12 Aug 2018

Asmus Lord of the Rings Gimli

It sometimes can take years for a company to complete a core series of characters, and in some cases companies just give up! The Lord of the Rings is one such movie series, where the cast of characters is so extensive even large companies like Sideshow give up on it.

So when Asmus started producing official Lord of the Rings figures, there was doubt they would be able to complete the core Fellowship cast. But they promised they would, and they have delivered on that promise in the best possible way!

This Gimli is a fantastic figure, and shows just how far Asmus has come from their first figure to this new Gimli. Click through below to watch my 2-part review of the figure that is definitely one of their very best figures to date.

Part 1, covering the main figure and accessories.

Part 2, covering the final setup of the figure and the complete Fellowship cast of figures.

The packaging is the same style as their previous releases, with decent cover art and clamshell. As always, the figure comes with a decent array of accessories of exceptional quality. The 5 axes are all made of diecast metal, with intricate detailing that shows the likes of Hot Toys how weapons really should be done in this scale!

The elven cloak is the same nice soft material as previous released with the other figures, this time with an improved brooch. It's a shame the brooch is pretty much hidden by the beard once put onto the figure! The array of hands are nicely sculpted and painted, but definitely need some hot water to soften them to hold the weapons.

The helmet is also nicely done, with a strap that goes under the chin of the head sculpt. It was a little tricky at first to get it on, but I realised it had to be put on at an angle. This way the knotches inside the helmet fit over the ears of the figure nicely and the centre sits just above the bridge of his nose. It's nicely done, but just be careful taking it off as it may catch the rooted hair.

Once all set up, the figure simply looks amazing. Asmus spent a lot of time prototyping the rooted hair, in particular the beard and moustache. They took collectors on that journey with many behind the scenes photos of their trials. The end result is spectacular, and shows that they now have the skills to manufacture in large scales the intricate details of braided hair.

The thicker braids along the outer beard, and the finer braids for the moustache are done beautifully and realistically. It all melds together with the face sculpt perfectly, with little sculpted and painted areas on the skin that blend it all.

The facial paint app is also an improvement over previous figures, with nice skin texture and realism. There probably isn't as much wrinkling and details as the prototype, but that's probably expected going into final production. Overall, this is the best work they've done in the series so far I think.

You can display the figure without the helmet, but I think the classic look is definitely with it on. It fits nicely and frames the head sculpt perfectly. Some have had issues with the head sculpt sitting a little too high, but I put some hot water on the joint, and it pushed down nicely for me.

As I mentioned, the axes are beautifully done. The brushed metal gives a realistic weather appearance, and the minute details really show the skill they have in the manufacturing process for these. It puts to shame weapons like the Hot Toys Wonder Woman sword that was made out of plastic.

All the weapons have slots on the costume to hold. The only issue is trying to fit the two smaller axes onto the left side of the belt. The holes for them are very small, and it will take some careful adjustment to get both in. My belt looked like it was starting to split when I tried to put both, so I stopped and left only one in there. I have seen photos with both axes in, so it is possible, but just be very careful.

But for the most part, the weapons go in easily enough. The medium sized axes fits on his right side nicely through the loops on the belt and his torso strap. The larger axe fits through loops on his back and through the hole in the elven cloak. Just adjust it to balance where the axe lies so that it doesn't slip down.

The rest of the costume is right up there with the best from Asmus. They have always excelled at clothing, and Gimli is no exception. There are multiple complex layers, so just futz around until you get things laying naturally. My only concern would be the material they've chosen for the chainmail. It's a silver type patterning on the front, with some sort of semi-rigid rubber backing. I think that over time that might start to crack, so it's probably best to avoid too much bending at the elbows.

Overall, Asmus has now completed the core Fellowship of the Ring with an outstanding release in Gimli. They are the only company I know of that have been committed enough to do all 9 characters from the Fellowship. The consistent quality makes them all look fantastic displayed together.

With their rooted hair technique now perfected, I really hope they go back and release an expansion set for Legolas with rooted hair. That would definitely take that figure to the next level and top off a set of amazing figures. I'm glad Asmus has come through on their promise, and these figures will be a centerpiece of my collection for many years to come!

10 Aug 2018

Some pics of the collection from the past 3 months

It feels like it's been a pretty slow few months on the collecting front. But I have taken photos over that period of older figures and new things too, so thought I'd post a few here. Enjoy! :)

Love the head sculpt on this Hot Toys Grand Moff Tarkin!

Ryu has been my main character in Street Fighter for 25 years. So happy to get such an awesome centrepiece like the PCS 1/3 scale Ryu in the collection!

Speaking of statues, also got the Sideshow She-Ra statue to add to He-Man, Skeletor, and Evil-Lyn. Now looking forward to Orko in September. Hopefully they continue the series!

I got some acrylic cases made earlier in the year, and spacing out the collection was great. The cases do make groups of figures stand out for sure!

Some random pics of the figures I have in the other cabinets.

