Bif Bang Pow! has announced another 2016 San Diego Comic Com release - the Groot 4-Inch Wooden Push Puppet. Measuring a little more than 4-inches tall, this potted Groot wooden push puppet features hand-painting along with some decal elements. Designed similarly to vintage-styled push puppets, you can move the push puppet in various directions depending on how you push the hidden button on the bottom of the pot - providing hours of wobbly fun. And well, because it's only right… this charming collectible celebrating the extraterrestrial, sentient tree-like creature is crafted out of solid wood, of course!
The limited edition piece (2,400 pieces) will first be sold during San Diego Comic Con 2016 at the Entertainment Earth Booth #2343. If supplies remain after the show, pre-orders (which you can currently place at Entertainment Earth for $8.99) will be filled and shipped in August 2016.
The Russia-based artist Kosrobot released his third original character – his namesake Kosrobot. Why wait this long to release your namesake? Well, I liken it to when a band waits to release their self-titled album several into their discography. There’s not real explanation necessary.
“Kosrobot travels between different worlds and dimensions in search for a place he could call home.” The character, which has a pair of antennae sticking up out of his head, is a robot dressed up in pants, sneakers, and a hoodie.
The resin figure stands in at 3 inches in height. It features five points of articulation. Those points are made possible via magnets embedded in the resin. The magnets connect to allow for some decent poses and are strong enough so the little Kosrobot doesn’t fall apart. The figure does not include any accessories.
The Kosrobot is hand-sculpted with a pair of hands that allow it to hold LEGO accessories. While I don’t have any photos of it doing so, I can assure you I’ve tested it out and it works as Kosrobot claims. The only drawback is that LEGO accessories aren’t always as cool as LEGO minifigures.
There are currently several versions of the character available to purchase. Unfortunately, the Orange version featured in this review appears to be sold out. However, there are other unpainted and painted figures available. The unpainted figures run $24.00, while the painted variants go for $34.00. Looking at the photos of them, I’d probably pony up the additional ten bucks to get the figure painted.
Kosrobot - Orange Artist: Kosrobot Material: Resin with magnets at joints Dimensions: 3 inches tall Points of Articulation: 5 (hips, shoulders, neck) Pricing: $24.00
The May 2016 Loot Crate theme was Power. Miriam-Webster defines power as the ability or right to control people or things. This month’s Crate features all sorts of collectibles that revolve around that basic theme. There’s a special May 2016 – Power Loot Pin as well as a special book detailing the month’s loot.
Like with all Loot Crates, this one included a t-shirt. The chosen grey short sleeve t-shirt is from the upcoming World of Warcraft film – Warcraft. It features silhouettes of the main characters, with the orc in a cranberry color.
There’s also the Thanos oven mitt – officially named the Infinity Gauntlet Oven Mitt. The bright yellow glove features six Infinity Stones. However, those Infinity Stones might not be that powerful because I just received a voluntary recall email stating that it might not withstand high oven temperatures. Truthfully, I wasn’t ever going to use this as an oven mitt anyway.
Then there’s what’s apparently a Dragonball Z plush ball. This was clearly the most popular item in the Loot Crate with my kids. Oh, they wanted to steal it before I was able to take photos. I mean…it’s a dragon wrapped around a ball with a hangtag. What’s cooler than that? Pop it on your book bag and you’re the talk of kindergarten.
Finally, the big collectible for toy fans, and what’s likely the most expensive piece in the May 2016 Loot Crate, is The Hulk Q-Figstatuette from Quantum Mechanix. The 3-inch tall maquette shows off Hulk with a stylized look. The figure reminds me of the now defunct Disney Infinity video game collectible line. Unfortunately, this Hulk doesn’t unlock a digital version of himself in Contra or anything.
Chappie is a 2015 science fiction film and the third film from director Neill Bloomkamp (following District 9 and Elysium). Unfortunately for Bloomkamp, Chappie didn’t garner the same critical success as his previous offerings. Currently, the film is sporting a 32% fresh rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.
The film takes place in a dystopian, futuristic South Africa, where a robotic AI police force assists in pursuing the bad guys. It stars the likes of Hugh Jackman, Dev Patel, and Sigourney Weaver as engineers and CEO (respectively) of the weapons manufacturer Tetravaal. Chappie is a sentient robot that’s been reprogrammed to help a group of gangsters led by Ninja and Yolandi (both of the actual South African rap group Die Antwoord).
