Monthly Archives: December 2012

TOP 12 ACTION FIGURES OF 2012

So 2012 is drawing to a close.  That means it’s time for me to compile my annual top ten lists.  I don’t care if nobody asked for them, I like to make lists.  At the end of each year I always post my top 10 favorite movies and albums of the year on my personal facebook page.  They usually tend to spark conversations and I love talking movies and music with folks.  One year I posted a top ten list of my favorite comic book series’ but that didn’t get much attention because so few people really cared or even read comics.  For this same reason I never would’ve attempted a top ten action figure list before because most people in my “real life” don’t care about such things.  However since I started this blog a year ago I have attracted readers from all over the globe who share my love of small plastic men so I thought this would be the prefect place to compile and post a top ten action figure list.  before I begin I should explain that I have some strict criteria when it comes to my lists.  Only figures released in 2012 are eligible.  If I was ranking toys that I received in 2012 then Cobra De Aco, Rancor and Invid would top my list.  However since those all toys were released in prior years they are not eligible.  Also I should have started from the bottom of the list and worked up to to my number 1 but I realized too late that I slapped this banner image together in the opposite order and now I don’t feel like fixing it so we’ll be starting with my favorite figure of 2012.  The blurbs will be brief but each one will contain a link to the full review if you want more details.  Lastly, because I had such a hard time narrowing it down to ten choices I cheated and opted to go with my top 12 of 2012.  So here goes…

2012 top 12My number 1 pick of 2012 is Bombshell.  Bombshell is one of the Insecticons, a faction of the Decepticons.  I myself am surprised to have a Transformer top my list but I loved this figure from the moment I first saw images of it online and it was even cooler once I had it in my hands.  This figure is actually not a licensed Hasbro Transformer but rather a third-party “homage” made by FansProject and it’s technically called Stormbomb for legal reasons.  This thing looks amazing.  The sculpting is killer, the colors are vivid and the real chain on the weapon is wicked cool.  I showcased this figure on my facebook page to make sure people took notice of it.  Just awesome.

My number 2 pick is the Shockwave HISS tank which was a San Diego Comic Con exclusive.  Last year SDCC released a Joe Skystriker painted to look like Starscream which I thought couldn’t be outdone but then this year they combined my favorite Transfomer with my favorite Joe vehicle, added a ton of cool figures and accessories and totally blew Starscream out of the water.  Only reason it isn’t #1 is because it’s still technically a vehicle and no matter how cool it is, a vehicle can’t trump an action figure.

My number 3 pick is Storm Shadow which is shocking to me.  I like Storm Shadow as much as the next guy but he’s been done to death; I own dozens of figures of this guy.  But that’s what makes this figure so great.  Despite all that has come before this figure still feels fresh and cool.  This is my favorite Storm Shadow figure ever released.  The sculpting is superb, the minimal paint apps add just enough color to keep it from being bland and it just looks cool as all hell.

My number 4 pick is another Joe ninja and another San Diego exclusive, Jinx.  Jinx was one of my favorite Joe characters and it seemed an absolute crime that she was not included in the 25th anniversary figure line.  Personally I though Jinx and Zarana were the greatest omissions from the modern Joe line.  Luckily I have both of those figures now thanks to the SDCC.  This figure looks amazing and much more feminine than the original 80s figure.  I love it and I’m tempted to open my sealed figure every time I look at it.

My number 5 pick is Leonardo of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  The turtles have come back in a big way this past year and my nephews are all really into them which is kind of cool.  I usually hate when they redesign properties from my youth to make them more appealing to modern audiences but in this case I love the new look of the turtles.  I think they look better than ever.  And the toys are vastly superior to the ones I had in the 80s.  The range of movement and the detailed sculpting is excellent.  Any of the turtles could’ve made my list but Leo has always been my favorite.

My number 6 pick is one of the Outer Spacemen, Xodiac.  It was a little tough placing this guy on my list because I don’t have any real attachment to the character and including him meant bumping characters like Cobra Commander, whom I love, off of the list.  But a list full of G.I. Joes would’ve been kind of boring and I just love how different the Outer Space Men are from anything else I collect.  With their day-glow colors and clear plastic weapons and helmets they almost look like candy.  They just look like so much fun and their lack of a back story makes my imagination fill in the blanks.  I would’ve loved these figures when I was a kid.

I’m cheating for my number 7 spot by including two figures.  The Black Spy and the White Spy of Spy vs Spy from MAD Magazine.  I’ve never really been a fan of MAD but I loved Spy vs Spy.  It was the video games I had on my Commodore 64 though that really endeared these characters to me.  I think when Doug and I played the games we probably always used the same color spy every time but I can’t recall which one was assigned to me and therefore I can’t pick one over the other as a favorite.  They came together in one box with a bunch of accessories and alternate hands.  These figures are big, durable and look great on my shelf.  Super cool.

At number 8 I’ve chosen Saga Turtle.  This was probably the hardest pick I had to make.  Regular readers know that I love the Beast Saga line by Takara.  I received my first shipment a couple of months ago and new ones keep pouring in.  They’re all great.  I previously told you that Saga Finch was my favorite and he probably still is but I don’t think he’s the most representative of why this new toy line is so cool. I opted to include Turtle because he’s got it all.  He’s cute, he looks likes a badass, he’s got great detailed sculpting, and impressive paint applications.  It’s a turtle in a general’s hat.  How can you not love this thing?

My number 9 pick is Bruticus.  This guy may look familiar to you because I just reviewed him yesterday.  Of all the figures on this list I realize his head shot looks the most boring.  To really appreciate this figure you need to see his whole body.  Bruticus is a Transformer Combiner which means he’s constructed of 5 smaller Transformers, in his case the Combaticons.  While I found some of the individual Combaticon figures disappointing the sum of their parts makes for a really cool mega-figure.

My number 10 pick is Kraven the Hunter.  This is another one that comes as a surprise to even me.  Marvel Universe is probably my second largest collection after G.I. Joe and I’ve gotten lots of new Marvel figures in 2012.  I’ve gotten so many great characters but unfortunately the quality of the toys is hit and miss.  After looking at all the Marvel figures I got this year it turned out that Kraven was my favorite for a couple of reasons. He’s built well and free of the awkward joints that plague some of the other figures.  The sculpt is excellent with some really nice detailing like on his vest.  The paint apps are really well done and he has accessories which is a rarity in the line.  It’s a great looking figure.

I love every single Master of the Universe figure that arrives in the mail.  The sculpting, painting, accessories and articulation is always great.  I could have included almost any MOTU figure from 2012 on this list but I’ve chosen to go with Drageo-Man.   How could I not include the dragon man on my list?   This is a brand new character created in 2012 and he is just so damn cool.  All the things I mentioned (sculpt, paint, accessories, articulation) are very well done on this figure.  My hat is off to the sculptors for this guy’s design.  The head is menacing and he has a very impressive wing span and he didn’t cost any more than a standard figure.  Love it.

