Category Archives: Comics

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – The Last Ronin #5

After lending Tuesday to the gargoyles for one week, the turtles are back on Turtle Tuesday and this time it’s for the latest (and final) issue in the The Last Ronin storyline. The Last Ronin is a concept for the final story of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles dating back to the days of Eastman and Laird. It was decided in 2020, after issue #100 of the modern IDW series, that the time was right to tell this story. Despite being only five issues, it took awhile for the series to finish as multiple episodes were delayed with the final issue being the longest such delay. If it’s done to tell the best story though, then who cares? It’s here, and now I’m ready to talk about it.

The Last Ronin tells the tale of the last of the Ninja Turtles. The first issue introduced this dreary future where New York is controlled by a descendent of Oroku Saki and times are bad. We get to see the last turtle on a suicide mission that’s basically a failure, since the villain isn’t toppled and the turtle isn’t dead! Over the next three issues, the plot advances quite slowly as Ronin (yes, I’m still committed to not spoiling anything) acquires some allies, but we also see lengthy flashbacks detailing how each of the brothers fell and the present came to be. The violence is not gratuitous, so while seeing our beloved childhood heroes actually dying is uncomfortable, it wasn’t exploitive in any way. The flashbacks are over though, and the stage is set for the final confrontation.

From that perspective, issue 5 delivers. We see Ronin go after the big, bad, guy of the series with the intent being to kill him or die trying. There is a B plot to the story as well, so it isn’t just straight action, but it’s not the most compelling of B plots. It’s merely a plot device to keep Ronin isolated from his allies. Otherwise, this is a brisk read as it reads almost like how a video game plays with Ronin dispatching of the fodder with minimal challenge before getting to the boss. Roughly half of the book is reserved for that battle and there is a wrinkle tossed in that Ronin needs to overcome in order to actually inflict damage upon his foe, but otherwise it’s pretty straight-forward.

Ronin being so sick of the guilt and grief associated with his past trauma that he wants to banish his brothers forever is an interesting plot device that could have been expanded upon.

And if that’s all you wanted, you’re probably happy. For me, I found the first issue very intriguing, but every following issue was less interesting. The gravitas of this story demanded something a bit more epic, but we don’t get that. We don’t really get much character development either, only finally getting a glimpse of such at the start of this issue as Ronin tries to banish the “ghosts” of his brothers once and for all. It’s assumed they’re a figment of his imagination, but it was interesting to see how Ronin feels each brother views him. It might be something more interesting for me as someone who has not read the IDW series as I don’t know if it’s a lot of re-tread, but for me, it was the best part of the finale. The ending was very predictable. That’s not necessarily a weakness as many stories have obvious outcomes, but there wasn’t anything special tacked-on to that end to earn it.

What largely remained a strength of the book for all five issues was the artwork within. The Escorza brothers brought it, and not just in a technical sense. I really enjoyed the look of a lot of the characters in this series. The flashback turtles had a neat construction about them that was a bit more modern, but also implied a grizzled lifestyle of battling crime. I love the look of Ronin, and the action in this was easy to follow. The only thing I didn’t care for was the battle armor of the ultimate foe, who looked like the Shredder crossed with a costume from Tron. Eastman gets an art credit as well, though this time it’s not obvious to me which section. It’s possible that credit is just there because some of the variant issues feature a cover by Eastman.

If you were just looking for some action from a cool looking turtle then you are probably quite content with The Last Ronin.

Were my expectations unreasonable? Perhaps. It’s possible they always intended for this to be a very straight-forward tale for how the turtles could end up. There are certainly a lot of similar stories in cinema and television that are much celebrated, but I think all of those do a better job of developing the characters. I’m just left feeling like this could have been one issue, and considering the impact that first issue had, maybe that would have been the way to go? It’s possible I’m in the minority as well. I just wanted this story to elevate itself above other TMNT stories similar to how Logan elevated itself above other X-Men films. It’s certainly not a bad read or anything, it just doesn’t leave a mark on the franchise or the main character. Hopefully for IDW I’m in the minority as the issue ends with a “To be continued…” The story of The Last Ronin is complete after this issue, so I’m left to assume any future stories will center on his allies. Personally, I’m not interested, but others might be.

The Last Ronin #5 is currently on-sale at your local comic book stores. If supplies have already been depleted, rest assured there will likely be a trade paperback collecting all five issues. It also looks like there may be future director’s cut styled issues to come as well. Needless to say, you shouldn’t have to pay 20 bucks or something on the secondary market to experience this issue.


NECA TMNT Mirage Studios Fugitoid

I’m having a hard time coming up with an action figure line that has had retail releases separated by more than a decade. I don’t mean long-running lines of figures like G.I. Joe or Marvel Legends which have been around for decades, I mean a line that was started, ended, then re-started like NECA’s line of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures based on the work of Mirage Studios. That source is the original incarnation of the green machine made famous in the late 80s by a cartoon, video games, toys and movies. The Eastman and Laird turtles were of a different mold: more violent, less polished, and with less color. If you’ve ever been into TMNT then you likely know all of that already as it’s pretty well-covered at this point.

It’s pretty cool to see Kevin Eastman’s art on an action figure box in 2022.

When NECA first got permission to do figures based on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it was via a deal they struck with Peter Laird and Mirage Studios to bring the original turtles from issue #1 to comic book shops. It was in 2008 when those figures hit stores, and they would be followed-up with a black and white variant as well as an April O’Neil. After that, things came to a halt. NECA unveiled a Shredder, but it was cancelled. It’s unclear if the line was ended because the sales weren’t there (NECA’s Randy Falk has indicated in the past that consumers aren’t that interested in pre-toon TMNT) or if Playmates had something to do with it being that they held the master toy license and had really never been challenged on it. Playmates definitely wasn’t happy, and would remain a challenge to getting non-Playmates TMNT toys to retail for awhile longer, but I suppose it doesn’t matter as the line did indeed come to an end.

This paint job is amazing.

Since then, things have obviously become better for NECA where TMNT is concerned. The company has been able to branch out while turtle nostalgia has taken off. Once Laird sold the property to Viacom, it seemed to open the door for non-Playmates action figures, likely because Viacom is big enough to toss its weight around if Playmates starts threatening legal action or something. NECA was able to find a loophole that allowed it to produce TMNT action figures as convention exclusives, and in 2016 the company finally got that Shredder out they had unveiled nearly a decade earlier. And he came with a trio of henchmen too making the Mirage subline feel relatively complete. As things progressed and NECA brought TMNT to retail, there wasn’t room for more Mirage Studios figures, until now.

And unlike some companies, NECA doesn’t cheap out on the paint when it comes to the rear of the figure.

Relaunching the Mirage Studios line in 2022 is Fugitoid, a character arguably made famous by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but who actually came first. Fugitoid is an interesting character when you factor in that the Mirage version of the TMNT are often associated with violence as Fugitoid is a noted pacifist. Not that it stopped NECA from including a small arsenal with their figure. He’s the displaced Professor Honeycutt who after an accident found his mind transferred to the body of his loyal, robot, sidekick. He never made the jump to animation in the original cartoon series, but still received an action figure from Playmates. He would show up in later iterations, and in future toy-lines, but the Mirage original has been waiting on the sidelines (like just about every Mirage version of a classic character).

The articulation on this guy is a bit weird. That’s probably as steep an angle you’re going to get for an “elbow.”
Looks like he’s giving up on pacificism.

Despite all of my talk about Fugitoid being the next figure in a long dead line, he is numbered 1 for this relaunch. While there are likely more fan-favorite characters out there, and there’s certainly a lot of collectors out there that missed out on the previously released figures, I would say Fugitoid is a worthy figure to kick things off. He’s certainly an interesting one and I’m curious how much of a reflection this figure is of what’s to come. From a packaging standpoint, I’m guessing he’s very indicative as he comes in a window box adorned with artwork by co-creator Kevin Eastman. It’s an attractive box, but not so attractive that I am tempted to keep it (the best kind of packaging). There are three editions of the figure released to retail : standard with black font, signature edition with blue font, and signature edition with black font. The standard edition is self-explanatory, while both signature editions come with a little piece of card art signed by Eastman. The black font variant is either an error or was originally planned to be a surprise. Fugitoid is being released via NECA’s Haulathon event which was originally advertised as featuring surprise variants at retail. Perhaps that was nixed in favor of just charging extra as the standard version is $32 while the signature version is $100. Even though the black version of the signature variant looks like the standard version, the UPC is correct if you find it at Target which has probably caused some confusion at the register. I also saw more than one confused collector who received a black version via Target.com and thought they were sent the wrong one. You can see the art card behind Fugitoid in the box, in case you’re confused about which version you may be staring at.

I do not have a specific memory for the pistols, but I know this one comes from the Triceratons.

I, being an opener and not really interested in Kevin Eastman’s signature (no offense, Kev), went with the standard version. Fugitoid is a very unique entry in this line, or any NECA TMNT line, because of his design and construction. First of all, he’s cast in gray plastic and stands around 5.5″, but the deco designed by Geoffrey Trapp and Mike Puzzo aims to recreate the character’s look in the comic. It’s a very aggressive approach, and I have seen some turn up their nose at it, but I for one love it. He looks like he stepped out of a comic book and the shading really matches the unique look of the Mirage books, something natural lighting just can’t reproduce. He looks perfect and while Fugitoid is not my favorite design from the world of TMNT, it wouldn’t be hard to make the argument that his likeness is the best yet from any TMNT line by NECA.

The little guy doesn’t even know what to do with this one.

Where things might change for people is how the figure is constructed and articulated. Fugitoid is basically a head, body, hands, and feet, joined by cables. He reminds me a lot of Blinky from Bucky O’Hare, and like the Blinky figure released by Hasbro in 1991, Fugitoid features bendy wires for his limbs. There’s no elbow or knee articulation, just bendy wire coated in plastic. It looks good, but you’re never going to get the same kind of posing out of this approach as you would plastic joints. Aesthetically though, it’s hard to imagine NECA finding a better solution. Where things are a bit more confusing is in the choice to go with just swivels at the shoulders and hips. NECA probably opted for that approach to preserve the aesthetic as much as possible, or perhaps there were issues with having the wired limb end at a ball hinge. Whatever the reason, it’s disappointing as I think a ball hinge in both spots would have been fine from a visual perspective, and it would have given the figure much better range. At the head you have what is likely a ball joint that works just fine to let the character look up, down, and all around. The feet feel like they have a joint in there as they turn just fine and the hands can rotate. The upper torso can tilt and move forward and back slightly as well. Fugitoid is not going to be very dynamic, but it’s obvious that NECA opted for aesthetics over articulation and it’s hard to disagree with their choices here (excepting the lack of ball joints at the hips and shoulders).

