The Brood Queen Series has been shipping for about a month now, but they are scarce on store shelves. As with each succeeding wave, these continue to improve. While I feel that Hasbro has made strides with thisline, as you'll see below the bar has definitely been raised. To start with, let's take a look a this new series.
First Appearance Captain America
The First Appearance figures are always a favorite of mine. Perhaps Hasbro was best to tackle this one, as Cap looks like he stepped off a comic strip page in the the 1940's. Due to the basic look of the design, this figure is pretty successful. This isn't a figure that should be overly paint-washed or airbrushed. The skin tone plastic is nice, and more opaque than previous attempts. The paint apps are clean, and overall I'd give this figure a solid 8 out of 10.
Cap's trusty sidekick Bucky, however, does not fare so well. He is, appropriately, a re-tooled Patriot figure from the Young Avengers box set. He's a tad too tall, and just looks, well, "off". The head isn't really anything spectacular, and isn't painted very cleanly on my sample. He is currently shortpacked, and missing from some assortments. Never a good idea when a build-a-figure is involved. I'll give him a generous 4 out of 10. It IS Bucky, and he's been long-requested.
Astonishing X-Men Cyclops
Cyke here is one of the better figures in this line. he was sculpted & planned originally by Toy Biz, and was even shown when Hasbro originally took over the line. You can see where some of the articulation was eliminated (check out the frozen "monkey knuckles" on his left hand, for example). Overall, the dark color scheme works very well, and he's also one of the better figures in this set. The proportions are very nice, and the sculpt maintained a lot of the originally planned detailing. Also an 8 out of 10, a few little things here & there, and his score would be even higher.
Here's one collectors have really been clamoring for. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but he didn't live up to my expectations. He's not horrible, mind you. He's not even bad. I just miss the ball shoulders & hips, and the bicep swivel. These omissions really hinder his articulation. The paint is serviceable, but unimaginitive. I'd like to say I wasn't dissapointed, but i'm afraid a 6 out of 10 is all I can justify for this one.
The Hydra Soldier (& variant, not shown here) is sure to please fans who have been clamoring for an army builder. Hasbro has answered fans by making cases of 12 (6 regular, 6 variant) availble for order by comic shops. When I first say the promo shots, this one one of my most anticipated figures. He's done nicely, but has some serious flaws that I would be remiss if I didn't point out here. First off, you'll notice that he's honkin' huge! He's head & shoulders above Toy Biz's Baron Strucker, unfortunately. Gargantuan proportions aside, he also lost the knees & double elbows the promo shots & original prototype had. Normally these things don't bother me much, but here it's a travesty. The "Sigma 6" elboes here don't have enough range of motion to allow him to hold his Hydra-branded rifle in both hands effectively. His knees are just unsightly. I wouldn't mind it so much, but he was originally done correctly, then changed. Oh, what could have been. 6 out of 10, tops.
Danger is another holdover from Hasbro's original press showing. Based on the timeliness of her storyline, I'm sure Toy Biz planned her for series 16. This figure is lacking in some articulation, but is really pretty interesting. The huge wings attach nicely, and are made of a really sturdy material. Also, she is cast out of a clear plastic, and then painted over. Some of the clear shows through, but not enough to really notice. With a little work, this could have been a VERY interesting figure. It just needed an inspired paint scheme, or maybe a translucent latic with some metallic flake inside? something to make an uniteresting character a blockbuster figure. Still, I'll give it a 7 out of 10, it's a solid toy.
Rachel here is really one of the standouts of this series. I think that she's one of the few sucessful females that Hasbro has done lately. Plastic is nice, and the paint is well done, too. The only thing I would've wanted to see is a darker flesh tone airbrushed is the valleys of the musculature to give her more depth. and 8 out of 10, with airbrushing she'd have been a 9. Shown here alongside the repaint as Jean Grey from the original X-Men (sold in a 2-pack)
What can I say about ol' Piotr here? He's big, REAL big. He also has Toy Biz's old articulation,; he's another one that Toy Biz had on the drawing board. He looks pretty sharp, and there's a variant now shipping wiht a shiner silver skin. I jst don't care about the movie figures, but for what he's supposed to be, probably the best Hasbro offering for this sub-group to date. 8 out of 10, would be higher if I cared.
The Brood Queen
Hasbro did a very solid job on the Brood Queen. She's broken up into 8 pieces, but Hasbro has stated that assortments will be cut down now to around 6 per line after series 4 is released. She's well painted & nicely airbrushed, but I can't help but think that a black wash to bring out the lush detail would've really put her over the top. Still, she's quite cool, and worth the price of admission. If you're an X-Men fan from the 80's like me, she's kind of a must-have.
Also, as a quick side note, the Toys "R" Us exclusive Black Queen is out there now, albeit in smaller numbers than previous TRU exclusives for this line. She's a retooled Emma Frost, but she fared far better fro mthe minor changes that were made. Enjoy.
Mattel's DC Universe Classics
After a seemingly endless wait, Mattel showers us with their first foray into the entire DC Universe. Their Batman & Superman offerings were getting to be amazing, and now the line explodes. They've implemented the build-a-figure program, excuse me, "Collect-N-Connect" program, and it's been worth the wait! For $9.99, you get an amazing, Four Horsemen sculpted figure, all the paint apps you want, AND the build 'em piece. You also only need to buy 5 figures to complete the se, which is nice reprieve on the wallett. If you break it down, that's about $7.99 per figure plus tax, a smokin' good deal! The quality on this first set is top-notch, even better than what we've come to expect. The scale is right on, from the diminutive Penguin to the monstrous Etrigan. Now that i have the first assortment in hand (series 2 is due around February), I can say that I've seen the future, and the future is bright for Mattel. They've raised the bar, and Hasbro, in this writer's opinion, can no longer make incremental improvements. These are the new standard, period. i'm not even going to talk anymore, just look at the pretty pictures & see for yourself.
The Demon, Etrigan
Red Tornado (Classic version shown, there is also a modern chase version)
Rex Mason, The Element Man (aka Metamorpho, Collect-N-Connect figure)