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July, 2017:

Review – Marvel Legends – Dormamu Wave – Nico Minoru

Runaways isn’t a Marvel series I ever really expected to get any Marvel Legends from.  I kind of doubt we get too many more from this “team” either, all of them are kids and a lot of them essentially just have plain clothes costumes, which Marvel Legends doesn’t really do too often.  I may be completely wrong though, there is a new TV series coming this fall.  It kind of seems like a fluke that we got Nico Minoru aka Sister Grimm.  She does sort of fit in with the Doctor Strange wave, since the figures are all “Magic themed” for the most part.

Marvel Legends Nico Minoru (Sister Grimm)

So, I like this figure, for it’s uniqueness.  It’s definitely a different looking design for a Marvel Legends, you don’t get too many “goth girls” in this line.  The look does a good job of capturing the idea of the character.  I have to say though that the idea is about all you really could capture here.  Like I mentioned above, most of the Runaways are just kids in street clothes, and they don’t really have regular outfits.  So the look isn’t super specific to Nico Minoru, but it fits who she is.

Marvel Legends Nico Minoru (Sister Grimm)

The bigger gripe I have here is the staff, which doesn’t quite look right for her Staff of One.  For starters, it’s not particularly Staff shaped, it’s about half the length it really should be.  The head also isn’t really proper either, the ball should be part of the staff and outside of the circle.  I believe at some point she got a new staff, but I’m not positive on that, but it’s possible that this design is based more on the design of a second Staff.  Still, It feels like a pretty glaring error since the Staff is essentially the center of her abilities and is part of who her character is to such a degree.  It would be like making Captain America’s Shield a star or something and painting it all red just because.

Marvel Legends Nico Minoru (Sister Grimm)

The staff also is way too heavy for the figure to hold well, especially with the included magic effect attached.  The effect looks cool for sure, but her arm joints just aren’t strong enough and the weight just pulls the wrist downward most of the time.  This is something that could have been alleviated with a longer staff too, since the base could be balanced against a lower surface to keep things upright.

Marvel Legends Nico Minoru (Sister Grimm)

Nico Minoru also includes a swapable purple magic arm, which is pretty cool.  All around this figure seems to have a lot of original tooling as well, chest, the boots, the skirt all seem to be unique, though maybe it’s just very clever use of paint on existing molds.  I believe it’s the same shorter girl body that is used for a lot of Spider Girls otherwise, but if it is, it doesn’t seem prone to the awkward posing that body seems to have normally.  She looks fairly natural in a lot of poses.

All in all, I really like this figure.  I just hope it means maybe getting a few more members of the Runaways team in the future.

Game of Thrones – S07E03 – The Queen’s Justice

A lot of talky set up in this episode, though it’s still all good stuff.  The opening chat between Deaneries and Jon was particularly great.  Both standing their ground against each other, both justified in their position against each other, both wanting each other’s support.  Layered in was the pretty good reunion of Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister.  I particularly love when Tyrion was complaining that Jon makes him look like he is a failure at brooding.  Ultimately Jon and Dani both come to a bit of understanding of each other’s position.  Dani grants Jon the right to mine Dragon Glass, though she does not pledge her support to Jon’s cause.  I kind of wonder what she will think of Jon when she learns of his true heritage.

On a side note, there is also a little interesting conversation between Varys and Melisandre, it’s very cryptic but it helps push my little theory more about Agents of the Gods or whatever you want to call them.  These two are definitely two of those, more than meets the eye lurking int he shadows bunch I mentioned a few week ago.

Euron returns his prisoners to Cersei, much to her joy.  The justice she dispenses to Ellaria Sand is pretty good, though the scene is a little clunky and repetitive.

Meanwhile Sansa Stark is showing her leadership prowess again in the North, with concern about how much food stock there is to last through the long winter.  At least someone is thinking ahead, sure they need to survive the Lannisters, and the Night King, but they also need to survive the Long Winter itself.  and unfortunately War consumes a lot of the resources needed to survive.  We also get a nice reunion between Sansa and Bran.  Sansa suggests he is still Lord of the North but Bran doesn’t want the job now that he is the Three Eyed Raven.  Sansa really doesn’t seem to want Jon in charge, which feels like it might become a problem in the long run.

Things wrap up with Dani’s forces taking Casterly Rock, and rather much more easily than expected.  It turns out it’s a bit of a trap.  Euron Greyjoy had swept in behind them and torched the ships that they arrived on, trapping the Unsillied forces on the main land.  Meanwhile most of the Lannister force was off with Jaime Lannister taking Highgarden.  Jaime grants Lady Olenna an easy death, though they have a little chat about how evil Cersei is, and in her last moments, she reveals to Jaime that she knew Joffrey was his son and that she was the one who killed him.  That’s one little mystery solved, though honestly, while tyrion was tried for the crime, she was the one I suspected was the real culprit.  It was pretty obvious that it wasn’t Tyrion to be sure.

