Friday, February 20, 2009

Xmen Origins Wolverine: Movie Sabretooth

This week I was able to get my hands on some of the Wolverine movie figures. I'll be going through my usual breakdown of the figures, but with most of them being Wolverine, I might do some group reviews on some of the different variations of every one's favorite wild haired friend.

I figured so I don't get bored with all 37 different Wolverine figures, I'll start fresh with his arch nemesis Sabretooth. Now, I've stated in one of my other reviews that I don't follow many comics, I'm not a die-hard comic book fan, so basically what I know is just from picking up in magazines here and there and the movies.

I hope this helps put a neutral spin on my reviews, while I know what the classic characters are known to look like, I think and well, hope it'll help give a somewhat outsiders point of view on the actual figures, rather than the character development in the movie.

So with that, lets jump in and take a look at Sabretooth's packaging. If you read my Marvel Universe reviews, I praised the packaging. I liked the card art and the layout, but here, I'm kinda left wanting more. It's a bit bland, and generic compared to the other line. I'm a bit disappointed that they didn't go with character art. Maybe they had a smaller budget, or they had to pay more money to the movie company and had to cut costs somewhere, but I don't know, it all just seems a little bland to me.

As far as extras and accessories are concerned, as with all the figures, he comes with a little pamphlet hawking all the new and exciting offerings available from Hasbro for the movie(sorry, no picture, waiting to scan it so it shows up better). He also comes with some sort of bone staff and a chain. While these might be key parts for the character in the movie, they do little for me as accessories and I actually found myself just throwing them to the side. Sabretooth's also dressed with a nice long coat that's made out of s soft plastic. The way it's sculpted is not too over the top, and doesn't just hang there, so I like the middle ground they went with. Also, for those that don't like it, he's also sculpted so if you take the coat off, he doesn't look too bulky in the arms and they don't look out of place. Kudos to the sculptor for this. I think he looks great both with and without the coat.

Speaking of the sculpting, lets go ahead and take a look at that. I think the likeness in the face looks pretty close to the actual actor, while not digital scanning technology close, but still, close enough(I don't know if they in fact did scan the actor's face, so don't hate me if they did, and if they did, they need to fire the scanner). Like I mentioned above, his arms are sculpted so he can both wear the jacket and take it off and you wouldn't even know. While I'm not sure if the character's supposed to look like it in the movies, but the figure has real long legs, and in a way, it kind of throws him off a little, not too much to make a difference, but just a tad to where if you look at him from the wrong angle, he looks like he has his pants pulled a little too high, Revenge of the Nerds style, lol.

One down fall I see with the sculpting are the big sloppy blobs that he has dripping from his hands. Oh, wait, those are his fingers? I wasn't too impressed with those, and/or his claws. They just didn't turn out right and not only that, I'm not a fan of hands that are either spread out in some weird pose or clenched into fist where they're really only good for a couple poses. His hands here are in that spread out look. I guess they could look good if he was pouncing on Wolvie ready to strike and maul him, but not so much when you wanted to set him up just standing there not attacking someone.

Okay, enough bashing on his sausage fingers, lets look at the articulation on the figure. One of the cool things about the Wolvie figures is, at least so far, they seem to incorporate the old school Toy Biz Marvel Legends articulation. I think this is a plus in a couple of different ways, one to hopefully bring back some of the fans who haven't really adopted the Hasbro ML figures as of late and two, well, for over all posing. I think these ball jointed hips and double jointed knees can really be useful for making some wicked poses for these characters.

Lets take a look at the articulation breakdown:

Neck-Ball joint
Shoulders- Ball hinged
Elbows- ball hinged
Hips- Ball socket/hinged
Upper thighs-swivel
Knees- Double hinged knees
Ankles- Ball hinged

Like some of the other recent Marvel figures(and GI Joes) from Hasbro, he has the neck ball joint that just doesn't quite work right. I've said it before, but I really wish they'd look into this again and fix it so it does what it should. As it stands, all he can really do is look left and right, and barely look up and down.

