Monthly Archives: April 2015

THE MARACA BROTHERS (Mixer Taite)

Muscle-Mixer fullM.U.S.C.L.E.

Early tomorrow morning I leave for Mexico.  My best friend Miguel is getting married down there and I’m his best man.  I live in Canada, the Great White North, and I’ve never been down south before.  I’m excited about the trip but I’m equally trepidatious.  I once got third degree burns when I stayed out in the sun to long here at home. I’m pretty much doomed once I get down there.  Besides the deadly sun I’ve also received the following warnings from various people:

1. Don’t drink the water.

2. Stay near crowds to avoid getting murdered by the crime families who run the resorts.

3. By wary of deadly jellyfish swarms, and

4. Wipe down all the utensils so I don’t get worms.

Muscle-MixerThat’s just a few of the things I have to worry about.  Don’t even get me started on airplanes and sharks and all the other dangers that await me.  But I’m trying to stay focused on the positive aspects of the trip.  I’m sure it will be a blast.  It’s mine and Vanessa’s first vacation together and I’ll have a bunch of my good buddies there too.  It’s two weeks away from work if nothing else.

In celebration of the trip I thought I’d review a toy with Mexican ties but I had a really hard time finding one.  Most of my toys are made in China.  I think the only Mexican made toys I have are the terrible Batman and Nightwing bootlegs that Miguel brought back for me as a souvenir a few years ago.

Muscle-Mixer backI tried to think of Mexican pop-culture characters.  The first one I thought of was the Spider-Man villain Tarantula who I could’ve sworn was Mexican but after reading his Wikipedia page I discovered that he hails from a fictional South American country.  The next one I thought of was Arana but I already reviewed her a few months back.   I couldn’t think of any other Mexican super heroes and I couldn’t think of any Mexican G.I. Joes either.  I then pondered if I had any figures of Mexican wrestlers like Rey Mysterio.  It turns out I don’t but that line of thinking made me remember these two little figures.

M.U.S.C.L.E.(Millions of Unusual Small Creatures Lurking Everywhere) was a Japanese toy line exported to North America by Mattel in the 1980s.  They were small flesh coloured wrestlers and they came in all kinds of weird varieties.  I have previously reviewed two batches of them (Muscles 1 and Muscles 2).  My brother Doug and I collected them and we each had sizeable collections of the little guys.  None of the characters came with names or back stories so we had to make it all up ourselves.  I thought these two guys looked like maracas so I named them the Maraca Brothers.  They were some of my favorites and the were my reigning tag-team champions most of the time. I viewed them as Mexican Luchador wrestlers which is why they ended up the subject of this post.

Tag Team Match: The Maraca Brothers vs The Egyptians.

Tag Team Match: The Maraca Brothers vs The Egyptians.

The two figures are very similar.  From the waist down they’re identical. Their maraca shaped torsos share many similarities such as the flower pattern near the belt buckle, the “handle” on the top, and the round masked face in the center.  The differences are that one has a necklace of shrunken heads and an arm up in a punching position where as the other guy is jewelry free and has both arms at his side.  I always imagined the guy with the necklace of heads was the crazier of the two; the one who would fly off the handle in pre-fight interviews and stuff like that.  

Regrettably I decided to add some color to these two one day which is why they look the way they do.  I actually don’t mind my color choices but I used a type of marker which didn’t age very well.  A lot of the ink has rubbed off entirely or bled into other colors over the years.  Apparently my 10 year old self didn’t feel the need to color the back of one of the figures for some reason.Muscle-Mixer art

Before I sat down to write this review I googled this character to see if I could find out his real name.  Apparently he’s called Mixer Taite and he’s actually a blender, not a maraca.  That flower pattern near his waist is intended to be dicing blades seen through what would be a clear glass body…strange.  Also, I couldn’t find any reference to his partner so I think these figures are actually supposed to be variations of the same guy.  It’s neat to find that kind of stuff out after the fact but I still like them better as the Maraca Brothers.  6 out of 10.

So adios mi amigos.  Hopefully I survive the trip and this is not my final post.  If all goes well I shall return in a week with a bunch of crappy Mexican bootleg figures to review.

 

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COBRA VIPER v.25 (2009)

Joe-Viper v25 fullG. I. JOE

It seems Joe fans take the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club for granted these days.  The Club produces a lot of product each year and almost everything they do is greeted with moans and grons from impossible to please fans on the internet.  Not everything the Club does is perfect but I think they’ve played a major role in keeping the brand fun and innovative for the past 13 years.

The Club offers us a chance to sign up for a monthly figure subscription service that provides  13 exclusive figures each year, they give us a free annual membership incentive figure for joining, they produce exclusive figures and vehicles that they offer as optional purchases to members, and they offer exclusive figures to those who attend their annual convention. If I have anything to complain about its that they produce too many great figures because it gets awfully expensive to keep up with them all.

