S.H.Figuarts Bulma

Bulma’s back and packing a bigger gun.

It was a little over a year ago that I took a look at the S.H.Figuarts release Bulma – Adventure Begins. I believe I mentioned in that review that the figure I was reviewing was the second Bulma released by Bandai/Tamashii Nations for the SHF line of action figures based on the classic manga/anime Dragon Ball by Akira Toriyama. It was that version of Bulma that I was interested in because it depicted her as she appeared in the very first episode of the anime. The previous version of Bulma had not interested in me as she was in her Mad Max-like outfit from the show’s ending credits and some promotional art. For whatever reason, that version of Bulma has apparently appealed more to companies looking to make collectibles based on the show. When Irwin launched their own line of Dragon Ball toys in the early 2000s, they too went with that look. A lot of statues and other collectibles have gone with it, and I guess it’s just because these companies view their clientele as mostly male and males want to buy the rugged version of Bulma with the machinegun, not the one with the ponytail and pink skirt.

I’d wager most who buy this figure will pose her exactly as she appears on the box.

As someone with a fairly modest Dragon Ball collection, I definitely do not need versions of characters that didn’t even make it into the show. However, the past year being what it is, boredom and clearance pricing has led me to make some purchases I otherwise would not which is why I’m about to tell you all about the first version of Bulma released in the S.H.Figuarts line. Simply titled “Bulma,” this is that biker/raider/whatever iteration of the character. I believe it’s based on artwork by Toriyama, but otherwise those ending credits are where I know it from. It appears about 30 seconds into it and is preceded by quick shots of Bulma putting on her gloves and loading her gun. She’s positioned with a dirt bike too, and the Irwin release included the bike as a stand, while this version is just the figure. It’s certainly an interesting look as she’s covered in bandages and for some reason her pants are missing a leg. Her hair’s in this side ponytail and her name is emblazoned on her shoulder pad. She looks cool, a bit of a rugged cute, she just never looks like this in the actual anime.

“Is that ME?! What am I wearing?!”

The figure basically matches that art to perfection. About the only difference I notice is she has a little grime on her exposed knee in the picture that Bandai didn’t bother to paint on. She’s about five inches tall, which makes her a little taller than Kid Goku, but doesn’t really put her in true scale with anyone in the Dragon Ball line save for maybe Tao. It’s basically a choice Bandai had to make when doing the kid characters for they’d have to be really small to be truly in scale. Bulma comes with her goggles which are basically just intended to be held or draped over her neck as they are in the image. To do so, you just pop her head off and that’s how you complete the look. A lot of the details in her sculpt are done with separate pieces like the satchel at her hip and the shoulder pad on her left arm. I’m not sure if the pad is glued on or just pegged in, but the satchel is pegged and it can be lifted up. The straps across her back and left thigh are sculpted in and painted and the paint application is very clean. The only paint issue I can find concerns some of the hands where the blue rectangle isn’t perfectly lined up with the sculpted-out area for it, but it’s very minor. I really like how her boots turned out and even the little clasps on those are painted silver without slop which is kind of incredible. My only real criticism with the sculpt and paint of this figure rests with the hair. I wish there was a wash or something added to the figure’s hair to reduce the very plastic look it has. It’s matte, but that shade of blue comes out looking a little like Play-Doh.

Look! She can put her gloves on!

This figure likely shares parts with the other version of Bulma and her articulation is essentially the same. Her head sits on a fairly large ball-peg and can rotate, tilt, and look down quite a bit. Her hair prevents her from being able to look up though. At the shoulder she has ball-pegs with a small butterfly joint. She can raise her arms out past 90 degrees at the side, though you have to work with the shoulder pad on her left arm, and rotate all around. The arm swivels basically at the shoulder and above the biceps. At the elbows, she has the SHF disc joints which aren’t my favorite, but it’s what Bandai seems to go with when it’s sculpting characters with thin arms. She can bend past 90, but the joint is rather funky looking when the elbows are not bent. At the wrist she has ball joints with great range and the joint isn’t as awkward looking as it is on some figures because her hands and wrists are fully gloved. In the torso she has a ball joint just below her bust. This allows her to tilt and crunch forward and back with really no gapping issues. It works in conjunction with a ball-joint at the waist resulting in her being super flexible. At the leg, she can lift her legs out to the side a fair amount, but can’t pull off a split. She kicks forward and back to about 90 with a thigh twist up by the ball-joint. The knees use the same disc system as the elbows so they’re single-jointed, but allow the figure to go a little past 90 there as well. The joint here works a little better from an aesthetic point-of-view as the disc is only visible from the back. Below the knee, she surprisingly doesn’t seem to have a boot-cut, but she does have ball-joints at the ankle. They’re a bit limiting though, likely due to the sculpt, so she can’t go forward and back too far and the side-to-side “rocker” action is a bit limited as well.

Dragon Radar: don’t leave home without it!

Bulma is sort of like a tale of two figures when it comes to the articulation: great on top, so-so below the waist. She can still do whatever you need her to. She’s more than capable of hitting the pose from those ending credits, as well as the other product shots on the box. And when it comes to her accessories, there are no problems there as well. Her main accessory is that machinegun she’s seen casually holding in the art. It has a sling that pegs into the rear and side so she can wear it over her shoulder, hold it by the top, or hold it in a more conventional firing position. The gun has a very long stock which makes it a challenge to position properly if you want her to look like she’s actually firing the gun. Not impossible, but it’s definitely not the position Bandai prioritized when developing it. She has those goggles I mentioned which are well-painted and look nice wherever you choose to put them. They just can’t actually fit across her face. She also has the Dragon Radar that the other Bulma comes with. This one has a different decal that doesn’t show any Dragon Balls. Just like with that Bulma, this one comes with a special right hand for the Dragon Radar to peg into since it’s such a small accessory. Definitely try not to drop it on a carpet. She also has an assortment of other hands and most seem like they serve a specific purpose. There’s a set of curved, open, hands that appear intended for holding the Dragon Ball or possibly handlebars. There’s a right, trigger, hand, a right fist, and a right, open, hand. That open hand appears to work in conjunction with a left hand that’s almost a fist, but her thumb is forward in a pinching position. Based on the rear of the box, it appears to be to simulate her pulling on her right glove (the open hand) which is certainly specific. There’s also a left, pointing, hand and a left gripping hand for holding the gun by the top of it as she is in the art. Lastly, there’s a five-star Dragon Ball and I think I now have all seven, plus the “pearl” one that came with Jackie Chun.

One flaw with this line is that Bulma basically scales with no one.

To go with all of that stuff are two additional portraits. Bulma comes with a standard smile in the box, plus an open mouth smile and a winking face. Swapping them is simple as her hair comes off granting access to the face-plate. What’s kind of neat is she can also use the face-plates from the second Bulma release. The smile expressions are basically the same, except this version has a band-aid on her cheek. The open mouth on this Bulma has her looking to her left, while the other is looking straight-ahead. The main difference between the two is the winking face for this figure, and the terrified scream on the other. I can’t see myself swapping faces between the two releases, but it’s nice to have that option. If you wanted to, you could also place her on the SHF Bulma’s Motorcycle accessory, though she doesn’t fit as well as the other Bulma. That’s due to the crotch piece limiting the legs at the hip so it’s a bit tricky to get her all the way down onto the seat and have her feet where they’re supposed to be. It can be done, but that bike definitely works better with the other Bulma since she has a new skirt piece specifically designed to get her properly seated.

It’s a bit of an awkward fit, but if you want to, Bulma can ride the motorcycle.

This is a solid release from Bandai for the SHF line. Despite this version of Bulma never appearing in the anime proper, it’s still associated with an iconic image of the character so it’s not as if it’s unwanted. It’s different enough from Bulma – Adventure Begins that it serves a purpose. It can do the pose that it needs to do, but it also has a range of other possible poses that all look good on a shelf. The only changes I’d make to the figure would be to improve the grip on the trigger hand and apply a wash or something to the hair. Otherwise, I’m happy with the sculpt and paint and the articulation is sufficient for what this figure needs to do. This wasn’t the version of Bulma I decided I needed to have for my Dragon Ball collection, but now that I have it I’m certainly glad it’s here.


Dark Phoenix (2019)

What is it with the X-Men film franchise and its aversion to simple titles? We couldn’t just have X-Men 2, we had to have X2. The third film was billed as X-Men: The Last Stand in some places, but the theatrical poster seemed to imply it was X3: The Last Stand. At least the reboot films seemed to rectify this with X-Men: First Class followed by X-Men: Days of Future Past, but now we have just Dark Phoenix. Not X-Men: Dark Phoenix, but Dark Phoenix. Just in case you were confused though, at least the theatrical poster circled the “X” in Phoenix, but why not just keep things nice and simple?

Dark Phoenix is the 2019 film that marks the end of the X-Men film franchise as we know it. It’s been an interesting, confusing, frustrating, and sometimes thrilling ride. The franchise took off in 2000 with X-Men, and arguably peaked with the sequel. The third film was a let down, and then we had some solo Wolverine outings with one being terrible and the other acceptable, plus a sort of prequel, reboot, in 2011. X-Men: First Class turned me off initially, but once I finally gave it a chance I was forced to concede it was at least a fun film. I just didn’t really like how it tried to be both a reboot and a prequel to the original film and felt it would have been better to just commit to one. Apparently, the studio saw this as an issue too so Days of Future Past in 2014 basically served as the sequel to First Class and as the true reboot for the franchise as the time-traveling original heroes changed history and likely inadvertently erased basically everything that happened in the original trilogy. Confused? I suppose you should be, but at the end of the day, it just meant we were truly were dealing with two distinct sets of films that just both happened to be about the X-Men.

The sequels/reboots ended up being a lot of fun, but things took a turn in the third film, X-Men: Apocalypse. That one was a mess and was a textbook example of what not to do when telling an X-Men story. The villain was just an all-powerful being with no subtext. I likened Apocalypse to a natural disaster in my review of that film and I stand by that. He was a foe that just was; there was no getting away from him or around him or reasoning with him, he just had to be endured. The cast basically exploded which meant we had a bunch of new faces and not enough time to get to know any of them. It was almost as if the film depended on people knowing who these characters were and establishing a connection based off of that and not by what was presented onscreen. Given that, the obvious next step was to tell a story entirely dependent upon the audience caring about these new characters – what could go wrong?

The original story of Phoenix unfolded over several years and was anchored by characters introduced 20 years prior, this film is counting on viewers caring about characters introduced just a film ago and given minimal screen time at that with only 2 hours to tell the story.

Apocalypse made enough money that a fourth film was commissioned: Dark Phoenix. The Dark Phoenix Saga is perhaps the most famous X-Men story ever told. Crafted by writer Chris Claremont and artist John Byrne, The Dark Phoenix Saga unfolded in the pages of Uncanny X-Men spanning 8 issues in 1980. Some would argue the story began earlier with Uncanny X-Men #101 which began the story of Phoenix way back in 1976. In essence, this was a story that unfolded over parts of 5 years, so is it any wonder that other versions of the X-Men have struggled to match the original story?

Probably the best adaptation of The Phoenix Saga and Dark Phoenix Saga is in the animated series X-Men. That show devoted basically 10 episodes to the event and had given us multiple seasons before that to develop a connection to the characters in the show. When the X-Men originally went to film, we had at least had two films to connect with characters Jean Grey and Cyclops, only Cyclops was basically written out of the sequel and quickly killed off at the beginning of the third. Oops! At least The Last Stand had the Wolverine/Jean dynamic and the Xavier/Jean relationship to fall back on, but it was sloppy with the Phoenix character taking a backseat to Magneto for large stretches of the film.

This film is not good, but that’s not because of the performance of actress Sophie Turner.

In the waning moments of Apocalypse, the film started dropping hints that Phoenix was next so I was not surprised to find out that Dark Phoenix was in development, but I immediately expected failure. Once again, a film was jumping over The Phoenix Saga and going straight to Dark Phoenix, only this time, the title character was one no on cared about. The film had a lengthy development cycle due in the part to director/screenwriter Bryan Singer getting fired for being a sexual predator and the studio having enough issues with first-time director Simon Kinberg’s final act that they sent the whole crew back for reshoots. The release date got kicked around as the film would basically become akin to a lame duck president since rumors were flying, and would later come to fruition, that Disney was purchasing 20th Century Fox which would bring an end to the X-Men film franchise. The film was finally released in June 2019 and it bombed. If Wikipedia can be believed, it would eventually make more than its budget, but that probably doesn’t factor in marketing costs so it’s possible the studio lost money, though it’s certainly likely that it did not realize a substantial profit.

The poor reception to the film is why my review has taken more than two years to arrive. I’ve simply been unwilling to spend money to watch it, so I waited for it to finally show up on a streaming platform I was already subscribed to. I will come right out and say it: this movie is not good. I was hoping that maybe for a longtime fan of the X-Men, it would work on a basic level for me and I could have some fun with it despite its flaws. Instead, I found little to enjoy.

