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Review – Transformers – Studio Series Black Out

As sort of a last hurrah for the Michal Bay Transformers series, which is effectively done, Hasbro has been doing a sort of “greatest hits” line themed around the movies called Studio Series.  It’s not a bunch of re-releases though, it’s new molds of most of the figures, with an emphasis on Robot Mode Scale.  It’s also a way for Hasbro to give us better versions of a lot of characters who aren’t named Bumblebee or Optimus Prime.  Often in the case of movie toys, for the sake of spoilers, toy companies end up working from pre production art and general descriptions or stills.  They need to have the toys out when the movie releases, so they are working on the toys before the final movie vision is in place.  So in the end, things don’t always end up being a perfect representation.  Studio Series goes back to fix some of these issues.

The original Black Out toy from the first movie way back in 2007, isn’t really a bad toy, or a bad iteration of the character.  His main offense is that he’s kind of too small.  Black Out is one of the largest characters across all of the movies, and his Voyager toy isn’t awful, but it doesn’t really give off the proper huge vibes he deserves.  For Studio Series, Blackout gets a Leader sized toy.  The only other Leader Class figure so far is Grimlock from Age of Extinction.

He is definitely a nice size for Studio series at this scale, though he is actually quite a bit smaller than Leader figures from the Generations lines (Currently Power of the Primes) and even previous movie figures.  Leader Class Blackout is noticeably smaller than Leader Class Starscream from the previous movie lines, for example.  If you’re a real stickler for scale, Blackout is still going to be too small to go with a lot of the previous movie Transformers.

Blackout is still a pretty nice looking Transformer though.  He is full of the little greebley bits that really made the live action style what it was during the Bay era.  There are a surprising amount of little tab places on the fold over parts as well, particularly in his arms and shoulders.  The whole robot doesn’t really look solid, but it is.  I have had a little bit of trouble with one leg popping off the mushroom peg joint when turning it, it goes back on, but it’s kind of an issue.  All of the little bits hanging off everywhere also tend to hinder articulation a lot.  He has plenty of joints, but he can’t really use all of them.  He also is pretty back heavy due to his backpack, which doesn’t help when trying to balance any poses.  Probably the last major gripe about his little claw hands, which have no way or rotating them to do anything besides look like little flippers hanging off his arms.  He has thumbs and everything, but the greebles and lack of wrists just makes them useless.

One final note of worry on the robot mode, the flat part of the feet are made up of two panels that later make up the sides of the helicopter tail.  I seriously worry that these panels will end up scraped up and nasty looking after being used as feet, over time.

Transformation leans back into the complexity of the early movie lines as well, which will be a turn off for some people, and probably most kids.  There is a lot of “do this in this order” and “position this just right” going on with panels and whatnot that need to properly mush together.  It’s not a real hard transformation, it just can be tricky in getting everything massaged into place.  Also, I found the joint holding the pelvis and back together on mine to be extremely tight.  I knew it needed to separate and flip up, but it required enough force to free it that it made me uncomfortable pulling on it and I was worried it might break.

The helicopter itself is very nice, it’s appropriately large as well, almost 12 inches long.  Like his 2007 version, Blackout includes a small Scorponok figure and like the 2007 figure, the Scorponok can be inserted into the tail area of Blackout’s vehicle.  There isn’t really much else to the helicopter, there isn’t any spring loaded helicopter gimmick or missile launchers, it’s just a nice looking military chopper.

Ultimately, I feel like Blackout is a pretty cool sort of display piece, maybe not a super great toy.  He looks really good in both modes, but the joint issues and complex transformation make his playability kind of weak.  Also, the price tag of Leader class figures at $50 USD frankly.  This is more of a personal complaint with the latest trends of Transformers pricing though.

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 – 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 – 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 – 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.

Review – Marvel Legends – Wal-Mart Falcon (6″)

Poor Falcon, Major player in 2 Captain America Movies with a guest bit in Ant-Man.  He’s even probably getting groomed  up to be the replacement Captain America, if Bucky doesn’t get there first.  Like Scarlet Witch, he’s gone for too long without getting a 6″ figure.  I imagine a lot of this reason is his huge wings.  This sort of accessory really doesn’t work too well with the current model of figure + BAF part.  That’s probably part of why his release was a Wal-Mart exclusive along with a better repaint of The Winter Solider, in their own little wave.

The core piece here is of course, the wings.  The wings are certainly very huge and very nice looking, however there’s no articulation in them.  This is probably both good and bad.  It of course sucks for pose variety.  On the other hand, articulated wings on figures this size tend to amount to a hinge in one point that results in some funky gaps when extended too far in one direction or another.  At the very least, some sort of hinge at the backpack would have been nice so the entire wing could swing up, down or straight out, but alas, it’s not there.

