#0843: Chopper Predator

CHOPPER PREDATOR

PREDATORS (NECA)

Chopper1

Alien vs. Predator is NOT a good movie. It’s pretty terrible from start to finish. However, it’s failure as a film is more punctuated by the fact that there’s actually a lot decent ideas (or at least the beginnings of decent ideas/concepts) that are completely dropped in favor of making the film as generic and forgettable as possible. One of the most disappointing aspects of the film is it’s handling of the second titular character, the Predator, or more accurately to the film, the Predators. The movie presents us with three unique Predators. They look cool, and their super imposing, and you’re super excited to see what they can do. But, they spend the first half of the film cloaked, and when they finally engage the Aliens, two of the three are taken out in the space of 5 minutes (by the same Xeno, no less!), leaving us with only the least distinctive of the three Predators to carry the rest of the film. Fortunately, NECA’s currently in the process of making super cool toys of just about every Predator ever, so the AvP Preds have gotten new life via action figures. Today, I’ll be looking at my personal favorite of the trio, Chopper Predator.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Chopper2Chopper Predator is part of the 14th Series of NECA’s Predators line, which is the first of a handful of series (in both the Predator and Aliens lines) based on AvP. The figure stands almost 9 inches tall and has 32 points of articulation. Chopper uses a new base body for the Predators, introduced in this series, and shared with his two series-mates. This new body is much larger than previous Predators, and also offers a much greater range of motion and posability. The body is nicely proportioned, and it has a ton of really great texturing and fine detail work. Seriously, every part of this sculpt is covered in texturing, which makes him look really cool. While a lot of the body is shared with the other two Predators, Chopper does get a unique head, forearms, and plasma caster. The head depicts Chopper’s bio mask very nicely; the texturing on it really makes it look like the real thing. The “hair” is a little bit unruly, but it’s made from Chopper3soft rubber, so it can be managed.  The forearms are the real star here, since the large blades are what he takes his name from. The gauntlets have some fantastically ornate work on them, while still being nice and sturdy, and the left one even has a flip-up display. The actual blades are well-handled, and surprisingly sharp; they’re included in both semi-stowed and fully extended lengths, which is a nice touch. One of Chopper’s more distinctive elements was the pair of skulls mounted on spikes on his back, which this figure replicates as best it can. They’re included as separate pieces; one is slotted into the base of the plasma caster, and the other is supposed to pop into the little clip on Chopper’s back. I say “supposed” because mine included the clip included on Celtic and Scar, rather than the smaller unique clip that Chopper was meant to have. Chopper4Fortunately, a carefully shaped and cut twisty tie was enough to keep it in place! The actual skulls are just as awesomely sculpted as the rest of the figure, and replicate the in-movie look very well. Chopper’s paint work is another pretty great area. There’s some nice variance in the sheens of the various parts of him, with the skin being shinier than the armor and cloth. He’s also got some fantastic accent work on the armor, which gives it a nice worn in look and adds a lot of depth to the figure. There are one or two spots of bleed over, but the overall work is good enough that they don’t jump out at you. In addition to the two Chopper5sets of blades, and the skulls on spikes, Chopper also includes a Combi Stick (in retracted form), a pretty brutal looking knife, and a shuriken looking thing (which he can’t hold, what with having two fists. It’s the thought that counts!). That’s incredibly impressive given that prior Predators were lucky to get more than one accessory!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Despite not caring for the film, I’ve actually been anxiously awaiting this series’ release ever since they were announced. I was always bummed that Chopper was so under-utilized, and even more bummed when he was the only Predator left out of McFarlane’s tie-in line. I bought Chopper from All Time Toys, after catching their post on their FB page that this series was in stock. I’m so happy to have him, and he’s hands down my favorite Predator to date. NECA did an amazing job on this one!

