Monthly Archives: September 2014
I often tend to gravitate towards the weirder characters from movies and comics. My favorite Star Wars character is Walrus Man and my favorite He-Man character is Mer-Man. You might see a pattern there in that I like green, aquatic-based creatures. So it’s rather odd that my favorite character from Ninja Turtles, a series that stars 4 green aquatic characters, is the punk-rock warthog.
I liked a lot of the TMNT heroes and villains but for whatever reason Bebop was an early favorite of mine. I’ve told you before about how my brother Doug and I split almost all of our toy collections down the middle when we were kids. With the turtles, I had Leonardo and Donatello while Doug had Michaelangelo and Rapheal. For bad guys, I had Bebop and Doug had his partner Rocksteady. We actually had that all worked out before the toys even came out because we had made paper action figures of all the characters while we waited for the real toys to come out.
When it came to other properties that we wanted toys of but for which toys were not available, like Marvel and Hockey players, we made traditional paper dolls with removable clothes. And before you start thinking dirty thoughts, the base figures all had underwear on. We made them paper doll-style so that they were more than just cut out drawings; they were sturdier and had removable masks and helmets and even some accessories. Where the turtles were pretty much naked anyway the paper doll-style didn’t work for them. So to make them more than just cut outs we drew their limbs on separate pieces of paper from their torsos, cut them out, and attached them with brass split pins; this provided for some simple articulation. I don’t have any of those paper ninja turtles anymore but I can still picture what most of them looked like. My Bebop was pretty cool the way I remember it.
The 1988 Bebop action figure by Playmates was definitely an improvement over my paper version, at least in terms of durability, but I didn’t love the figure. It was hunched over and quite ugly, the head was a different color than the body, and the sun glasses weren’t the right style or color. I always found the animated version of Bebop to be kind of cute, that action figure was not. Despite him being my favorite TMNT character, that figure did not survive the great toy purge of my tween years. Leo, Donnie, Mondo Gecko, and Usagi Yojimbo were the only TMNT figures I kept and still have to this day.
The turtle brand has been resurrected a couple of times over the years but I never paid enough attention to the late 90s or the mid-2000s incarnations to even know whether Bebop appeared in those versions. I’m not sure why the latest revival of the turtles struck my fancy but I’ve been enjoying the current comics and the figures for the past 2 years. I love the modern look of the turtles, I think it’s the best they’ve ever looked. After getting the initial 4 turtle figures, which were excellent, I had high hopes that other classic characters would be getting equally awesome makeovers. Sadly, that has not been the case.
There hasn’t yet been modern era versions of Bebop, Rocksteady, Mondo, or Usagi. The revamped Leatherhead, Baxter Stockman, and Mutagen Man have all been disappointing, and new characters like Cockroach Terminator and FishFace have been just plain stupid. I’m holding out hope that a wicked cool redesign of Bebop is in the works down the line.
In the meantime, Playmates did give us a new version of the 80s Bebop as part of their “Classics” line. I picked up the figure, and it’s decent, but I think the fact that its based on the 80s toy hurts it because it suffers from a lot of the same problems, namely it’s ugly.
But just a short time later, my need for a “cuter” Bebop was fulfilled, not once, but twice. First Kidrobot produced some cute little blind boxed TMNT figures in the same vein as the Loyal Subjects Joe and Transformers figures, and then Funko added a Bebop to their TMNT POP! line. The Kidrobot one is alright but I love the POP! version.
I’m already a big fan of the POP! figures; I have several of them populating my work desk, but Bebop may just be my favorite of the bunch. This figures is everything I love about Bebop distilled down into an adorable little package. He’s got the purple mohawk/rattail (which is sculpted beautifully the way it hangs off the back of his head), the purple visor sunglasses, the hoop piercings in his nose and ear, the bullet bandolier, the turtle shell shoulder pads, the bone necklace, the grenades, the chain belt, the spiked bracelets, and his trademark red sneakers. This figure has it all and it’s all sculpted, not painted on like with the Kidrobot version. Funko didn’t skimp on the paint apps either. All of those details have been painted, including each individual bullet on the bandolier. Bebop looks great from every angle. I absolutely love it. 10 out of 10.
Saga Dolphin is one of the few wave-one figures that I had yet to review. I suppose I waited so long to write about him because I find the figure a little boring. There’s not a ton of detail in the sculpt and the paint apps are minimal too. Plus he’s one of those Beast Saga figures that looks like a real animal’s head has been plopped onto a toy body. I think some sort of head piece or a pair of goggles might have done him some good. The head sculpt is simple and doesn’t blend well with the rest of the figure but it is still quite nice and easily identifiable. The armor’s only real bits of flair are the fins on the arms and the thingamajigs on the shoulders. The armor is colored a nice aquatic blue but there’s too much of it. The only highlights to break up the overwhelming blue are two thin yellow stripes on the shoulders and a strange yellow design on his codpiece. For accessories he comes with a scimitar sword, a shield, a few die that can be launched from the plunger device on his chest, and a playing card; pretty standard stuff for a Beast Saga figure.
