Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wonder Man & Union Jack


One of the big problems with hard to find exclusives is that when you finally get one and it's not 100% you're reluctant to return it because God only knows when you'll be able to find another one. That's my problem with these guys. They're Toys R' Us exclusives, but they're hard to find because Toys R' Us doesn't really support minimates all that much. They don't restock them that often. So when I found them on the shelves I snatched them up because I really wanted Union Jack to fill out my Invaders line-up. (He also looks awesome.)

But he didn't come with his knife. Now looking at it one way, his knife is a small accessory I might lose anyway and it's almost unnoticable. But on the other hand HE'S SUPPOSED TO COME WITH HIS KNIFE. This is only 99% of the proper figure. Ugh. I think I need to contact Art Asylum over this.

Other than that these guys are great. Union Jack looks great. I'm not a huge fan of Wonder Man's current utilitarian costume, (seriously, dude looks like a utility worker) but it's a good representation of it.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Deadpool (X-Men Legends: Wolverine)



Deadpool started out as a parody of another villian. Slade Wilson is Deathstroke: the Terminator. Wade Wilson is Deadpool.

But in the 90's Deadpool moved away from his parody roots, came into his own as a character and had one of the greatest ongoing comic books ever. It was great, a wisecracking psychotic maniac struggling to overcome his natural impulses and be a hero until he decides that he'll settle for just being a slightly better person who occassionaly does heroic things. Written by Joe Kelly, it was hilarious and moving, both irreverent and touching.

It also kinda cemented Deadpool as an awesome character who was fricking hilarious in the way he interacted with the rest of the Marvel Universe. He's become one of the most popular characters in the Marvel Universe. So of course they put him in the Wolverine movie. And as a result we get toys of him. In the 3.75" scale. This baby is from the first wave of the movie toys, which for some reason depicts characters as they look in the comic books rather than their drastically different movie appearances.

But I think the movie costumes suck, so things are good. Although I have no idea what that giant sai is supposed to be.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Marvel Minimates Wave 24



They keep getting me to buy the variant figures by making them more awesome than the regular ones. This time the variant is the Tarantula, who is just ridiculous and thus must be owned in minimate form, where ridiculous characters can be cherished because why the hell would you make a minimate version of them?

That pretty much sums up the entire wave actually. I mean Cosmic Spider-Man? The Shocker? It's like they decided to pick up everything I love about the Spider-Man mythos solely for the fact that it's become a huge joke. Also, they finally made a new version of Black-Costume Spider-Man that doesn't cancel out completely the original one they did as a variant way back in the single digit waves.

Of particular interest is the new version of Venom who comes with enough pieces to recreate 3 different costumes.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Big Barda (New Gods: DC Direct)



Why did I buy this toy?
Long story short, I bought the DC Universe Classics Mister Miracle figure and decided I needed a Big Barda figure to round it out. See I'm one of those that think that the two are a package deal. Their story is pretty awesome, but pretty much they're husband and wife who escaped from a life of servitude and opression to become superheroes.

Big Barda came out recently as part of the DC Universe Classics line. But I went with the DC Direct Big Barda that was released as part of the New Gods Line. This is mostly because the Big Barda from DC Universe Classics isn't in the proper scale. In the comic books Big Barda is big. She towers over most others, even her husband. The DC Universe Classics is small, smaller than her husband. Meanwhile the larger scale of the DC Direct figures means that this Barda is larger than the DC Universe Classics figures, and thus is a more proper scale with the line.



Any regrets?
Since I went with the DC Direct figure over the DCU Classics figure I needed to be prepared for less articulation. I'm surprised how much more less I should have been prepared. I really thought the shoulder were ball joints. They aren't. They're peg joints and thus the range of movement is insanely restricted.

Are you happy with your purchase?
Yeah. On the shelf everything looks just right. Barda is bigger than her husband, as it should be.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Astrotrain



Finally, here's the last of my posts about Transformers triple-changers figures. Out of all such figures I own in that category, this is definitely my favorite.

Ever since I first saw Transformers: The Movie in the early 1990s I wanted an Astrotrain figure. He turns into a space shuttle AND a train! That's awesome! While I eventually picked up a reissue of the original figure, I was looking forward to this toy when the Transformers Classics line was announced.

