Showing posts with label action figure. Show all posts
Showing posts with label action figure. Show all posts

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Vintage Wednesdays: POTF2 Biggs Darklighter Review

Star Wars Rebellion against the Empire

Yesterday (April 29th) marked the anniversary of the 1997 release of X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter, the single greatest Star Wars video game experience available. Some other Star Wars news overshadowed this monumental date for some reason or another, but to ensure XvT gets the love it deserves this week I’m celebrating with a Vintage Wednesday look at Luke Skywalker’s best buddy, Biggs Darklighter!

POTF2 card front freeze frame

First of all then, the packaging. Biggs comes on the iconic green blade POTF2 card with the distinctive Vader cut edge, and also comes packed with my favourite of the 90’s era promotions – the freeze frame. I loved these things for a few reasons back in the day; firstly, they were a neat memento to the character’s appearance in the films in a way that harks directly back to the medium of film itself, and secondly they marked the start of a significant upturn in quality for the POTF2 line. This is a US cardback and so doesn't have the trilingual descriptions that I normally saw on my figures - a nice added bonus of being able to pick these guys up for peanuts on eBay nowadays...

Star Wars Power of the Force 2
Released in Wave 14, Biggs benefits massively from a slimmed down sculpt and realistic proportions in comparison to previous human characters, a change for the better that the line started to take in 1998. Whilst still dynamically posed, the figure has a good centre of gravity and stands easily.

Star Wars Biggs Darklighter Hasbro

In addition to the more realistic sculpt Biggs also has much better detailing than the earlier releases, such as the pipes that run along his flight suit and a strong facial likeness. The paints are a nice combination of colours, with the dull, screen accurate orange much better than the day glow Black Series version that’s currently available, and the recreation of Biggs’ helmet design is superbly done. There is some unfortunate sloppiness with the paint apps on my figure, such as some spill from the black glove onto his arm, and a little grey splodge on the back of the white tabard which does count against him. Other sections such as the helmet and the chest panel are as sharp and clean as possible, however.

Power of the Force 2 Biggs

He comes with two weapons, the standard Correllian Blaster that came with nearly every Rebel POTF2 figure, and a larger blaster cannon. Both are fun (and he looks mean carrying one in each hand), but the larger gun works best in his left hand, due to the sculpt of his right elbow. The helmet isn’t removable, but given how the Wedge Antilles from the Rebel Pilots Cinema Scene set turned out, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

POTF2 Biggs and X-Wing

Anyway, there’s one area in particular where the POTF2 Biggs Darklighter excels, and that is in the cockpit of an X-Wing fighter. The first actual X-Wing pilot figure released in the modern era (Luke and Wedge were both previously released in their Snowspeeder gear), Biggs needs a slight push on his arms but once he’s in the cockpit it’s like he was made for it. I’ve had a POTF2 X-Wing for a while now without a pilot, and Biggs here does the job perfectly. I just need to make sure I keep him away from any Death Stars…

Biggs Darklighter Admiral Ackbar X-Wing

The 1998 Biggs Darklighter is a fantastic figure, and was a sign of the great things to come with the Hasbro Star Wars line. If you have an old style X-Wing kicking about in desperate need of a pilot, you could do far worse.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, 31 March 2014

Return of the Toy Photographer...

Strange Trophy
It's been a while since I last posted anything, hasn't it?

I'm pleased to report that everything is going well here at the Collection HQ, but I've been insanely busy finishing off my uni course over the last few weeks and haven't had much time to do anything beyond filming, editing and writing essays. And yes, that includes eating and sleeping! With all of my big deadlines finally out of the way however I thought I'd unwind today with a bike ride and a spot of action figure photography...

Somewhere along the line, Teebo from POTJ has become one of my favourite figures to photograph, and today was no exception - I wasn't even planning to go anywhere that wooded, but still bought him along just in case and was rewarded when I found a very cool spot along an abandoned railway track. 

