Author Archives: Troy Brownfield

Super-Articulate: Your Collecting Timeline

I was posed this question by a co-worker yesterday. He asked, “How and when do you decide what to collect?” He meant specifically in terms of figures, but I suppose you can apply it to anything. I had a multi-year period where I collected baseball cards due to an increased interest I had in baseball around junior high. I’ve been getting comics nearly my entire life. But figures is an interesting question, and I think I can break that down.

First thing, I’m going to subtract just “generally getting toys” from the timeline. I had Fisher-Price Adventure People, for example, but I couldn’t say that I actively “collected” them. I’m only going to include lines that I could honestly say that I collected. (Let me clarify that the years are when I collected these series and not the dates that the lines necessarily ran).

Mego World’s Greatest Superheroes and Others (late ‘70s): I’m sketchy on the year, but the first Mego figure that I know I had was . . . Wonder Woman. I’m pretty sure my Aunt Jennie got me this, and I’m pretty sure it’s because I loved Super-Friends and Wonder Woman on TV. I could have been . . . 3, maybe? That would be 1976ish, which is about right, as Mego introduced the WW figure in 1974. Shortly after, I had Batman, Robin, Superman, Shazam!, Joker, Penguin, and Spider-Man. I’m honestly not sure why I didn’t have more Marvel. I DID, however, get three of the Mad Monsters: Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula, and The Mummy; I’m also not sure why I didn’t have the Wolf Man, as I love werewolves. I had Captain Kirk from the Star Trek line (this is the only one that my memory is fuzzy on, as I think I might have had a couple of others), a couple from Planet of the Apes, and all of the Wizard of Oz (except the Munchkins) and the Emerald City playset. A number of these were played to death, lost to time or garage sales or younger relatives. I believe I still have the Kirk somewhere as the last survivor; that’s because he doesn’t believe in the no-win scenario.

photo via MegoMuseum.com

Star Wars (1977-1984; 1995-2002ish; 2019): I’ve told this story here and elsewhere a couple of times, so I’ll keep this one brief. I was all in at the start; I even had the Early Bird Certificate. I was really consistent until I lost steam after ROTJ and stopped due to my interest in other things. When the line came back in the ‘90s, I picked up again and hung in until just after AOTC. I stopped completely until this past year when The Mandalorian re-ignited my interest, and I started filling in certain characters from the 6-inch Black Series. I kind of regret not getting on that sooner, but since I’m not approaching it as a completist, I’ll live with it.

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (1982-1987): Again, I’ve told this story, notably a much longer version in the book The Joy of Joe. I got into the 3-3/4” line early, and I was all in on both the toys and comics right up until around BattleForce 2000.

Masters of the Universe (1982-1984): A brief run, but one I should include. I really liked that Castle Grayskull playset.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons from LJN (1983-1984): A brief shining moment. I didn’t have all of them, but I had quite a few. These had great detail and should have stuck around longer.

Transformers (1984-1986): I was never a completist, and mostly done in 1985. I got a handful in 1986, including the Aerielbots and Hot Rod (which I got after the movie). My favorite from the line remains Jetfire.

Super Powers (1984-1986): Definitely not complete (I refer you to the previously discussed Mister Miracle and Cyborg), but I loved this line and would have certainly gotten more if they’d gone into the proposed Teen Titans, Blue Devil, and more.

THE LAYOFF (1987-1991): I quit collecting for a few years spanning junior high and in to the senior year of high school or so. The absence was due to a variety of reasons: lack of interest, concentrating on comics, lack of money, sudden upturn in the ability to secure dates, school activities, hanging out with bands, and so on. But the thing that really brought me back, outside of a stray pick-up here or there, was when the Toy Biz X-Men line launched in 1991.

Marvel/X-Men/Spider-Man/etc. (1991 to Now, really): I am a nearly lifelong X-Men fan. Seeing them get figures ahead of the animated series brought me back. And when I went in, I went in all the way. With a brief break for the cessation of Marvel Legends a decade ago, I’ve pretty much been in the tank ever since. I narrowed my focus over time to the 6-inch Legends, and they comprise the bulk of my collecting today.

Star Trek (Playmates; 1992-1996 or so): I told the story of my girlfiend (now wife) hunting down the original Deanna Troi figure for me. I was definitely into this for a good bit, picking up a lot of ST:TNG, DS9, and TOS figures. I stopped around Voyager due to a combo of burnout, the return of Star Wars, and my ongoing focus on comics figures.

Spawn/Youngblood/Wetworks (1994-1996): Like seemingly everyone else that started getting McFarlane Toys, I was drawn in by the details and the chance to get characters from an exciting new publisher. My favorites were the Wetworks figures (again, love that Werewolf). I stepped away from these as I lost interest in the comics themselves.

Total Justice/JLA (1996-1999): I really wanted a DC line in the ‘90s that was comparable to the Toy Biz Marvel avalanche. This was a decent, brief attempt. It got extended into comic shops and TRU exclusivity (loved the “hard light” evil versions of the JLA based on the “Rock of Ages” comic arc) and actually did Connor Hawke (MIA in action figure form ever since).

DC Direct (1998-2010ish): I loved DC Direct for a good, long while. There were some maddening bits (scale inconsistency, an unwillingness to finish teams), but there were some truly great character selections that we’ll possibly never see again (Enemy Ace? Tim Hunter? The Authority? Spider Jerusalem? Jericho?). For a kid that always wanted JSA and Legion figures, this line was a partial dream come true. I ultimately ditched it due to character repetition, increasing prices, and a more enjoyable experience collecting DCUC and doing the C+C figures with my kids.

