reviews

Tomopop Review: Chief Beifong Pre-Painted PVC Kit (Convention Exclusive Edition)

Jul 08 // Rio McCarthy
Figure Name: The Legend of Korra - Chief Beifong Pre-Painted PVC Kit (Convention Exclusive Edition)Figure Maker: Zwyer IndustriesPrice: $99 SRP for the original versionAvailable at: SDCC (Nickelodeon's booth) / Zwyer Industries Starting out, the box itself is actually pretty cool. It clearly shows a photo of the figure that resides within said box, as well as some landscape artwork from Korra. For those who may not know, Lin Beifong is the Chief of Police for Republic City and is pretty much a badass. As the sticker plainly tells you, this is the convention exclusive edition. Saying that, that means that this figure will have the glossy armor, as well as the gold colored nameplate on the base. She comes packaged in a few pieces that are nicely wrapped in their own individual pieces of plastic for extra protection. Everything arrived in great condition, and there wasn't a single piece of out place. Looking a bit more closely, she arrives in five pieces. Her two arms, body, head and the base of the figure are all easy to put together with pegs that hold quite well with one another, and aren't a pain to get put into place. Once she's back together we have quite the strong looking Chief Beifong. I was so excited that she was their first character to release a figure of, as she was one of my favorites in the series from the very beginning. I loved her tough attitude, and her Earthbending skills are just awesome. Taking a closer look at some of the finer details, I think she'd be pretty pleased with this figure of herself. It makes her look a bit younger in the face, which I feel most of us would take a liking to if it was us. (At least I know I would!) At first I was a little bummed you couldn't always see her cheek scars in the light, but I went back and looked at her in the show, and the colors are actually quite accurate. They weren't nearly as bold as I remembered, so they did very well. Funny enough, you wouldn't think having a gold nameplate would make that much of a difference, but I actually really prefer it to the silver. In some of the photos shown on Zwyer Industries' website it seems the original is a bit hard to read in certain lights, the gold was beautiful and easy to read. I, personally, really like the glossy armor as well, so I'm very excited to have been able to review the convention exclusive version. Though I'm sure the original version looks very nice in person as well. One small gripe I have is that I wish there were a bit more shading on her hands to make the details in the figures pop a little more. Mine seemed to suffer just slightly from PVC glob hands, but it's not a huge distraction by any means, just a little bit of whining on my end. Funny enough, when shown against the picture of the figure on the box, I actually like the way she looks in person much better. It could just be the angle, or perhaps the actual real life colors, as opposed to those in the printing, but I think she looks a good deal better in person. All in all, I'd say we have a winner! Zwyer Industries did a great job taking this 2D butt kicker and bringing her to a 3D format. Even if you can't get your hands on the convention exclusive version, the original matte version will be arriving around August, and will retail at US$99. Though if you find yourself at SDCC this weekend, I would definitely swing by the Nickelodeon booth and see if you can get your hands on this little lady. I shouldn't say little, she actually stands around 11 inches tall! You know what I mean though, go check her out! [ A huge thank you to Zwyer Industries for sending along this review sample! ]
Legend of Korra photo
Pick up this glossy version at SDCC
I bring good news your way this morning! Zwyer Industries is the new company bringing Avatar and The Legend of Korra figures our way, and it all starts at SDCC. The first figure (which is actually a pre-painted PVC kit) ...

Tomopop Review: SDCC Exclusive Transformers Combiner Hunters

Jul 05 // Jeremy Emerje Crocker
Figure Name: Transformers Generations Combiner Wars: Combiner HuntersFigure Maker: HasbroRetail Price: US$74.99Available at: San Diego Comic-Con - Hasbrotoyshop.com booth #3329 I love this box art; it'll likely be my favorite of the year (though the Transformers D-Style model kits have really cool art). The girls are all upfront and angry, and if you look closely at Arcee's sword you see Devastator's reflection. Strangely, the weapons are much smaller in the art than the figures. And for some reason, Wingblade is holding her regular sword instead of her special Spectrospear. The art is a slip cover and there's a window box underneath. Note that it just says Transformers and Generations on the front: no mention of Combiner Wars or Combiner Hunters.  Back of the slip cover. For some reason, this is where they stuck the Combiner Hunters logo, right on the back; rather strange place to put it. While the back of the box looks like glossy black if you hold it under the right light, it's got the faint texture of a star chart with coordinates and a huge Transformers logo scrawled across it. The star chart is a running theme in this set: I'll be pointing it out a few more times. Hunting combiners means a lot of traveling apparently.  The Combiner Wars logo finally makes an appearance on one side. Again, a strange place to put it.  I really don't like this logo. They started using it with Age of Extinction I believe and it usually appears on all of the major collectibles. But what is it? A fireball? A meteor? I really don't get what they were going for and I'm kinda tired of seeing it. It's also on the top of the slipcover. Joy... Here's the set with the slip cover off. It's a nice, large window so if you don't want to open the box but still want to enjoy looking at the figures, it's a great alternative way to display them. One couldn't do that with a box flap, but you'll be stuck with a homeless slip cover. The Combiner Hunters logo finally appears on the front, but you'd already have to own and open it to see it and by that point you already know what it is so, yeah, strange to not put it on the outside front of the box. OK, fine, you probably wouldn't buy these blindly anyway, but it still seems strange. Also, inside the box as the backdrop is line art for the three girls and Devastator. You'll also find more of those star charts from the back of the slip cover.  The back of the box features the same art from the front of the slip cover, just not zoomed in and layered up. I'm still not sure why Windblade isn't shown with her new weapon. Devastator is still present in Arcee's sword. Of course, that's supposed to be the SDCC Devastator since Hasbro is trying to cross-promote their Transformers exclusives this year.  Inside the box you're greeted by this. What is it? It's a poster! On one side you've got the instructions for all three figures, on the other is a poster of the three with the fully realized star chart. On it is information for each of the special weapons, various planets with listings of which combiner is found on them, their threat level, and the story for where the weapons came from. Interestingly one of the planets is Unicron and the combiner found there is listed as "unidentified". No doubt it's Galvatronus. I'm not sure why they didn't just come out and say it as the figure has been out for a little while now. Still, it's a neat, unexpected little bonus.  OK, enough with the packaging. We've got a lot of figure stuff to talk about. Since I don't own a regular Arcee thanks to short supply, we're going to give her the first look. I'm pretty happy with the way the colors turned out. They could have easily just used the same paint pattern as the regular figure, just in black. Thankfully they didn't so we get some neat applications here. The paint is also much more extensive than on normal retail figures with a ton of special patterning. Expect nothing less from an SDCC exclusive.  Her head is really interesting with the bright blue eyes, face paint, and the Autobot faction symbol. This might have been a little bit over ambitious though, as they were only able to get the line down one side of her face instead of both to make room for the symbol. The symbol already throws off the symmetry so I don't really mind. The problem is her actual face: it's too cute! She's supposed to be angry and hunting giant robots, but she's so bright-eyed it's hard to picture her being mad at anyone.  The condensed version of the figure mold's story is that one of Takara Tomy's designers really wanted to see a proper Arcee figure made so they made one on their own. Hasbro liked it and ran with it. The problem is she was sculpted to look like her G1 cartoon self: she's got that cute, kinda happy face. Meanwhile, Hasbro is basing all of their figures off of the IDW comics where Arcee is tough as nails and always angry, so her figure doesn't quite fit with the actually angry looking Chromia and Windblade figures. She's also modeled differently from the other two by having ratcheting elbows that the other two (or most Generations figures for that matter) don't have, and lacks the wrist articulation that the other two do have. The figure mold also originally had her fingers connected to her thumb in an O, but a running change opened the hands up to look more like the other figures. Good stuff, the elbow ratcheting comes in very handy for her huge weapon.  Speaking of her huge weapon, here it is on the right. It's called Combiner Slayer which feels a bit generic. It's a repaint of the sword that came with the massive Beast Hunter Optimus Prime. Maybe repaint isn't the word for it since the original wasn't painted. The new one is molded in a more rigid plastic, probably to take the paint. I don't know if it was intentional, but the new plastic actually feels lighter than the old one, which is great for being held by a figure that was never meant to hold it. The pink gradient is really nicely done and the black parts are covered with sparkles so there's a nice contrast there.  Can you spot the difference? On the new version the peg has a grooves facing towards the front and back of the blade while the old one has a groove facing the tip and handle. No idea why it was changed since the peg doesn't have any use to Arcee. Later this year Takara Tomy and e-Hobby are releasing Unite Warriors Grand Scourge which also comes with this same sword in all red called the Matrix Breaker. Not sure what the story is with exclusives and this sword. Incidentally the original version of the sword was called the Dragon Hunting Sword, though that could just have been a description. A lot of people were wondering if she could actually hold a pose with the sword and the answer is yes she can, even free standing like this. That's partially thanks to tight joints, but also those elbow ratchets. Nicely done.  She also comes with her swords from the standard figure. I would have rather she came with her guns since she already has that giant sword, but these are basically her default weapons from the comics so I guess it's fine. You can also stick them into the slots on her arms near her elbows.  Car mode is just like from the original cartoon and movie, just, you know, black. They really put a lot of extra work into the paint that makes it stand out against most other Transformers figures. There aren't very many black Autobots, so it's a nice change. Lots of really cool details inside like seats and a steering wheel.  There are a bunch of places you can store her swords and even turning them in different directions make them look like something different.  Time to move on to the repaint of Fan Built Bot 2014 Windblade! Combiner Hunters Windblade now features an entirely new color scheme of bright red, blue, gold, and dark gray. It's a really nice look, like a variation on the primary colors so they all compliment each other nicely.  Like with Arcee, the paint pattern is entirely new for this figure. Her chest has been painted to look like ribbed armor which I didn't care for at first, but up close it looks pretty good. The paint is excessive in a very good way on her torso between the red, black, gold, blue, and dark gray.  The face paint is a lot less kabuki/geisha this time around. Where the original was mainly white, black, and red, the new one is in stark contrast with silver, red, and blue. Plus her more traditional "hair" has gone from black with blue and gold "hair pins" to a very nontraditional red, gold, and blue, looking more like the helmet it really is. Plus her big hairpiece/fan in back has gone from gold(-ish) to translucent orange. I really like this look. Am I the only one who sees a little bit of inspiration here? The same shade of gray and gold, a different shade of red, but red nonetheless. No? just me? We'll come back to this.  Here's her special weapon, the one that's missing from the box art: the Spectrospear. The spear is repurposed from a weapon that comes with the Robots in Disguise 2015 12-inch electronic Titan Heroes Bumblebee. It's not bad, though I think it would have been better without the gradient: it looks a little cheap this way. The real problem with spears is that they're hard to make look cool on Transformers without the proper wrist articulation. They just sort of hold them out and wave them around like a giant baton.  You might actually be better off going with her sword. Here's something people often miss: there are two different places to mount her sheath. This is the first and most obvious spot on the side of her leg like a proper samurai. It looks good there, but is a little in the way if you're doing a lot of posing.  This is the less obvious spot, on the side of the cockpit at her back like a ninja. It's out of the way and easily blends in. This is my preferred spot, mainly because I'm constantly knocking it off her leg.  The new figure features a translucent blue blade its entire length while the old blade was purple and fades at the end. I like the the purple sword more to be entirely honest. We'll also take a moment to compare the two figures in bot mode. I like the red and black of the original, but the new figure is definitely more ornate and interesting.  Jet mode is not quite as interesting as bot mode. No special paint apps or anything, just red, gray, and gold. It has a little problem with the tail fin splitting, but that's a mold issue since it does the same thing on the original retail figure. I wish they would have found a way to clip the halves together, but it is what it is.  I didn't bother doing this with Arcee since you don't usually see the bottom of cars, but jets are a different story. This is what you're getting yourself into. I've certainly seen worse and aside from the arms the rest changes intricately enough.  They look pretty similar to me. Of course not perfectly the same, but I really feel like there was some inspiration here.  You can store the sword by plugging it in underneath. I'm not too crazy about this and the way it hangs off the back, but it serves a purpose.  Red, gray, and gold versus red, black, and white. It's hard to say which is better. I do like the translucent turbines. The old figure also has translucent turbines, but they've been painted white. Oh well.   You can also do this, making her a proper VTOL jet. Yay play features! You can spin the turbines too, but there's too much friction for them to do so for any amount of time if you flicked them with your finger.  Moving along, let's see how Arcee's original wave mate from the Generations line turned out.  Chromia has an unusual new color pallet. You don't see silver and white matched together like that very often. It actually works pretty well with the metallic blue. However, this isn't quite as creative as the other two. It's like they did the crazy stuff with Windblade first, followed by a black Arcee with a lot of interesting pink markings, and then lost steam with Chromia so they replaced the light blue with silver and mixed all of the colors around. I think they could have done a bit more here.  By the way, I'm not too crazy about the gun storage here. I wish there was a peg on the side so she could play RoboCop or something.  This is rather strange and interesting. Do you know who the wrestler the Ultimate Warrior is? Tell me that doesn't look like someone on the Transformers design team's strange tribute? I actually like it, it really stands out compared to pretty much every transformer ever made. She's a tough cookie so she's certainly the best fembot for it.  A look from the side. I wanted to show that there are two ways to configure the kibble on her back. The new figure is showing the default positioning with the lower part just hanging off the back. I'm not crazy about this since it prevents the legs from moving properly. With the original Chromia I've moved the piece up and under the clear part on her upper back. This moves it right out of the way, though it also makes it stick out a little bit further from the back. It's all a matter which compromise you're OK with. I prefer it tucked up and out of the way so that's how I'll have it for the rest of the review.  Time to look at her giant sword! This one is the Primeon Blade and it's pretty nice. It's a repaint of the sword that came with the Robots in Disguise 2015 Titan Heroes Optimus Prime. It has a lot of color with only the blade being a gradient at the tip, while there's a sharp division between each section of the sword just like with Arcee's Combiner Slayer (which makes me dislike the Spectrospear all the more). But that's not the best part of this sword. There's a tally of Devastator chest wings on the side. I don't know if it's a tally of how many combiners she's taken out, how many times she's beaten Devastator in battle, or how many of the six Constructicons she's taken out. Doesn't really matter, it's a neat detail.  She can also hold a pose with the sword. Although, I did find she has a bit of trouble with her grip. If it isn't held well and at the right angle, it falls out of her hand sometimes. It's not a big deal for me though, because I actually like her holding it with both hands over her head like in the first shot more.  Here's her primary weapon from the original release. Actually it's her only weapon from the original release. They had initially advertised her as coming with two guns, but they realized the second gun was actually Arcee's so Chromia got left with just the one. Pretty annoying because she gets just one little gun while Windblade has her big sword and bigger sheath and Arcee gets two swords and two guns. Talk about a bum deal.  Alt mode! It's hard to really nail down exactly what it is. In the G1 cartoon she turned into something that looked like a two wheeled van while this is often referred to as a motorcycle. Personally I like to look at it as a two wheeled car considering its size. It's a little more interesting in this mode, unlike Windblade who got a little blander in jet mode. She has some sort of design on the front on both sides, plus she's got some nice translucent red going on. Overall it looks really good.  She can be propped up by a kickstand on her side. Just wanted to point that out.  Removing the light blue makes quite the difference in the overall look. I wouldn't buy a car in that many different colors, but it's definitely interesting to look at. I like them both, but in this mode I'm leaning towards the Combiner Hunters version. I think it's the translucent red that sells me on it.  And that's the end of this very long review of one nifty box set. Normally unusual repaints like these don't get a lot of attention, but between the extensive details, huge weapons, and comic appearances, this is a pretty great way to make characters worth getting a second time.  Now have at it! [A combiner sized thanks to Hasbro for providing Tomopop with this review sample!]
SDCC Combiner Hunters photo
Walk quietly and carry a massive sword
It's July and San Diego Comic-Con is next week! We're taking an early look at Hasbro's exclusive Transformers Generations Combiner Wars: Combiner Hunters Arcee, Windblade, and Chromia. It's a ridiculously long name, but it fe...

