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ICEBERG (KRE-O)

Kreo-Iceberg fullG. I. JOE: KRE-O

Today I have a quick little review for you.  Why quick?  Because I have very little to say about this figure.  But not because it’s bad; its actually pretty great.

I love these G.I. Joe block figures and have sung their praises many times in past reviews of Tripwire, Tele-Viper, Mutt, and others. However, they all share the same body construction so there isn’t much more I can say about the design.  Where these figures really shine as individuals is in the paint jobs and accessories.

Iceberg has an awesome paint job.  All the sculpted detail of the original 1986 Iceberg figure have been accurately recreated with paint.  He’s got his powder blue vest, furry cuffs on his gloves and boots, the holstered gun on his chest, and even the red patch on his sleeve. I also like the smirk on his face.Kreo-Iceberg-ski

Hasbro is pretty crafty about recreating all the classic Joes’ signature weapons while using pre-existing pieces.  The ’86 Iceberg only came with one large white rifle but  Hasbro still managed to show some of their ingenuity with this figure.  Kre-O Iceberg has the large (ridiculously so) white gun but he also has a pair of skies (previously included with Snow Job), a removable fur collar (which is actually just the Snow Serpent’s vest reversed) and a pair of removable goggles (previously included with multiple figures).   Now Iceberg can wear his goggles up on his helmet (which was the original figure’s only option since they were sculpted as part of his helmet) or down over his eyes where they would actually be useful.

Kreo-Iceberg jump

 

The other reason this review will be short is because I previously reviewed the 1986 Iceberg as well as the 2011 abomination produced by the Collector’s Club.  In those reviews I exhausted any Iceberg stories I may have had.

So in closing, this is another great Kreon and another great black action figure.  Stay tuned for more Black History Month reviews.  8 out of 10.

Snow Buddies

Snow Buddies

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TELE-VIPER (KRE-O)

Kreo-Televiper fullContinued from Part 3

G.I. Joe KRE-O

The most recent version of Tele-Viper is the KRE-O brick figure released in a wave 5 blind pack.

Don’t worry, this is the last Tele-Viper review I’ll subject you to for a while. I have other Tele-Vipers in my collection but I promise to wait at least a year  before I tackle another one. Besides, I’ve pretty much run out of things to say about Cobra’s communications specialists after the last 3 consecutive reviews.

The reason I wanted to review this last figure is because I wanted to go out on a high note. The original Real American Hero Tele-Vipers were alright. The new-sculpt era Tele-Vipers were vastly superior, and the modern sculpt versions hit a new low. But this little buildable figure proves that even the crappiest character can bounce back with the right toy. Clearly the original Tele-Viper design still has legs because this Kreon is totally classic and totally awesome.Kreo-Televiper back

As with the recently reviewed Kre-O  Tripwire Hasbro has managed to take a mediocrely designed vintage character and create an amazing little brick version that’s faithful to the classic while avoiding all the original’s shortcomings.

All Kre-O figures have the same body construction so there’s no room to screw up the proportions or articulation. The big head, gimpy wrists and crooked ankles that plagued its predecessors are nowhere to be found on this figure.

Kreo-Televiper bubble

 

 

 

Hasbro could’ve screwed this guy up by giving him a big doofy helmet but fortunately they gave him some slimmer fitting headgear more akin to the new-sculpt era design. All of the details on this figure are simply painted on the flat body and there aren’t even that many of them but it looks awesome. I’m consistently impressed at how well the painters are able to reproduce the sculpted details of the original figures so perfectly on these little bodies.

For accessories Kre-O Tele-Viper comes with a big backpack which is clearly inspired by the 1985 pack. He also has a hand held device that connects to the pack via a bendy rubber hose. I assume this is supposed to be the scanner that came with the original figure but it could very easily be viewed as a weapon. Whatever it is it’s ridiculously over-sized but that’s the norm for this line and part of its charm. Figures like this make me wish this line could last for years. Sadly I think we may have seen the last of them, at least for a while. 10 out of 10.Kreo-Televiper group

TOP 14 ACTION FIGURES OF 2014

2014 is drawing to a close and that mean’s it’s time for another “best of” year-end list. I’ve been blogging about toys for 3 years now so naturally this is my third annual list (check out 2012 and 2013 here). I love lists so I look forward to the slew of them that come out this time each year and I enjoy compiling my own. Let me begin by saying that this is a list of the 14 best action figures released in 2014 that I added to my collection; it is not a “best of” list that considers every toy released in 2014. There were a ton of wicked toys released this year that would likely be on this list had I got them but I can’t afford to collect everything. Regardless, I got a ton of great figures this year and was able to put together a list of top-notch toys. After much consideration, here is my top 14:

Top 2014-BeBop14. Be-Bop (Funko Pop!-TMNT) At first glance this might seem like an odd way to start the list but there’s no denying that this is a great figure. I bought 2 other Be-Bop figures this year, and another one based on the new animated series is due out soon, but none of them are as cool as this big-headed vinyl figurine by Funko. Of all the Pop! figures that adorn my work desk I think he’s probably my favorite. Be-Bop has a lot of distinguishing features and all of them are squeezed into this one little figure. There’s the earring, the nose ring, the bandolier, the mohawk, the shades, the turtle shell shoulder pads, the chains, the necklace, and the sneakers. It’s very detailed while still maintaining the minimalist Pop! aesthetic. If I were a kid I wouldn’t be so impressed with this figure as it lacks playability but as a nostalgia-fueled adult collector who only displays his toys I like things that stand out from the crowd and grab your attention; this guy does that.

