Monthly Archives: March 2014

GREEN LANTERN-JOHN STEWART

DC-Jon stewart fullDC DIRECT: JLA CLASSIFIED

You may recall that not too long ago I reviewed a Superwoman figure. She was part of a series of figures based on Ed McGuinness’s artwork from his run on Batman/Superman. I bought a few figures from that series when they first came out years ago and I always intended to pick up a few more. But DC figures are a fairly low priority for me so they got pushed aside while my G.I. Joe and Marvel Universe collections grew. These days those two properties are in a bit of a hiatus. Other lines I collect like Masters of the Universe, Transformers, and Beast Saga have also slowed. You’d think that I would take this opportunity to give my wallet a break and actually save some money but instead I’ve gone back to my old DC want-list and have begun filling some holes in that collection. Since acquiring Superwoman a few weeks ago I bought the McGuinness version of Zoom and just the other day I picked up this McGuinness inspired version of Green Lantern.

I’m fortunate to have multiple comic shops in my neighborhood. While all my weekly comic book shopping is done at Strange Adventures, Giant Robot Comics and Monster’s Comic Lounge are also great resources for collectables. GRC has a wall of vintage carded toys and cabinets full of loose figures at reasonable prices. MCL is your one stop shop for DC Direct figures. They have a ton of other stuff as well but their DC stock is unrivalled. I would normally have to turn to ebay to buy a DC Direct figure that’s more than 6 months old but MCL still has figures in stock dating back to the birth of the line. It’s nice to be able to walk in there and grab a figure like this on a whim without dealing with shipping costs and weeks of waiting by the mailbox.DC-Jon stewart fist

Depending on how big a Green Lantern fan you are you may or may-not recognize this guy. Most people probably think of Hal Jordan when they think Green Lantern. He’s the brown-haired white guy who works as a test pilot and is a bit of a hot head. He was recently portrayed by Ryan Reynolds in the terrible live-action GL movie. Though if you’ve seen that movie, or read the comics, you know that Hal is one of many Green Lanterns. They’re basically space cops and each one of them patrols a different sector of the universe. Hal Jordan was the first human to join the Green Lantern Corps but there have been several since. Some of them were Hal’s partners and some of them were his replacements.

This African-American GL is John Stewart. He’s been kicking around the comic books in a supporting role since 1971 but he rose in popularity when he was placed in the Justice League Unlimited cartoon as the team’s default Green Lantern. That was my introduction to the character anyway. I never really watched the cartoon and I still knew very little about GL at that time. I just figured the producers changed out Hal for John to add some diversity to the team. I really didn’t think much of it.DC-Jon stewart face

It wasn’t until I started reading Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern stories, in which he resurrected the then-dead Hal Jordan, that I began to learn the origins and significance of the various Lanterns. Johns got me totally hooked on Green Lantern, a character whom I previously had zero attachment to or fondness for. I’ve an unabashed GL fan now who collects 4 monthly GL related titles. While Hal is the star of the main Green Lantern book, John has a prominent spot in its sister-title, The Green Lantern Corps.

Over the past few years I’ve really come to like all of the various Green Lanterns, from Hal to John, to Guy to Kyle, not to mention non-human Lanterns such as Soranik Natu, and Lanterns from other color spectrums such as Atrocitus the Red Lantern or Larfleeze the Orange Lantern. You’d think having multiple characters with the exact same powers would get repetitive but the team of writers on these books have done an excellent job of giving each Lantern their own voice. John, for example, carries the weight of two dead planets on his conscience which effects the way he approaches things. DC-Jon stewart back

I don’t know why I waited so long to buy this figure. I’ve seen it hanging on the wall at MCL for years now. I’m glad i finally pulled the trigger because it is an awesome figure. The sculpt and paint look great. I especially like the face sculpt; this dude looks pissed. I’m not sure why he doesn’t have pupils, as I don’t recall seeing him drawn that way, but it looks cool. McGuinness’s exaggerated style doesn’t work for every character; the Superwoman figure was a good example of that. MCL has a figure of GL:Kyle Rayner on their pegs based on McGuinness’s art which I’ve contemplated buying many times but I don’t think the style works for Kyle either. I see Kyle as more of an every man, he’s an artist after all, not a wrestler so he shouldn’t be built like one. But McGuinness’s style works great for a big beefy character like John Stewart.

I’ll briefly mention the cons: the articulation is lacking (as it always is on DC Direct figures) and other than the display base there are no accessories, not even a lantern (fail).  For those reasons it might not be the most fun figure for a kid to play with but as a display piece, it suits me just fine. 9 out of 10.

LT. FALCON v.8 (2014)

Joe-Falcon v8 fullG.I. JOE: FIGURE SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE 2.0

Lt. Falcon’s claim to fame is his starring role in the animated G.I. Joe movie from 1987. Much like the animated Transformers movie, the Joe film’s primary purpose was to wipe the slate clean of old characters and usher in fresh faces so that Hasbro could sell more toys. Established characters like Snake Eyes and Spirit were relegated to the background while the spotlight was given to a varied cast of new recruits. The new crop of Joes included Jinx, Chuckles, Law & Order, Tunnel Rat, Sgt. Slaughter and his Marauders, and most importantly Lt. Falcon.

