#1456: Annihilus

ANNIHILUS

MARVEL SUPER HEROES (TOY BIZ)

“Power mad is the only word that can describe the flying nightmare known as Annihilus. He’s not satisfied being the merciless ruler of his own dimension, the bizarre Negative Zone – he wants to be the tyrant of Earth’s universe too! And because he carries the near-limitless force of the awesome Cosmic Control Rod on his chest, he has the power to make his wicked dream a reality! Only the Fantastic Four have been able to block his nightmarish plans of conquest.”

The foes of the Fantastic Four don’t ever seem to get much respect.  Beyond Doctor Doom and Galactus, it’s like they don’t exist.  And that’s a shame, because the FF have a lot of really fun villains.  One such villain is Annihilus, the ruler of the Phantom Zone.  Annihilus has had a few different figures over the years, but he got his very first in 1992, in what was effectively luck of the draw.  I’ll be looking at that figure today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Annihilus was released in Series 3 of Toy Biz’s Marvel Super Heroes line.  Series 3 included Toy Biz’s first versions of the Fantastic Four, and they needed a villain to go along with them.  However, Doctor Doom had already been released in Series 1, meaning TB needed another villain.  Why they chose Annihilus is anyone’s guess.  Perhaps they just thought he had the coolest design?  Who knows?  Annihilus is seen here sporting his classic design, which I believe was still the only one he had at the time of this figure’s release.  The figure stands about 5 inches tall and he has 10 points of articulation.  Like most of the others from this line, Annihilus’s sculpt is rather dated, and looks a little out of place with more modern items, or even figures from just a few years later in TB’s run.  The details are a little more simplified, and, most noticeably, he’s really scrawny.  This was a recurring issue, after Toy Biz moved away from the slightly stockier figures of the first two series, where everyone went too far the other direction.  I don’t believe Annihilus has ever been quite this small.  It should be noted, though, that this is still not a bad sculpt.  There’s some nice work on some of the smaller details, especially on the head, which looks good for the time, if perhaps a little goofy in this day and age.  Though jiust how they’d be handled on later figures would vary, the wings on this Annihilus are permanently affixed to the figure, and much like the original Toy Biz Archangel, there’s a wing-flapping action feature that’s operated by the little lever on the back.  It doesn’t offer a ton of motion, and the wings are sort of small and silly, but it’s a mildly amusing little feature.  Paint on Annihilus is fairly simple.  Mostly, he’s just molded in the proper colors, with only a few actual painted details, which are all just straight colors.  It’s hardly inaccurate to his original design, though, so it’s hard to really complain.  Perhaps some metallics would have added some flair, but beyond that, this feels decent enough. Annihilus included no accessories, but he’s got the wings, so that’s at least something.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t have this figure growing up.  Instead, I had the later one from the main Fantastic Four line.  Unfortunately, that one had a removable head, and I lost mine, so I’ve been without a proper Annihilus for a little while.  I’m slowly working my way to getting a complete run of Toy Biz 5-inch figures, so I grabbed this guy at the Dave Hart Toy Show this past summer, in an effort to get one step closer to my goal. He’s sort of a goofy little figure. There’s no denying that.  But, he’s still entertaining, and that’s really all I look for in an action figure.

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#1455: Elite Praetorian Guard

ELITE PRAETORIAN GUARD

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES

“As the Supreme Leader of the First Order, Snoke was flanked by crimson-clad guardians, loyal protectors encased in ornate armor ready to defend the Supreme Leader from any threat.”

