NECA Dungeons & Dragons Warduke Ultimate Action Figure

War were declared.

When it comes to the subject of New Year’s Resolutions, I consider the topic to be a fairly silly one. If there’s something in your life that you could improve upon, or a habit that should be broken, don’t wait for a new year to try to make that change – just do it! Making a resolution for the sake of one is also silly, sort of like giving up something for Lent, but people are going to do it anyway. I abstain from the practice, though if I were to make a resolution for 2023 it might have been to narrow my toy collecting a bit. For the most part, I tend to stay in my lane, but every so often I stray. I also widened that lane in 2022 due to the launch of collectibles based on the X-Men cartoon from 30 years ago. That caused me to broaden my Marvel collecting a bit more than it probably needed to go, but I can’t say I regret it. Mostly, it just felt like my collecting was expanding because other lines I was interested in started showing up or expanding. I’m talking about Gargoyles, Disney Ultimates, and soon I’ll be talking about The Simpsons. My Dragon Ball collecting continued to grow, and Bandai launched a line from its Robot Spirits brand focusing on my favorite Gundam series. Plus NECA’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles rolled along and then there was the Christmas splurge. Yeah, if anything, I might have dove into the ranks of Christmas toys more than I should have because now I’m struggling to make room for everything I have and that’s a problem that isn’t going away. Which is why now isn’t really the best time for me to once more go outside my comfort zone, but sometimes a toy so cool comes along that it becomes hard to ignore. And that is why, my friends, I’m going to tell you all about NECA’s latest from its line of action figures based on Dungeons & Dragons – Warduke!

Obviously, a totally different scale here, but I don’t mind. I want Warduke to tower over others.

Warduke is a character born in the 80s, or late 70s, and was featured in LJN’s line of D&D toys back then. I’m assuming he appeared in some actual campaign materials as well and I think he was featured in the animated series. That said, I have no familiarity with the character other than I’ve seen images of him before. I never got into the show and my brief dance with D&D in middle school didn’t cross-over with anything featuring Warduke. I was a DragonLance guy and I will say I see some influence in the designs of some of the dragon riders from those books likely borrowed from Warduke. Basically the blue-tinted scale mail and winged helm. Neither is probably all that original in the fantasy world, but considering both are D&D properties I wouldn’t be shocked to find out some of Warduke made it into DragonLance. As for Wardule himself, his design is pretty damn original and unique owing in large part to the half-armored/half-naked look he presents. Say what you will about the effectiveness of his attire in actual combat, you can’t deny it’s striking in figure form. There’s an outlandish element to it, but he pulls it off somehow. He should look silly, downright stupid, but it works. And since I do have that Hasbro Drizzt figure from a couple of years ago, I was able to convince myself to just grab this figure and enjoy it for what it is and hope I don’t end up falling down a D&D rabbit (esquilax?) hole. This guy also received a lot of hype and praise in the toy world with the chief championer of Warduke being Dan Larson of Secret Galaxy. A prominent toy collector from my native New Hampshire is basically the tipping point so let’s find out if the hype is warranted or not.

Warduke demands that you buy him!

Warduke is part of NECA’s Ultimate line of figures and comes in the standard five-panel box. The front cover features some lovely artwork of the character by Daniel Horne that’s very evocative of old school Dungeons & Dragons game manual covers. The rest of the box is reserved for product shots and the front flap opens to reveal a look at the figure inside. I love the use of the classic D&D font and who doesn’t love a box advertising the fact that it’s figures are evil? Once removed from his prison, Warduke stands a mighty 7.5″ to the top of his head and 8.25″ to the tips of the wings on his legendary dread helm. The entirety of the figure, or near entirety, is painted and the portions that should be matte are, and the ones meant to shine a bit under light do. The blue of the helm and armor pieces are especially eye-catching as it has a nice, metallic, sheen to it. The face behind the helm is entirely black, his helmet is sort of tiered with blue outside and a black one inside, with the red eyes being the only spot of color there. The paint is quite clean and crisp throughout which continues to be NECA’s strong suit. I don’t know how they achieve such consistency at their prices, but whatever they’re doing other companies need to start copying.

Warduke has this bisected design where he’s sporting this stylish blue armor on one side and he’s pretty much naked on the other.

The costume for Warduke is, in a word, intense. His torso is layered with straps and jewelry and his midsection features a garrish belt looking like a WWE take on a D&D champion. His torso and arms are well-muscled, though I feel like he could have used just a touch more bulk. The image on the box cover is a hulking being with a more exaggerated upper torso that I think would have looked better. This figure seems to be going for a slightly more realistic interpretation. It’s really only an issue for me when Warduke is just standing at attention as once posed with weapons in hand he looks more intimidating. His arms also can’t be placed at his sides which looks a little goofy, but again, you’re not going to pose him that way so it’s a moot issue. There’s a nice paint wash applied to his furred loincloth which adds a lot of depth to the piece and I love how the shoulder pad looks distressed as if he’s been through many a battle. This is the type of figure where there’s so much to take in upfront you’re bound to miss something. I keep spotting new things or finding something else to appreciate each time I pick him up which makes me want to fiddle with him, even if there’s a delicate component to all of the stuff on him that also makes me want to handle with care. I’m pretty sure I didn’t notice the satchel on the rear of his belt when I first picked him up or even the asymmetrical boots. And even though there’s a lot here, NECA was pretty smart with how it affixed everything to the figure. The straps on his torso are all separate pieces, but they’re glued down in places to keep them from lifting too far off of the figure. The necklace is either keyed in or glued as well so it lays relatively flat like a real necklace should. Often, plastic necklaces on figures don’t work out too well when they’re separate or removable because they lack the necessary weight to behave like a necklace should. The sculpt is just all-together incredible so I have to shout out the credited sculptor, Thomas Gwyn, for his work here. Jon Wardell and Geoffrey Trapp are the credited painters and they deserve a ton of praise for how this this figure turned out as well.

Sometimes you don’t need a big, flaming, sword to get the job done.

Let’s jump right into the accessories since they’re a big part of the aesthetics with this guy. Warduke comes with a pair of gripping hands in the box with the right gripping hand having the thumb off to the side. He has a second right, gripping, hand where the thumb is still towards the side of the hand, but it’s attached to the fingers to make it a bit tighter. I’m left to assume that one is intended to work better with the shield and the other one with the weapons. He also has a pointing, right, hand when he needs to point out the next person to die. For the gauntlet hand, he has a second, loose, gripping hand. Again, I think it’s for the shield since this hand is far too loose for any of the weapons. There’s no gesture, or style posed, left hand which is a bit of a bummer, but he does have lots of weapons – three to be exact. First we have his long sword which has a gold hilt with a red jewel embedded in it that matches the helm, necklace, and right boot. The pommel has a claw grabbing a sphere and it’s all in gold with the handle in brown. The blade has a nice silver finish and comes to a long point and it looks like the type of thing one would rather not see opposing them. If you need Warduke to look more menacing, it has a flame effect which slides down the blade all the way to the hilt. It’s a bit tight, but easy enough to get on. It’s cast in translucent yellow plastic with some orange added to the tips of the flames and it looks really awesome. I don’t think Warduke needs flaming weapons to cause a man to void his bowels, but you never can look too intimidating when you’re an evil gladiator.

This one is really tight so be careful.

If Warduke wants to dial things down a bit he does have a short sword. It has a gold and blue hilt and features the same red jewel in the hilt. The blade looks a bit more worn than the sword and I assume that’s intentional as it has a black wash applied to it. Lastly, we also have a dagger. It’s a curved and rather nasty looking item with a handle all done in blue to match his scale mail. It’s more of an ornate looking weapon and I assume this is what Warduke might use to intimidate someone or just to finish off a victim. The blade is a bit more pristine like it’s something the mighty warrior treasures and takes special care of. All three bladed weapons have a scabbard to slot into. The long sword is affixed to Warduke’s right shoulder strap. It’s brown with gold trim and has the red jewel on it as well. The fit is tight, so maybe be careful with that one. The short sword has a gold and blue scabbard which hangs from Warduke’s left hip via a gold chain. It’s a real chain so it flops around when handling the figure and is something to be mindful of. There’s a lot of sculpted details to the design of the gold on the scabbard and it’s just a really nice looking piece. The sword also slips in with relative ease. On the right hip is a brown scabbard for the dagger. It’s wider and comes to a point and features a red diamond strapped to it. It’s pretty damn tight, but I got the dagger to go in. Unfortunately, the once pristine blade came out streaked with brown and scratched a bit. I took a magic eraser to it to get some of that brown off, but that also takes off the paint wash and doesn’t do much for the scratches. I think I’ll try heating the scabbard before placing the dagger back in since I think Warduke is destined to be posed with sword and shield.

He’s even got storage for his big, awesome, shield!

Warduke’s final accessory is his massive shield. It’s a circular shield with a horned skull on the front. The skull lacks a lower jaw so it definitely reminds me of the Danzig logo to a point. The skull is also raised on the shield, well off of it, so it has a ton of depth. It’s a gray, but brushed with black which really makes it look like a metal object. The rear of the shield is also sculpted and features an 8-pointed star that kind of resembles a sun. There’s a “metal” handle towards the front of the shield with a faux leather strap in the rear. I found it easiest to remove Warduke’s hand, affix it to the handle, and then slide it on from there. It’s a little tricky to get the hand flush with the forearm doing it this way, but it’s also going to be hidden behind the shield so one need only seat it far enough that it won’t fall. The shield can work with the left arm, but it’s a little harder getting the rear strap over the gauntlet. The loose, left, gripping hand is pretty easy to get on though, but it’s not as secure a grip as the right hand. The hands are a bit pliable so getting the weapons into them isn’t too great a chore. The alternate right hand is definitely trickier. I had to break the seal on the thumb and index finger to flex it enough to get a weapon into it, but it does get a better grip than the default one. Especially with the very thin handle of the short sword. There’s a lot of paint here though so definitely air on the side of caution when trying to jam weapons into those hands. If it’s not going easy, just heat the hands up with some warm water and you should have no problems. The shield can also slot over the rear scabbard if you wish so he can basically store everything he comes with save for the extra hands and flame effect when not in use.

Time to fire it up.

Normally, people seem to want to save the best for last. This figure pretty much went all out on the sculpt, so it’s probably not a shocker to hear that the articulation isn’t the equal of the sculpt. Just look at this guy and try to figure out how to articulate him. He’s not some lithe ninja character so he doesn’t need a ton, but it’s definitely compromised and has at least one preventable flaw that shouldn’t be. At the head, it feels like we’ve got a double-ball peg. It can rotate and tilt up and down or to the side. The helmet sits right on the necklace though and since it’s all painted you definitely need to be careful. The shoulders are ball-hinged and they were the most tight of any of the joints out of the box. He can almost get his arms out to the side in a full horizontal pose. Rotating them is definitely squeaky, but doable. Both arms have obstacles to contend with. For the right arm, it’s the big scabbard behind it. For the left, it’s the massive shoulder pad. In both cases, I think you’re going to get enough range. There’s a biceps swivel which works fine on both arms. The elbows are single-hinged and they give you about 90 degrees of bend. They also pivot which is more useful for the shield arm than the sword arm, if you’re using the shield.

I’d much prefer a gripping hand with the proper hinge than this “clawed” hand that doesn’t have a ton of use.

At the wrists is where we encounter our first problem. And really, the only major problem I have with this release. All of the hands can rotate and all hinge, but guess what direction that hinge moves in? It’s a horizontal hinge on all hands, so it goes in and out. What we should have, at least for the weapon hands, are vertical hinges that move up and down. That is the appropriate hinge for any character wielding a melee weapon or even a gun. Very few weapons benefit from this setup – maybe a staff? For the shield, it’s not really important, but for sword wielders it’s a perplexing oversight. NECA is very inconsistent in this department which I discussed in my review of the quarter scale Leonardo figure they did recently. We have some figures that get the right hinge, and plenty of others that do not. It’s like they have some people on staff aware of it, and some who just don’t understand. It’s really weird though that a character like Warduke would have such an oversight. The left gripping hand is also a little loose for my liking. The peg looks slightly slimmer than the alternate hand, but it causes the hand to just spin on its own due to the weight of his weapons. I could put the shield on that arm, but I’d much prefer the shield cover the bare arm than the cool metallic one.

“I will destroy you elf!”

In the torso, we have a diaphragm joint. It’s not going to do a whole lot because of all of the straps in place. You get a little side-to-side out of the diaphragm and some twist. There’s basically no forward and back. I can’t tell if the figure has a waist twist or not as it doesn’t seem to want to move. Twisting the figure just causes the diaphragm to move and it’s probably stressing those straps, which appear to be glued down to the belt, and I’d hate for them to break. The wrists are a curious oversight, while the torso is kind of just bad when it comes to articulation. Here though, there isn’t an obvious or easy fix so I take it as an example of NECA prioritizing the look of the figure over the articulation. I wish they had sacrificed a little something to get a better twist into this one, but that’s more of a subjective complaint on my part. I get why they did it this way. At the hips, we have ball and socket joints and they work pretty well. The loincloth is going to get in the way, but Warduke can kick forward almost to a full 90 degrees with his right leg, a little less with the left. The legs rotate at the joint and you get some decent range there and he actually can get pretty far out to the side with his splits. The knees are single-hinged and bend about 90 degrees. They pivot like the elbows and that works fine. There’s also a boot cut you may not notice given the swivel at the knee, but it’s there. The ankles hinge forward and back a decent amount and the ankle rocker is pretty good.