Tomopop Review: SDCC exclusive Transformers Kreon Class of 1985

Jul 05 // Jeremy Emerje Crocker
Figure Name: Transformers Kre-O Kreon Class of 1985Figure Maker: HasbroRetail Price: US$59.99Available at: San Diego Comic Con Hasbrotoyshop.com booth #3329 This is a very big box set, I'd say it's roughly the size of an Xbox One, or one of those big coffee table books. It looks a bit blurry because the outside of the box as sort of lenticular wrapping to make it sparkle so it's hard to get a good focus on it. If you haven't guessed by now the box is made to look like a high school yearbook. The front cover features Grimlock, while the back cover features... Devastator! Not surprising since they're also offering the massive Titan class Devastator at SDCC this year as well. The top and spine of the box/book also has yearbook stuff on it.  And there's the inside, 30 figures line the inside of the box, all representing figures released in 1985. There's also a little section on the bottom right full of neat little trinkets that fans of 1980s movies will certainly recognize. This is also a really great way to display the set if you have the space for it. Some of these figures have had Kreons before, but changes have been made to give them a unique look.  Let's take a look at all 30 figures! Yes, all of them, but it'll be brief I promise. First up is Alpha Trion. He didn't have a figure in 1985, but he did make his first appearance in the cartoon that year. The figure isn't bad, but he really needs his long beard, otherwise he's just some guy with a lot of white around his mouth. A cape or something would have been good, too. Personally I find him the weakest of the bunch so it can only get better from here! Astrotrain is looking good in his cartoon colors. When the Triplechanger was released by Hasbro he was mainly in white and looked nothing like his animated self. This is strangely one of the most accurate representations of Astrotrain that Hasbro has released.  Beachcomber is looking really good here, modeled mainly on his original figure. The upside down and split Autobot symbol is a neat touch, though you'll see it soon enough on other figures. Kinda funny giving him a gun when he's a nature loving pacifist.  Blaster is pretty near perfect. My only real complaint is that he doesn't have the gray patch on his forehead. Looks a bit more like the Marvel Comics version this way.  Blitzwing looks just about perfect. Not crazy about the wings wince they were a minor detail on the figure in bot mode. Should have found a way to stick a gun on his back instead. Not entirely sold on Bombshell here. Body looks great and the face is nice, but the helmet is a no-go. Bombshell had a really distinct head with a gun sticking out and this is not it. This is one of those "if you can't do it right, then don't do it at all" moments. Especially when they didn't do Shrapnel in this set and his head would have been easily imitated. Cosmos looks pretty good. I do question the helmet choice since he has a head shaped like a really tall flan pudding. A dome helmet would have been better than this. Otherwise, it's good enough. I'll overlook that he doesn't look like a balloon with arms and legs.  Ah, here's our back cover model, Devastator. Not a bad attempt at trying to make a single Kreon figure look like a combiner. Scavenger and Bonecrusher are only represented by yellow marks on the arms, but still nice.  Dirge looks great, though he's supposed to have brown wings. If they gave him brown wings, he'd be perfect.  Grapple is pretty awesome looking. I can do without the leg wheels and wish they could come up with a smaller gun hand.  Front cover model Grimlock appears! Great representation and glad he comes with his double barreled gun. I do wish you could see his face details a little better with that helmet.  Hoist is really nice, though he does have that gun hand again, and I wish he didn't have something as identifiable and Soundwave's helmet.  Inferno is much like Grapple, just in red. He does have a different face so that's good. The annoying gun hand comes back again as well.  Jetfire is really great. He's based on his figure version and not the cartoon version where he was known as Skyfire. Not sure about the black helmet, since the original had an entirely white head with black antennae. I think I'd have preferred a while helmet instead.  Kickback looks like Kickback. It's one of the best likenesses in the set.  Omega Supreme is a very nice attempt. I don't know if sticking a scuba mask and tank on him is something I would have done, but it works, mostly. The white things are supposed to be tank tracks and they're completely pointless since they weren't on the original figure or any media like this. Instead, he had large quarter circle wings on his back. Claw hand is good enough, but this figure actually gets the gun hand right. I wish the others had this gun.  Powerglide is pretty good. Head's a little tall, but it's a nice attempt.  Ramjet is nice, but he's the only jet missing wings for some reason. I know he had some unusual wings on the original figure, but they could have still faked it.  No complaints here with Red Alert. I do wonder how long they debated giving him a red head like the cartoon or the black head like the figure.  Seaspray turned out nice, though the yellow on the blue legs turned green which is too bad.  Skids is probably my favorite from the set. He's colorful with lots of painted detail, doors on his back, and big guns on his arms. I really have no complaints; I think someone put a lot of care into making him look right.  Here's Dinobot number two, Slog. Actually, it's Sludge the brontosaurus, but Hasbro lost the name rights. Going by this set, it seems they've lost three of the Dinobot names for future figures. We got a hint of that during the fourth movie, and it wasn't just Michael Bay being strange about names.  Most disappointing of the Dinobot renames is Slag now being Slug since slag is now a Transformers curse word. Couldn't they just stop saying it and let poor Slag keep his name? Figure is nice enough anyway. Smokescreen is also a great one; check out the windows on his legs. Like with Skids, it's hard to go wrong with the doors.  Hey, Snarl gets to keep his name! He's got a decent likeness in the head and body. They tried to imitate the plates on his legs with gold lines; it works well enough.  Swoop wasn't as lucky as Snarl and has now been renamed Strafe. That's too bad because we've already got a character named Strafe and now things are getting confusing. Ignoring the name, it's a fair likeness to the original toy rather than the blue cartoon model. What I don't get is why they gave him the bird helmet when this figure doesn't transform. Would have been great with a different helmet.  There's Thrust, the last of our Conehead team. Probably the best of the group since his wings are basically the right color.  Topspin is kinda hard to do wrong since his figure didn't have a ton of details to begin with. I do like the chest art. Too bad his partner Twin Twist is missing from the set. Tracks looks pretty great with really cool body art. He also has wings, so the attention to detail is a good fit.  And the last figure is Warpath! No real complaints here; he even has his chest canon. I do think painting his feet gray like tank treads would have been a good idea. So that's the figures, let's take a look at the little bonus trinkets in the set.  Here's Grimlock in a letterman jacket with the Dinobot team. I figure the Autobot cover model would wear this. Meanwhile the Decepticon cover model gets a denim jacket. The jocks wore letterman jackets while the bad boys wear denim. That's just the way things worked in the '80s. Guess the movie! OK, it's probably not that hard; there aren't a lot of movies where a sports almanac is important. The three Back to the Future references here include the almanac, a Doc Brown wig, and a page of the newspaper featuring the clock tower.  Also a reference to BTTF is this "JetFire be good" album that at first had me wondering why there was a CD in the set until I made the connection.  How about some Goonies references? Here's not-Chunk with the treasure map and not-Sloth with a not-Baby Ruth bar.  I'm going to guess this detention notice is from the Breakfast Club because I can't think of any other movies from 1985 where that would be a thing.  I haven't yet figured out what these coins go with. They're numbered 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50. They might be treasure from Goonies or could be arcade tokens. I have no idea.  Last piece is a box of Unicron Crunch cereal. Probably just a fun '80s prop.  So that's the set of 30 figures with a bunch of fun little parodies of different '80s movies. It's a good set, but great if you're a Kreon collector. US$59.99 is a lot of money for a set of Kreons, but it comes to only US$2 per figure which is a heck of a deal. I think if I was a teacher giving Hasbro's art project here a grade, it would be an easy A-.  [Massive thanks to Hasbro for the review sample!]
SDCC Kreon Class of 1985 photo
Top of the class
Back in 2011 Hasbro had this novel idea to take on LEGO head to head in the toy aisles by making their own brand of building blocks. Kre-O ended up being a somewhat notorious building system. It premiered as a line ...


Tomopop Review: Ques Q's Image Model Lene

Jun 12 // Chris Seto
Figure Name: Image Model LeneFigure Maker: QuesQRetail Price: ¥23,544Available at: AmiAmi | HobbyLink Japan | Hobby Search There have been quite a few reviews of Ines online already, since she was the first to be released so this review will focus on Lene. There are a lot of similarities between the two and where things are relevant, we will note the differences or similarities. But for now, lets look at the box! The box is pretty large to cover both Lene and her Shinki armour, but the window is big enough to see everything inside the box. There's also a window at the back so you get to see the back of the shinki as well. There are no windows on the side though, we just get some images of the completed figure. And here's how she looks out of the box and assembled. QuesQ have done a very good job at replicating the details of the garage kit original. There are some some differences and additions, most of which don't actually make much sense. The most obvious one is the base. QuesQ has provided the kit with a circular black disk for the base and some hooks on the feet. Ines has a white disk which is pretty much identical. The thing is... they are unnecessary. The shinki stands very well on its own. The sword may benefit from the uneven surface and not slip, but it's perfectly capable of standing on its own. Taking a closer look at Lene herself, The paintjob on her is clean and tidy. The only oddity is that the parts around the hip are raised and the sections where the parts connect are shaded in such a way that it's difficult to tell if the parts are separate or molded as part of the body. It's not something you notice on general inspection, and it doesn't really detract from the figure as a whole, but it's just a minor niggle which bothered me a little. And here's how the Shinki armour looks like on its own. Note that there is no base in this photo, just to show its stability. In a sense, the shinki is almost a separate figure rather an accessory. It actually takes up more space than Lene herself. As for the Ines figure, the Black shinki is almost identical, save for the arms being swapped over so the sword rests with the right hand instead of left, as well as one other slight alteration for the figure. Unlike the black armour for Ines, there's a peg in the right leg of the white shinki armour to hold Lene in place. It's a nice addition, and it does help, but again, it's not actually necessary. Lene is able to stand in place on her own. As a result, Lene is able to stand with the black shinki for Ines, but due to the peg on the white shinki, Ines is not able to do the same. At least not properly. Instead of putting the foot in the area where its meant to go and provides a stable footing, the peg forces you to balance the foot of Ines on the peg itself. Still, you can get Ines to pose on her sister's shinki... Just about. Despite the two shinki sharing so much in terms of design, the little differences make little things like swapping the shinki armours between the two far harder than they should be. On closer inspection of the shinki armour, the details really shine. There were some liberties taken with the overall design as the original Busou Shinki figures didn't have the leg armours connected to the main body like these figures do. The clear parts are also held in place with small pegs, but they have a tendancy to slip off. A minor annoyance, but they can be put back in with ease. Sadly, the wings on the skirt are fixed and don't expand. A bit of a missed trick there. And here's how the image model Lene compares to the Busou Shinki original. One thing to note is that the image model Lene lacks the obvious metal joints on the shoulders and knees. Even the Busou Shinki anime kept them in the anime designs, but the image model figures did away with them. Not sure if the change is for the better but it would have been interesting to see how the figure would have turned out if they kept closer to the original Busou Shinki design, joints and all. Overall, the figure provides a strong case for purchase. It's well sculpted, highly detailed and has a rather catching pose. The only problem is the brick wall which you slam into just as you hit the "buy" button, the price!! Let's not beat around the bush here, ¥24,000 is an incredibly high price to pay for a figure, and these figures aren't even that large. Standing around 24cm, it would usually occupy the 1/7 scale bracket, but since this is Busou Shinki we're talking about, these are actually larger than the source material. In any case, very few PVC figures break the ¥20k barrier, and those tend to be of the 1/4 scale variety.  Are these Busou Shinki ladies good? Heck yes! Are they very good?? Yes to that too!! Are they ¥24,000 good? No. Putting things into perspective, these releases from QuesQ are MORE expensive than the original garage kits when they were on sale from Grizzry Panda! Maybe it was due to Konami licensing costs. Perhaps you could argue that the shinki armours are large enough to be called a separate figure (hah!) or maybe it was something else entirely, but that doesn't change the fact that these ladies are prohibitively expensive. Even though they are great figures, they don't quite justify the price tag which have been slapped on them -And the only changes made are the provisioning of a base for each figure, and a peg to keep Lene stable, neither of which are actually necessary! If they were priced better, these two would be instant recommendations but as they are, only the most die-hard fans would probably want to get them as the price of entry is just too high.  Perhaps they will find their way to the bargain bin later on, but given the very limited nature of QuesQ releases, I doubt we will see reductions in price for these ladies anytime soon and once they are gone, they will be gone for good!  If you decide to take the plunge, I doubt you will be disappointed in your purchase, but steel yourself for the dent they will put on your wallet!
Review Image Model Lene photo
Install Dream
It wasn't too long ago that many collectors would look at the dealer booth section of events like Wonder Festival to look at the works of the garage kit makes and just admire and think, "I wish that was a PVC figure..." Well,...

Tomopop Review: Titanfall Stryder by Threezero

May 21 // Tianxiao Ma
Figure Name: StryderFigure Maker: ThreezeroRetail Price: US$430Available at: Threezero store | Sideshow Collectibles | Big Bad Toy Store  This is my first review of a Threezero collectible. So if you've collected Threezero stuff before, some of this post might be old hat to you. Also, since this is a pre-production sample, a lot of the packaging and finish may not be final. My first impression was: "This is probably the craziest thing I've ever reviewed." Even getting through all the layers of bubble wrap was a saga, as I didn't want something to come loose or break off as I was pulling away the packing materials. The figure's gigantic by the way: 20" tall! That's just shy of two feet! In fact, I couldn't do this shoot on my usual tabletop space. I had to pack it into another box (wouldn't fit in my backpack) and take it outside. Fortunately, I had plenty of daylight to work with and a suitable location in mind. The first thing that struck me was the paint job - specifically the weathering. No detail was left un-weathered and it does a great job making the Titan look grungy and worn-in. I think the attention to detail goes past "devout" and enters "fanatical" territory. Despite the figure's size, there is a delicacy that makes me hesitant to play around with it too much. Part of that is from the figure's design, but the use of lightweight plastics in its construction also concerns me a bit regarding durability. Still, it survived the shipping process without any problems so maybe my fears are unfounded. Threezero shipped this with a plasma railgun, but if you order from their store you'll get a bonus XO-16 chaingun. The railgun is absolutely enormous but lightweight, and you can fit it (with some effort) into the Stryder's hands. Its ammo cylinder can revolve and be detached. Speaking of hands, this is a good time to start walking you through the articulation of the figure. The wrist and base of the thumb are on ball joints. Each individual thumb/finger segment is articulated as well! The forearm can rotate just above the elbow, and the elbow itself is on a ratcheting joint that helps it hold its pose for heavier accessories. Above all that, the shoulder joint rotates on three axes. Each leg has two joints at the hip. The first knee joint has minimal articulation to give some leeway for standing poses, but the legs overall aren't very flexible. I don't think running or crouching postures will be possible. Both ankles can swivel on two axes, and the pistons behind can be disconnected for further flexibility. You'll find a surprising amount of articulation at the torso. I'm not even sure I've fiddled with everything that can be fiddled with... The entire upper body can be rotated and swiveled about the waist with an interesting joint system consisting of pistons. The tubing you see is made of a flexible material. Around back the thrusters and exhausts are articulated, as well as its "head" and missile launcher. But that's not all! Its cockpit opens up wide enough for you to seat the included pilot. I could basically write an entire review of the pilot figure, but it's a throw-in for the Stryder. Here you can see the core with the cover removed. The aerial is detachable (a bit too easily) so make sure you don't lose it. And once again, I'd like to point out the magnificent weathering work on the figure. But that's still not all! Under the hip joint you can find a battery cover. Pop in two AAA batteries and you'll be able to turn on its LED lights. They're controlled by a button on the back; press it once for red, again for blue, and a third time to turn them off. Rounding out the package is the pilot figure, which is about the size of a bulky figma. Even this figure is amazingly detailed, with cloth and elastic materials for its uniform! Of course he's also fully articulated for a variety of poses. He comes with a C.A.R. SMG (unfortunately the stock broke off during shooting) and some alternate hand parts to hold it. As I said, I could write a whole review on just the pilot figure, but he's an extra in this package! Figure makers will sometimes produce PVC figures at a very large scale. But the ones I've seen are usually very basic, without any real increase in detail or variety in materials used. Threezero, however, has leveraged the large scale to cram in as much detail and articulation as possible. You just won't see this on even the best made action figures. With all that in mind, Threezero's pricing starts to make sense. Yes they're asking for $430, but this is a lot of figure. Like Sideshow, they use the large format to its fullest, and that's going to cost money. But how many awe-inspiring centerpieces do you really need in your collection? [ Thanks to Threezero for the review sample! ]
Threezero Strider photo
The craziest thing I've ever reviewed?
Titanfall was one of the most hyped games for the new console generation, and may have been one of the most disappointing depending on who you ask. The premise reminds me of something like the old school mech shooter Hea...

Tomopop Review: Kotobukiya's ARTFX J Cardcaptor Sakura

May 20 // Martin Siggers
Figure Name: ARTFX J Sakura KinomotoFigure Maker: KotobukiyaRetail Price: ¥11,000Available at: HobbyLink Japan | Hobby Search | AmiAmi | CD Japan | Plamoya | Big in Japan  As I say in pretty much every one of my reviews, I'm a big fan of 'less is more' when it comes to box design. Sakura's box isn't exactly spartan but it's pleasingly straightforward. I particularly like the big 'wraparound' window which carries all the way round to the side of the box.  It makes the entire thing look modern and airy and gives you a great all round view of the figure. The left hand side of the box includes the original CLAMP illustration which this figure is based on. There's been some controversy over this decision to use the manga design over the far more recognized anime design, which I'll address momentarily when we get to the figure itself. I will say the box feels a little big - though Sakura isn't a small figure, I'm pretty sure smarter packaging could have at least cut the ends off of what's a pretty large package. Once out of the box, Sakura is a very nicely sized and weighted figure. She's a 1/7-scale sculpt but feels a little more like a 1/8 occasionally, probably because of the character's small stature. Regardless, it's a size which feels hefty and solid. Sakura is attached to her cloud base and can't be separated, not that you'd want to anyway considering the pose prohibits any other form of display. One thing I will point out is that the base is a hollow shell, rather than solid plastic. There's no real issue with stability but it's disappointingly cheap-feeling for what's meant to be a high end product. Sculpt quality is excellent all around, with Kotobukiya's decision to go with a massively ruffled look vindicated by the amount of life and movement they can bring to that gigantic skirt. It may be a touch over-the-top for some readers, but it definitely embraces the extravagant shoujo styling of the source material. Plastic and paint feel textured and high quality to the touch, and overall the entire product (bar the aforementioned base) feels well worth your money. Sakura's main accessory is a pair of plus-sized wings which give a huge boost in presence and impact to her overall presentation. I'd go as far to say Kotobukiya should have made these wings a permanent part of the sculpt, since I can't imagine anyone owning this figure without wanting to use them. Still, if you're tight on space, I suppose it's nice to have the option. As you can see from this picture, the bigger wings aren't actually replacement parts but instead add-ons. They plug into the top of the existing wings on the sculpt, which split at the top to allow room for pegs. This arguably doesn't look quite as good as an all-in-one sculpted piece would, but it's also less fiddly and more durable. The other, absolutely essential accessory included is a miniature version of Sakura's ever-present companion Kero-chan. He's very well detailed for his size, with a smart red bow-tie (unfortunately damaged on my example as you can see in the picture) and miniature translucent wings. He has a tiny peg on his right leg which slots neatly into a hole between the frills of Sakura's dress, thus matching the pose of the original art and making him appear to seamlessly 'fly' alongside Sakura. Let's talk a bit about that face. I've seen a lot of complaints about the hair colour and also the fact that she seems a little too 'chubby' in the cheeks, or round faced in general. I think these people are totally mad. I love this entire head sculpt to bits and I think the decision to go with the manga art style is totally justified considering the much more interesting look. Kotobukiya have done a great job with the hair, fading from a lovely brown-orange to nearly translucent at the tips. It's an important splash of colour in a figure that might otherwise be overwhelmed by pink and white, as are Sakura's trademark vivid green eyes. Though it's difficult to tell without a strong backlight, both the crystal at the base of Sakura's staff and the 'eyes' in its head are made of translucent red plastic. Note the subtle creases in the sock fabric at the knee joint, a lovely little touch. Detail sculpting is beyond reproach, with fantastic small scale work like the bow on these shoes. You can just about see where the peg attaches the shoe and base here. If there's a weakness here, then it's the same one I mentioned in the Eren review - ultra fine paint detail. You can see in the upper right hand corner of this shot that the piping on the dress band is slightly sloppy. Even if we leave aside the damaged bow tie on Kero there are a few minor examples of paint splash or slop on the figure. Though Kotobukiya are getting closer every time, I still wouldn't put them quite on the pedestal with Alter and GSC as far as razor sharpness goes. Overall though I'm scrabbling for things to criticise. It's another superb figure from Kotobukiya and without a doubt the definitive Sakura figure at this point in time. After so many years of dreaming, fans of Cardcaptor Sakura finally have a full size, top quality figure to call their own, and I'd say any collector who loves the show owes themselves this one. Now we just have to wait for Syaoran...  
ARTFX Sakura photo
Nice to see you, good to meet you
When I reviewed FuRyu's trading figure version of Sakura Kinomoto last summer, I was positive, but also still a little disappointed that we weren't getting a full-fat, big money version of the character to stand alongside the...

