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Thursday, September 29, 2011

DC Direct's Ame-Comi line continues to impress!

DC Direct continues to release new characters in its Ame-Comi PVC Statue line, and tonight I’m looking at two of my latest acquisitions, Mera and Raven. The Ame-Comi is becoming a very long-running line, and in many ways the quality of these pieces has gotten better as the line has progressed.

Being a major Aquaman fan. I was delighted to see Mera announced in this line, and I’m delighted with the execution. This is a very whimsical design but there is a great deal of detail behind the fun. Mera is is regal dress with a mermaid style tail, although her legs are visible underneath it.

Her costume is beautifully detailed with the green sections covered with individually sculpted scales. Beyond that, she has a crown, neck piece and wand which are also quite detailed - although the neck piece is perhaps a bit long, making Mera’s neck a bit longer than normal.

There is some clever engineering in this piece, as Mera’s feet are elevated from the ground by the “tail” of her costume, which connects to the base. The coloured fins at the end of the tail are a separate piece which fits on once the rest of the base is assembled. The elevation makes Mera a bit taller than most of the Ame-Comi set.

Another thing I like about Mera is that she can displayed with her base on an angle or facing lengthways, which means that the piece can displayed between other pieces without taking up too much space, which is a concern in the Ame-Comi due to the very large bases the early figures came with.

While I am predisposed to love The Queen of the Seas due to my slight Aquaman fixation, I have to say that Raven is not just the pick of this bunch, but most likely the entire series. The level of detail that has gone into this figure is incredibly striking.

Raven has been designed in a goth style. This goes beyond her pale skin and Morticia Addams-esque eyes to an intricately designed cape that is the making of the piece. It has a gorgeous shape and is painted blue on the outside and black on the inside. The black side has a striking pattern sculpted through it which includes eyes and angry faces - suitably creepy for the daughter of Trigon!

The detail on the rest of the figure is not to be ignored. Raven’s gloves, boots and belt are all very detailed with belts, buckles and gems. Like the Mera figure, Raven has a level of detail that would show up a less than stellar paint job. Thankfully, the paint on both of these pieces are top notch. I really couldn’t be more impressed.

This series just continues to grow on me. I really like the way that each character in the Ame-Comi series gets its own treatment within the spirit of anime styling, which means that designers can take the characters in quite different directions like Duela Dent’s steampunk, Mera’s disco diva look and Raven’s goth appearance.

I also like the way that DC Direct is prepated to go beyond the “A” list with its character selection in lines like this. I do wish they would be as adventurous with their male characters in other lines - there are so many DC heroes we’ve yet to see in statue or collectable form.

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

Until next time!


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

AFB speeds into the Hot Toys world on a Hellcycle - Ghost Rider style!

If you’re a regular reader of Action Figure Blues, you’ll now that I am always ready to try a new line of toys, and often break my “rules” of things I don’t collect. I started off as an action figure only collector, then moved into statues - mini-busts first, thank you - before falling down the slippery Sideshow slopes of Premium Format Figures and Comiquettes - yes, that sobbing you hear is probably Andy’s wallet!

One collecting “slippery slope” I stayed away from as long as possible was Hot Toys. Their 12” figures are incredibly impressive, but not cheap, and I kept myself from crossing that particular line for as long as I could. The moment I saw the Hot Toys Ghost Rider with Hellcycle, which premiered at 2010’s San Diego Comic Con, I knew I was doomed. My fate was sealed when I found this for a great price (including free shipping) at the website of AFB Sponsor Popcultcha!

One that that has helped me stay away from Hot Toys for this long is that I’m not big on movie versions of characters, particularly at the Hot Toys price point, but if you set aside the Nicholas Cage head (which I’m ignoring in this review) this is a comic accurate figure. The addition of the amazing Hellcycle and light up features on both the figure and the giant accessory make this a real delight.