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#0842: Patriot

PATRIOT

MARVEL UNIVERSE (HASBRO)

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The early 2000s were a bit of a dim time for Marvel, at least for me. For almost a decade, they decided to do their very best to make fans looking for more “classic” interpretations of the heroes unwelcome, by giving just about every major series a dark, brooding, paranoid tone. There were a few series that managed to not suck, though, and one of my personal favorites was Alann Heinberg and Jim Cheung’s Young Avengers. The team has, unfortunately, been pretty scarce in the toy world: there was one boxed set at the end of Toy Biz’s run with Marvel Legends, a Vision 2.0 (released as a variant of the original Vision) in Marvel Minimates, and then today’s figure, Eli Bradley, aka Patriot!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Patriot2Patriot was released in Series 17 of Hasbro’s Marvel Universe line. It’s actually Patriot’s second figure, which gives him twice as many figures as half the team, and infinitely more figures than the other half of the team. Yay for him, I guess. The figure stands roughly 3 ¾ inches tall and has 23 points of articulation. Eli had two distinct looks in the comics; this figure (like his Marvel Legend) is based on his first costume. He spent far less time in this costume than the other, but it’s a slightly stronger design and it’s got a lot in common with Bucky’s costume, which allows for some part re-use. Part re-use is probably the real reason this figure even exists, since he’s 100% re-used from other figures. His body is (unsurprisingly) from Series 7’s Bucky figure, and his head is from Series 5’s Union Jack (oh no, conflicting patriotism! What will he do?). The tricky thing with these re-used parts is that, while Bucky and Patriot’s designs are similar, they aren’t identical. So, Patriot ends up with a very different collar than his comics counterpart, the front of his jacket has buttons on both sides (as opposed to just the right side), and his boots are cuffed. It’s a bit frustrating that none of these were fixed for this figure, but it is what it is I suppose. At the very least, the overall look of the figure is a close approximation. The paint does do its fair share to try and mask some of these issues as best as possible; the front of the jacket, for instance, only has painted piping on the right side, allowing the other side to sort of “fade in” to the torso. The paint also adds the small stars on his forehead and torso, as well as the striping on the sides of his legs. Unfortunately, the figure lacks the proper white piping on the edges of the gloves. Also, some of the paint, especially the red, is quite sloppily applied, though this is only really noticeable up close. Patriot was packed with Captain America’s original shield, which, like the rest of this figure, is a reuse, though it’s completely excusable here, since it’s supposed to be the exact same shield.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Being an avid Young Avengers fan, I bought Patriot as soon as I found him (which was at my local comic book store). Of the six Young Avengers figures in existence, this is probably the weakest. That being said, he’s not terrible. The parts he re-uses, while perhaps not 100% accurate, are at least good pieces. That makes this figure a good figure, if not an accurate one. Plus, viewed through the lens of “inaccurate or not at all” I’ll happily take inaccurate.

#0841: Farmer Zombie

FARMER ZOMBIE

THE WALKING DEAD MINIMATES

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I have *a lot* of Minimates. The vast majority of them were purchased because I actually wanted them, or was invested in the character presented. However, some of them I have for no other reason than “they’re Minimates.” Today’s focus, the Farmer Zombie, is one of the latter.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

FarmerZombie2The Farmer Zombie was released in the third series of The Walking Dead Minimates. He was double-packed, and could be purchased with either Prison Hershel or battle-damaged Tyreese. The figure is about 2 ½ inches tall and has the usual 14 points of articulation. The Farmer Zombie is based on a zombie that appeared in issue 49 of the comic. He uses the basic ‘mate body, along with an add-on piece for his hair/the saw-blade stuck in his shoulder. The add-on piece attaches from the bottom of the head, slipping over the neck peg, rather than plugging into the top of the head like most ‘mates. The piece works reasonably well, though it does greatly limit the posability of the head, since the whole thing’s all one piece. As with most Minimates, paint is this figure’s strongest suit. The base colors are suitably drab, and the detail work is exceptionally well-handled, with some great texturing and depth, which makes the guy actually look pretty darn creepy. The Farmer Zombie’s one accessory was a clear display stand, though my figure was lacking his.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Series 3 is actually where I stopped really picking up Walking Dead Minimates, so I didn’t get this guy new, nor did I feel any huge need to track him down later. I ended up getting him when I ordered a random loose “Mystery ‘mate” from Luke’s Toy Store, along with a few other items. I wouldn’t have gotten this guy otherwise, but I’m glad I did, because he’s actually a pretty well-put-together ‘mate.

#0840: Bumble Bee & Hot Spot

BUMBLE BEE & HOT SPOT

TEEN TITANS (BANDAI)

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You know, I hate on Mattel a lot, especially in regards to their DC Comics-related output. Believe it or not, there was a time I didn’t consider them the worst company in possession of the DC license, thanks to good ol’ Bandai America. For reasons no one was ever really able to explain, Bandai picked up the license for the Teen Titans cartoon of the early 2000s, and they put out a selection of figures that were….less than stellar. That said, some of their figures remain the only figures to date of certain characters, including both of the characters I’ll be looking at today, Bumble Bee and Hot Spot!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Bumble Bee and Hot Spot were released as a two-pack in the fourth series of Bandai’s Teen Titans line. As far as I know, the pair never interacted on the actual show, so it’s an odd pairing, but Bandai seemed to pick the pairings at random for just about every set in the line.

