Thursday, April 30, 2020

Mythic Legions - JJUNO THE CRUSHER!

Mythic Legions: Advent of Decay - Jjuno the Crusher - Four Horsemen 2018

I have a love/hate relationship with female barbarian characters. One one hand, they are strong, dominant women who flip that hunter/gatherer dynamic on its head. But on the other hand I find the designs to be a little boring and repetitive. Metal bra? check. Fuzzy loincloth? Check. Big Axe? Check. Barbarian women and Jungle girls are two popular themes with abundant examples throughout comic and movie genres, but the characters often simply lack distinguishing characteristics. The Four Horsemen did their best to make Jjuno the Crusher stand out. Her blue facepaint and partially shaved scalp are indeed unique, but ironically these details made me not instantly fall in love with the design. It seemed like an odd blend of modern and classic themes which I found off-putting. However, with the help of some add-on wing accessories I made her look like a badass earth Valkyrie and suddenly she's one of my favorites in the line. I need to buy some more wings! Let's check out Jjuno the Crusher below!

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Kamer Rider - TACKLE!

Soul of Soft Vinyl - Figure #36 - Kamen Rider Stronger: Tackle - Bandai 2007

There are several Tokusatsu (aka Special Effects Filming) genres that dominate the pop culture landscape in Japan. Think of Kaiju (Godzilla), Super Sentai (Power Rangers), Ultraman, Metal Heroes (Beetleborgs), and of course Kamen Rider (Masked Rider). Kamen Rider was created by Shotaro Ishinomori (Power Rangers, Cyborg 009) in 1971 and features insect-themed cyborgs riding motorcycles and fighting against their creators (terrorist cells made up of former Nazis with group names like Shocker and Black Satan). The first female rider was "Electro-Wave Human Tackle" in the fifth series, Kamen Rider Stronger from 1975. Although never officially a "Rider," she had similar cyborg origins, she rode a bike, and she had an insect-themed (Ladybug) outfit. As a typical trope for female characters in genres like this, she was a love interest for the protagonist who eventually sacrificed her life to save a man. Plus her breast armor is typically awkward. She's a great example of the time. Let's check out Tackle below!

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Roblox - DIGITAL ARTIST!

Roblox 4" Action Figure Collection - Digital Artist - Jazwares Toys 2020

Roblox has been on my radar for several years. The creative themes of the toys always appeal to me, but I'm just not interested in getting into yet another block-style property (I already have a few Minecraft and Korejanai Robo figures). But even still, seeing the blocky Mermaids, Fairies, and Centaurs in the toy aisles still stops me in my tracks every time. I can't figure out exactly when and why the change took place, but this newest wave of action figures feature 3.75" characters with non-cubist renderings and pretty realistic proportions and details. It's kind of an exciting prospect for toy potential. Fortnite has been fun, but the female figures come out at a pretty slow pace, and they've been a little stylistically repetitive lately (killer teddy bears and raver girls with guns!) So seeing all the quirky female-centric Roblox figures from the last few years and imagining them reinterpreted into this realistic style could have amazing potential. I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for the next wave. Let's check out Digital Artist below!

Friday, April 24, 2020

Titan Hero Series - BLACK WIDOW (Movie)!

Marvel Titan Hero Series - Blast Gear - Black Widow (Winter Stealth) - Hasbro 2020

I find it pretty surprising that we haven't seen a black-costumed MCU Black Widow in the Marvel Titan Hero Series line yet. Several years ago they released repaints of the comic versions of Black Widow and Gamora with slightly darker colors that were intended to be MCU stand-ins, but I don't count those. So far we've only seen the green vest version from Avengers Infinity War, the space suit version from Avengers Endgame, and now this winter stealth version from the Black Widow movie. I figure we'll eventually see a classic black-costume release, but hopefully it will be sooner than later since I have a hunch Scarlet Johannson will be handing over the mantle soon. Who knows, we may even see a simple repaint of this figure in time for the rescheduled theatrical release in November. I'll just add that to my long wishlist for the Titan line. Gamora and Nebula (in a standard outfit) are the most glaring MCU absences, and I wouldn't say no to a Mantis. But I know a new Natasha is way more likely. Let's check her out!

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Black Widow Movie - BLACK WIDOW!

Marvel Legends - Crimson Dynamo Wave - Black Widow (Movie) - Hasbro 2020

One of these years I swear I am going to stop buying Black Widow action figures. My regular readers will know I am mainly drawn to superheroes with bright outlandish costumes and otherworldly powers. So an espionage-based character who mostly wears black is just not my cup of tea. But Hasbro has this ability to release MCU Black Widow figures at times when I am craving a new purchase. It was mid-February when I picked up my last Marvel Legends lady (Stepford Cuckoos). It's funny to think that two short months is what I consider a dry spell these days - it's truly a great era to be a collector. The presence of this Crimson Dynamo wave in the stores right now has two possible outcomes: They could be shelfwarmers for months with no movie (or standard shopping crowds) to support it. Or it could disappear like most waves eventually do and be in super high demand come November when the postponed movie will be released. It will be a fun merchandising experiment to observe. Let's check out Black Widow below!

