Tuesday, September 25, 2012

3AA Rehel - Dragos Cloven Heart Version

As the 1/6 action figure market spirals out of control with ever increasing and unsustainably high pricing, I've started to turn my back on the hobby.  I've already stopped all Hot Toys purchases for the foreseeable future, and am starting to scale way back on even my core interest, Modern Military.  

What has kept a spark glowing in my collecting habits are the offerings of designer toy company ThreeA, which is co-owned by Australian comic book and graphic novel artist, Ashley Wood.

While 3A (as they are also known) hasn't been immune to the rising costs of plastic either, they've kept my attention thanks to their creative and imaginative subjects as well as their unique take on action figures.

I must admit, I was not impressed with the toys at first--I was hung up on realism and Ashley Wood's art tends to be highly stylized and sometimes over-the-top in design.  Yet, when Hot Toys decided at the height of their popularity that they could get away with increasing their prices with every single new release, it became clear to me that I was going to get left in the dust sooner rather than later, and I had to re-evaluate the hobby entirely.

Enter the Adventure Kartel!  Created by Ashley Wood and TP Louise, the AK was a group of odd adventurers brought together to fight all manner of monsters and robots.  Their story is told in short, vague comic strips included with the figures, leaving the rest of the adventure up to the toy's new owner.

Wow...how simple!  It's what got me into collecting G.I. Joes and other themed-toys in the first place.  Give me some characters and a little backstory and now I'm 10 years old again, excited to crack open my new action figure fresh from his (or her) plastic card and get them posing and beating the crap out of each other!

Today's review is of the 3AA version of the Adventure Kartel's newest member, Rehel.  In his spare time, Rehel is apparently quite the musician as he fronts a "Christian Devil Worship" band called Cloven Heart.   Under his stage name, "Dragos Eraphis", Rehel rocks out with his dark hooded sweat jacket, metal T-shirt bearing his band's name, and punk'd out hair.  Despite his rock god attitude, it seems like everyone in the Adventure Kartel except his buddy Tommy Mission thinks he looks a lot like a zombie!

"Who says I look like a zomb???"
 This is just a fun figure.  At first glance, he's pretty ugly, but upon closer inspection, you can see a lot of the details that make threeA toys enjoyable.  He's got great paint apps, especially with the natural weathering in his clothes and face.

He also has superb articulation, with tight joints and a wide range of motion. Check out the flamingo poses he can do on just one leg:

No wires, no leaning, no stand...just tight joints and balance.

The goofy look takes away some of the sting of Dragos' terrifying appearance, and the figure just ends up begging to be played with and put into funny situations.

Give him a 1/6 instrument, and he's ready to party!  Even a slightly underscaled bass guitar might work.

Maybe it's a violin?  A metal violin!
All in all, a great fig from threeA!

Rock on!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Crazy Dummy One Year Anniversary: US NAVY SEAL TEAM 8 GUNNER WITH MK48 MOD1

Today, I'm featuring a great military figure set from CrazyDummy (CD).  The "Anniversary" edition SEAL Team 8 gunner features a highly detailed MK48 Mod1 with desert camo and real metal parts.  CD invested a good bit of time and money on their own MK48 series and while their efforts have lead to a rather large glut of the guns on the market, seeing it included here is not such a bad thing.

Honestly, there are a number of good things in the box, starting with the HS.  While some might bemoan yet another 1/6 representation of actor Brad Pitt, CD did a nice job of sculpting his likeness and the paint apps are solid with clean execution and realistic tones overall.  The gear is solid as well, with very little QC or general quality complaints at all from me.  The AOR works well to me, especially if you use the included "RealTree"-style camo jacket, which really rounds out the look of the BDUs and makes it stand out from other modern desert unis released recently.

Perhaps the only thing that didn't quite work for me was the tan Oakley sunglasses.  While I appreciate it as an added value accessory, I don't think it looks right with this set.  I ended up using my own shades and will keep the Oakley's for another bash.

Overall, another winner from CD, who continue to crank out nice Modern soliders to keep Soldier Story and Toys City on their toes.

The camo jacket is great IMO!

I left off the drop down and some other bits for this shoot.  The MK48 is, like the other CD MK48s, very good.