Personally, I liked the film. I can’t really articulate why. There weren’t many likeable characters. And, after a while, Chappie’s naivety sort of grates on your soul. But the story raises some pretty interesting existential questions. And I thought the ending was pretty imaginative. Although, the end plot features an almost literal deus ex machina.
On to the collectible…
Produced by Threezero, the 1/6th scale Chappie figure is a heavily articulated piece that features some LED light-up functions. You pop in a couple of small, button cell batteries (not included) into Chappie’s head and his eyes and mouth light up. The figure includes a pair of interchangeable plates for the eyes. One plate allows light through the entire rectangle, while the other allows light through a pair of square-looking eyes.
The other accessories include a trio of faux gold chains and an AKS-74M assault rifle. The most noticeable chain features a large dollar sign on it. It looks a little bit like Chappie is trying his best to channel 1980’s Mr. T. The assault rifle looks fairly generic. It features a folding stock, which is probably the preferred display position. Though, thinking back on the film, I don’t really remember Chappie wielding a weapon that looked like this one.
The actual Chappie figure features a lot of pieces. Threezero, both through their own and the Ashley Wood collaborative ThreeA labels, are known for producing some of the most intricate robotic collectible figures out there. In addition to the LED light up function, Chappie has articulated fingers, a number of non-functioning wires, and some impressive use of paint and decals.
The figure features a number of decals. For example, look for the South African flags, the number 22 (Chappie was Scout 22), and the Reject sticker. There’s also a whole lot of weathering and damage that’s been applied to the figure as well as some white graffiti. Check out the back of Chappie for a good example of that graffiti.
The pricing - $234.99 – feels about right for a figure of this size and quality. This is the area that regular licensed 1/6th scale figures are creeping into. Chappie, however, features a whole lot more articulation than you’ll find on your average 1/6th scale body. Plus, it has the LED light up face function. So it definitely compensates in the quality department for what it might lack in the way of accessories.
Chappie Manufacturer: Threezero Material: Plastic articulated figure Dimensions: 1/6th scale Points of Articulation: A lot Accessories: AKS-74M assault rifle weapon; Two interchangeable facial expressions; Three (faux) gold chains Pricing: $234.99
StarCom was one of the lesser-known toy lines from the 1980’s. Heck, the internet can’t even agree as to whether it’s spelled StarCom or Starcom. The toy line featured a total of 23 figures, a number of playests, and 13 vehicles. Those figures bucked the trend and measured only 2 inches in height. Also, they featured tiny magnets in the feet (known as Magna Lock technology), allowing you – or them - to transcend gravity.
Every StarCom (I’m going with that spelling) figure included a weapon, a backpack, and an identification card (you could cut it out from the back figure card). The figure I was able to snag off of eBay was Sgt. Von Rodd. Clearly, whoever was in charge of naming characters for the StarCom line at Coleco back in 1987 thought they could slip in what I’m going to assume is an adult film actor’s name.
Von Rodd included a V-6 WIP PISTOL and HYERVOLT POWER PACK. In other words, he came with a little gun and a backpack that plugged into the hole on his back. I was surprised that the plastic hose that connects from the gun to the pack hadn’t started to disintegrate after 30 years of likely sitting around in someone’s garage. I mean, look at the card. It looks like some kid spilled his juice box all over this thing.
The figure’s clear shield flips up from his helmet to reveal a face without any eyes. What was it about the 1980’s that toy companies just wouldn’t even attempt painting eyes? I’m also thinking about you Kenner and your M.A.S.K. toy line. Even ugly paint splotches and globs are better than the eerie no-eye look.
Like most toy lines from the 80’s, StarCom spawned a television series – StarCom: The US Space Force. It was developed in conjunction with the Young Astronaut Council (established by the Reagan White House) and tried to gain young viewers interest in NASA and the space program.
The show ran from September through December of 1987. The space shuttle Challenger disaster occurred January 28th 1986. At that point in time, NASA was trying anything to gain positive interest in the space shuttle program. I was only a kid at the time, but the actual events of the Challenger explosion are ingrained in my mind. StarCom, both the toy line and the television series, must have been pushed back to the deep, dark recesses of my brain.