Top 2014-Modulok13. Modulok (Mattel-Masters of the Universe Classics) I was pretty torn about this slot. Overall, the MOTU Classics toyline has been awesome but this hasn’t been a strong year for the line. All of the “must-have” characters were produced in the first few years so the 2014 series was mostly populated by second rate She-Ra characters. Regardless, I haven’t necessarily been disappointed by the 2014 figures, most have been quite good, but when I looked them over to see who would make this list I realized none of them felt essential enough to make the cut. The only one even close to list worthy was Modulok. Don’t get me wrong, this is an excellent figure and it’s extremely unique amongst a line full of unique characters, but I just don’t care for the character all that much personally. I never owned the original toy when I was a kid and I don’t believe he’s ever played a significant role in any of the comics or cartoons so I simply never developed an attachment to him. An equally weird multi-legged MOTU character, Mantenna, nearly topped my list last year because not only was the toy awesome but so was the character. In Modulok’s case I only feel the toy is awesome and the character is lacking. I decided to let Modulok keep his spot though because MOTU needed to be represented and he does have a very unique body construction and fun build-able play feature.

Top 2014-Tripwire12. Tripwire (Hasbro-G.I. Joe KRE-O) This was another tough call. I absolutely love this figure but I got a ton of great action figures this year and placing a little brick figure on my “best of” list seemed like a disservice to those other figures. But while those other figures have this guy beat in terms of sculpting, size, detail and accessories it’s hard to match this guy’s fun factor. You build him yourself, you can swap out his parts with other Kre-Os, you can attach him to vehicles, and he’s super cute. The paint work and the innovative accessories turn this simple brick man into the best version of Tripwire ever. He scratches my nostalgic itch for G.I. Joe and Lego at the same time. This is the toy on this list that I would’ve most enjoyed if I were still an actual child and not just a man-child.

Top 2014-Heat Viper11. H.E.A.T. Viper (Hasbro – G.I. Joe: 50th Anniversary) Heat Viper is the first of two Cobra troopers on my list this year and you may be surprised to learn that the 50th anniversary Ice Viper is not the other selection (though he was considered). The original 1987 Ice Viper was my absolute favorite Cobra Trooper when I was a kid but the updated version doesn’t quite live up to its predecessor. I gave the new figure a 10 out of 10 when I reviewed it a couple months back but the overly long neck really does bother me. My second favorite childhood Cobra trooper was the 1989 Heat Viper. There was just something about the asymmetrical half-face plate that made him look so unique and interesting. The bright yellow and purple costume, the missile boots, and the massive cannon all added to his appeal. The 50th anniversary update is more successful in Heat Viper’s case and so he edges Ice Viper off of the list. I thought this figure was so great that I actually army built 2 of them which is not something I usually do these days due to lack of space.

Top 2014-Venom10. Agent Venom (Hasbro-Marvel Legends) I don’t have many Marvel Legends figures because I’ve committed to collecting the smaller 3 ¾” scale Marvel figures. But every now and again I’m forced to buy one because a must-have character comes out in the Legends line that isn’t available in the smaller scale. This year I’ve picked up Legends versions of Boomerang, Black Cat, Carnage, Arana and others and each of them is awesome but the leader of the pack is Agent Venom. This Walgreens exclusive figure is the first collectible I know of to showcase Venom’s current militaristic look. Most people know Venom to be Eddie Brock, the hulking Spider-Man villain who basically looks like a ‘roided out Spidey with a toothy grin. Well times have changed and Venom is now Peter Parker’s good friend/high school bully/war vet, Flash Thompson. I really like the new look and alter ego because I think the character was getting stale. This figure perfectly captures Venom’s new costume which is equal parts soldier and super hero. It features great sculpting, loads of articulation and multiple accessories.

Top 2014-Deaths Head9. Death’s Head (Hasbro-Marvel Universe) Growing up I was a hardcore Marvel kid. You could call me Galactus the way I devoured the Marvel Universe. Between my brother Doug and I we collected most of the comics Marvel published and we read all the character profile books so we knew every nook and cranny of the Marvel U. Some of the obscure characters that live within those nooks are some of my favorites, Death’s Head being one of them. This character hasn’t actually appeared in that many books, his own series only lasted 10 issues, but he left an impression on me. He’s one of the coolest looking Marvel characters out there so he totally deserved to be made into an action figure but I still can’t believe Hasbro actually made one this year. Some of the MU figures are pretty weak but this is the type of figure that keeps me coming back.  He’s bulky, colorful, well detailed, and includes multiple accessories.

Top 2014-Jabba8. Jabba the Hutt (Hasbro-Star Wars Black Series) I’ve always loved Jabba the Hutt. I’m a sucker for big monsters and this figure fits that bill. It blows previous Jabba figures out of the water with it’s massive girth, detailed sculpting, and paint job. This is the most film accurate Jabba toy ever produced and I simply had to have it.  You could argue that this toy was overpriced (approximately $40) given that its basically a big immobile slug with very few moving parts but what little movement it has really works. The fact that his mouth moves realistically when you tug on his arm is what guaranteed Jabba his spot on this list.

