Sunday, December 30, 2012

DC Direct Watchmen SILK SPECTRE!

Silk Spectre Classic Movie Figure - DC Direct 2009
 
I felt like a lot of the action figures that were released from the 2009 Watchmen movie left a lot to be desired.  I personally felt that it was a fantastic movie and a great adaptation of the classic comics.  Of all the toys, I felt that the DC Direct Classic Silk Spectre and Classic Nite Owl were the standout stars.  They have fantastic sculpts, great character representations, and display some of the best film-based interpretations of comic heroes I've ever seen.  In the film, Carla Gugino plays Sally Jupiter (Juspeczyk), one of the original members of the Minutemen.  For most of the movie, she is shown in modern times as the overbearing "stage mom" to her daughter Laurie, whom she convinced to take up her retired mantle and become Silk Spectre (II).  The sculpt by Karen Palinko is predictably gorgeous.  I especially love how her suggestive costume contradicts her angelic face.  And also how the ball-jointed head lets you pose her with subtle variations that completely change the demeanor of the character.  Check out the full review below.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Customized MADAME HYDRA!

Arnim Zola Series Madame Hydra - Hasbro's Marvel Legends 2012

Madame Masque was one of my biggest disappointments of the year.  Finding out that we were getting such a cool second-tier character as a variant was amazing news.  The prototypes looked wonderful.  Then, the actual production samples started showing up.  Suddenly her face looked pinched and pulled into a very mannish exaggeration of what we were shown before.  I almost didn't buy the figure, but then I thought how it would be a fun chance to experiment with customization.  I rarely do customizations unless it's a subtle altering of the same character.  I may break from that pattern some day, but it keeps my goals in check for now.  I reviewed both Madame Masque and Madame Hydra earlier this month and within the review, I challenged myself to fix her as best as I could by the end of January.  The fact that Hasbro casts their figures in flesh-colored plastic is actually a blessing in this case.  You can sand down and buff that plastic easily and really alter a figure with minimal effort and damage.  Check out the step-by-step photos below.

Friday, December 28, 2012

DC Universe Signature Series PLATINUM!

The Leading Lady of the Metal Men is a Mattycollector Exclusive from Mattel 2012

Team completion is one of the greatest feelings for an action figure collector.  It amkes you feel as if you've acheived a goal of sorts, and it makes you feel like the toy companies really care about us weirdos.  I was a regular on the DC Message Boards before they were axed last year with with New52 reboot, and team completion for the Metal Men was one of the most constant topics.  I honestly never thought it would actually happen, but these past few years have surprized me over and over.  Platinum is the third female figure in the first year of Mattycollector's Club Infinite Earths DC subscription program and they've really proved that they're going to squeeze in those desperately needed final figures for us.  The Metal Men have been fan-favorites since their debut in 1962.  They're quirky, fun, and adventurous, which is always a winning combination in comics.  All the members are a living metal, proudly displaying their elemental symbol (or at least a symbolic representation), and they all exhibit Plastic Man / Mister Fantastic body distortion talents.  Platinum has a Pinocchio complex and thinks she's a real girl.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Xyber 9: New Dawn - ANAKONDA!

Xyber 9: New Dawn's Forest Warrior, Anakonda - Bandai 1999

Xyber 9: New Dawn was an animated series from Saban in 1999.  It was cancelled after only 10 episodes, but an additional 12 episodes were eventually aired in syndication (in 2007).  I've never seen the series, but from what I gather, it's a post-apocalyptic tale with multiple kingdoms fighting for power over the realm.  The main character, Jack, finds a staff called the Xyber 9 which houses an advanced form of computer intelligence (from the technologically-advanced past we can presume).  This staff provides Jack and his allies with the power and strategy to prevent the kingdoms from falling under evil rule.  This character, Anakonda, is an ally to Jack and a fierce fighter.  She was raised by snakes in the Dark Lands and was given her reptilian nickname by Jack.  She has heightened senses, camouflaging talents, fierce fighting skills, and a quippy mouth.  She also has a serious crush on Jack and gets a little possessive when other girls come around.  On to the review!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Flash Gordon's PRINCESS THUNDAR!