Always remember to secure your turtles.

Fugitoid does come with a lot of stuff, most of which isn’t really for him. He almost feels like an accessory pack as a result. He does have three sets of hands which just plug into the ends of his arms rather easily. He has just three fingers composed of coils that just sort of pop out of the ends of his arms. He has two sets of gripping hands, one tighter than the other, and a set of “open” hands. They’re more of a style pose hand, I guess, but quite suitable for the character. He also comes with four different guns all sourced from the comics: two blue pistols, one Triceraton pistol, and a blue, long, rifle. I don’t know exactly what issue each comes from, but they all look great as they have a similar deco to the figure. If guns aren’t your thing, he also has a set of Triceraton “handcuffs.” It’s a big lump of plastic that the hands are designed to go into. It can fit on Fugitoid, but is likely intended to be worn by a turtle. The other gun is definitely for the turtles as it’s from the Donatello one-shot. It’s a forearm canon that fits over the forearm and it’s really cool. I put it on my Donnie immediately and I don’t plan on taking it off. As for the other guns, I don’t know what I’ll do with them. It feels wrong to have Fugitoid posed with a weapon, but also equally wrong to put a gun in the hands of the turtles. I like the look of all of them, but I don’t know what to do with them.

Best accessory in the set? This one!

NECA’s return to Mirage Studios is a welcomed thing and Fugitoid is a character worthy of getting things restarted. I wish he wasn’t exclusive to Target as the line had been billed as something for comic shops and specialty retail, but I suspect that’s where he’s headed once this Haulathon nonsense is over. He doesn’t seem terribly hard to find as I was able to get mine online, but also came upon sets at physical locations too. I think he looks great and his price-point is on the low end (provided you’re not talking about the signature version) for stand-alone NECA releases these days. Especially considering the tooling for this guy is unlikely to bare fruit elsewhere. The articulation is not great, and while the accessories are plentiful, they’re not all particularly useful. At the same time, what else is there to include for a Fugitoid? He’s not missing anything, so I’m fine with the accessory loadout. And more importantly, I love how the figure is presented. That deco is fantastic and I’m excited to see the line move forward. We’ve seen two of the next three releases: an Utrom body and Renet. The third is probably the one people are most excited for, Casey Jones, who has yet to have a full reveal. And it’s a given that the turtles are coming back too and it sounds like in a new form. Those old figures are great, but would merit updates in 2022. Plus they’ve been bootlegged to hell and back and it’s been rumored that the tools were actually stolen so it’s unclear if NECA could re-release them if they wanted to. My guess is we’ll see the new ones around San Diego Comic Con time. For now, I’m going to enjoy what we have and wonder about what other exciting plans are in-store for this line. It’s great to be a TMNT fan!

The days of this shelf being able to hold all of my Mirage figures may be coming to an end.

Hasbro MMPR x TMNT Shredder

Now you face the morphed Shredder!

We’ve looked at the two-packs from Hasbro’s Mighty Morphin Power Rangers x Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line of action figures based on the comic book crossover, but have we saved the best for last? Coming in on his own is the arch nemesis for the turtles: The Shredder! And since this is a line specializing in combining the two properties, he can’t just be regular old Shredder, he needs to be something more! Now, maybe there was a thought to having Shredder somehow acquire Lord Zed’s staff or even Rita Repulsa’s magic (imagine Shredder in a Rita costume), but rather than do that they just gave him the powers of the former evil Power Ranger, Tommy, and his Dragonzord coin.

Is it just me or does he look huge in the box?

Shredder as the Green Ranger is a design unique to him. There’s obviously elements of both the traditional Power Ranger costume and Shredder’s, and the design is involved enough that he couldn’t be directly lifted from an existing figure. That is likely why this figure did not arrive in a two-pack but as a single carded figure with the MSRP of around $30. He comes in an oversized Lightning Collection box with new art and he looks sort of massive from the outside, though he’s not demonstrably larger than other figures in the line standing right around seven inches. Some of the body here is likely recycled from other figures in the line, or from other Hasbro lines in general, but there is quite a bit that’s new for us to dig into.

There’s a lot of good here, but some not so good.

First off is the head sculpt. Shredder comes with his helmet permanently affixed to his head, which is often the right way to do a proper Shredder. The base look of this Shredder gives me strong 2003 vibes as his face is all black with red pupils and the mouth guard is painted silver. It makes him look pretty bad ass, but also accomplishes the task of merging the helmet with the Green Ranger helmet since having his exposed flesh painted black conforms to there being a visor there. Atop the helmet is the Green Ranger’s dragon theme with the red eyes and ridge in the center. The center diamond is there as well and then it’s rimmed with the silver “tines” customary to Shredder helmets. The sides are silver and they’re staggered in the design resembling blades one after the other. It’s a very striking Shredder design and I think the artists involved did a great job blending it with that of the Green Ranger. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of the factory as the main head and the top of the helmet are separate pieces glued together. The top of the helmet is on crooked and set back too far on my figure and looks terrible. He should look like the box art with the center of the top piece lining up with the center of the mouthguard and the two should nearly touch. It’s not terrible enough for me to attempt an exchange or try to order from somewhere else, but terrible enough to drive me nuts. I’m very tempted to try to pry it off and re-attach it because it really does ruin what is otherwise a solid sculpt.

That mis-aligned helmet is driving me nuts. Even more so than the yellow knees.

Below the head we have the customary Dragon Shield. Shredder’s version of it is a bit weathered looking with sculpted spikes near the shoulders. They’re less pronounced than the comic art, but it’s still cool that Hasbro sculpted a new Dragon Shield. His arms are bare and end with his Shredder gauntlets, only now they’re gold with the actual blades on the back of his hands in silver. His belt is a purple sash and the Power Morpher is off-center, which is a nice touch to differentiate Shredder from the others, and he’s sporting a soft goods, purple, tattered, cape. It would have been cool if it was a wired cape, but it has some personality by virtue of the holes cut into. The only thing, design wise, I’m not crazy about with this figure is below the waist. He has the same gold and silver combo for the greaves on his shins, but the knee portion is a separate piece so there’s visible green in-between the knee and boot. From what I can tell, this isn’t the case in the book either and it’s supposed to be one piece. I’m not sure why Hasbro did it this way as they didn’t have to and it wouldn’t have cost any more money. And they also sculpted the kneepad in gold which creates unsightly gold lumps of plastic above the knee on the joint. The better move would be to simply paint the kneepad, especially since it’s actually the top of the boot, but Hasbro likes to cut paints apps wherever possible.

I always like open hands with Shredder, even going back to the Playmates original.

The boots and misaligned helmet are the only true eyesore to be found on this guy from a design point of view. The straps on his forearm gauntlets aren’t painted, so on the open hands he has “flesh-colored” straps that look kind of dumb, but not as bad as the knees or helmet. Those looking for true comic accuracy will likely be a little disappointed that the blades aren’t more pronounced, but this is a toy intended for a mass market release so some safety measures likely play a role. Aside from that though, the only other issue from a presentation is one also found on the standard Green Ranger and it’s the omission of the white diamonds on the shirt. On the Green Ranger, Hasbro kept the white pieces for the butterfly joint so he had a hint of the side diamonds, but with Shredder they just ignored them all together. This is fairly common with Hasbro and the manner in which they cut costs as they often eliminate painted details. It’s been acceptable for the company when their prices made them perhaps the best bargain in the hobby, but with their prices creeping up into NECA territory it’s becoming a problem. I’ll have more to say on that subject in the not-too-distant-future. Here, it’s relatively minor though I do think a little dash of white on the torso would have done the figure well.

Go ahead, Tommy, try and take back your Dragon coin.

This guy commanding a premium price might have lead you to believe he’d come with a bunch of stuff, but that’s really not the case. He comes with open hands in the box and a set of fist hands. The claws were straight on 3 of the 4 hands I got, with the open right hand being bent in the package. It’s nothing a little hot water can’t remedy though. He also has a pair of effects pieces. I guess they’re an energy effect or something? The claws slide into them and they’re a translucent blue. They actually can poke all the way through as there are slits on both sides so you can adjust the effect as you see fit. You could also have them shooting forward from the blade, but I think they’re intended to be more of a slashing effect and that’s how it’s depicted on the box. They’re fine, though personally I would have gone with more of a lightning look as the flame look Hasbro appears to be going for makes them look like water. One of mine also has some black flakes of plastic within it, which is a bit of a bummer, but honestly only noticeable from up close. That’s it though. No sword, no alternate head, just two sets of hands and two effects parts. It’s not terrible, but not exactly overwhelming either.

Shredder triumphant!

The articulation on Shredder is mostly as expected. If you’ve handled a Lightning Collection Ranger or a Marvel Legend then you should know what to expect. He has a ball hinged-head and probably some articulation at the base of the neck, but if so, it’s useless given the cape and Dragon Shield. He’s able to rotate and look up and down fairly well with basically no tilt due to the size of the helmet. His shoulders are ball-hinges with a butterfly joint. The spiked pauldron is pinned above the actual shoulder so it moves with the butterfly joint and doesn’t really interfere all that much with the range. It’s quite good and the cape and shield help hide any gaps left behind when the butterfly joint is fully extended. The left shoulder on my figure is really tight and hard to rotate, but I don’t feel like I’m going to break it, it just needs more breaking in. He has a biceps swivel and double-jointed elbows that give you about a 90 degree bend. No forearm swivel which stinks because the gauntlets are frozen in place which makes posing a bit annoying at times. The hands peg in, per usual, and can rotate and also feature a horizontal hinge.

There are some out there who wish the green on Shredder was a bit more like the Green Ranger, but I enjoy the muted shade.

In the torso, we have a diaphragm joint that’s pretty floppy. I don’t really like it as a result, but you can swivel there and get Shredder to bend forward and back an acceptable amount. He has an ab crunch below that, but the sash gets in the way so it doesn’t offer a ton. It’s a floating belt, but it’s way too tight. There also appears to be a seem underneath it that might be a waist twist, but I can’t get him to go. At the hips we have the standard ball pegs with thigh cuts below them. He can kick forward to about horizontal, but his cheeks prevent his leg from going back. The knees are double-jointed and work fine, which is good since I already mentioned they’re ugly. He does have a boot cut and at the ankle we have hinges and a rocker. The rocker works fine, though it’s a little loose while the hinges appear to be ratcheted. They’re annoying though because I can’t quite get the feet into a neutral position. The toe seems to always be pointed up a little, or down. I guess it’s not a huge problem as it just makes the most vanilla of posing difficult, but it is odd. I don’t have too much trouble getting him to stand even with the loose rockers. The only hindrance, really, is the floppy upper torso as he tends to bend back after being set down.

