#1398: Sword Fighting Hercules

SWORD FIGHTING HERCULES

DISNEY’S HERCULES (MATTEL)

“He’s the greatest sword fighter of all time! Whether he’s fighting the terrifying Hydra, or battling the dangerous Nessus, Hercules fights the bravest of battles with his mighty sword and shield!”

You may have noticed a slight theme to the last few Sundays here at the Figure in Question.  That theme is Disney’s Hercules.  Today, I’m continuing that theme, though I can’t make any promises for keeping it going past this week.  I’ve looked at a variant of Herc, as well as his main foe Hades, but I’ve yet to just look at the standard Hercules.  That changes today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Sword Fighting Hercules is another entry in the Basic Assortment of Disney’s Hercules figures from Mattel.  As noted in the intro, this was the line’s take on Herc’s standard hero togs he sports for the majority of the film’s run-time.  The figure stands about 6 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  In a change from the last two figures I’ve looked at from this line, this guy actually gets some elbow movement, which is cool, but it’s at the cost of all of his leg movement.  You win some, you lose some.  It does cause him to be a touch harder to keep standing than the Hydra Slaying variant, but he’s mostly pretty manageable.  The elbows are a little loose, presumably to aid in the use of action features, but still rather useful.  Also: neck articulation! That sure is nice.  Being able to look side to side and all.  Like the other two, this figure’s sculpt diverges somewhat from his film counterpart.  This one is probably the most faithful of the three I have; most of the changes come from simply translating him into three dimensions.  There are a few slight oddities to his proportions.  His neck’s rather long, as are the arms. Still, not a bad sculpt overall.  Like his Hydra Slaying counterpart, Sword Fighting Herc has a removable cloth cape.  The same cape, in fact (exactly the same in my case; this guy’s borrowing his).  If you want to get technical, it should be a little brighter to be accurate to the film, but it works nonetheless.  The paintwork on this guy is generally pretty decent.  The colors are a little bit more washed out than in the film, but they aren’t far off, and the overall look is quite nice.  Herc is packed with his sword (obviously), as well as his shield.  My figure is missing the shield, but that’s really the less essential piece, so I’m not losing sleep over it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After finding Hydra Slaying Herc and Hades, I was figuring that would be it for my whole Hercules collection, especially since this guy in particular had a rather high after market price.  Then I found this guy at Yesterday’s Fun over the summer, sans cape.  Since I already had the cape from the Hyda Herc, I was able to put together a mostly complete figure for a fraction of his going rate.  As with the Hydra variant, this figure was a pretty pleasant surprise, and I’m very happy to have found him.

The Blaster In Question #0020: Voidcaster

VOIDCASTER

ALIEN MENACE

If I had to attribute my love for toy blasters to one thing, it’s wanting to recreate my favorite video games in real life, one of the most notable examples being the Halo franchise.  These two were brought together a couple years ago when Mattel gained the Halo license for its BoomCo line of blasters.  The thing is, while trying to create accurate replicas of the in-game weapons while also fitting them around recycled, but mostly functional mechanics, they ended up being pretty disappointing, not really doing a good job on either front.  Cue Hasbro who launched the Alien Menace Nerf line, seemingly as a direct counter to Boomco’s Halo branded products.  I’ve already reviewed the Ravager from the series, but today I’ll be taking a look at one of the line’s brand new additions, the Voidcaster.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The Voidcaster was released in 2017 as part of the TRU exclusive Alien Menace line.  If you’ve read my review of the Ravager from the same line, you’ll know that one of the blaster’s highlights were the amount of fine detail and texture work put into the shell.  The same is true for the Voidcaster which sports faux ray skin, bone, and even crystalline elements throughout it’s uniquely molded shell.  Internally, the Voidcaster borrows its primary mechanism from the Snapfire 8 of the Dart Tag line.  Unlike most other blasters, the Voidcaster does not require batteries nor does it need to be manually cycled between shots.  The large trigger —which takes up almost the entire length of the grip— uses its long pull to push the plunger back, releasing it once the trigger has been compressed fully.  Aside from using stored air pressure in a tank, this is the only way I am aware of to achieve a semi-automatic blaster without the need for batteries.  The blaster has 4 barrels linked via smart AR.  The overall shape of the blaster is reminiscent of the iconic plasma rifle from the Halo series and the 8 dart holders on the bottom portion of the blaster, when fully loaded, resemble design features of the needler from the same games.  The blaster feels solid in the hand but it does suffer from a lack of secondary grip points, making one-handed firing practically the only option, however, the semi-auto nature of the blaster means that dual wielding is not a problem.  Accuracy is a bit of a weak point for the blaster.  By extending the trigger down the front of the grip, compressing the spring is much easier than with a single finger trigger, but it also means the blaster jostles around a fair bit when firing, more so if firing in rapid succession.  Because priming the blaster relies on the grip strength of the user, and because it is a toy for children, the spring driving the plunger is not especially strong and as such, power and distance are noticeably sub-par compared to more conventional blasters.  This is definitely an indoor blaster and if you can manage to get your hands on two of them, I highly recommend dual wielding for busting into your younger siblings’ rooms and blasting away.  The included darts are a little frustrating for someone like me who has to keep blasters with the darts they are meant to use.  In this case, given the 4 barrels and 8 dart holders on the blaster, I would have like it to include enough to completely fill all available spaces, but sadly it only comes packaged with 8.  Additionally, the previous 2 Alien Menace blasters came with darts that had grey bodies and purple tips.  The Voidcaster’s included darts are grey with blue tips and, as of me writing this, are the only ones with this color scheme.  Available Alien Menace dart packs only feature purple tips.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was very excited for this blaster since it was announced in Nerf’s pre-Toy Fair press release.  Between then and now, though, there had been basically no word on it.  I was caught quite off guard when I found it at a TRU in South Carolina, so much so that I bought it then and there without a second thought.  It’s a really fun snappy little blaster with some really cool aesthetics, and it’s only enhance by the addition of a second for your other hand.