 

Top 14 Swerve7. Swerve/Trash Talk (MakeToys- Transformers) I’ve run out of things to say about Swerve and his twin Gears. Between the two of them I’ve written 6 reviews now. Last year third party company iGear’s versions of each of them made my year end list. In retrospect only their version of Gears (named Cogz) should have made the list. iGear’s Swerve (named Veer) was way better than the Hasbro produced version I had in my collection but it was still a far cry from the character I loved from the IDW comics. This year another third party company, MakeToys, took a stab at the pair. Their Gears (named Cogwheel) was very nice and nearly list worthy himself but it was their version of Swerve that really blew me away. THIS is the Swerve I’ve been waiting for. MakeToy’s version is named Trash Talk because of Swerve’s loud and jovial personality in the comics. James Roberts writes him with a ton of personality and you can see it on this toy’s face (Well the smiley one at least, he has an alternate destroyed face). Trash Talk is a great figure, and while Hasbro themselves released a decent version of Swerve  in 2014, this toy is the definitive version of Swerve in my collection.

Top 2014-StormTrooper6. Storm Trooper (Hasbro-Star Wars Black Series)  This figure crept on me which is why there isn’t a link to a full review (though there will be soon).  I like Storm Troopers, who doesn’t?, but I did not plan on adding this figure to my collection.  I already have so many Storm Troopers in my collection, mostly 3 3/4″ figures but also bigger and smaller versions, that I couldn’t justify buying this 6″ version.  I already promised myself I’d be very selective when it came to purchasing Hasbro’s Black Series figures.  I bought this figure for Doug as a Christmas present but then he went and bought himself one just before the holidays.  I had to scramble to find him something else and I kept this figure for myself.  I did not expect to be so impressed with this figure but as soon as I opened it up and had it in my hands I thought it was the best Storm Trooper ever.  Everything about it is great: the sculpting, the articulation, the rifle and pistol accessories, and the crisp white of the uniform. Now I want to go buy 5 more of this figure so I can have a little squad on my shelf.  Damn you, Doug.

Top 2014-Catwoman5. Catwoman (DC Direct-Designer Series: Greg Capullo)  This is another late edition to the list.  I loved it from the moment I saw it online and pre-ordered it a few months back but I didn’t expect to have it in hand before the end of the year because my pre-order at BigBadToyStore still hadn’t been filled by X-Mas.  However, I found this figure on sale at Giant Robot Comics on boxing day and I couldn’t resist grabbing it then and there and subsequently cancelling my pre-order.  I’ve wanted a good Catwoman figure for years but I haven’t been satisfied with any of the previous incarnations. This version is pretty much perfect.  The sculpting is beautiful and the costume choice is exactly what I’ve been waiting for.  I love the all-black catsuit with the over-sized goggles.  You’d think this outfit wouldn’t allow for a ton of detail but everything from the buckles, to the zipper, to the wrinkles look great.  The inclusion of a realistic whip sealed the deal.  DC Direct (now known as DC Collectibles) has been absolutely killing it this year.  Many of their figures could have made this list (Robin was close) but their female figures have been especially impressive.  Case in point…

TOP 2014-Supergirl4. Supergirl (DC Direct – New 52) Supergirl is a character who was long overdue for a decent action figure. She’s been around in the comic books since the 1950s and she even starred in her own live-action movie long before it was the fashionable thing for superheroes to do. Many Supergirl action figures have been released over the years but none were anywhere near as good as this one. This figure beautifully captures her look from DC’s New 52 Universe.  The body is nicely articulated and it features some really cool looking metallic paint.  I’m a big fan of the non-sensical knee-less boots for some reason.  The head sculpt is great with soft features and a nice hair design.  The paint on the face really enhance this figure as well.  The light blue eyes look appropriately alien and the natural lip color was a wise choice as opposed to giving her bright red lipstick (it suits Catwoman but not the more wholesome Kara).

Top 2014-Toxo3. Toxo-Viper (G.I. Joe Collector’s Club – 2014 Convention Set) When I heard that the Club was going to be including 3 Toxo-Vipers in their zombie-themed convention set I was stoked. The original Toxo-Viper figure from 1988 was another one of my favorite Cobra troopers and, like Heat Viper and Ice Viper, that figure had yet to be released in the modern style. I was extremely disappointed when images of this figure first hit the internet and we discovered that the Toxo-Vipers in the set were based on the version 2 design from 1991; a figure I never owned and to which I have no nostalgic attachment. However, I had to admit that this figure, with its newly sculpted head by Boss Fight Studios, was pretty damn cool looking. Once I had the set and the Toxo-Vipers in hand I was blown away by their design and quality. I absolutely love this figure and the fact that there’s 3 of them (6 if you count the zombified versions), which allows me to make a small squad, makes it that much cooler. The new head and the mix of re-used parts look great together and the color choices tie it all together nicely.  This figure was a very pleasant surprise.

