Sunday, March 31, 2013

Marvel Universe MOCKINGBIRD!

Your Favorite Resurrected Heroine - West Coast Avengers 3-Pack - 2013
 
Mockingbird is one of those characters that I love but I'm not really sure why.  I first took notice of her back in her Avengers West Coast days.  She doesn't have any discernible powers (although she apparently does have a trace of Captain America's Super Soldier Serum in her).  She's essentially just a good fighter and a perpetual love interest for Hawkeye (and occasionally Ka-Zar).  I think the appeal lies in her classic costume and weaponry.  Mockingbird usually carries a pair of escrima sticks (like Nightwing) that can be attached together into a bo staff.  She died near the end of the Avengers West Coast series when she sacrificed herself to save Hawkeye from Mephisto.  That was in the early 1990s and she was basically a forgotten character until she was very cleverly brought back during 2008's Secret Invasion storyline.  Since then she's been all over the place, appearing in a variety of Marvel comics, most recently in the revamped Secret Avengers.  She has very very few products made of her.  There's a Bowen Minibust, an Eaglemoss Lead Figurine, a few Heroclix, and finally this action figure.  Let's check her out below!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Monogram's HARLEY QUINN!

Classic Harley Quinn in this DCU 4" Collectible Figure Line - Monogram 2013

I love Harley's classic costume. It's quirky, simple, and suits her personality so well. In comparison, the Arkham Asylum, Arkham City, New 52, and Injustice designs seem so extreme (and not-so-"crazy"-- which is just out of character). Especially when compared to her wacky jester costume. I've read various secondhand statements that in the post-New52 world, all products we would see of our favorite DC characters would be sporting ONLY New52 designs. So far I actually think this may be true when it comes to the main Justice League crew, but luckily all the Harley stuff still has her in her classic duds (probably because all the alternates are too risque for the toy aisles). Whatever the reason is, I'm glad. Upcoming classic Harleys include the Monogram figural eraser, Skelanimal PVC, UNKL Vinyl and a Funko Pop! figure due out this Summer. I'm sure there will be more but we'll just have to wait and see. For now, let's check out this beautiful PVC figure below!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Toynami's EMILY THE STRANGE!

Emily the Strange: Problem Child Action Figure - Toynami 2004

Emily the Strange is one of many characters that had somewhat humble beginnings as a simple company mascot only to explode into a merchandising goldmine.  Domo and Hello Kitty are prime examples of what can happen when a mascot takes on a life of its own.  Emily began as a sticker illustration advertising the clothing brand Cosmic Debris Etc, Inc, which was founded by artist and skateboarder Rob Reger, racing car driver Matt Reed and Nathan Carrico (Emily's designer).  She has since grown to become the darling of the Hot Topic generation, a fashion icon, a comic book star, and a future film bigwig (movie in production now).  These "Action figures" produced by Toynami  were released in 2004 during a particularly popular time in her life.  I put Action Figure in quotes because, despite the label on the package, these are more of a hybrid doll/figurine and hardly have any of the qualities we associate with action figures.  Nonetheless, it's a pretty great toy and a perfect likeness of little miss grumpypants herself. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Dragon Booster KITT & WYLDFYR!

Dragon Booster - Kitt Raada Wonn & Her Dragon Wyldfyr - Jakks Pacific 2005

Dragon Booster was a popular Canadian CGI cartoon series from 2004.  The series combines a lot of different genres: Racing, Dragonlore, Future Tech, Fantasy, and Arthurian Legend.  Dragon Booster lasted three seasons and established a world where 5000 years of Dragon-Human interspecies tensions have grown.  There is a pending Dragon-Human war, but at the same time there are a lot of peaceful Human-Dragon interactions like the futuristic sport of Street Racing in Dragon City.  Kitt happens to be one of the best racers in the City and because of these skills is being recruited by the main character, Artha, to aid him in preventing the pending war.  Dragon Booster lasted three seasons and has quite an international fan-following.  (The hinted-at fourth season has encouraged online petitions to see its production carried-through).  The toyline produced by Jakks Pacific in 2005 is really fun.  This particular line consists of 3.75" rider figures with super-articulated dragons.  There was a smaller-scale line as well, but this one is the "deluxe" sought-after version.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Alienators: Evolution Continues - LT. LUCY MAI!

