Wednesday, September 30, 2020

MOTU Origins Beastman & Man-At-Arms

 I finally ran into more Mattel MOTU Origins at Walmart recently! If you are having a hard time finding these, fear not: according to the talking heads, Mattel will dump these into the rest of retail in 2021. There is a local Walmart tucked in a small neighborhood nearby that seems to get more of these than the other six or seven throughout the county, so I've taken to stopping in once in awhile to see what's new. Beastman and Man-At-Arms were two figures I had back in the early '80s, so I had to pick them up.

Mattel hasn't strayed far from the source material on these revitalized MOTU Origins- this newer Beastman has clenched teeth as opposed to his original open mouthed roar, but the rest is so close to the original in both sculpt detail and paint apps that it's identical at first glance. He even has the whip with it's oversized handle, a repurposed accessory from the 12" Jungle Jim figure line Mattel included with the first '82 Beastman. 

I absolutely love that Mattel had the foresight to make all the MOTU Origins modular, allowing one to swap the interchangeable parts across the line AND the Masters of the WWE figures! Below, Beastman wears the gauntlet and bottom half of my Masters of the WWE Roman Reigns...

Like Beastman, very little changed on the Origins Man-At-Arms Origins figure. Due to his newly articulated arms, the lower part of his armor on the left arm is now a separate piece, and cued by the famous Filmation animated show, Duncan now sports a mustache. Man-At-Arms was a childhood favorite, and holding him in my hands again is a nostalgia trip. 

The added hinged articulation on these figures are a welcome addition, notably the rocker joint ankles that plant the feet flat on the ground. Hinged wrists and swivels at the boot tops also make these so much more fun.

Below, Man-At-Arms and Beastman join Skeletor, He-Man, and Battle Cat in my fledgling MOTU Origins collection. There's a lot more to come from Mattel in the MOTU Origins, including a Castle Grayskull reissue I've heard! I may be able to squeeze that onto a shelf! I have so far loved this MOTU Origins line even more than I thought I would, and can't wait to see a few more. Recommended! Visit the Battle Ram Blog for a more in depth look at the vintage 1982-1988 Mattel  Masters of the Universe line. Great memories!

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Monday, September 28, 2020

Masters of the WWE Roman Reigns

While I'm not a follower of the WWE, I had been looking more closely at Mattel's Masters of the WWE line since realizing their articulation and construction are the same as the new MOTU Origins figures. I wasn't really even aware of Roman Reigns prior to seeing him in this first wave, frankly, but thought he would fit right in with my MOTU Origins.

Roman's oversized gauntlet is obviously a mash-up with Masters of the Universe character Fisto, and his chest armor and shield look right out of the MOTU aesthetic. Mattel did a fantastic job on his tattooed left arm! I love the all-black outfit, which has some great sculpt detail on the boot laces and on the figure's back. The facial portrait has a little more realistic look than the MOTU Origins characters, but they really kept the Masters of the Universe spirit in this figure especially.

Like the MOTU Origins figures, the Masters of the WWE figures come with a short mini-comic very much in the spirit of the original Masters of the Universe figures. Those first mini-comics illustrated by Alfred Alcala were much longer however, including a narrative and multiple pages of illustrated action that set my imagination alight.

Below, Roman battles my new MOTU Origins Skeletor ...!

I'm unsure how more of these Masters of the WWE figures I'd buy, but if you are into the MOTU Origins line, Roman Reigns plainly fits right into that. His fantasy-based accessories and chest armor blend well into the Masters of the Universe sword-and-sorcery vibe. Recommended!

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Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Octobriana 1976

In my ongoing search for great YouTube content on comic books, I came across Cartoonist Kafabe with Ed Piskor. and Jim Rugg, two cartoonists who have worked for larger publishers like Marvel, DC, and Image, but also have seen success as independent creators. Jim solicited his own Octobriana 1976 on Cartoonist Kafabe, published this year by Adhouse books, which bears the distinction of the world's first comic printed in fluorescent blacklight ink. It's raw graphic style and over the top action caught my attention, so I threw down for it.

