Thus far I’ve reviewed 3 of my 46 Vitruvian Hacks figures and I’ve rated all of them 10 out of 10. I expect most of the other figures will garner similar ratings because these things are awesome. However, just to prove that I’m not a completely biased, gushing fanboy I have decided to review my least favorite figure of the bunch, the Afterlife Gorgon. The packaging describes her as follows:
The battle between the gorgons and mankind was brutal and, in some cases, eternal. Some mighty warriors on both sides refused to pass on to the underworld and remained trapped in ghostly form. Their sworn oaths keep them locked in an eternal battle until victory is achieved.
This figure was included in a 2-pack titled “Ghosts of the Battlefield” along with an Afterlife Spartan.
Both figures glow in the dark. Since they’re supposed to be ghosts it’s a neat gimmick that makes sense for the characters. If I were a kid I’d probably appreciate the glow in the dark feature a lot more. I’d orchestrate situations to make use of it when playing, like building a cave out of pillows or just flicking the lights off to turn day into night. But as an adult collector I have little use for it. I don’t spend much time in my mancave gazing at my toy collection in the dark. Glow in the dark plastic has a very artificial look to it so it doesn’t easily pass for other materials like metal of cloth. I don’t mind it in small doses, like glow in the dark weapons or maybe glow in the dark armor, but this figure is glow in the dark from head to toe and it’s a bit much. It does look cool when glowing but in the light of day it doesn’t make for a very visually appealing figure. Her skin is the color of a used glow stick and her translucent blue armor is dull and muted. Some paint apps on the armor would have really helped to make this figure more interesting but the only apps are few dabs of black for her eyes and mouth and a pair of white fangs.
In the case of the Afterlife Spartan, the bland glow in the dark plastic is the only problem; otherwise it’s a quality figure. The same cannot be said for the Afterlife Gorgon. This is the only V-Hacks figure I received where quality control is an issue. I don’t know if others will have the same issue with this figure as I do, maybe it’s just mine, but her upper and lower torso don’t lock into place. I’m wondering if it has anything to do with the glow in the dark plastic they used, maybe it’s softer or something. The result is limited playability and posability. I have to display her in a rigid upright stance otherwise she crumbles in half. I have no doubt that Boss Fight Studios would send me a replacement if i asked them to but since it’s my least favorite figure of the bunch I’m not too concerned about it.
Another thing I don’t really like about this figure is the construction. There are both human and gorgon females in the line and they both look great. This figure is the only hybrid of the two. Afterlife Gorgon has a snakey upper half complete with a hissing gorgon face but her lower half is human with legs instead of a tail. The combo is a little bizarre. I think a glow in the dark gorgon with a full tail would’ve been much cooler and I’m curious as to why Boss Fight Studio didn’t go that route. This figure is the odd man out when displayed with the gorgon horde so I’m not sure where to put her in my V-Hacks display.
The last thing that bothers me about this figure is her outfit. She has the same belt piece as the eldest gorgon sister, Stheno, which has a full skirt in the back but nothing in the front. It looks fine on Stheno because she has shorts painted onto the figure. This figure doesn’t have painted shorts so it looks like she’s Donald Ducking it which is kinda disturbing. A ghost snake woman should have the decency to cover up her lady parts when locked in eternal battle.
For accessories Afterlife Gorgon comes with the skirt belt, chest armor, shin guards, wrist guards, a sword, a spear, and a shield. It’s a good selection though I don’t love the translucent blue plastic the weapons were cast in. They’re more vibrant than the armor pieces but they remind me of the Day-Glo G.I. Joe weapons of the 90s and they add to the overall synthetic look of this figure.
On Wednesday my “all-in” shipment arrived from Boss Fight Studios. I had contributed to their Kickstarter campaign two years ago so it was a long time coming. For more information on Boss Fight and their Kickstarter check out this post.
My all-in shipment consisted of 45 figures and 7 accessory packs plus a T-Shirt and a lithograph. It was an epic haul to be sure but the box wasn’t as enormous as I was expecting. BFS did an excellent job of packing everything economically and secure. 17 of the figures came on individual blister cards with colorful original artwork like you’d expect to find in a retail store. 7 of them came in small white boxes with black and white artwork, and the rest came in baggies. Each of the accessory packs came in white boxes as well. The unboxing seemed to go on forever as I pulled out each item and laid them on the floor.
The figures basically fall into the following categories: human warriors, gorgon soldiers, skeletons, and blanks. The humans and the gorgons are all awesome. The sculpting, the paint work, the articulation, and the accessories are all spot-on. The skeletons are intricately sculpted but due to a lack of paint they’re less exciting to look at.
