Sunday, October 30, 2011

Once Again, Mattel Violates the Treaty

"I don't buy dolls: I buy collectible action figures."

As toy collectors, the above line is supposed to be our shield, our defense against the charge we purchase dolls. On some level, we know it's an illusion (there's no metaphysical difference between the two - there never was), but it's all we have.

And, once again, Mattel is violently yanking it away from us. It's bad enough they forced me to buy Barbies when they made superheroes under that brand, not to mention the Speed Racer 2-pack and the Barbie/Ken as Star Trek characters my wife reviewed.

Now they're at it again. Lindsay and I came across these Polly Pocket figures dressed as Supergirl and Wonder Woman in a Target recently. She wanted to buy them, but I told her she couldn't and snatched them out of her hands.

These were mine.

I mean, come on. They're freaking adorable. Wonder Woman even has little bracers: I honestly don't think I had any choice in the matter.

Articulation is limited but decent. The heads are attached with ball-joints, which work well. The shoulders are also ball jointed, but Supergirl's are limited by her outfit. It's made of a soft rubber, so you can still get some motion, but I don't want to push it for fear of damaging the suit. There's also a cut joint at the waist, but it moves the figures out of alignment with their costumes. Finally, the legs are connected with pin joints, but - once again - the suits get in the way. In terms of posing, you're going to need to lean these against something to keep them standing.

Each figure comes with a single accessory: a character-themed bag, presumably for trick-or-treating. These were five bucks each, which is pretty reasonable.

However, I'm still pissed at Mattel for making me buy dolls. I won't settle for anything less than an apology and a release of the San Diego Comic Con exclusive Polly Pocket Batgirl, so I can complete my collection.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Green Lantern Classics: Collect & Connect Stel

Wave two of the Green Lantern Classics contains six figures (well, six packs - technically, there are eleven figures if you count the alternate heads and the three pack). At any rate, each toy comes with part of Stel.

I bought three of the packs more or less immediately. I wanted the three pack of mini-figures, and the toys with alternate heads, so I didn't hesitate. I was less excited by the others. In fact, I find one of the others downright disappointing (that would be Star Sapphire), another cool but not really essential for my collection (G'Hu), and the last fine but underwhelming (Sodam Yat). If you're wondering why I felt the need to recap several reviews, it's for contrast. Because while those weren't spectacular, I absolutely love this Stel.

I'm not a huge fan of the comic character, thought I like the little I've seen. Unlike some others, Stel's never gotten a major role on any of the animated properties, which makes him a bit more obscure. But I like the Green Lantern Corps being diverse, so having a robot in the mix is certainly appreciated.

What's more appreciated is this toy: this thing is awesome. No, strike that: it's AWESOME.

The green metallic paint is beautiful, and the brighter green highlights, representing pulsating energy, stand out nicely. The sculpt is just about perfect. Robotic characters always have an edge when captured in plastic, since the joints don't look out of place. This takes full advantage of that fact, delivering an amazing looking toy with great articulation.

I can't think of any greater compliment than this: Stel was worth picking up those extra figures. Heck: even they look pretty good beside him.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Green Lantern Classics: Sodam Yat

Sodam Yat was created in 1986 by Alan Moore, who intended to use him in a never-published story set in the future of the DCU. Moore intended for Yat to kill Superman, and - to Moore's credit - he gave the character a plausible explanation for having that kind of power.

Sodam Yat is a Daxamite, an alien race closely related to Kryptonians (Daxamites have been around since the 60's, though they never came up much). Under a yellow sun, they exhibit the same powers as Superman, but instead of being susceptible to Kryptonite, they can be killed by lead. So everything bounces off them EXCEPT bullets.

It was a silly concept created for a fairly silly story involving an alien who showed up pretended to be Kryptonian and befriending Superboy. But, for better or for worse, the species was created and in continuity, and Moore saw the potential.

What if you gave something like that a Green Lantern ring?

He did just that - or rather alluded to it - in a prophecy told to Abin Sur. Moore himself never got around to telling that story (he had a falling out with DC Comics soon after), and the character faded into obscurity for decades.

Until Geoff Johns dusted off the concept and folded him into the Sinestro Corps War, a major event involving an alliance of villains so bad you'd need a super-powered Green Lantern on your side just to have a chance. Johns actually upped the ante, empowering Sodam Yat with Ion, the living embodiment of willpower. Even so, he eventually got taken down (but not killed) by Superboy Prime, whose origin... I'll leave for another day.

