Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Toy Review: Masters of the Universe Classics Zodac by Dean René Middleton

It’s time for a bit of a retrospective look at the Masters of the Universe Classics Zodac figure. And I must admit that I when I first saw the pre release photos of this character I was particularly underwhelmed. The images of Zodac that were displayed on only served to stir up some of the memories I had from my childhood of walking into toy shops only to discover that many of the more desirable Masters of the Universe characters had already sold out, leaving only countless Zodac figures and weapons packs on the pegs.

As a direct result of those experiences, even now whenever I heart the term “Peg warmer” an image of that 1980’s Zodac figures face is usually the first thing that springs to my mind.

So when Zodac finally went up for sale on, I had some serious doubts and reservations about actually ordering him. For the most part I’d been really impressed with all the figures that had been released up to that point, but something about Zodac just didn’t feel right to me.

But even so, after a casual 45 minutes or so of procrastination [the previous figures Faker and Mer-Man had sold out in around an hour] I decided to order him. And when he arrived to my surprise I was not at all disappointed with him.

Zodac is very strange and quite unique in the sense that as a stand alone figure it cannot be denied that he is easily the most lack lustre of the MOTUC line up, and this has always been the case with the original Zodac from the 1980’s line.

However Zodacs real strengths are exposed when he is displayed within a context. And by that I mean if he is positioned alongside other characters such as the Heroic Warriors or Evil Warriors. That is where I feel that the figure really starts to shine.

Realistically, Zodac is probably the prime example of what the Masters of the Universe toy line was originally all about, in terms of having the power to create ones own world and acting out their fantasies with these characters. So Zodac is really what you make him. If you enjoy thinking up your own stories and mythology when looking at the MOTU figures, then the chances are that you will be able to appreciate this character greatly.

But if you enjoy the MOTU mythology just the as it is directly presented by Mattel, then the chances are that you will find this character considerably lacking in terms of overall excitement and visual appeal. And to realise that many people would feel that way is not very surprising, since as one of the original 8 figures released, Zodac has suffered from a criminal lack of character development.

His brief appearances in the Filmation cartoon made him appear as distant and morally ambiguous, which I personally as a kid I found hard to understand with such clear cut portrayals of good and evil being displayed by many of the other characters. Again this was directly contrasted by the way that it actually described him on the original card back as a “Evil Cosmic Enforcer”.

Furthermore his powers and abilities and overall purpose in the MOTU world was never really touched upon in the Mini Comics that were packaged with the original figures either. In fact the only story where Zodac featured a prominent role was in the short lived 4 issue DC comics story arc. And as a result of all of this, I think it has had a detrimental impact on Zodacs more wide spread appeal.

But even so, I do feel that he is actually a very good action figure. While not as visually stunning as characters such as Man-At-Arms or even Tri-Klops, Zodac does feel like a genuine part of the MOTUC line up.

His articulation is pretty much what we have come to expect from MOTUC, featuring around approximately 25 points of articulation. He shares the same hairy back sculpt from the Beast-Man and Stratos figures, and also has his standard Cosmic Enforcer Gun.

The armour is also removable, and I suppose this is where I think that they could have made a few improvements to the figure. It would be nice if they had incorporated some type of hook or holster which would enable Zodac to carry his gun on his body rather than in his hand all of the time.

And looking at the interesting touches that were made to Man-At-Arms, and even Mer-Mans armour design to allow for the weapons to be carried on their bodies, I think that Zodac could have really benefited from the same type of treatment.

Also, the gun itself seems to have a handle that is slightly too thin, and it tends to whirl around in his hand like a nightstick, rather than a gun.

Some fans also feel that it would have been nice if he had white gloves rather than the flesh coloured hands. Personally I don’t mind that, since I like to have Zodac in my collection as an “Evil Cosmic Enforcer”, and the white gloves may perhaps have detracted from the ambiguity of the character slightly.

