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Saturday, April 30, 2011

April Custom Spotlight: Maverick!



Over at the AFB Forum, we have a very clever group of customisers who post their work in our customs board, called "The Originals".

As a monthly feature at AFB, I'll be shining the spotlight one of these great pieces of work each month. There's a bit of twist though: while I chose the first figure to be featured, from there on it’s the responsibility of the chosen customiser to choose the next custom (not their own work) to be featured. 

Last month’s customiser, Starman, has chosen a great piece by my good friend NiteOwl as the custom for this month’s spotlight.  Stars has very impressive skills, especially when you learn that he does all of his painting freehand!

With that, it's over to NiteOwl to take us through his great effort!:
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I entered this custom into a comp on another forum, after watching the "Wolverine and the X-Men" episode that featured Maverick quite prominently.


The torso, gloves and arms were from a ML Deathlok figure. His costumed indentations seem to fit the character quite well.


The head was from a Legolas 6 inch LOTR figure. I just added sculpey for the mask and hair. The boots are from a ML Wonder Man figure.


The backpack/harness is a combo from the Deathlok figure and the Silver Centurion Iron man.


The bandoleer and various pouches are from various figures from JLU, DCUC and ML. The tubes are basically craft strings cut to size.


I added sculpey again to the leg coverings and painted him up based on colours from various sources from the web and my own personal comic book collection.


Without a doubt this is one of my most favourite customs that I have ever completed.


Thanks for letting me be a part of the blog!


NiteOwl.
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Many thanks to NiteOwl for taking the time to write up this thorough explanation of his great work! Check out NiteOwl's Custom Thread at the AFB Forum for more pics of Maverick and his other works. We'll have another Custom Spotlight next month with a custom of NiteOwl’s' choosing!

You discuss this at the AFB Forum and comment on this post to enter the April AFB Comment of the Month Contest!

Also, don’t forget to check out the two contests we have going at the moment: the “That ‘70s Custom” Custom Contest and the final round of our first “Toy Lines!” Caption Contest!

Until next time!

Toy Lines! The AFB Caption Contest - Round Four!

First off, many thanks to everyone who entered the third round of "Toy Lines!", our new caption contest! I must say that as an innocent soul (no really....), I didn't see all of the potential interpretations of the photo I put together, so when you have a look at the entries, be aware they're not all family friendly. There were great entries in Round Three - we really do have some clever folk on the AFB Forum!

The task for Round Three was to add captions to a photo featuring DC Direct Red Lantern Mera and Dex-Starr and DC Direct Arkham Asylum Joker and Scarface, and once again our entrants rose the challenge!

Thankfully, it's only my job to choose the winners of each round, because that is challenging enough!! The ultimate winner will be chosen by the readers of AFB!

As always, I'm going with the entry that made me laugh the loudest. Congratulations to our Round Three winner, NiteOwl! Here's his hilarious entry:


NiteOwl's Round Three Winner will face off against the winners from the other three rounds in a public vote here on the blog, with the winner receiving our prize, which is a Mattel Masters of the Universe Classics Eternian Palace Guards Two Pack,  like the one reviewed here. The prize will be an unopened version still sealed in its white mailer box.

That means there are still three chances to win, and the next challenge is just below. I thought our final round should be a challenge, so see what fun can you have with this one - what's Mercury up to?? (Click here for a larger version of the photo to play with)


There will be four rounds of "Toy Lines!", each lasting 10 or so days. The winners of each round will be decided by me, and once all four rounds are over, the four winning photos will be put up to a vote here on the site for the AFB Readership to decide the ultimate winner.

Here are the basic rules:
  • You are allowed to save your own copy of the photo for each round and edit it to present your entry.

  • Only one entry per person per round is allowed. You may enter each round, even if you have won a previous round.

  • Entries must be posted at the AFB Forum in the thread for each round - Round Four is here

  • Every 10 (or so) days I will announce the winner for the previous round here at the blog and post a new photo for a new round

  • Once we have completed four rounds, I will post the four winning photos here at the blog and post a poll for AFB readers to vote for the winner. This will be a blind poll and will run for 15 days.

  • The reader vote will determine the winner. The winner will receive the MOTUC Eternian Palace Guards Two-Pack with standard shipping. The winner may add express shipping or insurance at his/her own expense.

    Keep up the good work, and I look forward to the next great round!

    Until next time!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Change is in the Air: Bowen's Mystique Statue Arrives

I often have these internal debates over which version of a character I am going to buy. Some of my favourite characters like Colossus and Black Canary get multiple spots in my display, and I’m pretty much a completist when it comes to my main favourites Aquaman and Nightcrawler, but for most other characters I try to keep it down to one version per type of collectable, particularly in the space and money-grabbing statue department. For example, I have a Kotobukiya Black Widow and a Bowen Black Widow, but one Black Widow each in the anime-styled PVC pieces and 12” statue series is enough.