Wrestling (WCW/Toy Biz 1998-2001; WWF/E:1998-2001ish): Like millions (and millions) of people, I was very into wrestling for a time at the turn of the century. I’d watched a lot in the mid ‘80s, gone away from it, and picked it back up watching Nitro rebroadcasts while working the late shift of a publisher. (I was working 3pm to 11:30pm, and TNT would rerun the show after I got off work.) Soon after, I was watching both WWF/E and WCW, and soon after that, the Toy Biz WCW figures hit. I got interested for a while, but my collecting of the figures faded as a I watched less and less.

Dragonball Z (circa 2000-2007): Similar time frame, similar story. Started watching DBZ on Toonami. The show had an incredible array of characters and I really enjoyed it. I got these for a good while, including the DB and GT spin-off lines, but I tapered off when they did.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel (2000ish-2006): Again, you love a show and you might buy the figures. I really feel like these could have gone on longer, as there are a number of characters that never quite made it (seriously, where the hell was Gunn? Or Connor or Gwen Raiden or Harmony or Nina?). I stopped just ahead of them releasing Kennedy and Kendra, which I never picked up.

Gundam (2001-2003): Stop me if you’re heard this one before. But I started watching Gundam Wing, and . . . yeah. I got A TON of these as I started writing for Newtype USA and watching more and more Gundam series. I didn’t list it, but I picked some up in “Japan” at EPCOT a couple of years ago.

Lord of the Rings (2001-2005): Loved the book for years. Loved the animation. Loved the movies. I thought that the figures were great. I didn’t get the tail-end variants or the Eye of Sauron, but I did get the trolls, the horses and warg, and the fell beast. I regret that a different company got the license for The Hobbit films; I never did get any of those, and they never completed the dwarves.

Justice League (2003-2009ish): One of the greatest animated series of all times turned out a line of great-looking figures that had a really hard time standing up. I burned out when they started doing more and more direct exclusives, etc., but I did get the Grundy and Giganta. I gave all of these to my boys.

DC Universe Classics (2007-2012): You know something? I loved this line. I thought it was a worthy compliment to Marvel Legends and the Collect + Connect figures were among the first things that my sons contributed to helping with where my collection is concerned. The character selection overall was great and Mattel deployed some boxed sets in clever ways to get us characters like the Crime Syndicate. One of my favorite things ever is the Legion of Super-Heroes boxed set. It was a drag when they had to go the subscription model, but I stuck with it the whole time (and with Club Black Freighter, too). I know they tried to continue the idea with DC Multiverse, and I have more than a couple of those as a companion to these, but they just weren’t quite the same. This is a lamented line for me.

CURRENTLY: Marvel Legends and certain Star Wars: The Black Series (6-inch scale only). I will pick up occasional DC figures that hit a spot that’s not covering on my shelf (come on with the classic Dawnstar, McFarlane).

All right, readers. What about you? What are your main lines? How long? What’s the line you collected the longest that you eventually quit, and why? Let’s talk.

Super-Articulate: This is the Way

Just last week, I wrote in my piece on “Toy Grails” how I was a big fan of Star Wars toys from the word “go.” If you allow me to quote myself, I led off the Jawas section with . . .

I was born in 1973. The first movie I clearly remember seeing in the theatre is Star Wars. And I was ALL IN. My parents got me the Early Bird Certificate package. I got the first four (Luke, Leia, Chewie, and R2). When the figures got to the Zayre in Terre Haute, IN, they had a freaking rope-line and a 3-to-a-person limit. My mom took me and I’m pretty sure I got Han, Vader, and C3PO first. Mom went back later that evening and picked up Obi-Wan, the Tusken, and a Stormtrooper. The Death Squad Commander happened later in the week, if I’m not mistaken. But . . . there were those damn Jawas. Not only did we not get the Jawas right away, it was weeks. When Mom finally ran across them, she bought two out of spite.

I was pretty hardcore from then onto the early stages of the Return of the Jedi figures. By 1983 into 1984, my attention was divided between Star Wars, G.I. Joe: ARAH, Super Powers, and Transformers. I didn’t pick up the rest of the Jedi figures, dropping out at around the 77-backs, and I got zero of the “Power of the Force” range. When the figures returned in the mid-‘90s, so did I. Adult collector me got plenty of figures and vehicles up through AOTC. By that point, I’d hit burn-out again. When The Black Series began, I almost got back in. Recently, I did, part of that spurred by the recent films and the arrival on Disney+ of The Mandalorian.

Before we go any further, I would like to thank Hasbro for providing the Mandalorian, Cara Dune, and Supreme Leader Kylo Ren figures free for the purposes of review; the Best Buy exclusive Heavy Infantry Mandalorian and IG-11 figures were my own purchases.

The Black Series in general: If you don’t know, The Black Series encompasses 6-inch figures (in a comparable style to Marvel Legends, with the increased detail and articulation), 3.75” figures (dubbed the “Vintage” style, given their equal size to the original Star Wars line), vehicles, Force FX Lightsabers, and Helmets. My personal preference is for the 6-inch scale, as the bulk of my collecting since the late ‘90s has turned in that direction. Which brings us to today, and these very recent figures . . .

The Mandalorian: Presently sold out on HasbroPulse but available on Amazon (for a mark-up) and for regular-priced pre-order at various fan-channel outlets, the star of the new hit series comes in his original set of armor from the first couple of episodes. Right out of the box, this is a GREAT figure. It gets a number of little details just right, including the Mandalorian sigil on the shoulder. The poseability is pretty strong and it has a great overall look. The two accessories are his blaster and disintegration-rifle (great for wiping out Jawa figures). The blaster fits into the sculpted on holster (with can be latched and unlatched) and the rifle can attach to the figures back. The little bits of wear and damage on the armor enhance the overall look a great deal. It simply looks very cool. I totally expect that we’ll see a new version in the updated armor in the very near future; that makes this one a pretty solid grab for historical purposes, aside from just being well-done.

