Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Nintendo - CAT PEACH!

Super Mario 3-D World + Bowser's Fury - Princess Peach Cat - Jakks Pacific 2021

It's been a long time since Jakks Pacific has given us a female character in their World of Nintendo line. My last purchase was a Samus figure back in 2016, and since then it's been crickets with an occasional resissue. While my ideal candidates for the action figure treatment in this line would be Daisy and Rosalina, this Princess Peach in her Cat outfit is a really fun surprise. Cat Peach first appeared in Mario Kart 8 in 2014 with no real backstory or explanation, just a fluffy pink cat costume and matching kart. This figure is is specifically from Nintendo Switch Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury game from 2021. This game is a classic Mario adventure (as opposed to the Kart series) and all the playable characters can don cat costumes and gain cat abilities when they get the Super Bell power-up. Peach Cat can climb walls and perform swipe and dive attacks. She's also referred to as Cat Peach, Gato Peach, and Peach Gato (the packaging is conveniently unlabeled). Let's check out Peach below!

Monday, September 20, 2021

Spidey and His Amazing Friends - DOC OCK!

Disney Jr - Spidey and His Amazing Friends - Doc Ock - Hasbro 2021

In recent years I've become obsessed with female characters in the Spider-Man Universe. It started with Ultimate Spider-Woman back in 2006 and has branched out since then. It's amazing that I thought Jessica Drew was boring for her first 30 years, but now I'm a superfan. Most of these female characters are spider-based heroes, but equally intriguing are the gender-swapped members of the Sinister Six. Besides a few Heroclix and Mini-mates, this Doc Ock from the preschool Spidey and His Amazing Friends line is the first true action figure of any of them. I think a Francine Frye Electro or Tiana Toomes Starling would make amazing Marvel Legends figures, and with the frequency of Spider-Man waves released I think there is actually a decent potential for them. I don't know if this animated version of Doc Ock has a civilian name in the cartoon or not, but she seems like a unique incarnation of the character to me. I'm really excited to see what this line gives us next. Let's check out Doc Ock below!

Friday, September 17, 2021

Gargoyles - DEMONA!

Disney's Gargoyles 8" Vinyl Figure Series - Demona - Applause Inc 1995

The upcoming NECA Demona figure has inspired me to finally review this old vinyl figure from the mid-nineties. This line was unknown to me at the time, but I discovered them on eBay in the early 2000s and I heard rumor that they were originally exclusive to the Disney Store (but can't exactly prove that). They are impressively large and well-sculpted. I only own Demona and she is not articulated, so I assume the rest similarly stationary. They have a quality of that reminds me of supersized PVC figures like the little ones that were so prevalent throughout the 80s and 90s. Demona has odd coloring that is more reminiscent of her daughter Angela. Angela has black hair and very dark wing-membranes. Demona has red hair and light purple membranes. But the sculpt with the crown, belt buckle, armband, and single shoulder strap are uniquely Demona.  It's a rare enough of a figure that I'm not comfortable painting her hair, however tempting that may be. Let's check out the 1995 Applause Demona below!

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Spidey and His Amazing Friends - MS. MARVEL!

Disney Jr - Spidey and His Amazing Friends - Ms. Marvel - Hasbro 2021

When I think of Marvel characters that would be well-suited to a preschool audience, Kamala Khan as Ms. Marvel is a top contender. She's fun, colorful, diverse, and her powers are very cartoony. I'll admit her powers aren't my favorite, but I still really enjoy reading her comics and I'm excited about her Disney+ show later this year. This Spidey and His Amazing Friends toyline came out of nowhere, but I'm really enjoying it. The costumes are comic accurate, the toy proportions are unique and fun, and the overall property is just very eye-catching. So far, this Kamala Khan Ms. Marvel figure only comes in the Team Spidey and Friends Figure Collection 7-Pack (which I believe may be exclusive to Target). She tends to have some paint issues around her eye mask, so keep that in mind when selecting one in store. I expect we might see a single-release of her in the future with an extended limb accessory, but there's no word on any product beyond this initial burst of figures. Let's check out Kamala below!

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Nano Metalfigs - AGONY!

Marvel Comics Nano Metalfigs - Series 6 - 20-Pack - Agony - Jada Toys 2021

It's not often that I would create a whole post to highlight a tiny 1.5" metal figurine, but it's pretty rare in this age of collectors that a character gets merchandised for the first time ever after 28 years. Agony is a symbiote in Spider-Man comics that first appeared in 1993; the same issue that debuted Scream, Riot, Phage, and Lasher (the entire Life Foundation), Venom: Lethal Protector #4. Agony was always my favorite with her multi-hued purple and her acid-spitting powers. But for some reason, she never had a toy made. She was notoriously absent from the 1996 Planet of the Symbiotes ToyBiz line when the rest of her team debuted. And she's never received any merchandising since. Not a single HeroClix, Mini-mate, or Funko Pop. Until I recently discovered her in this huge multipack. Yes, I'm aware she is simply a repaint of the Scream we got last year, but I'm still ridiculously happy to own this. And hopefully it will inspire that long overdue Legends figure. Let's check out Agony below!

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Spidey and His Amazing Friends - GHOST-SPIDER!

Disney Jr - Spidey and His Amazing Friends - Ghost-Spider - Hasbro 2021

It's been a long time since there's been an excited preschool Marvel line. The Super Hero Squad line was amazing, but it petered out back in 2013. The follow-up Super Hero Adventures line finally had articulation, but the character assortment was dismal. It was year after year of the same characters with slightly modified decos - and the female inclusion was predictably lacking: only two different Black Widows and a Spider-Gwen. But then this surprise Spidey and His Amazing Friends line appeared in stores out of nowhere and there were three ladies right off the bat. The scale is a lot larger than previous efforts and the designs have a very "animated" quality to them, but they are a ton of fun. The show premiered on Disney+ in early August and is already renewed for a second season. They pretty much made toys for all the costumed characters (except Rhino) already, so I'm curious to see new heroes and villains next year. I would die if they would include Firestar. Let's check out Ghost-Spider below!

Friday, September 10, 2021

Robotech - LISA HAYES!

