurately represents Destro’s 1983 card art. The artwork featured a mask with blunt angles but the original toy, and every subsequent version until now, has featured a very rounded mask; almost like the silver is Destro’s actual skin. I like the smoother look but this angular design is a refreshing change of pace.Joe-Destro v29 art

The last thing that needs to be pointed out is the collar. This thing is a beast and it looks super cool. The collars of previous figures look laughable when compared to this. Destro has always had a flair for over-the-top ceremonial garb and this collar finally does him some justice. The rest of the body construction is good but not particularly noteworthy.

For accessories Destro comes with a display stand (with nifty gold accents) and a briefcase. Destro has come with similar cases before and they’re usually filled with money which makes sense given that he’s a very wealthy professional arms dealer. This time around the case contains a rifle broken down into 5 separate components. It’s very cool and perhaps even more appropriate than the money cases.Joe-Destro v29 case

This is an excellent Destro figure. I’m reluctant to say it’s my favorite simply because it’s lacking a vac-metal chrome helmet which is a Destro must. However, I feel that the beautiful sculpted detail on the mask would have been lost had they chromed it so I guess I have to give Hasbro a pass on that. Chances are they’ll eventually release a chromed variant of this figure anyway and so I’ll end up adding yet another Destro to my collection. 10 out of 10.Joe-Destro v29 gang

RON BURGUNDY (2014)

Ron fullANCHORMAN

I’ve been a loyal Saturday Night Live fan since I was about 12 years old. I started watching it when the regular cast consisted of Mike Myers, Chris Rock, David Spade, Chris Farley, Kevin Nealon, Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, and Phil Hartman just to name a few. To me those will always be the glory days of the show and it would seem pretty hard to argue that point with a cast like that. I’ve stuck with it through every incarnation since and I continue to watch it every weekend (Did you see the James Franco episode last week? Pretty funny stuff).

The show has had its ups and down and I’m really not sure it would have survived past the 90s if not for Will Ferrell carrying it for a few years. It wasn’t like the old days where everyone was on the verge of making it big; Will was clearly the star of the show for several years with the others serving to support him. Every year I worried he’d bail for Hollywood because his profile was growing with each hilarious supporting role he threw himself into (Zoolander, The Ladies’ Man, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, etc.). Ferrell did eventually leave SNL in 2002 after his 7 year stint and he quickly solidified his status as Hollywood’s reigning funny man with his role of Frank “the tank” in Old School.Ron face

Will has starred in a bunch of funny movies since (and his fair share of duds as well) but in my mind he attained comedic perfection with 2005’s Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.

I have watched Anchorman so many goddamn times. It’s probably the movie I’ve watched the most as an adult.  Not since I was a little kid watching Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Young Guns on a weekly basis have I devoted so many hours to a film.

Ron backWhen Anchorman came out I was living with my best friend at the time, Matt Merrick. My year living with Matt was the only time in my life I’ve lived with a roommate who wasn’t my girlfriend. The result of spending so much time with a dude with a similar sense of humour was that we developed our own short-hand way of speaking to each other. Movie quotes became our language and no movie was more quotable than Anchorman. Generally, I don’t care to watch movies over and over again but Matt always wanted to watch it and I never objected. It was Seinfeldian in that no matter how many times I watched it I still laughed. The DVD was packed with so much bonus material as well that we were eventually quoting deleted scenes and nobody knew what the hell we were talking about.Ron shirt

Thank goodness there was no Anchorman merchandise available back then as I feel we would have spent a fortune buying up every stupid thing. We essentially fed off of each other’s love of the film. Once Matt and I parted ways and I didn’t watch the movie for a while the quoting ceased (mostly) and the fanaticism subsided.

I do still love the movie though and I was pretty stoked to see Anchorman action figures finally hitting the shelves to coincide with the release of 2013’s sequel. I had planned to buy the 13” talking Ron doll but when I actually saw the thing in stores I was disappointed. One of his eyes was missing, replaced with a twinkling golden light. The package referred to it as “Whiskey Vision” and I believe it was supposed to be an homage to the Six-Million Dollar Man doll from the 70s with bionic eye. I thought it just looked stupid and the inclusion of a pair of sunglasses wasn’t enough to salvage it.Ron-Whiskey