For starters, the script and screenplay are poor. Characters are given lines riddled with clich├ęs. One can practically predict every word about to come out of a character’s mouth in a given situation and it just feels like amateur hour. Despite the poor script, some actors are able to rise to the occasion. Sophie Turner, who plays the title character, received poor marks for her performance in Apocalypse, but here she redeems herself. Yes, the movie does her few favors, but she performs as well as could be expected. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender continue to be pleasant as Professor Xavier and Magneto, respectively, though the latter’s appearance felt especially shoe-horned this time around. Just like with Apocalypse, Magneto is basically just to hear to clearly demonstrate that another being is more powerful than him. Nicholas Hoult is fine as Beast/Hank McCoy, but that’s basically it. Jennifer Lawrence continues to underwhelm as Raven/Mystique which is partly due to the character being underserved by the role while Kodi Smit-McPhee (Nightcrawler) and Alexandra Shipp (Storm) are treated more like tools than characters. Jessica Chastain, who reportedly turned down numerous offers to appear in a “superhero” film before, plays the villain Vuk and it’s truly puzzling that this is the role she finally accepted. She must have owed someone a favor or just really likes Kinberg because the role is terrible.

A space rescue leads to an encounter with the Phoenix Force, setting the wheels of the plot in motion.

The plot of the film basically tries to adapt portions of both The Phoenix Saga and Dark Phoenix Saga. When the film begins, Xavier is basically a celebrity with direct access to the President of the United States and things are going well for mutants. It’s supposed to be set in the early 90s, but the period is not utilized in the least. When the X-Men are called upon to save a stranded space shuttle in the outer rim of Earth’s orbit, Jean Grey is exposed to a supernatural force and is forever changed. This causes a rift between Raven and Xavier, with Beast caught in the middle, over Xavier’s willingness to place his student’s in harm’s way to further his agenda while Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) is left to worry about his girlfriend, Jean, who is acting different. Things take a turn as Jean essentially becomes the Dark Phoenix character as we know her leading to tragedy and her fleeing the team. In the process, it’s discovered that Charles had used his own powers to hide traumatic memories of Jean’s when he took her in, and now those barriers are failing causing others on the team to question Xavier’s judgement and Jean to basically go out of control.

Vuk (left) basically plays the role of Mastermind this time around as she attempts to forge a bond with Jean to gain control of the Phoenix.

Complicating things further are the D’Bari, a race of shape-shifting beings made extinct by The Phoenix Force before it ever encountered Jean. Their leader, Vuk, wants to take control of the Phoenix which now rests in Jean, and in order to do so needs to become her ally. Along the way Magneto will be pulled in and Xavier will be forced to reassess what the X-Men stand for. It’s a mess of a plot that both asks us to care about characters we barely know and is also afraid to actually put a lot on the shoulders of these characters. A lot of what happens, particularly with Magneto, feels like the film just padding out its length. Once again, Magneto is presented as being in a state of peace, but then immediately goes back to being a tool of vengeance. It’s ridiculous what the past two films have tried to do with the character and the only silver lining is that Michael Fassbender continues to be terrific in the role. The presence of the D’Bari is essentially taking the place of the Hellfire Club from the comic, and not the Shi’ar, as Vuk tries to coerce Jean into being an ally in order to take control of the Phoenix Force. The film isn’t really interested in explaining this cosmic entity; does it just function like a power amplifier or is it in control? It’s basically just there to give Vuk a motivation and a reason to exist, albeit a flimsy one. The film would have functioned in the same fashion if Vuk just wanted to use Jean like a weapon, as Magneto had done in The Last Stand, and the Phoenix entity was just something that existed inside her character.

I love Fassbender’s Magneto, but he did not need to be in this picture.

Dragging the film further down into the mire are the special effects and action pieces. The effects are not bad, just not interesting. It’s a lot of characters just putting their hands up and CG taking over to add in some flames or lightning. The only interesting moment involves a subway car crashing up through a street, but it’s also a head-scratching moment as the character responsible didn’t really need to do that and it just looks like the film trying to show off. There’s no moment that made me say “Wow” and there’s no signature fight scene either. The final battle is one of the film’s most underwhelming moments. The costumes at least look okay. Beast still looks kind of dumb, but a lot of that has to do with the character’s design and not the makeup effects being utilized. This one, like the previous film, does draw attention to how the franchise loves blue characters as we have the blue Beast, Nightcrawler, and Mystique making up half of the X-Men. The franchise is finally confident to give the team a comic-inspired uniform, but still not willing to give other characters a cool, fun, look. Jean, as Dark Phoenix, just wears street clothes throughout this one and Magneto apparently lost his threads between films.

Dark Phoenix is not a good film and a whimper for the franchise. Technically, the final X-Men adjacent film is last year’s The New Mutants, another film fraught with delays and reshoots that ultimately did not pan out. It’s a shame that a cartoon in the early 90s is still the best depiction of a classic comic story like The Dark Phoenix Saga and I wonder if the repeated failures will cause Disney to bypass it when X-Men finally enters the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s a shame, because it’s really not a hard story to adapt, it’s just one that needs time. It’s not a one-movie deal, it has to be cultivated across films and, most importantly, they need to be films that actually respect the characters. Marvel has proven it can create a team and have the audience care about it, and I don’t mean The Avengers. That was obviously a different animal where most of the characters got stand-alone films first, but Guardians of the Galaxy did not go that route and found a way to make us love the characters on that team. I do suspect that when it comes time to onboard the X-Men that we’ll meet someone like Xavier in a different film before being properly introduced to the full team. And it’s possible we’ll meet other characters prior to that as well. It wouldn’t be hard to slip Storm into whatever comes next for the Black Panther and Wolverine can fit in almost anywhere. That’s a whole other subject though. For now, the X-Men film franchise that began in 2000 is over. It had its ups and downs, but it’s also a big reason why we have the superhero genre today. It was immensely important and I’m glad it exists even if it has many flaws. It’s unfortunate it didn’t get a better send-off, but I think of Days of Future Past as the true bookend and that film is great. And if not, well Logan is possibly the best superhero movie ever and also would be a fine end. Dark Phoenix just happened to be the movie that came last.


Blackacidevil is Coming to Vinyl

The preferred medium for music has changed quite a bit in my lifetime. When I was born in the 80s, the vinyl LP was still king, but 8-tracks were still tolerated for their portability and cassette tapes were taking hold. It wouldn’t be long until the compact disc, or CD, started to take over. Portable like a cassette, but with crystal clear audio even surpassing vinyl, made the CD very desirable. It was also really cheap to manufacture, though actual players were quite expensive at the onset (as is the case with most new technology). A CD player in your home stereo was a status symbol that quickly became ordinary, while players in the car or as part of a PC tower would remain expensive and uncommon into the 1990s. Other formats would attempt to overthrow the CD, but nothing took hold. What finally knocked the CD off of the mountain is what would eventually crush the DVD and Blu Ray: digital. People realized they liked the convenience of just downloading music. Audio compression techniques were perfected throughout the 90s and into the 2000s to the point where only the snobbiest self-proclaimed audiophiles could claim to tell the difference. Once massive sections of CDs at record stores dwindled and some multi-media stores have abandoned them all together.

With the era of physical media essentially over nostalgia has been allowed to take hold. And one of the main benefactors has been the old school vinyl LP. Listening to a record on vinyl is a different experience from that of a CD or digital one. There’s an imperfection and variance to the audio experience as variations in the player’s needle or something as mundane as a little dust on the record itself can alter the experience. It’s also an active experience as the listener has to physically flip the record over after 20 minutes to a half hour or even change the disc all together if the album is a long one. The package has to be physically bigger to accommodate the medium’s size which affords ample opportunity for oversized artwork, liner notes, and pictures. Cheaper records are released in little more than a slipcase for the record, while most feature a gatefold design that opens to reveal a more dramatic image. The medium is popular enough that most new albums are released on CD and vinyl today. The pressing numbers are far lower than what they were 10 or 20 years ago, but there’s enough demand out there that bands and labels see a benefit to producing them.

Back in 1996, that was a rarity. Vinyl was all but dead and most new releases ignored it. For the band Danzig, it was an era of new beginnings. The band’s founder and namesake, Glenn Danzig, had served out his recording obligations to American Recordings, the first major label he had worked for. The first four Danzig albums, plus one EP, had done well, though not exceptionally so. The band wasn’t that far removed though from it’s first of two top 100 hits, “Mother,” so there was some appetite for the band’s services. Hollywood Records came calling and offered Glenn Danzig what was reported as a 9 figure deal to join the label. Danzig took the money and promptly replaced every member of the band that had played on the most recent record and produced the band’s fifth studio album Blackacidevil.

The record bombed. Danzig ditched the heavy metal crooner persona he had refined at American in favor of an electronic/industrial mix. The vocals were often buried under a thick layer of distortion and traditional instruments were sometimes left out all together. Alice in Chains axeman Jerry Cantrell contributed to a few tracks, and the album did have its moments with the fuzzy blues number “Come to Silver” and the morose album closer “Ashes,” but it’s hardly a controversial statement to refer to Blackacidevil as Danzig’s worst album to date. To complicate matters further, when some parent groups found out that Hollywood Records had signed the “satanic” Danzig to its label there was some public outcry. This was a problem for the label’s parent company, The Walt Disney Company, and the controversy combined with the album’s poor performance caused them to cut bait. Danzig was again a free agent, but a wealthier one, and he even got to retain full distribution rights to the album.

It’s taken 25 years, but Danzig V is coming to vinyl.

Because of the timing of the album’s release and poor commercial performance, Blackacidevil never saw release beyond CD and cassette. The album would be reissued a couple of times as a website exclusive and as an enhanced version through E-Magine music in 2000. The enhanced version featured new artwork by the late Martin Emond as well as three additional tracks, none of which did much to elevate the poor original release. Ever since, the album has been mostly ignored by Danzig. The songs are never played live any longer and the band even ignored it for the chronological 20th anniversary setlist that featured songs from every release except Blackacidevil. There seems to be little enthusiasm for the record from both the band and the music community. The album still has its share of defenders amongst the diehard fanbase, but even those defenses have become more muffled over the years. As the years have gone by, Blackacidevil has never shaken off its status as the black sheep of the Danzig catalog. Driving that point home even further is the fact that the album is the only Danzig release to not be released on vinyl. All of the American Recordings releases received a vinyl release, though some were exclusive to certain regions of the world. Even the post Blackacidevil albums received sporadic vinyl editions. The follow-up album, Satan’s Child, was released in Europe in small numbers and it’s follow-up received a curious one-off release as well that was apparently licensed by the band, but not overseen. After that, vinyl started making its comeback so Circle of Snakes, Deth Red Sabaoth, and even the covers records received vinyl editions. And in the case of the most recent, they received numerous special editions of varying colored vinyl and picture discs.

Even though Blackacidevil is not an album I much care for, it has been a hole in my Danzig vinyl collection for some time. I am, by no means, a completist, but I have at least one vinyl edition of every Danzig release. The only ones I’ve passed on were some of the singles and the Glenn Danzig release Black Aria II, quite possible the worst thing he’s ever put his name on (well, until the movies). I even used to have a dedicated room for my collecting, before I had kids, in which I had my Danzig vinyl collection arranged on the wall in special LP frames. It always bothered me that Blackacidevil was not represented, but now that era is coming to a close.

I am happy to report that the band selected the superior artwork of the reissue for this release.

It was years ago that Glenn Danzig indicated he was looking to re-release some of his work on vinyl. Blackacidevil was mentioned along with his first solo release, Who Killed Marilyn?, but nothing came of it. Then pretty much out of no where, solicitations for a Blackacidevil vinyl release started appearing online. They started at smaller places on the web, but soon even Danzig’s current label Cleopatra Records put the record up for sale. It’s to be released in October and the album will have two pressings: black and silver colored vinyl. The jacket features the updated Martin Emond artwork from the reissue while the track list features just the original ten from the Hollywood release. It looks to be a gatefold release and even though it’s referred to as a “deluxe” reissue I don’t see anything new attached to it. Some places are also selling a CD reissue as well.

If you have read my review of the album then you already know that it isn’t something I recommend. This is a release for the diehard fans that either do actually like the album or are like me and just see this as a missing piece to their collection. With the amount of editions Cleopatra pressed of the more recent Danzig Sings Elvis I guess I shouldn’t be surprised they’d give this album a look. It gives me some hope that maybe more reissues are on the way. I don’t have that much interest in rebuying albums I already have on vinyl, but with Blackacidevil getting a release that just leaves one, last, grail item in the Danzig catalog: Final Descent. Yes, the fourth and final Samhain release is the only one from that band to not see release on vinyl. It was a hastily thrown together effort as it came out after the band had been dissolved and turned into Danzig, so it was only released on CD and tape. The entirety of the Samhain catalog is long overdue for a re-release of some kind and is far more worthy than Blackacidevil. Hopefully that’s something being actively discussed. As for Blackacidevil, I have no intention of doing a review of just the vinyl when I have it in my possession. I ordered a silver copy since I’ll likely never actually listen to it. It’ll come in, I’ll look it over, and file it away in my Danzig record collection where it likely will go untouched for years, but at least the catalog will now feel complete.


