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Review – Marvel Legends – First Ten Years – Thor the Dark World (Thor and Lady Sif)

For the ten year anniversary of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Hasbro is putting out a special sub line of Marvel Legends celebrating the event.  These figures all come in special boxes that create a little mural when combined along the edges, and all are themed around different movies from the MCU so far.  Its sort of the Marvel Legends equivalent to the Transformers Studio Series line.  They are also using it as a chance to catch up on characters who may have been missed over the years in the previous lines.  This particular set is for the second Thor movie, Thor: The Dark World.  In case you forgot which one that was, since its often thought of as one of if not the worst movies in the MCU so far, its the one where Thor has to rescue Natalie Portman from an infection of Aether, and stop the evil Dark Elf Malekith from using it to destroy the Nine Realms.

This set includes Thor and Lady Sif.  I’m going to start with Thor, since he’s kind of the boring figure of the set.  We’ve gotten several Thor figures over the years, and several releases of this particular Thor, more or less before.  It’s not a bad figure really, and the beefed up paint jobs that the Ten Years line is getting really help bring out the niceness of the sculpt versus the previous releases.

The main weaknesses aren’t anything new.  The long plastic cape kind of hinder a lot of more dynamic poses and the long hair is a little thick and weird looking.  It’s probably the nicest version of this early style Thor we’re ever going to get in Marvel Legends though, so it’s not a complete loss or anything.  His only accessory is his hammer.

Moving on, there’s Lady Sif.  Lady Sif is a character whom a lot of fans have been wanting a figure of for a while.  She was fairly prominent in the first two Thor films and has appeared in a couple of episodes of Agents of SHIELD as one of the few connecting threads between the TV and Movie world.  She never showed up in Ragnarok so she wasn’t wiped out by Hela.  It’s possible she could even return for Avengers 4 I suppose.

In the MCU, Sif is just sort of, one of Thor’s friends.  In the comics, she is sometimes his girlfriend.  In Norse Mythology, Sif is the wife of Thor.  The fact that she hasn’t been included in previous lines is kind of a good thing really, she’s being released now, while Hasbro is at a nice peak for paint and sculpt.  Also, it’s not like the first two Thor Movies really had dedicated waves.  Almost all of the MCU films have gotten some sort of pretty dedicated wave except the Thor films.  Thor pretty much just gets figures for Avengers films.

The sculpt on this figure is pretty great too.  The head looks like Jamie Alexander.  The armor and weapons is full of neat little etching and detailing.  The paint work is is very nice as well.  Like I said, it’s kind of a  plus that she is just now getting a figure. She also has a ton of accessories.  She has her little shield, and three swords.  Two of the swords are identical, one of the two can peg into the larger one and create a larger javelin sort of weapon.  I do have a bit of a nit picky complaint on the swords.  There is nowhere to store the swords on her person.  There aren’t even any loose belts to let you fake it by wedging the sword under the belt.

Is the two pack worth it?  I suppose it depends on some things.  How much do you want a Lady Sif?  How many versions of the old Thor design do you already have?  It’s been discounted down already so getting it cheaper than the usual 2 pack price isn’t too hard.  It’s a nice set, but it’s mostly the Lady Sif figure.

Review – Transformers – Studio Series Jazz

Studio Series is a line that I wish I were more excited about.  I just really don’t have a need or interest in updated versions of most of the Movie Transformers.  I had heard a lot of good things about Jazz, and the only other version of Jazz was the one from the first movie, which wasn’t a bad toy but not super great.  After finding him on sale, I decided to go ahead and pick him up, though I was a little worried about his size.

The size of this figure is definitely the most noticeable thing.  Jazz is one tiny toy.  Part of this stems from the push for robot mode scale that I mentioned in the Studio Series Blackout review.  He sort of feels like a not so great value next to other figures, especially with the price bump.  He includes a pretty large weapon, but it doesn’t really make up for the lack of plastic.  Granted, there’s more to a transformer than how much material it’s made of.  Jazz makes up for his lack of size a bit with his very nice looking shinny paint job.  He also has a pretty neat transformation.

His robot mode is small, his car mode feels absolutely tiny.  It helps a bit that the Pontiac Solstice he is based on is a fairly small car, but it is barely larger than a basic scaled Transform.  Even as a small car, it looks out of place next to other deluxe sized Transformers, including previous Movie based characters.  It looks really nice at least.  On a related note as well, getting things to all mesh together can be a little tricky, there is a peg on the underside of the roof that needs to be pegged in first before almost any other step.  Going back to robot mode has a few little quirks, the head is a pain to pull up out of it’s little hole.  I do really like how the chest transforms however, the way the whole thing rolls over and clips upside down is really neat and not something that has been done in Transformers that I recall.  The front of the car also pops out to flip over which works to really make the chest look similar but different than the front of the car.  It’s a nice little touch.

