Saturday, December 31, 2011
Christmas, as we all knows, brings toys, especially when one is lucky enough to be married to a woman who appreciates the geekier pursuits of life.
Lindsay had her work cut out for her this year: after buying this pack for me, she had to prevent me from jumping the gun and ordering it as soon as I realized it was available online. Somehow she managed to do so without tipping her hand, and I was surprised on Christmas morning.
The Action League line is one I'm extremely excited about these days. Now that I've more or less got every DC character I care about in the 6 inch scale, I want a set of 2-inch, stylized figures. At the very least, I'd like a full set of the original Justice League, and this puts me within striking distance of that goal (I'm just missing an Aquaman, and there are, at the very least, Brave and the Bold versions available).
This is a set I've been interested in for some time. While this Deadman is cool, it's of course Martian Manhunter I wanted, so I'm thrilled he's the standout. I love the eyes, cape, and expression: actually, there's nothing on Martian Manhunter I don't like, save the articulation (both are limited to just the standard waist, shoulder, and neck cuts). Deadman's not quite as close to perfect, but he's still extremely cool. The plastic is just the slightest bit translucent, hinting at his spectral nature (despite the fact this version's technically alive again, but who cares). My one quibble is with his feet, which are connected in an odd-looking manner.
But overall the sculpting is well executed, as is the paint. This is a great set: Mattel's really getting good at this scale.
The back answers a question which had been baffling me for a while: namely, why these two are paired. This is intended as a tie-in with the Brightest Day story line, which followed both these characters (along with several others) following their resurrections at the conclusion of Blackest Night. It all seems fairly trivial now that the universe has been partially rebooted, but fortunately the character designs are generic enough to fit in with just about any era.
This is a gift, so I'm not entirely sure what my wife paid. I have seen these online recently for as little as $8, though, so you shouldn't have too much trouble finding them at that price. Seeing as they're going for more than $10 in Toys R Us stores here in NYC, that doesn't seem as unreasonable as it once did.
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Monday, December 19, 2011
"....And there were in the same city sidekicks abiding in the streets, keeping watch over Gotham by night. And lo, the Man-Bat came upon them, and the gory of his fangs shone before them, and they were kind of afraid. And the Man-Bat said onto them, "SKREEEEEEEEE!"
The above picture was my entry in the Action Figure Nativity Contest hosted at "Hey! Look at My Toys." There are some great pictures up on the site: head on over and vote for your favorite (or, you know, mine).
Posted by Erin Snyder at 8:52 AM
Sunday, December 18, 2011
More custom bait today: I picked this up for five bucks at St. Mark's Comics. As you can see above, this was more or less a loose figure, missing the back of the pack. Eh. I'd have thrown it out, anyway.
The figure was made by Diamond Select, a company which does good work. I'm not all that familiar with the show, but the character looks awfully lifelike. My only major complain is with the shoulders, which are cut rather than ball joints.
My wife and I picked this up for a few reasons. There are some cool looking techno-things. I don't know what they are, and I don't really care: as far as I'm concerned, they're whatever I need them to be.
She also comes with a piece of a Stargate. It's almost worth it trying to track down the other pieces: while I'm not a fan of the show or movie, I'd love to have a Stargate around.
She's got a few right hands in addition to the blade (which, by the way, could easily put an eye out). One hand looks normal, while other appears to be a sort of halfway point. I hope this was significant in the show, because otherwise it's a waste of time.
My wife likes the character's head, and I like the accessories. At five bucks, we decided to buy her and see what we came up with.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
When I saw the Black Friday sale going on at Matty Collector, the first figure I looked for was this one. Captain Marlena Glenn was an adventurer and space pilot from Earth who crash landed on a distant planet, became its queen, and was later the mother of that world's greatest hero, He-Man.
Yeah, she's freaking awesome. And this is easily one of the best toys I bought this year.
This is her shut-the-fuck-up gun. I suggest you shut the fuck up.
She actually comes with everything you need to turn her into either Captain Glenn or Queen Marlena. What really impresses me is how well that works. Take a look at what's actually included:
You get an underlying body with two sets of clothes and accessories, two heads, and Cringer thrown in as a bonus. She'd still be the coolest MotU Classics toy I've seen even without Cringer, but it's nice getting something extra.
The dress and vest are both made of very thin plastic, with tabs in back. There is a noticeable line where the edges meet, but it's no worse than the molding lines on most action figures.
Technically, her pilot uniform looks nothing like it did in the original series: that one looked lame; this one looks awesome. She's clearly got a Buck Rogers, pulp SF serial adventurer-vibe going on here, and I absolutely love it. They have retained the "Rainbow" symbol she was wearing in the episode featuring her, which is a nice throwback. My guess is that they updated and streamlined her outfit, so the underlying color scheme would match her queen outfit. Whatever the reason, it looks fantastic.