NECA Turtles in Time Baxter Stockman

“Big Apple, 3 AM”

When NECA finally received access to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles license to release product at retail, the company decided to focus on three pillars: cartoon, movie, video game. The cartoon product, being the most sought after, was exclusively sold at Target stores in the United States. The movie line, probably nearly as desirable as the cartoon, but not as deep, was to be sold exclusively at GameStop and has since been moved to Walmart. The third pillar, and probably the least desirable, was the video game brand. Those figures were to be sold across various comic and specialty shops. Basically, anyone who sells collector-grade action figures can place an order for these. Which, incidentally, made it possible for a retailer like GameStop to at one point sell both movie and game figures based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

The design of the original cabinet was so bizarre. This odd Baxter fits right in that.

The video game line was always going to be the lease desirable because it’s the most gimmicky. All of the figures feature a pixelized deco to create the illusion that they came out of a video game. Only, this sort of thing is basically impossible to properly replicate since pixels, by their nature, are arranged in a very strict fashion and any three-dimensional object that can bend and move in the third dimension is going to break those rules. It also was a line designed primarily for repaints and re-releases. The turtles themselves had been originally released as a comic con exclusive already along with Shredder and the Foot. They were based on the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game, but NECA’s line for retail was to be based on Turtles in Time. Still, the turtles didn’t change enough from one game to the next to warrant new sculpting, so instead the pixel deco was modified slightly and each figure came bundled with a surf/hover board based on the bonus level Sewer Surfin’. As for the rest, well most could just be repaints of the cartoon line or re-releases with slight modification. Shredder, for example, had his shoulder pauldrons adjusted while Slash received a new head to differentiate him from his toon counterpart. And since these were priced under the usual NECA Ultimates price point, they tended to just come with a few extra hands and a weapon or two.

It seemed like that was all the line would be. NECA also expressed interest in winding it down in favor of a new line based on the original Mirage Studios source material, even though there were still a few boss characters missing. NECA didn’t want the line to just fizzle out though, so it decided to do a couple of special releases. One is a two-pack of Bebop and Rocksteady which is due any day now, while the other was the line’s first Ultimates release: Baxter Stockman.

The video game version of the character always struck me as a great deal more creepy than the cartoon one.

Baxter, like many characters from the game and this line, have a cartoon counterpart. NECA released Baxter alongside Splinter in early 2021 so NECA double-dipping with a game repaint was not a surprise. The only thing was, it didn’t make a ton of sense. Baxter in the cartoon is a diminutive, mutant, fly. He’s a pip-squeak. In the video game though he’s pretty beefy. Maybe because he’s a boss Konami felt he needed some presence because he’s as big as the turtles, if not a little bigger. He also looks just a little different. His head is a bit more grotesque and he has this one, ugly, tooth that makes him look like an old man. NECA could have just faked it and did Baxter up in a different color scheme and called it a day, but most probably would have called them out on it.

Two different interpretations of the same character. I do love how that toon one turned out.

Rather than make Baxter a lesser release, NECA did the opposite. They upped the price to an Ultimates tier which gave the company the freedom to do a new sculpt. Now, some of his parts are probably sourced from other, non-Baxter, figures, but some is also unique. He also got his own, unique, packaging in the Ultimates styled box with the fifth panel for product shots and artwork (and the front of the box is basically NECA’s interpretation of Baxter in the same style as the turtles were presented on the original arcade cabinet). It also meant more accessories! Baxter comes with the usual assortment of extra hands, but he also has two guns, a flight stand, and an effects piece with a stand of its own! It’s quite the package, and it’s nice seeing NECA sink a little extra love into the video game line.

Thank goodness his union kept their dental plan.

Baxter stands at around six and a quarter inches, making him nearly two inches taller than his cartoon version. He has shaggy, red-orange hair, and bulbous pink eyes and a hideous grin. He has a purple sweater vest and red bowtie to go along with some tattered, white, dress sleeves and blue pants. It’s tough to get a good look at a sprite in a 16-bit video game, but this looks pretty consistent with the arcade game. His flesh is a fuchsia or hot pink which also includes those extra arms on his back. The wings are just lightly sculpted and feature a powdery, pink finish, that are ever so slightly transparent, but functionally not. The pixel paint job seems less intense than some of the other figures released. It’s mostly on the front of his vest and sides of his pants while the gray shading on his sleeves is given a boxy edge. They really didn’t attempt anything on the head, save for the diamond pupils in his eyes, nor is there any on his wings or extra appendages. I think it looks fine and I prefer the pixel effect to be underplayed as opposed to overplayed, and the paint application in general is quite clean. In terms of parts sharing with the cartoon Baxter, I can’t see any. I thought they might have the same pincer arms, but those are different as well. The hands, feet, arms, torso, even the bowtie are all different. He probably shares legs and arms with Vernon from the toon line, and whatever is under the sweater vest as well, but this guy is largely unique.

He’s trying to look tough, but he really could use some more meat on his bones.

All of the ingredients are there for Baxter to be a visual splendor, but I do think he has one obvious flaw. He’s just not chunky enough. The character model in the game was about as tall as the turtles, but noticeably thicker. This Baxter has the height, but he’s pretty thin. I’m sure some of this perception is magnified by the fact that he’s kind of hunched over in the game and squat. Even if I try to scrunch him up though the effect still isn’t achieved. Is it a deal-breaker? Well, almost. I really waffled on this release for a bit as I liked it, but just didn’t think it was a terrific likeness of the video game art. I really only gave in because of availability and my own desire to just get a new toy. Plus, even with the likeness issue, it looked like a fun toy because of all of the stuff. Anybody interested in this figure will just have to decide for themselves if the likeness is good enough or not. I think NECA brings it on themselves here since a lot of their toon figures look like they stepped right out of the television so that’s a standard we’ve come to expect for their TMNT figures, whether they’re based on a cartoon, movie, or video game.

Baxter, I told you not to try to swallow a fistful of sugar cubes.

In the game, Baxter attacks from the air and land so such a character needs to be able to achieve a variety of poses and this Baxter is more than up to the task. He’s pretty loaded when it comes to articulation. His head sits on a ball-peg and has some solid functionality there made even better by the fact that his head sits on a rather large neck with a hinge at the base. This does help him achieve that stooped look he has in the game when on his feet, and if in the air, he’s able to look down at his target just fine. At the shoulders, he has the usual ball-hinges and they have a terrific tolerance for moving around and out to the side. For this guy, NECA used their slightly unusual double-elbows that the cartoon Baxter had. When these elbows are used on a sleeveless character like the movie Casey Jones they look really bizarre, but on a character in a dress shirt like Baxter they look fine. He can bend well past 90 and the arms swivel above the elbow as well. And since you can point that hinge wherever you need it, Baxter can basically bend almost as well as a character with a butterfly joint at the shoulder. He can reach across his chest, achieve two-handed, gun holding positions, or even choke himself! At the wrists, he can rotate and hinge, but all of his hands have in-out, horizontal, hinges which is unfortunate as vertical ones are better for handguns. He has some articulation under his shirt, but it’s not particularly functional as the shirt doesn’t feature a cut anywhere. He can crunch forward slightly, but mostly his waist is available to swivel. At the hips he has ball-joints underneath one of those soft, “diaper,” pieces. I’m happy to report that the diaper appears structurally sound with no cracking or flaking present on mine, though the hips are too loose for my liking. He does have a slight thigh twist there and the standard double-knees. On the rear of the figure, his wings and pincher limbs are the same as cartoon Baxter. They swivel and hinge where they meet the body, but there’s no “elbow” or pinching articulation which is kind of a bummer. Lastly, he has a hinged jaw which I always love on NECA’s figures. They just add so much personality without hindering the sculpt and with Baxter the same is true.

He didn’t like my mocking his toughness earlier, so now he’s got a gun.
Make that two guns.

Baxter’s articulation is pretty impressive. The pincher limbs lacking a little more is basically a nitpick. My only real criticism rests with the loose hips. I’m able to get Baxter to stand, but sometimes the legs kick out to the side and he tumbles over. It’s less an issue with this figure than it was with the frogs because he’s made for a flight stand, but he should still be able to stand on his own without fear of falling. He can definitely achieve basically any pose from the game, be it standing, hovering, or even his damage pose. Beyond that, he can achieve any sort of flying pose you could want. He has no problems lifting his head and looking straight-ahead when flying parallel with the ground. And since virtually none of his joints came stuck and his joints are all cast in the proper colored plastic, he’s really a joy to mess around with. I said the likeness gave me pause, but I’m happy to say my assumption that this guy would be fun was definitely the correct one to make.

Sorry Leo, you’re the sacrificial lamb today.
This is fun, but damn, does it require a lot of space. The surface of my deep freezer is definitely not a permanent solution.

And Baxter is made fun because he has a nice assortment of accessories. In terms of optional hands, he has three sets: fists, open, and trigger/gripping hands. For weapons, he has two guns: a submachine gun, and a revolver. These are taken from the game as the boss fight begins with Baxter wielding the machine gun and then he loses it and switches to the revolver-styled weapon. Of course, that one doesn’t fire bullets, but a gigantic hand thing. When flying, it comes out like a yellow, goopy, slap while on the ground it would form into a fist. NECA provided this hand effect weapon, though it doesn’t match the game. Rather than use a slap or fist, they went with a grabby hand as they likely felt that would work better with the turtle figures. I do wish they had included a fist part to swap as the hand can swivel and probably separate there, but I’m mostly fine with this artistic license the company took. It pegs in rather snugly to either gun, so if you want the machinegun to fire the hand it can. The guns and hand have the same pixel deco as the figure and look fine. NECA also did what they should have done with the toon Baxter and tossed in a flight stand. It’s similar to the one they sell at retail and it’s functional. It’s not my favorite flight stand, but it works. This one has an added hinge which make it better than the retail version so maybe they plan on replacing it with this new model. There’s also a second stand for the hand effect since it’s pretty hefty. It just clips onto the “body” of the effect and helps to keep it suspended in the air. It works for straight-on poses and for angled, flying, poses. The only thing that sucks is the hand is so heavy it doesn’t work great when it’s actually clipped onto a turtle. That makes it even heavier so you have to account for that somehow in how the turtle is positioned, but it’s also so high off the surface that it makes it hard to do that. You almost need a third stand for the victim. It can be finagled, and the accessory is still fun and welcomed, but it can get frustrating trying to achieve the “perfect” pose.

The added functionality to the stand plus Baxter’s excellent head/neck articulation means he can achieve a variety of flying poses.

The Turtles in Time Baxter Stockman is a figure that looks great, even though it doesn’t perfectly match the source material, that’s also a lot of fun to pose. NECA put the effort into this release to make sure it came with everything it needed and the results speak for themselves. I was very close to passing on this one, but I’m glad I changed my mind. Now, my only regret is not having the actual video game turtles to pose with him. I should have them eventually, but for now I basically have a collection of gaming villains ganging up on one electrified turtle. I don’t know which turtle that is, but it sure sucks to be him. As for Baxter, the only other downside is trying to decide how to pose him. I like the two-handed weapon pose, but the hand effect is too fun not to use. On the other hand, pun intended, utilizing that attachment means dedicating some serious shelf space to this one figure as the hand is about seven inches long, not including the gun it has to peg into. These are good problems to have though and I’m very happy with my purchase. Baxter Stockman ended up being a worthy first video game Ultimates release for TMNT and now he’s got me hoping that he won’t be the last!

That poor, poor, turtle.

S.H.Figuarts Piccolo: The Proud Namekian

A real proud one.

When the S.H.Figuarts line was launched years ago and Dragon Ball Z was at the forefront, it wasn’t Goku who got to be the first figure out of the gate. Nope, it was Piccolo. That figure caught my attention when it was announced even though I had not purchased a Dragon Ball figure in quite some time. I came close, but ultimately never did pull the trigger. The line originally adhered very close to the original Dragon Ball manga so Piccolo sported a light purple gi with yellow, puffy, things (whatever that portion of Namekian anatomy is), and a red sash at the waist. An event exclusive version would follow that depicted an anime color scheme and by all accounts it seemed like most people really liked this figure.

Piccolo looks like a fun guy…

Of course, time being what it is, Bandai has had numerous opportunities to improve upon that original figure. The mechanics of the average SHF release have been altered to create more articulation and better sculpting. As a result, the figures released more recently tend to look quite a bit better than the original ones, even though when those first ones dropped few could imagine a DBZ figure looking any better. Many of the original figures have received updates, but it took awhile for old Piccolo to finally get his. Released towards the end of 2020 though was Piccolo: The Proud Namekian. This figure is a complete do-over with basically nothing retained from the original figure. For longtime collectors of this line, this figure was overdue and just judging it based off of promotional pictures seems to indicate it’s a superior product, but how much better is it really? Well, time to find out!