I wanted to wrap up today’s post with a bit on Jaime Lannister.  Most of the villains of this series, for who they are, are pretty despicable, with the exception of Jaime.  Oh yes, he has done some disreputable things in his time, but for the most part, he’s just doing his best to do his job and deal with his sister.  He has proven repeatedly, like with Lady Olenna, or when he took Riverrun, and with Tyrion, just to name a few, that he has some level of sympathy and is not really cruel.  Basically, despite being on the “bad guy team” he’s still pretty chivalrous and just does what needs done.  There seems to be a lot of build up to him betraying Cersei, though who knows how that will turn out for him, or Cersei.  He isn’t too happy about Tommin or how the throne was claimed, he doesn’t really like how Euron’s playing out, there was the nudging by Lady Olenna before her death, there’s just lots of set up to provide doubt in Jaime’s mind about the way things are going.  Also notable, because they pointed it out this episode, he has a sword of note, since it’s a Valyrian steel blade.

 

Transformers – Review – Titans Return – Broadside

Broadside is a character that people have been anticipating an update of for a while now, mostly because he was part of the popular Wreckers team int he comics.  He’s one of the few members who hasn’t gotten a new toy in ages, though it’s somewhat understandable why he hasn’t.  Broadside has two alt modes, one is a jet, one is an aircraft carrier.  Working aircraft Carriers in with any level of scale is effectively impossible being possibly the largest vehicles on the planet.

Transformers Titans Return Broadside

There is a vague attempt to make scale work with Broadside.  He includes a set of small aircraft sculpted to resemble the recently released Combiner Wars Aerialbots toys, that can be stuck on the carrier deck using little pegs.  This does have the odd effect int hat it means his Headmaster in “reality” would be larger than Superion, but it’s still a neat effort.  I plan to paint up my Aerialbots at some point since they are all white plastic.

Transformers Titans Return Broadside

Talking about small Aerialbots seems like a funny place to start out discussing a figure, they are just accessories after all.  The thing is, I prefer to discuss the good points before the bad points, and the mini Aerialbots are the only real good point with poor Broadside.  It’s fairly rare that I just flat out don’t like a toy, I try to find some redeeming qualities when possible, but I really just don’t like Broadside, he’s just a big ball of weird design choices and flaws.

Transformers Titans Return Broadside

So, continuing with the carrier mode.  The flat deck essentially consists of a bunch of flippy panels that all sort of but don’t quite mesh together well, which kind of huts the aesthetics of the carrier.  It’s also covered in a lot of ill fitting stickers.  The stickers aren’t the problem on their own, it’s how poorly they fit and how the sticker detail doesn’t even attempt to match the sculpted detailing on the surfaces they attach to.  Then there are the little landing gears on the carrier, which are mostly just used to allow it to sit on a flat surface, except the way they fold up is goofy and they are prone to folding up by mistake when trying to display the carrier.  Lastly the goofy wings on the front end of the carrier.  These wings sort of exist for the Jet mode, except they look goofy over there, as well in Robot mode.  They just are all around poorly executed and get int he way in all three modes than they do help the look.

Transformers Titans Return Broadside

Moving on to the Jet mode.  I will just say, an attempt was made, and leave it there.

Transformers Titans Return Broadside

On the robot, hid design is almost there, he’s nice and beefy and chunky, except his also just sort of gets int he way of himself.  Those previously mentioned Wings just sort of hang off of his shins and get in the way.  The carrier panels hanging off of his shoulders get in the way of the arms and shoulders.  He’s also back heavy so posing him can be a little difficult as well.

Transformers Titans Return Broadside

I think my biggest issue with Broadside is mostly just how close he is in almost every area he misses.  It just makes him frustrating to interact with in every way because everything about him mostly almost works but not quite.   To add insult to injury, he seems to have been shipped alone to a lot of stores, which means he will likely clog up shelves for a while blocking other Voyagers from getting a more widespread release.

Game of Thrones – S07E02 – Stormborn

Dragonstone, Stormborn, this season certainly has some Daenerys themed names for it’s episodes. Things are certainly moving quickly with new alliances and everyone seems to be against Cersei Lannister, with good reason really. Even with those who may still believe Joffrey and Tommen were the proper heirs to the throne, I really don’t see any scenario where Cersei has any rightful claim to the throne. I don’t know the exact line of succession but surely there is some uncle or cousin or something that would be next in succession.

Daenerys gathers together her allies and lays out her plans to take Casterly Rock from the Lannisters while the others lay siege to King’s Landing. Unfortunately, Yara’s fleet encounters Euron’s Iron Fleet mid transport.  Things don’t go particilarly great and Theon abandons his poor sister to Euron, so much for his redemption arc.

