Monthly Archives: December 2015

TOP 15 ACTION FIGURES OF 2015

As 2015 comes to an end it’s time for my annual “best of” list.  It’s hard to believe that this is my fourth year-end list and even harder to believe that since I started this blog I’ve reviewed over 800 action figures (and I’ve still barely scratched the surface of my collection!).  Thanks to all of you who have been loyal readers and thanks to those of you checking it out for the first time, I hope you come back.  Now, Before I begin the list let me clearly state that this list features the 15 BEST ACTION FIGURES I COLLECTED IN 2015.  I am not saying these are the best 15 action figures released this year, just the best ones I managed to get my hands on.  In order to qualify for my list the figure must have been released in 2015.  I’ve gotten some great action figures this year that don’t qualify because they were originally released prior to 2015.  Now that the criteria has been clearly stated hopefully any nerd rage will be quelled.  I don’t need anyone calling me an idiot because I didn’t name the Hot Toys Hulkbuster Iron Man the best toy of the year (I know it’s awesome but its also $800 and I don’t have one).  So let’s get started…

2015-Cardinus15. Cardinus– This is a figure from the Gothitropolis line by Four Horsemen Toy Design Studios.  It’s a completely original toyline by the sculptors extraordinaire made famous for their work on Spawn, DC, and Masters of the Universe.  At present I don’t have a link to a review of Cardinus but you can check out my review of another figure from the line, Eagalus. All the Gothitropolis figures share the exact same body and they come with the same staff as an accessory.  The only differences between them are a uniquely sculpted head and a paint job specific to each bird species.  I raved on about the intricacies of the sculpting in my Eagalus review so I won’t dwell on it again here but the armour is spectacular.  Both Eagalus and Cardinus have amazing head sculpts that look very life-like.  Either could have made the list but Cardinus edges Eagalus out due to the beautifully regal paint job. Cardinus features a black and gold paint scheme which looks fantastic against his crimson red feathers.  I could totally display Cardinus with my Masters of the Universe collection or any other fantasy figures.  Eagalus’s obnoxious American paint job makes him seem more like a novelty item than a fantasy figure.  This is an amazing figure and I wish I could afford to collect the entire line .

 

2015-First Aid14. First Aid– This figure makes the list primarily because I happen to love the character but it’s also a great toy.  The original First Aid figure from 1986 was one of my favourite vintage Transformers and I’ve always regretted getting rid of it. First Aid’s portrayal in IDW’s Transformers comics in recent years have only made me like him even more.  For years I’ve been hoping that Hasbro would release a new version of him and this year they finally did.  There’s nothing particularly spectacular about the actual figure. The sculpting, paint, accessories, and articulation are on par with just about every other Transformer that came out this year under the “Combiner Wars” banner but that’s not a bad thing because those things were done well on all the figures.  Almost any one of the combiner-bots could have made this list (i.e. Breakdown, Alpha Bravo) but due to my personal affection for First Aid he gets the shout out.

 

 

2015-Jaws13. Jaws–  I love the movie Jaws.  Love it.  When I was a kid that shark scared the crap out of me and fascinated me at the same time, it still does.  I have yet to see a movie shark even come close to being as terrifying as the original Jaws.  I was so stoked to get a Jaws action figure this year courtesy of Funko’s ReAction line.  The retro style of the line was perfectly suited for the task of giving fans the first ever Jaws action figure line.  The 3 human characters are awesome but its the shark that steals the show.  I could’ve easily named this my number one action figure of the year but due to its lack of articulation it didn’t seem fair.  This toy belongs in every bathtub around the world.

2015-He-Man

 

12. Snake-Armor He-Man-This is another figure that I haven’t yet reviewed so there’s no link available yet.  I had every intention of reviewing all my list candidates by years end but I got busy/lazy.  When I was a kid I had a bunch of Masters of the Universe figures including the main hero, He-Man.  He was always my least favourite of the bunch. He was so uninteresting when compared to guys like Buzz-Off and Mer-Man.  It wasn’t until the 2002 MOTU reboot that I actually liked He-Man.  The ’02 cartoon and toy line featured anime inspired designs which I thought did wonders to up He-Man’s cool factor. When the Classics line kicked off in 2008/2009 He-Man reverted back to his boring old bowl-cut self. Multiple re-releases (Thunder Punch, Battle Armour) didn’t help. Finally, in 2015 Mattel has given us this Classics He-Man in the 2002 style, and that didn’t simply mean a new head sculpt, they decked him out in his snake armour which was heavily featured in season 2 of the animated series.  The armour features great sculpting and paint work but it’s the shaggy hair that really wins me over.

2015-Wonder Woman11. Wonder Woman-No link here either folks but thats because I just got this figure the other day.  I didn’t buy many DC figures this year.  The only one I requested for Christmas was Superman from the designer series based on Jae Lee’s artwork.  I’m a big fan of Jae Lee’s work but of the 4 figures in his designer series Superman was the only one that appealed to me based on the images I saw online.  The Batman kinda sucked and the Catwoman was too similar to the Greg Capullo Catwoman that made my list last year. The Wonder Woman looked good but I already have what I feel is the best Wonder Woman figure ever made (DC Direct-2007) so why buy a lesser one?  Well I was checking out Giant Robot Comics’ boxing day sale the other day and saw the Jae Lee Wonder Woman figure “in-person” for the first time.  The sculpting and paint work were so good that I couldn’t resist buying it. I don’t think it’s better than the 2007 figure but this toy is a work of art and had I passed it up I know I’d be kicking myself for years to come.

