Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Universal Monsters Funko POP – The Wolf Man

Even a man who is pure in heart
and says his prayers by night
may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms
and the autumn moon is bright.

The Wolf Man, 1941

Werewolves – my favourite mythical (OR ARE THEY?) creature. Yet strangely enough, I’ve never actually seen the Universal Movie that this POP is based on! I used to own it, but through various circumstances no longer have it, and have yet to track down another copy.

Nonetheless, Lon Chaney Jr’s makeup is among the most iconic in horror cinema, and it’s a werewolf, which makes this an essential POP purchase. The sculpt on the Wolf Man is great! They’ve really captured the look of the character, while sticking to a cool and cutesy form. It’s up there with The Creature from the Black Lagoon, who is possibly my favourite overall POP.

His body is crafted from multiple pieces – one for the torso, one for the legs and separate arms. Funko has really been moving away from its original base body of late, which I have mixed feelings about. It’s definitely appropriate for some characters, but the problem is that a lot of older POPs are beginning to look a little ordinary by comparison, with their rigid pose.  

The paint is several cuts above most Funko POPs – there are a couple of fuzzy spots, but the only real notable weak points are the claws on his feet and the ragged pant legs, both of which are entirely forgivable.   

Final verdict? I’m thrilled with this POP – he’s instantly become one of my favourites. And as a side note, Funko would really be doing themselves a disservice if they didn’t do a 2010 repaint of the mould.  

Pic from Amazon

Friday, 12 December 2014

Autobot Prowl (Transformers X Loyal Subjects Series 2)

In the last couple of years, The Loyal Subjects have created vinyl toys based on a few 1980s properties, including G.I. Joe, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the subject of today’s review, TRANSFORMERS!

The Loyal Subjects have now released two series of blind-boxed Transformers, all of them styled with a super-deformed, chibi-esque experience. As is pretty much always the case with these things, it’s yielded mixed results – some of the characters look awesome rendered in this style, while others just look a bit rubbish.

Prowl is somewhere in-between. I don’t have any great love for the character (being more of a Decepticons guy) and generally tend to prefer TFs with faceplates or inhuman heads. So Shockwave or one of the planes would have been great; Prowl is certainly not the worst in the series, but he wouldn’t have been in my top 3 choices. 

When it comes to vinyl toys, my paint expectations tend to be quite low – I mostly buy Funko stuff – but after buying the Kidrobot Raphael, I’ve come to have substantially higher expectations. Unfortunately, they weren't quite met in this case. The tampographs are pretty cleanly executed, but there’s some sloppy paint work that detracts from the overall look – it’s not clean and clearly defined, the way (I think) it should be. One of the red prongs on his head was also slightly bent out of the box, but it seems to have straightened out since. 

Prowl is surprisingly articulated. I knew he moved at the arms and the neck, but there’s actually a bit more – his wrists and shoulders are balljointed, as are his legs. His neck technically moves too, but his chin restricts it from moving much.

NB: When you open one of these guys, they’re split in half at the waist. You need to screw the lower half of the body into the torso – though it looks like a balljoint, it won’t actually pop in.

The articulation is nice in theory, but to be quite honest, articulation is not my main concern when it comes to these designer toys. For me, they need to look cool first and foremost, and be functional as a secondary concern. If they can do both, that’s great! But on this occasion I think they would have been better off cutting out a few joints and doing it Funko Pop or Kidrobot style – one, or just a couple of points of articulation, but not so much that it would make the end result kind of on the fragile side.   

Prowl comes with one accessory – his gun. It’s kind of nice, and in theory I would pass it to one of my “regular” Transformers, if the peg fit their hands (it's too thin).  

Overall, I’m disappointed with the figure. He’s far from horrible, but I think the articulation could be better incorporated. Couple this with the fact that I think $15-20AUD for one of these is far too much to be paying for a blind packaged figure, and I don’t think I’ll be buying from this particular line in the foreseeable future. 

Monday, 8 December 2014

Lego Review – Santa at the Beach (Toys R Us Promo Set)

Set number: N/A
Pieces: 43
Build time: 10 min

Year: 2014


I was calling past my local Toys R Us over the weekend, and they were having a Lego build event on. This happens semi-regularly, but they’re often centred on themes I don’t have a lot of interest in. However, I noticed that this one was Christmas-themed, and thought I should inquire. A few minutes later, I found myself walking out of the store with the set in a plastic baggie – apparently they had some spare, so I scored one for free! Thank you Toys R Us!


While this is ostensibly Santa, he’s been given a pirate bandanna headpiece, rather than a “Santa Hat” like the Minfigures Series 8 Santa. His face looks a little grumpy beneath the beard. His suit is plan red, with no decorations to indicate it’s specifically a Santa suit – so he kind of looks like a bikie who happens to be wearing a red suit rather than the traditional conception of Santa, though he’s still recognisable as such.

