On Sale This Week: Mr. Fusion, Dragon Age and Buddy Christ!

It’s another big week for Diamond Select Toys at your local comic shop, as eight new items are shipping to stores! Not only are there new Minimates from Dragon Age, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Classic X-Men comics, there are new busts from Sin City and the Batman Classic TV Series, a plush Buddy Christ, a Godzilla pizza cutter and our long-awaited Mr. Fusion prop replica! There’s something for every collector and every fan in stores this week from DST! Find your nearest comic shop at comicshoplocator.com, or order at diamondselecttoys.com!

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Back to the Future 2 Mr. Fusion Electronic Prop Replica
A Diamond Select Toys Release! It’s almost 2015, which means we’re only months away from inventing Mr. Fusion, the device that turns garbage into energy! Arguably the biggest technological leap between the 1985 we saw in Back to the Future and the 2015 we saw in Back to the Future II, the Mr. Fusion Home Energy Reactor is now a realistically scaled 18″ electronic replica from Diamond Select Toys, complete with a sound effect to let you know that the sealed processing unit has been opened and is ready to process household waste into 1.21 gigawatts of energy! Runs on included batteries. (Item #OCT142188, SRP: $399.99)

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Batman Classic TV Series Penguin Resin Bust
A Diamond Select Toys release! Batman’s rogues gallery continues to grow as the Penguin joins the Riddler and the Joker in DST’s line of busts based on the Batman Classic TV Series! This 6-inch-tall resin bust captures Burgess Meredith as fowl fiend, wielding a deadly umbrella and an equally deadly sneer. Bust sits atop a colorful base inspired by the show’s animated opening credits, and comes packaged in a full-color box. Designed by Barry Bradfield! Sculpted by Jean St. Jean!

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(Item #DEC142214, SRP: $59.99)
Dragon Age Minimates Series 1 Box Set
A Diamond Select Toys release! On your next Dragon Age quest, why not keep your companions in your pocket? The legendary video game series kicks off an epic line of Minimates with this debut four-pack featuring the Grey Warden Alistair; the bard, Leliana; dwarf rogue Varric Tethras (with Bianca); and Morrigan, Witch of the Wilds. Each 2-inch Minimate mini-figure features 10-14 points of articulation and interchangeable parts. Packaged on a blister card. (Item #DEC142215, SRP: $19.99)

 
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Godzilla 2000 Sculpted Pizza Cutter
A Diamond Select Toys release! Destroy all toppings! A monstrous hunger requires a monstrous slice, and you can cut yourself off a big one with this palm-sized pizza cutter featuring the sculpted face of Godzilla, King of the Monsters. Based on his appearance in “Godzilla 2000,” this menacing utensil will cut a path through a deep-dish pie like Godilla cuts a path through Tokyo! Packaged in a full-color box. (Item #DEC142216, SRP: $14.99)

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A Diamond Select Toys release! For a movie as big as “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” one assortment is not enough! This colorful countertop display holds 18 individually blind-bagged Minimates based on the movie, including multiple types of Ultrons, Iron Man’s Iron Legion, plus one-per-case Minimates of Baron Strucker and Nick Fury! Every bag contains one 2-inch Minimate mini-figure, featuring 14 points of articulation and interchangeable parts. (Item #DEC142220, SRP: $5.99/ea.)

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A Diamond Select Release! Some of the X-Men’s most memorable costumes and memorable foes return in this all-new assortment of Marvel Minimates! Exclusively available through Previews, this assortment has the X-Men’s Strike Force team (as seen in Uncanny X-Men #275) take on that era’s Brotherhood of Mutants, a.k.a. Freedom Force! Plus each two pack of 2-inch Minimates includes bonus parts to create an alternate X-Men character! The two-packs include Wolverine (with Forge parts) vs. Blob, Banshee (with Gambit parts) vs. Pyro, Storm (with Psylocke parts) vs. Avalanche, and a short-packed, one-per-case two-pack of Jubilee vs. Destiny! Each two-pack is packaged in a full-color window box. Designed by Art Asylum!  (Item #NOV142181, SRP: $9.99/two-pack)

