Sunday, October 1, 2023

Toony Terrors - VAMPIRA!

NECA Toony Terrors Series 8 - Vampira (Maila Nurmi) - Neca Toys 2023

I thought I would kick off Halloween month with my favorite recent purchase, the NECA Toony Terrors Vampira. In 1954, model and actress Maila Nurmi found her niche in Hollywood and became the first late night horror host as Vampira. Her look was modelled after Snow White's Evil Queen, Dragon Lady, and Charles Addams' macabre matron (later named Morticia Addams in 1964 - who ironically by then was taking cues from Vampira). Vampira was also the character model for Maleficent in 1959. And obviously, she was major inspiration for Elvira in the 80s. However, for me Vampira was a character that only existed in static imagery. But just last month I watched Ed Wood's Plan 9 From Outer Space for the first time and was mesmerized by Maila and her famous character. My fascination with Vampira was piqued and literally the next day I found this figure. She has had very little (if any) merchandise produced but NECA and Super7 are making up for lost time. Let's check out Vampira below!

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Transformers - STRONGARM!

Transformers Legacy Evolution - Strongarm (Robots in Disguise) - Hasbro 2023

It seems like every iteration of modern Transformers animation has one token female that they elevate to A-Lister status. Transformers: Prime had blue Arcee. Transformers: Cyberverse had Windblade. War for Cybertron featured a redesigned Elita-One. And Earthspark has Twitch. But I think special commendation goes to Strongarm from Robots in Disguise. This character was very different in several ways. For starters, she was big and strong. True to her name, Strongarm was a powerhouse character in this show, a far cry from the more dainty females before and after her. She is also a rescue vehicle. Kids are always drawn to the fire, medic, and police vehicles (similar to kids always being inexplicably drawn to the Red Ranger), but female characters rarely transform into them. Finally, her headsculpt is very traditional. There is something about the framing of her face and the yellow crest on her forehead that makes her look like she was designed in the 80s along with the rest of the classic Transformers characters.

Friday, September 29, 2023

Sonic Prime - THORN ROSE!

Sonic Prime – 5” Action Figure Series - Thorn Rose - Jakks Pacific 2023

Sonic Prime is an original animated series that premiered on Netflix in December of 2022. In the storyline, Sonic accidentally destroys the Paradox Prism while fighting Dr. Eggman which warps reality and creates the Shatterverse - a multiverse containing thematic variations of his friends. One of the realities is called the Boscage Maze, a jungle world with tribal inhabitants. Thorn Rose is this world's version of Amy Rose. She is fierce protector of nature (and gives off a Poison Ivy vibe). There are three unique versions of Amy in the show: Cyborg, Pirate, and Feral. The feral Thorn Rose is the first female in the 5" line, but the cyborg Rusty Rose is already listed in Wave 2. The 2.5" also has a Rusty Rose and a pirate Batten Rouge, but there are unspecified character slots for many more releases through 2024 in both scales, so I have a feeling we might see most of the versions of Amy and Rouge eventually. The third and final season has not been released yet, so there's still time. Let's check out Thorn Rose below!

Thursday, September 28, 2023

DC Rebirth - BATWOMAN

DC Multiverse - Amazon Exclusive Rebirth 3-Pack - McFarlane Toys 2023

Ever since McFarlane Toys got the DC license in 2020, I have been hoping for a good Kate Kane Batwoman figure. I love all Bat-family characters, but for some reason Batwoman is often neglected. This is surprising considering her extremely marketable design and her media exposure. Since her (modern) debut in 2006, she has been a regular fixture in comics.  She also had as a live action television show that ran two reasons, several animated movies and TV shows, and five different video games. Well, it took three years, but we got a near perfect figure. Of course, she comes in a $70 Amazon-exclusive three-pack, but I didn't hesitate for a minute. This figure has one flaw. Her knees and lower legs are splayed in a slightly awkward position and it makes her knee joints extremely loose. I watched some YouTube videos and this seems to be a common problem. Luckily I had a bottle of Kiki "Fix Loose Joints" and a few drops fixed her up. My first time using it and I was impressed. Let's check out Batwoman below!

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

LooseCollector - RED SONJA!

Red Sonja: She-Devil With a Sword - Executive Replicas LooseCollector 2023

Red Sonja is a classic character that has remained essentially unchanged since her debut in 1973. Since then she has been a regular staple in comics (with her license being bought and sold between different publishers). But she's also appeared in television, film, novels, and games. (She desperately needs an animated appearance to round out her media presence). Despite her popularity, she has been very infrequently merchandised. This figure from LooseCollector is the first true action figure that I'm aware of, and she's pretty spectacular. The design leans toward her modern appearances in Dynamite Comics. But thankfully, her costume has been consistent since the early 70s (after a brief period where she wore a chainmail shirt and red pants). LooseCollector is an impressive manufacturer of toys and statues in the Philippines (seemingly specializing in bikini-clad warriors). So far all my purchases have been amazing. Fingers crossed for an Aeon Flux! Let's check out Red Sonja below!

Monday, September 25, 2023

Gormiti - JESSICA THE AIR LORD!

Gormiti: Lords of Nature Return - Jessica (The Air Lord) - Giochi Preziosi 2008

This toyline has been an obsession of mine for 15 years now and I'm finally getting around to posting in the last few figures. Gormiti was a 2005 toyline featuring small nature-themed beasts divided into elemental factions (similar in spirit to Battle Beasts). But by 2008, there was an animated series created and there was a conceptual shift introducing four human characters who could transform into the Lords of Nature. Jessica, the token female of the group, turns into the Lord of Air with control over all beasts in the Air faction. She had several different forms across several seasons and this toy represents her original look (with faery wings as opposed to later feathered wings). As far as I know, the only Gormiti toys released in the US were the small 2-3" unarticulated beast figures. But in Europe there have been several larger-scale articulated toylines over the years by Giochi Preziosi (including some as recent as 2020). These toys are always colorful and extremely fun. Let's check out Jessica below!

Friday, September 22, 2023

Transformers - LASER CYCLE!