 

10. Otachi– I just reviewed this figure the other day so I don’t have much to add at the moment.  This figure is big, has great sculpting, great paint apps, and good articulation.  Most important of all it’s a big monster.  I love big monsters. I have a lot of big monster toys in my collection but few of them are designed as well as this figure.  I’m still pissed about the price and the lack of wings but I didn’t buy anything else even remotely like Otachi this year.  He’s a unique looking piece in my collection and he’s a joy to look at.2015-Otachi

 

 

2015-Kylo Ren29. Kylo Ren– I just reviewed this figure the other day as well.  This was a tough call because I got quite a few excellent 6″ Star Wars Black Series figures this year and I wasn’t sure who was going to make the cut.  Captain Phasma is pretty rad looking and the First Order Storm Trooper is awesome too.  For Christmas Vanessa got me a 4-pack of figures which included a red classic Storm Trooper that I absolutely love and he very nearly dethroned Kylo from this list (as I write this I realize he probably should have. Sorry, Honey). Kylo held his spot though because he was such a compelling character in the movie and because this figure is made up of all new parts including plastic and cloth blended together wonderfully. The standard white Storm Trooper ranked number six on my list last year and it would have seemed a bit lazy to award essentially the same figure again this year.2015-Calix

8. Calix-This is a great figure that I’ve been meaning to review for months.  It’s one of the six figures included in Mattel’s MOTU Classics mini-subscription based on the 2002 cartoon I mentioned above in my He-Man write up.  Over the past 7 years a handful of 2002-inspired characters have found their way into the main Classics line but they’re few and far between. A whole subscription devoted to them is something fans of that era (like myself) have been clamouring for. I have three of the mini-sub figures in hand at present and they’re all great.  I expect to have the last three this week or next and they all look great too; there isn’t a dud in the bunch.  Any or all of them could have made this list but I narrowed it down to one and I went with Calix.  This guy is a member of the Evil Horde and he appeared ever so briefly in one episode before getting destroyed.  It’s a shame this guy was created as a throwaway character because he is awesome.  I hope he gets a second chance at greatness in the comics or maybe even a future animated series.  He’s a dude made of rock, which is nothing new for MOTU, but this guy is WAY cooler than those geeks Stondar and Rokkon.  The newly sculpted pieces are fantastic and they do a great job of hiding the fact that this figure is primarily made up of the standard Classics body.  The paint work is subtle but really brings out the details of the sculpt.  I love the stone beard.  I love the axe/crossbow. I love this figure.2015-Frostbite

 

7. Frostbite– A lot of people online like to hate on the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club.  I get that they’ve screwed up a few things (like losing members’ credit card information) but how anyone can stay mad at them when they produce figures like this is beyond me.  They gave us so much gold this year from the Figure Subscription Service (Spearhead was a contender) and the Convention set (Wreckage was a contender) to the Free Membership figure (Dr. Mindbender was a contender) and the online store exclusives (Old Snake was a contender).  Frostbite was the mystery 13th figure that shipped with the final FSS 3.0 shipment this year.  It wasn’t much of a surprise but it was a figure everyone was happy to receive.  Frostbite is a classic character that desperately needed a modern-era makeover and the Club did not disappoint here. The Frankensteined body looks good but what really elevates this figure to another level is the new head and collar by Boss Fight Studios. Frostbite has never looked so good.

 

 

 

2015-Marauder6. Marauder Task Force– Speaking of Boss Fight Studios, I was really hoping to have their first ever original toyline, Vitruvian Hacks, in hand by the end of the year.  I bought into their kickstarter campaign in June 2014 and the figures were expected to be delivered in February 2015.  No such luck. The figures are going to be more than a year late but they look spectacular and I’m sure you’ll see some on next year’s list.  One of the reasons for the delay is because the production factory in China got held up making these figures, the Marauder Task Force (MTF).  This is another original toyline funded by a kickstarter campaign courtesy of Marauder Gun Runners who actually hired Boss Fight Studios to do the sculpting.  The concept behind the line is completely customizable military action figures. The base figures are all the same but you can buy a variety of guns and accessories from Marauder’s website.  I ordered the base figure in all 8 color varieties: red, blue, green, black, arctic, desert, urban and jungle camo. You can mix and match all the parts right down to the pouches on their sleeves and the logos on their helemts.  There are literally hundreds (probably thousands) of parts combinations.  No one figure is better than another so this slot belongs to the whole line in general.  Do yourself a favour and order some of these guys.  Four new color variations were just stocked (mine are in the mail).2015-Hobgoblin

5.  Hobgoblin– Here we go, top five.  The fifth spot on my list belongs to the Hobgoblin.  This is a Marvel Legends build-a-figure meaning you had to buy six different Marvel Legends figures to get all the parts to build this guy. I didn’t mind the concept back when the build-a-figures were giant figures but it kind of pisses me off now that build-a-figures are no bigger than the standard releases.  Despite the hoops I had to jump through to get this guy I am very happy to have him completed.  This is my favourite Marvel Legends figure to date.  Not only is Hobby one of Spidey’s all-time great villains, this is a version of him we’ve never seen in action figure form before (Phil Urich) and it’s faithful to Humberto Ramos’s artwork which I love.  The sculpt is perfect, he’s got great accessories, he’s well articulated, and he’s just fun to look at.  He’s bright and bold and I would think any kid would love to have him.

