Monday, January 27, 2020

Heavy Metal - TAARNA!

Figbiz 5" Action Figures - Heavy Metal: Taarna the Taarakian - Incendium 2019

This figure brought back a flood of nostalgia for me. I was too young to watch the Heavy Metal animated film when it came out in 1981, but a decade later when I was a full-fledged junkie of the Sci-Fi Channel, this movie was often playing and I was mesmerized by animation that was clearly not meant for kids. The concept was foreign to me. Even the scarier animation of my youth like Return of the King and the Last Unicorn were still aimed toward young audiences. But Heavy Metal only played late at night and featured a lot of nudity, sexuality, and graphic violence... if my parents only knew what I was watching. And in reading the movie synopsis now, I'm pretty sure I was seeing a really watered down version of the film - heavily edited for cable TV. The most iconic story in the movie was the white-haired mute warrior Taarna. Clad in a ridiculous thong (but with sensible armor on her legs and arms), she flew around a post-apocalyptic world on a mutated pterosaur and got into swordfights. It was classic fantasy gold.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Urusei Yatsura - LUM!

Figma Action Figure Series #063 - Urusei Yatsura (Lum) - Max Factory 2010

Urusei Yatsura is an iconic manga series which was published from 1978-1987 (plus an anime series from 1981-1987). I was often exposed to images of Lum, the bikini-clad flying girl with little horns, when I was young (her popularity in Japan somehow traveled across the ocean, albeit without much context), but my first real exposure came when the comics began to be reprinted in the US in the early 90s. I was instantly hooked. Lum's author and artist, Rumiko Takahashi, is one of my top five favorite creators of all time. She's most commonly known for Inu-Yasha or Ranma 1/2, but I've literally loved every series she's created. Urusei Yatsura roughly translates into "Those Obnoxious Aliens" and deals with a threatened alien invasion that can only be thwarted if a randomly chosen young man, the lecherous and comically unlucky Ataru, can win a game of tag against the young alien princess, Lum. Wacky hijinks, zany characters, and ridiculous scenarios ensue - for nine years and 374 stories!

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Funko Pop - BLACK WIDOW (1st Appearance)!

POP! Marvel #551 - 80 Years - Black Widow (First Appearance) - Funko 2019

It's become a standard routine for Marvel Legends and DC Multiverse to announce a few store exclusive figures in the months before theatrical release. Last year the Captain Marvel movie gave us the Walmart Binary and Target Starforce versions of the character. Then in 2017 the Wonder Woman movie gave us TRU exclusive Menalippe and Diana. (Not to mention all the Spider-Man and Captain America figures). So I knew there would be some exclusives for Black Widow announced soon. And today was the lucky day. Unfortunately I was really really hoping for this "first appearance" costume. I put quotes around that because this is really her second look. When Natasha first appeared in 1964 she just looked like a grieving widow at a funeral, complete with a black veil. A year later she started wearing this gem of a costume. She still has that matronly hair and those pearl earrings, but her veil has been transferred to a fishnet bodysuit to compliment her new mask and cape. It's so bad it's good. At least we got a POP of her!

Monday, January 20, 2020

12" Spin Master - HARLEY QUINN!

DC Universe - 12" Creature Chaos -  Harley Quinn - Spin Master Toys 2020

When the news of Mattel losing the DC Comics license to McFarlane Toys and Spin Master hit the collecting community last year, one of my biggest fears was that the 12" True Moves line from Mattel would not continue.  The line showed so much potential but only technically had three female figures released (Batgirl, Mera, and Wonder Woman - which were all gorgeous). I had high hopes for many years of figures suddenly dashed. But I had no reason to fear because Spin Master almost immediately revealed a pretty robust wave of 12" in the exact same style as Mattel. Harley Quinn is the first female offering and her scale and articulation is identical to the Mattel Batgirl. There is a comic-based Wonder Woman is apparently being released in March and I hope Toy Fair shows us some more fun characters. I have a wishlist a mile long, but I only wish I could conjure up some supersized display space to accommodate them (I still keep them mostly on windowsills). Le'ts check out Harley Quinn below!

Saturday, January 18, 2020

DC Gallery - BATWOMAN!