There is also this really need trick with his gun.  It’s not as original of an idea as the chest, but the gun can be held by a standard 5mm peg fist, or the fist can be folded in and the gun attached to the end of his arm.  It replicates the way the guns in the movies would sort of transform out of the robot arm.  The clip isn’t super strong though, so it tends to fall off if bumped the wrong direction.  It’s also nice to have a movie Jazz with real arms, and not the weird hollow arms the original had.

Overall, despite the size problem, Studio Series Jazz is a pretty nice figure.  He’s visually interesting in both modes, partly from his nice coat of paint.  The transformation does some neat tricks.  The robot is pretty nicely pose able, he has some really good ankle tilt joints that aren’t even part of the transformation.  He’s definitely a good update for the old Jazz and pretty nice on his own.

Review – Figma – Tracer

I have this incredible love/hate relationship with Overwatch.  I do enjoy the game and the characters, but I kind of hate a lot of aspects of the game play.  There are a lot of annoying balance issues going on right now.  I also feel like the lack of community servers still really hurts the game and the ability to get over a lot of it’s flaws by at least playing with fun people regularly.  This isn’t really supposed to be a rant about Overwatch though, it’s about Figma Tracer.

Good Smile Company has two main lines and a bunch of other sub lines, they are producing Overwatch figures for the two primary lines, Nindoroid and Figma.  Both lines offered Tracer as their initial offering, though so far the Nendoroid line is far outpacing the Figma line in terms of releases.  Where Nendoroid Tracer is a stylized Chibi version of the face of Overwatch, the Figma is much closer to the likeness you’d see in game.

Unfortunately it’s not a perfect likeness.  The worst offense on this toy is the face.  It’s just… off… all over.  It’s almost like it’s a sort of bizarre bishoujo version of Tracer.  There is definitely too much “anime” in the sculpt.  I mean, Overwatch is pretty heavily cartoon in it’s stylization, but it’s not manga styled.  It’s kind of funny because the Nendoroid version almost looks more like Tracer in the face, despite the goofy proportions.

The Nendoroid also has some accessories that the larger version really should have included as well, even if they were straight up the same pieces.  Aside from the obvious blink streak included with the Nendo, the Nendo also has the little flippy hair piece on it’s head, which was a nice little fun touch.  The pegs on the stands aren’t the same size at all, so there isn’t even a way to use the blink effect piece with the Figma.  Also notable, is that the guns are not the same between the two figures, though they are pretty close to being the same size. Aside from the guns, Tracer includes some alternate faces and a decent selection of hands and her pulse bomb.

I also have a bit of an issue with the poseability of the figure.  It’s pretty good, except for the hips, which are extremely limited by the design and the belt straps.  I’m not sure what could have been changed but the knees also don’t bend as far as they could.  Basically, a little more bend all around in the legs could have really helped Tracer pull off some of her signature poses better.  The “real” straps are nice, but I can’t help but think sculpted straps might have allowed a bit more range of motion.

Tracer is decent, overall, though I honestly think I like the Nendoroid more.  At the moment it’s the best Tracer figure available, but Hasbro has recently announced a new line of Overwatch based figures coming, and you can bet it will include Tracer.  Figma Tracer isn’t a bad figure, but it could have been better without that totally off face sculpt.

Review – S.H. Figuarts – The Rock

I’m going to be straight up honest.  I don’t have any interest in Wresting, at all.  But I think Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, the actor, is pretty cool.  Plus this figure has a lot of hilarious faces and possibilities for photos.  I also ended up getting a good deal on him from the closing of Toys R Us, so there’s also that nice bonus.

As far as Figuarts go, he kind of feels like a mixed bag.  The face sculpts are great.  They look like the rock and convey a lot of nice goofyness and character.  Even without relating it directly to The Rock the wrestler, they still show off several of his “signature looks”.  He is also very poseable, even for a Figuarts toy.   He even has a jointed set of hands.

The poseability is also his major downside.  The joins on this figure are ugly as hell.  There isn’t really any way around that.  He also isn’t going to fit in with any other wrestling figures aside from the other Figuarts Wrestlers.  Most of the wrestling figures on the US market seem to be closer to 7″ in height.  The Rock is closer to 6″, and he’s a little on the overall small side of 6″.  So he’ll definitely look really puny next to any mainstream Wrestling toy.

