Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Glitterati

Beware Pink Kryptonite!

It makes you FABULOUS!

Lex Luthor found out the hard way when he discovered the rare substance...

and it transformed him into a sequin clad glam gangster.

I suppose the pink love is no surprise, Lex has always had a special place in his heart for Superman, even going so far to have Superman's baby...

In truth, these mods were made by my wife, who wanted a super shiny bedazzled fighting force.

Legion of Superman Lovers Roll Call:

LOIS LANE: Superwoman

Lois is rocking fabulous red glitter boots and gloves by Gucci.

LUCY LANE: Superwoman

The general's daughter sports a fabulous cape-hoodie
combo with bright purple bejeweled accents.


The classic Kryptonian fights crime in a pink spangled cape


Knee-high boots and shiny unitard accent her purple lightning


fighting crime never looked so good!

As a 600 point HeroClix fighting force the team has some synergy with Lucy and Supergirl providing a strong initial assault, with Lex and Lois coming into play late game. The Annony-missus is 2-1 with this team in competitive play, and lost one friendly game where (I kid you not) this team was beaten by Ambush Bug.

But that's a whale of a tale best served for another time...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Quick Change! The Dolphin Symbol

I'm calling for a minor rules tweak that I think is in order regarding the Dolphin movement symbol, most commonly referred to as "swimming."

Figures that possess this combat ability are meant to represent strong swimmers, underwater breathers, and otherwise masters of their deep domain. Unfortunately to date the only thing the ability does is not hinder them in water.

It's a little ability to be sure, and those without it are forced to slog through puddles and ponds at the same rate as someone trampling through the underbrush. From that perspective the flipper speed subtype doesn't seem like much of a selling point because as written normal boot movement characters move through water with relative ease.

As a further insult to the aquatic acrobats the water terrain on maps is few and far between unless it is the major feature of a map. I'd like to suggest a possible change or two given the nature of what the speed type is supposed to represent.

For starters, I'd like to let all dolphin speed symbol characters break away for free from non-dolphin speed symbol characters, but only (you guessed it) when they occupy water. Someone like Robin shouldn't be able to tie up Namor or Aquaman in their own element... not while trying to tread water anyway.

Likewise Tiger Shark or Attuma should be able to dive below Hawkeye if not just backstroke past him with ease while he struggles to hold his bow and stay afloat. The purpose of the Dolphin symbol is to be able to swim circles around opponents, and this change helps them do just that.

This tweak gives a little more advantage to swimmers without being completely game breaking. I'd go further to suggest that Dolphin Speed Symbol characters can treat water terrain as hindering terrain for Line of Fire purposes, though that might be too much for players to fathom.

Hopefully the next starter set will make a Quick Change to the Dolphin symbol, effectively giving it a new porpoise.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Fantastic Neighborhood Spider-Man

WizKids previewed the Alternate F4 flavored Spider-Man yesterday and the complaints started ringing in so fast you'd think the Daily Bugle's editor was running another smear campaign. "Weak Sauce," they said. "F4, or F-Fail" fans cried. Is this figure *really* as bad as they say, or is it just that fans were hoping for more?

Take a look:

The Incredible Hulk expansion's version of Spider-Man is certainly not under-powered. Top dial, while holding a standard heavy object and with proper positioning Spidey can dish out 6 damage with a 12 attack (!) rebuffing the weak sauce comments. Under the right circumstances Spidey can retain that 12 attack for two more clicks.

Even without surprising foes from below or distracting them with witty banter Spidey has very solid attack values retaining a 10 for most of his dial before dropping to 9 on his last two clicks.

Damage values are what you'd expect from the wall crawler - he's capable of feats of Super Strength but doesn't rely on it in the way a Hulk dial has the green attack power the whole dial. Instead Peter has other tricks - with Incapacitate and two targets. Not exactly a failure.

Defensively Spider-Man's got his trademark Spidey (Super) Senses topping at 18 on his second click. The evasion power also helps activate his special banter power. Combat Reflexes rounds out the dial keeping him safe when he's up close and personal. He doesn't have the 50/50 trait of Common Spider-Man from "Web," but he's far from awful.

