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Sunday, February 28, 2010

DC Direct Makes the Most of Maquettes

I haven't given DC Direct's DVD Maquettes much thought, seeing as I generally like to collect comic versions of characters, but a couple have caught my attention recently and have ended up added to my collection. I'm going to take a look at two tonight, and the first is the Owlman DVD Maquette from Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths.

With many of the main heroes featured in this DVD having already appeared in the Maquette line, it makes since to feature one of this story's central villains in the piece for this film, and Owlman is a great choice. This maquette comes in three pieces: main statue, base and gun. Even so, it's a big box, due the fantastic cut of Owlman's cape. His animated costume is extremely good looking and lends itself to a dynamic sculpt. His costume is basically in greyscale, and yet it's a very eye-catching piece. The pose, the angle of the gun, the sweep of the cape all make this a very enjoyable piece that sits happily amongst my comic-inspired Batman busts and statues. A big win in my book!

While we're talking DC Direct Maquettes, let's also take a look an earlier release: the Green Lantern: First Flight DVD Maquette. It was a chance eBay bargain on this piece that got me started on the Maquette train. Finding this on eBay at such a great price was a good lesson that you can often find statues at good prices on the secondary market shortly after release - I just need to learn not to jump right away on pieces I'm not 100% sure about, or wait too long on ones I really want, because after awhile they get way too cost prohibitive when you count in the shipping to Oz.

As for the maquette: once again we have a nice dynamic sculpt, with GL actually stepping onto the base with one foot off to the side. The paintwork here is a great, with a metallic green adding to the texture. One odd thing I find about some of DCDs busts and statues is that they're often photographed in promo shots at an angle that's not quite possible to replicate in real life, at least on a flat service. This is the case here, with Hal looking more skywards in person than in the pics. It's a small quibble with what is an otherwise fun piece.

That's me and DCD Maquettes for the moment. I certainly don't see myself buying every release, but it is good to know that they can be fun purchases for the right character!

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

Until next time!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Power Girl joins the ranks of the Cover Girls of the DCU

It says something about the quality of a line when each successive release becomes your new favourite. That's the case for me when it comes to DC Direct's Cover Girls of the DC Universe Statue Series, with new release Power Girl in stores this week.

Power Girl is a bit infamous in my household. While Mrs AFB still gets her Aquaman confused with her Greens both Arrow and Lantern, much to my distress, she can spot a Power Girl from a mile away, or "those boobs!", as she usually exclaims. Therefore, any Power Girl-related purchase must be carefully considered, and possibilities for strategic placement of said item scoped out before display. Once I saw the consistent quality of this line, however, this purchase was a no-brainer - I dare say it's not usually the brain that influences Power Girl merchandise purchases!!

While some of DCD's busts differ greatly from the sketches that they're based on, this statue captures the Adam Hughes art that inspired it beautifully. The sculpt of the face is a little different from the cover, but it still works very effectively. The sculpt of this statue is excellent and the paintwork is spotless. The cape is a selling point in itself. It flows beautifully a quite an angle without impacting on the balance of the statue at all. Beautifully done, and a wonderful touch to compliment a great piece.

I'm still on the fence about the upcoming Harley Quinn statue, but as the line has been so strong and the Poison Ivy statue looks so brilliant, I'll probably want to keep a complete run! There are certainly worse things to collect!

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


Until next time!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Lord Darkseid, how could I forget thee?

As some of our astute commenters pointed out, I failed to say anything about the Darkseid Collect & Connect figure in my review of DC Universe Classics Wave 12. My bad!

In my defense, I'm a little discom-blog-ulated at the moment due to a technical issue. I just got a new laptop at work (yay!) and for some reason I can't reinstall Windows Live Writer (boo!). My whole way of blogging has been challenged, so I've been trying different blog editors without alot of joy. I'm using Qumana at the moment, but if anyone has a better suggestion, I'm open.

