Friday, June 17, 2011

Green Lantern Week - Toy Review Green Lantern Movie Figures By Mattel

This is going to be kind of a blanket review because we’ve got way too many of these things now to do individual reviews. I’m just going to hit on each of the things we’ve gotten and call it a day.
As I so often seem to end up saying, we weren’t going to buy any of these. I wanted the Movie Masters and Lil’ Troublemaker wanted the Action League toys. The regular kid-oriented movie figures just didn’t fit into the equation. The first shots of the figures weren’t that impressive and they looked to have virtually no articulation.
We were out doing our normal stuff one day and saw the Hal Jordan versus Parallax set at Target. Lil’ Troublemaker thought it looked cool and I was quite taken with the claw mechanism. We didn’t get it, but we ended up talking about it a couple of times over the next day or so. One day on the way home from work I couldn’t resist anymore, so I stopped at Target and bought it for him.

Just a couple of days later Mrs. Troublemaker and Lil’ T got in a near-accident in the car that was nobody’s fault and scared the shit out of all involved. Our son got a nasty bump on the head and ended up visiting the Emergency Room. Lil’ T was a trooper through the whole experience, so we went out to look for some kind of treat for being such a big boy. Walmart had the little Green Lantern movie figures and it was the first good look at the single-packed versions we had gotten. Kilowog actually looked really neat. So did Sinestro. I couldn’t believe Hunna and Stel were in the first assortment. And man, those constructs looked really cool. Plus, they were less than seven bucks apiece. I told him he could pick four out if he wanted to. He chose Kilowog, Sinestro, Hunna and Green Man.
I’ve since bought two more single figures and one of the big transforming construct/vehicle sets. I think it’s all pretty neat stuff, but today we’re going to take a closer look.
Final Conflict set – Parallax versus Hal Jordan
This is the first thing we got (well, after the mask/ring set) and the shine still hasn’t worn off. I’ll start with the weak stuff.
Cons – Parallax looks kind of fucking stupid. The little bit in the movie suggests that the finished creature looks awesome, but definitely looks like it would be difficult to translate into a toy form. This is evidenced by this toy and a picture that surfaced online that appears to be the finished Movie Masters Parallax. Neither looks very good at all. This Parallax has two tentacles/arms that sort of flail around when you roll the toy on the floor. The mechanism works pretty well but the tentacles themselves are only half sculpted. The inside of each tentacle is scooped out, looking like there should be another piece to complete them. It looks pretty shitty.
Hal Jordan has three points of articulation – both shoulders and his neck. That’s it. It’s like 1963 all over again. Also, his construct is permanently attached to his arm and kind of interferes with the functionality between Hal and Parallax.
Pros – Hal has a very cool sculpt and his paint job looks cool. There is enough detail that he looks a little better than the chunk of plastic that he really is. Also, he is sturdy.
Parallax may look kind of stupid, but almost in a cool way. It is sculpted out of clear plastic, and I am a huge sucker for translucent (and glow-in-the-dark) toys. The paint applications are minimal but look good. The rolling mechanism works as well as it needs to and thrills me because I didn’t even know it was there. It was like a bonus feature to me and the boy. The claw mechanism is mesmerizing. We must have pulled the trigger on Parallax’s tail a million times that first night just to watch that claw jump out of its stomach. Parallax is a very fun toy.
Overall – I think this is a fun set. Not every kid is going to dig Parallax’s ugly mug, but it sure is fun to play with. The claw works very well, but it does require a lot of setup to make it do what it is supposed to do; which is grab Hal Jordan (or other similarly-sized figures) and suck him back into Parallax’s big, evil tummy. You basically have to press the figure into Parallax’s claw and guide it back into the stomach. Rarely will the claw just grab the figure and yank it back in successfully. I think this is more likely a result of some overly restrictive United States toy manufacturing rule (“Toys for children ages 4-13 must not be capable of delivering more than .05 OZ crushing force”, or something like that) than an oversight on Mattel’s part. And you know how I hate giving Mattel the benefit of the doubt.
In short, we’ve played with this thing a lot since we bought it and I fell we got our money’s worth. I believe it retails for about twenty-two bucks right now, but I’ll bet a five spot you’ll find it on sale by the time the movie comes out or shortly thereafter. If your kid digs (or can tolerate) big, creepy monsters you should pick this one up. The execution may not be perfect – virtually no articulation on Hal – but the play value is great. If it was twenty or less I’d give it a 4, as things stand:
3 out of 5
Single-Carded Figures
