#1314: Nightwing

NIGHTWING

BATMAN: KNIGHTFALL (DC DIRECT)

“As Batman’s former ward, Nightwing returns to Gotham City to fight crime during the absence of his mentor.”

I’ve touched very briefly on “Knightfall,” the huge cross-over series that introduced Bane, broke Batman’s back, and gave us the new Batman Jean Paul Valley (formerly Azrael).  It’s actually one of the better regarded big cross-over stories of the ‘90s, largely due to DC consciously using common story elements for the time, and addressing some of the issues behind them. The story got some figures as part of the then running Legends of Batman line from Kenner, but no truly devoted line, until 2005, when the story was given a dedicated line of figures, courtesy of DC Direct.  I’ll be looking at one of those figures, Nightwing, today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Nightwing was released as one of the five figures in DCD’s Batman: Knightfall series, which, as I noted above, hit comic stores in 2005.  The figure stands 6 3/4 inches tall (he’s from the period where the DCD scale creep was really kicking into overdrive, so he was a good half an inch taller then the two prior Nightwings) and he has 11 points of articulation.  He’s sporting his early ’90s costume, which generally isn’t one of my favorites.  It’s largely to do with the particularly egregious mullet that always accompanied it, but also due to the way he tended to be depicted as super bulky in this outfit.  I really have to commend this figure’s sculpt, because it  makes a lot of those issues less present.  In particular, his build is more svelte and similar to DCD’s prior Nightwings, and they’ve also gone with what’s probably the least dated interpretation of the mullet.  The sculpt isn’t perfect, mind you.  There are some slight oddities to the posing; his feet seem a bit wide spread, and I’m not entirely sure what’s going on with the left hand.  Also, his thighs seem oddly…flat.  Still, it’s remarkably well done, given how badly it could have turned out, depending on the iteration of the source material they followed.  One of the coolest things about this guy is the paint work.  The application is all pretty clean, and the colors just really pop.  I particularly love the metallic blue color that makes up the majority of the bodysuit.  It’s a good base color, and it really helps accentuate the brighter colors that have been placed on top of it.  Nightwing included a little…disc thing?  I guess it’s some sort of throwing weapon or something?  Mine’s missing his, but he could hold it in his right hand.  He also had a circular display stand with the “Knightfall” logo printed on it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’m hard-pressed to come up with all that much interesting about this guy.  I know I bought him from Cosmic Comix, because that’s where I was getting all of my DC Direct figures at the time, but the exact nature of when or why I got him doesn’t seem to be coming to me.  I know I haven’t traditionally been a fan of this look, but this figure changed my mind on that.  While he’s not my favorite DCD Nightwing, but he’s still a very solid entry.  Also, one of only two figure versions of this particular design, for what it’s worth.