Octobriana was appropriated from Check writer Petr Sadecky's 1971 book about a supposed comic book character he researched while dropping out in the '60s with the PPP (Progressive Political Pornography), who went on to appropriate the character as a symbol of anti-Soviet resistance. A pseudonym or two later, and Octobriana, Sadecky's completely fabricated character, slipped into public domain. Her different presentations brought cult status before Rugg brought his retro '70s exploitation presentation to us this year. This dynamic, colorful sprint alongside the ferocious Octobriana never stops moving, exploding with large panels and halting splash pages.

Rugg had me with the savage Octobriana, but cinched it with Robot Stalin, here a metallic Colossus whose train bound Terabomb must be stopped in pursuit of revolution for Mother Russia!

I love the style this book is drawn in, and Jim Rugg gives us a lot of big panels and splash pages that I looked at over and over again, even putting a blacklight to, where it really shined. The 2-page splash featuring Octobriana's battle with Robot Stalin was imaginative and fantastic!

I won't spoil any more of this very short 26 page issue, but the B-Movie vibe attributed in Tim Hayes review in the Comics Journal nails it on the head. I'm unsure if Jim Rugg plans to continue this series, but it has potential, even if in a limited basis. Beautiful to look at and fun! Recommended!

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Monday, September 14, 2020

DC Direct Justice League Supergirl

Produced in 2008, this Supergirl from the Justice League Series was modeled after artist Alex Ross' work, and a jewel wave by the recently dissolved collectibles company DC Direct. There has been a bit of despair among some of the action figure community regarding this development. DC Direct gave us figures faithfully rendered after the books we loved, and that's what made them special. I found this sample for twelve bucks shipped due to it's extremely distressed box.

Like a lot of DC Direct figures of this vintage, Supergirl doesn't have a great deal of articulation. but she more than makes up for it in sculpt and clean paint apps. Mine has some sort of manufacturing error in the form of a slightly extruded, unpainted peg outside her left elbow. It's minor but also idiosyncratic of the sort of issues seen from DC Direct back then. The face and hair sculpt are fantastic, though she can't move her head.  Like all the figures of this Justice League wave, Supergirl came with a deluxe base- my sample can stand without it, but this inclusion is welcome- I wish all action figures came with a base.

Below Supergirl with my other Alex Ross inspired DC Direct figure, the JSA Kingdom Come Superman. Kingdom Come (1996) was a fantastic book that really hooked me back into reading comics as an adult. Artist Alex Ross and author Mark Waid's deconstruction of the modern hero was certainly informed by Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns and Alan Moore's Watchmen, but didn't feel as cynical. Superman retained his sense of humanity and overcame- that's important to me.

According to She's Fantastic, this '70s retro hot pants Supergirl may have been inspired by Supergirl #10 (1974). Her face doens't exactly capture Alex Ross' version, but I really like her, and have had my eye on her for quite some time. I don't know if DC Direct/DC Collectibles' demise will make all their figures increase in value, but I have picked a few up in the last year and wouldn't rule out future opportunities.

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Thursday, September 10, 2020

Mattel MOTU Origins He Man, Skeletor & Battle Cat

Super 7 recently produced what appeared to be recasts of several of the original Masters of the Universe action figures from the '80s, but it was these new Mattel MOTU Origins figures that caught my eye. I had admired the 7" Classics line Mattel released a few years back, but their cost was prohibitive to the casual MOTU collector. With the Origins line, we get the look of the '80s figures with enhanced articulation at a far more attractive price. Check out the video:

Theses toys include all the accessories the original 1982 figures came with: He-Man with shield, battle axe, and sword, Skeletor with Havoc staff and sword. Like the original figures, He-Man and Skeletor's  swords snap together to form a single, complete Power Sword. Aside from slightly updated head sculpts, these figures are very true to the '82 MOTU, but with updated articulation. Even the packaging is directly revisited, Battle Cat's box brandished with great art in the spirit of '82. Visit the Battle Ram Blog for a more in depth look at the vintage 1982-1988 Mattel  Masters of the Universe line. Great memories!

