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July, 2017:

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.

Review – Transformers – RiD – Quillfire

Broken Record time again, I just love the unique style and designs of the Robots in Disguise Decepticon line up.  Quillfire is no exception, with his porcupine themed robot mode.  He also has a very unique squat shape to his design, which just helps give him more character.

Quillfire, unlike Steeljaw, has the benefit of being a late line figure.  That is, he came out in wave 3 or 4, and the designers of the figures have had a chance to work out the new kinks that pop up every new Transformers line.  The neatest part of his design is probably in his head, which Which despite having a hunched look, has an extra joint added that allows for side to side movement.  Given that a lot of recent Transformers have kind of felt like they were cheapening out in places, the neck joint here really feels like a bonus.  It’s something that could easily have been removed.

He also has a functioning jaw on his large head, which helps add to the ascetics in a good way.  Additionally, despite his stocky design, the pose ability is pretty good.  He does unfortunately have a pretty large ugly backpack just sort of hanging off of him, which is kind of meh and though the neck is cool, it is limited compared to your more traditional robot designs.

He is also incredibly brown, which admittedly makes him kind of bland to look at.  He has a repaint named Scatterspike which has a very similar color scheme, which doesn’t help matters on his color scheme.  Like most of RiD, the Transformation is pretty straight forward without too many steps or flippy panels.  He includes two weapons, a hand held gun and a quill knife, both are able to be stored in Vehicle mode.

Despite his boring brown appearance, Quillfire, is a neat and fun little toy.  His repaint Scatterspike probably has a slightly more interesting color scheme since it’s a dark shade of Red, if you are only interested in getting the mold once.  Then again, the browns are a bit more military looking if that’s your thing.  He’s a decent toy, just not much to look at.

Review – Classic Ghostbusters (Mattel) (Ray Stantz, Egon Spengler, Peter Venkman, Winston Zeddemore)

Mattel has released these same Ghostbusters molds a few times over the years. this particular release was from the sequel/reboot/remake Ghostbusters movie that came out recently, though for the most part these 4 figures are all the same.  The most interesting contrast is how much better these 4 figures are compared to the 4 “new” ghostbusters they were released along side.  This isn’t a knock against the whole “all female cast”, this is a knock against the sloppy looking paint and sculpts that the new Ghostbusters figures received.

There are 4 figures here but they are essentially all exactly the same aside from their heads.  Some height variance might have been a nice touch but they all use the exact same body, with one minor variance, Peter Venkman has his pant legs untucked from his boots.  It’s not a bad body or sculpt though, which is nice.  There is enough articulation to recreate most poses you might want from 4 scientists in overalls.  The hands are pretty basic but have some surprising bonus features due to the sculp.  The right hand is sculpted to hold the Proton Pack gun, which it does well, it also looks fine for a neutral, free hand, at the sides poses, due to the trigger placement on the guns, the figures can also make a nice thumbs up (or down if you prefer) pose as well.

The articulation is also functional enough that the proton packs can easily be removed from each figure.  The packs themselves are all identical to each other.  There are no other accessories, which is kind of a bummer because they could have easily made a bit of variation by adding obvious accessories like a Ghost Trap, PKE Meter, and maybe one of those little slime grabber dealies they used a few times.

The main variation comes from the head sculpts, which are all nicely done and certainly resemble each of the 4 Ghostbusters.  It is the source of my main gripe with these figures, the head sculpts are all nice individually, but there is an odd inconsistency in style.  Ray looks considerably more “realistic” than Peter, who looks more like a Bill Murray cartoon.

Head sculpt style inconsistency aside, these are good figures.  The body reuse and lack of accessories can certainly be a turn off at the full $20+ price however.  Especially considering I believe the previous releases were considerably cheaper.  It’s not related to these figures directly, but the apparently lack of quality int he new lady Ghostbusters line up is also disappointing.