Monday, 30 July 2012

Ultimate Aliens!

Deep Danger & Steam
Toys that inspire the imagination, that has to be the main aim that most toy makers aspire to, right? And yes, I know the collector market is huge, but it's well made kids toys that creates collectors in the first place. So, toys that inspire the imagination, and that also exist as part of a successful franchise? Double win for the manufacturer. That those toys can be cool looking robot-esque aliens? Well, I guess that would be the icing on the cake! And here I present the Ben 10: Ultimate Alien "Alien Creation Figure Set".

This two pack contains figures of Water Hazard and Ultimate Swampfire, members of the Orishan and Methanosian species respectively (apparently; I'm learning all this as I go!); and also a small green key with the Ben 10 hourglass logo on it.

Water Hazard
Water Hazard is the red and black guy, with a solid protective shell and the ability to project pressurised blasts of water. Ultimate Swampfire is an evolved version of Swampfire (Regular Swampfire?), with a body made of petrified wood and the ability to shoot blue flames when he puts his hands together. It was the mixture of the two of them that made me pick this set up over one of the many others; I liked Water Hazard's look and the bulk of Swampfire, with the small scale sealing the deal. Without knowing anything about the characters prior to picking them up, I've gotta say that the designs are very cool. If I were a kid today, I would most certainly be a Ben 10 fan, and that's before we get to the best bit...

Ultimate Swampfire
That small green key with the hourglass logo that I mentioned? Well, that plugs into the back of the figures and causes the limbs and head to pop off, leaving five pieces of each action figure that can be jumbled up and re-assembled in whatever way you like. As a kid this would most likely have caused my tiny mind to explode; and this capability to create new combinations of characters with their own unique powersets is one I can really appreciate. And then there's the value. I picked up this set from Home Bargains in Northampton, where there's a good selection for the bargain price of £1.99. A cursory glance shows TRU are retailing theirs at £6.99, so it's a ridiculously good deal if you can find them. 

Anyway, let the re-assembly commence!

Steam is the dual-processing (read: two-headed) bio-bot with the ability to transform his body into pourous steam, or an indestructible rock solid mass. What he lacks in offensive capabilities he makes up for in intelligence and leadership, making strategy calls based on a mixture of experienced intuition and hard computer logic.

Deep Danger
Deep Danger is a machine first and foremost, but augemented with additional biologics to provide him with awesome strength. A warrior on the battlefield, Deep Danger trusts Steam implicitly, and will follow orders to the letter. This lack of independent thinking would be a weakness to some, but Deep Danger's ability to project incredibly powerful force blasts ensures he always gets the job done.

But sometimes, all the tactical nous and brute force in the imaginative world isn't enough to save you from a giant hand wielding a green key...

These figures are stylish and provide hours of fun. Even if you're not a Ben 10 afficionado (like myself), there's something worthwhile here, and for £1.99 you really can't go wrong.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Just Where Do You Think You're Going?

"You're fortunate he doesn't blast you into a million pieces right here" - Really, 3PO?
Quick post here. I didn't think too much about the practicality of this little Tatooine backdrop when I made it, because if I had, I would definitely have made it bigger. Of course, had I made it bigger, then I'd no longer have any excuses for not owning a TVC Landspeeder. ..

Friday, 20 July 2012

He's Seen Us!

My parents visited at the start of the week and my Mum bought along this pretty cool Anubis-type beast toy, that I've since discovered is Benwolf, from the Ben 10 line by Bandai. She said I might be able to use it in movies; I don't know about that, but it's certainly good for stills... I've seen some really cool monster toy shots online and wanted to try to emulate that look a little bit. I've also got to say that the slightly larger scale opens up a whole load more possibilities from my same old garden steps!

I originally put a different edit of this shot up on Flickr, but it was tough to choose which version to use; subsequently, this one's now up on here.

