DOMINICAN WOOD SHARK

Approximately 2 years ago I went down south for the first time.  I visited Mexico for my best buddy Miguel’s wedding. While I was there I purchased a wood-carved hammerhead shark souvenir which I reviewed on this site. I hadn’t vacationed anywhere since until last month when Vanessa and I, along with Miguel, his wife Ashley, and our pal, Ryan, all spent a week in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.

It was an excellent vacation. Other than some excessive rain the first day or two I have nothing to complain about.  The resort was beautiful, the food was delicious, the company was great, and the drinks were constantly flowing. We spent the majority of our time either on the beach or in the pool (I won’t subject you to those pictures) which was extremely relaxing.  A couple of years ago I never would’ve expected such a hot and lazy vacation to be up my alley but there really is something satisfying about having zero plans and never having to take out your wallet.

The only off-resort adventure we went on was an excursion to “Monkey Land” which was a monkey sanctuary crawling with 30+ spider-monkeys.  I highly recommend it if you’re a fan of monkeys.

There wasn’t much in the way of souvenirs for sale on the resort that interested me. There were lots of hats, and t-shirts, and sunglasses…the usual.  There was also loads of mama juana. If you’ve ever been to the Dominican I’m sure you’re familiar with mama juana because it’s frigin’ everywhere. The first time it was offered to me I was certain the guy was trying to sell me weed. It can be purchased as a dried herb or as a drink.

There were also plenty of wood carvings for sale in the various shops and kiosks. I considered buying a wooden car from a fast talking vendor named PJ but then I saw this great white shark and knew I had to get it instead.  I have now officially started a wood shark collection.  Anytime I see one from here on out I will buy it.

I won’t pretend to be a shark expert but this one appears to be a Great White and it seems to be perched on a pile of rocks which is a little strange.  The carving is crude and there is no etching to associate it the Dominican (though PJ offered to do it at an additional cost) but it’s a charming trinket anyway.

I rated the Mexican Shark 10 out of 10 and this shark is clearly less refined so I’ll give it a 7 out of 10.

RAPTOR v.2 (2017)

G. I. JOE FIGURE SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE (FSS) 5.0

The 6th and final shipment from the G.I. Joe Collector Club’s  FSS 5.0 arrived a couple weeks ago.  The last 2 figures were Raptor and Steel Raven and the surprise 13th figure was G. I Jane.  Jane and Raven are both decent figures but Raptor is probably the highlight of the entire sub this year and maybe one of the best subscription figures to date.

The original Raptor was released in 1987. He was Cobra’s resident falconer and accountant. Obviously. He was a pretty odd looking character even amongst the other weird and wonderful Cobra soldiers.  He was a shirtless dude wearing a bird cowl over his head, with real cloth wings, and a pet falcon that perched on his wrist. My brother Doug owned the original when we were kids.  No later versions of Raptor were ever released so I never got a chance to acquire one for myself. Though I did eventually get my own version 1 Raptor (minus his accessories) courtesy of Eric in the Epic Haul of 2014.

This new version from the Club is the first  Raptor released in 30 years and it was worth the wait. Raptor has a loyal fan base so this was a highly demanded figure that the Club really needed to nail, and honestly, I don’t think they could’ve done any better with this release.  He’s largely made up of re-used parts from 2010’s Zartan version 20. I didn’t buy that figure at the time because I thought it looked like a poor man’s Raptor. I already had a perfectly fine Zartan figure (several of them) and I didn’t feel that I needed one dressed like a hobo and carrying a bird.  I later wished I had bought it so I could display it as Raptor because I knew my chances of ever getting a real modern-era Raptor figure were slim to none and I desperately  wanted to add him to my Cobra ranks.  I never did get Zartan v.20 though because it got rather pricey on the secondary market quite quickly.  I assume it’s because others had the same “pretend this is Raptor” idea as me.

Now I’m glad I never did get that Zartan figure because it makes this figure that much more unique looking in my collection. The head, torso, arms, and upper legs are all the same as Zartan v.20. The only body parts the club swapped out are the lower legs which they replaced with Destro v.22 legs. That Destro had weird claws on his boots for some reason (snow shoeing? rock climbing?) and they are perfect for giving Raptor the talons depicted on his card artwork. Even the original Raptor didn’t have talons like this.  The Zartan hood has been replaced by the bird cowl from the vintage Raptor. A brand new cowl would have been nice but the vintage one still works and it definitely establishes that this is undoubtably Raptor.

