Category Archives: toys

Toy Collecting While Adulting

neca 2019 sdccLast Thursday was World Turtle Day, or something like that. I thought about looking up the reason why that is, but I decided I’d prefer not to know. Instead I get to just associate it with The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as well as NECA, the toy company that has become a favorite of TMNT fans worldwide. And that’s because it has become a bit of an annual tradition with NECA as it looks to that day on the calendar to announce its latest TMNT themed collectibles due to arrive for San Diego Comic Con in the summer. It’s an exciting time as a turtle toy collector, but this year there was some dread on my part.

For the past several years, NECA has really been killing it with its TMNT products. It started way back in 2008 when the company released its set of turtles based on their original appearance in the pages of Mirage Comics. Licensing issues with Nickelodeon and Playmates, the holders of the master toy license since the 1980s, prevented NECA from really going too much further with the line. A loophole, or just a voluntary opening on the part of Nick and Playmates, allowed NECA to return to the license as convention exclusives. NECA could create figures based on the brand and sell them at San Diego Comic Con and only there (eventually, it opened up to include NECA’s webstore as well). And I believe they also had to be a part of a set and not an individual release.

video game shredder foot

One of NECA’s earlier SDCC sets – arcade game Shredder and Foot Soldiers.

Nickelodeon and Playmates would not allow NECA to create figures based on the original cartoon series, so the company had to get a bit more resourceful. Its first solution was to make figures based on the video games complete with “digitized” paint. They also supplemented the original Mirage line with a set featuring Shredder and the Foot Clan. Eventually, likely due to the success of these products, the license started to loosen with its restrictions. NECA was allowed to create quarter-scale versions of 90s movie turtles and sell them at retail. These super-sized action figures are lovingly detailed and some of the best toys I’ve had the pleasure of owning. The license then loosened further to allow NECA to release a set of turtles and villains based on the 1987 mini series for sale at SDCC in 2017. Then last year the company followed with a set of scaled-down movie figures, but more importantly, they came with an announcement.

leo vs shredder two pack

NECA has finally received the go-ahead to distribute to retail. These Target Two-Packs have been in constant demand since release.

Last year was the final year for NECA and its TMNT product being locked into the convention exclusive category. NECA was finally granted the ability to head to retail with only minimal restrictions. The movie turtles could be sold individually, and NECA partnered with Gamestop to sell them in their stores and on their website. They were a huge success as they sold out quickly. Restocks have disappeared just as fast and hopefully the supply will keep rolling in. NECA also was able to partner with Target for its figures based on the 87 cartoon. These figures had to be sold as two-packs and retail for $50. They also could not be stocked in the toy section, but rather electronics (basically, where Target keeps its vast assortment of Funko merchandise). These figures have been just as hard to find as the movie figures, and it sounds like they’re here to stay as NECA showed off a Bebop and Rocksteady tentatively scheduled for release this fall.

neca bebop rocksteady

And look who is coming this fall!

Now, I’ve been fortunate in that I was able to secure the SDCC sets each of the past two years so I haven’t had to hunt for the figures at retail. NECA launched an ambassador program last fall in which fans are asked to photograph Target’s NECA section each week and send it in. I’m a local ambassador and have yet to see these TMNT figures in person in my store. Either the store never got them or they sold out so fast that I never came across them (I have seen them once in a different Target). I won’t be so lucky in the fall when the new figures drop and will be in the thick of things as I hunt for these sought after toys.

This year though brings another SDCC exclusive from NECA and it’s basically what most fans thought it would be. Earlier this year, NECA released a quarter-scale version of the Foot Soldier from the 1990 movie with Shredder to follow in May. I have longed for a movie accurate Shredder ever since I was a kid and the upcoming figure (who may be shipping now) looks beautiful. I’ve had him on pre-order since they went up and have been very much looking forward to adding him to my collection. As expected though, the convention exclusive this year is a complement to last year’s set in that it contains scaled-down versions of Shredder, the Foot, and introduces a brand new sculpt:  Splinter. The photos NECA released look fantastic and the set is virtually guaranteed to please.

neca shredder q scale

NECA’s take on Shredder from the 1990 film looks incredible.

So what’s the problem? Well, money for one. The quarter-scale Shredder retails for about $125.00 which is no small number when you’re talking about a toy. As an owner of the four turtles who were released at a similar price point, I can say it’s worth it based on their level of quality. The SDCC set will retail for $120, and if these figures receive single-card releases down the line they’ll likely run $25 a piece. The set comes with some extras and will likely have some kind of specialty packaging to justify the added cost. For me though, it caused me to reevaluate if I need two Shredders – a quarter-scale and a 7″ version. Had NECA not gone this route for the convention exclusive then I could have pushed it out of my mind and perhaps gone ahead with a less than responsible solution, but my sensible side has been crowing quite loudly.

2019 has gotten off to an expensive start for me. We had a family vacation over a year in the making in January to Disney World. It was an awesome experience, but then I got to come home to all kinds of fun literally on my first day back. We had some scary trees in the yard that needed to be taken down. Then both vehicles required over a grand a piece in maintenance and repairs for unexpected, non-crash related reasons. And then to top it off, a series of unexpected medical bills resulting from a hand injury I suffered which necessitated surgery (and will require additional surgery next month). That part of life has been no fun, and as a family of four in which I am the sole financial provider, it has caused me to reevaluate my spending habits.

neca SDCC shredder splinter

As awesome as the quarter-scale Shredder looks, it’s hard to choose over this equally incredible looking set.

Which brings me back to Shredder. I hated to do it, but I felt it was the responsible thing to make a choice. Having both seemed like a luxury I couldn’t do right now. Summer is coming, the kids have birthdays, they need new clothes, my son will be starting school in the fall. I’ve already cut way back on my discretionary spending, I haven’t bought a video game in over a year, and I’ve been forced to limit my toy hobby as a result. All self-imposed, but what feels like the right thing to do. I decided I can still collect NECA TMNT and Boss Fight Studio’s Bucky O’Hare line, but all others are being phased out for now. And if I have to make a choice between quarter-scale Shredder and the upcoming set, well, it wasn’t much of a contest.

I cancelled that pre-order. The quarter-scale Shredder looks amazing and I already regret my decision, but the SDCC set will feature four figures that will be much easier to find shelf space for compared with one figure who takes up a lot of real estate. I’m sure NECA expected some of this as toy collectors do typically favor the smaller scale figures over the large ones. Some collectors I know just collect the quarter-scale just to support the line in hopes it will lead to 7″ versions. Being an adult sucks. If given the choice, I would have been a kid forever. “I don’t want to grow up, I’m a Toys R Us kid…” was like my motto as a child. There are perks to adulthood of course (beer), and I wouldn’t trade being a dad for anything, but man being a kid without responsibility was pretty great.

This doesn’t mean I’ll never return to old shell-head. Maybe things open up later this year, or maybe Santa Claus can bail me out. For now, it means I’ll be there when pre-orders open up for the SDCC sets hoping to score one somewhat secure in knowing if I don’t get lucky this year well these figures will likely show up eventually at retail. That childhood dream of a movie accurate Shredder is very much alive. This post isn’t intended as a pity party, just musings on what it means to be an adult with an expensive hobby. Toy collecting is fun and something I’ll likely never give up, but I have to limit myself, even when I don’t want to.

