Saturday, January 30, 2010

Bioshock 2: Big Sister & Little Sister Figure(s) Review

Although I don't own many video games, I've got to say that Bioshock is one of those first-person shooters that have a really catchy storyline (Halo and Half-Life included).  It's one of those games that I can't stop playing over and over again.  With the upcoming release of the sequel to the original Bioshock, I proudly present a review of NECA's "Big Sister & Little Sister" action figures.

Flavor Text: 

"Big Sisters are Rapture's fiercest predators.  Despite being covered in armor they possess deadly agility and can strike from anywhere.  Charged with protecting Little Sisters, Big Sisters keep an eye on all of the ADAM in Rapture and punish anyone that disrupts the balance.  Able to throw objects telekinetically, leap off walls for powerful melee blows, throw fireballs, execute devastating charge attacks and even extract ADAM directly from living Splicers, Big Sisters are the worst nightmare of anyone unlucky enough to draw their ire.

Little Sisters are young girls who have had ADAM producing slugs implanted into their bodies, enabling them to drink the blood of dead Splicers and extract usable ADAM from it.  This makes them incredibly valuable in Rapture, where Splicers crave ADAM enough to kill for it.  Because of this they are accompanied at all times by Big Daddies, hulking protectors in diving suits who will defend Little Sisters to the death.  Little Sisters are driven mad by their constant exposure to substance ADAM but are not beyond redemption, in the right hands they can find salvation and be turned back into the innocent little girls they once were."

The Good:

  • The Big Sister (BS) has an impressive 16 POINTS OF ARTICULATION: swivel head, ball-hinged shoulders, ball-hinged elbows, quasi ball-hinged wrists, ab-crunch joint, swivel legs, ball-jointed thighs, hinged knees, and ball-jointed ankles.
  • We finally get a Little Sister (LS)!  She has an amazing 10 POINTS OF ARTICULATION: ball-jointed neck, ball-jointed shoulders, hinged elbows, ab-crunch joint, swivel legs, and hinged knees.
  • Accessory-wise, the Big Sister comes with a removable canister with "Little Sister cage".  The Little Sister comes with her trademark "ADAM harvesting tool".
  • The package design by NECA is similar to the previously released Big Daddy "Sneak Preview" figure but with slight differences.  The "Bioshock 2" logo is displayed prominently on the front, off-center.  There's also a silver-colored sticker labeled "Toysrus Exclusive" near the upper right corner.  The backdrop of the figures portray a watery background, most likely the seas of Rapture.  The right-side of the package grandly displays the "deep sea diving" Big Sister's face and the eerily-cute Little Sister's face as well.  Although the size of the clamshell packaging is wider than usual (to accommodate both figures), it's surprisingly a lot thinner and compact.
  • If you look carefully examine the BS's canister, you'll notice several different pictures: several different types of fish and one BS holding the hands of two LS.
  • NECA is well-known for their great attention to detail, and their sculpt of the BS is no exception.  The minute details on the "diver suit" areas of BS are just phenomenal.  The leather straps with the metal belt buckles wrapped all around BS's slender feminine body and her legs are also sculpted with an overload of details.  Her right arm sports a "harpoon"-type weapon whereas her left arm has an over-sized "ADAM" harvesting tool.
  • This time around, I had a far easier time inserting the BS's slender canister into her back.  Due to the large "Little Sister cage" with the ribbons decorated all around it, I worried that it would snap in two.  Just becareful when you shove in the canister.  You've been warned.
  • The paint application is a lot better than NECA's usual fare.  I only noticed a few out of place: the red holes bleeding out onto the BS's diving suit mask, and a splotch of conspicuous white paint on her right backside (right next to the canister indentation).