Hey Mattel, I hear you're having trouble getting a new He-Man movie green lit. Ever consider starting with a prequel in the vein of John Carter? Just think about it.
The giant laser rifle comes out better in photos, but the hand laser is the standout in person. It's wonderfully evocative of old science fiction movies. The holster is just as fantastic.
Here she is in royal dress. I love both the crown and outfit. If I remember right, the sword is actually intended for her husband. Screw that: she can cut down snake-men on her own. The scepter is fine, but probably the weakest accessory.
Cringer's fun, and as an extra he adds a lot of value to this toy. But, on his own, he's nothing spectacular. Not that he necessarily should be, mind you.
He's got cut joints on his neck and tail, but his legs are sculpted in place.
I will say this: seeing him standing next to Battle Cat explains why everyone doesn't realize they're the same creature. I mean, these toys are in scale, so, markings aside, there's not a lot of similarity.
I love both versions of Marlena, and I'm honestly torn as to which I want to display. I got her for $22.50 on Matty Collector's Black Friday Sale, which I think is a few dollars under retail. All things considered, this set may start out with a hefty price tag, but it more than delivers the value.
I consider this photo definitive proof that she could single-handedly defend Eternia against the forces of Skeletor at least as efficiently as He-Man. She probably just sits it out so she doesn't steal the spotlight from her son.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Monday, December 12, 2011
Sunday, December 11, 2011
Yeah. Okay. So I'm ridiculously late to this party. I could never justify racing to Matty Collector's website on their sale dates just to fight for a chance to maybe buy an overpriced toy then get gouged on shipping (since there's usually not much opportunity to combine).
But then Black Friday rolled around, and Mattel made a massive number of exclusives available, many at discounted prices (Battle Cat, for example, was marked down to $27). Add that to the fact I could combine shipping with a couple other toys I wanted, and the math suddenly looked a lot better.
As every other toy collector on Earth learned more than a year ago, this is pretty amazing toy. The Four Horsemen did a phenomenal job sculpting something that was simultaneously true to the original concept, while looking completely modern. Not to mention intimidating.
I love the work on the head, both with and without the removable armor. This guy's extremely scary - if I were Skeletor, I'd think twice before making trouble.
I will admit to having mixed feelings about the headpiece. It's amazingly well done, given the design of the original, but it looks equal parts cool and, well... silly. Then again, there's something realistic about that: real world armor doesn't always look as frightening as it's intended to.
The articulation is good, though I do have a gripe. The shoulders and hind legs are all joined with swivels instead of ball joints, which limits your options. The knees and ankles, on the other hand, are ball-joints, which mostly makes up for it. Mostly.
There are quite a few other joints, giving you quite a bit of movement. I also love the mouth, which looks fantastic open or closed.
He-Man looks good riding, but not great. The limitations in the Masters of the Universe Classics' leg articulation become apparent.
He works quite a bit better standing in front of Battle Cat: this is a good vehicle, but an amazing backdrop.
I'm thrilled to have finally gotten my hands on one of these. Truth be told, I was awfully jealous of my fellow collectors last year when pictures of these started showing up online, but I couldn't justify the price until now.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
I've been hoping for a DCUC Swamp Thing for years now, eagerly checking out every news article I could get my hands on, reading the Q&A's to see if the Vertigo embargo had been lifted, and waiting... waiting.
Then, about a year ago, I heard that it was finally happening. With the "Brightest Day" story line, Swamp Thing was finally rejoining DC proper, allowing Mattel to produce a figure. Almost immediately, they announced they were making one as a con exclusive which would later be offered through their website.
"I'll buy it," I thought. "No matter the cost, no matter the wait... I must have it."
Then I got the details.
In an attempt to make something exceptional, Mattel covered his arms and legs in a soft rubber, concealing his joints.
Ah... okay. That's cool and all. It's just that... that's not going to hold. Anyone who collects toys knows rubber deteriorates and falls apart. Eventually, it's going to tear and break down.
On top of that, I saw pictures and wasn't impressed. Sure, he looks cool, but concealing knee, ankle, shoulder, and wrist joints while leaving the shoulder and hip joints visible just draws attention to the flaws.
So I didn't buy him. I've actually passed up a few chances to get one since. Apparently, I wasn't the only one who felt this way: these weren't quite the hot sales item Mattel (not to mention scalpers) were hoping. These showed up on Ebay, Figure of the Day, Amazon... you name it. And the price seemed to be hovering around the forty dollar mark, which is about what it cost initially (I think it started at $30 plus shipping, but you get the idea).
Then, in November, I actually saw one in person and started having second thoughts. Sure, it's not perfect, and it'll require upkeep, but I had to admit it was pretty awesome.
