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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Marvel Universe Wave 17 Review and Pics

Hasbro's Marvel Universe line shows no sign of losing steam, with new characters still being introduced to the line each wave. Tonight I'm reviewing Marvel Universe Wave 17, which is another great addition to Hasbro's 3 3/4" Marvel offerings.




Psylocke is brand new to the line and is a standout figure in the wave. I have been very impressed with some of the quality female head sculpts Hasbro has been able to achieve at this scale, and this is one of the best we've seen. Her hair is very nicely sculpted and there is a pleasing amount of detail in her face with complimentary paint apps.



Psylocke comes with two accessories - a power blast and her psychic blade, and a named display base - something that seems to be going away in the line and which I will miss a great deal.

The Classic Storm figure has previously been seen in the Giant Size X-Men Box Set, but this is her first appearance as a single figure, and my first chance to have a close look at the figure since I'm keeping my GSXM Set in the box.

Most of the elements of this figure are excellent. The headsculpt is great and is supported by great paint work. The paint work falls down, however, when it gets to her uniform. A blue wash has been used with the black base of her gear and the results aren't totally successful. Her bust has ended up mostly blue in contrast to her body suit, and the look isn't the best.



Thankfully, Storm's great headsculpt takes one's eye away from this, and she also comes with two lightning blast constructs - a type of accessory that Marvel Universe has excelled in. Whereas I'm never inclined to spend much time fussing with extra weapons, I love the power blast accessories and will always try to use them.

Patriot is a bit of a surprise inclusion, and I hope it means that Hasbro intends to get to the rest of the Young Avengers in time. This is a clever use of parts from several existing figures that ends up feeling brand new with different paint and a tad of custom sculpting.

Once again, paint is excellent on this piece. The rivet buttons that border his tunic aren't quite sculpted on straight which is a tad distracting. He comes with his shield which is also painted well.




I tend to stay away from Marvel Universe repeat characters unless the are significant variants, and there are two in this wave that qualify - they are both simple repaints but each brings us an important alternate version of a key Marvel character.

The first of these is a black-suited Daredevil. Hasbro has certainly managed to get some good mileage out of Matt Murdoch, but this is the first version of Daredevil in quite some time to make the grade for my purchase. I was keen to have this version of the character, but also to have him on a larger and better buck compared to his earlier appearances in the line.

One thing that continually escapes me about Daredevil action figures is why he always seems to come with numchucks and rarely with his signature billy club. It's such a unique weapon, and seeing as Hasbro likes to have a Daredevil in every third wave, they could certainly get their mileage out of it!



The second repaint is Iron Fist in his white costume. Hasbro has made the most of Iron Fist as well in the line, but like black gear Daredevil this is a very valid variant, and in some ways I think this could be my favourite MU Iron Fist to date!

Iron Fist gets a grey wash over his white gear which is much more successful than Storm's wash. He comes with an energy accessory. His chest emblem really stands out on the white background - very effective stuff.




Apart from the issues with Storm I mentioned above, the paint apps are solid across this wave. This is always a hit and miss undertaking with the Marvel Universe figures - it seems this wave got a "good factory". A good wave to luck out on this as there are a number of characters with lines and designs in costumes that really could have been spoiled by bad paint work.

At present, I don't have a display space for this scale of action figure, but I'm still keenly collecting this line simply because of the breadth and depth of characters being covered. As long as new characters keep appearing in the line, I'm going to keep buying!

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

Until next time!



Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The AFB Podcast Episode 11: Bowen Spinning Hammer Thor / More for More




Episode ELEVEN of the AFB Podcast is live at iTunes and is now available for direct downloadDownload and subscribe to the podcast at iTunes now! 



Join Ben, Scott and Justin from the AFB Forum for Episode Eleven of the Action Figure Blues Podcast! The AFB Podcast is a weekly look at action figures, statues and other collectibles from the worlds of comic books and popculture.



Episode Eleven includes our Toy of the Week Feature on the Bowen Designs Classic Action "Spinning Hammer" Thor Statue and our Discussion Topic is “Would you pay More for More?".



If you can't use iTunes, you can download Episode Eleven here now! Click on the link to listen, or right click to save the file! The podcast will always be available from the “Podcast” tab here - but if you can subscribe and give us positive ratings at iTunes, that will help us greatly!


Have a listen, and please give us some feedback at podcast@actionfigureblues.com - we might even read out your feedback on the next show!



Happy listening!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Captain Action Deluxe Action Figure and Spider-Man Costume Set Reviews

Tonight I'm starting off the first of my reviews of the latest look at Captain Action. This review will cover the Captain Action Deluxe Action Figure and the Captain Action Deluxe Spider-Man Costume Set.





