Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Transformers Fall of Cybertron Shockwave & Optimus Prime action figure review

The next big Transformers video game is "Fall of Cybertron" due out in August but you can snag the toys right now. Optimus Prime, Shockwave, and Jazz are the three deluxe figures available at retail release right now. Here we'll be covering the first two. Optimus has a substantially different look than his War for Cybertron form and this is the first somewhat-classic-looking Shockwave we've had in a while.

Sculpting for Optimus and Shockwave are done in a blocky, detailed format with plenty of panel lines and grating. Prime's headsculpt while small is very nicely done and Shockwave's is classic looking with neat finned ears and an overall classic look to his chest and upper body. The snap-on wheels that Prime has are starting to grown on me as you no longer need to use a soldering iron to remove metal pins if you have to get a wheel off tho I do wish they would add hubcaps to help hide the cuts. Shockwave's back fins can be rotated down or removed for a more classic appearance too.

Articulation for Optimus Prime is amazing. His head can look almost directly up, there's great range of motion in his elbows and knees because they fold up in alt mode, same for his amazing ball-jointed waist articulation. Only thing I could touch on is that his shoulders can't swivel out to the side fully with his arms raised. Shockwave is a bit stiffer but still has great range on his arms with three ball/swivel/hing joints in his elbow alone. He has no side-ankle movement but with such thin feet doesn't really need it. Shockwave only has a cut neck unfortunately. His hips move out so well he can do a full split!

Paint is solid across the board with no slop at all, mainly because there's not a lot of it. All sections are molded in color with just the details painted. Design for Optimus in alt mode looks a little stubby at first until you get use to it and reminds me more of the Titanium Cybertron Prime. Shockwave's alt mode is a space cannon/ship. I happen to like these space cruiser designs and you can spin his panels around for different looks. With some fiddling you may even be able to get a fan-mode gun out of him.

Transformation is EASY. WFC Prime aggravated me because of all the loose separate sections like his crotch piece that would fall apart and all the impossible-to-line-up panels. Not here. Optimus folds up and everything tabs into place in both modes perfectly. Sometimes simple is beautiful. Shockwave is a bit more complex with twists and turns to his arms but easily folds into ship mode. He has a spring-up head mechanic which is ok but seems to have negated the ball neck he could have used.

Prime's single accessory is his gun which can be pegged into various locations. Tho it shows his shoulder exhaust port is a plug I'd avoid it because it causes stress marks in the plastic when inserted. Shockwave has a 2-part cannon that he can hold or have replace either lower arm depending on your style. The silver end comes off to reveal a 3-barrel rifle which is pretty neat. It also stores on his back and is the alt-mode core.

So what's the verdict on these figures? I'm happy with them. Tho they do appear to be slightly smaller than previous years Deluxe offerings that's partially because of the small heads adding to that perspective. Optimus Prime's amazing articulation and finally owning an almost-classic Shockwave was enough to win me over here. Our sponsors Big Bad Toy Store has sets and singles as does Past Generation Toys and Amazon. Don't forget to preorder the Amazon G2 Fall of Cybertron Bruticus set when it comes back in stock for a mere $60 either!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Figma #133 Samus Aran, Metroid action figure review

Samus AranNintendo is known to be very selective with its licenses and nobody thought the day would come when we would have quality, articulated figures of the classic characters we grew up with on the screen. Well the time has come, Max Factory brings us Samus Aran of Metroid Other M in the Figma series. From the very first glimpse Samus is instantly recognizable in her orange/red/yellow armor peering through the plastic window back at you.

Samus' suit design is 'Other M' rather than the more recognizable Super Metroid/Prime everyone was expecting. However the sculpting is top notch with lots of great curves, panel lines, excellent proportions and detailed undersuit ribbing. The head looks great with the green inset metallic visor and you get five hands to choose from. Her right gun-arm is also great looking with two tips. The joints do look quite thin aesthetically speaking and leave a bit of a gap in the knees when bent. They're removable so an avid customizers could drill out the knee and elbow sections to install a more realistic looking arm-thickness joint.

Articulation is excellent with nearly full range of motion in her shoulders despite their large size. This is thanks in part to a two-branch ball joint system allowing them to move independently of Samus' actual arms. Her head is on a double ball joint which works great for looking around but not so much looking up due to the design. Her elbows and knees while single joint have the range of a double joint and her feet have toe and side-ankle motion. Overall I'm extremely impressed and can get Samus into some amazing poses.

Paint application is near-perfection level with no slop, perfectly cut colors, and smooth, even application of the metallic paint used on her suit. She's only done is base colors however and there are lots of panel lines that a customizer could darken in to bring out the detail in this figure even further. I really like how the green details stand out against her orange but the whole suit really needs a darker color separating its sections to keep Samus looking too basic.