One of the coolest (and most expensive) exclusives they offer each year is their 15-figure box set which is available to both convention attendees and to non-attending Club members via their online store.  The first set the Club produced was 2002’s “Crimson Strike Team”.  It featured red re-paints of the 1984 Baroness, both of the 1985 Crimson Twins, and 12 1986 Cobra Vipers.  A box set containing 12 identical figures might not have been everyones cup of tea but it was a pretty cool set for those who like to army build.  I’m sure it was primarily done to reduce production cuts but it didn’t reduce them enough for me to shell out a couple hundred dollars to get a set for myself.  As neat as that set was the figures didn’t feel essential to my collection.Joe-Viper v25 back

The Club continued to produce new sets each year and they got better and better. In 2005 and 2006 the set still only contained 3 unique name characters but instead of 12 of the same army builder you got 6 of one type and 6 of another. 2007’s set featured 9 unique characters and a squad of 6 army builders.  The sets had begun to feel much more essential by that point but 2007 ushered in Hasbro’s new “modern style” of G.I. Joe figure.  I fully embraced the modern style and boxed up all my vintage and new-sculpt era figures.  This evolution saved me and my wallet from “needing” to purchase the Club’s convention sets because, even though the figures were cool, they were done in the vintage O-ring style which didn’t mesh with my modern collection.

But with the release of their 2009 box set the Club decided to embrace the modern-era figure construction.  The Club paid homage to their original 2002 set by releasing the Crimson Strike Team again (Baroness, Tomax & Xamot, and 12 Vipers) only this time in the modern 4″ style.  It was a cool set but still too pricey for my tastes.  I didn’t cave until 2012’s Operation Bear Trap set which featured the Oktober Guard vs the Iron Grenadiers.  Once I got a taste for them I haven’t been able to pass up a convention set since.  I’m presently eagerly awaiting the arrival of my 2015 Tiger Force themed set.

09RAHbox

I wish I had started buying the box sets at least one year earlier because there were some great figures included in 2011’s “Special Mission: Brazil” set.  The only figure I have from that set is Cobra De Aco which Vanessa bought me for my birthday a few years ago.  It’s one of my most prized possessions.  Hopefully I’ll eventually get the rest of that 2011 set.

As for 2009’s Crimson Strike Team I never felt compelled to seek out the whole set because I didn’t need 12 identical red Vipers…..but I did need at least one of them.  Crimson Vipers are plentiful on the internet and they’re not that expensive either as far as exclusives go because everyone who bought the set got a dozen of them.  I’ve intended to buy one for years but I didn’t actually do it until two weeks ago.  I think I was so excited by the 2015 G.I. Joe Convention which  took place over the weekend of April 9-12 that I got a bit of convention set fever.  I impulsively bought this figure from a lovely fellow named Greg online and a few days later it was in my hands.

Joe-Viper v25 face

I really like this figure.  I think the classic blue Viper outfit looks quite nice in red.  I was worried that this was going to be a repaint of 2008’s Viper version 16 (the first Viper of the modern-era which was a real clunker) but thankfully it’s not.  It has the same torso, waist, and upper arms as that figure but all the other pieces (the problem areas) have been replaced with superior parts.  These lower arms don’t have gimpy wrists, these lower legs don’t have weirdly angled ankles, and this head’s goggles don’t constantly fall off.  Best of all this Viper has a vac-metal faceplate.

Each Crimson Strike Team Viper came packaged with a red display base, a backpack, and 2 silver rifles. I’m very happy that I finally picked up this figure.  8 out of 10Joe-Viper v25 group

ANCHORMAN VAN (2014)

AM-van cardedHOT WHEELS

I’ve reviewed over 700 toys for this blog and about 690 of them have been action figures.  The other few have been statues, bobble-heads,  and stuffed animals.   I’ve reviewed a couple of G.I. Joe vehicles but this is my first ever dinky car review.  I’ve never been into cars but I still had a sizeable collection of dinkys when I was a kid.

Sidenote: I’m so out of the loop on these things that I’m not even sure if dinky is a popular term used to describe them.  It sounds silly to me now but that’s what I always called them when I was a kid.   I always assumed that “dinky” was a generic term used to describe all small die-cast metal cars but I could be wrong.

I used to keep my dinkys in a white wicker-like basket that was probably meant to be a garbage can.  Most of my toys were kept in drawers or boxes so I’m not sure why my dinkys ended up in such a strange storage receptacle but it was the perfect size to hold them all so thats where they remained.AM-van closeup

When my brother Doug and I played with out dinkys as kids (see, that sounds wrong) we pretended the cars themselves were characters, kind of like Transformers or KITT from Knight Rider.   I suppose it was most similar to how cars are treated in the Pixar movies of the same name.  I guess we were ahead of our time with that concept.  Our dinkys never did car-related things like race around a track.  Instead they went on adventures and fought rubber dinosaurs and stuff like that.  We pretty much used them the same way we played with our action figures.  I got rid of nearly all of my childhood dinkys long ago but I believe I held onto my 2 or 3 favourites.  Those would be Sunburner, Flashlight and Rookie if memory serves.  (yes, we named them all).  I haven’t gotten a new dinky since I was like 6 years old but I was in Toys R Us the other day and saw this thing and felt compelled to pick it up.

AM-van movie

Anchorman is one of my all-time favourite comedies; it’s one of Vanessa’s too.  I thought this van was hilarious when I spotted it while we were out shopping for Transformers on the weekend (she was actually shopping for a dress…not Transformers).  I pointed it out to her and once we noticed it was the only one left on the pegs she insisted I buy it.

