Monthly Archives: April 2017

SALVO v.3 (2017)

G. I. JOE FIGURE SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE 5.0

Shortly before I moved out of my apartment I received a package from the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club containing the two latest subscription figures. Since I was already in the process of boxing up all my belongings the new Joes just got tossed into a box. I didn’t get a chance to open them until I was settled into the new house. So now, nearly a month later, I finally get to enjoy my new Darklon and Salvo.

The original Salvo was released in 1990, the year I quit collecting Joes as a kid. Rampart was the only figure I bought that year. I did think Salvo was neat looking with his bizarre helmet and massive weapons but even as a kid I thought his “The Right of Might” t-shirt was pretty cheesy.  Since I never owned the original I have no real attachment to the character. I didn’t even get version 2 when it was released in 2005 despite the fact that I was back into collecting Joes big time by then. Salvo simply wasn’t on my radar as an essential member of the team.

version 1 (1990) pic from YoJoe.com

Regardless, I was excited to hear that Salvo was slated to be included in the Club’s 5th figure subscription service. I’m happy any time I can add a unique character to my modern-era collection.  My initial excitement quickly dissipated though once the Club revealed their photoshop prototype. Salvo looked like a scrawny little wiener. I wasn’t the only one underwhelmed by the reveal. Joe fans decried the horrible figure on every G.I. Joe site on the internet.  The Club quickly responded to the backlash by promising to go back to the drawing board.  What they came back with was a huge improvement and resulted in the figure you see here today.

Improvements aside, this figure is still far from perfect.   The arms, torso, and upper legs are all reused from a Dwayne Johnson Roadblock figure which makes perfect sense given that Salvo was always drawn as a muscly tough guy in the comics and cartoon. But I wish the Club had reused the entire Roadblock body. Instead they swapped out the lower legs for those of a Channing Tatum Duke.

The lower leg swap results in Salvo having wonky knees that can’t be fully straightened and poorly angled  ankles which make it nearly impossible to keep him standing on his own. The original lower legs would have worked out just fine and made for a much more solid figure. The Club’s poor decision means I have to keep Salvo hunched and backwards on his stand to keep him standing up.Reusing the Hit & Run head from the Club’s 2013 Night Force set was an inspired choice that no one expected. There aren’t many bald heads for the Club to choose from so I think most fans were expecting to see Serpentor’s head (which probably would’ve worked out okay too). The Hit & Run head had painted hair before but there’s no sculpted hairline so it works out perfectly for a bald dude and the variation keeps Salvo from looking like a clone of Hit & Run.

 

As for Salvo’s accessories, I’m okay with the fact that the Club didn’t replicate the original’s ridiculous shoulder-mounted 5 missile rocket launcher or massive mine launcher but I know others were disappointed. The Club still managed to arm him with an oversized shoulder cannon (as seen in the prototype pic above) but it only has one spring loaded missile.  It’s an ugly weapon but Salvo can’t support the thing due to his knee and ankle problems anyway so I chucked it into the extra parts bins never to be seen again. At least he comes with a pistol that he can carry or holster on his leg so he isn’t completely defenceless. Salvo also has a briefcase as the original did, a display stand, and his iconic helmet. I really thought the Club would have to sculpt a new piece in order to recreate this distinctive feature of the original but instead they just reused Sci-Fi’s helmet and it works surprisingly well.

 

The colors on this figure are true to the original and thankfully they’re toned down from the overly bright photoshop mock-up.  The Club even made the right choice of using the 1990 font on his silly t-shirt instead of the stiff text they showed on the mock up.

I wish this figure could stand up straight and hold his weapon but as long as he’s leaning I think he’s pretty cool. I really appreciate the fact that the Club responded to fan feedback and improved this figure before going into production. Had we gotten their first attempt I’d probably give Salvo a 3 or 4 but as is I give this a figure a 7 out of 10.  

HARLEY QUINN (SPACESUIT) 2017

DC DESIGNER SERIES: AMANDA CONNER

I’ve been settled into my new house for a month now. If you saw my last post you know that most of my toys are unpacked and the man-cave is looking great. I don’t know if I’ll start posting reviews on the regular again but I’ve got a little time to kill this evening and I got a cool new figure today so I thought I’d write my first review in the new house.

Harley Quinn first appeared on Batman: The Animated Series in the early 90s. I was a fan of the show, and though I didn’t watch it religiously, I liked Harley Quinn right away. She had a fun, court jester style costume which worked really well for her role as a love interest/henchman of the joker. True, she was a little annoying but her outlandish enthusiasm suited her since she was supposed to be absolutely nuts.

Harley was brought into the main DC comics universe in 1999 by way of an original graphic novel. I found the comic book version even better than the animated version.  She wasn’t as goofy and you could read her dialogue free of the annoying animated series voice. Bruce Timm’s animated jester design translated perfectly to the more detailed comic book medium courtesy of top-tier artists like Jim Lee and Terry Dodson. I had wanted to add a Harley Quinn action figure to my collection for many years but the cartoon based ones didn’t fit in with my existing DC crew and I missed out on the comic figure based on Jim Lee’s popular “Hush” storyline. She was a little too pricey for me on the secondary market and for years that Hush figure was the only 6″ Harley Quinn option.  Oh how times have changed.

