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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Second rate heroes, first rate Customs!

The fantastic Jackknight has come through again with some great additions to my SA Legion Collection!

We’ve finished off all of the actual Legionnaires from that era and have started on the Subs. I now have Color Kid and Chlorophyll Kid to add to Polar Boy, Night Girl and Fire Lad. They look great!

I had always said I would stop the SA collection at the Subs, which means there’s still Stone Boy to do, but now that we’re coming to the end I am thinking about SA Legion villains – Fatal Five anyone? I’ll have to see what Jack has in mind, but a nice Emerald Empress would look great on my Legion shelf! If you have any other suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

Next up in the custom department: a new customizer kicks off my Bronze Age Legion! Great ready for more Legion awesomeness!!

You can comment on this at the AFB Forum, and don’t forget you can enter the September AFB Comment of the Month Contest by commenting on this post.

Until next time!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Marvellous-ish Marvel Girls for Marvel Select

I need to say up front that I bought these figures mostly for the prop.  Marvel Select’s new Jean Grey Marvel Girl and Rachel Summers variant each come with one half of the gate to Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters (reversible to show the more modern age Xavier’s Institute of Higher Learning). After complaining in my Sabretooth review that recent Marvel Select Stands / Props have been lacklustre, it’s nice to see a turnaround. The two sides of the gate don’t quite line up, but I don’t care. It’s the freaking gate from Xaviers!

The great prop makes the figures just a bonus for me, and  when it comes to the variant, that’s a really good thing. The Jean Grey figure is more than adequate. My main complaint with it is that the face sculpt is a bit benign, which takes some of the punch out of the figure’s possible poses, which have the potential to be quite dynamic. The colouring of her outfit is spot on, but the sloping neckline is painted, not sculpted, which is not what I’d expect at this price point, even with the groovy prop. The ankles on the Jean figure are quite loose which makes her a little hard to pose, but the peg in the base assists with this.

As for Rachel, well, ugh. As if the strange almost olive green that’s been used in her uniform wasn’t enough to kill this figure, the headsculpt is. It looks either like it’s all been squashed together a bit too much, or like some middle age housewife has squeezed herself into Rachel’s uniform. I’ve tried to work out if it’s the shape of her head, the way the face is painted or perhaps the flaps of hair that stick out the back. All I can be certain is this is all kinds of wrong.

I do like the way that these figures almost go with the recently released Wolverine and Sabretooth figures. It would be nice to at least have a Cyclops to go with Jean – again this makes me wonder if MS has any sort of direction or just looks at individual figures. I guess time will tell.

All up – some average to icky figures with a great prop. Not great, but manageable.

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

Until next time!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

DC Infinite Heroes Crisis 4-Pack: A Bit Warped

The “Crisis” theme for the first series of Mattel’s DC Universe Infinite Heroes has been loosely applied, so the idea of a pack straight from the pages of CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS was very appealing, and I happily placed my order when this became available at Mattycollector.com.

On first inspection of these in package, they look fun. On closer inspection, however, the thrill of having two of the stars of Crisis in their dead / nearly dead form fades a bit, especially due to the execution.

Psycho Pirate and Monitor are both basically well designed. Pirate’s mask doesn’t come off, which is understandable at this scale. I wondered if it was removable at first, because it protrudes from the face quite a bit, making it look a little more clunky than needed. Monitor is fun and much needed for a “Crisis” line. My only criticism here is that he appears to be a couple of sizes too small for his outfit because of the huge collar around his small head and neck.

Flash is straight out of the pages of COIE #8 – crumbling head and all. His right arm is at an odd angle – not sure if this is part of the whole crumbling body thing or what. I wouldn’t display my DCD 6” Crisis Flash with his crumbling head, and displaying this funky Flash doesn’t really appeal either.

I hesitated to open Supergirl, as the imagery of Superman holding her would be lost (he’s a picture on the card only), and once I did open her, I really regretted it. As well as just looking plain silly standing there all bloody and torn, her left leg has been seriously warped by the way it’s been packaged. She stands, but she looks ridiculous. Bummer, especially since I’m not buying the whole four-pack again to have another one to keep in package.

So, two out of four for this Mattycollector.com effort from me. Glad to have Psycho Pirate and Monitor, not so excited about the warped dead-ish plastic people.

You can check out more pics at Facebook, discuss this on the AFB Forum and comment on this post to enter the September AFB Comment Contest.

Until next time!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

For research purposes only – Uni-Formz Superman

Usually everything that is presented here is purchased solely because I want it, but after ranting awhile ago about Uni-Formz and Blammoids!, I promised to get some of each to either confirm or deny my dislike.

