Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Playmates Toys - CHUN-LI!

TMNT vs Street Fighter - Michelangelo & Chun-Li 2-Pack - Playmates Toys 2022

Playmates Toys has really been upping their game in the the last five years. Shortly before then, the Star Trek and TMNT movie toys left a lot to be desired. The likenesses were off, the articulation was stiff, and the overall appeal was a bit lackluster. But since then there have been several really great toy lines with impressive articulation and design. The Mysticons and Miraculous Playmates lines in particular have brought me much joy. But now they've improved even further with their recent two-pack assortments. I'm especially impressed with this Chun-Li figure from the TMNT vs Street Fighter series. Firstly, I feel like it's been a while since I've seen a Chun-Li figure at retail, and secondly, her sculpt and articulation are perfect. (And the new Star Trek figures are impressive as well so I know it's not a fluke). The only improvements I can suggest for this figure would be a ribcage cut and alternate hands. I'm excited to see what surprise properties they'll unveil next.  Let's check out Chun-Li below!

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

He-Man Animated Series - SORCERESS!

He-Man & the Masters of the Universe - Sorceress & Cosmic Falcon - Mattel 2022

As much as I enjoy Netflix's He-Man and the Masters of the Universe CGI Animated Series, I often find myself wishing that the character designs weren't quite as removed from the source material. For those who haven't seen the show, the concept is very reimagined. The core idea that instead of just Prince Adam having a transformation sequence to become He-Man, all his friends do as well. Teela transforms into Sorceress, but it's a very different Sorceress than we're used to (the traditional wise sorceress role is instead held by the spectral character Eldress). I was happy with the new concepts and storylines, but I missed a more recognizable Filmation-type Sorceress. But then this great repaint was announced and it was exactly what I wanted. And not only is the the new Teela/Sorceress character decked out in classic colors, but she also comes with the very Zoar-like Cosmic Falcon. I don't think these have a direct connection to the Netflix show, but I'm here for it either way. Let's check her out!

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Marvel Legends - MADAME HYDRA!

Marvel Legends - Controller Build-a-Figure Wave - Madame Hydra - Mattel 2022

I won't lie and pretend that the character of Madame Hydra hasn't always been confusing to me. Her alternating aliases of Madame Hydra and Viper made me think she was two separate characters for a long time. And then I assumed she was a member of the Serpent Society, which I eventually discovered she was, but her lack of powers and any reptilian traits (aside from the color green) made her inclusion odd to me. Her main claim to fame is as the leader of Hydra. But I have to admit, I always found Hydra and A.I.M. storylines boring. I want my comic enemies to be individuals with unique powers and backstories, not largely anonymous paramilitary groups. Yet somehow this character always managed to still capture my attention. It's the combination of her commanding presence, monochromatic costumes, and menacing codenames that I find so intriguing. Surprisingly this is her second Legends figure, although 10 years apart, so it is a definite improvement. Let's check out Madame Hydra below!

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Transfomers - ELITA-1!

Transformers Legacy - Deluxe Class - Elita-1 - TakaraTomy/Hasbro 2022

Female Transformers are going through a bit of a second renaissance right now. From 2015-2021 there were a ton of well-made female Transformers toys for the first time ever (I personally purchased over 60 new Transformers in this time span, not including the novelty toys and 3rd Party figures). But with the release of the Legacy Arcee this last Spring, there seems to be a shift in design aesthetic and construction. The new figures are more blocky and robotic than the organic feminine figures we had been seeing. The plastic also seems to be of a different material - thinner and more shiny. At first I was hesitant of the changes, but I'm quickly warming up. So far I have four figures: Arcee, Road Rocket, Override, and Elita One. And there are a lot more coming: Crasher, Nightbird, Shadow Striker, plus Twitch and Elita-1 (Earthspark). The only aspect of these new figures that I still struggle with is the mass of their lower legs because my brain associates the silhouette with bellbottoms or boot-cut jeans. But it's a small gripe.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Transformers - OVERRIDE!

Velocitron Speedia 500 Collection (Walmart) - Deluxe Override - Hasbro 2022

I've been waiting a long time for this figure. The character Override first appeared to US audiences in 2005's Transformers: Cybertron. She was the leader of Velocitron, the Speed Planet, a world singularly focused on racing (fyi this collection, Speedia 500, is named after a big annual race on Velocitron). Of course, like a lot of female Transformers, she has some dissappointing development origins. Mainly that in Japan she was first introduced as the male character, Nitro, both in the cartoon and in the toyline. The US production wanted some diversity, so they made her female. And honestly, I always thought her animated design looked very feminine, so I was surprised that she was the result of a gender swap. However this also explains why I never liked the original 2005 toy, which was designed as male. Override is unavoidably a big blocky character, but that original sculpt seemed exaggerated in all the wrong ways for me. Finally this new Walmart figure nails it and I'm stoked. Let's check her out below!

Monday, September 19, 2022

League of Legends - ASHE!

