Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Funko POP! Animation: Peanuts – Olaf

Company: Funko
Series: Animation
Year: 2015


Snoopy and Charlie Brown are the faces of the Peanuts franchise, but it actually has quite an extensive supporting cast. Probably not one big enough to rival The Simpsons, but if you watched the recent Peanuts Movie (or Charlie Brown and Snoopy Movie as it was known in Australia) you would have recognised a lot of familiar faces from the comic strip.
And one of those faces was the subject of today’s review – Olaf, Snoopy’s decidedly chunkier brother. Yep, Snoopy has a brother. Several, in fact, though Olaf is one of the few who’s made prominent appearances in the strip.


Olaf debuted back in 1989 as the disappointed winner of the “Ugly Dog” contest, and went on to make multiple appearances in both the strip and the animated specials over the following years. In spite of his supposedly ugly appearance, he’s actually quite endearingly cute – though he could probably do with losing a few kilos. You can read the whole thing starting from here. In typical Peanuts fashion, it’s quite funny, but is also very depressing in parts – particularly when we see Olaf’s reactions to his “win”.       
I’m not really clear why he was the first character outside of the main range to be included. I would have thought one of the human characters, like Peppermint Patty, would have been a more obvious inclusion. Olaf does appear in the recent film, but it’s very brief – and the more obvious choice for one of Snoopy’s brothers would have been Spike, who’s much more prominent in the comics. I’m pleased with their choice, but it is an unusual one.

In terms of execution, Olaf looks like a fat Snoopy, wearing a brown hunting cap and with a pink tongue slightly protruding from his mouth. His eyes are also painted half-closed, reinforcing the overall hefty feel. It’s a simple design, but it works. Like his brother, Olaf is frequently drawn in a position that would be ¾ profile in real life – you can’t replicate that exactly in plastic, but I think it’s just slightly truer to the character than Snoopy ended up being. Well done, Funko!  

Paint is cleanly executed, but check yours in person before buying. I've seen some with fuzz around the nose and eyes -- and the hat is actually cast in white, then painted brown, so making sure the hat is properly covered is quite important.   


Olaf was a Target exclusive in the US, so I wasn’t sure if he’d actually make it over here – he was reselling for silly money not long after his release last year. But he’s now made his way to Australia as a regular release via Popcultcha. I’ve also seen him in Kinokuniya in Sydney, though not anywhere else.


For Peanuts fans, this is a must-have POP. Olaf hasn’t had a lot of merch over the years, and it’s always good to see more. If this one sells well, hopefully we’ll also eventually get Spike!  More casual fans can probably give him a miss – but he is pretty endearing in person. 

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Funko Mystery Minis Horror Classics Series 2: Cthulhu (Glow version)

Company: Funko
Series: Mystery Minis Horror Classics Series 2
Year: 2015

Back in October last year, I posted an article about how I ended up with a Cthulhu Mystery Mini. That article ended up being one of my most popular articles last year, for whatever reason. You may or may not recall that I mentioned that Cthulhu was quite a rare figure in the series, being packed at a 1/24 ratio -- but there was an even rarer variant...a glow in the dark one! 

That article I've linked back to above covers the details about the sculpt; I don't really need to repeat them here. The primary difference with this guy is that he's been moulded in glow-in-the-dark plastic. The only paint apps included this time around are the white for his eyes, and the grey that surrounds them. All of the spots and splotches are gone, with the plastic left bare to glow. And glow he does, lighting up the room by night.  

This Cthulhu is a good example of a variant -- he's fun, but not essential, and acts a complementary piece to the original, rather than detracting from the fun. In the past the Mystery Minis have made some really unusual (and irritating) choices in their series ratios, but with the exception of Hellraiser's Pinhead being a 1/72 figure, I think Funko did a pretty good job with this one. An enjoyable, but not essential addition to the collection.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Transformers Generations: Combiner Wars – Swindle

Company: Hasbro
Year: 2015

I haven’t reviewed a Transformer in quite a while, but I have a couple more planned for the next couple of weeks…including one particularly big one that’s been eyeing me off from the shelf for a few months.

Though I’m definitely not all-in on the line, Combiner Wars continues to go from strength to strength with the release of the component Decepticons for Bruticus. Bruticus and his component Decepticons received figures relatively recently, during the 2012 Fall of Cybertron subline of Generations. However, as these were based on the game, they weren’t very G1-looking, and the actual execution got a bit of a mixed reception. But truth be told, I don’t remember Bruticus at all from my younger years of Transformers fandom. I don’t remember seeing any of his component toys (maybe Blast Off), as by the time I was old enough to really be interested in Transformers, the G2 re-releases were the ones on store shelves. Bruticus got one in 1994, long after they’d dropped off my radar.

