Friday, February 19, 2010

Bandai Marvel Heroes 3 Wolverine: The End

Around 3 years ago when i went to Macau, i spent some money on those toys on the round balls called gashapons. I bought some Dragon Ball gashapons, thinking that i might want to start collecting them, and those sexy female things..since i am a man. After coming back home, i lost interest in them afterwards. Never buying another piece. But when i started collecting Wolverine figures one of the first things that really caught my attention was the Marvel Heroes Wolverines that might or might not have been gashapons but pretty much everyone in the forums call them that. Those figures never reached our shores so people who bought those things resorted to buying from hobby shops that inflated their prices. I saw these once but the problem was that they sell it by set so i never bit. But then last night i went to this hobby shop i frquently visit that sells a Bowen Brown Wolverine Bust Replica, i always try to haggle for that bust but the owner of the shop just won't give. When i came there last night i decided to look at the other things them BOOM, i saw one of the Wolverine (3 have been produced) figures there together with the others from the series Blade, Spidey, Black Cat, Psylocke and Elektra with the white Elektra variant, they were selling it for $8 (P400) which was pretty much a lower price compared to what the other shops were selling it at. I didn't buy it since i tried to get it with the replica bust for P1000 ($20) but the owner didn't want to give it to me at that price. When i got home i realized that i should've bought it already! I went back there only to find out that the owner was willing to give those items for P1000, but i only brought enough money for the gashapon.

The Wolverine gashapon was produced in the year 2005 and it was part of the 3rd series of Marvel Heroes which was produced by a Japanese company called Bandai. They specialize in anime action figures (duh?) such as Dragon Ball and those Gundam figures. All my past gashapons were made by them too. This specific figure was based on the cover of issue one of the mini-series Wolverine: The End. In this mini Wolverine was way past his prime already and then he gets to meet his older brother, John. I won't go into detail over the mini-series since i'm here to review the figure but i found it quite entertaining.

the cover, from the net
As you can see the details on the figure is VERY GOOD. For such a small figure which stands around 3" tall, they were able to cram a lot of sculpt details in it. The details go right down to the down to the holes in the belt and the rips on the pants. Just awesome detail, not even some 6" figs have details like these. Even though they tweaked Wolverine's pose to be able to fit this figure together with the base, the only things that could have made the sculpt closer to the cover was the name "Howlett" on the tombstone and the hair on Wolverine's body, though they were able to create a good looking set of chest hair. The standard problem for Wolverine figs apply here, the class of Wolverine are very soft and easily malleable so it might bend out of shape when not handled or packed carefully. Though this can easily be solved by the hot and cold method.
But i do have a problem with the face sculpt, i remember Wolverine: The End having Wolverine with a long face and small eyes but this one added a bit of anime style in it and made the eyes bigger and the face a bit rounder but it's good that they didn't go all out and went all anime on him. Still nice though, with the sculpted wrinkles adding to the old weathered look.
In terms of paint applications, the figure i have is very nice. The only problem i have with mine is a possible paint chip or smudge on the left knee. Not that noticeable but very irritating once you see it. I just wanted to rub on it until it came out but it just didn't. Other than that, no other problems. For such a small figure they were even able to do things correctly on those parts that are usually problem areas for mass produced figures such as the face and the belt and pants area. The one i have had no such problems and generally all gashapons i had before didn't have this problem either so i'm guessing paint apps for these things are really good.
The figure i got had not so tight sockets, they were in no way loose but they weren't that tight anymore, though i don't know if this is a problem for most of the figs or just mine since it may have gone through quite a lot of building and rebuilding. I think that if the sockets were tight, the places where they are located are very unnoticeable. It's located on the neck, the arms (kinda noticeable on mine), the part that separates the body from the belt and pants, the feet from the base, the tree separates into three and the tombstone from the base and the tree. Overall the locations of the sockets are not distracting enough and i think it's even less if the figure you have doesn't have them loose.The base is very nice too, the only thing i would've changed here was they should've placed a name on the tombstone. Other than that, it's great. There's real nice detail in them too, the cracks on the tombstone, the lines on the tree and even the ground he is standing on itself.

