Category: reviews

Toy Review: Voltron Legendary Defender Basic Series – Blue Lion & Lion Attack Voltron

Like any good child of the 1980’s one of the highlights of my Saturday mornings was catching a block of Voltron: Defender of the Universe.  Even by 1985 standards, Voltron was a pop culture phenomenon whose legendary iconography has remained relevant for thirty years.  Now, when Netflix relaunched the franchise last year with, Voltron: Legendary Defenders, I was very impressed with the results.  As promised, Voltron: Legendary Defender paid homage to the original series, staying loyal to mythos, characters and overall look of the show.

I mean, they even brought the Space Mice back!  After binging the first season I likened it very much to the  the ill-fated ThunderCats reboot from 2011, which I loved.  In both cases theses reboots embraced some of the sillier aspects of their predessors all the while providing a more contemporary, action driven plot.

In anticipation of the second season of Voltron: Legendary Defender, set to release on January 20th, 2017 my good friends at Playmates Toys were kind enough to send over some samples from their expansive action figure and role playing line which has started to hit stores across the country.

Long a go a mighty robot warrior,Voltron, was created to protect the galaxy from evil.

Now, five young heroes must master the power of the Voltron Lions to defeat the Galra Empire and restore peace!

The Voltron: Legendary Defender Line is spread of four categories:

  • The highly detailed and articulated basic action figure assortment includes all of the heroes and villains of Voltron, and each figure comes equipped with incredibly fun action features.
  • The Legendary Lion assortment includes all 5 Lions that can combine to unlock unique phrases and sounds from the show and form a 16” articulated Voltron figure
  • The 14” Ultimate Voltron Figure features electronic lights, sounds, incredible detail, articulation and more.
  • The roleplay assortment includes Voltron and Red Lion masks and swords, as well as an electronic transforming version of Voltron’s sword.

For review purposes I was provided two figures from the Basic Assortment: Blue Lion and Lion Attack Voltron.

img_7511It is important to note that the Lions in the Basic Assortment do not combine, rather they each have a specific action function.  The Blue Lion has a “pounce” action which is is engaged by pushing down on the lion so that it’s hind legs lower and you hear a click.The lion then “pounces” by pushing a button on its back.  Due to the internal mechanics of the action feature, the Blue Lion has limited articulation but it’s sculpt and paint are extremely faithful to it’s look on the show, making it a decent display piece.

One of the things that I enjoy most about Voltron: Legendary Defender is that the overall production design pays homage to the classic Voltron we all know and love.  The Blue Lion of 2017 looks nearly identical to the Blue Lion of 1985.  They aren’t amorphous blobs like those new Zords from the upcoming live action Power Rangers movie.  You take one look at it and you would think that it looks very much like the Voltron toys you may have had as a kid 20+ years ago.

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The second figure that I was sent was Lion Attack Voltron, one of two full Voltron figures in the basic assortment.  Coming in at right around 5 1/2 inches, Lion Attack Voltron features a missile launching feature which is activated by depressing the end of the projectile which protrudes from the Green Lion.

It’s a fun little figure and undeniable cool, with just enough articulation which make for some really great hero poses.  From what I’ve seen first hand, the Basic Assortment is a great entry level action figure for long time fans who want a small piece of nostalgia or even better a great way for those very same long time fans to introduce a new generation of fans to Voltron, Defender of the Universe.

Do you want to know what one of my favorite parts of ripping open these figures was? The mini fold-out catalog wedged under the plastic tray which showcased the rest of the action figures.  As a kid I used to freak out over the catalogs included with GI Joes and Transformers.  It was a way to plan out what you were going to ask for for Christmas, your birthday and when you got a good report card.

 

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Now, savvy collectors have already started to spot the Voltron: Legendary Defender line at retail. I imagine that the Legendary Series which features the combining lions and allows you to assemble a 16″ tall robot will be the first to fly of shelves.  It has been quite some time since we’ve been able to get Voltron merchandise at retail that wasn’t ultra high end or vendor exclusive (cough cough R.I.P MattyCollector). The Basic Assortment figures have a MSRP of $9.99 and will be available across most brick and mortar retail establishment as well as several online options.