This is the first Hot Toys figure I’ve seen in person, so while I have appreciated the detail via the interwebs, this was my first chance to appreciate the craftsmanship up close, and craftsmanship it is. The Ghost Rider headsculpt is a thing of beauty. It is a mix of materials, with the flames encircling his skull made of a translucent material. His skull features a hinged jaw, allowing him to be posed with a closed or open mouth. The translucent flames support the figure’s light up feature, allowing the “flames” to glow rather brightly when the feature is switched on.

One thing that is a bit awkward about Ghost Rider’s light up feature is that you essentially have to remove the head to switch it on or off. This figure comes with a “flaming” neck wrap for Ghost Rider mode and the switch is underneath it. It makes it a tad too fiddly for my liking. I’ll persist, however, because the effect is very cool. I love the way the “flames” glow through his eyes as well as around his head.

The detail on Ghost Rider’s leather outfit is simply stunning, from the stitching to the functioning belt to the real and working zips. There is an excellent integration of metal into these pieces, with a range of studs on the shoulders and forearms of Ghost Rider’s gloves. These are well attached and sturdy, so there are no concerns about them popping off through normal wear and posing.

The figure itself has the fantastic articulation you would expect from a Hot Toys 1:6 Scale figure. The leather outfit only slightly constrains Ghost Rider’s movement. He can easily be placed in a number of poses, including sitting easily on his Hellcycle. He comes with a second set of hands which means that he can either grasp his rifle or chain, or hold on to Hellcycle handlebars. Both the hands and head are easy to swap, not that I’ll be doing any head swapping!

The Hellcycle is a truly impressive construction. The detail on this is just unbelievable. This isn’t just a 1:6 scale motorcycle - it has amazing chrome detail throughout, and is highly articulated in its own right. I am truly blown away by what Hot Toys has accomplished with this piece.

The only small issue I’ve had with my Hellcycle is that on one side, the footrest and kickstand seem to have been inserted into reversed positions, making it a bit challenging to balance the Hellcycle. It’s not impossible by any means, and I may not even be correct about there being an error, but it seems a bit awkward. As I said, it doesn’t actually stop the cycle from standing or functioning in any way.

The light-up features on the Hellcycle are very easy to activate via a switch on the cycle’s undercarriage, and that’s a very good thing, because they’re fantastic. Light-up stuff is often quite tame in person, but these lights are actually quite bright and make a real impact. There is a fiery glow in both wheels and the top of the steering column, which shines through translucent flames on the wheels and smaller flames on the steering column that create a look like fiery eyes at the front of the bike. Most light-up features don’t get much use past the unpacking stage in my collection, but the lights on the Hellcycle are ones I keep coming back to, and I expect I will for quite some time.

So, thus ends the tale of how I ticked one more collection milestone off my list and started down the Hot Toys slippery slope. You can look out for reviews of a few subsequent purchases shortly, and I *may* have a few more on pre-order as well. I have to say that if I had to lose my Hot Toys cherry, this really was a very enjoyable piece to do it with!

I really need Sideshow to come up with a few new high-end lines that I can not collect just to feel like I still have some boundaries....

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


If you're in Australia, please do have a look at our sponsor Popcultcha for great deals (including free shipping on purchases over $99) on items from Hot Toys, Sideshow and more!

Until next time!



Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Mattel cancels Club Ecto-1 for 2012

Bad news for Ghostbusters fans: Mattel has announced at Mattycollector.com that Club Ecto-1 will not go ahead for 2012:




"Ghostbusters™ Fans,
You know how much love the Matty team has for Ghostbusters, and although we were ready to support a subscription in 2012, sales were lower than we expected. We regret to announce that we have to cancel the 2012 Club Ecto-1 subscription. All 2012 orders will be promptly refunded. If you purchased a 2012 subscription, you should see the refund in your account within 5-7 business days of your refund being processed, depending on your bank. All 2011 subscriptions will continue to ship as scheduled.
Like you, we're disappointed that the subscription will be going away for 2012, but to show our appreciation for you fans who stepped up and bought a 2012 subscription, we're working on a "thank you" just for you. Stay tuned as we'll have something special coming for you in appreciation for your support.
Please know that the Ghostbusters line isn't over! To do right by all Ghostbusters fans, we're still moving forward with the previously announced figures for 2012 (Ready to Believe You Peter with Taxi Cab Ghost, The Rookie, Dana as Zuul) and a fourth figure in the fall, to be announced. These figures will be available at our regular monthly sales. Like our other lines, costs have risen since the brand was launched and the price of the 6" figures will increase to $22 each.
Now on to brighter news. In celebration of the boo bustin' boys' favorite time of the year, we're going to re-release some of your favorite figures during a special Ghostbusters Halloween sale. The sale will run from 10/17 through 10/31, and it's the perfect time to fill in any missing characters in your collection and stock up on favorites. But wait… yes, there's more! Not only will we have a great selection of characters, the October 17 sale will also bring the long-awaited Ghost Trap prop, plus the return of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man!
Again, on behalf of the team, thanks for being a loyal fan. Long live the Ghostbusters!
—Matty"



Does this impact on you? Have something to say? Comment on this post to enter the AFB September Comment of the Month Contest!


Until next time!

Monday, September 19, 2011

NonCanonical Episode 75 is live!

I mentioned last month that I would be attending the live recording of the 75th episode of the NonCanonical Podcast, which was held last Saturday night at my local comic shop, All Star Comics in Melbourne. I was very privileged to be a guest on the night and to be able to donate a prize on behalf of Action Figure Blues.


It was a great night, with a big crowd packing out All Star Comics and owners Mitch and Troy making excellent hosts. NonCanonical's Joe, Josh, Kane and Larry were all in fine form. It was quite surreal to watch something I'm used to just listening to, and yet on another level it wasn't that different from a normal episode. It had all the usual whackiness and free-flowing conversation we've come to expect from a great NonCanonical Episode!


The podcast is now up on the web and can be downloaded here. Alternatively, you can search "NonCanonical" at iTunes to download Episode 75 or any other earlier episodes, and subscribe for future eps. I've had a listen and it has come together brilliantly!


If you'd like to check out a great set of pics from the night, Gestalt Comics' Bobby.N has a great post up at his blog.


Congratulations to the team from NonCanonical, and here's to another 75 great episodes!


Monday, September 12, 2011

Bowen goes to the depths of Asgard to bring us Hela!

I’ve mentioned before that the great folks at Statue Marvels regularly do Non-US collectors a huge service by helping us get a hold of exclusives from the Bowen Designs website, which sells to the US only. The most recent piece I’ve received with their help is the Bowen Exclusive Hela Mini-Bust, which was released earlier this year.

Hela is another great addition to the Bowen Asgardian ranks, with the Warriors Three, The Enchantress and Beta Ray Bill all coming in one form or another in the last year or so and new Museum and Action Thor Statues on the way. It’s a good time to be a Thor fan and a Bowen fan!

The first thing to say about the Asgardian Goddess of Death is that there’s not much “mini” about this bust. Thanks to her expansive headdress, Hela is more definitely a “wide load” bust - be prepared for a larger than average box and a bust that will need plenty of display room! The headdress is beautifully sculpted, and while I wouldn’t want to test the materials with harsh treatment, they do have a bit of give so the “branches” of Hela’s ornate headpiece are unlikely to be snapped off by a slight bump.

This is another Mike Cusanelli sculpt. Cusanelli has worked on several Bowen ladies of late, and once again has done a very solid job. Hela’s costume has appeared in many, many forms, and while this isn’t the classic light green and black gear, it also isn’t one of her more revealing modern costumes. This is more of an armoured look, and the detail on this piece is stunning, with the ridges of Hela’s costume clearly defined.

Paint work on this bust is flawless. The colour choices are pitch perfect, with the greens complimenting each other very nicely. The thin ridges on Hela’s costume could create an issue for a lesser paint job, but this is beautiful work. The metallic edge to the paint really lifts the entire piece to another level.

