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TOP 16 ACTION FIGURES OF 2016

It’s time once again for my annual “best of” list; a tradition I began in 2012. I posted fewer toy reviews this year than I ever have before but that does not mean I purchased fewer action figures. My collection continued to grow by leaps and bounds in 2016 and as always it was very difficult for me to pick my favourites but pick them I did. The only criteria I had for toys to be named on this list was that they must have been released in 2016 and I must have acquired them personally. So without further ado let’s get started…

2016-sneak-peek16. TIGER FORCE SNEAK PEEK-I only have two G.I. Joe figures on my list this year so Sneak Peek may seem like an odd choice in the eyes of many Joe fans. We got a lot of excellent G.I. Joes this year between the 50th anniversary series, the Figure Subscription Service, and the Collector’s Club box set and I’d bet that most people would place Sneak Peek near the bottom of their “best of” lists. Not only is he completely made up of rehashed pieces, including one of the most over used heads in the biz, but this figure doesn’t even recreate the classic 1987 Sneak Peek we all owned as kids.  Instead the Club gave us an updated version of the lesser known European exclusive Tiger Force repaint. So why is this figure on my list?  Well, I simply love Sneak Peek.  The character was a favourite from my youth and one I’ve been clamouring to see updated since the beginning of the modern era 9 years ago. The reused parts work well together in my opinion and I quite like the face regardless of its familiarity. If the Collector’s Club had sculpted a new head for this figure I probably wouldn’t like it as much because they’d likely make it pudgy and round to match the vintage figure. I didn’t expect to like this Tiger Force paint job as much as I do but I think it’s a great mix of colours so I find myself really enjoying this more obscure deco.

2016-vultak15. VULTAK-The Masters of the Universe Classics line has been killing it since 2008 providing fans with awesome new versions of the property’s numerous iconic characters. But after so many years it was inevitable that the line would lose steam and fizzle out. In past years I bought Mattel’s latest MOTU offering on the 15th of every month as soon as it went up for sale exclusively on their website. I couldn’t afford to wait because new toys sold out almost immediately. Nowadays toys of obscure characters remain on sale for months so there’s no sense of urgency.  I didn’t purchase a single MOTU figure this year until they were discounted during Mattel’s Black Friday sale. Even though my excitement for the toyline has waned a bit there’s nothing more exciting than opening up a new box of He-Man figures from Mattel. My Black Friday shipment contained 6 figures (none of them well known characters) and they were all awesome.  Vultak is like a slap in the face reminding me why I loved MOTU in the first place. He’s like a mix of Marvel’s Vulture, Thundercats’ Panthro, and MOTU’s Hordak.  He’s bright, he’s big, he’s fun, and he’s awesome.

2016-rod-drill14. ROD DRILL-Hasbro’s Transformers were my jam growing up but I also enjoyed Tonka’s line of transforming robots called Go-Bots. I had a handful of the toys and while they weren’t as complex as Transformers their simplicity and their silly names made them charming. The line has been officially dead since 1987 but in the past couple of years some third-party companies have produced unofficial homages of Go-Bot characters. You may recall that DX9’s remake of Cy-Kill (named Salmoore) nabbed the number two slot of my best of 2014 list. I love seeing old Go-Bots characters revived after so many years. My fingers are crossed for new versions of my childhood favourites Cop-tur, Loco, and Water Walk. If those characters are ever to be reproduced it will likely be by way of a company called Action Toys. They’ve been doing a great job of  releasing spiffy new updates of classic Go-Bots. Vanessa got me Rod Drill for Christmas. He’s Action Toy’s version of Screwhead who transforms into a drill tank. This figure is immediately recognizable as Screwhead as they share of the same physical characteristics but Rod Drill is a far superior figure. He’s a bit larger and far more posable. He’s not as nice as update as Salmoore was but Rod Drill’s price point is a little easier to swallow.

2016-snowtrooper13. SNOWTROOPER-Everybody loves the generic Stormtroopers from Star Wars but as a kid I held the Snowtroopers from the Empire Strikes Back in much higher regard. My brother Doug and I both owned a Stromtrooper but he also owned the AT-AT Driver and the Biker Scout. I suppose that’s why the Snowtrooper was the only Stormtrooper variation that felt like mine because it was the only one he didn’t have. My original 1980s Snowtrooper was one of three vintage Star Wars figures I held onto when I got rid of my collection in my teens. There’s something about that long featureless mask that always appealed to me; I thought it looked more like a ghost than a soldier. I already have a very cool 12″ version of the Snowtrooper plus multiple 3 3/4″ figures but it was still at the top of my want list when I started collecting the 6″ Black Series figures. I just got this figure a week ago and he did not disappoint.  It’s not exactly what I was expecting because it’s far more “dirty” than previous versions.  The base uniform is more beige than white and his boots and skirt are speckled with grime. It looks really cool though so I don’t have any complaints.

2016-valkyries

 

12. MARAUDER VALKYRIESLast year I named the Marauder Task Force in my number six spot. I didn’t name a specific figure as I used the slot as more of a catch all for the whole wave of interchangable soldier figures produced by Marauder Gun Runners via a Kickstarter campaign. MGR put out variations of those same figures with new parts added this year so they could have easily made my list again. I’m a big fan of the yellow “Shock-Ops” and orange “Hazard Ops” they released this year. However they overshadowed those releases with the launch of their all-female Valkyries line this year via another Kickstarter. Thus far I have four complete figures in hand with another shipment on the way. These figures look excellent. MTF has given us a multitude of hair styles and colours, gear, and accessories so you can make unlimited figure variations. I wish Hasbro put this much care into their G.I. Joes. Hasbro has given us some pretty fugly ladies over the years but MTF has given us a squad of attractive ladies with realistic proportions. I can’t recommend these figures enough.  The only reason they’re not higher is that their tiny accessories don’t stay in place unless glued which is a pain in the ass and I have no childhood connection or elaborate backstory to latch onto.