But I do think that perhaps the inclusion of alternate heads with 2 different expressions that were either Heroic or Sinister looking would have vastly helped to increase the overall appeal of this character.

So Zodac is a polarising figure indeed. But I genuinely feel that he is figure that is defiantly worth adding to a MOTU collection. Because with the imminent release of the 200x inspired Zodak and the upcoming Wun-Dar figure, the Cosmic enforcers seem to be carving their on little contingent within the MOTU universe. And that will ultimately help to provide more diversity besides what we have already come to expect from the Heroic, Evil, Snake and Horde characters.

So with that in mind I would really recommend this figure to fans of MOTU in general. Because ultimately Zodac is really what you make him.

Review and Photographs by: Dean René Middleton

Toy Reviewer


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October's IMAGE UNITED prelude to reveal the secrets behind the crossover event of the century!

This October IMAGE UNITED begins with a four-part prelude backup feature revealing the secret history of the highly anticipated Image Comics founder crossover in SAVAGE DRAGON #153, WITCHBLADE #131, INVINCIBLE #67 and SPAWN #195!

"These backups are not a preview, this is completely original material not collected in the upcoming mini-series," writer Robert Kirkman said. "The IMAGE UNITED PRELUDE will debut Whilce Portacio's new character, FORTRESS, and set up his role front and center in the overall Image universe. Plus, there's a surprise that's going to shock an awful lot of fans. It'll be your first hint the crossover isn't limited to the seven characters we've seen."

The IMAGE UNITED prelude will be a four-part adventure featuring participants of IMAGE UNITED illustrating in the unique jam comics style the crossover is already known for. All four chapters come in addition the full-length features of each issue, starting with SAVAGE DRAGON #153's set up for the upcoming 'Dragon War', WITCHBLADE #131's all-new status quo, INVINCIBLE #67's conclusion to the Cory Walker illustrated two-parter and finally SPAWN #195's series farewell to artist Whilce Portacio.

SAVAGE DRAGON #153 (AUG090362), a 32-page full color comic book for $3.50, will be in-stores October 7th, 2009. WITCHBLADE #131 (AUG090388), a 32-page full color comic book for $2.99, will also be in-stores October 7th, 2009. INVINCIBLE #67 (AUG090355), a 32-page full color comic book for $2.99, will be in-stores October 21st, 2009. SPAWN #195 (JUN090393), a 32-page full color comic book for $2.95, will also be in-stores October 21st, 2009.


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Toy News: Not So Secret, Secret War Minimates!

A look at the packaging for the upcoming Secret Wars Minimates.


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Toy News: The Classic Iconic

NECA's Cult Classics returns with a new series of the most popular characters ever!

To be an icon, you have to stand the test of time. Not even necessarily be timeless -- who would say Beetlejuice isn't of its era? -- but you have to prove your worth and enduring relevance over many years, to rise above criticism and be of quality unflappable. Once something or someone is an icon, it is more than the sum of its parts, something greater than even its creators could have intended.

Today NECA celebrates the most memorable figures of cult cinema with out latest Cult Classics line: Icons. The first installment features some of the best heroes and villains we've ever unleashed, including The Crow, Beetlejuice, Gremlins' Brain, Michael Myers, and of course, Pinhead. Each figure comes with unique accessories in exclusive, movie-specific packaging. The series highlights how special each and every one of these characters has become over time.

NECA's Cult Classics Icons will hit stores by the end of this month, and of course they'll also be available online at our Amazon storefront.

Keep it tuned to for more info on Cult Classics and other lines from your favorite games and movies.


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DVD News: Kevin Conroy returns to landmark role of the Dark Knight in Superman/Batman: Public Enemies

Kevin Conroy returns to seminal role as the definitive voice of Batman in Superman/Batman: Public Enemies

Batman: The Animated Series star reunites with Tim Daly and Clancy Brown brings in all-new DC Universe Animated Original PG-13 Movie for distribution Sept. 29

While the debate rages among fans over who might be the best live-action actor to play Batman, there is no such controversy when it comes to the voice of The Dark Knight – Kevin Conroy stands unchallenged for that title.