I
’ve had cause a few time to rag on Cusanelli for his posing, and I do have to make a little comment here. I find many of his arm and hand poses lacking in energy, and there is an element of this here as well. I’m not sure if it’s the angle of the arms or the position of the hands, but the pose doesn’t end up looking as powerful it should. It’s a minor complaint, and a giant step up from the rather awful Firestar bust, but still something I’m disappointed to see recurring.

The second small issue is the base of this piece. In an unusual move for Bowen busts, Hela comes with a fairly low base, and then a disc of the same size to stand it on for more height if desired. In terms of where I would like to place Hela in my Asgard bust display, she still comes up a bit short with this extra height, but seems likely that a taller base would have made a piece so wide unstable, so a lower base with options for height is a nice touch.

I’m sure we have the Thor movie to thank for this recent run of fantastic Asgardian characters from Bowen. Whatever the cause, I’m very grateful! Now we really just need the previewed but not yet solicited Sif bust to complete the cast!

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

Until next time!



Monday, September 05, 2011

AFB am so unhappy with DC Direct's Superman vs Bizarro Ultimate Showdown!*

I don’t know what it is about Bizarro that makes him a must-buy character for me. It probably is his Silver Age roots, supported by his more recent appearances in some of Jim Starlin’s DC work. Whatever nastiness modern age writers have instilled in him at times, there’s something inherently goofy about Bizarro that gives him an appeal to me, and that’s what hooked me in to my purchase of the DC Direct Ultimate Showdown Superman vs. Bizarro Statues.

Tim Bruckner has a long history with DC Direct, and of late has been sculpting specific lines such as the fabulous DC Dynamics Series as opposed to one-off pieces. The Ultimate Showdown Series is his latest effort, and it’s quite a different concept. Each statue sits on a rotating disc within its own hexagonal base, allowing the collector to display the pieces at a range of angles. Further, each statue has an articulated neck for extra posing options.

Bruckner’s Superman is a very classic version of our favourite Kryptonian, and I’m not just talking about the now-extinct red trunks - the headsculpt is very Silver Age, and the whole piece looks like it could have sprung right off the pages of a vintage comic. He is the taller figure of the two, perfect for being posed as the eventual victor of whatever battle you design. The pose is quite dynamic, with Superman in the air looking ready to land or defend a punch from his mixed-up foe.


It’s a beautiful statue, but I have two reservations. The first is just a niggle: his left hand, which is outstretched, looks a little bit oversized, like it would fully cover his head. It might just be the angle, but it does look a bit odd to me. The second is his facial expression - for something called “Ultimate Showdown”, Superman doesn’t look particularly showdown-y - I would have loved a more focused or even angry expression. Like I said, it’s a really good looking piece, but perhaps lacks the “oomph” needed for this set. You could never fault Bruckner’s sculpting, but the expression needed more in this reviewer’s humble opinion.

Bizarro is an interesting contrast to the very classic looking Superman, as he’s depicted here in his more Modern Age “zombified” incarnation - not my favourite of Bizzy’s “looks”. The modern, hulking Bizarro strays too far away from the original idea of a “reverse Superman” of sorts for me. I realise that his Silver Age look would be far too cartoonish for today’s comics, but I don’t quite get the leap to zombie. My Bizarro two cents on that one.

Whatever you think of the way Bizarro is depicted in this day and age, Bruckner has executed the look very well.  Brucker has really gone for the bizarre in this sculpt, and the pose itself is rather unusual, creating a cumbersome and unwieldy sort of look which suits Bizarro to a tee.
The headsculpt is suitably garish, and I especially like the that his cape and uniform aren’t just rippped and tattered versions of Superman’s uniform, but have a different texture as well. It’s intricate stuff and beautifully detailed, especially for the scale.

The rotating bases and articulated necks are a great idea, but there are limitations to their usefulness. There is only a limited range in either direction whereby the necks can be rotated and look natural, and only a limited range of angles the statues can be placed at where they appear to be relating to each other. It’s a great concept, but it doesn’t end up being quite as flexible as I had expected it to be.

