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Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Toys I Liked The Best: AFB looks back at 2011

The year is at an end, and that means it's time for me to look back at the toys and statues I've reviewed this year and choose the best. Far from an industry-wide "best of" list, these are simply my subjective choices of the items I'm happiest to have in my collection from the items I've reviewed during the year that will be nearly over when this post goes live. This blog has always been about my own journey as a collector, and this list is no different - its just my opinion!

With that out of the way, let's get started. I'm going to start with the smallest figures I collect and work my way up!

My favourite 3 3/4" figure from the year was the Marvel Universe Silver Samurai figure. This figure came in one of Habro's Comic Series Two-Packs. While the Wolverine figure it came with was instantly forgettable amongst all of the other MU Wolvie versions, the Slver Samurai was am amazing effort. The level of detail, particularly in the sculpting of all of the elements of Silver Samurai's armor, put this figure a step above my other favourites in this scale, which were the Marvel Universe versions of Taskmaster and Thanos. 

My favourite Male 6" figure from the year was the Marvel Select Magneto figure. I will always take issue with the awkward hip articulation on the male Marvel Select figures, but that wasn't enough to knock this fantastic figure out of first place in my book. Magneto's mask and cape are brilliantly constructed, and his wild eyed facial expression and powerful pose are fabulous. I'm usually not too fussed about the Marvel Select bases, but this crushed remnants of Xavier's School for the Gifted that Magneto stands astride just takes this figure to the top of the pile for me. Just below Magneto, I really enjoyed the DC Direct Brightest Day Deadman (with Boston Brand head), Masters of the Universe Classics Clawful, Batman Legacy Series 1 Joker and DC Universe Classics Bronze Tiger figures. 

My favourite Female 6" Figure of the year won by a mile - The Masters of the Universe Classics Queen Marlena / Captain Glenn figure was a real gem. Granted, Mattel had a bigger budget to work with for this figure as it was a SDCC Exclusive,  but they certainly went all out. It's not just the fact that the set contains the parts to make two completely different figures, it's how The Four Horsemen went about it that makes this figure such a winner. Nothing else in this category made it close to this standard, but I did enjoy the DC Direct Brightest Day Mera and MOTUC Catra figures. 


I can't separate the two top contenders for my favourite PVC / Vinyl Figure, so I'm letting the Kotobukiya Wonder Woman Bishoujo Statue and the DC Direct Ame-Comi Raven Statue share the title. The Ame-Comi line took awhile to win me over with its unique takes on the DC characters, but a piece like Raven shows the line has really hit its stride.  The goth stylings and the incredible detail on Raven's cape make this a clear winner. As for Kotobukiya's Wonder Woman, there's no better example of comic accurate amazement. Koto's Marvel Bishoujo line had a bit of a stumble this year with scale issues, but the sheer beauty of their efforts with Wonder Woman kept the DC Bishoujo line going strong. 

For my choice for my favourite Over-Sized Action Figure or Build-A-FIgure, I have to go back to Marvel Select for their Marvel Select Juggernaut Figure. Marvel Select has excelled at the larger figures in recent times, and while Juggernaut doesn't surpass their brilliant effort with Abomination, it is a brilliant figure. It captures the character very well, and has a great level of articulation for a figure of this size. I like the way that Marvel Select has made an effort to do some team building, and Juggy is a great addition to the Marvel Select X-verse. Another favorite in this character would be the DC Universe Classics Bane figure. 

I also have two items to list for my favourite Bust or Mini-Bust: Bowen Designs' Son of Satan Mini-Bust and DC Direct's Heroes of the DCU Demon Mini-Bust. The Son of Satan bust hardly qualifies as "mini", considering the height given to it by the pyre of translucent flames Daimon Hellstrom rests on and the staff he raises in the air. Walter O'Neal has sculpted a brilliant representation of this classic Defender that contends with most full sized statues. Meanwhile, DC Direct's Demon Mini-Bust makes the list not just to applaud DCD for its character selection, but for the outstanding sculpt of Etrigan the Demon, including his trademark inscription which runs along the base. This was one of my favourite DC Direct releases of the year, and a stunning addition to any collection. 