Anyhoo, Darkseid. I for one wasn't super excited about Darkseid being announced as the C&C for this wave, since I was pretty happy with the DC Superheroes version and would have rather seen a new character being done. Additionally, Jack Kirby never drew Darkseid super-big, so I don't see a giant sized version as a great companion to the other New Gods done in this line. I've got nothing against the modern age, but when it comes down to it, give me the classics version please.

Still, this version is very well done, and has a place in the display. The detailing on his boots is awesome and he's very well constructed. As for the craggy lines on his face - maybe there's a little bit too much detail there. I actually like the headsculpt overall - my one complaint about the DCSH Darkseid was that his head was a bit too small - no such issue here.

I don't think I've changed my mind about preferring that a new character got a shot at the C&C treatment for Wave 12, but this figure definitely has a place in the collection and is worth the effort of tracking down individual pieces to build. While my preference is for the less-giant version, this does look great.

My apologies to Darkseid and all of his fans for the unintentional snub!

Until next time!


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Sunday, February 21, 2010

DCUC Rolls on - and just gets better! Wave 12

Looking now at the wide array of characters covered in DC Universe Classics, and the amazing range of figures and impressive Collect & Connects we've enjoyed over the last few years, it's hard to imagine I was ever skeptical about what this line. Perhaps it was being burned by DC Direct that caused my cynicism, but the promises made by Mattel at the outset of DCUC, specifically about the scope they hoped to cover within the DC Universe, just seemed to good to be true, and while I collected the line from the beginning I adopted a "wait and see" attitude before joining the cheer squad. Needless to say, twelve waves later, the overall quality of the figures plus some inclusions that have given weight to that "nothing in the DCU is off limits" promise (Killer Moth, Gentleman Ghost, Robotman) I'm happy to be a card carrying DCUC cheer squad member!


The highlights here for me are Golden Age JSA members Spectre and Dr Mid-Nite, and the first member of the Metal Men to grace the series, Iron. I am a big Spectre fan and was never satisfied with the glow-in-the-dark DC Direct version. The glow-in-the-dark feature was always meh to me, and the skin tone never looked right. This one corrects all of that, and the headsculpt is excellent. I would have preferred a Crispus Allen variant instead of DCUC's own glow in the dark version, but a Crispus version would be an easy mod, so I'll hope for its inclusion in a boxed set somewhere down the road. Dr Mid-Nite is the best version of the character so far - very happy this turned out to be Dr Charles McNider, but again I am hopeful for a Pieter Cross version down the road. I did have a bit of trouble getting Hooty to sit properly on Dr M's arm - a magnet attachment would not have gone astray


Desaad and Copperhead are both serviceable versions of the characters. I haven't been buying the Super Powers redesigns of the New Gods, but Desaad was the same as he is in the comics, so I am glad to have him. I'm not wild about the lighter orange neck on Copperhead, as it only appeared in the JLU cartoon and not the comics, but his headsculpt is excellent, and it's great to have him in this scale.


Eclipso is a nice surprise - the initial photos weren't particularly impressive, but the facial features I didn't like so much in those pics are much better in person - his ears might be a tad longer than I'd like, but the maniacal smile is just right.



As much as I love this line, no wave is perfect, and unfortunately it's Mary Marvel's (uh... Batson......) fate to be the dog of the wave, quite literally, as her headsculpt is really awful. She looks less like an adolescent girl and more like the middle-aged star of a 70's sitcom. Strange really as the female headsculpts overall in this line have been excellent. Add to that my usual complaints about the skinny arms on the DCUC females, and I can only give this a bare pass. A sad blotch on what is overall an excellent wave.


And as for Iron........ oh, where to begin? This fellow is certainly in the running for 6" figure of the year, and one of my favourite figures in the line. He's shiny! He's metallic! He's blue!! A perfect sculpt, great design, and the option of either fists or snap-on attachments all make for great fun. Bring on the rest of the Metal Men!


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


Until next time!


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Trip on the River Digital..... My Battle for Battle Cat

3:55am (AEST) Phone alarm goes off. Wake (somewhat), put on glasses, open laptop and then lie back down while it finds the wireless network.