It’s been almost a month since I reviewed the Force Link reader and wrapped up my Last Jedi reviews.  Now I’m back with more!  Woooooo!  I’ve yet to find any of the post-Force Friday basic figure releases, but I have managed to find a few other things of interest.  As with The Force Awakens and Rogue One, there’s a Walmart-exclusive assortment of smaller-scale Black Series figures.  It would seem the timing is a little better this time around, since they started hitting only a week or two after the initial product.  Today, I’ll be looking at that series’ take on the Praetorian Guard!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Elite Praetorian Guard is one of the four figures in what is the final series of Walmart-exclusive Black Series figures (the line’s being replaced by the returning Vintage Collection next year).  This guy’s got a different helmet than the one in the two-pack with Rey, denoting he’s a different guard.  I like this one a little more than the last one.  Given the presence of this design in the big playset with Snoke and as the main release in the larger Black Series, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that this guy might be the “lead” guard, but time will tell.  The figure stands about 4 inches tall and he has 28 points of articulation.  The Guard’s articulation is showing the same improvements we saw with the Rogue One figures, though I found his to be about on par with the Death Trooper, who was definitely the most limited of that bunch.  Still, he’s way easier to mess with than the TFA figures.  The Guard gets an all-new sculpt, which is pretty decent overall.  The upper half is really the best work; it’s sharply detailed, the articulation is pretty well integrated, and the build looks to match what we’ve seen so far of these guys.  The lower half has his skirt piece done with cloth, rather than sculpted.  It looks alright, and helps with porsablity, but the shaping’s definitely a bit off in basic standing poses.  His legs are also really skinny, at least to my eyes.  Like his more basic counterpart, the paint on this guy is pretty simple.  He’s mostly just molded in glossy red plastic, with some slight black detailing here and there.  It still looks pretty slick, and one can hardly fault them for following the film design.  This guy includes one accessory: his spear.  It’s a pretty cool piece, and this figure can hold it with both hands, which is a definite plus.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I came across this assortment while I was out searching for a Voltron Keith (who I still haven’t found, by the way).  Luke and Rose weren’t different enough from the basic figures for me to feel they were worth it, and the Executioner’s built on the same body as the rather flawed FO Stormtrooper, so this guy was the only one that came home with me.  Admittedly, I don’t think he’s quite as strong as the Rogue One figures, but he’s still pretty fun, and I’m happy to have him.  Now, let’s wait and see if Hasbro decides to offer all of the helmet variations in this style.

#1454: Phoenix Ikki

PHOENIX IKKI

KNIGHTS OF THE ZODIAC (BANDAI)

And now for another installment of “Ethan reviews a figure from a source he’s completely unfamiliar with.”

Knights of the Zodiac is…this thing?  Hang on, I can do better than that.  It’s actually a manga and an anime, originally titled Saint Seyia, which showed up in Japan in the ’80s and eventually made its way to the US in the early 2000s.  It’s a story that’s rather heavily inspired by Greek myths…and that’s really it.  Not sure where the whole Zodiac thing came into it.  I’m gonna go ahead and blame the French, since they’re the ones that stuck it in the title when they imported it.  It’s always the French, isn’t it? Odd blaming of an entire nation aside, today I’ll be looking at one of the many figures to come out of the property, based on Phoenix Ikki!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

When the Knights of the Zodiac anime was imported to the US in the early ’00s, Bandai America picked up the license and put out few different styles of figures.  Phoenix Ikki comes from the deluxe line, which was larger scale a featured fancy removable armor.  The figure stands 8 inches tall and has 25 points of articulation.  All of the deluxe figures were built on the same standard body.  It’s well articulated, though perhaps a little mannequin -like in its build.  Given that it’s really just meant to be the starting point of a much more complicated design, it’s not a terrible sculpt.  He gets a unique headsculpt, which is decent, I suppose.  It’s a little bit odd, since Ikki has long hair and they still have account for the helmet and other armor, which means the shaping is a little weird.  Not awful-weird, but still no-human-could-have-that-weird.  At the very least it’s unique.  To complete his look, Ikki includes several pieces of clip-on armor.  There’s a helmet, chest piece, skirt/belt, wrist bracers, and shin guards.  They’re a little bulky, and any gold sections are rather flaky, but otherwise, it’s pretty cool.  The chrome is certainly eye-catching, and I really dig the wings, which are individually articulated.  My figure is missing the skirt and one half of each shin guard, but I find I actually like him better without those pieces.  In regards to paint, the figure’s somewhat basic and a little bit drab for my taste, but the application is at least clean, and nothing notable appears to be missing.  The armor was the main extra here, so no real other accessories were included, but he did include a small dummy to store the armor in, which was pretty cool.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When I was much smaller, I watched this show called Mystic Knights, which had a toy line very similar to this one.  Many years later, I found a few of these figures on clearance at KB Toys, so I got them out of an odd bit of nostalgia.  I actually have several volumes of the manga, which I even read, but for the life of me, I couldn’t tell you what happened in any of them.  Nevertheless, this is actually a pretty fun figure, and I’m glad to have it.

