- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Thanks to the proliferation of film, comic-book and cartoon characters, companies are bombarding consumers with an incredible selection of action figures. With tongue in cheek, let’s take a peek at some of the specimens worthy of a place in Zad’s Toy Vault.

Battle OPS Bumblebee

Hasbro’s latest Transformers lineup maintains the tradition of innovation and slick conversions that has kept young fans enamored with the Decepticons and Autobots for the past quarter of a century.

First, a core lineup of traditional transforming action figures includes Optimus Prime, Starscream and Megatron in multiple scales: Deluxe ($12.99), Voyager ($19.99) and Leader ($44.99, featuring lights and sounds).

Next, Power Core Combiners ($9.99 to $19.99) are an all-new assortment of figures in two-packs (one Scout Transformer and Mini-Con) and five-packs (one scout and four Legends scale vehicles). Each can attach and work with one another to create dozens of play variations for owners.

The company’s crown jewel this year, Battle OPS Bumblebee, mixes sound effects and lights to highlight one of the stars of the Autobot’s team.

Figure profile: From the box — Though he’s known among the Autobots for his sense of humor, Bumblebee is also a dangerous warrior with decades of experience under his hood. His demeanor changes with all the speed of his vehicle mode; he is never caught unprepared for a fight.

Though the Decepticons have tried for years to destroy him, they have failed. He has survived grievous injury and even serious defeat, but he always comes back with a grin on his grill, ready for more.

Accessories: Our bubbly yellow bot, plucked straight from the movies, transforms into a 2010 Chevy Camaro concept car through a 20-step process. Parents will need to hire either a robotics engineer or an average 7-year-old to complete the conversion process. (Just kidding, it’s not that bad.)

As a Camaro, a button on the hood offers revving engine and horn sounds and the occasional “Nobody can catch Bumblebee” and “You wanna race?”

Now flip out the cannons, concealed in the driver’s compartment, and they appear ready for action with glowing red lights and explosion noises. Press the hood button for explosion sounds and “Somebody call a vet, cause these puppies are sick.”

As the robot, Bumblebee comes to life with eye and chest lights and sounds after a press of the Autobot logo on his chest. Owners can work the flip-down mask and plasma canon arm, which can be cocked and fired for a light-up and explosive sound effects. He also offers lines such as “I will protect you,” “I’m so excited” and “Time to take out the trash.”

Price: $59.99

Read all about it: IDW Publishing has adapted plenty of the Transformers adventures into sequential art for the past six years. The company offers three full-color volumes’ worth of its comics compiled into a hardcover format called, not surprisingly Transformers: The IDW Collection ($49.99 each).

What’s it worth: This easy-to-handle, relatively easy-to-transform, sound-effects-loaded Bumblebee will wring multiple play sessions out of youngsters this holiday season. However, I’m not sure I could justify the price point other than as a gift. Serious collectors will still want the much more sophisticated Ultimate Bumblebee ($99.99) for their permanent Transformer lineup.

Judgment Day Sarah Connor

Sideshow Collectibles and its distribution partners continue to give fans of the Terminator movies a potent lineup of high-end pop-culture memories.

Items over the years have ranged from Sideshow’s T-800 Endoskeleton life-size bust ($499) to Museum Replicas’ Terminator leather jacket ($299) to Medicom Toys’ T-Rip Bearbrick ($99).

Among current 12-inch figures, Hot Toys’ Movie Masterpiece lineup leads the way.

The company delivers highly articulated and detailed representations of actor Christian Bale as John Connor; Sam Worthington as Marcus Wright; a deteriorating T-600; and the mother of the leader of the rebel resistance, Sarah Connor, portrayed by Linda Hamilton.

Figure profile: From the box — Everyday life changed for waitress Sarah Connor in 1984 when she was targeted for termination by a cyborg assassin called the T-800, or Terminator, which was sent back in time by Skynet before she could give birth to the future leader of the Human Resistance. The T-800 failed.