The Bad:

  • It really is unfortunate that NECA decided to go with the "swivel head" articulation.  It would've been better if they went with the "ball-jointed neck" route.  This would've given the BS a lot more potential poses.
  • Although the BS has an ab-crunch joint (which most definitely enhances the overall figure), I wish NECA also included a "swivel waist" joint.  It just makes sense, at least to me to include the most basic articulation.
  • The lack of depth in the BS's "eye-hole" bothers me quite a bit.  The applied red paint further cheapens the overall look of an otherwise excellent figure.  If NECA's sculptors hollowed out (scooped out) the "eye-hole" area a little bit and placed a translucent piece of red plastic (look at NECA's previously-released excellent Dead Space figure) inside, I think it would've made their BS even greater.
  • Probably because of the thinly sculpted arms, the BS couldn't bend them completely at a 90 degree angle.  It's a little irritating for collectors like me, especially since I like to pose them a lot.  However, I understand the issues NECA would've had to face.
  • There were more than a few problems regarding the LS.  Paint application was a problem: even before I removed the figure from its packaging, I noticed a big white dot on the LS's right side of her head.  If you examine both sides of her head, you'll notice the hair sculpt continues until it reaches the back of her ears.  Unfortunately, the paint application stops a bit too early.  There's also a little "creative" paint application near the LS's forehead on the left side.  The LS's pre-posed hands have a really hard time holding onto her "ADAM harvesting tool".  I don't understand how this could've happened.  
  • It would've been nice if the LS was given "swivel wrists" and perhaps "hinged ankles" articulation.
  • There's a glaring inaccuracy regarding the paint application for the LS's "ADAM harvesting tool".  For some reason the tube is colored brown, when it should be glowing pinkish-red.

The Ugly:

  • Nothing ugly here, folks.

Since these figures are a "Toysrus Exclusive," you will only find these at Toysrus for $19.99 (price doesn't include S&H and tax).  Although their shipping took a day or two longer than was expected, it arrived without any other problems.  The box it was shipped in is approximately the same size as the clamshell packaging, so there were no packing materials inside the box.  The clamshell was intact (just a few minor scratches) and the figures weren't broken.  I haven't seen these online elsewhere, so Toysrus is your best bet to snag one of these.


Although there are problems with these figures, NECA has continued to impress me with their Bioshock 2 line.  The level of quality and care is apparent and will have the most appeal with adult collectors.  I eagerly look forward to the rest of NECA's Bioshock 2 lineup. 


Thursday, January 28, 2010

NEWS: Star Wars - Vintage Collection

I normally don't do this, but I was excited to find out that have posted OFFICIAL images from the first wave of action figures in Hasbro's Star Wars: "Vintage Collection"!  There were rumors and then news of this for some time, and finally the long wait is over (partially)!  Apparently, these "vintage" figures will be packaged with the old "classic" Kenner cardback design.  This "vintage" collection will include the prequel trilogy and the expanded universe. has separate thumbnails which reveal the figure in closer detail.  The first wave is based on "Star Wars: Episode IV: The Empire Strikes Back" which include: Luke Skywalker (in Bespin gear), Princess Leia (in Hoth gear), Dengar (the badly scarred bounty hunter who is briefly seen on the Super Star Destroyer, who also has beef with Han Solo), and the AT-AT Commander General Veers!

I've got to say that the worst of the bunch by far is General Veers.  The previously-released Veers figure is more accurately sculpted than the current not-yet-released one.  How strange...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Masters of the Universe Classics: Battle Armor He-Man: Most Powerful Man in the Universe Figure Review

After being impressed with Mattel's "Masters of the Universe Classics" (MOTUC) Teela, I figured it was time to purchase the main character.  Now that I look back, I regret not purchasing the original He-Man figure Mattel had offered several months ago.  He was made available for sale via on January 15, 2010.

Flavor Text:

"Battle Armor He-Man, Most Powerful Man in the Universe

Real Name: Adam of the House of Randor

To adapt to new enemies and situations, Adam has learned to tap further into the great power which his sword unlocks.  The combined Power of the Universe and the Knowledge of the Elders is used by Adam to imagine and create new forms of armor and weapons to combat evil.  His BATTLE ARMOR was created to protect He-Man during his early battles with Skeletor and his evil warriors.  Using the Power of Grayskull, He-Man - The Most Powerful Man in the Universe, is now shielded by his mighty BATTLE ARMOR!"