Cara Dune: Presently sold out on HasbroPulse but available on Amazon (for a mark-up) and for regular-priced pre-order at various fan-channel outlets, while also still appearing in major retailer re-stocks, like Walmart, the Cara Dune figure faced a little bit more of a challenge in that it needs to capture the likeness of actress/kicker of real-life and fictional asses Gina Carano. Dune has become a bit of a fan-favorite since her debut, and I don’t think the figure is letting them down. Aside from doing solid work with the likeness, it’s just another cool looking figure. The tattoos are TV-accurate, the costume detail is present, and, like Mando, there’s a workable holster. Dune comes with her repeating rifle, blaster pistol, and a dagger. I find the color work to be pretty nice, and I appreciate the little armor blemishes that given the character a lived-in look. As you know from my various Marvel Legends reviews, I’m interested in Hasbro’s increasing facility for doing hair well on the figures; I think they did another good job here in capturing Dune’s style. Mando and the forthcoming Child figure would be cool by themselves, but I feel like Cara Dune is pretty essential to a good collection of this iteration of the Star Wars galaxy. The figure is made well, looks great, and is, yes, very cool.

IG-11: I always dug IG-88 from the day, so I thought it was fairly awesome that we’d see a similar droid in action; the fact that he’s voiced by Taika Waititi only increased my interest. While not precisely as dynamic as the other two, it’s still a damn good version of the character with enough bits to make it appealing to a variety of collectors. As noted, this is a Best Buy exclusive and still available as of this writing. While the character does, out of design necessity, have some limited poseability, it does have arm joints that allow the arms to extend straight out to the sides as they did in the shootout from the first episode of the series as well as elbow, knee, and ankle joints. It comes with a blaster pistol and blaster rifle which are styled with peg-holes to be held by specific hands (see the pictures). There’s also a holster on the back and bandolier straps. It has, thus far, not self-destructed on my shelf.

Heavy Infantry Mandalorian: Let me get this straight right now. I really, really like those first three figures, but this guy is fairly incredible. You can tell the character made an impression on the show and in figure form because he’s currently sold out at Best Buy and getting higher and higher prices on eBay. This dude is just great. So, the main accessory is the jetpack with the attached heavy blaster and a line that can plug into the flamethrower on the left hand. The figure has some size and bulk to it, and the color and detail work are just fantastic. I hope for the sake of the people that didn’t get it on the first go-round that it gets a re-release, because this is top-notch work all-around.

Supreme Leader Kylo Ren: Still in theatres in SW:TROS, this is the Kylo from early in the film. The figure has the fused mask that the character dons in the movie, giving it a distinctive look from previous Ren figures. You also get a detachable pair of hood accessories; both attach to the cape with different “hood up” and “hood down” looks. Hasbro also included an ignited and unignited saber, with should honestly be a regular thing for Jedi/Sith figures. The larger cape itself is detachable, and you can see the varied articulation better that way. The tunic is well-sculpted with some detail suggests both a leathery look and feel. I think I might prefer this one without the cape, but I haven’t quite decided yet. Regardless, it’s another fine figure of a major character.

Hasbro has the new generation of Star Wars characters (and fans) well in hand with these releases. With The Child up for pre-order and Toy Fair just around the corner, I’m pretty sure we’ll be seeing more Mandalorian offerings in the very near future. I know that there’s already vocal fans that want to see Kuiil, Greef Karga, Fennec Shand, and Werner Herzog (I mean The Client) represented, and you’d have to be crazy to not want a figure of The Armorer. I have a spoken.

Super-Articulate: Your Toy Grail

Every collector has one. Maybe it’s an individual figure or a vehicle or a playset. But everyone has that one thing that has either remained elusive or became a defining piece in their collection. I’m going to talk about a few of mine, and I invite you to join in with yours.

My Original Quest: Jawas

I was born in 1973. The first movie I clearly remember seeing in the theatre is Star Wars. And I was ALL IN. My parents got me the Early Bird Certificate package. I got the first four (Luke, Leia, Chewie, and R2). When the figures got to the Zayre in Terre Haute, IN, they had a freaking rope-line and a 3-to-a-person limit. My mom took me and I’m pretty sure I got Han, Vader, and C3PO first. Mom went back later that evening and picked up Obi-Wan, the Tusken, and a Stormtrooper. The Death Squad Commander happened later in the week, if I’m not mistaken. But . . . there were those damn Jawas. Not only did we not get the Jawas right away, it was weeks. When Mom finally ran across them, she bought two out of spite. Those Jawas were my first experience with both a difficult hunt and the (honestly unobtainable) idea that you’re one perfect figure away from a complete set.

I was pretty fortunate in terms of Star Wars playsets and vehicles. I had the Death Start playset, and a number of ships, including the Falcon. But one thing my parents drew the line at was the AT-AT. That was a disappointment, because I, like many others, loved that thing. When Star Wars figures returned in the ‘90s, I said, “If they make the AT-AT again, it’s coming home.” They did . . . and it did.

Super Powers Collection: Wonder Woman, then incompletion

Of the original 12, I had a stunningly hard time finding Wonder Woman. I remember getting Flash and Green Lantern first, and the others fell into place, but that Wonder Woman hung out there forever. I remember eventually finding it in a K-Mart, just in time for the second wave to hit. Series 2 left me Kalibak-less, and Series 3 was just a massive pain in the ass. The few I got I didn’t get until my late teens or adulthood, and Mister Miracle and Cyborg never joined the ranks.

