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!

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