Saturday, August 9, 2008

Plastic Fantastic

A quick review of some recent toy acquisitions:

Star Wars The Force Unleashed Battle-Damaged Darth Vader (Hasbro) – I buy very, very few Star Wars figures anymore but once in a while one comes along that I just have to get. It’s hard to put into words why I wanted this particular Vader figure – I don’t know anything about this game it’s based on, or care – but part of it is that I’ve always been fascinated with the Anakin Skywalker that lurks beneath the armor of Darth Vader. This figure is both insane and cool, broaching the secrecy of who Vader is within the fiction of the pre-First Trilogy era and daring to present a Dark Lord that can be this damaged by an opponent. The detail is great with fun pieces that detach and give glimpses of the both the ravaged Anakin underneath and his “more machine than man” parts. I dig the package graphics, too. Hasbro’s got some of the Star Wars action figure mojo back its lost in more recent years with this and the McQuarrie concept figures.

New Teen Titans Series 2 Robin (DC Direct) – I’m not a huge Titans fan but I am a pretty big Dick Grayson Robin fan and this figure looked so good in the solicitations. I’m happy to say that the actual production figure is almost as good, with a fantastic sculpt, good paint apps, and enough articulation to satisfy a few display poses. This figure partnered with DC Direct’s First Appearance Robin, the Silver Age Robin from the boxed set, and the 1/6 scale Robin complete a quartet of Robin goodness that I could only have dreamed of as a kid; I can’t imagine needing any more Dick Grayson Robins after this. My only small gripes are the over-abundance of blue, blobby highlights on the hair and the decidedly unimaginative stand graphics.

Showcase Presents Series 1 Hawkman (DC Direct) – In the upcoming “Hawkman Companion” from TwoMorrows I wrote in my contributor bio that I thought the ultimate/perfect Hawkman action figure had yet to be made – well, this might be it, kids. I love the sculpting on this one. It portrays both strength and oddly enough a kind of grace, which if you look at Joe Kubert’s art could hardly come as a surprise. The wings fit easily into the holes in the figures back and are designed to help Carter stand perfectly. The Morningstar accessory is very nice indeed and the mask fits snugly. My caveats here would be that the “pupil” paint apps on the mask’s “eyes” are too stark, not being connected to the upper eyelid like in the original artwork and the solicitation pics. It gives the figure a bug-eyed look. Also, it seems as if the original prototype had a ball-jointed neck or it was originally sculpted in a straight-ahead fashion. The production figure’s head is stuck looking downward. Small nitpick.

Marvel Mighty Muggs The Thing (Hasbro) – God help me but I’m now a Mighty Muggs fan. I resisted at first, viewing them simply as mass-produced knock-offs of the whole “artist/designer toy” craze, but these little guys wormed their way into my heart. It was this very one, The Thing, that did it. Other Star Wars and Marvel Mighty Muggs came and went under my gaze but ol’ Ben Grimm, my favorite Marvel hero, is so cool as a Mugg that I broke down and picked him up at Wizard World Chicago. I appreciate the heck out of the deco’ing on these figures and coupled with some really nice package graphics makes for a wonderful little treat – and a nice break from “standard” action figures. Now I just have to control myself. If they make a Son of Satan, Black Knight, or Stingray Mighty Mugg – I’m sunk.

DC Minimates Series 7 Blackhawk & Sgt. Rock (DC Direct/Art Asylum) – DC Minimates are dead – but what a way to go-go. I know this set has been out for a little while but I just got around to picking them – and glad I did. These two soldiers are loaded up with “extras”, unique pieces that are above and beyond the call of duty for Minimates. I’m a huge Blackhawk fan so this set was a must for me and the Rock figure reminds me of so many great “Brave & the Bold” stories of my kid-dom was an added bonus. The little pistols look cool in Blackhawk's hands and while Rock can’t really hold his rifle properly his rugged “chest” piece has sculpted ammo clips, grenades, and a knife. If that wasn’t enough, his helmet comes off to reveal his deco’ed buzzcut – too cool. If only Blackhawk’s hat was removable without taking his hair along with it. Ah well, the series is on its last legs and I’m very, very glad to have gotten these characters in it before they play “taps”.

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