At Comic-Con I was lucky enough to bump into Derryl DePriest and say that First Strike Comic Preview Mega-Set is an exclusive of which I hope they're extremely proud. It's amazing, and the price isn't bad either. For about $110, you get the Japanese fancy deco version of a popular Transformers toy, six 3 3/4-inch action figures with stands and accessories, plus a gaggle of micro dudes. Considering the big box and limited run, this is a real gem.
The ambition of this set is crazy. The fact that we're seeing properties from Hasbro, Palitoy, Mego, Takara, Parker Bros., and Kenner all in one big box - presumably in part to remind people of a possible shared Hasbroverse and trademark renewals - makes me very happy. This is the greatest gift for toy nerds, and as one of them, I love it. Matt Trakker and Jetfire have been released in the USA previously, but both have some changes with everything else sporting at least some new parts or pieces. It's a shame this isn't a wide release, but if you have a crack at it you should buy it. Due to the size of the set and my own deadlines, this is a little superficial.
Let's start with Jetfire. He's a redeco of Thrilling 30 Jetfire [FOTD #1,018], and this release is very similar if not identical to Takara-Tomy's Jetfire a few years ago. It is also nearly identical to the paint job on the back of that toy's box. This 2017 edition of the figure has no chrome and more red paint. Also more black paint. The one problem I had was that the clear blue visor popped out when I removed his battle mask, so be extra careful when taking this off - you may wish to glue it. Transformation is simple and the same as the other toy, and this is clearly the more attractive of the Jetfire toys. Considering the import price of the Japanese version is close to $100, your ability to get this set at or near retail price makes it a better alternative. I love and prefer the added red deco on the legs, the black paint on the cannons, and the added red detailing on the body. You can't go wrong here.
All of the figures come with display stands. One of them is based on the 25th anniversary line's black stands, while the rest are tooled from the movie from 2009.
From ROM comes the title character and a Dire Wraith. ROM seems to be a mix of new and old parts - armored Cobra Commander's legs are present, the arms look a lot like existing ones with a new head and chest. The head (and everything else) is painted silver, with black and red detail around the face. He has an accessory that I don't know what it's supposed to be (I don't read the comics yet), but he can grip it flawlessly. It looks sort of like a 1960s toy ray gun mashed up with a crossing guard sign. It works. His body is a bit boxier than the original toy or the comic look, but it has its charm. The head seems just right for me, and he looks like he could pal around with my Outer Space Men action figures.
The companion Dire Wraith has a new head with a mishmash of existing parts. Flint's body is joined by Zombie-Viper lower arms and some pretty nice pants I don't immediately recognize. Articulation is great - there are bicep and forearm swivels. Double-jointed knees. That weird ab swivel nobody likes. A reused medical satchel. There's no ignoring that creepy head with the big grin and multiple eyes, a departure from the original Marvel Dire Wraith designs.
From M.A.S.K. comes Matt Trakker, a redesign of a redesign from a few years ago. His armor and helmet were used on the Agent Trakker G.I. Joe action figure, but the body is largely made up of different parts in a Trakker-esque deco. He has a new head sculpt modeled after the IDW comic version of the character, and the body and limbs are changed slightly. I'm not quite sure which parts are from which previously release figures, but it's kind of amazing to see that this particular action figure shares very few parts with the previous Trakker release. Articulation is standard Joe fare - 24 joints. That ain't bad. All he has is a blaster, unlike the previous version which has a silly yet fun chopper backpack.
I'm not familiar with Action Man beyond the 20th century incarnations, so this is new to me - I assume the torso is recycled thanks to the hole in the back for a backpack. He has 3 guns, a new head sculpt, and a design that matches the IDW comic art. The brand name means very little to American toy fans unless you recall the nifty 12-inch figures sold alongside Max Steel almost 20 years ago, or collect British toys. I think the blue with orange trim looks spiffy, and I appreciate that his head looks more modern than the decidedly retro blue armored counterpart with the owl staff. For my sake, I'd have loved an icon or a logo on the figure somewhere, whatever form that may take. Its a neat figure. I don't have any brand loyalty to it, but I can look at it and say "hey, that's a nice figure."