“And your little cat too!”

Warduke is a figure that poses well enough below the waist. You can get a good base for this figure, but the upper body is definitely limited. He can lift his weapons over his head well enough and position his shield, but the limitations in the torso make it tough to really do a swinging pose. He can’t gesture forward with the bladed weapons due to the hands lacking the proper hinge and he’s best posed in what I would call a “ready” position. Action shots are not this guy’s strong suit. Is it enough? Probably, because the sculpt and paint are so good. I do wish NECA had tried a little harder to get more out of the torso, or maybe tried something a bit more exotic like a butterfly joint to make up for it. It probably would have looked bad on the right shoulder, but the left could have hidden it under the shoulder pad. At least then he would have had one arm that could bring a weapon out in front in a slashing motion.

Ultimately, this guy is just a badass figure worthy of your dollar.

Criticisms of the articulation aside, this is a really lovely figure. I could tell before buying it that the articulation was going to be limited and I really didn’t care. The sculpt, paint, and overall design of the character are just too damn cool. He can move enough to look like the badass he is and that’s really all I need out of this guy. And you can’t beat the price. This guy is $35 with maybe some stores out there charging a bit more. He seems to only be available at specialty shops and via NECA’s Amazon store, but we might see him show up at Walmart or Target in the near future. There are enough buying options that it shouldn’t be too hard to get him at MSRP. And in this day and age, $35 is a good price for a collectible quality action figure, especially of this quality. Marvel Legends keep hovering around 30 bucks it seems and Hasbro recently solicited a $35 Spider-Man that’s just the same old Spidey buck and with limited accessories. Place that figure beside Warduke and it gets blown away. There is no way such a figure should cost the same as this one. Does that mean I think NECA should up its prices? No! Please don’t! NECA is presently the best value in toy collecting and their quality control right now is maybe the best ever for the company. There’s a lot that could go wrong with this figure given the intricacies of the design, but it all turned out pretty damn great. If you’re an old school D&D fan that remembers Warduke, you owe it to yourself to get this guy. And if you just like badass and well made action figures then you should probably just go ahead and grab him as well. This guy may have come out in January, but I think it will still be high on many a year-end list come next year.

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NECA The Last Ronin (Armored)

The last of the TMNT has arrived!

When it comes to multimedia based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, we find ourselves in a rare dry spell when it comes to television and movies. The final episode of Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles aired in 2020 with no new television series announced since. The show did receive a long-delayed finale in the form of a movie released on Netflix last year, but that hardly makes up for the otherwise lack of presence for TMNT on TV or on the big screen. The last transitions were much quicker when it came to the 2003 series to the 2012 series to Rise, but the dearth may soon be over as there is a new movie scheduled to arrive this summer. We’ll have to wait and see what that means for the franchise, but one aspect of TMNT has just continued plugging along and it’s the comics from IDW. There’s a main series that’s been running for years now, but much of the attention has been sucked up by the sidestory, The Last Ronin.

The Last Ronin is a flash-forward to a possible end for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when the lone surviving turtle has long graduated from the term “teenage.” I covered every issue here and found it to be mostly entertaining, but what I really loved about it were the character designs. Upon reading that very first issue one of my takeaways was “Man, it would be really cool to get an action figure of this guy.” NECA’s Randy Falk agreed when he basically gushed over the series so it was not a surprise at all when the company unveiled their own take on The Last Ronin.

This guy is certainly a different style of turtle from what we’re accustomed to seeing.

The titular turtle arrives in the standard NECA Ultimates box with a fifth panel and artwork on the front. The art comes straight from IDW’s Ben Bishop and Luis Antonio Delgado. It’s mixed with product shots on the rear and inside panel and it’s the type of packaging that will likely catch the eye of someone who hasn’t been paying attention to TMNT and stumbles across it in Target. And how could it not? This figure depicts The Last Ronin, who I will just call Ronin from here on out since I remain committed to not spoiling anything, as he appears in issue number one. He’s sporting the black bandana, heavy hooded jacket, full pants, shoes, and gloves. Basically, he looks the opposite of how most envision a ninja turtle as he is covered from head to toe. Well, he has sandals on so I guess not head to toe literally, but the point remains. The turtles usually run around all but naked, but this guy does not. He’s also a hell of a lot taller than your standard turtle coming in at about 6.5″ to the top of his head, a little taller with the hood. This is in stark contrast to the old Mirage turtles or the cartoon ones, though a bit closer to the movie figures. In fairness, the Ultimates line from NECA is usually treated as a 7″ scale line whereas the cartoon line is closer to a 1:12 line. It’s not a huge difference, but worth mentioning. Despite that though, this turtle is supposed to be bigger than the rest. I think the reason given is because he continued to mutate the older he got. In the books, I want to say he’s taller than April or at least as tall, which is in contrast to the turtles normally being shorter than her. He’s also bulkier, wider, and less lean. At the same time, the head is smaller than usual and the limbs longer. He’s an altogether different sort of turtle than we’re used to seeing.

This comparison needed to happen.

The sculpt for this one was handled by Paul Harding and he continues to impress whenever he’s handed something TMNT related by NECA. There’s a lot of detail on this guy that might not jump out right from the start, but a closer examination reveals a truly impressive figure. The face looks great. He’s got his teeth gritting, there’s wrinkles in the flesh, and the eyes are focused and angry. This is an older turtle and that point is driven home when you pop the hood off to reveal the ages spots on the top of the head. The hood just clips into the back of the head so it doesn’t pose a problem when posing and there’s an optional bandana “tail” if you prefer, though no down hood accessory like we saw with Renet. There’s great texturing on the jacket and shoulder pads with almost a mesh texture on the sleeves and undershirt. The pads and forearm gauntlets have some nice aging done to them to make it look like this is a turtle who has been in a few scraps. There’s detailing with black line work, as has been customary with all of the comic styled turtles from NECA, and a healthy dose of shading. Because this character is so muted in contrast with more colorful portrayals, the paint doesn’t scream out for attention like it did with the Utrom, but it’s still very clean and very well applied. Because he has a coat, this is the rare TMNT figure without an exposed shell, but you can get a sense that it’s there due to the subtle nature in which the creases are sculpted into the body. The rear also features the hoop and rope that is famously depicted on the cover of the first issue. NECA chose to do it with a combination of a sculpted ring and brown thread. It works into the body and I’m guessing it’s tied off somewhere inside of the figure, but it is a bit fragile looking so beware. And since that ring contains two hoops for weapon storage, you have to be very careful when inserting and removing weapons. Or at least, I’m making the assumption that you should be careful when doing so.

Which turtle is he? Does it matter when he’s got the equipment to be all of them?

This turtle has a bit of an awkward look to him compared with the usual turtle, but he still has all of the articulation we’ve come to expect. And actually, with no visible shell he’s basically freed up to have a bit more than usual. The head sits on a double ball peg, but it sits right on top of the figure with barely any neck. I guess it’s due to the clothing? The look is right, but the lack of a neck means he has minimal range. He can rotate, but up and down is barely there and there’s not much nuance posing to speak of. The shoulders are ball-hinged and they’re a little tight. He can’t quite get to a horizontal pose, but can rotate around with the shoulder pads only impacting that part a little. The elbows are the controversial NECA double elbows with a hinge and swivel at the top and bottom. With a sleeved figure, it works fine and it isn’t the eyesore it is on a figure with bare arms. Still, I don’t know that it was the right call as we’ve seen the traditional double elbow work fine with the movie figures and the larger scaled figures and here we basically just get to a 90 degree bend. The forearm gauntlets really get the in the way of the bottom hinge being able to do much of anything. The swivel at both points works fine. At the wrists, we have the usual swivel and hinge and, I know I must sound like a broken record at this point, but NECA went with the wrong hinge once again for the gripping hands. This guy has a ton of weapons so it really sucks that he has horizontal hinges instead of vertical ones. This is a figure that should have both, but he lacks the ones he really needs most and it’s a shame. At the waist, we get a twist which is unusual for a turtle, but with no visible shell it’s not an issue here. It feels like a ball-peg, but you basically get nothing other than rotation at the spot. At the hips, the usual ball and socket are present and they get to almost a full split. There’s a little thigh rotation and double-jointed knees that bend past 90. At the ankles, we get a swivel plus hinges and an ankle rocker and they work okay. The ankle doesn’t go as far back as I’d like due to the shape of the shoe, but it goes forward pretty far. Usually it’s the opposite.

He can balance on one foot, so he’s got that going for him.

The end result is you get a figure that poses just alright. There’s not a ton of dynamic range here, but he is a bulkier turtle than we’re used to so not a ton was expected. He has these nice, big, feet so he can do some one-foot poses if you wish. The hips allow for some wide stances so he can look fairly menacing if you need him to. With this design, I am left wishing that NECA experimented with a butterfly joint so we could have a figure that can reach across its body, but I’m not aware of any NECA figure having that style of joint so that’s not something I could have expected. There’s just some two-handed poses I wish he could do with his weapons that he just can’t. I also feel like the heads needs to be better. Sit the head a little higher and that probably solves the issue. He’s a turtle, after all, he can have a neck.

Weapon storage for days!

The articulation, shortcomings and all, is probably still as expected. Where this figure is going to shine is with the overall presentation and the extras, and this guy has a lot of extras. Let’s start with the extra parts, shall we? Ronin has one extra head featuring a screaming or yelling expression. It’s every bit as good as the default one and it’s hard to pick a favorite. Popping one off for the other is also easy so changing things up is actually encouraged. There are two bandana tails, one is a swoop and the other goes straight back. They just peg in so they can be rotated. He also has his goggles which are sculpted plastic with an elastic band. To get them on, you will want to take the hood or bandana off first, slip the goggles over that, and then replace either the hood or bandana. This keeps the elastic under whatever is pegged in which will help to keep the goggles on as this guy’s head is basically a sphere so that elastic just wants to slide off right away. It’s definitely tricky to do with the hood, but pretty easy without. You could also just stick the goggles under the head which is how he carries them in the comic. For hands, we have fists, gripping, and open. The right gripping hand appears to be slightly more relaxed than the left with more spacing between the fingers which makes it good for the included sai if you want to put the center blade in between the fingers, which is always a popular look for TMNT even if it’s not exactly practical in a fight.

That lone sai is one of many weapons Ronin comes with. The idea is that this guy is like four turtles in one so he has the weapons of all. That means in addition to the sai he has one set of nunchaku, a katana, and a bo staff. The sai is a great sculpt. It’s a bit wider than usual and quite rigid and pointy. The “metal” has a nice luster and finish to it and it might be my favorite sai that NECA has done. The nunchaku feature two plastic handles connected via a real chain. The handles have a sculpted grip to them that looks nice and is different from the usual taped look we get. The bo staff is a bo staff. It has some tape and it’s well-sculpted and it looks fine. The katana is quite lovely. It’s long like a katana should be with a curved blade. The handle is lovingly sculpted and the paintjob is pristine as it has the same finish as the sai. The blade has some nicks carved into it making it look like a well-worn sword, but also one that has been lovingly cared for. It comes with an included black sheath which slots into one of the loops on the ring on the figure’s rear. There’s another slot there for the bo as well. The sai and nunchaku each have their own place on his belt and there’s a third loop on said belt for his tonfa. The tonfa is one of Ronin’s seemingly preferred weapons and it has a square design and it certainly looks like something you wouldn’t want to get struck with. It’s a little tough getting it into the belt loop, but it can be done and he can store all of his weapons. He also has a grappling hook which is a plastic claw type of instrument with more brown thread affixed to it. It can be wrapped around a stored weapon or bundled up and crammed through an unoccupied belt loop if you want. It’s kind of tough to pose since the rope is a literal string, but it’s cool to have. Lastly, we have a handful of throwables. Ronin has four shurikens which are really pointy. They’re presented in a gunmetal color and he can hold them between a thumb and finger. The last item is a grenade. It’s a tiny spherical object that can basically just be placed in one of the open hands or a gripping hand, though it more rests within them as opposed to being gripped. He has no storage for the shurikens or grenade so try not to lose them.

This dude, simply put, is bad ass.

All of these elements add up to one impressive release from NECA. This figure of The Last Ronin is one of the best figures released in 2022. It perfectly captures the look of the character from the comic which is a comic that I think is going to be highly regarded years from now as one of the best TMNT stories ever told. This figure isn’t perfect, but it is very good and it’s just the start. NECA released alongside it an unarmored variant which they rather cleverly bundled with the missing tonfa (Ronin had two) and broken katana featured in the story which encourages collectors to get both even if they prefer one look to the other. I’m tempted by that other one, but haven’t taken the plunge just yet. More are coming as NECA has decided to make The Last Ronin a full-fledged subline for TMNT. Flashback versions of the turtles and Splinter are coming as are two versions of the Foot Patrolbot. I think I’m all-in so if you’re curious about any of those releases check back as they start to make their way to stores. It sounds like Leonardo is up next, but we’ll have to wait and see. This line has the potential to be the best TMNT subline NECA has going, and given the quality of the cartoon, Mirage, and movie lines that’s saying something.