He comes with two accessories, a transparent greenish-yellow ice block and a red mug. The ice block can be stored in the esky if so desired and the mug can sit on the table.


Quick and simple to put together, the set sits on a beige baseplate, imitating sand. Atop it sits a red and yellow-striped sunbed, which is cool but a bit too long for minifigures, an esky (which opens and closes) and a table which sits next to the sunbed.


Santa himself is a little lacklustre, but overall this is a cool little set. It’s quick to build, and could be used with any number of minifigures. It’s probably a little difficult to track down, and I probably wouldn’t recommend spending much to do so, but it typifies what a good exclusive Lego set should be – fun, but not essential.    

Saturday, 6 December 2014

The Lupine Book Club Sunday Afternoon Reader -- Part 2

More Sunday Afternoon reading! Let's get into it. See the Part 1 for an explanation of what I mean by Sunday Afternoon reading, should you require one.

Messages – Stan Romanek (2009)

Pic from Amazon.com
A few months ago, my dad leant my sister this book. She’s currently undertaking her PhD in psychology, so my dad was interested to hear what she thought about it from a psychological perspective. So I decided I’d have a read as well.

One of the main points which distinguish the book from the hundreds of others like it is that author Stan Romanek seems to have accrued a number of photos, as well as some video footage, of his abductors. Unfortunately, many of them do not seem to have made it into the book. I can appreciate that there are space considerations, but it does his story no favours when he talks about amazing photos he’s taken, then doesn’t include them. And to put it rather bluntly, regardless of where you sit on the sceptic/believer spectrum, the included photos are not going to impress. The same applies to his footage of “Boo” (one of a number of named aliens in the book) which you can view here.

Still, Messages is an entertaining, enjoyable read, and – whether true or not – a good introduction to the main tropes of UFO abduction phenomena. One of my sister's thoughts, incidentally, was that whether or not anything real had happened, he probably needed some counselling for stress.

Lego Batman – The Visual Dictionary

Pic from Amazon.com
I bought this while overseas in 2013 – I figured 5 pounds was pretty good for a Lego-related book and Batman minifigure. The book was definitely worthwhile -- covering the Batman and (DC) Super Heroes Lego from 2006 through to 2012, it naturally inspires a great deal of regret that I wasn’t paying more attention to Lego around this time (not that I could have afforded it back then anyway). Though a lot of licensed Lego is a mixed bag, the Batman theme in particular generated some really cool sets. Additionally, there are curiosities such as a prototype of Wonder Woman’s invisible plane – which will be showing up in 2015, albeit it different form.

Unfortunately, the minifigure was pretty disappointing in comparison to the book. Based on the Electro Suit from the 2008 Lego Batman video game, they’ve used the flimsy plastic that sometimes turns up in the Minifigures theme, the helmet doesn’t fit properly and he's missing the backpack that he has in the game. Nonetheless, when considered as a package, it’s definitely money well spent. No regrets about this one.  

Mysteries of the Unknown: The UFO Phenomenon (1987)

Pic from Amazon.com

I mentioned this book in the previous instalment of the Sunday Afternoon Reader. Of the two, I think it is the better, with more impressive illustrations, and an overall more unsettling tone. But of course, ideally you’d own both, even if they do cover some very similar territory.

A classy looking faux-leather cover, lots of metallic ink printing and many entertaining stories add up to make this one a winning combination. 

The only downside is that now I feel like I need to track down a copy of Mysterious Creatures, which was another excellent one from the series. It's still available reasonably easily, so it may be one to track down in the new year.

Ninja: 1,000 Years of the Shadow Warrior -- John Man (2013)

Pic from Amazon.com
As we get older, there are certain beliefs we held as children that need to be challenged. One of them is the idea that ninjas were black-clad badasses who pretty much went around chopping people's heads off and then disappearing in clouds of smoke, leaving any survivors in awe of their near-supernatural abilities.

Sadly, this wasn't the case, and it's a shock I think most men struggle to come to terms with. It's way worse than finding out Santa isn't real. I don't think I've quite dealt with it yet, and so I cling to characters from my past like Storm Shadow and Raphael -- ninjas who do live up to my exceedingly high expectations.

Ninja dispels a lot of legends surrounding the titular warrior-clan, but it also contains enough sensationalism to keep the interest inflamed throughout the course of the book. Importantly, it shows that for everything we do know about the ninjas, there's a buttload more that we don't know -- after all, what we do know seems to indicate that they were deliberately secretive...in the meantime, I'll probably continue to use outrageous pop culture interpretations to fill in the blanks.

That wraps it up for another installment of Sunday Afternoon Reading -- Part 3 will hopefully not take as long to arrive as Part 2 has!

If there's a particular book you'd like me to look at in the future, post in the comments and I'll do my best. You can also visit the Lupine Book Club on Facebook. Click here!