The blanks are basic male and female human forms with no paint apps or accessories other than some alternate heads and hands. Customizers will love them but I’m not one to paint action figures myself so I was expecting to write them off as neat but ultimately useless add-ons. However the accessory packs, each of which includes gear for both a male and a female figure, really bring the blanks to life. Once I finally had all the figures open and displayed on my coffee table I was hard-pressed to select which one to review first. I’ll get to them all eventually but one that really speaks to me is the Underworld Warrior. The packing describes them as follows:
The gorgon sisters and their army have waged war on both man and the gods. Even the lord of the underworld, Hades himself must prepare for their onslaught. Needing to produce an army that was capable of winning this hopeless battle, he turns to their stone victims and infuses them with mystical fire to animate a molten army of burning warriors. These warriors were neither alive nor dead but rather some state in between.
When the Kickstarter was still up and running and I was deciding how much to contribute I considered army building the Underworld Warrior. I absolutely loved the idea behind them and the concept drawing of the at-the-time unproduced figure looked amazing. I envisioned a whole shelf full of them. However, the assortment of available figures continued to grow as more people contributed and I wanted them all. It quickly became apparent that collecting just the unique figures was going to be expensive so any dreams of army building were dashed. However, when BFS contacted me a short time ago and offered an additional free figure of my choice to make up for the delays in production I knew exactly who I wanted.
It’s awfully hard to pick a favorite Vitruvian Hacks figure but the Underworld Warrior is a definite contender for me. Once in hand, the figure met all my lofty expectations. Some might say that he’s not as interesting as more elaborate figures like Medusa or Leonidas but I think the simplicity adds to his appeal. When stripped of his gear the Underworld Warrior isn’t much different than the blanks. He’s bald and has no defining sculpted details. All of his uniqueness is achieved with paint applications. His base color is a dark ashy gray and he has orange and yellow lines painted throughout representing the mystical fire. It looks like lava creeping through the cracks of a volcanic rock. I’m really impressed by how cool it looks. That same color palate and design is carried over onto his tunic, helmet, and shield.
For accessories the Underworld Warrior came packaged with the aforementioned tunic, helmet, and shield as well as two swords, a sheath, a spear, spare hands, and a BFS display base. Each weapon is nicely sculpted and fits snugly into his malleable plastic hands.
Since he shares the same build as the Undead Warrior I reviewed previously I don’t have a whole lot more to say about the articulation but I’ll sum it up by saying he has the best articulation of any figure at this scale ever. I highly recommend you visit BFS’s webstore and order yourself some of these bad boys asap. 10 out of 10.
Last week I reviewed the FSS 4.0 Inferno BAT. Today I’m going to take a look at the figure that shipped out with him in the latest package from the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club: Bullhorn.
The original Bullhorn was released the year I quit buying G.I. Joes as a kid, 1990. The only figure I got that year was Rampart. My little brother Brian had Bullhorn though so I did have a chance to play with him a little bit. Honestly, I was never very impressed with the figure or the character. The guy is an intervention specialist who came packaged with a megaphone so he could diffuse tense situations. Seems like a useless specialty when you’re dealing with a terrorist group like Cobra that isn’t known to negotiate. But perhaps I’m being too hard on Bullhorn because some of my favorite Joes had equally redundant specialties that limited their usefulness in battle like Barbecue the fireman or Budo the samurai.
Bullhorn’s underwhelming primary military specialty aside, the bigger problem I had with him was his bland appearance. He has to one of the most boring looking Joes ever. He’s got brown pants and a brown shirt with grey trimmings. Still somebody at Hasbro thought he wasn’t brown enough so they put chocolate all over his face too. It’s earth-tone overload and dull to look at. The detached expression on the figure’s face made it appear as though even Bullhorn was bored with himself.
Bullhorn may have been as flashy as a cardboard box but at least he was a well sculpted figure and his design was grounded in reality at a time when Joe figures were becoming more gimmicky and outlandish. The megaphone accessory was something we hadn’t seen before plus he came with a full-face gas mask and an elaborate sniper rifle and case which was pretty cool too. I now have two 1990 Bullhorn figures, the one I inherited from Brian and the other came in the Epic Haul I acquired from Eric two summers ago.
When the Club announced that a modern-era Bullhorn would be included in their 4th figure subscription service I was moderately intrigued. He’s not a character I have any particular fondness for but the Club has previously impressed me with their modern-era versions of other 90s characters like Top Side and Big Ben so I was curious as to whether they could win me over on a character that had the visual appeal of a pine comb.
When I first saw mock-up images of this Bullhorn figure online I was indifferent. It looked like a decent approximation of the 1990 figure which is good for authenticity but bad because the original was so boring. It was about what I expected but I was hoping for something more. The one area where the Club had a real opportunity to impress me was the head. If they had given us a unique and dynamic head sculpt this figure may have been redeemed but instead they gave us a repaint of Dusty v.14’s head which has already been reused for both Duke and Spearhead. I didn’t mind when the Club reused it for Spearhead because it kind of looks like him but I don’t think it resembles the original Bullhorn at all. I’m not sure why the Club opted to use it again because I feel there must have been better options available. The one aspect of this head that does suit the character is the bored expression.
