Monthly Archives: June 2014

KRAKEN

Joe-Kraken fullG. I. JOE

I have never been a toy customizer.  I buy what the toy companies produce and that’s the end of it.  I’m well aware that there is a large segment of the collecting community who like to customize their own figures but that’s never been my thing.  Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to be able to produce quality figures of characters that I want but the key word there is “quality”.  I’ve made a handful of custom toys over the years (example 1, example 2, example 3) but they pretty much always suck.  I simply don’t have the ability, nor frankly the drive, to produce factory quality customs so I don’t even bother trying.Joe-Kraken face

Some collector’s make their own customs by taking their figures apart and mixing and matching parts.  This saves you the trouble of painting but I’ve never really had any desire to attempt this either.  I prefer to just sit back and hope that Hasbro will eventually make the G.I. Joe and Transformers characters that I want.

However, the other day I dumped out one of my many bags of G.I. Joe accessories.  I did this so I could take a generic “accessories” picture for my  updated “about me” page.  Almost every Joe figure I buy comes with extra junk that ends up in a bag of miscellaneous accessories never to be seen again.  While I was scooping up the loose accessories after taking the photo I needed I realized that I have some pretty cool stuff going to waste; not just extra guns and knives but extra heads and webgear too.

Joe-Kraken gunsThat’s when I remembered the crappy Duke figure I had seated in one of my vehicles.  A while back I bought some loose Joe figures from Giant Robot Comics, a local comic shop on the other side of the bridge in Dartmouth.  One of the items I bought was the black SNAKE/SERPENT Armor from the “Rise of Cobra” movie line. The Snake armor can be used on a figure or on it’s own.   When i opened the armor I expected to find the rubber “skeleton” inside which is what holds all the pieces together when displayed solo but instead I found a figure inside; a really crappy figure.  I didn’t recognize the figure immediately.  It was blonde, had a black long sleeve shirt and gloves, bright green pants, and brown boots.  He didn’t have any accessories like a helmet or webgear.  I wrote him off as a crappy version of Duke that probably originally came packaged with some vehicle.  I tend to pass on a lot of Duke figures, especially when they come with vehicles.  The Duke was too plain to display on his own so I sat him in a jeep and didn’t give him a second thought.  He’s been sitting in that jeep for 2 years.Joe-Kraken walk

The sight of all the extra heads and gear made me think, “I shouldn’t let that crappy Duke go to waste. I should swap out some of his parts and arm him to customize a brand new character.” Before breaking him up I figured that I should at least identify which version of Duke it was.  It was only once I really looked at him that I realized that it wasn’t even Duke.  The head belonged to General Hawk and the body seemed to be a mish- mash of parts from other figures.  The black underwear over the green pants Superman-style was a dead give-away that this was already somebody’s crappy custom. That made me feel that much better about butchering him myself.

I popped off the Hawk head and gave him the extra masked head that came with Ultimate Duke (2013).  This was a good generic head that did not look like any recognizable Joe characters.  I gave him a Cobra Shock Trooper vest (I’m not sure why I have an extra one) then I armed him with a satchel and a couple of guns.  It was an improvement but he still looked pretty plain.  Then I came across the back tentacles that came with Nemesis Enforcer.  I thought, “why not?”.  The green of the tentacles matched his bright green pants and helped tie the figure together better. The tentacles also helped me come up with a back story and name for the character. I decided that he is a Cobra-la agent, like Nemesis Enforcer, sent to join the ranks of Cobra disguised as a human.  The name Kraken seemed like a good fit.

The last thing I gave him, just to add a little extra flare, was a coil of barbed wire around each leg.  No, it doesn’t make sense but I thought it looked kind of cool and gave me an excuse to use some otherwise useless accessories.  I think it kind of looks like Spawn’s big round boot.  So here he is, my first G.I. Joe custom.  I now have him displayed amongst my Cobra hierarchy instead of down in the Joe’s motor pool.  I know he kind of sucks but at least now I’m getting some use out of a previously wasted figure.  5 out of 10Joe-Kraken spawnJoe-Kraken boots

 

BATTLE LION (2014)

MOTUC-Battle lion fullMASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS

I’ve loved the Masters of the Universe brand from the first moment I laid eyes on it. It was like the fantasy of Clash of the Titans mixed with the science fiction of Star Wars. It had mermen and cyborgs in flying spaceships doing battling with bee-people and robots riding dinosaur skeletons; how could you not love it? The weak link of the brand, in my opinion, was always the star of the series, He-Man. The barbarian with the bad haircut simply couldn’t compete with his wacky array of allies and enemies. One thing that He-Man did have going for him was that he rode around on an armored green tiger named Battle Cat. Like Urkel on a Harley there was no denying that He-Man was a dork with a cool ride.MOTUC-Battle lion stand

The original Battle Cat was far more than just a four-legged means of transportation; he was a full on character in his own right. He spoke, fought in battles, and was essentially treated as just another one of the Masters. Like He-Man had his wimpy alter-ego Prince Adam, Battle Cat spent his days as the cowardly Cringer. The difference between the two was that Prince Adam only pretended to be a wimp whereas Cringer really was a scaredy cat in his day-to-day life. It took a zap from He-Man’s power sword to transform Cringer into Battle Cat both physically and mentally. As Battle Cat he wore crimson armor that made him look like something that belonged in a gladiator arena.

