The Amazing Spider-Man #71 Review


Review by Leo Brocklehurst 30/7/21

Written by:
Nick Spencer
Artwork by:
Federico Vicentini
Federico Sabbatini
Released 28/7/21 Published by Marvel Comics

SINISTER WAR CONTINUES!!!
Nick Spencer keeps the action on max whilst also giving us some character development, and at the SAME time, keeping us on edge as we see our side plots converging into one big, three year in the making, pay off.


The art (mostly done by Federico Vicentini) has been consistently good these past couple of issues, contributing to the books speedy pace with a cartoonish yet scratchy style. We also see a newcomer in the pages of this issue, Federico Sabbatini. Their art is more kid friendly than Vicentini’s and is reminiscent of the all ages books marvel released in the late 2000’s, not bad by any means however and serves it’s purpose.




The most interesting part of the book is MJ and Mysterio taking a trip through each others history, where we get to see some nice flashback art (by Vicentini). This scene includes some ret-conning when discussing MJ’s therapy in various points of Spidey history. The section culminates in Mysterio leaving MJ in a theatre in order to fulfil his “big scene” in the sinister war. Following this, MJ is approached by Kindred and we are left on a cliff-hanger.


The other plot running throughout this issue involves Harry Osborn (not kindred) and Carlie Cooper trapped in a cell at an unknown location. In this book, the door actually opens and they exit, being confronted by an unknown person or object. Amidst all this, Kindred, hides out in an abandoned ambulance, presumably the one he died in (Which begs the question, after he died in it, did they just leave it in the street? Looks that way in the issue.)


Verdict:

Issue 71 of Spencer’s Spider-man is a pretty solid and exciting read. It leaves the readers on the edge of their seats in anticipation for the next part of sinister war whilst deciding to focus on the supporting cast.

8/10


Review by Leo Brocklehurst on 30/7/21

Darth Vader #14 Review


Reviewed by Nathan Harrison 28/7/21
DARTH VADER #14

Written by: Greg Pak

Art: Raffaele Ienco
Released: 21/07/21
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Darth Vader’s part in the so far very satisfying War of the Bounty Hunters event continues in this latest issue, with a shadowy plot from within the Empire itself finally revealed and Vader on a collision course with the rest of the major players in the crossover.

Following an unsuccessful assassination attempt on Vader, Administrator Moore returns to plotting with her council. The intrigue and conspiracy of the first half of this issue is nicely played out – Greg Pak’s dialogue is engrossing, especially in a short encounter between Moore and a suspicious Mas Amedda, which sees her get the upper hand in more ways than one. Shadows skirt around every panel and loom large in some against the muted greys and whites that make up the Empire’s favoured approach to décor. Artist Raffaele Ienco and colourist Jason Keith put every nook and cranny of each room to use, creating a foreboding sense of dread and unease.

The second half runs at an altogether different pace when Vader bursts back onto the scene, lightsaber blazing (after a brief appearance at the start of the issue). The greys are illuminated by vivid red and the imposing figure of Vader towers over it all in a couple of impressive splash pages. It speaks volumes about the true icon that Darth Vader is that he barely needs to say a word in his own comic to be the star of the show. That said, it can’t be an easy thing to do from a writing perspective and Pak handles it beautifully. He puts the right words in Vader’s mouth at the right time, and nothing more. When coupled with the imposing angles that Ienco depicts him from, the Dark Lord of the Sith remains just as terrifying as the first time he walked on screen in 1977.


VERDICT

As the various strands of the 34-issue tapestry that is War of the Bounty Hunters start to come together, it only gets more stunning to look at, and this issue is no exception. Seeing some of the events of issue 2 of the main mini-series from a different perspective makes for a nice touch, placing our hero (yes, we’re calling him that, it’s his comic – search your feelings, you know it to be true) right where he needs to be for the sparks to fly when the crossover truly kicks off over the coming month.


Review by Nathan Harrison 28/7/21

Star Wars: Jabba The Hutt #1 Review

Review by Nathan Harrison 27/7/21

Written by: Justina Ireland

Art: Ibraim Roberson and Luca Pizarri
Released: 21/07/21

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Since its launch earlier this year, The High Republic has proven to be the most exciting new Star Wars expanded universe initiative in a long time – Justina Ireland has also proven to be one its most talented contributors. Her middle-grade novel, A Test of Courage, was emotionally complex, touching, and full of the heroism and derring-do that was promised when the new era was announced. It’s fantastic then to now see her name of the front of a Marvel comic as part of an altogether different era of Star Wars.

