When someone refers to a toy as their 'grail' they're usually talking about a vintage toy they had as a child or an exclusive figure that's extremely limited. Rarely do they refer to something that just came out, but that's my case here. That being said I'll try to be objective as I can in this review...try being the operative word here. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the Blodia it's the mecha Jin Saotome pilots in the original Cyberbots game and whose giant fist/vulcan cannon pulverizes opponents in Marvel vs Capcom 2 as a special move. That's right, the Sen-ti-nel company produced a high-end action figure based on an 18 year old game for a system nobody owns (sega saturn) that just happens to be one of the only three Cyberbots/Jin Saotome official merchandises in existence. If you want to talk about a niche product this is it by definition. Well let's get to that review. ((Warning, this is going to take you ten minutes to read, no 5-minute toy review here!))
Normally I skip the packaging unless it's really, really nice. Well it's really, really nice this time. The Blodia comes in a semigloss window box with a velcro flap ala Hot Toys with the entire thing being collector friendly with a dual part removable tray. The graphics are great, you get the Blodia's diagram specs on the side and posed samples of the figure on the back. Inside the flap is a large sticker with the production team on it in English. I assume if you peeled it off you would see the Japanese writing instead or perhaps its blank and was added last-minute. Either way it's a permanent sticker. But man this packaging makes me wish every action figure was done this way.
Sculpting for the Blodia is quite possibly perfect. I've looked at various art, diagrams, and even matched it up against the diminutive Yujin Blodia PvC and everything appears to be in exactly the right place. Corners are sharp where they're suppose to be and beveled when designed. There's diecast handles, foot treads, multi-sectional arm panels, the shield and weapon pod, everything is cleanly sculpted. The only thing that breaks up the sculpt is the occasional seam line, most noticeable on the diecast knees and feet. But it's diecast and well, that's perfectly acceptable.
The Blodia's design needs mention here. Everything moves. Every flap, panel, and hinge. Joints like the ankle and knee have hidden extending sections that run on rails or slide up inside something else. The back of the leg folds in to accommodate the bend of the knee while the upper thigh extends downward as the hidden knee panels slide into view. Then you get to the torso which has a multi-directional hinge, a folding ab crunch, extending collar section, and rotating ball shoulders attached to a giant swivel ball inside the chest.
Wait that's not all! both the Blodia's arms extend, separate pistons locking in both closed and open positions. The left arm which houses the arm spikes (also diecast) extends further with the back section sliding out to reveal the exhaust port for the punch effect. The right arm features a telescoping peg that the shield attaches to that when extended runs across a rail allowing the shield to rotate and cover any section of the arm. I'm not even to the hands yet, just wait.
The Blodia's comes with two sets of hands, one set of solid sculpted fists and the other pair a fully articulated set. This makes no sense because the fully articulated hands can perfectly mimic a closed fist as the design even allows for the fingertips to be tucked into the palm. Instead of including a repatative set of hands we could have been treated to something like, oh, say a miniature version of the mecha's pilot that could stand in its hand? But these articulated hands...the fingers have three joints, they raise up and spread apart just like real fingers. They're metal pins and tight. Speaking of metal pins they seem to be everywhere on this figure. There are no screw holes and every joint section is covered, hidden, and makes for a completely jointless look.
The Blodia's articulation if you guessed is incredible. Because of all the extending sections the range of motion is unhindered in every moving part of the figure. It can raise its arms all the way up, kneel, facepalm, even stand on its toes. The poses you can get out of the Blodia are great and the only thing that doesn't work are the heel wheels, they're fixed posed and have some sort of piston up under them. It would have been really cool to have rolling rubber heels but I can't fault it.
Paint application for the figure is flawless as it should be. There's no bleed, so slop, no overspray. The white sections are a metallic pearl and the red is a nice semigloss. The diecast claws and handles are left unpainted which is a cool touch. The Blodia's shoulder and kneepads have slight battle wear on them which is actually real wear, the diecast showing under the scuffing. There's also a light black panel lining on the armor and every little bolt is painted giving the figure a clean but detailed look. Tiny tampos that say things like [Warning Electrical Hazard] are cleanly applied and can be read with a magnifying glass.
Accessories for the Blodia are the two extra hands, shield, a clear-topped stage with a claw arm and post for the Bit (weapon pod). The Bit is just as cleanly designed and has tiny moving fins. A set of instructions show you all the range of movement, sliding arm features, and accessory attachments. Tho it's written in Japanese the pictures get you by as what to do with each part. The Blodia's arms and torso can be detached and I'm wondering if they can be swapped with the parts for the Riot/mass production Blodia styles (jet/tank waist, power arm).
The Blodia stands 6.5 inches tall which puts it in scale, I think, with the Armored Core and Front Mission figures as well as deluxe sixed Transformers. Jin Saotome is often seen being lowered from the Blodia's hand so that should give you an idea of its size. I would have loved an 8" scale Blodia. Heck I would have been fine with a model kit. But Sen-ti-nel's was able to shove all the tiny moving parts into a 6" figure which really impresses. So what's the verdict? Well are you a Cyberbots/Jin Saotome fan? If so you track this figure down through heaven and hell because I seriously doubt Cyberbots will see any other merchandise. If you just like mecha it's neat to have but you're paying an import premium price for a property you're probably not familiar with. Our sponsor Big Bad Toy Store has the Blodia, Riot, limited 2player version, and Mass Production version. Wait, you mean Sen-ti-nel made FOUR Cyberbots related figures? Ok, they must be huge fans of the game. Fingers crossed and we may someday see a Jin Saotome figure somewhere. Figma, D-arts, are you listening?
