Monday, June 30, 2014

#64: S.H. Figuarts - Super Mario Diorama Playset B

My roommate knew I was going to buy the Figuarts Mario figure, so he asked which of the accessory packs I liked better and got it for me as a birthday gift. Good deal, since I wasn't planning to get either of them myself. Basically I picked this set because it has green pipes. There are two pipes, one tall and one shorter. The tall one has a very shallow platform inset, so Mario appears to be standing on top of it. The short pipe has a much deeper recess, so it will look like Mario is going into or popping out of the pipe. Also included is a coin (with a short stand and a tall stand to give it the appearance of floating), a Goomba, a Koopa Troopa shell, an alternate pair of hands, and some clear plugs that help the hands hold the shell.

Now that I've got this accessory set, I'm kind of thinking about getting the other one, which has a base and a stand so Mario can do some jumping.

#63: S.H. Figuarts - Super Mario

Since Figma made Samus and Link figures, I hoped that they would make a Mario as well. For whatever reason, Bandai ended up being the company that made a comparable Mario figure, in the Figuarts line. I pre-ordered a few months ago, pleased that the anticipated release date was my birthday. The figure arrived the day after my birthday, so that was pretty good timing. Mario's appearance was kind of variable for the first few years, but was basically settled by the time Super Mario Bros. 3 was released, and this is the Mario we all know and love. Mario's pretty well articulated, although due to the relative thickness of his limbs, they don't bend as much as they might if they were thinner. But really, it's good articulation, and fairly well coordinated with the sculpt so that it still looks good.

For accessories, Mario comes off a little light in comparison to other figures of this variety. But he's also notably cheaper as well. And if these aren't enough accessories for you, Bandai has released two sets of extras to supplement the figure (more on those later...). But for this figure, there's a "?" block, a coin (with stand), and a power up mushroom. The block has a notch in the bottom for attaching a stand (not included).

Sunday, June 29, 2014

#62: Kre-O Transformers - Grimlock Unleashed

Basically the best thing about the new Transformers movie is that it means new Dinobots. The new versions are mostly cool, but nothing beats the classics. There's no way I'm shelling out for the SDCC G1 style Dinobots repaint set, so I'm glad that Hasbro put out this G1 style Grimlock as a Kre-O building set. This is my first building set proper from Kre-O, and it's pretty decent for being not-LEGO. There are a lot of specially shaped pieces, which I'm okay with, especially since Kre-O doesn't have the long history of LEGO. I'm kind of surprised at just how few exposed studs there are on the final build, but it does look good when built. Unfortunately, the set was missing one piece: one of the toe claws. I've e-mailed customer support, and hopefully can get a spare piece. If not, at least it wasn't a piece key to holding the toy together. I'd say that this is the best Grimlock to be released as part of the Age of Extinction product push.

There are five included Kreons in this set. There's a Grimlock in bot mode, and his helmet can be swapped for a crown. Since he can only wear it with the helmet piece removed, it really makes his head look too small. Also included are some movie bots: Bumblebee, Optimus Prime, Galvatron, and Lockdown. None of the Kreons transform.

#61: LEGO Ghostbusters - Ecto-1 (21108)

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the original theatrical release of Ghostbusters, so it's fitting that LEGO is releasing an Ecto-1 set now. Ghostbusters is the first film I have memories of seeing in a theater, and it's remained a favorite throughout my life. I think it turned out looking pretty good, especially compared with the BttF DeLorean, which doesn't have the right angularity. The Ecto-1 ends up with some curved sides and enough angles in the right places to avoid being too rectangular. It's a pretty fun build, with a ton of small pieces. Particularly on the roof gadgetry, there are a lot of single studs involved. There aren't any functional doors, but the roof is removable, and there is room for two minifigures to sit inside. There's room in the back for proton pack storage, as well.

The set includes minifigures for all four of the Ghostbusters, including a display stand. Sadly, the Slimer that was part of the LEGO Cuusoo (now LEGO Ideas) pitch didn't make it to the final product. Each Ghostbuster includes a proton pack, and there are also a couple of walkie talkies and a trap included. It would have been cool if there were proton streams to attach to the neutrino wands as well.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

#60: Bandai Tamashii Gundam Wing - Wing Gundam Zero

After I got Deathscythe Hell, it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that I'd get Wing Zero. Piloted by Gundam Wing's main protagonist, Heero Yuy, Wing Zero is one of the coolest Gundams in the series. Giant mechs with wings, which can fly, are definitely cooler than those without wings. It's a great looking figure, well painted in appropriate colors. Articulation is plentiful, in every spot you would expect it, as well as a few places you wouldn't. As usual, it's well decked out in the accessories department, with both beam sabers (with detachable blades) and a detachable shield.