Thus, I was in a quandary when I saw the solicits for the Bowen Mystique Full-Sized Statue,  as I had recently purchased the Sideshow Mystique Comiquette. I hemmed and hawed, and ultimately decided I didn’t want to muck up my LCS by cancelling my order, and would decide once I saw the Bowen version in person if I’d keep or sell.

The short version of this review is that Bowen’s Mystique won’t be going anywhere soon. She really is a beauty. Jason Smith has done a fantastic job on the digital sculpt for this piece, and while there are some small paint issues, I am overall very happy with this purchase.

I have picked up quite a few of the earlier Bowen pieces that were released before I started collecting, but I’d never bit the bullet on the Mystique Mini-Bust as there was something about her face I didn’t really like. It was perhaps a little too exaggeratedly “evil” with its darkened, arched eyebrows. The Full Size statue is a big improvement for me in that regard as the facial expression is open to interpretation, while the gun held just behind her back leaves the viewer in no doubt that whatever side Mystique is on, she’s always deadly.

This is a very beautiful sculpt by Jason Smith. Bowen certainly has a stable of sculptors who have mastered their portrayal of the female form. (Writers note - that sentence required several revisions to not sound totally lewd...) In addition to a stunningly sculpted face and head of hair, there are beautiful lines in this statue, created by her pose and the flowing skirt / super-villainous lap-lap that makes up the lower part of her uniform. The interesting angles created by her pose are made possible by the fact that the statue is permanently attached to the base.

Bowen’s been a little bit hit and miss with paint recently, and there are a few niggles here that are hard to accept for the price point. The edges of her white gloves and boots are slightly fuzzy against her blue skin, and her lips are a bit short of red paint on the right hand side of her face, causing her lips to look a bit pursed. In addition, her white top has no sculpted edges at the shoulder - it’s just painted on. These are all minor complaints that don’t really impact on the overall appearance of the piece, especially since the colour choices are excellent, but for what these cost I think it’s reasonable to expect a bit better.

The base for this piece is a very nice reflection of Mystique, with golden skulls adorning a round and raised black base. I was pleased that this statue didn’t come on the large X-Men base that is often used, as not just because it’s a space hog. It’s nice to get some different sizes and levels in the Bowen bases to create more variety in my display.

Despite the small paint complaints, this is a piece I’m very happy to add to my collection of X-Folk. Bowen has been doing a top job of producing Full Sized Statues of the X-Men variety, and Mystique stands out amongst the growing crowd. I do hope, though, that the recent paint transgressions noted on this piece and the recently released Firestar are blips on the Bowen radar rather than a developing trend.

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

Until next time!

Monday, April 25, 2011

AFB goes ape with MOTUC's Shadowbeasts!

One of the areas in which Mattel’s Masters of the Universe Classics line is really succeeding is oversized figures. The fact that Mattel was able to sell 2011 Club Eternia Subscriptions with these items included is a testament to how much they add to the MOTUC line.

The latest of these items to grace my shelves is the Masters of the Universe Shadowbeast. Another thing that Mattel is getting a good deal of mileage out of is apes. We’ve had Gorilla Grodd and Ultra-Humanite in the DC Universe Classics line and Gygor in MOTUC. The Shadowbeast is a very welcome addition to Mattel’s simian symposium.

While the Shadowbeasts share elements with Gygor, this feels like a completely original piece thanks to its very nicely crafted original parts. The headsculpt on these monkeys is fabulously menacing and this, making them great for setting up in threatening positions over your Eternian heroes. The bared teeth and wild eyes are assisted by that whacky Shadowbeast arm to create a very angry ape!

All of this great sculpting is very handsomely complemented by an excellent paint job. The torso has some very nice shading, with the lighter sections on the Shadowbeast’s pecs and ribs creating a real look of muscle, assisting in making the whole piece look more lifelike. The lighter tone chosen for the hands and feet is a great choice as it highlights the visible tendons that lead to dark, sharp looking claws. All of this combines to create a very classic giant baddy for the MOTUC line!

There is more than adequate articulation present for a figure of this size and body shape. The rotating ankles are particularly important for posing as they have a tendency to topple over when in poses with raised arms unless they are correctly positioned.

The Shadowbeasts come with the most awesome of accessories, which is a spiked wooden club that is truly massive. I am not a mad keen accessory person, but these clubs will most definitely be on display at my place! The only issue with the clubs is that they are quite heavy and limit posing, but they are worth it as they are so impressive.

Obviously I’m very happy with this figure - and very glad I took the plunge and bought a second, as they really are perfect for army building! As I write this, I’m expecting my Panthor any day now, so I am looking forward to more MOTUC beastly goodness soon! As far as I’m concerned, Mattel can keep pumping these goodies out for a long time to come!

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

Also, don’t forget to check out the two contests we have going at the moment: the “That ‘70s Custom” Custom Contest and the third round of our first “Toy Lines!” Caption Contest!

Until next time!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Please have a gander at "Trade Waiting Tales"

Because I wasn't blogging enough.....

I have set up a blog specifically for a weekly (or so) review of the latest trade I've read. This is partly to make me more discipline about working through the ever-growing pile of trades on my night stand, and partly to give me an outlet to make sense of them, as I find writing about things is often my preferred way of responding to them.

