Friday, March 31, 2023

Transformers - CRASHER!

Velocitron Speedia 500 Collection (Walmart) - Crasher - Hasbro 2022

Someday somebody is going to make a great Crasher toy. When I try to conjure my earlier childhood memories of this character, they are all terrifying. I remember her being tall and blocky with an expressively sinister face and a maniacal laugh. And an additional level of fright was her favorite mode of destruction - stomping. Other cartoon villains of the 80's utilized weird ray guns or elaborate traps with nets and cages. They always seemed (intentionally?) laughable and non-threatening. But stomping was a palpable and universal threat. So, to take a character with a handful of simple and iconic characteristics and repeatedly miss the mark is baffling. I was excited at the news of an official Crasher figure in the Transformers universe (as opposed to a simple homage figure). Especially since there are so many female bucks to choose from these days. But no, they focus 100% on presenting an accurate racecar mode and give us a robot form that is Crasher in palette only. Sigh.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Princess of Power Masterverse - SHADOW WEAVER!

MOTU Princess of Power - Masterverse Wave 8 - Shadow Weaver - Mattel 2023

Shadow Weaver may very well be my favorite thing to come out of the She-Ra the Princess of Power cartoon. Don't get me wrong, I loved almost everything about the show. But if I were forced to erase my memories of all characters but one, Shadow Weaver would be it. I love her wicked nature, her seemingly limitless power, and her simple iconic design. Then you add in her cool Light Spinner backstory and the revelation that she looks surprisingly like a sexy Orko, and I'm just obsessed. This Masterverse version of Shadow Weaver was unexpected but very welcome. Each of her figures manage to offer subtle improvements. For instance, this newest version has the best headsculpt and neck/cowl articulation. Her coloring is the most cartoon accurate as well. I was dreading the soft goods cloak, but I actually love it. It flows nicely and offers more posing options than the previous versions. The next few Masterverse waves seem devoid of females, so I'm glad she turned out so strong. Let's check out Shadow Weaver below!

Monday, March 27, 2023

Marvel Legends - VERTIGO!

Marvel Legends: X-Men Villains 60th Anniversary Set - Vertigo - Hasbro 2023

Vertigo is a Savage Land Mutate who first appeared in the pages of Marvel Fanfare #1 (1982). The mutates were not true mutants, but rather genetically-altered humans given powers through science. Vertigo is one of those great characters with a name, power, and costume perfectly themed for her role: dizziness. I first noticed her eight years later during the Inferno storyline in the late 80s. By that time she was a Marauder being led by Mister Sinister to massacre the Morlocks whom Sinister deemed genetically disposable. She wasn't a main character and it was hard to pick up details about her in big group scenes. Honestly I thought she was (yet another) reimagined Polaris due to her green hair. But I soon figured out her name and powers. Her story, however, is very confusing. She is one of those characters who has been killed and cloned numerous times and doesn't even have a real name. But the swirly green outfit and cool name is enough for me to be a fan. Let's check out Vertigo below!

Saturday, March 25, 2023


APCToys Night Countess (3rd Party Prime Airachnid) - APCToys 2022

The inspiration for my dour review of the Transformers: Prime Airachnid figure Thursday was this newly-produced Masterpiece-Scale "Night Countess" 3rd Party figure from APCToys. This figure succeeds in every place that the Hasbro version failed. Her sculpt has personality, dexterity, and just looks great overall. I am not a collector who just buys a single version of a character. If I did, I can imagine how people might think 3rd Party figures are harmful to brands and the toy industry. But, no, I will literally buy every version of a character I love (if I can afford it). And I think we all know that Hasbro would be very unlikely to revisit a character who has essentially been retired from Transformers media for years. So this is when a 3rd Party company can step in and offer a desperately needed new take on a figure. And I can't think of a more deserving character than Airachnid. She is sinister and vampy, which is an aesthetic I love. I also appreciate the Maleficent vibe. Let's check out Night Countess below!

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Transformers: Prime - AIRACHNID!

