Category Archives: Television

DuckTales (2017) – “The Last Adventure!”

Original air date March 15, 2021

The return of DuckTales came at a really good time in my life. When it was announced, I had just become a dad not that long ago and even had another kid on the way (a bit earlier than planned) and it seemed like the kind of show that would lineup well with my family when it premiered in 2017. I had grown up with The Disney Afternoon and the pre-Disney Afternoon shows, like DuckTales, and they were a formative experience for me. While DuckTales was never my favorite show, it was still appointment viewing and my sister and I watched it daily and stayed with it into the Disney Afternoon days through the release of the movie in 1990. Leading up to the premiere, I purchased the original series on DVD and would most often turn to it to amuse my kids on long car rides. We had a DVD player for the car, and for awhile it was the only show my son thought was available to him in the car. I can still remember his little voice saying “Go in the car, watch DuckTales!” The first thing he watched on YouTube, was the DuckTales intro and when the new intro was unveiled on YouTube it became a nightly ritual for him to sit at the table, eat his dessert (usually M&Ms), and sing along to the video.

Grab some tissues and get ready to say “good bye.”

When the show finally premiered in August of 2017 I had it in my head that this would be a show I could watch with my children and we would all enjoy it. Things didn’t quite work out the way I had planned. My son was only 2 and my daughter was still a month shy of her first birthday. They loved the song, but the episodes themselves were a bit hard to reach. The premiere, “Woo-oo!,” was a brief hit in my household with my son requesting to watch it quite often for a period of a few weeks. As he often did, he would latch onto a piece of media, consume it over and over for a period of time, and then move on. And move on he did. Eventually, they got older and to the point where they could sit and watch it with me and sort of enjoy it. My son seemed to like it more than my daughter, who remained way more into the opening song than the rest of the show, but at least it provided for a bit of quiet time on a Monday evening.

Webby gets to be the star in this one, which is only fair since they use her birthday party as a cover for their FOWL trap.

Even though they didn’t grab onto DuckTales like I had hoped, I’m still going to miss those Monday evening viewings for DuckTales just aired its grand finale last night. Appropriately titled “The Last Adventure!,” the finale truly was a grand undertaking as it spanned 90 minutes of broadcast space. It is my understanding that it will be broken up into three separate episodes with three distinct titles in the future, but as a finale it was pretty special. We knew DuckTales was not coming back for a fourth season as the news broke before the end of 2020. The creators of the show, Frank Angones and Matt Youngblood, were at least informed by the network that the show was ending after three seasons with enough advance notice that they could plan for a true ending. This is in stark contrast to the Disney Afternoon shows of old which were almost cynically constructed to air over and over in syndication with no apparent end. Viewers like finales though. We may hate to see a treasured program end, but if it’s got to, we want some closure. And DuckTales has always approached story telling in a big way. This is not the Disney Afternoon of old where the vast majority of episodes are just one-off, self-contained, stories that anyone can just drop in and out of. This show has arcs, it has continuity. It’s not to the point where it’s unapproachable for a newcomer, but it’s very rewarding for those who take it all in. Had it been denied a true finale, that would have been a television tragedy. Instead, viewers of DuckTales were treated to one of the best television finales in recent memory, and maybe even history!

Donald and the boys have one last adventure in them!

“The Last Adventure!” is centered around the nefarious organization, FOWL, and Scrooge McDuck (David Tennant) and his family have laid a trap for the organization to finally put a stop to it. It’s been somewhat simmering in the background for a few episodes, so it’s great to get back into this plot for the finale especially knowing that we’re going to spend 90 minutes on it. Naturally, the trap laid out by Scrooge and the gang isn’t much of a success, because we need this thing to carry on for awhile. The show introduces two new characters in the process, May (Riki Lindhome) and June (Noël Wells), who should be familiar to longtime duck fans or viewers of The Legend of the Three Caballeros. They’re really the only new characters as the rest of the show is going to be devoted to essentially bringing everyone back. Most just show up for a cameo or to hang out in the background of a shot, but it’s pretty cool to see everyone back. And chances are, if you think someone was missing they were probably there and you just missed them.

Della gets to play the audience surrogate this time as she declares she doesn’t want their adventures to end! There’s a lot of meta stuff in this one.

The theme of the episode is going to be that family is the greatest adventure of all. Della (Paget Brewster) is going to find out early in the episode that her brother Donald (Tony Anselmo) is planning on running off with his new love Daisy (Tress MacNeille) after their business is concluded and she is not happy about it. That’s our first little taste of family, while the rest is largely reserved for the character Webby Vanderquack (Kate Micucci) and how she fits into this eclectic clan.

Webby giving one of many lessons on family in this one.

Centering the finale partially on Webby is a brilliant choice. In the original series, Webby was basically everyone’s least favorite character. She was there because someone felt there needed to be a girl equivalent to Huey, Dewey, and Louie, which is fine. Unfortunately, she was made this annoying, baby-like, character and it was borderline offensive that someone thought this was the right choice for a character that young girls were supposed to relate to and enjoy. It felt like she was put upon the viewers, and viewers generally don’t like that. For the reboot, Webby was turned into the audience surrogate. She’s the outsider within the McDuck family and is constantly in awe of Scrooge and his exploits. When Della Duck has her emotional return, the camera pans to Webby to show her overcome with emotion and sobbing uncontrollably because the show knew that’s what we were doing! This Webby is fully embraced by the other characters in the show and she’s a ball of energy and insight and this show quickly became one that was largely about Scrooge and his nephews as well as his surrogate niece.

Despite being the finale, this one does make time for some new faces.

That is how I will remember DuckTales. It’s a show about Scrooge McDuck, but it’s mostly told through the children of the show. It was able to take time for other things as well, and the Della Duck plot was definitely one of the most rewarding the show touched upon. It was rewarding almost to a fault as once she was brought into the fold, Della kind of just slipped into the background. The show probably could have done more with her and Donald, as it felt like that was held back initially, but then never truly paid off. This finale rectifies that to a degree, but if the show had one missed opportunity it was in not doing more with the duck siblings.

The only thing missing is a, “DuckTales! Assemble!”

That may be a criticism of DuckTales on the whole, but it’s not applicable for the finale. FOWL’s plan will be revealed and it’s appropriately silly, but not to the point where the cast can’t take it seriously. There’s also quite a bit of fan service and pretty much every classic Disney Afternoon show gets a call-out of some kind. Favorite characters get their moment to shine, all the while the show practically beats us over the head with its theme of family being the greatest adventure. And when it’s starting to get too corny, the show basically calls itself out via one of the characters which is a good laugh-out-loud moment. A show centered around a family of adventuring ducks should get ample opportunity to get a little Full House at times. And it is truly impressive how such a massive cast of secondary characters were brought back into the fold so well. The episode doesn’t lag at all, even with it being triple the runtime of a normal episode. It makes me wonder what this team could do with an actual feature-length project set in this world.

So long and thanks for the memories, McDuck family!

Ultimately, DuckTales may not have been exactly the show I had hoped it would be for me and my family. My kids did sit and watch this one with me, but once 8 o’clock hit they checked out. In our house, 8 o’clock means tablet time and the kids get 30 minutes to do whatever they want on their tablets before we read a book and go to bed. And right when the clock struck 8, my son asked for his tablet (sigh). It wasn’t a total loss though for we got a late start to the show because it takes my kids forever to eat dinner, so at 8:30 their tablets went off and I gave them a choice of book then bed, or DuckTales then bed, and they chose DuckTales. We watched the last 20 minutes or so as a family and they were pretty into it, for what it’s worth. As for me, while the show didn’t become appointment viewing for my kids like I had hoped, it very much was everything I could have hoped a new version of DuckTales would be. The finale was fantastic, and I am not the sort who is prone to hyperbole in the moment, but this really was one of the best television finales I’ve had the pleasure of viewing. It was funny, exciting, full of action, and packed with plenty of emotional moments as well. The show set out to solve some mysteries and rewrite history, and boy did it ever deliver!


Hasbro MMPR Combining Dino Megazord

The only Megazord that matters.

I wasn’t going to do a post on this particular figure, but there probably is some curiosity about it and how it works with the Hasbro Power Rangers Lightning Collection, so here we are. Last year, I fulfilled an almost lifelong ambition and acquired a Bandai dino Megazord from 1993 based on its appearance in the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers television show. The toyline was white hot in the early 90s, and it was something I had to make due without as a kid (and for the record, I did just fine, so don’t weap for my childhood). It turns out, the kids of 2020 also enjoy Megazords from the 90s and my own children spent a fair amount of time playing with it, assembling it and disassembling it enough that I went to eBay and grabbed them some Power Rangers from the same era to play with. When Christmas came around, it made sense for my son to ask Santa for a Megazord he could call his own, and the big man delivered.

It was late last summer, or early fall, that Hasbro rolled out its own version of the classic Bandai toy. The zords were scattered across three blister pack releases that could be purchased at big box retailers and online at various toy and hobby websites. What was most attractive about the set was that it was really affordable. Each release retailed for $15 so kids, and collectors, could assemble a Megazord for a mere $45. I’m pretty sure it cost more in 1993 dollars to do the same. Of course, this meant the release was compromised compared with past iterations. The zords probably lost about 25-30% of their size and are primarily assembled with colored plastic with little or no paint. On the plus side, there were no stickers to place as the decals came on the toys, though they still appear to be as prone to peeling and such as stickers applied by the consumer.

The dino zords have never been particularly fearsome on their own.

As mentioned already, Hasbro chose to distribute these dino zords across three releases. The mastodon and pterodactyl come bundled together as do the triceratops and saber-toothed tiger. The tyrannosaurus, being the largest of the five zords, comes solo, but Hasbro did toss in the power sword so it wouldn’t feel so lonely. I’m not sure why Hasbro opted to do things this way rather than simply sell it as one, complete, set. They probably could have even jacked the price up another five dollars and sold it at 50 bucks. It’s just unlikely anyone would want just one set and not all three, because lets face it, most kids don’t want to play with the individual zords. All this does is make it a little harder to find everything you need. Thankfully, the zords weren’t terribly difficult to track down, but I know in my frequent trips to Target I rarely saw all three sets readily available, it was usually just one or two

Dinosaurs! Assemble!

These toys aren’t technically in the Lightning Collection, but are in that lesser line Hasbro mostly markets to kids. All that means is that these aren’t technically being marketed to collectors, though I’d wager most of the people buying stuff based on the Mighty Morphin era are folks my age. The engineering on all of the zords is very similar to the Bandai originals as Hasbro has largely preserved the transformation as it appeared on television. The sheer amount of plastic utilized though has been significantly scaled back. It can be seen in the tail of the T-Rex zord which has a lot of chunks just cut out of it and the rear of the mastodon which is fairly open. It’s definitely not a set as attractive as the old ones, though there are areas where things have been improved slightly. The T-Rex, for instance, has its mouth canons sculpted in now and they look pretty nice. Some of the joints are also tighter, specifically the tails of the triceratops and saber-toothed tiger, though I’m also comparing a relatively new toy to one almost 30 years old. Given time, maybe they’ll be just as loose.

Top: new sword, Bottom: old sword. It’s not great.
Paint is apparently expensive.

Where this set comes up short though is just in the details. The wheels on the saber-toothed tiger, for example, aren’t painted black and are just sculpted gray like the rest of the legs. The canon at the tip of the triceratops tail doesn’t articulate so it looks pretty lame, plus it doesn’t have actual wheels to roll on. I also miss the chrome details some of the old figures had, though I mostly miss it on the Megazord’s power sword. It’s just unpainted plastic with some of the design sculpted on just one side of the blade. It’s very bland and is the aspect of this release I see the most complaints about. Hasbro also utilized a new peg system for the legs of the Megazord which works fine, but it also means the T-Rex now has red pegs jutting out from its knees. I also dislike the head of the T-Rex and how it snaps in place with the Megazord head contained underneath. It doesn’t seem to want to actually snap and it just feels very cheap. The “horns” on the Megazord itself can slide all the way to one side and just seems junky, even though it does, in the end, get the job done.

The new one can’t articulate its canon, but at least it can hold its tail up unlike gramps here.
The pterodactyl zord didn’t have to make too many compromises, though I’ve always really loved that old decal on the front of the original so that’s a bummer.

Playing with the zords on their own doesn’t seem like a great experience, based on how my kids interact with it. Thankfully, combining them is fairly easy even for a kid. The legs take a bit of effort to seat properly, and the pterodactyl can be a bit finicky, but it goes together largely in the same manner as before. I actually like how securely the mastodon clips on with this release, though I hate how easily the legs of the mastodon pop off. The tail of the T-Rex also no longer has a joint towards the end of it so it sticks up more pronounced than before and isn’t particularly pleasing to the eye, but it’s not a big deal. You can also still do tank mode, but it’s just as janky as before and more of a novelty than a fun way to play.

The tyrannosaurus continues to be the only zord that’s any fun solo, though those new, red, knee, pegs are an eyesore.
The mastodon turned out kind of junky on its own and it differs most from the original as the head is now all black, but at least it functions very well as the arms of the Megazord.

