SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review…Strawberry Shortcake “Sweet Beats Doll”

Why, SpartanNerd?  Why?  Why do you never cover girls toys?

Truthfully, because I didn’t play with them as a kid…I have a (nameless, shameless) brother who played with Barbie and My Little Pony as a kid.  Mostly to disrobe and pull the hair out.  (He had a problem with pulling his own hair out when he slept.  So my parents tried this with some success.)

I’ll admit to playing with some She-Ra with my girl cousins.

I really don’t have anything against girls toys, though.  I have been meaning to pick up a Monster High doll, which I find incredibly cool looking, but haven’t ever gotten around to it.  Instead, I am going to test the waters a little bit with Strawberry Shortcake.  She’s a good candidate because of her 1980’s nostalgia factor, for me anyways.  I also have a side project that I need a small doll for, and this item was perfect.

I remember just a little bit about Strawberry Shortcake.  It seems a lot of scented stickers and items like that were associated with her.  I don’t remember if she had a cartoon, though.

So here’s the box.

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Strawberry Shortcake came in this nice package.  There is a large blister on the front allowing you to see the different accessories.  The back shows off all three dolls in this line.  However, didn’t I see an African American one at Toys-R-Us?  (Incidentally, this is one of my cheapest toys, coming in at just over $11.00.)  (I just net-checked.  Evidently the African American character isn’t in the band, but exists.)

Removing the doll from the package, as well as the accessories…

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There is quite a strawberry smell here!  That smell is rubbing off on the SpartanNerd’s hands, though.  And I suspect it isn’t “baked in” the plastic, like say, the smell in MOTUC Stinkor or Moss Man.  This smell will likely fade with time.  And that’s sort of sad, really.  That is an “action feature” of this doll.  You can see in the picture above that Sweet Beats comes with a guitar, oversized sunglasses, a comb, a soft-goods jacket, and a wireless mic.

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The figure stands nicely on its own…that huge mop of hair causes a little bit of balance issues.  This doll has only five moving joints: two shoulders on ball joints, two legs with back-and-forth only, and a rotating head.

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Strawberry Shortcake’s skirt comes off, and surprise for the SpartanNerd, so do her shoes!  You can see that the figure has painted leggings and a painted on glitter top.  Sadly, where the skirt covers at the waistline is very unsightly paint-slop.  Actually, it almost looks like the torso was meant to be two pieces, and maybe have a waist-swivel.  If so, it was decided to glue these parts together.  (Later, I also found the hair-bow to be removable.)

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Here is Sweet Beats with all of her other accessories, besides the skirt.  The jacket was tough to put on…You have to move the arms to where they point straight back, then put one hand into a sleeve, and then the other, and then move the whole jacket up the arms to the torso, fix the arms back, and then fuss with it to make it look right.  I suppose good fine-motor skills work for little children.  Also for the SpartanNerd.  The guitar doesn’t have a removable strap, so in order to make Sweet Beats hold it, you have to put her feet into the strap and have the arms down by her side, then position the guitar how you want.  (Her head is too big to put it on over the top.)  Sweet beats can’t hold the guitar’s neck properly because she has no finger articulation or wrist articulation.  Still, it looks cute.  The mic stands on its own just fine.  Mine is just a little bent, like some plastic on toys does.  Still, it isn’t too bad.  Finally, for me, the glasses have to go.

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They cover her eyes, which I find to be one of the doll’s best features.  Those glasses would be great if they had some kind of lenses, or even if they were just frames that fit over the eyes.  That’s just my opinion, though.

Finally, the real feature of this doll.  The hair.

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That is quite a lot of hair!  I spent some time combing it and playing with it…you really can’t do much with it.  I tried making a pony tail or pigtails using rubber bands.  Either I’m too manly, or the doll’s hair isn’t that style-a-ble.  The hair is fun to play with though.  (And now I’m thinking I might need to stop.)

