Friday, September 28, 2012

Takara Beast Saga (Battle Beasts) Kingdom of the Sea action figure review

You remember Battle Beasts, those miniature, brightly colored, animals in tech armor produced in 1987? They were a hit with kids and now collectors alike. Finding the vintage ones has been tough (and expensive) but Takara has brought them back with "Beast Saga". This is not to be confused with Diamond Select's "Battle Beasts" which only uses the name and has no ties to the originals, using humans in its storyline. Beast Saga is Battle Beasts redux and available through import only right now.

The factions remain the same, Land, Sea, and Air. This set contains three sea-faring creatures in the form of a shark, piranha, and coelacanth (a living armored fossil fish). Each stands a diminutive two and a half inches tall and resembles the animal in an anthropomorphic design. The sculpts for these are beautiful, every scale, tooth, and knight-like armor bit done in soft pvc but very sharply cut. The Coelacanth's armor looks like it was built from a submarine with little torpedo ports on it.

Paint work is not what you'd expect at first glance, the different colored arms/feet of the characters are actually plastic color and glued on to the armor. That which is painted however is very cleaning done like the facial details and airbrushed faded fin colors. How they were able to do that in such a small scale baffles me.

Articulation is only four points, the shoulders and hips. But considering the old Battle Beasts only had moving arms I suppose this is an upgrade. The main feature of these is the shooting dice in the chest that has replaced the rubsigns of old. The square design will strike a familair chord with collectors and the back plunger has an angled 'light piping' allowing the main symbol to glow, a nice touch. Different battling dice are included but everything is in Japanese so I was at a loss as to how the game is actually played.

The dice-shooting feature works well and once the back plunger is depressed it's not as obtrusive, just a blackish/blank square as if its rubsign wasn't active. Each Battle Beast comes with two signature accessories, a weapon and shield that can be held in either hand. They're sharply detailed but very soft plastic, softer than the figure itself and bend easy.

So what's the verdict on these little guys? Battle Beasts enthusiasts rejoice! These are great recreations of the originals and feature excellent designs. They're small enough to work with in scale other mini-figs (Such as Glyos or Minimates) and are pocketable fun. At eight bucks each they are a little expensive but you have to figure they're imported from Japan and you always pay more for that. Out sponsor Big Bad Toy Store has a whole slew of them and blind bagged figures that are cheaper with the chance of secret characters. So if you love Battle Beasts these are the closest thing we have to the originals in a new format, snag some and learn to read you can play the game!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Transformers Prime Rumble and Sergeant Kup action figure review

Heads up, there's more brand new Transformers Prime characters coming out that we haven't seen in the show yet. First we got Hot Shot and Dead End, now the latest wave brings us Rumble and Sergeant Kup. These are Deluxe class figures and come with a DVD in the package as well. Kup is actually a repaint of Ironhide's mold that is being released for the Arms Micron line overseas.

Sculpting for Rumble is great with an angular chest and rounded limbs. Tho unpainted you can see sculpted back guns on the door panels that stick up, homage to the original character. His chest appears to be a very angry face and flipping his head down gives him a 'Gunmen' look if you're familiar with the anime series Gurren Lagann. The car roof kibble on the shoulders also looks very familiar with the series. Rumble has a great headsculpt and overall appearance.

Sergeant Kup's design is taller with nice detail and a windowed chest paying homage to the old Ironhide design, not so much Kups. His head is partially obscured by his shoulder armor and resembles a robotic monkey upon closer inspection. His body design is nice tho he has empty spaces that can be seen in the sides of the legs and bottoms of the arm. I liked how the tires face backwards out of the way in robot mode. There also seems to be tiny Autobot symbols on his hubcaps tho they're not painted in.

Both figures are done in the newer style though some folks have issues with the 'cost cutting' features. The wheels are no longer pinned in but snap in. This gets rid of the silver post we're use to seeing and it's very easy to remove the wheels if you need to paint one. The plastic is very glossy in contrast with the more subtle semigloss of the earlier figures. Every major limb is hollow and while great for range of articulation and ease of transformation, raises complaints from many in the Transformers community.

Articulation for Rumble is surprisingly nice. His legs are so well done you can get him into a 'Spiderman' style crouch. His ball jointed head can look directly up and the only thing he's missing are a waist cut and wist joints. Kuphide's head while on a balljoint is completely limited and functions only as a swivel. His hips have good range of movement but his shoulders are stopped from moving all the way up because of the armor.