The blog is called "Trade Waiting Tales" as trades have really become my preferred way to read comics, for reasons detailed in the first post at TWT.

The new site can be found at http://tradewaitingtales.com and I'd love it if you could have a look!

Also, I have a Facebook page and Twitter feed for the new blog which are both very lonely at the moment - please give them some love! 



Thanks for your support, and happy reading!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Bowen's Firestar Flames Out

There have been quite a few characters that have started their fictional lives in animated superhero cartoons and then later been introduced into continuity in comic books. Most of those that come to mind are from the DC Universe. A notable exception to this is Marvel’s Firestar, who began her life in The Amazing Spider-Man and Friends cartoon in the early ‘80s. Firestar was created when the originally intended character, The Human Torch, was unavailable due to rights issues. Four years later, Firestar became an official part of the Marvel Universe when she was introduced in Uncanny X-Men #193, and went on to become a founding member of the New Warriors and ultimately a short but successful career as an Avenger.

After many requests from fans, Bowen Designs has released a mini-bust of Firestar sculpted by Mike Cusanelli. This bust is somewhat faithful to both her animated appearance and her first appearance in the comic book world. It has her trademark mask, which she abandoned for many years in favour of various goggles, although she has recently gone back to a form of them.

Between her associations with a classic cartoon, the X-Men, Avengers and more, Firestar is character that many fans were keen to add to their Bowen collection. Unfortunately, the excitement of this release has been dampened by two issues. The first is one of design, and the second is a paint QC issue.

Mike Cusanelli is a very talented sculptor, and females are his specialty. In addition to his work with Bowen, he produces resin kits which are generally beautifully designed females. It’s odd, then, that the pose chosen for Firestar really comes up lacking. The sculpting itself is beautiful – particularly Firestar’s lovely flowing hair, but there’s little energy in Firestar’s pose or facial expression – she looks more like she’s about to hail a taxi than use her considerable powers. The lack of energy coming from her face doesn’t assist.

Further, the painted flames on Firestar’s base just don’t stand up against the translucent flames on recent busts like Pyro and Daimon Hellstrom. At one stage it was stated that the flames would be produced as translucent in the final product, but this didn’t come to pass.

Finally, Firestar’s eyes are quite out of alignment, with the left eye being higher than the right. At first I thought this was a paint issue, but it seems that’s the way it was sculpted. It’s even evident in the promo shot on the Bowen site. It’s just off enough to be noticeable.

The real issue for me, however, is some of the worst paint slop I’ve seen on a statue, certainly on a Bowen piece. The flesh paint on her face bleeds well into the hairline on the right side of her face. This flaw doesn’t come out as dramatically in my photos as it appears in person. Often you notice these things and then after awhile you stop seeing them, however this piece has now been in my display for a few weeks and I still notice the misaligned eyes and paint slop each time I walk past. It’s a real disappointment from Bowen, considering that the QC on their pieces are usually very reliable.

I very much like the Firestar character, so until such time as she gets either a Full Size release or a Modern Age bust, this piece is going to stay in my display, but I have to declare it an unfortunate “miss” from my favourite statue and bust producer. Cusinelli has two female busts coming up from Bowen – Enchantress and the web exclusive Hela. They both look fantastic in their promo shots – let’s hope that translates to what we see on our shelves!

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

Also, don’t forget to check out the two contests we have going at the moment: the “That ‘70s Custom” Custom Contest and the third round of our first “Toy Lines!” Caption Contest!

Until next time!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Kotobukiya's Captain America is a Force to be reckoned with!

I have been becoming more and more appreciative of Kotobukiya’s Marvel Statue efforts. I am a diehard fan of their Bishoujo lines but only have a couple of their larger statues, namely the Fall of the Hulks set and their Dr Doom Statue. I can now add another to that list – the Kotobukiya Captain America (Bucky Barnes) Statue.  I’m happy to report it’s a very happy addition!

I know that many readers haven’t enjoyed Bucky’s turn as Captain America and will welcome Steve Rogers’ imminent return to the role. I have been quite a fan of this run – nothing against Steve, as I always knew he’d be back, but it’s been an interesting character study and a great way of transitioning Bucky to true hero status after his Winter Soldier days.

In addition to the character development and different shadings Bucky has brought to the role in his time with the shield, I also really like his version of the Captain America costume. It’s a very logical updating of the classic gear, and the darker tones used illustrate some of the darker edges that Bucky brings to his approach to the role.

I imagine that sculptors must enjoy action poses like this as it really gives them an opportunity to show off their skills. The understanding of human anatomy required to compose something like this takes my breath away. The pose and musculature involved in putting Bucky together is really outstanding. This is one of the most dynamically posed statues I have in my collection. Bucky is beautifully posed, and having the extra characters there greatly helps to illustrate his action and add energy to the statue.

I haven’t always been sold on the face sculpts for Koto’s human characters in their statue line, but Cap’s is excellent. It’s clear, detailed and very determined. This improvement is really encouraging to see!