Basically, Swindle is new territory for me, so you get to undertake the magical voyage of discovery with me. Apparently Swindle is a heavy retool of Rook (the Protectron), but they’ve done an impressive job of making him look totally different. He transforms between ‘bot and some kind of army jeep, just like the G1 version, but is now a little less squat and obviously a lot more articulated. The articulation is pretty much what you'd expect, and he moves very well. The main noteworthy feature is that he seems to have some sort of side-to-side swivel on his ankles -- it's surprisingly not part of his transformation, but it helps him stay balanced for deeper poses.   

On another note, I tend to prefer my Transformers without humanoid faces, but the purple sunglasses are a nice 80s retro-futuristic throwback, which in my book gives him an edge over some of his other befaced Decepticons.        

Swindle’s colour scheme is a nice desert camouflage in vehicle mode, but when you transform him to bot mode he’s actually got a lot of black and purple, along with a bit of dark, metallic grey. It’s not dissimilar to the colour scheme the Constructicons had back in G2, though somewhat more realistically executed (though I use this term loosely as realism doesn’t really factor in to Transformers). But speaking of G2, there will apparently be a G2 colour scheme repaint box set of Bruticus later this year too – I think I’ll pass on that one though, it’s a little too 90s neon for my tastes.      

And for those who like the mould but not Decepticons or the colour scheme, you’re in luck! Swindle has undergone a further retool to become Autobot Hound, who's be part of Sky Reign (who looks awesome, by the way).

In addition to his gun and his hand/foot piece for becoming part of Bruticus, Swindle is also packed with a copy of Robots in Disguise #12, which has been rebranded as Combiner Wars #4. It’s a good read – and reminds me that I need to pick up some of the IDW compilation – even if it doesn’t actually include Swindle in there. Still, that’s oddly appropriate, given that Swindle’s characterisation is all about ripping people off.   

I don’t plan to complete Bruticus; his combined form is pretty cool, but some of the regular bots just don’t grab me. But overall, Swindle is a great standalone character for any Decepticon collection. And even if you don't want Bruticus, he still works as a Cyclonus limb too.   

Saturday, 14 May 2016

76063 Lego Mighty Micros: The Flash vs Captain Cold

Every now and then I have to remind myself that Lego is largely designed with children in mind, rather than the AFOLs. When the Mighty Micros range was first announced, I was actually quite excited. The character line-up was a good one, and featured a few characters who were either discontinued or had only been featured in sets that were rather expensive. These would be a great way to plug a few gaps in my DC and Marvel collections, and the spare bricks from the karts could be tossed aside into a box somewhere, never to be seen again. 

But then I discovered that they would be using the short minifigure legs instead of the regular ones. I was very disappointed – this was one geared much more heavily at kids than adults. I mean, it works for Robin, but who else would want a short Flash, or Catwoman? And the funny thing is, I would have HATED the core concept as a child. Why would The Flash have a car/go-kart when he’s the fastest man alive? Did Captain Cold ever have a Zamboni-eqsue vehicle in the comics? Granted, I didn’t understand marketing, cost vs profit, or being deliberately (cynically?) toyetic as a kid, but the variant versions of main characters that have no basis in comics or other media drove me up the wall as a child. I suspect I’m not the only one, either – really, if you give just about anyone the choice between a regular Batman or some kind of bizarre armour variant, you’d probably pick the regular one, I’m guessing? Which is part – though not the entire – of the reason that so many media-based action figure lines pegwarm for months after the film has gone from cinemas.

I digress. I didn’t see myself with any other options for a Flash or Captain Cold minifigure anytime soon, so I decided to bite the bullet while I was in the States recently. These guys have been selling out left, right and centre in Australia, so obviously the kids do like them; and I have to say they’ve grown on me a lot after getting them out of the box.

After that lengthy rant, let’s discuss the actual product. The core conceit behind the Mighty Micros concept is that a bunch of Marvel and DC characters are having Mario Kart-style races against one another. They’re paired up in hero/villain teams (and before anyone points it out, yes I know Catwoman isn’t really a villain these days).

The karts are loosely themed around the character driving them. Captain Cold’s looks like a Zamboni, which is kind of fun even outside of the context of this set. There’s not enough Lego love for ice hockey these days. The Flash’s is a red kart-thing, with flames trailing out the back. It doesn’t really look like anything specific but it works – and the flames do give the impression that he is much, much faster than his rival. As is key for any toy car, both designs are very swooshable. And given the inherent fragility of plenty of Lego sets, rougher kids than I could probably have a pretty hectic demolition derby. 

