On of my favorite Captain America storylines is when the US Government takes back Cap's persona and he is forced into another outfit. That outfit ultimately went to Cap's replacement who later became the US Agent. John Walker put on the garb and in a way I was pretty pleased with that. The uniform was quite defiantly Cap inspired for when Cap wore it as simply "The Captain" but I also thought it was an interesting look to say the least. Walker, as Cap, was interesting but also a victim of his own circumstances. He was painted as a psycho but I couldn't help but feel for him a bit as he was thrust into a big situation that he couldn't control.
I admit as US Agent Walker has had some down turns, but I still never wanted to see him leave the Marvel Universe. He seemed to get over his mental issues pretty quick after Cap handed him his rear end and returned in The Captain uniform. Not sure if that was ever explained, I mean did Cap give him the uniform, did cap drop the uniform and Walker picked it up. Who knows, it's still a cool design and finally we got a decent version of him.
Granted he was done way back by Toybiz and their 5 inch line, which was a repaint of Cap and you could see the star and mesh of cap under the paint. I admit when fans kept saying to repaint Cap to make US Agent my mind flashed back to those early Toybiz figures and I was a bit worried Hasbro would do the same. Thankfully his torso is different than Cap's to make him distinct.
A good figure and probably won't be seen as a figure again. I know that's a bold call but when you think about it US Agent isn't high on people's must have lists. His character hasn't been treated too great by Marvel to say the least. I still think it's a very cool design and am glad to have a figure of it.
Stalker is one of the most unfortunately named Joes of all, even worse than Snow Job. At the time the word "stalker" didn't have the terrible meaning it does now. Still he ended up being one of my favorite characters of the original 13 GI Joe figures. Stalker was a bit different from the others, he had a beret which none of the other figures had and he had an awesome camouflage pattern on his uniform. He was often only seen in the background or reserved for small parts. One of my most vivid memories is Stalker sparing with someone in the GI Joe introduction of the cartoon. Because of that I made him a very good hand-to-hand combatant. This was before Snake Eyes was firmly established as a Ninja and he was still Commando. Stalker kind of became my martial arts guy as a result and when Storm Shadow hit Stalker was my main guy to take him on.
It seems that Stalker often has to share his mold with Snake Eyes. His version one did (as most of the 1982 figures shared molds), his 25th anniversary figure also shared a mold with Snake Eyes, and his Resolute box set uses parts from City Strike Snake Eyes. So not wanting to break tradition Hasbro reused the body of POC wave 3 Snake Eyes and repainted it. Still Stalker being one of my favorite Joes it's hard NOT to include him on my favorites list.
He has been done a few times in the past much more than Lifeline or others on this list, but Stalker hasn't been redone to the point of Duke and company. As such he does have that "freshness factor" that I believe has made GI Joe so viable this year, sure we got more Snake Eyes and such, but all around them were familiar faces and new ideas that haven't been done to the point of annoyance. Personally I welcome it and wish Star Wars would follow suit in many ways (although I admit SW has some decent stuff in the wings).
Ah, the Thor movie line, it just didn't live up to any expectations. Too many of the same mold of Thor, shrimpy frost giants (granted they were film accurate) hard to find Warriors Three that ended up being disappointments, no sign of potentially cool figures like King Loki and Lady Sif (unless you were lucky that is) but there was one saving grace, we got Odin.
While he isn't a comic influenced Odin, I find it hard to be disappointed in an Anthony Hopkins figure. I admit I think he would have been better served with some sort of crown and at least a spear, but his likeness is pretty good to the portrayal in the movie. There were three repaints of this figure (which just goes to explain how much exasperation I had for the Thor movie line) but all of them were pretty cool in their own rights. While the movie never explains the lost eye of Odin, I have a feeling this might be brought up later in the sequel.
But overall I like Odin, he appears strong and sturdy without being menacing (A look some artist have never been able to pull off in the regular Thor comics). While I was overall disappointed in most of the Thor Movie looks, Odin's fits the character perfectly and (sadly) is likely to be the only stab at the All-Father in 3 & 3/4 scale. He's also one of the few Thor Movie line figures I wasn't disappointed in right after getting him out of the box (Destroyer was close, but the light up feature and shoulders ended up bothering me after a while). Part of me suspects I would feel similarly about Lady Sif, but alas I was unable to track her down.
Some have said Thor couldn't have been made into a decent toyline for various reasons. I just have to point you to this article I wrote this year (long winded but covers just about every apologist excuse, and has a few jokes) about how the line could have been much more dynamic.