I mentioned I had a project, and the hair has to do with that…Maybe I will get better at working it if I mess with it some more.  Notable, you can’t see from my pictures, but right at her hairline is what appears to be a painted on headband.  I believe this to be a device for concealing where the roots begin.  Also, her scalp is painted red.  This is why there is no caucasian color shining through.  But I thought it a little disturbing the first time I realized it.

So what is the SpartanNerd’s rating of Strawberry Shortcake Sweet Beats Doll?

I found some good stuff and some bad stuff.  I’m not sure I can hold this doll up to the standards of most of the other toys I have reviewed.  Most of the stuff I review is for the collector’s market.

As a toy, Sweet Beats would be a great doll for a little girl to play with.  (Or boy…)  The hair is a big part of this toy.  The guitar and mic add great style.  And the ability to change its clothes and shoes with other dolls in the same line also adds to its play-ability.

The biggest problem was the jacket.  Not easy to put on or take off.  The paint is the second negative issue, with that strange situation at the waistline.  And last I suppose is that the smell will almost certainly fade with time.

But I believe this to be a good durable toy for the young child’s market.  I believe she could take a lot of abuse.  I tried removing the arms, legs, and head.  No luck there.  I pulled the hair some, and some did come out.  But not that easily.  It is meant to last a good while.

For now I am going to give this doll, the very first doll I have ever reviewed mind you, a 3/5.  There is no denying the cuteness of Strawberry Shortcake Sweet Beats.  But she isn’t that playable for someone over the age of, say nine-years-old.  She looks cute when posed in the limited posing you can get with her, and she has some customization options with the other dolls in the line with her.  And maybe even with other lines of dolls.  (I don’t know.)

SpartanNerd Rates Strawberry Shortcake Sweet Beats Doll 3/5.  Do you agree or disagree, oh Hub-City Geeks?  Let me know in the comments.  And if you want to see more “girls toys” reviews from the SpartanNerd, let me know as well!

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SpartanNerd Review…Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer.

I was taken aback.  I know.  Late to the party.  But I went to Den of Geek, looking for some news I hadn’t seen, and watched the trailer.

The Star Wars trailer was awesome.  And now this.  Looks like a movie season is upon the SpartanNerd and family!

First of all, I saw Man of Steel at an early showing.  It was good, but I haven’t watched it sense.  One thing I didn’t like, and many other fans as well, was that there was Transformers level of destruction to the city.  Superman wouldn’t do this.  He goes through hoops to keep his enemies from dying.  And how many innocent bystanders were in all of the buildings that were destroyed in Man of Steel?

The trailer begins with this problem…

A government official is talking about the problems that Superman has caused.

We see a scene of protesters holding signs not too unfamiliar to those who have read a lot of Superman comics.  “Superman is an Illegal Alien” etc.

Henry Cavil Superman is walking into a courtroom.  There are armed guards.  (like they could do anything?)

Next, with dramatic music, we see what looks like Superman using his laser-vision to bringing down a building.  Must be Gotham.  Ben Affleck Bruce Wayne is running and screaming “NO!”

We ultimately see him hugging a little girl in the middle of 911 style wreckage, and the camera pans away to where we can see the broken sign of Wayne Enterprises behind him, as the same government official’s voice begins talking about accountability.

We get a glimpse of Wayne Manor, which is a ruined building, and then the voice of Alfred (not sure of the actor) talking about Bruce’s need to avenge crime.  Bruce is holding a newspaper clip Wayne Tower’s destruction, with words written across in bold red,”YOU LET YOUR FAMILY DIE.”  This could only be the Jokers handwriting.

The trailer posits that this brings Batman “out of retirement, maybe?”  We see Bruce training, and then looking at his Batman suit.

The voice of the news chief begins talking about Batman being “A one man reign of terror.”  And how no one is interested in seeing Clark Kent take on Batman.  HILARIOUS!

We see lois talking to Clark, and then his mother.  Followed by a mysterious crowd of people, some with clown makeup on, trying to touch Superman.  This must be a Joker gang.  Why are they in awe of Superman, though?

