Monthly Archives: February 2016
About a month ago I reviewed my new Rodan action figure/piggy bank. In that review I mentioned that I had went to the comic store that day intending to buy a different figure, either Marvel Legends Blizzard or DST’s Oggie Boogie Man, but I rationalized my way out of buying either of them so I could justify spending thirty bucks on the hollow rubber Rodan instead. I had made peace with my decision to leave Blizzard behind. But then yesterday I was writing a review of my recently acquired Marvel Legends Cottonmouth and I happened to mention how much I love collecting D-list Marvel villains. That’s when it donned on me that I really should have bought Blizzard when I had the chance. I popped into Strange Adventures today on my lunch break and fortunately he was still there which is why you’re getting a review of him today.
Blizzard is primarily an Iron Man villain. The original guy, named Gregor Shapanka, first appeared in Tales of Suspense issue 45 back in 1963. He was kind of dorky looking and he went by the name Jack Frost back then. That guy was before my time so I have no attachment to him. I think the only story I ever read with him in it was a Spider-Man comic from 1986 where Blizzard was killed by an evil Iron Man from the future.
The second Blizzard, Donnie Gill, was introduced in Iron Man 223 released in 1987. My brother Doug and I were still really new to collecting comics back then and easily enamoured with new characters as we discovered them. We both loved Blizzard version II right away. His blue and white costume was pretty basic but it clearly conveyed the message that he was an “ice” bad guy. Simplicity is underrated. Sometimes the best character designs are the simplest ones. To this day I love the jagged ice design of Blizzard’s costume. As I mentioned in my Rodan review, I unapologetically ripped off Blizzard’s costume when creating my own ice-powered villain, Icicle.
I don’t recall Blizzard ever doing anything exceptionally memorable in the comics as he was often an ensemble guy who tended to get lost in the crowd. It’s also kind of hard to get excited about a guy who shoots ice from his hands because that’s been done to death (Mr. Freeze, Captain Cold, Killer Frost, Ice Man, etc.). Despite his status as an unoriginal relatively harmless hired goon I can’t help but love the guy.
This figure, however, I find disappointing. There’s just something about it that doesn’t look quite right. The overall construction makes for a somewhat gangly figure. Maybe I wouldn’t notice it so much if the costume wasn’t so plain but the lack of patterns and accessories doesn’t allow for any flaws to be hidden. Many of the joints feel loose and breakable. I also don’t love the paint job. There’s only so much you can do with this guy but I’m not a fan of the metallic light blue Hasbro used. Lastly, I wish the ice pattern on his head came down further on his mask. As is, it kind of looks like a toupee to me.
It would’ve been nice if Hasbro had included some ice blast accessories to spice this figure up but unfortunately this figure is bare bones. I should mention that he did come with the torso of the Hulk Buster Iron Man build-a-figure though so it’s not like he came with absolutely nothing.
In June 2014 I backed a kickstarter campaign to get some action figures made by Boss Fight Studio. I got an email from them this week stating that they’re about to ship the first half of my order. Needless to say, I am stoked.
Boss Fight Studio is a group of toy designers and sculptors who have worked on toy lines like G.I. Joe, Marvel, and Star Wars and for the first time ever they were planning to produce their own original toy line called Vitruvian H.A.C.K.S. The first series was to be based on characters from greek mythology. BFS’s goal was to raise $75,000 so that they could produce 4 high-quality action figures; 2 spartans and 2 gorgons. If they raised additional funds they would add additional figures to the campaign.
They raised $412,270 and that resulted in them being able to produce over 40 figures and I’m getting all of them; Spartans, Gorgons, Skeletons, and more. This line looks like it’s going to be absolutely amazing. When I got the email I quickly went about clearing off a shelf in my man cave. Then I hit up a pet store and picked up a bunch of aquarium pieces to add a little pizzaz to my display. Knowing they’re almost here has got my giddy with excitement. I’ve been waiting nearly two years for these things and i’m sure they’ll be worth the wait. Expect reviews as soon as they arrive.
