Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Labyrinth - SARAH!

Labyrinth Retro Style Action Figures - Wave 1 - Sarah - Plastic Meatball 2023

Few movies bring me as much joy as Jim Henson's Labyrinth does. The first few times I saw it in the eighties, it actually quite scared me. But in high school I had an art teacher who loved the movie and his adoration was contagious. I swear it was always playing on the TV in the background and I am now a fan for life. It's surprising how sparsely Labyrinth has been merchandised considering its cast of iconic colorful characters. I have all the Funko Pops from 2016 and the Neca and McFarlane Jareth figures. The only modern collectibles I don't own are the ones from Weta Workshop. But even at this early stage, I'm most excited for these 3.75" figures from Plastic Meatball. The first wave had the expected assortment of Jareth, Sarah, and Hoggle. But the sneak peeks at the second wave show Sir Didymus and Ambrosius, which to me signifies a commitment to giving us a more complete cast. I can't wait to see who is next. Ludo and a few random goblins are my most wanted. Fingers crossed!

Monday, April 29, 2024

The Princess Bride - PRINCESS BUTTERCUP!

ReAction Action Figures - The Princess Bride - Princess Buttercup - Super7 2023

I'm loving the recent trend of merchandizing the major 80s fantasy/fairytale movies that were such an instrumental part of my childhood. In a few short months last year I picked up figures for Willow, Labyrinth, and The Princess Bride. And, despite not even being from the same toy company, they were all produced in the retro 3.75" Kenner style so they display perfectly together. The wave of nostalgia was palpable. I'm hoping the trend continues with the likes of Legend, Ladyhawke, or The NeverEnding Story. Few movies have such visually iconic characters as The Princess Bride, despite not being a particularly "costumey" movie. Aside from Westley's mask, all the costumes could easily fit into any generic medieval or storybook setting. But when you put those characters side by side, they are absolutely iconic. And thankfully Super7 put out the main five characters in one wave instead of making us wait. I would love more characters, but perfectly happy with just these. Let's check out Princess Buttercup below!

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - ALOPEX!

BST AXN Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Alopex (Target) - Loyal Subjects 2024

Alopex is my favorite new character discovery in a long time. When this toy was first announced a few months ago, I had never heard of her, but I was immediately interested because I love fox characters. In the time since, I have read a handful of issues and have become quite a fan. Alopex is a mutated Arctic Fox (sometimes known as Alopex lagopus) who first appeared in TMNT Micro Series #1: Raphael (2011 IDW).  She is generally an antagonist working with the Foot as Shredder's personal assassin. But she has a romantic connection with Raphael that plays on her allegiances. The first story I read of hers was wonderful. She reminded me of an amalgamation of several favorite characters (namely Elektra from Marvel Comics and Jinx from G.I.Joe) but unique in her fox appearance and cunning viciousness. This BST AXN figure is the Target Exclusive deco with red facepaint (the standard version is blue). I think she's amazing and I can't wait to get both to display both heads. Let's check out Alopex below!

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Marvel Legends - GOBLIN QUEEN!

Marvel Legends - X-Men '97 Vintage Wave 2 - Goblin Queen - Hasbro 2024

Sometimes I feel bad for all the casual X-fans tuning into the movies and cartoons and trying to figure out the history of Jean Grey. She is an intriguing character that finds herself in the epicenter of the X-Men's greatest stories. But even as a longtime fan, I can't deny it gets a bit confusing. One of her most iconic incarnations (for me) is when her clone, Madelyne Pryor became the Goblin Queen in the Inferno storyline from 1988-89. I was an avid reader of The New Mutants (and X-Terminators) at this time so I was getting a live feed of this story as it was being published (albeit focusing on Illyana). When the promotional material for X-Men '97 was first shown last year, I was excited to see the Goblin Queen. The Inferno storyline was one of the few major X-events that wasn't ever touched on in X-Men: The Animated Series. Amusingly, even though we've now seen the Goblin Queen in the new series, the story was barely scratched. But, hey, at least we got this great figure of her. Let's check out Madelyne below!

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Batgirls - CASSANDRA CAIN BATGIRL!

DC Multiverse - Gold Label (Target Exc) - Cassandra Cain Batgirl - McFarlane 2024

One thing I have always loved about Cassandra Cain is that she is the first Bat-female to be unmistakably badass. As a specific sub-genre of comicdom (that I am wholeheartedly obsessed with), the female characters in the Batman universe are always strong, independent, and capable. But the comics community is inundated with fanboys who think Wolverine, Deadpool, and Lobo are the pinnacle of cool. And trying to convince them that characters like Barbara Gordon were deserving of their respect was always a tough task. But then Cassandra Cain took on the mantle of Batgirl from Huntress in 1999's No Man's Land storyline and changed all that. Cass was a violent assassin with a deadly pedigree (she is the daughter of David Cain and Lady Shiva). She was raised to be as lethal as possible, even foregoing verbal communication to dedicate all senses to body language. She was awesome, and her costume was cool. And she has remained as a consistent, but underused, character ever since.

Sunday, April 21, 2024

X-Men '97 - ROGUE!

Marvel Epic Hero Series - X-Men '97 5-Pack (Target Exc) Rogue - Hasbro 2023

X-Men women are some of the most interesting characters in all of comicdom. Their powers, personalities, and histories merge together to create a dynamic fully-realized person. I think the most widely-embraced example of this is Rogue. She's powerful, but delicate. She's flirty, but untouchable. And she is widely viewed as oozing sex appeal, but she is covered head to toe and is essentially chaste (out of necessity). And all that intrigue doesn't even take into account her villainous history and relation to Mystique. She has also had a lot of great costumes. This yellow and green bodysuit with a bomber jacket and headband is actually my least favorite, but it has really grown on me in recent years. And clearly, it's her most popular look. I'm impressed with this Epic Hero Series. Typically 1:18 scale ladies have weird limbs and oversized joints. It's like the engineering needed for the articulation is always fighting against the smaller female sculpts. But these figures look great. I can't wait to see who is next.

Saturday, April 20, 2024

X-Men '97 - STORM!

Marvel Epic Hero Series - X-Men '97 5-Pack (Target Exc) Storm - Hasbro 2023

I've been eagerly watching each episode of X-Men '97 on Disney+ since it debuted a month ago. Leading up to the first episode, I watched every episode of the original X-Men the Animated Series (which I had never completed before) and was excited to see how the adventures of all my favorite characters would continue. Without giving any spoilers, Storm's storyline was shockingly dramatic and upsetting (but by episode six it was all better) and I'm hoping she gets plenty of screentime in the final four episodes. Hasbro's new Epic Hero Series is a long overdue reboot of their 3.75" Marvel Universe line (2009-2015). (At least that's the way I view them). Regardless, it's nice to have the basic-level figures of all their different media franchises (Spider-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, and now X-Men '97) in a consistent scale. I only wish they were produced with more regularity and with more properties. At the very least I would love to see a Jean Grey and maybe a Jubilee. Let's check out Storm below!

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.