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I'm Playing With (Subscribe)

I like toys. I'm secure in my maturity (or lack thereof). And toys were meant to played with. So, yes, I open rare and exclusive items, and mess with them, "Toy Story" style. Hard-core toy collectors should probably not read this blog.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Professor X

Professor X from the Toy Biz Marvel Legends line
Let's face it, Professor X (aka Charles Xavier) is a pretty powerful dude (if you have any doubts, play the excellent X-Men Legends video game).

But his bedside manner leaves a bit to be desired. Poster child leader of the X-Men, Cyclops (aka Scott Summers), found out he had a brother (Havok, aka Alex Summers). Turns out the good ol' professor might have known about Alex, but neglected to tell Scott.

But that's not enough Summers in the world, so we need to factor in Scott's/Alex's daddy Corsair (aka Major Christopher Summers), thought dead, but not so much. (Yes, I know things have changed.)

But that's not enough Summers in the world, so Marvel saw fit to add Vulcan (aka Gabriel Summers). Who Professor X and one-time lover Moira MacTaggert (for a dude in a wheelchair, the professor gets around) knew about, but neglected to mention to Scott and Alex.

Feel like a soap opera yet?

This particular post was inspired by the recent start of the X-Men: Emperor Vulcan miniseries. Gabriel is a bit peeved at Scott, Alex, Christoper, and Charles. And the rest of creation. He has issues.

I dig this toy. This is a fully articulated figure (a la sculptors Sam Greenwell and Phil Ramirez) from the Toy Biz Marvel Legends "Galactus Series". Great sculpt and deco, and there's something about a fully-articulated guy in a wheelchair (and believably constrainable, non - gold - techy - hoverchair - wheelchair) that I like.

I like the Cerebro helmet accessory, but like the helmet for Ant-Man (from the Marvel Legends "Giant Man Series"), it's a bit snug, and I keep worry about scarring the paint or head sculpt. Still cool, though.

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Optimus Prime and Mojo

Optimus Prime from The War Within morphing into Robot Heroes Optimus Prime, a la Mojo.Above is what happens when I get impatient to post in my toy blog.

Fact is, I like a lot of specific stuff. Chief among them are Transformers and comic books. And I like messing with continuity. It riles the fanboys.

Transformers are the new hotness (at least for those with no sense of history) so I wanted to play with a couple of the recent toy incarnations while I wait for the DVD release of the Michael Bay movie next month.

The big guy on the left ("starting Prime") is The War Within comic book Optimus Prime from Hasbro's Titanium Series die-cast line (and yes, you've seen him before). He's a great sculpt, but as I've mentioned before, in robot form, a bit loose on the joint front, so he's pose ability challenged -- most of the set-ups with him involve amazing feats of balance on my part.

The whiney, perceptive Optimus at the end ("Ending Prime") is from Hasbro's Robot Heroes line. All of the G1 stuff from that line rocks.

Mojo is a Build-a-Figure (BAF) from the Toy Biz Marvel Legends series 15 (aka "The Mojo Series"). Mojo is from the X-Men comic book mythos, and is a great character that parodies licensing and commercialism. This is a cool (and creepy) sculpt from Phil Ramirez that's well designed and decoed for Mojo himself, his chair / throne thingy, and the spider legs that are attached. I only wish his "tail" was pose able, rather than fixed plastic (makes a good handle, though).

The "sequel" statement is multi-layered. There's more coming from me with Mojo -- I've been planning something with him for several months, and am now just waiting on some specific things to show up on my doorstep. And, there's going to be a Transformers II movie. And the HD DVD barb comes out of a bit of a PR whoopsie related to HD DVD, Blu-ray, and Transformers.

So there's all of that. Plus I got to play with some photo morphing software, which worked well enough for being free (after rebates), but has some poor design shortcomings that will keep me from using it for most of my work.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Li'l Cap'n America 'n Li'l Wolvie

NotDolls Civil Wah! comic
So, these are definitely different.

I have a friend who is always "looking out for Captain America, in all of his forms" for me.

He found me this two-pack of Captain America and Wolverine wooden toys from Learning Curve's line of Play Town toys.