Top 2014 Cykill2. Cy-Kill/Salmoore (DX9 –Go-Bots) This third party designed version of Cy-Kill, the evil leader of the Renegades from Tonka’s Challenge of the Go-Bots, is amazing. I’ve been pretty blown away by third party Transformers for a few years now (see Stormbomb from my 2012 list or Cogz from 2013) but for whatever reason I did not expect one of those companies to tackle Go-Bots. It makes perfect sense that they would because these characters aren’t being produced by Tonka, Bandai, Hasbro or any of the other “real” toy companies and there’s a fan base out there that wants them. I’m so glad DX9 produced this update to Cy-Kill and I really hope it leads to more Go-Bots in the future. As soon as I saw this figure online I knew it was a contender for toy of the year. Needless to say, I was not disappointed once I had this figure in hand. I love everything they kept from the original character design and I love everything they changed. The design is great from his stern facial expression right down to his asymmetrical feet. The real rubber tires and the multiple chrome pieces were key elements of the original figure which DX9 has replicated here.  I love it.  Cy-Kill was slated to be crowned the number one action figure of 2014 but his plans were abruptly foiled by Vanessa at the last minute.  Just like last year, Vanessa bought me an epic toy for Christmas which bumped everyone down a spot in a surprise upset.  Destro, Invisible Man, and Scunner were all bumped from the list completely thanks to Catwoman, the Storm Trooper, and…

Top 2014-Crow1. The Crow (Hot Toys)  The Crow is my all-time favorite movie.  I’ve watched it countless times and I can recite all of the dialogue with ease.  For me, the combination of great story, gothic visuals, awesome music, amazing acting, and teenage angst was a recipe for perfection in 1994.  I’m sure it would be my favorite movie regardless but the fact that Brandon Lee died while making it just gives it some added weight.  I have a couple of Crow figures in my collection and they’re pretty cool but nothing anyone else does in the toy industry compares to what Hong Kong-based Hot Toys does when it comes to action figure craftsmanship.  Last Christmas Vanessa bought me their Snake Eyes figure based on his look from G.I. Joe: Retaliation.  She had asked for gift ideas, I mentioned Snake Eyes and she asked about it a couple of times afterwards.  So while it was a great gift it wasn’t a total shock or surprise to receive.  This year Vanessa didn’t ask for suggestions, we set a spending limit of $100, and she specifically told me she had a more practical gift in mind for me this time.  So obviously I had no idea that she was planning on buying me this figure because he is far from practical and also quite far from $100.  I wanted this figure so bad when it became available earlier this year but I simply couldn’t justify the hefty price tag.  I placed it in my online shopping cart many times but always removed it.  Thank goodness for girl friends. I can’t do this figure justice in a mini blurb so I’ll post a full review soon but one glance at the picture to the left tells you pretty much all you need to know.  You can barely tell that its a picture of a toy and not the real Brandon Lee.  The eyes are particularly haunting.  The other toys on this list didn’t stand a chance.

Top 2014

 

 

 

TRIPWIRE (KRE-O) (2014)

Kreo-Tripwire fullG. I. JOE : KRE-O

Not too long ago I reviewed Mutt, a G.I. Joe Kre-O figure. Kre-O is Hasbro’s in-house Lego knock-off which is completely compatible with the real thing. I actually think Kre-O is superior in some regards because their mini figures are better articulated. In my Mutt review I lamented that the G.I. Joe Kre-Os in particular are very hard to find in my neck of the woods. While you can find the Transformers stuff everywhere, the Joe line is exclusive to Toys R Us and the one Toys R Us in my city doesn’t seem to carry it. It looked as though I was doomed to track the figures down on ebay which would cost me a pretty penny when you factor in the cost of shipping to Canada.

However, within days of posting the Mutt review my friend Darryl, who owns the comic shop Giant Robot Comics in Dartmouth, messaged me on facebook. He said that he was venturing down to the U.S. of A to take advantage of Black Friday sales and that he would keep his eyes peeled for Joe Kre-Os for me. Score.Kreo-Tripwire back

He messaged me after his shopping spree to tell me that he picked me up 4 playsets and nabbed nearly 50 wave 4 and 5 blind bagged single figures which he would divvy up between me and our mutual friend and fellow Joe collector, Glenn. I picked up my stash from Giant Robot a few days later. I was expecting a sizable bill but between the Black Friday discount and Darryl’s generosity it ended up being a very affordable haul. My Kre-O woes are behind me. I still don’t have a complete set but after that score I’m pretty damn close.Kreo-Tripwire collection

I still haven’t opened all of the playsets yet because I’m saving them for Christmas morning (I’m gonna need something to do while bumming around my parent’s house for a couple of days) but I have opened all the blind packed single figures. You’re not supposed to know what figures are inside the blind packs but there were discreet codes perforated into the foil of the first few waves of figures so nerds in-the-know could pick and choose the figures they wanted without opening the packages. But Hasbro has done away with the codes on waves 4 and 5 so I was as in-the-dark as the average consumer when I ripped into my latest blind packs. Out of the 24 packs I ended up with 6 doubles which isn’t too bad.  Fortunately Glenn also got 6 doubles so we promptly made a swap.

Each wave of G.I. Joe Kre-Os has been impressive and 4 and 5 are no different. They featured a wide array of Joes from various eras of the brand. I’d be hard pressed to pick a favorite as Kre-O versions of some of my favorite characters were included this time around, such as Zarana and Nemesis Enforcer, but if I were forced to single out the best of the bunch I think I’d go with Tripwire.Kreo-Tripwire unmasked

Tripwire is the Joe team’s explosive ordnance disposal expert. The first Tripwire action figure came out way back in 1983 and was one of the first Joes in my collection. His file card described him as clumsy and jittery so I always saw him as kind of a goofball and played him for comic relief.  It was hard to imagine him as anything but a background Joe since the original toy didn’t even come with a gun; just a mine detector and a couple of mines for detecting. While his military specialty wasn’t very exciting and he was never the hero of my bedroom battles he always seemed like an integral member of the team anyway. I really liked the design of his outfit, with the padded vest and the goggles, but unfortunately the ’83 figure didn’t quite pull it off; it looked kind of wimpy to me with its scrawny arms, big round head, and dopey expression. The first modern version of the character (version 5) was released in 2008 and it helped to make Tripwire seem less goofy but it still didn’t come across as a “cool” figure.