Falcon was introduced as Duke’s slack and cocky half-brother. The movie follows his journey from zero to hero. Don Johnson voiced the character and did a good job of conveying Falcon’s laid back attitude. Falcon’s pivotal role in the movie made his original figure a must-have for kids collecting at the time. My brother Doug got Falcon along with Chuckles, Tunnel Rat, and the Marauders. I was happy to end up with Jinx, Law, and the freaky new bad guys introduced in the movie, Cobra-LaJoe-Falcon v8 carded

Had there not been a movie that year I think Falcon could have very easily been overlooked in the action figure aisle. Most of the other characters were brightly colored with unique designs such as female ninja, military policeman with dog, and cycloptic lobster/snake man.

Lt. Falcon was kind of a throw back with his standard military dress. He had a full green camo uniform, a beret, and standard issue military weapons. There was plenty of sculpted detail and a really good face sculpt. Even though he was a goofball in the cartoon the figure had a stoic appearance which made him an even more credible squad leader than either Duke or Flint who were both sculpted with smirks for some reason. Lt. Falcon version 1 was actually a really good figure so it’s a good thing that the movie ensured that it wasn’t overlooked by kids. Not that Doug and I would have overlooked him, we bought everything back then. Joe-Falcon v8 face

A second version of Falcon was released just one year later. Version 2 was simply a repainted version 1 with a darker color scheme as Falcon was now a member of the sub-team Night Force.

There were no Lt. Falcon figures released during the new sculpt era (other than another V1 repaint convention exclusive) but I had a Flint in a green outfit which I displayed as a Falcon. I didn’t get my first actual Falcon figure until the first modern version was released in 2008 a 2-pack with Nemesis Enforcer as part of the 25th anniversary series.

That 2008 figure sucked. A lot of Joe fans complain about some of the early 25th anniversary figures, Duke especially, but I think Lt. Falcon is perhaps my least favorite anniversary figure. Bad articulation aside I just hated the face so much. It had a big chin, no neck, a small head and crappy arms. It was a big, big disappointment.

2014 & 2008

2014 & 2008

Luckily Hasbro remedied the situation just before the 25th anniversary series came to an end. They included a brand new version of Falcon in their Slaughter’s Maurauders/Renegades 7 pack in 2011. The sculpt on Marauders Falcon was leaps and bounds beyond the comic-pack version. I absolutely loved the head sculpt and the removable beret. While I would’ve preferred my default display, modern-era Lt. Falcon to be wearing his classic green camouflage outfit I was just happy to finally have a decently sculpted Falcon.

Had the club included the Marauder Falcon figure, repainted in the classic colors, in this years figure subscription service I would’ve been happy. What I didn’t need was that figure repainted in another obscure sub-team outfit. In a recent FSS shipment I received, along with Cesspool, Night Force Lt. Falcon.

2014 & 2011

2014 & 2011

If you don’t already own the Marauders version then this will make a fine addition to your collection but since I do already have the Marauders version this figure seemed kind of redundant to me. I understand why the Club opted to make Night Force Falcon; their convention set last year was Night Force themed and I’m sure there’s a handful of collectors out there who were stoked to add another Joe to their Night Force roster. I would’ve much preferred to see this FSS slot go to a unique character but as a cost saving measure I understand repaints are a necessity. However this one is even more useless to me than the Tiger Force Shipwreck and Airtight that I received in the first shipment because at least those two can be called by their foreign names and viewed as unique characters. Joe-Falcon v8 back

Having said all of that, the Night Force paint job does look really nice on this figure, superior to the Marauders look. Considering how much I liked the sculpt initially and how well this repaint turned out it’s hard to hate on it too much. A few changes were made in addition to the new paint job and I think they all enhance the figure.  This version doesn’t have the skirt on his shirt that the Marauders version did and he has new web gear which more closely resembles that of the original Lt. Falcon.  In regards to the new paint job I’m also happy that they gave this version brown hair like the original figure. The black hair that he had in the movie and on version 7 made him look too much like Flint.

It is kind of nice to have a field commander for my Night Force squad I suppose. The more I examine this figure the more I like it actually.  Had this been available at retail it would’ve been a good buy at ten bucks. What hurts the most about this figure is the hefty price tag. Despite its redundancy this figure is ultimately another win for the Club. 7 out of 10.

MER-MAN & HE-MAN minis (2014)

MOTU-mini merman fightMASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE MINIS

The folks at Mattel have gotten crafty. In my Modulok review I mentioned how, as the line winds down, fewer of the monthly figures are essential purchases. Most of the main characters have already been released and as much as I’d like to have a complete set I simply can’t justify spending $25 on shipping to order a mediocre She-Ra supporting character that costs $27. Each figure ends up costing me over $50 and that’s far too much for a C-list character. However, when a C-lister comes out in the same month as an A-list character that I am willing to shell out the cash for, I usually end up buying the C-lister as well since the combined shipping lessens the financial impact.MOTU-mini merman full

