Sunday, June 30, 2013

McDonald's Happy Meal - LAVAGIRL!

The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D - McDonald's Toys 2005

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that most fast food toys are total wastes of plastic.  I just know there are landfills teeming with random licensed knick-knacks permanently infused with the smell of french fries (and the environmentalist in me hates that).  Occasionally though, there is real thought and design put into these toys and they become the standouts in the crowd.  In 2005 there was a kids' adventure movie titled The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D.  This movie wasn't well-received for the most part (mostly due to the distracting 3-D effects), but the general plot and creativity of the movie appealed to a lot of kids.  The movie received little to no toy merchandising outside of a few weeks as a McDonald's Happy Meal theme.  The toys were great.  The most exciting ones were straight-up action figures of the two titular characters (even the secondary toys were cool, like shark and lava water squirters).  Kids who loved this film would love these toys.  Let's check out Lavagirl below!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Kamen Rider's Sinister Seawitch MEZOOL!

Kamen Rider OOO - Greeed Collection EX 04 - Mezool - Bandai 2011
Hot on the heels of the Octavia review earlier this week, comes another aquatic-themed lady with a killer design. (Get it? ..killer?)  Kamen Rider OOO is the 21st installment of Japan's famed Kamen Rider Series Kamen Rider had a brief run in the US as the translated series Masked Rider, but it didn't have the staying power of other Toei properties like Power Rangers.  I don't necessarily watch any of these series, but I am a huge fan of the costume and character design and I have a ton of figures to commemorate my obsession.  Mezool is one of my newer acquisitions but definitely one of my favorites. Who would have ever thought that having a freakin' Orca Whale on your head could make you look sinister??  I've seen hats at SeaWorld that are very similar to this, but somehow they don't have the same effect when I wear them.   This figure is in the style of the Kamen Hero and Sentai Hero Series.  They are 7" scale lightweight hollow vinyl figures with limited articulation (2-3 points), great sculpts, and a low price point.  I'm a big fan of this style and I wish we had something similar here in the US.  Let's check her out below!

Thursday, June 27, 2013


Classic Selina Kyle as a Figural 4GB USB Flash Drive - Emtec 2013
I think it's interesting how action figure lines are more and more forced to portray DC characters in their most modern incarnations, but all other merchandise has seems to dive back into Silver Age territory.   I've seen so many products with the circular "DC Comics Originals" logo on it in the past few years.  I have notebooks, folders, magnets, etc etc.  All novelty and office stuff.  These thumb drives, however, seem to be some of the first fully sculpted items we've seen.  And I'm proud to report that they're pretty awesome.  The figures (Catwoman, Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman) are made out of a colorful semi-flexible rubber, very similar to those Japanese collectible erasers that you see everywhere.  They all seem to be 4GB, although the packaging on the promotional photos say 8GB.  I've never been tempted to buy other collectible USBs (like the Mimobots), but now I may want to just so I can have a tiny sub-collection of Catwoman USBs.  In my obsessive mind, it takes three to make a collection so we need one more tech company to jump on the bandwagon.  In the meantime, let's check out the Catwoman USB below!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Horde's Aquatican Warrior OCTAVIA!

Masters of the Universe Classics - Octavia - Exc -  Mattel 2013

Octavia has my favorite design of all the Horde characters in She-Ra.  I've mentioned in these reviews before that I have a penchant for characters with unnatural skin tones.  Octavia definitely fits the bill in this case.  I also have a great love for anthropomorphic characters and this hybrid fish/octopus design is amazing.  I may love Octavia's design, but her presence in the cartoon was unfortunately marred by a horrendous voice.  A lot of the She-Ra characters had crazy voices, but Octavia sounded like Catra gagging on phlegm with a mouthful of marbles.  It was pretty ridiculous.  Octavia only appeared in two episodes of the show but still managed to make quite an impression on me as a kid.  An action figure of her wasn't even something I had thought possible.  Between the initial restriction against Filmation characters and her blink-and-you-miss-her cartoon presence, I figured she was a pipe dream.  This figure though, wow, this is definitely not one of those "well, I'm just glad we got her" appreciative reviews.  She is truly stunning.  Possibly the coolest and most dynamic girl in my MOTUC collection.  Let's check her out below!