Kreo-Tripwire minesOddly enough, I think this little brick figure is the “coolest” Tripwire we’ve gotten yet. I can quite put my finger on why but I just really like this figure. I don’t think his padded costume has ever looked better and, within the confines of being a brick person, I think this is the most well proportioned Tripwire to date. It’s also the first Tripwire figure to show his eyes beneath the goggles and I think it helps to humanize him. He’s got angry eyebrows and a stiff lip which make him look like a guy you wouldn’t want to mess with for the first time ever. While the removable helmet is a neat new concept the rest of his accessories are very familiar. He has a rounded backpack and his classic mine detector, complete with a hose to connect it to the backpack. The detector is a little oversized but it looks pretty cool.  It’s amazing what some creatively made accessories and a slick paint job can do for a simple brick figure. 10 out of 10.Kreo-Tripwire compare

MUTT (Kre-O)

Joe-Kreo-Mutt fullG. I. JOE: KRE-O

I love these Lego compatible Kre-O G.I. Joes but they also frustrate me to no end.  The Joe Kre-Os are exclusive to Toys R Us which means there’s only 1 location in my city where I can buy them at its not the most convenient place for me to get to; it’s not like I can just pop in there every day. My local Toys R Us got the first wave of playsets and the second wave of blind packed figures. As far as I know that’s all they’ve ever carried. I managed to get half of the wave 1 figures from a comic shop but I haven’t had any opportunity to buy the wave 3, 4, or 5 figures or any of the vehicle or playsets released after the first wave. Re-Os have been on sale on Toys R Us .com a few times but they don’t ship to Canada. We have our own website, Toys R Us.ca, and they never have anything good.Kreo-Mutt side

Now I could buy these figures on ebay but the figures are blind-packed which means they’re completely sealed in a foil package and you don’t know what figure is inside. Now, keeners like myself are aware of the hidden code perforated into the foil that identifies each figure so when I’m in the store I can examine the packages and select the figures I want, thus avoiding getting doubles. When I buy blind packs online I don’t have that luxury so I have no idea which figure I’ll end up with. Some sellers do sell the specific figures opened but they tend to charge a premium for those. So rather than spending a fortune on secondary market purchases I’m holding out hope that maybe my Toys R Us will eventually stock the latest Kre-O releases.  Until that time I’ll have to remain satisfied with the few figures and sets that I do have.

Mutt, the Joe team’s dog handler, was included in wave 2. Hasbro has done a great job of capturing the essence of the original 1985 Mutt figure and distilling it down into this little brick man. This figure is immediately identifiable as Mutt. Not only are the colors spot on but the torso has all the familiar elements (sheathed knife, pockets, red shoulder pads) and the face has Mutt’s signature mustache and sneer. Even the accessories are recreated quite well. He has his Mac 11 submachine gun (though this one is comically over-sized), his nightstick, and his trusty K-9 sidekick Junkyard.Kreo-Mutt gun

For some reason Hasbro decided to make Junkyard a bulldog this time around. I’m not sure why since he’s always been a Rottweiler (i think) in the past. It’s not a big deal though I would’ve preferred a more vintage-accurate Junkyard.

Kreo-Mutt dogIt’s also interesting that Mutt has a couple of scratches under his eye. Are we to believe these  wounds were inflicted by Junkyard? I can’t imagine Junkyard ever biting the hand that feeds him. Perhaps it’s just regular wear and tear one incurs while battling an evil snake-themed terrorist organization determined to rule the world.

This is a cool little figure. 8 out of 10.

WARPATH (KRE-O)

Kreo-Warpath fullKRE-O : TRANSFORMERS

I think it’s time for another Kre-O review. I’ve accumulated a hefty little collection of these Lego wannabes over the past year and a half but I’ve only reviewed a couple of them. The main reason for that is I find them hard to photograph. I’m a pretty sucky photographer at the best of times and these figures, with their flat bodies, tend to reflect the flash so badly that I lose all the detail. I shall try to take decent pictures for this review but I’m not promising anything.

The first wave of Kre-O blind packed Transformers, called “Micro-Changers”, consisted of 6 figures, a couple of popular characters and a few B-listers. I found them for sale for a buck-fifty in a drug store sometime around Christmas 2012. I never had any interest in block figures as an adult collector before but for that price I figured I’d check them out. I bought 2packs, hoping for Galvatron and Sunstorm but I ended up with Scorponok and Waspinator.  I found them to be a cute novelty but I assumed they would be my first and last Kre-O figures.Kreo-Warpath G1

But shortly afterwards Hasbro announced that they were planning a line of G.I. Joe Kre-Os.  I’m much more of a Joe junkie than a Transformers guy so I knew I’d have to get those. And if I was gonna amass a brick army of Joes I figured I might as well pick up a few more Transformers to help populate the shelf.

The second wave of Transformer blind pack Micro-Changers consisted of 12 figures; this time about half of them appealed to me. I was paying full price for them now (about $4.00) so luckily I had since discovered that there were character identifying numbers discreetly perforated on the sides of the packages; meaning the blind packs weren’t quite so blind. Wasting money on doubles is never fun and these numbers were a big help in avoiding that. But, while it was nice to be able to pick and choose the characters I wanted, it did cost me some dignity as I rooted through the box of blind packs placed by the front cash of my local Toys R us, carefully searching for specific numbers.

