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.

#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!

#1305: Captain America – Addendum

CAPTAIN AMERICA

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

-ADDENDUM-

Since Hasbro relaunched Marvel Legends, I’ve been consistently displeased with the heads on their Steve Rogers figures.  When the line was relaunched, all of the unmasked males suffered from what I call “Hasbro-Face”: they would have a deep scowl and incredibly squared-off features, and just generally look more like the titular character from The Goon than the superhero characters they were supposed to be replicating.  As the line has progressed, the Hasbro-Face has slowly died out, with the exception of Steve Rogers.  I guess Hasbro wants to keep all of the versions of him consistent, but it means I haven’t truly been happy with a Legends Captain America since Toy Biz.

In today’s review of Captain America, I noted that a major contributing factor to my finally acquiring him was seeing an image online of a mod for the figure.  This mod replaced the stock figure’s atrocious head with that of the very first ML Cap figure, which, in my opinion, is still the best Cap head ever.  The biggest hoop in performing this mod is getting the first TB Cap.  I have my old one, but I really didn’t want to put that one under the knife (or drill, as the case may be).  Fortunately, I was able to find a loose one sans accessories for $5, which is really the main thing that sparked this whole project (ironically, I actually paid a dollar more for my “junk” Cap than I did my original).

Perhaps the most difficult part of this whole project was just getting the TB Cap’s head off the body.  Toy Biz heads weren’t really designed for easy removal like their Hasbro brethren, so you’re pretty much going to have to use the boil-and-pop method, and even then, it took me a few rounds to finally get it popped off the joint.

As you can clearly see from the photo, the socket on the TB Cap’s head is maybe an eighth the size of the åHasbro figure’s ball-joint.  In order to get it to fit, it needed some significant plastic removal.  The best tool for such a project is really a dremel; I didn’t have one handy, so I just made do with a basic power drill, starting with a drill bit just a little larger than the socket and slowly working my way to larger bits, until it was a good fit.  I actually went the slightest bit too large on the socket, but that’s an easy fix.  All you need is to put little bit of super glue in the socket, do a few turns while on the joint, and then take the head off and let it dry for a few minutes.  This gives the socket a little more texture, which helps the head stay put on the joint.

Throw in the shoulder harness from the Target 3-pack Cap to replace the wonky straps from the original figure, and I’m pretty happy with this figure.  The head/body paint matches up surprisingly well (any differences are virtually invisible to the naked eye).  The smaller head is scaled much better with the body, and it even makes the body look a little less chunky (I think the chunkiness I was seeing was actually an optical illusion).  And, best of all, he cost me less than the retail of your average Legends release to put together.  Now I have a Legends Captain America I can be proud of! Added bonus: with the left over parts I can put together a pretty sweet Cap Wolf!

#1305: Captain America

CAPTAIN AMERICA

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Steve Rogers is a soldier with superhuman strength and an indestructible shield!”