There’s nothing particularly special or interesting about this van which is what makes it so funny.  You’d expect Hot Wheels’ movie-based line to include famous cars like the General Lee from the Dukes of Hazard, the A-Team’s Van, or the Batmobile but I guess those have probably all been done to death.  So now it seems Hot Wheels is going obscure and producing a whole bunch of barely memorable TV and movie vehicles.  The car from Simon & Simon?  The Zoolander jeep? Really?AM-van group

I usually open my toys but I don’t dare take this one out of its packaging.  It would immediately lose its recognition factor and look like nothing more than a boring generic van.  It must remain sealed so that it can truly be enjoyed.  It’s a pretty spot on reproduction of the van from the movie which is cool but that’s about all I have to say about it.  It doesn’t appear to have opening doors or any other features of note.   It’s a fun little oddity that will look nice tacked to the wall of my man-cave.  5 out of 10.

AM-Van dolls

 

VISION (2015) POP!

POP-Vision fullFUNKO POP!: AVENGERS

When the first Avengers movie came out in 2012 I had an Avengers theme week where I reviewed a different Avengers toy every day for 7 days.  I reviewed toys of characters that appeared in the film, like Hawkeye and Iron Man, but I also reviewed a couple of Avengers who weren’t in the movie, like Wonder Man and the Vision.  Vision has been a long-standing member of the Avengers but he’s never really been an A-List character and he seemed like an unlikely candidate to ever appear in a big-budget Hollywood film.  But in less than 2 weeks Avengers 2 will be hitting theatres and it will feature none other than the Avengers resident android as part of the ensemble cast.  A couple of years ago I never would’ve guessed that we’d be seeing the Vision so soon in Marvel Studios’ shared cinematic universe but seeing as the Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man both have their own movies now  I don’t think anything would surprise me.POP-Vision cape

I like the Vision but he’s never been a character I was ever really passionate about.  He always seemed a little boring to me but at least he looked cool.  He’s usually a yellow and green dude with a popped collar and a bright red face.  I have an action figure of him in his classic colors from Toy Biz’s animated Avengers line of the 90s.  It’s a pretty cool figure which I have yet to review (maybe after the movie comes out).   The figure I reviewed in 2012 for Avengers Week was a solid white figure which was based on Vision’s appearance in the 1989 story “Vision Quest”where he lost both his complexion and his personality.  This latest Vision figure that I picked up a couple of days ago showcases yet another color palette, this one based on his upcoming live-action appearance.

PPO-Vision sideI really like this new color scheme for Vision.  I find it looks more alien than it does super hero.  It gives him a creepy factor which I like.  He’s wearing a grey textured onesie and pink boots and gloves with some gold accents.  He also has a cape which is molded in a blend of translucent pink and gold plastic and features some nice microchip-like sculpted details.  The pink face is very evocative of his classic red face but the head gear is much more elaborate for the movie version.  The comic Vision appeared to have a skin tight hood on where as this Vision’s head gear looks much more cybernetic and functional.

I don’t know if this design will look as good on a 6″ Marvel Legends or 4″ Marvel Universe figure but I think it looks great on this vinyl figure from Funko.  I’m a big fan of their POP! figures and I have a small army of them adorning my desk at work.  I try to collect characters from a variety of properties for my POP! display.  I presently have DC comics characters, Masters of the Universe characters, and various movie and TV characters.  When I bought Vision and the Collector (Benico Del Toro’s character from Guardians of the Galaxy) the other day I didn’t realize that they were my first Marvel POP! figures.  Which is why I was rather surprised when I pulled them from their boxes and discovered they were bobble-heads.POP-Vision neck

None of my other POP! figurines are bobble-heads.  I was aware that for some reason certain POP! properties, such as Star Wars, were bobble-heads and I steered clear of them because  I don’t like bobble-heads.  All that bobbling gets on my nerves.  It never occurred to me that Vision might be a bobble-head when I purchased him because  I was thinking that I already owned at least one Marvel POP! figure but apparently I didn’t.  If I had the option to trade this figure in for a non-bobble version I most certainly would but that’s not an option and so I’m stuck with this wobbly annoyance.POP-Vision movie full

Vision is being played by Paul Bettany in the movie.  I’ve been a fan of Bettany’s ever since 2000’s Gangster No. 1.  He’s been the voice of Iron Man’s J.A.R.V.I.S. operating system in all 3 Iron Man movies and the first Avengers.  I wonder if there were always plans to turn Jarvis into the Vision or if it came about as an after thought.  Either way, I think it’s a great idea.  He’s one of the characters I’m most excited about seeing on the big screen this summer.

I wish I could attend a Thursday night showing on April 30 but I’m gonna be in Mexico for my buddy Miguel’s wedding that weekend.  So unless I’m willing to sit through a Spanish version I won’t get to see Avengers: Age of Ultron until 3 or 4 days after its release.  Don’t post any spoilers.  7 out of 10.

G.I. JOE CONVENTION 2015 NEWS

This was a big weekend for me.  On its surface it would appear to have been a pretty standard Mike weekend.  Friday I had some drinks at Vanessa’s and we watched the first 4 episodes of Netflix’s new Daredevil series (which is great so far), Saturday night my buddy Guy came over and we had some drinks and watched a Stone Temple Pilots concert on TV, and today I’m just lounging around reading comic books and probably watching more Daredevil.  All of that was fine but what made this such a big weekend is what was happening many miles away in Springfield, Illinois.  The town of Springfield played host to this year’s G.I. Joe Convention.  I’ve never been to a Joe Con myself but when one is going on I never venture too far from my computer as want to hear all the latest news as it breaks. And boy oh boy was there some exciting news this year.GI-Joe-Convention-2015-Logo-Hisstank

There are many toy news sites out there reporting on Joe Con so I’m not going to rehash what’s already out there but I’d like to quickly tell you about the product that was shown and give my 2 cents on it.