As for the shoulder and elbows, he has the basic ball hinged joints that are becoming more and more popular in figures these days, and they really work well with him. It looks like the sculptor took this into account while sculpting him so even though he had a baggy shirt/coat look to him, you can still get a pretty wide range of motion out of his arms. The sad part is there's not wrist articulation at all. I think this hurts not only the figure, but the character cause you're limited on how you can pose him, and in order to swivel his wrists, you have to swivel it at the elbow, and that might restrict his pose some what.

The torso is also somewhat of a let down. No mid torso joint, one I was hoping for, so he could have a hunched over look, or possibly standing up with his back arched. While it's not a big deal, it's almost a given on most figures these days, at least from super hero lines, so I was sad to not see it here. Instead we get a swivel waist where his shirt meets his pants.

Moving down to his hip/thighs, we have the old school Marvel Legend ball socket/hinged joints. I really like the way these are made, they're not too tight, and they move around real well. You can swivel the ball around so you can give him a wide stance, or move it around so his legs can bend in front of him in a sitting positions. Not only that, but it looks good too, not like a figure with two huge ball attached to his legs. That's always a plus in my book.

Where I love the hips/thighs, I'm not too sure about the knees. While I love double jointed knees, especially well sculpted ones. I think they've got a ways to go in getting straight pants to look right. I think there has to be some other method that will give you the same amount of articulation, but not have the knees look too bulky while they're bent. That's my only beef here, I like them and they work well, just when they're bent all the way, they don't look that good.

Finally the ankles, basically your everyday jointed ankles. They can both swivel and bend, but I had a hard time moving mine into a couple positions, mainly due to the pants sculpt getting in the way. While not that big of a deal, I felt they could have been sculpted a little better to give more freedom to the ankles.

I'm quite happy with the overall articulation on this big guy. He can not only bend around and sit and do all those things you'd want your figures to do, but he can also work well with other toy lines. Here are a couple pictures which shows how well he can sit and also another one showing how he fits in with a GI Joe vehicle. Look out GI Joe, you might have someone else to fight on your sofa battlefield later this summer.

Now for my favorite little part, Deconstruction and customizing possibilities. I wasn't able to do this with my Spider-Man figure, but I wanted to take the time and do it here. Over all it took a little over 10 minutes with a mug of boiling water, a little flat head screwdriver and some patience.

for the most part, you can simply dunk the figure in a mug of boiling water and just pop apart his arms and parts of his legs. His torso is also made up of a soft enough plastic where you can pop it off the waist area. You really have to get it hot though, and I had to use my flat head to help wedge the plug out of the torso, but when I did, it came out real easy.

The other part that was a little tricky was the knees. They're held in place with little pins, two pins per leg. Now it's not too hard, like before, just make sure your water is quite hot and don't let the figure cool too much, or you might have a hard time popping out the peg. All you have to do really is just place the flat head between the pin and the leg and pry it out.

Now most people won't need to do this, but it's nice to know it can be done in case you wanted to give him a different set of lower legs or boots or what not.

As for customizing, I think people are going to have fun with this guy. From simple head popping, to using his coat for a custom, I think there's a lot of potential here. One thing I like is the nice plain base body, ever wanted to make a custom of your favorite teacher, movie usher, or demonic car salesman? Well, now you have the perfect slacks and button up shirt to do it with. Just messing around taking the pictures, I found a couple heads that popped on real easily, mainly 25th GI Joe heads, most of the Star Wars heads seemed like the socket joint was too big and just wobbled around. His head also fits pretty good on some GI Joe bodies, some might need a little work, but again, I think we'll see a lot of customs made from this guy.

