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Sep. 1st, 2011

Duncan - Dragon Age: Origins

I think I’ve played Dragon Age: Origins through at least a couple dozen times if not more, still haven’t earned all the achievements yet, but that’s mainly due to laziness on my part. One constant in the game is that no matter which origin story you choose be it a human noble betrayed by a family friend, a Dalish elf tainted by an ancient magic, a mage trying to help a friend, a dwarf betrayed by your younger brother, or the other two, you always meet Duncan.

Duncan is the head of the Grey Wardens, an ancient order pledged to stop the Darkspawn from destroying all of Thedas, for the country of Fereldan. He recruits your player character into the order during the origin of your character and it is through you that you meet King Cailin, his advisor Loghain, and another Warden by name of Alistair. Duncan, unfortunately, does not play a role in a bulk of the game after those meetings.

I got into playing Dragon Age: Origins late and before I knew what “downloadable content” was. That aside, Duncan really struck me as a character. You could tell there was a history to this man and not all of it was filled with rainbows and butterflies. When I learned there were to be action figures made from this game, I was elated. Sadly, I couldn’t find them anywhere and online prices were not reasonable. I turned to my local comic book store and they were able to order them for me. When they arrived, Duncan was not among them. I kept looking online and a few months later found myself in a city south of mine and in a comic book store. There he was, oh happy day! I bought him, brought him home, opened him up, placed his accessories in his hands, and his right hand broke clean off. Again, I was Warden-less.

Recently, Entertainment Earth had a sale and Duncan was one of the items for sale. He arrived not too long ago and I’ve had no problems since. Thank the Maker! He is an excellent specimen of DC Direct product. As with the other Dragon Age: Origins figures, Duncan is based off of the artwork done for the game so he doesn’t exactly match his on-screen appearance. That aside, he is remarkably rich in detail. His head is sculpted with a look of determination, for his mission is dire. His beard is well-kempt and his hair tied into a ponytail that dances just below the base of his neck. I don’t know the exact term for them, but the lines and swirls in his armor are amazing. His kama, I believe that’s the right word for it, is equally well executed with two belts and a pouch strapped to his outer right thigh. There are regal swooshes, for lack of a better word, that wrap around from the front to the back, where the kama is slit to allow him to move his legs freely (were this made out of fabric and not vinyl). Duncan has ball-hinge joints at the neck, shoulders, elbows, and knees and swivel joints at the wrists, waist, and hips. Unfortunately, due to the design, anything below the waist is rendered moot since the kama restricts movement considerably.

Duncan comes with two accessories. The first is his long sword, though in the game he was seen using two blades, one sword and one dagger. From hilt to tip it stands about 2/3 Duncan’s height and is molded in light gray plastic with black paint washed over the hilt and handle to give it an aged, worn look. He also comes with the Joining Chalice, which is part of the ritual your character takes part in to become a Grey Warden. If you have the Return to Ostagar DLC, you find it and can give it as a gift to Alistair. The chalice is molded in a silvery plastic with a wash over it to make it look ancient. It is lines on the outside with two rings of pictographs. If they tell a story, I don’t know what it is, but it gives the piece a nice look. Both the sword and chalice have pegs that can plug into the insides of Duncan’s hands so he can hold them better. I caution you with this. I was attempting to secure the chalice into his right hand when the hand snapped off. DC Direct figures are not known for their durability as they’re not really designed as toys first. Just be careful is all I’m saying.

I’m glad I have a non-broken Duncan. It’s been far too long and overdue and also completes my Dragon Age: Origins collection since it doesn’t seem like they’ll be making any more figures. That’s a shame because there are a lot of great characters from that game and its sequels that would look great in plastic.

Aug. 26th, 2011

Atom - Real Steel

In the future, mankind enjoys boxing, but not as we know the sport today. Instead of human beings pounding into each other, 2,000 lbs. robots now duke it out in the ring. This is the world of Real Steel and the hero bot from the movie, Atom, is the subject of this review. I haven’t seen the film yet, so if I get any details incorrect, please forgive me.

“He's a sparring bot, built to take a lot of hits but never dishing out a lot of real punishment.” - Charlie Kenton

Atom stands at about 5 inches tall, which means he’s in scale with most 3-3/4 inch action figures if the trailer for the film is any indication. He’s molded in a metallic gray plastic with a black wash over it, giving Atom a weathered, battered look. Atom has a number of dents and scrapes molded into his torso and upper legs. His eyes are painted a light blue and his name is emblazoned in red on his left peck with an atom illustration between the A and the T. Pressing down on his head activates a green light that shines through a good deal of his torso and parts of his back. His other gimmick is his modular construction that allows you to remove his arms, hands, and legs and swap them with the limbs of other figures in the line. Unfortunately, they’re not Glyos compatible. As for articulation, Atom has an overabundance. He has ball-hinges at the shoulders and hips, hinges at the elbows and knees, swivel joints just below the hips, and ball-sockets at the ankles. While his head does wiggle a bit, there is no joint there due to the nature of the light-up gimmick in his chest.

