Monday, December 31, 2012
Here it is, the final toy of the year, a Christmas gift from James. I'm not sure why, but Toys R Us seems to get new LEGO before other stores, or perhaps they just put them out on shelves first. So here's my first TMNT LEGO set, Shredder's Dragon Bike. It's basically a monster truck version of a motorcycle, with tires that are taller than its rider. It's ridiculous and ostentatious in the best villain manner. With pointy bits all over, it's a nice fit for Shredder. With its flame spewing double exhaust and fangs up front, calling it a dragon bike seems like a good fit. There's also a smaller powered skateboard for Donatello to ride. I think there's a version of this available to buy for the regular sized figures as well. As for minifigures, the set includes Donatello, Shredder, and a Foot Soldier. The Foot Soldier is pretty basic and looks how you would expect him to look. He gets a sword. Shredder looks pretty cool, he's got a shoulder piece to represent the blades there, and the blades for his hands are hand held pieces. I'm glad they didn't re-use the claws from the Wolverine/werewolf minifigures. Donatello gets a backpack piece for his back shell (there is a shell painted on his back if you prefer to leave it off), and the head is a completely new head. It's all one piece, there's no standard LEGO head underneath a mask here. This is a pretty cool set, and now I have to decide whether I want to complete the four turtles.
There's a first time for everything, and for the first time I own a Barbie toy. This is another Christmas gift from James. I haven't yet officially joined the world of 1:6 scale toy collecting, but in a few months my preorders will be filled. Apparently, Barbie accessories work well with 1:6 scale figures. And they are way cheaper. So when I get my figures, they'll be able to go in rides with style. Barbie style. I'm actually surprised that this is red rather than Barbie pink.
Here's another Christmas gift, from James. Thanks, James! Doctor Who has spawned its own line of LEGO-esque building sets, along with the requisite minifigures. And of course, it is good business to do a line of blindpacked figures, so that's what they did. The figure I got was the Dalek drone, which is the tiniest Dalek I've ever seen. You know how smaller versions of things are cute? That totally applies here. The Dalek comes unassembled, in nine pieces. It's a Dalek, so you can't expect much articulation, and at this scale, you can rotate the head and that's it. It's too bad that this line isn't readily available in stores, because I wouldn't mind getting a few more of them.
Sunday, December 30, 2012
I thought I was done buying Avengers figures, but it looks like I was wrong. I've always kind of been on the fence about picking up the Skrull figure, but seeing it on sale at the grocery store for slightly less than normal retail was what convinced me. Like many of the Avengers figures, the Skrull lacks wrist, ankle, and chest/waist articulation. Also, he includes the requisite big goofy weapon. In this case, it's the same one that was included with Hogun, but this time the blades are a translucent green plastic which makes it look a lot cooler. Again, the blades are removable for use as hand held blades or whatever.
Word on the street is that rights to use the Skrulls are tied up at Fox since they have the Fantastic Four rights, which is why the Chitauri were used for the movie. Unfortunately, they weren't as recognizable as Skrulls, and the Chitauri figure is really lacking in articulation. It doesn't even have elbows! The Skrull is a way better deal.
The first of my Christmas gifts to be posted about here, it's Grand Moff Tarkin. Thanks, AJ! For whatever reason, Hasbro has not bothered making a new version of Tarkin since the mid 90s. Okay, they did make one based on his cameo at the end of Revenge of the Sith, but it wasn't Peter Cushing, so I don't count that. They did a nice job of capturing Cushing's memorably skeletal face, and I think even the hands are new, as they look bonier than others. Oddly, they made his Imperial uniform a bit more green than I would have thought necessary. For this release, they opted to make the lower portion of his tunic soft goods, which maybe doesn't look the greatest, but allows him to sit properly. He includes a blaster pistol, and one of my favorite accessories in a long time, a MSE droid. You may remember seeing them scooting around the Death Star, being scared by Chewbacca. I didn't realize that this was included with the figure until I had it in hand, so it was a very nice surprise.