Monday, June 24, 2013


Elysia, Tsun, and Barbarocious - Warriors of Virtue - Play 'Em! Toys 1997

Movie toys are often pretty awful representations of cool characters.  They usually seem to be produced as an after-thought or a last minute marketing decision.  Occasionally though, action figures can have a more significant presence than the originating film ever did.  I feel that this is the case with toys produced for the 1997 Chinese-American Children's Action movie Warriors of Virtue.  I was in college working at a video store when this movie was released and I remember it being very popular with kids.  I never tried to watch it until recently (in preparation for this review in fact) and I just was not a fan.  The movie seems to take elements from lots of different successful kid's properties (Neverending Story, Power Rangers, TMNT, etc) but blends them together in a cheesy, generic, too-much-going-on kind of way.  The basic plot surrounds a young boy on Earth who is given a "magic manuscript" from the owner of a local Chinese restaurant - before long he's transported to the land of Tao where his adventures begin.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Tamaranean Princess BLACKFIRE!

Princess Komand'r - Teen Titans - Series 1 - DC Direct 2004

It's pretty shocking how the best looking action figure of an orange-skinned Tamaran is of the evil Blackfire, and not her heroic sister Starfire.  Starfire has had numerous toys made over the years, but none are particularly noteworthy.  This Blackfire figure, however, is stunning (as is the entire Teen Titans line from 2004).   Princess Komand'r is the older sister of the Teen Titans member Starfire who was denied her title through an unfortunate association to an invasion (and ensuing slaughter) on the day of her birth.  Her people viewed her as bad luck (or even cursed).  A lifetime of resentment by her people eventually culminated in the creation of a powerful young woman with a huge grudge against her sister, her family, her people, and her planet.  Evil sisters are just as good as evil doppelgangers in my opinion - and they always make the best villains.  This whole Teen Titans line is gorgeous.  Blackfire was sculpted by the amazing Jonathan Matthews (just like the Wonder Girl reviewed back in February).  It always comes down to the sculptor.  Let's check out this de-crowned princess below!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

DC Direct New Krypton SUPERWOMAN!

Superman: New Krypton - Series 01 - Superwoman - DC Direct 2010

Okay I know I said I would end my Superman-themed reviews on the day of Man of Steel was released, but I totally miscounted.  And this lovely lady was supposed to be my final review from the onset.   Sometime in the early nineties I was rooting through a back-issue bin and found a copy of DC Comics Presents Annual #2 featuring Kristin Wells as Superwoman.  I was smitten with the costume design, but unfortunately the character didn't hang around very long.  A mere couple decades later, this new mysterious Superwoman appeared in the pages of Supergirl with an outfit that seemed heavily inspired by Kristin's.  This new Superwoman was introduced during the New Krypton storyline when the bottle city of Kandor was "reconstituted" to full size on Earth and the planet was inundated with superpowered Kryptonians.  It's been 4 years since the story ran, so I feel safe dropping this spoiler:  Superwoman is Lucy Lane, Lois's militant younger sister in a power suit.  Amazing.  Let's check out this beautiful figure below!

Friday, June 14, 2013

DC Direct Crisis SUPERGIRL!

Crisis on Infinite Earths: Series 1 - Supergirl - DC Direct 2005 & 2006
When DC Direct solicited the first Crisis on Infinite Earths series (in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the 1985 comic series of the same name), there was a lot of favorable response.  The characters looked great, their designs were new to plastic, and the story was both iconic and nostalgic.  But then the figures came out and fans weren't so happy.  There were numerous quality control problems - the most obvious being poorly applied paint that was thick, sloppy, and possibly still wet when packaged.  DC Direct recalled the wave (asking store owners to cut off the heads of the figures and return them).  The next year the figures were re-released in all their intended glory.  These new(er) figures had red namecards under the plastic and a "New Edition!" sticker on the bubble.  (Bobby Brown was big in the eighties)  This Supergirl is one of my favorites.  She's the one I would most want to be friends with.  She looks happy and retro and I would like to borrow that headband.  Seriously.  Let's check her out below!