The Rebellious Royal Lionid from Playmates 1996

I love love love cat-people.  While I wasn't the biggest fan the 1996 animated Flash Gordon series, I did love the fact that it introduced Princess Thundarr (I spell it with two R's here because all references to the show spell it Thundarr, while all references to the toy spell it Thundar.  Maybe it's mistake or a legal issue, but either way it's worth mentioning.)  This series of Flash Gordon revamped him as a daring teenage skateboarder.  I don't know who ever thought that kind of restructuring would be a good idea.  Anyway, back to the Lionid Thundarr, from her wiki bio she comes from a species of felinoids. She is an impetuous and excellent fighter, and an expert at hand-to-hand combat.  The bio card on the cardback (from Ming the Merciless' point-of-view) is pretty amusing.  I didn't realize the comical angle at first and thought it was a very unflattering depiction.  Princess Thundarr easily joins the ranks of Thundercats, Realm of the Claw, Seventh Kingdom, and all the other properties that have brought us fantastic Cat-Ladies.  On to the review!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Cadillacs & Dinosaurs HANNAH DUNDEE!

Scientist and Diplomat Hannah Dundee from TYCO 1993

Cadillacs and Dinosaurs was a Television Series and Video Game franchise based on the 1987 comic series Xenozoic Tales.  This series quickly made a name for itself, but unfortunately didn't have a lot of staying power, the cartoon only lasting 13 episodes (but retaining popular cult status to this day).  The plot is very interesting;  The earth has been ravaged by pollution and the human race heads underground for 600 years.  When they emerge, they find the earth has been reclaimed by prehistoric species of all sorts.  There are a lot of obvious ecological and political themes.. plus dinosaurs.. you really couldn't go wrong with dinosaurs in the 90's.  Hannah Dundee is a Scientist and Diplomat who is the love interest of the main character, Jack Tenrec.  She acts as a liaison between Jack and the rest of the world and generally keeps him out of trouble.  Tyco had previously made a major name for themselves with their 1987 Dino-Riders series, so their choice for this property was a given.  On to the review!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Girls of WINX CLUB!

Believix and Concert Collections from Jakks Pacific 2012

This one is likely to spark up some "action figure vs doll" debate.  Winx Club is an Italian Magical Girl series (a'la Sailor Moon) featuring a group of girls who attend a special school for fairies.  There are neighboring witch and hero schools that create a very Harry Potter-like environment.  The main characters are six girls, each with a different "theme"  (i.e. Plants, Water, Music, etc).  The girls mostly appear as normal humans (albeit from a variety of different worlds), and only turn into fairies when called upon.  The change sequence is a staple in the Magical Girl genre, and here I thought He-Man and She-Ra were being original.  In 2012, the Winx Club were the 3rd most popular dolls in the world.  These dolls are usually large barbie-sized things with rooted hair and cloth.  The toys in this review however, are small, super-articulated, 3.75" scale, completely-sculpted little beauties.  There's something really fun about these toys.  I feel like I'm getting in on the ground floor with a new She-Ra-ish property.  You may love them or hate them, just check out the review and decide for yourself.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Marvel Universe SCARLET WITCH!

