Thursday, April 18, 2024

Three Jokers - BATGIRL (JOKERIZED)!

DC Multiverse - Batman: Three Jokers - Batgirl (Jokerized) - McFarlane 2024

McFarlane has been putting out repaint variations of their DC line since the very beginning of their license. Back then I wasn't a fan, as they were mostly slate gray "prototype" figures (that looked pretty boring displayed on a shelf IMO). But more recently they got into more in-canon repaints which added a fun new level (or obsession) for collectors. But an interesting new twist is their "Jokerized" line where popular characters across multiple themes (comic, movie, etc) are repainted in a classic purple, green, and yellow Joker palette. As far as I know, these aren't in-canon at all and are just a fun thematic variation. This Batgirl is the third release of the Three Jokers mold, which is a personal favorite that I'm happy to see released again. My favorite thing about this figure is that I'm not acknowledging her as Batgirl at all, but rather Duela Dent in a Batgirl disguise. She has masqueraded as a ton of other costumed characters over the years, so why not? Let's check out Jokerized Batgirl below!

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Nintendo - 8-BIT PRINCESS PEACH!

World of Nintendo - 2.5" Series - 8-Bit Princess Peach - Jakks Pacific 2017

In the late 80s and early 90s, Nintendo was a ridiculously huge part of my life. The main reason I don't play any video games today is because I realized at a young age how all-consuming my gaming habits become when unchecked (and it scared me). Like most of my peers, the game that started it all was Super Mario Bros on the NES. There are parts of that game that are so imprinted into my memory that I still dream about them 35 years later. And one of the most iconic visuals is that of Princess Toadstool in the final screen of the game. Seeing her was the culmination of hours of concentration and adrenaline, and holding this today today still give me a whisper of that same feeling. I wish the packaging called her Princess Toadstool instead of Peach. I know they are retroactively supposed to be the same person, but to me this red-headed princess is always a unique character. (The name Peach (in English) wasn't used until Super Mario 64 (1996)). Let's check out the 8-Bit Princess below!

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Transformers - CHROMIA!

Transformers Legacy United - Chromia (Cyberverse Universe) - Hasbro 2024

When the Cyberverse Arcee figure came out four years ago, I was certain we would be getting a Chromia in the line. All the original engineering for that new female body seemed wasteful for a single release. Plus I really liked the Chromia design. But we all know that never happened. And that Arcee became a shelfwarmer with an unfortunate trait of turning yellow over time. But the current Transformers Legacy line is intended to merge together characters from different Universes with a unified design aesthetic (I've been especially happy to see Go-Bots and Rescue Bots in a deluxe Transformers style). Well years later this Legacy line has finally given us our first Cyberverse Chromia and she looks pretty great. I still find the females in this line to be a bit shorter and blockier that I prefer, but I can't deny the great assortment of figures we've received so far. I can't wait to see who will be revealed next (I have a million ideas). Let's check out Cyberverse Chromia below!

Thursday, April 11, 2024

DreamWorks Dragons - JUN (with WU and WEI)!

DreamWorks Dragons: The Nine Realms - Jun w/ Wu & Wei - Spin Master 2022

DreamWorks Dragons is a very impressive franchise. Since the first movie came out in 2010, there has been a non-stop flow of continued media. In fourteen short years, there has been: two additional movies, six animated shorts, thirteen video games, comics, novels, theme parks, live stage shows, and three animated series totaling 223 episodes. (Plus there is a live-action movie coming in 2025). DreamWorks Dragons: The Nine Realms is the most recent addition - the series just ended in December 2023. The show featured five young Dragon Riders in modern times, 1300 years after the first film. Jun Wong is one of the main characters who is passion about myths and fantasy stories. She eventually becomes a love interest for the main character Tom. Her older brother Eugene also becomes a main character in Season 3 (of 8). These toys had almost no announcements and never really showed up in stores. Luckily I searched to see if Spin Master still had the license - and bingo! Let's check out Jun below.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

DreamWorks Dragons - ALEX (and FEATHERS)!

DreamWorks Dragons: The Nine Realms - Alex & Feathers - Spin Master 2021

DreamWorks Dragons: The Nine Realms is the most recent entry in the long legacy of the How To Train Your Dragon (2010) franchise. It's a CGI-animated television series that ran for eight seasons and 52 episodes (ending recently in December of 2023). The series follows five young Dragon Riders in modern times (the leader of the group, Tom, is a descendant of Hiccup and Astrid) roughly 1300 years after the events of the first movie. Alexandra "Alex" Gonzales is one of the core characters and is the token technology expert and hacker. I have owned this toy for about three years now but just got around to opening her now. I was surprised to read more about the character and learn that she was Hispanic. The blonde pigtails led me to assume she was another Nordic viking like Astrid, but I'm glad the new series branched out into a wide diverse world. As far as I know these toys never really hit mass retail but were readily available online (and still are). Let's check out Alex and Feathers below!

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Marvel Legends - ARMORED PSYLOCKE!

Marvel Legends - Wolverine 50th Ann 2-Pack - Lady Mandarin - Hasbro 2024

Of all the X-Men, I've always felt that Psylocke has had the most interesting and extreme design changes. The fact that she was quite literally body-swapped in the 1990 Acts of Vengeance storyline just increased her number of unique appearances. Prior to 1990, Betsy Braddock was a lavender-haired British psychic telepath. But then she was brainwashed by The Hand and body-swapped with the East Asian assassin Kwannon and refined her powers to now present as her signature "psychic knife", a pink dagger-like energy spike emanating from her fist that can scramble someone's brain. Her first appearances with her new body and powers were costumed in this Lady Mandarin battle armor. She only used that name and costume for a few issues, but they were featured on the first two covers of the iconic Jim Lee run on X-Men (issues #256-257). Even though this is my least desired Psylocke design to have in the Marvel Legends line, I can't deny how iconic it is. Let's check out Armored Psylocke below!

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts - AIRAZOR!

