Sunday, December 28, 2014

CANARY - DC Collectibles CW Arrow figure overview

DC Collectibles released Canary, based on the live action television show Arrow, this past week to comic stores. I don't watch the show and I had zero intentions of buying this figure until I saw it in-hand. The figure, package and presentation won me over, though, and I picked her up. She'll be staying in-package, so this is just a quick overview of in-package impressions.

Canary is done in a 7" scale and comes in an attractive window-box that shows off the figure and accessories very well. There's a photo of the actress along one side, and the 4 figures in the line on the back (she was presently released with Oliver Queen  with Totem, while Deathstroke and Arrow (season 2 versions) will be released at a later time). Accessories include an extended staff and a round shriek emitter.

The figure itself looks really great. Credit for sculpting is given to Gentle Giant Studios on the back of the package, and even though the sculpt might not be "spot-on", it's 1) close enough and 2) very attractive. The skin-colored plastic used is especially nice, and there's loads of sculpted clasps, laces and wrinkles all over. The hair has a heavy-handed wash to it, and the strands are pretty thick, but it still looks good. I had to go through three figures on the shelf to find one with the best paint around the mask and eyes - there's some bleed around the edges of the mask, and the eyes can be misaligned pretty easily, but I managed to find one that I can be satisfied with. Incidentally, there's some texturing on the mask, itself, which is great!

Articulation looks pretty good, without opening the package. She looks like she's got double jointed knees and hips that will swing out to the sides. There's an upper torso joint below the chest, but I don't see anything at the belt-line. There's more, but I'm wary of speculating about kinds and range of motion without taking her out. In sum, Canary is an excellent looking action figure representation of a live-action actress. The proportions are reasonable, the likeness is strong, there's plenty of attention to detail both in sculpt and paint, and there are a couple of character-specific accessories included. She retails for about $25.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

GODZILLA 1985 - NECA Godzilla figure review

NECA's newest Godzilla figure has been shipping over the past couple of weeks: Godzilla 1985 is here, and...I've got to say I'm largely disappointed. Now, I love NECA, and I really enjoy my Godzilla figures. I've enjoyed their 2014 and 1994 versions, and I'm really looking forward to the 1995 and 1954 prototypes they've shown off. But, honestly, this 1985 Godzilla is a hot mess. Even with the re-tooled head his proportions are off, and he probably the ugliest Godzilla I've seen outside of some American Bandai vinyls.
The movie this figure is based on is one of the few Godzilla movies I have never seen, so keep in mind that I have no idea about on-screen accuracy here - I'm going on what's in front of me. His head, though vastly improved from the earlier prototype, is too big. His chest is too narrow, his arms are too thin, his pot-belly is too potted, his legs are bowed and his feet are too small. He reminds me more of an awkward chicken than the King of the Monsters. If this is what he actually looked like in the film, I think I'm better off ignoring it.

The articulation is pretty good. The head has a terrific range of motion - he can look up and tilt way better than either of the previous NECA Godzillas could. The jaw is hinged, and I like that the neck articulation doesn't include that weird outer case. There's no bicep swivel on this guy, like 1994 had, and the hands seem more like swivels than balls. Everything else is pretty much the same. I can barely get any bend out of the right leg (and I've got 2 opened), the knees rotate well, but the hips really give me trouble. They are hard to get aligned so that the feet can lay flat while keeping them looking ok from the side.
The tail is short, but keeps the articulated segments at the base, while having a bendy end that needs attaching. The spines are a bit sloppy in the paint department, and are made of a softer rubber.

The paint is otherwise very good. The eyes are especially sharp and clearly done, as is the tongue, mouth and the teeth are really excellent.

The toenails have a darker brown at the base, which is neat, though mine has a touch of slop on one foot.

The skin textures are sharp and well-sculpted. There's some variation between the pebbly chest and stomach vs the striated arms. The detailing even makes it onto the underside of the tail.