Advertisements

Lego 10766 – Woody and RC (Toy Story 4)

img_4030There’s a new Pixar movie incoming next month, which also means lots of new merch! Especially when the movie is none other than Toy Story 4 as what movie franchise could possibly lend itself better to toys than one about actual toys? Toy Story 4 is a merchandising juggernaut for Disney and a cash cow at the box office as well. That’s pretty much why it still exists as Pixar never intended to even do Toy Story 2. Normally, cash grabs can seem cynical, but in the case of Toy Story I think all can agree that the franchise’s continued existence is very much a good thing as it has yet to deliver a dud. Toy Story 4 could obviously change that, but for now that feels unlikely.

Lego is back to supplement the film with construction sets based on the property. This isn’t new, but what is new is that we now have some pre-existing mini figures in need of some company. Prior Toy Story sets put out by Lego went with customized mini figures that prioritized likeness over the traditional mini figure aesthetic. With Lego’s first wave of Disney themed mini figures a few years ago, the company created a Buzz Lightyear that is basically a traditional mini figure but with some accessories. The line also included an alien which was more like the old Toy Story mini figures in which Lego went with a custom headsculpt. Those two guys seemed lonely on my shelf, so I was happy to check out the latest sets to see what I could do for them.

img_4035

Woody together with his former adversary turned best friend.

And the one that jumped out at me is Lego 10766 – Woody and RC. This is essentially a remake of an old set, 7590, which featured Woody, Buzz, and RC plus the giant rocket from the climax of the original Toy Story. I don’t know why they’re doing a scene from the first film in promotion of the fourth, but I’m not complaining. This set is simpler and includes Woody as a more traditional mini figure, RC, and some in-scale army men. For the low price of 10 dollars, it felt like a no brainer when I saw it at the store as I could easily pair it with the Buzz I already have.

img_4034

Woody is the driver here.

Woody is a pretty straight-forward mini figure. His hat and hair are attached to his head. They’re likely separate pieces and could be separated by someone with some degree of determination, but I am not that person. All of his costume details are printed on and there’s no holster or anything additional. The little army men are just small, all green, pieces. They’re a cute touch, even if they’re not exceptional. There are also some cones to put together and an assortment of boxes with colored lids. It would have been nice if instead of boxes Lego had just included traditional alphabet building blocks, but that would require some custom printing and Lego obviously wanted to target a smaller price point for this one.

img_4036

The cockpit only has room for one.

RC is the main attraction. His build is quick and simple, but also quite clean and functional. His decals and eyes are printed pieces so no stickers to screw around with. You could probably build him just by looking at a picture, but there are of course instructions included. He also features a little remote control that Woody can hold and it’s also a simple construction, but one that captures the likeness quite well. Woody can fit in the driver’s seat area easily and I so far have elected to position Buzz on the tail piece. There’s nothing for him to click onto though. This RC is not as robust as the older one, but it works. About the only complaint I could levy is that the front bumper could have been done in a more inventive manner and the rear wheels should be larger than the front. He sits a bit too flat compared with the source material.

img_4031

Where Woody and company can expect to live out their days. It beats an attic.

A quick and simple post for a quick and simple Lego set. This one does its job and I’m happy to position Woody, RC, Buzz and the Alien together amongst my other Disney collectibles. And while I’d love to add Jessie or Rex, I don’t see myself shelling out for additional Toy Story 4 sets. I prefer this aesthetic for the figures compared with the older ones, and it’s nice to see a relatively cheap, licensed, set from Lego. I don’t think I need any additional Toy Story characters (technically, I don’t need any at all), but maybe I’ll change my mind after seeing Toy Story 4.


Lego Mini Figures – Disney Series 2

img_4019

Series 2 gives us more Aladdin which probably isn’t a surprise considering the new movie coming out.

I feel like I need to take credit for the existence of this wave of Disney Mini Figures. It wasn’t that long ago I wondered why the flood gates never opened following the 2016 release of Cinderella’s Castle from Walt Disney World and the wave of mini figures that preceded it. Just days after that post Lego announced a new set based on Steamboat Willie was incoming. Then just days after that a second wave of mini figures based on Disney properties was announced! My timing could not have been better.

Obviously, I am joking about the credit thing because these were in the works for months, if not years, before being announced. I just ended up having extremely good timing where Disney and Lego are concerned. When that Steamboat Willie set was released I snatched it up and shared my thoughts here on the set as a whole. Now I’ve tracked down the entirety of the mini figures that followed in May and I’m ready to tell you all about them.

img_4023

I’ve got these, and other Disney objects, displayed all over my house.

Series 2 for the Disney brand of Lego mini figures largely went as expected. Several characters complement the characters from series 1 while others are just logical inclusions based on their level of popularity. There are 18 figures in total, two of which are variants of previously released figures. Each comes in a blind bag, but those willing to stand around in-store feeling up bags should be able to reasonably ascertain who’s who without purchasing doubles of any character. Below, I’ll talk about things to look for when hunting as I found this series pretty easy. The only way you’ll end up with doubles is if you get impatient, which is easy to do as no one is 100% comfortable feeling-up bags of toys in a store while strangers look on. You just have to suck it up and feel like a dork for a little while. Each figure retails for 3.99 in most places, but specialty shops may tack on a buck or two and each figures comes with at least one accessory.

1928 Mickey and Minnie Mouse

So these two should look familiar. These are the same figures included in the Steamboat Willie set. It’s not at all surprising to see Lego save a couple of bucks by doubling-up here, and for those not interested in that set at least they can get a Minnie and Mickey this way. The only difference between the two is that these versions use a black, white, and gray color scheme while the Steamboat Willie figures utilized silver instead of gray to make them seem extra special. I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to my toys so I actually prefer this color scheme. Mickey and Minnie both feature a removable hat affixed by a peg with Minnie even coming with an extra in case one gets lost. Mickey sports his iconic steering wheel while Minnie gets a buoy. It’s a pretty lackluster accessory for Minnie as this is also Lego’s go-to piece when creating a toilet seat. Why not give her the ukulele or bird? These two are super easy to find though because of their unique head sculpts. And distinguishing between Mickey and Minnie is also simple given that giant steering wheel. I came across many in my search so they may even be packed slightly higher than other characters, or it could be that many people are leaving them behind. I kind of wish I had extras of the series 1 Mickey so I could get extras of these ones to make a classic, colored, Mickey by combing the black and white head with the colored body.

Huey

Coming in from the Disney Afternoon is Huey, the red-clad nephew of Donald Duck and great nephew to Scrooge McDuck. Huey is based on his classic look and the one most commonly associated with the original DuckTales from the 80s. He uses Lego’s kid legs which are immovable, has the “duck butt” debuted with Donald and Daisy, and removable cap. His accessories include the Junior Woodchuck’s Guide Book and a compass. When trying to find him in a blind bag, look for the book which comes in two pieces and is pretty distinct. Huey looks pretty great and the head sculpt is quite nice. Mostly, I am delighted to see some love for the Disney Afternoon. And naturally, you can’t have Huey without his brothers…

Dewey

Dewey (and Louie) is exactly the same as Huey only the red parts are blue. It’s another way for Lego to save some money and it makes sense as the triplets are identical in the source material (maybe this is why Lego decided on 80s DuckTales instead of the new one). The only other thing differentiating Dewey from Huey is his slingshot accessories. He comes with two, and it’s what you need to look for when feeling up a bag. It may be a small piece, but it’s actually pretty distinct even through a bag.

