Sunday, June 29, 2008

A small plug for The Geek Hub

They say that once you get one tattoo you get addicted and start thinking about the next one. I used to dream of a little GL or Atom symbol etched somewhere discreet, but Mrs AFB made it pretty clear awhile ago that was a no go - something about melting all my toys into a giant vase.. or that might have been melting my boys into something - either way it sounded pretty dire....

Anyway, I've discovered blogging is pretty addictive too. There's lots of stuff outside of toys that I have a take on, but I try to keep AFB as on-topic to the action figure world as possible so I've refrained from posting it here.

The solution: I'm officially bi-blogual. I'd love you to have a look at The Geek Hub, which is where I'm going to be geeking out on more general comics, SciFi, TV/Film and web stuff. I don't know what shape it will take yet but I'll try to keep it current.

Nothing will change here, and the other blog may not be for you, but I thought I'd give it one plug to give it a start!



Saturday, June 28, 2008

Mini Toygasm

My great customising friend Jackknight92 has some breaking news pics of the Alex Ross JSA Wave One toys over at the Doosh. (Worth a look, however if you've never trod the hallowed and harrowing boards of the Doosh before- be warned, some of it isn't for the faint-hearted!)

I'll let you look at the whole range over there because it's Jack's scoop, but I had to have a Legion-related geek-out about the Starman figure here. I'm generally enthusiastic about the wave - good to see Jay looking his age, but I'll be throwing things around the room if Sand doesn't have a removable helmet or swappable head. I could also start writing all the irate posts people will be making when these coming out about how they don't fit with any other JSA figs - get over it now guys!!

Anyway, back to Thom - I'm going to have to have one of the for the Kingdom Come display and one one for the JSA display, and then I'm going to have to have one that can be customised to a Levitz-era LSH Thom with a beard - can anyone suggest a figure with a good bearded dude headsculpt???

Of course, he's prolly not going to fit in with any other BA Legionnaire I get made, but right now, I really don't care!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Anyone want to help a mate out?

Gotta love Con exclusives, especially when you live a bizbillion miles away from all of the cons! Action Figure Insider has given the heads up on a couple of exclusives that this Aussie (by marriage) lad is drooling over, but the household coffers probably aren't up to funding an overseas trip just to get them. I just thought I'd put these out there in case any of AFB's tens of loyal readers (actually it seems like we're building up to more than that but I'll be cautious in my estimating) are feeling super generous in the con season.

Firstly, I loves my new Battlestar Galactica and related figures, even if the 2nd wave of DST toys is taking FOREVER to come out and the 3rd wave seems to have lost the plot a bit with the inclusion of Razor characters before we have key players like Cmdr. Adama, Roslin, Tigh or Baltar.....

But I digress - my BSG collection simply won't be complete without the groovy DST SDCC Exclusive Blood-Spattered Cylon!! Colour me weird, but why does this one appeal to me 100 times more than the non blood-spattered version?? Maybe we don't want the answer to that.

And then there's the Alex Ross Flash Gordon. I know that lots of folk have "issues" with Ross' seeming need to remake everything he likes into his own image, but I'm a bit of a Flash Gordon tragic (Flash!! Ah-ahhhhhhhhhh...!! - need I say more??)

This exclusive is "Classic Flash" in his football gear - complete with football!! Even better, it's in the 7" scale so will fit right in with Ross JUSTICE figures. That sounds cynical, but I really do want this figure. Even though it's Ross. It's Flash Gordon. That wins. Just.

Last year my LCS managed to get in the Star Trek TWOK SDCC Exclusives so I'm hoping they can help me. Dang it's hard to be on the other side of the world at this time of year!

I just keep reminding myself that my mother and I get along much better on different continents.......

Flash!! Ah-ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Many thanks to AFI for the news and pics)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Showcase: Towering over the rest

Scalists beware: Showcase Presents Series One is not the wave for you. Stay away, and I mean you need to give this a really wide berth, unless you want to run into Batgirl's hips. Trust me, if you do, you won't win.

Now AFB is not a scalist, but totally understands why his scalist friends would and are going bananas (like, brown and squishy bananas) about these figures. The best way for someone who wants an in-scale DC Universe to enjoy these is either to pretend they don't exist or to keep them MIB in their lovely packaging. Opening them up will only end in tears.

From all I'd read and seen before I got my own set I was all ready to do some serious hating on these mammoth monstrosities, but once I'd opened them and had a look I had a bit of an epiphany as to the state of the world which I'll get to in a moment. With that in mind I'm willing to give the wave a review on its own merits.

