Friday, February 24, 2012

Transformers Prime Deluxe Cliffjumper (Robots in Disguise)

To start off this review let me explain something about the Prime line. It's actually two lines. One is called "First Edition" and the other "Robots in Disguise". The First Edition was cancelled in the USA after we got Arcee, Bumblebee, and Starscream. But it continued in the UK/Asia and there's another version of Cliffjumper with a whole different sculpt. Confused? You're not alone. Having seen both I'll try to be as unbiased as I can in this review. Many people aren't and have left this figure to rot on the pegs in protest.

RID Cliffjumper's sculpt is quite decent from the front. He's a stocky bot with both rounded and squared body sections which looks pretty neat. It's only when you turn him to the side do you see the incredibly large gaps in his arms. They're folding-hollow parts like the 1st movie Jazz and look pretty bad. Another oddity two extra tires on his thighs. They're solid sculpts and you can still see his real tires right next to them. Huh? I guess it's his spares or something. I love Cliff's faces culpt, done in a snarling expression. His hands are really nice looking as well.

Cliff has a great ball jointed head, a waist, and wonderful leg articulation. Since his lower legs fold up for transformation he can get down on one knee or squat. His hands are on a ball joint but they only move side to side, kind of a waste there. The elbow joint is so high up it really doesn't do a lot for range of motion and it's angled instead of a straight elbow. Still not terrible. Most of his joints seem to be given to his folding roof and trunk panels on his back, 7 in all which seems to be fairly unnecessary as even the horns fold up for no reason.

Paint is clean and crisp with no slop. He's primarily molded in red and silver plastic. The details on his face, chest, and feet are a nice touch tho there are a lot of missing paint apps if you compare it to First Edition figures which people will. Cliffjumper comes with a hammer-gun that he can hold or mount to the roof or right side of his vehicle. I like the mace-like look of it.

Transformation is a bit of a letdown. His folding arms don't peg together anywhere, they sort of clip on to the lower part. This got loose after three transformations and will certainly scratch any paint off the hood area if someone was to customize him. The window panels stick out and fall off if folded in too far. It's almost like they wanted to make them fold into the arm but couldn't figure out how.

It should be noted that Cliff suffers from fake-transformation syndrome. His chest which should really be his hood is just a false sculpt that hides in alt mode as with those spare tires on his hips. His roof/trunk just folds up and hangs poorly off his back. The First Edition Cliffjumper's alt mode is smaller than this one and yet the figure is taller. This is because all the alt-mode parts transform into robot parts. Here a lot of transformation is wasted and simplified so you get a larger alt mode and a smaller figure with less articulation. However the vehicle does look like a nice muscle car with sleek styling.

The verdict? He's not a terrible figure but after seeing the FE figures (and not owning the rest) Hasbro has taken a step backwards here. It's like they showed us amazing engineering that could be applied to every future transformer from any series, then decided to release these simple molds instead. The excuse "Retailers didn't order enough of the First Edition series" doesn't fly because they could have just packaged the FE molds under this Robots in Disguise line. Why take the time and money to construct lesser quality molds of the same characters? Our sponsor Big Bad Toy Store has him in stock but you may want to spend the extra cash for a First Edition version. The choice is up to you of course.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Transformers Prime (Robots in Disguise) Wheeljack figure review

The show Transformers Prime has people either loving it or hating it. But no matter how Transformers fans disagree about the show we all can agree on one thing: we got some neat toys out of it. From the first official release of the main line (called Robots in Disguise by some retailers oddly enough) comes none other than Wheeljack. He's less of a scientist and more of a samurai/swordsman this time but it works for the Prime universe.

Wheeljack's sculpt is nicely done having a stocky appearance as his shoulders protrude higher than his head. While he's solid all the way around there's less finesse in the way his body segments match up than what we saw with the First Editions. The forearms look a little thin but it's nothing major. His head sculpt is a thing of beauty with a stern look. His ball jointed hands are large, detailed, and would look great on a voyager custom. They have ball posts on the end and remove easily too, perfect fodder parts.

Articulation in the legs is great with full sitting motion and ball ankles. He has no waist but doesn't suffer any from it. Wheel's ball jointed head can look almost straight up. It's only when we get to the arms that we run into problems. Wheeljack has fold-down arms that lack a bicep joint, but partially make up for that with a pivot shoulder. This means he can only cross his arms if his shoulders are at maximum angle and doesn't have full 90 deg elbow unless the upper joint is moved too. For a bot that uses swords, arm articulation should have been a priority.

Wheeljack's bright white, solid plastic is much better than the white plastic of other Transformers like Jazz or Drift. Paint app are crisp and well applied. Transformation is simple but interesting. His dual-hinged upper torso joint works great to raise/hide his head. The legs rotate, drop down, and the lower sections spin to lock in well. But when all is said and done he's missing all the points of motion/separate sections held together by metal pins that Arcee, Starscream, and the other First Editions have. It's almost like they came from two separate lines.

