Category Archives: Reviews

Reviews of movies, toys, comics, collectibles, and anything else I can get my grubby hands on!

Ben 10 “Ultimate Swampfire” Action Figure Review

Cartoon Network has been producing many great cartoon shows in the past few years for kids of all ages. One of their longest running franchises in recent times is “Ben 10,” the story is about young Ben Tennyson, his cousin Gwen, and their grandfather Max who discover a mysterious watch-like device called the Omnitrix during a camping trip. Like all 10 year old kids, Ben realizes the only course of action is to battle aliens and right the wrongs of the universe by transforming into aliens. It’s only logical.

It was not long before toys had to be made, and Ban Dai has been producing these figures since the show first debuted in 2005. Now, over six years later, the characters have all aged in real time and star in “Ultimate Alien,” where Ben now uses the Ultimatrix and transforms into even bigger and cooler aliens. Today, we look at one of those aliens.

“Ultimate Swampfire” is part of Ban Dai’s “Ben 10: Ultimate Alien” line, and first premiered on episode 53 in the episode, “Ben 10 Returns.” Hailing from the planet Methanos, Swampfire has pyrokinetic powers, a rotten scent, and a nasally voice, making him the Woody Allen of aliens. So, let’s dive in and take a closer look at this figure.

Packaging – Nothing too out of the ordinary here. Swampfire comes on your normal blister card, which is a very compact nine inches tall. There are no frills here, as it’s very economic packaging. Since these toys are intended for kids who are going to rip them open immediately, the main event is the figure itself which is given the most space on this box.

The back of the box features a look at the other figures in this line, as well as the “Disc Alien Ultimatrix,” which we will talk a bit more about later. A character bio would have been nice to see on the back, but again, being for younger kids (many of whom probably can not read yet) there is not much of a huge need for that. It’s pretty straight forward, and it serves its purpose of being a window for a child to see and scream “GIMME GIMME GIMME!”

Taking him out of the package was very easy too. No twisty-ties or rubber bands, just one plastic case that he pops right out of easily. The plastic is pretty thin, but the figure is well-protected and snug in his molded coffin.

Sculpting – Swampfire captures the style of the cartoon dead on. He could practically pass for a model that the animators would use for reference. The character design reminds me of “Holocaust” from Marvel Comics (remember him), but unlike that character, Swampfire is a more balanced looking figure. For someone like me who knows Ben 10 only in passing, I can still enjoy this unique looking creature, and can figure out what he is all about just from looking at him.

He might not be the most detailed figure compared to more realistic lines, but this is a cartoon which focuses on style more than realism. There is no variety in the texture of the figure other than some indents on the muddy section of his body, but the figure seems to be more about the color combinations than it does about fancy sculpting. It accomplishes what it sets out to do, and looks good doing it – simplicity, and some times, there is nothing wrong with that.

Paint – As I said above, I think this figure is more about color than it is about detail. One look at the cartoon show will tip you off to that, and this figure is very accurate in terms of its color. At it’s core, it’s a blue and green color scheme with black highlights, and it works together in unison very well.

I am happy to report that there is no slop around the edges or any blotches. The paint is smooth all over the toy and gives it that feel that it came right out of your TV screen.

Accessories – Swampfire comes with only one accessories, a mini-disc thing with his alien symbol. This disc goes into the Ultimatrix accessory that your child (or you, I’m not judging) wears on their wrist, where it then lights up and spins into action.

To use it, you nestle the character down into the disc, then release it to see him and his arms pop out. The disc looks nice enough on its own, but without the Ultimatrix, this accessory does nothing except get lost when you put it down.

Playability – Swampfire has nine points of articulation, many of those joints hidden nicely, while his knees do have blatantly visible pins. At four inches tall, this figure is great for a kid and will fit in with most other action figures in that scale like Star Wars or the upcoming four-inch Thundercats figures.

The toy is made from sturdy plastic and feels pretty solid, so I would not be worried about your youngling dropping it and smashing it into trillions of pieces. If they own the Ultimatrix, they will have tons of fun roleplaying with it, making the single accessory great for kids, not so much for collectors. Then again, how many collectors are hoarding Ben 10 toys?

Final Verdict – When I asked how many collectors hoard Ben 10 toys, I did not mean that in a negative tone. Far from it, as Ben 10 really is intended for kids to play with. I wish there were more toy lines like this, since it seems nowadays companies are more interested in the adult collectors than they are in entertaining children.

Ban Dai keeps the integrity of the franchise as well as a high play factor for kids. They are still great for collectors too, but this is a toy that was meant to have fun with. So if you buy one, make sure to get yourself one to take out of the package too.

Check out the gallery below to see more photos of “Swampfire”

“Spider Man: Shattered Dimensions” Video Game Review

BY JONATHAN METTE

The latest entry into the collection of Spider-Man video games is Shattered Dimensions, developed by Beenox and published by Activision. How does it stack up against previous entries in what has been, at best, a mediocre franchise?

In the early days, gamers had the likes of Maximum Carnage and Separation Anxiety that put them in the boots of Spider-Man and/or Venom. These early beat-em ups were fun at the time, and while you could web-sling, they didn’t really capture the feeling of freedom as you swing around New York City.

With the genesis of 3D gaming, Spider-Man came out for the PS One and the Nintendo 64. In this you could web-sling with a greater sense of how it would feel for Spider-Man, but it was still limited to a certain area, boxed in by the developers. This continues into the first Spider-Man movie game that was released for the GameCube, PS2 and X-Box.