The main reason I decided to review Saga Dolphin today was because of a Deadpool comic I read last week. I used to love Deadpool but I lost interest right around the time he blew up in popularity and became way too over exposed. So while I haven’t collected his monthly books in years I will still pick up the occasional Deadpool book if something catches my eye. Earlier this year I bought a Deadpool annual because it featured one of my favorite obscure Marvel villains, Mad Cap. Both characters are pretty silly so I expected fluff but the story was actually quite good and it finally explained why Deadpool was hearing that extra voice in his head for a number of years.
Well last week another Deadpool annual came out. Now, annuals are only supposed to come out once a year so I’m not sure what the thought process was behind this but they’re always doing wonky stuff with comic numbering these days. At least Marvel acknowledged the fact that it was the second Deadpool annual to come out this year by calling it a “bi-annual”. The reason I picked this second annual up is because it had a guest star(s) even more obscure than Mad Cap; the protectors of the environment: BRUTE FORCE!
Brute Force was a 4-issue mini series released by Marvel in 1990. It featured a team of cybernetically enhanced animals (a bear, an eagle, a kangaroo, a lion, and a dolphin) who decide to use their newfound powers and abilities to save the planet from pollution. I was 12 years old when the series came out, arguably too old to be buying it, but I bought it anyway. It’s not like it was specifically geared towards kids anyway. In my mind it had more in common with WE3 than it did the Get-Along Gang. I didn’t necessarily love the series but I remember it being alright. I still have it but it’s been over 20 years since I read it.
For as long as I can remember I’ve loved animal super heroes. One of my very first creations was the Animal Team Force; a group consisting of any animal I could think of with a red cape around its neck. That’s party why I love the Battle Beast and Beast Saga toy lines so much, and partly why I bought the Brute Force series. I’m a sucker for animals fighting eveil-doers. Though to be honest, my favorite character from Brute Force was actually the evil Octopus who was a member of BF’s rival team, Heavy Metal.
Anyway, I guess the mini series didn’t do well and so the characters were never seen again. But maybe they shouldn’t be counted out just yet. After all, Rocket Raccoon got his start in a 4-issue mini series in the 80s before falling off the map for 20 years and now he’s in the highest grossing movie of the year. Perhaps the writers of this Deadpool bi-annual will start the ball rolling on a similar revival for Brute Force.
I know I’m way off track here but while I was reading this issue I realized just how much the dolphin, Surf Streak, bears a striking resemblance to Saga Dolphin. So much so that you could easily think that this was a figure of Surf Streak. I would actually love to see Hasbro put out a set of Brute Force figures as part of their Universe or Legends lines, perhaps as a convention set.
This Saga Dolphin figure is good but its not great. I like that it reminds me of a long-forgotten Marvel character and I appreciate that it’s the first dolphin figure from Takara (there wasn’t one in the vintage Battle Beasts line) but thats still not enough to elevate it to great. I give it a 7 out of 10.
One more thing. My Dad bought me a drawing tablet for my computer a couple of years ago and I used it for a little bit, got frustrated and put it aside. My buddy Miguel has actually been borrowing it for the past year or two. I just got it back from him and I have vowed to practice using it. Unfortunately I had no idea what to draw. Then it dawned on me that maybe I’ll attempt to draw the action figures I’m reviewing every once and a while. Hopefully that will force me to both draw and write. So forgive the crappy doodles you may see on here from time to time. I swear I’m a better artist than this but the tablet is new to me and I’m basically just goofing around as i try to get the hang of it.
Everybody loves the vintage Joe figures (1982- 1994) and the modern style figures (2007-current) seem to be a big hit with fans as well. It’s the figures released during the brief period known as the new-sculpt era (2002-2007) that often get forgotten or maligned. Many people especially hate the first wave of new sculpt figures and I can understand why; the construction, the plastic, and the character likenesses were all quite different from what we were used to. It’s my least favorite of the 3 generations of 3 3/4 ” Joes but there was a lot to be liked about those figures of the early 2000s, and that first wave holds a special place in my heart. Snake Eyes had a sculpted mouth, Storm Shadow had a pin head, and Destro just looked mental, but despite all that it was a rebirth for my favorite childhood toy line and I was stoked to see new Joes in stores. One of my favorite first wave figures was Frostbite version 4. He had a heavily padded winter suit with lots of sculpted detail and a fantastic new head sculpt. I loved the mask/helmet/goggles combo. The only thing that I didn’t like about the figure was that I felt he should have been a new version of Blizzard instead of Frostbite. The vintage Frostbite had a thick black beard and this guy was clean shaven. The overall look and colors were much more reminiscent of the 1988 Blizzard as opposed to the 1985 Frostbite.
Hasbro pumped out a lot of product during the new sculpt years and tried out lots of new concepts. One of their innovations was the built-to-rule (BTR) subset. BTR was sort of a precursor to the successful line of Kre-O brick figures that are presently available. BTR took regular 3 3/4″ Joe figures and incorporated a Lego-esque building block play feature. Each figure came with a build-able vehicle with one primary mode and several alternate modes. The sets didn’t contain too many pieces and were not very complicated to build. The figures themselves had Lego nubs on their forearms and shins so that bricks could be attached to them. I never saw any of the BTR sets available for sale in my area and they didn’t interest me enough to bother seeking them out from online retailers. I never owned any of the BTR sets and until very recently I never owned any of the figures either.