Perhaps his best feature is the Fantastic Four TA/Spider-Man Ally TA combo that will let him play well with other members of the new FF copying Ghost Rider's Mystic Ability, or borrowing the X-men team ability found among FF members like Storm or Wolverine.

The #38 Spider-Man has also been bashed for its Super Rare status. While the fact that Peter may be harder to find is a downer for his fans, this is a Hulk set after all. Because Spider-Man had a good showing in his own set last year there's probably a good chance that an equal number of Hulk fans would complain if the figure were of a lesser rarity.

This is a Spider-Man pulled from a very specific story - the replacement Fantastic Four from the early 90's (FF#347). He's not meant to be a definitive version, evidenced if not from the limited keywords then by the fact that the sculpt features him clinging to the side of the Baxter Building.

Frustrated critics are more likely upset that this Spider-Man doesn't do everything that they WANT it to do - be highly mobile with move and attack, and better defenses.

It's okay to hate on Spidey though, he's used to it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Marvel: What If? - part 2, of what might have been

Continuing from my post on what could have been with DC HeroClix, today I'm looking into the Marvel sandbox to scrounge for burried toys.

First up we have a story of a figure that almost wasn't. This photo of Captain America which has floated around since around the time Supernova was released.

The notorious "Smokey Foot" Cap was pictured on a promotional poster for the Avengers set, and never seen again until Hammer of Thor. In the mean time fans were treated to this monstrosity:

Better known as "Potato Head Cap" this figure was sculpted by the controversial Lukas Little who was often slammed on forums for his bulky looking figures with oversized heads and hands (see also Alan Scott and Martian Manhunter from Origins, Grodd and Johnny Sorrow from Arkham).

"Smokey" was a controversial figure, rumored to be sitting on Brand Manager Mark Tuttle's desk but never released, speculation abounded as to why the figure never saw the light of day. Some sources suggest occasionally a figure was made at the behest of a WK employee with no intention of producing it in the mass market. I guess when you have the keys to the kingdom you can do that sort of thing.

As far as other sculpts commissioned but never released go: Mutations and Monsters was released in the fall of 2007, but the spoilers leading up to the set had it initially named "Gods and Monsters." The "Gods" portion was dropped in favor of more merry mutants (and likely most of the grist of 'gods was saved for Hammer of Thor).

Here's a few that we might have seen under Topps run WizKids as pulled from sculptor's websites.

Exhibit A.) Eternals

Ikaris Done for Wizkids during the Topps ownership. 2007. This was another one where the head and hands had to be oversized. - James Van Shaik, sculptor

An Eternals subset would have made a lot of sense given the Neil Gaimen miniseries which ran from June 2006 to February 2007. Interesting side comment about the head and hands, which sheds some light on Lukas Little's sculpts. Also, in the Kirby vein...

Exhibit B: Medusa

If the Inhumans weren't slated for Mutations and Monsters they fight have followed in Secret Invasion. With its Fantastic Four subset, this would have been a perfect time to include the Inhuman Queen.

Exhibit C: Phoenix

Phoenix 34mm Done for Wizkids during the Topps ownership 2007/2008. - JVS

Another red-head that's both monstrous and god-like, it looks like Jean Grey could have gotten an update back in 'Mutations, but was passed over for the tiny Age of Apocalypse subset.

Exhibit D: Thor

Thor-40mm - My version of Thor. This is NOT a part of any commercial product line or sold. - JVS

The comments with this piece are very interesting. Reading between the lines it seems like James wanted a "classic" Thor, especially given that the common Thor from 'Hammer was the Straczynski update. I know I'd have preferred a Simonson era classic that wasn't part of some ill conceived duo.

Exhibit E: Power Man and Iron Fist

Iron Fist done for Wizkids Secret Invasion expansion. In the final piece the wall was removed for production reasons. The final production peice was also put together differently so that Iron Fist is pointing directly at the ground. - JVS

Not a huge difference, but like Catwoman a minor change. Luke lost the literal "Wallbuster" vision some time between design and production.

Exhibit F: Machine Man

This amazing sculpt of Aaron Stack comes strait from the pages of Nextwave via the mind of WizKids sculptor Ben Misenar. It's a no-brainer why it wasn't included in an official HeroClix expansion. All the bits sticking out of the robot's chest would have made for a difficult mold and a lot of broken, or possibly deformed parts.