I tried something a bit different today and left my Canon 600D at home and instead took out my old PowerShot A530, a point and shoot I was using way back when I first got into this hobby. I found I was focusing a lot more on composition of the shots than anything else, and whilst the auto focus led to a lot of blurry takes I was able to get a reasonable amount of usable pics. It was a lot of fun and a lot easier than carrying around my bigger camera, so I might be using it a little bit more in the future...

This old chestnut...

On another note, the Emcat and I are moving house! We're downsizing to start saving for the future, which means we're doing a lot of sorting and clearing out. Toys will be sold amongst the shedding, but at the end of it I'm going to have the kind of streamlined, focused collection I've been after for a while now - as well as also having the space and funds to add to that collection further down the line. Whilst all this is going on there'll probably be another absence of posts, but hopefully for nowhere near as long as this last hiatus - more than anything, I'm looking forward to finding a whole host of new locations to explore and share...

Man, it's good to be back. To those of you still out there, many thanks for reading!

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Star Wars Action Figures and Articulation

Whose Line is it Anyway?

New 5POA Jedi Kanan figure from the upcoming Rebels line
Star Wars Rebels: Kanan Jarras
5POA. If you’re a fan of Star Wars action figures at present, or most current licensed toy lines for that matter, that term is likely to evoke some strong emotions one way or another. With the reveal of the 5POA Kanan figure from the upcoming Star Wars Rebels line (above), I think I’ve finally hit a moment of clarity with regards to my own stance on the articulation debate.

As a rule I try not to let the excessive negativity of online forums get to me, and sometimes find myself taking a contrarian position just to counter that aggressiveness – I can’t help it, I have a natural aversion to sharing a viewpoint with some of the more… dedicated forumers out there. It was this attitude, along with genuine curiosity and an appreciation for the fact that Hasbro were making action figures affordable again that I picked up my first Saga Legends figure, the Super Battle Droid. Despite some initial reservations this purchase was swiftly followed with Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and the Shock Trooper from Saga Legends, and the Darth Vader/Seeker Droid and 212th Clone Trooper/Battle Droid sets from the Mission Series. I’ve now essentially got a small selection of vintage style Revenge of the Sith action figures, but as cool as they all look together… I’m not really sure what to do with them.

Saga Legends Darth Vader, Shock Trooper and Anakin Skywalker
A small selection of Saga Legends
I enjoy taking photos of my toys when I can find the time, but I’ve struggled to get much mileage from the Saga Legends in that regard. Don’t get me wrong, I love Rather Childish (RIP?) as much as the next toy collecting Star Wars nerd, but there are two factors stopping me from ripping him off as much as I’d like: firstly, my photography skills are nowhere near as developed as his, and secondly the vintage figures have a certain charm that the Saga Legends toys emulate, but don’t quite match… And that’s probably as close as we’re going to get to an empirical value for nostalgia. As pilot figures I think they look great, and I would love to pick up a Class II (accurately scaled) Jedi Starfighter with which to display either Anakin or Kenobi when I have the funds. Beyond that though, I’ve really run out of interest, and that’s only confirmed that this isn’t the action figure line for me.

And the thing is, it’s really not. I called it when the Saga Legends were first announced, and after giving them a fair go I’m happy enough to say that these figures aren’t for me. They’re for my nephew, his friends, and any other kids discovering Star Wars for the first time, and I am not gonna fault Hasbro for that – after all, it was an affordable kids toy line that got us all hooked in the first place, whether it was vintage or POTF2. That’s why I’m OK with the new Rebels figures being 5POA, because it means staying affordable, and might even lead to a new group of collectors eventually joining the party - something that’s definitely required if the line is ever to reclaim the heights it once scaled.

Promo pic of Ezra from the upcoming Rebels TV show
Star Wars Rebels: Ezra Bridger & The Ghost
The Saga Legends toy line isn’t for us, and the Rebels cartoon (a Disney channel exclusive, no less) isn’t for us either. If we enjoy it, that’s a different matter; but it’s not for us, and amidst all the pitchfork wielding about how the new Rebels characters have been designed purely for kid appeal, or that the latest figures aren't the greatest quality, that’s something entirely worth remembering.

