RAINBOW SAM

BB-Rainbow sam fullBATTLE BEASTS

For their fourth and final wave of Battle Beast figures Takara did away with the Transformer-esque heat-activated rub emblem found on the first 3 waves and replaced it with a round magnifying lens.  The idea was that you would hold the figure up to a light source in order to see the character’s secret team affiliation: Wood, Water, or Fire.  My Rainbow Sam happens to be a Fire soldier but he was available with all 3 symbols.  Perhaps one day I’ll become such an obsessive collector that I’ll need to track down one of each for all of the Battle Beast figures.  Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

BB-Rainbow sam artI’ve mentioned many times before how much I loved Battle Beasts when I was a kid.  I think its the most under appreciated toy line of the 80s.  The characters were a clean slate and you could use them however you wanted without being a slave to a predetermined TV show or comic book play structure.  The 2 inch figures generally came in 2-packs and I always assigned one as a good guy and one as a bad guy.  Rainbow Sam was the good guy in the case of his 2-pack which meant his pack mate Tiger Burn had to be a bad guy.  The choice seemed obvious to me.  How could you make this lovable little red bird a bad guy?  Then again Disney did it in Aladdin so I suppose it wouldn’t have been too far a stretch.

Because I didn’t know the characters names when I was a kid I named this figure Battle Parrot.  In my Battle Beast universe he was a no-nonsense tough guy who often double talked and squawked between sentences.  His speech pattern was modelled after Polly, Shipwreck’s parrot from the G.I. Joe cartoon.

BB-Rainbow sam carded

Both the sculpt and paint job are really nice on this figure.  His armour is relatively simple with a subtle wing motif on the shoulders and really cool boots with spikes on the back.  I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of a kick from this guy.  There are absolutely no paint apps on the armour.  It’s a solid shade of beige.  Normally this would be disappointing but the figure is so colorful otherwise that apps on the armour might have made it to busy.

The feathers are a bright shade or red, his beak is orange, his eyes are yellow, and he has white circles around his eyes.  Apparently there are variants out there without the white circles. Something else I’ll need to track down if I ever go fully Battle Beast insane.  The wings have a nice rounded design and they’re proportioned well.  They go from red to yellow to blue which really makes this figure stand out on a shelf when displayed with other figures.

BB-Rainbow sam backMy only gripe would be that the wings hinder his arm articulation a bit which isn’t good since his arms are the only part of him that move.  Luckily the plastic is soft enough that you can push the wings back out of the way if you want him to outstretch his arms.BB-Rainbow Sam gun

Where the first 3 waves of Battle Beasts all had bladed weapons the Laser Beasts (or Shadow Warriors) of wave 4 all had guns.  The guns were all very creatively designed to resemble their carrier.  Sam’s gun looks like a parrot’s head and yet still looks likes a pretty cool gun too.

 

A cool little figure.  9 out of 10.

RAZOR TROOPER v.1 (2004)

Joe-Razor trooper v1 fullG.I. JOE: VALOUR VS VENOM

In order to take a side-by-side comparison shot for my recent Bombstrike review I had to haul out my box of new-sculpt era G.I. Joe figures.  “New-sculpt” is the designation assigned by Joe fans to the figures produced by Hasbro from 2002-2007.  By and large those years don’t get a lot of love from Joe fans but I get more nostalgic about them all the time.  Digging through the box looking for my 2005 Bombstrike I came across so many cool figures that I don’t get to see very often because I haven’t had my new-sculpt Joes on display since 2007 when the modern-era figures took over their spot.

If I had the room to display all of my toys I would but I don’t so some things have to remain boxed up.  It makes sense that of the 3 eras of 3 3/4″ G.I. Joes (Real American Hero (RAH), new-sculpt, and modern) that the modern figures would be the ones displayed for a couple of reasons.  Not only am I still actively collecting them but also because they’re geared towards the collector market so they have a level of detail not seen in the first two eras.Joe-Razor trooper v1 art

As an adult collector who displays his toys I  think the modern era Joes are perfectly suited for display purposes.  However, if I was a kid who wanted to play with his toys the modern-era figures would fall short.  The RAH and new-sculpt figures had a fun and playability factor that is sadly lacking in the modern Joes.  When I was sifting through the new-sculpt box I kept coming across figures that I wanted to play with, not just stick on a shelf for display.  The Razor Trooper is a perfect example.

Joe-Razor Trooper v1 face

 

 

In 2004 Hasbro followed up their “Spy-Troops” theme with “Valour vs Venom”.  The idea was that Cobra was infusing their soldiers with animal DNA to enhance their abilities.  Most of the “V-Troops” were new army builders like Swamp Rats and Electric Eels but a few new “name” characters were introduced as well such as Venomous Maximus and a new Croc Master.  One of the new individual characters was Razor Claw; a warrior trained by ninjas and infused with the DNA of a tiger.  Nothing about his costume read “tiger” which seems kind of odd but perhaps they didn’t want him to look like a member of the Joe sub-team, Tiger Force.  Razor Claw had a black and red uniform with grey highlights and black goggles.  His defining characteristic was a couple of sword blades attached to his forearms.  Razor Claw was a decent looking figure but I didn’t care much for the head sculpt.Joe-Razor Trooper v1 fight