Thursday, June 13, 2013


Superman: Series 2 - Supergirl (Linda Danvers) - DC Direct 2003

This figure of Linda Danvers was the first collector's quality action figure of her on the market.  There were a few animated-style figures released previously that were aimed at the moms and kids, but this figure was the first to get the fans clamouring.  On a higher note, this entire Superman series by DC Direct was a real game changer in the collector's market.  The sculpting quality and articulation for all the figures were a vast improvement over the attractive-but-rigid-looking figures from the years before.    The Tim Bruckner sculpts also were suddenly much more realistic than his previous DC work.  (Supergirl also has James Shoop as an additional sculptor credit.. not sure how the roles were split).  This only critical thing I can say about this figure is that the standing pose goes so far to not look like the standard mannequin-styled figures that she ends up looking a little odd.  Overall though, this is a stunningly beautiful figure and a gem of my collection.  Let's check her out below!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

DC Direct Infinite Crisis POWER GIRL!

Infinite Crisis: Series 1 - Power Girl - DC Direct 2006

For most of my comic-collecting life, Power Girl had no connection to Superman whatsoever.  Originally (pre-Crisis), Power Girl was introduced as the Earth-Two counterpart to Supergirl.  Power Girl was Kara Zor-L and Supergirl was Kara Zor-El.  With only a single letter E distinguishing the two origins, the characters developed into two very unique individuals.  Luckily the world-colliding Crisis on Infinite Earths 1985 storyline didn't completely wipe out Power Girl like it did with so many characters.  Instead, they changed her origins and made her the granddaughter of Arion (the Atlantean sorcerer).  It wasn't until 2005's Infinite Crisis that they restored her origins and let Supergirl and Power Girl coexist in the same world.    Power Girl has had a good amount of action figures made of her, but this figure from DC Direct is by far my favorite.  Her trademark exaggerated (ahem) features are balanced well with her muscular frame and overall strong presence - managing to avoid the cheesecake trap.  Let's check her out below!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


DCSH (Select Sculpt) Series 2, 4 & 6 - Supergirl (Linda Danvers) - Mattel 2006-07

Supergirl has experienced a lot of reboots and reincarnations over the years.  One of the more far-fetched origin stories is that of the Linda Danvers version of Supergirl.  In a nutshell, Linda was a troubled youth who fell in with the wrong crowd and found herself in the awkwardly perilous situation of being sacrificed by an evil demon cult.  It was at this point that Matrix intervened.  Matrix is the curly-haired post-crisis Supergirl that held the mantle from the mid-eighties to mid-nineties.  Matrix was a synthetic being (who could shapeshift) created by a good Lex Luthor from another dimension.  Matrix tried to protect Linda from this sacrifice and instead merged with her and together they became the newest version of Supergirl (for the next ten years or so).  I wasn't a big fan of this Supergirl due to the lack of Kryptonian connections and her (non)costume.  I've never been a big fan of costumes that are composed of civilian clothes.  (Why can't my superheroes just be content to look ridiculously uncomfortable at all times!?) 

Monday, June 10, 2013


DC Superheroes (Select Sculpt) Series 5 - Kara Zor-EL Supergirl - Mattel 2007

I just learned some interesting things about this figure.  It wasn't something I read or anything.  Rather, I learned that this figure was apparently produced in varying degrees of attractiveness.  Just this afternoon I found multiple images of this figure which look significantly better then mine, and even a few that were worse.  I don't feel that there are true variations in the sculpt, but rather that some figures seem to have a "smooshed" mold that makes her face look severe.  Also, the placement of her hairline varies from figure to figure creating a subtle but significant variation.  Mine is average.  From the front she looks good, but from any other angle she looks pretty goofy.  The DC Superheroes Select Sculpt Series was the direct precursor to DC Universe Classics.  The waves alternated between Superman and Batman-themed assortments.  This version of Supergirl was released later in the series and was showing up in discount stores like Ross without ever appearing in the big box stores.  Let's check her out below!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

DC Direct Elseworld's Finest SUPERGIRL!

