Collectible

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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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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Inferno first appeared in the original Generation one cartoon in season two, with no explanation what-so-ever as to how he arrived on earth. But proved himself a competent and helpful fellow Autobot whether fighting Decepticons or a blazing fire. Although his eagerness to engage in combat sometimes distracts him from his rescue job. His character had a memorable southern style accent and featured in a number of season two episodes after his initial appearance. He Transforms into a red Mitsubishi Fuso fire truck with ladder and has Ceramic plated armour to resist the extreme heat he has to deal with.

Name: Inferno (MP-33)
Line: Transformers Masterpiece
Manufacturer: TAKARA TOMY
Released: 2016
Price: 11,990 YEN
Scale: Roughly 22cm in height
Accessories: Blaster Rifle, Water Spray Effect, Fire Hose, 3 Chest Plates, 2 Heads, 4 face Plates, 2 Nozzles/Wrist Blasters and 2 Wrist Communicators

Firstly I’ll address the elephant in the room. If you have already checked out my Best Of 2016, then you already know this figure is a home run as far as I’m concerned. So, in a lot of ways, it makes writing this review a bit redundant. However, I really loved taking photos of this figure, even if he was a pain to light correctly without any horrible glare from the light reflecting off the red. I eventually got into the mood after taking more photos of him (You’d think I’d have taken all my photos of him back when I did my list, but no, I’m not THAT organized or committed!)

As a child, I was lucky enough to own the original G1 Inferno along with Sideswipe and Beachcomber among others. Unfortunately, I ended up giving away both Inferno and Sideswipe after losing many of their accessories as you do when you are a small child with these type of toys. I never regretted the decision as I reasoned at the time, ‘Where would I be able to get the parts I needed?’ (pre-internet and all that) However, once aware of the power of the internet I did go out of my way to get a sample of both original G1 figures I was happy with.
With that said Inferno was always one of my favorite Autobots and favorite Transformers in general.

With the announcement of Masterpiece Inferno I was quite excited as the prototype images of Inferno, looked really amazing. Also, he was scheduled to by released in November when I would once again be over in Japan. So the prospect of having him on release day was pretty exciting too! (Even if it was two days before I left Japan, but I got him none the less!)

SCULPTING
I’m really happy with the amount of effort it appears Takara Tomy are putting into their Masterpiece Transformers. Inferno in hand is breathtaking, I love the size of the fire truck and it just oozes detail and quality. It really took me back to when I was young and my memories of receiving a G1Transformer that came in a proper box with numerous accessories. I spent a good 10 mins just pouring over the fire truck mode and all of its details. Upon transforming Inferno a lot of these details are carried over to robot mode. The face plates and helmets are on point and Inferno matches the animation model almost flawlessly, even if this makes him quite boxy in appearance. I love that the ladder disappears into his chest in robot mode. One minor nitpick with Inferno’s sculpting is that there was a bit of excess molding on the eyes on the faces plates which I ended up trimming off. The factory should be doing this, not me.

PAINT
I’d like to assume most of Inferno is cast in the colour its meant to be. But, I’m pretty sure some parts a painted and matched to those plastic parts. I’m not going to take Inferno apart to find out. One thing Takara Tomy can work on is their paint applications, you don’t call your line of high-end Transformer toys “Masterpiece” and then drop the ball on quality sans MP Thundercracker. In my experience, the paint applications have always been hit and miss, but thankfully most of the time hit.
For example, the blue eyes on the yelling/screaming face plate have been rubbed a bit and need a touch-up or on Inferno’s left shoulder there’s a little bit of red paint/scuff mark on the grey shoulder part. These are minor nitpicks, but sour my confidence in Takara Tomy with each new release I receive.

ARTICULATION
Inferno has a lot of thoughtful articulation, some of it because of the transformation technique and some of it is just designed that way. He has lots of satisfying ratchet joints that make you feel confident that he will hold the pose and not have much trouble with his joints loosening up over time. Even though these Transformers look great in the heroic “museum pose” as seen in some of my photos you can still get very dynamic poses with Inferno if you want and he still looks great doing it and doesn’t look awkward.