I was purchasing a few items from an online store the other day (the 50th anniversary Danger at the Docks set, a Transformers Whirl, and a Marvel Legends Agent Venom) and I decided to scan through some of their old stock before I checked out. I came across 3 new sculpt era figures that I missed out on the first time around, all for under $3.00; BTR Frostbite was one of them. This figure originally came packaged with the Forest Fox, a build-able dune buggy type vehicle. The figure has the same head, torso, upper arms, and upper legs as Frostbite v.4. He’s been given new forearms and shins to accommodate for the Lego nubs.
The Lego nubs are actually fine and don’t detract from the figure as much as you might think they would. What does suck about this version is how short the lower legs are. BTR Frostbite looks like a frig’n midget, even when displayed next to Frostbite v.4 which was already a short figure. He’s got these big gorilla arms and then these rinky dinky little legs. It’s really quite unfortunate.
I’m also not a big fan of this paint jobon this figure. Blizzard v.4 was actually first repainted shades of green and brown for Frostbite v.6 in late 2002, and then a brighter aquatic green when the mold was reused to create the G.I. Joe reservist figure (also in 2002) and I thought they both looked fine. This arctic attire actually translates fairly well into a less environment specific outfit. But the BTR version comes off as bland and ugly. The lack of paint apps on the jacket, upper legs, and goggles really hurt this figure. I’m glad I picked this guy up because at least now I have a BTR figure in my collection and for $3.00 he was a bargain. However, this figure is a dud through and through. 3 out of 10.
Many Joe fans weren’t very happy when Hasbro first revealed their 50th anniversary product. The issue wasn’t so much about the quality of the figures but with the limited amount of product. G.I. Joe was the first ever action figure. Fans like myself felt that the brand deserved more than 8 measly releases (which would only be available at Toys R Us) to commemorate its golden anniversary. It was especially disappointing that of the 18 figures being released, most of them were repaints or straight rereleases of figures we already had. However, for a while there it looked like we weren’t going to get any product at all so I was happy to be getting anything new. When the 50th anniversary product became available for pre-order I ordered all of the sets but one.
The “Battle Below Zero” set was a no brainer because it came with a new version of Ice-Viper, my favorite Cobra trooper (along with a Snake Eyes and a couple of vehicles).
The “Heated Battle” set was another hit because it included a new version of Heat Viper, my second favorite Cobra trooper (along with a rerelease of Blowtorch).
“Arctic Ambush” had a winterized version of the Cobra B.A.T (along with a rerelease of Snowjob).
“Social Clash” had new and improved versions of Lady Jaye and Baroness.
“Night Marksmen” had a repaint of Night Viper (along with a rerelease of Lowlight).
“The Eagle’s Edge” had Leatherneck and a spiffy new version of Destro (plus a rerelease of Hawk).
And “The Viper’s Pit” had a cool new repaint of the Viper (along with a new Beachhead and a rerelease of the Cobra Trooper).
Every set had at least 1 figure that I wanted, except for “Danger at the Docks”. That set came with a Flint repaint, a rerelease of the Cobra Eel, a VAMP MK II jeep, and a Cobra night-landing raft. There was nothing wrong with any of those toys per se but I already have the Eel, I already have many Flints, and I simply don’t have room to display vehicles, no matter how cool they are, so I try to avoid buying them because I know they’ll be going directly into storage. I was actually quite proud of myself for passing on it. It was proof that I’m not some mindless zombie that has to buy everything Hasbro throws at me. I don’t regret passing on it at all.
At least, I didn’t regret passing on it at all until I started reading reviews and seeing pictures of the set online. Apparently the Eel figure wasn’t an identical rerelease of what we got before, it was actually an improved version with new parts and weapons, and the Flint wasn’t just some Flint repaint like I thought, it was a very well constructed new figure made up of existing pieces. I decided I needed the “Danger at the Docks” set after all, but by that time I couldn’t find it for sale at a reasonable price anywhere; all of the online shops had sold out of their pre-orders and my local Toys R Us hadn’t stocked any of the 50th anniversary product yet. I checked the online stores diligently everyday hoping that somebody would restock it. Finally I spotted one online a couple weeks ago (with free shipping no less!) and I snatched it up. It arrived in the mail the other day.
I’ll talk about the Eel, Vamp, and raft another time; for now I’m just going to focus on Flint. I know I just reviewed Micro Force Flint the other day so I apologize for the repitition. I’d hate to “over-Flint” anyone. But I was so blown away by this figure that I wanted to post a review promptly. This is my new favorite Flint figure. Which is saying a lot because there have been some excellent Flint figures released over the past few years. I didn’t expect to like this Flint as much as I do but as soon as I got him out of the package and started fiddling with him I was completely won over.