The packaging of these is a definitely a highlight, so much so that I really hesitated about opening them. I decided that I'll probably pick up a second version of my favourite (tell you in a moment) to have an example of the packaging for posterity. The card enclosed is very nice and folds out to promote recent DCD waves which is a nice touch. The back of the card is different for each figure which is also a bit special.

Overall quality control on the figures I bought are excellent. I have read a number of complaints about sloppy paint apps on these but mine are pretty much perfect and the other figures I've seen are the same. The figures are well articulated and apart from Batgirl are well accessorised.

Superman is great if you look at him as a Silver Age Superman, not so great if you were hanging on this to be your Curt Swan Supes. His body proportions are just a bit off and the headsculpt isn't really Swan. I like the extra heads and hands. My eldest daughter, who has previously expressed great interest in the properties and effects of Kryptonite, is over the moon about this figure. I would have liked a lion's mane that extended past the flesh colour on Supes' neck to complete the effect. If I forget that this is meant to be a Curt Swan Supes then I quite like this figure.

Jonah Hex is nothing short of awesome. I love the headsculpt and facial scar, the pattern of the colour on his jacket which well simulates denim and his two guns, one of which fits snugly in his holster. One improvement would have been a hat which fits a little more snugly on his head as it sits a bit "on top" of his head as opposed to "on" it. But that's pretty picky - this is a figure to love for sure.

From the solicits, I expected to like Hawkman the least because of his headsculpt which I wasn't really familiar with, but this has turned out to be my pick of the wave. I've read that others struggled to find a Hawkman with a well painted Hawk symbol but thankfully mine is neat and tidy. His wings fit in easily and he's well proportioned. I hadn't realised that his mask fits over a headsculpt. My big disappointment with the Justice Hawkman was that the Carter head underneath was a pinhead in order to fit the helmet - this one is a big improvement on that. The only thing about displaying him without his helmet is that the way his head is structured to fit the helmet means that without it his face is very downcast.

On her own, Batgirl really is quite an outstanding figure and I quite prefer her to the insipid SA version from the original boxsets. I do think she could have come with some accessories like Batarangs etc especially since the other figures in the wave are well set out in this area. She's the only figure I'll go into detail about scale about: she really is disproportionate to alot of figures you'd want to display her with. She sortof fits in with Justice but is out of place era wise. Obviously DCD wasn't aiming to make these figures in scale with others, but even so Batgirl seems like a production mistake, which is a shame because the sculpt is absolutely excellent.

Batgirl in fact isn't even really in scale with Superman, but it was looking at these two together that something dawned on me: these figures come from a time in comics when stories stood on their own, and characters weren't "in scale" with each other, let alone a "universe", since the concept didn't exist. A time when fans would have been tickled pink to have these amazing representations of their favourite characters and taken them for what they are: great toys.

Before Brewer and co grab this article and make me their poster boy, I'm not defending them. Someone accused me today of being a DCD apologist. O-kay. Look, this little blogger knows that Brewer doesn't understand his client base and that this wave is the latest in a long line of either extremely incompetent or extremely arrogant moves. No question. Is it wrong to want an in-scale DCU? Of course not. Could DCD have delivered that? Yes, and those who set out collecting thinking that would be the case have a right to be jaded and cynical.

I'm not talking about DCD, I'm talking about us. Maybe, just maybe, we contributed to this mess in the first place by wanting everything to connect, by wanting "universes", by wanting everything "in scale". What's the cost? In my book, we've sacrificed good stories, sound writing and characterisation for continuity, crossovers and meaningless event after event. The idea is so appealing. I read CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS as a teenager and it felt like a new age was dawning, so exciting, but where are we now? Has it been worth it? The best comics I've read recently, DC, Marvel or other, don't connect to anything, they stand as outstanding stories on their own. Good times.

These figures could have integrated into existing lines if the scale had been nailed, but it wasn't. Let that stop you from buying them if you want, that's cool. Mine are going in their own spot to remind me that end of the day we all take this stuff a bit too seriously at times.

And now? Back to the LCS to get another Hawkman to keep an example of the packaging, and another Superman for the eldest daughter's Christmas bag.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Mmmmm!! Mighty Muggs!!

The last thing AFB really needs is another obsession. I have quite a number of shelves and storage boxes full of them after all, not to mention that growing section of the linen press that Mrs AFB keeps mentioning she'd like to reclaim for stuff like.... well, linen.

So when I first saw the Hasbro Mighty Muggs versions of some of the Star Wars characters, I breathed a little sigh of relief that they were pretty likely to show their cute little faces in Aussieland, because I was pretty sure I wouldn't be able to resist them.