The Blaster In Question #0008: Star-Lord Quad Blaster

STAR-LORD QUAD BLASTER

MARVEL

It is a well known fact that the Guardians of the Galaxy movies are awesome.  No one disputes this, it’s just true.  As with just about every Marvel movie to come out in the last decade (yeah, Iron Man was in 2008, I had to look it up) there’s been a decent amount of merchandise out there.  Regulars to the site will likely have seen at least one of Ethan’s numerous GotG figure reviews, but what if you’re one of those people who would rather be Star-Lord rather than just have him on your shelf?  Thats where we get the subject of today’s review.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The Star-Lord Quad Blaster was released in 2014 as a Marvel tie-in product to coincide with the release of the first GotG movie.  Interestingly, there is no Nerf branding anywhere on the blaster, but just a quick mention on the box.  Aside from using a “smart air-restrictor” setup found in a plethora of other Nerf blasters, the Quad Blaster is completely original.  The blaster is operated by priming one or both of the slides on the rear and pulling the trigger.  Unlike the Roughcut and other similar blasters, the Quad Blaster does not have a staggered trigger, if both barrels are primed, both will fire simultaneously.  In addition, the smaller secondary trigger just below the firing trigger releases the latches holding the spring-loaded front ends, causing them to snap back, revealing two extra barrels.  In all honesty, this feature was 85% of the reason I got this blaster.  It’s just a ton of fun fiddling with even if you’re not actively firing the blaster, and if you flick your wrist just right, you can reset the barrel covers without touching them.  Opening the front covers is required to fire the second barrels on the top and bottom.  The blaster is very sleek and definitely has an appropriate sci-fi feel to it, almost like one of the plasma weapons from Halo.  The grip could maybe stand to be a little bigger as I could see someone with larger hands feeling cramped while holding it, but it’s forgivable when you remember the target audience.  The main body of the blaster feels on par with other Nerf blasters in terms of structural integrity, but it is worth noting that the plastic for the priming slides feels a little thin, and the front covers are a smoother, slightly more rubbery plastic than the rest of the blaster.  The priming stroke on the Quad Blaster is very short and not terribly heavy, as such, the performance is limited.  It’s still fine for running around the house, blasting your friends, but even on longer indoor distances, the darts tend to drop off a little sooner than I might like and the impacts can feel kinda flaccid.  Again, I can understand this decision given this is meant for children, and Nerf has to keep it’s own core products competitive, but it’s still a bit of a bummer.  The Star-Lord Quad Blaster comes with 4 Elite darts but with black bodies instead of the traditional blue.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find all 4 of mine but I got 2 and some regular Elites for comparison.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

It’s become sort of a recurring event in my life where every time Chris Pratt is in a movie or tv show (Gotg, Jurassic World, Parks and Rec) people tell me that his character reminds them of myself.  Normally I wouldn’t really take this to heart, but when my own mom is one of the most vocal people on this opinion, I figured I would just roll with it.  I mean, it’s no surprise that I would buy a Nerf blaster, but being attributed with Star-Lord (WHO?!) just moved it up my priority list.

#1313: Northstar & Aurora

NORTHSTAR & AURORA

ALPHA FLIGHT (TOY BIZ)

“Jean-Paul and Jeanne-Marie Beaubier were not your average set of twins. During their adolescence, they each separately found that they possessed the mutant abilities to fly and travel at superhuman speeds.  They have since discovered that whenever they join hands, they produce a radiant strobe effect, often blinding their adversaries into submission!  Putting their respective lives as a professional skier and history teacher behind, “Northstar” and “Aurora” joined Alpha Flight, Canada’s very own super heroes.”

The United States doesn’t hold a total monopoly on North American super hero teams.  Case in point, today’s pair of figures comes from Canada’s premiere super-team, Alpha Flight, who are sort of a cross between the Avengers and the X-Men, but, you know, in Canada.  They’ve never really taken off as a smash success or anything, but the team has something of a cult following.  This was enough to get them a short series of figures during Toy Biz’s long-running 5-inch line.  The whole series was made up of two-packs, and today’s figures are the ones that make the most sense paired up.  Yes, it’s siblings Northstar and Aurora!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

These two were one of the three two-packs released in the first (and only) series of Alpha Flight, released by Toy Biz in 1998. 

NORTHSTAR

Northstar’s probably one of the best known members of Alpha Flight, thanks largely to his affiliation with the X-Men, and thanks also to being one of Marvel’s most prominent gay characters.  He’s had a number of different looks over the years, but he’s seen here in his original costume, which I find to be his best.  The figure stands a little over 5 inches tall and has 10 points of articulation.  The movement on this guy is really odd; he lacks the elbow and knee joints that were fairly standard on 5-inch Marvel figures, but gains extra shoulder and ankle movement, as well as a cut joint on one wrist.  Why just one wrist?  I have no idea.  It’s always bugged me.  The sculpt for Northstar was all-new to him.  It’s okay, but not really one of Toy Biz’s stronger sculpts from this era.  His proportions are kind of odd, and he’s got this strange sort of weird twist to his pose, like he’s trying to pop his back or something.  I mean, there are some interesting elements to the sculpt, and it’s far from bad, but it’s just sort of meh.  The paintwork on Northstar is passable; pretty straightforward color work for the most part.  There’s some slight accenting work on the white sections, which actually looks pretty decent.  As you can see, some of the paint hasn’t held up the best over time, but that’s not really on them.  There’s a bit of slop around the edges, but nothing super awful.