Having picked up Atom as a curiosity, I’m pleased with my purchase. The quality of the figure is on par with other action figure lines and he’s a cool boxing robot. Robots are cool.

Aug. 25th, 2011

Thundershred - Causality

One sub-group of Decepticons that has yet to receive official updated toys is the Insecticons.  Shrapnel, Bombshell, and Kickback may be missing from the official line up, but third-party toy manufacturer Fansproject stepped in to fill the gap, unofficially that is, with their Causality line. The first to be released is Thundershred, who bears some resemblance to Shrapnel.

“A wounded outer space warrior, Thundershred was recovered and converted into his current form by the powerful Skycrow. Learning the ancient art of Ninjutsu and the philosophy of Godai, he has harnessed his power of control over the element ‘Sky.’ Using his refined skills and weaponry, Thundershred has vowed to seek revenge on all who have wronged him.” – Taken from the Fansproject web site.

Thundershred is about the size of a deluxe class Transformers toy and is comprised of black, purple, gray, and yellow plastic with matching paint applications throughout. He’s bulkier than his Insecticon counterpart and while the head sculpt may not resemble Shrapnel’s; it is a nice look that suits the toy well. He has a black helmet with a vent down the center, red optics, and a silver mouth plate with a black chin. He bears the Sky insignia on his yellow torso plate in lieu of a Decepticon emblem, because he’s not a Decepticon you see.

As for articulation, Thundershred is the bee’s knees. He has ball-sockets at the neck, shoulders, elbows, hips, and feet. There are hinges at the shoulders, elbows, knees, and ankles. Finally, he has swivel joints at the wrists, waist, and hips. Thundershred comes with a unique weapon system made from the beetle horns of his insect mode. They are comprised of purple base units that attach via a dual-3mm-clip with four two-section blades. He can store them on either side of his head to give him a more Insecticon-like look. Each apparatus can also attach to his forearms for use as melee weapons.  In addition, the blades can be removed and attached to a round, handled devise to form a gigantic shuriken that he can hold in either hand or store on his back.

Thundershred’s transformation into his insect mode is quite involved and with the tightness of his joints can be a bit of a chore. Thankfully, the instructions are full-color photographs of the toy which helps a lot and, for me at any rate, left little room for doubt I was doing any given step correctly. His alternate mode is a stag beetle that looks a lot like an updated version of Shrapnel’s beetle mode, which is the intended effect I know. While each leg is a solid piece they all are based with ball-sockets to enable you to pose him slightly. The large mandibles can be positioned via the dual 3mm-clips that hold them in place.

If you’re looking for an upgrade for Shrapnel to fit into your Transformers Classics/Universe/Generations collection, then Thundershred is the toy for you. Don’t worry, Fansproject will soon have the other two available so Thundershred won’t be alone.

Aug. 24th, 2011

Junkion 2 - Reprolabels

For many years, Reprolabels.com has supplied Transformers fans with replacement stickers for the many toys out there with missing or deteriorated decorations.  With the release of many updated characters, sometimes the tampos and paint applications aren’t quite enough, So Reprolabels has branched out to provide modern toys with stickers to make said toys better match their original versions. Sometimes, they even go the extra step as is the case with their Junkion stickers.

In the original Transformers cartoon, there was a tribe of Autobots known as the Junkions. There were many different robots that all turned into motorcycles and could swap out their parts when needed with the junk of their homeworld or their fallen comrades. With the release of a new Wreck-Gar in the Reveal the Shield line, the folks at Reprolabels saw the opportunity to give fans a way to make two distinct Junkions. As I only own two Wreck-Gar toys and wanted to use their Wreck-Gar set, I opted to apply the Junkion 2 stickers to my spare.

In motorcycle mode, Junkion 2 gets stickers to cover the black flames with beige sections that have black wrenches down the center. Additional stickers replace the headlight, add swooshes to the sides of the headlight, chrome for the gas cap, rear-view mirrors, axe blades, and wheel brakes, and vent details to the sides. Autobot symbols are included for the front fender and just in front of the seat and small beige triangles on the sides behind the seat. Finally, a red taillight and license plate that reads “chump” in cursive complete the look.

Junkion 2’s robot mode is where the set really shines. He gets a replacement headlight above his face and a new set of eyes and cheeks. Instead of the separate optics, this Junkion has re goggles with a reflection line down the left side. It gives him a really cool look. There are several beige stickers that get applied to his arms and he gets matching wrench decals for his chest. A large frayed Autobot symbol goes on his back which matches the one in motorcycle mode you can see on his right leg. Additional stickers go on his codpiece and left leg. A neat feature of the license plate decal is that it still says “chump” even though it’s upside down in robot mode.

