Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Marvel Select Venom by Diamond Select, action figure review

Venom is one of the most popular Spiderman villain to date and has been drawn hundreds of ways by more artists than I can google. This being the case there's many different looks for him. Here Diamond Select has decided to capture four different looks with one figure! Standing 7-1/2" inches tall he's a little on the tall side when paired against a Marvel legends but has been drawn as large as the Hulk in some comics allowing for a little leeway here.

Venom's sculpt is a thing of beauty and extremely detailed when it comes to the muscles and sculpted-in spider symbol instead of just being painted on. The McFarlane grinning head is easily the winner among the three different heads and looks amazing. The toothy head looks menacing and the half-covered Eddie Brock head which was taken directly from cover art is just as awesome to behold. The clawed hands look sharp as do the open and closed fists. Yep, three sets of hands are included, more on that later. His web-shooters are raised on the back of his hand like little ports, a cool feature.

The first thing you need to do when you open up Venom is run his torso under hot water or a hair dryer and pop it apart. Take a hobby knife and widen the peg hole that's restricting the double ball jointed ab crunch. For some reason the factory added plastic in there that holds it still. You can also do this on the neck port that's attached to his main body. Suddenly Venom can lean, twist, and look around wonderfully. You can even glue his cut waist joint in place after this mod so you don't have to worry about a misaligned symbol.

Venom's articulation before the mentioned modification is a mixed bag. He has a ball jointed head and torso that's restricted but you can fix that. The range of his shoulders and knees is standard single pin but has good range. No, he does not have tilt-ankles and yes, this hurts the ability to pose him. Someone familiar with customizing can swap them out for a Marvel legends Venom feet with ankle rockers but that's up to you. His biceps turn, he has cut thighs, and the wrists being removable turn as well. You'll be able to get him into some decent poses.

Paint work is hit and miss. I saw some good ones on the shelf and I saw some terrible ones. Venom is primarily black plastic with great dark blue airbrushed highlights. The spider symbol in my case was nice and clean. But others were streaked, faded, and in some cases had brown dirt and hair clumps stuck in the paint it as if someone had dropped the freshly painted figure on the factory floor. There's also evidence of touch-up work in places with solid black paint which in some cases clashes with the blue highlights.I really like how his teeth are a bone color instead of bright white like his symbol.

Venom's accessory count will blow you away! He comes with three heads, one with a removable tongue, three sets of hands all of which can be swapped onto the madness backpack which features ball jointed mini-venom heads and jointed arms, and two smaller Madness arms that attach to his. This gives you a huge range of options as to what head with what hands and Maddness features you want. It's really impressive and will certainly be the selling point here.

Scale is seven and a half inch Marvel Select as mentioned but depending on how you like Venom appearing in the comic he can fit right along with your 6" Marvel Legends. There are a couple of things about the figure I need to mention. He has two large holes on his forearms where the madness arms plug in. Venom also suffers from the articulated-statue effect where the sculpt of his elbows is suddenly cut in a straight line to make the joint leaving you with a right-angled elbow. Same where they decided to add the thigh cut, there's flat edges showing when it turns.

So what's the verdict? Is this the end-all-definitive-perfect-Venom figure? It could be. Out of the package he's got issues but a skilled customizer can easily turn him into an awesome figure by modding the neck, torso, and replacing the feet. For $23 you get an excellently sculpted Venom with the most accessories I've ever seen a Marvel toy come with. Our sponsor Big Bad Toy Store has him for just $20 and with the way he's selling out at comic shops the day of release you want want to consider ordering him online to save the worry of seeing an empty shelf. I'm enjoying the figure and customizers will have fun finding use for the Maddness heads, some of which are Marvel legends and Marvel Universe scale.


Here's the modifications I made to Venom. They're not hard to do and you'll want to review my Customizing Guides if you haven't already and familiarize yourself with the heat-n-pop method to disassemble him and the X-acto Knive used to trim away plastic. Foot swapping is a little advanced because it involved using a Dremel tool to widen the ankle holes, trimming down the new ankle hinge, and putting in a new pin. First things first, pop off Venom's head then heat the neck up and tug out the shaft. Trim the plastic around the hole's edge at an angle like shown.

Now heat up his ab crunch and pop it apart. Use pliers to remove the ball post same as you did the neck. Trim the plastic at an angle around the edge of both holes. Remember you're not widening the hole that much, you're allowing the post to lean further against the sides. That's where you'll get the range of motion from.