I really wanted to love this guy - after all, he's an articulated 6" Godzilla! But, unfortunately, I've got to say that NECA kind of let me down with this one. Standing alone, he's kind of passable. But it really becomes apparent that something's just not right about 1985 when he's posed alongside other NECA or S.H. MonsterArts figures. He's he doesn't look like a representation of the same character for some reason. At a price-tag of just under $20, he's ok, and for a genuine 1985 purist, he may be the greatest representation one could ever hope for. But for me, when placed among my 13 other 6" scale Godzilla figures, this one is easily the worst...

Saturday, October 25, 2014

LEGENDARY GODZILLAS & MUTO - Bandai Vinyl 6" figures

I recently picked up a trio of 6" scale vinyl Godzilla figures based on Legendary's 2014 film: Godzilla and a MUTO by Bandai Japan and Godzilla by Bandai Creation. They are all neat in their own ways, and though none of the three are perfect, I'm glad I ordered them.

We'll start with Bandai Japan's take on Godzilla. The figure stands just under 6" tall and about 11" from nose to tail tip. There are cut joints at the shoulders and hips, and there's one at the base of the tail (though I don't think that one's really meant for posing). Godzilla is pre-posed in a very standard straight-ahead vanilla pose. Even the tail goes straight back with just a minor curl to give it some personality. The sculpt is mostly good, if not very reminiscent of the NECA 6" tall version. There are some nice pronounced details on the back and legs, and the neck and tail, as well. There's a couple of proportional issues, though, with an unusually small head and really long and thin arms.

There's some tan sprayed on the chest, inner thighs, toenails and half of the underside of the tail. The teeny tiny eyes are orange, and this $12 figure managed to do what the $70 SH MonsterArts version of the character couldn't: the tiny black pupils are aligned correctly. Godzilla has a red inner mouth and tongue and a shockingly white band of Crest Whitestrips...I mean, teeth. He's captured mid-roar, or yawn, and comes with a tag card attached.

In many ways, the MUTO is more interesting. For one, this is the only 6" scale version of the character we have gotten in any form so far. This is the winged Male MUTO, and he stands just under 5" tall and measures about 6" across from wing to wing. He's got cut joints at the shoulders (of the long orange arms) and hips. The wings are incredibly thick and smooth - they don't really look much like wings to me. You'll also find some really obtrusive seams all over this guy: the wings are 2 pieces each, there's one where each attaches to the torso, and there's a seam mid-torso, as well. All that said, this guy is still pretty cool. The head sculpt is neat, and despite the fact that the vestigial arms are curled against the body in one solid chunk (the mouth is also sculpted as a solid piece, with no opening between the jaws), MUTO does a pretty good job of looking like its movie counterpart, shape-wise.
There are almost no details or textures worth noting, other than the face and a little soft stuff on the chest/belly. Besides the orange spray over the front of the long legs, MUTO has a orange eye stripes on its face. The figure is cool, but he's a little too small to scale up with NECA's 12" tall version, and too big for the SH MonsterArts or NECA 6" tall figures. Nevertheless, he looks great on the shelf and it's nice to finally have a larger version of this kaiju than the Destruction Pack gave us.

Finally, we have Bandai Creation's Godzilla 2014. Usually, I feel like the American arm of Bandai produces vinyls inferior to those made for Japan. However, in this case the exact opposite is true. Bandai Creation's Godzilla surpasses Bandai Japan's in every way. This Godzilla comes in an open cardboard package resembling those used for Bandai's Tail Strike and Atomic Roar versions, and no tag. The figure is in much more of an in-action pose, leaning forward into a really angry-looking roar with his tail curling around to the side behind him. This figure is larger, standing just under 7" tall despite the lean, and measuring about 9" front to back, despite the tight curl of the tail. I love the pose. It's the closest any toy Godzilla 2014 has come to portraying the anger and strength he projected in the film, especially mid-roar. It's actually pretty close to the pose found in some of the promotional art when viewed from certain angles.

