Monday, May 31, 2021

Marvel Legends - BLACK QUEEN(S)!

Marvel Legends Hellfire Club Box Set - Jean Grey & Selene - Hasbro 2021

I won't lie and say that I completely understand the Jean Grey storyline in the early 80s. From my understanding, after Jean became Phoenix, Mastermind began manipulating her.. wanting revenge on Jean and the X-Men for a previous altercation. Under his influence, she became the Black Queen of the Hellfire Club. But eventually she recovers her memories and snaps, becoming Dark Phoenix. And within a few months we meet Madelyne Pryor and things get infinitely more complex. The Hellfire Club is a wealthy secret society with wicked intentions to manipulate world events for their benefit. The men dress in 18th century formalwear, and the women dress like dominatrixes. All the members of the inner circle have chess-themed titles and the roster involved is dizzying. The wikipedia page seriously gave me a headache. I miss when it was just Emma Frost, Magneto, Sebastian Shaw, and Tessa, plus the occasional Bishop like Donald Pierce. But Jean's recruitment was welcome and iconic development.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Marvel Legends - WHITE QUEEN!

Marvel Legends Hellfire Club Box Set - Emma Frost White Queen - Hasbro 2021

Emma Frost is the first female villain I encountered in Marvel Comics. In the early days of New Mutants, she was the headmistress of the nearby Massachusetts Academy where the Xavier kids would have flirty mixers followed by predictable mutant battles. Emma's young team was called the Hellions and each member had a powerset that directly paralleled the Xavier kids, and I always love that simple-yet-effective story dynamic. But the funny thing was that I really didn't like Emma in this era. I didn't became a fan until Generation X in 1994. In this comic, she and Banshee were a co-headmasters of a new young team. She was no longer the one-note villain, but rather a conflicted woman trying to balance her nurturing and aggressive sides. Maybe she was always a multi-faceted character, but it was never so obvious until she was trying to be good. I was nervous we would never get a Legends figure of a dominatrix-looking characters like this, but thankfully I was wrong. Let's check out Emma below!

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Watchmen - MARIONETTE!

Watchmen: Doomsday Clock - Marionette & Comedian - DC Collectibles 2018

Doomsday Clock is a 12-issue sequel to the Watchmen published in 2017-2019. I personally haven't read this story, but I'm certain that I eventually will. Without knowing much about the plot at all, just a glance at the covers lets you know that this story crosses into the main DC Universe - Superman, Batman, Lex Luthor, and Joker are on full display. But despite that crossover intrigue, I found the new characters of Mime and Marionette to be the most appealing draw. Mime (Marcos Maez) and Marionette (Erika Manson) are a criminal husband and wife team. Thematic to their names, Mime seems to be able to conjure invisible weapons, and Marionette wields wire. They remind me of comic versions of Bonnie and Clyde or Mickey and Mallory Knox. When I first saw these action figures, they didn't really appeal to me. I thought they looked a little stiff and awkward. But, typical of me, three years later I became obsessed with getting her. Better late than never. Let's check out Marionette below!

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Digimon - LILIMON!

Bandai Spirits - Digimon Adventure Shodo Vol.3 - Lilimon - Bandai 2021

Digimon is a property that has always appealed to me, but similar to Pokemon, I actually find it overwhelming and confusing. However Digimon stood out because it had many more humanoid characters that I thought looked amazing. I especially love the flower-themed ladies (and, yes, I'm aware they are technically genderless). I was always bummed that there were never any true action figures of them, only glorified PVC figurines (that are inexplicably expensive on eBay). But now this new series of Digimon Shodo Adventure figures and gave us a perfect Lilimon. She is truly amazing. Her sculpt is adorable, her small scale is fun, and her poseability is impressive. I only hope this line continues and gives us Rosemon and Lilamon so I can continue my action figure garden. Currently Lilimon will be joining a handful of Spiderwick Happy Meal toys and Perfuma, but I know Digimon Adventures Shodo could give me so many more. Fingers crossed! Let's check out Lilimon below!

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Blackstar - MARA!

