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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Cat worth waiting for!

DC Direct has been very delay prone this year, although mostly in the 6” figure department. Statues have been a bit more on time, but the Cover Girls of the DC Universe: Catwoman statue ended up arriving very late for some reason that will most likely never be known, giving DCD’s chronic lack of communication with us wee fans.

The numerous delays had me wondering if there was going to be some kind of killer flaw in the final product, but happily this is not the case. I love the Black Canary and Zatanna statues in this line and like the Wonder Woman, but the Catwoman statue has gone straight to the top of the class for me, which says alot because I am not a huge fan of the character.

Of all of the statues so far, this one most brings the original Adam Hughes art to life – the face and eyes are especially is very well done – she looks stunning. The effect used to make the leather “look” is excellent. The pose is excellent, and I like the use of flexible plastic for bits that might otherwise break, like Catwoman’s “tail”.

Interestingly, while the Black Canary statue was packed with its base detached to minimise the size of the box, this is not the case here. This may because Catwoman was actually supposed to come out before Black Canary and it’s a running change to the line. I hope that’s the case, as I like the smaller boxes both from environmental and storage perspectives.

This is a great line, and I’m looking forward to the upcoming Power Girl, the announced Poison Ivy and hopefully a long life for this line. Vixen, Huntress and Big Barda would be the top of my list for future releases.

You can see more pics at Facebook, discuss this at the AFB Forum, and enter the December AFB Comment of the Month Contest by commenting on this post.

Until next time!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Happy Holidays! The AFB Christmas Stash

Happy Holidays from AFB! Here’s hoping that you’ve been able to celebrate the season with good company, good food and a good stash of goodies (although I doubt you received anything quite as bizarre as a Nick Fury Christmas Cover!).

Here in the AFB Household, I have long been responsible for doing my own Christmas shopping for anything toy or comic related, while Mrs AFB and the AFB-ettes handle the categories of Non-Comic-Related Things Dad Will Read, Dad’s Intimate Apparel and Things That (Try To) Make Dad Smell Good.

This Christmas I decided to treat myself to some nice statues, but sadly two did not arrive on time, so we’ll see them another day. Luckily my LCS got their pre-Christmas shipment in to I was able to give the family a couple of smaller items to wrap up in their place.

The AFB Christmas Stash ended up being: The DC Direct Cover Girls of the DCU Catwoman Statue, DC’s Absolute Justice,  the DC Direct History of the DC Universe Series 3, Marvel Select Daredevil figure and the Marvel / Kotobukiya Rogue Bishoujo PVC Statue, which was a surprise find at my LCS and something that I have been coveting since it come out awhile ago – a nice Christmas surprise! Not a bad haul, even if some of it wasn’t originally intended to be  Christmas booty.

Over time I’ll get to individual looks at most of these but I wanted to get a group shot up now as part of my holiday wishes.

What did you get for Christmas? Share your stash here (and enter the December AFB Comment of the Month Contest) or log on to the 2009 Christmas Stash Thread at the AFB Forum to share it with the gang!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Marvel Universe – Developments and Detractions

It’s been awhile since I’ve given the little people any love, and by that I mean 3 3/4” figures of course – what were you thinking???

Hasbro’s Marvel Universe and Wolverine Origins lines have both had some new releases in recent time and I’ve cherry picked the new characters out of them.  I’m steering clear of IronSpiderine #437 etc (with extra Underwater Glow-in-the-dark Battle Armor!!) and sticking to the first timers, of which there are quite a few: Electro, Namor, Guardian, Warpath, Jean Grey (Jim Lee outfit), Vision and Classic Sunfire from Marvel Universe and Cyclops and Iceman from Wolverine Origins.

The stinkers in the waves smell from a mile away. Namor’s bushy looking eyebrows and prominent nose makes him look more like your Italian cousin Guido than the King of the Seas. Much worse, the long-awaited Jim Lee-style Jean Grey has been sculpted as a hunchback, which takes away a fair bit of the charm, unless that sort of thing does it for you. It’s a terrible to shame to see this figure, wanted by so many, botched so badly.

Iceman isn’t great either – he looks a little too cartoony or something. The translucent style is fun, but his facial features are too hard to make out. The included ice-slide is fun though.

I’d put Cyclops, Guardian and Vision in the middle – they’re all great but each has some quibbles. I like the inclusions that come with many of these figures – and so they should with this scale at this pricepoint – and I like the idea of the optic beam that attaches to Cyclops’ visor, but the way that it droops towards the ground makes it look more like a giant tongue. He also loses points for the ball-jointed hips. Yikes. Guardian is a good looking figure, but the grey paint used to add highlights has been poorly applied on many of the figures I’ve seen – I was lucky to get a good one. Vision’s cape is a tad too long, which means that he can’t stand up perfectly straight. He looks amazing despite this.

The winners for me here are Warpath, Electro and Sunfire. Warpath is my favourite of the bunch – he has a new sculpt with a larger build and a very detailed headsculpt. The silver in his costume is metallic, which adds depth and texture to the figure. Electro is a favourite of mine, and he is in fine form here. Hasbro’s also done some work on the wrist-attaching power blasts and they work better on Electro than they have previously on other figures. Sunfire is a bit flatter looking due to a lack of any metallic paintwork, but the figure is well done and looks great overall.

One overall grumble about this line – the chest articulation isn’t something I’m really wild about on any figure, but it just doesn’t work in this scale. At best it’s funny looking, at worse it’s utterly horrible. Review this please Hasbro.