So instead I bought this 8” Ron Burgundy doll designed in the style of the classic Mego figures. This doll is labelled “Battle Ready Ron” and it features him in the blue suit he wore during the classic News-team street fight scene from the first movie. The outfit is accurate to the scene but I would have preferred a Ron figure in his trademark maroon suit, as was featured on the Whiskey Vision version. Another thing I prefer about the 13” version is the more neutral expression on his face. The fact that this Ron is sculpted in mid battle cry is appropriate but, like the blue suit, it’s a little too scene specific for my liking. My final gripe is the lack of socks. I’m not sure if he had socks on in the movie but nothing looks douchier than a guy in a suit with bare ankles and white loafers.Ron ankle

Having said all that, this is a really cool figure. The likeness to Will Ferrell is spot on. There’s some nice sculpting in the immaculately blow-dried hair. The two-toned paint job of the hair and the fine detail of the eyes really bring him to life.

The body construction feels to be about the same as any doll in this scale. There’s plenty of articulation so he can be displayed in many “battle ready” poses. One hand is clenched into a fist while the other is open so that he can hold his included weapon, a table leg. Ha.

His suit consists of slacks, a dress shirt, a film-accurate tie, and a jacket. I assume it’s all removable but I haven’t attempted to undress him. The front of his jacket has a single button which looks to hold it closed but it’s actually held shut with Velcro which can be easily opened. The suit fits him pretty well but the collar of the shirt seems a little wonky. The material is quite thin though and in certain light you can see his flesh tone through his pants.Ron fight

 

This isn’t the perfect Anchorman figure but it’s a pretty good one. And best of all, the rest of the news team is available in this scale as well.  Presently Ron is slugging it out with Brick Tamlen on my desk at work surrounded by a crowd of POP! figurines.  I hope to eventually pick up Brian and Champ but until I do I can make do with stand-ins.  7 out of 10.Ron team

COBRA VIPER COMMANDO v.24 (2009)

Joe-Viper v24 fullG. I. JOE: Rise of Cobra

When the modern era of G.I. Joe action figures began in 2007 with the release of the 25th anniversary series I was 100% on board. I had been bitten by the Joe bug as an adult collector in ’02 and had amassed a sizeable collection of new-sculpt era Joes from 2002 to 2006 but by the time the 25th anniversary figures were announced I was ready for something new. The highly detailed, slightly bigger figures made for better display pieces which really appealed to my collector sensibilities. I fervently bought up all the modern style Joes I could get my hands on during the first 2 years of the modern era. That all came to a screeching halt in 2009 with the release of the first live-action G. I. Joe movie, Rise of Cobra (ROC), and the corresponding toyline.Joe-Viper v24 back

The Rise of Cobra movie had no shortage of problems. Many aspects of it really pissed me off when they were first revealed; such as Cobra Commander’s appearance and Marlon Wayans being cast as Ripcord. Despite the problems I liked the movie the from very first time I saw it in theaters and I’ve enjoyed every subsequent viewing on Blu-ray. It’s definitely not the G.I. Joe movie I would’ve made but it’s a fun ride.

So why then did I buy so few of the movie-based action figures? The figures were well made and the actor likenesses were pretty good.Joe-Viper v24 face

I suppose I just didn’t feel like they were “the real” G.I. Joe. For example, I already had a perfectly good modern-era figure of the Joe’s leader, General Hawk, in his trademark brown bomber jacket, camo pants, and goggled green helmet. I didn’t see any reason why I should spend another $10 on a Hawk figure that looked like Dennis Quaid in a T-shirt.  What do I need a Dennis Quaid figure for?  I feel the same way about the movie versions of Marvel characters. I collect figures based on the characters’ comic book appearances and I rarely like to display them with movie-based figures that look like real actors.  I loved the Guardians of the Galaxy movie but i don’t want a Star Lord figure that looks like Chris Pratt.

Actor-likenesses aside, the movie figures just seemed rather bland when compared to the bright and diverse 25th anniversary figures. Most of the ROC figures were black and gray.  I decided to pick up a just a handful of figures and then wait the movie line out in hopes that things would return to normal afterwards. Thankfully we saw a return to the status quo when the toy line transitioned from Rise of Cobra to Pursuit of Cobra in 2010 and then to the 30th Anniversary line in 2012.Joe-Viper v24 guns

I was glad to be rid of the ROC figures and I never would have predicted that I would one day regret not buying them when they were readily available. Many of the movie figures have grown on me over time and I even find myself thinking, “Gee, it would be kind of neat to have a G.I. Joe figure that looks like Dennis Quaid.”

