Blog Archives

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

 

OTACHI (2015)

PR-Otachi fullPACIFIC RIM

Let’s do a little Pacific Rim recap.  The film was released in 2013 and with it came a prequel graphic novel and the first wave of 3 action figures.  I was a little disappointed with all 3.  Don’t get me wrong, the movie is pretty awesome and I’ve watched it multiple times but I still think it could have been more awesome.  I didn’t feel invested in the human characters and many of the story elements failed to interest me.  But I don’t generally watch monster movies for the humans or the story anyway, I watch for the monsters, and the monsters/Kaiju in Pacific Rim did not disappoint.  The visual effects were amazing so despite a lagging middle section the movie is still a lot of fun to watch.  The graphic novel was okay but forgettable.  At least it wasn’t a chore to read like the new PR series, Tales from the Drift, which launched 2 months ago.  We’re 2 issues in so far and it’s a total bore.  As for the toys, I only bought Knifehead from wave 1.  It was a nicely sculpted figure but it was smaller than I had hoped and it was lacking in articulation. Fortunately NECA improved on those points with wave 2; the figures were bigger and more articulated.PR-Otachi front

The wave 2 Kaiju was Leatherback.  I still haven’t got around to reviewing it but it was a very nice action figure.  It just so happens that I didn’t love that particular creature from the movie so I wasn’t super excited about the toy (probably why I haven’t reviewed it).   The next bunch of Kaiju figures were Trespasser, an improved Knifehead, Scunner, then Axehead.  I bought them all and I liked them all but they were all pretty much the same toy with different heads. Those 4 Kaiju had the same basic build and if the line carried on that way I probably would’ve gotten bored.

PR-Otachi bellyThankfully NECA infused some excitement into the line by announcing that their next Kaiju figure would be Otachi.  He’s a completely different shape than the previously released figures.  He walks on all fours, he has wings, he has a tail, he’s got a crazy tongue….he’s awesome.  So needless to say I was really looking forward to getting this figure.  However, when this toy actually went up for pre-order at BigBadToyStore my excitement turned to frustration.  Otachi is bigger , he’s more articulated,  and he required more newly sculpted pieces than previously released figures so I expected him to be a bit more expensive. I did not expect the price to jump from 30 dollars to 80 dollars. And not only did they jack up the price but the figure didn’t have Otachi’s signature wings.  It pained me to pass on this figure but I had to. I just knew that NECA would release a winged version later so if I was going to overpay for this thing I was at least going to overpay for the version I wanted.

Version 2

Version 2

Sure enough a winged version of Otachi was released about 6 months later. My patience paid off, right? Wrong. The second version was lacking Otachi’s signature tail. What the hell NECA?  You expect me to buy two incomplete figures of the same character for $80 a piece?  Damn you.

To be fair, both Otachi figures are screen accurate.  When he first shows up in the film he has a long tail and he’s crawling around on all four legs.  Gypsy Danger snaps his tail off and only then does Otachi  spread his wings and take to the sky.  What NECA should have done is include removable wings and a removable tail with the first version then collector’s could choose to display him however they wanted.  I would’ve much preferred they did that and charged me an extra $20 for the removable pieces rather than try to sell me a whole other figure at full price.PR-Otachi spit

So after the second Otachi was released I had to decide what was more important to me, the tail or the wings.  As cool as the wings are, that second figure looked dumb to me with a stump for a tail.  The proportions seemed all out of whack.  At least the first version looked like a complete figure so that’s what I went with.

I bought this figure from my local Toys R Us a few weeks back and it cost me over $100 in Canadian funds.  I wasn’t happy with the price tag considering what I’ve paid for all my other Pacific Rim figures but if I wanted this guy (and I did) I had to pay the piper.  Version 1 was sold out on BBTS by then and I’d seen people selling it on ebay for over $100US so I figured I’d better do it now rather than wait and possibly end up paying even more.  So was it worth it?PR-Otachi open

It’s hard to say whether it’s worth $100 dollars or not but it is pretty f**king awesome so I guess so.  The sculpting on this figure is excellent.  It’s 18″ long and 7″ tall and every one of those inches is covered with sculpted detail.  He’s got scales, and armour, and spikes, and bioluminescent ports all over him. The front legs have great looking feet with creepy crooked thumbs and the folded wings are evident on his forearms.PR-Otachi movie

The head is particularly well done. He has a bat-like snout and two fleshy horns at the front of the face and the top of his head features a sculpted grainy wood-like texture.  The jaw splits in two to reveal a blue tongue covered in white nodules.   You have the option to remove the tongue and replace it with a stream of blue acid spit as seen in the movie.  The split jaw is pretty freaking looking and reminiscent of the mutated vampires seen in one of Guillermo Del Toro’s other movies, Blade II.  Personally I like to display Otachi with a closed jaw.

