Thursday, December 31, 2020

Marvel Legends - ELEKTRA!

Marvel Legends - Twin Packs Series 01 - Elektra and Ronin - Hasbro 2008

With all the buzz about Elektra lately, I wanted to go back and review one of my favorite of her figures. (If you're unaware of what Elektra has been up to, go read about Daredevil #25 and let's all wish for a new figure of her soon!). Back around 2008-10, Marvel Legends released a series of twin packs exclusive to Toys R Us that gave us a lot of truly great female figures in quick succession. I think it was one of those situations where pairing them with a male character made them more marketable. This line included Maria Hill (with a Sharon Carter alt head), Black Widow (with a 90's alt head), Valkyrie, Invisible Woman, and Elektra (with bandana alt head). Most of these came with variant versions as well: Black widow and Maria Hill having different color bodysuits and Elektra having a Skrull variant. These figures marked a terrific improvement in Hasbro's female character design. Let's not forget that the dreadful White Queen was released just a year prior. Let's check out the 2008 Elektra below!

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Fortnite Legendary Series - GHOUL TROOPER!

Fortnite - Legendary Series (6" Action Figures) - Ghoul Trooper - Jazwares 2020

I was truly planning on skipping this figure all-together. Decomposing bodies, even when done in a cartoony way, just turn me off. So as excited as I was to see the second female character in the Jazwares Legendary series, she was a pass for me. But then right before Christmas I found myself in Kohl's and saw her in person. I still had the same feelings about the zombie aesthetic, but I was really intrigued by her backpack accessory. It is a zombified Cuddle Team Leader head. Of course, I thought it was an alternate head not a backpack. Being the weekend before Christmas, the checkout lines reached literally to the back of the store (to the toy section in fact). I left without a purchase and googled to find a pic of this "alternate head." I quickly learned my mistake, but then spent a few days thinking about how simple it would be to kitbash that backpack into a head. I soon drove back to Kohl's to get her and give my backpack experiment a shot (pics at the bottom). Let's check out Ghoul Trooper below!

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Mission Fleet - CARA DUNE!

Star Wars: Mission Fleet - Defend the Child 5-Pack - Cara Dune - Hasbro 2020

When The Mandalorian Disney+ show was first announced several years ago, I never would have predicted that it would become one of my favorite chapters of the Star Wars saga. Sure, Din Djarin and Grogu are spectacular and could support the entire series. But the icing on the cake is all the fantastic female characters. There are legacy characters like Ahsoka Tano, the requisite Mandalorians like the Armorer and Bo Katan, and awesome standalone characters like Fennec, Xi'an, and the amazing Cara Dune. Cara is played by MMA fighter Gina Carano who has amazing presence on screen. Cara is someone you just don't mess around with and she's quickly become one of my favorites. Earlier this month, I was really excited to learn that (a) the Mission Fleet line was indeed going to continue. And (b) that there was a great multipack featuring Cara Dune already available on Amazon. FYI I read that there is a set with Bo Katan also coming this year. I can't wait. Let's check out Cara Dune below!

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Roblox - VIE BATTLE WITCH!

Roblox Imagination Collection - Wave 02 - Vie Battle Witch - Jazwares 2020

Merry Christmas! I feel like I am often left out of the fun holiday toy trends. This year my friends are going bonkers for the Holiday Storm Troopers and constantly sending me pics of their cool displays. But I find female holiday figures can be pretty rare (and often cheesy). So imagine my surprise to find one of the weirdest and coolest seasonal action figures I've ever seen right before the holiday. Vie Battle Witch is in the newest wave from the Roblox Imagination Collection (realistically-proportioned figures apparently designed by players using the library of virtual add-ons in the Roblox system). Vie wears a shocking giant deer skull headdress with festive holiday details. I love skulls. I don't find them creepy or dark, but rather like interesting curiosities. But I must admit I love how the antlers and holiday details give a krampus-like vibe. The overall look is intended to be creepy, and I can totally see that, but I just think she's adorable. Plus the title of "Battle Witch" is just damn cool. Let's check out Vie below!

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Roblox - NITR0-Z!

Roblox Imagination Collection - 4" Figure Wave 02 - Nitr0-Z - Jazwares 2020

I've always been really drawn to anime-esque character design. Although the actual anime and manga I consume is very drawn in a simple and retro style (Takahashi, Tezuka, Miyazaki, etc), that doesn't mean the more modern bright colored hair, animal ears, and goggles aesthetic doesn't appeal to me. In the past I've been obsessed with the idea of toylines like Palisades Space Channel 5 or Bandai's EXH, but the actual execution of the toys kept me from ever making any purchases. This new Nitr0-Z figure is the first time I've ever actually purchased a character from this design genre... and I think she's awesome! The bright colors, dynamic sculpt, great articulation, and cool translucent accessories make for a figure that's hard to resist. Roblox is a game system that frankly confuses me. I gather that players can create characters and games and challenge others to play. The characters historically seemed to be blocky lego-like creations, but lately (luckily) they have much more realistic human bodies. 

