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 Figures Wave 1 - 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 had a live-action CW series that ran two reasons, appearances in several animated movies and 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 drove 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!