Godzilla has swivels at the tops of the arms and cuts at the hips. There's no tan highlighting on the toenails for this version, but the chest and entire underside of the tail are painted. The interior of the mouth is left black, but the bright red tongue is painted flawlessly, and the teeth are painted individually, making for a much sharper look. The eyes are yellow and pupil-less and awesome! I love the way it looks - they aren't beady and there's no misalignment to complain about.

There's plenty of detail on this guy, with a little more texture on the dorsal spines than some other versions have. His head is much larger, and his neck thicker than the Japanese Bandai's version mentioned earlier and if I've got any quibbles with the sculpt it's with the legs- they seem a little short and stumpy to me around the upper thigh area. Otherwise, this is a great looking Godzilla. His size, pose and sculpt are enough to really make him stand out on the shelf, and for about $13 he's a great deal.

MUTO, NECA Godzilla and Bandai Creation

MUTO, NECA Godzilla and Bandai Japan Godzilla

A trio of G's: NECA, Creation and Japan versions
Atomic Breath!

Friday, October 10, 2014

S.H. MonsterArts Legendary Godzilla 2014 figure review

Bandai Tamashii Nations has delivered a stylized version of Legendary's newest incarnation of Godzilla (2014) as the latest release from their S.H. MonsterArts line. The figure retails for just under $70 and showcases the "essence" of Legendary's Godzilla, with the sculptor sacrificing some screen-accuracy, resulting in a figure that is both unique and slightly divisive. Those seeking the ultimate screen-accurate Godzilla 2014 will probably have to make do with NECA's versions for the time-being, at lease until X-Plus unveils their version.

MonsterArts Godzilla 2014 has a sharper brow ridge with deep-set eyes, shoulders set closer together, thicker fingers and longer toes than the screen-version did. The thick brows really set the facial sculpt apart from the smoother rounded look of the NECA versions.

My initial excitement over this release faded quite a bit as pictures and early reviews began to trickle out: this guy's got a couple of really glaring issues (all having to do with paint), and they appear to be common enough to be the rule rather than the exception. First, his eyes are misaligned. The left pupil looks down while the right one looks straight ahead. That said, those pupils are really tiny dots, and the heavy and sharp brow ridge keeps them in shadow for the most part. So, yes, it's frustrating knowing they are there like that, but it's really not as noticeable as I feared it would be. Second, he's got too much "blood" smeared across the front of his snout. Third, the teeth are terribly mis-painted with lots of slop, especially down over the lower jawline. Not quite sure what's going on with these latter two issues, but that these figures shipped from the factory like this is frankly unacceptable. I have walked away from several lines because of QC issues (MOTUC, DC Direct Arkham Asylum, DCUC, to name a few), and it won't take too much more sloppiness like this to dull my enthusiasm, but a little paint and a very fine brush helped a lot here (though these pictures were taken before I did any paint adjustments).

S.H. MonsterArts' Godzilla 2014 actually looks pretty great. The sculpt and 95% of the paint are just beautiful. There's tons of great texture over all of the skin, and unlike NECA's and Bandai's versions, the detail carries over onto the jagged and roughly textured dorsal plates and spines. Gorgeous, just gorgeous. Personally, I like what they've done with the feet here, giving him some slightly longer claws/toes along with a wider spread. The result is a really stable figure, no matter the stance. The fingers are a bit thicker than previous versions seemed to be, and that severely pronounced ridge above the eyes is one of the most unique aspects of this particular sculpt for me. Godzilla had a really expressive face in the movie, and this figure comes closest to capturing the fury and rage that he unleashed in every roar. He's also not quite as "narrow" up at the head. When viewed from head-on, most of my Godzilla 2014's look like  giant "A's" to me. This version overcomes that better than any of the other 2014 versions I own.

On the down-side, there's an odd-looking cut joint in the torso that runs just under the armpits. It really breaks up the sculpt from the front, and I can't get much articulation out of the joint, so that's one part I could do without. But the sculpt is otherwise really excellent.