As the voice behind the landmark series Batman: The Animated Series, Conroy set a standard that has cast a wide shadow over any other actor attempting to fill the role for nearly two decades. Conroy once again dons the animated cowl for the September 29 Warner Home Video release of Superman/Batman: Public Enemies.

Warner Premiere, DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation will present the all-new Superman/Batman: Public Enemies in a Blu-Ray™ Hi-Def edition, a special edition 2-disc DVD, and a single disc DVD. Warner Home Video will distribute the action-packed movie, which will also be available OnDemand and Pay-Per-View as well as available for download on Sept. 29.

In Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, United States President Lex Luthor uses the oncoming trajectory of a Kryptonite asteroid to frame Superman and declare a $1 billion bounty on the heads of the Man of Steel and his “partner in crime,” Batman. Heroes and villains alike launch a relentless pursuit of Superman and Batman, who must unite – and recruit help – to stave off the action-packed onslaught, stop the
asteroid, and uncover Luthor’s devious plot to take command of far more than North America.

Conroy’s acting career has covered a lengthy gamut of performances on stage and screen, including soap operas and television series like Dynasty and Tour of Duty. His first audition for an animated voiceover role was in 1991 when he arrived at Warner Bros. hoping to land some of the character roles on an upcoming series, and walked out as the title character of Batman: The Animated Series. As they say, the rest is a grand and glorious history for Batman fans across the nation.

So pleased with his return to the role is Conroy that he made his first appearance in six years at Comic-Con International this past summer to promote Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, and the crowd greeted their beloved Batman voice with multiple standing ovations. For those fans that couldn’t hear Conroy’s words in person, here’s the recap of a chat with the actor during that weekend …

You’ve been doing this role for nearly 19 years. Are there still challenges to doing the voice of Batman?

I guess the biggest challenge to doing any kind of animation voice work is that you only have your voice to tell the story. And you want to keep it real and you don't want to get cartoony, especially now because the audiences are much more sophisticated. Anything over the top is going to read over the top. So it's a very fine line that people walk. For Batman, I think the biggest challenge is the timber
of the voice that I established early on. I just kind of improvised it and it stuck. It's very deep in my register – very throaty – and whenever it gets emotional, it’s a difficult sound to create with a lot of volume technically without blowing your chords out. So there's all kinds of tricks you learn along the way of how to produce a sound, how to produce it without injuring yourself, and how to juice it enough. It's a delicate, funny balancing act.

Recording Superman/Batman: Public Enemies was actually easy because of the cast that Andrea (Romano) put together. Tim (Daly) and Clancy (Brown) – all of us have worked together a lot over the years, and there's a real shorthand when you're dealing with people who have done a lot of it and know what they're doing. Which is really a pleasure. Andrea doesn't have to say very much for me to know what she wants.

What do Tim Daly and Clancy Brown bring to their respective roles?

Tim brings to Superman that strong voice, but there's also a real humanity to Tim as an actor and that really comes through. So there’s strength but there's a great sensitivity, and that's unique about his take on Superman.

Clancy is great at being crazy. He's a very talented actor. He's got that great sound, that resonate voice. And yet when you've got that kind of power under you, you can afford to be very casual with it. It makes his sinister quality so much more frightening when this guy with this voice is just being very debonair.

What can people expect to find different about Superman/Batman: Public Enemies than most crossover stories?

There's definitely more humor in this because of the relationship they've created between Superman and Batman. It was really fun doing it with Tim because it almost became like a buddy cop kind of thing. There are not a lot of people that Batman can fool around with like that – that can take it and can dish it back. So I really enjoyed that aspect of the script.

Batman and Superman have all these amazing foes. And yet Lex Luthor has no super powers. What makes Lex a great villain, and how does Clancy make him greater?

