Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Black Bolt (Marvel Legends: SDCC Exclusive)

Marvel Legends Black Bolt (SDCC Exclusive)
Of all the action figures that came inside this Thanos Imperative boxset, Black Bolt is the only figure that rendered me speechless- literally gave me the idea of what it feels like not to speak or even clear my throat... like Black Bolt! This is the guy who has the power of destroying your house with just a single whisper. A loud scream can destroy the entire moon (they say), thus this silent type of guy that he is. To compare this SDCC Exclusive Black Bolt with the first Marvel Legends Black Bolt figure we had from the Nemesis Build-A-Figure Wave, this one here looked a lot better but still hasn't fixed that one major issue- his wings!

This time, Hasbro went with these sturdy plastic for Black Bolt's folding fan-like wings which is actually a good decision. However, these non-retractable and/or non-removable wings doesn't give you many good-looking poses. It seems like the only way to make a striking "Black Bolt pose" is to get his arms raised sidewards. But by having him stand upright and straight just makes my eyes sore. With these plastic wings sticking out at the back of his arms, it is as ugly as those silky cloth wings of the old Black Bolt. Hasbro could have thought of a better idea than this one.

Just right before you take him out of the package, you'll know that this is yet another Marvel Legends Bucky Cap or Black Panther being utilized again! I'm starting to think this is the go-to body mold for laziness and a situation where they run out of ideas. And since this is a Comic Con Exclusive, I believe it would have been great if Hasbro introduced a newer body type but instead we got this one, which is being reused, remodelled and recycled for years. The only features they added are the wings at his armpits and that tuning fork sticking up on his forehead. Otherwise, nothing changed- it's all Bucky Cap's.

There is nothing really much to say about the application of paint on this figure. As simple as the way his suit looks in the comics, 85% of this figure is covered in black. Running along his shoulders and torso, and across his waist is this metallic silver paint zigzagged in an orderly symmetric fashion. His wings and that tuning fork are silver painted as well, while the exposed skin on his face is painted flesh. There are no paint wash, colour shadings or whatsoever- it's probably a little tricky when you have a character all dressed in black to be translated into a 6-inch action figure, and so I got no problem with it's simplicity.

If you aren't tired reading yet another same old information about it's articulation, then there is no reason for you to skip this part. If the body mold being used is the same, so as the joints and the hinges. It's entirely the same as with our ML Black Panther and ML Hawkeye. What I really hoped for are articulated collapsable wings that the ML Archangel have for Black Bolt. That would have been mind blowing especially for this SDCC Exclusive action figure!

If I have to choose between the one from Nemesis Wave and this Thanos Imperative Set Black Bolt, there would be no second thoughts that I'm going for this one! Even with the hopes of giving it a newer body mold, I think the Black Panther mold works for him. I got no gripes with the paint job. The only thing that irritates me are these wings. Overall, it is a decent figure but not the best. "3 Stars" if I want to give it a rating.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Star-Lord (Marvel Legends: SDCC Exclusive)

Marvel Legends Star-Lord (SDCC Exclusive)
Wanna know what I think about this guy? Star-Lord is this year's most awesome superhero thanks to the talent brought to us by Chris Pratt. I was never really a fan of this Marvel character and his bunch (to be quite honest) not 'til I saw the movie which got me digging through the comics and started learning about their story. Yet despite Pratt's outstanding acting performance on the character, I still prefer the comic book version of Star-Lord in a 6-inch Marvel Legends action figure over his movie counterpart, which happened to have been released following this one last July.

Unlike the movie version, this figure is pretty hard to get! If you haven't gone to SDCC (2014) then your best option is on eBay, which are sold at prices that might take you aback! He comes in this pretty unique boxset with a Galactus Engine artwork and design (which I showed couple of months ago) along with other characters that seemed to be involve in the Thanos Imperative storyline. So if you haven't read that story yet, check it now but in the meantime let's get into this figure.

Noticeably, you can see that this figure used the AIM Soldier body mold, which looked kind of a uniform by the French Foreign Legion in World War 1. The only differences they have are the head sculpts and the belts. Everything is just repainted but still it worked perfectly on Star-Lord! The way the head is sculpted is accurate to the comics. His hands are on a trigger finger-pose to hold his guns properly. Probably one minor issue this figure has is that he does not have holsters to store his weapons, but otherwise, the use of the body mold and the overall sculpt is perfect.

