Monday, January 30, 2012

Blackheart #160, Classic Marvel Figurine Collection Review

Remember those little lead miniatures that came with D&D sets? You had to paint them yourself and they were TINY. If so then you're already familiar with the concept of lead figurines. A company in England called Eaglemoss International makes a line called The Classic Marvel Figurine Collection. They're hand-painted statues of your favorite Marvel characters that come bagged with a magazine that covers the history of that particular character.

Here we have Blackheart #160 in the set. He's made of lead and there's a warning right on the bag. Lead is bad for you if you ingest it so don't chew on the figure. Since the lead is covered in paint it's not that much of an issue because these aren't children's toys, they're collectibles. Each one is individually numbered on the bottom and have felt bases. Blackheart is pretty heavy and comes in a plastic clamshell that fits inside a box.

His sculpt is really detailed with all sorts of musculature, textured skin, and individual spines that stick out of his head. This is the monsterous form of Blackheart and the pose looks great, him walking forward towards his next victim. The face (or lack of) looks creepy with two large eyes and a covered, stretched mouth. The claws could have been a bit pointier like his spines but overall he looks great. Speaking of the spines, watch out, they bend really easy.

Each figurine is hand painted and it shows. Here there's not a whole lot of colors but you can see the deep body shading and grey highlights. His eyes are a vibrant red and cleanly done. The small Marvel logo at the bottom has a wash to it and completes the statue image. He's just short of being Marvel Universe size and there's no real scale because somtimes taller characters are shortened to 3" and vice versa.

Obviously there's no articulation here since Blackheart is a lead miniature and is meant for display. The full-color magazine included is equally awesome, 15 pages of Blackheart's character history complete all of his appearances, characters fought, and tons of information. The way they're bagged together tho means the comic is usually dented/bent over a little where the box has been pressing up against it during shipment.

So what's the verdict? At around $14 you get a hand painted, imported from England, individually numbered (runs of 10,000 I think?) figurine with a character specific magazine. That's really good when you think about what normal collectibles or mini-statues go for. Blackheart is really well sculpted and painted but you should see the other figures! Some like Man Thing are downright amazing and Galactus is oversized and weighs a ton. Our sponsor Big Bad Toy Store has him in stock along with many others. Be aware that some of the past figures are hard to come buy and you'll end up having to use Amazon or Ebay to locate them. Also remember these are made of lead, not plastic, and you'll want to be careful handling them.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Deadpool Bust Bank by Monogram Products

In the midst of all the Iron Man, Wolverine, and Spiderman collectibles I found something I never expected to find in a million years sitting right there on the shelf. A Deadpool bank. You see when it comes to superhero banks companies like Marvel or DC bet on the big names. The ones with movies, a cartoon, or a video game. It will be a character a child would have seen and begged his mother for a toy of or put on a Halloween costume of. NOT Deadpool.

But here it is, a bust of everyone's favorite merc-with-a-mouth. This bank is a bust of him that stands 7" tall and is made of hollow, rotocast plastic for the most part. His swords and guns are individually sculpted from harder plastic and permanently glued on. This gives them a much more detailed look than if they were part of the same body sculpt and they stand out great.

Speaking of the sculpt, Deadpool's is immaculate. From muscles, veins, creases, and belt pouches, its all there. His face is really well done and I wouldn't be surprised if someone used it for a 12" custom. Admittedly the sculpt is a bit soft in certain joining areas being a child's toy bank and needing to be one hollow section to hold money but IT'S A DEADPOOL BANK. Do you understand what I'm saying?

This isn't a character a child would normally read comics about. He's violent, crazy, and shoots people for fun. But now any kid can drop their loose change in the slot located on his back to save up for their own katana. There's no articulation but that's a given when it comes to busts. The paint is fairly cleanly done, tho I would have liked to see his belt pouches painted brown or black. Grab your brush and get to it.