Later that year Hasbro decided to give Razor Claw some underlings to boss around.  They repainted his body, plopped on a new head, and created the Razor Trooper.  The Razor Trooper’s file card read almost the exact same as Razor Claw’s.  It said the venomization process erased their memories and filled them with unrestrained anger.  They are proficient with high-tech weaponry but they don’t rely on it.   They prefer to use the retractable claws gifted to them as a result of the tiger DNA.  There’s no evidence of retractable claws on the figure and it seems like a tad bit of overkill to give a guy claws if he already has sword-arms but who am I to second guess Dr. Mindbender.Joe-Razor trooper v1 back

I think the Razor Trooper is a pretty cool figure.  It’s proportioned fairly well which can’t be said of many new-sculpt era figures.  I like the sculpted cobra emblem on the chest and the raised black piping on the torso gives the figure a pretty distinct look.  The trooper has a similar color palette to Razor Claw (black, red, and grey) which ties them together nicely and yet the outfits are still quite different.   The arm blades are a cool idea but what I find especially neat about them is that they are articulated at the base.  That way the blades can be pointed up or down.  The fact that the Trooper can flip the blade back and forth makes it seem much more functional than just a blade for stabbing.  I can imagine him swinging them about and using them defensively to block attacks as well as using them as offensive weapons.  I bet it would look awesome in a cartoon or live-action.

The head was the only newly sculpted piece for this figure which is fine with me because that was the only piece I didn’t like about Razor Claw.  The helmet shape is similar to the one worn by Razor Claw but instead of black goggles and an exposed face the Razor Trooper has a solid black faceplate akin to the classic Viper.  It’s a very cool look that fits in perfectly with the established Cobra aesthetic.  The Razor Trooper was one of my favorite V-Troops and I’d love to see him updated in the modern style someday so that he could once again be put on display and enjoyed on a regular basis.  8 out of 10.

Joe-Razor trooper v1 kick

BREAKDOWN (2015)

TF-Breakdown fullTRANSFORMERS: COMBINER WARS

The first wave of Combiners Wars figures arrived at local toy stores at the beginning of March. It included 4 of the 5 Aerialbots and 1 of the 5 Stunticons.  I’m not sure why Hasbro decided to release them that way because it was kind of annoying trying to build a completed Combiner with one of the pieces missing.  For 2 months now I’ve had a Superion displayed on my shelf with a  yellow race car for an arm.  Fortunately wave 2 was set to include the missing Aerialbot needed to finalize Superion as well as the other 4 Stunticons which would allow me to build Menasor.  Wave 2 went up for pre-order on many retail toy sites at the same time as wave 1 so it seemed as though there wouldn’t be a long wait between the two waves.  And yet, the two month wait seemed extra long; and the reason for that is my brother Doug.

TF-Breakdown art

Doug and I collected Transformers together when we were kids but he hasn’t bothered to keep up with the brand.  I think he’s maybe bought one or two Transformers since the 80s.  I on the other hand am as big a fan as ever.  I’ve collected the comics religiously for the past 10 years and I have a amassed a pretty impressive Transformers toy collection.  I have two bookshelves worth of modern-era Transformers, well over a hundred of them, plus a handful of vintage ones.TF-Breakdown back

I’ve been singing the praises of the Classics/Generations series of Transformers ever since I bought my first one, Bumblebee, back in 2006. Just like the G.I. Joe 25th anniversary figures or the Masters of the Universe Classics line, Transformers Generations was updating classic toys from my childhood with a modern spin geared towards the adult collector market.  Despite the accolades I heaped onto the Generations figures both vocally and on this blog Doug never felt the urge to dive back into collecting Transformers.  But when I showed him my wave 1 Combiner Wars figures I finally broke him.

Doug owned the original 1980s Aerialbots and Stunticons when we were kids and he has a soft spot for them.  The day after I showed him my wave 1 figures he went out and bought the entire wave for himself.  And then, with seemingly no effort at all, he stumbled upon wave two like a week later.

I don’t normally hunt for toys,  I don’t have a car so getting around to toy stores and malls isn’t always easy,  I usually just look for new stuff when I happen to be out.  But knowing that Doug had wave 2 and I didn’t drove me nuts.  I began hunting feverishly for my own set but my efforts were fruitless again and again.  I hate when he’s got cool shit that I want.  We always were a little competitive in certain aspects of our lives.

TF-Breakdown pose

Well my hunt ended on Monday night.  Vanessa was out on a Walmart run to return some shoes and she called to ask the names of the Transformers I had been looking for.  Vanessa is supportive of my hobby but she is in no way a toy-girl. She can tell Snake Eyes from Storm Shadow about as well as my mom can.  So the fact that she would rifle through pegs and pegs of Transformers with her phone to her ear while I rhymed off names like Dead End and Air Raid should tell you how special she is.  But as much as I appreciated the gesture I expected it to be a lost cause. To my surprise they had them all.  Vanessa drove over to my place afterwards to drop off my four new figures, including Breakdown.