Actors always want to play the villain – they’re a lot more fun. Think about it. The hero is just about being a good guy and, in life, we all want to be good guys. But when you're playing at something other than yourself, it's fun to do what is taboo. I played Edgar in a production of King Lear that John Houseman directed for Lincoln Center. Edgar is the good son in Lear and it's probably the hardest role in the play. I thought I did a pretty good job at it – although one critic was particularly unkind. Years later, I did a production at the San Diego Shakespeare Festival of Lear and I played Edmond, who is the force of evil throughout the play. The plot really revolves around Edmond's machinations. It was so much more fun to play Edmond because of the joy he took out of being evil. This guy is planning the downfall of
his family, and laughing about it, and delighting in it. And it was a real blast to me. A couple years earlier I was busting my back for Houseman, doing Edgar every night, working so hard on a role that the audience doesn't care about. They want to cheer Edmond and how evil he is because it's so much fun. Clancy brings that joy to Luthor and the more ease he does it with, the more frightening it becomes. And he's
really good at that.

So what does Kevin Conroy bring to Batman?

I guess I am basically most comfortable when I'm alone. As a kid, I was very much a loner. I love long distance running and long distance biking. A director once pointed out that those are all very isolated exercises you do for hours at a time. I think Batman taps into that quality of me, because my initial take on the character was that Batman wasn't the performance. Bruce Wayne was the performance. Batman
is where he's most comfortable. The cave is where he's most comfortable. And he puts on this persona of incredible sophistication to be able to deal with the world just like I think everybody puts on a mask to deal with the world. Everyone has a private self and a public self. With him, it's taken to a real extreme. And I think I
related to that aspect of him. I am basically a pretty shy person – I think a lot of actors are. That's why they get into acting – because it's easier to be free emotionally when you're pretending to be someone else than to be free emotionally when you have to be yourself. And I think Bruce has the same problem.

Is there still a cool factor for you to be the voice of Batman?

Oh, yeah. It’s something that I'm reminded of a lot from people who enjoy the show. That's a very cool thing. I don't ever take for granted how cool a job it is and how lucky I am to have landed in it. It was the first animation job I ever auditioned for – and it just happened to all come together so well. But it was just pure chance.

Were you a comics reader as a kid?

I had an interesting childhood in that my parents were older. I was a late child, and they were children of immigrants. So the connection of the family to Ireland was very close. I have an Irish passport – I went to school there a bit when I was younger. So my parents were very old world, and they grew up during the Depression. They were kind of like my friends' grandparents – my family kind of skipped a generation that way. I was put in very conservative Catholic schools – the nuns
had habits to the ground, and the boys and the girls were separated. It was very old school. And comic books just weren't allowed. It just wasn't part of my world. I didn’t read them because I didn't like them – I didn't even know about them. (he laughs). Comic books weren’t part of the planet that I was raised on. Of course, once I heard about them, I liked them a lot. (he laughs)

Do you have a collection of Batman paraphernalia?

I'm no dumb actor (he laughs). Do you remember the Warner Brother stores? One of the most lucrative parts of those stores was the galleries – they ran them like real art galleries. They'd have people who did the voices come in and do so signings, and when they asked me, I said, “Do I get some kind of compensation?” They were trying to get us on the cheap, but I thought there had to be something to make it worth my while. I said “Why don't you give me a cell?” And they said “Oh, that's a great idea.” So I said, “Why don't we make it two?” (he laughs) And so I started doing appearances at the stores and my compensation was two cells – and now I've got about 60 or 70 cells. It's very cool. I have a great apartment in New York and they're all
on this wall. Everyone who walks into that apartment turns into a 12-year-old boy. They all walk in and say, “Oh. Wow. Cool.” And it is.(he laughs)

What makes Batman the greatest super hero?