Paint apps are few and far between with only a little bit of light green and silver-green for Kup. Frenzy has a lot of clear red sections with excellent light-pipe eyes/headcrest. He sports some yellow here and there but in vehicle mode is pretty much a blue compact. Both characters in vehicle mode suffer from unpainted rear sections which really detract from their overall look unfortunately. Transformation into the alt mode is quite easy however as most parts fold/unfold as the main parts.

One issue that's being brought up is Kup's back hatch that is very distracting in robot mode as it sticks up. All you need to do is pop it off and turn it around tho some feel this is 'partsforming' and should have had a swivel at the base. Accessories for Kup are two Ironhide-ish arm cannons that can combine to form a bazooka. Rumble's weapons are his ground-pounder attachments with the ends styled like cannons of the 3rd party Shadow Warriors. It's nice to see Hasbro using the designs of figures that copy their designs, coming full circle in an odd way.

What's the verdict on these figures? Unless you're a Kup completest or like the mold you can probably skip him. Rumble is a visually distinct figure with great articulation and may strike a chord with fans of chest-faced-robots. You can find both figures at our sponsors Big Bad Toy Store and Past Generation Toys. It's interesting to note the much sought after Vehicon is repacked in this case and also comes with a DVD so you may have luck finding him again.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Marvel Select Ultron action figure review

If there's one foe of the Avengers who keeps coming back for more it's Ultron. This nearly indestructible, self-replicating, agent of destruction has given them more trouble than any one villain I can think of. After years of waiting for a Marvel Legends scale classic version (we got a smaller Marvel Universe one) Marvel Select comes through with the Ultron we've been waiting for.

Sculpting for Ultron is smooth and clean. This is his classic design and doesn't have a bunch of crazy panel or armor sections as previous versions did due to 'artistic visions' had by the designers. The armor lines are nicely cut into the sculpt, not just painted on. Ultron has a great open 'gesturing' right hand and closed left fist to threaten with. A great looking open mouth and sharply sculpted ear-fins make for a great look here.

Articulation is excellent. Ultron has a ball neck with great range of movement, ball torso, cut waist, ball shoulders, two bicep cuts (one at the shoulder and one at the elbow, tho this gives his biceps the 'spinning meat' effect) ball hips, double jointed knees, and the perfect 45 deg ankle rockers. You can get some great crouching or hunched over poses, even the look from the Bowen Ultron bust.

The paint work is a little hit and miss. Here in the photos he looks really shiny but the silver is more of a matte in hand. There's darker shading airbrushed on him and the lines are a bit sloppy, you may want to snag some silver paint for touch-ups. His eyes and mouth are a nice metallic red tho I'd have liked to see some black Kirby-bubbles in there or at least an energy effect to mimic it. Still he's a nicely done silver robot and sports the look of classic Ultron with attention to paint detail where it counts.

Ultron stands at seven inches tall which basically puts him in Marvel Legends scale seeing as he's often drawn larger than the heroes in the comics. He will fit right in with your other Avengers figures and look pretty vicious doing so. Ultron comes with one accessory, a base with broken arrow shafts littering it and an unconscious pair of Ant Man and Wasp figures, tho they can't be removed. The base is well done and the paint work looks nice.

So what's the verdict on this android of destruction? If you're an Ultron fan he's a must-buy and will make for great custom fodder with his simple and fairly smooth design. I do wish he came with more extras like the upcoming amazing looking Venom figure but he's a good figure none the less. Our sponsors Big Bad Toy Store has him as does Past Generation Toys. Snag him up and have some Avengers battles!

Final Fantasy Creature: Kai volume 4 trading figures review

When one thinks of the Final Fantasy series it's more than just the characters that stand out in your mind, it's the amazing creature designs as well. Here Square Enix brings us a boxed set of five creatures in 3" format. The set includes the Omega Weapon, Bahamut Fury, Exdeath, King Behemoth, and the vile Malboro. They can also be purchased individually but are blind-boxed and only available overseas.

Right off the bat sculpting for these little guys is absolutely incredible. The detail put into these is akin to a statue that has been miniaturized through some magical means and turned into a perfect representation of the character. Every armor plating, tendril, weapon, and claw is rendered. There's sharp points on every figure and you can easily put a hole through your foot if you were to step on one.

There's no articulation because these were meant to be mini-statues so let's focus on the characters. Omega Weapon looks menacing with his half beast lower body and a skilled customizer could easily give him some purple tones and make an Ultima Weapon, the more popular of the two. Exdeath's clear billowy cape and amazingly detailed scrimshawed armor are done expertly and he has a swirly magical base with a crystal on it.