Hot Toys' amazing effort with their Ghost Rider with Hellcycle easily makes him my favourite 12" Action Figure of the Year. Once I saw this figure previewed, I knew that my resolve not to delve into Hot Toys collecting was about to come to an end. All I can say is that I can't think of a better way to break a vow! The craftsmanship that has gone in to every aspect of this figure and vehicle is amazing, and the light-up features are a giant bonus. Not in the same league, but fun to have, was the Marvel Universe Sentinel figure. 

I'm leaning more and more towards collecting statues these days, so there's a lot of competition for my favourite Statue under 18". Despite the large field, there's a hands down winner here, and that is the Bowen Designs M.O.D.O.K. Statue. This was a Previews Exclusive that was worth chasing down in every regard. You don't need to be a fan of Captain America and Hulk foes to appreciate the effect of this intricately detailed sculpt which displays M.O.D.O.K. in all his gruesomeness. Check out those teeth!  Also at the top of the list in this category would be the DC Direct Cover Girls Harley Quinn Statue, the Kotobukiya Danger Room Colossus Statue and the Bowen Designs Valkyrie Statue

For my choice for my favourite Statue 18" or Over, I have to go with the Sideshow Exclusive Premium Format She-Hulk figure. I have found the Sideshow Premium Format Figures a bit hit and miss, but there's nothing missing in this amazing effort. I love the pose, the choice of costume and the brilliant head sculpt that sums up She-Hulk perfectly. The Exclusive version, which has She-Hulk holding a dislodged parking meter, brings a level of humour which is so appropriate for She-Hulk, and makes this a real winner. Other choices here would be the Sideshow Premium Format Bucky Barnes as Captain America and the Sideshow Nightcrawler Comiquette. 

So, that's my list of highlights from the year, but that's just my take. Please respond with your own in the comments below or at the AFB Forum!

That's also a fitting bookend for another year at AFB. Thanks for another year of support and fun.  

Happy and Prosperous New Year to all - and here's to the year of collecting and reviews to come!

Until next time!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Holidays from AFB!

I've enjoyed a great day with family and friends, but I'd be remiss if I let the day end without wishing in all a very happy holiday, however you celebrate it!

Our hobby is often about the acquisition of new things, but I hope this season also brings you chances to enjoy what you already have - most important of which are the people that surround and love you!

For this year's Christmas image, I thought I'd hand over to the Legion of Superheroes, seeing as they've been the toast of the town toy-wise this year. 

Have a great holiday!

Scott "Andy" Anderson

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Wikicollecting.org interviews AFB!

During the month of December, the crew at Wikicollecting.org are focusing on action figure collecting, and they were kind enough to invite me to answer some interview questions about my obsession / hobby. 






You can check out the full interview here, and can contribute to the action figure database at Wikicollecting over the months to come. It has the potential to be a great resource for collectors for years to come!


http://en.wikicollecting.org/interview-with-scott-andy-anderson-action-figure-blues


Until next time!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Kotobukiya goes on the Warpath - X-Force Style!

The latest Kotobukiya statue release in my review queue is the Kotobukiya Warpath X-Force Statue. Kotobukiya is producing a range of X-Force themed statues, and Warpath is the first of these that I’ve picked up.


James Proudstar has had quite an interesting history, and one that I’ve enjoyed following over the years right from his early appearances as a member of Emma Frost’s Hellions. He could easily be dismissed as Thunderbird’s kid brother, but when he’s written well he is quite an interesting character in his own right.