The Blaster In Question #0028: SharpFire

SHARPFIRE

N-STRIKE

This week, we’ll be playing the NES classic, Duckhunt using the zapper light gun.  Wait, hang on.  Nope, scratch that, this is a Nerf blaster, but let’s be fair, you can understand my confusion.  I mean, look at it.  Ok, fine, we can look at it together.  Let’s get into reviewing the N-Strike SharpFire.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The SharpFire was released in 2015 as part of the N-Strike series which was a little odd seeing as N-Strike Elite had already been launched several years prior.  It is a single-shot, breach-loading pistol/rifle thing.  It’s a bit of a mess, quite frankly.  To my knowledge, it was the first Nerf blaster to use this breach-loading mechanism but not the last as it has also appeared in the Modulus and Accustrike lines as the IonFire and FalconFire respectively.  The core blaster can be used on its own as a small pistol or combined with the included (and proprietary) stock and barrel extension.  The barrel extension is just a tube that snaps on the front, but the stock can be reversed and used as a holster of sorts.  It even has a belt clip on one side and can hold 6 extra darts in storage as well as holding onto the barrel extension when not in use.  The shell of the blaster is completely original and has only seen reuse in the SharpFire Delta, effectively just a recolor and without the accessories.  The ergonomics of the SharpFire leave something to be desired.  The lump on the back of the pistol grip makes achieving a firm grip rather awkward, and the barrel and stock are too short.  The stock is especially uncomfortable as it has no semblance of a cheek rest of any kind, leaving your head floating awkwardly behind the blaster as you hunch way down to get any kind of sight picture.  The whole thing is quite literally a pain in the neck.  This is not helped by the fact that the barrel attachment mechanism is so poorly designed that it is both too tight where it causes stress marks in the plastic from attaching and detaching, but also too loose so the barrel never stays on straight.  As a pistol, my left hand can wrap around the fingers of my right hand in a standard grip, but as a rifle (kinda sorta), It feels like there should be something more substantial to hold on to in the front of the blaster and there isn’t.  These would be bad enough except that both of these accessories are only compatible with the SharpFire, and likewise, the SharpFire can’t accept standard attachments.  Performance isn’t exactly stellar either.  With just the core blaster, many shots seem to idly coast through the air before dropping to the floor as opposed to the speed and force seen with Elite series blasters, which again, had been out for 3 years at this point.  I just feel like I need to point that out again.  With the barrel attachment on, the loose fit would sometimes mean that darts would impact the inside of the barrel and slow down before exiting the blaster, leading to some hilariously flaccid shots.  Needless to say, you don’t want this happening when you decide to bust into your younger sibling’s room.  You’ve got an image to maintain.  The SharpFire comes packaged with its stock, barrel extension, and 10 N-Strike Elite darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Hoo-boy.  That was a rough one.  When it was first shown in a leaked promo image back in 2014, I was super excited for it to come out because it didn’t look like anything that had come out before it.  I was really confused why no one else seemed interested in what could have potentially been a dedicated Nerf sniper.  Then it came out and I figured out why.  I guess it’s hard to convey scale on a low res leaked picture but this thing really is just kind of disappointing all around.

 

#1453: Spider Racer (w/ Spider-Man)

SPIDER-RACER (w/ SPIDER-MAN)

SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (HASBRO)

Spider-Man: Homecoming hits physical media next week, and I’m definitely looking forward to giving it another watch.  It was an awesome film that felt a little bit crowded out this summer.  The actual film did great in theatres, but a lot of the tie-in stuff was scarce from day one.  I still haven’t seen the Legends figures in any substantial numbers, and while the more basic line’s coverage has been a little better, it still seemed a little small for a Spider-Man movie.  Back in May, I looked at one of the basic line’s takes on Spidey. I ended up picking up one more item from this line, though it’s admittedly not one directly aimed at my particular demographic.  So, without further ado, here’s Spider-Man driving a car!

THE VEHICLE ITSELF

The Spider-Racer was a mid-sized offering in Hasbro’s basic Spider-Man: Homecoming toyline.  It was released fairly early on, right around the same time as the first four basic figures.  The racer measures about 8 inches long by 5 1/2 inches wide, and it has working wheels and a pop-out Nerf feature.  The overall construction of the racer is new to this particular item, and it’s fairly well-rendered.  The racer is pretty solidly put together, so it’ll hold up to fair bit of play, which is good, since that’s kind of the whole point behind an item like this.  Design-wise, it’s totally concocted from the minds of Hasbro’s designers, of course, but they’ve at least managed to create a vehicle that’s plausible as a real thing.  It’s got consistency in its design as well, so it doesn’t just look like a bunch of random elements tacked together.  There’s a bit of an old-style Formula 1 race car look to it, mixed in with a little bit of the Tumbler from Batman Begins.  It’s hardly the most original thing ever, but I dig it. Throughout the body, there’s lots of little details that add a bit more character to the racer.  I appreciate that they didn’t just leave large chunks of this thing totally smooth and featureless.  The racer’s a single-seater, which is a little bit of a letdown if you’re like me and you want to put a couple of alternate reality Spideys in it for a cross-dimensional adventure, but seems reasonable enough within the confines of a movie-based-racing-centric-solo-hero-vehicle.  The latter’s probably a little more marketable than the former, so I can’t really blame Hasbro on this one.  Paint on the racer is pretty straightforward.  Lot of red and blue, which are the Spider-Man colors and all, so that makes sense.  It’s obviously on the toyetic side of things; it’s not like anyone will be mistaking this for a real scale model of a car or anything.  The application is all pretty clean, and the colors are fairly eye-catching.  One of the selling points of the Spider-Racer is its Nerf feature.  There’s a small Nerf gun built into the left side of the vehicle.  Press it in and it pops out, and then you can shoot a Nerf dart.  There are two Spidey-themed darts included, but only one can be loaded at a time.  It’s a mildly amusing feature, but not particularly powerful.  Since it’s Nerf, though, I did go ahead and get a few words from the FiQ’s resident Nerf-Expert Tim.  Here’s what he had to say about it:

“So, if there’s one defining thing Peter Parker does, besides the whole spider thing, it’s invent stuff.  And take photos.  And get bullied in school, but the inventing is the main thing. That’s why it’s a little disappointing to see that he chose to equip his car with one of the lamest Nerf mechanisms ever.  When you load the dart in the barrel, you press back on the collar piece around it which primes the blaster to fire.  It’s super compact, probably more so than even the Jolt and that means it can at least fold away neatly into the side panel of the car.  It’s the same setup we’ve seen on the Rogue One vehicles and that one Build-A-Saber lightsaber set and it wasn’t great then either.  Sure, it gets the job done, but it might have been nice to see a more  creative solution, especially given who’s driving.”

THE FIGURE ITSELF

A car’s no good without a driver, and by extension, a Spider-Car’s no good without a Spider-Driver.  Fortunately, this Spider-Car does have a Spider-Driver, in the form of an included Spider-Man Spider-Action Figure. Spider.  The figure is very much on the basic side.  He’s about 5 1/2 inches tall (the same scale as the other basic figures) and has 5 points of articulation.  The articulation is less than the other standard figures, but it’s enough to get him seated in the car and holding the controls, and that’s really all this figure needs to do.  Spidey uses the same head and torso as the standard Homecoming Spider-Man, with new arms and legs.  It’s a fairly decent sculpt. Nothing ground breaking, but the costume is translated pretty well here and the proportions look decent enough.  He’s even got all of the proper texture work!  The paint on Spider-Man, like the Racer, is fairly straightforward.  Basic color work with clean application.  At least he doesn’t have any of the weird flaking paint issues the he Homemade costume had.  This figure doesn’t have any accessories, but he’s really just an accessory himself, so it’s excusable here.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Okay, I know what you’re thinking: “why’d you buy this, Ethan?” To explain that, I need to give a little history lesson.  Back in the ’70s, Mego was producing their World’s Greatest Super Heroes line.  The Batmobile was a strong seller, so they decided to give all of the big heroes their own themed vehicle.  This included Spider-Man, whose Spider-Car was sort of worked into the comics, albeit in the rather tweaked form of the Spider-Mobile.  The Spider-Mobile’s picked a sort of a cult following over the years (in no part due to some rather brilliant uses by Spider-Man scribe Dan Slott), and I’ve always been a fan of it, as goofy as it is.  So, I saw this on the shelf this summer, in the midst of trying desperately to find Marvel Legends, and it just called to me.  It’s not some amazing piece of unskippable merchandise, but it’s pretty amusing, and will at the very least hold me over until Hasbro releases an official, comics-accurate, Marvel Legends-scaled Spider-Mobile with a Spider-Ham pack-in figure.  Please?