Check out more of our Last Ronin coverage:

Playmates TMNT The Last Ronin PX Previews Exclusive (Chase)

A few years ago, Mattel launched a new subline of action figures based on their most famous IP: Masters of the Universe. The subline was titled Origins and it basically took the vintage toys of the 80s and updated them with more modern articulation while still preserving that vintage aesthetic. And ever since then, collectors…

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – The Last Ronin

I don’t read a lot of comics these days. Actually, I suppose I never truly read a lot of comics even when I was very much into X-Men and Spider-Man. Back in the 90s, I received most of my comic lore from trading cards. They were cheaper and fun to collect. When it came to…

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – The Last Ronin #5

After lending Tuesday to the gargoyles for one week, the turtles are back on Turtle Tuesday and this time it’s for the latest (and final) issue in the The Last Ronin storyline. The Last Ronin is a concept for the final story of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles dating back to the days of Eastman…

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Marvel Legends X-Men Retro Card Marvel’s Beast

Welcome, Professor McCoy, to The Nostalgia Spot.

2022 was the year a dream toyline of mine was made a reality. Hasbro finally decided to do a line of Marvel Legends based on the animated series X-Men, which premiered 30 years prior on Halloween 1992. The line was staggered with a release coming every 6-8 weeks or so and ended up totaling 8 figures, pretty standard for a single wave. There was hope on my part that the line would continue into 1993, when the show really took off, but that was not Hasbro’s plan. As a result, several characters from the show are still outstanding, and while Hasbro has referred to this break as a pause, that’s hardly a guarantee of anything going forward. If this were a romantic relationship, it would be dead, and maybe it should be since the line was subpar. I am a glutton for punishment apparently so I do want to see it continue so that we can get the missing X-Men and some of their most notable villains, but I can’t count on that. That means I’ve had to take matters into my own hands. I’m probably playing right into Hasbro’s thinking in doing so, but so be it, which is why I now have Marvel’s Beast to talk about.

We need to ponder the potential release, or non-release, of Beast in the X-Men Animated Series subline.

Beast, or The Beast, had an interesting run in the television show. He was part of the team, but basically written out of the first season pretty quickly as he was arrested and held for trial for the bulk of the episodes. He’d be released at the end of that first season and was able to become a recurring character as a result. Beast has always been one of those characters where the viewer is not supposed to judge a book by its cover. He looks like a beastly creature and adopted a name to play off of that, but in reality he’s pretty gentle, thoughtful, empathetic, and highly intelligent. Since he’s a well read individual, the writers of the show had a lot of fun with him as they could make him rather wordy and insert lines from famous writers and poets into his vocabulary as he was quite fond of quoting others. Some viewers found it annoying, but I was always rather charmed by Beast. And mostly, I just liked him because he was blue! Blue is my favorite color so a big, blue, furry, creature is aesthetically pleasing for me. Especially because I just really like the shade of blue used for his fur. It stands out and it’s a fun, somewhat ridiculous, design.

I prefer him naked.

This figure of Beast is a re-release. There’s been a prior blue version as well as a gray version and Hasbro apparently felt now was the time for another re-release. This one differs in that the shade of blue is different, more of a cobalt, and it’s all together brighter than that past one. There’s also less shading and he comes with a new head and some new accessories. It’s my thinking that certain figures from the animated series were not in play last year because of planned releases like this one or figures that were recently released on a retro card like Rogue and Gambit. It’s also my feeling that if we get a Beast in a 2024 or 2025 from the show he’ll basically just be this figure with some cel-shading and maybe a new head. And since I just really like how this blue turned out, I took the plunge with this figure as a stand-in. Maybe a permanent stand-in? Who knows? I’ll probably want that damn box when and if it comes so, yeah, this could easily be a double-dip for me, but at least I’m future proofed.

Beast! No!

The retro card is a throwback to the Toy Biz days and features artwork by David Nakayama. It’s a lovely card and many collectors like to keep one mint and open another, but I am not one of those guys. Beast stands right around 7″ if you stand him up straight, though practically speaking he’s a little shorter since this is a character that is almost always in some kind of a hunch or crouch. He comes out of the box sporting a white lab coat which is one of the new additions. It’s not an original idea to pair Beast with a lab coat as Toy Biz did the same early in the Marvel Legends line, but some people who already have the older Beast might want it. It’s decent, but the quality of the soft goods isn’t going to impress. Mine has several stray threads and if I intended to display Beast with this coat on I’d probably do some trimming. It does have a chest pocket on the left side which is neat.

The coat is not the best quality, but I also don’t know how much of a draw it truly is for collectors.

Getting the coat off is rather easy and once done we have our furry blue boy in all of his glory. This Beast is clearly inspired by the artwork of Jim Lee, as nearly all of the retro card releases seem to be. He has a stoic expression which features his completely white eyes and his teeth poking over his upper lip. This is where the distinction between show and comic comes into play as Beast in the show always had pupils, but in the comics he was often depicted this way. I prefer my Beast with pupils, but I can’t hold that against a figure that is trying to emulate a comic look. His hair is a darker blue and the body has lots of sculpted fur on it. There are hits of dark blue shading in the middle of the chest and shoulders which makes up the bulk of the paint on this guy. Otherwise, there’s just the belt and upper legs. The trunks are sculpted in navy and the belt in yellow with the X logo painted on. The upper thigh piece appears to be sculpted in navy and the parts of his exposed fur are painted and Hasbro did a good job of matching the blue paint to the blue plastic. The area around his ab crunch though is less successful as far as color-matching goes as it appears that was sculpted in navy as well. The rest of the paint is basically reserved for the white claws on the hands and feet and it’s done okay. It’s not the cleanest application of paint I’ve ever seen, but at least it’s not egregiously bad or anything. The proportioning on the sculpt is very well done for a Marvel Legends release. His chest and shoulders have plenty of mass and so do the legs and biceps. He should fit in pretty well with your other X-Men releases from this era of the comics, or show, in my case.

Fascinating!

I already mentioned the coat, but Beast does come with some other things as well. For hands, he has a somewhat tight gripping right hand and a loose gripping left hand. He also has a right fist and a left fully open hand. I would have preferred just two sets of gripping hands that match each other, so two tight and two loose, as the loose gripping hand is a nice style pose hand. The fist I find useless while the open hand is fine. It would be a bit more useful with better articulation, but we’ll get to that. The claw paint on all of the hands is pretty consistent in that it’s passable. Beast also gets a second head and this one is from the older release. It’s a screaming head and it’s pretty well painted and the inside of the mouth is sculpted. The hair on it is slightly more narrow, enough so that it throws off the aesthetic for me. I like the wider hair look of Beast, but this older head probably wasn’t going for that. It’s fine, but I’ll never use it as I just don’t think of Beast as a screamy sort of character, but artists have had fun drawing him like one for years. Beast also comes with a pair of beakers, one containing the X-Gene and another a green liquid. They’re fine and they look nice since they’re cast in transparent plastic with a colored fill to create the illusion of a liquid inside. They’re also two different designs with one featuring a more spherical base and they certainly work with the lab coat if that’s the look you want. Lastly, Beast has a pair of glasses. They’re cast in transparent plastic with the ear pieces painted black. They’re pretty terrible though because there’s nothing to hold them onto his face. They’re rubbery and soft so they don’t pinch at all and there are no holes or any way to key them in. I’m glad they didn’t do that, but these could have been manufactured in a stronger material so that they gripped his head better. Or they could have been designed to fit between his brow and his nose. Whatever, it is what it is, and at least they fit in his pocket. I received a Baxter Stockman figure last year from NECA that came missing a pair of glasses, and since NECA still has not sent me the replacement they promised, I’ll give these to Baxter for now.

Lastly, we need to rundown the articulation on this blue boy. Beast has quite a bit, and most of it I like, but he’s not without his problems. For starters, he has the usual ball hinge at the neck only with this figure the ball basically sits right on top of the hinge. His head is low so it affects the range. He can rotate and tilt a bit and he does have up and down, but since he’s a character who crouches a lot I would like even more range looking up. His shoulders are ball-hinged with butterfly joints. He can raise his arms to the side no problem and the butterfly joint goes way back, but hardly anything forward. He has a biceps swivel and double-jointed elbows that will bend past 90 degrees even with his rather generously sized biceps. The wrists swivel and hinge with all of the hinges being of the horizontal variety which is appropriate, in this case. In the torso, we have a diaphragm joint that runs along the bottom of the rib cage. It mostly affords rotation as any movement to the front, back, or tilt is minimal at best. Below that is an ab crunch that is mostly hidden behind the floating belt. It basically only has 3 positions so you get one click back and one click forward. It’s okay. At the hips we have some ball and socket joints and he can nearly hit a full split. He kicks forward about 90 degrees with no movement to the rear. There’s a thigh cut below that and double-jointed knees which work just fine. The ankles have a ratcheted hinge, from the feel of it. It will go back all of the way with two clicks of movement, but it goes forward only one click. He has a very nice ankle rocker and he also has a fairly well-engineered toe hinge as well. I wish the toe hinge was a little more firm, but it seems to be usable.

For Beast, it’s a solid mix of articulation points and approaches and, for the most part, I think it works. Where it’s lacking just a bit is with the ab crunch and the butterfly joints not coming forward more. Beast is known for that one-handed pose on the ground in a crouch not unlike Spider-Man. He has the big, open, hand for such, but he really can’t hit it convincingly. If you get him in a crouch with the hand down he looks silly because he doesn’t have the range in the head to be looking forward. More range back in the diaphragm would have helped. It does make me think his proportions might be just a little off in that his arms should be longer. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s a character where artists cheat at times and when he’s just standing around his arms look fairly normal in length, but when posed in a more “beastly” manner they mysteriously get longer. It’s just a bummer he really can’t do his classic Jim Lee pose from the cover of X-Men #1. He can stand on one hand though, if you’re patient. I wouldn’t recommend leaving him like that on a shelf without a stand, but I was able to pull it off.

It’s kind of a Beast pose.

This Beast is probably as good as a Marvel Legends version of the character is likely ever to get. Yeah, he can’t hit all of the “Beast poses,” with ease, but he still poses well. Mostly though, the sculpt looks great for the character so it’s no wonder why Hasbro has re-released it multiple times at this point. The extras like the lab coat do little for me, but this new, stoic, head is definitely more of what I envision for the character. Yeah, I want a smiling portrait with pupils in the eyes (like the box art, I might add), but I can’t really hold that against the figure since this is a comic interpretation and he has white eyes in the comics. Mostly, I just like this blue and I love how it pops on the shelf. I think the shading on the figure is enough, though maybe some hits on the calves and forearms would have livened things up, but it’s fine. The prior version looks over-shaded to me so I prefer this dialed-back approach. The only other thing to mention is the cost. This figure, for whatever reason, is considered a deluxe release so it’s going to cost you around $35 or more in some places to add him to your collection. Considering it’s nearly 100% reuse, there’s not much in the package to justify the price aside from Hasbro just doing whatever it wants. Compared to other releases at this price point it’s not a good value, but if you need a Beast (or have doubts about Hasbro doing more animated X-Men) you’re probably going to pay it. At least the figure looks nice enough.

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Marvel Legends X-Men Retro Card Series Apocalypse

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NECA Mirage Studios TMNT Casey Jones

Casey has arrived to bust some skulls.

Where there be turtles, there be Casey Jones – the bad ass vigilante of New York City! Casey was an early addition to the comics and he’s basically been included with every iteration of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles since. And in all of them he tends to wear a hockey mask and bludgeons bad guys with sports equipment. It’s a pretty simple design, but it has stood the test of time. When NECA Toys started dipping its toe into TMNT back in 2008 it was probably assumed that Casey was on the short list of figures the company was likely to put out. Unfortunately, the line only extended one figure past the turtles (April) and fans never got their favorite vigilante in plastic. Things have changed since then and Casey Jones is no stranger to NECA or plastic. He’s been released as part of the toon line and received three separate releases in the movie line. And now, at long last, he finds himself released as part of NECA’s line of action figures based on the artwork of Mirage Studios.

How many Caseys is too many? And I even skipped one of the movie releases.

Casey Jones comes in the now standard single pack release. It’s a trapezoidal window box emblazoned with original artwork by TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman. There’s product shots on the rear and a little cross-sell on the bottom. I’ll say upfront that this release from NECA is slightly controversial among some of the more hardcore members of the TMNT collector community. Like Renet before him, Casey comes in his reinterpreted IDW colors. That means a gray shirt instead of a red one and brown shoes in place of his black ones. I don’t know why NECA is doing things this way, but it looks like a red variant is coming too. Will it be stuck behind that Auto T bullshit the Mirage-accurate blue Renet was? Probably, but that hasn’t been confirmed. One would think the standard colors would be the standard release with the modern variant the slightly more expensive specialty option, but then that would make too much sense, now wouldn’t it? For all I know, this is the preferred look of the character by someone like Kevin Eastman. Personally, I don’t care that much because I’m used to seeing these books in black and white. Mirage Casey Jones is black and white in my head even though he had a red shirt on the cover of the Raphael one-shot. And unlike Renet, where I most definitely preferred the blue outfit to the red one, with Casey I’m less definitive. Red, gray, – it’s just a shirt. He at least stands out on my shelf a bit more considering the Foot all wear red and there’s Renet as well, but I certainly wouldn’t complain if he had a red shirt either. I guess if it’s that important to you then wait and find out how the red version is getting released. Or paint the damn thing yourself.

Casey seems to share some parts with the Foot.
He’s not exactly equipped to handle the Utrom, but then again, neither are the turtles.