The ROC figure that has grown on me the most is the Neo-Viper. These guys were the grunts of the movie, essentially the blueshirts. I really disliked them at first which is why I gave Neo-Viper version 9 a mere 4 out of 10 rating. My view had softened by the time I reviewed the red repaint of that figure called the Crimson Neo-Viper which scored a 6 out of 10. Later still, I gave the copper colored version 10  a 7 out of 10 and I gave the bulky “Action Battlers” version an 8 out of 10.  Every time I look at this design I tend to like it more and more.

The ROC Neo-Viper was a poor substitute for the Cobra Trooper in the movie but I have found a place for them in my Cobra army and in my heart. The Neo-Viper design has grown on me so much that I made it a mission to track down all of the different colored variations of which there are many. This was a mission I thought I had accomplished a while back until a couple of weeks ago when I stumbled across 2 variations of the Neo-Viper I didn’t have yet while perusing an online toy store. The reason those 2 versions slipped past me is because even though they look just like Neo-Vipers they were given different names. One was named Neo-Viper Officer and this guy was named Cobra Viper Commando. That means when I search “Neo-Viper” on Yojoe.com, the internet’s premiere G.I. Joe figure database, these 2 figures don’t show up. So many ROC figures came out in 2009 and so many of them look similar and so many of them were exclusive to certain stores so it was very easy to miss a couple.Joe-Viper v24 side

I ordered the 2 figures (along with a few others) and they arrived in the mail less than 2 weeks later. I think I can safely say that I now own every variation of the ROC Neo-Viper, a total of nine.

This is the Cobra Viper Commando, though he should be named Neo-Viper version 12.  He was included in a Toys R Us exclusive 3-pack with Destro and an Elite Viper. Since I’ve reviewed this exact same figure in multiple color schemes already I don’t have too much more to say about it. The core body is pretty simple consisting of  ordinary looking pants and a ribbed sweater.  It’s the plated vest and the head sculpt that make this guy stand out.  Most Neo Vipers have a metallic colors head with a black paint wash to bring out the details in the face.  This figure has the opposite: the head is sculpted in black and a metallic silver wash is used to bring out the detail.  It looks really cool and creepy, partly alien and partly skeletal.  The big red eyes enhance the creepy factor even further.Joe-Viper v24 group

He comes equipped with a display base, a pistol, and 2 laser rifles which can be stored on the sides of his backpack.  I really like it when all of a figure’s accessories can be held or worn at the same time.  It saves from adding to the giant box of loose accessories I have in the closet.

The last thing I should mention about this figure is the metallic blue paint used on his armor and gloves.  It looks fantastic and really shows off the scratchy details in the vest.  I don’t know if this my favorite version of this trooper but it’s up there.  9 out of 10.

SCUNNER (2014)

PR-Scunner fullPACIFIC RIM

As a monster fan I was super stoked about the movie Pacific Rim coming out, however, I was a little disappointed with the end result. Don’t get me wrong though, I  did enjoy it and I thought the monsters looked great. It was more so the human story and the robot designs that let me down. After seeing the designs for the Jaegers for the first time I knew I wouldn’t be collecting any of them in action figure form, they just didn’t do it for me, but  I was excited about the Kaiju figures, even after being slightly disappointed by the movie. I could not wait to get my hands on a Knifehead figure based on the trailers I had seen in the months leading up to the release of the film.PR-Scunner back

But, like the film itself, that first Pacific Rim figure failed to meet my lofty expectations. It was good, it just wasn’t great. The articulation was very limited, the paint apps were muted, and worst of all he seemed small. He stood about 6” tall which is a pretty standard action figure size but he was supposed to be a massive, city-stomping monster. I don’t need all my monster action figures to be 2 feet tall necessarily (because I’d have nowhere to put them) but I feel they should be at least 12 inches.

Luckily Neca upped their game before the next wave of PR figures hit the shelves. The later Kaiju figures were bigger, bulkier, better articulated, and more colorful. Wave 2’s Leatherback was superior to Knifehead, wave 3’s Trespasser was superior to Leatherback, and wave 4’s Scunner is my favorite Kaiju figure to date.

