Monthly Archives: January 2014

IRON SPIDER-MAN (8″)

Marv-FC Iron fullMARVEL : SPIDER-MAN ORIGINS

I recently had a birthday as you probably already know if you read this blog regularly.  On my actual birthday I went out to my parent’s house for dinner.  My folks bought me a Star Wars themed poker set with a light up case which was pretty cool, my sisters Katie and Angie got me some booze and a bunch of candy, and my brother Doug bought me a Pop! Batman figure complete with Batmobile which I plan to review soon.

The next night I hosted a birthday party with all my friends.  I had a pretty good turn out and while I told people not to bring gifts I still scored big courtesy of my good pals who don’t follow instructions very well. I got plenty of booze and lots of  birthday cards poking fun of my age but as far as “blogable” things go Andrew Vaughan is the only one who “brought it” that night.  Andrew got me not one, but two, Spider-Man dolls.  It was a nice surprise as they’re really cool figures and I’d never seen them before. Marv-FC Iron box

 

In the late 90s Toy Biz put out a line of 8” Marvel dolls under the banner “Famous Covers”.  They were designed as an homage to the Mego toys of the 70s with real cloth clothing.  The Famous Covers figures had very nice re-sealable packaging and were geared towards collectors.  I own 4 of them; Spider-Girl, Green Goblin, Magneto, and Daredevil.  The Daredevil was one of the very first toys I reviewed for this blog way back in December 2011 and I may have been a little harsh on him.  he deserved higher than the 4 I gave him.

However, I wouldn’t exactly say that the Famous Covers dolls look cool.  The supposed-to-be-tight-but-often-saggy real clothing paired with oversized rubber boots and mittens was not a flattering look. The expressions sculpted on their faces were sometimes a little over the top as well.  They lacked the detail one would expect to find on a premium line of super hero dolls geared towards collectors.  They almost looked silly.  But that’s exactly why I think they’re awesome.  Not everything needs to be photorealistic and gritty.  Famous Cover dolls were unapologetically bright and goofy and, most importantly, fun.  I would’ve loved to have a ton of them as a kid. Marv-FC Iron back

Sadly the Famous Covers line has been dead for many years now.  I believe Toy Biz produced nearly 40 figures in total.  It might actually be a fun line to go back and try to complete one day.  However, when I opened my gift from Andrew I discovered that the Famous Covers line wasn’t as dead as I thought it was.  Apparently it had gone through a bit of a makeover a few years back.  This Iron Spider-Man figure was produced by Hasbro under the banner “Spider-Man Origins”. The copyright on the box reads 2006 which is quite a few years after the last Famous Covers figures were produced by Toy Biz.  I’m not sure how many figures Hasbro produced in this scale but the back of the package shows that at least 8 Origins figures were released.Marv-FC Iron side

If you’re wondering “what the hell is an Iron Spider-Man?” allow me to quickly explain.  During the Civil War story line of 2006-2007 the Marvel heroes were divided on their stance regarding the government mandated registration of super heroes.  Captain America lead those who were opposed and Iron Man led those who were pro registration. To help rally heroes to his cause Iron Man convinced Peter Parker to unmask himself in front of the world.  After that, Tony Stark gifted this highly advanced Iron Spider-Man suit to Peter.  The red and gold costume showed the solidarity between Spidey and Tony.  Peter eventually flip flopped and ditched the costume but fans seemed to like it and so it’s been made into action figure form several times.  I previously reviewed the 4″ Marvel Universe version.

I like the Iron Spider-Man look but I’m glad it was short lived.  This doll presents the look nicely.  The costume fits quite well and the figure itself has an appropriately Spider-Man like physique.

Marv-FC Iron websThe articulation is pretty standard for the Mego style construction which is to say that it’s good but not great; the cloth costumes hinders the movement some.  This figure has articulated fingers which is nice but they missed the boat by not giving him hands that can be posed for web shooting.  The head is simple but really well done with a metallic sheen to it.  Then of course there’s the 3 (yes 3) spider legs that attach to his back.  They snap into place and can be swiveled around but it would have been nice if there was at least one extra joint per leg.