First off there’s the 15 figure convention box set.  This is my fourth consecutive year purchasing a set.  I’ve been very pleased with the Con sets every year and I’m sure this one will be no different.  The theme this year is Tiger-Force (a sub-team of G.I. Joe where everyone wears tiger-striped uniforms) vs Destro’s Iron Grenadiers.  Attendees got to pick up their sets this weekend but sadly, as a non-attendee, my set won’t be mailed out to me until June. I’ll post individual reviews of all the figures once my set arrives. Besides the box set there are always additional figures available at the Con that nobody knows about until they arrive on site (like 2012’s Darklon and Annihilator) .  These figures can get very expensive on the secondary market so I secretly hoped there would be no good ones.  This years attendee exclusives included:

2015-Helicopter crew

Helicopter Crew: Alpine, Frostbite, SkyStriker

Iron Grenadiers Air Assault Two pack (repainted 2012 Annihilators)
Tiger Force Helicopter Crew Three Pack (Frostbite, Alpine, and Sky Striker)
Tiger Hawk Helicopter (a repainted Tomahawk)
Tiger Shark w/ Felino (a repainted Moccasin with a repainted Brazilian Dusty)
Tiger Sting w/ Sgt Katzenbogen (repainted Vamp with repainted Bazooka)
Iron Anvil Officer w/ Parachute (a repaint of the Iron Anvil figure included in the 15 figure box set)
Kre-O Six Pack (based on characters from the box set)

That’s a whole lot of exclusives.  Fortunately none of them are on my “must-have” list.  It would be nice to get Felino and Sky Striker since those are characters I don’t already own but the one exclusive I would most like is Frostbite.  The original Frostbite came out in 1985 and he was a Joe I quite liked.  He’s presently the oldest vintage Joe figure who hasn’t gotten a modern-era remake.  He got a figure in 2009 but it looks nothing like the original so it hardly counts.  This Con exclusive finally gives us the bearded Frostbite that fans have been waiting for.  The only reason I haven’t shelled out $150 for him on ebay already is that this figure is based on his 1988 Tiger Force version 2.  It’s almost a certainty that the Club will later rerelease this figure in the 1985 white outfit which is the version I would prefer anyway so I’ll hold out for that.

The next big news came from Hasbro.  They revealed their continuing 50th anniversary releases for summer 2015. Here’s what’s coming:

2015-SDCC-Crimson-Strike-1024x328SDCC EXCLUSIVES (Available: July 2015)
G.I. JOE CRIMSON STRIKE: Features the Cobra Scythe jet (Skystriker repaint) and the G.I. Joe Chimera (HISS tank repaint). Includes Grunt, Steeler, A.V.A.C. & Alley Viper Office.
G.I. JOE DESERT DUEL:  Features the F.O.E. Striker (A.W.E. Striker) and the Cobra Basilisk (Snow Cat repaint). Includes Night Fox, Chuckles, Elite Horseman and Cobra Air Trooper.
TOYS “R” US EXCLUSIVES (Available: August 2015)
G.I. JOE DESERT DUEL: Features the F.O. E. Striker and the Cobra Basilisk. Includes Chuckles and the Elite Horseman.
G.I. JOE SILENT STRIKE: Features the G.I. Joe Skystriker, and the H.I.S.S. Tank. Includes Ace, Sightline, H.I.S.S. Gunner and Driver.
G.I. JOE 3-PACKS 2015-Sneak-Attack-3pk-1024x417
Chase for the MASS Device: Includes Duke, Cobra Commander, and Cobra Trooper.
Sneak Attack: Includes Bazooka, Firefly, and Dusty.
Vanishing Act: Includes Torpedo, Hit & Run, and Zartan.
Rock Rampage: Includes Alpine, Rock Viper, and Cobra Shock Trooper.
G.I. JOE 2-PACKS 
Marine Devastation: Includes Gung-Ho vs. Cobra Shadow Guard.
Hunt For Cobra Commander: Includes Shipwreck vs. Cobra Commander.
Classic Clash: Includes Spirit Iron-Knife vs. Storm Shadow.
Troop Build-Up: Includes Steel Brigade vs. Iron Grenadier.
Swamp Steam: Includes Blowtorch vs. Croc Master.

2015-Marine-DevastationThat’s a pretty impressive line up for a toy-line that seemed pretty much dead in the water again. Hopefully this push at retail can bring some attention back to the brand.  I’m excited about these toys and I’ll buy pretty much all of them but I would have liked to have seen some actual “new” product. Almost all of Hasbro’s summer figures and vehicles are repaints of stuff we already have and some of them are just straight re-issues. I’m most excited about the new Gung-Ho.; it was shown by Hasbro as a concept figure a few years back and we’re finally getting it.

B.A.T. and Old Snake

B.A.T. and Old Snake

Some other items of note from the Con is that G.I. Joe Kre-O is not dead and that more news on that line is coming and also the Transformers’ Collector’s Club revealed that they will release 3 G.I. Joe crossover toys this year; Marissa Fairborne (the daughter of Flint and Lady Jaye) A Stealth B.A.T. ( a repainted drone Soundwave) and Old Snake (Cobra Commander’s alter ego from his one-time cameo appearance in the Transformers cartoon).  I’m pretty excited about Old Snake.

