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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 – 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 – S.H. Figuarts Mace Windu

I have a sort of general philosophy I like to follow when writing reviews. I like to give good points and bad points and let the reader sort of make the final conclusion on if something seems good or not.  There are really too many subjective factors to give a definite yay or nay on most things.

SH Figuarts Mace Windu

Unfortunately, I don’t really have much to say about Figuarts Mace Window that is negative.  I really just don’t, the figure is damn near perfect and it’s definitely the best toy Mace Windu us ever going to get.  I suppose that, as a Star Wars Figuarts, he’s a little pricey than some people might want to pay.  Also the cuts for his joints are a little ugly looking in some poses.  But these are kind of nitpicky level complaints.

SH Figuarts Mace Windu

Mace Windu includes 6 sets of hands, and 2 heads, one angry and one more smug/neutral.  He also includes 2 light sabers, one with a peg to hang off of his belt and the other to be held, with or without the blade.

SH Figuarts Mace Windu

The sculpt on everything is amazing, which is helped by the fantastic paint job.  The heads do a spot on job of capturing Samuel L. Jackson down to little wrinkles in his forehead.

SH Figuarts Mace Windu

He pose ability and stability are also great for a lot of really exceptional dynamic posing.  His open hands are great for “force action”.  He can perfectly wield his light saber in one or two hands.  The details on the head and expression work great for attacks and neutral poses.

SH Figuarts Mace Windu

Basically what I’m saying is, if this figure interests you, he’s great and well worth picking up.  It’s every bit as awesome as it looks, probably more so.

Review – Movie – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

So, the first Michael Bay Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles live action movie kind of got a lot of flack.  To be fair, though, it’s not actually directed by Michael Bay, it’s just produced, so it’s not as awful of a live action remake as The Transformers movies are, it was however quite a departure from what people think of when they think Ninja Turtles.

The second film in this series is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, and it seems to be the answer to what a lot of people wanted and expected from the first movie.  Where TMNT is an updated modern take on the basic Turtles vs The Foot idea, Out of the Shadows is a very blatant tribute and Nostalgia fest for the original 80s TMNT cartoon show.   It actually kind of feels a little sad with just how blatant of a tribute it is.

Rocksteady and Bebop? Check!

The Turtle Van?  Check!

Krang? Check!

Baxter Stockman?  Check!

The Technodrom?  Check!

Also, unlike a lot of remakes and updates, things stay fairly true to the original, or at least, much more aligned with the spirit of the original.  Rocksteady and Bebop for example, are pretty unmistakable.  Krang is a little weird but still very much is obviously Krang with his goofy robot body.  Baxter Stockman follows the original comic and modern show versions of being African American instead of a goofy white guy with orange hair, but he’s still a goofy scientist.

This movie very much feels like a response to the “This isn’t the Turtles I remember” complaints of the first TMNT film.

Honestly, I kind of feels like it makes the film better.  I didn’t hate the original TMNT, but the nostalgia level of Out of the Shadows definitely does it’s job.

The biggest fault of this film is the some what flimsy plot.  It’s not awful, but there’s quite a few “what” moments, one of them is a pretty crucial hinge to everything.  Early on in the film, The Shredder is rescued by The Foot, amidst the rescue, he is suddenly kidnapped by Krang, who wants to recruit The Shredder to gather several McGuffin devices in order to open a portal from Dimension X so Krang can take over The Earth.  Very Classic 80s Cartoon to be sure.  It’s just very, sudden, however with zero build up.  It’s just suddenly “Hey, giant brain man, let’s work together”.  It kind of feels like it could have been massaged a little bit on the flow.

There’s also a subplot involving Casey Jones tracking down Rocksteady and Bebop which feels pretty superfluous to the everything.  It seems to exist entirely so create an excuse to throw Casey Jones into the movie.  He basically fills the role of Vernon from the first TMNT, someone for April O’Neal to pal around with when she isn’t hanging out with the turtles.

There’s also an ooze subplot that goes nowhere after Rocksteady and Bebop become a thing.  That is, it’s there to mutate Rocksteady and Bebop, which is fine, but then it lingers around a bit until the end where a choice is made, one that never really felt like it had any appropriate build up to actually give it any meaningful impact.

The real bottom line is that the plot, or plots aren’t awful ideas, it’s more that there’s just too much crammed into one film, and as a result, nothing gets fleshed out to any meaningful level.  Maybe I’m looking for too much from a movie about giant martial artist turtles, but I can’t help but think that maybe, splitting things out a across a couple of films would have helped solidify everything a bit better, giving us something much better than what we got.  Maybe run with Shredder being rescued and meeting with a shadowy unknown, creating Bebop and Rocksteady and introducing Casey Jones as more of an antagonist and foil, then keeping Krang and the idea of being forced to live “In the Shadows” as a plot for a third connected film.