Well beginning this past February Mattel began releasing a monthly two-pack of mini figures along with their regular 6” figure offering. The first set they released included a mini Mer-Man and a mini Battle Armor He-Man. Now I wasn’t completely sold on them when I first saw them online. Was this really something I wanted to collect? If the first set had been He-Man and Skeletor I probably would have passed. But because Mer-Man is my absolute favorite MOTU character I couldn’t resist. So along with Modulok I ordered this 2-pack of minis.MOTU-mini heman full

Once I got them in hand I thought they were pretty awesome. The sculpting is really nice and they’ve got a very stylized look to them that looks familiar but that I can’t quite place. They’re articulated at the neck, waist, and arms and I was surprised to discover that their weapons can be removed from their hands. Mer-Man comes with his sword and trident and He-Man comes with his power sword and shield. Their bodies are cutely disproportionate with bulking upper halves and tiny little legs. I like the look but it doesn’t lend itself to easily displayed figures. They seem to need the support of their arms/weapons to stay upright. 

The colors are very vibrant and there are multiple paint applications. They both look great. I’m genuinely surprised to say that I think I prefer the He-Man from this pairing. There’s something about the half scowl on his face and the squinting eyes that I just love. I will definitely pick up more of these guys. And this is where the craftiness comes in… MOTU-mini merman brawl

Each set of mini figures includes a piece of a buildable mini Castle Grayskull. This first set came with the most vital part, the castle’s stoney skull visage. By including a piece of the castle with each set fans are forced to buy every single one if they want to build a complete castle. And if there are lots of fans like me out there, that locks us into buying at least the mini figure set from MattyCollector.com on the 15th of every month for the next 8 months (there are currently 8 mini figure sets planned). And if we’re buying the mini figure set anyway then we might as well buy whatever lackluster 6” character they’re shilling us as well.  My wallet weeps.

These figures are by no means essential to your Masters of the Universe Classics collection but if you’re a fan of cutesy versions of your favorite properties then these are pretty nice little figures. 7 out of 10.

The Mer-family

The Mer-family

 

KEEL HAUL v.3 (2014)

Joe-Keel haul v3 fullG. I. JOE: FIGURE SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE 2.0

Today I’m going to continue on with my mission to post reviews of all the figures from the G.I. Joe Collectors Club’s second figure subscription service. Today we’re going to take a look at Keel Haul.

The original Keel Haul figure was released in 1985 and was only available packaged with the U.S.S. Flagg aircraft carrier, the largest playset known to man. Between us, my brother Doug and I owned almost every G.I. Joe figure and vehicle released in the first 4 or 5 years of the brand but we did not own the Flagg. I’m not even sure we really wanted it. I wasn’t a big fan of boat toys because we never played in water. At best we’d lay down a blue blanket and I don’t know if we owned a blue blanket big enough to accommodate the 6 foot long carrier. But what I did want was Keel Haul. Not that he struck me as overly cool or anything I just loved Joe figures and wanted a complete collection. The vehicles didn’t matter to me as much. Most of the time I only ever wanted a Joe vehicle to get the figure packaged with it. The same holds true today. Joe-Keel haul v3 carded

We never did get Keel Haul version 1 as kids but Doug eventually scored one at a flea market long after our playing days were over. As a minor character from the golden years of the brand, who hadn’t gotten any love from Hasbro since his second release in 1993, I think Keel Haul was a great choice for the FSS. I missed out on version 2 as well so I was pretty stoked to own my first-ever version of this guy.

The figure is made up of mostly existing parts that manage to replicate the look of the original figure quite well. Thankfully the Club splurged a bit and gave Keel Haul a newly sculpted head. I’d have been very disappointed if we had ended up with another repainted Gung-Ho head like we got with Leatherneck and Cutter. It seems to me that it would have been the obvious, albeit unsatisfactory, choice if only pre-existing parts were available. This new head is great and really makes him a distinct character. The hat has some nicely sculpted and painted detail and who doesn’t love a good mustache? Joe-Keel haul v3 back

I think one of the greatest things about this figure is his accessories and I don’t say that often. Generally I don’t care to much about accessories; most of them end up in my spare parts bin never to be seen again anyway. But Keel Haul has some great ones. First off, he’s got a pair of binoculars. We’ve seen them before and they’re not that amazing but it makes a lot of sense to include them with Keel Haul given his profession. They’re even painted two-toned which is a nice little detail. Secondly there’s his coffee thermos. I thought this was brilliant. I found out later that it wasn’t a Collector’s Club original piece, it had originally come with a Hawk figure from the Rise of Cobra line, but it’s still an awesome addition. I imagine Keel Haul spends a lot more time standing around than the other Joes, and on a cold boat no less, so it would make sense that he would like to sip on a cup a’ Joe from time to time (see what I did there). Joe-keel haul v3 look

His third accessory is his display base. Most Joes come with one so I usually don’t even bother to mention them, but Keel Haul’s has a small peg hole in the back corner meant for a flagpole. We first saw this on a Duke figure which I previously reviewed. Rather than flaunt the stars and stripes like his uber-patriotic pal Duke, Keel Haul comes with a U.S.S. Flagg flag. I’m not sure if the Club meant it as an inside joke to package Keel Haul with a flag, though a decidedly much smaller flag than the original figure came with, but I think it’s kind of cute.  Lastly, he comes with a rather unexciting pistol.

