#0947: Resistance X-Wing Fighter (w/ Poe Dameron)

RESISTANCE X-WING FIGHTER (W/ POE DAMERON)

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS

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In the current climate of toymaking, where the costs of plastic are trending fairly consistently upward, pretty much every new mold produced needs to justify the cost of its production. In the years past, most items had large enough initial production runs to offset the tooling costs in pretty much one fell swoop. Sadly, as public interest has moved towards more technologically advanced entertainment, the market for toys has shrunk. Initial production runs are smaller, and so to make sure they tooling costs are covered, companies do their best to get multiple uses out of the same pieces, which tends to mean repaints. Today, I’ll be looking at one of these repaints: the Resistance X-Wing Fighter!

THE VEHICLE ITSELF

ResistanceXWing2The Resistance X-Wing Fighter was released as part of Hasbro’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens line, released right at the tail end of 2015. It was available exclusively at Walmart. The Resistance X-Wing uses the same mold as Poe’s X-Wing (reviewed here). Like that set, the vehicle requires a tiny bit of assembly when it’s first taken out of the box: the nose and wing cannons need to be attached and there are a few small decals meant to be applied to the interior of the cockpit. When assembled, the fighter is 15 ½ inches long and has a wingspan of 13 inches, just like Poe’s version. Poe’s X-Wing had a pretty nice sculpt, and it’s still nice here. It remains a little undersized, but, given the re-use, that’s not a shock. It’s also slightly less of an issue this time, since the included figure sits a little lower. The nose is still made from a softer rubber (which honesty didn’t bug me with Poe’s X-Wing, but it did turn a few people off). One noticeable change is the quality of the wing cannons. The actual sculpt hasn’t changed, but the manner in which they were packaged has, so they came out of the box far less warped than the prior set, which greatly improves the overall look of the vehicle. The paint is the most noticeable deviation from the prior X-Wing. In place of the dark grey and orange of Poe’s personalized vehicle, this one gets the off-white and blue palette of the basic Resistance fighter. It looks really clean, works very well on the fighter. The application is all pretty solid too, with no major slop or the like. BB-8 is still a little under painted on the body, but consistency I guess. The action features on this fighter are the same as those on Poe’s fighter. The wing feature seems a little tighter this time around, but the missile launcher appears to be identical.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

ResistanceXWing4Included with the Resistance X-Wing Fighter is another figure of ace pilot Poe Dameron. He’s based on his look from the film’s opening, which is appropriate, since that’s when Poe is seen using this style of fighter. The figure uses the body of the Armor-Up Poe, along with the head of the single release pilot Poe. While it’s not a combination that really plays up the Oscar Isaac likeness, it’s not a terrible set of pieces. The body is solidly sculpted and has a lot of really cool detail work, so I don’t mind seeing it again. The head isn’t a bad sculpt, but it is a touch generic, especially with the opaqueness of the visor.  Still, it’s a decent representation of the helmet design from the movie, and the details are all pretty well realized. From the neck down, the paint is identical to the Armor-Up figure, which is fine, since that was pretty good. The head is slightly different, since it’s replicating Poe’s more unique helmet from the beginning. The paint is nice and sharp, so that’s good. The opaque visor is a little frustratingly cartoony, but that’s more the fault of the sculpt. Though he’s sort of an accessory himself, Poe does get one accessory: his blaster rifle. It’s the same piece seen with the Armor-Up Poe, but it’s another scene specific piece. I only wish there were somewhere for him to keep it while piloting so that it wasn’t rattling around in the cockpit.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Despite loving the normal release X-Wing and loving the Resistance color scheme, I’ve passed this set up more than a few times in the last few months, due mostly to the $50 price tag. It’s not unreasonable, but it makes me need redundant pieces a bit less. Last week, I managed to find this set at a nearby Walmart on clearance. At 50% of its original value, the set felt way more worth it. If I’m honest, I think the main fighter is superior to the Poe version. The blaster issue has been fixed, and the tension on the wing feature works a bit better. The included Poe isn’t quite as fun as the other version, but his generic-ness makes him a pretty decent unnamed Resistance Pilot. Ultimately, I’m not sure this set is quite as necessary as the first, but for half its original price, it’s way worth picking up.