I actually first ran across the line while looking at an old Sears Christmas Wish Book. It’s surprising how the line has held up – both physically and trend-wise. Of course, Coleco, which was bought out by Hasbro, went kaput. And, apparently, Hasbro (or any other toy company) hasn’t decided to revive the line. It makes sense. The first toy or television show StarCom search hit is four pages deep on Google. But a toy line this cool (and I do actually like the figure, a lot) shouldn't be some forgotten-about relic of the 1980's. Right?
If you’re on the Internet geeking out at a toy site, it’s more than likely that you’ve heard of Loot Crate. Each month, they ship out a box full of t-shirts (one in every box), toys, gadgets…pretty much a smorgasbord of pop culture collectibles all focused on a single theme. You can select a monthly subscription (3, 6, or 12 months) or just pick and choose your favorite themes. They say there’s over a $45.00 value in each Crate. And each one runs between $19.95 per month with shipping for the single month plan to $17.95 per month with shipping for the 12-month plan.
For this review, we’re checking out the April 2016 Loot Crate. The theme of the month was “Quest”. This was my first Loot Crate, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect going in. Personally, “Quest” probably wasn’t the best theme to start out on, as I was never a big fantasy genre person. I was into plenty of nerdy things growing up, but I just never could get into things like D+D. And I’ve never watched or read anything Harry Potter related.
The item that pops out upon opening is the t-shirt. And it’s probably because that’s David Bowie as Jareth the Goblin King staring back at me. The black t-shirt features purple/white graphics based on the film Labyrinth. Damn…did this movie freak me out as a little kid.
There’s a little poster roll in there. I thought, to continue terrorizing the childhood me, maybe they could include something from The Dark Crystal. Luckily, it’s a mini poster from Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. I dare you to find a video game series as entertaining as the Uncharted series (it has nothing to do with the fact that I was just playing the game 30 minutes ago). It’s like playing your way through a really good movie.
The pair of Loot Crate specific items are the Quest book, which gives you some additional details about all of the items included in your box, and the Loot Pin. I’m guessing that you receive a monthly theme-specific Loot Pin with each Loot Crate. As you can see, this one resembles a shield and features a 20 sided die (ooooo. foreshadowing).
Next up, there’s a pair of black Harry Potter branded socks. I’m not sure what makes them Harry Potter since they just have random words and corresponding pictures. When I think of Locket, Ring, and Diary…the first thing that pops into my mind is Harry Potter. Yep. (Okay...it does say Harry and have a lightning bolt on them) This will be part of my Harry Potter obsessed sister’s birthday present.
There was also a Loot Crate Exclusive 20 Sided Die Ice Mold. Just fill it up with water and pop it in the freezer. This is so you can make one giant ice cube and play Dungeons and Dragon out in the snow. Or commit a terrible faux pas by placing it in your scotch. Or, more likely, use it to help ease the pain of the beating you just took on the school bus. I wasn't able to get mine crystal clear. I'm sure there's probably a spell I could cast...
The piece that I get the feeling is the main item is the 1/2 scale Floki Drink Mug from the show Vikings on the History Network. It looks like a big, hollow horn that you attach to a leather strap. Then, I guess, you can fill it up with your best spirits – most likely mead – and maybe even drop in a gigantic 20 Sided Die Ice Cube to cool things down. I haven’t tried it out yet, for fear that my children might think it’s a queue for them to act ever more barbaric than they currently do.
So, while there were no toys included in this Loot Crate, I must say that it’s gotten me much closer to my ultimate goal of being able to lounge on my couch while sipping home-brews from a horn that's wrapped around my neck.
The Tsihata is one of the new figure designs from the Moscow-based toy artist known as Kosrobot. The 4.4-inch tall figure is hand-sculpted and hand-cast in colored resin by the artist. In this case, we’re looking at the Bubble Gum Pink Tsihata…so that would be made of bright pink colored resin.
A little bit about the Tsihata character:
Tsihata symbolizes things unsaid, feelings unexpressed, mistakes made. It comes out of the fog when the time comes to an end. But don't be scared and listen.