Wheeljack stands just a bit shorter than normal Deluxes but fakes height with his back fins. These only spin to open into a 'V' and aren't posable up or down. He comes with two swords which can be plugged into his alt mode under the bumper, stored underneath, on his back, or pegged on the car sides. They're nicely sculpted and work well for his overall design. However the front card art shows him with his arm-cannon out like Cliffjumper but neither figures have them. Only first edition Cliffjumper has swing-out blasters.

Alt mode is a seek sports car and tabs together sturdily. That's partially because of the fold-up arms that have no swivels lock in tightly against his body. The overall design of the car is great but without the swords in the front there are two blocky gaps under the front end that look a little out of place. The rear end of the car is missing where a bumper/lower trunk would be, instead just his folded shoulders sitting there out in the open. Huh, maybe he lost that in battle.

So what's the verdict? Wheeljack is a nice transformer, make no mistake. He's similar to a Universe or Generations. But when matched up against his First Edition friends he unfortunately falls short in design and articulation. He has nowhere near the number of parts or moving sections the others do. Wheeljack makes for a great swordsman-bot and the lack of all those moving parts means he would be easy to paint up for a custom ninja type character. Our sponsor Big Bad Toy Store has him in stock and he can be found everywhere that sells Transformers, tho he's being snatched up quick.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Marvel Legends 2012 Thor, Hope Summers, Terrax action figure review

Welcome back to part three of the Marvel Legends 2012 figure review. Thor and Hope Summers are the last two figures in the assortment but we can't forget the Build-a-Figure Terrax. If you collect six figures (Thor doesn't come with a piece as he was already released as a SDCC 2011 exclusive) you can build Galactus' herald the mighty Terrax. There are variants of Steve Rogers, Ghost Rider, and Iron Man you can keep an eye out for too.

The sculpt on Thor is excellent, plenty of scale mail sections, creases, folds, and a serious headsculpt as if the god of thunder has just witnessed someone kicking a puppy. His cape has a nice texture to it and doesn't get in the way. One small complaint may be that the lower double joint of the knee leaves a fairly big gap, separating from the knee armor when its bent. But it's not very noticeable and you can just bend the upper knee part more.

Thor's paint is nicely done. His SDCC version had lightning deco and this is the normal look. There's lighter blue airbrushed highlights, a great metallic blue wipe to his armor, and his eyes are amazingly realistic with multiple levels of detail in them. Everything is crisp and clean too. Even his boot straps have weathering on them. One neat thing to touch on is the strap on Thor's right side. It can be unplugged to store Mjolnir on his hip. A nice touch!

Articulation for Thor and Hope Summers is great. Thor can pose just about any way you wish and has a great ball jointed torso. His waist covering doesn't hinder his leg movement very much at all. Hope's articulation is the same as Sharon Carter/Black Widow and remains one of the best female body types out right now. Neither figure has ankle rockers but Hasbro will address that in series 2. This excellent articulation harkens back to the ToyBiz days without overdoing it.

Thor comes with his hammer Mjolnir which is very nicely painted with all sorts of weathering on the stone. Hope comes with a larger Cable-style laser rifle that we saw with the Forge/Wolvie 2-pack. It fits nicely in her hand for being so large. Hope's wrist guards and cape are removable which is a nice touch and are equally detailed up. I'm impressed with Hope's headsculpt, thoughtful yet still pretty unlike many of the female sculpts before her.

Now for the build-a-figure, Terrax. He's tall, a good 8" in stature. His sculpt is completely new and like most of the figures in the line his armor is removable. This provides an excellent new base body that's larger than other figures and would make for a great Venom or Sabertooth base. Who know what BAF's we'll see from this in the future. All Terrax's armor is painted sharply and looks classic just like he appears in the comics.

Terrax's articulation is excellent. He's the only one in the set with ankle rockers and they're styled just like the new marvel Universe figures with an angled peg inside the foot that allows for nearly full motion. While his elbows are only single joints his knees are double and his wrists, neck, shoulders, hips, etc are the style of universal/ball joints we expect. Add an ab-crunch and waist cut, Terrax can pose just about any way you need.

For accessories Terrax just comes with his cosmic axe but boy is it nice. It breaks down into two pieces and you can kinda store it on his back by tucking the spike into his back strap. Unfortunately Terrax can only hold his axe with one hand, but that's better that the prototype we saw with two clenched fists, yikes. Let's face it, you were waiting for a Terrax and this is the best we've ever had before.

