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September, 2017:

Review – Transformers – RiD – Scorponok

Possibly the last of these fun little animal Decepticons we’re going to see is Scorponok.  There’s also a Toys R Us purple colored repaint of this figure called Paralon, who actually really resembles Beast Wars Scoponok, but this review primarily covers the normal brown colored mass released version.  Scorponok’s animal motif is, a scorpion.

Transformers Robots in Disguise Scorponok

In fact, he simply IS a scorpion in his alt mode.  While the other Decepticons all turn into vehicles with animal like themes in robot and beast mode, Scorponok just turns into robot and a scorpion.  Straight out Beast Wars style.  He has a really unique style going for him as well, and a very unique Transformation.  The scorpion mode gives him some really obvious choices for hands, but Scorponok eschews that with a clever trick.

Transformers Robots in Disguise Scorponok

His scorpion claws slide up his arms to become a pair of huge shoulder pauldrons.  No parts forming here, but they are essentially lose pieces at one point.  The effect is neat for sure, but the connections tend to be a little lose on the shoulder joint.  Given their large size they catch anything passing by and easily leverage out of their joint to become crooked or loose.  The end result also means his claws have no real joints in Scorpion mode, which is kind of a lame trade off since Scorpion claws are one of the more versatile and fun joints in scorpion toys.  Who doesn’t live a big set of vicious working pincers?

Transformers Robots in Disguise Scorponok

He also has a ton of fun character in his face and overall design.  His little face with it’s little robot mustache makes him look pretty interesting.  He also has a set of spindly legs that work well despite their small size and his upper body girth.  He also completed his sandy sort of Persian motif with a scimitar weapon.  The sword can be held in robot and scorpion mode as a giant stinger.

Transformers Robots in Disguise Scorponok

Transformers Robots in Disguise Scorponok

Overall, Scorponok isn’t the coolest Decepticon in the line, but he’s still a fun little toy.  He does feel a little small overall, which is probably his biggest downside.  The Paralon repaint kind of fits the name Scorponok a bit better, if you are looking at getting only one, but I find the brown color scheme works better for the figure overall.

Transformers Robots in Disguise Scorponok

 

Nendoroid – Tracer

Good Smile Company makes two lines, primarily, Figma, and Nendoroid.  Both likes primarily deal with anime and video game characters.  Figma is more of a traditional style scale figure, they are generally around 1/12th scale.  Nendoroids are all “Super Deformed” Chibi designs.  Bigs heads and small bodies, sort of similar in style to something like Pop Vinyls in the US, except a zillion times better with articulation and interchangeable parts.

Nendoroid Tracer

I’m not super big on the style, and there are a lot more anime characters I don’t care about int he Nendo line than the Figma line.  That said, the first official figure from Overwatch was Nendoroid Tracer.  I like Overwatch, I play Tracer more than any character, seemed like a good figure to test out the waters on the Nendoroid line.  There’s a Figma Tracer being released later this year and Nendoroid versions of Mei and Mercy are coming up as well.

I had my doubts going into this line.  A lot of those worries were pushed away upon actually getting the figure.  She’s pretty awesome.  I can fully admit, that this style of figure isn’t going to be for everyone, but this little Tracer is pretty adorable and a lot more versatile for poses and action that I expected her to be.  Not every Nendoroid has as many joints as Tracer, only some characters get elbows, many just get swapable arms.  She also pretty much requires the stand due to the size of her head, but it’s low profile and with some work she can be posed without it.

Nendoroid Tracer

I was also worried that she was going to be smaller than she actually is.  She isn’t huge, but she fits in pretty well with some smaller Figma and Figuarts figures.  Really, given her style and related silly factor, she kind of works alright with some larger figures as well.  She would definitely fit with other Nendos since they are all roughly the same size.  She isn’t meant to be a perfect scale representation of Tracer, but she does a pretty good job of being a silly super deformed version.  She has all of the most noteworthy details like her chest piece, glasses and arm fins.  The center bit of her hair is articulated as well, so it can be adjusted a bit or to recreate her “blowing her hair” bit she does in the game.

