Monthly Archives: July 2016

BLACK VULTURE v.2 (2016)

Joe-Black vulture v2 fullG. I. JOE

Today I’m going to take a look at another figure from the G.I. Joe Collector Club’s 2016 Convention Set. The theme this year was Sky Patrol which pitted the Joe team’s air-based heroes against Cobra’s evil aerial troopers. The figure I’ve selected today is the commander of the Cobra Night Vultures, the villainous computer hacker known as Black Vulture.

Joe-Black vulture v2 face

The Sky Patrol sub-team was introduced into the Joe toy line in the early 1990s so most of this year’s Convention figures would be immediately recognizable to Joe fans of that era. However, even if you were an avid Joe collector in the 90s (I wasn’t) you probably don’t remember this guy. That’s because the original figure was only ever released in Brazil.  He was called Abutre Negro which apparently translates into Black Buzzer. He was constructed using the head and legs of Dee-Jay, the chest and arms of Cesspool, and the waist of Marverick. Then he was painted black, red, and silver, and voila….a brand new character. He came packaged with a couple of guns, a backpack and a silver parachute. It was a pretty neat looking figure so it’s a shame that American (and Canadian) kids never had the opportunity to purchase him.  I never even knew of his existence until I began collecting Joes again as an adult as I’m sure was the case for many other Joe fans. Before the internet how were we supposed to know that there were rare international figures being released?Joe-Black Vulture v2 v1

Most Joe fans will never own a Abutre Negro, because he sells for about $1,000 on ebay these days, which is why I love it when the Club produces modern-era versions of foreign release figures. Over the past few years the Club has graced us with updates of highly sought after international figures such as Cobra De Aco, Cobra Mortal, Quarrel, T.N.T, Jammer, and more.

Joe-Black Vulture v2 back

I imagine tackling an Abutre Negro update was probably a little more difficult for the Club to pull off than their past international remakes. The reason for that is Hasbro has not yet produced (and likely won’t) modern-era versions of any of the three characters used to build the original. The Club produced their own version of Cesspool in 2014 but it was lacking the uniquely sculpted torso with the protruding Cobra logo that the 1991 Cesspool shared with Abutre Negro. Despite the lack of needed parts I think the Club has managed to pull off a pretty darn good modern-era version of this Brazilian scoundrel.

This figure, whose name has been updated to Black Vulture, was built using the Accelerator Suit torso seen on multiple movie-based figures in 2009, Beachhead v.15 legs, arms I can’t place, and the head of 2011’s Cobra Trooper v.16 based on the G.I. Joe Renegades animated series. The parts all come together nicely to make a cool looking, well-proportioned, action figure that is faithful enough to the original.  I really like the head they chose to reuse here.  It shares a lot of similarities with the Dee-Jay head sculpt and could probably even be used to update him one day.  Even though this head originally appeared on a Cobra Trooper it appears unique in my collection because I chose to display the trooper with an alternate masked head. When the first photos of this figure were shown online there was some chatter about the neck being too long but it seems alright to me. I’m very impressed by how the Club was able to recreate the look of the protruding Cobra logo using the existing Accelerator Suit sculpting with some creative paintwork. Due to some clever choices by the Club I think this figure turned out great.Joe-Black Vulture v2 wings

The downside to this figure comes by way of his accessories. He’s got a display stand, a gun, and a knife, all of which are fine. His major accessory is a winged glider backpack with push-button pop-out wings. We’ve seen this pack before, I think the first time may have been with 2011’s Skydive v.2, and it makes a lot of sense to bring back here.  It’s a cool pack and I prefer it to the cloth glider pack that came with Air Devil. The problem is that it doesn’t fit into the figure’s back. The glider’s peg is not compatible with the hole in the Accelerator Suit torso. I can get it to rest on his back for photos but if I even look at him funny it falls out. Other than that tooling issue I’m very happy with this figure. I always love adding  “name” soldiers to my growing Cobra forces.  8 out of 10.Joe-Black Vulture v2 compareJoe-Black Vulture v2 fly

CITRINA (2016) orange blank

BFS-Citrina fullVITRUVIAN H.A.C.K.S.

