Monthly Archives: July 2012

SHOCKWAVE

G.I. JOE / TRANSFORMERS

I present to you the ultimate action figure mash-up: SHOCKWAVE as a COBRA H.I.S.S. TANK.

In the months leading up to the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con Hasbro unveiled what would be one of their Con exclusives, Starscream as a G.I. Joe Skystriker.  I was floored by it.  Those of you who aren’t fans of the properties may not understand what a big deal it was but as a big fan of both Transformers and G.I. Joe it was f**king amazing.  Joes and Transformers had crossed paths a couple of times in both the comic books and cartoons but this was the first attempt at merging the two properties in toy form.  It worked great and it was probably pretty simple to pull off.  They took the already released G.I. Joe Skystriker jet, , painted the nose cone blue, gave it orange glass for the cockpit and slapped some Decepticon stickers on it and voila instant Starscream.  The thing doesn’t transform of course which would absolutely insane but it finally provided fans with a Transformer character to scale with our G.I. Joe figures allowing us to bridge the two properties at play time…well display time.

I did not think Hasbro could top themselves.  I didn’t even expect them to try.  I figured the Joe/Transformer mash-up was a one time deal.  What could they do?  They could release an Optimus Prime truck to scale with the Joes but the Joes are an army and having a red civilian transport truck wouldn’t really make sense.  I should not have under estimated the Hasbro design team because a few months ago they revealed their 2012 SDCC exclusive, the Shockwave Hiss Tank.  Once again, I was floored.  This thing looked amazing and I knew I had to have one.  My friend Cal who owns the Strange Adventures comic books shops mentioned to me that he was planning on making the trip to San Diego and that he would make an effort to grab this and a couple of other exclusive items for me.  Well the Con came and went and Cal returned home empty handed due to some lame ticket raffle system they had set up in order to purchase the exclusives.  This sucked because I knew that meant I’d have to turn to ebay where I’d get totally bent over on shipping rates but what can you do.  I bit the bullet, threw down more cash than I would’ve liked and waited.  Luckily I didn’t have to wait too long.  Only a week after ordering it, this bad boy showed up at my door this past Friday.

This thing is killer.  First off there’s the box.  Like last years Starscream, Shockwave comes in a box that depicts the cover of a fictional comic book.  You see in the 80s there was a 4 issue mini series published by Marvel called G.I. Joe and the Transformers where the two groups first met.  The box for Starscream was designed to look like what issue 5 of that series might have looked like had it continued.  Shockwave’s box features the cover to a would be issue 6.  It features Destro, the cobra arms dealer riding a Purple Cobra Hiss tank with an army of B.A.T.s marching behind him.  In the background Shockwave, the Decepticons cold and calculating Lieutenant Commander looks on.  On the back of the package the toy is shown and all of it’s play features are pointed out.  In the background though there is a comic strip which explains how Destro and Shockwave came to work together.  It tells of Destro selling Shockwave a large stock of energon cubes and the blue prints to a Cobra Hiss Tank for a suitcase full of money.  Destro has his BATs load the energon for Shockwave.  While this exchange takes place, a small cassette recorder who is actually the Decepticon Soundwave looks on and records the events.

Onto the tank itself.  This is pretty much a straight repaint of the blue HISS tank released a little while ago as part of the G.I. Joe : Retaliation movie line.  That Hiss tank itself was pretty much a re-release of the brown HISS tank released in 2010 as part of the G.I. Joe : Rise of Cobra movie line.  A few major changes occurred to the toy between the release of the two movies though.  Most notably this newer version has done away with the working rubber treads of the 2010 model.  The body of the tank no longer  pops up into a spring loaded attack position and a large central canon has been added to the body of the tank instead of having just two side mounted canons.  Even though the working rubber tank treads were pretty cool I do prefer the newer 2012 model HISS tank that was used as a base for this Shockwave.

First off I need to talk about the colors of this thing.  I have HISS tanks in black, red, white, brown and blue but never before has there been a bright metallic purple one.  It looks amazing and it definitely stands out on a shelf full of other toys.  The shade of purple used and the fact that it has that metallic shine make it very reminiscent of the original Shockwave figure.  The side canons are cast in a translucent light purple plastic just as the original Shockwave’s laser hand was.  The large central canon (and this is sooo cool) is designed to look like the large laser canon that Shockwave transformed into in his alt. mode.  The cockpit glass is molded in the same translucent purple as the side canons which looks stellar.  One of the coolest nods to Shockwave on this thing is the cycloptic yellow eye at the front of the tank which is immediately recognizable as Shockwave’s face.  This thing is balls to the wall cool and you should go get one.

original Shockwave toy

I’ll probably talk more about the figures included with this set in more detail at another time in their own review but I’ll cover them quickly here so you see just how cool this set really is.  First there’s Destro decked out in a cool purple outfit which matches the tank nicely.  He comes with a bright green laser rifle.  He also comes with a purple briefcase that’s loaded full of bundles of cash.  The designers actually went through the trouble of painting the small bills to look like euros and American currency.  A great attention to detail.