Ireland grabs the opportunity to show her range by the horns as we see her take on the darker underbelly of the Star Wars galaxy – her approach to iconic characters like the sinister, snivelling Bib Fortuna, Boba Fett and, of course, the titular mob slug Jabba the Hutt is spot on, while her introduction of new bounty hunter, Deva Lompop, a badass, double-crossing feathered lizard woman, is impactful. She stands out as the real star of this book and is bound to do so again in her upcoming appearances in further one-shots. Any character who can effortlessly belittle a character like Boba Fett with amusing results is not to be ignored!

The approach to the plot is also skilfully handled. What initially appears to be a straightforward tale of bounty hunters on the job soon turns out to be the first hint of the back-stabbing intrigue that we could see in future instalments of the War of the Bounty Hunters event. Deva Lompop is the driving force behind this, but Ireland also shows how easily Jabba can pull the rug from under the feet of those in thrall to him – as much as Deva seems to be the sort of person who does whatever the hell they want, everything ultimately comes back to Jabba and a debt he is owed. This chink in Deva’s armour and her potential vulnerability makes her even more compelling, rather than her simply being a likeable but one-sided scoundrel.

Art is provided by Ibraim Roberson for sequences set in the main timeline of War of the Bounty Hunters, and by Luca Pizarri for flashbacks. Their styles differ enormously so the effect can be jarring when the action shifts from one timeline to another. Roberson’s lines are defined and dynamic, with every known element instantly recognisable and all new elements standing out as beautifully done. Every panel hums with detail. However, Pizarri’s art is not quite as accomplished, and a lot of the main characters are drawn in a rather odd way, Jabba especially – he resembles a giant bullfrog at points rather than the slug-like creature anyone would recognise. The proportions of Boba Fett’s distinctive helmet and armour are also a little off. That said, Pizarri’s art has a cartoonish charm of its own, which works best during the more action-oriented sequences.


VERDICT

One of Star Wars’ finest writers finally makes her debut at Marvel and does a stellar job in both having a lot of fun with characters we know and introducing us to one we don’t who is bound to have a bigger and bigger impact as the event continues. While the art can sometimes lack accuracy and there are no particularly interesting layouts, it’s hard to ignore the quality of the whole page panels dotted throughout that bring a sense of scale and drama to this intriguing and engaging character-driven piece.


Review by Nathan Harrison 27/7/21


Sale on Funko Pop Pre-Orders!

Watch our Funko section on wowcomix.com over the next couple of weeks as we are adding a load of recent, ‘vintage’, to use the term loosely, and pre-order Funko Pops!

This week, smack your eyes on these hot pre-orders on sale from only £8.99!
There’s a sweet Deadpool Pride Edition up for grabs, a brand new Mandalorian holding Grogu (aww) and, well you can’t turn down a new Carnage Pop at that price… can you?

‘Venom 2: Let There Be Carnage sees the return of Tom Hardy as investigative reporter/symbiote host Eddie Brock and his violent alter-ego Venom, as they come face-to-face with the one and only Carnage! Here we have Venom’s arch nemesis Carnage, the symbiote hosted by the body of serial killer, Cletus Kasady. Add Carnage to your Funko collection today!’

Check out new and vintage Pops on wowcomix.com and we stock many in our shops!

Deadpool Pride Edition – Funko Pop! Vinyl

Star Wars: The Mandalorian: Pop! Vinyl Figure: The Mandalorian With Grogu

Carnage (889): Venom: Let There Be Carnage – Funko Pop Vinyl

Throwback Review – Batman #445 – March 1990

Throwback Review – Batman #445 – March 1990
Review by Bryan Lomax

Writer: Marv Wolfman
Pencils: Jim Aparo

Inks:
Mike DeCarlo
Published by DC Comics March 1990

Batman goes to Russia to help the Moscow police commissioner catch The NKVDemon, protégé of The KGBeast, who is out for revenge against those who betrayed his master. The Demon works his way through a hit list of 10 people, much the same way as the KGBeast attempted to do in Gotham, only this time the hunting ground is his home turf in Russia. Can Batman accomplish what he once did in a city he is unfamiliar with?

‘Batman: Ten Nights of the Beast’, written by Jim Starlin in the late 80’s, is one of the seminal works of that decade. Marv Wolfman, no slouch when it comes to writing Batman, is given the task, two years later, of writing a direct sequel to that story. ‘When the Earth Dies! Chapter One: Red Square, Bloody Square’ is a pretty good starting point for it.


Wolfman bookends his story with two sequences. The opener sees Batman catching a villain in Gotham, his home turf, precisely because he knows every street, every alleyway, every sewer tunnel. The closing scene plays out similarly, only this time the villain escapes, precisely because Batman doesn’t know the layout of the city he’s in. In Moscow, the streets, alleyways and sewers belong to The Demon.