For accessories Raptor comes with the bird and staff that Zartan inexplicably had in 2010. The bird even has a removable hood which is awesome though it’s an accessory just screaming to get lost as it sits rather loose. He also has a pistol that can be holstered in his belt and a whistle that hangs around his neck. The pièce de résistance is the re-imagined wing harness. Rather than give us a gimpy piece of cloth like the vintage figure had, the Club has brilliantly re-used the Jungle Viper’s ghillie suit rig.  Seeing the articulated wings on Raptor you’d never know that they weren’t originally intended to be wings.  They remind me of the wings the Vulture wears in Spider-Man comics.  Needless to say, they’re much more threatening than the original’s beach towel.

This is a solid home run from the Club.  10 out of 10.

SALVO v.3 (2017)

G. I. JOE FIGURE SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE 5.0

Shortly before I moved out of my apartment I received a package from the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club containing the two latest subscription figures. Since I was already in the process of boxing up all my belongings the new Joes just got tossed into a box. I didn’t get a chance to open them until I was settled into the new house. So now, nearly a month later, I finally get to enjoy my new Darklon and Salvo.

The original Salvo was released in 1990, the year I quit collecting Joes as a kid. Rampart was the only figure I bought that year. I did think Salvo was neat looking with his bizarre helmet and massive weapons but even as a kid I thought his “The Right of Might” t-shirt was pretty cheesy.  Since I never owned the original I have no real attachment to the character. I didn’t even get version 2 when it was released in 2005 despite the fact that I was back into collecting Joes big time by then. Salvo simply wasn’t on my radar as an essential member of the team.

version 1 (1990) pic from YoJoe.com

Regardless, I was excited to hear that Salvo was slated to be included in the Club’s 5th figure subscription service. I’m happy any time I can add a unique character to my modern-era collection.  My initial excitement quickly dissipated though once the Club revealed their photoshop prototype. Salvo looked like a scrawny little wiener. I wasn’t the only one underwhelmed by the reveal. Joe fans decried the horrible figure on every G.I. Joe site on the internet.  The Club quickly responded to the backlash by promising to go back to the drawing board.  What they came back with was a huge improvement and resulted in the figure you see here today.

Improvements aside, this figure is still far from perfect.   The arms, torso, and upper legs are all reused from a Dwayne Johnson Roadblock figure which makes perfect sense given that Salvo was always drawn as a muscly tough guy in the comics and cartoon. But I wish the Club had reused the entire Roadblock body. Instead they swapped out the lower legs for those of a Channing Tatum Duke.

The lower leg swap results in Salvo having wonky knees that can’t be fully straightened and poorly angled  ankles which make it nearly impossible to keep him standing on his own. The original lower legs would have worked out just fine and made for a much more solid figure. The Club’s poor decision means I have to keep Salvo hunched and backwards on his stand to keep him standing up.Reusing the Hit & Run head from the Club’s 2013 Night Force set was an inspired choice that no one expected. There aren’t many bald heads for the Club to choose from so I think most fans were expecting to see Serpentor’s head (which probably would’ve worked out okay too). The Hit & Run head had painted hair before but there’s no sculpted hairline so it works out perfectly for a bald dude and the variation keeps Salvo from looking like a clone of Hit & Run.

 

As for Salvo’s accessories, I’m okay with the fact that the Club didn’t replicate the original’s ridiculous shoulder-mounted 5 missile rocket launcher or massive mine launcher but I know others were disappointed. The Club still managed to arm him with an oversized shoulder cannon (as seen in the prototype pic above) but it only has one spring loaded missile.  It’s an ugly weapon but Salvo can’t support the thing due to his knee and ankle problems anyway so I chucked it into the extra parts bins never to be seen again. At least he comes with a pistol that he can carry or holster on his leg so he isn’t completely defenceless. Salvo also has a briefcase as the original did, a display stand, and his iconic helmet. I really thought the Club would have to sculpt a new piece in order to recreate this distinctive feature of the original but instead they just reused Sci-Fi’s helmet and it works surprisingly well.

 

The colors on this figure are true to the original and thankfully they’re toned down from the overly bright photoshop mock-up.  The Club even made the right choice of using the 1990 font on his silly t-shirt instead of the stiff text they showed on the mock up.

I wish this figure could stand up straight and hold his weapon but as long as he’s leaning I think he’s pretty cool. I really appreciate the fact that the Club responded to fan feedback and improved this figure before going into production. Had we gotten their first attempt I’d probably give Salvo a 3 or 4 but as is I give this a figure a 7 out of 10.  

HARLEY QUINN (SPACESUIT) 2017

DC DESIGNER SERIES: AMANDA CONNER

I’ve been settled into my new house for a month now. If you saw my last post you know that most of my toys are unpacked and the man-cave is looking great. I don’t know if I’ll start posting reviews on the regular again but I’ve got a little time to kill this evening and I got a cool new figure today so I thought I’d write my first review in the new house.

