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

4-LOM (1982)

SW-4lom fullSTAR WARS

Everybody who likes Star Wars loves the Empire Strikes Back bounty hunters. Other than Boba Fett, each of them only had a couple seconds of screen time in a single scene and none of them had any dialogue and yet they managed to steal that scene from Darth Vader anyway. They all just looked so completely badass. Most people’s favorite bounty hunter is Boba Fett for obvious reasons; he looks cool as hell and he’s the only one who actually did anything. My brother Doug owned the vintage Boba Fett action figure when we were kids essentially claiming the character as his own. Ergo, I had to choose another bounty hunter as my favorite. I picked the robot IG-88. He was the only bounty hunter I owned in toy form. We didn’t have Dengar or Zuckuss and Doug owned Bossk and 4-LOM.SW-4lom back

 

 

Like pretty much every other kid in the world Doug and I thought 4-LOM’s name was Zuckuss in the 80s because that’s how the package labelled him. Conversely, the vintage Zuckuss action figure’s package was labelled 4-LOM. Since the characters were never referred to by name on screen we took Hasbro’s word for it that those names were correct. It wasn’t until years later that Hasbro rectified their naming mix-up.

It was hard to know what to make of 4-LOM when this figure first came out in 1982. Is he a robot or a bug? Or some sort of robot bug? His body is pretty much the exact same as C-3PO’s and his head looks like that of a giant housefly with large segmented eyes and a weird little proboscis . I always assumed he was half-robotic and half-biological but according to his wiki biography he’s a straight-up droid.SW-4lom guns

Like most background characters from the movies 4-LOM had all kinds of adventures in the expanded universe of the Star Wars comics and novels. I never got into any of that stuff so all the information gathered from wiki is new to me. Apparently he and Zuckuss were best friends who worked together as a bounty hunter team and for a short time 4-LOM even joined the great rebellion.

Mind you, all of that stuff was recently swept from continuity so who really cares. 4-LOM has a clean slate now going into Star Wars’ new Disney-owned era.SW-4lom zuck movie

I recently acquired this figure, along with fellow bounty hunters Zuckuss and Boba Fett, from my new friend Nate who contacted me through this blog to see if I’d be interested in purchasing some of his childhood toys. You can read more about that haul in my Super Powers Robin review.

Nate’s figures were in great shape and most of them had all of their accessories. The 4-LOM he sold me for five bucks was equipped with 2 large rifles. I think the figure only came with one originally so I guess I scored a bonus one.SW-4lom zuck

This vintage 4-LOM looks just how I remember him from Doug’s collection. He’s sculpted in a shiny metallic gray plastic.  This looks like a 4-LOM fresh off the assembly line since he lacks any of the rust colored weathering detail seen in the movie and on the 1997 figure.  There’s lots of sculpted detail in his creepy face and throughout the body. The wiki page provides that 4-LOM’s body was constructed on set from spare C-3PO parts confirming that he is indeed a protocol droid gone bad. However I saw no mention of the origins of his head. I’m curious if it was originally part of a fly costume lying around the studio that they just slapped on top of the C-3PO body or whether it was specifically designed to look this way. Either way I like it.

4-LOM is cool and creepy and this figure holds up remarkably well. 8 out of 10.

1982 and 1997 4-LOMs

1982 and 1997 4-LOMs

MALE DAREDEVIL

AP-Male Daredevil fullADVENTURE PEOPLE

I’ve been on a roll lately with these reviews.  I’ve posted 9 in the past 5 days. I’d kind of like to take a night off, and it is Wednesday so I have a big stack of new comics to read, but I’d hate to slow the momentum.  So I’ve decided to write a really quick review before I retire to the bedroom with my comics.  I chose a figure that I already had a picture of saved on my computer and that I wouldn’t have much to say about; I chose the Male Daredevil from Fisher Price’s Adventure People line.

This figure was produced in the late 70s/early 80s.  I don’t have it in front of me at the moment so I can’t check the date which is likely stamped on his ass or his inner thigh.  I had a handful of Adventure People when I was a kid but I got rid of all of them except the Male Pilot I named Mark.  I really liked these toys; they made for great civilians when I was playing G.I. Joe.  I really wish I hadn’t gotten rid of them all because some of them go for big bucks on the secondary market now.  Last Christmas my brother Doug replaced  the Adventure People Land Speed Racer toy that I had lost in a public sandpit 30 years earlier.