I finally got my first Harley Quinn figure in 2014. It was based on her “edgy” New 52 redesign. I was happy with the figure at the time and gave it an 8 out of 10. If I were to review that figure today I’d likely give it a 4.  There are far superior options out there now, it constantly falls over, and I just don’t care much for that costume choice. A year later I got a new Harley based on her 2013 roller derby redesign. It was a much better costume which was designed by artist Amanda Conner. I was very pleased with that figure at the time and gave it a 9 out of 10. Nowadays I’d probably bump it down to a 7. The figure had a lot of good attributes, such as removable roller skates, but the weird face and stumpy neck were not among them.

In my review of Derby Harley I mentioned that I’d been hoping for figures based on Amanda Conner’s art for years and it seemed as though that was as close as I was gonna get. Well here we are just a couple of years later and DC Collectibles has offered up a whole series Harley figures based on Conner’s distinctive artwork (I’m still waiting on Power Girl though). I’m so happy to see Conner get her due. I’ve been a big fan of hers since 2002’s “The Pro”. I wish she still drew comics on the regular but it seems like she’s content just doing covers and writing these days.

I eagerly pre-ordered all 4 Conner Harley Quinns when they were offered on BigBadToyStore about a year ago. However, once the initial excitement wore off I calmed down and questioned whether I really needed 4 more Harley Quinns…because I don’t think I even like this character anymore.

 

I have tried on several occasions to read Harley Quinn comics and I just can’t get into them.  They’re stupid. Too stupid for me. I really wanted to like them because of my past affection for the character but I just can’t.  On top of that, the character’s popularity seems to have reached a critical mass and she has completely saturated the market. She’s everywhere.  But the straw that finally broke the Harley camel’s back was that goddamn turd of a Suicide Squad movie. After that I was done.  I cancelled my figure pre-orders.

Harley hate aside, I still love Amanda Conner so I told myself I’d let myself pick up 1 of the 4 figures once I saw them in store and decided on a favourite. They recently hit stores in my area and the winner was spacesuit Harley. This figure is based on a specific storyline (as are the other figures in this series) which I did not read. The entire body design is faithful to Conner’s artwork but the Conner-ness is most evident in the face. She draws such beautiful and expressive faces so this is where the sculptors really needed to nail it and I think they were successful. This type of facial sculpting is what was sorely lacking on the derby figure. The wide eyes, exuberant smile, and flowing hair all do Conner justice and the delicate paint apps seal the deal.

This figure has a vibrant paint job, plenty of articulation, and fun accessories. She comes with a display base, removable space helmet, a cork space rife with a stretchy phone-cord like rope, and some sort of evil space pizza. The pizza doesn’t mean much to me but I’m sure somebody out there will appreciate it. This figure has mended enough of the damage done by Warner Bros’ Suicide Squad that I may even allow myself to buy one more from this series. I may not feel this way forever but, as of right now, this is the Harley Quinn figure I’ve been waiting for. 10 out of 10.

MANCAVE RELOADED

I realize I’ve been pretty slack on the blogging lately so I apologize to my regular readers for the lack of content. As per usual, the dry spell isn’t due to a lack of cool new action figures, I’ve been adding to my collection weekly, it’s more a result of me being busy and lazy. The busiest thing I’ve been up to since you last heard from me was buying a house.  Big time grown up stuff.

Vanessa and I bought our first home in the neighbourhood I grew up in. I was a little reluctant to move back to the home town but it’s a pretty sweet house and it’s kind of nice to be around the corner from my folks. We’ve been here for about three weeks and I’m finally unpacked enough that I feel comfortable sharing some pics with you.

The home is a split entry and Vanessa has granted me free reign to decorate the downstairs however I please. The lower floor consists of a large den/wreck room, a bathroom, garage, storage areas, and one bedroom. I would’ve loved to fill the den with toys but our cat, Buster, can’t be trusted not to chew on things sitting on open shelves. Therefore, I had to cram almost all of my figures into the one bedroom.  It’s a little more space than I had in my last apartment but still not nearly enough to display all of my collectibles. I managed to unbox quite a bit of stuff but I still have multiple tote bins that will have to stay in storage.

In the den I have a couple of bookcases full of graphic novels and 6 plexi-glass cases of figures mounted to the wall (safe from Buster).  I plan to hang most of my nerdy art in that room as well to make it feel like my own but I haven’t done that yet. I’m still very nervous about putting holes in the walls of my new house. In my apartment I used the plexi cases to display my 3 3/4″ Marvel Universe figures. This time around I’ve opted for more variety: only one Marvel case, one Star Wars, one Gundam, one 200-era G.I. Joe, and a couple miscellaneous. 

The true man-cave/bedroom features shelving units for both modern-era Joes and Cobras. Two Transformer bookcases,  two shelves for POPs, two 3-shelf units for Masters of the Universe, one for Marvel Legends, and one for DC. I’ve got my Ninja Turtles and 6″ Star Wars Black Series figures on a couple little cases and I installed a couple of floating shelves for my Vitruvian Hacks.

Lastly I mounted three small plexi-cases of Battle Beasts then pinned a bunch of carded figures to the wall to create a boarder just like I did in the apartment. It’s coming together quite well and I’m pretty happy with the results. Tweaks will be coming over the next few months but for now the man-cave is born anew. Enjoy.