I think they scale pretty well. Shredder is taller and leaner, but still pretty damn beefy.

What we have with Shredder is what should be the best figure in this line if not for a few errors. I genuinely like the color palette on this guy as the muted green contrasts well with the bright Turtle Rangers and original Green Ranger. The gold paint and texture of the metallic parts of the armor look awesome, which is why the gold plastic knees really stand out as an eye sore. That torso really could stand to be tightened up though as I don’t like it. I’m more forgiving when it comes to the ankle hinges as I’m sure they had to use that ratcheted design for a reason and a standard one probably would have been too loose. The low accessory count is a bit of a bummer, but he does look great just armed with his claws and, even though it isn’t wired, I think the cape turned out very well. He’s a striking figure, but he is sold at what is a premium price for a Hasbro figure so I do think some of the flaws should not be readily overlooked. At the same time, he looks a million times better than the monsters released in the Lightning Collection so at least he has that going for him.

Group shot!

Shredder is the final figure in this line and is currently still available for preorder at various online stores. Gamestop is stocking this line as well and they can be found both online and in-store while supplies last. I would say normally if a line like this is a success then it will likely get reissued, but I have no idea what kind of arrangement Hasbro made with Viacom when it comes to the TMNT license so it’s possible they’ll be one and done. I wouldn’t wait on it if you’re interested. Given how terrible the helmet turned out on my figure, I would say take a look locally if you can to make sure the one you’re buying looks okay, but I suspect most will have to resort to online orders and hope for the best.


Another Chapter Has Closed on Bucky O’Hare

So long, friends.

It was a little over two weeks ago on February 27th that toy maker Boss Fight Studio made an expected, but still disappointing, announcement that it no longer held the license for Bucky O’Hare. This came after more than a year of no updates on the status of the action figure line so the writing wasn’t just written on the wall, it was smashed into it. The last figure released was Captain Mimi LaFloo, a brand new character as far as toys are concerned, which was back in the fall of 2020.

The end of Boss Fight Studio’s excellent line of action figures based on Bucky O’Hare is, of course, a sad event. And I was certainly disappointed to hear the news, though part of me was also happy the property was no longer in limbo. The sadness is tempered by what we have though. Before Boss Fight came along, Bucky O’Hare was a dead property. There had been no new toys since the early 90s and the cartoon and comic were all long since ended as well. About the only thing even released over the decades was a trade paperback in digest form compiling the original run of comics and some of the Italian run, basically the stuff that aligned with the animated series. Continuity Comics and its owner Neal Adams made attempts at reviving the property via a commissioned CG pilot and a short-lived licensing deal with the now dead Shocker Toys, but no one was interested. No one except Boss Fight Studio.

I don’t know why the line came to an end. Boss Fight Studio is a bit tight-lipped on the developments, but have insisted from the beginning it was not sales related. The “non” updates over the past year all cited Continuity Comics as being really busy at the moment and that was apparently an obstacle. I have no inside information beyond what has been shared by the company and I certainly understand them not wanting to throw shade at the licensor. My totally unfounded guess is that Continuity was hopeful this line might lead to bigger things for Bucky O’Hare, and when that didn’t happen it lost interest. For what it’s worth, Adams expressed great enthusiasm for those initial figures released when asked about them at conventions so I think he, personally, was happy with the end product. Maybe he, and the company as a whole, just expected more of a windfall and when that didn’t happen it no longer made sense to devote any time and energy to a toy line. When Bucky last had a toyline, the going rate for an action figure was a mere 4 dollars so perhaps they thought Boss Fight’s pricing model ($35 per figure) was an issue. We did see Boss Fight show off prototypes for a line of mini figures that never came to be, perhaps that was the company trying to meet Continuity halfway, and when those weren’t pricing out well they just scrapped the whole thing.

Not getting Blinky definitely hurts.

Again, I don’t know anything so it’s all just speculation on my part. I do know that Continuity was hands-on and requested changes or revisions to every figure except Mimi, but I also don’t know if that’s irregular of a licensor. For me sitting here in front of my computer, I see the toy line as being easy money for Continuity. Nobody is getting rich here, but why not let a company like Boss Fight Studio just keep producing whatever it wants and be happy with that? Unless they actually are getting inquiries from other potential partners regarding Bucky O’Hare, it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but, I am an outsider and I don’t know what goes on behind the scenes at Continuity to make this line a reality. If anyone at either organization wants to share more, I’d love to know! Even if it’s off the record (you would be surprised how much off the record info I’ve received on unrelated topics just via having a little blog).

All of that being said, I do think it’s important to focus on what we did get. Boss Fight Studio produced 11 releases, 6 of which are unique sculpts or characters. Those releases are: Bucky (2 variants), Jenny (1 variant), Dead-Eye (1 variant), Toad Storm Trooper (1 variant), Bruiser, and Mimi. It basically shakes out to a handful of good guys and one villainous army builder for them to battle. It’s easy to focus on what’s missing: the rest of the crew (specifically Blinky), Toadborg, the Air Marshall, and the rest of the vintage characters released by Hasbro. And sure, I would have loved to add any of those characters. I really wanted to see what Boss Fight Studio could do with Toadborg and Al Negator and I was really hoping they would find a way to at least get us Blinky. That didn’t happen though, but I’m damn happy to have a fairly robust display even without those characters. I bought every release in the line, including 3 of each version of the Storm Toad, and I love them all. It’s hard to pick a favorite (and if you want my thoughts on them all, head over to the Bucky page), though if I had to I’d probably go with Dead-Eye just because a four-armed duck is pretty awesome.

That is a pretty righteous assortment of figures.

And that’s my main takeaway with this line: I’m happy it exists! These figures are awesome, and without Boss Fight Studio I’d have none. Nobody else wanted to do this, and it was really cool to see the license land with a small toy maker based in my home state of Massachusetts, no less. They did a great job with the figures they produced and it was obvious the company had an affection for the license. All things come to an end and it’s okay to be sad when they do, but it’s more important to be happy it happened at all. A sincere “Thank You” is in order for Boss Fight Studio for doing what no company had done in 25 years and what no company is likely to do anytime soon.


Hasbro MMPR x TMNT April O’Neil and Michelangelo

The end of the road…for now.

We have arrived at the last two-pack in the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers x Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line of action figures from Hasbro and it’s that bodacious dude, Michelangelo, along with the ravishing reporter April O’Neil. There’s not going to be a whole lot to say about these figures at this point as, if you read last week’s review of Leonardo and Donatello, then you know that the turtles in this line are all essentially the same figure. And when it comes to April, she’s basically just a standard Lightning Collection pink ranger with some minor differences.

The two best Starburst flavors.

Michelangelo, like Donatello, has to assume a different preferred color and for him it’s yellow. This isn’t completely foreign to Mikey as the original arcade game had him as yellow instead of orange for some reason, and even the follow-up, Turtles in Time, kept the yellow buttons and joystick (though his character sprite was corrected to feature the orange pads and mask). Mikey is the standard turtle ranger body sharing more similarities with Raph due to both having a belt without a shoulder strap. His weapon slots on the belt are unique to him as is his helmet, which takes the form of the sabretooth tiger from MMPR. Mikey can actually claim to being the best looking ranger in this set since it’s very easy to paint white over yellow. He’s a very a bright yellow and the white paint on his gloves covers up the yellow plastic quite well. Unfortunately, the yellow diamonds on his boots are painted terribly because nothing can be perfect. He also has a red spec under the tiger nose on his helmet that I’ve been trying to scratch away. There’s also still a lack of paint, in particular with the helmet, but that’s par for the course with Hasbro. The lower part of the shell does stick out more with my figure. One could attribute that to Michelangelo’s almost exclusive all pizza diet, but it does look like the tab underneath the gold piece isn’t seated properly and it doesn’t seem to want to go in. It’s a minor imperfection, but an imperfection nonetheless. His articulation is exactly the same as his brothers, so I don’t feel a need to go over it a third time. It’s good though.

Not sure about that effect piece for Mikey.

For April, she is essentially just the pink Power Ranger with one obvious difference: no skirt piece. I don’t know why that was eliminated, but it appears to be consistent with the comic. I don’t mind as the skirt is just a restrictive piece when it comes to articulation and doesn’t really add much to the look of the character. In comparing her with my Lightning Collection Kimberly, I do notice a new helmet design. This one is noticeably taller and not nearly as long when viewing it from the side. I don’t know if this was a running change for the pink ranger figures or if it’s just more accurate to the source material for this comic. I am surprised that Hasbro would re-sculpt it though and I do think it’s more pleasing to look at. Otherwise, her shade of pink is also noticeably brighter. Her torso is still a darker shade of pink than the rest of the figure, but it’s less noticeable here and at least the limbs, diamonds, and the pink portion of the helmet look to be a similar shade of pink. The prior figure was all over the place and my pick for worst in the line, so at least if Hasbro is making me rebuy it, it looks better. The only thing that looks worse is the morpher on the belt as Hasbro omitted the silver paint, as it did for the turtles as well. Her articulation is the same as the previously released yellow and pink ranger so if you want a complete rundown check out that review.

It’s so hard to get April into a good bow pose.

The accessory loadout is also quite familiar here as both figures come with extra hands, an alternate portrait, weapons, and an effect piece. Unlike the last set, we do have some extra stuff which I’ll get to. First though, let’s talk about Mikey who has fists, gripping hands, and open hands. These are the same hands released in the other sets, only Mikey can actually benefit from the wide-fingered sai grip hands as his weapon can fit between the fingers. And his weapon is a mash-up of the power dagger and nunchaku. Basically, he has four daggers instead of two and they’re joined by a chain. The chain is sculpted plastic, which I’m kind of torn on. I like the look of real chain, but that sucks for posing and would look terrible in the combined blaster (not that these look much better). The plastic chain here though is just boring gray with no paint applied to even simulate steel. They’re also not very long so most classic, Mikey, two-handed poses are unachievable. I also wish the chains were bendy to the point that they held their shape for better swinging poses. There’s a purple effects piece that doesn’t look great because it’s hard to come up with a convincing swinging pose. Even the box art just kind of gave up and depicts Mikey just standing there with the piece dangling. It’s a good concept for a weapon, it’s just the execution that’s cheap. The dagger portions of each ‘chuk also key together which looks better on the combined weapon and when inserting them into his holsters. His weapons are the toughest to holster, though rather, getting them in isn’t too hard, but getting them out can be a pain. I feel like I’m going to break them every time so I’ll probably refrain from doing it too much.