Harley Quinn first appeared on Batman: The Animated Series in the early 90s. I was a fan of the show, and though I didn’t watch it religiously, I liked Harley Quinn right away. She had a fun, court jester style costume which worked really well for her role as a love interest/henchman of the joker. True, she was a little annoying but her outlandish enthusiasm suited her since she was supposed to be absolutely nuts.

Harley was brought into the main DC comics universe in 1999 by way of an original graphic novel. I found the comic book version even better than the animated version.  She wasn’t as goofy and you could read her dialogue free of the annoying animated series voice. Bruce Timm’s animated jester design translated perfectly to the more detailed comic book medium courtesy of top-tier artists like Jim Lee and Terry Dodson. I had wanted to add a Harley Quinn action figure to my collection for many years but the cartoon based ones didn’t fit in with my existing DC crew and I missed out on the comic figure based on Jim Lee’s popular “Hush” storyline. She was a little too pricey for me on the secondary market and for years that Hush figure was the only 6″ Harley Quinn option.  Oh how times have changed.

I finally got my first Harley Quinn figure in 2014. It was based on her “edgy” New 52 redesign. I was happy with the figure at the time and gave it an 8 out of 10. If I were to review that figure today I’d likely give it a 4.  There are far superior options out there now, it constantly falls over, and I just don’t care much for that costume choice. A year later I got a new Harley based on her 2013 roller derby redesign. It was a much better costume which was designed by artist Amanda Conner. I was very pleased with that figure at the time and gave it a 9 out of 10. Nowadays I’d probably bump it down to a 7. The figure had a lot of good attributes, such as removable roller skates, but the weird face and stumpy neck were not among them.

In my review of Derby Harley I mentioned that I’d been hoping for figures based on Amanda Conner’s art for years and it seemed as though that was as close as I was gonna get. Well here we are just a couple of years later and DC Collectibles has offered up a whole series Harley figures based on Conner’s distinctive artwork (I’m still waiting on Power Girl though). I’m so happy to see Conner get her due. I’ve been a big fan of hers since 2002’s “The Pro”. I wish she still drew comics on the regular but it seems like she’s content just doing covers and writing these days.

I eagerly pre-ordered all 4 Conner Harley Quinns when they were offered on BigBadToyStore about a year ago. However, once the initial excitement wore off I calmed down and questioned whether I really needed 4 more Harley Quinns…because I don’t think I even like this character anymore.

 

I have tried on several occasions to read Harley Quinn comics and I just can’t get into them.  They’re stupid. Too stupid for me. I really wanted to like them because of my past affection for the character but I just can’t.  On top of that, the character’s popularity seems to have reached a critical mass and she has completely saturated the market. She’s everywhere.  But the straw that finally broke the Harley camel’s back was that goddamn turd of a Suicide Squad movie. After that I was done.  I cancelled my figure pre-orders.

Harley hate aside, I still love Amanda Conner so I told myself I’d let myself pick up 1 of the 4 figures once I saw them in store and decided on a favourite. They recently hit stores in my area and the winner was spacesuit Harley. This figure is based on a specific storyline (as are the other figures in this series) which I did not read. The entire body design is faithful to Conner’s artwork but the Conner-ness is most evident in the face. She draws such beautiful and expressive faces so this is where the sculptors really needed to nail it and I think they were successful. This type of facial sculpting is what was sorely lacking on the derby figure. The wide eyes, exuberant smile, and flowing hair all do Conner justice and the delicate paint apps seal the deal.

This figure has a vibrant paint job, plenty of articulation, and fun accessories. She comes with a display base, removable space helmet, a cork space rife with a stretchy phone-cord like rope, and some sort of evil space pizza. The pizza doesn’t mean much to me but I’m sure somebody out there will appreciate it. This figure has mended enough of the damage done by Warner Bros’ Suicide Squad that I may even allow myself to buy one more from this series. I may not feel this way forever but, as of right now, this is the Harley Quinn figure I’ve been waiting for. 10 out of 10.

MANCAVE RELOADED

I realize I’ve been pretty slack on the blogging lately so I apologize to my regular readers for the lack of content. As per usual, the dry spell isn’t due to a lack of cool new action figures, I’ve been adding to my collection weekly, it’s more a result of me being busy and lazy. The busiest thing I’ve been up to since you last heard from me was buying a house.  Big time grown up stuff.