Transformers Legacy Evolution - Laser Cycle (Deluxe) - Hasbro 2023

This new figure of Laser Cycle was a complete mystery to me when she was announced, but after doing some research I find her pretty interesting. Back in the mid-nineties, there were several thematic groups of characters introduced. The first was the Laser Rods in 1994 which were four hot rods: two Decepticon and two Autobot. The following year they introduced the Laser Cycles, a similar group, but motorcycles instead of hotrods. Four were planned, but only two were released: Road Rocket and Road Pig. When the 2022 Road Rocket figure was designed as a female, we assumed another of the group would be released as a repaint. But Road Pig would have been another black and red deco. So they instead chose one of the two unreleased cycle's colors. This unreleased figure was actually a new concept of Jazz in green, yellow, and white and a motorcycle vehicle mode. Since is was so un-Jazz-like, and the figure was going to be female, she simple got the name Laser Cycle. Let's check her out below!

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Transformers - SHADOW STRIKER!

Transformers Legacy Evolution - Shadow Striker (Deluxe) - Hasbro 2023

Sometimes it seems nothing is cooler than a villainous female Transformer. Modern Transformers fans are faced with an abundance of female characters. So many that it makes the history of gender arguments within the fanbase seem even more ludicrous than it did back then. But still the majority of toys we see are pastel heroes - often ultra-feminized to counterbalance the blocky robotic aesthetic. But where the heroes tend to be pink and feminine, the villains are conversely sinister and purple. Shadow Striker was a character I was unaware of until 2019's Transformers: Cyberverse show which gave us two toys of her (as well as multiple toys of Slipstream and Windblade). I assumed Shadow Striker was a new character for the show (and she kind of was), but I just learned that she was based on a 2003 exclusive retool figure sharing her same name (but looking vastly different). This new figure blends details of the two figures and finally bridges the design gap. Let's check out Shadow Striker below!

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Marvel Gallery - DAZZLER!

Marvel Gallery PVC Statues - Dazzler (Disco) - Diamond Select Toys 2020

Dazzler is a character with an interesting history. She was pitched as a joint venture between Casablanca Records and Marvel Comics in the late seventies to sell comics, cartoons, and music a'la The Monkees and The Archies. If her first concepts would have been accepted, she would be a black hero (modeled after Grace Jones) named Evelyn Free using the codename Disco Queen to fight villainy with her powers to force the truth out of people. Thank goodness her name was tweaked and her abilities changed to light-based powers, but it would be awesome to see a multiverse Grace Jones version some day. This Marvel Gallery PVC statue is my favorite piece of Dazzler merchandise in my collection. It captures great great classic disco look in a statuesque pose at a very reasonable price. The Marvel Gallery, DC Gallery, and Femme Fatales statue lines from DST are very impressive. I currently own eight and I only expect that number to grow. Let's check out Dazzler below!

Sunday, September 17, 2023

LooseCollector - TAARNA and AVIS!

Heavy Metal - Taarna (with Avis) - Executive Replicas  LooseCollector 2022

Taarna is the character from the self-titled final segment in the 1981 animated anthology film, Heavy Metal. I always thought this was an animated story based on an established character in Heavy Metal Magazine, but today I discovered that she was introduced  both on screen and in print simultaneously in Aug-Sept 1981. Additionally, I learned she was actually based on the Arzach (Arzak) comics by Moebius that featured a lone (male) character soaring on a pterosaur-like creature over a desolate fantasy landscape. The same comic inspired NausicaƤ of the Valley of the Wind (1984) and I can totally see the the similarities. I grew up seeing the classic image of Taarna riding Avis through the clouds with her sword held high (the same image on the back of the packaging below). It was on posters and t-shirts frequently and is very nostalgic to me. But I didn't see the movie until the early nineties when it started airing on MTV and Sci-Fi. It was cool the finally see this famous image in motion. (Sexy erotic 18+ motion).

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Minecraft - ALEX!

Minecraft:  - 3.25" Figures Craft-a-Block Series- Alex - Mojang/Mattel 2021

It's been a moment since I've reviewed a Minecraft toy, and it's fun to bring it back to the original female character from the franchise, Alex. I still don't know much about Minecraft (eight years since my first review of an Alex toy), but I've grown to really appreciate the blocky pixelated style which lends itself to fun toyetic action figures. But as fun as I think these toys are, they naturally get a little repetitive. Gender is often expressed with nothing more than a geometric ponytail, and I appreciate that simplicity. The one thing about this specific character's popularity in the toy lines is that she keeps getting released in various scales, and I just eat that up. This 2021 Mattel figure is my fourth Alex, but in a scale distinctly different than my previous three. Other than size, accessories, and the company producing them, the figures are comically similar, but the idea of lining them all up makes it totally worth the purchase to me. I get a bit obsessive like that. Let's check out this 3.25" Mattel Alex below!

Monday, September 11, 2023

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts - ARCEE!

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts - Beast Alliance Arcee & Cheetor - Hasbro 2023

I'm still surprised that there hasn't been a Deluxe Scale Studio Series Arcee announced for Transformers: Rise of the Beasts. Considering her amount of screentime and her prevalence in non-Studio-Series lines, I thought she'd be a foregone conclusion for a Deluxe Scale. But alas, nothing seems to be in the pipeline. In the meantime though, this Arcee from the Beast Alliance/Beast Weaponizers line is a decent stand-in. She is at a scale comparable to past Deluxe females, she has good articulation, and her robot mode looks great with sleek human-like proportions and bright colors. It's actually ironic that she has the nicest robot mode so far, but she is packaged in her motorcycle form. It's a shame she isn't on full display because I fear this set is doomed to be a shelfwarmer due to the late release date and unexciting packaging setup. Hopefully I'm wrong, but I have a good sense for these things. I think she's a great figure though and I expect anyone who buys her will be pleased. Let's check out Arcee below!

Friday, September 8, 2023

Arthur Adams Busts - RED SONJA!

