!!!Where Are All the 6-inch Metal Gear Figures?!!

I’ve been told that my comparisons of toy lines to dating girls is a little weird.

Rexfield

I think some of you just need to date more. Or collect more. Then you’ll get it.

There’s a lot of reasons why dating and collecting share some strong traits, but the one I tend to think about, especially when discussing things on Fwoosh?  Just like dating, nothing can keep getting under your skin, frustrating the…

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Women of Marvel Legends Featured

Hasbro’s announcement of the upcoming Marvel Legends females in various assortments at SDCC this year had me going through my boxes of new and old Marvel Legends to see how the female has developed over the years. From the first female, Elektra in Series 4, to the latest, Medusa in the Thanos Imperative box set, the Marvel Legends female sure has changed a lot. And for the better.

ToyBiz Elektra

To go back and slam previous figures is a difficult thing to do. At the time, Elektra was the pinnacle of action figure collecting. Yes, I was harsh on the hippy hinges on the figure, but I liked the overall aesthetic of the female. Spawn Toys produced beautifully unarticulated female statues that were beautiful, gorgeous figures. Clay Moore was also doing some incredible work with limited articulated figures. Elektra was an attempt to marry beautiful sculpting with articulation.

Women of Marvel Legends Rogue Black Cat

Eventually the Elektra buck was updated, but not before we had to live with some… variations. Black Cat and Rogue shared the Elektra base. Rogue, well, she had some other issues besides the hippy hinge. Shortly after ToyBiz started to make adjustments to the Elektra buck, one with a hinged hip that gave a better range of motion while preserving the sculpt — it was an improvement! Invisible Woman and Black Widow were the recipients of this upgrade. Evenutally a traditional ball hip was used on figures like Ms Marvel, Phoenix, and Dark Phoenix.

But none of these improvements fixed the one major flaw of the original Elektra figure: the marionette look. While articulation and sculpt were starting to meet and make a female action figure, there were still some issues. The female figure was tall, like ’90s supermodel tall, but she never captured that 5’8″ catchall female height. Then there was the marionette problem. For whatever reason, no matter how hard they tried, the Marvel Legends women looked like marionettes and not miniature representation of women.

And don’t think for one second that I think I could have done better. Lord knows I tried to customize a better female, even sculpted a couple from scratch. But always failing.

Women of Marvel Legends Storm

After Elektra, Toy Biz rolled up their sleeves and started working on the problem. While they were still working on their Elektra issues, they also started work on other body types, Series 8 Storm is a great example of huge improvements. The X-Men Classics Rogue’s were another great example of forward progress, although they had some hip issues.

Women of Marvel Legends Rogue

But there were some continued bombs. Series 10 and Series 11 gave us Scarlet Witch and Mystique. And while we praised the prototype of Scarlet Witch, we villified the actual figure. Even to this day, the figure is hated by collectors. Just when we were seeing great strides forward, both sculpt and articulation took a horrible turn for the worse. One thing that both figures got right? The scale — that magic five foot eight inches was spot-on!

Women of Marvel Legends Scarlet Witch Mystique

We would see some advancement of sculpt, articulation, and scale with the Walmart-exclusive Giant-Man Series Kitty Pryde. There were some production issues but the reuse of the Jessica Alba body was a good one. And by Series 14 we saw some excellent work on the Psylocke figure. To be honest, this is my favorite ToyBiz-era figure, and it would have been so easy to redo every single Marvel Legends female with sculpt, making changes to the upper chest as needed. They had hit the mark with making a female figure look like a female and incorporating sculpt into the articulation! It was phenomenal.

Women of Marvel Legends Psylocke

Which makes the Series 15 Wasps and Spider-Women debacle so damn confusing. All steps forward, horribly reversed. Why not just stick with the Psylocke base? Ya’ll nailed it.

Women of Marvel Legends Wasp Spider-Woman

And thus ended the ToyBiz era of Marvel Legends.

Hasbro took a while to get it right as well. Their lead off figure of Emma Frost in the Annihilus Series was as much of a catastrophe as Scarlet Witch. I mean, I think the Internet crashed with hate, watching the few apologists out there make pitiful arguments for this female sculpt was good entertainment. Their second attempt in the Blob Series consisted of Movie Phoenix and She-Hulk, both of which came out well, and She-Hulk is one of my favorite figures.