And finally, the last bit of big news from the Con was the Collector’s Club panel where they revealed their 2016 plans.  I’m very excited about next years Club figures.

2015-pythona

 

The free  figure that you get for being a Club member in 2016 is none other than Pythona.  Many fans like myself have been wanting this figure ever since she first appeared and played a key role in the 1987 animated Joe movie. There has never been a figure of this character and I could not be more pleased with this announcement.

2015-HeartwrencherAnother upcoming figure I’m excited about is Heartwrencher.  She was a female Dreadnok character that was introduced in the Joe comics published by Devil’s Due before IDW took over the license.  I imagine she’ll be made using many of the same parts used for Zarana and Zanya.  I’m fine with that but hopefully she gets a brand new head sculpt.  I love me some punk rock biker chicks so she’ll be a welcome addition to the collection.

And then there’s the 12 figure line-up for the Club’s Figure Subscription Service 4.0.  I think this may be the best line-up yet.

 

2015-BarricadeFirst up is Barricade.  This is a character I’m not very familiar with.  The first Barricade figure came out in 1992 after I had quit collecting Joes as a kid.  Second and third versions came out in 1993 and 2004.  I don’t have any of them.  But he’s a character we haven’t seen in the modern-era yet and he looks like Robocop with his helmet on so I’m looking forward to this guy.

2015-BillyNext up is Billy.  This is another figure that is long overdue.  Billy is the son of Cobra Commander.  he was introduced in the Joe comics as an adolescent back in the 80s.  Over the years he studied with Storm Shadow to become a martial arts master and a key character to the Joe mythology.  He was nearly killed by Scrap Iron at one point and he lost an eye and a leg.  I hope the upcoming figure has an eye patch and a prosthetic.

2015-BullhornThen there’s Bullhorn.  A Native American Joe first included in the 1990 series of figures.  I didn’t have that figure when I was a kid but my little brother did and I inherited it from him when he grew out of it.  Bullhorn is a unique looking character with a unique specialty, he’s the Joe team’s intervention specialist.  I don’t know a ton about this guy but he’s another character appearing in the modern style for the first time and I’ll be happy to have him.

2015-InterrogatorNext up is Interrogator.  The aptly named Cobra interrogator. He first showed up in ’91 and then again in ’93.  I never got my first version of him until 2006’s version 3.  He’s a great looking character with a classic Cobra vibe.  They could’ve easily made him a new version of Cobra Commander instead of a new character but I’m glad they didn’t. I think this is one of the coolest looking “name” Cobra characters and I bet he’ll look amazing in the modern style.

2015-LawAnd then there’s Law & Order.  This is the first character of the seven I’ve talked about thus far of whom we already have a modern-era figure. As a guy that prefers new characters over countless repaints I’d say thats pretty awesome. But as far as repaints go Law is a character that I’m glad to see re-done.  I loved the original Law figure from 1987 which is why I was very disappointed with the 2009 modern version of the character which took all of his iconic design elements and threw them out the window.  The 2011 figure was a big improvement but it still didn’t fee like Law to me. Both figures were too drab.  I want a classically colored Law with a red shirt and a blue vest and I think that’s what we’re gonna get. 2015-Inferno bat

Then there’s the Cobra Inferno BAT.  The first Inferno BAT was an online exclusive figure released in 2003.  It was a translucent orange version of the 1991 BAT figure. It was a neat looking figure but not one I ever bothered to seek out.  I doubt the club will create new parts for this figure.  They’ll likely just take the existing modern BAT figure and cast it in translucent orange plastic. It’s a relatively simple repaint but I think it will look fantastic. I already have multiple BAT variations and a clear orange one will look great with the others.

2015-nunchuckNext up is Nunchuck. The Club could go one of two ways with this.  In the 90s Nunchuck wore a traditional looking ninja outfit with a green and black striped camo pattern.  In the 2000s he wore baggy pants, bare feet and body paint.  I don’t have any real fondness for this character one way or the other though I think I would prefer the masked ninja version.  This is another character who has never been done in the modern-era and I think he’ll look good displayed with his fellow Ninja Force members who have been slowly trickling out.2015-nightcreeper4

Then there’s the Night Creeper Ice Ninja.  I just reviewed 1990’s Night Creeper version 1 earlier this week.  And then I reviewed the horribly re-designed version 3.  Well Hasbro corrected their design flub on the Cobra ninja and went back to the original look for 1998’s version 4.  That version was included in an arctic themed pack so it was painted all white and blue. I really liked the arctic design so I’m glad to hear its making a return in the modern-era.

2015-PathfinderThe Joe team’s Jungle Assault Specialist comes next.  Pathfinder was first released in 1990.  I didn’t own that figure as a kid but I have it now and I really like it.  It has a good paint deco, some cool accessories (a weed whacker) and lots of personality.  Pathfinder hasn’t been seen since 2001 so it’s good to see him get a modern-era update.

2015-JammerThe next FSS 4.0 inclusion is the one figure I’m not very excited about, Jammer.  The original 1984 Jammer was a European variant of the 1982 Stalker figure.  All Palitoy did to differentiate him from Hasbro’s Stalker was paint his hat red and paint a red logo on his chest.  Most times I’m thrilled when the Club gives us these international repaints like Bombardier or Quarrel but in this case the figure just wasn’t different enough.  I’m hoping the Club surprises me here but my expectations are low.