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#0946: Green Lantern

GREEN LANTERN

JUSTICE LEAGUE (2013)

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Batman: Brave & the Bold is a show that really doesn’t get enough credit. It’s one of DC’s better outputs in recent years, giving us four seasons of episodes built around showcasing some of the more sidelined members of the DCU. While the show was great, the corresponding toyline was more than a little disappointing. Rather than focusing on the obscure characters the show had been designed to highlight, Mattel offered a litany of senseless Batman variants, with only the occasional non-Bat character. What’s more, the figures were plagued with rather pointless accessories, and every one of them had large, distracting plugs on their arms, legs, and backs, ruining the streamlined nature of the show’s designs. What does all this have to do with today’s review? Well, in 2013, after running the B:BatB line into the ground, Mattel decided to reuse some of the molds to create a line of figures based on the New 52 incarnation of the Justice League. While they were sticking more with heavy hitters, the line offered a few new faces, and, more importantly, removed the silly, gimmicky plugs. Today, I’ll be looking at the Green Lantern figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

GLTarget2Green Lantern was released in the first assortment of the Target-exclusive Justice League line, which hit in 2013. He’s patterned after Hal Jordan’s New 52 appearance, which kinda seems a little counter to Brave and the Bold’s more classical influences. Granted, the New 52 GL design was a less glaring departure than some of the others, so he doesn’t look super out of place. The figure stands 5 inches tall and has 8 points of articulation. That’s not a lot of movement. I mean, I get that the designs can be a little hard to articulate, but they didn’t even give him (or anyone else in the line) knee movement. That’s rather annoying. Structurally, he uses a slightly re-tooled version of the basic Brave and the Bold body, which removes the previously mentioned plugs. Brave and the Bold had a rather unique styling to it, which somewhat eschewed the proportions of the characters. It was one of those styles that looks pretty good in animation, but isn’t very easy to translate into three dimensions. This base body tries its best to make it work, but doesn’t really succeed. The biggest issue is that it’s just a lot more rigid and stiff than any of the characters on the show, which makes it look super off, and calls extra attention to the weird proportions. GL’s one new piece is his head. You would think they might base it on Hal’s Brave and the Bold appearance, so as to continue the styling started with the body, but instead, Mattel’s opted to go with their own, more realistic take on Hal. The more realistic styling only further pronounces the issues with the body, which is really unfortunate. Hal’s paint manages to be pretty decent. The colors are nice and vibrant, and the lines are all very clean. I wish the ring had a bit more to make it stand out, but at least it’s there. Hal included a construct accessory, which is nice in theory. In practice, it’s less nice, since it’s re-used from one of the JLU Lanterns, and therefore is nowhere near large enough to fit over tis figure’s hands.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Being the GL geek that I am, I was a bit letdown by the lack of a Hal Jordan in the Brave and the Bold line. When I found out about this line, I quite excitedly went out and tracked down this figure. The final product isn’t quite what I wanted. He’s far from terrible, but there’s definitely some room for improvement, and the overall effort feels rather lackluster.

#0945: Weapon X

WEAPON X – BURNED

MARVEL LEGENDS (TOY BIZ)

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The ‘90s had a lot of big comics “events,” especially compared to prior decades, which had virtually none. I think a lot of it had to do with the success of the likes of Crisis and Secret Wars in the ‘80s, prompting the Big Two to do whatever they could to recapture some of that glory. Marvel’s efforts were primarily focused on their cash cow of the time, the X-Men, who found themselves dealing with all sorts of events of epic proportions. At one point, Marvel deemed that it wasn’t enough to make life hell for our own merry mutants, so they showed us how much worse things could have been by launching the alternate reality-based Age of Apocalypse, which examined what the X-Men ‘verse would have been like without Professor Charles Xavier. The storyline took over all of the X-Men-related books, and was generally pretty successful for Marvel. There’s been a smattering of different figures from it all over the years and today I’ll be looking at one of the four Marvel Legends to be based on the event, Weapon X! Apparently, one of the things that changed in the AoA reality was that the title “Wolverine” went to a different character, so poor Logan had to stick with his Weapon X title. Thrilling! Let’s look at the figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

