Category Archives: Collections

TOP 18 ACTION FIGURES OF 2018

A full year has passed since I last updated this blog so I guess it’s fair to say that I’m no longer a blogger; but that doesn’t mean I’m no longer a collector. I’ve been buying just as many, if not more, toys than ever and if you’d like to see what I’ve been collecting you should follow me on instagram (under the name “mikescollectionhalifax”). I post pictures of everything I buy so it’s a much more accurate reflection of my growing collection than this blog ever was. There was simply no way I could keep up with writing about every toy I bought and if I didn’t have time to write about it then you never saw it. With instagram I simply provide a few quick comments and let the pictures speak for themselves. But for my annual “best of” list I wanted to share more comments than instagram can accommodate so I have returned to the blogosphere. Before I begin I’ll lay down the usual ground rules; this list is comprised only of action figures that I actually own and that were released in 2018. That may seem limiting but even within those guidelines this list was not easy to do (I had nearly 300 figures to choose from). Just to give you an idea of what you’ll find here, I collect G.I. Joes, Transformers, Masters of the Universe, Funko POPs, Star Wars Black Series, Marvel Legends, and a few other odds and ends. Let the countdown begin…

18. The Thing: Marvel Legends – Hasbro has been absolutely killing it with their Marvel Legends line the past few years. We’re getting more figures of well-known and obscure characters than I can keep up with and the quality is almost always superb. The sculpts, the paint apps, the articulation, the build-a-figure components…all great! The only real complaint I have is that there are SO many awesome figures that they may bankrupt me. I had to leave a slew of those amazing figures off this list (Mysterio, Storm, Silver Surfer, Lizard, Cobra, Spider-Man Noir just to name a few) but a few of them could not be ignored. First up is the Fantastic Four’s Thing. Ol’ Ben Grimm here was a Walgreens exclusive in the US but fortunately EB Games carried him here in Canada so I managed to snag one. There have been plenty of Thing figures in the past but I think this one is the first to get everything right. The size, the colour, the outfit, and the shape and feel of his rocky skin are all exactly how I would want them. The fact that he has interchangeable heads (neutral and angry) and hands (open and fists) is just icing on the cake.

17. Dylamug: Masters of the Universe Classics – I consider myself to be pretty well versed in MOTU lore but my knowledge is in no way encyclopedic. For example, when Super7 announced that Dylamug would be one of their new figures this year I had no idea who he was. Apparently he appeared in 3 episodes of the She-Ra cartoon back in the 80s but I don’t remember him. Or maybe I do. There is a familiarity about him but I certainly didn’t remember any details such as his name. The fact that this figure does not scratch any particular nostalgic itch makes it all the more impressive that I like it so much. Sometimes my objective opinion is clouded by nostalgia, as later entries on this list will show, but I love this figure based solely on it’s awesomeness. The MOTU figure line is full of unique characters but most of them share the same basic construction. Dylamug however is made up of completely unique pieces so he looks nothing like any of the other figures on my MOTU shelf. The Man-E-Faces like spinning facial wheels is a super fun feature that actually works as opposed to the often simulated recreations of vintage play features. The robotic body is simple and streamlined and does a good job of making him appear animated. My favourite attribute is the clear plastic fuse bulbs on the top of his head that make him look like a legit electronic.

16. Rampart: G.I. Joe – 2018 is the final year for the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club. A lot of people really hate on the Club online but despite their often questionable decisions, inflated prices, and factory errors I’m sad to see them go. They’ve given us more Joe figures than Hasbro the last couple of years and many of them have been great. Whether Rampart is one of the great ones is debatable but this is one of those instances where nostalgia wins out over common sense. The original 1990 Rampart holds the distinction of being the last G.I. Joe figure I bought as a kid. It seems odd to me now though because, even though I was 12 at the time and should have logically been losing interest in toys, I really loved that figure and I remember playing with it a lot. I don’t know why I didn’t buy any more Joes after that. Anyway, I’m so glad the Club provided me with a modern version of him before they closed their doors. Sure it’s 100% made up of pre-existing parts including reusing Blocker’s head but the parts work really well together and it absolutely looks like Rampart even if it isn’t completely faithful to the original design.