AURORA

Though she’s a little lesser known than her brother, Aurora is still pretty well known, even if it’s largely in connection to her brother.  She’s had less costumes than Northstar, but they’ve wisely gone with the one that matches her brother’s design, and once again I think it’s her best look, so I’m happy it showed up here.  The figure’s about the same height as Northstar and has the same basic articulation, although she has those freaking v-hips that plagued my collecting habits in the ‘90s.  The articulation’s still rather weird, but at least it’s consistent with Northstar.  The wrist articulation is on the other side this time, allowing for them to touch hands.  In general, I find Aurora’s sculpt to be of a higher quality than her brother’s.  The proportions are still kind of off, but less so, and the pre-posing is downplayed.  The head is definitely my favorite part, and it sports a ton of really awesome detail work, especially on the hair.  Her paintwork is fairly similar to Northstar’s, but once again, it’s a slight step up.  Things are a bit cleaner, and the accenting on the white parts are a little more noticeable, which I thing looks a bit better.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked this set up new, I’m fairly certain from a Target.  I didn’t actually know the characters at the time, and mostly wanted them because they sort of resembled the Wonder Twins.  My dad, who bought them for me, also got me the first Essential collection of X-Men around the same time, and had me read Alpha Flight’s first appearance, which was contained there-in, so I knew who they were.  I remember getting them pretty fondly.  They aren’t Toy Biz’s best or anything, but they were probably the best from this particular series of figures, and I’m still pretty happy with them.

Side bar:  I reviewed these figures while at my friend Scott Farquar’s house.  He also owns this set of figures, which were actually given to him by me, almost 20 years ago.  He wanted me to mention that here.  He’s sort of goofy like that.

#1312: Gambit

GAMBIT

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“Training in the Danger Room, Gambit has his hands full with a holographic Sentinel when he is rushed by a fully-armed Robot Fighter! Caught between a Sentinel and a hard place, Gambit pauses when the Robot Fighter suddenly launches its missiles!  Ducking just in time, Gambit turns to see the missiles destroy the Sentinel behind him, giving him a chance to fire his explosively-charged playing cards at the Robot Fighter and bringing him a hard-earned victory.”