Alienators: Evolution Continues - Basic Figures - Lt. Lucy Mai - BanDai 2001

One thing I absolutely love about this hobby is finding cool little gems I knew nothing about.  I've been impressed with a few different Bandai figure recently and found myself doing some research into past properties of theirs.  That's where I found this beautiful lady.  Alienators: Evolution Continues was an animated series spinoff from the 2001 live action film Evolution starring David Duchovny and Julianne Moore.  The cartoon followed the same general plot as the film:  a meteor crashes in the Arizona desert carrying alien cells that quickly evolve into blobby, insectile alien creatures.  Oddly enough, comedy ensues.  Lt. Lucy Mai is the no-nonsense female member of the Alienators team.  The toys are a notable addition to my Bandai collection.  They're well made, well articulated, they have fun designs, and they're very playable.  If I would have known about them when they came out I would have been all over them.  Let's check her out below!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Gen13's FAIRCHILD!

Gen13's Brainy, Brawny, Beauty - Caitlin Fairchild - D-Boy Inc 1998

And here I thought I didn't have any good action figures for a St. Patrick's Day review.  While I can't say for sure that Caitlin Fairchild is Irish, I think it's a safe bet given her fiery red hair, green eyes, and penchant for green clothes.  Gen13 was such an amazing comic in it's early days.  It doesn't sound profound when describing it; Five teens, a secret government agency, those 5 said teens having their powers "turned on" in an experiment, and an A-Team-like cat and mouse adventure ensues.  What made Gen13 stand out was really hip character design, amazing fresh art, and an overall general sense of sexiness (in a fun way, not seedy like other be-thonged comics of the times).  It was perfect for the MTV generation.  Caitlin Fairchild was the leader of the group.  She was a brainy, nerdy girl until she was made Gen-Active, at which point she became a 6'4" powerhouse with superhuman strength (not to mention a much more mature body).  Let's check her out below!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Stingray's MARINA!

Your Favorite Telepathic Undersea Princess from Matchbox 1992
 
Stingray was the fourth Supermarionation series from Gerry and Sylvia Anderson and aired from 1964-1965.  It followed the adventures of the (very stylized) submarine, Stingray, and her crew.  Marina is the daughter of Emperor Aphony, ruler of the peaceful undersea kingdom of Pacifica, but when she first encounters the crew of the Stingray, she is the slave of the tyrannical King Titan of Titanica.  As cool of a character as Marina is, she is a little bit of supermarionation cop-out.  Her undersea race is mute and only speaks through telepathy.  You don't realize how much you appreciate a puppet's mouth movements until they're nonexistent.  This figure is pretty great and adds to the 1990's resurgence of supermarionation popularity.  I only wish Matchbox would have continued this trend and produced more figures.  I actually really enjoy the small scales, 3-5 points of articulation, and retro packaging.  There are so many more properties I would have loved to see done in this style, but that is just a pipe dream now.  Let's check out Marina in detail below!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Impact Wrestling's VELVET SKY!

Deluxe Impact Wrestling Series 7 - Velvet Sky - Jakks Pacific 2012
 
I can't believe how awesome Wrestling Toys are getting.  It wasn't long ago that the Wrestling figures on the shelves were all awkwardly proportioned, oddly dressed things with goofy faces.  Maybe I was being a bit judgemental, but all I know is that I was never tempted to buy any in all my years of collecting until Mattel got the WWE license and fine-tuned the design of the figures.  I realize this Velvet Sky figure is not Mattel, and is in fact a Jakks Pacific figure (which happens to be the brand responsible for the passed-over figures mentioned above).  But, wow, they've really upped their game.  (Although I still give credit to Mattel for raising the bar - competition is a beautiful thing).  These Impact Wrestling figures are very nice.  For me, they are kind of hard to find, only showing up at select K-Marts and even fewer TRUs in my area.  I've had this Velvet figure for several months but am just getting around to reviewing her now.  She has great articulation, great paint, and an amazingly cocky facial sculpt.  I may even say she's my favorite female wrestling figure so far.  C'mon Mattel, now you need to catch up!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nog - DEIRDRE!

Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nog - Mystic Defender Deirdre - Bandai 1998

Saban and Bandai pretty much ruled kid culture in the late 1990s.  All the hot Japanese-import properties of the time were under their corporate umbrella.  Power Rangers, Masked Rider, Big Bad Beetleborgs, and VR Troopers barely scratched the surface of their empire.   One very interesting experiment by Saban was the single-season Mystic Knights of Tyr Na Nog.  This TV series followed a typical tokusatsu formula of a group of heroic teenagers being granted special powers (and costumes) in order to fight some form of mystical evil.  The twist with Mystic Knights is the setting.   The show takes place in a historical Ireland that is fully engulfed in mysticism, monsters, and mythology.  Princess Deirdre is the sole female hero and becomes the Mystic Knight of Air.  Each of the 4 heroes (later 5) embodied a natural element: Air, Fire, Earth, Water, and the latecomer hero has control over Animals.  It was a cool concept that resulted in some cool toys.  Let's check her out below!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Ben Dunn's WARRIOR NUN AREALA!

Warrior Nun Areala (Anime Version) - Antarctic Press Toys 1998
 
Antarctic Press was the first Indy publisher of comics that I ever fully embraced.  Right around the time that mainstream comics were getting too "extreme" for their own good, when holographic foil covers were more important than a cohesive story, and the loyal followers of Image comics were all feeling the pangs of regret, all the second-tier publishers like Dark Horse and Antarctic were quick to pick up the slack and provide fresh new stories and characters for the disenchanted masses.  One of the long-lasting hits from this era was Warrior Nun Areala from Ninja High School creator, Ben Dunn.  The story is pretty straightforward.  Sister Shannon Masters is chosen to take on the mantle of Areala, the warrior spirit of a Valkyrie who had renounced her Norse Gods and vowed to become a servant of the Catholic Church.  She becomes a member of a very "Knights Templar"-type secret society within the church called the Order of the Cruciform Sword.  The comics had an anime style, but this action figure is even moreso since it was the design of a failed attempt to produce an Anime based off the property in 1994.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

X-Men Monster Armor MYSTIQUE!

Raven the Shape-Shifting She-Beast from X-Men: Monster Armor - ToyBiz 1996

Who doesn't have a soft spot for Mystique?  To me, she always reflected my darkest, vengeful impulses.  In the world of the X-Men, there are a lot of polarizing social groups.  The mutants, of course, represent the hated, misunderstood underdogs.  The X-Men follow Professor X's ideal of peaceful coexistence with the rest of mankind, despite threats, abuse, discrimination, and constant conflict.  Raven Darkholme is the antithesis of Charles Xavier's dream.  Sure, she wants the conflict and discrimination to be over, too.  But she isn't willing to take the peaceful route.  She's violent, vindictive, vengeful, and self-righteous.  Even when I know she's making the morally wrong choices, my devious inner voices were always rooting her on.  Mystique's classic look is my favorite for her.  Yes, it's impractical and theatrical, but it's nostalgic for me.  I find it more than a little shocking that the best figure we have of her in this costume is from a 1990's ToyBiz line.  Check her out below and see if you agree.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Go-Go Rangers: PINK & YELLOW MEGARANGERS!