#1397: Eradicator

ERADICATOR

MAN OF STEEL (KENNER)

After producing one of the most expansive DC toylines ever in the ‘80s with Super Powers, Kenner ran into some issues keeping up with the whole “expansive” aspect as they moved into the ‘90s.  If it wasn’t Batman, it really wasn’t selling.  They tried out a Superman line, Man of Steel, in the mid-90s, which was at best moderately successful.  After two series at retail (the second of which was virtually nonexistent) the line’s third series was scrapped.  Fortunately, two of the proposed figures were salvaged and offered later down the line as exclusives.  I’ll be looking at one of those two, prospective Superman-replacement Eradicator, today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Eradicator was offered by ToyFare magazine as a mail-away offer, extending Kenner’s Man of Steel line by one figure.  He’s based on Eradicator’s design from the “Reign of the Supermen” arc, which was, at the time of this figure’s release, the character’s only design.  The figure stands about 5 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation.   His sculpt was unique to him, and is a pretty decent recreation of Eradicator’s page bound counterpart.  He’s a little more pre-posed than the earlier Man of Steel figures, showcasing Kenner’s steady move into the Total Justice style of pre-posed figures.  Eradicator is at least not ridiculously pre-posed; the slight upturn of the arms at the elbows makes sense for his energy-based powers, and the slight step in his legs helps to keep him balanced with the slightly heavy cape piece.  The head sculpt has a rather intense expression, which was fairly in character for Eradicator, and offered a nice change from the standard Superman sculpts.  The hands on the figure do seem a little on the large side, but perhaps it’t just the pose throwing things off.  His cape is a removable piece, which plugs into place.  It’s a little on the bulky side, but not terribly so.  Underneath is a fully detailed sculpt, which actually has a pretty nifty light-piped feature where the usual logo would be.  Eradicator’s paintwork is pretty decent; the application is mostly clean and sharp.  The contrast could maybe bee a little higher on the blue sections of the costume, but the metallic sheen is still pretty cool.  Also pretty cool?  The translucent feature on his arms.  That’s a lot of fun.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Eradicator predates me really getting a lot of the ToyFare exclusives, so I didn’t get him new.  I’ve been on the look out for one recently, and I ended up fishing this guy out of 2nd Chance Toyz’s $1 bin.  He was still in his little baggie and everything!  This guy’s okay overall.  Not the most exciting figure of all time, but he’s a solid rendition of the character.

#1396: Rapid Fire Imperial AT-ACT

RAPID FIRE IMPERIAL AT-ACT (w/ SERGEANT JYN ERSO, AT-ACT DRIVER, & C2-B5)

STAR WARS: ROGUE ONE (HASBRO)

“A larger version of the standard combat AT-AT, the AT-ACT walker features a dedicated cargo bed for the transportation of heavy building materials or combat munitions. It was deployed at major Imperial construction projects, such as shipyards and sprawling research installations.”

Toy Fans can be a bit stubborn and short-sighted sometimes.  There’s this innate inability to see that not every product is aimed at them, and that adult collectors only make up a very small fraction of the target audience of any given mass produced line. This means that there’s whole chunks of product not meant for us in the slightest, or at the very least, items that are designed with kids in mind first and adult collectors second.  After going pretty hardcore into the adult collector sphere for a while, Hasbro has shifted their Star Wars product into a more toy-etic form, in an effort to maximize sales and appeal to the new generations of collectors being brought in by the franchise’s newest films.  The new product has been an overall success for Hasbro, but some of the more hardcore sections of the fanbase have been less than pleased.  There’s been a lot of crying foul, particularly when it comes to the various new vehicles, which have proved quite divisive.  One of the most divisive was today’s item, the Rapid Fire Imperial AT-ACT.