Overall, this figure is actually worth the $7 (P350) i spent on it. Great paint apps and very impressive details that you wouldn't believe would be able to fit into a figure that's around 3-4" tall. The fact that it's actually very hard to find right now makes it all the more worth it. Though action figures collectors might not like this since it has 0 articulation. Another added reason as to why i think this guys are a bit rare is that I actually tried searching for it on ebay and only 3 wolverine gashapons came out (this one and the ultimate version) came out. Google didn't fare much better, after 20 pages the only thing i saw was this gashapon being sold on ebay malaysia. I finally found what i was looking for at the 21st page. Here are the other two Wolverines available together with the other Marvel Gashapons it came out with.

Wolverine came out on the first three Marvel Heroes sets, i have never seen the Tigerstripe Wolverine gashapon in person, the Ultimate one i think i saw being sold together with the Ultimate X-Men as a set.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

X-Force Stat: Bowen or Sideshow?

I'm a huge huge fan of X-Force, and especially Wolverine. So when i heard (and saw the WIPs) that Bowen will come out with a X-Force Wolverine Museum Pose Statue, i quickly decided to start saving up some money in order to get it once it comes out. From what most statue collectors told me; Bowen Statues, especially Wolverines, go for around P10,000 ($200) more or less as long as they're not the faux bronze, chrome paint, etc. editions. With all other expenses for food, dates, toys, comics, and other things i spend money on i think i could save up that much money in around 5 months time so. Then i heard that Sideshow will come out with a X-Force Diorama consisting of Wolverine, X-23, Warpath and Wolfsbane. It'll come out around late 3rd or early 4th quarter of 2010. Since i'm not rich, i'll only be able to get just one of two statues, either the Bowen or the Sideshow. This post will help me decide on which to get.

As of now, i have no statues at all, i only have a few busts around. Three of them are Bowen and i pre-ordered one more and i'm also currently looking for another. I don't really have any favorites among the companies, it's just that Bowen is more accessible to me.
Right of the bat, if you already have the other Bowen Wolverines, you'll notice that the pose is similar to the Unmasked Museum Wolverine released a few years ago. This might be a problem for some of you but it's not for me since i don't own that one (plus, there are more than just minor tweaks between the two). Since this is a WIP shot, i'll forgive Bowen for not fixing the pants. It's visible that it was designed to have the briefs on the outside instead of solid pants that are grey and black.Sideshow meanwhile has already produced promotion pictures, the ones you see on pre-orders and stuff. It's currently around P12,500 ($25o) so it's more expensive than Bowen. The advantage here is that this diorama includes the entire team from the 1st issue of X-Force. It MIGHT also be possible, though highly unlikely, that a second diorama including Domino, Elixir, Archangel, and Vanisher will come out. Both sculpts are probably just from the imagination of the sculptors or whoever since unlike DST, they don't have those comicbook scenes or those straight from the comic sculpts.

Case for Bowen:
- This statue will look good either as a stand alone or together with the other Museum Pose Bowen Wolverines.
- Bowen's known for their relistic approach to sculptic, so Wolverine here looks realistic. The claws aren't too long and his body isn't out of proportion.
- The detail put on the gloves and boots are just wonderful, you could even make out the ridges. The fact that it's only a WIP means more improvements might be ahead.

Case against Bowen:
- The pants, no one will touch this statue (i think) if they don't fix it.
- IF you're looking to complete the team, it might not happen.

Case for Sideshow:
- It's a team diorama which means we'll get more than just one character in a statue, in this case it's four.
- Interchangabel heads for Wolverine (masked or unmasked) plus if you're getting the exclusive, an interchangable Wolfsbane! (either human or wolf form)
- It's right there, you'll get something very similar to what you see in the picture.

Case against Sideshow:
- Design: Wolverine and Warpath's arms looks more fat than muscular. X-23's pose isn't right, she doesn't walk like that.
- Price: a bit more expensive than what i anticipated.

that's it for my pros and cons. As for my decision? i'd love to get both but then i only have to choose one. As of tonight, i'm leaning more towards Bowen. I just think that the way X-23 is sculpted ruins the entire statue. The arms i could stand, but X-23 is doing the model walk on Sideshow's dio. Plus i think it would've been better if they just stuck with Action pose or Museum pose, not mix it together in one diorama. Thousgh i MIGHT be forced to get it if Bowen doesn't do anything about the pants problem. I'm not saying you should follow my decision, it's up to you if you prefer one over the other. This is just my opinion i'm trying to share. But i'll be ahppier if i found a way to secure both stats that's for sure.