The action figure is pretty good, but not spectacular. Honestly, I wish they'd gone with his Green Lantern outfit instead of his Ion look, but that's just my preference. There's nothing special about his articulation: this is standard DCUC (which is still pretty good).

The one trump card this figure does have is accessories. He doesn't do as well as some of the other packs in this wave (a few of the figures have interchangeable heads and hands, basically working out to two figures in one), but he does come with an extra hand.

The one he comes wearing is actually the one I'd consider the alternate: it has a green energy construct of a ring symbol shooting out. It's a great idea, and it mostly works. I'd have been happier if it were a little bigger, but the idea is so much fun it's hard not to love it anyway. I think I actually prefer Yat with his normal hand, but I plan on "shopping this around" to my other Lantern action figures: I'm sure it'll look good on someone.

I was torn on this figure for the longest time. He's good but not great, and, while I like the character concept, I'm not really attached to him. What finally made me buy him wasn't the toy himself, but the Collect & Connect pieces for Stel. He comes with Stel's head and waist, which were all I was missing.

I found him at a Toys R Us on Long Island for $18. I actually bought him knowing he was three bucks less on Amazon, but decided that was worth the instant gratification.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Green Lantern Classics: Star Sapphire Carol Ferris

This was picked up at a K-Mart in New Jersey, where she was marked down to $12.39. While I really like Star Sapphire as a character, I would have skipped this entirely if it weren't for the Collect & Connect piece. Because, while I like the character, I hate the current outfit.

This is - unfortunately - accurate to her look in the comics recently. The character was never overdressed, but this really takes the concept about ten steps too far. This isn't appealing or attractive - it's just stupid.

The head sculpt is fine, though not really spectacular. Honestly, comparing this to some of my other DC Universe and Green Lantern Classics, I can't help but wonder if the sculptors aren't similarly unimpressed with the design. The Four Horsemen always do solid work, but I don't see much evidence they went above and beyond this time. Can't say I blame them.

The articulation is lacking, as well. This is the first of the redesigned female figures I've gotten my hands on, and I'm not impressed. There's almost no articulation in the stomach or neck joints, severely limiting posing options.

Accessories are similarly lacking. The only thing you get is Stel's left arm, which certainly doesn't justify the prices these are commanding in some cases (over $20 at the Toys R Us near my apartment).

Even at $12.39, I don't feel like I landed much of a deal. Still, worth it for the Collect & Connect piece I needed.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Green Lantern Classics: G'Hu (Movie)

G'Hu is easily the figure in Wave 2 of the Green Lantern Classics I was least interested in, despite the fact he has excellent sculpt and paint work. In fact, as an action figure, G'Hu is pretty awesome. The issue is more with the style.

This was released last spring, before the Green Lantern movie or tie-in merchandise hit. In fact, I'm pretty sure this was the first movie-related toy available.

The thing is, the movie wasn't all that good. In fact, in my humble opinion, it was kind of awful. Seeing as the film wasn't much, I haven't exactly been driven to track down the action figures, this guy included. And, while he's relatively close to my comic figures, his color scheme and costume are just different enough to clash on the shelf.

So. Why'd I buy him? Two reasons: first, I found him at a K-Mart in New Jersey marked down to $12.39. Second, he came with this:

That, of course, is the right arm belonging to Stel, the Collect & Connect figure broken apart and sold with Wave 2 of Mattel's Green Lantern Classics. And, frankly, I kind of wanted to finish him.

Like I said before, G'Hu isn't a bad figure in his own right. He has an almost absurd level of detail, and the head is gorgeous. I also love the hair, which ends in pointed barbs. There's a good amount of articulation, as well. The joints are different from what we're used to - not surprising, as the figure has an alien physiology instead of human. The elbows and knees are cut rather than pin joints, but they actually work pretty well.

So, while I'm not all that interested in the style yet (that could change if the other movie toys start appearing in clearance sections), I can appreciate fine work. And this is definitely a good toy.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Lemax Spooky Town Lighted Moon

I was meandering through a Michaels recently, when I came across this. Normally, it would cost $14.95, but all their Lemax Collectibles were marked 50% off. Seven-fifty for a light up moon? It seemed like a steal. I mean, look at that picture on the side: that looks awesome.

Ah. The power of photoshop. Want to see what the moon ACTUALLY looks like when this thing is turned on?

Okay. Uh. I know moonlight looks blue and all, but the moon itself... well, that's usually yellow or orange. Like in the picture. Or when this thing is turned off. This thing actually looks more like I imagine the Earth looks when you're standing on the moon.