The torso and legs of this figure are borrowed from 2013’s Firefly version 26. That was a nice figure but I actually think the parts make for a better Flint than they did a Firefly. The legs have lots of detail and include a sheath for a knife and a holster for a pistol. The collared shirt works well to replicate Flint’s signature look but the addition of the turtle neck sweater beneath makes it that much better. The arms are from Agent Mouse and the head originally appeared on Flint version 18 (which I don’t have) though it’s been repainted and looks quite different now. It’s a great head sculpt with a stern look on the face and a nice-looking beret. After getting removable berets on my last couple of Flints I’m actually glad to see this one sculpted in place.
He’s got Shotgun shell webgear which is a must for Flint. It’s a little big for him and sits a little high on his shoulders but can be pushed back down into place fairly easily. I like that they colored the shells red on one end and silver on the other; it’s a nice little detail. The removable webgear also has a sheath for a second knife. Besides all the sheathed and holstered weapons Flint also has his trusty shotgun and a display base.
The paint job is the best and worst thing about this figure. It’s bad in that there are some quality control issues. My Flint has black plastic showing through his flesh painted forearms and he has flesh colored plastic showing through his black painted gloves. It looks sloppy, like something you’d see on a dollar store knock-off. Other folks have gotten Flints that are much worse than mine so I’m glad the lower arms are the only problem areas for me. Quality control issues aside, I think this paint job is awesome conceptually. The gray camo pants are a nice change of pace from Flint’s usually green camo pants. Those combined with the gray turtle neck and the black gloves makes me view this figure as some sort of night mission or stealth Flint. The gray also ties him visually to the gray Vamp which makes for a nice cohesive set.
This is the Z’Gok Commander. As I say in almost every Gundam figure review, I don’t know anything about this character. In the late 90s/early 2000s Gundam figures were kind of popular and I started collecting them. They looked cool and that’s the extent of my knowledge. If you’d like to know more, this is what it say about Z’Gok on his Gundam wiki page:
The MSM-07S Z’Gok Commander Type is a variant of the MSM-07 Z’Gok created by the Principality of Zeon during the One Year War. Each of the Z’Gok’s hands featured built-in mega particle cannons for easier and more precise aiming. Each hand also had three-claws which could be used to thrust into the Earth Federation’s mobile suits (as Char Aznable demonstrated), or they could be used to smash things as well. The Z’Gok also had six 240mm missile launchers built into the head with five rounds. Following the production of the MSM-07 Z’Gok, a few of these units were outfitted with more powerful reactors and slightly better armor/construction materials. This made the S-Types lighter and increased their overall performance. The Zeon war ace Char Aznable, better known as the “Red Comet” to his foes, piloted a Commander Type Z’Gok in his traditional red and black color scheme during the assault on the Earth Federation’s Jaburo General HQ on November 30, U.C. 0079.
Does that mean anything to you? Me neither. I normally wouldn’t be so lazy as to copy and paste like that but it’s Friday and I’ve had a long week and I’ve got a couple of drinks in me so I’m cutting a few corners. I actually got a bunch of cool new toys in this week and I planned on reviewing at least one tonight but then I got into the booze and got lazy. So instead I decided to review some toy that I already had pictures of ready to go on my computer and that I had very little to say about. That way I can still feel like I accomplished something by posting this but I don’t have to waste a bunch of time taking pictures and relaying childhood memories like I usually do.
This toy is actually really cool and I wish I had more to say about it but I don’t. It’s red. It’s Japanese. It has a cycloptic eye. It has big feet. And it has interchangeable claws so you can display it with open claws or closed claws or, if you’re feeling wild, one of each.
Anyway, I’m gonna go watch a movie, or maybe a concert on DVD which is one of my favorite things to do when I’m lazing around having a drink. I have this same figure in blue so I’ll make sure to write a better review when I get around to reviewing that one. Stay tuned for reviews of more 50th anniversary Joes, MOTU figures and my latest Marvel legends acquisition over the next few days. Have a good weekend. 7 out of 10.
In my last review I talked about the 5oth anniversary Ice-Viper which was a modern-style update of the excellent 1987 original. Today I’m gonna take a look at Ice-Viper’s vehicle, the Cobra Wolf. Wolf stands for Winter Operational Light Fighting…Vehicle.
As I’ve said before in many Transformers reviews I’ve never been a car guy. But it’s not just cars that fail to thrill me, I don’t get too excited about any vehicle. I don’t have a driver’s license, I don’t own a bike, I’m not a fan of flying, and while I don’t mind boats, I don’t know how to swim so I tend to avoid them. Real life aside, toy vehicles rarely did much for me either. I keep all of my Transformers in their robot modes and I avoid buying G.I. Joe vehicles when I can, though sometimes I’m forced to purchase vehicles in order to get the figures packaged with them. There are very few vehicle toys out there that I would ever buy if I didn’t need the included figure (HISS tanks are the exception as you can never have enough of those). If vehicle drivers had been available separately when I was a kid I imagine I would’ve owned far fewer planes and jeeps back then. One thing I really liked about the modern figures when they first came out was that vehicle drivers like Wild Weasel and Ace were available on single blister cards meaning I didn’t have to buy large expensive airplane toys to get them. If the 50th anniversary Ice-Viper had been available carded I would not have bought this new version of his vintage vehicle, the Wolf.