BIG mistake then to go to the big comic shop in the city last weekend! There they were, flashing their funny little forms and big heads, their clever and attractive packaging, and I was very lucky to walk out with just Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia.

Don't know why, but while the Marvel superhero versions of these don't really appeal to me, I can't get enough of the Star Wars line. They're so funny looking they really work. They're made of 100% recycled materials, and everyone that looks at them needs to touch them to see if they're inflated, metal or what. They feel more solid than you expect.

The lines are very clear, colours bright and well applied. They have arm, leg and neck artculation and come with cute accessories in the same inflated-look style.

Definitely an A+++ product, but like I said I don't need another obsession, so Luke and Leia are going to the bookshelves at work, and I'm definitely not buying any more. Really.

That guy that called the shop to ask them to put aside C3PO and Yoda using my voice? Total impersonator.

Friday, June 13, 2008

DCD Pops its Con Exculsive Cherry

It's been a long time coming: DC Direct will officially issue its first Convention Exclusives at this year's San Diego Comic Con and Wizard World Chicago. Opinion is strongly divided on whether this long awaited entry is a bang or a whimper.

On offer will be retooled versions of the Batman and Joker figures from the recent Batman & Son series. The Bats is a black & grey version of the original blue and grey and interestingly the Bat Prongs are less stumpy than the original. The Joker is a bigger retool with a straight jacket and bare feet similar to his appearance in the recent Batman vs. The Joker statue. (Thought: I hope this new Joker is steady on his feet - my Batman & Son Joker toppled off the shelf so many times I had to put him away!!)

The packaging of these exclusives is outstanding. The style of the design and artwork is very similar to the boxes for the 13" figures and it seems that the packaging inside allows for good looking display in package if desired.

I've read a lot of complaints about the choice of figures for these con exclusives, but it seems to me this is a bit short sighted. Sure, I'd rather DCD was putting out B'wana Beast and a Silver Age Brainiac as much as the next collector, but are we really the target audience for these exclusives? It seems to me this is a great opportunity for DCD to pull in a wider range of fanboys and girls, and capitalising on the Batman / Joker hype from The Dark Knight movie is a pretty sensible move.
The flipside of course is that by offering retooled figures as opposed to originals the core DCD fanbase is less likely to chase these down and go crazy over them the way us crazy fanboys / girls (fanpersons???) tend to do. Doubtless a whole swag of these will still end up on eBay at ridiculous prices.
All up I think these are a great effort for the big picture and I don't think DCD is deserving of the bad rap some are giving them in this instance. Obviously this little Aussieland resident won't be hitting the cons to pick these up, but I'll be hoping one of my reliable Yankee mates will help me out so I don't have to go down the auction road.
Now, DCD, about that B'wana Beast................

Sunday, June 08, 2008

The Killing Joke Boxset: A Killer Indeed

I'm sure it's just a weird coincidence that the DCD stuff I don't pre-order is somehow always strategically positioned near the counter of my LCS when I come in to pick up my standing order. Am I that predictable that my resolve not to buy something can be melted so quickly? Well, duh. To be fair to myself, I am developing a more steely resolve - it's not just about what I like, but what I can afford / have room for. I'm learning, if slowly.

I really hadn't planned to buy The Killing Joke Boxset. A couple of things influenced my decision to pick it up: firstly I didn't own a copy of the Killing Joke TPB, secondly the prices of figures here are really dropping at the moment thanks to the strong Aussie dollar. and finally I think this Batman would be displacing the recent JLA version as my favourite Bats to date, if not for one little thing I'll get to in a moment.

I like the 2 pack with TPB idea, and it's extra nice to see DCD offering a 2 pack with original figures again, even if these are going to be recycled in slightly different forms in another wave later in the year. I would love to see this concept branch out past the Superbat world but the market doesn't seem to want to support that. They know not what they miss!
I wasn't sure I really needed the Joker in Hawaiian garb, but these are solid figures to be sure. Paint apps were excellent on all of the sets that I saw. My Batman has the tiniest bleed of flesh paint from his chin to his mask, so small I didn't notice it when I looked him over in the shop. Bats also has a very visible seam down the front of his left leg which seems as though it could have been ironed out in QC.

I love the Joker's camera accessory, but was surprised that his hat wasn't removable. Works for me since these little bits tend to get lost in my world quickly (I have a cat that looooves to play with fallen accessories) but I have a feeling this might irk keener collectors. I like the camera accessory very much and his gun and glass of drink sit snugly in his hands. His facial expression captures the artwork very well, and he may well be my favourite Joker representation to date - if his hat came off he surely would be.