Go Team Yellow!
Hasbro at least improved the coloring on the pink ranger body.

As for April, she comes with the weapons one would expect, plus some extra stuff. She has a pair of gripping hands out of the box, and strangely, Hasbro didn’t include Kimberly’s arrow nocking right hand which works much better with the included arrow than the standard gripping hand. She also has a left fist and right open, chop, hand. As for weapons, she has the same as Kimberly including the line’s only blade blaster. It has the white and red deco as opposed to the silver Kimberly’s came with, but is otherwise the same. The bow is now silver instead of white and the included arrow is a hot pink that basically matches her costume as opposed to Kimberly’s gray. She also has the translucent, pink, blast effect arrow that is slightly darker than Kimberly’s. Since this is April, to make her feel more like that character Hasbro included a stick microphone and camcorder. The mic has a white, triangular, box on it, but there’s no graphic for the station April works for so it looks kind of stupid. The camcorder is a shoulder-mounted design and it’s fine. It’s just black, molded, plastic and the only paint is on the lens. I get why she comes with this stuff, but I don’t know if I’ll actually use it. I’d definitely trade the microphone for a proper collapsed blade blaster she could holster, but that’s a criticism I have of the Lightning Collection as a whole.

That’s not an ugly portrait, but it doesn’t look like April.
This portrait, on the other hand…

Like the other figures, these two come with an unmasked portrait. Michelangelo’s is a wild, open-mouthed, expression that’s befitting of the character, but could use more paint. Hasbro painted his tongue and teeth, but left the rest of his inner mouth green which is a bit odd. Maybe it’s the expression, but this one looks especially goofy on the turtle body. As for April, it looks like Hasbro recycled the Evangeline Lily head from its MCU line for her and stuck a different hair sculpt on it. It doesn’t look bad, but it also doesn’t look anything like the character from the comic so I suppose that does make it kind of bad. It at least looks better on April’s body given she’s better proportioned, but I doubt I’ll use it since I plan to keep the turtles with their helmets on.

Mikey’s daggers peg into each other to at least keep them tidy on here (or when holstered), but they still look goofy.

As promised, I will mention the combining effect that’s available to all who collect the entire line. Just like with the standard Lightning Collection releases, the weapons can combine to form the giant, blaster, the Power Rangers are fond of using. The turtle version is mostly the same, and yet not as fun. The bow and power axe are exactly the same so they combine in the same manner. One of Raph’s sais slots into the top where the power sword goes, but it’s not as long as said sword so it doesn’t look quite as neat. Leo’s swords and Mikey’s dagger-chuks clip underneath the bow and this is where it starts to look dumb. Because Leo’s swords tab together to form a lance, only one actually has a hole on the bottom to resemble a gun barrel with the other having a plastic tab. Mikey’s chuks apparently go in chain forward which just looks ridiculous. I mean, the whole thing is supposed to look ridiculous by nature, but this takes it further with the weapons appearing to not even be able to fire. If the chains could detach on at least one set of the ‘chuks that would be fine, but Hasbro didn’t want to go that route. This could also be comic accurate, for all I know, and if so then this is a criticism of the design and not the toy. It’s still a fun novelty, but it’s not as neat looking as the MMPR version.

Group shot!

That’s it though. Again, if you have enjoyed the prior two-packs then you’ll like this one. This might be my least favorite of the three though as Mikey’s weapons aren’t as fun to mess around with and April is just a basic Power Ranger, with an odd, unmasked, head sculpt. I’m at least relieved to see that Hasbro made some improvements to the Kimberly figure I was so down on, but it also could have been improved further given her torso is still an odd color. Hasbro also did a comic shaded variant of the pink ranger which might have made more sense for this line, though she would have clashed with the other releases so I get why they didn’t go that route.

Lets bring Tommy in.

This may be the last of the two-packs for this line, but it’s not the last release. That honor falls to Shredder as the green ranger. I haven’t been able to get my hands on that one yet, but rest assured, when I do I’ll be back to tell you all about it.

And now with the OG team. Billy’s back there, I swear.

Hasbro Retro Card Symbiote Spider-Man

“Let him out! We hunger for brains!”

One of the most iconic costumes in the world of superheroes is definitely that of Spider-Man. I put that classic red and blue with webbed detailing right up there with Superman and Batman. I would argue that there’s no more iconic costume in the world of Marvel than Spidey’s, and the crazy thing with Spider-Man is he really has two now iconic costumes. The Black Costume, the Symbiote Costume, the Alien Costume – whatever you call it, is pretty popular on its own. I know I’ve encountered several fans who even prefer the black look to the classic one. I can’t go that far with it, but I do enjoy it, even if Venom has largely taken ownership of the look over the years.

A small sampling of black costumed Spidey’s of the last 20 years or so: Kaiyodo Ultimate Spider-Man, Hasbro, Toy Biz Spider-Man Classics. The new one is an improvement in almost every way save for the “web holes” on the back of the Toy Biz Spider-Man’s hands.

The Symbiote costume has been popular. I can still remember when it first showed up in the ’94 Toy Biz line alongside the Venom II action figure. I wanted it, but because it was so popular, I had trouble tracking it down at the usual spots. I did have a local, dedicated, comic book store that had it along with Venom II. Unfortunately, they wanted 10 bucks for it which was double what Toys ‘R Us would charge me. I could only get one, so I got Venom. When I had replenished my funds, I could have gone back for it, but it was one of those figures saddled with a bad gimmick that made for an unattractive presentation. That was a thing we had to deal with back then. I didn’t mind a gimmick if it didn’t harm the sculpt, but ones that did were the bane of my existence as an action figure enthusiast in the mid-90s. I never ended up getting that figure, but I did get the 2022 edition so I feel like I’m making it up to my younger self.

This mold is an update over the prior one with the biggest addition being the diaphragm joint.

The retro card series from Hasbro is essentially just a subline of Marvel Legends. The packaging reflects the old Toy Biz line, right down to the artwork used for repeat characters. It does cause some confusion as collectors aren’t quite sure if this is an homage line or a line that’s supposed to reflect the animated series itself. I see this most with the recent Hobgoblin release, even though it looks nothing like the old cartoon. Homage line seems to be the right call. That Toy Biz line wasn’t a direct animated line either, though it was much closer to its source material than the X-Men line. What this line certainly isn’t though is a dedicated toon line like the upcoming X-Men one Hasbro is launching this year. These strike me as designs based on the comic with nostalgic packaging.

Together at last.

The exception, of course, is the animated Venom released last year. I have a lot of nostalgic attachment to Venom and the show, so I wanted to grab that release. When I did, I knew I wanted to at least pair him with a Spider-Man. As a bit of a fill-in, I grabbed Web-Man because I really liked the color palette. I also put in an order for this Symbiote Spider-Man when solicitations went up so the long goal was always to get this guy for my display and now he’s here.

The best I can do to visually illustrate my shoulder critique.

This Spider-Man is actually on a different body than Web-Man. I think Web-Man is on the “pizza body” and this version is on the updated body. They’re not vastly different, but there are some. This Spider-Man stands a tick shy of six and a half inches, which seems tall to me, but I’m not a regular collector of this line and can’t speak for how others feel. I don’t believe it’s a true 1/12 scale line. The overall look is pretty much what I envision Spider-Man to be. He’s well-muscled, but lean compared with the more bulky heroes out there. I really like the head shape which has a more pointed chin than Web-Man, and Hasbro did a solid job of minimizing the look of the articulation. It helps that this is a character in an all black suit so you don’t get unsightly issues like the color of the pins not matching the surrounding area. My one real critique of this body is a common one I have for Marvel Legends and it’s the shoulders. They just sit so low on the body. It’s not as noticeable as it is with Web-Man, but it’s something that needs to get better. They just really like this look of large traps sloping down into the shoulders when superheroes tend to have really big shoulders! These ones even sit entirely below the sculpted clavicle. It’s not super noticeable if you pose him well, but this design isn’t really helping out articulation (which we’ll get to) so I don’t understand why it persists.

At least the paint slop is on the rear of the figure.

Being an all black figure means there’s little need for paint. Had this been a true toon line, or one aiming to even replicate comic shading, there would be a need for blue highlights, but that’s not Hasbro’s style. He’s all black save for the white portions. And when it comes to that, we have almost two figures. From the front, he looks pretty great. The eyes are well-defined and well-painted. I love the shape of them. The logo on the chest is quite clean as well, though the opacity of the paint is subpar. There’s too much black showing through giving it a grimy appearance. That’s true of the white panels on the hands as well. Here, we have a possible error too as there’s no “web hole” even though the packaging claims this is the symbiote suit. Longtime fans know that when Spider-Man ditched the alien, he still kept the black look as a traditional costume so in that sense the absence is not an error. It’s a nitpick, I know, but how hard would it have been to get that right? On the rear of the figure, the spider logo is more messy. There’s a scratch on mine in the lower torso and some excess white paint just behind the right shoulder. It’s on the rear of the figure so it’s not a huge deal, but it’s an error and one of those that you can’t even see when inspecting a figure in the card which is always frustrating.

Spider pose!

Spider-Man is known for being rather nimble, so of course a Spider-Man action figure is packed with articulation. This dude has a lot, but it’s not all as functional as it probably could be. His head is on a ball-peg and that has plenty of range. The shoulders are ball-hinged and this is the area I alluded to earlier. He can’t raise his arms out to the side all of the way and getting him into a swinging pose is more challenging than expected, but do-able. He does have butterfly joints and they’re okay. Hasbro painted the spider logo all throughout the joint so you don’t get an ugly gap on the rear of the figure. The legs won’t be aligned, but there’s no real helping that. There’s a biceps swivel, double-jointed elbows, and the hands swivel and hinge. All of the hinges are horizontal. There’s a ball-joint in the diaphragm which lets the figure tilt n’ twist. The spider will obviously become miss-aligned when you do so, but again, there’s no helping that. There is a solid amount of clearance between the upper and lower torso so paint rub is minimal, but still something to watch out for. The joint also lets Spidey bend back a bit and crunch forward and when used in tandem with the ab crunch below you get quite a bit of range. There’s no waist twist, and the hips use a ball and hinge so you can drop the legs down. The drop-down function doesn’t really add anything as he can kick forward just as far either way. His butt cheeks prevent him from kicking back, but he can go out to the side almost to a full split. There are thigh cuts, double-jointed knees, a boot cut, and ankle hinges and rockers and all have plenty of range.

If you’re persistent, you can even get a one-handed pose. Note: the figure did fall over shortly after this picture was taken.

