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All posts for the month January, 2015

Skullwing is a collaboration between artist Pushead, toy store Astro-Zombies, in Osaka and Japanese toy maker Secret Base. The head is based upon the Astro-Zombies store logo designed by Pushead and using the Secret Base Skull Brain figure’s body. First released in 2004, there have been a number of colourway’s and variants released over the years.

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Name: Skullwing (Rainy Day Edition)
Line: N/A
Manufacturer: Secret Base
Released: 2008
Price: Then: Unknown.  Now: 3,000 – 6,000 Yen, loose. 8,000 Yen minimum MISB.
Scale: 5
  Inches in height
Accessories: None

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I came to purchasing this particular figure during a late night hit up of Mandarke’s website, bundled in with a few other figures, I couldn’t help but not pass up purchasing this clear blue Skullwing, which marked my first purchase of a Secret Base product.

I was some-what familiar with  Skullwing, having visited Astro-Zombies store a few times at this point, however all the Skullwings seen there are ‘not for sale’.  Still, I wanted one for myself, but I was just looking for the right one to begin with as I didn’t want a massive collection of a character I wasn’t too crazy about, but still liked the look of.

I picked up this clear blue version as I’m a sucker for clear figures and the blue tones looked really nice.

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SCULPTING

The sculpting is one of the standouts for me. I really love the head design the most, it’s a pretty cool design and the wings coming off the top of the head look pretty sick! the rest of the body is quite nice too, but it’s a little too smooth in some places when compared with the head for my liking. However there is still a lot of nice detail on the body and arms. It’s a very simple design overall, but it still looks great.

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PAINT

The paint appears to be applied with airbrush and by hand. It is quite neatly applied, but used sparingly as most of the figure is translucent blue vinyl. There’s also the Astro-Zombies logo on the trunks as well.  I love the clear blue vinyl that the figure has been cast in, it’s a great tone and really pops for me.

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ARTICULATION

Skullwing has the standard amount of articulation for a smaller size sofubi. The head and shoulders can be rotated 360 degrees . If you have bought any kind of smaller Japanese designer toy this is not a surprising amount of articulation, but it’s better then nothing. You can still get a few good poses out of Skullwing, but like most of these figures you are really stretching it to get anything you would expect from a normal action figure. Most of these figures are just meant to be appreciated visually and the articulation is just a bonus.

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ACCESSORIES

Unfortunately Skullwing doesn’t come with anything else besides the figure itself.

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POTENTIAL PROBLEMS

Nothing to worry about here. Skullwing is quite well made and I can’t find any issues with mine.

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PRICE

I paid 8,000 Yen for mine, still in an unopened bag, from Mandarake. At first I thought the price might have been a little high for a figure I wasn’t familiar with, but upon receiving it in the mail, the size of the figure really surprised me and made me not feel too bad about the price. It really depends on how much you value having a MISB figure over a loose one, but obviously loose ones will be cheaper.

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OVERALL

I like Skullwing a lot, it’s a pretty neat figure, that fits in well with my overall Japanese Sofubi collection, at the moment I don’t think it will kick off a Astro-Zombies/Secret Base buying craze, thankfully. But I am quite happy with my purchase. I would recommend Skullwing as a nice entry point for anyone who is curious about Sofubi or looking to expand their collection, but wanting to take baby steps about it first.

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Terminator 2: Judgement Day was the block-buster sequel to the original Terminator movie. Where not one, but two Terminators are sent back in time: one to protect a young John Connor and one to terminate him. Arnold Schwarzenegger reprises his role as the T-800 reprogrammed to protect; in one of the most iconic Sci-Fi/Action movies of the 1990s, if not all time.

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Name: T-800 (Battle Damaged Version)
Line: DX
Product Code: DX13
Manufacturer: Hot Toys
Released: 2013
Price: Then: $280. Now: $360 MISB Minimum.
Scale: 1/6
Accessories: Various hands and weapons as well as T-1000 display piece.

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Hot Toys have released a number of Terminator collectibles, with some of their first Movie Masterpiece releases being Terminator figures. They have covered characters from each of the first two Terminator films and Terminator Salvation. One of the most fan requested was the T-800 from T2 as it looked at the very end of the movie: Battle Damaged. Ever since the first MMS Terminator 2 T-800, fans have been asking for this figure. Finally, Hot Toys have delivered with their DX13 T-800.

The reason why I have been so late in getting to my review of this figure is simple: I could not decide if I wanted it in my collection or not, I pre-ordered one and received it when it was originally released, decided I didn’t want it, sold it.

Bought another one from Mandarake a few months later, decided once again I didn’t want it and sold it.

Finally, this year I decided to be true to myself and focus my Hot Toys collection more on the figures I love, namely Terminator and other 80s/90s movies, therefore I needed DX13. I was lucky enough to get one off Yahoo Auctions Japan MISB for $270 AUD as well as the spare clothes to make the second one (I already had the spare body at home) and had it shipped to me while I was in Tokyo. First thing I did after unpacking when I got back to Australia, was assemble the Terminator as both versions: some-what battle damaged and really battle damaged.