Now that my complaints are out of the way let’s talk about the good stuff. From the neck down this figure shares a body with the Cobra Shock Trooper which is an excellent figure. There’s lots of sculpted detail, good articulation, and it’s got some heft. The inclusion of the Retaliation Cobra Trooper’s webgear adds some additional bulk which I like. The webgear doesn’t really match the vintage look, I’m guessing it was selected because of the grenades, but I think it looks good so I’m fine with the choice.
For accessories Bullhorn comes with his megaphone, a pistol that can be holstered on his belt, a rifle, a multi-piece sniper rifle with case, a gas mask, and a headband. It’s a good assortment of gear. The removable headband originally came with Red Dog. The vintage Bullhorn had a headband sculpted onto him so it’s nice that the Club was able to reproduce that look but I prefer the figure without it. I’m not sure why Bullhorn had a headband in the first place. I used to think it was to signify that he was Native American but I can’t find anything to substantiate his ethnicity on his file card or online. The full-face gas mask is a handy way to hide the fact that he shares a mug with three other Joes. I may display him with the mask on but truth be told the face is growing on me. The black hair and the face paint differentiate him enough from the other guys that I don’t think the resemblance is immediately noticeable.
I received a shipment of 45 awesome Vitruvian H.A.C.K.S. figures earlier this week and I had planned to post a couple reviews this weekend. I may still get to them tomorrow but today I want to talk about this Green Lantern figure instead. Though that’s not entirely true. What I really want to talk about is the man whose artwork this figure is based on, Darwyn Cooke.
Last night before I went to bed I read online that Darywn Cooke had cancer. This morning I woke up and read that he had passed away. That really sucked.
Darwyn was one of my favorite comic book artists and he was a great writer too. I had seen his artwork a couple of times in single issues of Spider-Man and X-Force but it wasn’t until my friend Dave at Strange Adventures put a copy DC: A New Frontier in my hands a decade ago that I truly appreciated Cooke’s genius. He wrote and drew the out-of-continuity tale set at the end of the Golden Age of comics and it is one of the best comics I’ve ever read. Like Star Wars or Indiana Jones it made me nostalgic for a time I never personally knew. Even when it was brand new it felt classic and timeless. You could tell Darwyn really loved super heroes and he respected the history of the characters.
He had a cartoony style and his drawings looked clean and effortless. I suppose that’s why his style translated into animation so well when New Frontier was adapted into an animated movie. All of DC’s animated movies are direct-to-video but I had the pleasure of seeing a theatrical screening of New Frontier with Darwyn in attendance. That’s because he lived here in Nova Scotia and was a good friend to the guys at Strange Adventures. They even attended his wedding in Las Vegas a few years back. Darwyn was a regular at the shop and its many events like Free Comic Book Day. Even though I was a huge fan of his work I don’t like playing the role of fanboy so I never stood in line for an autograph even though I had many opportunities to do so. But one day he was in the shop just hanging out when I was there shopping. We were the only customers in the store at the time. I bought a hardcover copy of his book Parker: The Hunter and I asked him if he’d mind signing it. He graciously did so and even drew a little sketch on the inside cover. I talked about that and included a picture in this previous post.
I didn’t know the man but some of my good friends knew him well and I know they’re hurting today. So I would just like to pass along my condolences to his friends and family and my friends Dave, Cal, Sean, Ben, Kate, etc.
As for this figure, it was produced by DC Direct in 2006 in the first wave of figures based on Darwyn’s mini series. There were a total of 9 figures released over two waves. In hindsight I should have bought them all but I only picked up three: Green Lantern, Green Arrow, and Dr. Fate. Though there is another series of figures based on Darwyn’s art coming out soon and I already have them pre-ordered on BigBadToyStore. Green Lantern was one of the main stars of New Frontier. I never cared for the character before then but it made me like him and opened my mind up enough to try his on-going series that had been relaunched around the same time. I’ve been a Green Lantern collector ever since and he’s now one of my favorite DC characters.
I think the sculptor did a brilliant job of capturing Darwyn’s style. The figure is blocky and angular yet sleek and dynamic. The head sculpt is especially impressive with that smug smirk on his face and windblown hair. Plus I love the retro costume design that looks like an old-timey bathing suit.
For accessories, Green Lantern came with his lantern, an unmasked head, and a New Frontier display base. The base is much bulkier than most which gives the figure the appearance of a mini statue. I appreciate the inclusion of the unmasked face but I prefer the masked one.
My fourth FSS 4.0 package from the G.I. Joe Collectors Club arrived in the mail this past Friday and it was a complete surprise. Well, maybe not a COMPLETE surprise seeing as a new package from the Club arrives every few weeks which is the whole point of their subscription service but it was a surprise in that the contents had not been spoiled for me in advance. This is my fourth year subscribing to the FSS and thus far I’ve received 22 of these packages and this is the first time that no one revealed the identities of the figures online before I received mine. I’m not complaining about the spoiling, it’s the nature of the beast in the internet age. Living in Canada, I happen to be an “international” buyer so naturally my shipments arrive later than those shipped to US residents. This is why I was so surprised to find a delivery notification tag in my mailbox because I hadn’t heard even a murmur about the latest figures online. I picked up my package from the post office and tore it open like a kid on Christmas in hopes that it would contain either Billy or Sneak Peek; the figures I’ve most been looking forward to. To my slight dismay I discovered the Inferno B.A.T. and Bullhorn. Not to say that they’re bad figures but I was really hoping for the other guys. At least now I know the upcoming final two shipments will be good ones.