WeaponXAoA2Weapon X was part of the Giant-Man Series of Toy Biz’s Marvel Legends. It was exclusive to Walmart and was one of the last series to be produced under Toy Biz’s tenure. There were two versions of Weapon X offered: normal and burned. The difference between the two versions is the head and the stump on the left arm. The figure here is the burned version (the only one of the two I still have). Though this figure was technically a variant, he was packed in equal numbers to his regular counterpart and also featured a different Giant-Man piece, which was quite frustrating for a lot of collectors at the time. The figure is about 6 inches tall and he has 35 points of articulation. Weapon X made use of a lot of pieces from the Series 6 brown costume Wolverine. It was one of Toy Biz’s best Wolverines, and one of the best parts about it was that they really got down Logan’s short, stocky physique. The re-use here was definitely warranted. He got a new head, lower arms, and lower legs, all of which fit pretty well with the rest of the parts, and make for an overall pretty cohesive looking figure. The head is actually really cool. I’m not sure if it’s based on a specific instance of Logan getting burned, since it happens a few times, but the level of detail is pretty awesome, and it’s a nice, refreshing take on the usual Wolverine look. The other unique piece here is the stump, which has claws on this version. In the story, it was revealed that Logan’s claws had been retracted when he lost his hand, so he could still pop them out of his wrist. That’s cool, I guess. The claws suffer from a bit of warping, but are otherwise pretty cool. Weapon X’s paint isn’t bad, provided you ignore his rather doofy looking outfit. Most of the work is pretty clean, and there’s some rather nice accent work in several places. There’s a few instances of scratches or slop, but that’s relatively minor. Also, the painted on arm hair’s a bit silly in some places, but it’s overall an okay attempt. The best part is once again the head, which looks convincingly burned, while still managing to not look too out of place next to the unburned skin of the neck and arms. The only accessory included with Weapon X was the left hand of Giant-Man. Honestly, it feels like the burned head and clawed stump would have made for decent accessories to the regular Weapon X, rather than being a separate figure, but I guess Toy Biz really wanted to sell that extra Logan.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Weapon X was given to me as a birthday present by my friend Cindy Woods. I was super into Marvel Legends at the time, and this particular series was fairly difficult to get. She was so excited to find this guy for me that she didn’t notice that some jerk had stolen the Giant-Man piece right out of the side of the box (in her defense, the piece was hidden by the figure’s name tag. Also, who steals just the piece? The figures were like $8!). Fortunately, my dad was able to find another Weapon X online with the piece, so it worked out alright. On the face, this feels like an extraneous Wolverine variant that nobody really asked for. However, this guy’s fun and different enough that he ended up being my one of my favorite Legends Wolverines produced. Definitely a winner!

 

#0944: Bart’s Treehouse

BART’s TREEHOUSE (W/ MILITARY BART)

WORLD OF SPRINGFIELD (PLAYMATES)

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With a whopping 27 years on the air, The Simpsons is the longest running scripted TV show in American history. During those 27 years, The Simpsons has found its way into just about every corner of merchandising, which of course includes my very favorite type of merchandise: action figures. Simpsons figures have been produced by the likes of Mattel, McFarlane, and even NECA, but the most successful, most popular line of Simpsons toys by far was Playmates’ World of Springfield line. Running from early 2000 through to 2004, the line managed to produce just about every named character from the show, alongside prominent variations of the main family, leading to over 200 unique figures produced. They didn’t stop with figures, though. One of the line’s main hooks was the recreation of some of Springfield’s more memorable locales as playsets. Each playset included a unique figure and had the ability to interact with most figures from the line. Today, I’ll be looking at Bart’s Treehouse and its included figure, Military Bart.