This is where things get a little tricky. People are pretty furious that there is so little articulation on these guys (most have five points) and are constantly bringing up Hasbro’s admittedly awesome 3 ¾” figures to show how lame the Green Lantern toys are. I can’t argue their point. I’ve been an articulation whore since I was all of six years old. I dropped Star Wars in favor of GI Joe specifically because of the Joes amazing knees and elbows (not even bringing up the mind-boggling Swivel Arm Battle Grip that was introduced later!). I stopped buying McFarlane toys when they all but eliminated articulation. I will typically sell a DC Direct figure when Mattel produces that character. Believe me, if anybody looks down on minimally articulated figures, it’s me.
But there’s something about these little Green Lantern figures that makes me not care so much. I don’t know if it’s the magic of all the aliens or the fact that the sculpts look very cool and imaginative or just that Lil’ Troublemaker could care less if a figures can physically put another figure in a sleeper hold.
My point is, I’m not really judging articulation here. All of the single-packed figures we own have five points and it really hasn’t affected how much fun we have with them at all.
Cons – Seven bucks is the cheapest you can find these. I feel like every toy I buy nowadays is too damned expensive, but these are just shy of reasonable. If they were five apiece I would buy ten every time I went shopping. They’re all about the same quality; the only one with a notable problem is Hunna. His rocky sculpting interferes with his articulation, which – as noted – is minimal in the first place. I get that the sculptors probably wanted to emphasize this Lantern’s asymmetry, but I think a better solution could have been found.
Pros – The sculpts are very good for this size. I can’t express how much I love each character that we’ve gotten. To date, we have (with Lil’ Troublemaker’s designations in parenthesis):
Sinestro
Hannu (Rock Lantern)
Isamot Kol (Killer Croc Lantern)
Green Man (Frog Lantern)
Stel (Robot Lantern)
Kilowog
Maximum Charge Hal Jordan (Glow Green Lantern)
The paint on these guys is solid. They don’t have the same metallic look as the Movie Masters, but the greens look good and they are all clearly from the same line; which is more than you can say for the paint on the DCUC Corps figures. Of particular note is Hannu. He has a great granite-looking effect and I’m honestly not sure if it’s the plastic he’s molded from or a paint app. Kilowog’s head also looks much better than initial pictures. Really, each figure looks very nice.
The constructs are where this line really stands out. We all know how lacking Mattel’s other lines have been in this area. The opinion of many people – myself included – is that ring-generated constructs are not an optional accessory for a Lantern figure. It would be like suggesting that Robin might not come with a cape - something else Mattel does in one of its lines:
But Mattel seems to think it’s just fine to produce and sell a figure minus one of its signature features. Whatever. As long as chumps like us keep bending over, Mattel will keep sticking it in.
Okay, sorry. This is neither the time nor the place, mostly because Mattel has done right with the GL kids line. Every figure comes with a construct and there are a shitload of them. Saw blades, laser guns, morning stars, even a freaking bear trap (!); Mattel is knocking it out of the park with these. They even went so far as to make an adaptor piece that allows you to use the small-scale constructs on the larger DCUC and Movie Masters figures if you want to. Kilowog and Hannu both come with constructs that kind of look like the Shoryuken uppercut from Street Fighter. They have three inner rings where you insert the figure’s hand so they can fit several different hand sizes. There is a peg on the other end to attach pretty much any of the other constructs. It’s pretty ingenious, even if it does involve buying an off-scale figure just to get a piece for your larger ones. Of course, you can also keep an eye out for the Toys R Us Exclusive Ultimate Construct set. This appears to have most of the constructs for the line all packaged together.
Each figure also comes with a child-sized Green Lantern ring. In case you didn’t pick that up, child-sized. You will not be wearing this ring. Your petite wife will not be wearing this ring. Chances are if your child is over six they will not be wearing this ring. It is very tiny. These rings look great, but are just sort of there. In all honesty I would have preferred it if each figure came with one of the construct adapters. That would have made a whole lot more sense, especially considering you’re going to be buying that mask/light-up ring set anyway.
Overall – The value isn’t amazing for these toys, but they are a whole lot of fun and look really neat together. Between the constructs and the great variety of aliens (with presumably a lot more to come), this line practically demands to be collected. Your best bet is probably to go to Walmart and buy the four figure sets that are exclusive there, then fill in the individual figures that aren’t included among those eight. We like these and will in all probability end up with most of them. I can’t argue that more articulation wouldn’t be nice, but for some reason it just doesn’t bother me with these.
4 out of 5