Overall, I really like this figure.  It’s a throwback to  70’s Megos, 90’s Famous Covers and the 2006 Civil War story line; all of which were good things.  Much appreciated Andy, Thank you.  9 out of 10Marv-FC Iron choke

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SAGA CROC (ALDYLE) clear variant

BS-Croc clearBEAST SAGA

I know I’ve mentioned it a few times before but I now I truly believe that the Beast Saga toy line is dead.  Starting in the Fall of 2012, the figures were solicited in droves; one wave after the next.  That initial explosion of product lasted into the spring. But for the past year there’s been basically no news on the future of the line at all.  The final figure that I pre-ordered, the Kangaroo, kept having it’s release date pushed back until the pre-order was eventually cancelled by the e-tailer.  So that’s that.  I’m left with a decent collection of nearly 50 figures but I guess that’s where it ends.  Therefore I’ll have to review them a little more sparingly so I don’t run out of them too soon.

Every figure in the line was available as a standard figure, like this, but also as a clear variant, like this.  The clear figures were available only in blind packs so you never knew what figure you were gonna get.  These toys aren’t overly expensive but considering that they’re only available online you need to factor in the shipping which makes each figure’s cost around 10 to 12 bucks; and that’s a lot for figures as small as this.  For that reason I didn’t go nuts ordering a bunch of blind packs.  I didn’t want to pay hefty online prices only to end up with a bunch of doubles.  Doubles that nobody in my area would even want to take off my hands. So with each new wave I only ordered 2 blind packs and hoped to get 2 different figures.  It worked out well and I didn’t end up saddled with any clear figures doubles.BS-Croc clear card

However my craving for new Beast Saga figures went unanswered for months so I began ordering a couple additional blind packs every time I made an order with BigBadToyStore.  I did eventually start getting duplicates.  I now have clear doubles of the bird and the turtle, but at least those are two of my favorite figures from the line.

I was surprised a couple of months ago when I stumbled upon a Beast Saga listing on BBTS’s site that I hadn’t seen before.  It was a 3-pack of clear figures that weren’t blind packed.  The set featured 3 aquatic characters, the shark, the crocodile, and the killer whale.  What was even more interesting was that these clear versions were different than the clear variants of those characters that had been available previously in the blind packs.  While the clear variants don’t really do a whole lot for me discovering this pack felt like I had uncovered a lost trio of figures from this unappreciated and forgotten toy line.  I was very happy to place my order, especially since I didn’t already own any of these characters’ blind packed variants.

BS-Croc clear pairMy 3-pack arrived just before Christmas.  The shark is probably the best one from the pack.  He’s sculpted in a dark black translucent plastic which makes him look quite a bit different from the standard release shark figure who had white and gray skin.  I can totally see the black shark as a unique character. The killer whale is sculpted in a weird light purple plastic.  I don’t love it but, again, it makes him look quite a bit different than the standard killer whale.  This clear croc variant is probably my least favorite from the pack because it looks fairly similar to the standard figure since his skin is still green.  However the armor is now black now instead of blue and there are some gold highlights which keep the figure from being too plain looking.BS-Croc clear light

The sculpt is nice with a great crocodile head and fairly simple armor.  The chest plate is riveted and looks kind of like a tank and the shoulders have a toothy crocodile mouth design.  It’s a pretty cool toy but there’s not too much to get excited about here if you already have the standard figure.  Though the see-through effect is pretty neat when he’s placed in front of a light source.  As a big fan of this line I imagine I will eventually track down all of the clear variants.  7 out of 10.

COMIC BOOK COLLECTION

comic boxesCOMICS

While this site is devoted solely to my action figure collection I have many other collections as well, such as music and movies.  I also have a sizable comic book collection which I hauled out in preparation of my coming move.  Most of these boxes are full of old Marvel stuff.  I haven’t missed an issue of Spider-Man since I was 8.  I have full runs of Web of Spider-Man, Spectacular Spider-Man, Sensational Spider-Man, Peter Parker: Spider-Man, and many more.  Not to mention approximately 500 issues of Amazing Spider-Man.  Then there’s also full runs of Silver Surfer, Guardians of the Galaxy, and many other smaller titles. 001

Dragging all of these boxes out of the closets they were hiding in was exhausting and I feel I may have to do a serious purge either before the move or after.  I’m not sure I’ll have enough room for all of these in my new apartment.  The thought of letting anything go, even Super Pro, makes me sad.

TEARIN’ TIGER CHARIOT

BB-Tiger chariot side2BATTLE BEASTS

One of the main reasons why I started this blog 2 years ago was because I wanted to write more.  To that end I would say that it’s been a success.  I’ve written over 500 reviews now and even I’m surprised by how much I’m still able to ramble on about action figures.  A side effect of writing about all these toys is that it’s made me into an even more passionate toy collector than I was previously.  I’m always buying random odds and ends and expensive exclusives and I do it all with the justification that they’re “for the blog”.