LOOK AT IT. THIS IS A DEADPOOL BANK. How many times do I need to say it? My entire review could just be that one sentence and it would explain everything you need to know. But to recap it's a 7" tall hollow, rotocast vinyl bank. Drop coins in his back. Turn the plug to take them out. What's the verdict? BUY THE DANG THING. You don't see Deadpool merchandise anywhere! It's got a great sculpt, nice paint apps, and it's DEADPOOL. Head over to our sponsor Big Bad Toy Store to preorder it or head over to Amazon to snag one. If you're lucky you can find it at Toys R Us but every one I've been to they've instantly sold out of it. Yeah, it's a Deadpool bank folks. And it's about time!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Thundercats Cheetara by Bandai figure review

Thunder, Thunder, Thundercats ho! You all saw that coming. And what's already arrived in stores is the newest assortment of Thundercats featuring some of the current animated characters. Cheetara is the focus of this review. She's Marvel Legends scaled at six inches (a bit shorter as most women in the line are) and can be found alongside a new 6" classics Mum Ra and Lion-O. I believe the current Tigra is in this assortment too but didn't see him in the case. He is pictured on the back of the package.

Cheetara's sculpt is great with a very athletic look to her. The collar, torn shoulder sleeves, and bangles really make her look unique. The hair is nicely sculpted and her clawed toes look like they could do some damage. Then you get to the big black pins and shoulder discs. Bandai said they were looking into changing these but I guess that didn't happen yet. They really detract from the overall look but I guess we should be thankful they're not shiny metal rivets anymore.

The paint apps on the figure are spot on with hardly any slop. Speaking of spots she has darker colored ones on her shoulders and hair which are accurately placed but could be a lot darker as they get lost against her skin color. The gold on her bangles is shiny and the Thundercats emblem under her breasts is crisp. The pouch behind her back is even colored and so are her little kneecap decorations.

Now for the problem. While the facial paint is applied great the eye tampograph was set too small. There's extra space on her pink eyeliner-mask where the black edges should be but were squeezed to fit inside the actual eye sculpt, not around it. This makes her head look tiny and after matching it up against the picture on the back and the show art I can see ta huge difference. This could be a make-or-break thing for some as the eyes are the window to the soul and all.

Articulation is a mixed bag this time around. First the good, she has excellent ankle rockers and range of movement there. Her wrists are ball jointed and while they pop off easily are very good for holding her staff. That being said SHE IS MISSING BICEP CUTS. The other figures have them. She simply can't wield her staff in that may ways due to this. Her collar and hair sculpt have her neck joint reduced to a swivel and she's looking down at an angle because of this. You'll need to heat the hair up and bend it back a bit, freezing it in place with cold water to fix this.

Cheetara's hips also bump against her waist and don't get into a 90 deg angle, her waist joint only being a cut when it could have easily been a ball joint and given her so much more range of motion. The lack of double joints like the other figures have is also puzzling but doesn't affect her range, what's there anyway. She comes with one accessory, her staff. It's nicely detailed and even has the magic emblem on it, tho very hard to see as there's no paint to bring it out.

The verdict here? Eh...for $15 you could do a lot better but could also do a lot worse. I know many people are looking forward to this figure and with some customizing work she could be nearly perfect. But at the price you're paying Bandai really needs to ramp up their articulation and get rid of those terrible black pegs. Our Sponsors Past Generation Toys should have her soon and so should Big Bad Toy Store. You can always hunt her down at retail but be prepared to pay a dollar or two more at Toys R Us.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Big Bad Toy Store's GI Joe "Dreadnoks" Exclusive battle Set review

Here we have part 2 of BBTS' exclusive GI Joe sets, the Dreadnoks Battle Set. Like the Slaughter's Marauders set in the last review you get 7 figures but this time they're all new characters to the lines with no repeats. Zanzibar, Burn Out, Clyde "Gnaw" Hyde, Road Pig, Thunder, Zandar, and Zanya have never had modern figures made as of yet. They all however are original Dreadnoks members tho Thunder's name use to be Thrasher and Clyde was Gnawgahyde, name changes usually being copyright cases. Either way you get 7 brand new figures.

