Holy Crap, ANOTHER Wolverine!!!!!  Yeah, he has been over represented in the Marvel Universe line by Hasbro.  Hasbro has latched on to some characters to the point of too far.  Iron Man, Captain America, Spider-Man and of course Wolverine here.  At first you might think that they latch on to whoever has had a movie, but apparently Ghost Rider, Daredevil and Punisher don't qualify in that realm.  Still the classic "putting all the eggs in one basket" line of marketing is alive and well.  Transformers, GI Joe, Star Wars and others have suffered this and it appears Marvel Universe cannot be spared either.  What I would like to see is a shift in concentration giving other top their characters a shot for a while and giving us a break from the same old same old.  Hulk, Daredevil, ect can fill in for a bit and let the other guys take a break.  So with that in mind why is this version of Wolverine on my favorites list?

One side effect of doing the same character over and over is that every once in a while they just nail the character, such is the case here.  To be blunt the figure is just awesome.  He has well hidden articulation and the mold just suits Wolverine perfectly.  Like many really cool versions of a character it will be very hard to convince me to buy another after this one.  I won't say never but I will say unlikely.  

What was funny about this figure is that I was going to pass on him until I got the X-Force team pack.  The mold was used there and it really worked, but it is much better in the yellow and blue.  


Something really weird happened when I bought the Jungle BAT.  I will try to explain.  Simply put I love BAT's, when they first came out in 1986 I was kind of disappointed since I thought GI Joe was making these just to have robots to shoot.  However, I thought about it and I realize Cobra would use BAT's just because they needed more troops quickly.  After I justified there existence I bought up many and I have to say they became one of my favorite army builders.

After the 25th anniversary releases I did let up on my BAT-building.  While I did grab a few variations, for the most part I let BAT's be.  I did intend to get this variation of course but I didn't think much of it.  One day I happened to come into a Wal-Mart to see a full case of the BAT's Wave hanging on the shelf.  There were two BAT's an I grabbed one.  Later that day at another Wal-Mart I saw yet another but left it.  I have to admit I regretted it after I opened him.  

The BAT is much cooler than his description, the major reason is the paint which wasn't well represented in press pictures.  His camouflage had more colors than the press pictures showed.  Also the addition of Heavy Duty's gattling gun just fit the BAT perfectly.  

After I reviewed this guy some felt it necessary to try to call me on some fact.  This is from the "surprise" waves of POC (5 & 6) and I pointed out that nowhere did Hasbro actually say that Pursuit of Cobra would end at Wave 4.  Despite some best efforts no one was able to point out exactly where Hasbro said this, but of course because some assumed only four waves I got branded a liar and "spreading false information."  Sometimes I think people take this stuff way too seriously LOL.  


So to be honest I have never really gotten this trend of kids of super-heroes being nearly identical to the super-hero themselves.  Skaar fits this perfectly, he seems to have just sprouted up fully grown and ready to beat the daylights out of his dad, the Hulk.  At least until he got to know Hulk and now they get along.  Wish my dad's and mine issues had been handled so easy.  

When I saw this figure previewed at Toyfair, I thought he looked like the Hulk with a bad wig.  I actually laughed at him.  Still I felt he was one of those characters I needed to grab for Scale Wars.  I mean there are so many "disappointing sons" jokes I can do with him and others (Dakken, Mutt Williams, ect).  Well apparently the figure was redone a bit from Toyfair and actually turned out cooler than I expected.  Doesn't mean I not going with those disappointing son jokes though.  

My guess is that the pictures we saw at Toyfair last year was a prototype.  The head looks slightly different as does the paint of the tattoos.  Skaar still isn't an interesting character in the comics to me, but his figure makes for a ton of potential for someone that does constant jokes like I do.  


This was a figure I was really going to avoid.  It's not that I hate Cyclops, but in the past few years we have gotten several of him and when I first saw this figure in press pictures I assumed he used the same sculpt.  When I found Cable his dad Cyclops was there so I figured since he was packed one per case that I should grab him.  I got him home and tore into Cable and left poor Cyclops to the side.  After a bit I finally opened Cyclops and was met with a huge surprise, the sculpt not only was new it was one of the most friggin awesome looking and articulated action figures I have seen released in this country.

A major thing that makes this figure so awesome is the articulation, but more than that the articulation is not only increased but it's also hidden.  I was always kind of neutral to the Jim Lee design for Cyclops.  It's not bad but some have labeled it the greatest design for the character ever.  I always felt it just added a buckle here and a clasp there and was just ok.  It did break up the flat blue of his previous designs and probably is the reason people have called the design so dynamic, but I thought it was just a minor touch up myself.  