BUMBLE BEE

Bee&HotSpot2Bumble Bee is probably the more prominent of these two, being the de-facto leader of the Titans’ East Coast branch, and getting a prominent role in several episodes over the show’s run. The figure is a little over 3 ½ inches tall and she has 5 points of articulation, due to Bandai deciding to cut articulation on later series of the line. Because the figures didn’t have enough stacked against them! Bumble Bee had a unique sculpt, which actually isn’t too bad. The proportions are a tad off in some spots (especially the arms), but the figure does a decent job of capturing her design in the show. She’s certainly a lot better than other figures from the line. Bumble Bee’s paint work is actually not terrible. She’s got all the proper colors, and none of her sculpted work has been left unpainted. Her paint has also stood the test of time pretty well, which is a nice change of pace for this line. BB’s prototype showed her holding one of her stinger weapons, but the final figure is sadly lacking them. She does, however, get a set of removable wings. It would have been cool if they’d been articulated, but I guess it’s just good they were actually there.

HOT SPOT

Bee&HotSpot3Hot Spot was never much more than a minor character on the show. Of his four appearances on the show, only one of them actually had him do anything of substance. Still, the dude had a pretty cool look, so you couldn’t leave him out of the toyline! He’s right at 3 ½ inches tall, which makes him a little shorter than BB. Since they never interacted on the show, I can’t really say if it’s accurate of not. He seems to be in a slightly different scale going by the size of his head, but it’s hard to say. Like BB, his sculpt is unique, and it’s a pretty good approximation of his look on the show. The bent elbows are kind of an odd touch, since most of the other figures avoided such posing. The slight pre-posing of the legs can also make him a bit difficult to stand. Hot Spot’s paint is a bit of a letdown. The biggest thing is that he’s flat out missing painted details to match up to the sculpted ones on his legs, which is annoying. Also, it’s more of a personal preference thing, but the decision to go with solid yellows and reds on the head and hands robs the figure of a lot of the character’s visual interest. Hot Spot was packed with…ummm… I’m actually not sure what it’s supposed to be. Maybe it’s a flame blast or something? I don’t know, I lost mine. But hey, at least he’s got a permanent gripping pose on his right hand! That’s totally accurate to the character…

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked this pair up from Target back when they were still new. I was still pretty excited for the line at the time, what with the show still being on the air. These were two of my favorite characters on the show, so I was happy to get them. I have to admit, they aren’t as bad as I had feared, at least based on the others I’ve reviewed from this line. They aren’t the greatest figures of all time, but they’re still pretty fun, and they’ve managed to age pretty alright!

#0839: Rey (Jakku)

REY (JAKKU)

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES

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“Rey is a resilient survivor, a scavenger toughened by a lifetime of dealing with the cutthroats of the harsh desert world of Jakuu.”

There’s one more major character I haven’t looked at in this latest round of The Force Awakens figures. In fact, she’s the lead character! Let’s take a look at Rey!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