THE PLAYSET ITSELF

BartsTreehouse2Bart’s Treehouse was released alongside Series 12 of the World of Springfield line, which hit retail in the spring of 2003. The first 10 series each got two playsets, but Series 12 was when the line was nearing its end, so Playtmates had cut back to one playset per series. The Treehouse is 6 ¼ inches wide, 6 ¾ inches tall, and a little over 4 ½ inches deep. It’s not really articulated in any really conventional way, but there is a hinge on the roof, allowing it to swing up for easier access to the interior.  The construction of the treehouse is fairly basic, but that seems about right. From the screenshots I’ve found online, it doesn’t look like a horrible approximation of the in-show setting. The basic detail work is actually pretty nice. The boards are all fully detailed, with nails and everything, and there are even a few spots for posters on the walls. The actual tree bit is decent, if maybe not as exciting as the rest of the house. The bark in particular is a little on the soft side. It’s also worth noting that the entire back of the set isn’t meant to be seen, so the leaves on the tree just abruptly stop. There isn’t a whole lot in the way of paint on this set. The tree bark is all painted a rather drab greyish-brown, which is appropriate I guess. The two maps and the Krusty the Clown poster are all done via decals. They’re pretty well applied and don’t look to be going anywhere, so that’s BartsTreehouse4good. The rest of the pieces are pretty much just molded in the appropriate colors. It was a tiny bit of a letdown to find out that the bulb in the light fixture was just left green, but that’s pretty minor. In addition to the Bart figure (who I’ll get to in a second), the Treehouse includes a table (with assorted supplies on it), a pile of water balloons, and a pair of binoculars. The set also included the usual interactive feature of all the playsets in the line. There are three ports where compatible figures can be plugged into the set. By each port, there’s a button, which will play a random clip of dialogue associated with the figure on said port. The set is compatible with 51 figures in addition to the included Bart (though a good number of those are just variants of the main family), and there are over 25 unique phrases included. The sound quality’s nothing to write home about, but it’s a pretty novel little feature nonetheless.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

BartsTreehouse3Included with this set is a variant of Bart Simpson, who was one of the more recurring characters in the line. This particular Bart is based on his appearance in the episode “Bart the General,” which had the Treehouse in it, so it’s a good choice. The figure is 3 ¾ inches tall and he has 4 points of articulation (the standard for the line). Overall, he’s a fairly standard Bart, with the usual orange t-shirt and blue shirt (which Bart will no doubt demand you eat). He’s in a fairly generic pose, aside from his arms, which he’s got held up and bent at the elbows, as if he’s doing the chicken dance or something. The head is the main distinctive part here: Bart’s eyes are in a more serious half-lidded position, and he’s got a bit of wheat sticking out of his mouth. He’s supposed to be serious and military, but he ends up looking a bit dopey. To aid with his military look, Bart includes a helmet, sunglasses, and a baton, all of which are pretty well sculpted and sit nicely on the figure. The glasses even cover up the weird eyes and make him less silly looking, which is good. Bart’s paintwork is overall pretty clean, with nice, bright colors, and no really noticeable slop. For the talking feature, Bart gets six different lines with this set: “I promise you victory! I promise you good times!”, “I ain’t gonna get out of the fourth grade alive”, “We are happy, we are merry! We gotta rhyming dictionary!”, “I’m gonna have to teach you a lesson.”, “There’s this boy at school who keeps beating me up.”, and “I can’t squeal. It would violate the code of the schoolyard!”

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

World of Springfield was all over the place when I was growing up, but the only figure I ever got was a Series 1 Bart. The playsets always fascinated me, but I just never got one, since I was a bit young for the show at the time. I was at a thrift store with my brother two weeks ago, and happened upon this particular set for less than half its original retail price. The box was super beat up, but everything was there, so I figured “what the heck?” This is actually a pretty fun set, and I’m glad to have found it. Of course, now I need to resist the urge to go back and pick up the compatible figures!

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#0943: Venom

VENOM

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

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Spider-Man 3 is a movie that a lot of people don’t care for. I actually don’t mind it. In fact, I kinda liked it a lot. Is it a perfect movie? No. Honestly, it’s probably aged the worst of the three Raimi films, and even Sam Raimi’s said he feels it could have been better. It still entertains me, and that’s really all I can ask.

