#0763: Jungle Disguise Dutch




I love Aliens. It’s my favorite movie. NECA Toys has been making some pretty awesome toys from that movie recently. But, before starting on their awesome Aliens line, NECA took their first stab at total awesome-ness with the other big alien franchise from the 80s, Predator. They actually started things off with the franchise’s third film, Predators, before eventually making their way to the first two films. Since the Predator films came before a time when things like actor’s likeness rights for merchandise were included standard in actor’s contracts, NECA had to stick with the titular Predators. They did manage to get Arnold Schwarzenegger’s likeness rights, and promptly put out a whole bundle of figures of his character Alan “Dutch” Schaefer, based on his various appearances in Predator. I’ll be taking a look at his smelly, gross, oh-god-I-hope-that’s-mud covered “Jungle Disguise” figure today.


DutchJD2Jungle Disguise Dutch was released in the tenth series of Predators figures from NECA. Series 10 was the second series following the addition of Dutch to the line, and was one of two versions of the character from this particular assortment. The figure stands 7 ¼ inches tall and has 29 points of articulation. Dutch is based on his appearance during his final, one-on-one battle with the Jungle Hunter. At that point, he’s covered himself in mud in order to mask his body heat, to get the upper hand. It’s kind of a distinctive look for the guy, so it’s not a shock to see it turn up here. The figure uses the forearms, and lower half of Series 9’s Jungle Patrol Dutch. Those pieces were pretty good there, and the re-use makes sense, seeing as he is the same guy in the same basic gear. The head, upper arms, and upper and lower torso are new to this particular figure, and they are, simply put, fantastic. The torso and arms are very nicely textured, with all sorts of cracks and leaves and such. The strap hanging on the torso is a separate add-on piece, which fits well in place, and can be removed, if one were so inclined. The head is an area where NECA could have cheaped out and used the Patrol Dutch head, but they didn’t. The face has texturing of the mud, to match the torso and arms, and the hair is even properly plastered down at the sides. And, on top of that, the Schwarzenegger likeness is dead-on. The paintwork on Dutch is pretty awesome too. It’s got some great subtleties to it; there’s a whole level of detailing, below the brown of the mud. This is most evident on the pants, which have full camo detailing, with matches up with all of the other Dutch figures, below a thin layer of brown. And, he’s even got a bit of red on his lip, from where the Predator hit him. Seriously, the level of detail on this paint is super great.  Dutch is armed to the teeth, as is befitting of him from this sequence of the movie. He’s got his assortment of hand-made weapons, including a spear, a bow, three arrows, and a torch.


When I started picking up NECA figures, the Predators line pulled me in pretty quickly. That being said, I totally planned on limiting myself to just two figures: Jungle Hunter and Dutch. I ended up picking up the Jungle Extraction Dutch first (and he’s a fantastic figure in his own right), so I figured that would keep me covered. Then I got City Hunter and the Hive Wars Predator, and…my resolve kind of broke. But, this guy was expensive by that point, so I didn’t get him. I ended up finding him for a reasonable price at this past Shoreleave, and my Super Awesome Girlfriend insisted on buying him for me. So, now I have him, and he’s really, really cool. Easily one of NECA’s best.


#0762: Arkham Knight




When I was first starting to duck my head into the whole video game thing, I tended to stick to games based on properties with which I was already familiar. That meant I stuck with comic books and super heroes a lot of the time. Comic book-based video games have a reputation in the past of not always being the best they could. That being said, in the last few years, a few have been a bit better received, such as the Batman: Arkham games. The third (main) installment in that series, Arkham Knight was released earlier this year, and received a number of toy tie-ins. Today, I’ll be looking at one of the figures of the titular antagonist, the Arkham Knight.