Then there’s the Cobra BAT.  The BAT is decked out in some pretty bright purple and green which at first glance may seem kind of ridiculous.  However the colors are meant as a nod to the Deception team of Constructicons who were molded in these colors back in the 80s.  The Constructicons merged to become the first ever combiner Transformer, Devestator.  It’s a nifty little homage and it makes me hope for some bright green construction vehicles down the road.

There are some pretty rad accessories included in this set as well.  There’s is a wheeled cart containing 3 energon cubes that the BAT can lug around.  Energon cubes are the food of the Transformers.  The Starscream /Cobra Commander set of 2011 came with a pretty sweet accessory in the form of the Commanders pistol.  Trans fans would immediately know it as Megatron’s gun mode so in a way that set contained 3 characters and not just two.  Well this set has the 3 characters that I just mentioned but as accessories there is also a tape deck and 3 teeny tiny cassettes that represent Soundwave and 3 of his soldiers who were able to transform into these items bringing the total numbers of characters in this set to 7!  The reproduction of Soundwave is excellent, he looks just like the original.  He even has a slot where you can insert the little tapes.  Total awesome sauce.  Whether I score this thing as a complete set or for just the tank alone it would get a 10 out of 10 either way.

Starscream swoops in on the unsuspecting HISS squadron

The Complete Set

Soundwave can be worn as a backpack

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COLOSSUS

MARVEL UNIVERSE

Today in Halifax Nova Scotia its Gay Pride.  Technically it’s been Gay Pride week since last Sunday but today is the day that they held the parade and the concert and fireworks and all that jazz so I guess you could say today is the gayest and pride-iest  day of the week.  The parade grows every year and this year was no exception with what was the longest parade I think I’ve ever seen.  I’m very supportive of the LGBT community and I hope you are too.  I have friends that fall into each of those categories (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender) and my little brother is out and proud and awesome.  I read an article about Gay Pride Week in this weeks issue of The Coast (our free alternative newspaper) and it was pretty sad to read about how some people that marched in Halifax’s first Pride Parade 25 years ago had to wear bags over their heads so as not to get recognized and potentially fired from their jobs.  We’ve come along way from that Thankfully.  Seeing the large crowd that turned out for the parade today made me proud.  

To celebrate gay pride today I thought it might be nice to review a gay action figure.  Unfortunately I don’t think I have any.  There are many gay characters out there in comic books and pop culture and a few of them have been made into action figures but none of them have ended up in my collection.  There’s Batwoman for example who’s a lesbian, and there’s Hulkling from the Young Avengers both of whom have received the action figure treatment.  There’s Smithers from the Simpsons or Mr. Garrison from South Park who both have figures available as well but I don’t have them.  I don’t think that there are any gay G.I. Joes, at least no ones asking and no ones telling.  And I’m not sure Transformers have any sort of sexual identity at all so it’s hard to say with those guys.  If they  are sexual beings though I guarantee you that there a few of them that like to drive on the wrong side of the road, if you know what I’m saying.  98% of them are dudes after all. 

Ultimate/Gay Colossus

 

The closest thing I have to a gay action figure that I could think of is this guy, Colossus the metal skinned Russian member of the X-Men.  This is a bit of a cheat on my part because the Colossus figure pictured here is not actually gay.  This is the “real” Colossus who inhabits the Marvel Universe and is all about the ladies.  However Marvel also publishes a series of comic books that take place in an alternate universe called the Ultimate Universe.  In the Ultimate Universe many things are the same as they are in the regular Marvel Universe but a few minor and a few major things have been changed.  For example the Scorpion figure I reviewed a while back was from the Ultimate Universe and his backstory and costume is drastically different than the “real” Scorpion of the Marvel Universe.  Anyway, the Colossus of the Ultimate Universe is gay.  He looks pretty much the exact same in both universes except the Ultimate version wheres a black and yellow uniform instead of red and yellow one.  So it’s a bit of a stretch but I did sort of manage to find a gay character to review for gay pride week.

