PREVIEW: Funko Batman ’66 Figures

BatmanRecent years have seen a glut of new nostalgia-themed action figures in the now-traditional “Star Wars scale” of 3 3/4″ tall for the average adult human male character. Funko (frequently with cohorts Super7 in tow) and Big Bang Pow! have been the vanguards of this 3 3/4″ revival, with mixed results – I’ve loved seeing that scale come back after years and years of overpriced 6″ figures becoming the norm. On the other hand, there have been some baffling choices of licenses chosen (Taxi Driver? Pulp Fiction? Boondock Saints? Really?) that were good for a laugh at the time, but ended up warming the store pegs for a good long time with no takers. In the waning days of Hastings – one of the only local brick-and-mortal sources for these figures that I had prior to the chain’s closure – Funko 3 3/4″ ReAction figures could be had for two or three dollars each, and they still weren’t moving. Funko and Super7 have now parted ways, with Super7 retaining the ReAction banner (and its Kenner-style logo), and Funko now forging ahead with figures in the same scale, but with more detail and articulation. And possibly the most exciting license that Funko has lined up for its second stab at the 3 3/4″ figure market is the classic Batman TV series. Continue reading

Star Trek Starships Collection: NX-01 Refit

Eaglemoss is a UK partworks publisher, partworks being a periodical publication that’s distributed with some kind of included goodies with each issue. Among other things, Eaglemoss publishes “figurine” partworks based on Doctor Who and The Walking Dead, but for Star Trek, they latched onto a truly under-represented cast of characters: the ships of Starfleet and numerous other fleets patrolling deep space.

The ships, almost always made of die-cast metal, aren’t cheap – two of them are shipped each month at a cost of $20 each – each included with a magazine detailing both the in-universe and real-life production histories of each design. In many cases, especially with vehicles from Enterprise and the recent reboot movies, this is the first time that these ships have been made available in any kind of physical form.

A handful of times each year, the schedule is punctuated by a Special Edition vehicle, produced at a larger scale than the typical monthly fare. Here’s a little secret: there is just no way I can divert $40 per month to little spaceships. But one or two times a year, I might be able to spring for one of the Special Editions.

NX-01 Refit

And that’s the case here with the NX-01 Refit, a vehicle whose status in the Star Trek universe lies somewhere between “officially canonized” and “not really officially canonized”. The image of this radical reinvention of the NX-01 Enterprise has been seen by fans for years, dating back to one of the (more-or-less official) Ships Of The Line calendars, and later picked up by book covers for novels extending the story of Captain Jonathan Archer’s Enterprise beyond the show’s truncated four-season run.

What’s so radical about it? The NX-01 Refit sports a new engineering section, with its own larger deflector dish, extending the graceful lines of its warp engine struts into something that looks like the midway point between Archer’s ship and the Constitution-class Enterprise of the original series.

NX-01 Refit

It’s a beautiful addition, and the accompanying magazine reveals that the ship’s designers had always had this extension in mind, since the flexibility of CGI meant that the show was not beholden to a pre-built library of stock effects shows, as every prior Star Trek series had been. The NX-01 could even – gasp! – show signs of damage from one episode to the next, whereas prior Trek series had to hit the reset button, leaving the ship looking the same at the end of an episode as it appeared in the beginning. Blow up Deep Space Nine’s Defiant? Don’t worry, there’ll be another Defiant ready in a couple of weeks, with the same registry number, not even suffixed with an -A, because we can’t afford to not use the shots we already have in the can.

NX-01 Refit

Fans can take issue with Enterprise all they like; in various places and in several ways, the show is both better and worse than it’s generally remembered. This is a physical artifact of what we might have seen in the fifth season: a beefed-up Enterprise, ready to sail into battle against a Romulan Empire that’s no longer too shy to show its hand.

NX-01 Refit

As great as the model looks on my shelf, it’s a pity we didn’t get to see it on screen. With its die-cast construction, it’s got some real heft; the stand is weighted as well, so there’s no overbalancing to worry about once the ship is mounted in its stand.