ArkKnight4Arkham Knight is the third figure in Play Arts Kai’s Batman: Arkham Knight line. He was released in September of 2015. The figure stands about 10 inches tall and has 49 points of articulation. The posablity on the figure is generally pretty great, though it’s worth noting that the joints are ratcheted, which can make moving them a little bit tough at first. He gets an all-new sculpt, based on the character’s appearance in the game. Well, more or less, anyway. Play Arts Kai has added their usual dash of stylization, in order to keep him consistent with their other figures, but the design is pretty much unchanged. It’s a pretty solid design, overall, and it’s got a cool “anti-Batman” vibe to it. The sculpt does a good job of translating the design into a real, physical object. There’s plenty of detailing, especially on the armored parts, and everything’s nice and sharp. He’s got softer rubber pieces for his upper torso, shoulder pads, and belt, all of which are very well sculpted and add a nice level of depth to the figure. The folds in the fabric portions of his costume (mostly the pants) are sculpted very dynamically, which definitely gives the figure ArkKnight3a sharp look, if not a super realistic one. The sculpt does a good job overall of integrating the articulation, though some areas, such as the wrists, are a little more obviously joints, and other joints will leave odd parts of the underlying sculpt exposed. Arkham Knight’s paint work is very nicely executed. Everything is pretty cleanly applied, and there are a lot of nice subtleties that add a lot to the figure. The faceplate of the helmet is definitely my favorite part; it’s cast in a semi-translucent dark blue plastic. The eyes on the helmet are set just a slight bit lower than they would be on a normal person (since they’re actually just HUD representations of eyes, not the real thing), which gives AK this weirdly unnerving quality. The figure is packed with a pair of handguns, a larger gun (which, I believe is meant to be a combined version of the two smaller ones, in-game), an extra folded up front grip for the larger gun, an extra head without the clear faceplate and HUD eyes, four pairs of hands (fists, trigger finger, relaxed, and open), and an articulated display stand.


I haven’t actually played any of the Arkham games, but I’ve picked up a few of the figures here and there. I though Arkham Knight had a pretty cool design, so I was looking to pick up one of his figures. I had originally intended to get the DC Collectibles version, but I ended up deciding to pick up this guy when I found him at Baltimore Comic-Con (in no small part due to some pushing by Tim). He’s my first Play Arts Kai figure, and he’s a lot of fun. I’m definitely glad I decided to get him.


#0761: Ultron, Vision, & Hulk




Last year, Hasbro partnered up with Target during the holiday season in order to offer a few exclusive items from a number of their lines. Among the lines included was Marvel Legends Infinite Series, which got a special three pack of figures, which included Captain America, Ms. Marvel, and Radioactive Man. It would seem Hasbro is looking to make this something of an annual thing, as another three pack was just released. Included this time around were Ultron, Vision, and the Hulk, all of whom received a nice popularity boost courtesy of Age of Ultron.


These three are, as noted above, part of a Target exclusive set, arriving just in time for the holiday season.


UltVision&Hulk4Ultron’s had quite a few figures this year, but this is actually only the second Marvel Legend. This one gives us another shot at the comics design. Specifically, he seems to draw inspiration from Ultron’s comics appearances from the last several years, though he certainly amalgamates a few different designs. The figure is about 6 ½ inches tall and has 30 points of articulation. Part of why Ultron amalgamates a few designs is due to some necessary parts re-use. Ultron makes use of the body of last year’s Ultimate Beetle figure, along with a new set of forearms/hands, as well as yet another all-new Ultron head. Beetle’s body’s actually not a bad fit for Ultron, and it was pretty good sculpt to begin with, so it’s re-use is definitely a reasonable one. The new forearms and hands meld nicely with the rest of the body, and definitely work better for the character than the original Beetle hands would. The new head is definitely the star attraction here. It’s a fantastic sculpt, with lots of really sharp line work and some great symmetry, and it really captures the character well. Ultron’s mostly just molded in a dark silver plastic, which looks pretty decent, but he’s got a fair amount of red detailing throughout. In particular, I really like how the mouth has been handled; they managed to get that whole crackling energy thing down just right!


