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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.

Review – Metroid: Samus Returns (3DS)

The Good

  • Solid game play from a solid franchise
  • Nice little additions and changes from the original Metroid II
  • Good visuals

The Bad

  • Repetitive enemies and play mechanics
  • Bosses are disproportionately difficult compared to everything else
  • Very linear game play for a “Metroidvania” style game.

In Depth

Metroid: Samus Returns is a 3DS update and remake of the original Metroid II on Game Boy.  It’s essentially to Metroid II, what Zero Mission is to the original Metroid.  The maps in Samus Returns are a little closer to the original Metroid II maps than Zero Mission and Metroid, but there are some changes and additions.  Samus Returns adds Super Missiles and power bombs to Samus’ arsenal, for example, and there is a map revealing scope mechanism as well as the addition fo the Grappling beam.  A lot of the added items are things added during Metroid 3, that became regular staples of the series.

The entire game also has a modern overhaul.  Instead of sprites, everything is polygons and the game is playable in 3D mode, though it is a 2D platform title.  Only one new boss uses the 3D mechanics in 3D space, everything else operates in classic 2D Metroid style.  I really enjoy this style of game, so I am admittedly biased towards the play style.  The game is lacking a bit in the Metroidvania department however.  A lot of the areas have 2 or 3 main path loops that the player must traverse and there isn’t a lot of backtracking done aside from picking up items later, and a lot of this backtracking needs to be done close to the end of the game since you don’t even find the weapon needed to unlock these items until later in the game.  The game itself is broken up into 8 Areas, all generically named “Area”.  The Areas are gate blocked by special pedestals that only open the way after collecting a certain number of Metroid DNA samples.  There isn’t a lot of explanation to what these pedestals are but it’s most likely Chozo related, in classic Metroid fashion.

The core of the game is fun, and everything about the remake works well and helps flesh out the game play from the original title.  Metroid II has always been one of the weaker titles in the series and fleshing it out and giving it a bit more connection to the world of Metroid at large.  Despite taking place on the homeworld of the alien Metroid creatures, it’s always felt a little separated.  Partly because even the Metroids themselves are all mutated “mature” versions that don’t fit the usual Bubble with Claws image of what a Metroid is supposed to be.

Which leads into the core problem with this game, and with Metroid II.  The basic plot involves killing Metroids of various types, more powerful than the last, in order to proceed through the game.  There are 4 types of Metroids, not counting the Queen, and you fight each type several times.  These 40 fights end up being extremely samey as a result.  This problem is exacerbated by Alpha and Gamma Metroid being, more or less the same thing and each of the Omega Metroid battles are literally identical.  There is some variation in the fights by using different environments, sometimes over lava or damaging plants or around movement hindering water, but they all use the same general mechanics until you each the Omega Metroids.  Some of the battles have these moments where the Metroid runs off into a nearby room, which honestly just makes things even more tedious since it mostly just means passing a simple and annoying ball mode tunnel puzzle to progress the fight.

This repetition in boss fights isn’t helped by the normal level enemies either, there’s something like 6 or 7 different ones in different colors that you face… over… and over… and over…  They respawn extremely quickly as well, so sometimes just traveling back and forth a room you get to battle the same enemies over and over.  The game also introduces this gimmicky melee counter attack.  Enemies will charge you, you counter them, then you effectively one shot them if the counter hits.  If you miss, or just try to kill the enemy, you get to shoot it normally, often a dozen or more times.  The whole thing is designed around encounter, wait for charge, counter attack, kill, which itself is slow and tedious the 100th time you perform the action.

There is a new boss that’s added to the game that shows up a few times.  A large Chozo digging robot pops up early on, awakened by Samus.  It later shows up during a stage sequence where you must outrun it’s massive destructive drill arms while passing over and through obstacles.  Eventually you battle it out with the boss.  It’s probably the most difficult boss in the game, though not the final boss, and it’s a nice change of pace from the repetition of the Metroids.

Despite the repetition, it’s a fun game.  It’s not the best Metroid title but it’s a welcome update to one of the less enjoyably and probably less played games int he Metroid franchise.  The new additions do a lot of good freshening things up and the updated graphics are a great step up from the cramped old Game Boy title.

Sentinel – 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)