A word of warning – just because you see the words “die-cast metal” doesn’t mean that this vehicle can be crash-landed like my old partially-metal Kenner Millenium Falcon. The components are weighty, but their assembly is on the delicate side – this ship is meant to remain docked to its support stand.

Though it’s perfectly permissible to fly it around the room a few times, carefully. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.


Star Trek: The Motion Picture U.S.S. Enterprise

U.S.S. EnterpriseThe second coming of Star Trek, ten years after its cancellation, was a licensing goldmine for Paramount. Star Wars had already primed the public pump for science fiction, and Superman had proven that throwing a large budget and an existing, recognizable brand at that audience was a surefire recipe for success. Having already quietly cancelled a proposed second swipe at Trek on TV – a project so far along that sets had been constructed and scripts for half a season’s worth of episodes had been written – Paramount decided to take those sets, and the movie-length pilot script, and go large with it. The result was Star Trek: The Motion Picture… but who should the new Star Trek adventure be marketed to? Continue reading

Doctor Who: The Third Doctors

The Third DoctorThat’s not The Three Doctors, but rather the third Doctors. After displaying prototypes at the 2009 San Diego Comic Con, Character Options followed up that year’s Comic Con exclusive first and second Doctors with the Doctor’s third incarnation, as played by Jon Pertwee from 1970 through 1974. Setting a pattern that continues through the most recent limited-edition classic Doctor Who figures, U.K. distribution was exclusively handled by Forbidden Planet, with FP’s U.S. arm, Underground Toys, taking care of North American distribution. Continue reading

Doctor Who: The Chase set

The ChaseThe end of 2011 saw a sudden glut of classic series figure sets released by Character Options; common sense would seem to dictate that these were intended to attract last-minute Christmas shoppers, but in most areas they arrived too late for Christmas 2011. Some of these sets, rather predictably, landed in the Tom Baker era. This isn’t to imply a bias on Character’s part – there’s simply more of Tom Baker’s era than there is of any other Doctor’s reign, though Character does have an established bias toward masked characters so they don’t have to pay an actor for his likeness. Continue reading

Doctor Who: Resurrection Of The Daleks

Resurrection Of The DaleksAnother one of 2011’s surprise classic Doctor Who figure sets, this set hails from the early ’80s era of the fifth Doctor, and brings the classic version of a seemingly un-killable foe into plastic form. From Peter Davison’s only run-in with the Daleks, Resurrection Of The Daleks also reunited the Doctor with Davros – a reunion that both probably would’ve been happy to pass on. Continue reading

Doctor Who: The Sontaran Experiment

Sontaran Experiment SetHaving produced about as many different variations of Jon Pertwee in plastic as possible, Character Options spent much of 2011 producing numerous classic Doctor Who sets with variations on Tom Baker instead, with an unusual focus on the actor’s first season as the fourth Doctor.

Having already produced a collect-and-build figure of the enormous K-1 robot from Robot, Character skipped over Ark In Space and picked up the season 12 story with The Sontaran Experiment, issuing an unusual two figure set with a fairly large vehicle – the first non-TARDIS vehicle in the Character Doctor Who range since the Satan Pit lift (which wasn’t exactly a best-seller). Continue reading

Doctor Who: Vengeance On Varos Set

Vengeance On Varos SetThe latest in a series of two-figure sets from classic Doctor Who episodes, the Vengeance On Varos set really kicks the door open for future additions to the classic Doctor Who action figure range.

Even more surprisingly, this set immortalizes the two most enduring elements of the sixth Doctor’s all-too-brief era on TV: TARDIS traveling companion Peri and the slug-like Sil, a profit-mongering creature who has no qualms about sacrificing entire civilizations to pour more money into his coffers. Continue reading

Doctor Who: The Eleven Doctors

Eleven Doctors SetI’d be reluctant to try to estimate how many kids have bought this magnificent boxed set of nearly a dozen figures, because chances are that they’ve all been snatched up by people like me – thirty-and-forty-somethings who have been waiting since they were kids to hold this set, or something like it, in their hands. Despite being at a very silly age to suddenly pick up a huge set of action figures, the Eleven Doctors set is a gift from Doctor Who toy license holder Character Options to those of us who will no longer be denied. Continue reading