Once together, the Megazord does very much look the part. Once again, we’re missing some of the details of past releases, but it’s certainly far from an ugly thing. The face is where some extra paint would have really been welcomed as that vintage Bandai release just looks sharp. And, of course, the sword sucks, but I already mentioned that. What is better than before though is the articulation. The classic Megazord can’t do much of anything, but this one at least has some joints. The arms can rotate and raise out to the side a bit and the Megazord now has elbows! It can bend them about 90 degrees and also swivel too. At the legs, it can kick forward and back still, but it also can fan its legs out slightly for a wider, more natural, stance. The legs also swivel there as well. There are no knee hinges, unfortunately, but you can swivel the lower legs at the knee pegs. The only thing missing that really should be here is a head swivel. It just seems like that would have been a very easy and cheap thing to include that would have really added some personality to the poses available because even a kid wants to put this somewhere prominent in his or her room when it isn’t being played with.

Tank Mode is still a thing, if you care.
I had to pull back so damn far to get that whole sword into the shot.

Obviously, this thing doesn’t scale at all with the figures in the Lightning Collection. Even the original doesn’t and in order to scale properly it would likely need to be six feet tall. It’s big enough at around 9″ tall though that I think it can be a reasonable centerpiece in your MMPR display. And if you’re ambitious, you could paint this thing up into something a bit more special. Hasbro sculpted most of the details one would expect, it just didn’t bother to paint them. As a toy, it seems pretty neat, to me. Admittedly though, my kids haven’t played with this much since Christmas and my daughter even told me she wants to play with my Megazord, not this one. Go figure. I think she just likes the sheer size of the original one, and as easy as it is to transform this one, it’s a bit easier for her to transform the original. Mostly I think it’s just a case of her being more familiar with that one and not wanting to take the time to get to know this new one.

The sculpt work is mostly there, it just needs a little love from a paint brush.
It’s a little smaller than the original, but also trimmer and less statue-esque.

If you’re a Lightning Collection fan that wants a Megazord, this is certainly an affordable option. It’s not a collector grade release though and that shows. Even with light play, some of the decals are already starting to peel on this one and that’s disappointing. It’s possible the same will happen for those who just set it on a shelf and forget it. The biggest thing this release has going for it is obviously the price and availability. A Bandai one from 93 will probably set you back a couple hundred dollars, while the Legacy Collection release is a bit cheaper, but also not as nice as the original and it suffers from a lot of the same shortcomings as this one. And then there’s the Soul of Chogokin Megazord which I think retailed for something like $350 and is no longer in production so it’s likely to cost even more than that now. This set is for kids and casual fans that need a Megazord, but don’t want to break the bank. I’ve seen this one getting dumped on a bit by collectors, but at $45, I think it’s pretty good. I definitely wouldn’t recommend displaying it in dino mode as the individual zords aren’t terrific looking, but who would do that anyway? As long as your expectations are reasonable, I think this will please most who buy it.

Definitely a more posable release.

If you are a collector looking to add a Megazord to your collection, you will soon have some more options. If you just want a posable Megazord, Super7 recently announced that it has gained the Power Rangers license. The company has already shown some vinyl, minimally, articulated Megazords, but it will be doing zords in its Ultimates! line and I can only assume a proper Megazord will arrive at some point. They’re doing the tyrannosaurs first though, and I don’t think they can do a combining Megazord so it figures to be a stand-alone zord. I could be wrong, but time will tell. Grabbing this Hasbro one at $45 doesn’t feel like a tremendous risk to me, but if you can wait, maybe hold out to see what’s coming.

Whether it’s a permanent part of your display or just a placeholder until something better comes along, the Hasbro Megazord is certainly an affordable option.

Freaks and Geeks

The credited main cast of Freaks and Geeks (left to right): James Franco, Jason Segel, Linda Cardellini, Seth Rogan, John Francis Daley, Martin Starr, Samm Levine

I can remember hanging out with some of my friends at another friend’s house back when I was in high school. I think it was 2001, and we were just riffing on some music when one of my other friends entered the room and remarked that we reminded him of some characters from the show Freaks and Geeks. It was the first time I had ever heard of the show, and I can’t even recall which characters he referenced (probably the geeks). We then all watched Galaxy Quest and had a shared infatuation with Sigourney Weaver’s blond wig.

I never would seek out Freaks and Geeks, even though I valued the opinion of my friend when he said it was a good show. It was short-lived though, which implied that it wasn’t very good, and I was at an age where I was spending most of my time playing video games and not watching TV. If I was going to watch something, it was going to be something animated or maybe Jackass or a CKY video. Over the years though, I would hear more good things about Freaks and Geeks, especially as the cast started to find success in film. I don’t think I ever really talked about the show with anyone in-person and most of the chatter was just all online. I was quite curious about it, but by the time the DVD set came out I was less interested. It was also expensive since it included a lot of licensed music and I didn’t want to get invested in a show that was going to end after 18 episodes. I was late to the streaming platforms, and this was a show that I just never would make time for. Recently, Hulu added it and they got the broadcast cut with all of the licensed music in place (I believe some prior streaming options omitted it), and being that it’s winter and COVID is still a thing, I found myself with plenty of time to finally get to know the characters of Freaks and Geeks.

Lindsay is looking to make some new friends and Daniel is her gateway to just that.

Freaks and Geeks is a sitcom set in the school year of 1980-1981 that aired from 1999-2000. It was created by Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, The Heat, Ghostbusters (2016)) and executive-produced by Judd Apatow (The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Funny People). It was the success of Apatow directed films that really brought posthumous attention to Freaks and Geeks, for the show had a relatively short existence. It’s a show about teenagers and school life with a young, mostly unknown at the time, cast that found itself in primetime on a broadcast network. Network shows set in high school weren’t unheard of in the 90s, but they were usually relegated to the Fox Network which prided itself on being different from the big three of ABC, CBS, and NBC. That network’s hit teenaged show was Beverly Hills 90210, which was more of a soap opera than a sitcom and starred a bunch of beautiful people who looked way too old to be in high school. Freaks and Geeks was set in an unremarkable suburb of Detroit and featured quite young-looking actors (for the most part) in much more of a grounded, real world, setting. It also found itself on NBC and in the unusual position of being a primetime sitcom that was an hour long. I don’t know how Feig and Apatow were able to convince NBC to give them an hour on television in 1999, but they did it somehow. Unfortunately, there was a changing of the guard at NBC in between the show being picked-up and it going to air, and the new boss wasn’t a fan. The show was a critical darling, but it wasn’t a huge ratings hit in terms of 1999 numbers and it was cancelled after 12 episodes. Fans actually had to petition the network to get the remaining 6 of 18 episodes aired, which did happen over the summer in 2000, but on cable.

Since leaving the airwaves of NBC, it would seem Freaks and Geeks has garnered nothing but praise from both critics and viewers, alike. It’s young cast which would have quickly aged out of high school meant that the show was probably never destined for a long run, but it certainly deserved a second season and it would have been a treat to see where Feig and Apatow took things, especially considering that the show was really hitting its stride at the end of its lone season. I suspected that would be the case as I went into the show and it was one of the reasons I resisted it for so long as it always sucks to get into a show when there’s no hope of seeing what would have come next. It’s basically a slice of life type of show so there really was no way for it to ever have a truly satisfying conclusion, but it certainly would have been nice to at least see the cast graduate from high school or something.

Freaks and Geeks may have wound up on the radar of many a comedy fan thanks to Apatow, but it’s the cast that will keep viewers around for 18 episodes. It stars Linda Cardellini as Lindsay Weir who is a high school junior that has always been a gifted student. Academics come easy to her, but when the show begins we find out she recently lost her grandmother and it’s brought on a change in attitude. She has stopped socializing with some of her childhood friends and dropped off of the Mathletes program, a competitive math team. She’s also taken to wearing an old, olive, army jacket and has her sights set on making some new friends. She’s basically been living a life devoted to pleasing the adults in her sphere and setting herself up for the ideal future most parents want for their kids and is now likely having some regrets. She wants to have other experiences while she’s young, and she looks to the so-called “freaks” of her school for that kind of fulfillment.

Busy Philipps (front left) is not part of the opening credits but her character, Kim Kelly, is very much a major player on the show.

Cardellini has gone on to have a successful career in Hollywood, but it’s her co-stars that make up the freaks that have become household names. The freaks are basically just the slackers and kids who have no real academic ambition and just have their sights set on enjoying themselves and one day getting out of their small town. The first one we’re introduced to is Daniel Desario played by a young James Franco. Daniel is Lindsay’s gateway into his circle of friends, which all seem to at least know her from the start, but aren’t close with her. The most eager of Daniel’s friends to get to know Lindsay is Nick, played by Jason Segel. Nick is clearly attracted to Lindsay from the start and plays the nice guy routine. He’s an aspiring drummer and idolizes the likes of Jon Bonham and Neal Peart. Seth Rogan plays Ken, who is more of a sarcastic wallflower at the start of the series who gradually becomes more involved as the show progresses. Daniel’s girlfriend, Kim (Busy Philipps), is the only one who takes a combative posture towards Lindsay’s associating with their crowd. She presents a problem at first as she doesn’t understand why Lindsay suddenly wants to associate with them and finds the girl boring.

Much of the first several episodes are spent on Lindsay trying to fit in with her new group of friends while they try to figure out what she brings to the table. Other forces in Lindsay’s life try to pull her back towards academics or the Mathletes. She struggles to find her place as she’s rather open to discussion and being introspective while her new friends almost all avoid any form of conflict. The only one who doesn’t is Kim, but the others just seem to brush off anything she does or says while Lindsay can’t help but take things personally. As viewers, it’s hard to find much to like about Daniel and Kim early on. They seem eager to take advantage of Lindsay, who has had a more privileged upbringing and access to more of everything, while they come from troubled backgrounds and broken homes. Much of the Lindsay/Kim dynamic gets settled in the fourth episode “Kim Kelly is My Friend.” It begins a bit too familiar with Kim seemingly using Lindsay to her advantage as she wants her mother to see she has made a wholesome friend, or someone her mom will approve of. By the end of the episode they seem to find a new understanding and the title of the episode feels like a true a statement. Plenty of the remaining 14 episodes demonstrate a deepening of the relationship between Kim and Lindsay as Lindsay begins to find her own place. Other episodes, like the following “Tests and Breasts,” put the focus on Lindsay and her relationship with another member of her circle of friends, such as Daniel. Just about every character gets a spotlight of sorts early leaving the rest of the episodes to examine other aspects of school life, relationships, and the like.

Left to right: Bill, Sam, and Neal comprise the geeks portion of the show.

As the title of the show implies, there are two social groups the show focuses one. We’ve discussed the freaks, now lets talk about the geeks. The geeks are, as you probably could have guessed, a more nerdy group who are a bit outside the popular crowd like the freaks, but for different reasons. The group begins the series as a trio and includes Lindsay’s younger brother Sam (John Francis Daley), Neal (Samm Levine), and Bill (Martin Starr). All three are freshmen and in that awkward stage where their shared interests are being forced to compete with the onset of puberty. They’ve always been comfortable with who and what they are, but now are beginning to doubt themselves and all to a different degree. Sam is the most conflicted and confused by everything. He’s a sweet boy who likes the comedy of Steve Martin and Bill Murray and also enjoys Star Wars and playing Dungeons & Dragons. He’s also sweet on Cindy Sanders (Natasha Melnik), but she’s a cheerleader unlikely to ever view him as a romantic possibility. Sam questions if his enjoyment of the nerdier things in life are keeping him from attracting someone like Cindy, causing him to contemplate rejecting them. Meanwhile, Neal is the Jewish son of a dentist obsessed with comedy, but also is very much interested in women. Given his background, it’s not hard to imagine both Feig and Apatow seeing a bit of themselves in Neal and his uncompromising attitude towards finding what’s most funny about a situation or joke, He’s also probably overconfident in his ability to be a real Casanova. Even though he has no luck attracting women, he’s fairly certain that he’ll grow up into someone who is not challenged by such at all. Bill is the most secure in his nerdy ways. He’s not that interested in popularity, and while he likes girls, they’re definitely not a priority at this stage of his life.

The two cliques cross paths at times in the show, but for the most part their stories are self contained. Sam and his friends have their problems to deal with, while Lindsay and her friends have their own. They’re both able to be quite relatable, though this is coming from someone with a bit of a freak and geek background myself, so maybe this show plays differently for someone who was a jock in high school. There are a lot of ongoing plots that the show is willing to just let simmer in the background like Sam’s pursuit of Cindy and some problems at home for both Neal and Bill. For Lindsay, there’s a bit of a “will they or won’t they?” towards her relationship with Nick. She gets caught in a relationship quite quickly with him as a result of her feeling pity for him, but she keeps up appearances by convincing herself that since he’s a nice guy he’s worthy of being her boyfriend, and that’s never a healthy way to begin a relationship. It gets called off after a few episodes and tension is allowed to play out for the rest of the season. It’s definitely something that would have continued into a second season, though at the same time, it’s not exactly a Ross and Rachel situation as I don’t get a sense that the audience is rooting for things to go one way or not. Then again, I was never into Friends and I get the sense most people dislike Ross so maybe it is the same? Nick is at least likable, but it’s reasonable to doubt if he’s right for Lindsay.

I love Tom Wilson on this show. I would have been very interested in seeing how he was utilized in a second season.