Women of Marvel Legends Emma Frost White Queen

What should have been the best female figure ever made was Invisible Woman. We wanted a single-carded version during the ToyBiz era, but we were force-fed box set versions. But Hasbro heard us. The released the Ronan Series, a series of all Fantastic Four action figures. A series with a single carded Invisible Woman. A series with a mixed result. On one hand it looked OK. It lacked the super articulation of figures past, and yet it was very… normal. It looked like a plain-jane female. Collectors weren’t certain what to make of the figure. It lacked athleticism, and yet it looked like a woman. Just an average woman. It was odd. The buck was later used in the Hasbro 2-packs, and, well… I like it. The hips joints are a bit off, but I like it. Hasbro was onto something.

Women of Marvel Legends Invisible Woman

And then, they, too, abandoned success. Granted, Hasbro’s Brood Series Rachel Grey was a great figure for teenage girls, way better than ToyBiz’s Apocalypse Series 12 X-23. It was a great teen buck.

Women of Marvel Legends Rachel Grey

It seemed that Hasbro was finally figuring out the female buck. We were starting to see great strides with Invisible Woman, Rachel Grey, and all they needed was that athletic “superhero” build. And they gave it to us in the SDCC Shanna The She-Devil and Ka-Zar exclusive and Foom Series She-Hulk. A fantastic build and one that they should have continued to build on! But they didn’t. The buck and all potential was abandoned.

Women of Marvel Legends Shanna She-Hulk

The Red Hulk Series saw a character-specific sculpt in Spiral, and the Ares Series lacked a female. Another female sculpt popped onto our radars, a fantastic one! The Nemesis Series saw the release of Tigra! For a female sculpt, this was another excellent attempt by Hasbro, but while it lacked super-posability, it seemed that Hasbro was finally building a good staple of bucks that could be reused. Except none of them were. Ever. Invisible Woman, Shanna, Rachel Grey, Tigra — all had great potential and then disappeared.

Hasbro decided to reboot the female sculpt with the release of the 2-pack Shield agents and Elektra and Skrull Elektra — a new female buck that was almost super-poseable and awesome appeared on the scene and would eventually be used in every series starting with Terrax and continuing through the Puck Series. While the buck has received some criticism (she’s too tall, looks like a supermodel, needs to eat a burger, etc.), she has been a huge staple of our modern Marvel Legends collections. And, let’s face it, it is a good buck.

Women of Marvel Legends Madame Masque Jean Grey Black Widow Emma Frost Viper Maria Hill

Never being satisfied with the female form seems to be a theme. And in 2013, Hasbro introduced a new female buck in the SDCC Exclusive Thunderbolts box set. And to much collector rejoice, she was accepted. Looking like something straight out of a Frank Cho comic, Moonstone and Satana were instant hits. We even saw her release on an Updated Black Cat! And thankfully, the buck continues to be hit as we will see it used on Ms. Marvel, Captain Marvel, and Spider-Woman.

Women of Marvel Legends Black Cat Moonstone

Hasbro even released another version of this buck, with updated hips and breasts! A sleeker, slimmer, more streamlined version in the SDCC Thanos Imperative Medusa and Jubilee Series Storm. It’s a beautiful sculpt and reminds me of the female swimmers I used to watch back in the old college days.

Women of Marvel Legends Medusa

Finally, Hasbro recognizes the need for a tween buck and gave us one. First appearing in Spider-Man Marvel Legends Infinites, Spider-Girl completed a fantastic journey of female figures. This new tween buck would be released again as Jubilee and I hope to see more figures using this buck in the near future.

Going back and looking at this evolution has been a treat. It’s great to see the different sculpts and interpretations throughout the years. Each attempt either at stuffing as much articulation as possible or trying to get the female form correct has been enjoyable to watch. In the end, I’m impressed with the current Hasbro attempts and I look forward to the continued evolution.

Women of Marvel Legends Red She-Hulk

Women of Marvel Legends Hasbro’s announcement of the upcoming Marvel Legends females in various assortments at SDCC this year had me going through my boxes of new and old Marvel Legends to see how the female has developed over the years.

Boba Fett12This is how exclusives should be done. This is Boba Fett in his “prototype armor,” which is a figure exclusive to Walgreens stores. Boba Fett in his much more recognizable and more iconic look was previously released as both an SDCC exclusive and as a standard retail figure, and that’s a figure that is absolutely necessary to the growing collection of Star Wars Black Series figures. This version of the Fett-man, however? This is more of a nod to the more dedicated Star Wars aficionados. It’s definitely cool that we’re getting him, but a good display doesn’t require this figure’s presence in order to be “complete.”

That being said, I have no doubt Walgreens stores are going to see an uptick in foot traffic as fans and collectors hunt for this figure because, let’s be honest here, any version of Boba Fett is pretty much a must-have figure. So how about we take a look and see what this figure brings to the table?

Check out the video below, and be sure to read on for some further thoughts and some more pics!