Robotech - Action Figures Series 2 (Macross Saga) - Lisa Hayes - Toynami 2021

Being a Robotech fan and collector can be really problematic for me. I loved all three chapters of the Robotech Saga so much. I love that the story spans generations, three different alien invasions, and introduces us to tons of unique and interesting characters. Those characters are what make it for me. Without them it would just be like Top Gun in space. And I think a lot of fans would agree. But when it comes to the toys, it seems like 90% of the focus is on the transforming planes and motorcycles. In the show, these vehicles create a great dimension to the battle scenes and are very cool in their own right, but when that becomes the focus of all the toys, especially in lieu of the human characters, I get bored quick. There as been a pretty steady flow of Robotech merchandise over the years, but this current Toynami series is the first to focus on humans in more than 30 years. It's long overdue. Lisa Hayes is the Commander of the SDF-1 Battle Fortress and a very deserving of more toys. Let's check her out below!

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Robotech - CLAUDIA GRANT!

Robotech - Action Figures Series 2 (Macross) - Claudia Grant - Toynami 2021

When the first Toynami Robotech 3.75" action figures came in 2018, I immediately developed a huge wishlist in my head. I'll admit the top of my list was characters from Robotech: The New Generation, but with the hunch that they would stick to The Macross Saga, my number one wish was Claudia Grant. Claudia was an impressive character. She was third in command of the SDF-1 Battle Fortress under Captain Gloval and Commander Lisa Hayes. Lisa was rather stiff and by-the-book, but Claudia was more relaxed and confident and all the other women on the bridge looked up to her. She wasn't all business though. Claudia had an intriguing relationship with bad-boy pilot Roy Fokker. It was also very rare to see a woman of color in action-based animation back in 1985. I can only think of two others: Astrea from Space Sentinels and Lt. Uhura from Star Trek the Animated Series (FYI Netossa come in 1986). Overall she was a standout in a huge cast and it's amazing she finally got a toy. Let's check out Claudia below!

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Macross - CLAUDIA LA SALLE!

SDF Macross - Character Figure Collection - Claudia La Salle - Banpresto 1998

One great thing about the trend of American media in the 80s and 90s co-opting Japanese properties for an English-speaking audience is the chance for us to double-dip into two collectible markets. Transformers, Voltron, Robotech, and Power Rangers all have distinct American and Japanese toylines, and avid collectors like me eat it up. The first season of Robotech (US) was a re-edited Super Dimension Fortress Macross. The US action figures of the human and Zentradi characters weren't the best, even by 80s standards. And until recently most characters have gone completely without representation in plastic. But the Japanese market continually revisited the property with interesting product. These 1998 mini PVC statues from Banpresto gave us what I believe is the first Claudia figure ever. Note that her name was changed to Grant for the US market. I have had this in storage forever, but the recent Toynami figure inspired me to finally open her for review. Let's check out Claudia below!

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

HealeyMade - THE ASSASSIN!

Designer Action Figures: The Assassin (R-Complex) - HealeyMade 2021

Anthropomorphic action figures are pretty much my favorite thing in this toy-collecting hobby. I tend to group them into four main categories: Felinoids are the most popular, Reptilian is second, followed by Insectile and Avian. But in general it's pretty rare to get female figures of any of them. That's why I was super stoked to get this Assassin figure from HealeyMade. I've been paying attention to the designer toy market for years. The genre is 99% male characters, but I keep tuning in to see if the next drop will be of the female persuasion. The few times over the years where the stars aligned, I was an hour or two late and missed the brief on-sale window. But a few weeks ago I was in the right place in the right time and snagged this amazing Assassin in all her green reptilian glory. For a first designer toy purchase I think I got really spoiled. The sculpt, paint, and plastic quality are all top notch. I'm excited to see the obligatory color variants in the future. Let's check out the Assassin (R-Complex) below!

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Ghostbusters Afterlife - LUCKY!

Ghostbusters: Afterlife - Plasma Series Wave 1 - Lucky - Hasbro 2021

I'm very excited for Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Something about the tone of the trailers thrills me. I had high hopes for the 2016 Ghostbusters movie, but I didn't enjoy it at all (in my opinion they got the comic ratio wrong... four comedians is just too much. They needed two comedians and two stiffs to get that right dynamic. Even when not telling jokes outright, something about comic actors always seems farcical and changes the tone. End rant). Afterlife, however, seems very different. The rural setting alone is major shift. Not to mention the youthful characters. With the movie still months away from release it's hard to speculate too much, but my anticipation is high. I think this Lucky figure is a bit of a spoiler in itself. Before this toy, I had no idea she would be wearing a uniform. All promotional materials and trailers (lightly) imply that she's a love interest to Trevor and is only ever seen in street clothes and a fast food uniform. But even if this is a spoiler, it just makes me more excited for the movie.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

12" Power Rangers - YELLOW RANGER!

Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers - 12" Series - Yellow Ranger - Hasbro 2021

Hasbro is pretty tricky with their non-collector toylines sometimes. When it comes to stuff like Marvel Legends and Power Rangers Lightning Collection, we usually know at least six months in advance exactly what we will find on the shelves. But every other line toyline that isn't geared toward us collectors  gets almost no promotion. I personally think this is thrilling. I love toy hunting, and I love being surprised. 12-inch "Titan-style" figure tend to be especially surprising. I remember discovering Spider-Girl, Quickshadow, and Cuddle Team Leader and being totally caught offguard at their very existence. This MMPR Yellow Ranger isn't quite the same scenario because after MMPR Pink was released last year, I figured would very likely get a Yellow. But I occasionally search for expected figures like this and this particular search always came up fruitless. But then two weeks ago I walked into a calendar store in the mall to check out their toy corner and boom! A gorgeous 12" Trini. Let's check her out below!

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

X-Men Movie - MYSTIQUE!

