This year begins with a female, the queen female of GI Joe, Scarlett, she's had many figures over the years but a vast majority of them have fallen very short. I won't say this is a perfect Scarlet, but it's a great deal better than many of the previous tries for the character. Her major failing is her head sculpt which does look somewhat like her cartoon appearance. Thankfully the designers avoided the "Clutch just pinched my ass" look she normally had in the show.
Much has been said about the simplicity of this figure, and that is what makes her a winner. While many of the designs from Renegades are a bit bland, in Scarlett's case it works well. She is simple and it works well for her character. Scarlett doesn't need a great deal of gear or overly detailed outfits to work for her. In fact I would argue too much details would go against her character.
An odd complaint from many Joe fans is the fact she has the swinging ankles as seen in Marvel Universe earlier this year (as with X-23, Cable, and Cyclops among others). This allows for some broader poses without the use of a figure stand which I enjoy greatly. Her ankles are pretty secure and firm which makes the added articulation point that much more enjoyable. In fact hers is more stable than many of the Marvel Universe figures which makes the addition that much more special.
Still she does fall short of being that GREAT Scarlett figure, but she is a step in a much better direction than we have seen in recent years and a fun addition to the collection. Clearly she will become my default Scarlett going forward. She does give me hope for a future GREAT Scarlett, one that hopefully will be here sooner than latter. I do think if that head sculpt had been a bit better she would have placed much higher on the list, but as she is now she is a fine figure.
Jack Sparrow, This year of course, we had another Pirates of the Caribbean movie. The movie was fair, not as good as the original but not as bad as the 3rd. With the movie we got a new Pirates of the Caribbean toyline. While I thought the line was a bit overpriced I did like the fact that we got a better Jack Sparrow than we were given with the previous movie line.
The major difference is (of course) now the figures have knee articulation. While I am not a huge "Figures much have tons of articulation" kind of guy, I do at least demand some basics for modern lines and of course knees are one of those "must have" areas. The last line didn't include knees and as a result many of the figures stand oddly (sometimes having to lean forward to keep from falling) and as a result were less than desirable. This time we at least got Jack which is (of course) the main guy of the series. He's pretty good too with removable hat and guns and swords. I admit my interest in the film wasn't strong enough to get Blackbeard nor many of the other characters but Jack is special and an improved figure was one I had really wanted since the first release from Dead Man's Chest.
This figure fits that bill and has enough detail to work. I think his price tag (cheapest I have seen is $8.95) and lack of modern articulation has worked against him though as I have seen him a few times in the clearance areas after Christmas. But, for one figure I could bend on the price and just grab him. He was worth it so I could retire my old Jack Sparrow with wide leg stance and "lean forward action." Part of me does wish there had been some figures redone from the older movies but I guess that just wasn't in the cards. Still I have to admit although I might have bought several characters out of an updates POTC line, I doubt many would have made my favorites list (but you never know).
I have a very odd Love/hate relationship with Ewoks. I have to say I kind of hated them in Return of the Jedi, even at the age of 11 I could tell they were an attempt to add "cuteness" to appeal to the younger crowd. I wouldn't have minded so much if it weren't for the fact that the "cuteness" factor ran so counter to what had gone on before in the Star Wars movies. However, I do love the fact that this primitive and short race is able to, convincingly, whip the Empire's armored troopers by the end of the movie.
I was also never a huge fan of our POV Ewok, Wicket. There was an Ewok that did stick out to me though, the odd and kind of spooky medicine man, Logray. His markings were something totally different than most of the other Ewoks who in general were one straight color. He was gray and white striped and thus stuck out from the rest. But beyond that he wore a skull on his head which I thought was incredibly cool. In my more adult years I pondered if his wearing the skull was an attempt to give the Ewok "teddy bears" some legitimacy. Clearly someone of the Ewok tribe had to kill whatever it was he was wearing. I would imagine Logray himself did the deed, but you never know.