2016-namor11. NAMOR-What a year for Marvel Legends. Hasbro pumped out 7 waves of figures this year. It was just a couple of years ago that I was writing on this blog that I had no interest in collecting 6″ Legends because I was committed to collecting the 3 3/4″ Marvel Universe figures. I found Legends to be gangly and awkward looking.  Well Hasbro has upped their game big time and now I’m buying Legends figures every other week. I bought over 50 Marvel Legends figures this year and I’m continually impressed. I could have made a top 16 list of Marvel Legends figures alone and I still would have had to exclude a bunch of stellar toys. To pick only a choice few for this multi-line list truly was difficult. After a great deal of thought the first Legend I’ve chosen to spotlight is Marvel’s King of Atlantis, Namor the Sub-Mariner.  When I first started collecting comics as a kid I didn’t like Namor. He struck me as an arrogant Mr. Spock flying around in his underwear. I’m not sure when that changed but somewhere along the way I really fell in love with Namor. His arrogance actually makes him a lot of fun to read.  The fact that he started wearing pants probably helped too. Truthfully, I don’t even mind the green speedo in the comics but it just doesn’t make for a very interesting action figure.  My 3 3/4″ Namor is a testament to how boring that design can be.  This Walgreens exclusive Namor is sporting a much cooler black and blue costume with a nice metallic sheen.  The elbows are a little weird and the trident looks dumb but those issues are out weighed by the phenomenal head sculpt. Depending on the angle you look at him he can appear regal, smarmy, pissed, or playful. This is the finest Namor ever produced.2016-k-2so

 

10. K-2SO– When I reviewed this figure a couple of weeks ago I hadn’t yet seen Star Wars Rogue One. Now that I have I like this figure even more. K-2S0 was a real scene stealer in the movie.  He was tough, sarcastic and funny and i was really bummed when things weren’t going his way.  I’m glad I picked this figure up when I did as I imagine it will be in high demand now that everyone has seen the movie. This figure just looks and feels cool.  As soon as I opened him up I wanted to pose him and fiddle around with him. He’s built nice and sturdy for such a lean figure. This sculpt, paint apps, and articulation are all great. No complaints.2016-batman

 

 

9. BATMAN-Putting Batman on a “best of” list seems like such a no-brainer that it’s almost a waste of a slot. He has such a cool and iconic design that you’d think it would be a snap to design an amazing Batman figure, right? So why are there so many terrible Batman figures? Have you walked down the action figure aisle lately? It’s full of Batmen and most of them look like crap. I feel bad for kids that think those are the only Batman figures available. If only they’d venture into a comic book shop like Strange Adventures they’d discover a whole new world of awesome action figures geared towards adult collectors. For example, DC Collectibles line of designer action figures based on the artwork of Darwyn Cooke. I bought the Supergirl, Catwoman, and Harley Quinn from this line and any one of them could be on this list but I think Batman edges the others out. This figure depicts Darwyn’s contemporary version of the dark knight as seen in stories like EGO. I think this figure is a wonderful tribute to a brilliant artist who we sadly lost this year. It makes me emotional every time I look at it.

2016-pythona8. PYTHONA- I wanted a Pythona figure SO BAD in 1987. She was one of the new characters introduced, and heavily featured, in the animated G.I. Joe movie released that year yet she got completely snubbed by Hasbro. Her absence from the ’87 line-up seemed like a huge oversight to me. Big Lob was similarly snubbed but I didn’t like him as much. He’s finally getting a figure courtesy of the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club in 2017 but 2016 was Pythona’s year…finally. She was the free membership figure you got this year when you signed up as a member of the Club. It’s been a 30 year wait so thankfully the Club delivered a stellar figure to make the wait all seem worth it. Pythona’s got a very nice newly sculpted head with a removable ponytail which allows her to  don the hood of her cloak. The intricate facial paint is well done too.  The Club has been doing a great job making figures of characters long desired by fans, like Dr. Venom and Billy, but Pythona is the one I’ve wanted the most so I’m very glad the Club didn’t cut any corners. Awesome figure.

2016-gorgon7. RINGNECK GORGON-I backed a Kickstarter campaign by Boss Fight Studios back in 2014 to help them launch their own line of figures called Vitruvian HACKS. Those figures finally arrived in 2016.  I received over 30 figures and honestly I could have put each and every one of them on this list. BFS has constructed some of the nicest action figures I’ve ever seen in their Mythology themed HACKS line. Series one primarily consists of ancient warriors and gorgons. The construction of the gorgons alone is a thing of beauty to say nothing of the sculpting, painting, and accessories. The way their multi-jointed tails allow for them to be posed  in an upright position without the aid of a display base is amazing. I have seven gorgons including Medusa.  She seemed like the obvious choice for this list if I were to showcase just one gorgon but I just so happen to prefer the purple and orange colour scheme of the ringneck. I also prefer her closed mouth. This figure is perfect and I can’t wait to see what BFS does next.

2016-cap-britain6. CAPTAIN BRITAIN-Picking Marvel Legends for this list was really tough. I thought that Nico would make my list for sure. Silk, Black Panther, and Deadpool all seemed like shoe-ins as well. I wasn’t even sure I would buy this Captain Britain and I certainly didn’t expect I’d like him more than those other figures but here he is. CB was included in the most recent Captain America wave. The only figure I planned to buy from the wave was Eel. I really like Captain Britain as a character but this figure doesn’t feature my preferred costume so I planned to skip it. While in Chicago the other week I found the Cap wave in a comic shop (I haven’t found them here at home yet) and there was Eel. I picked him up and looked over his scrawny physique. Then I saw Captain Britain out of the corner of my eye practically bulging out of his packaging. I picked him up and was immediately won over.  See ya later, Eel. This Cap looks tough as nails. The standard “bulky” body is perfectly sized for him and the unique Captain Britain parts really look great.  The buckled boots, the wrapped forearms, the sunken eyes in the helmet, I love it all. Throw in an excellent and eye-grabbing paint job and you have yourself a winning action figure.

2016-venom5. VENOM– Next up is another Marvel Legends figure, Venom. I’m not even a big Venom fan yet this is the second time he’s made my “best of” list in just three years. 2014 saw the release of an awesome Agent Venom. This year we got two other versions of the character.  There was the large build-a-figure Space Knight Venom which looks neat but whom I have no affinity for because I didn’t read any of the short-lived Space Knight comics. The second 2016 release was this classic Venom. This toy looks like it leapt from the page of the character’s first appearance as drawn by Todd McFarlane.  It makes me very nostalgic for that late 80s era of Spider-Man. The body is the exact same one that was used for Captain Britain and it works wonderfully for Venom too. He has standard “sock” feet and open clawed hands. I’m not sure if those parts are reused or not.  The one piece that is definitely unique is the head and thats the piece that really elevates this figure.  The head sculpt looks so good that I can’t imagine anyone ever making a better Venom figure than this.

2016-talos4. TALOS-This is another figure from Boss Fight Studio’s Vitruvian HACKS line. It was exclusive to Kickstarter supporters so I don’t think you’ll ever be able to buy it from their online store. That’s a real shame because this is one of the nicer looking figures from the assortment. Most of the warrior figures share the same parts, they’re just painted differently. I don’t think there are any parts on this figure that can’t be found elsewhere. For example, Talos has the same bearded head as Leonidas and the same armor as the Myrmidon Warrior but what makes them unique to Talos is the bronze paint job. The figure is painted entirely in bronze with a green patina to add realism. It looks amazing; like a little metal statue. Whether you want to display this guy as a statue or some sort of living bronze warrior he really should be a part of your collection.

