Monthly Archives: March 2013

BLITZKRIEG BAT

BB-Bat fullBATTLE BEASTS

HAPPY EASTER EVERYONE! Today is Easter Sunday and I’m about to head out to my uncle’s place to watch my hordes of nephews search for Easter eggs before sitting down to a big ol’ Easter dinner.  I don’t have a whole lot of time tho throw this post together before I leave but I wanted to make sure I got something posted before the day passed me by.  I don’t know about you guys but Easter was a pretty big day for me as a kid.  After Christmas and my birthday, Easter was probably my third favorite day of the year.  And it wasn’t really about the candy (though that was nice), it was an opportunity to get more action figures.  As you may have gathered, I love action figures and have for as long as I can remember. BB-Bat card

Before I had a job and the ability to purchase my own toys I had to wait for these event days to roll around so that my collection could expand.  Not to say I didn’t get the odd toy throughout the year for doing my chores or graduating school but the toys received on Christmas, my birthday and Easter felt like a bigger deal.  I guess thats because of all the hooplah that comes with them, decorations and anticipation and parties and such.BB-Bat back

My toy haul at Easter was never a big one, usually just a single figure along with the usual candy and maybe a hockey stick or a pogo ball; something to play with outside.  My most memorable Easter would have been either the one of 1987 or 1988, I’m not entirely sure which.  I would have been 9 or 10.  I remember I had recently seen commercials for Battle Beasts on TV and I was sold.  I’ve always loved animals of all shapes and sizes and that was kind of my thing as a kid.  One of the earliest comic books that I created was called Animal Team Force which consisted of every animal I could think of wearing a red cape.  Seeing a toy line made up solely of animal warriors with little swords was like a dream come true.  They had come along too late for me to ask for any for Christmas but I let mom and dad know that I would love some for Easter.BB-Bat fightBB-Bat side

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Battle Beasts came in 2-packs those first couple of years.  That year I got two 2-packs and my little brother Brian got one.  I think my parents had actually opened the packages and the figures were sitting loose in the basket atop the cadbury eggs and peeps.  I got the Rhino, the Ram, the Fox and the Bat.  Brian got the Bear and the Buffalo but I eventually convinced him to relinquish them to me as well.  I now have about 80 Battle Beasts, only recently completing my collection with the acquisition of Pugnacious Penguin, but those first 4 have remained my favorites.  I made the Rhino and Ram the leaders of my good and bad armies.  Bear and Buffalo were their generals.  Fox and bat were not highly ranked but they were skilled fighters with a deep seeded rivalry.  They were like the Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow of my Battle Beast Universe.BB-Bat group

Battle Bat, as I called him before discovering his real name, was very smart, evil and conniving.  The fact that he had a hook for a hand made me think that he had been through some rough battles in the past.  His cybernetic eye enhancement led me to think that he was skilled in the fields of science and technology.  His black armor and small stature made me think he was a skilled and stealthy spy.  This teeny little figure has a ton of personality sculpted into it.  I don’t think these pictures do it justice.  I love the wings; they’re thin and rubbery allowing you to “flap” them easily.  His gold bladed weapon is one of the coolest of the whole series and though the paint apps are minimal I love the dark green used to highlight the black armor.  My only gripe would be his unpainted teeth.  Some white on his exposed fangs would have really looked nice. That aside, this is an awesome figure and one of the best Easter presents I ever received.  10 out of 10BB-Bat cardedBB-Bat basket

ROADBLOCK v.23 (2013)

Joe-Roadblock R fullG.I. JOE : RETALIATION

Sorry my Retaliation Week reviews kind of fizzled out over the last few days leading up to the film release but i have a good excuse.  I was off seeing G.I. Joe Retaliation.  Tuesday night I went to the premiere showing in 3D IMAX.  On Wednesday night I saw it again on a normal screen in 2D.  And then last night I was at a concert (unrelated to G.I. Joe : Retaliation but still great.  Youtube Joel Plaskett if you’re not familiar with him).  Now I have been anticipating this movie with bated breath since it was first announced like 3 years ago.  Though in a sense you could say I’ve been waiting for this movie for 30 years.  I’ve been collecting G.I. Joe figures for as long as I can remember and I would’ve loved to have seen a well-made live-action movie starring my favorite Joe characters when I was a kid.  It took nearly 3 decades but I finally got my Joe movie in 2009, well, I got A G.I. Joe movie.  The first movie was made by someone who didn’t grow up with G.I. Joe, at least not the Real American Hero version, and it showed.  I don’t want to rag on Stephen Sommers too badly but  he seemed to be less concerned with honoring the brand, and more concerned about making a big dumb popcorn movie.  Forcing his ideas into the script, like the accelerator suits, didn’t help matters.  The Snake Eyes/Storm Shadow origin was rushed and poorly executed.  Important characters like Baroness and Cobra Commander were given ridiculous backstories.  There were plenty of things for a Joe fan like myself to complain about.  But Sommers is capable of making fun movies, and I think he accomplished that goal with Rise of Cobra.  On some levels I quite enjoy it but as I said, it just wasn’t MY G.I. Joe movie. Joe-Roadblock R poster

Jon Chu, on the other hand, is about the same age as me.  He grew up watching the same Joe cartoons and reading the same Joe comics as I did.  I was worried about the choice of director when it was first announced because I wasn’t familiar with Chu and his only film credits were Step Up 3D and Justin Beiber: Never say Never.  But as soon as I starting hearing him talk about the brand in interviews I felt that we were in good hands.  Anyone who can casually namedrop Serpentor in a conversation is okay in my books.  Now having seen it (twice), I can finally say that I’ve seen MY Joe movie.  The one I’ve been directing in my head all these years.  The movie wasn’t perfect but I thought it was pretty damn close.  I  came home and immediately began checking out film reviews online, I was all hopped up with excitement and I wanted to see if others were feeling the same.  The first bunch of reviews I came across were pretty “blah” about it and I was genuinely surprised.