Breakdown was my favorite Stunticon back in the day.  Red and Black cars had been done to death so Breakdown’s white and blue color palette was a refreshing change.  I also liked his bright red face.  The original 1986 figure was nothing to call home about though.  It was blocky, clunky, and stiff.  It only had about 5 moving parts so the transformation was overly simple and articulation was practically non-existant.

1986 Breakdown

1986 Breakdown

I don’t recall the character being very well developed in the cartoons or comics but his packaging describes him as being very paranoid which might have been a fun angle to explore.  I’m hoping to see Breakdown and the other combiners fleshed out further in IDW’s Combiner Wars tie-in comic which they’re currently publishing.

This updated version of Breakdown is pretty awesome.  It features a brand new mold which harkens back to the original but surpasses it in every way.  No longer is Breakdown blocky, clunky, or stiff.  This figure is bigger, more detailed and far more articulated.  I like that his head is actually big enough this time around so that he can have a little personality in his face.TF-Breakdown car

His car mode looks almost exactly like the original.  Apparently its a Lamborghini.

For accessories Breakdown comes with a purple hand/foot/cannon and a long rifle with a bladed edge.  It can be held as if it were a gun or a sword.  It’s actually pretty sweet.

It’s a real shame that this figure is so good because he’s going to end up displayed simply as a limb and breakdown deserves to be seen. 9 out of 10.

TF-Breakdown gun

NIGHT CREEPER LEADER v.3 (2015)

Joe-NCL v3 fullG.I. JOE: FIGURE SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE 3.0

Yesterday I reviewed Bombstrike from the G.I. Joe Collector Club’s third Figure Subscription Service (FSS). As a subscriber to the FSS I get 2 exclusive G.I. Joe figures in the mail each month. I was very excited to receive Bombstrike last week, however, I was much less enthusiastic about her pack mate.  Bombstrike out shipped out with the Club’s updated version of Night Creeper Leader.Joe-NCL v3 face

You may recall that I reviewed a couple Night Creeper figures not too long ago. The Night Creepers are a clan of cyber ninjas who work under contract with Cobra. The first Creeper figure was released in 1990. A much uglier version was released in 1993 and an even uglier version was released in 1994. For the first few years of their existence the Creeper clan was without a leader in the toy world but in the sub-par G.I. Joe cartoon produced by DIC in the early 90s the Night Creepers had a boss that fraternized with Cobra high command. The leader in the animated series looked just like the standard purple and grey 1990 Night Creepers but his mouth and nose were exposed. When Hasbro finally released an action figure of Night Creeper Leader in 1993 they decided to go a different route.

DIC's animated Night Creeper Leader

DIC’s animated Night Creeper Leader

The ’93 Night Creeper Leader figure featured a mostly brand new sculpt and he bore little resemblance to his ninja henchmen. Instead of being covered from head to toe in purple and grey armour and camouflage NCL sported tiger-striped orange pants, a blindfold and skullcap, and no shirt.  It was a pretty wild design for the leader of a stealth ninja army.  I didn’t own Night Creeper Leader version 1 but my little brother Brian did.  As was the case with many 90s figures in Brian’s G.I. Joe collection I was not impressed with Night Creeper Leader.

1993's version 1

1993’s version 1

One year later a repainted NCL was released as part of the Battle Corps subset.  It was the exact same figure as version 1 only this time it was painted purple and yellow instead of orange and black.  I wasn’t a fan of the v1 paint job but I don’t think v2 was an improvement.

1994's version 2

1994’s version 2

I had zero attachment to this character when I was a younger because I was 15 by the time the first NCL figure came out.  I didn’t collect the toys anymore, I didn’t read the Marvel comics anymore, and I didn’t watch the cartoons anymore.  Even now as an adult, having gone back and watched those cartoons and read those comics that featured him, I was not clamouring for a Night Creeper Leader figure.  When the club announced that he would be included in their FSS 3.0 I felt pretty indifferent about it.  Now that I have the figure in hand I can tell you that my opinion hasn’t really changed.

Joe-NCL v3 cardedThis first modern-era Night Creeper Leader is made up of Storm Shadow parts with a Serpentor head.  Those parts combined with Snake Eyes’s webgear make for a pretty decent recreation of the classic NCL look.  He’s got the wrapped shins, the bare chest and arms, the wrapped forearms, and the fully loaded chest harness.  The head works pretty good because it’s not immediately recognizable as Serpentor, since Serpentor always wears his hooded Cobra helmet, but the execution of the blindfold and skullcap fall short.  When the Club originally showed us their mock-up prototype of this figure it had a fully bald head.  Some fans complained about the lack of his black skull cap so the Club added it on at the last minute before it went into final production.  I’m not sure how I feel about it.  Would a bald head have been better?  At first I thought so but the skullcap is growing on me the more I look at it.  As for the blindfold, the original figure’s was sculpted on and it was wide; reaching right up to the cap.  This version is equipped with the thin removable blindfold originally packaged with Jinx.  It works reasonably well but I think a thicker one would have been better.  It looks kind of odd to see his exposed forehead between the blindfold and the skullcap; but honestly, it looks less and less odd to me with each glance.