The paint on this statue is outstanding. A very nice range of matte, glossy and metallic finished are used to provide a very nice range of texture. The colour choices are excellent across the board. Something I really like about the paint on this piece is the way that the red and blue on Bucky’s outfit are quite different from the same colours on his shield – not in tone, but strength – it really makes his outfit look like fabric and his shield look like metal. I don’t think I’ve explained that particularly well, but look at the pics and hopefully you’ll see!

I like that Koto is distinguishing itself from its competitors in the 12” –ish statue department through the inclusion of these more detailed bases, be it the inclusion of other characters or more complex diorama-style bases that come together to tell a story, such as their X-Men Danger Room Series, which I’ll be venturing into shortly. The HYDRA are classic Marvel villains and it’s great to see them featured here.

Another likeable thing about this statue is that it can be displayed at a range of angles depending on what you want to feature. You can have Cap face-on to get the fullness of his gear and facial expression, or go for a side-on view to get more of the effect of Cap piling on to the Hydra Agents and get a view of the shield. It is a bit of a shame that you only see the back of the shield when the statue is positioned with Cap facing the front, which is my favourite angle, but I think it would have been pretty difficult to come up with a pose that provided that and was still as dynamic and effective.

This statue is a very encouraging purchase – I’ve loved what Koto has done with oversized characters like the Hulks, but been a bit reticent to delve in to their work on these types of characters. With the great work done on this piece and Kotobukiya’s highly competitive pricing, expect to see more of their pieces gracing my shelves!

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

Also, don’t forget to check out the two contests we have going at the moment: the “That ‘70s Custom” Custom Contest and the third round of our first “Toy Lines!” Caption Contest!

Until next time!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

AFB Presents Starman's Toys I Grew Up With: The Resurrection of Monstress!

It’s a new month, and that means another edition of Toys I Grew Up With from our friend Starman!

This is actually the latest TIGW feature that Stars has posted at the AFB Forum, but I was so taken with it I decided to fast-track it to the blog. One of the things I really love about Starman’s board at the forum is the way that he unearths stuff I’ve never heard of – and today’s items are certainly in that category!

Without further ado – over to Stars!

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Ok, today we have a real treat - OR TRICK!!

Resurrection of Monstress
was a Japanese toyline released in the late 1990's by Yellow Submarine that gave us modernized female versions of the "classic" horror monsters. There were originally three planned series, of which only two were released.

*Since the line IS Japanese, the title on the cards alternately says Monstress or Monstless. :) *

The focus of this line was not articulation, but the "sexiness" of the ladies and the insane amount of accessories for each one.

All of the accessories are detachable and can store with the bases to some degree, which varies from figure to figure.

Each lady came with one variant, and one figure had 3 different versions.

So, onto the toys. Shall we?


Curia (Vampire)


Curia had 3 different figures. There is the standard black, the clear versionand a red version which I do not have and couldn't find pics for.

The large coffin can store Curia, her sword, her three bats, two syringes, a blood transfusion pack and bat monster. The winged skull on the coffin is also detachable.

Curia moves at the neck, shoulders and right wrist.










Wolfinica (Werewolf)


Wolfinica came in the standard brown version and the purple version, which I have.


All of her gear can store within the back of the large amp via pegs. Notice the yellow "wolvie" claw, the detachable wolf paw, the dog and two rats. The ONLY thing that is non-removable is the towel.


She also comes with a little dog skull with a nail sticking out of it.


She moves at the neck and shoulders.


Steela (Frankenstein)


Steela’s two versions are the standard grey/blue and the variant neon yellow/green.

She comes with a lightning bolt necklace, a steampunk glove for her right hand, a frankenstein mouse, a skull, a brain, two vials, a syringe, a scalpel, and a pair of pliers.

She also has a base which rotates from upright to horizontal with sides that rotate independently. Also, the electricity bolts can attach to her neck or shoulders and they are completely removable from the lab table.

She moves at the neck and shoulders.





















Gillealla (Sea Monster)

Gillealla had a standard version and a clear version.


Her "treasures" include a nice dagger with a seahorse motif, a re-breather pack with a mask that looks like her daddy, her dad's skull, two fish skeletons, and a treasure chest filled with coins and an octopus!!!

Notice all the detail on the seaweed and base!!!!!

She moves at the neck, shoulders and ankles.


Phanteana


Phanteana’s two versions are the neon/silver that I have and the gold/black combo shown on the cardback.

She comes with two full masks, two half masks, an owl, a mask wearing skull, two mannequin head for the masks, a mixing board and a keyboard.

She moves at the shoulders and neck.











Noctilca


Noctilca is EASILY one of the best of these figures just based on the cool stuff she comes with and her look.


Her two versions are the pink one that I have and the orange version shown on the cardback.

She comes with a pumpkin with an opening jaw, a cat, a cauldron, a spoon, two mushrooms, a clove of garlic, an eyeball, and two pieces of mandrake, a hat, a newt and her broom.

She moves at the neck, shoulders and wrists.

Hope you enjoy!