Transformers: Prime - Deluxe Class Series 01 - 012 Airachnid - Hasbro 2011

One of the most surprising Transformers disappointments to me was this Airachnid figure from twelve years ago. I'm often disappointed with female Transformers, but it's often for expected reasons (like repainting a male sculpt pink and expecting us to appreciate the effort). But in the case of Airachnid, they had this awesome character and gave her a totally unique sculpt, but still somehow ended up missing the mark completely. The figure is stiff and awkward and is a major aesthetic step backward from the previous Prime and Transformers: Animated ladies. This is especially shameful since the character is so intriguing. Airachnid is a former Decepticon who is now independently evil. She transforms into a helicopter, but uses the blades in a spider-like fashion to propel when in robot mode. She is a little like a reimagined Blackarachnia, but with a heavy dose of Maleficent thrown in. Oh, and she has the power to control Insecticons. A new 3rd Party figure inspired me to finally post the original. Let's check her out below!

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

A Busy Year of DC Heroines from IMAGINEXT!

An Assortment of Imaginext DC Super Friends Ladies - Fisher-Price 2022

The DC Super Friends Imaginext line from Fisher-Price is still going strong eleven years after I bought my first figure (Catwoman). I don't often post about these figures when I acquire them, but trust me I am quite the completist. There are new sculpts released occasionally. But for the most part, the line subsists on clever (and sometimes not-so-clever) re-use of existing sculpts. For instance, there is a newly sculpted Man-Bat hitting stores right now, but 99% of the figures on the shelves (including all 10 in this post) are simple redecos. The big gimmick in 2022 was the use of transparent plastics (aka "Bat-Tech"). The figures utilize light wells, often with holes cut in their capes, and accessories or playsets with pinpointed light sources to illuminate your figures from behind. It's a fun upgrade that has given us a handful of color variants (which I gladly purchase). I'm personally most excited about an upcoming Stephanie Brown redeco of Batgirl, a character who is shamefully underrepresented in plastic.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Transformers - ARCEE as CHUN-LI!

Street Fighter II x Transformers - Hot Rod (Ken) vs Arcee (Chun-Li) - Hasbro 2021

Funny story about my acquisition of this set. I was mildly intrigued at a Chun-Li version of Arcee when I first saw the solicitations way back in 2017. But when they were released years later (2019 I believe), I passed. Then as soon as she was unavailable, I suddenly wanted her, but the inflated prices on eBay were just not doable. Then in 2021 they announced a reissue (FYI, the box specifically says 2021 so I used that date on this post). When I finally saw the box in person on Black Friday 2022, I experienced sticker shock at the $75.99 price. I was at the self checkout already and a temporary (holiday) employee asked what was wrong - I was literally shocked and probably looked it. I said "oh, nothing, I just thought this was more like $49.99 but it's ringing up $75." Then the kid said "no problem, let me change that price for you." I protested, but they insisted. I used to shoplift as a kid so I'm very sensitive about any perceived theft on my part. But it was out of my hands and now I have my own discounted Chun-cee.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Dino Ranch - MIN & CLOVER!

Dino Ranch - Dino and Rider 2-Packs - Min and Clover - Jazwares Toys 2022

When I was a kid I had a true obsession with dinosaurs. I know this is a very common theme for children in modern times. But when I was young it made me a weirdo. Don't get me wrong, there were still dinosaur books and toys catered to me, but they were a very small fraction of what we see today. And everything I did see back then was factual and scientific. There weren't any fun fantastical properties until a little later with the introduction of Dino-Riders and Dinosaucers, so I just had to create my own fictional worlds with my museum-quality replica toys. When these preschool toys for the Disney+ animated series Dino Ranch started showing up early last year (initially only in CVS of all places), I was really intrigued by the property. They were quite literally a cartoony version of a concept my young brain had invented decades earlier. I wanted dinosaur pets and dinosaur steeds more than anything else in the world. I still haven't seen the show, but the nostalgic pull of these toys was impossible to resist.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Super7 ReAction - COVER GIRL!