I don’t think he really wants to come out.

Piccolo comes in the standard SHF window box, but he comes a bit different from what some may be used to. Piccolo has a lot of stuff on him right out of the box. I suppose it’s not surprising to see him with his shoulder pads and turban/helmet thing, but I was a little surprised to see that he has the crossed-arms pose in the box. That look is probably the signature Piccolo look so it’s not that surprising that they would go with that pose, it’s just surprising because usually that crossed-arm piece is an included accessory and not the default pose. Instead, Piccolo’s arms are just kind of chilling right there beside him since the crossed-arms pose is one piece.

Let’s cast this stuff aside for a minute.

Anyway, I’m going to start off discussing Piccolo without all of that stuff. He stands around 6.5″ which puts him on the taller side, but he’s probably not as big as he could have been. His size does kind of vary at times in the anime and the character literally can grow to any size, though that’s a seldom used power kept in his back pocket. Out of the box, he has a big, missing, chunk in his back and that’s because his cape is going to peg into there as well as some other pieces. When not wearing the cape, he has a filler piece that’s made to look like his purple gi and it plugs right in. Mine isn’t quite flush on the right side and I wonder if that’s intentional to make it easier to remove? Either way, it looks good to my eyes and it’s on the figure’s back so it’s not something I’m terribly concerned about.

Bandai included a plug to hide all of the ports on the figure’s back, which is expected of a $60 action figure.
I’ve had this Piccolo animation cel on my wall for 20 years so I’m very accustomed to his face. This scene takes place right after Piccolo’s fusion with Nail on Planet Namek.

Piccolo’s default expression is a stoic one. It looks okay, but something about the face seems a touch off to me and I’m not sure what it is. I think his eyes maybe too small and there’s too much “face” below them. The angle of the jaw is probably off too as it should come in tighter towards the center of his neck. I do not like that they painted his mouth red since he does not and has never had red lips so that choice is odd to me. He has his antennae though and they can be pulled out and if you really wanted to you could reposition them. Do be careful though as I once dropped an antennae from my King Piccolo figure and it was a pain to find in my very shallow carpet. I can’t imagine how hard it would have been had my carpet had more volume. Piccolo is depicted in his anime color scheme so purple gi, a very saturated green flesh tone, pink musculature or whatever we’re calling those, with red trim and a blue sash. He’s the “proud Namekian” as we’re calling him so I guess that makes this figure a late Frieza saga version or perhaps a Cell saga version of the character. Prior to that, he was a straight-up villain who wanted to avenge his “father” by killing Goku and then take over the world. He gradually turned to the side of good, thanks to his bond with Goku’s son, Gohan, and by the time he arrives on Namek to confront Frieza and see his home world for the first time he’s very much a good guy. Piccolo doesn’t really change much visually throughout the course of the show, so it’s not that important. In Dragon Ball, he had slightly different anatomy that included pink kneecaps, but otherwise he’s been pretty consistent ignoring the whole height thing I mentioned. Which is good, because this guy can fit in wherever you need him to. If you want him fighting Frieza that’s no problem or maybe you want to put him up against Android 17? That should work too.

This is a figure that definitely benefits from some effects parts.
Obviously, this is the more appropriate charging pose for Piccolo.

From a sculpting perspective, the figure is pretty solid. The gi he wears is sort of nothing new as a lot of characters wear something similar. And in the case of Piccolo, he looks like a scaled down version of King Piccolo and even a lot of the hand options are the same. He has a decent amount of paint since the red and pink portions of his body needed to be painted and it’s all quite clean. His gi looks to largely be unpainted though, likely because it’s a very dark color to begin with. I do wish it had more of a matte appearance because it’s quite shiny. That sheen does help to accentuate the folds, but it doesn’t help to create the illusion of realism. The only other critique of the overall sculpt and paint I have is that his upper body looks a touch undersized. Piccolo is a pretty beefy dude, or alien, whatever, and I feel like his shoulders could be a little broader and his chest a bit more pronounced. I’m guessing, they had to find a happy medium that worked with both the shoulder pads and without since it’s not as apparent when he has those on. I still think he looks good, but if I could improve something that would be it.

I much prefer this face to the more stoic one.
This figure is very stand-friendly.

Of course, if I was unimpressed with the basic, combat, look of Piccolo I could switch to his default look which includes the shoulder pads and cape. In order to put them on (or take them off) you simply pop the head off of the figure and slide the shoulder pads over it. There’s an opening on the back for the cape to peg into and the peg rotates so you can position the cape however you see fit. You can technically use whatever portrait you want with the cape, but Bandai included two heads that work with the turban: a stoic one and a yelling one. The expressions are both duplicated without the turban piece so I dislike the stoic one here, but the yelling one looks great. It just doesn’t work as well with this look since Piccolo usually ditches his weighted clothing when fighting, but he does engage in some fisticuffs with this on here and there. It’s a good look though and if I liked that stoic expression more I’d have a hard time not displaying the figure this way, but I think I’ll go in a different route ultimately.

If I liked this portrait this would be a hard pose to resist.
Though if you want that cape flowing out behind the figure you’re going to need a lot of shelf space.

Piccolo comes with plenty of things, though there’s at least one thing absent. For starters, he has five heads: stoic, stoic with turban, yelling, yelling with turban, and a teeth-gritting looking to the side expression. The heads intended for the turban don’t have a skull-top, but a chunk of plastic with a key on it so the turban can only go on one way. The other three heads have a full top and antennae. The yelling and teeth-gritting feature added veins and both look quite nice. The open mouth on both yelling heads are fully sculpted and the paint is pristine. For as much as I dislike the stoic expression, I love the other two. Piccolo also has the crossed-arms piece mentioned earlier. To use, you disconnect the arms just below the should and plug that piece in. It’s a bit tricky, but it can be done if you make good use of the butterfly joints. Just be careful about putting pressure on the shoulder piece because it has a cap that kind of just floats on it which can slide down and pop off on you. For hands, Piccolo has the usual assortment: fists, style pose, open palms, and a Special Beam Canon right hand. He also has an arm stump that clips on the left shoulder and features some sculpted, purple, blood dripping off of it. This is great if you have a Raditz figure and want to recreate that scene, though we sadly don’t have a barefoot Goku to go with it. Lastly, there are two plugs for the rear of the figure intended to be used with a Tamashii Nations stand (not included). It adds a port for the stand to plug into under the cape, and the larger of the two plugs is intended to help the cape stay up. The best application for this is so Piccolo can achieve his floating, meditative, pose. I do wish they had included an eyes closed portrait to really sell this, but oh well. The only big, missing, item is, of course, a blast effect. This guy is crying out for a Special Beam Canon effect piece and I really wish it could have been included. Seriously, if it means another 5 or 10 bucks added to the MSRP then just do it, Bandai!

I love that they included an arm stump!
This looks pretty bad ass, but it would be so much better with an actual effects piece.

Piccolo has plenty of stuff, but what good would it all be if he can’t be positioned well with it? Worry not, for he’s about as articulated as anything in this line. The head is on a ball peg with another joint at the base of the neck, and since Piccolo is bald, he has no restrictions in looking around. The shoulders are quite impressive as he has a butterfly joint, ball-hinge, and another hinge that allows the arms to drop down. This is to better accommodate the shoulder pads. The butterfly joint can swing out extremely far, which I believe is to make it easier to get the arms-crossed attachment on and less for actual posing, because it would look ridiculous to pose him like that. He swivels just past the shoulder at those ports where his arms come off and has the usual double-jointed elbow and the spacer piece looks quite lovely. The wrists are ball-jointed and the red trim helps hide them without hindering the range. In the diaphragm, you have a ball-hinge so he can rotate and pivot, but also crunch forward and back. There is some gapping if you go too far, and as usual, you want to be mindful of the parts rubbing against each other. At the waist he can twist and pivot and at the hips he can kick forward and back about as far as you need him to and swivel at the thighs. The knees are double-jointed and look okay when going past 90 degrees and the ankles are ball-jointed as well. They aren’t the best, though it could be due to the shape of the character’s shoes, but I don’t have problems standing him. He has a toe hinge as well, but it’s not particularly useful. Lastly, the cape is articulated so the ends can slide out for a more dramatic pose. It can also pivot up and down and you could turn the peg at an angle if you wished. It’s kind of funky because it’s in 3 pieces, but I think it works better than a wired, cloth, cape for this aesthetic. The superior option would probably have been to just do two capes, one just hanging and the other blowing, but maybe this was the more affordable option.

I brought in one of the effects pieces from my Yellow Power Ranger figure and it works okay.

Piccolo has all of the parts and articulation to really achieve the bulk of his signature poses and looks from the show. He can bring his hands together for his Cell saga energy blast, and his range of motion on his arm is perfect for the Special Beam Canon charging and blasting pose. The open hands work as a Masenko attack or if Piccolo wants to steal Tien’s Solar Flare he can do that as well. In terms of just posing, I like the style posed “claw” hands and the fists. The grimacing expression really adds a lot of personality to the figure so he can look angry or desperate with a touch of worry too. If the box included the stand and a blast effect this would be the total package as far as I’m concerned. One thing I also like about the figure, is you can use the “claw” attachment on the stands to support the figure if you want to, but I actually prefer to just peg into the figure either via those included adapters that work with the cape, or with the port on his back for the actual cape. He’s a very dynamic figure, which is what most want and expect from this line.

We have to do the father-son picture!
A time paradox!

Bandai’s 2.0 approach to Piccolo is a very good attempt. He’s definitely an improvement over the original, which is over 10 years old at this point, and does a good enough job of capturing the character’s likeness from the anime in certain poses. I do wish his default expression looked better and I feel like the character could have been bulked up a touch in the shoulder area. Also, the shiny-ness of the pants is a bummer. And there’s the lack of a blast effect of some kind, but that’s a criticism for the entire line as so few figures come with that. Even so, this figure has a lot of display options at his disposal which is great for collectors like me who enjoy changing things up every so often. I’m going with a wounded, Special Beam Canon, charging pose for now, but who knows what Piccolo will be doing 6 weeks from now? If you’ve been holding out for a better Piccolo from this line, this will probably get the job done for you, even with the obvious room for improvement.


NECA TMNT “Shred, Mondo, Shred!” Deluxe Mondo Gecko

You gotta be pretty confident to call yourself Mondo.

When we took a look at NECA’s Muckman from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon line of action figures, I mentioned how Muckman was supposed to be released in a two-pack with Mondo Gecko. That obviously didn’t happen and it’s because the figures just got too expensive for the two-pack format. Rather than release a 60 dollar or more two-pack, NECA split them up to be a pair of deluxe releases. Muckman was on the larger side and required entirely unique tooling to create, Mondo Gecko though is more average for the line in terms of size and he probably shares at least a few parts with other figures. And yet, when both figures were released Muckman came with the MSRP of $35 while Mondo is up at $40. What gives? Well, NECA decided to make this one a little different, and I’ll tell you how.

More awesome box art from NECA.

Mondo Gecko was one of the more popular ancillary characters associated with TMNT when I was a kid. He was created for the Archie Comics series The Mighty Mutanimals, but most kids knew the character from the Playmates Toys action figure. That one came with a skateboard and a bunch of stickers and he was just very much a product of his time. A skateboarding, party, gecko? Hell yeah, kids loved that shit! He was a natural companion character for the original party dude, Michelangelo, and since so many kids loved Mikey it’s hardly a surprise they enjoyed Mondo Gecko too. It would take a little while for the character to show up in the cartoon, and when he did he actually started off as a bad guy. He’d flip by the end of his debut episode, and he was one of the few characters who really didn’t change much in going from toy to toon. He basically just lost a lot of the little details like the scaled texture to his skin, blue ridges around the eyes, and even his braces. The toon also dropped the skull from his shirt either because it would be hard to animate consistently or maybe they thought it was too scary. The only thing I wish the cartoon had been able to keep was the lone roller skate the figure had on the end of his tail.

Hey, it’s Mondo, but who is the little guy in his bathrobe?

Mondo Gecko comes in the usual deluxe packaging. He gets the smaller box treatment like the Ultimate Foot Soldier and, like all of the other releases, the package is adorned with f.h.e. inspired artwork by Dan Elson. The figure itself is about 5 and 3/4″ tall putting him on par with the turtles. I haven’t watched the episode he first appears in recently, but I remember him being just a little taller than Michelangelo so this checks out (if my memory is correct). His tail is not attached in the box so some assembly is required. It’s a snug fit, but I got it on without having to resort to heating up the ball or the tail. His attire matches the cartoon well as he lacks the skull on his chest, but has the skull kneepad and spiked elbow pads. He has the overbite the cartoon depicted and his face is in a bit of a smile. That smile is accentuated when you open his jaw, which is a really nice touch. The slits in his eyes are striking and I like that they sculpted a new torso for him rather than try to get away with an overlay since they went that route with his tattered, yellow, shirt. He has the two-tone cel-shading paint job as well with a light green on the front of the figure and a darker one on the rear. Perhaps most impressive are Mondo’s sneakers. NECA sculpted the laces and everything and the paint application is quite clean. That’s not easy to pull off since there are three colors on the shoe alone.