UltVision&Hulk2He’s had no new Marvel Legends for like 7 years (being dead can do that sort of thing to you) but Vision’s managed to get two whole new Marvel Legends figures. His first one hit just a few months ago, and was based on one of the character’s more recent designs. This figure opts for a slightly more oldschool look, offering Vision’s second design ever, from John Byrne’s run on West Coast Avengers. I respect Byrne a lot, but the less said about that run and why the Vision was suddenly mono-chromatic, the better. Regardless of the questionable rationale behind the why of the design, it’s actually not a bad look, and it’s certainly different enough to warrant a figure. The figure stands about 6 ¼ inches tall and has 32 points of articulation. He is, more or less, a repaint of the last Vision figure. He’s built on Hasbro’s favorite body, the Bucky Cap, and uses the same head as the previous Vision. Unfortunately, he’s back to the two-fisted look, which is a shame, since the outstretched hand of the last one (and this one’s prototype) made for a nice variety of poses. To make up for that, this guy gets a brand new pair of feet, sans shoes, which are very well sculpted. He’s also got that same cape piece, of which I am still not a huge fan, but it’s less offensive here. The paint is, of course, the main draw of this figure. Now, he could have been just solid white, since that’s how he was depicted in the comics. However, Hasbro decided to do something a bit more visually interesting, so he’s molded in clear plastic, with white painted over top, making him semi-translucent, which looks really cool. In general, this paint works a lot better for this sculpt than that on the Now! Costume. I do sort of wish the black costume lines went all the way around his torso, but he that’s relatively minor.


UltVision&Hulk3Last up, it’s the required heavy hitter of the set, Hulk. This Hulk, like Ultron before him, appears to be an amalgam of a few recent Hulk designs. Overall, he seems to take the most influence from the Indestructible Hulk book from the Marvel Now! relaunch, though he lacks that look’s armor. The figure is a little over 8 inches tall and has 31 points of articulation. The figure gets a new head sculpt, clearly based on the buzz-cut look from Indestructible. It’s a pretty nice sculpt, which is certainly expressive, so that’s cool. From the neck down, the figure is the same as the Age of Ultron version from earlier this year. It’s a decent enough sculpt, and it actually works a bit better for a comic design, than it did a film design. Hulk’s paint work is fairly straightforward, basic greens and purples. It’s not the most exciting look of all time, but it’s pretty solid work.


I, unsurprisingly, got this set from my local Target. My main interest in getting this set was definitely Vision. He’s definitely a solid figure, and an improvement over the Now! version. Hopefully a proper classic look (or maybe even his 90s look) is on the horizon. Regarding the other two figures in the set, Hulk is a well done space taker, but Ultron is actually a pleasant surprise. He’s the best figure in the set, and probably one of the best Ultron figures ever. Solid work!

#0760: Maria




What’s this? A silent film character on this site? What, am I trying to inject some culture or something?

As surprising as it may be, my interests do actually go beyond modern day entertainment and action figures. I love me some old silent movies, Fritz Lang’s Metropolis in particular. That movie’s got a lot going for it: cool dystopian setting, art-deco look, underground civilizations, gripping fight scenes, a crazy mad-scientist, and one of the coolest freaking robots of all time! Maria, the robot who became the film’s signature character(who actually stole the name from the film’s female protagonist. It’s Frankenstein all over again!), would go on to influence a number of other robots, with Star Wars’ C-3PO probably being the best known. She’s received a few pieces of merchandise over the years, including an action figure, which I’ll be looking at today!