Also, when it's turned on, it makes a soft, high pitched whistling sound, kind of like a small fly is buzzing around the inside of your ear canal trying to escape. It... gets annoying after a while.

This is quite a bit nicer turned off than on. Though if I wanted a moon on a disk, I could have made a far nicer one using a sticker. And it would have cost a hell of a lot less than $7.50.

It's not awful. No, actually it is kind of awful. Well, it's not without merits. The metal bar holding it up extends, giving you some options on how you want it displayed. And, despite not being the right color, it still looks kind of neat when used with the right toys.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Grave Picture

Okay, so Bruce Wayne PROBABLY wouldn't have selected the headstones with a skull and crossbones motif. Probably.

But it wasn't like Michaels was selling miniature Halloween headstones with angels on them. And at $1.19 each after a 40% off sale, Batman can get over it.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Creatology Halloween Vinyl Decorating Toys

These small, vinyl figures are being sold at Michaels for Halloween. While I've got some history with Michaels (I worked at one for a year right after college), I didn't actually stumble on these. I found out about these guys when Wes reviewed the pumpkin one over at Scary-Crayon Reviews and I went looking. The Michaels near me was sold out (assuming they ever had them in stock), though I did find a Santa vinyl figure (but it wouldn't be right to discuss that so far before Christmas, would it?).

I had some luck at a Michaels further afield, which miraculously had all four. They didn't have many left, either - at least one of these was the last in stock. At a mere $1.99 each, I picked up one of each. The only "packaging" is the cardboard tag tied to their necks. Inside, it offers a suggestion for how they might look painted.

These have cut neck and shoulder joints. Right now, my favorites are the pumpkin-head and the Frankenstein's monster, though that could change when I get them painted.

They're not spectacular, but they are a lot of fun and a bargain at two bucks each.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

October Horrors, Pt. 6: Dissection of a Kiss

I bought this figure a few months back for the giant 'I' packaged in the lower left - I wanted to give it to Zatanna as a table (more on that here).

Here's the figure intact with all his accessories. Don't get attached.

Almost immediately, the figure's lower arm snapped off. I didn't have much interest in keeping the figure intact anyway, so I decided to salvage the parts.

The head is fascinating. Despite being a traditional action figure in most respects, the head is actually more like a typical doll's: soft, hollow plastic with rooted hair.

He also came with this delightful spear.

I've kept everything except the green fuzz. I have no idea how much of this stuff I'll get around to using, but you never know.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Halo: Flood, Pure Form

Ah, Halo. I've never played the game, but I sure have a lot of the action figures. Why? Because these things wind up in clearance more consistently than just about any other toys I know of. You just have to wait.

Judging by appearances, this thing looks to be some sort of alien parasite. Beyond that, you probably know way more than I do.

I like the texture on this thing, though overall the design feels a bit too bizarre. I'm all for making aliens look alien, but if it takes a minute to determine which end is the front, it's gone too far.

I picked this up at a Toys R Us Express for three or four dollars. At some point, I've got a custom project that might incorporate some of the parts. Assuming I ever get the time, of course.

Friday, October 14, 2011

October Horrors, Pt. 5: Another Day, Another Bin

I'm pretty sure every collector has a bin like this containing extra build-a-figure and collect-and-connect parts. I hope to finish some of these figures eventually.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Friday, October 7, 2011

October Horrors, Pt. 3: Pandora's Toy Bin

This is, in Lindsay's own words, the bin of shit she's going to turn into something. I grabbed a picture from both sides, so you can fully appreciate the effect. For the record, I didn't shift, move, or rearrange anything before taking these pictures. What you see is what I came across.

Bonus game: Can you find both headless dinosaurs in the above pictures?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Spawn: Scourge

Ah, Spawn. What would the 90's have been without you? I remember when it seemed like Spawn was here to stay, like he was the future of comics.

Ha! These days, the character's remembered more for his impact on toys than comics. Spawn may not matter much on the comic shelves, but the influence McFarlane had on the toy industry can't easily be overstated.

None of this has anything to do with I bought this, however. Honestly, I just wanted the parts, particularly the head. Well, the lower head, anyway.

If the copyright info on the back is to be believed, this guy's from 1996. The articulation is pretty good for the time, but clearly dated.

The sculpting is really the strong point: there are some really cool ridges and horns that have great custom potential. Not bad for five bucks at St. Mark's Comics.