Stars

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As always, Stars has put together a wide range of pics of these figures that really need to be seen to appreciate them. Have a look at them here at the AFB Forum and then add your discussion to the thread!


Of course, you can comment on this post to enter the April AFB Comment of the Month Contest!


Also, don’t forget to check out the two contests we have going at the moment: the “That ‘70s Custom” Custom Contest and the third round of our first “Toy Lines!” Caption Contest!

Until next time!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sideshow's She-Hulk makes the AFB Family Green with Envy!

A little while back, I was drawn into the world of Sideshow’s Premium Format Figures by the very beautifully done Ms Marvel. This isn’t a line one can be completist about due to size and cost, but the very positive experience of adding Ms Marvel to my collection has lead to me ordering a couple of other pieces. The next one to come out is She-Hulk, and she’s the green beauty that is gracing our screens this evening. She’s also created some interesting reactions from my offspring, which I’ll explain at the end.

This is actually the Sideshow Exclusive Premium Format She-Hulk, which I was lucky enough to receive from a converted Wait List order. The difference between the exclusive and regular versions is that the exclusive comes with a swap out hand which is holding a dislodged parking meter. More on that later – it goes with the offspring reaction bit!

The reason I ended up on the Wait List was that as much as I loved the majority of the look of this piece when it was solicited, I wasn’t completely sold on the purple pants, which in photos seemed to overwhelm the piece somewhat. After the fact, I happened across the cover to She-Hulk #29, with Mike Deodato art showing Jennifer in this outfit and a similar pose (sans parking meter), and I was converted.

Happily, I have absolutely no regrets about taking the plunge on this piece. As much as I love Ms Marvel, I have to say that She-Hulk is just a tiny notch above her for me in the favourite stakes.  Thankfully I don’t have to choose!

The headsculpt on this piece is absolutely stunning. When I first opened the box, I had a moment of panic that she had a wandering eye, but she’s designed to be looking at an angle – all was okay. Everything from her flowing hair to her beautifully sculpted face is just perfect.

I love this powerful pose. It’s a very graceful yet strong stance. Her body is very nicely sculpted and constructed. The only thing that I think is a tad odd about the statue is that while her purple pants are fabric, her top is sculpted on and painted. It’s not a complaint – it really is an amazing piece – just an observation.

The base of this piece is also a major plus for me. It’s a very good looking piece which looks like stomped down tree trunks, but it isn’t huge, which means that She-Hulk doesn’t take up a hulk-ish amount of shelf space width or depth wise – a plus for all of my collector brethren who are pinched for space!

Back to the exclusive parking meter – I am not always fussed about Sideshow’s exclusive pieces as I’m not the kind of person that’s likely to swap pieces around for display – there’s too much time and effort involved in that! I tend to choose the bit I like and leave it that way, so it isn’t always work the extra effort and cost. She-Hulk’s parking meter accessory, however, is a very clever piece and in some ways it really makes the whole statue, so I was keen to have it. The meter is quite detailed and looks fantastic. It’s a very worthwhile “extra”.




The parking meter accessory, however, has caused me a bit of a conundrum with the youngest AFB-ette, who is rather alarmed by what she perceives as wonton destruction on She-Hulk’s part. I’ve tried to explain that she must have ripped it out the ground to save someone or use it as a weapon against some nefarious baddie, but she keeps arguing, something along the lines of: “But She-Hulk BROKE it!!” I guess heroes being allowed to break things is a bit of an odd concept for a seven-year old. Sigh…


What takes the cake, however, is the elder AFB-ette’s reaction to this piece. Once I’d finished unpacking and photographing She-Hulk and had lifted it up onto its permanent display space (the top of a Detolf as she’s too big to fit in), Miss Ten looked up at the statue and said: “You know what the best thing about She-Hulk is? I’m going to inherit her when you die.” Nice.

As you can see, Sideshow’s She-Hulk has made quite an impact on the AFB Household.  I hope you like her just as much – she really is the most beautiful statue!

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

Also, don’t forget to check out the two contests we have going at the moment: the “That ‘70s Custom” Custom Contest and the third round of our first “Toy Lines!” Caption Contest!

Until next time!

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Toy Lines! The AFB Comment Contest - Round Three!

First off, many thanks to everyone who entered the second round of "Toy Lines!", our new caption contest! There were some really wonderful entries in Round Two - you can see them all by clicking here. Do have a look as they are well worth it!

The task for Round Two was to add captions to a photo featuring Masters of the Universe's He-Man, Grizzlor and Shadow Beast, and once again our entrants rose the challenge!

Thankfully, it's only my job to choose the winners of each round, because that is challenging enough!! The ultimate winner will be chosen by the readers of AFB!

As always, I'm going with the entry that made me laugh the loudest. Congratulations to our Round Two winner, fishmilkshake! Here's his hilarious entry:


Fishmilkshake's Round Two Winner will face off against the winners from the other three rounds in a public vote here on the blog, with the winner receiving our prize, which is a Mattel Masters of the Universe Classics Eternian Palace Guards Two Pack,  like the one reviewed here. The prize will be an unopened version still sealed in its white mailer box.