I also got no complain with the paint application. These dark hues of blue that goes from his neck and down to the boot cuts are painted evenly. As well as the red lines that are running along and across his shoulders and torso showed little scuff marks or wears. The added emblems painted over his chest and forehead made this Star-Lord figure looks just right.

The Marvel Legends Star-Lord has a pair of two identical handguns- the "element guns", which look like not the version from the movie but from what we've seen in the comics. It just look like your standard handgun- nothing extraordinary and not something that came from outer space. My only complain about it is that it doesn't even have any paint detail. It's just this one piece gray plastic that I wish Hasbro might wanna consider doing some improvement in the future.

Having the AIM Soldier body mold, Star-Lord can still execute some decent poses like many Marvel Legends figures. His head is on a ball-neck that allows for rotation and leaning towards the sides. He's got ball-hinged shoulders, double-jointed elbows and hinged wrists at the arms. At the torso, he got an abdominal crunch, waist swivel and T-jointed hips. His knees are double-jointed and his ankles are hinged and got the rockers.

The SDCC Exclusive Star-Lord action figure stands about 6.4 inches tall- exactly the same height with our Marvel Legends AIM Soldier. If you're building your team of Guardians of the Galaxy then this action figure is a must-have, let alone being the leader of the team. The overall rendition to his comic book look is being greatly respected with this action figure. I totally recommend this figure but I wouldn't recommend you to pay "scalper price" just to have him.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Power Rangers: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (S.H.Figuarts)

To "toy-review" each of these Power Rangers individually will probably be a good thing yet will take a lot of my effort and be a waste of my time since all five of these figures have plenty of things in common- articulation-wise and sculpt-wise. So I decided to review them as a team because it is time-saving and they look so much better when placed all together. It's like staring at a rainbow with a mix of kung fu, and I'm glad S.H.Figuarts Bandai made this happen for people who are fans of these bunch of "teenagers with attitude" (as Zordon would like to call them) with the affinities to fossilized creatures. Red, Black, Blue, Yellow and Pink Ranger of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers are reunited only to have their similarities and differences checked. So... let's go go, Power Rangers toy review!

S.H.Figuarts Power Rangers

The only unique feature about the Rangers when we look at them individually are the colours (obviously), the helmets and the special weapons that they carry. The "male rangers" virtually have the same sculpt and body mold. All these guys have that lanky swimmer body-type physique, which I find- less accurate since Jason (the Red Ranger) is the tallest and more muscular of the three, but it's not really that a big deal. Pink and Yellow Ranger on the other hand are a bit shorter plus with the boobs protruding shyly over their chests. Now here's a fun fact!!- the reason why the Yellow Ranger doesn't wear a miniskirt like the Pink Ranger is because in the original Japanese Power Rangers (Super Sentai Rangers), Yellow is suppose to be a dude! They sort of brought that original outfit when it came to America albeit rather played by Thuy Trang. So that's an interesting fact there.

There's nothing really much to talk about each of their simplistic paint application. The way they are painted is all the same except that they have their traditional colours designated to each with "white" as the only common colour they all have. Their "Power Morphers" (or buckles) are all intricately painted to make it look more akin to the show even with its pebble-like size. Moreover and even more surprising, the "gold coins" for each of these Rangers are embossed with their own signature logos. Zooming your camera closer to Red Ranger's buckle, you will see his T-Rex showing slightly in the middle. A Mastodon embossment for the Black Ranger, a Triceratops embossment for the Blue Ranger and so forth can also be seen.

While it's probably needless to show you the way they are packaged, the point here is to get us oriented with the Japanese release versus the International release so that we would be able to recognize them. If you look at the packaging on the Japanese version of Red Ranger, there are no "MMPR" logo included in its artwork, instead you can see the name- "TyrannoRanger" which is originally the real codename of the Red Ranger!