Red, half-closed, eyes seem to indicate this guy could have come with one other accessory.

It’s interesting the shoes turned out so well, since my one contention with this figure from a presentation aspect is the paint. NECA’s application of the paint is remarkably clean for what is a fairly busy figure, but the shortcuts the company took (likely to save money) are what hurt it most. And it’s a problem we’ve seen before that apparently got cleaned up, only to resurface with Mondo. And that is NECA choosing to paint some of the joints rather than sculpt them in the proper base color. Much of the figure is sculpted in a light green that’s close to the skin-tone featured on the front of the figure. NECA even had the thighs and biceps peg into the upper thigh and shoulder and cast those pieces in the proper color, purple and yellow, respectively. Where they took a shortcut is with the hands, and in particular, the right hand. Mondo wears a red glove on one hand, and rather than mold-inject that hand in red, they kept the green plastic and tried to paint over it. This creates an ugly situation as once the hinge in that wrist is moved even once, the red paint flakes off leaving an unsightly green piece. They painted the fingertips green and yellow (for the claws) anyway, why not cast the part in the red? Maybe there was an issue in getting the paint to properly cover the red, though my guess is it’s just a cost issue. It’s one, small, piece that needs to be in red and rather than switch out the plastic they just had the factory roll with it. It’s unfortunate, because this figure looks really good and it deserved better, but I’m forced to basically ignore the articulation in that hand because I don’t want a random blob of green to show.

Mondo’s pride and joy.
This is probably how I look on a skateboard.

That brings us into the articulation. Mondo is pretty standard for the line and is quite familiar when compared with the punk frogs we’ve already taken a look at. For starters, he has that hinged jaw which adds a lot of personality to the figure. Seriously, a hinged jaw does wonders for pretty much any figure it makes sense for. His head is on a ball-joint and there’s also a ball-joint at the base of the neck which is entirely hidden by the shirt. As a result, his head has a terrific range of motion with the only hindrance being his ponytail which prevents him from looking up. At the shoulders, we have standard ball-hinges and he can raise his arms up just fine and rotate all around. At the biceps, the arm just pegs into the sleeve affording swivel articulation. It can be popped out rather easily too, which I consider a plus since I don’t fear anything breaking. At the elbow is a single hinge and swivel and he can’t bend past 90 degrees. I’m guessing they didn’t want to do a double-hinge since he has elbow pads like the turtles, though they also bypassed that with the frogs so who knows? There’s no pin so at least it looks nice. At the wrist he can swivel and he has those hinges we already talked about. I would avoid engaging them with the gloved hand. In the torso, he has a ball joint in the diaphragm under his shirt so he can rotate and pivot and crunch forward and back a little which is great for a skateboarder. At the waist he can swivel, and the hips feature the new style ball joints and are much tighter than the frogs, which is welcomed. The thighs swivel where the shorts connect and he has double-hinged knees. The plastic is on the softer side and bending his knees isn’t as “creamy” as I’d like them to be. At the ankles, there are hinge joints, but the shape of his shoes really limits how far they can go. If he has a rocker, I can’t tell, because again the shoes prevent his feet from really going anywhere. Since they look great, I’m not really disappointed by that, but your mileage may vary. Lastly, the tail connects via a ball-peg and it can move a bit, but like the Triceratons and Leatherhead, it’s range isn’t impressive.

Now that’s more like it!
Let’s shred!

Mondo’s articulation allows him to do some pretty cool things. He is a skateboarder, so his articulation should reflect that and if there’s anything missing I would say a true ball-joint at the waist allowing for more ab crunch motion might have been the way to go. Otherwise, I think he can do enough and I’ve certainly seen plenty of images online that support that. Obviously, if he’s going to do some kick flips and grinding he needs a board, and NECA included his oversized, motorized, skateboard. It’s nearly 5 inches long not including the tail pipes and features some flames painted on the surface. There’s one peg placed on the edge of the board and it seems NECA took care to not put it on the flame where it would need to be painted. Both of Mondo’s feet have peg holes, though I think the peg works best when used with his right foot. A second peg towards the front of the board would have been welcomed, but I think the company was trying to preserve the aesthetic of the board as much as possible and didn’t want a peg in a high visibility area. Since most are likely to display Mondo on his board, I don’t think it would have been a big deal to include a second peg, but it still works fine as-is. The wheels are actual wheels so the board can roll and the paint-job is well done so it’s good to see NECA nailed the look of Mondo’s signature accessory. About the only thing I wish NECA had been able to include or done with the board was a display stand like what the Turtles in Time figures came with. That would just make it a lot easier to display the figure in a more dramatic pose. Instead, you’ll have to get creative (and his tail can be helpful in that regard to prop him up) or provide your own stand.

He does have a gun, if you think he needs one.
“Cool armband, dude!”

As for the rest, Mondo comes with one extra set of hands. They’re gripping hands, to go along with the open hands he comes packaged with, and they’re here to work with his accessories. NECA included the rounded, blue, rifle we’ve seen with the Foot. I think he did wield a gun in the show, though I don’t recall the specifics of it. Regardless, I probably won’t display him with a gun so I’m not particularly bothered by the reuse. Mondo also comes with a loot sack and a timebomb. The timebomb is a bunch of bricks and six pieces of dynamite and looks pretty cool. The time on it is “09157” and if that’s a reference to something I haven’t figured it out yet. Mondo also comes with the compliance cuff from the Dirk Savage episode. It slides onto the wrist and looks kind of neat so I’ll probably use it in my display, even though wearing it means Mondo is being mind-controlled. There’s also a little green gecko representing Mondo before he was mutated. The paint looks good and it’s kind of fun to have another little creature to add to the rest like the frogs, gerbil Mike, and Pigeon Pete.

Kerma is pretty simple, but he gets the job done.
He’s rather fond of the gecko.

The big accessory though, literally and figuratiely, is Kerma. Kerma is an alien turtle from the Planet of the Turtleoids who appeared a few times in the show. He has no connection to Mondo, but to dress-up this release and really make it feel like a deluxe one he was inserted into the box. It makes sense to see Kerma released this way as he’s a little guy who really doesn’t require much articulation. He stands at approximately 3 and 1/4 inches and his sculpt is quite nice, though his sash is just painted on. He has a big smile on his face which is suitable for the rather good-natured character. His head is on a ball-peg so he can rotate and look down. Unfortunately, he can’t really look up which feels like something a short character would need to do. At the arms he has ball hinges and the wrists rotate. That’s it, since he’s a robed figure and a turtle at that. I wish they had snuck a ball into the base of his neck to allow him to look up, but otherwise the shortcuts don’t bother me all that much. He has peg holes in his feet should you want him to skateboard and he stands well on his own. Kerma is not a super-important character, but this is about the best way to release him which is to make him a glorified accessory. And assuming he’s the reason for the extra five bucks tacked onto the MSRP then I’m fine with that. Five bucks for a Kerma feels right.

Another banner release for NECA as this line just keeps chugging along.

NECA’s deluxe Mondo Gecko is yet another release in this line that feels like a homerun, or close to it. NECA is so good at nailing the aesthetics of the figures in this line that it’s almost become boring. It’s hard to blow the customer away when the line is so consistently good. That’s obviously a nice problem to have though, and while I have one major nitpick with the paint on the gloved hand, I’m still largely satisfied with how the figure turned out. I’m not going to pass on a toon Mondo, and while I didn’t need Kerma, I’m not disappointed in having him either. I’ll find a home for him in my display, while finding one for Mondo is going to be tricky because I’m running out of room! As usual, this figure is exclusive to Target in the US, though I got him from NECA’s online store as he was made available last month in limited quantities. The quantities that made it to Target seem plentiful, so he’s definitely one of the easiest releases to find, so hopefully anyone who wants him is able to get him.


S.H.Figuarts Nappa – Event Exclusive Color Edition

Here comes Nappa!

When it comes to my S.H.Figuarts collection, I’ve been able to largely keep to just Dragon Ball. And by Dragon Ball, I mean the original anime and manga that centered on a young boy named Goku. Even though that’s my favorite edition of the venerable series, it doesn’t mean my favorite is the one shared by millions across the globe. Most fans prefer Dragon Ball Z to any other iteration of the anime (the manga just kept the name Dragon Ball until Dragon Ball Super became a thing) so there is ton more merchandise for those fans than there is for me.

Now, just because I have a preference, does not mean I dislike Dragon Ball Z. Like many American viewers, I saw DBZ way before I ever saw Dragon Ball. I saw it briefly when it was on a broadcast network in my area really early in the morning, but I became a fan when Cartoon Network started airing it. The popularity of the show led the network to center a whole block of action cartoons, most of which were anime, around it and Toonami was born. During those early days, only the first 56 episodes or so were dubbed in English (it’s confusing because there was enough material cut that the English dub had a smaller episode count for awhile), and since the show had failed to catch on initially, there were no plans to dub more. Those same episodes then aired over and over so we American fans came to know those characters and arcs rather well. And one of the early villains of the show was the Saiyan warrior: Nappa.

I hope you like yellow and black.

Nappa arrived with Vegeta following Raditz’s defeat with the idea being to get vengeance for his fallen comrade. Even though he viewed Raditz as weak and pathetic, there was enough Saiyan pride in the grunt to want to seek revenge. His comrade and superior, Vegeta, had other ideas though. He cared nothing for Raditz and only wished to find the Dragon Balls so he could wish for eternal life. Unfortunately for Nappa, Vegeta’s lack of affection for Raditz extended to him as well, and when Goku delivered a devastating blow to the warrior that left his back snapped in two, Vegeta decided to put the beast down rather than help him rehabilitate.

Yeah, I know, it’s the wrong Vegeta.

As a result, Nappa’s presence on the show was fairly brief. He shows up, beats up the lesser fighters, and then gets to be the sacrificial lamb to Goku in a bid to demonstrate how far the warrior has progressed in his training. Still, I always thought he was a really effective bad guy. A remorseless killing machine who just loves to fight. His design is simple in that he’s just a massive piece of man-beef with a bald head and moustache. He wears the giant Saiyan armor that was still rather new to viewers at the time, but has shown up in a myriad of places since, and just really looks the part of a guy you wouldn’t want to mess with. So many villains in the show are intentionally drawn small and unimposing as series creator Akira Toriyama seemed to enjoy toying with expectations. Nappa was different, though also kind of the same since the much smaller Vegeta was considerably stronger than him.

I love that scouter look.

A few years ago, a version of Nappa was released in the Bandai/Tamashii Nations S.H.Figuarts lineup that was really tempting. A comic book store near me had one on display in a glass cabinet, but I never could bring myself to bite on it. He even got marked down eventually, a paltry 10%, but a discount nonetheless, and I still passed. That version of the character had more of a manga appearance. His armor was basically black and brown, but he still looked cool. In the anime, his coloring was slightly different which happened from time to time. His shoulder pads were more of a yellow and the black portions had a blue hue to them. That was my Nappa, and when Bandai unveiled a version of the character that matched that appearance I finally gave in.

“Hands off the tail, Namek!”

During the virtual San Diego Comic Con in July, Bandai put what would have been its exclusives on its Premium Bandai webstore. The whole thing was a shit show, and getting from one screen to the next was incredibly tiring as the website was just overrun by collectors looking to buy one of the five Dragon Ball exclusives. It took me over an hour, but I did get an order in for Nappa. I had to wait over a month for delivery though, which funny enough, makes Nappa the first SDCC exclusive I have received in 2021. Either because the global shipping crisis delayed release, or because manufacturers expected they wouldn’t need to have product on hand for a physical con, most of the exclusives ended up being pre-orders. My NECA purchase might arrive in October, or it might arrive in December and my Mondo purchase is dated January. My guess is the reason for the delay is actually a combination of both reasons spelled out, but ultimately, it’s a case of “it is what it is.” You want this stuff? Cool, you got it, but you’re going to have to wait.

These chop hands really draw attention to how massive his hands are.

Nappa arrived in the usual SHF window box only this one features a black and yellow motif to accentuate that it’s an event exclusive. My event exclusive Kid Goku was packaged similarly, though I never did post a review of that figure since he’s the same as the other Kid Goku, just with a blue gi instead of orange. Nappa is a chunky boy. He’s not the tallest SHF figure I own, but he’s probably the heaviest. He stands just a tad shy of 7″ and really fills out the package he comes bundled in. He’s a great figure to hold as he looks and feels like a collector grade action figure. The plastic is firm and each, individual, piece has a lightness to it, but the sum of its parts results in a nice heft for this guy. All of the musculature is well sculpted and the anatomy and design of such really echoes the source material well. As is the case for most of the figures in this line, there’s not a ton of paint, but what’s there is clean. Nappa actually commands more paint than usual as his gloves and boots feature some gray piping with mustard braids around the wrists and ankles. The mustard yellow of the abdomen, shoulder pads, and skirt pieces are all painted and there’s even a slight wash on his muscles. The painted portion of his upper chest area matches the sculpted flesh color of the neck well. The only paint application that looks a little odd to me is the moustache on his smirking head because it doesn’t follow the crease of his smile on the right side. I don’t think it’s supposed to though, it’s just one of those things that looks odd. I’d have to closely inspect the source material to see if I’m wrong, but it only looks odd when the figure is placed right in front of your face. Otherwise, I have no complaints about the aesthetics of this guy.