ReyWM5Rey is part of the third series of the Walmart-exclusive Star Wars: The Black Series figures, alongside the previously reviewed Poe and Finn, as well as a re-released Han Solo from Return of the Jedi. The figure is 3 ¾ inches tall and has 26 points of articulation. I do wish her waist joint offered more movement, but her articulation is generally pretty solid. Rey is noted as being based on her “Jakku” appearance, which isn’t all that different from her look from the rest of the film. That said, this figure does feature Rey wearing gloves, which she only does during the film’s Jakku scenes, and all of her accessories are Jakku specific. Rey’s sculpt is similar to the larger 6-inch figure, but like Finn and Poe, there are enough differences to show that this is an original work. It’s definitely a top-notch sculpt; there are lots of great small details, and the texturing on her cloths is very nicely handled. Her proportions are fairly balanced (perhaps her arms could be just a touch less gangly, but that’s minor), and the head has a passable likeness of Daisy Ridley. The hair’s a little thicker than Ridley’s was in the film, but that’s forgivable, given the small scale. Rey does take a bit of a hit in terms of paint. The general application is not terrible, ReyWM3but she suffers from some rather sloppy spots. In addition, the joints for her ankles are cast in flesh toned plastic, which makes them stand out quite a bit against the brown of her boots. Lastly, she has the same slightly rosy cheeks as her larger scale counterpart, which, while a bit more subtle this time, exhibit a dot-matrix-style patterning (suggesting a printed paint app of sorts), which is a little distracting up close. Still, she fairs a bit better than either of her previously-reviewed figures, which show’s Hasbro’s at least getting a little better. Rey makes out quite well in the accesories department, including her signature staff (now with proper painted details), a back pack, and an alternate head featuring the head wrap and goggles she wears in her introductory scene. While thes parts are all re-used from prior Rey figures, the improved paint apps elavate them to a new level, and the complement the figure very nicely.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Rey was the last of these figures I got. I ended up having to stop at five different Walmarts to find her, and when I finally did find her, she was the last one the store had, and she’d even been hidden under a Darth Vader figure. Rey was packed into cases in the same quantities as Finn and Poe, but as the lead, she’s proved to be the first figure to get picked up by most collectors (and she’s also become scalper-bait. Yuck!). In addition, she’s hands down the best figure in Walmarts’s exclusive line, and the best Rey figure currently available. Here’s hoping that Hasbro can find a way to get more of this figure out there, because everyone should have this figure.

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#0838: Kylo Ren

KYLO REN

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES

KyloWM1

“A dark warrior strong with the Force, Kylo Ren commands First Order missions with a temper as fiery as his unconventional Lightsaber.”

Every story needs a villain, and for The Force Awakens, that’s good ol’ Kylo Ren.  A lot of people took issue with the character’s portrayal in the film, but I really enjoyed it, and look forward to seeing more of the character (and the makers of the next Fantastic Four film should take note on how to properly handle a vain, masked, megalomaniac with a bad temper).  I’ve only looked at one other Kylo figure, so why not look at another?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

KyloWM2Kylo was released in the second series of the Walmart-exclusive Star Wars: The Black Series figures, alongside yesterday’s Stormtrooper and a figure of Leia from A New Hope.  The figure is roughly 4 inches tall and he has 26 points of articulation.  The neck and right shoulder are somewhat restricted by the sculpt of the hood, but other than that, the articulation is pretty solid here.  The larger Kylo used cloth for the outer portion of Kylo’s robes, while the regular 3 ¾ inch figure opted to sculpt the whole thing.  This figure goes for the best of both worlds.  The upper half is entirely sculpted, while the lower half makes use of soft goods for the outer most skirt.  This allows for the hood to be a bit more controlled than it was on the larger figure, while still offering some extra movement on the legs.  I think this compromise works, though it does look just the slightest bit jarring at the changeover.  I wish the cloth skirt were just a touch shorter, but other than that, it works well. The sculpted parts are quite impressive, and offer a ton of really great texture work.  On a whole, the figure looks quite imposing, a trait I felt the larger figure lacked.  Kylo’s paint is fairly minor, given how much of him is just straight black, but what’s there is pretty solid.  The silver of the mask and belt looks good, and I definitely appreciate that they used a different finish of black for the gloves and boots.  Kylo is packed with his distinctive lightsaber, both lit and unlit, which seems a better solution than a removable beam.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Kylo was picked up at the same time as Finn and the First Order Trooper, purchased for me by my Super Awesome Girlfriend.  Kylo was definitely one of the figures from this set that I wanted the most, seeing as I didn’t get one of the smaller scale Kylo’s back in September.  The 6-inch figure was a bit of a disappointment, but this guy definitely delivered, and he’s probably the best Kylo out there right now.

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#0837: First Order Stormtrooper

FIRST ORDER STORMTROOPER

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES

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“Equipped with sleek armor and powerful weapons, the Stormtroopers enforce the will of the First Order.”