Classics Astrotrain embodies what I was looking for in the line: an update of the original figures with acceptable levels of articulation, with little to no fiddling around with the details. It always aggravates me when Hasbro makes a new toy of an old figure, but totally change the appearance and transformation scheme for no good reason, usually to the detriment of the toy (witness the abomination that is Universe Cheetor clogging your local department store action figure aisles). Sure, Astrotrain converts into a bullet train instead of a locomotive, but that's acceptable as the new alternate mode allows for greater visual consistency in all three forms.

Unlike the original toy, this Astrotrain has tons of articulation. But perhaps more importantly, the figure's arms aren't tiny stubs on weak ball joints like the previous incarnation. I'm afraid to remove the gun from the original figure's fist for fear of breaking the arm off while attempting to do so. Classics Astrotrain's thighs are a bit short, but not too much. And I really like the shoulderpads, which make the figure look more substanstial as a villain.

I know a few reviewers online took exception to this toy because it didn't meet whatever their expectations were, but it meets mine, and I'm happy to have bought this as my first figure from the Classics line.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

IG-86

I'm not a huge fan of Star Wars figures. I'm not really that into the expanded universe, the figures ussually have questionable articulation, and I still have bad feelings about some of my purchases back in the 90's. But they're in 3.75" scale (for the most part) and I do like that scale for toys.

When I saw the IG-86 figure and how many joints it had, I thought to myself, I should get that. And I'm glad I did, the thing's like a fricking Chinese Acrobat. (I'm Chinese, it's not as racist a statement as you might think.)


Also, due to the hole in its back for the gun backpack, IG-86 is one of the few non GI Joe 3.75" figures that can wear a GI Joe jet pack.

Kinda about toys, sorta.

Lego Rock Band announced

A lot of people are wondering, "What the hell is the point of this?"

Personally, I can see it. Lego Rock Band's song set is primarily designed to strongly favor pop songs. The revealed songs wouldn't be out of place on a Kidz Bop or NOW That's What I call Music CD. The Rock Band brand is more identified with "ROCKING OUT" as opposed to "GREAT FOR KIDS!" But here's the thing, working at a library that actually has Rock Band sessions for the public: KIDS LOVE THIS GAME. So if you were to offer them the Rock Band Experience coupled with the pop songs they like then you have a hit.

But in order to not offend the "ROCKERS!" that love the primary Rock Band brand and are afraid that a "Pop Lite" Rock Band would weaken their rocker cred, you release Lego Rock Band and say, look guys, you see this: This is essentially Diet Coke. If you drink regular Coke you still get to say you're a hardcore Coca Cola drinker, but they're also letting people who want a smoother beverage get in on the Coke action so they can serve them too.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Octane, AKA Tankor



Yes, the packaging calls him Tankor, but this figure is an update of the third year Generation One Transformers figure Octane, not the Vehicon tank general from Beast Machines. I'm sticking with my preference for the name Octane for this review.

Why did I buy this?

A test shot of the unpainted prototype made it look really cool. Months later my brother came upon it at the store, but told me he passed on it because in person it looked lame. I bought one anyway.

Any regrets?

Well, my brother was right. Octane is disappointing. Two of his three modes are lackluster, and when one of those is his robot mode, that's a big problem in my eyes.

Let's start with the robot mode. He doesn't have hands; he has wedges with figures sculpted on them. The halves of the cockpit sit on the top of his shoulders in an unappealing manner. The upper arms consist of molded immobile tires and thin strips of plastic. The torso is too small. The legs look ridiculous. The weapons are lame. Seriously, there's a comb-like blade that's too big to get the figure into a decent pose while holding it, and there are two guns attach to one another to create . . . a gun that sits on top of another gun.

The truck mode is weak, not looking like any lorry I've ever seen. Additionally, the instructions and the packaging don't tell you that the two guns attach to the cab to become the smoke stacks (which is kind of clever). I'm not even going to mention the scale issues with other vehicles because, hey, this is a tractor truck that converts into a cargo plane, and you should have seen the problem with that going in. Speaking of the cargo plane, that mode is pretty decent, but it's a bitch changing the toy from that mode to truck mode, because it involves folding the wings together, which is made difficult by the four propellers on the end.

Am I happy with my purchase?