The main cast of teens and young adults is great. They absolutely are capable of carrying the show, but thankfully they also don’t have to. Making up the rest of the cast is an assortment of utility players. Lindsay and Sam’s parents Jean (Becky Ann Baker) and Harold (Joe Flaherty) are excellent as parents that try to be supportive and keep their kids on the straight and narrow, but also stumble. Flaherty is particularly terrific in his portrayal as Lindsay’s father as he tends to get frustrated with trying to relate to his daughter quickly so he just makes demands that are only partially effective. He changes as much as the kids as the episodes roll along and anytime an episode lingers on him it’s for the better. It’s reasonable to wonder if he would have followed in the footsteps of other TV dads and taken on a bigger role had the show continued. Dave “Gruber” Allen is also perfectly cast in his role as counselor Mr. Ross. He spends a lot of time trying to keep Lindsay on the path she was on before the show began, but unlike some of his fellow teachers, he doesn’t exactly discourage her from hanging out with her new friends. He doesn’t consider them lost causes and tries his best to be a positive influence on their lives. He’s just a great character because most people can probably remember someone like him from their adolescence. Possibly my favorite member of the recurring characters is Tom Wilson’s Ben Fredericks, the coach and PE teacher the geeks tend to find conflict with. It’s just great to see Wilson outside of the Back to the Future franchise even if he’s playing a Biff-adjacent type of character as it’s not hard to imagine Biff becoming a hard-ass of a gym teacher. He gets a lot opportunity to show his range though leading to some really nice scenes with both Sam and Bill.

As I alluded to at the start of this post, the music licensed for the show plays a substantial role in evoking the spirit of 1980. Every episode begins with Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation” as the main cast is shuffled quickly through a picture day setting at school. Over the course of the first 5 or 6 episodes we’re exposed to the entire self-titled Van Halen debut album, which must have been pricey on its own. There’s also numerous other cuts along the way, some that come as expected while others are a bit of a surprise. It’s mostly era appropriate too, though as a former punk rocker back in the day I feel obliged to point out that Daniel at one point ends up with a copy of Black Flag’s Damaged several months before it was actually released. Music plays a large role in the lives of the freaks as well since they start their own band playing mostly Cream covers. They all have an appreciation for Led Zeppelin and in the last episode Lindsay discovers The Grateful Dead. In an era where televisions only had a few channels and video games hadn’t quite taken over, music was a huge past time for kids and it’s great to see that reflected in the show.

There’s a lot of loose ends when the credits roll on season one, like where Lindsay and Nick’s relationship is heading, but sadly we’ll never get to see how that stuff would have resolved itself.

Freaks and Geeks consists of a simple premise, but one that is frequently hard to execute. It’s difficult to find kids and young adults who can actually act, and while few members of the cast were actually high school age at the time of shooting, they were all close enough. And they’re all really good! It’s not surprising so many have received bigger roles in the years since the show came to an end, some of which were roles from Apatow, but also many found their own way through the entertainment industry. The show is funny, but also captivating. It’s not afraid to be honest with its characters and it tackles some pretty interesting subjects. The only one that I felt stumbled a bit was the requisite drug episode when Lindsay is worried Nick is addicted to pot, which seems kind of ridiculous, but they are kids, I suppose. There are issues of parental infidelity as experienced by a kid and also the issue of one’s mother dating an adult her child is familiar with and not exactly a fan of. Like a lot of Apatow’s movies, the show is rather adept at putting its characters into uncomfortable and awkward situations, for both them and the audience, and we have to see how they untangle the knots. Mostly though, it’s just enjoyable to watch these characters, and the show, grow over its 18 episodes. Some of that growth is intentional and some of it is just the natural progression of a show discovering itself and coming to a greater understanding of what it is, who inhabits its world, and where everything is going. The show was cut down too soon, but the final episode does at least have a touch of finality to it, especially for what I consider the two main characters of Lindsay and Sam. I wish there was more, but I’m happy I finally took the time to watch what we have.


Hero Cross HMF Donald Duck #006R

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!

I have coveted the Donald Duck figure from Hero Cross for a few years now. If you’re not familiar with the company, Hero Cross is a toy manufacturer based in Hong Kong that specializes in hybrid figures that utilize both plastic and metal. Their main line is called the Hybrid Metal Figuration series, or HMF for short. They have managed to accumulate a few different licenses for this line of figure, and one of those licenses happens to be Disney. For Disney, Hero Cross has mostly stuck with classic characters, but has also branched out to include Pixar. My main interest though lies in the ducks, and in particular, Donald.

Donald Duck, for as prolific a cartoon character as he is, doesn’t have a ton of action figures to turn to. The best ones are based on his appearance in Kingdom Hearts, but that’s not a franchise I have a ton of affection for. It’s fine, but my Donald is not a wizard. Phat Mojo did a Donald in its line of DuckTales action figures based on the relaunch of that series, but it was a short-lived line of figures and the company never got a chance to improve upon its initial offering. There is one in that Disney Infinity relic of a toyline that the Disney Store sells, but it’s not great. There was also a Donald action figures based on his appearance in Mickey’s Christmas Carol, but that was quite a long time ago now and that thing is lone gone. If you want a collector grade Donald Duck action figure right now, it’s basically Hero Cross or bust.

The size of the box relative to the size of the figure makes the toy seem huge!

Hero Cross first released a Donald Duck action figure in either 2016 or 2017. Being that it’s a Hong Kong import, a licensed product, and it includes metal components, it wasn’t cheap. I kind of found out about it late when my options were sketchy eBay listings or ordering direct from Hero Cross, but shipping was going to make the figure cost well over $100 at the time. I reluctantly passed, and that didn’t help matters as the figure was eventually retired from production and it only grew more expensive. Then last summer I was sitting on my couch watching TV late at night when a Twitter post from the podcast DuckTalks alerted me to the fact that Hero Cross was taking pre-orders for a new version of its Donald figure. Dubbed a V2.0, this Donald Duck was going to largely be the same as the one previously released, only now it was going to come with three unique heads and rather than sculpt his hat onto them, the hat would be removable and attach via a magnet. I kind of didn’t care about the changes, I was just psyched to have another chance at this figure and I pounced on it. The cost was around $60 for the figure, plus around $30 to ship it from Hong Kong, so it wasn’t much cheaper than what I had passed on previously, but this time I had buyer’s remorse. I had to pay upfront, and then wait.

The somewhat generic licensing art gets the most attention, but check out the comic art in the background!
The product shot on the side panel reveals a pose I’ll likely never achieve with my figure. Read on to find out why…

My Donald finally arrived in January of this year. The production cycle was a long one, but the shipping ended up being lightning quick since it was via FedEx Air. It left Hong Kong on a Thursday and was at my house in Massachusetts on the following Monday which is pretty incredible. Donald comes packaged in a simple, but effective, window box. It’s a royal blue with a Donald Duck logo done in orange. On the side of the packaging are product shots, one of which showcases Donald’s fancy new hat, and some licensing artwork on the back. It’s a no frills, but striking, box though it’s so small relative to the figure’s size that I don’t know how well it would display for a mint-in-box collector, but like most packaging these days, it’s pretty easy to reseal.

Check out the duck butt!

Donald Duck stands a little over 5 1/2″ tall. I was pretty surprised by how big he is. I kind of new how tall he was, but I also had avoided reviews and such because this line was completely new to me and I wanted the whole experience to reflect that. Not only is he a bit taller than I thought, he’s also just more substantial. I expected weight due to the metal, but he’s a thick duck. The metal parts appear to consist of the arms and legs. The head, hands, body, and feet are vinyl. It mixes pretty well, though the legs are definitely a lot shinier than the plastic feet. And with the metal there’s always a concern that paint will scratch or flake off and there is a tiny scratch in the knee joint on my figure’s left leg, but largely the paint looks pretty nice. Donald has a very round, smooth, head which is the biggest different from his initial release which featured an angry head that had some ruffled feathers. I obviously don’t have that figure, but based on images I’ve seen, that angry head is probably better than the rest so I kind of wish I had it, but it’s fine. This Donald does have an angry head too, but it’s smooth like the other two heads.

New for this version of Donald is a removable hat!

I think this Donald looks pretty nice, all things considered. I’m a little surprised with the sculpt of his shirt as the flap on the back of it is molded to the main part of the shirt. I would have expected it to be an actual flap and I think it would have looked better. Instead, it kind of reminds me of a Donald bath toy my kids used to have which was solid vinyl. He is depicted in the current licensing art colors, which as an old school Donald fan, is not my preference. That means he’s got a blue shirt and hat with gold buttons and trim and a red bowtie. I would have preferred a black bowtie, as that is what he usually wore in the classic shorts. I also would not have minded him in his comic black shirt. It’s not a big deal as this is definitely Donald Duck. The metal legs also do not hide the joints at all, so it is something you just have to get used to. It’s hard to argue with the end result though which is that this figure has a really strong base and he is not going to fall off of your shelf. The metal also gives him a high quality feel, which is necessary for a figure that retails for $60.

He can move, but can’t quite nail his classic hopping mad pose.

Being that Donald is a collector grade action figure, he features several points of articulation. Hero Cross totals it at 20 points, and it’s pretty substantial for a character with a unique body shape. Donald’s head sits on a simple ball pegs and it can move around quite well. He can look up, down, tilt, you name it. At least the default head (we’ll get to that). There is a joint at the base of the neck that provides a little more tilt, but it’s negligible. The shoulders are ball-jointed. He can raise his arms out to the side and rotate all around, but be aware of rub with the vinyl body. There’s a biceps swivel and a single hinge at the elbow allowing him to bend his arm 90 degrees. The hands are on pegs affixed to ball joints. There’s a hinge in there and they can rotate all around and tilt a bit in every direction. There’s a waist joint that appears to be a ball joint. It’s under the shirt and pretty generous, but again, I worry a little about the blue shirt rubbing the white vinyl lower body and leaving some smudges behind if manipulated a lot. The legs are a bit odd, since he is a duck, as they’re affixed via ball-joints, but they basically just swivel and tilt a little where the legs meet the body. There are single hinges and the feet are on ball-pegs so they can roll around all over the place. The metal gives him such a strong base that he can easily stand on one foot or simulate a walking pose as long as one foot is flat on a surface. He’s not terribly dynamic in his posing options, but that is more a limitation of the character’s shape than what Hero Cross did.

Donald can be happy, kind of mad, or very mad.

Donald comes with extra parts, but no real accessories aside form his hat. He has three heads: an open mouthed happy expression (default), a frowning expression, and a slight frown with his eyes looking left expression. Of the three, I definitely like the angry one the most as I think of Donald as just a grumpy, angry, character. Sadly, that head is the one that is the hardest to work with as the other two pop on and off with no issue, but the angry is super tight. Once on, it doesn’t really want to move much, but for a figure destined for a shelf it’s not a big deal. As for hands, Donald comes with a relaxed, open, left hand and a stiff, open, right hand (basically a hand wave). In the box are a pair of fists, a relaxed, open, right hand, and a pointing right hand. Missing is any kind of gripping hand, but in order to get those you had to get the box set release of Donald’s nephews. It’s a decent assortment that leaves room for improvement. A company like Bandai has taken to making the eyes swappable on its figures and that would be pretty neat with Donald. A more modular approach that allows eyes, bills, and such to swap is intriguing, but at least he doesn’t have any unsightly seams in his head. And Hero Cross is definitely going for as seamless an aesthetic as possible. The swappable hands make for some decent variety in the available poses, but there is a problem there that detracts from the figure.

Fuck.

And that’s they’re a pain to remove. And they’re such a pain, that mine broke not long after I opened it. I tried to remove the waving right hand he comes packaged with in favor of one of the others and it felt pretty snug. The head was easy to remove, and being that this just sits on a peg, I really wasn’t too concerned with breaking it. I applied consistent force, and tried wiggling it a little and the peg just came right off behind the ball joint of the wrist. The actual peg is really small as it’s basically a half-circle instead of a full one. My guess is they do it this way to make sure it doesn’t interfere with the the ball-joint in the wrist, but it’s pretty odd. Mostly though, I was super bummed, frustrated, angry, you name it, to finally get this figure only to have it break within a half hour. It feels like such a high quality item that it lulls you into a feeling like it couldn’t possibly break with normal interaction. Falling off a shelf is one thing, but trying to take advantage of a basic function? That surprised me. I honestly felt a little sick when it happened because I know how far this had to travel to get to me and how expensive it was just to ship it here, so I wasn’t expecting any help to come from Hero Cross. And if any did, I expected it to come at a cost.

Fuck! Fuck! FUCK!

Upon breaking, I reached out to Hero Cross via email and via a form on their website. No where could I find any information on quality control issues or refunds, so I wasn’t feeling too great about it. I reached out on Twitter and DuckTalks, the same podcast that brought this release to my attention, suggested messaging them on Facebook as that appears to be a place where they interact with their customers the most. Hero Cross did not respond to my initial email, but it did to the form I filled out online. After sending photos the correspondent told me they would check with the factory about a replacement arm. I didn’t hear anything for a couple of weeks and reached out again, and they basically said the same thing as before. Then a day later I got an email saying they had good news: there were spare parts available in the factory and they would send me a new arm! They confirmed which arm I needed, my address, and sent along instructions for swapping it out.

This was the only pose that felt appropriate for the past month.