Batman #445

I love when stories are bookended. It’s a great device that writers can use to show us a change has happened, whether it be in a character’s personal growth, or in their circumstances. Here we see that Batman is Gotham. Gotham is as much a part of him as the air in his lungs. Without it, he cannot breathe, he cannot function as well as he once did. It gives his nemesis the edge.

That nemesis in question is probably the weakest element of the story, as The Demon is essentially just The Beast, only with a slightly different costume. I would rather they had just brought back The Beast himself. It would be much more fun to see a rematch with the iconic villain, where Batman no longer has the upper hand, instead of giving us a carbon copy in his place.

I always have a sense of nostalgia for Jim Aparo’s artwork. He’s not my favourite, but seeing his work always takes me back to my childhood, when I started reading comic books. It’s very much a golden era for me personally. But it’s great that both Aparo and inker, Mike DeCarlo, both return here, as it was the two of them that brought the ‘Ten Nights of the Beast’ storyline to life.


It must be said that this particular story is very dated as it assumes quite heavily on the audience’s knowledge of Russian politics of the time. And seeing Bruce just randomly bumping into Vicki Vale whilst dining out in Moscow is very quaint. Also, it seems to me that, if The Demon spent as much time doing stuff as he does gasbagging about a better Russia, he might actually stand a chance of achieving his goal. Some of his dialogue is stilted to say the least.

Batman #445


Verdict:

A great nostalgia trip for anyone who read comics as a child of the 80’s, but reading Jim Starlin’s ‘Ten Nights of the Beast’ before this is strongly recommended.


Review by Bryan Lomax, 24/07/21


Three Reasons You Should Check Out The Rick And Morty Comics Right Now.

If, like us, you were a little gutted when Oni Press cancelled their 60 issue long run in march of last year, I’m sure you need no introduction here, but if you are one of the many who missed that epic journey, or perhaps were not even aware that Rick and Morty comics even existed, fear not as Oni Press is on fire with a whole bunch of limited series and one shots, let us explain why you should give them a go…


  • If you like the show, you are going to like the comics.

    At the time of writing the show is halfway through its fifth season and still seemingly as strong as ever with the majority of its audience, among many other aspects this largely seems down to the popularity of its main cast and the consistency that the showrunners have been able to give them as they are thrown through ever wilder and (sometimes) more controversial adventures.
    This is carried over to the comics with a great deal of success.

At peace.
A problem arises…

In line with the best of of TV comic adaptions, as you already know the show, you can hear Rick’s belches, you can’t help but hard-cringe at the sound of Jerry’s incessant whining, it all feels a home in print. Its the same with the editing as, just like the show, the comics seem to pull off a good balance of quick witted, edgy humour and good some great comic timing. In this case by some short and flowing panels that push you so quickly through joke after joke that, just like the show, you end up wanting to go back for more just in-case you missed something crucial to the plot or another layer to the joke. Oh and yes, there are always plenty of references and links to the main show too, but with a universe so vast, complex and rich with characters as Rick and Morty’s, that’s not exactly the hardest trick they have had to pull off here.

If you are new to the comics then at first glance you might thing the artwork looks a little rough around the edges but we insist, fear not, it’s brilliant at what it needs to do, and once you are just a few panels in the character design and their reactions simply mimic the animation that the TV show brings and more often than not it far exceeds the detail needed for the premises it sets itself up in. It’s not as tight and easy on the eye as something like the (ever outstanding) Simpsons comics, but then that type of execution would certainly bring more of a ‘photo-story’ feel to them rather than the very plot-apt chaos that Oni present with Rick and Morty.


  • It makes for a nice break from the noise surrounding the show

If there is one thing that anybody in tune with social media can agree about with Rick and Morty, its that it never seems to be able to go a season without attracting some kind of controversy. We are certainly not going to get into all that here, oh no, but it is now a sad fact that, if its not spoilers, its going to be that one notification from an entertainment media outlet that leaves you to watch a new episode already knowing that there is something either controversial or an important plot point on the way.

Season five has been no exception to all of this so far and we are sure at least some of the publicity doesn’t exactly harm its viewing figures, either way the comics are a breath of fresh air when it comes to enjoying the content without all of the opinions spoilers, and general noise that come with the show.

None of that here Morty!

So, if you are worried that some of the content of the show, or even just the noise surrounding it is tarnishing what was once your love for a healthy fix of Rick and Morty, we would suggest having some land through your letterbox each month as the comics have yet to arouse any of the scrutiny that the show comes under and yet still manages to keep its trademark bite.


  • Just look what’s coming up!

Not only do we get the next part in the fantastically hilarious ‘Ricks New Hat’ run, but up for pre-order now is a Misteeeeeeeer Nimbus one shot along with, what’s that? is that a Frank Miller/Zach Snyder inspired 300 cover for a comic based on Snuffles the (former) family hound!? I think it is…

Feeling it? Well don’t worry, we have you covered as all of these will all be available on http://www.wowcomix.com, maybe even by the time you read this!