Vanessa and I bought our first home in the neighbourhood I grew up in. I was a little reluctant to move back to the home town but it’s a pretty sweet house and it’s kind of nice to be around the corner from my folks. We’ve been here for about three weeks and I’m finally unpacked enough that I feel comfortable sharing some pics with you.

The home is a split entry and Vanessa has granted me free reign to decorate the downstairs however I please. The lower floor consists of a large den/wreck room, a bathroom, garage, storage areas, and one bedroom. I would’ve loved to fill the den with toys but our cat, Buster, can’t be trusted not to chew on things sitting on open shelves. Therefore, I had to cram almost all of my figures into the one bedroom.  It’s a little more space than I had in my last apartment but still not nearly enough to display all of my collectibles. I managed to unbox quite a bit of stuff but I still have multiple tote bins that will have to stay in storage.

In the den I have a couple of bookcases full of graphic novels and 6 plexi-glass cases of figures mounted to the wall (safe from Buster).  I plan to hang most of my nerdy art in that room as well to make it feel like my own but I haven’t done that yet. I’m still very nervous about putting holes in the walls of my new house. In my apartment I used the plexi cases to display my 3 3/4″ Marvel Universe figures. This time around I’ve opted for more variety: only one Marvel case, one Star Wars, one Gundam, one 200-era G.I. Joe, and a couple miscellaneous. 

The true man-cave/bedroom features shelving units for both modern-era Joes and Cobras. Two Transformer bookcases,  two shelves for POPs, two 3-shelf units for Masters of the Universe, one for Marvel Legends, and one for DC. I’ve got my Ninja Turtles and 6″ Star Wars Black Series figures on a couple little cases and I installed a couple of floating shelves for my Vitruvian Hacks.

Lastly I mounted three small plexi-cases of Battle Beasts then pinned a bunch of carded figures to the wall to create a boarder just like I did in the apartment. It’s coming together quite well and I’m pretty happy with the results. Tweaks will be coming over the next few months but for now the man-cave is born anew. Enjoy.

COBRA VIPER v.29 (2017)

joe-viper-v29-fullG.I. JOE: FIGURE SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE (FSS) 5.0

When the 3 3/4″ G.I. Joe toyline launched in 1982 there were 2 bad guys available in stores, the standard Cobra Trooper and the Cobra Officer. Those guys served as Cobra’s basic infantry.  All of the troopers that followed the next few years were specialized soldiers like frogmen and arctic troopers. In 1986 Cobra’s basic infantry got an upgrade with the release of the Cobra Viper. The original Viper design was awesome and iconic. Repainted versions of the figure were released in 1989 and 1990. In 1994, the final year of the original toyline, a 4th version of the Viper was released. V.4 featured a complete redesign made up of entirely new parts. It lacked the Viper’s trademark faceplate but overall the new mold wasn’t bad. The problem with the figure was the paint job. Cobra’s signature blue and reds were replaced with an over abundance of purple and rosy orange highlights. yuck.

1994 Viper

1994 Viper

When Joe figures returned to store shelves in the late 90s/early 2000s the Viper reappeared again but Hasbro wisely went back to the original ’86 mold. Since 1997 more than 20 variations of the original Viper design have been released but Hasbro has never revisited the 1994 design.

However, the Collector’s Club saw the potential in the mold and released the ’94 figure with a slick black, red, and gold paint job in 2005 as part of their exclusive convention set. The Club named their new creation Iron Anvil, a trooper in Destro’s Iron Grenadier army. 10 years later the Club updated the Iron Anvil in the modern figure style for their 2015 box set. The Club invested cash to sculpt a modern era head featuring Iron Anvil’s recognizable breather mask. Fans speculated that it wouldn’t be long before the Club reused the head to create a modern era Viper v.4 to get the most bang for their buck.  Sure enough the Club announced that the ’94 Viper would be updated in their next FSS.

joe-viper-v29-back

My first FSS 5.0 shipment arrived last Friday. It contained Charbroil and this Viper. I didn’t think I would like this figure but to my surprise I actually think it’s pretty cool. His body, with the exception of the arms, originally belonged to 2010’s Jungle Viper. The Club already used it to great effect for their box-set Air-Devil last year and it works well here too. It’s not completely faithful to the 1994 design but I think it’s an improvement. The ’94 boots were too high and the shoulder pads are pretty dated. I’m not sure where these arms came from off the top of my head but they work really well with the body. I loved this updated head design on 2015’s Iron Anvils and it still looks very sharp even in purple. This Viper sports the same garish colors as the 1994 figure but they don’t look as bad as I expected. I think the purple is a little duller which helps.joe-viper-v29-face

