Marvel Select Venom

Venom 15

The Marvel Universe is full of all sorts of strange alien creatures. As a Spider-Man fan, I’m not exposed to a lot of them, but the one that gets a lot of exposure in the Spider-Man comics is a great one, the symbiotes. We’ve since learned a lot more about the symbiotes as a species (now revealed to be the Klyntars) in the modern Guardians of the Galaxy comic, but until very recently, they were a blank slate. The Venom symbiote first showed up in Marvel in the Secret Wars crossover in the 1980s. Spider-Man reached into the wrong machine when he was trying to repair his costume at the base he stayed in with the other heroes and instead of a new suit of clothes, he got an alien parasite. Spider-Man eventually rid himself of the black goo creature, but it quickly found a new host: Eddie Brock, a man who hated Spider-Man and the two bonded over their hatred for him and set out to make his life a living hell. I’ll admit, not all of the Venom stories have held up well over time, but as a kid who was first introduced to Spider-Man thanks to the great 1995 Fox Kids cartoon, Venom has a special place in my nerdy heart. I’ve snagged quite a few versions of Venom over the years, but hands down, the best one came from the Marvel Select line. Not only is it a great figure, but it’s very versatile.

Venom 07Venom is a character whose look really depends on the artist. The Marvel Select figure comes with a wide range of interchangeable parts (in lieu of a typical highly-detailed display base), allowing the figure to replicate three distinct looks from the character’s history. Venom was first created by, then-cutting-edge-now-kind-of-hacky comic book writer/artist Todd McFarlane. He originally drew Venom as a hulking but sleek figure. It really made venom look surprisingly inhuman. That was partly because at the time, no one at Marvel was sure whether the Venom symbiote was going to have another host or not since Spider-Man had fought the symbiote itself a few times. This is the first look Venom had, so I figure it should also be the first look for the review. The figure’s articulation all remains the same: Venom has hinged ankles, hinged knees, swivels at the mid-thigh, hinges and swivels in the hips (creating a pseudo-balljoint), a waist swivel, a chest swivel, balljointed shoulders, bicep swivels, hinged elbows, wrist swivels and a balljointed neck. It leaves you with a very poseable figure, though it’s not as poseable as figures out the Marvel Legends line. That’s the trade-off. If you want a bit more poseability, but a slightly less-detailed sculpt, go with Legends. If you like incredible sculpts that sacrifice a bit of articulation, go for Select. Whoever sculpted this figure did a great job with it. Venom’s got a very imposing presence, and honestly, he’s a pretty hefty figure. Despite the weight, though, he’s not terribly prone to tipping. Venom’s head, in Venom 06his original incarnation, looked quite slick and alien and had a large, almost Joker-like grin. That’s what this head has as well. Despite its apparent smoothness, there are some nice wrinkles sculpted in there and the large grin looks appropriately off-putting. Part of what made the McFarlane-era Venom look so creepy was that he looked so close to human, but clearly he was not. The body is a little off-model with the McFarlane Venom. As I said, the original Venom was pretty slick and smooth. He was still incredibly buff, but the vein-y detailing of the musculature was lacking for many years. However, that’s part of what allows Venom to pull triple duty. It’s honestly not that big of a deal, but if you’re looking for a perfect representation of McFarlane’s take on Venom, you’re not going to find it here. The large white spider is sculpted into his chest and painted well. The paint work on Venom is spot on. The black and white are applied crisply and to replicate the comic art, there is a subtle blue highlight on the top of this head. It’s not much, but on close inspection it’s there. I appreciate Marvel Select adding in this little detail but I’m also glad it’s subtle enough that you don’t know it’s there unless you’re looking for it. I’ve passed on a lot of Marvel Legends Venoms (and black costume Spider-Men) because they really over did the blue wash.

Venom 11As the years went on, Venom grew in size and scary factor. Artist Erik Larsen did the redesign on Venom where he picked up the large, scary teeth, the big tongue, the constant green drool and the massive clawed hands. Marvel Select Venom has a spare head and clawed hands to help recreate this look. I’ll admit, I’m partial to this look for Venom. This was my Venom and that’s how he spends most of the time on my display shelf. The fanged maw looks frightening and the tongue sticks out menacingly. This is a bit of a secret feature, but the tongue itself is also removable. It’s in there awfully tightly from the factory, but it can be pulled out if you don’t want Venom with his tongue sticking out all the time. It slides back in easily and it’s a nice touch. With the tongue out of his mouth, it’s far easier to appreciate the sculpting work that went into his head. The teeth are askew and give Venom a very frightening appearance. This is a version of Venom you won’t mistake for Spider-Man at a quick glance. The Venom 14clawed hands are intimidating and look like he could Venom 12do some serious damage with them. That’s the beauty of the symbiotes. Since they’re living creatures that respond to their hosts, they can assume a wide range of terrifying shapes. The face is horrifying and the large clawed hands, combined with Venom’s augmented strength turn him into a dangerous foe and this version of Venom definitely looks the part. The McFarlane Venom is creepy, but the Larsen Venom is a creature that would kill you just as soon as look at you. It’s no wonder he got dubbed the “Lethal Protector” when Marvel wanted to make Venom into a hero in the 90s with Larsen (and later Mark Bagley) drawing him.