Samus' accessories are plentiful. You get four alternate hands in various poses including a thumbs-up and the open/closed gun tips. Two blast effects are included tho one is just an extended version of the first. It was a missed opportunity to add a grappling beam or missile effect here and I'll just be leaving the shorter burst in the extras pile. Also included is the morph-ball form of Samus that can attach to the included stand. That stand is quite nice and features tight metal screw joints. A Figma branded baggie is included to hold all your parts and if you own a Figma stage the back of the package can be punched out to cover it with the Metroid logo.

Samus Aram FigmaBack to the joints, they're half-joints again but feel MUCH more durable than normal Figma joints. And trust me I've been sent enough broken Figmas to see how easy these can snap. But you don't have any of the give associated with thin plastic sections here. They also lock fairly firmly in their sockets unlike Revoltech joints that end up slipping out over time. The only exception are the alternate hands that have smooth posts. The clenched fist seems to want to fall out at the slightest touch now and you may need to rough the post up or apply a tiny layer of glue to build up if this happens to you.

So what's the verdict? This is an excellent figure! Samus is nearly 6" tall and good enough to be in scale with your Marvel Legends but not Halo. Though I wish Figma would use more paint techniques like panel lining or airbrushing for the price, you can't complain about that zero paint slop. Our sponsor Big Bad Toy Store had Samus in stock and when she's restocked I suggest snagging her. Your only other choice for US sellers is Amazon or Ebay which has her selling at a slightly lower price at this point. Link from the Legend of Zelda is up next and you'll want to get him if Samus' quality is any indication of what's in store!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Mortal Kombat Deluxe Shao Kahn, Jazwares action figure review

MORTAL KOMBAT!! That universally known phrase lets you know the bloodiest fight of the century is about to begin. The franchise changed video game fighters as we know it and Jazwares has the license to produce the characters. Today we look at Shao Kahn as he appears in Mortal Kombat 9. The packaging is very nice desgin, great graphics and a bio on the back. You are also teased with the other figure in the line everyone will want, Goro.

Sculpting for Shao is fairly detailed, a step up from your DC Universe figure but not quite yet at Marvel Legends texture. Standing at 7 inches tall his skull-faced helmet has great detail and so does his armor. The hands are a bit odd with the left one being scaled larger than the right for some reason giving the fingers a hot-dog look. Nice spikes and a flowing loincloth complete his He-man-esq look.

Articulation is plentiful with ball-n-cup joints for all the major articulation spots including wrists and ankles. There's a upper thigh cut that works great tho he won't be sitting on a throne any time soon due to the rather stiff loincloth. This means his hips need to angle out to the side to step. Shao Kahn has an ab crunch which pops apart to reveal empty holes for a ball post. Perhaps they were going to go with that before the change. Except for lack of ankle rockers he's nicely articulated.

Paint applications are a little iffy here. While his mask, armor trim, and overall uniform look great his spikes have slop and aren't painted all the way against the armor. Shao's detailed cat-eyes have a vicious look to them. There's a great tanned highlight to the head and upper body...but unfortunately is missing from the rest of his skin. The lower arms.legs are a completely different color than the main body looking like a reverse farmers-tan. Hopefully this will be corrected in future assortments as it's really noticeable here and looks as if the plastic has faded.

Shao Kahn comes with a large hammer as his accessory with a nicely tampoed Mortal Kombat symbol on it. He can hold it in either hand though his left hand is a bit tight due to the enlarged fingers. Paint work on the hammer is great and it's quite menacing looking to behold.

So what's the verdict? If you're wanting the ruler of Outworld for your collection he's pretty large and in charge. I'd take a close look at him in person to see if all his flesh is colored correctly tho. Jazwares had a great first series with Scorpion and Sub Zero, here they missed the mark on a few counts. An avid customizer could easily shave down the larger hand and repaint him however. Our sponsor Big Bad Toy Store has him for preorder as does Past Generation Toys including a special Shao Kahn with throne and arena.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Nickelodeon's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Basic: Leo, Raph, Mike, Don action figure review

I'm not ashamed to admit I grew up on Playmates' Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures. I had every single one.. and some that didn't even exist until I made them. Well it's 2012 and Playmates has brought back the four shell-heads in a brand new series. These are the 5" tall basic series and also have April, Shredder, Splinter, Krang, and a Foot Soldier in the assortment.

Sculpting is NICE. I mean really nice. I mean NO-RE-USE-PARTS nice. Each of the four TMNT turtles have different skin textures, different hands, arms, and feet. They have different toe-prints! Don's are swirly while Leo's are leathery. Mike's shell is smaller than the others, the front of Don's shell is taller and wider than Leo's and even the forearm sections are unique. The gauze wrap has a different texture for each turtle and their pads are all scuffed differently, believe me I checked.