Joe-NCL v3 closeup

Color wise the Club opted for the purple and yellow version 2 look instead of the black and orange version 1 colors.  Lots of collectors have been griping about that online too.  Since I have no nostalgic ties to either version I really don’t care one way or the other.  I assume we’ll get a tiger striped repaint at some point down the road anyway.  Perhaps they simply didn’t want him to get confused for a member of Tiger Force since that was the Club’s convention set theme this year.Joe-NCL v3 back

For accessories NCL is fully loaded with a bunch of ninja stuff we’ve seen before.  He’s got two swords, two knives, two throwing stars, two uzis, and a crossbow.  I wish his webgear allowed for some storage of the smaller weapons because otherwise they just end up in my spare parts bin.

Joe-NCL v3 weapons

 

 

All in all this is a pretty adequate figure.  I’m always happy to add new “named” Cobras to my ranks so this guy will find a home on my top Cobra shelf with the Commander, Destro, Mindbender and the others.  7 out of 10.Joe-NCL v3 group

BOMBSTRIKE v.2 (2015)

Joe-Bombstrike v2 fullG.I. JOE FIGURE SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE 3.0

The third series of the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club Figure Subscription Service (FSS) is winding down.  My second to last shipment arrived in the mail this past Friday.  That means there’s only one shipment left which will contain Big Ben, Crimson Guard Immortal, and the mystery 13th figure. Ben and the Crimson Guard were two of the best looking figures from series 3 and I can’t wait to find out who the mystery figure is so, needless to say, I’m quite excited for next month’s package.  However, this month’s package was perhaps the one I was most anticipating.

If you read my “Convention News” post from April 2014, where I first reported the announced line-up for FSS 3.0, you may recall that I said the figure I was most excited about was Bombstrike.  Well here it is, a year and a month later, and I finally have that figure in hand.Joe-Bombstrike v2 carded

 

Back in 2003, during the new-sculpt era, Joe collectors were introduced to the Stall family.  The Joe team’s new marksmanship instructor was Dwight Stall a.k.a Barrel Roll and Cobra’s new sniper was his brother Thomas Stall a.k.a Black Out.  The Stall family drama was mostly played out in our imaginations because there was no Joe cartoon at the time to flesh out the story described in the file cards of the back of the packaging.  Devil’s Due addressed this family conflict when they held the G.I. Joe comics license but I would have liked to have seen it played out further.  Devil’s Due lost the licence and had to quickly wrap up their story before we had a chance to meet the third Stall sibling, the younger sister Alyssa.

Joe-Bombstrike v2 back

 

Alyssa was first mentioned on Black Out’s 2003 file card.  It read that Black Out flunked out of G.I. Joe training after it was suspected that he was involved in the disappearance of his sister, Cadet Bombshell.  On Barrel Roll version 3’s file card it said that his sister, Bombstrike, had been rescued and that it had been confirmed that Thomas Stall was working with Cobra.  I’m not sure why her name changed from Bombshell to Bombstrike.  Perhaps Hasbro lost the rights to the name Bombshell, perhaps they didn’t want to reuse a name already associated with a popular Transformer, or perhaps they decided naming a female character Bombshell was a tad sexist.  Name aside, she seemed like a character with a lot of potential.

We got our first Bombstrike action figure in 2005, 2 years after the introduction of her brothers.  I loved the original Bombstrike figure.  It wasn’t perfect but I’m a fan of female characters and it had been more than a decade since we got a new female character who wasn’t just a repaint of an older female figure; the 2005 Bombstrike was constructed with 100% brand new parts.  Her shoulder length blonde hair set her apart from all of the other ladies on the Joe roster and her “G.I. Joe” Tee-Shirt gave her a youthful vibe.  I thought the Stalls were one of the best things to come out of the new-sculpt era relaunch of G.I. Joe.Joe-Bombstrike v2 weapons

In 2007 Hasbro retired the new-sculpt style of figures and launched their 25th anniversary line.  The anniversary line was more focused on revisiting the past rather than spotlighting new characters so new-sculpt additions like the Stalls were all but forgotten.

Fortunately the Collector’s Club hasn’t forgotten about the hidden gems of the early 2000s.  In their inaugural FSS they gave us modern-era versions of Barrel Roll and Black Out.  After that I figured Bombstrike was a shoe-in to be included in FSS 2.0 and I was thoroughly disappointed when she didn’t make the cut.  Fortunately the Club rectified that oversight a year later and produced this figure.

Joe-Bombstrike v2 closeup

Unlike her 2005 figure, this Bombstrike is made up almost entirely of reused parts.  Her legs and arms originally belonged to Covergirl and her torso originally belonged to Scarlett. Even her seemingly unique accessories are rehashed.  Her drone originally came with Data Viper and her computer briefcase has been used a number of times, most recently it was included with Vypra who was also part of FSS 3.0.  However, all these pieces work great together to  provide us with an excellent updated version of Alyssa Stall.  The drone and computer make perfect sense for her primary military specialty: Forward Air Control, and the use of the Scarlet torso gives her some protective clothing as opposed to the simple Tee-shirt of the ’05 version.Joe-Bombstrike v2 compare

Bombstrike also includes a small backpack, a pistol, and a machine gun.