THE VEHICLE ITSELF

The AT-ACT is part of Hasbro’s Star Wars: Rogue One line.  It was released about a month or so after the first big product launch for Rogue One.  As with the two X-Wings and the TIE Fighter, there’s a bit of assembly required when you open up the AT-ACT.  The the legs, small blaster stalks for the head, and the cargo bed are packed separately from the main base body and head, and they need to be snapped into place (which takes a fair bit of force, let me tell you).  Once fully assembled, the AT-ACT stands 16 inches tall and 12 inches deep.  That’s far from accurate scaling for the 3 3/4 inch figures, which was a point of contention for some collectors.  It should really be twice the size at least, if not even larger, since the AT-ACT was even larger than the AT-AT.  To give a frame of reference, there’s a shot in Rogue One of an X-Wing fighter flying through the open cargo hold of one of these things.  At best, you can probably get one of the old Action Fleet X-Wings through there.  That being said, at the current size the AT-ACT’s large enough to dwarf just about everything else in a collection, all while keeping it to a manageable size for production and storage purposes.  Could it have been larger? Perhaps, but for most people it’s not going to make a huge difference, and this is hardly the first time a Star Wars vehicle has been underscaled for a toyline.  The sculpt on the AT-ACT does a decent enough job translating the film design into plastic form.  The important details are all there, and it matches aesthetically with the vehicles from Force Awakens and the like.  There’s a little bit of cheating in a few spots (such as the slightly larger head relative to the rest of the body) which has been done to maximize playability with the basic figures, but the overall appearance is still fairly close to the source material.  When it comes to playability, there are two main spots that you can place the figures.  Obviously, there’s a spot in the cockpit for the driver.  While the film’s design has spots for two drivers, this one’s just got space for the one.  This is in part due to the down-scaling, but also due to offering storage space for the four Nerf darts used by the firing feature, which I’ll touch on in a little bit.  The other main spot for figures is in the main body’s removable cargo bed.  It’s actually a pretty neat bit; the sides fold down on both sides, revealing a nicely detailed interior, as well as a plethora of footpegs to hold figures in place.  There are even spots for the troopers to stow their rifles, which is a cool touch.  The bed can be removed and deployed as a cool little base or installation, which also reveals the interior of the AT-ACT proper.  There are even more details, as well as two panels that flip up to reveal footwells that can be used for standing space or additional storage.  Paint is minimal on the AT-ACT, but not entirely absent; there’s some minor work throughout, and it’s all pretty decently applied.  There’s also a sheet of decals to pick up some of the slack, and those work pretty well too.  The AT-ACT is packed with three figures (which I’ll look at in just a second) as well as a cannon and a zipline, both of which can be plugged into either the main body of the vehicle or the cargo bed.  A major selling point of this set was the two included action features.  To make use of the features will require four D batteries.  Both play features can be accessed using the various buttons on the AT-ACT’s back, which can be a little difficult to use.  Fortunately, the AT-ACT is Bluetooth-enabled.  You can download the “Star Wars: Studio FX” app to your phone and use it to control the AT-ACT remotely, which is a lot of fun.  Onto the actual features!  The first feature is the walking ability, which is pretty decent.  It’s slow, and this thing definitely needs to be on a flat, uncarpeted surface to work best, but it’s an amusing feature.  There are a number of associated sound effects and such, which help to sell the feature.  There’s also a head movement capability worked into this, which is a little difficult to really get working, but nice nonetheless.  The second feature is the titular “rapid fire” feature, which replicates the AT-ACT’s blaster capabilities through use of Nerf mechanics.  There are four included Elite-style Nerf darts to use, and I find the feature to be generally pretty amusing myself.  Don’t take my word for it, though.  Here’s a word from the FiQ’s resident Nerf expert, Tim. Quoth Tim:

“With such an extensive history of military manufacturing such as G.I. Joe, Nerf, and Furby, it’s not surprising that the Galactic Empire contracted Hasbro to help develop weapons like the ones seen on the AT-ACT.  The dart cannon in the walker’s head is optimized for size, using a greatly miniaturized version of the tried-and-true flywheel mechanisms seen in blasters like the Stryfe.  The cannon uses a gravity-fed, 4-round magazine and an electronic pusher to feed the darts into the itty bitty flywheels, producing some rather hilariously flaccid results especially after the ominous revving noise that precedes each shot.  Also, just as a fun side note, if we can assume the darts are in scale with the pilot figure, the full size projectiles would be almost 4-1/2 feet long.”