Finally the advanced step, the foot swap. I used the foot from a Spiderman Classics jaw-chomping rubber faced Venom. In order to get the larger ankle hing ring to fit I had to drill into the leg a bit, trim the ankle ring down, and drill a new hole for a larger peg. You might be able to find another foot with a smaller ankle ring and it would be a lot easier to swap. Venom doesn't have any blue highlights on his lower legs so I didn't even need to repaint the new foot. I filled the holes and painted over those but if your new foot doesn't require drilling into the leg you won't need to do this.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Fall of Cybertron Grimlock Transformers action figure review (voyager class)

The second installment of the Transformers video game called "Fall of Cybertron" has some really neat characters designs in it and we're about to see a whole slew of fan favorites from Hasbro in 2013. They've even introduced three voyager class FoC characters, Soundwave, Blaster, and Grimlock, leader of the Dinobots. Here we'll take a look at the robotic T-rex himself in this larger-than-deluxe scale.

Grimlock stands 7 1/2 inches tall and is sporting a really nice robot mode. The wide chest and broad shoulders give him an inposing look and his thick legs add to the appearance of a tough bot to take on. The sculpting is top notch as we've come to expect with all sorts of little ports, panel lines, and sections that grace the something-happening-to-Cybertron lines. I like the asymmetrical look of his chest which is the only part of him like that, standing out from the design.

Articulation for robot mode is plentiful and useful. Grimlock has excellent shoulder range and they can even swing up and forward thanks to ratcheting sections inside. His head is ball jointed and his wrists turn. He's lacking a waist and side-ankle movement however but everything else swivels or hinges with plenty of posing options. Given he comes with a sword and a shield you'll get plenty of use out of the joints given.

Paint apps for Grimlock are also plentiful with gold, dark metal, red, and silver applied. The plastic is very sturdy feeling with some sections molded in a matte, almost sanded texture while others are done is smooth glossy plastic which contrasts well. There's an Autobot symbol on his dino-mode's head while he has a feral-looking Autobot symbol in bot mode of which I'm not familiar with. (I'm now told it's the  Lightning Strike Coalition variant)  All the metallic plastics and paint make him look really sharp and there's no slop at all on the figure I picked up. Great light-pipe eyes add to the look.

Dino/alt mode looks as cool as his robot mode thankfully. Expect a classic lumbering T-rex with short arms, large head, and a huge tail. That tail may draw some criticism as it's basically Grimlock's legs folded together and is pretty thick. But from the front or side you really don't notice it all that much as you'll be staring at his toothy maw most of the time. In dino mode he's a bit hollow from the underside because of the unfolding of the dino head that is normally stored inside the bot-mode back, but there's a reason for this.

And that reason is the light-up/action feature! Press the fin behind Grimlock's head in dino mode and he opens his mouth wide emitting a blazing reddish-orange glow from deep within his throat. In robot mode the head is inside his chest and now lights up his clear chest-ports/ Lightning Strike Coalition symbol. This allows for the light-up feature to work in both modes which was an excellent choice. I really like how the light shows the 'inner framework' of the head and chest when it's lit almost like a furnace glow.

Dino-mode is less articulated than bot mode with the hips pegging up into the back. You don't really need to do this and leaving them loose lets you pose his legs in far better positions than just straight down. You have to love the little ball-jointed t-rex arms that can flail about. As I mentioned before the legs become the dino-tail and it looks as if he's wearing his feet from the back which may deter some folks as we usually have alt-mode kibble, not robot mode kibble which may be a first here.

Grimlock comes with two great looking accessories, a robotic looking sword and shield both made from clear plastic and sculpted in excellent detail. They can be held in bot mode, pegged to his shoulders/forearms, or stored on the t-rex mode hips. His little flail-rex arms can hold them too if you fit the shield on a finger tip and the sword in the other, just for laughs of course.

Transformation is incredibly simple and basically the same as other Grimlocks before him. You don't even need the instructions. The knees may pop out of peg-place when moved because the joint is so tight. To fix this extend the leg panel as far down as it will go to make the tail and you'll see the knee-post inside. Coat that with some superglue and let it dry before pegging it back in. It will stay together much sturdier this way will hold together through posing.

So what's the verdict here? He's Grimlock, how are you not going to buy him? Honestly tho this is a solid figure and looks awesome in both modes, has a glowing feature for both, and comes with two great accessories. He easily replaces my classics Grimlock in design and size. He's trickling into stores now along with Blaster but instantly disappears from the shelf. I'd suggest ensuring you get him by snagging one at our sponsor Big Bad Toy Store at the normal retail cost. This way you won't be disappointed when all you see is Soundwave and Blaster on the shelf which is quickly becoming the norm.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Marvel Legends 2013 Hit Monkey series: Archangel, Wolverine, Protector action figure review

Continuing with the second part of the Hit Monkey Build-a-Figure series we reviewed yesterday I'll take a look at the other three figures in the assortment, well four if you count Hit Monkey. These are the six-inch Marvel legends figures and the newest wave to appear. Archangel and Wolverine are repaints from the SDCC exclusive X-force set with only Protector, Hyperion, and Red She-Hulk containing the BAF pieces.

