Monthly Archives: December 2014
2014 is drawing to a close and that mean’s it’s time for another “best of” year-end list. I’ve been blogging about toys for 3 years now so naturally this is my third annual list (check out 2012 and 2013 here). I love lists so I look forward to the slew of them that come out this time each year and I enjoy compiling my own. Let me begin by saying that this is a list of the 14 best action figures released in 2014 that I added to my collection; it is not a “best of” list that considers every toy released in 2014. There were a ton of wicked toys released this year that would likely be on this list had I got them but I can’t afford to collect everything. Regardless, I got a ton of great figures this year and was able to put together a list of top-notch toys. After much consideration, here is my top 14:
14. Be-Bop (Funko Pop!-TMNT) At first glance this might seem like an odd way to start the list but there’s no denying that this is a great figure. I bought 2 other Be-Bop figures this year, and another one based on the new animated series is due out soon, but none of them are as cool as this big-headed vinyl figurine by Funko. Of all the Pop! figures that adorn my work desk I think he’s probably my favorite. Be-Bop has a lot of distinguishing features and all of them are squeezed into this one little figure. There’s the earring, the nose ring, the bandolier, the mohawk, the shades, the turtle shell shoulder pads, the chains, the necklace, and the sneakers. It’s very detailed while still maintaining the minimalist Pop! aesthetic. If I were a kid I wouldn’t be so impressed with this figure as it lacks playability but as a nostalgia-fueled adult collector who only displays his toys I like things that stand out from the crowd and grab your attention; this guy does that.
13. Modulok (Mattel-Masters of the Universe Classics) I was pretty torn about this slot. Overall, the MOTU Classics toyline has been awesome but this hasn’t been a strong year for the line. All of the “must-have” characters were produced in the first few years so the 2014 series was mostly populated by second rate She-Ra characters. Regardless, I haven’t necessarily been disappointed by the 2014 figures, most have been quite good, but when I looked them over to see who would make this list I realized none of them felt essential enough to make the cut. The only one even close to list worthy was Modulok. Don’t get me wrong, this is an excellent figure and it’s extremely unique amongst a line full of unique characters, but I just don’t care for the character all that much personally. I never owned the original toy when I was a kid and I don’t believe he’s ever played a significant role in any of the comics or cartoons so I simply never developed an attachment to him. An equally weird multi-legged MOTU character, Mantenna, nearly topped my list last year because not only was the toy awesome but so was the character. In Modulok’s case I only feel the toy is awesome and the character is lacking. I decided to let Modulok keep his spot though because MOTU needed to be represented and he does have a very unique body construction and fun build-able play feature.
12. Tripwire (Hasbro-G.I. Joe KRE-O) This was another tough call. I absolutely love this figure but I got a ton of great action figures this year and placing a little brick figure on my “best of” list seemed like a disservice to those other figures. But while those other figures have this guy beat in terms of sculpting, size, detail and accessories it’s hard to match this guy’s fun factor. You build him yourself, you can swap out his parts with other Kre-Os, you can attach him to vehicles, and he’s super cute. The paint work and the innovative accessories turn this simple brick man into the best version of Tripwire ever. He scratches my nostalgic itch for G.I. Joe and Lego at the same time. This is the toy on this list that I would’ve most enjoyed if I were still an actual child and not just a man-child.
11. H.E.A.T. Viper (Hasbro – G.I. Joe: 50th Anniversary) Heat Viper is the first of two Cobra troopers on my list this year and you may be surprised to learn that the 50th anniversary Ice Viper is not the other selection (though he was considered). The original 1987 Ice Viper was my absolute favorite Cobra Trooper when I was a kid but the updated version doesn’t quite live up to its predecessor. I gave the new figure a 10 out of 10 when I reviewed it a couple months back but the overly long neck really does bother me. My second favorite childhood Cobra trooper was the 1989 Heat Viper. There was just something about the asymmetrical half-face plate that made him look so unique and interesting. The bright yellow and purple costume, the missile boots, and the massive cannon all added to his appeal. The 50th anniversary update is more successful in Heat Viper’s case and so he edges Ice Viper off of the list. I thought this figure was so great that I actually army built 2 of them which is not something I usually do these days due to lack of space.
10. Agent Venom (Hasbro-Marvel Legends) I don’t have many Marvel Legends figures because I’ve committed to collecting the smaller 3 ¾” scale Marvel figures. But every now and again I’m forced to buy one because a must-have character comes out in the Legends line that isn’t available in the smaller scale. This year I’ve picked up Legends versions of Boomerang, Black Cat, Carnage, Arana and others and each of them is awesome but the leader of the pack is Agent Venom. This Walgreens exclusive figure is the first collectible I know of to showcase Venom’s current militaristic look. Most people know Venom to be Eddie Brock, the hulking Spider-Man villain who basically looks like a ‘roided out Spidey with a toothy grin. Well times have changed and Venom is now Peter Parker’s good friend/high school bully/war vet, Flash Thompson. I really like the new look and alter ego because I think the character was getting stale. This figure perfectly captures Venom’s new costume which is equal parts soldier and super hero. It features great sculpting, loads of articulation and multiple accessories.
9. Death’s Head (Hasbro-Marvel Universe) Growing up I was a hardcore Marvel kid. You could call me Galactus the way I devoured the Marvel Universe. Between my brother Doug and I we collected most of the comics Marvel published and we read all the character profile books so we knew every nook and cranny of the Marvel U. Some of the obscure characters that live within those nooks are some of my favorites, Death’s Head being one of them. This character hasn’t actually appeared in that many books, his own series only lasted 10 issues, but he left an impression on me. He’s one of the coolest looking Marvel characters out there so he totally deserved to be made into an action figure but I still can’t believe Hasbro actually made one this year. Some of the MU figures are pretty weak but this is the type of figure that keeps me coming back. He’s bulky, colorful, well detailed, and includes multiple accessories.