So after having this figure for a few weeks now and having previously owned it on two separate occasions, have my thoughts on it changed much? Let’s find out!

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LIST OF PARTS
Inside the box you get the following items:
One T-800 Terminator figure
Eight interchangeable hands
Two head sculpts
Two leather jackets
One damaged grenade launcher
One pistol
One machine gun
One bandolier
Twelve Grenades
One rod
One T-1000 Statue
One display stand

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SCULPTING
The two heads that come with DX13 are excellent! They aren’t perfect, but are some of the best Arnold sculpts we have ever gotten from HT. However, the heads appear a little big and that could just be because they had to fit PERS and a light up feature in the head(s). The only problem I have with the head sculpt is Arnold looks a little too pouty around the lips, so the portraits border a little on caricature, but otherwise great and it is definitely Schwarzenegger at every angle!
The torso is also newly sculpted to show the damage done to the T-800’s chest. We lose the torso articulation just under the pectorals, but it doesn’t matter too much as the new body looks fantastic and more than makes up for it.

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PAINT
Hot Toys always impress with their paint applications and this time they’ve done an excellent job! Especially on the damaged and bloody parts of the figure, they look great when compared to the source material, the skin tones, as the norm for Ht figures, are amazing.

The only negative I have with the paint is the “stubble” affect on the face with all the heads I’ve seen it can sometimes comes a bit too dark; it’s hard to tell from these photos, but it looks like the T-800 has 5 o’clock shadow and a number of photos online and figures I’ve seen in person all have this same problem, it bugs me a bit.

the DX10 had an issue with an over pronounced stubble mustache, but they really pushed it a bit too much here, they’ve toned it down for the T1 Battle Damaged Terminator, but it’s something Hot Toys really need to address, when the Terminator, in the bulk of his scenes looks clean shaven, please don’t go giving him a “stubble” effect just because it’s more realistic HT!

It seems like I’m the only one, who has noticed this problem, but it really bothers me, the two heads I’ve got, it isn’t too bad, but it can be worse or the same depending on who painted the figure at the factory, they got it right with the MMS and Tech Noir T1 I really hope HT can stay away from copying Enterbay on this matter!

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ARTICULATION
The articulation is almost the same as the DX10 body, (or “Arnold” Body if you will) Ball-jointed neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, double jointed elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, swivel/hinge waist, swivel/hinge groin, double jointed knees and ball-jointed ankles. Hot toys do a great job with their bodies for their figures and this one is no exception. All the terminator type poses you want to put the T-800 in you can and it will look realistic and “hang” naturally. The boots and chest do restrict the posing a little, but not enough to ruin any enjoyment of this figure. Considering most poses involve the Terminator standing there and pointing a gun, achieving these poses isn’t a problem.

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OUTFIT

Hot Toys really impress with the outfit as well, the ripped up and dirty grey T-Shirt looks great and the damage on both jackets look amazing too. Even the pants are impressive with the rips and tears made to the “leather”. The outfit isn’t real leather like the DX10, it’s the same material as the MMS release, however they have really improved the fit and quality of the jacket in between releases.
The weathering is fantastic and adds to the awesomeness of the figure, HT have outdone themselves here.

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ACCESSORIES
You get a number of great accessories with DX13, pretty much all of weapons as used by the T-800 at the end of the movie and one massive accessory being the t-1000 statue that can be used when posing the T-800. I really think the T-1000 statue, while cool, is a bit of a waste of space. It’s not something I would want to display with my DX13 when I already have a few T-1000s already, which look a lot cooler next to DX13.

The weapons are up to the usual standard from HT and as expected all look great! We are given 12 grenade rounds for the bandolier even though Arnold doesn’t have that many by that part of the film, it’s still nice to have them.

We are also given the typical over-sized DX base, anyone who knows me, knows my thoughts on these bases are this: I don’t like them and prefer the smaller classic style bases from HT. In fact for my DX13s on display I’m using the MMS display bases instead. They are just that much nicer in my opinion.

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POTENTIAL PROBLEMS
Nothing really to worry about, I think Hot Toys have the PERS figured out quite well by now, I don’t think it will break as easy as the DX01 used to (not that I’m trying to break it when I use it!). However still be careful when using PERS and don’t forget to read the instructions that come with the figure.

Also be careful if you are changing the arms over on your figure, the arm joint is a lot smaller to accommodate the destroyed arm, make sure you use a hair dryer to soften the arm components so they change over as easy as possible, you don’t want to break that smaller joint.

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PRICE
I paid a really good price for my DX13, considering people are asking much more for it, $270 AUD is a steal. If you are able to find one at a good price, then go for it. Just try not to pay over $400 AUD for one as they can still be found for good prices if you know where to look!