For accessories Viper comes with a display base, a shotgun, a rifle, a pistol that can be holstered on his ankle, and a knife/sword that can be stored on his back. I don’t love any of the weapons but they’re not bad. Once again the Club has changed my mind about a figure I wasn’t excited about. 8 out of 10.joe-viper-v29-compare

Oh, I nearly forgot to mention, this figure has the worst G.I. Joe card art I’ve ever seen. WTF is going on with this dude?joe-viper-v29-carded

SPIDER UK (2017)

marvl-spider-uk-fullMARVEL LEGENDS

For my birthday last week my brother Doug bought me Ms. Marvel and Spider UK from the latest wave of Marvel Legends. Each of them came with a piece of a build-a-figure Sandman so, between them and the Shocker, Green Goblin and Spider-Man 2099 I recently purchased for myself, I’m only one leg away from a completed Flint Marko. That means I’ll be on the lookout for the Jackal, which is not a figure I would have bought otherwise but, since I need it to complete Sandman Hasbro is gonna get another thirty bucks out of me. Damn them and their clever ploys.

After acquiring 2099 and Shocker I was tempted to skip the rest of this wave. I love the Green Goblin as a character but I don’t like the new Legends figure, I know nothing of Ms. Marvel and I’m not interested in learning, I never liked the Jackal because he looks idiotic, Symbiote Spider-Man is rather bland and I’ve bought multiple variations of it in the past, and Spider UK is arguably  just another Spider-Man figure.marvl-spider-uk-back

However, when it comes to action figures my resolve is weak. I caved on Goblin right away because it’s likely the only Goblin we’ll get for the foreseeable future. It’s really only the face I don’t like and it may grow on me in time. When Doug asked what I wanted for my b-day I informed him that Ms. Marvel would be  suitable choice. It saved me from spending my own money on her and prevented me from missing out on her entirely. She seems to be a popular character these days so I was worried if I didn’t get her now she may be hard to find later. It was less about her and more about the crucial Sandman piece she came with (the torso). I also told him Spider UK would make a decent gift. He’s a good dude so he got me both of them.

If Spider Uk was just Peter Parker in a fancy outfit for adventures abroad I would not have wanted it. But Spider UK is actually a completely different character.  He comes from an alternate universe much like Spider-Gwen or Spider-Man 2099. His name is Billy Braddock and he’s a member of the multi-verse spanning Captain Britain Corps. Really he’s as much Captain Britain as he is Spider-Man. He supposedly has the powers of both men (minus Peter’s spider sense) which would mean he has superhuman strength, speed, stamina, durability, reflexes, and the ability to fly at supersonic speeds.

marvl-spider-uk-art

In 2014 there was a storyline published by Marvel Comics called Spider-Verse which saw the Spider-Men (and women) from every alternate reality team-up to battle against a group of vampire-like villains called the Inheritors. That was the storyline that introduced a bunch of new Spider-Man variations including Billy here. He was the leader of the group of misfit spider people until the one-true Spider-Man took charge. The group proved popular enough to get their own series called Web Warriors after Spider-Verse ended.  Sadly the book sucked so it was cancelled after only one year.

To the untrained eye this might look like just another Spider-Man figure but there a few key difference which set him apart.  When compared to the default Peter Parker: Spider-Man Marvel Legends action figure you’ll notice that UK is quite a bit buffer.  I believe this is a brand new body sculpt and it’s a great base for future tough guys.  Clearly Billy hits the gym more than Peter does. Also of note, the blue and red are darker shades, the web pattern is different, UK has smaller eyes, lacks red gloves and boots, has no spider emblem on his chest, and features a Union Jack pattern in his costume akin to Captain Britain. I wish he had a more CB like helmet as opposed to a standard Spidey mask to further differentiate him but there are enough differences regardless that I don’t feel like I’ve been duped into buying the same toy over again.marvl-spider-uk-britain

I probably shouldn’t like this figure as much as I do because it is so similar to the dozens of other Spider-Man toys I have but knowing there’s a unique character under the mask makes him much cooler than he would be if this were just an alternate costume.  If I were a kid I would want to play out the Spider-Verse storyline and this figure would be essential. This is a solid figure with crisp paint apps and plenty of articulation. 8 out of 10.

p.s. I apologize for the extra crappy photos today. My camera refused to agree with me.

Spider-Man size comparison

Spider-Man size comparison

SIXSHOT (2017)

tf-sixshot-fullTRANSFORMERS: TITANS RETURN

Last week I turned 39. I’ve gotten old and some days it really feels that way. But that doesn’t mean I can’t still get excited about opening new toys on my birthday. My brother Doug got me a couple of Marvel Legends and Vanessa got me Sixshot (along with a bunch of other stuff…I’m spoiled).