Lastly, here's a little group picture of various 1:18 scaled figures, something to hopefully let you know if he can be used on your shelves, or in you custom drawers. Hope it helps and hope you liked the review. I'll be reviewing some of the other movie figures all weekend, so check back often, and thanks again.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Marvel Universe Wave 1 Spider Man

I'll be the first to admit it, I'm not a huge Spider-Man fan. I'm one of those fans who has read a handful of comics, has a figure or two and enjoyed the movies. Now that I got that out of the way, when I picked this figure up after reviewing Iron Man, I felt like I was looking at a whole different toy line. While the Iron Man figure had this awesome feel and look, Spidey here just had this almost animated look to him. But let's not get ahead of myself and have everyone wanting to hang me at the stake, before I go on, lets look at the package and then the goodies that are inside.

Nothing too much to say that I didn't already have to say in the Iron Man review, though I did notice a different looking back to Spidey's card. Now, I don't know if they're gonna change it up like this on the US release figs, but I hope they stick to some sort of package with the same looking back like some similar lines. I've always been a fan of a package you can turn around and look at all the other figures in the wave, so here's hoping they stick to something like that. Here you can see 4 figures in the first wave, Silver Surfer, Spidey, Punisher and Iron Man.

And of course, again one of my fav. parts of the package, the little picture on the side showing that Spidey is #2 in the wave. Here's hoping they bring out some sort of check list, something I know my son will love looking over, checking off figures he has and dreaming about ones he wants.

Like Iron Man, Spider-Man also comes with his Top Secret folder with cards, files and online code. Over the weekend at the New York Comic Con, it was announced that Nick Fury will be a mail away figure. Now I don't know if that has anything to do with the Fury Files codes or not, or if it's a completely separate offer, like you, we'll have to wait and see what they "officially" announce. Spidey also came with the little poster. While it's a neat touch, I would have preferred some sort of File Card like the GI Joes have, but I guess a poster is cool too. We'll have to wait and see what the US release comes with.

I know what you're thinking, finally... the meat of the review. The figure! Right before I do dig in though, I did want to bring up the one lone accessory that came with Spider-Man, his webbing. Now, I've seen some pretty cool custom webs made from clear plastic twist ties. I've used them on my Movie figures in the past. I've also seem some cool rubbery webbing that came with some figures, while not that strong, looked real cool. All those mentioned above were cool, looked cool and I think made the figures look nice. Spidey's little web he comes with here, I don't know, just doesn't look that great to me.

Maybe I was spoiled by the other offerings that I've seen, but this is one little hard plastic web that clips on the wrist of Spider-Man. Now, if that was it, I think I would have liked it a little more. But for some reason, they felt the need to add a big jumble of webbing at the end, so it really limits the amount of poses you can use with the webbing. In my picture below, that's the best thing I could come up with without it looking like some sort of blob covering half of his body. I know, a small gripe, but I think at the price these are nowadays, they could have done a little more on accessories.

And now... onto the figure. When I first saw pictures coming out, I wasn't happy with the figure. I saw a fat rendition of every one's favorite wall crawler. Something just looked off about the figure that was popping up over the net, whether it was the actual pictures that people took, or it was the pose, I don't know, but I didn't like it. So when I first opened this figure, I was already ready for disappointment.

When I first started playing around with Spidey though, there were a lot of things I liked, a lot of things I actually loved about it. Though, as soon as I started playing around with him, there were so many things that I started to notice that I didn't like, I was back to how I originally felt about him. For one the sculptor looks like he spent most his time on the upper half of the figure. By the time it came to the lower half, it looks like he/she pretty much gave up. To me, the lower half just looks plain compared to the top. Now, I guess that could mainly be because of there being more plain blue in the costume, but that's not what I'm talking about. If you look at the figure from the side, you can really see the plain cylindrical look of the lower legs. He has no definition at all, and to me looks weird.

Maybe I'm just being a little picky, it's not a bad figure, it was just something that caught my eye and since then, I keep looking back at the lower half and wish it was a little better.