Yes, another rendition of Mr. Angelina Jolie, but it's well done.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Sideshow Collectibles 1/6 Star Wars Clone Wars Commander Bly

SSC continues it's Clone Wars line with Commander Bly, who most notably served under Jedi General Aalya Secura in the Star Wars prequels and Clone Wars animated series.

As with other Phase I and II clones in the series, Bly comes with a huge assortment of accessories, including a number of different posed hands, both styles of clone helmets, as well as an unhelmeted portrait.  There isn't too much to say about the figure itself beyond the fact that it is a generally well-made, and well-designed set with high production values, as are pretty much all the clones that Sideshow has released so far.  The bodies and some other technical aspects were partly done by Hot Toys through both companies' mutual design and distribution partnerships, and this shows in the great articulation and posability of the figures despite the armored nature of the costume.  As far as accuracy to the films and media, SSC has done a pretty good job of keeping with the look of the character, giving him his unique features like flip down visor/HUD and distinct armor colors and insignias while staying mostly within the molds and template of the clone figures.

If you're into Star Wars Clones, you're going to get this for your collection and likely won't be disappointed.

I chose to use the Phase II helmet, but you can also select from a Phase I, if that floats your boat.

Flip down visor and long rifle...check.

Can't really blame him, he was just carrying out orders.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Project BM Medicom Gokaiger Red No. 62

The original Go Rangers from 1975!

I picked up this "web store exclusive" version of the Classic Red Ranger from the old Japanese children's TV show, "Go Rangers" (which was a precursor to Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers).

These special editions are on the high end of 1/6 collectibles, so I'm a bit afraid to take this guy out of the box, lol.  I did manage to snap some pics though.  Maybe when I'm feeling a bit more confident, I'll put him in the display shelf...

When I first saw this, I was so bummed it was only available through the Medicom Japan website.

Honestly, my favorite Ranger was the Green (Midori) one, but beggars can't be choosers for a  show that came out 37 years ago!

Not a lot of accessories, but a good-looking figure IMO.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Femme Fig Photoshoot of the Day

Just a few pics of my Resident Evil Extinction Alice kitbash.  It's the Afterlife Alice head on a TTF body with Brother Production Zombie Killer clothes.  Just need to add the holster, weapon grip hands, and give her a few weapons.

Still missing some bits.  I'll add later and update.

A shot at a different time of day.  Whoa it's bright out there.

Light glamour pose.  :p

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Hot Toys DX09 1989 Batman

Hard to believe for old timers like me, but Tim Burton's Batman came out almost 23 years ago!  At the time, it was quite a revelation.  The film was arguably the first true successful comic book-to-movie adapation that wasn't aimed solely at children, earning both critical acclaim (including an Oscar) and box office gold.

Fast forward to 2012, and Hot Toys is ready to honor the movie with it's own MMS DX figure set!  This one features the PERS movable eye system that allows users to change the angle at which the figure is looking for even more dynamic poses.  While there aren't too many accessories with this particular DX, it does also include the interchangable face plate system that allows you to change the expression of the mouth from a more passive look, to a scowl, to a battle-damaged look with some blood trickle at the mouth corner.

Perhaps the most impressive feature IMO, is the cape.  The cape has a couple of black rods that can be placed in the character's hands to allow some interesting poses of the cape unfurled and spread open, just as Batman did in the movie to intimidate his foes.

The set also includes a grappling hook attachment that fits onto the arm and fist, as well as some different hands and a heavy base.

Overall, I'm very pleased with this figure and would recommend it to fans of the film.

Solid packaging as per the Hot Toys DX series.

Upon opening, you will see the figure along with the hands and 3 swappable mouths.

Underneath, you'll find the cape, base, and accessories.

It looks great, even in static poses.

Kind of looks stiff, but Keaton's suit was the same way in 1:1 anyways.

Nice job by HT of capturing the actor's likeness, even in the costume.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

ZCWO Shimei Biker Girl

ZCWO has thankfully been avoiding the usual fetish-y female figures lately, so I've been more receptive to their newest releases in return.  Today, I'm featuring Biker Shimei, one of two motorcycle-themed ladies (the other is  named "Azami" and is clad in black leather with slightly different accessories).