Oh, that's easy. The thing that makes Batman unique as a super hero is that he has no super powers, and the darkness of his personal story. Everyone relates to having a personal dark story – his is just much more dramatic than most people's. Everyone is handed adversity in life. No one's journey is easy. It's how they handle it that makes people unique. Batman took adversity and turned it into something enormously powerful and positive without any superpowers.

Kevin Conroy, the definitive voice of Batman, returns to his seminal role in Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, the next DC Universe animated original movie, will be distributed September 29, 2009 by Warner Home Video. (Photo courtesy of Gary Miereanu)

Kevin Conroy provides the voice of The Dark Knight in Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, the next DC Universe animated original movie, which will be distributed September 29, 2009 by Warner Home Video.

Kevin Conroy provides the voice of The Dark Knight in Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, the next DC Universe animated original movie, which will be distributed September 29, 2009 by Warner Home Video.

U.S. President Lex Luthor recruits super heroes to help keep America safe, and that includes hunting down the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight in Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, the next DC Universe animated original movie. Warner Home Video will distribute the film on September 29.

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Comic News: Pilot Season: Declassified Only $1!



Top Cow Productions, Inc. proudly announced today that the 2009 year of Pilot Season will kick off with Pilot Season: Declassified. The 32-page full color preview book is expected to be available in stores on October 14th, 2009 and will retail for one dollar.

Five brand new comic book properties born out of the collaboration between Image partners Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead, Invincible) and Marc Silvestri (Dark Avengers/X-Men: Utopia, The Darkness) will compete against each other to win the votes of the fans who will determine the winning property that will be rewarded with its own full series. This highly anticipated year of Pilot Season begins in November, but fans will get a first look at all five of the new properties this October in the $1 Pilot Season: Declassified. The secrets behind the inception of each property will be revealed in trailer pages, secret documents, and design sketches ripped from the pages of Marc Silvestri’s sketchbook.

For only $1, Pilot Season: Declassified continues Top Cow’s recently established annual tradition that gives fan the final say in what comic books they want to read. Since 2007, Top Cow has given fans the power to choose a Top Cow series based on a selection of one-shot Pilot Season “pilot” issues through online voting. The inaugural Pilot Season initiative garnered more than four million votes from fans across the globe.

“Pilot Season is something I look forward to each year and a unique event for the comic industry,” commented Top Cow Publisher Filip Sablik, “With two creative masterminds like Robert and Marc at the helm, I have no doubt we’ll get some of the most unique and stunning creations we’ve seen in the competition to date.”


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Toy News: Marvel Minimates Series 33 Revealed!

With Marvel Minimates Series 27 and 28 now in comic stores and new assortments arriving in Toys R Us stores nationwide, the Marvel Minimates line is picking up steam for a knock-out and record-setting 33rd series of the world's #1 block figure!

The 33rd Series of Minimates includes new versions of your old favorites, recent additions to the Marvel Universe and essential team members from Marvel's substantial archives! The first two-pack in this oft-requested assortment contains two of the most powerful Asgardians ever to roam Midgard in their new signature looks - Thor and the newly-voluptuous Loki. Spider-Man's friends and foes make a cameo as well, with two all-new characters featured in the critically-acclaimed "New Ways To Die" - the anti-hero Anti-Venom and the menacing Menace. The final two-pack combines fans' love of all-things Phoenix with their love of evil robots - more specifically Rachel Grey as Marvel Girl and the nefarious Sentinel army builder. A special chase two-pack will also be included in each assortment, - featuring the Sentinel with a slightly younger Rachel Summers in her classic Excalibur "Hound" costume!

In addition to the standard removable and interchangeable pieces, the Sentinel army builder featured in this wave will also include a special "Sentinel Army" design feature - allowing you to partially customize your own Sentinel Squad in either modern or retro styles. Look for this exciting new assortment in comic stores early next year and keep an eye out for more fantastic new exclusives as the Marvel Minimates line continues to deliver new pint-sized heroes, villains and teams like never before!