Sculpting on all of these are top notch and it really shows in the brand new headsculpts. From Road Pig's scowl to Zanzibar's facial scars, every detail can be seen. Zanya, Zartan's daughter has an excellent sculpted head of dreads as does Burn Out. Dreadlocks are often very hard to capture sculpt-wise and here we see them in minute 1:18 scale done right. The bodies while re-uses are matched perfectly and have great sculpted detail.

Articulation is the same across each figure with no major surprises. All the Dreadnoks have the same range of motion and points of articulation. While there are no hinged wrists here there's also no weird knees. Each character can pose just about any way you'd need them to in battle or stealing someone's vehicle. Some characters have long gloves that turn fully while others turn at the wrist. These variations in articulation add a little extra touch to the characters that have them like Thunder and Zanya.

As mentioned earlier each body is a mix of re-used parts but were picked perfectly by Hasbro to represent the character. The battle-cut Storm Shadow body was used for Zanzibar where so the cuts match his facial scars. Zandar's upper arms are Zartan's, fitting as he's his brother. Re-uses like this save Hasbro on tooling costs keeping the cost of figures down while giving us a brand new character.

Paint apps are top notch in this set and there's a lot of detail on the accessories/removable clothing as well. Zanzibar and Road Pig have detailed arm tattoos, the fur on Clyde's vest is highlighted, and every piercing on Zanya's face are painted on along with some great fishnet arm stocking design. The color choices for Zandar may seem a bit on the pastel side but that's how the vintage character looked, tho his scarf is huge this time around.

The character backstories on the back of the box are well written and informative. This reveals that nobody really likes Road Pig that much and Clyde likes to cover himself in rancid hog fat. To keep his scent hidden while poaching of course. You get seven stands included in the box and the figures are easily removed. Their weapons may give you trouble as some are tiny and taped in well.

Speaking of weapons the assortment in this set is amazing. Burn Out's flamethrower gear and sawed off shotgun, Zanzibar's flintlock and cutlass, to Road Pig's Brick hammer are all sculpted and painted great. Road Pig's brick is so well detailed it could pass as the real thing and the removable clothing that characters like he and Thunder wear have cool metallic scuffing. Clyde has a removable back knife and Zanzibar can stow three of his weapons on his person in various holsters and sheathes. This is always a bonus.

So what's the verdict? This set is even cooler than the Marauders one. You get 7 brand new figures all with a ton of great accessories, nicely painted and articulated for only $49. You have to order them from Big Bad Toy Store directly because they're an exclusive set but at this price you're paying less than retail for each figure. My favorite of this set is Road Pig. Everyone I knew owned him as a kid and his cinder block hammer was iconic for the character. So head over to BBTS and get your set while they're still in stock because popular characters like Zander, Zanzibar, and Road Pig will have it sold out quickly.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Big Bad Toy Store's Exclusive GI Joe "Slaughter's Marauders" Battle Set Review

GI Joe is a military staple in action figures and has been since its creation. The smaller 3 3/4" figures have an assortment of vehicles and bases which the 12" ones couldn't justify for a decent price. Today I cover Big Bad Toy Store's exclusive battle set of Slaughter's Marauders. This review is going to be longer than others because the set contains 7 figures, some characters you have and some brand new to the line. I will also be doing part 2 of the review later which covers BBTS' Dreadnok's battle set.

The sculpts on these figures is amazing. How Hasbro manages to pack so much detail into under 4" is great and the faces really bring the characters to life. Felix "Mercenary" Stratton is an ex-Cobra Viper and you can tell he's wearing a partial uniform. His serious face looks like he's seen it all and he has tiny sculpted earrings. Felix also sports an anti-Cobra tattoo which is clean and crisp. He's one of the new characters as only Spirit, Barbecue, and Low Light appeared as part of the original toy team.