Rick and Morty: Rick’s New Hat #3 – 18/8/21

“Oh, snap. It’s over. Rick and Morty are in the big one, the afterlife. No, for real this time, seriously. OK. You got us. They’re in the afterlife, but which one?! Will they find the second Fact of Science in time to save all of reality?!

Rick and Morty: Snuffles Goes To War – TBA – OCTOBER

Rick & Morty: Mr Nimbus #1 – 22/9/21

Straight out of the Rick and Morty Season Five premiere comes Mr. Nimbus!

The origins of Rick’s mightiest foe are revealed in this very special issue of Rick and Morty Presents. Love, war, fish, and friendship undergo the battering sea of time and tide.

Article Written by LJ

Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point #1 Review

Review by Andy Flood

Written by:
Christos Gage

(Concept/Story Consultant: Donald Mustard)
Art:

Reilly Brown (Pencils), Nelson Faro DeCastro (Inks)

Colours: John Kalisz

Letters: Andworld Design

Released 20/4/21 Published By DC Comics

Epic Games are well known for working in crossovers and mashups with different areas of pop culture, having previously brought characters and elements from Star Wars, Marvel, DC and others to their game Fortnite.  To tie in with their latest in-game Batman appearance, DC launched Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point.  Aside from being a cool crossover project/event, each comic contains a unique code which allows for a free download of DC themed in-game goodies (this first being a Harley Quinn costume or ‘skin’).  If all 6 issues are purchased and redeemed, readers get the ‘Armoured Batman’ skin as an additional freebie.  All of this makes the limited run incredibly good value for money for Fortnite and DC fans.

Even were this not a factor, the comic itself has a great many things going for it.  The cover here is by Mikel Janín, whose art has graced numerous DC titles recently, not least of which have been some excellent covers on the current Action Comics arc.  This cover is immediately recognisable and sets a precedent in terms of style for the other covers to follow while also giving us a nice taster of the varied characters we are about to meet.

We open on a classic Batman scene: a dramatic rooftop meeting between Jim Gordon and Batman.  The Bat-signal in the cloudy night sky torn asunder by a strange, crackling rift.  The creators waste no time in dropping us straight into the action and within a few exciting panels, we are following Batman as he is thrust through this rift into… where?


This is one of many questions Batman faces as he wakes in this new world.  While the setting will be instantly familiar and thrilling for fans of the Fortnite game, it shows Batman in unfamiliar territory in more ways than one.  He scarcely has time to catch his breath before he is drawn into a series of seemingly random encounters.  Here we get to see Batman adapt, analyze and survive in a near literal maelstrom of chaos, despite having no memory of who he is and being unable to speak!

Christos Gage uses Batman’s inner monologue to great effect here, showing a clear understanding of what make the famous Dark Knight tick.  As we learn about this new world through Batman’s experiences, Gage cleverly introduces concepts from Fortnite which will delight fans of the game while also intriguing DC fans.  The tone of the writing is just right, and keeps us invested until the final page.

Artwork is bold, dynamic and colourful; just what is needed for this title.  The world of Fortnite is mercurial and, as such, can be hard to characterise but the art team have done a great job of nailing the style of both the game and the featured DC characters.


Verdict

‘Zero Point’ is a title which manages to get a lot of things right when so many could have gone wrong.  While there is some definite crossover between comic fans and players of Fortnite, it would have been easy to alienate either group.  This issue has plenty to please everyone and, if you’re lucky enough to be fans of both, you get a great comic to read and some very cool stuff for your game.  A cool read for all ages.

(Suggested ages 13+ by DC)


Review by Andy Flood, 20/7/21


Throwback Review – Silver Age DC Classics: Adventure Comics #247

Review By Andy Flood


Written by:
Otto Binder (Superboy)
Ed Herron (Green Arrow)
Jack Miller (Aquaman)
Art:
Al Plastino (Superboy)
George Papp (Green Arrow)
Ramona Fradon (Aquaman)
DC ComicsApril 1992



Originally released in 1958, Adventure Comics #247 is packed with three stories, each featuring a well known DC character.  Re-released here as part of the ‘Silver Age DC Classics’ series in 1992, this is a really attractive prospect for any fan of DC or indeed, comics in general.

The original cover was by Curt Swan and Stan Kaye and shows Superboy seemingly facing the judgement of ‘The Legion of Super-Heroes’.  Depending on the reader’s age, it’s either deeply nostalgic or else curious to see art in this style; very evocative of the era and full of elements rarely used today.  Everything from the lettering and logo through to the colours and line work are different and hint at just some of the allure of these older comics.