Maria2Maria was part of the second series of Silent Screamers, dubbed Reel Masters line, and released in 2000. Interestingly, while this series was released by Mezco, the first series was actually released by Aztech Toys. Aztech ended up splitting into two separate companies, Art Asylum (creators of Minimates, among other things) and Mezco. So, this series ended up being one of Mezco’s very first products. The figure is about 7 inches tall and has 13 points of articulation. While she is ostensibly based on her robotic appearance from Metropolis, Maria’s design has definitely been tweaked a bit for this figure. The original Maria design is kind of a classic for a reason, so changing the design is shaky ground to stand on at best. Mezco opted to go for a more modern design aesthetic, or at least an early 2000s design aesthetic. In the film, Maria’s look was built around an actual person, so she definitely wasn’t rail thin. Here, however, Mezco is taking advantage of the fact that there isn’t a person inside the figure, so they can give it whatever proportions they like. So, this Maria is really tall and quite lanky.  That’s a reasonable change. However, for some reason, they’ve also given her a pair of rather large breasts, and a pair of crazy high-heeled/platform shoes, which don’t really work well with the design, since Maria’s not really supposed to be overly-sexualized, especially not while in her robot form. Her face has also been tweaked to be more human, which kind of deprives the figure of the necessary cold, steely look.  In addition, the general retro-y, art-deco nature of Maria’s original design has been tweaked, to look a bit more like something that wouldn’t look completely out of place in, say, an early Image comic. The end result is a sculpt that is still clearly Maria, but just feels really off. On the plus side, her paint is actually pretty cool. She’s mostly silver; for some reason, I had always assumed she was gold, but I guess silver’s reasonable. She’s also got some blue accent work, which looks pretty sharp, and looks pretty nifty next to the silver. Maria includes the chair used to bring her to life. Like Maria herself, its design has been tweaked a bit, though nowhere near as much. The chair and stand need to be assembled once removed from the box, and those tubes are a bit of a pain to get into place, but the end result looks pretty cool. Plus, the figure ends up looking a fair bit better sitting in the chair than she does standing. The only real downside is that she has to sit with such a wide stance, due to her hip joints.


I’ve been a pretty big fan of Maria from about 5 years old or so, even before having seen Metropolis (in fact, I saw Metropolis because it was the movie in which Maria appeared). My dad had one of the Maria statues, which I always though was pretty cool. I remember this figure being released, but I don’t think I ever saw it in a store, so I never got one. I ended up getting her as a birthday gift from my pal Phil just this past year. This figure’s far from perfect, but she’s also the only action figure of Maria on the market, and she’s not the worst thing ever. If you’re a fan of Metropolis or cool robots, you could do a lot worse.

#0759: Laser Blast Cyclops




When they held the license for Marvel, Toy Biz tried applying the Marvel brand to everything. Literally everything. This was in part due to Toy Biz being a subsidiary of Marvel, and therefore not having any licensing fees to cover, so they had a certain degree of leeway to try out new stuff. In the early-to-mid-2000s, one of the better selling toy brands on the market was Rescue Heroes, a line of stylized, younger kid friendly action figures. This led to all sorts of imitators, including Toy Biz’s Spider-Man & Friends line, which presented some of the better known Marvel heroes in a near identical style. Despite being a Spider-Man line in name, the line actually covered a pretty decent subsection of the Marvel universe, including their resident Merry Mutants, the X-Men. That included founding member Cyclops, who we’ll be looking at today.


CyclopsSF2Laser Blast Cyclops was part of Series 5 of Spider-Man & Friends, released in mid-2003. While some of the characters received an assortment of variants from the line, Laser Blast Cyclops was the only time Cyclops showed up. The figure stands about 6 inches tall and has 9 points of articulation. His design is based on Cyclops’s movie look from the X-Men and X2, which was relevant at the time. His color scheme has, unsurprisingly, been changed to something a bit brighter, since it was a kid-aimed line. Cyclops got his own, totally unique sculpt, done to match the style of the rest of the line. His face looks a fair bit younger, and the size of his head, hands, and feet are all above the norm. In general, the figure is just a lot stockier than the typical super hero figure, no doubt to boost stability a little bit. He’s also got the standard back port that all the figures had, which allowed for the attachment of the various backpacks included with each figure (and Cyclops’s conveniently houses his battery compartment). He may be a more kid-oriented toy, but Toy Biz certainly didn’t slack off on the sculpted details, though. His uniform has all the various stitching and padding of the film look, and there are even some nice technical details on the visor. Texturing and the like has been toned down a bit, but that doesn’t hold the figure back at all. As noted above, the color scheme for this figure is a lot brighter than the movie look that inspired the sculpt. He’s been given the more traditional blue/yellow scheme, though he does still keep the black for his boots, gloves, and visor. The end result looks pretty great, and fits in very nicely with the rest of the line. Cyclops was packed with a weird yellow backpack with a blaster/gun sort of thing attached to it. It almost looks like a Ghostbusters proton pack, to be honest. In addition, he also had a light-up feature. When his head was pushed down, his visor would light up red to simulate his optic blasts. This has the unfortunate side effect of making his neck joint more prone to breakage than his compatriots.


