Thursday, December 8, 2011

Recent Toy Purchases: Fall 2012

As I’m getting ready to work up a campaign world inspired by one of the most famous action figure lines of all time, I figured I’d share with you some of my recent toy purchases.

First off, the fact I’m buying toys again is a sign of the relative prosperity I’ve had the last year, since moving to Kerrville. Seriously, I didn’t realize how bad things had gotten for me in Corpus Christi until I was out of there. I’m not just talking about my writing, (though my PDF sales have picked up dramatically, which I attribute mostly to a more regular schedule of well illustrated product), but I’m speaking mostly about my day job at the restaurant. Up here, I’m getting full time hours, and more importantly, a bunch more respect from my co-workers and bosses, than I was in that piss-hole back in Corpus.

Anyway, in the last couple of months, I’ve picked up two new Iron Man figures, from the Iron Man 2 movie line.

First, I acquired Ultimate Iron Man, which is probably my favorite design for the suit. This thing is big, bulky, and ugly: it looks like realistic (albeit futuristic) military hardware. The sculpt accurately captures the MASS of the thing, which is tough to do at 3.75 inch scale. The armor feels like its heavy enough to actually have a guy inside. Too many Iron Man figures (and the armor designs that inspired them) look too slender: if you didn’t know the character you’d assume he’s a robot, not a man inside the armor. The newest, Salvador Larocca designed 3.75” fig has this problem. It looks great, but it’s just too skinny.

This fig came with a second, trapezoidal head with round eye-pieces. This is from the Ultimate Iron Man origin comic, written by Orson Scott Card and illustrated by Adam Kubert. I like the design of that helmet, but I’m displaying the figure with the Hitch designed helmet. That one has heavy black lines around the eye slits, which sets of the white optics from the yellow face place nicely; the Kubert helmet doesn’t have the extra black detailing (though I suppose I could take a Micron pen and fix that) and the white goggles get lost against the yellow face plate.

Next, I picked up the War Machine figure. This version of the armor is the one that appeared in Iron Man 2, not the bulkier version of the suit from 1990s Marvel Comics, unfortunately. I prefer the original comics suit, or else the heavy, aerodynamically rounded version of Jim Rhodes from Avengers: The Initiative. Again, it all comes down to my preference for bulkier powered armor. This fig also includes an alternate head, revealing a battle scarred Rhodes with a cybernetic eye and partially metal jaw. I’m actually keeping the second head in my ‘toy parts’ drawer: it’s just so dead eyed and creepy I’m not sure I want it staring at me from my shelves.

While getting groceries last week, I picked up a Steve Rodgers figure, wearing his post-Siege SHIELD commander suit. I love this guy, and I’m a big fan of this simple, pragmatic body stocking as opposed to the Captain America costume. Steve comes with an absolutely kick ass M-16 and pistol (probably a Colt automatic, though I can’t be sure), and right now I’ve got him standing side by side with my GI Joes.

Finally, while doing some Christmas shopping I picked up the revised version of Chetarra from the latest Thundercats toon. (Yes, I do buy gifts for Christmas. I don’t do this because I actually LIKE the holiday or give two fucks about the birth of a Messiah I don’t even believe ever lived, but I do enjoy the chance to give cool shit to my friends and family.)

Anyway, the design on the character is awesome, but the figure’s execution is somewhat lacking. Her limbs are a way too slender and fragile. I’ve got some concerns about her bicep-joints, and I wouldn’t be surprised if her forearm snaps off entirely at some point in the future. The slenderness of her legs is only exaggerated by the long black stripe that runs down the front of her legs, connecting her shorts to her shoes, like some really long, mutant version of a garter strap. It’s really an odd design choice, and I can’t imagine what function that strap serves in-story; I wish the character illustrator had either just given Chetarra pants, or left the strap off entirely.

Also, Chetarra is a bit anemic in the accessories department. She’s got a brown bo staff, made out of really, really soft plastic. This wouldn’t be so bad if I hadn’t gotten so used to the excellent selection of accessories the new GI Joe figures come with. Hell, my Beachhead came with like 30 different guns, and all Chetarra gets is a stick? WTF? Give the poor girl a sword at least.

On the plus side, the figure has some of the best paint apps I’ve seen recently. The detail on her face, particularly her eyes, is stunning, and her spots are well applied. Anyway, I’ve got her standing side by side with the 4 inch “Planet Hulk”. They make a pretty bad-ass couple, and great inspiration as I’m starting work on my He-Man homage world.

On a related note, why the hell hasn’t Mattel put out a 3.75 inch Masters of the Universe line? Seriously, their adult collector focus really pisses me off. First off, these figures should be purchased and enjoyed by kids, and within the price range of working class families, not 40 year old white guys with way too much disposable income. My making MOTU a pure-nostalgia brand, I’m worried that Mattel is pretty much going to kill off all interest in the world, and certainly prevents any growth into a new generation of kids.

The smaller figures are exponentially cheaper, can come with more accessories (as Beachhead or Planet Hulk prove), and it’s easier to produce vehicles and play-sets for.

Not only that, but the smaller figs take up less shelf space, and as an ‘adult collector’ living on a budget and in a small apartment, those factors really matter to me. Those four figures I mentioned above retailed for about $8 each; roughly $32 for the lot, which is about what I’d be paying for one MOTU Classic figure, including shipping and handling.

And that’s if I buy direct from the on-line store, as soon as an action figure hits the secondary market, the price doubles or triples. So my chances of scoring the awesome looking Optikk are pretty much nil at this point…. Unless I shell $70+ to some basement dwelling fuck with an online storefront.

Seriously Mattel, get your head out your corporate ass and put out GI Joe scaled He-Man figs. The collector in me will buy dozens, and the kid in me wants to see Ultimate Iron Man trading repulsor blasts with Man At Arms, or see Snake Eyes slitting Webstor’s throat, or my Cobra Viper firing off a LAW rocket at Trap Jaw and recoiling in horror as he realizes the blast does exactly jack shit, because Trap Jaw is an MDC creature…. Sorry, I geeked out there for a second.

Blessed Be,

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