#1452: Nightwing

NIGHTWING

DC ICONS

I’ve had a bit of theme to my purchases as of late, so for the next few Fridays, I’ll be sort of transferring that theme to the site and taking a weekly look at DC Collectibles’ DC Icons line.  Last week, of course, I looked at Supergirl, the first Icons figure I’ve bought in quite a while.  She was a pretty solid figure, so I went back for more, and grabbed the latest version of Dick Grayson, aka Nightwing.  I’m always in the market for a good Nightwing figure.  Is this one?  Let’s find out!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Nightwing is part of the fifth series of DC Icons, alongside Supergirl and the Super Sons.  He’s figure 24, which makes him the first in the set numerically.  Poor Nightwing is actually the last man standing from his initial series-mates; last summer he was first shown off in a series with Shazam, Sinestro, and Deadshot, but those three ended up cancelled, and Nightwing was pushed back a ways to be released alongside Supergirl.  Lucky him?  Nightwing’s package cites that he’s based on his appearance in “Hush,” which has always been one of my favorite Nightwing designs.  It dates back to the Hush line’s Nightwing figure, which has long been my favorite figure of the character. Hush’s more streamlined Nightwing design is really strong, so the design makes a lot of sense here, but it’s still a bit weird to wrap my head around a Hush-based figure that doesn’t actually look like a Jim Lee drawing.  Of course, there are worse things than a figure that looks like an Ivan Reis drawing, so I’m hardly going to complain.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 33 points of articulation.  The upscaling was somewhat evident on Supergirl, but it’s in full force on Nightwing.  He’s not really going to fit in with earlier Icons figures (especially not the Series 1 Batman, which is a little sad), but he’s now a little more at home with something like Marvel Legends.  Just for reference, he’s just a smidge shorter than a Bucky Cap-based figure; the only real inconsistency is the head size, but that’s minor.  Nightwing gets an all-new sculpt, and it’s a very strong one.  The articulation seems quite well worked in, and the figure feels very svelte and streamlined.  The build seems about right for Grayson and the etched-in edges to his logo are very nicely handled.  I wasn’t 100% sold on the head at first (it’s my love of that old DCD Nightwing’s head kicking in there), but after taking the figure out and viewing it from a number of different angles, I’m really happy with it.  Nightwing’s paint work is very strong, apart from one minor issue: the color of his mask.  If this is really a “Hush” Nightwing, then the mask really should be blue, not black.  To be fair to DCC, only the original release of the Hush Nightwing figure got that detail right; all of the re-issues changed it to black.  I have to wonder if it’s some sort of “brand identity” thing.  Beyond that, the paint’s great.  The glossy sheen helps the blue to pop really well up against the matte black, and I also like the high-gloss boots.  This is a very polished looking figure.  Nightwing is packed with his standard Escrima sticks, a batarang attacked to a grapple, and three pairs of hands in fists, and two variations of gripping.  Not a bad assortment.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

It’s all Cosmic Comix’s fault.  No, really.  They sold out of Nightwing initially, so I just bought Supergirl.  And I only would have bought her, content, and unaware of this figure’s existence.  And then they had to go and ask me if I wanted them to order me one.  Darn them and their clear knowledge of my collecting habits….

This figure’s a very strong offering.  I wasn’t sure about him, just based on how much I love that old Hush figure, but this one’s awesome, if for different reasons, maybe.  Regardless, this figure’s so awesome that I went online to see what other Icons figures were coming out, and that’s when I discovered that not only was the line essentially over, but that there were a ton of really cool figures that I wanted that got cancelled.  Now I am a sad Ethan.  But at least I got Nightwing, right?

#1451: Jedha Revolt

JYN ERSO, SAW GERRERA, EDRIO TWO TUBES, & IMPERIAL HOVERTANK PILOT

STAR WARS: ROGUE ONE (HASBRO)

With all of the Last Jedi product floating around, it can be a little difficult to fit in some of my older Star Wars products, especially when it’s stuff that’s only a single movie back.  At least the Power of the Force stuff is noticeably different, right?  Not so much the case with Rogue One, from which I still have a few lingering figures.  Today, I’ll be crossing a few of those off my list and taking a look at the Jedha Revolt boxed-set!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The Jedha Revolt set is comprised of Jyn, Saw Gerrara, Edrio Two Tubes, and an Imperial Hovertank Pilot, all of whom came from the film’s first big set piece, Jedha.  This set is part of the Rogue One line, and is very similar to the Takodana Encounter set from The Force Awakens.  The real notable difference here is that there’s three new figures and one repack, instead of one new figure and three repacks.  Those numbers are better.

JYN ERSO

“Pushing behind a checkered past by lending her skills to a greater cause, Jyn Erso is impetuous, defiant, and eager to bring the battle to the empire.  Used to operating alone, she finds higher purpose by taking on a desperate mission for the Rebel Alliance.”

The Jyn in this set is the same one released in Series 2 of the main line.  I didn’t get that one, though, because I knew this set was coming.  That being said, the mold is also the same one used for the Jyn included with the AT-ACT.  It’s not a bad sculpt at all.  The paint’s a little different on this figure.  It’s not an incredible difference, but there’s enough to notice.  I prefer the work on the AT-ACT figure, truth be told, but I guess this one’s passable.  She gets the same blaster pistol, and adds in her scarf she wears on Jedha for good measure.

SAW GERRERA

“A battered veteran of the Clone Wars as well as ongoing rebellion against the Empire, Saw Gerrera leads a band of Rebel extremists.  Saw has lost much in his decades of combat, but occasional flashes of the charismatic ad caring man he once was shine through his calloused exterior.  Gerrera is bunkered on the ancient world of Jedha, coordinating a prolonged insurgency against the Imperial occupation.  Saw’s ailing health has not withered his resolve to fight.”