Odin is a welcome addition to the menagerie, simply put I just really enjoy him.
Sometimes it's great to update a figure with new toy technology. Other times it's great to take the essence of the character but go in a different direction with them. The latter case is exactly what happened with Law & Order. This figure could have easily have had an open vest and version 1 colors, but instead Hasbro decided to go in a different direction.
Most likely this was the figure was influenced by the Renegades cartoon. Truthfully I never saw the episode that Law and Order appeared in and wouldn't know how close the figure is to the cartoon, but I will say it looks very much like his original version but updated.
Again Hasbro shows us how they can make good figures from recycled parts, the legs are from Snake Eyes while the torso and arms are from Renegades Duke. Yet again these are presented in such a way that the parts are barely recognizable without close inspection.
Like all classic Joes, Law and Order has tons of cool accessories like a shotgun, handcuffs and a face mask (I suppose for riots).
Once again Hasbro gives out a winner in GI Joe line and it comes out of left field.
Bullseye is an odd character admittedly, he never misses. Not because he has some super-power or even training he simply doesn't miss. Many of his appearances take this idea and toss him over the top. In some ways it works, even though we know that a playing card cannot kill on it's own (as shown in Mythbusters) we still kind of accept that Bullseye can do it. We accept he can throw a stick without a point so hard it penetrates a man's chest. Basically most fans who like Bullseye give him a ton of leeway.
Bullseye is the Joker to Daredevil's Batman, his Lex Luthor to DD's Superman. As such he has a certain level he needs to live up to but Hasbro's first stab at Bullseye was way short of the mark. Finally, this year Bullseye got a great upgrade using the Cyclops body. It's a body that fits him much better in both stature and possibility. In short, Bullseye is fun again.
Unlike many Marvel Universe figures, Bullseye comes with weapons, specifically a gun and a knife both of which can fit on holsters. This makes the figure that much more enjoyable.
But what sets this figure ahead is the head sculpt, especially the arrogant smirk on his face. A great figure by any standard.
Zam Wassel exemplifies what Hasbro can do if they try hard. They have take a character I really didn't care very much for (as she barely did anything besides be chased), whose purpose in the movie is questionable (after all, why would a bounty hunter hire another bounty hunter), and stars in probably my least favorite film of the Star Wars saga (probably the only one I would say I hate and can find no redeemable qualities). Still, somehow, Zam just rocks.
She has an alternate head (to reflect her shape changing ability) and some nifty attachments to her helmet for her veil (both covering her face and open). Her likeness is pretty sold to the movie as well. In other words a great representation of the character.
As a bounty hunter she has many uses as well, specifically hunting for bounties. With her limited appearances she can take on characteristics chosen by the individual but being that she has enough of an appearance you can get a good baseline for her character as well.
Add to that she has a nice complement of weaponry, especially her sniper rifle. Again this is proof Hasbro has some great capabilities when they apply them. This is one of the very few times a figure has transcended my dislike of a character or concept. She's a winner in almost every respect.
Besides Logray and Balista Shan (mentioned earlier) this was probably the last Star Wars figure I bought. Not because of lack of desire, but because I couldn't find anything, I mean ANYTHING, new. She also came about a bit late cause she was hard to find (yes, women don't sell supposedly). I wouldn't call her hard to find, but slightly difficult verses the rest of her wave which was easy as can be to track down. I do think it says something when a wave is a piece of cake to spot but one character is more difficult to get a hold of. Thankfully Zam isn't a very popular character, cause if she was I bet I would have another Bespin Han lack of finding situation again.
Crossbones kind of came out of nowhere in Marvel. He started out as Red Skull's enforcer (which has not changed too much really) and was fiercely loyal to the big red head. One of the best aspects of Crossbones is he was held back by the Red Skull. In other words he and Cap rarely clashed at first despite the fact Crossbones was always around in the Cap series. He is a cool mercenary but unfortunate he was screwed up in Thunderbolts being given a weird blast from his face, yes Marvel really can screw up the best characters.
Still I tend to keep my thoughts on Crossbones to the past when he was cool. He's the guy who shot Cap (but didn't finish him) and is an all around tough adversary. No powers, just lots of combat training and very proficient with guns.
Unfortunately his weapon complement was a bit weak. He had two oversized guns and a rifle all colored green. However when you have been collection for 36 years you tend to have a few extra weapons which I gladly supplied him with a few. He also is one of the very few non-Captain America figures in the Captain America line (I would say movie line, but being only 3 or 4 movie influenced figures were in the line that is difficult to justify). At first he was hard to find but eventually he got to be easier, but not to easy. To me this is a testament to how Hasbro doesn't quite understand the audience and what sells in individual waves. But I digress.