That means there are still three chances to win, and the next challenge is just below. See what fun can you have with this one:


There will be four rounds of "Toy Lines!", each lasting 10 or so days. The winners of each round will be decided by me, and once all four rounds are over, the four winning photos will be put up to a vote here on the site for the AFB Readership to decide the ultimate winner.

Here are the basic rules:

  • You are allowed to save your own copy of the photo for each round and edit it to present your entry.

  • Only one entry per person per round is allowed. You may enter each round, even if you have won a previous round.

  • You do not have to give "lines" to every toy in the photo. How you script it is up to you!

  • Entries must be posted at the AFB Forum in the thread for each round - Round Three is here

  • Every 10 (or so) days I will announce the winner for the previous round here at the blog and post a new photo for a new round

  • Once we have completed four rounds, I will post the four winning photos here at the blog and post a poll for AFB readers to vote for the winner. This will be a blind poll and will run for 15 days.

  • The reader vote will determine the winner. The winner will receive the MOTUC Eternian Palace Guards Two-Pack with standard shipping. The winner may add express shipping or insurance at his/her own expense.

Keep up the good work, and I look forward to the next great round! Also, you can of course comment on this post to enter the April AFB Comment of the Month Contest!

Until next time!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

DC Direct gives AFB Poison Ivy, Cover Girls Style!

From last night’s review of a Marvel Heroine, we move this evening to look at a DC Villainess, but are staying in the statue realm. You may have noticed my collection is definitely veering more towards statues these days. Trust me, my wallet has noticed as well!

Among the many things I had to try to work out after my return to comics after a long hiatus was why Poison Ivy had green skin. I really don’t know if I’ve ever worked the full story behind the change out, but regardless I remain very partial to the original version. I was really delighted to see that the DC Direct Adam Hughes-designed Cover Girls of the DC Universe Statue based on Poison Ivy would be based on a non-green Ivy. I was enthralled by the Hughes artwork announced as the base for the statue, and couldn’t wait for the final product.

I really like the way that DC Direct includes the original artwork on the packaging of its statues. These sketches and covers are usually translated beautifully into three dimensions. What can become apparent through these comparisons, however, is that it’s often difficult to capture that little spark of magic that artists imbue in their original work when converting to statue form. There’s a little element of expression in Hughes ‘ Ivy, a coquette-ish knowing in her eyes, that doesn’t quite come across, but it’s a small niggle. On the design side, I really like the way Hughes sketched Ivy’s hair, and that element is a tad different in the final piece. Small things, but worth noting as a part of commenting on the translation process.

The statue comes in three pieces – Ivy herself, her base and her ivy-covered spade. I had a moment’s trouble getting Ivy’s feet pegs into the holes on the base. There was a slight amount of pressure required to bring her legs close together enough to get everything in place (a sentence which I realise would be quite concerning if taken out of context…) and my fear of breaking something when putting statues together is always heightened, but in the end there was no issue. The placement of her spade is a nice design, as it has a little pin at the tip of the spade which fits into its own small hole on the base. The spade is small and seems fragile so this extra stability is a big plus.

There is a fair amount of detail and very nice textures in this design. The leaf elements on her outfit are sculpted, not just painted, and there are small leaf details throughout her hair. The leaves encircling her spade are also sculpted and are beautifully done. Even the "Poison Ivy" logo on the base has texture to it! There are matte paints used which is a nice contrast to a few of the other Cover Girls pieces like Harley Quinn and Catwoman which have large high gloss elements.

Unfortunately, there is a less than small QC issue with this piece, and that is a rather poor paint job in the application of the flesh tones. Surprising coming from DCD who usually have fairly solid paint apps in the statue department, and the first paint issue I’ve had with the Cover Girls Statue line. There is a line of flesh-toned paint that has strayed over onto what should be her hair on the left side of her head and neck, some similar issues with her hair at the back and some fuzziness in the join between her top and her flesh. It is a rather noticeable mistake. I haven’t seen any other versions of this statue in person to know if this is an issue across the board if I was just unlucky. I am sure I will learn to tune this out eventually, but to date it still draws my eye for a moment each time I look at the piece.

Paint slop aside, this statue still stands beautifully in line with the Cover Girls set , and I remain delighted that this version of Poison ivy was chosen. I really like this line, and have all except the recently released Batgirl, which I just felt was too out of character with the rest of statues. I’m looking forward to the upcoming Hawkgirl and Starfire editions, and will make a decision on Armoured Wonder Woman when I see it in person. Assuming that the paint issues here are an anomaly, I wish the line a long and fruitful life!

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

Also, don’t forget to check out the two contests we have going at the moment: the “That ‘70s Custom” Custom Contest and the second round of our first “Toy Lines!” Caption Contest!

Until next time!

Monday, April 04, 2011

Kitty Makes Bowen Proud!