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A Diamond Select Toys release! From the films of Kevin Smith, it’s the most marketable religious icon of all! Buddy Christ is a friend who is always willing to hear your problems, and now he’s also super-cuddly! This 8″ tall plush doll features finely stitched details, is made out of soft plush material, and will fit anywhere you want him to go, including your backpack. Wherever you go, he’s gonna go! Comes packaged in a clear polybag. (Item #OCT142187, SRP: $19.99)
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A Diamond Select Toys release! Sin City is no place for the soft or weak. Luckily, Marv is as hard as they come! We made this collectible 6″ bust of Marv out of high-quality resin, so he and his gun Gladys will blend into your bust collection, no matter how tough a crowd it is. Set into a rocky base, he’ll stand guard on your shelf. your desk or even the bar at Kadie’s Club Pecos! Sculpted by Jean St. Jean. Limited to 1,000 pieces. Comes packaged in a full-color box. (Item #NOV142178, SRP: $59.99)

 

Avengers vs X-Men round 2

The massive Avengers vs. X-Men crossover in Marvel Comics may be over (it was a tie!), but the fallout from the conflict continues… in the form of new toys! Phoenix Killer Iron Man, the Scarlet Witch and Protector take on Phoenix Five leader Cyclops in Diamond Select’s new, fan-voted Marvel Minimates AvX box set, and it’s recently been spotted in Toys “R” Us stores! Each Minimate is 2 inches tall with 14 points of articulation, and with plenty of interchangeable parts and accessories. And Iron Man’s bulky armor has a more streamlined Iron Man underneath! Check out the packaged shots below, and look for it to show up on toysrus.com in the not-too-distant future!

Get regular DST updates on Facebook and Twitter!

 

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Avengers vs X-Men Minimates

A few months ago, Diamond Select Toys asked you to vote on the next exclusive box set of Marvel Minimates for Toys “R” Us, based on the blockbuster Avengers vs. X-Men crossover event. The poll pitted three Avengers against three members of the Phoenix Five, with dominance of the box set hanging in the balance. Well, now the results are in!

The Avengers were the clear winners, with Phoenix Buster Iron Man, the Scarlet Witch and Protector taking three of the four spots in the set, with the remaining slot filled by Phoenix Five leader Cyclops! Plus, Iron Man’s armor will open up to reveal a more bare-bones Iron Man Minimate inside! Phoenix Five Emma Frost and Colossus may not have made the cut this time around, but don’t count them out yet –they’ve both cheated death more than once.

Check out the figures below, and look for the set in Toys “R” Us stores (and at toysrus.com) this holiday season!

Get regular DST updates on Facebook and Twitter!

 

 

Review: Avengers Vs. X-Men # 1

By Edward Gambichler  (Follow Ed on Twitter @EFG72)

 

As we come to the end of March and the beginning of April, we close the door on Winter and open the door to Spring. And although April showers bring May flowers, it also brings with it this season’s most highly anticipated comic book events: “Avengers Vs. X-Men”. The plot centers around the return to Earth of one of the most powerful and destructive forces in the Marvel Universe, the Phoenix Force. This alien entity, which holds both the power of Death and Rebirth, cuts a swath of devastation through entire worlds and galaxies until it finds a host it feels a kinship with. One of its former hosts was the late Jean Grey, a former member of the mutant superhero team X-Men and the wife of its leader Scott Summers, Codename: Cyclops.

 

When issue # 1 opens, most of the X-Men have settled on the remains of the mutant Magneto’s former base of operations, Asteroid M. This island, off the coast of San Francisco and rechristened by Cyclops as “Utopia”, serves as a haven for the mutant population. As a result of the fallout from the House of M ( specifically the actions of the mutant Scarlet Witch ), the majority of the mutant species have been stripped of their powers. Among the remaining “one percent” is Hope, a mutant with the ability to mimic and manipulate the X-Factor gene responsible for mutation. There are some, like Cyclops, who believe that Hope is a “mutant Messiah” ( since she was the first mutant born after the decimation ) and may have the potential to save the mutant race. There are , however, those who doubt this prophecy and see her as a potential threat. She has also, in the past, shown signs of having manifested the Phoenix force. With the imminent arrival of the Phoenix entity, this makes Hope it’s targeted host. This possibility doesn’t escape the Avengers, in particular Captain America, and they fly to Utopia with the intention of taking Hope into protective custody. Cyclops, however, has been training Hope in order for her to be able to harness the Phoenix entity and wield its power (in the hopes of restoring the depowered mutant population to its former glory ). Sensing Captain America will not leave without Hope, Cyclops hits him with an optic blast from his visor, thereby firing the opening salvo in the two teams inevitable conflict.

