I got a couple of figures for my birthday a few weeks ago, but since I've got a backlog of toys I've actually purchases in need of reviews (Deathstroke! Transformers Universe Onslaught! Crimson Dynamo!), I'll just discuss the two highlights here.
There are few figures that are still absolute must-haves for me in the DC Universe Classics line, and Martian Manhunter topped the list. He's just hitting stores now, and like a good friend Mario got me one as a present. Except when it arrived in the mail, it was the variant version--the one with the Martian head and the unremovable blade-hand. Luckily, the buyer he obtained it from on Amazon.com exchanged it for the regular version.
There are plenty of DCUC figures I would have normally acquired (Spectre, Mr. Terrific, Wildcat) if not for the blanding, homogenizing effect Mattel has wrought on the line by using the exact same base bodies over and over. Knowing Mattel, I was aware that Martian Manhunter would reuse as many parts as possible, but because he was one of the few truly essential figures for me in the line, I decided long ago that I could live with that. Aside from the all-new head, belt, harness, cape, and boots (which cleverly add height to the figure to replicate the character's towering stature), the lower body is the exact same thing you get with all but a select few DCUC male figures, while the upper body comes courtesy of Hawkman.
Despite the reuse, you could count on it being a great-looking figure, right? Well, kinda--there are some definite issues. The longer shin pieces do make J'Onn J'Onzz appropriately tall when placed next to other figures, but they don't look all that proportionate on the figure itself; the net effect is that his legs end up being too long. Furthermore, the length of the legs and the bulk of the torso piece makes the midsection look too skinny and the arms look positively puny. The figure looks alright in certain poses and these issues do not impact the fun aspect of the figure at all, but I still feel disappointed that Mattel's cheapness has restricted what line sculptors the Four Horsemen can do within the company budget, and has consequently prevented this figure from being the ultimate toy representation of the character.
Despite its faults, I still like the Martian Manhunter figure a hell of a lot. But it's not the most impressive toy-related gift I received this year. No, that honor goes to . . .
Leave to to my brother to present me with the American release of Masterpiece Grimlock as my primary birthday gift this year. Part of the Masterpiece line that deals with creating large-size ultimate interpretations of iconic Transformers characters, the arrival of the Dinobot Commander finally provides me with a figure that can go toe-to-toe with my Masterpiece Starscream. Now, I am a massive Transformers fan, but I've felt progressively let down by Hasbro and Takara's joint efforts on the line in recent years, particularly when it comes to updating old figures, my main gripe being unnecessary changes that end up making the new figures come off as subpar (see Titanium Soundwave's massive crotch piece and Classics Mirage's weird lanky torso with wheels sticking in the air). No such problem are to be found with Masterpiece Grimlock, though: he's a straight update of the original figure from the 1980s, with alterations made to enhance its resemblance to the character's cartoon representation. As with all modern Transformers figures, the new plus-sized Grimlock boasts loads of articulation, and the larger size of the toy accommodates tons of intricate sculpted details. He comes with two weapons--his trademark double-barreled rifle and sword--and features a Dinobot crown (not pictured) that's exclusive to the American release. The figure is loads of fun, and it's one of the few Transformers toys I have where I struggle to decide which mode to display it in.