2015-OutbackThen there’s Tiger Force Outback.  The Joe team’s Survival Training Instructor never made it onto Tiger Force in America but in 1990 a Tiger Force Outback was produced in the UK.  That figure is sought after by collector’s because of a couple of unique design elements.  He has an over-the-top orange shirt with a roaring tiger’s face on it and for some reason they gave him white hair.  it’s a drastic change from the gingery Outback we all know and love.  I’m looking forward to seeing how the Club reimagines this look on a modern era figure.

2015-SneakpeekAnd last, but certainly not least, is Tiger Force Sneak Peak.  SP is one of my favorite Joes.  I have been patiently waiting for a Sneak Peak update since version 1 came out in 1987.  He got a Night Force repaint in ’88 that I never knew about because it was a store exclusive and the only other version of him out there is a UK Tiger Force repaint from ’91.  There hasn’t been a Sneak Peak since. I’m so happy to finally be able to add him to my modern-era collection.  I would prefer to be getting an ’87 inspired red and grey Sneak Peak but the Tiger Force outfit looks pretty cool too and I know it will eventually lead to a v1 repaint at some point down the road.

So that’s what you can expect in 2015 and 2016.  I hope you found as much to get excited about as I did. Yo Joe.

 

 

NIGHT CREEPER v.3 (1994)

Joe-Night Creeper v3 fullG. I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO

In my last post I reviewed 1990’s Night Creeper version 1; a pretty rad figure.  What a difference three years can make.  This abomination is 1994’s Night Creeper version 3.

Night Creeper was the last ninja to be added to the G.I. Joe toyline while it was still intended to primarily be a military brand.  1991 was ninja free (except for a new version of Snake Eyes) but the ninja s**t hit the fan in 1992 and 1993 with the introduction of the sub-team Ninja Force.  Not only were new ninjas like Slice, Dice, and Banzai added to the line-up but established characters like Firefly, Scarlett, and Zartan became full-blown ninjas as well.  (92/93 also featured the following sub-teams: Mega Marines, Drug Elimination Force,  Star Brigade, Street Fighters, Eco-Warriors and Dino-Figthers…the days of the modern military man were over).

I had stopped collecting Joes by that point but my little brother Brian was just getting started collecting so I was aware of what was going on.  I didn’t like the over-abundance of ninjas.  I felt it diminished the uniqueness of Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow and watered down the brand’s military theme.  Plus the ninja figures featured “real ninja action” which meant they karate chopped when you pressed their legs together or kicked when you lifted their arm or something like that.  Generally I hate built-in play features.  It was a kitschy novelty for toylines like DC’s Super Powers Collection but it doesn’t belong in G.I. Joes in my opinion.Joe-Night Creeper v3 back

The Night Creeper got a weird redesign in 1993.  He went from High-Tech Ninja to Battlestar Gallactica reject.  The body was really dull and lacking in detail and the head looked completely alien.  He would have looked more at home displayed with my Micro-Nauts figures than with my Joes.  The blue and purple paint deco was ugly and his baby blue weapons were also pretty lame.  On top of all that Night Creeper version 2 had a useless”Banzai Bash” attack.

But just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse Hasbro re-released Night Creeper version 2 one year later in a god-awful pink and milky-clear color scheme.   The reason for the translucency is because the figure was now part of a group of Shadow-Ninjas that had a color change feature, allowing them to turn “invisible” when put in warm water.  This figure is ugly as f**k.  It’s the perfect storm of a horrible sculpt and the worse color palette I can imagine. It’s far worse than the Bushido Shadow Ninja I reviewed a while back.

Joe-Night Creeper v3 face

I don’t remember where I got this god-forsaken figure.  I don’t think it was Brian’s because all of the fingers and thumbs are broken off and we Hyland boys took better care of our toys than that.  At some point though this thing found its way into my collection.  I can’t find a single redeeming quality about it.  This may be the worst toy I own.  0 out of 10.

NIGHT CREEPER v1 (1990)

Joe-Night Creeper v1 fullG. I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO

It’s not often that I get requests for reviews on my site but when I do I try to oblige promptly.  A regular reader asked me to review a Night Creeper figure a while back and it kinda slipped my mind.  He reminded me the other day and so I thought I’d better do it next before I forget again.  My first instinct was to grab one of my two modern-era Night Creepers (versions 11 or 12) because they’re displayed on a shelf right next to my computer desk.  But I’ve been reviewing lots of modern-era figures lately so I decided to go old school today and review the Night Creeper that started it all; 1990’s version 1.

1990 was the year I quit collecting G.I. Joe figures as a kid.  I ‘d been collecting since the Real American Hero (RAH) line launched in 1982 when I was just 4 years old.  In 1990 I was 12 and both my brother Doug and I only got one Joe figure each that year.  He got the Iron Grenadier frogman, Undertow, and I got the Joe Shoreline Defender, Rampart.  I remember thinking that the Night Creeper was a pretty cool looking figure but we had decided to quit collecting that year and thats what we did. I can’t recall why we quit so suddenly.  It’s not like we had lost interest in playing with toys because I remember having many battles with Rampart playing a crucial role.  Whatever the reason, after 8 years of working towards a complete collection, we threw in the towel and I did not acquire a Night Creeper.  My little brother Brian did get one though and I’m pretty sure that I eventually got his.  There are presently two in my collection and I think the broken one was Brian’s.   The other one came to me in last summer’s EPIC HAUL.Joe-Night Creeper v1 face

Not only had I quit collecting Joe figures by 1990 but Doug and I had stopped collecting G.I. Joe comics as well.  The Night Creepers appeared in the comics quite a few times, first appearing in issue 107 that year, but Doug and I stopped buying at issue 100 so I never read any of those Night Creeper stories until years later. They also appeared in the Joe cartoon produced by DIC but Doug and I stopped watching Joe cartoons after Sunbow’s series wrapped with the 1987 animated movie. In the case of the cartoon though I don’t think the DIC episodes ever aired in my area.  I never found out about them until several years later.