For many years now I’ve been collecting “Marvel Universe” figures which are in the 3 3/4 inch scale (G.I. Joe-sized). The quality of them (or lack there of) is frustrating sometimes but once I commited to collecting the line I set out to build the most complete Marvel Universe I could. That meant buying just about every figure Hasbro put out, even characters I don’t really care for. As a result I have over 200 of them now
Along with Marvel Universe Hasbro has concurrently been releasing “Marvel Legends” figures in the 6 inch scale. My brother Doug collects them and has an impressive collection that rivals my 3 3/4 assortment. The larger scale allows for more detail but I’ve always found the majority of Marvel Legends to be kinda ugly due to too many joints and lackluster sculpts. To my dismay that has changed. The 6″ figures produced by Hasbro in the past two or three years have had excellent sculpts, great paint jobs, and build-a-figure accessories that allow you to build a bonus figure if collect an entire wave. It gets my vote for most improved toy line and so I’ve found myself envious of Doug’s newest purchases more and more often of late.
At the tail end of 2014 I caved and decided to pick up one or two Legends for myself. At first it was just going to be must-have characters that I didn’t already have in the smaller scale, like Agent Venom and Machine Man, but I quickly broke my own rule by buying Black Cat, Hawkeye, and Captain America. Then came a slew of spider-men and now my Legends collection has grown to 25 figures in a little more than a year and it shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, after seeing the upcoming releases revealed at last weekend’s Toy Fair expo, I think my collection may double this year. That sucks for my wallet because Legends are twice as expense as Universe figures but worst of all is I’m still buying the smaller figures too, I just bought three new ones last week. Somehow Hasbro has duped me into collecting Marvel toys in two different scales. Damn them.
My most recent Marvel Legends purchase was Cottonmouth last week. Now this guy would not be considered a must-have in most collections but random D-list villains like him are one of the things I love most about the Marvel Universe. I’m thrilled every time one of them gets action figured for the first time. As an 8-year old I would’ve lost my mind if you’d told me I’d one day own figures of Boomerang, Tiger Shark , Swarm, and the entire Wrecking Crew.
Cottonmouth is primarily a Captain America villain having first appeared in issue 310 of the star-spangled Avenger’s solo book in 1985. That was the year Doug and I started collecting comics. Any character we encountered in the formative years of our collecting left a lasting impression on us (I can not wait for the upcoming Speed Demon figure; Amazing Spider-Man issue 281 represent!). I realize Cottonmouth is pretty goofy looking in his purple onesie and snake hood but its the kind of goofy that’s awesome in a way that only comics can convey.
This figure is pretty simple looking because that’s all it needs to be. Just look at how accurate it is to the comic art. The body Hasbro used is the standard Legends “bulky” body and I think it’s appropriate for the character. The head sculpt is brand new and it’s a great one. It has a ton of personality. I love the evil sneer. The scaly texture on the hood is cool too. I wouldn’t change anything about this head but it would’ve been nice if Hasbro had included an extra head with an elongated jaw. Cottonmouth’s super power is basically that he can open his mouth really wide and swallow you and that’s kind of hard to recreate with this smiling face.
This is a great figure but truthfully the best thing about it is that it leads me to believe that Hasbro might produce more members of his team, the Serpent Society. Puff Adder, Sidewinder, Diamondback, Death Adder! They’d all be so cool. I’d even be stoked for an Anaconda and she was always my least favourite. 8 out of 10.
It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted a review so I thought I’d write up a quickie to help me get back into the habit. Today’s figure is a Mike’s Collection original, I call her Looker.
I have more loose action figure accessories than I know what to do with. I literally have bins full of extra weapons and knick knacks that came packaged with various figures. My Masters of the Universe Classics accessory bin primarily consists of swords, shields, mystical objects, and extra heads. One piece that stood out amongst those standard parts was an extra pair of legs; actually a woman’s entire lower half. The legs came packaged with the She-Ra character Mermista. She’s a mermaid that can transform into a human so her action figure came with both a lower lady half and a fishy half. I find the mermaid version much more interesting so thats how I chose to display her on my shelf. That left me with these unused gams.