I’ve reviewed a handful of Vitruvian Hacks figures now but I’ve only just scratched the surface of their awesomeness. I still have so many cool Spartans and Gorgons to share with you but today I’m going to take a look at a a completely clean slate. One of the main ideas behind the Vitruvian Hacks line is customization. H.A.C.K.S. is an acronym for Highly Articulated Character Kit System. Boss Fight Studio, the creators of the line, want you to swap out pieces and mix and match weapons to create your own original characters. To help customizers do just that, BFS has produced blank male and female figures in a variety of colors. The blanks have no painted details and no accessories. Each one comes in a baggie with four alternate heads (bald, short hair, long hair, masked), three pairs of feet (bare, sandals, boots), and two sets of hands. These options allows for all kinds of build possibilities. The blanks feature the same beautiful sculpting and the same amount of articulation as the standard V-Hacks figures. If you think you might be interested in doing some customizing of your own the blanks are available at BFS’s web store at a very reasonable price and they’re constantly adding new colour variations.BFS-Citrina parts

Since I backed BFS’s kickstarter campaign with an “all-in” contribution I received one blank in every color they had available at the time which was 16 (8 male and 8 female). I also received a bunch of extra accessory packs that contained tunics, helmets, and weapons so I was able to dress/arm all my blanks in some manner of outfit. So, rather than just review a completely blank figure, I’ve decided to review one of my original creations.BFS-Citrina back

My mom has told me on more than one occasion that I remind her of the 40-year old virgin but for the record I am not in the habit of sitting at home painting my action figures (plus I’m only 38 and I have a girlfriend). True customizers might scoff at my so-called creation because I built her with minimal effort and no paint but she is a Mike’s Collection original none-the-less. All I’ve done is taken the orange female blank, given her some white and black accessories, and named her. She’s actually one of my least accessorized blanks but for some reason she’s become my favorite. I suppose the orange skin is the main reason for that.  The pink and purple skins are too girly and the “walnut brown” and “champaign beige” skin are too close to actual flesh tones that they look strange with unpainted eyes. The unpainted facial features on the orange head don’t bother me because I see her more as a mythic elemental rather than an actual person.BFS-Citrina sword

I’ve named my elemental Citrina because of her citrusy skin tone. I’m thinking she was created by Zeus or some other conniving god for a reason not yet known. I see her as an ally to the Spartans in their war agains the gorgons. She wears mummified snakes around her neck, wrist and ankle as a means to protect her from Medusa’s cursed stare and she wields a sword carved from the tooth of the Kraken which repels all manner of beast. I’m literally making this up as I type it so forgive me if it’s silly.BFS-Citrina hair

 

I think these blanks are great and even though I have no customizing skills I find myself wanting to purchase each new color variation. It’s hard to know how to score these figures but between the quality, the concept, and my added bit of flair I’ll give Citrina an 8 out of 10.BFS-Citrina group

KNIGHTMARE BATMAN (2016)

POP-Batman Knightmare fullFUNKO POP!

I try to stick to toy reviews on this site but every now and again I’ll sneak a movie review in disguised as a toy review. I don’t think I ever shared my thoughts on 2013’s Man of Steel so allow me to now… Hated it.

I love me some Superman and I was excited to see it initially but what a boring piece of crap that was. I could go on and on about the things I didn’t like about it (it was grim, it was long, Superman let his dad die, Ma and Pa Kent were kinda dicks, Superman killed Zod and destroyed a city in the process, Amy Adams sucked, etc. etc.) but I won’t bother.

When it was announced that a sequel was being made called “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” I was concerned for many reasons (they were trying to build a shared universe on a super weak foundation, they were adapting a comic about Superman and Batman’s final meeting into a movie about their first meeting thus diminishing the conflict and starting the DC cinematic universe off with an aged Batman, they were planning on cramming in multiple {thus underdeveloped} characters, etc. etc.) and yet I went and saw it anyway like a chump.POP-Batman Knightmare back

I enjoyed BvS more than Man of Steel but just barely. I still thought it was riddled with problems but it wasn’t a pile of  garbage like MOS was. As I feared, BvS was too long and too dark. They introduced too many characters in an effort to rush the Justice League together and it felt forced, character motivations were largely absent, Doomsday was completely generic, and {SPOILER ALERT} they tagged the Death of Superman storyline onto the end and it didn’t have nearly the impact it should have because in the DC cinematic universe most of the world thinks Superman is a jerk. Plus there was the killing of Jimmy Olsen, the overly goofy Lex Luthor, Batman killing everybody, etc. etc.

I really hope DC get’s its s**t together before the Justice League movies come out but I’m not optimistic.  The first teaser trailer was released this weekend and it did nothing to make me think things are heading in the right direction.