We can all bemoan the fact that the firsts here aren’t happening in 6” form, but this is obviously where Marvel figures are at for now so I’m trying to make the most of it. If Warpath, Electro and Sunfire end up being the benchmark for this line, I’ll be in for the long haul.

You can see more pics at Facebook, discuss this at the AFB Forum, and comment on this post to enter the December AFB Comment of the Month Contest.

Until next time!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A tale of woe, Skeletor-lessness and MOTUC Matty RaaAaGe!!11! (Or, an ode to LineItem 4827281615)

It’s a hard gig trying to collect Mattel’s Masters of the Universe Classics line for any collector out there, but spare a thought for us folk in other timezones that have to get up at odd hours if we even want to have a chance on these figures.

The original He-Man and Skeletor releases passed my notice, and then some of the next figures were sold out by the time I got up on the day of their release, and this put me off collecting the line for awhile, but after Man-at-Arms dragged me in, I started up and patiently awaited the re-releases of the first two key figures. Things seemed to be going well in Matty MOTUC land when more stock was made available and figures were taking a couple of days to sell out. The He-Man re-release even hung around a little while.

All this lulled me into a false sense of security regarding today’s re-issue of Skeletor, and I decided not to set the alarm for a 4am Australian Eastern Standard Time wake-up to battle the evil red page of waitingness. As fate would have it, however, the AFB Bladder (trademark pending) woke me up at 4:20am and so I decided to order while I was awake.

I got onto the site with no problem and got Skeletor, King Randor, the DCUC Justice in the Jungle 2-Pack and a set of 6” Flight Stands in my cart with no problem. When I got to the checkout page however, I got “Could not increment allocated quantity for LineItem 4827281615” each time I tried to order. Very informative.

After nearly 30 minutes I played around with editing my items (as I did not know which item was LineItem 4827281615, a rookie mistake I know), took out the flight stands, and was then informed that Skeletor was sold out and I needed to remove him from my cart. Did so (with a sob) and the order went through.

So here I sit, it now being 5:20am, with no Skeletor and too wired to go back to bed. Now, I’m not going to swear and rage and say I’m quitting the line. You can check out Matty’s Facebook page if you want to read that. I do think it’s fair to say, however, that Mattel’s continued inability to handle these kind of sales is astonishing given the historic demand for this product. It isn’t about the figure selling out in under an hour - good on them for being so successful – it’s about the fact that folk like me had the product in my cart for half an hour only to miss out. That’s just weak.

Thus ends the rage. I’m not going to buy an eBay scalper a nice meal on this one, though. I’ll just wait it out, and if that means no Skeletor in my collection, so be it. Raspberries on you Mattel and all that jazz.

Oh, LineItem 4827281615, I nearly knew you well.

Sigh……..

(If you'd like to join the RaaAge!!!11!, the thread for today's Matty sale is here on the AFB Forum.)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Night gets Blacker…. and Better….

We all know how much Georg Brewer likes his Green Lanterns, so combining that with the mega-event that is BLACKEST NIGHT, it’s really no surprise that we’re getting a massive swag of figures over the coming months. Wave One was a solid start, giving us our first plastic members of the Blue, Red and Black Corps and our first Alpha Lantern. Wave Two brings us our first Indigo Lantern, a second Yellow and Black Lantern, and another version of Green Lantern John Stewart.

The first thing that surprised me about Kryb is that she is a massive figure. She also has a very wide stance so takes up a fair bit of display space. For the uniqueness of this figure and the quality of the sculpt, it’s worth it. She comes with two of her “babies” which she can hold in her multiple hands and also can be contained in the cage on her back. It’s great to have another member of the Sinestro Corps, and I wouldn’t mind some more. I’ll find ways to combine the DCUC “Colour of Fear” figures with Kryb, but of course the massive scale will create some display problems.

Indigo-1 is another very different type of sculpt which is well executed and painted. At first I thought she was going to be difficult to pose, but with a bit of experimenting I found a good balance. This is quite a nice figure, but as with a few in this series, its’ long term worth really depends on whether or not the character is around for the duration or not.

I was looking forward to the John Stewart figure as a chance to have a Stewart figure more in the modern DCD scale. The headsculpt is serviceable, but it uses the buck that was used for JLA Series 3, with those horrid, horrid legs, so it’s not a winner for me. Why DCD keeps recycling this ugly buck is beyond me. A shame for everyone that has been wanting a Modern Age John Stewart.

I was in a rush when I picked these figures up from the LCS and so I grabbed the whole box, forgetting that the Black Lantern Martian Manhunter would be there, so I have included him in the in-package pics. The sculpt and look is great, and it’s almost enough to break my resolve about not buying the Black Lanterns (even Aquaman, and that’s saying something!), but I’m going to try to stick to it, mainly because I am going to run out of display space soon and need to avoid giving it to flash-in-the-pan characters – even good looking ones.

There are some great figures coming up in this line, and recent promo pics show that there has to be at least one more wave, of what looks to be all Black Lanterns. That will be an easy pass for me. I remain hopeful that Mera’s star turn in the event will lead to her finally appearing in 6” form. We shall see.

You can see more pics at Facebook, discuss this at the AFB Forum, and comment on this for a chance to win the December AFB Comment of the Month Contest.

Until next time!

Monday, December 07, 2009

A Bust that Hits the Target

Following on from Black Canary’s turn in the Cover Girls of the DCU Statue Series, her hubby Green Arrow gets cut down to size in the Heroes of the DC Universe Mini-Bust Series, and it’s a corker. That’s Aussie for awesome!