I didn’t have the Male Daredevil when I was a kid but Doug and I owned similar looking dudes.  I acquired this guy in a small lot of Adventure People I bought on eBay a while back when I was feeling nostalgic. I previously reviewed the Male Outdoorsman from that lot whom I had named Bruce after my dad.  Like Bruce, the Daredevil is pretty plain.  Most of the Adventure People were pretty plain but that’s whats so cool about them; they’re action figures of everyday ordinary people.AP-Male daredevil van

This guy was apparently part of a set called the Daredevil Sports Van.  I found a pic of the set online and it appears to have included van, a motorcycle, 2 dudes, a kayak, a parachute, and a blanket.  It looks like it would have been a fun set to play with in the backyard.  You’ve got land, sea, and air covered.

I like how happy this guy looks.  He obviously loves being a daredevil.  He might not be smiling so much if he wipes out though because other than his helmet and goggles he doesn’t seem to be wearing any other protective gear. This guy’s outfit lacks sculpted detail but it’s extremely colourful so at least he has that going for him.  As a stand alone figure he gets a 5 but the complete set would’ve been an 8 or a 9.  5 out of 10.

GREEN GOBLIN (2014)

Marv-Green Goblin mash fullMARVEL: SUPER HERO MASHERS

It’s time for another Green Goblin action figure review. This is the third one I’ve written in the past 6 months. The first one I reviewed was the Marvel Legends build-a-figure Ultimate Green Goblin, which was nothing to call home about. After I realized that the lackluster Ultimate version was the only Green Goblin figure I had ever reviewed in my 2 1/2 years writing this blog I decided I’d better review a more traditional Goblin figure. I had many to choose from but I opted to share my thoughts on the unarticulated 12” toy produced by Remco in 1978, a toy I’ve owned since I was a wee child. That toy is pretty cool in a retro sort of way and it has a lot of nostalgic value with me but it was never all that fun to play with because it didn’t move. I have yet to review a great Green Goblin figure and I own at least 3 of those that I can think of off the top of my head. But those great figures will have to wait until another day because today I’ll be reviewing another mediocre Goblin figure.

For the past year or so Hasbro has been producing these clunky stylized figures called Mashers. The idea behind them is that they pop apart quite easily and the parts can be swapped amongst the various figures. So far they have Marvel and Transformers Mashers so if you want to create a super hero with Spider-Man’s head, Optimus Prime’s body and Iron Man’s legs you can do that. I suspect we’ll see Mashers from other Hasbro brands like Star Wars  and maybe G.I. Joe in the near future.Marv-Green goblin mash pose

I’ll admit I was tempted to pick up one or two of the Marvel Mashers when they first hit the shelves  a few months back but I resisted the urge. I already collect Marvel characters in the 3 ¾” Universe scale and I buy a number of them in the 6” Legends scale as well so the last thing I need to do is start collecting the same characters in a third format. However, I find the Transformers Mashers even more enticing. Especially the Optimus Prime and Megatron because they’re both great representations of the characters in their original G1 robot modes; something I don’t currently have in my collection. I haven’t picked them up yet but it crosses my mind every time I see them in the toy aisle.

Marv-Green goblin mash backThe Mashers are clearly geared towards children. They’re big, colorful, durable, and they don’t come with a bunch of small accessories. They’re a big hit with my brother Doug’s kids. My nephews Alex and Luke already have a Spider-Man, Iron Man, Captain America, Dr. Doom, Deadpool, Hulk, and Iron Patriot. Doug has already picked up a few more to give them as Christmas presents and when I asked him last week what I should buy for them (I’m trying to start early this year) he suggested I pick them up a couple more. It just so happened Mashers were on sale at Wal-mart last week so I went out and picked up Wolverine and Green Goblin for the boys. I got home and told Doug about my haul and he informed me that the Goblin was one of the figures he already had set aside for Christmas. So I went back out the next day and bought Hawkeye.

Now, I know I could have simply exchanged the Goblin for Hawkeye but at less than $10 a pop I wasn’t too concerned about the money. Besides, the Green Goblin was my favorite Spidey villain when I was a kid (he probably still is) so I figured I’d just keep him for myself.Marv-Green goblin mash face

This is a pretty nice version of the Goblin. He’s very classically attired in his original outfit: green scaly leggings, a purple bathing suit from the 1920s, a goblin mask, and a purple sleeping cap. The outfit may be a little silly, and I can see why they avoided it in the live-action movies, but as a toy it works great. The face has big yellow eyes, pointy ears, and an evil sneer just as it should. Not bad at all.