Despite decent name recognition, informal polling among my peers tends to prove that when most of us hear of Hasbro's Visionaries, what we actually picture are its competitor - Tonka's Super-Naturals. The latter had bigger hologram stickers and made new characters with the same tooling. Hasbro's line had a bigger marketing budget and better name recognition, but the Knights of the Magical Light didn't have a huge fan following, but a cult. You know, like Battle Beasts. (Where are my Revolution Battle Beasts?) After a recent Mighty Muggs figure, this is Hasbro's second Leoric figure in the past decade - and I couldn't tell you which parts are recycled. At first glance I thought it might be a B.A.T. body, but Mr. DePriest informed me it was not after calling me an ignorant slut. (He did not actually call me an ignorant slut. Hi, Derryl.) The figure sports a removable helmet, a very 1980s mustache, a whip, and a staff. I believe the gear is new except for the whip, which seems to be a reuse of Croc Master's.
My main complaint is that while we got a wonderful sculpt in great colors with the always great articulation, the two stickers are boring and flat. The 3-D sticker thing was a real craze for a short time when every credit card had them, they were magical and kids dug them. On toys, they were a hit - the rainbow foil stickers still retain a magical light sensation, but the depth, the wonder are gone. I'm also 30 years older than these were when I first saw them, so maybe I'm full of crap. What I love the most about this figure - and indeed all of these figures - is that it shows how the construction of the aging 25th Anniversary-style G.I. Joe figures are easily adaptable to make all kinds of things.
The lone representative of G.I. Joe is Roadblock - and the figure uses parts from an unreleased figure of the character from a few years ago. I had a falling out with Joe just because I realized I wasn't playing with most of it, so I am unfamiliar with his new, sideburned head. I know mostly goatees and judgement. He has knives, a pistol on his hip, a backpack, and a generally large build. Despite having a machine gun with removable magazine and a knife in his boot, the figure looks friendlier than most Joes. Articulation is standard Joe fare, he's got a cool vest, and paint is generally good. The pants above the knee are colored differently than below the knee, so know that going into this. Along with Action Man, Roadblock has rocker ankles.
Rounding out the set were nine Micronauts. You get tiny 1-inch figures of Biotron, Phenelo-Phi, Xant, Oberon, Time Traveler Quin-Tillus, Acroyear, Baron Karza, Betatron, and Gammatron. None have articulation, all have some paint, and I honestly don't recognize most of them as having had toys previously. I got a reissue Baron Karza years ago, and this figure replicates Mego's design nicely - you can see the big red rockets, the red stomach, the not-quite-Vader helmet, and the backpack rocket launchers. Even his pose looks like something the original toy can pull off without too much trouble. The Time Traveller is green with silver hair, not really a match for the vintage figures but still pretty cool. I wish it had the full silver head. The Acroyear looks a lot like the classic toy, with a different color of sword. Biotron is unmistakable from his original silver, red, white, and blue toy while Xant seems a bit like the original Membros toy, minus color and some detail. The rest, well, they're new to me - but kinda neat, and a welcome reference to the legacy of the line that gave us a real toy revolution in the late 1970s and 1980s.
It'd be a bargain at 150% the price, but you might not want it all - combining so many items in a box is a strange one for Hasbro, as people who specialize in one theme may not want the rest. Transformers fans can get Jetfire elsewhere, Matt Trakker is significantly different than his last release, and everything else is new and interesting. It's one of the best toy dork gift boxes you'll ever see, and I hope Hasbro does something similar down the road. But, you know, easier to get. In a smaller box. That takes up less space in the giant box I had to drag on a bus to get to the airport.
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