Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Astonishing X-Men - EMMA FROST!

Marvel Legends - X-Men Ch'od BaF Wave - Emma Frost - Hasbro 2023

Emma Frost has always been a character that intrigued me. She's powerful, wicked, maternal, cold, and doesn't put up with any crap. Depending on who is writing her stories, she can be portrayed quite differently. My very first exposure to her was in the pages of Classic X-Men when she was in league with the Hellfire Club and in a constant power struggle with the other villainous members. But shortly after, I met her again in the pages of Firestar and The New Mutants where she was the headmistress of the Hellions. She was still clearly a villain, but there was a glimmer of true maternal instinct peeking out. Ten years later I was surprised to see her following in Xavier's footsteps as she and Banshee led Generation X. She still retained her sharp edges, but her allegiances had shifted and she had become infinitely more interesting. Her most recognizable look from the this era was a white blazer and pants. But I'm glad this figure has the more costume-y 2004 Astonishing X-Men update of her classic look.

Monday, May 29, 2023

Generation X - MONET ST CROIX!

Marvel Legends - X-Men Ch'od BaF Wave - Monet St. Croix - Hasbro 2023

In 2002 I moved to a city with comic book stores. All three shops in my hometown had closed in the late 90s bubble. But even before they shut their doors, I had become disenchanted with American comics. The "extreme" trends, the pricey cover gimmicks, and the endless story tie-ins just burned me out. But by 2002 I was feeling nostalgic and was curious about what I had missed out on. I dabbled with a bunch of titles, but the only true gem was Generation X. I viewed it as a 90's take on The New Mutants with fresh new characters and uniquely classic matching uniforms. These characters have been on my Marvel Legends wishlist for years, and it's amazing that the first few releases come in a wave with the first Starjammers figures, too (another longstanding team on my wishlist). Monet St. Croix is arguably the most interesting character in the series. She was shrouded in secrecy with a mysterious past and identity. Plus she's a gorgeous invulnerable powerhouse. This figure is perfect. Let's check out Monet below!

Saturday, May 27, 2023

X-Men: The Animated Series - JEAN GREY!

Marvel Legends - X-Men the Animated Series (VHS) - Jean Grey - Hasbro 2022

Of all the female characters released in the X-Men: The Animated Series Marvel Legends VHS line, I think Jean Grey benefits the most from the brighter colors and cel-shaded redeco. In my humble opinion, despite the nostalgic appeal, this costume has always been very odd; orange tights that morph into boots, a purely decorative thong, bulky shoulderpads and gauntlets, and headgear that seems neither protective, functional, nor fashionable. But somehow with the added multi-tone blue and orange details in the animated design, it looks less strange. In comics and animation, it's easy to buy in to the fantasy and suspend all disbelief with physics-defying costumes that seem impossible to remove. But when you see that same design in 3-D like this, it's harder to ignore the impracticality. Luckily the modern toy trend of re-releasing figures in cel-shaded or pixelated decos works to merge the 3-D sculpt with the 2-D source material, and sometimes the results are great. Let's check out Jean Grey below!

Friday, May 26, 2023

X-Men: The Animated Series - STORM!

Marvel Legends - X-Men the Animated Series (VHS) - Storm - Hasbro 2022

I think one of the best things about X-Men: The Animated Series is that it finally exposed Storm to the world. Sure, Ororo Munroe has been a major player in the X-Men comics for 17 years already and had several high-profile (to me at least) animation appearances in Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends and Pryde of the X-Men. But it wasn't until her 1992 television debut that kids were running around the playground impersonating her. She's a great character for emulation with her commanding voice and elemental power, and add her calm demeanor and maternal vibes and you have an all-around icon. There have been a few great attempts at creating a toy representation of 90's animated Storm, but this one is easily my favorite so far. The cel-shading and voluminous hair is a relatively simple change from that last attempt in 2019, but it makes a huge difference. The X-Men VHS line is likely over, but hopefully some Spider-ladies get this treatment, too. Let's check out animated Storm below!