|"Die, Dracula, die!"|
Saturday, December 29, 2012
One of these days, Valve will release Half-Life 2: Episode 3 (or maybe even Half-Life 3!), but for now the only thing interesting in Half-Life news is the recent release of this figure, based on the game's silent protagonist Gordon Freeman. NECA has been making video game figures for a while, but aside from the Bioshock figures, nothing really interested me. That changed when they got the Valve license, which lead to Gordon here, and next year will bring Portal figures. As usual, NECA does quality work, and Gordon here is another great figure. It's a great sculpt with good articulation, but one stand out feature is how well the glasses turned out. Most figure that wear glasses don't look so great, but NECA has got this down. It's a nice upgrade from the glasses on my Harry Potter figure from a few years ago. Not just a cool figure by itself, there is a helpful assortment of accessories. Naturally, the crowbar is included. You just couldn't have a Gordon Freeman figure without it. Also included is the seedpod that Gordon uses to attract the giant bugs underground. It's sculpted to fit snugly in the left hand. There is also an alternate set of hands included so that he can hold the next weapon.
The crowbar may be the most iconic weapon in the Half-Life games, but the coolest gun is definitely the gravity gun. It allows you to pick up and/or launch heavy objects, and there's nothing quite as fun in the same way as hurling crates at your enemies. It's got two handles, and Gordon's arms are able to hold on to both. It's unfortunate how infrequently a figure can properly hold its accessories, so that it is worth noting when one can. There is a life sized prop replica in the works, which should be cool.
Continuing with the great assortment of accessories, a headcrab is included. These nasty little buggers latch on to a person's head, then take control of their bodies and turn them into zombies who are disturbingly aware the whole time. By themselves, they are pretty easily defeated with a swipe of a trusty crowbar. NECA has lovingly rendered them, and the toy looks great. Part of the bottom can be removed so that it can sit on the head of other figures.
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Along with Batgirl, the Penguin gets a new release in the Batman Unlimited line. Originally, the Penguin was released in the first wave of DCUC. At the time, I wasn't sold on the idea of collecting 6 inch DC figures, so I only bought Batman. By the time I changed my mind, Penguin was too expensive for my tastes. I figured that given the very low chance of parts reuse, there would inevitably be a re-release, although it was a big longer than I was expecting until it happened. For this release, the Penguin was repainted in a color scheme more reminiscent of his old Super Powers figure from the 80s. If I'm remembering correctly, I think that figure was repainted for the Batman Returns toy line. The other change, which I was not aware of until the figure arrived in the mail, is that he gets a completely new head sculpt. The original figure's head was a bit more monstrous, while this one is more cartoonish and cheerful. You can tell this Penguin uses a lot of bird puns. Fortunately, he also comes with an accessory, an umbrella with a machine gun attached.
Penguin commandoes work so much better with a Penguin to command them.
Monday, December 24, 2012
Since the demise of the DCUC line, Mattel has continued to release DC figures, mostly through the subscription service, but also through a couple of non-lines, none of which have caught on yet. The latest is the Batman Unlimited line of which one of the first releases is the New 52 version of Batgirl. Initially, I thought it was a straight repaint of the previous Batgirl and would be easy to pass on. But it turned out to be an almost completely new sculpt, due to the level of armor detail on Batgirl's current costume. I think that the only piece that is possibly a straight reuse is the lower part of the thigh, even the cape is new. Unfortunately, there are no accessories. At least a batarang would have been good. They're not even doing the stands any more.
Saturday, December 22, 2012
So a few weeks ago, 3B of 3B's Toy Hive was doing a give away, which I was lucky enough to win. Thanks, 3B! Wheelie here was my prize. Aside from the Joe Pesci stereotype of the movies, I don't think Wheelie has had many updates since G1, so this is a fun update. If the car mode he now comes in looks familiar, it's because he is basically the same mold as Jazz. Hasbro's been doing this thing the past few years where they will design a mold for easy reuse, some times with a bit of re-engineering.