Logray also came with some interesting things, a staff that looked like it was ceremonial (which has been updated here). The staff is probably the last remnants of my original Logray who has been long gone for years. Still it wasn't until I miraculously found this figure that I even thought about Logray. I have to admit if asked I would have to say he is my favorite Ewok (which is kind of like saying what is your favorite flavor of soy yogurt in a way). But somehow Logray seems to transcend my suckage view of the Ewoks and becomes a very fun character to me. I wish they would articulate those legs a bit (and if Hasbro ever did I probably would have placed this figure higher on the list). The articulation over the past 4 years for Star Wars has been great for everything but our shorter figures in which it has been inconsistent at best. Some shorter figures (Yoda for instance) have been fine while others (especially Ewoks) are still holding back. Maybe someday we will get better Ewoks, but even if we do I'm not sure I would grab them, with the exception of Logray here.
Hopefully it will shock you to learn that the background of this picture is the same background I used of the comic version of Original Iron Man from last year. Yes there was a lot of work done to make the two different.
There are X-Men fans who argue Apocalypse is the greatest X-Men Villain of all, and yet when you start examining him you find he's done very little to earn that status. One of his major achievements was done in an alternate reality (Age of Apocalypse) and even then he was ripped apart by the guy I consider the greatest X-Men Magneto.
This Magneto is intended to represent the "Ultimates" universe version of him. When I heard the parts that were being used I was kind of skeptical, but I have to say in application the parts work and work well. I also really like the colors for his outfit and cape, while a bit of a deviation I do have to admit I get a certain level of sinister intent from him now. The black wash on his face is a bit odd at first but I got used to it quickly.
The major thing that people have been on about this figure is the combo of the Ghost Rider body with the Magneto Secret Wars cape. I have seen lots of pictures where the cape is over the collar of the GR mold which looks odd. It looks better below the collar, but that also limits Magneto's movement, so there is a tradeoff.
Still I find him a better Magneto than what was in the Secret Wars pack, his colors take some getting used to but do work and his mold does have more articulation than the SW mold. Also the SW mold was rather lanky but this one looks to be just right IMO.
Of course Magneto ends up being one of those MAJOR Marvel Villains as well. While sometimes people try to put him in a anti-hero place since 'we understand his views" I think fans often forget he isn't about equality by violent means, he is about ruling through force. While we may understand how his experiences in Nazi Germany created that mindset, in a way it also points to Magneto taking on the traits of his oppressors in order to avoid being oppressed himself. Not exactly heroic or even "anti-hero" of him.
Still he is a likeable Villain and this is a very good representation of him. We still need a much better one though, so here is hoping we get a comic accurate one that is a nice figure as well, but this figure can fill that role for the time being.
Snake Eyes Renegades
Does anyone really need another Snake Eyes, No. So what do you do when a good one comes out even if he isn't as good as the legendary POC wave 3 version? Well when the wife gets the former version for you for Christmas, you try to like it.
Actually I kind of like him anyway, he's got elements of previous versions but also is his own entity. That is a tough balance to achieve. No he's not better than his POC version but he also isn't trying to be.
I admit though, I didn't really like the Renegades Cartoon at all, It felt like a rip off of the A-Team with Cobra being the reoccurring villains. Thankfully, for the most part, the figures aren't exact to the series. There were some very basic elements that were somewhat unique and translated well into figure form. While I don't need yet another Snake Eyes, I have to admit this one takes those elements from the cartoon designs and got rid of most of what I hated about it. It's a good figure but not great. Still I can safely say it is a favorite of the year even though it's not the best Snake Eyes ever.
I believe I mentioned last year how much I really liked Tron Legacy. One of my favorite aspects of the film was Olivia Wylde's performance as Quorra. Beyond Wylde's beauty, the fact is Quorra had a wide-eyed innocence while simultaneously being tough as nails and a very capable combatant. This is a rare type of role and hard to pull of for even the best actors or actresses.
Quorra's figure hit in the very hard to find Wave 2 of Tron Legacy which almost went straight to clearance when it did show up. I was disappointed for a bit about the fact she was in her helmet which she wore for all of 30 seconds of the film. Then I looked over at Kevin Flynn and realized she is probably better off that way, I would hate to see what they might have done with Wylde's likeness after seeing what they did to Jeff Bridges.