The bust has a dynamic pose that looks great from multiple angles, with Green Arrow holding his bow in the air with his left hand, and his right hand sculpted as though he’s just released an arrow. The statue is well painted, with a range of lustres adding depth the the mix: metallic for the base, different sheens for the different greens on his outfit, etc. Much like Aquaman’s trident is flexible to avoid breakages, Arrow’s bowstring is string, which is a helpful touch.

In a clever piece of packaging, Green Arrow’s bow arm is packaged separately and attaches via a steel rod and a bit of pushing and prodding. This keeps the box from being gigantic and also provides opportunity for some amusing “Oh no! My arm fell off!” photos. I mean…… I think it would….

This is my favourite bust in the series so far. Aquaman has an equally dynamic pose, thrusting his trident in the air, but his squinty expression takes a few marks off and lets Green Arrow squeak ahead. Not to mention, this makes a great matched set with the earlier Green Lantern bust!

I’m really enjoying this series, although I haven’t bought into the Villains side yet (mostly because I really don’t like the look of upcoming Joker). I really hope that this line expands to cover some of the B-list characters in the same way the Women’s Mini-Bust line has. Watch this space!

You can see more pics at Facebook, discuss this at the AFB Forum, and enter the December AFB Comment of the Month Contest by commenting on this post.

Until next time!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

The Cover Girl to beat all DC Cover Girls

We’ve waited longer than we planned to for another instalment of the DC Direct Cover Girls of DC Universe Statue Series, thanks to a lengthy and unexplained delay in the Catwoman statue. (Great communication as usual DCD!). Thankfully Black Canary has come along in all her Adam Hughes glory to end the wait!

I’m a big fan of this series – a size that’s big enough to appreciate the detail in but also small enough to display easily, and a price point that doesn’t completely break the bank. This is my favourite in the series to this point – I love the pose, the facial expression, and it’s all been captured very well in this sculpt, apart from the seductiveness in the eyes in the cover art which doesn’t make the transition. A great paint job is the finishing touch – different finishes and sheens for surfaces like Dinah’s jacket and the yellow bands on her boots add to the detail.

My one criticism of the Zatanna statue was the lack of fishnets (which, granted, were not in Hughes’ cover drawing), and their presence here really makes Zee look bare when you stand them  side by side. I’m very glad they were included in this statue. Of course, alongside the fishnets comes the horrid seam at the back that is a feature of all DCD fishnets. I can kind of understand them on a 6” figure, but I would have expected them to be “ironed out” in a statue of this price.  That’s my only quibble.

A nice touch here is that the stand comes separately packaged. This means the box is much smaller than the previous two, and the statue plugs in to the base with two metal spikes. I liked being able to really hold and check out the statue without the heavy base. Better for the environment, easier to store the box and fun for the collector – it’s all good!

You can see more pics at Facebook, discuss this at the AFB Forum, and comment on this post to enter the December AFB Comment of the Month Contest – with a special Christmas bonus for AFB Forum members!

Until next time!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

AFB December Comment of the Month Contest – with a Twist!

First off, thanks to everyone who commented on last month’s blog posts. Congratulations to “Kyle” for winning the November Comment Contest! Kyle – please get in touch with me – probably easiest to do so through the AFB Forum. Once we hear from Kyle his choice of either the Blackest Night Series Two Kryb or Marvel Select Kree Captain Marvel will be on the way from Mike’s Comics N’ Stuff.

Now to December’s Contest: on offer are two great prizes, with a twist: the winner will be able to choose either from the DC Universe Classics Wave 11 Shark or the Marvel Minimates Infinity Gauntlet Boxed Set. The twist? Well, it’s the Christmas month after all, so it’s time to be giving! In the Christmas Spirit, if you are a member of the AFB Forum and your comment is chosen, you will win both prizes!

Here’s a reminder of the basic contest rules:

  • every genuine comment on a post from the calendar month will be eligible for receiving the prize. I’m going to stick to my own time zone and call it at 23:59:59 Australian Eastern Standard Time – best to comment often and comment early!
  • if my super scientific randomizer comment selector system chooses an Anonymous comment, I’ll skip it and go again – you need to leave a name, a link, your AFB Forum username or email addy so that I can contact you if you are the winner. Blogger comments allows you to do this.
  •  
  • you will be given a choice of one of the two figures on offer from the month’s contest – figures will be in their original packaging – for this month only, if the selected comment belongs to a member of the AFB Forum, the winner will win both prizes!
  • figures will be sent by first class mail within the US (Mike is sending them, remember) and first class international to any overseas winner. An overseas winner can elect to chip in for Priority Mail or Insurance, but otherwise we can’t take any responsibility for a parcel that doesn’t arrive – after this is coming out of AFB’s  not dreadfully deep pockets!

Once again, thanks to Mike for making this all possible for us, and here’s to another happy month of commenting!

Until next time!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Gigantic indeed!

Picture 002 The Marvel Universe line has added another feather to its cap with the Gigantic Battles line, pairing a 12” figure with a 3 3/4” figure. I’ve managed to pick up Goliath (with a 3 3/4” early Avengers-style Iron Man) and Giant Man Super Skrull (with 3 3/4” Bucky Captain America) cheapishly on eBay to add them to my Marvel Universe display.