If you’ve got a spare Wreck-Gar around (or two), you owe it to yourself to get this set of stickers from Reprolabels.com. The quality is excellent and even if you hate stickers like I do you'll have a blast creating an all new character. Tell them I sent you and they’ll sell them to you anyway.

Roadbuster (Robo Fighters) - Transformers Dark of the Moon

The Robo Power Robo Fighters sub-line from Transformers Dark of the Moon puzzles me. They’re non-transforming, limited-articulated, action figures that aren’t terribly accurate. Despite that, I found myself drawn towards Roadbuster.

“Roadbuster, to put it mildly, has a serious dislike for Decepticons. He is well armed and always willing to take on the biggest and baddest bots that Megatron sends his way!” – Taken from the figure’s packaging.

Like the other Robo Fighters, Roadbuster is about six inches tall. He’s molded in gray, green, and gold with green, light-blue, and black paint applications on various parts of his figure. He’s articulated with swivel joints at the neck and shoulders and ball-socket joints at the hips. Each limb is posed with a bend at the half-way point (elbows and knees, natch), so even with the limited articulation, he doesn’t pose well.  His right forearm has a triple blaster and his left has a chainsaw and shield. There is a fair amount of detailing throughout the figure, but he still looks bland with not enough paint applied to bring out those details.  Pushing down on the section where his Autobot symbol is activates his weapons mode. The missile launchers, pop-up cannons according to the packaging, on his shoulder swing up, the front car sections rotate up and the gold turbine slides forward.

What Roadbuster may lack in detail, articulation, and paint, he makes up for in sturdiness. This is a toy that can take a licking and keep on ticking, which is likely its intended purpose,

Aug. 22nd, 2011

Breaking the Chain

I won't be posting a review today for a number of reasons. I had a massive bout of insomnia and am now dealing with sleep deprivation. While I did go to a wedding for a dear friend this afternoon, it took all my effort to be able to share her day with her. So, I will resume my review-a-day tomorrow.

Aug. 21st, 2011

Vortex - Transformers Dark of the Moon

The Combaticons are favorites amongst many fans of the Transformers, but except for their original and second generation toys, they’ve never received a proper upgrade as a team. Vortex is the second member to receive a new toy, without the ability to merge with others, that is as yet a Japan exclusive and makes use of one of the best helicopter Transformers molds to date.

“Vortex is the aerial soldier of Decepticon. As he has ruthless and brutal nature, his ultimate pleasure is to chop up the Autobot he captures.” – Taken from the figure’s packaging, spelling and grammatical errors intact.

Using the Tomahawk mold, modified for use with Mechtech accessories, from the Hunt for the Decepticons line, Vortex is a strike helicopter with design elements borrowed from the Eurocopter Tiger and the ADH-02 Hellhound from the Patlabor anime.  His primary color is a medium gray with black rotors, tail fin, and undercarriage, purple intakes and tail rotor, and blue-green missiles and undercarriage sections. The canopy’s windows are a clear, dark purple, befitting a Decepticon warrior. Vortex also sports three Decepticon emblems; one on each side of his tail and the other above the left intake. Under the cockpit and each wing are holes that can accommodate his Mechtech cannon that can convert into a glue machine gun, a reference to the original character’s weapon of choice. The cannon is modified from Roadbuster’s and replaces the chain saw sections with another cannon barrel. So, when deployed, you end up with a longer gun, so it loses some of its flair.

In robot mode, Vortex’ color scheme is pretty darn close to that of his original toy. His torso and forearms are mainly medium gray with blue-green for his upper arms/shoulders and feet and black for his legs. He had red paint applications throughout his torso and arms and gray on his legs. Like Tomahawk, the tailfin closes together to form a blade that sits on his right forearm. He has a different head than Tomahawk, which only slightly resembles the original character. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a really cool head and is done up to complement the character for the movie-verse. It’s just that the original head was more a series of blocks stacked on top of each other, so just about anything is an improvement. Vortex is well articulated with ball-socket joints at the neck, shoulders, and hips and hinges at the elbows, knees, and ankles. His neck also rests on a hinge due to his transform which gives him a wider range of movement.  He can hold his glue gun in either hand or under either wing.

Vortex joins Onslaught, but without updated versions of Brawl, Swindle, and Blast Off it feels a little lacking. He’s a good, solid toy, though, modifying an already great toy to bring back a classic character.

Aug. 20th, 2011

Air Raid (Tomy) - Transformers Dark of the Moon

Every once in a while a Transformers toy is just the right amount of fun and unique that it gets used a few times, but without great fanfare. Tomy’s Air Raid from the Dark of the Moon line is just such a toy.