I actually don’t own a ton of toys from Spider-Man 3, though (apart from the Minimates), because of some general weirdness surrounding the tie-in figures. Spider-Man 3 came out in 2007, which was the year that Marvel toys switched from Toy Biz to Hasbro. Despite the prior two Spider-Man films (and pretty much everything else Marvel-related from the early 2000s on) having been pretty much exclusively 6-inch scale, Hasbro opted to release the Spider-Man 3 figures in 5-inch scale. It was a really odd move, and it wasn’t helped by the fact that the overall quality of the toys fell pretty steeply too. The end result was a large number of fans boycotting the smaller line (I didn’t boycott it; I just happened to not get many of the figures). Fortunately, Hasbro recognized the frustration, and put together a series of Marvel Legends based on the Spider-Man trilogy. Most of the heavy hitters from the films were covered, including the third film’s (somewhat maligned) version of Venom, whose figure I’ll be looking at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

VenomSM3bVenom was released in the “Sandman Series” of Hasbro’s first go at Marvel Legends. The series was released at roughly the same time as the Fantastic Four-themed “Ronan Series,” which was between Series 2 and 3 of the main line (The SM3 and FF series served to discontinue attempts at referring to Hasbro Legends by numbered series from there on). Venom stands just over 7 inches tall and has 30 points of articulation. Of the eight figures in the series, Venom was one of the four to get a new sculpt. It’s a rather sizeable sculpt to be sure, though it’s more than a little off from the movie Venom. Topher Grace’s Venom wasn’t anywhere near as big as the comics version, but all the SM3 Venoms seemed to go with a more comics-inspired sizing. So, while this figure’s sculpt certainly has an impressive amount of detail, it’s far from movie accurate. The proportions seem a bit crazy even for a comic Venom. The arms, hands, and upper torso are huge, while the waist and legs are small to almost comedic levels; his fingers come down past his knees for Pete’s sake! The head is also quite exaggerated, far more so than it ever looked in the movie. The crazy open mouth isn’t terrible, but it’s the sort of thing that really should be accompanied by an alternate, less crazy head (similar to the most recent Legends Venom). On its own, it seems rather limiting. Venom’s paint is at least decent. He’s molded in a slightly metallic black, which looks pretty cool, and he sports a nice, subtle silver on all the webbing. The paint around the mouth is a little sloppy, but not horribly so. He could probably stand for a bit more color variety in the gums, but that’s minor. Venom’s only accessory was a piece of the Sandman Build-A-Figure, but mine was acquired loose, so he doesn’t have that.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Venom came from the same random lot of Goodwill toys as the 12-inch Spider-Man I looked at last week. Because of the rarity of pretty much the entire Sandman Series, I never saw this figure at retail. Of course, I can’t really say I would have gotten him if I had seen him. As part of a bag of figures for $10, he’s kinda cool. For full price? Ehhhh. He’s an alright figure, but is definitely from a period when Hasbro were still finding their footing.

#0942: Batman

BATMAN

BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES (McDONALD’S)

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I’ve looked a number of different types of action figures over the course of my over-900 reviews for this site, but the one type of figure I haven’t looked at so far is the “Happy Meal” figure. More often than not (and increasingly in recent years), toys included with happy meals and the like are kind of lame and in no way compare to anything you might actually buy in a store. However, every so often, there’s one or two of these guys that doesn’t totally suck. Today, I’ll be looking one of the ones that doesn’t suck: Batman!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

BatmanMcD2Batman was part of a set of 1993 McDonald’s Happy Meal toys, which were used as a promotion for Batman: The Animated Series. There were 8 toys offered; half were proper figures and half were weird car things. The figure is roughly 3 inches tall and he has 4 points of articulation. He had a unique sculpt, technically based on the appearance of Batman in the initial seasons of Batman: The Animated Series, though a few liberties have been taken. Mostly, it’s proportional stuff. For instance, his arms are about the same length as his legs, which is, you know, a bit off. His head is also a bit on the large side, and rather oddly shaped. Honestly, he looks more like a weirdly shaped child in a Batman costume than he does the actual Batman. He’s definitely sporting a slightly off build. As far as details go, Batman’s fairly simple, but that’s not far off from the show design, so that’s good, I guess. Also, the cape is a separate piece, and it’s worth noting that it doesn’t have the usual scallops. His paintwork is actually not bad, especially given the source of the figure. The colors are a decent enough match to the show, and all of the appropriate details are there (which is better than can be said of some much more expensive figures). Batman had no accessories, but that’s not hugely surprising, given the figure himself is more or less an accessory for fast food.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I actually didn’t get this guy from a Happy Meal (well, not one of my own, anyway). My dad brought this guy home with him one day. Presumably, he got one during lunch that day. Anyway, I know he got him for me and I’ve held onto him for all this time. He’s not a super great figure, but he’s also not bad, especially given his origins.