The first thing that surprised me about DC Direct’s Uni-Formz Superman is that this puppy is BIG! The box is well designed and fun to look at – so much I was torn as to whether or not to open it or not – unfortunately once the box is opened there’s no going back – there’s some ripping and tearing involved.

This is a chunky toy which has basic articulation – neck, arms, wrists, waist, legs. feet. He’s not terribly poseable, but he’s pretty fun to look at. The basic Uni-Formz idea of the big arms and fists works for me, but it’s interesting looking at Supes and the previously released Batman (which I didn’t buy) in contrast when it comes to the headsculpts. Whereas Batman has a bit of a scowl on his noggin, Superman has squinty eyes and a cheesy smile which, combined with the way his black hair is sculpted, make him look like, well, a buff Ronald Reagan in a Superman suit.

In fact, when Mrs AFB saw him, she was a bit freaked out and said she thought he was scary (which was probably reinforced when I chased her around the house with him..). I don’t get that vibe, but the headsculpt doesn’t totally work for me. Still, this was more enjoyable than I thought it was going to be, and while I won’t be collecting the whole line, I’m up for favourite characters like the upcoming Green Lantern and an Aquaman or Green Arrow if they eventuate.

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

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Marvel Select sinks its teeth into Sabretooth!

And what teeth they are! I’ve been a bit underwhelmed by some of Marvel Select’s recent efforts, particularly because they’ve been on the small side for the price. Select’s latest release, Sabretooth, is much more like it – this fella’s massive!

The figure is packaged in a dynamic pose, and this made me worried that it may not stand properly on its own. I needn’t have been concerned – he stands easily both in a crouching position and also in the overarm pose he’s packaged in – makes for an imposing stance over a shorty like Wolverine!

This is a well sculpted and painted figure. Still some issues with the awkward ball-jointed hips that MS uses, but it’s less irritating at the larger scale. His base is pretty useless, and in fact doesn’t come with much of what’s pictured on the back of the box. Why bother then?

It’s nice to see Select hitting the mark again in terms of figure quality – however I’d be more confident in continuing to add them to my collection if there seemed to be some kind of plan in terms of character selection / team completion, especially since the quality of the bases seems to be going downhill (although I am looking forward to having the front gate to Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters when the Marvel Girl figures come out). There’s a great deal that could be done with this line to bring either groups of characters or more obscure characters into plastic, and it would be nice to see the Marvel Select line proceed with a bit more of a sense of direction.

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

Until next time!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

You think they could have thrown in some ankle articulation….

I mean, it is the whole History of the DC Universe after all. New buck, new articulation, new direction for DC Direct…. but still no blinking ankle articulation. Why, oh why is DCD so allergic to such a basic articulation in the 6” scale?

I was more excited for Wave One of the History of the DC Universe line than Wave Two based on the character selection, but was a little let down by the product – great paint apps, but I’ve found both Batman and Manhunter impossible to stand on their own and impossible to stand up straight on their bases. No matter how good a figure looks, if they don’t display properly, it’s a bit of a buzzkill. Still, the solicits for Waves Two – Four and the nice surprises - especially Kobra and a Ditko-styled Captain Atom in Wave Four – have made me keen to see where this line goes.

The buck is a sticking point. I see that the point of this line is to have something more standardised and more articulated, however the buck really needs to be a tad less roided-out to work for a wide range of characters. While there is certainly more articulation here than in the average DCD figure, it falls short for me. Ignoring a basic like ankle articulation is incredibly frustrating – rotating legs do not make up for this. The upper arm and chest crunch articulation are pretty useless. At a basic level figures should be easy to pose. Good articulation accomplishes this, and this just isn’t it.

As for Wave Two, there are things to like and dislike about each figure. I was looking forward to a classic Black Lightning the most, and he is definitely the standout of the wave. The main issues here are that the bulkiness of the buck is exaggerated by his low cut shirt and lapels, and his feet have to be splayed out for him to stand properly. The colours and paint application are perfect, and the headsculpt is excellent.

Creeper’s mane, or boa or whatever it is, is flocked, and in my opinion this flocks up the figure somewhat. It’s hard to see this ageing well. I suspect there will flock-haters and flock-lovers. This bit of sculpting does help downplay the buck, as Creeper shouldn’t be so wide in the chest. Again, an excellent headsculpt, and a great addition to the plastic hero world. Not a classic Outsider, but one for the collection, although DCD’s Metamorpho and Geo-Force efforts would look positively anorexic next to these guys.

I’m always inclined to like an Aquaman figure, but this one’s hard love. His outfit features a plain orange top with no scales, he has a ridiculously cheesy grin, and the nice touch of hands with fingers extended is negated by the awkward arm articulation which means he can’t be put in any decent swimming pose, the end result being his arms look too long. Necessary for the gang to be complete, but certain to be stood near the back of the set as it grows to hide as many of its shortcomings as possible.