8. Jabba the Hutt (Hasbro-Star Wars Black Series) I’ve always loved Jabba the Hutt. I’m a sucker for big monsters and this figure fits that bill. It blows previous Jabba figures out of the water with it’s massive girth, detailed sculpting, and paint job. This is the most film accurate Jabba toy ever produced and I simply had to have it. You could argue that this toy was overpriced (approximately $40) given that its basically a big immobile slug with very few moving parts but what little movement it has really works. The fact that his mouth moves realistically when you tug on his arm is what guaranteed Jabba his spot on this list.
7. Swerve/Trash Talk (MakeToys- Transformers) I’ve run out of things to say about Swerve and his twin Gears. Between the two of them I’ve written 6 reviews now. Last year third party company iGear’s versions of each of them made my year end list. In retrospect only their version of Gears (named Cogz) should have made the list. iGear’s Swerve (named Veer) was way better than the Hasbro produced version I had in my collection but it was still a far cry from the character I loved from the IDW comics. This year another third party company, MakeToys, took a stab at the pair. Their Gears (named Cogwheel) was very nice and nearly list worthy himself but it was their version of Swerve that really blew me away. THIS is the Swerve I’ve been waiting for. MakeToy’s version is named Trash Talk because of Swerve’s loud and jovial personality in the comics. James Roberts writes him with a ton of personality and you can see it on this toy’s face (Well the smiley one at least, he has an alternate destroyed face). Trash Talk is a great figure, and while Hasbro themselves released a decent version of Swerve in 2014, this toy is the definitive version of Swerve in my collection.
6. Storm Trooper (Hasbro-Star Wars Black Series) This figure crept on me which is why there isn’t a link to a full review (though there will be soon). I like Storm Troopers, who doesn’t?, but I did not plan on adding this figure to my collection. I already have so many Storm Troopers in my collection, mostly 3 3/4″ figures but also bigger and smaller versions, that I couldn’t justify buying this 6″ version. I already promised myself I’d be very selective when it came to purchasing Hasbro’s Black Series figures. I bought this figure for Doug as a Christmas present but then he went and bought himself one just before the holidays. I had to scramble to find him something else and I kept this figure for myself. I did not expect to be so impressed with this figure but as soon as I opened it up and had it in my hands I thought it was the best Storm Trooper ever. Everything about it is great: the sculpting, the articulation, the rifle and pistol accessories, and the crisp white of the uniform. Now I want to go buy 5 more of this figure so I can have a little squad on my shelf. Damn you, Doug.
5. Catwoman (DC Direct-Designer Series: Greg Capullo) This is another late edition to the list. I loved it from the moment I saw it online and pre-ordered it a few months back but I didn’t expect to have it in hand before the end of the year because my pre-order at BigBadToyStore still hadn’t been filled by X-Mas. However, I found this figure on sale at Giant Robot Comics on boxing day and I couldn’t resist grabbing it then and there and subsequently cancelling my pre-order. I’ve wanted a good Catwoman figure for years but I haven’t been satisfied with any of the previous incarnations. This version is pretty much perfect. The sculpting is beautiful and the costume choice is exactly what I’ve been waiting for. I love the all-black catsuit with the over-sized goggles. You’d think this outfit wouldn’t allow for a ton of detail but everything from the buckles, to the zipper, to the wrinkles look great. The inclusion of a realistic whip sealed the deal. DC Direct (now known as DC Collectibles) has been absolutely killing it this year. Many of their figures could have made this list (Robin was close) but their female figures have been especially impressive. Case in point…
4. Supergirl (DC Direct – New 52) Supergirl is a character who was long overdue for a decent action figure. She’s been around in the comic books since the 1950s and she even starred in her own live-action movie long before it was the fashionable thing for superheroes to do. Many Supergirl action figures have been released over the years but none were anywhere near as good as this one. This figure beautifully captures her look from DC’s New 52 Universe. The body is nicely articulated and it features some really cool looking metallic paint. I’m a big fan of the non-sensical knee-less boots for some reason. The head sculpt is great with soft features and a nice hair design. The paint on the face really enhance this figure as well. The light blue eyes look appropriately alien and the natural lip color was a wise choice as opposed to giving her bright red lipstick (it suits Catwoman but not the more wholesome Kara).
3. Toxo-Viper (G.I. Joe Collector’s Club – 2014 Convention Set) When I heard that the Club was going to be including 3 Toxo-Vipers in their zombie-themed convention set I was stoked. The original Toxo-Viper figure from 1988 was another one of my favorite Cobra troopers and, like Heat Viper and Ice Viper, that figure had yet to be released in the modern style. I was extremely disappointed when images of this figure first hit the internet and we discovered that the Toxo-Vipers in the set were based on the version 2 design from 1991; a figure I never owned and to which I have no nostalgic attachment. However, I had to admit that this figure, with its newly sculpted head by Boss Fight Studios, was pretty damn cool looking. Once I had the set and the Toxo-Vipers in hand I was blown away by their design and quality. I absolutely love this figure and the fact that there’s 3 of them (6 if you count the zombified versions), which allows me to make a small squad, makes it that much cooler. The new head and the mix of re-used parts look great together and the color choices tie it all together nicely. This figure was a very pleasant surprise.