In the 2002 relaunch of the MOTU animated series and toy line Battle Cat’s ability to speak was scrapped and he acted more as a pet than a companion. Yet the overall design of the character, a green tiger with orange stripes, remained basically the same. He still wore red armor but the 2002 armor design was more technology based and less gladiatorial. MOTUC-Battle lion group

I was a fan of the 80s cartoon as a kid but I find it didn’t hold up over time. The 2002 series however holds up very well with its top notch animation and complex storylines. The 2002 series added many new elements to the MOTU mythos including the tale of He-Man’s greatest ancestor King Grayskull. Grayskull looked very similar to He-Man only he was bulkier and his hair was longer. He only appeared in one episode of the series but it was an impactful one. He made such an impression on fans that he was actually the first character ever to be constructed in the Classics format way back in 2008.

If the idea behind telling Greyskull’s origin story in the episode “The Power of Greyskull” was to portray He-Man’s predecessor as a larger-than-life hero whose shoes even He-Man felt he could not fill, than mission accomplished. And while his massive size and his epic victories over the Snake Men and Hordak had a lot to do with it, it was his mount that sealed the deal. What’s more bada** than riding a green tiger? Riding a giant green f**king lion that’s what. Battle Lion was shown to be a hulking beast who wore armor very similar to Battle Cat. He was hella cool looking but I never expected to get an action figure oh him. It was a pleasant surprise when I found out that he was going to be included in the 2014 Classics line-up.MOTUC-Battle lion toon

I should’ve known that a Battle Lion figure would be released considering it looks like it was a relatively easy thing to do. His body is the exact same as Battle Cats, minus the orange stripes. The only new pieces that needed to be sculpted were the head and the armor. The head is totally awesome and unique and goes a long way in separating this figure from the other beasts that were made using this exact body (Battle Cat, Panthor, Griffin). The mane is huge and flowing with a ton of detail. The face has a scowl that could easily unnerve Skeletor and there’s a nice texture to the sculpted fur. The jaw is hinged so his mouth can be opened and closed though the movement is hindered by his massive saber-teeth.

The armor is technological yet simple and looks pretty true to what we saw in the animation. One thing that’s kind of cool about the armor is that it fits on Classics Battle Cat. The Classics Battle Cat figure came with the 80s Gladiator style armor, but now you can dress him up in his 2002 techno-look if you prefer. MOTUC-Battle lion face

My only gripe in regards to Battle Lion would be that I think this figure would be way cooler if it was bigger. He was shown in the cartoon to be a truly massive beast that would likely dwarf Battle Cat. Having them the exact same size kind of diminishes Battle Lion’s impact. That being said, had they made him bigger it would have required all new tooling and then he probably would’ve cost twice as much. As it is, I can put up with his smaller stature if it means I have a few more bucks in my wallet.

This is a very cool toy and I’m stoked to finally have a mount for my King Greyskull figure. I wish I was 8 years old again so I could go tear around in the backyard with this thing. 8 out of 10.MOTUC-Battle lion compare

BOSS FIGHT STUDIOS KICKSTARTER

bfs_kickstarter_longFor this post I won’t be reviewing any of my action figures but plugging a line of new action figures that I think you should take a look at.  Boss Fight Studio is an independent design studio for toys and collectables.  I became familiar with them through the work they’ve done for the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club but they’ve also worked on brands such as Transformers, Star Wars, and Marvel.  I’m not sure what pieces they worked on in regards to those other brands but the work they’ve done on G.I. Joe has been fantastic.  The Club does a good job of reuses existing pieces to create figures for their subscription service and convention sets but it’s the newly sculpted pieces by the gang at BFS that elevate the figures to must-haves.11_Crimson_Guard_Immortal1

BFS recently teamed up with Marauder Inc. to create a new line of Joe compatible military figures.  Marauder has been around a long time creating realistic weapons and accessories for Joe figures but with the help of BFS they launched their first toy line: Marauder Task Force Gaming Figures.  Marauder funded the their new toy line through a Kickstarter campaign.  If you’re not familiar with Kickstarter here’s a quick run down of what I know, but I am by no means an expert.  Basically, if you have an idea that needs funding you start a Kickstarter campaign page, stating the set amount of funds you need to finance the project, and then you promote the heck out of it in an attempt to get sponsors.  Sponsors contribute money in hopes of reaching the goal.  If the goal is reached the project goes forward and sponsors receive anything from good karma to physical product, to one-of-a kind extras based on how much money they donated.  I know the recent Veronica Mars movie was funded this way and one of the creators of Tank Girl recently funded a new hard cover TG book via Kickstarter.47097c823feacde1a6f0f4440c75bc21_large

The military figures offered by Marauder were awesome so I couldn’t help but back the project.  Marauder reached their goal and now I’m just waiting for the figures to be produced and shipped to me (estimated for December).  In hindsight I should have told you about that project when the campaign was still on but fear not, the figures will be available for sale to everyone next year.  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1732159183/marauder-task-force-gaming-figures?ref=email839161cea3892b9f658e628e426a9333_large

Well as of the beginning of June BFS has launched their very own Kickstarter campaign to finance their own line of figures called Vitruvian H.A.C.K.S. and I wanted to let you in on it before the campaign closes on July 11. This initial series of HACKS (highly articulated character kit systems) consist of Spartans and Gorgons.  It’s a little far removed from G.I. Joe and the other brands I collect but it looks to be an amazing set of figures.  The body construction is similar to that of modern Joes but much more posable and customizable.  The first wave of figures is made up of a Spartan Warrior, Medusa, a stone Spartan, and a Gorgon soldier.  BFS has already surpassed their initial funding goal of $75,000 so those 4 figures are guaranteed to be produced.  However, as more people back the project new “stretch goals” get unlocked and more figures get added to the assortment. There’s the possibility of 39 figures being produced if they reach the final stretch goal of $325,000.