Sunday, December 20, 2020

The Mandalorian - THE ARMORER!

Star Wars Black Series - The Mandalorian 04: The Armorer - Hasbro 2020

One of my favorite things about the various modern Star Wars media is the introduction of female characters in the style of different factions from the original Star Wars trilogy. We've now seen numerous female Jedi, female Imperial Officers, and female Stormer Troopers. But my favorite additions have been the great female Mandalorians. Starting with Isabet Reau and Rav Bralor, and soon the very popular Sabine Wren. But now with the groundbreaking Mandalorian show on Disney+, we are being exposed to so many more. The upcoming Bo Katan figure looks fantastic (and I hope she is followed by a Koska Reeves). But I think a lot of us were surprised to see a figure of the Armorer. She had a couple quick appearances in Season 1 and I remember being thrilled to hear a female voice emanating from the armor, but I never once expected to get an action figure of her. Her Rocketeer-esque color palette and her non-combat armor is a very interesting addition to the lore. Let's check her out below!

Saturday, December 19, 2020

War for Cybertron - ELITA-1!

Transformers: War for Cybertron (Netflix Walmart Exc) - Elita-1 - Hasbro 2020

When I first saw the solicit photos for this Elita-1 figure, I must admit I was unimpressed. I had been following the rumors of a deluxe-scale Elita for a while and considering the awesome G1 designs of  Moonracer, Firestar, and others in the past few years, I was excited to get a super classic Elita. But the eventual pictures were very far from that version I predicted. It was clearly an Arcee redeco, her color was more red than pink, and her head shape looked more like Optimus Prime than Elita-1. But then this Summer I watched the Netflix War for Cybertron series and instantly fell in love with this new version of my Elita-1. She had so much presence and authority that I couldn't take my eyes off her. Suddenly this figure I was sneering at a few months prior was my most desired figure of the year. Then came the long wait. She was originally supposed to be released in September as a Walmart Exclusive. But she didn't hit shelves until December. But she was well worth the wait. Let's check out Elita-1 below!

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Marvel Legends Toy Biz - PHOENIX!

Marvel Legends Series VI - Jean Grey Phoenix (Standard Ver) - Toy Biz 2004

When Marvel Legends began back in 2002, I was instantly smitten. At the time I was a year into my first professional job and making decent money, yet still paying a mere $350/mo rent. That translated into a lot of expendable income. And as soon as I bought a series of young adult necessities (Ikea furniture, my first DVD player, etc), I was quick to revisit all my old hobbies. I found a comic shop near my office and quickly became a regular. My favorite toys at the time were the DC Direct LOSH, which I thought were amazingly advanced. But soon came the fateful day when I stopped in and found the first wave of Marvel Legends. I bought Captain America and Iron Man and was so excited to see the line eventually include female characters. But I think we all know how awkward most of those early attempts were. I didn't buy any for years, and even then it was under duress. But then last week I saw this Phoenix in a toy shop and suddenly thought she looked pretty great. Let's check her out!

Monday, December 14, 2020

Uncanny X-Force PSYLOCKE!

Marvel Legends (Amazon 3-Pack) - Fantomex Nimrod Psylocke - Hasbro 2020

This Psylocke was a very unexpected purchase. When the Amazon exclusive three-pack was first announced last Summer, it was an easy pass for me. I don't know who Fantomex is, I'm not a huge fan of Nimrod, and I always felt the X-Force versions of Psylocke was always too similar, yet less interesting, than her classic ninja look. But then the set showed up as a Cyber Monday deal and I suddenly became covetous. Once I had the set in hand, I really appreciated it though. I imagine the Nimrod figure looking great with the upcoming Omega Sentinel, and the Psylocke figure looks sleek and intimidating in all black with bright pink accessories. Her outfit is new to me. The previous X-Force outfits were just a black versions of the 90's Jim Lee look, but this one has unique cutouts and a more sporty feel. Turns out it's specifically from the Uncanny iteration of the book. If I was going to get any black-suited version of her, I'm glad it was this one. Let's check out Psylocke below!

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Transformers Earthrise - LIFELINE!

Transformers: Galactic Odyssey - Paradron - Ratchet & Lifeline - Hasbro 2020

The first Transformers toy I bought as an adult was the small Heroes of Cybertron PVC of Arcee. I was just starting to get back into toys and comics after a long hiatus for college and this little pink goddess just spoke to me. But then several months after I bought this figure, the same stores starting carrying a green version of Arcee called Paradron Medic. And around the same time I noticed the Energon Arcee figure was also released in a green variant. I was curious enough to do some research and learned of the G1 episode, Fight or Flee (Season 3, Ep 15, Oct 1986). In this episode, Cyclonis and Scourge get stranded on the peaceful planet of Paradron, which they discover is Energon-rich and proceed to overthrow the citizens. The Paradron population is made up of simple male robots (that remind be of ROM: Spaceknight) and a bunch of green Arcees. I just re-watched the episode and the Paradron Medics get maybe three seconds of airtime. But it's a fun setup for a repaint figure. Let's check out Lifeline below!