With that out of the way, lets look at the figure for what it is. Casey Jones stands approximately 6.5″ tall which feels right for the line. He’s comprised largely of parts reused from Shredder and the Foot as he has the same upper arms, thighs, and probably torso as those releases. What’s new is the shirt overlay for the torso, the hands, calves, shoes, forearms, and namely the head. His default portrait is masked and I like that the mask is a separate piece that’s glued down to the face. It gives it some nice depth, even though the eye slits are painted and we don’t need to see his eyes underneath it. It’s very similar to the cartoon figure’s mask, but it is different and looks just as cool as it always does. There’s paint basically everywhere on this guy with a lot of black linework throughout which really helps it to pop on a shelf. He’s depicted in sweat pants and they have some sculpted wrinkles in them and the lower leg is a bit baggy which looks nice. This is a very lean Casey, which does match-up with how he was drawn in the comics. He’s not as bulky as the toon version, but he’s menacing enough in appearance. Despite that, I do wish he had a little extra bulk in the midsection as there’s a lot of plastic for the hips, especially on the rear of the figure, which is a little unsightly. Overall, he looks good, it’s just a character design that’s not made to impress so he’s a bit less exciting than someone like Renet or the Utrom.

You gotta have the hockey stick!

In terms of accessories, NECA outfitted Casey with a decent allotment. He’s basically known for having a bunch of weapons at his disposal, so NECA gave him his customary hockey stick, a pair of baseball bats, and a golf club. The stick and bats all feature sculpted tape around portions of them and are well-painted. The two bats are identical, which is a bit of a bummer, but I get why NECA wouldn’t want to sculpt two different ones for this release. At the same time, we’ve seen bats in other lines so it feels like they could have pulled from there. The club is a white wood style club and it looks fine, though it’s comically small. I’m not a big golfer or anything, but I have played the game and own a set of a clubs so I know how big they’re supposed to be. This club barely comes up past Casey’s knee so he must have found a youth model or something. It’s also very thin so he doesn’t grip it that well with two of his gripping hands. All of the weapons can be stored in his equipment bag. It has a square design to it so I’m not entirely sure what it’s supposed to be. It doesn’t look like a normal sports equipment bag or a golf bag, but it works. It’s easy to get onto the figure and looks fine. It’s brown and features the same black line work as the figure so it has a nice appearance.

I’m sure it wouldn’t feel too nice to get smashed over the head with this driver, but it sure is comically small.

Casey also has a few extra parts he can make use of. For one, he has a set of fists and a set of gripping hands. He wears fingerless gloves and those details are painted on. The gloves begin just past the hinge so that doesn’t get in the way and I can’t tell just which part of the hand is painted. Is it the gray glove portion or the fingers? Either way, the colors look fine and I’m not seeing any paint rub on the weapons so that’s a good thing. I do wish he had a different set of hands than the fists though. His gripping hands basically look like fists when he’s not holding anything so they feel redundant. Maybe some open hands, a finger pointing hand, or just different degrees of gripping hands would have been a better use of the budget. And this figure does commit the sin of not having the proper hinge on the gripping hands. Casey should have a vertical hinge, but instead he gets the mostly useless horizontal design. He has one extra, right, gripping hand as well and I think it’s meant for the golf club as it’s the only hand that gets a decent hold on that item. He does get an extra head and this one is unmasked. He’s a pretty ugly dude though so you might prefer to leave the mask on. He looks as he should, so that’s not a criticism of the figure, just the reality of the character design. Lastly, just like the movie version, he comes with a mask that can either be held or hung from the handle of one of his weapons stored in his bag. It looks quite nice and it’s a different mold from the mask on the default head as the eye slits are open. The straps are a soft plastic and, if you really want to, it can fit over the unmasked head, but you’re far better off just displaying him with the masked head than going this route unless you really like the look of the eyes from behind the mask.

That takes us to articulation and if you have Shredder or the Foot from this line then you know what you’re in for. The head is on a double-ball peg and he can look down okay and rotate, but looking up is blocked some by the hair. He can look up, it’s just only a little. He does have some nuance posing there, so overall I like it. The shoulders are your typical ball hinges. He has a hard time getting his arms up to a horizontal position, but the shirt is cut back enough that rotation isn’t a problem. I do wish NECA would improve these shoulders though as it’s a consistent issue. There’s a biceps swivel and double-jointed elbows that bend past 90 degrees with ease. He is fully painted so you may need to heat some of the joints, but for me, my figure was fine out of the box. We already mentioned the wrists and in the torso he has some kind of diaphragm joint that isn’t usable because of the shirt overlay. It feels like a ball joint and you get the tiniest amount of range there, so little that it’s not worth counting. The waist twist is fine, but not the prettiest due to how slender his abdomen is in relation to the pants. A ball joint probably would have looked nice and might have also functioned better. At the hips we have the standard ball and socket. Even with the “diaper” piece, Casey can damn near hit a full split so that’s good. They’re also not loose which is even better. There is a thigh twist there that works quite well and the knees are double-jointed and go past 90. There is a boot swivel at the top of the shoe and at the ankle we have a hinge and rocker. The range on the hinge is pretty poor as it only goes back a little and barely any forward. The ankle rocker also isn’t the best as it’s pretty steep and limited, plus it also feels a bit gummy so I’m worried that I’m stressing the peg more than spinning it on the joint.

“Enough standing around, let’s kick some ass!”

The articulation is rather basic. It’s par for the course for this mold and this line in general as NECA definitely does not prioritize making super-articulated figures. They want it to look like the comic first and foremost and then add a suitable amount of articulation where it makes the most sense. As a result, we have a figure that doesn’t really feature any eyesores brought on by the articulation, but it also isn’t very dynamic. The wrist hinges and the ankles are my biggest areas for critique, and to a lesser extent, the waist and shoulders. The limited ankle articulation makes him harder to stand than expected, and it’s not helped by the added weight on the figure’s back brought on by the bag. He’s not as tipsy as the movie Casey, but I do feel like NECA could have done better at the ankles. The wrists are what they are and it’s something NECA has lately been overlooking, unfortunately. I would like them to make it a point of emphasis going forward. I also do think they could have done the shirt overlay a little differently to give us some added range in the diaphragm. It shouldn’t be that hard to at least give us some twist there and I don’t think much sacrifice in the sculpt would have been needed, if any. I think it’s something just brought on by the desire to reuse parts for the torso from figures that had a full shirt and were never going to move there anyway so there was no reason to engineer it differently. Considering they’re planning on two releases, at least, for this figure, maybe a little extra tooling could have been done?

“When you’re the best of friends…”

At the end of the day, if you want a Casey Jones for your Mirage Studios TMNT display you’re going to get this figure. Or you’re going to get the red one. Or you’re going to get both! And I think, for the most part, those who do pick this figure up will be content with the end product. He looks pretty nice, there’s a decent amount of articulation, and he has the weapons most expected. I have some nitpicks with the figure and those nitpicks combined with the character having a less than impressive design result in me viewing this one as the weakest in the Mirage line, but that doesn’t him bad or anything. He’s pretty average for a NECA release, and at least for NECA, that’s still a good product. The paint is clean, I had no stuck joints, and perhaps most importantly, the price isn’t too bad. You should be able to find this figure at specialty shops and even Walmart where he’ll range from $35-$38 and that’s not bad in today’s climate. If the red version does end up being an Auto T release, expect to have to shell out $40 for that one. For some, the character has to have a red shirt and I get that, but for me, I’ll pocket the five bucks and go gray.

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NECA TMNT Mirage Studios Renet

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NECA TMNT Movie Ultimate Casey Jones

I swear this blog is not just a NECA Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles blog, even though that’s what it has looked like lately. I’ve just been getting crushed with new releases lately, but it looks like a drought of some length will be incoming soon. Before that can happen though we need to talk about…

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The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV

It took me five years to get from Trails of Cold Steel II to the end of Trails of Cold Steel III, but for IV a mere five months feels rather tidy. Yes, this review is going up later than I wanted since I finished the game back in November, but blame it on Christmas and a massive influx of toys at year-end. People seem to mostly come to my blog for toy reviews and Danzig, so the straight video game reviews get pushed aside sometimes. Don’t let that fool you into thinking I’m not passionate about my other pastimes, and in particular I am quite passionate about the JRPG genre of gaming and the Trails of Cold Steel franchise might be the best of the modern era.

Which might be unfortunate since this is it. I finally reached the end after 400+ hours of gaming! I’ve seen the end and what it means for Rean Schwarzer, the hero of the series, and his many, many, companions. And I do mean many as this game is quite literally the culmination of three games worth of content. Trails of Cold Steel III saw Rean at the head of a new Class VII which meant new characters in the form of Juna, Kurt, Altina, Ash, and Musse. Trails of Cold Steel IV basically unites the Class VII of that game with the Class VII of the first two games giving you a pretty sizable pool of characters to utilize. And unlike the last game, almost all of the characters are available to you at any point. There’s often a character or two necessary to be included during each mission or chapter of the game, but that still means 3 or 4 other slots are open to the player. And it’s not just two Class VII’s that are available, but numerous other characters as well! In short, if you like party variety, then this game will more than satisfy in that area.

Rean is in a bad place, figuratively and literally, when this one begins.

The last game ended with a pretty substantial cliffhanger. Rean witnessed the death of Millium which drove him into a rage unleashing his latent ogre power which he sometimes taps into, but never gives in to, if that makes sense. This affected the divine knight Valimar that he pilots, a sort of mecha type unit, and made him easy prey for Giliath Osborne, the Iron Blood Chancellor who orchestrated the assassination of the emperor and seized control of the nation of Erebonia. The game literally ended with Osborne grasping Valimar by the throat via his own divine knight and taunting him. When this game begins, there’s only a brief time-skip in place. There’s no time jump of a cold open this time, though you do play as the Crossbell group for the introduction in place of the cold open, and when you get control of Class VII it’s one without Rean. He’s been captured and the first chunk of the game is devoted to rescuing him. This is really the first time the player has not had control of Rean and it’s actually quite nice. You’ll mostly control the new members of Class VII: Juna, Altina, and Kurt. Instructor Randy accompanies them and he’s basically the Rean replacement as he’s a bit overpowered compared with the kids. Members of old Class VII are available at times, but the game doesn’t open up until Rean is returned to where he belongs.

Not only does this game unite the former members of Class VII with the new ones, but it’s also going to bring in the cast from the sister series Trails in the Sky so folks who have really sunk a massive amount of hours into this series are getting a major payoff.

And I don’t consider it a spoiler to say you will eventually rescue Rean. From there, it becomes a story about preventing the end of the world so the stakes are rather high. Basically, your opponents want to bring it all down and start from scratch and only Class VII can stop them. There is an opposition party ready to face fire with fire, but the resulting war will result in many, many, casualties no matter what so it’s something all would like to avoid. Rean is also marked as the “sacrifice” to this somewhat divine plan so there’s a shadow hanging over him the whole game through. He has to deal with that and the uncertainty that comes with it. It does get very “anime” at times, but I never felt confused along the way. Maybe frustrated, but that has more to do with how the characters are portrayed than anything.

The ruling class has orchestrated a war through treachery and it’s going to fall on you to put an end to it.

The gameplay is still largely the same. Trails of Cold Steel IV is a turn-based RPG in which turn order is determined by numerous factors. You can see the order of attack at all times, but it’s fluid and can be manipulated by both the player and the AI. An attacking party consists of four characters, but reserve characters can be swapped in on the fly during a player turn without penalty. Characters still have the use of basic attacks, magic attacks, and what the game calls crafts which consume CP instead of mana. A max of 200 CP can be accumulated and players earn it by dealing and receiving damage. At 100 CP, most characters have access to their super attack which can be triggered at any moment, but comes with a delay penalty. It will consume all CP the character has and its strength is impacted by just how much is utilized so it pays to wait until a character has accrued the full 200. These attacks can often turn the tide of battle or serve as a useful way to end one. Sometimes, they’re a desperation move that seems to work as much as it fails so it’s a viable thing to turn to when the going gets rough, but not something that can be relied upon like a crutch.

Returning this time is also the Link System. When in battle, characters link-up with another and their corresponding link level affects how they’ll respond. When a character lands a critical hit, a follow-up action can be made by the linked character. This accumulates Battle Points which can be spent on better follow-up attacks or used to issue Brave Orders. Brave Orders are unique to each character and most apply a buff of some kind to the party. Some can do things like revive fallen members or augment casting time. The amount of points each one consumes fluctuates from character to character and the party can now hold a maximum of 7 Brave Points instead of 5. Having a high link level also unlocks passive abilities like cover or an auto-restore function that will trigger at random. Link Points are earned by simply participating in a combat party together so there is some benefit to mixing things up at times, but also sticking with a more consistent approach will level up those specific links faster.

The all powerful S-Craft returns and is still a massive difference maker in battle.

What’s new this time around are the trial chests. These are actually returned from the second game, only now they unlock or upgrade Brave Orders. These chests are hidden throughout the game and each one requires a specific battle party to participate. If you come upon one and don’t have the proper characters in your party at the time, it’s no issue as the location is saved and you can teleport to most of them at any time from your base. These chests can sometimes force you into pairing off characters you may normally would not and they’re a fun little diversion. They’re not as rewarding as the trial chests from the second game, but I was still happy to have them back. Equipment, character progression, and the ARCUS system all return from the past games. Basically, this is a very familiar setup and if you didn’t like any of the previous games then you won’t like this one. On the other hand, if those systems entertained you there then you’ll be plenty entertained here.

Also returning are the mech battles. The divine knights play a big role in the plot of the game so naturally there are more divine knight battles this time around. This is welcomed as I always appreciated the change of pace brought on by these encounters and felt they were underutilized in the previous games. Unlike standard combat, only some characters have access to the game’s mechs, but the ones that don’t can function in a support role. These battles tend to be the most challenging encounters in the game as there’s a cat and mouse element at play. Each enemy has three spots it can be attacked, but only one is considered a weak point. Finding it is basically random, though there is some logic at play when just looking at the enemy. If they’re pretty wide open, you can probably go for the head, for example. They’ll change stances on you though so the weak spot is constantly changing. Plus, many enemies can dish out a lot of damage and it becomes a game of resource management. They may be open for an attack, but your character may need to defend or heal and it pays to be more cautious in these encounters than brash.