This figure articulates well enough. If I were allowed to design it, the only thing I’d change is those shoulders and the hips. Normal ball and socket hips would allow a thigh twist there so we could ditch the kind of ugly thigh cut. I just find that style of cut useless because it miss-aligns the muscle groups and just looks stupid. This guy though can get into most Spidey poses. The one that’s still out of reach is the classic three-pointed stance. To aid in his posing are some extra hands, which are the only accessories he comes with. He comes with fists hands and he can swap to open, “wall-crawling,” hands and web shooting “thwip” hands. The thwip hands don’t make any sense if this is the symbiote suit, but I think they’re still good to have. No gripping hands is kind of a letdown, but he also has nothing to grip. I would love web effects, and they’ve done them in the past, and that’s something sorely missing. This is also a $22 figure and accessories and paint are where Hasbro skimps with them. I’m not surprised, but I can still want more. And what really could some already tooled web effects actually add to the cost here? It’s probably less than a dollar, probably far less, but that’s what you get with Hasbro.

It would look better with some web effects…

And cost, or rather price, is really the main goal with this line. Hasbro wants to get you a good enough action figure at a low cost. This isn’t an import figure or a boutique thing, it’s a mass market retail release. As such, it’s pretty good! The figure does have that cheap feel when compared with a lot of other figures I own. The plastic can feel “gummy” at times and little in the articulation is smooth, but it’s also not loose or stuck so that’s a positive. And this is also a style of character that really fits what Hasbro wants to do: simple sculpt, simple paint, lots of articulation points. There’s a reason Hasbro keeps reusing this body, because it works. And for me, it gets the job done as now I have a Spider-Man to pair with my Venom. It would have been cool to get an animated deco, but this is fine. There are rumors that Hasbro intends to do an animated Spidey in his classic red and blue, and if so, I’ll probably take a look. Should they do that, I hope they at least update the arms to a pin-less system as I really hate how those look on the already released Spider-Man figures which end up with unsightly red dots on their underarm. I don’t know if it will be a deal breaker, but I guess I’ll know when I see it.

In this house, Venom always gets the upper hand.

Symbiote Spider-Man is currently being stocked by both Target and Walmart with other smaller shops still awaiting product. It’s a popular release, so it doesn’t hang around on pegs for very long. I actually got mine via Hasbro’s eBay page which doesn’t charge for shipping. If you’re still looking, maybe keep an eye on that and see if they do a restock. It’s popular for a reason so I would expect the figure to remain in production for at least a little while, but with all of the delays around the world, it could be awhile. Stay vigilant and good luck and if you have to go to the secondary market at least the prices don’t appear to be outrageous.


Hasbro Power Rangers x TMNT – Tommy and Raphael

Well here’s an interesting pairing.

When Mighty Morphin Power Rangers arrived on Fox Kids in 1993 it quickly became a ratings juggernaut. It was the hottest property around aimed at kids and seemingly everything got knocked down a peg as a result. By contrast, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was embarking on its downturn. The third film wasn’t nearly as successful as the first two and the toyline was starting to show its age as it went into a lot of wacky offshoots. The Power Rangers formula became the new thing to imitate. Footage of martial arts shows from Japan edited into something American kids could identify with was both cheap and effective. And given that TMNT had already been successful in live-action before, it’s perhaps not surprising that Saban made one of the first attempts at reinvigorating the franchise with The Next Mutation.

The Next Mutation ended up being a flop. Either kids were sick of TMNT, disliked the cheap costumes, or failed to gravitate towards the new characters. No one can be certain, but during the show’s lone season it did cross over with Power Rangers. Of course, by then the Mighty Morphin era was over so kids who loved TMNT and then jumped to Mighty Morphin had little reason to enjoy the crossover. It wasn’t their preferred take on either franchise, and it seemingly failed to do much to boost either property.

Looks like we have ourselves a Foot Soldier, or do we?!

Eventually the turtles would come back to animation, and now more than 30 years removed form the cartoon’s debut it’s a supremely nostalgic, and profitable, property once again. Power Rangers, for its part, has never truly gone away though it has changed hands a few times. Now a Hasbro property, the Power Rangers can still be found on television and there’s always rumors of another movie. And in the pages of Boom! comics, the Mighty Morphin team can seemingly live forever! It was in those comics that the crossover fans wanted to happen finally did. The turtles, basically as seen in the pages of IDW, met-up with the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. I don’t know why or what the big threat was that caused it to happen, but it did lead to some slick designs which are now being immortalized in toy form by Hasbro.

No way! It’s Tommy!

Hasbro has been around for ages, but it’s never been able to get its hands on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I’m not sure if the company has ever put forth a strong bid for the property when it has come up for sale. It seems most times this happens the franchise is in a dry spell which has probably made it easy for Playmates to retain ownership. That ownership has been tested over the years though as we’ve seen TMNT product from NECA, Super7, and even DC Collectibles. Now it’s Hasbro’s turn, but they’re giving us something pretty different.

Ninja Tommy!

Released as part of its Lightning Collection, the new Power Rangers x Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line is being released as three two-packs and a single carded figure. Each two-pack contains one or two of the turtles as they appear in the comics when morphed. Yes, the turtles become Power Rangers and the end result is pretty cool. Their limbs are pretty much the same as the regular rangers, just beefier, but they seem to all gain the Dragon Shield in the form of a gold shell. The front of which contains the signature white diamond, while the rear looks almost like a sunburst. The helmets are largely the same though, just form-fitted for a turtle head. They also gain red eye-slits in the visors for some reason.

The first two-pack I was able to get my hands on is the Tommy Oliver as Foot Soldier with Raphael as the Red Ranger. When it came to crossing the two franchises, Boom! had to decide what was more important: color or weapon of choice. If going by weapon, Leonardo should have been the Red Ranger since both wield a sword and are the leader, but you can’t make Leonardo red. Instead, Raphael gets the nod here and his sai are just given a Power Sword makeover. As for Tommy, it’s my understanding he goes undercover as a Foot Soldier in the story, but the figure basically doubles as a generic Foot Soldier as well. It’s just a shame he’s sold in a two-pack since some collectors would likely buy multiples. Instead, it’s Shredder as the Green Ranger that gets the solo treatment.

Cool sword, bro.

I think most are going to be interested in these sets for the turtles, but lets get Tommy out of the way. He’s basically a standard Lightning Collection release. I believe most of this body is reused from the Putty figure, but I don’t have that figure to say for certain. It’s fairly similar to the Ranger body from the Lightning Collection and contains all of the same articulation points. The Foot Soldier head is obviously new and contains some nice, subtle, details on it to show how the mask separates. I wish there was some dry brushing on it to bring it out, but Hasbro isn’t one for paint. Most of the figure is just cast in colored plastic: purple and gray, with some shiny, steel, bits on the forearms and rear of the hands. It’s a new look for the Foot Soldier, but it’s also pretty obviously a Foot Soldier to anyone familiar with TMNT. It’s solid, though a bit underwhelming. The alternate Tommy head appears to be the same one that came with the Green Ranger figure, but with the bandana tails coming straight off the back of the head and painted purple. There’s also very little paint on it so it doesn’t have the more matte appearance of the Green Ranger release.

The man…turtle of the hour.

Raphael, on the other hand, is basically all new. His body is of the pinless variety, so no pins in the elbows or the knees which is definitely welcomed. The red is basically all colored plastic so there aren’t any harsh variances like there were with the Jason figure I looked at. The joining pieces for the elbows and knees do appear to be a slightly paler red. I don’t really notice it on the knees, but I can see it on the elbows when inspecting the figure closely. It’s no where near as bad as it was with the Jason figure, but still a bummer. The ends of the gloves are painted white with the red diamonds which are pretty clean, but there is some chipped paint near the wrist on mine. The hands, which are cast in white plastic, are also a touch more off-white than the paint which is a little annoying. There’s also some chipped paint on the gold armbands. It’s pretty standard stuff for a Hasbro figure, but still worth pointing out.

A Power Ranger that actually looks intimidating.
The rear of the shell is pretty neat.

The sculpt on Raph is pretty cool though. He’s quite bulky and his limbs are longer than usual. He stands a full six inches putting him on par with Tommy so this is definitely a taller turtle than we’re used to seeing. The change in proportions does give him an undersized head as well. It doesn’t bother me with the helmeted look, but it stands out when swapped with the turtle head (which we’ll get to). I do like how the shell was designed, and since these proportions are more human, it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that the rear of the shell is a bit more sleek than usual. The white belt is still a floating piece and it has the morpher on the front and a place to store his sai. He doesn’t have a power blaster, but I don’t know if they used them in the books.

Raph passes the old one foot test.

As for articulation, both figures are the same, but different. Tommy, as noted, is pretty basic Lightning Collection stuff. He’s got a ball peg in his neck that lets him look up, down, swivel, and tilt. The Tommy head has less range due to the hair, especially if you add in the cowl. The shoulders are ball-hinges with butterfly joints. They go back pretty far, but not forward much which is weird as one would prefer the range be reversed. The elbows are double-jointed and go past 90 degrees. There’s a biceps swivel and the wrists swivel and hinge. The hinges are vertical, which earns Hasbro a big thumb’s up! In the diaphragm is what’s probably a double ball peg. It doesn’t go back really at all, but it does allow the figure to crunch forward a bit, rotate, and tilt. Combine it with the ab crunch though, and you get a lot more forward and back. The legs are on ball pegs and allow the figure to almost do a full split. He can kick forward too, but not back because his buttcheeks get in the way. The thigh can swivel on that ball peg and also below it as there is a thigh cut. The knees are double-jointed and go past 90 there and there’s a boot cut and hinged ankles with good rockers.

Tommy can also serve as just a generic Foot Soldier for Raph to beat on.

As for Raph, he has all of the same including the vertical hinges on his gripping hands. The only differences are his butterfly joints are basically useless and he has a joint in the base of the neck so his up and down range at the head is quite good. He also has no diaphragm joint given that he’s a turtle and all. Hasbro did give him a waist cut which splits the shell in the front. It’s basically just what you see below the belt, and while it does look a little funky to have a turtle in a pose that results in his shell not lining up, it’s worth it to have that extra articulation. Likely owing to his more bulky design, Raph also doesn’t get much out of his double-jointed elbows. He can basically just do 90, and go no farther whether you’re bending with the top hinge or the bottom one. On the plus side, nothing was stuck on my figures and they seem to pose reasonably well. Raph is a bit harder to stand, likely because of the shell, but with a little patience I’ve been able to get him into some dynamic stances.

Yes, they do come with weapons.