Blackstar - Basic Series 01 - Mara the Princess of Secret Power - Galoob 1983

Blackstar is Filmation's immediate predecessor to Masters of the Universe and contains a mere 13 episodes, all airing in 1981 (a full two years before MOTU). The series features the hero, Earth astronaut John Blackstar, crash landing on the planet Sagar, where magic and sorcery rule. Blackstar and the main antagonist, Overlord, each have one half of the magical PowerSword, which imbue the wielder with heightened senses, strength, skill, and invulnerability (when the sword halves combine, they form the PowerStar). He rides Warlock, an intelligent flying dragon-horse, and has two main sidekicks: the shape-changing elf, Klone, and the powerful enchantress, Mara. This series might have been forgotten in 1981 if He-Man didn't renew interest in sword-and-sorcery properties two years later. The episodes began to be re-aired, and a belated toyline was made by Galoob to ride the coattails of Mattel's MOTU success. The Mara figure is awesome and a gem of my collection. Let's check her out below!

Friday, May 21, 2021

Toy Biz - FRANKIE RAYE NOVA!

Marvel Comics - Silver Surfer 30th Anniversary Series - Nova - Toy Boz 1997

Frankie Raye is a step-daughter of Phineas Horton, the scientist creator of the original Human Torch (the android Jim Hammond version from 1939, not Johnny Storm from 1961). Frankie was accidentally exposed to the same chemicals that created the Human Torch's flame powers. Her father decided to give her a skin-tight body suit to contain the fire and then hypnotized her into forgetting about the powers and the containment suit itself. She lived a normal life until she was a young woman dating Johnny Storm. Frisky Johnny discovered the bodysuit and eventually she broke through her mental block. She became an unofficial member of the Fantastic Four before fate intervened and she became a Herald of Galactus named Nova, complete with a Silver-Surfer-esque metallic makeover. Recently I've been thinking how she would make for a great Marvel Legends figure. There are enough flame-based characters out there to justify the hair sculpt and the body is essentially a featureless buck.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Marvel Busts - FRANKIE RAYE NOVA!

Marvel Mini-Bust Series - Frankie Raye Nova - Bowen Designs 2006

The Infinity Saga comic storyline really scarred me as a young comic reader. It was the first time I got sucked into a big "Event" storyline. I eagerly bought all three series (Gauntlet, War, and Crusade), as well three years of "Crossover" books that Marvel touted as essential reading: Silver Surfer, Dr. Strange, Quasar, Sleepwalker, Cloak & Dragon, etc, etc. And newsflash, they were not essential. The story got convoluted and boring and I felt like a total sucker for taking the bait and wasting so much of my hard-earned lawnmowing money. However, in retrospect, I love that these comics are what first exposed me to Frankie Raye as Nova. The MCU movies have clouded my memories about the comics, but I know that Silver Surfer and the heralds of Galactus played a significant role. When I first saw Nova, I thought she looked like a futuristic Firestar, but I quickly embraced her as a unique and awesome character. This 2006 Bowen bust is a rare and amazing representation of her. Let's check her out!

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Toy Biz - SHADOWCAT!

Marvel Comics - ToyFare Exclusives - Kitty Pryde (ShadowCat) - Toy Biz 1998

With the exciting rumors of a possible Excalibur Marvel Legends box set coming this year from Amazon, I thought I would revisit the only real action figure of an Excalibur character that I own. In the late 90's, exclusive mail-away action figures were a real thing. It sounds like a bizarre concept now, but between Wizard and ToyFare magazines and various comic and videogame offerings, there were always exciting little exclusives to be had. These were mostly simple repaints, but were often surprisingly significant characters - like Feral, Firestar, and of course Shadowcat. Kitty Pryde has always suffered a bit of an identity crisis in the costume department, but I think her blue, puffy-sleeved look is the most iconic. And ironically it's the costume where she looks most like a mature adult woman, rather than the youthful energetic X-Man she is typically portrayed as. But still it's my favorite and I really can't wait to get her in legends form (along with Meggan and Rachel of course!). Let's check out Kitty below!