“Airlaid is one of the most skilful aerial soldiers among Autobots. He prefers to fly into the middle of the enemy rather than shoot-out from a distance. His technique for firefighting breaks enemy lines and finds a way out for victory.” – Taken from the figure’s packaging, spelling errors and all.

Air Raid uses a modified Thrust mold, which was modified from Breakaway, both of which were from the Revenge of the Fallen toy line. Like his predecessors, Air Raid is based off of the F-35 Lightning II and is primarily light gray with red at the tips of the wings and tailfins and no less than three Autobot symbols; one on each wing and another above the right intake. This is due to the fact that in robot mode, the ones on the wings are not visible from the front. His nosecone is made of a red, rubbery plastic to ensure children don’t hurt themselves too badly when they stick Air Raid in their eyes.  He has retractable landing gear under the nose cone and two wheels on what are his shins underneath. He has three ports to accommodate Mechtech weapons; one under each wing and the other behind the cockpit. Air Raid comes with a modified version of Topspin’s Mechtech weapon that replaces the claws with gun barrel halves to form a shot cannon.

In his robot mode, Air Raid’s color scheme adds black to the gray and red mix. His upper arms, lower torso, inner thighs, and feet are all black. While the red from the wings is no longer visible, the color is still represented in the shoulders, elbows, and lower legs. His Mech Alive gimmicks, left over from the previous release, are the visible gears in his upper arms that rotate when his lower arms are turned and a rotating Gatling gun on his right arm that is activated by a gear-wheel in his right forearm. He has 18 points of articulation, though his rotating waist joint is hindered by the way his tailfin assembly locks into place on his back and his head can be difficult to turn and doesn’t have the greatest range of motion.  Air Raid’s Mechtech blaster can attach to his right forearm or either wing, but the latter will but a damper on his arms’ range of motion.

Oddly enough, I didn’t much care for Breakaway and Thrust didn’t do much for me either, but I really like Air Raid. I like the unique transformation for a jet-mode character and the fact that it’s actually fun to transform and fiddle with makes it a good toy.

Aug. 19th, 2011

Autobot Ratchet (Scan Series) - Transformers Dark of the Moon

Sometimes it takes a few tries for a toy mold to really shine. The Toys R Us exclusive Scan Series Ratchet is just such a toy. That’s not to say the previous versions were bad toys. It’s just this version stands out, both amongst his mold brothers and the rest of the Scan Series line.

“If possible, Autobot Ratchet prefers to scan an alternate mode that will assist him in his duties as a medic. Anything that can move local traffic out of his way and possibly provide new tools to use in repairing fallen Autobots will serve. Heavy armor and a powerful engine are just an added bonus.” – Taken from the figure’s packaging.

Like the other Scan Series toys, Ratchet is molded primarily in clear plastic. He looks absolutely stunning in robot mode, almost ghost-like in appearance. The web gear, blaster, tires, and front grill area of his vehicle mode are still completely black and his shoulder joints and lower legs are gray, but everything else is clear and what isn’t clear is painted over. I especially love the clear green plastic used on his arms. It brings the look together for me and when backlit, Ratchet really shines. His doors are well-painted too with the scan process ending in the lower corners, giving them a very cool faded look. The only downside to him is that he feels a lot more fragile due to the nature of the clear plastic. Also, for those keeping track, his blaster fits perfectly well into its notch on his right arm which makes this mold two for three in that regard, my original Ratchet being the odd bot out.

Due to the somewhat brittle feel to him, I did have a little trouble transforming Ratchet out of fear something might break. Otherwise, there were no issues and the transform went as smoothly as his predecessors.  Ratchet is still a Hummer, though not accurate to the version the character actually scanned in the live-action films. The front is painted up nicely to look like it normally would with a white scan line angling from the back of the roof to the middle of the bottom of the doors. Additional blue scan lines run perpendicular to the white one and the vehicle fades from green to blue to clear. As with the previous releases, his blaster can attach to his roof.

If you get only one Scan Series Transformers toy, it really should be Ratchet. He looks the best and unlike his wave mate Bumblebee, isn’t over-exposed.  Plus, it’s Ghost Ratchet. Ghost Ratchet!!!

Aug. 18th, 2011

Bee 01 & Bee 02 - iGear

Over the past few years, third party companies have come out with a number of toys to augment Transformers toys or serve as updated versions. While none are officially sanctioned, their popularity has steadily grown. Among the more controversial companies is iGear for a number of reasons, among them their Bee line of toys.

Bee 01 & Bee 02 as they’re officially known is a remold of the Legends class Bumblebee toy from the 25th Anniversary/Universe line. Instead of a non-specific vehicle mode, Bee has a Volkswagen Bug alternate form. Bee is available in yellow, red, and blue to represent the original Bumblebee toy that was released in yellow and blue colors. The blue represents the keychain mold used for a Botcon exclusive toy named Glyph. The VW mode is very well done with silver paint for the front and rear bumpers and headlights and light blue for the windows, all the windows.  The wheels are molded in black, completing the look.  They don’t come with Autobot symbols. The ones in the pictures came from Reprolabels, a fine group of folks making replacement and augmentation stickers Transformers and more.