On the accessory front, things were a bit surprising. The few Hasbro figures I buy seem to be of the bare bones variety, but maybe since half of this release is an in-house brand it helped to get more accessories into the box. For Tommy, we get the Foot head and the Tommy head. The Tommy head also has two extra pieces, a cowl to go around his neck and a facemask that can slide over his chin and mouth creating a cool look. He has gripping hands equipped in the box and a set of fists to swap to. He has a katana which can slot into his belt or be gripped in either hand. There’s also not one, but two, effects pieces. A translucent, blue, punch effect and a translucent, yellow, lightning effect for the sword. You could give the lightning effect to Raph too, if you prefer, though the blue punch is tough to get on Raph’s hands.

I suppose you could display him like this if you want to.

As for Raph, he has three sets of hands: gripping, fists, and open. The open hands are great for posing or for holding his helmet and I do wish Tommy had a set as well. The gripping hands have the correct hinges, as noted before, and are also just barely wide enough for Raph to grip his sai with the center blade through his fingers. If you’re worried about paint rub, warming Raph’s hand first makes it even easier to achieve such a pose. As for the sai, they’re pretty cool and look just like mini Power Swords, but with extra blades. They slot into his belt just fine and the sculpt and paint look pretty terrific. There’s a yellow slashing effect piece that can fit onto the center blade of one which looks decent. If you wish, you could give that to Tommy, but it looks a little silly on his much longer blade. Lastly, we have the unmasked head which features a battle ready expression from Raph. On its own, it looks fine, but on the figure it creates a real pinhead situation. It’s not as bad looking as the promo images made it seem, but I’m still never going to use it. I want to display these guys in morphed mode so even if I loved the alternate head I likely still would never use it.

Group shot! I used the flash to accentuate the contrast between Raph and Jason’s chosen shade of red.

Overall, this is a pretty solid two-pack. Admittedly, I don’t care that much about Tommy and if Hasbro had just paired the turtles up across two two-packs then I’d probably skip Tommy (and April, who comes with Michelangelo). Having him in hand though takes away some of that sting as he’s a solid release. It would have been awesome if he could have been given pin-less arms and legs, as the elbow joints are my lone sore spot with the figure, but it’s not a big deal to me. Raph is the real star though and I’m pretty happy with how he turned out, which is definitely a good thing since the other turtles figure to be the same figure just in different colors. Better yet, I got these guys from GameStop where they were on sale for $42, which is a very nice price in 2021 for an action figure two-pack. Now my real problem is figuring out where the hell I’m going to put these guys until the rest show up.

A little too Raph?

Hasbro Pulse Con Exclusive Marvel Legends Series Venom

“We are Venom!”

When I was a kid, my dad took me to some local convention or trade show. I have no idea why because my dad wasn’t the type who would go to such an event. He liked car shows, but from what I can remember this was more of a hobby show. It was early in 1993 and that was a moment in time when I lived in Virginia. My family only lived there for about 9 months so even trying to remember where this place was located is basically impossible. Anyway, I mostly just remember seeing lots of individuals selling old toys, comics, and baseball cards. That sort of thing. It’s possible my dad was trying to nurture my just emerging interest in model car building, or maybe my mother and sister were doing something together that day and he was just looking for a way to kill some time. It was while there though that he offered to buy me a comic book. I was newly interested in X-Men and always had a fondness for Batman, plus a comic book was probably the cheapest way to send me home with something. When we started looking at books, my eyes were immediately drawn to one comic: a red, foil, cover of the newly released Venom Lethal Protector #1. To a kid, anytime you see the number 1 on an issue it immediately screams “value,” and the red foil spider-webs behind this giant image of Venom just looked awesome. I wanted that one and my dad bought it for me. It was the start of my love affair with the character Venom.

Who wouldn’t fall in love with a face like that?

Prior to that fateful day, I knew who Venom was. I mostly knew him as a Spider-Man foe and what little I knew of the character’s lore came from the back of the Toy Biz action figure card. Lethal Protector would be like my first, proper, introduction and I was smitten. Mark Bagley’s interpretation of the character would forever become my preferred one. He was drawn to be this massive dude, but not as chunky as the McFarlane original. He had this huge mouth with an insane amount of pointy teeth and that tongue was always flailing about with green slime dripping off. He was cool! And I loved that book though strangely I never bought another issue from that story.

When Toy Biz launched a Spider-Man line of toys to coincide with the 1994 release of the cartoon, Spider-Man, Venom followed. I actually didn’t like the inaugural jaw-chomping Venom released with the first wave, but I made it a point to collect every iteration of the character to follow. And I was pumped to see Venom make an appearance in the show. The wait for that felt excruciating at the time, but it was only the 10th episode when Venom appeared. Still, a weekly show for a kid is bad enough between episodes, 10 weeks (not including the weeks the show took off for reruns) probably felt like an eternity. And when he finally did show up it was for just one episode, and then old Eddie Brock found himself powerless and in jail. What a tease.

The outer box is quite lovely, and I feel bad opening the blister inside, but it must be done!

I mentioned it in my recent post about the upcoming X-Men animated line of figures, but the Spider-Man line from back in the day was similar in that it wasn’t exactly a reproduction of the show. It was however much closer than Toy Biz’s X-Men line and basically every major villain from the cartoon would make the jump to toy. The card backs also utilized the show logo and artwork from the show of each character so there was an obvious synergy with the cartoon. As the line went on it would move away from the cartoon a bit, especially with the Venom subline, but for the most part fans of the cartoon had the toys they wanted. Now though, we’re in an age where those who grew up with that cartoon are adults and have a certain fondness for it. And while the toys were close to the toon, they weren’t exact which just leaves enough room for a company like Hasbro to step in.

The rear of both is supremely nostalgic as well. I think I would have burst with joy if they had recreated the cross-sell from the 94 Venom with modern action figures.

This year, Hasbro celebrated itself with its own virtual convention. Pulse Con took place on October 22nd and 23rd and it was an event with some reveals of Hasbro’s upcoming product and also a time to sell some exclusives. One of those exclusives was a special edition of Venom. And not just any Venom, but a Venom from the Spider-Man animated series. That version of the character is pretty unique as far as Venoms go. He had to be simplified in order to properly animate him, so the artists couldn’t give him rows of teeth or go too nutty on the tongue. Instead, he has just some obvious sharp teeth and they even gave him some thick, blue, lips. Venom’s eyes, always something that seems to change with the artist, were also simplified to a more definite shape. A little jagged on the edge, but also now with a more pronounced middle portion that included a large point cut-out of the white of the eye giving off the appearance of pupils. He has almost a reptilian quality to his face as a result, a little bit crocodile, but his mouth also sometimes took on a duckbill quality too in some of the less flattering stills. And foe whatever reason (and you can see it on the card art) sometimes he had a “butt head” where it curved into the center slightly before rounding out again like the top of a heart.

The blister has been cut. What is done cannot be undone.

The feature of this Venom most likely remember though is the odd approach to shading the show took. When you have a show that takes place mostly at night, a big, black, monster of a character is tough to do. He needs to pop when on screen, so he basically needs to be outlined. Often times in comics or in cartoons blue is used to shade black. It makes no sense in the real world, but in the comic one it’s basically a rule of law. The show did use blue when it came to Spider-Man as he had to wear the black costume first. And when Eddie Brock took control of it they used blue again, but only for about half the body. The other half used red which didn’t make any sense in the real world or in the world of comics and cartoons. Why did they do that? I have no idea. Maybe it was just to differentiate him from Spider-Man? Red has a bit of a malevolent reputation, so I guess it makes him look more sinister. Then again, the giant mouth of sharp teeth accomplished that fine on its own. Maybe it was foreshadowing the Carnage symbiote? His dominant color is red, so it’s possible. For what it’s worth, when Carnage did show up the red on Venom had become even more saturated and bold, but that was probably just a variation in production. Maybe someone on staff felt the blue and red combo illustrated Venom’s anti-hero persona. He’s not a villain in the classic mold, he’s more like a guy who just hates Spider-Man and wants to make his life miserable. That’s probably a pretty far-fetched assumption though. Instead, it’s just an odd peculiarity with this version of the character, and it’s not the last! For his second appearance in the show, the artists added these web-like veins to his forearms which just seemed to draw even more attention to the red and blue thing. Of all the villains in the show, Venom definitely feels like the one who was the most unique as far as comparisons to his comic counterpart go. Similar to how Apocalypse had a completely different color scheme in X-Men versus the comics.

I paid 10 dollars for the Toy Biz Venom on the left back when it was released, a princely sum at the time because a local comic shop got it before I ever saw it at a big box retailer, but I had to have it!
More retro goodness! The Venom on the right is from the Toy Biz Marvel Super Heroes line which preceded the Spider-Man one.

Because of that reality, and because Venom has remained a very popular character, is likely why Hasbro saw fit to do a cartoon version of the character. Hasbro has been releasing Spider-Man figures on retro card backs for a little while now with more planned. All of them feel more like an homage to the old toyline or just a fun way to release new Spider-Man figures. Venom is the only one that seems to be deliberately based on the cartoon. And the action figure does a pretty good job of capturing that likeness. First of all, he gets his own special box with his beautiful mug plastered on the front. The eyes are the dead give-away that this is animated Venom as opposed to one based on comic art. Inside that box is just a standard, retro, blister card with the figure inside. The card art matches the original jaw-chomping Venom from 1994 while the back has been updated for the new wave. If you have not bought one of these retro card releases, they’re a little different from what was sold in stores 30 years ago. The card itself is thicker and oversized. The blister also isn’t glued down over the artwork, but the artwork is actually laid over that. I wish Hasbro had invested in something resealable (especially since this release is about 10 bucks more expensive than a standard retail one), but as best I can tell the only way to remove the figure is to cut through the blister. Or you could just tare it apart.

I basically only bought Web-Man to have a modern Spider-Man to pair with this Venom.

Once freed from his confines, Venom stands a tick over 7″. He’s pretty beefy, especially compared to the Web-Man figure I looked at recently. The main body of this figure is apparently repurposed from Hasbro’s Omega Red release which was part of a Wolverine five-pack. It works well as a Venom body, though one could argue the shoulders could stand to be beefed up a bit. They sit low, which is a thing Hasbro has been doing for awhile, so in certain poses it looks a little off. The Venom from the toon had a really large upper body with a comparably small head. This Venom has more standard proportions and might actually be closer to the show’s model sheets than the character was on screen. The animation definitely wasn’t great and there are some pretty funky pictures of Venom out there. This figure most looks like Venom as he appears at the end of the opening credits. The other big drawback to this sculpt though comes from Omega Red having oversized shoulder pads. They apparently peg into the shoulders because Venom has a pair of holes in his traps. They’re basically right in the top of the figure, which also stinks because if they were more towards the figure’s back they’d be less visible. Or better yet, Hasbro could have spent a few cents more to inject some plastic into those holes or even fashion plugs. Either way, it sucks that this figure has random holes in its upper body.