SERGEANT JYN ERSO

The first of the three included figures is the film’s leading lady, Sergeant Jyn Erso.  As the main character, I suppose it makes sense to pack her in again, and they were undoubtedly trying to avoid the issues caused by leaving Rey out of the Millennium Falcon from TFA.  That being said, I don’t believe Jyn ever actually interacts with an AT-ACT in the film, so her inclusion does seem a little bit out there.  The figure stands about 3 1/2 inches tall and she has 5 points of articulation.  She uses the same sculpt as the Jedha variant of Jyn from Series 2 of the main line.  Of course, I never got that figure, so this one’s new to me.  It’s a pretty decent sculpt, and I think I like this one more than the Eadu version.  The likeness to Felicity Jones is definitely improved.  The paintwork also appears to be a step-up from the single-carded released.  The basic colors are all the same, but the application is a lot sharper, and she’s also got some extra detailing on the legs, indicating she’s been running around on Scarif’s beaches for a bit (not that it happens in the final film, but hey, let’s go with it).  It’s a little on the heavy side, but it looks decent enough.  Jyn is packed with her blaster, which is painted silver, rather than molded like the single releases, which looks a lot better.

IMPERIAL AT-ACT DRIVER

The AT-ACT isn’t going to get very far without someone to drive it, right?  Well, as luck would have it, the second figure included with the AT-ACT is the Imperial AT-ACT Driver.  This is easily the most sensible of the three figures included.  The figure stands about 4 inches tall and he has the usual 5 points of articulation (though the hips are a bit limited).  The larger scale AT-ACT Driver was a total parts re-use, but I don’t think that’s the case here.  He’s definitely got some similarities to the basic Shoretrooper, but there are enough subtle differences between the two to illustrate that they aren’t made from the same molds.  It’s a little weird that they aren’t the same sculpt, though, because the AT-ACT Driver has some slight inaccuracies to his design that would totally come from sharing parts with the Shoretrooper.  Most glaringly, the skirting on his belt; the driver should have the same style of belt as the Hovertank Driver, but instead he’s got the Shoretrooper skirt, just painted the same color as the pants.  It’s an odd choice.  The other problem with the presence of the skirt is that it impedes the movement on his hips.  Normally, I’m not a huge stickler about such things, but given that this figure’s whole purpose is being able to sit in the cockpit of the vehicle he was included with, it’s more than a little annoying.  In terms of paint, this guy is fairly decent.  Like the larger scale figure, he uses the deco of the AT-ACT Commander, as denoted by the grey on his shoulders.  Where the larger figure kept the dark brown and bone white of the Tank Driver, this figure goes for a more straight black and white scheme.  It’s not terrible, just different.  The figure includes a large blaster rifle, which is the same one included with the two Scarif Troopers.

C2-B5

I can’t say I know much about ol’ C2 here, given its complete lack of presence in the final version of Rogue One.  There were a few potential endings floating around, I suppose it’s possible C2 played a role in one of those.  Or, perhaps Hasbro just really wanted to put an astromech in this set.  It’s Star Wars.  It wouldn’t be right if they didn’t get an astromech droid in there somewhere.  This figure’s about 2 1/2 inches tall and has 3 points of articulation.  C2’s a head-to-toe repaint of the Mission Series R2-D2 (which was re-released for Force Awakens as well).  It’s a pretty standard astromech sculpt, so that’s reasonable.  It’s a shame it couldn’t have been one of the slightly better articulated R2s, but they’re undoubtedly going for consistency here.  Instead of the usual R2 colors, C2 is done up in a more imperial dark grey and silver.  Not a bad look, though perhaps not the most exciting color scheme.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was intrigued by this set when the Rogue One product started hitting, but the initial $300 price tag was just too much for me.  Rather quickly after the holidays, Target started marking it down to $150.  At that price, I was very much tempted, but my finances at the time didn’t really allow me to drop that much on one item.  I mentioned it to my parents, but that was kind of the end of it.  It disappeared from shelves, and I convinced myself that I hadn’t really needed it that much.  Flash forward to my birthday this year, when I unwrapped this.  Apparently, mentioning my interest in it to my parents was *not* the end of it.  My mom went out the very next day and bought this, and then they hung onto it for six months.  This thing got a lot of flak from the fanbase, and perhaps some of it was deserved, but this is a really, really fun toy.  I’m definitely very happy to have it!

#1395: Vulture & Spider-Man

VULTURE & SPIDER-MAN

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

Adrian Toomes uses a specialized flying suit to soar through the skies as the Vulture – but when this winged menace threatens justice, it’s up to Spider-Man to swing in and stop him in his flight.”