One of the extra heads I had laying around was a giant eyeball. It originally came with the character Optic who included both an orange eye and a green eye. I preferred the orange eye as Optic’s noggin so the green one went into the bin.
The peg that connects Mermista’s lower half to her torso is the same type of peg used to connect all MOTU figures’ heads. It seemed a shame to let the legs go to waste (it’s half a figure…that’s like $20!) so I decided to build a freaky custom character. I have over a dozen heads to choose from but placing a random human head on the legs looked pretty weird so after some trial and error I went with the eyeball. This combination is still very strange looking but not as strange as a He-Man head on those legs. The end result makes for a bizarre creature that I can actually believe as an inhabitant of Eternia.
At first I named her Legs but then one day the name Looker donned on me and I knew it was gold. It’s the perfect name for an eyeball with sexy legs and it’s in line with other goofy on-the-nose MOTU names.
I realize this figure is retarded but its also kind of fun and brings a little originality to my MOTU display. 4 out of 10.
There was a time when I told myself I wasn’t going to collect Funko’s POP! vinyl figures and now I have a small army of them including three variations of Batman.
The floodgates can be traced back to my first POP! figure, a black and grey contemporary Batman that I received as a gift. I liked it so much that I thought I would maybe buy one or two more. I started out by buying a couple oddballs like Rocky Balboa and the the Winged Monkey from Wizard of Oz and the next thing I knew I had a dozen of them.
My second Batman, an Adam West 60s Batman, was gifted to me on my birthday by my brother Doug a couple years ago. That one came with a retro Batmobile which was pretty sweet. After that I was quite certain I had no need for any further Batman POP! figures. Then last weekend I bought this mustardy yellow Batman. You might think it ridiculous but there is precedent for this garish costume.
This figure, along with pink, green, orange, purple, and blue variations were released as a special exclusives to collectibles etailer, Entertainment Earth. They were produced in celebration of the Dark Knight’s 75th anniversary in 2014. The rainbow Batman outfits are based on Detective Comics issue 241 published in 1957. I’ve never read it but in it Batman apparently dons various coloured costumes as a means to distract some bad guys from noticing that Robin was fighting crime with a wounded arm. Sounds silly I know but it was the Silver Age and s**t like that happened all the time.
My friend Jay runs a comic shop called Cape and Cowl Comics in my hometown of Sackville, Nova Scotia. You may recall me talking about it in my Blowtorch review a while back. It’s a great shop but I’ve only been in there a couple of times. I don’t get out to Sackville very often unless I’m visiting my folks and I do 99% of my comic shopping at Strange Adventures in Halifax. Jay has faced some hurtles in starting up his new business and I guess things have been exceptionally slow in the new year. When tales of his struggles made the rounds on local news outlets and social media I knew I had to get out there and spend some cash. I went out for a browse on Saturday and despite a great selection of goodies there wasn’t much there I “needed”.
Any POP! figure would’ve been a fun purchase, E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, Deb from Napolean Dynamite, Neo from the Matrix, but I just couldn’t resist the pull of the rainbow Batmen. The shop had a few varieties in stock but the yellow one won out because I oddly find it the ugliest and the most appealing. (I also bought a Scarface ReAction figure).
There isn’t much to say about the figure itself. The sculpt is as cute as it was the first two times I got it. I’m sure it will be a conversation piece on my work desk. 7 out of 10.
If you’re able, go support Cape and Cowl comics.
Here’s my second attempt at a custom G.I. Joe figure using Marauder Task Force (MTF) parts. I think it’s more successful then my first on, Doc, but it still leaves a little to be desired.