PR-Scunner head

My favorite monster in the film is still Knifehead and thankfully Neca released a bigger and better deluxe version of him as part of wave 3 alongside Trespasser.  Sadly, I couldn’t justify buying another version of Knifehead so soon after I bought the first one but I’m pretty sure that I’ll scoop it up eventually. Both Trespasser and Scunner were built with the reused body of that wave 3 Knifehead as the base. You could argue that it’s a lazy cost saving measure by Neca to reuse the same body parts for all the creatures but that’s the way they looked in the movie. If you recall, it was discovered that the Kaiju are actually all clones so it makes perfect sense that they would share physical attributes. Besides, Neca has stepped up and sculpted all new bodies when it was warranted for more unique characters such as Leatherback and the upcoming Otachi.PR-Sunner face

Also, the bodies used for Knifehead, Trespasser and Scunner aren’t as similar as they appear at first glance. Neva has swapped out a few parts here and there so that each has their own unique design.  For example, when I pose my Trespasser and Scunner side-by-side I can see that they have different tails (Scunner’s is 3 pronged), different “shells” on their backs, different hands, and perhaps even different forearms.  Scunner also has an additional layer of armour over his chest and shoulders to further differentiate him from his clone.

The best part about this figure, as is always the case with the Pacific Rim figures, is the head sculpt.  The different headshapes are what really make each Kaiju distinctive. Scunner looks like a shark crossed with a bull then put through an alien blender; he’s all kinds of weird looking.   He’s also super cool looking.  I love his hammerhead-like eyes and the big giant horns on the sides of his head.  He’s got 2 rows of little needle teeth and a sculpted tongue that you can see when you open his mouth.  His jaw is hinged but it doesn’t have as much movement as previous PR figures.PR-Scunner movie

Besides the wicked sculpt this figure also has the best paint job we’ve seen yet.  I’ll admit I wasn’t sold on the lines painted on these figures when I got my Knifehead figure.  They looked like an afterthought and the yellow used was really dull.  But on the later figures like Scunner here the designers have really embraced the lines and made them bright and bold.  Scunner features vibrant turquoise swirls and patterns all over his body just like he did in the movie when he battle Gypsy Danger at the bottom of the sea.  It looks fantastic.  These figures would be much less interesting to look at without them.

This is an awesome figure and I’m looking forward to adding more Kaiju to my shelf since these figures continue to get better and better.  Next up is Axehead.  Scunner gets a strong 9 out of 10.

PR-Scunner group

MAJOR BLUDD v.1 (1983)

Joe-Bludd v1 fullG. I. JOE

I got rid of a lot of my toys when I was a young teen but I didn’t get rid of any of my G.I. Joes.  I still have every Joe figure that I owned as a kid…except one.  I don’t know how or when but at some point I lost my 1983 Major Bludd figure.  I took pretty good care of my toys so it boggles my mind how that one figure slipped through my fingers.  Luckily I lost him around the time I stopped playing with toys.  So while it annoyed me that he was missing from my collection at least he didn’t miss out on any of the epic battles that took place on my bedroom floor.Joe-Bludd v1 face

Bludd is an important character in the world of G.I. Joe and he was especially important to me because he was my first “name” Cobra.  I already had the Cobra Trooper figure which represented Cobra’s legions of nameless infantrymen but my brother Doug had both Cobra Commander and Destro, the main bad guy characters.  My Bludd figure allowed me to have a voice in our Cobra commander centre. He was the general of our Cobra forces who always lead the troops into battle while the Commander and Destro often hung back at HQ.  Major Bludd was featured in the cartoon series fairly heavily so between his animated portrayal and his file card he was a pretty well rounded and developed character.   He was a skilled pilot, and Aussie, and a poet.  Plus he was one of very few bad guys to have a full name: Sebastian Bludd.Joe-Bludd v1 back

I hadn’t bought a G.I. Joe figure in a decade when I saw Major Bludd version 4 at Toys R Us in 2000.  They released a bunch of repainted old Joe figures that year.  I probably wouldn’t have bought any of them but I had to pick up the 2-pack featuring Bludd and a Rock Viper because it still bothered me all those years later that I didn’t have this character in my collection.  Version 4 was pretty nice but nothing beats the original.  I always planned to buy another ’83 Bludd if I ever saw one at a good price.