Marvel Universe Wave 19 #016 - Scarlet Witch - From Hasbro 2012

I never would have guessed that that little Wanda Maximoff would become the major player in modern comics that she has become.  In my comic book history, she has always been a B-List, or even C-List, mutant.. relegated to West Coast Avengers storylines and pretty much off my radar.  It wasn't until Oliver Coipel's work on Avengers began that I noticed her potential as the powerhouse she has become.  Within a few years, the House of M storyline unfolded and she truly cemented herself in Marvel history.  I must say that I absolutley love how she is a major catalyst behind one of my favorite superhero team books of all time, the Young Avengers.  Another fantastic thing about her is that her original costume is still so relevant and appealing.  Wanda Maximoff is the mutant daughter of Magneto and twin sister of the speedster Quicksilver.  While she hasn't always been A-list, she has definitely always been present.  Her representation in plastic has beena little sluggish over the years but is definitely picking up steam.  This newest figure is arguably the best so far.  On to the review!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

DC Universe FIGHTING FIGURES!

Unreleased Prototypes of DCU Fighting figures Series 2 from Mattel 2008

When Mattel worked us into a frenzy back in 2007 with the beginning of their DC Universe toylines, there were several major series' in the works.  The first was the amazing DC Universe Classics, the second was the promising DCU Infinite Heroes, the third was the impressive DCU Giants of Justice, and the red-headed stepchild of the group was DCU Battleague, later renamed DCU Fighting Figures.  The Fighting Figures were 3" tall miniatures with some sort of action feature involved.  The best ones just involved a spring-loaded "pouncing" action unobtrusively worked into their base.  The lamer ones carried gigantic projectile-launchers that were larger than the figures themselves.  It wasn't the best series.  But I do love the 5 figures I have in my collection.  Series 1 gave us a gray-suited Batgirl and a "divebomb" Catwoman.  The second series was cancelled, but contained a Harley Quinn, a black-suited Batgirl, and a whip-wielding Catwoman.  Their cancellation was unfortunate, but probably opened the doors for the other DCU Small Scale figures, Battle League, to emerge in their place.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Two Third-Party Transformers NIGHTBIRD Figures!

Nightbird and TRNS-EX1 TFCon Exclusive Night-Bird from ImpossibleToys

It's no secret that the driving force behind most toy enthusiasts is nostalgia.  I'm definitely no exception.  When I get my hands on a toy that hits that nostalgic nerve, I am instantly transported back to my childhood, feeling all the wonder and awe of my youth - it's fantastic.  The character of Nightbird sparks those feelings for me in spades.  She appeared in a single episode of Transformers in 1985 as a giant female ninja robot created by a human scientist.  The Transformers are charged with protecting her, but the Decepticons kidnap her and reprogram her to be their spy and saboteur.  She doesn't talk in the episode, she just sneaks around, escapes a lot, and does a ton of cool ninja stuff.  She was dark, mysterious, gadget-laden, and acrobatic, so obviously I was smitten.  Even as a kid I never expected to have a toy of her.  That's the beauty of Third Party toy manufacturers.  We all know the Hasbro has no intention of ever making this figure, but lucky for us, someone took it in the heir hands to make it happen - and voilĂ !  TWO Nightbirds.  This hobby amazes me sometimes.

Vintage Goodness: Eagle Force's GOLDIE HAWK!

The Blonde Bombadier of this 1981 1/24th Scale Die-Cast Series from Mego

I have a great love for the 1/24 scale toys of the 80's.  M.A.S.K. and Dino-Riders always led the pack with the most prolific series' and by far the most females (see my previous posts on the Women of M.A.S.K. and the Women of Dino-Riders), but every once in a while I will stumble across a long forgotten (to me at least) figure series and discover a gem. Mego's Eagle Force consisted of 18 figures standing about 2.25" tall.  They are all military themed and feature metallic gold uniforms.  Goldie Hawk is the only female of the group and she's actually pretty easy to get your hands on.  The Eagle Force toys were some of the very last figures produced by the trailblazing company, Mego, before they shut their doors in 1982.  The toy line was extremely popular and was reproduced by Ideal in the early 80's under the name "Strike Force."  I would wager that the success of these small-scale specialized military figures helped inspire the scaled-down 3&3/4" GI Joe series a few years later.  Let's check out this gilded beauty!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Marvel Legends MADAME MASQUE & HYDRA!