3:56am Dog decides it is morning, scampers about excitedly for her breakfast and walk. Ignore dog.

3:57am Internet is connected. Open Chrome, go to the Mattycollector page, and get the white screen of death. Lie down to let the 3 second refresh mechanism do its thing.

4:01am Remember that the 3 second refresh doesn’t work in Chrome. Sit up, close Chrome. Open IE. Curse Mattel for making me use IE.

4:02am Get the white screen of death in IE. Lie down and wait.

4:04am Remember that I will need my code for my Battle Cat discount.

4:04am Debate $8 vs. having to get up again.

4:06am Remind self of how much I spend on toys. Open Gmail and get my discount code.

4:08am Decide that Matty is looking far too bloody cheerful for 4 in the bloody morning.

4:10am Dog hasn’t got message. Show dog the time. Dog licks clock.

4:16am Matty Store loads. Sit up. Click on “Buy Now” for Battle Cat. Get the white screen of death again. Lie down.

4:21am Battle Cat page loads. Put two in cart. Actually get to the order page. Enter discount code. Get the white screen of death.

4:22am Try to keep sitting up for fear I’ll fall asleep. Check forums and Facebook to see how others are going.

4:23am Grow weary of listening to people who didn’t have to get up in the middle of the bloody night complain. Lie down again.

4:29am Wife wakes, looks at clock and tells me I'm crazy. I can't disagree. Wife goes back to sleep.

4:34am Begin to lose resolve, contemplate selling my soul to eBay for Battle Cat.

4:35am Decide I hate scalpers more than not sleeping. Stay sitting up.

4:39am Assaulted by dog, who is still awake. Throw pillow at dog. Miss.

4:42am Order page loads again. Place order, log in, and payment is confirmed. Shed a small tear of frustration and relief.

4:43am Close laptop and go back to bed. Dog is dismayed. Ignore dog.

4:45am Hand licked by dog. Pull sheet over my head and go to sleep.

6:00am Alarm goes off. Apologise to dog that morning walk is not going to happen. Hit snooze. 5 times.

6:45am Get up and get in shower. Consider drowning self to avoid having to go to work.

6:46am Wonder which is more insane, Mattel’s ordering system or the collector that got up in the middle of the night to battle with it. Decide that I win.

Have a tale of woe to share? Tell it on the AFB Forum, or comment here to enter the February AFB Comment Contest

Until next time!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Marvel Secret Wars Series 3: The Great, The Could've Been Great and the Downright Awful

While I have no particular love for what Hasbro is doing with the Marvel License, the idea of a line dedicated to the original Secret Wars miniseries is something I have a great deal of time for. There is a nod to collectors in these two-packs, as there's no current property to fuel sales, and there are some fairly C-List characters in the mix. While we've had the repeat characters that feature in the Marvel Universe world, they've come in a satisfying '80s style, four colour look that reflects the art of the miniseries very adequately.


The disappointment with this line has been the sporadic quality control, and this frustration is extremely evident in the third wave of three two-packs, which contain both the absolute best and absolute worst of what Hasbro's 3 3/4" Marvel figures have had to offer so far.


Wave Three includes Mr Fantastic & Ultron, Hawkeye & Piledriver and Thor & Enchantress.


There's very little "Fantastic" about poor Reed Richards, or should we say his teenage nephew Nigel, who just happened to be wearing Uncle Reed's uniform on the day he was called to model for this figure. To make matters worse, it looks like Ben Grimm sat on the poor tacker's head, so the end result here leaves alot to be desired. Scale fail in the extreme, and a squashed head to match. Fail to the max. On the flipside, Ultron is awesome, despite a left shoulder pad (well, prong.... metal thing....) that keeps popping off, this is a great figure. The advantage here is that there's no facial features to juggle with of course, but apart from that the detailing and sculpting still put this a step above the rest. It's a win that *almost* negates the Mr. Not-Fantastic debacle.