Venom 01The final option for Venom also incorporates the most extra parts. In the mid to late 90s, Marvel turned Venom into an anti-hero, with varying degrees of success. The sales were never strong enough for a full monthly series, but there were quite a few limited series. I’ll admit, I haven’t read the one that this look is based on, but it’s clear that the final Venom option was based on the limited series, The Madness, where Venom got exposed to some dangerous chemicals that mutated the symbiote into an even crazier beast. The head is based on cover art from Venom 05Mark Bagley’s “Venom Returns” arc, but I think it kind of fits here with the Madness look since Venom’s transforming into something even nastier in that arc. The transforming head just like of looks at home here. Plus, there’s not really a Madness specific head, so I made due with this one. This head surprised me. There have been attempts at showing a Venom transformation before, but I’ve never been that impressed. However, this head actually looks pretty good. It’s designed around a very good piece of art, which helps, but the transformation is good and I kind of like seeing it on this version of Venom. When the symbiote was mutated by some toxic chemicals, Venom sprouted some extra arms and a bunch of extra Venom 02Venom 04heads. To accomplish this, Marvel Select essentially created a backpack with these details on it. It fits snugly on Venom’s shoulders, though Madness Venom (to co-opt the name ToyBiz used when they created a version of this Venom) is a bit more prone to tipping because the pack makes him a bit back heavy. Three of the heads have neck joints and the arms on the back have joints at the wrists, elbows, and “shoulders.” Fully mutated, Venom also sprouted some additional small arms elsewhere and to recreate that look, there are two arms that can plug into Venom’s forearms. I’ll admit, these aren’t the best pieces. The fit isn’t great and honestly, those arms were something that looked okay in artwork but just don’t look that great in 3D form. In The Madness, Eddie Brock really started losing control of the Venom symbiote and I think this look does a great job representing that particular look, even if it’s not a Venom story I’ve ever felt compelled to track down.

By any metric you look at Marvel Select Venom, it’s an amazing figure. The sculpting is spot on, the paint work is excellent, and he comes with enough extra parts that you can essentially get three figures out of him. Just to recap: He’s got three different heads, three sets of hands (two closed fists, two open, and two clawed), a pair of small arms, and a large back piece with two additional sets of arms built in (that he removable hands fit into). I got lucky and snagged my for suggested retail price ($30), but truthfully, it’s such a great figure and you get so much bang for your buck that in my way of thinking, suggested retail price was a pretty big steal. I’ll admit, I wish Venom had come with some sort of character-specific base like other Marvel Select figures do, but honestly, you get so much out of the add-ons, I understand why any potential base was cut. Given the choice, I’d rather have the option to make Venom look how I want than have a base that increases the figure’s footprint on my limited shelf space. Marvel Select Venom is the best version of Venom I think has been released period. There are some good Venom figures from back in the day, but Marvel Legends and its other related lines never figured out a good way to handle Venom. Yes, Marvel Select Venom is a bit bigger than the Marvel Legends figures, but considering he’s always been drawn as a hulking presence, I think his large size just bring him in line with how he’s traditionally drawn, so he looks perfectly fine squaring off against a Marvel Legends Spider-Man figure.

Venom 08   Venom 10  Venom 03


Guardians of the Galaxy Minimates– Drax, Groot, & Rocket Raccoon

Full SetI’m a bit usual as an action figure collector. While most of my collection is focused on the G.I. Joe brand, I dabble in a lot of other properties when there’s something I think that looks cool. Not a lot of collectors do that, but I think a cool figure is a cool figure, so who cares if it doesn’t fit with the bulk of my collection. However, the one line I’ve avoided dabbling in was Art Asylum’s Minimates. It’s not because I don’t like them, but honestly, it’s because I fear they’ll be my next line I’ll get into whole hog and I don’t know if my budget can handle that. Unfortunately, Guardians of the Galaxy led me to break my Minimate embargo with a cool three pack of Drax, Groot, and Rocket Raccoon. Thankfully, this hasn’t led me towards too many more Minimate purchases, but now that I’ve broken the seal on Minimates, who knows where that will lead me.

The overall Minimate design is pretty simple, though there’s not an example of the standard Minimate in this particular set. The standard Minimate design is as follows: a cylindrical head, a square torso piece, arms (with ball joints at the shoulders, hinges at the elbows and swivels) with c-grip hands, a crotch piece, legs and small feet. Save a few special circumstances, all the Minimate’s details are provided by paint work. They’re a surprisingly fun format for characters and the characters from Guardians of the Galaxy translate well to this format.

Drax 01Drax is the closest to the standard Minimate we get in this set. He uses the basic body, but gets a chest cap to bulk him up and slightly larger feet to give him some extra height. The bulked up look works perfectly for Drax. Like all Minimates, the paint work does the heavy lifting and this is an impressive figure. Drax has incredibly detailed tattoos on his upper body in the movie and this figure has them as well. The tampo work is extremely crisp. They could be a little clearer, Drax 03but you can still make out the three skulls on his back and that’s what’s important. Drax’s green skin is a bit darker than I’d prefer. I think it should be just a little more vibrant, but that’s just me. Drax’s pants are black, with added detail done in gray. The belt is designed to look like studded leather and the gray lines on the pants stand out well and add depth to the overall look of his pants. The boots do have laces molded into them, but that’s the extent of molded details on Drax. Art Asylum is pretty good about finding accessories for their Minimates, and Drax’s are a no brainer. Drax gets a pair of new knives that look like the curved blades he used extensively in the movie. Drax 02The blades fit decently in his hands, though I do wish the grip were a tad tighter. They do tend to fall out pretty easily when bumped. The knives are molded out of black plastic and have silver paint applications for the blades. The detail work on the knives is quite impressive as you can still see the patterns in the blades with the silver paint over them. Not all lines can paint something that small and not mute the details in the process. Drax is a fairly simple design, but he was that way in the movie too, and simplicity isn’t always a bad thing. It also helps that Minimates themselves are a fairly simple medium, so that means Drax’s look transfers especially well to the Minimate line.