Well, on Black Friday I got another chance, and I jumped on it. Matty Collector was hosting a massive sale on their website. They were selling an unprecedented number of different figures from Ghostbusters, the DC Universe, and Masters of the Universe. Due to the volume of toys, things weren't instantly selling out. Plus, it was possible to buy several figures at once and pay one shipping charge.
So that, right there, is the saga of how I bought the Swamp Thing. Let's talk about the toy itself.
Actually, we'll start with the packaging. It comes in an extremely large, very cool box pictured above. In the box, you'll find a tray shaped like Swamp Thing's head.
Mattel's trying to make it a selling point that this is biodegradable. I appreciate the effort, but the sentiment feels a little hollow given that it comes with a giant plastic toy that isn't. But that's a sin all of us toy collectors share in, isn't it?
Nevertheless, it's creative packaging with at least a tip of the proverbial hat towards the comic's environmental themes. Now, let's get to that toy.
Okay, let's get this out of the way. If you're looking for photos of detailed poses, you'll have to look elsewhere. I'm a tad paranoid about that rubber, so I'm not even testing the covered joints. You can find video reviews elsewhere that go over the full range of motion, but - for my purposes - I'm pretending the arms and legs are sculpted pieces. I like how they come posed, and I want them to stay that way.
In addition to the covered joints (wrists, elbows, knees, ankles, and abs) this has ball-jointed shoulders and head, and those swivel/hinge waist joints I usually like so much. In this case, I'd have been just happy with a sculpture, since that's how I'm basically treating it.
The rubber covers just about everything other than the joints you see. The toes and fingers lack a skeleton at all, so they're incredibly loose.
Visually, the figure's absolutely gorgeous. The amount of detail Mattel got out of this material is incredible. But ultimately the fact there are still visible joints defeats the point. Striking the balance between reality and action figure is tough, but I'm of the opinion Mattel got this about perfect years ago when they started this line. I appreciate the attempt to experiment, but I'd have rather this done as a "conventional" DCUC figure. I think it'd certainly would have fit in better on the shelf beside other toys in the line.
Let's move onto accessories. The version sold at cons included a pair of "un-men," which are bizarre mutants. I'd have liked those, but not enough to drop an additional twenty bucks on them on Ebay.
This does still have the Swamp Thing's stand, which is extremely cool on its own. It's nicely detailed, and it looks like an extension of the figure (as is appropriate).
I like that they've sculpted a skull and some bones here. I'm operating under the assumption those are the remains of Alec Holland (if you've read Alan Moore's run, you know that the Swamp Thing isn't actually Holland).
There's one more extra, though it's not all that impressive. You also get a "replica" of Holland's journal. The term "replica" might be an exaggeration, unless the original only had one page.
Yeah, it's not much, but it's cute and it's free.
For those of you wondering, this cost me $30, plus shipping (about another four bucks, after dividing the total three ways for the three toys I bought). It's a long way from an ideal Swamp Thing, but I do think this is an exceptionally nice piece - I just hope it stays that way. And at the price I wound up paying, it was certainly worth it.
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Saturday, December 3, 2011
Is it time to reassess your life when you realize you're a grown man getting ready to discuss an Imaginext Batman figure only to realize that it is not, in fact, the FIRST Imaginext Batman figure you've ever reviewed?
Don't answer that - the question's rhetorical and besides, I honestly don't know whether I could handle the truth.
I bought this for five simple reasons:
1. It was only two bucks.
2. I like the color scheme.
3. I was already buying a Catwoman and wanted this to compliment it.
4. I bargained with myself that I could have this one if I put three other Imaginext figures back. And:
5. An almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.
Sorry. Couldn't help myself.
First, the good. The figure is absolutely hilarious. As alluded to in the title of this post, this figure is more or less Frank Miller's "goddamn" Batman from the atrocious All-Star Batman and Robin. Seriously: look at the psychotic grin on his face. There's a punk who's made him angry, and Batman's going to hurt him. A lot. And enjoy it.
To this end, Batman comes with three accessories. Oh, I'm sorry: I forgot to transition into this section by saying, "and now for the bad."
What the hell is that supposed to be? The Riddler's staff painted red in the Riddler's blood, perhaps? I don't know. Maybe it's a lacrosse stick painted red in the Riddler's blood. I have no idea.
Whatever it is, it doesn't seem to involve these two giant batarangs:
They're... maybe a little large for this figure. Whatever. The figure's good even if the accessories are a wash. The chest symbol is great, and even though I generally shy away from fabric capes, this one's pretty decent.
I wouldn't recommend dropping much on something like this, but at two bucks he's fantastic.
I leave you with this scene from the new Catwoman series: