Friday, September 30, 2011

Reveal the Shield Optimus Prime

I picked this Optimus Prime up in a Lots Less for eight bucks, and I'm about to say something I almost never say: I wish I'd skipped this one.

While this isn't an awful toy, it's extremely underwhelming. It's based on the movie version of the character, and - for this scale - it isn't a horrible representation. But, overall, there's just something off about the appearance, particularly in robot form. The entire thing looks a bit garish, especially in the face. At a glance, it almost looks more like a dollar store knock-off than the real thing.

The vehicle form is a little better, though not much. I should point out that this is the last time I expect to have this guy in vehicle form: he took a long time to convert. I've got Transformers with transformations that are more complex, but given how mediocre this one looks, it's just not worth the effort.

Despite the ridiculous shoulders, Prime has some decent, though not exception articulation. He comes with that giant sword, which - incidentally - gets shoved up between his legs when you transform him.

At about five or six inches tall, this is actually the second Prime I have in this scale. The other, based on the original cartoon, is far better.

At eight bucks, I'm not down a huge amount of money. But, frankly, he just wasn't worth the money. I really feel for anyone who got duped into paying twice that for this guy.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Green Lantern Vs. Prometheus Vs. My Budget

I wasn't going to buy this, and I certainly wasn't going to buy this for full price. I already owned a Green Arrow in this scale. Why would I need two? The answer: I wouldn't! And the one I already owned was fine. Good even. Really good.

It's just that, well, it wasn't GREAT. I mean, it was based on the Brave and the Bold design, which was fine and all that. But just fine.

This one, on the other hand, is pure DC. But that's beside the point. Even if this one's a little better - okay, a lot better - he's still ten bucks. And he comes with Prometheus, a supervillain he shot through the head (he, ah, had a good reason).

But this isn't about Prometheus: it's about Green Arrow. Cool character, great figure, but... I didn't need him.

So I didn't buy him. Not the first time I saw this set, nor the second. In fact, I came across this at least five or ten times, took a deep breath, then walked out of whatever store I was in at the time.

But each time I felt my resolve weaken a little bit. Not a lot, mind you: just a little.

I know what you're thinking: you're thinking I broke. Well, it shows what YOU know. See, that's not what happened, at all. On the contrary, I held firm.

But I realized that I couldn't hold out forever. That, eventually, I was going to break down and buy this set in a moment of weakness. I couldn't let that happen, so I came up with a brilliant solution. Rather than hold off until I broke down and bought the toys, I just purchased them while my resolve was still strong.

Anyone buying any of this?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Museum Quality

I can't even tell you how excited I am to have picked up these Dinosauria packs for only three bucks each at a Toys R Us Express. Why am I so excited? I'll tell you! It's because these are MUSEUM QUALITY REPLICAS.

I know. You're skeptical. But just take a look at this:

That's right - PROOF! I mean, they couldn't just print that if it wasn't true, right?

"So," you're probably asking, "what the hell does 'museum quality replica' even mean?" Don't worry - I'll show you. First, here are the two Museum Quality skeletons standing next to the Museum Quality miniature plastic dinosaurs they came with, so you can see what these actually looked like when they were alive:

Apparently, the Tyrannosaurus Rex and the Triceratops looked like crappy pieces of plastic when they ruled the Earth. See, these are the kind of insightful realizations you get when you start collecting Museum Quality Replicas from the clearance aisle of a Toys R Us Express.

Perhaps, someday, you too shall be so cultured.

Note the Museum Quality gap where the plastic doesn't quite fit together right. Also, added bonus: the Museum Quality pieces falling off (fun fact: every year, tens of thousands of museum visitors are killed by dinosaur skeletons).

Unfortunately, while I now have Museum Quality Replicas, I don't have the same kind of space. So I disassembled them and stuck them into a bin, until I need them for some custom project or another.

I'm sorry. I mean, Museum Quality Custom Project.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Dusty Trails Action Series 2: US Army 3rd I.D.