Marvel's Madames -  Marvel Legends: Arnim Zola Series - Hasbro 2012

Hasbro's relaunched Marvel Legends line has been pretty great so far.  We've seen some unique characters that I'm shocked to have made in plastic.  There has also been a fantastic use of variant slots in each wave.  A great example of this is the Marvel's Madames figure(s) in this wave.  With just a different paintjob and a retooled head, Hasbro managed to provide collector's with two wonderfully B-List characters: Madame Masque and Madame Hydra.  I feel like Mattel would have milked that retooled head for all it was worth and would make us wait years for it, but Hasbro just throws them both out there like it's no big whoop.  The current wave on the shelves has an "X-Mutants" slot with both Mystique and Moonstar.  And the first wave in 2013 has a slot with Red She-Hulk and Savage She-Hulk (Lyra):  I am overjoyed!  Marvel's Madames are a bit hot-and-cold for me.  Madame Masque is amazing.  She looks great all-around.  Madame Hydra, however, might just be the homeliest villianess I've ever seen.. and she's not supposed to be.  On the the review!

Customized BATGIRL Statue!

DC Direct's Cover Girls of the DCU Batgirl, Uncutesyfied

This was only the second time I had ever attempted a custom job but I'm very happy with the results. I'm a huge fan of Jack Matthews and Adam Hughes and I loved this line of statues, but I desperately wanted a more serious look for Batgirl. I didn't hate the original. but it stood out like a sore thumb when displayed with the rest of the Cover Girls.. who have been for the most part sexy, statuesque, intimidating, and confident. Batgirl looked bubbly and cute with a good-girl pinup quality... like you could say "boo" and scare her away. I think a separate line of campy statues like this would be successful, but i was really upset when I saw the original design because I thought Babs would be more fierce.  I was pretty limited with how much I could alter her, and I would have preferred a more dynamic pose, but the "bring it on" posture works and it looks good with the rest of my Cover Girls. I did this custom a little over a year ago in fall of 2011 but am just getting around to posting it now.  Enjoy!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

WWE Superstar ALICIA FOX!

WWE Basic Series 23 - Alicia Fox - from Mattel 2012
 
I love this figure!  I first caught a glimpse of her at NY ComicCon a few months ago.  I'm at an awkward disadvantage because I don't know the first thing about wrestling (or any sport for that matter), but I have a major crush on Mattel's WWE line.  I was drawn to this figure for many reasons.  The major reasons were (1) Her amazing fox ears and hood, (2) her funky red hair, and (3) she's the first African American woman in this line.  Am I wrong for wanting my action figure shelves to be as diverse as possible?  Lord knows I have a million green-skinned girls.  Alicia Fox has been in the WWE since 2006, and in my newbie eyes, she seems to be the most fun diva in the bunch by a landslide.  Maybe it's that she looks like a cosplayer, or maybe it's the chains, or maybe it's that surreal hair color.  Who knows.  All I know is that she's become the instant standout of my collection.  I love her (and she looks better in person!) On to the review!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Ladies of POWER RANGERS MEGAFORCE!

Yellow & Pink Rangers from 2013's Power Rangers Megaforce - Bandai 2012

Power Rangers Megaforce is the upcoming American re-edit of Tensou Sentai Goseiger, the 34th incarnation of the amazing Super Sentai series by Toei Company.  The original series aired in Japan in 2010 and featured an Angel motif (known in the 2011 South Korean edit as Power Rangers Miracle Force).  The females in this series are the typical yellow and pink characters.  I would LOVE for some variety.  We've seen a few female blues, a couple whites, and a recent red secondary character, but above and beyond, there always seems to be a yellow and pink.  Bandai has been doing wonders with these figures since the Mighty Morphin Powers Rangers reboot figures from a few years ago.  The smaller size, lower price point, great articulation, and heavy store circulation make these some of the greatest new figures of the past few years.  It also doesn't hurt that I've never seen a single production error or paint flaw.  Reliability is an amazing thing.