Hal Jordan with Construct Mech Armor (or whatever)
Lil’ Troublemaker had been eyeing this one from the start. He loves robots and the fact that this was a robot and a Green Lantern meant it was going to end up in our house at some point whether I liked it or not.
While I wasn’t sure about the regular figures at first, I knew I wanted to pick up at least a couple of these transforming construct sets. They seemed like such a great and obvious idea and I was hoping they’d be as clever as they looked. Once we saw them in retail I felt pretty safe in passing on them. The mechanisms were too visible and the repaints that came with the sets didn’t look great. That Tomar Re that comes with the scorpion is an absolute abomination.
BUT we were out the other day and I am a sucker and my son wanted that thing so I bought it.
And it is kind of a piece of crap. Let’s take a look.
Cons – Okay, the deal with this thing is that it is supposed to transform from a tank into a mech suit. I didn’t even realize that when we bought it, so you’d think – just like the Parallax – bonus feature!, right? Not so much. It’s kind of like saying a Superman figure transforms from Standing Superman into Flying Superman when you lift his arms up and lay him horizontally. Except there’s a mechanism to perform the action that is much harder to use than just doing it yourself. This set includes a Green Lantern ring that is very similar to the ones that come with the individual figures, but with a “C” peg sticking out of it. In theory, you stick the ring into the back of the tank and turn it to transform it into the mech. In reality, it is much easier to turn the tank turret manually because you’re going to have to move all the other parts out of the way anyway. I admire the attempt, but this would have been a much better toy if it was just a mech or just a tank. As it is, it doesn’t make a great toy in either mode.
The tank turret has two guns, one of which shoots a new style of extremely crappy and flimsy missile that Mattel seems to have adopted.
Like the Parallax Hal Jordan, the one in this set only has three points of articulation.
Pros – The repaint on the Jordan figure is kind of neat. I like the cockpit on the vehicle and the way that it opens, as well as how the figure fits in. I am still a sucker for translucent toys, but this one doesn’t do much for me.
Overall – Blech. I wish I hadn’t bought this one, but Lil’ Troublemaker seems to be enjoying it, so I can’t consider it a total failure. The mechanism doesn’t work and it’s just kind of ugly, but he keeps playing with it.
2 out of 5
Store Exclusives
Naturally there are some exclusives out there. Unlike most other lines, the Green Lantern movie exclusives all seem pretty neat and more than just gimmicky cash grabs. Don’t get confused – they totally are gimmicky cash grabs; let’s just see if they make sense for your buck.
Walmart’s Green Lantern/Guardian 2-Packs This is a classic screw-over set. There are six sets – three of which are available (and in our home) as I write this. Each set includes a member of the Green Lantern Corps, an individual Guardian and a Lantern. While Mattel has been doing a good job of repainting Lanterns so you don’t feel too gipped when you end up with fifteen different Hal Jordans (Maximum Charge Hal, Classic Comic style Hal, Cosmic Sparkles Hal, All-Green Hal, All-Black Hal), the Lanterns that come in these packs are exactly the same as the single carded releases. Or at least the first three are. Hal, Sinestro and Kilowog each come with a different Guardian. The Guardians are all the same bodies with different heads, but you can’t really blame Mattel for that one. I mean, the Guardians pretty much are the same bodies with different heads. I don’t remember who comes with whom, but if you’re planning on buying some of this scale just to put on your shelf I’d say get these. The Guardian heads look really cool – they’re translucent with blue paint and each one has a unique sculpt. The actual Lanterns that come with these sets are the same sculpt as the Movie Masters Lantern that comes with Hal Jordan, but it works just as well. Which is to say that the smaller figures can’t hold the Lanterns, either.
For $12.97 apiece these sets are a decent value. If you’re just going to buy these and not any of the other toys you’ll do all right. Otherwise you’ll have six Lanterns to give your nephew or something. You could also get away with displaying these Guardians with your Movie Masters. They might be just a bit small, but they look fine in comparison. I know they’re doing a Movie Master of Krona, and while the production shot I saw looked goodl; his dress looks kind of insane to me. I like these little guys more. Plus they’re the only way you’ll have more than one Guardian.