Generally speaking, I’m a pretty big supporter of Hasbro these days.  They run two of my favorite lines and generally do things that I support.  They get a lot of hate, and I think a lot of it’s undeserved.  With all that said, about a decade ago, I was NOT much of a Hasbro fan, due to a lot of very silly decisions on their part, both with the end of their DC license and the early days of their Marvel license.  While they’ve improved leaps and bounds, they do still have the occasional slip-up.  Today, I’m looking at one such slip-up.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Captain America is the first figure in the Red Onslaught Series of Marvel Legends, which was the first of the three vaguely Captain America: Civil War-themed series released last year.  I looked at a handful of figures from the series back when they were still new, but never got around to this guy, mostly for the aforementioned “slip-up” reasons.  This figure is, or is at least intended to be, an updated classic Captain America, which was a nice thought, given that the last actual classic Cap before this one was the Face Off version from Toy Biz.  He stands a little over 6 1/2 inches tall and has 32 points of articulation.  Cap is built on the Reaper body, which most of us had figured would be the case as soon as the Reaper body showed up.  I’m not sure it’s the best base for the character; it seems a little chunky for him.  That being said, it’s certainly an improvement on the body that was previously being used for Cap, so that’s a plus.  Cap got unique pieces for his head, forearms, shoulder straps, belt, and boots (the forearms, belt, and boots would later be re-used for Red Guardian).  The majority of the pieces are decent work, and they fit well on the body.  He really, really could have used at least one fist, but that’s minor. The first major nit I have with the figure is the straps on the shoulders; previous pieces have always been done as a single harness piece, but for some reason this time Hasbro opted to go with two separate pieces.  The issue is that they don’t have anything to connect to, nor do they have the tension that would be brought by connecting to each other, so the end result is that they’re pretty much impossible to keep in place.  They just fall right off the arms.  Just getting the one photo with them was a nightmare.  The second major nit, and the primary reason I held off on getting this figure for so long is the head sculpt.  I’ve never been happy with the Hasbro Legends take on Steve Rogers, and this figure really exhibits the worst of that, even more so than prior figures.  His head looks thuggish and angry, and just all-around ugly, which is hardly how I think of Cap.  He takes the squared off, scowlly “Hasbro Face” that I so despise and dials it up to 11.  On top of that, the head is super, super wide, like it’s been stepped on or something, and is in general just way too large for this body.  It’s almost like they scaled it to the Hyperion.  I wish I had something nice to say about this head, but I really, really hate it.  The paint on this guy is okay, but hardly Hasbro’s best.  It’s a bit weird stepping back a year to just before they started really making the strides in paint quality.  He’s okay, but there’s some noticeable slop, especially on the white sections.  Ironically, the head gets probably the best work, but it’s not enough to save it.  Cap is packed with his mighty shield (which is the same mold used for Taskmaster, Red Guardian, and Vance), a pair of gripping hands, a left hand that’s pointing, a right hands that flat, an extra Cap Wolf head (which is probably the coolest included piece, and at least gives the figure *some* value), and the back-thingy of Red Onslaught.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I saw this figure a ton of times over the course of the last year, but, despite being rather excited when he was initially announced, I just couldn’t bring myself to pay full retail for this guy.  A few things happened that finally got me to buy him.  First of all, Hasbro’s eBay shop marked the figure down to $8.99, which for those of you playing at home is less than half of the original retail price.  On top of that, I came across an image of a mod for the figure (which I’ll be posting about later today), which finally convinced me he was worth owning.  The basic figure is certainly disappointing.  That head is just terrible, and the shoulder straps are beyond annoying.  However, the base body is pretty decent, and at lest he’s got the extra Cap Wolf to make him more worthwhile.

1301: Spider-Man – Homemade Suit

SPIDER-MAN — HOMEMADE SUIT

SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (HASBRO)

“Peter Parker swings around New York City in a suit he made himself as the web-slinging hero, Spider-Man!”

One of the biggest things to come out of last summer’s Captain America: Civil War was the introduction of Spider-Man to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Tom Holland’s portrayal of Peter was the best to grace the silver screen, and even in a smaller role, he was one of my favorite things about Civil War.  Needless to say, I’m pretty excited for his upcoming solo flick, Spider-Man: Homecoming, which is hitting in July.  The tie-in toys are just starting to hit, and while the Legends assortment hasn’t yet seen a wide release, I did snag one of the figures from the basic line, which I’ll be taking a look at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Homemade Suit Spider-Man is one of the four figures in the first series of Spider-Man: Homecoming figures from Hasbro.  As the name notes, he’s sporting his initial homemade costume, seen very briefly in Civil War before he gets a new one from Tony.  It’s looking like this suit will be getting a bigger focus in Homecoming, given its prominence in the various merchandise.  The costume’s pretty nifty; it kind of calls back to Scarlet Spider’s design, but with the colors switched up a bit to make him more resemble the classic Spidey.  The figure stands about 5 1/4 inches tall and has 15 points of articulation.  Size-wise, he’s a little hard to place.  He’s a bit smaller than the Legends stuff, but also a little larger than the old TB 5-inch stuff.  He’s sort of compatible with the more recent Doctor Who figures from Character Options.  Ultimately, he’s kind of close enough to a few lines that you could probably fudge him to fit if you were so inclined.  The articulation is a bit on the basic side, but given the price, it’s actually not bad.  Maybe some hinges on the hips would be nice, but that’s my only real complaint.  The sculpt is a bit more primitive than a Legends figure, but certainly not bad.  All of the important details are present, and the proportions are about right for a skinny teenager.  I like that you can make out his nose beneath the mask.  The paint is probably the one area where there’s some room for improvement.  The molded and painted reds don’t really match up, and the blue seems really pale and drab.  Also, I’m pretty sure the deco on the gloves isn’t quite right, but I’m not 100% on that.  My biggest complaint is the silver paint that’s been used for the web shooters, which doesn’t seem to have adhered very well to the plastic.  It’s been slowly chipping and scraping off since I opened it.  Simply running a fingernail across it is enough to give it a scratch, which is really annoying.  It’s a basic silver, so it’s easy to repaint, but that’s still not something I should have to do with a figure I just bought.  Fortunately, it’s just limited to that one color, so I’m hopeful it’s just a fluke.  The figure’s one accessory is a web attachment, which is kinda cool, though I think it’d be even cooler if the large end of it were a suction cup.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Walmart near me was in the process of resetting their toy aisle for about two weeks, and they had one of those diagrams hanging to show what was going out, which included the Legends assortment.  I checked back just about every day for about a week and a half, but that one aisle remained un-set the whole time.  I passed up these basic figures a few times while waiting, and on one of my later trips, I finally gave in and grabbed this guy.  If you’re looking for Legends quality, wait for the Legends version of this costume, but if you just want a fun, cheap figure, there are worse things you could do than buy this guy.  Issue with the silver paint aside, he’s a lot of fun, and he makes me nostalgic for my old Toy Biz figures.