2016-malleus

 

3. MALLEUS 2016 saw the release of the Four Horsemen’s newest toy line called Mythic Legions.  It’s a fantasy-based line full or Orcs, Trolls, and Knights. I couldn’t afford to go all-in on their 2015 kickstarter but I did pitch in by pre-ordering 4 of the 34 available figures. My quartet arrived in June 2016 and all of them are awesome but Malleus is my favourite. This figure is amazing in every category. The sculpting, the painting, and the accessories are all incredible (the dual axes are sick!). He’s very well articulated right down to a movable jaw. The 6″ scale really allows the Horsemen to show off.  Originally I thought I might display Malleus as a minion of Skeletor but the level of detail on the Legions figures far surpasses that of MOTU figures so there isn’t much consistency there. If I had the space and the money I’d love to own all the Mythic Legions figures but if my collection never grows beyond the four I have  I’m confident that I have the best one right here. 

2016-tailgate2. TAILGATE/REAREND-Many times on this blog I’ve told you how great James Roberts’ “Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye” comics are. I think its the best comic on the stands. He has a way of making you fall in love with characters you never thought you’d care about. One of the stars of the book is a little Transformer named Tailgate. I never owned the Tailgate toy as a kid because he was just a crappy repaint of Wheelcharger, a Transformer who I really liked. Well Roberts has made Tailgate a far more interesting character than Wheelcharger ever was and so I desperately wanted an action figure that reflected his comic book appearance. Hasbro obliged me with this turd in 2014. Thankfully, a third party company called Make Toys answered my prayers this year. Because this is an unofficial release they can’t call him Tailgate so Make Toys has dubbed him Rearend. It’s a silly name but who cares, everyone knows this is Tailgate. This figure is quite small so it may be hard to justify the large price tag but thankfully Vanessa got him for me for X-mas so I didn’t have to. I’m actually glad he’s the size that he is because its true to the character. The likeness to the comic book art is perhaps the best I’ve seen yet.  This toy truly look like an Alex Milne drawing some to life. I love it.2016-underworld

 

1. UNDERWORLD WARRIOR-You shouldn’t be surprised that one of Boss Fight Studio’s Vitruvian HACKS figures tops my list. Almost every figure in this line is a showstopper. The paint work, sculpting, accessories, articulation, and customization possibilities launched HACKS straight to the top of the heap of quality action figure lines. Every toyline should strive to be this good.  As soon as my box of HACKS arrived it was almost a certainty that one of them would top my list this year. The trouble was in deciding which one.  I thought it would be harder to choose but I actually arrived at my answer quite easily. The Underworld Warrior was the figure that appealed to me the most when the concept art was first revealed at the launch of the kickstarter and once I had the figure in my hands I felt it lived up to and surpassed my expectations. It’s not the most detailed or innovative figure of the bunch but it sure does look damn cool.2016-group

 

 

 

DRAGSTOR (2015)

MOTUC-Dragstor fullMASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS

On the 15th of every month Mattel releases a new Masters of the Universe (MOTU) Classics figure which is  available only on their website. November 2015’s figure was Dragstor. The release of Dragstor was kind of a big deal to MOTU fans.  Not because he’s so awesome or anything like that but because he was the last character from the vintage toyline that hadn’t yet been released in the Classics format.  Dragstor completes the mission that Mattel and the Four Horsemen set out to accomplish way back in 2008.  Several times over the years there were rumblings that Classics was going to get cancelled and the vintage line-up would never be completed but as 2015 wrapped up that lofty goal was finally realized. But not only did Mattel release updated versions of all 73 vintage figures they also added over 100 other characters to the mix plus vehicles and play sets.  I never imagined when I bought my first Classics figure (Hordak) that my collection would one day grow to the size it is today.MOTUC-Dragstor head

So, Dragstor’s place in history aside, how is the figure?

It’s okay.

The original Dragstor was released in 1986 and neither my brother Doug or I owned him.  King Hiss was the only figure I got that year.  Our interest in the line had waned by then for some reason. Since I never owned the toy and Dragstor never appeared in either the He-Man or She-Ra cartoons I have zero nostalgic attachment to him.

1986 Dragstor

1986 Dragstor

 

Every vintage MOTU figure had a unique gimmick.  Dragstor’s shtick was that he was half-man/half-car.  All Dragstor had to do to go from man to car was lay face-down.  There was a spinning wheel on his torso and a plastic ripcord that you yanked through his backpack  to send him careening across your kitchen floor.   Many of the MOTU gimmicks were kind of goofy but Dragstor’s seemed especially lame.  He was like a Transformer that didn’t transform.  I never had the chance to play with him as a kid but I don’t imagine my He-Man action figure would have taken this a-hole seriously as he scooted around the carpet on his belly. MOTUC-Dragstor back

 

As silly as the vintage action feature was I really wish this Classics figure had it too.  I don’t care that the Classics version doesn’t have a ripcord but it sure as hell should have a spinning wheel.  Dragstor is all about the wheel on his chest.  That’s his whole thing.  This Classics figure only has a static sculpted half wheel which is attached to his removable armour.  Every time I look at this figure I want  to spin the wheel and it drives me nuts that I can’t.

MOTUC-Dragstor tire

The look of the character is decent enough but I always found it lacked the wow-factor of other MOTU villains like Trap-Jaw or Mantenna.  Love it or hate it this new Classics figure does a very good job of re-creating the vintage look.  All the key design elements are there like the metal plates on the legs, the red boots, the orange gloves, the engine backpack, the exhaust pipes on the chest, the gas mask, the helmet, and of course the wheel (static as it may be).  I actually quite like the overall look.  Sure he’s not as striking as Mer-Man or Modulok but he has a mysterious x-factor about him since we can’t see his entire face.  His grey skin and orange eyes give the impression that he’s reptilian and monstrous under there.

Dragstor’s accessories are pretty cool. He’s a member of the Evil Horde so he comes with a cross bow like all the other guys do. However, he has a uniquely sculpted crossbow that looks like its made out of car parts which is much more appropriate than the standard bone crossbow that came with the vintage figure.  Also, in place of the old ripcord (which wasn’t really a playable accessory) Dragstor now has a whip with a blade on the end.  Looks pretty brutal.

This is a faithful recreation of the vintage toy and I’m pleased to finally own a Dragstor figure.  I only wish that damn wheel spun.  7 out of 10MOTUC-Dragstor driveMOTUC-Dragstor art

 

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

 

HEADS OF ETERNIA (2015)

MOTUC-Heads cardedMASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS

I buy almost all of the Masters of the Universe Classics figures produced by Mattel. I log onto the MattyCollector website on the 15th of just about every month to buy the latest offerings. Unfortunately, some of the figures have sold out very quickly and as a result I’ve missed out on a few key characters. Mattel offers a subscription service to ensure collectors like myself don’t miss any of the figures but I’ve never subscribed for the following reasons:

-Paying for the full-year subscription makes for a very expensive lump sum payment.

-I’d be locked into buying every single figure, even though not all of the figures are announced by the subscription deadline, meaning I could be committing to some real duds.

-And Mattel doesn’t allow for combined shipping between subscription figures and non-subscription purchases made on the site.