2015-Gung Ho4. Gung Ho– This guy was never one of my favourite Joes.  Partly because Doug owned both the 1983 and ’87 versions when we were kids.  Despite my lack of personal attachment to Gung Ho he is one of the most recognizable faces on the team.  His importance was evidenced by his inclusion in the Joe 5-pack that launched the modern-era in 2007 along with key characters Duke, Snake Eyes, Scarlet, and Roadblock. In the 8 years since that pack came out 27 more Dukes have been released, 40 more Snake Eyes’, 6 more Scarlets, and 8 more Roadblocks.  This is only Gung Ho’s third and he didn’t get any new parts in last two.  The 2007 Gung Ho and it’s two subsequent repaints are extremely dated and they did not do justice to the Joe team’s original Marine.  In 2015 we finally got a Gung Ho we can be proud off. This figure was released as part of Hasbro’s 50th anniversary line and it is both a beauty and a beast.  It’s beastly in its size and manliness and it’s beautifully rendered.  This figure looks more like Gung Ho than any figure ever before released including the original Gung Ho.  The stache is epic, the chest tat is massive, the arms are thick, and the uniform is seafoam.  To top it off he has a gigantic SAW heavy machine gun with matching seafoam bullets.2015-Machine Man

 

3. Machine Man-If Hobgoblin is my favourite Marvel Legends figure how is this guy higher than him on the list?  I don’t know.  It must be the power of Jack Kirby.  This figure isn’t necessarily based on his creator’s artwork but it sure looks as though the sculptor was referencing some Kirby drawings when creating this head sculpt.  I love everything about this figure from the sculpting to the shimmery purple paint job to the telescoping Inspector Gadget arms.  It’s perfect in its simplicity.

2. Devestator– In a year where every Transformer released is a member of a combiner team I had to put a combiner on the list.  Defensor and Superion would have been contenders had Hasbro not released this behemoth this past fall.  Devestator towers over the other combiners.  They seemed so impressive at first but they look like children in Devestator’s shadow.  I have some issues with the individual Constructicons that make up Devestator but for the most part I’m even impressed with them.  As a whole Devestator is near perfect.  He’s still a bit wobbly but he’s much better than the original.  This toy has everything you’d want in a Devestator; he ‘s big, he’s green and purple,  and he’s cartoon/comic book accurate.  I’ve been wishing for this figure for decades but never did I expect to receive something as impressive as this.  This toy is boss.2015-Devestator

2015-Bombstrike1.Bombstrike– I tried to curb any nerd rage in my opening paragraph but I’m aware this may illicit some.  In a year filled with stellar Transformers and Star Wars figures, a year where Marvel Legends are at the top of their game and a year where Funko further established itself with a wealth of Pop!, ReAction and Legacy figures, you might be wondering how could some chick you’ve never heard of top this list?  To be honest I didn’t know Bombstrike was going to top the list until I started ranking the figures I had selected earlier today.  I always knew Bomstrike would make my year-end list but even I didn’t know I liked her this much.  I laid the figures out in front of me and, after painfully eliminating great toys like POP Godzilla and Shanna the She-Devil, I began ranking the final 15. As I went, Bombstrike kept getting shoved up the ranks and this is where she ended up.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised because I’ve been a big fan of this character ever since version 1 was released in 2005.  The sibling rivalry storyline hinted at in the file cards of her and her brothers (Barrel Roll and Black Out) made for some interesting play scenarios that I would’ve loved as a kid.  As much as I cherish the classic Joe characters I think the brand needs some fresh blood every once and a while to stay interesting and relevant.  The Stall siblings were exactly what the brand needed and I was really disappointed to see them swept under the rug when the new-sculpt era came to a close in 2006.  When The brothers were resurrected in the Collector Club’s first Figure Subscription Service I knew Bombstrike was likely to follow in FSS 2.0.  It took a year longer than expected but in 2015 she arrived and she totally lived up to my expectations even after 10 years of anticipation.  This figure is feminine, petite and cute but she’s ready for combat. She’s camouflaged, she’s armoured, and she’s packing multiple firearms, a computer, and a drone.  I love the character, I love the toy.  What’s not to like?

2015 group

 

STALKER v.21 (2015)

Joe-Stalker v21 fullG. I. JOE

Merry Christmas gang!  I hope you all had an excellent holiday.  Mine was quite good.  I spent a few days at home with the family, my little brother was visiting from New York, my lovely Vanessa returned home from her family Christmas earlier than expected, and lots of presents were exchanged.  Between Vanessa, my brother Doug, and Santa, I ended up with a nice little haul of action figures to tell you about. But before I get to those I’m going to post a review I wrote a week ago…

A couple of months ago I reviewed Sabretooth from the 2015 Joe Con box set titled “Tiger Force vs Iron Grenadiers”. I’ll get to the Grenadiers in due time but today I want to take a look at another one of the Tiger Force crew; Stalker.