15. Abominus: Transformers: Power of the Primes – Of the 5 Terrorcons that combine to create Abominus I only owned one of the original toys as a kid and that was Ripper Snapper. Similar to Rampart, Ripper Snapper was one of the last vintage Transformers I got as a kid so I have a specific connection to him. I loved the idea of him but unfortunately the actual toy left a lot to be desired which I found was often the case with Transformers back then. He was short and stubby and he basically had no articulation. So I was super stoked to get a bigger, better, fully articulated version in 2018. It’s not often that I like both modes of a Transformer because I’m not into vehicles  but with Ripper Snapper both modes are awesome. His robot face and colours look great on a shelf but how could you not love his legged shark monster mode. I was going to give this slot to Ripper Snapper alone but then at the last minute I decided to cheat and let him share the slot with the other 4 Terrorcons which I also acquired this year. They’re all similarly great in both configurations and their combined mode is sweet too. If not for my childhood ties to Rip/Snap, Cutthroat might’ve been my favourite as he’s all kinds of cool.

14. Mosasaurus-Jurrasic World: Fallen Kingdom – I was one of those kids who was really into dinosaurs. It’s a passion that never went away but it’s near impossible to keep up with all the new species they keep discovering.  The first time I “saw” a Mosasaurus was in the BBC documentary series “Waling with Dinosaurs” and I was blown away. How had I never heard of this thing before? Why weren’t there rubber toys of him available to buy anywhere? I was giddy when I first saw the trailer for Jurassic World and one of these bad boys leaps out of the water to bite a shark in half. The Indominus Rex was cool and all but I think this guy stole the show. The Mosssaurus also had a goosebump inducing scene in the trailer to the sequel but unfortunately I found Fallen Kingdom to be a let down and the trailer scene was a tease with no payoff. Mediocre movie aside this toy rules. It could’ve been a solid hunk of plastic and I would’ve loved it but the articulated fins, rubbery skin, and articulated jaw really put this thing over the top. Not to mention the size of it. I would’ve loved to have had this thing in the pool with me when I was a kid, having it attack the G.I. Joe Hovercraft or swallow up the Cobra raft. Super cool.

13. Gwendolynne Heavensbrand: Mythic Legions Advent of Decay – This year was relatively quiet for me as far as kickstarters go. In the past few years I’ve backed several campaigns and have acquired a ton of wicked figures as a result. But I don’t have anything new from either Boss Fight Studios or Marauder Task Force to share with you this year. The only “indie” toys I bought this year came courtesy of the Four Horsemen and their Mythic Legions fantasy based line.  I’m not really a fantasy guy and these figures are expensive so I keep telling myself that I’m going to stop buying them but every time the Horsemen unveil new ones I get sucked right back in. In fact I just preordered 3 of their upcoming 9″ troll figures last week. I’m mostly interested in the creatures and haven’t generally felt the need to buy the human characters. However I made an exception with Gwen because she just looks so damn good. The attention to detail is immaculate but it was the paint job that really won me over here. The gold and purple look very regal and I knew she’d be a showstopper on my shelf. The working visor on the helmet is fantastic but I appreciate that they included an alternate helmetless head as well. A slew of additional accessories make this figure a surefire win.

12. Spider-Ham: Marvel Legends – This pick is most definitely skewed by very thick nostalgia goggles. This thirty dollar toy is about 2.5″ tall and lacks any leg articulation. It’s basically a ridiculously overpriced Smurf and it has no business being on a “best action figures of the year” list. And yet, I had to resist the urge to make it number one. The same month I started collecting Spider-Man comics in 1986 I also started collecting Spider-Ham comics so I’ve loved this little dude for as long as I’ve loved comic books. I collected his whole 19 issue series, a few one-shots, and his back-up stories in Marvel Tales. But it wasn’t until 2014 that he was introduced into the “real” Marvel Universe by way of a Multi-Universe spanning storyline called Spider-verse which brought all of the various versions of Spider-Man together to fight a common foe. Now, 4 years later, he’s a prominent character in the Spider-Verse animated movie. It blows my mind that these obscure things I loved as a kid are so mainstream now. I’m very glad Hasbro didn’t make this version fat to match his appearance in the movie though as the Ham I read about as a kid was never fat. This figure is vibrant, the sculpt is great (I love the little mouth ) and it just oozes fun. I wish it moved more but I’m just thrilled that it even exists.