These things are freaking cute. And they're made of wood (well, except the arms and feet). The craftsmanship is top-notch (for example, the feet are screwed, not just glued, into the wooden torso). The deco (paint) is spot-on, too.

Seriously, they're like benign versions of South Park-ish Americana comic book toys. I didn't even know these things existed.

The comic above is a take-off from Marvel's recent "Civil War" story arc. Seriously, the other two-pack in this series is Spide-Man and The Hulk; if they'd just replaced Green Genes with Luke Cage, my head probably would have exploded.

And I mixed the "Mighty 'Vengers" with "X-Babies".

And I'm making fun of Wolverine's short stature.

Below is the storyboard that spawned this week's comic episode:

NotDolls storyboard for comic featuring Play Town toys of Captain America and Woverine

Here's a detail of the "Li'l Cap'n 'Merica":

NotDolls close-up of Play Town toy of Captain America

Here's a detail of the "Li'l Wolvie":

NotDolls close-up of Play Town toy of Woverine

Front of the toys, in-package:

NotDolls close-up of Play Town packaging (front)

Back of the packaging:

NotDolls close-up of Play Town packaging (back)

I thought this was nifty -- no twist-ties. Just these little locking plastic caps that you twist to unlock the figures from their cardboard and plastic bases. Somebody invented these.

NotDolls close-up of Play Town toy fasteners


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Friday, August 17, 2007

Madman and The Savage Dragon

Comic page featuring Madman and The Savage Dragon; see the bottom of this post for a description for the blind and vision impaired.
I've been looking forward to the Marvel Toys (what was Toy Biz) relaunch of their super-articulated, well-sculpted figures for a while, and they've finally started showing up in Texas area Wal-Marts.

Moving on from their Marvel Legends line (which they sold to Hasbro, and themselves look like they will be improving, starting with Wave 3), Marvel Toys, ironically, is now not doing Marvel comic book figures, instead focusing on independent heroes from the likes of Image, Top Cow, Dark Horse, and 2000 AD.

Dubbed "Legendary Comic Book Heroes", Wave 1 includes two of my favorite indie heroes, Michael Allred's Madman and Erik Larsen's The Savage Dragon.

I was able to pick both up at the same time, both sculpts are fantastic, and true to their titular 2D comic book heroes.

I'm pretty impressed with how much Madman looks like his comic book likeness. I'm not sure I've had a toy that looks so much like it was pulled right from the pages that spawned it. Part of it is the sculpt, part of it is the paint job, and part of it is the dull matte white mold that works really well with dramatic lighting and camera angle variations. And he comes with a retro Snap City ray gun, which is funky.

The Savage Dragon figure has a great thick upper body and trademark disproportionately small legs and feet. The jean and tennis shoes part of the sculpt and paint are spot on, as are the meat-slab giant hands -- which have amazingly articulated fingers and thumbs (so you can have him "wave" at baddies; or hang ten; or thwip his spider webbing; er ...). I've heard complaints of flaccid fins from other collectors, but I think that's a personal problem; my fin is stiff and upright.

There are no guns or other accessories for the Dragon, which kind of bites (couple of .45s would be nice). And this sculpt has a couple of imperfections, the irritating one being a white imperfection inside his mouth line.

And, yes, the sculpt above is wearing his trademark sleeveless T-shirt -- that's right, speculative collector bee-otches -- I've taken yet another variant toy out of its package! (Somewhere, an overweight collector with walls and walls of unopened toys is crying and shaking his fist at me.)

The picture above is inspired by Madman Atomic Comics #3, Michael Allred's latest in the current franchise relaunch. This issue is absolutely brilliant, as Allred continues the character's existential meanderings, and pays tribute to dozens of comic artistic styles through the decades. It's like having a pantheon of historical and contemporary artists do a Madman tribute book, and it's stunning. Frankly, I'm disappointed that everyone who values comic books hasn't rushed out and bought the issue.

And the comic panel above is my paltry play at the series' existentialism. You can read it clockwise ... or counterclockwise! (Lookit me!)