The figure is pretty awesome.  He’s big and tall like he should be; he stands about a head taller than most of the other figures in the line.  He’s wearing what I feel is his most iconic outfit which I appreciate.  I wouldn’t have bought the figure if he was wearing the stupid helmet that he wears in the comic books these days.  The face sculpt is great; he looks pissed.  The body sculpt is fantastic as well.  Each one of those lines on his skin is sculpted, not just painted on so you can feel them when you run your finger down his arm.  It’s an awesome figure and the folks at Hasbro who created him should be proud as well.  8 out of 10.

EVIL-LYN

MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS

As some of you know I now have a “mike’s collection” page on facebook.  Every time I post a new review I post a link on the wall of the facebook page so that all my followers will be notified on their newsfeed that there is a new post available for their reading pleasure.  If you’re a casual reader of this blog or have just stumbled across it accidentally I encourage you to “like” my facebook page so you too can start getting notifications about my latest posts.  There is a link in the margin of this page that will take you directly to the facebook page.  There you will find some pics of my collections as a whole rather than piece by piece in case you’re curious about what that looks like.  The reason I even mention this today is because a couple of days ago I reviewed the DC Direct figure of female Green Lantern Soranik Natu.  On the face book page I wrote something along the lines of “Today I have for you a sexy Green Lantern…” and I provided a link directly to the review of that figure.  Anyway my girlfriend teased me about calling the figure sexy.  That’s fine, I can take a little teasing.  However she’s brought it up jokingly two or three more times in the past couple of days and I’m starting to think that she may actually be jealous of the action figure.  And good boyfriend that I am, rather than reassure her that I only have eyes for her I’ve decided to review an even sexier action figure…Evil Lyn 

I’ve always had a thing for bad girls in the same way that girls tend to like bad boys.  Except most girls are content to date a guy with a tattoo and a motorcycle as if that qualifies him to be a bad boy.   Well that’s not good enough for me, I like my girls REALLY bad.  I’m talking about girls like Baroness, Zarana, Black Cat and Gail.  Those girls will break your heart, punch you in the face and then blow up a building.  Well one of pop culture’s baddest girls has got to be Evil-Lyn from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.  Evil is right there in her name.  Evil-Lyn was a great character who added a much needed female perspective to Skeletor’s evil warriors.   In the cartoon she was sly and sassy and tough.  She wore a kind of medieval  one piece bathing suit with boots and a crown plus she handled that magical rod of hers like a pro…what’s not to love.  When the original figure was released, for some strange reason Mattel decided to give her bright yellow skin which is not how she appeared in the cartoon series.  With it’s yellow skin, thick hips and gigantic legs the original Evil-Lyn looked more like one of Marge Simpson’s fugly older sisters than a seductive evil witch.  needless to say I passed on that toy as a kid. 

When MOTU was resurrected in 2002 Evil-Lyn finally got a more appropriately colored action figure.  The uniform was essentially the same but her skin was now  chalky white and her outfit a deep purple as opposed to shades of blue.  I thought it was a great improvement.  The 2002 cartoon also added a lot of depth and background to the character that we hadn’t seen before.  We got to meet her dad, see her without the crowned helmet and learn about how she came to be the magic user that she is today.  I was very excited to get the 2002 era figure of Evil-Lyn but unfortunately I never found it at retail and had to go without .  It wasn’t until the Four Horseman (the famous toy sculptors responsible for the look of the entire 2002 MOTU relaunch) decided to release small affordable statues of characters that were to scale with the action figures that I finally got my first ever Evil-Lyn collectable.  The statue may not have been posable but it did the trick. 

When the MOTU Classics figures first started coming out I didn’t pay too much attention to them.  It seemed a step backwards to me as I was quite enamoured with the modernized 2002 line.  I didn’t buy any of the early figures that came out, including this yellow skinned Evil-Lyn painted so garishly to stay true to the look of the original toy.  Luckily by the time I had decided to whole-heartedly collect the classics line a second version of Evil-Lyn was being released.  The second version featured the superior white skin/purple outfit color scheme and even better it came with a second head so you could display Evil-Lyn sans helmet.  I loved that figure and was super stoked to get her and display her with her lovely white hair flowing in the breeze.  That was all the Evil-Lyn I needed.  I had no intention of buying this sickly yellow one.