I mentioned a little about the detail in the sculpting, and what I think really helps this figure is the painting on him too. There have been a lot of Spidey figs out in the past, and while good figures, they were ruined by sloppy paint. This one is far from that and I think what saves this figure from being thrown in the fodder bin, is just that, the wonderful paint job on the figure. It really helps bring out the detail on the webbed suit. Not only that, some parts you can't even tell what's painted, the red or the blue, so props to the big H for that.

I had to dig out my Marvel Showdown Spider-Man for a minute to throw up some comparison pictures. The main reason I did this was to both show the amount of detail that I think this figure could have had, but also to show that the two lines are compatible... to a point. Where the Showdown figures had a real gritty realistic comic book look to them, these new Hasbro figures have more of a cartoonish, almost animated look to them, while not a bad thing at all, just shows how different two people(or companies) can look at one character.

Moving on to my favorite part of a figure, the articulation. While Spidey shares some similar articulated joints with Iron Man, there are some that differ slightly here and there. Some I love and some leave me scratching my head, so let me break them down and then I'll go through them one by one in more detail.

Neck-Ball joint
Shoulders- Ball hinged
Bicep- Swivel
Elbows- hinged
Wrists- Swivel
Mid Torso- Multi-swivel joint
Hips- Ball socket/jointed
Knees- Double hinged knees
Ankles- Ball hinged

Wheeew, now that's a lot of articulation on a lil' guy like this, but with someone who sometimes bends his knees over around his head, I guess it's to be expected. First off we'll look at the head. Like Iron Man, Spidey here also suffers from not being able to look up and down that much, or at least as much as he should be able to with a ball jointed neck. The whole purpose of a ball jointed neck is to give almost super realistic poseability on the part of the character's head. But for some reason, I think more and more sculptors are forgetting this and lately, it seems head movement has taken a step back in progression. I'm hoping as more and more lines switch to 1:18th scale, companies will be forced to up their game a little and hopefully, they'll get ball jointed necks back to where they should be.

Where the head lacks, the shoulders more than make up for it in poseability. Not only does the shoulder have a basic Ball hinged joint that plugs into the torso, it also has the swivel joint that leads into the bicep. I love this combo because it gives you ultimate range in realistic poses than just having the one shoulder joint. Now, of course there had to be a downside to the arms, at least for me there was, and it's the elbow joints. Again, it seems like they stepped backwards a little and gave him simple hinged elbow joints with pegs showing through the arms. In the last couple of years Hasbro has almost exclusively switched to hidden pegs and injection-molded joints, so I don't know why they did this and went back to this old method. I guess it works, but I don't know, it just seems a little dated to me and I wish and hope they update it in the future. Finishing off the arms are swivel wrists, while not much else you can do, I would like to see something like the Animated clone trooper wrist joints in the future. I know it's wishful thinking, but with someone like Spider-Man, I'd hope they'd look for as much poseability as possible and I think those type of wrists would be perfect for him.

Now taking a look at the Torso, it looks pretty much like your standard action figure torso. Not that much of a difference here, but some things I did notice was not only could you swivel his mid-joint, you could also rock it from side to side. And if that wasn't enough, you can of course bend him forward and backwards, all of these combining to make for some real good poses. To top it all off, he also has a swivel waist to add to the fun.

Heading down the figure we next look at the hips. Like Iron Man, Spidey also has ball socket like joints made popular by the GI Joes. Again, unlike the Joe's metal bar, he has a plastic bar in his crotch. While I'm sure may feel uncomfortable for our lil' web slinger, I think it really works for him. I noticed his legs don't feel as bad as Iron Man's did. They move with ease and I don't feel like they're going to rip off this time around. I do wonder why they didn't go with a more traditional Marvel Legend like hip joint with the ball socket/swivel action similar to the shoulders. Again, some of the little things that I think will hopefully be added into future figures.

Unlike Iron Man's knees, Spidey has double jointed knees, which I think is a must for having him in cool crouched and crawling poses. I'm glad they went with these knees and I wouldn't have wanted them any other way... well, at least until they come up with some sort of double hinged/swivel/jointed knees that combines all them into one. After the knees, we head down to the ball jointed ankles, which work perfectly well on Spidey. Nothing much else they could have done besides maybe some mid feet articulation or some added "rocker feet" like some Marvel Legends have had in the past, but it's not anything to really get too upset over.