 

First off, the artwork. You cannot ask for a better penciller than John Romita Jr. There are few artists that can fill a panel with as much information and not let their pencil lines overpower and confuse the action for the reader. As much as I am impressed by Jim Lee’s draftsmanship, there are times where I would like to just take in the art without having to unconsciously have my eyes focused on every button on a suit or every rivet on a ship or a weapon. Sometimes less IS more and it is the better for it. In this issue, Romita is inked by Scott Hanna instead of longtime collaborator Klaus Janson. And tho Hanna’s inking style is well suited for Romita’s pencil, I would have liked to see Hanna experiment with a different style of inking such as cross-hatching or feathering.

 

The one thing I have against the start of this series is that I expected to be more conflicted on whose agenda I would agree with. As hard as I tried I could not understand Cyclop’s reasoning behind his stance. This is a man who has a history with the Phoenix entity and it has been responsible for a great deal of the tragedy that has defined his Life. How he can think the Phoenix force can be harnessed and used for good is beyond me. The only thing that would make sense to me is that he’s become unhinged due to the decimation of most of the mutant population. Also on the cover, I see Namor fighting on the X-Men’s side. Although Namor is the first mutant in the Marvel Universe, he has always been defined as a loner and only had allegiance towards his city of Atlantis. As far as I’m concerned, that’s what made him such an interesting character. True, Utopia was intended to be a half mutant/ half Atlantean retreat…..how he can’t see through the folly that is Cyclop’s agenda for the Phoenix is a mystery. This applies as well to Magneto and the rest of the X-Men who are fully aware of the threat of the Phoenix force. How the writers can have them blindly follow Scott Summers on this path is an insult to the intelligence of the characters as well as the reader’s who have to buy this scenario. Hopefully the next issues will rectify the plausibility of the storyline.

X-Men: First Class Review

By Edward Gambichler

 

“My friend….killing will not bring you peace” –  Charles Xavier ( Professor X )

“…Peace was never an option….- Erik Lensherr ( Magneto )

 

Comic books ( like History ) are usually divided into “Ages”: There is the “Golden Age” and the “Silver Age”. For DC Comics, the Golden Age ( spanning the late 1930’s to early 1950’s ) saw the introduction of icons such as Superman, Batman, the original Flash, the original Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman whereas for Timely Comics ( later known as Marvel Comics ) it was Namor the Sub-Mariner, the original Human Torch, and Captain America. It was in the Silver Age ( spanning the early 1950’s to the early 1970’s ) where Marvel Comics introduced its icons to the medium. These characters were Spider-man, the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Dr. Strange, Daredevil and the Avengers. And, finally ( in what would grow to become one of Marvel’s most popular titles )…….the X-Men.  And with that popularity came the inevitable screen adaptation in the form of a 2000 film directed by Bryan Singer ( The Usual Suspects, Apt Pupil, as well as DC’s Superman Returns ). It told the story of a school comprised of “mutants” , individuals born with an extra chromosome that manifests itself as superhuman abilities. This institution for “gifted” children was founded by a man named Professor Charles Xavier, codename Professor X ( played by Shakespearean actor Patrick Stewart ).  Xavier ( a mutant himself whose “X-factor” gene gives him enormous powers of telepathy ) brings together these students to teach them how to cope with their special gifts and to try to mold them into becoming productive members of a society that has grown to fear them as the next stage of evolution. The school is also home to the school’s former students now senior faculty members, a highly trained combat unit known as the “X-Men”. Their function is to deal with renegade mutants ( as well as fear-driven homo sapiens ) who are bent on being the dominant species on the planet. The most dangerous of these mutant terrorists is a former Holocaust survivor named Erik Lensherr, codename Magneto ( played in the first movie by Sir Ian McKellan ). Xavier’s former best friend, Magneto is a being who holds absolute magnetic power over anything metal. In order to further his vision of a “homo superior” only utopia, he recruits mutants for his group the “Brotherhood”. The film spawned two other sequels as well as a standalone movie, a prequel, centering around the origin of the X-Men’s most popular member, Wolverine ( played by Australian actor Hugh Jackman, making his American debut in the first X-Men film ).