Monday, May 17, 2021

Star Wars - ASAJJ VENTRESS!

Star Wars Black Series - The Clone Wars #07: Asajj Ventress - Hasbro 2021

I first started getting into the Star Wars expanded universe back in the mid-2000s when I became obsessed with Playskool's Galactic Heroes line. I was originally just into the Marvel Super Hero Squad figures, but they came out too slowly for me so I started buying the Indiana Jones, G.I.Joe, Transformers, and Star Wars characters too. After Marvel, the Star wars line was definitely the most prolific. And after a few years of differently-costumed Leias and Amidalas, they started releasing more obscure female Jedi that I had never heard of before: Shaak Ti, Luminaria, Ahsoka Tano, Aayla Secura, and of course Asajj Ventress. Each time I picked up one of these characters I would  research them on Wookipedia and become obsessed. I never watched any of the Star Wars animated properties, but I know Asajj was a Nightsister who was raised as a padawan by a Jedi. But she returned to the darkside to become Count Dooku's personal assassin, only to then ditch all allegiances and become a bounty hunter.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Shang-Chi - KATY!

Marvel Legends - Shang-Chi Movie - Katy - Target Exclusive - Hasbro 2021

Right in line with yesterday's Xialing review, comes another character that I have zero reference for. When Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings hits the theatres in September I am sure I will have a lot to say, but for now I'm limited to the figure itself. On the bright side, I'm actually familiar with this actor. Awkwafina really made an impression on me back in 2018 when she starred in both Ocean's Eight and Crazy Rich Asians back to back. In both she stood out as the comic relief with a sarcastic wackiness that I genuinely enjoy. Next she voiced the Collector in the Dark Crystal and I started watching her show Nora from Queens. This figure is a good likeness of her face, but it's still bizarre to see her in an action role. That said, I love archery and hanfu robes. I'm a big fan of manga and anime, but it's never the loud or violent or sexy stories, rather the quiet, insightful stuff, usually with lots of mythology and archery. It's definitely an aesthetic that speaks to me. Let's check out Katy below!

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Shang-Chi - XIALING!

Marvel Legends: Shang-Chi Movie - Mr. Hyde Wave - Xialing - Hasbro 2021

It's really difficult to write about a figure from a movie that isn't released yet. But more and more, Hasbro seems to be making movie figures way too far in advance of the theatrical releases and I'm left guessing what these characters are about. And when it comes to supporting characters in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, I'm completely clueless. All I know is the blurb on the packaging that says Xialing is Shang-Chi's estranged sister, who I assume she has some mad martial arts skills. I've been aware of Shang-Chi since my early days of reading comics, but my only real exposure to the character was pretty recently in the pages of Agents of Atlas. And on a side-note, the MCU presence of Jimmy Woo, Ms. Marvel, and now the Master of Kung-Fu makes me think the Agents of Atlas are coming (I really hope I'm right). I even wonder if Xialing might turn out to be Aero (Lei Ling) - the costume is reminiscent. But it's all just speculation until September. Let's check out Xialing below!

Sunday, May 9, 2021

MOTU Minis - EVIL-LYN & ANTI-ETERNIA TEELA!

Masters of the Universe Minis - Evil-Lyn & Anti-Eternia Teela - Mattel 2021

Back in 2014 I was really excited about Mattel's Masters of the Universe Minis line. There was something very fun and colorful about these small articulated figures. The only problem being that there were no female figures officially released (She-Ra found her way to eBay), and they were pretty expensive. If I remember correctly they cost 20 bucks plus shipping for a 2-pack. They were exclusive to Mattycollector and just never gained enough traction to continue beyond the first few releases. But then last year, buried in all the initial MOTU Origins news, was the announcement of these new Eternia Minis. They were priced right, they would see retail distribution, and there were multiple assortments coming right away. The first two waves were blind-boxed in in Castle Grayskull and Snake Mountain containers. This third assortment is packaged on individual hang-cards, and I'm curious to see how future releases will be handled. I fully expect a Sorceress in the next year. Let's check out the minis below!