Still trying to figure out the best way to space out the collection and not crowd things too much. Have sold a few things too in order to get some extra space. Will have to think about that more once a few new things come in this later part of the year!

Most recently got the final figure in the Fellowship of the Ring with Gimli. An outstanding figure for Asmus to complete the core cast of characters!

Hope you can all stay tuned on the website, YouTube channel, and Facebook page for more pics and reviews coming soon :)

30 Jun 2018

Bandai Star Wars Movie Realization Yari Ashigaru Stormtrooper

Bandai have been pretty slow in releasing figures in their Star Wars Movie Realization series. Most of been variants of Stormtroopers, and this latest is no different. Luckily they're still keeping the series going with the upcoming Snowtrooper and Threepio.

But for now, click through below to check out my full review of this Yari Ashigaru over on the Kool Kollectibles YouTube channel! Hope you can give the video a like and subscribe to the channel too :)

Box art and array of accessories are nothing really new in this series. All done nicely and with little fuss.

The only major issue I had was the looseness in the wait joint where it popped out very easily. After a bit of a closer look at the joint, and some discussion on the Sideshow Freaks Forum, the cause was identified. The waist joint is on a double hinge, and the lower was actually bent lower than normal. This meant the torso wasnt attached properly and was easy to pop off.

You just have to reach in there and move the very tight lower joint straighter so that the ball peg sticks up higher. Then the torso will attach nicely and it won't pop off easily.

The new Spearman fits in beautifully with the rest of the Stormtrooper gang. It shares much of the style and accessories as the previous drummer and archer. Whilst a nice figure, these Stormtrooper variants are getting a bit boring. It's great that a new look with the Snowtrooper is coming to change things up a bit.

I really hope more new molds are coming. Threepio has been teased, but even a feudal Japanese version of Yoda or the Emperor would be fantastic!

Lego 75181 Star Wars Ultimate Collector Series Y-Wing

I don't collect too much from Lego, but I do love their Star Wars Ultimate Collector Series. I now have the new X-Wing, TIE Fighter, Slave 1, Snowspeeder, and Millenium Falcon. I just couldn't resist this new Y-Wing, and it's another great release in this series.

Click through below for my full review over on the Kool Kollectibles YouTube channel!

Check out the series of unboxing and build steps below. Glad it was a much simpler build than the Millenium Falcon, but still had some innovative and interesting build sections.

With the May 4th release date, Lego also included the BB-8 figure, similar to their R2-D2 the year before with the Snowspeeder. They go well with each other! I also do a quick review over on the YouTube channel here.

Bags 1 to 3 completed. Nice solid core to the spacecraft.

Bags 4 to 6 completed. The standout is definitely all the detailed greebling in this centre core section.

Bags 7 and 8 completed with the cockpit. Looks nice, but godammit I hate bloodystickers!! No idea why Lego tamps patterns on some on pieces, whilst choosing to leave other markings as stickers. I got most of mine on well enough, but just tamp them all damn it!

Bags 9 to 13 finished off the set. The set is simple and yet so elegantly beautiful! Love the detailed greebling, but was a little tedious to all put together towards the end. Either way, looks nice on display!

Couple of minifigs go with the set. I still hate that the nameplate is a bloody sticker! GAAH!!

A pic for size perspective. Great looking UCS Y-Wing. And yes, I did make some pew pew sounds flying it around the room lol

29 Jun 2018

Hot Toys MMS437 Anakin Skywalker

I'm not a big fan of the prequels, but have thought about at least getting the main villains from that trilogy. I already have the Sideshow Darth Maul and Jango Fett figures, and just couldn't resist getting this new Hot Toys Anakin Skywalker.

Click through below to check out my full video review over on the Kool Kollectibles YouTube channel.

The packaging is the usual simple, yet classy style from Hot Toys. The cardboard insert and cover both give a good look at the prototype figure, and the final production version is very close in quality.

The array of accessories is decent at this price point, with a couple of lightsabers. It's a shame that the Dooku saber wasn't also included as a light up option, but I guess having two swap out arms was a step too far for Hot Toys. Luckily I don't really use light up features and remove all the batteries anyway.

The swap out hands cater for many poses that you would want, with both gloved and ungloved versions. My favourite accessory would have to be the swap out robotic arm. The articulation in the forearm and fingers is very nice, as is the glossy black and gold paint app.

The main accessory that I wish they had included was of course a swap out head sculpt with Sith eyes. Hot Toys have just announced a toy fair exclusive that has that head sculpt, but it would've sweetened the deal on this version if it was included. It's a shame that they include those swap out head scuplts with some figures, but not this one that was screaming for it. But at least collectors now have the options on buying either version.

The Jedi robe has been a point of discussion with collectors. There is a warning in the instruction manual to not let the robe touch the head sculpt or hands for long periods because the robe could stain them. In fact, the fist that came on the figure by default out of the box already had a small stain where the robe had touched it in the packaging.

