Posted: 24 Feb 2018 09:00 PM PST
JUSTICE LEAGUE (MATTEL)
When assembling the final line-up for the Justice League animated series, the creators were faced with two slight issues. First, the traditional roster of seven members was, apart from one woman and one alien, all white guys, which isn't particularly diverse. Second, the traditional roster was made up of characters with very set roles in the public eye, which doesn't necessarily allow for lots of creative freedom in storytelling. They solved both of these problems with a minor line-up tweak. Founding member Aquaman was replaced with the lesser known Hawkgirl, and Green Lantern Hal Jordan was replaced with his less explored successor John Stewart. It proved a success not just for the creators, but also for the two characters chosen. For John Stewart in particular, it took him from being probably the least known of the Earth-based Lanterns to being THE Green Lantern for an generation of DC fans. Sadly, he's somewhat fallen out of fashion again, but let's remember back to the times when he was at the top, shall we?
THE FIGURE ITSELF
Green Lantern was part of the first series of Mattel's Justice League line. Alongside Superman and Batman, he and Flash were definitely the lesser knowns, and as such was the short packs of the lot, which made GL a little hard to track down at first. Fortunately, the popularity of both the show and the character saw this particular figure getting more than a few re-releases over the years. The figure stands just shy of 4 1/2 inches tall (GL was the shortest of the founding 7 members, so this was accurately depicted here), and he has 5 points of articulation. His sculpt was, like all of the Series 1 and 2 figures, done by DC Direct, and then handed over to Mattel when they won the DC license. It's really just a shrinking down of DCD's GL Maquette from the time of the show's premier, but that was a solid rendition of the character, and it still is on this figure. The articulation's not really good for a whole lot, and was certainly a low count, even at the time. Nevertheless, it was consistent with the prior Kenner/Hasbro animated offerings, and it was really the best that could be hoped for in terms of preserving the aesthetics of the animated design. As far as paintwork went, GL was pretty straightforward. I always felt the main green could have stood to be a little lighter (and, going by its shading on the show, it probably should have been metallic), but it's ultimately a decent offering. One minor flaw? His eyes have black pupils. In the show, they were green, showing the effects of the power ring. Future figures had this corrected, but this guy just has green irises instead. Green Lantern was packed with a blue stand, which connected with those of the other main League-ers, to spell out the team's name. Lantern gets "JU" so he's meant to go at the front. It's a decent piece, but a bit cumbersome for display purposes. Sadly, that was all he had; no power battery or constructs for this release.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
While I was able to score a Flash figure pretty quickly when these figures first hit, GL proved to be slightly more difficult to find. Fortunately, I was able to get some assistance from my friend Cindy Woods, who tracked down a GL for me in fairly short order. He's not the greatest John Stewart figure (though he's certainly a large improvement over the last one I looked at on this site), but he was good for the time, and has remained a favorite of mine.
Posted: 24 Feb 2018 09:00 AM PST
Sometimes Nerf will announce or unveil a blaster with a particular gimmick to it and all you can do is nod in acknowledgment and hope it at least shoots well. Sometimes it does, but sometimes it really doesn't. Not to give anything away prematurely, but this week's blaster is the latter of the two. I'm talking about the Modulus Battlescout. Let's scope it out.
THE BLASTER ITSELF
The Battlescout ICS-10 was released in 2016 under the Modulus line and was intended to bring 2 cool new features to the brand. The first was the use of a new horizontally-feeding clip as opposed to the more traditional Nerf magazines (despite Nerf themselves referring to them as "clip systems"). The clip holds 10 rounds and automatically advances one position when the blaster is primed via the angled front grip. This means the clip starts by sticking out the right side of the blaster and eventually ends up sticking out the right side or potentially even just fully ejecting from the blaster itself if you're a little too vigorous with the pump action. I was reasonably interested in having a Nerf blaster with this style of feeding mechanism when I first heard about it, and I still think it has potential, it just seems like the execution left a little to be desired. The clip is just too bulky for only holding 10 rounds, and the ratcheting mechanism in the blaster doesn't hold onto the clip very securely so it's possible for it to get bumped out of position. The second feature the Battlescout was meant to showcase was the included attachable Nerf "action cam" that could clip onto a Nerf accessory rail. I'm pretty sure no one was excited about this. After the Elite Cam ECS-12 blaster, everyone was familiar with the quality of cameras Nerf was working with and they weren't great. At least the Cam blaster had a screen so you could pretend the camera was just a scope instead of a dedicated recording device. Not so with the Battlescout. I only took a couple test videos just to see what it was like, but the picture quality was dark and grainy, the sound was tinny and sounded like it was being recorded through several blankets, that is, until you tried shooting the blaster while recording upon which you were treated to one of the most horrific sounds I've experienced as the noise from all the blaster's mechanical parts moving was transferred through the plastic to the mic. There also seemed to be some discrepancy between the video and audio recording, as every time I played back a recording on the computer, the longer the video went on, the further and further out of sync the audio got. Long story short, the camera was just bad. What was worse, though, was the fact that its inclusion jacked up the price of the Battlescout to almost $70. Yikes, indeed. "But does it shoot well, at least?" I hear you ask. Well, dear reader, no. No it doesn't. I can't quite tell where the problem is, but it's one of the weakest shooting blasters I can recall from recently. Flaccid is a generous term. More than once, I've had shots just tumble out of the barrel followed by the slab of orange plastic getting spat out the side of the blaster, sometimes travelling further than the dart. Not great. I can't say I'd recommend this one for attacking your siblings unless you've got enough of a presence that you don't have to actually shoot to get your point across, because at the very least, the Battlescout looks cool, and with places to attach a barrel, a stock and anything else besides that camera onto the top rail, you can really dress it up. The Battlescout ICS-10 comes packaged with the Camera, a 10-round clip, and 10 Elite Modulus darts.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
I wanted to like the Battlescout, I really did. It looked so cool and interesting in the pictures. Sadly, it just couldn't live up to my expectations. Although, I will say, since its initial release, there's been a Walmart exclusive "battle camo" version with no camera, a stock, and what seems to be reasonable performance. Sure, it doesn't really match any other blasters, but at least it works, so if you're determined to get a Battlescout, I'd say go for that one.
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