Everybody’s gotta have some faceless minions, right? You just aren’t a credible threat without a few thousand faceless minions! So, why don’t I take a look at one of the quintessential faceless minions, the Imperial First Order Stormtrooper?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

FOTrooperWM2The First Order Stormtrooper is part of the second series of the Walmart-exclusive Star Wars: The Black Series figures. The figure stands just over 3 ¾ inches tall and has 26 points of articulation. The articulation still features the awkward hips, and the torso joint is rather loose, but hey, guess what! We finally have a 3 ¾ inch FO Trooper who can hold his blaster properly! Isn’t that swell? Well, it’s more bittersweet, really. I’ll get to that. The sculpt is all-new to this particular Trooper; it’s decent, but not as strong as some of the other Troopers we’ve gotten. He’s a bit on the scrawny side, especially for the rather bulky FO Troopers. Still, the basic design is pretty solid, and there’s some nice detail work, especially on the underlying bodysuit. Now, here’s where a few minor issues with the sculpt arise. First of all, there’s the issue of the neck peg, which is once again much larger than the other figures (such as Finn), preventing easy head swaps. Then there are the hands, which have a fairly loose grip, which, coupled with the slightly restrictive sculpt of the elbow joints, means the figure has a really difficult time holding his gun the right way. Which is a super bummer. What’s even more of a bummer is the paint; it’s all over the place. There’s pretty much no part of the figure that isn’t subject to a missed section of paint, or some bleed over. While he looks okay from a distance, he’s really sloppy up close. The FO Trooper is packed with both a large and a small blaster, just like his larger counterpart. As noted, the figure has difficulty holding them, but one can be stowed on his thigh, which is cool.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got the Stormtrooper at the same time as Finn, courtesy of Super Awesome Girlfriend. I’m a fan of the new Trooper design, so I was kind of looking forward to this particular figure. It’s hard to say I’m not disappointed a little by the end product. The joints aren’t as strong as they could be, the hands are badly sculpted, and the paint is pretty sloppy. That said, he’s not terrible, just a bit of a letdown. Could he be better? Absolutely. Could he be worse? Very much so.

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#0836: Finn (Jakku)

FINN (JAKKU)

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES

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“A trained warrior desperate to escape his past, Finn is plunged into adventure as his conscience drives him down a heroic, but dangerous, path.”

One can hardly have Poe without Finn. Those two have to stick together! So, let’s look at a Finn figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

FinnWM2Finn is another figure in the third series of the Walmart-exclusive Star Wars: The Black Series figures. As with Poe, the main draw of this figure is the higher detailing and higher articulation count than the regular 3 ¾ inch figures. The figure is about 3 ¾ inches tall and has 26 points of articulation. The articulation is much the same as Poe’s, which is to say it’s mostly good, apart from the slightly outdated hip joints (though they’re less of an issue here, since being able to sit easily isn’t essential for Finn). As the name notes, this is the Jakku version of Finn (though his Jakku look ends up being his main look for the movie). At first glance it looks like this figure might share a few parts (namely the head and coat) with the regular release Finn, but a closer look shows that all of these figure’s pieces are new to this release. The detail work on the sculpt is absolutely superb, and there’s tons of fine detail work that really makes this figure stand out. The level of texturing on the clothing, especially the incredibly subtle detailing on the shirt, are really impressive. The two previous Finn’s had a pretty decent John Boyega likeness, but I think this one beats both. While Poe’s figure was hampered by sub-par paint, Finn ends up a bit more lucky on that front. The base paint is all very clean, and the work on the face is some of the cleanest I’ve seen from Hasbro in some time. The jacket and the lower portion of his pants also get some nice accent work, which adds a touch of realism. The pants could stand to be a touch more subtle, but the overall look is good. Finn is packed with a blaster, the same one all the other Finn figures have had. He doesn’t really use it much in the movie, but it’s a unique looking gun. What’s more, the level of painted detail on this version is astoundingly good. If only Hasbro could handle all of the accessory paint this well!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After finding Poe, I was eager to pick up the rest of the Force Awakens characters from this line. Finn here was purchased for me by my Super Awesome Girlfriend, at a slightly out of the way Walmart. Poe had a few issues that held him back, but Finn isn’t in the same boat, and ends up being the best version of the character we’ve gotten so far. Definitely glad I got him!

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#0835: Poe Dameron

POE DAMERON

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES

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So, a slight aside: I do my very best to keep this site light and fun. Action figures are kind of my one outlet of pure enjoyment, and I like to pass that enjoyment on to others as best I can. Sometimes, the real world gets to me a bit, but I try my best not to let it influence my writing, but it gets really hard. Back in December, The Force Awakens was by far my favorite thing of the moment, and more than anything, I wanted to review Star Wars toys. So, I bought a whole bunch, took the pictures, and put them on the schedule. But, before I could get around to actually reviewing them, several outside forces cropped up, and managed to suck just about all the excitement I had for Star Wars toys right out of me. There’s a whole lot of fighting going on in the community, and I’m just not a fighter. I really just want to enjoy my toys. So, in the next five days, I’m going to do my best to review some figures I was really excited about, without letting the outside stuff get me down. As an advance warning, that probably means minimal introductory comments from me for a few days.