2. Cy-Kill/Salmoore (DX9 –Go-Bots) This third party designed version of Cy-Kill, the evil leader of the Renegades from Tonka’s Challenge of the Go-Bots, is amazing. I’ve been pretty blown away by third party Transformers for a few years now (see Stormbomb from my 2012 list or Cogz from 2013) but for whatever reason I did not expect one of those companies to tackle Go-Bots. It makes perfect sense that they would because these characters aren’t being produced by Tonka, Bandai, Hasbro or any of the other “real” toy companies and there’s a fan base out there that wants them. I’m so glad DX9 produced this update to Cy-Kill and I really hope it leads to more Go-Bots in the future. As soon as I saw this figure online I knew it was a contender for toy of the year. Needless to say, I was not disappointed once I had this figure in hand. I love everything they kept from the original character design and I love everything they changed. The design is great from his stern facial expression right down to his asymmetrical feet. The real rubber tires and the multiple chrome pieces were key elements of the original figure which DX9 has replicated here. I love it. Cy-Kill was slated to be crowned the number one action figure of 2014 but his plans were abruptly foiled by Vanessa at the last minute. Just like last year, Vanessa bought me an epic toy for Christmas which bumped everyone down a spot in a surprise upset. Destro, Invisible Man, and Scunner were all bumped from the list completely thanks to Catwoman, the Storm Trooper, and…
1. The Crow (Hot Toys) The Crow is my all-time favorite movie. I’ve watched it countless times and I can recite all of the dialogue with ease. For me, the combination of great story, gothic visuals, awesome music, amazing acting, and teenage angst was a recipe for perfection in 1994. I’m sure it would be my favorite movie regardless but the fact that Brandon Lee died while making it just gives it some added weight. I have a couple of Crow figures in my collection and they’re pretty cool but nothing anyone else does in the toy industry compares to what Hong Kong-based Hot Toys does when it comes to action figure craftsmanship. Last Christmas Vanessa bought me their Snake Eyes figure based on his look from G.I. Joe: Retaliation. She had asked for gift ideas, I mentioned Snake Eyes and she asked about it a couple of times afterwards. So while it was a great gift it wasn’t a total shock or surprise to receive. This year Vanessa didn’t ask for suggestions, we set a spending limit of $100, and she specifically told me she had a more practical gift in mind for me this time. So obviously I had no idea that she was planning on buying me this figure because he is far from practical and also quite far from $100. I wanted this figure so bad when it became available earlier this year but I simply couldn’t justify the hefty price tag. I placed it in my online shopping cart many times but always removed it. Thank goodness for girl friends. I can’t do this figure justice in a mini blurb so I’ll post a full review soon but one glance at the picture to the left tells you pretty much all you need to know. You can barely tell that its a picture of a toy and not the real Brandon Lee. The eyes are particularly haunting. The other toys on this list didn’t stand a chance.
We’re days away from Christmas and 2014 is drawing to a close which means I’ll soon be posting my third annual “best action figures of the year” list. This year it will be my top 14 of 2014. I’ve been scanning my collection the past few weeks picking out this year’s stand outs. It’s never an easy task to choose the best of the best. I post my top 10 favorite movie and album lists on facebook each year as well and they’re much easier to compile than this one. I see a lot of movies and I listen to a lot of records. I go into them with expectations but I never quite know what I’m gonna get until I actually see and hear them. They either impress or disappoint me based on my expectations. Action figures are much more straight forward. I see them in stores or online and if I like what I see I buy them; there’s not a whole lot of room for surprises. I only buy toys that I like (usually*) so there’s a much slimmer chance I’ll be disappointed with the final product than there is with a movie or album. I probably bought 100 figures this year and narrowing it down to the top 14 is tough.
I’ve picked out a few front-runners and a whole bunch of potential candidates thus far. When I do post the list next week I want to provide links to full reviews for each of the figures so readers can find what makes them so special. Therefore, I’ve been hammering out reviews for some of those candidates the past couple weeks in case they make the list.
I held off on reviewing this figure when I got it a few months back even though I was really excited about it because I figured you might be sick of hearing about this guy by now. But this figure is a strong contender for my year-end list so I have to get my review posted now so bear with me while I talk about him one more time.
I’ve written plenty about Swerve in past reviews but here’s a quick recap (click on any of my past reviews for more info): One of my favorite Transformer toys when I was a kid was a small red and blue truck released in 1984 named Gears. In 1986 Hasbro repainted Gears red and white, gave him a new face and named the new character Swerve. I never owned the original Swerve. In recent years IDW has made Swerve a prominent character in their comic books and he has quickly become one of my favorite Transformers. After becoming a fan of the character I wanted a figure of him but at the time my options were limited. I could either track down the old ’86 one or buy the crappy new one which was a repaint of Kup and looked nothing like the Swerve from the comics. I went with the new one but my disappointment was palpable (*one of those instances where I bought a toy I didn’t like).
A third party company, iGear, released unofficial versions of Gears and Swerve last year named Cogz and Veer. Their Cogz/Gears was fantastic and ranked #2 on my 20123 list. The Veer/Swerve was essentially a repaint of Cogz but with a different face sculpt; just like the original 1986 was. Veer looked a lot more like Swerve from the comics than the crappy Kup version did and that earned him the #7 spot on my 2013 list. In hindsight I don’t think Veer deserved to be on the list. I still love the Cogz figure, it looks exactly how Gears should look, but Veer is actually a little bland.
Hasbro released their own official updates of Swerve and Gears earlier this year which were decent updates but still lacking in some areas. The Hasbro Serve was brighter than Veer and it had more personality in the face sculpt but overall the figure just felt kind of cheap and basic.
Around the same time Hasbro was putting out their versions, another third-party company, MakeToys, released its own versions of Gears and Swerve named Cogwheel and Trash-Talk. Of the two of them I opted to review Cogwheel/Gears first since I had reviewed the Hasbro Swerve not long before. The MakeToys Gears was pretty cool, brighter and more posable than iGear’s Cogz, but I still think Cogz is the best version of the character to date.
However, when it comes to Swerve MakeToys has undisputedly taken the crown. Trash-Talk is an amazing figure that perfectly encapsulates the Swerve I love with from the IDW books. His proportions are right, the colors are bright, the articulation is great, and the face sculpt is phenomenal. Just look at this guy’s smile. Have you ever seen a toy so happy? I also really like how his visor is sculpted in a separate piece of blue plastic that makes it look like real glass.
Trash-Talk comes with 3 very cool accessories. First off he has his standard laser cannon which fits snugly into his hands. Secondly he has a serving tray with a removable drink pitcher and 2 shot glasses full of energon. In the comics Swerve runs a bar aboard Hot Rod’s ship, the Lost Light, where all the bots get together to unwind and share their stories. The third accessory also comes directly from the comics; it’s Swerves’s battle damaged head from when he accidentally blew his own face off with his cannon. This skeletal face and drinks are by no means essential accessories but they look really cool and they’re a neat little nod to the comic fans.
I don’t anticipate buying anymore Swerve toys after this because I can’t imagine Trash-Talk being topped. This should be the last you hear of him from me for a while.
This is an awesome action figure of a lovable character. Do yourself a favor; buy this toy and buy the comics that made it so desirable in the first place. 10 out of 10.