#1300: Loki

LOKI

AVENGERS (HOT TOYS)

Would you look at that?  Seems I’ve made it another hundred reviews.  As I noted in my Thor review, I’m honestly getting to the point where 100 reviews isn’t that much of a milestone.  This particular review will mark the thirteenth time I’ve done it.  Still, it’s worth noting it, right?

In honor of getting though another hundred of these things, I’ll be doing another of my milestone deluxe reviews, focusing on one of my higher end figures.  Like almost all of my high-end reviews, today’s figure is from Hot Toys, and is yet another figure from their impressive Marvel Cinematic Universe subset of offerings.  For the last monumental review, I looked at Thor, and today I’ll be following up on that with a look at his mischievous brother, Loki!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Loki is figure 176 in Hot Toys’ Movie Masterpiece Series, directly following the Avengers version of his brother and immediately preceding the Dark Knight Rises re-release of the Batpod.  The figure hit around May of 2013, a full year after the release of the film he was featured in.  As with Thor, Loki is based on his appearance in 2012’s Avengers, specifically his fully armored appearance, seen during the film’s big climactic battle.  Initially, Loki was to be done in his armored look from 2011’s Thor, and a finished prototype even showed up a few places, but in an effort of finish out the Avengers set and be a bit more timely, he was re-fitted into his later costume.  It’s for the best, really, since I think his Avengers look is his best to date, and a more fitting adaptation of his comics design.  Loki stands a little over 12 inches tall and he has “over 30 points of articulation” according to the Sideshow solicitation for him.

Loki’s head was the source of some strife amongst fans and Hot Toys.  There was a debate about how exactly his helmet should be handled.  The final solution was a removable helmet, which not everyone was thrilled with, due largely to the necessary compromises for both the head and the helmet.  The head did actually turn out pretty well.  The Hiddleston likeness is one of HT’s best, at least as far as the face is concerned.  The compromises, of course, really come into play with the hair, which ends up a little matted down to the head.  Admittedly, Loki’s hair in the movie doesn’t have a ton of volume, but it’s still a little more present than what we see here.  It’s still very well sculpted, and quite realistic, but it’s undeniably sculpted to sit best under the helmet.  He’s not really designed with an un-helmeted appearance in mind.  Which, if I’m honest, results in a bit of disappointment when you finally get the helmet placed on the head, which is no easy feat, let me tell you.  It’s two pieces that pop apart; the bottom is supposed to slide up under the head and the top goes over top and then you snap the two pieces back together.  I’ve never been able to get a perfect fit, and the difficulty involved means that you really aren’t going to be taking it off a lot. This whole two piece construction is meant to give the helmet a tighter fit (which is also true of the actual film prop as well), but due to the scale, it’s still noticeably thicker than Loki’s helmet from the film.  To be fair, it’s mostly only an issue when viewing the figure head-on; in profile or even three-quarter view, it looks pretty good.  The detailing on the helmet is the usual HT-quality, of course, which is nice.  Ultimately, it’s far from terrible, but I just really feel the figure would have benefited from two separate heads to depict him with and without the helmet (especially since in the movie the helmet just magically appears on his head; we don’t see him carrying it around or anything).  The paint on both items is up to the usual HT standards; the face is incredibly lifelike, and the helmet looks suitably weathered.