However, outside of the annual subscription that locks you into buying 15+ figures, Mattel has begun offering mini-subscriptions that only lock you into buying 6 figures. The mini-subs focus on a specific group of characters within the MOTU mythology that may not appeal to the fandom at large. For example, last year they ran a subscription for the mini-figure 2 packs. Prior to that they ran mini-subs for obscure filmation characters and for brand new characters to celebrate the brand’s 30th anniversary.  I’ve considered subbing a few times but I never made the commitment until their latest min-sub which focuses on 200X characters.

The “200X” title refers to the MOTU animated series and toy line that launched in 2002 to much acclaim. I was a HUGE fan of the cartoon which ran for 2 seasons (39 episodes) and I loved the stylized toys and statues based on the anime-inspired character designs. A few of the new characters that were created for the 200X show have made their way into the Classics toy line (i.e. Chief Carnivus and Lord Dactys) but by and large the Classics line has focused on the vintage MOTU mythology. The 200X mini-sub consists of 6 figures based on characters that first appeared in the 200X cartoon and who have never been made into toys before.   I chose to sub for the following reasons:

-All six figures hd been revealed by the subscription deadline and they all looked awesome.

-Mattel offered an option for the figures to ship out in bundles of 3 rather than 1 at a time so I was able to save on shipping. Also,  they billed in instalments rather than in one large lump sum.

-And subscribers got a free bonus gift.

The 6 figures were reason enough to warrant subscribing but the bonus gift was like the cherry on top that sealed the deal. The bonus gift is a pack of 6 alternate heads in the 200X style intended for previously released MOTU Classics figures. Some characters looked drastically different from their vintage counterparts when redesigned for the 200X line and these new heads allow you to display “Classics” versions of those dynamic reimaginings.

MOTUC-Heads Buzz off

BUZZ-OFF

I’ll start with Buzz-Off because he’s one of my favorite MOTU characters. I’ll forever love the  vintage look because I grew up with it but the 200X redesign was undeniably cooler.  It was much leaner and more angular and the long antennae  provided a truer bug-like appearance.  It was less cutesy and more badass. The 200X Buzz-Off figure looks awesome displayed on my shelf but unfortunately I’m quickly running out of shelf space so my 200X collection may soon end up boxed up to make room for more current toy lines.  This new head will take some of the “sting” out of boxing up my 200X Buzz-Off because now I can display my Classics Buzz-Off with this 200X-style head.  However, I’m not 100% sure I’ll do that because the vintage style head has a nostalgic charm about it that makes me smile.  Also the 200X head doesn’t quite look natural on the bulkier body of the Classics figure; plus the bright banana yellow used on this new head doesn’t match up as nicely with the more mustardy yellow of the body and original head.  I really like them both and I’d almost rather try to find another Buzz-Off for cheap so I can display him both ways rather than choose.MOTUC-Heads-Clawful

CLAWFUL

Next up is Clawful. Apparently some people hate the big bushy black eyebrows of the original Classics head. I personally don’t mind my Clawful looking like Eugene Levy but this new 200X head is a really nice update regardless.  The change isn’t as drastic as the Buzz-Off redesign but what they changed were improvements.  The new head has more ridges and protrusions and the eyes are less cartoonish.  I’m undecided if I’ll make the change on Clawful because I like the new and the old heads but they’re not different enough to warrant buying another figure so I can display both.

SY-KLONE

MOTU-Heads-Cyclone compare

Sy-Klone was probably my least favorite MOTU character when I was a kid. He was at least in my bottom five. That changed with the 200X series. He went from being a total goofball to a badass samurai courtesy of an impressive redesign. I thought his portrayal in the 200X animated series was awesome and it really fleshed out the character. I was a big fan of the 200X toy as well.  If not for his 200X make-over I probably wouldn’t have even bothered to buy the Classics version of Sy-Klone; I disliked him that much. However, I did buy the Classics version when it came out in 2011 but it’s been relegated to the back of the shelf because it looks like the goofy vintage version that I never liked. This new 200X-inspired head isn’t as good as the actual 200X head but its a big improvement over the 2011 head.  The 200X Sy-Klone was clearly Asian but his ethnicity seems to have been undone for this new head which is unfortunate.  In Sy-Klone’s case I will absolutely swap out the old head for this new one and he may actually work his way to the front of the shelf as a result.MOTUC-Heads Cyclone side

ROBOTO

MOTUC-Heads-RobotoI never owned the vintage Roboto which was disappointing because I always thought it was a neat figure with it’s see-thru chest and working gears.  I did get the 200X version though and it was even better than the original.  It still had the chest and gears gimmick but the overall design had been bulked up and pimped out.  I love my 200X Roboto.  The Classics version was released in 2010, before I had committed to collecting the line, so I didn’t buy it.  I regret that decision now because I became a big fan of the line soon afterwards and have tried to collect them all and yet Roboto still eludes me.  For that reason this 200X-style Roboto head isn’t much good to me because I don’t have a body to put it on.  I will get that figure eventually though and I will definitely put this head on it.  The original Roboto looked more like a knight where as this one is very much science-fiction.  I love the sloped visor and the articulated jaw.  It’s such a great looking head that maybe I’ll pop it onto someone else untilI track down a Roboto.

2010 Classics Roboto

2010 Classics Roboto

 

GRIZZLOR

Like Clawful, Grizzlor isn’t a character I needed updated. I’m fine with his Classics head and the vintage figure that inspired it. I liked the 200X redesign as well but the only major change was the addition of a yellow ring around his face. I’m not sure what purpose it was supposed to serve, maybe just to keep his hair out of his face, but it looked cool regardless. It reminds me of the headgear boxers wear when training or that odd headpiece Shatterstar from X-Force wears.  The actual face on the new head is smaller and there are fewer sculpted details in the face; he’s not as wrinkly.  I find its more ape-like than the original. I might’ve considered swapping out the old head for the new one but unfortunately the rooted hair on the new head doesn’t quite match the hair on the body so I think I’ll stick with the original.MOTU-Heads-Grizzlor compare

SNOUT SPOUT

Lastly is Snout Spout, the crown jewel of this collection. Like Sy-Klone, the original Snout Spout was a dork. He had a big round robot elephant head sitting atop a man’s body and he looked ridiculous. I never owned it but my little brother Brian did oddly enough.  it may have been the only He-Man figure he owned.  Snout Spout never appeared in the 200X cartoon and he never got a 200X figure but he did get a statue and it was amazeballs.

200X vs vintage Classics heads

200X vs vintage Classics heads

The 200X redesign cranked Snout Spout up from a 3 to an 11. He was still a dude with a robotic elephant head but the proportions were way better and the design was much sleeker and meaner looking. I loved that statue and I was totally bummed that I never managed to get one  (They were very tough to find in my area). Well I’m bummed no longer because Mattel has given me this awesome new 200X-inspired Snout Spout head.  This thing is a beast. The original head looks like Babar while this new head looks like Darth Vader with a trunk (not exactly, I’m just saying it’s hella cool).  I wish the nose were articulated but other than that this thing is perfect.