With Spider-Man 2, Treyarch switched things up, allowing gamers to roam through an open-world New York City, swinging at will, provided your webs had something to which they could cling. The limitations were more natural, and the web-slinging had a much more natural, organic feel to it. Combat still left something to be desired, but it was tolerable. This same open-world mentality continued up to the last Spider-Man game, Web of Shadows. With Shattered Dimensions, however, that fun aspect of the Spider-Man games feels like it has taken a giant step backwards, though the way the game is set-up would make that open-world environment a bit more difficult to maintain.

The story behind Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions is that during a museum robbery, the Amazing Spider-Man (voiced by none other than Neil Patrick Harris) and Mysterio get into a fight and a mysterious stone tablet, the Tablet of Order and Chaos, gets broken by Spider-Man, causing a dimensional rift to form and the pieces to get scattered across different Spider-Man continuities: Amazing, Ultimate, 2099 and Noir. Each Spider-Man is voiced by a different voice actor as well, helping to aid in the idea of four separate Spider-Man identities.

Each Spider-Man has some of the same basic moves, but also has one or two unique aspects, as well. The Amazing Spider-Man is the most well-rounded, the Ultimate Spider-Man (in which Spider-Man has donned the black Symobiote Suit) is a bit stronger and better in melee, Spider-Man 2099 is better at dodging attacks, and Noir Spider-Man isn’t very good at straight forward fights, and is better off sticking to the shadows to take his enemies out.

The idea sounds like a lot of fun, but the execution is more than a little muddled. Each Spider-Man controls identically when it comes to swinging around and melee combat. The game itself is little more than button mashing combos into groups of baddies while occasionally dodging incoming projectiles.

The level designs and enemies are little more than repetitive palette swaps. Spider-Man tracks down a shard of the tablet, runs into a classic Spider-Man villain who has been made stronger by said shard, and chases them through a very linear level, all the while fighting off groups of baddies that the villain can create that share more than a few similarities with the baddie that spawned them.

Each level is the same formula with a different enemy from Spider-Man’s numerous Rogue Gallery. The only break in the monotony comes in the form of Noir Spider-Man’s levels, where stealth plays a bigger role.

Overall, there isn’t a lot to recommend a purchase for this game. It’s overall very mediocre at best, and there isn’t a whole lot of replay value. Each level does come with its own challenges that, when beaten, give you points to increase or enhance Spider-Man’s combat and character abilities. The challenges are even tracked, so you know which ones you’ve done and which ones you haven’t. Even with that, give this game a rental before a purchase. It’s not worth it.

Originally posted on The Milwaukee Examiner

Review of Retron 3 NES/SNES/Genesis Triple Game System

I am a classic video game fanatic, but classic video games are not a fan of me. A retro video game is like a fine wine, aging with grace and dignity, and typically getting better with time. Their consoles, however, are more like that relative you locked up in a senior center and only visit on the day before major holidays (since why waste a holiday on a person who can’t even remember what year it is).

The frustration of attempting to play an old Nintendo game on its system knows no bounds. You can blow as much as you want in the cartridge, but if the system is just too old to work, you are wasting your breath. With older video game technology copyrights going up for grabs in the past few years, many “clone consoles” have popped up that offer you the ability to play older games on them, often two systems in one like the RetroDuo.

Then along came the retron 3, which offers not one, not two, but THREE different consoles in one! With this contraption, gamers can relive their favorite NES, SNES and Sega Genesis games in cartridge form. Many of its predecessors were mediocre, so how well does this system rank? Hit the jump and find out in the full review!
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Jakks Pacific UFC Action Figures – Frankie Edgar & Wanderlei Silva review

NOTE: This review is being used with permission from the original source, and partner site, thefightnerd.com.

Every nerd has an extensive action figure collection, and this reviewer is no different. Fans of my site have seen photos of parts of the collection before, which includes all sorts of figures from Evil Dead, Street Fighter, Marvel Comics, Masters of the Universe, WWF, Ghostbusters, and so much more. Jakks Pacific has been helping to feed my addiction with their deluxe UFC action figures, which I have been collecting since their first wave a few years back.

Recently, I got a hold of two specific figures, Frankie Edgar from Wave 8 and Wanderlei Silva from Wave 9, and decided that since I have not done a review of the UFC toys in awhile, that I was past due. In my past reviews, I generally enjoyed the figures, but there were some problems. Here we are almost a year later since the last toy review, and I wondered if Jakks had fixed any of those issues I had or if they were content producing the same quality of figures I had seen previously. Should hardcore MMA fans lay down their cash for these toys, or are you better saving your money on hot wings and root beer floats?

Hit the jump to check out the rest of the review, along with more photos of both figures!
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“Supremacy MMA” Video Game Review

“Supremacy MMA” is the only MMA game in existence with a bad reputation before anyone even tested it out. Made by 505 Games & Kung Fu Factory, the game advertised itself as “the gritty world of underground MMA fighting”, featuring “arcade style combat” and “MMA legends”. Trailers for the game featured brutal bone breaks and violent knockouts, all taking place in dank, concrete pits. Definitely did not look too much like the MMA I knew and loved.

Some fans refuse to even touch the game because “it’s bad for the sport”. When I first saw the trailer for this game, I was one of those people too. However, the more research I did the more I learned that this was far from your traditional MMA game, and was trying to be something else. I wanted to give this game a fair chance, and as you will see from my review, I absolutely did. So to you, my readers, I give you the most thorough and unbiased review of “Supremacy MMA” that you will find online, and you can decide if your mind is changed by the end of it… if it needs to be changed, that is.

Hit the jump for the full review of the “Supremacy MMA” video game!
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