Elseworlds - Series 3: Elseworld's Finest - Supergirl - DC Direct 2007

DC Comics' Elseworlds imprint was a refreshing change of pace for DC fans.  The story lines, usually one-shots or mini-series, placed familiar DC characters in altered settings.. kind of like DC's version of Marvel's "What if?" comics.  With these stories being unhindered by mainstream continuity, they became a major creative outlet for artists and writers to have fun with these fantastic characters.  Elseworld's Finest is a One-Shot from 1998 that features Barbara Gordon and Kara Zor-El as Batgirl and Supergirl in a world where Batman and Superman never existed.  The title is a fun play on the World's Finest comics which ran from 1941 to 1986 and regularly featured a Superman/Batman teamup.  The story of Elseworld's Finest was great, but I think the character design is what really captured peoples' attention.  Both Kara and Barbara wore very beautiful costumes that seemed to be a blend of their mainstream male and female counterparts.  I was ecstatic when these figures were announced - nine whole years after the publication of the comic.  Let's check out this beautiful figure below!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

DC Direct Alex Ross SUPERGIRL!

Alex Ross' JUSTICE - Series 8 - Supergirl - DC Direct 2008

DC Direct's JUSTICE series is arguably one of their most successful lines.  Alex Ross' super-realistic painting style translated very well into action figure form and everyone in the collecting world took notice.  Just the fact that this Supergirl figure was released in Series Eight should convey the success of the toys.  I especially love this Supergirl costume (often referred to as Hotpants Supergirl) because she is wearing her classic 1970's retro outfit with baggy sleeves, a plunging neckline, and tiny red shorts.  It's a very unique look with a very specific era attached to it, but it's still undeniably Supergirl.  This figure was pretty consistent demanded on the "wish lists" that fans would perpetually post to the DC Message Boards (when they still existed) and I think the announcement of this figure made a lot of fans very happy indeed.  The realistic style also makes her stand out from the other more animated comic-based designs.  She's a total catch.  Let's check her out below!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Character Spotlight on SUPERWOMAN (The Evil One)!

The Crime Syndicate's Evil Amazon from DC Direct, Mattel, and Heroclix

I know this character is more of a Wonder Woman homage than a true member of the Superman family, but there's no denying her a spot in this lineup with a name like that.  The Crime Syndicate first appeared in a 1964 issue of Justice League of America (#29) and quickly became classic JLA rogues.  This super-team is an other-dimensional version of the Justice League where all heroes are bad and the villains are good.  Superwoman is the anti-Wonder Woman, complete with a lasso and Amazonian heritage.  The backstory and design of the Crime Syndicate has changed a few times over the years, but the essence of the group has remained consistent.  Superwoman and her evil teammates have received very little merchandising over the years, which is a little surprising considering how "iconically evil" they look.  Any kid or mom would recognize them as evil versions of the the JLA, and I think that's always a recipe for a successful villain (ie. Knight Rider's K.A.R.R. and Garth, Goateed Spock, Bizarro, etc.  Plus my favorites: New Mutants vs the Hellions).  But I digress.  Let's check out these Superwoman figures below!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Ed McGuinness SUPERGIRL!

Superman/Batman Series 5: With A Vengeance Part 2- Supergirl - DC Direct 2008

In writing this review, I realised that this figure is the only version of the midriff-bared blue-suited Supergirl that I actually like.  I've always liked Supergirl, but of all female characters in the DC Universe, I always felt that her oversexualization was the most misplaced.  I can handle Catwoman or Diana looking sexed up and provocative, but something about Supergirl in the same context seems forced (that's why I've been loving the New 52 Supergirl.. She's amazing.. and not in a pinup girl kind of way).  I think my acceptance of this particular figure is based on the fact that the style of the sculpt looks strong.  It's hard to objectify someone who can kick your butt across the galaxy.  I'm not sure how often Ed McGuinness even drew Supergirl.  I searched for examples but didn't find many.  Regardless, I love that she was chosen for inclusion in this line.  The Power Girl figure released in the same series was also excellent (although I unfortunately won't be reviewing her this week).  Let's check out Supergirl below!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Ed McGuinness Earth-11 SUPERWOMAN!

