Monday, April 27, 2015

Star Wars Rebels HERA SYNDULLA!

Star Wars Rebels - Mission Series 19 - 2-Pack w/ Stormtrooper - Hasbro 2015

One of my favorite things about Star Wars is all the cool alien races. My favorite alien species by a longshot are the Twi'lek with their signature head-tails. I'm about to start re-watching the original trilogy again for the first time in a decade, but I'm pretty sure the only Twi-lek characters introduced were Bib Fortuna and Oola, Jabba the Hut's majordomo and slave/dancer. From those auspicious beginnings, the Twi-lek race has been widely utilized in the Star Wars expanded universe. Some impressive new(er) female characters include Aayla Secura, Darth Talon, and now Hera Syndulla. Hera is a major character in the new Star Wars Rebels CGI-animated television show. She is the fearless pilot of The Ghost and daughter of the character Cham Syndulla (from Star Wars: The Clone Wars). This figure is very basic, but charming in its simplicity. To me, it harkens back to the early days of Kenner, except there are girls who surprisingly aren't princesses, slaves, or prostitutes. Amazing what 30 years can do.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Sonic the Hedgehog's CREAM THE RABBIT!

Sonic the Hedgehog: SonicX - Cream and Cheese - Toy Island 2005

This action figure makes me a little sad because it represents the last Sonic girl on my list of must-haves.  There are some alternate versions of some characters I don't technically have, but for the most part this is it.  I now own all the Toy Island, Jazwares, and Tomy ladies.  Cream the Rabbit was no easy girl to catch either.  I've been hunting her down for years and I rarely see her under $80.  Luckily I recently acquired her cheaply, albeit loose and without her companion Cheese.  Cream is a young 6-yo rabbit in the Sonic Universe.  She is known to everyone as the daughter of Vanilla the Rabbit but has an interesting creation history.  Cream was originally intended to be a young fox relative of Tails, then later she was designed as a squirrel.  We only ever saw the final version though when she made her debut in 2003's Sonic Heroes.  Cream is a (flying) sidekick for playable characters like Amy Rose and Blaze the Cat.  Let's check out the rare figure in detail below!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

DC Comics - KIDROBOT KEYCHAINS!

DC Keychain Series - Catwoman, Wonder Woman, Supergirl - Kidrobot 2015

It seems like the older I get, the more I love super-cute things.  When I was younger I held on tightly to some silly preconceived notions of masculinity that would have had me sneering at today's popular toylines like Funko POP, Imaginext, and Mini-Mates.  Heck, I probably even would have turned my nose up at Legos.  It's been a long slow acceptance for me to admit that I simply just like what I like.  Sometimes those are gorey monster toys, sometimes they're adorable doe-eyed keychains.  Who cares. These Kidrobot keychains are pretty great. They're cute, well designed, and their paint apps are on point.  The best part is that I didn't realize that these are seemingly the precursors for the Kidrobot DC Blind Box figures that are in comic stores next week.  The Blind Box figures have a different character assortment and are roughly twice the size of these mini keychains with some limited articulation. Depending on character selection, I think I'll be hoarding both scales of these figures.  Let's check them out below!


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Halo - COMMANDER PALMER!

HALO 4 - Series 03: Commander Sarah Palmer - McFarlane Toys 2015

Halo is one of those toy lines that I have no interest in, but then I keep getting suckered in by cool action figures that magically appear when the shelves seem to be devoid of my typical superhero fare.  This is now my 5th Halo toy which is surprising because I've never played the game, or even seen any gameplay aside from random commercials and that election day episode of The Good Wife.  (Interesting connection I just discovered: Ridley Scott, director the Good Wife is directing a digital feature called Halo: Nightfall featuring Good Wife star (and future Luke Cage), Mike Colter.  Nice cross-promotion there.  But I digress).  Commander Palmer gets some special attention because she's the only character I have two of.  I couldn't resist her Spr√ľKits model from earlier this year, although I may have skipped it if I knew this version was on the horizon.  This figure is of typical high quality along with my other McFarlane toys.  If other companies out there put this much effort into quality I'd be one happy boy.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Masters of the Universe Classics - QUEEN ANGELLA!

MOTUC Club Eternia - Angella - Mattycollector.com Exclusive - Mattel 2015

Every time I get a new MOTUC figure, I confidently proclaim it to be my favorite action figure ever. This Queen Angella of Brightmoon figure is definitely no exception. She's one of the most dynamic and interesting figures in my POP collection. Angella was far from my favorite character in the cartoon. There's no good reason for this, I just never thought she was that interesting in comparison to the rest of the Great Rebllion. Plus her hair always annoyed me. When this figure was first teased, I thought the re-use of DCUC Hawkgirl's wings was lazy, and when the first reports found her height to be significantly shorter than previous POP girls (including her daughter Glimmer), my expectations were lowered to pretty dismal levels. However, as soon as I got this figure in my hands, all my fears were assuaged.  The wings look a thousand times better on Angella than Hawkgirl, and although she is shorter than the rest of the girls, I will personally only be displaying her with a flight stand, effectively eliminating the problem.