Didn’t I *just* review a Vulture & Spider-Man two-pack?  It’s like Hasbro has a reason to be releasing multiple Spideys and Vultures all of the sudden.  I mean, I guess it could be the movie, but I’m not sure.  As has become the norm these days, Hasbro’s taking advantage of the hype from this new movie and using it to put out a few comics-based figures in addition to all the movie fare.  Today’s focus set is a pair of those figures.  Let’s check them out!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Vulture and Spider-Man are a Walmart-exclusive two-pack, as part of Hasbro’s 6-inch Marvel Legends.  They started hitting not too long before Homecoming’s release.

VULTURE

It’s been twelve years since we got a comics Vulture.  Seems like a reasonable waiting period to me.  Where the last one was a classic Vulture, this one’s actually based on his Ultimate counterpart (who, if you want to get technical, isn’t Adrian Toomes like the bio says; he’s actually Blackie Drago.  Of course, the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon uses this basic design for Toomes as the Vulture, so I guess it’s not totally inaccurate.  Also, few enough people know Vulture at all, we probably shouldn’t be throwing a whole second, more obscure character at them.  This is a really long parenthetical).  The Ultimate costume isn’t that far removed from the classic design, just a bit more armored and sleek, and the wings are different.  The figure stands about 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  He’s built on the Pizza Spidey body, with a new head, torso, pelvis, and forearms.   The new pieces mesh pretty well with the old, and he replicates Mark Bagely’s artwork for the character very well.  The head in particular really gets that Bagley style down.  I really enjoy the crazy grin he’s got going on.  Sure, he’s a little young for my preferred Vulture, but that’s accurate to the source material, so I’m not going to complain.  One thing I will complain about ever so slightly is the wings.  Moving past the fact that I’m not super into the Ultimate Vulture styled wings (they just look too much like Archangel’s wings), I’m annoyed that they aren’t at all articulated.  They plug into place, and due to the way they attach, they don’t have any sort of movement.  It’s kind of boring.  I mean, they still look cool, but I just wanted a little more out of them.  Vulture’s paint work is pretty solid.  It’s very green, but it’s a few shades of nice, metallic green.  Everything is nice and sharply applied, and the colors all accent each other well.  In addition to the removable wings, this guy also includes an extra, helmeted head, which is based on his appearance from the cartoon.  It’s a fun extra, and makes for a cool alternate look.

SPIDER-MAN

Can’t have a Spider-Man multi-pack without another Spider-Man, I suppose.  This one’s a slight re-deco of the Ultimate Spider-Man from the Space Venom series.  I didn’t get that figure, but I did get Miles, who uses the same sculpt.  Miles was a very good figure, and by extension, this guy’s quite good too.  He has essentially the same paint work as the Space Venom figure, but with two minor changes.  First, the blue has been changed to a bolder, less teal shade.  Second, he lacks the stripes of red running down his arms.  Why make these changes? Because now, instead of being an Ultimate comics version of Peter, he’s Peter from the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon.  Which means this is actually another Spider-Verse figure.  I can get behind that.  The figure lacks the unmasked head, right fist, and left thwip hand of his single-release counterpart, which is a bit of a letdown, but he does at least get both open gesture hands.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I saw this set a few times and passed on it.  Vulture’s never been super high on my list, and the Ultimate design even less so.  Plus, I hardly needed another essentially standard Spider-Man.  I ended up grabbing this set because while I was out looking for the Homecoming series, I came across this pair on clearance for a 50% mark-down, at which point I was essentially just paying for the Vulture figure.  For that price, it seemed more worth it to me.  Vulture’s a decent enough figure overall.  I have some minor issues, but he’ll do.  Spider-Man’s decent in his own right, but is definitely a “more of the same” sort of deal.  I feel like it would have been nice to get a more unique variant, but at least this one gets us another Spider-Verse entry.

#1394: Iron Man

IRON MAN

MARVEL SUPER HEROES (TOY BIZ)

“Iron Man is the world’s greatest high-tech hero. Iron Man’s armor is made of space-age alloys and is virtually indestructible. Not only that, but the armor is filled with an awesome arsenal including energy blasting repulsor rays, a navigational computer and rocket-powered boots that can fly him at a top speed of 960 miles an hour! Iron Man is really the millionaire inventor and industrialist, Tony Stark. When he’s not wearing his armor and helping his friends Thor and Captain America save mankind from super-powered enemies, Tony’s in his lab creating a new invention to save lives or clean the environment.”