As an adult toy collector I’ve only ever really collected new product.  I still have a bunch of old toys from my youth but my adult collector phase, which started in the late 90s with the new Star Wars figures, has consisted primarily of me buying the latest and greatest figures.  From Star Wars my collecting carried on into the 2000s with the rebirth of G.I. Joe and Masters of the Universe, lines that I continue to collect today.  There’s no shortage of new figures coming out each and every month to keep me collecting and writing for ages.  However, writing this blog has also rekindled my interest in older toys.  I find myself scooping up vintage Joes and He-Men with greater frequency lately.BB-Tiger chariot front

One of the toy lines I loved as a kid was Takara’s Battle Beasts. It was the only toy line of my youth that I collected alone; everything else I split down the middle with my big brother Doug.  Even after Doug and I stopped collecting together around 1990 I turned to my little brother Brian to help me bear the weight of Toy Biz’s vast Marvel output.

Battle Beasts were tiny figures with minimal articulation and a wood/fire/water (rock/paper/scissor) play pattern that didn’t interest me.  The appeal of them came from the fact that they were anthropomorphic animals with swords and battle armour; how could you not love them?  I think that if they had gotten a cartoon they would’ve been huge in the 80s and hipsters today would be strutting around in Battle Beast t-shirts.  Sadly they did not receive any major media tie-ins and so they’re a mostly forgotten footnote in the world of 1980s action figures.

BB-Tiger chariot sideThere were 3 waves of standard figures released in North America totaling 76 figures.  After that a series of Laser Beasts was released overseas but only 12 of those figures ever made it to our shores.  The Laser Beasts that never saw release in America now sell for big bucks online; I’m talking hundreds of dollars each.  Of the 88 figures released in America I had acquired about 90% of them as a kid.  I would’ve loved to have them all but back in those days if you couldn’t find what you were looking for at your local K-Mart then you were outta luck.

By the time the internet became a thing and online auctions made finding old toys much easier, completing my Battle Beast collection had fallen pretty low on my list of priorities. I could’ve bought the few remaining figures I needed years ago but it wasn’t until I started writing this blog that it suddenly seemed an essential thing to do.  Within the first year of blogging I tracked down all of the remaining figures.  I even found a few of them right here in Halifax by way of a classified ad. BB-Tiger chariot loaded

My complete Battle Beast collection is now proudly displayed on my wall.  And yet, even after my acquisition of Pugnacious Penguin, the last figure I needed, I felt as though something was missing.  That’s when I got it in my head that to truly boast having a complete American Battle Beast collection I must hunt down the vehicles and playsets.  There were 3 chariots and 3 headquarter playsets released back in the day and I had one of each.  I have the Big Horn Chariot which was perfect since Battle Ram was the leader of my evil army.  It seemed appropriate that he was the only beast with a ride.  That left me needing the Deer and Tiger chariots.

Of the playsets I have the Shark which was intended as the base for the water powered beasts.  That leaves me needing the fire-themed Phoenix and the wood-themed Wood Beetle.  The playsets can be a little on the expensive side but I hope to track them down eventually.BB-Tiger chariot art

I recently stumbled across this modestly priced Tiger chariot in an online toy store I frequent.  I was pretty stoked to have it arrive in the mail the other day.  Vehicles don’t usually do it for me but this is a vehicle with a lot of personality.  The design is quite simple and blocky.  The back slides out so you can place a figure in the cockpit and then it slides back in to hold him in place.  There are two bars on either side which can be flipped out and used to house other figures who must hold on for dear life with the strength of their armpits.  The chariot can be revved backwards and released to have it tear across your kitchen floor with its jaws chomping.

Battle Tiger is packed away for the move so Saga Tiger had to fill in.

Battle Tiger is packed away for the move so Saga Tiger had to fill in.

This toy is simple but it’s fun and it looks cool.  This one is actually in great condition too.  It makes me wonder about Battle Tiger’s role in my Battle Beast universe.  I always viewed him as just another soldier but does the fact that he is now my only good guy with his own car mean he just moved up into a position of power?  Will he challenge Battle Rhino for the right to lead?  Does he stand a chance at winning?  Would the others follow him? So many questions.  If only I was 8 then I could dump the figures out on my bedroom floor and play it out but since I’m 36 I think I’ll go watch TV instead.  7 out of 10.