Star Wars as I'm sure you're aware is a movie-turned-worldwide phenomenon that has ingrained itself within our culture. Virtually anyone living in an industrialized nation knows what a Lightsaber is or recognizes Darth Vader's glossy helmet. The merchandising, more specificity Star Wars toys has dwarfed the movie's revenue and we have had decades of 3 3/4" and 12" tall plastic figurines of our favorite characters. Well get ready because now we have The Black Series! These are six-inch scale figures that fit along side your Marvel Legends and DC Universe figures. I picked up the Sandtrooper because of the Stormtrooper's iconic look. How does he fare in this scale? One word: Amazingly.
Packaging isn't something I talk about often in my review but here it needs special mention because it is 100% collector friendly. The outer cardboard slips off to reveal the plastic tray in which everything can be removed and put back in to store. The rectangular box is the perfect size, easily stored, and looks great with its matte black sheen and orange graphics. It's a little taller than a Figuarts/Figma box and I would love to see this style of collector friendly continue.
One thing that struck me about the packaging is that there's just a quick bio of the figure on the back and NO ADDITIONAL FIGURE ASSORTMENT PICTURES. This has to be a first! Every other Star Wars package has the back filled with 'ads' for their other figures, vehicles, or roleplay toys. Not this one. Overall it's very classy and does a great job of displaying the figure and its accessories.
Sculpting for the Star Wars Black Series Sandtrooper appears to be spot on perfect. The proportions look correct, the eyes set correctly. The hands, armor, everything looks just as how you remember a Sandtrooper appearing on the screen. Everything from the helmet down to his pointed toes looks authentic and full of detail. There's wrinkles in his black under suit and nicely sculpted pouches on either side of the belt. Tiny vent details on the helmet stand out as well.
Articulation for the Sandtrooper is a perfect super-articulated mix between GI Joe, Marvel Legends, and Star Wars. And I mean perfect. He has a double ball jointed neck, ball shoulders, bicep swivels, double elbows, hinged wrists (up down for right, side to side for left ala GI Joe hands) an amazing ball jointed ab crunch, new ML style ball hips with the upper thigh cut, double knees, and ball/side-step ankles! This means you can put the Sandtrooper into any conceivable position. Sitting with legs crossed, hands on hips, even prone aiming his gun. The range with tilt you can get out of the neck is amazing too.
Paint apps for the Sandtrooper are consistent with zero slop, well unless you count the weathering. All the black, mask details, and other detailing is cleanly applied. He even has glossy black eyes that look like lenses! The weathering however is reversed. Instead of a wash being applied as tho sand has been blown and stuck in the pits of his armor China gave him a wipe of tan as if he's rubbed up against something dirty. This works tho because you still have definition and the sand weathering is two tone, part red clay and part tan.
Ditch the Sandtrooper's shoulder pad accessory and you have a dirty Stormtrooper! But the accessories he comes with are plentiful and perfectly done. A backpack plugs on with a clip for the shoulder covered by some pouches, a nice touch. You get a regular blaster pistol, rifle, and heavy blaster, all of which can be fitted into various gaps of his backpack to store for those long desert patrols. There's various pant apps on the two larger weapons like silver weathering and brass/grey details too. Now this is what I want to see for a figure's accessories!
So what's the verdict here on the first six-inch offering of Star Wars figures? I love the Sandtrooper and can see people army building this guy and his eventual Stormtrooper buddies. You may see a lot of negativity on the web about the Black Series but it's mainly from elitists that wanted to see 3A get the license. We all knew Hasbro would never give up a 6" scale for Star Wars and people will just have to get over it. The Sandtrooper is a solid, well made, and incredibly detailed figure that comes with a ton of accessories in a collector friendly package! Why pay $40+ for a Figma or Figuarts when you can have this guy at half the price? Sandtrooper and the rest of the Black Series can be snagged at our sponsor Big Bad Toy Store or on Amazon with free shipping. The 6" Black Series will also be available at Toys R Us, Walmart, and Target, but have instantly sold out he moment they hit the shelf. Hasbro appears to have another hit on their hands and hopefully this will help bring the 6" scale back onto the pegs.
When Aliens threaten to overrun the galaxy who's there to stop them? The Colonial Marines, that's who! Straight from the movie Aliens comes Corporal Dwayne Hicks (played by Michael Biehn) and NECA has given both him and Hudson (Bill Paxton) the action figure treatment. Here we'll be taking a look at Hicks today and how he matches up against the Alien Xenomorph Warrior we reviewed a few posts back.
