Friday, December 30, 2022

Transformers Timelines - FLAMEWAR!

Transformers Timelines - BotCon 2005 Attendee Bonus - Flamewar - Hasbro 2005

This figure was my Transformers holy grail for over 15 years. As far as I know, she was a surprise figure that attendees only learned about while at BotCon 2005. She is always listed as an "Attendee Freebie." I don't know if this means that she was actually free, or just a bonus figure attendees were allowed to purchase. This figure and the materials released with her are the first appearance of Flamewar. She is a Decepticon version of Arcee and she is both the only bad guy and the only original character made from the Energon Arcee mold. She has also made the surprising jump from a collector's-realm original character to getting major attention in wider games, comics, and toys. Because of that low-key popularity and the perceived scarceness of the toy, this figure commands the highest price among the eight mold variations. She typically hits around $400 while the next highest (Flareup) goes for around $200. Luckily I am a very patient collector and I always get a good deal eventually, even if it takes 17 years.

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Transformers Timelines - FLAREUP (FIRESTAR)!

Transformers Timelines - BotCon 2005 Souvenir 2-Pack - Flareup - Hasbro 2005

Once again, the BotCon 2005 offerings blew my mind. In addition to the large 7-figure Decent Into Evil boxset, there was a two-figure Souvenir set with Ratchet and Flareup. They came in simple unadorned polybags with separate trading cards and instantly cost bank on eBay. Flareup is a rebranding of the G1 character Firestar, one of the original members of Elita's Army introduced in The Search for Alpha Trion (1985). No toys of Firestar ever have her original name. There is, of course, the Marvel mutant Firestar (similarly merchandised by Hasbro) and also the orange cat from the popular Warriors book series, so her aliases are understandable (Flareup and Novastar so far). Firestar was always a standout for me because she embodies several characteristics that are so rarely applied to female characters. Firstly, her orange color palette is almost non-existent in my toy room, and similarly firefighter characters are so rarely female. For both those reasons and more, she is iconic. Let's check out Flareup below!

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Transformers - CHROMIA (MOONRACER)!

Transformers Timelines - BotCon Descent Into Evil Set - Chromia - Hasbro 2005

Botcon 2005 seems like one of those Epic conventions that will go down in infamy for collectors like me. I was out of the Transformers loop at the time so it was months later when I learned that this convention had three exclusive female figures released, all three of which had never been made in plastic: Flare-up (Firestar), Chromia (Moonracer), and Flamewar. This figure is clearly Moonracer from the classic episode The Search for Alpha Trion, but for some reason she is labeled as Chromia (who is typically a light blue color with a differently-shaped head). The only "Moonracer" copyright I can think of is the winged lion from Rankin and Bass. But this light seafoam green fembot with a newly-sculpted head is clearly not Chromia. This figure was included in huge Descent Into Evil 7-pack exclusive to Botcon 2005. The other female figures released at the convention were more sneakily revealed, but Chromia/Moonstar was prominently announced. Let's check out Chromia/Moonracer below!

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Transformers Movie - ARCEE!

Transformers Movie - Scout Class Arcee - Target Exclusive - Hasbro 2007

Similar to yesterday's Elita-One post, this Arcee Movie figure was a big tease when she was released. There were no fembots in the Transformers (2007) movie at all, despite these two toys leading the world to think otherwise. The interesting thing is that this Arcee was blue. Nowadays we're used to seeing the occasional oddly-colored Arcee. But back in 2007, the character was only associated with pink. (This was four years before Transformers: Prime introduced us to the most predominantly-featured Arcee to date, who was of course blue). But this figure presented a mystery color variation without context and intrigued me like crazy. Because there was no cinematic character inspiring the seemingly random design, I've always just assumed she was intended to be (a slightly darker-hued) Chromia. All the other original G1 fembots had been represented (visually at least) with this mold, except for Chromia, so this theory made the most sense to me (and still does). Let's check out the "movie" Arcee below!

Monday, December 26, 2022

Transformers Movie - ELITA-ONE!

Transformers Movie - Scout Class Elita-One - Target Exclusive - Hasbro 2007

I'm hard-pressed to think of a bigger tease than two female Transformers toys released with a huge merchandising wave preceding a movie release, only to have those characters be non-existent in the film. In 2007, there were Arcee and Elita-One figures released (both exclusive to Target) in the official movie line for the first Transformers (2007) live-action film. I was well aware ahead of time that these characters had no presence on IMDb and they weren't teased in any trailers or promotional photos, but my fingers were still crossed for a surprise cameo or post-credits scene. But alas, these figures were wholly unrelated to the movie (they wouldn't appear until the third movie in 2011 - with an entirely different design). I was bummed, but I still loved that we saw the Energon Arcee mold used one last time (the 7th and 8th redecos respectively). Plus this was the first Elita-One toy ever released. Despite being a simple repaint of Energon Arcee, the color palette is very recognizable as Elita. Let's check her out below!