This was the only figure I owned from this line, since I was a little out of its age range. My brother, on the other hand, was a pretty big fan, and had a sizeable collection of figures, as well as one of the playsets. So, I got a Cyclops so that I would have a figure for when he wanted me to play with them with him. My first Cyclops actually ended up breaking (at that pesky neck joint) while a friend’s daughter was playing with him. I recently picked up a replacement for that figure, courtesy of Yesterday’s Fun. These were actually some pretty awesome toys, and it’s a shame that Hasbro opted not to continue the line when they took over. At least we got the ones we did!

#0758: Goss Toowers




In spite of it being a series very much built around its fancy space ships and fully autonomous robots, the main entries in the Star Wars franchise never really places any focus on the mechanical experts necessary to keep such things running for any real period of time. It’s interesting, since the main characters tend to cover a wide gamut of various places in the two main armies. I mean, even Batman’s got a mechanic, certainly Luke Skywalker does too! It would seem the makers of The Force Awakens are at least somewhat aware of this ill-covered area, if Goss Toower’s bio is anything to go by.


Goss2Goss Toowers is part of the tireless technical crew that provides mechanical support for the Resistance’s fleet of Starfighters.” See that? See, he’s mechanical support for the Resistance! Ha ha! Also, that’s literally the only thing I know about this guy, so…yeah. Like PZ-4C0, Goss is a part of the second round of the basic 3 ¾ inch figures from The Force Awakens. Goss is another part of the second assortment of the “Jungle” sub-set of figures. He’s a little shy of 3 ¾ inches tall and has the standard 5 points of articulation for the smaller scale line. Goss is one of the many new alien characters from TFA, and he doesn’t appear to be from one of the pre-existing races. That’s cool, we needed some new, exciting aliens, right? He’s mostly pretty humanoid, with most of his more alien parts being on what little we can see of his face. He’s also got three fingered hands, and generally a shorter and stockier build than the other characters we’ve seen, which adds a bit of variety. The sculpt seems to be a fairly decent translation of the onscreen look, going by the only character art we’ve been given, anyway. The folds and textures of his clothing are nice and sharp, and he doesn’t feel lacking for detail. His weird helmet thing is a little restrictive, so his head has a tendency to pop Goss4off if moved too far to one side or the other. He’s also just a bit forward leaning, so standing him can be a bit frustrating. The paint work on Goss is alright, but not the greatest. The colors work fine, and I like the gold on the gloves in particular, but the application is a mess; the boots start a good millimeter before their paint does, and the various uniform colors tend to be applied at best in the general area of where the sculpted lines place them. Goss includes a small handheld device, which I assume is a drill or welder or something, as well as another piece to the build-a-thing, which looks not unlike a push mower.


I found Goss at the same time as PZ. I wasn’t going to get him. I really wasn’t. His design is just okay, and I don’t know the character, so I could just wait until after the movie. But, Super Awesome Girlfriend was with me, and, well, she won’t stand for me not buying figures, so I ended up getting him, because there’s no point fighting her. I actually kind of like him, so I’m glad I got him. Just as long as he’s not another Jar Jar…


#0757: Thor & Malekith




Phase two of the Marvel movies was, generally, pretty well-received amongst fans. That said, it seems that there’s no real common consensus as to which of the sequel films offered therein was the best and which was the worst. It seems like everybody’s got one they really like and one they really don’t like. For me, the one I didn’t like was Thor: The Dark World. Okay, that’s not fair. I did actually like the movie, but I didn’t like it anywhere near as much as I’d hoped. When the movie was good, it was really good, but when it was bad, it really pulled me out. And don’t get me started on the mounted turrets in Asgard! Anyway, most of my major issues with the film lied with the main antagonist Malekith, who I just found dreadfully boring, which isn’t exactly what you want from the guy stepping in to replace Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. Anyway, I generally passed on toys of Malekith, but I did end up with one, unsurprisingly coming from the Marvel Minimates based on the film. So, let’s look at him and his pack-mate Thor.


Thor and Malekith were released in Series 53 of the Marvel Minimates line, which was based on Thor: The Dark World.