#0941: Space Marine Lt. Ripley

SPACE MARINE LT. RIPLEY

ALIENS (NECA)

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A little over three weeks ago, it was Alien Day, a celebration of the 30th anniversary of Aliens, the greatest movie of all time. There was lots of awesome stuff going on to celebrate (I even got to see Aliens on the big screen!). NECA, who’ve been making Aliens figures for several years now got in on the fun by offering an exclusive figure in partnership with Toys R Us. So, without further ado, here’s Space Marine Lt. Ripley!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

KenRipley1Ripley is a part of NECA’s ongoing Aliens line. She was a special one-off exclusive, so she’s not officially part of a specific series. However, she falls in between Series 7 and Series 8 as far as the timeline of releases goes. So, we’ve got Ripley from the first movie, Ripley from the second movie, and Ripley from the third movie’s in Series 8; what version of Ripley is this? Well, it’s not Ripley from the fourth movie, that’s for sure. This Ripley isn’t based on a movie incarnation at all: she’s instead based on Kenner’s Lt. Ripley from their ‘90s Aliens line. NECA started using Kenner variants in their Predator line when they started running out of movie designs, so it’s not a huge shock to see them go that route with Aliens too. This Ripley stands 7 ¼ inches tall and she has 26 points of articulation. Since she was meant to be a figure that could be turned around relatively quickly, most of Ripley’s sculpt is the same as the Series 5 version of the character. That was a fantastic sculpt, and is perhaps one of my favorite NECA sculpts to date, so the reuse is far from a bad thing. There are still a few minor nits, but the good outweighs the bad by like a whole lot. In addition, the Kenner Ripley was based on the same basic design as the Series 5 Ripley, so the sculpt really isn’t far off. To help seal the deal, Ripley gets one additional add-on piece for her bandana, which does a suitable job of capturing the Kenner piece, while at the same time fitting right in with the rest of the sculpt. The rest of the changes in design are handled via the paint job, which I must say is quite impressive. The ‘90s were a truly garish time for fashion, and Kenner’s Ripley was not unaffected by this. However, despite not toning down the colors all that much, NECA’s managed to make Ripley not look super ridiculous. To the casual fan, she’s a fairly serviceable normal Ripley, but a toy fan should be able to instantly recognize the reference. The original Kenner Ripley included a huge freaking flamethrower thing. To properly replicated this would have required a whole new tool that wouldn’t have been useful for too much else. So, instead of that, this Ripley gives us our first look at the Smartgun that’ll be included with Series 9’s Vasquez. Ripley has a little trouble holding it, since it’s not what her hands are designed to hold, but it’s an awesomely sculpted piece. Also, as a neat little throwback, the figure also includes a reprint of the comic included with the original Kenner Ripley (These really need to be put out in a collected edition of some sort).

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Oh boy, was getting this figure an ordeal. I hit up my local TRU on Alien Day with no luck finding this figure. I also had no luck finding at any of the nearby TRUs for the next two weeks. In addition, it sold out of TRU’s online store in a few hours, and then the product page disappeared, so I had no luck there. However, patience persevered, and TRU listed more stock online, allowing me to get the figure. Yay. I’m glad I got this figure. Sure, I have most of it already, but it’s an incredibly fun variant, and a wonderful throwback to my very first Aliens figure.

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#0940: Cyclops

CYCLOPS

MARVEL ELECTRONIC TALKING SUPER HEROES

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Today is, amongst other things, the day I graduate from college. It’s been a long road, but it looks like I’m finally done with this whole school thing (for now, anyway…). Graduating is kind of an interesting experience: it’s sort of an all new thing, but at the same time it makes me rather nostalgic of all the time I’ve spent in school. So, I’m going to acknowledge my college graduation the way I acknowledge everything else in my life: with action figures.

