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All posts for the month March, 2017

Asuka is the current reigning NXT women’s champion and the longest reigning singles champion in NXT history, male or female. Before signing with WWE she had a long career wrestling for numerous Japanese female wrestling promotions. And like most Japanese wrestlers her wrestling style is considered to be ‘stiff’ as she incorporates many kicks and submission holds into her repertoire of signature moves.   

 

Name: Asuka
Line: WWE Elite Collection 47
Manufacturer: Mattel
Released:
2016
Price: $15.99
Scale: Roughly 15 CM in height
Accessories: Asuka Mask, Diorama display part

When NXT was here recently touring in Australia one of the wrestlers I really wanted to see wrestle live was Asuka. Thankfully for me, she was announced as one of the wrestlers to be on the card.

It was a pretty good match, probably one of the better ones on the card, the crowd was really involved too and that really helped the atmosphere, even if I don’t regularly watch NXT it was still a pretty fun show, even if the WWE’s events have been a bit below par when compared to WCW when they were out here, many, many years ago.

Having seen Asuka wrestle live, it reminded me I still hadn’t ordered her figure yet, even although I had intended to do so. So I promptly got on it, however, that order didn’t turn up until January so no Asuka on my best of list, because I’m pretty sure she would have easily beaten out Emma.

SCULPTING

When Mattel announced this figure and the prototype images were shown it was a bit of a surprise to see that Mattel would be making a whole new body just for Asuka as sometimes Mattel cut corners when it comes to the finished product. However they can sometimes really go all out and do what needs to be done.

That is definitely the case here. The body matches Asuka’s proportions perfectly is also a good match to what I would say is your normal athletic female Japanese body in general too. Mattel did not cut any corners here.

The head sculpt is a good match for the character as well, it’s got that grin that Asuka tends to sport during matches, I’d like to see a neutral expression at some point in the near future as well. Also, Asuka is a bit shorter than you normal female wrestling figure too.

PAINT

Mattel normally do a pretty good job with their paint applications in my book. I’d say they have done an exceptional effort with Asuka’s outfit as it features a lot of tassels and multi coloured fabrics, and I guess in more general terms Asuka’s costume is what you generally think of when you think of Japanese female wrestlers.

ARTICULATION

Asuka has the following articulation: Ball jointed head, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, hinge elbow, swivel wrist, ball joint chest, swivel waist, swivel/hinge hips, swivel thighs, hinge knees, swivel shin and rocker ankle joints.

That’s pretty much the standard amount of articulation for a female wrestling figure from Mattel and it is quite a lot of articulation that also doesn’t look too ugly either. I just wish the arms came in a little closer to the body, but that’s about it.

you can get Asuka into a good number of poses and wrestling moves, but ultimately for this figure, the articulation does take a little bit of a back seat to the new body sculpt.

ACCESSORIES

Asuka comes with the mask she wears during her entrance and  part of a larger diorama display that you can put together by buying other wrestlers from the same series. The mask fits on Asuka’s face snug and looks good.

The diorama (not pictured) I don’t really care for. It would be nice if Asuka came with her entrance robe too, but those type of additional accessories are more for Defining Moments figures.

POTENTIAL PROBLEMS

Not really any I can think of, Mattel makes a really good product, quality control wise 95% of the time. I have no complaints with Asuka.

PRICE

I paid $15.99 USD for Asuka from Ringside Collectibles and I’m happy with that. As always, when ordering from Ringside I bundled Asuka in with a number of other figures to save on shipping costs.

OVERALL

This is a great first figure of Asuka from Mattel, the paint application overall is excellent the new body made just for Asuka is amazing and the head sculpt captures the character very well!

It will be interesting to see what Mattel do with any new releases of Asuka figures, but I imagine we’ll see a few soon enough as you just don’t make a whole new body and just use it once!

I’ll definitely be interested in picking up more Asuka figures in the future and if you are a fan of her and you should have this figure in your collection, it’s just too good to pass up!

 

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Kenner’s line of ‘Aliens’ Space Marine toys was fairly short lived. After only 1 & 1/2 series of figures, the Marines were dumped in favor of Predators instead to do battle with the Aliens. What marines we did get however were quite cool and in most cases had action features to add more play value. Corporal Hicks, a fan favorite character that appeared in the Aliens film franchise, also received a figure in this toyline.