Melisandre also shows up and advises Dani to align with Jon Snow in the North. Kind of convenient since Jon is on a quest to get Dragonglass from Dragonstone, where Daenerys now sits. unfortunately the other houses of the North don’t feel the same way and don’t trust the Targarians or Tyrion Lannister.  Jon insists that they need Dani’s army and dragons to defeat the Night King, and heads south to pledge his allegiance to Daenerys.

We also got a nice little reunion between Arya and Hot Pie. I’m not sure we have seen Hot Pie since Season 2. As well as a reunion with her wolf, Nymeria.  Hot Pie suggests she head north to meet with her brother Jon, which she does.  Apparently killing Cersei isn’t all she wants.

Review – Transformers – Titans Return – Perceptor

Due to it’s hodge podge origins in various Japanese toy lines, primarily Diaclone and Microman, the Transformers picked up a few less practical alt modes in it’s early days.  The most well known is Soundwave’s cassette player.  Perceptor is one of those characters with a less conventional (ie not a car or a plane) modes with his Microscope mode.  The previous Generations remake of Perceptor changed things a bit giving him a Snow truck alternate mode instead of his traditional Microscope.  Titans Return has been all about keeping with the designs of the original toys as much as possible, with updated modern engineering, so Perceptor is once again, a Microscope.

Transformers Titans Return Perceptor

You could argue that he’s actually a sort of medical bay for the Titan Masters however, since the stage of the microscope is designed for a Titan Master to lay in to be examined by the scope.  The scope itself is functional as a microscope, though it’s extremely low power and kind of hard to look through due to it’s small size.  If you put say, a finger in front of it, you will get an enlarged image of your fingerprint however, which is a nice touch.

Transformers Titans Return Perceptor

Transformers Titans Return Perceptor

The overall design is very reminiscent to the original Perceptor toy from the 80s, though he’s quite a bit smaller, the original figure was somewhere between modern Deluxe and Voyager sizes.   His transformation is where a lot of the flaws come through.  It’s simple enough, but the sliding mechanism for the microscope feels extremely stiff and prone to breaking.  I have not broken one, it just very much feels like a part that could easily BE broken if care isn’t given.  There are alsoa  lot of unused extra bits on his body for the undocumented Tank Mode

Transformers Titans Return Perceptor

Transformers Titans Return Perceptor

The original Perceptor had an attack mode which amounted to folding him into a square and using the scope as a tank canon.   There are definitely vestigial bits for something similar to be done on the Titans Return toy, but the instructions do not show anything about how to properly transform him into a tank.  There are extra flip out treads, extra flipping parts on his chest, extra tabs on his legs and shoulders.  It’s even a great way to better incorporate the little Titan Master drivers into the mode.  It’s just not documented, which is kind of tragic.

Transformers Titans Return Perceptor

Aside from the missing Tank Mode, I really enjoy this figure.  I’ve always been partial to Perceptor because of his goofy Microscope mode, though I can see how this may be seen as boring by some people.  The microscope actually having some very basic functionality just makes this guy even more interesting and good in my book.

Review – Mafex – The Dark Knight Rises Batman (v2)

DC is over here trying to reboot it’s cinematic universe and here I am still stuck on the Nolan Batman films.  Maybe things will shape up and the new Batman will end up being amazing, but for now, I’m satisfied with Christian Bale’s take on the character.  I really just don’t feel Ben Affleck as Batman and I don’t like the design of the newer suit(s) as much.  As such, for now, I’m sticking with this Batman from Mafex as my “Batman in toy form”.  This is the second release of this figure, it fixes a lot of the quality issues that plagued the first release.  This seems to be quite a trend with Mafex, a lot of their figures get “second runs” with better joints.

Mafex The Dark Knight Rises Batman

Not every issue was fixed.  One common problem I’ve had with all of the Mafex figures I own is the head/neck joint pop off way too easily.  I have this issue with both The Joker and Superman.  I don’t know if the peg needs to be longer or the ball bit needs to be a bit larger, but the heads just tend to pop off too easily on these guys.

Mafex The Dark Knight Rises Batman

Otherwise the figure is pretty solid.  I particularly love the cloth cape, cloth goods at this scale tend to be great or garbage, and this one leans more to the great side.  The sculpt and scale are all nice, he fits in well with other 6″ figures as well as a lot of other Batman related toys.  The unmasked head looks very much like Christian Bale.

Mafex The Dark Knight Rises Batman

He includes a variety of appropriate accessories as well, a Bat-Grappeling hook, the EMP rifle that he uses during the bike chase, and a few different hands.  A few batarangs or flash grenades might have been nice to flesh out his accessory count a bit.  It’s not a bad assortment but considering how much The Joker included it’s a bit of a let down.  It’s not nearly as anemic as Superman or Catwoman however, both basically came with nothing.