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!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Marvel Legends - HELLCAT!

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

I absolutely love this figure.  I never would have guessed that I would hold a Hellcat action figure in my lifetime. Her bright colors and batman-esque headgear were an instantaneous draw for me when I'd see her on Avengers covers in my youth. Patsy Walker has a great comic legacy.  She first appeared in the heyday of romance comics in 1944. It wasn't until 32 years later that she donned her current costume and became Hellcat. (Talk about efficient recycling of characters).  Her costume originated with Greer Grant in the pages of Claws of the Cat.  Greer wore that costume for 2 years before fully "wolfing out" and becoming Tigra. Luckily the Cat costume was able to find a willing subject in supermodel Patsy Walker.  I was fairly certain that the impetus for Hellcat's inclusion in this wave is Patsy's role in the upcoming AKA Jessica Jones series on Netflix, but at the same time, I think this figure was probably in development long before that role was cast, so I like to think it was just Hasbro reading my mind :)

Monday, April 6, 2015

Imaginext Blind Bags - SNOWBOARDER!

Imaginext Blind Bags Series 4 - Snowboarder - Fisher-Price/Mattel 2015

Here's an unexpected female figure in Fisher-Price's wildly successful Imaginext line. It doesn't surprise me that the second blindbag female released in the line was a sports-themed figure, but somehow I wasn't expecting it at all. The best part is she reminds me exactly of one of my first Lego minifigures - the pink snowboarder girl from Lego Mini-figures Series 3.  (Unfortunately I couldn't unearth her for this review).  For those not in the know, this fourth series of Imaginext Blindbags is the first wave to feature female characters.  It's unprecedented, but a long time coming.  Hopefully all future waves have decent female representation as well.  Not to mention the remaining Rescue Heroes characters (Ariel Flyer and Maureen Biologist) that will hopefully join Wendy Waters soon.  I won't even mention the conspicuous absence of Gemma from the core line.  I have high hopes though.  I think these Wave 4 figures will be popular and the ladies will come flooding in.  Let's check out the snowboarder below!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Imaginext Blind Bags - WICKED WITCH!

Imaginext Blind Bags Series 4 - Witch - Fisher-Price/Mattel 2015

Woohoo! I will start out this post on a humble note... letting you know that I totally predicted this figure way back in August! I said "I foresee a witch and a Cleopatra-type in the next wave." And that was months before this figure was unveiled. I know Tuy-Guru is taken, but maybe I could be the new "toy-clairvoyant" or something. Fisher-Price's Imaginext series is one of my favorite toy lines out there. Their simplicity, playability, and consistent high quality make for a fun and easy collectible (not to mention their regular availability and low price points). Who cares if they're meant for three year-olds. My only complaint up till now has been the lack of females in the line.  Luckily that gender gap is slowly beginning to close. Wave 4 of the blind-bags contain the 2nd and 3rd non-licensed females in the modern Imaginext line. While that hardly seems like a great achievement, I foresee a similar female presence in the blind bags moving forward. Let's keep our fingers crossed and check out the Witch below!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Masters of the Universe Classics - HUNTARA!

MOTUC - Club Eternia Huntara - MattyCollector.com Exclusive - Mattel 2015

Sorry for the delay on this post. I received Huntara several weeks ago and immediately set up a photo shoot for a review. Unfortunately my first round of photos were a disaster. This second round is still iffy, but it's a vast improvement. There is something about the plastic of her lavender skin that creates of glowing blur in my photo tent. I adjusted the levels on my camera as best I could to compensate, but it was a royal pain. This figure is gorgeous though so it was worth the effort. Huntara appeared in only one episode of She-Ra but has been a total fan-favorite ever since. I was personally never a huge fan just because of her crazy voice and her appearance. I like her appearance by all means, but it seemed very out-of-sync with the rest of the She-Ra characters. She always seemed like a He-Man character to me. Anyway, all my personal opinions aside, this figure is wonderful and a great example of MOTUC's commitment to the fans. Thirty years after her debut she got a long-deserved figure.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Mini-Mate Women of X-FORCE!

A Few Marvelous Mini Mutants - Domino, Boomer, Feral - DST/Art Asylum 2010-14

X-Force was a major obsession of mine in the early Nineties. I was a New Mutants loyalist for years and I was excited for all the new changes and incarnations brought about in 1991's X-Force.  I even loved Rob Liefeld's art. My fascination didn't last too long though.  The "extreme" storylines began to bore me pretty quickly (and yes, I realized how very ironic that was at the time) and Rob fled with the rest of the heavy-hitters to form Image.  Still, whenever I see imagery from that era, I feel a massive wave of nostalgia.  Mini-Mates are the best collectible for satisfying that kind of collecting itch.  They don't take up much space, they're inexpensive, and they have a great track record with team completion and costume variations.  And while I think there could be a few additional characters added to the roster: Rusty & Skids, Siryn, Sunspot, a reissued Warpath, etc, I think it's a pretty great collection overall -- and there is always room for expansion.  Let's check out Domino, Feral, and Boomer below!