I'll get off my soapbox now... 

Thoughts prompted and images snatched from the always awesome FLYGUY.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

MediCom and Star Wars

Saga Legends Obi-Wan and a 212th Clone on Guard
Action Figure Wars!
There's been an exciting development in the Star Wars toy world this week, with the low key announcement that MediCom Toy Inc. will be producing 6" Star Wars figures under their Mafex banner, through which they've already released Amazing Spider-Man and Dark Knight Rises Batman figures. I've seen images of their existing releases (and the upcoming ASM2 Spidey) and have to say they look very impressive, particularly the bulkier, armoured Batman. If they can bring this level of quality to the Star Wars line (imagine Boba Fett, the various types of Troopers or Vader himself with quality builds, accessories and interchangeable parts) then I think we're going to be looking at some very exciting additions to the Black Series lineup.

The reaction on message boards has been unusually positive, although there has been some understandable consternation over the price, with amounts from $40-70 being mooted. However the lower down that scale you get, the closer you come to the Wave 3 price for the Black Series figures out here in Europe anyway (which at £25 equals $41.61, as of today's rates). That's an amount I'd be willing to pay for a better quality mid-range collectable - which, just to be clear, the Black Series is not.

MediCom Mafex box announcing Star Wars line
Image from
I think another reason for the not-negative reaction (which for a Star Wars board is as good as a standing ovation) is because this is finally another company being given the means to compete with the license. Hasbro were good for so long, but it's undeniable how badly they've cocked up in recent years. Now the Mafex figures will be import only, so it's not going to harm the big H's bottom line at all, really - but it could be a very sharp reminder that they need to take care with this license, if the import figures embarrass their Black Series counterparts too much.

On top of it all though, I'm looking forward to a company making a 6" Boba Fett figure that they actually want to sell, rather than utilising not one, but two separate release strategies that allow scalpers take full advantage. Imagine being able to buy a Boba Fett at retail at a reasonable price, huh? Madness, I know...

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Nightwatch Optimus Prime

Optimus Prime takes down Ravage
As a nice surprise my girlfriend bought home this Cyberverse Commander Optimus Prime today. The articulation's much better than I would've thought for such a small figure, and the transformation is quite clever for the scale as well. That said, in truck mode he only really looks good front on; but that doesn't massively matter, because in robot mode he looks ace.

This is the first time I've actually owned an Optimus Prime figure since I had the Powermaster as a kid (Orion Pax doesn't count). It felt good adding him as a Flickr tag!

Friday, 3 January 2014

Review: Mezco Scott Pilgrim 6 Inch Scale Figure

Scott Pilgrim VS. The World

A belated Happy New Year, everybody! To kick 2014 off in style I’ll be looking at Mezco's Scott Pilgrim 6" figure from the 2011 line, "Scott Pilgrim VS. The World".

Mezco 6" Scott Pilgrim Figure
Whilst the line shares its name with the 2010 film adaptation (and the second book in the series, but I digress), this figure is basically a perfect 3D version of Bryan Lee O'Malley's original comic hero. For the uninitiated, Scott Pilgrim is a Canadian slacker/musician/fighter/goof ball who, in order to date Ramona Flowers (the roller skating, delivery woman of his dreams), has to defeat, in combat, her seven evil exes.

Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O'Malley

Whilst that's the pitch, the actual story is far more about Scott eventually growing up and learning to fight for what he believes in, amidst a tangled web of believable and character driven personal relationships. The series, published by Oni Press and with O'Malley's superb and continually evolving artwork, is a must read for any fans of comics, gaming and general geek culture, and is the only comic I've been able to get non-geeks invested in. Well, apart from Preacher – but that should be compulsory reading, right?