This is a fine sculpt that really does the character justice. It’s a dynamic pose which suits the X-Force theme. Don’t let the simple colour scheme fool you - there is a very good amount of detail in this sculpt. There are a couple of very impressive touches - first off, the lines between the black and the grey in Warpath’s uniform are sculpted, which is a detail I always like to see. Secondly, a very nice job  has been done with the elements of the sculpt that represent leather such as Warpath’s belt (with knife sheath) and elements of his gloves and boots - it has a different look and texture which very much adds to the overall sense of richness of the statue.


The face on this headsculpt on this piece is one of the most nicely detailed faces I’ve seen on a Kotobukiya statue. Warpath’s teeth are gritted and the detail around the mouth is fantastic. His mask is also nicely done, and the expression and emotion are very clearly communicated by the sculptor - a job well done.


Warpath is shown brandishing his trademark knives, and these weapons are very nicely constructed. The handles are sculpted in to Warpath’s fists, but the blades are separate pieces which come packed flat in the box and have to be inserted. The blades are quite sturdy and not in danger of folding or bending as can happen with swords on knives on statues at times.


I like the angles he’s holding the knives at - the left hand knife is pointing to the ground, while the right hand knife is in a raised position at the back as Warpath prepares to strike. It’s a very dynamic pose.


Kotobukiya can’t always be relied on for the tightest paint apps, but I can’t really fault the work on this statue. All of the lines are great, and the colour choices are excellent. The grey sections of Warpath’s uniform have a slight black wash on them to highlight muscle definition. Everything here is tight paint-wise - and most importantly, the excellent sculpting on the face is well supported by the paint work.


The base for this statue is a rather simple one, which is understandable considering the size of the piece overall. It’s a basic sandstone type design which outlines the shape of the stance Warpath is taking in this pose. The base is quite long but not round, so it will fit on a standard size shelf, although a bit of width is needed to accommodate Warpath’s arms and knives, especially the knife he is extending upwards at the back.


The one potential issue I have with this great piece is scale. Warpath is depicted in the comics as a very large man, larger than his late older brother Thunderbird, that’s for sure, but this statue is truly massive.


I certainly don’t mind Warpath being depicted with bulk, but I’m going to have to wait and see how this statue fits in with other X-Force pieces before I decide for sure that I won’t eventually swap him for an eventual Bowen version.


I do like the way that Kotobukiya has focused on particular themes for its Marvel statues, such as the Danger Room Sessions X-Men pieces and now the X-Force line. It’s nice to be able to collect discrete groups of statues that belong together and released in a short period of time. It would be great to see Koto expand this to themes outside of the X-Verse, as there is so much of the Marvel Universe to cover!


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


Until next time!



Wednesday, December 07, 2011

AFB's Black Friday Winners!

Back in November, AFB turned the whole Black Friday / Cyber Monday thing on its head by offering three lucky folks the chance to win instead of just save!






All you had to do to be in the running was register an account at the AFB Forum and make at least one post before the end of the month. Today I've taken the handy dandy AFB Randomizer to our list of new members and selected these winners:


DCUC Wave 18 Bronze Tiger - "bman25"


MOTUC Captain Glenn & Cringer - "23stitches"


Marvel Universe Classic Avengers Boxed Set - "ethansuplee"


Winners, please PM your shipping addresses to "Andy" at the AFB Forum - and congratulations!!

Monday, December 05, 2011

20% off Hot Toys at Popcultcha.com !

As part of their "12 Days of Christmas" special, AFB Sponsor Popcultcha.com is offering a pretty amazing gift for Day 5 - a minimum of 20% off all Hot Toys products!



This amazing discount includes preorder products, so if you've been on the fence about great items like the Hot Toys Captain America, the 1989 Batman or Joker figures or the giant-sized Hot Toys Iron Monger, today is the day to pull the trigger!



The sale only lasts until 10:00am AEST Tuesday, so check it out now to avoid disappointment. For Australian customers - remember that shipping is free on orders over $100!

Make your Christmas a Hot Toys Christmas thanks to AFB and Popcultcha.com!