Monday, February 15, 2010

House of M. Some thoughts.

House of M happened around 5 years ago. It was Marvel's major crossover for 2005. That was a time when i wasn't able to read comic books anymore. After 5 years, i was finally able to read the crossover (i pretty much read the entire Civil War, including the tie-ins).From what i have read from Wolverine's and the main book itself, it's actually quite good. It was Scarlet Witch pretty much going crazy and altering the course of the world. Granting the desires of most (if not all) people. Bust most importantly, Magneto's dream of Homo Superiors domination over Homo Sapiens. The only hitch was that Wanda might (since i'm not sure) have created another girl who knew about the real reality and Wolverine's desire was to remember EVERYTHING (and be like Nick Fury). I didn't think the story was forced, the only problem for me was that they didn't try to go deeper on what Jessica Drew said, about what was so wrong about what happened. Since i only read the main book and Wolverine's part, i'm not sure i picked up all of it. Unlike Civil War, this major crossover had little effects on the "status quo" other than wiping out the mutants. I'm just wondering how Scarlet Witch selected which mutants get to keep their powers. I'm also interested in knowing how Prof. X, Magneto, and Iceman get their powers back.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Hunt for Mr. Sinister! Marvel Superhero Squad Pack.

When Wolverine's movie came out May last year, a whole slew of Wolverine movie related toys came out. I only started August last year so i missed their releases, most of them didn't sell or maybe they just ordered a LOT that's why up until now a lot of them are still in the pegs. I saw a lot of them being sold on ebay and in the local forum going around P450-P600 at first, didn't really bite on any of them since i felt that they were going to go on sale anyway. I only bought a three of them (the 3.75" brown wolverine, tigerstripe wolverine, and the weapon x w/ chamber) when they were sold on a real low price, P300($6) for the single carded ones and P450 ($9) for the ones with the huge accessories. I also bought the the TRU exclusives Wolverine w/ Motor (came with sabretooth) and Unmasked Astonishing (came w/ Collossus) as loose ones when they were sold for P300 each. Then just a few weeks ago Toys R' Us finally put all the Wolverine movie items for sale, 50% at that! I bought all the 3.75" ones i can find. The premium series didn't go on sale so i still don't have that and the final wave didn't reach our shores. But those 3.75" Wolverines won't be the topic for this post.

I've said before that when it comes to Super Hero Squad and Minimates figs, i won't really get the Wolverines unless i find them below SRP. I also said i'll do my best to geth the X-Force from that line. One of the Wolverine Movie Super Hero Squad sets that was released was a pack called "Hunt for Mr. Sinister" it included X-Force Wolverine, X-Force X-23, Cable, and Mr. Sinister. It was weird that Mr. Sinister came with them since they didn't interact at all in the comics, there was never a story line like this. It would have been better if it was "Hunt for Bishop" or something.

grabbed from the net.

Anyway, the reason why i didn't buy this immediately when i found out about the sale was because i already had the X-Force Wolverine and i thought that i would've had a hard time looking for buyers of Mr. Sinister and Cable. Then one day i found out that someone wanted to get Cable and Mr. Sinister from the set, so i went and bought it! I put Wolverine up for sale and w/in 24 hours i already have a buyer! NICE! so now i pretty much bought the set for X-23.
Let me put up first the first guy from the set that i got. X-Force Wolverine, i don't really know how many times this body has been used already, i don't like the fact that they just change the paint more often than not. They didn't even put an effort to changing the boots (same with MU X-force, he's not supposed to wear the pointy boots) paint apps for the 2 that i have are decent enough, no real smudges or anything. though this is probably the least detailed fig. The only real detailed part of him is the sheath of his claws, but i don't think the X-Force uniform doesn't sport those. I was also surprised to find out that he has 3 points of articulation (left and right arm, hip) since i was under the impression that he only had 2. Overall, he's good for a SHS fig.
Up next is a guy i'll be disposing, Mr. Sinister. He's quite big so i'm thinking this is actually one of the better SHS figs out there. Nice enough detail with good enough paint apps. He sports articulation on both arms, his cape is made of a softer plastic so he doesn't really fall over, he can stand on his own two feet. This is probably the best figure out of the four.

