Friday, February 14, 2020

McFarlane Toys Batgirl

I didn't keep up with DC Comics too far past the first year or two of the New 52 relaunch, so I'm unfamiliar with Batgirl in context with this Art of the Crime version, published in 2019. Regardless, I loved to this new outfit, drawing from classic Batgirl elements, updated to make her seem fresh. Like the McFarlane Batman, Batgirl has a very dynamically pronounced cape, which isn't the preference of all collectors, but I like it. The updated chest emblem, doubling as a harness for a backpack hidden behind her cape, and utility belt are fantastic. 

As I said in my last post on the recent McFarlane Batman & Nightwing, the action figure community is mixed on opinions regarding this first wave of DC figures, but I sincerely like the figures I have picked up. I loved the DCUC line by Mattel, but a lot of their recent figures just haven't interested me much. Aa a fan of the old DC Direct figures, the 7" scale didn't bother me, and the McFarlane figures have a little more depth in their sculpted detail and better articulation. And maybe a little more … well, style. I was also grateful for the return of the figure base- I hated when DC Collectibles and Mattel stopped including them.

Like the McFarlane Batman, Batgirl gets a grapple gun and batarang, but unique in design- McFarlane could have given them the same sculpt, but went the extra mile to give Barbara her own. Sure the grapple line is permanently affixed in a partially ejected state, but it would take little effort to customize that if one cared to. A sturdy collector card was also included with this figure, as well as one third of the "collect to build" Batmobile that Nightwing also came with. For the figures with these CNC parts, we are asked to pay an additional five bucks- as this holds little interest for me, I will sell mine on eBay to offset that extra cost.

Below. McFarlane Batgirl towers over my Mattel Legacy Edition Batgirl:

Below, McFarlane Batgirl with the McFarlane Nightwing and Batman from my last post:

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Sunday, February 9, 2020

McFarlane Toys Batman & Nightwing

My initial skepticism regarding the announcement of McFarlane Toys taking over the DC license from Mattel was tempered by the collector community's unbridled enthusiasm of their recent Fortnite offerings, a property most adult collectors knew nothing about. Like many, I thought the DCUC line was fantastic, offering a staggering array of characters never seen before in an action figure series, which continued into the rebranding as the DC Multiverse line. Somewhere along the line, Mattel felt a little flat to me however, and maybe DC felt it was time for a fresh approach as well. McFarlane's upscaling into 7" bothered me less than a lot of collectors, and I was interested in additional points of articulation MacFarlane offered, so I bought a couple.

The collector community had a litany of complaints regarding this initial McFarlane Batman- while his portrait's resemblance to the Detective Comics #1000 Batman may be somewhat of a reach, I like him in person purely as a Batman figure. The ball-hinge joints at the wrists and ankles are not my favorite, but that's how McFarlane Toys designed them, and I like this figure enough to overlook that. I agree with the consensus that his abdominal joint may have been cut at the wrong spot, but it looks way better than my initial impression when these were first solicited. 

Batman's grapple gun is fantastic, but limited in possibility due to it's partially ejected mold. A modicum of ambition would suffice to customize this, but that holds little interest for me. The batarang included is thick as a brick. I feel less distracted by this than some, but it's too thick. That said, the figure grips it securely.

A cloth goods cape is preferred by some, but it's hard to deny the fantastic sculpt on Batman's. Like his trunks, it's made of a pliable rubber, and doesn't hinder articulation as much as you may think. I like the look of batman's cape draped over the shoulders, and I'm glade McFarlane went this direction. I really like the dark gray/blue on this figure, mistaking it for black in the solicitation photos back in December.

Below, McFarlane Batman with my DC Direct Arkham Asylum Batman ,a fantastic Batman figure that I've held onto for nearly nine years. Though I sold the bulk of my collection in the last couple years, I'm a big fan of the old DC Direct figures, and have even acquired a few recently.

I may like this McFarlane Nightwing even more than the Batman. He has all the nice armor line and fabric texture detailing throughout, and a sculpted chest insignia like Batman, and his abdominal cut is placed a little better. One of three collect-'n-connect pieces for a small Batmobile is included with this figure at a price-point five dollars more than the regular boxed figures like Batman. This holds little interest for me, and since I used Amazon card points to purchase these figures at a discount, I have little skin in the game.