Name: Corporal Hicks
Line: Aliens
Manufacturer: Kenner
Released: 1992
Price: Then: $10-$16.  Now: $10 – $26 MOSC or less if loose
Scale: 4 -5 Inches in height
Accessories: Rocket Launcher, Claw, Two Alienator Missiles  

I really can’t remember why my brother and I decided to collect the Kenner Aliens toys when we were kids – being a toyline based off an MA 15+ series of movies – but they did look cool. The Alien designs were nice and there were a variety of figures.

But you can’t just have Aliens… You need Marines as well! Regardless of what collectors at the time and collectors now think of this toyline, I still like what Kenner did with about 90% of the figures they made.

Hicks was the one figure we would never see at the store, besides the Panther Alien, maybe they were short packed? So neither I nor my brother owned him when the toyline was originally released.

It wasn’t until later in life where my brother finally picked one up. (He is the bigger fan of Corporal Hicks out of the two of us, even if I think he’s pretty cool in general, I always preferred Hudson over Hicks.)

SCULPTING

For the most part, I’d like to think Kenner did a good job of taking the source material and putting their own spin on it. Apparently, there was going to be a cartoon to tie in with the toys so that would make sense changing the characters a bit. I think Corporal Hicks looks pretty good, It’s a passing likeness and he’s not an accurate match to the Aliens movie, but ticks a lot of the boxes of what you’d expect from a Corporal Hicks figure in my opinion for the time period.

PAINT

Generally, the paint on Kenner’s products was always to a fairly high standard. The paint application on this particular Hicks is quite good, no bleed, no slop. The quality of the older toys sometimes puts a lot of newer companies to shame. Plenty of greens and blacks make up Hick’s uniform the tan looks a little out of place but the gold/silver mixture looks excellent.

ARTICULATION

Hicks has the typical amount of articulation for a toy of this time period, Swivel everything! Swivel head, swivel shoulders, swivel waist, and swivel hips. You can move his joints but you can’t really do a lot with him besides simple poses. It’s decent articulation, but nothing to write home about.

ACCESSORIES

Hicks comes with a rocket launcher, Some kind of Claw/gun arm weapon and two missiles for the rocket launcher. The firing action on the rocket launcher is quite good the claw/gun arm is a bit miss-placed it just clips on his arm and that’s it. It would have been cooler if he came with a Pulse Rifle like Vazquez did, as I think that would be a more appropriate weapon for the character.

POTENTIAL PROBLEMS

None that I can think of;  Corporal Hicks is rock solid. What would you expect from an early 1990’s toy?  Just make sure your one has a good paint job before you buy it.

PRICE

I was happy with the $10 + shipping costs; however, I wouldn’t pay too much for this figure, as he is not worth any large amount of money.

OVERALL

The Corporal Hicks figure lacks the fun action feature many of the other Aliens Space Marines have, but it’s made up for with a missile firing rocket launcher, this doesn’t make the figure as great to play with as Ripley or Drake, for example. Hicks is still an important character in the Aliens universe and this is his first real toy/collectible figure made of him, it’s worth picking him up, if you are a Kenner completist of their Aliens line or if you like Corporal Hicks in general.

 

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Alien 3 was released for the Sega Megadrive in 1992 by Arena Entertainment and developed by Probe Software. It was a side-scrolling shoot ’em up based on the Alien 3 movie. You play as Ripley and have to save the prisoners on Fury 161 from becoming hosts for more aliens and then escape the planet.  

Title: Alien 3
System: Sega Megadrive
Publisher: Arena Entertainment
Developer: Probe Software
Released: 1992
Genre(s): Side-scrolling Shoot ’em up

The funny thing about this game is instead of just one alien in the game there are many as well as larger Guardian Aliens (that serve as boss battles) and facehuggers too. So, it’s a lot like they combined Aliens and Alien 3 together as Ripley also has a number of weapons to use too (Pulse rifle, flame thrower etc) and presumably hasn’t been impregnated by an alien herself either.

Throughout each level, there are a number of ammo and health pick-ups as you go through both quite quickly if you aren’t careful. Each level also has a timer which counts down and you have to free all the prisoners and exit the level before it runs out.

You get a few different difficulty levels (easy, normal, hard) and up to nine tires to finish the game. There is no password system so you have to finish the game in one sitting unless using an emulator to save your progress.

PRESENTATION

As soon as you start up the game it matches the Alien 3 movie tone quite well. Even if there is no elaborate intro, it replicates the feel of the movie decently. There are a few options to play with difficulty settings and the amount of continues can be set too.

GRAPHICS

The graphics are quite large and the overall tone matches the gloomy, dark themes of the film quite nicely. The Animation of the sprites is top notch! There is also a good amount of visual difference between each different level tile set and the sprites for the aliens are a particular standout for me.