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero: Come on, you know . . .

I had A LOT of Joe stuff. I mean, A LOT. I even wrote about it in The Joy of Joe. But one thing that I, and many others, never had was the 7.5 feet of glory known as the U.S.S. Flagg. It barely would have fit in my room back then. Just the idea that it existed was fairly audacious on the part of Hasbro. I always considered this one a great lost opportunity. If you had it, good on you. And send us pictures.

U.S.S. Flagg

Star Trek: The Next Generation by Playmates: A Love Story

It’s a familiar story (hell, I’ve told it twice in this column). You’re trying to put together a wave, and one figure remains elusive. At this point, it was the first wave of the ST:TNG figures from Playmates. I didn’t have much trouble putting together the first nine, but Counselor Deanna Troi seemed lost in the wild. In January of 1993, as a sophomore in college, I started dating Rebecca Marie Jones. A couple of weeks after that, she went home for the weekend and she and her mother ended up at a craft/antique fair at a local mall. When she came back Sunday night, she had Deanna Troi. I always say that’s how I knew she was the one; we’ve been married almost 20 years and have two teenage boys. I told that story on Twitter once, and Marina Sirtis herself liked it, which is awesome. To this day, Becky will still text me from Walgreens and what-not, checking if I have something in particular or if I’d like her to look for something. That’s love, kids. (Thank you, Becky.) There have been others over time, sure. But it’s hard to beat that one.

Star Trek: The Next Generation by Playmates

How about you, campers? What are your grails? You Ark-like finds and the ones that got away? Let’s hear it. And thanks for reading.

Super-Articulate: The Marvel Legends Alpha Flight Boxed Set

They first appeared as antagonists. They came back as tentative allies. And they were the SECOND team spun off from X-Men into an ongoing series (New Mutants was first). They are Alpha Flight, and they finally came together in Marvel Legends form with the release of the Amazon exclusive boxed set.

Alphans got some figural representation in the ‘90s in the old Toy Biz line. In a series of two-packs, you got Vindicator, Snowbird, Northstar, Aurora, Sasquatch, and Puck. Guardian was a ToyFair exclusive. But no Shaman or Marinna. Flash-forward to Marvel Legends. We’ve gotten two versions of Guardian and Sasquatch; the most recent depictions were the Sasquatch BAF in the Deadpool assortment and the Guardian from this year’s Wendigo assortment. There was also a Puck BAF in an incredibly hard-to-find Wolverine assortment from several years back. But finally, five unmade-as-Legends Alphans and Puck get their new due in this set.

Let’s start with this. I love Alpha Flight. This boxed set was my favorite figure thing of 2019. The fact that all of these characters can congregate on a shelf in Legends form is a big deal to me. (Note to Hasbro: Marinna, Talisman, and a Box BAF soon, please.) I think that they did a great job overall, and I’m glad this exists.

Individual figures, then:

Vindicator: I’m going to start with a minor knock, first. I wish that the red used on Vindicator and the red used on Guardian matched up. Apart from that, this is a really solid job. Great work on the head, goggles, and ponytail.  Color quibble aside, the paint op is good and the figure stands easily despite what could be a weight imbalance from the head. It’s pretty striking and looks cool next to Guardian.

Snowbird: Speaking of overcoming a weight imbalance from the head . . . Snowbird has a mass of well-defined blonde hair and that headpiece to contend with, but the figure still stands well. Nice work on the cape and the somewhat shiny finish. The only bummer is that there weren’t any included “transformation animals.”

Puck: I think this is an improvement over the original BAF. The face is great; it looks just like John Byrne’s original art. I discovered that I could pose him in a handstand, too, which is great. If you’re not aware, the character was frequently depicted like that or in mid-roll. I dig it.

Shaman: Welcome to figurehood, Michael Twoyoungmen. Again, this is pretty great. A completely accurate version of the original look of the character. I realize it’s the job of the sculpting team to capture a character’s likenesses, but I’m particularly impressed overall with this set. They really nailed the look in each individual case.

Aurora: I saw one Aurora online that had an off-center eye paint application. Mine is fine, although this is a small plastic flaw on the figure’s right cheek. That aside, it’s another strong entry. The black and white pops on both Jeanne-Marie and her twin. And yes, the hair is excellent.

Northstar: The OG Alphan and later X-Man looks quite here. I think that the face is about as good as Puck’s in terms of catching that Byrne flair. Like Aurora, solid coloration on the black and white.

The best feature of the group, for me, is when they’re assembled together. For purposes of the team photo, I used the original ML Sasquatch as opposed to the BAF (mainly because I like that this Walter looks a lot like the cover of #10 from the original series. I did, however, use the new Guardian.

What do you think, readers? I thought this box was a great addition to the line and I wouldn’t object to seeing more boxed sets used to fill out teams (the New Warriors would be a great candidate; also 80s/90s Avengers like Monica Rambeau as Captain Marvel, Quasar, Sersi, etc.) Thanks for reading!

Super-Articulate: Year-End Round-Up

Hell of a year for toys, right? We’ve seen some crazy stuff. Marvel Legends and Star Wars Black continue to boom. The end of DC Multiverse has come for Mattel; McFarlane gets the DC license for next year to add to their prodigious portfolio (including Harry Potter), while Imaginext and DC Super Hero Girls continue at Mattel. International companies and Funko are more popular than ever, and companies like NECA and Mezco continue to drive out high-end licensed goods. And that’s just the surface, really.