I mentioned the paint issues earlier - they were true with my figure, as well, but I was able to reduce the slop around the face with some dark grey paint. The eyes I can't do anything about. There's a great faint drybrushing over the scales on the back, and I really like the way the chest coloration was handled. It's not quite as jarring as it is on many other versions. The overall color of the figure is a terrific flat dark grey and there's a wonderful tan applied to the toenails.

This Godzilla is a lot of fun to play with. He's got a lot of joints and they work well together to allow for a variety of poses (I was able to replicate the poses from the back of the box pretty well). All of the earlier releases of Legendary's Godzilla, from NECA to JAKKS to Bandai, have him  standing very upright with little to no ability to lean forward, which I felt like he did a lot of in the movie, head thrust out in that massive roar. Even when he stormed into battle with the MUTOs, he leaned into it. None of my other figures could do that. This one can (sort of). He looks great in a forward lean. Despite that, he still can't get the head out and forward as much as I'd like to get that mid-roar pose I want. The joints are quite loose in many places, but that's par for the course with this line. I think the sockets that Bandai uses for the ball attachments are intentionally left fairly shallow, which makes them pop apart easily. My figure's tail fell off right out of the box, but it snapped together again without much of an issue. He's had fewer parts falling off than my 1995 Birth version did, if that's any consolation. It should also be noted that there's a great deal of side to side movement you can get from the thighs, and the sculpting that was done on the inner thighs, which is mostly hidden unless the legs are spread pretty wide, is just amazing.

There are no accessories included with Godzilla 2014. At around $70 shipped, this is a mid-range offering from Bandai Tamashii Nations, and is an average value. The figure is tons of fun, even alone, and is able to strike some great poses. I added the MUTO figure from the Destruction Pack in for some pictures and it seemed to work out pretty well. I love that this figure isn't just like my others. It keeps the essence of Godzilla 2014 while adding some life of its own to the character, and it looks great with the rest of the line...

Sunday, September 28, 2014

S.H. MonsterArts Godzilla (Heisei/Birth Version/1995) Figure Review

What a terrific time it is to be a kaiju (especially Godzilla) fan! There are four separate lines that are each fantastic in their own right, competing for my attention (and dollars). X-Plus makes gorgeous statues that are second to none, but which I've got to really be selective about because of their premium price-tags. S.H. MonsterArts is my personal favorite line. The scale, sculpt, articulation and wide range of figures is perfect for me, though the high prices really have me scaling back on nearly all of my other collecting. I say "nearly" with a wink, of course. Because I've also been giving my money to NECA (a lot!) lately. Their two Godzilla releases have been great, and at a hair under $20 a pop, I can buy 3 for the price of one MonsterArts figure. Finally, I've been with NECA's Pacific Rim line from the get-go. It's had some bumps, and I feel like I'm the only person who was stunningly disappointed by their Scunner figure (HATE the rubber cloak over the shoulders- just looks awful to me- and the scaling is totally wrong, but don't get me started on that...), but I'm in for the long haul, with more hits than misses so far. And Otachi really looks like she's going to be a tremendous figure. Anyway, I read a comment on a blog when this was all starting out for me (I had been collecting DCUC, MOTUC, Movie Masters and some Transformers) that said something to the effect that "Every toy collector owes it to themself to buy at least one MonsterArts figure. They are THAT good." And so I did- I got myself a first release Godzilla 1994 and, yeah, I loved it so much (derpy eyes and all) that I've been hooked ever since. That's not to say these figures are perfect - far from it. They are very overpriced and under-accessorized. Some of them fall apart too easily, or have unsightly gaps or seams. But when I look at the whole picture, it goes something like this: I really enjoy them. These are the figures on my shelf that I keep coming back to, keep taking down, keep messing around with. And they are the ones I find myself looking forward to most of all. So, I bite the bullet and swallow the cost because I feel like I get my money's worth in the joy they bring me, which is a great deal more than the hundreds of other figures I have packed in totes, hanging on walls, or displayed on shelves that I rarely notice or bother to look at. Which brings me to my latest Bandai Tamashii Nations S.H. MonsterArts figure: GODZILLA (Heisei version, alternately called "Birth" or Godzilla 1995).