Well that day finally came this month when Nate contacted through this blog and offered to sell me his old toys for five dollars a piece.  I mostly bought Star Wars and DC Super Powers figures but I did pick up 3 all old Joes, all from 1983: Cobra Commander, Breaker, and Major Bludd.Joe-Bludd v1 arm

I’m super stoked to have this figure back in my collection.  It’s just as good as I remember it.  The sculpt is relatively simple but very distinct.  Bludd has multiple defining characteristics.  On his torso he has chest armour and 4 dog tags (taken from fallen enemies perhaps?).  His head sculpt features not only an oddly shaped helmet and a bitch’n moustache but also an eyepatch.  His most defining feature, however, has to be his right arm. It’s sculpted in solid black plastic and it doesn’t have an elbow joint.  It looks like the arm off a Darth Vader figure.  This strange appendage has never been officially explained.  Is it a robotic arm? A prosthesis of some kind? A cast?  Or none of the above?  Why not put an elbow joint on it regardless?  Later versions of the character, such as Version 4, presented the Major with 2 normal arms but the stiff black arm has returned on the modern era figures.

Joe-Bludd v1 compare

Bludd came with a pistol-like missile launcher and a little black backpack with sculpted spare missiles.  Nate’s figure was missing the gun but still had the backpack.  Not a big deal because I think I may still have the gun from my original figure anyway.

This is a great figure from the heyday of action figures. 8 out of 10.

SUPERGIRL (2014)

DC-Supergirl fullDC DIRECT

I never read DC comics when I was a kid so most of my DC knowledge back then came from cartoons like the Super Friends, TV shows like Batman, and movies like Superman. I’m not sure when I first became aware of Superman’s cousin Supergirl but my first significant exposure to her was likely the 1984 Supergirl movie starring Helen Slater. I loved Christopher Reeve’s Superman movies when I was young (still do) and I really liked the Supergirl spin-off too. The movie was pretty cheesy but Slater played Supergirl very earnestly and forever endeared the character to me.

I started collecting comic books seriously in 1986. Despite being a Marvel kid I may have considered collecting a Supergirl comic book at the time; I was a big fan of sidekicks as you may recall from my recent Robin review. However, DC had brutally killed off the character a year earlier in their epic multiverse-spanning mini-series “Crisis on Infinite Earths”. I didn’t read the actual series until I was a grown up but I remember the cover of Crisis issue 7 quite vividly from my childhood. It featured Superman crying and holding the limp battered body of Supergirl in his arms while the rest of the DC heroes looked on solemnly. It was a pretty emotional scene.DC-Supergirl face

 

DC killed her for the same reason they killed a bunch of other characters in the Crisis mini-series; to clean house. The DC Universe had been on-going for decades and it had filled up with plot holes and contradictions. DC wanted to wipe the slate clean by saying all of these contradicting stories took places in alternate universes and those universe were coming to an end. They picked and chose what they wanted to keep and streamlined everything. One big problem that had grown over the years was the watering down of Superman. He was originally billed as “the Last Son of Krypton” but by the mid-80s there were dozens of other Kryptonians running around, including a dog, a horse, and a monkey. DC wanted to make Superman feel special again so there was a mandate to wipe-out all of the other Kryptonians. Despite Supergirl’s popularity she had to go.

DC-Supergirl supermanSupergirl was absent from the DC Universe for many years.  Characters similar to Supergirl popped up from time to time, some even used the name Supergirl, but none of them were Superman’s cousin Kara Zor-El, the original Supergirl. It wasn’t until 19 years after her death that DC reintroduced the original Supergirl back into the DC Universe.  Kara crash-landed on Earth and back into continuity in the pages of Superman & Batman in 2004.  I was collecting that title at the time so I got in on the ground floor for her return.  After her introduction in that title she graduated to her own solo-series which I collected for a time as well.

When DC rebooted their entire universe in 2011 after their “Crisis”-like event “Flashpoint” Supergirl had to crash-land on Earth all over again.  I picked up the first issue of her New 52 series and it felt a little like I was reading a story I’d already read a half-dozen times before but the art held my interest.  I continue to collect Supergirl’s New 52 book and while some of the storytelling has been pretty bad the art has been consistent so I keep coming back each month.  I haven’t read the latest story arc yet (because I wait for the collected editions) but she has recently  joined the Red Lanterns which has all kinds of potential for good storytelling.DC-Supergirl back

I’ve wanted a Supergirl figure for a long time and while there have been plenty to choose from over the years none of them have been satisfactory in my opinion.  They’ve either been too bland or too stylized, like the ones based on the Justice League animated series or those based on Michael Turner’s art.

When I first saw pictures of this figure, based on Supergirl’s appearance in the New 52 Universe, I thought it was amazing.  I pre-ordered it from BigBadToyStore but I was sure the final product would not be as nice as the promotional images.