There is a rocket explosion, a classic throwback to the 1980s.  And then Superman holding a piece of the rocket.

Halfway into the trailer there is a new character.  I believe it to be the actor who is the Joker from Suicide Squad leaks.  this guy is always talking about what is true and what is a lie, and using religious references.  It appears that he is a lawyer of some sort.  Big news for us Joker fans.  While his voice rings in our ears, we see Batmans suit graffittied with “HAHAH THE JOKE’S ON YOU BATMAN.”

Next Bruce begins talking about how “He has the power to wipe out the entire human race.”  This could be a reference to someone other than Superman, but the way the trailer edits it it adds to the tension that people see Superman as the enemy. Directly afterward, Batman is seen in Iron Man style armor, uncovering the Bat-Signal and beaming it into the sky.  The music reaches a peak, and the rain is beating down as the camera angles poetically.  We see his eyes lit up.

Right after that we see what must be Bruce remembering the death of his parents.  A jet flying in towards the city,  A woman wearing a backless dress, followed immediately with Wonder Woman doing some fighting.  Dawn of Justice.  We can only conjecture that as DC makes its Movie Universe, this is a big origin piece for the Justice League.

For some reason right after, we see Batman on a battlefield.  And soldiers are firing at him with a machine gun.  Not sure how this fits.  These soldiers have the Superman symbol on their sleeves.

We see some stuff exploding, and a picture of the Batmobile from behind.  This Batmobile is reminiscent of the Tumbler.

While Alfred tells Bruce that “Superman isn’t our enemy,” we see someone who must be Lex Luthor, but could be the Joker, (hard to tell) looking at a giant green boulder.  Kryptonite…DUH

While we hear the words “Black and Blue” from who I suppose is the Joker, Batman stomps Superman in his new Supermanbuster Armor.  The biggest question everyone has is of course, not that Batman can defeat Superman, but “how?” These images get our brains to working.

As we hear “God vs. Man” we see more action scenes of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman.

And the trailer ending with “The Redcapes are coming.”  Spoken by “The Joker.”  In a very tongue in cheek sort of way.  It has to be him.

The trailer ends under these words and some tension sounds as Superman postures towards the Batmobile as Batman stand on it as it burns.

SpartanNerd thoughts on the trailer….

WOW!

Where to start.

I think I will chew on this for awhile!

(NOTE-I was mistaken.  The villain pictured talking here is Lex Luther.  I never thought of him the way he is being presented.)

SpartanNerd and SpartanTeen Review…Neo Zeon Mobile Suit MSN-06S Sinanju “Ver-Ka” (Titanium Finish)

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Of all of the Gundams we have reviewed, the Sinanju is the most impressive.  In several ways.  This Gundam has a “titanium finish,” basically vac-metal plastic.  It makes it shine!  Combine this effect with the size of the figure at Master Grade 1/100 scale and the many accessories and even an additional stand, and you have an incredible item.  Above is the box.  And longtime readers know that the SpartanNerd really likes his foil!

This item cost $140, and we purchased the stand for an additional $20.  (The stand is usable with most if not all Gundams, but is detailed specifically for Sinanju Ver-Ka.)  This is a special edition, with the vac-metal.  The normal Ver-Ka would cost around $80.

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The box is almost entirely in Japanese.  As well as the instructions.  This is commonplace for basically every Gundam we have built.

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Above is the instructions for the decals and stickers.  The SpartanTeen used the regular sticker decals, rather than the water-slide decals.

I am going to show the Gundam in pieces, sort of.  There is so much here I had to “cull down” the amount of photos.

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The head really shows the small details.  The two “holes” on the side of the mask are meant to be vulcan cannons!  You can see the vac-metal and the plain gray plastic.  The crimson color goes well with the flat gray.  There is an eye detail that can’t really be seen because of the size and impressiveness of the rest of the head.