The original Sixshot toy was released in 1987. I never had it because I was already losing interest in Transformers by that time. I grew very attached to the characters that starred in the first couple years of the comics and cartoons like Optimus Prime and Bumblebee. After many of those characters were unceremoniously killed off in the 1986 animated Transformers movie I had a hard time getting excited about their replacements. Doug and I quit collecting the Marvel comic and we stopped watching the cartoon. We got a few toys of the new characters introduced in the movie but we didn’t get any toys of characters introduced in the two subsequent seasons of the show that followed the movie.  Sixshot appeared briefly in the cartoon after we stopped watching.  Apparently he was heavily featured in the Japanese cartoon that carried on the Transformers’ story after the show was cancelled in America. I bought those Japanese cartoons on DVD a couple years ago but never got around to watching them (with the exception of the episode that featured the Battle Beasts) because they were subtitled. Maybe I’ll attempt to watch one after posting this…tf-sixshot-back

Sixshot was unique because he was the first six-changer with six distinct modes: robot, tank, spaceship, laser gun, off-road vehicle, and wolf. Prior to him the most complex bots were triple-changers like Blitzwing and Astrotrain.

Sixshot made appearances in the Marvel and Dreawwave Transformers comics but he never did anything that left an impression on me. That isn’t surprising because characterization wasn’t Marvel’s strong suit (as far as Transformers were concerned) and Dreamwave didn’t hold the license very long. Since 2005 the Transformers comic license has been held by IDW and they have produced some amazing comic books. They’ve been able to infuse so much character into these robots that many have gone from obscure toys nobody remembered to beloved fan favourite characters.

Sixshot has appeared in a number of IDW comics, including his own spotlight issue published in 2006, but I don’t feel that he’s truly received the “IDW treatment”.tf-sixshot-comic

IDW’s comics have improved so much since those first few years so I’d like to see Sixshot return for a more character-driven story. He’s a badass that turns into six things but other than that he’s still basically a blank slate. Since I didn’t grow up playing with him, and because he hasn’t been properly IDW’ed, I don’t have any attachment to this character. That’s why I was willing to leave this toy behind when I saw it at Walmart a couple of weeks ago. I had been looking high and low for the new Titans Return branded Megatron when I stumbled across Sixshot. He looked really cool but I couldn’t justify spending $60 on him. Maybe if he was a character I loved (I’ve paid much more than $60 for certain Transformers) or if there was something amazing about him I could have justified it. The fact that he transformers into six things doesn’t qualify as amazing in my book because I never transform my toys out of their robot modes anyway.  If anything, six modes is a detriment to the toy because it means the designers have to cram a bunch of stuff into it that will likely hurt the aesthetic or hinder the articulation. I hated to leave him behind though because I know all it would take is one excellent issue of the comic to make Sixshot a must-have toy. Thankfully Vanessa saved me from my conundrum by throwing him in the cart and declaring him a birthday present. She gave him to me on my actual birthday a few days later.

pics borrowed from TFwiki.net

pics borrowed from TFwiki.net

Sixshot is a “LeaderClass” toy so that means he stands about 10 inches tall; taller than most Transformers on my shelf. He’s bulky and has a good weight to him.  He’s got wide feet and his weight is evenly distributed so he stands firm and solid. Design-wise he looks great. He’s got a blocky form that is very faithful to the original toy and animated appearance. He has a faceplate so it should be hard to convey emotion but Sixshot looks suitably pissed off with his angular red eyes (see pic below). I’ve never held the original toy but apparently the only articulation it had in robot mode was at its shoulders. In that regard this figure is a marked improvement as it has articulation at the neck, shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, and feet. However I do find that if I mess around with his legs too much he tends to get wobbly so mine will be displayed quite statically.

tf-sixshot-head

This Sixshot was released as a “Titans Return” figure which means he’s a Titan Master. When I was a kid they were called Headmasters.  The concept is that their heads transform into even smaller robots. I thought it was a dumb idea then and I still do. Targetmasters were okay, their guns turned into robots and that felt like added value because you’re getting two characters for the price of one, but in the case of headmasters what am I supposed to do with this guy’s body once I take his head off? (I know, turn it into a car but I don’t care about vehicle modes). Sixshot’s head turns into a character named Revolver which has no articulation or paint apps and is completely pointless. Sixshot’s other accessories are two wimpy looking pipes that are supposed to be “hypersonic concussion blasters”. Meh.

