Thursday, May 30, 2019

Rescue Heroes - SANDY O'SHIN!

Rescue Heroes - Series 01 - Sandy O'Shin (Water Rescue) - Fisher-Price 2019

Preschool toys have come leaps and bounds since my childhood. For some reason action figures were always reserved for older children, and the only ones we actually did get were blocky and rather boring. But kids these days have a ton of really fun options. They have aisles full of cutesy articulated animal characters, super heroes, and the most recent additions: the new Rescue Heroes from Fisher-Price. This line is a reboot of a pretty successful run with the same name from 1998-2004. However, these new figures incorporate the design aesthetics of the wildly popular Imaginext line with the larger and more durable construction of the original Rescue Heroes. The initial lineup of characters has been available on the Walmart website for a few weeks. There are seven different figures so far - all featured on a series of animated shorts on YouTube Kids. I'm eagerly awaiting more brightly-colored, punny-named heroes. Let's check out Sandy O'Shin (oh brother, that name) below!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Rescue Heroes - SKY JUSTICE!

Rescue Heroes - Series 01 - Sky Justice & Hover Pack - Mattel/Fisher-Price 2019

When I started really getting into collecting Imaginext figures back in 2012, I was mostly excited about their DC Super Friends characters. But after a while I started diving deep into the history of Fisher-Price "adventure" toys and I discovered Rescue Heroes. These were larger scale figures (roughly 5-6" tall) featuring characters from various heroic professions: Fire fighters, police officers, lifeguards, etc. The line ran from 1998-2004 and had a ton of figures - including at least 19 females! But before you get excited, there were only three unique female characters, just with a zillion redecos. These figures themselves didn't really appeal to me, but I instantly had dreams of them being included in the smaller Imaginext line. Then in 2014, my dreams came true and handful of Imaginext Rescue Heroes were released (but it didn't last). Then there was nothing until this year's Toy Fair when Fisher-Price unveiled a whole new Rescue Heroes line in the original scale but with the Imaginext Aesthetic. Let's check out Sky Justice!

Monday, May 27, 2019

Marvel Legends - MICHELLE "MJ" JONES!

Marvel Legends - Spider-Man: FFH - Spider-Man & MJ Target Exc - Hasbro 2019

I don't usually collect action figures of civilian characters. Hell, I even hesitate when buying Black Widow figures because her outfits are usually so non-descript (aka boring). I want outlandish colorful spandex, ideally with capes and masks. But sometimes the execution of a figure is so nice that I gleefully push aside my snobbery and take my prize to the registers. In the Spider-Man: Homecoming and Far From Home movies, the traditional role of Mary Jane "MJ" Watson is replaced with Michelle "MJ" Jones played by Zendaya. I liked the character and the actress in the first movie quite a bit, but she wouldn't have been on my list for a must-have Marvel Legends figure. However, once I saw her in person she was extremely hard to pass up. This is 100% due to the amazing face scans. Hasbro used an earlier incarnation of the technology for G.I.Joe Rise of Cobra products in 2009 with frightening results. The improvements are simply amazing (with the exception of the bafflingly bad Captain Marvel). Let's check MJ out!

Sunday, May 26, 2019


Shazam! - Series 01 - Mary Marvel (Standard Version) - DC Direct 2007

One of my favorite things about the 2019 Shazam! movie is that it rejuvenated my interest in Mary Marvel. I wasn't very familiar with this character before she became a regular character in the early 2000s in the pages of Infinite Crisis and 52. She somehow escaped my notice for most of my life. Of course, during this reintroduction period she was going through some major character arcs, changing outfits and allegiances every time I tuned in. But I also became retroactively aware of her amazing history as one of the first female costumed heroes (introduced in Captain Marvel Adventures #18 from 1942) and was really inrigued. But even still, I never went crazy trying to collect all her figures until I realized that she would be in the new Shazam! film (and we would even be getting a toy of her!) So, I've been going back and collecting a bunch of her merchandise and reading reprints of her classic stories - and needless to say she's become a favorite of mine. This DC Direct figure is my favorite so far. She's a classic beauty.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Beast Morphers - YELLOW RANGER & ROXY!