About two weeks after that, my new arm arrived in the mail via USPS. The arm is connected to the figure at the shoulder and held in place by a screw. It’s an interesting setup, but an easy one to work with without fear of breaking anything. Upon removing the screw, the shoulder comes apart as it’s two pieces of molded, painted, plastic. Once apart, the bicep can pop out and I swapped in the new arm that Hero Cross provided, replaced the plastic piece, and screwed it back together. Hero Cross sent an extra upper arm piece, but it was for a left arm. Maybe they anticipate people scratching or ruining that bit of plastic during the removal process, but I had no issues reusing the same one. They did not send a new hand, so I had to take the old hand and get the peg removed somehow. I basically just grabbed the ball it sits on with some pliers and tugged away. It was in there pretty snug and it was a pain, but I got it off. It helped that I didn’t have to worry about damaging the ball any longer. With Donald reassembled, he basically looks as he’s supposed to. After the reattachment though I’m left with a pretty loose biceps swivel. The screw feels snug so I don’t want to risk stripping it, but it could just be a case of the factory getting that in better than I can. It kind of sucks, but better than a broken hand.

It’s an odd construction as you can see the peg sits way up inside the hand. Worse though, only half the diameter of the peg is fused to the ball joint and that piece is expected to withstand the force of removing the hands many times over. The rear of the ball joint is fused to the peg in the arm in the same fashion. There’s no need for the hands to be so snug on a collectible intended for adults.

With the peg finally extricated from the hand I finally got a look at the thing. It’s long and sits way up inside the hand. It’s honestly a surprise to me that these breaking isn’t a common occurrence, but then again, I don’t know anyone who owns this particular figure so maybe it does break a lot? Even putting another hand on this new peg is a struggle, and you can probably tell in my post surgery photos of the figure that it’s not quite seated all the way. I’m basically afraid that once I get the hand on it won’t come off without breaking again.

Back together, so a reason to smile!

Given all of that, I have had no appetite to test the left hand. Hero Cross was kind enough to replace one defective piece, I don’t really want to test my luck with a second. And it is a credit to them that they stand by their product and are willing to send replacement parts across the Pacific at no cost to the consumer. I was heart-broken when my figure broke, so I’m happy to have that remedied. It doesn’t necessarily fix my confidence in the figure though. If a figure is designed to have a certain feature, that feature should function without a risk of breaking the figure. After my experience with the product out of the box and seeing how this hand joint is constructed, I can’t say I have any confidence in the feature working properly. I am at least happy that the swappable heads work all right, as that is more important to me than the hands. It also helps that this figure does not need to hold anything so the hands do not serve a function other than to change the pose. And while I definitely would like to have the freedom to do so, I can at least accept what I have here.

I can’t quite get that right hand to fully peg-on, but it will stay on, at least. And I don’t know that I want to seat it all the way as then I may never get it off again.
“Come here!”

What my experience with this figure did do for me is make me less likely to purchase more figures in the line. When I ordered this one, I was toying with the idea of adding the nephews and taking advantage of the gripping hand they come with, but now I’m less interested. And playing a role in that are new offerings on the way from other toy companies. Since placing an order for this figure, Super7 has launched a Disney Ultimates! line of figures. Only the first wave has been shown and it includes Mickey Mouse, Prince John, and Pinocchio. Their interest is in underserved characters (as far as collector grade action figures go) from the company’s animated films, so Donald Duck may not be a high priority for them right now, but he’s also insanely popular and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if we get a Three Caballeros Donald or something. Beast Kingdom has also unveiled a Donald Duck figure in its Dynamic 8action Heroes line that looks rather promising. It features cloth goods instead of sculpted clothes and is something that is definitely on my radar. It doesn’t have a release date or a price, but the company is taking orders for a Sorcerer’s Apprentice Mickey and the MSRP is about $70, with a deluxe version at $100. Collecting Donald Duck figures isn’t going to get any cheaper any time soon, but it’s nice to have options.

“What are you smiling about?!”

Ultimately, I do not regret my purchase of the Hero Cross Donald Duck. The likeness is good and he certainly looks nice on a shelf. This figure probably won’t scale with any other lines, so that’s kind of a bummer, but also not a standard I think is fair to hold it to. I’m sure it scales fine with other Hero Cross HMF releases like Scrooge McDuck and the nephews. And there may come a day when I decide I do need to place him with some friends on a shelf, or maybe he’ll just be a featured piece in a more robust Donald Duck display (because, lets face it, I’m probably getting the Beast Kingdom figure and would definitely grab a Super7 one). This figure isn’t the ultimate Donald Duck figure that I wanted it to be, but it’s still worth having for a Donald Duck enthusiast like myself.

“I’ll get you, you little devil!”

S.H.Figuarts Bulma’s Motorcycle (Dragon Ball)

Looking around my basement office and thinking back on all of the various toy reviews I’ve done over the years has made me realize that I’ve never done a vehicle review. Vehicles are not all that common in the collector community, usually they’re more of a kid’s toyline occurrence. That doesn’t mean they aren’t fun when they do come along or that I’m not interested in them, they just need to convince me a bit more of their worth and work in a display. Oh, and they need to not cost an arm and a leg. And recently, the cost of vehicles is a hot topic in the collector community and it’s a topic that probably isn’t going away as NECA is expected to unveil a Turtle Van in its Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line at some point this year.

When it comes to Dragon Ball, there are a handful of vehicles that come to mind. Especially in Dragon Ball Z where Vegeta and the other Saiyans travel through space in those adorable little pods. There are a few other spaceships and the occasional car as well. In Dragon Ball, there were arguably more vehicles, though I don’t know that many are truly memorable. They were more of a necessity though as in that series few characters could fly so if they wanted to traverse the world they needed help. And the character usually able to aid the most in that regard was Bulma and her wonderful assortment of capsules. The famous Capsule Corp that her father founded created the technology to store vehicles, homes, food, you name it, in tiny capsules that could recall the product in seconds. It’s a fun concept for a television show and an especially convenient one if you don’t want to have to explain how the characters manage to carry so much stuff with them on their adventures.

Hooray for stuff!

One of the earliest capsules we see in the show is Bulma’s number 9 – her motorcycle. After Goku smashes up her car, Bulma is forced to turn to the bike to resume her journey for the seven Dragon Balls and Goku comes along for the ride which is essentially how the story begins. Bandai decided this moment was important enough to be immortalized in plastic and commissioned a version of the bike for its S.H.Figuarts line of products.

I hadn’t even thought of it until I got this set, but the capsule Bulma is holding is the #9 capsule so nice forward-thinking on the part of Bandai.

When Bandai first showed the bike I thought it looked great. When I saw the functionality that would be built into it and the accessories it came with, I was further convinced it would be a fantastic item to add to my Dragon Ball collection. When I saw the price, I was a little less enthusiastic. This bike retails for between $70 and $75, which is almost twice what the actual figure of Bulma costs. I knew I liked it, but did I like it enough to spend that kind of dough on it? Thankfully, a clearance sale at GameStop made it easier when I scored the set for 25% off. I had to wait a little while for it to arrive as apparently a lot of people were like-minded and the product actually sold out and my order was changed to backordered, but eventually GameStop came through.

She’s a beaut!
It’s almost a shame that the nicest part of the sculpt is arguably the tech around the handlebars, since that’s an area that doesn’t really show when displayed.

The bike comes in the same window box packaging we’re used to with this line. It has some nice product shots on the front and is using a white and teal color scheme. Once removed, the bike can either stand on its own via a working kickstand or be placed on an included stand. It’s about 7 inches long and scales well with the Adventure Begins Bulma figure that I reviewed last year. In fact, the bike is intended to work with her and even includes some new parts for that figure. The handlebars are functional and turning them will cause the front wheel to turn. The overall look of this bike is just fantastic. I love the rounded edges, the clean, white, finish, and the big, oversized, tires. The rear wheel is noticeably larger than the front wheel and we do have some diecast parts added in, such as the kickstand. There’s some nice sculpting down around the handlebars and the clear, curved, plastic, windshield removes easily to position a figure on the bike. There’s not a ton of paint on this thing, but since it’s basically white plastic I think it looks fine. There’s colored plastic for the turn signals and clear plastic for the non-working lights. The decals are all very cleanly applied and this is just a very pristine looking item.

Let’s go for a ride!
A frontal view of the happy teen.

The bike does roll on those tires which appear to be made of rubber, or a similar substance to rubber. They’re not as squishy or bouncy as some rubber tires, but it definitely isn’t a hard plastic. If play is your thing, you absolute can place a figure on this bike and have a good time. Since this is a collector line though, my guess is most will want to place this on a shelf. And if you do, the kickstand works fine. It’s quite tight, so tight that I doublechecked the included instructions to make sure it was meant to function before I really laid into it. The bike is probably too heavy to have a figure support the weight of it with one leg Akira style, but you can easily fudge that with the stand. The base of the display stand Bandai included is a simple plastic circle with the Capsule Corp logo printed on it. There are two inserts and there are three different stands to choose from that plug into the base. One stand is a simple straight up and down stand so the bike looks like it’s in motion. There’s an angled stand to make the bike look like it’s turning which is pretty neat and can be angled for either a right turn or a left one. And then there is a third stand that’s the wheelie stand which raises the front wheel higher off the ground than the rear. It’s a great variety of poses available and if there’s any room for complaint it’s that maybe the wheelie stand could have been more exaggerated, but at least as-is there are no stability concerns.

Left turn stand.
Wheelie!

In addition to the stands, we get some extra parts. There are two gripping hands for Bulma since she didn’t come with plain, old, gripping hands before. Interestingly, both hands are painted when normally the flesh-colored hand is just plastic. It’s strange because if ever you wanted to avoid having painted hands it’s with hands that will be gripping handlebars. The color looks a little off compared with her arm, but it’s not terribly noticeable. There’s also a new skirt piece for Bulma since her other skirt really wouldn’t allow for her to sit on a bike. This one has ridges in it for her knees to fit into to create a more natural sitting pose. Bulma simply separates at the waist to facilitate swapping the parts. It’s easy to get her apart, but a little frustrating getting her back together again as you need to contend with the skirt and her belt. There’s also a swappable rear seat on the bike which is easy to make use of. The extra set has a peg on it and it’s for our last accessory: a terrified kid Goku. This Goku, unlike the actual figure, is in-scale with Bulma so he’s pretty small. He’s a little painted guy with some very minor articulation at the head and tail. He’s meant to just be along for the ride and looks pretty great. I suspect many will pose the two on their shelf with Bulma sporting her terrified expression as the two pop an unexpected wheelie.

Goku seems to be enjoying himself.
It’s a bit crazy to see just how small Goku would have to be to be in scale with Bulma.

For a premium price you should expect a premium product, and Bandai delivered with this release. Not everyone is going to want a motorcycle in their Dragon Ball display, but any who do are likely to be very happy with this release. Especially if you’re able to get it on clearance like I did. It’s well made, high quality, and Bandai included basically everything it needed to. Whether you have Bulma sitting on it, or standing beside it, the big going to attract attention to your display. Maybe some will wish Bandai had gone even further and included some electronics, but I’m happy to not have had to pay for that since that’s something I’d rarely use. If you want Bulma to have a bike though, this is pretty awesome!

“Come on, kid, please put it down!”

TMNT Loot Crate #3 – The Cartoon One!

It’s finally here!

When the second of 3 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles themed Loot Crates arrived in December it had me thinking that #3 was pretty far off. To my surprise though, the gap between #2 and #3 ended up being less than what was initially forecast had the release schedule held true. And that’s great because the third and final crate in this series was the one I was looking forward to the most because it’s the cartoon themed crate. Crate #1 had a Mirage Studios theme while #2 had a video game theme (there was also a one-off crate before the first one that was movie themed), but Loot Crate chose to save the most anticipated crate for last.

And it’s a big crate!

The cartoon crate, which is based on the original 1987 cartoon series, was probably always going to be the most popular because it’s the cartoon that folks seem to have the most attachment to from a nostalgia point of view. That doesn’t mean it was destined to be the best though. For me, it was my most anticipated because I was in love with the exclusive NECA figure included: Bunny Rocksteady. And if you prepaid for all three crates from the start, you got a bonus figure: Bunny Bebop. At the time, we actually only knew about Bebop who was teased with a silhouette image while we knew Rocksteady would be the figure in the actual crate. It made sense that it too was Rocksteady in an Easter Bunny costume as seen briefly in an episode of the cartoon. It’s just the sort of goofy variant that I enjoy. While a repaint of the Mirage Shredder for crate one was pretty bad ass, it was the bunny boys that sold me on the entire crate subscription.

My view upon opening the crate.

Since this is Loot Crate, the figures are not the only thing featured. We’ll save those for last, but first let’s talk about what else is included. These things, in my opinion, are largely just junk. The stuff isn’t cheaply made or anything, it’s just not practical, for the most part. There’s always a shirt, which is fine, but then an assortment of things like pins and keychains. If you like that stuff, great, I personally do not desire it. Still, Loot Crate has surprised a bit by including a decent tumbler in the first crate and by including the fun television accessory in the second crate, so what’s crate #3 have in store for us?

Oh boy, a coffee mug!

First of all, this crate is huge. It’s much bigger than the other two and I assume that’s mostly due to the fact that it has two figures in it instead of one. It has a sticker on it featuring Bebop and Rocksteady as Easter Eggs. For those who are only getting Rocksteady, I don’t know if they got a smaller crate with a different sticker or if they got the same. As mentioned before, it’s cartoon themed and also apparently Channel 6 themed as well. This is similar to the first crate where a lot of the stuff had a TCRI theme and that logo was repurposed throughout. For this one, Channel 6 appears in three places: in the window box for the bunnies, on a trucker hat, and on a mug. The mug comes in its own box which features the Chanel 6 logo and the same artwork of April we saw on the two-pack release of her figure. It’s kind of an ugly April, but the box for the mug has the same Turtle Van coloring the figures come in along with the Channel 6 blue, white, and red logo. My box was pretty beat up which is unfortunate because I want to display this in-box since my house is full of coffee mugs. The mug itself is your standard mug with the Channel 6 logo. It’s not bad, but I feel like every house has a surplus of mugs and there are better TMNT mugs out there anyway.