Joe-Roadblock R movie stillGranted, the average Joe (no pun intended) might not enjoy it as much as a G.I. Fanboy like myself but I don’t see how anyone could not enjoy the movie.  It moves at a very quick pace, has some great action, awesome costumes and great characters.  Sure the storyline isn’t revolutionary, Cobra wants to take over the world, seen it a million times.  But that’s kind of the point.  COBRA ALWAYS TRYS TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD!  THATS WHAT THEY DO!  The movie takes itself pretty seriously most of the time, some might say too much so, but there are a few great moments of levity and the overall film is oozing with fun.  I won’t go into detail now because I’m sure there are lots of people out there who haven’t seen it yet.  I give it my two enthusiastic thumbs up (trademarks be damned).  Make sure you check it out.Joe-Roadblock R gun

So today I will review my last Retaliation figure for a while.  I’m on a Joe high right now and want to keep writing about them but this blog is intended to focus on my entire toy collection so I’m gonna go back to He-Men and Transformers for a little while.  I won’t stray from Joe for too long though as I’ve recently got a bunch of great new figures.

This figure here is another version of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Roadblock.  I previously reviewed a “Rock Rock” in my Retaliation coverage last year.  There have been 3 Retaliation Roadblock’s released to date and I have all of them.  I quite liked the one I reviewed last time (version 21).  I thought it was a good likeness and a good overall sculpt.  I didn’t care much for version 22 but I was kind of forced to get him because he came in a 3-pack with other figures I wanted.  When I first saw pics online of this latest Roadblock (version 23) I wasn’t impressed.  If I had seen it in the store I actually think I would have passed on it.  Version 21 was good enough for me.  Well I could not find any of the Retaliation wave 2 figures in my local stores so I caved and ordered the compete 5-figure wave online from BigBadToyStore.Joe-Roadblock R torso

I opened up this Roadblock and still wasn’t impressed.  There was just too much green or something, I’m not even sure what I didn’t like about it.  In order to review this figure I had to spend some time looking at it more closely and after fiddling around with it I’ve been won over.  I really like this Roadblock figure.  If I were to recommend one movie Roadblock figure to you I would say get this one over version 21.  The likeness to Dwayne Johnson is way better on this figure.  It’s especially noticeable when they’re beside each other.  The face on this figure is amazingly well done.  The body has lots of great detailing.  One of the most noticeable details is the veins sculpted in the forearms.  The articulation on this figure is top notch and again far superior to that of version 21.  He’s got articulated ankles, bendable wrists, and double jointed knees giving him a wide array of posing options.Joe-Roadblock v23 weapons

This Roadblock has some pretty cool weapons as well.  First off he comes with a standard heavy machine gun with tripod that you’d expect to find with a Roadblock figure.  However he also comes with a bunch of little things that I initially ignored.  After breaking them out for the review I realized how neat these little accessories are.  He’s got two brass knuckle looking things and all of the other items attach to them allowing you to customize his arsenal.  All of the attachments can be stored on his person which is pretty sweet.  He’s got holsters and sheaths on his leg, chest, back, belt and hips.  It’s kind of crazy how the designers found a spot for everything.  A great figure and a great movie.  9 out of 10.Joe-Roadblock v23 backJoe-Roadblock v23 attachments

Joe-Roadblock R compare

DUKE v.33 (2009)

Duke v33 fullG.I. JOE : RETALIATION 

Today’s figure technically isn’t a Retaliation figure, but it’s close.   This here is Duke as played by Channing Tatum in both Joe movies.  Duke is one of the few characters from the first film to return for the second installment.   That’s fine with me; I won’t miss any of the other characters.  However it would be nice if a couple of the other actors (Marlon Wayans, Rachel Nichols) were to make cameos to help tie the two films together.  Now I know what you’re thinking, why would you want to tie this new film to the old one?  Let’s sweep the 2009 film under the rug and move on with our lives.  I don’t disagree with you.  However the producers made the decision to continue on in the same world established in the first movie as opposed to rebooting the franchise.  And to honest I’m glad they did.  The first movie wasn’t great but it set up a lot of stuff and I want to see how it pans out.  Sure it sucks that the first film basically ruined the Baroness and a couple of other key characters but there’ll be plenty of time for reboots in years to come.  I feel that since we went through the trouble of setting up this world we might as well see it through. Joe-Duke 33 goggles

 

I haven’t seen the film yet but I think most Joe fans feel that they have a pretty good idea of Duke’s role in the movie.  He’s there to bridge the gap between the old and the new.  We were introduced to the covert world of G.I. Joe through Duke’s eyes so I’m glad to see him back to give the audiences something familiar to latch onto.  Judging by the trailers though, I think Duke is gonna get smoked in the same attack that takes out Agent Mouse and virtually all of the other members of the Joe team early in the movie.  I think they’ll elude to the fact that other characters we met in Rise of Cobra like Ripcord and Breaker are also killed in that scene.  This will leave only new characters: Roadblock, Flint and Lady Jaye, to save the day.  I have no idea if this is the case but that’s what I’m guessing.  If Duke really does get killed in this movie I applaud Mr. Tatum for showing up to the slaughter.Joe-Duke-movie still

But fear not Duke fans, there has been plenty of internet rumors swirling about that Duke will perhaps only be injured in the attack.  Some people think that test audiences’ reaction to Duke’s demise is what caused the 9 month delay of the film’s release.   Some speculate that they reshot scenes to keep Duke alive for potential sequels.  I have my doubts that this is the case (the studio denies it) but either way I doubt Channing will get much screen time this time around.Joe-Duke v33 face side