So I encourage you to take a look at the project and if you like what you see then show your support and back it.  I have zero affiliation with BFS but I love their work and I’d like to see as many figures produced as possible. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/813878470/boss-fight-studios-vitruvian-hacks-action-figures447a2565ff24275b8ca4e4f82d197f08_large

THE ROCKETEER (2014)

Rocketeer retro cardedREACTION FIGURES: ROCKETEER

It took me a little while to get on board but eventually I was won over by the cuteness of the cutesy Pop! figurines produced by Funko. Well now Funko has a new brand, ReAction, that’s perhaps even more appealing. Under the ReAction banner Funko is releasing late 70s/early 80s inspired action figures from a vast array of beloved properties. The first property they tackled last year was ALIEN. They produced a series of 5 figures based on the classic 1979 film; each sculpted in the vintage 5-points of articulation style. They looked like the simple figures I played with as a kid, like Kenner’s Star Wars toys and Fisher Price’s Adventure People. To some it may seem like a step backwards after years of improvement in the sculpting and articulation of action figures but I don’t think so. I certainly wouldn’t want all action figures to revert to this type of construction but it is neat that such an option is available to nostalgic collectors like me.Rocketeer retro alien

From the ALIEN series I bought the Alien, and truth be told I’m not even a big fan of that franchise. I was maybe just a little too young to appreciate it because I was too busy being terrified. Had I been a bigger fan of the film I may have bought the whole series, but as a casual fan the Alien xenomorph was plenty. It may have freaked me out, but even as a kid I appreciated the bizarre creature design by H.R. Giger (R.I.P.). Half of the appeal of the simplified ReAction figure was the retro packaging. It had a great 80s vibe to it; from the shape of the card, to the movie image and even the fonts and boarders. It looked fantastic. I’m not usually one to keep my toys in their packages but in the case of the Alien I tacked it to my wall as a display piece. Rocketeer retro figure

Not long after the ALIEN series of figures came out Funko announced that they would be releasing about 70 more ReAction figures in the coming months based on dozens of properties like A Nightmare Before Christmas, Pulp Fiction, Back to the Future, and a couple of my favorite movies: The Crow and the Rocketeer. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on some poorly sculpted, bad actor-likeness, limited movement, action figures based on my favorite comic book flicks.

Well as of a couple weeks ago the wait was over, at least for my retro Rocketeer (still waiting on my Crow). My local comic shop, Strange Adventures, received their shipment of Rocketeers and he was available at a much more reasonable price than the $20 ALIEN figures were. If the price point stays close to $10 bucks on these ReAction figures you’d be foolish not to buy them; they’re just so damn charming.Rocketeer retro back

The Rocketeer is well sculpted in that simple kind of way. All of the color choices are true to the character’s comic and movie appearance. He’s wearing his signature flight jacket, boots, and pants. Perhaps the coolest aspect of this figure is that it’s my first Rocketeer figure (I have 3 others) that has a removable helmet. Even my super detailed, very expensive, Rocketeer couldn’t take his helmet off. This is the first time Cliff Secord gets to flash his mischievous smile in plastic form. The helmet and jet pack are both removable and sitting in a separate bubble on the blister card. They both look good on their own. I can’t tell you exactly how they look on the figure because I’ve decided to keep this one sealed too but there is a nice shot of him fully geared up on the back of the package. Speaking of the package the card art is just stellar. It features promotional art from the film’s theatrical release. It’s an image I’ve always loved and have wanted a copy for my wall for years. I’m actually tempted to buy a second one of these to open so I can keep the beautifully packaged one on my wall and still have one to sit on my desk. It’s a great figure. 8 out of 10.Rocketeer retro group

EPIC HAUL- JUNE 19th, 2014

haul June 20I’ve had some pretty epic toy hauls in my day. As a kid, every Christmas was legendary because not only did I get multiple figures but vehicles as well. Almost every big toy my brother Doug and I ever got, be it a G.I. Joe airplane or Castle Grayskull, came on Christmas morning. Birthdays were a close second on the epic scale. As an adult collector I had a huge toy haul when the first wave of G.I. Joe Retaliation figures came out and I bought them all up the day they hit the shelves. I often times let my purchases from BigBadToyStore accumulate at their warehouse for a few months before requesting they send them so I can save on shipping. When those boxes arrive in the mail it can be pretty epic. One key difference between the epic toy hauls of my childhood and the ones of my adulthood is that the adulthood ones cost me a fortune. Toys do not come cheap these days. It’s always a pretty good day when my G.I. Joe Convention set arrives in the mail each spring but those 15 figures cost me a hefty $400. Ouch.

Well, my haul of June 19, 2014 may very well be the most epic toy haul of my entire life.

Hopefully you’re aware that I have a facebook page devoted to this blog. If you enjoy the blog you should click the facebook link on the right side of the screen and “like” the page. Every time I post a review I share a link on that page so you always know when there’s new content. I occasionally post pictures of new purchases on there as well before I have a chance to write a full review for the blog. However, if you’d like to get a hold of me you should do it through the comments section on this blog and not through the facebook page. For whatever reason, I don’t get notifications when someone leaves me a message on facebook. On a couple of occasions I haven’t realized I had a message from someone until weeks after the fact.

I recently noticed that someone named Eric had messaged me via the facebook page. I didn’t see the message until a full month later. The message said that he enjoyed my blog and that he had some toys that he was thinking of getting rid of and he asked if I wanted them. I felt like a heel having not replied to this generous offer earlier but I wrote him back as soon as I saw it. I was sure he would have gotten rid of the toys by now but I thanked him for the offer. He wrote back and said that he still had them and that he could put a box on a train for me which I could pick up at the train station the following day. I thanked him again and said sure. He wrote back the next day to tell me the box was sent and that I could expect to receive some vintage G.I. Joes and a handful of Transformers.