Hawkeye is extremely well done, and certainly the best accessorised of all of these figures so far. He has a smirk on his face, but from the photos on the packaging it at least looks like that was intended. His uniform is very detailed and his gear is (bow, quiver, arrow) is great. A big winner. Piledriver is another great addition to the Wrecking Crew (although I'm a bit concerned we haven't had news of Wrecker himself yet...), but I really hate the blue wash over the white in his uniform, especially since one of the thing I've liked about this line is the plain colouring reminiscent of the style of the comics at the time.


Thor and Enchantress are quite good figures, in fact Enchantress could have been the best yet of the MU females (limited though they are), if not for the wonky paintwork on her eyes. Instead of the Asgardian beauty she should be, she ends up looking more like your cross-eyed cousin Ethel with the unfortunate facial hair problem that is only allowed out for family weddings. If I was a customiser I'd be doing an eye repaint quick smart. Thor is well done, and I love the plain colours and 80's styling here. Again the face it a bit of a letdown, but this is still a nice addition to the line, and a good template for the Modern Age version that's coming up in Marvel Universe.


Overall, I'm happy to have these in my collection, but it's hard not to look at them and think of what could have been with a little more QC.


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


Until next time!


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Friday, February 12, 2010

The King of Atlantis Set to return!

In the most exciting news to come out of DC in well, ever, Aquaman is coming back in Brightest Day!

The DC Blog has a full take on plans to put Aquaman and his supporting cast centre stage in the DC Universe. This isn't action figure news (yet), but it's Aquaman, and that makes it blog-worthy in my view!

There's much happiness in AFB land today!

AFB is Certified Geek!

There's a fun new blog out there called Certifiably Geek Blogs, which awards blog with a "Certified Geek" label based on the recommendations of fellow bloggers. Many thanks to Tom at Freak Studios for passing on the Certified Geek banner to AFB! I promise to wear it with pride!

Part of the "rules" of Certified Geek is that I now must pass the banner on to two fellow bloggers. This was a no-brainer for me, as I needed to look no further than to two members of the AFB Forum family!

First up is TV and Film Toys, put together by "Engineernerd". I met Eng through Twitter and we at the AFB Forum greatly enjoy his reviews. More to the point, some AFB Forum members seem to live for the great guessing games that TVFT run - great fun, and a more than deserving "Certified Geek" recipient.

Second is someone who I consider to the be godfather of toy reviews: Michael Crawford at MWC Toys. Michael's reviews are the best - so well photographed, documented and scored that you can be left in no doubt about the item at the end of the review. Michael's attention to detail and passion for his craft is second to none. Thanks for being an inspiration!

Many thanks to Certifiably Geek Blogs, Freak Studios, and everyone out there that makes this such a fun and rewarding thing to do!

Until next time!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Heroes of the DCU Busts - Back in a Flash!

Somehow I missed that with Green Arrow, we said goodbye to Carlos Pacheo's run as designer of the Heroes of the DC Universe Mini-Bust series from DC Direct. Perhaps, like most of Pacheo's characters, I had my eyes closed.

Anyhoo, it's Gary Frank's turn, and first up is the Scarlet Speedster himself, The Flash.

Frank has a very distinctive artistic style, and the truth of his sketch is captured very well in the sculpt overall, although the jaw is more square in the final product than the angular version in Frank's design. The other question I have is whether or not the arms are actually a bit long, as the left elbow seems exaggerated, but it's hard to tell without being able to extend it.

Paintwork is rock solid, and the base here is dynamic, fun and make sense, and all this makes Flash a great addition to the line. This has been a fun series to collect - I've made a budgetary decision to collect the Heroes only at this stage and not the Villains counterpart line. What I'm really waiting for, though, is for this line to start delving beyond the A-List and deliver a few of the lesser known or oddball choices that we've seen in the Women's Mini-Bust line. Time will tell if this line lives that long.

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

Until next time!