A while back I reviewed the Rocketeer ReAction figure by Funko. The first series of ReAction figures was based on the movie ALIEN and from there Funko has branched out into all kinds of properties. The idea behind the line is to create fun retro toys that look like the figures we played with in the late 70s and early 80s. Appropriately, a bunch of the properties they’ve selected for the ReAction treatment are from that time period; such as the Goonies, Alien, Back to the Future, and Escape from New York. But they’ve also selected some contemporary properties, such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly, and some really old ones, like the Universal Monsters.
I really like the retro look of ReAction figures and I love the Universal Monsters so the pairing seemed a match made in heaven. When I first saw pictures of the figures online I was very tempted to buy them all. However, as neat as they are, ReAction figures are somewhat of a kitschy novelty and buying 8 retro monster figures seemed like overkill. Therefore I decided that when they became available in stores I would only buy my favorite monster, the Wolfman. Besides, I already have larger, highly detailed versions of many of the monsters (Wolfman, Creature, Frankenstein) and I even have fun, retro doll versions of many of them too (Dracula, the Mummy). But dammit, there’s just something uber-appealing about these simple, silly ReAction figures and once my local comic shop, Strange Adventures, actually stocked them and they were right in front of me I knew I needed them all.
Luckily, I had the strength to resist buying them all in one fell swoop. Strange had them priced at $13.99 which, while quite cheap when compared to many figures I collect, does add up quickly when you’re talking about 8 figures. I allowed myself 2 of them. I of course went with the Wolfman for my first pick and for my second pick I went with the Invisible Man. Now the bandaged guy in the sunglasses may seem like an unlikely pick when up against bigwigs like Dracula and Frankenstein but I already have figures of them and I wanted to add someone new to my collection. I didn’t previously have an action figure of the Invisible Man (though I could have easily pretended I did) and he was the most appealing of the characters that weren’t already represented on my shelves (Bride of Frankenstein and Phantom of the Opera being the others).
A big part of the appeal of these ReAction figures is their retro style packaging. So even though I’m a strong proponent of opening your toys I simply can’t bear to open these things. They look so great carded that I’ve been pinning them to my wall where they can be fully appreciated; but I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a part of me that wanted to tear this bad-boy open and play with it (yes, I know that sounds weird coming from a grown man). So many toys I collect these days are geared towards collectors and are intended as display pieces. This figure is so simplistic (no accessories or easily breakable joint) that he looks like he would be a ton of fun to play with. If I owned this toy when I was 8 I’m sure he would have been in the bathtub and the sandbox and all over the place.
Despite the fact that he’s trapped in a plastic bubble prison I can still tell that the Invisible Man is the star of the Universal Monsters line. All of them are pretty great but this figure is straight pimping in his super suave smoking jacket. He’s like the Hugh Hefner of monsters. The sculpting and the paintjob are both top notch. The simple style of these figures is perfectly suited for the Invisible Man because there’s no actor’s likeness to capture like there is with Drac and Frank. This style has never been the best for capturing the look of real life people, just look at your old Star Wars toys.
This action figure is perfect for what it is. The packaging and figure are both great and together they make for an eye-catching conversation piece. Funko has done Claude Rains proud with this toy. 10 out of 10.
Not too long ago I reviewed Mutt, a G.I. Joe Kre-O figure. Kre-O is Hasbro’s in-house Lego knock-off which is completely compatible with the real thing. I actually think Kre-O is superior in some regards because their mini figures are better articulated. In my Mutt review I lamented that the G.I. Joe Kre-Os in particular are very hard to find in my neck of the woods. While you can find the Transformers stuff everywhere, the Joe line is exclusive to Toys R Us and the one Toys R Us in my city doesn’t seem to carry it. It looked as though I was doomed to track the figures down on ebay which would cost me a pretty penny when you factor in the cost of shipping to Canada.
However, within days of posting the Mutt review my friend Darryl, who owns the comic shop Giant Robot Comics in Dartmouth, messaged me on facebook. He said that he was venturing down to the U.S. of A to take advantage of Black Friday sales and that he would keep his eyes peeled for Joe Kre-Os for me. Score.
He messaged me after his shopping spree to tell me that he picked me up 4 playsets and nabbed nearly 50 wave 4 and 5 blind bagged single figures which he would divvy up between me and our mutual friend and fellow Joe collector, Glenn. I picked up my stash from Giant Robot a few days later. I was expecting a sizable bill but between the Black Friday discount and Darryl’s generosity it ended up being a very affordable haul. My Kre-O woes are behind me. I still don’t have a complete set but after that score I’m pretty damn close.
I still haven’t opened all of the playsets yet because I’m saving them for Christmas morning (I’m gonna need something to do while bumming around my parent’s house for a couple of days) but I have opened all the blind packed single figures. You’re not supposed to know what figures are inside the blind packs but there were discreet codes perforated into the foil of the first few waves of figures so nerds in-the-know could pick and choose the figures they wanted without opening the packages. But Hasbro has done away with the codes on waves 4 and 5 so I was as in-the-dark as the average consumer when I ripped into my latest blind packs. Out of the 24 packs I ended up with 6 doubles which isn’t too bad. Fortunately Glenn also got 6 doubles so we promptly made a swap.
Each wave of G.I. Joe Kre-Os has been impressive and 4 and 5 are no different. They featured a wide array of Joes from various eras of the brand. I’d be hard pressed to pick a favorite as Kre-O versions of some of my favorite characters were included this time around, such as Zarana and Nemesis Enforcer, but if I were forced to single out the best of the bunch I think I’d go with Tripwire.
Tripwire is the Joe team’s explosive ordnance disposal expert. The first Tripwire action figure came out way back in 1983 and was one of the first Joes in my collection. His file card described him as clumsy and jittery so I always saw him as kind of a goofball and played him for comic relief. It was hard to imagine him as anything but a background Joe since the original toy didn’t even come with a gun; just a mine detector and a couple of mines for detecting. While his military specialty wasn’t very exciting and he was never the hero of my bedroom battles he always seemed like an integral member of the team anyway. I really liked the design of his outfit, with the padded vest and the goggles, but unfortunately the ’83 figure didn’t quite pull it off; it looked kind of wimpy to me with its scrawny arms, big round head, and dopey expression. The first modern version of the character (version 5) was released in 2008 and it helped to make Tripwire seem less goofy but it still didn’t come across as a “cool” figure.