Louie

The last of the nephews and the one clad in green. I probably should have just put all three together, but oh well. He’s the exact same as his brothers, only he comes with two flashlights. They utilize the lightsaber hilt from Lego’s Star Wars sets and a stud for the light portion. Again, pretty easy to figure out as once you’ve identified that you’ve got one of the duck nephews you just need to find either a stud or the handle as Huey and Dewey do not have a similar piece.

Scrooge McDuck

My personal favorite of this wave is Scrooge himself. Based on his DuckTales look, he’s sporting his blue coat and top hat while also featuring a cane and his number one dime (plus an extra cane for good measure). His head sculpt looks great as it features his glasses molded right onto his bill. They’re colored instead of transparent, but look fine. His cane is missing a handle though, and the red stripe on his hat is molded on, but not painted. As a result, he could have been better, but still looks pretty rad to me. When hunting for Scrooge (who seems to be popular and a touch harder to find as a result) you can safely just key-in on the two walking sticks. Surprisingly, he’s the only figure with a perfectly straight, round, piece like that. If you want further assurance, his hat is also pretty easy to find and he’ll have the duck butt piece as well.

Chip and Dale

The mischievous duo of Chip and Dale make their Lego debut. While they’re obviously not in scale with the other characters, I still consider it a positive to receive such an iconic and classic pair. Chip and Dale utilize the better kid legs which are able to move like conventional mini figure legs as well as unique sculpted heads like the other mascot characters. The only way to distinguish between the two is their accessories. Chip comes with an acorn that’s disassembled. Through a bag it just feels like little, tiny, pieces. Dale, on the other hand, comes with a sack (a nut sack?) that’s pretty distinct and should be a reliable way to separate the two rodents. Lego also took some creative license with the pair and made Dale lighter in color. I’m not sure if this is a popular occurrence in the merchandise world, but I had not encountered it before. Again, purist here, so I’d prefer the two look the same, but it’s not a big deal. I do wish they had a tail piece instead of a printed one on their back. Overall though, they look plenty cute and the designs didn’t suffer in the transfer to 3D.

Elsa

The first series of Disney mini figures surprisingly avoided the princess characters, but this one did not. And how could Lego ignore the incredible popularity of Frozen, especially with a sequel coming later this year? Elsa comes clad in her classic ice blue dress. She has a cape, which I suppose is supposed to be the transparent parts of her dress, but just looks like a cape here. It’s a dark blue and covered in printed snowflakes. She also has an oversized snow flake, a braided hair piece that takes her hair over one shoulder, and a head piece with two facial expressions: a smile and a winking smile. Her base is a trapezoid like piece to account for her robes. Maleficent utilized a similar piece in series 1, but the difference here is that there’s some slight molding on the front to provide a hint of legs underneath – a nice touch. It’s that base that makes it easy to narrow down the other figures when looking for them as she shares that piece with Anna and Jafar. To further separate her from her sister just look for the snowflake. It may be a bit of a dumb accessory, but it does make it easy to find Elsa. Plus, she really didn’t have anything else in the film going for her. The cape looks silly, but the overall likeness is fine and sure to please your daughter (it did mine).

Anna

Anna comes sporting her traditional look when she sets out to find her sister. Her body sculpt is the same as Elsa’s except her hair features two braids instead of one. She even has a smirking face and winking face as well on her head piece. Her cape looks much better by virtue of it being pretty simple making her my preferred Frozen sister. Her accessory is also a bit more fun, though also not tremendously important to her character as it’s just a lantern. It’s a unique piece though making it easy to find Anna in a blind bag. Once you found the leg base piece, just look for the lantern and the cylinder that goes inside of it.

Jafar

Series 1 of the Disney mini figures included Aladdin and the Genie, so why not Jafar in series 2? We need more bad guys, so the sorcerer is welcomed. He has his standard look and comes with his large serpent-topped staff, the piece to look for when hunting. He also has a cape, shoulder pads, and his rather large hat. His head only features one expression, but it’s not like Jafar needs anything aside from his scowl. Characters with a lot of distinct characteristics in their clothing seem to work best, and it’s why Jafar is one of the best figures in this series. Like Anna and Elsa, he also uses the robed base and the abundance of accessories make him a cinch to figure out. The only thing missing is a little parrot stand-in for Iago.

Jasmine

Another princess, this one also pairs nicely with Aladdin. Jasmine is a conventional figure with all of her clothing being printed on. The sides of her body are blue which makes her look rather weird at certain angles, but this is how Lego does this sort of thing to make its figures actually look less blocky. She comes with a bird as seemingly all Disney princesses are capable of conversing with animals. It’s not a particularly exciting accessory, but I guess giving her a tiger would have been a touch excessive. When on the hunt for Jasmine you basically have to use process of elimination as her figure is rather plain. From there, look for the hair which is in a long braid and is rather soft and pretty easy to locate.

Hades

Arguably the easiest one to figure out when feeling-up the bags is Hades. That’s due to his unique leg-piece which is similar to Ursula’s from series 1. It’s molded to feature his robes which have a life of their own in the film he’s from. And if for some reason you can’t locate it, the little flames are also pretty easy to fine. Hades has a great look and the flames on his head are actually glued on. He’s another welcomed bad guy, and while I’ve never been a fan of Hercules, I’ve always liked Hades in spite of his detestable voice actor. He’s one of the better looking figures in this set as the bad guys really stand out.

Hercules

Since we got Hades, it’s no surprise to see Hercules in this wave as well. He’s a traditional mini figure who features two expressions, two swords, a shield, cape, and hair piece. The circular shield is pretty easy to fine, and the two swords stand out as well. I already mentioned I’m not much of a fan of the source material here, but for what it’s worth Hercules looks pretty good. He’d be hard to mess up.

Sally

Coming in from the always popular Nightmare Before Christmas is that lovable scarecrow Sally. Sally is another conventional mini figure with no additions aside from her hair. And it’s that hair that makes her a dead giveaway when searching through bags as it’s huge and spoon-shaped. Which is good because her little flower accessories, which have to be assembled, are somewhat nondescript when on the hunt. Otherwise, her features are achieved entirely via screen-printing as Lego opted not to give her any cloth pieces, which feels like a mistake as her model in the film has such lovely textures that this figure just can’t capture. She’s one of my least favorites as I find this depiction a little boring.

Jack Skellington

Naturally, if you’re going to include Sally then you need to include Jack. He’s able to “wow” more than Sally by virtue of his easily translatable look and additional pieces. He has his bat-like bowtie and cloth suit tails. His accessory is a Christmas gift, I believe the one that houses the shrunken head in the film, only this time it’s filled with little circular snowflakes. The cubed box is the item to look for when figure hunting and should stick out like a sore thumb. Jack’s face looks great and overall it’s hard to find fault with this one. Lego could have gone with a unique head piece, but I think the standard one works just fine for the character. After all, part of the charm is seeing the characters converted into the Lego style.