Toy Review: WWE Ninja Superstars – Raphael as Sting (Playmates Toys)

If there is one action figure line that can get away with ridiculous variants and theme mashups it would have to be Playmate Toys’ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line.  The latest genre mashup was a result of a partnership with WWE which transformed our favorite foursome into new versions of some of the most iconic WWE Superstars ever to grace the squared circle.

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  • Leonardo as WWE Superstar John Cena
  •  Raphael as WWE Hall of Famer Sting
  •  Donatello as WWE Superstar Undertaker
  •  Michelangelo as WWE Hall of Famer “Macho Man” Randy Savage

Playmates Toys has been the master license holder for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for well … forever (1988 to be exact).  And when I was offered a chance to get an early look look at one of the Walmart Exclusive Ninja Superstar figures I couldn’t say no.

Once the package arrived I was greeted by Raphael as Sting, which in my opinion could be the truest Turtle-to-WWE Superstar translation of the series.  At the 6-inch scale, Raphael has 12 points of articulation and is capable of some really great poses despite his duster, which is more flexible than your would think just by looking at it.

 

img_3366As far as accessories go, Raphael comes with Sting’s iconic bat, a kendo stick and a trash can lid.  The paint applications are spot on and my review sample was free of any smudges or smears.  I imagine that this figure in particular will appeal to wrestling fans of a certain age as the height of Sting’s career was in the now defunct WCW (which was purchased by WWE in 2001).  I fully believe that the Leonardo as John Cena will sell because … John Cena.

Sting returned to the WWE Universe to much acclaim in 2014 with appearances in SummerSlam and Wrestlemania 31 and was enshrined in the WWE Hall of Fame in 2016.  In the grand scheme of things, this really isn’t the weirdest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle mashup we have seen in the near 30 year old line.  The WWE Ninja Superstars are a fun combination of two of the more popular boys action figure lines right now.

 

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(L-R) Grand Slammin’ Raph (1991), WWE Ninja Superstar Raphael (2016), Classic Collection Raphael (2013)

 

As stated earlier, this limited series is a Walmart exclusive and has a MSRP of $19.99.  Now my toy hunting days are somewhat behind me, but I can tell you that I have yet to see any of these at the two Wally Worlds that I frequent.  If you can track one down, this would make an excellent gift for the 10 year old boy or the 34 year old man in your life.  Good luck and Happy hunting!

 

*Note – This figure was provided by Playmates’ Toys for review.  

 

Pull List Preview — “Escape from New York #1” (BOOM! Studios)

 

Cover by Riley Rossmo

Cover by Riley Rossmo

After the success of their Big Trouble in Little China series BOOM! Studios has continued their partnership with John Carpenter to bring another one of his iconic characters back to comics.

Escape from New York #1 picks up mere seconds from the close of the film which finds Snake Plissken public enemy number one after humiliating the President and effectively derailing the peace process in the midst of World War Three.  With the United States Police Force on his ass Snake is on the run … to Florida.  Apparently Florida seceded from the United States and has a heavily fortified border along with a bunch of Soviet nukes courtesy of Cuba.

I really enjoyed reading the “new” adventures of Snake Plissken again as the last time we saw Snake in comic book form was back in 2003 when a four issue miniseries was published by CrossGen/Hurricane Entertainment.  Here’s to hoping that this will ignore the events from Escape from LA entirely.  Regardless of your feelings regarding that not-so-good sequel Escape from New York #1 is on sale December 3rd at comic shops everywhere.

Check out a five-page preview courtesy of my friends at BOOM! Studios.

Pull List Preview – Big Trouble in Little China #2 from BOOM! Studios

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Big Trouble in Little China #2 Incentive Cover

Tomorrow BOOM! Studios will be treating us to the further adventures of Jack Burton as he looks to save his friend Wang Chi from the clutches of yet another evil immortal Chinese spirit.  Jack Burton must travel the Midnight Road and recover the souls of the Three Storms in order to settle the score.