The Good:

  • Battle Armor (BA) He-Man has 21 points of articulation: ball-jointed neck, jointed shoulders, swivel upper biceps, hinged elbows, swivel wrists, ab-crunch joint, swivel waist, swivel/hinged legs, hinged knees, swivel boots, hinged ankles, and hinged "side" ankles (for lack of a better term).

  • He comes with a decent number of accessories (a total of 5) for a 6-inch figure: battle armor, armor breastplate, slightly-damaged armor breastplate, heavily-damaged armor breastplate, and battle-axe.

  • This is another one of THE definite "nostalgia-inducing" figures from this line (yeah, I know it's called "Masters of the Universe Classics" for a reason).  I used to own the old-school BA He-Man with the "rolling" armor breastplate action feature.  It would make a "clicking" noise each time you turned the breastplate.  Thankfully, the Four Horsemen opted not to incorporate the same "action feature" but instead [brilliantly] settled with "snap-on" armor breastplates.  I've got to say that the detailing on the three variations of He-Man's breastplates are superb!  The "H" symbol on all three breastplates is consistent and well-designed.  Even the "damage"detailing is just breathtaking!

  • As expected, BA He-Man's right hand is sculpted perfectly to fit the battle-axe accessory without any "looseness" in his grip.

  • You know how with most figures (including Teela) their detailing stops right at their feet?  Well, the details on BA He-Man don't stop there, but instead continue on the soles of his feet.  The straps wrapped around his boot continue around the soles of his feet.  Little things like that boost the overall score of any figure in my book.

The Bad:

  • For some reason, He-Man's head sculpt reminds me of Ken from Street Fighter.  It could be the hair and quite possibly the grim facial expression.

  • There are small but noticeable holes or "air bubbles" in He-Man's hair.  There are also dashes of dried and smudged paint on both his left and front sides. The more I look at it, the more flaws I see on He-Man's hair.  Way too many smudge marks, especially in the front.
  • This is nitpicking: while his battle armor is on, He-Man's head is limited to swiveling left and right; also due to the battle armor, He-Man's bulging arms can't be placed all the way down to his sides.

  • There are brown spots and smears on He-Man's: inner right thigh, inner left thigh, on the back of his left arm, strap closest to his elbow joint on his left arm.

  • I really wish Mattel didn't apply silver paint on He-Man's body (underneath the battle armor), but instead applied it with flesh-color paint.  This would give collectors the added incentive to purchase "The Goddess" figure (basically a "green-colored" Teela) who comes with He-Man's regular armor.
  • Although BA (Battle Armor) He-Man comes with several accessories, it would've been nice to include his shield.  Even the picture of BA He-Man on the back of the packaging has him carrying a shield in his left hand.
  • The paint job on the battle-axe could've been a lot better.  Using plain gray-colored plastic cheapens the overall superior quality and overall sculpt of the figure.
  • He-Man's thumb on his left hand (on the inside) has been smudged and mangled.
  • The paint job on the left hand is weird: his hand is tan-colored from the wrist up to his knuckles.  The color gets noticeably lighter from the knuckles all the way to the fingers.  It sort of looks like He-Man's left hand got scrapped and lost some skin on something sharp, maybe from his battle axe?

The Ugly:

  • Unfortunately, BA He-Man has really loose ankles joints.  If the knees are straightened, He-Man will fall flat on his face.  At least the knee joints are solid.

Additional Notes:
  • There is one major mistake on the back of the packaging under He-Man's bio: "Real Name: Adam of the of House Randor".

I purchased this figure online via MattyCollector for a total of $28.00 (price includes S&H and tax).  Due to the popularity of this "bonus" figure, it is no longer available for purchase on MattyCollector's website. Your only recourse is eBay or other online retailers such as BigBadToyStore who will (once again) price-gouge you, because they can.  Despite the somewhat high cost of individual figures like this, Teela is one figure that you can't miss.


Although I wasn't thoroughly impressed with BA He-Man at first, the more I look at him and (yes) play with him, he's becoming more and more one of my favorites from the "MOTUC" line.  The Four Horsemen sure don't disappoint.  With pretty decent sculpts and quite a number of accessories, $28.00 seems like a good deal.