So what's the verdict? This whole set is a total victory by Hasbro. They pulled out all the stops, gave us excellently articulated figures with great paint apps, and characters that aren't usually seen in figure form. My suggestion is to get the whole set and make Terrax but you can of course cherry pick your favorite people. Our sponsors Big Bad Toy Store have them in stock and you can grab them from Past Generation Toys soon.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Marvel Legends 2012 Constrictor, Klaw, Iron Man figure review

We're back with part 2 of my Marvel Legends 2012 review and here I cover Klaw, Constrictor, and Extremis Iron Man. All three of these characters saw Marvel Universe releases and now you get them in glorious 6" scale. I'm glad they included Klaw, being a somewhat B-villain in may people's eyes but still classic and deserving a release as he incited events leading T'Challa to become the Black Panther. Constrictor was last seen in the Siege arc I believe.

Klaw's body is a reuse of the Walmart exclusive Scarlet Spider with a new head/hands. It's a rather decent one and has nice range of motion but again no tilt ankles. His paint apps are very sharp and clean. However there's not a lot of them. He has no shading on his muscles just the black and purple designs. But his colors are nice and striking. His facial sculpt is great, open mouth screaming with a Dr-Doom style inner mouthplate that's perfectly painted. I was expecting not to like this character but he quickly grew on me.

Constrictor shares the Moon Knight body with new forearms, head, and lower legs. This is even a nicer articulated body than Klaw and features nearly hidden pec movement. His tentacles aren't bendy unfortunately but flexible enough to be wrapped around things. Like Klaw he has no shading on his body but instead has crisp, clean orange and black striped sections. It's interesting to note his lower legs are molded in an orange plastic that almost perfectly matches his painted orange.

The face sculpt on Constrictor is quite impressive, an evil grin full of individually painted teeth complete with fangs and inner red mouth. Again I'm impressed by the clean paint because lines like this could have easily been badly done as we've seen in the past. His sculpted forearms are the perfect look for lashing out with his tendrils. If you're looking close you can see he still has a belt line around his waist but it's not very noticeable. Another character I was 'meh' on at first but ended up loving to pose. It's not like you should pass him up either, both him and Klaw come with Terrax pieces.

Extremis Iron Man is a figure people have been waiting forever for. His sculpt is sleek with nice panel detailing, palm/foot repulsors, and looks like the Marvel Universe version just enlarged. His paint work is clean for the most part but I see where they had to do touch-ups on the gold part of his mask. His armor has a dark red wash and shiny clear red coating. The gold is bright and the eye/chest sections are an ivory color instead of just white which makes it look really unique. The head can also be removed and replaced with the Tony Stark head that came in the Toys R Us 2-pack.

IM's articulation is great with one exception. He has shoulder-hinged pads so he can raise his arms straight up, his head also able to look straight up for flight mode. IM's ball torso joint has amazing forward/back range too. The hip discs swivel up out of the way but his actual hip artic suffers, each leg only being able to raise to about a 30 deg angle like in the picture and not a 90 deg sitting one. Tho this can be remedied by taking an x-acto knife and carving away at the upper lip of plastic at his crotch-plate if you're careful.

None of the characters come with any accessories save for a "Tales of Terrax" story pamphlet and a piece to a Build-a-Figure Terrax who I'll cover in a later review. With the neat accessories Steve Rogers came with I would have expected to see an energy blast or two with Iron Man or prhaps a Klaw sound-blast. But even without them these figures are downright fun to pose and add to your 6" Marvel Legends collection.

What's the verdict? Well if you want to build Terrax you'll need them and honestly they're pretty nice. Klaw was a boss in the classic Avengers video game so there's some nostalgia value. All three bodies lend themselves to being perfect custom figure fodder having very base-body-sculpts. Our sponsors Big Bad Toy Store and Past Generation toys have these for preorder or you can wait until they pop up at local shops. But the way they're selling out so fast is an indication of how well this line was produced. Bravo Hasbro, bravo.

Marvel Legends 2012 Ghost Rider & Steve Rogers figure review

When it comes to action figures Toy Biz's Marvel Legends set the bar for the 6" standard we enjoy now. Now produced under Hasbro Marvel Legends enjoys a grand, triumphant return in 2012. It's a little confusing at first because in the upper corner of the card they say "Marvel Universe" and many retailers have them listed under that search. Then again it says "Marvel Legends" at the bottom. You may need to explain this when you call to ask whether they're in stock somewhere.

The card art and design are really sharp. It's almost like they used the artist who did the Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 ingame 'comic page' art. Each package is individualized for the character and on the back a quick description and splash page. Normally I don't cover packaging but this was an exception. It's a lot sturdier than the earlier cardstock/bubbles too, folded tabs and tape sealed on the back. You're also told what part of Terrax comes with the figure in a diagram on the side as per the norm.