The Cable fig is pretty goood too, he's also quite big for a minimate. No real paint apps problem for this one also. He has a pretty nice gun but the problem is he doesn't point it straight. Another bad point here is that only the arm with the gun can move. I don't know why they didn't try to make the other one moveable too. Since there aren't really any overlapping details between the chest and arm areas. If they made the arm movable, it migh give the Sinister fig a run for it's money.
Finally, X-23. The sole reason i bought the set for. You can see that there are minor paint problems around the neck but other than that the paint is alright. Details are nice too, you can see the sculpt on the boots. My only real problem with this one is that it sports no articulation at all. The only consolation i get is the fact that there are the feet claws. Something the minimates figure failed to add. She's pretty small too, though it is appropriate since she's slender and not so tall. One good thing about her is that she has a pretty good action pose, and it's not really a problem when it comes to making her stand. Overall, i'm content with it, couldv'e had one or two points of articulation but who am i to complain? it's not like i'll be moving her around often.

There, i reviewed the whole set. These are the first SHS figs i got right out of the box, not as tempting to collect as the others but they're not to shabby either. I bet this would make good toys for little kids since they're made of pretty solid plastic and they don't have any small stuff to choke on. Just watch out for the pointy stuff.

If anyone's wondering what the book is, it's Wolverine: Inside the World of the Living Weapon. It's a nice read and a good buy if you want to catch up to Wolverine's history.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Marvel Minimates X-Force Wolverine and X-23

Before X-Force Wolverine came out, i never really paid attention to this line, it seemed to LEGO-ey for me. The fact that a lot of Wolverines came out in this line already (type "Wolverine" in the search bar and you'll get what i'm saying) made things even worse. Then pictures of Wave 31 popped up, i saw an X-Force Wolverine packed together with a Hydra Agent. Seeing that picture made me check out the marvel minimates thread in ptk and ask comic oddysey if they already had it. Had to wait a few months before i found one. Then a week later Wave 32 arrived here in the Philippines and it had a Retro X-Force Cable/Modern X-Force X-23 pack. I knew i had to get that one too. Now i pretty much have the same policy in Minimates as i do with the Super Hero Squad line, which is complete X-Force and buy Wolverine only when below SRP. I'm currently trying to dispose Cable since i already found a Hydra Agent buyer, i'm selling those off for half the price. Packaging is simple but it actually looks nice, there's a small window to see the figures (took them out already) the leaflet serves as a background and the box of the art looks good. At the side you see a portrait of the character which is contained, the back has the pictures of the entire wave and a very small description of the two characters.
That's Wolverine straight out of the box and bubbles, he comes with alternate clawless hands and a hair piece. This means that the mask of Wolverine is actually removable, but the head won't have any hair other than his facial hair.
The unmasked version looks nice when you put on the hair, my only real problem with this one is an issue with the entire Minimate line. I don't like them having no nose at all. That's the only part of the face which was not touched on, but then again it's not much of a problem for me since i plan on keeping him masked.

X-23 on the other hand came with a masked head without hair on it and a pair of hands that didn't have claws. Again, it seems to bother me that they don't have any noses but overall it still looks good. Hair is nice too, it limits the range of movement of the head. Since X-23's body is still just a rectangle, i guess they just painted on the curves to give her that sexy look. I'm guessing this is the norm for female minimates.
Once again i prefer the masked version more. You rarely see X-23 without her mask while she's wearing that uniform and the shape of the mask actually gives an illusion of a nose. the wrinkles on her forehead also adds a nice touch.
Overall, if these two figs are good representations of the minimates line, then that means i understand why a lot of collectors are getting into these. They look like their comic counterparts and yet they look cute. They have very nice paint apps, non existent or at most minimal smudges. The joints don't have real problems, if they do it's actually that they are a bit tight. They have ample articulation too, head can move up and down a little, 360 degree rotation for Wolverine while X-23 has very limited left and right because of the hair. elbow, wrist, knee, hip. Not 30+ points like the old ToyBiz but it's still adequate enough to put them in nice poses. The claws are very malleable so it's not hard to fix them when bent. They're not scaled and i think most of them come in similar sizes other than the real big ones. But i think that adds to the appeal.
Another perk of this line is the easy kitbashing. You can use spare parts lying around to form new characters and what not. Though this makes it possible for overrun parts to be kitbashed whil still in the factory then sold later on. here's an example:

i'll call her, Jaime Howlett.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Review: SDCC Exclusive Kotobukiya X-Force Wolverine Bust

after leaving my old blog address behind, i will now start over on this address THREECLAWSEACH

My first post on this site will be about my greatest haul to date.
a trial review of SDCC Exclusive Kotobukiya X-Force Wolverine Fine Art Bust

This bust was released around a year ago during SDCC '09, being limited to only 500. I already know 3 other people who have this bust, 2 from ptk and another one from youtube. So i guess there are at most 496 more up for grabs.

I'm accustomed to the Bowen and DST packaging, and i must say Kotobukiya's approach with their packaging is really eye catching. Instead of having big designs on the box, Kotobukiya is almost pure white with very little on it. What's bad about this is that it'll be very hard to clean up. Also not visible on my shots are the sides of the bust, which has that X-Force logo embossed on it. The back of the packaging meanwhile is less clean compared to all other parts, that side shows the promo pic of the bust and it's description while also showeing the pictures of other kotobukiya wolverine busts (if i remember correctly it's the brown and the unmasked).

All 500 busts have their boxes signed by the sculptor and the signature can be seen when you flip the cover of the box. This is another thing that makes Kotobukiya's packaging superior in my point of view, the only other things i see with this type of packaging are Hot Toys.
You could see right there written using silver pen, the signature of the sculptor. Whether or not that'll add to the value of the bust isn't really my concern. At the lower part of the flap you can see two pictures, the first one is the cover to X-Force #1, written beside it is the reason why the sculptor decided to go with this look and pose. The picture below it is the sculptor himself. You can really see just how minimal the design in the box is and yet it has that flair to it.
On the other side, you can see a clear window showing the exposed head of the Wolverine inside. Below it is the plate containing the production number of the bust, mine being 222/500. You need to remove it if you want to display the bust with the production number on it. I was unable to take a picture of it but as you can see, the box looks a bit small in terms of width, this is because the two hands of Wolverine are actually detachable.

The only real downside i can think of is that they could have put a magnet inside the arm of Wolverine since they made the arm from the gloves down detachable. It might be a problem down the line since left hand is pointed down, it might come loose and fall down. Other than that, the bust looks great. The base is very detailed with those pillars and a face of Logan sculpted on it (relief is the term for it, right?). There is also a Marvel logo underneath it, at the opposite end of where the plate should be placed. Unfortunately, i wasn't able to take more detailed pictures. The claws are metal the interior side of the gloves have straps sculpted on them. There are very little hair strands painted on which looks just right since it's noticeable and yet it doesn't look like it's overkill. The muscle details are just great, some veins are even visible. The silver paint is just amazing. Some people might argue that the face looks emotionless, i agree. But i think it just adds to the personality of the bust, it's Wolverine ready to strike and do what it takes in a moments notice. Oh, and it's pretty big too, standing around 9 1/2" overall. Possible improvements? If only they made the eyes and the belt buckle light up. That would be sweet.
Final Verdict? If you're into Wolverine, X-Force, or Marvel busts, this should be a must have. I do believe this is the best Wolverine of the three that Koto has released so far. I was not disappointed with this bust at all. I paid a whole lot more for this bust than the SRP but that's what you get for living so far away and having a dirty customs system.

Though if you only plan to collect the X-Men, i think you should either get the Brown or the Tigerstipe version since the X-Force unifrom wouldn't really go together with the mostly bright colored X-Men Uniforms, i think i already saw a Cyclops, Nightcrawler, and a Collossus bust from this line.

*Side note: From what i understand, what was supposed to be the Wizards exclusive Unmasked Brown Wolverine was never released. Only this, the Tigerstripe and the Brown were released.*