Friday, May 7, 2021

Space Jam - LOLA BUNNY!

Space Jam: A New Legacy - On Court Rivals - Lola Bunny - Moose Toys 2021

Lola Bunny was first introduced in the 1996 Space Jam movie as Bugs Bunny's girlfriend. At the time I thought she was the first (adult) female rabbit in the Looney Tunes (I was well aware of young Babs Bunny from Tiny Toon Adventures of course). But in the years since I've learned that she is essentially a redesigned version of Honey Bunny, who in the 1960-70s was a regular love interest for Bugs in Looney Tunes comics from Gold Key. When it came time to re-introduce her in Space Jam, the designers felt she looked to young to be a romantic partner to Bugs, so they redeveloped her into the mature (and sexualized) Lola Bunny. I only mention that she was sexualized because these traits were so unlike anything in the Looney Tunes universe up until then. But, in essence, she presented as a mature female bunny and formidable basketball player, which was exactly the point. I've wanted her in my collection for a while and the new movie finally granted me that wish. Let's check out Lola below!

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Space Jam - WHITE MAMBA!

Space Jam: A New Legacy - On Court Rivals - White Mamba - Moose Toys 2021

Here's a shocking confession: I know absolutely nothing about organized sports. I may love playing sports, but I have no interest in watching other people do it. Basketball has always been especially difficult for me to focus on. So here's shocking confession #2: I have never seen Space Jam. Despite its place as 90's cultural phenomenon, and the introduction of Lola Bunny, it just never intrigued me enough to actually watch it. I wasn't very big into toy collecting back then, so when I heard about this new movie, my very first thought was that I could finally add a Lola to my collection. What I wasn't expecting was any other action figures that would excite me. This White Mamba figure was an amazing surprise. Diana Taurasi plays for the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA and was nicknamed White Mamba by Kobe Bryant due to her penchant for scoring in crucial scenarios. I love that Warner Bros took a cue from her nickname and made her into a true white mamba gorgon. Let's check out White Mamba below!

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Pre-Order Alert - RETROVERSE HEROINES!

Amazing Heroes: Series 07 - Classic Heroines - Fresh Monkey Fiction 2022

Occasionally I will use my social network to try to drum up support for soon-to-be-released product. I believe every time in the past this has been for a Kickstarter that I was personally excited about. And while this newest Amazing Heroes wave isn't on Kickstarter, it has a production plan that is completely dependent on pre-orders. I just placed one of my largest pre-orders ever and I really really want these figures to go into production. I am a huge fan of Golden Age superhero comics. They are quite literally the building blocks of the entire comic industry and there is something about the simple costume designs and early-1940's aesthetic that always draws me in. Fresh Monkey Fiction's Amazing Heroes line has been giving us Golden Age heroes in a classic "Secret Wars" style for years. They have relatively low production runs and become very desirable on the secondary market. Of course, up until now there has been a blatant absence of female characters. But now we're making up for it in spades!

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Mythic Legions - DORINA ONORIS!

Mythic Legions - Dorina Onoris (She-Ra) - Power-Con Exc - Four Horsemen 2020

Hot on the heels of Thursday's belated Evil-Lyn homage figure, Malynna, comes the newest female release, Dorina Onoris, aka Mythic Legions She-Ra. I was truly expecting the second female in the Power-Con exclusive MOTU homage line to be Teela, but I was surprised by this really terrific rendition of She-Ra first. Of course, I clearly remember saying back in 2017 when I first saw the Mythic Legions Freyja of Deadhall figure (with her valkyrie-esque helmet plumage) that she would be a She-Ra Power-Con repaint someday. It took a few years but I was spot-on. The funny thing is, I now have no idea who I would expect the Four Horsemen to use for Teela or Sorceress (who I just assume would logically be the next two ladies included). I think they'll have to be pretty complex mash-ups of existing characters. Or who knows, maybe we'll even get an original headsculpt. All I know is that this sub-line of Mythic Legions has been a true treat to collectors and something I look forward to each Spring.