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!