Stalker is one of the original 13 Joes from 1982 and one of the first figures I ever owned. Of the original 13 line-up I had Snake-Eyes, Short-Fuze, and Stalker. That’s it.  Doug owned the other ten. It seems a little unfair in retrospect but I didn’t mind at the time because I felt I had the cooler figures.Joe-Stalker v21 back

Short-Fuze’s coolness  is debatable because he was just another guy in a plain green suit like almost all of Doug’s ten figures (the exception being Scarlet) but because he was the only plain green guy I owned he felt special to me.  Snake Eyes was undeniably cool for obvious reasons, he was a masked Commando with an Uzi dressed all in black.  What made Stalker cool was his uniqueness.   Amongst a squad of white guys in olive uniforms who shared the same three faces Stalker was an African American with a unique head sculpt and distinct uniform.  He was the only guy with a moustache, the only guy with a beret, and the only guy wearing camouflage. He had a pretty bitch’n submachine gun too. The original 1982 Stalker was a fantastic figure.

A second Stalker came out in 1989. That time around he was wearing arctic gear and a tuque and he came packaged with a kayak. It was a cool update but since he was a character I already owned and I was moving on from playing with G.I. Joes by that point in my life I never picked up that second figure (I have it now though courtesy of the EPIC HAUL).  Stalker got an additional update in each of the final 3 years of the G.I. Joe: Real American Hero toyline (’92, ’93, and ’94) but I had completely stopped collecting by then and missed out on all of them.

Joe-Stalker v21 pose

Stalker got multiple updates and make-overs during the new sculpt years (2002-2006). One of them was a Tiger Force figure which was included in the same multi-pack as the original Sabertooth/Wreckage in 2003. I never got that pack and so I’ve never really associated Stalker with Tiger Force before now. The ’03 TF Stalker was a repaint of the 1992 Stalker which featured a scowling new head sculpt and a big goofy Spawn boot. Stalker’s Tiger Force paint job (orange striped pants and blue bandoliers) was consistent with the other Joes included in the multi-pack but it didn’t gel with the vintage Tiger Force figures of the 80s.

2003 TF Stalker (pic borrowed from yojoe.com)

2003 TF Stalker (pic borrowed from yojoe.com)

This 2015 Stalker is an homage to the 2003 figure except instead of faithfully recreating that blue and orange paint job Hasbro has tweaked his colors so that he better matches up better with his modern-era Tiger Force cohorts. I know I shouldn’t endorse yellow pants with tiger stripes but I gotta say that I really like the color choices for this figure. In real life these pants would be a fashion catastrophe that Stalker would never live down  but in plastic form they somehow work.  The black and yellow look really sharp together and the patches of green found on his gloves and web gear add a little military realism.

The best thing about this figure has to be the newly sculpted head by the team over at Boss Fight Studios. This face has a lot of personality and the sneer gives Stalker an edginess I haven’t seen in him before. I always imagined Stalker to be a smooth operator but this figure makes me think that he can get pretty nasty if you get on his bad side. This is the first Stalker figure to feature a removable beret (previously see on Flint) which is a pretty cool feature.Joe-Stalker v21 hatless

Besides the beret and webgear, Stalker also comes with Snow Job’s backpack which holds a removable phone and antennae and can be used to store the pieces to his silver machine gun which comes disassembled.  He also has a standard black machine gun and a pistol which can be holstered on his leg. It’s a lot of pieces so Stalker looks well prepared for whatever comes his way.

Stalker’s body is made up of a mish-mash of Viper, Joe Trooper, and Duke parts which come together nicely to create a well proportioned figure with a very detailed baggy uniform.  The Club wisely did not attempt to recreate the Spawn boot.  All-in-all this is one of the best Stalker’s ever released.  It’s another nice job by the Collector’s Club (which sadly is rumoured to be ending in 2016).  The only thing keeping this figure from being perfect is the shallow pegs holes which make it very difficult to keep this guy standing.  9.5 out of 10.Joe-Stalker v21 teamJoe-Stalker v21 compare

KYLO REN (2015) 6″

SWB-Kylo fullSTAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS

SPOILER FREE.

As I’m sure you know, since you’re visiting a blog about action figures, Star Wars Episode VII came out last Thursday. As much as it pained me to do so I waited until Saturday afternoon to see it.  My little brother Brian was flying home for the holidays from NYC and wasn’t arriving until Friday and we wanted to see it together.  Brian and I, along with my girlfriend Vanessa and my dad, went and saw it in 3D Imax.  We all had different levels of excitement going in but in the end we all enjoyed it.  I had very high expectations and I would say the film lived up to them for the most part.

One area where the film surpassed my expectations was in the casting of the young new stars. I didn’t expect to like them as much as I did.  I’ve being seeing figures of Rey and Finn on the pegs at Walmart for months now and I had no desire to pick them up but after seeing the movie I totally have to buy those two.SWB-Kylo back

Kylo Ren was one of the few TFA figures I had planned to pick up regardless of how the movie turned out.  He’s the new sith character and he looked cool enough to add to my collection even if he ended up being a one-film villain like Darth Maul.  I bought this 6″ Black Series Kylo Ren figure a few weeks ago when I was lucky enough to find one amongst the sea of Finns.  I thought Kylo was neat looking but not as cool as his predecessors.  Since I knew nothing about the character and wasn’t wowed by his appearance he was placed on my shelf and I didn’t give him much thought afterwards.