Here’s a quick recap on Cobra’s Battle Android Trooper. The original toy was released in 1986 and soon afterwards BATS were a mainstay of the comics and cartoons as well. Having robot bad guys allowed the Joes to look like competent soldiers who could actually shoot their enemies for a change while still keeping the show kid-friendly. I was a big fan of the BATs from the get-go. The design was really cool and what kid doesn’t love a robot with interchangeable weapon hands.
A second version of the BAT was released in 1991. It was similar in design to v.1 BAT but slightly less interesting in my opinion. The BAT was redesigned a few times during the new-sculpt years of 2002-2006 with varying degrees of success. One of the later new-sculpt models, released in 2003, was called the Inferno Bat. It was a v.2 BAT sculpted in translucent orange plastic. According to the file card, the orange colour was a result of their internal processing units being designed to generate great amounts of heat to allow the Inferno BAT to send out bursts of heat and fire. It was kind of a silly idea but it looked pretty cool. I probably would have liked the Inferno BAT a lot more had Hasbro used the original ’86 Bat mold instead of the ’91 mold which I never had an affinity for.
When the modern-era of G.I. Joe figures launched in 2007 many of the character designs and figure construction choices were questionable. A lot of those early ME figures really have not stood the test of time. However, the 2008 BAT was one of the best modern-era figures released during the 25th anniversary line and it remains one of the best ME figures to date. The sculptors managed to capture all the greatness of the original 1986 figure but they updated it so that the BAT was leaner, meaner, and more detailed. The new BAT was so cool that I was tempted to army build it (buy the same figure multiple times to have a whole squad of them) but I didn’t have to because Hasbro re-released it multiple times in various color variations. Therefore, I was able to build a small army of them without having to buy the exact same toy over and over again. Hasbro’s retail variations have included the Arctic BAT and the Jungle BAT and even the Collector’s Club previously released their own version in the first FSS with the Nano-BAT. A modern-era Inferno BAT wasn’t exactly a figure I was clamoring for but it’s one I was happy to add to my collection to expand my BAT battalion.
I thought I knew exactly what I’d be getting with this figure, the 2008 BAT figure in a new colour because that’s what every BAT re-release has been for the past 8 years but that’s not quite what I got. For the most part this figure is the same as the others but for some reason the Club opted to give the Inferno BAT Storm Shadows’s ninja legs; the same ones they used on the Arctic Night Creeper a couple of shipments ago. I don’t understand why they did that. The legs aren’t bad but the feet are quite small which results in shallow peg holes. Combine shallow holes with rocker joints on the ankles and you get a figure that’s difficult to keep standing. I hate it when figures can’t stand up. It didn’t bother me as a kid when all my toys were in a box or being played with but as an adult who likes to display his collectibles unstable toys are the bane of my existence. If one goes down it takes all its neighbors with him and then you have chaos. Stability aside, what about consistency? All my BATS, whether they’re Arctic or Jungle or whatever, wear very distinctive boots so why is this guy wearing socks? Why didn’t the Club just use the regular BAT legs like they used on their Nano-BAT? Is that too much to ask?
It probably sounds like I’m nerd-raging but I’m really not; I’m a little bit nerd-annoyed if anything. The Storm Shadow legs actually fit proportionately and they’re painted in such a way that they don’t look like sock feet . Besides, if the Club hadn’t changed something they’d probably be getting grief for being cheap and unoriginal. All-in-all it’s a nice looking figure. The translucent plastic is neat but its not as effective here as it was on the recently reviewed Undead Warrior.
The accessories are pretty standard for a BAT. He has two removable hands that can be swapped out for weapons: a gun, a flamethrower, and a claw. He also has the standard BAT backpack which can be used to store some of the unused items. What cool add-on that we haven’t seen with a modern-era BAT before is the sword hand. I like it and I’ll be displaying him with it on my shelf. 8 out of 10.
In my last post I reviewed the Undead Warrior from the Eternal Struggle 2-pack. An exclusive set of figures produced by Boss Fight Studios for 2016 Convention appearances. In this post I’ll be taking a look at the other figure from the set, the Ringneck Gorgon. The packaging describes her as follows:
The Ringneck Gorgons were quiet and smart. Their tactical knowledge and efficiency were their most deadly asset, assessing the situation and deciding how best to win a fight within seconds. Their decicions were deadly and final, usually leaving an enemy eviscerated or worse.
Sounds pretty bad ass.