You can’t go anywhere these days without tripping over like 50 Iron Man figures, but that wasn’t always the case.  When Toy Biz took over the Marvel license back in the early ‘90s, there were only two prior Iron Man figures.  They eventually released a whole line of Iron Men, but their first figure of the character was released as part of their early Marvel Super Heroes line.  He’s kinda goofy and I’m looking at him today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Iron Man was released in the second series of Marvel Super Heroes.  Along with that series’ Thor figure, he completes the “Avengers” set started in Series 1 with Cap and Hulk.  He’s based on the Neo-Classic armor, which is more rare amongst action figures.  This was actually its first time in plastic form, and would remain its only appearance until the Marvel Legends Showdown line more than a decade later.  The figure stands about 5 inches tall and he has 7 points of articulation.  These earlier figures kind of mimicked the Super Powers aesthetic, albeit in a slightly lower quality way.  This figure’s sculpt is…interesting.  It’s not the worst thing ever, but it’s not as nice as, say, the Captain America figure.  A lot of the figure’s issues come from the rather primitive snap-on armor.  While later Iron Men would place the focus on getting a decent starting figure and then enhancing them with extra armored bits, this figure goes for a combo Iron Man/Tony Stark.  The problem is that the end result is an Iron Man and a Tony Stark that are both off.  The armor is really bulky and has obvious clips (which are rather difficult to work with), and the underlying Tony Stark is just…odd.  Really, really odd.  I mean, just look at him.  That ain’t right.  The paint work on this guy is okay overall, but his armor is lacking a few of the yellow details.  Maybe they were working from a classic Iron Man image?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This figure slightly pre-dates me getting into collecting…and me existing…so I didn’t get it new.  I did eye it up a few times over the years, but it’s not the most common figure, and it was never high enough priority for me to actually go and track him down.  I ended up finding this guy at the most recent Dave Hart Toy Show back in July, for a pretty decent price.  He’s…strange?  I guess that’s the word.  I find him intriguing as sort of a pre-formed version of the later Toy Biz Iron Men, but as his own figure, he’s not Toy Biz’s strongest offering.

#1393: Buzzing Beetle

BUZZING BEETLE

SPIDER-MAN: CLASSICS (TOY BIZ)

When is a figure you want not a figure you want?  That’s a confusing question.  What I’m getting at is that sometimes, there’s a character you really want, and when they arrive, they just aren’t what you wanted at all.  That’s the perpetual story of Beetle.  He’s a B-list Spider-Man foe, so his appearance in numerous Spider-Man lines over the years is no surprise.  What’s continued to be a surprise is the versions of the character we’ve gotten.  Back when Toy Biz was still pioneering the Marvel Legends style, they gave us our first 6-inch Beetle as part of their complimentary Spider-Man: Classics line.  It was…not exactly what was expected.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Buzzing Beetle was released in Series 14 of Spider-Man: Classics as one of the two Spider-foes in the set.  The figure stands a whopping 7 3/4 inches tall and has 39 points of articulation.  This Beetle figure is based on one of the much later Beetle designs.  It’s not exactly one of the more memorable designs that the character’s had.  In fact, Abner Jenkins, the original Beetle, never even wore this armor.  He instead controlled it by remote.  It was eventually worn by Leila Davis, after Abner had given up the Beetle identity, but even that was rather short-lived.  It’s at the very least a visually interesting design.  The complexity of the design means it also requires a completely unique sculpt.  It’s pretty decent work all-in-all.  The various pieces of armor have differing textures, which adds a lot of additional cool factor to this figure.  The design also really lends itself to toy form, so the articulation can be worked in pretty well.  The hip joints are kind of obvious, as were all of these types of joints at the time.  Beyond that, it’s really pretty solid.  The “buzzing” feature was linked to the wings (which my figure is lacking) and the mechanics are placed within the torso.  Due to the sheer size of the figure, though, the mechanics really don’t impede the sculpt or articulation all that much.  There’s also a light-up feature on the visor, which turns it…red?  Yeah, okay.  The paintwork on Beetle is actually pretty great.  The metallic shades are really cool to look at, and the purple and green go really well together.  There’s also some really fun weathering on the purple bits, which helps further accentuate their already more worn-in sculpt.  In addition to the (missing) wings, Beetle also included a pair of missiles (also missing) to go in the missile launchers affixed to the figure’s forearms.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I saw this figure a few times when it was new, and I never bought it.  I was a little bit resentful that they went with this design over the classic look.  Of course, once it was officially gone from all the regular places, I kind of regretted never picking it up.  I ended up fishing this figure out of the $1 bin at 2nd Chance Toyz, which was pretty exciting.  Sure, it’s missing a few parts, but the base figure is still cool.  Really, at the end of the day, I’m actually kind of happy this figure was made when it was.  It’s actually a pretty fun design, and it’s the sort of thing that wouldn’t really be financially feasible in this day and age.  A good toy’s a good toy.