POP-Batman Knightmare side

 

Even though I didn’t love the movie I do love this figure based on it. This “Knightmare” version of Batman appeared in a dream sequence that foreshadowed the coming of Darkseid. It was one of the most out of place scenes in the movie that I’m sure left casual movie goers completely confused. Even I, a seasoned comic nerd, was left scratching my head. I’m not interested in collecting any of the DC Direct/Mattel figures from this dour movie but I couldn’t resist picking up this adorable little version of Batman in his trenchcoat and goggles from Funko.

I seem to have started a sub-collection of Batmen figures within my larger POP! collection. This is now the fourth Batman I’ve acquired and I’m still hoping to pick up the BvS armoured version as well.  As much as I love the trench coat, the neckerchief, the goggles, and the dirt spatter, it’s the 5 o’clock shadow that really won me over. Who doesn’t love a stubbly Batman. I’m quite certain that this figure is the best thing to come out of Batman v Superman. I would score the movie a 5 (Man of Steel gets a 2) but this figure gets an 8 out of 10.POP-Batman Knightmare Batmen

AIR DEVIL v.2 (2016)

Joe-Air Devil v2 fullG. I. JOE

I really need to get back into the habit of blogging because I have been acquiring a ton of cool toys lately. Earlier this week I picked up two Funko Pop! figures and two Marvel Legends and then a couple of days ago my 2016 G.I. Joe Convention box set arrived in the mail. I pre-ordered this set back in March and it was made available for pick-up to Con attendees the weekend of June 16-19.  As a non-attendee I had to wait for the Collector’s Club to ship my set out after the Con. I’m pretty stoked to have this year’s set in hand a mere month after the convention because last year I think two or three months passed before I finally got my set.  Last years set was so late that I kind of lost my enthusiasm for it by the time it arrived; as evidenced by the fact that I’ve only reviewed 3 of the 11 figures so far (Wreckage, Lifeline, & Stalker). This year I’m going to try to get all the figures reviewed in a timely manner.

For my first 2016 Joe Con review I’ve selected Air Devil, Cobra’s front line aerial assault combatants. This figure was one of the set’s two army builders so there were 3 identical Air Devils included in the set.

1992 Air Devil

1992 Air Devil

I’ve told you many times before that I stopped collecting Joes in 1990. It’s probably more accurate to say I quit collecting in ’89 since I only acquired a single 1990 figure. For that reason I have little to no nostalgic attachment to the figures released between 1990 and 1994 (when the line ended). The original Air Devil was released in 1992 as part of the “Air Commandos” sub-set which was a continuation of the “Sky Patrol” sub-set launched in 1990. I didn’t own any of the Air Commandos or Sky Patrol figures myself but my little brother Brian had a couple and one of them was Air Devil. I liked Air Devil. He had a unique design with a strikingly colourful uniform. It was odd to have the face exposed on a Cobra Trooper but that was part of the figure’s appeal.

When the Club announced that Sky Patrol would be the theme of their 2016 convention set I wasn’t exactly jumping for joy. I was hoping for Battle Force 2000 vs Cobra La even though I knew it was a long shot. However, I wouldn’t say I was disappointed by the Sky Patrol decision. The Club has managed to create some great sets out of concepts I wasn’t thrilled about before (Eco Warriors, Tiger Force) so I trusted they’d pull off another desirable set. The revamped Sky Patrol figure I was most looking forward to was Air Devil.Joe-Air Devil v2 back

Now that I have the set in hand I think I was right to be excited about Air Devil because he’s my favourite figure in the set. No new parts were used to create this figure so there’s nothing we haven’t seen before but it looks fantastic and its free of the issues that plague other figures in the set such as ill-fitting accessories.

Air Devil is constructed with the torso and legs of Jungle Viper, the arms of Alley Viper, and a head that was first used for Night Fox in 2012 and most recently for Sightline in 2015. The pieces come together relatively well and do a decent job of recreating the look of the ’92 Air Devil figure. The most glaring difference is the head. The modern AD doesn’t have the exposed mouth and nose that made the original so unique. I kind of wish his face was exposed for consistency’s sake  but this is a great head sculpt and it feels more “Cobra Trooper” than the original did. This guy fits into Cobra’s established rank and file seamlessly.Joe-Air Devil v2 side