Well, that’s a shame.
The spider on the back had to be squished to fit it inside the articulation, but it’s for the best.

Complaints about the holes aside, the rest of the figure looks quite lovely. The face looks dead-on for this version of Venom with light blue accents on the right side of his face and red on the left. In the show, the shading was usually of a bisected nature, though one color wasn’t specifically reserved for one side. It just depended on which way the character was facing. They would also do both colors on the limbs with one on the outside and one inside. As funky a design choice as it was, it’s pretty fun to see it replicated so well here. He also has the big, white, spider on his chest which properly wraps around to the back of the figure. To fit it inside the joints though, the spider on the rear of the figure is a bit squished, but it’s not as noticeable as it would be if they did that on the front. And they did to a point as the spider’s legs purposefully avoid the butterfly joint, but I don’t think it really harm’s the figure’s aesthetics. He does have his unique, forked, tongue which I’m not certain was ever supposed to be a true forked tongue in the show or if the animators just failed to paint the slime most of the time. Either way, this looks the part. The forearms of the figure also have the web-veins as seen in the character’s second appearance on the show, though Hasbro declined to paint them which is disappointing. What’s more disappointing is the absence of the white portions on the back of Venom’s hands. He had those in the show, so it’s bizarre to see them excluded here and it truly does bug me. Those are all design flaws though, the actual execution on this guy is pretty good though. The paint looks clean and it’s even well done around the teeth, where things could have certainly gone off the rails. The spider logo is sharp and neat and they definitely nailed those eyes. The sculpt, outside of the head, doesn’t have to do much since this is just a muscle dude in a skin-tight suit, but what’s there is well done.

Two heads are indeed better than one, though it would have been cool if the second head was different from the first in more ways than just the tongue.
The fists are a nice option, though they look a little undersized to me, but I think it has more to do with how deep in his wrists they sit.

Despite the premium price, Venom doesn’t come with a whole lot. We’re likely paying for a head-sculpt that will never be utilized again and for the special paint job, because Venom comes with just three accessories: a pair of fists and second head. Out of the box, Venom has open, style-posed hands. His right hand is more open than the left, but if you don’t like that look for your figure then Hasbro included some fists. They’re just fists, but they have the blue and red shading on them. They seem undersized to me, and that might be the way the forearms are sculpted on Venom which just causes them to sink into the arm. I don’t really care for the look as a result, but maybe that’s just me. The second head is the same as the the one that comes on the figure, only this one has a smaller tongue. The eyes, teeth, and expression are entirely the same, Hasbro was just able to glue a different tongue piece that’s contained inside the figure’s mouth rather than one that’s flailing about. It’s cool for anyone who dislikes the tongue, but I feel like that’s probably not many people. I would have preferred a closed mouth with a big grin, but again, this is a head-sculpt that probably won’t be repeated so I understand why we’re essentially just getting one.

Time to play!
“I keep trying to tell you, I’m not Spider-Man!” “And we keep telling you, you web-heads crack us up!”

Hasbro may have gone light on the accessories, but at least they didn’t when it comes to the figure’s articulation. The base body is pretty well loaded with a lot of functional articulation. Perhaps the only shortcoming is right at the top. The head is on a ball and hinge, but sits pretty low on that ball so the range isn’t very good. He can look up and down just a bit and rotate. Some neck articulation would have helped him look down further, and since he towers over Spider-Man that would be beneficial, but it’s passable. The shoulders are ball-hinged and the way the sculpt of the shoulder area slopes down does prevent Venom from raising his arms out to the side, but he gets close. The rotation is fine and there is also a butterfly joint in each one that lets him reach across his body. It moves well and only gets a little chunky looking when Venom rears back, but on the whole it looks fine and works better. After the shoulders we have biceps swivels, double-jointed elbows that achieve about 90 degree bends, and wrists that swivel and hinge horizontally. It all works fine, but the red/blue shading might drive you nuts if you’re intent on making sure the various swaths of color line up. In the torso, there’s an ab crunch that’s done quite well. Only when bending him all the way back does a hint of a gap start to show. There’s also a waist twist and ball joints at the legs. He can’t come close to pulling off a split, which is a little disappointing as Venom is quite limber despite his bulk, but I don’t consider it a deal-breaker. There’s a thigh cut and double-jointed knees that allow Venom to bend past 90 and he has hinge and ankle rockers down below that work great. Nothing really is missing. A lower neck joint would have been cool to see, but at least there’s nothing breaking up the sculpt. Everything is at a nice tolerance and no joints were stuck on my figure. Nothing is floppy and there are no joints that breakup the sculpt in a way that isn’t worthwhile.

Web-Man was enjoying his time on the shelf before Venom showed up.
“Ahh, we’re just messing with you, web-head!”

Hasbro’s attempt at a cartoon accurate Venom is pretty damn close to a homerun. Any issues I have with the sculpt are what I consider nitpicking on my part. The only real issues I have with the figure is the missing paint on the back of his hands and those two holes in his traps. The hands might be an oversight or a design choice since they did put blue and red shading on the back of the hands, but the holes are just Hasbro getting cheap on us. Considering this guy was priced at $34, I feel like they could have fixed those and still made a tidy profit. Oh well, that’s Hasbro for you. Beyond those two issues though, this is a really attractive and fun piece to have on your shelf. The red and blue shading, as odd as it was back in 1994, is an attention grabber and makes this Venom design and figure feel truly unique. I didn’t even particularly like the character’s look in the show when I was a kid, but as an adult this does get my nostalgia juices flowing.

My new Venom with what I once considered my favorite Venom (and most recently purchased Venom?) along with a parachute Spider-Man from the early 2000s Toy Biz Spider-Man line.

If you’re looking to get a Venom animated figure of your own, I’m afraid you’ve already missed the boat. Hasbro sold this one exclusively via its Pulse website following Pulse Con. It was up for about a day, but is now sold out. I would bet on a retro card Venom to follow at some point for a regular retail release, but it probably won’t have this head nor will it have the red and blue shading. That means if you’re really into this look for the character you’ll probably have to turn to the secondary market where it’s presently selling for 70-80 bucks. It’s hard to predict where the prices will go from here as it could climb, or maybe when Hasbro does a comic accurate Venom on this card-back it depresses the value of this one. It’s also hard to say if more characters in this style will follow. Venom is one of the more unique designs from the show, but there are a few others like Morbius and Punisher. And with Hasbro launching the X-Men line based on the cartoon it certainly could be a door-opening moment for Spider-Man as well. Whether or not this potential line is one and done, I’m quite happy with my purchase and I don’t know what I’d pay had I missed out. Best of luck to any who are trying to get him.

Venom rules.

Marvel Legends Web-Man

Who the heck is this guy?!

No, this is not bootleg Spider-Man, this is Web-Man! Who is Web-Man? I actually had no idea until I just looked it up. It would seem Web-Man is a copy of Spider-Man created by Dr. Doom. Not only are his colors inverted from the real thing, but so is most everything else. And since Spidey is basically a genius, Web-Man is quite stupid. As far as I know, he appeared in just one issue in 1977 and has never been heard from again. Though this being a comic book character, it’s entirely possible I’m wrong about that last part as comics have been known to recycle characters here and there. Even obscure ones.

I’ve mentioned in posts before that I used to collect Marvel Legends. And alongside Legends, I also collected the offshoot Spider-Man and X-Men lines produced by Toy Biz and later Hasbro. I stopped though around 2007 and really haven’t looked back aside from a lone Deadpool acquisition last year. So why on Earth am I doing a Web-Man review? It’s kind of a funny thing. I’ve been aware of Hasbro’s retro card releases of the past year or so which seek to emulate the 1994 Toy Biz Spider-Man line. I loved that line as a kid and I had a bunch of those cards (and probably still do) and the figures that were once stuck to them. It definitely tickles my nostalgia bone to see these things in stores, though so far not enough to get me to bite. When it came to Web-Man though, I just loved the colors. He’s this light shade of blue juxtaposed with a very bright red. It’s not the true inverse of Spider-Man, who trends darker typically, but there is something so aesthetically pleasing to me about this color combo. I loved it the moment I saw it in product shots online, but not enough to buy it. That is, until, Amazon just happened to have the thing in stock and I grabbed one. I did want to add at least one Spider-Man to my collection because I snagged a Pulse exclusive Venom over the weekend (he has yet to ship), and now I have one. Sort of.

These cards are indeed glorious.

Being that I haven’t purchased a Spider-Man figure in quite some time, this figure is probably a bit more exciting for me than it is for longtime Legends collectors. I think the last Spider-Man I bought was Iron Spider-Man, which I think was released by Hasbro, but was one of the last figures Toy Biz was working on when it was dissolved. I’d dig it out if it was easily accessible (I might have even sold it) to compare, but other than that my last Spidey might have been the Marvel Legends Series 6 First Appearance Spider-Man. Either way, this is quite different. Now, my understanding is this Web-Man uses the same body as Hasbro’s Spider-Man 2099. I was actually a little surprised when I got him because I had just assumed this was a repaint of the classic Spider-Man released on the retro card. That one was pretty well-received, from what I understand, and ended up being hard to track down because everyone and their mother apparently wanted at least two: one to play and one to keep mint-on-card. The main difference between this body and that one is a diaphragm joint which takes the place of the waist twist on this one. There are pros and cons to each, one major pro of the other Spidey is that he can crouch down into a 3-point stance, but it’s more of an interesting observation for me than anything. I just assumed that all Spider-Men would be produced on that body going forward.

I love this blue, it’s just beautiful.

As mentioned before, this guy comes on a retro card back which looks lovely. He has a one sentence bio on the back with no cross-sell below. The card itself is thicker than the old ones and the blister is attached in a different way. It would have been awesome to see Hasbro invest in resealable blisters, but they also appear to be trying to phase plastic out of their packaging as much as possible (and that’s a good thing). Once extracted, Web-Man stands at about 6 1/4″ when placed on a flat surface. Immediately, my eyes are drawn to this guy. That blue is just beautiful and it contrasts so well against the bright red. The black web-lining is bold and striking and just serves as a reminder that this is one of the best designs of all-time. Superman, Batman, Captain America – all take a backseat to the classic Spider-Man design. I love the shape of the eyes which remind me of Ditko’s Spider-Man, but bigger. The webs on the mask form a little pentagon in-between the eyes and it’s so clean looking. The reference art I found on the guy doesn’t feature that detail, but I don’t care. I like the look of it. His head is a bit more square than most Spider-Man sculpts I’ve seen, but it’s not something I mind. The color matching between the blue, plastic, head and the blue paint on the torso is pretty well done. If anything, the head is just ever so slightly darker, but I don’t think most will notice it unless they’re putting this figure under intense scrutiny, which I am.

