Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fisher Price Imaginext Catwoman (and Catcycle)

A long, long time ago I bought and reviewed a couple of Imaginext DC figures over at the Clearance Bin. This was before the existence of the similarly scaled Action League figures, and at the time I thought they'd be the closest I'd ever come to having a DC analog to Marvel's Superhero Squad.

Obviously, Mattel eventually did produce the Action League figures, so I made the jump. While I've occasionally considered more of the Fisher Price figures, I've ultimately stayed away. It's not that I haven't liked the toys (I have), it's just that they never became a priority.

The only time I was tempted was with this set, which appeared in Toys R Us stores earlier this year. I almost bought it several times, but somehow convinced myself I didn't need it.

On a recent visit to a Big Lots, I saw one going for just $5.50 (which I think is a few bucks less than Toys R Us was asking, though to be honest I can't recall the exact amount). At any rate, you can already see I broke down.

While the line is pretty good overall, this is probably the coolest figure they've produced. They went with the modern catsuit, which is my favorite version of the costume (though the old purple version is a close second). The bright blue goggles look fantastic, too.

The strong point of this set is the accessories. The whip is decent for this scale and fits nicely in Selena's hand. She also comes with a growling cat, which is surprisingly creepy up close.

Last but certainly not least, she comes with a cat-cycle, which is really something. The design exudes silver age silliness, particularly in the front. It has a couple modes, courtesy of a play feature that pops the wheels forward with the press of a button. The "tail" is articulated, giving you a couple of options.

It's a fun little toy and - compared to the more "collector friendly" figures on the market - a hell of a bargain at less than six bucks. There's nothing wrong with a toy that geared towards a younger market, and, frankly, with the over-sexualization present in Catwoman's comics (and many of the toys/statues on the market), it's kind of refreshing seeing a version of the character that's kid friendly.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Sparse Updates Through Christmas

Hi, folks. Toy Remix is going to be updated fairly infrequently from now through Christmas. All right, so this thing updates infrequently about half the time anyway, but I usually don't know it's going to happen in advance: this time, I do.

This disruption of service is seasonal in nature: my wife and I run an intensive holiday blog called Mainlining Christmas, which tracks the effect watching dozens of holiday specials and listening to nothing but Christmas music nonstop has on a pair of hapless test subjects. Unfortunately, lacking anyone else crazy enough to serve as guinea pigs in our mad science project, we're forced to experience all ten metric tons of holiday cheer ourselves.

Mainlining Christmas updates a minimum of three times a day, so it requires pretty much all of my free time. I'll still post occasional toy reviews and pictures here (I've got some prepared in advance), but there are definitely going to be long stretches between posts.

They'll also be a handful of toy reviews going up on Mainlining Christmas this year, so it's worth checking even if you don't want to read about how much I hate the Alvin and the Chipmunks' Christmas album. Those of you with strong feelings about Christmas - both pro and con - will find much of interest at Mainlining Christmas, though.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Whatnot Workshop

A few years ago, FAO Schwartz installed a Whatnot Workshop in the corner of their flagship store in New York. My wife and I considered buying one, but we were bothered by two things: first, you select the eyes, hair, and nose you want, and those are then sewed on. Since the actual Whatnots were meant to be modifiable, the parts were attached with pins or velcro on the Muppet Show and Sesame Street. That means the ones at FAO Schwartz aren't really authentic. Secondly, they cost a hundred freaking dollars each.

Well, with the new Muppet movie coming out, FAO Schwartz and their corporate overlords at Toys R Us decided to cash in on the success of the workshop by offering packaged versions with interchangeable parts. Best of all, they're priced at a more reasonable $60.

Okay, that's still a lot. But the toy's pretty cool and it gives you a good sense of what it would be like to operate a Muppet. At this price point, I will say I feel a little cheated on the accessories. There's three noses, eye sets, and wigs, along with a rod to operate his arms. They could have tossed in some costumes and/or extra eyes (I'd like to have gotten more variation). But it wouldn't be too hard to customize these: hell, with a little work, we could probably figure out what size he/she wears and pick up some baby clothes.

The package claims this is an FAO Schwartz exclusive, but that's bunk. When Toys R Us bought FAO's soul, they got access to their exclusives, as well. We picked this up at a Toys R Us on Long Island, and I'm betting they're available all over the country.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Amazon Exclusive Star Trek Data PADD Replica

I don't usually buy high-end stuff: it's generally out of my price range. But when I heard Amazon was producing a Star Trek data PADD (Personal Access Display Device) replica, I got interested. Another company has been offering a similar replica for five hundred bucks, while Amazon was charging less than half that much.

