Thursday, June 17, 2010

Marvel Universe: Luke Cage

QUICK INFO:
Name: Luke Cage
Line: Marvel Universe
Year: 2010
Price: $7.99

Bio:
It's been a long time since Luke Cage went by the name Power Man, and a lot has changed. He's gone from being an independent operator, making money with his powers, to a leadership role in the Avengers. There was a time when his bulletproof skin and super strength made him impulsive and short-tempered, but his recent responsibilities force him to think of others first before he acts.

Ah yes, a new Marvel Universe figure to add to the collection FINALLY! I'm not sure what is wrong with Hasbro's distribution of this line, but finding new figures is harder than finding a virgin in college. Today we'll take a look at the new leader of Marvel's Thunderbolts, Luke Cage.


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I gotta hand it to Marvel's graphic design team as they have hit a home run with the packaging of this line. As much as I enjoyed Frank Cho's art on Series 1's packaging Mike Deodato's artwork is just fantastic. The switch over from S.H.I.E.L.D. to H.A.M.M.E.R. is a nice touch as well...even though in comics this switch is outdated. You may notice Luke's packaging has been tweaked a little as he was the runner up in the Fan's Choice contest Marvel held online.

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On the back of the blister card you can immediately tell the other transition from Series 1 to Series 2. Replacing Frank Cho's Nick Fury is now Deodato's Tommy Lee Jones look alike Norman Osborn! The bio does a good job giving you a quick summarized history of the character. It is still prompting the buyer to go to Furyfiles.com to enter the code that is included inside the packaging, but upon entering my code it doesn't appear to unlock any new content. Not sure if Hasbro is planning on updating the website to reflect these new changes in Series 2 or not.

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Here you have a good look at what is included inside the packaging. With Series 2 the figures now come with figure stands. This I like very much. In addition to Luke Cage himself you get a knit hat and his gold chain necklace I believe was made famous in his Marvel Comics MAX series. You also get a bent up girder he can wield. It's lame, but more on that later. The construction of the figure is really no different than with previous male characters in this line. My figure does seem really solid though with the joints holding most poses really well. There is a lot of articulation - head, shoulders, arms, elbows, wrists, waist, hips, knees and the feet to some degree. I like the washed look on the jeans, but the washed look was extended to the arms & head and it looks really odd. The brown plastic that is exposed in the center of the figure (neck area around the straps of his shirt) don't have this washed look and look so much better. There were only 2 figures in the store when I purchased mine and both had this same look. His shirt is simply painted onto the body which at first I thought looked somewhat odd, but after having the figure out of the packaging for a bit now it doesn't bother me at all. My only gripe with this figure is the stupid girder he comes with. I had a hard time fitting it into his hand so I can snap a few pictures first off. After I got the weapon in place it seemed to weaken the wrist joint since it's fairly long and somewhat heavy. Luke's other hand is a closed fist (which normally I hate), but seeing how Luke is a man from the streets of Harlem I guess it makes sense.

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"All geared up"

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I like the overall look of the figure, especially the head. The black sunglasses and the gotee are perfect. I remember in the first several issues of the comic New Avengers David Finch drew Cage wearing the knitted styled hat. I could personally do with both the hat and the necklace, but they are nice additions for those who may enjoy them.

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I'm a sucker for trading cards so I love how Series 2 continued the inclusion of the Superhuman Registration Act cards. On the front side we get a full body shot of Deodato's artwork used on the front of the packaging.

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The back side of the cards is very nicely laid out. You see his real name is Luke Cage, legally changed from Carl Lucas. In the bottom right corner you have a classification for each character, with Luke being a Enhanced Human.

Hair: Bald Eyes: Brown Height: 6'6" Weight: 425 lbs. Sex: M

Powers:
Superhumanly strong, able to lift (press) 25 tons. Steel-hard skin, self-taught hand to hand combatant, and extensive street fighting experience.