Tomopop Review: Transformers Combiner Wars Brake-Neck

Apr 30 // Jeremy Emerje Crocker
Figure Name: Transformers Generations Combiner Wars Deluxe Brake-NeckFigure Maker: HasbroRetail Price: TBAAvailable at: Coming soon! To start things off we'll take a quick look at the packaging. It's pretty much the same as the other Combiner Wars figures. He's in the North American packaging so it should be interesting to see if there are any sales limits for countries that would normally get their figures in international packaging. He comes with a copy of IDW's Combiner Wars #8 comic, the same as Dead End.  The back of the package has a strange little oversight on it. Even though it's supposed to feature all five G1 characters they accidentally replaced Dead End with Brake-Neck instead of Offroad. Oops.  Bot mode is pretty imposing. He's big and bulky and has one neat feature not found on any of the Aerialbots. The molds used for Breakdown and Dead End (and of course Brake-Neck) have an extra part making up the chest that covers the combining peg. It's something unique that really changes up their look compared to other Combiner Wars figures. I do wish he had something that resembled feet, not having feet might be a little too G1. For the most part the Stunticons feature new bot modes while their vehicle modes, heads, and color pallet are the only things that carry over.  Yeah, he has a bit of a backpack, but it sits in such a way that it doesn't really effect the look of the figure that much I think. It's also light enough that it doesn't throw off his balance at all. His legs open with a hinge on the side to fold them over when transforming. It's not entirely unlike the way these figure would transform in G1. I'm not sure what the story is with the orange paint, it should be dark red. It doesn't even match the red plastic it's supposed to blend in with.   The head sculpt is like what we used to see in the G1 cartoon and comics with the barbs sticking out of the side of his head rather than the the square head the original figure had. This is a very, very good thing. I'm glad Hasbro stopped using light pipes for the eyes on these figures, but for some reason they've been given really tiny eyes. They're painted, but they're so small it can be hard to tell. Speaking of the eye paint, if you have a choice of figure try to pay attention to the condition of the eyes. I've found a lot of them have chipped paint, probably from their assembly. It seems to be a pretty common problem so I hope they get this fixed for later releases.  Articulation is good, consisting of a mix of ball and clicking joints. Of all the strange places to put one of those clicking joints is the wrists where they fold in for the transformation. No idea what purpose that serves, maybe they're worried about them becoming floppy? Each figure comes with two weapons. For the Stunticons their primary is a melee weapon of some sort. In Brake-Neck's (and Dead End's) case it's a pipe. Not sure why they went with a pipe when the others got swords and axes, but it is what it is. The secondary weapon is like the multi tool of Combiner Wars. For the Deluxe class figures it's a gun, but for the combined mode it's either a foot or hand, while some of the Stunticons also have them acting as external engines for their vehicle modes.  I've got a few complaints about car mode. First, as mentioned before, the orange paint is just strange. It's not a case of them not being able to match the red plastic because the windows are painted red. Also not crazy about the out of place red block under the window, really should have slapped some gray paint on that. On the bright side the tire rims are painted, that's always good.  I do like the silver patch, the offset Decepticon symbol and that they painted the headlights properly, I have to give them credit on this, he looks very good from the front.  Unfortunately that's where they stopped. There isn't even the smallest bit of paint on the back so no rear window and no taillights. I suppose not all cars have rear windows, but they could have at least stuck some of that red window paint on the lights.  See, Dead End got a window. To be fair there isn't a window molded in there and the original Wildrider figure didn't have a rear window while the original Dead End did. Like with Quickslinger and Firefly it's likely this mold was designed with both figures in mind from the start.  As the story goes, after Wildrider (or Brake-Neck) parts ways with the Stunticons this new guy named Offroad shows up and takes his place. They're uneasy about replacing their departing teammate, and even more so when Offroad appears in Wildrider's colors. When Offroad was first announced and we had only seen his truck mode people thought he was the same character as Wildrider.  But the similarities end with their vehicle colors. Bot mode shows them with entirely different pallets. In reality Hasbro had intended for Offroad to be an update of Triggercon Ruckus, but that guy is dead in the comics and Hasbro couldn't really justify making him a Stunticon so they turned him into a new character. The head mold is still very much Ruckus'.  I guess this is why they gave him a pipe for a weapon. If it weren't bent on the end you could say it doubles as a gun, but no, it's just a pipe. The other weapon doesn't serve any other purpose than a gun in car mode.  Here's the entire team. What was once five is now seven. Five Deluxe class, one Legends class (Blackjack), and one Voyager class. They make for a pretty imposing troop. But it wouldn't be Combiner Wars if they didn't have one more function.  Menasor is one big bundle of hate and looks the part! Like the individual Stunticons his primary weapon is a giant sword rather than a gun, made by combining Motormaster's weapons. Like Superion he's an action figure in his own right with a full range of articulation. Unfortunately the part of Motormaster that the cars connect to is pretty weak and comes apart easily when you move his arms. Also his hip joints, which are already awkwardly designed, are very stiff and hard to manipulate. Blackjack can just barely stay in his chest as the pegs holding him in are too short and thin. Some people have come up with an alternate method of configuring him in there, but you may just want to keep the chest doors closed, it looks more G1 that way anyway.  I do love that head sculpt! The horns are new, they weren't quite like bull horns on the original figure or the cartoon, but they kinda work. What I love is the face sculpt. A lot of photos don't really capture the details adequately, but there's a lot of depth and layers to the sculpting. Plus I think the expression is perfect! Leg mode is a simple matter of folding over the front of the car and adding a foot. It's basically the same idea as the G1 figure, but I wish the front could be folded up to hide the joint the same way the Aerialbots can. Unfortunately this is the only way the front will fold in this form.  As an arm the transformation is a bit more involved, but it's basically the robot mode with some modifications. I like that Hasbro tried to make Brake-Neck's arms do something different rather than just sitting at his side. So there you have it. Brake-Neck isn't a bad figure by any means, but I think there are just a couple areas that could have made him a great figure. His transformation is as complex or more-so than some of the other Generations figures we've gotten in recent years and his sculpt is really great. However it's hard to overlook that orange stripe and I rally wish they had put some paint on the back end so it isn't just a blob of gray plastic. As limbs he's very functional, though I wish he could hide the knee joint in leg mode. Weapon could have been better, but it's not that far different from the rest of the Stunticons. In the end only people who will be buying Brake-Neck are people who already own the other members. If you're already that committed you probably already know what to expect and will get Brake-Neck to complete the team regardless anyway.  [Giant-sized thanks to Hasbro for providing the review samples!]
Transformers Brake-Neck photo
Prepare for a wild ride(r)
Brake-Neck is an interesting name. It's a dual play on words using brake in place of break since he's a car and making it part of a phrase meaning to drive recklessly at high speeds. It isn't a terrible new name for a guy onc...

Tomopop Review: Transformers Combiner Wars Quickslinger

Apr 30 // Jeremy Emerje Crocker
Figure Name: Transformers Generations Combiner Wars Deluxe QuickslingerFigure Maker: HasbroRetail Price: TBAAvailable at: Coming soon! And here we are! Nothing really different about the packaging compared to the other figures in the line. He's in the North American packaging rather than the international packaging so it should be interesting to see what this means for availability in other countries. He comes with IDW's Combiner Wars comic #3, likely the same comic that Firefly (Fireflight) comes with.  From the back of the box. An error was made in the diagram for Superion showing Quickslinger as the same mold as Skydive instead of Firefly. At least the G1 team members are correct, unlike on Brake-Neck's package. But that's enough about the package, let's get to the figure. And here's Quickslinger! People who already own Firefly will know what to expect from Quickslinger, but there are still some things worth pointing out. The colors come from a couple difference influences. For the most part the figure is based on the colors from the original G1 figure. However the black hands and feet make their way from the G1 cartoon. The blue visor is likely IDW's doing or maybe just Hasbro wanting to break things up a bit. If you want him with the orange visor you'll have to get the Takara Tomy version. The use of black really helps to separate the two even though they're basically the exact same figure. The gold paint is also nice, it's very shiny. Firefly's silver on white treatment doesn't really do it for me. Don't get me wrong, Firefly isn't a bad looking figure, I just don't find it as interesting despite all the red.  From the side you can get an idea of how massive his lower legs are. I actually don't mid that since it gives him some great stability. People complain about the legs being hollow, but really, they kinda have to be for the transformation process. He's actually a pretty sturdy figure and the hollow legs help with the combined mode.  He does have a lot of stuff on his back, all of the Aerialbots do, but it's a far cry from the original G1 figure that had what amounted to tiny jets on their backs. His transformation isn't quite as straightforward as it looks.  A closer look at his face reveals something interesting. I don't know if it's intentional or just a flaw in the mold, but there's this 'crack' going across his forehead. He was killed in the comics (though expected to return somehow eventually) hence him being left out of the team originally, so I'll take it as battle damage. Typically he's viewed as a little guy and something of a braggart, but that face is all business. Dying sure does change a bot.   His articulation pretty good, a nice combination of ball joints and clicky ones. I'm especially happy with the bicep swivel that all Combiner Wars figures have. Every now and then Hasbro leaves them out so I'm always happy to see them used. Wrist articulation would have been nice, but this is what's normal for Deluxe class figures these days.  He does have the added benefit of being able to look up. His head is sculpted in such a way to give enough clearance for him to do this. Not all of the figures in the line can do this and it's not a part of the transformation so it's a nice little extra.  He's also pretty well armed. All CW figures have two weapons. The first is their primary which varies from figure to figure. Some have guns and others have melee arms. Then there's the secondary weapon, capable of  taking multiple forms. Aside from being a weapon it can also turn into a foot or articulated hand for the combined form. In vehicle mode some even turn into engines. Some say they're too small as feet and too big as hands, but I think they're fine as is. I feel like this jet mode suits him better than it does Firefly. On the G1 figure his wings run even with the top of the jet where the original Firefly (or Fireflight) had his wings run even with the bottom of the jet. In all likelihood this mold was designed with both figures in mind from the start, but I definitely see more G1 in this figure than in the Firefly version. Usually all white would make a figure blander, but for some reason I like him more than the red. Maybe it's the orange cockpit, I was never a fan of the silver one.  It's a bit strange, but these Deluxe class figures don't have proper landing gear. This mold does have a front wheel, but the others don't. So he basically just props himself up on his feet. I wish they would have sculpted fake wheels into his feet at least. I guess he's lucky to have feet at all, some of the others don't.  He does a fair enough job of hiding his bot parts. Surprisingly they didn't take the simple method of having his lower legs slide up over his thighs. Instead the legs split and fold up and over the thighs. It seems more complicated, I'm not entirely sure what the benefit is, except that in the long run you don't have to worry about the sliding parts wearing out and the figure not properly standing. Nearly all of the CW figures use a variation on this leg transformation.  Of course you can also mount the weapons under the wings if you want. These figures all have multiple 5mm ports you can plug weapons into so you can stick weapons into different places. Each figure has ports in different places so placement is up to you. The complete team is pretty impressive, made up of five Deluxe class, one Legends class, and one Voyager class. A lot of people thought Alpha Bravo looked too much like Quickslinger, but side by side they couldn't be any more different. Of course we still have to cover their main purpose, to combine! Superion is nothing short of impressive towering at a foot tall. Here I have Quickslinger acting as a leg. Back in the G1 days the jet side of the leg was always in the back. I was never a big fan of that. If a giant robot is made of a bunch of vehicles I want to see vehicle parts. I'm happy with the way these are configured. I've seen a lot of people display these with the lower legs backwards, but you lose the knee joint in the process so I don't really see the point.  Superion is an action figure just like any other and has all of the articulation you'd expect from a large figure. He's also very solid and well balanced, possibly the best combiner that Hasbro has ever made.  Here's Quickslinger as an arm. Where the leg configuration isn't all that much different from his jet mode, the arm configuration is more like his bot mode. There's a lot of clearance here thanks to the jets being fairly thin characters so you get a lot of ROM from the arms. The bot thighs acting as an elbow joint lets him flex a little bit more and the bot pelvis works like a bicep swivel. The shoulder joint is the leg mode's knee so there's a lot of movement there as well.   Hey, remember a couple years ago when Hasbro tried to make a combining Fall of Cybertron Bruticus? That figure was something of an abomination, but it had the right idea using a universal combination joint allowing for components to act as both arms and legs. It wasn't very well executed, but I like to think that Hasbro learned a lot from that experiment and Combiner Wars turned out all the better for it. I do wish they made  a way for the weapons to combine as well, but with all of the ports on the figures you can probably find a way to make the most of them all the same.   So there you have it. Now that Quickslinger is here we have a genuine complete G1 Aerialbot team for the first time in nearly 30 years! It's been a massive undertaking for Hasbro and it has paid off in a big way. It's a modern approach to a vintage character without doing a massive overhaul of the character design. This is just the tip of the iceberg in Hasbro's two year plan for Combiner Wars. The Protectobots are starting show at the time of this writing, a massive Devastator will be here later in the year, the Fan Built Combiner is in the works, and rumors have been running wild over many other additions among other things. Hasbro has been putting so much work into this it might very well be another 30 years before we see them take on another project like this.  [Huge thanks to Hasbro for providing the product samples used in this review!]
Transformers Quickslinge photo
He may have a new name, but Slingshot is back!
When Hasbro did their year-long reveal of the Combiner Wars theme for the Transformers Generations line last year fans were simultaneously excited and confused. On one hand we're getting proper updates to popular G1 combiner ...

Tomopop Review: Super Action Noriaki Kakyoin Second

Apr 18 // Rio McCarthy
Figure Name: Super Action Figure Noriaki Kakyoin SecondFigure Maker: Medicos EntertainmentRetail Price: ¥4,200Available at: HLJ Starting off with the packaging, it looks very similar to the rest of the Super Action Statue boxes for the JoJo's Bizarre Adventure figures. There's a nice-sized window on the front of the box, and pictures of both the figure, and the individual pieces included inside the box on both the sides and back. Taking the plastic casing out of the box you get to see a full view of all of the pieces that are included. There are several switchable hands, as well as an alternate head. Hidden underneath the plastic you'll find the stand (not to be confused with Hierophant Green), the "Bang" sound effect plate, and the instructions, showing where all of the moveable pieces are. Fresh out of the package, heeeeeere's Kaykoin! As you can see, he can actually stand up on his own pretty well, so that's always a nice thing to see. However, what's not so nice is that you can quickly see a few paint specks and slight scratches that were on the figure upon arrival. Here's to hoping these won't be as noticeable on a shelf as they are outside. This colorway of Kakyoin definitely has more defined features, especially when looking at the eyes. His bright red eyes are made to stand out even more with the dark outlines surrounding the whole eye itself. It stands as a stark contrast to his white hair, which is normally pink. With the earrings being so thick in places it's hard to tell, but they're supposed to be cherries, which are his favorite food. Out of all the color changes for this particular figure my favorite has to be the bright green shoes. They have a classy shine to them, and they absolutely pop! Everything looks pretty well sculpted from the back. You can obviously see the hole in which the stand plugs in should you wish to use it. There is a decent ability for movement and poseability with this figure, however I did run into trouble a few times. One of the most annoying things was the bend in the elbow falling off while trying to pose him. It's there to make it look more natural with the jacket, however since it literally just sits there with kind of a slit in the elbow that pushes on, it falls off pretty easily. Oddly enough it was only on this side though, the other was fine. It's definitely possible to do a lot of poses from the series, which is good considering posing is the mainstay in JJBA. Who else is posing while reading this review? Oh, just me? Well then. Back to those paint troubles, it's a bit hard to see clearly in the photo, but right on the side of those beautiful bright green shoes is a nice black splotch from his pants. Not exactly the most attractive thing considering how sweet the shoes are. Now what do we have here? It's New Kakyoin! Yes, if you change to the alternate head you'll now have "New" Kakyoin which is after he got the scars on his eyes. Funny enough, this is currently what you'll see in the anime series that's running at this time. Mija wasn't very intrigued with Kakyoin's newly found confidence, and wasn't about to listen to what he had to say. All in all it's a pretty good figure, I just had a few with my specific copy. If you have any of the other Super Action Statue figures you'll know what you're getting, just Kakyoin in his second colorway this time. 8This color may not be the easiest to find current, but the original color version will be restocked in May, should you be interested in that figure instead. [ A huge thank you to HobbyLink Japan for the review sample! ]
Review JJBA Kakyoin photo
Anyone have cherries for this handsome man?
One of my (many) favorite things about JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is the fact that the creator, Araki Hirohiko, allows for multiple color schemes for different characters. This is the second color scheme for Noriaki Kakyoin, and features much more subdued colors. Let's take a look at this cherry lovin' lad shall we? Hit the jump to see how Kakyoin's figure turned out! 