For all of those reasons I don’t have the same nostalgic ties to the Night Creeper that I do with most Joe figures produced before 1990.  None the less, it’s a really cool figure and I’m glad I have him now.

Joe-Night Creeper v1 backThe Night Creepers are a syndicate of High-Tech Ninjas who work under contract for Cobra.  They were nameless faceless troopers much like the Cobra blue-shirts with the exception of their leader, who was first released as an individual figure in 1993.

The design of the original Creeper is quite unique and cool.  It’s got a narrow visor to cover the eyes, kind of like Cyclops from the X-Men, and an Arabian keffiyeh  wrapped around his head.  There are 3 armour plates on the torso which look like they’d be effective against some weapons but would still allow for lots of mobility. And then there’s the color scheme.  This purple outfit makes about as much sense for a ninja as the Alley Viper’s bright orange uniform did as urban camouflage. The Night Creeper is painted in two different shades of purple with shimmery silver highlights and he’s got a pair of pants that wouldn’t help him blend in anywhere.  Perhaps they wear this to show off just how stealthy they are.  You gotta figure if a guy can break into a building an assassinate someone in this attire without being seen then he’s gotta be good.

For accessories the Night Creeper came with a purple backpack which can hold a sword on it’s side, 2 weirdly jagged swords, and a crossbow.  I don’t have either of the swords with mine.

I really like this toy and I’m sure that if I owned it as a kid this guy would’ve kicked a lot of ass.  I think the look translated quite well into a modern-era figure too as you can see in the pic below.   Night Creeper version 1 came out just before the Joe line got bogged down with ninjas and gimmicks.  Later versions of this character weren’t so lucky.  I also own 1994’s version 3 and it is an atrocity.  Perhaps I’ll share that one with you next.  8 out of 10.Joe-Night Creeper v1 compare

POWERGLIDE (2015)

TF-Powerglide fullTRANSFORMERS: COMBINER WARS

 

When I was a kid some of my favorite Transformers were the smallest and simplest ones. For example, my favorite all-time Transformer is Gears, as is evidenced by my multiple reviews of him (review 1, review 2, review 3). Cosmos, Cliffjumper, Huffer, and Windcharger were also favorites of mine. My brother Doug’s favorite minis were Bumblebee, Warpath, Seaspray, and Powerglide. The reason that all those characters were so pint-sized and cute when compared to larger figures like Starscream and Optimus Prime is because they were originally part of a completely different Japanese toyline. The mini vehicles were from a line called Micro Change while the larger figures were originally Diaclones.TF-Powerglide minis

 

 

One thing I found very appealing about the mini  figures was that they were so easy to transform. Two or three quick flips would take you from vehicle mode to robot mode and back again. A negative side effect to those simple transformations however was that the figures were not very posable. Most Transformers weren’t very flexible back in the day but the little ones were particularly rigid. The original 1985 Powerglide is a good example. He was cursed with a dreadful case of uni-leg, that thing when your legs are fused together into a solid stump of plastic. At least he had elbow joints and a swivel neck which were extremely rare for an 80s Transformer toy his size. I still think the ‘85 Powerglide is a neat figure, it oozes nostalgia and it’s totally adorable, but it’s pretty far from what I would consider “cool”.

TF-Powerglide back

Hasbro released an updated Powerglide in 2008 and I considered picking it up because he’s one of those classic characters that I wanted a modern version of. They updated Seaspray around the same time. The problem with those figures is that, even though they were “cooler”, they were too far removed from the originals. Both were much larger and more detailed than their vintage counterparts but Powerglide wasn’t the right color and Seaspray’s face looked nothing like the original’s. I passed on both of them. I ended up paying a ridiculous price for an unofficial, third-party produced, Seaspray as a means to have a modern version of the character on my shelf that retained the classic look. I figured I’d have to do the same for Powerglide if I wanted an appropriately-sized, red and grey version of him in my modern Transformers collection. Multiple third-party companies produced awesome versions of Powerglide that met all my criteria but they were so damn expensive that I held off on buying any.

2008 Powerglide

2008 Powerglide

I’m glad I waited because Hasbro has finally produced an updated Powerglide of their own.  I think some of the third party ones were superior but this is a still a very good figure. It’s small, red and grey, and it has all of the iconic Powerglide design elements such as the nosecone shaped head and the upward pointing wings on the shoulders. The icing on the cake is that he’s fully articulated. Powerglide can finally kick.