The Club probably could have gotten away with reusing Agent Helix’s head, like the did for Dialtone, but thankfully they didn’t.  Instead they had Boss Fight Studios sculpt a brand new head and I think its a great one.  Bombstrike’s hair is layered and it looks quite realistic as far as plastic hair goes.  I actually think she may have the best head of hair of any Joe figure.  Her face is cute and shows her youth plus it has a playful smirk.  It’s a very unique face so even if you removed the hair you wouldn’t mistake her for any of the other female Joes.  I love it.

I really wanted this figure to be a highlight of FSS 3.0 and the Club did not disappoint.  A must-have.  10 out of 10.Joe-Bombstrike v2 group

DARTH MALGUS (2015)

SW-Malgus fullSTAR WARS

I preface almost all of my Star Wars reviews the same way and I’m gonna say it again: I don’t usually collect Star Wars figures.  I love the Star Wars universe but I got burnt out on collecting the figures sometime after the release of Episode II.  I have a ton of late 90s/early 2000s figures but none of them are currently on display.  My passion was slightly reignited when Hasbro launched their 6″ Black Series line a couple years ago but that line has plodded along so slowly that the momentum seems to have been lost.  It’s extremely rare for me to purchase a 3 3/4″ Star Wars figure these days but it does happen.  Most new Star Wars figures are just updated versions of characters I already have in my collection a dozen times over but every now an again I see a new character that’s just to cool to pass up.  The last time this happened was when I found Savage Opress at Winners a few years ago.  Well it happened again the other day.SW-Malgus side

I was at Wal-Mart looking for Transformers: Combiner Wars wave 2. They didn’t have them but I did find a couple of Marvel Universe figures I needed.  As I was walking down the action figure aisle I noticed this guy hanging on the pegs of the Star Wars section.  At first glance I thought it was an unmasked Darth Vader figure.  I picked it up and discovered that it was actually a completely different character named Darth Malgus.  I knew absolutely nothing about him but he was just to cool looking to leave behind.

When I got home I looked him up on the Star Wars encyclopedia site, Wookiepedia.  Apparently Darth Malgus first appeared in the online role playing game, Star Wars: The Old Republic.  He has since appeared as a major character in the novel, The Old Republic: Deceived.  The site describes a lengthy origin story that I didn’t have the patience to read in full.

SW-Malgus art

To sum it up, Malgus was originally a kid named Veradun who worked at his dad’s zoo.  He showed a sensitivity to the force and, after he established himself as a dickhead by killing a girl, he was sent to Sith School.  At some point in his Sith career he got f***ed up by a Jedi and had to wear a respirator to survive; similar to Darth Vader.  Honestly I don’t really care about all that “expanded universe” stuff.  All I know is that this is a cool figure and I wanted it in my collection even if it is going to go directly into a bin in the closet.SW-Malgus face

Star Wars figures, even these small scale ones, have improved a lot since I collected them.  Most of the figures of the early 200os still only had 5 points of articulations just like the 80s figures.  This figure is articulated at the ankles, the knees, the hips, the waist, the shoulders, the elbow, the wrists, and the neck.  It only took 30+ years but Star Wars figures are almost as articulated as G.I. Joes now.

The detailed sculpt of this figure is also very impressive.  He’s covered in padding and panels with buttons and lights.  The outfit is very Darth Vader-esque but still unique. The large shoulder pads and chest plate are a separately molded but non-removable piece which adds to Malgus’ imposing figure.  A cloth cape is attached to the shoulder pads.  I find that cloth capes usually look better than sculpted plastic ones and that’s the case here.

SW-Malgus capeThe head sculpt is great and made even more impressive looking due to the stellar paint job.  I love the dark circles around his eyes and the veins on his forehead.

For accessories Darth Malgus comes with 2 lightsabers and a hooded cloak.  One saber is bladed (Sith red) and the other is sheathed (if those are the correct terms..I dunno).  The sheathed one has a peg on the handle so it can be plugged into his belt for storage.  The cloth hooded cape is a neat idea and it has a bendable wire around the neck so I thought it would attach nicely but I can’t get mine to look right.

Overall, this is a great looking new baddie for the Rebellion.  8 out of 10.

14 points of articulation vs 5

14 points of articulation vs 5 points of articulation

SHIELD MAIDEN SHERRILYN (2013)

MOTUC-Sherri fullMASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS

I already reviewed 2 of the figures from Mattel’s MOTU Classics “Fighting Foe Men” 3-pack earlier today so I might as well review the last one too.  These days I usually only have enough time/motivation to post 1 or 2 reviews a week so you may be wondering why I’m posting 3 in one day today.  Well it just so happens that I’m on vacation this week but nobody else I know is off work so I’ve had plenty of time to bum around my apartment alone thinking about action figures.

As I told you in my Ditztroyer review, the Fighting Foe Men was the working name for the Masters of the Universe toyline while the brand was still in development way back when. The name was revived in 2013 and assigned to this group of 3 figures which are based on artwork seen on MOTU model kits produced by Monogram in the 80s.MOTUC-Sherri art

This particular figure is based on the artwork seen on the Attak Trak model kit.  She’s been given the name Shield Maiden Sherrilyn.  She’s named after Sherri Lynn Cook, a member of the Four Horsemen Studios team.