Transformers Deluxe Class - Rise of the Beasts - Airazor - Takara Tomy 2023

I finally gave up and ordered this figure from a 3rd Party seller. When images of the Transformers: Rise of the Beasts movie products began being leaked online early last year, the very first item I saw was this Deluxe Class Airazor. The early images of this toy made me very excited for the movie and action figures. But ironically, this excitement was ill-founded because Airazor had no robot mode in the movie and this specific toy proved very hard to find. There was a US Hasbro release in a Target-exclusive "Jungle Mission" 3-pack (with Bumblebee and Mirage), but that set was scarce and the pre-listings for the (supposedly) upcoming single-packed Hasbro release were on every major site. Then one-by-one those listings disappeared. I panicked and got the Japanese Takara Tomy version on eBay. I'm really glad I did though because this is easily my favorite Airazor figure. The coloring is bright, her head sculpt is fantastic, and her beast mode is very well designed. Let's check out Airazor below!

Monday, April 1, 2024

MAFEX - Batman: Hush - CATWOMAN!

MAFEX #123 - Batman: Hush (Jim Lee) - Catwoman - Medicom Toys 2021

Hush is probably my favorite Batman storyline of all time. It ran twelve issues from Batman #608 (2002) through Batman #619 (2003) and featured nearly all of the active bat-characters at the time with a story by Jeph Loeb and art by the one-and-only Jim Lee. Everything about it was iconic and it's amazing to see it's still being celebrated (and merchandized) twenty years later. One of the unsung side-effects of Hush though was the elevation of Catwoman's utilitarian costume to permanent status. We may take this black goggled costume for granted now, but when Hush started, Selina had been wearing it less than a year. I feel that there is always danger of a new costume fading into obscurity too soon. The Darwyn Cooke redesign was amazing, but not everyone was into the stylized art in the Catwoman title, so its future was uncertain. But there was something about seeing the costume through the filter of an industry legend like Jim Lee that got everyone on board. This MAFEX figure perfectly captures that look.

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Sonic Easter Series - AMY ROSE!

Sonic the Hedgehog 2.5" Series (Easter Wave) - Amy -  Jakks Pacific 2024

I think we can officially call the Holiday releases of the Jakks Pacific Sonic the Hedgehog figures a trend now. A surprise Christmas assortment showed up at Target back in December and sent me on a wild hunt for weeks until I found the sole female character, Classic Amy Rose in a red and white deco. There had been Advent Calendars released in 2022 and 2023 from Jakks that featured these figures (notable because some characters have unique accessories, like Tails' reindeer antlers), but these single-pack releases sported different decos. Soon after there were leaked listings of an Easter assortment, and I was excited as the prospect of this being a new seasonal trend to look forward to. This Easter deco of Amy Rose is easily the least "Eastery" of the group. The maroon and pink combo looks good, but doesn't make me think about Easter or Spring at all. I expected her to be decked out in pastels with an Easter egg deco or something.  Let's check out Amy below. Happy Easter to those who celebrate it!

Friday, March 29, 2024

Marvel Legends - HALLOWS' EVE!

Marvel Legends Vintage - Spider-Man Legends - Hallows' Eve - Hasbro 2024

Hallows' Eve was my favorite comic discovery of 2023. She was introduced as a new villain in the pages of Spider-Man the year before, but I didn't become a fan until her solo mini-series was released in TPB (appropriately during Halloween week 2023). Janine Godbe had been (an unpowered) character since the mid-nineties as the Scarlet Spider/Ben Reilly's love interest. A mere 29 years later during the Dark Web crossover event, she became the center of attention. Without spoiling too many origin details, her transformation involved the Goblin Queen, the demon S'ym, and the realm of Limbo. She now carries a bag full of traditional Halloween masks, that give her the powers and traits of that mask character. So when she dons the werewolf mask, she becomes a werewolf. But similar to The One Ring, the masks have corruptive qualities. For instance, the vampire mask threatens to completely overrun her humanity when she uses it. I think she's so cool and I can't wait to read more of her.

Thursday, March 28, 2024

MAFEX - Batman: Hush - POISON IVY!

MAFEX #198 - Batman: Hush (Jim Lee) - Poison Ivy - Medicom Toys 2023

2002 was an eventful year for me. I had graduated college the year before, but the world was in turmoil so my adult life was a little delayed. In 2002 I moved to a city, launched my career, had my first mature relationship, and once I accepted that my life was (somewhat) stable, I began resurrecting my old hobbies that I hadn't indulged since high school. I suddenly had access to comic book stores again and there was a bit of a renaissance happening. My favorite titles on the shelves that year were Darwyn Cooke's Catwoman, Mike Allred's X-Force, Olivier Coipel's Legion, and of course Jim Lee's Hush storyline in Batman. With a rogue's gallery as impressive as Batman's, it's shocking that no one had attempted a storyline that brought them all together before. Hush was special because, despite it's huge cast, each character truly got to shine. The writing, art, and complex character histories were a recipe for a perfect comic event. It was so impactful that we're still getting merchandise 20-plus years later.

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Transformers Earthspark - Elita-1!

Transformers Earthspark - 1-Step Flip Changer - Elita-1 - Hasbro 2024

I love how every few years there is a reboot of the Transformers Universe animated for television. I rarely watch all of these, but I love the repercussions they have on the toylines - especially more modern series that don't shy away from including female characters. The current incarnation is Transformers Earthspark on Paramount+ and the show features at least five female Transformers that have received toys so far (nine figures total and two more on the way). The show includes original characters like Twitch and classics like Elita-1. I'm really glad Elita-1 had been rescued from obscurity. Her single episode appearance in 1985 could have been a one-and-done flashback appearance, but thankfully she was brought back as major character in 2020 War For Cyberton series, then again in 2022 for Earthspark, and I assume her role in the upcoming film Transformers One (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) will be significant. It's safe to say Elita-1 is now a staple of the franchise. Let's check out her Flip Changer below!

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Sonic Prime - ROUGE TROOPER (THE GRIM)!