I broke down and ordered one. It came a few days ago, and I've been playing with it ever since. Due to Star Trek's myriad incarnations, they had some freedom designing what's clearly a "iconic" interpretation of the Data PADD. While I'd have preferred something a little more boxy and old school, I appreciate the more "Next Gen" version they went with.

It's a little small, but like I said, with all the different versions that have appeared in the Star Trek franchise over the years, it's got to be accurate to some incarnation or another. Due to Trek's popularity, there are larger versions sold by competing retailers, but those are the aforementioned $500 models. Thanks, but I think I'll stick with this one.

It's pretty cool, with a bright, adjustable display and speakers. Surprisingly, it doesn't come preloaded with any Star Trek images or sounds, though it does offer WI-FI access if you want to hop online and download some.

At $200, it's certainly pricey, but not compared to some of the high-end replicas out there. This fits in perfectly with the Diamond Select Star Trek accessories I've already got.

Apparently, this is one of Amazon's best sellers right now. I never realized there were so many cosplayers out there....

Picture: Vaudeville

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Steppin' Out Rowlf

For years, Animal was my favorite Muppet. But, as I grew older, I changed my mind. That honor now belongs to Rowlf and I finally decided I've been without an action figure of the character for far too long.

Performed by Henson himself, Rowlf was the first of the major Muppets. Originally appearing in a dog food commercial in 1962, he picked up a recurring gig on The Jimmy Dean Show a year later. Whether or not it was intentional, I always felt like this informed his character on The Muppet Show and the movies. While the others seemed worried most of the time, Rowlf was generally more laid back. He seemed to have a better grasp on show business, like he'd been in the game longer. Kermit and Piggy always felt like they were struggling to build up their careers, but Rowlf always felt like his time had passed, like he was a part of the fading vaudeville era the Muppets are a tribute to. Although he never came off as bitter or upset, I always felt like there was a melancholy subtext to his character.

Well, years and years ago, Palisades produced a "Steppin' Out" Rowlf figure, which was available at comic, toy, and some other spots for a while. I'm sure I came across him once or twice - this would have roughly corresponded to when I'd just started collecting toys - and passed him by. Yeah. Live and learn.

I found this one loose on Ebay. He had all his original accessories, with the exception of his stand (identical to several others I have, anyway). He wasn't cheap, but he was more reasonable than what packaged ones are going for. My wife, also a lifelong Muppets fan, didn't object, so I bit the bullet and ordered the figure.

The figure himself is great, both in terms of sculpt and paint. The articulation is on the low side, but he has enough to pull off the poses you need. His ears are articulated, which I like.

As a result of being used, my figure has several paint scuffs on him, but that's the cost of buying used. At some point, my wife and I might see about cleaning him up, but I took pictures of him as he is.

In some ways, the accessories are as impressive as the figure himself. The figure came with two things: a scale bust of Beethoven and a scale grand piano. As awesome as the bust is, I don't think it'll surprise anyone to hear the piano is my favorite of the two accessories. Actually, in this scale, it might be my single favorite accessory ever produced.

This came disassembled, both when I bought it and in its original packaging. The legs snap in securely and hold the body up. The top opens and is held in place by a moving peg. In addition, the keys are protected by a hinged cover, and the music stand flips up or down. The whole thing is made of hollow plastic, but it looks fantastic. Once again, there are some paint scuffs on the piano, as well as the figure.
The bust is accurate to how I remember it portrayed on the show.

Given what the toy I'm looking at cost me, I'd rather not consider how little it was when originally released. Years ago, when these first hit store shelves, this would have run you about eight bucks. Now, used, it ran me $56 with shipping. That's how it goes sometimes. If I'd wanted one in the package, I'd have been looking closer to a hundred bucks - ouch.

But it was worth every penny.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Muppets: "Vacation" Fozzie

As we get closer to the release date of the new Muppet movie, I thought it would be a good time to continue shouting the praises of the greatest action figure line to ever grace the shelves of toy stores. Palisades: you are sorely missed.

While Lindsay and I have plastic versions of most of what I consider the "core" Muppets - Kermit, Piggy, Gonzo, etc. - there have been a few lingering holes in our collection. The most notable, at least to the casual Muppet fan, has been Fozzie Bear. I've been meaning to remedy that for years, but I finally had a chance on Labor Day, when I found this at Midtown Comics. Thanks to a 20% off sale, I wound up taking Fozzie home for $16, which isn't quite as good a deal as getting the Koozebane Kermit for the same price, but is still more than fair as far as this collector's concerned.

I knew I'd like this, since I've yet to buy a single toy in this line I haven't at least liked. I don't think I was expecting to love this, though. I was wrong. This thing is absolutely incredible.