Nightwing holds his escrima sticks securely, and can easily reach over his shoulders to grab them, where they clip onto his back for storage. They are molded in black, unlike his body, which is actually a very dark blue/gray- the straps on his forearms are painted black. McFarlane also sculpted the blue boot tops on this figure, and painted the knuckles on his gloves in the same blue, which adds a lot to this largely monochromatic figure. I like Nightwing's boot treads as well, and I have to say I'm surprised how much I like a toe hinge on these figures- it really adds dynamism to the poses.

Below, McFarlane Nightwing with my DCUC Nightwing and my Arkham City Legacy Edition Nighwing, both by Mattel. DC Collectibles has produced better Nightwing figures than these two older models, but I feel this McFarlane figure may be the best yet. His sculpt and paint details are fantastic, and his body proportions make him look like he jumped right out of the comics.

Both figures came with a collector card made of thick, durable stock, and more importantly, bases upon which to stand them. I really hated when DC Collectibles and Mattel stopped giving us figure bases, and hope McFarlane Toys continues this trend. I think these are outstanding action figures, in spite of what may or may not be perceived as their shortcomings, and I am looking forward to what McFarlane has planned for the rest of the year. Visit McFarlane.Com online to keep abreast of all that's developing!

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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Marvel Legends Doctor Doom & She-Hulk

I picked up She-Hulk and Doctor doom from the new Marvel Legends Fantastic Four/Super Skrull BAF Wave when I bout the entire Hobgoblin Wave featured in my last post. I didn't want to shell out for the updated Fantastic Four as I already have the Walgreens FF, but I couldn't pass on these two. We received a classic Doctor Doom from ToyBiz in the 2nd Series of Marvel Legends back in 2002, in the 2007 Walmart Exclusive Ronan Wave, and more recently in the 2012 Epic Heroes Series 3. I never picked up the Walgreens Infamous Iron Man Doctor Doom released last year, but had little incentive as I knew this Classic Doom was on the way.

This wasn't the version of Jen Walters I'd prefer, but rather the post Civil War II Hulk (or She-Hulk) that now turns into a wild, uncontrollable grey Hulk, a result of her trauma from fighting Thanos. I'm unfamiliar with the latest regarding Jen in the comics, but this sounds more Savage She-Hulk than Sensational. But with all the new, very character-specific tooling for this figure, I feel we will get a more conventional green version, perhaps in a retro wave, that may feature a new head sculpt. Still, this is a fantastic figure with some exacting attention to detail in the sculpt and paint.

Below, She-Hulk with another stunning female marvel Legends female in my collection, Angela, the classic Hulk from my 80th Anniversary Hulk/Wolverine 2-Pack, and Thundra from the 2015 Hulkbuster Wave...

Doom seems like next-level Marvel Legends, with near import-like quality, a triumph of the Marvel Legends line and action figures in general. The attention to detail in the sculpt- the rivets, painted armor clasps, the elaborate gold belt buckle, the subtle fabric texture of the cape and tunic, the chain mail texture under the armor... it's fantastic. The armor looks so good! Sure, the pistol is underwhelming in size and rubbery, but the rest of the accessories, including classic and modern portraits are perfect.

Hasbro put Doom's thrusters beneath his cape, which do have small holes at the openings. We didn't any jet fire accessories, but you know some customizer is going to make that. The peg on my onside of his cape doesn't really stay in the hole on Doom's back, but it's of little consequence for my purposes.

Doom's tunic and cape encumber his poseability to a degree, but he has great articulation. I'm glad they didn't break up the torso with an ab-crunch joint- the ball joint at the waist gives adequate tilt all around for this character- perfectly serviceable, and plenty good to battle the ever-lovin', blue-eyed Thing!

And finally, Doom with my Walgreens Exclusive Fantastic Four. While it's tempting to pick up the updated FF from Doom's wave and complete the Super Skrull BAF, I prefer this Walgreens FF. Sure, we get a transforming Human Torch w/Johnny Storm head, but I liked the more traditional uniforms of the Walgreens FF, and Thing's paint deco is better. Maybe if they go on clearance.

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Sunday, January 5, 2020

Marvel Legends Spider-Man Demogoblin BAF Wave

I've only bought a two or three other entire waves of Marvel Legends in my years of collecting, prefering to cherry pick what characters I was interested in, and occasionally buying the BAF on the secondary market if the price was right. This Spider-Man Hobgoblin Wave just too many cool figures to pass on however, even if two or three of the characters were unfamiliar to me, The Shang-Chi is just a cool martial arts figure on his own merit, and White Rabbit to unique to not appreciate. I have the Spider-Man Special Edt. PS4, so the Gamerverse figures were of interest to me, but had not heard of Superior Octopus, whose slick design looks fantastic. All these rounded out with a classic comic-based Vulture, and it's a solid wave in my humble opinion. Check out the video:

Of honorable mention, above: Vulture with my 2016 Spider-Man Homecoming Vulture BAF.
Below: the Demogoblin BAF with my 2015 Hobgoblin BAF...