Anyway, sorry if I brought people down; let’s move onto today’s figure. It’s Poe Dameron, number one pilot in the Resistance.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

PoeDamWM2Poe is part of the third series of Walmart-exclusive Star Wars: The Black Series figures. Prior to the Force Awakens branding, Hasbro was running The Black Series in both 6-inch and 3 ¾-inch scales, but the rebranding led to the 3 ¾-inch line being nixed, in favor of a more expansive selection of the lower-end 3 ¾ inch figures. Fortunately, Walmart decided to carry the higher-end 3 ¾-inch figures as exclusives, giving collectors a chance at some better articulated versions of The Force Awakens’ main characters. Poe stands 3 ¾ inches tall and has 26 points of articulation. Articulation is one of the main selling points on these guys, and most of Poe’s joints are pretty well-handled. The only real problem areas are the hips, which use a somewhat outdated style of joint and are a bit of a pain to work with. Poe gets an all-new sculpt, which depicts him in his pilot gear, which, after seeing the film a few times, really feels like his definitive look. The sculpt of this figure has a fair bit in common with the 6-inch version of Poe, but a close examination of the two shows that it’s not just a shrunk down version of that one. The sculpt has a ton of great texture work, and it’s top-notch for the scale. Poe’s likeness seems to be the toughest one to crack for Hasbro. It’s hard to accurately judge the sculpt on this one, since it’s under some iffy paint, but it does appear to be Hasbro’s closest effort so far. Unfortunately, it’s under the aforementioned iffy paint. Most of the paint on this figure really isn’t that bad, but the face just doesn’t look right. It’s definitely the eyes and eyebrows. The pupils of the eyes are too low-set, and the brows are just too thin to properly capture Oscar Isaac. I’d love to say the eye issues are a one-off, but every version of this figure I’ve seen looked about the same. Poe includes his helmet and a small blaster. The helmet is a great piece, and it’s the first one not to look oversized, and the blaster fits nicely both in Poe’s hand and the holster on his belt.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was surprised by these figures, truth be told. I’d heard rumblings of them happening, but I hadn’t seen any actual confirmation. Then I caught pictures of Series 3 over the holiday, and knew I’d have to try and track them down. Poe was the first one I found; he was the only figure left at my local Walmart. None of the Poe figures so far have been quite right, and this one continues that trend. Were the paint on his face a bit better, he’d be the best version of the character, but as it stands, I still like my mash-up of the two 6-inch figures the best. Still, this guy’s not a terrible figure, and he’s probably the best small-scale Poe out there.

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#0834: Amazing Heroes Series 1

BLACK TERROR, DAREDEVIL, CAPTAIN ACTION, STARDUST, GREEN TURTLE, BLANK SLATE, CHAMPION OF MARS, SILVER STREAK, & MADMAN

AMAZING HEROES

AmazHero1

In the 1940s, Superhero Comics made their first emergence, replacing adventure pulps as the thing for magazines to be.  It was the era that gave us a good chunk of the DC line-up (though a fair portion of them weren’t initially owned by DC), as well as Captain America, Namor, and the original Human Torch (who wasn’t actually human). These characters have managed to stick around for a pretty long time, and their success allowed the companies who owned them to stay in business for the ensuing 75 years. Unfortunately, a lot of comic publishers from the era weren’t quite so lucky when the initial superhero boom came cooled down in the early 50s, causing many to shut their doors. While some were absorbed by other companies (see: DC absorbing Charlton, Faucett, and a few others), many simply disappeared, leaving scads of characters with no home. These characters eventually fell into the public domain. Since these characters have no associated licensing fees, you would think they’d be natural fits for action figures. Trouble is, they all went out of publication (and therefore fell out of the public eye) quite some time ago, making them a very, very niche property. However, through the help of some Kickstarter funding, some of these guys have finally made their way into plastic form!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

These nine figures make up Series 1 of Fresh Monkey Fiction’s Amazing Heroes line. They are the result of two separate Kickstarter campaigns.