Sonic Prime - The Grim (2.5" 3-Pack) - Rouge Trooper - Jakks Pacific 2024

Sonic Prime is the most recent animated incarnation of the Sonic Universe. It airs on Netflix and has the unique gimmick of having a multiverse (the Shatterverse) that contains alternate thematic variations of all the characters we know and love. It's basically made for toy merchandising. The darkest and creepiest alternate universe (imo) is The Grim. The Grim is devoid of life and features dark robot inhabitants. This 3-Pack features the generic clones of Rouge, Knuckles, and Sonic. This is essentially a troop builder set. Each character also has a single unique (Alpha) Grim version as well featuring a slightly different design than these troopers. Alpha Grim Rouge is this singular version of Rouge (easily distinguishable by her red eyes). As far as I know, we will only be getting toys of the troopers (I saw the 5" Sonic Trooper in Target today). I would love to display an Alpha Grim Rouge flanked by two Rouge Troopers, but alas, it's just not meant to be. Let's check out Rouge Trooper below!

Friday, March 22, 2024

A.T.O.M. Alpha Teens On Machines - FIREKAT!

Action Man - A.T.O.M. (Alpha Teens On Machines) - Firekat - Hasbro 2006

When season two of Action Man: A.T.O.M. (Alpha Teens On Machines) began in 2006, the villains got really interesting. It turns out that the villainous scientist, Janus Lee, Had been working on a secret plot to obtain DNA samples of each of the Alpha Teens in order to clone them into the genetically-altered Mu-Team. Each member of the Mu-Team has the hero's DNA spliced with specific animals. In the case of Firekat, she has Lioness' DNA merged with cheetah, lion, cougar, and tiger. She can run at super-high speeds and has razorsharp claws that can slice through metal. I'm a sucker for felinoid characters so this toy is what first attracted me to this cartoon and toyline. As far as I can tell, these toys were only released in Europe (but my only proof is that I have zero memory of them in stores and current eBay listings are rarely in the US). This Firekat toy is pretty rare these days, but still easier to find than Lioness. I'm glad I finally got her though, because she's awesome. Let's check out Firekat below!

Thursday, March 21, 2024

A.T.O.M. Alpha Teens On Machines - LIONESS!

Action Man - A.T.O.M. (Alpha Teens On Machines) - Lioness - Hasbro 2006

A.T.O.M. (Alpha Teens On Machines) was a French animated television series that ran for two seasons between 2005 and 2007. It was branded under the banner of Hasbro's former 12" Action Man toyline, but the connection was loose. In fact, it had many more similarities to M.A.S.K. (which Hasbro also owns).  The series features five teenagers gifted with prototype weapons and transforming vehicles. The animation style has a unique lineweight where the characters look like they're heavily outlined in black. It's an interesting choice and I kind of like it. The show aired on Toon Disney in the US, but was never as popular here as it was in Europe. I'm fairly certain these toys were only released in the European market, but that is difficult to prove outright. Catalina Leone aka Lioness is the token female of the Alpha Teens, and predictably, her action figure is notoriously the hardest to find of the dozens of toys released. It took me years to get her. Let's check out Lioness below!

Sunday, March 17, 2024

The New Batman Adventures - BATGIRL!

The New Batman Adventures - Batgirl (Standard Edition) - McFarlane 2024

This is a figure I never would have purchased if not for the inclusion of Platinum Edition chase mixed randomly into the assortments. I'm always a completist when it comes to Bat-Family figures, so when a figure is reissued, it's almost always guaranteed that I already own the original release (in this case I had purchased several). So unless there is a significant improvement, I skip the purchase. The intent of this 2024 McFarlane Batgirl from The New Batman Adventures is a straight-up re-issue. The sculpt, articulation, accessories, and color palette is identical. The only real difference is the figure stand, the packaging, and the replica animation cel. However, in my opinion, the overall aesthetic quality is a step backward. It's not a tragic step backward, but it's not an improvement (except maybe in the durability of the plastic). Like I said, if I wasn't trying to get the purple chase, I would have skipped this purchase. But since I have her in hand I figure she was worth a comparison post. Let's check her out below!

Saturday, March 16, 2024

The New Batman Adventures - BATGIRL '66!

The New Batman Adventures - Batgirl (Platinum Edition) - McFarlane 2024

McFarlane Toys' Platinum Editions are a double-edged sword. On one hand, you can get really cool variants of your favorite characters. Oftentimes it's just a subtle repaint that isn't necessarily crucial for your collection but adds nice variety if you want to hunt one down. But on the flip side, if you do want to hunt one down, these chases can be extremely hard to come by. Interestingly, the Platinum variants that I have no interest in seem to show up everywhere. But on the scarce occasions when I want one, I usually have to resort to eBay and overpay. I received some insider information that this current TNBA wave won't be carried in many (if any) stores, but is readily available on most online shops right now. I ordered several but got no chases so I had to buy her directly from a reseller. I never would have imagined a Batgirl from The New Batman Adventures in a Batgirl '66 Yvonne Craig deco, but it's a really cool variant that I'm now obsessed with. Let's check her out below!

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Spidey and His Amazing Friends - GHOST-SPIDER!

Spidey and His Amazing Friends - 9" Supersized Ghost-Spider - Hasbro 2022

I've had this figure for years, photographed and everything, but am only getting around to posting her now. Back in 2021/2022 the new Spidey and his Amazing Friends show on Disney+ was a hit and merchandise was everywhere. A big trend in preschool toys at the time was jumbo figures of the most popular lines. Imaginext XL, Marvel Superhero Adventures, Power Rangers, and XL P.J. Masks figures could be found sporadically popping up in the toy aisles (the distribution was never consistent). And in the mix were these 9" Spidey super-sized figures. Getting Gwen was a no-brainer for me, but once I got her home and photographed her, I was already on the hunt for the 2.5" mini-figure (which I thought I would find any day) and I wanted to post them all together - and only two short years later my plans finally came together. Coincidentally these figures are showing up in stores again recently, re-issued with new packaging. But seemingly without Gwen. So the timing of this post of actually pretty perfect.

Monday, March 11, 2024

Spidey and His Amazing Friends - GHOST-SPIDER!