That being said, the 1987 Cobra Wolf was one of my favorite Joe vehicles. I may have primarily acquired it in order to get the included Ice-Viper figure but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy playing with the Wolf itself. If given the choice, I would take 3 new figures over 1 new vehicle any day but vehicles added a ton of play value to G.I. Joe and I’m glad I had a decent fleet of them. I probably wouldn’t be nearly as enamored and nostalgic for the brand today had it not been for all the classic vehicles of my youth. The Vamp, the Ram, the Havoc, the Bugg, the Rattler, the Snow Cat, the Dragonfly, the Fang…I could go on and on. The Joe line was filled with awesome vehicles; some realistic and some downright weird.
Some Joe vehicles like the Buzz Boar and the Pogo looked like something straight out of science fiction while others like the Mauler and Tomahawk were based on real-world vehicles. The Wolf, at least to me, falls somewhere in between. I actually think it looks like it could be a real-world vehicle; there’s nothing too crazy about it. Yet, I’m pretty sure nothing like it truly exists.
I still have all of my old Joe vehicles, including my 1987 Wolf but it’s gotten a little busted up over the years, mostly from being in storage. It’s kind of neat seeing it in such pristine shape again. This 5oth anniversary version is nearly, if not completely, identical to the original.
The main body of the Wolf is molded in crisp white plastic and has a black base snapped onto the bottom. Those were the only 2 pieces assembled when I opened up the “Battle Below Zero” box. I had to assemble everything else myself. Most modern vehicles come fully assembled, some even come with all the decals attached, so snapping this toy together piece-by-piece and then painstakingly applying all the little decals really took me back to the good old days when I, with help from my dad, had to construct the 80s vehicles from a pile of loose parts. But if you’re not a fan of model kits don’t worry, assembling this thing wasn’t exactly rocket science.
The attachments included 2 retractable back treads, 2 removable side skis, a pair of skis for the front, a double barrel cannon, 2 ski missiles, a hidden missile rack with 4 traditional missiles, and two translucent blue glass canopies for the cockpits. I knew the vintage vehicle so well that I put this one together and placed most of the decals from memory. The only difference I noticed was that the vintage Wolf had a clear, as opposed to a green, “canopy” sticker by the cockpit.
The cannon can spin 360 degrees and can be pivoted to aim up and down. The side skis can be removed and placed on a figures feet, and since there are two pegs on each ski a pair of figures can even go dutch on these things. The wheeled treads which allow this thing to move well on carpet can be tucked underneath so that the Wolf can travel solely on it’s skis which is a nice option if you actually want to take this thing out into the snow. The ski missiles sit firmly in place and you pull them loose and send them shooting down the sloped front of the Wolf.
I love the angular double cockpit design of the Wolf. It’s very sleek and it seems believably functional. The passengers on many G.I. Joe vehicles just hung off the sides like human shields. The Wolf is no different in that there are 5 pegs on each side to allow for up to 10 figures as hangers-on but I’m glad Cobra made accommodations for a second trooper to stay warm inside the Wolf as well.
Everything about this toy looks and feels the same as the vintage version. If there has been any modifications made to the old Wolf mold it may have been enlarging the cockpits to allow for the larger modern figures, but I’m not so sure they even did that as it’s a very tight squeeze for Ol’ Ice-Viper.
This is a great re-release of a great vintage Joe vehicle and I’m glad that many kids and collectors will get to enjoy it for the first time. Personally I don’t have anywhere to put it so it’ll probably end up in a box in the closet with the old one which is a shame because it really is a nice looking toy. 8 out of 10.
It’s finally here. The Ice-Viper figure I’ve been waiting 7 years for. When I got the original Ice Viper in 1987 he immediately shot up to the top of my Cobra hierarchy. Not in any official manner, mind you. It’s not like he was leading my Cobra Forces or anything. He was just a regular grunt who took orders from the Commander like everybody else did. But in terms of sheer power no one tipped the scales more than Ice Viper. He could tear through the G.I. Joe team like the Incredible Hulk. Even Snake Eyes, who was no slouch, couldn’t stand toe-to-toe with him. Only the Joe team’s SWAT trooper, Shockwave, could match Ice-Viper in destructive power.
I realize that having a nameless, faceless vehicle driver in a parka beat up an entire army of America’s most capable soldiers is pretty retarded but I was a little kid so whatever. The point is I loved Ice Viper. I can’t really explain why. It’s not like he’s any cooler looking than any of the other Vipers variations or even the blue shirted Cobra infantry. And it’s not like the Ice Vipers were prominently featured in any comics or cartoons. The fact that he’s a cold weather trooper probably limited his use for a lot of other kids. I’m not sure what it was that struck such a chord with me in ’87 but I absolutely loved that figure.
I started collecting Joe figures again in 2002 when the then dormant toy line from my youth was resurrected with newly sculpted figures. Not only were the figures newly sculpted but also newly constructed. They looked and felt different than the vintage figures but they could still be displayed together fairly seemlessly. The new construction style had its flaws but I was just happy to be getting new figures after so many years of lackluster vintage repaints. I liked that the new sculpt waves were made up largely of new characters. It breathed some new life into the brand. But I was also keen to get new versions of all my old favorites. A new Ice Viper was near the top of my want-list. Hasbro never released a new-sculpt Ice Viper but the Collector’s Club released a pretty sweet repaint of the original in 2007 which filled the new-sculpt Ice-Viper void to my satisfaction.