In that respect the helmet works for her. The Tron Legacy figures were a disappointment overall and it would have been nice to have better articulation for them as well as some better face molds on the unmasked figures. Still the masked figures worked on some level and made me want them. Quorra was probably my favorite character of the movie and the only one I was searching for from the second wave. There were several rumored figures that never made it to the stores (Caster, Tron, Derezzed Black Guard) and no word on them as apparently bad sales (due to high prices IMO) kept them from seeing the light of day. Of course the entirely too high of a price tag helped this line kind of stagnate. Still Quorra, in spite of so many faults, ends up being a real gem in the line. It's doubtful we will ever see any more Tron related figures after this run since the movie apparently is not spawning a sequel as hoped. In a way it's a shame and in some ways it's a relief which is also a shame.
Thundercats is not something I have ever grabbed onto like many my age. I'm not sure what it is, maybe I was too old at that point for a another fantasy based series or maybe it was the scale of those original figures. When Bandai announced they were putting Thundercats in 1:18th scale I was a bit skeptical. I wasn't sure how I would feel about that at all. Now that it has come to pass I have to say there were some great ideas there but also some horrid dudes. Thankfully this isn't one of them.
Tygra literally was not on my radar but I ended up grabbing him anyway just to get closer to a complete team (and if they ever redo the kits I will feel I have a complete team). I was surprised that this figure was actually better than Lion-O (the main character) and for once the rubbery nature of the accessories wasn't a huge deal (as whips are supposed to be flexible). His head looks kind of like a rip off of Wolverine, but it's not something I can't live with.
Honestly, I like him a lot for a figure I was going to pass on, I am kind of glad I decided to grab him in the end as he makes for an interesting figure and character. I'm kind of glad I did now although I admit I was hesitant, but Tygra works on a ton of levels.
The Lizard is a character I have a very long history with. He is one of the very few Mego figures I had when I was a kid, and once I got him I was fascinated. The first thing I asked is "Why does any genius in the Marvel Universe wearing purple pants (just as the hulk had). But the character was very unusual and garnered my attention from day one.
I've always had a soft spot for Lizard and I'm not sure why. Perhaps because he is one of the few Spider-Man villains who is not in control of his state and thus Spidey can't just beat the daylights out of him. Maybe it's because the Lizard can turn into a feral force that isn't negotiable. Honestly, I just don't know.
Of course Lizard will be in the new Spider-Man movie and we should expect a new release of the Lizard when the movie hits. How good or bad that figure might be is still an unknown quantity. However I will say that initial pictures of some of the related merchandise is not promising. With that in mind I jumped on this figure as it might be the closest to a comic Lizard we will ever get.
To say Wolvie looked a bit odd in his first appearance would be an understatement. At the time I'm not sure what the thought was on the character, but considering how prominent he was featured on the cover of Incredible Hulk #181 I have to think there were big plans for him later but that those plans went in another direction when he appeared in X-Men.
This is one of those figures I was seriously going to pass on but ended up getting through various channels. Once I got him a strange thing happened, I just couldn't put him down. I would catch myself posing and playing around with the figure even though I kept saying he was ugly. It's especially weird when you consider that this figure really has nothing new or spectacular and is for the post part a rehash of the Wolverine Origins Wolverine.
Still he somehow transcends all of this and becomes fun. His look is odd but accurate to his first appearance and he is really enjoyable just as a figure. I grant you that I am pretty sick of all the Wolverine figures in the MU line, but this one is kind of special and different. If only we could talk Hasbro into not tossing him into all the revision cases now.
So to be blunt, I hated the Renegades cartoon and I really didn't like the mask the designers gave Firefly. However the figure itself is a pretty awesome by itself.
If you overlook the head, the rest of the figure is actually pretty darned awesome. He has neat grenades in his sleeve and plenty of stuff on his jacket including a cool scabbard for his knife. It's all so cool it acutely transcends the horrible nose poking mask. In addition his accessories are familiar yet are not the redone to death types they could have been.
His portrayal in the cartoon is also something I didn't like. To me Firefly is a very cool character who can take out the entire GI Joe air force with a bit of acid or demolish the Joes forward advance with a few grenades. In Renegades he was a creepy firebug that honestly killed his cool factor in the show and made him almost a caricature to his former self. I equate this to the similar treatment Beachead received in the Spy Troops movie when he was given a surfer accent. I get trying to connect characters with names and all but sometimes I think animators forget those cool elements that made the characters great in the first place.
This guy was also pretty easy to find unlike several other GI Joes this year. The shipments of this wave seemed to be pretty steady and regular which is refreshing when you consider how Hasbro's distribution has been in the past few years.