There’s a bit of ugly here, like that red line above the shoulder and a little missing blue near the front elbow pin.

The torso is a little more of a mixed-bag, but certainly not a disaster. Web lines are hard, and with this figure I would say it passes the eye test when on a shelf. When right in front there are a few blemishes. The outer, black, line on the right hip is a little off on mine and there’s a little bit of blue paint over the center line right around the belly button. The right pectoral also has some blue slop and it’s probably the ugliest error on the front of the figure as the black webbing doesn’t extend to the outer line as a result. Up by his left trap is some missing paint resulting in a red line that’s distracting. It’s right on a seem where the plastic was fused together and if I was confident in my ability to match this paint I’d probably cover it. The back of the figure also features some messy spots along the edge, and he has an awful hole in his back. I don’t think Hasbro still uses those old peg stands, but I could be wrong. I’m guessing this hole was needed for Spider-Man 2099’s cape or something. It is an unfortunate eye sore though, as are the pins in his arms. If ever a character cried out for pin-less engineering in the arms, it’s Spider-Man, because you’re always going to run into this with his classic (and inverted) costume where you can only match the outer or inner color of the arm. Hasbro always opts to match the outer arm, which is the right move, but it means the inner arm has a circle of color that shouldn’t be there. In this case, it’s blue above and below the elbows. At least with the knees it’s not an issue. It would be nice if they just put a dab of paint there, but this is Hasbro and they’re quite focused on making low cost figures which is why their figures often are priced lower than everyone else.

I do wish he didn’t have a giant hole in his back.

Aside from the blemishes here and there, I do really like the look of this figure. This is a solid sculpt for a Spider-Man adjacent character. The only sculpting issue I have is that his shoulders are really small. Hasbro likes to almost recess them in the torso which just gives them an odd look. It’s really only noticeable in vanilla poses, but given this is a Spider-Man, you’re not likely to pose him in such a manner on your shelf. The musculature looks good otherwise as this is a lean dude and I like that he seems to have a unique spider logo on his chest. He’s just a very pleasing figure to look at, all in all.

I wish I could get that left hand on the ground, otherwise the articulation is pretty good.

Now when it comes a Spider-Man figure articulation is going to be super important. This figure may lack the updated configuration of the new Spider-Man body, but he’s no slouch in the articulation department. For starters, his head sits on a ball-hinge. This gives him very good up and down range, but little tilt. At the shoulders we have a butterfly joint that works very nicely. The inner pieces are painted though, so hopefully paint rub doesn’t become a major issue over time. For now, it seems okay. The shoulders are on standard ball-hinges and you do get that mismatch color issue here too as the hinge is blue plastic so he has a stripe of color in his armpit that shouldn’t be. Like the pins, this is just a trade-off on where to put the offending color and Hasbro did the best it could. And in this case, if they had tried painting over it the paint would likely just flake off rather quickly. The weird way they sculpt the shoulders does make it difficult to get his arms horizontal, but you can get close. There’s a biceps swivel past that and double-jointed elbows which bend past 90, but not much past. I was a little surprised with that part. At the wrists are swivels and hinges which might be a little gummy out of the box. At least mine were. In the torso we have an ab crunch and Web-Man can crunch forward pretty far and back a little bit, but without any ugly gapping issues. There’s a waist twist below that and the legs are on ball-pegs. He can kick forward rather well and almost do a split. There’s a thigh cut past there and double-jointed knees. We also get a boot cut and hinges at the ankles to go along with excellent pivot action.

Thwip!

Really, the only complaint I have with the articulation is the inability to get the figure into a classic, Spider-Man, three-point stance. Aside from that, he moves well and I didn’t have any stuck joints on my figure. Almost better, there are no loose joints either as everything is nice and tight. He’s a lot of fun to mess around with and probably would be even more fun with an action stand or some web effects. Sadly, he’s rather light on the accessory front, a common thing with Marvel Legends. He comes with fisted hands in the package that can be swapped with web-slinging hands or wall-crawling ones. They’re pretty standard Spider-Man hands, though he lacks gripping ones so even if you make your own web he won’t be able to grab them. It’s certainly decent, but does beg the question would collectors be happy to spend another buck or two to get more stuff? I’m used to buying NECA and Super7 figures which retail for a lot more than Legends so it’s probably no surprise where I come in on that question, but Hasbro exclusive collectors are definitely more price sensitive from what I’ve seen.

“I don’t think this is the New York I’m used to.”

Web-Man is what I wanted him to be. I saw a design that looked really pleasing to me and the finished product didn’t disappoint. Yes, I can pick over this thing and find little blemishes and imperfections here and there, but that’s true of pretty much any mass market retail action figure. Especially one with as demanding a paint job as Web-Man. It definitely would be preferable to find a vast assortment of these guys at retail rather purchase online sight unseen. That way you can hopefully find the one with the least amount of imperfections. This is admittedly an odd figure to have as the lone Spider-Man representation so to kind of make up for that I’ve pre-ordered the upcoming black costume Spidey. Even so, I love how this guy looks and it doesn’t bother me at all that I don’t have a traditional Spider-Man figure right now. Maybe when Hasbro eventually does a pinless one I’ll bite, but for now this is great. If you’re like me and you find yourself just drawn to this color scheme then this one’s for you.

“Easy there, big fella! You’re a little out of your league here.”

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – The Last Ronin #4

“Blood in Snow”

The wait was a bit longer than originally anticipated, but the fourth issue of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles flash-forward story The Last Ronin has arrived. If you are not familiar with this story, The Last Ronin was a concept first kicked around by TMNT co-creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird back in the late 80s/early 90s about a final story for the turtles. One, last, ronin, makes a final stand against the Foot with the memory of his family burning in his heart. It’s in some ways a parallel to the original story where the turtles set out to kill the Shredder to avenge their master, only their master was still alive. With the success of films like Logan and their comic counterparts, it made sense for the creative team to adapt this story now especially after Waltz and Eastman concluded their run on the main comic.

The first issue of The Last Ronin told the story of the last ninja turtle. The unnamed ronin infiltrated New York City, now under the control of the Foot Clan, on a suicide mission to avenge his family. The final panel reveals who the identity of this character is, and in my reviews of each so far I’ve not revealed that spoiler so I don’t plan to now. We’ll just call him Ronin. It almost doesn’t matter anyway as this turtle is like an amalgamation of all four as he wields all of their weapons (and then some) and has become consumed by his quest for vengeance. All trace of his normal personality is basically gone. Since that issue though, the following two took place in both the present (which is the future) and the past and showed how one of the turtles met his end. As a result, not a whole lot of plot has moved forward in the present timeline.

Issue #4, subtitled titled “Blood in Snow,” has what feels like a shorter flashback to reveal the fate of the final turtle and moves things forward in the present timeline far more than the others. When I read issue #2, I actually found it a bit challenging because it basically bothered me to see one of my childhood heroes fall. Issue #3 surprised me in that I didn’t get the same feeling, and as a result, it disappointed me a bit. Issue #4 is more of the same. It’s not that I expect these to be gratuitous in their depiction of death and violence, it just doesn’t do much to tug on the heart strings. There was a lot of room especially in this issue for some tragic drama, but the writers and artists chose not to lean into it giving the flashback more of a procedural feeling than an emotional arc.

Let’s not do this.

The plot that takes place in the present is, unfortunately, no better. It’s very cliché with its plotting. One moment had me rolling my eyes as our Ronin has taken on a protégé. In this issue, the characters are assaulting a fortress that is a key to breaking into the main Foot headquarters and Ronin goes ahead telling his pupil not to follow. Of course, he gets into some trouble and his protégé does indeed make the save leading to this exchange:

Ronin: I thought I told you to stay put!

Protégé: You did. I didn’t.

Ronin: Terrible discipline, excellent initiative. DON’T do it again!

How many times has such an exchange taken place in movies and comics? The characters also just march along with not much of a climax. There’s a villain from the past at the end, but the villain receives no development and is entirely dependent on the reader just being familiar with them. And the showdown really doesn’t land. I get the sense that more energy has been put into telling the story of how the turtles were defeated with little regard for this current timeline. We don’t even know how New York ended up in such a state, you would think the US government would have some issues with it, but I can at least understand the creative team not wanting to tell that story. What is unfortunate is that their main story just lacks drama and excitement. I fully expect the next issue will just feature Ronin leading a last ditch attack on the tower where the leader of the Foot waits. All or most of his allies will fall, but it will end with the two facing off at the top of the tower with likely both falling. And I’m not saying that can’t work as an outline, but they really need to land on some of the bigger moments to make it work.

The future stuff looks good, but I found myself really enjoying the setting of the flashback portion.

What hasn’t been a letdown though is the artwork. The Escorza brothers handle the majority of the work and they continue to do a good job. There’s plenty of good action panels and they really do a terrific job with the flashback sequence which features some characters in rather resplendent armor. Eastman does contribute 4 pages as well and continues to handle the portions where the Ronin character narrates his own flashback. His pages are done in black and white and feature his own, unique, artwork. For fans of the original Mirage line, these panels are a delightful throwback. A novelty, but a fun one. Newer readers might see them as weaker since Eastman’s art is not and has never been as polished as many of his professional peers, but that was part of the TMNT charm back in the day. And it was good enough to make him quite wealthy.

I’m guessing we’re not quite done with flashbacks as we need some Eastman art in Issue #5.

The trajectory for The Last Ronin appears clear with issue #4 concluded. With only one issue left in the mini series, and the flashbacks seemingly complete, we’re ready to see this revenge story come to its conclusion. I do feel like The Last Ronin began with tremendous momentum and spark, but each issue to follow has been weaker than the one preceding it. I’m hopeful they’ll rebound and stick the landing. It’s possible the story just wasn’t necessarily big enough for five issues and maybe that’s the problem, but we’ll see. I don’t expect Alan Moore writing or anything from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but it could definitely be better. As such, I began this series giving it a strong recommend, but at this point I might suggest to newcomers to wait for the trade paperback edition at this point. We’re also in for a bit of a wait, it would seem. Issue #4 was delayed about a month and the fifth and final issue has yet to be solicited by the publisher. That means it’s probably slipped to 2022 at this point. This year has been one of delays so I’m not surprised by any at this point. Hopefully the extra time allows the team to do something special. I want this story to succeed, and I am eager to see how it concludes.


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