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Transformers Cybertron - PARADRON MEDIC!

Transformers: Cybertron - Super Link EX-02 - Ariel Paradron Type - Takara 2004

In the October 1986 Transformers episode titled Fight or Flee, the Decepticons landed on the peaceful planet of Paradron in order to plunder the planet for its Energon resources. The planet was populated by simple male and female robots that were essentially background characters. But it was obvious to anyone viewing that the female population of Paradron were identical to Arcee, but green. Flash forward to the early 2000s when there was a green variant of the Heroes of Cybertron Arcee PVC figurine named Paradron Medic. Since then almost every mold of Arcee has been eventually re-released in a green redeco in homage to this classic episode. This Ariel Paradron Type repaint is one of the first and was released as an exclusive in Japan as part of the Toy's Dream Project which orchestrated exclusive gift cards and action figures for various companies and retailers. I honestly think this is my favorite of all the Energon Arcee releases. The two-tone cool colors really pop and stand out from the pack. 

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Transformers Cybertron - ARIEL!

Transformers: Cybertron - Super Link SC-16 - Ariel - Takara 2004

2004's CGI-animated Transformers: Energon series was known as Transformers: Super Link in Japan and had its own release of toys made by Takara. The dual-release of figures in Japan by Takara and the USA by Hasbro continues to this day, often with slight paint or name variations, and this figure is a prime example. In the both the Japanese cartoon and toyline, this Arcee is named Ariel. I believe these toys are intended to look the same, but the Takara version has a brighter pink head and paint details (as opposed to the darker coral-pink of the Hasbro release) plus a matte gray face, as opposed to the metallic silver face on Arcee. It's a relatively minor difference, yet somehow distinct enough to be a notable variation for my Energon Arcee collection. The name Ariel has history in the Transformers universe as well. The 1985 episode, War Dawn, featured a flashback introducing the young Orion Pax and Ariel (who we know as Optimus Prime and Elita-One). This was a full year before we ever met Arcee.

Friday, December 23, 2022

Transformers Energon - ARCEE!

Transformers: Energon - Energon Class Wave 3 - Arcee - Hasbro 2004

In 2004 there was a CGI cartoon named Transformers: Energon (Transformers: Superlink in Japan). It was the second chapter in the Unicron Trilogy (between Transformers: Armada and Transformers: Cybertron).  I personally never watched any of these series, but I became very aware of the toyline for this specific figure. For the first time ever, we saw a transforming Arcee that was not just a repaint of another character. It also marked the start of me paying attention to the Transformers section of the action figure aisles, and eventually developed into the full-fledged obsession I have now. Luckily the world took notice and this figure got the attention it deserved. She spawned a slew of re-releases over the next three years. I recently added the final piece to my collection. So between now and New Years, I will be posting a review of each of the eight gorgeous redecos of this iconic mold. Sorry if it gets boring, but I'm ecstatic to finally be doing this after 18 years. Let's check out Arcee below!

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Mirrorverse - MALEFICENT!

Disney Mirrorverse - Series 3 - Sleeping Beauty's Maleficent - McFarlane 2022

I thought I would always be purist when it came to the design of Maleficent. I don't think I'm alone when I say that, of all the vampy sorceress-type characters, she is the most visually iconic. Just a few years ago I was ecstatic to finally get a great representation of her in my collection with the Kingdom Hearts line from DST. It was my first Maleficent figure and I was so happy with her that I assumed it would be my last. But then McFarlane Toys announced this stylized version from the Disney Mirrorverse mobile game. She has all the classic design elements you would expect, but with added gothy details that somehow enhance her overall appeal. I love this figure. From the elaborate armor to the bat-ribbed cape, I think she's terrific. All the Mirrorverse designs I've seen have had a similar merging of cartoon simplicity and video game realism. I certainly hope they include more ladies in the future. Belle and Maleficent are fantastic and desperately need friends. Let's check out Maleficent below!

Saturday, December 17, 2022


Avatar: The Way of Water - Neytiri (Metkayina Reef) - McFarlane Toys 2022

Avatar: The Water of Water is in theatres right now but I waited too long to order tickets and everything is sold out until next Wednesday night. So in the meantime I get to live vicariously though the toys. The general gist I get from the trailers is that we get to meet another community of Na'Vi who live either in (or surrounded by) the sea. When the second wave of Avatar figures was announced, I'll admit I was a little bummed to learn we would be getting a second Neytiri instead of a new character, like Kate Winslet's Ronal for example. But the figure looks different enough in person that I appreciate her anyway. I assume this version of Neytiri represents her look when either visiting or battling the sea-Na'Vi. She's wearing a completely different outfit, her bow is new, and she has a headsculpt that is entirely different (new facial expression and hair). If I didn't know better, I could be convinced it was a new character. Still, I really hope we see future waves. Let's check out Neytiri (Metkayina Reef) below!