The reason I said before that it’s only a mediocre version of the Goblin is because I have far better versions of the character and this one does have a few faults. Primarily it’s a little too pre-school to be “cool”, plus he has weird sockets all over his body. They’re there so you can attach additional parts when mashing, which I’m sure would be fun for my nephews, but it detracts from the figure as a display piece.Marv-Green Goblin mash mixed

The Goblin came with 3 pumpkin bombs which is pretty cool as they were always his primary weapons in the comics. The pumpkins have little pegs on them so they can be placed in any of the sockets including those on his hands. Another issue I have with this toy is that it doesn’t have a glider. A Green Goblin without a glider is like a Lone Ranger without a horse, it just ain’t right.

Overall, it’s a fun figure but it won’t be something I’ll be displaying in my man cave. 6 out of 10.

BURNOUT v.1 (2003)

Joe-Burnout v1 fullG. I. JOE

I don’t usually get requests for reviews but every now and again someone will ask me to write about something specific. I usually try to honour those requests promptly but there are 2 requests I received quite some time ago which I never followed up on. The first was for the new TMNT Shredder figure with a removable helmet. I couldn’t review that figure because I didn’t own it and at the time it was brand new and nearly impossible to find. That figure is readily available everywhere now and even though I’m not personally interested in it I’ve considered purchasing it solely so I could write that requested review. One of these days I’ll pick it up. (even though that reader has probably long since left me).

The other request was less specific. Someone asked me to review a Dreadnok. The Dreadnoks are a misfit gang of hooligans who are often contracted out by Cobra to assist in their battle against G.I. Joe. I have a bunch of Dreadnok figures and I could’ve reviewed one right away but I was in the midst of a flurry of G.I. Joe reviews at the time becauseI was trying to complete reviews of all the figures from the 2014 Joe Con Collector’s set. I try to keep this blog diverse by reviewing toys from multiple toy lines so I put the Dreadnok request on the back burner for a while as I felt the blog needed a break from G.I. Joe.Joe-Burnout v1 arms

I’ve reviewed several non-Dreadnok Joe figures since that time (it’s usually a spur of the moment decision which toy I feel like talking about) but it’s always been in the back of my mind to honour that request and today is the day. I’ve selected a Dreadnok to review for your viewing pleasure. I can’t recall who made the request (was it you, Sidus?) but I’m sure whoever it was did not have this guy in mind. You could ask 100 Joe fans who their favorite Dreadnok is and I’m certain no one would say Burnout.

The first 3 Dreadnoks, Torch, Ripper, and Buzzer were released in 1985. Monkeywrench followed in ’86. The 4 of them were all bikers so it would’ve been easy to describe the Dreadnoks as a biker gang. But then they added a poacher, a pirate, and a couple of punks to the mix and that description went out the window. The strange mish-mash of characters in a single gang may not have made much sense but all the Dreadlocks were cool in their own right.  My brother’s Doug’s favorite Dreadnok was Thrasher who drove the Mad Max inspired Thunder Machine and mine was Road Pig the bi-polar brute who carried a cinder block on a stick as a weapon.

Joe-Burnout v1 backDuring the new sculpt era (2002- 2007) many of the classic Dreadnoks got updated figures. The 2004 Convention set padded the Dreadnok ranks with a group of bandana wearing rednecks known as the Deadheads with names like Joe-Bob and Billy-Bob, but excluding those ill-conceived goofballs there was only one brand-new Dreadnok released during the new sculpt years and that was Burnout.

Burnout is notable in that he was the first African American bad guy in the G.I. Joe line. Though admittedly it wasn’t easy to discern his ethnicity based on this figure. He has long flowing hair and his skin tone makes him look more Latino than black. It wasn’t until Burnout version 2 was released 8 years later with a darker skin tone and dreadlocks that I knew for sure.

Many new-sculpt figures suffered from bad articulation and wonky proportions but this figure isn’t too bad.  His torso is kind of short but otherwise he looks pretty good.  The design is relatively simple but the sculpt has a few neat little details. For example, I really like his bandaged hands and forearms with the embedded brass knuckles.   The barded wire wrapped around his chest doesn’t seem like a good idea but at least its interesting.    His pants are kind of weird too because I can’t tell if he has two-toned jeans or if he’s wearing leather chaps.  The head sculpt is very nice and has lots of personality.Joe-Burnout v1 compare

One curious aspect of this figure is the splotches on his shirt. It is unknown if they’re supposed to be a design on the shirt (some really bad camouflage perhaps) or maybe grease stains from working under the Thunder Machine (his file card describes him as a mechanic). You could even presume that the splotches represent holes in his shirt because the paint is close to his skin tone and he is wearing a barbed wire bandolier.