The other main accessories are the twin buster rifles, which can be combined to form a super powerful blast. Among the multiple extra hands is a set that's one piece, with both hands intertwined for the purpose of both holding the buster rifle at once.

Of course, the coolest thing about Wing Zero is that it can transform from robot mode to a faster jet mode. This isn't a Transformers toy, so it't transformation is a bit different. Instead of merely shifting pieces around to go from one mode to the other, there are some pieces (like the midsection and lower legs) that must be removed and replaced with alternate pieces. It's not particularly complicated, and everything snaps together and pulls apart well enough.

This is a pretty cool line of figures, but I'm not a big enough fan to sink in the money to complete the team, so Wing Zero and Deathscythe Hell will be enough for my collection.

Friday, June 27, 2014

#59: Transformers 4 Age of Extinction - Strafe

Since today marks the release of Michael Bay's latest assault on the senses here in the US, here's the final Dinobot which appears in the movie: Strafe. Perhaps not surprisingly, not all the Dinobots that appear in toy form are in the movie. The movie line up is Grimlock, Scorn, Slug, and Strafe. And why do they have dinosaur altmodes in the movie? After having watched it, I couldn't tell you. They just kind of show up with no explanation for their altmodes.

Strafe's robot mode is pretty cool. He's got two swords and a crossbow. Since he can't hold three weapons at once, there is the option of plugging them into his back, or they can hang off of the "cape" that his wings form. I wish his wrists would rotate, which is an oddly consistent complaint about the Dinobots so far.

Getting him into pteranodon mode is pretty easy. Mostly it's just unfolding the wings, then reconfiguring the legs so they're shorter. When I first saw pictures of the toy, I thought that it was mis-transformed, leaving him with two heads. I really don't understand why he has two heads in dino mode, it just seems pointless. Same goes with the tails. Speaking of which, they are a soft plastic, and the way they're packaged leaves them bent, but I think they'll straighten out.

Given the substantial wingspan Strafe is sporting, it's fortunate that they can also be folded down as if he were crouched on the ground and using them to support his weight.

As for the movie itself, it was another Michael Bay Transformers movie. It was big, dumb, and loud. Like the movies or not, this one won't change your opinion. This outing seemed a little more joyless than the previous entries. Optimus Prime continues to be the least heroic Prime of the various media. On the upside, there was less cringe-worthy "humor" in this one, although it's not entirely gone. I keep watching them because it's Transformers, and I'm a sucker. At least this one had Dinobots!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

#58: Hot Wheels - Let's Go (HW Race 165/250)

It seems that the Fig Rig was a success by whatever measures that Mattel uses, because it has a spiritual sequel in the Let's Go. LE(t's) GO. I see what you did there, Mattel. So this is another Hot Wheels car meant to be compatible with LEGO sized minifigures. This time around, it's a go kart, with a seat for the minifigure. There are a couple spots on the engine that can be grabbed by minifigure hands, and an exhaust port on the side has a socket that a stud will fit into. The top also has a stud, and the bottom of the car has three sockets that studs can fit into. Unfortunately, the seating isn't the best, as the studs don't fit firmly into the leg sockets. They might as well not even be there. It's also to get the minifigure to hold the "steering wheel" with both hands. Still, it's a pretty neat idea overall, being more in scale to a minifigure than the Fig Rig was. I'm curious to see what future releases will be made with LEGO compatibility.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

#57: Transformers 4 Age of Extinction - Dinobot Slash

Depending on where you live, wave 2 of Age of Extinction toys may or may not be showing up already. My roommate picked one up for me while out of town since they haven't been spotted here in town yet. I've already decided to collect all the movie Dinobots, but even if I hadn't, I probably would have picked up Slash anyway because he's a velociraptor. Aside from Dinobot from Beast Wars himself, I don't think there have been any members of the Dinobots group that had a raptor for an altmode before. Robot mode is a bit dodgy. He's got massive arms with relatively puny legs, and the wrists don't rotate. He's armed with a pair of small axes.

Velociraptor mode is pretty cool. I really like his color scheme of bright blue and neon yellow/green with touches of black. It's just so bright, and really reminds me of the 90s. But in a good way. Another thing I like about the design is that they have incorporated feathers (or spiky mechanical equivalents) into the design. Hooray for keeping up with current scientific thinking about dinosaurs! The axes plug into the undersides of the arms with the blades functioning as feathers. Despite having a similar alt mode body shape to Grimlock and Scorn, he has a different transformation scheme from both of them. Scorn is still my favorite of the movie Dinobot toys, but Slash is a close second.