The last spot on the list is a tough one.  So many great toys to choose from.  I’ll probably not agree with this pick when I look back at this list at a later date but as of right now I’m going with Wheelie.  Wheelie is the most annoying Transformer character ever created and that is partly why I had to include him here.  Hasbro took a god awful character who had a god awful toy in the 80s and transformed him into a very cool action figure.  I like this toy for a variety of reasons but it’s greatest accomplishment is making me like Wheelie.  It can be tough to sculpt some personality into a little plastic face but Wheelie’s got loads of it.  His little smirk seems to say that he’s in on the joke, he knows how much he sucks but he doesn’t care.  You gotta respect that.

So there you have it, my top 12 of 2012.  Do you agree? Disagree?  let me know in the comments section.  There were so many great toys released this year that I could have probably made a top ten list of each individual toy line.  Including only a single figure from lines such as Beast Saga, Marvel Universe and Masters of he Universe Classics was not an easy thing to do.  There were so many runners-up such as Cobra Commander and the Red Ninjas, Hulk and Beta Ray Bill, Stinkor and the Snake Men, Saga Finch and Saga Bat,  Atrocitus, Frankenstein and many more.  Plus there was a slew of great 2012 toys that I won’t be able to buy until 2013.  Well I hope that you enjoyed the list.  See ya next year.

BRUTICUS

TF-Bruticus fullTRANSFORMERS: GENERATIONS

TF-Bruticus artVanessa safely returned to me two nights ago after being away with her family for nearly a week.  When she arrived I was finally able to open my Christmas presents from her which had been wrapped and sitting under our tree for weeks.  I had provided her with a short list of options when she asked me which toys I would like.  One of the suggestions I gave her was a pair of recently released Transformers, Swindle and Brawl.  Those guys are just two of the five Combaticons which can be merged together to form the giant Decepticon Bruticus.  I could have asked her for all 5 but they were selling for about $20 to $25 a piece online plus shipping and I didn’t want to only give her really expensive options.  A few of the other things on my list were pricier so I figured two Combaticons would give her a relatively cheap gift option at around $50.TF-Bruticus face

When the Combaticons were first released in 1986 it was Doug who owned all 5 figures.  These “combiner” Transformers were all the rage at the time.  Doug also owned the Stunticons which formed Menasor and the Aerialbots which formed Superion.  While I owned the Constructicons which formed Devestator and the Protectobots which formed Defensor.  We also had incomplete teams of Predacons, Technobots, Terrorcons and a few others.  Each of these combiners were made up of 5 or 6 smaller Transformers that merged into 1 larger robot.  The majority of the sets were made up of 5 robots with 1 medium sized leader who formed the torso and 4 smaller Transformers who formed the limbs.  There was usually an overall theme such as the Aerialbots being made up completely of airplanes or the Protectobots being made up entirely of rescue vehicles.  The Combaticons which formed Bruticus were, as there name suggests, made up of combat vehicles.  There was Swindle the jeep, Brawl the tank, Vortex the helicopter, Blast Off the rocket and Onslaught the truck who was their leader.  The truck and rocket might be a bit of a stretch but they were heavily armed.TF-Bruticus animated2

Of all the Combaticons it was Swindle who had the most personality.  Swindle was described as a capitalist first and a Decepticon second. He’s a con-man and an opportunistic hustler who’s always making shady deals.  This assigned personality made him far more interesting a character than any of the other Combaticons.  This is why when I first saw that these new versions of the  Combaticons were being released I decided to only buy Swindle.  I wanted them all of course but the problem with owning them all is that I would want to display them as Bruticus which would make Swindle, a favorite character of mine, into nothing more than a leg.  My only other option then would be to buy them twice and that was far too pricey an undertaking.

1986 original

1986 original

I hardly ever play video games but I will purchase them from time to time.  The last one I bought was Transformers: War for Cybertron.  I bought it the day it came out but after about an hour of gameplay I was bored of it and never played it again.  Well a couple of months ago I threw it in the ol’ PS3 and decided to give it another try.  You have the option to either play an Autobot campaign, which is what I did the first time, or a Decepticon campaign which I had never tried.  I went with the Decepticons this time and was surprised to see that of the 2 or 3 playable characters available to me Brawl the Combaticon tank was one of them.  He’s hardly an A-list character so it seemed like an odd choice to me but he’s who I opted to play with that day.  Again, after about an hour I lost all interest and turned it off.  However that hour I spent in Brawl’s skin gave me a new appreciation for the character and I decided that I must purchase his new toy as well.

Loved this cover of Bruticus smacking Defensor with a train despite the lazy color job.

Loved this cover of Bruticus smacking Defensor with a train despite the lazy color job.

 

So Swindle and Brawl were on my “to buy” list but I hadn’t pulled the trigger yet because I hadn’t fully convinced myself that I didn’t need the other 3 Combaticons.  If I were to order all 5 at once it would be cheaper than ordering just these 2 and then deciding to order the other 3 later.  I was perplexed.  And so when Vanessa asked for my Christmas list I explained the situation.  Getting all of them would be cool but just Swindle and Brawl would suffice.TF-Bruticus aim

Great girlfriend that she is, she got me all 5.  And it was a nice surprise.  I expected her to either get me just the two Combaticons I had asked for or for her to pick something else entirely off of my list.  I think this was probably my most Transformers heavy Christmas of all time considering I had purchased Wheelie, Ratchet, Ultra Magnus and Sideswipe for myself;  that’s 9 frig’n Transformers in total.  I also want to quickly mention that Vanessa also bought me a portable photography studio set complete with tent, lights, tripod and carrying case.  It was very sweet and hopefully you will see an improvement in my photography because of it.  I’m still getting used to it though so don’t look for any vast improvements in these photos here.Photo Studio

So how is the figure?  Well let me tell you.  First off I will say that of the 5 individual figures my least favorites are Swindle and Brawl.  If I had ordered those 2 I would not have gone back and ordered the other 3.  I won’t go into why right now as those toys will receive their own reviews later but I was disappointed with them.  The other 3 figures are all pretty cool though, Vortex the chopper is probably my favorite.  This Bruticus set is available in 3 colors.  There’s the one I have which is pretty close to the original’s colors.  Swindle is yellow/brown, Brawl is green and Onslaught is blue.  His arms are much more colorful this time around with Votex being red and Blast Off being Purple but I kind of like the change though it does make him look less military.  There is another version available in Generation 2 colors which I think looks awful (yellow Onslaught and red Swindle, ick) and yet another version available in San Diego Comic-Con exclusive colors which looks pretty cool.  Of the 3 versions I like mine the best.

