Monday, June 29, 2020

Power Rangers - RANGER SLAYER!

Power Rangers Lightning Collection - MMPR Ranger Slayer - Hasbro 2020

This may be an unpopular opinion, but I think one of the modern appeals of the Power Rangers franchise is the inherent cheesiness of it. The color-coded heroes with matching design themes and transformations sequences are cool. But I think we all have to admit that it's in an nostalgic/ironic way. That's why I have always found the Ranger Slayer so fascinating. She looks legitimately cool, yet instantly recognizable as part of the (cheesy) MMPR world. I first noticed her at my local comic shop on the cover of Go Go Power Rangers #8, a little two years ago. She was standing there with her tattered cape on a stark white background, looking imposing and intriguing. I never actually picked up any of the comics, but I suddenly found myself flipping through issues in the years since looking for her. I learned that she was Kimberly, who was brainwashed by Lord Drakkon (aka evil Tommy) to become the evil Ranger Slayer. She eventually broke the spell but thankfully kept the costume. Let's check out Ranger slayer below!

Saturday, June 27, 2020


Masters of the Universe - ReAction Figures - Evil-Lyn &  Sorceress - Super7 2018

I feel like I might say this about a lot of 80s ladies, but I honestly think the Sorceress is one of the most iconic characters from my childhood. Whenever there is a wise, all-knowing, mystical character I am intrigued. But add the fact that she is female with with a mysterious past and a bird motif that lives alone in a scary castle and I dive straight into full-blown obsession territory. The Sorceress was the first female introduced in Super7's Masters of the Universe line, and in many ways she's the most disappointing. In her original release, the face seemed constantly misprinted giving her a cross-eyed and unbalanced face. Her cloak is also made from a very awkward material. It's seems both stiff and fragile, so the way it looks in the package is pretty much what it will look like on your shelf. The later versions had much better faces, but the cape remained ungainly. Evil-Lyn on the other hand is a perfect retro interpretation, which makes it shocking that there was no variations released. Let's check them out below!

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Spin Master - BATWOMAN!

DC Comics: The Caped Crusader (Creature Chaos) - Batwoman - Spin Master 2020

It's been weird not having a smaller-scale DC line in the stores for so long. My first exposure to super hero action figures was the Super Powers line in the 80s. Which then morphed into the DC Comics Superheroes line, quickly to be followed by Batman Movie figures. Then before long, the BTAS and Timm-verse lines settled in for a good two decades dominating the toy aisles. Before this recent 4" Spin Master line, the most similar line was the DC Infinite Heroes which ended in 2010. That line was short-lived but managed to put out some great characters (including Batwoman who was a relatively new hero at the time) but the proportions were always a little funny and the poses were stiff. This the the first 4" Spin Master figure I've picked up and I really like her. For a toy aimed at kids, she has a lot of detail and a terrific comic-accurate design. Her proportions and articulation are also greatly improved over previous DC 4" figures. I'm very excited to Wonder Woman and the upcoming Catwoman.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

G.I.Joe Classified - SCARLETT!

G.I.Joe Classified Series (6" Line) #05 - Shana "Scarlett" O'Hara - Hasbro 2020

G.I.Joe plays a very integral role in my collecting hobby. A few years post-college I was overdosing on nostalgia big-time. DVDs were a relatively new advancement back then and I blew one of my first adult paychecks on a $250 Aiwa and immediately started buying old cartoons. My love of G.I. Joe was rekindled like we had never been apart. And it wasn't long until I was inspired to eBay some revenge on my gradeschool bully, Jeff. Well, I guess he wasn't so much a bully as he was a spoiled rich kid who had the Wolverine and Cover Girl and made me jealous. So, yeah, almost 20 years later I finally got myself a Cover Girl (suck on that, Jeff) and I was off to the races. Years later I have thousands of action figures and some serious compulsion problems. Yet somehow over time I had grown completely disenchanted with the G.I. Joe property and all their exclusive products. So this rebooted 6" series is is very exciting for me. Like starting fresh after a long breakup.. and my excitement is palpable. Let's check out Scarlett below!

Sunday, June 21, 2020

The Authority - THE ENGINEER!

WildStorm's The Authority - Series 01 - The Engineer - DC Direct 2002

In my young adult years I only had one friend who was into comics. It was fun to geek out with him, but it was also difficult because we had completely different tastes with our reading habits. He was mostly into shock value and extreme scenarios, while I'm always more into the relatable heroes and sympathetic villains. The Authority is one of the many books he tried to get me to read, but it was just not my thing. There were even a few issues drawn by my favorite artist, Arthur Adams, but nothing could convince me to enjoy this series. But then years later I came across this Engineer figure clearanced at Five Below and I found myself really drawn to her. She has an unexpected retro vibe and James Shoop's sculpting always reminds me of his Legion of Super-Heroes line (which are some of my favorite figures of all time). So despite my aversion to the comics, this gorgeous figure is a welcome addition to my collection (even if I pretend she's one of the many unnamed LOSH members). Let's check out Engineer below!