X-Men The Movie: Series 1 - Mystique (Rebecca Romijn) - Toy Biz 2000

X-Men The Movie was so released so long ago, but I remember the day like it was yesterday. Back in July of 2000 I was in my fourth year of college (yes I took classes every Summer), I was on a hiatus from reading comics, I owned approximately three action figures (McFarlane Edward Scissorhands, Sideshow Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Alex from Crimson fyi), and my favorite movie genre was artsy foreign films. In short, I was a snob. Yet I was in that theatre on opening day relishing in waves of nostalgia. And I'll confess I wasn't truly there for the X-Men themselves. I had an older brother who had always "claimed" the X-Men as "his" thing, and obliging to a twisted sibling respect I let him have them. But he couldn't have the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. They showed up in tons of other Marvel books and I was obsessed with them. Especially the mysterious Mystique. I thought her presence was the best part of the movie and twenty-some years later I finally got her original toy. Let's check her out below!

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Funko Pop - THE BARONESS!

POP! Retro Toys #75 - G.I.Joe The Baroness Vinyl Figure - Funko 2021

I used to buy a ton of Funko Pops. I collected my favorite superheroes, iconic/ironic movie characters, villainesses, random nostalgic properties, etc. But it just became too much. And when I missed out on a few exclusives I called it quits. However, I stuck with a few themes: Jim Henson, Bat-Ladies, Spider-Ladies, and Ladies of the Eighties. I thought these limitations would mean much fewer purchases, but I think Funko was on to me because I've purchased eight already this year and nine others in 2020. This Baroness is a perfect example of the kind of product I can't resist. They somehow captured the character's essence better than the sought-after Classified figure or any of the recent movie product.  Her design is so simple: a black armored bodysuit, red cobra emblem, glasses, raven hair, and a contemptuous expression. I don't know why so many products miss the mark, but Funko nailed it. Curious to see what the eventual Super7 Ultimates figure will bring to the table. Let's check out Baroness below!

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Suicide Squad 2 - HARLEY QUINN!

DC Multiverse - Suicide Squad 2 (Killer Shark) - Harley Quinn - McFarlane 2021

I just watched The Suicide Squad last night and was excited to write this review. I tried to schedule a theatre outing, but it proved impossible so I finally caved and saw it on HBO. Right off the bat, I enjoyed this sequel more than the original (note that the original is simply Suicide Squad and the sequel is The Suicide Squad). There are several returning characters, but of course Harley finds herself front and center. I was curious to see how this red dress outfit would play into the movie. At first glance, I would have much preferred the leather Arkham-esque costume that her SHFiguarts figure sports, but after seeing the movie, I think the dress is much more iconic. She wears it for the majority of the film and the lack of utilitarian features doesn't hold her back for a second. I also questioned the lack of an iconic Harley accessory like a bat or mallet. But again, after seeing the movie, I love that she has the javelin. (It's so hard to talk about my appreciation of the figure without spoiling the movie!) Let's check out Harley below!

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Spin Master - BATGIRL!

DC Comics - Gotham City Guardians (Target Exc) - Batgirl - SpinMaster 2021

I have a hunch that Spin Master will produce a lot of repaints in the coming years that I will have no problem skipping. Their 4" DC line is geared towards children and play value, and I'm well aware I am not their target audience. However, I really hope they produce at least one standard, non-gimmicky Batgirl before the license ends. Their Batwoman, Wonder Woman, and Catwoman figures are amazing with perfect comic-accurate decos. But when the secondary iteration of the line started to emerge in the aisles, we started to see bizarre paint apps (like most kid-centric lines with a limited base of characters). In the 90s we would regularly see neon and camo variants. And so it seems the children of 2021 will have fond youthful memories of circuitry designs. This metallic repaint of Batgirl actually disguises the blue linework pretty well and I like the homage to her classic gray and yellow suit. I can't wait for the "Bat-Tech" theme to run its course, but if you squint she's got a pretty great overall deco.

Monday, August 23, 2021

The Witcher - CIRI!

The Witcher III: Wild Hunt (Video Game) - Ciri - McFarlane Toys 2021

I don't play video games personally, but I spent quite a few hours each year watching friends and family play (often while I'm blogging). Some are exciting, but honestly most seem pretty boring. In the past few years one of the biggest standouts for me was The Witcher III: Wild Hunt. Maybe it was because I had seen a bit of the show, or maybe it was just the general gameplay and setting, but I enjoyed watching the game quite a bit. But despite all that, I have zero memory of the character Ciri. But the moment I saw this "female Geralt" I was smitten. A far cry from the scantily clad heroines I typically associate with video games, Ciri seems like a direct parallel to the title hero. I mean, yes, she appears to be wearing a corset and her shirt is always coming undone, but so is Geralt. Ciri is Geralt's adoptive daughter. She is a Child of the Elder Blood and is heir to a magical elven bloodline that lets her manipulate time and space. A big part of the game is tracking Ciri wherever (and whenever) she might be.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Funko Pop - EVIL-LYN!

Funko POP! Retro Toys #86 - Masters of the Universe - Evil-Lyn - Funko 2021

Funko Pop's Retro Toys has been a surprisingly awesome theme. In the beginning I thought it would continue with characters like Stretch Armstrong, Barbie, Mr. Potato Head, Popples, and various board game mascots. I never expected properties that had representation outside of the toy aisle to be included. But suddenly there was G.I.Joe, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers, and now Masters of the Universe. Most of these already had inclusion in other Pop series like Pop Animation or Pop Television, so seeing them get renewed attention was unexpected. It's a little surprising that we just got our second Evil-Lyn Funko Pop (especially when we still haven't seen Teela yet), but she is actually the perfect reason why differentiated cartoon and toy versions make sense. The two versions (Pop Television from 2017 and Pop Retro Toys from 2021) are notably different and both look fantastic. I would never be able to choose just one. Two of the best Pops in my collection. Let's check out Evil-Lyn below!

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Star Wars - PINK DROIDS!

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge Trading Post - Astromech & BB Units - Hasbro 2020

One of my greatest wishes for the Star Wars franchise was for there to be (more) female droids. ME-8D9's brief cameo in Force Awakens and L3-37 in Solo were amazing. But what I really wanted was smaller appliance-like female droids like R2D2. These figures from the Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge Trading Post line are finally scratching that itch. I realize that Astromech and BB Units aren't truly ever gendered, and that a pink color doesn't really imply anything either. But the droids in the films are constantly referred to as "he" so the gender construct is there. So I am fully pretending these two droids are female. Fun fact: in all the promotional material for Force Awakens, BB-8 was referred to as female. At some point the gender was switched to the masculine, but I didn't realize this until I was in the theater. Additionally, I've been covetous of a pink Astromech unit ever since I read about R2-KT when she was created in 2005. And now I finally have one. Let's check out these pink droids below!