I bought my Burnout used without any of his weapons but he originally came with a shotgun and a riot gear outfit (so he could disguise himself as a military policeman, it was his Spy Troops gimmick).

Some of my favorite new-sculpt figures were the new characters that breathed some new life into the line. This figure may not be perfect but I like the concept. Burnout is a relatively clean slate but I hope to see him explored further someday in either the comics or perhaps a new animated series. 6 out of 10.

NEWTRALIZER (2014)

TMNT-Newt fullTEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES

Playmates new line of Ninja Turtle figures are a real mixed bag when it comes to quality. The initial 4 turtle figures were great but some of the incidental characters from wave 1 were less so. In each subsequent wave I’ve  continued to find the figures of the supporting cast to be largely underwhelming. Not only are they lacking in articulation but some of the designs are downright awful. But every time I think I’m done collecting this line I stumble across another pretty cool toy.

I was browsing around Toys R Us the other day when I found a lone Newtralizer figure amongst a sea of turtles and crappy villains. I had never seen this figure before nor had I even heard of the character it so it caught be by surprise. I snagged him from his peg just to be on the safe side; the non-turtle figures TMNT can still be pretty tough to find in my area. If I didn’t grab him then and there god knows when I’d see him in the wild again.TMNT-Newt back

Most of the modern TMNT toys I’ve bought are new versions of old characters I liked when I was a kid, like Leatherhead, Metalhead, or Mutagen Man. I don’t usually care much for the new characters like Fish Face or Dogpound. The one new character figure I did pick up, Cockroach Terminator, turned out to be a real dud. But unlike the other new characters Newtralizer had a few things going for him that appealed to me.

First off he’s a newt. I’ve always loved salamanders. I use to go into the woods across the street from my house and collect salamanders from under the rocks. I would build little habitats for them in my fish tanks. I’ve always been fascinated by lizards and up here in Atlantic Canada you don’t come across lizards very often, if ever. Catching salamanders was as close as I came to owning a pet lizard when I was a kid. Newtralizer is painted in a color pattern very reminiscent of the salamanders I hoarded back in the day with his dark body and speckled orange belly.  Another neat thing about the paint job is the obvious nod to the Punisher’s skull on Newtralizer’s belly.

TMNT-Newt face

Secondly, his design is simple. He’s a relatively realistic looking newt with a belt and some shoulder pads. Many of the other new characters are overly stylized and really lean. Newtralizer is a good solid figure.

Thirdly, he’s a good guy, sort of. I was quite surprised to see him on the good guy side of the figure checklist when I looked the back of the package. He sure looked like a bad guy.  When  got home I read his brief bio on wikipedia and it turns out that he’s an assassin and criminal who’s an enemy of both the turtles and Kraang. I always think it’s cool when you throw a few lone wolves or new factions into a well established conflict like Destro and the Iron Grenadiers in G.I. Joe or the Evil Horde in Master’s of the Universe.TMNT-Newt art

Lastly, his name is Newtralizer and he’s a newt. You can’t beat that.

I really like the look of this character but the figure wasn’t executed as well as it could have been. It’s lacking in articulation which I’ve come to expect that with this line but I really wish Playmates would step up their game for future releases. Neutralizer swivels at the neck and he has ball joints at the hips and shoulders.  I’m not a fan of the way the legs attach to the body; its like they’re just tacked on.  Also, his legs are sculpted with bent knees and it appears that if the legs could be straightened out they wouldn’t be the same length.

TMNT-Newt sideNewtralizer comes with 2 weapons; a knife and a round bladed disc. They’re pretty plain accessories sculpted in solid gray plastic with no paint apps. With a name like Newtralizer and a nod to the Punisher in his design I would think this guy should be much more heavily armed with loads of guns and weapons.  Apparently he does all his neutralizing with a jackknife. weak.

This figure isn’t great but it’s pretty good. If I owned this toy when I was a kid Newtralizer could have lived in a swamp (my aquarium) where he’d rule over a legion of salamander warriors. It would’ve been fun. 6 out of 10.