ReAction Action Figures - G.I.Joe Wave 4 - Cover Girl - Super7 2022

The first five episodes of G.I.Joe in 1983 were a mini-series (now) known as The M.A.S.S. Device. Beyond being our introduction to the world of G.I.Joe and Cobra, and beyond being one of the fan-favorite storylines of the entire series, the first five episodes were notable for having a few unique character designs. The images of Baroness in a blue outfit with a yellow and green glasses are isolated to this mini-series. The same goes for the blue Snake-Eyes with the purple visor. But to me the most dramatic change is Cover Girl in long blonde hair and green fatigues. This design has almost no connection to the later look of short reddish-brown hair and a brown bomber jacket. If both versions didn't happen to be the drivers of the Wolverine tank I might not have realized they were the same. But I really like both variations. And surprisingly this ReAction figure is the first time we are seeing the original design in plastic. And she's perfect. Of course I also need the other version now too. Let's check out Cover Girl below!

Monday, March 13, 2023

Halo - KELLY-087!

Halo Infinite: The Spartan Collection Series 5 - Kelly-087 - Jazwares 2022

Kelly-087 was one of the first female Halo characters I was ever made aware of. I had seen imagery of Cortana and I had seen some Spartan toys in stereotypically feminine colors. But Kelly-087 was the first female character with a real name and backstory. Back then, she always wore darker gray armor and really blended in with the grimy aesthetic of Halo. But at some point her armor changed to this brighter white look. White armor seems pretty illogical in a battleground scenario, but I love the simplicity of her design and how she stands out from the other Spartans (and the others on my toy shelf specifically). Plus the chromed helmet was a nice surprise that really pops (even the graphic on the packaging looks like simple metallic paint). Granted, that improvement make the previous KAT-B20 and Spartan Palmer look a little lackluster (literally).  But an interesting tradeoff is that she doesn't included the unhelmeted head that previous figures always had, but I don't mind. Let's check out Kelly-087 below!

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Halo 12" - KELLY-087!

Halo: 12" Figures Wave 4 - Kelly-087 (With Shotgun) - Jazwares 2022

I find the Jazwares Halo line oddly exciting. I say "oddly" because I've never played the games or read any of the comics. In fact, until the recent show on Paramount Plus, I had no reference other than the toys. And the toys are very unlike the rest of my collection; they are militaristic characters with (nearly) genderless armor and not many distinguishing details. These figures look very out of place next to the spandex-clad heroes that populate my toy room, but I'm still obsessed with them. In fact, I got distracted in the middle of typing this to obsessively Google to see if there are any upcoming waves to get a excited about. FYI, there's an Alice-130 in Wave 7 of the 6" Halo line, but unfortunately no news on a Wave 5 in the 12" line. But the last three waves just showed up in stores with zero advance knowledge, so I'm always keeping my eyes peeled. Ross, Five Below, and Go Calendars were surprise first locations of the previous waves, so they could show up anywhere. Let's check out Kelly-087 below!

Thursday, March 9, 2023


Sonic the Hedgehog - 2.5" Series Wave 10 -  Rouge the Bat - Jakks Pacific 2022

In my experience, Rouge the Bat has always been one of the more obscure Sonic characters. As a non-gamer who instead monitors merchandise like a superfan, I've been aware of her since shortly after her first toy in 2005 (she debuted in Sonic Adventure 2, 2001). As the second Sonic female to be immortalized in plastic, and as one of my favorite animals, I have often proclaimed her as my favorite. But casual fans (and even some frequent players) of the Sonic franchise have looked at me blankly when I speak of her. But I just saw images of new product for the 2022 Sonic Prime show on Netflix and it looks like Rouge is a core character. Granted, her initial toys have her in a black bodysuit with a beret (and perhaps going by the name Rebel Rouge), it still looks like she will be decently featured in the toy aisles for the next year or so. This 2.5" classic Rouge essentially seems like a scaled-down version of her 2022 version (with new hands), but I think she's great. Let's check her out below!

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Nintendo - WENDY O KOOPA!