Spidey and His Amazing Friends - 2.5" Ghost-Spider and Bike - Hasbro 2022

Back in 2022 I was going crazy checking all my discount store chains for a few important toys. The Transformers Authentics Arcee and the G.I.Joe Basic Series Baroness were being found at stores like Family Dollar and Dollar General and I was on the hunt. I remember spending one rainy day on vacation driving up the coast and hitting close to a dozen of these stores obsessively looking for these elusive toys. (Spoiler: I eventually found them months later at FiveBelow). But in the process of hunting I discovered this discount line from Spidey and his Amazing Friends (the popular new preschool show on Disney+) featuring mini figures of the two main male heroes paired with a motorcycle. I eventually googled them and saw a Gwen figure in the mix, but only on Australian websites. Finding her became an obsession. She's rather unimpressive. She's unarticulated and sloppily painted, but I stayed vigilant and finally found her two years later in one of those same Dollar Generals. Let's check out Gwen below!

Sunday, March 10, 2024

Spidey - GHOST-SPIDER & TWIRL-E!

Spidey and his Amazing Friends - Ghost-Spider & TWIRL-E - Hasbro 2023

I'm glad the Spidey and his Amazing Friends cartoon and toyline are keeping things fresh by giving the main characters updated costumes each season. In Season 3 (I believe), Iron Man and Spidey invent these new communicator wristbands for Miles, Gwen, and himself which can activate their Web-Spinner Suits. The suits feature gold eyes, chest emblems, and other details and can enable the heroes to survive in extreme environments like inside a volcano, in outer space, and in the arctic. The suits also feature power blasters on the soles of the boots that let them fly. Like any toy line, I know the main characters need to be continually released in every assortment. I'm just really glad the source material features aesthetic designs that intrigue me enough to purchase Ghost-Spider again. The addition of her sidekick Spider-Bot TWIRL-E is just icing on the cake. I find this toy line to a be a lot of fun and I'm always excited to see who will be made next (Squirrel Girl and White Tiger please!) 

Friday, March 8, 2024

Disney Power Icons - GHOST-SPIDER!

Marvel Power Icons (Talking Action Figures) - Ghost-Spider - Disney 2023

I've been waiting for a female character in the Marvel Power Icons since they first started showing up in Disney Stores years ago. I know Marvel is inundated with A-List male characters so I usually don't get my hopes up too high for a female character early in the line. But that patience paid off because Ghost-Spider was finally released this past Fall and she's pretty great. The Power Icons line features well-articulated figures in a 9-10" scale with electronic features. Ghost-Spider has light-up eyes and a talking feature. And while not officially branded for the Spider-Verse movies, Gwen comes with a small unarticulated animation-style Spider-Ham attached to her (removable) backpack. Since Disney Stores are few and far between these days, the ShopDisney webstore is your best bet to get her (currently clearanced). The line seems to have slowed down significantly, but I would hope to see a Black Widow and Captain Marvel before the end. Fingers Crossed! Let's check out Ghost-Spider below!

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Animorphs - RACHEL/LION!

Transformers Animorphs Deluxe - Series 01 - Rachel/Lion - Hasbro 1998

I think the biggest trend of the late 90s that I couldn't get behind was Animorphs. In five short years there were 54 books plus an assortment of ten companion books. They featured kids caught up in an alien invasion of body-snatching parasites (animal bodies to be specific) who are granted the power to take the form and abilities of any animal they touch for two hours. I won't lie, I would have been all over this concept as a kid. But alas, I was in my college years and way too cool for toys and YA adventures (that wouldn't happen until after graduation). A television series was made and ran for two seasons from 1998-1999 on Nickelodeon. The associated Hasbro toyline shared a lot of aesthetics and engineering with the Beast Wars lines on the shelves at the time, so a decision was made to have the Animorphs line under the Transformers banner, despite having no continuity overlap. The toys are.. interesting. They are clunky and a bit awkward, but definitely have a  quirky late-90s feel. Let's check out Rachel!

Sunday, March 3, 2024

Sonic Prime - BLACK ROSE!

Sonic Prime – 5” Action Figures Wave 3 - Black Rose - Jakks Pacific 2023

This has been crazy years for Amy Rose. This figure is her seventh in the last twelve months. (And there is possibly another coming out shortly, but no photos yet to know for sure if it's new). The 2022 Sonic: Prime series on Netflix played a big part in this Amy boom. The series uses a multiverse plot device wherein differently-themed versions of the main characters exist in each area of the "Shatterverse." This figure is the third variation of Amy we've gotten from Jakks so far - this time in her pirate motif from the No Place dimension. I don't normally love collecting "costumey" versions of classic characters, but something about these brings me joy. I just hope they play catch-up and give us more versions of Rouge. There will be a 5" Batten Rouge in Wave 4, but I greedily want them all. And I feel like any day we'll hear more news about the Sonic 3 movie and I'm hoping for some female characters finally. But in the meantime the Shatterverse variants are keeping me busy. Let's check out Black Rose below!

Friday, March 1, 2024

Flashpoint - WONDER WOMAN!

DC Multiverse Gold Label - Flashpoint Wonder Woman - McFarlane Toys 2023

I'm not always a fan of unique story-specific character designs. The way I display my collection is grouped by character and costume. I find it very aesthetically pleasing to see that color blocking on my shelves. So a one-off costume that strays pretty drastically from the classic look will rarely make the cut. But something about this Flashpoint Wonder Woman always caught my eye. At a glance, I always appreciate when a warrior actually wears armor. I know us comic fans perpetually overlook this, but a hero marching around in a glorified swimsuit isn't very logical, even if they're nearly invulnerable. I also appreciate historic themes so I find her Romanesque helmet very appealing. Her first DC Direct figure came out in 2011 and I always regretting not getting her. But this unexpected McFarlane figure certainly scratches that decade-old itch. Also notable is that this is a murderous evil version of Diana. The animated movie of this story was especially brutal. Let's check out Flashpoint Wonder Woman below.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Aquaman Lost Kingdom 12" - MERA!

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom - 12" Action Figures - Mera - Spin Master 2023

When I first saw blurry leaked images of this 12" Spin Master Mera from the Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom line, I thought she surely must be a custom (there's a big community for customizers of this scale). I thought she couldn't possibly be real because the 12" Mattel Mera from the the first movie (five years ago) is still on the shelves of discount stores like Big Lots and Ollies. Plus the rumors were that Mera's character would be largely cut from the movie (she wasn't). But she is indeed real, although seemingly shortpacked and more scarce than the other characters in the line. I'm surprised at how much I like this figure though. She looks very different from the 2018 version and she just really pops on my shelves. Her bodysuit has a metallic/opalescent quality that I love in person, but was murder to photograph. I ended up having to use flash photography, which I typically avoid. The sculpt and proportions are really well done too. I think this is the best Spin Master 12" female so far. Let's check her out!