I am loving my new camera :D

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Imperial Navy Commander Review

In my quest to get the best modern iterations of the 'Vintage 12' Star Wars figures, there are two that I wasn't as keen on purchasing - the Tusken Raider, and this guy, the Death Squad Commander Star Destroyer Commander Death Star Trooper Imperial Navy Commander. Both are army builders, sure, but they're not as important characters as, say, Darth Vader, or the elusive VOTC Leia, right? However, I found the figure on Ebay going far cheaper than I'd seen previously, and took the opportunity to get 7/12ths there. Did he match my expectations? Read on for the verdict, true believer...

The Package

I don't normally care too much for the packaging (these things are meant to be opened, right?), but in the case of the Vintage Collection I have to make an exception. The updated retro look is much loved by the fans, and I'll personally be sorry to see it go for however long it's on hiatus.

As per all European releases we get the sticker over the back of the box, telling us to celebrate the saga in several languages, rather than showing us the rest of the line that won't be available in a toy shop near you. I always liked cardbacks because they gave you information on the character, and in some cases acted as a checklist for the other figures in the line. I know the latter isn't necessary in these internet days, but still, where's the fun in a multi-lingual sticker? Anyway, I digress. Let's see what the Imperial Navy Commander looks like freed from his plastic cell...

The Figure

He's here in full black Imperial garb, looking for all intents and purposes like an Imperial Officer with a different hat on. He has a ball-jointed neck, shoulders, elbows, knees and feet, with swivel wrists, waist and legs. He comes with a removable hat and gun, with working holster, and I'm sure you'll agree that the overall look is pretty slick.

The Positives

This guy's sculpt is nearly flawless - the proportions are spot on, which is a bonus for a character with a removable helmet, the creases in the uniform combine with the material of the plastic to give the suit a real sheen, and the holster works really well. The poseability from the waist up is superb, and the INC can make all the poses required to re-create their appearances in the film. The sculpt of the head under the helmet is really well done as well, and kudos to Hasbro for even making the helmet removable in the first place. I'm not a customiser myself, but I'm sure this guy will go down a treat with those who are. The torso and collar also looks good for a Jedi Luke, if anyone really wanted to cannibalise it!

The Not-so-Positives

The lack of ball-jointed hips and the narrow stance really kill this figure. He can't stand up! Well, not without much cajoling and enough forward weight to balance him. It's a real annoyance considering that this could've been a great figure. I understand that ball jointed hips are expensive - but if you can't use them, at least make sure the alternative works. Other than that (pretty major) gripe, the only other flaw I can find is that both his hands are in trigger-finger (or pointing) positions. I don't remember these guys being armed to the teeth or making many accusations, so maybe one relaxed hand would've been better, but it doesn't affect my overall enjoyment or use of this figure.


This is an excellent effort for a background, army-builder figure let down by only one key flaw. Still, the Detention Block playset (where this guy will mainly be residing) has foot pegs, and if you display with stands then you'll find no issues whatsoever. So, in a word? Solid.


Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The Amazing... The Spectacular... The Poseable Spider-Man!

As promised, I went out and got some new and improved shots with the poseable Spider-Man figure. This guy's a lot of fun, I can see him becoming a mainstay...

Go web go! Oh wait - that was the other guy...

Monday, 9 July 2012

With great poseability comes... Not much else

Your Friendly Toy-Shelf Spider-Man!

Here's another first for the Mos Espa Collection - a proper* action figure review! I know I kind of reviewed the Blu-Ray ANH pack, but that was less... formal. This one's actually called a review; I guess that makes the difference!

There will be better pictures to come, but here's my latest acquisition - the ultra-poseable Amazing Spider-Man from the new movie line. Given the pretty poor standard of figures from the movie line, which are disappointing for lack of articulation and high price point, this is the only one I planned to buy. After proving near impossible to find in most stores around here, I got lucky on one trip to TRU and found what I'm reasonably confident was the last one in stock - it's like it was meant to be!

