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Review – Sentinel – 4″ Mega Man (Classic)

Mega Man is one video game series I have extremely fond childhood memories of.  I’ve played and finished all of the games and Mega Man 3 is one title that I played religiously back in the day.  It’s a series that just begs for a good toy line but it seems like it will never achieve the greatness I had always hoped with hundreds of Robot Masters.  Years ago Jazwares put out a short lived line and I snapped all of them up, despite their mediocre quality.  I’ve dabbled a bit in some of the model kits as well.  The newest contender in the realm of Mega Man is Sentinel Toys.  Unfortunately they seem to just be keeping the same cycle of releasing only variations of Mega Man.  There was a Cut Man but it was part of a limited 2 pack.  I don’t think they have even ventured out into the realm of Proto Man, Bass, or Zero as of this review.

Sentinel Mega Man 4"

So I opted to pick up the standard classic Mega Man, to give the line a try.  These figures of course carry an import level price, but since they are a bit smaller they aren’t too far out on the high end.  Mega Man is small to be sure, he’s quite a bit smaller than I had expected, but he is sold and advertised as 4 inches, so I don’t really know what I expected.   The sculpt and design is nice and crisp, though there are a lot of visible joint seams.

Sentinel Mega Man 4"

The seams do sort of work here, given Mega Man is a robot, but it does break up the sculpt, especially when viewed from behind.  He does end up with a really nice range of articulation however as a result of all of these joints.  He can make many classic Mega Man style poses easily and holds them quite well.

Sentinel Mega Man 4"

Mega man includes a stand as well as a couple of alternate hands, an alternate face, and a blaster arm.  These are all easily swap-able and help give some variety for posing and display.  The little extra bits for storage are nice but they don’t really do a lot to keep the pieces together.

Sentinel Mega Man 4"

Is this the best Mega Man figure available?  It’s hard to say.  It’s better than the Jazwares one by light years, but Revoltech has put out a few nice looking Mega Man figures as well.  He also isn’t quite as stylized or squat as others may want in a Mega man figure, the design is closer to the newer artwork than the older artwork and the games.  He’s definitely a nice figure though, and relatively affordable as Imports go.  He also fits pretty well with other Video Game figures like the Figuarts Mario, Figma Samus and Figma Link.

Review – Transformers – RiD – Megatronus

Megatronus was the first in a surge of Decepticons added to the Robots in Disguise line.  Poor Steeljaw would no longer have to face the Autobot army alone.  This toy has been released in a few versions, with and without a facemask and a few paint tweaks, this particular version covers the Megatronus release that was exclusive to Toys R Us.

Transformers Robots In Disguise Megatronus (TRU Version)

I have to admit, I don’t follow the show, so I’m not sure where Megatronus falls into the hierarchy of things.  I believe Steeljaw is actually the leader of the Decepticons and Megatronus is not the same character as Megatron, though the former is the namesake of the latter.  Megatronus originally, in the Transformer Mythos was one of the original 13 Primes, and is more commonly known as The Fallen, though I don’t know if that title applies here.

Transformers Robots In Disguise Megatronus (TRU Version)

Despite that he isn’t Megatron, he certainly kind of looks like Megatron, and whether or not he is The Fallen, he also feels “special” compared to the other Decepticons in the line.  Primarily because he doesn’t seem to really have an animal theme, like the other Decepticons.  He’s very much just a tank robot.

Transformers Robots In Disguise Megatronus (TRU Version)

Another sign that this guy isn’t Megatron is his complete lack of a Fusion/arm canon.  Instead, Megatronus comes with a little sword weapon, which can be weilded in a variety of ways.  It can be mounted on one arm as a blade weapon, or held like a standard sword.  The tank most also works both with and without the sword attached.

Transformers Robots In Disguise Megatronus (TRU Version)

Probably the coolest part of this toy is the transformation.  Hasbro has been doing a lot of interesting things lately with Transformations, and Megatronus has some cool tricky that keep the Transformation elegantly simple.  The legs in particular, formed from the treads, do a neat little fold over trick.  Also notable, since the entire torso is the turret of the tank and the treads are the base, he ends up with a fully rotating turret and a usable waist joint.

Transformers Robots In Disguise Megatronus (TRU Version)

The only real issue with this toy is that, given the character and design, he really just feels too small.  Megatronus really is a character who needs to be imposing, not this tiny little tank.  It’s still a nice figure, he just may pair better with the legends scale than the other Deluxes.