And now, 11 years later , 20 Century Fox continues the series by going the prequel route again with X-Men: First Class. Directed by Matthew Vaughn ( Layer Cake, Kick Ass ), the film focuses on the events that led to the formation of Xavier’s school, the first meeting and close friendship between Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr, and finally, the fallout between them that set in motion their violent “war of ideologies” depicted in the previous trilogy. In an inspired move, the film begins with a shot for shot remake of the first scene in the first film ( set in a WWII German concentration camp ). A young Erik Lensherr is taken into custody by Nazi prison guards, after lashing out and using his magnetic powers against the soldiers for separating him from his parents. He is brought before the camp’s chief scientist, Dr. Schmidt, who orders him to demonstrate his power. When young Lensherr is unable to repeat his previous display, Schmidt executes the boy’s mother right in front of him. This tragic moment serves as a catalyst and Lensherr unleashes a devastating wave of magnetic energy ( causing everything metal in the doctor’s office to implode ). Meanwhile, a young Charles Xavier is awakened to a noise coming from downstairs in the kitchen of his family mansion in New York. He sees before him his own mother, but realizes it is really not her ( due to his telepathic powers ). The impostor turns out to be a young blue skinned girl named Raven Darkholme ( codename Mystique, Magneto’s right hand woman in the first film ), whose mutant ability is to mimic the appearance of other people. Charles, overjoyed at realizing that he is not the only one in the world that is “special”, invites the homeless girl to live with him in the mansion.

The story picks up more than a decade later in Las Vegas, where C.I.A. agent Moira MacTaggert ( played by actress Rose Byrne ) has infiltrated the exclusive “Hellfire Club”. She and the Agency are surveilling a U.S. Army Colonel who is about to do a deal to with the club’s leader Sebastian Shaw ( who is secretly a mutant with the power to absorb kinetic energy and be strengthened by it ), to install U.S. missiles in Turkey. Shaw’s intention is to make the “Cold War” between the U.S. and Russia even hotter and to compel Russia to invade Cuba, setting the stage for a nuclear conflict between the two superpowers ( one that Shaw believes only mutants will survive ). MacTaggert is stunned when she witnesses one of Shaw’s associates Azazel “teleport” the Colonel out of the room ( and back to Washington ). Not knowing anything about mutants, MacTaggert travels to Oxford, England to recruit Charles Xavier ( who is living with Raven and has just completed his doctorate on Genetics ). Surprised to find out that both he and Raven are mutants, the C.I.A. enlists his help in dealing with Sebastian Shaw. While attempting to raid Shaw’s private yacht with a covert C.I.A. strike team, Xavier ‘s telepathic attack is blocked by Emma Frost, another of Shaw’s associates, who is a telepath herself. They are also hindered by another one of Shaw’s team, Riptide ( whose mutant powers to create destructive whirlwinds almost capsizes the C.I.A. battleship ). This diversion allows Shaw and the rest to escape in a secret submarine. Unbeknownst to Xavier and the C.I.A., Erik Lensherr arrives to try and take out Shaw himself. Lensherr has devoted most of his life hunting down and killing former Nazis to avenge the death of his family. Shaw, as it turns out, was actually Dr. Schmidt ( the former chief of the concentration camp and murderer of Lensherr’s mother ) and he’s at the top of Lensherr’s death list. Before Lensherr can drown trying to hold on to the submarine with his magnetic power, Xavier persuades him to let go. Realizing that he and the C.I.A. are outgunned by the Hellfire Club, Xavier persuades the top brass at the Pentagon to allow him to recruit and train other mutants at his mansion for his own strike team against the evil mutants ( before Shaw’s plans lead to nuclear Armageddon…..and the extinction of homo sapiens is an absolute certainty ).