Big Trouble in Little China #2 is another fun episode into the ongoing adventures of America’s favorite long haul trucker.  My favorite part of this series so far is how we get insights into Burton’s past.  In this issue we find out that Burton was married to a stripper that may or may not have been a vampire.

With Egg Shen and Six Demon Bag in tow it remains to be seen whether or not Burton will survive the Midnight Road and save Wang Chi before time runs out.  Now that we are finally getting a “sequel” to Big Trouble in Little China I can only hope that the good people at BOOM! Studios see fit to expand this title past its current four-issue series arc.

Check out a five page preview of Big Trouble in Little China #2 courtesy of BOOM! Studios after the jump.

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Pull List Preview – Big Trouble in Little China #1 from BOOM! Studios

Eric Powell's cover for Big Trouble in Little China #1 from BOOM! Studios

Next week BOOM! Studios will be releasing the highly anticipated Big Trouble in Little China #1 which will serve as a direct sequel to John Carpenter’s 1986 cult classic film.  I’ve had an opportunity to preview the first issue and as an ardent fan of all things Jack Burton I was definitely more than pleased with the end result.

Eric Powell (Bone) worked on the story with John Carpenter and that collaboration really allows the continuing adventures of Jack Burton to dovetail nicely with the ending of the film.  Have you ever wondered what happened to the Chinese Wild Man that stowed away in the Pork Chop Express?  You won’t have to wait long for that question to be answered.

Ancient Chinese Mysticism, The Wing Kong, and Jack Burton being …. Jack Burton.  Big Trouble in Little China #1 is everything you could possibly want in a sequel to what is arguably one of the best action comedies of all time.

Check out a five-page preview of Big Trouble in Little China #1 courtesy of BOOM! Studios after the jump.

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Book Club: An Early Look At Daniel H. Wilson’s Robogenesis

robogenesis_cvrIn 2011, Daniel H. Wilson’s delivered Robopocalypse, set in a near future where an artificial intelligence called Archos-14 became self-aware with intentions on destroying the human race (think World War Z by way of the Terminator). The tense techno-thriller in the vein of Michael Crichton wound up selling nearly 160,000 copies and had its film rights optioned by none other Steven Spielberg.

Later this summer Wilson is taking us deeper into his menacing world of robotics in Robogenesis, where the human (and not so human) survivors deal with the after effects of the war with “Big Rob” and find themselves facing an even greater threat in a landscape forever changed.

Over the last week I poured through the review copy sent to me by Doubleday and found myself completely drawn back into the world that Wilson created three years ago. Robogenesis picks up just moments after the conclusion of Robopocalypse.  One of things that I appreciate most about these novels is the “future war” setting, and for me that is something that I have always wanted to see fully realized in the later Terminator films.

Wilson’s considerable background in computer science and robotics is evident throughout the novel’s nearly 400 pages; but in no way does the narrative ever get bogged down in “techno-babble”.  Robogenesis is a story of how in the face of insurmountable odds the human race will find a way to adapt and fight on.

Wilson has opened up a new world populated by humans, sentient machines, and other lifeforms that seem to straddle the line between the two.  Robogenesis is a thrilling return to form for Wilson and deserving of a slot on your summer reading list.

Robogenesis will be released on June 10, 2014 and can be pre-ordered through Amazon in Kindle, Hardcover, and Audiobook formats.

 

 

 

 

Advent Figure Review Day 9 – Kraang’s Turtle Target Practice

ToyReviewAdventCalendar

** Today’s review is part of the Toy Advent Review Calendar. Visit adventfigurereviews.com for a new toy review every day until Christmas!!! **

When it was announced that LEGO would be producing licensed construction sets based on the new Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series the nerd world rejoiced.  Once the sets were revealed it was quite clear that LEGO was not going to make it a cost effective venture to obtain all of four of the ninja teens; by my own accounting it would cost nearly $90.00 to them all (and that is not including the supporting characters).

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While I was able to snap up all four turtles without having to submit myself to the secondary market, however I had to sacrifice one of the Turtles’ antagonists … Kraang.  Now for the LEGO collector polybags often become white whales.  They are sighted sporadically, and they end up costing you dearly at the end of the hunt.