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As with Series 1 you still get a Top Secret case file only this time the "letters" are addressed to Norman Osborne.

Director Osborne,

You asked Contingencies Division to work on some options for taking down the renegade vigilante Luke Cage. As you know, his strength and impenetrable skin present serious difficulties. We believe explosives of sufficient strength could take him out, but obviously that would result in serious collateral damage.

However, I found a protocol prepared by my predecessor for sanctioning Wolverine. I think with a few modifications, it could be adapted to capturing Cage. It would require some heavy ordnance, and shackles made from Vibranium, which will incur significant costs.

I have secured a source for the Vibranium. If you will authorize the 7.1 million dollar expenditure, I will begin work on fabricating the shackles.

Sincerely,
Col. Paul Colburn

This is one of my favorite Marvel Universe figures to date. I was thrilled to find it at the local Heroes Convention a few weeks back, but I'm glad I resisted paying the inflated price and waited to find him at retail. The other figure in this wave I'm really looking forward to getting my hands on is Thor as he is massive - even when compared to the bulked up Cage. If you are a fan on this line of action figures or just a fan of Luke Cage then do yourself a favor and pick him up the first time you run across him. I don't believe you'll have any regrets.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Transformers Robot-Man Z (Antex)

QUICK INFO:
Name: Robot-Man Z
Line: Transformers (Antex, Argentina exclusive)
Year: unknown
Price: unknown (paid $15.00)


Today's review will be rather short as I know little about the background of this toy. Nevertheless, enjoy!

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I recently acquired this piece from a eBay seller in Argentina for $15.00. I knew Antex released different colored G1 mini-bots years ago and I knew the Jumpstarters had also been released in different color schemes, but I had never seen this version simply called Robot-Man Z. Don't ask me why, but I like the G1 Jumpstarters, esp. Twin Twist. I picked up Salt-Man X years ago when I first saw him so I couldn't resist this purchase.

I haven't quite figured out why Salt-Man X's colors are used on the packaging when Robot-Man Z has an entirely different color scheme. True they share the same mold, but what gives? My guess is it was a cheap way for Antex to save money and just re-use the same colored box art. I like the black and white myself, but compared to Salt-Man's yellow the white does seem a little bland. The included stickers were printed on very cheap paper and don't stick very well. Even the pre-applied stickers on the legs will fall off if you stare at them. Even the blister card is a very flimsy cardboard. The included gun is the same as G1 Twin Twists' minus the gaudy silver chrome.

If you've played w/ any Jumpstarter then you know what you're getting here. That said I plan to leave this toy sealed. Now I just gotta find a place to display this big blister card.

The other thing I can't figure out is when this toy was released. It uses the Generation 2 logo, but I couldn't find any copy right date on the packaging. Also, is Robot-Man Z here a Autobot or a Decepticon? There aren't any faction symbols on the toy or the sticker sheet. The G2 banner uses the Decepticon logo so I'm going with that. Now the Decepticons have their own Jumpstarter! Watch out Battle Chargers, there's a new BA in town!

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The entire pack of the packaging is printed in another language so I really can't make out anything...but do we even need to be able to read it? Come on, it's a friggin' Jumpstarter! Fold robot over, pull back and release!

Alright, I've said far more than I had planned to do. So there you have a Transformer oddity...or grail in my case (yes, I have a warped view of grails!).

Transformers the Movie: Decepticon Reverb

QUICK INFO:
Name: Decepticon Reverb
Line: Transformers - The Movie (Hasbro, canceled Target exclusive)
Year: 2008
Price: $6.99 approx. (paid $20.00)

Bio:
Most Decepticons are so grim it's impossible to imagine they have fun doing anything, but not Decepticon Reverb. He charges into battle with a grin on his face, singing a happy song from the old days. Using the wash from his rotors, he can create a thudding sonic cyclone that traps those beneath him, shattering glass, twisting metal and destroying audio sensors. The ultra loud thump of his rotor has meant doom for many unfortunate Autobots.