The Positives:

Firstly, when they say this figure is ultra-posable, they mean it. It does positions other 1/18th figures daren't even dream of doing! I went through one volume on Ultimate Spider-Man and matched the pose against however Mark Bagley had drawn him, and found there were very few limitations to what could be achieved; for that fact alone it makes this one of the better Spidey figures out there.

The sculpt is solid, capturing the lithe feel of the character. The costume has a really nice texture to it, and the multiple joints don't really look that obvious (for a toy). One of my favourite bits, however, is the face in profile - it really captures the iconic Bagley look.

Speaking of look, the costume: I was one of the reactive masses who thought the new costume design looked messy in the original promo shots (still do, but much less so). However, in 3D on this figure it looks pretty good. There are wispy lines on his arms and legs that don't need to be there, but on this guy they're barely noticeable, and certainly don't harm the overall aesthetic. And when the mask, with the shape and size of the eyes, works as well as this; well, for me that's half the battle. The fact it bears a passing resemblance to the Ben Reilly costume may also have helped sway my opinion...

The Negatives:

There's not a great deal wrong with this figure, save it feels a bit lightweight. By that I don't mean it feels like it's cheap plastic or will break (it doesn't), moreso that it's one stand alone figure, with great poseability but no accessories. I think you could feel disappointed that it's all you get for your money, but unfortunately that's the problem with buying first-hand action figures in general nowadays.


In summation, this is a top quality figure; and if money is no object or you can get it cheaper than retail then absolutely pick it up. If it had any kind of pack-in, like some webbing, or even a stand, then it would make the price easier to take, but all you get here is a fantastically sculpted and playable Spider-Man figure, no frills. With the swing back towards 6" figures Hasbro seems to be taking it might be your last opportunity to get a decent movie-Spidey in this scale for a while.


* By proper, I am in no way claiming to be an expert on toys or have anything to give other than my opinion. But, y'know. I know what I like! :D

Friday, 6 July 2012

Death Star

Another quick shot, messing around with lighting. This uses the Death Star hallway set I made, although as you can probably tell, it comes up a little tight for the figures. It gives nice shadows though, and generally works more than well enough for what I use it for (shots like these and general display).

You may have seen the above on my Flickr. This shot uses the same set, and pretty much the same angle as the one above. Versatile set design, see? :D

Been looking into finishing off my modern day equivalent vintage 12 back collection (that's a mouthful of a focus title!), as soon as I can justify the funds. Until then, these guys will do nicely!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

To the End of the War...

As long time readers are probably aware, I don't focus too much on the Clone Wars, or even the Prequels in general (brief thoughts on that here). Every now and then though, I feel compelled to dust of the animated guys and bust a few shots out. I'm lacking in Seperatist forces however; so even if I did use them more, they'd probably still end up getting bored...

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Him Grimlock No Bozo...

Him Grimlock King!
Just a quickie. As proud as I am of my custom Luke, the pictures aren't that great. Hopefully this redresses the balance somewhat...

Monday, 2 July 2012

Vintage Pick-Me-Up

In a first for this blog (and indeed, my life), I present a Mos Espa custom... The repainted vintage Luke Skywalker X-Wing Pilot figure!

I picked him up cheap in a pretty worn condition with the intention of doing a repaint, after seeing some pretty good repaints online, but as always with these things took a while to get around to it...

This is the original. The colours are nice, but the paint job was badly chipped, and I wanted to dirty it up a bit and improve the accuracy. For one I really wasn't sure if Kenner had given him a black helmet visor or black hair. Confusing either way... Anyway, it's not perfect, but I'm happy with it for a first go.

Things I like:

- Getting a more accurate colour scheme, like the brown belt and the buttons on the control box
- Going for blonde hair!
- Attaching the lightsaber hilt from my RotS Anakin - literally his father's lightsaber
- I now have my own Dagobah landing Luke, without having to pay in excess of £30!

What I learned:

- I went too heavy on the drybrushing
- The flightsuit looks more red than orange. It's not as bad in person, but the shade isn't right

All in all, it was a fun little project, and something that I will probably attempt again, should the right figure come along...

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