Kreo-Warpath compareA few more waves of figures have come out over the past year and a half and each time I go through the same embarrassing search. My rummaging has paid off though because I have almost all of the blind pack characters I want and none of the duds. Warpath is one of those figures I sought out in wave 2 (package number 43 if you’re interested).

Warpath is an Autobot who transforms into a little red tank. He’s been around since the very beginning with his first figure being released in 1985. That original toy left a little to be desired but it was still pretty great in its simplicity. Warpath was far from an integral character in the Transformers mythos but every line he spoke in his cartoon appearances was memorable. “BANG! BOOM! POW!”

This Kre-O version of Warpath is okay, not great. I’m sure it’s not easy to turn Transformers into Lego men and have them look accurate to their original toys but with Warpath they really missed the boat. Warpath always has a distinct grilled faceplate, not a smile. The red color, the tank treads on the arms, and the gun turret on his chest, all identify this as Warpath but I really wish they had put the proper face on him.  It wouldn’t have cost them any more money or required any more pieces to be included.  A few streaks of paint to represent his grilled faceplate would have made a world of difference.  It’s a shame.Kreo-warpath chestless

Another thing that bothers me about this figure is that there’s some really nice painted detail on his chest but it gets covered up by the red vest that slides over top of it.  This was an issue on many of the early Micro-Changers but Hasbro seems to be doing a better job of not hiding all the detail on more recent releases.

His tank mode is pretty ridiculous looking but I appreciate the effort that goes into working two build-able modes into one teeny little figure like this.  5 out of 10.Kreo-Warpath tank

SNOW JOB (KRE-O)

Joe Kreo-Snow job fullG. I. JOE / KRE-O

Yesterday I reviewed one of my major Hal-Con purchases, Snake Mountain.  Today I had planned on reviewing my other major purchase, an electronic Godzilla.  However, yesterday’s post ran a little long and I feel that Godzilla could run long too so I decided to break it up with a short and sweet review.  Today I’ll be looking at Snow Job from wave 2 of the G.I. Joe Kre-O blind packs.  Kre-Os of the Transformers variety can be found just about everywhere these days.  Unfortunately the G.I. Joe themed sets and figures are exclusive to Toys R Us.  There’s only one Toys R Us in my area and even that one isn’t easily accessible to a guy like me who doesn’t drive.  I never found wave 1 of the blind packs at Toys R us and to this day only have about half of the figures.  When my pal Andrew notified me that he spotted wave 2 at Toys R Us a while back I sent Vanessa over to grab me whatever they had.  I was delighted to find out they had the entire wave, including the Cobra Eel I recently reviewed.  Toy hunting can be fun sometimes but it can also be very satisfying to snatch up an entire wave of new figures in one fell swoop and be done with it. Joe Kreo-Snow job art

Like the Eel, and most of the Kre-O figures for that matter, this block figure is is an excellent representation of the vintage 3  3/4″ figure.  The Joe team’s original Arctic Trooper was first released way back in  1983.  All of the details from that 80s figure are present here (on the front at least.  The backs of these figures still leave a lot to be desired).  Snow Job’s belt, shoulder straps, breast pockets and shoulder pouches, which were sculpted on the original figure, are all recreated here simply with paint.  He’s got his signature orange beard and big black goggles.  This tiny figure even one-ups it’s predecessor by having a removable hood.Joe Kreo-Snow job back

All of the vintage figure’s accessories are represented here as well.  He’s got his rifle, skis, ski poles, and backpack.  The poles can be stored on the backpack just like in the good old days but for some reason they failed to make the backpack able to store the skis as well.  I’m not sure why they would have omitted this crucial feature as I’m sure it would have been easy enough to replicate with the inclusion of a single brick.  Instead the pack has some weird circular piece on the back which I haven’t figured out yet.Joe Kreo-Snow job side

 

 

This is an excellent figure and I really hope this line lasts long enough for me to get Lego-ized versions of all my favorite G.I. Joe characters.  8 out of 10.

COBRA EEL (Kre-o)

Kreo-EelG. I. JOE / KRE-O

A couple of months ago the action figure world of G.I. Joe collided with the brick figure world of Lego and thus Kre-O Joes were born.  Kre-O is Hasbro’s in-house brand of Lego which is completely compatible with the king of brick toys.  The first major Kre-O crossover was with Transformers.  The initial sets allowed you to build large-scale Autobots and Decipticons out of bricks and then reassemble them into their vehicle modes.  Small Lego-men style versions of the characters were thrown into the boxes, seemingly as a bonus toy afterthought.   I had no interest in building Transformers out of Lego but the little men intrigued me.  Apparently I wasn’t the only one who fancied the little guys because Hasbro has shifted their focus to the little men instead of the larger construction sets.  Once the Transformers started getting released in small blind packs, retailing for around $4.00, I got hooked.  It’s been less than a year since I bought my first Kre-O toys and now my collection has outgrown the new bookshelf I bought for them.

1985 original EEL

1985 original EEL

The main reason my collection has grown so fast isn’t because of the individual figures but because of the larger vehicle sets that came out once G.I. Joe got in on the action.  I don’t usually buy vehicles for my regular sized Joes because they’re expensive and take up too much room.  The Kre-O vehicles on the other hand are small, relatively affordable, and you get to build them yourself.  The Kre-O toys actually allow me to have some fun with my purchases as I snap them together.

