Tuesday, April 15, 2014

IDW Hundred Penny Press G.I. Joe #1

While I don't collect G.I. Joe currently, I did have several of the original 3 3/4" action figures back in the '80s, which probably the best in that scale during an era of such variety. I stumbled onto a few of these Hundred Penny Press issues recently, and my nostalgia for the characters easily coughed up a buck for this reprinting of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #1, published by Marvel in 1982, a title dreamt up between the comic giant and toy manufacturer Hasbro upon their relaunch of the property in the 3 3/4" scale. I don't believe I read any of the title, which ran until 1994- the year I got my college degree. The investment was small, so I took a chance and was surprisingly entertained. Artist Herb Trimpe's style looks far different from his 70's work on The Incredible Hulk, professionally serviceable, but not as expressive somehow. I wish these were printed on the old paper stock with Ben-Day dots, which visually smoothed the art out in a way these reprints don't recreate.
The first story is pretty good, immediately introducing us to the brunette baddie, Baroness, who didn't get an action figure until 1984. She comes out swinging, swiftly abducting a hostage for Cobra Commander- the action is pretty steady! Author Larry Hama served a tour in Vietnam as a firearms and explosives expert, so Marvel had the right guy for the job.

General Austin has the Special Couter-Terrorist Group Delta dossiers assembled, Colonel Hawk to honcho the field mission to rescue Dr. Burkhadt from Cobra Command. Among the team are all your familiar favorites like Stalker, Clutch, Snake-Eyes, Rock'n Roll, and Scarlett. I love that Clutch's jeep look just like the Hasbro "VAMP" in this book, as does Rock'n Roll's "RAM" motorcycle, with it's gattling cannon sidecar! This trip down memory lane was pure fun- I'd definitely pick up another Hundred Penny Press issue, and hope IDW Publishing will continue the imprint.

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Imaginext Brainiac, Martian Manhunter & Plastic Man

I'd been on  the lookout for the Imaginext Martian Manhunter & Plastic Man 2-pack, when I unexpectedly found this cute little Brainiac with tentacles- I'm unsure if he's new with so much older stock reappearing in the last month, but he's new to me. The tentacles are pliable, a wire inside holding the position they are bent into- Fun! The pack from which they extend is removeable, and fits snugly over his shoulders & around the waist, a mechanical spinal column extending to the back of the head.

While the color scheme varies, somewhat in reverse, Imaginext Brainiac is very similar in design to the Mattel JLU Brainiac in several ways- the conical, collared head, studded belt & armbands, and striped boots...

I now have a trio of Superman's enemies, including Lex Luthor & Darkseid- I'm sure the Man of Steel will be fine...     :)

While on the subject of orphaned aliens, I was surprised & delighted to see an Imaginext Martian Manhunter this year, a favorite character of mine! Decked out in his New 52 gear, this 3" J'onn J'onzz has a torso piece that can be removed, revealing an alien torso, the sculpt in keeping with his bumpy/spiny forearms. I have a lot of Imaginext figures that seem like there's a joint at the neck, but the head doesn't move. J'onn shares this trait unfortunately, but this uncommon choice of hero is a delight to see. For a character so seemingly unknown to the general public, Martian Manhunter has had a surprisingly large number of action figures made in his likeness over the years.

Imaginext Martian Manhunter with my other New 52 styled Martian Manhunter by DC Collectibles, two wildly variant types of action figure...

Imaginext Martian Manhunter with Mattel DC Action League Martian Manhunter, another mini-action figure line I've collected- both simple, but dynamic and fun like a toy should be...

BubbaShelby informed me the Imaginext Plastic Man was a rubber figure, which makes sense and adds a unique novelty to this line of mini-figures, my only suggestion that he'd been more fun with wire in the limbs to hold bending poses.

Imaginext Plastic Man with Brave & The Bold Trap Hand Plastic Man and Happy Meal Plastic Man...

I'm a big fan of these cute mini-figures, and have a hard time resisting some of the other themes among the Imaginext line, that all have their own, extensive vehicles & playsets. I've passed on the new Justice League  Blue Beetle buggy set two or three times, but am unsure if I can again- too cool! Martian Manhunter & Plastic Man fit in nicely with this second bunch of DC Imaginext I've collected, don't you think? 

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Monday, April 7, 2014

10" JLU Green Arrow

These 10" JLU figures can be hard to come by at a decent price- retailing for around ten or eleven dollars a decade ago, they can run upwards to thirty, forty, even fifty dollars or more on the secondary market today. I love the the 4" Justice League Unlimited figures, styled after the popular animated TV show, so having an oversized rendition of the Green Arrow is of interest to me. I've eyeballed a few on eBay over the last couple years, but recently found this loose specimen in very good condition, shipped for about twenty bucks.

The 10" JLU Green Arrow is much like his 4" counterpart, with the addition of a bowstring. The leg articulation doesn't kick out at the hip, but swivels side to side at the shorts, and a waist swivel was added- this preserves the integrity of the sculpt. The JLU styling worked especially well on this character, proven in plastic with this display figure. I have a 10" JLU Martian Manhunter still boxed as well that I covet, another character I enjoy collecting.

I have quite a collection of Green Arrow figures, including two unopened DC Direct, and two unopened DCUCs. Below are a few currently on display at the Super-DuperToyBox...