Tomopop Review: Eye Think, Inc.'s BusyBody

Apr 14 // Rio McCarthy
Toy Name: BusyBody The Quick-Pose AnimatorToy Manufacturer: Eye Think, Inc.Price: US$24.95Where to Buy: Eye Think, Inc. Starting out with the box, as we usually do for our reviews, you'll see that it comes in a very clean and simple to read box. The red and blue color scheme does well at getting your attention and makes things easy to see at a fast glance. It also doesn't lie to you - Bend, Spin, Animate! - that literally is all you have to do to get this to work. On the sides of the box it gives you some ideas for different animations you can try out, if you didn't already have one in mind. What they show are some relatively simple motions, so it's worth giving one of them a shot for your first try at posing them. Here is everything that is included when you purchase a BusyBody of your own. You'll get 10 of the blue figures to pose, a set of instructions, and the turntable to put the figures on. It's as simple as it looks. The first animation I tried was the simple running animation. It sounds obvious, but it's a good one to get your feet wet with. They were pretty easy to pose, I only had minor problems because I was shooting the photos, and playing with it, outside while it was still cold out, so they were a bit less malleable due to the temperature. As you can see, however, I did get everyone posed, and the video up at the beginning of the review was how it looked when I was all finished. Perfect? No, but it was my first shot at this, so just wait until I bust out a video of me making them do the Thriller dance, or something like that. The top of the turntable has the Eye Think, Inc. logo, as well as reminding you that what you're playing with is the BusyBody Quick-Pose Animator. There is also a neat little fact about the top of this... ...You can actually pop the top off and all of the figures fit inside for easy transport! I'm not sure why, but this excited me a great deal, probably because I have a habit of dropping stuff while I'm trying to transport it from one location to another. Now that they're all housed inside, I don't have to worry about losing one of my little blue dudes on the way back downstairs. As you can see, I've had quite a bit of fun with the BusyBody. I would definitely recommend it if you're looking for something to fidget with at your desk, or if you'd like to see how some simple animations might look if you're working on something related. It'd also be a great toy for kids to learn how animation works, especially if they've never really seen much about traditional animation. There are a number of uses for the BusyBody, so pose to your heart's content! [ A huge thank you to EyeThink, Inc. for sending us this review sample! ]
Review BusyBody photo
A fun animation tool at the tip of your fingers
Today I bring to you something that's sure to keep me sidetracked at my desk when I get bored, or just need a break from everyday work. Eye Think, Inc.'s BusyBody is the tool to do just that. I've previously written about this tool to cure boredom, but now I have it in my hands, so we'll put that to the test. Join me after the jump to find out what I thought about this little gadget!

Tomopop Review: Transformers Combiner Wars Powerglide

Apr 11 // Jeremy Emerje Crocker
Figure Name: Transformers Generations Combiner Wars Legends PowerglideFigure Maker: HasbroRetail Price: US$9.99Available at: Entertainment Earth | Big Bad Toy Store | TFSource | Hasbro Toy Shop Packaging is pretty good and does a nice job catching the eye despite being so dark and gritty. It's also fairly small, especially when compared to the Legends figures from the previous wave and earlier. The figures used to come with small robot partners that could turn into weapons and armor, but for some unknown reason Hasbro dropped them without dropping the price. I'm sure it was to save money, but it left most of these guys weaponless. Here's a closer look at the card art. It's nice art, it comes from the Transformers Legends mobile game, but the card... not so much. If you look closely you'll see the edges are frayed, that's because it's not card stock like a trading card, but rather a thin piece of cardboard. Pretty cheap and doesn't exactly makeup for the loss of the partner figure. The back of the card is basically just advertising the series.Would have been an ideal place to put a bio, even it were multilingual.  Let's take a closer look at the figure. The first thing that really stands out for me is the color. Hasbro for a while seemed to struggle with red plastic, often coming out more pink than anything (you'll see what I mean later). Powerglide here is colored perfectly! This is probably the best likeness we'll ever get since a Masterpiece will probably never happen. For the most part this figure is spot on.  Hasbro just keeps getting better and better with their face sculpts! Only his eyes are visible, yet he appears to be very expressive. I've mentioned this before, but I really hate light piped eyes. Thankfully Powerglide is sporting painted eyes and they look great! Not a lot of kibble hanging off which is always a welcome sight. He also has great proportions with good shoulder alignment. When figures have arms that don't connect to the body directly they occasionally aren't aligned properly, but that's not an issue here.  From the back; Sure, you can see the cockpit, but this isn't a case of the jet parts hanging off his back, this is his back.. I like his broad shoulders, he looks like he's ready for a fight. With the flap hanging off the bottom this reminds me of those images of old martial arts masters from behind. Articulation isn't bad at all. Most of his joints are ball jointed which is the ideal jointing method I think. His shoulders even feature reinforced balls with a pin to keep them from breaking. I do wish he had slightly better arm articulation, but more on that in a bit.  There was something in the sculpting that really caught my eye. Typically to save on plastic they'll make parts hollow as an easy way to cut costs. Usually the hollow parts are pretty bland with only enough sculpting inside to keep them structurally sound, but they're mainly just empty space. This is one of the rare times I've seen actual detailed sculpting inside the part. You can see what looks like a hydraulic for the thigh in there. Someone really put a lot of love into this figure.  Transform! Once again Powerglide retains his A-10 Thunderbolt II mode though some liberties have been taken to the design. Not quite as cartoon accurate as his bot mode, but still a great looking flight mode. The one issue I have with the transformation itself is that the legs don't stick together very well and tend to come apart a little too easily. The hands are quite a bit more visible than I would like, too; it's hard to see them as anything but. I guess if there's a benefit it's this: They do give you a place to stick additional weapons, in this case it's Legends Swerve's Micromaster partner Flanker (in blue) and Legends Cosmos' Micromaster partner Payload (in white) in their weapon modes. Can you see why I wish Powerglide and the other later Legends figures included partners or at least weapons? He doesn't look all that bad from the underside. Where a lot of figures at this size just look like a robot with vehicle parts hanging off it, but the bot bits hide pretty nicely in the transformation. Couldn't help but notice his feet transform the same way the feet on the old G1 Seeker jets (Starscream and the like) did. Kinda funny because the Legends Starscream figure doesn't have feet like that himself.  And finally, here he is in gun mode. As a member of the Aerialbots he acts as Superion's second gun (or only gun since they can be combined). He's pretty effective in this form, equipped with three barrels and a pair of missile pods, maybe even more depending on how you look at him. The front landing gear doubles as a 5mm handle and is stiff enough to support him. Overall he's a deadly looking weapon is enough removed from his flight and bot modes to be convincing. That's basically it for Powerglide so let's compare him to some his past selves. Unfortunately I don't currently own an original G1 Powerglide figure, that's been lost to the ages.  This little guy came with Kabaya's Fortress Maximus DX gum toy and is one of the smallest Transformers I own. He does Transform, but you have to pull the arms out and put them back in to do it.  This here is Cyberverse Commander Powerglide from the Dark of the Moon movie line. For four years or so this was the stand in G1 Powerglide for many people. It may only loosely resemble the guy, but he's quite the transforming marvel. He's a little smaller than Legends Powerglide, but has a lot more articulation and probably twice as many moving parts to his transformation. He's also armed to the teeth (or mouth plate) with missiles. He may not be accurate, but he's one heck of a cool figure.  Finally we'll add in the pair of Transformers Universe Ultra class Powerglide figures. The guy on the left was sold at regular retail and while an OK figure people hated him in those colors. A Powerglide that isn't red isn't Powerglide. Hasbro listened and Walmart stores got the exclusive repaint on the right. Well, he isn't quite red, more of a pink, but it was a step in the right direction. Incidentally this figure ended up being more accurate than the Takara Tomy version which was very red. Too bad these two have funky leg ratchets that either keep them too close together or too far apart which makes him look very rigid standing and hard to pose. The figure would later be repainted based on the even smaller Micromaster Stormcloud.  All have the same basic A-10 form. And while the movie figure might be the most slavishly realistic one, Legends Powerglide is the funnest.  Let's end this by looking at scale. He's roughly the same size as his fellow Legends figures, but there's been a noticeable increase in quality when compared to the Bumblebee figure from 2013 with some pretty thin yellow plastic. Behind him we've got a fairly average size Generations Voyager class figure in Springer, a taller Deluxe Reveal the Shield Jazz, and smaller Deluxe Generations Rattrap. In front are some of the Micromaster partners as seen earlier in bot mode. It's been a while since Hasbro has given us a proper Basic/Scout class size line and this is pretty much what we're getting from Legends. It would have been nice if they had dropped the price when they stopped including Micromaster partners, especially when they're still using molds that used to include partners. Still, as long as they keep remaking G1 Mini Vehicles in this way I'll keep buying them. 
Combiner Wars Powerglide photo
And away we go!
When Hasbro first announced the Combiner Wars theme for 2015 the possibilities seemed endless. And when fans began coming up with different ways to incorporate Legends figures into the combinations the doors were blown wide o...

Tomopop Review: Mecha Workshop's Armarauders Bellerophon

Mar 01 // Scarecroodle
Figure Name: Armarauders BellerophonFigure Maker: Mecha WorkshopRetail Price:  Roughly ¥28,800Available at: HobbyLink Japan | AmiAmi | Big Bad Toy Store [[Quick editor's note: This review is based on a prototype that I had to return after shooting. Due to various timing issues, I wasn't able to write the review during that period so I wasn't able to go back and take additional photos of things that didn't come out quite as nicely as I had hoped (as well as not having access to some of the photos in my other camera which I wound up misplacing). Additionally, I realize that I may have missed showcasing a few of the features... especially because I had almost forgotten about the docking stand entirely.]] The Bellerophon stands roughly 23-cm tall (about 9-inches), has a lot of die-cast parts, and is billed as featuring more than 70 points of articulation. While I didn't personally count each point, I saw enough that I'd take Mecha Workshop's word for it since the figure is articulated right down to the fingers (that's right, no need for interchangeable hands). More on the articulation later. The basic design, without most of the add-ons, is seen here. The prototype I used for this review came with the shields (?) attached to the calf, but I later realized that they're removable as well. The pilot is tiny. He comes with a translucent flight stand (which I didn't notice until I was packing things back up) as well as a backpack unit. You can apparently pop the figure's head off to remove the backpack (which looks like a combination of a jetpack and weapons system). Apparently it can disassemble to form weapons for the pilot. The pilot features articulation at the head, shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees. I can't remember if he also had wrist articulation, but he definitely lacks ankle joints. The figure is fully sculpted, fully painted, and designed to fit into a fully detailed cockpit inside the Bellerophon. The cockpit can be opened by pulling out the chest piece (which took more effort than I thought it would the first time, but was easy once I had the process down), as shown in the first image, then opening it up as seen in the second. I suppose that this mechanic may seem like a relatively minor touch, but this makes the mech seem more fully functional and vastly increases the number of display options. Speaking of display options, here's the Bellerophon with all of its accessories attached (minus the Pegasus drone, which I'll discuss later). All of the add-ons are in some way articulate, having a moveable joint where they snap onto the figure and, in some cases, additional joints on the piece itself. The shoulder-shields featured some longer joints so they could be moved quite a bit. The shoulder cannons feature a lot of mobility as well. The shoulder pads (as seen in the earlier photos) are open to reveal additional firepower. That's in addition to what look like nipple-pistols. Two jetpack pieces snap onto the back. These are surprisingly awesome since they feature articulation at the nozzles, allowing for cooler flight mode displays. In addition to the parts, some kind of an energy chakram attaches to the figure's forearm (or technically chakri). The blades are detachable and possibly a little dangerous due to the sharp tips. The whole unit can spin which presumably makes this into either some kind of an energy shield or an energy buzzsaw. Unlike the other accessories, the rifles don't snap onto Bellerophon's body. Instead, they can be held in his hands thanks to those FULLY ARTICULATE FINGERS. Bellerophon comes with two rifles so if you wanted him to go full Robo-Rambo, you totally could. By now you've probably heard me talk about these amazing fingers a dozen or so times and really want to know more. Each finger is attached to the hand with a ball-joint, giving them a wide range of motion. Then there are ANOTHER two joints on each finger. These pin-joints mean that Bellerophon can hold weapons, slap another robot, punch an alien in its face, flash music or gang signs, taunt other robots with the middle finger, and more. The thumb features a larger joint on the side to help make some of the hand poses look more realistic (and was especially useful when trying to make a fist). There's also an alternate, transparent piece. Given that I've never read the accompanying comic, I'm not sure what it's for but it still looks cool. Finally we have the adjustable docking station. This is just "Part A" of the docking station. Part B is described as "a mobile docking stand with rubber wheels that docks the Pegasus Drone which will merge up with the Bellerophon, much like a flight pack." And, of course, the whole thing can also be displayed with the packaging (which, again, wasn't included with the prototype) to form a larger diorama. The station is adjustable... but I was never able to get the pillars back down again. I was told that you're supposed to push the small button in to lock it into place (it automatically locked for me) and you're supposed to use your nails to pull out the button to unlock it again. The only problem is that my nails are usually really short. (There's also an additional piece that can snap in there to hold the Bellerophon in place which I wound up not using. If you to leave the Bellerophon in the display over a long period of time, you should probably use the piece to make sure that the Bellerophon doesn't fall over.) The "wings" of the upper platform can separate and swing apart. The little extension between the two pieces retracts back into the right wing (or stage left wing). Overall, it makes for an incredible display piece. Imagine how cool it would be to have a bunch of these platforms right next to each other... All things considered, the Bellerophon seems pretty cool. Given that this is a prototype, there were some issues with loose joints, etc, which should be corrected in the final product. The copy I received also apparently had some things glued on which should detach. Otherwise, it's a solidly designed figure with tons of accessories and a multitude of display options. You may have noticed that I didn't go into the overall articulation as much as some of my other reviews. That's because I decided to just cover it in an accompanying video. If you have five or six minutes to listen to my completely unscripted ramblings, be sure to check it out: There's a lot to say about this release... in fact, too much to say. As such, expect a follow-up story in the next few days that covers some of the additional items that weren't included with the prototype such as the Pegasus Drone. [Big thanks to Mecha Workshop for lending us this prototype]
Armarauders photo
One mean machine
A few years back, collectors caught their first glimpse of Mecha Workshop's Armarauders line. While the giant fighting robots were awesome, I was even more excited to see that the line used tiny articulate pilots who could fi...