I’m not usually one to discuss packaging, but it’s worth noting that the Amazing Heroes packaging was designed to be collector friendly, so the figures can easily be removed and replaced. 7 of the included figures include extra, character specific cards, with art provided by several well-known comic artists.

AmazHeroPacks

SERIES 1:

The initial Series 1 campaign ran wrapped up in August of 2014. It consisted of six of the nine total figures.

BLACK TERROR

AmazHero4Black Terror is probably one of the better known characters included here, no doubt due to his fairly distinctive design. The figure stands 4 ½ inches tall and has 5 points of articulaiton. He’s built on the standard body for this line, which is used for all of the included figures. If it looks familiar, that’s because I’ve sort of looked at it once before; the Amazing Heroes figures are patterned after Mattel’s Secret Wars line from the 80s. The body isn’t a straight copy, of course; the build is quite similar, but the actual construction is a little different, as the AH body is built for easier customizablity, and does not feature any hollow parts like the SW figures. The body wasn’t the best fit for the Marvel Super Heroes of the 80s, but it feels much better for 40s era characters, such as Black Terror. Terror uses the main haired male head, which seems to have been sculpted specifically with him in mind. The sculpt is nice and sharp, with a fair amount of detailing, but not so much as to make it feel out of place on the more simplistic body. Terror also uses a cloth cape, handled in the same style as Kenner’s Super Powers figures. It’s definitely goofy looking, but in just the right way. Terror’s paint work is nice and sharp. Most of his costume details are handled via paint, and, while there’s a little bit of unevenness to some of the line work, the general look is very clean.

DAREDEVIL

AmazHero5Wait, isn’t Daredevil a Marvel character? Why yes, yes he is. But, before Matt Murdock became the horn-headed Daredevil we all know and love, Bart Hill held the name. Instead of blind, this Daredevil was mute. He was actually a fairly successful character, and probably has the most modern-day appearances of all the figures in this set. He’s also got one of the coolest costumes in comics. The figure uses the same base body as Black Terror, but he uses a different head(which loses the hair and defined ears), as well as an add-on piece for his distinctive spiked belt. The belt isn’t a perfect fit to the body, but it’s pretty close, and the sculpt is a very nice translation of the design. Daredevil’s paint is key to his costume being “one of the coolest in comics.”  Fortunately, his two-toned nature is handled very well. With the exception of one small section, the blue is painted on top of red plastic, which is definitely the right way to handle it because red paint tends to be the absolute worst. The colors here are nice and bold, and he just looks really sharp. Daredevil includes his signature boomerang, which he holds very well.

CAPTAIN ACTION

AmazHero6Captain Action is the one figure in the first set who’s not actually public domain, but his rights holders agreed to having him included here. Unlike the others in this set, this is far from the first action figure Captain Action has received, since he began life as a competitor to G.I. Joe (in fact, his line was actually the first instance of licensed action figures, though the good captain was himself wholly owned by Ideal Toys). The Captain gets a head sculpt that is different from the two prior sculpts, with a slicked back hairstyle and a slightly more expressive face. He was originally set to use the same head as Black Terror, but FMF used some of the Series 1.5 funding to get a third basic head produced, which is definitely a better fit for Captain Action. He also gets a separate piece for his traditional officer’s cap, which is molded to the sculpt of his hair, allowing it to sit quite nicely and securely. Captain Action’s paintwork is on par with Terror’s; it’s not 100% perfect, but there’s not anything particularly bad. The figure comes packed with a pistol, just like the one the original CA carried. I wouldn’t have minded getting his lightning-bolt-shaped sword too, but I suppose the line had to be drawn somewhere. Also, while he has no disguise pieces, the interchangeable nature of the figures means you can have him masquerade as any of the other characters in the set!

STARDUST

AmazHero7Stardust the Super-Wizard I was previously unfamiliar with, but reading up on him, he certainly is an interesting character. If you though Superman was overpowered, this guy can do pretty much everything Supes can, in addition to being able to transmogrify people! He’s also probably the figure done the least justice by the base body. His listed height is 6’8”, which would make him at least a little bigger than the rest of the Amazing Heroes. In addition, his original artist, Fletcher Hanks, had a very unique art style, which makes fitting him to a base body, or even rendering him in three dimensions at all a bit of a mean feat. So, it would seem FMF did their best to render him within the established style. As well as using the base body, Stardust also uses the same basic male head used for Black Terror. It works surprisingly well, and looks quite different than it did on Terror. A lot of this is owed to the paint, which offers enough subtle differences to make him look convincingly like a different person. The only real downside to Stardust is the rather unfortunate grey coloring of his original design, though next to the more colorful designs of his series-mates, he actually does stand out a bit.