The ‘90s X-Men line initially started as a pretty straight cartoon/comics-influenced, but as it progressed, Toy Biz started running out go authentic variants of the main characters, and had to start creating their own.  There were a number of gimmicky-themed series.  Today’s focus hails from one of those series.  So, let’s have a look at the X-Men’s resident lovable rogue (who also loves Rogue…wait, I’ve done that joke before…), Gambit!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Gambit was one of the five figures that made up the “Robot Fighters” series of Toy Biz’s X-Men line.  It was Gambit’s third 5-inch figure, following the Light-Up Series release.  The figure stands about 4 inches tall (thanks to the hunch) and has 8 points of articulation.  At this point in the line, they were cutting back on the articulation on most of the figures (likely in an attempt to capture some of the McFarlane Toys style), so Gambit wasn’t unique in this.  The Robot Fighters designs were (largely) unique to the figures; Gambit takes a lot of influence from his main design, sans the coat, albeit with a few more armored bits and such.  I’m not really sure how the Danger Room set-up given in the bio text translates to this new design, but I find the design to be pretty cool, so I’m hardly complaining.  As far as the sculpt goes, the best part is definitely the head, which I think may be my favorite Gambit sculpt out there (Toy Biz seemed to like it too; it was re-used later down the line on a Strike Team Gambit).  It’s just really sharply detailed, and they expression looks really dynamic, and almost Kirby-esque.  I’m not sure what the headset is for, but it looks kinda neat.  This whole series was really hit pretty hard by pre-posing, and Gambit sticks with that.  He’s in this really deep crouching pose, and the articulation doesn’t let him get out of it.  It’s not the worst pose ever (there were some far worse ones in this very series), and you can actually change it up a bit and get some really cool mid-action poses, which works well for the proposed setting.  The detail work on the body is a little varied, which some areas being a little more detailed than others, but it’s pretty solid overall.  I particularly like the molded playing cards; the removable ones always seem to get lost!  The figure’s paint is pretty straightforward; the palette is definitely Gambit-like, and the application is all nice and clean.  Nothing’s been left unpainted, and there’s even some nice accent work on the hair and a few of the torso’s elements.  Gambit was originally packed with the Robot Fighter mentioned in his bio, officially dubbed the “Attack Robot Drone.”  It shots missiles, because it was the late ‘90s and everything had to shoot missiles.  I don’t have that piece, having acquired my Gambit figure second hand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I remember the Robot Fighters Series hitting retail, and I remember seeing them all over the place, but somehow I never ended up with a single one of them.  Gambit amends that.  I fished him out of the loose figures bin at All Time Toys.  This is the first figure I’ve bought from them since they re-opened after Ellicott City’s Main Street flood, so he’s kind of special to me.  The actual figure is honestly not half bad.  I mean, he’s uber-‘90s, but it’s at an enjoyable level.  I’m happy that I finally tracked this guy down.  I guess I should get the rest of them at some point.

#1311: Baymax

BAYMAX — PROTOTYPE ARMOR

BIG HERO 6 (BANDAI)

Remember two weeks ago when I reviewed thee Big Hero 6 Yokai figure?  And how I mentioned picking up a bunch of them?  Well, I gotta review them sometime, right?  So, today, I’ll be looking at one of the film’s central characters, Baymax.  Here goes!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Prototype Armor Baymax was released in the second series of Bandai’s Big Hero 6 line, which hit a little bit after the movie’s theatrical release.  He’s one of four versions of Baymax to be released in the line and depicts him in the initial armor Hiro designs for him (which I personally prefer the design of to his later, more advanced armor).  The figure stands about 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  As with Yokai, there are the ever present issues of scale.  At least the two of them look fairly decent together, though.  Additionally, the sculpt on Baymax seems to be a bit more internally balanced, at least as far as the proportions go, which makes for an overall better looking figure.    He adheres pretty well to the onscreen design for the most part.  All of the important details are there, and they’re mostly where they should be.  The legs are definitely odd in the way they connect to the body, and are oddly shaped in general, to say nothing if the obstructive, obvious, and mostly useless hip articulation that the legs are attached with.  I’m not entirely sure what they were going for there.  At least the rest of the sculpt is pretty solid, with only minor issues (such as the slightly bulkier shoulders).  I do wish he could get his arms a little closer to his sides, but that’s minor.  Baymax’s paint work is about on par with the rest of the figures I’ve looked at from this series.  The colors all match up well enough with those from the movie, and the application is largely sharp and clean.  There are a few unpainted details, but that’s  the sort of thing you expect with Bandai America, so it is what it is.  Baymax includes no extras, which I guess is okay.  What exactly would you give him?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I almost grabbed this figure numerous times at retail, as it was by far my favorite of the three Baymax designs, and I really did want a Baymax.  But, for whatever reason, I just never got around to picking him up.  I was actually pretty excited to find him marked way down at Ollie’s, so he was the first figure I grabbed.  The final figure is okay.  Not quite as fun as Wasabi, but a bit of a step up from the slightly disappointing Yokai, which is decent enough.