Fitting the theme of nostalgia, I’m taking a step back to one of the earliest lines I ever collected: Toy Biz’s X-Men line from the ‘90s. The line was no stranger to gimmicks, and one of the more popular gimmicks of the early ‘90s was action figures that talked. For some reason, that was an area lots of toy makers saw a need to fill, Toy Biz included. They put together a line-up of seven of Marvel’s more popular characters, all making use of this particular feature. There were three X-Men characters represented, including today’s focus figure, Cyclops.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

CyclopsTalks2Cyclops was released in the first (and only) series of Marvel Electronic Talking Super Heroes and X-Men. Yes, the “and X-Men” is actually on the card. Guess they don’t count as Super Heroes. The assortment was released in 1991, alongside the first series of the X-Men line and Series 1 and 2 of the Marvel Super Heroes line. As such, the talking figures have a fair bit in common with their non-talking variations from those lines. In fact, the prototypes on the packaging are just the regular release figures with the talking boxes attached. Cyclops has a lot in common with the X-Men Series 1 Cyclops, but he actually has a few notable differences. The figure stands 5 inches tall and has 7 points of articulation. While he loses the elbow movement from the X-Men Cyclops, he also loses the light-up feature, meaning he gets neck articulation. That would be a feature unique to this figure for several years. Aside from the slight changes in articulation, the sculpt is more or less the same. There’s no denying that this is a slightly dated sculpt, but it’s a step up from what Mattel offered 7 years before. Honestly, I think the neck movement does a lot to help make the sculpt look a little less unnatural, since the head looks far less stiff. The paint is, in theory, the same as that of the X-Factor version of the Series 1 Cyclops. In theory. In practice it’s noticeably sloppier. Like, a lot sloppier. From afar, he’s not atrocious, and I don’t think the figure’s ruined, but there’s no denying that this guy isn’t Toy Biz’s finest work. The talking portion of this figure is handled via a giant red backpack, which plugs right into his back (and stays there really securely. I almost thought it wasn’t coming back off). The figure has three different sounds: “Let’s Go, X-Men,” “Optic Blast Fire,” and a laser blast sound effect. The sound quality is a little muffled, but otherwise not bad. In addition to the talking box, he also includes a gun because… reasons? Maybe it’s because he’s the father of Cable? Yeah, I don’t know, but there it is.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Despite having grown up in the ‘90s, when these things were all over the place, Cyclops is actually a very recent addition to my collection. Two weekends ago, I was in Rehoboth, and one of my favorite stores, Gidgets Gadgets, had just gotten in a large collection of ‘90s figures. They had just about every figure from this set. I was fairly drawn to this guy, for whatever reason. My dad told me he was buying it for me because “How often is it that I get to buy you a Cyclops action figure anymore?” Yes, the figure’s super goofy. There’s no denying that. But he’s also pretty nifty, and plays into my nostalgia pretty hardcore.

#0939: Captain America

CAPTAIN AMERICA

MARVEL SUPER HEROES SECRET WARS (MATTEL)

CapSW1

For about a decade now, Hasbro has held the Marvel license. At the same time, Mattel has held the DC license. However, for a short period of time, the licenses were actually reversed. Well, sort of. In the ‘80s, Kenner Toys (who were later purchased by Hasbro) held the DC license and produced the popular DC Super Powers line. At about the same time, Mattel was given the Marvel license, and produced the Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars line. It was nowhere near as successful as Super Powers, but it did manage to produce a few Marvel mainstays, including Captain America, who I’ll be looking at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