Monday, April 20, 2020

Black Widow Movie - YELENA BELOVA!

Marvel Legends - Crimson Dynamo Wave - Yelena Belova (Movie) - Hasbro 2020

My first exposure to the Yelena Belova version of Black Widow was actually an earlier Marvel Legends figure back in 2004's Series 08. The regular Natasha Romanoff release had a blonde Yelena Belova variant that I just assumed was a classic character I knew nothing about. But it turns out she was relatively new and had just debuted in the Marvel Knights imprint in 1999. Since then she's donned a few other aliases, most notably Crimson Widow. I know in the comics she eventually became a Super-Adaptoid that could mimic the powers of her foes. I kind of doubt the MCU would allow any one character to have that much power, so I assume she is just being groomed to be the new Black Widow. Johanssen will probably retire from the MCU eventually while Florence Pugh is just in the early stages of her career. I just saw Florence in Midsommar and thought she was terrific. This face sculpt doesn't do her justice, but I have a feeling this is just the first Yelena figure of many. Let's check her out below!

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Pillsbury Playthings - POPPIE FRESH!

Pillsbury Playthings - Poppie Fresh Unarticulated Vinyl Doll - Pillsbury Co 1972

In my developmental years, commercials were something you couldn't opt out of. They popped up on your screen regularly and you just had to suffer through them. But suffer isn't the right word. In fact, when I was a kid it seemed like most commercials were actually geared towards children, regardless of the product. I think the advertisers really assumed the kids had more leverage over mom's purchasing decisions than they actually did. But even still, there were cute teddy bears peddling fabric softener, a playful dog peddling beer, and of course a Pillsbury Dough Boy peddling baking products. It was an odd time. When I think of all the advertising mascots that popped up throughout my childhood, The Pillsbury Dough Boy seems to lead the pack. Maybe it was just in my house, but my Mom would constantly poke our bellies with that patented "tee-hee," so the Pillsbury nostalgia went beyond the TV screen. I didn't know there was a whole family of characters until I found this toy. Let's check out Poppie Fresh below!

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Kikaider - BIJINDER!

Soul of Soft Vinyl - Figure #15 - Kikaider 01: Bijinder (Bijinda) - Bandai 2005

Kikaider is Japanese television franchise from 1972 created by Shotaro Ishinomori, the creator of Super Sentai (Power Rangers) and Cyborg 009. The original series deals with an android named Kikaider created by a scientist to protect his family. I first became aware of the property when Bandai's Super Imaginative Chogokin toys were showing up in specialty shops in the late 90s. Funny thing was, this specific toyline was hyper-detailed and didn't really appeal to me, but the general character designs were weird are really unique and stuck with me. A few years later this Soul of Soft Vinyl figure was released in Japan and I knew I had to have it. Bijinder was an evil android from the second TV Series (Kikaider 01) in 1973 created to destroy Kikaider. She eventually became an ally who appeared in 17 episodes and also appeared in the early 2000's anime. A typical trope of early tokusatsu is female characters with weaponized breasts. And Bijinder's lasers are no exception. Let's check her out below!

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Sentai Hero Series - LADIES OF MAGIRANGER!

Sentai Hero Series - Magi Pink, Magi Blue, and Magi Mother - Bandai 2005

Power Rangers Mystic Force was the 2006 iteration of the Power Rangers franchise and marked my first real fascination with the brand. Every season of Power Rangers had a theme - most of which honestly didn't interest me in the least: ninjas, space, etc. But the Mystic Force season featured a mythology theme and I loved it. The main females were the Pink Mystic Ranger (Fairy) and Blue Mystic Ranger (Mermaid). Even their Zord forms looked like vaguely feminine humanoids. I picked up several of the Bandai USA toys, but my favorite products were the Japanese Sentai Hero Series vinyl figures (released with the 2005 Magiranger series). They beat out the rest because this line included the White Mystic Ranger (Snow) that I don't believe was ever included in the American toylines. The Sentai Hero Series is a really fin and inexpensive line to collect. While not especially well articulated, they have decent, consistent sculpts and great character selection. Let's check out the Mystic Rangers below!

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Marvel Legends - BLACK WIDOW (White)!

Marvel Legends - Black Widow: Deadly Origins (Target Exc) - Hasbro 2020

I admit I don't think I'm going to be a big fan of the white-costumed Black Widow in the upcoming movie. The Infinity War blonde version with the green vest was enough a stretch and I'm kind of a comic book loyalist so cinematic reinterpretations always get heavy scrutiny from me. So when the initial white suit movie figure was revealed with the same head as the black-suited version, it was an easy pass from me. However, then this Target-exclusive Black Widow: Deadly Origin figure was unveiled and I was suddenly intrigued. The figure was clearly comic-based, and the headsculpt looked gorgeous (and original!) but I had never seen this outfit before. In 2010 there was a mini-series called Black Widow: Deadly Origin which told a modern version of her origin story. In the story, she dons this white Winter Stealth costume. I don't know this for a fact, but I'm willing to bet the story of this movie is based on this telling. Maybe i'll pick up the TPB before November. Let's check out Winter Stealth Black Widow below!