PR-Otachi tail

The tail is perhaps the highlight of the figure as is likely what resulted in such an increase in the price.  it’s super-detailed and it features over 10 points of articulation.  It’s very similar to the multi-segmented tail seen on the 2014 movie Godzilla figure I reviewed a while back.  The end of the tail features 3 articulated claws which move in unison.  It’s reminds me of a squid’s beak.  I like it displayed openly but it can be closed tight enough to grip other figures.  The tail is removable so you could take it off and attach it to the winged version if you like which is nice but I have no plans to buy version 2 myself.  The only problem with the tail is that I find it falls off of the figure fairly easily if you’re handling him.

The paint work on this figure is very nice too.  I think he’s molded in black plastic with a dark green wash over the whole thing but it may be the opposite.  He has lots of splashes of blue for the bioluminescence and a bit of yellow in the eyes and nose.PR-Otachi baby

The last thing I’ll mention is the accessories this figure came with.  I already told you about the optional  acid stream but Otachi also comes with his baby.  In the movie Otachi dies and a baby version bursts from his chest and chases down Newt only to be strangled by its own umbilical cord.  Well this figure comes with a teeny version of that baby which I suppose is in scale.  The baby has multiple paint apps and even has 3 points of articulation.  Pretty darn cool.  I only wish there was a compartment in Otachi’s chest where I could store it.

In summary, I love this figure.  I wish it wasn’t so expensive but if you’re on the fence like I was I say go for it.  I haven’t removed him from the coffee table in my living room since I got him; I just really dig looking at him.  Here’s hoping that the next Kaiju figure, Mutavore due out this month (pre-order for $59.99 at BBTS), is just as cool. 10 out of 10.PR-Otachi Godzilla

PR-Otachi group

AXEHEAD (2014)

PR-Axehead fullPACIFIC RIM

There was some doubt for a while but a Pacific Rim sequel is officially happening in 2017 and I’m pretty excited by the prospect of it.  The first film had a lot of potential even if it fell short in a few places.  One area where the film really succeeded was in the creature designs.  The Kaiju featured a good blend of fantasy and believability; they were ugly and alien but inspired by real-world animals which grounded them in reality.  They shared similar characteristics so you could believe they all came from the same world and yet they all looked unique and had their own defining calling card.

My favorite Kaiju from the movie was Knifehead.  Unfortunately the wave 1 action figure of Knifehead is rather disappointing.  Thankfully, Neca improved their figure design significantly by the time they got around to my favorite Pacific Rim toy to date, wave 4’s Scunner.  In between the release of those two figures was wave 3’s Trespasser.PR-Axehead box

Trespasser was the first of Neca’s new and improved Kaiju.  It was bigger, more articulated, and featured a more elaborate paint job than the wave 1 and 2 figures.  I read on another blog that the reason for the change in size and style is because the toyline was originally going to be sold in Walmart stores but that deal fell through and Neca saw that as an opportunity to do the figures how they originally wanted to.  I don’t know if that’s true but I’m happy about the shift in direction whatever the reason may be.  Both Trespasser and Scunner are awesome figures, as is the wave 3 re-release of Knifehead; a figure I haven’t picked up yet.  Neca had really hit their stride with this line and I was  excited to see which Kaiju they would tackle next.

PR-Axehead face

I was rather surprised and disappointed when it was announced that the next Kaiju figure would be a repaint of Trespasser named Axehead.  It seemed like a good way to lose momentum on the hot selling toyline. I planned on skipping the underwhelming Axehead. I was much more excited when Neca announced they’d follow up Axehead with their largest Kaiju figure to date, the 18″ Otachi.