Still I didn't hate it either, it was ok but I was trying to cut back on the spending and I didn't really need another if it was exactly the same.  The point being is that it was so well done it was a radical change and it wasn't noticed at first.  The body has been reused to upgrade several characters into much, much better incarnations (more on that later).  Just for pure esthetics this is one of the best figures in 1:18th scale yet.  Granted character counts for a lot too and unlike many I kind of like Cyclops.  He was the necessary counter balance to Wolverine that created conflict and drama for the X-Men.  


I could write a book about what I hated about the prequels to Star Wars.  But it will take me a paragraph to talk about what I liked and less than that to discover why this guy is one my favorites list.  One of the aspects I really liked about the prequels is we finally had Jedi other than Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Luke.  Even better we had several aliens in the roles of Jedi.  One of the most interesting to me is Fi-Ek Sirch.

In case you don't recognize the race this guy belongs to one of his kind (Nikto) was one of the skiff guards to Jabba the Hutt.  This is kind of interesting in the fact that (for the most part) George Lucas tended to keep races in certain roles (ie Boosk's race is a race of hunters for example).  Anyway the point is that one of Jabba's guards and a Jedi is a pretty big stretch of roles when you think about it, but also it's a good thing.  Lucas sometimes bugged me with the whole races being all one way so often and this one breaks the pattern thankfully.  Otherwise some of the "racist" claims placed upon other characters of Star Wars begin to gain some credence.  

Beyond the race fact, he is simply an interesting looking Jedi.  Unlike some of the other prequel designs, Fi-Ek Sirch looks like an actual alien and one you could believe is flying around the galaxy.  Sure he's not human but is not so out there that he is unbelievable.  In addition he has the distinction of hardly having been done in the Star Wars line (the only previous version was simply referred to as Nikto Jedi in the Episode II line which also featured much, much less articulation).

However, when you look the guy up in Wookiepedia (the Star Wars Wiki) you realize this is one of those characters that really has nothing at all about him anywhere.  In some ways that's a good thing since he becomes a sort of blank slate for anyone to put whatever character they want on the figure.  However, one of the fun things about the various Jedi in the Star Wars Prequels is finding the stories behind them and who and what they are, and here you don't get that joy.  


Speaking of blank slates, here comes Shadow Tracker.  For years, I have said that one thing the GI Joe line needs is some fresh faces.  No matter how much you like Snow Job, Snake Eyes, or any other character there is only so many versions you can withstand in a year (and Hasbro seems determined to see exactly what our breaking point is).  FINALLY Hasbro broke out a new idea and gave us a new character (which BTW to me is the lifeblood of what GI Joe is to begin with).  

I love the GI Joe property overall and it's hard to deny that the most successful years of the brand was when they were coming out with new characters each year (1982-1990) and the toy line only started faltering when the line was overloaded with rehashes (see 1994 the last year of the original run if you don't believe that) so for the life of me I cannot figure out why Hasbro insists they need a constant supply of core characters that often warm the pegs.  I suppose I am trying to argue with hurricane force winds with that one, so let's move on.  

Shadow Tracker has no guns, which makes him even MORE interesting.   The filecard he comes with mentions nothing about why he doesn't use guns and with no media appearances you are kind of left to make up a reason.  Is it trauma, a desire to be stealthy, or something more.  Blank slates like this can be a problem as with Fi-Ek Sirch above, but GI Joe does have a long line of characters like this and thus blank slates translate easier into GI Joe than they do Star Wars.

Much has been said about Shadow Tracker being designed after the look of the Predator.  I can see where people get that, especially when you look at GI Joe the past few years and see some inspiration obviously did come from that movie (Recondo, Spirit).  However, the only real resemblance to me is the dreadlocks which match up to a Predator (as seen in Predator 2).  Also if you are marketing a toy line to kids, it seems odd to get inspiration from a movie that is nearly 30 years old and was rated "R" to begin with.  Even though there are modern sequels and reboots, those are aimed at people from the 80's more than now.  However, in that same line of thought I am convinced that Storm Shadow's original design was inspired by Enter the Ninja, so who knows.  

Still he's a fun character with a great deal of interesting tidbits about him.  


When I heard Darth Maul's brother was going to be in Star Wars the Clone Wars I had to laugh.  Talk about a stretch but the episodes with Savage Opress turned out kind of interesting after all.  Ultimately he became an interesting character in his own right (however, it appears he is still being overshadowed by his brother in the series).  

Still I was very surprised when I got Savage, he is taller than I expected (which makes sense if you saw the episode).  His meanness is quite apparent in his face sculpt as well (which could pass for Maul easy).  His main axe is familiar but also not the same as we have seen.  All around a pretty solid figure.