I was very excited about the release of Rise of Cobra back in 2009 but got less and less so as the release date drew closer and more and more information and images were leaked.   The all black leather X-Men vibe left a bad taste in my mouth and I found it hard to get excited about the ROC figures being released.  I actually bought very few of them.  In the years since I’ve backfilled some of those holes in my collection but to this day I have refused to buy the majority of ROC figures.  For example there were 8 ROC Duke figures released with Channing Tatum’s face and I only bought the first one, this one.  And I only bought this one because of his unique desert gear.  He looked to me like all those contemporary soldiers I see on CNN; he felt more real than most Joe figures I buy.  Plus his helmet had night vision goggles that could lowered to cover his face which was a pretty neat accessory.  With his helmet and goggles on he could be displayed as any generic desert trooper.  I passed on the accelerator suit and black padded uniform versions.  There was a Duke figure released in wave 1 of the Retaliation figures but I passed on that one to.  This is why I had to go back and review a Rise of Cobra Duke for you.Joe-Duke-retaliation poster

If you were to buy just one Channing Tatum Duke of the 9 that are now available I think this is the one to go for.  It’s actually a really nice figure.  The likeness is decent and it’s the only Duke with painted on stubble which gives him some more personality.  He’s even got his facial scar painted on his cheek.  The body sculpt is appropriately borrowed from the Joe’s standard desert trooper Dusty.  I found most of the movie Dukes looked too skinny but this figure’s torso is nicely bulked up by the removable vest.  He’s got a big backpack which fits nicely and provides secret storage for a couple of nanomite-warheads. Duke v33 backpack

The display base of this figure is neat but annoying.  Instead of the usual black rectangle, Duke comes with a dog-tag base to stand on.  It’s actually a really cool idea but it doesn’t match any of my other figures in my collection and so for that reason I wish they just gave him a standard base.   I actually think that this is one of the better figures from the Rise of Cobra line.  7 out of 10.

Joe-Duke-Channing shirtlessDuke v33 full2

SNAKE EYE v.63 (2013)

Joe-Snake eyes R fullG.I. JOE : RETALIATION

It would be impossible for me to do an entire G.I. Joe: Retaliation  themed week without covering a Snake Eyes figure.  This is the sixth Retaliation Snake Eyes released to date meaning he takes the cake over all other contenders like Roadblock, Firefly and Storm Shadow for most movie figures produced.  This should come as a surprise to no one as Snake Eyes has had more figures produced than any other G.I. Joe figure in the brand’s history.  This latest one is version 63.  Wow.  I own a lot of Joe toys but I don’t even own half of the available Snake Eyes figures.  That would be a lot of figures for any character to pull off but it’s especially tough for Snake Eyes because he’s a faceless ninja who’s gimmick is dressing entirely in black.  There’s only so many ways you can make an all-black ninja figure without repeating yourself; and Hasbro has repeated themselves many times over the course of releasing these 63 figures.  But what boggles my mind is how often they’re still able to come up with a new spin on the character that makes me need to own another Snake Eyes. Joe-Snake Eyes R weapons

When the modern era of Joe began with the release of the 25th anniversary collection (classic characters in their best known outfits) I had hoped that they’d get around to making all 3 versions of Snake Eyes that I cared about, the 1982 original commando look, the ’85 visored ninja look, and the ’89 version which was kind of a mix of the two.  It didn’t take long for Hasbro to release those 3 versions and then they just kept plodding along with a winter version (had to have it), trench coat version (had to have it), blue version (had to have it), city strike version (you get the picture) and so on and so on.  My collection became flooded with Snake Eyes variations, almost all of them cool and unique.  The standard Snake Eyes release from the first live action film, The Rise of Cobra, is one of the ones that I would classify as unique but not exactly cool.  I felt compelled to buy him because I was caught up in the hype but the rubber bodysuit and sculpted features on the facemask were pretty lame.  That was one of ROC’s many frustrating offenses.  How could they screw up the look of a character who has been given so many wicked cool costume designs over the years? Joe-Snake Eyes R movie still

Well this time around they got it right.  But they didn’t just take the look from the toys and comics and translate it to film.  They took elements of Snake Eyes’ many looks, put a new spin on it, and created one of the coolest looking Snake Eyes I have ever seen.  When I first saw Snake Eyes’ Retaliation costume I could’ve wept with joy.  Not only was it amazing looking but when compared to the Rise of Cobra version it was a god damn masterpiece.  I knew an awesome “must have” toy would soon follow. Joe-Snake Eyes R back

Sadly, the first wave of Retaliation figures gave us 4 Snake Eyes’ but none of them were film accurate.  I skipped the carded version and the one that came with a motorcycle but ended up getting the 3-pack version which was alright but nothing special.  I let “retaliation fever” get the better of me when I purchased the Ninja Commando 4×4 just to get my hands on this clunker of a Snake Eyes figure.  Well wave 2 has now arrived and brought us two more Snake Eyes figures and one of them is finally film accurate.

This is the first true Retaliation Snake Eyes and it is pretty darn sweet.  I absolutely love this mask design.  The classic visor is still there but it’s the inclusion of the mouth piece, made out of different material than the rest of the mask, that really shines here.  It gives the mask added texture and gives the character a believable way to breath.  It looks good on this figure but it looks absolutely stellar on film.Joe-Snake Eyes R back2

The body design is far superior to the rubber muscle suit he wore in the first movie.  This one is slimmer with strategically placed armored plates.  This makes much more sense for a ninja to wear as I’m sure being able to move freely is key.  It’s got a very Nolan-esque Batman vibe about it and it looks great.  The figure is almost entirely black but the excellent sculpting keep it from being boring.  There’s a bit of color added on the brown shoulders which  I don’t mind but I think they probably would’ve been better in black. Joe-Snake Eyes R swing