COCKROACH TERMINATOR (2013)

TMNT-Cock fullTEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES

I’m a Ninja Turtles fan but not to the extent that I’m a G.I. Joe or Transformers fan.  The TMNT came along a bit later in my childhood so I didn’t get as attached to them.  I had a handful of the toys as a kid but I only held on to a couple of my favorites.  But when Playmates unveiled their really cool new turtle figures in 2012, based on the new Nickelodeon cartoon, I was stoked about getting updated versions of the heroes in a half shell.  I don’t think Leonardo and the gang have ever looked better.  However I had no intention of collecting the modern TMNT toy line. I passed on Shredder, Krang, April, the Foot Soldier and Splinter from that first wave of toys; I was content with my 4 turtles.  But then Metalhead came out and he was really cool looking so I got him.  And then Leatherhead came out and he was cool too so I bought him.  It seemed a small collection was taking shape.TMNT-cock face

All of the stores in my area are completely bogged down with multiple variations of the 4 turtles.  You can get them with Battle Shells, Power Sounds, or Stealth Tech.  There are pegs and pegs full of Donnie, Mikie, Leo and Raph. Most of the other characters have proven quite difficult to find: at least at first.  Metalhead and Letherhead are both plentiful now but back when I first got them they were a hot commodity.

My nephew Alex (Doug’s kid) is collecting the entire Ninja Turtle line.  Doug has asked me on a few occasions to keep my eyes peeled for the latest figures since they tend to be so elusive initially.  For months he had me looking for Rat King, which I eventually found for him at Giant Robot Comics.  The next one he had me hunting for was Cockroach Terminator.TMNT-Cock back

I had no idea who Cockroach Terminator was so I wasn’t sure what I was looking for.  I looked him up and discovered that he’s a giant cyborg bug; I suppose I could’ve guessed that from the name.  Cockroach Terminator is a brand new creation of the Nickelodeon series.  He did not appear in the old comics or cartoons so I have no nostalgic attachment to the character whats-so-ever.

Just before the holidays I was in Walmart and I spotted ol’ CT on the pegs.  I looked him over and wasn’t overly impressed.  They only had two of him in stock.  If they had had a dozen of them I would’ve grabbed one for Alex and been done with it but because there were only 2 and I was aware of how hard he was to find I decided that I’d better get one for myself too.  I’d hate to have passed him up only to regret in later if I suddenly decided I wanted him.  That has happened to me before. I find you don’t regret the things you do buy, only the things you don’t.

So I got him home and opened him up and…meh.  Still not impressed.  He’s a good size, taller than any of the other TMNT figures in the line, so he has that going for him.  I wish Playmates had made the Leatherhead figure larger as he’s quite imposing in the animated series but kinda shrimpy in toy form. TMNT-Cock arms

Other than the size of him I find there’s very little to get excited about.  He’s relatively plain looking.  This guy is a cyborg so he has a few cybernetic enhancements, most noticeably the eye, but other than that there are few signs of robotic modification.  He’s got a metal antennae on his head, some exposed wires in his armpits, and a couple of other minor metal protrusions.  I think they could’ve done a lot more with the concept.

The articulation on the turtle figures from this line was great but it’s been sorely lacking on the supporting cast.  This figure is articulated at the neck, shoulders, elbows, and upper legs.  The leg joints just plain suck.  They look like they’re ball jointed but they’re very limited with only side-to-side movement.  He also has a dinky little extra arm on his right side that can be moved a bit but it’s pretty pointless.  There’s a gaping hole in his chest for some reason I don’t understand.   He came with a buzz saw on a stick which fits through the hole but it doesn’t snap into place or anything; it just kind of sits there.  I don’t see the point of it but i assume it’s a weapon he had in the cartoon.  I immediately chucked the useless accessory into my parts bin where it will likley never see the light of day again.  I couldn’t be bother to dig it out for this review. I’m pretty luke warm on this guy.  I probably should’ve left him on the peg.  At least Alex seemed to like him.  3 out of 10.

HARLEY QUINN (2014)

DC-Harley fullDC COMICS

I’m not sure when I’ll get this posted, but as I write this it is January 17; my birthday.  Today I turn 36.  I am officially in my LATE 30s and it’s a little bit of a bummer.  But only a little bit.  I’m not the type to sulk over getting older and every year I throw myself a big birthday party.  Tonight I’m going out to my folks’ place for dinner and then my parents, siblings and I are going to play poker.  Tonight’s game should be fun and if all goes as planned I should kick my family’s ass and take their money (update: they took my money ).