Ten years later, Skynet sends a newer and more formidable Terminator, the liquid-metal T-1000, to eliminate the young John Connor, born from the union between Sarah and Kyle Reese. The Resistance sends a protector, but this time, it sends a captured reprogrammed T-800 to defend the boy and his mother.

Although being mercilessly pursued by the T-1000 — with the help of John, the T-800 and the scientist  they successfully destroy the Cyberdyne building in an attempt to save mankind.

Accessories: As per all Hot Toys figure releases, the extra stuff is bountiful for this “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” figure. This time it begins with a small army’s worth of firearms.

These include an assault rifle (with removable scope and magazine along with an added silencer), a shotgun (includes pump action) with five removable shells and folding stock, a silver-plated Beretta that can be cocked and reveals a bullet in the chamber, and a nasty-looking knife with sheath.

Sarah is dressed in military-mission garb, all cloth and all different textures, with tank top, tactical vest (with six pockets and Velcro straps), combat boots and those cool sunglasses (shiny, shaded lenses, of course).

Now here are a few points to justify that hefty price. Owners can remove part of her sculpted hair, the bangs, to be precise, and replace it with a piece of matted hair so her black cap fits properly. That’s just insane.

Also, muscular arms, neck and torso are covered with fleshy rubber, so there are no obvious joints, and that presents a much more realistic look. Three sets of interchangeable hands (even one to hold the included cigarette) round out the options.

Price: $149.99, available through Sideshow Collectibles (www.sideshowcollectible.com)

Read all about it: Malibu Comics delivered two four-issue Terminator 2: Judgment Day miniseries back in the mid 1990s titled Cybernetic Dawn and Nuclear Twilight. (Issue prices average $1.99 in near mint condition.) Also, Dark Horse Comics offers two volumes of the Terminator Omnibus ($24.99 each) compiling much of the publisher’s 1990s Terminator miniseries.

What’s it worth: A stunning likeness of actress Linda Hamilton makes for the definitive 1:6 scale representation of the pop-culture star. Get her out of the box, find the right gun combination, pose as her grittily as possible, and let her live in a display case for all to admire next to Hot Toys’ T-800.

Pop Vault

A look at more items devoted to the pop culture of superheroes just in time for Halloween.

War Machine Classic Muscle (Disguise/Jakks Pacific, $35.99) Disguise Inc. pays tribute to “Iron Man 2” with a complete selection of costumes for the trick-and-treaters in the family.

One of the more stylish designs adapts the Mark II armor suit worn by trusted ally James Rhodes, seen in the Marvel comics and movie.

The costume features a silver, black and gray cloth jumpsuit with some puffiness for the biceps and a six-pack but sans gloves and boots. An included plastic mask covers the face to represent the helmet and looks a bit cheap compared to the suit.

Sorely lacking is the hero’s firepower. Specifically, and needing to be purchased separately, the War Machine’s Shoulder Canon ($19.99) and Rocket Gauntlets ($14.99).

None of the weapons will be confused with an actual movie prop (the 10-inch long canon looks pretty good from a distance) but the complete package will make the young Iron Man stand out during his dusk run of candy-collecting.

Now, kids looking for the latest Tony Stark armor model will climb into Disguise’s Iron Man 2 Mark VI Light up Deluxe costume ($49.99).

Owners get a yellow-and-red cloth jumpsuit, sans boots and gloves, with a chest arc reactor that lights up.

The helmet is the same quality as War Machines, so I suggest parents kick in the extra cash and buy Hasbro’s interactive, full, over-the-head Iron Man Helmet ($34.99) for the ultimate representation of ol’ Shellhead.

And let’s not forget the ladies. The Ironette Tween ($34.99) exists only in the world of Disguise but definitely makes a pop-culture fashion statement, being, perhaps, the coolest looking of the bunch.

It features red leggings and gauntlets, an eye mask with translucent yellow goggles and a nicely detailed gold-and-red minidress. Look out, Wonder Woman.

Visit Zadzooks at the blog section of The Washington Times’ Communities pages (http://communities.washingtontimes.com).

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