Tomopop Review: Threezero's RWBY Ruby Rose

Feb 13 // Jeremy Emerje Crocker
Figure Name: RWBY's Ruby RoseFigure Maker: ThreezeroRetail Price: US$167.99 / ¥20,500Available at: HobbyLink Japan | Hobby Search | Play Asia | Plamoya | Entertainment Earth | Big Bad Toy Store Let me just cut to the chase and say this is a great looking figure! The attention to detail in Ruby's outfit is pretty great. They took some liberties with the design, but I think they make her more interesting. The number one change is replacing the red frills on her collar, cuffs, skirt, and boots with a red flower patterned lace. It's something unique you'll only find on this figure and I really like the way it turned out.  Let's start from the top and work our way down through the rest of the figure. Looking at the head the face sculpt is nice and well captured, but it's also a very neutral sculpt. Unfortunately you only get the one face which isn't necessarily the best for action poses. Maybe one of these would have been nice. However, on the flip side we might be a bit spoiled since swappable expressions aren't exactly common in a lot of figures like this. However, I do wish she had a some color in her cheeks. The hair is sculpted perfectly. They managed to get every hair right, which as figure fans we all know can be a challenge. She even has her red highlights, though just a touch on the brown side, but still look great.  Her outfit is impressive. It doesn't feel like doll clothes, it's very thick and durable feeling - more like human clothes. The corset is like a faux leather material with red ties that really pop against the black. It looks like layers, but her outfit is all one piece.  Her belt is perfect. To her right side you have her rose emblem, and to her left a row of bullets. While some features of this figure draw from elements of the RWBY "Red" Trailer I think it was smart to use the rose emblem from the series instead of the cross from the trailer on her belt. One neat little thing is a magnet that hangs off the back of the belt, but we'll talk about that later.  The skirt is big and puffy just like like on the show and looks great with all of the frills coming out from underneath. It looks great, but there's also an unavoidable problem related to it. The figure doesn't have a particularly long torso so the skirt portion pushes up on her belt which in turn covers her corset. It can take some tugging to get her skirt to cooperate and the belt where it belongs. It can be done, just be aware that you'll probably have to spend some time on this.  The leggings are faintly see through under direct light, but barely noticeable. They do have a tendency to get caught in the knee joints which wrinkles them up a bit, but give them a little pull and you're good to go. The boots are actually really cool. The frill is part of a sort of sock, though the figure doesn't really have 'feet', the foot just plugs into the boot. If you find the frills don't look right you can just remove the boot, pull on the sock and replace the boot - much better than making the frills part of the boot.  She comes with two different capes, both featuring a wire running across their bottom to give them some poseability. The first is a long cape first seen in the RWBY "Red" Trailer with a built in scarf that can be wrapped around the neck or hung from the side. There's a hook on the right inside by the neck that I can't figure out a use for. The short cape, more of a cloak I guess, was first seen in the RWBY "Yellow" Trailer finale and swaps out the scarf for a pair of crosses. Both also have some of the best cloth hoods I've used on a figure. They're stiff, heavy, and hold their position with ease like putting on a hat! They also hold on to the figure surprisingly well without any sort of fastener. Very well done Threezero! Hand options are good, but basic. Open, grasping, and closed are your options for each side. It's not a bad variety really, but something fun like a peace sign or thumb up would have been a nice touch to give the figure a little character.  Now let's take a look at her weapon because it's pretty neat and really big! First is the entirely closed mode which is identical in every way to the animation version. It's fairly lightweight for its size, but still feels solid. Remember the magnet on Ruby's belt? There's a metal plate hidden inside the weapon that lets it hang from her belt. It's surprisingly well secured and if you angle it just right you can hide it under her capes.  In RWBY her weapon can unfold into three positions. You can change it from the closed position to the rifle mode by popping the end off and and replacing it with a gun butt.  The hands don't have the greatest grip. It's not the hands' fault, they have a good grip to them being a bit flexible, but the actual handle grips are a little small and hard to grasp. If they were just a millimeter or two thicker. Also would have been nice to have hands that were shaped for a pistol grip to get her finger over the trigger. But if you do it right she can hold it securely which is what's important.  Then there's the scythe mode! As you can see it's huge! Obviously there's no way in the real world to make a weapon unfold like it does in RWBY, so this is a separate piece from the other two forms. For storage the spear portion can be popped off and the large blade can be folded down. It looks incredible, but it's far more weight than her poor arm joints can support. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of ways you can pose her with the scythe, you just aren't going to get a giant swing out of it.  Don't forget, the scythe also retains it's rifle function so you've got these removable ammo clips. One is undecorated, while the one she's holding here has a special symbol on it. These also come directly from the RWBY "Red" Trailer. Great attention to the details, someone at Threezero is really paying attention.  So let's do a quick recap, head to toe. The hair is great, the face is good, but could use more character and a little color. The outfit is really cool and feels great. The boots are neat and really well made. The capes are among the best of any figure you'll find, you can do so much with them. Her weapon(s) is just wicked and lots of fun to play around with. The entire package is pretty great! And the price? I think between the two capes and the size of the scythe the price is more than reasonable.  This is definitely a figure worth owning and I'm looking forward to her other team members, Weiss, Blake, and Yang being released, hopefully soon! [Big thanks to Threezero for the early sample!]
RWBY Ruby Rose photo
Red like roses (and just as sharp)
With the popularity of anime it's no surprise that the west would produce some imitators. There have been many failures, but some, like Totally Spies! (yeah, they still make new episodes), manage to find their legs. Othe...

Tomopop Double Review: Nendoroid Link

Feb 03 // Martin Siggers
Figure Name: Nendoroid Link The Wind Waker ver.Figure Maker: Good Smile CompanyRetail Price: ¥4,000Available at: Hobby Search | AmiAmi | Plamoya | Entertainment Earth  Martin: So Rio, after we had such an uneven experience with our last Link review, why did you decide you wanted to revisit the character once again? Rio: Nice to team up with you again, Martin! Well, even though the last Link figure we reviewed was rather... poopy... I couldn't leave my love for Link behind. Plus, as a bonus? - It's Toon Link, so it's much more simple. They couldn't screw that up, right? Martin: I will say that as a Toon Link lover from day one (yes, I am being a Nintendo hipster) that it's pretty great that the design has retroactively become a classic. Plus, he looks almost exactly like a Nendoroid to begin with, so that can't hurt. Rio: I will fully admit that with my younger mind when Wind Waker came out, I wasn't too happy about Toon Link originally. Granted, I also had a major crush on Adult Link, so... you can see why I wasn't thrilled we got a kid! Of course, I got over it and loved the art style after I got off my fangirl mode. Martin: I think some of that art style does bleed through to this Nendoroid. Though it's tough to make Link look explicitly cartoonish because that's pretty much how all Nendoroids look anyway, the big bold flat colours work really well here and do give a strong impression of just leaping out of the screen. Rio: Yeah, I'm definitely glad for the simple style, as it translates well and it doesn't go overbearing one way or the other with its style. Martin: I'll agree wholeheartedly with one exception - I think without the advantage of constant emotion the eyes can occasionally look a little big and dead, depending on viewing angle. Rio: Yeah, that does become a problem with certain poses. On occasion I feel like the Pokemon Banette is staring at me with soulless eyes, which can get kind of weird considering the cute package the stare is coming from. Martin: Big praise for the rest of the sculpt though. It's pretty plain and simple but with that nice crisp edge only GSC seem able to achieve on figures of this scale. Rio: Yes, the sculpt definitely looks nice, and does well for the figure with keeping it clean. Shall we move onto the accessories? Martin: I think so. Given that Nendoroids are pretty much static figures the accessories are a pretty big part of making them unique from each other. How do you think GSC did on that count? Rio: I felt there weren't very many accessories, in comparison to how many items Link uses, but maybe one day we'll see an accessory kit of some sort. What items they did include I felt were pretty well detailed and cute for the size of the figure. I will say this is one action motion accessory that I actually really like. Usually I find myself somewhat underwhelmed. Martin: Yeah, it definitely fits the more cartoonish style of the figure. I was actually pleasantly surprised by how much was included, considering I feel GSC's products have been getting a little bare-bones as of late. Is there anything you wish had been included instead of or in addition to what we got? Rio: I think the only thing I would have loved to see specifically and didn't, was just a bomb accessory. I thought it'd be cute to have one he could hold as if he was going to throw it. I think I'm pretty happy with him quite honestly. It's definitely an upgrade from the last Link we reviewed in my book. Martin: I'd have liked to see a Master Sword and maybe one of the more Wind Waker unique items, the Deku Leaf perhaps. Rio: Oh! The Deku Leaf would have been adorable! Martin: The problem with any Zelda-related figure is there are always going to be WAY more potential accessories than can possibly be included! Rio: Haha isn't that the truth? Link and his many gadgets need to have 5 or so accessory packs just to keep up with the little guy! Martin: I'm sort of surprised that hasn't happened actually. Just look at Bandai and their S.H. Figuarts Mario. Rio: Yeah, I really wish it would have. The items in a Zelda-related pack would have been more interesting and fun for me. Martin: I will say of the accessories provided though I absolutely love the Wind Waker and the extra arms. it would have been near impossible to put those standard arms into a composing pose, so the little extra touch is much appreciated. Rio: Totally, it helped immensely. I also love the heart container, because when you put it behind him so you can't see the stand so much, it's really cute how you can recreate him getting one like in the game. Martin: Honestly, I found the heart container one of the most frustrating accessories. The reason why it's in front of him in the pictures is because I found it almost impossible to get it to stand up behind him. The stand was just too flimsy and loose, though I'll admit this may be sample-to-sample variation. Rio: It was definitely frustrating. I had issues with it too, but once I get it where I want it, it's not moving. Martin: Perhaps it's just a case by case thing. What did you think of the face selection? Rio: I love the side-eyed grumpy face - that thing makes me laugh so hard every time. I do wish we had an actual "cat-faced" Link, but we got a pretty good selection otherwise in my book. Wind Waker was so expressive it's hard to knock it down to just a few. Martin: My big complaint here is the absence of wide eyed shocked Link. This harks back to a recurring complain I have with Nendoroids, which is the perennial inclusion of the 'neutral' face. Is anyone really going to use bland straight-ahead Link here? I think not. Rio: Yeah, definitely not. I agree, the shocked face would have been hilarious and great for so many photoshoots! Martin: Having said that, four faces is pretty generous so I'm not too aggrieved. Also, here's a plug for you GSC - I would totally buy a scale King of Red Lions to go with this figure. Make it! Rio: I was JUST thinking this the other day actually, especially with the figma horses and all that coming about. Martin: Let's start wrapping this up then. I always find Nendoroids a little tough to review because they're pretty same-y, but in this case GSC's usual fit and finish is a boon, as is the range's unique style. Rio: Agreed! I've not been super in love with many of the newer Nendoroids, but I'm really pleased with Link. I love having his cute little self sit by me while I work. Martin: He's earned my desktop spot too, so I think we're of one mind here. Any final words before we call this one? Rio: Just one: HYYYAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!! Let us know what you think about the review format in the comments! We'll be back soon with the biggest, baddest Double Review yet!
Nendo Link photo
Maestro please
Last time our reviews editor Rio McCarthy and I teamed up we talked about our collective joy and frustration over Real Action Heroes Link. It seems only appropriate then that we reunite in textual form to look at another vari...

Tomopop Review: Minifigures.com Freddie Mercury

Jan 29 // Soul Tsukino
Figure Name: Freddie MercuryFigure Maker: Minifigures.comMSRP: £14.95 (US$22.68)Buy it at: Minifigures.com Have I mentioned just how much of a fan of Queen I am? It is like a gift from the Gods (or my bosses). Already just getting it out of the shipping box I'm pleased with how professional this is done. The blister package is nice and secure, the card looks amazing and has a bio of Freddie on the back. And they even included a "Care Guide" for taking care of your minifigure. Looks like I'm going to need more pizza! Opening up the package, I looked over the figure and just as the company claims, it is a full 360 design of the costume he wore for the 1986 live concert at Wembley Stadium (look it up, it's a powerful show). The joints are nice and tight and the parts are firmly set in place. However I was in for another pleasant surprise when breaking him down I found hidden under his hair that he had a second "singing" face! Bonus points to Minifigures for that. He comes with a mic (of course!) so you can pose him belting out notes to your hearts delight. Wait. This isn't right. There we go! BTW: You don't want to mess with the security he hired. As you can see, I love this little figure. It is very well made, the art design of both the figure, the card, and the guide that came with it are great! If you are big into LEGO, I recommend giving Minifigures a look and pick up some famous faces for your collection. You will not be disappointed. [A huge thank you to Minifigures for providing us with this review sample!]
LEGO photo
DAAAAAH Di Dah Dah!
A few weeks ago I was able to do a story on Minifigures, an England-based website where you could buy celebrity LEGO figures. I was happy to see that Queen frontman Freddie Mercury was one of the figures you could buy. I beca...

Tomopop Review: ThreeZero's Tyrion Lannister

Jan 27 // Kristina Pino
Figure Name: Game of Thrones: Tyrion LannisterFigure Maker: ThreeZero MSRP: ¥13,000Retail: HobbyLink Japan | BBTS | Entertainment Earth Tyrion is great, straight out of the box. All I did here was stand him up and put a goblet in his hand, because... well, he kind of demands it. He takes a little more effort to get standing on an uneven surface, like the gravel I photographed him on here, but it's do-able. The figure itself is hefty, super articulated, and easy to pose. He stands well on his own, and once you've got his feet planted it's easy enough to pop accessories into his hands for photos. Tyrion comes with three extra hands (the odd one is posed to grip his blade, which comes with a belt and sheath), the goblet, and a copy of An History Or The Great Sieges of Westeros by Archmaester Ch'vyalthan. The book itself is pretty heavy as well, and I should stress now, very delicate! I don't mean that it'll fall apart, more like the paint will scratch off or chip easily if you aren't careful, so please handle with care. Tyrion's clothing is made from actual cloth, which is pretty great. It really brings it all together, in terms of keeping things realistic. The vest is, of course, decorated with his Hand's badge and some clasps holding it together. And there's the belt (lower image) that comes around the figure straight out of the box, which is different from the one with his sheath and blade. I decided to pose his hand hooked there for most of this review. As I mentioned earlier, he's got some heft to him, and though he's got many points of articulation and a great range of motion, once you pose him a certain way, he doesn't budge easily. That makes it quite a simple affair to pose him with heavy objects such as this book, which you can, of course, pose under his arm or in other ways than this precarious situation I've got going on. I went ahead and piled on that second belt on with his blade at his hip. At this point, you can keep his goblet-grabbin' hand on to look like he's making for his blade, or you can unsheathe the blade and have it actually in his grip (below). Clearly, my belt-tying skills are no match for a chamber maid's or page boy's, but you get the idea. With a little wiggling, you can get the pommel and grip into Tyrion's hand, and then he's in business. His calm, yet furrowed expression is perfect for just about any pose you can think of. Speaking of his expression, the last bit of detail I'll talk about in this review is his head. Just look at that - with a little PhotoShop wizardry, one can no doubt make this look just like the real thing. This is lovely work, really well done, and I like the paint job on the hair as well. Of course, it's one thing to look at these details in a photograph, and it's another to look at the figure on your shelf. The colors work rather well together to enhance the look of the curls, and in low light you can't even notice there are different paint colors at all. But look at the subtle sculpt and paintwork on his face - the shading for shaved areas of the face, the lips, and the rest. Just lovely. As you can surely tell by now, this figure comes highly recommended by me. If you're a fan of Game of Thrones, especially of Tyrion Lannister, and you wanted one, centerpiece-worthy, high quality product to display, this is a good candidate. One of the biggest strengths of a figure like this is he doesn't require a stand or any props to lean on, so there's nothing to take away from his presence on a shelf or table. Add his sturdy build and poseability, and the possibilities are endless. Check out the gallery below for more images that didn't make it into the body of this review, and have a look at Good Smile Company's retail listing of the figure for even more shots, exploring more poses as well as a different lighting situation (my images were taken outdoors). I hope you've found this review helpful. Feel free to leave any questions or feedback in the comments section below, and share images of your own if you happen to have adopted your very own imp. [A big thanks goes to ThreeZero for providing Tomopop with this review sample.]
Game of Thrones photo
Hear him roar
This month saw the release of ThreeZero's Tyrion Lannister, which is based on the image of Peter Dinklage in the HBO series Game of Thrones. When it comes to figures based on real people, it's usually a hit-or-miss deal. The ...

Tomopop Review: Kotobukiya's ARTFX J Eren Yaeger

Jan 13 // Martin Siggers
Figure Name: ARTFX J Eren YaegerFigure Maker: KotobukiyaRetail Price: ¥11,000Available at: Hobbylink Japan  Eren's box is certainly going for the 'grimy, gritty, military' aesthetic, plastered as it is in camouflage pattern. Problem is, it just contributes to the overall messy look. I've made my liking for clean, simple box designs apparent in past review but I think even someone who prefers a lot of stuff on their packaging would agree this is not the way to do it. There's two names (both spelt wrong, since the official romanization is 'Yaeger'), a bunch of logos and just general sloppy look to the whole thing. Not a great start. Fortunately, this base gives off a much better impression. It's a hefty chunk of solid plastic with a beautiful glossed finish and some excellent paintwork. It's always hard to reproduce wood, and it's probably fair to say this looks more like an artist's impression of a tree than an actual tree, but it's still a fine effort. Too often people forget how important a decent base or stand is to the overall look of a figure, so it's nice to see some effort put in. Speaking of that overall look though...wow. This is one of those toys that really leaps out at you immediately (no pun intended). I've long praised figures that go for dynamic, in-the-moment poses and this is definitely one of them. You can feel the action and the motion come out at you. The entire thing feels like a freeze frame more than a static scene. From behind the arrangement is equally striking and it's pretty clear Kotobukiya didn't frontload all their care onto the display side of the figure, since the reverse is still beautifully sharp and detailed. This also gives us a good look at how the figure is able to appear to 'fly'. It's because Eren is only connected to the base by one peg and that's on his gear rather than on himself. I was initially a little nervous about this method but it's a strong, solid peg that plugs in deep and has the dual bonus of being tough and not being very obtrusive. I will say that while Eren balances quite well if left untouched, this is definitely one figure you don't want in the range of glancing blows. One light bump will send the whole construction tumbling, so take care. There's also a second display option for Eren, which is to have him on show without the cape. This is achieved simply by popping his head off and lifting the entire part out through the nect joint. There are pros and cons to either look - he looks more streamlined without the cape, but personally I appreciate the drama it adds. Note as well the fine detail touch of the trad on the soles of the boots. I've always found that detailed shoe bottoms are the sign that someone took real care with a figure, as silly as that may sound. Butt shot time! However, unlike most review butt shots, this one actually has a purpose, namely to show off the exquisite care that's been put into reproducing the show's trademark 3D Maneuver Gear. All of these pulleys and rigs would be hidden under the cape were it attached, but that hasn't stopped Kotobukiya from achieving an impressive level of micro-detailing.  From the side, as well, the gear is a masterpiece in miniature, showing off sharp, crisp paint lines, excellent metallic textures and fine sculpting. Kotobukiya haven't gotten piping down to as fine an art as, say, Alter yet - check out the slight spill on the leg strap - but overall fit and finish is highly commendable. The plastic tubes which run from the gear to the sword handles are in fact solid pieces of flexible plastic which come in a separate package and simply plug in peg style to the belt. The other end attaches to the handle of the sword, as you can see here. The swords are again the beneficiary of an excellent detailing job - check out the patterned grip on the sword, which is an actual textured sculpt rather than just a paint-on. The sword blades come separately and plug into the handles, and are alarmingly thin and bendy. This helps in one sense since it means they're less likely to snap, but you have to take great care or else you'll end up with permanently kinked blades. Incidentally, the sword handles aren't removable, as the hilts and the hands are permanently molded together. Eren's face is simple, but excellent, conveying rage and intensity without looking too insane or over the top. A little bit of texturing to the hair helps it avoid the dreaded plastic-bowl-cut syndrome. As anyone who's read one of my previous reviews knows, I love flashy cloth sculpts, so it's no surprise I much prefer Eren with his cape on. There's some good detailing here too with the bunching cloth around the neck area and the breezier flapping as it comes out. There's also a telling indication of the strong and weak points of Kotobukiya's work here. The cape's logo is actually embossed rather than simply being paint or transfer, which a lovely, expensive feeling touch. But it's also rather sloppily painted, with the blue and white quite clearly not reaching down to the base of the raised segments. It's a great touch but also one that's not quite all the way there yet. Gratuitous crotch shot! It's worth it for the chance to see the great work Koto have done with the cloth around the stomach and groin area, which pulls and wrinkles very naturally. Notice again though some slight sloppiness in the paint, particularly around the straps and buckles. You have to look hard but it's not quite 100% there. More great texture work on the boots. I'm especially impressed that the little trailing lace at the top is actually independently moulded and not just sunken into the surface of the main boot. It's very fragile and easy to catch on things though so beware. Overall though, I am very very impressed. Kotobukiya still can't quite go toe-to-toe with GSC or Alter on pure fine detail work, but they're getting closer and closer every time and the strength of the fabulous sculpt alone is enough to carry this figure over any minor quibbles and into highly desirable territory. In a sea of lookalikes, Kotobukiya have succeeded in making this the one you should care about, and for all intents and purposes it's the essential Attack On Titan figure. [Colossal thanks to Hobbylink Japan for supplying Eren for this review.]
ARTFX J Eren photo
Titanic Effort
It's difficult to argue against Attack on Titan being the biggest breakout hit in anime in years. The manga is selling millions of copies, the TV show has been a sensation both in and outside of Japan, cosplay of the characte...