ThorMal2You can’t have a set of toys based on a Thor movie and not have Thor, so here he is! Hemsworth’s Thor has stayed pretty consistent looking throughout the Marvel films, but his design did take a slight jump towards his modern comic look starting with The Dark World (and, by nature of him having almost the same design, AoU). This figure is based upon his look in TDW, specifically his full-sleeved look from a lot of the fight scenes. The figure is roughly 2 ½ inches tall and has 12 points of articulation (down from the usual 14, thanks to the boots). Structually, Thor uses the basic Minimate body, with six add-on pieces for his hair, chest/cape, wristbands, and boots. These pieces all originated here, though they were all later used on the Series 61 AoU Thor. They do a pretty good job of summing up his look from the film and have a lot of nice detail work. Thor’s paint work is generally pretty nicely handled; the base colors are applied fairly cleanly, and the detail work is nice and sharp. The face doesn’t really scream Hemsworth, and he definitely looks a bit too old, but, overall, he seems pretty cool. Thor includes Mjolnir and a clear display stand.


ThorMal3Zzzzzzzzzzzz…….Oh, sorry! Must’ve dozed off for a sec there. Malekith does that to me sometimes. *Ahem* Well, here’s Malekith. Look at him. There he is. So, he’s built on the usual body, with add-ons for his helmet/hair, hands, and torso/cape. These parts are all pretty well-sculpt, and are accurate to the source material. The hands are shared with the Dark Elves, which is reasonable, since he is their leader. All in all, he looks like the guy from the movie, so that’s good. His paintwork is mostly blacks and off-whites, which are done reasonably enough. The level of detail on the legs is actually pretty fantastic, so you can see that DST was definitely putting in the effort on this guy. The basic head depicts Malekith with the right half of his face all scarred up, as it is in the second half of the film, which is a somewhat interesting look. He doesn’t really look a whole lot like Christopher Eccleston, but he doesn’t not look like Eccleston either. Also, the eyes aren’t accurate to the movie, where they’re mostly black. Malekith is packed with a spare, unscarred head, which matches the regular look, as well as a clear display stand.


Unlike most Marvel Minimates, where I rush out to get them on the day they’re released, I actually skipped this pair for a good long while, mostly due to my disinterest in Malekith. This pack ended up being one of the items in the grab bags I got from Luke’s Toy Store during their 6th Anniversary sale. It’s still not a set I would be inclined to pick up on my own, especially since the AoU Thor is similar to this one, but it’s at least a quality made set.

#0756: Cyclops & Mr. Sinister




Last month, I took a look at one of Toy Biz’s many experiments with the Marvel license from the 90s, ­X-Men: Steel Mutants. They were a line of small scale versions of the X-Men, which featured a heavy dose of die-cast metal parts, hence the “Steel” part of the name. Toy Biz actually offered a pretty good selection of the X-Men in this line, including not one, but two versions of founding member Cyclops. Today, we’ll be looking at one of those, along with his pack-mate Mr. Sinister.


Cyclops and Mr. Sinister were released in the second series of X-Men: Steel Mutants. Like all the others in the line, they work both as comic and cartoon versions of the characters.


SinisterCyclops2This is the second of the two Cyclopses released in this line. While Wolverine got three totally different looks for his three figures, Cyclops just gets a new pose. As opposed to the straight standing look, this one’s got a bit of a running start sort of a thing going. I guess that’s new and exciting. The figure stands roughly 2 ½ inches tall and has 4 points of articulation. Cyclops’s head and arms are plastic, and the torso and legs are metal, like all the other figures in the line. He uses the same head, torso, and left arm as the first Cyclops, along with a new right arm and legs, showing off that deep lunging thing he’s got going on. His sculpt, like that of the first Cyclops, is really a scaling down of the 5 inch Cyclops II figure. That was Toy Biz’s standard Cyclops, and it was a pretty good summation of the character, so it works. The torso’s a bit on the large side for Scott, but hey, it was the 90s, everybody was juicing. All in all, the figure’s pretty well detailed, and not terrible on the proportions, for the time at least. Cyclops’s deep stance makes him a little bit more difficult to keep standing than, say, Gambit, but not as much as you might think. Toy Biz clearly put a lot of effort into making sure these guys were properly balanced, which is good on their part. Cyclops’s paint work is decent for the scale, though there’s some noticeable slop on the changes from yellow to blue, which is slightly annoying. But, smaller details, such as the “X”s on his belt and chest harness are surprisingly clean, and the figure as a whole looks pretty good when viewed from a far.