Instead WizKids went with a simpler design that unfortunately isn't as cool.

He looks less likely to cut up some fleshbags, and more likely to cut up a large pepperoni pie. He slices! He dices! But wait there's more!

And we'll explore more, later, of what could have been in the Indy universe.

DC Elseworlds - part 1, of what might have been.

Ever since the Star Trek episode Mirror Mirror pop culture fans obsess over "What If" tales of parallel universes full of goateed evil version and alternate time streams that would take Doc Brown and Marty McFly years to unwind.

Heck even Marty has an alternate universe doppelganger in Eric Stolz, who was replaced by Michael J. Fox after a lot of shooting was completed. In some fringe, alternate universe maybe a goateed Eric stayed with the film.

DC has already put out one Elseworlds theme set, but there's always room for more. Taking a page from the "what could have been" playbook, HeroClix has its own close encounters with alternate reality. For instance, every set goes through a complex pot boiling process that narrows down the list of figures to make it in. When Topps sold WizKids back in November of 2008 fans knew there were still a lot of unmade sculpts, and figures "in the pipe" including the entire Hammer of Thor set.

According to interviews with WizKids staff it's a six to 9 month turnaround from the time a set list was finalized to the time a set is released. With that in mind, the creative team was always working far enough ahead to have a few sculpts that don't make it into a set. Some get held over to the next set.

The Avengers expansion, for instance featured Stingray, Living Laser, the Mandarin, and Guardsman all of whom seem better suited to the Armor Wars theme. Swamp Thing and Human Target were probably edged out of DC75 in favor of more of the Rainbow Lanterns. Morbius, the living vampire was easily a shoe in for Mutations and MONSTERS but didn't find his way into the game until Secret Invasion. Keep looking and you'll find more (Victor Mancha anyone?).

More proof of this theory lies in prototypes and master sculpts of the artists WizKid retained to bring HeroClix to the battle mats. For instance, the incredibly talented James Van Shaik has a few photos of figures that could have made it into a set, but didn't for some reason or another.

Exhibit A: Black Canary

James Van Shaik has this picture of Black Canary with the following caption:

Done for Wizkids during the Topps ownership 2008/2009

I assume James means 2008, because by 2009 Topps really hadn't done anything with the HeroClix property besides sell it. Still, a 2008 sculpt could have put this figure in line for an Arkham Asylum release, which makes since given Dinah's Gotham roots.

Exhibit B: Huntress

Done for Wizkids during the Topps ownership 2008/2009.

It appears 'Canary wasn't the only vigilante slated for a remake in Topps owned WizKids. Fellow Birds of Prey teammate Huntress was on the books as well for a much needed update. Aside from Arkham, another possibility was that these two birds were slated for the Brave and the Bold set, which was the DC theme set rumored (and proven) to follow Marvel's Hammer of Thor release. That might have made this pair a duo, so perhaps it's a good thing these two never saw the light of day.

Exhibit C: Catwoman

Another alternate reality probably saw this original Catwoman costumed Selina Kyle on top of the Bat Signal, instead of this updated version that fans got as a brick figure.

James gives us more insight on his image tag saying:

"The buy-it-by-the-brick figure done for Wizkids Brave and the Bold Expansion. Not my choice on the pose/design of this one. They wanted Catwoman laying on a wall originally, I wanted her crouched at his feet but I suggested the Batsignal to try something different."

It's telling that direction from on top also wanted the costume updated with the goggle look, and not the classic duds of the original gray suited cat burglar.

Exhibit 4: Superman

Not much evidence of anything per se, but noteworthy nonetheless. WizKids sculptor Ben Misenar went through the trouble of creating this Red Son Superman for a 'Clix for the Cure event. Given the recent Superman release it's odd that we never got a Red Son Superman in that set, but rather a second Elseworld's version of Son of Darkseid Superman.

Exhibit 5: Blackest Night part 2?

Call me crazy, but I suspect that the big portion of the "Rainbow Corps" from DC75 were jammed into the set, but originally intended for another Fast Forces styled release.

Examine the sculpts of Sinestro, Larfleeze, and Atrocitus and compare them to the Blackest Night starter figures.