Regular readers of this blog know I love G.I. Joe, Transformers, Marvel Super Heroes, and Star Wars; all brands that I grew up watching on TV and reading in comic books. Boss Fight Studio’s (BFS) Vitruvian Hack’s toyline is an original concept with no media tie-ins so you might be wondering why I’m so excited about them. The simple answer is Clash of the Titans. And no, I’m not talking about the Sam Worthington movie from 2010 (though I like that one too). I’m talking about the 1981 film starring Harry Hamlin as the demigod son of Zeus. I first saw it when I was really young (I would’ve been 3 when it came out) and I was absolutely captivated by it. All of the mythological creatures were animated in stop-motion by the legendary Ray Harryhausen. In the climax of the movie (spoiler alert!) the Kraken emerges from the deep to accept Andromeda as a human sacrifice only to be thwarted at the last minute by Perseus and his Pegasus. As corny as it may look by today’s standards, that Kraken was the coolest thing I’d ever seen at the time. I desperately wanted the Kraken toy produced by Mattel in the 80s (still do) but the only Clash of the Titans figure I owned was Charon, the boat keeper on the River Styx.
The second coolest creature featured in the movie, which did not got an action figure which is a real shame, was Medusa, the snake-haired Gorgon who could turn men to stone with a single glance. Medusa freaked me out when I was a kid. I still think the stop-motion version is way creepier than the 2010 version, partly because she was so ugly whereas the updated CG Medusa was designed to be attractive.
The main Gorgon figure in the Hacks line is of course Medusa and from the images I’ve seen online she looks great, but I still have a while to wait before I’ll have her in my hands. As the Kickstarter raised more and more funds BFS added more and more figures to the launch including Gorgon soldiers in a variety of colors. I was most looking forward to the all black one, Black Racer. This purple Gorgon, the Ringneck, wasn’t part of the Kickstarter. She wasn’t revealed until a couple of months ago when BFS announced they’d be selling the Eternal Struggle 2-pack at Conventions this summer. It’s hard to say, since I don’t have the other color variations in hand yet, but I think the Ringneck may be my favorite Gorgon of the bunch. The green and the orange ones look a little too bright and the black one is maybe a little too dark. The Ringneck is a happy medium. The shade of purple selected is really nice and the orange used on the underside compliments it well making for a vibrant and visually appealing toy.
I can’t say enough good things about the sculpting on this figure. The gang over at Boss Fight are true artists because this thing is beautiful. There are teeny scales all over the body and the face is great. Those big soulless yellow eyes would put the fear into any Spartan I’m sure.
The design of this figure also needs to be praised. The Undead Warrior is the perfect action figure representation of a human in this scale but the Gorgons take it to a whole other level. The twisty snake tail looks and feels really cool. It’s constructed using individual segments, sort of like the tails seen on Godzilla and Otachi. It has a cool rubbery skin and can be posed all kinds of ways. Most impressively, it allows the character to stand upright which is awesome. This is leaps and bounds beyond the rubber tail Hasbro gave us on Golobulus back in ’87.
For accessories The Ringneck has removable chest armor, a spear, a sword, a very cool shield with an intricate crest, and a totally awesome helmet made out of the skull and spine of some poor creature. At a glance you could say the accessories are all just grey but upon closer inspection you’ll see they’re all different. The shield and sword look they could be made of stone, the armour is metallic, and the helmet looks like bone. It’s all very impressive.
Two years ago I backed a Kickstarter campaign launched by Boss Fight Studio (BFS) to help them produce a line of customizable action figures called Vitruvian H.A.C.K.S. (Highly Articulated Character Kit System). The campaign was successfully funded (and then some) but that’s when the waiting game began. BFS ran into some troubles along the way but they were always good about keeping their Kickstarter backers informed of their progress. In February BFS told us that the first six figures had arrived at their warehouse in the USA from the factory in China. To compensate for the delays, BFS said they’d ship out those six figures immediately at their own expense rather than wait for the entire orders to be filled. At that point I knew I was mere weeks away from owning my first Vitruvian Hacks figures. I wrote a blog post about their pending arrival proclaiming that reviews would soon follow. It turns out I jumped the gun.
I eagerly checked my email inbox every day in hopes of seeing a shipment notification but it never came. Figure reviews were popping up on other sites from people who had already received their figures and mine hadn’t even shipped yet. I was getting a little frustrated. Finally on March 30 I got an email from BFS. It read as follows:
“We are contacting you because your shipment is going to an international address. At this point we have managed to get a lot of orders shipped and sent out. Our next priority is for backers that live outside of the US. Due to price hikes in international shipping we have decided to give you the following options before we proceed.
-The first option is to pack and ship two packages to you, the first package will consist of the items that we have on hand at this point and the second will consist of the additional items that make up your backer level.
-Option two is to select one additional figure from the following list. We will give you that figure free and ship the entirety of your order in one shipment once we have the remainder of the product on hand.”
So I had a choice to make, have them send me six figures now or wait even longer (months perhaps) and accept a free figure for my trouble. I concluded that I’d already waited two years so what’s a couple more months. I was helping BFS out and I would be repaid for my kindness by way of an extra Underworld Warrior. I was mostly cool with it but it was disappointing none-the-less because I’ve been dying to get my hands on these figures.
