Wednesday, June 29, 2011

#68: Calico Jack's Pirate Raiders - Charles Vanes and "Old Dad the Cooper"

My other toy birthday gift was this set of Calico Jack Minimates, the line which is conveniently being released around the same time as that pirate movie. I wasn't planning on picking up any of the sets from this line, but if I had intended to this is the set I would have gone with. Charles Vanes has risen from the dead to seek revenge, so he's a zombie pirate. A zompirate? He's got a lot of unique sculpting, so he really stands out. His companion in the set is Old Dad the Cooper (which I think is a pretty great pirate name), who has a harpoon leg. A regular old peg leg would be too boring for a member of Charles Vanes's crew, so he gets a harpoon leg. It's longer than his other leg, so it has to be bent so he can stand. He's armed with a rifle and a Wolverine claw gauntlet. Also, the skin of his head can be removed, revealing the skull beneath:

That's kind of my favorite thing about this set.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

#67: Captain America The First Avenger - Captain America Paratrooper Dive

My birthday was a few days ago, and this was a gift from A.J. This was one of the figures I wanted, but not quite enough to actually buy, so it makes for a good gift. I don't have a classic comic version of Captain America, which this figure is, and figures with functional parachutes are always cool, so this is a good combination. The Cap figure is pretty decent (and he has articulated wrists, which some of the figures in the regular line are oddly lacking). I'm not sure if the harness is removable, as I haven't tried too hard to get it off, but I suspect that it is. Naturally, his shield is included as is a machine gun. The parachute itself can disconnect from the harness. And of course, the parachute is round and decorated like the Captain's shield. It's very James Bond from The Spy Who Loved Me. I haven't yet taken it out for a test in the open, but I definitely intend to, as parachuting figures are naturally loads of fun. When else do you get to throw your toys around without worrying (as much) about breaking them?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

#66: Marvel Universe - Apocalypse

Last week or so, I saw it mentioned on Twitter that Wheeljack and Warpath were in stock on, but by the time I got home they were both out of stock. But the newer wave of Marvel Universe had also been added to the cart and was mostly in stock! I have been trying to find the Apocalypse figure for a while, and since finding newly released figures from the line is a dicey proposition, I took the first chance I got that didn't involve ridiculous gray market prices. As one of the X-Men's big villains, Apocalypse was one of the figures I wanted to have in my collection. Back when I was reading X-Men comics, he played a big part during the X-Ecutioner's song crossover, and of course the Age of Apocalypse event (which was also cool for bringing back Blink).

Appropriately, Apocalypse is one of the largest Marvel Universe figures. He's taller and way bulkier than Colossus. In fact, I don't remember him being quite so muscular, but one of his many vaguely defined powers is shape shifting, so I'll let it slide. I'm assuming that this is how he looks in more recent comics, because I haven't seen him in any comics since the 90s. So I do miss the big goofy A-shaped belt buckle. I think the head is the best part of the figure, it's pretty spot on, and the expression on his face is great. It makes him look like someone you really don't want to mess with. Because his limbs are so thick, they are not quite as mobile as a thinner figure with the same articulation would be. A nice touch is that they included the mysterious cables that attach to his arms, but unfortunately they also hinder movement a bit. The cables are attached to the shoulder armor, and they're all made of softer plastic. But the cables are a bit too short to allow the arms to move forward, which is unfortunate. Overall though, I think that it's a cool enough looking figure that I can overlook the shortcomings of it.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

#65: LEGO - Space Moon Buggy

I've been wanting to get this set, mainly for the astronaut minifigure. But since my Target is sometimes a little behind on putting out new products, the only space themed set that they had on the shelves for a while was the space shuttle. While that has an astronaut minifigure, I didn't want to spend 30 bucks on a set that I don't have room for, even though the shuttle is pretty cool. I had the shuttle launch set when I was a kid, which was really cool, but I think I can skip it for now. But Target finally put out the rest of the space exploration sets, along with the alien invasion sets, so I was able to get the buggy.

I really dig the astronaut minifigure. The helmet/spacesuit piece is apparently reused from a diver minifigure, but cast in white with a gold visor, it looks good for an astronaut. He looks ready to take one small step for a minifigure. If your astronaut is feeling casual, there's a baseball cap included as well. Who has time for casual Friday when there's the moon to explore? The moon buggy is pretty cool, too. It's a simple build, but it works. It doesn't look like it at much (they both have six wheels), but it reminds me of the car from the old game Moon Patrol. There's a cool looking radar dish, and an arm on the back with a saw attachment. Presumably it's for taking lunar samples, but if any monsters show up it could probably be used to help fight them off.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

#64: Transformers Dark of the Moon - Thundercracker

Despite Starscream being one of my favorite Decepticons, I haven't bought any of the many toys based on the movie version. Partly because I'm not a big fan of the design, partly because the colors are completely different, and partly because the only decent toys have been the larger and more expensive versions (such as the Leader or Voyager class toys). For Dark of the Moon, they have re-done the Deluxe class toy, but I'm not digging the color scheme (they did a G1-inspired repaint of the first movie's Deluxe class toy, but the toy itself isn't very good). Fortunately, Thundercracker solves that problem with a G1 inspired paint job. So I'm convinced, it's time to get my second Thundercracker of the year.