I went to the train station the next day to pick up the package. The train was an hour late so I sat around for a while in anticipation. I wondered what Joes would be in the box and what kind of shape they’d be in. Since I didn’t know Eric at all outside of our 3 or 4 messages I hoped that he wasn’t going to send me a severed foot or something. You never know about people you meet on the internet.

Once the train finally arrived a large white box with my name on it was handed to me. I half expected them to tell me I owed a massive shipping charge or something but nope, just a signature and I was out of there.

The box was big; much bigger than I was expecting. It was big enough to hold my parents microwave, which is saying something because their microwave is OLD.  I could hear what sounded like action figures shuffling around inside as I walked with it. The anticipation was killing me now.Haul-omega

When I got the box home I immediately tore into it. The very first things I saw were a 1986 Metroplex and a 1985 Omega Supreme (You can read my reviews of newer versions of those characters here and here). Then I saw a 1984 Soundwave, complete with all his weapons, and his henchman Buzzsaw in his chest. I was like, “holy s**t”.

I stopped what I was doing and called Doug. I went through the rest of the box with him on the phone. There were a total of 17 vintage Transformers; all of them were dusty but in good shape. The stickers all seemed to be intact and most of the weapons were accounted for as well. There was Razorclaw, Divebomb, Onslaught, Blaster, Powerglide, Seaspray, Warpath, Topspin, Laserbeak, Ramhorn, Cosmos, Nosecone, and 2 other dudes I don’t recognize. This alone would have been an absolutely epic haul.

But there were also 8 vintage ninja turtles figures in a plastic bag; all four original turtles, Casey Jones, Krang, Donatello in a trench coat, and Raphael as an astronaut. I still have the vintage Leonardo and Donatello that I had as a kid but Doug owned Michelangelo and Raphael back then so it’s nice to have a complete foursome of my own now. Another great score.

Once I had all the Transformers and turtles out of the box I was looking at 3 vintage G.I. Joe carrying cases from 1982, and two shoe boxes (ne of which was tied up with ribbons). Each case holds 12 figures and has a compartment for weapons and filecards; Doug had one of these back in the day. It was intended to hold the original 1982 line-up of figures but Eric had them populated with a random array of figures. I went through each one and rhymed off the names of the figures. 3 vintage cases and 36 figures is another epic haul. But the shoeboxes remained.

I opened up the first one and had a flashback to my childhood when I stored all my Joes in a shoe box nearly filled to the top. This box was so full of Joes that they were practically spilling out over the edges when I opened it. I took them out one at a time, naming them to Doug as I went. He has a near complete vintage Joe collection but a couple of times he piped up with “Oh, I need that guy!” There ended up being 156 vintage Joes in total, dating back to the very first wave of figures in 1982 all the way up to the final classic wave in 1994. Highlights were original versions of Baroness, Destro, Zartan, Storm Shadow, Gung-Ho, Duke, Cobra Trooper, Cobra Officer, Flash, Steeler, Rock n Roll, Viper, hooded Cobra Commander, the Crimson Twins, Flint, and Lady Jaye, just to name a few. This collection of Joe figures is bigger than the one I had as a kid. It’s absolutely crazy. Had you given me this box when I was 10 years old I’m certain my face would have melted off. And there was still one more shoebox to go.

87 100% complete figures

87 100% complete figures

 

The last shoebox was the one all wrapped up in ribbons. If there was a severed foot anywhere this collection it was bound to be in that box. But at this point I didn’t even care. Go ahead, send me a severed foot. I was so toy drunk that Eric was practically a saint in my eyes now and could do no wrong.  As it turns out the last box was just full of Joe accessories (and a few more figures). This box was also near overflowing with Joe goodness. By the time I finishing matching the weapons to the figures, which took 2 nights, I had 87 100% complete vintage Joe figures.

Many of these figures will fill holes in my RAH collection. A few will go to Doug, and a few more will be paid forward to other Joe fans I know. I am very grateful for this random act of kindness. Eric could have easily taken these to a local flea market or comic shop and made a few bucks but he said he wanted them to go to someone who will appreciate them.

So thank you Eric. I’ve never asked anyone to send me their old toys and that was never the point of this blog. This isn’t a business for me in any way, just an excuse to write about the figures I enjoy collecting. This was a very unexpected and very epic haul (and FREE like the good old days). 11 out of 10.

WARPATH (KRE-O)

Kreo-Warpath fullKRE-O : TRANSFORMERS

I think it’s time for another Kre-O review. I’ve accumulated a hefty little collection of these Lego wannabes over the past year and a half but I’ve only reviewed a couple of them. The main reason for that is I find them hard to photograph. I’m a pretty sucky photographer at the best of times and these figures, with their flat bodies, tend to reflect the flash so badly that I lose all the detail. I shall try to take decent pictures for this review but I’m not promising anything.

The first wave of Kre-O blind packed Transformers, called “Micro-Changers”, consisted of 6 figures, a couple of popular characters and a few B-listers. I found them for sale for a buck-fifty in a drug store sometime around Christmas 2012. I never had any interest in block figures as an adult collector before but for that price I figured I’d check them out. I bought 2packs, hoping for Galvatron and Sunstorm but I ended up with Scorponok and Waspinator.  I found them to be a cute novelty but I assumed they would be my first and last Kre-O figures.Kreo-Warpath G1

But shortly afterwards Hasbro announced that they were planning a line of G.I. Joe Kre-Os.  I’m much more of a Joe junkie than a Transformers guy so I knew I’d have to get those. And if I was gonna amass a brick army of Joes I figured I might as well pick up a few more Transformers to help populate the shelf.