Groot 01Going the other way, Groot is a rather complicated Minimate. Groot still has the basic Minimate torso and legs, but it looks like he has slightly longer arms, tree-like hands and feet, a taller crotch piece, and a unique head with tree bits coming off the top of a standard cylinder. This gives Groot a lot of extra height and that’s perfect since he spends so much of the movie taller than everyone else. Like Drax, Groot’s facial features translate well to the simplified Minimate aesthetic, though I don’t think it’s quite as good as Drax. The paint work is very simple compared to Drax. Groot is Groot 02molded entirely from tan plastic with black lines placed over to give Groot some anatomy and tree bark. There are some green vines and flecks throughout, but the green is applied somewhat inconsistently. There are some spots on the torso piece that look like the green should continue Groot 03down to the taller crotch piece, but they don’t. The feet are also a little strange because I have yet to find a way to position where both feet sit level on the ground. It doesn’t make Groot unstable, but it’s a little odd that they aren’t designed to sit flush with the ground. Unlike Drax, Groot doesn’t really come with an accessory, but it’s Groot. It’s not like he was known for having a crazy gun or something. I’ll admit, I would have loved to have seen a Minimate version of the potted Groot but it would have been pretty hard to make that in scale with other Minimates.

Rocket Raccoon 01Since there’s an open slot because Groot has no accessories, the folks at Art Asylum wisely decided to make a version of Rocket Raccoon and include him here with his arboreal best friend. Rocket Raccoon is an unarticulated minifigure, but Art Asylum made sure he still looks like a Minimate and that was a great call. That means he fits in well with everyone else. In fact, when I first got this set, the arm joints Rocket Raccoon 02looked so realistic, I wasn’t totally sure whether he was poseable until I got him out of the package. Rocket’s figure is designed to look like the prison gear he wore for a significant part of the movie, and I think that’s where the gun also came from. Despite his small size, he’s very well
detailed, with a furry texture on his exposed body. The tail is vital to balancing him so he can stand, though I have found Rocket Raccoon 03you can sort of get Rocket to ride Groot like he did in the movie. I’m not sure if that was an intentional design choice or not, but it’s pretty cool nonetheless. Rocket is a necessary addition to the set and really makes it worth your money since you’re essentially getting three figures for the price of two.

Overall, my first experience with Minimates was a positive one and it was nice to finally be able to get some sort of Rocket and Groot merchandise. I barely saw anything in the scale I prefer to collect, so jumping over to Minimates was a no-brainer. It’s a fun little one-off addition to my collection and honestly, it’s got a lot of great appeal to someone my age. The smaller accessories might be a drawback for a young Marvel fan, but even then, there’s still a lot of fun to be had. The price is decent and Groot and Rocket look like they might integrate pretty well with the Guardians of the Galaxy Legos as well. Even if they don’t, though, they’re still fun pieces. While Rocket and Groot are kind of the stars to me, Drax is just as good and I’ve really grown to like Drax a lot since the movie came out so I’m kind of glad these three main characters were all packaged together.

Marvel Legends: Infinite Series Walgreens Exclusive Ant-Man (Black A.N.T.)

Black ANT 01Part of what has drawn me to the Marvel Legends: Infinite Series line over and over again is the wide variety of Marvel characters that have gotten great action figures. Sure, there are lots of versions of Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Captain America, but the line also gives attention to characters like Drax (at least three years before he became super popular thanks to the Guardians of the Galaxy movie) and Batroc the Leaper. Interestingly, Hasbro has begun pairing with Walgreens of all places to release the occasional exclusive figure. They started doing it with the Star Wars Black series, but the Marvel Legends: Infinite Series has also started releasing exclusives through them. While the package just bills him as Ant-Man (since he was released around the same time as the recent Ant-Man series), this figure represents actually the third man to wear the Ant-Man gear, a former S.H.I.E.L.D. analyst named Eric O’Grady. O’Grady, like Lang, stole the Ant-Man gear, but unlike Lang, he really wasn’t planning on doing anything heroic with it. He was honestly a bit skeevy in the beginning, but O’Grady gradually became a hero. In fact, he became so heroic, Captain America trusted him to join his black ops Secret Avengers team. While part of the Secret Avengers, he sacrificed himself to save a young boy from being captured by a group of Life Model Decoys (robots designed to look like a specific person). That’s where this look comes in. After O’Grady died at the hands of the LMDs, the rogue LMDs resurrected him as one of their own and used him to infiltrate the Secret Avengers. When he revealed himself to be a traitor (curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal), he also changed his name to Black A.N.T. and adopted this costume. Considering this part of his story only went down a year or two ago and O’Grady Ant-Man was honestly never that big of a deal, it’s pretty impressive this look got an action figure.