Friday, December 16, 2022

Avatar: The Way of Water - NEYTIRI!

Avatar: The Way of Water - Neytiri (Standard Version) - McFarlane Toys 2022

It's been thirteen long years since the first Avatar movie hit theatres and I am very excited to see the long-awaited sequel. When it comes to movies, I love being fully emersed in a new setting, where the place is almost a character in itself. Avatar gave me that in spades. The world of Pandora, the Na'Vi people, and all the flora and fauna create a magical moviegoing experience and I can't wait to experience it again. Back in 2009 I went all-in on the toylines from Mattel. I bought every character and every giant creature. At one point my dining room table was completely covered in banshees. But I admit I always thought the quality of those toys was lacking. They had announced the sequels right away so I was already fantasizing about which company would get the license and give us the improved toys I desired (my money was on NECA). But who would have guessed McFarlane would come to the rescue and give me the Neytiri I always wanted. She is wonderful. Let's check out Neytiri below!

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Marvel Legends - KATE BISHOP!

Marvel Legends - Disney+ Infinity Ultron Wave - Kate Bishop - Hasbro 2022

I can't tell you how excited I am about the Young Avengers direction that the MCU most definitely seems to be heading. With the original Avengers actors slowly aging out of the franchise (their words, not mine), the Young Avengers will make a fantastic next phase. I think anyone who has read the Original Young Avengers series, and followed it with the Children's Crusade, would be as excited as I am. So far we've met Tommy and Billy in Wandavision, America Chavez in Multiverse of Madness, Kid Loki and Sylvie in Loki, Cassie in Ant-Man, Eli in Falcon and Winter Soldier, and now Kate in Hawkeye. (Plus I'm willing to bet Yelena, Ms. Marvel and Ironheart will break canon and somehow be included). I really enjoyed Hailee Steinfeld in the role of Kate Bishop in Hawkeye. I never read the various early 2010's Hawkeye series when she was either the star or supporting character, so the show was brand new material for me and I loved it. Let's check out Kate Bishop Hawkeye below!

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Arkham City - CATWOMAN!

DC Multiverse - Arkham City (Solomon Grundy) - Catwoman - McFarlane 2022

The Arkham Series of video games injected a new life to the Batman franchise.  The Dark Knight was released in theatres in 2008 with great success and paved the way for Batman: Arkham Asylum in 2009, the first game in the Batman: Arkham series. While movies are extremely popular and arguably the best way to expose a character family to a wider audience, when it comes to merchandise, video games have much more staying power. Movie toys get a mere six months on the shelves, and maybe a nostalgic resurgence in the future, but video games (especially a successful series of games) can give us years of product and are constantly finding new audiences. I have a love/hate relationship with the Arkham City Catwoman design. I love it because it has given us so many great toys and exposed a lot of kids to a great character. This was at a time when there was a bit of a Catwoman drought as well. Plus my most-viewed post on this blog is her 2012 DC Direct figure with over 39K hits.

Monday, December 12, 2022

Sonic the Hedgehog - AMY ROSE!

Sonic the Hedgehog - Buildable Figure Figurines - Amy Rose - Just Toys 2022

Considering we just got a 4" modern Amy Rose and a 2.5" classic Amy Rose in the last year, I honestly didn't expect to see any interesting product until she eventually makes her big screen debut. But then this surprise buildable figurine series showed up at Target and I was super excited. The company is Just Toys (who previously had a logo that read as "JusToys" - I did some thorough research and determined they were the same company) and they can be found in video game toys section of Target - not the Neca/Funko wall, or even the CCG section, but rather the small area within the video games that has plush Nintendo products and odd video-game-themed homewares. Yet another area of that store to keep on my radar. The first wave of this series has five characters with interchangeable parts (I assume parts can be swapped between characters, but I only purchases Amy so I'm unsure). They are unarticulated but well made a great addition to my Sonic shelf. Let's check out Amy below!

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Power Rangers - NINJA PINK RANGER!