Collectors have resorted to soaking the robe in water to remove the excess dye. This apparently helps prevent the risk of transferring the dye to the figure. I haven't tried that myself, but will have another closer look over the figure to see if I can be bothered doing that.

I have tried putting the hood over the head sculpt and using the wire in the hood to shape it around the face. It's pretty tricky, and I still haven't folded it in a way that looks realistic or as accurate to the movie as it can be. I'm pretty close to just giving up on that and having the hood just folded around this shoulders!

The rest of the outfit on the figure is very nicely done. There are a number of layers to the outfit tailored from different materials, and that all adds to a nice premium look to the figure. The fake leather folds across the shoulders and front are soft, and crease fairly realistically. Mine appears locked in place in the centre as I can't really adjust the centre position. But it can be pulled or tightened around the shoulders to prevent them ballooning out too much. There's a wire in that area too so it can be shaped around the shoulders.

The pants are nicely done, but I would be very careful not to pull them out of the boots, or to remove the boots. It would be an absolute pain in the arse to put them back into the boots since there is very little tolerance. The boots themselves are a soft material, which gives them a nice give around the ankles for more realistic articulation there. So overall, I'm pretty impressed with the outfit.

The head sculpt is also a standout for me. The paint app is the usual high Hot Toys standard - I don't think any other 1/6th scale company puts out quality head sculpt paint apps as consistently as Hot Toys. The scar is nicely painted, and the sculpt even has the tiny marks on this left jawline just like he has in real life. It's that attention to detail that sets Hot Toys apart from the competition.

Overall, another solid Star Wars release by Hot Toys. I look forward to getting the Revenge of the Sith Obi-wan to complement this Anakin.

26 Jun 2018

Sideshow Masters of the Universe She-Ra Exclusive

I've loved the previous releases by Sideshow in this Masters of the Universe statue series. The new aesthetic is a nice interpretation on these cartoon characters, blending the iconic 80s features of the characters whilst giving a more mature style for today.

I thought the prototype of She-Ra looked fantastic, and overall the final production version is pretty close. Click through below to check out my full video review over on the Kool Kollectibles YouTube channel. Hope you can give the video a thumbsup and subscribe to the channel too!

The box art comes in the same style as the previous statues, with nice photos of the prototype. It's always good to use those pics to compare the final production version and see if there are any major differences. For this one, there are a couple of minor tweaks to the head sculpt to change the facial features slightly.

Everything is packed in foam nicely. I got the exclusive version which comes with the additional swap out left arm holding the shield. This is a pretty nice exclusive accessory to differentiate it from the standard arm. The shield itself looks pretty nice, and the paint application is decent.

As I mentioned, the head sculpt is tweaked from the prototype. I think the prototype version had fuller and softer features. The final version has sharper lines and seems a fraction more elongated, giving it a more Amazonian-warrior look. I think both sculpts are nice, and this stronger look is equally appropriate for the warrior princess.

The main issue I had with my head sculpt was the helmet or cowl. It doesn't sit quite perfectly centred on her face, so the side pieces down her cheeks aren't quite symmetrical. They are a softer plastic so there's a bit of play to move them, but it would've been nice if they had centered it perfectly when glueing that helmet piece on.

The sculpt of the body is great, and captures her beauty and grace pretty well. The flowing hair, and ability to bend the wire in the cape to match the flow in the wind is nice. The shoulder pauldron piece that clips the cape to the body is a little fiddly, but once connected properly it does a pretty good job in keeping it together. Just take some time folding the cape in a realistic manner and it'll look great on display.

Mine isn't quite as good as I would want, but I've left it for now. I'll adjust more once I swap out the replacement shoulder piece. I got a replacement since the paint app on mine was scratched up. Sideshow have sent me a new one, but I haven't had the chance to change it up yet.

The skin tone over the body is even and consistent. There's not too much in terms of skin texture though, so a bit of subtle freckling would add a tad more realism to the paint application. One problem I did find with the paint app was around the white parts of her dress. Particularly towards the hem, the green tinge of the underlying body or paint layer shows through, giving parts of the dress a greenish, almost corroded look.

I don't think this was intentional, and I've seen photos on the forums of statues with far worse green than mine. For She-Ra, her dress should be a bright white with perhaps a bit of weathering. But I do think the green is just a QC issue where sufficient white paint was not used to hide the green underneath.

Overall though, I think Sideshow have done a pretty good job with She-Ra. She complements He-Man and the others well with this style. The base of course sticks out from the rest, but that's to be expected of the Crystal Castle. The transluscent parts perhaps could've been done to look less plasticky, as well as the jewels on the sword and shield, but they're not too bad in the scheme of things.

I'm hoping that Sideshow announce more characters in this series. I really hope others from the core cast, such as Sorceress, Man-At-Arms, Beastman, Merman etc are all made. They would look fantastic in this style. Orko is up next though, and has been delayed until around September. I'm hoping that turns out great too!