Monday, August 16, 2021

Transformers - BLACKARACHNIA!

Transformers: Buzzworthy Bumblebee - Worlds Collide 4-Pack - Hasbro 2021

As toy collectors, we often see very bizarre toy decos that barely look like the characters they are meant to represent. Yellow Evil-Lyn, hat-wearing Lady Jaye, pink Serena from Dino-Riders, and the entire vintage She-Ra line are all examples of toys that are significantly different from their animated source material. But then years later there is just as much nostalgia among collectors for these bizarre interpretations and the toy companies seem happy to oblige us. This new Blackarachnia redeco is a wonderful example of that trend. Her first-ever figure back in 1996's Beast Wars line was a simple retool of the (male) Tarantulas figure, and her colors were wild: a purple head and legs, black torso with green spots, bronze spider-legs and claws, green arms, all topped off with a speckled chest. The overall effect was a godawful mess. Yet, somehow, when applied to the new Kingdom Blackarachnia mold, it's spectacular. This Peggy-Bundy-Pimp-Daddy-Destro chaos somehow works. Let's check her out below!

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Super7 ReAction - BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN!

ReAction Figures - Universal Monsters - Bride of Frankenstein - Super7 2019

As much as I love Universal Monsters, there is a pretty drastic lack of female characters. The Bride of Frankenstein has to carry the load for the most part. Dracula's Daughter, the Invisible Woman, and the She-Wolf of London (yes, I've watched it and know she should be excluded) have never been merchandised at all and are mostly unknown except to diehard monster fans. Even the damsels have had more attention than these title characters. But despite her minimal screentime, at least the Bride of Frankenstein has an iconic look. Her inclusion in the ReAction line scratches a very specific itch. In the vintage Remco 3.75" line, she seemed very deliberately excluded. And every subsequent line as well, 1980 Remco, 1986 Imperial, 1992 Placo, etc. I think the first time she was merchandized in toy form (aside from 1960s model kits) was a doll in 1994. But now she's a regular feature in the toy aisles. Enough to warrant this update ReAction figure (last one was in 2014). Let's check out the Bride of Frankenstein below!

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Super7 ReAction - RITA REPULSA!

ReAction - Mighty Morphin Power Rangers - Rita Repulsa - Super7 2021

When I started collecting ReAction figures, I told myself I would limit my purchases to 1980s (and earlier) properties. This has proven ideal for me. It provides me (necessary) collecting boundaries and still hits all my favorite characters from vintage toons and monster movies. But as soon as the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers figures were announced I knew I would make a big exception. Even though MMPR and its source material are firmly placed in the 1990s, there is an aesthetic that always seemed late 70s or early 80s to me. Especially the villains. I think Rita Repulsa is the most iconic villain from MMPR. As one of the only Japanese-action-scene characters with an exposed face, she became known for crazy expressions in the midst of the smoky battle chaos. She was a shoe-in for my ReAction collection. And this post is timely since Scorpina and Pink Ranger were just announced this week (So she won't be lonely for very long). Let's check out Rita below!

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

The Boys - STARLIGHT!

The Boys - Series 01 - The Seven: Starlight (Annie January) - NECA Toys 2021

Last night I was editing photos for this review and I was suddenly inspired to start watching the show. On the surface, the comics and the show itself never really appealed to me. I usually enjoy a good deconstructed ultraviolent superhero story. But at the time I had my fill of the genre with the likes of Watchmen and Invincible and just couldn't get excited about another. But last night I finally gave it a shot. And I can't deny that I think it's a fantastic show. I already watched 5 episodes and can't wait to watch more. Starlight is a doe-eyed ingenue and the character that introduces the viewer to the world of The Seven and their corporate overlords, Vought International (remarkably similar to The Watchmen's Veidt Enterprises by the way). I'm sure the gritty nature of this world will corrupt her eventually, but for now she's still the wary optimist. Despite my early viewing place in the series, Starlight has already changed costumes. This figure represents her introductory look. Let's check her out!

Sunday, August 8, 2021

MOTU Minis - TEELA!

Masters of the Universe Minis - Singles - Teela Warrior Goddess - Mattel 2021

I always thought Teela was the most interesting person in Masters of the Universe. Other characters had their entire bio defined by their name or action gimmick. But Teela was layered and kept surprising us throughout the series. Even at first introduction, a female Captain of the Royal Guard is unique and intriguing. Additionally, her duty of protecting the feeble Prince Adam kept her right in the middle of the action. Later we learned she wasn't Duncan's biological daughter but rather adopted under mysterious circumstances. Later still we learned that the Sorceress is her mother and she's predestined to assume the mantle next. Like I said, she's a very dynamic character and was always in need of further tales. In fact, there should be an entire series focused on her. I predict the MOTU fandom would be thrilled about such a great gift and rally behind the creators praising their efforts and talent and demanding more. These fans are always appreciative and able to see the big picture and that's what I love about them.

Friday, August 6, 2021

Marvel Legends - SHE-HULK!

Marvel Legends - Jennifer Walters She-Hulk - Fan Channel Exc - Hasbro 2021

Lately I've been reading the original Savage She-Hulk series from 1980 (I picked up the two Marvel Masterworks collections) and my appreciation for her has been growing exponentially. I also picked up two collections of her later John Byrne run which I'll be diving into next. Most of her modern comics feature a Jennifer Walters that is in control of her powers and never really "hulks out." But those early comics (and the recent 2017 Hulk series) had her uncontrolled transformations as a focal point of the stories - and I like those unpredictable character dynamics. That's why I love this new She-Hulk figure. She is a repainted 2020 gray Hulk figure, which is a monstrous hulked out version of Jennifer (a physique that we'd be very unlikely to see a green version of in toy form). All the previous green She-Hulk toys have looks too happy and scrawny for my tastes. So although this one isn't particularly comic-accurate, it's my favorite. And the alternate calm face is an amazing added bonus. Let's check her out below!

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Marvel Legends - MELINA VOSTOKOVA!