Clever girl.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

#56: DC Comics Multiverse (Superman II) - General Zod

Included in the same wave as the '89 Batman is General Zod. Because, of course he is. But hey, it's Zod, so I picked it up. I still wish it was a six inch figure instead. Anyway, it's pretty decent looking. Unlike the Batman figure, he gets shoulder swivels, but loses the thigh swivels. For an accessory, he gets a bent machine gun. It's been a while since I last watched Superman II, but I'm assuming one of the Kryptonians bends it in a display of yellow sun strength. For once, nobody can complain if the packaging has warped the accessory, because it's not meant to be straight. Genius marketing from Mattel! Hopefully a Christopher Reeve Superman figure isn't far behind.

Friday, June 20, 2014

#55: DC Comics Multiverse ('89 Batman) - Batman

It's been a while since Mattel announced that they had rights to the older Batman and Superman movies, so we've been waiting a while for them to do anything with them. Finally, they're putting out figures, but they are unfortunately in the smaller scale rather than the six inch scale I think most people were hoping for. But it's Michael Keaton as the Tim Burton version of Batman. Despite Mattel's buffoonery, that's something I want a toy of. Overall, it's a nice looking take on Batman. In the first film, his chest armor had a more organic, muscular look, while in the second film it had a purely armored look, and this toy seems to be somewhere in the middle. I'm not sure what's up with that. I dig that the cape hangs in front of the shoulders, although it does hinder the arm articulation somewhat. This would have been mitigated if the arms had shoulder swivels, but they don't.

Batman's sole accessory is his grapnel gun, which is made of a soft plastic and was warped by the packaging. I don't think that thing will shoot straight. Despite my complaints, it's still a cool picture, although I really wish Mattel would release a six inch scale Michael Keaton Batman.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

#54: Hot Wheels - Fig Rig (HW Race 143/250)

Last year, Mattel released a Hot Wheels car that is compatible with LEGO pieces, specifically the minifigures. It hasn't been hard to find, but I never got around to buying one until recently. Apparently it was a successful enough concept that there is a second LEGO compatible car that has just been released. When I first set out to look for the second version, I found the third release of the original and bought it. The Fig Rig is actually quite cool. There are several spots where figures or LEGO pieces can attach. The hood and the inside of the bed both have dual pegs that are perfect for feet. Along the roof and the rear of the truck are rails where minifigure hands can hold on. There is even a single plug along the bottom of the car that a stud can plug into. I'm not sure what inspired this cross-brand compatibility, but it's a fun idea. Obviously this isn't an officially licensed thing, so without internet word of mouth I wouldn't even know about it.

Monday, June 16, 2014

#53: Transformers 4 Age of Extinction - Grimlock (voyager)

You can't have Dinobots without Grimlock. He's the leader, and he turns into a T Rex, which is perennially one of the most popular dinosaurs. The movie take on him is a lot more bronze than I'm used to, and robot mode is definitely carrying out that armored knight look that the Dinobots have for this iteration. It doesn't really feel like Grimlock to me, but it's an interesting enough design on its own. Grimlock's armed with a big staff/warhammer/mace thing, which has a handle for him to hold it with, as its shaft isn't smooth enough to fit into his hands. Arm articulation is kind of lacking, so it's a little limited in how he can hold his weapon.

Getting him back and forth between dino and robot is somewhat similar to the classic Grimlock transformation scheme in that the robot arms become the dino legs and the robot legs become the dino tail. From some angles it looks good enough in dino mode, but some angles aren't flattering at all. His weapon attaches to the tip of his tail, which makes him ridiculously long in this mode. There's a button on the side of his neck which makes his jaw close. But it won't stay closed if the button isn't being held down, so hopefully you don't mind him roaring. Also, for some reason he has horns. They can fold back while in dino mode, but leaving them up kind of reminds me of dog ears.

Friday, June 6, 2014

#52: Transformers 4 Age of Extinction - Slug

After I got Scorn, I pretty much decided that I'll be getting all the Dinobots. So here's the other wave 1 deluxe, Slug. He turns into a triceratops, which is interesting given the recent suggestions that triceratops may not be a distinct species, but rather younger fossils of torosaurus. So Slug may be a juvenile. Anyway, Slug is mostly purple with some red and grey/silver highlights. In dinosaur mode, there's no place to store the two swords, aside from having them stick straight out from the sides. That's kind of disappointing. The mouth opens, and the legs are somewhat posable, more so for the front legs.

In robot mode, the triceratops head doesn't really have anywhere to go, as it's split in half and makes up truly outrageous shoulder pads. They kind of get in the way of arm movement. Interestingly, the dinosaur's chest becomes the robot's forearms, so they're Popeye large. The dinosaur's front legs are kind of just hanging off the sides of the torso. It's mostly pretty cool looking, though. Of the two Dinobots I've played with so far, Scorn is the better one, but Slug is decent enough.
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