This figure is one of the highlights of FSS 2.0 for me. 8 out of 10.Joe-Keel haul v3 face

MODULOK (2014)

MOTUC-Modulok fullMASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS

On the 15th of almost every month I log on to Mattel’s website at 1:00pm to purchase the latest Masters of the Universe Classics figure. I always make sure I’m logged on at that specific moment as the new figures tend to sell out quickly. Depending on the popularity of the character, new figures can sell out in a couple of days, hours, or even minutes. Most of the must-have MOTU characters have been released already which isn’t surprising considering Mattel has been offering a figure a month since 2009. I find I’m able to skip the latest figures with greater frequency these days due to the number of C-listers and background characters being produced. MOTUC-Modulok back

However there are still a few integral characters yet to come. Last month’s release was one of them: Modulok. I never owned the original Modulok toy as a kid because he was released around the time that I was losing interest in the brand but I had some friends who owned him and I thought he was a really cool figure. Every MOTU figure had a unique play feature and Modulok’s was one of the neatest and most ambitious. Modulok was basically two characters who could be broken down into numerous pieces and rebuilt in dozens of variations. His standard look consisted of two heads and six legs but if you want a 1-headed 3-legged Modulok you could do that. His modular design allowed for all kinds of wacky creations. MOTUC-Modulok box

Over the past couple of years the future of the MOTUC toy line began to look bleak. I doubted whether we’d ever see characters like Mantenna, Two-Bad, and Modulok because so much new tooling was required to create them. I’m quite impressed that Mattel and their team of sculptors, the Four Horsemen, managed to get all 3 of those characters out in the past few months and they seem to have spared no expensive. Mantenna blew me out of the water and Modulok is an equally impressive toy even though I don’t have the same affection for the character. MOTUC-Modulok carded

Modulok is considered a premium figure akin to Procrustus or Battle Cat so he cost a bit more than the standard figures to order. I was therefore expecting a large box to show up in the mail as was the case with past premium figures. I was quite surprised at how small the package was when it showed up at my door. Modulok was economically packaged in a thin solid box with no window on the front which will likely disappoint collectors who keep their figures sealed. The figure itself actually looked somewhat unimpressive when I first opened the box. He was packaged as a single figure (1 head, 2 arms, 2 legs) with the rest of his body parts displayed around him. If displayed as a single figure he’s quite thin in comparison to other MOTUC figures. It’s only after you start snapping on extra body parts that Modulok can truly be appreciated.

original Modulok

original Modulok

Once you have him assembled in his standard 2-headed, 6-legged mode he’s much more imposing and blends in with the other figures better. The sculpt on Modulok is really nice with lots of detail. He’s kind of bug-like, or crustacean-like, but he also appears to be part cyborg and part bare muscle tissue. He’s actually kind of gross but in a good way. The design is very reminiscent of the original. The face sculpts are both just as weird and wonderful as I remember.  The green eyed head has the most epic eyebrows I’ve ever seen.

Modulok is totally worth the extra bucks and I highly recommend you track one down for yourself. Maybe even 2 if can afford it. Just imagine the wild creatures you could create if you had a whole bucket full of Modulok pieces. 9 out of 10.MOTUC-Modulok pairMOTUC-Modulok legs

BIG BEAR v.3 (2014)

Joe-Big Bear v3 fullG. I. JOE: FIGURE SUBSCRITION SERVICE 2.0 

There’s no rhyme or reason to the order in which I review my toys. Most of the stuff I review is on display all around me so I just grab a figure from the shelf and start writing. This is why you see so few Star Was, Marvel Toy Biz, and Joe vehicle reviews. I have plenty of all of those but they’re all boxed away and I have to consciously go searching for one to review when the mood strikes me.

I do however try to review my G.I. Joe subscription service figures as they come in. Just in case there’s some collector out there who’s on the fence about purchasing one of these figures on ebay or perhaps considering subscribing to the FSS next year; I want to be able to help that collector make an informed decision. I’ve fallen a little behind on my reviews due to my recent move but now that the final shipment of FSS figures has arrived I feel compelled to get the final few reviews posted.Joe-Big Bear v3 face

The final shipment included the mystery figure, Grand Slam, as well as the final 2 regular figures: Dragonsky and Big Bear. Both of whom are members of the Oktober Guard, a kind-of eastern European communist  G.I. Joe team. The Oktober Guard has been a part of the G.I. Joe: Real American Hero mythos almost since the beginning. In the early days of the Marvel comic writer by Larry Hama often populated the Joe world with newly created characters because the toy line wasn’t broad enough at the time to fill all of the roles required of the stories (hard to imagine now). The Oktober Guard were first introduced in issue 6, released way back in 1982.

I gotta be honest, I was never a big fan of the Oktober Guard. Other than Horrorshow, I could never remember the names of the characters. Larry gave them all unique personalities and military specialties just like the Joes but they failed to resonate with me. There weren’t any figures made of the Oktober Guard when I was a kid and I was actually okay with that.Joe-Big bear v3 carded

The first two members of the Guard to get figures were Red Star in 1991 and Big Bear in 1992.  Oddly enough both of them were newly created characters not having ever appeared in the comics or cartoons. Long standing members like Horrorshow and Stormavik got shut out.