Whether it's the Japanese version or the American version, the action figure you get is the same! The only reason why I purchased the Red Ranger from Japan are the bonus accessories they've added. All five Rangers got their own Thunder Slingers (complete assembly), and Blade Blasters (not fully transformed) that goes into each of the Rangers' own holsters. Also, all five of them have their own pair of "fisted hands" and gripping hands strictly for holding the Slingers and the Blasters. Now that we've discussed the accessories that they have in common, let's go right down to the "special ones".

Red Ranger: What's special about the Red Ranger (Japanese version) is that he comes with an interchangeable belt and neck that sings to the tune of America! Interesting bonus features for a Japanese release. While the Blade Blasters for these Rangers don't actually transform, Bandai included three (3) different transformations of the Blade Blaster and an incomplete assembly of the Thunder Slinger. Last but not the least, the Red Ranger got his personal main weapon- the Power Sword! By having him wield the sword, the Red Ranger needs to a have a special gripping hands for it. He also have a pair of "T-Rex claw attack" hands and another gripping hands (to which I don't know what it's for) for a total of five (5) interchangeable pairs of hands.

Pink Ranger: Her personal weapon is the Power Bow (with the arrow). Among the five Rangers, Kim is the only Power Ranger who has a weapon glued to her fingers, i.e. her arrow. She got a special gripping hand designed to hold her bow, and a pair of judo-chop hands with the a left hand that is partially curved and angled that all connect to a ball-hinged wrist.

Black Ranger: Now this is where it starts to get interesting. The Black Ranger comes with a Power Sword and the Blue Ranger's Power Lance that are designed to play a part in building the Power Blaster. The Black Ranger comes with none other than his infamous Power Axe that he can also use as a shotgun. He comes with two (2) pairs of special gripping hands (made only for the Black Ranger) for holding his weapon in "axe mode" and one for holding it in "shotgun mode". In addition, he got just the one gripping hand (without a pair) for some unknown purpose. In total, he got four (4) pairs of interchangeable hands plus one without a pair.

Blue Ranger: Like our Black Ranger, the Blue Ranger comes with accessories that looked almost unusual in his set. Again, these are parts that will help you build the Power Blaster and this time it's Kim's bow and Trini's daggers. The Blue Ranger's personal weapon is the three-pronged double Power Lance on "staff form", which (in my opinion) should have been a bit longer. He also comes with a pair of Power Lances in their "dagger forms". And of course, he got a set of grips designed to hold his weapon plus a pair of semi-judo chop hands.

Yellow Ranger: Lastly, we have Trini the Yellow Ranger that just got released couple of months ago; following the Blue Ranger. She holds the last piece for the Power Blaster which is Zack's axe. Once combined together, it will form their super-duper ultimate weapon just like what we always see in the show. The Yellow Ranger has her own weapon- the Power Daggers, which also comes with the hands designed to hold it nice and tight. Also like all other Rangers, she has a special pair of hands but hers is doing a sort of "cat-claw attack!"

The articulation on all these five Rangers is phenomenal. Like the Green Ranger figure, these guys can also hit any kind of pose pretty much. The neck is on a double-ball hinged that lets the head lean at any angle and rotate at the upper portion of the neck as well as the lower area near the chest. They have these loose shoulder pieces that allows their double-ball jointed shoulders move at a wider range. Their arms have double-jointed elbows and rotation at the wrists. Diaphragm and waist rotation are incorporated per usual. Double-ball jointed hips, double-jointed knees, hinged ankles with ankle rockers are present as well.

The Red, Black and Blue Ranger stands on par with each other at 6 inches tall while the two ladies are maybe 2 or 3 millimeter shorter than the guys. If you're a Power Ranger fan, these S.H.Figuarts action figures are the real deal! With its tremendous amount of accessories and articulation, and close likeness to the Rangers, they are must-get figures to people who went crazy for them. Although I'm not too much of a fan but they are part of my "growing-up memories" and it's a great thing to have the best Power Rangers action figures that are in today.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Super Mario & Playsets (S.H.Figuarts)

S.H.Figuarts Super Mario
Super Mario is too popular and iconic that it's almost a crime not to be able to recognize his face. He is the Muhammad Ali of the world of video games and probably a part of mankind's history. But to me, Mario is just a childhood memory holding a special place in my heart- the first ever video game character I got introduced to before everything went hi-def. My girlfriend, Elaine thinks he's cute (like a stuffed animal sense of cute) but like all other guys, I think it's the mechanics of the game that make him "super", and that what made me become a fan! Ironically, I don't play the games anymore but with this S.H.Figuarts release, I was just too excited to get one of my favourite characters to go into my collection along with these playsets.