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All-new ongoing series features the secret lives of gods this December!

This December, POWERS and MICE TEMPLAR co-creator Michael Avon Oeming, his SIX collaborator Dan Berman and newcomer John Brogila reveal our world's true power remains with our ancient gods when one of their own discovers his GOD COMPLEX!

"In GOD COMPLEX the Greek Pantheon has survived the centuries, transforming themselves from powerful Gods of the sky to influential men and women of the Earth," Oeming said. "Some of them live normal lives, some run big business and even more are superheroes. It's an extremely complex world and after hundreds of years of life on Earth, not all the gods are happy about it."

GOD COMPLEX's Apollo has hung up his superhero cape and now lives in hiding from his fellow gods as a mortal named Paul. Yet the Pantheon are so eager to get him back in their ranks they'll do whatever it takes to win him back, even if it against his will. For Paul, life as a mortal has just gotten complex.

GOD COMPLEX #1, a 32-page full color comic book for $2.99, will be in-stores December, 2 2009.


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Comic News: Evil Assemble

One-Shot/Rated T+ ...$3.99
FOC—10/15/09, On-Sale—11/4/09


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5 Quick Questions with Gene Ha

Gene Ha is an American comics artist best known for his work on books such as Top 10 and Top 10: The Forty-Niners, with Alan Moore and Zander Cannon, for America's Best Comics, the Batman graphic novel Fortunate Son, with Gerard Jones, and The Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix, among others. He has also drawn Global Frequency and has done covers for Wizard Magazine and Marvel Comics.

Gene has currently won three Esiner awards.

He agreed to answer 5 Quick Questions:

1) What would you say is your greatest achievement in comics?

Definitely my work with Alan Moore. That’d be the Top 10 series and its prequel, The Forty-Niners. Alan is one of the most brilliant writers working in any medium. His stories are hard hitting, but not predictable or crude. He knows how to surprise other pros while entertaining the kid in us. I love drawing a well written story.

2) Who was your favorite writer or artist that you worked with & why?

My favorite was DC Editor Archie Goodwin. Early on in my career, he offered me a short story with any writer we could nab. I asked him to write me a story. He put a lot of explanation in that script explaining why he told the story the way he did. I learned a lot from him. It came out in DC Showcase ’95 #11.

3) What character you have never worked .., would you like to do & why?

I don’t care what character I’m drawing. If I’m working with a great writer who cares about the character, I’ll care too. If its hack work there’s only so much even a great artist can do to save the story. So with that said, I’d love to do a comics version of Dashiell Hammett’s The Glass Key and it’s hero, Ned Beaumont. It’s a great hard boiled detective story. There was a bad 1935 movie version, a still mediocre 1942 movie, and the Coen Brothers’ Miller’s Crossing took concepts from it. I’d like to do the definitive visual interpretation of that novel.

4) Who are your influences?

Great painters like da Vinci, Sorolla, Monet and Velázquez. Great illustrators like Norman Rockwell and Mark English. Great comics creators from my childhood like Bill Sienkiewicz, Matt Wagner and Bill Watterson. Younger creators like Bryan Lee O’Malley and Frank Cho.

5) What hero or villain would you like to change if you could and why?

In my opinion, a character that dies should stay dead. Bringing them back is usually a mistake. It means that readers will never take your stories seriously in the future. Jean Gray and Barry Allen are the obvious examples. I wouldn’t have wanted it, but they’ve done a pretty good job bringing Barry back. The way they brought back Jean was an insult to the readers. She was never the Phoenix, she was in suspended animation in a healing pod under Jamaica Bay, NY all along. Hurray! They shouldn’t have done it.

Check Gene's website at

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4Kids Entertainment (NYSE:KDE) will be introducing the eagerly anticipated 90-minute all-family special event that captures the unique historical look, irreverence and panache of Mirage Studio’s popular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles®, when “Turtles Forever” makes its debut at next month’s MIPCOM 2009 market in Cannes, France.