Thursday, May 25, 2023

X-Men: The Animated Series - MYSTIQUE!

Marvel Legends - X-Men the Animated Series (VHS) - Mystique - Hasbro 2022

My favorite figure in the recent Marvel Legends X-Men the Animated Series VHS line is easily this Mystique release. Raven Darkholme is a amazing character in almost every iteration, but my favorite has always been the classic white sleeveless gown with the skull motif. Considering that we got a fantastic Walgreens-exclusive figure in this outfit just a few year ago, I never expected another one. And frankly, I'm surprised at how a simple repaint and a new hairpiece made such a unique variation that gives such a different vibe than the first version. Most of the Marvel Legends VHS figures I've seen so far seem to focus on the cel-shading as their primary distinction from their original releases, but Mystique got a major makeover, and I couldn't be happier. I know the line appears to be over (with focus shifted to Spider-Man), but I would be shocked if they didn't find a way to release Rogue. And hopefully she'll have the same makeover that her Mom got. Fingers crossed. Let's check out Mystique below!

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

X-Men: The Animated Series - JUBILEE!

Marvel Legends - X-Men the Animated Series (VHS) - Jubilee - Hasbro 2022

When Jubilee was first introduced in the pages of Uncanny X-Men #244 (May 1989) I wasn't too impressed. One of the first comic tropes I acknowledged as a young reader was that of a young quirky female character who always seemed shoehorned-in to embody some lacking social or fashion trends. Just four years prior we met Boom Boom in Secret Wars, and it wasn't long before when Kitty Pride was up to her hijinks as Sprite. So Jubilee just seemed like just another reimagining of the same gimmick. It wasn't until X-Men The Animated Series premiered a few years later that I actually began to view Jubilee as a unique character. She was the focal point of the first storyline. Following her being chased through the mall by Sentinels was quite an introduction for the Television audiences. Since then she's been a fan favorite and highly-demanded in the Marvel Legends line. When the Animated Series cel-shaded sub-line was unveiled, she was an obvious choice for inclusion. Let's check out Jubilee below!

Sunday, May 21, 2023

World of Nintendo - ZELDA!

Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - Zelda w/ Sheikah Slate - Jakks Pacific 2023

I haven't played a video game on a console in more than 20 years at this point. But seeing my friends play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild almost tempted me to fall off the wagon and start playing again. The game looked beautiful and really seemed to transport you into a different world. That is the major appeal of (certain) comics and movies for me; the ability to submerge me in a complex, well-thought-out world. Almost as if the environment of the story is its own character. And Breath of the wild really seemed to fit the bill. With the release last week of Tears of the Kingdom and all my friends and coworkers abuzz talking about it, I thought it was a good time to post on this recent Zelda figure from Jakks. While there is no "World of Nintendo" branding on the packaging, this Walmart wave seems to be a relaunch of the concept with Zelda and Metroid characters offered in the first assortment. Super curious to see which games and characters will be next. Let's check out Zelda below!

Thursday, May 18, 2023

MOTU Revelation - DARK-LYN!

Masterverse - Mattelcreations Exc - MOTU Revelation - Dark-Lyn - Mattel 2023

Masters of the Universe: Revelation seemed to focus a lot on character growth and transformation. Because of the time-jump in the storyline and the un-doing of Eternian power balance as we have always known it, almost every character had multiple distinct looks. This was especially true of the two token females: Teela and Evil-Lyn. When all is said and done, each of these ladies will have had three very distinct Masterverse figures (even more if you count the alternate heads), and this was only from a single season. [Spoilers for the next few sentences] Dark-Lyn is the final form of Evil-Lyn when she steals the Power of Grayskull from Skeletor (then Skelegod). I will admit this is my least favorite design of all the female characters in Revelation. I don't hate it, but it pales in comparison to the Sorceress Evil-Lyn design and the final version of Teela. Where the Skelegod upgrade was cool and colorful with big horns and green power effects, the only visual upgrade here seems to be her height and musculature.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

G.I.Joe Classified - BLUE NINJA!