This Snake Eyes has some great accessories:  Uzi, two swords, a cool multi-piece backpack unlike any we’ve seen before, knives, pistols, and the obligatory retaliation rope accessory.  He’s got multiple holsters and sheaths so a lot of his weapons can be stored right on the figure.  His articulation is top notch giving him lots of movement and posing possibilities.  I have to be honest and tell you that there’s something about his posture that bothers me that I can’t quite put my finger on.  His arms seem to hang at his sides unnaturally when he’s standing in a neutral pose.  Maybe I’m crazy, I dunno.  Regardless, this is a one of those Snake Eyes figures that you must own.  The only way I would forgive you passing up on this one was if you were planning on spending your cash on the face-melting awesome sauce that is the Retaliation Snake Eyes 12” figure from Hot Toys.  9 out of 10.Joe-Snake Eyes R kickJoe-Snake Eyes R Hot toys

FIREFLY v.26 (2013)

Joe-Firefly v26 fullG. I. JOE : RETALIATION

In my last post I reviewed a Firefly figure from the upcoming film, G.I. Joe : Retaliation.  In this post I am going to review a Firefly figure from the upcoming film, G.I. Joe : Retaliation. No, this isn’t deja vu, this is marketing.  This is Hasbro pumping out multiple figures of the same characters, milking parents and collectors for all they’re worth.  When I was a kid it seemed crazy that I had accumulated 3 different versions of Roadblock over the first 6 years of collecting joe figures.  I thought that was overkill.  Well nowadays there are 20+ versions of Roadblock, Firefly and others to collect.  I have 3 Fireflys based on the Retaliation movie alone.  The first one sucked.  The second one was intended to represent the character as he appears in the film but until I see the film I won’t be sure how successful that was.  This third one, released in the Cobra Invasion Team 3-pack along with Tracksuit Storm Shadow and a Cobra Invasion trooper, is more of a nod to the 1984 original.  Joe-Firefly v26 torso

This is a very nice figure.  The base of the figure is simple but realistic with lots of sculpted in folds, pockets and straps.  He’s painted in the classic gray camouflage pattern that the character is known for.  He’s got the ribbed turtle neck sweater  under his jacket which in my mind is a must for any saboteur.  The head sculpt is also simple and effective with the classic ski-masked face.  He’s got great accessories: a grenade launcher, a shotgun, a pistol, a couple of knives, a backpack and some explosives.  His removable web gear fits him nicely and doesn’t get in the way of the pack.  The web gear is sculpted with grenades and pouches and even has removable explosives.  He has holsters on his legs to store a knife and pistol which is great as I love it when a figure can store most or all of his accessories. Yep, this is an excellent representation of Classic Firefly.Joe-Firefly v26 back

The problem being that we’ve had lots of great Classic Fireflys.  As cools as this figure is he doesn’t seem to bring anything new to the table.  At least the Firefly in my last review, while not as good as this one, included an unmasked head and a street sled and a new paint scheme.  Even the hella crappy Firefly from wave 1 gave us a new take on the uniform with a double breasted jacket look.  If you don’t have a dozen Firefly figures than this is a wicked figure for you to pick up.  For somebody like me who does have dozens, this kind of feels like more of the same.  I’m still not sure whether this figure will dethrone the 2007 figure as my display version.  I think that if this version had a camo mask to go along with his camo body then he would win the coveted spot, but since he doesn’t he’ll be relegated to the “doubles” shelf along with the other 2 Retaliation Fireflys.  8 out of 10.

2007 version vs 2013 version

2007 version vs 2013 version

FIREFLY v.25 (2013)

Joe-Firefly v25 fullG. I. JOE : RETALIATION

It’s time for yet another G.I. Joe: Retaliation figure review.  We’re less than a week away from the film’s release.  I’m a little annoyed to see the movie “Olympus has fallen”  come out the week before as it looks to contain some similar themes.  I’d hate to see it hurt Joe’s box office numbers because people think they look to similar. Oh well,  I guess we’ll know how that pans out soon enough.

Today I will be reviewing another version of Firefly, the Cobra saboteur.  Firefly is probably the most loved terrorist saboteur of all time.  The first Firefly figure was released in 1984 and it was action figure perfection at the time.  Firefly was too cool for school.   The full gray camo uniform, the cool submachine gun, the backpack with secret compartment, the portable phone!  This guy had it all.  He was portrayed as cunning and ruthless and you couldn’t help but love him.  If G.I Joe had a Boba Fett, it was be Firefly.  My brother Doug had the original Firefly figure and it was one of the figures of his that I most coveted.  As popular a character as he was he didn’t receive a second figure until 1992 and Doug and I had already moved on.  Not that we were missing much, to this day the stupid neon green Firefly version 2 remains one of the worst uniform ”upgrades” I can think off. Joe-Firefly v25 back

Firefly was one of those characters, like I mentioned in my Flint review the other day, that I did not own until I was all grown up.  When G.I. Joe was revived in 2002 I was 24 and I was ready to fall back in love with G.I. Joe.  Absence truly had made my heart grow fonder.  I was buying up all the figures that I could.  For the first time ever owned a ton of important characters I never had before because as kids Doug and I split the collection down the middle.  I grew up without Duke to call my own, can you imagine?  Firefly was one of the “new to me” characters that I was most excited about.  The first few attempts at revamping Firefly in the new-sculpt era weren’t so great but they did eventually release an amazing upgrade in 2005 which was basically the original 84 version with a slightly improved head and a fresh coat of paint.  That was my go-to Firefly.