World of Nintendo - 4" Series Wave 30 - Wendy O Koopa - Jakks Pacific 2023

I just realized that Wendy O Koopa is a turtle. Sure, Bowser and all the Koopa kids have prominent turtle shells on their backs, and they rule over all the Koopas, which quite literally look like turtles, but I for some reason always thought they were dragon-type creatures. I know Koopas aren't technically turtles, same as a tanooki isn't a raccoon, but for my simple analysis, my revelation holds true. This Wendy from the 4" World of Nintendo line is the first figure that looks a little goofy to me. It doesn't help that this character's design is very odd - with potatohead-like feminine details stuck on her like an afterthought. But this larger figure somehow looks more absurd than her previous 2.5" version. I think her head looks more inflated than we are used to and her leg articulation doesn't allow for her signature ballet-like pose. Still, it's very exciting to see her in the 4" line. We still need Daisy, Toadette, Birdo, and Rosalina, but I'm fine promoting Wendy to the front of the line. Let's check out Wendy below!

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Nintendo - BIRDO!

World of Nintendo 2.5" Figures Wave 39 - Birdo - Jakks Pacific 2022

Super Mario Bros II was quite possibly my favorite game of my childhood. It stood out with the softer organic graphics, calliope-type music (mixed with the classic Mario tunes), the varied abilities in the playable characters, and especially the fact that the enemies don't instantly kill you - rather you can jump on them, heave them up, and toss them. My most tangible memories of this are fighting the Birdo bosses. Birdo was presented as a species, rather than the individual character we think of now (similar to Yoshi). The Red Birdos and Pink Birdos spat eggs through their cannon-like mouths, which you had to jump on mid-air to throw back at the boss. I can still hear that hollow "thwoop" noise as the eggs launch. I know there is a lot of discussion of Birdo's gender, but I've always viewed the pronoun inconsistencies as a figment of the Doki-Doki conversion that Nintendo wouldn't correct and instead dug in deep with an elaborate story about "he thinks he is a girl" and would "rather be called Birdetta."

Friday, March 3, 2023

The Princess Bride - PRINCESS BUTTERCUP!

The Princess Bride - Princess Buttercup (Red & Wedding) - McFarlane 2021-22

The Princess Bride is an iconic movie. It's very rare to get an all-ages original fairytale movie that is instantly timeless. Think about it. I saw the movie within a year of its release and knew right away I was partaking of a classic. Years later we even studied it in a writing class, breaking it down into all the story elements. It was pretty amazing that there was never any real merchandising. There was a Neca Dread Pirate Roberts figure in 2005 then some bobbleheads in 2012. But the real surge happened in the past five years with Funko Pops, Keychain, random vinyls, and of course this amazing line of figures from McFarlane. I have a gut feeling that the line may be over since we've had two waves with all the core characters (including variants) and no further news. But I would love another wave with Humperdinck and Miracle Max. None of the character likenesses are perfect, but as an ensemble of figures they are instantly recognizable. Let's check out Princess Buttercup (both versions) below!

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Lightyear 5" - DARBY STEEL!

Lightyear - Standard 5" Series - Space Ranger Alpha Darby Steel - Mattel 2022

One of the most surprising and enjoyable (for me at least) revelations in the movie Lightyear was the introduction of Darby Steel. I can admit that from the promotional images and early toy reveals, I completely thought this was a male character. But, no, Darby is a cranky and cantankerous ex-con who has a Suicide-Squad-style agreement to shorten her sentence by joining Izzy and the Junior Zap Patrol. For the majority of the movie she is wearing the hodgepodge dented and reclaimed armor that the rest of the resistance group are wearing (not the most visually appealing design for my collection). But by the end of the movie, she gets the full Star Command Space Ranger uniform - and thankfully she got a toy in this look. I never saw this figure in stores, but she was readily available online. Darby's specialty (i.e. criminality) in the movie was her MacGyver-like ability to turn anything into an explosion. She's so fun and unexpected for a saccharine Pixar property. Let's check out Darby Steel below!