There was often some form of teaser or ‘pitch’ on the cover, sometimes plucked from the pages within, other times featuring headline hyperbole designed to pull the reader in.  There’s a sense of fun and a feeling of incredulity brought by the dialogue on this cover and, if you want to know whether Cosmic Boy is actually serious, you clearly need to read the story within!

The lead story is notable for being the first appearance of ‘The Legion of Super-Heroes’, comprised here of Cosmic Boy, Lightning Boy and Saturn Girl, along with cameos from un-named members of the legion who would pique the curiosity of readers back in the ‘50s

It’s a great story, full of the optimistic futurism which was prevalent during the time of writing.  We see rocket ships, jet packs and gleaming utopian cityscapes as Superboy is transported to the 30th century!  There he faces the trials of ‘The Legion’ as they attempt to assess his worthiness for inclusion in their club.  Exactly how they go about all this might be seen to be morally dubious but seeing Superboy’s powers pitched against inventive use of other singular super-powers makes for great entertainment.

We then go on to join Green Arrow as he faces ‘The 13 Superstition Arrows’, along with his trusty sidekick Speedy.  This is obviously a much earlier incarnation of Green Arrow and perhaps seems comical when compared to his more modern counterpart.  However, this is an inventive and fun yarn, with lovely art and dramatic writing typical of the age.  Current fans might get a kick from seeing Green Arrow in his early ‘classic’ form; there’s lots to enjoy and some familiar elements that remain through to today’s version.

Our second backup story features Aquaman in ‘Aquaman’s Super Sea-Squad’.  This wild ride reads almost more like one of the war comics of the ‘40s, featuring as it does several military elements.  That’s not to say that it’s not fun; despite the threat of subaquatic nuclear disaster, this remains a remarkably light hearted and thrilling read.  Will Aquaman make it on time? Will the denizens of the deep help him in his impossible task?  Will he pause to paint a nuke green?  Well, yes, as it happens.

As if these three wonderful short stories weren’t enough, we are treated to brief letters or essays from DC creators working on later iterations of the Legion, giving their perspective as they look back on this classic issue.  It’s an interesting read, and highlights the value of these early titles.


Verdict

There’s something special about picking up an old or vintage comic.  It looks different, smells different (yes, I’m weird) and certainly feels different when you read it.  There’s a magic to it which is very specific to almost any comic prior to the year 2000.  Perhaps it’s the small ads offering x-ray vision for $3.25, or a ‘master kung-fu in a week!’ scheme.  But more likely, it is the imaginative stories, focused purely on providing fun, excitement and entertainment – all things which this issue brings in spades.  Suspend your disbelief at the door and treat yourself to almost any vintage title.  Judge a book by its cover and, chances are, you’ll be glad you did.


Review by Andy Flood, 20/7/21


Vintage Pokemon Trainer Action Figures: Collecting & Restoration


Article by Emily Carney


As well as the mountain of action figures based on our favourite creatures from the world of Pokemon, over the years there have also been numerous toys inspired by the human characters from the franchise. Here we’ll be taking a look at a handful of the earlier Pokemon trainer action figures that were released during the first three generations of Pokemon, along with a few tips on restoring older action figures and keeping them in tip top condition.


Tomy 5” Trainer Figures

Cue 90’s intro music…

One of the most popular runs of Pokemon trainer figures was this range  which was manufactured and released by Tomy in 1998. Featuring key characters from the first series of the Pokemon anime (Ash, Brock and Misty along with Jessie and James from Team Rocket), these figures bore a striking resemblance to their anime counterparts and proved to be very popular among fans. Initially just Ash, Misty, Jessie and James were released with no sign of a Brock action figure, possibly due to his temporary absence early on in the anime and subsequently being replaced with Tracey Sketchit, as the creators of the Pokemon anime were worried about Brock being perceived negatively as an asian stereotype upon the anime’s release in the west. This however, proved to not be the case and Brock was immensely popular with western Pokemon fans, which led to his reinstatement as a main series character following the culmination of the Orange Islands series.

The Ash and Misty figures were initially released with Pikachu and Starmie respectively, however during the second release of figures Ash was packaged with Squirtle (who oddly, featured its original dark blue colouring as seen in Ken Sugimori’s illustrations in the Pokemon Red/Green/Blue/Yellow game manual as opposed to the light blue redesign given to Squirtle in the anime) and Misty was packaged with Jigglypuff. Team Rocket also featured different Pokemon in the second release, as Jessie had originally been packaged with Ekans and James with Koffing, but in the second release Jessie was packaged with Meowth and James, rather oddly considering it was Jessie’s Pokemon and not his, was packaged with Arbok. Eventually Brock did receive his own figure and was partnered with his Vulpix, along with the plastic Pokeball and small card disc displaying the featured Pokemon that was included with all the other western-released Tomy trainer figures.