The Heads of Eternia set is a great add-on and I’m glad I subscribed in order to get it. I may only swap out 2 or 3 of the heads but those heads do wonders for those 2 or 3 figures. It’s unfortunate that the Classics bodies don’t really mesh well with the 200X heads in general but I’m happy to see Mattel acknowledge this brief but excellent era of MOTU. I hope to see another one of these sets in the future,  a 200X Leech would be insane. 8 out of 10.MOTU-Heads-Snout side

SSSQUEEZE (2015)

MOTUC-Squeeze fullMASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS

The Masters of the Universe Classics toy line is slated to wrap up by the end of the year.  I’ll be sad to see it go because it provided me with so many great figures over the past seven years but at the same time it’ll be nice to have one less expense each month.  Also on the plus side is that the toy line came to a natural end.  It really sucks when  something you love, whether its a TV show, a movie series, a comic book, or a toy line, gets cancelled before it’s run its course.  A prime example would be the 2002 Masters of the Universe reboot.  Both the cartoon and toy line got cancelled abruptly so story lines went unresolved and figures of key characters never got made (including Sssqueeze).  When the MOTU Classics line first started in 2008 the goal was to produce updated versions of all the vintage figures.  I never thought they’d get there but by the end of 2015 all of the vintage MOTU characters will be accounted for along with the majority of the Princess of Power characters and a healthy dose of New Adventures characters too.  On top of that we also got Classics figures based on the old cartoon, the 2002 cartoon, the comics, concept art, and completely original characters.  I think Classics will go down in history as one of the best toy lines of all time.  It’s a shame so few kids know about it.MOTUC-Squeeze back

One of the reasons that this collector aimed line has survived as long as it has is due to the clever reuse of parts.  Many of the figures share torsos and limbs which reduces tooling costs.  This recycling of parts is likely the main reason why some of the most oddly shaped vintage toys were not tackled sooner; they cost too much to produce.  But in an effort to achieve their original goal of getting all the vintage toys remade by years end Mattel has pulled out all the stops for these final months.  Case in point, this past June they give us Multi-Bot, the six-legged two-headed android who is 100% brand new parts AND the Snake Man with the constrictor arms: Sssqueeze.

The first three Snake Men were added to the MOTU mythology in 1986, four years into the vintage toy line, as a new faction of   villains.  They were King Hiss, Rattlor, and Tongue Lasher.  Two more followed in 1987; Snake Face and Sssqueeze.   The only vintage Snake Man I owned as a kid was King Hiss but I would’ve loved to have all of them.  Tongue Lasher and Sssqueeze were especially desirable because of their cool play features.  Tongue Lasher had a long tongue that flicked in and out and Sssqueeze had long wiry snake arms.  The snake arms were slightly ridiculous looking but very unique even in a line as diverse as MOTU.

1987 Sssqueeze

1987 Sssqueeze

Tooling costs aside, I’d bet figuring out to to make those snake arms work on a Classics figure deterred Mattel from updating Sssqueeze sooner.  Almost none of the play features from the vintage toy line were carried over into the Classics figures.  Instead, features were approximated with additional parts.  For example: Instead of Mekaneck’s neck actually extending when you twisted his waist like it did on the vintage toy, an extra neck piece was added to the Classics figure to replicate the elongated neck, and instead of Mantenna’s eyes bugging out with the push of a button like they did on the vintage toy, swappable protruding eyes were included with the Classics version.   So you couldn’t help but wonder how Mattel would apply this method of approximation to Sssqueeze.  Would they package him with a second set of arms or arm extending pieces like they did with Extendar?

2002 animated Sssqueeze

2002 animated Sssqueeze

As it turns out Mattel decided to faithfully replicate the vintage play feature and give the Classics Sssqueeze fully posable wire arms.  The constrictor arms look great and are very posable.  The fact that Mattel was able to make the feature work so well while maintaining the collector-level sculpting makes me wish that they had tried a little harder to work some of the other play features into Classics figures.  Adding pieces to Mekaneck’s neck works okay and it looks good enough for display purposes but those old-school functional play features just made the vintage toys so much fun.

Sssqueeze features quite a few new parts and they all look fantastic.  The look is very true to the original figure.  His whole body is covered in scales and his armour has some cool little details too. The colours look very nice as well.  The almost florescent green skin really pops and I love how it looks against the multi-coloured armour.  Mattel could’ve cheaped out on painting the armour and I doubt anyone would have noticed but they didn’t.  The grey boots have silver highlights and the orange wrist bands have shimmery metallic highlights.MOTUC-Squeeze arms

The head sculpt is excellent but, just as with the original, Sssqueeze looks more like an alligator than a snake.  Thats fine with me though as it adds more diversity to the Snake Men. For accessories he came with a twisty purple snake staff just as the original did but I forgot to take any pictures of him with it.  I also forgot to include Snake Face in the group shot below.  I must’ve been half asleep when taking these pics.

Final Thoughts: I love this figure.  Not only does it look incredible but it’s super fun to play with and really what more could you ask of a toy?  10 out of 10.MOTUC-Squeeze crush

 

 

 

 

(UPDATE:  I wrote this on Wednesday but am just getting it posted on Sunday.  Over the weekend it was announced at the San Diego Comic Con that Masters of the Universe Classics will continue on into 2016.  They revealed some great looking figures so I guess my wallet will continue to suffer.)

Snake Men Group Hug!

Snake Men Group Hug!

TWO-BAD (2014)

MOTUC-Two-bad fullMASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS

For those of you not in the know, this is how Mattel’s Masters of the Universe Classics toy line is sold. On the 15th of each month at least one new figure is made available on their website, matty collector.com. The figure remains for sale on the site until it sells out which can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few days depending on the figure. Fans tend to scoop up old favorites like Beast Man and Trap Jaw quite quickly but lesser known and new characters like Netossa and Sir Laser Lot may sit around for a while.

To ensure they hit a certain amount of sales each month Mattel offers a subscription service at the start of each year. The benefit to Mattel is that it locks buyers into purchasing all of the figures released that year. The benefits to subscribers is early access to the monthly sales, discounted prices, and subscriber exclusive figures.MOTUC-Two-Bad faces

I buy the new MOTU Classics figure almost every month so you’d think it would make sense for me to subscribe. However, I never have because I feel Mattel set up the subscription option very poorly in a major way in that they don’t allow for combined shipping.

I live in Canada and our dollar is pretty much always worth less than the American dollar. Presently a $28 MOTU figure costs me $34 Canadian. The shipping for a single figure is at best $15 US which is about $19 CA. Therefore, a single figure purchase costs me $53. PLUS I occasionally get dinged at the boarder for customs fees which can tack as much as $20 more onto a figure’s overall cost. That is why I occasionally do not buy the monthly MOTU figure. Each figure I buy has to be justifiably worth $73 to me otherwise I pass on it. To Mattel’s credit their figures are so good that I buy from them about 10 months out of the year.MOTUC-Two-Bad attack

Presently, as a non-subscriber, when I buy 2 figures a month, which is often the case, the shipping costs are combined thereby bringing the overall cost per figure down which is great.  But, if I were to subscribe I would have to pay the full shipping costs on my obligatory subscription purchase and if I made any additional purchases I would have to pay full shipping on those items as well; even if they shipped out on the same day and from the same location. It costs me extra cash needlessly and that is why I’ve never subscribed.