Oddly enough, I think this little brick figure is the “coolest” Tripwire we’ve gotten yet. I can quite put my finger on why but I just really like this figure. I don’t think his padded costume has ever looked better and, within the confines of being a brick person, I think this is the most well proportioned Tripwire to date. It’s also the first Tripwire figure to show his eyes beneath the goggles and I think it helps to humanize him. He’s got angry eyebrows and a stiff lip which make him look like a guy you wouldn’t want to mess with for the first time ever. While the removable helmet is a neat new concept the rest of his accessories are very familiar. He has a rounded backpack and his classic mine detector, complete with a hose to connect it to the backpack. The detector is a little oversized but it looks pretty cool. It’s amazing what some creatively made accessories and a slick paint job can do for a simple brick figure. 10 out of 10.
Today marks the 3 year anniversary of this blog. I posted my first review way back on December 18, 2011. I was pretty gung-ho about this new venture at first and I was posting multiple reviews a day regularly. Unfortunately I didn’t own a digital camera at the time so for my first bunch of reviews I just lifted pictures of action figures from the internet. It wasn’t until a full month later (January 17 to be precise) that Vanessa bought me a camera for my birthday. Since then I’ve taken all my own pictures (perhaps to the detriment of the blog because I’m a crappy photographer). One of the pre-camera posts from that first month was a review of Cy-Kill from Tonka’s short-lived Go-Bots toyline. For that review in particular it was probably for the best that I used a stock image of the toy instead of taking pics of my own figure. My original 1983 Cy-Kill is in rough shape. One of his arms is busted off, the handle bar on the shoulder of the remaining arm is broken off, the joints are loose, the accessories are missing, and the chrome has worn off in several places. Despite all that I still think it’s a great looking figure. As I said in the original review there’s just something about Cy-Kill’s design that really appeals to me. I’m not sure why I only gave him a 6 out of 10.
The Go-Bots were basically trounced from existence by Hasbro’s Transformers line and it’s easy to see why. The Transformers had better toys, they had a better cartoon, and they had a top-selling Marvel comic book. But I’ve always retained a soft spot for the Go-Bots. The toys were really basic but they had a charm about them. Their transformations were simple, they were mostly all the same size (the same scale as G.I. Joes and Star Wars figures), they were brightly colored, and they had laughably on-the-nose names. Naming a motorCYCLE “CY-KILL” for example is so dumb that it’s brilliant. I didn’t have many Go-Bots when I was a kid but I really liked each one I had. Regrettably, I got rid of most of them at the same time I got rid of my Transformers but I held onto my 2 favorites, Cop-Tur the helicopter, and Cy-Kill.
I would love to see the classic Go-Bots toys make a comeback but the chances of that happening seem to be slim to none. Hasbro bought the rights to the Go-Bots franchise years ago but the actual character likenesses still belong to Bandai, whom Tonka leased them from. So while Hasbro produced Go-Bots/Transformers crossover toys are off the table there have been a few subtle interactions between the two in the Transformers comic books. Cy-Kill was featured in a flashback story that explained how the Decepticon leader, Megatron, was once a gladiator before he was a terrorist. In the gladiator scene Megatron is shown to slay an unnamed bot who bares a striking resemblance to Cy-Kill.
In the past few years there has been a flood of unlicensed Transformers toys hitting the market produced by third-party companies. But these aren’t the dollar-store knock offs you might expect. Third party Transformers are some of the best on the market. They’re made by people who clearly love the characters. I’ve got some fantastic third party Transformers such as Stormbomb (Bombshell), Cogz (Gears), and the Shark Attack Squad (Sharkticons) just to name a few. It never occured to me that one of these companies might attemp a Go-Bot.
Well DX9 is the first company out of the gate (I’m pretty sure) to do it and I couldn’t be happier. I have no idea how these companies get away with doing what they do but I’m sure glad they do. Often times I’m reluctant to pay the high asking prices for these third party figures because there’s always the possibility that Hasbro will release their own version of the character at a much lower cost. But with Cy-Kill there’s no chance of that so this purchase was a no-brainer.
As soon as I saw this figure available for pre-order on BigBadToyStore I absolutely loved it. But the price was $100 so that did give me pause. I waited months and months hoping to see a price reduction but at the end of November I finally pulled the trigger. I felt I couldn’t wait any longer because I knew this figure would be a contender for my toy of the year so I had to get it in-hand and reviewed before posting my year-end list. As luck would have it, the figure went on sale for $70 the very next day and BBTS credited me the $30 difference. Score.
This figure is named Salmoore. They can’t call him Cy-Kill for legal reasons but I’m not sure why they didn’t go with something a little closer like Cyke-Ill. I have no idea what Salmoore means. It doesn’t sound tough and it makes me think of salmon. So as far as I’m concerned this figure’s name is Cy-Kill.
First I want to quickly mention the box this figure came in. Theres a picture of the toy on the back with a small bio and the whole thing is pretty nice looking but the artwork on the front is wicked. I love it. The figure itself is also quite wicked. He stands about 6″ tall and he’s very well articulated. He bends at the ankles, knees, hips, waist, neck, shoulders, and elbows. The colors are nice and bright and very reminiscent of the original figure. Most importantly the sculpt on this figure is absolutely amazing.
When I compared the new and the old versions I was surprised to see just how different they were. Salmoore’s feet are quite different, the head sculpt is a mix of the old toy and the cartoon look, and the arms are no longer chrome. The big round chrome hands were one of my favorite aspects of the original toy and it would have been nice if Slmoore at least came with alternate arms that more closely resembled the originals. That said, I think almost all of the changes are an improvement over the original design. The mismatched feet look great and the face sculpt is deadly.
For accessories Cy-Kill comes with two tires. In his motorcycle alt-mode it’s obvious where they go but in his robot mode they can be attached to his shoulders just like with the original. This toy also has removable spiked armor that can be placed on the tires. he looks super cool either way. Also his exhaust (or whatever they are) can be removed from his bike mode and can be used as guns when he’s in robot mode.