He’s a bit of a ham for the camera.

Where the SHF line rises above most is in its ability to wed these impressive sculpts with a ton of articulation. Nappa has a whole bunch at his disposal and it’s all of the stuff you would expect. He has a ball joint at the head plus another at the base of the neck so he can look all over the place including up and down. At the shoulders, he has a ball joint plus a butterfly joint. Because of the bulky armor, he can’t bring his arms out and across his chest as well as some figures. The shoulder pads are on hinges so they can be moved out of the way, but the bicep hits the edge of his pec. There’s a biceps swivel and double elbows, but his arms are so thick that he can’t bend past 90 degrees. On the plus side, none of the plastic joiner pieces are over-exposed to accommodate a truly wide range of motion so his arms look pretty nice in whatever position you place them in. His hands are attached via ball pegs, and even though they’re recessed in those gauntlets he’s wearing, he can still move them around pretty well. In the abdomen, he has a ball-joint that I don’t think is hinged. At least, mine won’t go up. He can bend back okay, but not forward very well and you definitely have to be mindful of the upper chest area rubbing on his abs and ruining the paint. At the waist, he has a very small ball-peg that basically just affords swivel rotation. There’s a little tilt there, but nothing game-changing. At the hips, he can kick forward and back about as far as you would ever need him to. There’s a thigh twist and double-jointed knees that go just a tiny bit past 90. At the ankle I believe we have a ball-joint. It’s nice and tight, which is what a big figure like this needs, but doesn’t provide a huge range of motion. There’s also a toe hinge, but it’s not very good and is kind of ugly because the joint is too far forward.

I couldn’t really get him into a kneeling pose to sell this one better.

Nappa moves reasonably well. Obviously, there’s no getting around that armor he wears. It’s big and bulky. The hinges on the various flaps help to some degree, but there’s only so much they can do. While I wish he could reach out in front of himself better than he can, I wouldn’t want to put any cuts in the armor to facilitate that so I’m happy with the choices Bandai made. It helps that Nappa doesn’t really have a signature energy blast like a Kamehameha or Special Beam Canon that he needs to mimic. He’s more of a brawler, and if Bandai ever did want to do a more articulated version of him they could also do a battle damaged one that doesn’t have the armor. As I mentioned in the prior paragraph, the lesser articulation means his joints mostly look really good. His elbows and knees look pretty great whether bent or out straight and there’s not a lot of gapping issues on him. The only area, besides the useless toe hinge, that I think looks a little unsightly is the neck. He’s always going to have a small gap there and since his neck is bare there’s no way to hide anything. The trade-off for the neck articulation is one I’d make though. He is an action figure, after all, not a statue.

Time to fly!

There’s a lot of plastic in Nappa, so it’s probably not surprising to see his accessory count is on the smaller end. Nappa comes with four, distinct, facial portraits. He comes with a smirking face, a yelling face where he’s looking straight-ahead, a yelling face where he’s looking down and to the left (or like he’s trying to look behind himself because there’s a guy grabbing onto him) and a smirking face with scouter. The scouter is non-removable so you only get one display option if you wish to use it. I always think of him as having the scouter on so that’s my preferred look, but I like the others as well. The head where he’s trying to look off to the side is definitely present so you can recreate the scene where Chaoz blows himself up why clinging to Nappa’s back. It’s even illustrated on the back of the box. I don’t have that figure though.

The base of the stand looks pretty cool, it’s just that Nappa isn’t the best figure for such a stand.

In addition to the alternate heads, Nappa also comes with 3 sets of hands. He has fists in the box, but also has grabbing hands and a set of hands that are in a “chop” position. I’m assuming he does some chops in the anime, though I really can’t recall specifics (maybe when he’s smashing up the jets) and the product shots on the box are of no help as none feature them. He also has a seventh hand which has two fingers extended. It functions like a cool, style, pose sort of thing and he may have done an attack that utilized such a gesture, or I could be mistaken. I think it’s present because that’s how he makes holes in the ground to plant the Saibamen. Of the sets, I definitely prefer the grabby hands, but all of them feel like they have use and I’ll likely switch them up, though I don’t know that I’ll ever display him sans scouter. That’s it though for accessories. As usual, there’s no blast effect which would have been nice. A big, mouth, blast would have been pretty fun and unique. I think the standard version might have come with a small one? Or the shop I used to see him at just happened to display him with such. That blast effect wasn’t the best, but I’d still take it over nothing.

Goku, on the other hand, works just fine. The third stand (not pictured) uses Whis’ symbol for the base.

That’s not all I have to talk about though. For SDCC, Bandai had four figures available plus a fifth set which was a box of action stands. They’re personalized to coincide with the figures they did and I grabbed a set. I think it was 40 bucks, but it got you 6 stands, 2 each of the following design: Goku, Whis, and a Saiyan Space Pod. I grabbed it because I really did need more stands and I thought they looked pretty slick. Unfortunately, when it comes to Nappa it doesn’t work too well because he is just so thick. The stand is designed to grab the figure around the waist and has some added crotch support, because even action figures need crotch support. The clasp really can’t get around Nappa’s waist, but he can at least be position on the crotch piece. You will likely need to tighten the screws in the stand as far as they’ll go to accommodate his bulk or else it will just topple. I like that the pack came with two of each style though since anyone who has the previously release Saiyan Saga Vegeta will likely want to use one with him. I do not have that figure, though if he ever gets a re-release I’ll probably grab one now. I was able to finagle a flying pose for Nappa with the stand, though I don’t think I’d trust it on a shelf. That means it’s more like a base for Nappa, and having the space pod as a base is kind of cool in its own way, but it would have been nice if it had been specially engineered to work better with the bulky Nappa.

This figure has some shortcomings, but ultimately it nails what it needed to the most and that’s the look. This looks like Nappa from Dragon Ball Z and he looks fantastic. It would have been awesome if they had found a way to make him move a little better, (and at least one of the product shots on the back of the box must be a render because he can’t wipe his mouth with the back of his hand) or stuck in a cool effects part, but he can definitely can hit all of the important poses for the character. Really, the biggest negative about him is now I want more figures that display well with him. A Saiyan Saga Vegeta is the most appropriate, but it did cause me to look at the recently released Kid Gohan, but I don’t think I need him. I considered Kaioken Goku, but he squared off with the unarmored Nappa so that doesn’t feel necessary. I did grab one figure, and I’ll tell you about him soon enough, and I also pre-ordered the new Krillin so Nappa should have a few guys to play with in due time. This is a guy that enjoys being violent, so I definitely need to feed him.

This dude looks good and he knows it. He’s not quite as tall as King Piccolo, but definitely chunkier.

This action figure is an event exclusive from Premium Bandai. Other retailers did buy some stock, but they tack on a sizable surcharge. Even with that surcharge, it looks like most have sold out so if you want him you may have to go to the secondary market. Some people are probably looking to flip him, and Bandai did open a pre-order window since their website was so terrible so some people (and possibly retailers) will get him in Q1 2022 so if you don’t like the prices right now you can wait and see if they improve next year. Bluefin Brands has also been hosting a pop-up shop that will be selling the con exclusives. They’ll probably only hit major cities like LA and New York, but maybe you have a buddy who can get to one for you or something. If you prefer the older version, maybe the release of the more anime-accurate Nappa has knocked the price down on that guy a bit. I’m pretty happy with him, even if my Saiyan Saga collection is rather light, and I don’t think any DBZ collection of S.H.Figuarts should be without a Nappa.


NECA TMNT “Muck Everlasting” Deluxe Muckman and Joe Eyeball

Here comes Muckman!

There was a bit of confusion in the collector space when NECA unveiled the fourth figure in its deluxe line of action figures based on the 87 cartoon series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Muckman was the company’s chosen character and some immediately scoffed at the presentation. The green, lumpy, orange-clad mutant didn’t look “good” to them. It would have to be pointed out, numerous times, that this was Muckman from the classic cartoon series who appeared in only one episode, the 1991 “Muckman Messes Up.” In that episode, garbage collectors Garson Grunge and Joe Gunkee are exposed to mutagen via Bebop and Rocksteady causing them to mutate into the duo of Muckman and Joe Eyeball. Considering it was just one episode, it’s easy to see how some could forget over the ensuing 30 years, especially when as kids they were exposed to the original Playmates toy version of the duo. That figure was far more gross and detailed. When the character was brought to animation, there was just no way to preserve that on a TV budget so the character was simplified. He was still pretty grotesque, just less defined.

I have a love/hate relationship with these f.h.e. inspired boxes. I love the execution, I hate that I can’t bring myself to throw them away.

And NECA’s version of the character is TV specific, and like almost every figure from this line, the character looks like he was yanked right off of the screen. All of the details one would expect to be there are present: the banana peel on his head, the clothespin on his nose, flower petal on the shoulder, aerosol can on the ankle, mirror in the stomach, etc. There’s even that weird, gray, blob, on his chest which I have no idea what it’s supposed to be. He’s goopy and gross and looks just like how he’s supposed to.

This is the only slime pic you’re getting out of me.

Muckman getting the deluxe treatment was originally not supposed to happen. He was supposed to be in a 2-pack with Mondo Gecko, but the pricing wasn’t working out for NECA. Both he and Mondo are two characters that require a lot of unique tooling and it’s not the kind that can be reused down the road. Rather than up the price on a two-pack, NECA decided to split them up and make some changes. We’ll talk about how that impacted Mondo when we get to him, but for Muckman it would appear it had little impact. He is in his own unique packaging which seeks to emulate the f.h.e. VHS releases from yesterday, as have all of the deluxe releases in this line, and it looks terrific. He comes with less stuff though in comparison to other deluxe releases. Again, the cost of tooling likely played a role and NECA probably doesn’t plan on reissuing this figure as much as it will someone like Krang which helps offset some of those initial costs. This means Muckman will run you about $35 at retail, which is the higher price point for deluxe figures previously occupied by Krang with Metalhead and the Foot Soldier coming in at $30. With prices skyrocketing over the past year, I’m guessing $35 is going to be the new floor for this kind of release and $40 will be reserved for the higher cost figures (like Mondo and the upcoming Chrome Dome) going forward. It’s an unfortunate reality, but one all toy manufacturers have to deal with and as collectors we can either accept that or accept lesser products that must make sacrifices to keep costs down. I definitely prefer to keep the quality high, so for now, I’m just rolling with it.

Finally, someone who smells worse than Rat King.

Muckman stands just shy of 7 inches. He’s got a slight crouch to his stance so if you straighten him out completely he can probably hit that 7 inch mark or exceed it slightly. This is true to the show as he was larger than the turtles and he definitely looks to fit-in just fine with the rest of the line. He’s painted just like every figure in this line in that he’s got a darker paint job on his backside to simulate cel-shading and it generally looks pretty sharp on this guy. His bright, orange, jumpsuit is in tatters and there’s a ton of linework on him to accentuate each goop and glop on his body. This paintjob is super impressive as there’s a lot going on and I can’t find a touch of paint slop anywhere. This may be the best paintjob the line has seen to date and it’s great to see that level of quality on such a nice sculpt. This dude is one heavy figure and he’s very solid. I’m sure there will be people out there a little irritated at the price of the figure, but I doubt many will say this guy doesn’t feel like a deluxe release.

What’s up, little buddy?

Muckman is a beefy dude, but he still has plenty of articulation. He basically has what you would expect him to. He’s a character without a neck, so his head mainly pivots from side-to-side. He can look up, but not down. At the shoulders we have ball-hinges and his arms can raise out to the side just fine. The tattered edges of his jumpsuit are soft and flexible so you can rotate his arm all the way around if you want to, though I would be mindful of potential paint rub. Past that we have a biceps swivel and double-jointed elbows. The hands can rotate and are hinged for in-out motion. In the abdomen we have a diaphragm joint that is likely a ball joint that allows Muckman to rotate and tilt. There’s a lot going on with the sculpt in that area, so you do need to be mindful of that so you don’t mess up the paint. He can also swivel at the waist below that. The legs are the new model hips and, unlike my frogs, is plenty tight so he has no trouble standing. There’s a thigh twist and double-jointed knees below that and each, goopy, ankle has a hinge and a rocker. Yes, even that left foot with the manhole cover base can rock side-to-side. On my figure, the only joints that were tight out of the box were the knees. I’ve heated them up once and got them to budge a bit, but they’re still not perfect. I could probably heat them again to correct this, but I’m not sure I need to as I can’t see myself doing anything elaborate with his lower half.