Taking a look at Wolverine reveals he uses the toybiz ML series 6 brown Wolvie body with brand new head, arms, and legs. The body reuse gives him the stocky look we're accustom too tho it somewhat lacks the defined muscles that the shoulders and legs have. Archangel uses the Bucky Cap/US Agent body and nearly the same face with plain arms and lower legs. This is a perfect body for customizers to use because of these features or lack thereof. Protector uses the Big Time/FF Spiderman body with a new chest, head, and slip-on gauntlets. Overall the sculpts look nice and work for each character. Wolverine's claws are actually each separate from another and can possibly be removed if you head his hand up, looking like they're plugged in rather than glued.

Articulation for each figure is nearly perfect with full 45 deg ankle motion, hinged wrists which is always a great feature, Wolvie and Arch sporting the MU style cut upper thighs. No pose is impossible with the excellent range of articulation tho Wolvie's ab crunch doesn't get as much motion due to it being an older mold set on a pseudo ball joint. Archangel's wings are hinged with full fold and tilt motion with hinges mid way and even on the smaller back wing sections, an impressive feat. They hold nice and tight for flying poses too.

Paint for this series is exceptional. Wolverine has a silvery paint instead of gray like the SDCC version and utilizes a nice airbrushed highlighting. Protector sports clean paint apps and a opalescent white plastic color that serves as his base. Some shading may have been useful here as he does look a bit plain. Archangel's metallic purple is amazing and stands out well against his blue body color. His facial features are spot and clean, tho his wings are cast in a dull silver rather than given the shiny silver paint the SDCC version had. You may want to pick one of those up as well to swap wings to display.

In the accessory department Wolvie doesn't get anything while Protector gets two guns courtesy of Phantomex and a Hit Monkey BAF part. Archangel gets his wings which are removable and fully articulated. I do wish they had a sweep articulation point mid way so they could open more. Now... Hit Monkey if you're not familiar with the character came out of the Deadpool series. He assembles easily and is the smallest build a figure to date.

But what Hit Monkey lacks in size he makes up in pure awesomeness. HM is fully jointed with ball everything, full ankle motion, and only lacking an ab crunch. He's painted with airbrushed highlights to his inner shirt, great facial detail, and glossly black gloves on his hands and feet that stand out. But what's a hitman without weapons? Hit Monkey comes with four total, two pistols and two machine guns that he can hold normally or upside down with his pinky fingers on the triggers. I was ready to hate this figure until I had him in hand, now he's part of the family.

So what's the verdict on these last four figures? This is the classic Archangel people wanted so he's a must. Wolverine may be a pass if you already have the nearly-identical SDCC one but chances are you don't. Who's Protector again? He's still nicely made and you'll need him to build Hit Monkey regardless. AND YOU WANT HIT MONKEY. As I mentioned earlier the best deal is from our sponsor Big Bad Toy Store with singles, a set, and cases ready. You won't find them cheaper and getting a case will net you an extra Cap and Wolverine for customizing for just $10 more than a set. Now we wait to see when the variants for this wave (and last wave, where's Blade and red Deadpool?) appear.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Marvel Legends 2013 Hit Monkey series: Red She Hulk, Ultimate Captain America, Hyperion action figure review

Without a doubt the Marvel Legends 6" series has a massive fan following after all these years and still tops the list of sell-outs from pegs when a new series debuts. The Hit Monkey BAF series is the newest wave to hit stores and has six figures in the assortment. Red She Hulk, Ultimate Captain America, Hyperion, Protector, X-Force Wolverine, Archangel, and of course the Hit Monkey baf. I'll cover the first three in this review and the other four in the next. There are variants for this wave but since we haven't even seen the variants from the last one it may be a while till they show up.

Right off the bat we notice two brand new bodies here. She Hulk's sculpt is phenomenal and is hands-down the best female action figure sculpt currently on the shelf. She's tall, toned, and actually has a pleasant if not sexy face sculpt. Everything from her hair down to her feet looks great. Hyperion is the 'medium build' base body Hasbro will be using for characters like Venom and Sabertooth. He's equally as well sculpted for a male body with a perfect amount of muscle tone and bulk without going over the top.