G.I.Joe Classified Series (6" Line) #51 - Blue Ninjas 2-Pack - Hasbro 2023

The G.I.Joe Classified line has taken an interesting turn recently by offering original characters (or at least original versions of characters). With a seemingly endless supply of fodder from the original cartoon and toyline, I'm surprised Hasbro is already going off-script. The first inkling of this new direction was when the female H.I.S.S. Gunner was announced as a stretch goal in the 2022 G.I.Joe Haslab campaign. (Female infantry were historically rare). I was ecstatic but assumed it would be a one-time thing. But since then we've seen a 2-Pack of female Cobra Troopers and this Cobra Blue Ninjas set. What I especially love about this Ninja set is the subtle homage to Vypra, the Jinx repaint that had several releases between 1998 and 2015. This Blue Ninja seems to specifically reference the 2015 Collector's Club figure (that's sadly absent from my collection).  She's the first female Classified figure that isn't an A-Lister, but now I'm excited for the potential of other obscure additions. Let's check her out below!

Sunday, May 14, 2023


Masters of the Universe Origins - Wave 13 - Snake Teela (200x) - Mattel 2023

I like that Snake Teela has become a unique variant of the traditional Teela character. This design originally appeared in a single Second Skin episode of the 200x show where several characters were temporarily turned into Snake Men. She was likely a visual nod to the early 80's Goddess character, but she was unique in most ways apart from the green hue. The 200x Snake Teela had actual scaly skin, reptilian eyes, fangs, and a forked tongue. In 2003 there was a ToyFare Magazine exclusive repaint of Teela in this scaly form and, in my mind at least, that solidified her as a unique iteration separate from the Eternian Goddess. That said, I still kind of groaned when this was announced as the next Origins female. With so many characters unrepresented in the line, a fourth Teela wasn't the most exciting option. But the figure actually has a new torso and boots, and uses the 200x head which we've only seen once. Combine that with the distinctive green coloring and she makes for a very unique variation.

Friday, May 12, 2023

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts - NIGHTBIRD!

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts - Flex Changers Nightbird - Hasbro 2023

Nightbird was a very iconic character from my childhood. The very first time I ever saw a robotic representation of the female form was in the 1985 episode Enter the Nightbird.  Nightbird was a "female" ninja robot created by Earth scientists (and quickly stolen by the Decepticons). Gender expression has always been a hot topic in Transformers, and Nightbird being a human construct had even less of an identity. So when I originally heard that the movie Nightbird was non-binary, this made a lot of sense. And that fact that MJ Rodriguez is the voice was a stroke of genius, although that confirmed that Nightbird's cinematic presentation will be skewing female (which I love). But lately all the press refers to the character as female. I'm curious to see if it's even addressed in the movie, but either way I'm a fan. Most Nightbird movie toy designs so far are festooned with copper-colored panels that diverge too much from the classic palette, but this Flex Changer has a great classic look. Let's check out Nightbird below!

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts - ARCEE!

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

I expect that I will really enjoy Transformers: Rise of the Beasts. I just saw a new trailer before Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 two days ago, and I spied a lot more footage of Arcee and Airazor which stoked my excitement. However, the only Transformers movie I've actually liked was Bumblebee, and unfortunately Rise of the Beasts seems like quite a departure from the lower-stakes, character-driven story I loved. But if nothing else, this new movie is giving us lots of fun toys. This Beast Alliance series pairs main Autobot characters with Maximals who can transform into armor and combine. Plus the armor is interchangeable between characters. This is not the most well-done Arcee product we'll be seeing this year, but it's very playable and a lot of fun. The next release, the Beast Weaponizer Arcee, looks like the best one yet, but expect I will fully enjoy every figure on the journey. Gotta love the movie merchandizing machine. Let's check out Beast Alliance Arcee and Silverfang below!