(Oh, and a quick rant about Marvel Toys. Their Website on the Marvel Legends side has been in decline for a long time (probably as early as when the internal decision to sell the line to Hasbro was made), with inconsistent product updates and broken database links the norm. Until recently, there has been no new section for the Legendary Comic Book Heroes line. Even now, there's just a placeholder. A robust online presence is pretty key, and not treating the Website like a service translates into lost pre-sales and mindshare opportunities. Especially since the first two waves of their product are already in the marketplace. Marvel Toys, productize your Web site!)

Updated: Based on request, added full-figure and detail pictures.

Marvel Toys Legendary Comic Book Heroes right three-quarter view of Madman
Marvel Toys Legendary Comic Book Heroes front view of Madman

Marvel Toys Legendary Comic Book Heroes left view of Madman

Marvel Toys Legendary Comic Book Heroes front view of The Savage Dragon

Marvel Toys Legendary Comic Book Heroes left view of The Savage Dragon

Marvel Toys Legendary Comic Book Heroes close-up view of The Savage Dragon's hand

(The following is a description of the picture included in this post for the blind and visually impaired.)

The Savage Dragon holds Madman and says, "Stop thinking out loud!!!" Madman thinks, "I don’t think that’ll be productive." There is a picture of Madman's face being sucked into his gun, and he says, "Can’t suck my brain out of my head." Madman is holding a smaller Madman which is holding an even smaller The Savage Dragon. Madman says, "I think you’re being --" The smaller Madman he is holding says, "-- a bit small..." The smaller The Savage Dragon he is sholding says, "Gnarliness seriously spent." The Savage Dragon is holding Madman's ray gun. Madman is laying down with his hands behind his head. The Savage Dragon says, "Mind if I borrow this?" Madman says, "Knock yourself out." The Savage Dragon holds the ray gun to his head. The Savage Dragon says, "This’ll shut you up." This returns back to Madman thinking, "I don’t think that’ll be productive."

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Nightcrawler is a smelly elf.
I'm nothing if not juvenile.

There's no way some version of this gag hasn't been done, but I couldn't find it, and my posed Mr. Sinister inspired me for this follow-up (you should check that post out to get the full gag).

I actually went back and forth on whether to use the German for "excuse me" ("Entschuldigung") or "I'm sorry" ("Es tut mir Leid"). While I like the sound of "Entschuldigung" better, I liked the "tut" in "Es tut mir Leid" (yes, a brainy juvenile is a frightening thing).

This figure is from the Marvel Legends "Galactus Series" (aka, "Series 9"), and is a Sam Greenwell / Phil Ramirez sculpt. I really like the sculpt and pose ability -- even Nighty's third toe / "pose able dew claw" is ... pose able. As are each of the two toes and two fingers on each appendage. The thumb, unfortunately, not so pose able.

The face is well done, though I wish it had more of a "I'm-a-happy-go-lucky swashbuckler elf" look, rather than a "I'm still pissed Chuck Austen inserted his biases to muck with my religious origin background".

My only other gripe is the hip joints rest out a big wide, which is only really noticeable if someone points them out. Like I just did. Because I like to share.

The text font is Blambot's Letter-O-Matic, and the "BAMF" font is their Umberto font. I wanted to use their "Oh Crap!" font (for an additional double entendre), but it didn't look as good.

I am so juvenile ...

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Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Mr. Sinister ...

Marvel Legends Mr. Sinister figure

Much as I love my Captain America / Halo crossover, Cap's still dead, the Halo 3 beta (and here; and here) is about to end, and this particular blog needs a new entry.

Enter the ToyBiz Marvel Legends incarnation of Mr. Sinister, one of the X-Men's main baddies.

Great paint job, and a lot of pose ability, with this particular offering having solid joints (which I really appreciate; a bunch of my collection came loosey-goosey out of the box). The cape is some rubbery material, and has the trademark "I veally vant to suck your blood" collar and torn fringe-ish look.

And this is another Dave Cortes sculpt, and has fantastic detail. That dude is amazingly talented.

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Friday, May 11, 2007

Captain America & Master Chief

Page 1 of farcical Marvel Captain America and Halo Master Chief crossover. Captain America is shot.
Page 2 of farcical Marvel Captain America and Halo Master Chief crossover. Master Chief realizes he may have made an error.
Halo is wicked hot. The beta for Halo 3 starts Monday. Halo gets a comic book series this summer from Marvel. Captain America was recently shot and killed, and we're not yet sure what up (sorry if I ruined it for you, but it was in the New York Times, kids).