You can sort of fake a forward and backward sweep to the wings.  The way the pegs work, they can peg on the front side or backside of the backpack, which will make them swing forward or backwards, depending on how they are pegged on.  If the top and bottom holes were the same size you could fake an up and down sweep as well, though the coloring would be upside down with them turned upside down.  Alas, you can’t actually do this since the pegs are different, probably done because of the coloration issue.

The base figure is decent, it looks like Falcon, he’s nicely poseable for flying and standing poses.  He doesn’t come with any weapons though I imagine the budget mostly went into the Wings.  He does include his little remote drone which showed up several times in Civil War.

This is the first and only 6″ MCU Falcon figure we’ve gotten so far.  It’s a decent depiction, though the backpack could be better.  I doubt we get a better version in the future though, any future Falcon figures will probably just use a repaint of this same wing pack now that they have the mold.

Review – S.H. Figuarts Ranma (Female)

Getting Sailor Moon Figuarts was a surprise.  But not a huge surprise when you consider there was a new redesigned series put out recently.  Getting Ranma 1/2 Figuarts was the real surprise.  For the most part the anime Figuarts I see tend to be based on newer anime and manga that I’ve never heard of.  But here we are, with Ranma 1/2 in glorious highly articulated plastic form.  Sadly it kind of seems like we’ll never actually get Panda Genma who was featured when these were announced.

The first release is the female version of Ranma.  In case you are unfamiliar with the premise, Ranma is a harem comedy anime series and manga, which follows the various romantic relationships surrounding Ranma and his crazy pack of friends and enemies.  The gimmick of the show, is that a lot of the characters carry some sort of curse, generally originating from the Jusenkyo Springs where they change into a different form and back when exposed to hot or cold water.  In the case of the title character, Ranma transforms between a boy and girl due to Ranma falling into the Spring of Drowned Girl.

That’s a pretty gross oversimplification, but that’s the general idea.  Originally shown in the announcement were both male and female Ranma as well as a giant Panda Genma, Ranma’s father.  Ranma here is pretty awesome, probably my favorite Figuarts of all of the ones I own (though Tuxedo Mask is a close second).

A lot of what I like is just how well balanced she is, which is really essential given the martial arts nature of the series.  Part of the plot of Ranma is that everyone has some sort of crazy martial arts fighting style.  Being able to pose Ranma doing martial arts moves really helps sell the figure.

She also has a great selection of alternate faces.  There’s a big smile, a small smile, a frowny serious face and the embarrassed face.  That last one is a lot of fun since as one might imagine, a dude turning into a girl could result in a lot of embarrassing situations.

There is also a good assortment of accessories and alternative hands.  The female version of Ranma also includes a hot kettle, which compliments the cold water bucket included with the male counterpart.

In case you can’t tell, I really like this figure.  Probably the biggest downside is that she’s a little boring without some of the other Ranma Figuarts to go with her.  Also, if you’re not a fan of the source material, there really isn’t a lot of incentive to pick her up.  This is definitely the best Ranma figure available, since it both looks good and is loaded with articulation and parts, in traditional Figuarts style.

Review – Transformers – Generations – Brainstorm

If you’ve been keeping track, you might have noticed that I’ve gone through all of the original 7 Headmaster’s remakes from Titan’s Returns.  You might have been expecting the last review here to cover Titan’s Return Brainstorm.  Well, you’d be almost correct.  The thing is, I have Generations Brainstorm already, and I don’t really need Titan’s Return Brainstorm, so instead, you’re getting Generations Brainstorm.

If you follow some of the recent lines just before Combiner Wars, it kind of felt like Hasbro was exploring and experimenting with ideas for future lines.  We got Scoop with his Trigger masters, and the Minicon combiner team, and Brainstorm here, the first Headmaster in years, I believe since Transformers Energon with it’s Omega Supreme and Minicon head.  Before that was Armada Sideways with his swappable headmasters.

As our first modern Headmaster, Brainstorm is pretty good.  There were some early reports about issues with the neck joint on the Headmaster and body, but rumor has it that problem was fixed.  He even fakes the classic power level gimmick with a flip down panel inside his chest that activates when the Headmaster is attached.

The Headmaster itself is a little iffy though, the arms are large chunks with the arm bits painted on in the appropriate areas.    He looks nice for the most part for such a small figure though.  He works well with his little cockpit in space ship mode.

The new headmasters though aren’t compatible at all.  There is a size difference for starters, which breaks the port set up.  In the broader sense though, I like the size difference here just because it makes for some nice variety from “All Deluxe scale”.  I also am not huge on swapping the heads between bodies, so I don’t really mind that there is a lack of compatibility.

So I’m not saying the Titans Return Brainstorm is bad, he’s based on one of the better molds in the line, but I just really like this version of Brainstorm from a few years earlier in Generations.