Tomopop Review: Sentinel's Metamor Force Dino Getter 1

Jan 12 // Jeremy Emerje Crocker
Figure Name: Metamor Force Dino Getter 1Figure Maker: SentinelRetail Price: ¥14,800Available at: HobbyLink Japan Starting with the box this is some really great package art. Artist NINNIN (XELFLEX) captures the figure perfectly which might really be more of a testament to how good the figure looks. Often the artists have to add a lot of embellishments to their art, but here it's basically a drawing of the figure. Off to a good start. The back of the box is a bit boring, just a gallery of photos, no story or attempt to hype the figure.  As I said, the art is basically a drawing of the figure and the figure looks fantastic! While not based on any specific previous version of Getter 1 this one shares enough cues with Shin Getter Robo that it might have been it's inspiration. This is by far the most detailed of the Getter 1 designs as the typical Go Nagai designs are very smooth and rounded thanks in part to their '70s origins. This figure has lots of jagged, sharp and angular parts, some of which, like the wing tips, can do some damage if you don't handle them right.  It's hard to visualize in photos, but this figure isn't just satisfying to look at, it's also satisfying to hold. Why? Diecast, that's why! It's scattered throught the figure, mainly in the body and legs. That big orange pelvis of his is a particularly nice chunk. One of the things you look for in expensive robot figures is diecast and this one has a good amount of it. However, at nearly seven inches tall he's surprisingly light.  By now you've certainly noticed the giant wings on its back. They look like they would make him fall over constantly, but they're extremely light weight, yet rigid, so they're sturdy and not likely to break with ease. That's good because you're going to be using those wings to support him in a lot of poses. They also sit very low on his back which helps adjust his center of gravity. There are joints at the base, but its more like a stress point than a place to fold them back. He has a one foot wide wing span so they can get a little in the way, thankfully they're easily removed, but he doesn't look as nice without them.  Let's pull it in a little. Love the head sculpt! It's different from the other Getter 1s, but instantly recognizable. Have you noticed yet how clean the paint is? There isn't even an hint of over spray or smudging on this entire figure. It's really amazing, I've never seen paint this flawless before.  The clawed dino feet are really neat, especially since they aren't part of his dinosaur mode. I should also point out that unlike most Getter Robos that use bright white in their color schemes, Dino Getter 1 uses bone white with some highlighting to really drive the dino theme.  Aricticulation is pretty good. There's some ankle articulation, the knee's are pretty good, hips aren't bad, but a little limited by their designs. Shoulders have the best range which is surprising because of those huge shoulder pads. Unfortunately the elbow articulation is very limited considering it's double jointed. Yeah, it has two joints and still can't do better than 90 degrees. Very sad. Surprisingly he does have a limited range of twisting and bending in his body and it's not even related to his transformation so that's a nice little bonus. Let's take a look at the weapons. The primary weapons, as with most versions of Getter 1, are these massive Getter Tomahawks. Not really sure how a Native American melee weapon got into the Japanese vernacular (along side the Zaku Heat Hawks) but it continues to amuse me. Despite their massive size they're relatively light like the wings so the arm joints handle them well. The pointy tips are pretty sharp again and you could probably cut something soft with the blade edge. Definitely not for kids! His second weapon is the enormous scythe formed from his wing edges which should now explain whey they're so pointy. The handle is the only part that can't be incorporated in the figure which I guess isn't so bad. You get two of them, one from each wing bringing his total number of oversized weapons to two pairs. Time for Pterodactyl mode! Pterodactyl mode is pretty creative and mostly successful. The dino head pops out of the chest and joins with a piece from the back hiding the bot head. The arms don't do a whole lot, but the hands can fold up and reveal little dino claws. The most elaborate transformation comes from the legs. The hips fold up close to the body and the lower legs split in half and join with the wings to make little rocket pod type things. The Getter Tomahawks can collapse in on themselves and combine together to make something similar to tail wings on the back. Unfortunately the dino mode can't stand on its own so for anything other than flying you'll need to find a stand to keep him somewhat upright. It's a bit strange for him to have such a non-menacing dino mode when Getter 1 is usually seen as the dominant Getter mode. A T-rex would certainly seem like the best choice, but they probably didn't want to make him too much like the Transformer Grimlock. Instead they made Getter 2 a T-rex that looks a lot like Beast Wars Megatron. Oops. As prehistoric flying transforming dinosaur robots go he's definitely one of the best. He has an imposing bot mode and a convincing enough dino mode. He's got huge weapons, decent articulation, and a satisfactory amount of diecast. Now, I know the price is kinda high, but consider this: for the material, its size, what it comes with, and what it can do this is a pretty standard price for high-end robot collectibles that are far from kids' toys. He's no Studio Half Eye, but few things are. If you've got the money and a thing for transforming dinosaur robots then give this one a shot. Now, how about a crossover? I know I'd like to see this fight. [Extra large thanks to HobbyLink Japan for the review sample!]
Dino Getter 1 photo
Getter Robo gets teeth
There have been a lot of Getter Robos, but never one quite like this. What was originally a group of three aircraft that could be reconfigured into three different robot modes (Getter 1, 2, and 3) has now been reimagined as a...

Tomopop Review: Kotobukiya's Tomo Asama

Jan 11 // Chris Seto
Figure Name: Tomo Asama: Zudon Miko VerFigure Maker: KotobukiyaRetail Price: ¥16,800Available at: HobbyLink Japan The first thing which hits you is the box. Specifically, the size of the thing! It's huge, as the Figuarts Noel Vermillion will attest. Part of the reason behind this is the bow used by Tomo as her primary weapon in the light novels and anime series but that's not all. On the side of the box shows a piece of artwork of Tomo in her shooting pose, much like how the figure is posed. And on the back, we get a few images of the figure herself. Not much else printed on it, but it does show a feature of the figure which is that she can be posed with and without a large arrow. Once you take Tomo out of her box, you see something a little curious. Despite coming in an over-sized box, there's actually not much space taken by the figure itself. In fact, the figure and parts don't really take up much space at all! So why the huge box? Well, the reason seems to lie with the roll in the back of the box on the left. The roll is actually a large poster. On one side is a print of Tomo. In fact, it's the same as what was printed on the side of the box. And that is the reason why Tomo comes in a huge box which she doesn't fill. As for the other side... I'll get back to that later. And here she is, out of her box and in all her glory. The pose has Tomo as her "sniper Miko" pose along with her Maus, a small representation of the deity which she is contracted to. She gives offerings to the little floating thing and she's able to supercharge her attacks, making them more powerful or increases her accuracy to 100%. Also on display is the bow string. It's actually see-through, which makes it difficult to capture in a photo but you can just about see it here. It's much clearer in this shot but it's impressively taut. There's very little slack in this string. The face gives an expression of concentration and the heterochromia is well done, although they missed a trick by not showing the more artificial element of her targeting eye. And here's the closeup of the Maus. Cute little thing, don't you think? It does float around in the show and is pretty small so this is a fairly accurate representation. However, it is little more than an ornament around Tomo so you can remove it without any detriment to the figure itself. In a closeup of the bow, we can see that it's impressively detailed for such a simple object. Given the high tech nature of the weaponry in the show, it's a bit of a combination of old and new designs, from those seen in Robin Hood movies, combined with the one seen in Arrow. Looking at the base, the overall look is much more simple than the base which came with Futayo. Tomo is standing on a stone walkway but there is a really cool detail on her feet which shows spikes driven into the stone as anchors to keep Tomo standing while she fires her arrows. The arrows have some wicked kickback! Looking at the back, the skirt parts wrap around her waist and appear to also support the body but actually doesn't really do anything aside from looking cool. The generator on her back sits just above her arse (and a great arse it is!) and stays out of the way of all the other bits around. And here's Tomo with her arrow. The string needs to be replaced and fits into a groove in the back of the arrow. It's attached to the bow by two grey connectors which can be swapped out so switching the string is easy and quick. The right hand is also replaced in order to wrap around the back of the arrow. However... The hand doesn't actually grab onto the arrow so there's a gap between the two parts. It's not a major issue, and you could theoretically stretch the bowstring back so it wraps around the fingers, but then it loses contact with the arrow. Because of this, I think the pose without the arrow is the better of the two. And now, back to the poster. On one side you have an image of Tomo about to fire her arrow and on the other side, you get a slightly blurry image of several rings suspended in midair. It looks like it may have been a badly upscaled image from the anime series and it took me a few minutes to figure out what it was for! But when I figured it out... So the reason for the over-sized box is so that Kotobukiya could pack a scale image of the shooting effect for Tomos' arrow! Well, that's the mystery solved though I'm not sure if it's a good enough reason it increase the box size like they did. As far as figures go, Tomo is a great one for fans of Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon. Kotobukiya has produced a much more in-character version of Tomo than Max Factory did, and makes for a solid display item in a collection. The overall size may be a little off-putting; the bow makes this a very tall figure which takes up a lot over vertical space. And the price is a little high, but the quality is above question and Kotobukiya has done a great rendition of the Sniper Miko. Fans should definitely look into picking her up but if you're on the fence, I doubt you'll be disappointed. [ Thanks to HobbyLink Japan for providing this review sample! ]
Tomo Asama photo
Shot through the heart and you're to blame
Once more, we return to the world of Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon, and Kotobukiya are once again the providers of another figure of a cast member from the show. We've had a look at Honda Futayo before and this time, we're lookin...

Tomopop Review: MegaHouse's Natsume Yuujinchou Petit Chara Land

Jan 10 // Jeremy Emerje Crocker
Figure Name: Natsume Yuujinchou Petit Chara LandFigure Maker: MegaHouseRetail Price: ¥4,200Available at: HobbyLink Japan Starting things off let's take a look at the box. Actually, these being trading figures meant to be sold individually this is a display carton that most people in Japan normally wouldn't buy. I really like the art on the front that was made for the set. On the sides are some really nicely arranged photos of some of the figures taken outside. A lot of these trading figure cartons are either plain with just text or printed in single color scale so as these things go this is one of the better ones I've seen. The individual boxes share the same art as the display carton, but the sides only have stock photos of the figures. The more creative shots seen on the sides of the carton can be found under the flaps hidden inside the top and bottom of the box. Not sure why they did this, seems like these photos would do a lot more good selling the figures if they were used on the outside instead of the stock photos. OK, enough critiquing the boxes, let's take a look at the figures! Of the five figures and one secret (though probably not especially rare) figures only one doesn't represent a season; more on that figure a little later. This is the first figure I opened so it's as good of place as any to start. Here we have Natsume and Nyanko Sensei representing winter with Nyanko as a snowman. And... On no! What's wrong with his face!? Seems what little paint there is on his face got quite the smear on it, and it's in too delicate of a place to remove it. So much for being a lucky cat, I'm not feeling lucky at all. Not the best way to start. Smudge aside I like the looks of the figures. They certainly live up to the word petit, they're very small, roughly two inches tall. Price to size ratio isn't exactly optimal, about ¥700 each at retail, for the size I'd rather they were closer to ¥500, but they're nice for what they are and the current exchange rate helps a lot. Sculpting is nice and I like the themes so I can live with it. Spring is up next with Nyanko Sensei and Natsume all ready for some cherry blossom viewing. This figure is more elaborate than the winter figure featuring Natsume in a dark blue and green haori holding a cherry tree branch while Nyanko has his beloved sake bottle. Two things I really love about this figure is going the extra length to make the bottle clear and that they painted on all of Nyanko's paw pads. Very nicely done. For the Summer figure it's a little hard to see Natsume, but check out Nyanko Sensei. This is such a cute figure for him, complete with grilled squid in his mouth. Here's a better shot from different angle. Natsume is wearing a summer kimono complete with a little blue fan tucked in his back and geta on his feet. It's a great figure, I love the way Natsume is holding Nyanko up. Autumn is my favorite figure of all. Yeah, it's a little simple, but it's very Natsume Yuujinchou with the way Nyanko Sensei is sitting on Natsume's head. The expression on Nyanko's face is just perfect with the fallen leaf on his head. I also like that of the seasonal figures this is the only one that isn't standing in place. Natsume is holding a bundle of wheat in his right hand to represent the fall harvest, but I'm more interested in what's on his left hand. Check out the dragonfly! Keep in mind that little thing is smaller than a pencil eraser head and they still got some great detail in it. Yeah, definitely my favorite figure in the series. The fifth figure in the set is a little more unusual. It's hard to tell, but it's actually Nyanko Sensei transformed into Natsume. It's based on episode six of Natsume Yuujinchou Shi, the Other Side of the Glass. In the episode Natsume is trapped inside a glass jar and Nyanko changes into him to take his place while he searches for the one that stuck Natsume in there. You can see the jar behind, but unfortunately it seems they couldn't find a way to stick a tiny Natsume in there so it's left empty. It almost feels like half of a concept and if you weren't familiar with the figure's story it would just seem like Natsume is doing a strange pose. For me this is the least successful of the series and from what I can gather it's the least popular among fans. And here's the secret figure, a redeco of the spring figure. Now sporting a more cherry blossom appropriate pink, it's a nice alternative, but not quite as nicely executed as the blue and green of the original. I wish they would have changed up the pattern or something to really set it apart. Meanwhile Nyanko Sensei is looking kinda cherry in the face himself.  And that's our six. They're a an exceptionally cute series of figures based on the Natsume Yuujinchou duo and look great displayed. The paint is OK, but could be much better. If you're a fan then they're worth having, but you might want to buy them second hand to assure you get the best looking figures. Still, the cheapest and most efficient way to get them is in a case. Were I to do it again I'd probably still go with the case.  [Huge thanks to HobbyLink Japan for the review samples!]
Natsume Yuujinchou photo
Insert Scarface "little friend" joke here
Natsume Yuujinchou (Natsume's Book of Friends) will probably always rank as one of my favorite top anime series of all time. For four seasons I laughed and cried with this series like few others. I was pretty sad when the fin...