G2 colors

G2 colors

SDCC colors

SDCC colors

Bruticus is one of those Generation 1 Transformers that I remember fondly but to go back and look at the toy now he looks kinda stupid.  He’s really not all that big and he actually looks pretty blocky which makes sense considering how blocky the original individual Combaticons were.  This new version retains all of the most iconic elements of Bruticus while making some drastic changes at the same time.  His head is similar, he has the double gun turrets on his back, his chest and crotch plate retains the same basic shape and his component pieces all attach in the same places which allows him to keep the same design elements like a tank turret on his knee and a helicopter blade on his shoulder.TF-Bruticus size compare

I found the individual Combaticon toys to feel very fragile and kind of cheap.  I was actually worried about breaking them while I was transforming them.  I was worried their combined form of Bruticus would be of similar quality but combined they actually form a pretty sold robot.  He’s much more posable than the original was and he doesn’t just crumble apart as I feared he would.  The limbs attach firmly and the legs provide a pretty solid standing base.  When I first saw pictures of this toy I thought he looked kind of lanky but after looking back at the original toy I prefer lanky to stumpy.  The longer limbs help to give Bruticus some real height too so he actually looks like a giant amongst my Transformers toys.   I posted of picture of Bruticus standing next to Ratchet so that you can see just how tall he really is.   I have chosen to display the Combaticons as Bruticus rather than as individuals because I find the combined form is much sturdier and impressive looking.  A pretty damn cool toy.

9 out of 10.TF-Combaticons

 

STRATO-VIPER / AIR-VIPER v3

Joe-Strato Viper fullG.I. JOE : THE RISE OF COBRA

I still have all kinds of new Christmas toys to review and this is sort of one of them.  I ordered this guy myself and gifted him to myself a few days before Christmas.  He is one of the many new/old figures that arrived along with the Sgt. Stone that I recently reviewed.  I say new/old because he’s new to me but all of the figures I ordered in that shipment were at least a couple of years old, some of them were even 20 years old.  Just like Sgt. Stone this figure was released in 2009 as part of the Rise of Cobra movie related toy line.  On the box they call him Air Viper but I can’t help but refer to him as Strato-Viper as that is what these Cobra pilots were originally called in the 80s.  The original Strato-Viper was released in 1986 and was included as a pilot to the Cobra Night Raven stealth jet.  He looked just like this except he was painted red and black.  For whatever reason when Hasbro released their first modern version of Strato-Viper they called him Air-Viper.  Air Vipers did exist in the Cobra ranks before but they never looked like this.  I’m not sure why the change was made but it doesn’t really matter, both sound fine, and the figure is super cool.Joe-Strato Viper Raven

This version of Strato-Viper (or Air Viper version 3 if you rather) was packaged with a modern day version of the ’86 Night Raven.  It’s a wicked cool vehicle which I have never owned personally; Doug owned it when we were kids.  It’s one of the few vehicles that I would actually like to add to my collection but it’s just too big and I don’t have the room and so I passed on it when it was readily available in 2009.  That didn’t change the fact though that I  still wanted the included Strato-Viper who had been repainted in a new color scheme.  He wasn’t exactly a high priority purchase though as I already had a couple of modern Strato-Vipers in their classic colors so I simply put this guy on my “eventually” list.Joe-Strato Viper face

Well it took 3 years for me to find one cheap enough to bother picking up but I finally scored this guy loose for only a couple of bucks.  I don’t have his jet and he never came with any weapons to begin with so just the figure is all I have and that’s all I need.  I have plenty of guns laying around should I choose to arm this gentleman.  There’s really not much to say about this figure that I didn’t already cover in my last review.  He looks great and he really captures the look of the original.  The only thing new about him is the paint job.  I have this figure in 3 different colors now, the classic black with red, the reverse red with black, and now this black and silver.  I quite like them all but I still prefer the original.  This guy’s silver paint job oddly makes him more realistic looking and more science-fiction looking at the same time.  I think it’s the blue-ish silver used on his goggles that give off an alien kinda vibe.  The addition of that bit of blue and the red on his goggles really give this figure just enough flare to keep it from being boring.  The black and silver color scheme is more subdued than the other versions but it allows him to blend in nicely with other movie based characters like the Neo-Vipers.  I wish all repaints came out this good.  7 out of 10.Joe-Strato Vipers

INVID SHOCK TROOPER

Robo-Invid fullROBOTECH

So Christmas has come and gone.  I had to take a few days off as I was busy with family stuff.  But now that all of that is done I can begin reviewing my new toys.  I had a pretty big toy haul this Christmas but most of that was stuff I bought for myself.  If I was to get any surprise toy gifts I knew they’d come from either Vanessa or my brother Doug.  Vanessa has actually been away at her parents place for the past 5 days and we have yet to exchange gifts.  Her presents to me are still sitting under the tree taunting me.  I expect her home later tonight though so by tomorrow I should be able to tell you about whatever she may have picked up for me.  Doug however came through with flying colors.  I bought him the recently released “Rockers” tag team wrestling figures as well as one of Marvel’s Oz hard cover collections.  I thought I did well but those gifts fell flat in the face of Doug’s gifts to me.  First off he bought me a Spider-Man hoodie that zips right up over my face to produce a fully masked look.  It’s pretty cool but this is not a sweater review site so I shall move onto his second gift to me.Robo-Invid front

As a great brother would do (no offense Brian) Doug made note of my list of “white whale” figures that I think I mentioned in my Rancor review.  The rancor was one of those toys that I had wanted ever since I was a little kid but just never acquired, probably in part because of the price tag attached.  All of my most-wanted figures were of larger creatures from films and TV.  While it was easy and affordable for my parents to stock me up with Star Wars and Robotech action figures, the larger items were a bit more of a challenge.  And so I never got my Rancor from Star Wars, or my Kraken from Clash of the Titans, or my Invid Shock Trooper from Robotech.  Robotech toys were near impossible to find in my area when I was a kid anyway so that was probably another big reason why I never owned this thing. Robo-Invid back

When I finally got my Rancor at Hal-Con this year I promptly reviewed it.  In that review I stated that I could check it off my “white whale ” list, leaving the Kraken and the Invid as the next two items for me to hunt down.  And so Doug began looking.  He told me that the only Kraken he found was $300 so that was out of the question.  I’m not sure how much he paid for this Shock Trooper but I look them up regularly on ebay and haven’t yet come across one in decent condition for less than $125.  So when I opened this thing up Christmas morning I was more than a little surprised.  It was not expected at all.  I felt like a kid again.  Thanks Doug.Robo-Invid toon

So why did I want this toy so bad for so long?  Well just look at it, it’s a giant purple robot crab.  What more could you possibly need?Robo-Invid underbelly