#1310: Luke Skywalker

LUKE SKYWALKER

STAR WARS (KENNER)

Luke Skywalker has over 100 action figures, which is quite a few.  More than just about any other main character from the franchise, in fact.  There was a time, however, when he had just one.  His very first figure was released by Kenner in 1978, and that’s the one I’m looking at today.  There’s your intro.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Luke is one of the very earliest entries in Kenner’s Star Wars line.  He was initially released in the Early Bird set, alongside Leia, Chewbacca, and R2, and later saw regular release as one of the line’s first 12 figures.  He was also consistently carried throughout the run of the original trilogy’s line.  My figure comes from the earliest of the single releases, or at least that’s what I’ve been told.  The figure stands about 3 3/4 inches tall and has the standard 5 points of articulation (or at least he did; my figure had his head snap off, necessitating it being glued back in place).  The figure sported a unique sculpt at the time (though the head would later see reuse on the Bespin figure from the Empire line), which is decent enough, at least in the context of the rest of the line.  He’s not super detailed, nor is he the spitting image of Mark Hamill as Luke, but the main elements of the character have been conveyed pretty well, and he’s certainly not awful.  His design has also been graced with very few real compromises, which wasn’t completely unheard of in this line, but it was pretty rare.  As one of the three lightsaber wielding characters in the first film, he got one of the retractible blades that Kenner was experimenting with early in the line.  The hilt of the saber is molded in Luke’s hand, and the majority of his right arm has been hollowed out.  There was then a separate blade, which could be pushed up or down, as if he were igniting the saber.  It’s not a particularly accurate rendition of the saber, and it requires Luke to hold his weapon in a way he never does in the film.  Luke’s saber was molded in yellow, because, umm, reasons, I guess?  Of course, you can’t see that from my figure, because they were also really easy to lose, which isn’t ideal.  Still, it wasn’t the worst concept ever.  In terms of paint, Luke is fairly simple; he’s got al the basic colors, and that’s about it.  There were a number of variants on the hair color; mine has the more common bright yellow.  Not super lifelike, but it’s about right for the time.  Luke included no accessories.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When I was growing up, I had access to a lot of my dad’s old toys.  His collection of Star Wars figures was one of the sets that was given to me to keep.  Luke was by far my favorite of the set, and saw a lot of play time.  His head broke off at some point, and there was a good five years in there where I never seemed to be able to hang on to both pieces at the same time.  I eventually did find both pieces and get him put back together, so that was a small victory.  The figure’s not perfect, but he’s a pretty good starting point, and he’d remain one of the better Luke figures out there for quite a while.

#1309: Beast Boy

BEAST BOY

DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS

“While traveling to Africa with his scientist parents, Garfield Logan fell victim to a deadly virus and was saved via an experimental treatment that tuned his skin and hair green, in addition to granting him the ability to transform into any animal he imagined. After his parents died in a boating accident, Gar was taken in by the Doom Patrol, a team of misfit heroes that helped him to master his powers.”