I’m happy to say that I was wrong.  This figure arrived in the mail a while back and it is fantastic. It perfectly represents Kara in her current costume and I’m a big fan of this costume.  I prefer it to the skirted ones she’s worn in the past.  I really like the look of the long kneeless boots even though they make no sense and are completely impractical.  The red and gold paint on the boots and costume has a metallic sheen while the blue, and the red on the cape, have a matte finish. The body is well proportioned and the articulation is well hidden.  She also happens to be very well articulated for a DC Direct figure with joints at her ankles, knees, hips, shoulders (x2), elbows, wrists, and neck.DC-Supergirl fly

The best thing about this figure has to be the head sculpt. Action figures of pretty girls have to be pretty and that seems to be a hard thing to pull off sometimes.  The sculptors have done a great job here of making Kara pretty and believable.  The sculpt is assisted by the lovely paint job.  She doesn’t have bright red lips or gaudy eye make-up; the paint job is very subtle.  The hair sculpt, and the shade of blonde plastic used, are both very realistic and contemporary looking.

I acquired this figure at the same time as my Red Robin figure and I love them both.  They’ve become 2 of my favourite DC figures.  I don’t always like the New52 comics but DC Direct is knocking it out of the park these days with their New 52 inspired figures.  10 out of 10.DC-Supergirl compare

TEMPLETON

Plush-Templeton front2PLUSH

700TH POST!!

I started this blog on December 18, 2011 which is nearly 3 years ago. I was inspired by the G.I. Joe blog, JoeaDay, where Rob Buzan reviews a new G.I. Joe figure every single day. He’s done that for over 3 years now which is insane. I tried to maintain that pace initially and while I did manage to write 365 reviews in my first year they weren’t posted daily. For my own sanity I took that pressure off myself when I went into my second year. I vowed to only write when I wanted to but also to make an effort to post regularly. My output was cut in half but it allowed me to continue to enjoy doing this. I do still set blogging goals for myself and my most recent mission was to reach 700 posts before my 3 year anniversary. Well I’m 24 days away from my anniversary date and this here is my 700th post so mission accomplished. It’s crazy to think that I’ve written about 700 different toys and I feel like I’ve still only barely scratched the surface of my collection. I still have SO MANY more toys to write about. Even if I never bought another one I could still keep this blog going for years to come.Plush-Templeton side

So thank you all for reading. People have come and gone over the years but I’ve maintained a loyal few readers that have stuck with me for quite some time and I still get over 200 views a day. I especially appreciate all of you who comment regularly. I’d also like to thank my girlfriend Vanessa for all her support. If you’re a regular reader you may be aware that Vanessa and I split up last winter and I moved into my own place, hence the post “Man Cave no More”. Well I’m happy to report that the break-up didn’t stick and we’ve been back together since the summer. Since I began 3 years ago Vanessa has bought me a bunch of cool toys (Snake Eyes, Cobra De Aco, Dr. Venom, Frankenstein, to name a few), a camera, and the portable photography studio that I use to take all my pictures. Plus she actually reads some of these posts.Plush-Templeton back

For these milestone posts I try to choose a special figure that’s either super awesome or holds a lot of sentimental value. For my 200th review I wrote about a toy that wasn’t an action figure but was very dear to me, my stuffed mouse Mack.

Today I’ll be reviewing another plush friend from years past. Only this is not a stuffed companion from my childhood, this is a toy I acquired in high school circa grade 11 (1995).Plush-Templeton face

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I like to think I was a unique character in high school. I was kind of artsy.  I loved to draw and I “published” my own comic book ‘zines. I’ve previously reviewed some home-made figures based on those ‘zines like Chiliwac the Ant and Lance the Dolphin. I was also a skateboarder who was out on my board most nights of the week (though I was never any good at it). I was a big fan of punk/alternative music and spent my weekends in the city jumping around in mosh pits at punk shows. And I was also a raver who attended all the underground parties held in condemned buildings, old church halls, and exhibition grounds.