Tomorrow night I’m hosting a party at my place for all my friends which should also be a good time. I don’t expect much in the way of presents but both my brother Doug and my pal Andrew have already told me that they picked me up something cool, and if history has taught me anything it’s that they probably bought me action figures.  Last year Andrew got me Metalhead and a make-your-own action figure kit and Doug always finds me something cool.  I’ll keep you guys posted on any good scores (update: Doug got me an awesome Batmobile + Batman set and Andrew got me some Spider-Men dolls).  Vanessa gave me my birthday present last night. I’m a stickler for “the rules” so I wanted to wait until midnight but she rarely stays up that late so she had me open if at 10:30. DC-Harley face

Vanessa got me a cornucopia of candy (Junior Mints, Nerds, Mike & Ikes, Toffifee) , the extended cut of Wolverine on Bluray, a new pair of pants, vinyl Pop figurines of the Governor from the Walking Dead and Spikor from Masters of the Universe, and this Harley Quinn action figure.

Harley is a character that was originally created for the Batman animated series in 1992. The 1990s Batman series was probably one of the best  animated shows ever.  I enjoyed it every time I watched it but truthfully I didn’t watch a whole lot of it.  I was in junior high/high school at the time and didn’t have much time for cartoons.  Even now I have a hard time sitting through half hour animated programs aimed at children no matter how good they are.  Though I love the animated DC movies.  I remember going to see the animated movie “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm”, which was a spin-off of the 90s series, in theatres.  What a huge mistake it was going to a see an afternoon matinee of an animated movie.  I remember the place being chalk full of talking kids and crying babies which soured the whole experience for me. DC-Harley Dodson

I don’t recall if I saw the episode that introduced Harley (I think I did) but I at least saw a handful of episodes which featured her.  I liked her right away so I can understand how the character became so popular so quickly.  She was fun and quirky with an awesome costume design.  The two-toned red and black harlequin jester costume with the white face made for a visually appealing and instantly recognizable character.

It took a while for the character to be brought into the main DC comic universe but doing so was a no-brainer.  The character had garnered a large fan base and it would’ve been foolish not to capitalize on it.  After being introduced in a 1999 one-shot special she soon got her own on-going series which is a rare thing for a villain.  I hardly read any DC books at the time but I picked up the Harley Quinn book because I enjoyed the character so much.  Terry Dodson’s artwork didn’t hurt either. DC-Harley suicide

Harley received a pretty drastic makeover for the console game Arkham Asylum.  Gone was the happy-go-lucky clown outfit, replaced by a creepier, torn mini skirt, pigtailed appearance. I didn’t mind the look as an alternate version of Harley but I preferred the original.

When the DC universe got rebooted as the “New 52” in 2011 Harley got rebooted right along with it.  Her new look seemed to draw a lot of inspiration from her video game version.  She now had the pigtails and the more revealing clothing and was a member of the super villain team Suicide Squad.  Again, I don’t mind the new look but I miss the more whimsical Harley.  I collected Suicide Squad for a while but the rest of the cast didn’t do much for me so I eventually jumped ship.

DC-Harley backThis is a brand new figure of Harley Quinn based on her New 52 design.  I first saw it at Strange Adventures this past Wednesday.  DC is one of my smaller toy collections but I try to acquire at least one figure of each character I like, a list which has grown over the past few years.  I didn’t have a Harley figure in my collection before this.  There have only been a few of them and most are quite expensive on the secondary market. So while I would prefer a figure of Harley in her original outfit this one was more financially attainable.  I looked it over, hummed and hawed, and ultimately left it behind. I told Vanessa that I was torn about whether or not I should go back and buy it.  Vanessa took matters into her own hands and went out the next day and got it for me as a birthday gift.DC-Harley guns

This is a pretty nice figure.  I wasn’t sure about it at first but now that i have it in hand it’s really grown on me.  The sculpt is really nice with lots of attention to detail. Her face is pretty and feminine, her socks are ribbed, and her corset has stitching on the front, daggers on the side and bullets on the belt.  The articulation is better than I’m used to seeing on a DC Direct figure.   She’s articulated at the knees, hips, thighs, shoulder, elbows , forearms, neck, and even her pigtails.  Some waist articulation would’ve been nice but as I said she has far more joints than any other DC Direct figures I’ve reviewed; and they’re well hidden which is a big plus.  The paint job is also really nice.  I really like the off-white color used on her skin tone; it gives her a porcelain appearance.  For accessories she’s got a pair of pistols which can be holstered at her waist and a mallet.