This is a clever and well executed re-use of the Marvel Icons buck. At first, I thought that Goliath and friend might almost be a little too big to interact with the 3 3/4” figures, but when I paired up my Skrull with Iron Man in his grasp, I realised all the fun that could be had with these big dudes! I also had no idea how much I was going to like the Skrull figure – he’s really quite cool – great menacing headsculpt!

This development in the line, which I believe will be followed up by Galactus, opens up a great deal of potential for larger figures and interesting display options. I am very hopeful that this will continue in some form and perhaps move beyond the Icons buck to other larger characters, perhaps bringing some more characters that were missed in the Marvel Legends BAF era. The only downside of this is that at this point the Gigantic Battles line is a Wal Mart exclusive, a double blow for us international folk.

Marvel Universe certainly needs something like this to compensate for the persistent recycling of top-tier characters, which carries on here in the 3 3/4” inclusions – just how many Iron Men, Spideys, Wolvies, Caps and Hulks the line can sustain are yet to be seen, but it’s nice to have something like this to maintain interest amongst them.

You can see more pics at Facebook, discuss this at the AFB Forum, and comment on this for a chance to win the November AFB Comment of the Month Contest!

Until next time!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Vixen joins the Women of the DCU Mini-Bust Series

Of all of the leading ladies in the DC Universe, Vixen was the name that took the longest to come in the Women of the DC Universe Mini-Bust Series, so I was pretty happy when she was finally solicited in the series.

Unfortunately, while this is one of my favourite characters to appear in this line, the final product is not one of my favourite sculpts. The issue here is the face – something’s gone a little wrong in the face department – it looks a bit concave at some angles. Some careful positioning overcomes this, but it’s still a shame, especially since the rest of the piece is really quite excellent – the sculpt of the body and base is excellent, and the paintwork is also very well done.

Bottom line here is that I’m glad to have Vixen in the collection, but it would have been great if the knowing, cat-like expression on Vixen’s face in the Dodson sketch had been captured  in the final product. The ‘elephant-sat-on-my-face’ look just doesn’t cut it.

And with that, we say goodbye to the Terry Dodson art-inspired Series Two of the Women of the DCU Mini-Bust Series, a great series with excellent character selection and sculpts that were mostly on the mark. Next up is the Amanda Conner-based Series Three. I’m not the wildest fan of Conner’s art, but some of the upcoming busts, especially Babs Gordon Batgirl and Raven, look quite good, so I’ll be giving this a go.

You can see more pics at Facebook, discuss this at the AFB Forum, and comment on this to enter the November AFB Comment of the Month Contest.

Until next time!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Perhaps some things are better kept Secret….

I’ve got nothing against the 3 3/4” Marvel Universe line. I’m a realist – the 6” Legends line is on it’s wobbly last legs, so if I want Marvel figures, this is the go-to point. In terms of the main Marvel Universe line, I’d like to see a bit less IronHulkSpidey and a few more new characters, but I’m happy with the overall quality of the figures in terms of articulation, sculpt and paintwork.

It’s a shame, then, that the same can’t be said for the Secret Wars 25th Anniversary 3 3/4” Two-Packs. This is a great idea, especially with the inclusion of some first-time-in-plastic characters like the Wrecking Crew, Klaw and the Enchantress. The execution, however, is all over the place, due to some paint and production issues. In the first set of two-packs Klaw and Thunderball seemed to suffer the most in terms of paint application and QC in the headsculpt area. I was lucky to find one of each that was fairly effective, but most I have seen around the traps have been shockers.

Most of the issues with these new two-packs: Hulk and Cyclops, Iron Man and Spiderwoman II, Magneto and Spiderman (Black Costume), are with paint, not sculpt. The main exception to this is Magneto, who for some reason looks a bit hunched over. I think this is due to the sculpt not taking the cape mechanism into account, causing him to look a bit neckless.

Cyclops and Spiderwoman have both had a wash used on them. Washes can add depth and complexity, or book a figure a ticket on the Ugly Train. I’ve seen a few Cyclops figures that have looked fairly average, however the wash pretty much works on the one I received, defining muscles, etc. The paintwork on Spiderwoman is an absolute shocker, mostly due to the fact that the Spider Bosoms are a lighter shade of blue than most of the rest of the figure. Unfortunate to say the least. On the flipside, Black Costume Spiderman hasn’t had a blue wash used on him, and looks all the better for it, making it a huge improvement over the Marvel Universe single.

Hulk and Iron Man are both Secret Wars twists on the well-used sculpts in this series, but nothing spectacular. The number of repeat figures in this line that are tied to a new figure is somewhat of an annoyance, but kudos to Hasbro for using a brighter colour scheme which is more representative of the comics of the time.

All up, this is a fun series, but the joy is definitely more in the nostalgia than the quality. We’re still waiting to find out what the last few figures are, but I am definitely hoping for Mohawk Storm and Wrecker, and then a wildcard for the third – Rogue or Nightcrawler would be great, but Thing is a likely candidate I think.

You can see more pics at Facebook, discuss this at the AFB Forum, and comment on this post to enter the November AFB Comment of the Month Contest.

Until next time!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Like I needed another line to collect….

When I saw the solicits for the original DC Direct Ame-Comi Superheroine PVC Statues, I was pretty impressed, especially with the first Batgirl. I loved the Anime take on a classic character and costume. Then I saw some of the next releases that didn’t stick very closely to the original character, like a Zatanna with blue hair, and I was out.

A few weekends ago I was in Sydney and I saw the Black Canary version of this line, and I was quite taken by it. The asking price in the Sydney shop was far to steep, so I decided to order it through my reliable LCS, and somehow came home with Hawkgirl and the Cassandra Cain Batgirl. Oops.