For anyone who wants to cosplay as a Channel 6 cameraman.

The Channel 6 trucker hat is pretty basic. It’s just a snapback with the Channel 6 logo on the front. The logo is clean and attractive, but like the mug, I have a ton of baseball hats so I’m probably never going to wear this. I’ve placed it on top of my glass cabinet which contains some of my action figure collection for the time being.

This mug is fine, but it has virtually no chance of unseating my Donald Duck mug pictured in the background.

We also get some pins (you can see them in the first pic of the open crate)! These have been in every crate and this one comes with two pins on the same backboard. One features the baghead of a Crooked Ninja Turtle gang member and it’s kind of funny. The other is the somewhat forgotten mutated form of one of Bebop and Rocksteady’s cohorts, Scrag. He’s the sunglasses wearing, mutant, bat, punk, from the second or third episode of the series. He and the other punks are only shown once on a monitor and never seen again.

A pretty cool Shredder, not consistent with the theme, but cool nonetheless.

Next up, we have a notebook and sticker sheet. The notebook seems pretty thin and small, but it does feature some cool artwork of Shredder on the cover by artist Freddie Williams III. It’s not a depiction of Shredder from the show, but his interpretation of the character. The sticker sheet features a bunch of wanted posters of various gangsters from the show: Don Turtelli, Big Louie, Mr. Big, Mad Dog McMutt, Jersey Red, and human Scrag. These might be fun to incorporate into the cartoon diorama whenever it releases, but at the end of the day, they’re just stickers.

Stickers…cool.
Arrived in time for the figure, so you can match!

Lastly, we have the shirt. I was kind of hoping for another long sleeve shirt, but we get a t-shirt. It’s a yellow Mondo Gecko shirt and it’s designed to just look like Mondo Gecko’s actual t-shirt from the show which was basically the same as the one worn by the vintage Playmates action figure. It’s cool, and I like that they didn’t just put some TMNT licensing art or whatever from the cartoon on a shirt and did something unique.

It’s been a long wait, but it’s finally over!

All right, let’s get to the bunnies! These guys arrived in the same crate, but packaged in their own window box which largely resembles the packaging for the two-packs sold at Target. The backdrop this time is an exterior shot of Channel 6 and there’s product shots on the sides. On the back is a huge cross-sell that would have been up-to-date had it dropped in November (as originally intended), but is now missing the recent Rat King vs Vernon set. Bebop and Rocksteady are essentially the same figure with a different head. This isn’t at all surprising given the costumes they’re sporting and also because their regular release in NECA’s cartoon line was essentially the same figure just with different stuff layered over it. For this release, NECA redid the shoulders to include that tuft of fur on each and also redid the feet so they have oversized, rabbit, feet. The legs are recycled from Leatherhead as he had a smoother sculpt compared with the original Bebop and Rocksteady. The grooves in the wrists where their bracelets were previously have also been filled with white plugs. It’s noticeable up close, but I wouldn’t call it an eyesore. The main torso has been outfitted with a soft, plastic, overlay to simulate the rabbit costume and a cowl has been attached to each head. You could probably get this cowl off if you wanted to, but it’s glued on and who knows what would be left behind. The back of the head has been painted to match the cowl and it’s even possible the sculpts were cut to better fit the cowl. I doubt, for example, Bebop has his mohawk and ponytail. Plus, there’s already an uncovered head with each of the regular figures so why bother?

I love that cross-sell. I wish they would do this on all of their releases rather than just include the four most recent releases.

If you saw my NECA rankings a few weeks ago, then you know I love the Bebop and Rocksteady figures that NECA put out. Much of that love is for the overall aesthetics of those figures because they look ripped from the cartoon. It’s not necessarily for the engineering. Unfortunately, these figures are the same in terms of engineering so prepare yourself for some stuck joints. It’s probably exacerbated by the face that it’s pretty damn cold out too so my boys arrived feeling quite frosty. Considering these are limited release figures, you will want to be extra cautious. If you can stand to do it, maybe even let them just hang out for a day at room temperature before opening. If any joint though is even the slightest bit stuck, take it to a heat source. Be it a heat gun, hairdryer, or simple hot water – it helps. And if you’re like me, you might just do that anyway before attempting to really move anything because cold plastic can snap with little warning. And if these guys snap or break in any way, there’s no guarantee that Loot Crate will be able to replace it. My Bebop also came with a partially broken nose ring. It’s cracked, but not quite all the way through, but cracked enough that there’s a gap. If I could match the paint I could possibly seal it with paint. It’s a bummer, but not a big enough issue for me to seek a replacement or anything, and I doubt one would be available if I did. As long as I don’t mess with it I think it will be fine, but it just makes me a little more nervous about falls so these guys are going on the bottom shelf of my cabinet, for now.

This makes me happy.
Look at those adorable little tails!

When you do get these guys all loosened up, you’ll find their articulation is okay, but maybe not great. The head is on a ball peg and can rotate a bit, but the cowl is going to impede movement. They can’t really look up or down much as a result, but they still have articulated jaws and Bebop’s eyeglasses can flip up to reveal the horror beneath. The shoulders are on ball-hinges and will probably be quite tight. The elbows are double-jointed and the hands just peg in so they rotate and have hinges. There is torso articulation in the diaphragm, at least I assume there is because there was with the original figures. It’s rendered moot because of the way NECA did the costume. They didn’t want to create a new torso, so they made a soft, plastic, shirt of sorts that covers the joint. The hips though are the worst part because these were strangely engineered from the start. They’re a mix of a peg and disc system with ratcheted edges. This makes them hard to work with and also really limited. The figures that came after these boys that used the same base switched to a double-barbell system and it’s bizarre to see that wasn’t carried forward here. The knees though are double-jointed and the feet might be on balls now, but they hinge and rock fairly well.

The busted nose ring makes me sad.
Ok, now I’m happy again!

What it comes down to, is we have two figures that aren’t particularly dynamic, but are certainly far from being statues. What’s important to me is the aesthetic of this ridiculous bunny costume which the articulation doesn’t interfere with. They’re meant to just sort of hang out and look silly, or maybe pose with a gun to emulate what was seen in the actual show. I do wish they used the updated hips and I also wish they had just re-painted the torso so we still had a functional diaphragm joint. That probably would have required at least one, new, sculpted piece if NECA wanted their bellies to protrude like they do here as the base abdomen was absent a potbelly. It’s obvious that the cost of one of these crate figures needs to be under the standard release, so it’s not a surprise, but I can still be a little disappointed by it. What they did do well was paint these guys and match the hinges to the proper base color. Rocksteady, in particular, seems to have denser line work on his face when compared with the first release and he really stands out. I should also note they’re a little bigger than before since they’re using Leatherhead’s legs. I have Bebop at close to seven and a half inches with Rocksteady at an even seven. Once you factor in the ears they creep over eight inches. And I love that their cowls are unique to each and Rocksteady has a bent ear like he did in the show. Both also have little, pink, bunny tails on the rear and overall NECA just nailed the look with hilarious results.

A close-up shot of the accessories.
I prefer guns to the remotes.

What’s an Easter Bunny without a basket? NECA certainly felt it was necessary to include such as each figure comes with a basket full of eggs. It’s the same accessory, but painted different to distinguish the two. I like Bebop’s a little more as his eggs are more colorful, but it’s a sharp, little, accessory. They also come with this remote-like device that Krang outfitted them with. I think it hypnotized people or something, but it basically just looks like an old school TV remote. It’s a tiny piece of plastic that likely didn’t cost much and it’s cool to have. They also come with the same array of hands as before. Each comes with fists in the box, plus a right trigger finger hand, a left gripping hand, and a set of open, stylized, hands. The open hands feature additional pink paint on the palms which is a nice touch. They can hold their baskets with either the open hands or the gripping hands and both gripping hands are suitable for the little remote. Chances are though, you have some extra rifles laying around you can outfit the pair with. I have them with the Triceraton guns for now, but I might switch them to the laser rifle which is a better match for what they were wielding in the cartoon.

Let’s bring in the old figures. You can really see the change in height here.

In the end, this Loot Crate is a lot like the others, which is to say it’s dependent on the action figures contained within. The shirt is something I will wear and I may have a use for the stickers since I did order a cartoon diorama for my display, but other than that I don’t expect to use anything in the crate. The figures though are awesome and the fact that the bonus figure was integrated into this crate makes it an easy pick for best crate in the series. I signed up for the Loot Crate subscription based on that one, single, silhouette, of bunny Bebop and I have not been let down. I very much enjoyed the Shredder as well, and the Shell Shock turtle is at least unique, even if it’s not something I probably would have bought at retail. These two I definitely would have purchased as a two-pack at Target or wherever. NECA’s approach with these figures is to make them fun, but not essential, but for me a goofy variant like this is damn near essential. It harkens back to the days of fun Playmates variants, only this pair actually appeared in the cartoon and wasn’t just made up to sell a toy or promote the invasion of Iraq, or something weird. Hopefully everyone who wanted these guys placed an order, because the after market is the only place to get them now and it’s going to cost you.

“Hey Boss, we brought you some colored eggs!” “I’m surrounded by idiots…”

This concludes the Loot Crate subscription for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but another is surely on the way. When will it be announced? Probably fairly soon. I think this one was announced in early spring 2020, so the next could come around then too. Based on an interview with NECA’s Trevor Zammit via the Fwooshcast on YouTube, it sounds like a batch of four with the same or similar theming is on the way so that means movie, comic, video game, and cartoon. It could change, but that seems like a safe bet. And my mind is already trying to imagine what figures will be included with those crates. It will likely be awhile before we know, but my overall experience with this series was a positive one so I will certainly sign-up again when the time comes.


NECA TMNT Cartoon Rat King vs Vernon

This might not be the mismatch you think it is.

When I last reviewed a NECA Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles two-pack it was the Splinter vs Baxter Stockman set and I referred to it as potentially the last essential set for some. The key word there being “some” as I am not “some” and didn’t consider myself “some” when I wrote that, for there are more essential characters from the venerable cartoon as far as I am concerned. And the list of those remaining starts with the Rat King!

These two come packaged in the same window box we’re used to at this point. We’ve got character likenesses on the front which aren’t from the show, but are probably from the licensing art that Viacom has for the show. Rat King’s likeness looks pretty good though, and Vernon looks fine though it draws attention to the fact that he’s a cowardly sort, but his figure doesn’t depict that. NECA opted for something else which I think most will enjoy more, though. The rear features a cross-sell which just displays previously released figures so if you were hoping for a tease of what’s next you’ll be mistaken. And not to get ahead of myself, but I actually don’t know what’s next. It could be the deluxe Muckman, Mondo Gecko and Kerma, or our first punk frog two-pack. Time will tell.

Hey Vernon, the viewfinder is on the other side of the camera, buddy.

Rat King was cool, to put it simply. Some weird dude living in the sewer with a bunch of rats who has a unique look and speaks with this lethal sounding whisper. That patchwork costume, the double-wrapped face, he was creepy which made him a lot of fun on that old show because I was never creeped out by Shredder, Krang, or really any other villain. Most of that show was full of comic relief types, but Rat King had a different aura about him. He was a bit mysterious and his motives less defined than someone like Shredder. He wasn’t in a ton of episodes, but certainly enough to be memorable.

Look at that smug asshole.

And then we have Vernon. Oh, Vernon, the character you love to hate. Or maybe just hate – I don’t know. He was April’s co-worker and was sometimes behind the camera for on location shooting, but I feel like mostly he was just hanging around the Channel 6 headquarters acting like a dick. He was always telling April she was doing something wrong or going about something in the wrong way. At times he was portrayed like a rival, but mostly he was just a dick, and a cowardly one at that. Because he’s not a real villain or anyone that gets into fights on the regular, some may question the need for a Vernon. For me, he was a character that had a presence on the show, and he was in far more episodes than your garden variety villain. He is essential, for a different reason than someone like Rat King, but essential nonetheless. As is Irma, whom I suspect is not too far off.

Now Rat King vs Vernon? That does seem like a bizarre way to sell a two-pack of action figures on the surface. Mostly though, ignore the presence of the word “versus” and it starts to make sense and certainly the extra accessories for Vernon bring that home. There was an episode of the cartoon where both Irma and Vernon were exposed to mutagen via Rat King which caused the two to mutate. Vernon, a character who really only needs a camera and maybe some extra hands, in his mutated rat form is pretty interesting and since it was only his head and forearms that mutated, it was also really easy to work into this two pack.

“April!”
Get behind the camera, Vernon!

Vernon comes in right around the 6″ mark, actually a little over, and is featured in his classic attire of pink shirt, blue tie, and blue jeans. There’s even that little case on his belt which has an unknown purpose. Today, it makes me think of a cell phone case, but no cell phone in 1988 is going to fit in there. He sports a happy, yet cocky, expression that conveys his dickishness quite well. He comes packaged with gripping hands, but he also comes with these open, expressive, hands and a pointing, right, hand. His main accessory is a big ole Channel 6 camcorder with a big display on the rear. It’s much larger than the handheld that came with April as Vernon’s is the shoulder mounted style. The handle is articulated and can fold up so it looks appropriate when Vernon carries it by the top handle when he’s not shooting. You can kind of finagle it onto his shoulder too with his eye near enough the viewfinder and overall it’s a nice accessory.