ACCESSORIES
Inferno comes stacked with oodles of accessories Takara Tomy shows everyone how it’s done (Bandai and Hot Toys, I’m looking at you) with useful and even cartoon episode-specific accessories. I had a lot of fun playing around with the many different chest pieces and hand/arm blaster combinations you can have. The options are almost endless and you can find a mix your happy with (to make it clear as if it’s not already, my go to is: animation model head and toy truck parts for the chest and arm). Plenty of posing options with the water spray effect for example.
I’m really satisfied with the amount of accessories Takara Tomy have done an excellent job here.

POTENTIAL PROBLEMS
Besides minor paint app and factory molding clean up issues Inferno is pretty much problem free. I guess try not to loose some of those small accessories by keeping them in the box and all that jazz.

PRICE
Amazon JP had a great price for Inferno of 11,990 Yen and this was me being late to the pre-order party too (not so for MP Megatron ;) ) Most other retailers will have him for this price or around that depending on exchange rate, so shop around if you feel the need to. Just pay a price you are happy with, but he’s really an awesome figure so he’s easily worth it.

 

OVERALL
Inferno definitely lives up to the title of “Masterpiece” he is another great example of how far Takara Tomy have come with their MP line since it was rebooted and another great addition to my ever growing Masterpiece display, his larger bulk and height make him tower above the standard Autobot cars and he commands my attention when I glance over at the display. With Grapple on the way, the Decepticons are starting to look a bit out numbered!

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Marvel Studios smash hit Avengers: Age Of Ultron was the next big adventure in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, by not only introducing us to Ultron but bringing us a number of new Avengers too. Quicksilver being one of them. Even if he initially wanted to destroy the Avengers he and his sister Scarlet Witch soon realized the error of their ways after Ultron revealed his master plan to them and they joined with the Avengers to help in defeating him.   

hot_toys_aou_quicksliver_01

Name: Quicksilver
Line: Movie Masterpiece Series
Product Code: MMS 302
Manufacturer: Hot Toys
Released: 2016
Price: $185 – $260 USD MISB
Scale: 1/6
Accessories: Various hands 
as well as a display stand

hot_toys_aou_quicksliver_02

Having just reviewed Scarlet Witch, how could I not review Quicksilver too? He was my favorite character in Age Of Ultron, even if he didn’t make it to the end credits. His banter with Hawkeye was quite amusing, I do have to say.

A lot of Hot Toys fans didn’t have high hopes of Quicksilver being made, I myself hoped they would make him, but the only thing that’s for sure about Hot Toys, is nothing’s for sure (to paraphrase Sting) and after Hot Toys posted a picture on their Facebook page of the “complete Age Of Ultron set of figures” and Quicksilver wasn’t there a lot of people weren’t happy, thankfully after a short time, they updated that picture to include Quicksilver and all was right in the world.

Finally, I have Quicksilver in my hands and even although I’m heading over to Japan soon, I wanted to at least get a few more reviews out before I left and I just felt inspired to do so.

 

Now onto the review of Hot Toys Age of Ultron Quicksilver!

 

hot_toys_aou_quicksliver_03

 

LIST OF PARTS

Inside the box you get the following items:

One Quicksilver figure

Eight interchangeable hands

One display stand

 

hot_toys_aou_quicksliver_04

 

SCULPTING

After the initial pre-order announcement for quicksilver came up, much like Scarlet Witch’s head sculpt being a close match to Elizabeth Olsen, the head sculpt was a very close likeness to Aaron Taylor-Johnson.  Even the test shot photos shared by Hot Toys master painter JC Hong showed an excellent portrait and paint application.

Of course, there were still a few nay-sayers, who for whatever reason just couldn’t see the likeness in the sculpt. Thankfully these people were ignored and what we have is pretty close, if not even more so improved from the prototype.

I’m very happy with what I have in hand and hopefully, my photos have done the head sculpt justice too, it’s an excellent representation of Quicksilver from AOU, in fact; all of the previously released characters from the Avengers so far have been immensely improved from their previous versions.