Black Canary is my favourite of the bunch. She is a great mix of Anime styling but still a totally recognisable version of Dinah. The PVC material allows for some interesting sculpting, such as the long strands of Black Canary’s hair that would be a major breakage risk in resin or cold cast porcelain, but are quite durable here. My favourite figure was also the most challenging to put together. The plastic stand that is meant to attach into her back was very challenging to fit in as her jacket partially blocks access  to the hole. The pressure required to insert the post caused it to snap, and my attempts to superglue it back together only succeeded in gluing my fingers to the post and each other. It’s now repaired with sticky tape, complete with tiny bits of my flesh as a keepsake. Good times.

Hawkgirl is a good looking figure. Her wings are definitely the best thing going for her. The figure is well sculpted and painted, but the pose could be better. Her arms are dynamically arranged, but her legs are awkward. The way her legs are splayed looks a little like she’s taken a blow on the back. A small quibble, but a great piece overall.

Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) is quite an exquisite figure. It’s hard to appreciate the complexity of the sculpt through my paltry photos. The texture of her cape, the twisted base, the detail in her bodice, all make this a compelling piece to look at. The bats in flight above her shoulder are a very nice touch.

One thing that makes these a little challenging to display is the large circumference of the bases. They’re quite good looking, but huge. The amount of room they take up doesn’t seem totally necessary when you consider that these are PVC figures and are pretty light.

I won’t be trying to pick up all of the pieces I’ve missed in this line (although I’ve already eBayed the first Batgirl) and I will be cherry picking future figures, but I am definitely “on board” with this line – and now trying to resist looking into Marvel’s similar effort. That Rogue does look good……

You can see more pics on Facebook, discuss this at the AFB Forum, and comment on this post to enter the November AFB Comment of the Month Contest.

Until next time!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Almost Magic – DCD 1:6 Scale Zatanna

Nearly called this “13 Inches of Magic”, but that just…. didn’t sound right.

After the debacle that was the 13” Wonder Wompus – er, Woman, I was very concerned when I went to pick up my pre-ordered DC Direct 13” Zatanna from my LCS today.

The good news is that, while they seem to have used the same material that was used for Wondy’s headsculpt, which seems to differ from the rest of the line, it works much better here. The differences between the photos in the packaging and the final product are still very clear – the eyes in particular are painted very differently, but the overall composition of the face  in the sculpt is better, giving it a very reasonable likeness to “Zee”, as we know her.

DCD was always going to struggle with Wonder Woman, due to the fact that her costume (or lack thereof) exposes all of the inherent weaknesses of the female 13” buck. Zatanna is a step ahead in that her costume covers most of these up – however the awful, awful pelvis / hip joins are still on full display. Any character with a brief-style costume falls short here, with the end result being an adult-diaper look that is less than attractive. It also causes the legs to looks scrawny and bowed. Ugly, fugly.

Thankfully, Zatanna still has a good deal going for her. Her costume is well constructed, and her top hat provides a few display options. It fits nicely in her head but can also be held in one of her three sets of swappable hands. Interestingly, these three sets (fists, open / snapping fingers and hands that can hold objects) are all white gloved, unlike the flesh coloured hands shown in the packaging photos. One set of those would have been a nice option to include, but Zee still scores well in the accessories department. As well as the hat and extra hands, she comes with a magic wand (which looks dreadfully  lose-able, so I’m not even bothering with it), a white rabbit (which comfortably fits in her hat, although it’s too heavy for her to hold as she does in the packaging pics) and a copy of her book. Good stuff.

This is a welcome addition to the DCD 1:6 Scale Line, although without an apology Wonder Woman it will never be complete. I do hope at the very least DCD addresses the headsculpt material issue and rectifies this – with the frailties of the female buck design, what’s on top has alot to make up for!

You can see more pics at Facebook, discuss this at the AFB Forum, and comment on this post to enter the November AFB Comment of the Month Contest!

Until next time!

Monday, November 09, 2009

The Seven Seas goes Bust!

I know, the “goes bust!” thing is getting a bit old – it’s just so hard to resist!

Mera has been pretty close to the top of my “Most Wanted” list in terms of DC characters since I started collecting. The announcement of a Mera bust in the DC Direct Women of the DCU Mini-Bust line was very exciting, but I was a bit concerned that the product didn’t really capture the character, mainly due to what appeared to be a short hairstyle from all the pictures I could see. Nevertheless, I ordered the bust because I love the character so much.

I was really pleased to see that the photos were in fact misleading – as you can see in the turnaround photos on the AFB Facebook page, she does in fact have the correct length hair, it’s just swept behind the statue. I really love this bust, and not just because  it’s Mera for the first time. It’s very good looking, with nice, vibrant colours, and a variety of textures and paint qualities. The octopus tentacle base is great!

One thing I have noticed about a few of the busts in this line is that the angles of the sculpting are a bit odd, leaving the figure facing the ground a bit. This is an issue here, but moreso that the statue is angled so that her bust is facing the ceiling. Awkward indeed!

Aquaman isn’t getting much respect in the comic world at the moment, but thankfully he’s still getting lots of collectable love. His appearance in the Heroes of the DC Universe Mini-Bust line is the latest instalment, timed just a couple of weeks after Mera, which is either a nice touch or happy coincidence.