The second wave of Transformer blind pack Micro-Changers consisted of 12 figures; this time about half of them appealed to me. I was paying full price for them now (about $4.00) so luckily I had since discovered that there were character identifying numbers discreetly perforated on the sides of the packages; meaning the blind packs weren’t quite so blind. Wasting money on doubles is never fun and these numbers were a big help in avoiding that. But, while it was nice to be able to pick and choose the characters I wanted, it did cost me some dignity as I rooted through the box of blind packs placed by the front cash of my local Toys R us, carefully searching for specific numbers.

Kreo-Warpath compareA few more waves of figures have come out over the past year and a half and each time I go through the same embarrassing search. My rummaging has paid off though because I have almost all of the blind pack characters I want and none of the duds. Warpath is one of those figures I sought out in wave 2 (package number 43 if you’re interested).

Warpath is an Autobot who transforms into a little red tank. He’s been around since the very beginning with his first figure being released in 1985. That original toy left a little to be desired but it was still pretty great in its simplicity. Warpath was far from an integral character in the Transformers mythos but every line he spoke in his cartoon appearances was memorable. “BANG! BOOM! POW!”

This Kre-O version of Warpath is okay, not great. I’m sure it’s not easy to turn Transformers into Lego men and have them look accurate to their original toys but with Warpath they really missed the boat. Warpath always has a distinct grilled faceplate, not a smile. The red color, the tank treads on the arms, and the gun turret on his chest, all identify this as Warpath but I really wish they had put the proper face on him.  It wouldn’t have cost them any more money or required any more pieces to be included.  A few streaks of paint to represent his grilled faceplate would have made a world of difference.  It’s a shame.Kreo-warpath chestless

Another thing that bothers me about this figure is that there’s some really nice painted detail on his chest but it gets covered up by the red vest that slides over top of it.  This was an issue on many of the early Micro-Changers but Hasbro seems to be doing a better job of not hiding all the detail on more recent releases.

His tank mode is pretty ridiculous looking but I appreciate the effort that goes into working two build-able modes into one teeny little figure like this.  5 out of 10.Kreo-Warpath tank

GREEN GOBLIN (1978)

Marv-Goblin fullMARVEL (REMCO)

I realized the other day when I reviewed the Marvel Legends Ultimate Green Goblin build-a-figure that I hadn’t previously reviewed any Green Goblin figures. I have hundreds of figures in my collection that still need to be reviewed but after 600+ blog posts I was genuinely surprised when I realized I hadn’t yet reviewed a Green Goblin. That Ultimate Green Goblin figure was alright for what it was but it’s a far cry from what I would consider a “real” Green Goblin figure. So today I’ve decided to tackle a less-ultimate, more-classic version of Spidey’s arch nemesis. Marv-Goblin art

After deciding to review a “classic” Green Goblin figure my next decision was choosing which one. I have a multitude of Goblins to pick from, such as the 90s animation influenced figure by Toy Biz, the detail oriented Marvel Select figure by DST, the Marvel Universe 3 ¾” version by Hasbro, or the Lego-style Mini-Mate, just to name a few. As great as some of those figures are I’ve opted to review my very first Green Goblin toy.  This figure was released by defunct toy company Remco way back in 1978, the same year I was born.Marv-Goblin compare

I’ve been a huge Green Goblin fan for as long as I can remember. I’m not sure when I first encountered him; it may have been this toy, it may have been re-runs of the 70s animated show, it may have been the old-oversized reprint comic that my brother Doug owned, or maybe something else entirely. All I know is, that for as far back as my memories go, the Green Goblin has been one of my favorite fictional characters.  I think I might have liked him even more than Spider-Man back then.  Even after I became an avid comic reader at 8 years old and became aware of a slew of new characters I still always said that the Goblin was my favorite villain.  Unfortunately I never got to read any new Green Goblin adventures because the character died in the comic books way back in 1973.  There were imitators over the years, some of which were great, but none quite lived up to the original.  I’m sure that some long-time readers found it sacrilegious but I was quite happy when the original Goblin was resurrected in 1996.Marv-Goblin face

Now this, my first ever Green Goblin action figure, isn’t even really an action figure. It stands over a foot tall and has zero points of  articulation.  It’s posed in a neutral position with one arm at its side and one arm raised. The rigidness didn’t exactly make it the most fun toy to play with but it did however have a few nifty play features. Marv-Goblin blade

On the Goblin’s back is a removable panel where you can insert a C battery. There’s a little off/on switch on his side. When turned on both of his accessories kick into action. In his raised hand he holds a goblin lamp, sort of shaped like his glider, which lights up. In his other hand he has a dual-blade web cutting gizmo that sort of looks like the satchel the Goblin traditionally wears over his shoulder. The blades slide back and forth with that classic wind-up toy whirring sound. The features are neat but still didn’t really add much play value to the toy. I didn’t usually keep a battery in it when I was a kid. I haven’t had a battery in it in decades but the blades would probably still work; I’m guessing the little light bulb in the lamp has long since expired though.Marv-Goblin back

I don’t recall how I would’ve played with this toy as a kid. I didn’t have any other toys in the same scale for it to fight (I had a Mego Spider-Man for a time but I destroyed it). I most likely just carried it around with me like a teddy bear, my “buddy of the day” as Doug and I would say.  I am impressed that I still have this figure after so many years but he has taken some abuse over the past 3 (nearly 4) decades. The battery latch on the back is loose and doesn’t stay in place very well, the electrical cord that connected the removable lamp to the Goblin’s back is torn, a part of his satchel is missing, and worst of all his head is broken off. His head has been busted for years but luckily I’ve never misplaced it. I used to hold it in place with sticky-tack so there’s still some blue residue on his neck stump. Marv-Goblin box