Women of Dynamite - Red Sonja Resin Bust - Dynamite/Brewing Factory 2017

Red Sonja is an iconic character created in the late 70s in a burst of new Marvel solo titles helmed by female characters. Her first issue was actually dated the same month as Ms. Marvel #1 (January 1977) and followed shortly after by Spider-Woman #1. She was unique for being a lone female voice in the barbarian genre. She had a similar vibe to the various "jungle girl" characters which had been a comic staple for decades, but the swords and armor was a powerful distinction. She was based on the character Red Sonya from the 1934 story The Shadow of the Vulture, but took on a life of her own and exploded in popularity. She has had a consistent role in comics ever since her Marvel debut and even made TV, Film, and game appearances. Unfortunately she's been very sparsely merchandised. This bust based on the drawings of Arthur Adams is one of the first pieces produced. But it's a beauty. It took me forever to track her down at a decent price. Let's check out Red Sonja below!

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Astonishing X-Men - DANGER Bust!

Marvel Busts - Astonishing X-Men - Danger - Diamond Select Toys 2006

I miss the days when mini-busts were all the rage and every comic shop had a display case full of new product for sale. My first purchase was the DST Firestar in 2007. She was a new release, but I got her for 20 bucks because the comic shop was closing. But that started an avalanche of purchases and I now have over 50. The sheer number of companies that were producing them was impressive too: DC Direct, Bowen, Dynamic Forces, Gentle Giant, Diamond Select, etc. And there was even a cheaper second wave of popularity with Eaglemoss and Monogram about 5 years ago. But in the era of the early 2000 your could get mini-busts of almost any comic character. This Danger bust from DST is a great example. She is sentient embodiment of the X-Men's Danger room, originally a rage-filled villain, but eventually a teammate. Despite her cool origin and pedigree, she never gained popularity you might expect, but that didn't stop her from getting a pretty great looking mini-bust when she was at her peak.

Monday, September 4, 2023

Marvel Legends - DANGER!

Marvel Legends - Brood Queen Build-a-Figure Series - Danger - Hasbro 2007

I love re-discovering an old figure that I had previously overlooked. To be fair, I have owned this figure for years but only recently decided to review her. And I never bought her until 2014, seven years after her release. The MOTU Motherboard figure from this Summer inspired me to put a little spotlight on Danger. I love a character that is a physical (humanoid) embodiment of a previously inhuman thing or animal. Some great examples are MOTUC Lighthope and Castle Grayskullman, Mythic Legions Cowarros and Purplor, Motherboard, and of course Danger. In the pages of Astonishing X-Men in 2005, it became known that the X-Men's steadfast Danger Room had in fact gained sentience (and perhaps always been sentient). What was worse was that Professor Xavier was aware and did nothing to free or aid her. As her autonomy grew, her rage sent ripples through the mansion. She drive a student to suicide, she animated a dormant Sentinel, and wreaked havoc. Her backstory has so many interesting layers.

Saturday, September 2, 2023

Transformers - KASKADE!

Transformers Legacy Evolution - Deadeye Duel 2-Pack - Kaskade - Hasbro 2023

This Deadeye Duel Amazon-Exclusive 2-Pack is an interesting new direction for Transformers toys. There has been an explosion of female Transformers figures in recent years. In fact, these two ladies mark my 14th and 15th new release purchases of 2023 - and I know of at least 6 more on the way before the end of the year. Of course, almost all of these figures can be categorized as either classic characters or modern TV/Movie characters. But what has been largely left out of these releases has been characters from the modern IDW comics. The comics are very popular with an overwhelming number of new female characters in those pages. And with the exception of Nautica, Windblade, and Victorion, they have been largely (and shamefully) excluded from the toy world. The designs of the characters in the comics is diverse and colorful and I hope this is only the beginning of a new wave of product based off those titles. I have a lengthy wishlist. Let's check out Kaskade below!

Friday, September 1, 2023

Transformers - JAVELIN!

Transformers Legacy Evolution - Deadeye Duel 2-Pack - Javelin - Hasbro 2023

For many years now I have been browsing the Transformers comics at my lcs, but I haven't actually purchased or read one since 2015 (back when Firestar was re-introduced). One thing I've noticed is that IDW definitely doesn't shy away from female Transformers like the franchise had in the past. Every newer issue I flip through is full of new fembots that I can't keep straight. And I recently bought a large print with a collage of female Transformers (Girl Gang by Nick Roche) and I could only name a third of them without googling. This character Javelin was introduced in IDW comics in 2019, so she is brand new to me. I've learned that she is a sniper who works as a Senate guard and has ties to Nautica and Firestar. She has a great design and I love that her color palette reminds me of two non-branded fembots in recent years (Eris Kultur and Ling Yao) that I always wanted to see in the Hasbro line. Plus I'm very impressed with the smart re-use of the Bumblebee Arcee mold. Let's check out Javelin below!

Thursday, August 31, 2023

MOTU Revolution - MOTHERBOARD!

Masterverse - Mattelcreations Exc - MOTU Revolution - Motherboard - Mattel 2023

Few things are as gratifying to me as when old lore is expanded upon in a smart and creative way. Especially when it fills in some story gaps. Flashback to a young me in 80s expaining Zoar and Screeech to my younger brother. "Who's this?" "That's Zoar, a magical falcon that turns into this character, the Sorceress." "Cool. Who's this?" That's Screeech, the evil version of Zoar." "Cool. Who does Screeech turn into?" "No one. Screeech is a robot." "Oh." Flash forward to this Summer when that old dead-end storyline gets new life. Meet Motherboard, the female form of Screeech. As we saw in Revelation, Tri-Klops had formed the Cult of Motherboard, a group that worshiped technology with a religious fervor. Whiplash, Trap-Jaw, Blast-Attak, and a slew of Skelecons were in the cult as well. The upcoming second series of Netflix's MOTU series called Revolution will apparently show the cult successfully summoning Motherboard, a sort of techno-Sorceress. Information is scant so far, but I'm very excited to see her.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Boss Fight Studio - LIME CHIFFON!