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Here is the backpack, showing all of its details in 3X faster mode.  (The legs also have details for “3x faster mode.”)  The backpack was the only truly “stupid problem.”  The backpack WOULD NOT attach to the figure as it was supposed to.  It works by a little slot mechanism that seemed to be obstructed by excessive plastic.  We solved the problem with some super-glue.  We checked other reviews of the figure, and found that ours seems to be an exception rather than the rule.

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Here the Sinanju stands, unarmed, and without his backpack.  It is very articulated.  The fingers all move like human fingers.  The arms move like a humans, the legs move like a humans.  It is a “super-articulated” design.  The shoulder armor and knee armor move to accommodate the most articulation.

The stickers are very much a foil item, and the Gundam doesn’t look right without those details.  All of the gold pictured here is a reflection of the flash of my camera!  That is how shiny it is!

The feet are on a rocker joint, and divided into toe and heel sections.

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The cockpit opens, revealing Char Aznable inside.  The cockpit is surrounded by yellow “psycho-frame” components.  The Gundam came with two different pilots.  One to stand beside on display, and one to stay in the cockpit.  The SpartanTeen (nor the SpartanNerd) can paint the tiny details required….We would if we could.  But that is a little out of our skill level at this point.

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Here are most of the accessories.  I say most, because, the Grenade Launcher/Shotgun wasn’t ready at the time of the review.  Notice the “beam-effect” parts.  These are interchangeable with the axe, and with the shield.

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You can see, this opens up an incredible array of display options!  The shield is very large and impressive.  The SpartanTeen doesn’t prefer the axe.  (This is more of a SpartanNerd thing.  See He-Man!)

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The beam saber isn’t a lightsaber at all.  The beam effect is detailed and rippled, rather than being a straight lazer sword.  It did come with two beam effects, we just wanted the readers to see the hilt disarmed as well as armed.

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The gun has expandable options as well.  The scope can move, and you can add parts from the shotgun/grenade launcher.  (Not pictured.)  Notable, the shield has a place to store the shotgun/grenade launcher.

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Here is the Sinanju standing on his own.  The backpack adds a lot of weight, causing some balance issue, but not much.  Notable, it was easy not to have the legs snapped all the way in.  They kept coming off until the SpartanTeen figured out how to fully snap them in.  (Sorry, the lighting system took accidental damage, and so this picture and all the rest are using flash only

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Here is the Sinanju holding the shield an on his custom stand.  The stand is a separate item, and will be reviewed later.  But the stand is the perfect way to display this incredible investment.

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As we have done in the past, we are now going to give this Gundam a grade!

Here is our criteria, each item getting a score.  We would like to say ahead of time, this Gundam is almost perfect!

Each item gets a score…
1 Too wrong
2 not right enough
3 could be better
4 pretty good, but…
5 perfect
Construction
Was it difficult considering the level it is supposed to be?  4
Stupid problems?   3  (cables around the legs, and backpack had to be glued.)
Instructions easy to read?  5
Diagrams clear?   5
Stickers? Paint    5
Articulation
stands easily?    5
moves without falling apart    5
posable/interchangeable hands    5
lots of articulation points     5
Dynamic poses    5
Accessories
Weapons     5
holds weapons/appropriate weapons      4  (some problem holding the gun and shields.)
Stand   5  (available as a separate item.)
expansions    5  (see above)
Weapon storage   5
playability
durable     4
photogenic    5
holds weapons?    5
Reasonable Facimile to media representation    5
Aesthetics    5   (that shiny plastic is incredible!)
Figure-specific features
morph/ transform/ change form    5
action feature    3
LED lights   1
Diarama     5
Pilot included?  Does he fit in the cockpit or is he in scale or not.    5
To tabulate the score, we add up all of the values, and then come up with an average.
The SpartanTeen and SpartanNerd Gundam Evaluation Checklist says that the Sinanju receives a 4.92.  So far the only Gundam coming in higher is Char’s Zaku II-S (2.0), which had a score of 5.2.
What do you think?  Leave us some feedback in the comments!