That is until my pal Andrew starting collecting MOTU Classics and he bought the yellow one.  I couldn’t let him get away with owning a figure that I didn’t have.  Conveniently the yellow version was rereleased on Mattycollector.com (the only place you can buy these figures) a couple of months later.  I ordered her and last month she arrived.  I gotta say…I was wrong about this figure.  I actually love it and possibly even prefer to the white skinned version.  I still love that the other version has an alternate head which works out well because I can continue to display that one helmetless while this one has no choice but to wear her helmet.  The yellow skin is so vibrant on this figure that it just pops out at you on the shelf.  The other version kind of gets lost in the crowd amongst similarly purple hued figures of which there are many.  I think the blues on the outfit provide a great dynamic contrast and I love the head sculpt.  I’ve been seeing the helmetless one on display for so long that I never really got to appreciate this crowned head.  This is one sexy action figure and I’m not afraid to say it.  That sneer on her face makes me think that she wants to hurt me…and I’d let her.  9 out of 10.

SHOCKING SHARK

BATTLE BEASTS

New Battle Beasts toys are coming out soon and I couldn’t be more excited about it.  They are one of the most under appreciated of all 80s toy lines.  I realize that every nerd has a favorite 80s property that they feel deserves more respect whether it be Bravestar, Crystar, Battle of the Plants, the Snorks or whatever.  Those nerds are welcome to their opinions but this is my blog and I say Battle Beasts rounds out the top 5 toy lines of the 80s along with G.I. Joe, Transformers, Star Wars and Masters of the Universe.  There were 88 unique figures to collect plus vehicles, playsets and accessories.  There was no cartoon to support the line so it didn’t last too long but it sure made an impact on me.  I love animals but had gotten over collecting little plastic zoo animals from dollar stores of which I had many.  Battle Beasts came along and merged my love of animals with my love of 80s action properties and nailed it.

I have all but one of the figures (that damn penguin) but I only ever had 1 vehicle and 1 playset even though there were 3 of each released.  I’m not sure why I never made an effort to hunt down the others but it would be a pricey endeavor these days.  Of the 3 Battle Chariots released I had the Big Horn which looked like a ram.  I didn’t have the deer or tiger looking chariots.  Having only the ram vehicle seemed appropriate because I had designated the Ram figure to be my bad guy leader so him having a fancy chariot to drive around in made sense. It would have been strange for the deer and tiger figures to have their own vehicles when they were just regular soldiers in my army.  As far as the headquarters go I had this one, the Shocking Shark which was intended to be the base of the water powered beasts.  I never acquired the Wood Beetle base (for the wood army) or the Flaming Phoenix base (for the fire army).  I wish I had the other two now but at the time when I got this, which I believe was a grading present, I didn’t have my own income so I got what my parents bought me.  I remember seeing all 3 bases in the store and being told to pick one. I chose the shark base over the other two for an obvious reason, this one is way f**king cooler.

Just look at this thing.  First off it’s a shark which is light years cooler than the bug and bird that the other playsets were based on.  In shark mode it’s basically a big nasty looking tank.  Multiple beasts can be stored inside while a lone sentry sits on top manning the double barreled canon.  When you open the shark up into headquarters mode in becomes this gnarly 2 story aquatic themed battle station.  The top level has a gated in watch tower and a small bridge where another beast can stand guard.  A waterfall pours down from the upper level down to the lower level (its actually a sticker but its very convincing).  Down below there are two platforms with cannons and up front there’s a giant claw which can trap attacking beasts.  Then there’s also a prison cell for POWs.  This thing is awesome.  It can hold about a dozen beasts and I used it as my good guy base.  (I had good guys and bad guys.  None of that water vs fire vs wood nonsense)  I absolutely loved the painted art found on the front of the package.  I cut it out and have kept it all these years.  If I could find a decent sized print of this image I would frame it.  

It’s not too late to jump on the Battle Beast bandwagon.  Go to bigbadtoystore (see the add on the margin of this page) and go pre-order the new figures under the name Beast Saga before they’re sold out.  This playset obviously gets a 10 out of 10.

THE VULTURE

MARVEL : SPIDER-MAN

The Vulture first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man issue 2 published in  1963.  Back in those days Stan Lee and Steve Ditko were creating an awesome new villain for Spidey to fight almost every single month.

