Saturday, August 10, 2013

Star Wars the Black Series 6" Sandtrooper #03 action figure review

Star Wars as I'm sure you're aware is a movie-turned-worldwide phenomenon that has ingrained itself within our culture. Virtually anyone living in an industrialized nation knows what a Lightsaber is or recognizes Darth Vader's glossy helmet. The merchandising, more specificity Star Wars toys has dwarfed the movie's revenue and we have had decades of 3 3/4" and 12" tall plastic figurines of our favorite characters. Well get ready because now we have The Black Series! These are six-inch scale figures that fit along side your Marvel Legends and DC Universe figures. I picked up the Sandtrooper because of the Stormtrooper's iconic look. How does he fare in this scale? One word: Amazingly.

Packaging isn't something I talk about often in my review but here it needs special mention because it is 100% collector friendly. The outer cardboard slips off to reveal the plastic tray in which everything can be removed and put back in to store. The rectangular box is the perfect size, easily stored, and looks great with its matte black sheen and orange graphics. It's a little taller than a Figuarts/Figma box and I would love to see this style of collector friendly continue.

One thing that struck me about the packaging is that there's just a quick bio of the figure on the back and NO ADDITIONAL FIGURE ASSORTMENT PICTURES. This has to be a first! Every other Star Wars package has the back filled with 'ads' for their other figures, vehicles, or roleplay toys. Not this one. Overall it's very classy and does a great job of displaying the figure and its accessories.

Sculpting for the Star Wars Black Series Sandtrooper appears to be spot on perfect. The proportions look correct, the eyes set correctly. The hands, armor, everything looks just as how you remember a Sandtrooper appearing on the screen. Everything from the helmet down to his pointed toes looks authentic and full of detail. There's wrinkles in his black under suit and nicely sculpted pouches on either side of the belt. Tiny vent details on the helmet stand out as well.

Articulation for the Sandtrooper is a perfect super-articulated mix between GI Joe, Marvel Legends, and Star Wars. And I mean perfect. He has a double ball jointed neck, ball shoulders, bicep swivels, double elbows, hinged wrists (up down for right, side to side for left ala GI Joe hands) an amazing ball jointed ab crunch, new ML style ball hips with the upper thigh cut, double knees, and ball/side-step ankles! This means you can put the Sandtrooper into any conceivable position. Sitting with legs crossed, hands on hips, even prone aiming his gun. The range with tilt you can get out of the neck is amazing too.

Paint apps for the Sandtrooper are consistent with zero slop, well unless you count the weathering. All the black, mask details, and other detailing is cleanly applied. He even has glossy black eyes that look like lenses! The weathering however is reversed. Instead of a wash being applied as tho sand has been blown and stuck in the pits of his armor China gave him a wipe of tan as if he's rubbed up against something dirty. This works tho because you still have definition and the sand weathering is two tone, part red clay and part tan.

Ditch the Sandtrooper's shoulder pad accessory and you have a dirty Stormtrooper! But the accessories he comes with are plentiful and perfectly done. A backpack plugs on with a clip for the shoulder covered by some pouches, a nice touch. You get a regular blaster pistol, rifle, and heavy blaster, all of which can be fitted into various gaps of his backpack to store for those long desert patrols. There's various pant apps on the two larger weapons like silver weathering and brass/grey details too. Now this is what I want to see for a figure's accessories!

So what's the verdict here on the first six-inch offering of Star Wars figures? I love the Sandtrooper and can see people army building this guy and his eventual Stormtrooper buddies. You may see a lot of negativity on the web about the Black Series but it's mainly from elitists that wanted to see 3A get the license. We all knew Hasbro would never give up a 6" scale for Star Wars and people will just have to get over it. The Sandtrooper is a solid, well made, and incredibly detailed figure that comes with a ton of accessories in a collector friendly package! Why pay $40+ for a Figma or Figuarts when you can have this guy at half the price? Sandtrooper and the rest of the Black Series can be snagged at our sponsor Big Bad Toy Store or on Amazon with free shipping. The 6" Black Series will also be available at Toys R Us, Walmart, and Target, but have instantly sold out he moment they hit the shelf. Hasbro appears to have another hit on their hands and hopefully this will help bring the 6" scale back onto the pegs.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

NECA Aliens series 1: Corporal Dwayne Hicks action figure review

When Aliens threaten to overrun the galaxy who's there to stop them? The Colonial Marines, that's who! Straight from the movie Aliens comes Corporal Dwayne Hicks (played by Michael Biehn) and NECA has given both him and Hudson (Bill Paxton) the action figure treatment. Here we'll be taking a look at Hicks today and how he matches up against the Alien Xenomorph Warrior we reviewed a few posts back.

Sculpting for Hicks is spot on. From the gear, armor, pant pleats, right down to his boots. The headsculpt is a younger Michael Biehn and way more recognizable than the Kyle Reese sculpt that came out in NECA's Terminator line. There's all sorts of sculpted texture on his pants and his arms even have hair on them! Hicks' armor is multi-piece and while glued together looks great without hindering his articulation. His kneepads are even separate being strapped on from the back.

Hick's articulation is AMAZING. If you thought Dutch from the Predator series was articulated for a military-style figure wait till you get a load of Hicks. Right away you'll notice he has double jointed knees that allows him to kneel down for a defensive position. everything is ball jointed, everything has extremly good range of motion, and most of the joints are very effectively hidden from view. Hicks can aim his pulse rifle or shotgun any way he chooses and look great doing so. His toes and wrists are also hinged.

Paint ops are top notch here and coming from NECA that's no surprise. Hicks' camouflage patter in remarkably well done with proper overlapping shades instead of the usual mess when camo is applied to a figure's sculpt. His skin has a grimy look to it and his armor/uniform has a dirty look as if he's been crawling around an Alien hive all day. Hicks' bicep sports his tattoo which is readable as is the wording all over his armor taken straight from the movie. That's some pretty nifty detail right there.

Hicks sports some impressive accessories as well. He comes with the all important, iconic M14A Pulse Rifle with it's rubbery strap perfect for draping over his shoulder. Should that fail he has his 'close encounters' shotgun which comes in its very own back sheath. Wait, a door needs to be welded shut! There's also a tiny welding torch that can be detached from Hicks' belt! All the accessories look great and the Pulse Rifle even has realistic weathering and silver scuffing.

So what's the verdict here? Hicks is an outstanding representation of a Colonial Marine and you'll need him on your team as NECA is collecting licenses for other cast members along with a few surprise Marines. All those accessories, awesome articulation, and spot on paint apps for UNDER $20 makes NECA's offerings like this one a beacon of hope in an a market of ever increasing prices and decreasing quality. You can snag Hicks, Hudson, and the Alien Warrior at out Sponsor Big Bad Toy Store or on Amazon usually with free shipping.