As was the case with Dawg-O-Tor, the pilot on the Attak Trak box is mostly obscured by the vehicle’s cockpit. The Four Horsemen really had to use their imaginations to fill in the gaps and turn the barely visible 2D character from the painting into a fully realized 3D action figure; and use their imaginations they did.  Nothing about the painting indicates to me that the Attak Trak pilot is female.  You can’t really tell what sex the pilot is since all you can see is one muscular arm, one muscular leg, and a silver helmet with gold goggles but if I had to guess I would assume it was intended to be a man.  I think it’s pretty cool that the Horsemen thought outside the box and made the third Foe Man into a Foe Woman.

MOTUC-Sherri gun

As they did with the other 2 figures from this set the Horsemen did a great job of matching the parts and paint apps used for this figure to the character seen in the painting.  Both have furry brown shorts, both have shoulder pads with a feather pattern, both have a red breast plate, and both have a silver helmet with gold goggles.  I’d say its a pretty impressive translation.MOTUC-Sherri shield

 

 

Sherrilyn’s accessories are based on the vehicle she piloted.  Her chest emblem is a blue bird logo with 2 yellow lightening bolts on the wings.  The logo isn’t immediately recognizable as being related to the Attak Trak but the bird and bolts are inspired by the decals on the vehicle.  Her weapons have a much more direct connection.  Her double barrelled laser cannon looks just like the cannons seen at the back of the Trak and her shield looks like one of the vehicle’s rotating tracks.  It’s as if she ripped the tread right off of her transport and used it to protect herself.  She also has a swappable Horde logo that can be worn in place of the bird emblem.MOTUC-Sherri horde

I appreciate how true to the original design this figure is but as was the case with Dawg-O-Tor I simply do not like the head design.  It’s just too goofy or sci-fi looking and I don’t feel it blends in well with other MOTU figures.  I’m considering displaying this figure with an alternate head.  Unfortunately I only have 3 or 4 alternate female heads and none of the skin tones match up.  I think my extra She-Ra head looks best but the difference in skin tones is very obvious.  If only she had a scarf or something to make the discoloration less noticeable.  Perhaps I’ll ask my mom to make me one;  she did an excellent job on Imperious Leader’s robe.MOTUC-Sherri she-ra

 

This is a solid figure with a great costume design, nice colors, cool accessories, and ample articulation.  I just wish it had a better head.  6 out of 10.

DAWG-O-TOR (2013)

MOTUC-Dawg fullMASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS

In my last post I reviewed Ditztroyer from the Masters of the Universe Classics “Fighting Foe Men” 3-pack.  I figured I might as well go ahead and review another figure from that set now that I’ve gotten all the back story out of the way.

This here is Dawg-O-Tor.  He’s named after Owen “O-Dawg” Oertling, a member of the Four Horsemen team.  I’m not exactly sure what role Mr. Oertling plays in the production process but apparently he’s an integral member of the team. I’m sure it’s neat for Owen to have a character named after him but, as with Ditztroyer, it’s a pretty horrible name for an action figure.  However, seeing as other characters in the MOTU line have names like Clawful (because he has a claw and he’s awful) and Man-E-Faces (because he has many faces) I guess we can let the name slide.

MOTUC-Dawg artThis figure  is based on the character seen on the box art of the Talon Fighter model kit.  Ditztroyer could be seen quite clearly on the Roton box art so I imagine it was relatively easy for the Horsemen to design that figure.  In the case of Dawg-O-Tor very few details can be seen in the box art so they would have had to fill in a lot of the blanks.  All that can be seen of the pilot on the original packaging is that he has a green top, black shoulder pads, bare arms, and a helmet with a visor.  It kind of looks like he has long hair but it’s difficult to tell.

The Horsemen managed to take those few details and construct a fully realized character.  The Dawg-O-Tor figure has all of the features I described above and the Horsemen rounded out the character with green pants and standard MOTU fuzzy boots and shorts.  It’s a relatively simply body design but it looks great and blends in well with all the other MOTU figures on my shelf.

MOTUC-Dawg hordeThe head sculpt is quite unique.  It features a very masculine square jaw, a silver helmet with gold wings painted on the sides, translucent yellow goggles through which you can see his eyes,  and long brown hair that flows out the back of the helmet.  There’s a white streak painted in the hair which was apparently done because Owen Oertling has a white streak in his hair.MOTUC-Dawg hair

I’m not exactly sure why but I do not like this head.  I think it’s the goggles that bother me the most..or maybe it’s the hair.  I just don’t like it.  So what I’ve decided to do is display this figure with a completely different head.  I have a whole bunch of extra heads kicking around in my accessory bin.  I tried out a few different ones but ultimately decided to give him one of my extra Palace Guard heads.  The Eternian Palace Guard 2-pack came with 4 heads, a white guy, a black guy, a lizard-man, and a cat-man. I like monsters so I’ve been displaying my guards with the creature faces leaving the 2 human heads as spares.  The caucasian head’s skin tone matches Dawg-O-Tor’s arms quite well so i think it works.  I can now display Dawg-O-Tor as a higher ranking Palace Guard instead of an evil pirate.MOTUC-Dawg guard full

For accessories Dawg-O-Tor comes with a shield and a mace.  The shield is inspired by the Talon Fighter vehicle in both design and color.  I’m not sure how the mace relates back to the vehicle.