Articulation for these figures is excellent. Ball heads, arms, and legs, allow just about any posing position you can think of. Some characters like Low Light and Barbecue have hinged wrists allowing them to angle their weapons in a new way. Basically if you need them to get into a pose, each figure can do it. Bull's kneepads do seem to keep him in sort of a bent-leg position but not too badly.

Each character is a mix of parts from other figures from earlier sets. Hasbro made excellent choices here as the parts match up perfectly for each character. Some keen-eyed folks will notice Red Dog's torso as Bazooka's and Falcon's lower legs from the earlier Resolute Duke. This saves on tooling and gives us unique figures each time. Hey, it's just like customizing your own Joes. The heads on the four new team members are all new sculpts however, nice!

Everyone gets a nice amount of accessories in this set. Most figures come with 2-3 weapons and a blade. Neat features include Falcon's removable beret, Bull and Merc's removable knives, and Spirit's removable arrow clip from his gun. Each of their vests or web-gear can be moved or repositioned as well. Bull comes with some great accessories, a joe-scale football and removable necklace/headband that fit on him perfectly.

Speaking of the accessories you also get stands for each character and bio-cards you can cut out from the back of the window box the figures come in. Take care not to lose anything while unpacking the figures. Merc's pistol has a tiny removable silencer and Low Light's glasses come off. One hasty tug and these will vanish into your carpet so take the figures out carefully. Falcon's grenade launcher actually cocks in half and has a TINY flip up sight.

Paint apps are plentiful here with the exception of Falcone whose upper shirt looks like it's missing something. The character's eyes feature two tones of color instead of the classic black pupil on white. Now there's brown iris as well. Low Light's vest has a great shading wash to it and Barbecue's armor has sooty highlights and metallic scuffing. Spirit's chest tattoo is amazing and you can make out every edge of Red Dog's tribal tattoos.

Each character has their own backstory and traits. Bull's burly beard and twin pistols make him stand out and Merc's ex-Cobra Viper history is very apparent. You can tell Barbecue utilizes fire with his flamethrower, Spirit is an Indian tracker, and Red Dog use to be a football player. It's things like this that set the Marauder's set apart from others. You really get a feel for the characters here and will enjoy having Sgt Slaughter (assuming you have one from the SDCC already) leading them into battle.

So what's the verdict? Slaughter's Marauders Battle Set is an excellent addition to anyone's GI Joe collection. You get 7 figures, 4 of which are new characters to the line, a whole bunch of accessories, stands, and all for just $49.99. That means each figure is a buck under what you'd pay for them separately at retail, and these are exclusives. Being store exclusives you can only order them online from our sponsor Big Bad Toy Store so get cracking. If you miss out on these you'll be stuck paying twice as much on ebay or even more for them individually from sellers. And don't forget to check back tomorrow for part 2 of the review featuring the Dreadnoks Battle Set.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Spray, iGear Mini Warriors MW-01 action figure Review

While some 3rd Party companies focus on add-ons to existing figures, iGear is producing brand new complete action figures of our favorite Transformers. Spray here is of course Autobot Seaspray from the pocket-sized minibot G1 figures. He's the first of iGear's Mini Warrior line and stands 4" which is taller than Rager whom I reviewed earlier, but mainly because of his fan mounts. Head to head he's basically the same height.

Spray's articulation is loads of awesome. Everything is ball jointed including his waist and ankles. Tho his head is tiny you can move it easily and the props on his back spin. Every bit of him is sculpted nicely with tight edges and neat tech design. There's even a space on his chest to affix your own Autobot logo you can pick up at ReproLabels. He's molded in a sparkly matte plastic which doesn't shine like the rest of your Transformers but at least you can see the detail with the darker blue and solid white making him look far less knockoff-ish.

Spray is packed in a nice box similar to Rager and comes with his own sparkly hard plastic collector card and a tiny harpoon gun which unfortunately doesn't store in vehicle mode. No instructions are included but a bit of unfolding and extending his legs will transform him easily. The only paint are his eyes and windows on his feet which are crisp and clean. His face is a separate piece of plastic and unlike the G1version the faceplate isn't yellow, but all grey.