The bases themselves are interesting. As well as the rotating features, there are several pieces adorning the base, including Starro spores. I’m not totally clear on their purpose, but they definitely add to the overall picture.

One thing to note is that these are not large pieces - Superman comes in at 8.5” while Bizarro is shorter. These are along the line of a Batman Black & White statue or a DC Universe Online piece rather than the larger DCD “Vs” statues such as Batgirl vs. Catwoman, etc. This isn’t a drawback for me since display space is at a premium at my place, but it is something be aware of for the prospective buyer.

All up, this adds nicely to my Bizarro collection, but I’m not enamored enough with the piece to buy other sets in the line - unless Aquaman makes an appearance of course, which means I’m probably safe from any more purchases.

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

Until next time!


* The title of this post is Bizarro speak - I'm quite happy with it, really!



Friday, September 02, 2011

Club Infinite Earths Lives - and so does Metron!

Fangirl 2.0 has made the much anticipated announcement on the future of Club Infinite Earths, the DC Universe Classics Subscription Program, at Matty's Facebook Page:


Hi DC Universe Club Infinite Earths fans!

We have some good news...the 2012 DC Universe Club Infinite Earths subscription program is moving forward!  As you know, we did not hit the number of subscribers we were seeking for the club, but we know that there are some very passionate DC Universe fans, so we found a way to make the program work.

Current subscribers will get 6" and oversized figures according to the schedule that was originally communicated at San Diego Comic Con and online.  All figures that have been revealed will be part of the subscription program. 

In order to make the program work, we needed to raise prices for day-of sales.  So if you are NOT a subscriber, you will be paying more for the figures on the day of the sale.  The good news for subscribers is that you are locked in at the subscription rates previously advertised. 

And the even better news is that we are exploring re-opening the subscription program for a limited window of time.  We've heard fans online posting that they wish that they had subscribed, so now you'll get that chance.  Be on the lookout for more details and dates next week.

We still have more good news, we are excited to reveal the winning club exclusive figure...Metron!  So all of the subscribers will get their very own Metron, along with his Mobius Chair!

All of this good news will hopefully mean a fabulous start to the weekend for all of the DC Universe fans!

-FanGirl 2.0  :)"

I am surprised by how excited I am by this news. Having Metron and the Mobius Chair confirmed is a dream come true for Kirby and New Gods fans, and I am really expecting the Four Horsemen to knock the Mobius Chair out of the park!

As stated above, the subscription is going to be re-opened for order for a short period of time, so if you're late to the party there is going to be another chance!

What a great start to the day!

Thursday, September 01, 2011

"Kirby Your Enthusiasm!": The new AFB Custom Contest!

Pretty much straight after the success of our "That '70s Custom!" Custom Contest, there was discussion about what we'd do next. It was our Custom Board Co-Moderator NiteOwl who came up with the idea for our new challenge, and it's launching here tonight!

Over to NiteOwl to tell us all about it:

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If Jack "King" Kirby was still alive today, he would've been 94 years young!

His contribution and influence to comic culture is without peer. He is responsible for such household names such as Captain America, The Incredible Hulk and The Mighty Thor.

He is also responsible for giving life to such creations as the Fantastic Four, X-Men, Silver Surfer, Black Panther, Dr. Doom and his great opus, The New Gods.

These are but a few of the "King's" creations. 

Here at The AFB Forum, we would like to take some time and celebrate his career with a custom comp entitled:

"Kirby Your  Enthusiasm"

The Rules

1. Due to the scope and character selection available the competition is going to open ANY scale in action figure form.
2. Any amount of sculpting or "frankensteining" is allowed and definitely encouraged.
3. Entries MUST be a new Custom, anything previously created is not eligible for this challenge.
4.The competition is opened to ANY creation or co-creation that Jack Kirby is credited with including animation!

Due Date

The competition is kicking off on the 1st of Sept and will run for 10 weeks.