On to the figure! Each of these sets are neatly packaged with standard S.H.Figuarts windowed boxes with the figure along with the pieces showcased behind its clear plastic. The boxes don't have any "Mario-themed" artwork from the game at all, but instead we see all these pictures of the action figure and all these accessories you're getting from these sets. The "Main Set" contains Super Mario while Playset A and B are technically just add-on accessories that would give you more display options. Most importantly, you gotta get the Main Set. Though A and B are not that essential but to me, it feels incomplete not having them both. And so here's what these boxes contain:

Main Set

Main Playset
Super Mario Figure
Mushroom x1
Question Mark Block x1
Coin x1
Coin Stand (short) x1


Playset A
Gumba x1
Question Mark Block x1
Regular Blocks x2
Coin x1
Coin Stand (short) x1
Coin Stand (long) x1
Attachable Peg Piece x1
Figure Stand Assembly x1


Playset B
Gumba x1
Coin x1
Turtle Shell x1 + Double-End Pegs x4
Pair of Hands x1
Coin Stand (short) x1
Coin Stand (long) x1
Warp Pipes x2

Like most playsets, the whole gimmick with the S.H.Figuarts Super Mario is to create some really good scenarios and/or environments, which are made possible by these eye-catching accessories. My idea of a good scenario is to use a combination of pieces from those three different sets (Main Set, Playset A & Playset B) I've mentioned, and that's the reason why it is recommendable to get all three of them because it's a lot more fun! Probably the most common scenario that most people like to make is by having Mario suspended right below a question mark block (or ?-Block) as if he's trying to jump-hit it. The only drawback I've found is that the height of this "invisible" pole holding the ?-Block (along with these regular blocks) is too short and enough to make this entire scenario a bit odd. Using these green warp pipes from Playset B, you can simply put Mario on top of either one of them as if he's rising up. These pipes have different heights and depths with the lids being interchangeable to give you some minor options.

Also, Playset B gives you the "turtle shell" which is the only accessory that Mario can wield. Of course, you can't have him hold it with his fisting hands. Mario has a pair of opened-palm hands and a pair of double-pegs that connect the turtle shell with the hands together. Getting Mario to stand or fly, he needs this figure stand (from Playset A) with an articulated neck that goes to his back via a special removable peg piece for Mario. The sculpt and paint job of each are nicely done and the amount of accessories just blows everything out of the water! ...but of course, it is a playset.

The paint job is simple and solid to which I'm actually impressed, with the red, white and blue all painted neatly without the bleeds. Also, I like how they added a bit of gloss to the brown boots. It's the figure that doesn't need colour shading or any paint wash. This is how I want a Super Mario to look like; nothing more, nothing less.

I got no major complain with the sculpt and body mold at all. Super Mario's body is suppose to be anatomically interesting with a fat head and small torso. But from what I've noticed over the years, his physique has been changed, remodelled and reincarnated by Nintendo. A slimmer and taller version of Mario could be the one from the Super Smash Bros. game to which by the looks of this one, doesn't match that description. I believe this is rather the classic version of Mario we've seen in a lot of Super Mario video games which to me, looks much better!

If you're a fan of the S.H.Figuarts' super-poseability feature, then (sad to say) the Super Mario may get your nerves in distress. The articulation on this figure fails to meet the standards, but in fairness, this is probably the most articulated Super Mario you can find out there but still at a mediocre level. Being the classic version of Mario, it is considerably acceptable for his big fat head to only create such a small amount of movements but it is just strictly limited to the point where he better off not get a neck-joint at all. Mario's shoulders are on ball-pegs that don't really make the difference. His arms can barely raise, he got single-joints at the elbows and just rotation at the wrists. Mario has no waist rotation- huge disappointment! Probably the only saving grace for Mario is the articulation at his legs. The legs can kick forward via a swivel, spreads at a limited amount, the knees bend close to 90 degrees and he got rotation at the ankles plus ankle pivots.