Loki’s outfit is something of a mixed media effort, though not quire so much as Thor.  Most of the base clothing is actual cloth, with plastic boots and armor plates.  The plastic bits are all exquisitely sculpted, and the cloth sections are generally pretty well tailored.  The coat(s) sit really nicely, and I really love the way the cape hands.  Easily the best cloth cape I’ve ever seen.  My one real complaint is the weird bead things that line the edges of the coats.  In the movie, they look to be a zipper or something, but this figure uses these needs that look like those things that banks use to make sure you don’t steal their pens.  It’s not bad from far away, but looks rather hokey when you get up close.  I’m not sure why they were handled this way, rather than the way most zippers are handled at this scale.  I mean, they don’t ruin the figure, but they do just look weird.

Loki includes the following accessories:

  • 11 interchangeable hands
  • 2 versions of this scepter
  • 2 daggers
  • Shackles
  • Muzzle
  • Display stand

The hands come in relaxed (R and L), fists (R and L), dagger holding (R and L), gripping (R and L), gesture (R and L), and larger gesture (L).  All of them are very nicely sculpted and they suit the character.  They swap out pretty easily, but there’s an extra set of wrist pegs as well, just in case something goes wrong.

The scepter comes in both short and long configurations, which is nice, I guess, but in this get-up, he really only needs the larger one.  Still, both are very nicely sculpted, and it’s nice to have the option.

The daggers are both the same piece, and are just as well sculpted as the scepters.  They don’t get much use in the film, but they’re still a cool extra to have.

The shackles and muzzle allow for Loki’s look from the final scene of the movie, when he and Thor go back to Asgard.  It’s nice that they included them, and they allow him to pair up nicely with Thor and the contained Tesseract.  Technically, like the short scepter, they don’t really go with this costume, but the inclusion’s still nice.

Then there’s the stand, which is the same basic stand we’ve seen over and over again.  There’s a logo for Avengers and Loki’s name is on the front.  It helps him not fall down.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When the Thor version of Loki was first announced I was really excited, because I really like Hiddleston as Loki, and was bummed he wasn’t one of the first two released.  When that figure was re-worked into this one, I was initially uncertain about getting it, but ultimately decided he still looked cool enough that I’d kick myself if i didn’t get him.  In the ensuing months between pre-ordering him from Sideshow and his release, I grew to like the Avengers design even more, and I’m ultimately pretty happy that this is the one they went with.  The figure is not without his issues, but I think he’s still one of the coolest HT figures in my collection.  He’s just hard not to love.

#1299: Bloodstorm

BLOODSTORM

MUTANT X (TOY BIZ)

“Ororo Munroe was once the X-Man code-named Storm for her ability to control the weather.  After a horrific encounter with Dracula, she died and returned as a vampire.  Soon thereafter, she left the X-Men, seeking answers about her self and her new state-of-being.  She later returned to join Havok’s mutant superteazm, The Six, calling herself Bloodstorm.  Ororo retained her mutant power of weather control but now has the preternatural gifts of the living dead at her disposal making her an even more formidable opponent.  Bloodstorm can transform her body into mist, summon and control the myriad of creatures of the night and on occasion use a “hypnotic stare” to hold humans in her thrall.  Her vampiric nature amplifies her control of the forces of nature but makes her unpredictable in battle.”