Issue # 3 brought us Doctor Octopus

Issue # 4 brought us the Sandman

Issue # 6 brought us the Lizard

Issue # 9 brought us Electro

Issue # 13 brought us Mysterio

The list goes on.  Almost all of them were pure comic book gold and they live on to this day remaining a thorn in Spideys side 50 years later.   They’ve pretty much all had make overs throughout the years but they pretty much always end up back in their original duds from these classic stories.  For the past decade Doctor Octopus for example has been running around in a black trench coat or a gigantic metal cocoon but I feel very safe betting my first born child that we haven’t seen the last of him in green tights and yellow boots.  Eventually some writer and artist will get together and say lets do away with all this crap and get back to what made this character appealing in the first place.  Doc Ock is actually one of those original villains that really needed a make-over.  A Roy Orbison look-a-like dressed like a leprechaun never really appealed to me all that much in the first place.

Another classic villain which never much appealed to me was the Vulture.  This guy was old as hell when we first met him.  It seems to me that he should be long since dead by now.  In fact I’m quite certain that he’s been on his death bed many times over the years and yet he’s still kicking.  Yep, old Adrian Toomes just won’t go away.  The old coot with the liver spotted bald head and pin striped green pajamas with a feathery collar is a resilient ol bastard.  Marvel has tried to replace this guy with a cooler Vulture many times but nothing ever sticks.  I remember there was the Vulturions years ago, a whole gang of flying bad guys using stolen Toomes technology but they didn’t last.  A few years ago a new Vulture was introduced who wore red and spit acid or something out of his predator like mouth.  He’s fallen by the wayside as well and the geezery old Vulture remains.  There was one attempt many years ago to make the character a little more hip which I quite liked.  Rather than replacing Toomes entirely what they did was have him convert himself into a young man again by sucking the life out of an android posing as Spider-Mans long lost mom (oh comic books).  Once young, he had a full head of hair and he wore a new armored costume.  They actually repeated that comic story in the 90s animated cartoon and that’s what this figure is based on.  I really dug this new look.  The Vulture actually seemed like a threat for the first time ever and the suit was far cooler than any he had worn before.  Unfortunately young Vulture didn’t last very long at all and he was back to the withered old “classic” Vulture in no time at all.  It is rather odd that the only Vulture toy I own is of the young Vulture who only appeared in a couple of issues out of the Vultures half century of comic book appearances.  I am glad this version made it to plastic at least once though as I’m sure I have many crusty old Vulture toys in my future.  

The toy itself is alright.  He’s kind of stiff looking and the really large V neck is pretty gay.  His head doesn’t seem to sit on his torso very naturally as his neck is almost non existent.  It’s a decent likeness but Toy Biz coulda done better than this.  4 out of 10.

SORANIK NATU

DC DIRECT : GREEN LANTERN

I apologize True Believers for my extended absence.  It has been a solid 5 days since I’ve posted anything which is my longest break from posting since starting this blog 7 months ago.  I’ve tried very hard to maintain a daily or at least every second-day  (bi-daily?) posting schedule to make sure you guys keep coming back for more new content.  I have no excuse for the past week other than to say I was on vacation and had better things to do.   Sorry about that.

I shall make it up to you today by reviewing a figure of one of my favorite Green Lanterns: Soranik Natu.  I’m sure some of you might be wondering who this is.  Some of you may even be wondering what I mean by “one of” my favorite Green Lanterns.  Unless you’re a comic nerd you most likely didn’t know there was more than one Green Lantern, well at least not until you saw that shitty Ryan Reynolds movie.  As you saw in the film there are actually thousands of Green Lanterns.  Enough to protect the 3600 charted sectors of space in pairs.  Soranik is the Green Lantern of sector 1417, the sector that contains her home planet of Korugar.  Hal Jordan, the most popular Lantern and the one played by Reynolds is the Green Lantern of  sector 2814 which contains Earth if you were curious.

The Green Lantern Corps had existed for millions of years before they recruited Hal Jordan into their ranks.  The Green Lantern Corps consists of aliens, from countless planets, whom all share the trait of strength of will.  Will power is what powers their green rings.   When a Lantern dies the ring finds a worthy successor to take their place.  Hal inherited his ring from the the deceased alien Abin Sur.  Jordan became the greatest Lantern of all time.  That is until he went crazy and killed nearly every last one of the other Corps members.  That particular story line from 1994 ended with Hal’s death.  After that clusterf**k there was only one lone Green Lantern left to patrol the entire universe, Kyle Rayner.  Kyle held his own for 10 years before DC Comics decided to resurrect Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps.  This task was given to a young comic book super scribe Geoff Johns.  In 2004 he wrote a mini series called Green Lantern: Rebirth which brought Hal back to life and explained away his temporary madness and murder spree by explaining how he had been possessed by an evil cosmic entity named Parallax at the time.