To my surprise Kylo Ren was my favourite thing about TFA.  He was introduced to us as a total badass and he did some pretty impressive things seemingly without much effort, but he was far from just another cool-looking villain in black.  As the film progressed Ren was given lots of great character developing scenes.  He had a nasty temper as you would expect from someone who has given into the dark side and I loved watching him lash out like a petulant child when things didn’t go his way. It was akin to Anakin’s temperament in Episodes II and III but delivered in a much less wooden and far more entertaining way.SWB-Kylo face

Seeing his outfit on the big screen really won me over also.  When I first got this toy I found the bandaged arms and plain tunic to be rather uninspired but now I really like it.  His outfit feels like it was thrown together with whatever was laying around rather than being a polished piece of equipment like Vader’s.   It’s kinda punk rock.  I had mixed feelings about the mask before too but not anymore.  I doubt it will ever become as iconic as Vader’s but it’s pretty darn cool in its own right. I assume we’ll get a Kylo Ren with a removable helmet at some point but for this initial figure I’m glad they didn’t go that route.  It would have likely made the head appear oversized and this one is perfectly proportioned.

This figure has an interesting mix of cloth and plastic layers.  His lower tunic is plastic with cloth overlays and his torso is clothed with a plastic scarf and then he has a cloth hood.  It actually works really well and looks much better than the all plastic robes seen on the Darth Maul figure.  Cloth hoods rarely work out but I think this one sits perfectly.  It can be pulled back to reveal the full helmet but I’m reluctant to mess with it too much for fear it might loose it’s shape.SWB-Kylo fight

Kylo is well articulated with double jointed knees, rocker ankles, and ball joints throughout.  I thought the robes might hinder his movement but they don’t really.  You may not be able to sit him in a vehicle but you can get him in lots of different poses.

Paint apps are minimal as you would expect on a sith.  Other that some silver on his mask and belt buckle he’s solid black.  However, he features multiple shades of black so the figure is not dull to look at.  The arms and helmet are a matte black, the boots are glossy, and the robes have a shimmery textured look. For accessories he comes with his unique red lightsaber which has a removable translucent blade.

I’m a big fan of this character and this figure does him justice.  10 out of 10.SWB-Kylo pose

 

OTACHI (2015)

PR-Otachi fullPACIFIC RIM

Let’s do a little Pacific Rim recap.  The film was released in 2013 and with it came a prequel graphic novel and the first wave of 3 action figures.  I was a little disappointed with all 3.  Don’t get me wrong, the movie is pretty awesome and I’ve watched it multiple times but I still think it could have been more awesome.  I didn’t feel invested in the human characters and many of the story elements failed to interest me.  But I don’t generally watch monster movies for the humans or the story anyway, I watch for the monsters, and the monsters/Kaiju in Pacific Rim did not disappoint.  The visual effects were amazing so despite a lagging middle section the movie is still a lot of fun to watch.  The graphic novel was okay but forgettable.  At least it wasn’t a chore to read like the new PR series, Tales from the Drift, which launched 2 months ago.  We’re 2 issues in so far and it’s a total bore.  As for the toys, I only bought Knifehead from wave 1.  It was a nicely sculpted figure but it was smaller than I had hoped and it was lacking in articulation. Fortunately NECA improved on those points with wave 2; the figures were bigger and more articulated.PR-Otachi front

The wave 2 Kaiju was Leatherback.  I still haven’t got around to reviewing it but it was a very nice action figure.  It just so happens that I didn’t love that particular creature from the movie so I wasn’t super excited about the toy (probably why I haven’t reviewed it).   The next bunch of Kaiju figures were Trespasser, an improved Knifehead, Scunner, then Axehead.  I bought them all and I liked them all but they were all pretty much the same toy with different heads. Those 4 Kaiju had the same basic build and if the line carried on that way I probably would’ve gotten bored.

PR-Otachi bellyThankfully NECA infused some excitement into the line by announcing that their next Kaiju figure would be Otachi.  He’s a completely different shape than the previously released figures.  He walks on all fours, he has wings, he has a tail, he’s got a crazy tongue….he’s awesome.  So needless to say I was really looking forward to getting this figure.  However, when this toy actually went up for pre-order at BigBadToyStore my excitement turned to frustration.  Otachi is bigger , he’s more articulated,  and he required more newly sculpted pieces than previously released figures so I expected him to be a bit more expensive. I did not expect the price to jump from 30 dollars to 80 dollars. And not only did they jack up the price but the figure didn’t have Otachi’s signature wings.  It pained me to pass on this figure but I had to. I just knew that NECA would release a winged version later so if I was going to overpay for this thing I was at least going to overpay for the version I wanted.

Version 2

Version 2

Sure enough a winged version of Otachi was released about 6 months later. My patience paid off, right? Wrong. The second version was lacking Otachi’s signature tail. What the hell NECA?  You expect me to buy two incomplete figures of the same character for $80 a piece?  Damn you.