Godzilla 1995 is the ultimate Heisei version of the character and, despite the fact that it's a re-issue of sorts, it's totally worth getting even if one already owns Burning Godzilla.

No word of a lie, this is the best looking Godzilla released for this line yet. The paint is perfect from head to tail to toes. Godzilla is painted a flat dark grey (charcoal, for want of a better term), but he's got loads of blue highlighting embedded in there. It isn't overpowering (like NECA's 12" tall Godzilla), either. You really have to see the figure under the right lighting to notice it's there at all. The eyes are absolutely perfect, and the claws have that great bone shading with faint gradations where the nail meets the toe (like X-Plus does so well, but much tinier). Claws on the hands and the dorsal spines are painted really well, too. There's a little slop on my figure's teeth, with the red of the gums bleeding over the base of some of the front teeth, but it's fairly minor. The sculpt matches the earlier release Burning Godzilla, and it's truly excellent. Great detail, and all very sharp. My major knock on NECA's Godzillas so far is their shiny plastic look. MonsterArts are painted through and through, and it makes all the difference in the world for these figures to look like articulated models rather than toys. My one outright complaint about this Godzilla's look has to do with the lower torso: he looks like he's wearing a diaper. I suppose it's easier to overlook on this version, since he's all one color, but it's still there and it's an eyesore. Yes, Burning Godzilla's gaps at the hips are present on this version as well, but it is possible to reduce them with some delicate fiddling. Otherwise, downright perfect in the looks department.


This Godzilla is great fun to play with...mostly. The joints are present and generally work as they are supposed to. In other words, you can get a wide variety of poses from this guy. In fact, he is more dynamic than the actual movie character by far. But this comes at a cost. The sockets on Godzilla are shallow and come apart very easily. My torso separates at the waist, and I've had issues with my left leg coming apart at the hip. They go back together with a slight pop, but I've contemplated trying a fix or two to keep the posing from getting as frustrating as it's been.

The tail, head and arms (especially) are great. I can get that classic "arms up in front and bent inwards" pose for the shelf.

Godzilla comes with a red-tinted atomic breath spray, stand and base. The sculpt matches the one released with the original Godzilla 1994 (which was blue for that version), making it both good and bad. The good part is that it's pretty cool and the red tinting is beautifully done. The bad part is that it was sculpted for a different figure - one with smalled sculpted fangs. As a result, this one doesn't sit right in my Godzilla's mouth. It's a close approximation, but not perfect. Nevertheless, it's great that a breath effect part was included at all, going on S.H. MonsterArts's most recent history.
With Original Godzilla 1994's Atomic Breath

This guy can currently be picked up via Amazon for $68. That's a fairly low to mid range price for an S.H. MonsterArts figure, especially one that includes a breath effect. Remember, these are generally overpriced figures with some perks that make the cost somewhat more justified: the are Japanese imports, fully painted, beautifully sculpted and highly articulated. They feel high-end. In fact, I showed this figure and a NECA figure to a friend who knows nothing about either, and he could instantly tell a significant difference.

If you want a low-cost toy that's tons of fun to play with, get the NECA Godzilla. If you want an adjustable display model that will impress from a display shelf, S.H. MonsterArts is the way to go. In terms of the line itself, this figure is one of the very best (right up there with Millennium Godzilla 2000 as the best Godzilla), along with Kiryu and Destoroyah. The price is going to skyrocket once the production run is finished. Don't hesitate - this is the best 6" scale Heisei Godzilla out there...

Included Red Atomic Breath Effect

Beautiful Sculpt and Paint
Size Comparison: SW Boba Fett and DCUC Batman

Toe/Claw Detail

Dorsal and skin detail
NECA Godzilla (1994) and MonsterArts Godzilla (1995)

S.H. MonsterArts Godzilla