I want to take some time today to address what I see as the Best and Bummers about collecting this year. Ready to go?

Hasbro Logo

BEST: HASBRO PULSE

Hasbro’s site upgrade does a tremendous service to fans. It has pre-orders, exclusives, and the chance to sign on for Haslab projects. There’s free shipping for members, and the prices generally equal in-store pricing, if not lower. The design is also clean and easy to use. And I’ve never experienced lag, even when the Baby Yoda stuff went up yesterday. It’s very well-done.

BEST: ARMY BUILDER IN ONE

It’s not a totally new idea, as Marvel Legends has packed in alternate heads that “make” a new figure in the past (notably, Madcap with Deadpool or Hammerhead with Chameleon). But they leveled up with Dani Moonstar (more in a minute) by including two extra heads and two sets of hands to allow one body to become three characters (Dani, Karma, and Wolfsbane). This idea is extending with the Stepford Cuckoos, and it’s really clever in execution. If it were possible to have them be a little easier to find, I can think of a few other Marvel instances where this could be appropriate, from male New Mutants to alien Nova Corps members to a wider span of masked/unmasked options.

BUMMER: VHTF

In the past, the Marvel Legends Walgreens exclusives have been generally easy to obtain. That changed with Emma Frost. From phantom and disappearing orders on the website to a general lack of the figures ever showing up in some stores, it was a real pain in the ass to find Emma. It got even worse with Dani Moonstar. Here’s hoping that Walgreens manages the process better in the new year with the Stepford Cuckoos. Giving them a separate item number in the database would be a great start.

BEST: DC MULTIVERSE GOES OUT BIG

Even though it was the last year for the line, Mattel managed to knock out some of the best figures of their entire run this year. The Rebirth Titans (Beast Boy, Nightwing, Wally West, Starfire) were all very good, as were the surprising KGBeast and the wonderfully multi-headed Alfred. I’m very interested to see what McFarlane does, because they have some big shoes to fill for DC in the mass market.

BUMMER: DEAD DC

It appears that previously previewed DC Multiverse figures like the Mammoth collect-and-connect and Green Lantern Simon Baz will never come out. And that’s too bad.

BEST: FUNKO CHARACTER SELECTION

Good on Funko for staying on top of making virtual anything. Marvel? DC? Star Wars? PBS Hosts? Horror icons? Musicians? All in incredible varieties? There’s barely a property you can think of that DOESN’T have a line of Funkos to go with it.

How about you, readers? What are your Best and Bummers for 2019? What are you looking forward to the most in 2020? Thanks for reading.

Super-Articulate: Marvel Legends Havok & Polaris 2-Pack

Hey, we’re back! After a bit of an overlong holiday break, I return! Before we get to the main event, I’m going to drop one picture of . . .

Marvel Legends Dani Moonstar: Okay, campers. I’ve found ONE so far. I think the base figure looks great, but I resolve to not do a full review until I find TWO MORE and can build Karma and Wolfsbane. This is my quest! (And if you’re in area that’s abundant, let me know.)

That said . . .

Marvel Legends Havok and Polaris 2-pack: First shown at cons over the summer and announced as a fan-channel exclusive, this two-pack captures Havok and Polaris in their 1991 X-Factor (originally written by Peter David with art by Larry Stroman) looks from the “Mutant Genesis” relaunch. I ordered mine as soon as they went up on Entertainment Earth in July; I got mine a couple of days ago. It’s worth the wait. Interestingly, the package is stylized after the much loved Jim Lee X-Men trading card set, with the cards replicated on the back.

As for the figures?

Hey, these are great. I’ve always liked Havok’s various black costumes, but I also thought that this was a cool take. The jacket is nicely sculpted, almost like it could be a separate removeable piece. The head sculpt is terrific, honestly. There’s also something about the general stance of the figure that’s pretty cool. I had no problem with posing or limb-movement, and it’s well-balanced for standing. The figure comes with a fair of the familiar energy blast accessories; these happen to be yellow.

When it comes to Polaris, the hair really stands out. I know it’s probably almost a running joke at this point, but I’ve been really paying attention to the fine detail in the hair sculpting that Hasbro has gotten into with the Legends. Lorna’s hair was definitely a huge part of her character and depiction in Stroman’s art (and later, when the book was drawn by some guy named Joe Quesada). What’s kind of impressive is that the well-rendered mass of curls doesn’t imbalance the figure in any way. That’s kind of a feat of structural engineering. In fact, the overall look of the figure is really strong. Unlike Havok, Polaris comes with two sets of hands: fists and gesturing. I prefer the gesturing look, and they work with the green energy blasts that also accompany the figure.

I found the costume paint and details to be strong on both. These are good looks. They also arrive at an opportune time; with recent releases of Multiple Man and an updated Quicksilver, and a Strong Guy BAF on the way, we only need a Wolfsbane in the X-Factor costume to complete that particular iteration of the group.

Bottom line: This is a really good two-pack that gives us two solid versions of characters sporting their looks from a time when literally millions of people were reading the X-titles. This release was an easy call for Hasbro to make and they did a really nice job with it. The great thing about X-figures is that you can continue to go up and down the time continuum and make figures from various eras, and you’ll always find a group of fans that vocally supports their release. Now if we could just get Storm in her Giant-Size X-Men #1 outfit . . .

Super-Articulate: To Haslab or Hasnot?

Hasbro logo

Greetings, campers. As you know, Hasbro embarked on a couple of ambitious fundraisers this year with the Jabba’s Sail Barge and Unicron on their Haslab crowdfunding platform. Both succeeded, which is no surprise. However, the Marvel collectors out there have begun to discuss in earnest the idea of what Marvel Legends thing a Haslab project might try to bring to life. Let’s look at some potential suspects.