Edna Mode

Serving as a compliment to last summer’s Incredibles 2 Lego sets is this version of Edna Mode. A previous one was available, but it was rather lackluster. This one uses the Lego child body and an oversized hair piece that features Edna’s glasses to really bring her look alive. She also comes with a pair of coffee mugs and what I assume is a purse. By virtue of the fact that she shares a base with the nephews, you’ll want to try and find that hair piece. It’s bowl-shaped and quite deep so you shouldn’t worry about confusing it for one of the caps included with the duck boys. Mostly, use process of elimination as the duck boy heads are easy to distinguish and the duck butt is as well. You shouldn’t worry about confusing her with the chipmunks as their legs can move and it’s rather easy to actually move them through the bag without fear of tearing it open. I’m not much of a fan of the Incredibles or this character, but she looks good for what Lego is shooting for.

Frozone

Lastly, we have Frozone. It was surprising to see him excluded from the Lego sets from last year, but I guess that’s because they were saving him for this wave. Frozone comes with two ice pieces that his hands can grip as well as a saucer meant to serve as one of his ice sleds, I suppose. That saucer is what will make him easy to find as it’s large and flat. Lego opted to screen print his cowl on rather than make it a separate piece and it works considering how tight his costume is supposed to fit. The little sled piece makes him fun to pose, and overall he’s a logical inclusion that looks great.

img_4021And that concludes series 2. Will there be a series 3? I sure hope so as Lego still owes us a Goofy. How he managed to avoid inclusion in this wave is beyond me since he really should have been in the first with the other Disney originals. Aside from him, Pluto would be wanted even if he was depicted as a mascot rather than a four-legged dog (maybe make him a unique figure for another Disney park set?!) and Lego has yet to tackle any of the inhabitants of the Hundred Acre Woods. The Disney Afternoon is also teeming with potential figures, the most-wanted likely being Darkwing Duck. And if Lego insists on reusing its Mickey head well there’s a whole bunch of other outfits to explore. In short, a wave 3 would be easy to fill out and is probably likely to sell as well as any other series of mini figures, if not better, so hopefully it happens. I’m not ready for it to end.


Lego 21317 – Steamboat Willie

img_3808It was just over a week ago I made a post wondering what happened to the Lego/Disney relationship. Sure, there have been some Duplo sets and the Lego Friends brand has featured some princess characters, but nothing major followed the 2016 release of mini figures and Cinderella’s Castle (based on the structure in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom). At the time, I thought those releases were just a start of things to come, but Lego has been content to just stick with movie tie-in sets for Disney owned properties like Avengers and The Incredibles.

Last year presented an opportunity for something special. On November 18, 2018 Disney celebrated 90 years of Mickey Mouse dating back to the release of his official debut cartoon Steamboat Willie (insert obligatory acknowledgement that the first Mickey cartoon was actually Plane Crazy). Steamboat Willie seemed like an obvious release for Lego given the occasion and the fact that it would be a fairly simple set:  a steamboat and re-releases of Mickey and Minnie. When November came and went without such a set, I was actually surprised and just assumed that Lego didn’t see the value in coordinating a release with Mickey’s 90th.

img_3823

The rear of the box.

Apparently, it was just an issue of timing. For whatever reason, Lego held off until April of 2019 to properly celebrate the 90th birthday of Mickey and Minnie as Steamboat Willie is now in brick form. And to top it off, Lego even announced a second wave of mini figures to follow in May (still no Goofy or Pluto though). Perhaps it was just an issue of not getting the legal side of things straightened out, not just with Disney, but also with the creator of the set, Máté Szabó. This one originated as a Lego Idea, meaning a fan created it and uploaded it to Lego’s creator website where other fans could choose to back it or not (there’s no monetary component for backers like there is with a crowd-funding site, it’s just a simple vote of support) and when it hit the required amount of votes it then went to Lego for final approval. This is how many sets have made it to retail and for Lego (this one is numbered #024, apparently it’s supposed to be #025 though) it’s practically free development as they’re under no obligation to produce anything, no matter how many votes it gets.

Steamboat Willie was likely an easy approval for the company since it’s a relatively modest set with a recognizable character owned by a company that Lego regularly does business with. It may have arrived a few months late, but I suppose that’s better than not arriving at all. And if one were to create a set celebrating 90 years of Mickey Mouse, is there really a set more appropriate than a recreation of the S.S. Willie?

There’s a good chance that Steamboat Willie is no one’s favorite Mickey Mouse short. It’s basically a show-off piece for 1928 for how sound could be integrated into a cartoon. That’s why a large section of the sub 8 minute runtime is just Minnie and Mickey playing music with farm animals aboard the ship. It’s not without its charms though and it’s probably almost shocking for new viewers to see Mickey chuck a potato at an obnoxious parrot since he’s so squeaky-clean by today’s standards.

img_3813

Sadly, there are no included potatoes for Mickey to hurl at the bird.

The classic steamboat makes for a nice visual when completed. It utilizes colored bricks in the construction, but once completed they’re all hidden preserving the black, white, and gray look. Some silver accents are used in the lettering which is a nice touch. It probably goes without saying, but this isn’t meant to actually float on water which is why it’s actually on wheels. As the set is pushed along a hard surface, the dual paddles spin and the smokestacks move up and done as they do in the cartoon. The mechanism for the smokestacks is essentially free-floating atop the axles so it’s not always a smooth motion and for mine the rear stack moves while the forward one does not. If I messed around with it I could probably get it to function better, but it’s not something I’m all that concerned with.

The build is simple and fairly painless. About the only thing I found annoying was clipping on the rear and the bow of the ship as it was hard to do without disturbing other pieces already in place. The paddles also weren’t a ton of fun, especially for someone like me recovering from a recnet hand injury. Still, it wasn’t a long build which is to be expected of a set with only 751 pieces in it. I spread it out over three nights as my 4-year-old likes to “help,” but I’d guess I could have put it together in just a couple of hours if I was prioritizing speed, though I often take a leisurely approach to Lego sets. It’s the journey, not the destination.

img_3810

The crane adds a bit of fun to the set.

The set features a working crane on the rear of the ship which also includes actual black thread. Threading it is not the most fun and takes me back to Home Ec class, but it’s hard to imagine it working much better if done differently. The crane can pick up blocks and there is a specified potato bin for just that, harkening back to the closing scene of the short. Other necessities include the bell and the trio of whistles atop the boat. Some of the noise-making equipment is present as well including a mallet, bucket, and a pair of pans clipped to the exterior of the cabin. The short includes many animals, but the only one included here is the parrot, who looks more like a standard bird. The goat does get a shout-out via Minnie’s sheet music brick which includes a graphic of the happy goat, a nice tough added by Lego graphic designer Crystal Bam Fontan.

Two mini figures are included with the set, and it’s probably no surprise to find out the figures are Mickey and Minnie. They’re both done in black, white, and silver to make them seem a touch “special.” Standard black and white versions are to follow in the mini figure wave in May. These are basically repaints of the other Mickey and Minnie figures from a few years ago only now Mickey has a captain’s hat that fits into a peg hole on his head and Minnie has her classic hat in place of a bow. Minnie does not feature her top from the short and her skirt is polka-dotted instead of plain. She comes with a ukulele which is a fun little piece that she’s able to hold with relative ease. There’s also a little Mickey head backdrop/platform included. It’s a simple and elegant touch and it can be propped up or placed flat on a surface for the characters to stand on.