This is an excellent figure. It has a very dynamic pose, which looks great at all angles. The skin tone is quite different from Mera, but apart from that these go quite well together as a set, linked by the similar bases. Aquaman’s trident is integral to the pose of this bust, and I was worried about possible breakage, but the piece is in fact a plastic piece just like those that come with the 6” figures, so no worries there.

I’d like Carlos Pacheo to be brave and sketch eyes in his designs for these, however – he really seems to be afraid of them and draws the characters with closed eyes in “power poses” instead. Works much better here than it does in the recent Superman bust, where he looks like he’s passing wind or something. Regardless, I’m enjoying this line as much as the Women Mini-Bust series and hopeful it gets a similar long life!

Many thanks to DCD for my Aquaman and Mera Mini-Bust bookends. Now, can we PLEASE see Mera in the 6” line? After her starring role in BLACKEST NIGHT I am hopeful this may finally become a reality.

You can see more pics at Facebook (Mera / Aquaman), discuss this at the AFB Forum, and comment on this post to enter the AFB November Comment of the Month Contest.

Until next time!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Will Blackest Night save DC Direct’s Bacon?

Following the complete debacle that is the DC Direct 13” Wonder Woman comes the first series of the Blackest Night tie-in figures. Knowing Georg Brewer’s love for things that shine emerald green, the fact that the overall quality of this set is excellent doesn’t come as a total surprise. It’s hard to know, however, if this should be seen as a credit to DCD or just another example of the attention deficit disorder approach the company takes to its product.

I’m not reviewing the Black Lantern Earth Two Superman here because I won’t be buying the “zombie” characters, even Aquaman (gasp!). From what I have been reading this may be a pattern others are following, so I wonder if we’ll be seeing the Black Lanterns hang around for awhile, or if more Modern-Age focused collectors will snap them up.

Saint Walker and Atrocitus are great examples of the intriguing new characters that this saga has brought to the fore that will make great additions to the Green Lantern shelf – as long as they’re not just flash-in-the-pan plot devices that fade into the history books when Blackest Night is older. These figures are very well done – Saint Walker in particular looks like he’s stepped right off the page. His long, thin limbs make him a little hard to stand, but after a bit of peg-forcing he stands fine on his base. I pictured Atrocitus as a bit bigger than this figure, but it’s still an excellent effort. I’m not sure the headsculpt is quite right, but it’s effective. I particularly like the different design for the red lantern, which makes it a real gem to have.

Boodikka is a character that may not be old enough to be called “classic”, but having been around for 17-ish years as a non-Alpha Lantern it would have been nice for DCD to throw us a bone with an “original” Boodikka variant (with removable hand of course). This version is well executed, with the flowing hair and removable face panel very nice touches. She’s also easy to pose.

The kicker here is the scale – all of these figures tower over the Van Scriver Hal Jordan I have in the centrepiece of my collection. Not a huge issue for these three, although I don’t think Boodikka should be that tall, but if Series 3 Arisia ends up on the tall side of Hal, that’s going to be messy. Either we need a Series 5 with Hal or we need DCD to start paying attention to scale between it’s series.

Clearly a Series 5 Hal is our only hope.

You can see more pics at Facebook, discuss this at the AFB Forum, and comment on this post to enter the November AFB Comment of the Month Contest.

Until next time!

Monday, November 02, 2009

AFB Comment of the Month Contest – November!

First off, thanks to everyone who commented on last month’s blog posts. Congratulations to ryanlb for winning the October Comment Contest! His selected prize the DC Direct Series 2 Fire figure will be on the way shortly from Mike’s Comics N’ Stuff.

Now to November’s Contest: on offer are two great prizes: the winner will be able to choose either from the DC Direct Blackest Night Series Two Kryb or the Marvel Select Kree Captain Marvel. These are two great figures I’m looking forward to having in my own collection!

Here’s a reminder of the basic contest rules:

  • every genuine comment on a post from the calendar month will be eligible for receiving the prize. I’m going to stick to my own time zone and call it at 23:59:59 Australian Eastern Standard Time – best to comment often and comment early!
  • if my super scientific randomizer comment selector system chooses an Anonymous comment, I’ll skip it and go again – you need to leave a name, a link, your AFB Forum username or email addy so that I can contact you if you are the winner. Blogger comments allows you to do this.
  •  
  • you will be given a choice of one of the two figures on offer from the month’s contest – figures will be in their original packaging
  • figures will be sent by first class mail within the US (Mike is sending them, remember) and first class international to any overseas winner. An overseas winner can elect to chip in for Priority Mail or Insurance, but otherwise we can’t take any responsibility for a parcel that doesn’t arrive – after this is coming out of AFB’s  not dreadfully deep pockets!

Once again, thanks to Mike for making this all possible for us, and here’s to another happy month of commenting!

Until next time!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

DCUC Wave 13 Pics!

A user at TNI posted pics of the full DCUC Wave 13: Blue Devil, Wonder Girl (red costume), Cheetah (Priscilla Rich) and variant (Barbara Minerva), Cyclotron, Blue Beetle III (Jaime Reyes), Negative Man and variant with exposed face, Superboy with jacket and sunglasses, and Collect and Connect Trigon!

Check out the AFB Forum for the full set of pics, but here’s Trigon for a teaser!