World of Strawberry Shortcake - Lime Chiffon w/ Parfait - BFS 2023

In the world of geeky pop culture we are often exposed to the design theme of a group of similar characters in different color motifs. The Magical Girl genre comes to mind with Sailor Moon, Glitter Force, and Magical DoReMi. Each featuring stylistically similar characters with differentiating hair color and outfits. But action genres had it too with Power Rangers, Power Pack, and Voltron. Not to mention kid properties like Teletubbies and the Wiggles. But my very first exposure to this spectrum-of-characters concept was Strawberry Shortcake (and a few years later rather literally with Rainbow Brite). I remember rummaging through bins of donated toys in a church basement when I was about six years old and finding a slew of small Strawberry Shortcake dolls scattered around. I had never seen these characters and quickly became obsessed with finding them all and lining them up. When my sister approached and informed me they were scented, my mind was blown (and I became a fan for life). 

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Boss Fight Studio - ORANGE BLOSSOM!

World of Strawberry Shortcake - Orange Blossom w/ Marmalade - BFS 2023

One of my favorite Strawberry Shortcake characters as a kid was Orange Blossom. I was always drawn to the color orange (except I never wear it) and oranges have always been my favorite fruit. Add to that her artistic characteristics (she is often depicted with a paintbrush in hand) and her pet being a butterfly, and I was hooked (one of my many hobbies is raising butterflies and moths from eggs found in the wild - for release after metamorphosis). Plus, even as a kid I was aware of race and gender representation, or lack thereof, and I knew Orange Blossom had yet another reason to be unique in the 80s toy landscape. I'm really glad she was chosen for the first wave of the BFS Strawberry Shortcake line. Because there's always a chance for cancellation before wave two, but Orange Blossom was high on my wish list. Luckily Wave 2 has been revealed with Lemon Merinque, Raspberry Tart, Apple Dumpling, and Blueberry Muffin - so she'll have plenty of friends soon. Let's check out Orange Blossom below!

Monday, August 28, 2023

Boss Fight Studio - STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE!

World of Strawberry Shortcake - Strawberry Shortcake w/ Custard - BFS 2023

I have a great appreciation for the doll lines of the 80s. A significant portion of my toy nostalgia is based in Jem, Rainbow Brite, My Little Pony, Strawberry Shortcake, and She-Ra. But I have these OCD tendencies that make me shy away from rooted hair and soft goods clothing. It's problematic enough that the anxiety I get over maintaining a doll overshadows the actual enjoyment of owning it. Because of that, I always assumed there were huge swaths of 80s licenses that would never have representation in my collection. Sure, some of the these brands are action-figure-esque, like She-Ra and Jem. But I had assumed the majority of 80s dolls were a lost cause. But then Boss Fight Studio announced this Strawberry Shortcake line and some new doors opened up. Finally an action figure with all the design elements of the "girl toys" and the playability of the "boy toys." I can't wait to see if all my other beloved brands get similar treatment in the coming years. Let's check out Strawberry Shortcake below!

Saturday, August 26, 2023

POP Funko - STAR SAPPHIRE!

POP! Heroes #456 - Star Sapphire - NYCC / Entertainment Earth - Funko 2022

Star Sapphire is a character that has undergone a lot of characters transitions. Her costumes, human hosts, allegiances, and power sets get revamped and retconned every few years. I always enjoyed this character as a cool pink female version of Green Lantern, but I honestly never fully invested in her because I thought the costume was embarrassingly skimpy and clearly catering to the lustful male gaze. Scantily clad female superheroes, especially when their outfits defy the laws of physics, rarely make it into my collection. I had accepted that Star Sapphire would always find herself excluded. But one of the great things to come out of 2011's New52 reboot at DC was that Star Sapphire finally had a costume that both looked cool and wasn't composed of hot-pink pasties.  Aside from a couple Heroclix pieces, this NYCC Exclusive Funko Pop is the first time we've seen this costume in plastic. I hope McFarlane is taking notes and prepping a Multiverse figure as we speak. Let's check out Star Sapphire below!

Friday, August 25, 2023

Gargoyles - ELISA MAZA!

Disney's Gargoyles - Ultimate Action Figures - Elisa Maza - NECA Toys 2023

A common staple of a fantasy-based story is to have a touchpoint character to lead the audience into an unworldly tale. This character has to be both relatable and unique enough to remain interesting as a main character. This character in Disney's Gargoyles was Elisa Maza, a Detective with the 23rd precinct in Manhattan who first discovers the Gargoyles and ends up being their main contact to the human world. She is a strong and competent character who protects the Manhattan Clan from the humans who would fear them. Her Native American and African American heritage plays a role in her character development throughout the series and makes her even more interesting. I often shy away from buying action figures of plainclothes characters, but something about the sculpt and presentation of this figure drew me in and I had to get her. Plus it helps that she wore this outfit very consistently so it's pretty iconic in its simplicity. I can't wait to see what this line gives us next. Let's check out Elisa!

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Marvel Legends Vintage - ELEKTRA DAREDEVIL!

Spider-Man Legends Vintage - Elektra Natchios as Daredevil - Hasbro 2023

When I started collecting Marvel Legends (my first purchase was Captain America from Wave 1 in 2002!), I had this dream of collecting three versions of all the main heroes. I wanted a classic modern version, a 1st Appearance version, and (this is a stretch) a female version. This meant having a modern Captain America, 1st Appearance, and maybe an American Dream or Miss America. Or a modern Thing, 1st Appearance Thing, and Sharon Ventura as She-Thing. Clearly the female wishes didn't pan out at first. But over time they kind of did. I have She-Hulk, Jane Foster Thor, Mayday Spider-Girl, Pepper Pots, Shuri as Black Panther, Kate Bishop, Laura Kinney as Wolverine, etc. It's pretty impressive. But the one roadblock was always Daredevil. We have had many iterations of Matt Murdock, but there just wasn't a female version of the character. Then in early 2021, my prayers were answered. Matt Murdock was in jail, and who would step in to protect Hell's Kitchen other than Elektra Natchios. 

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Marvel Legends Vintage - SPIDER-WOMAN!