Speaking of his bike mode, it looks pretty sweet from the images I’ve seen but I have no intention of transforming mine. I read online that the transformation process can be difficult because the arms are wonky or something. That doesn’t bother me any because my Cy-Kill will always be displayed in robot mode.
This toy is absolutely great and I’m so happy I finally bit the bullet and ordered him. I really hope DX9 tackles some more Go-Bots in the future. I would love to get an updated Cop-Tur. The only complaint I have about this figure is that the legs are a little loose. I wish they were stiffer so his stance was more solid but overall this toy is epic. 10 out of 10.
With the passing of 2014 so to passes the 50th anniversary of G.I. Joe. It was a pretty lackluster anniversary as far as standard G.I. Joe figures were concerned. We got four 2-packs, a couple 3-packs, and a couple vehicle packs. Fortunately, besides the limited standard releases we also got a great convention set and 13 new subscription figures from the Collector’s Club, a bevy of Kre-O block figures, some unexpected Burger King kids meal toys, and the promise of 12” retro-figures from Gentle Giant. So while the 50th anniversary lacked the impact of the 25th anniversary it could have been much worse.
The small wave of anniversary product that Hasbro did provide us with was an interesting mix of figures. Some were straight re-releases of figures we’d seen before, like the Cobra Trooper and Hawk. Some were repaints of figures and vehicles we already had, like the Viper and the VAMP. And some were brand new figures, like Heat Viper and Ice Viper. The plastic used was softer than usual and there were a number of reports of quality controls issues in regards to the paint apps so some fans were fairly disappointed. Personally, I was quite satisfied with anniversary figures overall. One of the biggest highlights from the small assortment was Destro.
Destro’s been around since 1983 and this is the 32nd version of him in the 3 ¾” scale; the 19th version in the modern style alone (the reason it says v.29 above is a technicality I won’t bother getting into). As with other overexposed characters like Snake Eyes, Cobra Commander, and Duke, I usually try to avoid buying the multitude of Destro variants Hasbro puts out. The way I see it, you really only need 2 versions of Destro: His v.1 look from 1983 featuring the silver chrome helmet, exposed chest and medallion, and his v.2 Iron Grenadier look from 1988 featuring a gold helmet and cape. Practically all of the other versions that have come out since are just redundant variations of those two signature looks.
The first modern version of Destro came out in 2007. It featured the 1983 silver helmet design and I thought it was a great figure. It still holds up as one of the best 2007 figures. Hasbro was still working out the kinks of the new figure construction at that point so some of the other 2007 offerings are pretty wonky. The first modern take on the 1988 gold-helmeted Grenadier version of Destro came out in 2008 and it was also quite good. With 2 great modern construction style figures in my collection, one representing each of the character’s iconic costumes, I should’ve been able to stop buying Destro figures right then and there. Unfortunately Hasbro kept including variations of Destro in multi-packs with other figures and vehicles that I needed so I ended up with a half dozen more Destros that I didn’t really want or need.
This particular Destro was another multi-pack version. It was included in a 3-pack with the re-release of General Hawk and one of the must-have 50th anniversary figures, Leatherneck. Therefore I would’ve got saddled with this Destro whether I wanted him or not in order to get Leatherneck. However, in this case, I wanted this Destro; I wanted him bad. Yes, it’s another modern-style take on 1983 Destro, much like the 2007 figure, but this one is totally badass.
The first difference you’ll notice between the ’07 version and this figure is that this version is much taller; by at least a quarter inch. Bigger doesn’t always mean better but in this case I think it does. Real people come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and one aspect of the modern construction that I really like is that it allows for a much wider array of body types. This figure is a frig’n giant. Destro wasn’t generally portrayed in the comics or cartoons as being huge but he was definitely an imposing character. I think the original toy would have been bigger if the designers had the ability to do that back in ’83. This larger physique really suits Destro’s character.
The other thing about this figure which immediately stands out is the head sculpt. It’s absolutely deadly. This is the closest we’ve come to a figure that accurately represents Destro’s 1983 card art. The artwork featured a mask with blunt angles but the original toy, and every subsequent version until now, has featured a very rounded mask; almost like the silver is Destro’s actual skin. I like the smoother look but this angular design is a refreshing change of pace.
The last thing that needs to be pointed out is the collar. This thing is a beast and it looks super cool. The collars of previous figures look laughable when compared to this. Destro has always had a flair for over-the-top ceremonial garb and this collar finally does him some justice. The rest of the body construction is good but not particularly noteworthy.
For accessories Destro comes with a display stand (with nifty gold accents) and a briefcase. Destro has come with similar cases before and they’re usually filled with money which makes sense given that he’s a very wealthy professional arms dealer. This time around the case contains a rifle broken down into 5 separate components. It’s very cool and perhaps even more appropriate than the money cases.
This is an excellent Destro figure. I’m reluctant to say it’s my favorite simply because it’s lacking a vac-metal chrome helmet which is a Destro must. However, I feel that the beautiful sculpted detail on the mask would have been lost had they chromed it so I guess I have to give Hasbro a pass on that. Chances are they’ll eventually release a chromed variant of this figure anyway and so I’ll end up adding yet another Destro to my collection. 10 out of 10.
I’ve been a loyal Saturday Night Live fan since I was about 12 years old. I started watching it when the regular cast consisted of Mike Myers, Chris Rock, David Spade, Chris Farley, Kevin Nealon, Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, and Phil Hartman just to name a few. To me those will always be the glory days of the show and it would seem pretty hard to argue that point with a cast like that. I’ve stuck with it through every incarnation since and I continue to watch it every weekend (Did you see the James Franco episode last week? Pretty funny stuff).
The show has had its ups and down and I’m really not sure it would have survived past the 90s if not for Will Ferrell carrying it for a few years. It wasn’t like the old days where everyone was on the verge of making it big; Will was clearly the star of the show for several years with the others serving to support him. Every year I worried he’d bail for Hollywood because his profile was growing with each hilarious supporting role he threw himself into (Zoolander, The Ladies’ Man, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, etc.). Ferrell did eventually leave SNL in 2002 after his 7 year stint and he quickly solidified his status as Hollywood’s reigning funny man with his role of Frank “the tank” in Old School.