Flash is a character I’ve never seen captured brilliantly in plastic form. This doesn’t fall in the brilliant category – the bulkiness really doesn’t suit – but it is serviceable. For some reason Flash makes on best on the arm articulation front and therefore looks a little more natural – except that his head has an odd tilt that I can’t correct. Call him Contemplative Flash and all is well. A yawn, but not a fail.

This series is a very transparent attempt by DCD to line up alongside DCUC, and while it will certainly get my business as long as the new characters are being produced, it’s at least five years too late if the aim is to arrest DCUC’s rise. For the pricepoint, however, I would be expecting a few different bucks and a more thoughtful approach to useful articulation.

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

Until next time!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Zatanna adds some magic to the Women of the DCU Statue line.

And from what I hear, I’m not the only one who thinks so. The owner of my LCS told me that they’ve never had more pre-orders for a statue than this, DCD’s latest addition to the Women of the DC Universe statue line. I picked up mine last week and was only allowed a peek before handing it over to be wrapped up as a Father’s Day present (Father’s Day is the first Sunday of September in Oz). Just from that glimpse, I knew that none of those pre-orderers (I love creating new words!) would have cause for disappointment.

In a few words, this statue is just plain hubba-bubba-liciously gorgeous. It captures the look of the Adam Hughes cover art (CATWOMAN #58) pretty much perfectly, which includes no fishnets. When I first saw the previews for this statue I thought they would be added later. The Black Canary statue was first shown with bare legs and then fitted with fishnets, but this isn’t the case here, because Hughes drew her without them.

I thought this might have been a deal breaker for me but the look has quite grown on me, and I think that apart from the fact it would not have been true to the art, it wouldn’t have looked great for the pose that she’s in. All good in fishnet-less land.

This statue is beautifully sculpted, right down the stray strands of hair and Zatanna’s trademark top hat. Her cane (not really a classic Zee prop, but true to the cover) is made out of a flexible material, making is less easy to break, which is a nice touch. The base is very solid, no toppling here. The hand painted finish makes for a pretty perfect effort.

Kudos to DCD not just for this instalment, but creating a full-sized statue line that is a bit more in the affordable range for the average collector. Looking forward to Black Canary, Catwoman and beyond!

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

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

AFB: Now Braver and Bolder!!!

The retail gods have once again smiled on AFB. Thanks to a tip-off from AFB Forum Mod fishmilkshake (yeah, I know…) I managed to find Batman Brave & The Bold’s Plastic Man and Green Arrow at our local Target, and thus wrap my B&B Wave Two – I’ve already found and reviewed Atom and Sportsmaster.

These two figures just reinforce BTB&B as a very fun line for kids and collectors alike. The fun of the animated series comes further to life with the addition of new characters, particularly Green Arrow, who provides some of the comic relief in the series.

I like the way that the style chosen for each character in the series isn’t bound to current continuity: for instance a SA- styled Green Arrow alongside a MA Blue Beetle, Aquaman in his classic costume with a beard, etc., just adds to the mish-mash fun of the series.

I’m getting used to the holes in the joints of these figures, especially when they make sense for holding props, accessories etc, which is the case of both of these figures. Neither of their accessories quite hit the mark, however: Green Arrow can’t hold his bow, rather it sits on the outside of his arm, and Plastic Man’s stretched out arm doesn’t rest neatly over the small arm, meaning that his original hand is still visible. I doubt that matters to the target audience for these toys, but it’s a bit of a bugbear for the collector.

The enjoyment in this is going to be in the growing collection – with the new characters previewed at SDCC it looks like that will continue for a while to come. All up – more cartoony goodness in what is turning out to be a very fun line to collect!

You can see more pics on Facebook, chat about this on AFB Forum, and comment on this post for your chance to win the September Comment of the Month Contest.

AFB Comment of the Month Contest – October!

First off, thanks to everyone who commented on last month’s blog posts. Congratulations to AFB Forum member fishmilkshake for winning the September Comment Contest! His selected prize of either the DCUC Wave 9 Green Arrow  or The DC Direct History of the Universe Black Lightning will be on the way shortly from Mike’s Comics N’ Stuff.

Now to October’s Contest: on offer are two great prizes: the winner will be able to choose either from the DC Direct JLI Series Two Fire or the Star Trek: The Original Series Salt Vampire. As well as being great individual figures, these two could be combined together to make an excellent “Before and After Smoking” Set!

Here’s a reminder of the basic contest rules:

contestoct2091

  • 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!

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