Now I’d love to get the Otachi figure but it retails online for around $70 which is more than double the price of previous figures.  Plus, there is speculation that Neca will release a winged version of Otachi down the road.  I only need 1 Otachi in my collection and if its going to cost me $70 I’d rather it be the winged version so I opted to wait for Neca’s next announcement before splurging.  Since I put the Otachi purchase on the backburner and I was still looking to scratch my Kaiju itch, I decided to give Axehead a second look.  I was  intrigued by the fact that he was being marketed as a brand new character.  Had this figure just been released as Trespasser version 2 I surely wouldn’t have bought it but new characters are always tempting.PR-Axehead compare

After some internal debate I came to the conclusion that the paint job was different enough to warrant picking him up after all.  Where Trespasser and the other Kaiju have been mostly grey with a few colorful highlights Axehead is colorful throughout.  It’s almost hard to tell if he’s black with a green wash or green with a black wash but I’m leaning more towards the former.  I think the figure was molded in the same gray plastic as the others but a green paint wash was liberally applied so that his skin tone is quite a bit different.  His underbelly has an aqua blue hue and instead of stark lines of color as we’ve seen in the past Axehead has yellow dots dabbed on his chest neck and shoulders.  It’s an odd paint deco but all-in-all it works pretty well.

PR-Axehead hands

Paint job aside I was surprised to discover that this wasn’t just a straight repaint of Trespasser.  There are actually several differences in the figure  construction:

1. Axehead has boney spiked protrusions on his knees that Trespasser doesn’t;

2.  Axehead only has 3 fingers on his small secondary arms while Trespasser has 4;

3. Axehead has the same hands as Scunner which look like they’d be useful for digging or swimming while Trespasser’s hands are open claws more equipped for fighting;PR-Axehead heads

4. Axehead has a much smaller shell on his back and one of the spiky protrusions is battle damaged;

5. And the heads are even different.

The heads look the same at a glance but on closer inspection you can see a number of subtle differences such as in the ridges over the eyes and in the structure of the axe.  Axehead is based on this creature’s concept designs where as Trespasser is based on the final product that appeared on screen.  It’s kind of a cool idea and I actually wouldn’t mind getting a few more concept figures.

broken jaw

broken jaw

 

I’m quite happy with Axehead (other than the fact that mine arrived with an unhinged jaw which refuses to snap back into place) and would definitely recommend you snag one if you don’t already have Trespasser.  Axehead isn’t essential if you do already own the Trespasser figure but there are enough differences between the two to distinguish them from one another if you are considering adding an extra monster to your shelf.  8 out of 10.PR-Axehead shells

 

SCUNNER (2014)

PR-Scunner fullPACIFIC RIM

As a monster fan I was super stoked about the movie Pacific Rim coming out, however, I was a little disappointed with the end result. Don’t get me wrong though, I  did enjoy it and I thought the monsters looked great. It was more so the human story and the robot designs that let me down. After seeing the designs for the Jaegers for the first time I knew I wouldn’t be collecting any of them in action figure form, they just didn’t do it for me, but  I was excited about the Kaiju figures, even after being slightly disappointed by the movie. I could not wait to get my hands on a Knifehead figure based on the trailers I had seen in the months leading up to the release of the film.PR-Scunner back

But, like the film itself, that first Pacific Rim figure failed to meet my lofty expectations. It was good, it just wasn’t great. The articulation was very limited, the paint apps were muted, and worst of all he seemed small. He stood about 6” tall which is a pretty standard action figure size but he was supposed to be a massive, city-stomping monster. I don’t need all my monster action figures to be 2 feet tall necessarily (because I’d have nowhere to put them) but I feel they should be at least 12 inches.

Luckily Neca upped their game before the next wave of PR figures hit the shelves. The later Kaiju figures were bigger, bulkier, better articulated, and more colorful. Wave 2’s Leatherback was superior to Knifehead, wave 3’s Trespasser was superior to Leatherback, and wave 4’s Scunner is my favorite Kaiju figure to date.

PR-Scunner head

My favorite monster in the film is still Knifehead and thankfully Neca released a bigger and better deluxe version of him as part of wave 3 alongside Trespasser.  Sadly, I couldn’t justify buying another version of Knifehead so soon after I bought the first one but I’m pretty sure that I’ll scoop it up eventually. Both Trespasser and Scunner were built with the reused body of that wave 3 Knifehead as the base. You could argue that it’s a lazy cost saving measure by Neca to reuse the same body parts for all the creatures but that’s the way they looked in the movie. If you recall, it was discovered that the Kaiju are actually all clones so it makes perfect sense that they would share physical attributes. Besides, Neca has stepped up and sculpted all new bodies when it was warranted for more unique characters such as Leatherback and the upcoming Otachi.PR-Sunner face

Also, the bodies used for Knifehead, Trespasser and Scunner aren’t as similar as they appear at first glance. Neca has swapped out a few parts here and there so that each has their own unique design.  For example, when I pose my Trespasser and Scunner side-by-side I can see that they have different tails (Scunner’s is 3 pronged), different “shells” on their backs, different hands, and perhaps even different forearms.  Scunner also has an additional layer of armour over his chest and shoulders to further differentiate him from his clone.