Overall this is a good figure with a cool design and an attractive color scheme that separates him from the pack. But silly gimmicks, bad accessories, a high price tag, and poor quality control (the left wrist on mine doesn’t stay in place and hangs limply) drag it down a couple notches.  7 out of 10.tf-sixshot-pose

 

SPIDER-MAN 2099 (2017)

marvl-2099-fullMARVEL LEGENDS

Way back in 1992 Marvel decided to launch a comic book series about a future Spider-Man set in the year 2099. They also launched 2099 books focusing on the Punisher, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, and others. Spider-Man 2099 was the only one I was interested in so I never read any of the other titles. Though years later, long after it was cancelled, I was drawn into collecting Ghost Rider 2099.  I may have given the other 2099 books a chance back in the day had I actually liked Spidey 2099 but unfortunatley I didn’t. I really liked the concept of a future Spider-Man facing off against future versions of his greatest villains, there was lots of potential there, but I found it poorly executed. Peter David co-created the character with artist Rick Leonardi and he wrote 44 of the 46 issues. I appreciate that Spider-Man 2099 was David’s creation but I feel another writer could have made the stories more interesting so I wish someone else had gotten the opportunity to take a stab at it. I don’t say that lightly as Peter David has written some amazing comics, including the first Spider-Man comic I ever bought (Spectacular Spider-Man 119) that featured Black Cat vs Sabertooth which I still love to this very day.marvl-2099-back

 

The Spider-Man of 2099 is Miguel O’Hara, a latino fella who works for a shady mega-corporation called Alchemax. When he tries to quit his job (upon discovering the shadiness) his boss doses him with something which leads to a series of unfortunate events; the end result being Miguel gets spider powers. It’s been 25 years since I read those comics but as I recall Miguel spent the next bunch of issues battling against Alchemax, a robot cowboy, some lame Thor worshipping cult, and crappy future Vulture. The stories never wowed me and Leonardi’s art didn’t help matters (though I’ve really enjoyed some of his other work too). It takes a lot for me to quit collecting a comic (I just quit Spawn after collecting 267 consecutive issues…it also launched in 1992) but I dropped Spider-Man 2099 after only 12 issues. Even though the book didn’t live up to my expectations I always had a fondness for Miguel O’Hara and hoped to see him back someday.

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He’s had a few scattered appearances over the years but Spidey 2099 finally got a second shot at his own on-going series in 2014. I added it to my pull-list at Strange Adventures but unfortunately it was still written by Peter David and it was still hella-boring. Regardless, I stuck it out until the series was cancelled a year later. I  got back on board when a third series was launched shortly afterwards under Marvel’s “All-New, All-Different!” campaign. The third series featured Miguel wearing a brand new costume but that was about the only new thing about the series.  It was still written by David and it continued on with the same boring storylines from volume 2.  I bought it for a while but quit a couple of months ago. However, I just recently learned that Mr. David is the writer of a new Scarlet Spider book launching this spring. I haven’t seen anything official but that probably means that a new writer is getting a shot at 2099 or, more likely, 2099 has been cancelled again.  In either case I may jump back on board to see how things pan out.

 

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Even though the books have never been very good in my opinion the character has always looked really cool. He wore the same costume from 1992 right up until the All-New, All-Different relaunch in 2015. It consisted of a metallic blue bodysuit with a red skull design and a web cape. Miguel supposedly had the costume in his closet because he wore it to a day of the dead festival once. It wasn’t a particularly spidery outfit but it looked great. I especially loved the mask with the open eye design. I have purchased several Spider-Man 2099 figures over the years in various sizes (12″, 6″, 5″, 3 3/4″) and they’re all sporting that same costume.

I don’t usually like costume changes for the sake of costume changes, it’s almost always a marketing gimmick to get fans to buy more comics and merchandise, but when I saw the All-New, All-Different redesign of Spider-Man 2099 I was sold.  I guess I was ready for a change after all these years and I loved the bold contrast of the red, white, and black design. It retains all the best elements of the original, such as the open eyes, the abstract skull logo, and the Batman-esque arm spikes, but it just feels so…new and different. As soon as I saw the promotional art I thought this costume would make a great action figure but I didn’t imagine the book would last long enough to warrent Hasbro actually making it into a toy. As it turns out the book probably is doomed but thank goodness we got this action figure beforehand.marvl-2099-compare

Hasbro has been absolutely killing it with their Marvel Legends figures for the past few years. I went from only owning a handful of them to buying a new bookshelf just to house them in a matter of months. I named 3 of them on my best of list for 2016 but honestly I could’ve filled the whole list with them. I feel that this Spidey I acquired a few days ago is an early shoe-in for my 2017 list.