11. Crystal Ball: G.I. Joe – A lot of Joes fans like the militaristic aspects of the brand so characters like Crystal Ball, the Cobra hypnotist originally released in 1987, aren’t always well received. However, I was a 9 year old Canadian kid in 1987 and I didn’t give a crap whether Crystal Ball was authentic to the United States military or not; I just liked cool toys. In my opinion Crystal Ball was very cool and his lenticular hypno-sheild accessory was awesome. This updated version from the Collector’s Club is pretty close to the original and any changes they had to make due to the limited parts they had available don’t hurt him in any way. The thigh high boots that morph into his pants are kinda weird but I think it’s all believable as eccentric gypsy-wear. The Club doesn’t often spend money to have brand new parts made but thankfully they did to give Crystal Ball a unique head. I think they may have went a little overly cartoony with it but I think it adds to his eccentricity and I ultimately like it. My modern Joe shelf would not have felt complete without  Crystal Ball so this figure fills a void in both my collection and my heart.

10. Predaking: Transformers: Power of the Primes – Once again I’m cheating by lumping 5 Transformers into one slot. The difference here is though, while any of the 5 Terrorcons could have been granted slot 15, none of the individual Predacons that make up Predaking would make this list. The Predacons have been at the top of my want list for years so I was very happy when this box set was announced. That joy diminished some when I saw the price point and then it turned into straight-up sorrow when I opened the box. There are some serious flaws with these Predacons, like huge blocks of undisguised connector parts, and that really isn’t cool given the price. I don’t know why they didn’t just make all the “kibble” removable like the fists and feet. Razorclaw the lion is the only one that doesn’t piss me off. That said, the fully combined Predaking is a thing of beauty. Sure it’s hard to play with but it’s an impressive 18″ tall and with it’s bold colours and golden wings it’s more of a conversation piece than any other toy on this list.

9. Budo: G.I. Joe – The original Budo was released in 1988 and he’s another figure that likely annoyed collectors who wanted Joe to stick to it’s military roots. Budo is the Joe team’s Samurai Warrior which admittedly doesn’t make much f**king sense but I was a kid so I thought he was great in 1988 and I still think he’s great now. Hasbro gave us a modern take on him in 2013 but other than the fact that it was a samurai figure it bared little resemblance to the Budo of old. Had the Collector’s Club never taken a stab at him I could’ve rested easy at least knowing that there was some sort of modern-era Budo in my collection but I’m very thankful that the Club felt that a more vintage accurate version was needed; now I can truly sleep soundly. This figure pissed a lot of Joe fans off this year because the Club decided to glue the helmet to his head and they replaced his combat boots with socks but those things don’t really bother me. I think the new head sculpt is youthful and reminiscent of the original, the helmet is big but it looks good and the glue keeps it from falling off (which would annoy me more than the glue), the colours are bright, and he came with a good selection of bladed weapons. It’s a shame a toy this fun isn’t available in stores for kids to enjoy.

8. Deathlok: Marvel Legends – Deathlok is a rather obscure Marvel character originally created in  1974. Back then he was Luthor Manning, a reanimated soldier. However, I didn’t discover the character until Marvel rebooted him in 1990. The new version was Michael Collins, a scientist who unwillingly had his brain transplanted into the Deathlok cyborg. Thats’s the version I grew up with and as far as I’m concerned that’s who this figure represents though I think it’s technically supposed to be the Manning version. I didn’t start collecting Marvel Legends until just a few years ago but one of the first ones I bought was their first attempt at Deathlok more than a decade ago. I just thought it was such a good figure of a character I love that I had to have it even though I wasn’t collecting the line at the time. That figure may have seemed good at the time but it completely blows when compared to the modern ML figures. It would stick out like a sore thumb if I tried to display it with the current generation of figures so I’m glad Hasbro opted to revisit Deathlok this year. This figure is incredible. I know I sound like a broken record but the sculpt, the paint, the articulation, and the accessories are all perfect. I love the stoic expression on his face. This dude looks like a total badass. I’m almost tempted to buy a second one so I can display them as Manning and Michaels. It’s that good.