The best part about this figure, as is always the case with the Pacific Rim figures, is the head sculpt.  The different headshapes are what really make each Kaiju distinctive. Scunner looks like a shark crossed with a bull then put through an alien blender; he’s all kinds of weird looking.   He’s also super cool looking.  I love his hammerhead-like eyes and the big giant horns on the sides of his head.  He’s got 2 rows of little needle teeth and a sculpted tongue that you can see when you open his mouth.  His jaw is hinged but it doesn’t have as much movement as previous PR figures.PR-Scunner movie

Besides the wicked sculpt this figure also has the best paint job we’ve seen yet.  I’ll admit I wasn’t sold on the lines painted on these figures when I got my Knifehead figure.  They looked like an afterthought and the yellow used was really dull.  But on the later figures like Scunner here the designers have really embraced the lines and made them bright and bold.  Scunner features vibrant turquoise swirls and patterns all over his body just like he did in the movie when he battle Gypsy Danger at the bottom of the sea.  It looks fantastic.  These figures would be much less interesting to look at without them.

This is an awesome figure and I’m looking forward to adding more Kaiju to my shelf since these figures continue to get better and better.  Next up is Axehead.  Scunner gets a strong 9 out of 10.

PR-Scunner group

TRESPASSER (2014)

PR-Trespasser fullPACIFIC RIM

One of the movies I was most excited about seeing last summer was Pacific Rim. Not only was it a monster movie inspired by Godzilla and similar Japanese Kaiju films, but it was directed by Guillermo del Toro who has directed great pictures like Hellboy, Blade 2, and Pan’s Labyrinth. Del Toro has a unique visual style and is a good storyteller so I figured we’d be treated to a monster movie like no other, a big-budget cinematic tour-de-force as opposed to the B-movie schlock we monster fans usually get.PR-Trespasser face side

I liked it, probably even more so upon my second viewing, but I was initially a bit disappointed by it. The monsters looked great but they were usually shown in the dark of night or underwater or both and it was often hard to decipher the details of their designs. I really wasn’t a fan of the robot/jaeger designs, especially the hero, Gypsy Danger. Plus I found the story dragged in parts and suffered from poor/over acting. Having said all that, the monster vs robot fights were awesome and that’s primarily what I was there to see. There hasn’t been much talk of a sequel but I hope we get one so Guillermo has a chance to improve on the first. Pacific Rim is a franchise with a ton of potential.

PR-Trespasser backPrior to their release I was just as excited about collecting the Pacific Rim action figures as I was about seeing the movie. But like the movie my initial reaction to the toys was underwhelment (if that’s a word, I know it’s not ‘cause I looked it up). The first series of figures consisted of one monster, Knifehead, and 2 robots. I always knew that I’d collect all of the monsters but I was on the fence about the robots right up until the figures were released because as I stated, I didn’t love the designs. When the toys arrived at Strange Adventures I was disappointed by their size, their lack of articulation, their shoddy paint jobs, and their high price tag. The splotchy paint apps on the robots insured that I wouldn’t be purchasing any of them. I did buy Knifehead but I definitely felt ripped off having paid thirty bucks for him.

I was hoping for big new monster toys that I could display next to my King Kong and Godzilla figures but size-wise Knifehead didn’t come close to measuring up. The sculpting on the figure was decent but it only had a few points (9) of articulation which really limited his posing possibilities. I was glad to have him, as he was my favorite monster in the film, but I questioned whether I would buy any future releases. PR-Trespasser compare

The second series featured two more robots and one more monster, Leatherback. Leatherback was larger than Knifehead, his paintjob was much more-eye catching, he had increased articulation (over 20 joints), and he had a completely unique design. Buying him was a no-brainer.

When the wave three monster figure was revealed, Trespasser, I was bummed to see that NECA had reused Knifehead’s body. The only apparent difference between Trespasser and Knifehead was a newly sculpted head. This meant that all of the improvements seen on Leatherback would be undone. I was quite sure that I would not purchase Trespasser once he showed up in stores.PR-Trespasser face