Some thoughts on these pics: very glad to get this version of Wonder Girl, and I’m really hoping this is an adult buck. This would be a good sign for some adult-sized Titans down the road. Very happy with the versions of Cheetah we are getting, although I’m not sold on Priscilla Rich’s face for some reason. Loving the fact that we are going to have a Negative Man figure, but I do wish they’d use a slimmer buck, and I’m not sold on the variant at all – Larry in his Negative form would have been my choice. Blue Devil blows the recent DCD HOTDCU version out of the water, Blue Beetle III looks great, as does Cyclotron, but I’m glad he’s reported as coming with the stand so I don’t have to buy him. Superboy is a great figure of a forgettable costume, and Trigon looks amazing, although I’m keen to see a scale comparison.

Mattel continues to knock this line out of the park. Just a shame we have to wait so long to get these!

Until next time!

Monday, October 26, 2009

It was an Impulse buy….

eBay is rightfully called “ePay” at times, because there’s always someone out there ready to gouge collectors, and when you realllly want something, it can require an iron will to resist.

The flipside of the system is that you occasionally find some bargain gems. I only came to be doing an eBay search for the DCD Impulse Statue because someone at the AFB Forums was asking about the Young Justice Statues. I thought I knew everything DCD had ever done, but this set must have been before my time. I wasn’t wild about the Robin and Superboy statues that bookend the Young Justice set, but the Impulse statue is a standout that really captures the character and something that I knew I wanted for my collection.

Therefore, it was happiness to find an auction for said statue that had a low starting bid and never got off the ground. I snagged this puppy for an unspeakably low sum – even when the shipping to Oz was factored in.

I received this a couple of days ago and I couldn’t be happier with my purchase. This statue IS Bart Allen – it captures all of his cheeky charm through a great headsculpt and pose. It’s a very dynamic piece, with Bart skidding in and a dust cloud forming. The only shame here is that his goggles have fogged over a bit with age, clouding a full view of his eyes. Certainly doesn’t take too much away from a great statue, which I will proudly display in the Flash section of the AFB Museum.

So, for all that that eBay took from me in my green, early years of collecting, it’s nice to strike a blow back by getting such an amazing piece for such a steal! Score one for the little guy!

You can see more pics at Facebook, join in the Young Justice Statue discussion thread at the AFB Forum, and comment on this post to enter the October AFB Comment of the Month Contest.

Until next time!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

It’s a Wonder, all right…..

I really don’t know if I can do a blow by blow on this one. Short story is that this is without a doubt one of, if not the most gob-smackingly bad collectibles I have ever seen from a major toy company. Gob. Smackingly. Bad.

So bad in fact, that Mrs AFB, who doesn’t know Aquaman from Spiderman from the Invisible Woman, and never has much more to say than “That’s nice, dear” when I show her my new acquisitions, has not been able to stop criticising this poor Diana wannabe. My youngest, who takes a great interest in my toys and has been waiting for “The Big Wonder Woman” ever since I started my DCD 13” collection, looked at this one and then asked me sweetly if I would be able to get my money back. Out of the mouths of wives and babes…..

To deconstruct the 13” Wonder Woman trainwreck, we need to start with the adult female buck for this line. My big gripes are that the bust is too big to allow for easy fitting of most costumes, and there’s nothing good to say about the lower half of these ladies. The knobbly knees and frightful thigh cuts that really don’t lend themselves to stockings are bad enough, but we also have the hideous hips with gaps between the hips and legs that cause the panty-style outfit to bunch so unattractively. Characters like Catwoman or Batgirl who have full bodysuits can cover these issues, but poor Wondy is exposed on all levels.

The sins of the body are enough to deal with, and then DCD presents us with the dog of all headsculpts. There’s nothing right about this one – hair, nose, mouth, all wrong, but the eyes are the killer here. Too small, uneven, glistening in an off way, it’s all bad. Very different looking from the eyes on the figure used in the photos for the packaging. I think I well could have tolerated  this effort if the face was painted as per the packaging. As is, this is just a big fat bucket of fail, Georg Brewer style.

Having made such noise about waiting to release Wonder Woman to make sure he “got her right”, one has to look at this and ponder if Georg just gave up. I picked up my Blackest Night Wave One at the end of the week, and from these it’s quite clear that he can get things right when he has the motivation, and we all know how he loves his Lanterns.

The question is, can Georg really afford to be so point of interest in the quality of the product he oversees? Methinks not.

Oh, and I’ve heard and read dozens of comparisons of what this figure looks like, but my favourite has to come from Mrs AFB, who said: “She looks like some poor young girl with huge boobs who dressed up as Wonder Woman for a costume ball and then wet herself on the way to the party.”

Probably not what you were aiming for, Georg?

You can see more pics (if you can subject yourself to them) at Facebook, discuss this at the AFB Forum, and comment on this post to enter the October AFB Comment of the Month Contest.

Until next time!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The beginnings of DCUC Wave 10 at AFB!

Retailer exclusive lines are not the friend of any collector, but to the international collector they are the enemy. I read in one of the latest round of Mattel Q&A’s that DCUC Wave 10 “will be available to all of Wal-Mart’s international locations”. Seeing as there are NO Wal-Marts in Australia, that’s super helpful!

Thanks to my friends at Critical Mess, I’ve managed to get on a DCUC 10 “Want List” and am being helped out by some of the members there to get the figures from this wave. I’m also lucky enough to be close to the top of the list, I’ve already scored Power Girl and Joker and have a Forager on the way!

I’ll save a detailed review for the happy day when I have the whole wave (minus Batman, who I already have enough versions of), but I’ll just say now that this has to be the best 6” version of Joker ever. Amazing that Mattel has done in one what DC Direct has failed to do in so many attempts. Great headsculpt, great props, great everything,

Also, you’ll note in the packaging shot that Power Girl has been strategically positioned to keep the conservative market from goggling too much at her “assets”. The figure is great, but the funny pose curse strikes again somewhat with a slightly warped left leg. Doesn’t take the shine off the figure, but I do wish Mattel would stop creating unnecessary issues with figures through silly packaging.