The Guard resurfaced again in the comics published by Devil’s Due in the 2000s. It was around that time, during the new sculpt era that many were made into action figures for the first time. Three different 3-figure comic packs were released featuring the Oktober Guard. And while I wasn’t necessarily a big fan of the characters, it was kind of cool to finally have them in plastic form.Joe-Big bear v3 back

When the modern line started in 2007 it’s like we were back to square one. Hasbro produced the main characters while hard core fans complained about not having figures of Billy, Kwinn, and the Oktober Guard. Hasbro produced one member of the team, Red Star, who was available in a comic-pack with Duke.

In 2012 the Collector’s Club made the Oktober Guard the focus of their convention set. That set gave us modern interpretations of Colonel Brekhov, Daina, Iron Bear, Horrorshow, Schrage, and Stormavik. It was my first ever convention set and I was very impressed with the quality of the figures. It’s ultimately what convinced me to purchase the 2013 and 2014 sets and to take a chance on the FSS.

Between the 6 figures from the box set and Red Star I now had a pretty decent little Oktober Guard team to display. I was content with the 7 member team  but the Club managed to squeeze two more Ruskies into their final shipment of FSS 2.0 and I’m glad they did. Again, I don’t love the characters but the figures are quite nice, especially Big Bear.Joe-Big Bear v3 weapons

Big Bear was constructed using some existing pieces but he also has some new ones as well including a brand new head. The head sculpt is fantastic. This guy is one grizzled gingery bear who I would not mess with. There’s a ton of personality in his face and some finely-detailed sculpting in his beard and hat.

His outfit is big and bulky and makes a lot of sense because I hear it’s quite cold in Russia. I think the jacket is a new piece and it’s great.  It’s got a big furry collar, a canteen, rope, grenades, multiple pouches, and yet it doesn’t hinder his movement.  This guy is dressed to hunker down amidst a patch of trees in the blistering cold of the Russian wilderness for as long as it takes. And then when you least expect it he takes you out with either his giant rocket launcher or one of his two rifles. I think Big Bear might actually be my favorite of the 9 Oktober Guard figures. There’s just something about those furry hats that scream badass to me. It’s probably the influence of many 80s action movies. Even as someone who’s lukewarm about the Oktober Guard I give this guy a solid 8 out of 10.Joe-Big bear v3 Guard

GRAND SLAM v.8 (2014)

Joe-Grand slam v8 fullG. I. JOE: FIGURE SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE 2.0

The final package from the G. I. Joe Collector’s Club Figure Subscription Service (FSS) 2.0 arrived in the mail the other day. For the past 2 years the Club has offered its members the opportunity to subscribe to a service where 2 exclusive figures are shipped to you every month for 6 months for a total of 12 figures. In the 6th and final shipment a mystery 13th figure is included. Last year’s mystery figure was Blackout which I thought was a great choice. Blackout is an obscure character from the new sculpt era of the mid-2000s but he’s a character with an interesting backstory and a figure that wasn’t likely to be produced by Hasbro. Some fans weren’t thrilled with the choice but I think those were mostly fans who hadn’t been collecting the new sculpt era figures and were not familiar with Blackout. Had he just been included in the regular FSS I’m sure nobody would have minded but there was a lot of speculation and anticipation about the mystery figure and he may have been the victim of overly high expectations. Overall, I’d say he was fairly well-received.Joe-Grand slam v8 face

Based on the reaction to Blackout’s reveal I suspected most fans had more reasonable expectations for this year’s 13th figure. Personally I was a fan of Blackout. Even if the execution wasn’t perfect I was still a fan of the character choice so my expectations for this year’s figure were still quite high. I was really hoping we’d see Cobra Commander’s son Billy, Blackout’s sister Bombshell, or the long-awaited Pythona from the animated movie. That last one, perhaps, was my expectations getting away from me. I’ve wanted a Pythona since 1987.

The mystery figure’s identity was revealed to me prior to mine arriving in the mail. As a Canadian resident I usually receive my mail-outs a couple of weeks after American members and it’s near impossible to avoid the news once it hits the internet. When the first shipments began arriving the complaints quickly followed. G.I. Joe messages boards boiled over with nerd rage. People seemed really pissed off about Grand Slam being the 13th mystery figure. I’ll admit that I too was disappointed. But upset? Not at all. Joe-Grand slam v8 carded

When the first wave of G.I. Joe figures came out in 1982 there were 13 Joes, who to this day are affectionately referred to as the “original 13”. The figures were simple back then. Most of the characters wore plain green uniforms, multiple pieces were re-used amongst them, including as many as four of them sharing the same face, and the articulation was more rigid. Of the 13 originals, three stood out as truly unique: Stalker the African-American who wore full camouflage, Snake-Eyes the commando who dressed all in black, and Scarlett the crossbow toting lady-Joe. The other 10: Steeler, Zap, Short-Fuze, Hawk, Breaker, Rock n Roll, Flash, Clutch, Grunt, and Grand Slam, all looked pretty similar. But I didn’t see this as a bad thing. The original 13 felt more like a cohesive unit then any Joes that came afterward. Joe-Grand slam v8 group