Aside from the new deco, it’s exactly the same figure that already saw release. The only difference here is literally just the paint job, so if you already have the standard or SDCC Boba Fett, you know exactly what to expect — this one is just much more… “white.”

The white invariably makes me think “Stormtrooper,” so for my purposes, this Boba Fett will serve as an elite Stormtrooper commander on my shelves. According to the brief blurb on the back of his box, he was originally envisioned to be something of a “super trooper,” so that totally works.

Boba Fett8

His weapons are exactly the same as the standard figure’s as well, only this time they’re simply cast in black plastic and feature zero additional paint apps. The plastic used for his weapons is the same slightly rubbery plastic we saw with the first release, so again, you should know what to expect.

Side by side, they look different enough that the prototype figure can be justified as an addition to the collection. They actually look pretty cool when displayed together, so maybe this version can serve as another “Fett” character — Albino Fett? Er… probably not.

Boba Fett9This figure is exclusive to Walgreens stores in the US, and he is just starting to trickle out, so if you’re interested in one for yourself, I’d start looking right about now. Most stores are getting a random assortment of about three figures, so if one store doesn’t have Fett, the next store may. In short, tracking this guy down may require some leg work. That’s why it’s cool that he isn’t essential. But, again, if we’re being honest, then we know that every version of Boba Fett is essential, don’t we?

Happy hunting!

Discuss on our forums!

Hasbro – Star Wars Black Series 6-inch Boba Fett (Prototype Armor) This is how exclusives should be done. This is Boba Fett in his “prototype armor,” which is a figure exclusive to Walgreens stores.

Diamond Select Universal Monsters Son of Frankenstein Featured

Today is Frankenstein Day in honor of Mary Shelley’s birthday. I just bought Son of Frankenstein yesterday with no knowledge of this fact. It’s weird how things work out like that. 

Before I begin though I have to admit that I’ve never seen Son of Frankenstein. I’m not a big Universal Monsters fan. I know of the movies and have seen a few a long, long time ago but it’s mostly just passing knowledge of the characters. But I do love me some good action figures. And when I saw this and the Creature from the Black Lagoon I just had to pick them up because they looked like great action figures. And Franky definitely is pretty great.

The packaging is not anything special. It does it’s job well with the branding and the descriptions and the protecting of my figure from other grubby mitts.

Inside the packaging is one hell of a Frankenstein figure. The sculpting, the paints, the articulation, all absolutely fantastic. I was actually kind of surprised, which is totally my fault for letting this figure, hell, the whole line, slip under my radar until I saw it in Toys R Us. From the top of his head to the bottom of his feet is filled with excellent sculpting detail. A day later I’m still finding subtle little things in the sculpt.

Paint is no slouch either. The skin is a pasty green with a wash that just makes the figure look sick, which is a good thing. The fur vest has a heavy wash that makes the details just pop out at you. Add that to some weathering of the pants with a drybrush of gray and brown over black and you have a figure that looks like he walked right off the movie screen. Or at least stills that I researched.

To top it all off, Frankenstein is packed with articulation. Well, I say packed, there is no torso joint because of the fur vest but the rest is all accounted for, including the new style hinge and swivel ankles. That’s right, Frank has rocker ankle! His legs are hindered by the vest but this figure has no trouble standing in any pose you could imagine a reanimated mishmash of corpses could get. No ninja kicks, but why would you want that? I break down all the articulation in my video review.

When I was standing in Toys R Us contemplating this purchase, on top of just wanting a good action figure I was also considering fudging him into my Marvel display. My brain was telling me that the old Marvel Frankenstein wore a fur torso vest or shirt and while I was right, Franky’s head in the comics didn’t really match the Universal Monster look. And then there is the size discrepancy.

Diamond Select Universal Monsters Son of Frankenstein Comparison 2

This figure is HUGE! While I could kind of justify the size or look separately as reasons to slip him into my Marvel display, together they are just a double whammy as to why I can’t. But that doesn’t mean he will meet his fate in a storage bin. He’s going up with my movie figures. And really, that’s where he should be.

I forgot to take pictures of the included base and severed arm but you can see them in the package shots and video. Bad Robo! The accessories are what makes this a Toys R Us exclusive while the the Diamond exclusive has a more elaborate base.

Diamond Select Universal Monsters Son of Frankenstein Diamond Exclusive

Best of all, the Son of Frankenstein figure only costs $14.99. Wait, let me double check my receipt because I haven’t typed that price in a review in a while. Yup, $14.99. That’s is just insane for an exclusive action figure that’s nearly nine inches tall and has the sculpt, paint, and articulation this figure does. Crazy!