The amount of playable characters in this one is insane.

The systems are still the strength of the game and so is the story, but like the third game, it has almost no respect for your time. Because the cast is so bloated at this point, many scenes just drag on because everyone present has to offer their opinion on what’s going on. It’s often not profound or even interesting to hear from many of the characters and I found myself wanting this game to move faster more often than not. The characters are also unfailingly kind for those basically participating in a war of epic consequences. There are moments when an enemy could be dispatched, but they just let them get away. The game also loves to deus ex machina everything, often with some character arriving out of nowhere to save the day. It becomes so routine that it ceases to be surprising. Instead, it’s an exercise of “Who haven’t I run into from the past games yet that could show up now?” The game also is terrified of actually killing anyone off, so don’t expect to ever actually say goodbye, and for a story with such high stakes there really are few casualties. Many allies from the past games are now enemies due to their allegiance to the chancellor. They go along with it out of a sense of duty and the game seems to place far too much importance on that and has more respect for it than it should. Those characters are bringing about the end of the world and we’re supposed to feel bad for them because they’re conflicted in some way? Not to be too dramatic, but that’s like sympathising with a Nazi officer who feels bad about exterminating Jews. You have a choice, you have agency, but Rean and company just forgive and forget and that bothered me.

Like most modern RPGs, this game does feature a romance option. Rean, once again, can build social links with basically every other playable character and some non-playable character. As his bond with these characters intensifies, they (and Rean) gain permanent stat boosts so they’re all worthwhile. The women though come with the added benefit of being a romance option for Rean. And unlike the third game which only opened things up to 3 of the women, this game lets Rean pursue almost every female he comes across. Of the characters that can participate in the regular battle party (there are also many guest characters you’ll get to control. Again, this cast is huge!), only three of the women are locked off and one of them is a lesbian. This means you’re free to pursue whoever you had Rean pursue in the first two games, but it also means you can go after any of the women from the third game. This includes Rean’s students, which is pretty damn yucky. A teacher should not engage in a romantic relationship with a student, especially minors, but this game will let you do that if you want to. It tries to be respectful of the situation with Rean saying something like “When you’re of age, then we can be intimate,” type of thing, but that almost makes it worse. Rean can also go after his former teacher, Sara, which is also a little messy, but at least they’re both adults and removed from the teacher-student relationship by a couple of years, I think. And finally, Rean can also romance his sister. Now, before you really get worked up, his sister Elise is not a blood relative. Rean was adopted, but they were still raised as brother and sister and Rean literally can’t remember life before his adoption so emotionally they seem as linked as any biological brother and sister. Worse, the game also feels like it’s steering the player towards that outcome and I just couldn’t get onboard. Does that make me a prude? I don’t know, but I didn’t like it. There are also still characters that hit on underage girls all of the time and the only gay representation is from horny lesbians. Yoe mean with this massive roster of playable characters there isn’t one homosexual man? I just feel for the gay players out there looking for at least some representation, and some positive ones at that.

The romance options do add an extra layer of investment for the player and they can be rewarding, but some feel a bit icky.

If after spending well over 100 hours with this one you still want more, there is a New Game+ option. It’s mostly to allow for the player to experience all of the various bonding events available in the game. It’s impossible to achieve the max level of bonding with every character on a single playthrough (though if you like options for the romance stuff, you can max out all of the romanceable women in one playthrough) so you won’t see the “ending” for each character. The actual game’s ending is not locked behind New Game+ which is definitely appreciated. There are two endings, a good one and a bad one, but it’s not terribly hard to get the good one. There’s basically just one optional boss that has to be defeated, and if you don’t trigger that encounter in your normal playthrough, you’ll basically be allowed to teleport to it at the conclusion of the bad ending to rectify that. It’s a little extra time spent if you go that route, but it’s not terribly cumbersome. Personally, I am all set with watching the bonding events I missed on YouTube as it’s not worth it to me to go back through the game just for that. It would just take too much time.

Visually, the game is basically the same as the previous one. They use the same engine, but several characters have received new wardrobes at least. Environments are still a bit unimpressive, but I am happy to say that this game is far more stable than part 3 was. I don’t think it crashed on me once which is a far cry from what I experienced before. There’s still slowdown and framerate hiccups here and there, but I’ll take that over complete crashes. The music remains consistent and I liked this one a bit more than the previous game. There’s a bit more variety, though some tunes do get repetitive. The voice acting is pretty good as well, though some characters sound worse than others. And I don’t mean the performance, I just mean the audio quality. One character in particular sounded like her voice was recorded in a closet. The North American version of the game was released during the COVID pandemic so I am guessing that is to blame. Still, voice actors have been recording lines over the phone for years without it sounding funny so I’m not sure what happened here. It does stand out though and I’m purposely not naming the character I’m thinking of just to see if anyone chimes in with a guess because it was that noticeable.

Pom-Pom Party is the best mini game the series has introduced.

I’ve said a lot already about this game and I haven’t even touched on the side games. You still get to go fishing and play cards, but there’s also some gambling and a puzzle game to spend time with. In short, there’s a lot and you will easily sink more than 100 hours into this one. I think I even surpassed 120 this time. I was hoping for a shorter game compared with the third one, but I got a longer one. I guess that should have been expected as this is the big finale and it does deliver an actual ending. I mean, there’s still a tease for something more because The Legend of Heroes will seemingly never die, but I could stop here and be content. This cast of characters is set to return in one more game, Trails into Reverie (which has been out for a little while in Japan already), before it looks like we’ll be heading in a completely new direction. I suppose I’ll have to check that game out, but for now I am happy to be done with Trails of Cold Steel. And not because I didn’t enjoy it or anything, but because everything should have an ending and after over 400 hours it was time for one. Obviously, this game is for those who played the prior games. Enough was done with Trails of Cold Steel III that making that a jumping-on point is possible, but those who played all four will get the most of out of this (and some would argue you should play Trails in the Sky too, but I did not). Trying to just jump into this one is not really advisable so this game does possess a significant barrier for entry. I don’t regret one hour I spent with this series though. It’s quite entertaining and the mechanics are great. I do think the pacing could have been better and the characters could have been differentiated from one another a bit better as well, but for the most part I was really happy with the systems in place. And I would be more than happy to see them return. Maybe with a new wrinkle, or better yet, a game that really relied on the mech battles, but it’s not a mechanic that has completely run out of juice. It’s become increasingly hard to find good, quality, console JRPG games that don’t play like an MMO so I am happy to play whatever comes from Falcom next in this long-running series.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel

There was a time when the term RPG meant really only one thing, at least for kids and teens in the 90’s:  Final Fantasy. Now the term is probably more synonymous with Bethesda and Bioware games, the “western” style of RPGs, with the eastern take being some-what of an endangered species. The “JRPG” as we…

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The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II

Here at The Nostalgia Spot, we don’t just celebrate that which is old, but also that which celebrates the old. Few modern devices apply as well as a JRPG video game. The JRPG once dominated the video game landscape in the later stages of the 16-bit era and through the 32-bit era. Following that, the…

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The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III

I knew it had been a long time since I reviewed The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II, but I was surprised when I went back and looked and saw that I posted that entry almost 5 years ago. The Trails of Cold Steel series was planned to be 4 games and I…

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NECA TMNT Mirage Studios Utrom

Raise your hand if you knew who this was. Be honest!

We’ve become so accustomed to having the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in our lives that the name of the franchise has almost lost all meaning. Well, maybe not all, but I feel we mostly have lost sight of how ridiculous a concept this franchise is. And it extends to other characters in the franchise and I’m talking about Krang. Krang from the cartoon series is an oversized, talking, somewhat monstrous brain. In the context of the show, he’s perhaps not as outlandish a design as he would be in another show, but he’s still pretty out there. And then you add in his body. A large, bald, man in a red diaper and suspenders. Krang can’t go in his head like a normal brain would because then he’d no longer be visible so he has to go in the body’s stomach. I think it’s Vernon who draws attention to this factor in the fifth episode of the series when he sounds positively repulsed at the sight of a man with his brain in his stomach, and he’s right to be grossed out! Krang is one of the craziest designs from a popular franchise that I can think of.

These two make quite a couple.

And if you have a deep familiarity with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles then you know Krang is taken from the original comics, only there his race of beings were called the Utrom. There weren’t many (any?) that were actually named, they were just alien brains that got around in robotic bodies. Like Krang, they controlled those bodies from the stomach area, but unlike Krang their bodies were far more mechanical looking. Think the endoskeletons from Terminator, as that’s more in-line for how they appeared. They were foes to the turtles, but also tied in with their origin, and I’d elaborate more, but ever since the 2012 show came along the Utrom and the Kraang from that series kind of run together in my head. Needless to say, they play a significant enough role in the original comics that an action figure from NECA made sense.

The Utrom from NECA stands at right around 6.625″ in height. It comes in the standard window box packaging with new artwork from Kevin Eastman on the box depicting the character. On the rear are product shots and a cross-sell for more figures in the line. Let’s just get right to the big talking point with this guy: the paint job. This figure is gorgeously painted. If you thought the Fugitoid figure looked terrific, wait until you see this. It is fantastic! I am in love with how this figure turned out. It’s sculpted in a light blue plastic, like a periwinkle, with white accents painted onto parts of it to go along with the usual black linework this line is known for. There’s also a hit from an airbrush that contains some gray paint and the effect is just wonderful. This looks like it jumped off of the the page, colored version, and I just love how stylized this looks. This is what I want from action figures based on comics. You can’t sculpt it in chrome, and just making shiny plastic isn’t going to achieve the same end result. The eyes are also painted yellow with a hit of yellow from the airbrush to create the illusion that they’re glowing. The Utrom in the figure’s stomach is also well-painted. The eyes and teeth are clean and there’s a wash applied to really bring out the nasty with this little guy. And with this amount of paint on the figure, there’s virtually no slop. No stuck joints. It’s about as perfect a paint job as one could get in this price range. If I have any nits to pick with it, it’s that a couple hits of the white look a little thin. Maybe the neck area and some of the details on the arms could have used another hit of the airbrush, but that’s all minor and just me trying to poke holes in this thing because, otherwise, it’s awesome.

The sculpt and paint on this guy are just incredible.

The wonderful thing about this figure too is it has a sculpt to match. There are tons of little details in the arms, especially, that look like wires and little machinations. I love the contrast of the smooth plates on the figure’s thighs and the ribbed portions underneath. The rear of the figure is really loaded with sculpted details which is commendable since that’s a spot NECA could have cheaped out on, but obviously did not. It all speaks really well to NECA as a company because they’re clearly committed to delivering the best, most accurate, representation of the character possible. Who knows if much or any of this figure can even be reused for other figures. I’m sure we’ll get a variant at some point, but we have numerous examples of other companies just half-assing their sculpts to present a compromised vision of a character in the interest of saving money on tooling and NECA is just putting them to shame. And something I should praise NECA for more often than I do is that they credit the folks who design their figures so a major shout out and hearty congratulations to sculptors Brodie Perkins and Josh Sutton with paint credited to Geoff Trapp and Mike Puzzo. We should also probably give a shout out to director Trevor Zammit as I assume he’s the one pushing to make these look like the source material and he just does a fantastic job with all of the TMNT lines he oversees at NECA.

And if you thought they would cheap out on the figure’s rear you’d have been wrong.

We’ve gushed over the look of this one, now let’s talk about the stuff it comes with. The Utrom has three sets of hands: fists, gripping, and trigger finger. All of the hands feature the horizontal hinge, our first disappointment of the release, but I do like that the fingers are soft plastic and getting the accessories into the trigger hands is relatively easy and free of paint rub. He also has a gun and it has a really fun design as it has these panels over it. It has some linework on it and the muzzle is painted rather simply, but well. There’s two red tools for the figure to wield. One resembles a wrench and the other is a bit more nondescript. I’m guessing it’s pulled right from the comic, but I don’t know exactly what it is. He also has a little canister with a straw in it. I think this is a drink for that actual Utrom in the belly, the only problem is he doesn’t hold it very well. The fingers on the trigger hands are flexible enough that you can wedge it in there with some effort, but a more relaxed hand would have worked better. Lastly, we have a second portrait for the robot that features battle damage. It’s right eye is hanging out and there’s a big gouge taken out of the top of the head that looks really cool. It’s nice enough that the temptation is there to get another figure, I just wish he had more battle damaged parts to swap to or even a second Utrom with a different expression to create a bit more variety. The Utrom that came in the comic con 4-pack years ago is much too big to fit in this guy.

Bang!