The Tsihata comes in five pieces: the body, head, two hands, and two antlers. They all fit into place rather snuggly, so you won’t be searching the ground for bright pink antlers. There’s also the option that you can swap out pieces with other colorways to create your very own Tsihata version.
There’s not a whole lot of room for articulation, as most of the holes and pegs are cut as squares. But you likely wouldn’t want a whole lot of articulation on a figure that looks as delicate as the Tsihata. Of course, that delicate look is due to those antlers (I’m not sure how many points this buck would qualify as). And while I haven’t broken them (yet), the great thing about resin is that it often glues nearly seamlessly…with some patience and a steady hand.
Design-wise, the Tsihata strays from Kosrobots other two characters. The namesake Kosrobot (we’ll be reviewing him in a few weeks) is a robot dressed up in a sweatshirt and jeans. And the Cosmos Cold is an astronaut – likely a cosmonaut – who’s now more than a skeleton. They’re more or less in human form, with arms and legs, while Tsihata is…something different.
The Tsihata features what resembles a skull of a longhorn bull you might see decorating the desert floor in a western film. You can add to that a web of antlers. Also, it appears the Tsihata is wearing a flat-base rope with a pair of slits cut out for those slightly deformed, asymmetrical hands.
Personally, I like Kosrobot’s more human looking guys a little more than the Tsihata. It’s no knock against Tsihata. It’s that he’s done such an amazing job with the Cosmos Cold and Kosrobot – and my preference for robotic characters. Plus, as I'll discuss with the Kosrobot figure, that figure features articulation and magnetic joints. But if you're looking for a creepy-looking antlered priest (that's what it is, right?), the Bubble Gum Pink Tsihata is waiting.
In the pantheon of comic books, The Dark Knight Returns might just be the medium’s Citizen Kane. The four part miniseries was released in 1986, having been written and illustrated by the illustrious Frank Miller (Klaus Janson also illustrated the series).
It was infamous for its portrayal of an aged (55 year old) Bruce Wayne/Batman in conflict with Superman (Dawn of Justice, anyone?). Also, the story features a much grittier look at Gotham, as Batman battles with an army of thugs called the Mutants. There are also several memorable events, from The Joker (I don’t want to spoil things…but the comic was released 30 years ago) being killed by Batman to Selena Kyle now running an escort service. So, yeah…gritty.
Being that The Dark Knight Returns celebrates 30 years this year, and that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice seems to glean some plot points from the comic, we’re seeing an uptick in DKR related collectibles. One of those collectibles is from the folks at Mezco Toyz. They’ve released, from the One:12 Collective series, a 1/12th scale Mutant Leader.
The Mutant Leader was, quite obviously, the leader of the gang known as the Mutants. In the comic, there was a pivotal battle between Batman and the leaders of the Mutants. Mezco released a now sold out set that featured both Batman and the Mutant Leader, however, the stand-alone Mutant Leader features some accessories that the guy included in the set did not.
The One:12 Collective Mutant Leader includes two sets of hands - a pair of fists, a right hand for holding weapons, and a left hand that appears to be grasping for something. The weapons that can be placed in that hand are a torch and a crowbar.
But what’s great about this guy is that he includes three different swap-out heads. You have the angry face with glasses and spikes on the crown of his head. There’s the yelling face with glasses and no spikes. And there’s one with his broken nose all bandaged up, minus those glasses. Each one is worthy of being displayed. And, speaking of displaying, the Mutant Leader includes a display base where you can place a peg into the bottom of his foot or use the posing stand for some aerial poses.
I like the figure sculpt. It’s tough to duplicate the Mutant Leader from the comic book, since the drawings were often rough. But he’s got those creepy elongated orange nipples, and the spikes on his wrists and ankles almost appear to be coming out of his skin. Also, the paint shading on the figure’s body is another impressive aspect of the piece.
Although I’ve covered plenty of figure announcements, I had never seen one of Mezco’s One:12 Collective pieces in-hand. After checking out the Mutant Leader figure, my initial impression is that they have a burgeoning line. Will 1/12th scale be able to compete with 1/6th scale? Price-wise, you’re looking at about 1/3 to 1/4 the price of your higher quality 1/6th scale figure. (Enough fractions for you?) Traditionally, that smaller size meant that quality would often suffer. But Mezco is proving that good things do come in 1/12th scale packages.