To be honest, when I heard they were making this film I was not that excited. I felt with the first X-Men trilogy, that they had mined enough material to satisfy the title’s fans and that they should concentrate on other Marvel properties. However, sometimes what is needed is not a step forward, but a step back. And with that, the film-makers have given us an origin story that not only makes the material fresh but it is, dare I say, one of the “truest” Marvel adaptations I have seen. Many of Marvel’s properties have been given a modern update and set in today’s 21st Century ( with the exception being the upcoming “Captain America: First Avenger” in July ). However, the Marvel lineup was “born” in the Silver Age or 1960’s. With the production design, costuming, and historical setting of the Cuban Missile Crisis reflecting the time period, this is the first Marvel adaptation to give us the “feel” of the Marvel Age. The epic scope of the film and the emphasis on global events bring to mind the James Bond films from the Connery era. I couldn’t help but think of the artist Jim Steranko’s work on Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. , when looking at some of the film’s sets  and character’s Mod style of dress. And finally, the wardrobe department actually found a way to give the X-Men’s uniforms the “yellow” the original team in the comics wore ( a color that was derided in Singer’s adaptation, which emphasized black leather ).

What really makes this film come alive though, ultimately, is the performances by the principal actors. James MacAvoy ( Atonement, Wanted ) gives a compassionate performance that evokes the character Patrick Stewart had established before. However, MacAvoy makes it his own by instilling the character with a youthful charm and exuberance. Fans of the comic wouldn’t confuse a drunken college student Xavier ( using his power to pick up women in bars ), with the serious high-minded academic Stewart gave us. On the other end of the spectrum, actor Michael Fassbender ( Hunger, Inglourious Basterds ) gives us a tortured portrait of the man whose pain and hatred of homo sapiens will one day put him in direct conflict with the only friend he’s ever had in his life. However, the standout in this film is newcomer Jennifer Lawrence ( last year’s Best Actress Academy Award nominee for Winter Bone and star of the upcoming Hunger Games ) as the future Mystique. Another inspired move by the film-makers is the retconning of a sibling relationship between her and Xavier ( one that she wishes were romantic ) and which makes her defection to Magneto’s camp that more tragic. Lawrence conveys the nuanced emotions needed to portray the lightning rod that ignites the ideological war between the two men.

Not every scene in the movie is played to dramatic effect. Look for a hilarious cameo during the scenes where Xavier and Lensherr recruit mutants for their combat unit. Also, another cameo that gives a sly wink to Raven’s future. And, if die hard comic fans are watching, look for a scene near the end of the movie that gives a slight nod to the ending of Superman II (1980).

 

For every story that centers on good versus evil, there has to be a great hero….and an equally great villain. And Kevin Bacon ( Mystic River, A Few Good Men, Apollo 13 ), in the role of Sebastian Shaw, does not disappoint. In one chilling scene, the Hellfire Club raids the C.I.A. compound, housing Xavier’s students and go about systematically killing off several of their C.I.A. handlers one by one. Shaw offers his own brand of violently persuasive “recruitment” and this scene is one, if not, THE best in the movie. The full threat of the Hellfire Club and the power that they are up against, hit the young mutants like a spike through the heart. Bacon’s performance makes that threat even more palpable and any illusions held by this “first class” that they are a match for the Hellfire Club quickly evaporate. The look of abject fear on the faces of the actors playing the young, untested mutants is classic. In my opinion, this is the best film of the X-Men franchise and I hope it will not be the last with this cast and production team.

Marvel Unveils I AM CAPTAIN AMERICA Variants

This June and July, celebrate the release of Marvel Studios’ anticipated summer blockbusterCaptain America: The First Avenger with the I Am Captain America series of variant covers! Featuring all-new artwork from a superstar cast of comics’ greatest creators – including Marvel’s own Chief Creative Officer, Joe Quesada, Marko Djurdjevic, Alex Maleev, Skottie Young, and Ed McGuiness! These I Am Captain America variant covers honor real world American heroes of every creed and calling that would be sure to make Steve Rogers himself proud.