When the modern sculpt style came into being in 2007 I thought Hasbro did a pretty good job on Firefly right off the bat.  The first modern Firefly, version 14, had his classic look and colors and I was content.  For some reason or another though some fans did not approve and they rallied for a better Firefly to be released.  Hasbro has taken a couple of stabs at him since (10) and I still think the 2007 is the best of the modern day Fireflys.  The last Firefly I got came packaged with a motorcycle as part of the initial wave of Retaliation figures and it was an absolute clusterf**k.  A disgrace to the character.  I don’t know why I didn’t just leave it on the shelf.  But nearly a year has passed since the Firefly version 24 debacle and now 2 more Fireflys have found their way into my collection as of last week.  Are they better? Are they worse?  Let’s find out…

Retaliation Fireflys

Retaliation Fireflys

Yes, of course it’s better.  Firefly version 24 was one of the worst Joe figures ever produced. I’d take the neon green version 2 Firefly over that guy any day.  This guy is much much better.  However he’s far from perfect.  This is actually a pretty weird Firefly and I’m curious as to what the designers were thinking when they came up with it.  It doesn’t look like any past versions of Firefly but there are some familiar elements.  It’s akind of hard to tell if this design is based off of his look in the film as screen shots are hard to come by.  However I found this one pic of his back which leads me to think that he does where something similar to this in the film.  Authenticity is appreciated but that doesn’t necessarily make it good.   His lower half is fine and not really worth talking about but his top half is just plain strange.  He’s got a green and gray camo jacket with yellow trim.  The back has a large tribal looking brown swirl and the front has a big red Cobra logo.  Another black Cobra logo graces the sleeve.  I don’t hate it, but it’s pretty busy.  His arms are cast in translucent plastic which is hardly noticeable but is still kind of weird.  Lastly the big buckled collar that he’s got around his neck seems to force his head forward giving him a slight hunch.  Joe-Firefly v25 movie

The head is one of the things that I actually like about this figure, sort of.  He’s got two different heads to choose from.  First there’s the standard full facemask head that you’d expect with a Firefly figure.  The head looks great and the matching green paint job ties it to jacket nicely.  The thing that bothers me about it is the green ski mask tends to make this look more like Beachhead figure than a Firefly.  Then there’s the alternate head which I was excited about and was the main reason I picked up this figure.  This is the first unmasked Firefly we’ve ever seen in the RAH toy line.  I really like the actor playing Firefly in the film, Ray Stevenson, who starred in Punisher: Warzone.Joe-Firefly v25 face front

I think he’s a great casting choice and I’m sure he’ll be amazing on screen.  The problem is that this head doesn’t really look like Ray Stevenson.  It’s about as good a likeness as the Flint head was to D.J. Cotrona.  In my Flint review I said that I’m fine with a generic looking face on a toy but that’s only if the face is good and suits the character.  I think this head looks too old to be Firefly.  The hunch is much more prominent with this head than it is with the masked head as well.  When I bought this figure I thought for sure I’d be displaying him unmasked but I no longer think so.

As for accessories Firefly comes with guns and knives of course, but he also comes with a rather impressively sized street sled.  It’s a 3 wheeled contraption that he lays on and then I guess he goes street luging.  The handle bars light up and the glow is supposed to travel into his arms, hence the translucent plastic but the effect doesn’t really work at all.  he also comes with a translucent yellow canister which I believe is supposed to contain those robotic bugs we saw in the first trailer.Joe-Firefly v25 sled

This is not the best looking Firefly in my collection but he brings some interesting things to the table.  6 out of 10.Joe-Firefly v25 face

AGENT MOUSE v.1 (2013)

Joe-Mouse v1 fullG.I. JOE : RETALIATION

The whole point of me doing a G.I. Joe : Retaliation themed week here at Mike’s Collection was to get you excited about the upcoming movie and the movie-based toys.  Therefore I probably shouldn’t have started off the week with the crappy figures.  I was actually all set to review another crappy figure for you today when I realized how negative the last couple of reviews were.  So I decided to juggle things around and review a Retaliation figure that I’m quite happy with.  In my last post I told you about the two latest 3-packs I scored at Toys R Us.  There was a Cobra themed pack and a Joe themed pack, inappropriately called the “G.I. Joe Tactical Ninja Team”.  The Joe pack included yet another Snake Eyes (the set’s only ninja), a franken-joed new version of Airborne, and this Joe newcomer, Agent Mouse.

The Snake-Eyes is pretty cool but nothing new, and the Airborne is alright but too far removed from the Airborne I know and love.  The star of the set is Mouse and no one is more surprised by that than me. Joe-Mouse v1 head

Agent Mouse is a brand new character being introduced in Retaliation.  He has no basis in either the cartoons or the comics and there has never been a Mouse figure released prior to this.  Months ago, when news of actor Joseph Mazzello being cast as “Mouse” in the upcoming Joe sequel hit the internet, Joe fans began to freak out.  Who the hell is Mouse?  Rumors immediately started circulating that the studio forced director John Chu to include some young heart throb in the movie to woo young ladies into the theaters.  With a roster of hundreds of Joes to choose from why create some new character, with a stupid code name no less, to fill one of the coveted movie slots?  Fans were angry.  NERD RAGE!

Fortunately that subsided quickly.  Seeing as Mouse doesn’t appear in the movie trailers (other than for a split second) fans now believe that it’s probably a very small role.  A role that probably ends in death during the opening scenes of the movie, as the trailer shows the Joe team being decimated early on by a strike ordered by President Zartan.  So if that is the case then I appreciate that the filmmakers created a new “named” Joe to spew a couple of lines before getting wasted.  If they named him Mainframe or Airtight I’d be much sadder to see him go.  And so Agent Mouse, I welcome you to the G.I. Joe team. R.I.P. Joe-Mouse v1 movie still

If this Mazzello kid looks kind of familiar to you but you can’t place him it’s because he’s grown up since the last time you saw him.  Joseph played Tim Murphy in Jurassic Park.   Apparently he’s done plenty of acting since but he was completely off of my radar until I recognized him in the Social Network a couple years ago.  His role in that flick was small but good and I think he’ll make an excellent Agent Mouse. Joe-Mouse v1 Jurassic