It’s kind of odd that his bio mentions the Doom Patrol, but not the Teen Titans.  I’m not complaining, just noting that that’s the way they went.  In regards to DC Universe Classics, I’ve looked at Negative Man, Elasti-Girl, and Robotman.  The only Doom Patrol member they released that I haven’t yet looked at is the aforementioned Beast Boy, adopted son of Elasti-Girl (but we don’t seem to talk about that anymore), and, more prominently, member of the New Teen Titans.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Beast Boy hit in the Walmart-exclusive Series 10 of DC Universe Classics, alongside fellow Doom Patroller Robotman.  The figure stands about 5 1/2 inches tall and has 25 points of articulation.  The sizing on this guy is confusing to say the least.  He’s effectively wearing his costume from the Teen Titans cartoon, which was worked into the comics when Gar rejoined the Doom Patrol after “One Year Later.”  When Gar was wearing this costume in the comics, he was a full-grown adult, but this figure builds him on the small teen male body (introduced on the Series 3 Robin figure), as if he were just the version of BB from the cartoon.  This wouldn’t be a huge issue if the BB-specific parts weren’t clearly meant to be emulating the older Gar from the “One Year Later” storyline, and built with the proportions of an adult.  So, the end result is a Beast Boy that just sort of seems out of scale with just about everything.  I’m fine with Gar being a little smaller than the rest of the Patrol, but a full inch difference seems a little excessive, and he’s actually just flat-out in the wrong scale.  What’s really frustrating is that the actual sculpt really isn’t that bad.  He’s a pretty solid recreation of Gar from this period in the comics, and has a lot of nice little small details, such as the arm hair on his forearms, and even the really sharp work on his shoes.  The hair is a separate piece, which makes its contrast really sharp, and the ears even have the point they gained in later designs.  It’s clear a lot of effort went into this sculpt; he’s simply too small.  The figure’s paint is pretty solid, at least; the colors are a good match for both the comic and the cartoon, and everything is applied pretty cleanly.  There’s not a lot to mess up here, and Mattel succeeded in not messing it up.  Good for them.  Beast Boy included a green falcon (re-used from the MotUC line), meant to emulate his shape-shifting abilities, as well as the right arm of the series’ Collect-N-Connect, Imperiex.  Woo.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Beast Boy is one of the earlier figures I got from this series.  Just after it started hitting Walmart, my dad and I had a few trips just checking our local stores, and he was one of the ones we found.  I’ve always liked Beast Boy, and at the time I was super pumped about getting the Doom Patrol as action figures.  I can acknowledge some of this figure’s merit, and I certainly don’t hate him, but he disappoints me greatly.  He’s kind of a perfect example of DCUC in a nutshell; great in theory, and in 95% of the execution, but there was just enough leeway for Mattel to find a way to screw him up.  They were so close, and yet still so far.

#1308: Wolverine

WOLVERINE

X-MEN: DELUXE EDITION (TOY BIZ)

“The most feared member of the X-Men, and some would say, the most loyal as well.  His razor-sharp claws and his ferocious attitude make his enemies think twice about crossing him!”

Did you know that wolverines are part of the weasel family?  That’s your fun FiQ fact of the day!

I have reviewed a surprisingly small number of Wolverine figures on this site, which is a little odd, given how many I owned growing up.  It was the ‘90s, after all, and he was at critical mass in terms of popularity.  I’ve reviewed even less of Toy Biz’s 10-inch figures, the larger scale brethren of their main 5-inch line.  Today, I’m killing two birds with one stone, and looking at one of the many 10-inch Wolverine figures in my collection!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Wolverine is one of the earliest entries in this scale, released as part of the first series of the X-Men: Deluxe Edition line.  That’s right, he’s from before the whole scale was thrown together under one line, and while they were still passing them off as a more “premium” line.  Both those went out the window pretty quickly.  This figure stands 10 inches tall and he has 9 points of articulation.  This figure was an up-scaling of the Wolverine II figure from the smaller-scale X-Men line; it’s about as basic Wolverine as you can get.  He’s actually one of the better classic Wolverine sculpts out there, presenting a solid late ‘70s-style Wolverine that we’ve pretty much not seen since.  It’s also one of the sculpts that really benefited from the larger scale treatment; the smaller figure was a bit rudimentary in certain areas, but this figure looks a bit more organic, and thus more aesthetically pleasing.  There are some very clear differences in place. The sculpt’s still pretty stylized, but it’s less so than, say, the Cyclops figure.  He’s at the very least internally consistent.  Like a lot of the up-scaled figures, Wolverine removes the action features of his smaller figure, namely the torso spinner-thin and the spring-loaded claws.  Of course, my figure actually just removes the claws entirely, but that’s purely limited to mine.  They were there at one point, and they looked cool, I assume.  I was rather amused to see that the two sets attached to the hands in two completely different ways.  That seems kind of odd to me, but whatever.  The paint on Wolverine is pretty straight forward; it’s just basic color work, but it’s all pretty clean.  The colors are bright and vibrant, and everything really pops.  In particular, I think the blue just really hits the right hue, which is something that has been lost on a lot of more recent Wolverines.  Wolverine was originally packed with a weird gun thing.  Because why not, right?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was just a bit young for the earliest 10-inch figures, so I didn’t have this guy new (though I had a handful of the repaints based on him).  This figure actually came into my possession more than a decade after his release, at a time when I was largely beyond collecting these guys.  My brother’s second grade teacher had this box of various toys that her students were allowed to take something from when they did a particularly good job in class.  Apparently, this guy was in the box, and my brother got him and rather excitedly brought him home for me.  Because he’s thoughtful like that.  It’s actually a pretty solid figure, especially for the time!

