Friday, June 27, 2014

Random Toy of the Day: Aurora & Northstar (Toy Biz)

I'm back on my regular schedule next week, so today will be the last of these mini-posts (at least for now!).

Back in the late '90s, Marvel published the "new" Alpha Flight with a set of characters that was largely different from the '80s series.  And then, as that series was wrapping up, Toy Biz brought out a series of toys based on the '80s series.  Seems like strange marketing to me, but having started reading the old series and the new one concurrently, I did end up buying the full line of toys (the line consisted of three two packs - the twins that you see here, Snowbird and Puck and Sasquatch and Vindicator).

The rest of this series is probably still in my mother's basement, but the twins here have been moving around with me, and even though they're not he best quality figures, they are part of my permanent collection.  And at some point I will try to figure out what I did with their teammates.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Random Toy of the Day: Captain Britain (Eaglemoss)

Today's mini-post is a reveal about the latest addition to my Captain Britain collection.

This Captain Britain figure is from Eaglemoss Publications' Classic Marvel Figurine Collection, which was a magazine series of Marvel characters accompanied by hand-painted lead figurines.  The Captain Britain issue/figure was issue #21in the series.

The figurine is posed in a very simple stance, but it's colours are deep, and it's richly painted, so it still makes for an eye-catching display piece.  Some of the paint on the base of mine has chipped, but since I'm the second owner of it, that was something I was expecting (and it's something that would be easy enough to repaint).

This is the first figure from this line that I've picked up, but I'm impressed enough that I don't think it will be the last!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Random Toy of the Day: Hiccup (Spinwork's Defenders of Berk mini line)

Another day, another holiday mini-post, and another nod to a summer movie that I've not yet seen!

Up today is this tiny Hiccup figure from Spinmaster's How to Train Your Dragon: Defenders of Berk line (a tie-in to the TV series that spans the time between the two movies).  The figure is designed to fit in with the mini-dragons that were released and as such is about half the size of a standard action figure.

As one might expect of a tiny playline toy, the detail on this figure is minimal, but is there is actually quite well done - the textured fur vest and the different shades of green do a nice job of capturing the look of the character, and the doll can hold the sword and shield accessories.  It's also worth noting that pre-HTTYD2, this was the only Hiccup figure that included the prosthesis.

The figure is also jointed not only at the shoulders, neck and hips but also at the knees, which gives it surprising pose-ability.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Random Toy of the Day: Disney Classics Maleficent

When I picked up Li Shang (for my planned Jade Empire custom), there was a buy-on/get-one sale at The Disney Store, so this Maleficent doll came home with me as well.  I've always been fond of the character (somewhere - probably in storage - I have plush dolls of both the human and dragon version of the character), and I'd heard that these dolls were better articulated than most dolls in this price range, so I figured even if I didn't like her out-of-the-box look she'd still be a solid project base.

In the end I decided that I did like the doll as-is, even though the outfit is clearly that of a play doll. Even with the unfinished edges on her robe, the deep colours just make it appealing.

And of course there's a new movie about the character in cinemas now, so it's a timely character to share (I haven't seen the movie - I actually haven't seen any of the summer movies yet - but it's on my list).

Monday, June 23, 2014

Random Toy of the Day: Cyclops and Dark Phoenix (Marvel's Greatest Battles Comic Pack)

Dark Phoenix and Cyclops
I'm on holiday this week (and last), so rather than ignore blogging altogether, I thought it would be fun to share some toys that I love but don't have much to say about either because I've posted about similar toys before or just because they're fairly basic.

Up first is Dark Phoenix and Cyclops from one of the Greatest Battles Marvel Comic packs (my Captain Britain figure from this line appears on my Captain Britain wall).

As is standard for this line, they're small, but well-articulated and with a solid amount of detail. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

New Arrival: Makie 3D-printed Doll

As mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I ordered a custom doll from, and today he arrived!

 He's an interesting toy (I'm not sure whether to call him a doll or an action figure - he seems to be right on the dividing line): very light, very well jointed, and a little strange about the face.  He's also fairly sturdy; the packaging was quite minimal, and he still arrived in perfect condition.

The accessories are a bit hit-or-miss.  The eyes (which are easily changed out) are lovely, but the clothes are very basic and not well-fitted.  The hook, is the same quality as the body, but is white rather than matched to the body (which it was in the creator).  The wig is a standard quality fur, but ends at such a high point on the head that it makes the doll look as though he's experiencing male pattern baldness (it was also adhered to the headcap, although it wasn't too difficult to remove).