Growing up me and Doug watched Robotech religiously and absolutely loved it.  It was like a soap opera for kids and far more mature than anything else we were watching.  The show had love, death, and even transexuals.  Robotech was broken down into 3 distinct chapters, each focusing on a new generation of Robotech fighters.  It was years later that I learned that these 3 generations were actually 3 totally separate cartoon series from Japan that originally had nothing to do with one another.  When imported to America none of the 3 series had enough episodes of their own to air on television and so they were redubbed and reedited to link the 3 shows together.  The first generation which was originally Macross in Japan is probably my overall favorite chapter of Robotech.  The middle generation, which was originally Southern Cross, was okay but nowhere near as good as the first.  The third generation, which was originally called Genesis Climber Mospeada in Japan, could have maybe been my favorite if only they had ever finished airing it.  The series always cut off at the same episode every time.  The end of  each episode had a teaser for the next episode, and at the end of one particular show they teased that in the next episode Rook was to return to her home town.  Doug and I waited with bated breath many times, hoping to see that episode, but every time it was scheduled to air the first episode of generation one would play again.  The series looped like that over and over again.  I never knew how the series ended until I was in my 20s and I purchased the DVD box set.Robo-nvid toon underbelly

The reason that the third chapter, called “The New Generation” in America, could have easily been my favorite chapter of Robotech is because it had the best villains;  it had the Invid.  The first generation fought giant humans and the second generation fought old men.  the third generation had their hands full with the most alien threat that earth had ever encountered.  As a kid I wasn’t sure if the Invid were sentient robots or whether their mechs had pilots because the series never got far enough along to reveal it to me.  I did eventually discover, courtesy of the DVDs, that the crab ships were piloted by little green men who took the form of humans.  Corg was one of those Invid humans and he was actually included with this Shock Trooper (which wasn’t the case when you bought it new) so double score for me.  I won’t talk too much about him here as I’ll give him his own review at a later date but he’s pretty cool.Robo-Invid Corg

The Shock Troopers were the Invid’s larger more heavily armored troopers.  Invid scouts were also featured heavily in the cartoon.  Scouts looked similar to Shock Troopers but were about half the size and more red than purple.  I could’ve bought a Scout Trooper on ebay many times for a decent price but I always held out hope that I’d find a decently priced Shock Trooper.  A big reason why I never bit the bullet and bought a Shock Trooper for myself is because after so many years I was certain that some toy company out there would produce a new one that would end up being superior in design and cheaper to purchase than one of these 1986 originals.  But that hasn’t happened yet.  I’ve seen many new versions of various Robotech mechs over the years but no one has reproduced the Shock Trooper.Robo-Invid toon flight

Now that I finally have the original in my hands he does not disappoint and I don’t care if they never make a new version.  This toy looks amazing and it’s in great condition.  The joints are firm and the paint isn’t scratched off, even the decals are intact.  The legs and arms are articulated, as are the feet and cannons.  His claws each have a lever that make them open and close which allow him to grab things and the cockpit opens up to seat Corg comfortably inside.  The color scheme is excellent because everyone knows that purple and green are perfect together; just ask the Hulk.Robo-Invid Battle

One quick thing I want to mention regarding that red and black decal on the front, as a kid I always viewed that as the crab’s mouth and I envisioned those two bumps on the back to be his eyes; this gave him the very crab like appearance that I loved.  However, after watching the full animated series I’m quite sure that the decal is intended to be a single eye which rather changes the whole look of the thing if that is the case.  It then becomes more of a hunchbacked robot cyclops.  Either way, it’s cool as hell.  10 out of 10.Robo-Invid and Spidey

WHEELIE

TF-Wheelie fullTRANSFORMERS

MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY HOLIDAYS to all of you reading this.  It’s Christmas eve and I have just a little bit of spare time before being whisked away for another family gathering.  Tonight it’s off to my Aunt Heather and Uncle Sid’s place.  Good times.  Today I’ve got a brand new Christmas toy to review.  Now you might be wondering how it is that I have a new Christmas toy when it’s only Christmas eve.  Well this is a Christmas present that I bought for myself a few weeks ago and when it comes to Christmas presents that you buy for yourself, well you can open them whenever you want. TF-Wheelie animated

A few months ago I was in Giant Robot Comics where I noticed they had an interesting Cliffjumper figure.  It was the exact same figure as the one I purchased some time ago which was based on the animated series Transfomrers: Prime.  The only difference was the head; instead of the stylized modern head seen on my figure this one featured Cliffjumper’s classic Generation one mug.  I inquired as to whether this was some sort of variant.  The store owner Darryl told me that the Cliffjumper was part of a Japanese exclusive set of repaints made to “transform” previously released molds into something new.  The Cliffjumper was the only one he had left because it was the least desirable.  The only change made to the toy was the head swap and the standard Cliffjumper was still readily available most anywhere.  The other figures in the set however were painted in such a way as to give us entirely different characters.  Kup for example was repainted in red and white and given a new head to become Swerve and Tomahawk was repainted green to give us Springer.  These were the first versions of those characters to be released in the generations/classics/universe style so I wanted them.  Swerve has a pretty big role in the current Transformers comics so I’ve grown quite fond of him.  I asked Darryl if he was expecting to get any more of the Japanese exclusives in. He told me that he was expecting to receive another shipment and that he would keep me posted.  He added that the 4th figure in the series was Wheelie and he asked if I’d want one of those set aside as well.TF-Wheelie close up

“Wheelie?  No thanks, that guy sucks.”

If you’re not familiar with Wheelie let me tell you why he sucks.  He was introduced in the 1986 animated Transformers movie which I’ve talked about a bunch in previous posts like Unicron, Cyclonus, and Quintesson Judge.  He was basically Bumblebee’s replacement for the new generation of Transformers.  He was supposed to be a kid I think, at least he acted like one and he was very small in size.  He had a slingshot, transformed into some stupid ass future car, and the cherry on top was that he had a high pitched voice and spoke only in rhyme.  You’d be hard pressed to create a more annoying character.  And as for the toy that came out in 1986, well just look at this thing…Wheelie Robot

When I got home from Giant Robot I googled these Japanese toys that I had just asked Darryl to track down for me to see what I could expect.  Springer looked pretty lame with really wonky legs.  Swerve looked pretty good but nothing like the vintage toy or the miniscule character I had come to love from the comic books.  Both were disappointing.  TF-Wheelie face

And then I saw Wheelie.  Wheelie ‘s new body was constructed entirely of the same parts as Jazz who is a pretty cool figure himself.  Wheelie’s only newly sculpted piece was his face.  They swapped out Jazz’s gun for Wheelie’s sling shot and then painted the whole thing orange.  I expected to hate it but I found myself really liking it.  The Jazz mold was a great starting point but it looked so much better in orange.  The head was true to the original design with the brim and the smile and I was very  impressed at how well they captured his look.  No longer did he transform into a stupid future car but now he transformed into a cool looking modern day sports car.  The biggest improvement was probably that he wasn’t so tiny any more; this was Wheelie all grown up.  I kinda loved it.TF-wheelie cover