Now from a customizer's point of view, I guess there's not really much you could do with Spidey here. I guess you could pop him apart for parts, but besides his thighs, I think Spidey's distinct look kind of limits what you can actually use him for on an actual custom besides, well... another Spider-Man. With that said, he does pop apart pretty easily with some simple heat either from a cup of boiling water or a simple 30 seconds under a hair dryer. I didn't take a deconstruction picture yet due to the elbows and knees, but I will in the future and I'll be sure to update this when I do.

With that said, I couldn't help myself looking for a suitable head for a quick unmasked Spidey/Peter Parker look, so with a quick look in the drawer-o-heads I came up with this...

Like I mentioned above, for the most part, these new Marvel figures fit in well with the older Showdown figures scale wise. They also fit well with some other lines as well. I can see all those battles now where Snake Eyes is taking on Spider Man, or Punisher joined the GI Joe team or even some classic Marvel vs DC.. but after that I think it'd be stretching it a little on some of the other lines out there.

Thank you again for taking the time to read this. Please feel free to leave me a comment on anything you feel needs work. If there are any picture request, also feel free to make them and if possible I'll be more than happy to take them.

Keep your eyes peeled for Human Torch and Punisher's reviews coming soon...

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Marvel Universe Wave 1 Ironman

When I first saw pictures of these, I thought... I'll get a couple. Then when I took over GTG, I thought, I'll definitely have to get these to review. As soon as they started hitting Canada, I had to call in a couple favors and about a week later, there they were sitting on my front porch. Due to funds, I couldn't get the whole wave, so I had to pick what I thought was the best of the bunch to review from a customizer's point of view.

With that said, I'll jump right into it with my first figure from this new line; Ironman. I'll start things off and get things rolling with the package and accessories. The package looks like it takes a little from the latest Marvel Legend waves and the last couple of Star Wars packages, mainly the 30th anniversary collection that came out a couple of years ago.

One of the things I love about packaging is the card art. I'm really glad they went this route, not only does it give you something to compare the figure to, it also makes it easy to flip through the pegs while they're hanging in the stores. I really can't stand it when a line has the same generic looking card back, so this is a plus in my book. Not only that, but they also went with a little picture on the side with a number of the figure in the wave. This also helps a lot while looking for your favorite character in the stores.

After opening up the figure, the first thing I looked at were the accessories and paperwork he came with. Now this figure came from Canada, so I'm sure some of the stuff will change when they hit the states, but it at least gives you an idea of what to expect.

First off is the paperwork... When you open up the little "TOP SECRET" envelope, you get a couple little cards with info on the characters, and you also get your Fury Files online code. Right now, there isn't much info on what the online code is for, but the rumors are they'll be for a mail away of some sorts.

You also get a nice little poster, while I'm guessing it's just a poster cause of the multiple languages, we'll have to wait to see what the US figures come with later on in the coming weeks/months as they start to hit stateside.

Iron man also comes with a little clip on blast effect, while cool in some poses, the clip on part looks a little weird when you can see it. I'm sure kids that get a hold of these will really like this feature, but I can picture most collectors just pitching it in the extra parts bin.

Now for a look at the figure itself. I was a fan of the Marvel Legend Showdown figures that Toy Biz brought out a few years ago, but one thing I didn't like was how fragile they felt. When I picked this figure up, there was a big difference in how he felt. Compared to the older Showdown figures, he feels a lot sturdier, and doesn't feel like he's about to fall apart in your hands. The plastic is a lot stronger and the joints bend where they're supposed to, where in the showdown figures, some joints were hard to get to work right and in some cases, joints would just pop right off when you picked it up. These here have an all around better feel to them.