The altmode for Seaspray is a hovercraft type that's almost as big as a scout vehicle. It looks sleek and updated with all sorts of panels and window cuts on it. Unfortunately there are no wheels underneath so Spray can't roll anywhere, just sit. I would have loved to see spherical mouse-ball type wheels that would allow you to spin him like a real hovercraft but it wasn't in iGear's design.

So what's the verdict? He's more articulated and designed better than Rager, also appearing taller because of the back props. The matte plastic and lack of wheels is a bit disappointing but aren't a dealbreaker. I really like the range of articulation he has in all his limbs and the spinning props are nice. Keep in mind he's an unlicensed product of a licensed character so weigh that internally as you will. You can pick him up at our sponsor Big Bad Toy Store or wait till he's back in stock at iGear's web store. I'd suggest BBTS because it's based in the USA. iGear's store ships from Hong Kong so it will take a while to reach you.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Rager, iGear Mini Warriors MW-02 Review

Unless you've been under a rock for the last few years you're aware of 3rd party companies, specifically ones that deal in the Transformers fandom. Some offer add-on weapon kits, completely new headsculpts, and in iGear's case, completely new figures. He's called Rager but no mistake this character is the autobot Huffer. Normally I'm not a fan of mass-producing a licensed character. It would be like Universal copying Micky Mouse's design and calling him 'Mister Mousey'. I'm not sure why this is allowed here in the Transformers world but this was a free figure given to me to review so I don't feel like I've contributed to anything shady.

He's molded in a slightly sparkly yellow, blue, and silver plastic. The sparkle flecks are apparent in good lighting and hopefully he won't suffer from crumbly gold-plastic-syndrome as older figures do, degrading over time. His sculpt is well done with nice angles and a nice design to it. He's just over 3" tall which puts him under Scout class but over Legends class. Basically he was meant to mimic the pocket scale of the G1 figure.

Along with Rager you get a nice box with graphics, his bio, two pistols and included inside is a hard plastic sparkly collector's card with his tech-specs. Mine didn't come with instructions but he's simple to transform anyone can do it. Transformation is a breeze, just unfold some parts, turn his waist, flip his shoulders and you're done. The pistols are tiny and don't store on him in vehicle mode so you'll lose these in the carpet right away if you're not careful.

Rager's articulation is very good, ball joints everywhere, toes, a waist, but no thigh swivels. He can pose just about any way except cross one leg over another which isn't a big deal. His paint apps are clean but here's where we start going downhill. He's missing the silver on the hubcaps and black roof-lights. The G1 figure had both painted and if you're not even matching the character's color standards 25+ years ago then something is amiss.

Someone also forgot to topcoat Rager before molding him. Every bit of him is cast in matte plastic, not shiny like all other Transformers so while very sturdy with tight joints he feels and appears like a Biglots knock-off toy. His wheels turn, but don't spin freely. Almost all vehicle wheels spin freely around a metal axle. Here the pin head is on the inside of the leg and the rod glued inside the tire. Everything is tight and poor Rager won't roll anywhere.

Rager's head while ball-jointed is set so far back under his hood that you can't turn it without a toothpick or something thinner than your finger. I found this terribly annoying because the most important joint on a figure is the head/neck joint for personality and direction. So what's the verdict? Unless you're a die-hard fan of the minibots he's a pass. The dollar-store look, missing paint apps, lack of rolling wheels, and the fact you're buying an unlicensed product of a licensed character makes him kinda iffy. If you want him head over to our sponsor BBTS and snag him because he's already sold out at iGear's online store.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Lego Hero Factory Toxic Reapa Review

I'll be blunt and break it to you that I'm not a huge fan of lego. I much preferred the Construx building toys when I was a kid for their I-beam and panel designs that allowed you to use less pieces to build bases for my toys. But when Lego entered the action figure-esq market with Bionicle, then Hero Factory, I was impressed. Toxic Reapa is one of the baddies from series, well, I don't think they're actually numbered or marketed  series in that way.

