November 25, 2014

Review: Winter Soldier Sixth Scale Figure by Hot Toys

Bucky Barnes caused a lot of trouble for Steve Rogers in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It was hard to see Cap's friend turned into a weapon, but on the plus side, at least Bucky didn't die? It's kind of a positive. He's been through hell, but there's still hope for him and I don't think we've seen the last of Sebastian Stan in the role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Until he's back on the big screen, you can bring a much less deadly version of the Winter Soldier home thanks to Hot Toys and Sideshow Collectibles. Hot Toys has made a remarkably detailed sixth scale figure of the Winter Soldier, and Sideshow Collectibles has it available to order now.

They sent a figure for me to review, and as usual, I'm impressed by the quality Hot Toys puts into their collectibles.


Packaging: The Winter Soldier arrived in perfect condition. The statue even has an attractive outer box. Hot Toys ensures there's a place for every last accessory in the plastic, and each little pocket in the packaging is made to fit a particular item. Because of that, I always take a photo before I start removing accessories (even when I'm not reviewing an item). Otherwise, it's like trying to refold a map.

The interchangeable heads were wrapped with plastic to make sure none of the paint rubbed off, and soft padding was layered between the arms and torso for the same reason. Look at the sleeping Winter Soldier:




If you've ever wondered, Hot Toys does thankfully include detailed instructions on assembly and pictures to show you where all the accessories go:


Sculpt/likeness/paint: Don't worry, the Winter Soldier figure does indeed look like Sebastian Stan. One head features his face unmasked, and the other has a mask and has removable hair so you can slide on snazzy goggles. The paint on the face is especially well done. It looks like Winter Soldier legitimately has facial hair stubble, and the black paint around his eyes is spot on and gives that effectively creepy vibe. I'm not a fan of the sculpted hair but a couple of things about that: Winter Soldier had some pretty lackluster and tangled hair in the movie and I can't imagine a more realistic approach to the hair that would also look good. The plastic hair looks fine from a distance.

The facial sculpt successfully captures Stan's intense visage from the movie. He's an intimidating character and that comes across here.


Clothes: The Winter Soldier's outfit is all about being practical. He's got buckles and straps and holsters freaking everywhere. Hot Toys did a tremendous job considering just how small those buckles and straps are. They blended textures and fabrics so the figure is a realistic representation of what you saw in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The jacket is a leather-like material while the rest of the ensemble is canvas. It doesn't look too beat up, but you can tell this isn't a straight off the rack costume. It's lived in.

And how about that cyber arm? It's made to look like metal (real metal would do weird things to the figure's balance) and painted to match the one in the movie. Every line is there.




Accessories: The Winter Soldier is a walking weapon, and he's also covered with them. He comes with several guns, some knives, and bombs. He's prepared as can be for a fight:


The best part about these accessories? Most of them have a home. Bucky's costume has plenty of places to stash each weapon and they clip or slide into place with no trouble at all. However, I recommend waiting to add the guns and daggers until after you have the Winter Soldier in his final pose. While the holsters are secure, they don't stay in place while you're moving Bucky about and trying to change his hands or head. And speaking of those, here are the different options so you can change up Bucky's pose:


I had a trickier time than usual swapping out the heads, but it was manageable. The hands - especially the gloved ones - popped on and off easily. Bending the arms into shape and posing the statue was simple, too. You can go to town putting the Winter Soldier into poses from the film, like this one:


He also looks good in a simple standing pose, too.


The Winter Soldier is available for $239.99 at Sideshow Collectibles, and I'd say it's worth the price tag. You can make a single payment or break it into two. Here are the technical details:

Approximately 31 centimeters tall
Body with over 30 points of articulations
Metal-like left arm
Four pairs of interchangeable palms
Two interchangeable heads, one masked
One machine gun, one remote bomb launcher, one submachine gun, one spike with sheath, two daggers, two grenades, and three pistols.
One pair of goggles

The following artists worked on the figure: Kojun (Head Sculpt), JC. Hong (Head Paint and Head Art Direction), and Seung Min and Kang (Accessories Sculpt).

Full disclosure: Winter Soldier was provided by Sideshow Collectibles for review purposes. This did not affect my review of the product.