SOUND

All the sound effects in the game are clear and crisp. The music is quite good too, I never found it too repetitive because the levels are fairly short, but I don’t know if it successfully matches what you would expect from Alien 3, if this was an Aliens game, it would be great!

RESPONSIVENESS

Obviously, if you are playing this game on emulator the controls are going to be a lot more responsive than using a gamepad on a Sega Megadrive. However, I still didn’t find too much of a delay, jumping was fine, moving around was fine, sometimes using a ladder, in the air ducts was a bit clunky (even on emulator). There is a small delay depending on which weapon you use, for example, the grenade launcher takes a brief moment to fire so you have to keep that in mind etc.

LASTABILITY

If you are really committed, you could finish the game in half a day, as long as you remember where each prisoner is hiding it’s pretty easily finished without too much trouble. It’s still a fun game even if it gets a bit repetitive in the middle, there are a couple of levels where you just have to reach the exit or just free the prisoners that break up the running and gunning a little bit as well. If you beat this game once, I don’t think there would be a rush to go back and do it again.

OVERALL

Alien 3 is a great example of a fun ‘run and gun’ title for the Sega Megadrive, it’s also a good example of how to effectively use a movie license. Even if it’s more similar to the previous movie then the one it’s meant to be based on! The game has great graphics and soundtrack plus the gameplay is enjoyable too. I feel the level design is varied enough not to get too repetitive and the different sections of each level, like air ducts to crawl through and moving platforms, help keep the gameplay fresh. The best out of the Alien 3 series of games for Sega and Nintendo and one of the more decent games based on the Alien franchise.

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The Japanese character mascot Kumamon, was created by the government of Kumamoto Prefecture in 2010 to increase tourism, it’s popularity exploded in 2011 and he started appearing everywhere. Kumamon’s personality is described as cute and naughty.

 

Name: Kumamon Bear
Line: Ptimo, N0.2
Manufacturer: Fujimi
Released:
2016
Price: 1,275 YEN
Scale: 5.5 inches in height
Accessories: Various eye and mouth parts


On my most recent visit to Japan, I naturally decided to check out my local LaLa Port and the hobby store contained within. Sometimes when I go to this store I get lucky and find a bargain or two or even sometimes a rarish toy for a decent price.

This particular visit I stumbled across the Kumamon Bear model kit in the “case shop” section of the store. (In case you’re not familiar with the concept of a case shop, it’s a clear glass box you rent to sell your toys and other collectible items – they are in most main shopping areas, Nakano, Akihabara etc.)

Of course knowing Japan as only as I do, I knew that if I really wanted to buy this Kumamon figure, I’d better do it right away because if I didn’t, there’d be a chance that if I went back for it, it might be gone.

Only once did that work for me and that was for a Hot Toys 1/4 scale T-800 Endoskeleton ( I was just glad it was still there, considering the good price it was at!)

The figure now in my possession, I was quite happy with myself as it is a pretty decent representation of a Japanese mascot character.

like other Japanese mascot characters you might be familiar with (Gatchapin, Chiba Kun and  Funassyi to name a few) it can be hard to find a toy or figure that represents the character very well that isn’t a plush toy. So when I do find one, I’ll naturally buy it straight away.

SCULPTING

For a 2D drawing turned into a 3D figure Kumamon looks great! He’s a very simple design so there’s not too much in the way of detail. Only thing to be a where of, is that there may be imperfections on the surface of the figure due to the plastic it’s made of. If this model kit is missing anything it’s the option to have proper feet to have him sitting down properly.

PAINT

There’s no paint at all. It’s either cast in the colour it’s meant to be or it’s a sticker you have to put on yourself.

ARTICULATION

Kumamon Bear has the following articulation: Swivel head, ball-jointed shoulders, ball-jointed hips and ball-jointed ankles. It’s a good amount of articulation considering the design of the character. You can get him in a number of decent poses and he balances quite well too.

ACCESSORIES

Kumamon Bear comes with a variety of different eyes and mouth pieces so you have a number of options for different facial expressions. The parts included cover all the standard Kumamon expressions and it’s nice to be able to change the face whenever you feel like it. However, it can be a little tedious to do so, you need to take apart the head every time you want to change the pieces out and poking each piece out of the head can be a bit fiddly.

POTENTIAL PROBLEMS

None that I can really think of, besides making sure you don’t loose any of those spare parts.

PRICE

I paid 1000 YEN for my Kumamon bear, he was loose and already assembled and for that price I’m very happy with the figure and the accessories, plus I didn’t have to do the hard work of putting him together either!