Marvel Legends - Black Widow Movie - Red Guardian & Melina - Hasbro 2021

I saw the Black Widow movie last weekend and I loved it. I have never been too shy about my general boredom with the Natasha Romanov character. In a world full of bright spandex and extraordinary superpowers, a spy in a black bodysuit just falls way down on my favorites list. Although, major kudos to Scarlett Johansson for making me appreciate the character more than I ever imagined possible. That interrogation scene from Avengers (2012) was iconic. And the new movie was a great farewell to her - I'm looking forward to watching it again. The supporting characters in Black Widow were very impressive as well. I didn't realize Melina was even in the movie until I saw this toy solicited. Melina Vostokavo first appeared in 1983 as Natasha's villain, the Iron Maiden. Her comic history had me very intrigued about her role in the MCU, but in a predictable fashion, her live-screen counterpart was heavily reimagined. Rachel Weisz was brilliant and I'm glad we got a figure of her. Let's check out Melina below!

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Marvel Legends - IRONHEART!

Marvel Legends - Ursa Major Series - Riri Williams Ironheart - Hasbro 2021

I have a confession to make. As much as I love the trend of having a young female character adopting the mantle of an established hero, I usually have trouble reading the actual comics. I have come to the conclusion that I am just not in the target demographic. Plus the typical art style employed in these books traditionally isn't my favorite. I'm always so optimistic, but I'm usually left deflated. Ironheart, however, is a huge exception to this trend. I was a little late to the game and Riri already had two collected editions on the shelves when I started reading, but I was hooked right away. The story, art, and character development was simply amazing. The only thing that slowed my momentum was her updated pink costume with the blue heart on her forehead (not my favorite design). And eventually her fantastic solo title ended. Riri has been on my Legends wishlist for years and this long-awaited result is perfection (soooooo glad it was her first official armor and not the newer suit). Let's check out Ironheart below!

Saturday, July 31, 2021

The Batman - CATWOMAN!

The Batman - EXP & Shadow-Tek - Catwoman - SDCC Exc - Mattel 2005

Catwoman has had a lot of costume designs over the years, and luckily almost all of them have been really good. Her animated looks especially have been solid well thought-out. My favorite of them all, however, is also one of her lesser known. This costume from 2004's The Batman animated series is great because it's the most cat-like look she's ever sported. The giant ears and colorful clawed gloves seem like such simple enhancements to her classic catsuits that I'm surprised we haven't seen them elsewhere. Her goggles and wide collar add a certain utilitarian feel that completes the look. Her action figure was released as a 2005 exclusive at both SDCC and Wizard World Chicago (a major gimmick being that there were nine different cat idol accessories to collect). There were redecos released later, but her classic black suit stayed exclusive to these conventions. The design of the series was also continued into a 50 issue comic series, The Batman Strikes! after show ended. Let's check out Catwoman below!

Friday, July 30, 2021

The Batman - BATGIRL!

The Batman - EXP & Shadow-Tek - Batgirl & Barbara Gordon - Mattel 2006

Before The Batman live-action feature film comes out next year, I wanted to go back in time and review the female figures from the 2004 animated series of the same name. This series has very unique character designs that stand out from the other iterations of the Batman animated universe. This version of Batgirl is probably the youngest ever represented outside of comic books. She is a teenager (other versions are implied to be college-age or mid-20s) and in this continuity she was Batman's sidekick before Robin. The toy line pumped out two versions of the character. One is a standard release in her purple costume that was re-released in several multi-packs. The second is amazing because it features a removeable costume to create civilian Barbara Gordon. This is a toy gimmick normally only seen with the title characters, and is quite rare for a female. Of course, this gimmick almost never looks very good, and Batgirl is no exception, but it's still a very fun figure. Let's check out the Batgirls below!

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

The Batman - POISON IVY!

The Batman - EXP (Extreme Power) - Arkham Asylum Multi-Pack - Mattel 2006

Of all the various Batman animated shows and movies, I think my favorite character designs are from 2004's The Batman. For the first time, the characters seemed to have individualized designs as opposed to a formulaic look. Don't get me wrong, BTAS and TNBA were groundbreaking and looked great. But the female characters all essentially shared the same body and facial characteristics. In The Batman, Jeff Matsuda's character designs were really diverse. They were all different shapes and sizes, and even looked like they incorporated different illustration styles altogether. Poison Ivy is my favorite of the bunch. She looks heavily inspired by Ted Naifeh's early Gloomcookie art, and it really suits her. Her action figure is one of the more exclusive ones released. She was readily available and I would see her in stores often, but she only came in two multipacks and never saw single release like most characters. But she's totally worth the bulk purchase. Let's check out Poison Ivy below!

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Marvel Mini-Mates - SPIDER-WOMAN!

Marvel Mini-Mates -  Wave 80 - Spider-Woman - Diamond Select Toys 2021

I generally like the trend of superheroes donning utilitarian versions of their costumes. Burnside Batgirl, Darwyn Cooke Catwoman, and most of the Marvel Ultimate Universe are all amazing. But the pendulum almost always swings back and the bright spandex makes a glorious return. Jessica Drew's Spider-Woman had a remarkably unchanged costume from her debut in 1978 all the way until 2015 when she donned this modern utilitarian getup consisting of a form-fitting (leather?) jacket and yellow glasses. She wore it for roughly two years in her solo titles, then was out of the limelight until her new 2020 title featuring a black variation of her classic costume. I was hesitant about this jacketed version at first, but it grew on me and I'm glad we got some merchandise to commemorate this phase in her evolution. And of course Marvel Mini-Mates would have to include her. No other toy line has shown more dedication to the pantheon of Spider-Ladies than them. Let's check her out below!

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Minecraft Dungeons - GRETA!

Minecraft: Dungeons - 3.25" Figures Series 02 - Greta - Mojang/Mattel 2021

About six years ago I was in a toy buying drought and on my millionth fruitless toy hunting trip I randomly ended up buying a small Minecraft figure from Jazwares. I was aware of the Minecraft game buzz among all my young relatives, but truly knew nothing about the property aside from the exaggerated pixel designs. When I got the figure in hand I found the simplicity to be quite charming and fun. It reminded me of wooden block toys I had as a child mixed with the 8-bit game graphics of my adolescence. Plus the sole female toy shared my name. All-in-all I was really pleased with my random toy purchase, but always assumed it would be my last. But then a year and a half later I saw that same character, but now with snap-on armor. I knew I would be hooked after that second purchase. However, the toy lines dried up until the recent Minecraft: Dungeons game was released - and subsequently introduced a ton of new characters. Greta is the newest lady on the shelves - let's check her out below!