Black ANT 02Black ANT 04As I’ve mentioned before, the Marvel Legends: Infinite Series line relies pretty heavily on parts reuse. Ironically, though, Ant-Man is the first time I’ve reviewed a figure that does so extensively. Ant-Man uses the new small body that they developed for a really great Spider-Man figure. The new small body is extremely poseable, which makes sense for Spider-Man and honestly works pretty well for Ant-Man, too. Ant-Man has hinge joints at the ankles, knees, abs, shoulders, elbows, wrists and neck, swivels in his upper thigh, waist, upper arms and wrists, and ball joints at his hips, shoulders and neck. The joints are all pretty standard fare save for the neck hinge. It was used for Spider-Man so he could be upside down and honestly, it’s not that great on Ant-Man. Unless you have his head tipped down a little bit, he looks a bit giraffe-necked. The body itself is completely devoid of sculpted detail. That makes sense since this is going to be the new base body for a lot of slender-but-still-super-powered characters. Ant-Man does get a new add on belt that O’Grady used to control his shrinking powers. My only real complaint there is that he doesn’t have a hand that looks natural near the belt. The only new part Ant-Man has is his head, and it’s a really great piece. It’s very well-detailed and it looks like the comic art for Black A.N.T. At its core, he’s just wearing a black version of the classic Ant-Man helmet. I hope that means at some point in the near future, Hasbro decides to make a classic style Ant-Man figure. I’ve always liked the 70s sci-fi vibe of the original Ant-Man helmet and it works well for O’Grady. The Ant-Man gear he stole in the comics looked very different from the gear he eventually died in which is what this represents, but it’s hard to beat a classic look. The face has a pretty sternly held mouth and that does hurt the O’Grady ties a little. O’Grady was a pretty sarcastic and fun-loving guy who just enjoyed being a superhero scoundrel. Even when he was the Black A.N.T., there was an element of that in his programming. This face looks just a little too grouchy for that.  The tech details on the helmet are great, with a seam running down the center and splitting off into to two points and two ports over his ears. The antennas on the front of the helmet are surprisingly well done. They’re thin enough to look on model with the art, but they’re not so thin that they get bent in the package. I searched through quite a few at Walgreens to find one with good paint and I never had to reject one because of bent antennae.

Black ANT 03Since the body is undetailed, the paint work has to do all the heavy lifting when it comes to recreating Ant-Man’s look. The original Ant-Man costume was red with blue jagged boots and long gloves with a forked blue stripe running down the chest and blue underwear on the outside of his pants. Black A.N.T.’s look is the same details but with black for the main body and red for the other details. It’s a striking look and while it can scream bad guy, since O’Grady was on the Secret Avengers before his death, it also works for a stealthy superhero. The Ant-Man helmet is also done up in black with bright orange detailing on his eyes and the rest of the tech details on his helmet. The paint work on these very small areas is extremely well done. In the comics, Black A.N.T. was drawn with those parts of his helmet glowing, so to recreate the glowing effect, there’s also a bit of yellow highlighting in there. It’s not a perfect solution, but it does look a little bitter than just leaving everything up there bright orange. The paint work on his body is serviceable, though the jagged lines can get a little fuzzy. When I found my Ant-Man, there were plenty of them in the store and I couldn’t find one that wasn’t a little fuzzy somewhere. There were some fuzzier ones that I passed on, but even the ones that were a bit fuzzy on the defined lines still looked good. My only real complaint is that the paint shade on the red shifts between his upper torso and his abs. It’s kind of surprising since that sort of thing usually only happens when one part is molded in the color and the other has it painted on, but it looks to me like they’re both painted elements.

Black ANT 05Beyond his removable belt, this Ant-Man has no accessories, and that’s kind of a bummer. Like I said in the movie Ant-Man review, I think it should be required that any time a line makes a figure of someone who can change sizes, they should include at least one small version of the character. I think the mini-Ant-Man from the movie Ant-Man could have been repainted to pass for this look. However, this Ant-Man is a still a great figure and is a smart idea for an exclusive. I’m interested to see where this new head will eventually get reused. It just doesn’t seem like Hasbro will let this piece lie since it can be used for a regular Ant-Man as well. Plus, he’s not a character that everyone was clamoring for but he’s still cool enough to warrant a figure. A toy review site I read said that the perfect exclusive figure is one of a character that has a decent fan following but at the same time doesn’t create a hole in everyone’s collection if it’s hard to track down. Irredeemable Ant-Man was a popular series and the Black A.N.T. look is striking but at the same time, O’Grady’s tenure as Ant-Man was very short and though he died heroically, Secret Avengers was never exactly the most popular book. You have to be a pretty die-hard comic fan to care about Eric O’Grady and I do. It was great to get him (sort of) as an action figure, but I never really thought my limited collection of Marvel Legends: Infinite Series figures was incomplete without the Eric O’Grady version of Ant-Man. He seemed to sell well enough because I haven’t seen mass quantities of him at Walgreens lately so that means he’s definitely moving units. Sure, most people probably bought him just because he’s a neat take on Ant-Man and looked a bit like the “Blackout Ant-Man” that showed up in some of the other toys but didn’t actually appear in the movie, but knowing he’s O’Grady/Black A.N.T. does make me smile, just because he’s a C-lister at best. It now makes me wonder who else Hasbro might tap for a Walgreens exclusive if they’re going a bit more obscure. Honestly, I’d love to see Dennis “D-Man” Dunphy finally get an action figure and really, he’s almost as obscure as O’Grady, so I say bring on D-Man.

Marvel Legends: Infinite Series Ant-Man Assortment Movie Ant-Man

Ant-Man 01Had Ant-Man come out before Guardians of the Galaxy, I would have been tempted to agree with the Internet that Marvel had finally made its first misstep. However, since Marvel could make the Guardians of the Galaxy a popular team, there’s no reason they couldn’t make the Scott Lang version of Ant-Man a popular guy. Going with Scott Lang was the right call since Hank Pym has a lot of baggage attached to him (multiple nervous breakdowns, beating his wife, creating Ultron so he could defeat him and make the Avengers like him again after the aforementioned wife-beating, being replaced by a Skrull). Scott Lang, on the other hand, is a guy who’s just trying to do right by his kid and in the process stole some high tech equipment and became a good guy. In both the comics and Marvel’s successful film, Scott Lang is motivated by his desire to be a good dad. He doesn’t always succeed and he doesn’t always do it the right way, but that’s Scott Lang in a nutshell, and those motivations move him into scoundrel territory as well.