This toy may not be much to get excited about by today’s standards where figures have multiple points of articulation and super detailed sculpting but there’s a real charm to the toys of the 70s and 80s. This toy presents the Goblin in his most classic look: curly-toed boots, floppy hat, big ears, scaly limbs, and wearing what is essentially a purple one-piece lady’s bathing suit. Best of all is the face sculpt, just look at that sinister smile and big eyes. I only wish this thing was in better shape so I could display it proudly. 7 out of 10.Marv-Goblin deadMarv-Goblin face2

DESTRO v.7 (2002)

Joe-Destro v7 full2G. I. JOE

Some people would describe me as a big kid, though I don’t think that’s accurate. I would just like to think that I’m young at heart. But, heart aside, sometimes I feel very, very old. When I stop and think about things like The Matrix hitting theatres 15 years ago or Kurt Cobain being dead for 20 years I realize that time really does fly by. This figure is another stark reminder of what a relic I’ve become. The reason I write about the toys from the 1980s is because I’m nostalgic about my childhood. The reason I still listen to the Smashing Pumpkins and Bush is because I’m nostalgic about my teenage years. Those things seem fine. It’s the fact that I’m now so old that I can be nostalgic about earlier adulthood that’s troubling. Joe-Destro v7 face

 

 

By the early 2000s the toy lines I had been collecting as a teen like Gundam, Spawn, and the Marvel stuff produced by Toy Biz had all peaked and tapered off. Star Wars was still going strong but after the disappointing prequels I was burnt out on Battle Droids. The future of my toy collecting was looking bleak. But then, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, two of my favorite childhood toy lines were resurrected: Masters of the Universe and G.I. Joe. I’m sure some people were getting their toy news from the internet by 2002 but mine was still coming from a good old-fashioned magazine. I’ve talked before about how excited I was when it was revealed in the February 2002 issue of Toy Fare that Hasbro would be revisiting G.I. Joe; and not just with repaints, as they had been doing the past few years, but with brand new figures.Joe-Destro v7 carded

That initial wave had 10 figures and they were released in Joe vs Cobra 2-packs. All of the Cobra Troopers, like the Neo-Viper and the Moray, were entirely new characters but the rest of wave one featured newly sculpted versions of classic characters like Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow (this period later became known as the new-sculpt era). One of the 2-packs featured the Joe team’s resident Cajun marine, Gung-Ho, and Cobra’s arms-dealer, Destro. It was probably my least favorite of the 2-packs but I was still pretty excited about tracking it down.

It was my first time owning either a Gung-Ho or a Destro. Doug owned both versions 1 and 2 of each character when we were kids. Those 2002 versions didn’t come anywhere close to filling the shoes of the originals but it was still cool to be getting newly sculpted Joe figures.Joe-Destro v7 weapons

Destro’s version 1 look from 1983 is iconic. He had an exposed chest, a popped red collar, a large jewelled medallion, rocket launchers on his wrist, and a vac-metal head. The vac metal process gave his silver head a reflective coating that made it appear to be made of real metal. This 2002 figure had none of that. The exposed chest had been covered thus there was no medallion to be seen. He still had a “metal” head but without the vac-metal sheen. The logic of Destro having a metal mask that could emote was always tough to wrap your head around but this figure took it further than any that had come before. In place of the stoic visage of the original this figure has a nasty snarl on his face with exposed teeth and an evil glare complete with pupils. There are plenty of sculpted details on the mask as well which make it appear much more technologically advanced than his mask of old. The thing that bothers me most about this goofy mask is the exposed skin at the base of the skull and on the ears. Apparently he can eat with this thing on but he can’t hear so well. Joe-Destro v7 back

The body design is riddled with issues as well. He has arms like a gorilla that hang practically down to his knees. His legs are short too which accentuates the monkey arms. The new sculpt era was plagued by proportion issues like this. The costume design is decent though.  it’s much more militaristic this time around. The blue accents on the black costume look decent but I’d have preferred red so it was truer to the original figure. Hasbro did just that when they repainted this figure as Destro version 8 later that year.destro8

Another thing I must mention, and the reason why most Joe fans loathe these 2002 figures, is the change in construction from the classic O-ring to the ghetto dollar store T-crotch. Since 1982 Joe had been revolutionizing action figure articulation with innovations like ball jointed necks and swivel-arm battle grip. The rubber washer, or “O-ring”, that held them together was critical to a Joe figure’s range of movement. Hasbro did away with the O-ring after 20 years and constructed the 2002 figures with a Star Wars-style T-shaped crotch that greatly reduced the posability. I wasn’t a fan of the switch myself but it didn’t have me frothing at the mouth like some fans. The problem with the O-rings is that they deteriorate over time. Most of my vintage figures are in pieces because their washers rotted away. At least the T-crotch figures will stay in one piece for a good long time. By the end of the year Hasbro had switched back to the O-ring.  Though they did eventually perfect O-ring-less fully posable body construction with the launch of the modern era in 2007.

version 11 (2004) & version 1 (1983)

version 11 (2004) & version 1 (1983)

 

From an objective reviewer standpoint this is an awful figure. The lack of Destro iconography, the rehashed accessories (Firefly’s gun and phone), the limited articulation, the proportion issues, and the bad design elements all add up to a real turd of a figure. And yet, I can’t help but view it through my rose-colored nostalgia-tinted glasses. This figure came along at a time when I really needed it to in order to maintain my interst in toy collecting and it was my first ever Destro. A much better Destro figure came out a couple of months later so it’s not like I was saddled with this as my default Destro for long. Once I had a better one, I took to viewing this as a figure of Destro’s son Alexander from the Devil’s Due comics. That rationalization made this clunker more tolerable. I know I shouldn’t but I kind of like this god awful action figure. 4 out of 10.