Positives: Including three alternate head sculpts with a figure is impressive. The suggested $65.00 price point sounds about right.
Negatives: Watch out for those spikes! They’re pretty darn sharp, and the last thing you want to do is trying to explain to a coworker how you were impaled on a toy.
Mutant Leader Series: DC Comics’ One:12 Collective Manufacturer: Mezco Toyz Material: Articulated plastic body Dimensions: 6 inches tall Points of Articulation: Over 30 points Outfit: Black, faux leather pants Accessories: Alternate head with broken nose; Alternate head with gritted teeth and glasses; Alternate head with open mouth and glasses; Set of fists; Holding hand; Posing hand; Torch; Crowbar; Display base and posing stand Pricing: $65.00
It’s entirely likely that you’ve already seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens. (I'm actually assuming you have) It was a fairly popular movie, raking in over $2 billion in worldwide box office. If not, it was just released on Blu-ray and DVD this past week. Plus, it’s a Star Wars film…how could you not have seen it?
And since The Force Awakens was a Star Wars movie, that means we’ve been inundated with movie tie-ins – but the most important of those are the toys. The Star Wars universe’s latest Stormtrooper iteration – the First Order Stormtrooper – was one of the new characters we were introduced to in the film. Of course, any character in the film (and some of those that didn’t even make the cut) has found his or her way to being released as The Force Awakens toys.
Thanks to Sideshow Collectibles, we’ve gotten our hands on one of those higher end collectibles – The 1/6th scale First Order Stormtrooper (Jakku Exclusive) from Hot Toys.
Hot Toys has released several versions of their First Order Stormtroopers. What makes the Jakku Exclusive version unique are the heavy artillery vest, binoculars, and a sandy Jakku display base. In case you haven’t seen the movie…Jakku is the desert planet from the start of the film, where a youthful Kylo Ren decides all he wants to do is dance...but the planet of Jakku has banned dancing and rock 'n' roll music. No…that was Footloose.
The first thing you’ll notice about Hot Toys’ First Order Stormtrooper is just how glossy and sleek it looks. I think what makes the Star Wars Stormtrooper such a successful character is the simple black and white coloration. And everything for this figure is black and white. The armor, the guns, the binoculars – all black and white.
And those are pretty much your accessories. The Jakku Exclusive includes a pair of guns (a blaster rifle and a blaster pistol) and articulated binoculars. The blaster pistol attaches to the Stormtrooper’s side via hidden magnets (the survival backpack also attaches magnetically). The blaster rifle has an extendable stock. And the binoculars are articulated at the center. Of course, the figure includes eight interchangeable hands to hold all of the various accessories. But hands are never seen as an exciting accessory.
As far as quality, it’ll be difficult for other toy companies to top what Hot Toys is doing here. Their First Order Stormtrooper is sleek. It features a body that allows some pretty good posing options. And there’s not a lot of paint (which means not a lot of room for paint miscues) and not an authorized likeness (which lessens the possibility they mess up the facial sculpting).
The only issue you might run into is that the artillery vest needs to be adjusted so that it lies straight across the figure's body. That's a very small concern and entirely fixable. I did have an issue, that's almost entirely isolated, where the black grip on the binoculars wasn't properly glued on. That was an easy fix (a little Gorilla Glue), and most likely only due to my bad luck.
Hot Toys has announced ten different First Order Stormtroopers in various forms – Stormtroopers, a Flametrooper, Snowtroopers, and a TIE Pilot. Sideshow Collectibles has seven of those that are currently shipping. They all vary slightly and range in price from $204.99 to $219.99.
First Order Stormtrooper (Jakku Exclusive) Series: Star Wars: The Force Awakens Manufacturer: Hot Toys Dimensions: 1/6th Scale – 12 inches tall Points of Articulation: Body features over 30 points of articulation Outfit: First Order Stormtrooper armor; Black under-suit; Heavy artillery vest; Belt with pouches; Survival backpack Accessories: Pair of fists; Pair of relaxed hands; Pair of hands for holding weapons; Pair of hands for holding binoculars; Blaster rifle with extended stock; Blaster pistol; Pair of articulated binoculars; Jakku desert-themed figure stand with First Order Stormtrooper nameplate and Star Wars logo Pricing: $219.99
On Christmas Day, 2015, Quentin Tarantino’s highly anticipated film – The Hateful Eight – debuted in US theaters. The Western mystery hit a few snags along the way, including the leaking of the original script back in 2014…and subsequent cancellation of the movie by Tarantino. Then there was a police boycott due to some of the director’s comments…and the realization that they mistakenly destroyed a priceless, vintage Gibson guitar during filming. But through it all, The Hateful Eight was both a critical and (somewhat) financial success.