However, a dash of good news came shortly afterwards. BFS was scheduled to appear at a Convention somewhere the weekend of April 2-3. At the con they’d be selling an exclusive two-pack of figures that was not included in their Kickstarter campaign. Thankfully, they also made the pair available to non-attendees by offering them for sale on their website for 24 hours. I placed my order and after a 2-week wait finally received a ship notification April 15. And now, 2 weeks later, I finally have my first Vitruvian Hacks in hand. I was praying they didn’t disappoint because I’m expecting another 50 of these things to show up when my Kickstarter order is filled. So, did they live up to the hype?
In a word, yes, but I will admit that opening the teeny box that the two figures arrived in was a little anti-climactic considering that for two years I’ve been anticipating the arrival of a massive crate full of individually carded figures. However, as underwhelming as the size of the box was the packaging was still pretty neat in its own right.
The name of the set is “Eternal Struggle”. The figures came in a small white box with some cool artwork on the front showing the characters confronting one another in a moonlit swamp. On the back there are lengthy bios for both characters. For this post I’m going to review the Undead Warrior and I’ll save the Ringneck Gorgon for my neck post. The Warrior’s bio provides, in part, the following:
When Hades needs warriors to defend his realm or to serve his goals in the land of the living, he simply plucks a fallen warrior from the river Styx and sends them out to do his bidding. These warriors are single-minded, doing anything to achieve their mission. they are nearly impossible to best in battle. How do you slay something that is already dead?
I really appreciate that BFS went to the trouble of crafting back stories for these characters. They could have easily omitted that detail but I really think it adds some life to these characters. If I had read that blurb as a kid my imagination would have started firing on all cylinders as I dreamed up adventures this Undead Warrior of Hades could undertake.
The figure itself is excellent. It’s similar in construction to other 3 ¾” figures like G.I. Joes and Marvel Universe so it’s completely compatible for play or display but it doesn’t suffer from any of the issues that often plague those other brands. The proportions are realistic, the sculpting is excellent with lots of subtle musculature, and the range of movement is fantastic. This figure can kick and sit down and raise his arms and do all kinds of things that many G.I. Joes simply can’t. BFS may very well have perfected the 3 ¾ figure here.
Since this figure is basically a ghost he’s sculpted in translucent plastic and he doesn’t feature any paint apps save for his eerie blue eyes. The violet plastic they used for the body looks really nice especially in front of a light source which gives him an otherworldly glow.
For accessories the Undead Warrior comes with a tunic, a helmet, a spear, two swords, and a display base. With the exception of the black base, all of the accessories are molded in translucent gray plastic and they don’t feature any paint apps either. I’m fine with the fact that there are essentially no painted parts on this figure and his gear because it adds to his ghostly appearance and I know there will be plenty of paints apps on the upcoming “living” warrior figures.
The last thing I want to mention before moving onto my review of the Ringneck Gorgon is the quality of the plastic used on this figure and his accessories. It feels like BFS has crafted the perfect formula; not too hard and not too soft. I don’t get the impression that this figure will break easily. It feels study yet flexible and I think it could withstand some serious play time. It’s a real shame that kids will likely never know about these figures. 10 out of 10.
In my last post I reviewed the first ever Jack-O-Lantern figure which was released by Toy Biz in 1998. Today I’m going to review the brand new 2016 Jack-O-Lantern figure produced by Hasbro.
Before I start talking about the actual figure allow me to continue my history lesson on the character. In the last post we left off after Jason Macendale had ceased being Jack-O-Lantern in order to assume the guise of the Hobgoblin after he’d had the Goblin murdered. Things only got more complicated from there.
Macendale sold his soul to a demon in order to gain enhanched powers. As a side effect Macendale began to turn into a demon and go insane. He was later separated from the demon entity which went on to become a Spider-Man villain in it’s own right named Demogoblin. Macendale went back to being a mercenary and he was later cybernetically enhanced by the mad scientist named Gaunt. Despite the enhancements he found himself in prison where he was killed in his cell by the original Hobgoblin who apparently hadn’t been as murdered as Macendale originally thought. End of the line for the original Jack-O-Lantern😦
His pumpkin headed alter-ego lived on though through a number of confusing resurrections. A second Jack-O-Lantern who looked the exact same as the original first showed up in Captain America issue 396 in 1992. That guy made a handful of appearances before getting his head blown off by the Punisher during the Civil War storyline in 2006. This Jack later returned as a super natural character in the vein of the Headless Horseman but Ghost Rider re-killed him. End of the line for the second Jack-O-Lantern.
In the Spider-Man comics another Jack-O-Lantern showed up in 1996. This version went by the name Mad Jack and used a lot of Mysterio’s illusions because he/she/they had ties to the original Mysterio. I don’t feel like explaining their whole stupid backstory but supposedly they were both killed off panel so we don’t have to worry about them anymore.