Power Ranger Beast Morphers - Yellow Ranger & Cybervillain Roxy - Hasbro 2019

Power Rangers Beast Morphers is the 26th iteration of the American Power Rangers franchise, but interestingly, it is based of the 36th iteration of the Japanese Super Sentai series from back in 2012. This is the first year that the US series is using a previously-skipped chapter from the Japanese show.  The themes are a mix of animal heroes and computer virus villains. At first glance, I was unimpressed with the designs of the Rangers. The Yellow Ranger, Zoey, is an avatar of a Jackrabbit. But I personally think the costumes lack imagination, and I really dislike the "sunglasses" features on all the characters. However, as soon as I saw the main female villain, Roxy, I was hooked. Cybervillain Roxy has one of the best Sentai villain designs I've ever seen. And learning that she was the first attempt at a Yellow Ranger that was essentially corrupted by a computer virus makes me like the main Yellow Ranger a lot more. (Now I really how we get a 12" Roxy figure as well). Let's check them out below!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Overwatch Ultimates - ANA (SHRIKE)!

Overwatch Ultimates: Series 01 Single-Pack Figures - Ana (Shrike) - Hasbro 2019

Of all the amazing figures in Hasbro's new Overwatch Ultimates line, I think this figure of Ana in her Shrike skin is the least impressive. While other characters are a colorful and fun blend of genres (mecha, fantasy, anime, etc), this one just looks dark and nondescript. That said, it's still a pretty cool figure. The teal, purple, and yellow details really add a lot of pop, but the overall look is still pretty shrouded and menacing. From what I can gather from my research, Ana is a character with many different skins. This Shrike skin is not her most iconic, so its inclusion left a lot of collectors flummoxed.  A cool skill I learned is that she can fire darts at her allies to heal them. Darts of healing potion is a pretty original concept for me. There was an announcement today of a GameStop 4-pack that includes (among other things) a new version of Pharah in a different skin. So I think it's possible that we might see an Ana in her classic blue-hooded look eventually. Only time will tell though. Let's check out Ana (Shrike) below!

Monday, May 20, 2019

Marvel Select - ROGUE!

Marvel Select - X-Men: Rogue (90s Jim Lee Version) - Diamond Select Toys 2019

I love a good villain-turned-hero. One of my first exposures to Rogue was her appearances in ROM: Spaceknight when she was my favorite member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. I also had a few random issues of Dazzler when she was being all villainous. All my comics in the mid-to-late eighties were from 25¢ boxes so I was living 3-5 years in the past. I didn't even realize she joined the X-Men until way late in the game. Then the double-whammy of the X-Men the Animated Series and the Lee/Claremont run in the comics launched her into superstardom. To this day I still run into people who aren't even into the genre, but if comics or X-Men come up, they inevitably start gushing over Rogue (and Storm). The Marvel Select line is really impressive lately. This Rogue figure is the second of four females due out this year (Psylocke and Captain Marvel are still coming). And the quality is getting better and better, so DST reveals at SDCC are something I'm really looking forward to. Let's check out Rogue below!

Sunday, May 12, 2019

DC Direct - VIXEN!

Justice League of America (Ed Benes) - Series 01 - Vixen - DC Direct 2007

I mentioned during my recent DC Multiverse Vixen review that I was suddenly inspired to collect all the Vixen figures ever made (there aren't many). This presented me with a bit of moral issue though because I specifically remember being highly disappointed with this 2007 DC Direct figure when it was released (and vowing not to buy it). Vixen had been around for decades but was just being launched into A-level status by being included in the new roster of the Justice League in 2006. This figure was meant to commemorate her new status, but to me she looked like an awkwardly failed attempt at over-sexualization. Her breasts are larger than her head and laughably exposed. Bared cleavage can be beautiful and provocative, but this is pure male titillation and impracticality. Her hips and thighs look unproportionally narrow compared to her shoulders and chest. And the odd articulation in her arms makes her look like she is in a permanent state of airing out her armpits. This figure's popularity has been a mystery to me for years.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Metropolis ReAction - MARIA!

ReAction Retro Figures - Metropolis' Maria (Standard & DCON Exc) - Super7 2019

I've been obsessed with Maria from Metropolis ever since I found myself in Suncoast Video in the early 2000s and bought a Reel Masters Silent Screamers Maria from Mezco Toys. I hadn't ever heard of this movie or character before, but I quickly learned I was surrounded by genuine fans and heard all about it. I honestly still haven't seen the movie, but I'm sure I'll see it eventually. The plot descriptions I have read paint the robot as a political pawn, used to mimic the likeness of Maria (an activist for the working class) and spark an uprising in Metropolis. The plot truly sounds a little depressing to me, but the design of the robot always caught my eye and I've been wishing for a decent toy for year (that Silent Screamers one was too stylized for me and the Bionica figure is a straight-up reinterpretation). But Super7 came to the rescue with this perfect little ReAction figure. I especially love she same with an easy-to-acquire exclusive variant with a dark paintwash. I love variety. Let's check out Maria below!