So, basically, go buy this figure. Go now. Yeah, the fur shirt is a little weird to anyone with just a passing knowledge of Son of Frankenstein, but the figure is so good that it makes me like the fur. Yeah. He’s that good. Diamond Select knocked this one out of the park.

Universal Monsters Select Son of Frankenstein Today is Frankenstein Day in honor of Mary Shelley’s birthday. I just bought Son of Frankenstein yesterday with no knowledge of this fact.

SH MonsterArts MOGUERA (30)

Godzilla is Godzilla. I know that’s probably the smartest comment you’ve seen all day, but when you hear the name Godzilla you pretty much know what you’re getting. When you want to see some nutzoid designs, you’ve got to spread your focus to the larger Godzilla universe beyond the gigantic green dude. That’s where you end up with big robots like M.O.G.U.E.R.A., which stands for Mobile Operation Godzilla Universal Expert Robot Aero-Type.


M.O.G.U.E.R.A. is an updated version of a similar creature called, simply, Moguera, from a 1957 movie called The Mysterians. That earlier version showed up later on the TV show Godzilla Island, where presumably the Skipper kept hitting Godzilla in the head with his skipper hat. M.O.G.U.E.R.A. showed up in his updated and acronymed form in Godzilla Vs. Space Godzilla, and that’s the form that this toy represents.


M.O.G.U.E.R.A. is the third MonsterArts figure I’ve bought from the Godzilla universe now, and one constant among them is an extreme level of faithfulness to what’s on screen. These figures are a lot like holding a small 3D screenshot. With some deft photoshopping, I’m pretty positive that a toy could be easily inserted into a screen capture from the movie and nobody would be the wiser. It’s scary accurate. He’s got a ton of panel details and looks every bit as metal as he’s supposed to be. On that note, M.O.G.U.E.R.A. is a heavy toy. There are some die-cast elements to him, so he’s got a nice heft, and the sculpt and paint are so immaculate it’s hard to tell which parts are plastic and which are metal.


Articulation is a bit of a mix, which I knew going in. His design is set up so there are going to have to be some concessions to some of his articulation points. While I’m usually a proponent of as much articulation as possible, I’m willing to let some of that hampered movement slide because he has a bit more than I was expecting.
His head will turn, but only slightly. It’s on a ball joint, so you can get some left and right motion out of it, but if you try and turn it too far, it will pop off. His nosedrill, however, spins.
His shoulders have a wide range of movement, and he can put his arms straight out by his side without problem. His elbows bend, but the design does get in the way slightly, so he can’t quite get a full 90 degrees, but he can get enough to aim his pincers at his opponent. Pincer hands can pop off, so there is a full rotation there.


He has some waist swivel; there’s about as much give there as there is in his head.

SH MonsterArts MOGUERA (22)
His legs are where the majority of the stunting comes in. While his legs themselves are fully articulated, with ball joints at the hips and full knee articulation, the large armored section that covers the front and back of his legs pretty much renders that articulation moot. He can get a little forward and backward motion, but he won’t be doing any lunging or sidekicks.


His tail has two points of articulation.


M.O.G.U.E.R.A. comes with a great range of accessories. He comes with a pair of permanently closed pincers and an alternate opening set that allow you to see the missile inside. Since this second set closes to resemble the actual permanently closed set, I just use the opening set as my default. Both missiles are removable and peg into the end of a long segmented missile contrail to give M.O.G.U.E.R.A. that “just fired” look. There are supports to hold up the contrails if you want him posed with them a long time and want to prevent warping, but they’re sturdy enough to be posed without the supports for a limited time he also comes with a chest maser that can be plugged into a hole in his chest. Press a button on his back to pop out the default chest piece and the maser can be inserted into his chest. He also comes with a blast effect that needs support from one of the included stands in order to stay in mid-burst.

SH MonsterArts MOGUERA (29)
His final accessories are a few segments of a city block that you can have him loom over.

SH MonsterArts MOGUERA (21)
M.O.G.U.E.R.A. also has the ability to be transformed into flight mode. He comes with a second neck to allow you to pose him looking ahead while flying. It’s not a mode I see myself using all too often, but it is a neat alternative.

SH MonsterArts MOGUERA (27) SH MonsterArts MOGUERA (28)
M.O.G.U.E.R.A. Is a spectacular-looking figure and a welcome addition to my growing Godzilla collection. He’s got play appeal and he has shelf appeal.

He’s still available at Amazon

Discuss on the forum

Bandai – S.H. MonsterArts M.O.G.U.E.R.A. Godzilla is Godzilla. I know that’s probably the smartest comment you’ve seen all day, but when you hear the name Godzilla you pretty much know what you’re getting.

