Friday, August 23, 2019

Transformers - TRICKDIAMOND & FLOWSPADE

Transformers: Unite Warriors - Megatronia Gift Set - TakaraTomy Mall Exc 2017

Assigning gender to robots is always a tricky business. I personally find myself drawn to characters with a typically feminine (aka hourglass) silhouette and a face with some feminine characteristics. However I cringe when those same features are exaggerated and we see gigantic metal breasts and pouty lips. On the opposite end of the spectrum are the stocky (and dare I say, masculine) characters like Strika, Manta Ray, and Override. I always have a lot of issues with these characters too. But it's not because I think femininity has to be confined to a certain aesthetic, but rather that my pessimistic side assumes the toy-makers were lazy and just wanted to re-use male parts. This brings us to the legs of the Megatronia combiner: Trickdiamond and Flowspade. I love one, and I hate one.  They both have short stocky bodies (that are indeed re-used male bucks), but Trickdiamond also has a great face and cool color scheme. Flowspade has an unexpressive ninja head and a stereotypically pink color scheme.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Transformers - MOONHEART & LUNACLUB!

Transformers: Unite Warriors - Megatronia Gift Set - TakaraTomy Mall Exc 2017

Every good military unit needs great soldiers. And with Megaempress' army, her Copter Twins (Moonheart and Lunaclub) are her first line of defense. Megaempress actually created the pair herself, so they are her most trusted protectors and always loyal to their creator. Moonheart has power over water and uses Blizzard Blade sword to freeze her enemies, while her sister Lunaclub has similar powers over fire and uses her Flame Sword to wreak destruction. The twins are repaints of Skyburst and Stormclash from the Victorion gift set a year earlier (who are both just a slight retool of Alpha Bravo). But again, there's something about these Megatronia re-decos that just really pops. It also doesn't hurt that this gift set gave us five female Decepticons and none of them are purple (let that sink in for a moment). An amusing thing I've noticed is that the Victorion (Autobot) figures have angrier looking faces that the Megatronia (Decepticon) ones. It's the paint around the eyes. Let's check out the Copter Twins below!

Monday, August 19, 2019

Transformers - MEGAEMPRESS!

Transformers: Unite Warriors - Megatronia Gift Set - TakaraTomy Mall Exc 2017

I just learned about this character so bear with me while I excitedly rant. Megaempress was made from Megatron's spare parts and became his love interest (think of a dysfunctional Optimus and Elita). She has the ability to manipulate and control male Transformers and is viewed as dangerous and untrustworthy by her fellow Decepticons. They even overtook her and put her in stasis for many years. When she was revived, Megatron had been reincarnated as Galvatron and she immediately began plotting her way into his regime. Also, she once had her sights set on Optimus Prime, but he was able to resist her powers by focusing on his connection to Elita One (awww). This toy is fantastic and makes the high purchase price of the Megatronia set worth it. She is a straight-up repaint of Pyra Magna from the Victorion set, which in turn is a retool of Hot Spot. But her coloring and backstory make her infinitely more interesting than Pyra Magna (imho). Plus, female Decepticons are severely lacking.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Legendary Comic Book Heroes - ANN O'BRIEN!

LCBH - Series 02 (Monkeyman Build-a-Figure) - Ann O'Brien - Marvel Toys 2007

There's a lot of 90's nostalgia happening right now in the toy world. Every time I tune in to Marvel Legends news there is some excited announcement about some 90s-specific costume making everyone giddy. But the funny thing is that this was the era when my escalating distaste for Marvel and DC comics was reaching its peak. For most of the 90s I was obsessed with Manga and Indy comics. And my absolute favorite thing coming from the US market was the Legend imprint from Dark Horse Comics. This imprint was following the footsteps of Image Comics with creator-owned properties, but the difference is that the caliber of creators. John Byrne, Mike Mignola, Frank Miller, Paul Chadwick, Mike Allred, Walt Simonson, and Arthur Adams all had seriously established reputations and all launched projects under the aptly named Legend banner. Where Image was all flash and entertainment, Legend was classic and artistic (and a breath of fresh air amidst the "extreme" style ruining mainstream American comics).

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Miraculous Ladybug - VOLPINA!

Miraculous Ladybug Action Figures: Wave 03 - Volpina - Bandai 2018

Foxes are really intriguing animals to me. As a kid I was always excited to see them mysteriously slinking around our land, but there always seemed to be a certain mystery and intelligence surrounding them that I couldn't pinpoint. As a teenager I learned about how Japanese culture holds them in a similar regard and my overzealous childhood imagination suddenly seemed justified. The movie Pom Poko, the anime series Inu-Yasha, Sonic the Hedgehog, and the comic Skeleton Key were all a big part of my teenage years and they all featured foxes as shapeshifting or generally magical beings. (Plus an recent episode in the first season of Love, Death, and Robots featured a Huli Jung, which is an almost identical Chinese version of the Japanese Kitsume mythology). Long story short, I now had backup for my fox obsession. When I saw this character Volpina in images for Miraculous, I knew she had to have an eventual action figure. And luckily my premonition was correct, this Volpina is gorgeous. Let's check her out below!

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

DC Multiverse - KATANA!