But later that same year Hasbro rendered the new sculpt figures moot but relaunching G.I. Joe again in an all-new more detailed modern style to celebrate the brand’s 25th anniversary. The modern figures were taller than the vintage and new-sculpt toys and constructed in a whole new way, combining the best elements of both previous generations. They could not be displayed cohesively with older figures due to the drastic design differences so it was like I was starting to collect G.I. Joe from scratch. The change in style may have frustrated some but I found it exciting; it was like the early 80s all over again.
As modern versions of old favorites were released I scooped up each one of them. It took a year or two for Hasbro to get to some of my favorites like Shockwave and Zarana but that was to be expected; you can’t release everybody all at once. I worried that Ice Viper was perhaps too minor a player to get the modern figure treatment but I held out hope as other C-list characters continued to roll out.
The steady flow of 25th anniversary figures was interrupted by the release of the first live-action Joe movie, Rise of Cobra (ROC). Where the anniversary figures were homages to the toys I grew up with, the movie based figures were drastic departures. Nostalgia took a back seat to movie-based figures dressed all in black and featuring actor’s likenesses. Amidst the drab movie figures Hasbro released a modern Ice Viper. I didn’t know how to feel about it. The movie Ice Viper figure didn’t look anything like the Ice Viper of old but a part of me was just thankful to have gotten a modern Ice Viper in any form. I didn’t even dislike the figure but it was hard to imagine him as MY Ice-Viper.
The ROC Ice-Viper was later rereleased with a few tweaks to the paint job and dubbed Elite Ice-Viper and thats the version I’ve had standing in as my bad-ass super soldier Ice-Viper of the 80s. But no more.
As part of this years 50th anniversary series (commemorating the original 12″ Joe dolls of the 1960s) Hasbro has finally given me a modern sculpt version of the 1987 Ice Viper. He came in a boxed set titled “Battle Below Zero” along with a cold weather Snake Eyes and 2 vehicles; a gray Skyhawk for Snake Eyes and a brand new Arctic Wolf for Ice Viper to pilot. The whole set is pretty stellar but I’ll talk about the other pieces in another post, for now lets focus on Ice-Viper.
His body is mostly made up of the modern Snow Serpent body but the lower legs and lower arms have been swapped out. I’m pleased with the parts choices as the Snow Serpent makes sense as a base but a straight repaint would’ve been kind of boring. The Neo-Viper gloves give Ice-Viper a more unique look. I also appreciate the modifications made to the legs to add the sai sheathes/holsters of the original. The fur collar and ammo belt is a newly sculpted piece that looks great and is more realistic than the bizarre “sash” of the original. The ’87 Ice-Viper had a smooth ninja like mask but this one has a ribbed ski mask which makes more sense given his environmental specialty. At first I assumed this was a re-painted Beachhead head but it may actually be a brand new piece; either way it looks good. The paint job on the eyes is very well done. The only issue I have with the sculpt of this figure is that it’s got a bit of a giraffe neck. The fur collar hides it somewhat, especially from the side, but this figure would look that much better if the neck was a few millimeters shorter.
One of my favorite things about the original figure was the removable helmet. The red ninja mask looked great but I liked having the option to put on his gray helmet which had a pair of unpainted goggles sculpted to it. This version takes it a step further by having the removable gray helmet but also a pair of separately sculpted removable goggles with a black strap and translucent blue lenses.
Ice-Viper v.4 comes with 2 sais just like the original but he has a pistol and submachine gun as well. He also comes with a display base with a gold Cobra logo.
I’m super stoked to finally have this figure. Other than the long neck I think it’s amazing. I love the changes they’ve made like the removable goggles, improved ammo belt, and subtle gray camo on the outfit. The joe team better watch out because Ice -Viper is back to kick some ass. 10 out of 10.
2013 was a weird year for G.I. Joe. There was a successful live-action movie playing in the theaters but there were hardly any movie-based toys to be found. That would probably be considered poor planning in the case of any action movie geared towards young boys but its an even bigger fail in this case since we’re talking about a movie thats based on a toy line. I think the biggest problem was the fact that the film’s release date got pushed back 9 months just weeks before it was slated to hit theaters. Toy aisles were stocked pretty heavily with wave 1 movie product in 2012 which was expected to sell through based on brand awareness created by the film. But the film got delayed and so kids didn’t want the toys and so the toys sat for months until they were marked down. My local Toys R Us still has that 2012 product on their shelves.
When the movie finally came out in 2013 and kids might have actually wanted the toys, retailers refused to stock Joe items because of the toy line’s poor performance the year prior. I never saw wave 2, 3, or 4 product in stores; I had to order all my figures online. Oddly enough, even though new 3 3/4 ” figures were almost impossible to find in 2013, these strange little 1 inch figures started popping up in stores.
