Thursday, February 22, 2024

Halo - LINDA-058!

Halo: The Spartan Collection Series 6 - Linda-058 - Jazwares 2022

I'm finally playing catch-up and posting my backlog of Jazwares Halo figures (this is the last one). I first learned of Linda-058 when she got a figure in the first wave of the Mattel Halo line in 2016. My initial reaction wasn't a great one. I thought her helmet with the side-scopes and weird goggle-type apparatus looked goofy - like Johnny 5 from Short Circuit. But I've grown to really appreciate her since. The copper visor and brown armor is now a really appealing color combination to me, and the name Linda always has a certain interesting duality. I was the kid who was buds with my gradeschool lunch ladies (Nancy and Linda). But in my college years I was in the punk scene and the song Linda Linda by The Blue Hearts was a favorite. Plus I'm currently obsessed with the teen girl punk group The Linda Lindas (currently touring with Green Day and Smashing Pumpkins). So "Linda" used to be an old lady name to me, but now it's kind of kickass. And Linda-058 benefits from that street cred. Let's check her out below!

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Halo - ALICE-130!

Halo: The Spartan Collection Series 7 - Alice-130 w/ Accessories - Jazwares 2023

One of the reasons I avoided collecting toys from Halo for so long was because of characters like Alice-130. I love when there is a female character who exhibits masculine traits, or at least doesn't exaggerate their feminine qualities just for the sake of gender contrast. (Zarya from Overwatch was one of my favorite toys from 2019 and is a great example of 'female masculinity' in toys (to quote Halberstam)). But on the flip side, when someone has to tell you a character is female, and you still aren't really sure, the appeal for me gets lost. Most early Halo females had this effect on me. They mostly looked indistinguishable from the males, and Alice-130 always stood out because she had a clearly gendered name, but seemingly male armor mimicking male musculature. Embarrassingly, it took a bright pink Spartan to inspire my first purchase (the exact type of exaggerated femininity I claim to dislike). But she was the gateway Halo for me and now I'm hooked, even with Alice-130. Let's check her out!

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Halo - COMMANDER AGRYNA!

Halo: The Spartan Collection Series 8 - Commander Agryna - Jazwares 2023

I don't know what it is about Halo that keeps drawing me in. I normally avoid video game properties, especially over-masculine militant games. But I think the fact that there are actually so many female characters thriving in this chaotic and unforgiving environment highlights the feminine/masculine contrast and makes them all the more appealing. Plus there is the toyetic quality when assembling all the small variations of armor that scratches some OCD collector's itch I've always had. Despite knowing next to nothing about the Halo property, collecting these toys gives me a similar joy to Power Rangers or team building in Marvel Legends. This figure of Commander Agryna is especially appealing to me because she is so new. She first appeared in late 2021 in Halo Infinite: Season One, and therefore has never been merchandized before. She also has unique colored armor (with a cool bumblebee insignia on her chest) and she is the first black female in any of the toylines (that I'm aware of). Let's check her out below!

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Transformers Earthspark - TWITCH!

Transformers Earthspark - 1-Step Flip Changer - Terran Twitch - Hasbro 2023

It's funny to think how I used to avoid collecting Transformers because there we so few female figures being made. Prior to 2014, there were barely any. But then the Generations Arcee and Chromia were released and the floodgates opened. Just last week I was in a well-stocked Walmart and I saw figures of Arcee, Airazor, Nightbird, Elita-One, Twitch, Skywarp, Hashtag, Windblade, Strongarm, Laser Cycle, and Shadow Striker. That is ELEVEN different characters with toys on the shelves simultaneously. And that's not even counting the same characters with multiple versions. Like four different figures of Arcee and three of Twitch. When you have this kind of abundance, you are naturally going to get figures in the less-impressive kid-oriented lines like the Tacticons or these 1-Step Flip Changers. While these aren't the most sought-after toys for collectors, I really enjoy the explosion of females in this historically-exclusionary genre, so I buy every last figure in support (especially the new characters like Twitch).

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Nintendo - TOADETTE!