“Oh please, sir, let me go!”
“No! What’s happening?!”

The best accessories though are definitely those were-rat pieces. Vernon’s arms detach at the forearm where they’re held on by pegs. His rolled up sleeves are a separate piece of plastic that fit over those pegs and can slide off if you’re not paying attention when prying the arms off, so be careful. Otherwise, they come off easy enough and the were-rat forearms pop right on with minimal fuss. Vernon’s head detaches at the base of the neck which is a little trickier to get off, but not as difficult as I was expecting. Be sure to grab the neck and not the head or else you might just pop the head off by mistake. I’m pretty sure it’s on a ball-peg, so you’re not likely to damage it or anything, but once the head pops off once it may pop off again with less effort which will only make it harder to get the neck off. Getting the rat head on is tougher and you should probably just heat it up before even trying. Once on though it looks great, and Vernon gains some articulation at the jaw too. It’s so fun that I’m torn on how I want to display this guy. I have a little bit more room where my villains are so he’s going there for now, but I see myself swapping back to regular Vernon and pairing him with April down the road.

If I’m being honest, he’s only slightly more intimidating like this.
He’s like Splinter with sideburns.

Articulation wise, Vernon is pretty familiar. He’s very much similar to April, even though I think he’s mostly all new parts. If he shares any parts with another figure in this line, it’s not obvious. His head is on a ball peg and so is the base of his neck so he’s got great range in that area. The shoulders are ball-hinges and he has the same double-jointed elbows as April which utilize a second ball joint above the elbow for a swivel. It’s kind of funky, but on figures with rolled-up sleeves like this it works pretty well. He has a swivel in the forearm thanks to the pegged in joint there plus the usual swivel and hinge at the wrist. His wristwatch is glued on, unlike April’s, so you don’t have to worry about it flying off when swapping hands. There’s probably some articulation in the torso, but his shirt is a soft plastic over a body and it steals any articulation that would be found there. And you really don’t want to mess with the diaphragm anyway since it would put stress on the shirt and possibly cause some cracking. He does have a waist twist and ball-jointed thighs that swivel. He has this rubber, “diaper”, over the crotch for his pants that restricts some of the leg movement, but it’s not too bad considering this is Vernon. He’s still capable of wide stances and such. His knees are double-jointed and you’ve got hinges and rockers at the ankles. Pretty typical, but technically a little more than we’re used to thanks to the forearm swivel. There’s certainly enough and I think he’s capable of plenty of expressive poses, which are aided by the extra parts.

There he is!
You can see a little of the brown paint smudges on the upper, inner, thigh

All right, let’s talk Rat King! I’m pretty impressed by Vernon, more so than I would have ever expected I would be for a Vernon action figure, but my focus is on Rat King. And he looks fantastic. This is the cartoon version of Rat King that I’ve wanted since I was a kid. I never had the Playmates Rat King, even though I wanted him, and I think that has made my desire to have this one all the more enhanced. He looks great though as NECA really nailed the likeness. He’s got this cocky grin with wild eyes and the patchwork nature of his shirt and pants just looks terrific. Again, this guy is mostly new parts because all of the stitching is sculpted in and there just aren’t many human males in this line. It’s basically these two guys, Casey Jones, and Shredder. He stands at about six and a half inches, which feels right for this line. Some characters have been either too short or too tall, but Rat King seems like he’s right on the money.

If you’re going to call yourself Rat King then you definitely need some rats.

The only area where Rat King could have been better is in regards to the paint. The actual paint job is pretty terrific. NECA also cast the hinges in the proper colors so when the paint flakes on those joints it doesn’t leave behind an eyesore. And it’s actually pretty clean, actually impressively so, considering all of the linework on this guy. It’s really just that diaper piece where things aren’t great. Before I even moved him out of the box I noticed paint rub on the back of his legs and inner thigh. It’s on the back of the figure so that’s obviously better than the front, but I have a feeling paint is going to rub off of that rubber crotch piece pretty easily so go easy on the thigh joints. I’ve also seen some people end up with cracking paint on that piece and when it flakes off it leaves behind a flesh color. Now Rat King basically wears rags so it’s probably not the eyesore it would be with another figure to see skin poking through, but I don’t know why they didn’t cast that piece in green to match the paint better. And it’s going to be an eyesore if you end up with a cracking crotch piece.

Bomb’s away!

We might as well talk articulation since it plays into that issue just discussed. Rat King’s head is hunched forward and on a ball-peg so it has the usual range of motion, but the hunch restricts it a touch. He’s got shoulder-hinges and biceps swivels and the stitching pattern goes all through both pieces so it still looks good in almost any position. He has double elbows and the hands rotate and have a hinge on them. He has a diaphragm cut that gives him some fun motion in the torso, though he has these straps going over his body which are a separate piece that you want to be mindful of. I don’t think he has a waist swivel. It didn’t turn and I don’t want to mess up those straps, so I’m going to assume it’s not there. His thighs are ball-jointed and, like I said, you’ll want to treat them gently. That diaper is going to limit how far his legs can move, even more so than Vernon because he’s thinner than Rat King, but my advice is only move him as far as that diaper wants you to and not beyond. There’s give there, and it will move, but you might not like the result. The knees are double-jointed and you’ve got hinges and rockers at the ankles. His articulation is fine. It could be better, and since they already had to sculpt so much new for this guy I wish they just sculpted a new crotch piece so they didn’t need that soft diaper, but he’s okay.

This has got to be Rat King’s ultimate fantasy right here.

For a figure with a lot of new sculpting, it’s actually surprising to see the amount of accessories that are included. For starters, Rat King comes with two, open, stylized hands in the box. He has a set of gripping hands he can swap to and a pointing, right, hand. He also has rats! He kind of needs them and he gets his own rather than sharing a rat with Splinter or something. They’re fun too as NECA gave two of them a curling tail so you can place them on the figure without the need to have peg holes. One fits very well on his shoulder, another can go around a bicep or leg and the third can go on his head or in his hand or something. If you place him on a shelf it’s then pretty easy to just place the rats right on him with little frustration. Rat King comes with his hypnotic flute that fits into his left gripping hand pretty well, less so the right one. He’s also got a bandolier that his soda can grenades fit into. He has two red ones and one blue one and it’s easy to slip over his head and the cans pop in and out easily. The cans also fit into his open hands well and look pretty cool. Lastly, he’s got the same gray cannister of mutagen the rock soldiers came with. He doesn’t need this, but I guess it’s good to have more? – EDIT: It’s actually not the same gray canister that came with Traag and Granitor, it just looks like it. This one can actually separate and there’s some pink ooze inside, so that’s pretty cool. And sneaky.

Here’s some size comparisons for you. Rat King with a turtle and one of the tallest figures in the line, Captain Zarax.
Here’s our dear rat boy with the same.

If it’s not obvious, I’m pretty much over the moon with this set. Both figures turned out well and they’re different from each other and from everything that’s come before so it just adds a little more excitement to the mix. They’re fun to pose with different characters. They can be with the Turtles, Splinter, April, or other bad guys. Vernon as a rat is really dynamic for posing opportunities and placement in a display. I really was tempted to buy two, and if Vernon had been packaged with Irma and she had rat parts too then I probably would have. I didn’t want or need two Rat Kings though, plus I don’t want to hog two sets for myself when they’re still hard to get. And that’s the last negative of the set, these are once again Target exclusives. We saw tremendous volume with Krang and the Splinter vs Baxter set because Target ordered direct from NECA to distribute on their own, rather than via NECA’s independent rep relationship. This set is back to that model so as a collector we’re back to stalking the stores when we know the local rep hits and hope for the best. I got lucky that someone on Twitter who follows me alerted me that the store near my house was just stocked late last Friday and I hauled ass to get there and get a set. If you don’t want to go to a store in the midst of a pandemic, I do not blame you one bit. An online drop at target.com is expected sometime this week which is why I’ve fast-tracked this review so I can get you that information! There is a placeholder page on Target’s website right now (search for NECA Rat King and make sure you select “include out of stock” in the filter to bring it up) and if you have the app you should go to it and turn on notifications. Sometimes those notifications work perfectly, sometimes they don’t, but it’s better than being left in the dark. Good luck out there and don’t feed the scalpers!

Run, girl!

Hasbro Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin Yellow and Pink Rangers

Today we complete a team.

Last week we took a look at the male members of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers from Hasbro’s Lightning Collection. Back when the show was red hot in the early 90s, all of the action figures of the Rangers were the same figure with a different head and decal on the chest. That isn’t going to work for a figure line aimed at both collectors and adolescents and Hasbro obviously knows that. That’s why they did a male body and a female body for the line and that’s why the women are getting their own write-up as today I’m looking at the Pink and Yellow Rangers from Hasbro’s Lightning Collection.

I am still a fan of the window box Hasbro uses for this line, but what’s with that awful posing on Kimberly?

The Yellow and Pink Rangers sharing a body sculpt makes sense, though it also kind of doesn’t. The Yellow Ranger was sort of infamous from this era because Saban chose to cast the late Thuy Trang as Trini Kwan to portray the teenager under the mask. Of course, she was never really under the mask as none of the American actors were since that was footage taken from Japan where the Yellow Ranger was portrayed by a male actor. There are some pretty humorous images online too that really drive that fact home. Technically speaking, the action figure of the Yellow Ranger should probably utilize the male body type, but since American audiences associate Trang with the role it would be kind of weird to have a very masculine Yellow Ranger on our shelf. This figure is already not screen accurate because of this choice, and yet, I think it’s the right move and it’s not something I’m bothered by and I can’t imagine anyone is.

I wish I could get my Pink Ranger into that straight a stance.

Trini and Kimberly use entirely new parts when compared with their male counterparts. Despite that though, they’re still engineered the same way so the figures feel pretty familiar. They’re just more slight than the men with thinner limbs and smaller hands and feet. They obviously have unique headsculpts and Kimberly differs from her teammate in that she has an extra piece of plastic for her skirt piece as she was the only female Ranger in the Japanese version. They stand at about five and three quarters inches, which is roughly half an inch shorter than the males. They look pretty good in relation to the male figures, though I think you could argue Hasbro went a little too far in slimming these two down. Their limbs probably don’t need to be quite this slight as these are pretty athletic women, and the thinness of the limbs apparently necessitated a compromise when it comes to the articulation. Their proportions also look less appropriate than the men. I can’t decide if it’s the torso that is too long, or the legs. Something just doesn’t look quite right to me and I notice it more with Kimberly than Trini.

These women are packing heat, albeit in an unconventional fashion.

Like the men, these figures mix colored plastic with painted plastic. And like the men, it’s a problem. With Trini, she mostly looks okay. The yellow is quite bright with her torso being ever so slightly darker than the limbs. I have to be looking for it. Kimberly is another story. Her torso is quite a bit darker than her limbs to the point of being near purple. The pink on her helmet appears to be a completely different shade of pink, as does the skirt. She’s a mess, and to make things worse my figure was quite bow-legged out of the box as she comes packaged in a rather awkward position. I had to heat her legs up to try and straighten them out and they’re definitely better now, but not good enough. Trini is a lot more interesting to position and move. Her paint is fine and she might be the cleanest one I’ve received. It also helps that yellow paint slop just isn’t going to be as obvious as a darker color, but it’s good.

The articulation here is not as good as it is with the male figures, but you can still have some fun.

The articulation with these figures is nearly the same as the male ones, but it also works a little differently due to the sculpt. We’ve got a ball-peg at the head, hinged shoulders, elbow swivel, single-jointed elbows, and swivel and hinged hands. Shockingly, Kimberly has a vertical hinge on her right hand for her bow. I don’t know what it is about a bow that made Hasbro decide she needed this hinge, and the others didn’t, but at least they got one hand right out of 14 in this line. Trini, sadly, still has horizontal hinges to deal with. The women having single-jointed elbows instead of double-jointed ones is something I can only assume was brought on by the thinness of the arms. Hasbro used a hinged, ball, peg system so that’s why they have a swivel at the elbow instead of a biceps swivel. It’s a bit more awkward looking, but the figures can still curl their arms past 90 degrees so it’s not a huge downgrade. The diaphragm cut is where things get a little worse. It’s still a ball-joint, but it’s far less effective. There’s a lot of gapping when the figure arches back and the range of motion in general is poor. I attribute this to the lower portion of the torso not sitting further inside the upper piece. The ab crunch is also still here, but even more useless than with the men. The belt floats and can be adjusted and for Kimberly it’s attached to the skirt. The hips flare out, since these are women, and reduces the range of motion there. The men couldn’t really do a split, and the women are even worse which is a shame as I feel Kimberly’s signature move was the jump-split-kick. There’s a thigh swivel and double-jointed knees to go along with a boot cut and ankle hinges with rockers. The ankles are still the star of the show. Overall, the articulation is okay, but definitely worse than the men. Kimberly’s skirt also further reduces her range down there and her bow legs make just standing straight like the phony product shot on her packaging impossible and far less elegant than it could be.

Kimberly does have a regular arrow, if you prefer it to the pink, zappy, one.