Review – Figma – Stand Alone Complex Motoko Kusanagi

Ghost in the Shell’s Motoko Kusanagi is kind of a hard one to pin down for a real “definitive look”.  Unlike a lot of anime, cartoon, or even comic characters, she has had a pretty wide array of styles over her various movies and shows.  There is a general theme of “tough” and “short purple hair”.  Aside from that there have been a variety of tactical suits, jackets, and various spandex sort of outfits.  This particular figure is based on the Stand Alone Complex Anime series.  Stand Alone complex is an alternate timeline version of the story from the popular movie and manga, Ghost in the Shell.

Figma Motoko Kusanagi

There aren’t any particularly great figures of Motoko from the original series from what I can tell.  I haven’t really seen any of Stand Alone complex though I like the original movie and have read some of the manga.  Of the various versions of Motoko available, I felt this one more capture the essence of what I personally think of as the character, though this design feels “younger” and a bit more, anime, for lack of a better term, than I’d really prefer.

Figma Motoko Kusanagi

It’s a decent design though and the sculpt and articulations are pretty clean.  There’s something a little funny going on with the articulation I can’t quite place though.  It works well enough for posing, but she kind of looks a little wonkey in some poses, like things don’t quite line up naturally.

Figma Motoko Kusanagi

Motoko includes 5 sets of hands in various poses, a Figma stand, three faces (smiling, frowning, yelling), two hairs (one is “windswept”), a pistol, an assault rifle, and an extra set of boobs.  I’m not entirely sure about the boobs, I think one is slightly larger but they look really the same.  Several of the hands are pretty specialized around holding the weapons, in particular the special right hands for holding each gun.

Figma Motoko Kusanagi

Figma Motoko has a problem I’ve encountered with the few Figma toys that I do have.  Her hair falls off way to easily.  If you lean her forward at all the hair has a good chance of slipping right off her face.  It’s a good sized chunk, so it’s easy to find if it falls, but it’s kind of a nuisance.

Figma Motoko Kusanagi

So overall verdict, it’s an alright figure, like a lot of the line, but it’s not quite the version of The Major I wish I had.  I’m kind of hoping that the live action Ghost in the Shell movie will see a bit of a resurgence in merchandise and some more, better figures.  I’d love to get a Batou to go with Motko.  I am also kind of surprised there aren’t more SH Figuarts from Ghost in the Shell, considering Bandai makes Figuarts and owns the rights to GitS.  That’s probably one of those screwy “The media company is different than the products company” deals.

Figma Motoko Kusanagi

Review – Marvel Legends – Dormammu Wave – Doctor Strange (Movie)

The Doctor Strange wave of Marvel Legends, the one with the Dormammu Build a Figure, is the perfect example of how awful and mismanaged Marvel Legends waves can get.    For starters, there was recently a boxed set for SDCC centered around Doctor Strange that included a Brother Voodoo, Astral Doctor Strange (Comic not movie, granted), and a Dormammu, non Build a Figure version.  So, ok, the SDCC sets are not the easiest to get, but there also aren’t a ton of Strange fans I imagine clamoring for these characters, so doubling up like this instead of making less overlap seems like it would have been a better route.  To add some additional insult, this wave also included a comic Doctor Strange that is essentially identical to the one included in the very recent Hulkbuster wave.  Then there’s the extremely mediocre Astral Movie Strange, which is a clear version of the normal version reviewed here, minus the accessories.  The Astral form strange, honestly, would probably have been better done with clear colored plastic matching his normal form, though I imagine the cost there would have been too much vs the basic transparent that we got.  More annoying is that we don’t get figure of Wong or The Ancient One, both characters who could have really used figures, based on how cool they were in the movie.

I’m not here to rant about this poorly done wave of figures though.  I have not, nor do I plan to pick up any more figures from it than I already have (3 total, one because it was on clearance).  Instead, I want to talk a bit about the Movie Doctor Strange figure.  This figure kind of feels like the end result of the price paid for that pretty lame Astral Doctor Strange.  Where Astral strange has no accessories and is all translucent plastic (and, incidentally, the same mold as this one), this figure has many accessories and a pretty well done paint job and sculpt.

The core figure is effectively Cumberbatch’s Dcotor Strange as he appears in his “final form”.  He’s in his complete robes, he’s wearing his cape, he’s got the Eye of Agamotto.  He comes with an extra set of hands for some more varied looks as well as a shield like magic effect.  The cape is removable, and even stands up on it’s own (if you’ve seen the movie you will know the cape kind of has a mind of it’s own.  The Eye of Agamotto is also removable.  Removing the came and Eye, give you kind of an early learner Doctor Strange.  The removable Eye of Agamotto is also useful given the nature of what the Eye is for, possible future options of posing and interaction with other toys.  Without going into too much detail.