The transformation of the Bee toys is identical to the Hasbro Bumblebee. You pull the front of the car forward to reveal the legs and feet. Pull the sides out and fold the back of the car down. Swing the arms down and you’re done. Near as I can tell, the head sculpt on both Bee toys is identical to Hasbro’s Bumblebee. Both look happy, with a face sculpted like the original character looked in the cartoon. Additional paint applications in robot mode are blue for the eyes, silver for the face, and black for the interior of the arms. Black plastic is used for his waist and legs. Like Bumblebee, Bee is articulated at the shoulders which rotate and pivot and his hips have ball-sockets.

iGear’s Bee is a nice homage to Bumblebee and Glyph and worth picking up if you like your Autobot spies in their original forms, so to speak.

Aug. 17th, 2011

Bumblebee (Scan Series) - Transformers Dark of the Moon

It’s Bumblebee! The fourth domestic release of the mold that debuted in the Revenge of the Fallen, Scan Series Bumblebee is a Toys R Us exclusive. Is it worth picking up? Read on.

"The first priority whenever Bumblebee scans a new vehicle mode is the ability to fit in. As a scout and spy, it's vital that he be able to pass unnoticed by Decepticon troops. Of course, there's no rule that says fitting in can't go hand in hand with looking good." - Taken from the figure's packaging.

Bumblebee is a Chevrolet Camaro concept car based on the 2007 mold but with a remolded front bumper and rear fender. He’s molded in clear plastic but painted as though being scanned for a new alternate mode.  The front of the car is painted in typical yellow and black flair. It fades to no paint at all just past the white scan line with accompanying blue scan lines. It’s a really nice look despite the mold being two years old.

Transformation into robot mode is frustrating with the way you have to get the front car parts just right so they will form the upper torso. Despite my experience with the previous releases, I felt like Bumblebee was going to break in several instances. I’m not sure if that’s due to mold degradation, the clear plastic used, or operator error. The end result is a decently articulated robot with an almost invisible look, from the waist down at least. His neck pivots and it on a ball-socket. His shoulders are ball-sockets with hinges for his elbows and a swivel joint for his cannon and left wrist. More ball-sockets can be found at the torso and hips with hinges at the knees and ankles.  Bumblebee has his unmasked face and painted very well with an Autobot symbol on his forehead to the pupils in his eyes. The upper torso looks about the same as usual with only the doors and roof panels on his forearms being partially clear.  His legs are almost completely clear except for his thighs and sections of his lower legs and feet. His right arm is a missile firing blaster with a clear orange projectile.

In the end, Scan Series Bumblebee is a nice toy, but there’s nothing new in terms of construction. Unless you stayed away from the previous releases or are a Bumblebee completest you can save your money.

Aug. 16th, 2011

Optimus Prime (Kreon) - Kre-O Transformers

As a promotional item given out at Botcon and San Diego Comic-Con, Hasbro gave away an Optimus Prime Kreon, packaged in an impossible-to-open-without-destroying-it box. Hasbro also made it available via a mail-away promotion for free.

“I am Optimus Prime. I do not care for the hijinks of the other Kreon robots. It is our responsibility to ensure that all brick-made beings are able to live in freedom. I do not have time for pranks.

Likes: Sending Bumblebee on missions so I can get some work done instead of worrying about whose bricks he'll rearrange next.

Big Plan: To defeat the Decepticons and retire somewhere an idling truck will be accepted.

Protoform Pet: I once had a cyberdog named Magnus. He was great.”
– Taken from Hasbro’s web site.

Kreons are Hasbro’s answer to Lego’s mini-figures. Optimus Prime here is made up of 10 pieces and comes with a scaled-down version of his signature laser rifle and a black brick to display him on. His chest is decorated as though his chest were open to reveal the Matrix of Leadership, or the Creation Matrix if you prefer, within. He’s articulated with swivel joints at the neck, waist, and wrists and ball-socket joints at the shoulders and hips, making him able to get into more poses than any of his counterparts from Lego. His helmet doesn’t come down all the way, so his eyes aren’t completely visible.  His smokestacks and wheels are removable as well as his helmet, so you can pretend the un-accessorized figure is Orion Pax, though I can’t explain the Matrix in his chest.

Some of the large Optimus Prime sets were reported to have included this version of the Kreon instead of the closed-chest version. So, chances are if you missed the various promotional ways to get this figure, you can still find it in the wild, though it will cost you. It’s worth having if you like Kreons. He’s cute and well worth what I paid.