Having early access to sales and getting minor discounts would be nice but the only time I ever felt royally screwed for not being a subscriber was when Mattel made Two-Bad a subscriber exclusive figure in January 2014. Two-Bad is one of my favorite MOTU characters. I love the original 1985 figure and I love the updated 2002 figure. Two-Bad was one of the characters I was most looking forward to getting in the Classics format and to deny me the chance to purchase him was downright cruel.  Shortly after his release BigBadToyStore was selling this figure for $80 plus shipping and I considered buying it many times.  I never did though because paying $80 for a figure I feel I should have been able to purchase from Mattel for under $30 really pissed me off.

Well it took a year and a half but Mattel finally gave me the opportunity to purchase Two-Bad for $27 last month and now I have him in my collection.  It did require me to subscribe…sort-of…but I’ve rambled on long enough in this post so I won’t get into that.MOTUC-Two-Bad back

According to the origin story on Two-Bad’s packaging, which is inspired by an episode of the 200X cartoon, Two-Bad was once two separate guys; bounty hunters named Tuvar and Baddrah.  After they failed to complete a mission assigned to them by Skeletor he punished them by merging them via an irreversible spell.  When the halves work together Two-Bad is a brilliant strategist but unfortunately they’re usually fighting amongst themselves and strategies are few and far between.

I gotta say, that was a real dick move even for Skeletor.  All of his evil warriors have horrible track records and yet none of the other guys are forced to share abdomens.  Poor bastards.

As much as I love the previous two incarnations this is definitely the best Two-Bad yet.  It’s an excellent homage to the 1985 figure.  The only element retained from the 2002 redesign is his weapon, a double mace.  The mace is pretty cool though it would be better is it was articulated like the 2002 version.  He also comes with a vintage style shield which looks fine but it doesn’t attach to his arm very well.

motu-two-bad-animatedThe sculpt on this figure is really nice.  The left side (the Tuvar side) is a mix of new and re-used pieces but the right side (the Baddrah side) is entirely new.  Baddrah is covered in scales and it has lots of boney protrusions.  The realistic sculpting on his leather boot and glove is very impressive too.  Tuvar’s skin is smooth and lacking in detail but his new medieval looking boot and gauntlet pieces compensate for that.  The torso is wider than that of most MOTU figures for obvious reasons but it doesn’t look overly so.  That unique design element was pulled off with much more finesse here than it was on the awkwardly shaped original.  Lastly, the head sculpts are both awesome.  Each face has a neutral expression which seems to say these guys mean business.  They don’t have any of the goofiness that was present in the original toy and the animated look.

The paint work is also very well done.  The skin tones are nice and crisp and most of the accessories have subtle two-toned paint jobs.  The metallic orange paint used on his chest armour flair is especially cool looking.  I’m very happy to finally have this figure in my collection.  10 out of 10.MOTUC-Two-Bad compare

SHIELD MAIDEN SHERRILYN (2013)

MOTUC-Sherri fullMASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS

I already reviewed 2 of the figures from Mattel’s MOTU Classics “Fighting Foe Men” 3-pack earlier today so I might as well review the last one too.  These days I usually only have enough time/motivation to post 1 or 2 reviews a week so you may be wondering why I’m posting 3 in one day today.  Well it just so happens that I’m on vacation this week but nobody else I know is off work so I’ve had plenty of time to bum around my apartment alone thinking about action figures.

As I told you in my Ditztroyer review, the Fighting Foe Men was the working name for the Masters of the Universe toyline while the brand was still in development way back when. The name was revived in 2013 and assigned to this group of 3 figures which are based on artwork seen on MOTU model kits produced by Monogram in the 80s.MOTUC-Sherri art

This particular figure is based on the artwork seen on the Attak Trak model kit.  She’s been given the name Shield Maiden Sherrilyn.  She’s named after Sherri Lynn Cook, a member of the Four Horsemen Studios team.

As was the case with Dawg-O-Tor, the pilot on the Attak Trak box is mostly obscured by the vehicle’s cockpit. The Four Horsemen really had to use their imaginations to fill in the gaps and turn the barely visible 2D character from the painting into a fully realized 3D action figure; and use their imaginations they did.  Nothing about the painting indicates to me that the Attak Trak pilot is female.  You can’t really tell what sex the pilot is since all you can see is one muscular arm, one muscular leg, and a silver helmet with gold goggles but if I had to guess I would assume it was intended to be a man.  I think it’s pretty cool that the Horsemen thought outside the box and made the third Foe Man into a Foe Woman.

MOTUC-Sherri gun

As they did with the other 2 figures from this set the Horsemen did a great job of matching the parts and paint apps used for this figure to the character seen in the painting.  Both have furry brown shorts, both have shoulder pads with a feather pattern, both have a red breast plate, and both have a silver helmet with gold goggles.  I’d say its a pretty impressive translation.MOTUC-Sherri shield

 

 

Sherrilyn’s accessories are based on the vehicle she piloted.  Her chest emblem is a blue bird logo with 2 yellow lightening bolts on the wings.  The logo isn’t immediately recognizable as being related to the Attak Trak but the bird and bolts are inspired by the decals on the vehicle.  Her weapons have a much more direct connection.  Her double barrelled laser cannon looks just like the cannons seen at the back of the Trak and her shield looks like one of the vehicle’s rotating tracks.  It’s as if she ripped the tread right off of her transport and used it to protect herself.  She also has a swappable Horde logo that can be worn in place of the bird emblem.MOTUC-Sherri horde

I appreciate how true to the original design this figure is but as was the case with Dawg-O-Tor I simply do not like the head design.  It’s just too goofy or sci-fi looking and I don’t feel it blends in well with other MOTU figures.  I’m considering displaying this figure with an alternate head.  Unfortunately I only have 3 or 4 alternate female heads and none of the skin tones match up.  I think my extra She-Ra head looks best but the difference in skin tones is very obvious.  If only she had a scarf or something to make the discoloration less noticeable.  Perhaps I’ll ask my mom to make me one;  she did an excellent job on Imperious Leader’s robe.MOTUC-Sherri she-ra

 

This is a solid figure with a great costume design, nice colors, cool accessories, and ample articulation.  I just wish it had a better head.  6 out of 10.

DAWG-O-TOR (2013)

MOTUC-Dawg fullMASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS

In my last post I reviewed Ditztroyer from the Masters of the Universe Classics “Fighting Foe Men” 3-pack.  I figured I might as well go ahead and review another figure from that set now that I’ve gotten all the back story out of the way.