Batman DC Gallery PVC Diorama - Batwoman - Diamond Select Toys 2019

The modern trend of relatively-inexpensive PVC statues is making me break all of my collecting rules. I still only buy larger-scale collectibles of characters I really really like, but I used to refrain buying anything with an overly-decorative base or any that weren't perfectly sculpted. But these PVC statues can be so inexpensive.. often retailing for $30-50 bucks (and they seem to get clearanced pretty fast, I've picked up a few at GameStop for $10). This Batwoman is a prime example of a collectible I would have never bought a few years ago. The sculpt takes up a lot of shelf space, and if she were cold-case porcelain, she'd easily be priced at $150. But the price was right and she looked phenomenal so I caved. Plus I saw her at a local comic shop that I like to support, so I had added incentive to make a purchase. This is easily one of the best representations of Batwoman in my collection. And I think if her skin were more ghostly white she'd be perfect. Let's check out the DC Gallery Batwoman below!

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Funko Savage World - CHEETARA!

Savage World Action Figures: ThunderCats - Wave 2  - Cheetara - Funko 2019

One of my very favorite toy collecting trends in the last decade has been the re-introduction of "vintage style" action figures. The first to come along was Gentle Giant Jumbo figures in 2011 featuring 12" upscaled vintage Star Wars figures, then the ReAction figures from Super7 back in 2014 which re-imagines modern properties in a classic Kenner 3.75" style. The 2015 Micro G.I.Joes offered a brief tease. And most recently Funko and Super7 have established their Vintage and Savage World lines which give new life to the vintage He-Man aesthetic. My most wanted Savage World figure from the beginning was Cheetara. As one of the major icons from 80s cartoons, she doesn't get nearly enough merchandise. While this figure has some problems, she still brings me an intense amount of joy. I don't even know if any more of these figures are on the horizon. The Bride of Frankenstein and mystery woman in the Conan line haven't been mentioned in years, but I have hopes! Let's check out Cheetara.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Marvel Legends - WHITE RABBIT!

Spider-Man Legends - (Demogoblin BaF Wave) - White Rabbit - Hasbro 2019

There's something about Alice in Wonderland that has inspired a ton of comic book villains. The interesting thing is that ones from DC tend to be more threatening like Alice from Batwoman, Cheshire from Teen Titans, and Mad Hatter and Tweedledee & Tweedledum from Batman. On the flipside, Marvel likes to steer their Alice-themed characters toward the absurd. The Crazy Gang, Walrus, and White Rabbit are all silly. They are inept at their schemes and usually seem nothing more than comic relief distractions wedged in between more serious adventures. But that doesn't stop me from loving them. White Rabbit is especially nostalgic for me. One early morning when I was young I was delivering newspapers on my paper route and one of my houses was setting up a yard sale. They had a stack of comics on their porch and they gave me Marvel Team-Up #131 which was the first appearance of the White Rabbit. It was actually my first superhero comic (G.I.Joe comics were my jam) and I treasured it for years.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Marvel Legends - HULK!

Fantastic Four Legends - (Super Skrull BaF) - Jennifer Walters Hulk - Hasbro 2020

I love She-Hulk. There's something special about the quick burst of female Marvel characters in the late 70s. Ms. Marvel, Spider-Woman, and She-Hulk were simple female rebrandings of established male characters created in a desperate attempt to secure copyrights (After Filmation's Web Woman fiasco). But the characters quickly became something very special. Having the same power sets, with similar origins, and similar environments created an unintentional social experiment on gender. It was like a long-format What If story, and it became the basis for a lot of my aesthetic and collecting obsessions. She-Hulk has gone through a ton of transformations over the years. Not all of them were to my liking, but others were amazing. For some reason I never questioned why she never had a "gray" transformation before, but I'm glad it finally happened (in 2017) because I think she looks amazing. Plus this buck will also be perfect for a new classic green She-Hulk (which has to be coming). Let's check out Hulk below!

Saturday, January 11, 2020

McFarlane Toys - HARLEY QUINN!

DC Multiverse - Series 01 - Classic Harley Quinn - McFarlane Toys 2020

I was really upset and nervous last year when the news came out that Mattel had lost the DC Comics license. In the past few years especially, Mattel had produced some of my very favorite DC Figures (Batwoman, Spoiler, and Burnside Batgirl to name a few). Meanwhile McFarlane Toys, the new licensee of the DC collectible lines, was hit-or-miss for years. I've collected McFarlane lines that abruptly ended, that fizzled out too fast, that had odd character selection, and some that had very inconsistent paint apps. But when the first waves of figures were revealed right after the new year, I suddenly had faith that the DC license will be handled well. The first female released is this "Harley Quinn Classic" which is a great figure seemingly inspired by BTAS, TNBA, and early comics. I didn't love her face design before I owned her, but in person her expressiveness shines through. Her articulation and scale is unlike anything else in my collection and I'm excited to see what's next. Let's check out Harley below!