So after a while when Darryl was unable to find the set for me I ordered Swerve and Wheelie online and passed on the Springer.  If you had told me a year ago that I’d be choosing a Wheelie figure over a Springer, the badass triple changing member of the wreckers, I’d never have believed you.  Now that Wheelie is in my hands I know I made the right choice.  Not to say that I won’t eventually pick up the Springer but this Wheelie is awesome.  He looks great, has a ton of personality, stands up fine and is super posable.  There aren’t too many orange Transformers so he really stands out on the shelf.  The only thing that could’ve brought this figure down would be if they had included a voice chip, luckily they didn’t.  I can’t believe it but I think Wheelie just pulled off an upset and booted somebody else off my pending top ten toys of 2012 list.  9 out of 10TF-Wheelie carTF-Wheelie and Jazz

SGT. STONE v1

Joe-Sgt Stone fullG.I. JOE

Well I took a short break from toy reviews because I was a little burnt out after cramming to get my 365 reviews in 365 days done but I’m rested and ready to get back to work.  It might be a few days yet before I get back on a regular schedule though because today is December 23.  That means that I have all sorts of Christmas parties and family obligations to attend to.  My little brother is home from New York for the holidays and I’ve been spending a fair amount of time with him.  I expect a call from my folks any minute now saying that they’re on their way to haul me off to the first of four family gatherings that I have lined up over the next several evenings.  It’s a very busy time of year.  But another thing that this time of year is good for other than family and food is toys.  I haven’t even opened any presents from loved ones yet but I already have a bunch of toys to review.  You see I’ve been doing a lot of Christmas shopping for myself this past month and the goodies have been piling up under the Christmas tree.  So much so that the ratio of presents “to Mike” greatly outweighs the number of presents “to Vanessa”.  Rather than make her sit through watching me open dozens of action figures on Christmas morning I’ve been picking away at them over the past couple of days.  My first X-mas present to myself that I allowed myself to open was a decent sized haul of Joes that I scored from an online retailer.  He was selling Joes for as little as $1.99 so I couldn’t help but stock up.  A small box containing 17 Joes showed up in the mail the other day;  one of the Joes was Sgt. Stone.Joe-Sgt Stone face

Very recently I reviewed a Snake Eyes figure based on the live action G.I. Joe movie “The Rise of Cobra”.  In that post I told you how I was resistant to the movie based figures initially.  I was mad that they had seemed to replace the 25th anniversary line of figures that I was very fond of.  I found the movie figures boring and I did not approve of the direction the toy line was going in.  However since the line survived it, and soon went back to comic based, weird, wonderful and colorful figures I am able to appreciate those movie based figures more.  I can now accept them for what they were, a mere blip in the long history of G.I. Joe.  In fact I found myself suddenly wanting some of the movie based figures that I initially passed on.  To this day I don’t feel like I needed every version of Snake Eyes and Scarlett that they put out but there were a few new characters added to the Joe-verse that I regret not picking up.  The Toys R Us exclusive Bench-Press for example was a character I ignored.  He was a new character, not anybody I had a connection to from my youth and he didn’t even appear in the movie so skipping him seemed like a no-brainer.  But in hindsight I can appreciate him for what he was, a new character with some cool accessories whom I should have welcomed into the fold.  Now I can’t find him online for less than $50.Joe-Sgt Stone close up

Sgt. Stone was another newly created character who I had no attachment to.  Some Joe fans might argue that he wasn’t a new character created for the movie because there have been Joe characters with that name before.  However they appeared in off-shoot versions of Joe, G.I. Joe Extreme and G.I. Joe Sigma Six.  Those versions don’t count in my mind, I’m only interested in the Real American Hero version of G.I. Joe, the one I grew up with.  And this figure represents the first time that a Sgt. Stone has ever been included in the RAH line.

Unlike Bench Press, Sgt. Stone did actually appear in the movie.  He had a brief cameo during the training montage and he was played by Brendan Fraser.  Now I don’t hate Brendan Fraser, I loved Encino Man growing up and School Ties is pretty good too but I don’t love him.  I find him pretty cheesy and hearing that he was cast in the movie made me shudder.  The movie was directed by another cheese-ball, Stephen Sommers who directed Fraser in the 3 Mummy movies.  The two became pals and I guess Fraser begged Sommers to include him in the movie because he’s a big Joe fan.  I can respect that.  If my friend was making a live action G.I. Joe movie I would’ve begged to just be an extra, if I was Brendan Fraser (with a handful of blockbusters under my belt)  I think asking for a small walk on role with 2 or 3 lines of dialogue is a pretty reasonable request.  Apparently for a time they were going to name Fraser’s character Gung-Ho, who is a very well known Joe character and I’m glad they didn’t go that route.  Would’ve been a shame to waste such a great character in so trivial a role, its better that they save Gung-Ho for a sequel.  I think casting Brendan as Sgt. Stone was a best case scenario for everybody.  It allowed Brendan to play a “name” Joe without wasting a character that anybody would care about.Joe-Sgt Stone movie

If Brendan Fraser truly is a big Joe fan I’m sure receiving his very own action figure was a huge thrill.  Unfortunately it isn’t a very good figure.  I’m not sure if they were trying to capture Mr. Fraser’s likeness but if they were they failed miserably.  This looks nothing like him.  Considering that they did a decent job on the other actors I’m assuming that they didn’t bother getting the rights to Brendan’s likeness for a character who was only on screen for 5 minutes.  A disappointment to him I’d imagine.

The character and corresponding figure were both pretty dull looking.  Black tee shirt, camo pants, black beret.  They could’ve easily called this character Flint or Flacon if they wanted to shoehorn another popular Joe into the movie; but he looks nothing like Gung-Ho.  The camo pattern used on his pants is the same one used on many of the movie figures which ties them altogether nicely.  However I don’t like my Joes to blend together in this way, their individual looks is what makes them fun to collect.  This is an alright figure with a good sculpt, a kinda cool vest and decent weapons but none of that saves him from being dull.  I’m glad to finally add him to my collection though, new characters are always welcome.  6 out of 10.Joe-Sgt Stone and Breaker

SPONSORSHIP NEWS – DECEMBER

Topspin TwintwistToday is “mike’s collection’s” 1 year anniversary.  I started this blog on December 18 2011.  Miraculously I achieved my initial goal of reviewing 365 toys in my first year of blogging.  A feat which I promise you I will not even attempt to do this year.  My last post read like an Oscar acceptance speech with me thanking my readers, fellow bloggers, my girlfriend, and even my mom.  A little overly dramatic?  Perhaps.  But I’m at least a few years away from winning my Oscar so please indulge me.  Anyway, I omitted someone from my thank yous yesterday and I wanted to rectify that today.  A few months into this blog I approached BigBadToyStore to see if they’d be interesting in advertising on my site.  The blogs that I modeled mine after were both sponsored by BigBad so I figured why not ask?  To my surprise Nick and Joel over there accepted my proposal and offered me a sponsorship arrangement.  I’ve been proudly displaying their banner on the right of my screen ever since.  I wouldn’t ever want to be one of those sites full of banners and flashing adds but having one add made my site feel more legitimate and allowed me to say that I was a paid blogger which is pretty neat.  So a big bad thank you to Big Bad Toy Store. Be sure to click the banner and check out the site, new stuff is added almost daily.  For example:Atom Eve

This is the most recent thing I pre-ordered from Big Bad.  You can find them on the site listed as Apex and Geminus.  But every Transformer fan would recognize these guys as Top Spin and Twin Twist, the Jumpstarters. The 80s originals sprang from vehicle to robot mode all on their own after a running start provided by their rev up play feature.  These versions are made by a third party company called Mech Ideas and are not officially licensed by Hasbro but I think they look much better than the upcoming Hasbro releases of these characters, check them out.