Transformers Robots In Disguise Megatronus (TRU Version)

Review – Transformers – RiD – Steeljaw

Like a lot of folks it seems, I pretty much avoided the Transformers Robots in Disguise line early on in it’s release.  Most of the toys seemed, and were, pretty mediocre.  There also was an extremely one sided assortment of mostly Autobots.  In fact, Steeljaw was the only Decepticon until something like wave 4, which is really annoying on a lot of levels.  One thing that Transformers always felt like it had going for it above other lines was a pretty good balance of heroes and villains.  What good is a hero with no one to fight after all?

Transformers Robots in Disguise Steeljaw

Even more annoying, the Decepticon designs on the show itself are all super interesting and unique.  There’s a neat animal theme running in the robot modes, which gives them fun heads and little design queues related to their respective animals.  Steeljaw, for example, is very obviously wolf themed.  From his wold head to his wolf tail, he’s one of the more obvious animal designs.  The vehicle itself is also somewhat wolf-like in it’s styling.

Transformers Robots in Disguise Steeljaw

While his design is pretty neat, Steeljaw is also one of the weaker toys in the line.  The main issue is the “This should have been a Voyager” problem that pops up occasionally.  The larger size would have allowed a bit better balance and a few more joints while also stopping the robot from being so small and stocky.  As he is, because of his weird joints in his legs he pretty much needs the tail as balance to keep him upright, which is a shame because it’s nicely jointed and would be great used for more dynamic poses.

Transformers Robots in Disguise Steeljaw

He also has some weird sliding arm/elbow joints that feel a little fragile and leave his arm movement options a little stiff.  I guess the point is, the robot mode is cool looking, but it’s really only usable in one or two poses, due to the awkwardness of the toy.

Transformers Robots in Disguise Steeljaw

Steeljaw is basically the physical embodiment of the early problems with the Robots in Disguise line, all wrapped up in a nice package.  The design is ambitious but suffers for it.  He should have been a larger price point, but RiD had no Voyager price point.  He was the only Decepticon for a while, and while he looks nice in a group assortment with the eventual, later, Decepticons (which are mostly pretty stellar), he’s probably not worth putting a ton of effort into tracking one down.

Review – Funko Legacy – Firefly (Malcolm, Kaylee, Jayne, Zoë, Wash)

Funko is a pretty controversial company among toy collectors, by which I mean collectors more like me and less of the “casual” variety.  Their primary line is the Funko Pop Vinyl line, which amount to small uniformed statues.  Funko has also had a few “actual” figures recently in their Funko Legacy line, which so far has mostly been Firefly or Game of Thrones related, though they did a set of Bethesda related figures for Fallout and Skyrim as well as The Book of Life and The Rocketeer.  These figures are done in a style very similar to what NECA does for a lot of their lines.  Six inch figures with mostly decent articulation and a pretty good attention to detail to the source material.  They also seems to have inherited a lot of the issues that NECA figures often have however in stiff or fragile joints and sometimes dodgy sculpt choices.

Funko Legacy Firefly, Kaylee, Jayne, Malcolm, Zoe, Wash

There are 6 total figures in this line and 5 characters.  Jayne Cobb has a version with and without his iconic yellow and orange knit hat from the show.  Having one version with a swap-able head or hat accessory would have been cool but I guess it was easier just to do two versions.  The Hat version is a store exclusive, but as near as I can tell, it’s exclusive to everywhere, that the regular figures are found anyway.

I’m going to touch a bit on each of the figures before wrapping up with some thoughts on the set as a whole.

Malcolm Reynolds

Funko Legacy Firefly, Malcolm

Malcolm, the captain of the crew, is probably the most well rounded figure of the set.  This is good since he’s probably the most desireable figure of the line up, being sort of the main characters.  The articulation is good, the sculps is good and looks like Nathan Fillion.  He has a bit of an issue in his design where his hips are a bit too wide, but it’s an issue that spans across the line and isn’t exclusive to this figure.

Funko Legacy Firefly, Malcolm

He includes two accessories, a shotgun and his pistol, both of these guns can be held appropriately and both can be stored int he holster on his leg (individually, not together).  The paint is a little spotty in a few places, but this is also an issue that runs across the line.

Funko Legacy Firefly, Malcolm

Zoë Washburne

Funko Legacy Firefly, Zoe

Zoë is almost as nice as Malcolm in terms of well roundedness.  The sculpt isn’t quite as nice in the face and head but it’s still recognizable as the character.  She has a pair of guns, one of which has holster attached to her belt.  Her hips also have some of the wideness issue that Malcolm has, but her proportions make her look less pear shaped than Malcolm, so it’s not quite as noticeable.