For acessories she includes her stand, 3 faces, and several sets of hands.  She also includes a pulse bomb, and her two pistols.  The hands are made for gripping her pistols, open palms for throwing the pulse bomb or pegging the pistols on for her spin pose, and a set of closed fists.  There isn’t anyway for her to hold the pulse bomb sadly, though in game she pretty much just tosses it out and runs anyway.

She also includes a little blue plastic piece that can attach tot he stand to represent when she Blinks.  The end effect works pretty well at showing off her overall gimmick of speed and time shifting.  I kind of wish there was a second piece of the Recall Glow but I’m happy with what she came with.

Overall, I really like Nendoroid Tracer.  I’m looking forward to the upcoming Mei to go with her.  The style definitely won’t be to everyone’s taste and she is probably a little pricey for her size, but she is fun to pose and mess with and is a neat representation of the popular character.

Weekly Wednesday Haul – A Fist Full of Comics Edition

Nothing physical new this week, but Amazon was having a pretty amazing sale on Marvel Digital comics, like 90% off on a LOT of books, so I binged a bit and picked up a stack of books I’ve been looking forward to reading.  I once did comics reviews, I may have to start doing it again.  Anyway…

A lot of newer stuff in there, I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge fan of the art style in a lot of older comics.  The two main drivers here were Ms. Marvel and Spider-Gwen, both series I’ve been wanting to read for a while.  I’ve started on both.  I also picked up the Kate Bishop Book because I really enjoy the Hawkeye^2 run.  The same thing can be said of Jessica Jones.  Alies was enjoyable and the Netflix series is my favorite of those shows, so it felt like a no brainer.

Spinning off a bit from Marvel, I’ve heard the Darth Vader series is pretty decent as well.  I’m always kind of wary of Star Wars Expanded Universe stuff, it tends to feel a little Fan-Fic-ish which I don’t care for.  I decided to give this one a go however, and the Doctor Aphra book I believe is related.  Whatever the case, Doctor Aphra I believe is getting a Black Series figure in an upcoming wave, and I’d like to know why.

I was a little hesitant to go for Gwenpool.  I’m not real big on Deadpool, and Gwenpool kind of feels like an even more MEME ridden version of Deadpool.  For what it’s worth I passed on Squirrel Girl for this reason, also I can’t stand the art in Squirrel Girl.

IronHeart Ironman was kind of a random gamble, I know there was some uproar over this book and it’s protagonists so I figured I’d check it out.  Mockingbird was also a random pick up.  I like what I’ve seen of the character elsewhere, so I figure I’d try out her series.

Lastly, Marvel 1602, I have almost zero idea of what this is but it sounded like a neat concept.  I generally like these sort of “re-imagined what if” style stories, probably because they tend ot be self contained while still keeping the idea and spirit of super heroes.

Review – Metroid: Samus Returns (3DS)

The Good

  • Solid game play from a solid franchise
  • Nice little additions and changes from the original Metroid II
  • Good visuals

The Bad

  • Repetitive enemies and play mechanics
  • Bosses are disproportionately difficult compared to everything else
  • Very linear game play for a “Metroidvania” style game.

In Depth

Metroid: Samus Returns is a 3DS update and remake of the original Metroid II on Game Boy.  It’s essentially to Metroid II, what Zero Mission is to the original Metroid.  The maps in Samus Returns are a little closer to the original Metroid II maps than Zero Mission and Metroid, but there are some changes and additions.  Samus Returns adds Super Missiles and power bombs to Samus’ arsenal, for example, and there is a map revealing scope mechanism as well as the addition fo the Grappling beam.  A lot of the added items are things added during Metroid 3, that became regular staples of the series.