Knife Fight

As part of the 50th anniversary collection, Hasbro released a vehicle boxed set featuring Flint with an updated V.A.M.P. MKII based on its vintage look and a Cobra Eel with Night Landing Raft. This set was originally released as an SDCC exclusive, and, like many exclusives, it had a retail version that hit shortly after. Today we’ll be checking out the retail version of the latest G.I. Joe vehicle set: Danger at the Docks.

The packaging is pretty standard fare. It’s eye catching thanks to the always fun artwork that the Joe brand is known for, and the two figures are packaged in a window so as to be visible. The box is surprisingly small for containing so much, but of course this is due to the fact that assembly is required.

Flint and the V.A.M.P. MKII

Repair to the V.A.M.P.

Although most of it has been seen before, the sculpting on this entire set is top-notch. The V.A.M.P. is an update that really keeps its vintage flare. All the details that you’d expect are sculpted: rocket launchers, removable water canisters, tow hitches, etc. It’s just a fun vehicle that I would have loved to play with as a kid. The truck has to be assembled, but once completed, has a relatively sturdy feel to it, although I did have some trouble snapping the doors on. One thing to note is that the instructions omit the part about connecting the cables to the rocket launcher, so be sure you do that before you snap it together. And, of course, each vehicle comes with a decal sheet.

Flint is another great update to his classic look, and Hasbro has made good use out of old parts. He now has the ribbed turtleneck that the Joes seem to love, and his sleeves are a good bit longer than the vintage figure, but I think it works. Flint comes with a pistol, shotgun, two knives, and some pretty cool webgear for his shotgun shells. Articulation is standard and Flint has the jointed wrists, but no cool rocker ankles. The construction is top-notch and I didn’t have any issues with gummy plastic like I did with my recently purchased 50th anniversary Destro.

Flint1

The paint on Flint is decent, although there is a bit of slop here and there, and the vehicle is as basic as most Joe vehicles. The real topic of conversation is the SDCC vs. retail versions of this set. The SDCC version has Flint and the V.A.M.P. painted in the vintage colors with the Cobra Eel and Night Landing craft sporting the more modern look. The retail version has the opposite. Flint and the V.A.M.P. take the modern approach while the Eel and raft are in their classic colors. Fans will surely grumble, but it’s a smart move on Hasbro’s part to get collectors to buy two sets. I personally prefer the vintage paint on the figures and the modern paint on the vehicles, but, sadly, I’ll just have to settle for the retail combination.

Flint vs. Cobra

Cobra Eel and the Night Raft

eel on the move

Cobra Eel was in my top five favorite G.I. Joes as a kid, so it’s always a pleasure seeing him on the toy shelves.

Cobra Eel

The Night Raft is the same vehicle that was released way back in 1985. This thing is nearly 30 years old, and other than perhaps having the rope around the boat be a separate piece, I don’t see too many ways to improve the sculpt. It’s simple, a lot of fun, and actually floats. I’m not the biggest fan of the mounted machine gun, so that’ll most likely be left off. I definitely would have preferred the SDCC version of the raft, but you can’t really argue with that classic Cobra blue.

Cobra Eel is another mix of existing parts that work extraordinarily well, but it’s always been the gear that makes him such a fun figure to own. Eel comes with his helmet (w/ air hose), back pack, spear gun, machine gun, and two sets of flippers. One set of flippers is the standard pair that plugs into the foot hole like a big snow shoe, while the other is completely awesome. The flippers fit over the boot as it should and there is even a joint that offers some poseability. My one issue is that the mouthpiece and air tubes that connect to the backpack want to pop off every time you look at it, so I definitely see some superglue in his future.

Eel1

eel infiltrates

Another big sell for collectors is the foot locker that is just packed with stuff. I won’t even attempt to inventory what’s in there — just know it’s overflowing with guns, knives, and even a few hatchets. The lockers themselves have holes and pegs so that you can stack them, which is an interesting addition, but unless they start releasing these lockers with single figures, one is probably all I’ll get.

weapons locker

Now that’s a knife…

The G.I. Joe 50th anniversary sets are really bringing the value these days, and at $29.99, this is another win for team Hasbro. You get two well-executed figures, two FUN vehicles, a weapons locker, and a metric ton of accessories.

Yo Joe. Yo Joe, indeed.

Flint vs. Eel

Thanks for reading!

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Hasbro – G.I. Joe: Danger at the Docks As part of the 50th anniversary collection, Hasbro released a vehicle boxed set featuring Flint with an updated V.A.M.P.

Hasbro-Star-Wars-Black-Series-Darth-Vader-Review-header

“You underestimate the power of the Dark Side. If you will not fight, then you will meet your destiny.”