#1307: Amanda Ripley

AMANDA RIPLEY

ALIENS (NECA)

“15 years after the disappearance of the commercial towing vessel Nostromo, the ship’s flight recorder is discovered floating in deep space. Its owner, the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, immediately dispatches a team of representatives to Sevastopol Station to retrieve it. Among their number is Amanda Ripley, daughter of Ellen Ripley, the Nostromo’s warrant officer.”

It’s no secret that Aliens is my favorite movie of pretty much all time (though Guardians Vol 2 has given it some serious competition, not gonna lie).  As I was -6 when the film was released, I never saw it in theaters.  I instead caught it many years later when it was released on DVD.  On the DVD, the default version is the director’s cut, which adds 16 minutes of footage.  There’s a lot of simply cut lines, but a few whole scenes, and by extension underlying subplots, were cut.  The removal of Newt’s family and the other scenes at the colony is the biggest excision, but not far behind it is the removal of the pre-inquest scene where Ripley discovers the fate of her daughter, Amanda, who died during Ripley’s 57 years away from Earth.  All we get is a name, a picture, and her age at time of death.  28 years later, we got Alien: Isolation, a game centered on Amanda and her quest to find out what happened to her mother.  Real shocker here: she runs into a Xenomorph along the way.  Who could have foreseen that?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Amanda Ripley was released in Series 6 of NECA’s Aliens line, which was a whole series devoted to Isolation.  There were two Amanda figures in the set; this one depicts her in her main jumpsuit-ed look, which she’s sporting for a good chunk of the game.  There was also a figure of her in her compression suit, which I never got around to picking up.  This figure stands about 7 1/4 inches tall and has 26 points of articulation.  As it was supposed to be nearer in the timeline to Alien than to Aliens, Isolation took a lot of its design elements from the first film.  By extension, each of the three figures in Series 6 borrows liberally from prior NECA Aliens figures.  This Amanda figure is built using about 95% of the parts from the Jumpsuit Ripley figure from Series 4, along with a new head and upper arms.  The designs of the jumpsuits are close enough that this makes for a pretty decent recreation.  If you want to get super nitpicky, the pattern of the seams and “belt” on the pelvis section is incorrect, and she’s missing the leather pads on her shoulders.  However, it’s hardly noticeable; you have to be looking for inaccuracies (which, I as a reviewer am paid to do.  Oh wait, no I’m not.  There’s no money in this.  It’d be nice, though, wouldn’t it?).  The new pieces blend well with the old, and make her sufficiently different from her mom. The head does a suitable job of capturing Amanda’s likeness from the game; it does seem a tad on the small side to me, though.  Amanda’s paint work is decent, but it does have a few issues.  The overall application is pretty solid, and the colors all seem to match what’s seen on the screen.  She’s got painted skin, which I don’t like quite as much as the molded skin, but I guess it’s alright.  There are a few scuffs on my figure, and she’s got a weird splotch of discoloration on her forehead.  Overall, though, she’s really not bad.  Amanda is packed with a flamethrower (the very same one included with her mother), as well as her self-assembled motion tracker, and her backpack.  A great selection of extras all around.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The first Amanda Ripley figure I bought actually wasn’t for me, but was instead for my brother Christian.  My exposure to the game was watching him play through it, so I thought it was only proper he get the figure first.  Other things took priority over getting an Amanda for myself, so I just never got around to grabbing her.  Last summer, the day before Movie Stop went out of business, several of us went to see what was left.  Poor Amanda was one of about three NECA figures left, and I ended up getting her for something like 90% off.  She’s a pretty solid figure, thanks in no small part to being built on the same body as one of NECA’s best.  It’s just a shame we never got a Worker Joe to harass her.  Guess I’ll just have to make due with the Xeno….