Superman / Batman Series 4: With A Vengeance - Superwoman - DC Direct 2007

Of all the DC Universe's 52 Earths, I think Earth-11 is by far my favorite.  On Earth-11, genders are swapped.  This gives rise to hundreds of Elseworlds-type female variations of all the A-List DC heroes.  Superman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, the possibilities are endless.  Unfortunately this world has had very few stories dedicated to it.  This version of Superwoman (the mysterious Laurel) first appeared in Superman/Batman #24 (2006).  This issue was my first exposure to the art of Ed McGuinness and I was instantly hooked.  I especially love how his women have meat on their bones.  The first female action figure styled after his art was Wonder Woman from the 2006 Justice League Classified line.  The figure wasn't a hit.  She seemed too bulky and angry looking, but this new female body used on Superwoman was a definite winner.  It's a shame we didn't see a million more ladies in this line (I was always hoping for a Huntress!).  Anyway, let's check out Superwoman below!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Classic Silver Age Superman: Series 1 - Lois Lane Superwoman - DC Direct 2006

Following up on yesterday's modern Super Lois figure, here is a fantastic representation of an empowered Lois as she appeared several times in the early 1960s.  DC Direct produced many great Silver and Golden Age figures during its run,  and I think collectors are unfortunately very unlikely to see products like this made again.  I love modern styles by all means, but the classics are just timeless. (Excuse me while I mourn).   This version of Lois was a pleasant surprise for me.  When I heard news of a single-packed wave of SA Superman figures, I assumed any ladies we got would just be redecos of the Deluxe Box Set figures from 5 years prior.  But no, instead we got this amazing piece of Superman history.  Her colors are bright, her hair is exquisitely dated, and her face looks downright mischievous.   Sculptor Karen Palinko did an amazing job capturing that Silver Age style with a lot of personality.  Let's check Lois out in detail below!

Monday, June 3, 2013

DC Direct All-Star SUPER LOIS!

All Star Action Figures: Series 1 - Lois Lane as Superwoman - DC Direct 2008

A common reoccurring story in the world of Superman is that of Lois Lane temporarily gaining superpowers.  I will actually be reviewing another great example of this character twist tomorrow, but today is my favorite of the two.  All Star Superman was a great comic that ran from 2006-2008 with the creative talents of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely.  The series attempted to boil-down the Superman character to his essential points over the course of 12 issues.  It was a success and received numerous awards.  Issue three of the series rehashed the classic "Super Lois" story in a fantastically modern way.  In the story, Superman presents Lois with a suit constructed of his own DNA for her birthday.  This gives her 24 hours of superpowers that reads like a fairytale date movie.  I loved the issue, and I loved how DC Direct surprised us 2 years later with this fantastic action figure commemorating the story.  Let's check her out below!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

DC Direct Silver Age SUPERGIRL!

Silver Age Superboy & Supergirl Deluxe Action Figure Set - DC Direct 2002
Welcome to the first of fourteen Superman-related reviews I will be posting in celebration of the June 14th theatrical release of Man of Steel.  Supergirl is a character that perfectly fits the kind of hero I obsess over.  In a nutshell, I love obvious female versions of established male characters.  Why do I focus on these heroines rather than those with more independent origins (like Wonder Woman)?  I honestly don't know, but it probably has something to do with the ability to do a direct gender comparison between two characters.  Typical differences like superpowers, personal motivations, or high-tech gadgets just don't come into play when these ladies step up to the plate.  I love a good change of perspective and these characters can provide that in spades.  This version of Supergirl was introduced in 1959 as Superman's cousin Kara Zor-El.  There had been a few versions of Supergirl prior to this debut, but this was the version that stuck and is still popular today.  The Tim Bruckner sculpt perfectly captures the Silver Age "wholesome" style.  I love her.  Let's check her out below.

Saturday, June 1, 2013


MOTUC Fighting Foe Men Three-Pack - Mattycollector Exclusive - Mattel 2013

Mattycollector loves its fans.  They may not love the way the fans act all the time, but every figure they produce is fulfilling some fanboy's dreams.  I was really confused by the Fighting Foe Men 3-Pack when it was first unveiled at SDCC last year.  That's because I simply had no clue who they were.  But once I learned, I was totally smiling at the geekiness of it all.  The vintage Mattel MOTU line featured vehicles produced by the classic model company Monogram.  The box art for these vehicles featured painted images of the vehicles with generic drivers (newly branded as the Fighting Foe Men).  What other company would produce a high-quality action figure based on a 30-year-old image of a partially-obscured nameless character??  Amazing.  Sherrilyn was the most obscured of the three drivers, which is probably why she became the token female of the trio (I'm assuming the drivers were all originally male).  Let's check out Sherrilyn below!