Saw is definitely a big selling point of this set, since he’s a fairly prominent character and this is literally the only proper figure of him released at this point.  We see Saw here in his garb from later on in the film, during the “present” sequences.  It’s a sensible choice, since his other look is only seen briefly and it’s not the one he’s sporting on Jedha.  The figure stands about 4 inches tall and has 5 points of articulation…in theory.  All of the joints are there, but you’re not really going to get much range out of any of them.  Saw’s not super agile or anything, so it’s not a big loss, but it’s still slightly frustrating.  The sculpt is all new to this figure, and it’s a fairly nice piece.  There’s quite a bit of detail work going on, and he certainly has a lot of depth.  The head has a passing resemblance to Forrest Whitaker, which is nice, and the overall design seems to have been translated quite nicely.  Saw’s paintwork is generally pretty decent and clean.  I do have one notable complaint, which has to do with the breathing apparatus.  It’s just molded in a solid off-white sort of color, which looks a little goofy.  It really would have looked better if they’d done it in clear plastic and added a few painted details.  Saw is packed with his walking stick which is almost seen carrying in the movie, as well as a small sidearm which he never uses, but is seen carrying on his hip just the same.  Both pieces are nicely detailed and great additions to the figure.

EDRIO TWO TUBES

“Edrio Two Tubes is a mercenary pilot who flies alongside his eggmate, Benthic.  They share the nickname derived from the breathing apparatus that allows Tognath physiology to process oxygen atmospheres.  Edrio’s notice world of Yar Tonga was conquered by the Empire, forcing him to flee as a refugee.  With a desire to strike back at the Empire, Edrio and Benthic have allied with Saw Gerra’s movement on Jedha.”

And now for the “who the heck is this guy?” portion of the set, it’s Edrio Two Tubes!  Yeah, I don’t know either.  But he looks cool, and that’s really the only necessary element for a successful Star Wars character (see: Boba Fett).  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has the same 5 points of articulation as the rest of the set, albeit in better working order than the ones on Saw.  Edrio gets another all-new sculpt, and it’s certainly top notch.   There’s a lot of really awesome detail work, especially on the jacket.  I dig the similarities between the chest piece and that of the Rebel Pilots.  Definitely a cool touch.  The only real complaint I have is that he’s a little hard to get standing, but once you get him there, he stays up alright.  Edrio’s paint is pretty solid, offering up clean base work, as well as some pretty sweet accent work on his jacket.  He definitely has the best work in the set.  He’s packed with a big ol’ rifle, which he sadly can’t hold particularly well, due to the limitations of his posability.  You can still get a decent “over the shoulder” sort of look, so it’s workable.

IMPERIAL HOVERTANK PILOT

“Imperial combat drivers operate the Empire’s arsenal of armored repulser vehicles, from troop transports to heavily armored hovertanks.  Combat drivers are lightly armored, relying instead on the thick skin of their vehicles to protect them in battle.” 

No set would be complete without some sort of Stormtrooper variant, and this one actually gets one of my favorites.  We got the Hovertank Pilot in the 6-inch line pretty early on, but it’s certainly still cool to get him again in the smaller scale.  The figure is largely built from re-purposed parts from the standard Shoretrooper.  It’s a more than adequate starting point, as that was a pretty solid figure in its own right.  He gets a new head and belt, both of which are incredibly sharp sculpts, which certainly add a lot of polish to the final figure.  The paint on this guy is pretty straightforward, off-white and dark brown.  It’s all cleanly applied, though, and he looks pretty spiffy.  He’s packed with a large blaster rifle, which is the same one we saw with the Shoretrooper, Scarif Squad Leader, and AT-ACT Driver.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was rather excited for this set when it was first shown off, but by the time it actually hit about 6 months later, I had sort of cooled down, and was actually in a bit of a tight spot financially.  Fortunately, it stuck around for a bit, and I was actually able to pick it up from Target for about half of its original value.  I will say, this one definitely has a lot more to offer than the TFA set, since most of the figures are new.  Saw, Edrio, and the Hovertank Pilot are all really solid offerings, and are among some of my favorite figures from the Rogue One line.

#1450: Scarlet Witch & Vision

SCARLET WITCH & VISION – SUITED

MARVEL MINIMATES

Hey there FiQ-fans!  Rather than continuing the Voltron love with a Keith review, today I will instead be turning back to one of my old faithfuls, Marvel Minimates.  It’s been a fair while since I’ve looked at anything from this line, so let’s make up for that, and take a look see at Scarlet Witch and Vision!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Scarlet Witch and Vision were released in the summer of 2016 as a SDCC-exclusive two-pack.  Both figures are based (theoretically) on their appearances in Captain America: Civil War.