This is a nice set, but this is also the part where we discuss what’s missing. The general look of the ship is preserved, though the construction cheats a bit. There’s no access for the cabin, both the lower and upper portions. No stairs, and the doors are intentionally blocked as the interior of the set was needed to house the guts of the smokestack mechanism. Mickey can fit into the bridge with the steering wheel, but it’s not easy and you’re better off removing the top first if you want to make him grip the wheel. Perhaps a hinged-top should have been included, but maybe that didn’t look right. I’m also a little disappointed there’s no Pete included, since we haven’t received a Pete figure yet. And like Minnie and Mickey, they could have slotted a repaint of him into the upcoming mini figure wave. I’m guessing he’s not here because the set wanted to celebrate Mickey and Minnie, but damnit, Pete has feelings to!

img_3822

The past meeting the present.

At a suggested retail price of $90, Steamboat Willie is a bit on the pricey side given the size of the set. Some extra cost is to be expected with anything Disney-related and I think the price is also meant to reflect that this is more of an adult, collector, piece than a toy. Sure, a kid would have some fun pushing this boat along and playing with the crane for a bit, but some parts are a touch fragile and really there are better boat sets out there if play is what you’re after. I have a fairly extensive Disney collection, so this set was a no-brainer for me. The $90 price tag is probably about the limit of what I would want to spend on such a set, and I’m mostly okay with it. Hopefully there are more fun Disney-related sets for Lego to consider and I expect something equally fun for when Donald Duck hits 90. He is the superior character, after all.

 


Disney and Lego – What Happened?!

lego logoNearly three years ago The Lego Company released just its third ever line of mini figures based on a licensed property. Following two waves of figures based on The Simpsons, Lego turned to an old friend:  Disney. The Disney wave of mini figures contained 18 characters that covered some of Disney’s classic characters like Mickey and Donald, as well as film stars and even a few Pixar characters. A few months later, the wave was supplemented with the unveiling of the massive Cinderella’s Castle from Walt Disney World. The 4,000 piece set was pricey, but also quite impressive. It, along with the other figures, now adorn the mantle over my front door declaring that my home is indeed a Disney home.

I thought we were in for more Disney from Lego, but following that the Disney brand went away. Given that The Simpsons received two waves and two construction sets, I assumed Disney would get the same treatment. Instead, Lego pivoted to showcasing its movies with mini figure waves based on The Lego Movie and The Lego Batman Movie along with waves of generic figures. Disney is an expensive brand, I assume, with characters that necessitate unique sculpts so I’m sure it’s pricier than a lot of other properties Lego could focus on, but I bet it’s also a big seller. Those Disney blind-bagged figures disappeared pretty fast from shelves wherever I saw them. The only place that seemed to maintain stock around me was a local comic shop that sold them for almost twice as much as The Lego Store or big box retailers. As for the castle, I have no idea how that did. It retailed for $350, but a lot of Disney enthusiasts are used to paying top dollar for anything Disney related. It’s still available at Lego’s webstore, so either it didn’t sell out or it’s still being produced. Aside from that, the only other readily available Disney products from Lego include Duplo, Lego Junior, and Lego Friends sets mostly based around Cars, Mickey, and the various Disney princesses.

lego cinderella

Pricey yes, but I would wager most who bought Lego’s take on Cinderella’s Castle from The Magic Kingdom were pretty happy with the end result.

Maybe Disney doesn’t perform as well for Lego as other properties. It would seem the company mostly caters to adolescent males with lots of Marvel and Star Wars sets. It’s possible that crowd looks down on Disney as being too kiddie or something. Whatever the reason, the lack of product feels like a mixed opportunity. Many characters were left out of that initial wave of mini figures and there are so many more landmarks and attractions from Disney parks that would look lovely in Lego form.

In terms of mini figures, the biggest omission from the first wave was Goofy. Goofy is one of Disney’s oldest characters along with Mickey and Minnie. Daisy Duck was likely included in that initial wave as a complement to Donald (and to reuse some of the duck parts), though Disney fans would certainly find Goofy more deserving of inclusion. The Mickey, Donald, and Goofy trio anchored many a cartoon short, and he would have been the most obvious inclusion in a wave two. In addition to Goofy, Pluto went missing as well. He’d look a little odd if done like a bipedal character, but Lego should have found a way to get him in even if it meant just doing a dog figure and single packing him. For The Simpsons, Lego made the pets accessories which also would have sufficed.

duplo goofy

If you want a Lego version of Goofy this is presently your best, and only, choice.

Goofy and Pluto are the only classic characters who went missing, but there were plenty of opportunities for complementary figures to what was released in the first series. Jafar would have made sense given the presence of Aladdin and Genie, and Woody and Jessie made sense given Buzz and the Alien were also included. Want more of The Incredibles? Elastigirl and the kids could have been featured and even Frozone. More classic movies could have also been explored. How about Pinocchio with Jiminy Cricket and Gepetto with Figaro and Cleo? The Beast would be a fun inclusion as would a pairing of Mowgli and Baloo. If they really wanted to go deep, while also reusing some sculpts, the Three Caballeros would certainly get my attention and another easy redo would be another Mickey but in his sorcerer’s attire or in black and white. Lastly, how about some Disney Afternoon figures? Scrooge McDuck, Launchpad, Darkwing Duck, the nephews – all would be welcomed and Lego really could have saved a few bucks if it released three separate figures for the nephews that are essentially just repaints of each other.

A second wave of mini figures would be easy to fill. If anything, there would likely still be characters missing, but things would feel more complete than they are now. As for new sets, oh there would be many contenders, but the most obvious is Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle. It would have to be relatively in-scale with Cinderella’s Castle so it would be a smaller set, and thus probably cheaper. The same loving detail would need to go into it though making sure the front of the structure is essentially picture-perfect with rooms around the back stuffed with nods to classic films. Given what was present in Cinderella’s Castle, this one could naturally spotlight other films. Aurora’s room would make sense and maybe a workshop resembling Gepetto’s. A bedroom with little beds in a nod to the Dwarfs’ cottage would be cute, though seven beds would probably be impossible. The only challenge would be not doubling-up on some of the references in the prior set, but that’s a nice problem to have. Cinderella’s Castle came with five mini figures, one of which (Tinker Belle) was exclusive. For this set, repaints of Mickey, Donald, Minnie and Goofy could be included with the exclusive being a dragon to resemble Maleficent.

spaceship earth

Disney’s secret best park would make for an attractive Lego set.

The most obvious set after that would be Spaceship Earth from Epcot. A version of which appears on the Lego Ideas site, but it doesn’t go far enough as a display piece (though I’m still backing it regardless). The designer attempted to build the actual ride, and in order to do so, didn’t create an outside for the spaceship similar to Lego’s take on the Death Star. I think to do it right, half of the set should be covered and textured like the actual Spaceship Earth, with the other hemisphere being uncovered to show the ride. That side could even be relatively flat as it would likely be impossible to make the ride truly resemble the real one. As for an exclusive character to include? None other than Epcot’s original mascot Figment, of course.

Spaceship Earth would be ambitious and probably as expensive as Cinderella’s castle. There are plenty of smaller exhibits from Disney parks that are just as iconic and popular with fans. Space Mountain is certainly unique looking and has been a park fixture for decades now. Splash Mountain would also be unique and fun and the characters associated with the ride would make for obvious mini figure tie-ins. Less ambitious, but no less iconic, would be Dumbo The Flying Elephant. Such a set would be small and probably quite cheap compared with the larger sets, but because of that and its status, it would probably sell quite well. The Haunted Mansion would be another fun one and would present an opportunity to possibly create mini figures based on The Nightmare Before Christmas since those characters are associated with the ride and are a lot better than the ghosts from that awful Eddie Murphy movie based on the attraction.