Scott Pilgrim with Power of Love Sword

The package proudly promotes that this guy is for adult collectors, and is "unsuitable for anyone under the age of 14", but there's less here to harm a pre-teen than you'd get with, say, the Wolverine: Origins Deadpool figure. Scott comes packed with his bass guitar and the Power of Love sword (the latter a superb power up at a later point in the series), and he wears them both extremely well. I think that the warning may be more for the sake of the figure itself, as it feels fragile – not like bone china, but I wouldn’t trust it falling even just two feet onto a hard surface. I imagine that was part of the reason Mezco omitted the phrase ‘action figure’ from the cardback…

Front and Behind

Scott has a ball jointed head and ball joints with pivots at both shoulders. The arms swivel at the T-shirt sleeve and the wristbands, he has a swivel waist, and that's it - solid from the waist down. Whilst this articulation range has proven an issue before (as with Clone Commando Boss), the upper-body articulation and the dynamic posing of his legs allow this figure to do what he needs to do – Scott can pose with either or both of his accessories or empty handed and still look good.

Scott with Bass Guitar

A massive part of Scott’s expressiveness is due to the design, sculpt and articulation of the head. Scott carries a determined, punchy expression that captures the nuances of O'Malley's character exquisitely, and the ball jointed neck allows a range of motion that accentuates the pose. Whilst Scott Pilgrim is a goofy character most of the time, the head on this one looks much better than what was eventually released for the second figure. The paint apps are superb on both the figure and the accessories, with big, crisp eyes and sharp lines on Scott (including his trademark sweatbands and a snazzy pair of Adidas kicks), a harlequin-style hilt for the sword, and a sunburst paint finish on the guitar, with details for the pickups and dials. This one does O’Malley’s work justice.

Nice Paint Apps

The bass guitar has a faux-leather strap which fits snugly over his head to allow for some nice axe-wielding poses, and the sword is a single piece of nicely sculpted plastic. For his standard on-the-shelf pose I like to tuck the sword into the guitar strap across his back, Leonardo style. I don't know if it was designed that way, but I like it when a figure can keep all its accessories together.

Scott Pilgrim, all tooled up.

As a display piece this Scott Pilgrim is superb, and the articulation lets me switch up the pose every once in a while to keep my shelf looking fresh. As a figure it's slightly less impressive, as it feels too fragile to withstand any real action... but then I don’t really think that’s the point with this guy. Either way, I'm a huge fan of the character, and Mezco have delivered a solid figure of him.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Two Years Today...

And his work here is done!
In 24 short months we'll probably be sitting at our computer screens, typing away furiously about our reactions to Star Wars Episode VII after bunking off of work for the day to see it, and being giddy with the excitement of it all whilst supping on Skywalker-adorned Pepsi and playing with the 6" Solo-kid figures sitting on our desks. Yeah, there's plenty of reasons to be worried about whatever you've got on your plate, but today there's a small reason to celebrate - in just two years, the excitement starts all over again!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

The Collecting Storm

Storm Shadow
I've never been a big GI Joe/Action Force fan (I think I was put off by how by how frequently I snapped the waists on my brothers' toys as a kid), but I liked the way Marvel used the GI Joe comic to bring back the Transformers for the short lived G2 iteration. There are a few characters I've always liked though - namely Cobra Commander, Snake Eyes, and Storm Shadow.

I'm really not looking to collect any more toy lines at the moment, but between our matching tattoos and the incredible (and inspiring) Sigma 6 photos that Geek Creek's been posting on Flickr, when Storm Shadow here came up cheap on eBay I had to spring for him. And I have to say, between the stylised sculpt, the bold colours, accessories and soft goods, I'm glad I did. 

Well, except that now I have another line to keep my eyes peeled for...

On another note, I've recently setup a new blog - Variable Thoughts. I'm trying to get my myriad online identities into one place, and take full advantage of social media to connect with as many people across my many varied interests as possible. I'm not really sure where it's going yet, or what the long term ramifications for this blog will be, but part of the fun is going to be finding out. If you have a spare five minutes, please head over and take a look!