CapSW2Captain America was part of Series 1 of the Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars line. As noted in my Wolverine review, the line was designed to tie-in with the Secret Wars maxi-series being published by Marvel Comics (a series that was itself being published because Mattel had requested a comic they could more easily produce a tie-in for). Cap was one of three Avengers produced by the line, with the other two slots being filled by Iron Man and Falcon. The figure is about 4 ½ inches tall and he’s got 5 points of articulation. The Secret Wars line was built pretty heavily on parts re-use, but Cap only used the standard torso. His head, arms, and legs were all unique pieces (though the legs would later be used for the Europe-exclusive Iceman figure). They do a decent enough job of capturing Cap’s look, though, like just about every figure in the line, he’s rather devoid of detail. The Secret Wars figures had a physique that, to quote my friend Jill, “looks like dough.” On the plus side, the gloves and boots do showcase a bit more detail than was often seen in this line. Cap’s face is also appropriately heroic. I do have to wonder where his ears have gotten to, though. Cap’s paintwork is certainly bold, with all the proper colors. It’s not particularly exciting, if I’m honest. There’s not much beyond the most basic work, and even then, some areas still feel a bit phoned in: the belt is only present at the very front, and he only gets two red stripes on each side. There are also sloppy edges all over the place, and all of the painted details are notoriously prone to paint wear. Cap’s lone accessory was a shield. That might seem appropriate, but it’s not; rather than give him his actual shield, Mattel instead gave him a wonky lenticular shield, with the same secret identity revealing gimmick as seen with the rest of the line. Yes, Mattel actually made a figure of Captain America and didn’t give him his mighty shield. They went there.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Despite being an older figure, Cap is a relatively new acquisition. I found him at a rather cool antique store that I went to with my parents, just two weeks ago. Secret Wars has never been my thing, but there are a few figures I have an appreciation for, and Cap was one of them. Is he a fantastic figure? No, he’s really not. He’s kinda dopey, and he’s several steps behind what Kenner was doing at the same time with Super Powers. However, I must admit having an affinity for sort of dopey figures, so I find myself quite liking this guy.

CapSW3

#0938: Action Marine

ACTION MARINE

GI JOE: CLASSIC COLLECTION– KEYCHAINS (FUN 4 ALL)

Marine1 (2)

1994 marked the 30th Anniversary of the original G.I. Joe figures. At the time, G.I. Joe was in a bit of an odd spot. The 3 ¾ inch line had started to die down, but the 12 inch line had not yet come back in full force. To celebrate the anniversary, Hasbro sort of combined the two, releasing the original 12-inch Joes, but this time in the smaller scale. Four years later, Fun 4 All, perhaps one of the only not-Hasbro-companies to ever do G.I. Joe toys, made use of Hasbro’s molds to produce a line of keychains…sort of. Yes, they had the key chain bits attached, but by-and-large, this felt like an excuse for Fun 4 All to produce a set of G.I. Joe figures. And why not? Well, let’s have a look at one of the “keychains” they produced, the Action Marine.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Marine2 (2)The Action Marine was one of the four keychains offered in Fun 4 All’s G.I. Joe: Classic Collection – Keychains line, offered starting 1998. All four keychains were fully articulated figures, which a detachable keychain piece (which is missing from my Action Marine. You can clearly see my main interest in these). The figure is 3 ¾ inches tall and has 14 points of articulation. The sculpt of this figure is a slightly altered version of Hasbro’s Action Marine from 1994. The only real difference between the two (apart from the slightly lower quality of the plastic used by Fun 4 All) is the addition of a loop between the shoulder blades to allow for the keychain’s attachment. The overall sculpt isn’t bad. He’s more or less on par with any of the vintage 3 3/4-inch Joes. Some pieces of the sculpt seem a bit more rudimentary, most noticeably the shoulders, which don’t mesh together organically. In addition, the lower quality of the plastic means that some of the finer details from the original sculpt are lost, which gives him all around simpler look. Still, he’s far from horrible; certainly better than some other figures in the scale. In addition to the step down in plastic quality, there’s also a step down in the quality of the paint. It’s still not bad, mind you. The colors are appropriate, and the level of detail on the camo is decent. However, the paint has a tendency to chip, especially on the hands, and the application is rather on the sloppy side. The Action Marine included no accessories (beyond the detachable keychain, if you’re inclined to count that). A rifle or something would have been nice, but these were relatively low-price, so it’s not a shock.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When I was younger, I went in and out of periods of being into G.I. Joe. The earliest Joe I can remember getting for myself was actually one of these keychains, but it wasn’t the Marine, it was the Sailor. I ended up getting the Marine a few years later from a KB Toys (KB pretty much kept these guys in stock until they went out of business). I never really had any particular affinity to him, but he just sort of stuck with me. He actually got left at my Grandparents house for several years, and I found him a few months back while doing some cleaning. He’s not one of my favorites, and he won’t really be winning any awards, but he’s got a certain charm to him.