He does work pretty well with a lot of other figures though, especially other Figuarts figures.  He’s not a bad figure by any stretch, but he does have his ups and downs compared to other figures out there.  He’s still a lot of fun to goof around with, ugly joints and all.

 

 

Review – Transformers – Titans Return Overlord

Overlord may be slightly less familiar to a lot of people because he wasn’t a part of any major show continuity in the US. He was the big dog Decepticon in the Japanese series Super God Masterforce, and showed up a bit in some of the other Japanese only G1 shows. His other major role was as the protagonist in the popular IDW comic arc, The Last Stand of the Wreckers. In the original continuity he was a double Power Master. He had two Power Master figures who could slot into his chest behind the panels on his chest. In the Masterforce cartoon, these were Giga and Mega, a husband and Wife combo recruited by Devil Z to combat the Autobots. In the IDW books he was just a big tough guy. In this new iteration, he is a headmaster, like all of the Titans Return figures. He also only has one head, though the Japanese version includes two head options, representing Giga and Mega.

He does have his chest slot gimmick still however. Sort of.  The chest flaps open and have slots where you can stick Titan Masters.  Except the holes aren’t deep enough to allow the doors to close with the Titan Masters inside.  This is actually a real shame given the whole gimmick of the follow up line and it’s Prime Masters.  Having Overlord be able to “power up” with the Power of the Primes would have been a neat little play pattern to tie the two lines together.

The Titan Masters kind of look funny anyway, with their obvious faces and all.  Disappointing chest face gimmick aside, Overlord still has a few tricks up his sleeve.  Unlike a lot of Transformers, he eschews the standard one bot, one vehicle gimmick and splits into two vehicles, a Jet and a Tank.  Neither vehicle has an independent robot mode and both are somewhere between a deluxe and voyager in size individually.  The tank is pretty nice, but even without the need to hide a bunch of extra bulk that most jet Transformers suffer with, the jet is still kind of chunky and weird.

For a Leader class Transformers with two vehicles, the overall transformation is pretty simplistic.  He definitely falls into the category of “G1 with more articulation” in his design in that respect.  Considering Overlord isn’t one of those staple characters who gets a new look every few years, that’s probably for the best.  He fills the role of “Classics Overlord” pretty well.  Certainly better than the TFCC version we got a few years ago.  As much as I like the Bludgeon mold and that figure, he doesn’t work nearly as well as Overlord as the Titans Return figure.

In addition to his two vehicles, Overlord also turns into a pretty nice little base for Titan Masters.  This fulfills the line gimmick of the Leader toys becoming bases and homages back to G1 Overlord, who also became a base.  It’s works really well in this line too given the emphasis on the little Titan Master figures.

Overall, Overlord is just a nice solid toy.  His vehicles and base work well with the Titan Masters.  The robot itself is all around solid and nicely poseable.  He isn’t the most well known character, but he does look the part of being a big menacing bad guy, which is pretty much what he is trying to do.  I’d definitely recommend Overlord.

 

Review – Movie – Monster Trucks

So, I’m kind of a stupid sucker for this sort of thing. Kind of dumb movies based on dumb concepts. Monster Trucks really feels like one of those, in a meeting, guy says “What about, trucks, possessed by MONSTERS. And we could call it…. MONSTER TRUCKS. This is a Nickelodeon film and rated PG, so it’s pretty sanitary in it’s story and presentation. You’re not going to get much more than what you might expect. There’s quite a few faces that you’ll recognize in here as well, though the stars are Lucas Till, from MacGuyver as “Handsome outcast loser kid” and Jane Levy as “Nerdy Girl Love Interest”.

Some spoilerish thoughts and then a less spoilery wrap up beyond that.

Plot Summary

The film starts off with an oil company discovering an underground water source during a drilling operation. After penetrating the tunnels, a mysterious creature escapes from the well (several actually). They capture at least one creature and another hides inside a company truck that was crushed during the explosion.

A few notable characters are introduced, there’s a couple of Oil company people, a corporate jerk and a couple of science folks and there is this animal tracker/exterminator/tough dude hired by the Oil company. Honestly, their names aren’t super important, they are all pretty much just the characters you’d think of in these rolls existing. It’s clear they all basically exist to serve as plot foils for our hero in various ways.

Enter our hero, Tripp (MacGuyver). We get a brief introduction sequence, he seems to be kind of the loner stereotype though he doesn’t really look it, his mom and dad are divorced (the dad was working at the oil field) and his mom seems to be dating the town Sheriff. He also works at the local junk yard with Danny Glover in a wheelchair. The junked Oil company truck is dropped off and Tripp is rather excited by the prospect of taking the engine from it for his junker old timey project truck.