For accessories Air Devil comes with a display base, a pistol that can be holstered on his ankle, a knife that can be sheathed on his wrist (awesome), a rifle,  a glider backpack, and a face shield. The weapons are all fine but nothing to call home about. We’ve seen the  backpack a few times before so it’s nothing revolutionary but its fold up/pop-out wing design is neat, it has a cool new Cobra logo with a Devil’s tail, and serves as an adequate replacement to the large Cobra glider the original AD came with. The face shield is an odd thing. Apparently the ’92 figure had one but Brian never had it with his (he got it secon-hand) so I was never aware of it. I’m guessing Air Devils wore them to keep bugs out of their mouths or something which made sense when their faces was exposed but makes less sense now that they’re fully covered. I find the shield too large and clunky and it detracts from the look of the figure so I’ve opted to display only 1 of my Air Devil’s with his shield on.Joe-Air Devil v2 shield

 

In conclusion this is a very nice figure that starts the 2016 Convention Set off on the right foot. He’s not the home run 2014’s Toxo-Vipers were but he’s close. 9 out of 10.Joe-Air Devil v2 squad

MALLEUS (2016)

Myth-Mallus full MYTHIC LEGIONS

My reviews have been few and far between these days. There are various reasons for that but a lack of cool action figures is not one of them. I still have a boat load of Vitruvian Hacks figures to review, new Marvel Legends, new Star Wars Black Series, new Transformers, and new Pop! vinyls; not to mention the thousands of older toys in my collection I’ve yet to review. However, what brings me to the blog today is a brand new line of action figures from Four Horsemen Studios.

Myth-Malleus head

The Horsemen are a group of sculptors who started out making action figures for companies like McFarlane Toys and Mattel but who later branched out on their own. Through their own company the’ve produced some excellent licensed properties like the Outer Space Men and wholly original lines like Gothitropolis.  Their newest line is the fantasy-based Mythic Legions.

The Horsemen launched a kickstarter campaign to fund the project on February 9, 2015. They were offering 22 different figures at a price of $45 each. As the funding increased they added new figures and accessories until they ended up with an assortment of 34 different characters. I would’ve loved to get them all, or at least a dozen or so, but money doesn’t grow on trees. I’d went all-in on 3 prior action figure kickstarter campaigns (Marauder Task Force, Vitruvian Hacks, and Marauder Valkyries) and my wallet was starting to feel the crunch.  I selected 4 figures and called it a day. Overall, 1,166 backers pledged $452,528 to make the campaign a huge success.Myth-Malleus all-in

I’ve become accustomed to long delays on kickstarter produced figures. So much so that when my Mythic Legion figures arrived last week (only 3 months behind schedule) it seemed like a very quick turn around.

I expected no less from the Four Horsemen but all four of my Mythic Legion selections are spectacular. Now I’m kicking myself for not buying at least a couple more. I chose 3 skeleton warriors and a yellow demon dude for some variety.  Some of the orcs and knights would’ve been cool but I’m mostly regretting not buying the other 3 skeletons.  A whole army of these undead warriors would’ve be sweet.

Myth-Malleus back

All the Legions figures come on resealable blister cards with original artwork on both sides and a brief history of the ML world on the back. On the side of the packaging is a character specific bio. Malleus is described as underworld royalty, the son of Necronominus. He’s a devout follower of his father’s scripture and he quickly dispatches those you stray from the path. Pretty cool.

The figure is a real beauty in both sculpting and paint applications. He’s covered in jagged armor that truly looks like weathered metal. Every single rivet has been painted; the Horsemen didn’t cut any corners. Many pieces of his armor such as the removable shoulder pads, neck guard, and loin cloth are sculpted in rubbery plastic so they don’t hinder his movement. The two shades of green mixed in amongst the blacks and greys really make this figure pop. The paint work on his bones is pretty great too making him appear grubby and aged.

Proud Papa

Proud Papa

The head sculpt is beyond cool. Of the three skeletons Malleus is the only one with an articulated jaw which I love. He’s cracked and missing teeth and with his mouth open he looks nuts. I totally buy into him being a religious zealot.

Then there’s the weapons. Malleus comes with two insane looking battle axes. These things are pure badassery. They have multiple paint apps and are completely customizable. You can make them double or single bladed and you can change the fixtures at both ends.  I think he came with a sword or two as well but I’ve already decided he’ll be displayed with the two double bladed axes.

Myth-Malleus boot

 

Malleus has loads of articulation and he’s a good solid figure. He has the coolest boots I’ve ever seen and I love him. A few of these Mythic Legions figures are currently available at BigBadToyStore. I’d highly recommend you grab as many as you can. 10 out of 10.Myth-Malleus armyMyth-Malleus Skeletor