SCARLET WITCH

“A product of secret HYDRA experiments, Wanda Maximoff once believed the Avengers to be her enemies. However, after fighting beside them to protect her homeland in the battle of Sokovia, she realized that her one-time foes were in fact a force for good. As the Scarlet Witch, Wanda must learn to control her uncanny powers in order to aid humanity alongside her new allies.”

Wanda was the source of much contention when the Civil War ‘mates were first being unveiled.  Despite being a central figure in the film’s plot, she wasn’t available in any of the retail sets.  Fortunately, she turned up here.  Yaaaaaaaay.  The ‘mate sports her spiffy red jacketed look, which is certainly a nice design.  The figure stands about 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation. She’s built on the standard ‘mate base body, with add-ons for her hair and the bottom segment of her jacket.  The hair is the same piece used for the AoU Scarlet Witch (which was itself a re-use from Series 50’s Songbird), which does at the very least sit a little better on this figure than it did the last one.  That’s a plus, I suppose.  The jacket appears to be new to this figure, and it looks decent enough.  I do wish the segment between the torso and the pelvis wasn’t quite as obvious, but that’s fairly minor.  The paintwork on Wanda is fairly solid work.  It’s all pretty clean and the line work is nice and sharp.  Once again, I do wish the center of the jacket piece were painted to match the two bits of torso on either side.  Also, I’m not sold on the likeness on the face, but it’s at least still a nice looking face.  Wanda includes a pair of spell-casting hands (borrowed from her comic book counterpart) and a clear display stand.

VISION – SUITED

“The Vision is a sentient artificial intelligence housed in a highly advanced synthetic body. Since joining the Avengers, Vision has endeavored to further understand humans and his place among them. Though he has yet to come to a definitive conclusion, Vision knows it is his responsibility to use his incredible powers to protect the world in which he now lives.”

There was already one Vision ‘mate from Civil War, which depicted him in his standard garb.  One of the cool things Civil War did was put Vision is civilian clothing, which made for rather an interesting visual.  This ‘mate captures that, but not in the most movie accurate way, strictly speaking.  See, in the movie, he’s wearing sweaters and khakis and stuff; kind of a Cary Grant sort of thing.  This ‘mate instead presents him in a fairly standard suit and tie, which we never see him wearing.  He was supposed to wear it during Peggy’s funeral, but his scenes there were cut, making this ‘mate largely irrelevant.  And it means we don’t get Vision in that sweet sweater get-up.  For shame.  Not really DST’s fault, though.  This ‘mate gets add-ons for his jacket and tie, which are the same ones that have been the standards since the Senate Hearing Tony from Iron Man 2.  Not a bad standard suit and tie.  The paint is mostly limited to the head, which is the exact same piece we saw on the TRU-exclusive Vision from earlier last year.  I preferred that one to the AoU release, and I do still really like it here.  Vision’s only accessory is a clear display stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I meant to get these guys way sooner than I did.  I mean, I loved Civil War and everything, and I have a bunch of the ‘mates.  But then the shipments containing these guys and the Punisher/DD set were super delayed after SDCC, and they just fell under my radar.  My brother Christian ended up getting them for me over the summer, after he found them at GameStop for a sizable discount.  I like both of the ‘mates here, but I can’t really say either of them is incredibly exciting.  Vision’s not actually a design from the final film, and while Wanda’s new look is nice, she’s not so different from the last version.  Still, not a bad set.

#1446: Shiro

SHIRO

VOLTRON: LEGENDARY DEFENDER (PLAYMATES)

“Captured by the Galra, Shiro was experimented upon before he was able to escape to Earth.  He returned with vital information to lead Team Voltron against his former captors.  Calm, thoughtful and wise beyond his 25 years, it takes more than a fleet of Galra cruisers to get a rise out of Shiro.”