I thought I’d be giving this figure a mediocre score but as I’ve looked it over I’ve changed my mind. This is a darn good representation of the New 52 Harley. 8 out of 10.DC-Harley stick up

BATMAN (bendy)

DC-Batman bendy fullDC COMICS

On one of my regular Wednesday visits to Strange Adventures a couple of months ago I noticed that they had a carded bendy Joker figurine tacked to the wall behind the counter. I thought it was cool but I never bothered to inquire about it.  It continued to catch my eye week after week.  I wasn’t sure whether it was old or new because it had that vintage aesthetic which is so trendy these days.  It looked like it could have been some old relic from the 60s but I assumed it was more likely a retro homage.DC-Batman bendy joker

A few weeks before the holidays Strange Adventures stocked their action figure section with a whole set of bendable DC heroes produced by NJ Croce.  There were 4 different characters available: Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman.  If you had asked me if I was in the market for some bendable DC super heroes a day earlier I would have told you “no” but now that I was face to face with them I felt compelled to buy one.DC-Batman bendy carded

There was just something about them that I found incredibly appealing.  The figures themselves were clearly golden age inspired.  The Superman evoked the old Fleischer cartoons and the Batman was more Adam West than Christian Bale.  The card art was minimalistic which added to the retro look of them.  The packaging made no mention of any particular storyline or artist but it was clear to me that they were based on the epic 2004 miniseries “The New Frontier” written and drawn by Darwyn Cooke.

If you’re not familiar with Darwyn’s work I implore you to go check it out.  He’s done all kinds of things but New Frontier is a good place to start.  He’s somewhat of a local hero around these parts.  He’s good friends with the staff at Strange Adventures and can often be found in the shop. I once bumped into him while buying my comics and asked him to sign my copy of Parker: The Hunter (which he wrote and illustrated) and to my delight he drew an original sketch of the main character on the title page.  Very cool.

DC-Batman DarwynOf the 4 bendable figures I had to choose from Batman won me over more than the others.  He looked fantastic and was probably the one that most resembled Darwyn’s artwork.  I’ve decided to keep Batman housed on my desk at work rather than bring him home.  For that reason my photos for this post are even crappier than usual because I used my dinky little camera phone to snap the pics.

Batman is wearing dual shades of gray, a light colored body suit with a darker cape, cowl, gloves, boots, and grannie panties.  He’s got his trusty yellow utility belt, a black bat (sans yellow oval) on his barrel chest, and a black half circle on his face.  Whenever I see Batman drawn with the black circle on his face I wonder if it’s supposed to be a shadow or if his mask is actually colored that way.  Either way it looks cool and allows for the mask to have some bitch’n eyebrows.DC-Batman bendy pair

When I stood him on my desk to take these pictures I noticed that his cape, which is made of j-cloth, fluttered in the wind from my desk fan.  It’s a hard thing to capture in a picture but it looked awesome.  I kept him standing there for the rest of the day and everyone that walked by commented on how neat he was.

As far as the bendiness goes, he’s not very bendy.  You can lift his arms slightly and widen his stance a bit but that’s about it.  He’s not exactly Gumby so if you were looking forward to hours of fun twisting Batman into weird shapes than look elsewhere.DC-Batman bendy back

Rigidness aside, I love this figure.  Within days of buying him I went back and bought Superman and Green Lantern for myself as well as another Batman to give as a Secret Santa gift.  I highly recommend you track one of these figures down.  No matter how crappy my work day is going a glance over at Batman and his fluttering cape lifts my spirits.  9 out of 10.

MANCAVE NO MORE

CaveI’ve got some sad news to report; I’m packing up the mancave.  Vanessa and I have decided not to stay in our current apartment and we’ve begun looking for new accommodations.  We’re hoping to give our notice by the start of February meaning I’ll be in a new apartment come March.  In anticipation of the move I’ve already begun the arduous task of dusting off all of my figures, bagging them up individually with their respective weapons, and boxing them up.  I know it may seem premature but I hate leaving things to the last minute and I want to ensure my figures are packed with care.  My 2 G.I. Joe bookshelves have already been stripped bare.  The packing up of my toys may mean fewer reviews for the next while.  I do however have a decent backlog of photos already taken and I still have new toys coming in so hopefully that will be enough to keep me going during the transition period.

Farewell South Street mancave, you have served me well.