2012 TMNT figureWith this level of detail I was shocked to see "Playmates Toys" on the package. Playmates has just set the bar for 'kids toys' which these are of course aimed at. The facial expressions on the brothers are excellent. Michelangelo's gin, Raphael's grimace, Leo's cocky sneer,  and Donatello's stoic faces are just perfect for each one. Yes, they have three toes. You will quickly forget this however and an avid customizer could easily Apoxie-sculpt the two together.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2012Articulation is far beyond what I was expecting. These guys have amazing ball jointed heads that can tilt in any direction for great expressive poses. Ball shoulders/elbows/knees, and swivel wrists. The hips aren't truly ball but move up and turn like the Gargan Venom figure so they can sit or run. It works just fine for ball-style hip range however. These are similar to the ball-in-cup Marvel legends style and work the same way. The 'groin' part of the front shell is a floating piece that moves so they can get into a sitting pose. The range on the elbows and knees can be tweaked by removing some pad-strap-plastic inside the elbow or just heating them up so they can get a full 90 deg.

Paint application is really nicely done. Each skin color is molded in color and uses a nice matte plastic. The bandanas, eyes, pads, and gauze are all painted with very little slop tho I did see a Leonardo on the pegs with white leaking on to his mask. Pick the best ones. The range of plastic colors here is really amazing as even their belt colors are slightly different.

Accessories abound in this series and are styled like the vintage TMNT figures, all attached to little sprues. Clip them free and you get a truly amazing assortment. Each turtle comes with their signature weapons but have alternate versions. Raph has half-sai, Don has a 3-piece bo staff, Leo a samurai sword, and Mike a chained kama. But they also get two throwing stars and secondary weapons. Leo has three great looking Kunai knives you'll want duplicates of.

Scale is a little under 5" tall but works for these figures as the turtles have always been short, stocky little guys. They look just fine against a Marvel legends 6" character but I'll have to see how the taller humans in the series stand up against the 6" scale. Considering how nicely these TMNT figures are done you can display them all by themselves against a cool backdrop or one of the Young Justice rooftop displays (Red Arrow or Robin has a nice one).

So what's the verdict? Go out and buy these. RIGHT. NOW. Get yourself what have to be the best Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figures since NECA's take. The three-toed feet might take 5 minutes to get use to, tops. Then you'll forget all about it. Customizers take note, all the heads swap. Their primary weapons store in the back as well which is a nice feature. And you get a ton of highly detailed weapons for just $8.99. In 2012 where your average figures are pushing $16 that's a deal. Our sponsors Past Generation Toys and  Big Bad Toy Store  have them so snag these turtles up!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Halo Universe Anniversary series 2 Master Chief (The Package) figure review

Halo Master Chief
When it comes to Halo figures McFarlane Toys gives you an enormous selection of customizable parts options and weapon/armor packs we only dream that other toy companies would do. The figures have seen multiple series from each game and here we have Master Chief not based on a game series but on his appearance in the Halo Legends DVD "The Package" episode where he's seen in his Mark VI armor.

Halo legends figure
Sculpting for this figure is perhaps the best I've ever seen McFarlane do. I hear it was because the digital sculpt was created directly from the cgi model and if that's the case well, dang. Every angle, leg port fin, toe tread, and collar section can be seen in perfect detail. His joints are worked into the sculpt nicely and the Mark VI Reach armor looks awesome rendered like this. The bulkiness of the armor works here and he's the tallest Master Chief made so far standing 5 1/2" tall.

Articulation is much better than the Halo Reach figures as the back portion of the legs are sloped, hips given clearance, and elbows set lower than earlier models. His ball-jointed torso has amazing range of motion as does his neck. Only his shoulder pads are removable however and tend to pop off if his arms are spread out to the side too far. Master Chief can almost kneel and has the toe articulation to pull it off if one were to mod the knees a bit further.

Paint apps are standard Reach style, a really nice green and gray armor color muddled up with a gunmetal drybrushing that gives his armor a sparkly coating. It's just as distracting here. The white and red tampos are applied perfectly and are on top of the weathering making them look a bit odd being so clean. I like the 117 applied to his chestplate and the visor is a much better gold than the previous wave. His tiny mask ports are finally painted, hooray!

Master Chief comes with a grenade that pegs, his MA5C assault rifle, and a build-a-symbol section to a UNSC logo. The rifle is unfortunately the older, smaller mold and looks hilariously tiny in his hands. Swap it out with the larger rifle from one of the earlier figures. I don't know many people who buy all the figures to complete the symbols as they're not very large and tend to pop apart easily. Still it's better than nothing.

The verdict? This is one cool Master Chief and definitely my favorite even tho I'm not a fan of the Reach style armor. If only these figures were 6" they would be flying off the shelf but McFarlane still desperately clings to his 'gotta be unique' style and go against the grain. Out Sponsors Big Bad Toy Store has him at an excellent price as does Past Generation Toys so snag him before he sells out. With Halo 4 figures on the horizon it's only a matter of time until these stop shipping.