I know this figure doesn’t look like much but it’s my favorite from the two 3-packs, and probably my favorite out of the wave 2 single figures I’ve recently acquired as well.  There’s something to be said for being new.  I love getting new versions of old classic characters but recycling characters over and over again in new outfits gets boring.  That’s where G.I. Joe has a huge advantage over brands like Batman and Ninja Turtles.  They can keep adding new characters and it doesn’t seem forced, it’s the army.  New faces are a must and I’m always happy when I see new characters peppered into waves of familiar figures.  I try to display my Joes as such:  All the unique Joes on 1 bookshelf and all my unique Cobras on another.  When I get repeat characters I display them on my doubles shelf.  The doubles shelf is where you’ll find clumps of Cobra Commanders, Snake Eyes’, and Storm Shadows.  More and more these days I find myself cramming new purchases onto the doubles shelf.  Adding a brand new character to my teams rosters is much more satisfying.Joe-Mouse v1 group

The figure has a great sculpt with a ton of detail from straps and pouches to wrinkles in the fabric.  Most of the pieces come from the wave 1 G.I. Joe Trooper which makes since considering that’s probably all Agent Mouse is really.  The tan uniform makes for a much more believable base uniform than the black X-Men suits the Joes wore in the first movie.  However the black and blue vest that Mouse comes with is reminiscent of the padded gear from Rise of Cobra and I appreciate that link, whether it was intended or not.  The head sculpt on this figure is fantastic.  It does a great job of                                                                                                                                                            capturing the look of the actor.

Joe-Mouse v1 hang

Mouse comes with a helmet which has a futuristic vibe to it.  It sits nicely on his head.  He comes with two guns which are molded in a goldish yellow which is kind of odd but at least I can quickly pick them out of a pile of weapons.  He also comes with one of the rope sliding grapple backpack accessories which are prevalent amongst the Retaliation figures.  As I said before, it’s cool for kids but does little for me.  Into the bin it goes.  All in all it’s a nice looking, fun figure and I would recommend you pick up the 3-pack to get it.                         8 out of 10.Joe-Mouse v1 calendar

STORM SHADOW v.47 (2013)

Joe-Storm Shadow R fullG.I. JOE : RETALIATION

Retaliation Week Continues!  I’ve got another hot-off-the-presses G.I. Joe: Retaliation action figure to review.  Today We’ve got Storm Shadow, the Cobra organization’s premiere ninja.  This figure was included in a 3-pack labelled “Cobra Invasion Team” along with Firefly and a Cobra Paratrooper.  I picked this up at my local Toys R Us last weekend after I got a hot tip from my pal Glen that they were in stock.  He also told me that the Joe KRE-O sets were now 25% off.  I had bought the whole series of KRE-Os  already but with proof of purchase Toys R Us was willing to honor the price drop since it was within 14 days of my purchase.  I ended up getting over $50 back in store credit which almost completely covered the cost of the two new 3-packs.  Score!  It was pretty cool of Toys R Us to do that for me, especially because I had thrown out my receipt.  Luckily they were able to look it up on their records and match the transaction to my credit card.  The lady that had to punch in all the UPCs manually to adjust the charges didn’t seem to thrilled about the process, which ended up taking 10 minutes, but I very much appreciated it. Joe-Storm Shadow R movie still

So was I excited to get my hands on 6 new Retaliation figures purchased at retail?  Hell yes!  I love getting stuff in the mail but finding it at the store is so immediate and it feels like a little victory.  It’s like the difference between hearing your favorite song on the radio unexpectedly as opposed to playing it on your ipod.   So did these 6 figures warrant the excitement?  Meh, I’m still undecided, they’re kind of a mixed bag for me.

Joe-Storm Shadow R bow

There are a ton of re-used parts in these sets, and the character selection is far from mind-blowing.  I’ll touch on the good and bad points of the other figures in reviews throughout the week but for now let’s focus on Storm Shadow.  This is the fourth Retaliation Storm Shadow to be released and the movie isn’t even out yet.  It just goes to show you how things have changed since I was a kid.  Back then, even the most popular characters only got remade every few years.  Nowadays it seems like I have to buy a new Storm Shadow every few weeks.  The first two Storm Shadow figures that came out in wave 1 (1 carded and 1 in a 3-pack) were awesome.  They were actually the same figure just painted differently but they were both really cool looking.  The single packed Storm Shadow actually made my top 12 toys of 2012 list.  Sadly I think it’s safe to say that these two most recent Storm Shadow figures won’t be making my 2013 list.  The latest single carded Stormy really suffers in the articulation department but I’ll talk about that in an upcoming review.  This 3-pack version moves alright, he just looks stupid.Joe-Storm R tracksuit

This guy doesn’t look ninja to me and he doesn’t look military.  He looks like a douche-bag in a track suit.

We’ve gotten so many great ninja sculpts lately that this figure is a huge step backwards.  He might not have seemed so bad had he been released a couple of years ago but compared to the red ninjas and the early Retaliation Storm Shadows we’ve gotten recently, this guy looks like a chump.  He’s pretty much solid white with a bit of gray on his sides and a gray mouth piece.  The all-white look is pretty boring considering the lack of detail in the sculpt but I wish they had at least kept him solid white.  The grey spot on the face is just weird looking.Joe-Storm Shadow R compare

One thing this figure has going for him is his weapons.  His backpack is reminiscent of the one that came with the very first Storm Shadow figure back in 1984.  It sits angled on his back and his two swords can be stored inside.  The pack acts as a quiver for his arrows, most of which are just sculpted into the pack, but there is one individual arrow included.  The way this Storm Shadow’s hands are shaped allows him to hold his bow and arrow fairly realistically.  But that’s about the only positive thing I have to say here.  If you’re in the market for a wicked cool Storm Shadow figure don’t bother with this one.  Save up $200 and pick up the upcoming Storm Shadow from Hot Toys.  3 out of 10.