I still wasn’t reading Green Lantern yet at that point.  I never much cared for the character, neither Hal or Kyle.  Hal’s resurrection did little to excite me but I did hear through the nerd grapevine how well it was executed.  Then I heard how well Johns reshaped Hal’s origin, and then how he made a truly frightening foe out of Sinestro a pink skinned villain who I always thought was goofy, and then how he created a new evil yellow corps for Sinestro to control which went to war against the Green Lanterns, and then how he created the super cool Red Lanterns, and then how….and I was like enough already!!  I’m tired of hearing about it.  Okay, I’ll read the damn book.  And so I did.  I was immediately converted.  I became a huge Green Lantern fan and a huge Geoff Johns fan as well.  That guy worked miracles to not just resurrect Hal Jordan but the entire Lantern franchise.  Spin off books soon followed including a book called The Green Lantern Corps which gave the other Lanterns (pardon the pun) a chance to shine.  This book starred old GL mainstays like Killowog and Guy Gardner but also introduced us to a bunch of fresh new characters like Isamot Kol and Soranik Natu.  Natu was a surgeon on Korugar and was reluctant to accept the ring because of how poorly her father Sinestro handled things.  She eventually accepted and now divides her time as a surgeon, a Lantern and as Kyle Rayner’s girlfriend.

I think I’ve rambled a little too long and am starting to sound like a wikipedia page so let’s just jump to the figure review shall we.  There’s nothing outstanding about the figure but I think it’s pretty darn good and I’m just happy to have it. I’ve become a fan of many of the B-list Lanterns and am always happy to see one get the action figure treatment.  An issue I have with this figure is that its a little static looking.  She’s especially stiff in the legs.  She has ball jointed shoulders at least so her arms move pretty well.  Her face sculpt is quite nice but she looks pretty pissed off.  With the sour puss and rigid body she definitely looks like the party pooper of my DC shelf.  She comes with a nice translucent green display base with the GL logo and she has a lantern accessory.  I love the metallic green paint used on this figure and I appreciate that DC direct has used it across the entire GL line so that all the Green Lanterns appear to be on the same team.  There’s nothing worse than a bunch of Lanterns in 6 different shades of green.  I say go pick her up, and if you don’t want to I’d say go read the Green Lantern Corps books and then you will want to. 7 out of 10.

AGENT FACES v2

G.I. JOE

A few posts ago I reviewed Chuckles, the Joe team’s go-to under cover agent.  Well today I’m covering their other top-secret infiltrator, Agent Faces.  Faces is a master impersonator with an uncanny ability to mimic any subject after only a few minutes of observation. The character was created to basically be the Joe’s answer to Cobra’s Zartan.  The first version of Faces was released in 2003 during the new sculpt era in a 2-pack with his Cobra counterpart.  In was a cool pairing, Zartan came with two masks to allow him to impersonate high ranking Joes and Faces came with two masks enabling him to impersonate members of Cobra’s inner circle.  I  passed on that pack though for a few reasons.  One:  I never saw it anywhere.  I could’ve ordered it off ebay if I really wanted it but chose not to.  Had I seen it in a store I may have caved.  Two:  I already had a Zartan figure pretty much identical to the one included in the 2-pack.  And Three:  A more intriguing Faces figure was released almost immediately afterwards.

Version One. pic lifted from yojoe.com

 

 

 

 

The original Faces was rather bland looking.  His outfit was boring and it highlighted the proportion issues with the figure.  It looked like he was wearing a mini half jacket which is in no way cool.  The one thing I did like about the figure was his head sculpt.  He had a unique face with black hair brushed forward and flat, a look that could have been the result of wearing latex masks all day.  He also had a full goatee, a facial hair choice not too many Joes have gone with.  The second version of Agent Faces was released as a mail-away exclusive.  I’m unsure of the details on how you ordered this guy from Hasbro as that’s not the way I got mine.  I scored this guy on ebay as I did most of my new sculpt era Joes.  This version has Faces in a Crimson Guard uniform as he was seen wearing in the computer animated Spy Troops movie.  The Crimson Guard are one of Cobra’s most iconic and recognizable troopers.  The first Crimson Guard was released in 1985 and they have been released 14 times since.  They are known as Cobra’s elite troopers and ironically enough they specialize in undercover operations.