GREEN TURTLE

AmazHero8The Green Turtle! Wait, isn’t that a sports bar? Umm, yeah, but he’s also a superhero. More importantly, he’s the first Asian superhero in comics, which is pretty nifty. I actually know a fair bit about Green Turtle, thanks to the recent (and fantastically done) revival, The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew. He’s definitely a fun character! He uses the same head as Daredevil, as well as a cloth cape, handled in the same way as Black Terror’s. It’s too bad it’s just straight green, as opposed to featuring the more intricate design of the comics, but I imagine such a design would have proved rather pricey. The rest of his unique features are done via paint, which is handled pretty well overall. The colors are nice and bright, and the general application is nice and clean. I’m also glad to see that Green Turtle has a slightly different skin tone than the others in the series, given his different ethnicity.

BLANK SLATE

AmazHero11The Blank Slate is kind of a multi-purpose figure. He’s the line’s one villain, based on a Daredevil foe from the 40s [EDIT: Helpful reader Lich informed me that the Blank Slate isn’t an actual Daredevil villain; he was given a fake backstory for the line.  I should have researched a bit better). Through a simple head swap, he can be either the lead Blank or one of his minions, which also makes the figure an army builder. And on top of all of that, he’s also a great base body, should people want to make their own Amazing Heroes figures. He uses the same basic body, and includes both the Terror and Daredevil style heads.

 

SERIES 1.5:

While the Series 1 was successful in funding the 6 main figures, it didn’t raise enough funds to get the two stretch goal figures into production. Fresh Monkey Fiction ran another Kickstarter in December of 2014, offering the two new figures, as well as Mike Allred’s cult favorite superhero, Madman.

CHAMPION OF MARS

AmazHero12I know what you’re thinking, but no, this isn’t John Carter. No, this is “Champion of Mars.” See, because John Carter isn’t in the public domain. However, some of his comics are, so we get this guy based on the art of said comics. But he’s definitely NOT John Carter! That said, “Champion” is really hard to keep typing, so I’m just going to use a common male name in its place. Let’s go with John. So, John here uses the same head as Captain Action, which was actually sculpted specifically with him in mind. In addition, he also has an add-on piece for his harness, which is a very nicely detailed piece, which adds a lot to the figure. Lastly, he’s got a cloth cape, which is identical to the one included with Black Terror. John’s paintwork is a lot more brown than his compatriots, which is actually quite appropriate for the character, and gives him a unique flair amongst the others. John is packed with a sword, which is a little flimsy, but still very cool.

SILVER STREAK

AmazHero13I don’t actually know much about Silver Streak, but he does appear to be your fairly average speedster character. And he’s even red and yellow! He also uses the same head as Captain Action, which, if I’m honest feels like one use too many. That being said, the head does actually fit Silver Streak pretty well, and I guess the blonde does enough to differentiate the two. I’ll just make sure to keep the three of them separate on the shelf! Silver Streak probably has the most vibrant paint work of all the figures, despite it not actually featuring anything even close to silver. Everything is nice and sharp, and the red in particular really pops, to say nothing of that pretty sweet patterning on the belt!

MADMAN

AmazHero14Madman is kind of unique amongst these figures. Not only is he not public domain, he’s actually a fairly contemporary character. This isn’t even Madman’s first figure. Heck, it’s not even the first Madman I’ve reviewed here. But it’s Madman, and it’s not like you can have too many Madman figures, can you? Of course not! Plus, Madman’s actually one of the few contemporary characters who actually fits in pretty well with the rest of these guys.  In addition to the standard body, Madman has been given his own head sculpt, as well as add-on pieces for the cuffs of his gloves. The head sculpt is downright amazing (heh!) and does a great job of melding Allred’s style with that of the rest of the line. The paint on Madman is pretty solid overall. There’s a tiny bit of slop around the eyes, but the rest of the work is nice and clean.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After being broken in to the whole Kickstarter thing with I Am Elemental and Return of Skeleton Warriors, it was really hard to say no to these guys. So, I backed the first campaign. And then, I backed the second one too, because I wasn’t going to let the set go incomplete, darn it! It’s been a long wait to get these guys, but they sure were worth it. These are just a whole lot of fun!

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