WIDESCOPE v.2 (2013)

Joe-Widescope v2 full 2G. I. JOE FIGURE SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE

We are officially half way through the second G.I. Joe Collector’s Club Figure Subscription Service (FSS).  I now have 6 of the figures on my desk with 6 more to come (plus the mystery 13th figure which ships out at the end).  I would encourage any Joe fan to sign up to the FSS.  I’m hoping that if fans keep supporting it then the Club will continue making figures.  We’ve gotten some highly anticipated figures and some obscure hidden gems over the course of one and a half subscriptions.  Having said that, the cost of these figures is quite high, especially since you gotta pay for them in a lump sum (there is also an option to break the cost into 3 payments), so I wish that more of the kinks were worked out during the production stage.  When I buy a figure at Wal-mart for ten bucks only to find out later that he has gimpy legs and has trouble standing up; that’s annoying.  When I pay nearly forty bucks for a figure online only to discover later that he has a construction issue; that pisses me off.  Skull Buster’s arms are goofy, Tollbooth’s head continuously stares downward, and Desert Scorpion doesn’t stand upright. That means half of the figures I’ve gotten from FSS 2.0 so far have suffered from minor construction issues. Joe-Widescope v2 carded

Of the other 3 figures, Tiger Force Shipwreck and Airtight are both well-constructed but they were hardly characters I was clamouring for; and then lastly there’s this figure, Widescope.  I have zero complaints about Widescope – this is a great figure.

When I was a kid my favorite G.I. Joe figure was Shockwave; the Joe team’s SWAT trooper.  I tended to like figures with full face masks and masked good guys were few and far between.  There was Snake Eyes of course but he was a tad over exposed and it seemed lame to name him as your favorite.  Then there was Beachhead but my brother owned him.  When Shockwave came out in 1988 he was exactly what I wanted in a Joe figure.  He had a full facemask, a good color scheme, interesting camo, a cool primary specialty, and a good cache of weapons.  Shockwave became my Joe team’s resident ass kicker.

Joe-Widescope v2 sheildWhen the Joe brand was revived in 2002 in what has become known as the “new-sculpt era” many classic characters returned with new toys and a bunch of brand new characters were introduced.  Shockwave did not get an update during the new sculpt years.  Instead Hasbro gave us a very similarly attired new character named Widescope.  Widescope was also SWAT, wore a ball cap over a full face mask , and had a blue camo uniform…just like Shockwave.  I figure that it was probably intended to be an updated Shockwave figure originally but for some reason they changed the name before it went to market.  Perhaps it’s because the name Shockwave is so prominent in Hasbro’s other major property, Transformers.  Even when a new Shockwave figure was finally released during the modern era his name was changed to Shockblast.Joe-Widescope v2 back

Back in the early 2000s I had a Joe diorama set up in my apartment spread across 3 fold-up card tables.  My vintage and new sculpt figures were displayed together.  I viewed Widescope as Shockwave’s protégé and the two of them were displayed together, along with Widescope’s dog, Lamont. Joe-Widescope v2 Lamont

Widescope only ever got the one toy and he was never featured in any cartoons or media ties-ins.  For those reasons, and because the entire new sculpt era is widely maligned by Joe fans, I never thought I’d see a modern version of Widescope.  Luckily all of the parts were available to make an awesome new Widescope figure with no new tooling required and that’s what the Collector’s Club has done.  His body is borrowed from the Cobra Shock Trooper which makes a ton of sense since they’re urban assault soldiers akin to SWAT anyway.  His head originally belonged to Beachhead.Joe-Widescope v2 shockwave

I think this figure looks fantastic.  It would be easy to write Widescope off as a Shockwave knockoff but I don’t see him that way.  Sure he’s similar to Shockwave but it makes sense that there would be consistency in the uniforms of the Joe team’s two SWAT troopers.  And truthfully this figure is superior to the modern Shockwave figure in just about every way.  The sculpt is better, the color scheme is better, the articulation is better, and the accessories are far better.

Speaking of accessories, Widescope comes with a good mix of stuff.  In addition to his cap and web gear he’s got a display stand, machine gun, riot shield, removable gasmask, radio, and of course a leash for his trusty dog Lamont.  The Lamont sculpt is the same one we got in the new sculpt era but it holds up well and works fine with this figure.  Lamont is nicely detailed with just a minor paint applications on his eyes and harness.