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Overwatch Ultimates - MERCY & PHARAH!

Overwatch Ultimates: Series 01 - Mercy & Pharah Figure 2-Pack - Hasbro 2019

Even if you don't play video games and have no idea what Overwatch is (like yours truly), this Mercy and Pharah 2-pack is very difficult to ignore. Maybe I'm alone in this, but winged action figures seem to carry a certain weight that terrestrial characters just don't have. The flying character in a wave is almost always the most popular and the play-quality is leaps and bounds above the rest. So this 2-pack featuring two very different winged females is very special. Mercy looks like a typical angelic deity character while Pharah looks like a mecha warbird. The pair is is mind-blowingly cool (in my not-so-humble-opinion). Also, I said this in previous Overwatch Ultimates reviews, but these designs also hit a nostalgic nerve for me because they seem very reminiscent to Masamune Shirow's multi-genre art style that I was obsessed with in the 90's (until his work took a sharp turn toward the erotic and i got prudish). The quality of these figures is really top notch and I'm really hoping a second wave is announced soon.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Overwatch Ultimates - SOMBRA!

Overwatch Ultimates: Series 01 Single-Pack Figures - Sombra - Hasbro 2019

Sombra is a technological hacker character in Overwatch. Her most interesting skill is her "hack" which projects as a pink energy blast (with a skull motif) that will disrupt another character, especially if they have tech-based armor or weapons. Of all the toys I have bought from this first wave of Overwatch Ultimates figures, I will reluctantly say that Sombra is my least favorite. This is ironic because based solely on her design, I expected her to be near the top of my list. But in person, her head seems too small; her jacket and waistcoat seem bulky, awkward, and cumbersome; and her legs seem weak and gangly with oversized ankles (if they had proper paint apps, her ankles would look like the mechanical detail they are supposed to be, but without that paint distinction she looks like a poster child for Edema). This figure is still very stunning. Her hair is cool and her magenta and aqua color scheme with silver details is very eye-catching. But she's just got some stiff competition in this line. Let's check out Sombra below!

Friday, May 3, 2019

Marvel Titan Hero Series - VALKYRIE!

Avengers Endgame - Titan Hero Series: PowerFX - Valkyrie - Hasbro 2019

When Thor Ragnarok product started hitting the shelves a couple years ago I was very wary of this cinematic version of Valkyrie. I had always been fond of the tall busty blonde Scandinavian warrior from the comics, and the image of Tessa Thompson as a normal-statured woman of color with face paint and futuristic armor seemed like a huge departure from the classic Brunhilde. And when I finally saw the movie, I learned I was right. This cinematic Valkyrie was stubborn, technologically savvy, and often drunk. But I liked her. And I realized that a classic comic version would have been extremely awkward in that movie. Her presence in Avengers Endgame just solidified my newfound appreciation her. Seeing her sweeping across the screen astride Aragorn was one of the highlights of the movie for me. This Titan figure was leaked many months ago, but I feared she might never be released when she was absent from the first wave of Endgame product. But luckily she was just a part of the secret second batch.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Overwatch Ultimates - TRACER!

Overwatch Ultimates: Series 01 Single-Pack Figures - Tracer - Hasbro 2019

I don't play video games outside of the occasional app-of-the-moment phone distraction, so I often don't get pulled into action figures based on game properties. I would often be impressed by the character design, but the lack of connection to the property (plus the questionable articulation and price points) made it easy for me to resist. But when Hasbro announced their Overwatch Ultimates line, I had a gut feeling I would be plunging in deep. I had been noticing the Overwatch characters for a few years. Their bright colors and their Masamune Shirow-esque designs really intrigued me. Then I looked at the actual lineup of the figures and saw five females and four males. I can't not support a line with that kind of female representation. Plus Hasbro has not let me down in a long time in regards to quality and value. The distribution has been great as well. I've seen these figures stocked in Walmart, Target, and GameStop so far. And after seeing them in person, I really hope the line continues. Let's check out Tracer below!