The accessories are solid leaving just the articulation for us to talk about. Like most of the figures in this line, the articulation isn’t going to be the strongest aspect of the release, but I think it’s going to be enough. There’s a ball joint in the head that provides rotation and some nuance posing. It looks down well, but not up. The shoulders are ball-hinged and you get all of the rotation you need, but the boxy shape of the shoulder means the figure can’t raise its arms out to the side. You get maybe 45 degrees there. There is a biceps swivel and it’s integrated very well into the sculpt. The elbow hinge is only a single hinge, but the design allows it to go past 90 degrees so that’s fine. The wrists swivel and hinge and I already mentioned the direction of the hinges is unfortunate. In the diaphragm, we do have a ball joint above the opening for the Utrom. It’s actually more functional than I expected as you get a little forward and back, some tilt, and a fair amount of rotation. At the waist is another twist and the hips are the standard ball and socket joint. There’s a thigh pivot there that provides just a little something for adjustment poses as opposed to a full thigh twist. The legs kick forward to a full horizontal position, though they do drift out from the body a little the higher you go. There’s no range going back, and the single-jointed hinge will get you a 90 degree bend. At the ankles we have a hinge that allows for plenty of range backwards, but nothing forward. The ankle rocker works fine. It’s decent and I think it’s enough for this character. He can do plenty of one-handed gun poses. I do think NECA could have sacrificed a little bit in the sculpt at the shoulders for more range, and the lack of vertical hinges for the hands is an ongoing problem. The actual Utrom in the body is not articulated, but I don’t think it needs to be.

The Utrom may not be a character that gets a lot of TMNT collectors excited, but the finished product is one of the best releases from NECA in a long time. I think this is easily my favorite from the Mirage line and I would put it up there with the best from the toon line as well. I can’t say enough good things about the paint job. This comic deco is fantastic and I love that NECA has the guts to try something like this with its figures. So many collectors dump on “cel-shading” when it comes to figure releases without realizing that most of the companies attempting that effect with their figures do a piss poor job. It takes effort and money to get it right as well as artistic vision. I’ve said it numerous times, but natural lighting cannot shade an action figure based on a comic book character the way that character is drawn in the book. It’s impossible. Comic book artists do their own thing that doesn’t work in reality and no one complains because it looks awesome. It’s stylized, but some of it is so prevalent that we don’t really think about it. I always use Venom as an example. We know his costume is black, but if you showed a panel from “Lethal Protector” to a kid he’d tell you the costume is blue because that’s how comic book artists shade black. And that’s what I want out of my figures. Major props to NECA on this one, they hit a homerun. I can’t wait to see what they do next.

More from NECA and their expansive selection of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures:

NECA TMNT Cartoon The Wrath of Krang!

We’re back for 2021, and right now it looks like a lot like 2020 as we have a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figure to talk about – Android Krang! Hopefully, this doesn’t mean 2021 is a lot like 2020 going forward, but if it’s going to copy anything from 2020 then let it…

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NECA TMNT Mirage Studios Fugitoid

I’m having a hard time coming up with an action figure line that has had retail releases separated by more than a decade. I don’t mean long-running lines of figures like G.I. Joe or Marvel Legends which have been around for decades, I mean a line that was started, ended, then re-started like NECA’s line…

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NECA Mirage Shredder and Foot Clan NYCC Exclusive Set

The Shredder had a rough go at things for awhile when it came to plastic. He was featured rather prominently in the old Playmates line, though perhaps not as prominently as one would expect. Playmates never did do a movie version of him, aside from Super Shredder, and his figure was arguably the worst from…

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Marvel Legends Retro Card Cyborg Spider-Man

It’s Spider-Man with a robot arm!

Well, this is a figure that I never planned on reviewing. It’s a bit old at this point, but we’re looking at yet another Spider-Man retro card release from Hasbro and this time it’s Cyborg Spider-Man. Now, I remember seeing this quite some time ago at Target and thinking it looked fine, but I’m not a Marvel Legends collector so I never paid it any real mind. I say that, and yet 2022 is the year I bought more Legends than I have since 2006 mostly due to the X-Men animated line, but it also got started with the animated Venom. That Venom lead me down a rabbit hole where I wound up with Web-Man, Symbiote Spider-Man, and more recently the animated Spider-Man. It was getting that most recent one that basically resulted in me grabbing this guy because what I really wanted was a webline part. That figure didn’t come with one, but when I went to Target recently I spotted a figure that did. Spoiler alert – it’s this one!

Even with the new hardware, he still does spider shit.

Cyborg Spider-Man is a 2021 release, if I’m not mistaken. Possibly late 2020. Things blend together a bit in my head when it comes to release dates, especially for lines I don’t typically collect. The foot of this one is stamped 2016, but I’m guessing that’s because most of the parts are that old. It’s not recent though and not one I’ve seen in Target in quite some time. I don’t know why my nearest Target had one, random, figure on the pegs, but it did. It initially didn’t even ring up because the barcode was no longer in their system, and when it finally did, it rang up as some Spider-Man bow and arrow toy. Unfortunately, that toy carried the same MSRP as this one so I didn’t get a deal or anything, but it suggests to me that maybe Target recently unearthed some extra stock because the figure is also online again as of this writing. Regardless, I thought the sculpt was interesting and a pretty fun variant on Spider-Man, and since it came with a web line accessory, I said “Why not?” And since I have a blog that heavily leans into toy reviews, we might as well take a look.

I think of him as more of a punchy Spider-Man.

Cyborg Spider-Man stands a tick over the 6 inch mark. He comes packaged on a retro card and is a nice throwback to the Toy Biz figure of the same design. I actually never had that one, I really didn’t get many Spider-Man variants, but I can recall thinking it looked fine. I just prioritized getting villains over yet another Spider-Man. He was also a late entry in the line, if I’m not mistaken, and it’s possible I was already shifting priorities. The design hasn’t changed though. This is basically Spider-Man, but with a robot arm. He does have a belt and some accessories on the head, but it’s the big, cybernetic, left arm that stands out the most. Since I’m not a regular buyer of this line, I couldn’t tell you where all of these parts are from. The main body is the same one we saw with Web-Man which I think originated with a Spider-Man 2099 figure. The arm could be from someone like Cable or Deathlok, or it could be all new. Since it’s an older release, it’s not a pinless body so we get the ugly red dot on the inner right arm resulting from the red peg that goes through it. The blue pegs around the knees don’t cause the same sort of eyesore. It’s a very muscular sculpt and one that feels appropriate for this specific version of Spider-Man. I like how the cybernetic arm turned out and it looks as it should. The head has these giant eye lenses which are also fun and very McFarlane-esque. The belt is glued in place, but the white wraps on his right thigh are a floating part which could be removed if desired. It’s a little annoying that it doesn’t stay in place and it’s a reminder why newer figures like Morph and Cyclops have them keyed in. The only details I don’t like about the sculpt are the tiny shoulders, which is a consistent criticism I have for Marvel Legends. They just look silly and sit too low.

I wish they had painted the stitching on the mask.

As far as paint goes, we have our usual Marvel Legends mixed bag. The figure is a mix of blue and red plastic with a light gray used for the robot arm. The weblines are done well enough and I like the black outline on the red portions of the costume, something the animated Spidey didn’t roll with. The painted and colored reds look close enough and the painted portions of the head are fine. What I don’t like is how the spider logo on the rear turned out. It really needs a black outline or something to help it pop and it looks almost washed out. It also has a big hole which I guess is for an old flight stand. There’s also a severe lack of paint in most places. On the head, there’s stitches holding a portion of the mask together which were left unpainted. It’s a shame, because they’re sculpted well enough, but are barely noticeable due to the lack of paint. There’s also no paint on either the belt or the left arm save for the plate on the shoulder and bracelet area. The belt just looks boring and cheap as a result while the arm has too much of a plastic look. There’s no attempt to make it look like it’s made of metal and, again, it’s a shame because the sculpt is there. It just needs a little dry-brushing to bring it out. In a perfect world it would be painted-up like NECA’s Fugitoid, but I know Hasbro isn’t going to sink that kind of money into this line. At least this one is $23 instead of $28 or $35 so it’s easier to overlook these shortcomings, but still unfortunate to see Hasbro not do right by their sculptors and designers.

This spider on the back could have been handled better.

The articulation for this Spider-Man is not really it’s strong suit. I suppose we shouldn’t expect a cyborg version of the character to move as well as a traditional one, but I thought it would be a little better than this. The head is on the usual ball hinge which provides good enough range up and down, but not much nuance posing. The shoulders are ball-hinged and pretty limited out to the side. The left arm is hindered by the big plate on the shoulder, but even the right arm can’t quite hit a horizontal pose. There is a butterfly joint which provides more range going back than forward. It’s okay, but a bit ugly because the paint isn’t continued as far as the joint goes so you end up with gaps in the weblines on the front and the spider legs on the rear. The elbows are double-jointed on both arms and both can bend past 90 degrees. The cybernetic arm can even go further than the right arm as more plastic was cut away to make it work. The wrists rotate and hinge horizontally while the abdomen features a ratcheted ab crunch. It only allows one click back and one click forward so the range isn’t impressive. The waist twist is a waist twist and it is at least hidden by the belt because otherwise it would look pretty hideous. The legs can just about hit a split with a little effort, why newer figures can’t is a real mystery, while the legs kick forward to about horizontal with no range going back. We get the usual thigh cut and the double-jointed knees work just fine. There’s a boot swivel and the ankles hinge forward and back pretty far and feature a steep, but usable, ankle rocker. It’s nothing particularly impressive, but I don’t know what kind of posing most want to do with this guy. I tend to think he should be posed more like a brawler than the nimble Spider-Man of norm, but that could be just me. By Legends standards, it’s basically average.

Your webline is looking a bit limp there, Spider-Man.

And that’s kind of it for selling points with this guy because the accessories are not impressive. Cyborg Spider-Man comes with fist hands in the box and he has one thwip right hand he can switch to. He also has that all important webline I wanted which is just a piece of malleable, off-white, plastic with a little curl at one end and a triangular shape at the other. It’s kind of odd that they don’t have a clip on the end designed for the hand/wrist area. And since he can’t grip it with any hand it makes it hard to do much with. I found I can kind of get the triangle to work with the thwip hand, but it’s rather precarious and frustrating. It’s a bit amusing that I basically bought this figure for this piece and I’m not finding it very useful. If it was just a bendy wire that could wrap around him that would be better than this. That’s it though. One extra hand and one mediocre web effect.

All right, you can stay.

Given the articulation woes and the lack of accessories, this figure is basically one to judge based on the overall aesthetic. And if you like this interpretation of Spider-Man, then you’ll probably be fine with this one. I do like the look, and while I wish it was painted better, I think it looks okay on a shelf. The fact that it’s at the older price point definitely helps because if it was up any higher I’d have not bought it. And if you are into customizing your action figures, this one probably won’t take much effort to really bring out some of the details. There are elements of the figure that are a bit dated, but the sculpt helps make it worthwhile. In short, I’m content to have this figure I never planned on getting.

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Marvel Legends X-Men Animated Series Cyclops

I wasn’t sure he would make it in time, but Hasbro managed to ship Cyclops before the end of the year. Cyclops marks the final figure (for now) in Hasbro’s X-Men animated series subline of Marvel Legends. It has been…a ride. What was once a dream line of mine to see brought to fruition, turned…

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Marvel Legends Web-Man

No, this is not bootleg Spider-Man, this is Web-Man! Who is Web-Man? I actually had no idea until I just looked it up. It would seem Web-Man is a copy of Spider-Man created by Dr. Doom. Not only are his colors inverted from the real thing, but so is most everything else. And since Spidey…

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NECA TMNT Quarter Scale Toon Leonardo

Leo is here and bigger than ever!

We’re not yet far enough removed from the holidays that Christmas has left my brain. And if you were to ask me what my favorite Christmas present was as a kid I wouldn’t hesitate to say my Super Nintendo. I had a real “Ralphie moment” in that I found it last having failed to notice it off to the side propped between the dining room table and the wall. It was an awesome gift and a memorable way to get it. My second favorite though was my Giant-Sized Leonardo. I got that gift from an aunt who must have talked to my mom and found out who my favorite turtle was. My dad is one of nine kids so Christmas with his family was always done as a pseudo Secret Santa, only it wasn’t a secret. All of the cousins (or the parents) drew names so that not every family was buying a gift for every niece and nephew. I think it was supposed to be a ten dollar limit too, but this particular aunt always loves giving gifts and is known to blow past such suggestions. I didn’t even know the giant sized line existed when I unwrapped that gift so I was blown away. My favorite toy turned into this massive figure? It was incredible! The only negative was he only came with one sword when we all know that Leonardo wields two.

It was my affection for that old toy (which I sadly no longer possess) that convinced me to collect NECA’s quarter scale line of figures based on the cartoon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I’ve already looked at Raphael and Donatello so with Leonardo there won’t be a ton to discuss. As is the case in the show, the turtles are all identical save for their weapons and colors so the figures follow the same style. They’re all the same save for the belts and paint, including the headsculpts. NECA used this line to unveil their new approach to turtle heads that come in two parts: eyes and mouth. This allows for the collector to change the expressions to suit their mood. You can have all of the turtles basically look the same, or make sure they’re all doing something different. It’s an idea so good that it’s been brought to the 1:12 line since.

Leonardo comes in the same “Giant Sized” box as the previous two figures and stands a shade under 15″. He weighs over 3 pounds so he’s a big, weighty, toy. The sculpt is the same as before save for the L medallion on the front of the belt and the holsters for Leo’s swords on the rear of the belt. Like the smaller figures, NECA uses it’s two-tone shading with dark colors on the rear and bright colors on the front when it comes to paint. Most of the figure is painted, which is good and bad. Good because it gives the figure a real depth of color, but bad because there are spots of paint transfer. The rear of the my figure’s thighs have some brown from the shell and there’s some blue above the kneepad of the right knee as well. It’s not terrible, but it can stand out on a figure of such size. The black linework is largely sharp and helps make the figure “pop” when looking at it. It’s an impressive piece, as were the past two, and there’s almost a sense of disbelief to have such a giant turtle in-hand.