Additionally, both are paired with loosely relevant accessories. Captain Cold gets his usual Cold Gun, and an ice-cream cone, while Flash gets a can of “Power Bolt”, which is presumably some kind of energy drink. This is continued across other sets, in mostly logical fashion – Red Skull gets the Tesseract, Catwoman gets a carton of milk, and Hulk for some obscure reason gets a chicken drumstick.   


I like the concept, and it seems to be selling well – but I really wish they’d used regular minifigure legs instead of the short ones we got instead. As mentioned above, it would have been a great way to make more obscure/previously released but rare characters more readily available – as it is, it's a fun novelty. 

Funko Mystery Minis: Frankenstein’s Monster (Horror Classics Series 2)

Company: Funko
Series: Mystery Minis Horror Classics Series 2
Year: 2015

It’s been a while between Mystery Mini reviews, and I still have a couple more I need to get up onto the site. But today we take a look at one of the most iconic creatures in horror history – Frankenstein’s Monster! 

As with just about every piece of merchandise based on Frankenstein’s Monster released since the 1930s, this figurine is clearly based on Boris Karloff’s iteration of The Monster. Karloff played many famous monsters in his long career, but The Monster is the one that made him a star, and the one he’s still most closely associated with. The character’s prominent place in pop culture also means that it’s going to be subject to an extra level of scrutiny – and he does come up a little shorter than some of his fellow Mystery Mini companions. I don’t love the shade of green they’ve used for his skin – it’s bordering on aqua, rather than the usual sort of sickly lime green. And while the sculpt is a good conversion of the character into the Mystery Minis style, I think his arms should be more stretched out in front of him, rather than being held daintily at an awkward angle by his sides.   

So the overall verdict? Well, Frankenstein’s Monster is a good Mystery Mini, but not a great one. If you’re tossing up between this one and the Funko POP, I’d say stick with the POP. Solid but unspectacular.   

Monday, 9 May 2016

POP! Rides – The Invisible Jet with Wonder Woman

Company: Funko
Series: POP! Rides
Year: 2016


Plenty of superheroes get around in vehicles, but few of them ever attain the iconic status of something like the Batmobile. But carving out its own little niche of campy success over the years has been Wonder Woman’s Invisible Plane.

Though Wonder Woman can fly, how well/how long/how high has been pretty loosely defined over the decades. Apparently she could initially ride wind currents, but the plane was still necessary for long-distance travel. Since the mid-1980s (post-Crisis On Infinite Earths) she can now just straight-up fly like Superman, so the Invisible Jet doesn’t get as much exposure in the comics or associated media as it used to. Nonetheless, it’s still a big part of the Wonder Woman mythos; it’s pretty silly in a post-Image Comics world, but it’s also pretty fun.    

This set seems to be based on the Lynda Carter TV series, which makes sense as it got quite a bit of screentime there. The box art uses the same style of font as the TV series title card, though this had also been used on the comic for many years prior. But let’s just roll with that; I’ve been hoping they’d do a Lynda Carter version of the character for a couple of years now.

The Invisible JetTHE RIDE

The first thing I should note here is this thing’s box is BIG – I’m pretty sure that it’s the biggest Ride box Funko have yet done. Though the vehicle itself isn’t especially large once it’s assembled, you’ll need a bit of space if you plan on keeping it in the box.  

Side note: In a few places on the box, the name has been misspelt as “The Inivisibile Jet”. Whoops.

Though the package it gives off the vibe of being based on the TV show, the Jet’s design is actually more reminiscent of the Super Powers cartoon than the Lynda Carter one. Though both are kind of campy and silly in retrospect, I think the SP one was a good choice; it’s a smoother design and has a few more little details that keep it interesting. And hey, it’s invisible, so who’s to say that didn’t really look like this anyway? The only real downside is that the left wing has a bunch of copyright information moulded into it, which breaks up the smoothness of the look a little.    


The Wonder Woman POP itself is worlds better than original WW POP released all those years ago; it’s a totally new sculpt, cast in several different pieces. It’s not radically different at first glance, but it’s been a little slimmed down, and her hair has been lengthened and straightened. The overall design is very reminiscent of the costume that Lynda Carter wore back in Series 1 of the 1970s TV series. And if you’re not fussed on the show, it serves just as well as a comics-based version.


Paint is obviously non-existent for the Invisible Jet, but it’s quite good for the POP itself. Virtually everything wrong with the last one has been addressed here – lines are cleanly executed, the stars on her trunks are crisp and neat, and there’s very little bleed or slop. The star on her tiara is a little off, but it’s overall such an improvement that at this point it’s tempting to take the old one and through it into the bin in a rage.    