Now I know some people, especially fans of the video game bought this figure just to put on a Super Smash Brothers display collection, and so here it is with the Figma Link and the Figma Samus Aran. This figure stands about 4.25 inches tall and Super Mario does seem compatible with these figure but I would have wished he is leaner and scaled-down especially the head.

Despite all that articulation issues and some not too intelligently executed accessories, the Super Mario may be a great figure to have in your collection but just prepare yourself and be warned about its flaws, especially if you're an articulation junkie. As far as the rendition and likeness to the character, everything is perfect. You can't find a better Mario figures other than the one from S.H.Figuarts by Bandai Tamashii Nations.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Piccolo: Dragon Ball (S.H.Figuarts)

S.H.Figuarts Piccolo
This next Dragon Ball Z character is not your typical little green dude on a flying saucer coming from outer space. Meet Piccolo, a kung fu-trained BA with a name of a flute-like instrument from another planet notable for his insect-like feature and eastern Indian dress code. He is one of my top favourite characters up there with Gokou and Vegeta in the Dragon Ball universe. I finally got me my own Piccolo figure from S.H.Figuarts and I am very pleased that they reissued such a prominent character for DBZ collectors like me.

Now to the figure! This is yet another amazing work by Bandai Tamashii Nations. Although I'd say the paint application is not that perfectly done unlike the Son Gokou figure. Notice that the shade of purple on Piccolo's torso is not the same as the ones on his legs. Apparently, it is not that obvious once this figure is on a display shelf, but on a still camera, the mistakes are visible. The rest of the paint job otherwise, is nicely done. I am fairly satisfied with the choice of colours even with its simplistic application.

The selling point with this figure to me is the sculpt and body mold. No large looking hands or oddly long or short extremities; he is anatomically proportionate. Also, I like how the wrinkles over his clothing are sculpted; forming like waves crumpling together around the edges and corners. Piccolo's insect-like arms are nicely done with all these grooves swerving and almost looking like fingerprints alongside with these yellow thingies sticking out from it. The one thing that surprised me though is that Piccolo suppose to have pointy white fingernails. The ones you've seen here are short with black nail polish, which is I believe not accurate. You might think that I'm nitpicking but this is not what Piccolo-fingers look like.

If the S.H.Figuarts Son Gokou got the kamehameha effects, Piccolo's unique accessory is his... folded arms. As simple as it is, Piccolo's crisscrossed/folded arms is one of his signature pose. Installing this accessory/interchangeable part is a pain in the neck, like you have to keep both shoulders aligned once you replace his regular arms into this one solid piece of plastic. Along with it, comes this "half-bib" that latches unto his folded arms, which completes this entire gimmick. Also, Piccolo has four (3) interchangeable hands: fisting hands, high five hands, grabbing hands, and one (1) two-finger pointing hand.

And furthermore, Piccolo has 3 interchangeable heads: the turbaned head, the regular head (without the turban but with the highly pliable soft plastic antennae), and the angry-faced head (with veins popping, no turban and so forth). Last but not his least accessory is his white cape that has that flowing effect and kind of windswept to the right to make that more dynamic pose.

The articulation on the S.H.Figuarts Piccolo is the same as with our Son Gokou figure. The neck is on a ball-joint that lets his head lean at different angles and rotate. Shoulders are on ball-joints that work like armpit pivots along with hinges that allows his arms to move laterally. He has rotation at the biceps, double-joints at the elbows, ball-jointed wrists, double ball-jointed waist, double ball-jointed hips, swivel at the upper-thighs, double-jointed knees, hinged ankles with an ankle pivot and toe articulation.