Hey, look at that; I managed to go this whole Alien-themed review without mentioning my seething hatred for Covenant.  Good on me!

#1306: Han Solo in Carbonite

HAN SOLO IN CARBONITE

STAR WARS: THE POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“After escaping from Imperial forces in the Hoth system, Han Solo and Princess Leia, Chewbacca and C-3PO, landed the damaged Millenium Falcon on Bespin’s Cloud City for repairs. The four put their trust in the city’s administrator, Lando Calrissian, unaware of the dangers awaiting them. A dashing ex-gambler and long time acquaintance of Solo’s, Calrissian had grudgingly made an agreement with Darth Vader to betray Solo and his friends. In return, the band would be set free once their capture had lured Luke Skywalker into Vader’s grasp. The Dark Lord had no intention of keeping any promises: on his order a carbonite freezing chamber was modified for use on humans, especially Luke Skywalker, to render him helpless for safe delivery to the Emperor. To test the chamber, Solo was frozen and then turned over to the Bounty Hunter Boba Fett. for delivery to the crimelord Jabba the Hutt. He became the favorite decoration in Jabba’s Palace on Tatooine, until a daring rescue attempt led by Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia freed Han and returned him to the enduring cause of the Rebel Alliance.”

Man, they went all out on that bio, didn’t they.  Not much need for me to add anything, so here’s a Han Solo figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Han Solo in Carbonite was originally released in 1996, as part of that year’s first assortment of Star Wars: The Power of the Force II figures.  The figure saw a number of re-releases over the course of the line’s run, and is one of the more common figures out there from the line.  He stands about 4 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  Han is depicted here just after being freed from his frozen carbonite prison at the beginning of Return of the Jedi.  We can tell he’s an “after carbonite” figure from his lack ofthe shackles he had in Empire.  Technically, I guess the hair could also be a tell, but all of the early PotF2 Hans had the exact same hair anyway.  The head is the same one used for all the other Han figures from this line (well, barring the final one from just before the end), which doesn’t have much in the way of a Harrison Ford likeness.  At least they were keeping it consistent.  The rest of the figure’s sculpt was new to him.  He’s still got the really exaggerated proportions and super tight clothing, but is otherwise one of the tamest sculpts to come out of this line.  He’s pretty much just in a basic standing pose, with no goofy mid-step thing or oddly bent arms.  The one main inaccuracy that stuck out at me was the shirt, which follows the pattern of his A New Hope shirt, rather than the more detailed ones from Empire and Jedi.  It’s far from the worst mistake, and 9 out of 10 people wouldn’t notice it, but I am that tenth person.  The paintwork on Han is about on par with the rest of the line.  It’s fairly basic and the colors aren’t terribly thrilling, but it gets the job done.  Han’s main accessory is, of course, the carbonite block.  It’s a pretty cool piece; the front is a pretty faithful recreation of the movie prop, and the flip side is hollow, with a clip at waist height, allowing for the figure to be placed on the underside.  Han also includes a small blaster, patterned on the one he uses to save Lando from the Sarlac.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This version of Han was the second Hon Solo I owned, following the mail-away Stormtrooper disguise figure.  He was procured on a trip with my grandmother, I think, though I’m not 100% sure on that.  It’s irrelevant at this point, because I don’t own the figure anymore.  I rather foolishly sold it about 15 years ago, on the basis that I already owned other Hans, which doesn’t even makes sense to me anymore.  The figure you see in this review is a replacement, which, like the last several PotF2 figures I’ve reviewed, was picked up during the Farpoint charity auction.  This figure’s actually a bit better than I remember him being, and is probably the best of the Hans from early in this line (though the later ones kind of surpassed all the others).  Not bad at all.