Monday, 2 December 2013

On the Raid

The Man with the Hat and the Whip
I watched Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade at the weekend, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was the first time I'd really watched it as an examination of style, rather than for the pure spectacle, and there's so much movement in Spielberg's directing that doesn't seem to exist in blockbuster films now. I know a lot of pretentious film students who mock 'the Spielberg style', but there is absolutely no denying that he can make an enthralling, entertaining action film, amongst his many other strengths. All that said though, I think we could do without an Indy five. It's clear that somewhere between Lucas and Spielberg, KOTCS went pretty wrong...

This is the first shot I've posted up here of an Indiana Jones figure that hasn't been knocked around and had his accessories broken. The pleasure of complete toys!

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Star Wars: The Modern 12 Back Part II

Part II

Part One, showcasing the first four figures, is here. Now we’re really hitting the big guns…


Chewbacca is one of the characters that helps to shape Star Wars the most. His relationship with Han softens the smuggler’s image, making him a more relatable character, and Chewie’s loyalty (most explicitly shown in ESB) erodes even the hardest of hearts. He may not have much of a character arc, but the OT wouldn’t be the same without him... whilst the PT would be a tiny bit better.

This Chewbacca is from the 2011 Vintage Collection Android set and is my preferred modern sculpt of the character, in large part due to the mouth being closed. There’s 15 points of articulation but he’s such a lean character there’s only so much posing you can do. That said, ball-jointed hips would have killed the look of him, so it’s an understandable trade off. This version was second hand and so his trusty bowcaster is missing its bow. It’s a shame, but I’m not too panicked about finding a replacement – I’m sure one will turn up eventually.

Princess Leia

For a film series that was being made up on the fly, the way that Princess Leia and Han Solo’s story arcs intertwine is extremely well done. She starts off as the uptight senator and bastion of the Old Republic, but as the saga progresses she eventually mellows, remaining a strong leader (at least until the final act of ROTJ), whilst becoming more forgiving of Han’s devil-may-care attitude, and even a little bit cocky herself.

This figure is from 2004’s VOTC line, and it looks like it too. It’s a decent figure, better than any from the POTF2 days, but Leia looks young, more like the teenage queen Lucas originally envisioned. Well scaled, but by that definition extremely small, she goes well with Han and Luke but unlike the respective likenesses of the other two, doesn’t quite do Carrie Fisher justice. An update for the captured Princess is sorely needed.

Luke Skywalker

The main hero of the OT, here’s Luke as he first appeared way back when: a young moisture farmer unable to take control of his own destiny who turns space adventurer, Princess-saver, Jedi-in-training and rebel hero. That’s a lot to pack into two hours, and is probably why so many kids grew up idolising young Skywalker. It may be cooler nowadays to say Han was your favourite, but there were fights over who would be Luke in my playground, brah.

Luke here is from the Blu-ray Commemorative pack for A New Hope, which is a slight repaint of 2009’s Resurgence of the Jedi figure. It’s the best modern ANH Luke by some margin, with 14 points of articulation, a fantastic sculpt and one of the better Mark Hamill likenesses Hasbro has produced. The arms do hang a little long and the figure suffers from not having ball-jointed hips, which could have been hidden by his skirt, but as Luke Skywalker goes this is a superb action figure. He fits in the Vintage Collection Landspeeder as well, which is always a bonus!


Star Wars wouldn’t have happened without R2-D2, the astromech with attitude and an unnatural devotion to his mission. Whilst Han had Chewie, Luke had R2, a divide between the natural and mechanical worlds that is examined thoroughly in Will Brooker’s highly readable BFI guide to Star Wars. I’m not excited at the prospect of seeing R2 again in the sequel trilogy after the way he was used in the prequels, but if they are going to be wheeling out the same characters again then you’d suppose that he has to be in there somewhere…

Also from the Blu-ray Commemorative pack, this R2 was originally from 2005’s Saga Collection Early Bird set. It looks gorgeous with a shiny chrome top, crisp blue paint job and lots of nice little details, including a removable third leg and light-piping for the eye. This is by far the best R2 at 3.75”, and well worth purchasing.

Part I is up here, and Part III will be online on Friday.

Thanks for reading!

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