In 1987, 20th Century Fox introduced the world to the Predator in one of the most memorable action films of Arnold Schwarzenegger's career. I wouldn't see the movie until a few years after it's release on cable at a sleepover, but the impression it made was instant. In 1989, Dark Horse brought the alien hunters to the masses through the first of many mini-series, Concrete Jungle. The four-issue series actually focused on the brother of Schwarzenegger's Dutch Schaffer, a New York police detective working the narcotics division. Even all these years later, the cover to the first issue is still a bold and memorable one, which was a hallmark of DHP's Predator books way back when. Since those earliest Predator stories, the franchise has stuck with fans, and the tribal aliens have appeared in a variety of forms over the years.
These comics, which arrived on the scene before Danny Glover and Predator 2, were the first time we learned there could be more than one of these ugly mother f---ers out there. Dark Horse's books continued expanding on the universe of the Yautja over the years, building a deep history for the alien race, and even helping inspire a bit of cross-pollination with the Alien franchise (also at 20th Century Fox and Dark Horse). Still, Concrete Jungle, which acted as a direct sequel of sorts to the original film remains one of the most important. Now, in celebration of the 25th anniversary Dark Horse's first Predator comics, NECA's released a special version of the iconic hunter commemorating that stunning cover.
I'll admit, when Square Enix hinted the Black Widow would be joining its Marvel Variants line, I was a bit concerned. The Variants line is filled with some fairly radical redesigns of familiar characters, and some of the artistic choices made for the DC Variants line's female figures left little to the imagination. However, once I saw the prototype at SDCC this year, I was actually excited to see the final version. The Black Widow on display there wasn't quite as massive a departure as some previous Variants figures had been, and showed a lot of unpainted promise for the final release.
This week, Square revealed the fully-painted prototype, and the images (courtesy of ToyArk) show off a Black Widow that's actually really close to her comic book counterpart. Only Iron Man, Spider-Man, Venom and Thor have been shown off in this form to this point. Each of those is still immediately recognizable, but share some influences that are instantly noticeable as Play Arts style. The new Black Widow, while proportionately rocking some Taylor Swift legs, doesn't appear to look that drastically different from iterations of her design that we've seen in her comic book past.
Upcoming collectible toy video game Lego Dimensions has already promised a wealth of crossover potential with the likes of Batman, Gandalf and Wyldstyle starring alongside each other in an adventure that spans (almost) all of Lego's properties. While we've been focused on characters from Back to the Future, Scooby-Doo and Portal joining the fray, we almost forgot about the idea that many of these characters exist in different forms within the Lego Universe already thanks to the Lego Movie. TT Games hasn't forgotten though.
In the latest trailer for the developer's new flagship Lego title, we get to see a multitude of familiar faces from all ranges of Lego lines, but it's the chance meeting of DC's Batman and Wyldstyle's former flame, Batman, that gives us the clearest idea of what to expect from the upcoming action game. The lines between realities have been blurred beyond recognition, and now Batman and Batman will have to figure out which Batman is the Batman-est Batman to don the cape and cowl.
Typically, we only get to see the end result of the effort sculptors and designers at Hot Toys put into each of the figures the company releases. As the company is overseas, getting a look behind the scenes is rare. Sometimes Hot Toys will share a quick pic on social media of an in-progress sculpt, but for the most part, we're all in the dark about the creative process in the studio.
As one of the more secretive companies in the game right now, it's a big deal whenever we're given a peek behind the curtain. Such is the case with this brief YouTube video from The Story, a Korean news channel which featured an interview with Hot Toys' president, JC Hong. Originally released back in April, the video is only just now making the rounds, but still offers a small glimpse at the work and process each of Hot Toys' incredibly accurate and pricey figures goes through.
It's not often that I set my alarm on a Sunday, but when there is an opportunity to check out some new toys before they arrive on the market, I have been known to be motivated enough to drag myself out of bed. I've been eager to see Disney Playmation in action ever since it was announced, and even though I'm not the target demographic, I happened to know a would-be Avenger that was more than willing to try out the new toys, too. What kid doesn't want the opportunity to be Iron Man for a day?
There hasn't been much news about Playmation since its big reveal in June, but the Disney Store just started hosting public preview events earlier this month. Disney Playmation came about in response to a Disney-funded study that revealed parents wished their kids spent more time being active, but didn't want them to have to give up newfangled technological advances. Created by some of Disney's best and brightest Imagineers and developers to nail the intersection of that big Venn diagram, and with a little help from Hasbro, Playmation was born. Thirty minutes after arriving at "Avengers Labs," I had a much clearer idea of what Playmation was and what to expect. Even though I now have a better notion of how Disney Playmation works, I have concerns about whether or not it can accomplish the lofty goals set for it.