Captain America's sculpt is the body from Drax/Steve/Nick Fury with a new head, lower arms, and lower legs. Everything is of course sculpted sharply and his expression makes him look as if someone has him peeved. His boots and gloves are really detailed with individual seams and laces in high detail along with a brand new belt and removable vest with tons of small detail work like bottles, clips, and pouches. It's interesting to note the height difference between Ult Cap and Steve from the first series even tho they share 80% of the same body type. With the Ult Cap's lower legs a bit shorter the body type still works perfectly.

Articulation for these figures (and all figures in this wave) is top notch and EVERYONE has 45 deg ankle rockers as Hasbro promised they would. Even the BAF Hit Monkey. She Hulk in particular has an astounding range of motion allowing you to put her in all sorts of kneeling, lounging, or even crouching positions if that's your thing. Her upper biceps have the 'spinning meat' deal where there's a joint at both the shoulder and the elbow so you'll need to line them up while posing or glue one into place. It hardly detracts from the appeal of her female form however.

Cap's articulation is the same as the previous molds of this type I've reviewed down to the hands turning at the forearm cuts instead of wrists. Overall he has amazing range of motion. Hyperion no less acting like a scaled-up version of the Bucky Cap/US Agent body with all the bells and whistles. A great neck and ab joint means he can  get a great 'flying forward' pose.

Paint work for the figures is incredibly sharp for what's there. Colors are molded in plastic color when possible but given airbrushed shading and even washes on details like Hyperion's hair and Cap's vest/gloves/boots. She Hulk sports amazingly clean eyes/lips and the metallic purple on her bodysuit is sleek. Details like her glove buckles and Hyperion's chest emblem are sharp. It looks like Hasbro has worked out quite a few QC paint kinks as every figure in the case I received had perfect paint apps.

Accessories come in the form of a Hit Monkey build-a-figure piece for only three out of the six figures, Red She Hulk, Hyperion, and Protector. I assume because Archangel and Wolverine are re-paints from the SDCC set and we already had two Ult Caps before this. No stands are included this time but She Hulk does get a giant curved blade, Hyperion a 2-part removable cape, and Cap with his amazingly shiny metallic shield and removable jacket.

So what's the verdict on these figures? Will you want to bother building Hit Monkey? Get them and YES. Without giving away Hit Monkey's features for the next review let me assure you he is amazingly cool for such a small and obscure character. Customizers will love the modular base-body design of these figures and with Hasbro improving on all fronts the Marvel legends line looks to have some great things in store for 2013. Unfortunately these aren't out in stores yet but are readily available from online retailers. The best deal is of course from our sponsor Big Bad Toy Store with singles, a set, and cases ready. You won't find them cheaper and getting a case will net you an extra Cap and Wolverine for customizing for just $10 more than a set!

He Man Classics Granamyr Dragon action figure review

Granamyr the Great Magic Wielding Dragon appeared in the He-Man cartoons and for some reason sticks out in my mind fairly well among all the other characters. He appeared in just 4 episodes but was the one opponent He Man couldn't defeat by strength alone. Mattel decided it was time to give this giant dragon a giant action figure treatment and here he is.

The box is done in classic MotU packaging, a white outer box and the inner art-covered box inside. Granamyr comes unembarrassed and in a neat plastic tray. Less than 2 minutes and you'll have him put together, immediately noticing how huge he is standing (or rather sitting) and 23" tall. The sculpting for him is excellent with detail in all the scales, leathery wings, toothy facial features, and black claws. The belly plates are nicked and dinged from battles long since past and the viking-esq helmet looks the part as well.His wings happen to be re-uses from Draego Man from the line.

Articulation for this big fellow is pretty decent considering he's mainly pvc Roto-Cast plastic. His ball jointed neck works great, and everything else on him is ball-jointed save for the shoulders, hips, and tail. The lack of ball shoulders means he can't really reach out to the side, odd that joint was left out considering arm movement is the main feature given his sitting position. While his upper body seems to have an ab crunch it's just the connection spot and doesn't move. Still there's rather decent range of movement with everything and you can even stand him up. As light as he is Gran's legs can support his own weight, if only looking a little funny doing so.

Paint applications are very clean and consist of primary plastic colors with airbrushing for highlights and shadows. The lighter purple on his belly could have used a wash but looks decent regardless all one shade.His helmet is a nice metallic color and the fade to the horns looks rather nice. All those tiny teeth are sharply painted and the bright yellow eyes set inside the dark sockets gives Gran some terrifying features.