Will has starred in a bunch of funny movies since (and his fair share of duds as well) but in my mind he attained comedic perfection with 2005’s Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.
I have watched Anchorman so many goddamn times. It’s probably the movie I’ve watched the most as an adult. Not since I was a little kid watching Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Young Guns on a weekly basis have I devoted so many hours to a film.
When Anchorman came out I was living with my best friend at the time, Matt Merrick. My year living with Matt was the only time in my life I’ve lived with a roommate who wasn’t my girlfriend. The result of spending so much time with a dude with a similar sense of humour was that we developed our own short-hand way of speaking to each other. Movie quotes became our language and no movie was more quotable than Anchorman. Generally, I don’t care to watch movies over and over again but Matt always wanted to watch it and I never objected. It was Seinfeldian in that no matter how many times I watched it I still laughed. The DVD was packed with so much bonus material as well that we were eventually quoting deleted scenes and nobody knew what the hell we were talking about.
Thank goodness there was no Anchorman merchandise available back then as I feel we would have spent a fortune buying up every stupid thing. We essentially fed off of each other’s love of the film. Once Matt and I parted ways and I didn’t watch the movie for a while the quoting ceased (mostly) and the fanaticism subsided.
I do still love the movie though and I was pretty stoked to see Anchorman action figures finally hitting the shelves to coincide with the release of 2013’s sequel. I had planned to buy the 13” talking Ron doll but when I actually saw the thing in stores I was disappointed. One of his eyes was missing, replaced with a twinkling golden light. The package referred to it as “Whiskey Vision” and I believe it was supposed to be an homage to the Six-Million Dollar Man doll from the 70s with bionic eye. I thought it just looked stupid and the inclusion of a pair of sunglasses wasn’t enough to salvage it.
So instead I bought this 8” Ron Burgundy doll designed in the style of the classic Mego figures. This doll is labelled “Battle Ready Ron” and it features him in the blue suit he wore during the classic News-team street fight scene from the first movie. The outfit is accurate to the scene but I would have preferred a Ron figure in his trademark maroon suit, as was featured on the Whiskey Vision version. Another thing I prefer about the 13” version is the more neutral expression on his face. The fact that this Ron is sculpted in mid battle cry is appropriate but, like the blue suit, it’s a little too scene specific for my liking. My final gripe is the lack of socks. I’m not sure if he had socks on in the movie but nothing looks douchier than a guy in a suit with bare ankles and white loafers.
Having said all that, this is a really cool figure. The likeness to Will Ferrell is spot on. There’s some nice sculpting in the immaculately blow-dried hair. The two-toned paint job of the hair and the fine detail of the eyes really bring him to life.
The body construction feels to be about the same as any doll in this scale. There’s plenty of articulation so he can be displayed in many “battle ready” poses. One hand is clenched into a fist while the other is open so that he can hold his included weapon, a table leg. Ha.
His suit consists of slacks, a dress shirt, a film-accurate tie, and a jacket. I assume it’s all removable but I haven’t attempted to undress him. The front of his jacket has a single button which looks to hold it closed but it’s actually held shut with Velcro which can be easily opened. The suit fits him pretty well but the collar of the shirt seems a little wonky. The material is quite thin though and in certain light you can see his flesh tone through his pants.
This isn’t the perfect Anchorman figure but it’s a pretty good one. And best of all, the rest of the news team is available in this scale as well. Presently Ron is slugging it out with Brick Tamlen on my desk at work surrounded by a crowd of POP! figurines. I hope to eventually pick up Brian and Champ but until I do I can make do with stand-ins. 7 out of 10.
When the modern era of G.I. Joe action figures began in 2007 with the release of the 25th anniversary series I was 100% on board. I had been bitten by the Joe bug as an adult collector in ’02 and had amassed a sizeable collection of new-sculpt era Joes from 2002 to 2006 but by the time the 25th anniversary figures were announced I was ready for something new. The highly detailed, slightly bigger figures made for better display pieces which really appealed to my collector sensibilities. I fervently bought up all the modern style Joes I could get my hands on during the first 2 years of the modern era. That all came to a screeching halt in 2009 with the release of the first live-action G. I. Joe movie, Rise of Cobra (ROC), and the corresponding toyline.
The Rise of Cobra movie had no shortage of problems. Many aspects of it really pissed me off when they were first revealed; such as Cobra Commander’s appearance and Marlon Wayans being cast as Ripcord. Despite the problems I liked the movie the from very first time I saw it in theaters and I’ve enjoyed every subsequent viewing on Blu-ray. It’s definitely not the G.I. Joe movie I would’ve made but it’s a fun ride.
I suppose I just didn’t feel like they were “the real” G.I. Joe. For example, I already had a perfectly good modern-era figure of the Joe’s leader, General Hawk, in his trademark brown bomber jacket, camo pants, and goggled green helmet. I didn’t see any reason why I should spend another $10 on a Hawk figure that looked like Dennis Quaid in a T-shirt. What do I need a Dennis Quaid figure for? I feel the same way about the movie versions of Marvel characters. I collect figures based on the characters’ comic book appearances and I rarely like to display them with movie-based figures that look like real actors. I loved the Guardians of the Galaxy movie but i don’t want a Star Lord figure that looks like Chris Pratt.
Actor-likenesses aside, the movie figures just seemed rather bland when compared to the bright and diverse 25th anniversary figures. Most of the ROC figures were black and gray. I decided to pick up a just a handful of figures and then wait the movie line out in hopes that things would return to normal afterwards. Thankfully we saw a return to the status quo when the toy line transitioned from Rise of Cobra to Pursuit of Cobra in 2010 and then to the 30th Anniversary line in 2012.
I was glad to be rid of the ROC figures and I never would have predicted that I would one day regret not buying them when they were readily available. Many of the movie figures have grown on me over time and I even find myself thinking, “Gee, it would be kind of neat to have a G.I. Joe figure that looks like Dennis Quaid.”