Aug. 15th, 2011

Chief Charlie Burns and his Rescue Cutter - Transformers Rescue Bots

Pairing up with Optimus Prime can be a dangerous thing, but Chief Charlie Burns doesn’t mind. He and Prime will save the day no matter what comes their way.

“Anything can get done when Transformers Rescue Bots and their friends team up! Help fight fires, floods and crime, or anything in between – the Rescue Bots love adventure and rescue!” – Taken from the figure’s packaging.

Chief Charlie Burns is, presumably, the leader of the humans who have teamed up with the Transformers Rescue Bots. He’s about two inches tall and wears an outfit that mimics Optimus Prime’s color scheme. His jumpsuit is a light blue that he wears a red vest over. The vest has a silver zipper down the front that matches his kneepads.  His gloves and boots are black and his belt yellow.  Charlie wears a light blue cap with a red Autobot symbol on it and he also has black-rimmed goggles that have blue lenses. Charlie is well articulated and has more points of articulation than Optimus Prime, whom has none.  He has swivel joints at the neck, wrists, and hips (which do not move independently of each other), and ball-hinge joints at the shoulders.

Chief Burns comes with his Rescue Cutter, a small, treaded vehicle with a large shear in the front. The treads are black, the base blue, and the cutter red.  The standing plate and hinge are gray with silver for the controls and panels on the side of the shear. An Autobot symbol is on the front, just past the control rods.  Charlie pegs into the base and can easily grasp the controls with both hands. The Rescue Cutter rolls along well on four small wheels underneath.  It also transforms into a handheld weapon for Optimus Prime, or any Autobot, by swinging the cutter portion down and forward. A black handle reveals itself underneath, allowing Optimus to grasp it in either hand.

Chief Burns and his Cutter are great compliments to Rescue Bots Optimus Prime. If you have Prime, you owe it to yourself to pick this set up.

Aug. 14th, 2011

Optimus Prime - Transformers Rescue Bots

In order to branch out to a younger demographic with their Transformers brand, Hasbro released Rescue Bots where heroic Autobots team up with humans to face everyday situations. They’re kid friendly and mother approved. Among the initial wave of Autobots is their leader, Optimus Prime.

“Anything can get done when Transformers Rescue Bots and their friends team up! Help fight fires, floods and crime, or anything in between – the Rescue Bots love adventure and rescue!” – Taken from the figure’s packaging.

Standing a little taller than most deluxe class Transformers, Optimus Prime is a simplified version of his iconic, original toy. His arms and torso; complete with silver grill, white stripes (not the band), and dark blue windows, are red. His upper legs are silver to match his smokestacks and grill, his lower legs light blue which match his helmet and hands, and his tires black with silver hubcaps.  His head is similar to the original with the antennae on either side, the silver face and yellow eyes. The mouth plate this time around had a third section in front, so it no longer comes to a point.  His truck lights are painted silver with the lights themselves yellow. Due to the simplicity of the design and the ease of his transform, Optimus has no articulation, though he can nod his head and get on his tip-toes if you want to fiddle with him.

Optimus’ transform is a simple one in keeping with the younger demographic this toy is designed for. Straighten his feet and tuck his head down while rotating his legs back. Finally, close his arms in and you have yourself a truck cab. In keeping with the theme, this is a simpler version of his original transform mode.  All the colors are where they need to be; the red, white, blue, and silver. He rolls well on all six wheels and with the exception of the robot fists peeking out from the front and the Autobot symbol in between the front windows, it’s a perfect disguise.  According to the packaging, Optimus Prime teams up with Chief Charlie Burns and his Rescue Cutter, which I’ll review at a later date.

If you’re looking for a good entry into the world of Transformers Rescue Bot, Optimus Prime is your toy of choice. He hits all the right buttons; fun to play with, homage, and super cute. Go out and get yourself one today. Your kid, or you, will be glad you did.

Aug. 13th, 2011

Metanoid - Redakai

In the animated series Redakai, Metanoid is allegedly the default “monster” that Ky turns into when challenged to do battle. While I’ve only seen a couple episodes, I stand by my alleged remark as he/she/it doesn’t appear in either the first two episodes except in the opening animation.

“When Ky brings Metanoid to the battle, Lokar's forces know they are in for a fight. Metanoid can generate and control plasma, to blast evil with the power of the sun!” – Taken from the figure’s packaging.

Despite his apparent lack of air time, Metanoid is a pretty cool action figure. He’s molded in black and silver plastic with matching paint applications to even things out.  There are additional light blue paint apps used for his giant eyes and the interior of his mouth. This is one built robot… err… monster. The Popeye-like forearms and barrel chest really evoke a feeling of great strength.  Metanoid is articulated with a ball-socket joint at his neck and ball-hinges at the shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees.