I have to start off this review by saying that I don't have a personal nostalgia for Captain Action. His original heyday was before my time, and the previous attempt at reviving this line was before my collecting years. If not for the impressive photos of the Marvel Costume sets attached to this particular revival of the line, I most likely wouldn't have given this a second look. All I can say is, I'm glad I did!

This is the third time around for 12" Captain Action toys. The first line was produced by Ideal starting in 1966 and ended up covering a wide range of characters from a number of properties before ceasing production. The line was revived in 1998 by the now -defunct Playing Mantis.  This incarnation lasted only two years but delivered some great revisits and never-before done characters like sidekicks Kato and Kabai Singh.

This new revisit is by Captain Action Enterprises and Round 2, and once you do your research on the original toys, you can see clearly that the creators of these toys have a great love for the property and it's history. They've brought a great deal of passion to these new toys and have been promoting them with gusto.





To fully appreciate these items, you need to have a sound understanding of the history of Captain Action and the original offerings from the line, and of what Captain Action is all about. Most of the criticisms I've read about these modern products can be answered by looking in to the vintage line and its products.

The idea behind Captain Action's costume sets is that Captain Action is a master of disguise and takes on these different roles. This is where the costume sets come from - this isn't simply a 12" cloth costume Spider-man, it's Captain Action AS Spider-man, and has to be looked at as such.

This answers the main complaints I've heard about these new sets - firstly that  the costume sets do not come with an actual figure, and secondly that the character heads are masks instead of a swappable head. While having to buy extra Captain Action figures to display your costume sets is somewhat of a drawback, this line is ultimately about Captain Action himself - having him under the mask is an essential part of spirit of the line.

As I said, I don't have a personal history with Captain Action, so I'm firmly in this for the Marvel Characters. Still, I'll start with the good Captain himself, since as I said this is really all about him!

To me, Captain Action seems to be all about that late 1960s sci-fi hokeyness, and the producers of this new line have made a very sensible decision to embody this spirit rather than attempting to modernize the character.





While this is a loving and faithful recreation of the original toy, some sensible updates have been made. The biggest and best change is to the Captain Action head sculpt. The original Captain Action had a rather odd head, both in shape and facial expression, and this new version has been given a much needed update.

The Captain's outfit is very well constructed, and includes a removable cap and boots on top of his bodysuit. The workmanship on all of these pieces is excellent, and the bodysuit is easy to remove and put back on when the need for a costume change arises.

Captain Action comes with several accessories, the main items being very faithful recreations of his original gear. He has his sword and ray gun and each comes with a holster which fits on his belt. His belt is a bit of a challenge to keep together - it come unsnapped and the snap is so small that I had quite a time getting it reconnected.

The first Captain Action Costume set I'm reviewing is Captain Action as Spider-Man.





The packaging of these sets is so outstanding that I really felt it was a shame to open them. The boxes are colourful and the pieces are arranged beautifully. Thankfully this has all been designed so that you can put your sets together, and while it will take up more space to store them his way, I definitely plan to keep the boxes as they just look fantastic.

The Deluxe set comes with a swag of options and accessories. There is a regular Spider-man mask and a Peter Parker mask, two options for arms (which come in the form of hands with long gloves that you replace Captain Action's hand with) and a great set of boots. There are spiderweb shooters and a belt if you want a classic version of Spidey, or you can leave those in the box to keep your Spider-man modern as I have done here. There are other bits and pieces such as a camera and a copy of the Daily Bugle which, with my well publicised apathy to accessories, aren't my cup of tea, don't necessarily get me buzzing but are sure to excite accessories enthusiasts.

Once again, the fabric costume is very nicely constructed and fits on to the figure rather easily. The costume seems durable and the colours used are fabulous. The little spiderwebs that make up Spidey’s “wings” are a nice touch. The plastic pieces are very high quality and seem designed to last the test of time.





The Spider-Man mask is a challenge to put on, but worth persisting with as the result is great. The end result is a very slightly over-sized head, but when you keep in mind that you're disguising Captain Action as Spider-man the concerns go away for me.

The main issue I had with Spidey's assembly was keeping his arms attached. The gloves and hands replace Captain Actions hands and are meant to lock in, but I found challenging to get the right arm to click together. I did manage to accomplish this with persistence and would expect it to be easier to do on future attempts.There are two choices for Spidey’s hands, including one set in web-shooting mode.

The figure has a very good range of movement and is easy to pose in a number of different arrangements. I’m not always very successful at getting poses to work, and I found this figure very easy to work with and pose, which is especially important for a character like Spider-Man.



 

All up, I feel that all of my excitement as I anticipated the relaunch of this line has been worth it. The more I look at these pieces and assemble the different options, the more I love them. If Round 2 can reach someone like me who isn’t really into this type of figure, I can only imagine how Captain Action enthusiasts are responding to these loving, faithful updates.