These LEGO Instructions from 1974 Should Be Included with Today's LEGO Sets

LEGO had it right in the 1970s. They supported gender equality and made a clear statement about it. They still do encourage both boys and girls to play with LEGO sets but some of that message is undermined by the fact that they have released the LEGO Friends line and marketed the overly pink collection as LEGO for girls. But, that's a rant for another day. Take a minute to read this note posted by Henry Warren on Twitter.

click to enlarge
The note says:
"To Parents
The urge to create is equally strong in all children. Boys and girls.

It’s the imagination that counts. Not skill. You build whatever comes into your head, the way you want it. A bed or a truck. A dolls house or a spaceship.

A lot of boys like dolls houses. They’re more human than spaceships. A lot of girls prefer spaceships. They’re more exciting than dolls houses.

The most important thing is to put the right material in their hands and let them create whatever appeals to them."

Preach. Kids and parents need to hear more of that sentiment.

And yes, it is absolutely real. io9 reached out to LEGO and received the following response from Roar Rude Trangbæk of LEGO corporate communications:

Is the text authentic?
"Yes, the text is from 1974 and was a part of a pamphlet showing a variety of LEGO doll house products targeted girls aged 4 and up from the 1970’s The catalogue was included with select sets in the doll house series in 1974. The text remains relevant to this day – our focus has always been, and remains to bring creative play experiences to all children in the world, based on the LEGO brick and the LEGO system – ultimately enabling children to build and create whatever they can imagine. This is visible today across the entire product range from the LEGO Group – every LEGO product is based on the LEGO system and this creative building experience."

I wish LEGO would go back to their egalitarian approach to marketing.

November 18, 2014

DIY Wookiee Life Day Wreath

Yesterday was a special day: it was Life Day! The day marked the anniversary of the release of the Star Wars Holiday Special. One of many great things about Life Day is that it can be celebrated throughout the holiday season. To get in the Wookiee Life Day mood, I came up with a couple of rustic wreaths for StarWars.com. Look:

DIY Wookiee Life Day Wreaths
The wreath on the left is inspired by a design in Star Wars Galaxies, and the one on the right features red ribbons for the red Life Day robes and a blue Life Day orb. I'm sort of in love with them. Read the instructions at the official StarWars.com blog and get crafting!

November 12, 2014

A Carol Danvers Captain Marvel Action Figure Is On Its Way

In 2018 a marvelous thing will happen. Actually, probably more than one great thing will happen. At least I  hope so. Let's start  over: one of many cool things that will happen in 2018 is the Captain Marvel movie. Finally! A female-led superhero film! Carol Danvers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Heck. yes. Like Kate Leth describes in a recent "Kate or Die" comic at ComicsAlliance, there will be so much merchandise and happiness and sparklefists when the Captain Marvel film hits theaters. Maybe we'll get some more official items leading into 2018 too, and maybe it's starting with this Captain Marvel action figure:


The Carol Danvers Captain Marvel figure is part of the Marvel Legends line and will be out in 2015. She's sharing a box with Odin's head because every figure in the line has bits of Odin that can be assembled into the All-Father. Of course. You can check out the rest of the figures in the line at Marvel Toy News.

November 11, 2014

November is #Nerdvember

The creative folks over at Set to Stunning have made November a month of celebrating geek fashion with #Nerdvember. The hashtag is tied to a month-long contest that Set to Stunning runs on Instagram. Here are the basics: participants wear a geeky outfit and take a picture, slap the #Nerdvember hashtag onto the picture, and get entered into a contest to win prizes. Neat, huh?

Here's an example of a Sherlock-inspired outfit as worn by Victoria, one of the ladies behind Set to Stunning:


The prizes are available in different tiers in order to encourage participants to put together some geek-inspired outfits all month long. For example, if you participate for 1-10 days, you're entered to win in the Prize Tier 1 group. If you participate all 30 days of November, you're entered to win in the Prize Tier 4 group. The prizes get bigger the more days you participate, and Set to Stunning has gathered an impressive list of sponsors for #Nerdvember, including: Guild Jewellery, Black Milk Clothing, Espionage Cosmetics, We Love Fine, and Her Universe. Fancy, no?

What counts as a geek-themed outfit?
"Full geek ensembles are HIGHLY ENCOURAGED, but at a minimum you must be wearing at least one (1) piece of geek clothing/jewelry/accessory to qualify. If you’re wearing an “inspired by” look (i.e. Disney Bounding or Console to Closet type looks), please include a photo of the inspiration in your pic post or at least an explanation of how your outfit is geek themed."
Full cosplay doesn't qualify.