And crossovers are hot. Like the New Avengers / Transformers crossover that's also coming this summer.

And Marvel keeps mentioning Halo and Xbox. Like in Avengers: Initiative #2 (how blatant is that?).

So, I've merged grassy knoll theory with a crossover that should happen, but in my imaginings has gone horribly awry. I'm guessing there's a subset of intersected geeks that will find this funny. That subset will get the additional homage on page 1.

The Captain America is the unmasked variant from the Marvel Legends Face-Off Series 1. This is a great, well balanced and painted sculpt (another great one from Dave Cortes). I can seriously pose him in more positions without him falling over, because of the weighting. I'm not crazy about the lack of mobility of the head (couldn't get it to "snap back" from the sniper shot), and it'd be nice if the waist rotated.

The Master Chief is the original Halo figure from the Joyride Studios Series 1. They know how to sculpt these things (other than the knees, on this particular model; but John's a cyborg, so they get latitude).

I think my theory of a second shooter holds water ...

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Thursday, May 3, 2007

Captain America and Optimus Prime

Optimus Prime says to Captain America: I've died more times than you have; Captain America says to Optimus Prime: You stole my colors!
Oh, Optimus, Cap, please don't fight. I mean, you're cut from the same cloth metal atoms, when it comes right down to it.

Face it, Optimus is the robot bastard child of John Wayne and Captain America. Don't get me wrong, but when the incomparable Peter Cullen voices Prime, I often hear some version of the Duke saying, "Is this an energy dagger I see before me?" (I love you if you get this.)

The Optimus Prime above is the Hasbro Titanium Series die-cast version from The War Within Transformers comic book relaunch by (now defunct) Dreamwave Productions. I really like this incarnation as a character re-imagining, and as a vehicle and robot sculpt, it's great. However, despite its articulation, the incredible looseness of joints makes it nearly impossible to "play" with (or more importantly, use for stop-motion animation). 'Tis a bummer, but I may create some small rubber cement plugs to tighten the jointings if I've got a script that really calls for my favorite Transformer. And if I'm feeling ambitious. And crafty. And have rubber cement.

And the itty bitty (pretty much scale) Captain America pictured is the (possibly) variant version from the WizKids "Ultimates" line of Marvel HeroClix (I also have the regular and unique Caps from the "Inifinity" series, but not the "Armor Wars" version; yet).

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Moon Knight and Man-Thing ...

Moon Knight fighting Man-Thing
One of my pet peeves is speculators. Folks who buy things on the speculation they'll go up in price, and then sell them for a higher margin.

This arguably nearly destroyed the comic book market in the 1990s, and it's pretty bad in the toy market -- and pretty obvious with the Marvel Legends line of toys.

I'm a fan. I get characters I like and sculpts that are cool. I'm not interested in paying a premium for toys I'm going to open, play with, and do animated films with.

A couple of the (multitude of) figures I've wanted recently are Man-Thing and Moon Knight. But not the "regular" Moon Knight (who, oddly is in a black, Batman-esque suit). No, I wanted the "variant" Moon Knight (who's wearing his correct silver duds).

I was never able to find the correctly attired MK in the stores, but I've recently been sucked into the eBay Marvel Legends aftermarket, and had been bidding on figures I want, with (usually) low ceilings. Just to see if I got lucky.

I scored this bad-boy for $13.01, which, though not the $8 I'd have rather paid for it, is way better than the $25 it regularly goes for on the aftermarket.

And Marvel's Man-Thing is just a weird, cool character (like Deathlok or Beta Ray Bill) from an older Marvel Legends series, and I got him for way less than MK. And he beat out DC's Swamp Thing by just a few months in 1971. That's worth something, right?

On the technical side, these are both good sculpts. All of the joints are good, though Man-Thing's got a tendency to drift in his midriff, which is probably to be expected (he is made of swamp muck, after all).

Moon Knight's got lots of jointage, and comes with a staff and nunchakus (which look to be recycles from the Daredevil Face-Off figure). The attention to detail is nice, and the add-on rubber belt also has a loop on the back (under the cape) for storing the nunchakus. Nice!