Metanoid comes with a clear, dark blue plastic hypnotic eye that plugs into the hole in his chest.  Pressing his belt buckle activates a light that illuminates the center of the eye. As he is also a physical representation of a card from the Redakai game, he also comes with a 3D battle card.  His card is the Plasma Sword and it’s a lenticular card that features a yellow and red flaming sword with what looks like a skull near the hilt.  It has a red attack stat of 250 and gives your attacks +200 power during the turn it’s played. You can plug the card into the back of Metanoid and project an alternate version of the sword. Other cards work as well in the same fashion.

If you’re thinking of picking up just one figure from the Redakai series, let it be Metanoid. He’s a cool looking robot, sorry, monster, with gimmicks that don’t get in the way of the execution of the toy.


Aug. 12th, 2011

Thunder Crusader Thor - Thor: The Mighty Avenger

Most retailers over-ordered the first wave of Thor: The Mighty Avenger action figures, so later assortments have been nigh-impossible to find. One of those figures is one of the better incarnations of Thor; Thunder Crusader Thor.

“Thor is the son of Odin and the mighty protector of Asgard. He is one of the Nine Realm's most skilled warriors. He carries a powerful hammer that has the ability to control elements of a storm, from wind and rain to lightning and thunder!” – Taken from the figure’s packaging.

Thunder Crusader Thor is molded to reflect the Norse god in his armored outfit. His torso and legs are molded in black with metallic blue and silver paint applications on his chest to bring out the detail in his armor plating. His knee guards are gray, held on with red straps.  His arms are molded in light gray with silver paint accentuating his chainmail.  He also has metallic blue and gray armbands. Thor’s helmet is silver with a light blue wash over it. His face is sculpted with a neutral emotion and a good likeness to actor Chris Hemsworth. He comes with an in-scale Mjölnir that’s molded in blue with a white wash down the middle.  Thor also comes with a larger hammer that, when the center button is pressed, the sides retract to reveal short blades on either side. He’s overly-articulated in typical Hasbro/Marvel fashion. He has ball-socket joints at the neck, shoulders, elbows, torso, hips, and ankles. He has swivel joints at the wrists and just below the hips. Finally, he has double hinged knees.

If you don’t already own a Thor action figure in your collection, consider Thunder Crusader Thor. Despite the impossible-to-pose hips and the gimmick-hammer, he’s a great figure.

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Aug. 11th, 2011

Staff Strike Sif - Thor: The Mighty Avenger

In Norse mythology, Sif is a goddess, which is the singular form of Sifar.  When Marvel Comics adapted the Norse gods into their series, Sif was included as an Asgardian warrior and a lover to Thor. Now you can own an action figure of her as depicted in the 2011 film Thor, if you can find her.

” Sif is a born warrior. Few beings can match her prowess with the sword of staff. Along with Heimdall and his compatriot Thor, she is devoted to protecting Asgard from those who seek to destroy it.” – Taken from the figure’s packaging.

Staff Strike Sif is part of the fourth wave of Thor: The Mighty Avenger action figures and the lone female in the line. She is dressed I, the armor she wore in the film. She wears a gray cloak over a silver and crimson bodice with a white undershirt. Her right forearm has armor matching the rest while her left forearm has two silver bracelets. Her leggings are a dark brown-red with matching boots.  There are a number of folds and creases that add character to the piece. Her head sculpt is a good representation of actress Jaimie Alexander considering the scale.  She is well articulated with ball-hinges at the shoulders, elbows, and hips, a ball-socket neck, swivel joints at the torso, wrists, and below the hips, and hinges at the knees (doubled) and ankles.  As for accessories, she comes with a sword and a staff, both of which are exquisitely painted with while blades, black handles, and bronze accents.

Considering most stores over-ordered the first wave of figures from this line, which seems to be a habit with Hasbro movie-related product, I honestly never thought I would see Sif at retail. If you’re a fan of the movie, Sif, or female figures and you see her at retail; pick her up because you likely won’t see her again. At least that’s my assumption. You can pick her up even if you’re not interested as I’m sure there are a number of people out there who’d gladly buy it from you. No scalping, please.

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Aug. 10th, 2011

DC Universe Classics - Star Sapphire Wonder Woman

During the Blackest Night, Wonder Woman found herself in two different power ring corps; Black and Violet. It was her love for Earth that allowed the violet ring to disconnect her from Nekron’s influence and she became a Star Sapphire.

“Wonder Woman has always been a warrior and a peacemaker. After Nekron seized control of her, converting Wonder Woman into one of his Black Lanterns, a violet power ring found her and severed her connection to the forces of death. She transformed into Star Sapphire Wonder Woman and turned the immense power of her love for all living things against the Black Lanterns.” – Taken from the figure’s packaging.