This remarkable animated special incorporates the three distinctive versions of the Turtles as they appeared in their original iterations: 1984 black and white comic book; late 1980’s/early 1990’s animated TV series; and their current animated series.

Working closely with Mirage Studios on capturing this distinctive multi-world interaction was writer/supervising producer/director Lloyd Goldfine, who’s worked closely with Turtles’ co-creator Peter Laird since 2003 when 4Kids Entertainment re-launched the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the first of seven seasons of animated TMNT television adventures.

“This is one of the most ambitious and creative presentations of the Turtles ever,” said Brian Lacey, Executive Vice President, 4Kids Entertainment, who will be leading the sales effort for the film at MIPCOM. “It’s an all-family viewing event thanks to the enormous popularity the Turtles have earned over their first 25 years. This property truly bridges two generations, appealing to the original Turtles fan base who’ve become the young parents of today, and to their children.”

The plot. When the gigantic and terrifying Technodrome (a giant mobile battle station from the original TMNT animated series) suddenly appears in the present-day Turtles world, carrying with it the original series Ninja Turtles, present-day Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo find themselves with a huge mystery to solve and four crazy Turtles to babysit… a serious case of culture shell-shock. But the two Turtle crews soon realize that this inter-dimensional incursion has caused more than just a surprise visit, as the accident that brought the ‘80’s Turtles to the present has also unleashed the ’80’s villains Shredder and Krang into their world. These two bumbling troublemakers end up freeing the much meaner and nastier contemporary version of the Shredder from his asteroid prison. And once this Shredder learns of the dimension-spanning powers of the Technodrome, he sets out to destroy all the versions of the Ninja Turtles throughout the multiverse. Can the Turtles of the past and the Turtles of the present stop annoying each other long enough to stop all of time and space from unraveling? It’s a ninja tag-team extraordinaire across multiple dimensions, full of twists, turns, and more Ninja Turtles than you’ve ever seen anywhere before.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles made their public premiere in May 1984 in a comic book published and distributed by Mirage Studios. A hugely successful TV series quickly followed in 1987, along with a record setting licensing program and three successful theatrical films. In 2003, the Turtles were re-introduced to a new generation through a fresh, new animated TV series, a computer- animated theatrical movie and new merchandising program. This 25th “Shell-ebration” year of TMNT has been providing fun and interactive new opportunities to the original fan base and the next generation of admirers of this evergreen property.

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Toy Review: Masters of the Universe Classics Webstor by Patrick Garone

Masters of the Universe Classics Webstor was the September figure released exclusively on and it almost looked as though he was still going to be available in time for this review. Skeletor’s Master of Escape sold out after six days, slightly longer than Tri-Klops, the last figure that was rumored to have been produced in the same quantity. Webstor was also the first figure of the 2009 subscription program and in my experience, ordering him was a breeze for the first time with no waiting at all. Although he is largely a repaint of Skeletor, Webstor has a lot of cool features that make him stand out from his boss

Webstor has a cool and evocative new bio that suggests lots of story lines that we have never seen in MOTU. According to his bio, his real name is Araneus, son of Raknus, which makes me wonder why he goes by the silly name of Webstor. His bio describes him as the last of an advanced civilization of spider warrior who fought the Snake Men in ancient times. He was awakened from his slumber within Snake Mountain and now is loosely aligned with Skeletor.

In terms of his sculpt, Webstor is more than loosely aligned with Skeletor, with the exception of his waist and head, he is a virtual clone but as they have throughout this line, The Four Horsemen have done a great job diverting attention away from the fact that these figures share so many of the same parts with clever use of paint, accessories and excellent head sculpts. For those 200X fans out there, hoping for a more monstrous character, Webstor largely falls in line with his 1980’s figure, although there are some nice touches inspired by his modern incarnation.