This figure feature an excellent sculpt. It’s not as slim as the previous Spider-Man 2099 Marvel Legend which is a good thing. The extra bulk makes him look much tougher and I feel Miguel should look more dangerous than Peter Parker: Spider-Man. The articulation is spot on  with rocker ankles, double jointed knees and elbows, ball jointed hips, shoulders, and neck, swivel joints at the boots, thighs, wrists, and forearms…what more could you want? The paint apps are beautiful with crisp white paint on the torso, metallic red on the logo, and a few bright blue highlights all on greyish-black base. Everything about this figure is awesome. Some extra hands or an unmasked head might’ve been nice (the only accessory he came with was a build-a-figure Sandman arm) but who needs accessories with a figure this good. 10 out of 10.

P.S. It’s my birthday in an hour so I should have new toys to tell you about soon. 🙂

HOVER TANK PILOT

swb-hover-fullSTAR WARS BLACK SERIES

Back on October 15 I reviewed the 6” Star Wars Black Series K-2SO figure from Hasbro. At that point “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” hadn’t been released yet. I bought the figure only because it looked cool because back then I had no idea what the character would actually be like on screen. Had he ended up being completely obnoxious it’s very unlikely that I would have placed him on my best of 2016 list but fortunately Rogue One was fantastic and K-2SO was awesome. There were plenty of cool new characters introduced in Rogue One and I’m looking forward to getting action figures of most of them. When I bought K-2SO I also picked up Jyn Erso and a Death Trooper. I passed on Cassian Andor but I will definitely get one eventually as Deigo Luna was an excellent addition to the Star Wars cast. The Jyn figure features a decent likeness to actress Felicity Jones and it’s a fine toy as far as paint applications and articulation go but ultimately it’s just a regular human figure (I’m more of an aliens and robots guy). I expected to love the Death Trooper, it was the figure I was most looking forward to getting leading up to the film’s release, but once in hand it failed to wow me. I found the Death Trooper to be a tad too lanky to be menacing; he looks like K-2SO dressed as a Stormtrooper. The Scarif Stormtrooper (or Shore Trooper) which I have yet to find looks to be another interesting trooper variation but, again, it’s not one I’m super excited about. The armor appears to be more yellow than white and there are too many other random colors thrown in which results in a costume design that looks muddled to me. Rogue One was a great flick but it didn’t seem as though it would be providing me with any Imperial figures worth calling home about.swb-hover-back

The other day I was in Toys R Us hoping to find the new Megatron figure that I didn’t get for Christmas (Doug got me Astrotrain instead so I’m not complaining). I didn’t manage to find Megs but I did come across this Toys R Us exclusive Rogue One Hover Tank Pilot. At first glance I thought this was the Shore Trooper because they share some colour and design elements. I didn’t even know this pilot figure was being released so it wasn’t on my radar but I snatched it up on impulse. I’m a sucker for any Imperial trooper even the mediocre ones.  I don’t recall seeing these pilots in the movie but apparently they were driving the patrol tanks in the scenes set on Jedah. I’ll be sure to watch for them on my second viewing. I didn’t examine this figure closely until I got him home and unboxed. I expected just another moderately cool new twist on the classic Stormtrooper akin to the First Order Flametrooper or Death Trooper. Imagine my surprise when I was completely smitten with the Hover Tank Pilot once I had him in hand. I don’t know why exactly but this figure is just super cool. He’s similar to many other Imperial troopers but he’s just unique enough to stand out from the pack.swb-hover-pose

 

I love the armor, especially the helmet (which reminds me of the First Order Flametrooper and Snowtrooper but better), but what I think I like most about the design is the lack of armor on his lower half. The fact that he’s just wearing brown pants is a refreshing change. It makes sense that a dude squeezed into the cockpit of a hot tank would choose something a little more comfortable than full body armor. Where the classic Stormtroopers and the Death Troopers are sleek and clean this guy is wrinkly and dirty with some neat details sculpted into his armor. A brown paint wash adds age and weathering to the armor and gives him that “lived in” look that Star Wars prides itself on.

The Hover Tank Pilot is rather diminutive when compared to other Imperial Trooper figures which is a little odd because Leia made it clear in A New Hope that Storm Troopers are usually men of  greater stature. However, I’ve theorized that the Empire probably assigns it’s shorter recruits to pilot the cramped vehicles.  I actually like that he’s short because it gives him a little more personality.  I imagine he’s feistier than most other troopers.swb-hover-gun

For accessories the Hover Tank Pilot includes only a standard issue blaster which is all he really needs. I don’t like that he costs $5 more than the other Black Series figures only because he’s a store exclusive but otherwise I have zero complaints about this great figure. 10 out of 10.swb-hover-group