This hunt is only intensified when the polybag in question is from a licensed property .. enter Kraang’s Turtle Target Practice.  At 36 pieces and roughly 90 seconds of actual build time, the $4.99 MSRP gets you Kraang, little Turtle voodoo dolls, and a very alien looking laser turret.  If you are a completist on a budget like me, there is no reason not to track down Kraang’s Turtle Practice down immediately.

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While Kraang’s Turtle Target Practice gives the collector’s what they want, a vital character at a reasonable price point this little polybag really does stand on its own and would be a welcome addition to any Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fan.

 

 

DDOY Review: “The Colony” (2013)

Director: Jeff Renfroe
Starring: Laurence Fishburne, Bill Paxton, Kevin Zegers
Studio: Entertainment One/Image Entertainment

 Forced underground by the next ice age, a struggling outpost of survivors must fight to preserve humanity against a threat even more savage than nature.

It’s the mid 21st century and the Earth is nearly two decades into a new Ice Age. What is left of humanity survives in colonies dug deep underground.  Life is a tenuous existence, with the constant fear of food shortages, sickness, and the unending winter.  

Some guys lead by Laurence Fishburne leave their home of Colony 7 to answers a distress call from Colony 5.  When the rescue party arrives at Colony 5 what they find is horror beyond words as the facility was overrun by a feral cannibal tribe who turned it into a slaughterhouse.

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“Frak me. No one said anything about cardio!?!”

I bet you can’t guess what happens next … the surviving members of the rescue party retreat to Colony 7 only to lead the grunting bloodthirsty brood (which seem to be cousins the Reavers from Firefly/Serenity) back to their doorsteps, setting up for an epic showdown. The promising build up in the first third of the film is squandered during the terribly derivative final act. By the time you end up back at Colony 7 you know exactly was is going to happen because you have seen it before in horror films like The Hills Have Eyes and The Descent.

While The Colony has several familiar science fiction and horror tropes, it does very little to improve upon them or do something a little bit different. In the end it is just another bland genre film.

When I first saw the trailer for The Colony several months ago I figured there was no way a post-apocalyptic science-fiction/horror film starring Laurence Fishburne and Bill Baxton could let me down … I guess I was wrong.

 

 

 

 

Review: John Carpenter’s Snake Plissken Chronicles #1 (2003)

spc_01cvrIn 1981 John Carpenter redefined the anti-hero with Snake Plissken in Escape from New York. And despite its many flaws Plissken’s return in Escape from LA was enjoyable, if only to revisit Carpenter’s dystopian vision of the United States.  There have been several attempts to bring Plissken to television and even back to the movies (a long gestating reboot is in development hell).  One would think that a comic based on the iconic Snake Plissken would be a sure fire hit, and a no brainer for a publishing company to license … well they did in 2003.

A decade ago CrossGen/Hurricane Entertainment worked with John Carpenter to produce a comic based on the ongoing adventures  of Snake Plissken which took place immediately after the events of Escape from New York.

John Carpenter’s Snake Plissken Chronicles #1 (whew) has a simple set up.  After rescuing the President from the Duke of New York, Plissken has set up a job in Atlantic City. spc_01_1The trick, getting there amidst the roving gangs who staked their territorial claim along the New Jersey Turnpike.  And in case you were wondering, it only takes one panel for Plissken to make a “what exit are you from” quip.

The pencils are well done and capture a well enough likeness of Kurt Russell as Snake Plissken so as not to be offensive. The scripting and story were done in “conjunction” with John Carpenter and maintains the taut pacing expected with his films.

And SPOILER ALERT … this four issue miniseries definitely wraps up in definitive Plissken style.   By no means are any of the issues of John Carpenter’s Snake Plissken Chronicles hard to come obtain.  I’m relatively confident that you would be able to add these to your burgeoning Plissken shrine for roughly $3.00-5.00 each.

Looking back at this comic after ten years really makes me hope that a publishing house with some experience in licensing “mature” properties would take another swing at this.  I’m sure that Snake Plissken could find a home at Dynamite, Image, or even IDW.

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