This is my first foray into the POP! Rides series; I flirted with the Turtle Van, but was never able to convince myself as I knew it would mean going all in on all of the other Turtles POPs that had been released. Cool as they are, I don’t need to collect another series of POPS. On this occasion, I’m really glad I took the plunge; the inherently silly nature of the vehicle lends itself well to the POP style, and it’s a great tribute to an important facet of the character. With Wonder Woman’s greatly increased profile thanks to the recent release of Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, it’s an ideal time for release too.

This POP! Ride has been selling out all over Sydney, so you’ll probably have to order it online as I did. Zing is apparently stocking them, but EB Games only had them as a preorder; I ended up getting mind from Popcultcha, which meant I couldn’t check the paint personally but was better than risking not getting it at all. Well worth the investment if you’re a Wonder Woman fan. 

Friday, 6 May 2016

Marvel Legends: Captain America (Red Skull Onslaught BAF)

As some regular readers will know, I recently paid a visit to the good ol’ U.S.A., and had an absolutely fantastic time while I was there. It’s a wonderful country. And when you visit a new place, you should bring back a souvenir. I have two tiki mugs from my time in Hawaii, and scotch glasses from Tasmania, for instance. But America was trickier – U.S.A. shirts/mugs/pint glasses/hip flasks/flags were all in abundance, but I don’t tend to go for something so obvious. But it just didn’t feel right leaving America without buying something patriotic. And then I stumbled across this gem in Gamestop. 

But why a Captain America figure? Sure, it’s overtly American, but what makes it stand out more than any other one? Read on to discover more…


This is a comics-based Cap, complete with pirate boots. It’s much more spandex superhero than military tactician, and could be from virtually any Cap comic from the 1970s through to the 1990s. I’m sure the face is based on someone’s art, but I’m pretty sure it’s also reused from an earlier figure – maybe one of the Captain America: Winter Soldier waves? I only own a handful of ML figures, so I can’t pinpoint it with accuracy. More familiar readers should feel free to chime in the comments section.

Articulation is what you’d expect from an ML figure – ball-jointed and hinged neck, swivel-hinge biceps, ab crunch, double elbows, swivel-hinge wrists, cut waist, ball-jointed hips, cut thighs, souble-jointed knees, cut calves (for the boots) and rocker ankles. I believe this is slightly more than some figures get – I don’t think everyone has the double elbows, but everything else seems pretty consistent with the other ML figures I’ve bought. Some of the joints will be a little stiff at first, but if you;re careful you shouldn't have any issues. Though speaking of the double elbows – I know some people love them, but I don’t think it works as well as it should here. The forearms are cast in white, in a softer plastic than the rest of the body. I assume this is to accommodate the slightly-flared gloves, but it makes the joints a little trickier to move. I’ve also had a little of the red paint rub off on one of the gloves too, though fortunately it can be covered with the shield.    

Accessories that aren’t crappy oversized missile launchers are becoming an increasingly rarity in the action figure world, so it’s nice to get some at all. There are:

*Two additional hands, including a pointing one: Cap sure does love to point, especially in the movies, so it’s a good inclusion. Jon at Preternia suggests that this is the first time a comics-based Cap has had this hand, which just seems crazy to me! Oh well; the toy industry works in mysterious ways. He's also got one that allows him to salute too, as seen at right.  

*His signature shield: Naturally. I suspect it’s more reuse from another figure, and can be clipped to his forearm or stored in the plughole on his back. Both look pretty good.

*One other accessory: which I’ll get to in just a moment…

*He also comes with a BAF piece: Onslaught’s cape. I don’t have any real desire to complete the BAF (though it does look cool) so I think this will go be going on eBay shortly.

There’s one other thing I should mention, too – I’m not sure if they’re meant to be accessories, but he does also come with two shoulder straps. They’re attached to him in the packaging, and they look really cool in place – I assumed they’d be a conjoined piece, with a strap running across the back. However, they're separate pieces, so as soon as you move him, they fall off. There doesn’t appear to be any sensible way to keep them on, short of gluing them, and then you might even manage to ruin the articulation of the shoulders in the process. It’s a bit of a misfire, which is a shame – had it worked properly it would have been a nice bit of detailing. As it is, they’ll just go in the accessories box.  