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Aquaman Lost Kingdom 3.75" - MERA!

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom - 3.75" Action Figures - Mera - Spin Master 2023

I was unable to get to the theatres to see Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom back in December. I understand that a release date like December 22nd is considered a prime theatrical slot, but I can never swing it with holiday hoopla. Anyway, it was released streaming today on Max and I was excited to finally dive in. I didn't expect it to be mindblowing, and it wasn't, but I did enjoy it. There were reports in the last year or so that Mera's role was going to be completely edited out, but those were unfounded and she's in a decent number of scenes, although not a significant role. The Spin Master toylines still included her, but McFarlane left her out. Regardless of the public opinion of the actress, Mera herself is a very cool character and I love any toy representation of her. Although considering the social drama and the film itself, I'm surprised they didn't merchandise Atlanna and give us a new Atlantean character for our collections. Let's check out the 3.75" scale Mera from Spin Master!

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Spidey and His Amazing Friends - BLACK CAT!

Disney Jr - Spidey and His Amazing Friends - Black Cat - Hasbro 2024

I'm very happy to see that Spidey and His Amazing Friends is still going strong since its Disney+ debut in 2021. The Spider-Man universe is fun and colorful with a diverse roster of characters that lends itself nicely to preschool programming. It's no surprise that the young audiences have embraced the show. As a collector, I've always been a fan of preschool toy properties. Action figures geared towards young kids existed in my youth, but they were scarce and nothing like we see today. My excitement over Imaginext (and the lack of collector-level content online) was a major inspiration for this webpage. Marvel has made several attempts to tap into the preschool market over the years (Marvel Superhero Squad and Marvel Superhero Adventures notably), but this Spidey line seems to have more momentum. This Black Cat is already the 6th female figure in the line, which is a rarity in a genre still plagued by the single-token-female trope). Plus I suspect there will be more. Let's check out Black Cat below!

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Halo - LINDA-058!

Halo: The Spartan Collection Series 6 - Linda-058 - Jazwares 2022

I'm finally playing catch-up and posting my backlog of Jazwares Halo figures (this is the last one). I first learned of Linda-058 when she got a figure in the first wave of the Mattel Halo line in 2016. My initial reaction wasn't a great one. I thought her helmet with the side-scopes and weird goggle-type apparatus looked goofy - like Johnny 5 from Short Circuit. But I've grown to really appreciate her since. The copper visor and brown armor is now a really appealing color combination to me, and the name Linda always has a certain interesting duality. I was the kid who was buds with my gradeschool lunch ladies (Nancy and Linda). But in my college years I was in the punk scene and the song Linda Linda by The Blue Hearts was a favorite. Plus I'm currently obsessed with the teen girl punk group The Linda Lindas (currently touring with Green Day and Smashing Pumpkins). So "Linda" used to be an old lady name to me, but now it's kind of kickass. And Linda-058 benefits from that street cred. Let's check her out below!

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Halo - ALICE-130!

Halo: The Spartan Collection Series 7 - Alice-130 w/ Accessories - Jazwares 2023

One of the reasons I avoided collecting toys from Halo for so long was because of characters like Alice-130. I love when there is a female character who exhibits masculine traits, or at least doesn't exaggerate their feminine qualities just for the sake of gender contrast. (Zarya from Overwatch was one of my favorite toys from 2019 and is a great example of 'female masculinity' in toys (to quote Halberstam)). But on the flip side, when someone has to tell you a character is female, and you still aren't really sure, the appeal for me gets lost. Most early Halo females had this effect on me. They mostly looked indistinguishable from the males, and Alice-130 always stood out because she had a clearly gendered name, but seemingly male armor mimicking male musculature. Embarrassingly, it took a bright pink Spartan to inspire my first purchase (the exact type of exaggerated femininity I claim to dislike). But she was the gateway Halo for me and now I'm hooked, even with Alice-130. Let's check her out!

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Halo - COMMANDER AGRYNA!

Halo: The Spartan Collection Series 8 - Commander Agryna - Jazwares 2023

I don't know what it is about Halo that keeps drawing me in. I normally avoid video game properties, especially over-masculine militant games. But I think the fact that there are actually so many female characters thriving in this chaotic and unforgiving environment highlights the feminine/masculine contrast and makes them all the more appealing. Plus there is the toyetic quality when assembling all the small variations of armor that scratches some OCD collector's itch I've always had. Despite knowing next to nothing about the Halo property, collecting these toys gives me a similar joy to Power Rangers or team building in Marvel Legends. This figure of Commander Agryna is especially appealing to me because she is so new. She first appeared in late 2021 in Halo Infinite: Season One, and therefore has never been merchandized before. She also has unique colored armor (with a cool bumblebee insignia on her chest) and she is the first black female in any of the toylines (that I'm aware of). Let's check her out below!

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Transformers Earthspark - TWITCH!

Transformers Earthspark - 1-Step Flip Changer - Terran Twitch - Hasbro 2023

It's funny to think how I used to avoid collecting Transformers because there we so few female figures being made. Prior to 2014, there were barely any. But then the Generations Arcee and Chromia were released and the floodgates opened. Just last week I was in a well-stocked Walmart and I saw figures of Arcee, Airazor, Nightbird, Elita-One, Twitch, Skywarp, Hashtag, Windblade, Strongarm, Laser Cycle, and Shadow Striker. That is ELEVEN different characters with toys on the shelves simultaneously. And that's not even counting the same characters with multiple versions. Like four different figures of Arcee and three of Twitch. When you have this kind of abundance, you are naturally going to get figures in the less-impressive kid-oriented lines like the Tacticons or these 1-Step Flip Changers. While these aren't the most sought-after toys for collectors, I really enjoy the explosion of females in this historically-exclusionary genre, so I buy every last figure in support (especially the new characters like Twitch).