To be fair, both Otachi figures are screen accurate.  When he first shows up in the film he has a long tail and he’s crawling around on all four legs.  Gypsy Danger snaps his tail off and only then does Otachi  spread his wings and take to the sky.  What NECA should have done is include removable wings and a removable tail with the first version then collector’s could choose to display him however they wanted.  I would’ve much preferred they did that and charged me an extra $20 for the removable pieces rather than try to sell me a whole other figure at full price.PR-Otachi spit

So after the second Otachi was released I had to decide what was more important to me, the tail or the wings.  As cool as the wings are, that second figure looked dumb to me with a stump for a tail.  The proportions seemed all out of whack.  At least the first version looked like a complete figure so that’s what I went with.

I bought this figure from my local Toys R Us a few weeks back and it cost me over $100 in Canadian funds.  I wasn’t happy with the price tag considering what I’ve paid for all my other Pacific Rim figures but if I wanted this guy (and I did) I had to pay the piper.  Version 1 was sold out on BBTS by then and I’d seen people selling it on ebay for over $100US so I figured I’d better do it now rather than wait and possibly end up paying even more.  So was it worth it?PR-Otachi open

It’s hard to say whether it’s worth $100 dollars or not but it is pretty f**king awesome so I guess so.  The sculpting on this figure is excellent.  It’s 18″ long and 7″ tall and every one of those inches is covered with sculpted detail.  He’s got scales, and armour, and spikes, and bioluminescent ports all over him. The front legs have great looking feet with creepy crooked thumbs and the folded wings are evident on his forearms.PR-Otachi movie

The head is particularly well done. He has a bat-like snout and two fleshy horns at the front of the face and the top of his head features a sculpted grainy wood-like texture.  The jaw splits in two to reveal a blue tongue covered in white nodules.   You have the option to remove the tongue and replace it with a stream of blue acid spit as seen in the movie.  The split jaw is pretty freaking looking and reminiscent of the mutated vampires seen in one of Guillermo Del Toro’s other movies, Blade II.  Personally I like to display Otachi with a closed jaw.

PR-Otachi tail

The tail is perhaps the highlight of the figure as is likely what resulted in such an increase in the price.  it’s super-detailed and it features over 10 points of articulation.  It’s very similar to the multi-segmented tail seen on the 2014 movie Godzilla figure I reviewed a while back.  The end of the tail features 3 articulated claws which move in unison.  It’s reminds me of a squid’s beak.  I like it displayed openly but it can be closed tight enough to grip other figures.  The tail is removable so you could take it off and attach it to the winged version if you like which is nice but I have no plans to buy version 2 myself.  The only problem with the tail is that I find it falls off of the figure fairly easily if you’re handling him.

The paint work on this figure is very nice too.  I think he’s molded in black plastic with a dark green wash over the whole thing but it may be the opposite.  He has lots of splashes of blue for the bioluminescence and a bit of yellow in the eyes and nose.PR-Otachi baby

The last thing I’ll mention is the accessories this figure came with.  I already told you about the optional  acid stream but Otachi also comes with his baby.  In the movie Otachi dies and a baby version bursts from his chest and chases down Newt only to be strangled by its own umbilical cord.  Well this figure comes with a teeny version of that baby which I suppose is in scale.  The baby has multiple paint apps and even has 3 points of articulation.  Pretty darn cool.  I only wish there was a compartment in Otachi’s chest where I could store it.

In summary, I love this figure.  I wish it wasn’t so expensive but if you’re on the fence like I was I say go for it.  I haven’t removed him from the coffee table in my living room since I got him; I just really dig looking at him.  Here’s hoping that the next Kaiju figure, Mutavore due out this month (pre-order for $59.99 at BBTS), is just as cool. 10 out of 10.PR-Otachi Godzilla

PR-Otachi group

VENOM-The Symbiote (1997)

Marv-Venom Sym fullSPIDER-MAN: VENOM

Venom is a character that was first introduced in Amazing Spider-Man issue 300, written by David Michelinie and drawn by Todd McFarlane, way back in 1988. I bought that issue off the rack and I remember it well. It was actually issue 299 where we got our first look at Venom. Mary Jane had just returned home to her apartment when she saw who she thought was her hubby Spider-Man standing in the corner. Spidey was wearing his black costume in those days so all that could be seen in the shadows were the large white eyes of the mask and the white spider logo on his chest. As MJ approached the shadowy figure he stepped out into the light and Mary Jane and readers alike were shocked to discover that it wasn’t Spider-Man in the corner but a hulking new villain wearing an identical costume with an evil sneer full of pointed teeth . Todd McFarlane drew the f**k out of that Venom reveal.  I was on the edge of my seat waiting for issue 300 to come out so I could learn all about this new character.Marv-Venom Sym reveal

 

That first Venom story was great. The return of Venom story, also drawn by McFarlane and written by Michelinie, that began in issue 315 and ran for several issues was pretty good too.  Soon after that Eric Larsen took over the art chores on Amazing Spider-Man.  I like Larsen but Venom’s already exaggerated features became ridiculously amplified. His jaw stretched down to his chest and his tongue was all over the place. Micheline was still writing the character but Venom quickly became an over exposed one-note character and I got bored of seeing him. Other readers seemed to enjoy him though because his popularity continued to grow.Marv-Venom Sym carded