And how about this statue of Atom Eve from the Image comic Invincible.  I’m not usually a statue guy but considering there are no Invincible figures available and how reasonably priced this statue is I may pick one up.

FRANKENSTEIN’S MONSTER

Frank Mez full1UNIVERSAL MONSTERS

Hey gang,  Today is a landmark day here at Mike’s Collection.  It is my 365th toy review.  That might not seem like a big deal but considering I began this blog a mere 365 days ago I think it’s a pretty decent accomplishment.  I’ve been collecting toys since I was a kid but it seems that it recent years my collecting has ramped up.   There are so many great figures being released these days and so many brands that I loved from my childhood have been resurrected that it seems like I’m discovering new toys to purchase more frequently than ever before.  Not since I was an 8 year old flipping through the Sears Wish Book have I had such a long want list of upcoming action figures.  Between G.I. Joe, Transformers, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Marvel Universe, Beast Saga and all of the other odds and ends I’ve picked up this year my wallet has taken a serious beating.  I’ve been buying so many figures the past few years that my shelves are flooded with them and I have hundreds more packed away in bins.  It’s gotten to the point where as I buy new ones, older ones have to be boxed away in the closet to make room for them.  Each time I bought a new figure I’d tear him out of his package excitedly and then I’d plunk him onto a shelf already jam-packed with figures where he would become just another face in the crowd.  It was too the point that no one would ever notice when I added new pieces to my collection, even my friends that were prone to notice such things.  It struck me as such a shame to buy these things and not be able to share the excitement with anyone else; to have them go so unappreciated.  But then I had an idea. Frank Mez face1

For several months I had visiting a review style blog called JoeaDay.com written by some dude named Rob Buzan.  I had actually discovered his blog through a news style blog called GeneralsJoes.   It’s hard to believe but I’ve been visiting Generals Joes almost daily for more than a decade now.  I discovered the site, written by a fella named Justin, back in 2002 when the G.I. Joe brand was revived for what has since been called the new-sculpt era.  I’ve reviewed a number of those figures such as Neo-Viper, Switch Gears, and Barrel Roll.  The toys were not readily available locally and so I had to purchase them online where I was paying inflated prices.  In order to determine whether the toys were worth my hard earned dollars I searched the web for reviews of these new figures.  That’s how I found Justin and his site GeneralsJoes.  He had Joe news, reviews and dio-stories.  It was a great site that it became and remains my one-stop-shop for all G.I.Joe related news and reviews.  A couple of years ago Justin and some other guys began a Joe podcast called “What’s on Joe Mind?” that they recorded on a weekly basis.  It was on one of these podcasts that they read an email query from listener Rob Buzan.  They answered his question and plugged his blog where he was reviewing a new G.I. Joe figure every single day.  I decided to check it out and have done so ever since, for more than a year now, and Rob never misses a day.  It’s very impressive.  Those guys were my inspiration so I want to thank them and encourage you to check out their blogs if you’re a Joe fan. Frank Mez movie face

So my idea was why I don’t I start a blog in a format similar to Rob’s.  Except rather than focus on a single brand like he  does I decided to review all of the toys in my collection.  This way when I bought a new toy I could snap some pictures of it in different poses and write out a thoughtful review.  It made buying all these figures feel less pointless because I was actually doing something with them.  The review process forced me to spend a little more time appreciating each figure and it also allowed me to share the pros and cons with anyone who stumbled across my site.  I’d love to think that one of my reviews convinced a casual  reader, who may have found me via google just as I found Justin back in the day, to go out and purchase one of these toys.  On the odd occasion this blog felt like a chore but most of the time it’s been a joy for me to write and I hope you’ve been enjoying it as well.  Frank Mez full2

Speaking of my readers I want to thank my friends who have been supportive all along the way, frequently commenting on my posts.  Adam, Andrew, Miguel, Guy and others thank you.  I want to thank new readers that have found my site and have checked back regularly like Paul, Sidus, and Glenn.  I want to thank my brother Doug who is a frequent reader and played a big part in why I love these little plastic men so much.  Regular readers probably feel like they know him by now because he comes up so much.  I know this is kinda gay but I want to thank my mom.  She’s never understood my toy collecting and has questioned me multiple times over the years as to why I do it and I was never able to make her understand.  She checked out the blog out of curiosity and has since told me that she’s read through nearly the entire thing.  She has emailed me a couple of times regarding the site and said the kindest things, including that she finally understands my passion for these action figures even if it isn’t her cup of tea. Frank Mez face side

Lastly I want to thank my girlfriend Vanessa who was 100% behind this idea when I first posed it to her back in December 2011.  She helped me set up the site, she bought me the digital camera that I use to take all my pictures, she reads the blog faithfully (not all the posts though because I’ve snuck a few zingers in at her expense that I know she missed otherwise I would’ve heard about it), she’s been understanding of the many hours I spend hidden away in my man cave writing, plus she allows me to have these items displayed in our home.  She also buys me action figures to review when special occasions roll around.  Which brings me to the toy at hand.  Sorry it took so long to get to.  I tend to ramble.

Vanessa was with me at Strange Adventures a while back when I spotted this Frankenstein figure on the shelf.  I admired the thing a while but decided not to buy it.  I had recently completed my set of Mego-style Universal Monsters and didn’t want to start collecting them in a new format so soon.  Apparently Vanessa went back to the shop on her own and picked it up as a Christmas present.  When I told her that I would be posting my 365th review today she was proud of me.  When I started the blog I had initially hoped to maybe write a review a day like Rob but I quickly started missing days and was soon off schedule.  I had my doubts whether I’d get 365 done in my first year and yet with a little hard work I made it.  Vanessa thought the feat warranted a brand new figure to review for my 365th post.  She handed me one of my wrapped Christmas presents last night and told me to open it up.  Staring back at me was Frankenstein.Frank Mez attack

This figure is made my Mezco Toys.  It is the first in a line of stylized action figures based on Universal’s Classic Monsters.  The package advertises The Creature from the Black Lagoon and The Mummy to be the next two releases in the line.  The package also features a nice pic of Boris Karloff in the monster make-up on each side and the interior has a cool green background with a picture of the electrified conduits used to bring life to this lumbering thing.  It would make a nice display piece if you opted to keep it mint in the box.  Of course that’s never been my style, I had to open it up immediately. Frank Mez face