1. The Blackbird

X-Men Blackbird

Obviously, a Marvel Legends vehicle would be a rather large thing. If you wanted to put together a Blackbird that had seating to accommodate multiple figures, you’re likely talking three feet in length at least, not to mention wingspan, etc. However, this is sort of in line with the Sail Barge. The problem with a vehicle devoted to one specific team is that you have to bank on enough people wanting to back it to make it happen. Of course, the X-Men have that fanbase, so it’s a distinct possibility.

2. A Quinjet

See above. The real question here would be if they attempted an MCU-style vehicle or the classic comic-style Quinjet. The comic style might be a little easier to pull off; it’s not as wide as the film version and has more of a basic, compact shape. The advantage of the Blackbird is that it looks very similar in comics, animation, and film, partially due to being based on the real SR-71. With the Quinjet, it’s had a couple of different looks that are fairly divergent. It would be cool, but a lot of it depends on the style.

3. Master Mold

There have been a few versions of Master Mold, and they come down to “really big ass Sentinel” in some cases. However, the Master Mold is the Sentinel that produces OTHER Sentinels, so the idea of a Master Mold with the open chest cavity that you can pull BAF Sentinel parts from sounds awesome. In the recent House of X/Powers of X run, we saw a new iteration, Mother Mold, which is a giant head as part of another machine/satellite. While that’s wildly cool, it might not be the thing.

4. The Danger Room

I see this as pretty viable. A Danger Room could be part diorama, part series of traps/accessories that you can plug into a mostly featureless room. An exemplary version would include a control room as well. But I really like the idea of a customizable Danger Room bristling with flames, buzzsaws, spikes, and more.

X-Men Danger Room

5. Asgard

I’d see this as a playset combination of the Throne Room, Yggdrasil, and a Bifrost component. It would make a great display area for the rather large number of Asgardians we’ve gotten in the past few years (but still no Warriors Three or Balder. For to shame, Hasbro).

6. Stark Tower (or Hall of Armors)

There have been a lot of calls for some variation of Stark Tower, Avengers Tower, or even Avengers Mansion (I think that the class Buffy Library playset could even be a good inspiration for how to execute the Mansion). That said, I think that an actual Hall of Armors would kill in the fundraising stage. Both the miniatures and the Lego versions were popular. Picture a Hall of Armors/Tony’s workshop with the first-ever Marvel Legends version of Dum-E included. It would also be a cool place to include a couple of offbeat armors that haven’t been made previously as exclusive ML figures, like Mark XXXVIII (aka Igor).

7. Four Freedoms/Reed’s Lab

This one speaks for itself. A room with crazy Kirbyesque machines and a Negative Zone portal. What’s not to love?

8. Krakoa

When I say Krakoa, I’m NOT saying the current island home of the mutants, although I would advocate for the inclusion of a Krakoa Gate. I’m talking about Giant-Sized X-Men #1 Krakoa in all of its huge Lovecraftian glory. Picture setting that up and covering that sumbitch in X-Men. Glorious.

Giant Size X-Men Krakoa

What about you, readers? Do you have your own Haslab ideas? What do you think of Haslab in the first place? Did you back the Sail Barge or Unicron? Sound off, and let’s talk.

Super-Articulate: Marvel Legends Con Reveals and More

Over the past few weeks, the international conventions have been getting their share of Marvel Legends reveals. MCM London Comic Con, Paris Comic-Con, and, in just the past few hours, Lucca Comics and Games 2019 in Italy, have all dropped ML knowledge for eager fans. We’ll do a brief recap and see if we can figure out what this might mean going forward.

London: The BAF for the impending FF was revealed as a long-awaited Super Skrull. As a bonus, the figure has regular arms in addition to two combined power-effects arms (one stretchy/invisible; the other rocky/ablaze). We also got a look the classic Iron Man villain Spymaster, which is awesome; you know I love villains (and particularly obscure villains).

Paris: Another BAF was revealed here, with another long-awaited villain dropping into the previously announced Spider-Man wave. That BAF is Demogoblin, with appropriately burning glider. This has been on a lot of wishlists for a long time, so it’s great to see it finally make it. A second reveal was a new, updated Winter Soldier.

Lucca: While details are pending, two exclusives and a regular figure were shown. The exclusives were a new Crossbones, a new Age of Apocalypse Sunfire, and an Age of Apocalypse Wild Child.

What It Means: I like to look for patterns in releases, and one thing that the patterns are telling me is that Hasbro is more than happy to revisit the ‘80s and ‘90s. The Retro figures are one indication, but the combine X-lines are another. While the renewed emphasis on X-teams has picked up in the last couple of years, you can really see them getting comprehensive, especially with the X-Force characters, New Mutants (even as exclusives, grrrr), and even the Alpha Flight boxed set by extension. This suggests to me that we’ll see more of these teams continue to be filled out, hopefully with characters like Siryn, Rictor, and more.

My one concern there is having certain characters left out of overlooked. I love, love, love the Alpha Flight effort, but I’m concerned about Marinna. Marinna seems like a perfect fan-channel exclusive character, so I hope that she’s not left out. Similarly, the use of Wolfsbane as an alternate head and hands for the Walgreens Dani Moonstar makes me question how she’ll end up for X-Factor, as she’s the last of the ‘90s Mutant Genesis team to be made in that uniform. By extension, I wonder about the more obscure Feral, who, at this writing, is the last of the original seven X-Force members that hasn’t been made. (Don’t come at me on Siryn; she joined in #4). On the upside, the willingness of Hasbro to make characters like Spymaster make me feel like they’ll be willing to go all in on finishing these teams.