SinisterCyclops3Mr. Sinister is a pretty natural choice for this line, given his prominence in the cartoon, and he certainly makes sense packed with Cyclops, since they interacted a lot in both the comics and the cartoon. And, unlike Cyclops, this figure doesn’t feel redundant to anyone who had the first series of the line. Sinister was a new sculpt for the Steel Mutants line, though he was more or less just a scaled down version of the 5 inch Sinister from the main line, with the articulation scheme changed. Like that figure, this one feels a little on the small side for Sinister, who was usually depicted as being at least a little bigger than the average person. Aside from that, though, he does a pretty good job of capturing the character’s design. The cape is a separate, removable piece, made from plastic. It clips around the figure’s neck, and doesn’t quite sit right, but it’s close enough not to look too off at this scale. As far as paint goes, Sinister’s mostly painted in the same shade of dark blue, which seems to be a little thickly applied. The rest of the paint is pretty good, though he’s totally lacking Sinister’s usual facial hair. The prototype shows him sporting a full goatee, which is still not correct. Maybe the factory could only do goatee or clean shaven, with no in between? I suppose this would be the preferable choice in that case. There was actually a later single release of this figure that had the goatee, but never one with the character’s actual beard.


Cyclops and Sinister were purchased for me by Super Awesome Girlfriend, when we visited Yesterday’s Fun this past summer. She recognized them as being from the same line as Gambit and Bishop and insisted on buying them for me. I actually had the later single releases of both of these figures, though I can’t say I know where they ended up. All in all, these are another fun little addition, and I’m happy to have them!

#0755: PZ-4C0




The toys from The Force Awakens were supposed to start out with a bang, but then Force Friday happened and turned out to be more of a fizzle. Since then, there’s been sort of a slow trickle of figures for each of the various lines. The 3 ¾ inch line seems to be getting most of the focus, with a handful of new characters being added with each assortment. Of course, until the movie’s actually released, we won’t know which characters are actually major parts of the film and which ones are background scenery. So, let’s take the gamble and see what we got, starting with one of the brand new droids, PZ-4C0.


PZ4CO2PZ-4C0 is a constant fixture in Resistance base control rooms, offering tactical data and communications support during important operations.” So, there’s your background on this character. Check out that epic tale. Anyway, PZ-4C0 was released as part of the second round of basic 3 ¾ inch The Force Awakens figures. She’s part of the second assortment of the “Jungle” sub-set of figures. She stands about 4 inches tall and has 5 points of articulation. PZ has an all-new sculpt, based on her design from the movie. The design is a tweaking of the basic protocol droid design introduced with C-3PO, with a slightly more alien set of proportions. I don’t know that it’s a perfect design; the functionality of the neck joint is definitely a bit impaired; but, it’s pretty visually interesting, and definitely fits in well with the other designs we’ve seen so far. The quality of the sculpt is actually pretty good. The armored parts are more smooth, and they have a nice symmetrical balance to them, and the circuitry bits are well detailed and add a lot of depth to the figure. PZ’s color scheme is definitely another unique aspect of the figure. The main blue color is a nice change of pace, and the painted accents and scuffs are all pretty cleanly done, so that’s cool. PZ-4C0 includes no character specific accessories, but she does include two pieces for the weird build-a-thingy. These are a set of rocket attachments, and they can be placed on her legs, which makes for a sort of a nifty look.


Whilst on a trip to visit my family in NC, I stopped by the nearby Wal-Mart, which just so happened to have a few of the latest Force Awakens figures, PZ included. I had actually seen shots of PZ online and thought she had a pretty neat design, so I was pretty excited to find the figure in-hand. She’s actually a pretty fun little figure, and one of my favorites of the smaller-scale TFA figures I’ve picked up.