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Elseworld's Finest - BATGIRL!

Elseworlds: Series 03 - Elseworld's Finest - Batgirl - DC Direct 2007

Sometimes the very existence of an action figure adds to its allure. In 1998, there was a one-shot comic titled Elseworld's Finest: Supergirl & Batgirl. Elseworlds was a DC imprint that allowed for inventive non-canonical stories starring the mainstream characters. The comic is an homage to World's Finest that ran for 45 years featuring a Superman/Batman team-up. I read this Elseworld's gender-swap when it first came out, but I didn't love the story. I remember Batgirl being a tyrannical force in Gotham, isolating the city from the world. I remember the Joker getting juiced on Bane's venom. And I remember a surprise cameo from Black Orchid. Although interesting, it not exactly memorable. But the character designs were something else entirely. Both Batgirl and Supergirl had amazing costumes that instantly seemed both classic and unique. But despite their visual appeal, I don't think anyone could have predicted getting figures of them nine years after their sole appearance. Let's check out Batgirl below!

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Showcase Presents - BATGIRL!

Showcase Presents - Series 1 - First Appearance Batgirl - DC Direct 2008

I think it's pretty clear that the days of awesome, classic DC figures are in the past. Sure, there has been a decent looking Batman, Superman, and Nightwing in the McFarlane Multiverse line, but the majority of products seem to be gritty modern interpretations of characters that seem more aligned with video games than comics. This unfortunate trend has caused me to look back to yesteryear... specifically to a year which stands out as one that seemed personally catered to me, 2008. DC Universe Classics was launched, Marvel Legends has seriously improved their female buck (Shanna and Savage She-Hulk), and DC Direct was in its heyday. The DC Direct releases were the most impressive to me, there was a great mix of classic and modern figures with an attention to detail that I've only ever seen with this company. The standout to me was Showcase Batgirl figure. She was perfectly sculpted by Karen Palinko in the classic style of Carmine Infantino. It's one of my absolute favorites. Let's check her out below!

Saturday, December 5, 2020

I Am Elemental - ELEMENTS OF WISDOM!

I Am Elemental - Elements of Power Series 2: Wisdom - Rebel Elements 2016

Sometimes I buy a lot of action figures all at once and then get overwhelmed at the thought of opening, photographing, and displaying them. That is literally the only drawback to maintaining this website; I no longer get to experience the frantic tearing open of my toys as soon as I get them home. But on the plus side, the photography process has created a new unboxing ritual that is very enjoyable in its own way... when I eventually get around to it. That brings us to one of my favorite toy lines in recent memory: I Am Elemental. I've had this second series unopened on a storage shelf for 4 years, which is a shame because this is an amazing line that I'm excited to display. The colorfully costumed heroines, the crayola spectrum of skintones, and the trademark domino masks create a unique product that is unlike anything else out there. And this Wisdom series stepped it up a notch with even brighter colors and wilder accessories. I can't believe I sat on them so long. Let's check them out below!

Friday, December 4, 2020

Marvel Legends Vintage - BLACK CAT!

Marvel Legends: Vintage (Toy Biz) - Spider-Man's Black Cat - Hasbro 2020

I know a lot of collectors groan at the thought of a repainted or slightly redecoed figure. But, honestly, is there anything more retro than a recycled sculpt in a Marvel line? That's actually one of the things I love most about the 1990s Toy Biz line. Noticing how the molds were reused in creative ways to give us more characters was like a toy version of a memory card game.  Sue Storm, Jessica Drew, Julia Carpenter, and X-Factor Jean Grey were the exact same figure. Same with Rogue and Polaris, Psylocke and Elektra, and Medusa, Ms. Marvel, and Firestar. There are tons more. Even the original Black Cat was reused for Tigra. So when I see this Moonstone buck reused for yet another character, it actually makes me quite happy. For starters, it's a great body and a great headsculpt. It's already seven years old but it still holds up. A simple modification, like the addition of fur-lined boots and gloves, gives us a great new version of a classic character.  Let's check out Black Cat below!

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Marvel Legends Vintage - ROGUE!

Marvel Legends: Vintage (Toy Biz) - 1990's Rogue (Version 2) - Hasbro 2020

Hasbro is pretty smart about their toy releases. When the first modern Marvel Legends Rogue figure came out back in 2016, it was pretty much an instant classic. She had a great sculpt, she was produced on one of the most popular female bucks of all time, and she featured the fan-favorite 1990's Jim Lee era costume. Of course, that's also a perfect recipe for extortion on the secondary market and her prices quickly shot up in the triple digits. An eventual second figure was almost a sure thing. But a lot of collectors had paid a lot to get this figure, so a straight-up re-release would agitate their base. So the perfect solution was this release: brighter colors, a new hairsculpt, a new character-specific accessory, and amazing retro packaging. Her Target-exclusive status was the only slight hitch in the plan, but she was readily available on the release weekend both in stores and online. So with a little planning I'm sure everyone was able to secure one. She's a beauty. Let's check out Rogue below!