7. Gryshaa The Slytherer: Mythic Legions Advent of Decay – When the Horsemen revealed their “Advent of Decay” wave of figures for their second major Mythic Legions kickstarter there were over 40 new characters to choose from. The one that immediately caught my eye was Gryshaa. As I mentioned above I’m not really into fantasy stuff so Orcs and Elves don’t really do it for me but this dude did not look like a sword and sorcery based character to me. I honestly don’t know what he looks like other than Red Square with pants on. He’s slender and spooky with no visible skin. He could be a man or a woman, a skeleton, a monster, a robot…anything really. Even the brief bio included on the packaging kept things mysterious. Gryshaa is like the Boba Fett of the Mythic Legions universe. The detailing in the sculpt is top-notch and the paint work showcases all those details beautifully. The colours work really well together and the 4 different bladed accessories provide Gryshaa with ample ways to dispatch the other figures on my shelf. It’s a work of art as much as it is an action figure.

6. W.O.R.M.S: G.I. Joe – The original Worms (Weapons Ordinance Rugged Machine Specialists) figure was released in 1987 as the driver of the Cobra Maggot. The driver represented a new trooper for Cobra and the file card even said they operated in crews of 4. However, as kids my brother Doug and I only had one in our collection (and it was his). Doug opted to make Worms a unique character and, along with my Ice-Viper whom  I also deemed a unique character, they were the toughest S.O.B.s in the Cobra organization. It was silly how tough we made these guys, flipping tanks with their bare hands and whatnot. So even though I never personally owned a Worms figure as a kid I have always viewed him as a key member of Cobra. I am so glad the Club released this figure before they lost the Joe license at year’s end. Ice-Viper would’ve been so lonely on the shelf without him. Personal fondness for the character aside, this is a really sharp figure. The sleeveless jacket is a little weird but that’s a limitation of the modern-era design and not unique to Worms. I think the Club did the best they could with what they had. The torso of the jacket is a pretty close approximation of the ’87 sculpt and the addition of a real cloth ascot shows that the Club went the extra mile to be vintage accurate. I’m especially thankful that they were able to retool the original Rocketeer looking helmet rather than give us some half-assed substitute. I only wish these guys weren’t so damn expensive so that I could get one for Doug.

5. Fangor: Master’s of the Universe Classics – When Mattel stopped making MOTU Classics figures and handed the license off to Super7 I really though it would mean I could stop buying so many MOTU figures. Mattel had already made all the core characters so that left Super7 with a bunch of C-list characters to work with. To my surprise they’ve managed to make some pretty awesome figures out of those less than memorable characters. Fangor here is a perfect example. He’s a just some obscure Snake-Man that no one’s ever heard of and they’ve turned him into one of my all-time favourite MOTU figures. His design and colours are great and perfectly snakey. His accessories, include a flying snake pet, a tool set, and an interchangeable head so you can adjust the length of his fangs; all of which are awesome. This is what toys are all about.

4. Optimus Prime: Transformers: Power of the Primes – For years I’ve been looking for a definitive Optimus Prime figure. I’ve got some that look decent but the size isn’t right and the ones that look really good are just too expensive. Just this week I was eyeballing the new “Siege” version in Toys R Us and I’m thinking I may need to get it because it’s pretty great. But as of right now I’m still in the honeymoon phase with this Power of the Primes version. Not only is he the perfect size in my opinion, but he manages to transform into both the cab of the truck and the trailer without any additional pieces hanging around. It’s a good representation of the G1 look, it’s got a Matrix of Leadership accessory, and best-of-all there’s a version of Orion Pax hidden within. It has long been established that prior to being Optimus, the leader of the Autobots, he was just a dude named Orion and this is what he looked like in that form back in the 80s cartoon. I love this gimmick and as happy as I am to finally have such a great Optimus i actually have him displayed as Orion. I really love it.

3. Brontus: Mythic Legions: Coliseum  – While I was still waiting for my Advent of Decay figures to arrive, the Four Horsemen offered up a much smaller third wave of figures they dubbed “Coliseum”. I ordered 3 of the figures and they showed up months before the Decay figures did so perhaps smaller waves is the way to go. The warrior and skeleton figures were cool but nothing I hadn’t seen before. Brontus however is the first troll I’ve ordered so even though he’s mostly just a repaint of the two prior trolls he’s all new to me and he is spectacular. The trolls were too fantasy based for me but Brontus being a cyclops makes him seem more mythological and that’s more up my alley. I could totally see this 12″ brute going to battle against my Boss Fight Studios Grecian warriors and gorgons. The sculpt and paint are obviously great but the fur loin cloth, the metal chain, and the club weapon made from a troll skull all help to enhance this already amazing toy. Oftentimes I feel ripped off spending so much on action figures that fail to wow but you always get your money’s worth from the Horsemen. Cash well spent.