I prefer my Leo to be happy.

Leonardo’s expressions are both familiar and different. NECA intentionally mixes up the included mouth shapes with each release. Raph has just two, while Donnie had three, and Leo reflects the Donatello release. His included mouths are a smile, open mouth smile, and a neutral expression. The one mouth he doesn’t have is the yelling mouth which was included with both Donatello and Raph. Donatello had both the smile and neutral mouth so Leo doesn’t come with anything new, but I’m glad he has three options instead of two. Swapping them can be trying. I had to heat up some of them to get the eyes to snap in place while others I didn’t have to. He comes with the standard eyes on the smiling mouth and the standard eyes seem to work better as a result. The angry eyes required more effort, but I didn’t have any problem getting them on and off the neck peg and none are too loose like they are with Raph so that’s a plus. In terms of hands, Leo was given gripping hands, open hands, and thumb’s up hands. He doesn’t get the finger-pointing hands, but more importantly, his gripping hands are the same as Raph and Don. In the 1:12 line, NECA actually created three different sets of gripping hands: standard with horizontal hinge, standard with vertical hinge, and a wider gripping hand so that Raph can be posed with the middle tyne of his sai in between his fingers. For the quarter scale line, NECA apparently chose to only adopt the wide gripping hand. I expected this figure to come with new gripping hands with a vertical hinge because the 1:12 version has them and the quarter scale movie Leonardo has them as well (the 7″ movie Leo unfortunately does not). It sucks because NECA is obviously aware of which hand works best for a sword wielder like Leonardo (I’d argue the vertical hinge is also appropriate for Raph and Mikey with only Donatello benefitting from a horizontal hinge), but it’s frustratingly inconsistent in its approach. The recent Hudson figure from the Gargoyles line has it, but a character like Usagi Yojimbo does not. Make it make sense! And for $125 for a figure requiring minimal new tooling, it feels like something that we should have got here.

This aspect of the figure could stand to work better.

As for accessories beyond the optional parts, we have the customary swords. They’re the same shape as the 1:12 version, just upscaled. They appear to be sculpted in white with painted handles. The one benefit of Leo having Raph’s more specialized gripping hands is that the handles of the swords fit easily into them. It’s also helped by the fact that the hands are fairly pliable. This means there’s less chance for paint rub on the hands, which is not something that can be said of the sheaths on the rear of the figure. The fit for the swords is a tight one, especially the sheath on the bottom. And you will get some paint rub onto the nice, white, blades so maybe don’t even bother. I got the top sword through with minimal rub while the bottom one lead to a lot. I used a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to get most of the brown off of the blade, but I don’t ever plan on sheathing these again. If it’s something you must do, then maybe heat the sheaths with a hair dryer first and see if that helps. Aside from the swords, Leo just has the same two slices of pizza which can key into the slices that came with the other figures. He also has a communicator which opens and closes just like Raph and Don and he has one paper good. It’s a newspaper or magazine titled Crimestoppers Weekly. It’s fine and obviously something that’s cheap to include.

The articulation for Leo is the exact same as the other two figures, so I don’t feel like I need to get into it. I just want to highlight that, unlike the 1:12 figures, these quarter scale figures have double-jointed elbows. The elbow pad pegs into the center part of the elbow and you actually get decent range there, a bit past 90 degrees. The joints are pretty tight overall though and I had issues with the biceps swivel and thigh twists. The biceps just required some additional effort as I just needed to make sure I got some leverage on the shoulder before twisting. The thigh swivel is much harder to get at since these figures have legs that pin into the crotch piece. That’s because they need to be ratcheted to support the figure’s weight, but it makes it quite difficult to get any leverage on that thigh twist. Both are stuck and attempting to twist them just stresses that peg in the hip and could easily lead to an unfortunate break. There’s some traces of lubrication at the joint, but it apparently wasn’t applied well enough. I had the same issue with Raph, bt Donatello had a lot of lubricating oil in there and I was able to twist his thighs without issue. I assumed it was all solved, but Leo is like Raph unfortunately. I haven’t been able to get them to move and I’m guessing I never will.

It’s nice to see them all together, but it also makes it plainly obvious who we’re missing.

Giant Sized Leonardo is a throwback sort of figure with modern engineering. If you have the other two, you basically know what to expect. Because of the lack of vertical hinges on his gripping hands, I might have to consider this figure the worst of the 3 given the issues with the thighs. It paints me to admit that since Leonardo is my favorite, so subjectively I like this figure more than the other two, but there are certainly some disappointments. If that is not an issue for you then you’ll probably be content. And if you have the other two then you basically already know if you want this or not. Had Leo been the first figure out in this line I might have been able to just go one and done with my favorite turtle in this scale, but since I started with Raph I pretty much have to have all four now. As for when that will happen, who knows? Michelangelo has yet to go up for solicitation, though a finished sample was present in a recent interview The Fwoosh conducted with NECA’s Trevor Zammit so I have to assume it’s either in production or in line to go into production. Which isn’t surprising since it’s the same figure as the other three. Leonardo started showing up last fall, the place I ordered it from seemed to get it in last, so maybe Mikey will show up on a similar timeline. I’m anxious to see how they do his nunchaku in this scale and to see if he comes with any extras. It will be nice to finally have all four together when that day comes.

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NECA Quarter Scale TMNT Toon Raph

My first NECA Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles product was the original release of the Mirage Studios quartet released in 2008. Nearly a decade went by before I bought another TMNT product from NECA, and that item ended up being the quarter scale movie Donatello. It was love at first sight for me and Donnie, and…

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NECA TMNT Quarter Scale Toon Donatello

2022 has been a year of catch-up so far for me. A lot of stuff I preordered a year or more ago is finally coming due, and often without the actual preorder! The NECA quarter scale toon Donatello from the classic cartoon series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is yet another preorder that just didn’t get…

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Neca 1/4 Scale TMNT Movie Leonardo

NECA is now 3/4 of the way through the release schedule of their TMNT 1990 movie line with the release of Leonardo – the REAL leader of the group. And like Donatello and Raphael before him, he’s a pretty impressive specimen. The original 1990 movie impossibly never had dedicated action figures. Playmates half-assed a line…

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Marvel Legends Spider-Man (Animated)

Not quite amazing Spider-Man.

It was in 2021 that Hasbro released a PulseCon exclusive Venom figure on a Spider-Man retro card. The retro card series is meant to stir-up nostalgia for all of the adults who were buying toys and watching cartoons in the 90s as the retro card is a facsimile of the old cards Toy Biz used to utilize. The cards were for the Spider-Man tie-in series of toys that went along with the cartoon series of the same name. Airing on Fox Kids, Spider-Man was a natural follow-up to X-Men as it featured arguably Marvel’s most popular and recognizable hero in a starring role. The X-Men animated series did wonders to help boost the profile of Marvel’s mutants, and the Spider-Man cartoon essentially did the same. The retro card series that Hasbro launched just a few years ago often had some overlap with that cartoon, but they weren’t necessarily cartoon-specific sculpts. The exclusive Venom was different in that it contained two, new, headsculpts clearly modeled after Venom from the show. Plus, it featured his unusual shading from the show of light blue on one side and red on the other.

Go web!

2022 saw Hasbro double-down on the retro releases as it launched the X-Men Animated Series subline of Marvel Legends. While we can certainly debate how hard the company actually went in to trying to recreate the characters as they appeared in the show, the line did try to showcase those characters with some animation specific shading and (in some cases) sculpts. The line must have been successful because Hasbro is doing the same in 2023 only with Spider-Man as the featured series. Why now? I don’t know. The X-Men line coincided with the show’s 30th anniversary and it would have made sense to do the same for Spider-Man in 2024, but Hasbro is apparently far too eager to wait another year. The show is getting the same treatment in that it’s likely to be reused sculpts with some shading added and it’s all packaged in a box designed to mimic a VHS release. The first set, as they’re apparently going with two-packs for now, won’t be out for a few more months, but we essentially got a preview to close-out 2022 in the form of an exclusive Spider-Man sent to Walmart. This Spider-Man is sold on a retro card designed to resemble the old Web Racer Spider-Man toy from the 90s. The image is essentially the same, but since there wasn’t much in the way of preservation for those old cards it had to be redone and has been lovingly recreated by artist Harry Moore. This time, Spidey is fully posable and doesn’t have a string running through him. It’s a new sculpt, though not a unique sculpt, and most importantly it features a cel-shaded paint job to fit-in with the previously released Venom.

The sculpt is mostly fine, save for how pointed his face is (unless it’s just mine).

Let’s get it out of the way upfront: Walmart sucks. This guy went up for preorder in July, but before a single figure was shipped it started showing up in stores in early December or late November. It showed up in tiny quantities though, apparently just 2 per store, and it was a bastard of a release to track down as a result. It also never showed up in Walmart’s app or website as in-stock, so it was a total shot in the dark to go looking for one during the busy, holiday, rush. As for those preorders, that’s how I got mine, but several are still waiting and with the listing being dropped from Walmart’s website it sure looks like a lot of folks are heading for a cancellation. It’s great that they made sure to send product to stores first, rather than take care of the orders they already took-in months ago. And if you are lucky and like me and manage to get one shipped from Walmart, expect it to come packed in a foil envelope likely beat to hell once it arrives. The cardback on mine is dinged-up pretty well, plus the plastic bubble was cracked and broken. I’m not a mint-on-card collector, but I know a lot of people are with these retro cards and plenty more like to double-dip to keep one carded and one opened. To those folks, best of luck. You’re going to need it.

The rear spider looks nice and clean.

Once opened Spidey stands at a tick over 6″. This sculpt is apparently the same as the first appearance Spider-Man also released in 2022 in the new style of packaging. It’s a pinless body and it’s notable because it’s a smaller Spider-Man. He’s well-defined, but not as bulky as the other new Spider-Man body from this year released in the Renew Your Vows two-pack. This is probably Hasbro’s best Spider-Man body to date. I’m certainly not an expert as I only dabble in Marvel Legends, but it’s much better than the Web-Man and Symbiote figures I do have. It still has its problems, which we’ll go over, but just overall has a nice shape. The smallish Legends shoulders aren’t laughably small here and most of all I just like this shade of blue that’s in use. It’s a light blue, shaded with a darker blue, and it just captures the look of the character from the era. I get more of an 80s vibe if anything from the color combo, but it’s fine as an animated version too, though I’d argue his blue was actually darker in the show. The only thing about the sculpt I don’t like is the head. It’s a little big, plus it feels pinched in the front. I don’t know why it’s not more round as it doesn’t even look like a human face could make this shape. It’s a shame, because the eye shape is nice and it’s pretty well-painted. Many have complained that web lines on their figure are off-center. Mine is, but it’s small. You can see it by looking at the hexagonal shape in the middle as one side touches the tip of the eye lens while the other does not.

The range isn’t perfect, but it’s good enough to get some Spidey poses out of it.

The overall paint job strikes me as pretty much par for the course with Hasbro. There’s a lot of colored plastic in use which leads to issues of color-matching. The red on the chest is noticeably darker than the red on the arms and feet. That’s because one is painted, and one is red plastic. The edges are also not crisp and clean as my figure has a blemish on its right pectoral which is a rather lousy place for such an imperfection to exist. There are little instances of that throughout the figure, though not in a large number at least. The web lines mostly look good though with a defined curve to them rather than a boxy look which tends to happen. Both spider logos are nice and clean, and the pinless body is a welcomed addition as there’s no unsightly red dot on the inner arm any longer. There is one eyesore on the back of the figure where Hasbro didn’t continue the red paint of his belt area far enough so when he crunches forward you end up with a section of blue instead. Normally, not a big deal, but Spider-Man is a character who is known for deep crunches so here it’s not acceptable. The cel-shading is what it is. For Hasbro, this is one of their better applications of it. There’s some linework on the torso in black to highlight the musculature and the shading goes under the pecs. The rest of the shading is reserved for the inner arms, as they apparently wanted to avoid shading red areas as much as possible, and inner right thigh and outer left. There’s also a hit on both boots and the inner arm shading continues onto the gloves a tiny bit. Does it make a ton of sense? No, they’re clearly going in a haphazard manner. I think it looks fine on the torso while the inner arms are kind of “meh.” The thighs and boots don’t bother me. It is what it is and you know if you like it or not at this point. And if you want to remove it, good luck. It’s paint on top of paint where the arms are concerned so it won’t be easy to just wipe away. And where it goes over the web-lines you’re basically screwed. You would be better off just repainting the whole thing. At least for Hasbro, this one is probably better than all of the X-Men releases with only Sinister perhaps being better. Venom was pretty good too for what he is so maybe these Spider-Man releases will just plain be better than what we saw with the X-Men?

“Take that!”