Ant-Man 02Ant-Man 04As part of the merchandise onslaught that came with Ant-Man, Hasbro released a wave of Marvel Legends: Infinite Series figures based around Ant-Man. Most of the figures come from the comic book, but a movie-style Ant-Man was a part of the wave and the Build-A-Figure for this particular series was an Avengers 2-style Ultron. Because he’s a movie-based figure, Hasbro invested a lot of tooling dollars in him. The Marvel Legends: Infinite Series line relies pretty heavily on reuse of generic parts, but nothing in their parts library could recreate the movie Ant-Man costume. Everything’s new here and there really isn’t a lot of reuse potential for it so far, so I have to admit that I’m impressed Hasbro thought Ant-Man would be a popular character to warrant an entirely new figure. Marvel Legends kind of walks the line between mass-market oriented product and the higher-end collectors’ market figures. The price point is lower than your Marvel Select figures from Diamond Select Toys, but that also means the detailing isn’t quite as strong. Don’t get me wrong, the Ant-Man figure is still very accurate but if you’re looking for an Ant-Man figure that looks like he stepped right off the screen, this isn’t quite going to do it for you because there are a few off-model spots that the Marvel Select version handles better. Toy line comparisons aside, the Marvel Legends: Infinite Series Ant-Man is a great figure. The legs are nicely detailed, with lines for all the panels molded in. It gives a little visual weight to the look and it does looks surprisingly like the high-grade leather that the movie used for the costume. Around his waist, Ant-Man has a very detailed belt molded into the figure. The buckle, which is part of the shrinking control system, looks solid and the belt itself has a wide array of pouches and technical details on it. While the legs are rather simple, the upper body is incredibly well-detailed, but not to the point that the figure looks too busy. Ant-Man has a large panel on his chest and panels over his shoulders and lower arms. Outlining his chest and shoulder panels, he’s got a series of tubes and there’s harness up over his shoulders and the tubing continues down his spine and hooks into the back of his belt. Marvel Studios’ costume designers really did a great job with Ant-Man’s look since I presume the tubing is all part of the Pym particle delivery system. Hasbro’s sculptors did an excellent job recreating all these details. The larger Marvel Select version does have a few more details, but honestly, I’m not sure he’s worth the higher price point. Around his wrists, Ant-Man has a pair of gauntlets, again, part of the Pym particle delivery system. The gauntlets look appropriately high-tech and it helps flesh out the look of Ant-Man’s costume. Part of Giant-Man and Ant-Man’s problem in the comics was that, generally speaking, it was never really explained how their suits changed their size. The movie Ant-Man now has a clear Pym particle delivery system and I like that element of realism in Ant-Man’s look. Ant-Man’s hands are a bit of a problem for me. They’re both molded like they’re supposed to grip something, but Ant-Man has no accessories he can grip. I kind of wonder whether Ant-Man was supposed to originally have removable hand controls like he used in the movie to control the suit but Hasbro either had troubles engineering them so they’d stay securely in his hands or they just didn’t cost out properly. Either way, it leaves Ant-Man looking a little awkward when he’s standing with his hands at his side. That’s why in my photos I have his right hand on his belt buckle, like he’s messing with the tech on the belt buckle before going into battle. It at least gives his right hand a reason to look like it’s gripping something. Topping off the figure, Ant-Man has an excellent head sculpt, even if it is a little off model. The Ant-Man helmet takes the ideas in the comics, like antennae and a facemask and makes it work a little better in the slightly-realistic Marvel Cinematic Universe. My only real issue with the figure’s helmet is that his mouthpiece is down. Ant-Man spent very little time in costume with his mouthpiece down. In fact, I honestly can’t remember if there was ever a scene in the movie where he was wearing his helmet like that. I wish they would have used the fully enclosed look for the figure because that’s how he spent most of the time in the movie. Honestly, I think Ant-Man would have been another figure ripe for the helmeted and unhelmeted head options like they did for Marvel Legends: Infinite Series Star-Lord since both characters spent a lot of time in the movie in costume but not wearing their helmets. Despite a couple little design missteps, though, Marvel Legends: Infinite Series Ant-Man is a solid figure. The articulation is great, with compound ankle joints, double hinged knees, thigh swivels, balljointed hips, a waist swivel, an ab crunch, balljointed shoulders, bicep swivels, double hinged elbows, compound wrist joints and a balljointed head. The figure’s knees are unfortunately a bit gummy, for lack of a better term. The plastic feels a bit softer than the rest of the plastic the figure is constructed out of and those gummy knees mean Ant-Man is a little unstable. Ant-Man is a very mobile figure and poses very well while still being exceptionally well-detailed.