Most recently, a brand new Jack-O-Lantern was introduced in the Agent Venom series written by Rick Remender. This guy was a sadistic kid raised by the new Crime Master (another updated version of a classic Spidey villain). The new Jack wore a costume that was significantly different than those worn by his predecessors. He traded in the green spandex for a black costume covered in belts and buckles. He also swapped out the classic bouncing disc for a rocket powered broomstick like the one the Green Goblin flew around on in his early appearances. The new Jack-O-Lantern’s appearance had a creepy Halloween vibe to it that I quite liked. Remender wrote him with personality and it was the first time in a long time that a Jack-O-Lantern received some character development so I actually like him as an individual character and not just as a Macendale knock-off. During an battle in their feud, Venom tossed a grenade into Jack’s pumpkin helmet horribly disfiguring him so that he had a sort-of pumpkiny face even without his mask on. It was a neat idea that further distinguished this version from the others. I hope this version sticks around for a while.
This brand new Jack-O-Lantern figure was included in the latest wave of Marvel Legends; a Spider-Man focused line with an Absorbing Man build-a-figure. As I mentioned in my Spider-Gwen review a couple weeks ago, I scored the entire wave of seven figures from Strange Adventures thanks to my pal, Dave Howlett who manages the place (Sidebar: Dave does a lot of cool stuff online and in print. Check out his comic, Slam-A-Rama, or his podcast, Living Between Wednesdays).
I would’ve preferred a classic 1980s Jason Macendale Jack-O-Lantern Marvel Legends figure but getting this version is pretty great too. The head on this figure is exactly what I wished my 1998 figure looked like. It’s got the small triangle eyes, the big grin with the 4 pointed teeth, and no nose. It looks awesome. The flame effect is really well done too with some translucent plastic on the back of the head as well as flames coming out of the eyes.
For the body Hasbro has reused the body of Ghost from their Thunderbolts boxset which was a San Diego Comic Con exclusive a couple of years ago. Surprisingly this body works just as well, if not better, for Jack than it did for Ghost. When I compare this figure to the Jack-O-Lantern drawings in the Venom comic I’d swear this figure was designed specifically to match the art. The body is lean and lanky with lots of belts and buckles and long creepy fingers. The addition of a new belt seals the deal. I have zero complaints about the reused body.
For accessories Jack comes with a piece of the Absorbing Man, a pumpkin bomb, a gnarly scythe weapon, and his rocket broomstick. Finally, Jack-O-Lantern has his conveyance. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for a Marvel Legends version of the original Jack-O-Lantern (complete with his hover disc) but in the meantime this figure fills my Jack-O-Lantern figure needs. 10 out of 10.
This is part 1 of a 2-part review. Originally I had planned to review my new Marvel Legends Jack-O-Lantern figure today but since I was hauling out my 90s figure for a comparison shot I decided I might as well review him too.
I know I say lots of characters are favourites of mine but Jack-O-Lantern truly is one of my favourite comic book characters. I started collecting comics at 8 years old. The very first comic I bought was Amazing Spider-Man 281. It featured Spidey and Silver Sable facing off against the Sinister Syndicate; a group comprised of Beetle, Hydro-Man, Boomerang, Rhino, and Speed Demon. You’d think that would be enough to make for an action packed issue but the B-story was even better…
So Flash was awaiting trial while the real Goblin was at large and scheming with the Kingpin. Jack-O-Lantern was a bad guy on the rise trying to establish himself in New York’s underworld. After first appearing in Machine Man’s book in ’81, Jack tangled with Spider-Man a couple of times but he had never been a major player in Spidey’s rogues gallery. In this issue he determined that breaking the Hobgoblin out of prison was a way to make a name for himself and get into the Goblin’s good graces. He liberates Flash not realizing that he’s actually screwing up the real Hobgoblin’s plan. Gobby goes after him and the two villains end up in a glider dog fight over the streets of New York. Jack takes a beating but actually gets the better of Hobgoblin and makes his escape. I was hooked.
I absolutely loved Jack-O-Lantern’s design. He had dark green tights with a lime green chainmail leotard over top, buccaneer boots, a flaming pumpkin on his head and he bounced around on a hovering yellow disc. I know it sounds ridiculous but it looked super cool I swear. Just glance over at the cover to issue 284 when a gang war erupted stemming from Jack-O-Lantern’s criminal ambitions. How can you not love this guy?
Jack-O-Lantern, whose real name was Jason Macendale, cemented his place as one of Spidey’s main villains when he had the Hobgoblin assassinated in issue 289 and then took over his identity. It was a total baller move pulled off by what was considered a low level villain. I hated to see Jack’s flaming pumpkin disappear from the comic pages mere months after discovering him but I loved seeing the character grow into a real threat as the new Hobgoblin.
This figure was released by Toy Biz in 1998 as part of it’s Spider-Man toy line based on the 90s cartoon. Macendale never actually appeared in the show as Jack-O-Lantern so I was surprised, but delighted, that this figure was even made. I’d wanted a Jack-O-Lantern figure desperately as a kid so it was cool to finally be getting one even if it was a couple of years after I graduated high school.