Friday, June 19, 2020

Ghostbusters - GOZER!

Ghostbusters: Plasma Series Wave 1 - Gozer the Gozerian - Hasbro 2020

Ghostbusters is the third movie I ever saw in the movie theater way back in 1984 (after E.T. and Return of the Jedi). The nearest theater was in a mall an hour away so we went very infrequently... but the rarity of the occasion made the event memorable every time. By the time I saw Ghostbusters, I was already a big fan of villainous women. Baroness from G.I.Joe. Evil-Lyn from Masters of the Universe, and Catwoman from the Batman '66 show in syndication were all idols to me. But Gozer was the first villainess I ever saw that was actually scary (without any buffoonery to temper the evil). I still get chills when I see her on screen. This Plasma Series Gozer is the third true action figure (from different companies) in the past 16 years and it's probably the best of the lot. She has fantastic articulation and a great sculpt overall. I'm not super thrilled with her face paint, but that might just be my copy. Overall she's a great figure. Let's check out Gozer the Gozerian below!

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Ghostbusters - DANA!

Ghostbusters: Plasma Series Wave 1 - Dana Barrett - Hasbro 2020

Poor Sigourney Weaver. She's a beautiful woman with striking features. But all the advanced toy technology in the world can't seem to get her likeness right. The various Ripley figures from NECA come pretty close, but it's nowhere near the realistic quality that they seem to achieve with other actors. It's such a shame too, because Sigourney has one of the most toy-worthy filmographies out there (Aliens, Avatar, Galaxy Quest, and of course Ghostbusters). In the past eight years we've seen the first three Dana Barrett action figures from three different companies. And while this newest Plasma Series figure from Hasbro is arguably the best, it still isn't quite right.  I'm half tempted to see if it's just a matter of touching up the face paint, because the actual sculpt seems pretty accurate. (Although sculpting wild hair like hers often results in a poodle effect). I don't mean to be a total naysayer, because this figure is a great improvement over previous attempts and I love having her in my collection. Let's check out Dana below!

Monday, June 15, 2020

X-Men Ninja Force - PSYLOCKE!

Marvel Comics Uncanny X-Men: Ninja Force - Ninja Psylocke - ToyBiz 1996

I've always had a fascination with Betsy Braddock. I was a huge New Mutants fan as a kid and when she made her debut as Psylocke in Annual #2, her purple hair and superhero lineage had me hooked. However, by the time I actually read this issue she was already sporting several new costumes in the pages of X-Men, so I had multiple versions of Betsy to fall in love with. Her monochromatic purple outfits and her butterfly-pattern telekinetic powers were everything to me. So I was the one nerd on the planet who hated her sexy ninja transformation. I just thought it was a cliche makeover of a previously weird and cool character. The one brief phase where I really started to dig this sleek look, though, was during the Crimson Dawn storyline when she was brought back from near death after an insane battle with Sabretooth with new teleportation powers, a cold demeanor, and a crimson dagger tattoo on her face. I think it adds the smallest detail that somehow makes the overall costume more interesting.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Beast Morphers - YELLOW RANGER!

Power Rangers Beast Morphers 9.5" Basic Series - Yellow Ranger - Hasbro 2019

As much as I love Limited Articulation Figures, I must admit I had almost zero interest in this Beast Morpher Yellow figure.  But then I got the Captain Marvel figure and had a ridiculous panic that I didn't have any other 9.5" figures to display her with. I swear the only aspect of life where I have a Fear-of-Missing-Out complex is with toy collecting. Because I've found that once you miss one of these bargain-line figures and they disappear from the shelves, they can be some of the hardest collectibles to find in the secondary market. The reason I didn't originally like her is purely because of the unnatural pose. Her semi-squat leg stance and her awkward cocked-arm pose were just off-putting. I'm also not the hugest fan of the Power Rangers Beast Morphers theme, but the fact that her helmet has a bunny face on it with slicked back ears just gets me every time. I just hope future figures like this have a more standard pose like the Marvel ones or all the various 6" bargain lines. Let's check her out below!

Thursday, June 11, 2020

MOTU Action Vinyls - SORCERESS!

Masters of the Universe - Blind Box Vinyls - Sorceress - Loyal Subjects 2019

The Loyal Subjects made a really smart move by making their figures only semi-blindboxed. At an average MSRP over ten dollars, having a true blind assortment was problematic. I had personally decided to stop buying these figures altogether before they changed their marketing. Now only a select few (rare) characters are in blind boxes, while most of the characters (with common ratios) have revealed window boxes.  Despite how much I would have wanted Sorceress to complete my MOTU ladies trifecta, the idea of dropping $10-12 bucks for each attempt at a 1:24 character just pissed me off. I wasted a lot of money trying to get Cheetara a couple years ago and I was just done. But then I walked into Target and saw Sorceress just sitting there in a non-blind box. I'm not one for grudges so I didn't even hesitate before getting back on board. Now they just need to make their chases a little less rare. And of course give us more retro characters. Jem and Silverhawks would be awesome. Let's check out Sorceress!