As a kid I collected G.I. Joe figures but I also collected the G.I. Joe comic books published by Marvel. Well, technically my brother Doug did but we shared a room and I read them all. Doug and I had our own distinct collections back then but in a way all of our things were shared. He read my Spider-Man and Fantastic Four books and I read his X-Men and G.I. Joe books. There was no need for us both to buy them. The same was true of toys. Doug would have Flint but I’d have Lady Jaye. As kids Doug and I had very similar interests and we were very agreeable so that worked out great. 1990 was the year that we both lost interest in the continuing adventures G.I. Joe. The cartoon had been off the air for a few years by then and the toyline consisted of more and more rehashes of old characters which failed to excite us. As a result the comic book began to feel stale. Doug decided to quit collecting the series with the milestone 100th issue (May 1990) and that was also the final year we bought any of the new figures even though the line carried on for four more years.
During my teen years my life was pretty much devoid of G.I. Joe but I never stopped loving the Joe and Cobra characters I grew up with. I was still collecting toys and comics the whole time so its not like I ever got “too cool” for that stuff, it’s just that G.I. Joe seemed to have lost its way those last few years and the property fizzled out because of it.
When G.I. Joe returned to comics in a back-to-basics series in 2001 courtesy of a new publisher, Devil’s Due, I was 100% on board. When the toys returned in 2002 I was even more pumped. The new toys had some issues in the early 2000s (i.e. wonky proportions and decreased articulation) but I thought the comics were fantastic. Devil’s Due had some A-list talent on the book and you could tell they were passionate Joe fans and not just license holders. Some of the characters, concepts, and storylines introduced by Devil’s Due, like the Stall siblings, the Plague, and the Coil were some of the most exciting Joe storylines I’d ever read (no disrespect to Mr. Hama who wrote all the Marvel books).
One new character Devil’s Due introduced was General Rey. He first appeared in issue 37 published in 2004. I gotta say, when he first showed up I really didn’t like him. He kinda looked like Duke with grey hair and I didn’t see the point of him.
I figured there were plenty of established characters Devil’s Due could have used in his place rather than creating some new loser that nobody cared about. It was like when Marvel shoehorned Cable into the New Mutants. I still don’t like Cable. My dislike for Rey was fuelled by the fact that another one of my favourite comics, B.P.R.D., also had a new team leader inserted into the roster in 2004. Captain Benjamin Daimio seemed just as out of place and unnecessary in that book as General Rey did in G.I. Joe. It’s funny how good storytelling can change your mind about things. By the time Rey’s and Daimio’s storylines came to a close I didn’t want to see them go. Both have been gone for several years now and I miss them.
As it turned out, the mysterious General Rey was a clone of Cobra’s fearless leader, Serpentor. It’s been a while since I read the story so its a little rusty in my mind but if memory serves General Philip Rey was placed on the Joe team as a sleeper agent. Even he didn’t know who or what he really was. He was supposed to turn on the Joes when triggered to do so by Dr. Mindbender but he heroically resisted his programming and became a true ally of the Joes. I came to like the character so much by the end or the arc that I really wanted a figure of him. Sadly that never materialized and it likely never will in any official capacity. However, thanks to Marauder Inc., I am able to take matters into my own hands 10 years after the fact.
My General Rey build is a simple one. I used the desert camo body, the brown armoured vest adorned with a couple of brown pouches, the white haired white-guy head, and a couple of other minor accessories. As soon as I saw the white haired head on Marauder’s site I knew I had to attempt this. I think the end result is pretty good. I’m sure I could make it even better and more accurate if I was willing to do some cutting and painting but I’m too lazy for that.
I got lucky with this figure because so much of the sculpting on the basic MTF body matches up quite well with Rey’s uniform from the comics. The colours match up much better than they did on my Doc figure as well. The only thing that kind of bugs me about this figure is the head. It’s about as accurate a head as you’re likely to get for a General Rey figure but it looks too generic to me. I’ve got multiple variations of this head in my collection so it’s hard for me to associate it with a unique character. Aside from that I’m pretty happy with my General Rey. 8 out of 10.