 

As a result, Marvel turned Venom into an anti-hero and gave him his own book. He starred in his first solo mini-series titled “Lethal Protector” in 1993. I bought the first issue but didn’t bother to collect the whole thing. I completely ignored the many Venom mini-series’ that followed (Death Trap, Funeral Pyre, The Madness, The Enemy Within, etc.). Those comics watered down the character even further by having Venom’s alien costume spawn a bunch of offspring which grew into a bunch of Venom knock-offs of various colours ( Scream, Lasher Phage, Agony, Riot, Hybrid, etc.). Venom and his flock proved so popular that they even got their own spin-off toyline from Toy Biz in the late 90s. Since I wasn’t buying the Venom books I had zero attachment to those multi-coloured clones and therefore wasn’t interested in buying their toys. My little brother had a few of them though.Marv-Venom Sym back

I did however buy one figure from the venom toyline and it was this funky version of Venom himself. The package describes it as “Venom the Symbiote”. Venom has changed up his look a few times ( i.e Agent Venom) but I don’t ever recall him looking this bizarre. I know for certain that he never looked like this in a Spider-Man comic but I can’t say for sure that he didn’t sport this look in one of his solo comics. It is a very other-wordly take on Spidey’s alien nemesis.

I’m not sure if the fact that this toy is call “the symbiote” is meant to imply that this is Venom without Eddie Brock inside. That would make more sense as the symbiotic black suit always takes on a much more alien appearance when separated from its human host. However, the hostless symbiote usually looks more like a blob of goo. This Venom is more Xenomorph than it is Barbapappa. Perhaps it’s supposed to be the symbiote merged with a monster of some kind. I don’t know this figure’s origins  but I don’t really care. I just thought this was a damn cool looking toy back when I bought it back in the 90s and I still do today.Marv-Venom Sym hands

Most of Toy Biz’s Marvel figures stood about4 to 5 inches tall. This guy is about 8”. He doesn’t always look it because of the way his double-jointed legs are designed to give him a hunch but when stood straight up he towers over other figures in the line.

The head sculpt on this thing is just crazy looking. It’s long and flat with weird bunny ears and the entire thing is  is lined with individually sculpted teeth. He’s like a clam from hell. It’s extremely cool but I think it could have been even cooler if the mouth opened.  The body is lean and muscly with randomly armored and veiny bits.  His torso and neck seem to have a bio-mechanical vibe.   I should also mention that he has a tail; thats new for Venom.  Its long and curved with boney spikes running the full length.  It’s articulated  at the base only which is unfortunate because this thing would look great posed in different ways.Marv-Venom Sym legs

There isn’t much to say paint-wise but I like the addition of some greys to the character.  They break up the solid white and black colour scheme you would expect to find on a Venom figure. I also like how the boney parts aren’t just solid white.  There’s a splash of yellow on all them which make them appear weathered.

My favorite things about this figure are the appendages. The arms, especially the hands, are just awesome. Each finger is a pointy bone protrusion that is the stuff of nightmares. His hands are sculpted with open palms and spread fingers which gives him a very wide grip. This guy could choke slam Galactus with those bad boys. This figure’s feet are just insane and very H.R. Giger-esque.  Instead of toes his feet come to long thick boney points. Could you imagine getting kicked by this guy? Ouch.  It’s just all kinds of cool.Marv-Venom Sym compare

 

This figure doesn’t make much sense and it doesn’t look anything like the Venom everyone knows but as far as random oddities go this thing is killer. 10 out of 10.Marv-Venom Sym tall

GODZILLA (POP!) (2015)

pop-Godzilla fullFUNKO POP!

Almost all of my action figures are displayed in the second bedroom/man-cave of my apartment. There are a few in the living room and Kamala remains a fixture of the main bathroom but I generally try to keep everything together. I do however have a small secondary display area growing on my desk at work. Originally my office display only consisted of a few of odds and ends but I keep adding to it and now my desk collection is more than 40 strong. Luckily my boss is cool and doesn’t say anything about my cubicle slowly morphing into a Toys R Us. About half of my desk figures are vinyl POP! figures from Funko. They’re the kind of cute and harmless toys that I feel are safe to display at work as they are unlikely to offend anyone. In order to review these desk figures I have to cart them home to take pictures which is kind of a pain in the butt so I don’t usually do it. But, as I mentioned in my review of the Phantom yesterday, some of them are contenders for my year-end “best of” list so I decided to lug a few of them home this week for a photo session. Today’s candidate is a brand new toy that I just purchased from Strange Adventures yesterday; POP! Godzilla.Pop-Godzilla back

This is my first jumbo POP! figure. He’s substantially bigger than the standard figures and rightfully so seeing as he’s the King of Monsters. This figure is really impressive looking amongst the smaller POP! vinyls.  I love the Big G so part of me is hoping that Funko makes some of Godzilla’s rivals like Megalon or King Ghidorah. However, an equal part of me prays they don’t as I simply don’t have enough room on my desk (or in my man-cave) to display them. Space is quickly becoming an major issue for Mike’s Collection. If anything I need toys to start getting smaller, not bigger.Pop-Godzilla side

 

 

 

 

I really like this figure but I actually wish he was more POP!-like.  Funko’s vinyls have a very distinct look and its not obvious at first glance that this Godzilla is one of them.  Not only is he bigger but the proportions are quite different.  Most POPs have really large heads on small bodies.  That might’ve looked a little weird for Godzilla because he generally has a smaller head atop a large body.  This figure falls somewhere in the middle and ends up being reasonably well-proprtioned.  So while it retains the cuteness you’d expect from a POP! figure its actually less stylized than most.  That doesn’t make it a bad figure at all but I just happen to like consistency.