Funko Legacy Firefly, Wash and Zoe

Wash (Hoban Washburne)

Funko Legacy Firefly, Wash

What use is Zoë without her husband?  Wash is probably my favorite figure of the line.  The sculpt all around is pretty good, though I’m not sure why is face is so heavily washed.  His hair is a little odd, but overall, his outfit does a good job of hiding the major sculpt issues present int he other figures (goofy elbows, weird hips).  He portrays the nerdy goofyness of the character.

Funko Legacy Firefly, Wash

To just drive this home, while Wash doesn’t include any weapons, he does come with two small dinosaur toys.  Wash was shown playing with these toys a few times up on the bridge of the ship, where he spent a lot of his time.  His hands are both sculpted to allow him to hold both dinosaurs well, which also gives him some kind of fun “claw hands” for regular poses as well.  The dinosaurs themselves are very nicely done.

Funko Legacy Firefly, Wash

Kaylee

Funko Legacy Firefly, Kaylee

So, moving on to the bottom of the barrel zone, I’ll start off with Kaylee.  I want to like Kaylee, and she is so close but there’s just a few off putting things and one bad experience that has pulled her way down in my book.  First, the sculpt is a little iffy.  The face is a too puffy and mine has a bit of a derpy eye going on.  Her accessories are irritatingly light as well, especially given she is the smallest figure.  She only has her wrench, which works, but a few more tools, or maybe a chunk of machinery as a prop would have been a nice way to offset the value proposition here.

Funko Legacy Firefly, Kaylee

My main issue comes from her hands.  While across the line, I’ve had to deal with a few stiff joints, one of the hands on my Kaylee broke right off, with almost zero “effort”.  I glued it back on, so at least she has a hand, even if it’s now stuck in one position, It’s still an irritating issue.  She feels like she is more prone to this issue since her arms are considerably skinnier than the other figures in the line.  A couple fo more accessories and less fragile joints, and I probably would completely overlook the slightly off face sculpt.

Funko Legacy Firefly, Kaylee

Jayne Cobb

Funko Legacy Firefly, Jayne

Then there’s Jayne Cobb.  I debated a bit on which version I wanted but ultimately opted to pick up the one with his hat.  I don’t need two Jaynes and the hat is a fun and memorable piece from the show.  Jayne really solves a lot of the issues that the other figures had, and I suspect part of this is due to his two figure release.  In terms of “background” in the design and budget area, the dual release should have effectively double the budget for this figure’s design.  The joints look better, partially due to his larger size, but he also includes three accessories, his knife, his pistol, and his gun, Vera.

Funko Legacy Firefly, Jayne

My issue with the figure is that I can’t get him to hold Vera.  It’s a nice looking gun, and I’ve seen where other’s have gotten the gun into his hands, but the hands on my Jayne are too stiff and tight to fit the larger gun into either hand.  I also worry about breaking the gun as well.

Funko Legacy Firefly, Jayne

Which leads me into the overall line, and it’s many issues.  These are relatively cheap figures, at $20 each (less these days since they are on clearance anywhere that still has them).  Still, there are wonky quality issues across the board.  The paint on all of these figures have some issues, it’s not clear how much is just shoddy work and how much is intentional to make things look “dirty”.  There are ugly plastic seams plaguing almost every figure as well, especially on hands and arms where there is flesh tone paint.  The joint designs are functional, but very ugly, just take a look at the elbows on Jayne and Zoë, or the wrists on all of them.  These figures really feel like they could have benefited from a higher price point, put towards polishing them up.  The basic idea and execution is there, everything just falls short in some pretty major ways.  The details on Kaylee’s overalls and Wash’s shirt both are great, and the two mini Dinosaurs are really good, it’s a shame this level couldn’t have been executed consistently across the line, especially since this is essentially Funko’s “Collector” level line.

The other shame is that the line is effectively dead as near as I can tell.  We’ll probably never get River, or Simon, or Inara, or Sheppard Book.  Which is a bit of a shame because Firefly is a fun cult series that really could use a nice set of figures.

Are the figures worth picking up?  At this point they can be had pretty cheap, they aren’t the best, but if you’re a fan of the show it’s likely the only chance you’re ever going to have to get figures from the show, and at sub $15, most of the figures are worthwhile.  Wash and Malcolm are pretty fun figures to add in with say, Star Wars Black figures.  Jayne and Zoë are both allright, though flawed a bit.  Kaylee, not so much, at least the one I have isn’t great.

Review – Change Agent by Daniel Suarez

NOTE: This book was provided by the publisher for free to the reviewer in advance of release.