Score: (out of five)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Biohazard 5: Sheva Alomar (BSAA Version) Hot Toys Figure Review

Being extremely disappointed with NECA's attempt to recreate Sheva Alomar in figure form, I was excited to hear Hot Toys would be making their "1/6th scale fully poseable collectible figure" of Sheva.  I'd seen the preliminary photos of their Sheva figure and was thoroughly impressed.  Although Sheva's facial sculpt wasn't exactly "video game accurate", it looked far better than NECA's feeble attempt.  Despite the high price for this line of collectibles, I figured "why not?" and plunged head-first into Hot Toys "Biohazard 5" line.

Flavor Text:

"Age: 23
  Height: 5'4"
  Weight: 115 lbs.
  Sex: Female
  Organization: BSAA Western Africa Division

Sheva Alomar is an agent with the BSAA West African Branch.  Sheva's parents are killed in a factory accident.  Later she joins an anti-government guerilla group, but is rescued by a government agency and sent to live in America.  She joins the BSAA after graduating from a university.  She is assigned to the current mission to assist Chris Redfield, who is unfamiliar with the area.  A versatile fighter with extensive experience, her ability to use firearms is on par with Chris.  Her highly conditioned body allows her to pull off physical attacks that Chris could never do."

The Good:

  • A better sculpted and fully poseable Sheva Alomar figure with loads of accessories has finally arrived!

  • Sheva has approximately 16 points of articulation: ball-jointed neck, ball-jointed shoulders, bendable arms, ball-jointed wrists, ball-jointed torso, ball-jointed hips, swivel upper thighs, hinged knees, and hinged ankles.
  • Due to Hot Toys's "rubber body" technology, those ugly [and sometimes bulky] joints no longer protrude, thereby softening the overall look of the figure.  This allows Sheva to retain her overall feminine look without giving up articulation.

  • Tons of accessories: H&K PSG-1 rifle, M3 shotgun, Ithaca M37 shotgun, S&W M29 magnum, M92F handgun, knife, VZ61 machine-gun, AK-74 machine-gun, Red Hawk 30 pistol cartridge, Jackal parabellum sub-machine gun cartridge, flash grenade, 2x additional sets of right hands, 1x additional left hand, 2x sets of joints, necklace, radio headset, radio pouch, ammo clip pouch, 2x decorative strips, 1x backpack, 1x shoulder holster, and "Biohazard 5: Sheva Alomar (BSAA Version)" base and stand.

  • Like Albert Wesker's (Midnight Version), the Hot Toys packaging design is standard.  The "Biohazard 5" (also known as Resident Evil 5 in the U.S.) logo is off-center with a well-known picture of Sheva holding the Ithaca M37 that overlaps onto the right-side of the packaging. Hot Toys incorporated the magnetic flap which can be easily opened and closed.  Opening the flap reveals the beautiful display of the figure and its accessories.  The right-side displays the entire figure, while the left side displays all of the weapon accessories in neat fashion.  A scene of the marshlands (Chapter 3 in the Resident Evil 5 video game) serves as the backdrop for the weapon accessories display.
  • The sculpt of Sheva's hair, the separate sculpt of her earrings, her gloved hands are all equally impressive.  Her fingernails are also painted without any stray marks.  The belt buckles and leather straps all over her legs are intricately-detailed as well.  The detailing on all the [weapon] accessories are top-notch and they even have movable parts as well!
  • Sheva's hands (including the additional ones) are sculpted in some sort of sturdy yet pliable plastic, which makes it a heck of a lot easier to insert all sorts of weapons into her pre-posed hands.

  • I'm really impressed with Hot Toys handling of Sheva's bust size.  They made it pretty accurate to her video game counterpart.  I was surprised that she was even given sculpted nipples (her chest area is slightly pliable).  I have to say that her chest certainly feels like fake tits (don't ask).

The Bad:

  • Although Sheva's face is nicely sculpted, something doesn't look quite right.  The preliminary photos of Sheva looked far better than the one I have in front of me.  However, both facial sculpts don't look exactly similar to her video game counterpart.