The only issue with embarking on such a path for Lego would be the demand for more. If they started making multiple sets based on attractions from Disneyland or the Magic Kingdom then fans would probably want more to essentially create a Lego version of the treasured parks. Imagine a Lego Main Street USA with the train station or the fire house with Walt Disney’s apartment over it. Disney enthusiasts would probably devote large portions of their homes to their displays as they layout the main entrance to the park leading to one of the castles in the center. Toon Town, The Matterhorn, The Mad Tea Party – these would be all things fans would suddenly want and Lego would be free to try and meet the demand, or not. Demand is a great problem to have for a manufacturer.

lego toy story 4

Well, at least we have Toy Story 4 sets to look forward to.

Lego and Disney obviously have a relationship and it certainly seems like it’s still pretty strong. It’s possible that Disney is hard to deal with when it comes to their classic characters and attractions. Maybe Disney made a lot of demands of Lego in regards to its take on Cinderella’s Castle. Square-Enix, makers of the Kingdom Hearts games, can certainly attest to how tough it can be to get Disney to approve things as it relates to its characters, Mickey in particular. And there is more Disney to come from the company, just no hint at anything like what I just laid out. Toy Story 4 sets will be arriving this spring which will include reissues of the Buzz Lightyear mini figure from 2016. He’ll be joined by Woody and others so fans who have the old mini figures will be able to at least add to them. And last year there were sets based on The Incredibles 2 so it was possible to add to them as well. Sadly, any sets based on Frozen 2 will likely be in the Lego Friends style, which is fine if that’s what you or your kids like, but they don’t pair all that well with traditional sets and mini figures. I suppose it’s always possible something like Sleeping Beauty Castle could be announced and maybe if there’s a break in Lego movie releases the opportunity for another Disney wave could present itself, but that seems unlikely at this point. For now, fans will have to try to supplement what they have with smaller releases related to new films while hoping something comes through the Lego Ideas contest and dream about what could have been.

UPDATE:  Of course, not long after this post went live Lego announced a new set that, while not from based on a Disney park, is in my wheelhouse:  Steamboat Willie. I considered taking this post in the direction of classic Disney shorts, but wanted to keep it focused on just Disney parks. A Steamboat Willie set is definitely something I’m interested in and I would love more sets based on classic shorts like “Mickey’s Trailer” or “Lonesome Ghosts.” I am guessing more won’t follow as Steamboat Willie is a tie-in with Mickey’s 90th birthday from last fall and that particular short is obviously quite famous and appropriate as a celebratory item. Where as the general public probably doesn’t care about a Mickey set featuring a camper.

UPDATE #2!:  Hot on the heels of the Steamboat Willie announcement comes the surprising announcement of Wave 2 for Disney minifigures! It contains some obvious inclusions like bagged releases of the black and white Minnie and Mickey that will be included with the steamboat. There’s also a Jafar as well as Uncle Scrooge and the nephews. They’re even doing princesses this time as Jasmine, Elsa, and Anna will see release too. Thankfully, they’re skipping out on Toy Story characters since they’ll be coming with the sets for Toy Story 4 this spring. Unfortunately, there is one rather large omission:  WHERE’S GOOFY?!


Boss Fight Studio’s Bucky O’Hare – A Wishlist for What’s Next

blinky bucky deadeyeIt’s been over two years since toy maker Boss Fight Studio announced it had acquired the Bucky O’Hare license from Continuity Comics and intended to do a new line of action figures based on the dormant property. It was about a year later that the first two figures arrived:  Bucky O’Hare and First Mate Jenny. Since then they’ve been joined by Dead-Eye Duck and the Storm Toad Trooper as well as variants of the heroes. Recently, the next figure in the line went up for pre-order in the form of Bruiser, the Beetlegeusian Berserker Baboon. He’s a big one, and as such he’s going to retail for more than the $35 that fans have grown accustomed to checking in at $55. Is he worth it? Impossible to say at this time since he’s not available, but Boss Fight’s Andrew Franks took to Twitter to rally Bucky fans to pre-order this sucker. This is a small property from a small company and it’s likely pre-orders are utilized to determine how viable a figure actually is. If they come in below a certain threshold then it’s possible the figure never goes into production. And if that were to happen with Bruiser what would that mean for the line as a whole? Does it end here with four figures? Does the company instead shift focus to smaller scale figures and continue the line ignoring all of the big guys?

img_3294

What are you waiting for?!

All good questions and questions I obviously cannot answer. Next month, Boss Fight Studio will be appearing at New York’s Toy Faire event for the first time. This feels like a big deal for the company and it’s assumed that Bruiser will be on display for public viewing for the first time beyond the pictures the company has shared online (and for the record, he looks pretty damn great). We’ll also likely find out the status of previously unveiled variants such as Stealth Dead-Eye and Aniverse Bucky. Boss Fight also hinted at more reveals which could be as exciting as a new character in the line, or perhaps new repaints (it feels like a given that the Storm Toad Trooper will receive at least one re-paint).

I have been tremendously pleased with this line, and while Bruiser isn’t the character I would have selected as the next in line, I’m excited for him as well. He won’t be arriving until the end of the year though, which means it’s quite likely he’ll be the only new figure added to this line in 2019. For my part, I’ve continued to support this line via the pre-order method even if it’s not the best decision for my wallet. Boss Fight charges up-front for pre-orders (you can also order from Big Bad Toy Store which does not) and doesn’t offer any kind of discount for doing so meaning savvy consumers benefit from waiting for an eventual sale or promotion of some kind. Since this property has such a small following, Boss Fight is in a position where it probably has to get as much as it can from the few hardcore fans out there that will buy almost anything Bucky related, since they’ve gone without for nearly 30 years.

bfs bruiser and bucky

He sure looks nice next to Bucky.

Naturally, as a huge fan of this property and this line, I want it to continue well past Bruiser. What Hasbro released alongside the animated series in the early 90s is a pretty solid approximation of the core characters and I’d like to see BFS get to all of them. There are also characters that Hasbro never got to that I would also love to see. I’m not sure what a realistic lifespan for this license truly is, and I’m almost certain I won’t get all that I want, but here’s hoping the best of the best get converted into plastic. Including Bruiser, the line currently contains 4 heroes and one villain with that one villain being generic army fodder. Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars is rather light on stand-out villains, but there are still more to be had. And given that current ratio, it’s no surprise that my next most-wanted figure comes from the ranks of the rogues:

al negator

That bright purple and neon gun is delightfully garish.

Al Negator

Al Negator is mostly a villain, though really he’s just a mercenary for hire. He loves money, a trait all sleazasaurs apparently possess (or maybe Dead-Eye is just racist) and he often finds himself in the employ of the Toads. He possesses a very 90’s look with neon green accents enhancing a very bright violet skin tone. The gold armor puts him over the top in the looks department as well. He’s also quite noticeably larger than most of the mammals, though hopefully not so much that he would necessitate the higher price point of Bruiser which is why I rank him ahead of someone like Toadborg. It’s my assumption that Boss Fight Studio would prefer its next figure in the line to fall into the $35 range so as not to give off the impression that $55 is the rate going forward.

blinky is small

If released, Blinky would easily be the smallest figure in the line.