Lets take a look at the paint now. If you can call it paint, it's more of a metalized type of application rather than a paint. If you're a GI Joe fan, you know a Destro head or a Cobra Commander face plate, it has that look and feel to it. Real cool if you ask me(well, at least not for my camera, as you can see in some of the pictures, it had a hard time focusing on his armor, I'll have to do some re shoots). Hasbro gets an A+ from me in the paint aps department on this figure, cause it's almost as perfect as you'd want it to be.

Next we'll look at the articulation on this particular figure. This is something that I'll have to do on joint by joint basis for each figure, because almost every figure has a different type of articulation in one part of it's body. I'll list off the various joints and then talk a little about them.

Neck-Ball joint
Shoulders- Ball hinged
Elbows- Ball hinged
Mid wrists- Swivel
Mid Torso- Swivel joint
Hips- Ball jointed
Knees- Ball hinged
Ankles- Ball hinged

Now, after taking a look at how he's made, more and more, I find little things I'm disappointed with. For one, His neck ball is real restricting. If you wanted him to look up or down, forget it, he can basically only look left or right. I think it's mainly the sculpt of the ball and the outer part of the helmet that really restricts this. I'm hoping this is something they look into, cause it was quite annoying trying to set him up in different poses and he always had to look a certain way.

I'm really happy with his shoulders, elbows and wrist joints... while the elbows could have been made a little better so he could bend his arms a little more, I was fine with the outcome. He's not going to be holding any rifles, or anything like that, so I'm okay with what they do, plus he's basically a man wearing armor, so you'd have to expect it to be a little restricting.

The mid-torso joint, I'm not sure if it's supposed to only twist, or if it's supposed to also move up and down and side to side. I had a hard time moving mine, I wasn't sure if it was the metalized paint, or if it was just made that way, I wish it did move a little more than mine did, but I was afraid I'd break it if I pushed too hard.

The thighs have almost a 25th Anv. GI Joe joint to them, but instead of a metal bar, he has a plastic bar. While it works, I was almost afraid at times that I was going to torque the plastic the bar was made out of and break and twist the leg right off. So far it's fine, but it almost takes a little extra small twists to get the pose you want. I honestly wish they would have just used a metal bar, I have a feeling that this might be a poor choice in the long run, but here's hoping the plastic bar lasts.

Now the knees were a sore part for me. They were real restrictive on the movement. I think they could have sculpted them to where he could have bent them a little more, if this was done, I think they would have been perfect, but the way they are, I'm really disappointed in them. You get him in a cool pose, but it could be just that much cooler if you could only bend his knee a little more.

I was really happy with the ankles. They were set off from the shin armor just enough so you could actually bend and move them, one thing companies usually overlook with ankle joints, but I'm glad they made these actually usable.

As a figure, I think this is one of my favorite Iron men... granted he's a different scale than most of the other figures(other Iron Man figures, not other Marvel Universe figures), but I think Hasbro did a real good job in putting this figure together. It's not perfect, but I think it's pretty close.

Now from a customizer's point of view, when I first held the figure, I was a little worried that I wouldn't be able to do anything with it, the plastic seemed real hard, and I was afraid I wouldn't be able to do any taking apart... but rest assured, you can boil and pop this guy with ease and he comes apart like butter.

I think he can be used quite well with other lines for customs. Both arms and legs can be popped out and into other figures, and while they might not be a perfect fit for all lines, I think any novice customizer can get them to work. I'm also excited to see the different combos that people might come up with interchanging GI Joe and Star Wars body parts with these guys, thighs, ankles and even torsos and heads... I really think Hasbro did us good with using this construction and I really think that we'll see these bad boys flying off the shelves in the next couple of months by both collectors, and customizers a like.

As you can see in the last photo, I think this line can match up pretty well with most 1:18 scaled figures that are out there today. While they might look a little big compared to some Star Wars and DC figures, I think most others they should work well with and I for one am happy to add them to my shelves.

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed and stay tuned for my next one...Spider-man!!!

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