Joe-Storm Shadow Hot toys

FLINT v19 (2013)

Joe-Flint R fullG.I. JOE : RETALIATION

Yesterday I began Retaliation week with a review of the 1985 Lady Jaye figure.  Today I’ll be reviewing Jaye’s boyfriend (or husband depending on which continuity you’re following), G.I. Joe Warrant Officer Dashiell Faireborn, codename: Flint.   Both of these character will be appearing in G.I. Joe : Retaliation when it hits theaters in 7 days.  Lady’s Jaye’s movie figure hasn’t been released yet so I had to go old school yesterday.  I was worried that could have been the case with Flint too because the movie’s release date was drawing near and none of my local stores had gotten in their Retaliation figures yet.  Luckily Big Bad Toy Store had them in stock and were able to ship to me them relatively fast and thus I am able to review a brand new Retaliation Flint figure for you today.Joe-Flint R face

Before I start talking about the figure I would like to quickly touch on the packaging.  I may have mentioned this in one of my Retaliation figure reviews last year but these movie figures mark the first time that Real American Hero (RAH) Joes do not include file cards.  The packages are completely generic.  Not only are there no file cards but there’s no unique character artwork either.  It’s kind of a shame because the stellar, character-specific packaging was one of the things that made Joe great back in the day.  The file cards gave kids some insight into what the character’s background was, his military specialty, his real name and his home town.  They were almost as collectible as the figures themselves and like many collectors I still have every file card from every figure I ever owned.  On the flip side of that coin, I‘m kind of happy to be able to tear into these toys and then discard the packaging.  After 30 years of collecting I’ve accumulated a hefty pile of Joe card backs and file cards.  Storing them is becoming a problem.  I hope the individual packaging returns after the movie line runs its course but in the meantime it’s nice to take a break from worrying about folded corners or tears on the packaging. Joe-Flint retaliation poster

Now a quick little bit of Flint history.  Flint, like Lady Jaye, was first released in 1985.  After being introduced during  “The Revenge of Cobra” mini-series Flint became a mainstay of the show.  I always liked Flint but Doug owned the 1985 figure so that kept me from loving him.  He felt like Doug’s character instead of mine.  I don’t know if that makes sense but it’s true.  It wasn’t until the Joe revival of 2002 that I finally owned key characters like Flint, Destro and Zartan for the first time.  After that they finally didn’t feel like Doug’s characters anymore.  The original Flint figure was pretty awesome but he had an odd grin on his face which didn’t match up with his tough and serious attitude from the show.  The animated Flint was awesome, brought to life by another amazing voice actor, Bill Ratner who’s voice you’d probably recognize from movie trailers.

Flint had lots of memorable moments, including some great covers, from the original Marvel comic run of G.I. Joe.  In the Devil’s Due Joe comics Flint and Lady Jaye were married and after she was killed by the Red Shadows (spoiler alert from 10 years ago!) Flint turned into a mean and vengeful s.o.b.  Some people didn’t care for this darker version of Flint but so long as Caselli was drawing him I didn’t mind.Joe-Flint R caselli

There have been some good, some bad, and some ugly Flint figures released over the years.  I wish I could say this latest one was one of the good ones but I’m afraid I can’t.  Not to say it’s bad either.  I think I’m gonna have to put this one in the ugly category.  I actually really like the head sculpt.  I don’t think that it’s as good a likeness of actor D.J. Cotrona as it could have been but that’s okay with me.  When toys look too much like a specific actor they stop feeling like that character to me and just seem like a figure of the actor.  The upcoming Bruce Willis figure from G.I. Joe: Retaliation is a good example.  It looks great and I’m stoked to get a Bruce Willis G.I. Joe but that’s all it will ever seem like to me, not a Joe Colton.  This figure looks enough like DJ to get a pass, but it also looks general enough to be an everyman.  The best thing about this whole figure is that Flint’s beret is removable for the first time, and it looks great.  I was worried the removable beret would be bulky and weird looking but it fits perfectly; good job Hasbro.

HAT SWAP!!

HAT SWAP!!

Where this figure suffers is in the body.  It’s the same body they used for the Duke in wave 1, which is one of the two figures I passed on from that wave.  The reason I passed on it is because it was scrawny and the solid green paint scheme was boring and crappy looking.  Those same problems apply here but I like Flint more than Duke so I caved this time around (plus I wanted that beret).  The head looks oversized on this body, even more so when you remove the web gear (which the Duke did not have).  The web gear helped to bulk the torso up but the lower half is still weak.  A decent paint job would have gone a long way in salvaging this figure but the solid sea-foamy green/blue color scheme misses the mark for me big time.  I’d rather him be wearing an accelerator suit than this bland uniform.  Luckily a figure called “Ultimate Flint” was shown by Hasbro at the 2013 Toy Fair this past February and it looks amazing so this lackluster Flint won’t be at the front of the shelf for long.Joe-Flint R-compare

As far as accessories go Flint has a couple of guns, the aforementioned beret and web gear, and also a repelling rope backpack.  I’m not exactly sure how it works and couldn’t be bothered to figure it out.  A lot of the movie figures have come with rope based accessories.  They seem well put together and would probably be a ton of fun for kids but I have little use for them.   One accessory that is sorely missed is the display stand.  Joes and Marvel Universe figures were coming with individually named display stands for years but Hasbro seems to have suddenly abandoned the practice.  Not cool.  Luckily there’s a great site called smalljoes.com that sells nice generic bases with multiple pegs that come in black or clear.  You can see one in this review here.  Looks like I’ll be ordering a few more in the near future.  Sadly I must give our man Flint a 4 out of 10.