I should probably start off by mentioning that I am a huge fan of Daniel Suarez.  I have read all of his previous books, a few of them more than once.  He definitely has a great “not too distant” future sort of style that comes off as very plausible in his Sci-Fi Techno-Thriller novels.  While I wouldn’t rate Change Agent as his be best work yet, I still give that to Daemon, it’s certainly not on the bottom of my list.  They all rank pretty high in my opinion.

The general plot follows Kenneth Durand, who has been genetically altered via a Change Agent, sort of a DNA virus, to have the form of the wanted criminal Marcus Wyckes.  A large proportion of the story follows Durand as he travels through Singapore and Thailand to try to find a way to return to his former self.  He meets a variety of folks along the way good and bad, and must deal with some inner turmoil in the concepts of what truly makes a person who they are.  Much of the near future aspects of this revolve around the concept of genomic manipulation primarily, but other more familiar concepts such as the mass use of drones and AR/VR style interfaces for technology.

The core story is well done and there is a nice sense of urgency along the way to Durand’s mission, mostly from the constant pursuit by the authorities.  The main areas where it falls apart is the periphery.  Some of Durand’s colleagues are involved in the pursuit of Durand/Wyckes but they don’t really seem to every question the possibility of Durand being anyone except who he appears to be, despite the world around them.  There also isn’t a much done with Durand’s family, which is his entire motivation, beyond surface level exposure.  Meanwhile many of the people Durand meets later feel like they don’t really have any good reason to trust him yet they often do explicitly.  The subplot involving (the real) Wyckes’ henchman never feels quite fully explored either.

These sub plots could have been fleshed out a bit further and could have helped the story feel more complete.  The core plot works regardless, though there are some parts that felt like they dragged a bit early on and around the three quarters mark.  The real fun, like all of Daniel Suarez’s books, comes from the “what if” world that is presented.  Daemon and Freedom looked at the web and AI, Kill Decision was AI and drones, Change Agent looks at genetics and technology overexposure.

If you enjoy the writing style of Daniel Suarez or similar authors such as Neal Stephenson, John Scalzi, or William Gibson, you’ll probably enjoy Change Agent.

Review – Movie – Logan (2017)

The latest and supposedly last outing for Wolverine, or at least, Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, Logan is one of the better comic book movies we’ve had for sure, though not totally flawless.  Most of my complaints with this movie however stem more from how sloppy Fox has been with the X-men universe continuity, and not so much with the film itself.  Much like the previous Wolverine movie, The Wolverine, this film pretty much exists in a vacuum from the other movies in the series.  There’s a vague underlying theme about how awful Logan’s existence is because, while he never dies, everything he cares about eventually does.  There’s also a brief mention of “The Statue of Liberty” which is a throwback to the original X-men when Hugh Jackman took up the role, but it felt more like an Easter egg than a plot point.

It also brings up the question of “Where does this fall in continuity”.  Is it the old time line or the new timeline?  If he mentioned the Statue of Liberty from the first X-men, that would imply this is old timeline, except there are a few little nods to the new timeline, like the return of the mutant Caliban seen briefly in X-men Apocalypse.   Or the point about how there haven’t been any new mutants in something like 25 years, which seems contradictory to X-men 3, which showed us some future where there were clearly some young mutants in the school.

Nitpicky continuity stuff aside, the movie starts off a little rough but ends up on a pretty good note overall.  It’s also worth noting that this movie, like Deadpool, is definitely rated R.  Where Deadpool was more R rated for it’s crude sexual jokes, Wolverine gets it’s rating for language, a lot of gory violence, and one moment of very, very brief, non sexual nudity.  I only bring this up really because it’s worth noting in case anyone wants to take their 9 year old to the film and because it kind of felt a little unnecessary.  I hate to sound like some sort of grump over language, but given the history of the X-men franchise and the character, adding in a bunch of “fucks” almost makes some of the characters seem out of character and all of the extra goriness on the claw slashing didn’t really add a lot to the plot.

It all also felt a bit out of place as the movie progressed and more and more of Laura and her backstory, the young girl tagging along with Wolverine, became the focus of the film.  It’s like hey, here’s a bunch of kids going completely psycho in the movie violent way possible because “Edgy cool”.

The whole film also does a pretty effective job of being a bit of an emotional roller coaster, as everyone around poor Logan seems to get harmed or killed by the people following them.  Not to mention Logan himself, who is not anywhere near peak form as the poisoning in his body from his Adamantium skeleton is finally getting the best of him.  He’s feeling a lot of pain, his claws don’t always work, and he isn’t quite healing as well as he used to.  It certainly helps give some urgency to the character.  The regular X-men movies usually managed to write off Wolverine when Magneto was around, since Wolverine can’t do anything to Magneto, The Wolverine had Logan under the influence of some poison that suppressed his abilities, I guess something needs to be done to make a guy who can’t be harmed interesting (see also The Hulk).