#1392: Batgirl

BATGIRL

BATMAN ’66 (FUNKO)

Fun fact: did you know that the Barbara Gordon version of Batgirl was only created to help sell the third season of the ‘60s Batman show?  Well, sort of.  Carmine Infantino and Julie Schwartz were working on a way to revamp the Betty Kane “Bat-Girl”, when they were visited by the tv-show’s producers, who were looking for a hook for what would be the show’s final season.  They liked Infantino’s early designs for Barbara, and she was quickly introduced in the comics before making her on-screen debut shortly thereafter.  Yvonne Craig’s portrayal of Batgirl in the show is by far the most definitive take on the character, even years later.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Batgirl was released in the first series of Funko’s new Batman ’66 line of figures.  After being left out of the Mattel line at launch, it’s really nice to see Batgirl turn up much earlier in the new line.  These figures are in a similar style to Game of Thrones figures, but this feels like a property that’s more at home in the style.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and she has 11 points of articulation.  I definitely appreciate the hinges on the shoulders; it’s a shame we couldn’t get similar movement on the hips, but I’ll take what I can get.  The style of these figures has a vaguely retro feel to it, but it’s not quite as hardcore as the ReAction stuff.  The sculpt on Batgirl is somewhat streamlined and more simplistic, but she still manages to have some really incredible detail work, especially on the gloves.  The head actually sports a pretty solid likeness, definitely better than the Mattel version (and I even though that was one of Mattel’s better attempts in their line), and a very crisply defined cowl with her hair billowing out of the back.  The hair is well-placed, so as not to impede the neck movement, which is very much appreciated.  There’s a rubber cape, which is held in place by the head.  It’s fairly light-weight and flexible.  Definitely an improvement on the cloth cape from the Mattel stuff.  The paintwork on Batgirl is decent enough.  The application is all pretty clean, and there’s no real noticeable slop.  The belt has some slight bleed over onto the pelvis, but it’s minor.  I will say, while the flat colors look fine, I do sort of miss the metallics from the Mattel version, and I feel like at the very least, the jumpsuit should have been a little shiny.  Batgirl was packed with a Bat-Communicator, which is cool, though she has trouble holding it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When Funko announced they were doing this line, I will admit, I was skeptical.  I went all-in on the Mattel figures, and I was ultimately rather let down by those.  Similarly, I was only so-so on a lot of the ReAction stuff and the smaller-scale Game of Thrones figures.  But, I was at Lost in Time Toys, and they had Batgirl, and I really liked the look of her, so I figured I’d give the line a shot.  I kinda wish I’d waited it out for the Funko stuff, because I found this Batgirl to be a better put together figure than what we got from Mattel.  On top of that, I’m happy to see Funko starting to find their footing in the action figure world.  Here’s hoping they can maintain their niche. 

#1391: Fireball Shooting Hades

FIREBALL SHOOTING HADES

DISNEY’S HERCULES (MATTEL)

“Fast talking, slicker than slick, Hades is ruler of the Underworld.  When he shoots his deadly fireballs, he causes ultimate destruction.  Only the heroic HERCULES can put an end to this fiery villain’s evil plan!”

Poor Hades gets bum deal when it comes to popular culture.  In just about any adaptation of mythology, he’s perpetually cast as some sort of ultimate villain, when in the actual myths he’s actually one of the more level-headed and reasonable gods.  Compared to the likes of Zeus, Poseidon, or Hera, he’s really not that bad.  Disney’s Hercules is one of the prime offenders when it comes to reworking things to make Hades the villain.  The actual villain of most of Hercules’s stories in mythology is Hera, who resented Herc for being one of Zeus’s many bastard children.  Herc and Hades barely even interacted.  But, I guess having Hera constantly trying to kill Hercules out of a constant anger caused by Zeus’s sexual escapades wouldn’t have made for a very good kids movie, would it?  So, they went with the more obvious “god of death = evil” bit.  At least it was entertaining, right?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Fireball Shooting Hades was released in the basic series of the Disney’s Hercules tie-in line from Mattel.  While Herc got all sorts of variants and the like, this was the only Hades figure in the line.  I’m not sure what other variants you could really do, but hey, I wouldn’t have though of Hydra Slaying Hercules either.    The figure stands about 6 inches tall and he has 3 points of articulation.  Bit of a step down from Herc on the movement front.  Obviously, he lost some articulation to his designs lack of legs, which is understandable.  It’s a shame they couldn’t at least put some extra movement in the arms.  At least his head can turn, though.  Hades’s sculpt was unique to him, and it’s okay, I suppose.  It’s more faithful than the Hercules figure I looked at, which is good.  However, it also means that the focus is on trying to be faithful to a 2D character, rather than making just a good looking toy.  The body works out all right.  It’s pretty clean and it follows the line work of the movie.  The smoke at his feet is a little blocky, but it’s not terrible.  You just need to find the right angle for him.  The left arm is a little impeded by the figure’s action feature, but I’ll touch on that a little later.  The biggest issues come from the head.  They’re pretty much entirely related to the fluidity of Hades’s face in the movie.  He’s very expressive and all over the place, which makes capturing him in one single sculpt rather difficult.  He’s the sort of character that would likely be better served with a few interchangeable heads, but the toy industry wasn’t quite there in ’97.  So, we have to settle with a single expression.  Mattel went with a scary, scowly, wide-eyed grimace.  It’s not a great look.  I mean, yeah, he looks a little frightening, but it’s more in that uncanny valley sort of way, where his eyes just seem too human.  Parts of the sculpt look fine, but it doesn’t add-up to a really great piece.  It’s not terrible, but it could be a lot better.  Moving onto the paintwork, Hades is pretty decent.  Nothing crazy stand-out or anything, but the application is pretty clean and the details are pretty sharp.  In particular, I like the way the flames behind Hades’s head have been handled.  I sort of which his actual hair had been done in a similar fashion, but the solid paint isn’t awful.  Hades has two different “action features.”  The first is the titular “fireball shooting.”  There’s a missile launcher in his left arm.  Load up the fireball and press the button.  There it goes.  Wooooooo.  The second feature is even less involved; move the slide on his back up and down, and the flames behind his head will rise and fall.  Fun times.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked up Hades here from Lost in Time Toys, at the same time as Hydra Slaying Herc.  It was actually finding Hades that got me to grab the pair.  Hercules was pretty fun, but Hades has a few more flaws that hold him back.  Ultimately, he’s fine if you want to stick him on a shelf or a desk or something, but his actual playability is kind of low.