Aside from color, only the head and weapon are different from Jazz. The weapon Wheelie gets is a slingshot, true to his original appearances. If you think a slingshot is too goofy a weapon, it can also be held like a blaster pistol. Going from robot to car can be a little annoying (you have to make sure all the arms and speakers are all folded up just right), but the other way around is pretty easy. Originally, Wheelie was pretty small because he was basically a kid (Transformers grow up?) but he's regular sized now, so I guess he's older.
Thursday, December 20, 2012
So the Scary Little Ugly Guys Zombies have been out for a while now, but I hadn't picked any up. I had M.U.S.C.L.E. figures when I was a kid, and was a fan of their weirdness and variety. That aesthetic is making a comeback with the S.L.U.G. Zombies and the OMFG figures. But what got me to finally pick some of these up is the inclusion of zombie Santa. And Target had them pretty cheap. There are four different three packs with a Christmas theme. Each includes two zombies in green and one zombie fighter in the M.U.S.C.L.E. style pink. I got this set mainly for zombie Santa, but it also includes a zombie elf (who can't stand very well) and... Crocodile Dundee! One of the fun things about the line is that it includes pop culture references like that, similar to those Tech Deck Thumbs that were out a while back.
|Watch out, LEGO Santa!|
Saturday, December 15, 2012
Rumble doesn't actually appear in the Transformers Prime cartoon (yet?) but he's already got a toy from the line. I'm generally a fan of the subset of Transformers that had cassette alt-modes back in the 80s, so this is a toy right up my alley. Interestingly, this Rumble is blue. There is a long history of controversy over whether Rumble should be blue or red. In the comics and the original toys, he was red. In the cartoon he was blue. I grew up with the cartoon, but never read the comics, so for me Rumble is blue.
For the most part, I dig the bot mode. It's short and kind of wide. The only problem I have is that the roof of the car just sort of sits there on his shoulders. It's not the worst, but it's not the greatest. He includes the piledriver weapons, so he can still make earthquakes. If you don't want them on his hands, they can plug into the back of his shoulders as well. For whatever reason, his chest looks like a face. Sure, why not?
Because kids these days don't know what a cassette tape is, Rumble's altmode has been modernized. It seems like whenever a Transformer had a weird altmode in the 80s gets a modern version, it ends up as a car. I suppose that's fair enough, as a car would be a useful altmode. So Rumble turns into a little blue car. The piledrivers plug into the sides and look like rocket boosters. Almost all the paint apps are for the bot mode, so the car's color does look a bit flat.
|"Sorry Soundwave, I don't think I can fit in your chest any more."|
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
A while back, I got an Ahsoka figure from the Clone Wars line. Since she was in the animated style, she had really thin arms, and no elbows, as well as missing out on ankles. Then for later seasons, they made her look a little older and gave her a new outfit, and of course made a new figure based on that. I liked that look better, but I never saw that figure anywhere, so I missed out. Fortunately, Hasbro decided to change their mind about making "realistic" versions of Clone Wars characters (for a long time, they said they wouldn't do so in the Q&As) and they made Ahsoka in her newer costume. What is with her costume, anyway? Shouldn't she be in Jedi robes? Female Jedi seem to be allowed more leeway with what they wear, if Aayla Secura is any indication.Of course, I never saw this in stores either, and had to buy one online. Funny how Amazon is such a good place to find newer Star Wars figures these days. Basically, translating Ahsoka to a realistic style means more textures on her clothes, and smaller eyes. And her limbs aren't so thin, so she gets proper articulation. For accessories, she gets her two lightsabers in both ignited and unignited varieties. The hilts plug into her belt, which is always a bonus.
New and old.
Saturday, December 8, 2012
Before Mattel made their massive and expensive Voltron available through the subscription model, they released a smaller, non-converting Voltron figure as a San Diego Comic Con exclusive for 2011. Apparently they way overestimated the demand, or perhaps it was their plan all along, but they have had it for sale on Mattycollector since. It was pricier than I was willing to pay for it, and even though they lowered the price last year on I think the Cyber Monday sale, I still passed. Afterwards, I decided that I did want Voltron for sure if it ever went on sale again. For this year's Cyber Monday sale, they lowered the price again, as well as offered reduced shipping, I so took the opportunity to finally order it.