Well, I don’t think I can get any more in-depth than that there bio, now can I?  So, this particular variant of Storm hails from Mutant X, an alternate reality-based X-Men series from the ‘90s.  I only have a handful of issues from the series, but I always enjoyed it (having Havok as the main character probably helped a lot).  There were a handful of action figures released, and I had to whole set.  Today, I’ll be looking at the alternate version of Storm, dubbed “Bloodstorm” because it was the ‘90s.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Bloodstorm is one of the four figures in the Previews-exclusive Mutant X series, put out by Toy Biz in 1998.  You’d think that with the main team being called “The Six” and all, they might try to, you know, release *six* figures and finish out the whole team, but this was the same company that on more than one occasion neglected to release all four of the Fantastic Four in a given style, so I guess it wasn’t a huge shock.  Storm stands about 5 inches tall and has 10 points of articulation.  While much of Storm’s mold was technically new to her, she was largely built on top of the Alpha Flight Guardian body, with the extra details sculpted on where needed.  In the end, only the arms are truly identical between the two figures.  The body is decent enough for how Bloodstorm tended to be drawn in the comics, and I like the extra details, but I did always feel she was a little on the short side for Storm (this was a common issue with the Toy Biz Storm figures).  She got an all-new head sculpt, which is really good, almost too good for the body it’s been placed on.  There’s a ton of detail work, and it’s really sharply handled.  I really love the intensity of the facial expression.  About the only issue I have with it is the pony tail, which is made from a soft rubber material and can be rather easily torn off if you aren’t careful.  Her coat is a soft goods piece, which looks alright, I guess.  It was supposed to be actually sculpted on, going by the prototype, but I guess it didn’t cost out.  At least this way you get the extra look.  The paintwork on this figure is generally pretty good, apart from a few oddities here and there.  I’m really not sure what’s going on with her abdomen; it looks like they tried to airbrush it or something, but it just didn’t work out right.  On the flip side, the work on the head is fantastic, and does a wonderful job of showing off the already great head sculpt.  Her one accessory is a metallic green “X” stand, which is the same stand included with all of the Generation X figure, just in a different color.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like the previously reviewed The Fallen figure (sorry about that review in advance; it’s not one of my better ones), Bloodstorm was Christmas gift from my parents.  I recall not having much of an opinion one way or the other about her when I got her (Bloodstorm wasn’t really one of my favorite characters from the series), but I have to say, after taking her back out to review her, I was pleasantly surprised by this figure.

#1294: Marvel’s Moon Knight

MARVEL’S MOON KNIGHT

MARVEL LEGENDS — 3.75 (HASBRO)

“A vision in an Egyptian temple leads Marc Spector to don a silver shroud and become the crime-fighting hero, Moon Knight.”

Moon Knight is one of the many Marvel heroes who began his career as an antagonist.  First created as a foe for Werewolf By Night, Moon Knight proved popular enough with readers to earn his own title, and in the process has become arguably better known than the character he was created to fight.  He was a fairly basic costumed vigilante to start with (he frequently found himself used as off-Batman); his only notable twist was that he had two secret identities, a wealthy playboy and a cab driver, neither of which was actually his original identity.  Which, for those keeping track, is a whopping four identities.  Eventually, it was decided that all these identities were actually due to Marc possessing a multiple personality disorder (which may or may not have been caused by the Egyptian God Khonshu’s influence on him).  You see, Marc isn’t pretending to be Moon Knight, or Steven Grant, or Jake Lockley; he *is* those people.  They’re all still very similar to Marc at their core, but each uniquely different in abilities, temperament, etc.  He’s definitely a fun character when handled right.  Above all, though?  He looks cool, and that makes for a good toy.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Moon Knight was released in the first 2017 series of the smaller-scale Marvel Legends line.  It’s sort of an oddball assortment of characters, but that’s honestly the best chance of getting made that Moon Knight ever gets.  The figure stands a little over 4 inches tall and he has 19 points of articulation.  Moon Knight is sporting his most recent costume; it’s got a lot in common with earlier Moon Knight designs, but with the usual streamlining we see on so much these days.  There are also crescents.  A lot of crescents.  Because the moon.  I’m generally a fan of this look, and I certainly like it more than some heroes’ modern designs.  He’s built on the most recent male base body, with a unique head, forearms, and shins, as well as an add-on piece for his cape and chest armor.  The base body is a good fit for Moon Knight.  It’s actually a first, I think; his base bodies have tended to be a little off on prior figures.  The new pieces are all pretty solid.  I wasn’t crazy about the head sculpt at first, but as I’ve had the chance to mess around with the figure and see it from different angles, it’s really grown on me.  It should be noted that it really looks best when viewed somewhat from above, rather than the upward facing angle most of the promo shots show it in.  The hood and cape both have a really awesome knitted texture going on, which helps to keep the figure from getting too monotonous, while still managing to not look overdone like some texturing at this scale can.  Moon Knight’s paint work is pretty straight forward black and white for the most part.  The application is all pretty clean; there’s some slop here and there, but nothing unacceptable for the scale.  I do like the presence of both flat and pearlescent white; it helps to differentiate between the armored bits and the cloth bits.  Moon Knight includes no accessories, which is a real letdown given the amount of money these things retail for.  At least give him his staff!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