This version of Agent Faces avoids all the body issues of the original by simply using the body of the already released Crimson Guard figure.  It makes sense that Hasbro would go this route because if you want this guy to blend in undetected amongst the other Crimson Guards why would you give him a uniform thats any different than theirs?  The only thing really differentiating this figure from the standard Crimson Guard figure is the head.  It features Agent Faces goatee’d flat haired face but comes with a Crimson Guard helmet allowing him to complete his disguise.  With his helmet on and with his shotgun in hand he’s nearly undetectable in a crowd of Crimson Guardsmen. 

One odd choice they made with this figure was instead of using the unique head of version one, they painted black hair and a black goatee on a Duke head for this second version.  It doesn’t look bad but still seems like a strange decision.  I assume this head fit the CG helmet better. 

I think this is a pretty cool figure.  It provides you with an under cover Joe agent or if you want to slap on his helmet you can simply use him as another Crimson Guard army builder.  I find it unlikely that we’ll receive a modern sculpt version of Agent Faces anytime soon so enjoy this one, one of the good but forgotten new characters introduced during the new sculpt days.  7 out of 10.

Yes, I realize he’s easily detectable here but to be fair I’ve displayed him with modern sculpt Crimson Guards. He blends in perfectly with Crimson Guards of his era.

PETER PARKER: SPIDER-MAN

MARVEL : SPIDER-MAN THE MOVIE

I have a little bit of time to kill before a two hour block of Chef Ramsey cooking shows consumes my evening so I figured I’d throw up a quick review.  Amazing Spider-Man disappointingly fell out of the number one box office spot this past weekend, being surpassed by the fourth film in the Ice Age franchise.  Spidey still pulled in good numbers to come in second but it does come as a surprise that Spider-Man was only able to hang onto the top spot for it’s debut weekend.  Spidey’s teammates The Avengers held the number one spot for 3 solid weeks earlier this summer.  I’m not sure how high Amazing Spider-Man will rank by the end of the summer but I hope it is not regarded as a failure.  Even though I didn’t absolutely love it I would like to see the franchise continue on without another senseless reboot.

Box office drop aside, it seems likely that we’ll get a sequel starring the same cast because overall the reviews for Amazing Spider-Man have been positive.  Most people I know either liked it or loved it.  Almost everyone I talk to seems to agree that it’s superior to the past 3 films if nothing else.  A lot of people tend to bash the Tobey Maguire films nowadays and some criticisms are definitely justified but overall I still really enjoy those films.  Yes, even number 3.  Rotton Tomatoes currently has the films ranked as follows: Spider-Man  89%, Spider-Man 2  93%,  Spider-Man 3  63%, Amazing Spider-Man 74% so I guess I’m not the only one who still likes bit of corny fun. 

This figure is based on the first Spider-Man movie starring Tobey Maguire.  This is my favorite figure from that line.  I also have a Spider-Man in his standard costume which is fine but nothing special;  plus a movie version Green Goblin as portrayed by Willem Dafoe.   The Goblin figure is a good representation of what was an absolutely terrible costume.  The line also produced a really nice figure of Peter Parker in his civilian clothes which I love.  I would award best figure in the line to this figure because it is the best of three worlds.  It works as a Peter figure, a rookie Spider-Man and a veteran Spider-Man.  It covers all stages of the characters evolution through the entire film.

First off there’s Peter.  This figure has a stellar face sculpt which is immediately recognizable as Tobey in the forlorn role of Peter Parker.  The clothes obviously don’t work great as a strictly Peter figure but that’s why you go buy the civilian Peter figure I mentioned earlier.  This figure includes an excellently constructed rubber mask that fits perfectly over Peter’s face to recreate his look from the amateur wrestling scenes in the movie.  The paint job on the rubber sweater looks pretty close to what we see in the film.  Next up you can actually peel off the sweatshirt and jogging pants and underneath is a fully clothed Spider-Man costume.  This provides you with a rare but desirable unmasked Spidey.  As cool as that is fortunately the toy comes with a second rubber mask which covers Peter’s entire head creating a perfect standard Spider-Man figure.

So regardless of what you feel about the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man films I don’t think that you can dispute that the movies provided us with some excellent action figures. 9 out of 10.

PLATYPUS

NATURE

So today marks the end of my first week of vacation.  It’s been nice not going into work but I really haven’t done a whole lot.  It’s true that I’ve made some headway on my screenplay as was the goal but the weather has been beautiful the entire time and I’ve been wanting to go outside and do something summery before the vacation ends.  So today Vanessa and I decided to take a walk along the Halifax waterfront, seemed a nice cheap way to get outside and soak up some sun.  For those of you not from Halifax, it’s a port city with a very nice and often bustling waterfront.  The annual Jazz festival just wrapped up there yesterday and the Busker festival will be kicking off soon enough.  It’s the place all the tourists go  so there’s lots of little things to see and do around this time of the year.