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Friday, April 4, 2014

Marvel NOW: Moon Knight

I"m not sure when I heard Marvel would be launching Moon Knight under it's NOW! imprint, but was delighted to see it appear recently. My knowledge of the character's past continuity is very limited, but curiosity about him linked to early childhood memories, having first seen him in Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #22. While I reminisced the 1978 issue in a post here last summer, I have not kept up on the nocturnal vigilante, who is often criticized as the poor man's Batman, the comparisons obvious. With little exposure to this somewhat second-tier hero, comparison to his handling in the past is a futile pursuit here. I will say this continuation of Marc Spector's journey as the Moon Knight has a spooky feel, haunted by the spirit of Khonshu and his resulting dissociative identity issues. Unfamiliar with the events surrounding his disappearance prior to this reintroduction, I am truly experiencing the character wax anew.

Moon Knight's first appearance was in Werewolf by Night #32, 1975 (included in the second edition of the said Marvel Essential TPB I've been reading), and the character hopped from book to book before getting his own title that spans five volumes, scattered between 1980 and 2011. Awhile back I'd found the first Moon Knight Special Edition from November 1983, and eerily found the second, December issue while picking up the first Marvel NOW! issue. Cool. The second Special Edition is pretty juvenile, but the first kinda has things going for it... like a story. These were reprints of  Moon Knight's appearances in The Hulk!, whose star bumbles stupidly through the beginning of the second issue- this kills the mood, then we get a serial killer, axe murderer in a clown mask. I prefer the cover on the first as well, which like the second folds around onto the verso, revealing his nemesis. Very dynamic! The art inside had some solid, traditional comics illustration by the celebrated Bill Sienkiewicz. 

The NOW! relaunch is dark but smartly dry ghost story, haunted by a skeletal avian apparition, post-Donnie Darko. The shadowy art is creatively arranged and cinematic in feel. Showing up in the first issue to confront the villain in a white suit continued the theatrical characterization Moon Knight evokes. I will keep reading to see how things progress from this interesting reappearance. What is your favorite run/volume of Moon Knight? 

Above: 4" Marvel Universe Moon Knight I scored in 2011.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Legends Winter Soldier Capt. America

I've been reluctant to pick up many of the new Amazing Spider-Man and Captain America Legends series figures largely due to the recent price hike. I realize inflation of materials plays a large part in this, but twenty seems too much. While it may seem blasphemous to some action figure fans, I've always considered the Legends line second Marvel Select aesthetically in most instances, and the joints on some of the recent Hasbro Legends flimsy. Their bragging rights for best articulation even seems challenged by Diamond Select lately. And while Mattel's 6" DCUC line had a more obvious sameness to their buck, their quality seemed more consistent than Legends, at least after Hasbro took over for ToyBiz in 2007. That said, I sometimes can't resist a good Marvel Legends figure like this Winter Soldier Capt. America, which has a lot going for it. 

Like the Marvel NOW Legends Cap I reviewed in January, this Winter Soldier Cap has somewhat floppy/loose hinges in the double-jointed knees, but it doesn't hinder his stability significantly. The figure's articulation is really great, including hinged wrists, added swivels in the boot tops, rocker ankle joints, and a very expressive hinged ball-joint in the neck. In addition to a waist swivel, Cap enjoys an abdominal joint with exceptional range, leaving few poses he is incapable of.

The BAF part is one of Mandroid's legs, a figure I don't care about because I already have that basic figure in the much cooler Iron Man 3 BAF, Iron Monger...

His sculpt is outstanding, realistically proportioned as this is a movie series figure, and detailed down to the fabric weave in his uniform. The paint details are understated in a tasteful way, highlighting the sculpt in the chest emblem and armor sections and buckles in the belt & torso region. Printed diminutively on the right and left shoulders are the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo and American flag, "Rogers" below. I've heard murmurs of Cap's shield being too large, and while it measures larger than the others at 2 1/2" in diameter, it looks great to me. Removing the hand is necessary in getting the wrist through the second one, which is still  tricky. There isn't an option for mounting the shield to this figure's back - I'd have preferred the peg & clip-flip setup that Steve Rogers & Marvel Now Cap were outfitted with, but this is still better than the clumsy adjustable straps the Avengers Cap came with.

This newest Cap came not only with an interchangeable head sculpt, but two unique alternate hands. Gripping hands would have been more useful in handling the edge of the shield or a gun, but I appreciate the need to change things up.

The Winter Soldier Cap's style was obviously inspired by the Super Soldier Steve Rogers outfit. I love the Steve Rogers figure, particularly the photon shield my variant came with, so having this Winter Soldier Capt. America figure was high on the priority list. I like the head sculpts on these immensely, and do feel they caught the likeness of actor Chris Evans decently in the new figure. Steve Rogers is still my favorite, but the Winter Soldier Cap has his own appeal- Hasbro didn't drop the ball here, but they charged us more for him.

Winter Soldier Capt. America with Marvel NOW and Avengers Captain America...

I'm looking forward to the movie this weekend, Marvel has been rockin' the big screen with these new movies, and it seems there's no end in sight! Check out my Boyish Wonder Pinterest for more action figure pics!
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