He soon discovers there is more to their truck after finding some missing oil, and later luring out the giant tentacled monster who has been drinking said oil. Around this time the Oil Company enforcer dude shows up with some goons. The monster sneaks off and hides inside Tripp’s Junker truck, where he remains for most of the movie. This also crates our first… Monster Truck. Tripp tells the goons to go ahead and search around while he pushes the truck and the monster out of the garage, where he runs into Jane Levy, who was coming by to help him out with some studying.

The monster starts acting up and she discovers the monster. With the goons quickly approaching they jump in the truck and the monster drives it off. They arrive at Meredith’s place (Jane Levy), where Tripp fixes up the truck so the monster and drive it better.

They take the Monster Truck out for a spin around town and to feed on some gasoline, only to discover gasoline kind of makes the Monster go kind of nutty. After some hi-jinks in the streets they end up ad Tripp’s dad’s place to get some more input on what happened with the Oil Field accident. His dad however rats them out to the Oil Company Goons. After a dramatic chase escape between the Truck, the Goons and the Sheriff, they end up at another place run by Meredith’s family, a cabin out in the woods.

You see kids, this is how we know she likes him, because she keeps hanging out with him and his crazy truck, despite all of the peril they keep getting involved with.

Through this whole crazy escapade, we’ve gotten a few glimpses at the Oil company scientist guy. It seems that he has two additional monsters help in captivity. After some testing, he finds that the monsters are smart and able to communicate telepathically with each other. He also greatly objects to the Oil Exec dude’s plan to kill the creatures so they can get on with drilling up Oil.

So the next morning Tripp and Meredith wake up to find that the monster as left. Fortunately, Meredith’s affections for Tripp are apparently creepier than they have been coming off because she has an app on her phone that is able to track Tripp’s phone, which is in the truck. Creepy much? Tripp doesn’t bat an eye at the fact that she has apparently been secretly stalking him using her cell phone. I mean tracking apps usually need special permissions, which would suggest at some point she snuck this app on her phone.

They track the monster to a facility owned by the Oil Execs and discover the other two creatures. Unfortunately, it was a trap and they are all ambushed and taken prisoner by the Oil Company guys. While being escorted off the premises, Meredith and Tripp are picked up by the Scientist guy, who wants to help the monsters escape so they don’t get killed. The scientists suggests they need to get the monsters back to the vent in the oil field so they can return home. But they need some way to move them fast.

Which brings us to… more… Monster Trucks.

Specifically, they essentially steal a couple of other trucks, rip out the engines and modify them using more stolen parts from a car dealer. But it’s for a good cause, or something.

Our heroes hijack the semi transporting the monsters and meet up with their newly hollowed out trucks. We get an action packed cross country race through the woods and up a mountain to the dig site, and some unexpected help from the Sheriff and our family of monsters is safely returned home. Everyone gets a nice feel good ending.

Thoughts

Ok, so yeah, this movie is definitely designed for a younger audience and it’s a Nick film. Most of the characters are all as a result pretty much cookie cutter stereotypes. The basic plot is… honestly pretty solid, as well as it’s execution. This is accepting the idea of tentacle monsters that like to control trucks is a thing. The real flaw of this film is that it’s a story that’s been done before, Kid (ok, the heroes are like 18 or something but you get the idea), kid finds alien/creature/sea animal and befriends it, corporate/government goons want to stop/kill said creature/alien, usually for “reasons” that amount to “they are the bad guys”. This movie doesn’t break any new ground. It’s still a pretty fun movie, and the special effects are pretty good as are the goofy stunts.

It’s not going to win any awards, but there are worse movies to watch and younger kids will get a kick out of the whole thing for sure.

 

Review – Marvel Legends – Blade (Man-Thing Wave)

The recent Man-Thing BAF wave of Marvel Legends is also known as the Netflix Wave.  Primarily because it consists of Netflix versions of several characters, namely, Daredevil, The Punisher, Elektra and Jessica Jones.  The wave also includes some comic characters though, mostly ones that make sense.  Bullseye and Blade are both sort of in the same “street level” department as out Netflix heroes.  Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I almost wonder if this is sort of a secret preview for some possible future shows from Netflix.  Bullseye is too much of a Daredevil staple that I would be incredibly surprised if he doesn’t show up for Season 3, for example.  Could a Blade Series be int he works?  Maybe a Man-Thing movie?

Marvel Legends Blade

This iteration of Blade is particularly nice because his design works pretty well as both a comic book and a potential MCU Blade figure.  He isn’t based directly on any particular live action Blade (Wesley Snipes or Sticky Fingaz), but he looks like he’s a normal human enough to fit in with an MCU display.  Contrast this with, for example, Bullseye from this same wave, who sort of works but has those slightly exaggerated comic features that make him stand out a bit from all of the realistic MCU designs.  I only really bring up the MCU at all because this is the “Netflix Wave” and this is full of MCU designs.