Trini comes packed with a pair of gripping hands for wielding her Power Daggers. The little sai-like knives look fine and she has no trouble holding them, she just misses the proper hinges for her hands. Kimberly has her Power Bow with a gripping left hand to hold it and the specialized right hand for knocking an arrow. She also has a silver arrow she can hold, but it doesn’t work particularly well or look all that good. She also has an energy arrow which is far more accurate to the show and easier to wield. And it also looks a hell of a lot better than the silver arrow. It’s a translucent pink with the form of an arrow at the front and looks quite good. Trini has two, yellow, translucent, sparks for her daggers that make me think of pom-poms. They’re fine and it adds a little flair to her posing.

A more traditional form of “heat.”

Like the men, both women come with a second set of hands and a Blade Blaster. For Trini, she has another gripping right hand that is meant to be used in tandem with the Blade Blaster. She also has a style pose left hand that’s similar to a karate chop. Kimberly comes with a left fist and a style pose right hand in the same shape as Trini’s chop hand. This is pretty smart on Hasbro’s part as it gives the women a set of stylized hands to share, should you want to. And I seem to recall at least the Pink Ranger using such poses in the show. Neither woman comes with the collapsed Blade Blaster or the knife version, which is a bummer because the blaster version doesn’t fit Kimberly’s holster as well as it does the other Rangers. Curiously, Kimberly’s blaster is painted differently from all of the other ones opting for a metallic silver instead of white. I think this actually looks better, but it drives me a bit crazy that hers is different for no apparent reason. She also doesn’t have a proper trigger hand and neither default hand works particularly well with the gun.

Tommy, your girlfriend – woof!

Of course, both have a second, unmasked, head. Thuy Trang’s likeness is okay. I at least know it’s her, but it’s not as good as Jason or either Tommy head that came with his figures. Kimberly looks awful though. It does not look anything like Amy Jo Johnson to me. The hair looks fine, so I guess she’s not as bad as Zach since both his hair and his face looked terrible, but it doesn’t really matter if she’s as bad as Zach since she’s still bad. It’s a good thing I don’t value these optional heads because I’d be livid if I did. Their long hair also makes articulation much trickier than before. Trini is okay, but Kimberly kind of locks in place once seated so she basically can’t move her head in this form, but you’re not going to use it so who cares?

The various power weapons join forces to vanquish evil! Yes, I had to look at a reference image to remember where everything goes.
In case you prefer something akin to a side view. The bow gets a little cockeyed doing this.

Since these are the last of the Mighty Morphin figures I will review, it feels like a good time to talk about how the weapons work. Just like in the show, the weapons can combine to form a clunky looking mega blaster of sorts. The axe is the base and the bow clips into the front of it while the sliding action on the axe serves to hold it in place. The daggers and Billy’s twin, mini, tridents peg into the underside of the bow while the sword slots on top of the axe and bow. It’s easy to assemble, though a little tricky to get one of the figures to actually hold it properly. I was able to finagle the pose from the show with Billy and Zach grabbing one end of the bow apiece and the women basically just placing their hands on Jason, so it’s doable. There’s no screen accurate blast effect packaged with anyone though, but that probably would have made it far more difficult to pose with added weight on the front. This gun has always looked kind of silly, but I love crap like this. I love that the weapons combined on the show and I would have been irritated if the toys could not do the same.

Megazord? We don’t need no stinkin’ Megazord!

The female portion of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers brought with it a mixed bag. Generally speaking, this sculpt does not function as well as the male figure and that’s disappointing because there’s no reason why it shouldn’t work just as well. Despite that though, I’ve actually enjoyed posing the Yellow Ranger. Her weapons are simple, but not restrictive, so she has a lot of freedom. I’m also happy with her paint as she turned out about as well as the White and Green Rangers. The Pink Ranger though is another story. Her articulation is slightly worse, but what bugs me more are her warped legs and mismatched colors. She’s definitely the worst of the bunch and what’s working against her is I never liked her helmet in the show very much. She looks like an alien or something. She’s not a good figure which sucks because she’s been the hardest to get. I had to pay over retail for her because Hasbro stopped shipping her, possibly because there’s a new version out done in a metallic paint with a different actress likeness. I’m curious if that one is any better, though the metallic paint made it a non-starter for me as she wouldn’t fit in with the rest of my display. And if I didn’t need her to complete that display, I wouldn’t have her. She’s the worst figure I’ve purchased in a long while.

Group shot! Yeah, I know, the presence of the White and Green Ranger makes little sense, but I don’t care!

But you need the whole team! And that’s where Hasbro gets you. They know they don’t have to hit a home run with each figure in this line because collectors are going to buy them no matter what since they want a full team of Power Rangers. And now that I have a full team plus the Green and White Rangers, how do I feel? Pretty good. This is a case where the end result is better than the sum of its parts. I have issues with these figures, some more than others, but I’d rather have a full team than just a lone Green Ranger. And even though the scale is obviously way off, I do like having these guys with my vintage Bandai Megazord which displays better with this set than it did the vintage sets. I suppose that would mean it’s “Mission Accomplished” on Hasbro’s end, and that’s how it is with mass market action figures. At least now, after almost 30 years, I finally have a set of Power Rangers toys!


Hasbro Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin Red, Black, and Blue Rangers

It’s morphin time!

If it wasn’t obvious after my White Ranger review, I have decided I need to assemble a team of Power Rangers on my shelf. Specifically, the Mighty Morphin era. I’ve already posted my thoughts on both the Green and White Rangers, devoting a write-up to each figure, but for today I’m going to do some combining. And that’s because I am basically going to just talk about three different versions of the same figure. The base Power Ranger male figure is the same for each one, at least for the Mighty Morphin figures. I assume the other teams are similar, but I don’t know that for sure because I don’t have any of them, nor do I intend to get any of them. These three though are the same, and they’re basically the same as the Green and White Rangers too, though those two had a few unique pieces due to the slight differences in costumes. Now I don’t intend for that revelation to be a knock on this line, toy companies reuse parts all of the time and when the characters are pretty similar there’s no need to re-sculpt everything just for the sake of doing so. The actors in the show who portrayed the “teenagers” who become Power Rangers were fairly distinct in terms of body shape, but the costumed Rangers really were not.

I like what Hasbro has been doing with their packaging. Simple, but elegant, window boxes.

The good news is, I generally liked what Hasbro did for the other Rangers I reviewed. If I didn’t then I probably wouldn’t have bought more. The molds aren’t cartoonishly bulky like the old Bandai ones and was more reflective of how these characters actually look on screen. You can still nitpick them here and there, but for the most part they look like what I recall seeing on television back in 93. The articulation is solid, the paint has been okay for a mass market retail figure, and each figure has come mostly with enough stuff. This time though we’re going into original five territory. These characters were even more uniform with really the only difference being the head and unique weapon. All of them, in the show, were also armed with what was called a Blade Blaster which was a little laser pistol that could turn into a bulky knife. These three should be pretty similar with some room for there to be a clear “best” and “worst,” but my expectation is if one is good then all three should be pretty good. And, of course, if one is bad then they will all probably be bad.

Though I wish they used actual product shots on the rear as opposed to renders. Good luck getting the Black Ranger into that exact pose.

All three Rangers come in the same attractive window box with some unique artwork on the front and side and product shot on the back. The box is also color themed to that specific Ranger and these would probably look just fine to a mint-in-box collector, and for you openers the packaging is fairly durable and can be resealed with minimal effort. Each figure stands a tick over 6″; we’ll call it six and a quarter. And each one is some combination of colored plastic and painted plastic. Since these figures are essentially just two-toned, Hasbro tries to get away with using as little paint as possible and it creates problems. The Black Ranger is the best of the three as black is pretty opaque and plastic painted black and molded black are going to look the same. The molded white and the painted white which shows up at the butterfly joint is a little off, but for the most part he looks good. There’s paint inconsistencies here and there, and one glove has an ugly smudge of black on it, but it’s something you kind of have to deal with as far as this line is concerned. Strangely, he doesn’t have a red ring on his morpher, something all four have, so this is clearly an error on Hasbro’s part. The helmet is at least clean and looks pretty sharp. It was always one of my favorite helmets in the show with the mastodon tusks curling under the visor and it’s recreated here pretty well.

I’m going to be humming the theme song as I drop images into this thing.

Unfortunately, the Red and Blue Rangers are not as good. On these two, the colored plastic and painted plastic is noticeably different. The torso on the Red Ranger in particular is way darker than his limbs to a distracting level. It’s readily apparent in box, and still when removed. When he’s posed on a shelf with his limbs in a more dynamic pose the effect is minimized a bit, but not removed. The same is true of Billy, our Blue Ranger, but it’s not as severe. Instead, he gets to introduce a separate issue and it’s with the white paint on his torso. It’s not nearly opaque enough and the blue plastic shows through it. It’s bizarre for this figure to have this problem when the black figure is fine. These figures were not all released at the same time so it would appear the factory just had a bad run when it came time to manufacture the Blue Ranger because he feels like the clear dud of this trio. He also has the worst helmet of the three too as there’s a paint chip on the center horn and the shape just looks a little off to me. It’s very round. There are some sculpted lines on it, but the plastic is so dark and glossy that they don’t show well. I wish Hasbro had added some paint to bring them out more like they did with the Black Ranger who has some added silver paint. He’s not awful, but this figure is definitely helped by the fact that I’ve always enjoyed the aesthetics of the Blue Ranger, but someone who doesn’t like blue as much as I do would probably have a harsher take here. The Red Ranger also would benefit from some more paint on his helmet to bring out the design.

Hopefully you can tell how dark Jason’s torso is vs his limbs and how thin the white paint on Billy’s diamonds are.

The paint on these guys is definitely a mixed bag, but at least they’re all the same when it comes to articulation. To run it down again, these guys have a ball peg at the head that gives them an acceptable range of motion. Up and down articulation is limited, but it’s fine. We’ve got a ball hinge at the shoulder with a butterfly joint behind it. The combination of molded white and painted white plastic with this joint is a little unsightly, but the range created by the joint is, for the most part, worth it. I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with butterfly joints. There’s a biceps swivel, double-jointed elbow, and the hands rotate and have horizontal hinges, which are bad for these figures. There’s a ball-joint in the diaphragm that provides some tilt forward and back as well as side-to-side. There is an ab crunch that’s mostly useless, and no waist swivel. I wish Hasbro would ditch the ab crunch and just go with a waist swivel. The legs are ball pegs and can kick forward, but not back. They also can’t do a true split, which kind of sucks for acrobatic characters. There’s a thigh swivel, double-jointed knees, a boot cut, and ankle hinges with rockers. The ankles are terrific and will be your best friend when it comes to posing these boys. It’s fine articulation on the whole with obvious room for improvement. Unfortunately, any improvement to it though will be a benefit to other iterations of the Power Rangers as I suspect Hasbro is not going to re-sculpt the Mighty Morphin figures anytime soon. Maybe when they do guys like Rocky and Adam they’ll retool some things, but it’s not something I’d count on. It also should be noted some are more stiff than others, though I can say no joints are loose. My Red Ranger’s elbows were also curved slightly which made working them a bit difficult. I ran them under hot water to try to bend the bow out and was mostly successful. His shoulder hinges are real tight though and he’s a bit more awkward to work with as a result.

The weapons turned out pretty well, at least.
This is the only blast effect among the five Rangers so if you want the combined blaster to fire this is your only option.

The accessories present the most obvious opportunity for these figures to separate themselves from each other as each Ranger had their own unique weapon. For Jason the Red Ranger, it’s the Power Sword. Zach the Black Ranger has the Power Axe, and Billy has the Power Lance. Very creative names, I know. Jason’s sword is just that, a sword. It’s fine, but the lack of vertical hinged hands makes wielding it properly more difficult than it needs to be. Hasbro also painted the handle black, so now I have black smudges on the inside of the hands. Definitely just heat those hands to make them soft when inserting this thing unless you want your figure to have dirty hands too. Zach’s axe suffers from the same hinge fate when wielded as an axe, but it also functions as a gun which the wrist hinges don’t impact much. And it’s pretty cool! It even has a sliding action on it so he can pump it like a shotgun. It’s probably my favorite weapon so far. Billy’s lance is fine, though it’s a bit flimsy so it will often have a slight curve to it. It’s blue plastic, so there’s less fear of rub with this one as the only paint is reserved for the silver trident tips and some minor details. Hasbro packed in separate handheld daggers for Billy as his lance could break in half. This was mostly for when they combine their weapons (which is something the figures can do if you buy all five Rangers), but he can wield these like sais if you wanted. It’s probably the smarter play than just having the lance separate as they would have had to have a separate middle piece that did nothing in order for the lance to be long enough. These weapons are good though, so no real complaints there. Each one also comes with an effects piece for their respective weapon. Jason and Billy have a lighting effect that is blue for both of them. Zach has a blasting effect for when his weapon is used in gun form. It’s a translucent red with sparkles and works pretty well, though it kind of looks like a pumpkin. It does add a lot of weight to the front of the axe so posing him can get challenging when it’s inserted, but not impossible.

Ready for a shoot out.
Zach is the only one who got the memo it was actually a knife fight they were supposed to show up for.