Sculpting on Steve Rogers and Ghost Rider is top notch. Yes the bodies are partial re-uses. Cap's body is the Nick Fury 2-pack/Face off Punisher and Ghost Rider's is Ronin/Hand Ninja. But you get completely new heads, lower arms, and lower legs. All the bodies in this series are also some of the best ones to come out of Hasbro so there's no worry here.

The detail on GR's armor, skull, and blue flames is great. These figures borrow from the Marvel Universe design as well, their 'clothing' as you would being cast-off. You can unlatch GR's upper attire and heat the belt to get that off too if you wanted. Underneath are base bodies perfect for customizing. Steve's belt could be removed and his webgear, tho glued down, is still separate. Included with each figure is a "Tales of Terrax" pamphlet featuring his interaction with another Marvel character. It's a great little backstory bonus.

Articulation for Ghost Rider is pretty nice. If you have the Hand Ninja you know what to expect. Yes, series 1 here are missing the ankle rockers but Hasbro promised to include them on future assortments. That's really the only thing missing. Everything else is ball jointed or double jointed and works great. GR can't raise his arms straight up but that's because of his shoulder armor design. His skirt is soft plastic and doesn't hinder his legs movement at all.

Steve has some of the best artic/range of movement from the Nick Fury body and can achieve all sorts of aiming positions. His accessories are great as well, two pistols and his shield which can be stored on his back via a flip-down peg (like the smaller movie Caps) or attach to his wrist. Ghost Rider unfortunately has no accessories save for the Terrax part he comes with. I expected his chain but haven't read the current comic this version is based on so perhaps he doesn't use one anymore.

Paint apps are downright amazing this time around. From the fade-to-blue clear flame, the airbrushed blue aura on his armor, down to the hammered look of metal on it, Ghost Rider sports some serious paint work. Steve is also nicely done with dark blue airbrushed highlights, clean red/white decos, and even his hairline is shaded a different color. This marks some serious improvement from the 2-packs released last year. Some people mention Steve's head is a bit large. Not for his body, but compared to other characters heads yes. However the body stands a good head taller than most current ML figures and Cap was always a big boy. You won't even notice.

So what's the verdict? Buy these figures. If you're a fan of Marvel Legends then this is the return you've been waiting for. You get great articulated sculpts, great CLEAN paint apps, and removable parts if you want to customize them later. I'll be reviewing the rest of the figures in daily installments. There's variants of Cap, GR, and Iron Man. Head over to our sponsors Big Bad Toy Store or Past Generation Toys and pick up a set. Thor doesn't come with a piece of Terrax but you'll need Hope, Steve, Klaw, Ghostie, Iron man, and Constrictor to complete him.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Transformers Prime legion class Cliffjumper figure review

I won't deny I feel legion class (or legends class) is an unnecessary scale in the Transformers line. Scout class covers the smaller vehicles just fine. So when I see tiny, barely articulated Transformers for $6 or more I cringe. Imagine my surprise when I found the Transformers Prime legion class on the shelf...and one with a full set of ball jointed limbs. Cliffjumper is the focus of our review today and stands a diminutive 3" tall.

Yet within this small frame is housed 11 points of articulation. Cliff has ball jointed shoulders, elbows, hips, and feet. His knees are hinged which is almost never the case in legion class. In fact the other figures in this assortment don't even have moving elbows. Somehow Cliffjumper came out on top. He has sort of an ab crunch that can make him lean backwards and is part of his transformation. There's no head articulation because honestly it's far too tiny.

All this articulation works well allowing Cliffjumper to get into sitting, running, punching, just about any basic pose. Again, I don't know of any other legion/Legends class figure that can do this. Cliff comes with a clear red sword (or gun depending on what way it's facing) that he can hold a variety of different ways via the 4 pegs on it. It attaches to vehicle mode allowing you to drive him closer so he can hit them with his sword.

Vehicle mode is actually really well done and pegs together nicely. The little horns are painted and the overall paint work on Cliff is clean and sharp including the ultra-tiny Autobot logo on his chest. Transformation is more complex than other legion class but still easy enough, similar to most scout class vehicles. Shoulders down, legs together, fold his waist, and you can see where everything lines up nicely.

Getting back to articulation his ball jointed ankles and wide feet work great to get him into wide stances or running poses. He can almost cross his arms, at least pound his fists together in front of him. His packaging says "File card included" but it's actually just part of the cardboard side insert that you have to cut free. I would have liked to see an actual plastic card or something if they're going to advertise it that way.

So what's the verdict? For $5 you get a small, but highly articulated version of a Transformers Prime character you probably won't be able to find. Yeah, those First Edition deluxe Cliffjumpers are Canada/UK only right now. But if you need a small buddy for your iGear Rager or Spray, or perhaps you collect the Legion class, Cliffjumper is an excellent addition. You can pick up the Japanese version of him with more paint apps here at our sponsor Big Bad Toy Store or snag him at Target, Walmart, or anywhere Transformers are sold.