The core of the movie is about the interaction between Logan, Laura and Xavier as they run from a band of pretty bland bad guys.  They are involved in Laura’s past, but they are essentially just an extension, spin off or figure version of Alkali and Stryker’s band, that same old repeating thread.  There is also Weapon 24, who is the main baddie for Wolverine to battle.  It’s not super clear what makes this guy so special other than “He’s like Wolverine only extra feral” and ultimately is pretty much a throw away nobody who only exists as someone who can stand toe to toe with Wolverine and not get killed in 1 claw swipe.

Laura manages to be an interesting character, despite being mute for much of the film.  The aged Charles Xavier is also incredibly likable in this movie, though his purpose and point isn’t super clear to the big picture.  He’s basically become a super powered senile old mutant, he has some mysterious vaguely explained crisis from the past, and serves as a father figure to Logan who in turn serves as a father figure to Laura, which makes a fun dynamic, but also felt like there were some pieces missing to help explain, at the very least, why Logan hadn’t just put him out of his misery already.  I mean I get that they are old friends, but he really feels like he is suffering with no possible recovery, if Logan really cared he could have saved both of them a lot of trouble a long time ago by giving him a quiet quick send off.  I know that sounds cruel but in the context of the film world presented, it honestly isn’t.

But alas, now I’m getting off on a tangent, and running a bit long.  Logan really is a good film, it’s definitely the best of the Wolverine trilogy, though I’m not sure that it’s quite the best X-men film.  It’s also a nice send off to Wolverine while also serving as an origin story for X-23, Wolverine’s replacement.

Review – Saints Row the Third (PC, Xbox360, PS3)

2011 – Volition – 1 Player (Campaign) Multiplayer (Online)
PC, PS3, Xbox360

The Good

  • Loads of fun Gameplay
  • Reminiscent of classic GTA
  • Amazing custom character creation with voices and interactions not just “faceless”

The Bad

  • The missions are kind of just a repetition of a handful of mini games
  • Kooky level may be too much for some people’s taste.

In Depth

Saints Row really has a comeback story behind it. The first game is apparently rather terrible. the second game is better but not great. It’s already saddled with being a “GTA knockoff” by default no matter what it does. Somewhere Volition has managed to get something really right because Saints Row the Third seems to be quite a hit among gamers. So much of a hit that THQ had decided to focus more on games like Saints Row over things like it’s failing Wii Tablet thing (U-Draw).

This thing is pretty long and image heavy, so you’ll have to click through to get the whole thing.

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Review – Marvel Legends – Juggernaut Wave – Wolverine

Wolverine is arguably the most popular Marvel comics character.  Spider-man is pretty up there and Deadpool seems to be doing pretty well, but Wolverine is, or at least was at one point, pretty up there.  It’s a shame he doesn’t’ get more Marvel Legends figures really.  I mean I know I complain about all of the dozens of Captain Americas, but Wolverine is way more popular then Cap.  Maybe we just already hit Wolverine Saturation years ago and don’t need more Wolverines?  Who knows.

While wolverine has had a few looks over the years, and some slight redesigns, mostly in how big his head fins are or how large his shoulder pauldrons get, he has had two basic looks, there is the classic Blue and Yellow design, which appeared in the previous X-men themed wave of Marvel Legends, and there is this Brown and Dirty Yellow design.

I’m kind of mixed on this figure.  It’s a good figure.  It’s got a good sculpt and paint.  He is appropriately short as Wolverine should be.  He even has swappable hands for claws in and claws out.  I really wish Marvel Legends would do swappable hands more often.  I’ve been spoiled lately by import figures.

What he really needs though is a swappable head.  Wolverine can make some nice poses, but his head is just so….  Boring.  A raging grimacing or open mouthed head would be a welcome addition to make him seem more dynamic.  I like having the neutral head, I just wish eh also had an angry head.  Wolverine is pretty known for being a raging animal after all.

The claws are also interesting.  They aren’t the often used rubbery plastic that deforms and looks ugly.  They are nice and crisp and solid.  They tend to wobble a bit in their pegs though, making them hard to keep in alignment.  I also worry about breaking them off a bit, since this sort of hard plastic tends to snap more than give under pressure.

Aside from the bland facial expression, this is a really nice Wolverine figure.  Here’s hoping that the new Logan film will give us some slightly more action oriented Wolverine designs but given the track record of the X-men films getting ignored for toys, I doubt it will happen.