The rabbit (a freebie during the sale period), which is unjointed, has lovely light-reflecting red inset eyes and is quite cute for such a simple figure.

The shipping tube
The backboard.  He was tied to it with ribbon
but was coming loose when I opened the tube.

Out of the box, showing off a pose.
The hook is to the right.
The rabbit. 
With the hook on.
He stands on his own quite easily.
Doing some yoga.
The posing and balance on this figure are excellent.

From the online creator.
 Overall, I'm pleased with this figure (or doll - it's hard to know which is right with this guy), but he doesn't quite resemble the doll from the creator quite as much as I'd hoped.  Erasing the pink lips will probably help that quite a bit.

The character inspiration.
Still, he's clearly similar, and some of it may be the faceup (he's painted, but it's fairly light), and the whole experience of custom ordering a doll like this (and the fun of playing with the character creator online - I spent a silly amount of time tying to get this guy to resemble my second Warden from Dragon Age: Origins) are well worth the price.

I'll have to share more of him once I've changed his hair and paint!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Out of the Box: Nightcrawler (various versions)

1996 Toy Biz Nightcrawler
I noticed a few Nightcrawler fans commented on my shelf post, so I thought I'd give this guy a moment to shine.

The figure seen in those displays is from a 1996  line from Toy Biz called "Light Up Weapon Classics".  As as the name suggests, this version of the character came with a light-up flaming sword (which I believe I still have, but it's gone into storage along with the Gambit and Psylocke figures that I also had from the line).

This figure has the classic red-and-black costume and the traditional haircut.  The toy has 9 points of articulation and a battery in its back, which powers the sword (you can see the holding spot for it in the figure's right hand).

This seems to be the figure that I see the most custom and repainted versions of, so I think there must have been a lot of these on the market at some point.

Even though this is the only Nightcrawler figure I have
Sales photo, since mine
is in storage.
on display, he's actually not the only one in my collection.  I also have the 1997 "WaterWars" Nightcrawler (as the name suggests, he came with a water gun), which is currently in storage.  That figure is a less attractive toy (it's clearly designed for play rather than display), but the standout feature is that it actually has Kurt in his late-1990s Excalibur look, with the short hair and the goatee.  Since Warren Ellis' run on that title was what got me into superhero books, I've always had a fondness for that incarnation of the character.

And finally, I also have the 2004 "Twist 'Ems" movie-tie in wind-up toy (with functional walking motion), which is small and silly, but also has a surprisingly detailed face sculpt that genuinely looks like that epic make-up job from X-2.  I'd actually thought I'd put that one in storage as well, but it turns out he was actually in my craft box, so here he is:
Comic and movie Nighcrawler, together.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Out of the Box: Diamond's Buffy (1999) and Angel (2005) Series

Vampire Angel I, Lorne, Wesley
Since there was some figure-spotting in the comments of my shelving post, I thought I'd give some attention to some more of the action figures.

My Angel figures are a bit of an accidental collection: a coworker of mine was a huge Buffy fan and wanted the Angelus figure for her desk.  But it was 2007, and the figure she wanted had come out in 1999 (a Diamond Select preorder, so it showed up in comic and specialty shops, but not in regular toy stores), and she didn't want to pay the increased prices that were showing up online, so she'd pretty much given up hope.
Lorne's microphone is still
strapped to his hand.

Shortly after she told me this tale of woe, my then-local comic shop (ComiKazi in Calgary, which I've spoken about before) had a massive clearance sale that allowed me to find not just the single Vampire Angel that she wanted, but a second one as well.  In the same box I found the 2005 Wesley and Lorne figures, so I picked up those as well.  My coworker only wanted the single figure, so the rest of the crew came home with me.

The figures are all nicely detailed with sculpts that clearly resemble the characters/actors from the TV series, and whose body sculpts show some fantastic clothing detail.  The 2005 figures also have fantastic accessories - a stage base with Lorne and a weapon cabinet with Wesley - although the same can't be said for Angel, who came with a floppy sword and a human-sized plastic ring.  The later figures are significantly sturdier than the earlier one as my Angel's forearm broke off within a couple of months, but I've heard the argument that the earlier line were intended to be kept in the box, so it's probably my own fault for using him as a display piece.
Wesley (and his cabinet) and Lorne (with his stage, speaker and microphone)
joined by a a few guest stars.
My coworker's Angel at the office.
For nearly a year after giving her the figure my colleague would send me
regular email updates called "The adventures of Angel and Barbie"

Thursday, June 5, 2014

New Arrival: All Natural Lizette Spice (Ellowyne Wilde)

Lizette "Spice" from Ellowyne Wilde
As I mentioned during the invasion of the fashion dolls, I've not been hugely impressed with the Tonner releases that I've come across - I fully understand why other people love them, but somehow they just don't seem to be my thing.  And it was that feeling that kept me from picking up anything from the Ellowyne Wilde line - I liked the way they looked in the photos, but was afraid that I wouldn't be a fan in person.