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Kingdom Come - NIGHTSTAR!

DC Comics Elseworlds Series 3 - Kingdom Come Nightstar - DC Direct 2007

One of my favorite things about 1996's epic Kingdom Come comic, beyond the groundbreaking realistic painted art by Alex Ross, was seeing all the cool background characters. You knew at a glance that these weren't random fillers. Rather, you could literally interpret their story from their design. Nightstar first appeared on the 11th page of the first volume on a splash page. She was immediately recognizable as a relative of Starfire. Her skin color, green eyes, purple outfit, and trailing hair were a dead giveaway. Then when you think of who Koriand'r would likely have a child with in the not-so-distant future of Kingdom Come, and quickly conclude that Nightwing is her true paramour. I honestly don't remember if she had a speaking role in the series, but she was definitely memorable. Mar'i Grayson had follow-up appearances in The Kingdom where her story was fleshed out, but I never would have pegged her for merchandising. The Alex Ross DC Direct lines were extensive, but Nightstar was still a welcome surprise.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Basic Series - CAPTAIN MARVEL!

Marvel Comics 9.5" Basic Series Assortment - Captain Marvel - Hasbro 2019

One of my favorite things to collect in recent years are limited articulation figures. Describing these can be difficult, because they aren't knockoffs, and they aren't "basic" figures like we see in Target to support a superhero movie. Instead, these are branded items (this one is from Hasbro) that often re-use sculpted details from the collector lines, but they have extremely limited articulation and a low price point (usually $3.99-$9.99 depending on scale). These are produced for discount markets like Family Dollar and Big Lots, but often show up in grocery stores and Wal-Mart checkout lines. Historically they have been a 6" scale, but recently there has been a shift to 9". What I love about collecting these is that they are a true challenge. They are rarely announced, they have sporadic distribution, they don't have a consistent name, and all this is quadrupled for the female characters. This Captain Marvel hit stores in the 2019 Holiday season, but I was unaware of her existence until a reader emailed me last month.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Star Wars - ZORII BLISS!

Star Wars 6" Black Series #103 - Zorii Bliss (Rise of Skywalker) - Hasbro 2020

Zorii Bliss was an unexpectedly fun character in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. When the Force Friday merch was first unveiled a few months before the movie, I immediately paid attention to the random new female (there was a 3.75" figure of her released in the Fall). I was amused that she looked so much like the Rocketeer and I assumed she would be some blink-and-you-miss-her bounty hunter. When I read that she was played by Keri Russell (and also that she would have purple hair!), I had an inkling that the character would be more substantial. Then when I finally saw her on screen she had such dynamic chemistry with Poe that I was instantly mesmerized. Their implied romantic history and their time as spice runners gave some delicious backstory to Poe. I only wish she has some more screen time (and that her rumored purple hair made an appearance). I'm really glad she got the Black Series treatment. She was a really great addition to the Star Wars universe. Let's check out Zorii Bliss below!

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Marvel Legends - BLACK WIDOW (Gray)!

Marvel Legends - Black Widow (90's Gray Suit) - Wal-Mart Exc - Hasbro 2020

One of the first times I appreciated Black Widow was when she appeared in the Jim Lee run of Uncanny X-Men in the early 90s. I was very picky about the hairdos on my heroines back then. And I had a strong (illogical) aversion to big, chunky red hair like Starfire, Red Sonja, and Black Widow were always sporting. I would regularly see her in Marvel Fanfare but just had no interest. But then when I saw her in X-Men, she suddenly had a modern haircut, and a costume that (although still pretty simple) was infinitely more exciting than a plain black catsuit. I also love that this costume incorporated a lot more use of the spider motif. With a name like Black Widow, I would have expected a lot more arachnid references than just a small red hourglass on her belt buckle. Although often covered by her jacket, this gray jumpsuit has a huge spider logo on the back that I always thought was kickass. This is the perfect fan figure to release with all the MCU versions. I was hoping for a blue first appearance figure, but this is a close second!

Monday, June 1, 2020

MMPR Lightning Collection - YELLOW RANGER!

Power Rangers Lightning Collection - MMPR Yellow Ranger - Hasbro 2020

This Powers Ranger Trini figure was a huge relief to me. I will admit I found last year's Pink Ranger to be a pretty major disappointment. She had wonky knee joints, a warped shoulder/bicep piece, a bizarre facial expression on her alternate head, and her torso sported a completely different shade of pink than the rest of her. And trust me, I've been scoping the shelves to see if I just happened to get a bad one... but these issues unfortunately seem consistent. So because of this, I was only halfheartedly hunting the recent Yellow Ranger, thinking all the females of the line would be riddled with problems. But I was very wrong. While this figure had its share of issues, they were all cosmetic (details below) and thankfully all the structural issues were not present. This figure is awesome, and suddenly I'm hyped for the future of the line. I immediately pre-ordered the Ranger Slayer and I'm cautiously optimistic about Rita Repulsa (that soft good robe is a hot mess!). Let's check out Trini below!