This week's Ani-Com and Games Hong Kong event is barely underway, but Hot Toys has already announced a handful of new and eagerly awaited figures in its sixth-scale Marvel line. The company's had an incredibly busy year with both the Star Wars and Marvel Cinematic Universe making up the bulk of Hot Toys' new figures. While the majority of the Avengers: Age of Ultron cast has already been shown numerous times, the ACGHK marked the debut of Quicksilver, and for the first time, an all-new Nick Fury based on his appearance in Captain America: Winter Soldier.
Neither of those reveals was as important however as the update to Guardians of the Galaxy's Drax the Destroyer. Drax has been MIA from any official release schedules, unlike the rest of the Guardians of the Galaxy. As the last member of the crew to be formally announced, fans had been plastering Hot Toys' social media pages with pictures of an earlier prototype, hoping against hope that eventually Hot Toys would actually have news on the character's figure instead of another new Iron Man armor to hype. Today, those dreams came true.
The hustle and bustle of con season may be well under way here in the States, but the Asian convention circuit is only just beginning. Ani-Com and Games Hong Kong 2015 kicks off this week, and Hot Toys will be there in full force showing off new items that were just not quite ready enough for San Diego Comic-Con. Though the company's been busy this week already with major announcements of new figures, there are plenty more on the way, including those that might fly under the radar.
Case in point, the just-announced Ant-Man and Flying Ant miniature collectible that will be on display for the first time at ACCHK. As part of what I'm presuming was a stipulation in all of Marvel's licensing contracts that any Ant-Man merchandise deals must include at least five mini-figures (seriously, enough already), Hot Toys has prepped a figure not unlike those you've seen from Hasbro and Funko already. The main difference being that this 4" collectible bears the Hot Toys brand name, and will come at a premium as a result.
I give Hot Toys a lot of grief over the amount of Iron Man figures its released since the first movie arrived back in 2008. Over the course of the last seven years, there have been more than 40 different Iron Man sixth-scale figures (including Tony Starks) crafted by Hot Toys. New armors or variants seemingly get announced every week, and with Iron Man set to appear in at least a few more Marvel movies over the next four years, it's a trend that will likely continue, too. However, in all that time, I've only ever purchased one figure based on the license, and even that was a Tony Stark figure, not a true Iron Man suit of armor.
Given just how many armors have been released by Hot Toys, you'd think it would be hard to craft a piece that truly stands out among it peers. To an extent, that's true enough of the Avengers: Age of Ultron Iron Man MK XLIII sixth-scale figure. Just like its movie counterpart, the Hot Toys MK XLIII is a repainted MK XLII from Iron Man 3, which swaps the red and gold color arrangement. But that's just on the surface. Where this figure sets itself apart is in the little details, and sometimes that kind of attention to minutiae can make all the difference.
Did you know Hot Toys makes Iron Man figures? This week, the company announced its 51st Iron Man collectible. Just for a frame of reference, there have only been around 310 Movie Masterpiece figures (its most recognized series). Forty-nine of them have been sixth-scale Iron Man armors or Tony Starks, which means 16% of all Hot Toys figures are Iron Man in some capacity. Think about that.
The company's quarter-scale line hasn't been quite as robust, but in two out of the six are also Iron Man pieces. We've already seen the Iron Man MK XLIII 1/4 figure, but now the MK XLV will join him. Fresh from its silver screen appearance in Avengers: Age of Ultron, the MK XLV armor is just the sixth quarter-scale figure Hot Toys has ever developed. It's got all the bells and whistles you're likely accustomed to seeing from Hot Toys at this point, but this week has officially pushed Hot Toys' Iron Man collection into Fatal Attraction levels of obsession.
Last year, Hot Toys obtained the Star Wars license to create 1/6 and 1/4 scale figures and collectibles. After working its way through Stormtroopers, Darth Vader, Boba Fett, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker, Hot Toys finally found some time in the schedule for arguably one of the most important female icons in fandom, Princess Leia. Even though we've seen Leia represented in her New Hope outfit about a thousand different times, it's been rare to see her in sixth-scale form.
Leia's inclusion in the line is more than welcome, as for the past few years we've been under a deluge of Clone Troopers, Stormtroopers, Lukes and Hans, with the occasional Vader or droid thrown in for good measure. It's also worth noting that the current crop of Star Wars toys at retail is seriously lacking in the female department, and Slave Leias have been warming pegs coming up on two years now. While I'm sure that incarnation of the character will certainly be part of Hot Toys' plans, the time is now for A New Hope.
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