Pocket Monsters

Interestingly, Japanese releases of these figures did not feature additional Pokemon figures or other parts other than a base to stand the figures on for display and the trainer figures were released in sets of two, with Ash and Misty (or as they are known in Japan, Satoshi and Kasumi), were released together, along with Jessie and James (Musashi and Kojiro) and Brock and Nurse Joy (Tekashi and Joy) being paired up. Fans of the anime can probably note that Brock would have been ecstatic with his box partner.

There has been a great deal of interest in this range of figures over the past few years, especially if still boxed and in good condition. The value of them continues to increase dramatically (I recently spotted an unopened Ash and Squirtle Tomy figure set on ebay for £500!), so if you are interested in collecting these figures I would definitely recommend trying to hunt down a bargain sooner than later as they do make great additions to any collection both boxed and unboxed, plus if you are lucky enough to get a box figure signed by the specific character’s original voice actor you could be looking at adding a serious investment piece to your collection.


Hasbro Deluxe Trainer Figures

Whilst technically being a continuation of the Tomy 5” Trainer Line (despite Hasbro taking over the production license), the Deluxe Trainer Figures released in 2000 introduced new features to the Trainer figure series.

Following his return to anime for the Johto Journeys series, Brock’s figure was released at the same time as Ash and Misty, with each of them being packaged with their own plastic backpack which could be attached and detached and a Pokeball similar to those included with the earlier Tomy trainer figure line (however the two halves of these Pokeballs were attached on a hinge, a slight change to the two separate pieces which made up the Tomy-released Pokeballs). Each figure was also paired up with one of the specific trainer’s Pokemon from the anime, with Ash being partnered with Pikachu, Brock being partnered with Zubat and Misty being partnered with Horsea

Backpacks included!

Unlike the previous Tomy range, the Hasbro line did not include Jessie and James, although they did include the additional feature of being articulated, which made them much more poseable and fun to reenact battles with. In a similar fashion to the Tomy figures, the Hasbro Deluxe Figures are becoming more and more sought after (though the prices haven’t quite reached the heights of the Tomy line yet), I recently managed to find the full trio together at a bargain price (not boxed or with their Pokemon/Pokeballs but they did included their backpacks) and they look excellent on display, so I would very much recommend keeping an eye out for the Deluxe Figures if you’re looking to add some early-series anime collectibles to your collection.


Tomy CGTSJ 3” (Approx) Figures

Officer Jenny, Professor Oak and Gary Oak too!

As well as the larger trainer figures, in 1998 Tomy also released a range of smaller human character figures. This range was the first to include characters such as Officer Jenny, Professor Oak and Gary Oak and featured the characters sculpted in various poses on a small grey stand. This line of figures was notable for possibly having the least amount of quality control when it came to the moulds used and the paintwork, as some of the character’s limbs ended to be rather oversized and had some unusual additions (note Officer Jenny’s rather long left arm and Brock inexplicably holding what appears to be a chicken drumstick in the photo above).

The Tomy CGTSJ figures are still readily available to purchase from a number of vintage Pokemon retailers online, however certain characters (particularly Professor Oak and Officer Jenny) are becoming increasingly rare.


Ash & Cyndaquil and Ash, Pikachu, Wartortle & Jigglypuff THINKChip Sets

THINKChip Ash

In 2001 Hasbro returned to creating Pokemon trainer figures with the THINKChip Ash figure, which was released in two different sets: one featuring the Ash figure and Cyndaquil, and another featuring Ash, Pikachu, Wartortle and Jigglypuff, the later being released as part of the Pokemon Trainer’s Choice range which bridged the gap between Pokemon Generation II and III.

Using the THINKChip Ash’s Talking Pokedex (which I covered in my previous blog, The Changing Face Of The Pokedex), the Ash figure and the Pokemon included in the sets were able to interact with the Pokedex using the THINKChip cards for each Pokemon that also came with each set. The THINKChip Ash figure was noticeably larger than other human character Pokemon toys and is currently the largest official trainer action figure to be released, measuring approximately 11.5 inches. The design of the figure is also noticeably similar to the Deluxe Trainer Ash figure that Hasbro released in 2000, albeit without the detachable backpack.

Do you have one in the attic?

In terms of collectibility, the THINKChip Ash figures are scarcely seen outside of the USA and are becoming increasingly hard to find boxed and unopened, particularly the earlier Cyndaquil set. Loose THINKChip Ash figures without any additional Pokemon figures or THINKChip card accessories can occasionally be found in bundles of Pokemon toys or on their own online, however prices and conditions of the figures available can vary greatly.