Plush-Templeton Mike2My “look” was a blend of skater/raver with my own unique twist. I had dyed hair, rubber bracelets covering most of my forearms, large beaded necklaces, and ridiculously over-sized pants paired with band T-shirts and skate sneakers. I also had a book bag covered in iron-on patches that had compartments full of random dollar store toys. A few people around town used to call me “Toy Boy” and I actually considered creating a clothing company with that name for a time. I had a long white plastic wallet chain made up over oversized links that hung past my knee and I had a rubber dolphin hanging from my belt loop. Despite all this, I promise you I wasn’t as weird as I sound. Plush-Templton Mike1

One of my many unusual wardrobe choices was that in the breast pocket of my jacket I kept a stuffed dinosaur. His name was Templeton, named after Ed Templeton who was one of my favorite pro skateboarders. I can’t recall where I first got Templeton but I imagine he was an impulse buy at a dollar store probably when I was drunk. I stuck him in my pocket and that’s where he stayed for probably 2 years.  Sadly I don’t have any pictures of the 2 of us together.  My high school years pre-dated the era of cell phones and social networks and I was relatively camera shy anyway.

Templeton started out as a cute little thing. He was bright orange with a yellow belly and pink hair.  He had little rounded arms, a nubby tail, and little Godzilla plates down his back. I assume he’s supposed to be a T-Rex.

A recreation of how we would've looked in 1996.

A recreation of how we would’ve looked in 1996.

I enhanced Templeton by piercing his nose, ear, and genitals with safety pins. He doesn’t actually have ears or genitals so I approximated their location. I linked the 3 piercings together with a small chain that was part of my original wallet chain before I replaced it with the white plastic one. The chained piercings were inspired by Rachel Bolan, the guitarist from Skid-Row who had a chain linking his nose ring to his earring. I also dyed Templeton’s hair green with a Sharpie marker but most of that seems to have faded away.

Skid-Row

Skid-Row

Me and Mack the Mouse shared some great times at home when I was a kid but no other toy in my collection has shared as many life experiences with me as Templeton did. He was with me on dates, at parties, at raves, at rock shows, etc.  Everywhere I went, he went.  Even with the chain and the jewellery, and the dolphin, this little guy was probably my most notable calling card.

I don’t have the same sentimental attachment to Templeton as I do to Mack but he does bring back a lot of good memories when I look at him.  He’s kinda gross looking these days, dirty and stained, his colors faded, and the tip of his tail burnt, but that doesn’t take away from him in my mind.  All that wear and tear is evidence of the good times we had.Plush-Templeton full

This is most likely the highest rated dollar store toy I’ll ever review. 10 out of 10.

MUTT (Kre-O)

Joe-Kreo-Mutt fullG. I. JOE: KRE-O

I love these Lego compatible Kre-O G.I. Joes but they also frustrate me to no end.  The Joe Kre-Os are exclusive to Toys R Us which means there’s only 1 location in my city where I can buy them at its not the most convenient place for me to get to; it’s not like I can just pop in there every day. My local Toys R Us got the first wave of playsets and the second wave of blind packed figures. As far as I know that’s all they’ve ever carried. I managed to get half of the wave 1 figures from a comic shop but I haven’t had any opportunity to buy the wave 3, 4, or 5 figures or any of the vehicle or playsets released after the first wave. Re-Os have been on sale on Toys R Us .com a few times but they don’t ship to Canada. We have our own website, Toys R Us.ca, and they never have anything good.Kreo-Mutt side

Now I could buy these figures on ebay but the figures are blind-packed which means they’re completely sealed in a foil package and you don’t know what figure is inside. Now, keeners like myself are aware of the hidden code perforated into the foil that identifies each figure so when I’m in the store I can examine the packages and select the figures I want, thus avoiding getting doubles. When I buy blind packs online I don’t have that luxury so I have no idea which figure I’ll end up with. Some sellers do sell the specific figures opened but they tend to charge a premium for those. So rather than spending a fortune on secondary market purchases I’m holding out hope that maybe my Toys R Us will eventually stock the latest Kre-O releases.  Until that time I’ll have to remain satisfied with the few figures and sets that I do have.

Mutt, the Joe team’s dog handler, was included in wave 2. Hasbro has done a great job of capturing the essence of the original 1985 Mutt figure and distilling it down into this little brick man. This figure is immediately identifiable as Mutt. Not only are the colors spot on but the torso has all the familiar elements (sheathed knife, pockets, red shoulder pads) and the face has Mutt’s signature mustache and sneer. Even the accessories are recreated quite well. He has his Mac 11 submachine gun (though this one is comically over-sized), his nightstick, and his trusty K-9 sidekick Junkyard.Kreo-Mutt gun

For some reason Hasbro decided to make Junkyard a bulldog this time around. I’m not sure why since he’s always been a Rottweiler (i think) in the past. It’s not a big deal though I would’ve preferred a more vintage-accurate Junkyard.