On our walk down there we made a couple stops in some shops that we don’t visit very often.  First we popped into the discovery center, a science based museum/attraction.  I’ve never been in there so I’m not exactly sure what it is but they do have a store front when you first walk in that sells science related toys.  There was rubber dinosaurs and sea-monkeys and models of the human anatomy and other things like that.  One of the stranger things they’ve got is googly-eyed plush characters of various diseases and micro-organisms.  I’ve actually seen these before but this was the first time I’d seen HPV.  Selling a cute plushy STD to a kid just seems weird to me but what do I know.

Next we went to the Freak Lunchbox.  This place is a Halifax fixture that sells a variety of retro toys and candy.  It’s pretty cool and always busy.  I often have to resist the urge to buy over-priced tin robots and Jesus Christ action figures.  I managed to resist buying anything today as well but the temptation was there.  Lastly we popped into an antiques store that we’ve passed by a number of times and have been meaning to check out but it’s always been closed when we were happening by before.  Vanessa found some cool old furniture and books but I was stoked to find a box full of toys.  Most of them were junk but at the bottom of the box, beyond the dinky cars and happy meal toys I found this Platypus figure.  There were plenty of other plastic animals in the box, the type you buy in plastic bags at the dollar store but this was the only guy in the box with articulation.  His legs, tail and head all move making this guy officially an action figure.  Platypuses are a personal favorite of mine so I scooped him up.  Buddy charged me a mere dollar for this delightful little aquatic rascal which I thought was quite fair.  So Vanessa and I spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying a stroll on the boardwalk eating hotdogs which was great but it was all the better because I had a new action figure in my pocket.

I have no idea about the origins of this toy, it could actually be a happy meal toy for all I know but it seems too detailed for that.  It is a great little toy with some nice paint apps and detailed sculpting.  Normally this guy would be an easy winner for the best dollar I’ve spent all week but he’s got stiff competition from the Esso Robot Racers I scored at Giant Robot Comicson Wednesday.  Let’s call it a tie.  6 out of 10.

How could you not love this face?

JUGGERNAUT

ULTIMA ONLINE

When McFarlane Toys first started making action figures they focused mostly on Spawn figures.  Makes sense since Todd McFarlane created both Spawn and the toy company.  After  he had mastered his craft with his own creations he expanded into doing a variety of licensed toy lines.  McFarlane toys produced figures for properties such as The Simpsons, Danger Girl, Movie Maniacs, Sleepy Hollow, Austin Powers, and they did a variety of original lines as well.  One of the licensed properties they took a stab at was Ultima Online, an apparently very popular Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game or MMORPG.  I may be a comic nerd and a toy nerd and a movie nerd and probably a few other types but one thing I’m not is a gaming nerd.  I never got into it.  I remember early role playing games like Dungeons and Dragons from my youth but they never held any appeal to me.  I even had a Marvel Universe role playing game but could never be bothered to learn how to play it.  It amazes me how popular they are to this day.  I can’t go into most of my local comic shops without fighting my way through a crowd of geeks salivating over the latest Magic cards.  To each their own I guess.

McFarlane released 6 figures based on Ultima Online in 2002.  Normally these things wouldn’t be on my radar but I am a toy collector and a cool toy is a cool toy.  I didn’t care for the other 5 figures but this guy caught my eye when he showed up the comic store shelves.  He didn’t look like any other toy I had and so I had to have him.

I have no idea at all about the source material that he’s based on so I can’t talk much about that.  I did google him before writing this to see what his video game counter-part actually looked like and I gotta say the McFarlane guys did a pretty good job on this figure.  The colors and proportions are right on but the details are amped on the action figure.  The face is super creepy with a mummified look to it.  The paint apps make him appear old and rusty  just like the video game version.  There’s a ton of wires and hoses on the figure as well which helps to sell this creature as something that could actually exist in a real world.  Things like the wire grill on his shoulder mounted light show the McFarlane sculptors attention to even the tiniest detail.  One downside of this figure is that because his bottom half is a giant wheel he doesn’t stand up straight on his own.  There was a small clear plastic “crutch” included with him to make him easier to display but I find it falls out of place fairly easily and the figure ends up on his side.  7 out of 10.