Power Rangers MegaForce Mini Battle-Ready Figures Blind Bags - BanDai 2013

Marvel's Superhero Squad may be practically kaput (except for the much-appreciated selection of movie figures put out every year), but luckily the general design aesthetic is being carried on by our fine friends at BanDai.  Five years ago the toy aisles were cluttered with these little guys: Marvel SHS, Star Wars Galactic Heroes, G.I.Joe Combat Heroes, Indiana Jones Adventure Heroes, Transformers Robot Heroes.. it was insane (and I was really really into the fad).  It's funny, because the first attempt at these cutesifued Power Rangers (2007's Go-Go Rangers) was not my favorite, mostly because they were a smidge too large to blend into all the Hasbro lines.  However, this third iteration (the MegaForce Mini Battle-Ready Figures) is finally scaled down to the perfect size.  An interesting special addition to this new series are "secret" re-issues of that 2007 MMPR series.  They're mixed in to the blind bag assortments.  So, in summary, the females from Series 1 are Mega-Pink, Mega-Yellow, and MMPR-Pink.  Let's check them all out below!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Sonic Free-Riders WAVE THE SWALLOW - Variant!

Sonic: Free Riders - Wave the Swallow (Repaint) - Jazwares 2013

Fans of Jazwares' Sonic the Hedgehog line are in a for a cool treat.  Wave the Swallow was released a little over a year ago as the second female in the line.  She was a great figure, but seemed really hard to get ahold of.  I personally have only seen her in stores a couple times.  This past weekend I went on a quick little toy run (looking for the new DC Unlimited WW), and I noticed both Toys R Us and Marshall's were stocked with Wave figures.  I was happy to see she was getting a reissue since I'm so fond of the character.  I walked away, then doubled back because something was odd about the figures.  I quickly realized that they didn't have eyebrows like the originals.  Then I whipped out my phone and checked some photos (from my own review last year) and realized this was basically a complete re-deco.  All-in-all, the paint apps are cheaper and sloppier than the originals, but there' s something really appealing about the new version, too.  Check out all the comparison pics below!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Justice League All-Stars 5" WONDER WOMAN!

Brave-and-the-Bold-Style Target-Exclusive 7-Pack from Mattel 2013

Mattel is very very sneaky with their non-collector lines.  Just this winter they released the Imaginext Harley Quinn and Wonder Woman without any advanced warning.  This of course went against their trend of announcing figures 6-12 months before they ever hit the shelves.  I wasn't sure if that ambush was a one-time thing or not, but I think they definitely just proved that it was not.  Just a couple days ago I saw a quick news blurb about this figure over on Toyriffic and was honestly floored.  Once again, a line that Mattel has sworn would never have any females suddenly adds a very cool heroine figure to the roster.  I wasn't planning on getting this box set since it retails for $50 and I was only interested in one character, but the fact that all the other figures are in New52 decos and some are very possibly also exclusive to the set (Aquaman and Cyborg at least), they shouldn't be hard to unload.  This new buck gives me so many high hopes for more 5" Brave and the Bold style ladies.  But for now, let's check out the leader of the pack below.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Street Fighter IV - CHUN-LI!

The First Lady of Fighting Games - Street Fighter IV: Round 2 - NECA 2009
 
There are a lot of subjectively-awarded titles bestowed to female characters in pop culture.  Wonder Woman is often dubbed the most iconic comic book heroine.  Lum has been given a similar title in the anime/manga world.  She-Ra is always ranked high in American cartoon culture.  And Xena and Buffy will forever be sparring for the live-action title.  The video game genre has a few impressive contenders (I'm talking about you, Lara) but Chun-Li usually wins the title among gaming aficionados.  Chun-Li first appeared in 1991's Street Fighter II with the notable distinction of being the first playable female in a fighting game.  Since then she has been in over 20 games, tons of comics, cartoons, and even live action film.  Not to mention a lot of merchandising.  She may very well be one of the most merchandised female characters in the action figure market.. I would guess 5th (after Wonder Woman, Catwoman, Invisible Woman, and Storm).  NECA is a pretty fantastic company.  I have yet to hold a figure of theirs in my hands and not be amazed.  This figure doesn't disappoint.  Let's check her out in detail below.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Kre-O Blind Bag Collection G.I.JOE!