The toy itself is great, featuring some fantastically utilized articulation. The cut elbows manage to maintain the sculpt's integrity while opening up some gorgeous posing options. Other than that, sure, the articulation is minimal - V crotch, ball jointed shoulders, and a head joint that must a ball, even though it gives you a fairly limited range. The amount of different poses you can get is fairly staggering, and the figure always looks more like a statue than an action figure.

What really sells the figure are his accessories. Fozzie has a suitcase (sorry; it doesn't open), a hat, sunglasses, and a flotation device. The flotation device looks amazing, as does the briefcase. The sunglasses are pretty cool, though they're a little hard to position and potentially easy to lose. It's the same deal with the hat, which is held in place by a magnet - a great way to capture the look of the show without having to muck up the sculpt with pegs or holes.

Finally, you also get a sheet of stickers you can affix to Fozzie's case, if you're so inclined. While the stickers look cool, I think I'm going to hold off, since I really like the case the way it is.

It feels redundant to say it, but this is another spectacular action figure. Highly recommended if you ever see one at a decent price.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Muppets: Koozebane Kermit

In the decade I've been collecting, I've seen some great 6 inch toy lines. Mattel's DC Universe Classics, Toy Biz's Marvel Legends, and NECA's Nightmare Before Christmas are all towards the top, but - let's be clear - they're vying for second place. Because first place is owned by the now defunct Palisades, which produced a legendary line of Muppets action figures before going under.

The detail of the sculpts, the creativity in the articulation, and the sheer genius in the accessories and designs added up to a quality of action figure that's never been matched. And, frankly, almost certainly never will be, since rising costs make it more or less impossible to duplicate this level of quality at a profit.

This figure (really more of a playset) is a good example. It's a toy I never expected to get my hands on, actually: last time I checked, these were commanding a lot of cash on Ebay, and I haven't seen one in person since... well, possibly ever. Then, on Labor Day, Lindsay and I stumbled across this in Midtown Comics for $20. I'd gladly have forked that over for this set, but they were having a sale and everything was 20% off. So, in the end, this ran me about sixteen bucks.

The sheer amount of thought that went into these toys is staggering. Sure, Palisades made a point of advertising some of their other figures on the back, but they also included character accurate bios with appropriate humor. On top of that, the credits list the artists involved. Makes perfect sense to me: if I worked on this, I'd want my name attached, too.

Kermit's awesome, but the real stars here are the Koozebanians. The two larger figures have articulated arms. Only the Merdlidops (the ones with blue eyes) are attached. The rest can be moved around to your heart's content.

The base is extremely cool, though I kind of wish there were pegs to stabilize Kermit. But I can appreciate that Palisades always viewed their toys as, you know, TOYS, and wanted them played with.

I'm thrilled to add this to my collection.

Friday, November 4, 2011

It's Time to Get Things Started

All right. In honor of their upcoming movie, I'm hereby dedicating the next few weeks to The Muppets. That means, if you don't like The Muppets, YOU CAN BURN IN HELL! I mean, if you're not into The Muppets, you may want to check out other toy sites for a while. Also, the Hell thing.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Action League Green Lantern 3-Pack: Guy Gardner, Hal Jordan, and John Stewart

I almost never get to visit Walmart. I know, I know: most people would consider me lucky. But after six years living in New York, I miss the place. Well, I miss aspects of the place.

Lindsay and I recently rented a car just to get out of the city and drive around for a few days; sort of a mini-vacation. And one of the things we did was stop at a few Walmarts. Among other things, we found a bunch of Green Lantern 3-Packs going for $9.44 each, which is less than I usually pay for a 2-pack in the city. I had no idea these sets even existed, but I grabbed this one. There were some other options, as well, as advertised on the back:

The others are solid deals, but I only wanted one figure each from those packs. Ten bucks would have been a bit pricey, so I just got the one.

None of these figures are unique, though the set is a Walmart Exclusive. This is the same Hal Jordan I already own, along with John Stewart from the recent wave of two-packs and the Guy Gardner from the Batman: Brave and the Bold Action League toys (at least I think it's the same).

The best figure here - in my opinion - is the Guy Gardner. His head is stylized, yet instantly recognizable, and he has a different body than the other two.

John Stewart (my favorite Earth-based Green Lantern) is good, though they went a little overboard on the caricature of his face. My thoughts on Hal haven't changed since the last time I reviewed him: he's not a bad figure, but there's something seriously off in the face.

The articulation is the same as ever: cut joints on the neck, shoulders, and waists. I still wish they'd make ball jointed shoulders standard and add cuts to the wrists, but I'm coming to terms with what we've got.

These aren't perfect toys, but I really like the style. And, at a refreshingly reasonable price, I'm pretty happy overall.