 

2. Mer-Man: Master’s of the Universe Classics – My favourite MOTU character has always been Mer-Man. I loved my original 80s toy, I loved my 2002 figure, and I loved both my green and blue Classics versions. I really didn’t think I needed another version of this guy but as soon as they started making cartoon accurate toys a couple years ago I’ve been anxiously awaiting for them to announce Mer-Man. I finally got my Filmation Mer-Man this year and he does not disappoint. He looks like he leapt right off of an animation cel. The head sculpt is pure joy. The colours are flat and the design is simple just as they should be for a cartoon based toy. I actually think that if you were to own only one Mer-Man figure it should maybe be this one.

 

1. Obsidian Fury: Pacific Rim: Uprising – I realize that Pacific Rim 2 wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea but I absolutely loved it. I appreciate how fun it is. It wasn’t bogged down by all the world building and mumbo-jumbo science of the first movie (which I also love). This is the type of film I can throw in the bluray player any day of the week and enjoy it. I’m much more of a monster guy than a robot guy so the first time I saw it I was a little disappointed to learn that the bad guy through the first 2/3s of the film was a bad robot rather than a monster. But what a robot it is. Obsidian Fury is the Darth Maul of jaegers and the filmmakers seemed to clearly acknowledge that by giving him two laser chainsaws. I think his design is super cool and it was beautifully translated into this figure by Bandai. This toy is way better than any of the jaegers neca produced for the first movie. It’s light and flexible but durable. It’s a ton of fun to pose and play with; it just feels fun. The sculpt and articulation are great and the accessories including those removable chainsaws add to its playability. It may look a little bland but these photos don’t do it justice. There’s matte black and metallic black parts, silver paint apps and translucent orange plastic on the head and accessories. This is just a really slick figure.

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BEAST SAGA

Beast Saga collection

TAKARA

If you’re a regular reader of this blog you know I’ve been looking forward to these Beast Saga figures from Takara for months now.  I pre-ordered the entire first wave back in June from BigBadToyStore as soon as they put them up on their site.

clear variants

clear variants

The Beast Saga figures are, for all intents and purposes, new Battle Beasts figures; the first new series of Battle Beasts figures in almost 25 years.  I loved Battle Beasts as a kid.  I would rank them in my top 5 favorite toy lines of all time; ahead of even huge properties like Marvel and Star Wars.  To be honest they may even be in my top 2, second only to G.I. Joe.  Unfortunately the line never caught on the way Joe or Transformers or Masters of the Universe did.  In large part because there was no cartoon, no comic, little marketing, and the characters weren’t given any personalities or even names for kids to latch onto.  I’ve actually never met anyone else, in all my years collecting toys and hanging out at comic shops, who has a passion for the line like I do.

trading/gaming cards included with each figure

It’s almost hard to imagine now but there was a time when all the properties that I loved as a kid were dead in the water.  No toys, no comics, no cartoons, nothing.  However, as we children of the 80s became young adults with disposable income the toy companies started catering to us, reviving all the awesome 80s toy lines.

Since the early 2000s G.I Joe, G1 Transformers, Masters of the Universe, Star Wars, and other brands have been resurrected and have been going strong.  For years I hoped for a Battle Beasts revival but it seemed unlikely.  There was a glimmer of hope a couple years ago when Diamond Select Toys (DST) acquired the rights to make new Battle Beasts but other than a single Crocodile figure (which was only sold at conventions) they didn’t do anything with the license.  All hope seemed lost again.  And then just a few months ago I found out that not only was DST finally releasing a wave of Battle Beasts figures to retail but so to was the Japanese company Takara who created the original Battle Beast line in the 80s.  To promote the DST line (which is supposed to hit stores in November) IDW has even released a Battle Beasts comic book!  Just a few short months ago I never dared dream that I’d be reading new Battle Beasts comics.  The comic is pretty good and the DST figures show promise but other than the name, they don’t really have much in common with the beloved Battle Beasts of my childhood.   They’re constructed differently with Lego like bodies and there are human characters mixed in.  If the DST figures were to be all that I ever got in the way of new BBs figures I’d be happy to have something new but mostly I’d be disappointed.