OVERALL

I think this is a pretty great representation of the Kumamon Bear character mascot. It’s a decent size and has a good amount of accessories, even if you do have to put it together yourself. Definitely recommended if you like Japanese character mascot toys and in particular Kumamon Bear!

 

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The AT-AT Driver are the pilots of the Imperial Forces AT-AT Walkers first seen in The Empire Strikes Back during the battle of Hoth. Working in teams of two they control the AT-AT Walkers driving and firing controls. Their uniforms are designed to protect them in harsh frozen climates if they are forced to abandon the AT-AT Walkers during combat.

 

Name: AT-AT Driver/Pilot
Line: Star Wars Black Series
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Released:
2016
Price: $19.99 USD
Scale:  6 inches in height
Accessories: E-11 Blaster Pistol

This is pretty much my first and only Star Wars Black Series purchase so far, I did dip my toe in ever so slightly a few years back and picked up Greedo which I had for a little while, before selling off, but I never took him out of the box and had a good look at him properly. So when Hasbro finally announced the AT-AT Driver I was looking forward to owning the figure and promptly placed my pre-order with BBTS.

The figure was released late December last year and I had my pile-of-loot shipped in January so he didn’t make the cut in my “best of” list. This was still one of the figures I was hoping that Hasbro would include in their Black Series of 6″ toys and I’m glad to have finally got my hands on him.

SCULPTING

I’m no Star Wars expert when it comes to Imperial armour and the tiny nuances when comparing what’s on the screen to toys and figures. But to me, this looks like a pretty good effort from Hasbro and looks quite good when compared to say the 3.65 AT-At Driver with the removable helmet. (That figure’s helmet looks horrible FYI) I think the proportions look about right and there’s plenty of nice details all over the figure. Plenty of creases on the clothes and nice smooth surfaces for the armour.

The Helmet itself is definitely the standout and that life support chest piece is a close second. (Seeing these are the main components of the AT-AT Driver armour in my opinion, I’m glad they’ve nailed them.) The only thing I don’t like is where the chest armour meets the hips as it cinches in and makes the AT-AT Driver look like he’s got some voluptuous proportions and once you notice it, it can’t be unseen, that’s for sure.

 

PAINT

There’s not too much paint on the AT-AT Driver. It’s mainly used for little details like the life support system on the chest or on the helmet. Overall I’d say it’s generally nice and neat, however, there are some stray spots on other parts of the figure. I really think the paint does a nice job of bringing out the details on that chest piece.  I’d say the paint application is up to Hasbro’s usual standard (say when compared with the Marvel Legends I have for example.)

ARTICULATION

The AT-AT Driver has the following articulation: Ball-joint/swivel head, hinge/swivel shoulders, hinge/swivel elbows, hinge/swivel wrists, ball-joint waist, hinge/swivel hips, swivel thighs, double-jointed knees and hinge/swivel ankles which can pivot as well.

All in all, it’s a good amount of articulation and one of the highlights of the Black Series from the beginning. You can get the AT-AT Driver into plenty of poses without too much trouble, even if the hoses that are attached to the helmet and chest armour make the head a bit hard to move around too much and the strap/loop things on his legs affect the articulation there too.

I enjoyed playing with him while taking the photos this is a pretty fun figure to play with and to pose.

ACCESSORIES

The AT-AT Driver comes with the ever present E-11 Blaster Pistol that almost every Imperial trooper and pilot tends to come with. Just like the smaller 3.65 Inch figures, the blaster is a bit warped right out of the package. Besides this common issue, it looks good and fits into the AT-AT Driver gun holding hand with little-to-no difficulty and is a snug fit.

Child Birthing Hips You Say?!?!?

 

POTENTIAL PROBLEMS

None I can think of, besides the minor nitpicks mentioned above.

PRICE

I paid $19.99 USD for the figure from BBTS and I’m quite happy with that. I’m assuming that’s around the normal retail price and for the quality of the figure not too cheap, but not too expensive either. I don’t tend to buy many figures in person these days after all when the Internet is so convenient.

OVERALL

I’m not going to be buying every figure released in the Black Series, I’m going to be very selective with what characters I buy, so my collection at the moment is very small (just the AT-AT Driver right now). Much like my Marvel Legends purchases, it will just be my favorite characters. With that said, I’m very impressed with this figure, it’s a very strong effort from Hasbro and the price point is great too. I’m assuming you’d have to be an Imperial Forces completist to pick this guy up, but he does look quite nice next to the Snowtrooper. I’m very happy with him and if you end up buying one for yourself, I’d like to think you’d be too.

 

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