The new mini figures were part of a line called Micro Force. It featured over 40 figures that were available in carded 5 packs or in single blind bags. Most of the characters were familiar faces but there were a few new concepts thrown in as well such as a zombie Cobra Commander and Ghost Ninjas (both of which almost made it into the 3 3/4″ line). The figures are made of soft rubber and they don’t have any articulation. They have holes in their feet and can be removed from the round black display bases they come on. I’ll admit that I was tempted to buy them when I first saw them. They’re cute, they’re different, and more importantly they were the only new Joe product available. However, I’d already been drawn into cute versions of G.I. Joe before by way of Mighty Muggs, Combat Heroes, and the Loyal Subjects vinyls. I decided I didn’t need to open another can of worms and so I passed on Micro Force.
But then my brother Doug bought me a 5-pack as a stocking stuffer last year. He bought me the pack featuring my favorite Joe, Shockwave, as well as Snake-Eyes, a Cobra Trooper, a Red Ninja, and this guy, Flint.
I have previously reviewed 3 different Flint figures so I don’t have a whole lot more to say about the character. I always liked the way he was portrayed in the comics and cartoons. I liked the way he was portrayed in the live-action movie, and I even liked the way Doug portrayed him when we were kids (Doug owned the 1985 original figure and the 1988 Tiger Force repaint). He’s a cool character and I’m always happy to add a new version of him to my collection, even one as useless as this.
This figure doesn’t move but at least he’s posed in a cool position. The Shockwave from the pack is kneeling which is really annoying because its not a very actionable pose. Flint looks like he’s cautiously walking into a potentially hot situation. He’s clutching his rifle with both hands and he’s got his trusty shotgun and a couple grenades at the ready on his back if he needs them. The sculpt is surprisingly decent with some real attitude emoting from the face and the paint apps are pretty good too ( I really like that they added the red paint to his shotgun shells). And while the figure technically doesn’t move, the softness of the rubber allows you to bend him into some different positions.
All in all, it’s not a bad little figure for what it is. I wouldn’t have bought it myself and I have no intention of buying any more Micro Force figures, but as a gift it was a neat little thing to keep me entertained while bumming around my parents house over the holidays. 4 out of 10.
This here is Frenzied Flamingo. He was released as part of the third series of Battle Beasts(the final series before they transitioned into Laser Beasts). As a kid I managed to collect nearly all of series 1 and 2 in their entirety but the third series was more elusive. I’m not sure if it was because fewer stores were stocking them as the line’s popularity cooled or if it was the fact that they were only available in 8 packs, instead of the usual 2-packs, thus making them more expensive for my folks to buy for me. Whatever the reason, I only got a few figures from the third wave. It was frustrating because I was definitely still interested in the line at the time. I scooped up all of the Laser Beast 2-packs when they came out a year or so later.
Throughout my teens and 20s I slowly filled in the series 3 holes in my collection by way of trades, flea markets and ebay. Frenzied Flamingo was one of those late additions to my BB collection. I finally completed my Battle Beast collection a couple years ago with the purchase of Pugnacious Penguin. I developed a bond with almost every toy I played with as a kid, like Andy and Woody from the Toy Story movies, but toys I acquired as an adult, no matter how cool they are, lack that personal connection.
Since I didn’t get Flamingo here until long after I had outgrown playing with my toys I don’t have any connection to him. I’m glad I got him, as I needed him to complete my collection, but that’s where our relationship ends. I can’t look at Sly Fox or Rocky Rhino without wishing I was 8 years old again playing with them in my backyard. I look at Frenzied Flamingo and feel no such thing.
But even if I owned this figure when I was a kid I don’t think he’d hold any nostalgic power over me today. I’m just not a big fan of this toy. Takara managed to make some really cool anthropomorphic warriors out of some unlikely candidates like a seahorse and a duck but I feel they missed the mark with Frenzied. Flamingos are pretty dorky birds in real life and this figure is dorky too. Firstly, there’s the color. Now, I know there’s nothing he can do about being pink, he’s a flamingo, but being pink is not his biggest color crime. I think the blue and red armor on this figure is just ugly. With many Battle Beasts the armor was a painted a complimentary color to the skin tone to create a visually appealing figure. I’m not sure what color would’ve worked better in this case I just know I don’t like this combination.
The sculpt on this guy isn’t great either. It’s alright, he’s identifiable as a flamingo at least, but I think they could’ve done a lot better. Flamingos have very recognizably shaped beaks and this figure doesn’t have it. Instead of a angular downturned beak this guy has a big roundish one that looks like a big pink nose. I think some black and white paint on the beak would have done wonders for this figure but unfortunately paint apps were minimal with this line. He’s got long flamingo legs which is good but they’re way too thick, especially near the top. It almost looks like they sculpted skinny legs but then just left a bunch of excess pink plastic around them to support the weight. Plus he’s wearing a dorky Lobot headpiece. There’s some nice sculpting in the wings and feet but it’s not enough to save this figure.
This figure is definitely one of the weaker links in what is a mostly strong toy line. 5 out of 10.