Marvel Legends Blade

The figure itself is… ok-ish.  I actually have a few issues with the body design.  For starters, his chest is huge.  By chick I mean, his upper chest.  It’s almost comically oversized even by comic standards, because it looks so disproportionate next to his lower body.  Blade definitely feels like he’s been skipping leg day quite a bit.  His bare arms also look a little funky and are full of really ugly joints.  A lot of figures get away with the ugly joints by hiding those parts with armor or some sort of suit, but because it’s just bare skin, they really stick out.  His shoulders are particularly weird in places, they remind me a lot of Cable, where the shoulders are almost set too low to look human.  His sword scabbard/bandolier is also fits oddly, it doesn’t really have any good place where it feels right and it’s generally pretty loose all around.  The sword works well in it and the basic idea is there, I just kind of wish it fit his body better.

Marvel Legends Blade

These design issues are kind of a shame because otherwise the paint and sculpt are pretty great.  The heads both look really good and his chest armor and legs all are nicely done.   I feel like some better choices on the arms would have really helped this figure come off less weird looking.  I almost wonder if there was some thought to giving him a coat at some point as well, since putting the new figure int he old Wesley Snipes Blade’s coat goes a long way to hide a lot of the flaws.

Marvel Legends Blade

Overall, while Blade is not a terrible figure, he’s not without his flaws.  Blade’s time kind of feels like it’s come and gone though and he’s kind of a niche hero, so chances are there isn’t going to be another Blade release in the Marvel Legends line anytime soon.  I will say, as much as I like the old Toybiz Snipes Blade, comparing the two, the new one feels more solid and poseable overall, so he is a good upgrade.  Giving him the old coat helps as well, if you have one floating around.

Marvel Legends Blade

Review – Transformers – Titans Return – Topspin and Twintwist

Where Combiner Wars did it’s duty by giving us remakes of all of the original Combiner Transformers, it also used that opportunity to repaint all of those molds into different versions of the original G1 Autobots.  Titans Return has been moving into a lot more interesting territory.  There’s a lot more updates of Targetmasters, Movie bots and in this case, Jumpstarters.  Topspin and Twintwist were a pair of very similar G1 bots that had one specific gimmick.  Pull them back, and a motor would speed the vehicle along and eventually it would pop up and land on it’s robot feet.  The entire transformation was literally “fold in half at the waist”.

Topspin got sort of an update with the movie line, he appeared in Dark of the Moon as one of the Wreckers, as a blue Lowes NASCAR.  His toy even got a gray colored repaint that kind of worked as his buddy Twintwist.  This iteration had pretty much nothing in common with his namesake aside from a vaguely Blue and White color theme.  The original jumpstarters are more of a turquoise than a blue.

Titans Return has given us a proper update to this pair.  Topspin came first but Twintwist is a straight remold of the Topspin mold.   The new mold isn’t an exact replica of the original space ship/tank thingy, but it’s close enough, and the originals were kind of misshapen anyway to help accommodate the auto transform gimmick.  The transformation is also an actual transformation now, and naturally a lot more complicated.    It’s still reminiscent of the original.  The bulky back end becomes the legs with the sides becoming the arms and the end result looks pretty close to the original robot with better proportions as well.

Like a lot of Transformers lines, the later figures tend to be get better all around, and Topspin is no exception.  He’s definitely one of if not the best mold in the line.  The closest rival is Triggerhappy.  A lot is helped by the way his transformation does a good job of hiding a lot of the hollow bits that have been prevalent lately.  He also does a lot of interesting twists and flips that help him feel like he actually has a complex transformation.  Something else lacking in a lot of figures lately.  Particularly of note is his arms, which do this neat open up and collapse in on the shoulder and hand, often it’s a trick done on one end or the other, not both.

Both vehicles do a great job of lending itself to the Titan Master gimmick.  The space ship design is perfect for a cockpit for the small robot to sit in and pilot.  The little drill tank of Twintwist is a great vehicle for these little guys as well.  Neither was originally a Headmaster but the gimmick fits well.

Topspin and Twintwist are definitely a top notch toys for the Titans Return line.  Twintwist is slightly weaker than his mold originator Topspin.  The guns don’t work as well in the tank mold and the tank dreads kind of just hang off and look ugly in robot mode vs Topspin’s wings.  There’s been a lot of hits in this line but this mold one of the best.  It’s a solid update of a unique and interesting G1 design with a modern appeal layered on top.