Saturday, April 18, 2015

Microman - LADY COMMAND!

Microman Lady Command (Reissue) - Regular Assortment - Takara 1999

Microman is the grandfather to modern action figures.  They burst onto the scene in 1974 with small scales, interchangeable parts, and an average of 30 points of articulation per figure - a set of characteristics that is still impressive even by today's standards.  G.I.Joe and Transformers owe their development to these fantastic toys. Their unique scale and articulation is a clear inspiration for modern 3.75" figures, and later robot-themed Microman waves were literally rebranded to become the earliest Transformers.  I also love that Microman has such a unique, timeless style.  The bright colors mixed with their trademark metallic heads and occasional translucent pieces is still recognizable and utilized by the brand today.  The Lady Command series was rare and represented the only females in the original run (1974-1984).  So when a major resurgence in the line happened in 1999, they were some of the most popular reissues.  Let's check them out in detail below!

Friday, April 17, 2015

X-Men Ninja Force - DEATHBIRD!

Marvel Comics - X-Men Ninja Force: Space Ninja Deathbird - ToyBiz 1997

Deathbird is one of my favorite villains in the Marvel Universe. My first exposure to her was in the Spotlight on Starjammers special from 1990. Soon she was making regular cameos during Jim Lee's run on X-Men. It wasn't long before I was seeking out her earliest appearances in Ms. Marvel. I was pretty smitten. Deathbird is a Shi'ar mutant and sister of Lilandra (Empress of the Shi-ar Empire and love interest of Charles Xavier). She is a delightfully wicked character. (Plus her renewed popularity paved the way for Cerise, my favorite new addition to Excalibur in 1992). This Deathbird figure epitomizes what was awesome about ToyBiz figures in the 90s. It's an amazing character choice and it's a great, non-gimmicky execution (all "ninja" naming conventions to the contrary). The only critique I have of this figure is that she has a pretty busted face. Luckily she was always sporting some hideous growl in the comics and her headpiece obscures much of her face. Let's check out Deathbird below!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Justice Society of America - HAWKGIRL!

JSA: Series 01 - Hawkgirl (Kendra Saunders) - DC Direct 2007

There have been a ton of great Hawkgirl action figures over the years.  I can think of five great ones right off the top of my head... and those are only the ones from DC Direct.  Not to mention the extensive number of animated Hawkgirl figures.  Yet despite the abundance of these feathered heroines, it's easy for me to confidently claim this version as my favorite.  Surprisingly, this was only the second collector-oriented Hawkgirl figure (after DC Direct's Hawkman & Hawkgirl 2-Pack from 2000), yet to me it stands out from the pack.  The two main focal points for me are (1) the amazing sculpt by Sam Greenwell.  She looks feminine and strong - which are the main components I look for in my action figures. And (2) the removable mask.  Normally I think this functionality would be a recipe for disaster on an action figure, but it is literally perfect.  I don't know if that credit also goes to Sam Greenwell or the DC Direct production engineers, but either way it's a fantastic achievement.  Let's check out Hawkgirl below!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Ultraman - ANDRO FROL!

Ultra Hero Series - Andro Meros 4: Andro Frol (Vinyl Figure) - Bandai 2003

I'm a big fan of Japanese vinyl figures.  Between the major Japanese genres like Super Sentai, Kamen Rider, and Ultraman, there are an overwhelming number of characters with awesome designs.  If these characters were all made into the typical high-end collectible figures like Figma or SHFiguarts, they would be laughably unobtainable for me. Heck, even if they were produced as standard American-style action figures, the sheer quantity of tempting characters would have me bankrupt in no time.  That's why I love these inexpensive, simply-made vinyl figures from Bandai. Andro Frol is one of the four new characters introduced in the 1984 mini-show Ultra Super Legend: Andromelos. She is the princess of the Andro people and has many powers including: energy beams from her forehead, generation of a force field, and telekinesis. I always thought her design was really cool with her futuristic armor and little angel wings. Contrasting design elements like that always thrill me. Let's check her out below!