Shimei sports an interesting, if a bit loud, blue leather-like outfit.  While the colors evoke the import tuner scene, Shimei is ready for the road with long pants, jacket, boots, and a rather well-designed helmet that has both a flip-up visor as well as a fold out top for ease of attaching or removing the helmet from the head.

The materials as a whole are a bit on the cheap-side, but I had no real QC issues with my copy overall.  ZCWO bodies are well articulated, but the outfit does restrict posing somewhat.  Paint apps on the face could be a bit better, but are decent overall.

On the whole, I'm pleased with her.  I just wish I had a blue sport bike to pose her with.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

TTL "Baby" Female PMC

Let's be honest here.  Most female 1/6 action figures on the market today come in two varieties: character-based themes that are based on films or other media, and decidedly male-oriented fantasy/fetish figures where the figure has revealing, BDSM-themed, or otherwise "stripper-ish" clothing.

Luckily, TTL has seen fit to release some sets that kind of fall outside those categories.

Today, I'm lightly reviewing the "Baby" female PMC set.  PMCs, or private military contractors are professional soldiers for hire and have become an important part of modern military and defense support around the world.

TTL's female PMC features a long-sleeved turtleneck, tactical harness, jeans, ballcap, goggles, weapons, and, for whatever bizarro reason, a creature-hoodie (in this case it looks like a polar bear).

Cutsey jacket aside, Baby is a pretty straight shooter who appears ready to handle herself in sticky situations.

While it's a nice-looking and welcome change of pace for a female figure, I do have a couple of problems with this set.  My biggest peeve is with the chest rig.  This thing is horrible.  The molle is sewn poorly and is really difficult to loop the pouches to.  The next issue is the boots.  The silver color just looks comical and wrong compared to the rest of the outfit.  I could paint it a better color, but why do I need to do this in the first place?

Despite the complaints, I like the figure overall.  TTL's bodies are well-articulated and the headsculpt is one of the better ones they've done in recent years.  I also appreciate a design that isn't aimed squarely at 14 year old boys who have no experience with real women beyond their mothers.

From this pic, you can see that the head may be a bit small and the hands too big for the base body.
A good head sculpt with solid paint apps highlights this figure.

It's nice to have a fighting female in the mix once and a while.

Unfortunately the chest rig is crap and the boots look hideous.  :p

DAM 75th Ranger 1993 Somalia Grenadier

I actually passed over this figure initially despite wanting to continue collecting DAM/VTS's Black Hawk Down tribute line.  The reason for this was that I ended up with two copies of the Matt Eversmann Team Leader set due to a miscommunication with someone I was trading with on an action figure forum.

After unsuccessfully trying to get rid of the extra copy, I decided to just keep the set and pick up the loose parts necessary to complete the Grenadier version.  Luckily, I was able to secure the head, vest, and weapon for a good price and quickly went about slapping it together.  

I'm happy with the result, as it's only a bit off from getting the actual set.

In a way, it's kind of sad that the primary differences are just a few key parts, but I still love it.

No real problems with this set.  DAM has been reported to have some QC issues with their stuff, but I was lucky to have had things as they were intended to be.

Can't wait for more BHD from DAM!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

DAM Operation Gothic Serpent 75th Ranger Chalk Leader

DAM Toys takes on the movie Black Hawk Down and Chalk Leader Matt Eversman is the first soldier to be released as part of this new action figure line.

Starting with a well done headsculpt with solid paint apps and a great likeness to actor Josh Hartnett, DAM provides a near movie-accurate set with nice gear and accessories appropriate to 1990s Delta Force operators.  I found the quality of the accessories to be good overall, although the canteen pouch snaps on one of my sets (I ended up with two) were missing.

The body is good as well.  It holds poses very well with tight joints and is capable of a wide range of realistic motions.

Overall, I think DAM has hit a home run with their Operation Gothic Serpent movie soldiers and I'm excited about the rest of the figures they've announced.

Looks like Josh Harnett as he appeared in Black Hawk Down to me.

I like the quality of the gear.

It's a bit of a challenge to work with the alice harness and those tiny clips, but the results are great.

Very cool soldier.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Soldier Story US Navy EODMU-11

I recently received the Explosive Ordinance Disposal Mobile Unit Eleven figure from Soldier Story and finally had some time to put it together this weekend.  Well, most of it anyway.