Here's another Dusty Trails figure I bought at St. Marks Comics for five bucks. Like the last, I picked this guy up for his base.

Since I don't have a need for a giant picture of a diseased dictator, I'm planning on either pasting something over it or finding a way to sift through different backdrops. More on that eventually.

I'm not going to say too much about this figure, seeing as he's going in the spare parts drawer, but I will mention the sculpt and paint are great, while there's almost no articulation. The gun is removable, and on its own is a great accessory.

The packaging made a big deal about being able to see the look of determination in his eyes. Ah... if you say so. Honestly, he looks kind of scared to me.

Once again, this is a cool statue, but not much more. The sum of its parts add up to much more than the toy, however, and I'm thrilled I found this for as little as I did.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dusty Trail Action Series 1: S.W.A.T. Pointman

I remember seeing these in Toys R Us several years back. While I was intrigued by the bases, I wasn't as serious about collecting back then as I am now, so I never picked one up.

However, when I came across this at St. Mark's Comics for five bucks, I grabbed it up.

This was produced by a company called "Dusty Trail Toys." They were clearly trying very hard to duplicate McFarlane's success: since I haven't heard of them since, I'm guessing they weren't all that successful. Beyond that, your guess is as good as mine.

As a statue, this is a pretty impressive piece. The sculpt and paint are both phenomenal. On the articulation front, this doesn't do so well. There are few joints here and there for fine-tuning the pose, but it's really only designed to hold the one.

Though I did manage to get him doing a dance:

The value of this comes from the stand, which is pretty fantastic, though I wish the door closed. In addition, I think they went a little overboard detailing the damage.

You also get a pair of goggles and a gun. Both are good accessories and will work with other six inch figures. For example:

The Pointman's custom bait, and his accessories are headed for the bin, though I haven't decided whether or not I want to turn his stand into something else. To be honest, I kind of like it the way it is.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Picture: Shortcut to Mordor

He was going to get there by Eagle, but then he decided that would take too long.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Action League Firestorm Vs. Deathstorm

I've been collecting figures in this scale and style for years now, ever since I spent three months lying to my wife by claiming I couldn't stand the Star Wars Galactic Heroes figures she loved, all so she'd be surprised when I gave her some for Christmas.

Firestorm doesn't generally appear on the list of superheroes I care about, though with Gail Simone working on the relaunch, I expect that might change. At any rate, when I originally purchased the rest of these, I skipped this one. It wasn't that I didn't want it, just that I wasn't willing to spend ten bucks. Especially since I had a feeling the price tag wouldn't stay that high forever. In a wave with Superman, Green Lantern, and the Flash, Firestorm's a pretty obscure character. As such, he wound up warming the pegs for months until the Times Square Toys R Us apparently decided the space was too valuable, as you can see in the picture above.

At less than five bucks, I decided I could use Firestorm after all. Like I mentioned earlier, one of my favorite writers is taking over his book, so my opinion of the character might be changing soon. On top of that, the sculpt and paint work here are stellar.

Of the two figures, I actually prefer Deathstorm, though he's even less a desirable character to me than Firestorm. Deathstorm comes from Blackest Night, when dead superheroes and villains were resurrected. Without going into too much detail, he's the fusion of two characters, one living and one undead. The character is visually cool in the comics, though I can't imagine we'll be seeing much more of him anytime soon.

The look of his skull is absolutely beautiful, and the fact they did the character at all is extremely impressive, though I'm at a loss to explain why they're willing to cater to obscure characters and not women (memo to Mattel: 12 year old boys don't know who either of these are; next time make Batgirl and Supergirl instead).

I absolutely love the Black Lantern symbols on Deathstorm, as well as the translucent flames on both figures. These are great toys, despite having some balance issues (another memo to Mattel: plastic stands are cheap; INCLUDE THEM).

So, great toys at a great price, thanks to the obscurity of the characters. Can't argue with that.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Picture: Team-Up

I wanted to get Man-Bat in there, too, but he's wired in flight in the back of my DCU display. Maybe next time.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Thundercats. Ho.