When a new (and popular) action figure line gets around to making a figure of a property’s most iconic and popular character, you know there will be plenty of online chatter, debate, and discussion. Hasbro’s Star Wars Black Series is certainly no exception, and with the upcoming release of the fifth series, we are finally getting that iconic character in Darth Vader. With the exception of possibly Mickey Mouse (Vader’s cousin by marriage), there may not be any fictional character out there that is more recognizable than old Anakin Skywalker, so, as you can imagine, even ahead of his release, discussion and debate are already running high. Well, we might be adding more fuel to the fire by getting Vader a bit early, but here he is, in all of his dark and plastic glory.

Hasbro-Star-Wars-Black-Series-Darth-Vader-Review-side-blade

Remember the original point of the Black Series line: to get us Star Wars figures in 1:12 scale (for the first time) and have them be the ultimate representations of the characters. Now, that could be for different costumes/incarnations/appearances/whatever, but delivering Star Wars action figures with care and detail like never before was the whole original point. Now, the measure of that success could be a whole debate on its own, but I would personally award the line a low “B-” or a high “C+” for the work done so far. We have gotten a lot of great characters, so I cannot argue with diversity (though, they could come a little faster), but the overall success of execution varies greatly from character to character. On the one hand, you have figures like Darth Maul and the Sand Trooper that are solid “A+” offerings, but then there are figures like Obi-Wan Kenobi and R2-D2 that fare much lower in terms of success. Most of the figures fall somewhere in between, though, and little improvements like paint, articulation choices, and material usage could go a long way.

With most everything we have seen so far, I think collectors have been okay with being okay on several issues. That is to say, people know that improvements can be made, but figures still get a lot of love because there are good parts too, and everyone that collects the 1:12 scale REALLY wants Star Wars. So Han Solo and Jedi Luke are regarded (mostly) as overall successes while still having very minimal and flat paint jobs, especially on their faces. A figure like Obi-Wan needs a lot more work to get him to be successful, but, even with him, you can tell that the work Gentle Giant is doing has been very, very solid. Hopefully that trend will continue and Hasbro will utilize them for most of the work on this line.

Most of the issues seem to be coming from the final production phase, and while that is completely correctable, the outcries have not been so loud as to cause Hasbro to scramble and respond. Yet. See, Darth Vader is going to be the absolute barometer for this line up to this point, so his success as a figure will actually have a likely impact to the line as a whole. If fans cannot get a good Darth Vader, then what is the point, ya know? This might be part of the reason it took over a year to get him into the line, but we are now able to see if he as been worth the wait. Well, has he?

The short answer is, “kinda,” but you just knew you would be getting the longer answer with the article. Fans were already on the prowl over the possible issues with the likeness of his iconic helmet, so that would be a matter of discussion no matter what, but there are several things going on with this figure, a lot of them are good, some of them are not. The fact that the verdict is split is probably enough for some people to riot because Vader should be perfect, and, really, I can see the point, but I would be remiss if I did not say that there are some really great things going on with this figure as well. Let’s dive in, and we will start with the tough stuff and save the good for the end. I like to end on a high note.

Simply put, I have three major areas nitpicks with this figure: the helmet, the soft goods, and the left hand. Now, my level of issue varies wildly between these things, but they are issues for me nonetheless. I realize that I am generally easy to please with toys, so you might find some things that are more of an impact, but these things always vary from collector to collector. Or, I could be too hard on this figure and maybe I am making issues out of nothing, so you can let me know in the comments below if that is the case too.

To start with the easy one, I don’t like the left hand on this figure. It is posed in that super-iconic “reaching” scene pose from the big climax of the Empire Strikes Back, and while that seems like a great choice on the surface, there are a few things wrong with it. First, this figure, by nature of the removable helmet and card back art alone, is Darth Vader from Return of the Jedi, so that makes the pose of the hand inaccurate right away. Now, normally I would not get into such a fuss over something like that, but since we are BOUND to get a Vader from ESB in this line too, and the fact that the hand severely limits the figure’s ability to be posed with both hands wielding the lightsaber, it is off-putting to me. I don’t know, it could be argued that this is a “force choke” hand as well, but it still inhibits that grip. This figure ships along side Jedi Luke Skywalker, so you are SUPPOSED to pose these babies locked in a duel, so the grasping hand throws that off, which is a shame. Am I being too harsh? I don’t think I am, really.