League of Legends - Champion Collection - Ashe - SpinMaster Toys 2022

I love a good surprise figure. I hadn't seen any information on new League of Legends products in almost a year. In fact, I believe I've only ever seen three figures in this 6" Champion Collection so far (and they have been busy shelfwarming all the Targets in my area since last Fall). The figures looked cool, but without momentum and character variety, a line won't last long in the competitive action figure market, and I assumed the line was done. But Spin Master toys is notorious for releasing toys with no advanced warning. So a couple weeks ago a connection on Instagram casually mentioned this Ashe the Frost Archer figure. She was hidden in a multi-product Amazon listing with those first three figures from last year. An old listing, but now with a new fourth product offering. I had her in hand a few days later and I'm kind of obsessed. I don't know anything about League of Legends or Ashe herself, but I love a well-designed fantasy figure, and Ashe definitely fits the bill. Let's check her out below!

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Princess of Power Masterverse - CATRA!

MOTU Princess of Power - Masterverse Wave 5 - Catra - Mattel 2022

Who would have imagined that 37 years after their television debut, the characters introduced in She-Ra: the Princess of Power would see a retail release of toys in their animated Filmation designs. Sure, collectors are very aware of the subscription-based Masters of the Universe Classics line (which released just about every She-Ra character during it's 6 year run). But for the more casual toy collector, or even a random shopper with a nostalgic heart, seeing these characters in the toy aisles is an amazing thing. They teased a She-Ra figure when the Masterverse line was first announced back in 2021 (by showing packaging designs in a presentation that included the Princess of Power logo). And I would always expect the character She-Ra to make an appearance in a MOTU toyline. But what I didn't expect was supporting POP figures of Catra, Frosta, and Shadow Weaver to be included in such short succession. This Catra is the second release and she's gorgeous. Let's check her out below!

Thursday, September 15, 2022

DC Gallery - POISON IVY!

DC Gallery - PVC Statue Series - Poison Ivy - Diamond Select Toys 2020

Poison Ivy is one of those characters that is very hit-or-miss with merchandise. I personally feel that most of her products are a miss. The interesting thing about the personality of Pamela Isley is that she exudes a sense of cold sensuality and seductiveness, but without the obvious tropes of gravity-defying cleavage or tarty makeup. Not that those things are bad, but they just seem out of character for Poison Ivy. When I first saw this DC Gallery PVC statue from Diamond Select back in 2020, I remember not giving it much thought. I (wrongly) thought her legs looked stubby and I thought the base was too large for my personal aesthetics. But then a month ago I saw her in a display case in a comic shop and was suddenly mesmerized by how good the sculpt was. She seems lost in some deep Botticelli-esque botanical ecstasy, and I can't take my eyes off her. The flower base and flowing hair create a sense of movement that makes for dynamic views from any angle. She is amazing. Let's check out Poison Ivy below!

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Fury Force - THE ROSE!

Pop Prolific: Fury Force - The Rose - HOTG/Hammer of the Gods Toys 2020

I don't usually dabble in 3rd Party art figures. But sometimes they are so well-made and fun that they are impossible to resist. And recently I tempted fate by going to a toy show that specialized in the genre of toy artistry. My favorite item of the show was this homage to G.I.Joe's Scarlett (aka The Rose) from the Fury Force line by Pop Prolific and Hammer of the Gods Toys. In my opinion, there has never been a really great licensed Scarlett figure until the very recent Super7 ReAction figure. But this Rose figure filled a void I didn't know existed: a classic looking Scarlett in the aesthetic of a vintage Masters of the Universe sculpt. I somehow never even considered these characters in a 5" scale. For so long, G.I.Joes were so locked in the 3.75" world that my brain still has trouble accepting the 6-7" Classified and Ultimates lines. But when I saw this figure, something clicked I just had to have her. And now I can't wait to see what future art toys I find. Jem would be insanely cool. Let's check out this beauty below!

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Marvel Legends - SILK!

Marvel Legends - Silk and Doctor Octopus 2-Pack - Disney Hasbro 2022

When I think about all the characters that haven't been included in the Marvel Legends line yet, I get baffled over a relatively new character getting a third figure in six short years. I love Cindy Moon. She is a great addition to the Spider-Verse that I wholeheartedly support. But when I saw this two-pack shown in a Hasbro livestream earlier this year, I quickly judged her inclusion as a waste of a slot. I have a wishlist of spider-ladies a mile long, and I already have two perfect Silk figures. Of course I pre-ordered her anyway. And in the time since, I've really come to enjoy the modern Silk comic series and also appreciate her new haircut. So I slowly came around to the idea getting a third figure representing her (slightly) updated appearance. What I wasn't expecting was the most gorgeous headsculpt I have ever seen. And that's saying a lot. She has an amazing smirk, a subtly dynamic hairsculpt, and captivating eyes. I would really be kicking myself if I hadn't purchased this one. Let's check out Silk below!

Friday, September 9, 2022

Golden Axe - TYRIS FLARE!