Spider-Man Legends Vintage - Jessica Drew Spider-Woman - Hasbro 2023

In the 2013-2015 timeframe, Hasbro's Marvel Legends line made some major advancements in the quality of their female figures. Prior to this, the females were all rather unfortunate-looking. They had spindly limbs and waists, with oversized heads and hands, and had an overall spider-like appearance. But then the Moonstone (2013) figure unveiled a new female sculpt and the awkward phase was over. One of the best early uses of the buck was a classic Jessica Drew Spider-Woman. So flash forward 8 years and I'm excited to see this modern redeco of the same wonderful sculpt and it brings back lots of great memories. Jessica Drew began wearing this costume in the 2020 reboot of Spider-Woman (technically volume 7), and wore it for about ten issues before reverting to her classic red. It was a brief blip in the grand scheme of things, but is easily my favorite Jessica variation and was definitely deserving of a figure (and a fun chance to see this sculpt again). Let's check out Spider-Woman below!

Friday, August 18, 2023

Transformers Earthspark - ARCEE & HASHTAG!

Transformers: Earthspark - Tacticon Mini Figures - Arcee & Hashtag - Hasbro 2023

Nine years ago I was just starting to dabble in Transformers and the Generations Arcee was a gamechanger figure for me. As the first official G1 Arcee figure, she opened the pink floodgates and nine short years later I have 20 official Arcee figures (and 12 unofficial 3rd Party figures). After being unmerchandized for her first 28 years, that is an amazing shift. Of course, with all the fancy deluxe figures, there are also a fair share of more generic offering. But I love them all no matter what. These Tacticon Mini Figures are tiny toys with simple transformations. They can stand freely, but also function as finger puppets (as shown on the packaging front). They have a quality similar to a fast food toy, but a good one. I was excited to get an Arcee and was happy she has such a great facesculpt. This is the first product of her from her Earthrise design. It's also awesome to see Hashtag merchandized. I don't know much about her but she's a cool looking character. Let's check out Arcee and Hashtag below!

Thursday, August 17, 2023

D&D Mini-Mates - SHEILA & DIANA!

Dungeons & Dragons: The Animated Series - Set 1: Heroes - Diamond Select 2023

As the releases of Diamond Select's Marvel Minimates line has slowed in recent years (due to sheer character exhaustion imo), I'm so happy to see so many other popular licenses now getting the Minimate treatment.  It started with the ThunderCats way back in 2012. But since then it's been a growing roster of classic properties like Power Rangers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, G.I.Joe, Nightmare Before Christmas, and Transformers. But my favorite of the non-Marvel properties has easily been the Dungeons & Dragons Animated Series set(s). This cartoon was an iconic, but underrated and under-merchandized staple of 80s animation. Due to the 2023 live-action D&D movie, there was a burst of popularity for the vintage show which gave us the first real action figures for these amazing characters. Between the Iron Studios statues, the Hasbro action figures, and these Minimates, I am extremely happy. Now the DST Venger statue opened the door for even more. Let's check out the D&D minimates below!

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Marvel Legends - TIGRA!

West Coast Avengers Box Set - Tigra (Greer Grant Nelson) - Hasbro 2023

Once again, I must sing the praises of the West Coast Avengers Marvel Legends box set. A little under two years ago we got a long-awaited modern figure of Tigra in the Marvel Legends Vintage line. While not the most A-list of characters, she has an iconic look and has been a regular feature in various Marvel titles since the mid-70s. The 2021 figure was beautiful and amazing, but not perfect. The color was distractingly vibrant and the hairsculpt on the calm-faced head looked good, but didn't really capture her comic look. For all we know, those design decisions might have been meant to reflect the Tigra & Dazzler (2020) animated series that was cancelled by Hulu before it was ever produced. But either way, I was satisfied, but secretly hoping to get a first appearance redeco with lighter hues and black hair with a widow's peak. While that version hasn't been made (yet), this updated figure presents her classic comic look with lighter yellow-orange fur and skin and long reddish-brown hair. She looks amazing.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Marvel Legends - MOCKINGBIRD!

West Coast Avengers Box Set - Mockingbird (Bobbi Morse) - Hasbro 2023

This West Coast Avengers boxset has been providing me more joy than I would have expected. I was never a huge fan of this team. I have picked up a few random issues here and there, but they never stuck. But since those days I have developed an immense appreciation for several of the team members on an individual basis. When I think of a team-based boxset, this is exactly the composition I would expect: a majority of female characters (because the figures regularly left unproduced for a team roster are almost always female), simple retools of a existing characters as a cost-saver, and an overall unlikely assortment (from a retail-demand perspective at least). This set was very unexpected but easily gave me my top three favorite female Legends for the year (so far). The Julia Carpenter redeco is wonderful. Same for Tigra in muted colors and a new head. But the standout of the whole set is Mockingbird in her classic domino mask and puffy sleeves. She's perfect. Let's check out Mockingbird below!

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Marvel Legends - SPIDER-WOMAN!

West Coast Avengers Box Set - Spider-Woman (Julia Carpenter) - Hasbro 2023

When we got the first modern Julia Carpenter Spider-Woman Marvel Legends figure back in 2019, I was very happy. I thought it was the best Spider-Lady figure in the line so far. But at the same time I had a hunch we would see another release of her before too long. My prediction was only partially right because I assumed we would see a purple repaint from the 1994 Iron Man animated series. But I should have guessed that a "first appearance" design was an even more likely option. The Julia Carpenter version of Spider-Woman first appeared in Secret Wars #7 (1984) wearing stark black and white spider outfit that was instantly iconic (and soon plagiarized by Peter Parker himself). By the early 90s she had joined The West Coast Avengers and become a staple character. Her popularity may boom next year due to her role in the upcoming Madame Web (2024) film played by Sydney Sweeney, so I guess an updated Julia figure was inevitable. She looks great. Lets check out Spider-Woman below!

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Transformers - AXLEGREASE!

Transformers Legacy: Evolution – Axlegrease (Deluxe Class) - Hasbro 2023

When rumors started late last year that a female Junkion figure was coming to the Transformers toy line, I was super excited. I assumed this had to be Nancy from the 1986 episode The Big Broadcast of 2006. As the only female Junkion in the original cartoon (and maybe ever?), I didn't even consider another possibility. Plus I always assumed the 2019 Siege Chromia would be retooled for Nancy. But when the official announcement finally came, I think we were all surprised two-fold by a brand-new character in a brand new Decepticon faction of Junkions. Junkions always seemed to be their own independent race with no specific allegiances (although Autobot-leaning), yet the establishment of a villainous group of Junkions somehow still made sense. I also like the concept of a new color palette of purple, navy, and silver for the bad guys. I'm assuming we'll be seeing more original characters now, but I'm hoping they find a way to get Nancy into the mix somehow too. Let's check out Axlegrease below!