Earlier this week my pal Andrew informed me that our local Toys R Us had stocked the second wave of blind packed Joe figures.  The first wave proved very difficult to find (I still need half the figures) so I didn’t want to waste anytime snatching up wave 2.  Andrew told me that the box had already been picked through when he was there so I didn’t have high hopes when Vanessa popped into the store for me last night.  Luckily they must’ve restocked because Vanessa texted me to say that they had all 12 unique figures.  Luckily I armed her with my credit card before she went out and I told her to grab the lot of them.  On that note, $4 a figure doesn’t seem like much until you buy 12 of them, they add up quickly.Kreo-Eel unmasked

I feel that the wave 2 selection of characters is far better than wave 1.  There isn’t a dud in the bunch.  I’d be hard pressed to name my favorite but it’s probably either Major Bludd or the B.A.T.  For my first wave 2 review I’ve opted for the Cobra Eel.

The  Cobra Frogmen known as EELS were first introduced to the brand in 1985.  It was an excellently designed figure that filled a need in the Cobra ranks.  They had cool accessories like flippers and an air mask.  My brother Doug owned the EEL figure when we were kids.  Doug also owned Undertow, the Lamprey, and Copperhead.  The closest thing I had to an aquatic Cobra was Secto-Viper.

My Cobra dive team began to fill up in the early 2000s with new troopers like the Morays and the Electric Eels.  In 2008 I finally got a decent representation of the original 1985 Eel.  The 25th anniversary version had a really cool fully removable helmet with a “glass” visor.  Otherwise he was quite similar to the original in design only more detailed.Kreo-Eel back

This Kre-O version is much less detailed but equally awesome.  I’m very impressed by how much care the Kre-O designers take to recreate the looks of the original figures.  Even the knife belt on the lower leg of the 1985 figure is recreated here with a dash of paint.  As far as the helmet goes this little guy has more in common with his 2008 counterpart.  The helmet is removable and has a glass visor which can be lifted to his brow.  Underneath the helmet is the same little masked face present on many of the Cobra Kre-O troopers.Kreo-Eel pair

 

 

 

This figure’s accessories are near perfect representations of the original’s gear.  He comes packaged with 2 flippers, a 2-piece harpoon gun, and an oxygen tank backpack.  he also comes with a Kre-O display base which unfortunately can’t be used when he has his flippers on.  This little figure is awesome.  8 out of 10.

 

ARCEE (Kre-O)

TF-Kreo-Arcee fullTRANSFORMERS KRE-O

Arcee was part of the new generation of Transformers that were introduced in the 1986 animated Transformers movie.  I’ve talked about the film plenty in older posts when I reviewed other new characters that were introduced in the film such as Cyclonus, Unicron, Kup, Quintesson, and Wheelie, so I won’t rehash it again.  But in case you haven’t read those posts or seen the movie basically all of the Transformers from the first few years of the brand were killed off and a bunch of new heroes and villains were introduced to replace them.  It was quite jarring at the time and it took a long time for me to embrace the new characters.  The comic books published by Dreamwave and IDW have helped me with that.  In the comics all of the new and old characters interact together.  Even baddies like Galvatron and Scourge  are unique characters now instead of being reincarnated versions of old characters as was the case in the animated universe.  Once the “new cast” was no longer the “replacement cast” it was a lot easier for me to accept them.  Now, some of those next generation (not to be confused with generation 2 ) characters have become favorites of mine.TF-Kreo arcee art

Back when the movie came out the toys available in stores reflected what we saw on screen.  Gone were the race cars and airplanes, replaced by cybertronian spaceships and whatchamacallits. The reason for this was because many of the new characters had never been to Earth and therefore never adopted Earth vehicle alt modes.  I never owned too many of the next generation/movie toys as a kid.  I had a Sharkticon and Doug had a Rodimus and Wreck-Gar but that was about it.  However, if you were a fan of the new characters almost all of them were available in toy form.  There was no Unicron figure in the 80s but a transforming planet was kind of tough to pull off so his omission was understandable.  The Quintessons were also absent from toy stores, but again, since they were basically just hovering eggs I can imagine that Hasbro didn’t think they’d sell all that well and they were probably right.  But there was another omission from the movie based toy line which was much more appalling…Arcee. TF-kreo Arcee toon

It’s not hard to figure out why Arcee didn’t get made, she was a girl, and a pink one at that.  But still, as the first and, at the time, only female Transformer I feel that Hasbro could have taken a chance and released a figure of her.  Who knows, maybe she would have sold like hot cakes because boys and girls would both have wanted her.  I mean, there was one girl in Voltron, one girl in the Smurfs, and probably one girl in plenty of other toy lines geared towards boys, but those characters got made.  Hasbro’s other major 80s property, G.I. Joe, had 5 or 6 major female characters by this time.  The fact that Arcee never got a toy back in 1987 seems crazy to me. TF-Kreo Arcee pose

What’s even more crazy is that to this day we still haven’t got a decent Arcee figure.  She’s been released as a spider, and a big clunky car and while they may have got the colors right, those figures were a far cry from the G1 accurate Arcee that fans like myself wanted.  Arcee appeared in the second live-action Transformers movie and got a toy based on that but the toy was just as brutal as the flick itself.  The Arcee that I have on display on my Transformers shelf is her blue motorcycle version from PRIME.  I actually like that figure but I only bought it because it seemed like I would never get a decent, cartoon-accurate one. TF-Kreo Arcee car