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Mastermind Creations - ERIS: KULTUR!

Ocular Max Infinite Finity - IF-01 Eris: Kultur - Mastermind Creations 2021

This Eris: Kultur figure from Mastermind Creations is a pretty unique purchase for me because it marks the first time I have bought a 3rd Party fembot that was a unique creation and not an homage to a classic Transformers or Go-Bots character. I splurged on her purely out of an aesthetic appreciation for the design. And that says a lot when you consider her high price point, her scarcity, and the abundance of collectibles on my want list right now that have a powerful nostalgia element giving them an unfair advantage. Eris: Kultur was a Planet Steel Express exclusive back in May that sold out almost instantly. I'm assuming this success means we will be seeing similar products in the future. Hopefully continuing their Reformatted trend from 2014 and focusing on female characters. I'm super curious to see what other designs the MMC team might come up with (and I better start budgeting for them now while I'm at it). Let's check out the 3rd Party Mastermind Creations Ocular Max Eris: Kultur figure below!

Monday, July 19, 2021

Marvel Legends 3.75" Retro - INVISIBLE WOMAN!

Marvel Legends 3.75" Retro Series 03 - Invisible Woman - Hasbro 2021

Susan Storm has an iconic role in the Marvel Universe. She was the very first Marvel Heroine introduced by Marvel Comics. Back in 1961, Marvel Comics (as we know it today) was brand new. Previous incarnations of the company, Timely and Atlas Comics, had their fair share of heroines, but most are now relics of the Golden Age. Susan Storm first appeared on the pages of Fantastic Four #1 in November of 1961 and was a unique character right from the start. Even today she is one of the few characters who ooze maternal instinct, a trait that is universal and widely relatable, but somehow rarely portrayed in superhero comics. It's also notable that she and her team have always had simple recognizable costumes. Sure, there have been variations, but they always stay close to the classic look. In 2019, Sue broke new ground by finally getting a solo comic of her own. Her inclusion in the Marvel Universe Retro line was a given from the start. And the figure is perfect in its simplicity. Let's check her out below!

Friday, July 16, 2021

Sonic Adventure - AMY ROSE!

Sonic Adventure - Action Figures Series 02 - Amy Rose - ReSaurus Toys 2000

I feel like we got spoiled with awesome Sonic the Hedgehog products almost a decade ago. I was never a diehard Sonic fan, but I found myself eagerly buying all the Jazwares toys on the shelves. They were fun and colorful characters that I found irresistible. Then in 2014, Tomy got the license and started out with a great assortment for Sonic Boom, but since then it's been crickets. The current license holder, Jakks Pacific only seems interested in merchandising a small handful of (male) characters. The days of fun anthropomorphic Sonic ladies seem to be over. (Update: Jakks Amy coming in 2021!) But this prompted me to look backwards toward the older products from Toy Island and ReSaurus. I believe this Amy Rose from ReSaurus is her first action figure. I picked mine up on eBay with no accessories, and I realize now it is likely a factory second which apparently flooded the internet in recent years. But the quality is great and it didn't break the bank, so I'm not complaining. Let's check out Amy Rose below!

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Justice Society - THE HUNTRESS!

The Justice Society of America - PVC Set 3 - The Huntress - DC Direct 2001

I'm a sucker for characters with complicated origins rooted in Golden and Silver Age comic lore. And if that character also happens to be cat-themed, it's all the better. Paula Brooks as the Huntress first appeared in the 1947 issue of Sensation Comics #68 as a villain of Wildcat. She was his most significant foe, but still only had a handful of appearances before fading away for nearly 20 years. By 1980, she had a meager 15 appearances over 33 years. I first discovered her in an early issue of Batman Family #7 (1976) fighting Batgirl and Robin, which was dated about a year before Helena Wayne was introduced as an all-new batman-universe character using her name. I was intrigued by Paula's Catwoman-esque vibe but didn't become fully obsessed until I found All-Star Comics #73 (1978) which featured a Huntress vs Huntress battle. Years later in 1987 she was finally given a backstory. She was now revealed to be the daughter of Tigress, a Zatara villain (who first appeared in Action Comics #1, 1938). 

Monday, July 12, 2021

Snake Eyes Basic Series - BARONESS!

Snake Eyes: G.I.Joe Origins - Basic Series 01 - Baroness - Hasbro 2021

I rarely enjoy any live-action movies that are inspired from classic cartoons. Masters of the Universe (1987), Transformers (2007), and G.I.Joe (2009) all fell flat for me (although oddly, the biggest perceived bomb of them all, Jem (2015) is a personal favorite that I've seen nearly a dozen times). But one thing I love about these movies is the corresponding resurgence in the toylines. Especially when the designs harken back to the original animated designs. The upcoming Snake-Eyes movie surprisingly stars two of my favorite characters, Scarlett and Baroness. While the Baroness design for the movie doesn't thrill me, I really dig this generic "basic series" figure. This was likely sculpted and when the film costumes were still in concept phase, and what we get is a blend of various Baroness designs that I really like. It incorporates the blue of her first appearance with her standard black bodysuit and modern utilitarian details that gives a nice cinematic feel. I think it's terrific. Let's check out Baroness below!

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Transformers - SKYWARP!

Transformers Cyberverse Adventures - Seekers 4 Pack - Target Exc Hasbro 2020

Female Decepticons are severely lacking in my toy collection. So when Hasbro decides to do a gender swap and a generic redeco of a male toy to create another character, I disregard my scruples and jump on board. Skywarp is one of the classic Seekers from the original G1 cartoon. The character has always been represented as male until a recent Transformers: Bumblebee Cyberverse Adventures episode. Although Skywarp now has a distinctive female appearance in the cartoon, she suffered the same fate as Slipstream and got a toy that is a simple repaint of Starscream. Unfortunately, this specific Starscream mold doesn't have a particularly gender-neutral face like Slipstream was blessed with. But I still put an eBay alert out for her, because as I said above, any female Decepticon gets a pass. She came in a colorful Target-exclusive Seekers: Sinister Strikeforce four-pack with Thundercracker, Starscream, and Thrust (all identical molds). Let's check out Cyberverse Skywarp below!