March was a pretty hard month for me in terms of purchases, so I swore I wasn’t buying any figures for the entirety of April.  Remember how I said I swore I wasn’t buying any figures in April?  Well, it turns out my friends and family are all big fans of loophole abuse.  Tim and Jill came down for a visit in mid-April, and I spotted this guy while we were out and about.  I looked at him, but ultimately put him back.  Of course, Tim saw me empty handed and demanded I show him where the figure was and then proceeded to buy it for me.  Because they’re all a bunch of no good enablers, that’s why.  One of these day’s I’ll pay them all back.  Literally.  Like, with money.  Or other goods.

I wasn’t initially sure about this figure, given that he was being released in such close proximity to his larger scale figure in there main ML line, but the timing of the releases worked out so that he hit right as I was really wanting a Moon Knight figure.  It’s for the best really, because if they’d been released at the same time, I’d have skipped this guy, and that’d be a real shame, because he’s actually really cool.  Here’s hoping the large figure’s even better!

#1292: Titus

MARVEL’S TITUS

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

And now for the thrilling conclusion to the “characters Ethan knows next to nothing about” trilogy!

So, hey, yeah, it’s Titus.  He’s the…uhhh…well, he’s that guy that….ummm….he’s owned by Marvel?  Okay, in actuality, he’s a former member of the Nova Corps, who  served alongside Sam Alexander’s father.  He’s served as an antagonist in Sam’s Nova series.  He’s not a super prominent character, but he’s got a tie to one of the figures in this particular series, and he’s made a few appearances in animation.  They could certainly go more obscure.  I mean, not *much* obscure, but it’s possible.  Onto the figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Titus is the Build-A-Figure for the first GotG-themed series of Marvel Legends for 2017, which has, unsurprisingly, been dubbed the Titus Series.  Titus is based on his post-Nova-Corps look, which is kind of his most prominent look, so that makes sense.  The figure stands about 8 inches tall and he has 28 points of articulation.  He’s built on the body introduced with the Space Venom figure.  It’s been slightly altered to remove a number of the character-specific elements (presumably to make it easier to use on more figures in the future).  It’s also got a number of new pieces, for the head, right arm, and left hand.  The new pieces integrate well-enough with the old…well, I mean, as much as a tiger head and a big gun/cannon can be integrated with a human-proportioned body.  The level of detail in the pieces is really nice; the head is a ton of great texture work, and a nice, intense expression.  I wish the jaw were articulated, but that’s about the only gripe.  The gun arm is super goofy, and really boxy, but it’s also a pretty much perfect recreation of the comics design, and also a lot of fun.  In terms of paint, Titus is fairly basic, but really sharp looking.  The best work is definitely on the head, which actually sports some pretty solid accent work to help bring out the smaller details.  In regards to the rest of the body, there’s some slight slop, but it’s mostly pretty good.   I really like the shade of gold they’ve used here; it’s essentially the same one used on Sam Nova, which I liked there as well.  Titus has no accessories of his own.  Several of the other recent BAFs have had extra stuff, which has been cool, but it’s not like it’s expected, since he, himself, is really just an accessory.  Plus, what extras would you even give him?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

So, yeah, Titus.  Like I said, I’m not really familiar with him, so completing the figure was far from the top of my list.  I was fully intending to get rid of the pieces.  But then I got Darkhawk and Angela, and all of the sudden he was complete.  Didn’t mean to do that.  In my defense, I personally only bought one single figure that went towards to completing him.  Even then I wasn’t totally sure I’d keep him.  However, after assembling him, I gotta say, he’s a surprisingly fun figure.  For a character I’ve got no attachment to, I’m really happy with this figure.  This is how you do a figure of a character most people don’t know.