Sonic the Hedgehog's BLAZE THE CAT!

The Pyrotechnic Feline Princess in a New Sonic Comic 2-Pack from Jazwares 2012

I love a quick turnaround time.  This beautiful little figure was just solicited a couple weeks ago and I already have her in my hands.  I picked up the new Blaze & Sonic comic 2-Pack at a Toys 'R Us last night.  I don't know what it is about these characters that I find so appealing.  I haven't played a Sonic game in more than 20 years and I never read any of the comics.  But something about the anthropomorphic anime-type character designs always draw me in.   Plus the comic in this pack just exposed me to a new character that I am now obsessed with - Marina the Raccoon!  She's adorable but I won't be holding my breath for a figure.  Blaze debuted in the 2005 game Sonic Rush and became a pretty popular new character, continuing on to appear in a total of 8 games so far. The next female Sonic character we've been teased with is Rouge the Bat. Hopefully we'll see a Cream the Rabbit in this style as well. Check out my previous review of Wave the Swallow. On to the review!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Gold Digger's CHEETAH (STEALTH VARIANT)!

Your Favorite Treasure-Hunting Were-Cheetah from Antarctic Press Toys 1998

Fred Perry's Gold Digger has the distinction of being the second longest-running, creator-controlled American comic of all time (second to Cerebus).  I fell in love with the characters, fast-paced plot, and quirky antics with the first published issue of Gold Digger #1 back in 1992.  The American manga scene was a fledgling genre at the time, with only a few standout stars in the game (Ben Dunn and Adam Warren).  Then along came Fred Perry with his sexy, funny sci-fi treasure-hunters.  I was hooked.  I lost track of the story over the years, but every now and then I'll still pick up a standalone issue just for the fond memories.  The publisher of Gold Digger, Antarctic Press, produced a small series of action figures in the late 90's based on some of their most popular titles.  I'm a big fan of this toy line and will be reviewing more in the future.  I love when a comic-based figure can really capture the look and feel of the comic, and these toys hit the mark every time.  On to the review!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Marvel Select's Classic STORM!

The Original Weather Goddess Makes her 7" Debut from Diamond Select 2012

I think everyone loves Ororo Munroe.  Even if Halle Berry gets on your nerves, she's still pretty kick-ass.  My first two memories of her are from guest appearances on Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends in the early 80's and from my older brother's copies of Classic X-Men that we always strewn about our shared bedroom.  It was her overwhelming power to control the weather that made me realize early on that women have disproportionately greater powers, yet overall less influence in the comics genre - so I credit a lot of my current obsessions to her.  There have been a lot of Storm action figures over the years.  I'd argue that she is the third most merchandised female comic character behind Wonder Woman and Catwoman.  Perhaps she's tied with Invisible Woman, but it would be close.  Yet surprisingly, this classic costume of her's gets very little love from the toy industry.  To me this is quintessential Storm and I am very excited to finally have a great figure of her.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Halo Reach Series 6 - KAT (UNHELMETED)!

UNSC Spartan KAT-B320 from McFarlane Toys 2012

I picked up this little gem last winter at a clsoing TRU but am just getting around to reviewing her now.  I've mentioned more than a few times that I don't play video games anymore, but that doesn't mean I don't find the characters exciting.  Halo is one of those properties that will be around for a long long time.  I feel like their percentage of shelfspace in the toy aisles is growing every year and the game franchise is pretty much a household name.  This character, Kat, is the second-in-command of Noble Team, a group of elite Spartan soldiers in the Halo: Reach game (you, as a player, would be Noble Six, fighting alongside her).  She is notable for being the one of the only female Spartans with a name and for having a cybernetic arm.  A version of this toy was previously released with a helmeted head, but I chose to wait for this version since she would have been so similar to the female Spartan Air Assault figure.  On to the review.