But more than solid figures are characters and while Savage has yet to really shine he already has made a big impact on Clone Wars.  He's interesting but not in the way some characters are, he is almost forced to be what he is and yet there is very little sympathy you can give towards him.  It's an interesting dynamic and at this point I do wonder what the team of Maul and Savage will bring us, time will tell I suppose.  

Still the other reason I had to have him was so Maul and he could do a doublemint commercial together.  Despite being so tall, Savage is a dead ringer for Maul.  In fact he looks like a color negative of him (red eyes and yellow skin) which is some ways is funny.  



What do you do when you have a bad arsed character and you want him to be even more bad arsed on the cartoon: you hire Clancy Brown to be the voice.  Grune The Warrior was kind of a pass for me until I watched the Thundercats cartoon, then he was a lock just due to Clancy Brown's voicework.  I mean look at Grune, he LOOKS like he should be voiced by Clancy Brown.  

But Grune has more going for him, he was with the Thundercats at the beginning and then turned on them.  I'm not sure if a why has been fully spelled out, but as a bad guy he rocks.  He's tough, battle hardened and his mace is pretty unstoppable which is a great combination for a character.  I'm really not sure why he was left to the Deluxe line though (and therefore was kind of hard to find).  His mace is oversized but could have easily been in a normal package.  He is a tall figure but not bigger than Panthro either.  

Still I doubt I would have spent the extra money for him if he weren't who he was (the same with Deluxe Mumm-Ra) and I am glad to have him.  He has one flaw (hair prevents neck movement) but is overall a cool and interesting figure from a line I almost ignored this year.  


"But=But Lifeline's a pacifist" was the gripe heard round the interewebs when fans noticed the big honking gun in his hand.  So with that in mind I purposefully placed his original card art and bio picture from the comic up to show his earliest appearances he was indeed packing heat.  My suspicion on what happened to Lifeline relates to the old Sunbow cartoon.  Doc was the original pacifist for GI Joe but he had been seen firing and carrying guns in the show.  When Lifeline hit it seemed to me the show's producers just threw Doc's personality on Lifeline.  He exhibited this same behavior in the comic as well, my suspicion is that Hasbro didn't want too much confusion with the character and made a few demands, but who knows.

Either way I never really adopted the "Lifeline is a pacifist" train of thought and ran with my own take on him.  As such seeing him with a big honking gun really didn't bother me at all.  Lifeline is a Paramedic and Rescue Trooper which are both very necessary in the GI Joe world.  Some refer to him as a medic (which is the job he was given in the comic after Doc was killed off) but I felt the Rescue Trooper always fit him better.  

With 30th anniversary line we get another take on Lifeline which more closely resembles his original release.  It's a great update with lots of cool accessories even beyond the guns.  He's got a bunch of rescue equipment and looks ready to take on jumping into action to save his fellow GI Joe's.

But more to that this is the first Lifeline we have seen in quite a while, the last regular retail release was 2004 (Although there was a convention exclusive one in 2010) and as such he seems not as worn as some of the regular Joes (Duke, Cobra Commander) and is therefore somewhat fresh.  The Freshness Factor helps a great deal as the beginning of the Pursuit of Cobra line was feeling a bit stagnant with more rehashes (Although some excellent designs came from that point, the characters had nearly worn out their welcome).  This kind of feeds that "New Blood" aspect I mentioned with Shadow Tracker while keeping with established characters, a great idea to keep the line moving forward to say the least.  

Lastly, and I will repeat this a few more times, I have been badgering Hasbro to just bring it with the GI Joe line.  Knock my socks off and show that this line still has some life.  They finally did this year, granted there are some weak points but overall GI Joe looks more fresh and vibrant than it has in quite a while.  Too bad distribution has caused some headaches with the line though. 


The early 90's were an interesting time in comics, wait I think I used that already, CRAP!  Anyway, I really loved Darkhawk's series back in the day, it was some interesting comic writing.  In some ways he had the Spider-Man vibe of kid with amazing powers learning how to use them.  For whatever reason (and believe me those who read these books back then really have lots of reasons they will relate to you if you ask), the series was cancelled even though I personally felt it would have had some longevity IF Marvel had given Darkhawk some more interesting stories. 

To call Darkhawk a "Z-List" character would be a bit of an understatement.  When he was announced there were fans who responded "who?"  I have to admit he was close to the last name I expected to see on a Marvel Universe list.  His very presence gives hope to characters like Sleepwalker and Deathlok. 

Beyond the possibilities his inclusion has on the Marvel Universe line, he actually is a cool figure.  While much of him is recycled it works on the level of giving him a thin but strong frame. 

But most of all the fact that Darkhawk was even thought of makes a fan think anything is possible in this nutty and crazy MU line, now bring on Deathlok.