The next piece up in my string of Bowen Designs Full Size Statue reviews is the Classic Kitty Pryde statue, released earlier this year. Anything Kitty is a lock for me, as she’s up there as one of my favourite characters. I think I was about the same age as Kitty was when I started reading X-Men, so it was a bit like I was seeing those initial stories through her eyes. I’ve always been surprised that Kitty Pryde merchandise isn’t a bit more prevalent, as she’s such a popular character, and was glad to see her getting the FS Bowen treatment.

There was also a Bowen Exclusive Modern version of this statue that sold out very quickly and caused quite a stir by doing so. I’m not clear on why the modern version was the exclusive, especially considering that the Bowen Bust version of Kitty was also the classic first appearance costume, which isn’t exactly her most attractive or iconic look.

I missed out on a chance for the Exclusive Modern Version, but wasn’t too worried about it. The Classic goes quite nicely with a good bulk of my X-Men Statues, and I’m hopeful that we’ll eventually see a release of Kitty in her Excalibur Shadowcat uniform, which to me is her most iconic look and best costume. I much prefer it to the generic gear she’s been wearing for so long now. I’d probably have to draw the line at two Kitty FS statues so leaving room for a Shadowcat version makes sense – as long as Bowen eventually comes to the party!!

As for the statue at hand, it’s a very nicely constructed piece that treads the line between museum and action and will fit in amongst either style.  The sculpt is beautiful, with very nice lines and an elegant pose, and the paint on the entire piece is excellent.

The only place this piece falls down a little bit for me is Kitty’s face. The expression is a bit too blank and her eyes a bit too lifeless. It’s not just the mask, as the Bowen Mini-Bust of Kitty in the same gear has quite a strong facial expression. In comparing it to the Modern version, it may also have to do with the tilt of Classic Kitty’s head. It’s in a bit of a more artistic pose than Modern Kitty, who is looking along the same line as Lockheed is pointed and thus seems a but more purposeful. It’s a small criticism, but it keeps the piece from hitting full marks.

This statue also includes Kitty’s pet dragon, Lockheed, who is posed extended from Kitty’s left arm and adds greatly to the height of the statue. Lockheed is very nicely sculpted and designed. I understand that Lockheed and Kitty are very closely associated, but as someone who isn’t very wild about super-pets, I would like to have had the option of a separate arm so that one could choose whether or not to display Lockheed. Kitty Pryde is, after all, an iconic X-Man and a true heroine in her own right. A spare hand much like the option of displaying Iron Fist with our without his energy fist would have been a very welcome touch.

One thing I really appreciate about this statue is the base. It’s not terrible wide, which makes this a statue that can be fit in around some of the statues with larger bases to maximise display space. It’s not a throw-away base, as there is a small plinth present which allows a clever demonstration of Kitty’s phasing power, but in a way that doesn’t obscure part of the statue from view in the way that having her phase through a solid wall might. This is a clever design!

All up, this is a successful piece that is just missing that tiny spark of life needed to make it perfect. I really do hope for a Shadowcat statue somewhere down the line to make sure that all of the bases have been covered with this important X-Man. I’d even be so bold as to suggest I’d be thrilled with a non-phasing, non-dragon included version! I guess time will tell!

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

Also, don’t forget to check out the two contests we have going at the moment: the “That ‘70s Custom” Custom Contest and the second round of our first “Toy Lines!” Caption Contest!

Until next time!

Sunday, April 03, 2011

He-Man channels his inner Jawa, and other MOTUC joys

If you have a subscription to Mattel’s Masters of the Universe Classics line there are a few extra goodies you can expect throughout the year – most cost but one is “free”. February brought one of each – in fact there was so much MOTUC stuff for February I’m having to split it into two posts!

The 2011 Subscription Figure, Preternia Disguise He-Man came out in February and I’m looking at it tonight, along with the regular sub figure, Bow. The sub is a must for me to avoid getting up in the middle of the Australian morning to avoid quick sell-outs, so I am making the most of enjoying the extras that come along with it!

Preternia Disguise He-Man is, to say the least, an odd looking figure. It kinda looks like a muscled dude dressed up as a Jawa for some sort of Star Wars fetish party. Appearances aside, the MOTUC line is pretty consistent in terms of quality, apart of the ongoing swapped shoulder issues, and this figure is another nice piece. The cloak is well designed and the paint is flawless.

As odd looking as it is, it’s also a nice nod to one of the much-loved aspects of the original He-Man toy line. Without going in to too much detail, this look actually refers back to a plot element from the mini-comic “The Powers of Grayskull – The Legend Begins!”, which from memory came with some of the sixth wave of He-Man figures. It’s a shame that this mini-comic wasn’t reproduced as a special add-in for this figure, because it would have helped the bizarre get-up make sense.

If the He-Man in disguise figure isn’t a thrill for you, then at least he does come with the Cosmic Key, which played an important role in the He-Man movie. This is a fairly flashy accessory, and a nice inclusion seeing as it would have a required a new mold which is unlikely to be re-used. The only niggle with it is that it’s quite large and posing He-Man holding it is a challenge as it tends to tip him over at most angles, as the figure has the very loose ankle joints that seem to plague this line. It is achievable, and worth it as it’s a great piece.