Friday, August 4, 2023

Quantumania - CASSIE LANG!

Marvel Legends - Cassie Lang (Ant-Man & Wasp Quantumania BaF) - Hasbro 2023

One more glorious step towards the Young Avengers in the MCU! The Young Avengers comic is one of my favorite superhero team books of all time. In the story, the Avengers were missing and Vision initiated this failsafe protocol where a group of backup Avengers were gathered to form a replacement team. They are all young versions of the classic characters, often with some familial pedigree. Cassie Lang, the daughter of Scott Lang, joined the team as Stature. In the MCU and Disney+, there have been 8 or 9 Young Avengers characters introduced so far in unrelated projects. So, in my mind, a Young Avengers series or film is definitely coming. Cassie Lang has made a handful of MCU appearances, but it was in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania that we first met her as a young woman in a costumed role. She never adopts a codename in the movie, but in the comics she has been: Stature, Stinger, Ant-Girl, and Giant-Girl. I kind of hope she gets a new name to add to her collection. Let's check out Cassie below!

Thursday, August 3, 2023

Quantumania - WASP!

Marvel Legends - Wasp (Ant-Man & Wasp Quantumania) - Hasbro 2023

Sometimes I think I'm the only collector in the world who doesn't like metallic paint decos on my toys. Sure, in cases like Silverhawks or or Silver Surfer, it makes sense. But for the average superhero toy, I much prefer bold non-metallic colors. This Wasp figure is a great example. With MCU movie characters, I'm a bit selective. I don't need every iteration of Black Widows' costume in my collection. And honestly, Wasp's costume isn't a groundbreaking redesign in Quantumania. Yes, the helmet is sleeker and her torso patterns are more hornet-like, but the big change for me is that her coloring went from Gold and Red to bright Yellow and Blue. I love the change and now she pops so much more in my MCU display. Her overall look is suddenly more insectile too. The metallic deco and bulkier helmet on the last figure gave a distinct robotic/mechanical vibe (and was a little less threatening because of that). While this new design is like a warning that you are about to be stung. Let's check out Wasp below.

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Transformers - ARIEL!

Transformers Legacy Evolution - War Dawn Erial & Dion (SDCC) - Hasbro 2023

In the Winter of 1985, just six short weeks after we were introduced to the concept of "female Autobots" in Transformers episode The Search for Alpha Trion, we got a surprising backstory of Optimus Prime and Elita One in the episode War Dawn. In this story, the Aerialbots travel back in time and discover a peaceful Cybertron before the war between Autobots and Decepticons had begun. They meet Dion, Orion Pax, and his girlfriend Ariel (voiced by Samantha Newark, aka Jem). A surprise attack by Megatron and his Decepticon warriors catches the pacifist trio offguard and they sustain serious injuries. The Aerialbots search for help and find a young Alpha Trion in a workshop/lab trying to make defensive warrior robots as he predicted that violent conflict was inevitable. They convince him to help their wounded friends and soon we learn that Alpha Trion has completely rebuilt Orion Pax into Optimus Prime. Then he mentions that Ariel will become Elita One next (but we never see her final form).

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Marvel Legends - MONICA RAMBEAU!

Marvel Legends - Totally Awesome Hulk - Photon (The Marvels) - Hasbro 2023

The thing about The Marvels that excites me most is the further development of Monica Rambeau in the MCU. Ever since we met her mother Maria (and a young Monica) in Captain Marvel (2019), I was hoping for her full inclusion into the MCU. And by 2021, I got my wish as she appeared in WandaVision on Disney+. Initially she was unpowered and I thought she might remain a military character through S.H.I.E.L.D., but by the end of the series she had gained powers and I knew she was on her way. The upcoming film The Marvels stars Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel, Kamala Khan as Ms. Marvel, and Monica Rambeau... apparently as Photon. When Monica was introduced in 1982, she was Captain Marvel. The first female Captain Marvel actually, as Carol had only gone by Ms. Marvel and Binary by that point and Mar-vell had only died 6 months earlier, who was the only Captain Marvel before Monica. Since then, Monica has used several code names including Puslar, Spectrum, and Photon. 

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Marvel Legends - CAPTAIN MARVEL!

Marvel Legends - Secret Wars 2-Pack - Capt Marvel vs Dr Doom - Hasbro 2023

When Marvel Legends released their Firestar figure back in 2021, I had to reassess my top most wanted figure. Angelica had been my top choice for so long that I was truly lost. But I soon settled on a classic Monica Rambeau as Captain Marvel. I've always loved this costume. Even though the disco era in popular culture was past its prime by the early 80s, a lot of comic characters introduced around this time still had a certain disco vibe. And Monica's billowing sleeves, swashbuckler boots, and perfect afro hairstyle definitely fit the bill. As a young comic reader I never read a single issue with her in it. However, she was on a ton of covers and promotional material related to the Marvel 25th Anniversary and Secret Wars, so her image is infused in my youth. I didn't get to know the character until much later in NextWave and Marvel Divas. But the 2019 Captain Marvel: Monica Rambeau TPB that reprinted her early appearances reinvigorated my love of her original suit. This figure is perfect. Let's check her out below!

Friday, July 28, 2023

Gargoyles - ANGELA!

Disney's Gargoyles - Ultimate Action Figures - Angela - NECA Toys 2023

When the Demona figure was released last year in Neca's Gargoyles line, I honestly expected her to be the only female character. I know there are lot of females in the show, but Demona is the token female for the first half of the series alongside a lot of prominent males. So I expected a second female figure to be a distant dream. Angela is easily the second most popular female Gargoyle. She was introduced halfway through Season Two as the daughter of Goliath and Demona, having been raised by humans from stolen eggs in the magical realm of Avalon (where time runs differently, hence her appearing almost the same age as her mother). She's a great character that provides an interesting "outsider" perspective when she joins the Manhattan Clan. The new comics from Dynamite feature Angela on the covers a lot - enough for me to comfortably say that she is the new token female of the series. That said, there are a lot of cool characters who could also use this buck. I'm optimistic! Let's check out Angela below!