Hey, more Voltron!  Alrighty then!  So, in the original Voltron and most off-shoots, the main five pilots are Keith, Lance, Hunk, Pidge, and Allura.  Allura, of course, is actually a replacement for the Blue Lion’s original pilot, Sven.  For the reboot, they’ve decided to mix things up a bit, changing Sven’s name back to Shiro (as it was in the original Go-Lion) and placing him as the team’s leader….at least at the start.  It’s complicated.  As Sven, he’s only had one figure before, and I missed that one, so this one’s actually a pretty big deal.  So, let’s have a look at the latest figure of Shiro, the Black Paladin!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Shiro is another figure from the second series of basic Voltron: Legendary Defender figures, as Paladin two of three.  The figure stands a little taller than Lance at 4 3/4 inches tall and he’s got 20 points of articulation.  Shiro is sporting an all-new sculpt.  It’s totally unique from Lance, but definitely shares a common ancestry.  It looks about the same, just at a larger scale.  He’s got a totally different head, of course.  It’s okay, but I don’t think I like it quite as much as Lance’s.  It’s not entirely Playmates’ fault, though; Shiro’s design is more subtle and less exaggerated than Lance’s, which means it takes less flaws to throw off the whole look.  It’s also not helped by the really thin neck on the torso, which just sort of throws things off.  Still, it’s not an awful attempt.  Shiro’s paintwork isn’t that much different from Lance’s, just swapping in black for the blue.  This makes it a little less vibrant than Lance, and by extension a little less exciting.  He’s got a touch more slop, with an especially notable blob of flesh tone on the back of his hair.  I’m also not 100% sold on how the eyes and eyebrows have been placed; they don’t quite look like they line up with the sculpt.  Shiro includes his helmet and shield, which are the same as the ones included with Lance.  The shield is fine, but the helmet doesn’t sit quite as well as it does on Lance’s head, so it’s not getting much use from me.  Since the Black Paladin Bayard wasn’t available to Shiro, he instead gets a swappable right hand, showcasing his bionic hand’s energy ability.  I would have liked the hand to be transparent, but it’s still cool enough.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Shiro came from the same trip to Walmart that got me Lance.  I had high hopes for this figure, since I missed out on the Mattel Sven figure.  He was the first figure I opened, and I will admit, I was a tad disappointed with him.  He just wasn’t quite what I was expecting.  That being said, after messing around with him and Lance for a week or so, my opinion of both figures definitely improved.  Sure, they could be a bit better, but I’m still very happy with these figures.

#1448: Lance

LANCE

VOLTRON: LEGENDARY DEFENDER (PLAYMATES)

“Lance is all about having fun, even a million miles away from Earth’s comforts and distractions.  Full of confidence and even more full of himself, Lance thinks he’s everyone’s best friend, especially if they’re cute and female.  And while his cockiness often gets the better of him, he always comes through a fire fight.”

Netflix’s Voltron: Legendary Defender has steadily become one of my favorite shows to watch.  Its third season dropped a month or so back, and was rather brief, but contained some of my favorite moments from the show to date.  Season 4 is supposed to hit at the end of this month, and I’m pretty excited to sit down and watch it.  Playmates picked up the license to Voltron back at the beginning of the year, and they’re finally get around to releasing the show’s five main Paladin heroes…well, some of them anyway.  Today, I’m taking a look at Lance, the Blue Paladin!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Lance is part of the second series of basic Voltron: Legendary Defender figures.  He’s the first of the three Paladins offered this time around.  The figure stands about 4 1/2 inches tall and he has 19 points of articulation.  As far as scaling, these guys certainly won’t be fitting in with any of the prior Voltron lines, but I can’t say I mind the size.  They should look okay with stuff like Playmates’ TMNT line and similarly scaled items.  The sculpt is all-new to this figure, and it’s a fairly decent one.  The articulation could perhaps stand to be worked in a little bit better, but it’s far from the most archaic configuration I’ve seen on a modern day figure.  Lance’s design has been tweaked ever so slightly to make it work a little bit better in three dimensions.  The head maintains the most accuracy, and does a fairly respectable job of capturing Lance’s likeness.  The body is decent enough. The major details are all there and pretty accurate.  It’s mostly the proportions that are different; they’re a little on the clunkier side than in the show.  Still, it’s a solid piece of work, and definitely shows improvement over the Series 1 figures.  In terms of paint, Lance is overall pretty decent.  There’s some slight slop here and there, and the whites of his eyes in particular seem to be a lot bigger than they really should be going by the sculpt.  That being said, all of the colors are rather vibrant, and he looks quite spiffy.  Lance is packed with his bayard in blaster form, his energy shield, and his helmet.  Both the blaster and shield are nice pieces, and he hand hold them well enough.  The helmet sits alright, but is definitely too bulky; I feel an alternate head might have been the better way of handling it.  Still, it’s better than I’d expected.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve been patiently waiting for the Paladins ever since Series 1 hit back in January.  They’ve sure taken their sweet time getting here.  I ended up coming across Lance, Shiro, and Keith almost entirely by accident at my local Walmart.  They only had one of each, and Keith’s face was all messed up, so only Lance and Shiro got brought home.  I’m quite happy with this figure.  Sure, there are a few things they could probably change, but for $10, this is a solid toy.