Another inclination I have is to think that Winter Soldier and Spymaster will be in the Black Widow assortment. I’ve kind of anticipated that the grouping will have Widow, Yelena, Red Guardian, Taskmaster, and hopefully an Ursa Major BAF. These two characters would make sense in that.

On the Spidey tip, I’m wild about the inclusion of White Rabbit. I love the obscure villains and she’s got a great look. I hope that it continues the trend of Spidey side-characters, as her inclusion is a great doorway for Spidey supporting characters like Frog-Man, Rocket Racer (there’s already a skateboard sculpt), and more. Similarly, Demogoblin and the comic return/upcoming movie focus on Carnage would pave the way for “Maximum Carnage” supporting characters like Shriek and Carrion.

All that said, here’s some things I’d like to see more of in the short and long terms:

‘80s/’90s Avengers: Quasar, Doctor Druid, classic Monica Rambeau in Captain Marvel outfit, Living Lightning, etc. Also, let’s get the Swordman, the last Avenger from the ‘60s to not have a figure.

New Warriors: The door is open. Let’s see Speedball, Namorita, Justice, and FIRESTAR.

GOTG: Two levels here. I think most people want to see the rest of the OG Guardians to join Vance Astro, especially since an original Yondu sculpt happened in the 3.75” line. But there are a lot of missing comics Guardians, too, like Moondragon, Phyla-Vell, Bug, and more.

The Inhumans: We need that Karnak and Lockjaw, Hasbro.

I could go on (and on and on and on), but those seem like viable things to me. What about you, readers?

AND NOW . . . Something Different.

As you might imagine, I frequent a lot of collecting groups. At Marvel Legends Collectors on FB, I ran across an awesome set of diorama photos from Roven Matthew Servando from Iloilo City, Philippines. Roven Matthew’s piece is an incredible diorama from the finale of Avengers: Endgame. You can see it pictured here. I asked Roven a few basic questions about his process.

Super-Articulate: Roven, would you mind telling us briefly what you used to create it?

Roven Matthew Servando: First, I used some cheap styro for the base. Then when I’m done, I cover it with tissues. Then, I mixed water and glue. I used it for the covered tissues and I leave it for 2 days to get dry. And when it’s dry, I used black and white paint. For the details and ruined effects, I just bought some cheap baskets and I cut it into pieces. And some simple materials: Superglue, sands, small rocks. And some of my old car toys, I also cut into pieces. You can find some of the details had ruined wheels. (laughs)

Super-Articulate: That’s excellent. I love the look of this. Did you use anything special for the red and yellow lights?

Roven Matthew Servando: I just covered it with some of my baskets that I cut into pieces. So that it wouldn’t really pop off the lights.

All photos credited to Roven Matthew Servando.

I think we should make a semi-regular feature out of this, gang. If you have great dioramas or displays that you’d like to show in the column, hit me up on Twitter @troybrownfield. Thanks for reading!

Super-Articulate: Marvel Legends Catch-Up – Emma Frost, Agent Anti-Venom, Korg, and More!

How do you do, fellow kids? It’s been pretty busy on the action figure front lately, and there’s a lot of tracking down to do. As of this writing, I haven’t been fortunate enough to happen across one Walgreens Dani Moonstar (let alone three), but I did get ahold of the previously MIA Walgreens Emma Frost. Additionally, my Agent Anti-Venom arrived from Hasbro Pulse, and I got around to picking up two of the two-packs in the wild as they got their deep discount at Walmart. Let’s take a look at all of that.

Emma Frost: No question; this is a top-notch figure. Great design, great sculpt. I know some fans want a classic Hellfire Emma (and I’m one of them), but THIS one is terrific. The figure comes with two heads (one with a more modern cut while the other sports a look more akin to her Hellfire/GenX days) and two sets of hands (gesturing, fists). I vastly prefer the gesturing hands; not only are they nice work in a tiny space, but they’re character appropriate, approximating the way that artists pose Emma in the comics when she uses her powers. The swoop of the cape is well done, and all of the small details in the costume are well-realized. My sole complaint is that she can be a bit difficult to stand with the nature of her heeled boots. Overall, though, this is good work and a continued indication that Hasbro is committed to quality in their exclusives, just like they are in the regular lines.

Agent Anti-Venom: Yes, this is basically Agent Venom with a flipped paint job. But here’s the thing. It looks cool. IT. JUST. LOOKS. COOL. And if we can’t occasionally pick something up just because it looks cool, then why are we toy collectors? I happen to think that the black-on-white layout looks awesome, and it actually makes details pop that were hard to see in the original, darker versions. The accessories are basically the same, with the two pairs of guns and the pseudopod attachment. I really like it, and I’m sticking to that.

Luis/Ghost two-pack: I was frankly delighted when they announced Luis. Michael Peña has been a great value-add to the MCU, and it’s great to see supporting characters get some love. Ghost was also a great choice. The accessories here run from interesting to fun. The extra unmasked head and attachable hood make perfect sense for Ghost. The larger ant (presumably from an Altoids tin) and the shrunken Pym lab are the perfect kind of whimsical touches you’d associate with these sub-franchise. As for the sculpting, the facial likenesses are solid on both; Luis has the grin you’d expect, and the unmasked Ghost head captures some of the exhaustion that Hannah John-Kamen got across in her performance. This is a really nice two-pack. I just had to take a “No te gusta Moz?!?” picture with Luis, as well.