Tomopop Review: ArtFX+ Arkham City Batman

Jan 05 // Kristina Pino
Figure Name: ArtFX+ Arkham City BatmanFigure Maker: KotobukiyaRetail: ¥5,500Sponsored by: HobbyLink Japan This statue came in a standard windowed box, well-packaged and all that, and in the style of the boxes from the Arkham games. I didn't take pictures of it, but I did use the background/insert that came with the figure for the backdrop of my own photographs. I was really worried about finding a good spot to photograph ol' Bats because of my temporary lack of lighting equipment and not particularly Bat-like surroundings, and I'm rather pleased with the result I got here. Alright, let's get this started. Batman is perched over some stone steps with one of his hands holding a Batarang and the other in a fist. As far as posing goes, this is way better than just straight up standing. He looks animated here, strong, and poised to strike. They didn't go for too much of an action pose, which I appreciate considering you spend a lot of time being stealthy in these games. With his cape posed as though fluttering behind him rather than swaying with his movement to the side, it looks like he's just been waiting for the right moment, which feels just right to me, too. We've got some seams showing at his shoulders on the cape, but it's hidden rather well by the cowl there and lined up to his shoulders for minimum impact. You can see them perfectly well in the photo, but you'd have to really be looking for it, and the figure would have to be less than 2 feet away from you for you to notice it on the shelf. For whatever reason, I usually leave the head shots for the end of my reviews, but I'm putting it up here next because I really like how his face and head sculpting came out and wanted to highlight that right away. The cowl and face have fantastic work done, giving Batman one of his usual serious, yet calm and calculating expressions. Really great detailing, here. Another great bit of detail is at his utility belt, which looks a bit dinged up from all the action he's been getting. The belt isn't a separate piece wrapped around his Bat Spanx, so it doesn't jiggle around or anything. Ok, let's take a step back for a wider look, here. I'm really loving the way the body sculpt and suit came out, just in general. Honestly, I don't have any complaints about this statue; I'm gonna put that out there right now. I have nothing to complain about, because this looks so great, and the suit is even shaded so the muscles stand out more where they bulge. The legs look nice and beefy, like I can just reach out and squish them. Now, here's a look at his weapon hand. The hand is kinda poseable - it swivels around because there's actually an alternate, so it's on a peg. If you want to have him holding the Batarang, you can, but you can also have him holding his grapnel gun. Both look cool, but I've got him shelved with the standard Batarang in-hand because that's just my preference. If you're a Bat fan, especially if you're a fan of the Arkham games, you can't go wrong with this statue. Kotobukiya has delivered a great, high-quality product, and if you can find it, it's totally worth your dough. Check out the gallery for more images which didn't make it into the body of my review, and share your thoughts in the comments below! Thanks to HobbyLink Japan for sponsoring this review.
Batman photo
Perched up on your shelf: he is the night
Kotobukiya released this 1/10-scale Batman based on his appearance in the very fun Batman: Arkham City game back in late August, so this is by no means a brand-spankin'-new figure. But it's new to me and I want to share my review.

Tomopop Review: Good Smile Company's Sorceress

Dec 06 // Tianxiao Ma
Figure Name: SorceressFigure Maker: Good Smile CompanyRetail Price: ¥8,381Available at: HobbyLink Japan  The sorceress is a pretty reasonably priced 1/8-scale figure. I think it fits in nicely with my Rage of Bahamut figures - their aesthetics are a little bit different but they all feature cute girls with whimsical designs. Assembly was a snap as there are only a few pieces to work with. However I'm not high on the metal pin being used to secure the bat... thing... do the sorceress' sleeve. It never felt like a secure fit. If her proportions look off to you, it's because of the art style from the game. The characters designs remind me a bit of what you'd see in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, somewhere between normal and super-deformed. Although this sorceress is busty, the design is much more conservative than that of Dragon's Crown's sorceress. Her robe is pretty funky, but I like the red-orange accents and the use of translucent pieces. The base is also transparent. I actually can't remember the last time I saw a figure with a transparent base... I might have gone a bit overboard with the Christmas lights. But her staff has a translucent jewel in it which lets you play some cool tricks with lights. Unfortunately her robes get in the way of a good butt shot. I think they also hide the fact that the sorceress has a pencil-thin waist. Again, the original character designs have those quasi-chibi proportions. However with the clothing and this pose, you don't notice it as much on the sorceress. Good Smile Company hasn't done anything super fancy with the finish; most parts have a semi-glossy sheen. The quality is certainly there. Overall I'm drawn toward how colorful and cute the sorceress is (though I can't really get a fix on what her expression's supposed to be). I wouldn't hold out hope for many more Dragon Nest figures, but the sorceress at least is a winner. [ Thanks to HobbyLink Japan for the review sample! ]
GSC Sorceress photo
Quite enchanting
Good Smile Company generally sticks to the popular properties (or pushes their own) when they make figures, but sometimes random partnerships happen and you get something way out of left field. This is probably why you're loo...

Tomopop Review: Max Factory's Mea Kurosaki

Dec 05 // Tianxiao Ma
Figure Name: Mea KurosakiFigure Maker: Max FactoryRetail Price: ¥10,000Available at: HobbyLink Japan  Mea doesn't have an elaborate base, accessory parts, or interchangeable pieces. I've come to appreciate figures that are simple in execution but still look great. For those who move or rotate their figure displays a lot, you'll be happy to know that unpacking and assembling Mea is easy as can be. There's absolutely nothing to do other than to attach her base. Mea is an example of Max Factory's signature style, one which they pull off better than any other manufacturer. She's sexy without being straight up lewd. There are plenty of ecchi figures out there, but I feel like Max Factory is able to make ones that fall just short of that line. There are so many examples: their Dark Elf, Cerberus, and Momo as well. They're all beautiful women with not much clothing, but they're more tasteful than similar products from other manufacturers. That's not to say this figure is in any way lacking sex appeal. Because dear lord look at that panty tug. Max Factory did a great job with the body sculpt. They maybe could have done a better job with the delicate details of the lingerie, but it's not really much to complain about. One of the notable features is the hair braid wrapping around Mea's leg. I know I spent a whole paragraph saying Max Factory's figures aren't overtly sexualized, but Mea is definitely more sexualized than their typical stuff. There are a bunch of small details that I love about this figure: the boob squeeze, the little panty tug, the braid wrapping around her leg, her coy expression. They all come together to make a great figure with an emphasis on just the character. Check out the gallery for more photos. You'd better do it, because this set was super annoying to shoot! Seriously, so many equipment malfunctions and failed ideas went into this... [ Thanks to HobbyLink Japan for the review sample! ]
Max Factory Mea Kurosaki photo
More To Love-Ru girls, please
Mea hails from To Love-Ru Darkness, and as you can probably tell, the manga has its fair share of ecchi elements. Before Mea, Max Factory has also made a 1/6-scale Momo Velia Deviluke from the same property. The two share a t...

Tomopop Review: DST's Marvel Select Amazing Spidey 2 Spider-Man

Nov 22 // Scarecroodle
Figure Name: Marvel Select Amazing Spider-Man 2 Spider-Man with baseFigure Maker: Diamond Select ToysRetail Price: US$24.99Available at: Diamond Select Toys DST's Amazing Spider-Man 2 Spidey comes in the usual Marvel Select packaging. As we've seen in the past, these movie (and tv) figures seem to forgo the usual heavily decorated inner box in favor of something basic (most likely due to licensing issues or the like). In this case, it's a generic lightning-looking design. The back of the card features a large character illustration alongside a brief bio. This space is usually dedicated to some product images of the figure and other offerings in the line. The other selections is naturally absent because Spidey was the only ASM2 character to receive a figure (which again goes back to an issue with DST getting reference materials in time. Granted, the company *could* have done an Emma Stone Gwen Stacy but there probably wasn't enough fan demand). While I like the visual, it's just weird to not see any product images at all. I own maybe thirty figures from DST's "Select" lines (in addition to seeing box shots) and can't recall one other instance of this happening. Before we go any further, I should mention that there are at *least* three configurations for this particular figure. I had known about the comic/specialty shop-exclusive "Fireman" Spidey and the Disney/Marvel.com exclusive unmasked variant. However, until this arrived on my doorstep, I don't believe that I was even aware this one existed. As near as I can tell, it might just be a direct offering from Diamond Select Toys. What's so different, you ask? Both of the previously announced versions went very heavy on the accessories and lacked a base. This one takes the opposite approach by virtue of featuring only one alternate hand, two web accessories, and a wall diorama piece (which can be mounted on your wall). If that wall looks familiar, you might remember that it was the Marvel Select ASM1 Spidey's accessory that seemed to come with every version of that figure. It's not a bad accessory, but I imagine a lot of fans probably already have one from whichever version of the MS ASM1 Spidey they picked up. It's something of a baffling decision as well when you consider how many alternate parts the comic/specialty and Disney releases featured. The actual figure looks great, however. The sculpting is great, the paint apps feature crisp colors, and the jointing is generally unobtrusive. The paint on my copy features a few scrapes that, for the most part, are more visible in photographs due to the greater amount of lighting. Now for the all-important question: How does the "sequel" stand up to the previous version? For the most part, the Marvel Select ASM2 Spider-Man holds its own against the Marvel Select ASM1 Spider-Man (note: this is the Disney Store variant which uses a metallic paint). Despite both being movie Spider-Man figures, the two are surprisingly hard to compare. The baseline aesthetic is great on both figures but the ASM2 Spidey sports some very different jointing. The difference is most notable in the torso area. The ASM1 Spidey has a torso that seemingly gets slimmer as it gets up to the chest to accommodate the joint. The ASM2 instead sculpted the joint underneath the full ribcage which gives the torso a more consistent (although less athletic) look. The second notable change comes in the arms which have been greatly simplified. Where the previous model had 5 joints per arm (shoulder, bicep, pinned elbow, forearm, and pinned wrist) the new only features three joints (shoulder, elbow, wrist). I can understand dropping the forearm in favor of a more versatile wrist joint, but I was initially a little surprised that the bicep joint went as well. To compensate for the lack of a bicep joint, the ASM2 Spidey features a more versatile elbow joint. I'm less fond of the fact that the ASM2 Spidey is missing an extra joint at the calf since that added point of rotation helps when balancing with the foot pivot/ankle rockers. On the whole, both are good figures. However, the overall look of the ASM2 Spidey might be a bit nicer. Interestingly, the ASM2 Spidey looks larger (or beefier?) than his ASM1 counterpart despite being of very similar height. It may come down to the difference in torso or the ASM2 Spidey's larger head. The ASM2 Spidey poses fairly well. The hip joints might be a bit thinner than the previous model and thus allow for better movement. The open-hands are great for allowing things like hand-stands in addition to wall-crawling and spidey-sense-tingling poses. Assuming you buy the specialty store or Marvel/Disney exclusive, you'll also have an array of additional hands including web-shooter hands with webbing add-ons. Those additions seriously increase the display value of the figure. All versions of the MS ASM2 Spidey seem to come with the new "modular weblines" accessories. One of the webbing accessories has a piece that can peg into Spidey's fist for web-swinging poses. A connector on the other side can hook into the other webbing piece. While I'm honestly not sure how this is intended to work, you can snap the pieces together for a variety of effects. I was going to say that it's perfect for Rhino wrangling, but that didn't quite work out. Oh well, I guess comic book Spidey had his issues trying to web down Rhino as well. All things considered, Diamond Select Toys' Marvel Select Amazing Spider-Man 2 Spidey is probably the nicest version of the character in the affordable figure bracket. The overall design is good, the paint generally looks great, and he has most of the poseability you could want. The biggest drawback is that this particular configuration doesn't include all of the alternate parts that you'll find with the other variants. The diorama piece, while nice, certainly seems a little redundant given that many fans will own the Marvel Select ASM1 Spidey which also included the piece. Be sure to check out the rest of the Rhino fight in the gallery, among other photos.
ASM2 Spider-Man photo
Is the sequel an improvement?
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was the somewhat lukewarm follow-up to Sony's Spider-Man reboot. The film notably improved on Spider-Man's costume, giving movie-goers something closer to what they were used to, while jumping all ove...

Tomopop Review: inki-drop's Tentatrio plushes

Nov 21 // Natalie Kipper
Plush name: Sweetoof, Jellyblub, Ika, and StarwhalPlush maker: inki-dropRetail price: US$24.95 eachAvailable at: inki-drop Let's dive right in! The first of the Tentatrio I looked at was Sweetoof the octopus, measuring four and a half inches tall and six inches wide. His most notable characteristic is his little embroidered tooth sticking out from his mouth. He also has several pink-ish purple spots on his brow of various sizes. Add that to the snaggletooth and Sweetoof gives off a certain preteen vibe (acne and in need of braces). I am not sure if that is intentional, but I found it hilarious all the same. Flip Sweetoof over for a delightful surprise: he's got embroidered suckers! They look so perfect, no loose threads or flaws of any kind. Here's Ika, who I actually consider the weakest link in the Tentatrio chain. I am not saying he isn't cute or well-made. He is definitely both of those things. But he feels like just a recolor rather than of the previously released Gummy Ika. Both toys are even the same height, four inches tall. As you can see, the back is entire bare sans tush tag. The bottom is also a little boring but I will forgive that. The source material, mother nature's lovely squid, is of a simple design and there isn't much to be done about that. Now we come to my favorite member of the Tentatrio, Jellyblub. This little lady jellyfish is just too sweet for words. I just loved her wide-eyed, innocent expression. She measures four inches tall and six and a half inches wide. Details abounds on this toy. The little embroidered white dots on the top of her head add to her youthful look while the peach and pink frills around her lower body resemble a skirt.  But the most adorable piece of Jellyblub's ensemble is, without a doubt, her little fabric bow on the side of her head. It is made of the same minky fabric as her body and looks ever-so-dainty. I love this detail so much! Finally, we come to the Starwhal, measuring four and half inches tall and seven inches long. I had been really excited to get my hands on this one and let me tell you, she did not disappoint. Her facial expression is similar to Jellyblub's, with the big, dark eyes and simple "u" mouth. Her horn has embroidered grooves on it and is moderately stuffed. As you can see, the Starwhal's star pattern is different on each side of her body. The bigger stars have a soft, fuzzy fabric on the inside portion (a different texture than her minky body) while the smaller ones are just embroidered. The variety in the stars' size and shape looks great and you can tell took some effort.   So now you have met the Tentatrio (plus the legendary Starwhal). I loved working with these guys. The designs are adorable and make me smile. If I had my druthers though, I would make them a bit bigger. That way, there is more to hug! [a big thank-you to Shelly Rodriguez of inki-drop for supplying me with these samples!]
Review: Tentatrio photo
With a Starwhal included for good measure
I have been a fan of Shelly Rodriguez for a long, long time. I loved her work way back when her studio was called inki-Jinx rather than inki-drop. There's a little snapshot, right there. Her plush line has grown from the Crab...

Tomopop Review: Hashtag Collectibles' Grumpy Cat puppet

Nov 19 // Natalie Kipper
Toy name: Grumpy Cat puppetToy maker: Hashtag CollectiblesRetail price: US$35Available at: Hashtag Collectibles Meet the Grumpy Cat puppet. It says, "Hello", or it would if I was playing with it and not typing up this review. Uh, let's move on, shall we? The tag hangs on the puppet's right ear. The simple design, with just a Grumpy Cat's face and the toy's name on a matte black background helped to focus on the toy itself, and not be distracting should you choose to leave the tag on.  The puppet measures 10 inches tall, 6 inches wide, and 6 inches deep. Its tail adds on about 5 inches to the back. Speaking of the tail, it is lightly stuffed and has a nice curve to the middle of it, almost giving it a "C"-shape. The body is moderately stuffed but not so much that it is difficult to use as a puppet. Here we see were the puppeteer's hand goes when playing with their Grumpy Cat. The lining feels slightly webbed and airy. I was pleased to note that it did not feel scratchy or sweaty, even after having my hand in there for over five minutes of continuous play. I was surprised to discover that the softest part of the Grumpy cat puppet is the blue portion of its eyes. The whole toy is pleasingly soft and snuggly, don't get me wrong, but this tiny area takes it to a whole new level: silky yet fuzzy with just a hint of woolen texture to it. A pure delight. The only issue I had with my Grumpy Cat puppet was what appeared to be a manufacturing flaw in its mouth. One corner opens wider than the other which, unfortunately, makes the toy harder to manipulate in puppet form. I can't imagine that this problem is present in all of the puppets, but it may be something to look for. I could still get the puppet to make the signature scowl rather well. I also made it say phrases like, "I love rainy days", and "Cake makes me happy." It is the little things in life, you know. Despite the one manufacturing flaw in the mouth, I would still recommend Hashtag Collectibles' Grumpy Cat puppet. Mine may not have made the best puppet, but I think it is definitely the cutest piece of Grumpy Cat merchandise made and that, to me, is worth just as much. Plus, she still makes a darn good cuddle buddy. [A big thank-you to Hashtag Collectibles for supplying me with this sample!]
Review: Grumpy Cat puppet photo
The time I made Grumpy Cat say "Yes"
The internet sure does love cats and I can totally understand the sentiment. Lil Bub, Colonel Meow, and of course, Grumpy Cat (also known as Tardar Sauce) never cease to entertain. Being a fan of said kitties as well as a plu...

Tomopop Review: Alter's Asuka Langley Shikinami Jersey ver.

Nov 05 // Tianxiao Ma
Figure Name: Asuka Langley Shikinami Jersey ver.Figure Maker: AlterRetail Price: ¥10,800Available at: AmiAmi | ToysLogic | Big Bad Toy Store I think part of the reason I wanted to do this review is because we rarely ever do Alter reviews. Seriously, when was the last time we reviewed an Alter figure? Anyway, I was interested to see if they had been maintaining their usual production quality. The box is all plastic with cool translucent blue panels. With these types of boxes you can leave the figure on display without tanking its resale value. Win-win! Personally I like to, you know, unbox my figures. Unwrapping everything was painless. Alter used to tie up the packaging with plastic twist ties, which made things secure but a pain to open. Not so with this Asuka. Assembly was a snap too; all you need to do is attach the base and you're ready to go. Alter certainly hasn't let their quality control slip. I didn't spot any flaws in terms of the painting or sculpt. However they have lost a bit of that cool factor; their recent figures have been plain with only a few exceptions. With Asuka's butt being so prominent, let's give it the attention it deserves. There are two optional parts for this figure. This photo shows the alternate arm, which has Asuka's left hand tucked into her pocket. If you want the full effect of Asuka's facial expression, an alternate head is included without the hat. Both pieces were easy to swap, as Alter's manufacturing made the fit of the pieces just right. Non-Evangelion fans probably won't lose too much sleep from skipping this figure, but Asuka fans certainly won't regret picking this one up. Apart from the build quality and that sweet box, I'd say my favorite feature is her pissed off expression. For once a figure maker used a character-appropriate expression! There are a bunch more shots in the gallery, so take a look and let me know what you think!
Alter Asuka photo
"Even after all this time, you're still just a troublesome brat!"
Alter has made a couple of Asuka figures before, with the last one released almost four years ago. If that one was too happy and/or immodest for you (those test plugsuits can be quite revealing), this release may be more to y...