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Sunday, December 29, 2019

Looking Back: Matt Wagner's Trinity (2003), DC Direct

Matt Wagner wrote Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman: Trinity seven years before I started this blog, and I've finally gotten around to reading it here at the end of 2019. Lately I've been revisiting some of the DC Direct figures I've had on card in my collection, though I'd sold off many of them in the last three years to downsize my collection, among them three Trinity figures I never opened. Early in my action figure collecting, I was just buying what appealed visually to me, not necessarily related to the sheer volume of books I was consuming in attempt to get up to speed on all I'd missed in the years I wasn't reading comics. I'm unsure why I never bought the Superman from this series, other than I may have already bought enough other Superman figures from other series, or I couldn't get him at a price I found reasonable. At any rate, DC Direct was known for their creator/title inspired series, and they nailed it in 2008 with the release of the Trinity Series. Collectors often lamented the limited number of characters DC Direct offered, Bizarro and Artemis noticeably missing from this series. But if you could only choose four, they offered the four obvious characters, which looked fantastic.

I found a copy of Trinity for south of six dollars recently, and finally committed to getting it read all these years later. Not my first exposure to Matt Wagner, having read a Grendel book back in the '80s, the author's art style was instantly familiar to me- here, a quasi-Art Deco homage that brought to mind the Fleisher Superman cartoons of the 1940s. There's a great deal of Trinity I liked, while some of it falls short, such as the not-so-subtle fetishization of Wonder Woman in parts, to the murky purpose of Artemis in the book's plot. Wagner carries the entirety of Trinity on his own creative shoulders however, which is impressive from any angle, though the art lacks consistency that other artist's who employ similar simplistic styles employ more efficiently- Bruce Timm and Darwyn Cooke come to mind here. In fact, I'd recommend Cooke's Justice League: The New Frontier over Trinity if you are looking for a retro-styled DC book. That said, Trinity has a lot to offer, and I'm glad I finally read it. This is the second book I've read this year with Ra's Al Ghul, the other being the fantastic Batman '66 Meets Wonder Woman '77. It's been fun getting back to physical comics lately, mostly DC, after reading Marvel Unlimited on my iPad the last couple years- a trend I plan to continue in 2020.

Visit Joe Acevedo's online DC Direct Archive to see all the figures from 1999 to 2012!
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Thursday, December 26, 2019

Justice League of America #242 (1985)

Digging through the discount bins recently in my local comic shop unearthed an issue of Justice League of America with a cover I couldn't ignore. I've read more JLA from recent years, the team not even on my radar in the mid-eighties, though I was still reading comics as a young teenager. The roster interested me, some like Zatanna, Vixen, and J'onn J'onzz now familiar to me, and others such as Gypsy and Dale Gunn not as much. Also of interest was Steel and a pre-New 52 Vibe- neither of which I'd experienced.

Issue #242, "Battle Cry", finds two search parties of the JLA tracking the super-powered android Amazo in the Northwestern Canada. Unbeknownst to our heroes, the adaptive Amazo is the hunter in reality, using the powers of the JLA against them to attack with calamitous results!

Meanwhile, Aquaman searches for Mera, who left weeks ago, the loss of their son devastating the aquatic couple. tearing them apart. Finding her deep in the dark currents of the Atlantic, where they consummated their love years ago, the couple embrace, surfacing to talk out their differences in a tearful, heartfelt reunion...

After recovering from a brutal attack by Amazo earlier, Martian Manhunter and Dale Gunn regroup to pursue the android, certain their teammates would never break ranks and attack without them. They are unaware that Amazo caught the sperate parties by surprise, throwing them into a hole and entombing them with a boulder! You'll have to hunt down issue #243 to see if Aquaman returns to save them!

Of further note regarding this issue, a rather lengthy special preview of Mask is plopped right in the middle of this issue. Of interest to fans of this property most certainly, it left me wishing for more pages of JLA in what I initially thought was a thicker issue. Additioanlly, an advertisement for Crisis On Infinite Earths was tucked into the pages of this issue, which would change the landscape of DC Comics dramatically thereafter. I didn't read Crisis until around 2011, when I got back into comics after starting this blog, and began reading everything I could find in attempt to get back up to speed on what I'd missed in the years before.

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