  •  The "instruction sheet" that came with Sheva isn't exactly comprehensive.  The "directions" are printed on an approximately 6" x 8" paper, one side in English, the other side in Chinese.  Putting Sheva together was just like putting together a lawn mower or bookshelf.  I had to figure it out by myself by examining the picture on the box and through trial-and-error.  This process with Sheva took nearly an hour and a half!  I wasn't aware that Sheva's belt-buckle was actually functional, so I was confused as to how in the hell I was supposed to attach certain accessories onto Sheva's belt.  However, what consumed most of my time was pulling Sheva's head off and putting it back on (I had to do this in order to place her damned necklace on).  My God, it was like pulling teeth!
  • Because Sheva is Hot Toys's first female figure to utilize the "rubber body" technology, there were instructions (the same instructions I mentioned just before) that ranged from "do not fold up the arms over 180 degrees" to "do not raise the arms aside over 80 degrees".  I was overwhelmed by these "do not" warnings that I was afraid of even touching the figure.

  • Sheva's holster can be "opened" (by "popping" out the straps) in order to accommodate her M92F handgun, but it can't be closed.  Maybe I'm doing it wrong because I end up with my fingers hurting like hell with the straps still "open".  DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT use tweezers to try and close the holster straps.  I tried that and nearly ripped off the entire flimsy holster strap.

  • Certain pouches can be "opened" as well.  Unfortunately, once you open them, it'll take all the luck in the world to get them closed... or someone with dexterous fingers.

  • Because Sheva's pants are accurately (and attractively) tight, her leg movements are restricted.  If I try to place her in an "open-stance," the velcro at the "fly" of her pants will start pulling apart, thus revealing the quite not-so-attractive naked spot.

  • This is really nitpicking, but Sheva's top is supposed to be colored purple, not blue.  I have no idea why or how this happened.
  • Because Sheva is wearing high-heeled boots (women and the men who design women's footwear!) she has a much harder time standing up on her two feet.

  • There are two specific things "Accessories Supervisor" TS Wong screwed up on: 1. The design and sculpt of the Ithaca M37 Shotgun; and 2. Not including Sheva's well-known Dragunov SVD Rifle.  At first, I couldn't recognize one of the shotgun [weapon] accessories (the M3 shotgun was easily recognized), but because the brown-colored "forend" (forearm) with the grooves in it, I knew that had to be the Ithaca M37.  After all, there are only four shotguns in the entire Resident Evil 5 video game.  For some reason though, the Ithaca M37 accessory was sculpted with a much shorter barrel and stock.  While having the H&K PSG-1 rifle accessory is nice, it would've been nicer if Sheva was given the Dragunov SVD (I guess it's a matter of preference).  Hey, at least NECA gave us one with their Sheva figure!

The Ugly:

  • As I've mentioned before, the lack of detailed instructions made "assembling" this figure much harder and complicated than it should've been.

  • The way most of these accessories (pouches, clips, etc.) are designed, it's very difficult to attach or "clip" them onto their appropriate spots.  While I was trying to clip Sheva's radio/walkie-talkie set on her shoulder holster, the wire piece connecting the head piece and radio snapped off.  As much as I tried, there was no possible way to re-insert the damned wire.  I ended up with frustration and aching finger.  There has to be an easier way.
  • This collectible figure is not only pricey, but involves particularly hard work.  Make any sense?  Yeah, I didn't think so either.
I pre-ordered Sheva from eBay at a slightly high price of $178.88 from a seller in China. Despite the risks (of pre-ordering anything from eBay and buying from a seller residing in China), I strongly urge you to do your research. Look around online what the going prices are for these figures. Check the eBay seller's reputation. Does he/she have any negative feedback recently? If so, what were the buyer's reasons? Last time I checked, Hot Toys Sheva is now available for purchase from CornerStoreComics, BigBadToyStore, and other retailers.


Despite the overwhelming negatives surrounding Hot Toys Sheva Alomar (BSAA Version), I'm taking quite a liking to her as my new addition to my Resident Evil collection. Although the facial-likeness can use a lot more work, the amount of articulation and accessories (her nice bust and sculpted nipples helps!) makes up for the high price and large amount of effort to set Sheva up. If you've been disappointed with the lack of quality Resident Evil figures, I suggest you start looking into Hot Toys's offering.