Power Rangers Lightning Collection - Mighty Morphin Ninja Pink - Hasbro 2022

The Ninja Rangers are an iteration of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers that I was honestly unaware of until these Lightning Collection figures were announced. I only peripherally watched the original MMPR (my friend's little brother would always be watching it when we were waiting to play Super Nintendo.. which accumulated in a surprising amount of MMPR imagery in my brain). The Ninja Rangers were a power-up in Season 3 that was technically less-powerful than their standard forms, but useful in hand-to-hand combat. I think it's pretty cool that this iteration finally visually embraced the martial arts that were a focal point of whole franchise. In 1995 there was a 5.5" action figure series as well as a 3" PVC line featuring these costumes. The modern Lightning Collection figures are exclusive to Target and include both a Kimberly and Katharine version of Ninja Pink. I only picked up Kimberly since she was released first and I don't typically display unmasked heads. Let's check out Ninja Pink below!

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Power Rangers in Space - PINK RANGER!

Power Rangers Lightning Collection - In Space Pink Ranger - Hasbro 2021 

Power Rangers: In Space was the sixth season of the American Power Rangers franchise from 1998 based on the 21st Super Sentai series, Denji Sentai Megaranger, from 1997. The series was notable to me for two things. Firstly, having a bizarre TMNT crossover episode (featuring the fifth turtle Venus de Milo!), and secondly, having a lot of very interesting female characters. The traditional Pink and Yellow Rangers were of course present, but more fascinating were the evil antics of Divatox, Rita Repulsa, and Queen Machina, the mysterious brainwashed Astronema and her constantly-changing hair, and of course her Psycho Rangers which have some of my favorite costumes in all of Super Sentai. As far as female action figure go, Power Rangers: In space has the most representation of any season. In fact, this Pink Ranger Cassie Chan marks the sixth In Space lady in my collection (seventh if you include Rita, which I do not). Now we just need Divatox. Let's check out In Space Pink below!

Friday, December 9, 2022

Power Ranger - S.P.D. A-SQUAD PINK & RED!

Power Rangers Lightning Collection - S.P.D. A-Squad Red & Pink - Hasbro 2021

Power Rangers S.P.D. is probably my least favorite of the Power Rangers franchises. It stands for Space Police Delta and is probably the most militant of all the Super Sentai iterations and seems more like a Sci-Fi series than Sentai. But the real reason I didn't like it was because it was missing the interesting design theme like dinosaurs, wild animals, mythological creatures, etc. Instead the S.P.D. Rangers were differentiated simply by color and a number on their torso. However, the toys of these characters always appeal to me. They have a certain tactical detail that stands out among my other Ranger toys. The two figures in this post area identical sculpts with different paint jobs. The A-Squad was a team of Rangers that vanished without a trace and paved the way for the B-Squad to be promoted to active duty and be the focus of the series. But I always like the darker palette's of the A-Squad costumes. The Red figure was a Fan-Channel exclusive and the Pink figure was exclusive to Gamestop.

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Power Rangers - DINO CHARGE PINK!

Power Rangers Lightning Collection - Dino Charge Pink Ranger - Hasbro 2022

Power Rangers Dino Charge (and it's sequel Dino Super Charge) both hold a very special place in my heart. I have always loved dinosaurs, I love Super Sentai, and a I love female characters. The original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series is obviously the most popular dinosaur-themed iteration of the franchise, but I was at an odd age when it first aired and the lore just wasn't strong enough to get me over the choppy effects and cheesy dialogue. When Dino Thunder came out in 2004, I was much more receptive to the genre, but there was only one female Ranger and I didn't have cable to watch it. Flash forward to 2015 and the premiere of Dino Charge: Streaming made it accessible, the special effects had 25 years of improvement over MMPR, and there were three female Rangers (including the first time Purple and Cyan Rangers (both female)). Shelby Watkins is the Triceratops-themed Pink Ranger and is a wonderful addition to the Lighting Collection. Let's check her out below!

Friday, December 2, 2022

Marvel Toybox - BLACK PANTHER!

Toybox - Marvel #34 - Black Panther (Shuri) & Namor 2-Pack - Disney 2022

Okay, now that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has been out for a few weeks I'm ready for all the surprise Shuri as Black Panther merchandise to start hitting. If they weren't trying to keep her adoption of the Black Panther mantle a secret, we would have certainly seen a Basic Series figure and Titan Hero Series already. The fact that we saw three versions of Shuri in that purple tracksuit from their brief Boston excursion is odd.  For a character that has two unique "hero" outfits, why produce her in civilian duds? This Marvel Toybox showed up on the ShopDisney site a short three days after the movie premiered and I hope is the start of a flood of new Shuri products. The Toybox line has been very impressive. This Black Panther is the ninth female Marvel figure in four short years. And for an infrequent line like this, that is an impressive number. Lately, they seem to only make MCU figures, so the the next candidate is likely She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel, or Kate Bishop. Only time will tell. Let's check out Shuri below!