Third Party Powerglide

Third Party Powerglide

This little fella is brand new and is included in wave 2 of the Combiner Wars series. I got Doug hooked on Transformers again for the first time in nearly 30 years when I showed him my wave 1 Combiner Wars figures. He bought up all of wave 1 a week or so ago and then began the hunt for wave 2. He emailed me on Tuesday to say he found wave 2 at the Walmart by his work. I made the trek over to Dartmouth as soon as I could but the wave 2 figures were completely gone by the time I got there with the exception of Powerglide.TF-Poweglide kick

Powerglide himself was never a member of a combiner team before and even now he doesn’t merge with anyone to form a larger robot but Hasbro has cleverly added a neat little gimmick to tie him into the popular subseries. Besides transforming into at jet he also has a third mode that makes him into a double barrelled shotgun that can be wielded by Superion or one of the other Combiner giants. The gun mode is pretty lackluster in design but I think it’s a cool option to have. My Powerglide will be displayed in his robot form anyway so his other modes don’t concern me too much. I will say that the airplane mode is quite nice and very reminiscent of the original.TF-Powerglide plane

 

 

This Powerglide isn’t perfect (I find his head too small) but it’s pretty darn good and for $12 who can complain. 7 out of 10.

My Powerglide collection

My Powerglide collection

MAGNETO (2012)

Marv-Magneto fullMARVEL UNIVERSE

When my brother Doug and I were kids we collected everything jointly. However, that doesn’t mean we shared our stuff in a “what’s mine is yours” kind of way. We clearly had our own things which we kept apart.  We each had our own toy boxes, lego bins, and figure drawers.  With comics we alphabetized our collections on separate bookshelves on opposite sides of the bedroom.  I collected books like Spider-Man and Silver Surfer and he collected books like the X-Men and Captain America.  We always read each other’s books before filing them away in our own respective collections.  So back in those days I was well versed in the X-Men corner of the Marvel Universe because Doug collected X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, X-Factor, Excalibur, Wolverine and all the various mini-series’ that spun out of them.

Marv-Magneto art

But we haven’t lived together or had easy access to each others collections since I was in high school.  Thusly, I’ve been out of the X-Men loop for quite some time. I have a vague idea of what’s going on in the X-books  but every now and again something weird happens like “Jubilee becomes a vampire” or “Beast has a secondary mutation and turns into a cat” or “the original 5 teenage X-Men time travel from the past and now reside with their adult selves” and I have absolutely no idea how we got to that point.  The X-Men books have seemingly become such a continuity nightmare that I don’t think I could ever find the patience to dive back into them. There are only a half dozen X-Men movies and they can’t keep things straight so just imagine what the comic universe looks like after thousands of stories have been told. Yet, while I keep the modern X-Men at arm’s length I still think fondly of the X-Men comics of the late 1980s when I knew them well.

Marv-Magneto back

Back in the good ol’ days Sabretooth and Wolverine were meeting in battle for the first time, Cypher and Warlock of the New Mutants were two separate people, Psylocke was a sweet and innocent new addition to the Xavier school, Rusty and Skids were a happy couple, and Dazzler went from an outdated disco diva to my favorite Marvel mutant. Another thing I liked from those days was that Magneto was a good guy. He had been the X-Men’s primary villain since 1963 but by the time Doug and I started reading X-Men in 1986 he was the headmaster of Xavier’s school for gifted youngsters. He had stopped wearing his signature red tights and bucket helmet and made the switch to a much comfier looking baggy purple outfit with snazzy white boots.

version 1

version 1

This figure showcases Magneto in all his 1980s good guy glory.  It’s the third Magneto figure released as part of Hasbro’s 3 ¾” Marvel Universe line. The first Magneto was included in a Secret Wars themed 2-pack along with a black suited Spider-Man in 2009. It featured the master of magnetism in his iconic red tights and helmet. It was a good figure but not one I picked up because I hadn’t fully committed to collecting this toyline at that point. Plus I already had a black Spidey and didn’t feel the need to add a second one to my burgeoning MU collection.

An individually carded Magneto was released in 2011 which featured him in the dark purple and black uniform that he wears in the alternate reality known as the Ultimate Universe.  I would’ve been happy to add an Ultimate Magneto to my collection but Hasbro made an ill-conceived decision to paint his face grey to emulate the shadows cast by his helmet. It looked dumb and the figure was an easy pass.

Version 2

Version 2

This third Magneto was released in another comic themed 2-pack in 2012; this time with Captain America. As was the case with the first Magneto figure I didn’t want or need his pack mate but this time I didn’t let that stop me. I had fully committed to collecting this toyline by then, I wanted a Magneto, and this one was too good to pass up.

Not to say this is an amazing action figure necessarily but it does capture a moment in time that I care deeply about; the time when I first discovered the wonderful world of comics. The way characters were portrayed back then is how I still view them today so Magneto is still mainly a good guy in my mind; no matter what atrocities he’s committed since the 80s. So this purple blouse wearing Magneto with the feathered hair is my favorite version of the character even though he only sported this look for a short while in his long history.Marv-Magneto float

The figure itself is pretty good. I find the scrawnier figures like Spider-Man usually suck at this scale while the bulkier figures like the Hulk look great. Middle sized figures like Magneto here tend to fall somewhere in between the two quality-wise. The sculpt is good and the articulation is decent, meaning that there are plenty of joints as we’ve come to expect from this line and yet it can be difficult to pose him dynamically. The paint job is a little boring but that’s not the fault of Hasbro since this is a minimalistic costume by Marvel’s design.

The cape has some really nice sculpted folds and wrinkles but I find it a little too long. The fact that the cape hangs past his feet can make it difficult to stand him up at times but when you lean him against something you can use it to create the illusion that he’s using his magnetic powers to levitate which is kind of neat. 6 out of 10.