PSYCHE OUT v.4 (2013)

Joe-Psyche v4 fullG. I. JOE

I had planned to get all of the Night Force figures from last year’s Joe Con collector’s set reviewed before the Club revealed their upcoming repaints but I’ve been slack with my reviews and the Club is unveiling their figure subscription service (FSS) 3.0 products fast and furious these days. Registration to subscribe to this year’s FSS is up now and will remain open until July. Thus far the Club has revealed images of about half of the figures planned for this year. Of the 6 Night Force characters included in the 2013 convention set (Muskrat, Charbroil, Repeater, Spearhead, Psyche Out, and Hit & Run) all of them except Charbroil will be included in FSS 3.0, repainted in their version 1 colors. I mistakenly told you in my recent Charbroil review that a repainted Charbroil was coming too. I’m sure we’ll get a rust colored Charbroil eventually but not this year. The first FSS 3.0 figure reveal was an orange camouflaged Spearhead. The colors have been toned down from the original ’88 look but I like it. Then they showed us their v1 inspired Muskrat. It looks better than the Night Force version and has some cool new accessories but, as I stated in my review of the Night Force figure last week, I’m not really a fan of the character or the toy. The Club’s most recent reveal was their 1987 version 1 inspired repaint of Psyche Out.Joe-Psyche v4 face

The vintage G.I. Joe toy line was littered with weird characters and Psyche Out was one of them. He wasn’t as “out there” as the snake-bodied Golobulus or the metal football-on-a-chain wielding Refrigerator Perry but he was still pretty weird. Psyche Out’s file card described him as the Joe team’s Psy-Ops trooper; a master of deceptive warfare. Apparently he used the power of suggestion via radio waves to win battles. It seemed a little far-fetched but it made about as much sense as Cobra employing a Reveen-like hypnotist (Crystal Ball) to do the same thing on their end. Oddly enough Doug and I never clued in, back when we were kids, that Psyche Out and Crystal Ball would have made great arch enemies. I suppose that’s partly because Doug owned Psyche Out and I owned Crystal Ball. Rarely did we have feuds that crossed over the “ownership line”.

1987 version 1

1987 version 1

Besides having an odd military specialty Psyche Out also looked pretty strange. He had a quilted neon-green jacket, some futuristic looking armor, metal earmuffs, an antennae on the top of his head, and satellite dishes all over his body. His hair was bright yellow and parted down the middle. He was definitely one of the dorkier looking Joes. But he wasn’t a hated figured, we didn’t even not like him, he just didn’t see much action. Psyche Out was one of those Joes that spent a good chunk of his time sitting at the computer console at Joe headquarters rather than doing things like infiltrating Cobra base.

1988 version 2 "Night Force"

1988 version 2 “Night Force”

A second version of Psyche Out was released in 1988, repainted in subdued Night Force colors. Even his hair was repainted a more realistic shade of dirty blonde. Doug and I never owned that figure. We didn’t own version 3 either which was a ridiculous figure that looked nothing like the previous versions. Years later I acquired the baby blue, Captain Power reject, that is Psyche Out version 3 but I picked it up as an amusing novelty, not because I had to have it.

Version 4, the subject of this review, was what I would consider to be my first “legit” Psyche Out figure. After Spearhead, he was the Joe I was most excited about getting from last year’s set. He’s one of those characters that I’ve grown more fond of over time but I couldn’t tell you why. It’s not like he’s making a big impact in the comic books or anything, I’ve just gained a new appreciation for his off-beat look and purpose.

This figure is based on the 1988 version 2 Psyche Out. The colors match up pretty well to the original. The dirty blonde hair and the tan shirt make for a much more subdued Psyche Out then I’m used to.

with 1991's version 3

with 1991’s version 3

Design wise, the Club pulled off a pretty good approximation of the original Psyche Out using Duke and Zartan pieces. The most noticeable design difference is that Psyche Out now has short sleeves.  The head is a newly tooled piece which is a very good thing as I don’t think there are any other heads out there that could have stood in for Psyche Out considering all of his original design elements such as the parted hair, antennae and earphones. The head is very well sculpted and immediately recognizable though it does look a little sad. My only issue with the design of this figure is that he seems to have a slight hunch. I’m not sure if it’s just an illusion caused by the popped collar or if the new head really does sit funny on the Duke neck. It’s not a huge deal but the hunch, along with the sad mug, make Psyche Out look pretty down in the dumps.Joe-Psyche v4 back

For accessories Psyche Out has a rifle, a pistol, an unweildy backpack with adjustable panels, a weird radio-transmitter thing with a satellite dish, and a few snap on dishes that can be placed on his arms. It’s a good mix of stuff and appropriate for the character. In a somewhat odd choice, the Club gave him red dishes, while the 1988 Night Force Psyche Out had black dishes. The red adds some color to a figure boarding on bland but from a logical standpoint I don’t imagine bright red dishes on his arms help him remain undetected when sneaking around at night.

The upcoming version 1 repaint uses most of same pieces as this figure which is fine though it would have been nice if they fixed the hunch. They have given him full sleeves this time which I like. As for paint apps, the FSS version has the bright blonde and flashy green of the 1987 original. I do like this Night Force version but I think the brighter colors look great and if I had to choose one over the other I would go with the green. Joe-Psyche out v5

 

 

One nifty detail about the upcoming figure is the Club has given him black satellite dishes. Those can be swapped with the red dishes that came with this figure and then both versions will be accurate to the originals.