Does this count as a third expression?

Muckman pretty much nails the presentation side of things. The sculpt is excellent and so is the paintjob and he has more than enough articulation to satisfy collectors. Where he may come up a tad short is on the accessory end. Muckman comes with two sets of hands: gripping/trigger hands and open hands. He also has an alternate mouth which just plugs into the figure’s face. One is open and one is closed. He has his garbage can which slides into a slot on his back. The connection is loose, but the bucket will sit there just fine and it can support the weight of his biggest and most appropriate accessory: Joe Eyeball. Don’t try to force the bucket in or look for a click or you’ll risk breaking the tab on it. Just set it and forget it. As for Joe Eyeball, he’s a slight upgrade over the version Playmates released 30 years ago. He’s fully painted in the same cel-shaded style as Muckman. The cartoon version of the character omitted that weird, armpit, eyeball so it’s not on this one either. He does have some articulation though. His head is on a ball joint so he can rotate and tilt and look up and down as well. His top, two, arms are also on ball-hinges so there’s some pose-ability there as well. The two lower tentacles, legs, and tail are non-articulated so don’t try to crank on them. The tentacles are just glued in so they look like they could be articulated, but are not. Same for the eyes. It would have been fun if they were bendy, but then you have to worry about paint cracking and such so I get why they did it this way. He fits in his bucket just fine though and he can also stand on his own if that’s your preference. I like positioning him in the bucket with the bottom tentacles hooked onto the lip of the bucket so he looks like he’s peeking out from behind Muckman.

He has a gun, but he also kind of doesn’t.

The Playmates version of the character came with this big, trash, bazooka-like gun, but in the show Muckman just tossed globs of himself at people. To replicate this, NECA included a cannister of green slime. There’s a radioactive symbol on the canister, which kind of resembles a drum barrel, just on the small side, and it’s sealed with cellophane. The substance, from what I’ve seen, is pretty viscous and actually holds together fairly well unlike the old slime which was thinner and ran all over the place. This Muckman can’t have slime dumped through his head and out of his mouth like that toy, but you can have him hold globs of it in his open hands or fill his bucket up with it. It’s not something I really want to mess around with though, so it’s just going to sit in that bucket and function as a visual accessory, but I suppose it’s cool NECA included it. What I would have preferred instead though, is just some trash globs that could fit in Muckman’s hands made out of a green, semi-transparent, plastic similar to an energy or blast effect that comes with various figures out there. I can accept a low accessory count with a figure that doesn’t really need accessories, but it is definitely something I feel like is missing and I’m actually a little surprised it is. The slime is kind of fun, but also not really something an adult collectible should come with. I guess it was cheaper than the alternative?

It’s almost a shame that the gun, technically, isn’t meant for him because he holds it really well.

Muckman does come with one additional accessory and I wonder if it was added when NECA decided to make him a deluxe release. NECA is pretty good about setting a cost baseline for their figures, and if a figure comes in below that cost, they add stuff to bring it up as opposed to just pocketing the savings. At least that’s the approach brand director Trevor Zammit takes so Muckman comes with the Rockilizer gun. The gun was seen in a completely unrelated episode and was given to General Traag by Krang. The Traag and Granitor two-pack was a high-cost two-pack which didn’t come with a lot of accessories so using Muckman to get a unique weapon into Traag’s hands is pretty cool. I mean, I’d prefer that Muckman just have his globs of goo, but the gun is definitely a welcomed addition. It’s a cool looking design, though it’s potentially brittle since there’s not much holding it together besides a thin, tube, of plastic. That’s not NECA’s fault as it’s just how the design of the gun was made. I suppose they could have cast it in a more flexible plastic, but it at least looks as it should and the paintjob is well done. And to his credit, Muckman can hold it very well with his trigger hand, better than Traag can since he doesn’t have a proper trigger hand. That’s where it will go though in my display with Muckman opting for his open hands instead.

Now Traag, I hope you remembered to say “Thank you,” to Muckman for bringing you your gun.

Muckman was probably not high on the wants list for a lot of people, but I doubt any are going to complain about this guy. He’s somewhat quietly turned out to be one of the best figures in this line so far. He looks just like the TV version, the sculpt is awesome, the paint is great, and he has plenty of functional articulation. And if packaging is your thing well that looks fantastic too! The only negative I could find with him is the lack of molded goop for him to hold in his hands. Otherwise, everything is awesome! The only other negative was having to wait a day shy of four weeks for NECA to ship him and Mondo Gecko my way after having a sale on their website. Both figures were advertised as “in-stock and ready to ship,” but it still took almost a month for him to reach me. I basically paid 15 bucks for the privilege to sit at home and wait, even though I’ve been seeing the figure in plentiful quantities at Target. Hopefully that’s good news though for anyone reading this that has yet to get one. He is a Target exclusive and if there’s demand beyond that NECA will probably make him available as a made-to-order item, but that’s probably a year away if not more so don’t delay. This guy may not seem like an essential character to some from the show, but he’s definitely worthy of being in your display.

This barrel of goop is apparently the only weapon Muckman needs.

Super7 TMNT Ultimates! Rocksteady

Bebop’s got a buddy.

We saved the big boy for last! The lone villain of wave 3 of Super7’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Ultimates! line is the mutant rhino, Rocksteady. He follows in the footsteps of the monstrous Bebop who was released in wave 2 and is the crown jewel of the young line for many collectors so far. Rocksteady follows a similar path as he too has seen an upscaling in his size. Unlike Bebop, who’s original figure was squat and thus should have been taller, Rocksteady was not. His Playmates figure, which this figure is based on, was pretty much straight up and down so had Super7 wanted to make him shorter they had a reason to, but I am glad they decided against doing so.

That can’t be a very comfortable way to travel.

Rocksteady arrives in the purple slipcase cover that all of the villains get to wear. If you really like this package soak it in now, because there is no villain planned for wave 4. Now, I didn’t really talk about the packaging in my reviews of Michelangelo and Metalhead because it’s the same as all of the figures in the Ultimates! line, which is to say it’s quite nice, but a tad excessive. Rocksteady is worth pointing out though because he looks pretty ridiculous, in a good way, in box. And that’s because his head is so massive that he needed to be packaged looking over his should in order to fit in the box. His profile is roughly 3 inches long and it certainly is an eye catcher. When looking at him in box, I was a little concerned that Super7 may have gone overboard with his head, but once I got him out of the box and looking straight ahead I found my concerns were baseless.

His ENT doctor either loves or hates him.
The dermatologist definitely isn’t a fan.

Rocksteady is a big boy. That’s the main takeaway anyone is going to have when handling this guy. He stands at about 8″ tall and certainly commands respect with his impressive stature. The body is basically the exact same as the vintage Rocksteady this figure is based on, only with the details embellished. His skin has a texture to it that adds a bit of realism to this guy. All of the warts and scars are still in place, except now they’re either fully painted or Super7’s black wash they added to the figure really brings them out. His black tank top also has some added texture to it and the camo on his otherwise brown pants is plentiful. Unlike Bebop, he does not feature a tail, but neither did the original figure. He has his helmet, which is non-removable, and still sports the same, stoic, expression as the old toy. The paint on his eyes is nice and glossy giving it a natural sheen that really adds a lifelike quality to this guy. He’s easily the most “alive” of any of the figures in this line so far and it’s a testament to the quality of both the sculpt and paint.

That’s quite a profile.

In terms of articulation, Rocksteady is quite a bit like his mate, Bebop. The head can rotate and pivot a bit and has a decent amount of range looking up, but almost none looking down. Normally, that’s not something that bothers me, but with a figure who towers over the others, it would have been nice to see him able to look down more. At the shoulders, he has ball-hinges that are at a good tolerance. He can lift his arms out to the side and rotate all around. There’s no biceps swivel, but he does have a swivel and single hinge at the elbow to make up for it. Like the other figures in the line, he can’t quite achieve a 90 degree bend at the elbow, but he gets closer than the turtles at least. There’s no articulation in the torso, but he does have a waist twist. The belt is permanently affixed to him so there’s no fear of losing it this time, which is nice. At the legs, we have ball joints that let him kick forward and back a generous amount and he can basically do a split too. There are thigh swivels below it and one arrived stuck on my figure. A quick twist though was all it took to free it up, so crisis averted. At the knee is another swivel and a single hinge that gets him to about 90 degrees. There’s a boot cut below that, and at the ankle there’s only a rocker joint because of the way his boot cuffs are sculpted, so no hinge there.

Well, hello little buddy!
The new model isn’t as proficient a nose-picker as the original.

Rocksteady moves well enough. With Bebop, I felt he really could have used a diaphragm joint, but with Rocksteady the need is less since he has a shirt. They could have attempted to make the shirt an overlay, but that usually negates articulation in that kind of joint anyway. Where Super7 definitely missed an opportunity is at the jaw. A hinged jaw would have really added some personality to this guy. My biggest complaint with Bebop and Rocksteady is that they’re so stoic looking to the point of coming across as passive. Neither looks ready to obliterate a turtle. With Bebop, a hinged jaw would have been harder to do without harming the aesthetic, but with Rocksteady his lower jaw is a separate piece already. It’s just glued on. Why not slip a hinge in there? Plenty of companies have proven at this point that you can do it and hide it extremely well. The seam is already there!

At least he’s got a knife for those hard-to-reach places!

Considering this guy contains a lot of plastic, it would seem Super7 had to pair back the accessories a bit even when compared with Bebop. Rocksteady comes with a pair of gripping hands in the box and he has a second pair of fists. I really miss some kind of style pose hands with this guy and I would have taken those over fists, for sure. In terms of weapons, he has his trusty Retro-Mutagen Gun which is basically a scoped rife of some kind. In what has become an unfortunate trend with this line, there’s virtually no paint on the gun. Super7 gave it a graphite finish, which distinguishes it slightly from the weapon sprue version also included, but it’s still just a big, gray, gun. There isn’t even a dab of blue or white paint on the scope lens, which is unfortunate. Rocksteady also has his knife, which would look huge in the hands of most, but looks a lot smaller in Rocksteady’s hands. It’s bigger than Bebop’s though so it still looks fearsome. The blade is also painted silver, thankfully. His manhole cover shield, unfortunately, did not receive an upscaling. As was the case with Bebop’s trashcan lid, it looks pretty silly in Rocksteady’s hands and it’s a pain to fit into them because it uses the same backing as Bebop’s trashcan. It’s at least bigger than the vintage one, which basically takes up the smaller “disc” inside it, unlike Bebop’s which somehow turned out smaller. Lastly, Rocksteady has a trio of grenades to wield. Much to my surprise, they’re different form the ones that came with Metalhead. These ones have some silver paint on the metallic portions and look a whole lot better as a result. His belt also has a lip on the rear part of it so you can stick the knife in there if you want or clip the grenades in as well. I love weapon storage on figures! This is also good because he doesn’t really hold the grenades that well. You basically have to just kind of position them on the openings of his gripping hands and hope for the best.

You would think that’s Bebop’s shield by looking at this picture, but it’s not.
From the front, the shield looks like the vintage model, but it’s easily the dud of the accessories since it’s too hard to hold and it lacks paint.

It’s a solid assortment for Rocksteady, but the big omission is obviously a second head. Bebop got one, but it was the same sculpt just with a different deco. Rocksteady didn’t need one in that sense, but I still wish he had an alternate portrait like the turtles. I just wish Super7 viewed that as a feature of this line and not one reserved for the turtles alone. It looks like some of the upcoming non-turtles will get that though, like Mondo Gecko and Ray Fillet, but it’s too late for Rocksteady. Again, a hinged jaw would have accomplished the same for me. And I already mentioned my disappointment at the hand allotment. Especially considering he can’t really hold his grenades in a natural manner. Just one, open, hand would have been fine, but oh well.

Bebop’s got his buddy.

Rocksteady ends up being a lot like Bebop, and that makes perfect sense. The issues I had with Bebop are present with Rocksteady, but so are all of the things I liked. Rocksteady relies on his size and impressive sculpt to get attention and he does a great job at that. Where he stumbles is just in how passive he looks in basically any pose. A jaw hinge, style pose hands, or an alternate portrait would have solved that issue while retaining the look of the vintage toy for those who want it. Super7 could have even looked to some vintage versions of Rocksteady that they’ll likely never reproduce to find an alternate portrait like Mutations Rocksteady or the kickboxer Rocksteady. It’s just enough of an issue, for me, to view this as a very good figure that could have been truly special.

It’s shell-shocking time!
It can’t be undersold how big these dudes are.

I am happy with Rocksteady and very happy to pair him with Bebop. They go together like peanut butter and jelly, and even though I was able to pass on Shredder, there was no way I could pass on Rocksteady after getting Bebop. I love his size and I love the paintjob he was given. I do still prefer Bebop to Rocksteady, but that has little to do with how the Rocksteady figure turned out and everything to do with how much fun the design on Bebop is. The red vest, skeleton turtle shoulder pads, high top sneakers – he’s just a product of his era. By comparison, Rocksteady is the no nonsense soldier just hear to blast turtles and maybe get paid. He’s not the dimwit he was in the cartoon, but he’s also not a genius either. He’s just a soldier who wants to pulverize some turtles, and he looks like he could!