#0754: US Agent



Who’s up for a history lesson? Well, too bad, cuz I’m giving one anyway.

Let’s talk about US Agent. As a member of the West Coast Avengers, he was carried over into the reformation of the team, Force Works. Force Works had the luck of being relevant at the time of the 90s Iron Man cartoon, resulting in the team serving as Tony’s primary supporting cast for the first season of the show. US Agent, while a member in the comics, was never on the show. But, since the cartoon’s toyline was taking just as many cues from the comics as it was the cartoon itself, US Agent was slated to be released in the third series of the line. Unfortunately, he was cut from the line-up at the last minute, due to a change in the case pack-outs. His tooling was shelved, and later re-purposed for the proposed Living Laser figure in Series 5 of the same line. When that figure was also canceled, the body was re-re-purposed into the “Muntant” Armor version of Professor X. Then, in 1997, with no rhyme or reason, a slow trickle of US Agent figures began appearing from overseas. They were dubbed a “Limited Release” courtesy of Elegant Way, and were very quickly discovered to be unsanctioned by Marvel or Toy Biz. Some 10,000 units were produced before Toy Biz could halt production, but they did their best to make sure as few as possible made it to the US, ironically making US Agent exclusive to areas outside of the US, and quite a pricey commodity amongst US-based collectors. What does all this have to do with me? Well, in case you hadn’t figured it out, I got one.


USAgent2US Agent was, as noted above, supposed to be released as part of Series 3 of the 90s Iron Man line. Ultimately, he ended up being released on his own, as an unsanctioned product, so this is effectively a bootleg. However, unlike most bootlegs, the quality of the figure seems to be about on par with the official figures. The figure stands 5 ¼ inches tall and he has 8 points of articulation. He only has elbow movement on his left arm, due to a spring-loaded feature being implemented on his right. I’ve actually reviewed most of this figure before, when I looked at Astral Projection Professor X. The right arm, upper left arm, and upper legs are identical between the two figures. The torso and lower legs are mostly the same, though the Professor X pieces had ports for armor add-ons, and the US Agent’s torso has an additional sculpted insignia on his torso. The left hand has a tighter grip on this figure, which is odd, since he doesn’t actually have anything to hold, but it looks fine. The end result is a body that is nearly indistinguishable from Professor X’s to the average viewer. The body’s not the greatest sculpt ever; that torso still looks wonky. That said, it does work a lot better for US Agent than it did Xavier, which makes sense, since US Agent was the character for whom it was intended. US Agent does have his own, totally unique head sculpt, which is cool. It’s not exceptional work or anything, but it is pretty nice, and it gives Walker an appropriately sneer-y expression, plus it sits well on the body. US Agent’s paint work is generally pretty good. Unsurprisingly for a guy named “US Agent,” he consists mostly of red, white, and blue. The blue is molded and the rest is painted on; the application is decent enough, though there’s some slop around the edges. The official prototype shots for US Agent showed him with black in place of the blue, but it’s not unlikely that Toy Biz themselves might have made this change before dropping the figure. US Agent included an energy shield (which has trouble staying in place, due to the spring feature), and one of the standard Iron Man line badges, though it does not have the usual character bio, presumably due to Toy Biz never writing one.


Back in the 90s, when I was first getting into toy collecting, the Iron Man and Fantastic Four lines from Toy Biz were my jam. I got every figure I could, and I even saved the backs of the packaging so that I could cut out the small thumbnail images of all the other available figures. US Agent was one of the ones I remember having that little thumbnail for, but never being able to find. In those days, you didn’t have many ways of finding out about cancelled figures, so I just assumed he wasn’t out yet. It wasn’t until a little later, after discovering the awesome Iron Man Achive on Raving Toy Maniac, that I found out he never came to be. Then it was another several years or so before I found out he actually had come to be, but not in an easily attainable for a 10 year old sort of way. So, I was excited beyond belief when I came across a dealer at this year’s Baltimore Comic Con selling this guy loose, and not even for a small fortune. I’m really happy to finally have this guy, and to have finally completed my Series 3 collection!