You can read all the rules at Set to Stunning. Even if you're not up for participating, you can search the #Nerdvember hashtag on Instagram for plenty of outfit inspiration.

November 10, 2014

New Episodes of Bee and PuppyCat Are Here!

Get excited, Bee and PuppyCat fans! New episodes have arrived! All the exclamation points! And the first one features my new favorite PuppyCat moment:


I lost it. This series genuinely makes me laugh out loud.

I only learned about the magic of Natasha Allegri's Bee and PuppyCat over the summer (if you have no idea what I'm talking about, take ten minutes and go watch the first episodes of Bee and PuppyCat now) so I haven't been waiting as long as the many fans who supported the Kickstarter project that allowed these new episodes to happen. I bow to their patience.

Why am I still writing when there's new Bee and PuppyCat to watch? Yeah, I don't know either. On with the video embeds!





If you want to stay in the know about when more episodes of Bee and PuppyCat are released, sign up for the Temp Team newsletter.

The Great Postcard Project

Who else likes mail? I rarely get mail that isn't a bill or a magazine or a check (not complaining about that last one). I have a couple of friends who I regularly exchange mail with and it's delightful to get a handwritten note or a thoughtfully sent box of Pocky. I don't have tons of Pocky that I'm willing to share because I really like Pocky, but I do have a pile of postcards. I've purchased postcards everywhere I've traveled over the last decade for the purpose of sending notes, but I haven't done enough of the sending part. My box of blank postcards is overflowing, and I'm not letting myself purchase more until I send most of the ones I have. Enter the Great Postcard Project.

Even after sending postcards to everyone in my address book, I'll have dozens of them left. Dozens. From China, from Disney, from national parks, from museums - it's a mix. And I'd like to send them to you! Anyone who fills out this Google form with his or her address will get a randomly selected postcard with a brief note or quote or poorly drawn stick figure. Yay real mail! If you'd rather, you can email me your address too (my email address is right there on the sidebar).

I promise I'll keep your address confidential and will not share it with marketing companies or use it for my personal newsletter that does not exist.

Submit your address by November 21st to get on the list!


November 7, 2014

A Fan Guessed the Title of Star Wars: Episode VII Two Years Ago

Yesterday was a momentous day in Star Wars history because the title for Star Wars: Episode VII was revealed. The Episode VII part is gone and instead we have Star Wars: The Force Awakens:


Lucasfilm slyly made the announcement on social media, and my Twitter feed went crazy with reactions. Feelings about the title aside, one especially interesting fact turned up yesterday: a fan correctly predicted the title of Episode VII on TheForce.net forum two years ago. Look:


Queen Gimmedala posted in an Episode VII title speculation thread and didn't list tons of guesses or possibilities - just one. The Force Awakens. And she nailed it. ScreenCrush dug up the post, and besides the fact that Queen Gimmedala got the name right, look at the date she joined the forums. December 18, 2012. Exactly three years before the Episode VII release date of December 18, 2015. Weird, right? It's also interesting to note that until yesterday, she'd only posted to the forums twice as far as I can tell, and both posts were on the same date.

Eric Geller of TheForce.net reached out Queen Gimmedala to find out how she knew and maybe if she could maybe make some predictions about lottery numbers (okay, Eric didn't really ask the last part, that's me projecting). She used the titles of the other six films as templates and made a really good guess. She explains:

I'm in love with Star Wars, PT and OT. I do not follow any of the EU. So my "knowledge" of the SW universe is really limited to the 6 movies and the recent tv shows.
Ultimately this was a random guess. No inside info or connection to Lucas. But to me it seemed logical that the first movie in this trilogy would need to address the force. I'm a believer that the movie titles in each trilogy closely relate and I suspect this will carry over for the ST.
So I knew it was going to be 3 words, and the force. I also know that the wording would be vague/ambiguous/old fashioned like all the other six movie titles.
The Phantom Menace (something is wrong with the force), A New Hope (something is helping) and The Force Awakens (It's BACK BABY). I LOVE IT.

Huh. Her reasoning makes sense to me, and while this is probably all a huge coincidence, it's bringing up cries of a conspiracy. Is she an insider? Has the exact release date and title been planned since Disney bought Lucasfilm? Did Lucasfilm see this post and think the name was a brilliant idea?

What do you think?

h/t TheForce.net
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