Man-Thing was sculpted by Phil Ramirez, and Moon Knight was sculpted by rockstar Dave Cortes.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Captain America (paperweight)

Captain America bust
Someone who knows me and loves me better than they ought (and more than I deserve) got me this Captain America paperweight.

Cold cast resin, hand painted, and very cool (those are fabric stretches across his chest), this Cap gets shelf treatment, and won't likely be holding down any papers (to be honest, I don't have a large wind problem in my office).

And the word balloon? Given the events during and fallout from Marvel's "Civil War" arc, I think signs point to something along these lines down the Marvel publishing road. I just added the "upper body" as a nod to how extreme resurrection stories can become (uh, "Heroes Reborn"?).

We'll see how prescient I am.

Speaking of "Heroes Reborn" which, if you know of an inexpensive "Heroes Reborn" version of Captain America (factory or custom), let me know.

I say "inexpensive", because it's just going to be used as a punching bag for my other Captain Americas...


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Monday, April 2, 2007

The Kingpin

Kingpin action figure from the Marvel Legends Face Off series
This is the variant Kingpin from the Marvel Legends Face Off series. This is the cat that goes with the variant Daredevil I've got wailing on Bullseye.

Yes, I continue to take my variants out of their packaging. Then pose them. Then mock them. Repeatedly. Because I care for them.

This is actually a very good sculpt and paint job, and I prefer it to the standard white (comparatively serene) mold and paint job.

The downside is he's a hefty rotund sculpt, so posing is restricted by his center of gravity. His massive center of gravity.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

OK, so maybe I'm not playing with this. More like coveting somebody who is playing. is a gallery of one guy's personal collection of toys -- Mostly Marvel Legends and other Marvel toys. And a lot of variants.

You can get high-quality picts of these things other places, but his placing the series (or multiple series) side by side to show relative scale is pretty useful in determining that part of the authenticity of the sculpts.

His display alone is wicked cool, and he also has news updates about toys, toy shows, and links to comics and videos made with the toys.

And despite my dissatisfaction with the Hasbro takeover of the Marvel Legends line, I did learn from (a la the New York Toy Fair) there will be a WWII Captain America and Hydra soldier in the "Marvel Legends Queen Brood Series" (Series 3). I'm hoping the Hydra soldier is based on the unreleased ToyBiz prototype, but the Cap is going to be hard pressed to top the Marvel Select version (other than on the articulation front).

The site's built in frames, which totally sucks, but the content is great, so check it out, and benefit from another man's obsession with toys.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Daredevil / Bullseye

Matt Murdock's not OK with that whole Karen Page thing ...
Bullseye killed Matt Murdock's (Daredevil's) main squeeze Karen Page in Daredevil vol. 2, #5.

I thought this death was kind of a cast-off deal, and really, if you were DD, wouldn't you be pissed?

This is a variant Daredevil from the Marvel Legends Face Off series, taking out his anger on a Marvel Legends Bullseye (also a variant from the Galactus series).

The font is "Letter-O-Matic" from Blambot Comic Fonts and Lettering.

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Civil War: Captain America and Spider-Man

I snapped this pict based on the current Civil War nastiness going on in the Marvel Comics.

Peter Parker has finally pulled his head out and joined the Secret Avengers, but he's a little late to the game and everyone knows who he is. Cap's been known to be Steve Rogers for a long time, which makes his fighting the whole Super Hero Registration Act interesting.

These are both variant versions of the Marvel Legends Icons line from ToyBiz (now Marvel Toys), before the line was handed over to Hasbro.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

International Toy Fair 2007

(Evidently, I don't feel like I have enough blogs. )

I've been wanting to start a new blog focused on toys and collecting for a while, and there's probably no better instigating event than this year's International Toy Fair, running now (February 11-14).

There's more going on than I'll do justice, but here are my highlights so far.

I mentioned in a previous post ("End of an era") that Toy Biz was becoming Marvel Toys, and, since they were jettisoning the Marvel Legends line to Hasbro, they're free to do other stuff.