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Nintendo - TOADETTE!

World of Nintendo - 4" Series Wave 36 - Toadette - Jakks Pacific 2024

I read recently that Jakks Pacific made a statement years ago that their intention was to release every Super Mario character in both their 2.5" and 4" scale lines. This thrills me. I can never decide which scale I like better with the Nintendo line, but currently the 2.5" line has significantly more female characters. Rosalina, Birdo, Princess Toadstool, Daisy, and until this release, Toadette, have been missing from the 4" line. The only 4" figure not in the 2.5" line so far is Cat Peach. (Note: Daisy will be in the next 4" wave supposedly. There are blurry pics). This is also amusing because Jakks does the exact opposite with the Sonic lines. The 4" Sonic line is robust with female characters, but the 2.5" is lacking. Toadette was created in 2003 to be a teammate for Toad in Mario Kart: Double Dash wherein every character has another rider teamed with them. Since those simple beginnings she has appeared in more than 40 games and has become quite the icon. Let's check out this 4" Toadette figure below!

Friday, February 16, 2024

The Spiderwick Chronicles - SPRITES!

McDonalds Happy Meal - The Spiderwick Chronicles - Sprites - McDonalds 2008

The Spiderwick Chronicles are a series of five children's fantasy books by Holly Black written between 2003-2004 (with an additional six tie-in books published through 2009). I really appreciate when faerie lore is taken seriously. I grew up poring over the creepy encyclopedic Faeries by Brian Froud and therefore have a healthy awe and fear of the fey. Ted Naifeh's Courtney Crumrin series epitomizes the dark and mysterious faerie aesthetic I love. And coincidentally I discovered Holly Black when Ted illustrated her Good Neighbors trilogy. She clearly carries the same respect for the genre that I do. I immediately began reading The Spiderwick Chronicles and really enjoyed it. The movie adaptation had come out a few years prior in 2008, but I hadn't seen it. When I did, I was predictably disappointed. I find that big studios often miss out on the nuances that make these properties so great. In this case, the movie started great, with a slow creeping discovery of a magical world under our noses. I loved the atmosphere.

Monday, February 12, 2024

Fury Force - ROCKET!

Pop Prolific: Fury Force - Rocket - HOTG/Hammer of the Gods Toys 2020

One thing I really like about this hobby is how you often find whole communities with a shared aesthetic. And since a lot of us are of a certain age, that aesthetic often focuses on nostalgia and the vintage toys of our youths. The big companies have clearly acknowledged and embraced this. A large percentage of the toy aisles these days are vintage homage lines or straight-up re-releases of original toys. But this trend truly started in the art toy market. It was these creative trailblazers that were molding old He-Man, G.I.Joe, and Star Wars figures years before we knew we needed them. There are tons of artists and small companies in this market, but one name that has especially caught my eye is Hammer of the Gods and their homages to classic 80s properties in vintage MOTU-esque style. I picked up this Rocket figure (definitely not Cover Girl) many years ago on the same day I bought Rose, but I'm only getting around to posting her now. Plus I have a third I will photogaph soon. Let's check out The Rocket below!

Sunday, February 11, 2024

The New Adventures of Batman - BATGIRL!

Batman '66: The New Adventures of Batman - Batgirl (Platinum) - McFarlane 2024

I have a love-hate relationship with McFarlane Toys' "Platinum Edition" chase figures. On one hand, I love variety and the chance to get a cool character in an alternate deco. On the other hand, however, it seems like every time I really want one of these variants, they are torturously elusive. This Batgirl figure from The New Adventures of Batman subline of the popular Batman '66 series is a simple paint redeco in her 1st Appearance (Carmine Infantino) comic look. There has always been debate on whether Barbara Gordon was a comic or television character first. In truth, both versions were likely developed at the same time - with the comic debut in January of 1967 and the television debut in September 1967. So having a black-suited variant of Batgirl in this line completes the trifecta of her costumes from the late 60s (Comic Black in Jan '67, TV Purple in Sept '67, and Cartoon Gray in Sept '68). I spent two whole days last week hitting eight Gamestops and driving over 150 miles until I found her.

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Power Rangers - BEAST MORPHERS YELLOW!

Power Rangers Lightning Collection - Beast Morphers Yellow - Hasbro 2023

Power Rangers Beast Morphers is the 26th and 27th seasons of the US Power Rangers franchise from 2019 and based on the 36th Super Sentai series Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters from 2012. The series is notable for being produced by Hasbro's own production studio (Allspark) as well as having all the toys produced by Hasbro (as opposed to Hasbro distributing Bandai product). The series is also apparently a direct sequel to Power Rangers RPM (2009), neither series of which I have watched. But I've purchased lots of figures from both series, mainly because I love when a series has an animal theme. Beast Morpher Yellow is a little amusing because at first glance her costume looks like a (serious) Kamen Rider design with riding leathers and goggles. But then you notice the cartoonish bunny on her forehead and it gets very lighthearted. Zoey's animal motif is a Jackrabbit which enable her to jump very high (and conversely fatigue fast). She's a fun Ranger. Let's check out Zoey below!

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

The New Adventures of Batman - BATGIRL!

Batman '66: The New Adventures of Batman (1977) - Batgirl - McFarlane 2024

I'm a huge fan of Filmation animation. I know everyone thinks Masters of the Universe (1983) is the epitome of Filmation's library (and maybe it is), but I personally love their earlier stuff even more: Teen Titans (1967), Space Sentinels (1977), Blackstar (1981), and Super7 (1978) are among my favorites. But there was always something special about their two contributions to Batman lore: The Adventures of Batman (1968) and The New Adventures of Batman (1977). The live-action Batman '66 show had ended in March of 1968 and Filmation picked up the torch and ran with it. By the '77 series they even got Adam West and Burt Ward to provide the voices. Melendy Britt (She-Ra) voiced Batgirl. This figure is a dream for me. It merges my love of Batgirl, action figures, and classic animation. At this stage in my toy collecting, my biggest joys come from filling in the very few obscure gaps I have left. So this figure has been high on my wishlist for a while. And she's perfect. Let's check out Batgirl below!

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Transformers Earthspark - TWITCH!