So we finally get to see Piccolo size-compared to Gokou. Without counting the hair, Piccolo stands just a little bit taller than him. Despite the issue with the paint and source material, this figure is still must-have especially if you're a Dragon Ball Z fan because of the overall looks and design. You probably couldn't ask for a better Piccolo figure other than this one.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Son Gokou: Dragon Ball (S.H.Figuarts)

S.H.Figuarts Son Gokou
It really took me awhile to decide whether to get these S.H.Figuarts Dragon Ball Z figures or not, mainly because I was still looking for a space in my room to accommodate this "family". Now I finally decided and got a lot of catching up to do. The first and coolest Saiyan-dude that I'd like to introduce from this family is Son Gokou, and since everyone knows this character then... why not start with him! He's notable for his colour and size changing hair, and his destructive kamehameha which can obliterate almost anything in its path. Gokou is the iconic superhero from Japan who always gets pitted against Superman that most DBZ fanatics believe he can bring the Man of Steel to his knees... and this is where I enter the debate and piss them off! Though inferior to Supes limitless strength, Gokou is an instant favourite of mine because of his characterization and his unique powers and abilities just can't be rivalled by any other superheroes.

S.H.Figuarts Kamen Riders, Sentai Rangers, Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z figures got one thing in common and that's the packaging. All these Japanese imports are the same with the entire figure showcased inside this windowed box. The only difference are the artwork and design in which in this box, you can see a screen-toned portrait of Gokou at the side of the box and a Dragon Ball Z label at the bottom.

Out from the package, you can see a clean cut accurate rendition of Gokou based off from the anime series. You probably all know that this is not the Super Saiyan version of Gokou with the golden yellow hair but the first Gokou we saw in DBZ Season 1. And this... is like coming straight from the cartoon show where it highlights all that bright solid colours on Gokou's classic suit. Also, there are a few noticeable colour shading that's shaping the muscles over his arms. Again, this is a show of how Bandai S.H.Figuarts is using simple paint applications effectively.

"...spirit bomb!!"

The figure is a spot-on representation of the character. All the wrinkles on his clothes, his hairstyle and the definition of his muscles are sculpted nicely and designed well to hide the joints a little bit. That being said, this action figure may give you that illusion of being a statue, and that's a good thing!

clear stand not included

This Gokou is loaded with accessories; just by looking through the windowed box alone would tell you that. However, I really wish this figure has that kamehameha blast/shooting effect and not just this one (like in this photo) where it made him like he's about to throw his signature move. Still it is a decent accessory that create for those moments, and it's fun to use while you try to get him in that pose.

Surprisingly to me, Gokou's interchangeable parts are the ones I had fun with the most. He's got a total of five (5) different facial expressions also creating those moments with the most common one (of course)- the stern look. He has the angry face with readable lips ("kamehameha"), two (smiling faces), and a face which looks as though he's in trouble (Gokou in trouble? How??). Also, he got five (5) different pairs of hands- a pair of fisting hands, finger-spreaded hands, flying/saluting hands, the "kung fu-move" hands, and lastly, his gripping hands that can hold his maturing kamehameha. Plus, there's a bonus- he got the one hand that do his teleportation move! The amount of accessories is just mind blowing!

Articulation-wise, the amount of joints is a lot and mirrors that to the amount of accessories this figure has. Gokou's neck is on a ball-joint which lets his head to rotate and pivot side to side. Sadly, his head can't look up very well. He's got another joint at the lower part of the neck that allows his head to move forward. His shoulders are on double ball-joints with an articulated shoulder pads for extensive movements. There are swivel at the biceps, double-jointed elbows and ball-jointed wrists on his arms.

Moving on to his torso, Gokou got this double ball-jointed waist made special for these S.H.Figuarts DBZ figures that allows him to lean at any angle and rotate 360 degrees. With his belt suspended around his waist, it doesn't hinder articulation. Just like the waist, his hips are on a double ball-joints. He has swivel at the upper thighs, double-jointed knees, rotation plus pivot around the ankles and hinged toes. The only articulation that I want this figure to have is a bootcut rotation which would have been useful.

To the tip of his hair, Son Gokou stands 6.3 inches tall and unfortunately not ideally in scale with some of the Marvel Legends figures. If there is one word I'd like to describe this Son Gokou action figure, that word would be AWESOME! Right now, this is the best Son Gokou figure out there that can't probably be beaten. If you're a fan of the anime and want to start your Dragon Ball collection, you may wanna include the S.H.Figuarts Son Gokou by Bandai for it's something you might wanna love.