World of Nintendo - 4" Series Wave 36 - Toadette - Jakks Pacific 2024

I read recently that Jakks Pacific made a statement years ago that their intention was to release every Super Mario character in both their 2.5" and 4" scale lines. This thrills me. I can never decide which scale I like better with the Nintendo line, but currently the 2.5" line has significantly more female characters. Rosalina, Birdo, Princess Toadstool, Daisy, and until this release, Toadette, have been missing from the 4" line. The only 4" figure not in the 2.5" line so far is Cat Peach. (Note: Daisy will be in the next 4" wave supposedly. There are blurry pics). This is also amusing because Jakks does the exact opposite with the Sonic lines. The 4" Sonic line is robust with female characters, but the 2.5" is lacking. Toadette was created in 2003 to be a teammate for Toad in Mario Kart: Double Dash wherein every character has another rider teamed with them. Since those simple beginnings she has appeared in more than 40 games and has become quite the icon. Let's check out this 4" Toadette figure below!

Friday, February 16, 2024

The Spiderwick Chronicles - SPRITES!

McDonalds Happy Meal - The Spiderwick Chronicles - Sprites - McDonalds 2008

The Spiderwick Chronicles are a series of five children's fantasy books by Holly Black written between 2003-2004 (with an additional six tie-in books published through 2009). I really appreciate when faerie lore is taken seriously. I grew up poring over the creepy encyclopedic Faeries by Brian Froud and therefore have a healthy awe and fear of the fey. Ted Naifeh's Courtney Crumrin series epitomizes the dark and mysterious faerie aesthetic I love. And coincidentally I discovered Holly Black when Ted illustrated her Good Neighbors trilogy. She clearly carries the same respect for the genre that I do. I immediately began reading The Spiderwick Chronicles and really enjoyed it. The movie adaptation had come out a few years prior in 2008, but I hadn't seen it. When I did, I was predictably disappointed. I find that big studios often miss out on the nuances that make these properties so great. In this case, the movie started great, with a slow creeping discovery of a magical world under our noses. I loved the atmosphere.

Monday, February 12, 2024

Fury Force - ROCKET!

Pop Prolific: Fury Force - Rocket - HOTG/Hammer of the Gods Toys 2020

One thing I really like about this hobby is how you often find whole communities with a shared aesthetic. And since a lot of us are of a certain age, that aesthetic often focuses on nostalgia and the vintage toys of our youths. The big companies have clearly acknowledged and embraced this. A large percentage of the toy aisles these days are vintage homage lines or straight-up re-releases of original toys. But this trend truly started in the art toy market. It was these creative trailblazers that were molding old He-Man, G.I.Joe, and Star Wars figures years before we knew we needed them. There are tons of artists and small companies in this market, but one name that has especially caught my eye is Hammer of the Gods and their homages to classic 80s properties in vintage MOTU-esque style. I picked up this Rocket figure (definitely not Cover Girl) many years ago on the same day I bought Rose, but I'm only getting around to posting her now. Plus I have a third I will photogaph soon. Let's check out The Rocket below!

Sunday, February 11, 2024

The New Adventures of Batman - BATGIRL!

Batman '66: The New Adventures of Batman - Batgirl (Platinum) - McFarlane 2024

I have a love-hate relationship with McFarlane Toys' "Platinum Edition" chase figures. On one hand, I love variety and the chance to get a cool character in an alternate deco. On the other hand, however, it seems like every time I really want one of these variants, they are torturously elusive. This Batgirl figure from The New Adventures of Batman subline of the popular Batman '66 series is a simple paint redeco in her 1st Appearance (Carmine Infantino) comic look. There has always been debate on whether Barbara Gordon was a comic or television character first. In truth, both versions were likely developed at the same time - with the comic debut in January of 1967 and the television debut in September 1967. So having a black-suited variant of Batgirl in this line completes the trifecta of her costumes from the late 60s (Comic Black in Jan '67, TV Purple in Sept '67, and Cartoon Gray in Sept '68). I spent two whole days last week hitting eight Gamestops and driving over 150 miles until I found her.