This figure is still pretty cool looking even 18 years after its release. There’s some really nice sculpting in the face and plenty of detail in the chainmail torso yet the figure manages to retain a look inline with the other animation-based toys. The colors are vibrant and the translucent flame on the back of the head effectively captures the comic-book look. It’s fair to say that I was happy with this figure. However it wasn’t without it’s problems…
This figure has really over-sized weirdly sculpted arms and I can’t for the life of me figure out why. They either hang at his side like a couple of salamis or you have to pose him like he’s constantly scratching at his crotch. A swivel joint at the wrists or forearms would have helped this figure dramatically.
Why doesn’t the paint on his boots and gloves match the chainmail bathing suit? They’re supposed to. I appreciate that Toy Biz put a brown paint wash on the torso to show off the sculpted detail but it makes for a dark and weathered chest piece that looks odd with the clean and neon-bright limbs.
Jack came packaged with a big pink bug that spit pumpkins. Lots of Toy Biz figures came with big useless accessories that I immediately tossed into a spare parts bin never to be seen again. If you want to pack big useless missile-launching bugs with characters like Spider-Man, Swarm, and Tarantula in order to appeal to little kids I’m fine with that; those characters wouldn’t need accessories anyway. But don’t give a bug to Jack-O-Lantern if it means robbing him of his trademark pogo ball. Stupid decision.
Lastly, as nice as this face sculpt is, it does not look like Jack-O-Lantern…at least not the original version. Macendale usually had two triangle eyes and a smile with 4-pointy teeth. It was a very simple design which I have replicated on plenty of real pumpkins over the years. This face is too detailed. It’s got too many teeth, too many wrinkles, its eyes are too emotive, and worst of all it has a nose. This is not the Macendale Jack that I love. This is the face of the imposter who ripped off his gimmick many years later and went by the name Mad Jack. I’d be fine with getting a Mad jack figure but not at the expense of an original Jack-O-Lantern figure.
As you can see, I have mixed feelings about this figure but at the time I was sure it was the only Jack-O-Lantern figure I’d ever get so I made peace with its problems and rejoiced that I had it at all. 7 out of 10.
The first Pathfinder figure was released in 1990, the year I quit collecting G.I. Joes as a kid. The only figure I owned from that year’s assortment was Rampart. For that reason I have little attachment to the characters released that year and the final 4 years of the brand that followed. But that’s not to say that Pathfinder was a bad figure. The original featured a completely new sculpt and some pretty unique accessories. Like Recondo, he was a a jungle trooper but Pathfinder’s specific area of expertise was making trails where there were none, hence his code name and his weed whacker with spinning blade. The card art made it look as though he was wearing a fisherman’s bucket hat but the actual figure sported a safari style hat with one side pinned up just like his jungle buddy Recondo. Pathfinder also had sunglasses sculpted onto his face and a vest sculpted onto his torso. There is nothing overly exciting about the design but I appreciate the real-world look at a time when Joe figures were getting more and more fantastical. I did eventually acquire that original Pathfinder figure in the Epic Haul I received 2 years ago courtesy of Eric (are you still reading, man?).
Pathfinder had only been re-released once (a bland solid-gray repaint in 2001) before this new version hit mail boxes a couple of weeks ago. Pathfinder version 3 is the first ever modern-era version of the character and it was included in the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club FSS 4.0. He shipped out with Jammer, the subject of my previous review, in the third of six mail outs.
Completely opposite of the 1990 original, the 2016 Pathfinder is constructed entirely of reused parts. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though as parts reuse is an inevitability in this day and age; the key is using good parts and that’s what the Club has done here. Pathfinder’s got the baggy pants legs of the G.I. Joe Retaliation Trooper and the torso and arms of 2013’s Kwinn. The parts work together nicely and give him some bulk which he would need to lug that weed whacker through the jungle. Obviously I would’ve preferred a unique head sculpt but the Club went with Lifeline’s head and it makes for a pretty good stand-in. Between the sculpted shades and the inclusion of Recondo’s removable hat this head looks like it was intended to be Pathfinder all along. I do find the head a wee bit small for the Kwinn torso but it’s not too bad. The hat fits pretty good as long as you flip it the opposite way of the original. Pathfinder’s vest is also removable on this version. The vest seems a tad oversized but the Club was limited in its vest selection so i don’t fault them for that. All in all it’s a nicely put together figure.
The paint job perfectly replicates the original and it’s what allows me to forgive some of the proportion issues. The colours look really great especially the crazy camouflage pattern on the pants. The brown and green paint used on the pants matches up very well with the brown and green plastics used for the vest, hat, and belt.
For accessories Pathfinder includes a machete, a pistol that can be holstered on his hip, a backpack which fits nicely despite the vest, a flashlight that can be stored inside the backpack, an axe, a machine gun, and of course the weed whacker. It’s a good lot of stuff that is all appropriate for the character. Some fans may be sad to see that the twin hip-mounted guns of the original are not present here but I’m not bothered by it.
This is a decent Joe figure and I feel the Club did the best it could with the existing parts library. It may not be perfect but I’m always happy to add unique characters to my shelves. 7 out of 10.