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Marvel Select - CAPTAIN MARVEL!

Marvel Select - Captain Marvel (MCU Red Version) - Diamond Select Toys 2019

I think the Carol Danvers Captain Marvel suit is one of the coolest modern costume upgrades in a long time. I love how it has all the features of the original Mar-Vell's design, blends it with the classic Ms. Marvel look, then gives it modern edge with a more techy helmet and mohawk. And I also think it's one of the most successful looks to be translated into the live-action universe. It's often hard to tell if a product is representing the comic or MCU style. when we received the Marvel Select Starforce Captain Marvel in her green suit last year, I think we all knew this classic-colored re-issue was inevitable. I was considering skipping this purchase due to sheer repetition in my collection, but when I saw her in person (in the Disney Store) I found her hard to resist. I figure it won't be long until we get a slew of products featuring her Avengers Endgame design (which I think it the same costume sculpt, just different coloring and a bad haircut). I already predict I will cave and buy more. Let's check out Carol below!

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Marvel Titan Hero Series - CAPTAIN MARVEL!

Marvel's Avengers - Titan Hero Series: Blast Gear - Captain Marvel - Hasbro 2019

I predict this is going to be a fun year for 12" action figures. With new lines like Jazwares' Fortnite and Spinmaster's DC Universe, we know there will be a handful of new ladies popping up (Hopefully a few from Wonder Woman 1984 as well). Then the Marvel Titan Hero Series will likely continue with MCU figures for Black Widow, The Eternals, and maybe even Doctor Strange and Thor. But I'd be lying if I said my favorite figures weren't the comic-based ones. And those are the figures that tend to really sneak up on you without much advance warning. This comic-style Captain Marvel has been a long time coming. While it is actually a weird blend of comic and movie styles, the coloring and headsculpt definitely put her in the comic category in my opinion (the head is a pantographed comic-style Marvel Legends head after all). Pictures of this figure popped up on Instagram and I found her in a store the following week. Hopefully Hasbro has more sneaky releases like this coming! Let's check out captain Marvel below!

Friday, January 3, 2020

Disney's Atlantis - PRINCESS KIDA!

Atlantis The Lost Empire - 4" and 6" Action Figures - Princess Kida - Mattel 2000

I've wanted to review these figures for years but my inspiration finally struck when I noticed Atlantis: The Lost Empire on Disney+ last week and watched it again (for the first time since it came out). It's an interesting movie. It reminds me more of the animated adventure movies being produced by Fox and DreamWorks like Titan A.E. or Road to El Dorado. (Funny thing: Disney quickly followed this up with another adventure movie, Treasure Planet, in 2002, then none since). Atlantis was a fun movie, but if I had my way I would have changed a million little things - the CGI would toned down and the Atlanteans would look more alien-like (or at least aquatic in some way) for starters. All that aside though, Princess Kida remains one of the most unique Disney Princesses. Her white hair, face paint/tattoos, and blue warrior garb looks so interesting. It's a far cry from the tiara and gown trope, but unfortunately she never gained much traction and is relegated to the ranks of forgotten princesses. Let's check out Kida below!

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Avengers Endgame - VALKYRIE!

Marvel Legends - Avengers Endgame (Thor BaF Wave) - Valkyrie - Hasbro 2019

I'm first and foremost a comic nerd, and I have a special penchant for cheesy Bronze Age characters. While this era may not be a total cheesefest, my favorite characters are the awkward ones where I imagine the writers would come up with a name, then slap together a (super stereotypical) look based on that. Valkyrie is a prime example. She's a tall busty blonde with thick braids, metal cone bra, and spear... right out of a Looney Tunes opera (and I love everything about her). So when Tessa Thompson was revealed as a leather-clad warrior-type with bare arms and face tattoos, I had extreme reservations. However, watching Thor: Ragnarok, it quickly became clear that although this was an entirely new concept for the character, it was solid, funny, believable, and Tessa had a great screen presence. And all doubt was eliminated when she donned an amazing white outfit with gold and blue details by the end of the movie. Two years later we get a figure of this look and it was worth the wait! let's check out Valkyrie!