This here is Dawg-O-Tor.  He’s named after Owen “O-Dawg” Oertling, a member of the Four Horsemen team.  I’m not exactly sure what role Mr. Oertling plays in the production process but apparently he’s an integral member of the team. I’m sure it’s neat for Owen to have a character named after him but, as with Ditztroyer, it’s a pretty horrible name for an action figure.  However, seeing as other characters in the MOTU line have names like Clawful (because he has a claw and he’s awful) and Man-E-Faces (because he has many faces) I guess we can let the name slide.

MOTUC-Dawg artThis figure  is based on the character seen on the box art of the Talon Fighter model kit.  Ditztroyer could be seen quite clearly on the Roton box art so I imagine it was relatively easy for the Horsemen to design that figure.  In the case of Dawg-O-Tor very few details can be seen in the box art so they would have had to fill in a lot of the blanks.  All that can be seen of the pilot on the original packaging is that he has a green top, black shoulder pads, bare arms, and a helmet with a visor.  It kind of looks like he has long hair but it’s difficult to tell.

The Horsemen managed to take those few details and construct a fully realized character.  The Dawg-O-Tor figure has all of the features I described above and the Horsemen rounded out the character with green pants and standard MOTU fuzzy boots and shorts.  It’s a relatively simply body design but it looks great and blends in well with all the other MOTU figures on my shelf.

MOTUC-Dawg hordeThe head sculpt is quite unique.  It features a very masculine square jaw, a silver helmet with gold wings painted on the sides, translucent yellow goggles through which you can see his eyes,  and long brown hair that flows out the back of the helmet.  There’s a white streak painted in the hair which was apparently done because Owen Oertling has a white streak in his hair.MOTUC-Dawg hair

I’m not exactly sure why but I do not like this head.  I think it’s the goggles that bother me the most..or maybe it’s the hair.  I just don’t like it.  So what I’ve decided to do is display this figure with a completely different head.  I have a whole bunch of extra heads kicking around in my accessory bin.  I tried out a few different ones but ultimately decided to give him one of my extra Palace Guard heads.  The Eternian Palace Guard 2-pack came with 4 heads, a white guy, a black guy, a lizard-man, and a cat-man. I like monsters so I’ve been displaying my guards with the creature faces leaving the 2 human heads as spares.  The caucasian head’s skin tone matches Dawg-O-Tor’s arms quite well so i think it works.  I can now display Dawg-O-Tor as a higher ranking Palace Guard instead of an evil pirate.MOTUC-Dawg guard full

For accessories Dawg-O-Tor comes with a shield and a mace.  The shield is inspired by the Talon Fighter vehicle in both design and color.  I’m not sure how the mace relates back to the vehicle.

Dawg-O-Tor also has 2 swappable chest emblems.  He has a Talon Fighter inspired winged logo and an Evil Horde logo as well. Since I’ll be displaying my figure as a Palace Guard I’ll be sticking with the winged logo.MOTUC-Dawg guard face

Even though I really like this figure after the head swap I must rate it on it’s original form.  Because I dislike the original head so much I’m going to give Dawg-O-Tor a 5 out of 10.

 

 

DITZTROYER (2013)

MOTUC-Ditz fullMASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS

One thing I really like about the Masters of the Universe Classics toyline is that it covers all corners of the MOTU mythology.  It’s not simply a rehashing of the vintage 80s figures.  The Classics line also includes figures inspired by the 80s cartoon, the new Adventures toyline of the 90s, the 2002 cartoon series and toyline, the 80s mini-comics, and the She-Ra: Princess of Power cartoon and toyline.  The Classics line has also introduced brand new characters into the mythology like Draego Man.  One of the coolest things Mattel has done is produce figures based on old concept art from the earliest days of the brand.  For example, in 2011 they produced figures based on the original design sketches for He-Man and Skeletor.  Those toys were given the names Vikor and Demo-Man and provided with new backstories to integrate them into the established continuity as unique characters.  In May 2013 Mattel did a similar thing with the release of the Fighting Foe Men 3-pack.MOTUC-Ditc box

“Fighting Foe Men” was  the original name assigned to Mattel’s barbarian/science-fiction toy line when it was still in the development stage before they settled on “Masters of the Universe”.  I think it’s a cool nod to the history of the brand that the name was resurrected for this set. The first wave of MOTU figures was released in 1982 and new waves were released annually until 1988.  If Ditztroyer doesn’t look familiar to you it’s because he’s not a remake of one of those vintage figures; but he’s not a brand new character either.

From 1968 to 1984 Mattel owned a model company called Monogram. Monogram produced model kits of cars, airplanes, and other vehicles beginning in the 1950s and it continued to do so for years after its relationship with Mattel ended.  While still owned by Mattel, Monogram produced 3 model kits based on vehicles from the MOTU universe; the Attak Trak, the Talon Fighter, and the Roton.  The boxes of those model kits featured painted artwork of the vehicles in action.  For some reason the pilots of the vehicles in the artwork were not known characters like He-Man and Skeletor.  Instead, never before seen mystery men were placed behind the wheels.MOTUC-Ditz card art

I never owned any of those model kits as a kid.  Truthfully, I didn’t even know they existed and I wouldn’t have cared even if I did know.  I was never into building models.  I would much rather have had the actual toy versions of those vehicles produced by Mattel (but I didn’t own those either).  However, if I did own the model kits and had seen the mystery men featured on the box art I probably would have wanted action figures of those characters.  Somewhere out there, MOTU fans much more hardcore than I, did remember those characters and did want action figures of them.  In 2013 Mattel and the Four Horsemen (the designers behind the Classics line) gave them what they wanted.MOTUC-Ditz art

This Ditztroyer figure is based on the character seen on the box of the Roton model kit.  All of the pilots seen on the boxes are somewhat obscured by the cockpits of the vehicles but the Roton pilot is the one you get the best look at.  He’s a blue skinned guy with a blue cape and hood, green gloves, green shin guards or boots, a green belt, and an orange chest and shorts.

MOTUC-Ditz face

 

 

 

The Horsemen have done a fantastic job of producing a figure that matches the box art.  The only design element of the action figure that don’t perfectly match up with character seen in the artwork is the lack of the crocodile skin texture on the gloves and shin guards.  The furry loin cloth may not be a perfect match either but its difficult to tell.

In the painting the character doesn’t have any sort of emblem on his chest nor does he have any accessories.  The Horsemen made a really neat decision to give each Foe Man an emblem and a weapon that represents the vehicle they piloted.  Ditztroyer has a black emblem that features the large eyes and jagged underbite of the Roton and for a weapon he has a long black staff with spinning red blades which is very reminiscent of the Roton itself (the staff’s blades don’t actually spin unfortunately).  Another cool thing about this figure is that the cape has a sleeve in it where the staff can be stored when not in use.MOTUC-Ditz horde

The newly crafted bio on the Foe Men’s packaging states that they started out as a group of renegade pirates but later swore allegiance to Hordak and joined his Evil Horde. Thusly each Foe Man comes with a Horde symbol that can be worn in place of the vehicle specific emblem.  It’s a pretty cool little detail that provides some additional play value.  No other toy line makes me wish I was a kid again like  MOTU Classics.  I would’ve loved to play out Diztroyer’s storyline.