In terms of collectibility, the THINKChip Ash figures are scarcely seen outside of the USA and are becoming increasingly hard to find boxed and unopened, particularly the earlier Cyndaquil set. Loose THINKChip Ash figures without any additional Pokemon figures or THINKChip card accessories can occasionally be found in bundles of Pokemon toys or on their own online, however prices and conditions of the figures available can vary greatly.


Medicom Ash with Pikachu Set

The Ash With Pikachu set was released in 2006 by Medicom and was unusual for a Pokemon trainer figure in that it was a much more doll-like toy than others previously released, measuring 8 inches in height, being fully articulated and including fabric clothes and accessories as well as interchangeable hands.

Medicom Ash with Pikachu

Even in terms of packaging it was far different to other Pokemon toys, with its box being closer to those used by brands such as Sideshow as it featured a velcro-sealable card door with a comic-style illustrations of Ash and Pikachu on the exterior and interior of the box, along with a clear plastic window in which the Ash and Pikachu figures (plus all their accessories) could be viewed.

The Ash With Pikachu set was released in 2006 by Medicom and was unusual for a Pokemon trainer figure in that it was a much more doll-like toy than others previously released, measuring 8 inches in height, being fully articulated and including fabric clothes and accessories as well as interchangeable hands. Even in terms of packaging it was far different to other Pokemon toys, with its box being closer to those used by brands such as Sideshow as it featured a velcro-sealable card door with a comic-style illustrations of Ash and Pikachu on the exterior and interior of the box, along with a clear plastic window in which the Ash and Pikachu figures (plus all their accessories) could be viewed.

The Medicom Ash figure shows off Ash’s new outfit from the Hoenn-based Pokemon: Advanced series, which saw him swap his traditional outfit for a new hooded shirt, new jeans, black gloves, blue trainers and a brand new hat. This was the first time in the anime that Ash would permanently change his outfit, however in the following years he has had numerous different clothing and design changes.

In terms of rarity the Medicom Ash With Pikachu figure set is rather scarce, with the figure being limited to a release of just 1500. They are also rarely seen for sale outside of Japan and are extremely expensive,  with the few sets currently available online being priced as high as £550.


Tomy Pokemon Mate Mini Figures

So cute!

Back to Tomy, one of the most prolific Pokemon trainer/human character lines has to be the Tomy Pokemon Mate Mini Figure range which first began in 1997. As part of the Pokemon Mate Collection (which was released to the western market under the name “Pokemon House” and also included stationary, model kits and playsets, amongst other Pokemon products) the mini figures featured a variety of characters, including Ash, Misty, Brock, Tracey, Jessie, James, Professor Oak, Officer Jenny, Nurse Joy and Gary Oak. Additional Pokemon anime-themed products were also released alongside the mini figures, such as Team Rocket’s Meowth-shaped hot air balloon and Magikarp submarine.

The figures were designed in a “Chibi”-esque style and despite their small stature, emulated the anime characters they were based on very well. These figures were distributed to some stores in the west during the late 1990’s, including some here in the UK, however the numbers that were distributed over here were far less than those of other Pokemon toys. Some of the early Ash and Misty figures can be found at relatively affordable prices ( I recently saw an Ash + Misty mini figure bundle on eBay for £30, which when compared with some of the prices of other figures in this blog, seems like pocket money), however some of the lesser-seen characters such as Professor Oak, Officer Jenny and particularly Nurse Joy are becoming extremely rare, so if you are interested in collecting this line (and I must admit, they are very cute) I would certainly recommend snapping up any you come across sooner rather than later.


Pokemon Figure Restoration Tips:

Before…

If you have Pokemon toys (or any action figures really) that are looking a little worse for wear, don’t worry! With a little work you can get them looking nice and fresh, so here’s a few hints and tips on sprucing up your Pokemon figures. I recently started getting into customising and restoring various toys and one of my first restoration projects was this vintage James from Team Rocket Tomy figure –

Before I started re-painting I lightly sanded the entire figure with a light grade sandpaper, for the harder to reach nooks and crannies i wrapped the sandpaper around the end of a thin paint brush as this allowed me to get to the harder to reach areas and sand them, which ensured that the paint could be applied evenly. I then used Crawford and Black acrylic paints to re-paint his hair and clothing and Citadel model paints to re-paint his face. I used a selection of still frames from the original Indigo league anime as a reference to ensure that the colours were mixed accordingly to how the character appeared in the anime. Some of the areas with heavier blemishes (such as his hair and hands) required a few extra coats to cover up completely but all in all the paint job was relatively simple. After the paint had dried I used a matte spray varnish to seal everything and give the figure a nice clean finish as seen below –