Webstor is sculpted in an indigo-colored plastic, a good deal darker than his prototype pictures would have you believe. I guess I should automatically assume that the colors are going to be darker than those we are shown on the prototypes. Next to the other MOTUC figures, Webstor is strikingly dark, perfect for a predatory man-spider who hides in the shadows. He has some nice vivid touches that pop against the dark blue coloration such as the magenta-red colored belt and armor emblem.

His head sculpt is about 85% inspired by his 1980’s figure although the gauntness, the “angry” brow and the added set of eyes are modern additions. His eyes are done in that same burning red color. The whole effect strangely makes him look like James Carville. The way that the head is sculpted slightly restricts up and down movement of his head.

His armor is a removable backward vest (he is packaged topless like his ‘80’s counterpart) onto which the backpack is clipped. The backpack has the figure’s greatest visual reference to the 200X Webstor, four hinge and ball-jointed spider legs. The backpack, when detached, looks a little like a facehugger from Alien. The pack clips on very easily to four tabs on the back of the vest, giving the option of displaying your figure with a classic or modern look. The legs themselves are not articulated at the segments but using the base joints you can put them into a variety of cool positions. The legs are a nice addition but they look a little too small and vestigial. Personally, I think they look best all posed up, the two top legs on either side of Webstor’s head and the bottom two over his shoulders, as the bottom legs are not big enough to really stand out under his arms, the way that they were arranged in the MYP cartoon and the action figure.

The backpack also features a line and grappling hook, which runs through it, although it lacks the zipline feature of the original. It is sort of an odd addition like an action feature with no action. The hook is painted a nice metallic purple but sculpted of a very soft plastic, which is already warped on my sample. There is a small handle sculpted in the shape of Webstor’s spider warrior sigil on the bottom end of the line and both the handle and the hook can fit into a notch on the back of the pack, although the hook will not easily fit into the notch due to the softness of the plastic. There is also the problem of the length of string that is left hanging without a home. The best solution to this is to clip the handle into the notch on the back of the pack and wrap the string around it, where it is out of sight.

Webstor’s only other accessory is a blaster rifle, which is made of a soft plastic similar to the mace that came with Man-At-Arms. The thin tip of my gun is already bent from the packaging. The rifle is sculpted in orange plastic and looks great against Webstor’s dark skin. There are also some nice metallic orange highlights like we saw on Faker’s armor as well as a couple of red accents as well.

I don’t pay a lot of attention to the packaging on these figures as I am a compulsive opener but I would like to point out that the card and bubble for this figure was pristine. He was shipped in his white MOTUC outer box, which is now standard on these figures after complaints of the packaging getting dinged up. I noticed also that the outer cardboard box in which my figures were shipped was of much sturdier construction than those that have been used for previous figures. Its nice to see that Mattel is spending some money to address issues that fans have been having with these figures, not only the ordering process but the shipping as well.

Also, I am happy to report (mostly) tight joints on Webstor. My number one complaint with this line from the beginning has been getting figures with loose joints. The mid-upper arm joint is a big and consistent offender (even on Webstor). This is particularly bad with a line that comes with such nice big weapons. It's sad when the arm joint is not tight enough for your figure to be posed with accessory with which it has been packaged (I'm looking at you He-Ro). Webstor is an improvement (his legs are nice and tight on my copy) but there is still some work to be done.

I can’t say that I have ever had a real fondness for Webstor. He is, to me, a C-list character and his figure is a glorified repaint with some new accessories thrown in but the Four Horsemen have developed a habit of making me enjoy figures that I am sure I am not going to like (If I end up liking Burger King, then I will be surprised indeed). Adding in the extra spider legs was a great nod to the 200X fans and makes for lots of interesting display possibilities. He also has an bold color scheme that really stands out against the other Masters of the Universe Classics figures in my collection. Webstor may have escaped for now but hopefully we will see him again down the line.

Patrick Garone
Staff Toy Reviewer

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