EODMU-11 operates out of Washington state. The Navy has a number of EOD mobile units.  Why Soldier Story picked 11 specifically is unknown to me.  According to the EODMU-11 official Facebook page, this figure was never even sanctioned by them.  About all I can assume is that the 11 group had the most Internet photos.

In any case, what we have here is a pretty well-researched bomb disposal guy in tan flight suit, complete with breathing apparatus. 

While the rebreather is probably the standout set of gear in this set, unfortunately, it has some problems to it, despite a pretty good design.  One of the issues I had was with the mask--it has a lot of straps on it that are difficult to work with.  In addition, the lenses are not clear, but a speckled translucent.  It kind of wastes the headsculpt, which is nice and well done.

Another big issue I had was with the hose that runs from the mask to the air filtration device.  The type of plastic tubing they used is really too stiff.  It comes out of the box straight, but needs to be coiled in a way that bends around from the front of the face back around to the soldier's back.  I tried heating and freezing, but there's no way to get the hose to keep it's shape without either running a metal wire in the tube itself, or just taping/strapping the tube in the shape you want it.

Overall, however, it's a solid figure with a slightly different theme than the norm, so I think this set might be worth a look for experienced collectors.

Nice, colorful boxart.  I think they lifted the background image from the Internet though.

This is the only reference SS provides on how to gear him up.

I'm not sure if this guy is supposed to resemble anyone famous.  He doesn't, to me.
It looks pretty good to me.  I didn't add some bits, but maybe later...
The whole breathing device is a total pain in the ass to put together.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

threeA Pathfinder Oya Impressions

threeA (or 3A) is a Hong Kong company founded in 2008 that produces books, prints, clothing, and toys primarily based on the designs of Austrailian artist Ashley Wood.  It has a small, but rabidly loyal fanbase, along with Wood himself.

When I first heard of the 1/6 and 1/12 scale action figures from threeA a couple years ago, I really wasn't impressed.  While once a mainstream artist for the likes of Marvel and DC, Ashley Wood is now an independent creator, and his original graphic novel and comic book works have a very distinct artistic presence characterized by simplistic, highly-stylized faces that I felt just didn't fit in with the kinds of action figures I was interested in collecting at the time.  In addition, because the company itself is relatively small, they only sold their toys through their website, and in a very limited ordering process that was inconvenient to follow to say the least.  Fast forward to 2012, with the rising costs of 1/6 scale figures and the predominance of Hot Toys and others pushing ever closer to hyper-realism in toys, what is a jaded collector to do to keep his interest in the hobby alive?

You guessed it, as I re-evaluated my spending habits and collecting tastes, so too did I need to revisit threeA and see if there was indeed something I missed.

As it turns out, I seemed to have missed out on a lot.  These figures, from a purely collectible standpoint, are great!  Despite the simple character designs, the clothing, and paint jobs are outstanding!  Granted, they do have a very strong smell, but I think it's just a natural consequence of the super weathering techniques used by the factory (or "hatchery" as it is affectionately called by threeA fans) to give these toys the post-apocolyptic dirt and grime feel of the art and comics they are based on.  The figure bodies have a lot of articulation and the tailoring--from the screen-printed t-shirts to the oversized hoodies--is just fantastic.

My first threeA figure is the Pathfinder Oya made for the Hong Kong toy store BBCIN.  Overall, it's a fantastic figure, but I do have a few quibbles: the first is that the hands don't grip the weapons too well.  The gap seems a bit too big and the swords just sort of slip out if you're not careful.

Is that it?  Yup, the figure comes fully geared, and ready for display out of the box.
Just add swords.
The jacket is a little tough to work with for posing, but pretty sweet otherwise.
These toys have a distinctive look to them, no doubt.  Time for some stabby fun!
Ahhhhh!  Yeah I don't know he's doing either.  :p

Another issue is how much the heavy jacket/hoodie restricts movement in the arms.  You can take off the jacket for more dynamic poses, but I think it's a bit of a waste of such a nicely done item of 1/6 scale clothing.

At $120 MSRP, this one isn't the cheapest action figure, but compared to a non-Hot Toys brand, it's about in line, considering the amount of work that must have been required to paint and weather all the details.