Friday, December 02, 2011

AFB Asks Matty for 1 Dec 2011!


It’s time for another round of “Ask Matty” answers at AFB! This month we have questions about DC All Stars, SDCC Exclusive Mix-ups and Voltron (although it doesn’t seem like Matty understood our Voltron question!)

Over to Matty!

-------------

Q: Four figures have been revealed for the first "wave" of DC All Stars. Is this how many figures will be released at one time? How many DC All Stars to you expect to release in a year?  

A: Each mix will be around 4 figures, but some mixes may have more or less.  Be on the lookout for more reveals soon!     

Q: Is there any possibility we might see vehicles or playsets at retail to go with the DC All Stars figures?       

A: This is an awesome idea, but is not a part of the 2012 offering at retail.     

Q: Is the Batman Beyond DC All Star figure a straight re-release of the DCUC Version? Will many of the DC All Stars be re-releases?        

A: Yes, Batman Beyond is making an encore appearance in the DC Universe retail line.  The retail line will not include very many re-releases, so don't interpret the first mix offering as a pattern that will carry throughout the year.  Be on the lookout for more reveals soon!       

Q: Some SDCC attendees never received the exclusive items they preordered before the event. They arrived only to find the items weren't available and then waited months only to be told they were now "sold out". What is Mattel doing to ensure this doesn't happen again?       

A: We will be working very closely with our inventory staff to ensure that problems do not occur again.   

Q: Is the "canon" for the Voltron toy line the new animated series, or could we see items from other Voltron incarnations in Club Lion?

A: As for Club Lion Force, right now we're focusing on the 2012 Club Lion Force items which you have all seen. For any future product, you'll have to wait and see…       


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



You can also check out other Matty Q&As from our friends around the web:

               Action Figure Insider      Critical Mess        It's All True         Pendragon's Post

               Poe Ghostal The Fwoosh Pop Culture Network

Until next time!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

And the "Kirby Your Enthusiasm!" Winners Are......

It started months ago with an idea from our Custom Board co-moderator NiteOwl - to base our next AFB Custom Contest on a Jack Kirby theme. It was an inspired idea - after all, "The King" has left us with no shortage of amazing characters to choose from!


What followed was a great deal of enthusiasm and discussion and lots of hard work which culminated in what we all feel is our best Custom Contest yet - not only did we receive the most entries yet, we also had fantastic participation from the AFB Forum Community in commenting on the entries and voting on the winners. Many thanks to everyone who participated!


Each member who voted assigned 3 points to their favourite custom, 2 points to their second favourite and 1 point to their third choice. While our first place winner ran away with the most votes, we in fact had a tie for second place and our third place winner was only one point behind those two!


You can see all of the fabulous entries here, but without further ado, here are our "Kirby Your Enthusiasm!" Winners!


First Place: Mangog by fishmilkshake



Second Place (tie): Big Barda by FB and Baron Strucker by Andy




Third Place: The Living Totem by NiteOwl



Congratulations to all the winners and thanks to everyone who entered and voted! Stay tuned for an announcement regarding the theme of our first Custom Comp for 2012 shortly!


You can discuss the winners and entries at the AFB Forum, and comment here to enter the December AFB Comment of the Month Contest!


Until next time!


The AFB Comment Contest for December 2011!

First off, thanks to everyone who commented on last month’s blog posts! Congratulations to theotheradamford for being our randomly selected winner! Once we hear from Adam, (you can can PM your choice to "Andy" at the AFB Forum or email me at scott@actionfigureblues.com), his choice of  either the DC Universe Classics Wave 19 Kobra Figure from Mattel or the NYCC Exclusive Deadpool Minimates set from Art Asylum will be on the way when available from Mike’s Comics N’ Stuff.


Now to October’s Contest: on offer are two great prizes, either the Age of X Minimates Boxed Set from Art Asylum or the Marvel Universe Wave 17 Psylocke Action Figureeither 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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