Legendary Comic Book Heroes:

It showed up in a ToyFare a couple of months ago, but the new Legendary Comic Book Heroes formally debuted at this weeks fair. Continuing with the build-a-figure popularized by Toy Biz/Marvel Toys (for me the epitome was the "Sentinel Series"), the first series in the new line will be the "Pitt Series". This'll consist of Judge Dredd, Rip Claw, Super Patriot, Madman, and Savage Dragon.

I'm pretty stoked about this, because even though the only entry I was hyped about was Judge Dredd, Savage Dragon (no originally part of the first series) has been wisely moved up, Madman is one of those "I-don't-need-to-be-a-fan-because-the-sculpt-is-wicked-cool", and Pitt, as a build-a-figure (and like the "Sentinel Series"), is enough to get me to try to track down all 5 (and at least it's not like six or eight pieces, like the previous Marvel Legends series).

Series 2, the "Monkey Man Series", will consist of Stryker, Ann O'Brien, Marv, Judge Death, Darkness, and Star, with the latter 3 being my main interest. But that may change.

The Marvel Toys Conan stuff looks cool, too.

DC Direct:

DC Direct, like Marvel Select or Diamond Select, produces some good stuff. Unlike those latter two, the overall quality can be kind of hit-or-miss.

This year at the fair, they're pretty much "hit".

You can catch a slide show of this year's offerings over at DC Comics, but my favorites:

  • Justice Series 6 Green Lantern, Batman, Scarecrow (figures)
  • Lex Luthor and robot 2-pack (Justice League Unlimited) (figures)
  • BATMAN: Series 1 Batman, Joker (figures)
  • MINI-MATES: Series 5: Guy Gardner & Killlowog 2-Pack (actually, all the new DC Mini-Mates look slick)
  • BATMAN BY ALEX ROSS (statue)
  • DR. FATE HELMET (prop replica)
  • AFRO SAMURAI: Kuma 6" (figures)
  • All of the WORLD OF WARCRAFT: SERIES 1 (figures)
  • All Ame-Comi Super Heroines (Super Girl, Bat Girl, Power Girl, Catwoman, and variants) statuettes are embarrassingly hot
I'm having trouble getting behind the BATMAN: Series 1 Ninja Manbat and Damian, or SUPERMAN: Series 1 anything. And I'm not really into statues (can't play with 'em), but the ones I mention above look cool.

Diamond Select:

Diamond Select is putting out a Marvel Zombies line of 7-inch figures. First up is zombie Spidey ("with a comic-accurate removable leg"). Even cooler, sounds like Diamond is going the way of the build-a-figure, and this series is -- Zombie Silver Surfer!


Star Wars was the first license for LEGO, and they're celebrating 30 years with the franchise. Releases including the Ultimate Collector LEGO Star Wars Millennium Falcon (largest LEGO model ever made available to consumers) and "nine new building sets that represent characters, scenes and vehicles from every Star Wars episode". There are also two release-related contests -- "These are the Droids You're Looking For" (find a special-edition metallic gold C-3PO mini figure; find one, and be entered to win something special); and a LEGO Star Wars Movie Making Contest.


Toynami rocks. They're releasing a bunch, but my favorite is the Futurama I-Men boxed set (Fry, Bender, Leela, Zoidberg, Professor Farnsworth and the Robot Devil).


Hasbro's rebooting the 3.75" G.I.JOE figures -- classic looks with today's toy tech making. Which means oodles of articulation (and hopefully fewer broken thumbs). Looking at Snake Eye and Cobra Commander, it's going to be hard for me not to buy into these.

McFarlane Toys:

A bunch of announcements from Todd McFarlane, which is cool if you're a fan. I'm not a fan, because I don't consider most of his stuff "toys"or "figures". They're detailed, and pretty cool looking, but I think they're deceitfully marketed as "figures", because most are as articulated as rocks.


Mattel gets my "Worst-named Toy" award -- the "Easy For Me 1-2-3 Doll".


That's it for now. Maybe more later. And I'm trying to avoid any info or picts about movie tie-ins (primarily Spider-Man 3 and Transformers), because I don't like movies ruined for me.

Head over to places like Action Figure Insider and CollectionDX for more coverage.

And, no, I'm not going to buy all of this stuff.

This joke has probably been made, but are there in-action figures?

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