But then of course he showed up in stores and I had to have him.  This Trespasser figure is WAY better than my Knifehead figure.  The online images were deceiving.  While this figure as the same basic body design as Knifehead (the monsters are all clones so it makes sense they’d share features) it’s an entirely new sculpt.  This figure is substantially bigger, probably by 2 inches, that he ends up being even larger than the bulky Leatherback (he’s still not big enough to go toe to toe with my Godzilla or Zilla figures but it’s a good size).  This new body sculpt features 19 points of articulation, superior sculpting, and an excellent paint job.  Like Knifehead, Trespasser also has a flexible tail and a shell on his back.  Trespasser’s shell is much bigger  and really adds some bulk to the figure.  The jaw opens and closes and he looks great either way.  This dude has the freakiest face of all the figures released thus far.  While I was lukewarm on Knifehead I can wholeheartedly reccomend this figure.  Best of all, NECA has released a new and improved “battle damaged” version of Knifehead in this improved scaleso get ’em both.  8 out of 10.PR-Trespasser group

KNIFEHEAD

PR-Knifehead fullPACIFIC RIM

So yesterday was Wednesday which means new comic books.  I popped on over to the new Strange Adventures location on my lunch break to grab my weekly stack.  This week’s haul consisted of Spider-Man, Superman, Supergirl, Tank Girl, and the Killjoys.  However, in an all too common scenario, I didn’t leave with only my comics.  Displayed in the window was the first wave of Pacific Rim action figures based on the Guillermo Del Toro monster flick due out this Friday.  The 3 figures included in the wave consisted of jaegers (robots) GIPSY DANGER and CRIMSON TYPHOON and kaiju (monster) KNIFEHEAD.  I’ve been super stoked about this movie since it was first announced and I originally imagined that I would end up buying all of the action figures associated with it (Robots vs Monsters? action figure no-brainer). But in the months leading up to the release, as images of the jaegers were released, I found myself unimpressed; especially in the case of Gipsy Danger, who is the hero of the picture.  Seeing the figure in front of me did nothing to win me over. If anything it solidified my opinion that Gipsy Danger is lame looking which is especially frustrating because this movie isn’t based on any existing property, meaning they could have made him look like anything in the world and yet they went with this.  meh.  Crimson Typhoon is cooler looking but not cool enough to warrant the $30 price tag.  I left both jaegers in the window.  Knifehead however I could not resist.  This ugly mother f**ker was just way too cool looking to pass up.PR-Knifehead face

I set him down on the front counter with my comics and expressed my joy to the shop owner, Cal, about buying the figure.  I grew up on Godzilla movies and  just can’t get enough of big ol’ city stomp’n monsters.  Well to my delight Cal presented me with a free double pass to an advance screening of the film in 3D Imax for that very night.  Boo-Yah!

PR-Knifehead frontAs soon as work got out for the day, Vanessa and I headed over to the movie theater to get in line.  We scored some excellent seats and settled in for a wild ride.  Vanessa did not have the same enthusiasm for the film as I did going in but she ended up quite enjoying it.  I enjoyed it too but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t also disappointed with it.  I won’t give away any surprises so it is safe to read on.  I just found the script weak and the acting bad.  The scientists inserted as comic relief failed to generate any laughs and the practical sets failed to impress me.   Having said all that, I was going to this film to see giant robots fighting giant monsters and this movie delivered in that department.  The CG looked great and the battle scenes were enormous in scale.  Unfortunately the action was shot Transformers style meaning I didn’t know what the hell I was looking at half the time.  And every fight scene takes place at night, usually in the water, so we never really get a monster money shot.  Still, you should go see it.PR-Knifehead back

Knifehead’s scene was brief but he was my favorite monster in the film.  He looked badass and he got to lay some serious smack down.  I was excited to get home from the movie so that I could open up my new toy of him and maybe review him for you guys.  I opened him as soon as I got in and, like with the movie, I was torn.  The figure looks great.  He’s got a really nice sculpt, especially in the face and his skin has multiple cracks and bumps which add plenty of texture.  The paint aps are decent and reflective of the look from the movie although, as Vanessa pointed out to me, some glow in the dark paint would have been sweet.

PR-Goblin SharkThe main problem is the lack of articulation.  There is very little movement in this figure.  His jaw opens slightly, his arms and legs move forward and back and he has knee and elbow movement….that’s it.  His smaller secondary arms have no movement at all and his frig’n head doesn’t even turn.  His limbs really should have been ball jointed to allow for some more dynamic posing and fighting. This thing is way to stiff for a $30 figure in my opinion but he does still look cool as hell.  It looks to me like he’s probably based on the real-life Goblin Shark which is a solid choice for a monster design.  Plus his name is hella cool as well.  I will likely buy a few more of these kaiju figures provided they release more.  I only wish they were bigger so that I could display them next to my 12″ Godzilla.  7 out of 10.

Who needs Jaegers?

Who needs Jaegers?