A.F.C. Blinky

The resident android on board Bucky’s Righteous Indignation is A.F.C. Blinky, which stands for Android First Class. He’s an adorable looking little robot with a head that is basically just one giant eye. When he was released in Hasbro’s line, his coiled limbs had a bendy quality and I’m curious if BFS would attempt the same. Despite the lack of a face, he’s fairly expressive in the cartoon and comic and BFS would likely include different eyeplates to demonstrate that. He’d definitely be a small figure and actually the smallest in the line so there would be no need to worry about a higher price point. He’d also likely come with the same rocket pack the Hasbro toy featured, since that was also his mode of transportation in the video game. He’s just always been among my favorites from the show/comic, so naturally I want a new figure to add to what I have.

toad air marshall

The Toad Air Marshall was among the many cartoon villains totally incapable of performing his job properly.

Toad Air Marshall

He’s the signature bad guy and also one who gets a bad reputation since his peg-warmer status with the old Hasbro line is what is often cited as killing the line. It’s not his fault Hasbro didn’t know what it was doing in regards to case ratios back then, and for what it’s worth I think his old figure holds up quite well. It captured the look and personality of the character, even if the articulation was pretty dreadful. A newer version would likely reposition his head so it’s not on his chest. He’s very hunched over in Larry Hama’s artwork, but not to that drastic a level. He would also be a fun one for different faceplates as he often is sent into a rage. He would likely also be taller than only Blinky and would sit comfortably in the traditional price range.

img_3300

The Hasbro toy was based on the artwork on the left, while the artwork on the right appears to be Hama’s artwork updated to be more in-line with the look of the animated series.

Toadborg

Yes, I want Boss Fight to hit us with back to back villains. Following smaller scale figures in Blinky and Air Marshall with a Deluxe one in Toadborg feels like solid placement. And I suspect that the fan base would have more enthusiasm for Toadborg than it does Bruiser. No disrespect to Bruiser, but he’s no one’s favorite character and is often excluded from a lot of the supplemental media (he wasn’t even in the original comics, but then again, neither was Toadborg). Toadborg, on the other hand, is basically the Toad version of Darth Vader:  part toad, mostly machine. His old figure was pretty underwhelming, and I’m curious what a figure from BFS would look like. The original Hama artwork seemed to exclude the rather large, yellow, hunk of metal on his back the cartoon featured, but later versions of the art would see it included. I tend to prefer the Hama version of the characters to what ended up being adapted for television, but in the case of Toadborg I’d actually want BFS to lean more into the cartoon. And if his chest could open to reveal the remnants of the toad he once was inside, all the better!

mimi flight suit

Mimi feels like a fan-favorite deserving of her first ever action figure.

Mimi LaFloo

Yes, it’s at this point that I’d like to see Boss Fight stray from the Hasbro formula and give us someone all new. Now, most probably would expect Willy DuWitt here, and while I won’t argue against him being essential, he’s also not one of my favorites. Fans expect Willy, and they’ll want to complete Bucky’s team, so maybe preempting him with a new character is an easy way to create sales in a previously unreleased one in Mimi LaFloo. Mimi is the captain of The Screaming Mimi and she debuted in the animated series in the episode “Home, Swampy, Home” as a Bucky denier of sorts. He won her over when he helped free her and several other mammals from Toad captivity and she went on to pilot her own frigate. She feels like a bit of a fan-favorite to me, though that’s impossible to say, and this line could use another female character. Plus she’s way more interesting than Dogstar.

willy in trouble

Oh Willy, always needing rescue.

Willy DuWitt

Okay, now we can do Willy. I see no reason to stray from the Hasbro mold with him and he should come in his Bruce costume with a removable helmet. If it’s easier, his helmeted visage could just be another head. And hopefully BFS could do better than Hasbro where his glasses are concerned. He’d probably have to come with his squirt gun, but maybe BFS could also include his non-canon rifle that he assembled in the NES game.

rumblebee

The coolest member of Dogstar’s crew.

A.S.C. Rumblebee

One of the great teases to arise from the internet are the promotional images of Hasbro’s Wave 2 that never saw release. Rumblebee was to be a part of that wave, and he was my favorite design onboard the Indefatigable, the frigate captained by Commander Dogstar. Rumblebee would be a tricky design, as his bulbous rear could swing in-between his legs to create a canon. He’d be a fun one to design with some challenge, but I think BFS is up to task.

 

img_3303

Komplex is another design that varies greatly between mediums.

Komplex

Really the only major villain not released, Komplex would likely be another Deluxe figure in the $55 range or more. Since Komplex is largely relegated to television monitors, a figure would naturally include that as part of the Komplex-To-Go. He’s also another character that differed quite a bit from Hama’s initial designs. I’d largely want BFS to reference Hama’s art for the body, while including swappable “screens” that contain a Hama accurate depiction of Komplex’s “face” and an animated series version, assuming their license allows for that.

kamikaze kamo

What other toyline boasts ninja space ducks?

Kamikaze Kamo

Another figure slated for Hasbro’s second wave of action figures, Kamikaze Kamo is basically too fun to ignore. A four-armed, ninja, space, duck – who doesn’t want a figure like that?! Two of his arms are mechanical too, so you can tack on cyborg to that list of adjectives as well. He’d potentially be a cheaper figure to produce as some of Dead-Eye’s parts could be re-used. And maybe that’s a road BFS will need to travel down if it wants to produce more than one new character per year. And having a Kamikaze Kamo would lend itself well to another figure…

sly leezard

Apparently, he was to be called Iguana Don at one point.

Sly Leezard

Kamikaze Kamo’s nemesis is the evil Sly Leezard. A sorely needed additional bad guy who wold immediately pair well on a shelf with the ninja. He’s basically a samurai, except he has no code of honor, so he would be another sword-wielding character with a bright color-pallete like fellow reptile Al Negator.

 

If all of those figures were produced, that would put the line at 14 total figures, which feels like a reach at this point given the new output of one figure per year. Bruiser being the lone figure for 2019 doesn’t mean that’s how it’s always going to be, but do I really see this line lasting 10 or 12 years? Honestly no, but it would be pretty cool if it could. And of course I’d want it to continue beyond this group. There’s still the rest of the Indefatigable to consider like Dogstar and Pitstop Pete. There are also characters that never made it to the cartoon like the Omniscient Mouse and Rocket Rodent, who actually never appeared anywhere except in concept art. Would fans want characters that never appeared in the cartoon or even the comic in plastic form? Hard to say, but if the line actually got to the point where BFS was considering such characters then that means it was pretty successful.

Ultimately, I think in order for this line to really take off it’s going to need a boost from other media. Be it a new cartoon or revived comic, Bucky O’Hare could really use more exposure. I’ve been encouraged by the coverage I’ve seen for this line of toys on the web as it’s always positive. That likely helps lure in toy collectors not familiar with the property who just see some fun, well-designed, figures. It’s those casual collectors that may be less enthusiastic for $55 figures, but hopefully Bruiser does what Boss Fight Studio needs him to do and this line carries well beyond him.


Boss Fight Studio Storm Toad Trooper (Bucky O’Hare)

IMG_3148In case you haven’t noticed or do not frequent this blog, I have quite a passion for Christmas. As a kid, my enthusiasm was directed at the holiday thanks in large part to the toys and such. As an adult, that enthusiasm has been transferred more towards the season and the build-up to Christmas. I like to indulge in it, but once Christmas comes and goes it leaves me feeling rather blue. This year though, December 26 had a bright spot when a package from Boss Fight Studio arrived at my doorstep containing the latest from the toy maker’s Bucky O’Hare line – the Storm Toad Trooper.