Dawg-O-Tor also has 2 swappable chest emblems.  He has a Talon Fighter inspired winged logo and an Evil Horde logo as well. Since I’ll be displaying my figure as a Palace Guard I’ll be sticking with the winged logo.MOTUC-Dawg guard face

Even though I really like this figure after the head swap I must rate it on it’s original form.  Because I dislike the original head so much I’m going to give Dawg-O-Tor a 5 out of 10.

 

 

DITZTROYER (2013)

MOTUC-Ditz fullMASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS

One thing I really like about the Masters of the Universe Classics toyline is that it covers all corners of the MOTU mythology.  It’s not simply a rehashing of the vintage 80s figures.  The Classics line also includes figures inspired by the 80s cartoon, the new Adventures toyline of the 90s, the 2002 cartoon series and toyline, the 80s mini-comics, and the She-Ra: Princess of Power cartoon and toyline.  The Classics line has also introduced brand new characters into the mythology like Draego Man.  One of the coolest things Mattel has done is produce figures based on old concept art from the earliest days of the brand.  For example, in 2011 they produced figures based on the original design sketches for He-Man and Skeletor.  Those toys were given the names Vikor and Demo-Man and provided with new backstories to integrate them into the established continuity as unique characters.  In May 2013 Mattel did a similar thing with the release of the Fighting Foe Men 3-pack.MOTUC-Ditc box

“Fighting Foe Men” was  the original name assigned to Mattel’s barbarian/science-fiction toy line when it was still in the development stage before they settled on “Masters of the Universe”.  I think it’s a cool nod to the history of the brand that the name was resurrected for this set. The first wave of MOTU figures was released in 1982 and new waves were released annually until 1988.  If Ditztroyer doesn’t look familiar to you it’s because he’s not a remake of one of those vintage figures; but he’s not a brand new character either.

From 1968 to 1984 Mattel owned a model company called Monogram. Monogram produced model kits of cars, airplanes, and other vehicles beginning in the 1950s and it continued to do so for years after its relationship with Mattel ended.  While still owned by Mattel, Monogram produced 3 model kits based on vehicles from the MOTU universe; the Attak Trak, the Talon Fighter, and the Roton.  The boxes of those model kits featured painted artwork of the vehicles in action.  For some reason the pilots of the vehicles in the artwork were not known characters like He-Man and Skeletor.  Instead, never before seen mystery men were placed behind the wheels.MOTUC-Ditz card art

I never owned any of those model kits as a kid.  Truthfully, I didn’t even know they existed and I wouldn’t have cared even if I did know.  I was never into building models.  I would much rather have had the actual toy versions of those vehicles produced by Mattel (but I didn’t own those either).  However, if I did own the model kits and had seen the mystery men featured on the box art I probably would have wanted action figures of those characters.  Somewhere out there, MOTU fans much more hardcore than I, did remember those characters and did want action figures of them.  In 2013 Mattel and the Four Horsemen (the designers behind the Classics line) gave them what they wanted.MOTUC-Ditz art

This Ditztroyer figure is based on the character seen on the box of the Roton model kit.  All of the pilots seen on the boxes are somewhat obscured by the cockpits of the vehicles but the Roton pilot is the one you get the best look at.  He’s a blue skinned guy with a blue cape and hood, green gloves, green shin guards or boots, a green belt, and an orange chest and shorts.

MOTUC-Ditz face

 

 

 

The Horsemen have done a fantastic job of producing a figure that matches the box art.  The only design element of the action figure that don’t perfectly match up with character seen in the artwork is the lack of the crocodile skin texture on the gloves and shin guards.  The furry loin cloth may not be a perfect match either but its difficult to tell.

In the painting the character doesn’t have any sort of emblem on his chest nor does he have any accessories.  The Horsemen made a really neat decision to give each Foe Man an emblem and a weapon that represents the vehicle they piloted.  Ditztroyer has a black emblem that features the large eyes and jagged underbite of the Roton and for a weapon he has a long black staff with spinning red blades which is very reminiscent of the Roton itself (the staff’s blades don’t actually spin unfortunately).  Another cool thing about this figure is that the cape has a sleeve in it where the staff can be stored when not in use.MOTUC-Ditz horde

The newly crafted bio on the Foe Men’s packaging states that they started out as a group of renegade pirates but later swore allegiance to Hordak and joined his Evil Horde. Thusly each Foe Man comes with a Horde symbol that can be worn in place of the vehicle specific emblem.  It’s a pretty cool little detail that provides some additional play value.  No other toy line makes me wish I was a kid again like  MOTU Classics.  I would’ve loved to play out Diztroyer’s storyline.

As for the name, each Foe Man was given a name to homage a member of the Four Horsemen team.  Ditztroyer is named after a guy named Shane Ditzworth.  I’m not a fan of the name but whatever.