SpartanNerd Project…Earl Norem Poses

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I had this crazy idea.  Really more of a dream.  I could get each person who is interviewed in the Masters of the Universe Art Book  to sign their article.  Or maybe a piece of art.  I know it never would happen…I am not a well traveled person.  But it was a fine thought.

But not soon after the book was published, one of the greatest artists of Masters of the Universe passed away.  Earl Norem.  I wrote my thoughts right here on the SpartanNerd Blog.  (Link)

To help illustrate my love for Norem’s work, I thought I would attempt to emulate it with the incredible Masters of the Universe Classics figures.  So here is my attempt at “The Sunbird Legacy.”

A few Caveats have to apply.

  • The figures have one expression.  Some have alternate heads.  But you still have a limitation.
  • The hair can be wrong.
  • Norem didn’t always paint the weapons the same way.
  • I don’t have the diorama piece.  As this stuff becomes more available to me, I will see about photographing some of it.

I chose this picture because I thought it was one of the most do-able.  My favorite is the one with He-Man on a lion and Skeletor leading an elephant army, with the space battle among the meteors a close second.  But you’ll see.

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I tried the Snake Armor He-Man head.  But it doesn’t look as good as the original.  In the picture, Skeletor’s sword is more of a scimitar.  The closest I had available is Draego Man’s sword.  The Havoc Staff is bigger than the one in the painting.  This proves to be the biggest problem.  I felt like the pose above was too…boring.  Not capturing the motion of Norem’s work.

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This photo is closer to Earl Norem.  Still not perfect.  It is really hard to get Skeletor to balance like this.  If you look at the Norem at length…(as I have,) you can see that He-Man and Skeletor have very parallel hips.  He-Man’s figure can’t quite stress his head back or hold his shield at quite the same angle, and still keep balance.  (He-Man has weak ankles.)

The colors are pretty good.  The white background is about as good as I could do.  I applied a filter to mute it a little.

So, Hub City Geeks.  What do you think about my new venture?  Can you do better?  Send me your pics, and let me know in the comments!

SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review…”Boss Monster 2″

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The SpartanNerd’s continual fascination with 2-D graphics led him to purchase “Boss Monster.”  I never posted a review of the game, but I will go ahead and tell you that I give it about a 4/5.  Taking away a point because the game tends to be sort of short.

“Boss Monster 2” is a follow up “stand-alone expansion.”

(I suppose you can mix this game with the first iteration.)

But before any of that, many readers are wondering what this game is all  about in the first place!

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Boss Monster and Boss Monster 2 are a card game.  Not an NES or Sega Genesis game.  It takes design cues from that mid eighties to mid nineties aesthetic.  For someone like me, it is a breath of fresh air.  Kind of like “Terraria.”

The point of the game…it is a little backwards.  (Maybe.)  You are the boss monster.  You build your dungeon.  And then try and lure heroes to come attack you.  So you can kill them with your base.

The game begins with five different decks.  Everyone uses the same five decks.

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Like “Magic, the Gathering” you have Instant and Sorcery type of spell cards that help you along the way.  Some bosses and some rooms lend themselves more to the use of the spells, while others are just interested in presenting physical danger to each hero who dares come in.

Each turn, players “build a room.”  Everyone reveals their room.  There is “treasure” in each room indicated by icons.  the treasure types are Ankh, Money Bag, Spell Book, and Sword.  The same sort of things the main character of 1980’s types of video games would go after.  If you have the most of that certain type of treasure, heroes revealed from the top of the Hero deck with he same icon will come into your dungeon.  Each room deals damage.  Some rooms have trap abilities.  If the hero comes through, then your boss character takes a wound.  (Five wounds will kill him/her/it.)  If by chance a hero dies in your dungeon, you collect a soul.  (Ten souls wins the game.)

