Monday, December 31, 2012

#117: LEGO Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Shredder's Dragon Bike (79101)

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.


#116: Barbie - Mustang

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.

#115: Doctor Who Micro-Figures - Dalek drone

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

#114: The Avengers - Skrull Soldier

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.

#113: Star Wars The Vintage Collection - Grand Moff Tarkin

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

#112: Half-Life 2 - Gordon Freeman

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

#111: Batman Unlimited - The Penguin

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

#110: Batman Unlimited - Batgirl

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

#109: Transformers Generations - Wheelie

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

#108: S.L.U.G. Zombies - Santa Claws, Eli the Expired Elf, Gator Jones

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

#107: Transformers Prime - Rumble

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

#106: Star Wars The Vintage Collection - Ahsoka

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

#105: Voltron - Blazing Sword Voltron

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.
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