Transformers Earthspark - Cyber-Combiner - Terran Twitch - Hasbro 2023

Transformers: Earthspark is a 2022 CGI-animated series on Paramount+. It has an interesting new concept following a group of new Transformers called the Terrans that are "born" on Earth in an unformed primordial state. They imprint on their surroundings, developing their appearance, gender, personality, and alternate mode based on their experiences. Two young siblings, Mo and Robby Malto, meet and bond with some of these Terrans in rural Pennsylvania. Twitch is the token female Terran who bonded with Robby and transforms into a drone. She has a great design and I love the fact that her vehicle mode is so modern. The boom boxes, microscopes, and camera modes of my youth were in desperate need of a modern upgrade. These new Cyber-Combiner sets pair a Transformers with one of the Malto kids in a Cyber-Suit that can combine, as the name implies. This is Twitch's third figure and she has  Warrior Class and Tacticon figures out this year. Let's check out Terran Twitch below!

Saturday, February 3, 2024

Transformers Earthspark - MO MALTO!

Transformers Earthspark - Cyber-Combiner - Mo Malto in Cyber Suit - Hasbro 2023

Transformers: Earthspark is the current all-ages Transformers show airing on Paramount+. The show features two young Earth siblings, Mo and Robby Malto, who discover unformed Terran Transformers that eventually choose vehicle (or beast) mode and kind of imprint on the Malto children. It's a pretty fun show with great interpretations of classic characters and a handful of really inventive originals. There were recently two "Cyber-Combiner" toy sets that feature one of the Malto kids in a Cyber-Suit paired with a Transformer (Mo & Bumblebee and Robby & Twitch). These figures can be joined together in a variety of combinations to create "mini-combiners." As far as I can tell this scenario has not appeared in the show yet, but there is a Season Two coming so perhaps we'll get some reference soon. It's pretty rare to get action figures of the human characters in Transformers, but this is a fun and inventive way to get them on the shelves in a marketable way. Let's check out Mo Malto in her Cyber-Suit below!

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Batwheels - BATGIRL!

Burger King: King Jr Meals - Batwheels - Batgirl (Cass Cain) - Burger King 2023

In late 2022 a new animated show debuted on HBO MAX called Batwheels. I was intrigued because I am drawn to all things Gotham. But I knew it was completely geared towards kids and wouldn't become a true obsession of mine - and I was mostly right. The show has a great concept: essentially mashing together the worlds of Disney/Pixar's Cars with the Batman Universe. There are so many outlandish character-themed vehicles in Gotham, it doesn't seem that crazy to actually give them voices and fully flesh out their personalities. I found it very clever. But I wasn't expecting to be so drawn to the human characters. They have really fun designs and the roles are filled by interesting characters - namely Duke Thomas as Robin and Cassandra Cain as Batgirl. I've been wishing for action figures, but all the official toys have been (predictably) vehicles. But then I was surprised by some Burger King figures from December that totally scratch that itch. Let's check out Cassie Batgirl below!

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Mirrorverse - MULAN!

Disney Mirrorverse - Gold Label 3-Pack - Mulan (Melee) - McFarlane Toys 2024

Mulan (1998) is easily my favorite animated Disney movie. Most animated Disney movies feature a strong female lead. But Mulan was explicit in highlighting gender roles and cultural stigmas (which, although were presented as specific to an unspecified dynastic era of China's history, had many relatable modern parallels). I genuinely love the story and the music. I also love the respectful handling of the music, with no songs played after the discovery of General Li's fallen army. This movie arguably dealt with the heaviest subject matter of the theatrical animated Disney movies - others technically had a higher death rate, but in Mulan the setting was relatable historical fiction and we actually saw the deaths. It required a tactful mix of playful music and solemnity. I have always wanted to add Mulan to my collection. Someday I might dive deep into the 1997 Mattel line. But in the meantime, this McFarlane Disney Multiverse figure from the Amazon-exclusive 3-Pack is a great first figure. Let's check out Mulan below!

Monday, January 29, 2024

Mirrorverse - BELLE (FRACTURED)!

Disney Mirrorverse - Gold Label 3-Pack - Belle (Fractured) - McFarlane Toys 2024

Mirrorverse is a 2022 mobile game featuring a large assortment of Disney characters in battle scenarios. One of the coolest things about the game (IMO) is the faction of The Fractured. The Fractured are a legion of twisted evil versions of the main characters. They were created by Maleficent when she broke the Dark Mirror and gave life to the distorted reflections of all the heroes. I'm a sucker for monochromatic designs and all of the Fractured are multi-hued purple. I'm a bit obsessed and I hope all the figures get this redeco eventually. (Although I wish Belle's face was purple as well to complete the look). This figure came in an Amazon-Exclusive 3-pack with Ariel (Melee) and Mulan (Melee). The line has been pretty quiet since this set was announced back in early July, but I really hope we see some new characters. Rapunzel and Merida seem like pretty prominent game characters who haven't appeared in the toy line yet. Fingers crossed for more. Let's check out Fractured Belle below!

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Mirrorverse - ARIEL!

Disney Mirrorverse - Gold Label 3-Pack - Ariel (Melee) - McFarlane Toys 2024

Ever since I started collecting toys as an adult, I have wanted well-made modern action figures of Disney characters. I was always hoping S.H.Figuarts or Mafex would get a license, but it never came to be. The Super7 Disney Ultimates were a promising start, but they never produced a character I was particularly interested in (I feel like Maid Marian would have happened soon if the line wasn't cancelled). But the main characters I always imagined in highly-articulated action figure form were Tinker Bell and Ariel. While this Mirrorverse Ariel from McFarlane Toys is definitely a stretch from her classic design, it's still pretty amazing. Mirrorverse is a 2022 mobile game featuring a wide variety of Disney characters in combat scenarios. Ariel is in Melee armor with a trident. I think she looks awesome. Ariel came in an Amazon-Exclusive Gold Label 3-Pack with Belle and Mulan. This set really renewed my interest in the line and I hope it keeps going. Let's check out Melle Armor Ariel below!

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Power Rangers - LOST GALAXY YELLOW!