The game gets more intense the longer it goes, leveling up to “Epic Heros” who deal more damage.

Here is a picture of the quick guide to playing.

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Boss Monster 2 plays exactly like the original.  There are a few improvements.  More bosses.  Twelve to be exact.  Each one reminds you of some game boss from the past.  (Angstigoth, for example, with one wing sticking up.  Clearly an homage to Sephiroth.)  After you build your fifth room, each boss gets a boost of some sort.  They “level up.”

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Regular Heros.  It is brilliant how much personality the game designers were able to give these guys.  In addition to their name, they each have flavor text.  And their retro artwork is also really

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And hero and cards with the same name get different artwork.

There are epic heroes, of course.

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And this time, specialized epic heroes.  I think they show the nature that this game is a sequel.  Some of the art reflects old school sequels, as well.

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These heroes are more specific in nature.  Each one is looking for more than one type of treasure.

The rooms you can build…Here is a picture of each one.  Some of them have identical artwork to other copies.  Others have alternate art.  Adding flavor, and giving the game more of a sense of action.

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The spells…some are meant for anytime.  Others only during “combat.”  The spell card art is generally hilarious.  Some alternate copies have alternate art.  (Lightning Bolt comes to mind.  One card shows a hero getting zapped.  The other shows the same, but with his skeleton showing through x-ray style.)

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Checkout the art from “Shortcut.”  Highly reminiscent of the warp zones on Super Mario 2!

SpartanNerd’s rating of Boss Monster 2.

I can only give it a 5/5!  This game was already fun and oozing with flavor.  Now, even more!

SpartanNerd and SpartanKid Unboxing and Review…D-Arts Vile

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D-Arts Vile is the first villain for Mega-Man X that we have at the SpartanNerd household.  How do I know he is a villain?  Who’s name is “Vile?”

Vile comes in this nice window box.  I am going to apologize up front about some of the pictures in this review.  It seems my lights have gone out for the light box.  Here is the item photographed on the kitchen table.

The box shows the figure nicely, and the side is similar to the other D-Arts figures we have opened.

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The parts all come in this nice blister.

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Here are some of the accessories.

You get alternate hands.  Cannons for the back.  Different barrel ends for the guns.  Chain gun ammunition.  Knee guns (not pictured), and What??  Some kind of beverage!

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Not really sure how this works, since he doesn’t have a mouth…at least he doesn’t have an alternate face or removable helmet.

The SpartanKid thinks this during must be Coke.  I think sweet tea, though.  It is a detailed piece, with ice cubes.  You can remove the contents to have an empty cup as well.

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The figure has excellent articulation.  He has movable wrists, elbows on a hinge, biceps swivels, ball jointed shoulders, a ball jointed head.articulated torso, moving waist, ball jointed hips, double jointed knees, and ball jointed feet.

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Vile looks menacing with the double guns attached to his backpack.  SpartanKid says that only rarely is Vile seen with both guns armed in the video games.  (Maybe even never.)

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The knee gun is an interesting feature.  The SpartanNerd would like to say that it was very difficult to achieve.  Mostly because the gold ring around the upper part of the figures boot doesn’t want to let go, and is necessary to put the knee gun on properly.  In fact, it was highly frustrating, and will be rarely done.

Following are a few action poses versus other figures in the D-Arts line, so you can compare.

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SpartanKid has a few statements to make about this figure…

“The guns are pretty detailed and an essential accessory for this figure, for he’s never seen without one of his precious cannons.”

“He looks pretty cool without the shoulder pads, because it appears as if he’s been fighting for awhile, and they got knocked off.”

“His feet are different, made for flying.  I like that they made them different.”

“The blue backpack on his back were originally used for flight until he was upgraded with feet thrusters  (Mega-Man X-3)”

SpartaNerd Rating of D-Arts “Vile” is 4/5.  The figure is well articulated and beautifully painted and detailed.  It comes with lots of accessories.  However, there is a little problem with changing the knee guns.