Not really. Sure, it's a Decepticon to help boost the ranks, but every time I pick it up to fiddle around it, I end up disappointed and place it back on the shelf.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Cyber Controller


I'm usually not a big fan of Doctor Who build-a-figures because I never want all 10 figures that are required to make the final product. But the Cyberman Build-a-figure only requires you get 4 figures and it's the Cyber Controller from the story "Tomb of the Cybermen."

The Cyber Controller wasn't the most amazing thing to look at, but he did tower over the other characters. Unfortunately the figure is the same size, if not smaller, than the other 5-inch Doctor Who figures.

As things go, it was nice to get this figure, but not something I'd probably go out of my way to find. However, due to its BAF state, it is one of the few figures I own whose waist joint allows for 360 degree movement, and that always amuses me.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A shame really.

I went to Target and saw the Star Trek and Terminator movie toys.

Wow, they really look like ass. And what about the part where you pay $25 for a Star Trek playset but it isn't complete unless you buy all the figures with their add-on pieces?

That's bullshit, that is.

It's all a real shame, because I'd love to get a 3.75" Sulu or Spock. But these look horrible.

Oh man. I just realized. They look like the knock-off toys you can get in Chinatown.

Cyber Leader - The New Doctor


You can tell a Cyber Leader by its black head handlebars. In the episode "The Next Doctor" they went even further, redesigning the Cyber Leader head to be more distinctive. Now it had an exposed brain and more black features.

I have to admit, while I'm glad the Cybermen are showing up again, I'm not a fan of the New Series design for them. It's too clunky and robotic. So I wasn't excited by the addition of a Modern Cyberman in the Cyberman wave. I also think the inclusion of the Cyber Leader meant that one of the other Cybermen designs from the 80's (my favorite design) was neglected.

As a figure, the body is pretty much a straight reuse of the Cyberman body they've been using, so it shares all the limitations thereof. I hate how impotent the joints are. The head is new, but not impressive. A very meh figure for me. But I want the build a figure parts, and buying the wave as a bundle made it cheaper. So yeah, I bought it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Cyberman - The Invasion


Why did you buy that toy?
"The Invasion" was the first Cybermen story to feature the head that all future Cybermen costumes would copy. The tear drop eye has even survived into the New Series Cybermen design. Actually the head design seen here was used for every Cybermen story through the 80's, which is my favorite Cybermen design. But since none of those designs were made into a toy, I had to get this one since it's the next best thing.

Any regrets?
Out of the entire line, this toy has the least amount of articulation. The head has limited movement, the hips are prevented from having any articulation due to the design of the torso, and there are no bicep swivel joints that the newer Doctor Who figures have. The hip issue actually makes it harder to balance the figure in a standing position.

As if to make up for the lack of articulation, this is the only Cyberman in the wave to have a blaster, although one it can barely hold onto.

Are you happy with your purchase?
Yeah, I guess. It is a Cyberman action figure with my favorite head design. But it definitely could have been improved.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Cyberman - The Tenth Planet


"The Tenth Planet" is known for 2 things. It introduced the concept of regeneration (the Doctor's molecules restructure themselves when he dies, thus allowing a new actor to take over) and it introduced the Cybermen. Since it was 1966, creating cyborgs for television meant they looked a bit crude. Very crude actually. And that look is accurately reflected in this toy.

1) Their heads look like they're covered in cloth masks. That would be addressed in their next appearance, and after this they always had what looked like a metal head.

2) Giant lamp on their head. Every Cyberman that followed had a lamp and those weird handlebars on the top of their head. They became streamlined as design and costuming technology advanced, but they were always there. The same can be said about their giant chest units.

3) They have human looking hands. The Cybermen aren't robots. They're humans who have replaced their body parts with mechanical bits. To convey this in "the Tenth Planet" the costumers decided that the Cybermen should have human hands to indicate that the mechanical stuff has been added onto a human body.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Cyberman - Tomb of the Cybermen


Why did I buy that toy?
When I was a kid I'd seen clips of Doctor Who on television but didn't give a damn. "Tomb of the Cybermen" was the story that got me into the program. A lot of that was the awesomeness of the Cybermen. I love the Cybermen. They're my favorite Doctor Who monster. So imagine my great happiness when they announced a special wave of Doctor Who toys focusing on the various looks of the Cybermen. (The Cybermen are cyborgs that constantly upgrade themselves. As a result it made perfect sense for them to look different every time they reappeared on the show. Result: many designs to base toys on.)