Golden Axe -  Tyris Flare and Blue Dragon - Storm Collectibles 2022

Very few properties have the ability to completely transport me back in time on a full wave of nostalgia. A lot of properties might remind me of a specific TV show or comic I once loved. But Golden Axe tackles all my senses. As my absolute favorite arcade game of my youth, it takes me right back to that place in time. I can hear the noises.. both from the game itself and the cacophony of arcade dings, chimes, tokens, and wild kids, I can smell the popcorn, I can feel the freezing air conditioning, and I can see those amazing characters swinging swords and mounting dragons while fighting skeletons and kicking little gnomes. I was obsessed with this game and I always played the sole female character, Tyris Flare. The funny thing was that I was also extraordinarily bad at this game. I never made it too far. So luckily I don't feel the need to buy toys of the big boss characters (because I honestly never saw them!) This Tyris Flare is my first purchase from the high-end Storm Collectibles and I love it.

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

The Book of Boba Fett - FENNEC SHAND!

Star Wars: The Black Series - Fennec Shand (Book of Boba Fett) - Hasbro 2022

The Book of Boba Fett wasn't my favorite show, but a couple things kept me tuning in. The Jaba twins and Jennifer Beals as a Twi'lek were amazing, but they all had limited screen time. Fennec Shand on the other hand was featured on every episode as Boba Fett's major domo. Her appearances in The Mandalorian intrigued me, but her presence in Boba is what made me a superfan. I already was pretty obsessed with Ming-Na Wen. She was the best part of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as Melinda May, she was the voice of Mulan (my favorite Disney movie), and she played Chun-Li is those 1990's live-action Street Fighter movies. Plus she had major roles in geeky shows like Stargate and Eureka and countless voices in animation properties ranging from Batman to Gremlins. Almost all of the iMDb credits are for the kind of shows that get a panel at SDCC. Her role as Fennec Shand is her latest contribution and it's the first time we've seen her likeness in plastic (the 1993 Chun-Li figure doesn't count).

Monday, September 5, 2022

Princess of Power Masterverse - SHE-RA!

MOTU Princess of Power - Masterverse (Deluxe) - She-Ra - Mattel 2022

Sometime around late-Spring/early-Summer 2021 Mattel announced the Masterverse line. Most of the initial product was focused on the Revelation cartoon, but when showing packaging concepts, they showed and empty She-Ra box with the Princess of Power logo. I was stoked that the Etheria characters would be seeing a retail release. And honestly, the fact that we were shown Catra and Frosta before She-Ra only fueled my excitement. But I'm glad that She-Ra was the first one to be officially released. In many ways, she is the best She-Ra figure in my collection. But in other ways, the articulation and proportions seem rushed. The joints aren't disguised at all. And the elbows, knees, and shoulders remind me of old-school Marvel Legends (i.e. they offer the expected articulation, but have a gangly feel and are very difficult to pose in a natural look. But don't get me wrong, I'm still obsessed with this figure. In fact, I can't wait to get a second one so I can display all the alternate accessories. Let's check her out!

Saturday, September 3, 2022

Transformers - ROAD ROCKET!

Velocitron Speedia 500 Collection (Walmart) - Road Rocket - Hasbro 2022

Velocitron is a planet in the Transformers Universe that is completely focused on racing. It has been featured in comics, cartoons, and toys for years. I always appreciated the Velocitron stories because they coincided with a time when female transformers were finally becoming a consistent part of the storyline... not just a token pink character here and there. My mind associates Velocitron with Nautica, Chromia, Windblade, Override, and others - and I ate those stories up. Speedia 500 is a big ceremonial race that takes place on the planet and is the focus of this Walmart-exclusive sub-line. Road Rocket was introduced in 1995 and was traditionally a male character. I tried to figure out when the gender-swap took place and I honestly can't figure it out. At some point near the end of the Road Rocket wiki page, the pronouns change to "she" without explanation. This figure uses the Legacy Arcee mold with a new head. I read a blurb that the Takara designers wanted a "female ninja" and Road Rocket fit the bill.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Marvel Legends - SPINNERET!

Marvel Legends - Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows - Spinneret - Hasbro 2022

I love that in modern comics, the love interest (civilian) characters often get powers and become superheroes. The trope is extremely common: Lois Lane, Betty Ross, Carol Ferris, Peggy Carter, Jane Foster, Gwen Stacy, etc have all been granted powers (and often solo books and toys). Mary Jane has had her fair representation in costume. She has appeared as some version of Spider-Man many times (usually in alternate timelines). But her role as Spinneret in 2016's Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows, Vol 2 was special. She suddenly had a unique costume and name, and she was a regular hero character in that ongoing series (albeit in an alternate universe). The series is centered around Spider-Man, Mary Jane, and their daughter, Anna-May (Annie) Parker. Annie has powers (she is presumably an alternate version of Mayday Parker aka MC2 Universe's Spider-Girl) and in volume two of the comic, MJ wants in on the action and gets a tech suit that grants her powers as well... as Spinneret.