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Dungeons & Dragons - SHEILA!

Dungeons & Dragons Cartoon Classics - Sheila the Thief - Hasbro 2023

Sometimes I just have to marvel about how satisfying it is to be a toy collector right now. Especially if, like me, you are a child of the 80s with an addiction for nostalgia. Beyond the typical He-Man, She-Ra, and ThunderCats that we've been seeing for years, we currently are getting new product from Sectaurs, Silverhawks, Strawberry Shortcake, Bravestarr, M.A.S.K., and Crystar. Plus announcements for upcoming TigerSharks and Rainbow Brite product. Almost every nostalgic property seems to be getting merchandized, and I couldn't be happier. My current obsession is the Dungeons & Dragons Cartoon Classics line. These toys are a bit different because they've never been made before. And the animated source material is overshadowed by the actual D&D game. The cartoon is often scoffed at by hardcore D&D fans as a silly kiddy version of their the real D&D. A lame PR stunt to counter a growing hysteria about the game. But this was my first exposure to the word of D&D, and I adored it.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

World of Nintendo - SAMUS!

Metroid Prime 2: Echoes - Samus w/ Morph Ball - Jakks Pacific Toys 2023

Samus Aran is a very interesting character. She was introduced in 1986's Metroid on the Nintendo Entertainment System as the sole playable character, a kickass bounty hunter defeating Space Pirates, Mother Brain, X Parasites, and (duh) Metroids throughout the course of the game. Her gender is deliberately concealed until the end of the game when she loses the Power Suit and is shown in a skimpy bikini. I understand this was a different time and they were trying to make it undeniably clear that character previously presented as a man was without a doubt female, but the message of a powerful courageous woman is somewhat undermined by the pin-up style presentation presented at the end of each game. In what other game is the closing "congratulations" screen an image of the hero in their underwear? But with the exception of those brief cheesecake shots, she is indeed presented well, and a decade before other female protagonists would be leading the main gameplay. 

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Sonic - AMY ROSE!

Sonic the Hedgehog - 2.5" Series Wave 12 -  Amy Rose - Jakks Pacific 2023

It's amazing how my previously tiny Sonic the Hedgehog collection has blown up in recent years. And while we keep getting great new characters like Rouge the Bat, Cream the Rabbit, and the upcoming Blaze the Cat, the brands always seem to circle back to the pinnacle female character, Amy Rose. For the first time though, this particular 2.5" modern Amy Rose was notoriously difficult to find. She was released back in January or February but she was basically non-existent in stores near me for six months. And when I found her in Target a couple weeks ago it was a fluke and I haven't seen her since. I really appreciate the dual 4" and 2.5" Sonic scales in the Jakks line (which has been a major factor in my burgeoning Sonic shelf). It seems like there is always a new Sonic figure to be hunting down these days where previously we would have to wait years between any female releases. The 4" Blaze should supposedly be showing up soon (likely followed by a 2.5" version). Can't wait! Let's check out Amy Rose below!

Friday, July 21, 2023

Movie Maniacs - WICKED WITCH of the WEST!

Movie Maniacs - Wizard of Oz -  Wicked Witch of the West - McFarlane 2023

I really thought I was going to save this post for Halloween but I'm feeling antsy. The first time McFarlane Toys really captured my attention was with their Movie Maniacs line in the 90s. The company went from an overabundance of Spawn to a line of detailed cinematic figures (almost always with a gritty aesthetic). And these toys also expanded the prescience of toys at retail. Suddenly stores like Sam Goody, Tower Records, Suncoast Video, and FYE had significant toy sections. They had been carrying good-girl figures for a few years, but McFarlane seemed to prompt a significant expansion. I always lean toward the more playful properties in pop culture so my favorite figure was easily Edward Scissorhands. When McFarlane recently announced they were re-launching the Movie Maniacs I didn't know what to expect. But in their first batch of releases was this amazing Wicked Witch of the West from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.. This is an unarticulated PVC statue, but she is visually stunning and long overdue.

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Spidey and His Amazing Friends - ELECTRO!

Disney Jr - Spidey and His Amazing Friends - Electro - Hasbro 2022

With SDCC 2023 starting to roll out toy news in just a few hours, I thought I would do a quick review of a fun little figure I learned about at last year's show, the Spidey and His Amazing Friends Electro from Disney Jr and Hasbro. I still haven't really watched this show, but they toys seem really fun and they've had a pretty prominent place in the toy aisles of Target and Wal-Mart for nearly two years now. This is the type of toy line that I expect to last for a while and continually release slightly tweaked versions of the main characters. But whenever there is a recipe like that, there is usually the occasional new villain or supporting character added to the mix. In last year's case, that was Francine Frye as Electro. I always thought the female versions of the Sinister Six characters were very cool, but never got their chance to shine, so I'm glad Francine is being introduced to the younger generations early. I hope we get a peek at some new characters soon (Black Cat and Wasp please!). Let's check out Electro below!

Monday, July 17, 2023

Imaginext - SUPERGIRL (FLASH MOVIE)!

Imaginext - DC Super Friends - Batman & Supergirl (Flash) - Fisher-Price 2023

Imaginext never fails to surprise me with the fun character selection under their DC Super Friends banner. This toy line actually inspired me to create this whole website when I learned about the Catwoman Imaginext via a similar blog (Toyriffic) back in 2012 and I realized none of the "big" websites had mentioned her. I was able to run out and buy her the same day I learned she existed yet she was somehow off the radar of all my many toy news feeds. Since then I've become a member of several Imaginext communities and I never miss a release, but somehow this brand still surprises me eleven years after their first DC female. A couple weeks ago I posted about the new Stephanie Brown Batgirl and soon after I learned that the Sasha Calle DCU Supergirl from The Flash movie was in a new 2-pack easily found at Kohl's. I thought this movie and this reimagined Supergirl were both great. But I'm still surprised Fisher-Price green-lit her for a figure, especially with such a new sculpt. Let's check her out below!