WAVE 1: 6 single carded, 2 three-packs, 2 blind boxes

The Beast Saga figures by Takara are a totally different story.  These are the figures I’ve been hoping for and I didn’t even know it.  You see, for years when I dreamt of the possibility of getting new Battle Beast figures, these are not what I envisioned.  I always kind of hoped that some company would release 6″ hyper-detailed and fully articulated versions of the BB characters I had as a kid.  Kinda the way Hasbro has made modern G.I. Joes figures taller more detailed versions of the ones I had as a kid.  Mattel has done the same thing with Masters of the Universe.  The thing is though, when I got the new Joes and new MOTU figures my old ones went into storage.  The new ones were an improvement over the vintage figures and made for better display pieces.  When it comes to the vintage Battle Beasts figures I honestly don’t think they could be improved upon.  A new figure with a few extra inches of height and increased articulation wouldn’t warrant boxing up my old Beasts.  The old sculpts are fantastic as is and they hold up quite well.  It had never occurred to me just how awesome it would be if Takara revived the Battle Beasts line by simply continuing on and making new animals.  Essentially  that’s what they’ve done with Beast Saga and it is awesome.

It’s rather hard to give you much background on the Beast Saga figures since they’ve technically only  been released in Japan and almost everything I can find about them on the internet is written in Japanese.  I’m unsure whether Takara intends for them to officially be a continuation of their Battle Beasts line or something totally different, even though the homage is obvious.  What I have managed to piece together from other blogs and the Beast Saga website is that these creatures live on Planet Beast.  There are three rival factions of animals, the land beasts, the sea beasts and the air beasts.

The original Battle Beasts had a similar play pattern.  They were divided into 3 factions as well: Wood, Fire and Water.  Each beast had a heat activated emblem on their chest that when rubbed would reveal their allegiance.  The intent was for kids to use them as though they were playing paper, rock, scissors.   Fire burns wood, wood floats on water, and water extinguishes fire.  I never used my figures like that; I simply divided them into good and bad guy teams like every other toy line I collected.  The Beast Saga figures do not have the classic rub emblems but instead each figure comes packaged with two dice.  There’s a plastic plunger in each figure’s chest that you pull back to create a cavity to place the dice.  The idea is that you shove the plunger forward which launches the dice from the figure’s chest.  The dice have a variety of symbols and numbers on them and they come in different colors.  I’m unsure of what any of it means.

The back of a blister card

The first wave of figures that I ordered came in a variety of ways.  First there are the single pack figures.  Each comes on a small blister card that is colored either red, blue or green depending on the beasts’s faction.  The graphics in the margin differ depending on the faction as well.  Each single figure comes with 2 dice, a sword, a shield, and a playing card.

I also ordered two 3-packs.  I got a 3-pack of land beasts and a 3-pack of sea beasts.  The air-beasts 3-pack is due out soon.  Each 3 pack comes with 7 dice, sword and shields for each beast, 3 cards, a playmat and instructions.  The instructions have some cutesy manga style graphics but every word of them is written in Japanese so I have no idea what they say.  Clearly these Beast Saga figures are meant to be used in some goofy role-play type of dice game, which I couldn’t care less about.

Playmat

Lastly I ordered 2 blind boxes.  At the time that I pre-ordered these things I had no idea what I was buying so I thought 2 seemed like a good amount.  These are single packed figures but instead of being on blister cards they come in generic sealed boxes so that you don’t know what figure you’re getting.  As it turns out the blind boxes contain the same figures that are available as singles except they’re molded in translucent plastic.  So while my 2 blind figures are basically doubles they’re different enough that I don’t feel like I pissed my money away.

I had actually intended to go into an actual review of one of the toys now but I’ve rambled on so long that I think I will make this my first ever “collection” post where I summarize an entire series of figures instead of one individual toy.  I’ll post a character specific review for you tomorrow.  Needless to say I am very excited about these toys and the potential of the line moving forward.  There are a few issues I have but I’ll save them for the individual reviews.  My first impressions of this new toy line earns them a 9 out of 10.

Blind box