With the advent of the modern Joe line in 2007 I was excited about getting the original 13 in their classic outfits. Unfortunately Hasbro didn’t make it easy to obtain them all. Some were released on single cards but others were only available with vehicles or in multi-packs. The last two I needed to complete my set were Grunt and Grand Slam. I eventually got a Grand Slam that was released as part of the Rise of Cobra movie line. The body was right but the pads were painted metallic blue instead of the classic red and his head sculpt made him seem a little too young to be one of the originals. The figure wasn’t perfect but he was satisfactory; especially considering the sub-par releases of other original 13er’s like Rock N Roll and Short-Fuze. I actually didn’t get a Grunt until the Club included him in the first FSS. With the inclusion of FSS Grunt my original 13 was complete. Joe-Grand slam v8 original 13

This is why I was disappointed about this new Grand Slam figure and why other collectors were down right mad; we simply didn’t need him.  Besides we just got this exact figure repainted as Bombardier a mere month ago.  And yet, I do prefer this figure to the blue-padded kid who had been posing as Grand Slam in my collection. Sure this figure looks almost identical to Flash, with his green outfit and red pads, but that’s the point; the original Grand Slam looked almost identical to the original Flash. Grand Slam’s green uniform is a few shades darker and his belt, gloves, and boots are black instead of brown to help differentiate him from Flash. Plus he has his own set of weapons, a rifle, binoculars, and a portable missile launcher which he clearly stole from Scrap Iron.  I think that the jet pack we’ve seen a few times before would’ve been more appropriate since Grand Slam was the first Joe to ever come with one back in ’83.  Jet pack aside, I do wish that the Club had at least given him his own face. Overall I think this is a pretty darn good Grand Slam figure. Would I recommend you pay upwards of thirty bucks for him online? No, probably not, seeing as there are blue and silver padded versions available for far less, but I by no means see him as the black sheep of the subscription service. 7 out of 10.Joe-Grand slam v8 pairJoe-Grand slam v8 weapons

TENTICUS

TF-Tenticus fullSELECT CONVERTORS

(I wrote this review the first week of February but am just getting it posted now.  The joys of moving.)

My brother Doug has upstaged me yet again.  It was his birthday the other day which comes just 2 weeks after my own.  For my birthday he gave me a Batman figure but he also told me that he ordered me up a little something online which hadn’t arrived yet.  The Batman made for a great gift on its own so any add-on was just gravy.  For Doug’s birthday I got him 2 of the Marvel “Famous Covers” figures which I recently discussed in my Iron Spider-Man review.  Doug’s favorite super hero is Captain America so of course he already owned the FC version of the star spangled Avenger but what he didn’t have was Cap’s arch enemy the Red Skull and his teammate the Black Widow.  At first I was only planning to get him the Red Skull but I decided I needed to go bigger to show my appreciation for the great Christmas gift he got me so I ordered the both of them.

We went out for lunch the other day and I presented him with the 2 dolls.  I think he was pleased with them. He then gave me a small cardboard box containing the “little something” which has since arrived.  Upstaged again.TF-Tenticus face

Doug and I were in our prime toy collecting years in the golden age of 80s action figures.  We witnessed the birth of toy lines like G.I. Joe, He-Man, and WWF.  Perhaps the biggest new craze in boy’s toys in the 1980s was transforming robots.  Everyone remembers the Transformers and some people remember the Go-Bots who played second fiddle on the transforming food chain.  But beyond those two dominant toy lines there were a ton of other transforming properties and dollar store knock-offs.  Doug and I had many of them.

I loved some of those generic old robots just as much, if not more than, some of my officially sanctioned Transformers.  I suppose that’s why I held onto toys like Wagon Master from the Esso Robot Racers or my dump truck from the Motorized Robot line, despite selling off almost my entire Transformer collection.  When we played Transformers most of those generic robots got in on the action as well.  And while they may not have been worthy of being kept in the Transformers box under my bed they always put up a good fight in our frequent figure drawer free-for-alls where all of the generic figures we owned duked it out for supremacy by chucking everyone else of the bed, Royal Rumble style.Tf-Tenticus spider

While I regret getting rid of my vintage Transformers I can take comfort in the fact that if I really wanted to replace them I could.  They’re quite expensive now on the secondary market but they’re plentiful and many of them have even been re-issued.  Some of the toys that I most regret getting rid of are the generic ones that aren’t so easy to replace.  One such toy was a transforming silver spider I owned as a kid.

I couldn’t tell you anything about the figure other than what it looked like.  I didn’t where it came from, if it had a name, or when I got it.  It was just some cheap dumb toy I had for basically as long as I can remember.  Doug owned a purple scorpion from the same line.  I always assumed they came from a dollar store.TF-Tenticus carded

Many times on ebay I searched for my long lost transforming silver spider but to no avail.  I even searched for the purple scorpion in hopes that it would help me identify the spider but no luck there either.  I even found an online database, the sole purpose of which was to identify unknown miscellaneous transforming toys, and they weren’t there either.  I had pretty much given up on it.