Unlike He-Man, which I never had any interest in as a kid, Thundercats was something I actually watched for a while. I don't remember ever being obsessed with the show, but I have some fond associations. And, having just re-watched the first episode, it seems to hold up all right. Sure, it has some stupid parts, but the animation was pretty solid, and the designs were cool.

Of course, the new reboot on Cartoon Network blows it out of the water. The writing's better, the animation is improved, the characters are more interesting, and the designs.... actually, I think I prefer the old designs, overall.

And that brings us to the Thundercats Classic eight inch Lion-O, from Bandai. Well, actually I'm getting ahead of myself. It really brings us to the Times Square Toys R Us in late August, where I first saw these in package for $24 each.

I'd been waiting for these to show up for a while, and here they were. Dozens of them, in fact, filling the pegs, along with just as many Tygras (the other figure in this very small wave). I decided at once to hold off on Tygra - if I find one cheap closer to Christmas, I'll pick him up; otherwise, I can live without him - but I was torn on Lion-O.

See, this was also the first day that Toys R Us had the DC Universe Classics Mad Love set in stock, and I knew I couldn't justify getting both. They had one or two of the Mad Love packs left and countless Lion-O's. Besides, I wanted the Mad Love set more than I wanted this, so my decision was made.

It didn't take me long to start regretting not getting Lion-O at the same time. Expensive or not, I really wanted one. So, a day or two later, I stopped in after work.

They were sold out. Every one of them: gone. I've checked back a few times since, but it's always the same: Tygra remains, but I haven't seen a single Lion-O since they appeared.

Since I certainly wasn't willing to dish out what these are going for on Ebay (don't even ask), I more or less accepted I'd lost my opportunity.

That's when they showed up on Figure of the Day for a mere $20 and free shipping. You know, I'm really starting to love that site. I ordered it at once, and here we are.

The toy fascinates me, in part because it's so different than most of what I have. Bandai's toys are no less advanced than Mattel's or Hasbro's, but it's like they're the result of a completely different evolutionary path. Rather than developing improved paint ops, Bandai seems to have focused on mastering using colored plastics. It makes for an end result that looks plasticy and toyish, but still cool. Rather than disguise its nature, it flaunts the fact it's a toy. I'm not sure I prefer this over the attempts at realism we've gotten from Mattel and Hasbro, but I'm happy there are some options.

The sculpt is very strong, evoking the original show, and the different plastics create some nice contrast. In particular, I love the look of his belt buckle. The figure's real strength, however, lies in its articulation and balance. While I have a few nitpicks (particularly around the head, which can't seem to hold an upward or downward gaze), there aren't many missed opportunities here.

I love that this pose is possible. By spacing the gauntlet fingers to match the closed right fist, Lion-O can hold the Sword of Omens two-handed. Brilliant.

As an added bonus, this also happens to be about the same spacing you generally get on six-inch figures' necks and heads, making this possible as well:

That's Lion-O having a disagreement with the Riddler. And, thanks to his balance and sturdy joints, he can hold that pose without assistance. Jesus - I have trouble getting some figures to stand up on their own. You know what? How about another shot?

The figure comes with a few accessories, the best of which being the extended Sword of Omens (yes, probably the single most phallic object in any 80's animated cartoon). In addition to the full-sized Sword of Omens, he also has a smaller version which fits into his gauntlet. He also has a pair of extra hands, in case you want to display him without the sword and glove. I'm grateful for the option, though I can't imagine many collectors will be using them.

Lion-O also has a sort of removable sash hanging at his side. It ends in a ball joint, which his glove can snap into. It's a cool feature, though - again - I can't imagine many people wanting to display this without wearing the sword and glove.

So. Great toy, good accessories, and - honestly - a decent price, all things considered. If a six inch figure is actually worth $18, isn't an eight worth $20 or even $25? If you can find these in stock, I highly recommend grabbing one.

It's awkward, but he can pull off this pose.

I think Lion-O is going to mug Mumm-Ra.