It was somewhat surprising that NECA announced an 8-inch tall retro styled series of collectible figures based on a rated-R period film that was going head to head with Star Wars at the box office. Though, I can’t think of a Tarantino film that hasn’t achieved cult status. And cult status usually means that there are collectors who want toys based on the license.
NECA’s lineup features all eight (main) characters from The Hateful Eight. That includes the following folks: Major Marquis Warren (The Bounty Hunter) – Samuel L. Jackson; General Sandy Smithers (The Confederate) – Bruce Dern; Joe Gage (The Cow Puncher)– Michael Madsen; Sheriff Chris Mannix (The Sheriff) – Walton Goggins; John Ruth (The Hangman) – Kurt Russell; Oswaldo Mobray (The Little Man) – Tim Roth; Bob (The Mexican) – Demián Bichir; Daisy Domergue (The Prisoner) – Jennifer Jason Leigh.
While I’ve seen some places describe the figures as being similar to retro Mego styled action figures, I feel the similarities come from the scale and the inclusion of tailored clothing. NECA’s figures are solid plastic with multiple points of articulation. And each figure includes an accessory – mostly guns – that can be held (or in the case of the guns…holstered).
I like that the sculptors went with a rough look on this series. The characters are straight out of a gritty Western film, so it’s somewhat fitting. And the likenesses are all visible from the face sculpts (yeah…Tim Roth looks like Tim Roth). Some folks might prefer the well manicured sculpts of a lot of the 1/6th scale figures we see on the market, but those types of details are difficult to duplicate at this scale and price point. Plus...these are marketed as Retro styled, and folks in the 70's and 80's weren't finicky about sculpting.
Where The Hateful Eight series shines is the clothing. The outfits are well produced and much more attractive than sculpted clothes. For example, there’s no way you’d be able to replicate the coat worn by The Hangman in plastic. Couldn’t do it. I would have even liked it if some of the hats were produced as part of the removable outfit (although scaled down hats are – like eyeglasses – always difficult to get correct).
Finally, the packaging is fairly minimal with a similar The Hateful Eight themed window-front box for every figure. The back, though, does have the character’s image from the film. Also, I almost missed it, but there’s a unique check mark for which one of the eight characters the box belong to.
Positives: The clothes on this series are spectacular. I like the rough sculpting appearance.
Negatives: Michael Madsen’s long face makes his head seem out of scale with the other figures. Is his face really that long? Also, The Little Man’s leg was twisted (you can likely see in the photos above) making it somewhat difficult to pose the figure.
The Hateful Eight Clothed Action Figure Series Manufacturer: NECA Figures: Major Marquis Warren (The Bounty Hunter) – Samuel L. Jackson; General Sandy Smithers (The Confederate) – Bruce Dern; Joe Gage (The Cow Puncher) – Michael Madsen; Sheriff Chris Mannix (The Sheriff) – Walton Goggins; John Ruth (The Hangman) – Kurt Russell; Oswaldo Mobray (The Little Man) – Tim Roth; Bob (The Mexican) – Demián Bichir; Daisy Domergue (The Prisoner) – Jennifer Jason Leigh Material: Plastic articulated figures with tailored clothing Dimensions: 8 inches tall Accessories: The Bounty Hunter – two pistols; The Cow Puncher – pistol; The Sheriff – pistol; The Hangman – pistol, rifle, and pipe; The Little Man – pistol; The Mexican – pistol and knife; The Prisoner – shackles Edition Size: 3,000 of each figure Pricing: $339.99 for the set of 8 (currently)
You can pick them up at the following:
Amazon.com: currently has them for $339.99 (Set of 8) NECAClub: $34.99 to $44.99 per figure