The ROC figure that has grown on me the most is the Neo-Viper. These guys were the grunts of the movie, essentially the blueshirts. I really disliked them at first which is why I gave Neo-Viper version 9 a mere 4 out of 10 rating. My view had softened by the time I reviewed the red repaint of that figure called the Crimson Neo-Viper which scored a 6 out of 10. Later still, I gave the copper colored version 10 a 7 out of 10 and I gave the bulky “Action Battlers” version an 8 out of 10. Every time I look at this design I tend to like it more and more.
The ROC Neo-Viper was a poor substitute for the Cobra Trooper in the movie but I have found a place for them in my Cobra army and in my heart. The Neo-Viper design has grown on me so much that I made it a mission to track down all of the different colored variations of which there are many. This was a mission I thought I had accomplished a while back until a couple of weeks ago when I stumbled across 2 variations of the Neo-Viper I didn’t have yet while perusing an online toy store. The reason those 2 versions slipped past me is because even though they look just like Neo-Vipers they were given different names. One was named Neo-Viper Officer and this guy was named Cobra Viper Commando. That means when I search “Neo-Viper” on Yojoe.com, the internet’s premiere G.I. Joe figure database, these 2 figures don’t show up. So many ROC figures came out in 2009 and so many of them look similar and so many of them were exclusive to certain stores so it was very easy to miss a couple.
I ordered the 2 figures (along with a few others) and they arrived in the mail less than 2 weeks later. I think I can safely say that I now own every variation of the ROC Neo-Viper, a total of nine.
This is the Cobra Viper Commando, though he should be named Neo-Viper version 12. He was included in a Toys R Us exclusive 3-pack with Destro and an Elite Viper. Since I’ve reviewed this exact same figure in multiple color schemes already I don’t have too much more to say about it. The core body is pretty simple consisting of ordinary looking pants and a ribbed sweater. It’s the plated vest and the head sculpt that make this guy stand out. Most Neo Vipers have a metallic colors head with a black paint wash to bring out the details in the face. This figure has the opposite: the head is sculpted in black and a metallic silver wash is used to bring out the detail. It looks really cool and creepy, partly alien and partly skeletal. The big red eyes enhance the creepy factor even further.
He comes equipped with a display base, a pistol, and 2 laser rifles which can be stored on the sides of his backpack. I really like it when all of a figure’s accessories can be held or worn at the same time. It saves from adding to the giant box of loose accessories I have in the closet.
The last thing I should mention about this figure is the metallic blue paint used on his armor and gloves. It looks fantastic and really shows off the scratchy details in the vest. I don’t know if this my favorite version of this trooper but it’s up there. 9 out of 10.
As a monster fan I was super stoked about the movie Pacific Rim coming out, however, I was a little disappointed with the end result. Don’t get me wrong though, I did enjoy it and I thought the monsters looked great. It was more so the human story and the robot designs that let me down. After seeing the designs for the Jaegers for the first time I knew I wouldn’t be collecting any of them in action figure form, they just didn’t do it for me, but I was excited about the Kaiju figures, even after being slightly disappointed by the movie. I could not wait to get my hands on a Knifehead figure based on the trailers I had seen in the months leading up to the release of the film.
But, like the film itself, that first Pacific Rim figure failed to meet my lofty expectations. It was good, it just wasn’t great. The articulation was very limited, the paint apps were muted, and worst of all he seemed small. He stood about 6” tall which is a pretty standard action figure size but he was supposed to be a massive, city-stomping monster. I don’t need all my monster action figures to be 2 feet tall necessarily (because I’d have nowhere to put them) but I feel they should be at least 12 inches.
Luckily Neca upped their game before the next wave of PR figures hit the shelves. The later Kaiju figures were bigger, bulkier, better articulated, and more colorful. Wave 2’s Leatherback was superior to Knifehead, wave 3’s Trespasser was superior to Leatherback, and wave 4’s Scunner is my favorite Kaiju figure to date.
My favorite monster in the film is still Knifehead and thankfully Neca released a bigger and better deluxe version of him as part of wave 3 alongside Trespasser. Sadly, I couldn’t justify buying another version of Knifehead so soon after I bought the first one but I’m pretty sure that I’ll scoop it up eventually. Both Trespasser and Scunner were built with the reused body of that wave 3 Knifehead as the base. You could argue that it’s a lazy cost saving measure by Neca to reuse the same body parts for all the creatures but that’s the way they looked in the movie. If you recall, it was discovered that the Kaiju are actually all clones so it makes perfect sense that they would share physical attributes. Besides, Neca has stepped up and sculpted all new bodies when it was warranted for more unique characters such as Leatherback and the upcoming Otachi.
Also, the bodies used for Knifehead, Trespasser and Scunner aren’t as similar as they appear at first glance. Neca has swapped out a few parts here and there so that each has their own unique design. For example, when I pose my Trespasser and Scunner side-by-side I can see that they have different tails (Scunner’s is 3 pronged), different “shells” on their backs, different hands, and perhaps even different forearms. Scunner also has an additional layer of armour over his chest and shoulders to further differentiate him from his clone.
The best part about this figure, as is always the case with the Pacific Rim figures, is the head sculpt. The different headshapes are what really make each Kaiju distinctive. Scunner looks like a shark crossed with a bull then put through an alien blender; he’s all kinds of weird looking. He’s also super cool looking. I love his hammerhead-like eyes and the big giant horns on the sides of his head. He’s got 2 rows of little needle teeth and a sculpted tongue that you can see when you open his mouth. His jaw is hinged but it doesn’t have as much movement as previous PR figures.
Besides the wicked sculpt this figure also has the best paint job we’ve seen yet. I’ll admit I wasn’t sold on the lines painted on these figures when I got my Knifehead figure. They looked like an afterthought and the yellow used was really dull. But on the later figures like Scunner here the designers have really embraced the lines and made them bright and bold. Scunner features vibrant turquoise swirls and patterns all over his body just like he did in the movie when he battle Gypsy Danger at the bottom of the sea. It looks fantastic. These figures would be much less interesting to look at without them.
This is an awesome figure and I’m looking forward to adding more Kaiju to my shelf since these figures continue to get better and better. Next up is Axehead. Scunner gets a strong 9 out of 10.