This toy is based on how they looked in "Tomb of the Cybermen," which holds a special place in my heart for the aforementioned reason. It's a great interpretation, very faithful to their look in that story. I'm still in shock that they made a quality action figure of these guys. It's got a surprising number of joints, and even more surprising the joints work despite the high number of connecting cables that might hinder movement.

Plus it comes with Cybermats! The deadly cyber-vermin.

Any regrets?
Nope. It looks awesome. Normally I'd be disappointed that the head doesn't have a joint, but the costumes didn't allow head movement so it actually makes sense.

Are you happy with your purchase?
Hell yes.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Blitzwing



I love Transformers and I love themed posts, so let's kick off the first in a series of reviews showcasing Transformers triple-changer figures!

(By the way, if you have no idea what a "triple-changer" is, it's a Transformer that can change into two vehicles as well as a robot)

Why Did I Buy This Toy?

After picking up a few Transformers: Animated figures, I became a fan of the line. I wanted to get a Voyager-class figure, and I ultimately settled on Blitzwing here. Like with Bulkhead, I mainly got the figure because I'm a fan of the character. On the cartoon series, Blitzwing here reflects his physical characteristics by having three distinct personalities. All of which are German. That's goddamned brilliant.

Ever since I was a kid, I always liked having more villains in my collection than heroes. This is because toy companies consistently make more heroic character figures than antagonists. This has particularly plagued Transformers toy lines, so I'm always looking to add more Decepticons to my ranks. It helps that, unlike Bulkhead, Blitzwing is towering in robot mode, as suits his size class.

Any regrets?

One of my personal preferences for Transformers figures is that I want figures that can carry weapons in robot mode. Blitzwing can't.

Oh, he has two big rocket launchers on his back. But unless you're acting like a dork and flying the figure around the room while you go "Weeeee!", they're useless in robot mode. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that the character uses tons of weapons in the cartoon. Hell, if the rocket launchers could flip down, that'd be fine.

The arms are a lesser problem, but still somewhat irksome. The lower arms are oddly sculpted, and contain open palms so you can't even give him a weapon from another figure. Coupled with the inhibited articulation cause by the wings, it's hard to get the arms into a position where they look good.

Am I happy with my purchase?

Given I simply display my figures, it's hard to complain about Blitzwing. Aside from the odd arms, it looks pretty imposing on the shelf. As an added bonus, his face rotates to showcase all his crazy Kraut personalities. I like to display him with his Colonel Klink face.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Secret Invasion Boxset (minimates)



Why did I buy that toy?
One of the things I like about minimates is that the various bits and pieces are interchangable. Spider-man's head on Batman's body? No problem. So the idea that they came out with a boxset with extra heads to swap onto existing minimates? WHY THE HELL DIDN'T THEY THINK TO DO THIS BEFORE?!

The Skrull heads are perfect for this. They're shape-changers so them sporting someone else's body with a skrull head makes perfect sense.

Also, this boxset has the very first versions of Furry-Blue Beast, Green Phoenix, and Jewel. Now I don't give a crap about Jewel, an attempt by Bendis to do a Spider-Woman homage, but I likes the Claremont Era X-men. In minimate form, it's a must get. And the fact that the back of their heads can rotate around so they can become skrulls? Neat.

Any regrets?
The Skrull half of Beast's head is still visible when he's supposed to be beast. So Beast actually looks "green around the gils."

Am I happy with my purchase?
Sure. I really like those extra skrull heads. And the green Phoenix and 80's Beast mean I'm that much closer to creating a full Dark Phoenix Saga era X-Men line-up. And the last bit (classic Angel) is coming out with the Champions Boxset. Soon. Very soon.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Donatello (TMNT)

Why did I buy this?