In the typical con exclusive fashion, the packaging is fancier than what you would get in a store. In this case, it was a big window box with a sound feature that plays part of the Voltron intro (or possibly a recreation of it). Voltron comes packaged holding the blazing sword which gives the figure its name, a representation of how the sword appeared in a flash of energy on the cartoon. Of course, it also includes the sword in standard form, ready for a fight. It's a pretty cool figure. One of its main advantages is that it's a Voltron that is well articulated. The original wasn't super posable, and this is a cool improvement. There weren't any of the dreaded stuck or broken joints on mine, although there were a couple spots with paint errors. Nothing major, fortunately. One neat feature is that the mouths that form the hands are spring loaded to automatically close, so that is how the sword stays in place.
That's not my original Voltron, but a re-release I picked up at Toys R Us in I think 2000.
Friday, November 30, 2012
Mattycollector had a big Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale with a lot of older Masters of the Universe Classics figures that hadn't been available for a long time back in stock for reduced prices. Due to a variety of reasons, I haven't been very into the MOTUC line, but one figure I missed out on and have been wanting to add to my collection was Faker. The concept of Faker is so ridiculous that I can't help but enjoy it, and it is very indicative of the typical 80s cartoon villain insanity that I love so much. Faker is a robot meant to impersonate He-Man, but he's blue! Is everyone on Eternia color blind? Skeletor may not be the smartest leader, but you have to admire his big stones. Appropriately, this is a repaint of He-Man, wearing Skeletor's chest armor. Thanks to the way it was posed in the package, the left shoulder cover is bent out of shape. Thanks, Mattel. I did fortunately get a figure that is free of QC issues. For accessories, Faker has one regular sword and one half sword. It's my understanding that the original MOTU figures had the half swords, so this is part of Mattel's slavish devotion to the original toys. It seems kind of unnecessary, but whatever. This is a quality figure, and I'm glad to have added it to my collection. It helps ease the disappointment of not being able to order Castle Grayskullman.
|...I can't tell who is the real He-Man!|
Thursday, November 29, 2012
One of the coolest figures of the original TMNT line was Metalhead. I never had one, but when I saw that there was a new version coming out based on the current cartoon, I was looking forward to it. Unfortunately, it didn't make it to production fully intact. There was supposed to be some sort of interchangeable weapon arm, and he's missing the antenna on his head. Also, although it looks fine from the front, there are no paint apps on the back half of the figure that really should be there. The yellow "bandana" is only painted on the front side of the head, the sides are just grey plastic. See the wires on the stomach? They're only painted on the front, the sides are grey plastic as well. Also the back shell is entirely unpainted, which is too bad because it is a really cool design (it's a sewer lid cover, neat). Compared to the Turtle figures, he's not as well articulated, but he does fare better than the other non-Turtle figures. The shoulders and elbows are only swivels, which is fairly limiting for posing options. As for accessories, he gets one missile which plugs into his arm. There's no spring loaded launching action, so it's limited to how fast you can flick it with your finger. So, that's it for the bad. It sounds like a lot of complaining, but I really do like the figure. It's a great design, so I can overlook a lot of that. Oddly enough, this figure it out of scale by being too large. Not that I'm going to complain about that, it helps make him feel a better value. If the toy line sticks around long enough and/or he shows up again on the cartoon so that Playmates makes an improved version of Metalhead, I'll probably buy it too. I'm not holding my breath, though.
|Putting the finishing touches on|
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
A couple years ago, I imported the Japanese release of Masterpiece Grimlock. But before I started this blog, I bought one of the US releases of Masterpiece Optimus Prime, the 25th Anniversary version. It's a pretty great Optimus, but I always was disappointed that there was no trailer. There were subsequent Japanese releases with the trailer, and an unofficial add on trailer, but they were all pricier than I was willing to go for. Fortunately, there is a completely new Masterpiece Optimus that includes a trailer, and it has a domestic release, so it's not quite as ridiculously expensive. Naturally, it's a Toys R Us exclusive, and I'm not close enough to one to check often. So I started watching the Toys R Us website every day, waiting for them to add the new Optimus to the shop. One day, my compulsive watching paid off, and I'm glad I was checking daily, because it sold out soon.