Saturday, July 15, 2023

ThunderCats Ultimates - CHEETARA!

ThunderCats Ultimates - Series 6 - Cheetara (Toy Colors) - Super7 2023

Super7 is quickly becoming my favorite toy company. While no figure from any company is ever 100% perfect, the character selection and commitment to vintage aesthetic by Super7 thrills me more than anything else on the market today. The recent arrival of the first few Silverhawks figures followed by the announcement of TigerSharks in the future just makes me giddy. Then the surprise release of a vintage toy color variant line for their amazing ThunderCats Ultimates figures simply makes my head explode. The first Cheetara released in the Ultimates line from 2022 featured her cartoon design. I thought this figure was near perfection and it didn't even cross my mind to desire a toy design variant. (Interestingly, I never even noticed how stark the deisgn contrast was until Super7 released their ReAction variants were released in 2021). But when I saw the Ultimates variant solicited, complete with newly sculpted heads based on the 1986 LJN figure, I was instantly in love. Let's check out Cheetara below!

Friday, July 14, 2023

POP Funko - ARCEE!

POP! Movies #1374 -  Transformers: Rise of the Beasts - Arcee -  Funko 2023

I've been wishing for a Funko Pop of Arcee for a while now. A simple goal I have for a lot of my collections is to assemble a complete "Ladies of the 80s" lineup. It's fun to see which collectible line will give me that roster the fastest. Mini-Mates, Super7 ReAction, and Super7 Ultimates are all top contenders. But I think that Funko may have them all beat. So far we have She-Ra, Cheetara, Jem, Pizzazz, Scarlett, Baroness, Jun the Swan, Sorceress, Evil-Lyn, and even Thundarr's Ariel. (I don't have Rainbow Brite or Strawberry Shortcake, but they should be included). I still hope for a traditional animated pink Arcee Pop but this Transformers: The Rise of the Beasts cinematic version is a great stand-in. It's was exciting to see her on the big screen and I love how much merchandizing momentum she is getting (hopefully with a renewed focus on the classic design as well). There have been more and more G1 Transformers characters getting the Funko treatment so my fingers are crossed that second Arcee isn't far behind. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Dungeons & Dragons - SORCERESS!

Dungeons & Dragons - ReAction Figures Series 1 - Sorceress - Super7 2023

When I bought this figure last week, I has no idea who she was or what her relevancy was. I just thought she looked very cool and classic with her pink gown and two-tone cape. But later that night I took some clues from some Instagram comments and a D&D-fanatic coworker and started researching. Back in 1981 there was a painting used on several Dungeons & Dragons products (a rulebook and a basic box) featuring an unnamed sorceress woman protecting a treasure chest from a large dragon. I was never bit by the D&D bug in my youth (despite several valiant attempts), so this character is unfamiliar to me, but apparently her image is quite iconic for the longtime fans. I love that this seemingly simple figure I picked up on a whim has such a historic place in D&D lore. I love that modern toys give life to such obscure characters: Shield Maiden Sherrilyn, Lancer, and Greenlight come to mind and I adore them all the more for their unlikely existence. Let's check out the original D&D covergirl below!

Sunday, July 9, 2023

League of Legends - AKALI!

League of Legends - Champion Collection - Akali - SpinMaster Toys 2023

Yet another surprise figure from Spin Master's League of Legends Champion Collection line. Last September, a reader clued me in to the first female figure in the League of Legends 6" line, Ashe. She had shown up in a multi-figure Amazon listing at full price with three discounted shelfwarmers that we had been seeing at Target for years. And she was the hidden fourth figure that you couldn't see unless you opened the listing and selected the fourth "style option." The figure was impressive and I hoped for even more product. Then a few months ago in May I discovered the awesome Senna figure and was thrilled that this line wasn't dead as I had feared. Then to my utter surprise less than two months later a listing for this Akali figure popped up. Akali is a rogue assassin who had left the Kinkou Order and her title of Fist of the Shadow to protect her people on her own terms. I like that her design is very reminiscent of the early fighting games like Mortal Kombat and Killer Instinct. Let's check out Akali below!

Friday, July 7, 2023

Imaginext - STEPHANIE BROWN BATGIRL!

Imaginext - DC Super Friends - Batman Family Multipack - Fisher-Price 2023

I think my absolute favorite DC character is Stephanie Brown - specifically her brief stint as Batgirl from 2009-2012. She is primarily known as Spoiler, a teen vigilante introduced in 1992 hellbent of thwarting (spoiling) her father's crime - Arthur Brown, the Cluemaster. She was a regular feature (and eventual love interest) in the pages of Robin. Then after twelve years she had the notoriety of becoming the first in-canon female Robin, and promptly being killed. Luckily she didn't stay dead for long. And by 2009 she was back and took on the mantle of Batgirl when Cassandra Cain stepped down. This was when I fell in love with Steph. The comic was funny and fresh with great art and relatable stories. It had a Spider-Man sense of playfulness with the grittiness of Gotham and all the tropes of a Coming of Age storyline. It was just great. Unfortunately it was a victim of the infamous New52 reboot of all DC titles. Steph is still around as Spoiler thankfully, but her brief time in the cowl will always be special.

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Sonic - CREAM THE RABBIT!

Sonic the Hedgehog - 4" Series Wave 13 - Cream the Rabbit - Jakks Pacific 2023

There's something really special about the Sonic Universe. It's hard to pinpoint what makes them standout form other anthropomorphic properties, but I think it's the blend of a consistent style guide and the fact that the characters all have unique abilities (usually tied to their animal characteristics). In the case of Cream the Rabbit, she can flap her ears and fly. The character design is what really draws me in though, you can see any Sonic character and know the franchise it belongs to. Other big video game properties like Mario Bros and Pokemon started out like this, but over time they've morphed and evolved. That's not saying Sonic is stale, rather consistent and classic. The recent run of offerings from Jakks Pacific has been amazing. They have yet to give us any never-before-in-plastic ladies, but I think that will be remedied sooner than we think. This Cream figure is amazing and Blaze was recently announced for the next wave. Can't wait to see what is next! Let's check out Cream below!