This is a really nice figure.  Like the Mego Frankenstein I have this figure has actual cloth clothing.  However the Mego could be categorized as a doll where this one could not.  Only his shirt and jacket are actual cloth; his pants and boots are sculpted.  If you wanted to take his jacket off you would literally have to cut it off of him.  Since the clothing is not removable you might wonder why they’d even bother going that route, I’m sure a figure sculpted completely in plastic would have been cheaper and easier to produce.  I’m guessing they did it this way to elevate this figure above your standard action figure-fare.  The shirt fits him like a tight sweater and is nicely textured while the jacket hangs loose providing some movement to what would otherwise be a stiff figure.  The jacket is pre-ripped so I assume he bought it at American Eagle.  The pants and shoes don’t offer much to talk about but I will mention again how much I love Frankenstein’s  giant boots.  They big feet appear as they did on screen and help to anchor this figure which stands about 8” tall. Frank Mez piggy back

The sculpting done on the character’s head is amazing.  In my Mego Frankenstein review I mentioned how disappointed I was with the figure’s likeness to Boris Karloff.  Well that has been rectified here.  Not to say that this is a photo realistic representation of the man because it’s not supposed to be.  This is a hyper stylized figure with exaggerated features.  The head is much larger than it should be with all of the distinguishing features magnified for effect.  I love the creative approach to the design.  They didn’t go too far over the edge which might have resulted in this figure looking like a super-deformed manga, but just far enough so that you can tell that this is a contemporary figure where some creative license has been taken.  The features are exaggerated but avoid being cartoony.  The face on this guy is heart-breaking.  They really captured the subtle humanity Karloff infused into the character.  Aside from the near perfect face this toy’s head features all of the other Frankenstein staples: a flat head, scars, and bolts in the neck.

The articulation is rather disappointing but given the stiff nature of the character I can give them a pass on that I suppose.  He has no leg articulation and his arms only move at the shoulders.  His head swivels and I was surprised to find that he has an articulated torso under his sweater.  The paint job is the cherry on top of this reanimated sundae.  I love that they went with the black and white palette here.  The sickly green skin is one of the worst aspects of the Mego, not to mention his red lips.  The only color on this figure is a few small dabs of red on his cuts and scars.  The gray scale used is very effective and anything but drab.  I really like this figure.  I think it may be a surprise late contender for my year-end top ten list.  Stay tuned.  9 out of 10.

SAGA TURTLE

BS-Turtle frontBEAST SAGA

Well it’s been a busy day here at Mike’s Collection.  Those of you who have been reading lately know that I’ve been striving to achieve 365 toy reviews in my first year of writing this blog.  This post here is my 364th. That means I need only post 1 more review tomorrow to achieve my goal.  There were periods where I slacked off this year so I’ve had to pump out more reviews than usual lately to try and get back up to speed.  This is the third toy review I’ve posted today.  Now I originally thought that in order to achieve my goal I would take the easy route and just post a bunch of quicky reviews of crappy toys that I had nothing to say about.  But then I had an idea.  I’m a sucker for lists and I especially love year end lists.  I’m always excited to read SPIN magazines or Entertainment Weekly’s year end lists.  I post my own top ten lists every year on my personal facebook account.  I’ve done my top ten CDs and movies each year and I even posted my 10 ten favorite comics one year.  Well it occurred to me the other day that it might be fun to post my “Top Ten favorite toys of 2012”  list on this site before years end.  I started compiling a list of toys released in 2012 and started picking out potential top teners.  I figured any toy who’s a contender for my top ten should have received a thorough review on the site.  Most of the contenders chosen had previously been reviewed but there were a couple toys that I purchased this year that I really liked but hadn’t got around to reviewing yet.  So all day today I’ve been reviewing great toys released this year that might potentially make my top ten list.  First there was Spikor, then Atrocitus and now I present to you…Saga Turtle.BS-Turtle card

As you probably already know in the span of a few short months I’ve become a huge Beast Saga fanboy.  I love these figures.  Takara’s Battle Beasts were one of my absolute favorite toy lines of the 80s and I’ve been hoping for a revival of the brand for 25 years now.  Well 2012 was the year of the Battle Beast.  Not only did IDW publish a brand new Battle Beast comic book but Diamond Select Toys was slated to release a series of figures of the characters from the book.  The figures actually got delayed and won’t see release until 2013 but the intent was there at least.  A pair of DST Battle Beasts figures were released at the San Diego Comic Con this year anyway.  And yet those Battle Beasts aren’t the ones that I’m excited about.  I’m not even sure if I’ll pick them up.   The way I see it the big Battle Beast news this year was the release of these Beast Saga figures by Takara, the company responsible for the original Beasts.  The name may have changed and the gimmick has changed from heat activated rub emblems to launching dice but the spirit of those 80s Battle Beasts lives on in the Beast Saga figures.  I’ve bought every figure that has come out thus far and they’re fantastic.BS-Turtle side

Now picking favorites for my year end list will not be an easy task.  I could make a top ten list of Beast Saga figures alone but my year-end list will encompass all brands so most likely only one or two Saga figures will make the final cut.  Contenders so far are Saga Finch, Saga Shark and Saga Deer.  There’s a bunch of others that I really like but have yet to review.  Of all those unreviewed figures if there’s any that might make the list it would be Saga Turtle.BS-Turtle back

I don’t need to tell you why this guy is awesome, just look at him.  It is not easy to be adorable and totally badass at the same time.  His face is very life-like.  The texture of the skin, the shape of the eyes and beak, and the paint job all contribute to the realism.  And then there’s his armor.  This guy goes a totally different route than any of the other beasts; he’s got an old school military vibe about him.  He looks to me to be a very high ranking military turtle at that.  I would guess that he’s supposed to be an Admiral or a General or something.  The armor is sculpted to look like a dress uniform complete with a buttoned collar, shoulder tassels, medals and that ropey thing on his crotch.  I apologize to those of you who may actually know what all these trimmings are called and maybe the rank is obvious but most of my military knowledge comes from G.I. Joe cartoons.  I love the design of his gauntlets and boots.  The anchors sculpted on the gauntlets and his hat are a very nice touch.  His shell works well the armor design.  The color choices are perfect with the bright green and yellow with the red highlights.BS-Turtle compare

This is another one of those Saga figures that seems to have zero ties to the corresponding Battle Beast figure.  Battle Turtle was black and orange with a claw hand and his shell was built into his armor.  In my Beast Saga universe I have a hard time imagining any relation between the two characters.  Even though I’ve already appointed Saga Lion as the leader of my good guys I would imagine this guy probably outranks him.  The thing is the Beasts are not a sanctioned army, more of a militia made up of folks rising up to fight against evil.  So maybe Turtle here isn’t actually a member of Lion’s team but rather the leader of Rhinopolis’ official army.  Turtle is a man who follows orders and has been caught up in red tape, unable to stop Saga Shark’s uprising.  Turtle does all he can to assist Lion while still operating within the law.BS-Turtle compare side

Whatever background you decide to come up with, this is a must-have addition to your Beast Saga collection.  9 out of 10.