Saturday, July 10, 2021

MOTU Revelation - EVIL-LYN!

Masterverse Series 1 - Masters of the Universe Revelation - Evil-Lyn - Mattel 2021

In the past couple days my anticipation for the Masters of the Universe: Revelation has skyrocketed. Trailers never do much for me. I generally find them very misleading so I don't pay them much mind. But on Wednesday I bought the first issue of the Revelation comic which serves as a prequel to the cartoon. The issue was so chock full of MOTU Easter eggs that it made me giddy. It touched on the origins of Castle Grayskull, the origins of the Power Sword, and the origins of the transformative properties of the sword among other nerdy tidbits. Plus it incorporated 200x characters and teased backstory on vintage characters that I previously knew nothing about. Then out of the blue that night I learned that my local Walmart had the figures in stock. I was there as the doors opened at 7am and was ecstatic to get my hands on Evil-Lyn. She looks amazing. From looking at the trailer, I'm guessing she is actually a good guy in this series - I imagine she'll be like Emma Frost in the X-Men. Either way I'm excited.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Robotech - LYNN MINMEI!

Robotech: The Macross Saga - Lynn Minmei in Cheongsam - KitzConcept Ltd 2021

I have a love/hate relationship with Lynn Minmei. On one hand, she's a major character in the first season of Robotech, she brings a much needed pop culture element to an otherwise military-focused story, and she is the initial love interest for the main character, Rick Hunter. But on the other hand, I just find her totally annoying. She's a bubbly popstar and beauty pageant contestant with a rather grating presence (in my humble opinion). Her songs are... unique. And they become the soundtrack for so many episodes. Her fashion choices are also very specific. Her vintage toy in a yellow and teal polka-dot outfit was the only figure from the line I never tried to get. But before her character wins Miss Macross and becomes famous, she worked at a Chinese restaurant called Nyan-Nyan and wore this traditional cheongsam. I love this outfit because it lets me include Lynn Minmei in my collection without hurting my eyes. Plus it compliments the streamlined uniforms of the other characters. Let's check her out below!

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Robotech - LISA HAYES!

Robotech: The Macross Saga - 1:12 Series - Lisa Hayes - KitzConcept Ltd 2020

When people think about that iconic first season of Robotech, a lot of characters probably come to mind. Of the many females in the huge cast, Linn Minmei and Miriya get the bulk of screen time and character development. But I was always most impressed by Lisa Hayes. Lisa is the First Officer aboard the SDF-1. She comes from a military family (her father is Admiral Donald Hayes) and shows competency and leadership from the minute she steps on screen. She is skilled at directing the Veritech fighters and even created some maneuvers that became standard practice. I also like that she lead an almost entirely female bridge crew. Lisa's presence added brains and strategy to the boys' club of pilots and officers. And to top it all off, she eventually ended up marrying the main character, Rick Hunter (but I must stress, unlike others in the cast, she was not a boy-crazy one-note character at all). This line of 6" scale action figures is kind of a dream come true. The price point is a little steep, but so far they're worth it.

Friday, July 2, 2021

Super7 ReAction - LILY MUNSTER!

ReAction Action Figures - The Munsters - Lily Munster - Super7 2021

The early 60s were an interesting time for American television. In a few short years, the well-established format of the wholesome sitcom was turned on its head with the introduction of farcical shows that mimicked the innocence of tv staples like Donna Reed and Leave It to Beaver. These new shows had a successful gimmick of dipping into the popular pulp and sci-fi genres of the time. Shows like I Dream of Jeannie, My Favorite Martian, Betwitched, and Addams Family all premiered between 1963 and 1965. And right in the middle of that batch was my personal favorite, The Munsters, in September of 1964. The Munsters was a Universal Studios production with direct ties to the Universal Monsters they were paying homage to. It perfectly captured the cheesy sitcom family vibe mixed with the fantastic visuals of all the great monsters movies. Lily Munster was the heart of the family with a wonderfully vampy appearance. This ReAction figure of her has been on my wishlist for years. Let's check her out below!

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

MOTU Origins - EVIL-LYN (v2)!

Masters of the Universe Origins - Evil-Lyn (200x Version) - Mattel 2021

Evil-Lyn is one of those rare characters that I've genuinely loved every iteration of. I love her vintage toy in bright garish yellow. I love her blue and purple caped Filmation design. I actually didn't hate the live-action movie costume. The black and purple 200x look is glorious. And I'm pretty sure I'm going to love the upcoming Revelations style. This 200x repaint of the Masters of the Universe Origins Evil-Lyn is terrific example of how translatable her different color palettes are across different era designs. I hope this means a Filmation variant will be coming too. Speaking of Filmation, this figure forced me to finally distinguish between her main two animated looks. I honestly thought this was a Filmation repaint until I saw the logo on the package. To sum it up, 200x Evil-Lyn has overall darker colors but paler skin. Filmation has a distinct blue and brighter purple. I truly expect the third deco to come out before the end of the year, along with pink Teela and Sorceress. Let's check out 200x Evil-Lyn below!

Monday, June 28, 2021

Transformers - SCYLLA!

Transformers Generations Selects TT-GS10 - God Neptune - Takara Tomy 2021

The Seacons were a group of aquatic-themed antagonists in 1988's Super-God Masterforce. They shared a pink and teal color palette and could combine to form Piranacon. The team was impactful but didn't stay around too long. In 1997, their designs were re-introduced in Beast Warriors II as the Space Pirate Seacons in a white and gold palette. They were technically all new characters with new names and personalities, but the designs were identical... except for Scylla who replaced the deceased Tentakil. From all the episodes I've seen, Scylla is largely present for comic relief in the form of unwanted flirtation, and of course to form a leg of God Neptune. The vintage Scylla figure was just a repaint of the male Tentakil, but in this newest TakaraTomy release she gets a massive retooling using a mashup of Moonracer and Tentakil parts (plus a brand new torso and head). The God Neptune set was a Pulse Exclusive for preorder in 2020, but just released a few months ago. Let's check out Scylla below.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Women of the DCU Busts - DONNA TROY!