Well Doug found that spider, along with the purple scorpion, and a bat and a bird from the same line, and gave them to me as my birthday add-on.  I’d been trying to locate this thing for a decade and he said he found it with a single search on ebay.  Doug also provided me with some background information.  The figures are from a line called Convertors and were made by a company called Select.  This revelation immediately jogged my memory and I was able to research them online.  There were a few other Convertors we owned as kids, like a cash register and a roulette wheel, which I had long since forgotten about. TF-Tenticus spider 2

My spider’s name is apparently Tenticus (great name) and he’s just how I remember him.  He’s got a very classic 80s look about him.  I’m very impressed that all his stickers are still in good shape but unfortunately his joints are loose as hell.  This guy pretty much crumbles when you try and stand him up so I don’t think he’ll be displayed on my Transformers shelf.  Every movable piece on this figure flops.  The same is true of the other three.  I couldn’t even get them to stand for a second to take a picture.

I love the colors of this figure.  He looks amazing in both robot and spider modes.  He’s got a vac metal head and spider legs and bright metallic green eyes.  I’m really happy to have this guy back in my collection and you van be sure that I’ll be seeking out more Select Convertors. 7 out of 10.TF-Tenticus gang

COSMOS (2014)

Tf-Cosmos mini fullTRANSFORMERS : GENERATIONS

The other day I bought two new figures from Hasbro’s “Transformers: Generations” line.  Yesterday I posted my review of Swerve.  Today I’m gonna review the other figure, Cosmos.

I never had the original Swerve toy in the 80s and had no prior attachment to the character.  He wasn’t featured in either the comics or cartoons when I was a kid.  I only became a fan of Swerve in the past couple of years since he’s been given a starring role in IDW’s Transformers comic.

With Cosmos it was the opposite.  I did have the original 1985 Cosmos figure and he was featured in the cartoons and comics regularly.   I know I say this a lot about numerous characters but Cosmos was truly one of my favorite Transformers.  The toy was quite small but the small Transformers were some of my favorites, in part, because they could be transformed so quickly.  I hated complicated transformations.  Cosmos transformed into a flying saucer-like UFO.  It was a very unique design back then because all of the other Transformers turned into true-to-life vehicles.  I never cared much for cars and trucks but I found Cosmos’ 1950s sci-fi movie vibe very appealing.

1985 Cosmos

1985 Cosmos

The original figure’s biggest issue was how rigid it was.  Like fellow mini-bots, Warpath and Seaspray, Cosmos’ legs were stuck together and he had no knee or elbow joints.  He essentially had 2 or 3 points of articulation.  Cosmos also had a bit of a ghetto booty going on due to the rounded design of his alt-mode.

When Hasbro launched their Generations line (then called Classics) in the mid-2000s they set the bar high.  The first figure I got was Bumblebee and I couldn’t believe how much better that figure was when compared to the original mini-bot Bumblebee figure.  The Generations version was bigger, had plenty of articulation, multiple paint apps, and captured the spirit of the character I’d come to know from the cartoon.  I couldn’t wait to get updated versions of my favorite mini-bots like Gears, Windcharger, and Cosmos. Tf-Cosmos mini ufo

To this day, Hasbro still hasn’t given me a Gears.  Luckily third party manufacturing iGear stepped up to the plate on that one.  I did finally get a Windcharger in 2010, and while he was vastly superior to the 1980s original in regards to articulation and cartoon accuracy, I was disappointed that he wasn’t made in the same scale as Bumblebee.  Windcharger remained a mini-bot even though his mini brothers-in-arms like Bumblebee, Cliff Jumper, and Warparth got promoted to the “big” leagues.

Hasbro also released an updated Cosmos in 2009.  I couldn’t find him anywhere locally so I ordered him online for about $30.  I was expecting an update that matched the size and quality of Bumblebee.  What I got was a stiff, crappy, waste of money.  Like Windcharger, Cosmos was still just as small as the 1985 toy, but unlike Windcharger he wasn’t vastly superior to the original. My 2009 Cosmos was stiff and crappy with big dumb arms.  The fact that I overpaid for him only magnified my disdain.TF-Cosmos mini back

iGear released  their own unlicensed version of Cosmos, named UFO , a couple of years ago.  I thought that buying UFO would be my opportunity to finally own a decent Cosmos figure.  UFO was bigger than the Hasbro release, but still not as big as Bumblebee, and it had multiple design issues that I wasn’t happy with including really teeny feet.  Worst of all he was really expensive.  If neither Hasbro nor a third party manufacturer could get it right I assumed I was fated to never get a good Cosmos figure.