The Marvel Costumes come with a “build a costume” theme - pieces for a Hawkeye costume which I can’t wait to assemble. I’m definitely in for this first set! We know that Loki and Thor sets are coming up and that Loki will fit on Captain Action's nemesis, Dr Evil, who is also on the way. No word yet on whether or not Captain Action's kid sidekick, Action Boy, will be making an appearance.

In my next review for this series, I’ll be covering the Captain America Deluxe Costume set - and I think we’re in for another treat!


These are apparently going to appear at Toys R Us in Australia, but no sign as yet. I got mine from AFB Sponsor Big Bad Toy Store, and they still have both sets in stock - worth checking out!

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!




Saturday, April 21, 2012

Pre-Order Hot Toys' The Avengers Captain America

The latest Hot Toy from the Avengers film is up for pre-order, and it's a great new version of Captain America with an impressive Chris Evans swap-out head:

Click here to pre-order through Sideshow Toys now and support AFB at the same time!







Attention Captain America and Avengers fanatics, Hot Toys just released their first look at the upcoming Captain America Sixth Scale figure, available for pre-order now! Even better, it's just in time for "Marvel's The Avengers," in theaters and IMAX 3D May 4!

Check out Cap in his modernized Avengers gear, which really makes this action figure come to life. Standing a little over one-foot tall, features of the Super Soldier figure include:

- One newly developed helmeted head (hand-painted)
- One newly developed alternate head with authentic likeness of Chris Evans as Captain America (hand-painted)
- Muscular body with more than 30 points of articulation
- Movie-accurate facial features with detailed wrinkles and skin texture
- One pair of palms holding shield
- One pair of palms for throwing
- One right palm for pointing
- One pair of relaxed palms
- One pair of fists
- One blue, grayish-white, and red garmet with embossed pattern as well as stars on chest
- One pair of blue pants
- One blue belt with pouches
- One pair of red boots
- One metal-like electroplated shield
- One metal-like battle damaged eletroplated shield
- One alien weapon
- Figure stand with Captain America nameplate and the movie logo

SPONSOR NEWS: Just arrived at Popcultcha.com!

Our friends at Popcultcha.com have just advised of some latest arrivals at their web store. Free shipping for orders $100 and over within Australia! All prices in AUD.


Just Arrived
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Bowen Designs Polaris Full Size Statue Review

Bowen Designs' fantastic output of Marvel Statues shows no sign of letting up. After delivering a fairly comprehensive range of Classic X-men in mini-bust form, Bowen has turned their attention to  delivering Full Size Statues of characters like tonight's offering: the Bowen Designs Polaris Full Size Statue.




Most of my collecting is about team or universe building, and while Polaris probably falls into the category of a character that I “need” for the purpose of completing a character group as opposed to a character that I want, there are a number of aspects about this piece that make it a very welcome addition to my statue collection as a piece in its own right.

Sculptor Mike Cusanelli has been working on a number of Bowen females lately, and this is another of his efforts. While his posing generally leaves me cold due to the lack of energy and power in the forms he creates, the detail on this statue is very nice to look at. The laces on her boots and natural creases in her body suit are very nicely done and show that Cusanelli definitely has skill.




The colour choices made for the greens on this statue are stunning. I always enjoy the judicious use of metallic paint on statues, and it has been used to great effect here.  I love the effect - which is very nicely contrasted by the lighter green matte paint used for Polaris’ hair.

The Internet is a brilliant tool for stirring up worry over nothing, and this piece was the subject of some panic postings about the angle the statue stands at. To me it seems this is an issue of how the statue is inserted into the base. While it is built on a taller and thinner base than many recent offerings, I took a moment to make sure I was placing Polaris at the correct place on the base, and the end result is that mine doesn't lean awkwardly at all.





I'm not sure if Bowen takes displays into account when deciding base size and height, but to me this statue's height is a very nice touch - as I mentioned she's a bit higher than many recent X-Men Full Size Statues, and this helps her fit well into a display of like characters. Whether it's by design or coincidence, this is a nice touch.I can see an argument that it might have been nice to have Polaris on the same level as Havok    

The issue I'd raise with this piece is pretty minor. It’s the color of Polaris' lips - the choice made was pink, as opposed to the green lipstick she's often depicted with, and the result is that it makes her face a tad washed out amongst the brightness of her hair and costume.





While this statue is unlikely to come up in any “best of” lists at the end of the year, it’s a more than serviceable effort which does more than just fill the gap of a much-wanted character. The great green metallic work and the slightly elevated height are both nice touches that give this a couple of steps above the average.

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!



Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The AFB Podcast Episode 10: Rapid Fire Reviews / Classic vs. Modern



Episode Ten of the AFB Podcast is live at iTunes and is now available for direct downloadDownload and subscribe to the podcast at iTunes now! 