DC Comics Multiverse: Killer Croc Collect-n-Connect Wave -Katana - Mattel 2019

I never thought I would have a Katana figure that really excited me. I always thought she was an interesting and notable character, but assassin types who fight with swords just always seemed a little unimaginative to me (as least in the over-the-top world of superhero comics). Her recent roles in Suicide Squad, Beware the Batman, and DC Superhero Girls made me realize that her popularity was quickly picking up steam, but I still thought her design was a tad boring. However, this Rebirth redeco changes her just enough to really intrigue me. It's barely any different - all the classic elements are present - but suddenly she reminds me of the designs from David Mack's Kabuki and a little of the Robin quasi-villain, Lynx (who I always wished had more staying power). I didn't realize how much I liked this design until I found this figure at Walmart last week. She's really stunning and it's a shame the Mattel is losing the licence after recently upping their game so impressively. Let's check out Katana below!

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Miraculous Ladybug - LADY NOIRE & MISTER BUG!

Miraculous Ladybug Action Figures: Wave 05 - Lady Noire & Mr. Bug - Bandai 2019

I love a good gender-swap, and I like it even better when it's true swap and two characters reverse their gender polarities. I don't know the exact storyline behind these costumes, but seeing Marinette in a cat outfit and Adrien in a ladybug getup makes me really happy.  Miraculous products have all but disappeared from the shelves in the US. The first two waves were available everywhere: Target, Walmart, Kmart, TRU, etc. But waves three, four, and now five seem to only be released in Europe (France, Germany, UK) and Russia. The crazy thing is that the show's popularity seems to be picking up lately. I've had multiple friends ask me where to get Miraculous toys, specifically because their kids have (recently) become huge fans. I hope the US toy industry takes note and they bring them back. I'll be spending the next few posts catching up on the backlog of figures I've acquired. It was really fun to finally open them all. Let's check out Lady Noir and Mister Bug below!

Friday, August 9, 2019

Transformers Warrior Class - SLIPSTREAM!

Transformers: Cyberverse - Warrior Class Target Exc - Slipstream - Hasbro 2019

I think I could go out on a limb and say that Slipstream is my favorite female Decepticon. Blackarachnia and Airachnid are cool and all, but I'm a bit of a Transformers purist and I like my alternate modes to be vehicles and not oversized robotic animals. The organic nature of the animal modes also makes their robot forms look very aesthetically different that other characters. All the other robots have hard edges and a mechanical functionality that I find very appealing. But the beast-based characters, although cool, look more like alien androids than robots. I only discovered Slipstream when I picked up her Kre-O figure about 5 years ago. Slipstream is a female clone of Starscream introduced during Transformers: Animated. Because she is a clone, her merchandise is often just a repainted Starscream (despite her looking distinctly feminine in the cartoons). But luckily this Warrior Class Starscream buck is very gender-neutral so I don't mind the laziness. Let's check out Slipstream below!

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

DC Direct - TERRA!

New Teen Titans - Series 02 (The Judas Contract) - Terra - DC Direct 2008

I always thought there were two true tests of a comic artist's skills: how well they draw animals and how well they draw kids. Both can be extremely difficult and I usually find most efforts cringe-worthy. I was a pretty decent fan of the Teen Titans when I was a kid, and the art by the legendary George PĂ©rez for the most part was fantastic, but one thing I always had issues with was the depiction of the young teenage character, Terra. She is the focal point of one of the most famous Titan stories ever (The Judas Contract), which I was unfortunately never able to finish do to my overly-judgemental artistic scruples. However, I always liked nature-based powers and when this action figure was released way back in 2008 I was impressed how well sculptor James Shoop was able to capture the artistic style that I found so off-putting in my youth. Looking back at that comic art now, I don't know what my problem was. But I also didn't like brussels sprout or the color pink, so what the hell did I know. Let's check out Terra below!

Monday, August 5, 2019

12" Fortnite - CUDDLE TEAM LEADER!

Fortnite - Victory Series (12" Figures) - Cuddle Team Leader - Jazwares 2019

I get ridiculously excited when I see new 12" action figures in the stores. Seriously, I make a fool out of myself. There are two factors that I attribute to this. Firstly, they are almost always unannounced. I usually find out about them on Instagram from someone discovering them in a store, and there is no wait time to start my hunt. Instant gratification. And secondly, I think the 12" figures give you the same scale perspective as you might have felt holding a 6-8" action figure in your tiny hands when you were a kid. There a kind of tactical nostalgia that's palpable. (If you haven't experienced this you need to go to five Below and pick up a random figure and try it). All my modern 12" figures are from Hasbro, Mattel, and Bandai, so when I stumbled across this new Fortnite line from Jazwares I was totally stoked that another player has entered the game. Even if the next few female offerings are just repaints of this Cuddle Team Leader figure (Panda Team and Spooky Team Leaders for example) I would be happy. It's a very quirky design and I gladly embrace any variants (within reason). Let's check out this 12"pink beauty below!

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Marvel Legends Vintage - DAZZLER!

Marvel Legends: Vintage (Toy Biz) Series 03 - Dazzler - Hasbro 2019

While watching the latest season of Stranger Things, I keep reminiscing on my own childhood mall memories of the 80's and 90's. One of the highlights for me and my siblings (aside from Kay-Bee Toys of course) was the arcade. I spent countless hours there as a child running frantic loops on the day-glo patterned carpets trailing a string of tickets a mile long. Only a few actual video games made a lasting impression on me though. Namely Golden Axe, Simpsons, and Konami's classic X-Men game. True to my nature, I only ever played the female characters, Storm and Dazzler. I didn't actually know Dazzler from the comics too well, but her inclusion in the 1985 Pryde of the X-Men cartoon must have made an impression because I knew exactly who the the character was. I didn't notice her again until her appearances early on in Jim Lee's X-Men series in the 90s. Her costume has changed a lot over the years, but because of those early introductions, I will always prefer this blue starburst look. Let's check her out!