The robot mode is pretty cool, and the arms in particular are loaded with articulation. They do a lot of folding up to get into the alt-mode, so they need all that articulation. There are two weapons, a bladed something or other, and the Mechtech weapon which looks like some sort of chainsaw. Since his hands aren't made for holding weapons, they can plug into his arms, his back, or (oddly) his sides. While I still think the design of the robot mode is a bit funky, I do like the toy. Since it has an earthly alt-mode, unlike Shockwave, it is somewhat recognizable as something that can turn into a jet. I'm glad they kept the cockpit chest like the original Seekers. There is even some bit of wing sticking out behind the shoulders like the originals. Once you get the hang of how his arms fold up, the transformation is pretty easy.

The alt-mode is a pretty good representation of the F-22, for the most part. The bottom does suffer a little from folded up robot pieces, but it looks a lot better than previous versions did. It's within the limits of what I consider acceptable for a toy of this size. The weapons only plug into one place on the jet, the underside of the wings. The landing gear can be folded up, and in bot mode, the rear landing gear becomes the heels of the feet.

I'd say this is a figure worth picking up. It's a nice throwback to G1, and both bot and alt-modes are pretty solid. Now if they re-release this mold as Starscream in G1 colors and as Skywarp (apparently that already has a confirmed Japanese release) I may find myself with a second set of Seekers.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

#63: Transformers Dark of the Moon - Shockwave

When I first saw the movie version of Shockwave, I wasn't sure if I wanted to get the toy. On one hand, Shockwave is one of my favorite Decepticons. And even if it looks like he is grey in the movie, Hasbro knows which side their bread is buttered on so the toy is purple. On the other hand, it's a movie-verse design, so it's and oddly proportioned mish-mash of pointy bits with a questionable alt-mode. In the end, my fondness for the character won out, so I bought him.

While this isn't my favorite version of the character (of the toys I have, I like Animated Shockwave best), it is still pretty cool. I'll get my more specific complaints out of the way: that is a weird looking torso. It's almost a heart shape, and the shoulders are kind of too high. If it had looked more like the classic Shockwave torso, that would have been cool. Aside from the torso, I think it's a pretty good adaptation of Shockwave. The purple really sells it, of course. The cannon can be attached to either arm, and there is a hose that connects it to his back which is a cool throwback. Unfortunately, the spot it plugs into on his back is at an angle, so it doesn't work to have the gun on his left arm. Since the original Shockwave had a gun instead of a left hand, I would have preferred to put the gun there. In lieu of that, there is a blade that attaches to the left arm instead.

And here's the alt-mode. It's a Cybertronian tank. Is that supposed to be a cow catcher on the front? I'm keeping him in robot mode.

Oh yeah, the gimmick for the movie line is Mech Tech. So basically the weapons have a lever that you can push which rearranges it a bit, then it goes back to normal when you let go. For display purposes, it's useless, but it is a bit of fun to play with.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Articulated Monster, episode 9: Hobo Superman!

The latest episode of Articulated Monster is up. Check it out, and as always, be sure to send in some listener questions! You can e-mail, or leave a question here, and we'll answer it in the next episode.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

#62: Captain America The First Avenger Comic Series - Crossbones

While I was surprised to find the Red Skull on the pegs, I was also surprised to see Crossbones directly behind him. I can't say that I'm familiar with the character at all, but I figured it might be my only chance to pick up the figure. Also, he looks pretty damn cool, so I went for it. Note to self: I should finally get around to buying a luchador mask.

Even though I've only got two other figures from this line, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this is probably the best figure for the line. He even has ankle articulation! He's got a cool look, and what I consider to be the necessary articulation, and he feels well put together. I think the biggest complaint I could make is that he can't hold all his guns. There's a machine gun and a couple of machine pistols, but nowhere to store them, so there's always one extra. They also look kind of plain since they're just unpainted green plastic.

It's not often that I pick up the toy of a character I'm not familiar with, but I am definitely glad that I did in this case.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

#61: Captain America The First Avenger Movie Series - Red Skull

Having finally made up my mind that I do in fact want to buy the movie Shockwave, I went to Target, and noticed a Captain America figure sitting in the Transformers section. I noticed that it was a figure from the second wave, so I immediately went over to the Captain America section of the aisle on the off chance that the Red Skull figure would be there. From checking out the case assortments online beforehand, I knew that Red Skull is inexplicably shortpacked, there being only one per case. Because the kids and collectors don't want the main villain of the movie, right? They all just want various versions of Captain America (at least most of them make sense), of course. Fortunately, there actually was a Red Skull on the pegs. Naturally it was the only one.

So he's pretty cool looking. I'm not really sure what he looks like in the movie, having only glimpsed him in the trailer, so I'll assume that's what he looks like. It looks like something the Red Skull would wear, there is a definite military feel to it. He feels like he's more solidly put together than my other figure from the line, so that is good. His leg articulation is a bit hindered by the lower portion of his jacket, and he lacks ankle articulation. For accessories, there is the big goofy rocket launcher, a pistol, and the Cosmic Cube. The Cube is pretty cool, it's translucent and has energy streaming out of it. Neat.
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