3 out of 5
Target’s Supercharged figures – So far these are the coolest-looking Green Lantern toys I have seen. The packaging looks special and fantastic and the figures themselves just make you want to buy them. Well, they make me want to buy them, anyway. There are four so far – Sinestro, Hal, Abin Sur and Kilowog – and these are very exciting toys. The figures are translucent and have a light-up mechanism in their chests that pulses when you activate it. It looks very cool
We got an Abin Sur for Lil’ Troublemaker since he didn’t have one yet and I do believe I’m going to stop on the way home today and pick up a Kilowog for myself. These are way cooler than the Iron Man 2 light-ups Target got. You should buy at least one. Ten bucks may be a bit steep, but these are genuinely cool toys and collectors’ items and we just don’t get a whole lot of those.
4 out of 5
Random Other Green Lantern Stuff
There are a few other things that we’ve picked up or have opinions on, so here you go.
The mask and light-up ring set For seven bucks I think this is a great value. The mask is high quality and thick, not some foam piece of crap like you might think. The ring is the same mold as the others, but lights up. It looks great, with a clear top over the mechanism that creates a really cool effect when you press the center – it lights up and pulses (the same way the Target figures do). My only issue with this set is that the ring is so tiny. Don’t get me wrong – when it comes to stuff like this I’d much rather little kids be able to play with it than adults. It just would have been nice if there were an option because these items are so neat. If you’ve got a kid, you probably already own this.
Die-cast ring keychain This is a polybagged Toys R Us exclusive and pretty clearly a rip-off (money-wise, not license-wise). It is a larger version of the same ring we’ve been discussing previously, but it doesn’t light up. And it costs ten bucks. Pass.
Imaginext Green Lantern toys Mattel’s Fisher-Price Imaginext line offers a few neat items. They are mostly repaints, but they are done well enough. The first is an Oa playset, the very thought of which blows my mind. It’s a repaint of an existing moon base or something, but looks perfect as a GL base of operations. There are plenty of little action features and I think it’s a bargain for twenty bucks. It comes with adorable little figures of Kilowog, Ch’p and Hal Jordan. We were a little disappointed to see Hal in the package after a Jon Stewart was promised at Toy Fair, but the set is still very cool. This is a buy.
The next set is Hal Jordan with a construct mech suit and it is waaay better than the Movie one. It’s a recasting of an existing toy, but with green deco and a big Lantern symbol on the front. The only change I would make would be making the lights green rather than red. This one is also a buy.
Finally, there is a straight re-release that will make you mad. It’s the Green Lantern jet/spaceship that has already been repurposed as Robin’s jet/spaceship (of all things). It’s made of clear green plastic and is a very cool toy with a functioning cockpit and firing missiles. The problem is that this release is no different except for that fact that it comes with Hawkman and Flash in addition to the vehicle and Hal Jordan (again). It appears this is the only way to get Hawkman and Flash, so if you have raised your kid to be a completist nerd like you, you’re going to end up with two of this vehicle. It wouldn’t be a huge deal if the GL included had been somebody other than Hal, but we’re definitely experiencing some Hal Jordan fatigue in all of our lines right now. This is a buy, but only if you have to have Flash and Hawkman or don’t already own the ship.

Final Note The prices on the items I’ve covered today vary a decent little bit depending on where you buy them. Toys R Us is the best place to buy Movie Masters, but little else. Walmart seems to have the lowest prices on everything, while Target is a little higher on some items but the only place you can get the Imaginext stuff; which is all fairly priced anyway.

Bonus! As a special reward for those of you who actually read this whole post, here's the final scene of Green Lantern. I saw it last night and it's pretty great, but some of the effects... well, you'll see:
video



Until next time, stay creepy
-Phantom

2 comments:

  1. I'm so overwhelmed with your collection. Did not had the time to read the entire post but just looking at your toys makes me happy for you on having them. Wish to have that same collection with me... Nice post...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks! Years and years of dorkery, my friend.

    ReplyDelete