Friday, April 10, 2020

Transformers Studio Series - SHATTER!

Transformers Deluxe Studio Series #59 - Bumblebee Movie - Shatter - Hasbro 2020

It's taken a while, but thankfully we finally have a deluxe movie-accurate Shatter figure. The original designs sent to Hasbro in advance the movie weren't finalized, and therefore the first handful of Shatter figures were not screen accurate. This is most evident in the face, the first toys of which were covered with a red faceplate. While this is not a bad design at all, it didn't enable all the great expressions that the silver exposed face allowed. Luckily Shatter is a triple changer and therefore probably warranted two deluxe figures eventually, so I'm actually glad the two in my collection look so different. I know we'll likely never see this character again, either on screen or in the toy aisles, but the Bumblebee movie renewed my faith that the Transformers movie franchise can introduce really great cinematic females. It would actually be amazing if the Arcee design from that oh-so-brief Cybertron scene would get an action figure, but I have high hopes for her in the sequel. Let's check out jet-mode Shatter below!

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Cyborg 009 - FRANCOISE ARNOUL (Cyborg 003)!

Cyborg 009 - Zero Zero Number Box Three - Cyborg 003 - Bandai 2002

Shotaro Ishinomori is a prominent creator in Japanese culture and across the world. He is probably best known for creating the Super Sentai (aka Power Rangers) genre. But he is equally notable for various manga and anime properties, my favorite of which is Cyborg 009. Beginning as a manga series that ran from 1967-1981, it has spawned 7 animated movies, and 3 separate animated series. The story focuses on Joe Shimamura (aka Cyborg 009) who wakes up to find himself cybernetically enhanced and with only intermittent memories of his past. He meets all the other previous Cyborgs (numbers 001 through 008) and they all escape the facility that kidnapped and experimented on them. Each Cyborg has one unique ability, like flight, shapeshifting, telepathy, etc. The premise reminds me of other more modern properties that I've loved like Next Men and Gen13. Something I especially appreciate about Cyborg 009 is their matching uniforms that barely changed throughout their 56-year run.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Talbot Toys - NABISCO DOLLS!

Nabisco Dolls Vinyl Collectibles - Oreo, Fig Newtons, Chips Ahoy - Talbot Toys 1983

Many years ago my collecting hobby went off on a tangent and I got really interested in PVC figurines and vinyl advertising collectibles. It was a frustrating side-hobby because products like these were rarely meant to last a lifetime, production quality was often haphazard, yet conversely there is a really competitive collecting market. I still have a ton of Smurfs, California Raisins, and Campbells Kids, but my desire has dwindled. However, this current quarantine has inspired me to open some long-neglected boxes in my basement and led me to re-discovering these amazing Nabisco Doll gems. In many ways, these are way outside my typical interests (they're cutesy and doll-like), but on the other hand hand I love food mascots, retro stylings, and odd designs (the decision to put cookies on their heads is so bizarre to me). They have have minimal articulation (shoulders and neck) and their slightly larger than similar products of the time, but overall I'm kind of obsessed with them. Let's check out the Nabisco Girls below!

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Mythic Legions - ARTEMYSS SILVERCHORD!

Mythic Legions: Advent of Decay - Artemyss Silverchord - Four Horsemen 2018

I struggle with a lot of fantasy properties because the aspects I especially like (unicorns, mermaids, fairies, etc) are so often spun off into a separate genre - a genre of sparkles and pastels and rainbows and hearts. Not that I dislike any of that stuff, but it effectively segregates these "softer" elements from the warriors and swords and dragons. And I hate that. (For the Schleich nerds out there, I just want my Bayala and Eldrador in one world with a unified aesthetic). That desire is one of the reasons I fell in love with the Mythic Legions: Advent of Decay line. There were no females in previous Mythic Legions lines, but this wave gave us eighteen glorious ladies! And while most of the characters so far don't fall into the unicorns and mermaids category yet, this Artemyss Silverchord figure reads as a powerful fairy warrior Queen and is easily one of the most dynamic figures in the series. It gives me hope for some kickass unicorns and mermaids down the line. Let's check out Artemyss below!

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Dark Knight Rises Mini-Busts - CATWOMAN!

DC Comics Batman Universe Bust Collection #32 Catwoman - Eaglemoss 2019

I figure with The Batman movie currently filming and ZoĆ« Kravitz soon to take on the role of Selina Kyle in 2021, the Anne Hathaway Catwoman from Dark Knight Rises will soon be a thing of the past (at least as far as merchandising goes). I still fondly remember my surprise at seeing Hathaway's amazing performance. I'll be the first to admit that my expectations weren't very high. At the time, I had only really been exposed to her acting in more lighthearted fare (despite her having several super impressive roles under her belt already that I just hadn't seen yet). But her interpretation was fun, entertaining, and sexy. I only wish we could have seen more of her. These Batman Universe Busts from Eaglemoss have been pretty amazing. While they haven't all been winners (ahem.. Ivy), the majority have been awesome (Batwoman, Batgirl, Bluebird, and Catwoman especially). I have a feeling the line ended with Issue #35 which is a shame because I was really enjoying them. Let's check out DKR Catwoman below!