Totally useless


Paint is very…adequate. As you can probably see in the photos, they did his eyes properly, but everything else leaves a bit to be desired – the wings, his chin, the skin lines around his mask – it could probably be fixed by someone with a dream and a paintbrush, but it does seem unusually sloppy. There was only one on the shelf, so I didn’t have multiple options to pick from – if you do, I’d suggest you weigh up some different ones before picking it up. As to the rest of him – well, Cap’s costume in the comics is all about extreme contrasts, mimicking the colours of the American flag. It works very well on the printed page, but as anyone who’s ever done any painting knows, red paint over white paint can run into some issues. I’m already mentioned some rub on one of the gloves above, but I can see this being an issue for anyone who fiddles around with the ab-crunch too much as well. I had some very (admittedly minor) chipping, so just be careful.   


So, I’ve told you a lot about the figure, but I haven’t revealed the real reason I bought it. After all, it’s a pretty standard Cap figure so far, isn’t it? Well, remember I mentioned there was one another accessory? Here it is!

Possibly the best thing you'll see this year

That’s right, it’s a Capwolf head.

Many of you will no doubt be asking what the hell this is, and that’s a fair question. Well, to grossly simplify, comics were crazy in the 1990s. Marvel and DC were selling gangbusters, but younger players like Image were a real sales threat – so Marvel and DC threw everything they could to compete; the EDGIER the better. Hence why Superman died, Green Lantern became evil, Wolverine was in every Marvel (and some DC ones) and Captain America became a werewolf. CAPWOLF.  
I’ve never read the relevant issues, but I don’t need to. All I need to know is that Captain America became a werewolf. In fact, reading it would probably ruin everything – comics tend to date pretty quickly, and I strongly suspect time has not been kind to the 90s-tasticness of this concept.
Taken as a whole, the figure is not accurate to the comic – the neck looks a little thin, there’s no torn up boots or costume, and no clawed gloves. But the fact that Hasbro gave a nod to this relatively forgotten and ridiculous piece of Cap’s history in action figure form was just too good an American souvenir to pass up – and hey, I love wolves. In case you hadn’t noticed, the blog is called the Lupine Book Club. Even better, there is no reference to Capwolf on the packaging. The head just sits there in the box as an accessory, no doubt leaving many to just ponder on what it all means.


Thanks to the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there have now been almost as many Captain America figures on the shelves as Spider-Man and Batman ones – no small accomplishment. This is a good, solid standard Cap for a kid who’s never had a figure of him before, but the true strength of the figure for more long-term collectors lies in the Capwolf head and the pointing hand accessory. With such heavy reliance on variations of Captain America (and Iron Man for that matter), Hasbro and Marvel alike are going to have to get pretty creative to hold the interest of consumers and retailers alike. Figures like this are definite steps in the right direction.   

Sunday, 1 May 2016

POP! Heroes – New 52 Aquaman (PX Previews Exclusive)

Company: Funko
Series: Heroes DC Universe
Year: 2013 (?)

When I started collecting POPs back in 2013, I was pretty darn sure I didn’t want an Aquaman POP. He was pretty readily available, but he was easily the least desirable of the Justice League members available at the time. So I passed him up, thinking if I ever changed my mind I’d just pick him up then – after all, he was a core member of the Justice League, they’d keep him in production indefinitely, wouldn’t they?

Well, as anyone who’s since tried to track him down since can attest, the answer is “NO!!!”, accompanied by a swift blow to the testicles. Regular Aquaman came and went in a relative blink of an eye. The New 52 versions of him, GL, Flash, Supes, Batman and Wonder Woman showed up in Sydney stores back in about mid-2013 and sold through just as rapidly. Most of them started popping up again in the last few months – and Aquaman wasn’t among the restocks, either. I resigned myself to using a BvS Aquaman for my Justice League, as reviewed here. This was fine and all, but wasn’t ideal.

Yet it seemed that the chase wasn’t over; While visiting New York, I found myself in the Midtown Comics store near Times Square, and this guy was lurking on the shelves there. Huzzah!

Now, when most of the New 52 versions of some previously-released POPs came out, they reused the same sculpts and slightly altered the paint. Aquaman was different, though – gone was the Shazam head, replaced instead with a new hair sculpt. The body remains the same, though it’s been upgraded to a slightly different paint job – gold on the scales instead of orange.

And on the topic of paint, this one is pretty cleanly executed. Last year I bought the metallic version of Deathstroke, and I was disappointed to discover that his back hadn’t been painted properly, so I was afraid the same thing would happen with Aquaman’s scales here. But fortunately it’s been done properly here, as you can see in the back picture below.  

Aquaman didn’t exactly blow me away, but it is quite satisfying to have found him. The Jason Momoa figure is a great take on him (and really, quite a bit better in terms of sculpting and design) but there’s something appealing about having all of the classics too.