I really like this figure.  It’s by far my favorite of the 3 Foe Men.  The design is great, the colors are great, and the accessories are great.  His joints are solid and he has plenty of articulation.  My only gripes are:

MOTUC-Ditz back1. His name sucks

2. I think all 3 of the Fighting Foe Men look like good guys.  They seem miscast as villains.  Ditztroyer reminds me of Dr. Manhattan and the Vision, both heroic characters.

3. He has nipples.  I didn’t notice until I took his larger Roton emblem off to replace it with the Horde symbol but this dude is apparently bare chested. That doesn’t make any sense to me.  I’ll just keep on pretending that he’s a blue guy with a very tight orange shirt on.

8 out of 10.

 

MEXICAN WOOD SHARK

Mex-Shark fullIn my last post I told you I was about to embark on a perilous journey to Mexico for my buddy Miguel’s wedding.  Well I’m happy to report that I survived the trip.  Not only did I survive it but I had a great time.  I’d never been down south before so I was a little worried about the heat (I burn easily), the ocean (I fear sharks and I can’t swim), the food (I mostly survive on Pizza, Kraft Dinner, and PB sandwiches), the locals (I was warned that Cartels run the resorts), and a slew of other things.  Fortunately the whole trip went very smoothly and none of those things were an issue.

Mex-Shark front

We arrived on Sunday and spent the first night drinking beers and exploring the large resort.  Monday was spent drinking cocktails in the pool.  Tuesday was the wedding.  It sucked wearing a suit in that heat but the ceremony was lovely and the reception was fantastic.  Miguel and his beautiful new bride Ashley hosted a dance party on the beach complete with a light-up glass dance floor, a piñata, a taco stand, a photo booth, over-sized sombreros, and unlimited booze.  We ended the night at the resort’s 60’s themed dance club which was a blast.  The combination of Beatles tunes, funky retro decor,  and afro’ed go-go girls made me feel like an extra in an Austin Powers movie.

Miguel: Groom/Best Friend/Mexican

Miguel: Groom/Best Friend/Mexican

 

Wednesday was more pool drinks and I believe that was the evening we hit up a local town, Playa del Carmen.  There were two things I was looking for in town.  I wanted a Mexican comic book and I wanted a crappy Mexican bootleg action figure.  I was hoping to find a yellow ninja turtle with a Superman logo or a green Spider-Man with a machine gun labelled Spider-Warrior-Soldier.  Something like this.  Unfortunately I couldn’t find action figures or comic books anywhere.  I even asked an English-speaking local where I could maybe find comics and he didn’t even seem to know what I was talking about.  Many of the crappy souvenir shops (there were hundreds of them) had poorly painted Marvel statues but they were too big and cumbersome to carry around.  The Predator was also very popular there for some reason.  I found multiple Predator statues but no action figures.  The highlight of my visit to Playa del Carmen was getting my picture taken with a monkey named Obama.

Me, Vanessa, and Obama

Me, Vanessa, and Obama

I didn’t want to leave town empty-handed so I settled for buying this wood-carved hammerhead shark.  I may fear sharks but I still love them.  I love animals in general and am always tempted to buy rubber versions of them when I see them. Here are a few examples of past animal figure purchases: Jellyfish, Grizzly Bear, Frog, Platypus.

The particular souvenir shop I stopped in to make a purchase had a number of neat wooden animal figurines.  I just so happened to have this shark in hand when the very aggressive shop owner approached me and told me how his family carved it themselves and that it was a steal at $90.  It took about 5 minutes to negotiate him down to a much more reasonable $20.  You might think even that seems a little high but this is a very nice piece.  The wood is silky smooth with a nice grain pattern.  Gills and even a little mouth have been carved into it and the name “Playa del Carmen” has been etched into the belly.  Makes for a decent souvenir.

Mex-Shark bottom

Though I’m not sure where I’m going to display this thing.  It doesn’t exactly fit in with the rest of my collection.  I think I’ll find a home for it in my living room somewhere, away from the action figure filled  man-cave.  I also ended up purchasing a painted tile featuring Chichen Itza (one of the New 7 Wonders of the World) and a small dip bowl featuring a cute skull motif so maybe I’ll lump them all together for a nice little Mexican display.

I never did find a Mexican action figure but I did find a Mexican comic book at the airport just before heading back home.  I rooted through every magazine rack I saw at the airport (there were dozens) and at the last one, right by our gate, I found 2 comics; an issue of WE3 and an issue of 100 Bullets.  It seemed odd that those were the books I found because both were published in America several years ago but I was happy to find anything at that point.  I opted for the WE3 comic; I was never able to get into 100 Bullets.Mex-Shark haul

The rest of the trip consisted of more drinking in the pool, feeding tropical fish in the ocean, relaxing on the beach, renting a car and driving to the Mayan pyramid at Chichen Itza (one of Vanessa’s bucket-list items), and lastly watching the underwhelming Mayweather/ Pacquiao fight at the resort’s sports bar.

Mex-Shark bowlAll-in-all it was a great time.  The fact that I got to share the experience with Vanessa and so many of my best friends made it that much better.  The vacation was a solid 10 out of 10.  This shark trinket is kind of hard to rate but as far as wooden sharks go I can’t imagine a better one so I suppose I’ll give it a 10 out of 10 as well. Why not?

Mex-pyramid

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