Check out this pic, Does Storm Shadow team-up with the Joes?!  Holy Crap I can’t wait to see this!!Joe-Flint R movieJoe-Flint R rope

LADY JAYE v1 (1985)

Joe-Lady Jaye v1 fullG.I. JOE

Today is May 20th , the first day of Spring.  You wouldn’t know it by the snow storm I woke up to this morning but what can you do, that`s just Canada, eh.  The reason I’m pointing out the date is because it means that we are just a mere 8 days from the release of G.I. Joe: Retaliation.  I’ve been stoked about this movie for so long now that knowing that I’ll be seeing it in a week is almost bitter sweet.  I’ll miss that excitement that I’ve been carrying around with me since it was first anounced.  But, so long as the movie performs well I suppose I can start getting excited about the inevitable sequel.   When this movie was originally slated to come out, in June of last year, I had a Retaliation figure review week.  I did that in part because I was excited about the figures and wanted to talk about them and in part to get you guys as excited as I was about seeing the film.  Because even if the movie ends up sucking, there will be a sequel so long as it makes a ton of cash.  Which is why I want you all to go see it, multiple times if necessary, because we need to keep this franchise alive.  I was just as  excited before the first movie came out but there was trepidation mixed with the excitement.  There were so many red flags raised prior to the release the first film: Stephen Sommers, Marlon Wayans, Cobra Commander’s outfit, the absence of Cobra, Nano-mites, Accelerator suits, Channing Tatum, etcetera, etcetera.  The sad thing is, all the things I was worried would suck, did suck.  And yet somehow I still enjoyed that film, and have continued to enjoy it through multiple viewings.  The fact that this upcoming movie has almost no red flags leads me to believe that it is going to be totally epic. Joe-Lady Jaye v1 animated

So let’s get on with the figure review.  I have acquired the second wave of Retaliation figures, five single packs and two 3-packs, so I’ve got lots of toys to review.  However, most of the characters from wave 2 are the same characters that we saw in wave 1.  I’ve got yet another Roadblock, Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow, and Firefly.  There are some new movie characters like Flint and Mouse that I will get to in the next couple of days but to start off Retaliation week I thought I’d try something a little different.  One of the new characters being introduced in this film is Lady Jaye.  Her “real name” is Alison Hart-Burnett and she is a classic, fan-favorite Joe character who was first introduced way back in 1985.  She’s been released multiple times since then and she has a Retaliation figure coming out in the next wave, but since I don’t have that one yet  I decided to review the original.  Good ‘ol 1985, arguably the best year ever for G.I. Joe toys.Joe-Lady Jaye-Retaliation poster

After being introduced Lady Jaye quickly took on a starring role in the animated series and in the comics.  Her budding romance with fellow ’85 newcomer Flint gave the show a romantic spin which I’m not embarrassed to admit that I enjoyed.  Lady Jaye was the first female Joe I owned.  My brother Doug owned Scarlett and Cover Girl so I was excited to finally have a bad-ass chick on my side of the PIT.  This figure was vastly superior to those earlier female figures, with way more detail in the costume, but she still failed to represent the character as she appeared on screen.  Joe sculptors in the 80s just could not seem to make a pretty girl action figure.  The ‘85 Jaye is kind of frumpy, her face is masculine, and she’s got a ball cap permanently attached to her head; a hat we never saw in the cartoon.  But she did have some cool accessories in her over the shoulder camera, her javelin gun, and a compact little backpack.  The colors might be considered rather loud by some but I really liked the bright green used on Jaye’s uniform.  This figure was decent but I always  wanted a Lady Jaye that looked how she appeared in the cartoons with wind tousled hair and an arsenal of explosive javelins.  It took 20 years but we finally got that version in the 25th anniversary series.  Despite the flaws in this original figure I still love it.  It holds a ton of great memories for me.  Now that I have my Joes out as display pieces the looks are more important to me.  As a kid I didn’t mind as much that this Jaye figure was a little manly.  In my head I imaged her as she appeared on the show.  With that great raspy voice provided by voice actor Mary McDonald Lewis. Joe-Ladt Jaye-Retaliation poster

I am very glad to see “my” Joe girls in action in this second film as Jinx also plays a role in Retaliation.  Fingers crossed for Zarana in the next flick.

Now let’s talk about the actress who is portraying my beloved Lady Jaye in Retaliation, Adrianne Palicki.  I had never heard of her prior to the announcement that she was cast in this role.  I had never heard of the actor cast to play Flint either, D.J. Cotrona.  Apparently both of them have some nerd cred as Adrienne played Wonder Woman in a failed TV pilot and Cotrona was set to play Superman in the Justice League movie that fizzled out a few years back.  Adrianne doesn’t look like Jaye to me, and D.J. doesn’t look like Flint either(too young) but I can’t say that it’s poor casting as I’m not familiar with either of the work.  The more I see of them as these characters in the trailers and TV spots though, the more convinced I am that they’re great choices.  Cotrona especially is starting to grow on me as Flint.  The most important thing is that these two are believable together.  They MUST have better chemistry than that god awful Scarlett/Ripcord relationship from the Rise of Cobra.  And they have to look like they’d actually be together.  I hated the casting of Jean and Cyclops in the original X-Men trilogy because they didn’t seem like a believable couple to me, despite the fact that I liked both actors.  I don’t know if Jaye and Flint will have any sort of romantic relationship in the film but there had better at least be some flirting.Adrianne-Palicki-1920X1200-34200 adrianne-palicki. (2)

When I first saw the promotional shots of Palicki as Lady Jaye I thought she was pretty hot but not Mega hot.  I googled her to find some pictures to add to this post and I have changed my mind, she is MEGA hot.  I ended up finding so many pics that I wanted to post that I hardly had any room left to post pictures of the action figure.  If these photos aren’t enough to get you to go see Retaliation next week then nothing will.  Lady Jaye: 7 out of 10.  Adrianne Palicki: 10 out of 10.adrianne-palicki-1Adrienne 1