Hasbro-Star-Wars-Black-Series-Darth-Vader-Review-attack

The second major issue I have with the figure is the use of the soft goods. For the sake of full disclosure, if you don’t know, I am (usually) very much against the use of soft goods on action figures. However, with this line I have been more open to them and the custom made cloaks I have gotten for my Jedi figures have actually improved them in my eyes, so I can be good with cloth being a part of this line. That being said, I think the cape itself is great and I have no issues with it at all; it is big and flowing, but the material is soft enough that it can look natural. I am not as big of a fan of the cloth used on the “skirt” piece, and I really don’t like what is used on the torso.

Hasbro-Star-Wars-Black-Series-Darth-Vader-Review-troopers

As iconic as it may be, there is no denying that Darth Vader’s outfit is pretty strange. Now, some of it has to be functional to, you know, keep him alive, but much of it is to project a threatening visage of the biggest badass in the galaxy. Then there is a skirt. I have always found it weird and it is especially apparent in figure form, but Hasbro was kind of behind the 8-ball on this. It has to be present or the costume would be inaccurate, but it has to be flexible, otherwise all of that articulation would be useless. I know there could have been some possible soft rubbers used for this, but the fact that the skirt is cloth is not what bugs me about it so much, it is just that there is a LOT of it. I personally think they could have gone with less and it would have looked better, but for posing sake, you kind of have to navigate your way around it so it will look natural.

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I do think the cloth on the torso fails, though, especially since it could have been done in plastic and would have looked much better. The plain cloth covers up a lot of great sculpted detail on the shirt, so if it was going to do that anyway, I wish the pieces were sculpted plastic so it would jell better. The articulation could have been preserved the same way we have been seeing in the line so far and it would have kept it from being a giant wall of cloth around some very intricate details. I hope that a change for this is something that Hasbro considers on their next Vader figure.

The third and final issue I take with this figure is also the biggest and most apparent: the helmet. This is Darth-freaking-Vader’s helmet we are talking about here, and it is the ONE thing that you absolutely have to get right for the Black Series line. So, while there are some cool things about it (mostly related to the removable feature that I will get into below), aesthetically, it just misses the mark. Now, before I get into this, obviously what we got was what was requested, so the artistic choices/changes were driven from either Hasbro or Disney/Lucasfilm’s direction. I say this because the details are solid, so the issues with the helmet are not something that you can probably pin on Gentle Giant.

So what is the main issue with the helmet? Well, really, it is just that it looks off. Personally, I think it looks too big (think the Vader send-up Dark Helmet) and that probably comes from the fact that the helmet is removable. Frankly, this could have been an opportunity to include two different heads (like has been done a lot with this line), but at the same time, I can see Hasbro’s desire to be able to recreate the “unmasking” scene from RotJ. That being said, having a good looking helmet is more important to me and aside from the opportunity to take a picture of it for this review, I will likely never pose my figures with Luke holding his unmasked and broken father.

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Along with looking too big, the “eyes” on the helmet look, well, a little sad. I think that has a bit to do with the shape of the eyes as well as the elongated mask as it moves to the jaw line, but this figure just does not elicit Vader’s classic visage to me. Now, I know the helmet changed, even from movie to movie, so I need to go over with a fine-toothed comb because this may very well match the RotJ look, but it still feels a bit off to me. The reddish eyes don’t speak to me and I think it makes him look less imposing, but that might be a personal preference. I don’t know, maybe the Episode 4 or 5 helmet is burned into my brain more, but it seems like it should be slightly smaller and more sleek. Plus, that damned dome needs to be SHINY and that is just not the case here. I am going to hit this with some gloss coat or Future wax, but it just doesn’t shine and reflect like it should.

Am I being too harsh on this? Is there something I am missing? That very well could be the case, or maybe my expectations were too high for this, I just wanted Vader’s helmet to be PERFECT. I highly suspect that this is a production process thing, so I would really like to see the original sculpt or even a prototype output before the molds were cut and hidden head was accommodated. At any rate, I am already clamoring for another incarnation of Vader.

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Now, all that being said, there are still a lot of things about this figure that I do like. There is a TON of great sculpted detail throughout on this figure, and the majority of the costume hits all of the perfect notes. I love the texturing and detail in the suite pieces on the arms, legs and torso, and the little “control pad” doohickeys are all well represented. He has giant black boots, and those work with the figure’s large stature to tower over most of the others in this line, so the height and silhouette of the figure are both really nice. The shoulder/chest overlay is fine and is made of a soft plastic that does not inhibit much of the articulation, but the shoulder pads are silver, and I *think* they should be black. That is getting really punchy, though.

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I actually like the Sebatian Shaw Vader head as well, and the sculpt does the look a lot of justice. It really captures the sullen look of Vader as he speaks to Luke, knowing his fate. The head is actually painted a lot better than most of the human heads in the line, but it is a little shiny for my tastes. The internal part of the helmet is really cool too, and the details from the side of the mask and the “voice” section are all well done. Since the helmet is removable, I’m glad it comes off in two pieces for accuracy’s sake.