When I first glanced at online thumbnails of this new Cosmos figure a few weeks ago, I assumed Hasbro was just re-releasing the crappy 2009 version so I didn’t look at it very closely.  It wasn’t until I saw the figure on a peg in Walmart last weekend that I realized it was a whole new mold.  I decided to buy him but my expectations were low.TF-Cosmos mini pose

Once I got my new Transformers home and opened them up, I was as surprised by the quality of Cosmos as I was by the quality of Swerve; these are great figures.  This Cosmos retains all of his classic elements but he’s been modernized to resemble his appearance in the IDW comics.  His head no longer looks like a pushpin, it’s actually got some cool detail and design elements.  Instead of looking fat, this Cosmos actually looks kind of buff.  He’s got plenty of articulation and despite his small size I just think it’s a fantastic figure.  After 30 years of lackluster Cosmos figures its awesome to finally get a good one that I’m proud to display. TF-Cosmos mini swerve

And if you need any more incentive to go pick this guy up, he also comes with an even smaller Transformer, Payload, who can transform into a space shuttle or be used as Cosmos’ gun.  It’s great to get this much bang for your buck these days when so many other toy lines are cutting corners while prices continue to rise. Highly recommended.  10 out of 10.

iGear's UFO, 2014 Cosmos, and 2009 Cosmos

iGear’s UFO, 2014 Cosmos, and 2009 Cosmos

SWERVE (2014)

TF-Swerve mini fullTRANSFORMERS : GENERATIONS

When it comes to Transformers toys, it boggles my mind just how out of touch Hasbro seems to be with a large percentage of their consumer base.  The toy stores have been flooded with multiple variations of Bumblebee and Optimus Prime for years now. Ever since the first Michael Bay movie hit theatres we’ve been getting the same characters over and over again in various shapes and sizes.  I realize that toys are made primarily with children in mind, and so the most popular characters are continuously recycled ensuring that they’re always available to the kiddies, but I was a kid once and I didn’t want the same characters over and over again.  I liked diversity in my toy lines.  Every six months or so we’d get a whole new crop of characters which was what kept me excited about collecting.  I wish Hasbro gave kids today a little more credit and trusted them to keep buying Transformers even if Bumblebee wasn’t available for a few months. Tf-Swerve mini truck

Now, I have no problem with either Bumblebee or Optimus Prime.  What bothers me about their never ending tenure on the toy pegs is that they take up space that could be used for other characters. Hasbro knows that nostalgic adults like me make up a sizable portion of their clientele and what I want are new versions of the classic toys I owned in the 80s.  Sure they throw me a bone here and there, producing the odd “Generations” figure but that line has essentially been going for a decade now and we haven’t even come close to getting updated versions of the Transformers toys released in even the first 4 years of the original line.  Where are my Constructicons?  My Insecticons?  My Protectobots?  My frig’n Dinobots!? 

Having said that, things seem to be improving.  In the past few months we’ve been getting a steady flow of Generations figures.  Many of them are fan-favorite characters who have been missing from my shelf for far too long: Hoist, Skids, Trailbreaker, etc. TF-Swerve mini back

One recent development that I’m really pleased about is the coordination of the toy releases with the characters featured in the Transformers comic published by IDW.  Normally I would’ve passed over recent “Generations” releases of characters like Dreadwing or Waspinator who weren’t prominent Generation 1 characters, .  But because of their involvement in IDWs current storyline they now seem like essential buys.  Some of them even come packaged with an IDW comic book featuring them.  It’s cross promotion at it’s finest. 

The comics are so well written these days that I find myself drawn to characters I had no interest in before.  Swerve, for example, has become one of my favorite Transformers. I never owned the original figure as a kid because as far as I was concerned he was nothing but a second-rate repainted Gears. It’s amazing how a good writer can change your mind on a character.  After reading a few issues that heavily featured Swerve I really wanted a comic accurate version of him.  Hasbro really let me down when they repainted Kup red and white and tried to pass him off as Swerve.  I bought that stupid figure, which looked nothing like Swerve, just so I could say I had him.  I knew I wasn’t likely to get a better one anytime soon given Hasbro’s track record. TF-Swerve mini pose

But then a few months later my prayers were answered by a third party manufacturer who gave me a fantastic, albeit very expensive, version of Swerve.  Once I had iGears’s version of Swerve in hand I was content. 

Cut to a few months later when another third party manufacturer announced they’d be releasing their own version of Swerve.  I had planned to avoid it, as those third-party figures are damn pricey, but once I saw how great the prototype looked I couldn’t resist pre-ordering myself one. So I’ll have two good Swerves and one crappy Hasbro one, so what?  It’s not like I don’t own 20 Snake Eyes figures. 

And then, almost immediately afterwards I saw that Hasbro was releasing a new version of Swerve themselves, this one actually based on his comic book appearance.  The images I saw online showed promise.  It was a nice looking figure but quite small when compared to the third party versions.  I felt confident that I wouldn’t need it. 

However, this past weekend I saw Hasbro’s new Swerve, along with their new Cosmos, hanging on a peg at Walmart.  They had one of each and both, while small, looked great.  I figured what the hell and chucked’em in my cart. TF-Swerve mini piggyback

I gotta give credit where it’s due.  Hasbro has really surprised me here.  This is an awesome Swerve figure.  It may even  be better than the iGear version I raved about last year despite being half it’s size.  This version is more posable and more comic book accurate.  The colors are much brighter, which was my main gripe about iGear’s version, and their more true to the comic version.  He’s got red legs, he’s short in stature, he’s got wheels high up on the shoulders, and he has a little smirking face; all elements that were missing on iGears.

Plus this figure only cost me $12.99 AND he came packaged with a mini figure that can transform into a gun he can hold.  It seems crazy to give this rinky dink little figure  a 10 but I’ve got to…10 out of 10.TF-Swerve mini compare