Ant-Man 03The sculptors did an excellent job designing the figure, and the paint team really helped bring the figure to life. The majority of the figure is molded out of black plastic. That makes sense considering how much of the costume is black in the movie. The legs have a bit of red on the thigh stripes and there’s red on the panels on the back of his calf. The red on his thighs can be a little sloppy, so keep an eye out for it, but it’s generally pretty well done across the board. The belt is painted silver with a little bit of a black wash over it to bring out the details. The belt buckle is painted orange to help make it look like it’s glowing. I think Hasbro would have been better served using red or blue since those are the two colors it glowed in the movie, but maybe I’m just being a little too anal retentive. Up top, the panels on his chest, shoulders and forearms are red and the piping is done up in silver. The piping can be a little hit or miss when it comes to paint. The front of my figure looks decent, but the back piping tends to consistently overrun the molded details. It’s an awfully small detail so I get why the paint team had a little trouble getting it to look perfect and it doesn’t bother me all that much since it’s on the back of the figure. The gauntlets are painted in a darker silver with some orange details and the paint work is quite crisp. The helmet is also painted this same darker silver with a bit of a wash to make it look like the helmet isn’t perfectly clean. The red detailing on the forehead and by the antennae is excellent. The eye pieces are painted a reddish orange and I get that the effect they were going for was to make it look like the translucent lenses Ant-Man had in the film, but it’s just not quite the right color for it. Ant-Man’s exposed mouth is painted with a good Caucasian flesh tone, though it does seem to be applied awfully thickly, likely to cover the dark plastic the figure’s head is molded out of. The paint work on Ant-Man isn’t 100% perfect, but it’s still very good and the areas where he has problems are on the back of the figure, so it’s pretty easy to hide his few flaws.

Ant-Man 06While the Marvel Legends: Infinite Series is not generally known for having a lot of accessories, Ant-Man has quite a few great pieces. In my opinion, the cardinal rule of making an action figure of a character that changes sizes is that you must include some smaller version of the figure to reference his size changing abilities. This version of Ant-Man comes with a very tiny, yet incredibly well-detailed version. The figure is kind of in a permanent squatting position so he comes in at around ½” tall. The paint work is impressive for such a tiny figure, though it is understandably simplified. The reason he’s squatting is so he can Ant-Man 07interact with another accessory from the set, a large flying ant. Considering how much time Ant-Man spent riding a flying ant in the movie, this was a brilliant choice on Hasbro’s part. Finally, Ant-Man also comes with one other small figure. This one isn’t of himself, though, but rather the film’s villain, Yellowjacket. As much as I like the tiny Ant-Man, the tiny Yellowjacket is even more amazing. This figure is designed in a way that makes him perfectly balanced so he can actually stand. It’s very difficult to get tiny, unarticulated figures to stand because if the design is just a degree or two off, they’ll fall over. Yellowjacket is molded in a dynamic pose with one arm out in front of him and the other behind him and robotic arms stretched out in the same fashion. Like Ant-Man 05tiny Ant-Man, Yellowjacket’s paint is nicely done, if necessarily simplified. My only regret is that it doesn’t look like a movie version of Yellowjacket is slated anywhere in the near future for the Marvel Legends: Infinite Series line. Seriously, Hasbro, the last few Marvel movies have had some pretty cool villains, yet none of the adult-oriented figure lines you’ve done with them have had them, save the Amazing Spider-Man 2 series. I mean, seriously, Avengers had the Chiutari soldiers, Iron Man 3 had the Mandarin, Thor: Dark World had not just Malekith and the Dark Elves but also Kurse (who would be a perfect Build-A-Figure candidate), and yet none of these villains got figures? When you’re doing a series of figures ostensibly based on a movie, shouldn’t you try and bring in at least one villain from said movie? Rounding out his gear, Ant-Man also has a Build-A-Figure part. Ant-Man comes with Ultron’s head, and I’ll admit, it’s a decent piece but I was a bit disappointed in it. The initial photos I’d seen of the set weren’t terribly detailed, so I couldn’t tell what the silver piece was with him and I’d thought it was a closed Ant-Man helmet. The Ultron head isn’t a bad piece and the sculptors really captures the Avengers 2 Ultron look very well, but it’s a part of a Build-A-Figure I’m never going to build, so I don’t really care too much about it. Add in the fact that I thought it was going to be a useful alternate head for Ant-Man and it’s kind of easy to understand why I’m a bit down on it.

Once again, Marvel Studios proved they knew what they were doing with a comic book movie. Everyone thought Ant-Man was going to be awful, especially after all the drama surrounding Edgar Wright’s involvement and eventual departure. However, they delivered a solid, smaller scale Marvel film and started branching superhero movies into other genres. So far, superhero films have just been action films, but Ant-Man took things in a different direction and made the first superhero heist movie. The experiment was successful, and I hope that means Marvel Studios might take a few more chances and use some lesser known characters to give us other genres that aren’t traditionally superhero focused. Ant-Man was a solid movie and Marvel Legends: Infinite Series Ant-Man is a great representation of his look from this movie and a great figure in its own right. The only thing that’s a minor drawback/headscratcher is that the rest of his series mates were comic inspired, yet unlike Star-Lord, Marvel hasn’t co-opted this design into the comics yet.

Stoned in Space November

Since we got the all important promotional-cover image out of the way in September, we spent the better part of October actually working on Stoned in Space, and we made enough progress to have screen shots! Unfortunately Rho_bot has been less productive at graphics than I was at code (something about real life and an actual job was mentioned. Sounded pretty fishy to me), so we still have plenty of filler graphics and preliminary layouts.  While many of the details of the game continue to be shrouded from us some details have become clear.  Players will be able to choose a weapon, shield, and special ability for their ship.

ship-config screen

Rho_bot, Roid_0 is calling out to you  for real artwork.
Rho_bot, Roid_0 is calling out to you for real artwork.

While it still contains some filler graphics we’re comfortable with the layout of the game screen although we are discussing adding another control.