More when Forager arrives, and hopefully the rest of the wave won’t be far behind!

Until next time!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Enter the Bronze Age Legion!

With my amazing custom Silver Age Legion nearing completion thanks to Jackknight, I’m thrilled to be able to present the first instalment in the next Legion phase: a custom Bronze Age Legion done by Dr. Terrific!

Dr. T. has been discussing the development of this line of customs with AFB Forum member Polarboy3 (who is getting a matched set) and myself in “The Originals” custom section of the AFB Forum. You can check out the thread here to see WIP photos and discussion about each of these and upcoming figures.

Wildfire came first: Doc’s first Legion custom effort and the one that launched the whole idea. I’ve had him for awhile now and still can’t get over it. I have dreamed about having my very own Legion figures since I was a kid, and to see it coming true is so exciting. I’m just glad I finally have some plastic friends for Wildfire! Wildfire’s base was a Crisis on Infinite Earths Earth-Two Superman.

Lightning Lad is probably my favourite of this wave, simply because of the thrill of seeing that iconic costume come to life. You can really see the care that Doc has taken in his work with this figure: his eyebrows matching his hair colour, the clean lines, the great colours. This is a custom masterstroke. Lightning Lad’s base was a Smallville Aquaman.

Doc’s version of Saturn Girl brings one of the Bronze Age Legion’s most memorable costumes to action figure land. As well as capturing the lines of the costume so perfectly through the sculpt, the paintwork has a beautiful metal sheen to it. The base was an All Star Superman Lois.

Cosmic Boy’s outfit, or non-outfit, is certainly one of the most infamous bits of gear from this chapter in the Legion’s history. While it’s certainly my least favourite of Cos’ uniforms, the aim here is to be true to the era, and in that light Doc has done a  brilliant job here, especially when you consider that the base for this figure was an Infinite Crisis Alexander Luthor!

Dawnstar is a whole bundle of major wow. Perfect colour choices, amazing work with the fringing, and those wings! Using an Infinite Crisis Donna Troy and repainted wings from a Marvel Legends Angel, Doc has completed what will certainly be the centrepiece of the whole Bronze Age Legion Collection.

All up, I couldn’t be happier with the first “wave” of Doc’s Bronze Age Legion. He’s knocked these figures out of the park, and if this is anything to go by, then there’s a great deal more Legion happiness ahead in the years to come!

You can see more pics at Facebook, discuss this at the AFB Forum, and comment on this post to enter the October Comment of the Month Contest.

Until next time!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

JLI Series Two – The Boys are Back!

We haven’t had a whisper about a third wave for DC Direct’s Justice League International Series, (No Rocket Red? Criminal!) so it looks like I’m reviewing the second and final wave in the series. The two waves are nothing to be sneezed at, having given us the first Fire, Ice (albeit perhaps not the versions most collectors would have preferred) and G’Nort figures and Black Canary in her 80’s Crisis-Era outfit, plus a cracking Batman that’s become one of my faves.

Now, in addition to Fire, we have Maguire-styled versions of Booster Gold, Martian Manhunter and, to a lesser degree, Blue Beetle. I have a niggle with three figures, and one with a pretty much fatal flaw.

Fire is a great addition to the collection. As mentioned above I’d really prefer Fire and Ice in their later costumes, but this is a start, and perhaps DCUC will come up with the MA goods. It’s a lovely sculpt, however she has a slightly googly eye and a headsculpt that has her looking a little too far down for my taste with a lack of neck mobility due to her hair. Her hair is soft sculpted like Black Canary’s in Wave One but doesn’t allow the same movement. The only niggle with an otherwise great figure.

J’onn J’onzz is a real reminder of happier times in comics. Very happy that a lighter and more obvious shade of green was chosen, true to how he was depicted in this era. This is a true Maguire-inspired sculpt, with the exaggerated brow and bemused look, and of course his trademark cookie in his left hand. My one niggle? The fact that the cookie can’t be removed. I suppose it was most likely get lost, but I’d still have the option.

Booster Gold is a fun figure, one which really embraces the comedy that was the JLI. If this was the first Booster figure ever, I’d be disappointed by the high degree of camp, but as we already have the serviceable DCD “52” version and the even better DCUC versions, this one is fine for a JLI group shot. My one niggle? His teeth are just a liiiiitle too big and his chin a bit too thick. Is that two niggles? Let’s combine them so we don’t break the pattern.

Blue Beetle is where the wave breaks down for me, quite literally. Every figure I’ve seen had issues with Beetle’s goggles. I chose one with just a warped left goggle, but even so it’s still coming away from his head at one point. Sad to think this was best looking one of the bunch! Thankfully we have the excellent original DCD figure and the very good DCUC Beetle. As for the JLI group display? Beetle will have to stand at the back.

Despite this one blot on the JLI copy book, this was a very welcome series of something a bit different from DCD’s usual SuperBat MA fare. A third wave with Captains Atom or Marvel, Dr Light II, Rocket Red and Maxwell Lord would really put it up there as one of the better recent DCD series. Sadly hoping that DCD might snap out of its attention deficit disorder is probably wasted energy.

You can see more pics at Facebook, discuss this at the AFB Forum, and comment on this post to enter the October Comment of the Month Contest!

Until next time!

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