Mattel has revealed a Panthor mount for Skeletor, Orko, Trapjaw, and Prince Adam with a Sky Sled, among much more forthcoming in the Origins line! I am definitely interested in getting a few more of these as they are released here in the fourth quarter, particularly a Man at Arms, Beast Man, and Scareglow! I couldn't deny the nostalgic appeal of this MOTU Origins line- recommended!

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Monday, September 7, 2020

NECA 8in. King Kong

I kept seeing this NECA classic Kong on Instagram, and bumped into one at a local Target over the weekend. As a child of the '70s, the remake starring Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange was certainly more of my era, but I was equally enthralled by the original 1933, which was groundbreaking in it's time, and possibly one of the best horror films in cinematic history. I've somehow avoided buying one of the many NECA Godzilla figures released recently, but could not pass on this Kong when the opportunity arose. And if NECA produces a '76 Kong, I'd buy that one as well. 

I don't own currently any other NECA figures, but the paint and sculpt detail on this Kong is fantastic- particularly in the mouth and teeth. Very realistic! He comes with and extra roaring head and set of hands, and has pretty good articulation. NECA's tight joints make me more than a little nervous, but he can hold a pose handily once you get him in position. Being a classic Kong, photos in black and white suit him quite well...

Above, Kong with one of my favorite action figures, my ToyBiz Marvel Legends Hulk, and below, Kong with my Playmates 10" Skull Island Kong. The Skull Island Kong is a much simpler toy, but satisfyingly large.

Kong is a great stand-alone figure for any horror fan or action figure collector- I'll enjoy pitting him against other figures in my collection, and you probably will too. Recommended!

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Thursday, September 3, 2020

Mattel Retro-Action Shazam

While I collected most of Mattel's 8" DC Retro-Action figure line that was launched a decade ago, Shazam was one I didn't have. I'd had my eye on him for awhile, disappointed by the recently revived Mego's failure to deliver on the14" Shazam solicited last year. There was a Black Adam also released by Mattel, and solicited along with the Mego 14" Shazam, ironically. Regardless, as a fan of Mego's World's Greatest Superheroes line in the '70s, I was drawn by nostalgia into Mattel's Retro-Action line in 2010, and this used sample scratched that itch again.

The first couple waves of these Retro-Action figures had unstable hip issues, but Shazam doesn't suffer from this and stands easily on his own. He has mostly solid uniform appointments, this used figures shiny cuffs a little worn at the extremities from age. The face portrait is stylistically in line with the rest of the series, and a great representation of the character. Figures Toy Company went on to release at least a couple reissues based on the original Mego Shazam, along with a ton of other DC characters, but Mattel made a valiant effort with their reimagined line of 8" Mego-like figures.

Below, Mattel 8" Retro-Action Shazam with Mattel 6" DC Universe Classics Shazam. Mattel also released a 6" Shazam figure for the 2019 film starring Zachary Levi, which I still haven't seen. I came to know the character as a child watching the Filmation live action TV show, which ran from 1974 to 1977 on CBS. Mego released an 8" Shazam during this period, but I'm unsure if I had him or not.

Above, Shazam with one of the first Mattel Retro-Action figures I got, Superman. The crooked chest insignia hasn't aged well, but this figure was integral to the genesis of this blog, and signaled my return to reading comics more as an adult. Below, Shazam with a few other Retro-Action figures I collected shortly after picking up Superman: Aquaman and Black Manta, Lex Luthor, and Flash and Captain Cold! See all these and more together in my April 2011 post, Retro-Action Retrospective!

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