It’s time for another Scarlet Spider review. I’ve previously reviewed 2 Scarlet Spider figures but none of the three are actually the same character. Let’s recap…
The first Scarlet Spider was a clone of Spider-Man. Back in issue 149 of Amazing Spider-Man published in 1975 Peter Parker’s deranged university professor, Miles Warren, nabbed some of Spidey’s DNA and cloned him. The clone was convinced he was the original and this led to a conflict between him and the true Spider-Man. The battle ended with the clone’s apparent death. End of story. Not quite. In the 1990s the clone returned. The writers explained it by saying that the clone never actually died; he just packed his things and left town after he realized he was the phoney. During his years in exile the clone took the name Ben Reilly. Upon his return to the big apple Ben and Peter became friends. Ben dyed his hair blonde and they explained away their physical similarities by telling people they were cousins. Ben donned a red spandex suit and a blue hoodie and took the name Scarlet Spider. He and Spidey fought side by side for a little while and things were all good. That is until the Green Goblin showed up and killed Ben. For more details check out this post.
The blue hoodied hero was gone and Ben was dust but the Scarlet Spider returned in the pages of Avengers: Initiative. A new recruit of the Avengers with enhanced athletic abilities named MVP was killed during a training exercise. But it just so happened that a mad scientist who lived in Avengers basement at the time made 3 secret clones of MVP whom he named Michael, Van, and Patrick. He dressed them all in the Iron Spider-Man costume that Spidey wore during the super hero civil war. They took the name the Scarlet Spiders and became members of the Avengers Shadow Initiative team. All was well. That is until Van and Michael got killed in battle , leaving Patrick as the sole clone of MVP and sole Scarlet Spider. Then the Initiative book got canceled and Patrick faded into obscurity. For more details check out this post.
The Scarlet Spider recently returned for a third time with another new costume, the black and red number you see here. This Scarlet Spider upholds the SS tradition of being a clone but it isn’t Ben or any of the MVPs; it’s Kaine, the “evil” clone of Spider-Man. In the same 90s storyline that gave us Ben Reilly we got Kaine. He was a mystery man at first but it was eventually revealed that he was in fact Professor Warren’s failed first attempt at cloning Peter Parker. Soon after he was created Kaine’s unstable clone body began to degenerate. He was of no use to Professor Warren like that so he was cast out while the professor worked to perfect the process. The degeneration left Kaine hideously scarred and a little insane. He became obsessed with killing the successfully cloned Ben who Kaine saw as the reason that he was rejected and abandoned by his “father” Miles Warren.
Kaine was a thorn in Spider-Man’s side for a while but once Ben was dead Kaine faded out of the picture. Overall, Spidey fans didn’t like “the clone saga” which spanned years and permeated multiple titles. Apparently sales took a hit. Sweeping Ben, Kaine, Lady Doctor Octopus, Seward Trainor, Traveller, and anyone else associated with the bloated clone story line, under the rug seemed to be the mandate to get fans to come back. Kaine made frequent appearances in the alternate MC2 universe inhabited by Spider-Girl though so he wasn’t completely wiped out of existence.
Kaine returned to the core Spidey books with the Grimm Hunt storyline. During the hunt he sacrificed himself to help Spidey save the day, ultimately redeeming himself. But then he was resurrected as a spider monster during the Spider-Island storyline which found pretty much all of the denizens of New York transformed into spider monsters. Luckily, the team at Horizon Labs mange to whip up a cure and revert everyone back to normal, including Kaine. A side effect of the cure was that Kaine’s degeneration scars healed. This redeemed and, for the first time ever, handsome Kaine left NYC to start a new life. He found himself settled in Houston where circumstances forced him to take on a new heroic costumed identity. He went with the name coined by his fallen brother Ben, the Scarlet Spider.
There, now you’re all up to speed. This figure is from the 6” Marvel Legends line. I don’t usually buy Legends figures because I collect the 4” scale Marvel Universe line. But unfortunately many characters I want figures of (Black Cat, Superior Spider-Man, Spider-Girl) are only available in the larger scale so I’ve made a few exceptions. This Kaine/Scarlet Spider is one of those exceptions.
Once I broke the Marvel Legends seal with my Black Cat purchase I ordered this figure from BigBadToyStore. He was marked down to clearance so I think I only paid about 8 bucks for him. That’s less than I spend on the 4” figures so it was a great deal and I was happy to him to my collection. The sculpting and articulation are quite nice on this figure. You can pose this guy in many realistic and exaggerated spidey-like poses. I like how his eyes are actually sculpted onto the mask instead of being just painted on. The crimson red and black look really great together. It’s a very good figure of the current Scarlet Spider.
My only issue with this figure isn’t really with the figure itself so much as it is with the design of the character. I know Ben Reilly’s hoodie costume was silly but I really liked it. Ben left some big shoes to fill and I think this costume misses the mark. There’s just way too much red. I would’ve liked to have seen them take some risks with this costume; like they did with the agent Venom design. Between this guy, Spider-Man 2099, Ultimate Spider-Man, and the real Spider-Man there are too many guys running around with the same powers and essentially the same costume. I don’t mind this look but Marvel played it safe here, and safe can be boring, which I would guess is partly why Scarlet Spider’s book got cancelled only 2 years in. If you’re interested in seeing what he’s up to now though you can check him out in the most recent version of the New Warriors.
I’m glad this character and this toy exist but I wish it didn’t look so similar to the dozens of Spider-Men I already have in my collection. 7 out of 10.