This is a decent figure of a decent character. If you don’t have this version already I would highly recommend you snag the FSS 3.0 repaint once it becomes available. 7 out of 10.

TED DIBIASE “THE MILLION DOLLAR MAN” (1990)

WWF-Ted fullWWF-HASBRO

Well this is embarrassing.  I told a friend that I’d review a wrestling figure in my next post so while at work the other day I pondered which one to review. I presently only have 3 wrestling figures displayed in my collection, an LJN Kamala in my bathroom, and Hasbro versions of Macho Man and Ted Dibiase in a display case on my man-cave wall.  Since I see them all the time those were the first ones that came to mind.  I opted to review the Ted Dibiase.  I reviewed the figure from memory (which is what you’ll find below).  But, when it came time to post the review tonight I discovered that I already reviewed this figure back in January of 2012.  I guess after 600 + reviews I was bound to eventually review the same toy twice by accident.  At least I took my own pictures this time.  Some of this will be repetitive but I’ve added some new thoughts on this figure as well.  He even scored a point higher this time.  Enjoy…WWF-Ted face

I don’t have a ton of wrestling figures in my collection so I have to review them sparingly. But it has been a while so let’s take a look at another one shall we? I loved the solid rubber WWF toys produced by LJN when I was a kid. I had hours and hours of fun with them. I had a lot less fun with the Hasbro figures that replaced them after LJN’s WWF toy license expired. Personally, I found the solid rubber LJN figures to be superior to the articulated Hasbro figures of the early 90s on almost every occasion. But, when it comes to Ted “the Million Dollar Man” Dibiase, he was an exception to the rule.

LJN Dibiase

LJN Dibiase

The LJN Dibiase was one of my least favorite figures from that line. The biggest problem with him was the color of rubber he was molded in. As you are aware, most wrestlers are fairly scantily dressed. Usually boots, wristbands, and some tiny shorts make up the work uniform of most WWF superstars. Therefore it made sense for LJN to cast those big solid semi-nude toys in flesh colored rubber and then paint the shorts and boots afterwards. Less paint meant less cost. But, when it came to wrestlers like Million Dollar Man who wore a tear away tuxedo, or the Honky Tonk Man who wore an Elvis inspired rhinestone jumpsuit, it made fiscal sense to cast those figures in colored rubber and then paint the flesh tone on their face and hands. The LJN Dibiase was cast in black rubber. The only way to play with those toys was to bash them together in the wrestling ring. This resulted in frequent paint scuffs. When Dibiase would come down off the top rope to deliver a vicious elbow onto King Kong Bundy’s bald head a black skidmark was often left behind on Bundy’s forehead. Luckily these were fairly easy to remove with a rub of your fingernail. The problem with Dibiase was that when he was the recipient of an elbow, instead of taking a colorful scuff to his forehead, the flesh toned paint would rub right off of his face. It didn’t take long for my Dibiase to have a black nose and forehead; and no fingernail could fix it. WWF-Ted back

Beside the black rubber issue, the LJN Dibiase figure wasn’t posed very well for battle. He had a fistful of money and seemed to be leaning back in cowardice. My LJN Dibiase did not usually do to well in the ranks (My brother Doug actually kept a record book of every wrestler’s wins. We even awarded those with the most wins and longest unbeaten streaks Slammy Awards each year). WWF-Ted real

Ted Dibiase was one of those heels that I loved to hate. His character was just so despicable. I remember when he first entered the WWF. They hyped up his coming by showing vignettes of him belittling people by paying them to do stuff like lick his bodyguard Virgil’s toes.

When the Mattel figures came out most of them left me extremely underwhelmed. But there were two figures that I really liked; Macho Man and Million Dollar Man. It’s hard to believe this Dibiase figure is even part of the same toy line that produced clunkers like my previously reviewed Jimmy Snuka and Jim Duggan. This figure has unrealistic proportions, almost like he’s a dwarf, but it works within the stylized toy line. His tuxedo is black with metallic gold trim. It’s a much nicer looking and more iconic color choice than the purple of the LJN version.WWF-Ted belt

The head sculpt is really nice. It’s not necessarily a great likeness but I still really like it. I think they maybe could have given him a more smug expression.  This Dibiase looks a little too chilled out. The best thing about this head is that it isn’t prone to paint loss. This Ted’s face still looks like a million bucks even after all these years (see what I did there).WWF-Ted victory

One of the things I liked least about the Hasbro toy line was the inclusion of spring-loaded action features. Those features are the reason why Snuka and Duggan look like freaks of nature. Million Dollar Man was blessed with one of the simplest, most effective, and least distracting features of the line. Spin his arm back and it swings forward to deliver  a brutal “million dollar punch”. It swings with some serious force too. I hurt my fingers playing with this guy on more than one occasion. Lastly, the figure came with a super sweet version of his diamond encrusted million dollar belt. I’ve seen modern more realistic figures of Dibiase produced by companies like Jakks in recent years but I still think that this is the best Ted Dibiase figure released to date. 8 out of 10WWF-Ted pin

A quick side note: I didn’t go to my high school prom. I didn’t buy into that nonsense. But 3 years after I graduated a dear friend of mine asked me to accompany her to her prom before she moved away. I accepted, but there was no way I was going to wear a standard rental tuxedo. Luckily my mom is a professional seamstress (check out her handy work here) so she was able to produce a custom tux based on my design. The tuxedo was extremely wide legged which was a must for me at the time as a skateboarder/raver. As a color choice I went with a deep blue, almost purple, with reflective silver trim.  My vest and bow-tie were also reflective silver. It may have been subconscious but I think its fair to say that Mr. Dibiase influenced my design.WWF-Ted me1WWF-Ted me2