Granamyr doesn't come with any accessories and unfortunately his helmet isn't removable. Had it been, he would have made an excellent generic 'boss dragon' for kids to pit their heroes up against. There's some assembly instructions but that's it. I kind of wish he came with a treasure pile or some of the gold armor/weapons he guards.

So what'd the verdict on this massive fellow? Well he was $80 to begin with on the MattyCollector site but has long since been sold out. That means secondary market is your only choice. Before you check ebay head over to our sponsor Big Bad Toy Store has him in stock but you can bet he won't last long. If you're in the mood for a giant centerpiece to your Masters of the Universe collection you don't get much bigger than this, well unless you're ordering their gigantic Castle Grayskull.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Iron Man Marvel Legends "Iron Monger" baf series; Iron Patriot, Classic, Heroic figure review

Iron Man 3 movie figures are just now hitting stores and Hasbro decided to sneak in an extra 6" Marvel Legends series with 'Iron Man Marvel Legends'. This is a six figure set with three figures available now and three come fall 2013. The first three, Iron Patriot, Classic Iron Man, and Heroic Age Iron Man come with parts to build a comic series Iron Monger. The other three figures are blacked out on the back package but according to store's UPC system will Ultron, Mark VI, and the new movie suit. How do these stack up against the newest Marvel Legends? Let's find out.

The packaging looks exactly like a Marvel legends package except with the Iron Man 3 suit across the header, so nothing special here. The new sculpt of the bunch is the Bleeding Edge Iron Man suit. It's all sorts of nice with great angles, little repulsor ports all over his body, and a great headsculpt that really looks like the comic art. While similar to the Marvel Universe version it's a completely new sculpt and not a one-up.

Paint apps for Bleeding Edge IM have crossed into the unknown with a brand new process that literally layers one color plastic onto another color plastic surface. The gold on his torso and upper hips is NOT paint. I checked, shaving part it if away with my X-acto knife.  It's super-thin gold plastic that has been poured and bonded to the red. This amounts to amazing precision of color and no possibility of scratching or scuffing paint on these areas! It looks like the new process only works on hard plastic as the rest of the gold on his softer pvc limbs is painted, looking fairly clean with the exception of a transition to his leg cuts.

Articulation for Bleeding Edge is amazing. Being a new sculpt his has full range of motion and then some, side-swivel ankles, and a ball neck that can almost look straight up. Artic for Classic Iron Man is the same as the Toys R Us 2-pack that came with Sharon Carter. It too had great range but lacks ankle side motion and the arms can't come all the way down to the sides due to the shoulder rings, tho you can easily trim these with a hobby knife. The sculpt is a classic one and stands up well, tho a little thin against other Marvel legends. Classic comes with two heads as well, a horned helmet and the classic rounded one, both well sculpted.

Iron Patriot is an almost exact mold of Extremis Iron Man I reviewed here with a new upper chest sporting the star. Unfortunately the same leg clearance issue exists and he can hardly raise his legs for a running pose unless you trim a lot of the plastic from around the hip area of his waist. All of the figures in this series are made from a really nice looking metallic plastic with very little swirl. This translates to a great glossy armor look without a lot of paint. The plastic is much sturdier than previous Marvel Legends figures with none of the rubbery feel. Patriot has the most paint apps and they're all cleanly applied, his face especially with great eyes and mouth detail.

Accessories for each figure include a piece of comic Iron Monger and a story pamphlet, classic Iron Man getting an extra head. You get the body and legs of Monger in this series but have to wait 5 months to get the arms and body, that possibly being a turn-off for some collectors. But the Monger body looks excellent from what I see here with amazing leg/ankle articulation. It's huge too and sports the same great metallic plastic as the rest of the set. The sculpt is almost identical to the Marvel universe Iron Monger so we may see a Hulk Buster BAF down the road given that it was the same body mold with different extremities.

So what's the verdict? If you didn't get the Classic Iron Man from the exclusive 2-pack, or just want a metallic looking one, pick up that figure. Iron Patriot is part of the Dark Avengers if you're making that collection so he'll be sought after. Bleeding Edge, well.... you're going to want to see this new plastic-layering technique up close and he's an amazing figure in all categories. You're best off buying all three and saving the BAF pieces. The legs attach to the body so you won't lose them and the half-built Iron Monger suit could be used as a background piece in a workshop diorama. Our sponsor Big Bad Toy Store has the set of three for a really great price along with singles and with clean paint apps on every figure I saw on the pegs you shouldn't have to worry about picking them out yourself. Snag this set and add to your Hall of Armors!