Boss Fight Studio has designated the Storm Toad Trooper as figure number 7 of its Bucky O’Hare line, but due to the presence of variants in the line, it’s actually sculpt number 4. This gives BFS a release schedule of a tidy 2 new sculpts per year so far. For what is essentially a niche line that’s pretty reasonable. This isn’t Hasbro with a Marvel license, after all. Plus these suckers aren’t exactly cheap, so having time to save up is not a bad thing, especially for an army builder like this one. This figure represents the first villain of the wave, and as it is of the lowly trooper (described as “Laser Fodder” on the card) there is a temptation to buy more than one. Like the more popular Storm Troopers from the Star Wars universe, these bad boys are all bark and no bite. They couldn’t hit a moving target to save their life and are constantly brushed aside by the good guys of the series. And while they strike a mean pose, our heroes are likely only shaking in their boots when encountering a horde of them as opposed to one.

The Storm Toad Trooper stands a tick under 4.5″ and is about as tall as Jenny. He’s noticeably taller than Dead-Eye and Bucky (when ignoring his ears). As far as the source material goes, it’s a bit hard to say as the toads of the cartoon are often hunched over, but it looks about right. These figures, as far as I know, are done to the specifications laid out by series creator Larry Hama who had figures in mind when he originally designed them. The cartoon may have possibly used a slightly different scale, of that I don’t know, but it passes the eyeball test. Because these are to Hama’s designs, the Trooper is different in the area of color scheme with his animated counterpart. Those characters wore a blue suit, but these guys sport a black one like the blister card picture. They’re also more detailed as the show simplified some of the designs a bit for animation, a common practice. Just comparing him with the blister art and he looks pretty damn exact with the only difference I see being a tank on his rifle that isn’t present on the toy’s version.

As the principal grunt of the Toad army, the Storm Toad Trooper has a Hasbro equivalent from the old line. Despite his lowly status, it was one of my favorite toys from that line because of how much I enjoy the design of this character. He’s very expressive and has a fun, toon, look to his mouth and eyes. The dark green helmet that sits flush along the pale green skin of the head is just so pleasing to me. The green and black also works well together, and the gold and pink accents in the belt and eye lens really pop. I love the hot pink of the weapons too as it’s such an of its era touch and I’m happy no one decided to try and update the look with something more real world, or opt for the light blue occasionally used by the cartoon. Speaking purely on aesthetics, he might be my favorite of this line so far and that’s no small praise given the rest.

Moving beyond just the look of the figure reveals so much more. Boss Fight Studio made the helmet removable, which feels like a brave move given how flush it’s supposed to sit on the character, but it looks fantastic. You would have no idea it’s removable just by looking at it, but it’s relatively easy to pop off and it snaps back on in a very satisfying manner. Underneath the helmet is a detailed headsculpt with camouflage-like green spots. There’s a gap in the head for the helmet to snap into, so this isn’t a toy you would display without headgear, but given how well the helmet works I’m not sure if it would have made sense to try and accomplish this in another fashion. He comes with three additional hands to go along with the stock weapon-holding hands. Two open palms and a pointing finger, which feels fairly standard. His weapon outlay is a bit more robust as he comes with a rifle, pistol, and sickle-shaped bayonet. He can hold the bayonet like a weapon, or it can be attached to the rifle by removing a piece of the rifle’s stock, which I suppose could then double as a grenade. The weapons click into his belt nicely, and his hands are all easily removable which is an aspect of these figures that seems to be improving with each new figure. In addition to all of that, he also has a second head, which is a first for this line as the previous figures just had swappable face plates. The second head sports a different expression, though both could be described as angry and aggressive. There’s also a hat he can wear instead of the helmet.

The articulation and build quality is what consumers have come to expect from this line and Boss Fight Studio in general. All of the joints are affixed to plastic ball joints which make posing easy. The ball joints also practically ensure you won’t accidentally break your figure when posing, as they’ll simply pop off if too much force is placed upon them. I found this figure to be pretty free and easy right out of the box, which was nice as both Bucky and the standard version of Dead-Eye were not for me and required a breaking-in period. The odd shape of the shoulder “pads” this figure sports make his arm movements a bit more restricted than the other figures, but I haven’t found it really inhibitive. The legs have a bit less motion at the hips when compared with the others, but this guy’s gigantic feet still allow for some different posing options in spite of that as he’s so easy to stand.

IMG_3143

The second head didn’t like the helmet.

Nothing is perfect though, and I did find a few shortcomings with the Storm Toad Trooper, though nothing that would cause me to reconsider my purchasing decision for even a moment. For one, his rifle is oddly shaped and difficult to pose. I wish it had a handle behind the trigger, but this is how the gun was also supposed to look. I had to work at it a bit to get it to look okay, but I think the figure actually looks better with the pistol in hand instead and the rifle affixed to his back. The second head also gave me some trouble. I was never able to get the helmet to seat on it properly. It’s possible if I hit it with a hairdryer I’d have more success, but it wasn’t something I tried. The hat is also tough to get on as it doesn’t really click-in nicely like the helmet. With some effort though, I did get it to sit properly on the second head. As long as it fits on one I’m happy.

Like the other figures in this line, the Storm Toad Trooper retails for about $35. Knowing fans were likely going to want more, Boss Fight Studio offered an “army builder” two-pack for $65. It doesn’t feature any different packaging or anything (which I should add, the default packaging is awesome and resealable, a strong point for this line), it’s just an order for two figures, but the 5 dollar savings is a nice gesture on their part and it prompted me to buy two for myself. The inclusion of the hat and second head made it an easy call as it’s possible to display both figures I acquired while having them look different. I’ll stay at two for now, but I expect re-paints to come along eventually which could tempt me further. An obvious re-paint would be to make the figure blue and yellow to better reflect the cartoon while the Bucky O’Hare arcade game contained different color variations that would be more drastic and possibly more eye-catching. The animated series also featured the characters Frix and Frax, a pair of twins that wore Storm Toad Trooper uniforms but with an admiral-styled hat instead of a helmet. Such a variant would be more costly for BFS as it would require new heads, but it would be another opportunity for a two-pack as fans would want a figure for Frix and one for Frax. It’s likely something they’ve considered or will consider, though I don’t know if I would go so far as to say it’s likely.

The Storm Toad Trooper is an excellent addition to Boss Fight Studio’s Bucky O’Hare line. He looks great among the other figures and the addition of the hat and second head make buying two feel like a necessity. The build quality is excellent, and just like the other three figures it’s easy to make a case for this being the best one yet. I look forward to seeing what’s to follow for this figure in the form of variants and re-paints, as you know there’s at least one to follow. As for the line itself, Boss Fight Studio has already announced that the next figure will be Bruiser and he’ll be going up for pre-order in January. He’ll be the first figure to really bust the mold on this line as far as size goes as he’s much larger than the other characters. As such, Boss Fight Studio has already announced he’ll retail for more than the others, but the prototype they’ve shown off is something special to behold. They also teased another sculpt is pending approval by Continuity Comics so it looks like the company is on-track to maintain its output of two new sculpts per year and I can’t wait to see what’s next. In the meantime though, I’m quite happy with what I have and I’ll be looking to come up with some fun displays between now and then.