Join Scott, Ben and Andy from the AFB Forum for Episode Ten of the Action Figure Blues Podcast! The AFB Podcast is a weekly look at action figures, statues and other collectibles from the worlds of comic books and popculture.



Episode Ten includes our Rapid Fire Reviews on the Sideshow Captain Rex 12" Star Wars Figure, the DC Direct Big Barda Ame-Comi PVC Figure and the Gears of War Anya Figure.


Our Discussion Topic is “Classic v. Modern".



If you can't use iTunes, you can download Episode Ten here now! Click on the link to listen, or right click to save the file! The podcast will always be available from the “Podcast” tab here - but if you can subscribe and give us postive ratings at iTunes, that will help us greatly!


Have a listen, and please give us some feedback at podcast@actionfigureblues.com - we might even read out your feedback on the next show!



Happy listening!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

AFB Asks Matty for 15 April 2012!


It's time for another round of questions and "answers" from Mattel as AFB Asks Matty!





Q: Does Mattel own Digital River?
A: No, they are a vendor.

Q: What's the thinking behind using a fictional character ("Matty") to communicate issues like delays and acknowledgements of QC issues? Doesn't anyone at Mattel actually want to put their name to these announcements?
A: It allows us to have one voice for news regardless of whom is working at Mattel at any given time.

Q: How do you think that the delays and ongoing customer service issues with Digital River will impact on subscription sales for 2013?
A: We hope all of these issues will be resolved very quickly now that we have a new US based customer service team.

Q: Will we see any further waves of the Batman Legacy line?
A: At this point, there are no plans. We are relaunching 6” at mass retail in 2013 and we’ll let you know more closer to the date.

Q: Will we see any further fan polls to determine future WWE figures?
A: We would like to do more polls in the future but don’t have any to announce just yet.

That's all for this round. You can discuss this or add questions for future rounds at the AFB Forum, or comment here to enter the April Comment of the Month Contest!



Until next time!


Thursday, April 12, 2012

DC DIRECT RE-LAUNCHES AS DC COLLECTIBLES, EXPANDS ONLINE OFFERINGS


DC Comics has issued a press release today regarding changes to DC Direct and DC's online collectible offerings. The press release is followed by AFB's thoughts below"

DC Collectibles Logo"BURBANK, CA, April 11, 2012 – DC Entertainment announced today that its collectibles product line, previously known as DC Direct, has been re-launched with a new brand – DC Collectibles. Additionally, in early May 2012 DC Collectibles will expand its online store (www.DCComics.com/Collectibles) to offer its entire product line for sale on the web, in addition to the line’s primary availability in comic book retail locations. For those fans who prefer to purchase a product in-store, the website will also provide information on the closest retail location that carries a particular DC Collectibles product.

Flashpoint Set
“We’ve taken the past year or so to become laser focused on what makes the products in this line special, and what has emerged from that process is DC Collectibles,” stated Geoff Johns, chief creative officer for DC Entertainment. “We’re extremely proud of our line of unique, high-end collectibles, and feel that it caters to fans looking for limited edition, authentic products based on our characters and stories, created by the same artists who work directly on those characters and stories.”

As part of DC Collectibles online sales expansion, two “online exclusive” products will be offered in May and a new line of custom prints will be available for sale only on the web. The first online exclusive is a Flashpoint Action Figure Box Set including: Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash and a previously unreleased Emperor Aquaman. The set also include a $500 Wayne Casino Poker Chip.  The second online exclusive is a Heroes of the DC Universe: Blackest Night Green Lantern and Sinestro Bust.  The new online prints will represent different graphical and artistic themes, branching out beyond comic book artwork. Twenty different designs will be available for sale, all printed on thick, archival paper that is perfect for framing.

Blackest Night Sinestro Bust“Not all of our fans have access to comic book retail locations, so by expanding our website to offer the entire product line, we’re adding an element of convenience and the ability for fans to collect every single product they’re interested in,” stated Hank Kanalz, senior vice president of digital, DC Entertainment.

For fans attending C2E2 in Chicago this weekend (April 13-15) Geoff Johns will moderate a DC Collectibles panel that will showcase the new website and brand logo, and offer an exclusive sneak peak of never announced DC Collectibles products coming later in 2012. The panel is on Friday, April 13 at 2:30pm CT."

AFB says: This is obviously interesting news. It's great to see that DC is committed to continuing to produce action figures and statues, but what remains to be seen is how expansive those lines will be - will they continue to cover the full range of DC Comics characters from across the years, or be DCnU all day, all the time?

Naturally, this "international" collector will also be interested to see if the DC Collectibles site ships outside of the U.S.

I'm going to call this a promising development simply because it means that DC is still producing these lines - and reserve judgement for much later on.

Also - I'm going to try to find out from someone at DC if that's the actual Aquaman coming in the Flashpoint set, since that's clearly the Brightest Day Arthur and not Emperor Aquaman. 

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







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