The Blaster In Question #0019: Lumanate

LUMANATE

REBELLE

In general, I’m a fan of the aesthetic choices that go into most Nerf blasters.  By and large they are styled after sci-fi interpretations of regular firearms and that’s cool, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it “pretty.”  Today’s blaster is the complete opposite of that.  My initial reaction to seeing it was something along the lines of “Wow, that’s a pretty gun.”  This blaster is none other than the Lumanate, so let’s take a look.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The Lumanate was released in 2016 as part of the Rebelle series.  Similar to the blasters from last week’s review, the mechanics of this blaster are really nothing new with most features being taken from blasters like the Triad or Messenger from previous years.  It uses a front loading, 3-barrel smart AR setup with an inline plunger, keeping everything pretty simple.  The real points of distinction for this blaster are the shell, first of all, and the light-up feature that works with the darts specifically provided with the blaster.  As you probably figured out, I’m a big fan of the work on the shell of this blaster.  It has a lot of really nice flowing lines and smooth surfaces as well as some eye-catching transparent blue accents on the side panel and trigger.  Sadly, only one side has the blue panel, leaving the other a plain white which is a little disappointing.  Just below the cool blue trigger is a hot pink button which activates the blaster’s light-up feature.  Truth be told, this was pretty disappointing too.  Initially, I expected the entirety of the transparent blue panel to light up when the button was pressed, but instead, there is a single UV LED in the transparent orange muzzle of the blaster.  What this does is it “charges” the special glow-in-the-dark tips of the included darts which is intended to create a kind of tracer effect when fired.  It kind of works, kind of.  Not really.  The tiny LED only exposes about a third of dart tip (not the whole dart, mind you, just the rubber piece at the end) when turned on.  It’s one of those features that technically works, but doesn’t add anything practical to the function of the blaster.  The light-up feature requires 3 AAA batteries to operate but is not integral to the function of the blaster otherwise.  Coming back to the work on the shell, the smooth curved lines make the ergonomics of the Lumanate rather enjoyable.  I can see how the hand guard in front of the grip might make holding the blaster cramped and uncomfortable for some people with larger hands, but Rebelle products consistently have smaller grips than those in the N-Strike Elite series, so it’s not surprising here.  The size of the grip does lend to the overall very compact feel of the blaster in hand.  The Lumanate has an attachment rail on the top of the blaster for accessories.  Putting the disappointing light feature aside, the actual blaster works pretty well, especially compared to other Rebelle blasters.  Darts travel a decent distance given the blaster’s size and hit with the usual amount of force.  This blaster is probably best suited for indoor use because regular darts won’t respond to the UV light, and the 3 that come with the blaster are all you can get without buying a whole new Lumanate.  If you don’t mind messing with the color scheme, though, the Glowstrike darts from the Star Wars: Rogue One series of blasters will also glow.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was really excited to pick this blaster up at first but became gradually less enthused when I discovered the extent of the “illumination.”  Even still, I was very happy with the overall looks of the blaster and feel of it in the hand.  It really reminds me of something the Asari from Mass Effect would have designed, and anything that helps me pretend I’m in Mass Effect is a winner in my book.  Honestly, my biggest pet peeve with the blaster is the name.  Why they spelled it “Lumanate” as opposed to “Luminate” I guess we’ll never know.  I guess if that’s my biggest complaint, though, that tells you my opinion of it.  It’s good.  I like it.