…After

I found the process of restoring this figure to be immensely satisfying and would definitely recommend any fellow figure collectors who feel like getting creative to have a go at giving their older toys a new lease of life. If you are considering restoring your figures, ensure you have a good clear space to work in where you won’t have to worry about making too much of a mess and if it is your first time painting action figures, perhaps try practicing on a few cheaper toys before repainting anything that is more valuable. In terms of getting the right colours, always use a good reference image and focus on mixing colours to get the correct tone, rather than trying to find the closest match to a specific colour when buying paints as this is a generally more reliable way of getting your figures to look as close as possible to character designs your are trying to replicate. Like any hobby though the most important part of figure restoration is to enjoy it and have fun, so don’t get too frustrated if your figures don’t look perfect immediately. Practice makes perfect at the end of the day so just hang in there and before you know it you’ll have a whole array of great looking figures!


Written by Emily Carney, 2021


Sources/Further Reading:

Pokemon/Deluxe Trainer Bulbapedia page – https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Deluxe_Trainers

THINKChip Interactive System Bulbapedia Page –

https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/THINKChip_Interactive_System

PilotTails – Medicom RAH Ash Ketchum and Pikachu From Pokemon –

Kewpie83 – Collection Close Up: Think Chip Trainer’s Choice Ash Ketchum – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFUHMhjdMyo

Pokemon Mate Human Figurines Bulbapedia Page –

https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Pok%C3%A9mon_mate#Human_figurines

Dino-mite 80’s Toys – How To Clean And Restore Vintage Toys – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ce7vkFLcuQk

Dr Toys – How to repaint an old thrift store toy –

Batman #110 Review


Writer: James Tynion IV

Art: Jorge Jimenez (“The Cowardly Lot Part Five”) and Ricardo Lopez Ortiz (“Ghost-Maker Chapter 4”)

Colours: Tomeu Morey (“The Cowardly Lot Part Five”) and Romulo Fajardo Jr. (“Ghost-Maker Chapter 4”)

Published by DC Comics Released: 06/07/21

Review by Bryan Lomax


I stated in my review for the previous issue that I came into James Tynion’s story, “The Cowardly Lot”, somewhat late, but that I filled in the blanks with a quick search on the internet. Since then, I have gone back and read issue #106-#107, and I would highly recommend everyone doing the same if you haven’t already. Issue #107, in particular, really tells us who the character of Miracle Molly is, and what she stands for, in a way that makes me care for whether or not she will get out of the predicament we find her in by the end of issue #110. It also dives deep into the main themes of Tynion’s overarching story, adding more weight to events that happen in the current issue.

That theme is fear or, more to the point, societal fear. Tynion is asking, “where does that fear come from, why do we allow ourselves to be held prisoner by it and who stands to gain something from it?” The Scarecrow is obviously the perfect villain from Batman’s rogues gallery with which to explore that theme. But it’s still unclear as to where he fits into it all. Is he being used or is he the mastermind behind all that is happening in Gotham?

Then we have Simon Saint and his Peace Keeper program. Saint represents a threat that uses fear to achieve an agenda. And, while that agenda may ultimately be based on noble ideals, it’s execution reveals a complete lack of trust in the people it would supposedly serve. It is therefore no more than a vain attempt at making a play for power and control, marking Saint out as a true villain.

We have former Arkham security guard, Sean Mahoney, who takes up the frontman position of Saint’s Peace Keeper force. He represents much of what so many people today fear, particularly in the US, as their country becomes more and more divided, seemingly heading towards totalitarianism. If Gotham was to embrace Saint’s Peace Keepers then it might as well change its name to Mega City One.

The scary thing about Miracle Molly and the Unsanity Collective is that everything they say about the definitions of “sane” and “insane” and who gets to decide upon them makes for quite a convincing argument. The greatest system of control, Tynion argues, is fear and we are all caught up in it. But those who do not fear anything, such as Ghost-Maker, are labelled as psychopaths, even though, as this story shows, they might be the only ones we can count on to release us from our own prisons of fear.

These are the things I find myself thinking about as I read this issue, which is all down to the excellent story telling from Tynion. And once again I have to say that I’m really loving the artwork by Jorge Jaminez and the beautifully rich colours by Tomeu Morey.

I’m still not quite as keen on the artwork for the “Ghost-Maker” origin story, now in its fourth chapter, which kind of feels like Tynion is setting up a rogues gallery for his creation, that he can then use as a starting point, should the character get his own series. Beyond that there’s not much to complain about and I eagerly await the next issue.


Verdict –

The pairing of artist, Jorge Jimenez, with colourist, Tomeu Morey, works wonders in bringing Tynion’s compelling study on societal fear to life.


Review by Bryan Lomax, 17/07/21