As a member of the Star Sapphire Corps, Wonder Woman’s costume changed to a revealing bathing suit-like outfit. While the figure itself is molded in a flesh-tone, her costume is violet and gold with a large, dark purple collar and silver bracelets.  Her headband now wraps around her eyes ¾ of the way. Her hair is black and beautifully sculpted in a wavy style. She has the standard DC articulation and her trademark magic lasso is attached to her right hip, though it’s not removable, and comes with a Star Sapphire lantern, molded in purple and near as I can tell is accurate to the source material. She also comes with a piece of her wave’s Collect-N-Connect figure; the Anti-Monitor.

Star Sapphire Wonder Woman is, in theory, in stores now.  Maybe I should say that she’s shipping now.  With many stores still swamped with older waves, if you’re interested in this figure it’s best to pick it up when you see it as she likely won’t be there the next day.

Aug. 9th, 2011

Lion-O's ThunderRacer - ThunderCats

To travel around Third Earth the ThunderCats use the ThunderTank and the ThunderRacers, of which there are two. This is so they can attach to the tank on either side. It’s also a great way to market the toy line so kids and collectors alike can get a small vehicle without breaking the bank on a more costly vehicle.  Of course, that also means a complete ThunderTank will run $60, but I digress.

“ThunderCats is an epic fantasy combining swords and science and boasting ferocious battles between good and evil. Speed into action with Lion-O's ThunderRacer.”
– Comprised of the packaging and web site copy.

The ThunderRacer is a sleek, one-man vehicle reminiscent of the Star Wars the Clone Wars small vehicle with figure assortment. The bulk of the toy is molded in a metallic light blue plastic with the wheels molded in black and the launcher and projectile in dark blue-gray, more on those later.  The canopy is molded in clear plastic with the plating on either side painted to match the rest of the vehicle. There are a lot of rivets and paneling details on the vehicle. The front of the vehicle, right behind the front vehicle, has a feline-like head painted in a dark metallic blue with red eyes.  Behind the cockpit is a similarly painted section.

The canopy opens to reveal a spacious, one-seat cockpit. It has two steering controls and a display screen along with a headrest. Other than that, it’s rather bare-bones inside there.  Below the headrest is the ThunderLynx clip that Lion-O or any other ThunderCats figure with a ThunderLynx panel on its back can connect to.  Once connected, pressing the button above the rear wheel moves the small sections on either side forward.  These will press the button on the included launcher when attached to either side of the ThunderRacer, which in turn fires the projectile which has a silver plastic drill tip on it. There are also connectors on either side to attach the ThunderRacer on either side of the ThunderTank.

The Lion-O figure included with this ThunderRacer uses the same head as the individual release, but has a completely new, less articulated body. He’s dressed in a dark blue, sleeveless jumpsuit with the pant legs rolled up just below the knees. His belt buckle is silver with the red and black ThunderCats insignia in the center. He has swivel joints at the neck, shoulders, wrists, and hips and hinge joints at the knees. So, while he can’t be posed as well as his counterpart, he does well at sitting in the ThunderRacer and has more articulation than Justice League Unlimited or Young Justice action figures.


If you’re looking for a good entry level figure and vehicle combo for the ThunderCats line, then look no further than Lion-O and his ThunderRacer. The figure and vehicle are both great and function well on their own or combined with the ThunderTank.

Aug. 8th, 2011

Cheetara (Modern) - ThunderCats

What is old is new again. While some toy properties from the 80’s never left, one popular series marks 2011 as its return year; the ThunderCats. Lion-O and the gang are back with a new animated series and a toy line made by Bandai to support it. Among the initial assortment of four inch figures is Cheetara, Cleric of the ThunderCats.

“ThunderCats is an epic fantasy combining swords and science and boasting ferocious battles between good and evil. Cheetara is an expert fighter whose duty is to protect Lion-O and the Sword of Omens at any cost.” – Taken from the figure’s packaging.

Cheetara is one of the most beautifully sculpted female action figures I’ve seen in a long time. She matches her on-screen counterpart almost flawlessly. She’s a perfect blend of two shades of brown, tan, cream, gold, and yellow. He pale facial complexion is accentuated by the light pink lips and rings around her eyes. Her hair is well sculpted with light tan cheetah spots across the top. In the center of her hair is her ThunderLynx tab that’s used to activate gimmicks on vehicles and accessories sold separately.

Cheetara is well articulated with ball-hinges at the shoulders, hinges at the elbows and knees, swivel joints just below the shoulders and hips and two cut joints at the hips.  The hip area can be a little troublesome to get into poses with the cut and swivel joints, but with enough finagling you can get her legs into some decent poses.  She comes with a wood-colored staff made of rubbery plastic that fits well in either hand or she can hold it with both hands.

The new ThunderCats toys are just starting to hit stores, so you may have to do some hunting to track any of them down. Cheetara is definitely worth picking up, but at one per case she may be harder to come by than Lion-O, Mumm-Ra, or Tygra, all of whom are more than one per case of figures.

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September 2011



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