Vader has all of the articulation that you can pretty much expect from a SWB figure, and none of it is inhibited to the point of note. This figure’s hips are a little loose, so I am hoping that is not endemic, but even so, they are not that bad. This figure does have different neck/head articulation than the rest as the joint is actually set into the torso, instead of at the top of the head. I am sure this has to do with the removable helmet aspect, but you can throw away your dreams of putting Chewbacca’s head on Vader’s body right now.

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Finally, Vader does come with his iconic red-bladed lightsaber and it is executed well. The hilt might be a little short, but it can still be gripped easily with both hands (if the left one wasn’t so splayed). I do kind of wish that it had a loop to hook on his belt like Luke does, but I am not going to complain because there is no way I’m displaying this figure without lightsaber firmly in hand for dueling.

Sorry, I have gone on too long by this point, so I am going to wrap it up. Just to try to boil down my feelings on this figure: for the most part, it satisfies some of my itch for a 1:12 Darth Vader figure and there is a lot to like, but I am already dreaming of an ANH or ESB Vader. I think making a solid helmet will help with a lot of my issues, but making sure the shape comes through production well is also an area of focus. I really wish this would have been the “perfect” Vader right out of the gate, but there is NO WAY that more Darth Vader figures aren’t coming in this line. Angles play a big part of photographing this figure, so he looks better in some shots than others, but there is no denying that he looks cool surrounded by a bunch of Stormtroopers. So grab this Vader to get your fix, but be sure to sound off about what you think the next incarnation needs to put the Ultimo Hombre squarely at the top of the Black Series pile.

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Additional Links

Hasbro – Star Wars Black Series Darth Vader “You underestimate the power of the Dark Side. If you will not fight, then you will meet your destiny.”

Threezero Mazigner Aphrodite featured

Mazinger Z. I love Mazinger Z. Great little anime from back in the day. I missed out on Threezero’s Mazinger, but it looks like there is another opportunity to get into the Mazinger Z fold with Threezero’s Aphrodite. And she looks amazing! Read on for the full press release:

We want to introduce you Aphrodite A, which is the second figure from the Mazinger Z collectibles line. Aphrodite A is a fully-articulated (including the fingers) and highly detailed collectible figure that stands 15″ (approximately 38cm) tall and includes light-up LED eyes, cockpit and afterburners on her backpack . In correspondence to the upgrades she receives in Mazinger Z story, Aphrodite A also includes Koushiryoku Missile that actually eject from her chest.

We will open the pre-order for this figure on September 5th 09:00am Hong Kong time at our online store: http://www.threezerostore.com

Aphrodite A price at http://www.threzerostore.com is going to be USD 290 / HKD 2250 and it will be coming with the following exclusive item: severed head of Garada K7. We want to share two concept art images with you (please see the album), while we are working on the final version

Aphrodite A is a giant mech originally built as a symbol for peace by Dr. Yumi from the remains of Aphrodite for geological research. Although this mech originally lacked weapons, it was later upgraded for combat with the Koushiryoku Missile for offensive battle so that his daughter, Sayaka Yumi could pilot Aphrodite A alongside Koji Kabuto in Mazinger Z.

Mazinger Z is a Japanese manga written and illustrated by Go Nagai in 1972 that has since been adapted and continued in various multimedia formats including various manga, anime and video game incarnations. The original manga and anime tell the story of Koji Kabuto and the titular mecha Mazinger Z as they fight the Mechanical Beasts of Dr. Hell with the support of his partner and love interest, Sayaka in Aphrodite A, and his younger brother Shiro Kabuto.

Aphrodite A specs:
* figure stands 15 inches (approximately 38cm) tall.
* highly detail mechanic parts.
* incredibly paint application to highlight all the details with weathering effect.
* articulating fingers.
* Koushiryoku Missile (ejectable missiles)
* lights up eyes, cockpit and both afterburner on her backpack.

© GO NAGAI/DYNAMIC PLANNING

Morning Rush – Threezero Aphrodite A – full reveal and pre-order info Mazinger Z. I love Mazinger Z. Great little anime from back in the day. I missed out on Threezero’s Mazinger, but it looks like there is another opportunity to get into the Mazinger Z fold with…

Funko Pop! Disney: Big Hero 6

We can’t wait for Big Hero 6!

Get ready for the upcoming movie release with this super colorful and super cute Pop! line!

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From Our Sponsors – Big Bad Toy Store 8/28/14

BBTS has a great sale going on right now, so go check ‘em out for some steals and deals!