A poseable cloth goods cape could would have been cool but that’s not really Marvel Legends’ way of doing things so it’s pretty forgivable.  At least the cape is designed to stand on it’s own well.  Where he could really use a bit of cloth goods is in his lower tunic bits, since the plastic limits the articulation he has in his legs,  Doctor Strange isn’t really a martial artist but he is pretty dynamic, and he does come from a monastery of martial artist monks.

The extra hands are nice, and while he doesn’t have a sling ring accessory, they work for making the sort of gesture shown to operate the sling ring.  Having one with the slink ring molded on would have been nice but that’s ML for you.  There are some problems, at least on mine with mold flashing.  I’m actually kind of ok with this problem, in this case, because it makes his hands look a bit dodgy and well, part of Doctor Strange’s origin was having his hands crushed in a car accident.  Spoilers I suppose but it’s a very early and moderately trivial event in the whole scheme of things.

The movie version of Doctor Strange is one of the better Marvel Legends we’ve gotten recently, and definitely is the winner of the wave as far as quality and parts.

Review – S.H. Figuarts Sailor Mars

Coming in as the third member of the team, Sailor Mars adds some fire power, literally, to the Sailor Senshi mix.  Rei and her fire attacks make her a pretty heavy hitter on the team, and as a Shrine Priestess when she’s not Sailor Mars, she is one of the more capable members of the group even without her powers.

Figuarts Sailor Mars is much more of a departure in design than Mercury was to the original Sailor Moon. The core Fuku outfit is still there but she wears slippers instead of long boots.  She also has longer hair, which includes some neat articulated bits that allow it to “flare out” for dramatic effect.

She does start to get into a bit of reuse on the hands from Sailor Moon and Sailor Mercury, though there are also several new unique hands.  Aside from hands and faces, her only other accessory is a tiny Ofuda paper charm.  It’s not actually made from paper, it’s plastic, but it’s a depiction of her paper slip she uses for some of her attacks.  She also includes a special hand to allow her to hold the paper between two fingers as she does in the media.

While it’s not an included accessory, the Flame Effects parts set which is a separate item from Bandai, makers of S.H. Figuarts, works extremely well with Sailor Mars.   Considering how little accessories these figures have outside of Sailor Moon, and how much parts reuse there is between them, it’s a bit disappointing they don’t come with even a single attack effect or weapon of any kind.  I imagine they are saving that for the eventual “Super Sailor Senshi” releases.

If Moon and Mercury were tricky to stand on their tiny feet, Mars’s actual heels make her almost impossible without the stand.  It’s doable, but it’s tricky and the ankles have a tendency to splay outwards when doing so.

Of all of the five core Sailor Senshi Figuarts, Mars is definitely the lightest.  She has the least amount of accessories at least.  I guess the budget all went into her hair, though Venus does a similar trick.  That’s not to say she is a bad figure, it just would have been nice to see a bit more, some sort of fireball part maybe.  Or better yet, Sailor Moon has her cat Luna, Venus has Artemis, why couldn’t Sailor Mars have come with her two crows Phobos and Deimos?  Even in a static pose they would have helped make her feel a bit less bland.

Review – Transformers – Titans Return – Scourge

Scourge, along with Blurr, is part of the first wave of Titans Returns figures that were not originally Headmasters.  Scourge is a bit of a funny character in terms of picking up “new versions”, because his character’s ability allows him to make clones of himself.  Or maybe it’s just that he commands clones of himself, whatever the case, there is a justifiable reason to have many Scourge toys.

Unlike Blurr, who is kind of the star of the wave, Scourge is possibly the worst figure of the first wave.  The problems are less with the basic design however.  This Scourge, like Blurr is a nice update to the original design, as basic as it is.  Scourge is the classic example of a Shell Former.  He is essentially a robot wrapped in the shell of the parts of his space boat mode.  Both modes are accurate representation of the G1 Scourge, but his transformation is pretty simplistic.

The real problems are with the basic design of the figure itself.  Specifically there are a lot of reports of looseness in the head connection of the Headmaster giving him a bobble head.  He also has a pop up head crest similar to Blurr, though it is also prone to being lose and doesn’t stay up very well.

One minor little nitpick on my part, his pretty sleek Space Boat mode is broken up a bit by odd panels on the bottom of the front.  These panels only serve to fill in the gap on his legs, and just sort of hang off the vehicle.  It really feels like this could have easily been engineered better to remove the panel kibble hanging off an otherwise clean vehicle.

That aside, he’s also just sort of boring.  The vehicle is just a wedge with a bit of kibble on top, it’s accurate, but it’s not particularly exciting.

Titans Return Scourge isn’t an awful toy, he’s just not particularly exciting, and is prone to some issue that can be irritating.  With exciting animal options in the Decepticons, or the really well done Blurr, I wouldn’t make Scourge my first choice of the line.