I still remember when I got my first Ninja Turtles figure in 1988. My mom took my older brother and I to KB Toys, where she promised to buy us something. We had some Galoob Star Trek: The Next Generation toys in our hands ready to go when we noticed the display for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures. Holy crap! We didn't even know there were toys! My brother got Leonardo while I got Donatello. I don't even remember why I chose Donatello; I'm a fan of the character now, but I don't recall if I had a special attachment to him back then. That day began a four-year stretch of assembling a ridiculous amount of Turtles figures and vehicles with whatever money I could get my hands on. It was the first toyline I truly collected. Still, one thing that got to me was that the Turtles didn't really look like they did on TV. I think that's the first time I noticed action figures not adhering to character models from the media that spawned them.

Around 2003, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise made a comeback, which included a new cartoon series and a new toyline from stalwart Turtles toy manufacturer Playmates. I still had several of my old figures, so I only got a few from the new line. This is not include Donatello; I had replaced my original broken figure with a new one in 1992, and that one was still in pretty good shape.

Things changed when the CGI-animated TMNT film came out. These figures basically looked the way I always wanted Turtles figures to look. This figure is tall and lithe, recalling the design model from the 1980s cartoon, and is loaded with more articulation than even the originals had. I knew I had to get Donatello. Don here comes with his bo staff, of course, but also comes with tech gadget (because he's a nerd, see?) and some other junk that I put somewhere that I can't remember. But really, you don't need it. It's just a great figure, either standing in a neutral pose, brandishing the bo staff, or kicking and punching. The accessories are just icing on the cake.

Any regrets?

Unlike most Turtles figures, the four protagonists do not get their own unique body sculpts in the TMNT line. So if you own one figure, you pretty much don't need to get any others. Isn't it insane that Playmates actually gave their original figures of Leo, Raph, Mike, and Don (characters who share the exact same body and are only differentiated by their bandana colors and weapons) unique molds?

Am I happy with my purchase?

Yes. This might be my favorite Turtles figure ever.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Sixth Doctor



Like I said before, I was really into the classic Doctor Who series when I was a teenager. For a few years my favorite Doctor was Colin Baker's Sixth Doctor just because out of all of them, he was the most loud and weird, and when you're a teenager that sort of appeals to you.

Of course then I grew up. Also I actually saw some of this stories. When you're only reading the novelizations of the stories you interpret character differently than they actually are. Colin Baker had the bad luck to become the Doctor in the mid-eighties when they tried to experiment with stuff to make the show better. New episode lengths that screwed with pacing, trying to make the Doctor an unlikable anti-hero with touches of dangerous psychopathy, and a wild insane costume that clearly brands him as an outsider not afraid of declaring that fact. Out of all of it I only like the costume which I found charming.

So essentially this toy is an embodiement of everything I like about the Sixth Doctor. That he's a guy who says "up yours" to the status quo regardless of silly it makes him look.

Incidently, if you listen to the Doctor Who audio plays put out by Big Finish, they figure out how to make the Sixth Doctor work by presenting his manic insanity as an aspect of his uncompromising dedication to nonconformity.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

New Goblin & Spider-Man (minimates)

You know what, I hated Spider-Man 3 as a movie. I disliked the New Goblin design. But I ended up buying the minimate because it's James Franco as a minimate and they don't exactly make a lot of minimate villains so you've got to get them when you can. But mostly because its a James Franco minimate.

Look at it, it actually looks like him!

...

Yeah thats all I got. I think I have a minimate problem.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Tunnel Rat & Storm Shadow (GI Joe: Resolute)


I fricking love Tunnel Rat. I never really paid him any mind during the original run of GI Joe ARAH came out, but ever since college I loved him. Why? Racial identity issues. In all of GI Joe, Tunnel Rat is the only Asian whose primary character trait isn't that he's a martial arts master. Quick Kick is fricking Bruce Lee and everyone else is a ninja. But Tunnel Rat? Tunnel Rat is a grunt who happens to be especially good at fucking shit up in small confined passageways. So show the love for Tunnel Rat, defying the prevalent stereotypes in GI Joe.

Meanwhile he's packaged with one of the big 2 ninjas in the Joe-iverse. But this version of Storm Shadow isn't wearing the ninja threads, he's all about the samurai gear, which I don't really get, since it seems that'd be an issue when you're fighting a wave of infantry with machine guns, but whatever, it's GI Joe. They have a military called "Ninja Force". (Incidentally, if the military did create a branch called "Ninja Force" I bet enlistment would rise.) I like his helmet, and more importantly he comes with an amusing mask that also can be worn by other 3.75" scale figures.

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