Crossbones, cool, tough, and a great figure.
Lucky 13 goes to a long time favorite of mine.
One of my favorite moments in the old GI Joe cartoon features Low Light. Zandar tries to break into the Joe base and Low Light spots him and begins shooting. Zandar runs like a demon was on his heels. Then someone (I think Sci-Fi) turns to Low Light and says "I've never seen anyone run that fast" to which Low Light responds "You never saw me shootin' at them."
I think at one point the original characterization of Snake Eyes was dumped on Low Light. Long before Snake Eyes was a Ninja, he was "the good guy that went bump in the night" which seemed to be how Low Light was portrayed in the Sunbow Cartoon. Once Snake Eyes became a Ninja much of his commando persona faded away. While a sniper (or rather night spotter) is not a commando, it still is easy to fit that "good guy that goes bump in the night" persona on him. Add to the fact he actually speaks and he becomes a prime candidate for it in the cartoon as well. I'm sure some who don't remember the first incarnation of GI Joe will argue about that, but it seems to make sense if you think about it.
Still a sniper has a lot of room in the modern GI Joe line but all attempts just cause you to look back to the original: Low Light. Since we haven't seen a Low Light since the DTC Line he, like many others this year, seems very fresh and underused (seem familiar) and as such adds to is appeal.
Then add in the nifty sniper rifle, the huge amount of gear and even the cool ammo box with removable bullet, hey this is an awesome figure of an awesome character.
As a comic fan I was luke warm to Deadpool, but once I began utilizing him in my Photo Web Comic (shameless plug) he really opened up to me. Deadpool is fun cause he has no limits. You can make him as goofy as you want and really there is no reason not to, he can say (and nearly do) anything. He really became a liberating character to write, a great deal of fun and refreshing.
It took me a very long time to figure out Deadpool as a character, that level of chaos is hard to capture (but also makes a great contrast to some of the serious characters like Dr. Manhattan, oops, was that a spoiler, maybe). This is the fourth release of the character and in many ways we really don't have that definitive version of him, this one comes closest yet though.
We also got an X-force version in the team pack. That one is cool for the novelty of it, but this one is a vast improvement in accessories as compared to any of the previous ones. The head is improved and a little better but still far from perfect. Hopefully DP will get that "perfect" version soon (and then we will probably have a ton of repaints of it, that is when Hasbro figures out he is a popular character). I do think that Deadpool is popular enough to be one of the repaint guys and thus put one of the overly repainted characters to rest for a while (i.e. Wolverine, Iron Man, Cap, ect). I doubt we will see that happen however.
Adding to Deadpool's appeal is his comic pack-mate, who will be mentioned later. Still there hasn't been a single pack Deadpool since Wolverine Origins which leads me to believe Hasbro doesn't realize how popular DP really is (as less popular characters are usually assigned to multi-packs under the Hasbro model). Still this was one of the hardest to find comic packs at retail and if you were lucky enough to find it you grabbed it ASAP. But in the past Comic packs for MU have been some of the easiest things to track down. The only other comic pack I had trouble with was the Doom/Absorbing Man pack (which proves how villains never sell right) of course a better Absorbing Man and Doom were repainted for MU, making the original comic pack easier to find once it was re-released. Still I think the point is there.
Who is the best foil for the ultimate power, Loki: the God of Mischief. It's easy to see how Loki and Thor have a Superman/Lex Luthor dynamic going on. Loki cannot go toe-to-toe with Thor no matter how hard he tries (although people often forget Loki is no weakling either, just not as mighty as Thor). As such Thor's tussles with his half/adopted brother tend to become interesting to say the least. Loki has to use Magic, manipulation, and most of all his wits to be a credible threat to Thor. The oddest thing is that despite some oddball stories Loki does manage to do that most of the time.
It was a bit disappointing that Loki didn't get a regular release in a single pack, while I did like the Frost Giant he came with I really think Loki is a big enough character to warrant his own single pack (but of course Hasbro says villains don't sell, but see Deadpool above about the comic packs).
But even though the King Loki was near impossible to find in the Thor line and this Loki was in a hard to find multi=pack, he still is pretty cool and is one of the biggest villains in the Marvel Universe bar none. Really we DID get the big names in villains with the exception of Kingpin this year so that is something and Loki is a huge part of that. I grant you I would have liked him better with more details (like molded on chain mail rather than painted) but overall this figure is pretty cool and looks great with the Marvel Universe modern version of Thor.