But then there was a sale (15% off and free shipping) and I decided to take the plunge, and ordered a basic Lizette in the "Spice" colour (the same sculpt is offered in a lighter "honey" colour as well).  The doll came with two wigs (on straight and one curly), a saddle stand, a pair of shoes and a simple dress.  The sculpt is painted in a fairly neutral style, and has inset (I believe acrylic) eyes and attached eyelashes.  The left eyelashes were crushed slightly, so I'll need to reattach those (naturally I only noticed after I'd taken photos).

I have to say that I was impressed with the shipping time: I ordered this doll on the final Monday of the sale, and yet she shipped out almost instantly, arriving in only two days.  The doll was packed in the standard fashion doll style, with ties at the neck, waist and feet.  She arrived with one wig on, which unfortunately stained her head.  She came dressed, but with the shoes packaged separately.
In the box.
Since the outfit and shoes are part of the "basic" release, I'd wondered about their quality, but I needn't have, since while they're simple pieces, they are very well made.  The wigs are also both solid quality and seem to be both soft and sturdy.

She can reach her hair.
This is as close as she can get to
reaching her face.

The doll is nicely jointed, and has more flexibility than I expected, but she still doesn't have the full range of motion that one would expect of a ball-jointed doll or figure.  For example, her hands can be positioned to touch her hair, but not her face.  The knees have even less flexibility as they are simple hinge joints.

Still, given the limited posing of Tonner's Doctor Who dolls, I was pleased to see that this doll offers a broader range of movement possibilities.

Overall, I'd say I'm pleased but not thrilled with this doll - she has a more expressive face than a painted-eye fashion dolls, which is wonderful.  And proportionately she can fit in well with a variety of other dolls and figures of this size, so with a different outfit, I think she'll be a nice display piece (I've also found a huge number of patterns for this size of doll, so the possibilities are almost endless).
The curly wig.
The crushed eyelash is causing the left eye to
look a bit strange here.
In comparison to the Martha Jones doll from
Tonner's Doctor Who line.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Shelf Expression (aka Adventures in Display and Storage)
I've been following League of Extraordinary Bloggers (a weekly themed blog challenge from Cool & Collected) for a while now, but this week's photo assignment inspired me to join in the fun and share some of my display/storage shelves (at the point of writing, I found another example of the assignment at Nerdy Life of Mine).

Since my display shelves get to change every move, I thought I'd share some of my shelves from the past as well.

Calgary, 2006: the basement nerd cave.
The figure shelf, 2006.
Southern Ontario, 2010: The doll & figure stage

Northern Virginia, 2014: the shelving corridor
It's poorly lit, but hey.

Out of the Box: DC Direct's Planetary & The Authority

Planetary's The Drummer
The Planetary figures included a stand
with the comic's logo.
We've all heard the saying "vote with your wallet", and that's always one of those dilemmas when you collect anything that's related to a particular property - when the first tie-ins are released, do you need to buy them to show that there's a market for that property?  And is that true even if the product isn't that great?

That was my dilemma back in 2001, when DC Direct released three figures from the Wildstorm series Planetary and then again a year later when they released another four from The Authority.  As with an unfortunate number of DC Directs figures from that era, the figures have minimal detail and less-than-ideal articulation, but as with any property that hasn't had any non-comics merchandise, there's always a temptation to pick them up anyway.

I initially decided to compromise and pick up one figure from each release - Snow from Plantary and the Midnighter from The Authority (those two would spend several years as desk decor at my office).  In 2007 I came across the rest of the series on sale at ComiKazi (my local comic shop when I lived in Calgary), and picked up another two.  I'm still on the fence about these toys, but I can't lie - they've grown on me.  And hey, at least the Authority figures aren't in the terrible costumes from the new DCU versions of the characters!
The Midnighter & Apollo from The Authority
This release didn't include stands.
Elijah Snow from Planetary.
This figure is currently in storage, so this is an old photo
of him at my desk at work.  Amusingly, two different co-workers
mistook him for the Glad Man.