Batman is an excellent figure - I love the peaks on the shoulders of his cape - it really enhances the Bat-look. I like that they seem to have worked out how to give him an ominous cape that doesn't prevent him from standing properly (finally had to put my Batman & Son Bats, or as my youngest called him, "Batman with little prongs", away for that reason). I also want to throw a ticker tape parade for DCD for producing two Batmen in a row (this and JLA Bats) with straight Bat-prongs, after a nasty run of the bends on previous figures. Huzzah!

The "but" for me in this Bats is the acid burn on his arm. Why oh why??? It's quite an effectively done acid burn, with bubbly flesh and all, but was it that essential to the storyline as to be immortalised in plastic? Interestingly, the burn doesn't feature in any of the packaging photography - in one photo it is obscured by his cape and on the back the Joker's arm is posed to hide it. It also isn't pictured on the DCD website. Why include that and then not make it a feature? Because it's dumb, that's why. Accurate, but not significant enough to warrant a figure = silly. Here's hoping the Secret Files Series 3 Hugo Strange with alternate Bats figure is as good a shot at this figure minus the acid burn - could be an excellent Bats.

The biggest snag for me in this set was quite unexpected: reading "The Killing Joke" after all these years reminded me about a time when comics were actually written instead of just a set of semi-scripted action sequences. It made me nostalgic for really good comics and caused me to reevaluate my pull list!

Again, I'm a fan of the 2 pack / TPB idea, especially with first-run figures. This was a good effort and a fairly obvious storyline to exploit for the genre. As with most things, It would be great to see DCD edge outside the Superbat world for this format, or even work a but more creatively like going back some old Brave & the Bold or Superboy & the Legion fun to bring us something really different alongside something they know will sell.

Not a home run, but not a bad effort - besides that acid burn!! Let's stick to the truly essential wounds from now on, okay, DCD?

Sunday, June 01, 2008

ST Wrath of Khan, Series "Two"

Everywhere you look, there's a closet Trekkie. I uncovered another one at my workplace the other day. Some you can guess a mile away, but I always get a kick out of the ones you wouldn't pick. I also get a kick out of the people that don't "get" Trek and its fans - little do they know that we think they're the suspect ones!

I just can't get enough of DST / Art Asylum's Star Trek series. Apart from a slight scale slip-up in the Next Generation Series (teeny Data and Geordi) these figures have been pretty consistent and very rewarding to collect. Basing a series on the Wrath of Khan film, which IMHO is the best Original Series film by far, is a great idea.

"Series Two" is actually the third series of TWOK figures (the second was a SDCC exclusive wave). It consists of Spock, Uhura, Saavik (the Kirstie Alley one) and Kirk in his Starfleet winter jacket or whatever the technical term for it is.

This wave picks up where the previous two have left off: excellent QC and great likenesses of everyone except Kirk. I have read that for whatever reason Shatner's face is hard to reproduce in plastic and once again that is proven true here, but the rest of team and the overall look is so authentic that I was able to look past it and call this wave a near home-run.
I would say it certainly isn't for lack of trying: the likeness of Leonard Nimoy is spot-on, and Uhura and Saavik aren't too bad (altho Mrs AFB reckons Saavik doesn't look anything like Rebecca from Cheers. Hello.) I do find the DST Star Trek females can have a bit of a vacant expression and that is somewhat the case here.

The paint apps are excellent and the detailing on the uniforms is intricately done. My winter jacket Kirk has a tiny paint rub on the front of his hair which may be from wear in the packet - I didn't notice it until he was out.

One thing that I find bemusing with the DST Star Trek figures is that almost all of the men seem to stand just ever so slightly crooked, as if one leg is incrementally longer than the other. Maybe it's all that exposure to space rays and stuff that happens when you're a futuristic astronaut....

As usual, extra hands and weapons abound. Not being a huge accessories person I could live without these but I know that for some they are a drawcard of the line.

Scalewise, these figures fit in perfectly with the previous waves, as per the sample photo. No full group shot sorry - I don't have room to display this set at present so they're not all out of the packet. One quibble: the IMDB lists Nichelle Nicholls as 5' 5" and Kirstie Alley as 5' 8", and yet the Uhura figure is a but taller than Saavik. Seems someone should have picked that up.

Hearty congratulations to DST / Art Asylum for excellent work with this wave - very rewarding. I did see the "Death of Spock" 2-pack in my LCS but budget restrictions prevent its purchase as present, however it also looked very good.

I am looking forward to the next wave of Next Generation figures (Ensign Ro!) but the jury is out on the Original Motion Picture Kirk / Spock two-pack - that will be a wait and see. Those figures will have to be pretty darn amazing to erase my memories of the dreadful film.......
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