Three photos are to be supplied: front, side and rear. A W.I.P. (work in progress) photograph would be cool as well.

Completed Photos with any write-ups or reference pics are to be sent by PM to Andy through the AFB Forum. No larger than 800x600 please. The due date is Nov 10th. All pictures will be posted on Nov 18th in a locked thread for you all to admire. A separate Thread will be started for comments.

We encourage all Members to have a go! This is a challenge for fun and there will be a vote by all members on the best figure, but no prizes are offered - just the prestige of having the most popular figure as voted by your fellow Members.

Here are some useful links to help you choose your character:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Characters_created_by_Jack_Kirby
http://www.marvunapp.com/list/appkirby.htm


Get thinking, and have fun!

NiteOwl

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Needless to say we're incredibly excited about this contest and are hoping it will be our biggest yet! We're already discussing the contest here at the AFB Forum so feel free to join in.


And of course, don't forget that you can comment on this post to enter the AFB September Comment of the Month Contest!

Until next time!

AFB Asks Matty for September 1 2011!

Another month has come and gone, and that means another round of “Ask Matty” answers at AFB! This month we cover the order of release of the WWE Fan Choice figures, the DCUC Legion Boxed Set release date, MOTUC price limits and what “no more waves” of DCUC at retail really means.

Over to Matty!

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Q:  Will the WWE Legends figures who win the fan choice be released according to most votes first? And are we guaranteed to see the five winners or could low sales see some of them unreleased?

A: Great question.  The 2012 MattyCollector.com Legends are not being released in order of most votes first.  In creating the schedule, we had to look at which figures were feasible to pull off in a short amount of time (like DDP) vs. which figures will take a while to design (like Miss Elizabeth).  We also wanted to make sure Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard were released one after the other since they are best known as a tag team.  And like any figure line, we can only continue Legends if the fans support it.
 
Q:      Can you please explain what "no more waves" for DCUC (or whatever it becomes) means exactly? How will future figures appear at retail?

A: Instead of appearing in waves, figures will simply be in mixes.  This means that you’ll see a few figures on shelf at a time, but not an entire wave of figures, united by a theme or a collect-and-connect figure.
 
Q: The MOTUC Star Sisters set will cost $60 and is part of the subscription for 2012. For those who would like to try and budget for the expense of the subs is there a price ceiling for items that are included in the subscriptions?

A: Granamyr will be $80.00 which is why we did not include him in the sub.
 
Q: We are looking forward to the Legion of Superheroes DCUC Boxed Set! Are there are other larger selections of characters like this in the pipeline?

A: We loved creating the Legion of Superheroes pack!  If large packs with a collection of characters make sense in the future, it’s definitely something that we’d explore again.  In the interim, be sure to visit Mattycollector.com on October 17 to pick up your Legion of Superheroes pack!

Q: Could you explain the reason that you prefer subscriptions over a pre-order system for individual products?

A: It helps us control inventory and reduce logistical errors.

Want to give your own answers? You discuss this at the AFB Forum, and you can comment on this post to enter theSeptember AFB Comment of the Month Contest!

You can also add your thoughts to our future Matty Q&As either here or at the forum - please join in!

Until next time!


The AFB Comment of the Month Contest for September 2011!

First off, thanks to everyone who commented on last month’s blog posts! Congratulations to Mario! for being our randomly selected winner! Once we hear from Mario, (you can can PM your choice to "Andy" at the AFB Forum or email me at scott@actionfigureblues.com), his choice of  either the Arkham Asylum Series 2 Poison Ivy figure or the Brightest Day Series 3 Jade figure, both from DC Direct, will be on the way when available from Mike’s Comics N’ Stuff.

Now to September’s Contest: on offer are two great prizes, either the Batman Legacy Catman Figure from Mattel or your choice of one two pack of the X-Men First Class Minimates, from Art Asylum -  either of which would be a great prize!

A few bits and pieces:
  • every genuine comment on a post from the calendar month will be eligible to receive 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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