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Gormiti: Supreme Eclipse Era - LORD OF THE AIR!

Gormiti: The Supreme Eclipse Era - Jessica (Lord of the Air) - Giochi Preziosi 2010

Gormiti is a popular Italian toy line created in 2005 by toy company Giochi Preziosi. The original incarnation of Gormiti was small 2-3" monster figures very reminiscent of 1987's Battle Beasts. The figures were split into good and evil factions and themed after four natural elements: Water, Earth, Forest, and Air. These toys were very popular and have really interesting color-themed designs. By 2008 there was an animated series. The major new development in the cartoon was the introduction of four young characters who gained the ability to transform into the Lords of Nature. The young Jessica Herleins could now become the Lord of the Air and rule over all the Air creatures. These human characters led to larger-scale (true) action figures. There were three iterations of the show and each featured an evolution of the character design. This feathered version of Jessica is from the second series (the Supreme Eclipse Era). In the first series she looked more like a Faerie. Let's check out Jessica below!

Monday, April 13, 2015

MMPR The Movie - YELLOW RANGER!

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers The Movie - TRU Exclusive - Bandai 2015

I thought I would never find this figure in the stores.  The original "Legacy-style" Mighty Morphin Power Rangers figures from last year were impossible for me to find. I was really upset about that, and I was just about to take the plunge and submit myself to eBay extortion when these Movie figures were announced.  This was the perfect solution for me.  I already have a few TV-version Rangers, so the subtle variations of the Movie costumes were just the intrigue I needed.  I never saw the movie so the extra head that Yellow Ranger came with was a nice surprise. A little googling showed me that the Movie Yellow Ranger (Aisha - not Trini) had spotlights on her head.  That's a very cool variation in my opinion.  Bandai has really upped their game with this new figure style.  They're so solidly built and super poseable.  Hopefully they produce more.  I'm excited to see Rita Repulsa and Scorpina at the very least.  Fingers crossed!  Let's check out Yellow Ranger below!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

WWE Superstar - ALICIA FOX!

WWE Basic Series 47 - Superstar #13 - Alicia Fox - Mattel 2015

When the first Mattel Alicia Fox figure came out two years ago, she was instantly my favorite figure by a landslide. Many readers will know that I know next to nothing about wrestling and therefore collect these figures purely for aesthetics.  Her first figure stood out from the pack amazingly.  She had bright red hair, and an outfit made of leather and chains contradicted by a soft and cute teddy bear hood.  Plus she was the first African American in my collection.  My adoration was a no-brainer.  But my love for the first figure was why I initially struggled with this second version.  I normally skip repaints in this line.  But upon seeing her in person, I thought the re-deco was a drastic enough change to warrant entry into my collection.  Her hair is now a more natural brown shade, she doesn't have the cosplayer hood, and the bulky leather outfit is stripped away to the form-fitting 2-piece that most WWE Divas wear.  She almost looks like a different person altogether upon first glance. Let's check her out below!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Marvel Legends - SPIDER-WOMAN!

Marvel Legends Infinite Series - Thanos Wave - Fierce Fighters - Hasbro 2015

Wow this has been an insane year for Spider-Women.  In the past 12-14 months we've received Anya Corazon Spider-Girl, Mayday Parker Spider-Girl, Ultimate Spider-Woman, and Black Cat in wonderfully updated Marvel Legends form.  But that list couldn't be complete without the originator, Jessica Drew.  Legend has it that Spider-Woman was created as a preemptive strike against copyright infringement.  Shortly before her creation (in 1977), DC Comics had sued Marvel over the character Wonder Man and his similarities to DC's Wonder Woman.  After that debacle (and a similar one between Power Girl and Power Man), Marvel decided to lock down any potential gender-swapped characters and swiftly created Spider-Woman.  Despite these uninspired origins, she was an instant hit and was granted a solo title and an animated series almost immediately.  This figure is by far the best action figure of Jessica we've seen - the Marvel Select version being a close second.  Let's check her out below!