Bahamut Fury is the tallest of the bunch and has great mechanical-style wings with two clear green gems that light-pipe really nicely with back lighting. The clear crystal base is also cool looking with a cloud-swirl inside the middle orb. King Behemoth is brutal looking with a long tail that wraps around his base and a sword-crest on his head. A skilled customizer could remove the sword-crest and make the creature hold it like it does in the game during battle.

Now let's cover the nastiest creature in the bunch, the Malboro. In the game these things usually spelled the end of your party as it coughed up all sorts of toxic status ailments and poisons. The toothy maw is sculpted beautifully as are the tendrils. You can even see he's sitting on a pile of skulls and weapons, a testament to this nasty little fellow. As gross as he looks the Malboro is still the more popular creature in this series.

Paint work on these Final Fantasy creatures is nothing short of perfection. Each one is airbrushed and given intricate washes of color to bring out the details. Some feature opalescent metallics and fade-to-clear metals like Bahamut's wings. Sitting on your desk these figures look great and I really wish they made current larger scale versions of them.

So what's the verdict? While you may not like the Final Fantasy Play Arts Kai figures these smaller creatures look great. Remember they're only about three inches tall but that's a perfect size to put on your computer or car's dashboard. Our sponsor Big Bad Toy Store has various sets and you can snag individual ones from larger selections on Ebay and Amazon. Series 5 has the Bomb and Alexander, two more fan favorite characters so you may want to preorder them!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Amazing Spiderman & The Lizard Walmart exclusive 6"Movie figure review

Sony Pictures needed to film another Spiderman movie or the license would revert back to Marvel so we got a reboot of sorts, The Amazing Spiderman. There are two scales of figures, the smaller 3 3/4" figures are found everywhere but only Walmart cares the 'Legends' 6" size of Studio Series figures. In the first assortment is the movie Spiderman, The Lizard, and Ultimate Spiderman from the comics. Here we take a look at the movie characters. Amazing Spiderman and Lizard.

Sculpt for Spidey is really detailed and includes all the different textures of his suit, webline cuts, and musculature of an athletic human. The little web-shooters on his wrist are detailed and the elongated spider on his chest look great. The goggles appear to sit just a tad bit up too high but not terribly so. One hand is sculpted to grab and the other in the classic 'thwip' style. No waist cut makes the suit look very streamlined around the hips and overall Spidey looks great.

The Lizard's sculpt is covered in detail as well, crazy amounts of scales down to the tiniest ones on the legs, reptilian-like skin folds, creases, and the face is still creepy-human-like that we've seen. The Lizard's hips do seem oddly large but he is a big figure standing at over 7" tall. He has the fused right fingers and a long lizard tail that snaps on. It's not bendy however and is just there to help balance him.

Articulation for Spiderman includes hinged wrists that allow him to grip a vertical or horizontal pole/surface, 45 deg swivel ankles like the new MU figures, and great range in his torso joint. His hips could be better to allow for his legs to come up further to crouch tho. You could carve out a bit of hip socket plastic to help with this if you wanted. His neck has decent range to for Spiderman to look around.

The Lizard's articulation is even more extensive. His neck is ball jointed but he also has a sliding lower neck that allows him to look straight up. Cut wrists instead of hinged but excellent shoulder motion. He has the same double joints with hinges for his lower feet. They aren't tilt so you'll have to fiddle with him for a wide stance. A great torso hinge and tail swivel/hinge round out his articulation.

Paint apps for the Lizard include great airbrushed underbelly highlights and dark shading...except they forgot to paint his tail! It's cast in all green and looks a bit jarring so you may want to get our your paint brush. Spidey's paint work is clean with sharp lines. They tried a black wash to bring out the web detail but it was too thin and is virtually unnoticeable except where it pooled in places. Aside from those issues the colors and application is nice.

Plentiful accessories return in this series! The Lizard comes with three reptile cohorts all completely painted with washes and nice detail. Both figures come with the linking hex-stands that Studio Series and Marvel legends are including. Spiderman get three flexible weblines. They have loops on one end and hooks on the other so you can wrap them around figures or link together for webswinging. They're a neat pearlescent plastic.

So what's the verdict on these figures? They're 6" Legends scale at $15-$17 depending on your Walmart. Since they can only be found there you're off hunting for them but they are nice figures and Lizard is pretty huge. Your alternatives are the larger 7" Marvel Select figures that both our sponsors Past Generation Toys and Big Bad Toy Store have. Don't forget Miles Morales as Ultimate Spiderman is in the set too. He comes with a web-shield ala Marvel vs Capcom's Spiderman.