ATROCITUS

DC-Atrocitus fullDC UNIVERSE SIGNATURE SERIES

You’ve probably seen me mention the website MattyCollector.com a few times on this blog if you’re a regular reader.  And every time it comes up it’s because I’m reviewing another one my Master’s of the Universe Classics figures which are available exclusively on the site.  The name Matty Collector stems from the fact that it is toy juggernaut MATTEL’s collector oriented website.  With no cartoon on TV and no movie in the theaters to promote their MOTU line they know that the line would fail at retail because kids wouldn’t be interested it it.  And so they focused their market and aimed it towards nerds like me.  On the 15th of every month they make a new MOTU figure available to order.  Initially those MOTU figures were the only items available on the site.  But as the site’s popularity grew Mattel began adding other properties.  Soon new toys from other fan-favorite 80s properties like Voltron and Ghostbusters were available as well.  Another one of the biggest lines available on the site are DC Universe characters.  Mattel has taken lines that once thrived at retail like Justice League Unlimited and DC Universe Classics and transitioned them onto their site as the line’s popularity waned with kids.  I’ve never been a big collector of DC comics or toys, I only dabble, so I don’t have much use for the JL and Classics figures they offer.  However there was one DC figure made available on their website this year that did catch my attention and it was this guy here, Atrocitus.DC-Atrocitus face side

Let’s go back a few years.  I was buying a ton of Marvel books but hardly any DC books.  The new Cassandra Cain Batgirl was the only DC book I was reading monthly.  I’m familiar with all of DC’s staple characters but most of them I had never read.  I mostly knew them from cartoons from my childhood like the Super Friends.  I had seen the Superman and Batman movies of course and felt I knew the histories of those characters fairly well but some of the other Justice League members remained a mystery to me.  Green Arrow for example always looked cool to me but the yellow goateed version I was familiar with had been dead for several years in the comic books and I had no interest in reading about the new kid wearing the mask.  It wasn’t until Kevin Smith’s heavily hyped relaunch of the book where he resurrected the original Arrow that I took notice and decided to give it a chance.  I quickly became attached to the character and stuck with the book for years until it’s eventual cancellation.

This sold me

This sold me

A while Later I  heard that DC was planning a similar resurrection of their most popular Green Lantern character.  Hal Jordan would be coming back from the dead to replace Kyle Rayner who had filled the role in his absence.  Maybe if DC had attached an A-List name to the relaunch like they did with Arrow then I would have checked it out but I had no idea who this Geoff Johns guy was and so I paid little attention to the news.  And so Green Lantern: Rebirth came out and I heard it was really good.  The character of Hal Jordan didn’t interest me though so I paid the hype no mind.  Then a new ongoing Green Lantern series written by Johns came out and I heard it was really good but so what.  And then he came up with the idea of having Yellow Lanterns become the arch-enemies of the Green Lanterns.  It sounded rather silly but i kept hearing great things.  And then I heard Johns was going to be introducing Red Lanterns and Orange Lanterns and I thought this was getting ridiculous but all I heard were positive reviews.  When I caught my first glimpse of the Red Lantern, Atrocitus, violently spitting blood as he burst forth from a pool of the stuff I thought, “hmmm, maybe I’d better see what the hype is all about.”DC-Atrocitus face

I started buying collected editions of both Green Lantern and it’s sister book Green Lantern Corps to get up to speed.  I was immediately impressed by the universe created by Geoff Johns.  He made a comic book which never seemed remotely interesting to me before into the most action packed reading experience I’d had in years.  I loved it.  I quickly bought up John’s entire run on the book just in time to get in on the ground floor of the Red Lantern story.  Atrocitus was the coolest new villain I’d seen in ages.  He was awesome looking, scary, violent, powerful, intelligent,  had skewed justification for his actions, and had retroactively been connected to the origins of the Green Lantern character.  He was fantastic;  not just a dumb brute in red pajamas.  The introduction of all these different colored lanterns may have looked gimmicky to outsiders but if you were reading the books it made sense and seemed natural and obvious.  Johns followed up the red and orange lantern stories with Darkest Night, Brightest Day, the War of the Green Lanterns, and he’s still going strong.  It’s one of the most impressive runs on a book that I’ve ever read so if you haven’t given it a chance yet I strongly recommend you do.DC-Atrocitus cover

I guess I’m not the only fan of Atrocitus because he and his army of Red Lanterns were recently given their own spin-off book.  This title, though not written by Johns, is adding even more layers to this complex character.

DC Direct made the first Atrocitus figure in 2009 but it flew off store shelves and I was never able to find one.  It became one of those figures that I searched for frequently on ebay hoping to find one at a good price.  Having become a huge Green Lantern fan I found my roster of GL figures growing quite quickly.  Each time I added a new lantern it seemed crazy to not have Atrocitus represented on my shelf as it was his crazy image that drew me in the GL Universe in the first place.  Well earlier this year Mattel announced that they’d be releasing their own version of Atrocitus as part of their Signature Series collection available only on MattyCollector.  I was already ordering an MOTU figure anyway so you had better believe I chucked this guy into my virtual shopping cart as well.  When he arrived in the mail I was immediately underwhelmed;  he just seemed so damn small.  I don’t think Atrocitus is supposed to be huge but this guy looks like Ryan Seacrest next to my other DC figures.  He’s dwarfed by his rival Hal Jordan and next to characters like Yellow Lantern Arkillo he just looks ridiculous.  However that’s not the sculptors fault.  I believe Atrocitus to be in scale with other Mattel figures.  It just so happens that the majority of my DC figures are from DC Direct and so they don’t quite match up.DC-Atrocitus lanterns

Size aside this is a pretty great figure.  The Mattel figures are far more articulated than the DC Direct figures which means you can actually pose this toy.  They don’t suffer from over articulation like the Marvel Legends figures available in this scale but the articulated wrists, ankles, hips and chest go a long way in making these figures more fun to play with.  He’s painted in 3 shades of red, a nice crimson for his costume, a metallic red for his shoulder armor and belt and a lighter shade for his skin.  These varied tones add some realism and depth to the figure.  The real highlight of this toy is it’s face.  This guy looks gnarly.  I’m not sure how to even describe the exposed artery looking things on his face and knucles.  He’s got teeth for days and his beady yellow eyes glare at you from under that heavy brow.  Just awesome.

Mattel vs DC Direct (pic borrowed from another site)

Mattel vs DC Direct (pic borrowed from another site)

For accessories he came with his red lantern which seems like an obvious choice.  The stupid thing is that both his hands are clenched into fists so he can’t really hold it.  You can just sling it over his wrist like a purse.  I think including alternate hands would’ve been a good idea.  A display base would’ve been nice too but at least he stands just fine on his own.   I hope Mattel offers up some more lantern figures soon because they did a nice job here.  8 out of 10.