I should mention that there have been some nice busts and statues of Arcee released and some cool non-transforming PVC figures as well.  But those aside, I think this recently released KRE-O version is the best transforming Arcee toy ever released.  Granted, these KRE-O figures don’t actually transform, you need to disassemble them and rebuild them as vehicles, but that’s close enough.  I picked up this blind bagged figure along with a handful of others on a recent trip to Toys R Us.  Once I got her all snapped together it just reminded me what a crime it is that there are no decent figures available of this character.TF-Kre0 Arcee promo

I’m always surprised at how well Hasbro is able to capture the unique look of a character in Lego..er…I mean KRE-O form.  I’ve built up a decent sized army of KRE-O figures these past few months and each one is unique despite them all having the same basic  block body.  A simple paint job and a couple of add-on pieces goes a long way in differentiating them.  As you can see, Arcee has the basic block body as a base, nothing fancy, but the pink and white color scheme immediately make her identifiable as Arcee.  The white helmet isn’t completely accurate to the animated look but it’s a decent approximation and the little red lips really sell it as the lone female Transformer.  I like that she’s got dual pistols; I believe she wields them in the IDW books.  Her vehicle mode is pretty damn cool when you consider the limitations of such a small block toy.  I say hats off to Hasbro for making them “transform” at all.  I’m amazed at how many variations they’ve come up with to transform one of these figures into a vehicle or an animal.  This is a very cool little figure.  A must-have for any Transformer or block collector. 8 out of 10.

QUICK KICK (KRE-O)

Kreo-Quick kick fullG. I. JOE : KRE-O

I was not planning on spending any money today.  However Vanessa and I had accumulated a fair amount of recyclables which were taking up a lot of space in our laundry room.  She was adamant that we get rid of them today but the recycling depot that we usually visit down the street isn’t open on Sundays.  So she found a depot across the bridge in Dartmouth that was open and away we went.  Once we were finished with that task and I had a fresh $7 in my pocket I suggested that we pop into Giant Robot Comics, a very nice little shop on the Dartmouth side that I don’t get to visit as often as I’d like to because of it’s location.  My reason for visiting today was not for myself but because my sister had tasked me with finding a plush Hulk for her son who’s having a birthday next weekend.

No luck on the plush Hulk unfortunately.  They had plush daleks and walking dead characters but I don’t think either of those are up Ty’s alley; he’s turning 4.  However I did notice that they had recently stocked the G.I. Joe Kre-O blind packs.  Toys R Us has an exclusive deal, at least here in Canada, to sell the Joe Kre-Os.  They hit the shelves here a couple of months ago, right around the time that Retaliation was hitting theaters.  My local Toys R Us got in all of the various vehicle sets but they didn’t get any of the blind bagged single figures.  Originally I thought I would probably only get the blind packed figures but when they failed to show-up I caved and bought all of the vehicle sets.  You may recall that I reviewed the Checkpoint Alpha set a while back.  I’ve checked back several times in hopes of finding the blind packs but to no avail. Kreo-Quick kick package

I had a lot of fun building the vehicle sets but I don’t really have the room to display them so I’m not sure that I will continue buying future assortments.  The single figures though are small and easy to display so I figured that I would collect all of them, if I could ever find them.  Well today I found them.  The single packs are blind, meaning you don’t know which character you’re getting when you buy the little cellophane packet.  Luckily there is a code on the packages that is not supposed to be known to consumers which tells you which character is inside each pack.  Thankfully Darryl  (owner of GRC) had saved me the trouble of matching up the codes to a list online because he had already labelled the blind packs himself.  If he had the entire assortment there I probably would have bought them all but since he only had seven of the twelve available figures I decided to pick a few choice characters.   I bought Joe Colton, Jinx, Scarlett and Quick Kick.Kreo-Quick kick instructions

Quick Kick was first introduced in 1985, arguably the best year ever for the G.I. Joe brand.  He was a Hollywood stunt man turned soldier who specialized in martial arts.  His portrayal in the cartoon was pretty goofy, what with his bad John Wayne impressions and all, and his comic book appearances never left a big impression on me either.  His most memorable tale from the Marvel comics was probably the one where he was killed. 😦  Kreo-Quick kick animated

And yet I always liked this character.  Yes it was silly that he was barefooted and bare-chested on the battlefield but the diversity that he brought to the team was welcome.  The more Joes that could pass for village people the better I always thought.  Quick Kick was one of those classic characters that I didn’t own for a very long time.  Doug owned the ’85 original and the character didn’t get updated during the new sculpt era.  It wasn’t until a modern sculpt version was released in 2008 that  I finally had a Quick Kick to call my own.  And now I have two.Kreo-Quick kick fight

This Lego style KRE-O Quick Kick is pretty great.  I like the smirking face and the hair piece is very well sculpted.  He’s got “working” nunchucks, a sword that can be sheathed on his back, a couple of throwing stars (which he doesn’t hold very well), a frozen fudgee bar  which comes directly from the cartoon, and a display base.  Not a bad lot of accessories for a figure that’s only about an inch tall.  The only real issue I have with the figure is that the blocky wrists and shoulders look extra weird considering that this guy is topless.  However I can forgive that type of thing on a block figure.  7 out of 10.