Wait a second, why is Lego making Capri Sun drinks? Nope, that's the new packaging for this line. Gone are the containers and for this series you get a resealable, more eco-friendly pouch. It honestly doesn't matter to me but some of you may like the containment-pod-like packaging the others series came in. Here it's just discardable once you build the figure. It did seem to lower the cost however, these figures at $8.99 instead of $10.

Uh, there's no paint on the figure. With Lego there usually isn't and this is no surprise. Everything is molded in bright green or black plastic that looks nice and shiny. The hoses that run from his arms to his back tanks are clear with a green plastic stripe embedded in them. Same with the hand flames, a swirl of two plastics to make the effect pop. The eyes aren't light-piped this time which is a shame, the red would have looked neat glowing in the light like shown on the bag art.

Articulation gets five stars, Hero Factory figures finally have full range of motion because everything is ball-jointed. He's missing a waist joint but you won't even notice because of how well everything else moves. Crouching, leaping, arms crossed, head tilted, Toxic Reapa can do it all. Even his pecs and stomach armor plates adjust and you can get some great emotive poses from him.

Toxic Reapa's sculpt is, well, a Legoish skeletal being covered with armor like all the Bionicle/Hero Factory figures before him. The mask is really neat looking, almost Predator-like with the for mouth spikes. The teeth aren't symmetrical and there's cuts and dings in his forehead like he's been in battle. He stands a little under 6" tall but you can attach his head to the upper ball joint for a taller, less hunched-look.

What's the verdict on this toxic fellow? Well if you know Hero Factory you know what you're getting into. This is just a fun, posable, nifty looking figure. Our sponsor Big Bad Toy Store has him (or will have him) and you can find this series anywhere Lego is sold. There's some other neat looking characters in the set, especially a half red, half black larger fellow. Keep an eye out.

DC Direct Flashpoint Cyborg Review

DC Direct is know for it's ability to pump out a lot of different characters sculpted in a particular artist's style very quickly, usually right after a series has hit the newsstands. I'm not sure if this is the case since I haven't read any of the Flashpoint arc but Cyborg is looking pretty spiffy in his new duds. There's three other characters in the line, all with different looks than their classic ones. Batman, The Flash, and Wonder Woman.

Cyborg looks really, really nice. His armored body is perhaps one of the nicer sculpts I've seen with all sorts of panel detail, portholes, and overlapping plates. His facial sculpt is by far one of the better Cyborg likenesses I've seen. His arm blaster is really well done and there's a red grating inside the barrel. Some bulky shoulderpads adorn his shoulders and his oversized feet remind me of, well, Megaman. Probably why I bought a few to customize with.

Now let's address the elephant in the room. This will sound like a gripe and by all means it really is. Cyborg's articulation is virtually non-existent. His ball shoulders barely move because of the hard plastic shoulderpads. He has no waist joint. His hips are T-joints and the leg raises up maybe 30 deg. The pic left is the maximum range of movement he has. Only his head is decently articulated and it's kinda stuck hunched over.

Paint apps fare quite a bit better and are the saving grace here. As a statue he looks excellent. The silver is a deep metallic with a wash and shading blended in. The red ports are bright, the black suit parts matte, and they gave his lips and eyes a gloss that adds an extra bit of realism. If only DC Universe figures were painted like this. The only color molded in plastic is his skin tone and that's how it should be.

So what's the verdict? He's a 6" tall robot brick that looks cool. Honestly, DC Direct could make amazing figures if they just took the time to add a few more moving bits. But they still maintain they're 'collector oriented' and don't realize collectors pose their figures too. It's a real shame because this figure fits in with so many different playstyles, a half-man half-machine. Pick him up at our sponsor BBTS and customize some joints into him, make the shoulderpads move up and down. Or take him apart for customs. I of course did the latter.