Strength: 7 Intelligence: 5 Speed: 7 Endurance: 5
Rank: 6 Courage: 7 Fireblast: 5 Skill: 8

I'm back with an all new review. Today we'll go back to the first line of Transformers movie toys and look at canceled Target exclusive! Don't ask me why it was canceled or where the seller I bought it from got it, but I'm excited to hold Reverb in my hands. So let's take a closer looks at one of my favorite helicopter Transformers.

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Decepticon Reverb comes packaged in the familiar layout used for all of the first movie Transformers. The toy was meant to be a Target exclusive, but was canceled before it saw a mass release. Note the familiar Target exclusive sticker is missing from the blister bubble. The only difference I noticed on the packaging is a small sticker was placed just under Ages 5+ that read 80402. There is also a large red sticker with a bar code covering the bottom of the cardboard insert with what appears to be Spanish.

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The back of the packaging has a very nice layout. You get a shot of the actual toy in both robot and vehicle modes, highlights of the toy, the character's bio and a cross sell of the other 2 canceled Target exclusive scout class figures, Backtrack and Gunbarrel.

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As I mentioned earlier I love this mold. I love helicopter Transformers in general, but this is one my favorites hand down. I already own this mold 5 times over (both Energon & ROTF versions + the Transformers Collector's Club exclusive Topspin), but I didn't hesitate adding one more version to my collection! My first impression upon taking Reverb out of the bubble is that his color scheme just screams Waspinator. The olive green, yellow stripe down the sides and even the black on the legs. There are bits of "Allspark blue" on the toy that stand out, but thankfully the color was used sparingly. The intakes on each side of the cockpit and the tips of the robot's toes are the only blue bits. The helicopter's cockpit is cast in a translucent light blue.

I should mention that I forgot to fold up the tail fin to it's upright position before snapping the picture. How unprofessional of me!

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Just like the previous versions of this mold Reverb comes packaged with an Energon weapon and Energon chip. There are no changes made so if you've seen these then there isn't much else to look at.

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Reverb weaponized with his Energon armaments. The gun can be attached in different ways. This is the default mode...basically how it comes out of the package. As you can tell with the gun attached the helicopter doesn't sit firmly on the ground...the nose wants to fall forward a bit.

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Due to time constraints I didn't photograph the Reverb in any action poses or from different angles, but let me go on the record to say the robot mode is fantastic. For a scout class toy there is plenty of articulation to go around. The head turns a full 360 degrees, the shoulders, elbows, hips and knees are all ball joints so some great poses can be pulled out. The helicopter's tail piece does hang down in the back, but it's never obstructed any of the poses I've displayed this toy in. The main helicopter blades do fold down and effectively make one blade so you can display it either way. I just forgot to fold it down before photographing the toy. What's wrong with me today?!

I think the Waspinator color scheme really stands out even more in robot mode! The olive, yellow and black work really well though. I could care less for the Energon weapon as it's too big in my opinion to make an effective hand held weapon. I do like the translucent blue light piping used for the robot's eyes. Here lately it seems like fans are on the fence when it comes to the light piping used in the robot's heads. It doesn't bother me and I think it's a great touch.

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I was a little surprised to see that Reverb came with 2 sets of instructions. One was printed on regular white paper and featured the same Spanish that the sticker on the bottom had. The other set of instructions were printed on a glossy white paper like the majority of the instructions we've seen.

In closing I am so glad I decided to get in a group buy of this figure over @ TFW2005.com. With shipping it only set me back $27.00 which isn't too bad considering the chances of this figure having a mass release are slim. In hindsight I wish I had sprung for his "Combaticon" brother Gunbarrel. The mold is the exact same as the Energon, ROTF and Transformers Collector's Club versions so if you have those then there is really no need to buy this figure. Chances are it'll be overpriced if you come across it on eBay so just save your coins. It's a great scout class Transformer, but other than a new coat of paint nothing else is new.