Kreo-Mutt dogIt’s also interesting that Mutt has a couple of scratches under his eye. Are we to believe these  wounds were inflicted by Junkyard? I can’t imagine Junkyard ever biting the hand that feeds him. Perhaps it’s just regular wear and tear one incurs while battling an evil snake-themed terrorist organization determined to rule the world.

This is a cool little figure. 8 out of 10.

WASPINATOR

TF-Waspinator fullTRANSFORMERS

I’ve mentioned many times before that I’m not a car guy. That’s partly why I’ve always been a big fan of the Transformers who transform into bugs and animals. As a kid I found robot animals much more fun to play with than cars and trucks. But oddly enough, when the Transformers brand made the switch from the classic Generation 1 (G1) vehicles of the 80s to the all-animal BEAST WARS concept of the 90s I wasn’t a fan.

However, it wasn’t the fact that the Transformers were now all animals that led to my disinterest. This thing is I was a teen by the time the Beast Wars toyline and cartoon launched in the 90s so obviously it had less of an impact on me than the G1 stuff did in the early to mid-80s when I was an impressionable child. Plus I didn’t care for the 3D animated look of the show. I actually went to 3D animation college in 1998/1999 but to this day I prefer classical hand-drawn animation because that’s what I grew up on. My little brother Brian however loved Beast Wars and its follow-up Beast Machines. He was too young to experience G1 at its prime. So while I was all about Autobots and Decepticons he was all about Maximals and Predacons. Since he watched it every day I caught the odd episode and I appreciated how the writers made an effort to link the 2 generations together; the Beast Wars years fit into G1 continuity during the years that the Autobots slept dormant in their crashed spaceship.TF-Waspinator face

I’m familiar with most of the Beast Wars characters but I don’t have a personal attachment to any of them. Waspinator, who transforms into a wasp, was one of the Predacon henchmen on the show. He was kind of a bumbling inept character as most cartoon henchmen tend to be. He spoke in a distinctive buzzy voice. He was kind of neat looking but he didn’t hold a candle to the G1 Insecticons in my mind. When I started collecting Transformer toys again in the 2000s I was pretty excited about getting updated versions of the G1 characters I loved because I had long since gotten rid of all my childhood Transformer toys. But I had zero interest in getting updated versions of Beast Wars characters. Even though they were all technically part of a shared animated continuity I had no desire to collect Maximals and Predacons.

TF-Waspinator backAnother thing I’ve mentioned on this blog many times before is how much I love the Transformers comics published by IDW. The IDW stories feature the G1 characters in a brand-new continuity that harkens back to the old cartoons and comics of the 80s. For the past few years IDW has been knocking it out of the park with great artwork and storytelling. The writers have managed time and again to turn background G1 characters I never cared about before, like Swerve and Tailgate, into some of my absolute favorite Transformers.

Well for the past year or so Beast Wars characters have begun popping up in the comics. Rat Trap and Waspinator, most notably, have both taken on very prominent roles in the series. Rat Trap is the right hand man of the democratically elected ruler of Cybertron, Starscream, and Waspinator served as an unwitting pawn of Shockwave in his latest scheme. These characters are now firmly established in the G1 Universe and they seamlessly interact with the characters I grew up on. The result of that is that I must now own these characters in action figure form.TF-Waspinator pose

This 2014 Waspinator figure was released under the “Generations” banner.  I really like this figure in both his robot and bug modes. The color choices are very nice.  He’s primarily dark green but he also also has lighter green, black and yellow striped, brown, blue, and translucent parts.  They all come together to make a vibrant figure that really stands out amongst the other Transformers on my shelf.  But as great as the colors are I wouldn’t mind seeing a black and purple repaint of this figure so that he could be displayed as a member of the original Insecticons.

One interesting aspect of Waspinator’s robot design is how buggy it is. The original Insecticons like Bombshell and Shrapnel didn’t look anything like bugs when they were in robot mode. Waspinator, on the other hand, retains his big segmented bug eyes and mandibles in both bodes. He also has wings and segmented bug legs which are both very noticeable and exposed while in his robot mode. It’s not necessarily a bad thing though as it adds to his uniqueness.

The figure is well articulated and he has a striped stinger gun as an accessory. I like it. 8 out of 10.TF-Waspinator bug

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