Mafex The Dark Knight Rises Batman

Mafex The Dark Knight Rises Batman

The bottom line is, this is probably the best figure of this version of Batman available.  The only other real releases for the Nolan Batman were from Mattel, and they tend to be kind of mediocre.  This is the “old” Batman design though, which may be a turn off.  The price is a bit higher as well being an Import, though a lot of the older Mafex releases go for fairly cheap compared to most imports (ie Figuarts and Figma).  If you are interested in this figure, definitely go for the Version 2.0 release.  It fixes the joint problems and includes the unmasked Bruce Head.  The easiest way to tell the difference is if it includes the Bruce Wayne head or not.

Review – Marvel Legends – Sandman Wave – Spider Gwen

In an alternate universe on another Earth, instead of Peter Parker, Spider-man, being bitten by that radioactive spider granting him super human spider powers, Peter’s classmate and sometimes girlfriend Gwen Stacy instead took the hit.  In that world was born, Spider Gwen.  It’s kind of a plot born from a What-If? idea, expanded into it’s own full comic series.  It’s a pretty good comic series too, and an interesting take on the Spider-man concept.  As a popular character, it was inevitable that there would be a Spider Gwen figure released for Marvel Legends.

Marvel Legends Spider Gwen

The basic execution here is decent.  The look and design of the character is captured well here, the swapable head and hood bits are nice.  She’s a decent alright Basic Spider Gwen.  The sculpt and paint are good, including on the Gwen Stacy head.

Marvel Legends Spider Gwen

Most of problems I have with this figure stem from my more common complains with the Marvel Legends line as a whole.  I’ve seen this body used on several other spider girls and figures, the legs always feel off on it no matter how they are positioned and the lack of double jointed elbows hurts.  I also hate the lack of hand options.  She has a fist and a thwip hand, that’s it, some relaxed hands, two fists, you know, all of the things the regular Spider-man mold gets these days, would be great.  In the comic Gwen Stacy is part of a rock band, but it’s not like she is constantly throwing out the horns.  Also, a cellphone accessory would be great.  Spider Gwen is always using her cell phone, and having it as an accessory would be a lot of fun.

Marvel Legends Spider Gwen

She does match the style of other Marvel Legends at least, she is just limited in a lot of funky ways by this mediocre base figure that she’s using, which is a shame.  If you just want a cheap Spider Gwen to go in a Spidery display, she serves that purpose, but personally, I’m considering replacing her with the recently released Revoltech, which is considerably more dynamic of a figure (at a higher price tag).

Game of Thrones – S07E01 – Dragonstone

Arya really got a lot of good moments here, we get a secondary wrap up with the Freys. Jon and Sansa seem to have a bit of friction going on but things are rolling along alright in the north, we get some Sam moments at the Citidel, and it seems not all is well between Cersei and Jaime in King’s Landing. I have to say the moment with Arya and the Freys was a little bit disappointing, if only because it was so incredibly obvious what was going on. We know she killed Walder last episode, and we know she can replace people, and here we are, suddenly Walder is alive again.

Poor Sam, it seems that living in the Citidel isn’t quite what he had hoped. He’s spending his days cleaning up shit and putting away books int he library. It seems being a maester is less glamorous than expected. Meanwhile Euron Greyjoy is trying to court Cersei in exchange for his armada, and promises to bring her a priceless gift, which I suspect is a dragon (yeah right, that will happen). I know the show is known for doing the unexpected, but there is no way after 6 season of build up Dani and her army will be defeated by Euron and these Iron Fleet jokers given how much of a nobody he is in the grand scheme of things. Not to mention Dani has already demonstrated that a Dragon is not a slave and basically won’t listen to some random loser.

We also got a bit more with The Hound, Sandor Clegane. It’s not real clear what role he has yet to play here, though I suspect it’ll involve his brother, Gregor, aka The Mountain aka Cersei’s big intimidating possibly undead body guard. Poor Sandor really has nowhere to go, pretty much everyone on all sides hates him with good reason. Unlike Theon Greyjoy, he doesn’t really seem to be interested in trying to redeem himself.

Then of course there is the dramatic return to Westeros of Daenerys Targaryen.  I guess this is the end of the Essos moments and Slaver’s Bay.

I want to wrap up with a bit of speculation. There are a few characters, Sandor Clegane, The Red Woman, Lord Berric, they all are sort of peripheral to the whole grander story, but also keep reoccurring and coming back. They also often have some association with The Gods. I almost wonder if there is something to this, like these people are special, possibly even direct agents of The Gods perhaps, though they may not be aware (though some more aware then others, such as The Red Woman). Like these handful of people will ultimately serve some higher purpose, together. Only time will tell on that one though.