Schedule Update


Project has a 25% chance of completion on or before the date represented by the blue line and a 75% chance of completion by the red line. So we're currently looking at something Februaryish
Project has a 25% chance of completion on or before the date represented by the blue line and a 75% chance of completion by the red line. So we’re currently looking at something Februaryish


After some initial volatility the schedule seems to have settled on some time in February for a completion date. Since most of the buffer has been allocated we’ll see if that holds up for another month.


Funko Legacy Collection Firefly Series Jayne Cobb (Variant Edition)

Jayne Cobb 01As you can probably tell from the Scoundrel Round-Up, I’m a huge fan of Firefly. The series was excellent, Serenity was great even if I still haven’t fully recovered from a certain character’s death, and even some of the comics I’ve dabbled in that have fleshed out the universe were well done. The only thing that was missing was that I couldn’t pair my love of Firefly with my love of action figures…until now. A relatively new toy company named Funko, who got their start in making cute pop culture bobbleheads, decided to start making a move into the action figure market with their various Legacy Collections. The Legacy Collection started with A Game of Thrones, but has since moved on to include properties like Magic: The Gathering, the video game Evolve, and even Firefly. I’ll admit, I haven’t committed fully to the Firefly Legacy Collection yet, but when I saw an exclusive version of Jayne Cobb at my comic store, I figured he’d be a good way to start. I’ve come close to buying other characters, but Jayne is good enough for now. There are a few flaws in this line that need to be addressed before I’m willing to drop more of my toy collecting budget on Funko Legacy products.

Jayne Cobb 02I figure I’ll start with the flaws first because, honestly, the flaws are pretty universal across the various Legacy Collections. The biggest issue is the plastic Funko chose to use for most of their figures’ joints. The plastic is clear and while it does make the joint look pretty seamless and leaves you without oddly colored circles on your figures, the plastic is extremely weak. I’ve read reviews of various Legacy Collection figures breaking as people were trying to remove them from their box. That’s a bad way to introduce the action figure collecting community to your product. I’ll admit, I was quite nervous Jayne’s left elbow was going to break because it looks as though some extra plastic on the forearm didn’t get cut away at the factory and as such has forced the clear plastic (poorly painted with skintone paint) into a weird alignment. That joint has held, however, Jayne right wrist snapped off right below the glove shortly after I took pictures of him for this review. Mercifully, it was a peg joint so it was pretty simple for me to fix using a small drill bit, a piece of paper clip and some superglue. What boggles my mind about this joint breaking is that the day before it broke, it was moving just fine because I needed to twist his wrist a little to position it better to hold one of his accessories. The next day I noticed it was still in that position so I turned it back the other way and then Jayne’s hand was in my hand. From what I’ve read on other toy blogs, Funko has finally started moving away from this clear plastic, but considering A Game of Thrones Legacy Collection has been going for two years, and Firefly has only been around for one, you’d think all the replacement figures Funko had to dish out to the A Game of Thrones fans would have made them rethink their figure construction sooner than this. I bought Jayne knowing he could break on me and I got lucky that my broken joint was a pretty easy fix. However, anyone interested in buying any Funko Legacy Collection figures should do so knowing going in that the figures are pretty fragile.

Jayne Cobb 03My other issue with the Funko Legacy Collection lines has been in the face sculpts. Again, this is something A Game of Thrones fans have complained about, and it’s continuing into the Firefly Legacy Collection. Part of why I haven’t committed to the rest of the Firefly Legacy Collection is that the actor likenesses are pretty soft. Jayne Cobb looks like Jayne, but having seen the Kaylee, Wash, and Zoe figures in person, the likenesses aren’t what I’d like for a mid-range figure based on a property I love. If I’m buying Kaylee, I want her to look like Kaylee and not some generic female character. The variant Jayne’s likeness is quite solid, but honestly, I’ve seen non-variant Jayne at Barnes & Noble a couple of times and was kind of surprised at how comparatively weak the likeness on that figure was. I know it’s just my personal preference, but if I’m shelling out more than $20 dollars on a figure and it’s in six-inch scale, I really do want the likenesses to be solid because there’s plenty of space to work with to get the likeness right. I’m forgiving of weak likenesses in smaller scales, but working in a larger scale means, to me, that there’s no excuse for a figure not to look like the character/actor they’re supposed to represent.