Widescope is the high point of the second figure subscription service for me thus far.  9 out of 10.Joe-Widescope v2 swat tteam

STRONG ARM/ STRONG-OR (2013)

MOTU-Strong arm fullMASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS

On the 15th of every month Mattel makes at least one new Masters of the Universe (MOTU) figure available on their website.  Sometimes there are a couple of figures and sometimes there’s a special item like a beast or a vehicle.  I order at least 1 item from them almost every month. The MOTU brand is full of strange characters but December’s assortment of figures had to be the strangest I’ve seen yet.  I debated whether I should buy any of the 3 available figures but ultimately I ended up ordering all of them. MOTU-Strong arm face

None of the December offerings were character that I would consider integral to the brand.  All of them were first time figures meaning none of them appeared in either the vintage or the 2002 toy line. If any one of them had been the lone new figure available that month I don’t think I would’ve ordered any of them.  The shipping cost of a single figure is practically equal to, and sometimes more than, the cost of the figure itself so in order to justify the shipping cost I need to buy multiple items (or a lone figure that is an absolute must-have).  None of December’s figures were must haves in my opinion.  First off there was Plundor the evil purple Easter Bunny-like character who appeared in a single episode of the 80s Filmation cartoon.  Next up is Standor who is literally a muscle-bound blue version of Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee.  Why this exists I don’t really know.  Stan has nothing to do with the MOTU brand.  Apparently this figure was an exclusive item that was sold at Stan Lee’s Comikaze convention last year and the remaining stock was now being sold on the website. MOTU-Strongarm group

The third figure from December was Strong-or; or Strong Arm as he was originally named.  I assume it was changed for legal reasons but I shall continue to refer to him as Strong Arm as it sounds better and makes more sense. Like Plundor, this character only appeared in a single episode of the 80s MOTU cartoon.  I have no recollection of him but apparently some fans have been clamoring for a figure of this guy for a while.  I felt the other 2 figures were somewhat charming oddities but were far from essential pieces for my MOTU collection.  This figure however looked pretty cool and was the main reason I shelled out my cash to order these guys.  In the cartoon Strong Arm was a member of Skeletor’s Evil Warriors, just like Mer-Man and Beast Man.  He actually has quite a bit in common with another one of the Evil Warriors, my brother Doug’s favorite MOTU character, Trap Jaw.  Both have metal faces and a robotic arm.  Perhaps this is why Strong Arm was a one hit wonder.  Maybe Mattel knew he was too similar to Trap Jaw and so they banished him into obscurity.  It could also be because of his similarities to the giant metal fist wielding Fisto and his nemesis, the golden gloved Jitsu. MOTU-Strongarm animated

Whatever the reason, it’s too bad this guy got swept under the rug because he’s a pretty neat looking character.  He’s also completely nonsensical and ridiculous but that’s partly what I like about the MOTU toy line.  Strong Arm has a pretty plain  body with Snooki-like orange skin.  He’s got blue armor, a metallic silver face and right arm, and one really out-of-place yellow glove.  I almost wish that Mattel had made his glove blue for aesthetic purposes but I respect their decision to remain true to the characters one and only animated appearance.

The problem with sticking so close to the original design is that this figure suffers a bit for it.  Strong Arm is pretty boring to look at which is hard to believe considering he has a metal monster face with a spiky blue mohawk.  There just isn’t enough color or sculpting detail on this figure to jazz it up.  There’s far too much bland orange-ness going on here.  I will say that despite the underwhelming body, the head, and the metallic arm, are pretty great.MOTU-Strong arm close up

I’m not sure if Strong Arm was given any sort of origin story in the cartoon but the bio on the card back of this new figure states that he was a photanium miner who lost his face and arm while working in the mines of Phantos.  Being a master metal worker he fashioned himself this new head and arm which I must say is an impressive feat.  I wonder if he was this ugly before the accident.  His body design leads me to believe that this guy was probably human and if that’s the case then maybe he’s not such a master metal worker after all.  It just doesn’t make much sense that he would give himself a fanged, mohawked monster face but who am I to judge.

MOTU-Strongarm flex

 

 

For accessories Strong Arm came with an additional arm and a ray gun.  From what I’ve read on other sites Strong Arm never carried a gun in the episode but this particular ray gun was seen in a different episode.  Its inclusion here adds some value to the figure by providing fans with a recognizable prop from the cartoon.  The additional arm is slightly longer than the standard arm.  The arms can be swapped out to replicate Strong Arm’s telescoping arm ability.  I’ll keep my figure displayed with the longer arm on because it gives him a more unique look.

Overall, this isn’t a great figure but it’s not at all a bad figure either.  I probably would’ve loved this weirdo if I had this toy as a kid.  I’m happy to add a few more oddities like this to my MOTU collection before the line comes to an end. 7 out of 10.MOTU-Strong arm arm