Power Rangers Lightning Collection - Lost Galaxy Yellow Ranger - Hasbro 2023

Power Rangers Lost Galaxy is the seventh season in the Power Ranger franchise from 1999 (based on the 22nd Super Sentai series, Seijuu Sentai Gingaman). The series is notable for having the first sentient Zords in the franchise. Each Ranger is paired with a Galactabeast from an unnamed wild planet that the Rangers rescued from captivity. Galaxy Ranger Yellow's Galactabeast is a large yellow wolf. A key weapon for each of the Rangers are the Quasar Sabers. They were all hidden on the planet Mirinoi, a seemingly peaceful and simple planet (perhaps void of technology?). The Sabers were embedded in stone there until retrieved by the the Rangers when they arrived to the planet and removed them Sword-in-the-Stone-style. Maya was a native Mirinoi girl who withdrew the Quasar Saber Yellow and became the Yellow Galaxy Ranger. This figure was a Gamestop exclusive in 2023 and continued to tradition of Gamestop filling in team gaps with missing female Rangers. Let's check out Lost Galaxy Yellow below!

Monday, January 22, 2024

MOTU 1987 Movie - EVIL-LYN!

Masterverse Wave 11 - Masters of the Universe Movie - Evil-Lyn - Mattel 2023

I think one of the first movies I was ever disappointed by was Masters of the Universe (1987). As an eighties kid, I was intimately familiar with the lore and universe of He-Man and Eternia. The show had technically ended two years earlier, but She-Ra was still airing and was typically paired with a syndicated episode of He-Man. The movie seemed like it would be a mature evolution of the show we had all been raised on. I, for one, was very excited. But the movie was vastly different from what I expected. It was chock full of new characters (most of which I found very annoying), it took place on Earth, and there was no transformation sequence. I was flummoxed. The bright spot for me was Evil-Lyn. Of all the characters, she seemed to stay the most true to her cartoon origins. She had a cinematic redesign and there were a lot of differences, but the essence of Evil-Lyn was still there. There have been a fair amount of action figures from the movie over the years, but Evil-Lyn was always a glaring omission.

Saturday, January 20, 2024

12" Spin Master - HARLEY QUINN!

DC Universe - 12" Action Figures - Harley Quinn (Future State) - Spin Master 2023

Harley Quinn seems to get a totally new costume design every few years. I will always be loyal to her original bodysuit with jester hat, but there is something still unique and fun about each new version. I think Harley will always be handled by artists and writers that love and respect the character. Because of this the essential "Harley" elements will always be present. There obviously needs be a lot of black and red, and there needs to be a clear left-vs-right division of colors or patterns. Her modern trend of having pink and blue hair used to really bother me as straying too far from the original design. But a few years ago I made the realization that often when people try to home-dye their hair bold colors, they can easily end up with a much more pastel result. I now imagine this look as Harley attempting a red and black dye job with lukewarm results. This surprise 12" figure from Spin Master features Harley's new design from 2021's Future State comics. Let's check out the 12" Harley Quinn below!

Friday, January 19, 2024

Power Rangers - LOST GALAXY PINK!

Power Rangers Lightning Collection - Lost Galaxy Pink Ranger - Hasbro 2023

Power Rangers Lost Galaxy is the seventh season in the Power Ranger franchise from 1999 (based on the 22nd Super Sentai series, Seijuu Sentai Gingaman). The series is notable for having the first sentient Zords in the franchise. Each Ranger is paired with a Galactabeast from an unnamed wild planet that the Rangers rescued from captivity. The Pink Ranger's Galactabeast is a large pink alien wildcat whose design I love. This series is also notable for having the first Ranger "death." The first Pink Ranger (Kendrix Morgan) was killed while saving her fellow Rangers. The actor, Valerie Vernon, had to leave the show to be treated for leukemia. The treatment was a success and she returned for the finale. This figure represents the first Galaxy Pink, Kendrix. The second Galaxy Pink was Karone, the brainwashed villain Astronema (for which we've seen two figures so far). I don't know why this toy, of all toys, doesn't contain a second head representing Karone. Let's check out Galaxy Pink below!

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Power Rangers - DINO FURY GREEN!

Power Rangers Lightning Collection - Dino Fury Green Ranger - Hasbro 2023

Power Rangers Dino Fury is the 28th-29th season of the Power Rangers franchise (using footage from Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger, the 43rd Super Sentai series). It also continues into the 30th season with Power Rangers Cosmic Fury. Izzy Garcia is my favorite character of the season as the Green Ranger. Beyond the notoriety of being a female Green Ranger in the main team lineup, she also represents the LGBTQ community in a way this franchise hasn't embraced before. In fact, her girlfriend Fern becomes the Orange Ranger in Cosmic Fury. (I would really love some toys of her to add to the spectrum!) One of my favorite Izzy scenes is when she gets frustrated with her costume mid-battle and tears off her skirt. It's a pretty iconic moment and an interesting commentary on the ranger skirt trope. The toys for this line seem to have slowed down a lot. There are figures left unproduced or totally missing. Hopefully Cosmic Fury pushes more toys to finish the lineups. Let's check out Dino Fury Green below!

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Power Rangers S.P.D. - YELLOW RANGER!

Power Rangers Lightning Collection - S.P.D. Yellow Ranger - Hasbro 2023

Power Rangers S.P.D. (Space Patrol Delta) is the the 13th season of the US Power Rangers franchise based on Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger, the 28th Super Sentai series from 2004-2005. For a long time, this season was my least favorite by a longshot. When there are themes of mythical creatures, wild animals, dinosaurs, and other toyetic individualized avatars, the idea of space police just seemed boring. Plus the large numbers emblazoned on their torsos (Yellow is 4) just seemed unexciting. But these Lighting Collection figures have really made me appreciate the designs on their own merits. Also, I learned that all the Rangers have genetic powers in addition to any abilities gained through Morphing. S.P.D. Yellow, aka Elizabeth "Z" Delgado (played by Monica May) has the ability to duplicate herself. Also, I love that the main Ranger roster here is the "B-Squad" and the original "A-Squad" have been corrupted and are antagonists of the series. A very cool plot twist. Let's check out S.P.D. Yellow below!