Scarlett & Jinx - Hasbro's G.I.Joe Kre-O - Kreon Figure Packs: Collection 1 - 2013

It seems like every company is trying to jump on the Lego bandwagon these days.  At this point, almost all my favorite properties can be found in block-figure form (still waiting on He-Man though...).  For the most part,  I'm loving this trend.  They don't take up much space, they're relatively cheap, they're quirky, and they come out on a more regular basis than larger-scale figures.  This G.I.Joe Kre-O line is still in its infancy and hopefully we'll see some improvements as time goes on.  Something about these Kreons just doesn't have the same personality as Legos, Mini-mates, Kubricks, or even MegaBloks.  The tapered cheeks are an interesting departure from the typical cylinder-shaped head, but I think the final result is that the heads end up looking too small for the bodies - which kind of goes against the classic winning formula of oversized noggins on block figures.  With the entire library of Hasbro properties as potential figures, the Kre-O line could be a major hit, and I certainly hope it does.  Let's check out these first two figure below.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

WWE Elite Collection MISS ELIZABETH!

 
WWE Elite Collection Flashback Series 19 - Miss Elizabeth - Mattel 2013

The 1980s saw a major explosion in the popularity of entertainment wrestling.  It was pretty impossible to avoid the bright spandex and threatening soundbytes.  In the middle of all that testosterone, there was a battle for the management of superstar Randy "Macho Man" Savage.  The winner of that (staged) melodrama was the beautiful Elizabeth Ann Hulette, aka Miss Elizabeth.  She also happened to be his wife at the time, but I'm sure that wasn't a factor in the decision.  She was sexy, classy, and a tough manager.  And it wasn't long before the angles were played toward Randy's opponents falling in love with her and creating all sorts of entertaining tension.  Fans of Mattel's WWE line have been clamouring for a Miss Elizabeth for a while now.  She previously had a figure from LJN in 1985 and from ToyBiz in 1999, but this newest version tops them all.  Let's check her out in detail below!

Friday, March 1, 2013

AMC's The Walking Dead MICHONNE!

The Walking Dead (Television Line) Series 3 - Michonne - McFarlane Toys 2013

The last time I wrote about The Walking Dead, I knew nothing about it.  Since then, I've become thoroughly addicted to the show.  I still haven't cracked the comics yet (which is shocking since I'm a big Kirkman fan), but someday I'll take the plunge - which I'm sure will prompt me go out and buy all the comic-version action figures, too.  Michonne is a great character.  She's tough, mysterious, sexy, creepy, quiet, and really really angry.  I reviewed the Comic version of her early last year and was intrigued by her character design and bio.  Now that I've seen her in action I'm in love.   This action figure is absolutely amazing.  It's actually inspiring me to do a "Best of the Year" review just so I can award her the prize.  I'm glad she was the only character on the shelf in TRU when I found her, because I would have bought her pets in a heartbeat - even though I am actually really grossed out by gory toys.  I would have to lock them away and pretend they aren't in my house.  But I digress.  On to the review!

Beast Hunters AIRACHNID!

Transformers: Prime - Beast Hunters - Airachnid - Hasbro 2013
 
It's amazing how many female Transformers we are getting these days.  Granted, it's pretty much the same two characters over and over again, but considering how long Hasbro kept the Transformers sausage party going, I couldn't be happier.  This miniature version of Airachnid is pretty much the best representation of this character I have seen.  The Kre-O version I reviewed a few weeks ago is great, but still a block figure nonetheless.  The 6" Deluxe Airachnid from last year was an atrocity.  I was so excited for that figure, and was very very let down.  Mine is actually in pieces as I removed every screw trying to visualize ways to customize it into a decent looking fembot.  This little version, however, gets it right.  The transforming isn't perfect, and it would be awesome if the helicopter blades had a more spider-like presence, but all-in-all it's very nice.  I love the character of Airachnia.  Besides my general love of villainesses, she in particular strikes my fancy because she reminds me of Blackarachnia, Maleficent, and Hexidecimal combined.  Let's check out this great figure below!