The Grandmaster/Korg two-pack: I’m not quite sure why Hasbro went with two Thor: Ragnarok two-packs instead of just going with another assortment with something like a Surtur BAF, but that was their decision. The other two-pack (Hela/Skurge) is still out there, but I’ve only picked up this one so far due to my long-standing (back to Planet Hulk) love of Korg. The Korg figure here is terrific from top to bottom; it has a great facial expression and loads of texture. His blaster-club is really accurate. It’s just a (wait, don’t say it) rock-solid design. As for the Grandmaster, he is appropriately Goldblum. I’m consistently impressed that Hasbro has gotten better and better with likenesses over time in their cinematic lines. The color palette of the figure is well-considered, and the melter-stick is another fine accessory. It’s another good set. Also, buying the two 2-packs at the same time gave me an opportunity for a “Piss off, Ghost!” photo.

There we go, gang. Some of the latest Legends. What are you getting? How are your exclusive hunts going? Let’s talk about it.

Super-Articulate: DC Multiverse Killer Croc Assortment

THIS . . . is a big one. Quite simply one of the best assortments that Mattel has released since the advent of DC Multiverse, the Killer Croc wave is almost everything that you’d want out of a Batman grouping. Let’s dig in. But first: thank you to Mattel for providing us with these figures free for the purposes of review. First up . . .

Red Robin (Tim Drake): I’m glad Tim got out as Red Robin before the Drake name change. (No sir, I do not like it). DC Multiverse has done a great job getting to Rebirth characters, and I’ve been really pleased with the attention paid to the excellent Detective Comics run. I think that Red Robin looks pretty great. The RR logo is easy to read. The cape is pretty solid. Also, the staff is well done. This figure has a pretty great face sculpt, too; that’s a grim and determined expression right there. I’m kind of surprised that it took until this deep in the line to get to him, but hey, I’m happy he’s here.

Red Hood (Jason Todd): This is the figure that I struggle with the most in the assortment. I’m definitely glad that it exists, but I’m equally bummed that the pistols are sculpted into the gun belt and can’t be removed. That’s a swing and a miss. The rest of the figure itself is pretty good. I like the jacket existing as a separate piece over the torso. The Red Hood helmet sculpt is okay, but the masked Jason head is great. This particular figure has some of the best paint work in the assortment; I especially like the shininess of the helmet itself. Red Hood also comes with a few extra hands, including hands sculpted to hold guns (which is a little ironic).

Katana: I was pleasantly surprised when Katana was announced as part of this group, and I think Mattel did a fine job. The splashes of red and white on a costume that’s predominantly black make for a striking figure; I got a really good paint op on mine, as it has a sleek sheen. Katana does have an extra hand for holding her namesake weapon; that’s another well-done piece. Knowing her history in the Outsiders, I had to take a picture of her with the CW Black Lightning from two weeks back. Seeing them together makes me wish Mattel had gotten time to do Geo-Force and Halo, too. Nice work, good figure.

Batman (Dick Grayson): There’s a lot to like about this figure. First off, I loved the Morrison/Quitely/etc Batman and Robin title. Secondly, he’s sculpted differently than Bruce. You can tell that THIS Batman is different from the OTHER Batman, and that’s excellent. Another difference that’s pretty clever is the use of the cloth cape; it’s another signifier, given the predominance in plastic molded capes for Bruce. Going in that direction with the cape also echoes the way that Quitely drew him, particularly on the cover of issue #1 of that run. The figure comes with an unmasked head and a”hanging cowl” accessory that lets you mimic Dick’s appearance when he has the cowl pulled off. I like this one. It wouldn’t have been one that I would have thought of immediately, and that’s cool; it makes for a nice surprise and it’s a solid figure.

KGBeast: Holy crap; this guy’s HUGE. Originally appearing in the class “Ten Nights of the Beast” story and popping up on occasion across media (Justice League Unlimited; there by his real name in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice), KGBeast has always been a favorite weird villain of mine. I feel like they got the flavor of the guy, particularly with his crazy weapon attachment. That’s just ridiculously big, and also awesome. A pair of daggers go into booth sheaths, which is a great touch. It’s just a massive and intimidating figure, and I really dig it.

Alfred: This Alfred figure is just tremendous. The basic look is terrific. It looks just like Alfred from the comics. The choice of serving tray and glass accessories is hilarious and super-appropriate; way to be on-the-nose, Mattel. This is all well and good. But the thing that pushes Alfred into the stratosphere is the fact that he’s got not one, not two, not three, but four frickin’ heads. Love the ’60s TV show? There’s the Napier head. Love the Keaton movies? Allow us to show you the Gough head. You a comic person? Comic head! And the fourth . . . the Outsider! If you don’t know who the Outsider is (short form: bad Alfred), then trust us; it’s a little complicated to get in right now. But that choice is just awesome. I love this Alfred; obviously, there have been a few over time in various lines, but I think this is the best.

Collect + Connect Killer Croc: Did I say KGBeast was big? Good Lord. Killer Croc is enormous. But even better, he’s still extremely poseable. Frequently in figures of this type, you trade that poseability for the size. Not here. Aside from the hinged jaw, you have good mobility at the joints. And the detail! The size makes it a little easier to achieve this, but this figure is a veritable explosion of scales and ridges. The texture and general weight of this figure is off the charts. Outstanding work.

As you can tell, I think that Mattel pretty much pulled out the stops this time. There are some fine figures here and I appreciate the selection. I got out the DCUC Signature Damien to pose Al and the boys for a couple of shots to mark the occasion. What about you, readers? You like this set? Tell us about it in the comments. Thanks for reading!

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