The combination of the figure and accessory is a rather baffling one. The Cosmic Key doesn’t appear in the mini-comic the disguised He-Man originates from, so what they have to do with each other is hard to decipher. It would have made more sense to package the key with it’s creator, Gwildor. Ah, the mysterious wisdom of Mattel….

The regular figure for February, Bow, is a nod to a different subset of MOTUC collectors, and that is the Princess of Power fans. Bow is the PoP line’s only produced male character to this point. The whole She-Ra thing took place well after I’d left the He-Man world behind as a youngster, so this is my first introduction to the character.

This is quite a nice figure – I much prefer the moustachioed head but there is a clean-shaven version if you prefer. The paint on this figure is excellent and the custom elements are all very nicely done. His cape and breastplate apparatus is a little unwieldy – it can come adrift easily and look awkward, however the MOTUC figures hold the weight of a cape nicely so he doesn’t overbalance.

As far as accessories go, the archer’s bow, if you’re prepared to add your own string, is one of the most functional and poseable bows I’ve seen come with an action figure. It’s very nicely done – you can actually string an arrow up in his bow and pose him ready to take a shot. I didn’t discover thus until the photos were done, so no pics of this action, sorry! Still, that’s a very nice piece of design!

He also comes with a swappable chest emblem – a normal round gem or a heart-shaped gem. I’m not sure what the significance of this is, so I’m sticking with the round gem – the heart shaped one is too much “girls toy” for me! Also the included harp. That’s gone into the “unused accessories box” as well.

One thing I really enjoy about the MOTUC line is the little nods given to different aspects of the He-Man legacy, from myths like Wonder Bead He-Man to Robot Chicken to the much loved mini-comics and much-maligned film, and it is good to see the Princess of Power folks getting their due as well. Someone behind the line certainly has a very strong knowledge of the source material, and it’s these little touches that give me the sense that there is strength in this line for a long time to come. If that’s the case, colour me a happy collector!

Next in the MOTUC review stream will be the amazing Shadow Beasts – they’re quite a treat!

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

Also, don’t forget to check out the two contests we have going at the moment: the “That ‘70s Custom” Custom Contest and the second round of our first “Toy Lines!” Caption Contest!

Until next time!

Friday, April 01, 2011

Bowen's Ant-Man is a Giant in Stature and Style!

I mentioned in my post about the Bowen Exclusive Blob Mini-Bust that there is a network of collectors that help international fans collect the Bowen Designs web-exclusive products which are only available to the US. I’ve been taking advantage of this great support system, but only discovered it after the exclusive version of the Bowen Designs Ant-Man Full-Sized Statue, featuring Ant-Man in “shrink” mode (three sizes) had sold out. I decided against crazy eBay prices for the exclusive and went ahead with the standard statue, which I ultimately decided I preferred anyway. Since the statue is meant to be displayed as a part of my Avengers display and the space for it isn’t limitless , there’s actually enough happening visually without having the additional versions of Ant-Man present.

Upon opening and displaying my statue, I was totally satisfied with my decision to stick with the regular release. It’s impressive enough as it is without the extra pieces!

As much as I tend towards completism, I have never added the original Bowen Ant-Man bust to my Avengers bust collection. This isn’t just because the bust is one of the earlier, armless editions, but also because there’s always been something a little off about the head and helmet on that piece, to me at least. The antennae seem a bit too long and there’s a bit too much face visible underneath Bust-sized Ant-Man’s helmet. Thankfully this has all been rectified with the statue version – this is a truly classic Ant-Man sculpt from head to toe. The helmet is just perfect.

The paint is perfect on my statue, although for my tastes I would have liked a slightly lighter shade of red on Ant-Man’s outfit. Red can be a hard colour to show shading on, but I often find the darker reds or washes that are used to create shade make the red look a bit too murky. There is a nice use of different paints in place, with the black feature piece in Ant-man’s costume being painted in a glossy paint to contrast the matte of the blue and red and the metallic of the helmet.

One of my favourite things about this piece is the base. It’s designed to be a US 25 cent piece, also called a quarter, and the detail on it is fantastic. It’s on the bigger side as bases go, to accommodate the smaller figures in the exclusive version, but with a clever design like this I don’t mind the display space consumed.

There has been an ongoing discussion / debate amongst Bowen fans (and Randy himself) about a Wasp Statue, and whether or not it should be a full-sized statue or a smaller piece to best compliment an Avengers display. I’m glad that Ant-Man was made in the full-sized format and am very hopeful for a Wasp in the same mode. A smaller version might be a nice addition or separate piece, but I really wouldn’t be satisfied with this as the only way to have Wasp in the FS Avengers display. Hopefully I’ll be reviewing a FS Wasp (preferably a Buscema or Perez BA version) soon!

You discuss this at the AFB Forum and comment on this post to enter the April AFB Comment of the Month Contest!

Also, don’t forget to check out the two contests we have going at the moment: the “That ‘70s Custom” Custom Contest and the second round of our first “Toy Lines!” Caption Contest!

Until next time!
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