 

Pop-Godzilla compare

 

This is the fifth Godzilla figure I’ve reviewed  ( 1, 2, 3, 4) so I don’t have much left to say about the character or my history with him.  I’ll just reiterate that I’ve been a Godzilla fan forever and I’m always happy to add another variation of him to my collection.  I don’t buy every one that comes out but when one as unique as this comes along I have to.

The sculpt on this figure is great with textured scales over the whole body, spiky fins on the back, and a curved tail. The paint job is nice too.  He’s molded in a greyish green with white claws, silver fins, black eyes, and  red gums.  There is absolutely no articulation which is kind of a bummer but these are intended more for display then play so its not a big deal.  If you have any Godzilla fans on your Christmas list this is a must-have stocking stuffer.

Another win from Funko. 10 out of 10Pop-Godzilla group

THE PHANTOM (POP!) (2015)

POP-Phantom fullFUNKO POP!

Hey gang, it’s been more than a month now since I’ve posted a review so I apologize for the lack of new content. I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon as I’m still feeling a little burnt out on this endeavour, and I’m hoping to focus my creative energy on another project soon, but I do plan on posting a handful of reviews before the end of the year. That’s’ because the end of the year brings with it my annual “top 10 action figures of the year” list and that’s my favorite post to write (I love lists). I feel any toy that makes my best-of list should be a toy that I’ve previously reviewed. So in preparation I’ve decided to start reviewing some of the great figures I’ve purchased this year that have yet to be showcased.POP-Phantom boxed

 

2015 may have been the biggest year yet for Funko’s POP! vinyl figurines. These things are everywhere. All of my local comic shows are overflowing with them. In-store displays are stacked floor to ceiling and new ones seem to come out every week. I imagine the bubble will burst on these things soon but for the moment they remain insanely popular. I could easily go all-in collecting these adorable figures but I do my best to show restraint. Currently I own 21 of them which might sound like a lot to some people but I think I’m doing pretty good considering how many different figures are available. I’ve picked up 3 new ones in the past few weeks and each of them is a contender for my top 10 list. I’ll try to review them all by month’s end but for today I’ve opted to take a look at The Phantom.

POP-Phantom backThe Phantom is an old-timely pulp hero from 1930s comic strips. I first became aware of him courtesy of the 1996 live-action movie starring Billy Zane. It wasn’t a great movie but it was pretty good and at the time good super hero movies were few and far between. The 90s oddly enough introduced me to a multitude of pulp heroes via live-action flicks such as The Shadow, Dick Tracy, and the Rocketeer (who was actually a new character with a pulp feel). I liked Dick Tracy and the Shadow well enough but it was the Rocketeer and the Phantom that really resonated with me. The Rocketeer for obvious reasons; he looks rad and he fights Nazis. You can’t go wrong with a jet pack, a leather jacket, a bitchn’ helmet, and Betty Page for a girlfriend.

The Phantom’s appeal isn’t as immediately evident. He’s a dude in a purple onesie with striped briefs overtop. He’s a super hero with no super powers and he lives in the middle of the jungle. The whole concept is rather strange and yet I was completely won over by the movie and it turned me into a fan for life. I’ve gobbled up every nugget of Phantom-ness I could find since then; sporadic comic book publications, a short-lived animated series, and even a direct-to-video live action sequel. Phantom toys have been just as elusive as lasting Phantom media. Prior to obtaining this POP! figurine the only Phantom toy in my collection was a 4” figure produced by Galoob in 1986. A Mego-style doll was released by Castaway Toys about a decade ago and I’d love to have it but it’s pricey and rare. So while this POP! figure may not be the most elaborate figure its still pretty cool awesome to add a new Phantom toy to my collection.  Now that Funko has the Phantom license hopefully they’ll release more versions. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll have as many Phantoms as I do Rocketeers.POP-Phantom side

As I said above, this toy is pretty simple so there isn’t a whole lot I can say about it. There are no accessories and no articulation save for a neck swivel. Most POP! figures have the same basic body type which I’ve covered in previous reviews so there isn’t much new to be said about the sculpting either. But this figure makes the most of its few uniquely sculpted bits. He’s got his skull belt buckle, his rings, and his dual holstered pistols. What more could you ask for really? This figure is immediately recognizable as The Phantom (provided you know who The Phantom is) regardless of the lack of sculpted details and that’s a win as far as I’m concerned.

This is a fun and colorful figure of an underrated character.  I can find nothing to complain about. For what it is, this figure is a solid 10 out of 10.POP-Phantom compare