Aside from the trailer, one of the biggest improvements over the 25th Anniversary release is that Optimus has properly lengthy smokestacks. The original Japanese Masterpiece had them, but they were shortened for the US release, presumably for safety reasons. Optimus himself is a very nice update. It does a good job of replicating his appearance in the original cartoon, while the vehicle does a good job of replicating the original toy's appearance, although the calves/rear look a bit thicker than they probably ought to. For weaponry, he gets his cool energy axe, which slides on over his fist, as well as his standard ion cannon. Both have spots to stow away in the trailer, but the ion cannon can fold up and slip into his back. Neat! The trailer has a couple of different alternate modes. Pictured above is the maintenance dock, which is the most space efficient mode of display.
The other mode is the battle station, like the original. It's got the same robot pod thing that can be moved around on an arm, and a ramp for cars to drive up on. The trailer is scaled to work with deluxe class cars (formerly the $10 figures, more like $15 these days), and it is definitely cool to have an Optimus in the same scale of those. And of course, Roller is included.
The neat thing about Roller is that it can tow Optimus's trailer. When not towing the trailer around, the ion cannon can also be mounted on Roller's back. Also, the robot pod thing can stick out the top of the trailer. I haven't mentioned it so far, but there is another figure included here.
That's right, it's Spike! He's pretty small, but still articulated at the shoulders, hips, and knees. He can sit in roller, various spots in the trailer, the robot pod thing, and coolest of all, he can fit in Optimus Prime's vehicle mode. I never bought any of those human alliance Transformers toys, so it is cool to have a human figure to go along with one.
No fancy Optimus Prime figure is complete without a Matrix of Leadership, right? Well, here it is.
Thursday, November 15, 2012
Robocop was one of the movies I wanted to see as a kid, but wasn't allowed to because of the ultraviolence. Naturally, I was able to see it while hanging out at a friend's house. Because it was the 80s, Robocop was adapted into a cartoon, which of course had an accompanying toy line. The only figure I recall having from that line was Robocop himself, which was pretty cool. It had an action feature of a sort of backpack that you could spool caps into to simulate gunshot sounds. Recently, both NECA and Figma have released Robocop figures. While the two Figmas that I have are great, Robocop isn't a character that I'm enough of a fan to want such an expensive figure. So the lower priced NECA figure was a good alternative. This isn't the original version of Robocop from NECA. There was a regular release, and a battle damaged version, as well as a glow in the dark Robocop, but I fortunately waited long enough for this version, which has a spring loaded holster in the leg, just like in the movie.
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
You know how there's this Spider-man musical that's been suffering setback after setback? Well, Batman also has a live show, but it's more of a traveling show than a Broadway musical. Like most adaptations of the Dark Knight, it features new designs, including a new Batmobile, which Mattel has made in Hot Wheels form. A few days ago, I saw that Reis was doing a give away of these, but I was too late to get one. Then I went to Target later that day and saw one right on the front of one of the pegs. Score! Until I saw the post Reis had made, I didn't know that this was even being made, and it's a good thing I had, because this might be easy to miss if you don't know it's a Batmobile. The Batman logo is halfway behind the car itself and is easily overlooked. Also, at first glance this Batmobile does look a little more like a formula 1 racer than a Batmobile. But there are some definite batty touches like scalloped edges on the spoiler and wheel wells, as well as a rocket booster on the back. It's an interesting take on the Batmobile, and I dig it. Now if only I can find the Hot Wheels version of The Bat from The Dark Knight Rises.