Tomopop Review: DST's Creature from the Black Lagoon

Oct 29 // Scarecroodle
Figure Name: Universal Monsters Select Creature from the Black Lagoon Ver. 2Figure Maker: Diamond Select ToysRetail Price: US$24.99 (or around US$15 for the TRU version, if you can find it in stores)Available at: Diamond Select Toys | Entertainment Earth Long time readers may recall that the Gill-man, a.k.a. "the Creature", is by far my favorite Universal Monster. After all, I've only mentioned it, oh, a good forty or fifty times over the years including the occasional lengthy story about a time when Toys "R" Us refused to sell me one of my grail figures. If you read that story, you'll recall that I barely had time to enjoy that long-sought version of the Gill-man before DST dropped this awesome bomb... about a full year and a half before it was set to release. The plain Select packaging does little to convey how awesome this figure is. Like many of the other movie figures, the inner box is basically devoid of decoration (the popular Marvel Select line, by contrast, usually fills that space up with comic art). I imagine that it's probably due to a cost issue associated with licensing old movie stills or the such. The back of the box shows off Gill-man and provides a little backstory that wisely only references the first film (and leaves out the fact that he would eventually walk among us). Also included on the back is the Son of Frankenstein version of Frankenstein's Monster which closes out the wave (well, I guess there's also the DST-original version of Van Helsing but he's technically not part of the series) and, for that matter, the series. That's right, after giving fans a super-articulate Gill-man DST decided to drop the mic and walk away. DST's Gill-man stands close to 8-inches tall and features impeccable sculpting (courtesy of the game-changing Jean St. Jean, the sculptor behind figures like the much-praised MS Venom) along with a surprisingly deep paint job. Jean St. Jean has really pushed some boundaries in recent years, demonstrating that you don't have to sacrifice sculpt for articulation, which shines through in this figure. That said, the sculpting and articulation aren't blended to perfection. There are at least a few points where the joints are hindered by the sculpting (particularly at the head which looks as if it's jointed for a good amount of forward/back motion but the sculpt doesn't accommodate that). However, and this is important, in no place on this figure does the articulation truly hinder the sculpt. The joints, while somewhat visible, generally don't detract from the figure's overall appearance (with the possible exception of the exposed thigh pins). The overall craftsmanship is incredible. The character design itself facilitates many of these hidden joints, with hanging scales/platelets covering elbow and thigh cuts, for instance. The articulation represents a hodgepodge of different jointing concepts. The hands feature rotation at the lower wrists with a single pin-joint right above them (you may recall a similar trick being used on the Retro Cloth Phantom of the Opera (reviewed)). The elbows sport a kind of ball-joint which *could* have been used at the wrists as well, but the combo that was chosen instead helps to keep the wrists from looking ungainly. (EDITOR'S NOTE: My copy has a damaged right wrist (at the point of rotation) where the joint is jammed and, if a previous Select figure was any indication, the part will fall off if the joint is forced.) The head rotates, but his gills can get stuck on the frill running along his back. The torso features two joints, one directly above the abdomen with a second at the waist. While it doesn't work anywhere near as well as I had hoped (the forward/back is limited), you get a wide range of natural-looking rotation. The hips feature forward and outward motion, but are a little impeded by the sculpt (it's not a major issue). There's a thigh cut which offers rotation and helps with posing. The knees and ankles both feature single-pinned joints, a design choice that leads to only average balance. For the most part, the Select Gill-man can do most of the things you may want. The jointing isn't perfect, but it's worlds better than any previous version of the character that I can think of, especially within the affordable price ranges. It's worth remembering that Toys "R" Us also has an exclusive version of this figure. Priced closer to US$15, the biggest difference might be in the choice of accessories. The Select version gets an exquisitely designed underwater "swim" stand/base (seen here) while the Toys "R" Us version gets a smaller, generic stand. While the design is nice enough on its own for a background piece, it's intended for so much more. The product images on the packaging stupidly doesn't show the fact that the Gill-man can be posed right on the rock to recreate a swimming scene. It's something that DST fans will remember from a previous image on the DST Facebook page, but this awesome feature just isn't advertised. Granted, there's no piece or peg to actually hold him in place. The stand is just designed that the Gill-man can rest on it from certain angles. It's also, as DST Zach told me, the big reason for giving the Select Gill-man all of his articulation: the figure was designed to swim. Knowing this, I'm absolutely baffled why this gimmick doesn't have proper billing. Did DST feel that the trick might be too difficult for some fans? Diamond Select Toys has released quite a few Gill-man figures (including the first Select figure seen left and The Munters Select Uncle Gilbert (reviewed) seen right). While I don't have all of them (for instance, I'm missing the vinyl bank busts and the Retro Cloth version (which was hard to find at retail)), this new Select Gill-man is definitely my favorite and quite possibly my favorite among the Gill-man collectibles that I've owned over the years. Yes, it's not quite as awesome as I had assumed but it hits all of the right areas and features some great worksmanship. Plus perfect is overrated anyway, right? [A sizable spooky thanks to DST for sending over this review sample.]
Review: Gill-man photo
Not to be confused with the Creature from the Black & White Lagoon
Diamond Select Toys has taken quite a few stabs at the Universal Studios classic movie monsters, albeit with somewhat mixed results. Early entries often took a more statuesque approach, focusing on the sculpt rather than the ...

Tomopop Review: Transformers Generations Rattrap

Oct 22 // Jeremy Emerje Crocker
Figure Name: Transformers Generations RattrapFigure Maker: HasbroRetail Price: US$14.99Available at: Hasbro Toy Shop, Big Bad Toy Store, TFSource, Robotkingdom, Target, Amazon I'm a big fan of this style of packaging. It's big, bright, and uses every inch to its advantage. The bubble is spacious and gives you a good look at what's inside making it much easier to pick out the best looking figure on the pegs. As with the others you'll find a full size IDW comic in the back, in this case a copy of  (deep breath) the Transformers: Robots in Disguise issue 24, Dark Cybertron chapter five: Finest Hour. The comic has an exclusive cover featuring Rattrap and no advertising, which is nice, but as I understand it this copy has the pages woefully out of order. It's also a bit strange that he doesn't come with a comic that he actually appears in, but it can't be helped. Rattrap and his wave-mates Tankor and Crosscut come with chapters five, six, and seven, but Rattrap's last appearance was chapter four and wouldn't return until chapter eight. The previous four figures came with the first four chapters. Tankor and Crosscut do appear in their respective comics.  Enough about the packaging, let's talk about the figure. This is the Rattrap figure that Beast Wars fans have always wanted. The original was good for its time, but lacked real screen accuracy as most of the original BW figures did. It wasn't until season two when things moved into Transmetals and Fuzors that the figures looked much more like they did on TV. So with modern technology we're now able to get a figure that does the original animation CG justice.  Part of what makes him look so good is that he's essentially a shellformer with much of the rat bits folded up and stuck to him like a backpack. But at the same time his legs make the rat legs and the rat chest makes the robot body so really the only thing the shell covers in rat mode is the bot head, arms and part of the legs. That's not quite the same as the shell concealing a whole bot, but there is a lot of kibble. On the bright side that kibble is also character accurate, rat arms sticking out from his back and all. That backpack is kinda heavy, but thankfully his tail is just long enough to prop him up so that's helpful.  His gun is pretty neat. It has a nice look to it with all kinds of great detail sculpted into it. It also has the bonus feature of being able to split into two smaller guns. I'm a sucker for figures coming with weapons that can be reconfigured like this. Unfortunately they chose to gang mold it with the lightpipe for his eyes which means clear weapons. I can understand wanting to make them stand out from the rest of his body, but they're hard to accept like this. Pretty much any other color plastic on the figure would have looked better.  The gun isn't his only weapon. Open the door on his left arm and you'll find this, a demolition charge as seen in the episode A Better Mousetrap. It's a neat and welcome bonus, too bad it too is molded in transparent plastic. It would be nice if a third party would remold these parts in better colors.  I have a couple issues with the head sculpt. First off Rattrap's head is supposed to glow like a jack o'lantern with red light coming from both his eyes and mouth. His eyes have a very thin layer of red paint sloppily spread over his eyes so they lack any real intensity. The red light coming from his mouth wasn't painted in at all. The other problem with his mouth is that they didn't sculpt in his trademark rat teeth. I'm not sure how they could make such a glaring mistake like that.  The sculpting wasn't the only annoying issue, choice of material became a problem as well. See that fleshy looking piece above the elbow? It's the same plastic used to make the rat feet. Why? Because it's just a little bit softer than the rest of the plastic so that the toes can bend a little rather than snap off. What this means is when you try to spin his arm that piece of plastic would rather catch and twist instead of properly spinning. If you aren't being careful you could easily break the joint by twisting it in half. That's also about as far as the elbow will bend which is much less range than most figures get.  Taking a step back in time let's compare Rattrap to two of his previous incarnations. Or is that future incarnations? In the middle is Deluxe class Transmetals Rattrap (1998) and on the right is Machine Wars Mega class (the predecessor to Voyager class) Rattrap (2001). TM Rattrap holds up pretty well next to the newest one. Well, aside from the rampant issue of all the chrome flaking off. Even back in the day the MW figure wasn't very good so the new figure definitely wins there. I'm just glad Hasbro gave him guns instead of relying on a tail whip again.  Beast mode! Rat mode is pretty nicely executed. It's not perfectly accurate to the animated model, it lacks some character, but the colors are good. Far and away better than the original figure's rat mode. They didn't do much to cover his belly up, but most Transformers fans should be used to that. He does have an articulated mouth; the extra effort is always appreciated. Speaking of extra effort: bendy tail! Yeah, this is a really cool feature. You can use it to help him stand in robot mode, bend it up and out of the way, or make him a little more expressive. As mentioned before I'm glad they didn't give him a tail whip for a weapon, this is way better.  This might qualify as a hidden feature, though pictures of this appeared long before the figure was released. It doesn't appear on the back of the package or in the directions, but this is an official thing the figure is made to do. When you look at the underside it's probably a little more obvious why they chose not to promote it. Good opportunity to point out the gun storage underneath.  If you just tilt the rat head forward you'll see the bot mode head, but inside the rat head is a dome you can fish out to hide the bot head. Proof that this was always meant to be. Probably wont use it much, but at least it's there.  Bringing back the other two. The new figure and the TM version are pretty similar in size so viewing one as an upgrade of the other isn't that hard. Like this they would actually display pretty well together. MW Rattrap is way bigger than the others, about the size of a real rat (probably intentional) so you wouldn't want him with the other. Actually, you probably wouldn't want him with any of your BW or MW figures. That might go for any MW figures for that matter. Hey, Hasbro, how about systematically remaking all of the MW characters over again? Let's recap: great robot mode; lots of hidden gimmicks; nice weapons (though color would be nice); robot head is off model a bit; rat mode is good; joints have some issues. If you can get the joints to work properly and overlook some of the smaller issues it's actually very nice figure. It's certainly the best Rattrap figure we've ever had and ever will have. If you're any kind of fan of Beast Wars then you'll definitely want this figure. Even with some of its shortcomings it's one of the best Deluxe figures in quite some time. This is especially true when compared to recent inferior remakes of Cheetor and Dinobot from the Universe line as seen above. However, when grouped with the recently released Voyager Rhinox and the 2006 remold of the original 1996 Ultra class Optimus Primal and they all look prime!
TF Generations Rattrap photo
Worth catching or better left in the wilds?
One day Hasbro came along and announced a new Rattrap figure for Transformers Generations to everyone's surprise. I mean, yeah, we wanted one, badly, but Hasbro isn't exactly known for always making the figures fans want and ...

Tomopop Review: Brick Label Masterbrick MB-01 Metalhide

Sep 26 // Jeremy Emerje Crocker
Figure Name: Masterbrick MB-01 MetalhideFigure Maker: Brick LabelRetail Price: US$119.90Available at: BrickLabel.net I'll just go ahead and say it: Brick Label's MB-01 Metalhide really is the 'Masterpiece', or as they put it, the Masterbrick, of transforming brick robots. LEGO has done countless robots over the years, but none of them really transformed to my knowledge. Mega Bloks has done a lot of transforming robots, but they've all had relatively simple changes. Over in Japan Takara Tomy did an OK job on an Optimus Prime in their DiaBlock line, but it had extremely simple features and transformation. They've also just released some Transformers in their Nanoblock line, but those don't transform either. Then there's Hasbro. By all rights Hasbro should be making some of the best transforming brick toys around, but they continue to come up short. They started in 2003 with their short lived Built to Rule line featuring characters from Transformers: Armada. BTR wasn't the greatest thing, but they showed promise being able to transform. The 2011 Kre-O line should have been a huge step up, but instead was a step back thanks to being non-transformable. Hasbro did announce some new Transforming Kre-O figures back at San Diego Comic Con, but they've gone back to being extremely simple. So now it takes a third party to step up and show the big guys how it's done. This is a fully articulated, fully transforming, and pretty darn huge figure. I wont bore anyone with lots of details on the assembly. The instructions are very well detailed, full colored, and show the parts from different angles as you go so you know you're building the pieces right the first time. You're dealing with a lot of parts, so be sure to give yourself a lot of room to work. He's made using 100% genuine LEGO bricks so you're getting quality parts here. There's a lot of things to be impressed about with this figure when its completed, its size being among them. Standing at about 10 inches tall this is a lot of bot! You'll also notice that he's very streamlined with very little kibble. This is a true transforming figure so he has a lot of small pieces that bend and fold out of the way. His 'backpack', which is barely anything, is a set of armatures that extend his wheels to the front a back of his van mode and doesn't contain much in the way of visible vehicle parts. It's a very creative solution to the alternative of having wheels hanging off his arms and legs. Articulation is as good as any Transformer. He has a lot of flexibility; not all Transformers can do splits like this. His feet also have some articulation for added balance and there's a swivel below the knee. The knees are more or less double jointed so the range there is good. There is a little forward restriction in the hips, but there's more than enough to get by. There's also a ball jointed abdomen so there's plenty of range there. The backpack doesn't connect directly to his upper torso so it isn't very restrictive. The arms are ball jointed at the shoulders, and have a swivel in the body so they can pivot in and out some. He also has articulated fingers. They're simple, but he doesn't really need to grasp anything so they serve their purpose. His head is neat. Sure, it doesn't look like Ironhide, but this is Metalhide, a homage to the G1 character so it gets a lot of leeway there. It's very creative, getting its shape from folding pieces together like a box rather than stacking them as you'd expect. It gives the head some neat angles that you couldn't normally get otherwise. For weapons he has to guns that fold out from his wrists. On his right side is a red and yellow heat ray, and on the left is a blue and black ice ray. It's a nice call back to G1 when Transformers, including Ironhide, would replace their hands with weapons as needed. The ability to fold keeps them out of the way when you don't need them while also ensuring that you don't lose them. He towers over most figures from other Transformers lines. Even next to the original Masterpiece Optimus Prime he almost looks like he's in proper scale. Obviously he doesn't fit in aesthetically with other Transformers lines, but it gives you an idea of just where it lands on the robot scale. At 10 inches tall he stands about the same height as the most recent Masterpiece Optimus Prime. As mentioned before he has a surprisingly complex transformation. Getting him into his van mode requires unfolding multiple parts on his back, arms, body, and legs. Everything tucks together nicely and thanks to tiny connecting pieces that line up perfectly you get a a pretty sturdy vehicle. As an added bonus: Rubber tires! Love rubber tires. You can also flip the weapons up from the back over the top to be used in vehicle mode! He's pretty compact in this mode and suddenly is closer to scale with the smaller scale Masterpiece line. Of course he's still pretty massive compared to the original. All in all it's miles above Hasbro's Kre-O Ironhide. The last point I want to make is the price. I know, US$119.90 is a lot of money, but consider a few things. First off, LEGO bricks aren't cheap, not even remotely. Just walk into the brick aisle of any store and check out the prices on the little LEGO boxes. Now think about the prices that third party Transformers typically go for. A five inch third party Transformer will often go for around this price. Then consider the engineering. Sure, the parts already exist, but it can't be easier to sort through hundreds (thousands?) of LEGO parts to find the right one than it is to build the parts yourself. I think the price is pretty much what you would pay for a similar set sold at mass retail.  So to recap: Easy to build, massive bot mode, no kibble, great articulation, complex transformation, good looking van mode, and rubber tires. This is a total package for fans that love LEGO, and were greatly disappointed by Hasbro's poor attempts at Transformers block toys. Metalhide is Brick Label's first release, but far from their last. Soon they should be showing off their second figure, Windstorm, a tribute to Powermaster Dreadwind! [ A big thanks to Brick Label for sending over the review sample! ]
Brick Label Metalhide photo
At last, brick bots done right
The great thing about LEGO bricks is that they can be used to build as simple or complex as you want. They're a lot like clay in that sense. Sure, anyone can make a simple LEGO box, or clay flower pot, but in the hands of som...


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