The entire game also has a modern overhaul.  Instead of sprites, everything is polygons and the game is playable in 3D mode, though it is a 2D platform title.  Only one new boss uses the 3D mechanics in 3D space, everything else operates in classic 2D Metroid style.  I really enjoy this style of game, so I am admittedly biased towards the play style.  The game is lacking a bit in the Metroidvania department however.  A lot of the areas have 2 or 3 main path loops that the player must traverse and there isn’t a lot of backtracking done aside from picking up items later, and a lot of this backtracking needs to be done close to the end of the game since you don’t even find the weapon needed to unlock these items until later in the game.  The game itself is broken up into 8 Areas, all generically named “Area”.  The Areas are gate blocked by special pedestals that only open the way after collecting a certain number of Metroid DNA samples.  There isn’t a lot of explanation to what these pedestals are but it’s most likely Chozo related, in classic Metroid fashion.

The core of the game is fun, and everything about the remake works well and helps flesh out the game play from the original title.  Metroid II has always been one of the weaker titles in the series and fleshing it out and giving it a bit more connection to the world of Metroid at large.  Despite taking place on the homeworld of the alien Metroid creatures, it’s always felt a little separated.  Partly because even the Metroids themselves are all mutated “mature” versions that don’t fit the usual Bubble with Claws image of what a Metroid is supposed to be.

Which leads into the core problem with this game, and with Metroid II.  The basic plot involves killing Metroids of various types, more powerful than the last, in order to proceed through the game.  There are 4 types of Metroids, not counting the Queen, and you fight each type several times.  These 40 fights end up being extremely samey as a result.  This problem is exacerbated by Alpha and Gamma Metroid being, more or less the same thing and each of the Omega Metroid battles are literally identical.  There is some variation in the fights by using different environments, sometimes over lava or damaging plants or around movement hindering water, but they all use the same general mechanics until you each the Omega Metroids.  Some of the battles have these moments where the Metroid runs off into a nearby room, which honestly just makes things even more tedious since it mostly just means passing a simple and annoying ball mode tunnel puzzle to progress the fight.

This repetition in boss fights isn’t helped by the normal level enemies either, there’s something like 6 or 7 different ones in different colors that you face… over… and over… and over…  They respawn extremely quickly as well, so sometimes just traveling back and forth a room you get to battle the same enemies over and over.  The game also introduces this gimmicky melee counter attack.  Enemies will charge you, you counter them, then you effectively one shot them if the counter hits.  If you miss, or just try to kill the enemy, you get to shoot it normally, often a dozen or more times.  The whole thing is designed around encounter, wait for charge, counter attack, kill, which itself is slow and tedious the 100th time you perform the action.

There is a new boss that’s added to the game that shows up a few times.  A large Chozo digging robot pops up early on, awakened by Samus.  It later shows up during a stage sequence where you must outrun it’s massive destructive drill arms while passing over and through obstacles.  Eventually you battle it out with the boss.  It’s probably the most difficult boss in the game, though not the final boss, and it’s a nice change of pace from the repetition of the Metroids.

Despite the repetition, it’s a fun game.  It’s not the best Metroid title but it’s a welcome update to one of the less enjoyably and probably less played games int he Metroid franchise.  The new additions do a lot of good freshening things up and the updated graphics are a great step up from the cramped old Game Boy title.

Weekly Wednesday Haul – BAF Edition

This week saw the completion of a couple of Build a Figures.  First off, I added the Homemade Suit Spiderman from Spiderman Homecoming.  This also gave me the last piece for the Vulture Build A Figure.  He is pretty awesome with his huge wings, but it still feels like he could have just been say, a $30 deluxe figure or something.  


A while back I started collecting Giant Manparts when Ross had the wave for cheap.  I recall back when this wave was new, I had a delimma on if I wanted Cap from this wave or from the Thanos wave.  Apparently I had chosen Thanos, because it turned out that I didn’t have Giant Man’s head.  I never did finish that Thanos because I opted for the Marvel Select but I went ahead and ordered the head for Giant Man off of eBay.

I have to say, I am kind of disappointed, his arms are stupidly short for proper human proportions.
Lastly, since I have Jessica Jones now, I went ahead and picked up Elektra from the Netflix wave.  I probably was going to get her anyway.  I am still a little iffy on the others for reasons mentioned but that Daredevil is growing on me and I kind of really want to finish Man-Thing.