Lets bring Baxter in, since I so often leave him out of these group shots.

That is going to do it for me with wave 3 of Super7’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Ultimates! collection. I decided to pass on the fourth figure, April O’Neil, as I never liked the look of the figure she’s based on and I felt no attachment to the Super7 offering as a result. As of right now, the fourth wave for the line is aiming for a December release. They’re scheduled to leave the factory by the end of September and Super7 is asking people to plan for a 60 day transit given the global shipping crisis. Considering they’re going to come in around December, things could get even more backed up given the holiday shopping season will be well underway. Hopefully, the wave reaches us in 2021, but whenever it gets here, I’ll have some thoughts to share on two of the figures: Donatello and Muckman. Until then, the other turtles are just going to have to make do as a trio. At least they have a party robot to keep them company.

It’s a minor miracle my Mutations Rocksteady survived the great purge of 1998. The only other TMNT toys from that era I have are the original ’88 figures and the movie ones.

Super7 TMNT Ultimates! Metalhead

Let’s get this party started!

This post marks number 800 for this blog! Now, when I hit a nice, round, number like that I usually try to find a special topic of some kind, but also one representative of the content on this blog. Well, we certainly look at a lot of toys on this space, and there have definitely been a lot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles posts, and I do consider myself a metalhead so why not do a figure review of Super7’s TMNT Ultimates! Wave 3 Metalhead? Now, I’m taking a bit of a gamble in making such a milestone post a figure review. This thing could suck for all I know, but I’ve handled enough figures from this line that I’m reasonably confident that it won’t. Plus, it’s Metalhead, one of my favorite figures from the original Playmates line and one I wish I had held onto (sorry, no comparison shot).

There’s a lot going on with this sculpt.

When it comes to this line, it’s interesting to see the choices Super7 makes in regards to how faithful they want to be to the vintage toy and what they want to change. With Bebop, we saw they elected to pump him up quite a bit so that he towers over the turtles. Metalhead is a robot turtle, and across other mediums he tends to be on the larger side. Super7 though, saw him as a robotic duplicate of the turtles akin to the fifth turtle, so they decided to make him the same size. He’s not the same sculpt as his body is loaded with tiny, technical, bits, but he is the same height, width, and obeys the same proportions. This puts Metalhead at about six inches which means that, despite this being a 7″ scale line, he’s actually shorter than NECA’s cartoon version of the character by nearly an inch. Obviously, these two are not meant to be exactly the same as they’re the same character from two different sources, but it is an interesting comparison.

I had to bring out the flash for this shell.

Metalhead was one of the more detailed sculpts released by Playmates in the original toy line, and the same is true for this version as well. His entire body is covered with grooves, buttons, vents, wires, and rivets. It’s an impressive mold and it also means Super7 had to use a lot more paint than they usually do. The base color for the figure is gray, so every bit of red, black, yellow, silver, and green is painted on. And a lot of the details are quite familiar to me as I look this guy over, especially the little lightning bolts on the forearms and shins. Those were sculpted on the original toy, but unpainted and it’s nice to see them brought to life here. The head still features the light piping which is to say that his eyes and brain are cast in a red, transparent, plastic and the rest of the head is molded around it. Shine a light into the top of his brain and it should filter through the eyes. If you don’t care for this though, Metalhead’s alternate head is exactly the same, but with that feature removed in favor of red paint. Super7 seems to have taken some small liberties with the figure’s legs as there are now tubes connecting the back of the knee to the thigh. I don’t recall how these looked on the old figure, I’m guessing they were there, but part of the sculpt. Here it looks cool, but is a little concerning when it comes to articulation, but we’ll get to that in due time.

“I will crush you, puny robot!”

Of course, the elephant in the room concerns Metalhead’s torso. The original figure was vac metal, a process by which a layer of reflective, metallic, paint is placed over a hard plastic to create a finish akin to chrome. The vac metal is less a paint, and more like a heavy, duty, coating. The problem is, it only adheres to harder plastics like ABS (most toys are a type of PVC) and it’s prone to chipping as it does not possess any sort of give. Super7 opted not to do the chest or shell in vac metal for these reasons. I think, with a little creativity, they could have made it happen if they had really wanted to. The front of the figure’s “shell” is a separate piece so they could have made that removable and given people a vac metal plate to put over it if they so desired. Instead, they just went with a super, metallic, paint job for the torso that’s a very lustrous gold. I am personally not that into vac metal, so I don’t really care. I think this paint job is pretty flashy and I quite like it. Something about how the light rolls across the rear of the shell is very pleasing. It’s so pleasing that I kind of don’t want to put the backpack on him.

Light piping in action! The other head just has red-painted eyes.

If there’s anything to nitpick about the figure’s appearance, beyond the size (I get it, but I do think of Metalhead as being bigger than the turtles), is mainly in just some of the finer details. So much of the character’s sculpt has been painted and brought to life, but the belt is just three colors and most of that is black. The oil can, funnel, and bolts affixed to the belt are unpainted while the grenades are just green. It would have been cool to see some added embellishment there. There’s also the unsightly holes in this figure, one on the rear and two on the chest. They’re to accommodate his backpack accessory, but when that’s not in use you get the holes. Some plugs would have been cool to fill them, or they could have used magnets to hold the pack on. It’s not the end of the world, and I suspect most will use the pack anyway, but it’s just neat when companies go that extra mile.

Robo-chuks and grenades. You can see how the stuck thigh swivels impact how the left kneed is positioned. It’s irksome.

In terms of articulation, Metalhead is basically the same as his organic allies, though the execution is not. Metalhead has a head that sits on the same ball joint and he can pivot up, down, and to the side. The range isn’t spectacular since he has a sculpted neck with no lower neck articulation, but it works all right. At the shoulders, we have ball hinges, but the shape of the shoulder means he really can’t lift his arms out to the side much. He won’t be serving as a “T” for any cheer squads. The elbows are single-hinged, and like the other turtles, the elbow pad won’t let him achieve a 90 degree bend. The wrists rotate and have horizontal hinges. At the hips, he can pivot a bit, but the shell won’t let him spin all the way around or anything. The legs connect via these small, skinny, pegs and below them should be a thigh swivel, but my figure is totally stuck on both legs. I’ve tried heating it, then freezing, to see if that will get it moving, but to no avail. It really stinks because the left leg is rotated inwards a little so his knee isn’t facing forward. He has a swivel at the knee, but you have to be mindful of those hoses on the back because they link the upper and lower leg which really isn’t a smart design. I wish the thigh cut had been repositioned to just above the yellow knee indicator as there is a natural place for it in the sculpt. The other swivel is just too close to the hip and it’s hard to get any real torque without putting pressure on the peg connecting the hip. Below the knee is the standard ankle rocker which works well.

I do really like his tentacle finger.

Metalhead ends up not being the best articulated figure, but he’d have enough if it just worked better. To make up for it though, he has stuff. Like every figure in this line, Metalhead comes with extra hands. He has gripping hands in the package plus a pair of fists and wide gripping hands. I’m not really sure what the wide hands are needed for, but he has them. He also has another right hand which features a tentacle like extension popping out of his index finger. It’s pretty cool looking and something the original toy did not feature. He also has some mechanical nunchuks that clip into his wrist in place of a hand (like the original figure, which I think was the first figure I ever had with swap-able hands). The actual ‘chuks portion can rotate, but not freely like a propeller so it’s more for positioning. Swapping parts is easy, and if anything too easy as they sometimes pop off when just positioning the figure. He also has his pizza oven backpack, since this guy is a party robot. It snaps into his back and the straps plug into the chest. There’s a mini satellite dish that plugs into the top, or you can use the second nunchuk attachment which makes it function like a helicopter. I think this resulted in someone on staff at Super7 saying they mistook the nunchuk that came with the original Playmates toy for a propeller as a kid and wanted to give anyone else who did the same that option with the new toy. Lastly, we have a pair of grenades that Metalhead can toss at his foes. They look just like the ones molded into his belt, so that’s a nice touch, but I wish they could affix to the belt in some way. Or if the backpack could open, now that would have been cool!

You can see how the backpack causes him to lurch forward to stand.
I guess the primary function of this pack is to supply pizza and soda, but according to the bio it has the features of a jukebox, arcade, and can blast Foot Soldiers. That’s quite a bit better than my backpack.

The accessory assortment is solid, though I wish Super7 took more time in painting them. The vintage line was all uniform, so I get that they want to match it, but they provide an unpainted weapons rack with every figure, Metalhead included. Why not add more paint to the rest? The backpack especially could use a little flair on the rear as could the innards of the nunchuk. The grenades don’t even have silver on the handles or pin. They provide these nice, painted, weapons for the turtles, but it seems Super7 shorts every other figure in the line in this area. There’s also the issue of the backpack being quite heavy. Metalhead’s hips aren’t flimsy like Raph’s, but they’re also not strong. His torso might also weigh more than the other turtles because he’s prone to falling backward. Add the backpack and the problem is exacerbated. This is one you’ll need to keep an eye on and you shouldn’t get too ambitious with the posing. It would be a shame if that shell were to scuff or worse. I’m not sure why they didn’t make the backpack hollow, and therefore lighter, but I have a conundrum where I want to display the figure with it on, but it would be a great deal more stable to go without.

And now he can fly!
“Thanks, dude, I needed a pick-me-up!”

These issues with the figure may seem like a classic case of nitpicking, but they all add up to be more problematic than expected. Getting Metalhead to stand is more challenging then it should be, add the backpack and it really becomes an issue. Then when you take away something like a thigh swivel, you’re forced to rely on the other joints to create a strong base. And when you find yourself constantly tinkering with the figure to get him to stand, you end up grabbing the lower leg and forgetting there are hoses behind it and that’s how you end up with a broken toy. Yup, those hoses I pointed out as a potential problem turned out to be just that. The right leg ended up breaking on me, and not from twisting the lower leg too far, but just by my finger wrapping around the leg in just the right (wrong) way, apparently. It’s a very thin, soft, plastic and it won’t take much to break. I have a feeling in ten years when we’re looking back on this line that Metalhead’s tubes will be akin to the old Playmates Krang and the antenna on top of the head that always broke. I ordered this figure through Big Bad Toy Store so I reached out to them (because Super7 asked me to do that first with my Michelangelo issue) to see about an exchange. The stuck thighs already had me frustrated and contemplating an exchange, and the broken coil became the tipping point.

I can’t believe this design choice made it into the final figure.

Metalhead ended up being a more frustrating experience than I expected. He had become the one I was looking forward to the most from Wave 3 of Super7’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line of Ultimates!, and now he’s my most disappointing. It has not been a great start to this wave as I had the ankle issue with Michelangelo so hopefully the last figure I look at (Rocksteady) won’t be more of the same. This follows really no issues with waves 1 and 2 for me beyond stiff or loose joints, and it’s not causing me to rethink all of the open preorders I have with Super7, but it has taken some of the wind out of my sails.

Hooking the tentacle on a more stable figure has the hidden benefit of helping Metalhead stand.

In the end, maybe Metalhead wasn’t the best choice for my 800th post, but it’s a decision I’ll have to live with. I’ll come back and update this post if I have any success on getting a better Metalhead. Right now, the figure is available in a few places to order, but he won’t last forever since Super7’s model is made-to-order. They’ve relaxed their one and done strategy for this line for both of the first waves, but I wouldn’t count on that going forward. Especially as factory availability remains challenging and shipping from Asia continues to be a problem. I can’t give my full endorsement to this figure as-is, but if you like the look and are okay with the limitations, then you should have enough information to make an informed decision that works for you. I do like the look of this one, and no matter how my interactions with customer service goes, I’m not about to toss him in the trash or anything, but he definitely feels like a “set it and forget it” action figure which is a shame since he has enough stuff that a variety of display options are present. His base just won’t cooperate though, so he gets to be a shiny, golden, idol instead.

Bebop is so big.

UPDATE: I reached out to Big Bad Toy Store, where I bought my Metalhead, about the issues I had with it and they replaced it at no cost to me and without any additional questions. They also let me keep the first one. My new Metalhead arrived a few days later and he’s much better in some ways, and not in others. First of all, all of the joints are free and usable and obviously the wire/hose/coil behind the knee is fine. On the negative side, the hips on the new one seem even more loose than my first one so he’s still no fun to stand. I’m guessing that’s just going to be the reality of this figure where some are tighter than others. There was also some yellow paint slop on the black portion of the knee which was unfortunate. At any rate, he at least looks better because his knee isn’t constantly twisted and I went over the paint slop with a black marker. Because of the performance issues though, I do think Rocksteady is the superior figure in this third wave and I’m still a little disappointed in Metalhead, but I feel better about this one at least. And hats off to Big Bad, I’ll definitely continue to turn to them for my action figure needs.


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