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Titans Rebirth - RAVEN!

DC Multiverse - Titans (Beast Boy Series) - Raven - McFarlane Toys 2023

I remember being pretty young the first time I saw Raven in the pages of The New Teen Titans and being inexplicably scared of her. The funny thing was that it wasn't her hooded, shadowed-face look that spooked me, but rather her uncostumed visage with a pronounced widow's peak and stark features. My reaction made no sense, but it oddly lingered into adulthood. Her quirky revamp in the Teen Titans animated series from 2003 seemingly opened the floodgates for new interpretations of the character. And I've honestly loved every version of her since (I was particularly fond of the feathered "Black Bird of Terror" look in the New 52). This figure represents a newer look that I believe debuted in her 2018 Daughter of Darkness solo series. I love that this version blends the classic 80s look with some newer details like pink hair, prominent red medallion and belt, and "feather-cut" cloak. It's a fun modernization while still being very recognizably Raven. Let's check her out below!

Sunday, May 7, 2023

MOTU Revelation - SORCERESS!

Masterverse Wave 8 - MOTU Revelation (Netflix) - Sorceress - Mattel 2023

When Masters of the Universe: Revelation was announced I was really nervous that Sorceress would receive an unrecognizable makeover. I was never a fan of the 200x teal Egyptian look and the Netflix CGI show introduced a Sorceress that was essentially a completely reimagined character - that I liked, but not as much as I adored the original Teela-Na. Luckily the Revelation Sorceress was a faithful interpretation. Unfortunately she was not the spiritual focal point getting tons of screentime that I was expecting. And with her limited role, I truly did not expect her to get a figure in the Masterverse line. (And honestly making us wait until Wave 8 was a pretty sneaky move). But she is really a great figure - quite possibly the best Sorceress so far. The Masterverse line has honestly exceeded my expectations for character inclusion. The last female on my Revelation wishlist will apparently be in Wave 11. I won't mention names for spoiler's sake, but I'm stoked. Let's check out Sorceress below!

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

League of Legends - SENNA!

League of Legends - Champion Collection - Senna & Thresh - SpinMaster 2023

I love a surprise figure. A few times a year I find an unexpected product hiding in the recesses of the internet. Usually these are smaller-scale figures or novelty toys, very rarely collector-grade 6-7" figures. But a few days ago I was placing the League of Legends Ashe figure on my shelves and I remembered how she was a surprise figure that just showed up in a multi-product Amazon listing last September. This line from spin Master has all but disappeared from the toy aisles, but I was curious and searched anyway. To my surprise I found this amazing figure of Senna the Redeemer in a new 2-Pack on Amazon. There were only 8 left in stock so I ordered it without hesitation. In 48 short hours I had her in hand. I don't know much about League of Legends, or any game properties really, but I've really enjoyed the figures. And Senna is my favorite. She has an amazing headsculpt and the color scheme of her outfit is both simple and dynamic. Let's check out Senna the Redeemer below!

Monday, May 1, 2023

Titans Rebirth - DONNA TROY!

DC Multiverse - Titans (Beast Boy Series) - Donna Troy - McFarlane Toys 2023

Donna Troy is a very interesting character with a dynamic history. I say dynamic in the truest sense of the word as her origins are seemingly rewritten every few years. This figure exposed me to the newest incarnation from the recent Titans: Rebirth comics. The collector's card included in the packaging has a bio I never heard before. Now Donna is not even human, but rather a golem made of clay and magic as a control or safety net in case Wonder Woman would go rogue. I really like this origin, and it makes her pissed-off countenance have more resonance - like she's acknowledged that she is just a tool/weapon for the Amazons and is trying to carve out her own place in the world.. perhaps in futility. I'm totally speculating as I haven't read any recent Titans books, but I'm sticking with it. But, wow, I really like this figure. I typically ignore black-suited Donna in favor of the classic red, but this gave me a whole new appreciation for her and she'll be getting her own shelf space soon. Let's check out Donna below!