|My Hot Wheels Batmobiles so far|
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Back when they were hyping the DC Infinite Earths subscription, Poison Ivy was the only proposed figure that I was interested in, so although I didn't subscribe, I crossed my fingers for luck and gambled that I would be able to order her on sale day at Mattycollector. Since Poison Ivy is one of the more recognizable members of Batman's rogues gallery, it's a shame she never made it out for the slightly more readily available DCUC line. Fortunately, I had the day off for the sale day. Then my internet was down, thanks to our faulty router. In the past, I have been able to order from Mattycollector on my phone, so I tried that, getting the typical white screen of death. After a minute or so of that, I hightailed it to my apartment complex's computer room, where I opened the sale page on as many browsers were available on the computer. After dealing with the WSOD for a while, I eventually was able to make it all the way through checkout, and not a moment too soon. As far as I can tell, Poison Ivy sold out within a couple minutes of when I finished my transaction. I had not received a confirmation e-mail yet, so I was feeling nervous, but it did eventually show up about 15 minutes later.
So, the figure itself. It's a pretty typical Mattel DC woman figure. Her torso and head are new sculpt, so only the limbs are reused, which is a bit unusual. She also gets accessories in the form of three vines that can wind around her limbs, or I suppose could be used on her victims. There's quite a lot of hair, but it's sculpted in a way that doesn't hinder head movement too badly. The green they went with for her skin almost looks like glow in the dark plastic, but it's not. It actually looks pretty minty. Her eyes are pretty squinty, so I guess she's supposed to look angry. Now if Mattel will release a Two-Face and a Scarecrow (I've pre-ordered the upcoming Penguin re-release), my Batman rogues gallery will be pretty well set.
Recently I watched the first season of the newest Scooby Doo cartoon, Mystery Incorporated. Except for maybe the time that the Scooby gang met Batman, I think it is the best onscreen version of the Scooby Doo franchise. More recently, I was taken by surprise when I saw a display of Hot Wheels cars at the grocery store, with a Mystery Machine right in front of one of the compartments. I had no idea this was being made, but since my Hot Wheel collection tends towards pop culture vehicles, this was a nice fit for my collection. This is a pretty great representation of the iconic van from the cartoons, although it's only painted on the sides. I'm not really familiar enough with Hot Wheels to know whether this is a typical sort of paint shortcut, but it's Mattel, so I'm guessing that it probably is. Still, it's a very cool toy car to have, so I'm glad I was able to find one without any prior knowledge of its existence. It is numbered 38/50 in the upper corner, for easy identification on the pegs, as well as having "Scooby Doo" written on the upper lefthand corner.
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Here we are, at last, the final minifigure from series 8 that I bought. The pirate captain. One of my favorite LEGO sets when I was a kid was the huge pirate ship and I've been wanting to have a pirate minifigure for my collection. This apparently is a very successful pirate captain, because he's rocking a lot of gold. His hook is gold, his cutlass is gold, he's got a gold tooth, and even the skull and crossbones on his hat is gold. I'm kind of surprised that his peg leg isn't gold as well. There are a few different ways to find him in the packaging. I went for the cutlass, although the feather is a good indicator to look for as well (although it is shared with the conquistador). The pirate hat, the hook, and the peg leg are all distinctive, but may be harder to feel through the packaging.
The bump code for the pirate captain.
At long last, I can settle in LEGO form the now slightly out of date pop culture obsession of pirate vs ninja. I tend to favor robot.
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
As I was sifting through all the packages to find the minifigures that I for sure wanted, when I found the thespian, I set it aside as a maybe. What sold me on it is the skull. Now that is a great accessory. Hamlet's soliloquy with Yorick's skull is one of the most iconic images in English literature, as well as one of the biggest cliches for stage actors, so it is cool to have a LEGO version of it. And hey, since I don't have a skeleton minifigure, the skull is cool. I identified the thespian in the packaging by the ruffled neck piece. It's round like the DJ's record, but has the texture around the edges to set it apart. He's also the only minifigure with two head pieces included which could be helpful for identification.
The bump code on the thespian's packaging.