Sculpting for Hicks is spot on. From the gear, armor, pant pleats, right down to his boots. The headsculpt is a younger Michael Biehn and way more recognizable than the Kyle Reese sculpt that came out in NECA's Terminator line. There's all sorts of sculpted texture on his pants and his arms even have hair on them! Hicks' armor is multi-piece and while glued together looks great without hindering his articulation. His kneepads are even separate being strapped on from the back.
Hick's articulation is AMAZING. If you thought Dutch from the Predator series was articulated for a military-style figure wait till you get a load of Hicks. Right away you'll notice he has double jointed knees that allows him to kneel down for a defensive position. everything is ball jointed, everything has extremly good range of motion, and most of the joints are very effectively hidden from view. Hicks can aim his pulse rifle or shotgun any way he chooses and look great doing so. His toes and wrists are also hinged.
Paint ops are top notch here and coming from NECA that's no surprise. Hicks' camouflage patter in remarkably well done with proper overlapping shades instead of the usual mess when camo is applied to a figure's sculpt. His skin has a grimy look to it and his armor/uniform has a dirty look as if he's been crawling around an Alien hive all day. Hicks' bicep sports his tattoo which is readable as is the wording all over his armor taken straight from the movie. That's some pretty nifty detail right there.
Hicks sports some impressive accessories as well. He comes with the all important, iconic M14A Pulse Rifle with it's rubbery strap perfect for draping over his shoulder. Should that fail he has his 'close encounters' shotgun which comes in its very own back sheath. Wait, a door needs to be welded shut! There's also a tiny welding torch that can be detached from Hicks' belt! All the accessories look great and the Pulse Rifle even has realistic weathering and silver scuffing.
So what's the verdict here? Hicks is an outstanding representation of a Colonial Marine and you'll need him on your team as NECA is collecting licenses for other cast members along with a few surprise Marines. All those accessories, awesome articulation, and spot on paint apps for UNDER $20 makes NECA's offerings like this one a beacon of hope in an a market of ever increasing prices and decreasing quality. You can snag Hicks, Hudson, and the Alien Warrior at out Sponsor Big Bad Toy Store or on Amazon usually with free shipping.
With Superman the Man of Steel movie climbing higher on the charts the first series of 6" Movie Masters figures are beginning to disappear from the pegs. Fortunately there's a new wave to restock that contains an older General Zod in Kryptonian Armor and his right hand lady, Faora. How do these figures match up with current and past offerings? Let's take the review train to Krypton!
Sculpting for Zod is pretty impressive. The headsculpt appears to be an older version with a beard this go around but what really sets him apart from the first version is the incredible armor. Its overlapping scales are detailed and tech-looking with just the slightest hint of a 'Aliens' in the design. Zod's black undersuit where it shows through the armor has the same micro-texture as the rest. The helmet Zod comes with looks fearsome, like an organic breather unit and I swear the face took cues from a Storm Trooper if I look close enough. A great tattered cape rounds out Zod's look.
Faora's sculpting is equally as detailed with nice armored sections, tho less of them, and gives her a Medieval look with the shoulderpads and elbow armor. More of her undersuit is showing and there's lots of micro-detail on that. This doesn't appear to be her combat armor as the clips from the film show her with shoulderpads that are the same size. Faora's face sculpt is pleasant to look at with strong features, tho with certain paint apps missing it looks more like the actor without her makeup on. Her cape is more textured than Zod's and looks great draped behind her. Faora has a non-removable blade on her left him as well.
Paint apps for Zod consist of his armor molded in black with silver drybrushing over the edges to give it a worn appearance. His helmet is the same way with the top fading to clear. I would have liked to see more highlights on his lower arms and legs but perhaps that's the way its suppose to look. Faora Has more color to her with lots of bronze highlights and an airbrushed cape as well as Zod. But she's just woken up and forgot to put on her black eye-liner and blue contacts. Without this distinct look there's definitely something missing about her wearing the armor and being Faora.
The articulation for these figures varies with high and low points. Zod has now standard Movie-Master articulation missing ankle rockers and an ab crunch, only having a cut waist now. His armored skirt gets in the way of his leg articulation and only allows him a 20 deg range of motion unless you feel like cutting the straps/plates away that sit in front of his thighs. Zod's shoulder pads are part of his arm so there's no hindrance when raising his arms. He even has separate trigger fingers indicating that he may have been styled to hold a weapon at some point. Faora fares much better in articulation range except that her shoulderpads are part of her torso, tho they are flexible and don't stop her arms from moving up very much.
Accessories are scarce once again here. Zod comes with his neat removable helmet and base, Faora only coming with her base. She has a sculpted knife on his left side but can't wield it. With clenched fists it wouldn't do her much good anyway. You'd think with her knife play being part of her character she'd have something to hold. Some of the other Movie Masters come with things like shackles or a prop-like Kryptonian command key.
So what's the deal with these two galactic fugitives? They're pretty neat armored figures especially Zod with his Vader-esq appearance. A little paint on Faora's face would go a long way and a good customizer can fix her right up. Our sponsor Big Bad Toy Store has them all for preorder (or perhaps in stock by the time you read this) and Amazon is also an easy way of snagging them. They can also be found in stores but keep selling out as the Movie Masters series is the only decent line of Man of Steel figures out there for retail.