Articulation for a Spider-Man figure is rather important, and I was a little let down by the other Spideys I have. This one is better. Is it perfect? Of course not, but it’s a step in the right direction. The head is still on a ball and hinge so it looks up and down rather well and can rotate, but lacks much in the way of nuance posing. The shoulders are ball-hinged and they raise out to the side just fine, though it does expose the red hinge underneath which is set against the blue of the armpit which is one eyesore not solved by pinless tech. The butterfly joint provides more range back than it does forward, but it’s not a tremendous eyesore so I consider that a win for a Hasbro butterfly joint (and if you want more range, there’s a popular mod for doing so that may apply to this figure as well, just search for it on YouTube). There’s a biceps swivel which does what it needs to do and double-jointed elbows. I cannot get the top hinge on either arm to budge though so I am presently only getting a 90 degree bend (after the review, I did resort to the hot water trick and got it going, though it’s still pretty tight). Hopefully this isn’t a widespread issue. The wrists rotate and hinge horizontally on all hands. In the torso, we have a diaphragm joint which allows for some forward and back, but is mostly good for rotation and tilt which it does rather well. There’s a lot of painted stuff here though, so do be careful. At the waist is the ab crunch which goes forward and back plenty far. Missing is a waist twist which makes me wonder if a ball-peg would have worked better in place of the ab crunch. At the hips, we have ball and socket joints which still can’t quite hit a split. This is Spider-Man, Hasbro! Why can’t he do splits? He can at least kick forward a reasonable amount, but not back. There’s a thigh cut there, double-jointed knees which work better than the elbows, a boot cut, and a hinge and ankle rocker combo at the ankle. All of that stuff works well with no gummy-ness to the joints. I know some would like a toe-hinge, but I don’t really care if it’s here or not. He can hit some good Spidey poses though with the only real disappointment being those hips and my stuck elbows.

“Now it’s our turn, Spider-dweeb!”

That’s where the good stuff ends as when it comes to accessories Hasbro loves to disappoint. Spider-Man comes with three sets of hands: fists, wall-crawling, and thwip hands. That’s basically the standard, Spidey, assortment, but some gripping hands would be nice. I suppose they’re not needed though since he doesn’t come with a web-line to grip. Instead, he has two web splat effects, one bigger than the other. They’re all white and made of a pliable plastic, but they don’t really do anything. I guess you can toss one onto a villain’s face? They’re more like window-dressing parts and what I would prefer to have is an actual webline or something from the show like his web backpack. These things are just useless.

Spider-Men! Assemble!

If you want to get your hands on this guy, I guess all you can do for now is monitor Walmart to see if the listing returns. Their exclusive Black Series Holiday Scout Trooper recently showed up at Big Bad Toy Store so maybe this Spider-Man will too? Otherwise, it’s the secondary market at this point where this thing will cost a lot more than the $27 Walmart was charging. As is the case with virtually all Marvel Legends these days, this one isn’t exactly worth it, but if you have that Venom or really loved watching this show as a kid then you may feel a strong pull towards this guy. And in that case, it’s a price that can be accepted. At 50 or 60 bucks? Ehh, I wouldn’t do it. With Hasbro launching a dedicated Spider-Man line in 2023 it seems highly unlikely that this will remain a Walmart exclusive forever. After all, how can you do a Spider-Man line that doesn’t feature Spider-Man in red and blue? Hasbro does some stupid things, like not finishing the 92 X-Men team, but I don’t think they’re dumb enough to let this figure remain a Walmart exclusive. My assumption is there will be a VHS re-release with different accessories. It’s possible it will be on a different mold, but I don’t think they’ll go through that trouble. It’s a good Spidey though, probably Hasbro’s best, so when that re-release does happen (or this mold gets a comic release in this shade of blue) I would suggest jumping on it unless you absolutely hate the cel-shading. And if that’s the case, there’s the Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends three-pack that has a Spidey from that show on this body with no cel-shading. It’s probably every bit as good as this one, perhaps better if you prefer your Spidey with a darker blue, but it costs $75 and comes with a decent Firestar and an absolute dumpster fire of an Iceman. That set would have been right in my nostalgia wheelhouse if they didn’t blow it so hard on Iceman, my favorite member of the X-Men when I was a kid. Hasbro just can’t make things easy for Spider-Man fans.

“So am I a member of the X-Men now? Because the Avengers keep coming after me and I don’t want to overcommit. Especially since I have class tomorrow.”

More from the world of Spider-Man and Marvel Legends:

Hasbro Retro Card Symbiote Spider-Man

One of the most iconic costumes in the world of superheroes is definitely that of Spider-Man. I put that classic red and blue with webbed detailing right up there with Superman and Batman. I would argue that there’s no more iconic costume in the world of Marvel than Spidey’s, and the crazy thing with Spider-Man…

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Marvel Legends X-Men Animated Series Wolverine

The toyline of my dreams was announced last October. In celebration of the 30th anniversary of the television series X-Men, Hasbro is doing a dedicated line of Marvel Legends with figures based on the look of the show. The show was obviously inspired by the designs of Jim Lee, but there are differences in the…

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NECA TMNT Mirage Studios Renet

She’s traveled a long way to get here.

Welcome to the first Turtle Tuesday of 2023! 2022 is the year that NECA returned to the Mirage Studios subline of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures it started way back in 2008. When the line was announced to return, it was essentially taking the place of the Turtles in Time figures that had been sold through specialty shops over the past two years or so. These figures would be sold in a similar fashion as it was the small shops that would be able to place orders after being shutout of the more popular movie and cartoon sublines of TMNT. What NECA didn’t clarify at the time was that the Mirage figures (and Archie) would not be exclusive to those places, just available. When the company released Fugitoid earlier this year, it was via Target with the specialty shop places not getting the figure until months later. Since then, more has been revealed and for collectors it’s been a mixed bag as far as the experience goes. Specialty shops were given the figures Renet, Casey Jones, and the Utrom to solicit, but in the case of Renet and Jones, they were getting a variant based on the IDW re-colored issues. Renet is normally clothed in blue and Casey red, but the figures up for order featured a Renet in red and a Casey in gray. Is that a big deal? It depends on who you ask. A Blue Renet would eventually surface as a Walmart exclusive attached to some weird, NFT-like, distribution in which the consumer places an order either online (it has since sold out) or in-store that just gives them a code. They then go home and enter that code into a different website to take digital ownership of the figure at which point the collector can either “store” it or ship it. The turn-around on shipping was promised to be around two weeks, but turned into a month or more for those who participated. Oh, and the figures sold in this fashion (which also included black and white variants of the Mirage Foot Soldier and Shredder) retailed for 40 bucks, five more than the other versions.

Renet is no damsel in distress.

I personally wanted nothing to do with that arrangement. It sounds needlessly complicated, plus the toys are more expensive. Unfortunately, I did want the blue version of Renet, but I’m too stubborn to give in and jump through those hoops so when I eventually found the standard version at Target I just grabbed it. My experience with the character has mostly been in black and white anyway, so I’m not that attached to the blue color scheme, I just prefer it. It looks nicer. For others who grew up reading the colorized version of the old books they understandable have more attachment to the blue costume and I do not blame them one bit that the easy to order version of the character is essentially a variant with the true version locked behind an exclusive arrangement. That is, frankly speaking, bullshit and not the way I think NECA should be approaching this line. If part of the selling point of the Mirage line is to feature it at actual comic shops then it should be those places that get the standard version and send the IDW colors to Walmart. Instead it feels like NECA is admitting that variants of these characters aren’t going to be that popular so they’re making the more desirable version both exclusive and more expensive. It’s not a good look and given that NECA’s reputation has already taken a hit in 2022 thanks to the Loot Crate fiasco, it feels like another self-inflicted wound.

She can also go hoodless, if that’s your preference.

All that aside, Renet is pretty damn good figure. That’s the frustrating part as it would be nice to just voice with the wallet and skip the release all together, but the product is good and it’s not like sculptor Jon Matthews is responsible for how the thing is sold. Renet, if you’re unfamiliar with the character, debuted in issue number 8 or the Mirage Studios run. She is the Mistress of Time and carries the Sceptre of the Sands of Time which, as you probably could have guessed, affords her the ability to manipulate time. This leads to a time-hopping adventure with our heroes which would be adapted in both the 2003 cartoon series and the 2012 one (she kept her blue clothing in both, by the way). Given that there are so few female characters associated with the brand, it makes sense to turn to Renet fairly early in the relaunch to provide some variety out of the gate.

And if you want to go hoodless, she has this little piece to go over her neck that resembles the hood.

The figure arrives in the trapezoid styled box that Fugitoid came in complete with new artwork from Kevin Eastman. Renet stands approximately 6″ in height and feature the unfamiliar color combo or red and brown. Her default portrait features a red hood with a removable helmet that’s also red and accented with yellow. Her actual costume, which is essentially a one-pieced bathing suit, is brown and adorned with numerous clockfaces which are all sculpted details, and not decals. There’s some black linework to make the suit appear to be armored and she has gray shoulder pads, brown gloves, and brown boots. Every inch of this figure is painted and given the numerous clockfaces on the costume it’s really impressive that there’s little in the way of paint slop. If you go hunting for it you’ll probably find a clockface that isn’t perfect, but it’s rather remarkable how well the paint turned out. And I can say I saw three figures at Target and all three looked great. There’s the customary linework as well on the clothing and even some of the flesh portions like the knees and elbows. The only detail I don’t care for is the black line under her mouth which I just don’t think needs to be there. Otherwise, the paint is terrific.

The sculpt all around on this figure is exceptional for what is a mass produced item.

The sculpt for Renet is equally wonderful. The clocks I already mentioned and they’re a nice touch. The clock hands on each face are painted on so I guess if you have exceptionally high standards you can take NECA to task for not sculpting those, but I think they look good. Renet’s face and hair looks very true to the source material which was a bit rugged back in the day. Eastman will readily admit that he felt they had a hard time drawing females in the early days and it was something they worked hard to refine. I think she looks good though and her body certainly isn’t lacking for curves as she’s rather buxom. I like that her legs and arms have some shape to them though like she is strong and capable. This is in contrast to a lot of Marvel Legends where I feel their females tend to be too thin and lacking in muscle definition. Other sculpted details on the figure include wrinkles and creases in the gloves and boots which simulate the look of leather very well. The shoulder pads have sculpted indents in them too. Renet’s unusual helmet is also handled well with sculpted ridges and those weird ovals on the side.

And it’s not just the figure, the accessories are well-sculpted and well-painted too.
This scroll contains basically the only paint imperfections in the set. I can live with it.

Renet also comes packed with the standard assortment of articulation we’ve come to expect from NECA. The head is on a double-ball peg that allows her to look up, down, rotate, and tilt. Her shoulders are ball hinged and she can raise her arms out to the side to a horizontal position and rotate around. The shoulder pads flex so they don’t get in the way much, but I would recommend not rotating all the way around to not damage them. There is a biceps swivel plus double-jointed elbows which is great to see. NECA has, in the past, seemed resistance to double double-hinged elbows on characters without sleeves and I’m glad to see they’ve moved on from that fear. The wrists rotate and hinge horizontally. In the torso, there is a diaphragm joint, but it basically just affords some rotation with no forward and back. You will want to be mindful of doing much here too since the sculpted timepieces could get damaged. Because of that fear, I consider the joint functionally useless. At the hips are ball and socket joints that allow Renet to do splits. The crotch is a soft plastic so you do want to watch out for paint rub there, though mine seems okay. The thigh can rotate on that ball a bit and the knees are double-jointed. There is no boot swivel, and the ankles hinge and rock side-to-side. Lastly, we have the wired cape which is basically part of the articulation. It works very well and will allow you to position it as you see fit. My only issue with it is that it doesn’t always want to sit flush with her chest. The articulation here is serviceable. I wish she had some vertical hinges on her gripping hands and it would have been nice to get something out of the diaphragm joint. I like how the legs turned out though as they look terrific since the only visible joints are the knees. It’s a very clean looking figure so if the articulation isn’t going to amaze then at least it’s not contributing to some ugly cuts in the plastic.

This head looks awesome too, I just wish I had a place for it in my display.

Renet also comes with a pretty solid assortment of accessories. For hands, she has a set of open hands, fists, and gripping hands. For those gripping hands she has a scroll she can hold loosely. It’s brown and a yellow-gold on the parchment and is really the only instance of paint slop on my set as there’s a black blob on the yellow. She also has a dagger which is painted rather well and easily slips into her gripping hands as the fingers are fairly flexible on both. She also has her sceptre which looks terrific. The top of it is a monstrous, clawed, hand gripping an hourglass and it’s incredibly well-painted. The only thing that would make it look even better would be if it had an actual hourglass in it. The bottom of the staff also features another claw gripping a gold ball. Just a really cool accessory. Renet also have an alternate portrait with her hood down. There’s a piece of red plastic that serves as the hood which can be placed between her head and cape and the illusion is well conveyed. Her expression on the alternate head is one of concern which is contrast to the strong, stoic, default portrait. She’s also sporting a mullet, which is amusing. I don’t know if I’ll ever use this other head, but it looks good. Lastly, she has a third head which is actually not of her, but Lord Simultaneous. It’s done in transparent red plastic and is accentuated with some black linework and yellow eyes. It looks really cool as the face is screaming, I just don’t know what to do with it. I wish NECA had included a transparent stand for it, just a tall post, for display purposes. The head can be placed on the figure, but I can’t imagine many using this head for their display in such a fashion.

Never would I have imagined Renet serving as the centerpiece of Mirage shelf. Also, I need another shelf.

Renet the character is not one I have ever been particularly attached to, and the wrong color presentation initially lead me to believe I could pass on this release. Then I saw it in-store and found myself giving in, and that’s because this is a really well done figure. The sculpt is terrific and the paint somehow even better. I love the inclusion of the wired cape and she comes packed with plenty of accessories. And if you find her at retail, she should only cost you around $35. Some places tack on a few bucks, but if you shop around you can probably find a good deal on this one. Ignoring the garbage that is the release model for the blue version, this is worth your while if you want to add Renet to your Mirage Studios TMNT collection. The relative obscurity of the character means that Renet will likely be the favorite release in this line of few, but she might be the best overall figure that NECA has done so far in the Mirage line and that’s some pretty high praise.


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