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OVERALL
Even after not really being sure if I wanted this figure in my collection or not, now after making a firm decision and welcoming it back in the fold, I am happy to say it is very deserving of the DX title. It’s not perfect, but it is one of the best Terminator figures released and in my mind even tops Enterbay’s ¼ scale Terminator, mainly due to the sheer amount of display options and ability to have multiple figures from just one set. If you are a Terminator fan, you must have this figure. If you are a Hot Toys fan it’s definitely worth picking up for its excellent craftsmanship of an iconic character.

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Luigi is the taller, lankier plumber who is the brother of Mario, from the Super Mario game series, not to mention numerous spin offs and other media. Always playing second fiddle to Mario in his adventures, (he is P2 by default after all!) Luigi is often depicted as more cowardly then his heroic brother. Much like Mario, Luigi has never received a true action figure, only statues or vinyl figures with limited articulation. Finally Bandai steps up to the plate to bring us the second release in their Mario series, the most natural choice, being Luigi.

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Name: Liugi
Line: S.H.Figarts Super Mario
Manufacturer: Bandai
Released: 2014
Price: Then: 2500 YEN.  Now: depends on place of purchase – at least $30 MISB
Scale:
4.5  Inches in height
Accessories: One red shell, one brick box, one pair of holding hands and one display stand.

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Once again I happened to be back in Japan during December and as luck would have it, Bandai’s S H Figuarts Luigi happened to be released when I was there, obviously not as much of a build up as Mario for this release, but still plenty of great store displays featuring now both brothers!

If you happened to check out Bandai’s Showcase in Akiharbara (near McDonalds right under Akiharbara Station) you would know that Yoshi was soon to follow with a black Yoshi-shaped out line teased at that display. (Not to mention the same black outline included in all Luigi instruction booklets.)

So of course I was going to pick up a Luigi figure, no way I would pass up once again picking up a wanted figure at the time of its release, for a great price!

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SCULPTING

Once again Bandai has done a great job with the sculpting, just like Mario it’s like Luigi has walked right off the TV Screen and into our hands, based of the most recent games look and style (Super Mario Bros WII or the most recent Super Smash Bros, for example), I can’t fault the sculpting at all, it looks great!

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PAINT

Following Mario’s lead Luigi is cast in the bulk of the colours he is meant to be. This is a big plus in my book and it’s my preferred way to make a toy or figure. There is some great work on the eyes and the paint on the buttons and shoes is very neat. Same thing applies with the accessories too: very neat and tidy paint applications.

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ARTICULATION

Luigi features about the same articulation as Mario’s joints which are swivel/hinge style joints with a couple of ball joints thrown in for good measure. Luigi’s articulation is as follows: Ball joint/swivel head, swivel/hinge shoulders, hinge elbows, swivel hands, swivel/hinge groin, hinge knees, ball jointed feet. Just like Mario it’s a good realistic range of motion and works well for Luigi. You can get all the poses you would want out of him and the stand helps a lot too.

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ACCESSORIES

Luigi comes with a bit more in the way of accessories then Mario; you get everything I feel should have come with Mario to begin with, like the extra hands and a turtle shell. The stand out for me is the display stand included with Luigi, it’s great and provides a number of posing opportunities for the figure.

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POTENTIAL PROBLEMS

Like with the previous Mario figure, this is a well made toy and there aren’t many faults, if any. Although some of the plastic does feel a little brittle it is still a solid toy. Just make sure you don’t lose any of the smaller parts!

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PRICE

I paid retail price for Luigi, that was around 2,500 -3,000 YEN and of course no shipping costs, because I lugged him back in my suitcase. It’s a great price and if you can get it for around that you are doing well.

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OVERALL

Luigi is another strong example of how Bandai are creating an excellent Super Mario Bros toyline. With Yoshi announced, I feel this line can only go from strength to strength and I hope in the near future we get other Nintendo characters as well, beyond just the Mario Bros series. It’s definitely worth picking up Luigi if you already have Mario. He’s a great addition to an already growing collection of awesome Mario figures.

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The Terminator is one of my all time favorite films and I always loved the idea of the battle against man and machine set in the post-apocalyptic future of 2029. The infiltration unit has always captured my imagination, even though we don’t see much of this character in the original movie, it was still a very cool scene where it attacks the resistance fighter’s underground bunker .

Last year I kit-bashed a Terminator figure based on how the character looked in the video game Terminator The Redemption and I have also created my own take on the T-800 as an infiltration unit, in 2029.

I’m expanding upon that concept some more by creating an infiltration unit that combines elements from both these kit-bashes, only this one has seen a lot more action then the other two and is pretty much covered in extreme battle damage. It uses the battle damaged head that comes with the recently released T-800 Battle Damaged version – easily one of my favorite Terminator head sculpts and the DX13 body, with a custom endoskeleton arm, modified by me.

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