Jayne Cobb 04Okay, now that I’ve got the really rough stuff out of the way, let’s actually look at the figure himself. The folks at Funko designed every figure from this series so far (I’ve heard talk online of figures of Inara, Simon and River coming but who knows if those will materialize) using the initial pre-release publicity stills Fox put out. For some characters, most notably Zoe, this means the figure looks just a little off-model because the character never actually wore that specific outfit in the series. However, for Jayne, the publicity still comes close enough to Jayne’s look throughout the entire show that it’s not a big deal. At his most basic, Jayne’s wearing a pair of military-style pants, with combat boots, a belt and a t-shirt. From the waist down, the overall figure design does have a few problems. First of all, Jayne has a ridiculously obvious articulation cut about three-quarters of the way up his left thigh. On the right thigh, the designers were able to use the lower holster strap to obscure the cut, but on the left leg, there’s nothing like that. It’s honestly kind of distracting. Plus, the extreme gap also throws off the balance of that leg a little bit. I’ve tried to push the peg in deeper to the leg, but that’s all the further it goes and it leaves Jayne with slightly uneven legs. From what I’ve seen of photos online, this is unfortunately a uniform problem across all Jayne figures. The ankles are quite poseable, with a hybrid rocker and hinge. It has a lot of range of motion, but with that twitchy left leg, it makes it a little harder to find a good pose for him. The design of his hips is a little odd. The articulation is good, but the overall design is just a little off aesthetically speaking. It leaves Jayne with an odd looking groin area because his hips joints don’t look quite natural. Around the figure’s waist, Jayne’s got a belt with a function holster for his pistol and a sheath for his knife. While we didn’t see him use the knife much beyond the series premiere, it’s nice that the Funko folks included this. Up top, Jayne’s got a nice basic t-shirt. There’s articulation right below the pectoral muscles and that’s it. I do wish he had a waist joint just because you get a lot more range of motion when you have both of those joints instead of one or the other. The arms look appropriately strong, though the left arm does have that disconcerting warp in his elbow joint. Jayne’s hands a quite well designed and aside from the breakage, they have some good poseability. The wrist can turn and there’s also a built-in hinge. The gloves he wore on the show are recreated very well and it helps finish off the look of a more combat-ready Jayne. Up top, though, is the main reason I bought Jayne. The standard version of Jayne Cobb is hatless, but this exclusive (which was first available at Comic Con last year and then available from the comic/toy catalog Previews) has Jayne wearing the hat he received from his mother in “The Message.” As someone who owns a Jayne hat that was knitted for him by a good friend who’s also a sci-fi nut, I’m a sucker for the Jayne hat and any time Jayne shows up with it, I’ll buy it quickly. The face sculpt looks like Adam Baldwin and the hat is extremely well detailed. It’s got some nice texture that makes it look like it’s knitted and I’m impressed that Funko went to the trouble of doing that and making sure it had two little ties coming off the bottom. Since the standard release figure is just a simple head-swap, you can get a good idea of what that figure is like from this review even though the standard release doesn’t have the hatted head.

Like Jayne’s actual costume, the figure’s paint work is pretty simple. He’s wearing pretty simple clothes so it makes sense. The paint job also comes straight from the publicity stills and while I get why Funko did that, I do kind of wish Jayne was wearing the Blue Sun shirt that became so synonymous with the character by the end of the series. As it stands, the figure is wearing a greenish-brown shirt with a camouflaged Chinese symbol on his chest. The color is quite similar to the Blue Sun shirt, but the symbol is not. I do kind of wonder what that symbol means in Chinese. If any readers know, please, let us know in the forums. The pants look decent in the very light tan that Funko chose, but if they wanted to bring the pants more in line with the publicity still, they should be a little darker. As it stands, Jayne looks more like he’s wearing light khakis like you see businessmen wearing than military-style pants. The boots have some nice paint details on them. The placement of the olive drab reminds me of the military surplus jungle boots I wore back in the day. They were cheap but they were solidly-built boots and that makes sense for Jayne. The hat looks great on this figure and the colors are solidly applied. The skin tone is a little heavily applied but it still looks natural and not waxy. The paint also really helps sell this figure as Jayne Cobb to me. The paint folks did an excellent job painting this figure’s face and I like having a little angry Adam Baldwin staring at me from my desk, looking at me like I owe him money. (Seriously, Funko, a statue Jayne variant would be a pretty awesome exclusive.)

Jayne Cobb 05I’m a firm believer that an action figure, even if it’s high end, should have at least one accessory and it looks like the folks at Funko agree. All the Firefly Legacy Collection figures have some great accessories and Jayne’s are very fitting. Jayne’s got the knife we saw him use to threaten the Alliance agent that snuck aboard the ship during the series premiere. It’s a decent piece, though it looks awfully small in his hands and neither hand really holds it all that well. I think had they made the knife itself a little bigger, it would look better and fit in his hand better. On his right side, Jayne’s got the slightly futuristic LeMat pistol he carried in the show. That was his primary weapon on the show so it makes sense for Funko to use it, though much like the knife, it looks just a tad undersized. However, that’s not really going to matter much because Jayne also comes with Vera. If you’ve got a Jayne figure and don’t arm him with Vera, I’m sorry, but you’re doing something wrong. When I used my Jayne hat and Blue Sun shirt to create a Jayne costume for a nerdy Halloween party, I made sure to get myself a Vera in the form of a modern Nerf assault rifle I repurposed. Vera may have only shown up in one episode, but much like the hat, it was such a memorable moment it’s nice to see Vera here. The rifle is extremely well-detailed and looks like it was pulled from the screen and shrunk down and put into tiny-Jayne’s hands. The accessories are all great choices and while I have to fault Funko for their construction issues, I also have to give them credit across their lines for doing such great work with their figures’ accessories. Vera looks perfect in Jayne’s hand and it really helps complete the figure.

Jayne Cobb 06Despite the fact that his wrist broke a few months after I bought him, I still have to admit that the variant Jayne is a great figure. I want Funko to figure out how to built figures without clear plastic joints because these are very well-designed figures. I just don’t want to have to worry about my adult collector-oriented figure breaking from what should be a minor pose change. I get that not all toys are designed to stand up to kids playing with them anymore, but Jayne’s wrist broke during a normal action and that’s a problem. I knew going in that Funko figures are fragile, but I shouldn’t have to make peace with the fact that my action figure could break taking him out of the box when I buy him. I want to support the various Funko Legacy collections, but as of now, I’m still a little gunshy because of very well-documented quality control issues. If you’re willing to roll the dice on your figures, the Funko Legacy Collection is worth your money, though you will want to make sure you get the figure in a pose you like quickly to minimize your chances of breaking something.