The level of detail for some of these figures is off the charts compared to the rest of DC75. Most, if not all of them have that translucent plastic that summons up images of power ring constructs. Kyle is halfway there with the GLC tombstone/marker evoking Larfleeze's base.

I can imagine WizKids kicking around the idea of a second set based on initial sale numbers but balking due to some obscurity issues the set would have. Wonder Woman is a household name. Flash is a good sale point, but Larfleeze? Atrocitus? I doubt they could help carry a set.

With all these unmade sculpts and signs pointing to other planned releases it makes one wonder what else might have been. Stay tuned as next time we look over the fence at what might have been in the Marvel U.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mod-fodder: The Famle Furies

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little bummed that we didn't get the Furies in Superman. Then I got to thinking about who I could mod into the Furies and it struck me:

The Locust Horde TA seems a *lot* like a Boom Tube.

Locust Horde TA - This character can use Phasing/Teleport. When it does, after actions resolve you may knock back one adjacent opposing character 1 square. Uncopyable.

So then, I started digging further into who would make great mod-fodder for the Furies.

For starters, you can't have the Furies without a respectable Granny Goodness on the team.

Sadly, Clix hasn't given us many versions of this bad Nana. Justice League was saddled with a so-so iteration that stumbled in the SP department, and the Brave and the Bold representation is a duo, from a very specific time in Granny's life.

Here's what I came up with:

As the Leader of the Furies, Granny leads the attack, boom-tubing up with a grenade scatter. I don't have a great explanation for grenades, Troika Blasts, or the Clouds sp, aside from a Mega-Rod.

Next up, Mad Harriet...

She's the most insane and psychotic of the Furies, more wild animal than woman. Kind of like a female Creeper.

Charge, Flurry, and BCF sounds a lot like Harriet, who has a wicked set of energy claws. Range and grenades don't quite fit her though.

Then there's the problem of finding a dial for Stompa. None of the Locust Horde fits her to my liking. Mauler comes the closest, but I feel is too much of a pushover, and not enough of a threat. So I have to dip into another batch of "arcade" clix, HALO.

Stompa's a big brute with a Quake gimmick, and so I'm sold on this SR Master Chief dial for the second click alone - ignoring characters to Charge and Quake.

Everything but the SR price tag sounds good to me, so this more common version of Ken from Street Fighter is a good, cheaper substitute. With Force Blast, Quake, and lots of damage reduction/evasion, I think it works.

So far, all my picks have had one thing in common - the Warrior keyword, which means I can include Lashina - the easiest mod ever!

Leader of the Furies, Lashina already has a good dial from her Arkham Asylum release.

Together, the above dials come in at 391 points with some wiggle room for feats. I don't have Bernadeth yet, or some of the "newer" Furies. Looking over the Keyword Warriors, one figure stands out as a good Malice Vundabar.

Malice hangs out with a shadow creature/cat she calls Chessure which works for her B/C/F, and God of Fear seems to fit what little I know of the character. It might be appropriate for Bloody Mary too.

In any event, I couldn't pass over that Phobos/Malice dial, it's just too good. And by good, I mean EVIL.

I still need Bernadeth though, and unfortunately I don't feel like there's a lot of real good choices in the Warrior keyword. Bernadeth is known for having a hot knife - so one figure comes to mind in the point range that I'm interested.

Backstab just seems like such an Apokalips power that I have a hard time passing it over.

Kind of an expensive mod with the dial belonging to a sought after LE, the dial fits my idea of a figure with a knife that can cut through anything (EW+BCF). At 525-ish points I need one more girl to fill out my roller derby team...

Elsa Bloodstone makes for a good Gilotina, a character known for sharp blades.

Combined this is a 595 point force, that is somewhat modular for fun, theme builds. You can add in special objects, perhaps a Yellow Lantern (+1 av for Psychic Blast and EW) and a Black Lantern (Heal 1 click when an opponent is KO'd), or maybe some Kryptonite.

Another thing to keep in mind is that with the Warrior Keyword in play, several other Apokalips themed figures are available for the force. Veteran Big Barda from Unleashed may be a dud of a dial, but fits the Furies theme as their former leader. There's also room for expansion/filler with the CJ Parademons!

Now only if I had mod skills worth a darn.