As for the name, each Foe Man was given a name to homage a member of the Four Horsemen team.  Ditztroyer is named after a guy named Shane Ditzworth.  I’m not a fan of the name but whatever.

I really like this figure.  It’s by far my favorite of the 3 Foe Men.  The design is great, the colors are great, and the accessories are great.  His joints are solid and he has plenty of articulation.  My only gripes are:

MOTUC-Ditz back1. His name sucks

2. I think all 3 of the Fighting Foe Men look like good guys.  They seem miscast as villains.  Ditztroyer reminds me of Dr. Manhattan and the Vision, both heroic characters.

3. He has nipples.  I didn’t notice until I took his larger Roton emblem off to replace it with the Horde symbol but this dude is apparently bare chested. That doesn’t make any sense to me.  I’ll just keep on pretending that he’s a blue guy with a very tight orange shirt on.

8 out of 10.

 

NETOSSA (2013)

MOTUC-Netossa fullMASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS

One of the greatest cartoons of all time was He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (MOTU). I will always prefer robot and monster characters to human characters and one of the best things about MOTU was that all the bad guys were monsters and so were half of the good guys. The spin-off show about He-Man’s sister, She-Ra, was also a good show but inferior for a few reasons. One of those reasons would be the lack of monsters and robots on the good guy side.

She-Ra’s villains, the Horde, were arguably just as cool, if not cooler, than He-Man’s villains. Mantenna and Leech were some of my favorite vintage MOTU toys even though they were technically She-Ra characters.  Hasbro chose to include the monstrous Horde figures in their 1985 MOTU assortment which was already a well-established boy’s brand by that time. They marketed She-Ra and the other members of the Great Rebellion as a separate toy line geared towards girls called Princess of Power (POP). Neither my brother Doug nor I ever owned any POP figures; but neither did my sister. She was much more into Barbie and Jem and the Holograms.  So I wonder if perhaps Mattel would have been better off just including the girl figures in the MOTU line as well.MOTUC-Netossa back

They say that girl figures in boy’s toy lines don’t sell. That may be true in some cases but that wasn’t the case with me; some of my favorite G.I. Joe toys were girls (Zarana, Jinx, Lady Jaye, etc.). Had Hasbro opted to include the She-Ra figures as part of the MOTU line as they did with the Horde maybe I would have collected a few of them. But because they were so clearly geared towards little girls I steered clear of them. The She-Ra figures all had rooted hair and they came with combs and frilly skirts so they were as much dolls as they were action figures.

I’m glad that the POP characters were included under the umbrella of the MOTU Classics toy line which began in 2008. Especially since the members of the Great Rebellion were completely shut out of the 90s and early 2000s MOTU toy revivals.  The Classics line has given fans like myself our first opportunity in nearly 30 years to buy most of the She-Ra characters.  The Classics versions have done away with the rooted hair and frilly skirts.  The psuedo-doll features have been set aside and what we’re left with is some really nice looking action figures that blend in seamlessly with He-Man and his crew.MOTUC-Netossa face

I was super stoked to add She-Ra to my collection in 2010 and I was also very happy to add Bow (the one male POP character) in 2011 and Glimmer (She-Ra’s best pal) in 2014. However, as the MOTU Classics line went on year after year, and after most of the cool monstrous characters had already been released, the line became a little too She-Ra-centric for my tastes. It seemed we were getting a new princess figure every other month last year. I added Castaspella the spell casting girl, Entrapa the girl with the magical hair, Mermista the mermaid, and Flutterina the butterfly girl to my collection in 2014. I was so fed up with buying girlie figures that I put my foot down and passed on a handful of them including Double Trouble the spy girl, Spinnerella the ribbon girl, and Sweet Bee the bumblebee girl.MOTUC-Netossa cartoon

Most of the girl toys I opted out of purchasing were nice looking figures but it’s been many years since I’ve watched the She-Ra cartoon so I don’t even remember most of them.  At nearly $50 a pop (when you factor in the shipping to Canada) they simply weren’t worth it to me. It was a rare instance where frugal Mike won out over completest toy collector Mike.

This past November Mattycollector.com had their annual Cyber Monday sale where a bunch of previously released figures are made available again at discounted prices and with free shipping.  I figured that was my chance to scoop up a few of the POP and lackluster MOTU figures that  I’d passed on over the past year or two.  I ended up getting 2 MOTU figure, Geldor and Dekker, and 2 POP figures, Octavia and Netossa.  I was pretty happy to nab them at $20 a piece instead of the usual $27 plus shipping.  However, when they finally arrived in the mail the other day, after a lengthy delay to to strikes at the ports in L.A.,  I got saddled with a $60 customs charge.  The fine people at the Canada Boarder Services Agency decided to overvalue the contents of my shipment by 400%.  So that sucked.MOTUC-Netossa vintage

Overcharge aside, some of the figures ended up being better than I expected so I was pleased about that.  Netossa was not a character I was looking forward to but she ended up my favourite of the four.

Netossa is pronounced “Ne-TOSS-a” by the way, not “NET-ossa” as I had been saying.  I only realized my error when I looked up her animated appearance from the old POP cartoon on youtube.  I did that because I have zero recollection of this character and I wanted to familiarize myself a little before writing this review.  Apparently the character only appeared 4 times out of the 93 episodes so there wasn’t a whole lot to learn.  She’s an expert marksman and she’s good with a net.  Thats what I learned.MOTUC-Netossa accessories

 

The figure itself is very nicely sculpted an painted.  I’m sure she shares a few parts with other figures but a lot of her components are brand new.  Her bodice, skirt, and headpiece are all great looking pieces.  The headpiece looks like something a Valkyrie would wear.  The coolest part of her costume is her signature net cape.  The original 1987 toy had a real cloth cape where as this one has a soft plastic cape that looks and feels like a fly swatter.  It doesn’t really work as a net that she can use to capture her enemies but it looks great as a cape.  Her face sculpt is quite beautiful and the hair is simple yet really cool.  It looks kind of like a lion’s mane.

For accessories all she came with is a shield which is kind of dumb.  I get that her “net” is her weapon but they should have given her a sword or trident or something.  Luckily I have accumulated a ton of extra MOTU accessories so I’m sure I’ll be able to find her something.

I love the combination of blues, whites, and silvers in her outfit.  It looks particularly good against her dark skin tone.  I have very few action figures of black women in my collection (Storm from X-Men and Michonne from Walking Dead are the only 2 that come to mind) so Netossa is a very welcome addition.  9 out of 10MOTUC-Netossa group