Needless to say, I’m happy with the head sculpt and you should be too.

 

hot_toys_aou_quicksliver_05

 

PAINT

Once again another great effort here, the paint really helps bring the figure to life and makes that sweet head sculpt even better. Even the paint on the hands is up to the expected standard we’ve come to know and love, he may be lacking accessories, be he’s not lacking craftsmanship and quality.

hot_toys_aou_quicksliver_06

ARTICULATION

Quicksilver has a little bit of a Frankenstein’s Monsters body in a lot of ways. Hot Toys have built up a vast catalog of arms, legs and torsos with each new figure they needed to make new parts for. Which means now they have a lot of parts to pick and choose from when putting together a body for a figure.

His arms are similar to the Advanced Truetype put out years ago, his torso similar to Indiana Jones or Hawkeye (with the shorter neck that torso has) and his shins are from the Tony Stark body they developed. So it truly is a bit of mix and match, but it works quite well I have to say.

Quicksilver has the following articulation: Ball jointed neck, Ball jointed torso, swivel/hinge shoulders, double jointed elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, ball jointed waist, swivel/hinge hips, double jointed knees and ball jointed ankles.

And it’s the ankles where he tends to fall down – literally. I had heard from other reviewers that Quicksilver had really loose ankles so I was curious to find out if I had the same issue.

Unfortunately, I did, but the fault lies in design. For whatever reason Quicksilver has the same long foot pegs that came with the T-800 (MMS/DX) which is fine if you have long boots to help hold the legs, not if you have nothing but the balance of the figure to hold you up and it didn’t help the ball joint was loose in the shoe too.

I changed out shin and ankle joints, matching the height but reducing the ball joint length, the ball joint was still a little loose in the shoe, but not as bad as he was at first. Still, I shouldn’t have to do that straight out of the box and I can’t help but wonder what Hot Toys green horns would do in that situation.

hot_toys_aou_quicksliver_07

OUTFIT

Here’s another category that should be an obvious win, but once again its a bit of a let down. Quicksilver’s outfit maybe basic, but it still is executed quite well, I love the look and feel of the running pants, they have even used a similar material that you would find normal running pants made of. (Hopefully, it does attract too much lint!)

However, the shirt, although looks great, I find it a touch too thick and it’s difficult to move Quicksilver’s arms and torso. Not to mention it can cause the hands to pop off too. But, that is remedied once you change hands a few times and the hole for the wrist peg stretches a bit on each hand.

hot_toys_aou_quicksliver_08

ACCESSORIES

You get some different hands and that’s it. But, they are all pretty appropriate, I guess. You get relaxed hands, fist hands, grabbing hands and running hands, two pairs of each, left and right. Considering all Quicksilver did was run and punch, you couldn’t expect much more than that. They are all sculpted and painted to the usual high standard we come to expect from Hot Toys.

hot_toys_aou_quicksliver_09

POTENTIAL PROBLEMS

There is really not too much to look out for, besides loose ankles and the always present fear of snapping a wrist peg, I find these larger male wrist pegs more susceptible to snapping than any of their older stuff, so of course, they then use it for everything!

Always be careful with Hot Toys wrist pegs, it takes 5 seconds to heat them up for an easy swap out, especially when it looks like if you broke one of Quicksilver’s ones you’d have to take off his shirt to change it out. Yeah, no thanks.

hot_toys_aou_quicksliver_010

PRICE

I paid $185 USD from Animarket, great price and as per usual great customer service. Best to shop around and get as good of a price as you can seeing Quicksilver isn’t one of the main Avengers or characters from AOU.

hot_toys_aou_quicksliver_011

OVERALL

I was quite excited when Hot Toys finally announced Quicksilver from Age Of Ultron and now I have him in hand, I’m still quite pleased with the finished product. He has a few flaws, but I’m still happy to have him in the fold. Really up to you if you need him in your collection or not. Personally, I did, hence why I bought him, plus he adds a little more depth and flare to my Avengers line up, even if he just looks like a guy out for a jog.

hot_toys_aou_quicksliver_012

 

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