Women of the DC Universe Bust - Series 01 - Wonder Girl - DC Direct 2007

Sometimes it takes a single collectible or piece of merchandise to make you really appreciate a character. For some reason, Donna Troy as Wonder Girl just never appealed to me. On the surface, she has all the trademarks of a character I would love: a long history, a colorful costume, and a direct familial link to an A-list hero. But it took this 2007 Women of the DC Universe bust to really make me stop and pay attention. This is especially ironic because my single favorite comic issue of my childhood was The Uncanny X-Men and The New Teen Titans team-up special. While her character was essentially drowned out by the huge roster in the issue, her image on the cover is a fixed memory for me. Of all the product lines that went away with the dissolving of DC Direct, the Women of the DCU mini bust series is one of biggest losses to me. Dedicating each series to the unique designs of a single artist made for a very cohesive aesthetic. This Wonder Girl was from the first series by Adam Hughes and John G. Mathews.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Disney/Pixar's Brave - MERIDA!

Pixar 7" Action Figure Series - Disney's Brave: Princess Merida - Mattel 2021

I rewatched Brave before this review because I hadn't seen it since 2012 and I only had fragmented memories. I remember her wild red hair (especially how well it was animated). I remember all the scenes being saturated in green like an Alfonso CuarĂ³n film. And did the mother transform into a bear or something? (or was that Brother Bear?) I definitely needed to give it another viewing. The movie holds up well. I actually enjoyed it more this time than the first go-round. Merida is a classic anti-princess. She rejects the formalities and privileges of her birthright and instead prefers adventure. Her real rebellion kicks off when she enters the contest of princes vying for her hand in marriage and defeats them all to become her own suitor, and this sets up the main conflict of the movie between traditional mother and rebellious daughter. And, yes, there is indeed a bear transformation. I always love a fiercely independent character - especially if she's an archer. So Merida was a must-have. Let's check her out below!

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

The Incredibles - ELASTIGIRL & VIOLET!

Pixar 7" Action Figure Series - Incredibles: Elastigirl & Violet - Mattel 2020-2021

I have a lot of mixed feelings about The Incredibles. When I first saw the film back in 2004, I walked out of the theatre thinking that Disney blatantly stole the plot of The Watchmen. This wasn't a new concept for me. I thought Kimba the White Lion and The Christmas Toy clearly "influenced" Lion King and Toy Story. The flipside to my initial criticisms is that I adore Brad Bird (Iron Giant is one of my favorite animated movies, right up there with Studio Ghibli). And if he claims he never read Watchmen, I 100% believe him. So then I had to watch it again with an open mind, which was difficult because I had a stubborn sort of grudge about it. But I did enjoy it, and I liked the sequel without any hesitation. I never really considered adding Incredibles actions figure to my collection, but when I stumbled across this Pixar line in Target earlier this I just had to get them. They are an interesting scale, decently articulated, and amazingly sculpted. Plus they're inexpensive. Let's check out Helen and Violet below!

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Gen13 - FAIRCHILD!

Wildstorm Gen13 - Caitlyn Fairchild - Wizard / ToyFare Exc - D-Boy Inc 1998

Most of 1990's comics were a blur to me. I never jumped on board the extreme train, and expensive cover gimmicks just made me angry. But one shining beacon among the  flood of new superhero books was Gen13. The comic was young, fun, sexy, entertaining, and beautifully drawn. Other comics at the time (even related titles under the Wildstorm banner) failed to combine all these traits in one book. The main team consisted of two young men (Burnout and Grunge) and three young women (Freefall, Rainmaker, and Fairchild) - an impressive ratio even now. Fairchild was the muscle, brains, and leader of the group. The cool costume designs and extreme popularity of the book would make you think there would have been a lot of toys, but you would be wrong. There were 12" clothed action figures, but they only made 4 characters, and the 6" action figures only saw Caitlyn and Caitlyn variants. I think a full roster of toys is long overdue (but for now I must settle for Heroclix). Let's check out Fairchild below!

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Marvel Legends - LADY DEATHSTRIKE!

Marvel Legends: Xenmu/Villains Series Series -  Deathstrike - Hasbro 2020

I have many unpopular opinions in life, and one of the biggest ones is that I just don't care for the character Wolverine. He was always so gruff and predictable. His consistent bull-headedness would always be counter-balanced with a softer side, like befriending Kitty or Jubilee. But I always viewed these relationships as formulaic. Even his romantic interest in Jean seemed forced and without depth. Plus he was the go-to character in my youth that everyone claimed was their favorite and he always gets the story focus in movies, cartoons, and comics. All these factors combine to me just ignoring most of his storyline. The downside is that interesting side characters also get ignored. Yuriko Oyama is the daughter of the scientist who created the adamantium-grafting process that we know so well from Logan's backstory. Yuriko, with the help of Spiral, underwent similar adamantium grafting (and other cybernetic enhancements) to become the mercenary assassin Lady Deathstrike hellbent on killing Wolverine.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Iguana no Musume - IGUANA GIRL!

Fewture Comic Character Series - Iguana Girl - Art Storm/Fewture 2002

In 1992, a unique 51-page manga called Iguana no Musume (Iguana Girl), written and drawn by Moto Hagio was published in the manga magazine Petit Flower. It's a bizarre little tale about a young girl named Rika whose mother sees her as an Iguana. Other characters see Rika as a normal, albeit plain, young girl. But in her mother's eyes, she is a scaly beast in a dress. Her mother treats her very poorly, especially in comparison to her fair-haired perfect little sister Mami (whom the mother adores). The story follows Rika from birth to adulthood and illustrates how deeply she is affected by her mother's behavior. She is plagued by low self-esteem and fear of falling in love, believing that she actually is an Iguana inside and will only bring hurt to those around her. The story is insightful with a fairy tale quality that I adore. I personally exhibit a few adult character traits that are a direct result of my parents' perception of me as a child. So I have always found this story to be a unique, poignant, and universal tale.