JAYDEN

HF-Jayden fullHEROES FORCE

Back in 2012 I posted a review of the first wave of Heroes Force figures.  Heroes Force is a line of action figures created by a couple of Canadian guys, Shannon Thibodeau (a Canadian Forces Member) and John Alan Sperry, (a graphic designer).  The first wave of 3 figures and were named Thibodeau, Sperry, (named after the creators) and Watson (named after Scott Watson, an acquaintance of Thibodeau who was  integral in getting the product to market). The figure designs were based on today’s Canadian Military soldiers in the three aspects of the forces, Army, Navy and Air Force.  The figures were essentially all the same, decked out in green camouflage, but differentiated by their facial hair and the color of their berets.  My local comic shop, Strange Adventures, was one of a handful of retailers selling the figures.  I thought it was really cool to have a line of figures based on the Canadian Forces so I bought up all three.  The packaging was pretty plain but prominently featured the Canadian flag and a giant maple leaf.  I was dying to open them up but I thought they would look nice tacked to the wall carded so thats what I did. HF-Jayden carded

Not long afterwards a second wave of 3 figures was released.  The second wave was much more diverse.  Wave 2 consisted of a soldier in desert camo, a bearded soldier in winter camo, and an African Canadian soldier  in green camo.  Each figure in wave 2 came with a backpack and a machine gun (the figures in the first wave didn’t come with any accessories).  I bought wave 2 as well and as much as I wanted to open at least one of them I decided to keep the whole set carded.   It crossed my mind to buy a double of one of the figures so that I had one to open but they retail for $19.99 which isn’t cheap for such a simple figure so I resisted that urge.  My 6 Heroes Force figures have been displayed proudly on my wall for the past 2 years. I’ve been meaning to get around to reviewing one of the wave 2 figures for a while but they’re kind of  a pain in the ass to get off the wall.HF-Jayden group

This past Wednesday I was at Strange Adventures buying my weekly haul of comics as I do every Wednesday.  It’s not unusual for the shop to hook me up with little goodies from time to time like a free comic or a movie pass which is always appreciated.  They gave me a pass to see Nightcrawler a couple of weeks ago which was fantastic by the way.  Well this week, for whatever reason, after I paid for my books the clerk (I don’t know all the new kids names yet)  told me I could grab a free Heroes Force figure if I wanted.  Score.HF-Jayden cardback

So I picked up Jayden here and now I finally have a Heroes Force figure that I can open up and play with display.  On the back of the desert colored  blister card is a clip-out file card similar to those found on G.I. Joes. Jayden’s file card says that he is a member of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI).  That sounds like kind of a wussy name for a military division but according to the card the PPCLI is one of Canada’s most famous infantry regiments.  Apparently they were founded at the outbreak of WWI and quickly established a reputation for ground-breaking leadership, service and sacrifice. The regiment is composed of 2000 soldiers has been awarded 39 Battle Honours. Well know I know, and knowing is half the battle.HF-Jayden run

 

 

 

The figure looks really nice.  The camo pattern is done really well and the crown symbol on the chest and the Canadian flag on the arm are done in very precise detail.  His name is even finely written above his breast pocket.  Overall the paint job is excellent, with perhaps one exception…my Jayden has crazy eyes.

The sculpt is a pretty simple one.  Other than a few pockets the figure is pretty smooth.  It lacks details like the wrinkles in the fabric found on many Joe figures.  The helmet isn’t removable which is kind of a bummer but it looks great.  I actually think it looks much more realistic than most Joe helmets.

The figure has decent articulation.  He  swivels at the neck, has ball jointed shoulders,  and has standard joints at the elbows, hips, and knees.  He stands up pretty good on his own but I wish he came with a display base.  The figure doesn’t even have holes in his feet so I can’t use generic stands.HF-Jayden back

 

This is a good quality figure but his torso feels somewhat fragile, like if I really squeezed it between 2 fingers it might break apart.  The other issue I have with this figure is he can’t really hold his gun and his backpack doesn’t stay on very well either.

Despite those few issues I think this figure is great and its making me consider buying doubles of the others so I can open the whole gang.  As a Canadian, I would have loved to have these figures when I was a kid.  I can imagine the Canadian government sending Jayden down to the US to assist G.I. Joe in some international crisis.  That would have been a lot of fun to play out.  8 out of 10.HF-Jayden tank

 

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