For the blasters, Hasbro continues to confuse. Each Ranger comes with a Blade Blaster in blaster form. It would have been pretty awesome if they could have made a transforming blaster (since the transformation was very simple), but that might have resulted in too fragile a piece so instead there are just regular blasters. The paint on them isn’t great, but the sculpt work at least looks nice. Zach also comes with a Blade Blaster in blade form. This is cool since it was something each Ranger had, though as a weapon it looked really stupid even to an eight year old, but it was in the show so I want the toy to have it. The blade though is permanently extended so it has basically one function. This sucks because in the show the Rangers would holster these weapons in blade form, but with the blade retracted (it was essentially an ugly switchblade). That means each Ranger can’t holster this weapon in a screen-accurate manner. I’m tempted to just snip off the blade, but that won’t solve the issue of the Red and Blue Rangers only having the pistol version. The pistol fits in the holster, but again, it’s not screen accurate and it bothers me. You can brush this aside by saying “Well, this is a line meant to appeal to kids too,” but kids care about that stuff! I was arguably more obsessed with things being screen accurate as a kid than I am now. At the very least, each figure should have come with this bladed version in addition to the gun, but Hasbro got cheap on us. It’s like they put it in with the Black Ranger just to wave it in our face that they could have done this the whole time, but chose not to.

Spare heads, if you want them. Though I can’t imagine anyone wants that Zach.
Yeah, I’m not going to use these.

Lastly, each figure comes with some optional parts. All have two sets of hands: gripping and fists. I appreciate the extras, but fists aren’t very exciting as optional hands. I’d have preferred maybe some chop hands or more style pose hands since these characters did a lot of that in the show. The other optional part is the unmasked head that comes with each. This is a good thing if that’s something that interests you, though I personally won’t ever use them. The likeness for each is based on their original actor so we have Austin St. John as Jason, Walter Jones as Zach, and David Yost as Billy. Of the three, Jason looks the best. It more or less looks like St. John. Billy’s head is okay. It’s a bit goofy and glasses are always hard to get right, but it’s okay. Zach though looks terrible. I don’t know what Hasbro was trying to do with this one. He had dreadlocks in Season Two and I guess that’s what they were going for with this one, but his hair just looks terrible and the face looks nothing like Jones to me. It’s bad. It’s probably a bummer for diehard collectors of Power Rangers who want to assemble a team of every actor who played these characters, at least for a casual fan like me it’s just an ugly lump of plastic that will stay in the box.

All right, it’s face-off time!
“Don’t worry, Tommy! I’ll save you by smashing in your face with my Power Sword!”

This collection of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is okay. I definitely do not like these figures as much as I did the White and Green Rangers, but I’m not feeling any buyer’s remorse or anything. They get the job done when put on a shelf, it’s when placed under greater scrutiny that some things start to fall apart. I think the Black Ranger is fine, ignoring his ugly unmasked head, and I’m mostly happy with how he turned out. The paint issues on the Red and Blue Rangers are my biggest complaints. I can handwave the inaccurate Blade Blaster and lack of vertical hinges for the hands, but the paint is a bummer because that affects the aesthetics of the figure just as much as the sculpt. The Red Ranger’s elbows, in particular, are ugly because they’re basically a candy apple red and the Blue Ranger has those poorly painted white diamonds on his chest. The thing I keep coming back to is that these are mass market retail figures priced at 20 bucks or less, in most cases. I shouldn’t even expect NECA quality with these things, let alone high end collectibles. Even with that caveat, I still think they’re a little disappointing because this is Hasbro and we know what Hasbro is capable of. Whether it’s Ghostbusters, GI Joe, or Marvel we’ve seen them do much better with paint and certainly matching colored plastic to painted plastic. I can’t recall ever having that be as big an issue with another line as it is here.

Hasbro is able to get a lot of important stuff right with these guys like the overall sculpt and articulation. They also realize that Billy should have a separate set of weapons for when his lance is separated. Then they go and mess up the paint and fail to include holstered Blade Blasters and just do some weird stuff that keeps these from being great. It’s frustrating.

Ultimately, you are free to like or dislike these figures. I suspect most will have mixed feelings, as I do, but I also bet there are some extreme reactions too. For me, I like the aesthetics of these sculpts more than I have any other Power Rangers products, so they work well enough. I always hated the over-muscled look of some of the Bandai figures because these guys aren’t Jim Lee drawings, they were just actors who were probably gymnasts first. If I thought Hasbro was going to do better I might have held off, but I don’t think that will happen unless they do some running changes when they get to the other actors, assuming they do. And if they do, I hope they just cast everything in colored plastic save for the hands and I suppose the boots. And they can also keep the white butterfly joint, I guess, though I think they can do better in color-matching that too. And if that happens, maybe I’ll sell these and upgrade (the Red and Blue, anyways), but maybe I won’t? These get the job done for me, I just think Hasbro can do better and I don’t blame Power Rangers fans if they want to hold Hasbro to a higher standard by ignoring these.


Hasbro Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin White Ranger

Looks like I bought another Power Ranger…

A couple of months ago, I purchased a Green Ranger from Hasbro’s Power Rangers Lightning Collection line of figures. The intent was to sort of replace my vintage Bandai Green Ranger following an unfortunate encounter with my children. I never intended to assemble a full team of Rangers on my shelf, but I am a fool. I was mostly impressed with that Green Ranger figure, and after weeks of seeing him all by himself on my shelf I found myself getting the urge to find him some company. Soon enough, I found myself scrambling to assemble the entire team of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, the only incarnation of the show I watched as a kid. And while I enjoyed the show, I lusted after the toys which were supremely difficult to track down and I never had a full team. I had a head-flipping Green Ranger and my sister had the Pink Ranger and I honestly can’t remember if we got anymore. Now some 30 years later I have the means to assemble a team and Hasbro is willing to throw this line out there for folks like me with arrested development.

No one wants to be lonely.

That original team of Power Rangers consisted of the following colors: red, blue, black, yellow, and pink. The Green Ranger was added shortly after the show started as a villain, who would soon become an ally. You’re probably aware at this point about the show’s unusual development. It’s a Japanese show called Super Sentai and what Saban, the production company with distribution rights outside of Japan, did was cast American actors to play the alter egos of the Power Rangers. They’d shoot that stuff in the US, and then just splice in footage of the rangers in action from the Japanese program and overdub the voices. Since all of the Power Rangers wore helmets, it was easy to dub. The problem with this format is that once you run out of footage you’re kind of screwed, and that’s basically what happened with the Green Ranger. To fix this, they wrote him out of the show by having him lose his powers. They then brought back the character of Tommy Oliver (played by Jason David Frank) as a new Power Ranger: the White Ranger! Only this was even weirder as the White Ranger was from a different iteration of Super Sentai so he looked quite different from the others and often found himself taking on the minions of Lord Zed by himself. This was all stuff I was not aware of as a kid or even noticed, but as an adult it’s kind of fun to go back and watch this stuff with that knowledge.

This is the standard packaging release. There’s also the slightly more fancy “spectrum” packaging sold at Target, but the contents are the same.

In order to assemble a team of Power Rangers on my shelf, you could argue I don’t need both the White and Green Ranger. Well, the White Ranger was one of the easiest to find on store shelves and I do like his design and I’m profoundly weak, so here we are! This figure is quite similar to the Green Ranger as they basically all use the same body as the base of the figure. Hasbro then gives each character a unique headsculpt and weapon while also modifying the sculpt where necessary. For the White Ranger, that means sculpting new forearms and boots as his gloves and boots feature gold cuffs that require new sculpting. He also has gold armbands that are different enough from the Green Ranger that he needs some new tooling there as well. The black and gold vest he wears is a soft plastic addition that just fits over the main body of the figure. He also has a distinct belt and scabbard for his sword making him the figure with probably the most unique tooling in the line as far as the Mighty Morphin brand is concerned.

Ready to throw down.

From a purely aesthetic point of view, Hasbro absolutely nailed this one. Even more so than they did the Green Ranger, who I felt looked pretty damn good as well. For starters, the helmet looks great. There’s a lot of fine detail on it and it would not have surprised me to find paint slop in this area, but it’s all really clean. It’s striking, and I like how his head sits on the body in tandem with the vest, or shield, or whatever that thing is. With the Green Ranger, I felt his head sat a bit too low and his torso looked a little too long, but I think that was caused by the presence of his shield and the White Ranger’s vest mitigates those problems. The sculpting and detail on the vest looks terrific as does the belt and other gold accents on the costume. The hands and boots both feature the same sculpting as the Green Ranger as do the other parts of the body so he has some folds and creases which really bring out that authentic look. The only visual flaw with my figure is the presence of a smudge or scuff on the lower, right, side of his vest that’s barely visible because it’s all black. I did see several of these figures at the store and not all of them were as clean looking as this one, so definitely try to pick him up in person if you want this thing rather than order online. Overall though, I’m quite pleased with how he turned out.

Can he stand on one foot? Hell yeah he can!

While the White Ranger’s sculpt may differ a bit from his green predecessor, his articulation does not. This figure features the same articulation as that figure, but I won’t make you go back and read that review to get a rundown. His head is on a ball-joint and he can look up, down, rotate, and tilt a little. The shoulders are ball-hinged and also possess a butterfly joint which the vest works really well to conceal. There’s a biceps swivel above that gold armband and double-jointed elbows. The hands swivel and have horizontal hinges, which we’ll talk about in a minute. There’s a ball-joint inside the torso that provides great tilt and range of motion and there’s an ab crunch below it if you really want this guy to lurch forward. There’s no waist swivel, but that diaphragm joint works pretty well and I don’t really miss it. You have ball-hinges at the thigh with a thigh swivel just below on each leg. The knees are double-jointed and you get a boot cut as well above the gold cuff. The ankles are hinged and also have terrific “rocker” action as they pivot easily from side-to-side. Really, the only thing I miss is a set of vertical hinged hands, or even just one hand, for proper sword wielding. That’s a fault with the entire line though and not something unique to the White Ranger.

The problem with a talking sword is you never know how to hold it.

The White Ranger comes with a few accessories, but a little less than what the Green Ranger came with. He has his trusty sword at his side, Saba, the weird, talking, tiger thing. It’s his signature accessory and really the only one he actually needs, but it might bug some purists when they find out that Hasbro took some liberties with it. The shape of it looks fine and is largely as I remember, but rather than have a white, tiger, face on the hilt Hasbro chose to paint it all silver. It’s cast in white plastic so maybe someone felt it looked too boring being in white, but it doesn’t really bother me. Again, I’m not a Power Rangers super fan or anything, so others may be bothered by it. The stripes are painted black and are relatively clean. One side of his face is gold, while the other is left silver. I think both sides should be gold and, but I don’t believe this is an error on mine as a quick search of other reviews seems to produce the same thing. I think it would have looked cool if they added a little red to his eyes. I think they would glow in the show, or maybe I just wanted them to. Overall though, it looks okay and it fits in his scabbard if you’re a monster and actually want to pose this guy without the sword in his hand.

He also has this thing for the end of his sword. Is it an energy effect that didn’t exist in the show or just supposed to mimic light shining off his blade? I don’t know.

Aside from Saba, the White Ranger just comes with some additional hands, head, and an effects piece. Out of the box he comes with a right gripping hand and a left karate chop hand. In the box you will find a set of fists. It’s weird that he doesn’t have a left gripping hand, but I guess Tommy was a righty. Since he needs to be able to hold his sword, I doubt most will make use of that right fist, but it’s there if you want it. And it’s good that I’m lukewarm on it because the right hand snapped out of the hinge joint when I tried to remove it. The break was clean and I was actually able to get the hand back into the the joint, but it was a bummer. The second head is an unmasked one, as is the case with all of the figures in this line. It’s Tommy, but with a pony tail which is appropriate for this era. I believe this head was also released with the first Green Ranger Hasbro did, but was then replaced with a more appropriate head in the single release from late last year. The likeness on it is fine, but I’ll never use it once this review is done. I also had trouble getting the helmeted head off of the figure, and after what transpired with the hand, I just cut my losses and let it be. This line is technically for ages 4 and up, so it’s probably cool for kids to have the second head as they play, provided they can actually get the other one off. Lastly, White Ranger has this blue effects piece. It’s very spiky and the plastic is translucent and it has a little slit in it so you can stick it on the end of the sword. I guess it’s supposed to be a shimmering effect? I think that’s what they were going for, but it doesn’t quite work.

Everyone does the pose with the unmasked Ranger holding their helmeted head, but how many do the opposite? This is the content you come here for.

The White Ranger is a pretty fine release. It’s a twenty dollar figure that has mostly great paint, solid articulation, an attractive sculpt, and enough accessories to make him feel like a complete release. If I’m being objective, this is probably a better release than the Green Ranger I reviewed last year, but I’m partial to that character so I don’t know that I enjoy this one more than the other. Basically, I think Hasbro could have done a little better with the hands and effects piece, but otherwise this figure checks all the right boxes. My only real complaint is a lack of a vertically hinged sword hand. I think that’s a problem for the entire line though, so for whatever reason, Hasbro just doesn’t like vertically hinged hands. And then of course the quality control issue I had with the hand is not ideal. The pegs connecting the hands to the forearm are almost needlessly long and in this case the hinge gave out before the peg could be freed. It surprised me because this guy had been out of his box for nearly a week before I really messed with him so he had plenty of time to warm up. I’m tempted to return this one for another, but the hand went back on fine and the hinge is functional so I’ll probably just keep it considering the paint app was solid. This guy is not exclusive to any retailer though and should be pretty easy to get ahold of if you’re looking for him, so get get him if Power Rangers are your thing.


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