A Blast from the Past - Made in the Present

I have a few vivid memories of childhood disappointments. There was being cut from the Little League team and dropped back down to Pee Wees, which pretty much ended my baseball career, there was being sold into a forced marriage in the school playground at the tender age of 8 (a long story), and then there was repeatedly begging for and being denied Mego Super Heroes. I was obsessed with super heroes of all kinds, and spent many an hour lusting over Megos of various descriptions in the toy aisles of various K-Marts throughout my youth, but I think my parents just saw them as dolls and therefore not fitting toys for their little boy. It’s a loss I’ve long bemoaned, especially whenever I look at the price of a genuine MOC Mego Aquaman on eBay. *sob!*


Mattel is bringing the sexy back in their Retro Action DC Superheroes line, which started with the Mattycollector.com exclusive Green Arrow. I was only too keen to order this and very happy when it arrived on the slow boat a few days ago. Green Arrow looks like great fun. The headsculpt is very well done – a modernised version of what would have been once upon a time. As for the body, I like the fact that it isn’t overly updated. The gloves and boots retain that chunky original feel, and the overall proportions don’t seem to have altered at all.


The magic for me in this line is in the reproduction packaging, which comes complete with a bit of “fading” to give it that genuine feel. Thus at this stage I don’t see myself unpacking these – although Green Arrow is very tempting because he comes with some great accessories I could play with, and it does bug me that his archer’s cap is rolling around in the bottom of the plastic bubble. Nevertheless, I’d hate to lose the retro feel of the packaging, and I doubt I’d hold the same affection for these if they were displayed loose, so I’ll hold off at least for now.


I don’t see myself collecting the whole line, but favourite characters Aquaman and Green Lantern are a nostalgic must. Everything else will be on a case by case basis. I’d sure love the Teen Titans in their original Mego glory!


In my view the only way this could have been improved upon would be to have some sort of resealable packaging so that the figure could be inspected or displayed but then repackaged to retain the retro feel. I guess it wouldn’t really be retro if it didn’t have the good ‘ol rip-off bubble!


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


Until next time!


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Sunday, February 07, 2010

Bowen Busts Galore!

After a long wait, Bowen Designs has released two new mini-busts which I’m excited to add to my collection. Bowen does a great job of giving us not just the A list of Marvel characters, but the odd surprise as well, and this latest pair delivers both.

As a big fan of SQUADRON SUPREME, I was delighted to see the Hyperion Mini-Bust solicited, and this doesn’t disappoint. Paintwork here is perfectly done, and I love the flow of his cape. The only quibble I might have here is that his mouth seems a wee bit small, but hey, some folks have small mouths I guess. Nothing could take away the excitement of having one of the lead characters from one of my all-time favourite stories. I own the classic Nighthawk, but I am probably going to have to pick up the Squadron version that’s been gathering dust at my LCS sooner or later to go along with this great piece.

Cable isn’t a favourite character of mine, but as I am trying to focus my Bowen collection around the X-Men / Avengers / Defenders (bring on Valkyrie please!), he’s a needed element. Having said that, this bust is great looking and I was surprised by how much I liked it. There is fantastic detail here in his costume and weapons.

Cyclops isn’t a new bust, but it’s one I’ve been eyeing for some time, and I finally managed to snag it on sale while on holiday in Brisbane. This is probably Cyclops’ most iconic Modern Age look, and worth having even if there aren’t many other busts from this era. There is a bit of rough texture on the body that makes the paintwork not look as smooth as it could – quite unusual for a Bowen Bust. The pose and facial expression really works, however, and makes this a very welcome addition to the collection.

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

Until next time!

Monday, February 01, 2010

AFB Comment of the Month Contest – February 2010

First off, thanks to everyone who commented on last month’s blog posts. Congratulations to “demoncat” for being our winner! Demoncat – as you don’t have a Blogger profile I can’t email you – please get in touch with me – probably easiest to do so through the AFB Forum – just log in and message me (“Andy”). Once we hear from demoncat his / her choice of prize will be on the way from Mike’s Comics N’ Stuff.

Now to February’s Contest: on offer are two great prizes, either the DC Universe Classics Wave 12 Iron or the Thor / Enchantress Two-Pack from Marvel Universe Secret Wars series.

A few bits and pieces:

  • 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, as long as your profile is not set to private – check your settings.
  • 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 all 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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