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    REVIEW: WizKids HeroClix 2016 Convention Exclusives

    Punisher & TMNT Vans, Adam West Batman, & TV’s Arrow At SDCC...



    Every year WizKids Games creates an assortment of HeroClix game pieces that are exclusive to conventions, and these include both for-purchase items and prize figures only available in sanctioned events. Oftentimes these Convention Limited Edition figures (Con LEs) are alternate versions of popular characters, fun additions to the game, novelty characters, and the like. For 2016, the for-purchase Con LEs are coming to San Diego Comic-Con in a few weeks... and they’re pretty amazing. For players and collectors WizKids will have the following lineup: Marvel HeroClix: Punisher Van, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles HeroClix: Turtle Van, DC Comics HeroClix: Arrow Pack, DC Comics HeroClix: Surfing Batman with Shark, and DC Comics HeroClix: Batman with Bomb. Not sure about what these are or what they look like? Well, read on for a full look at all of them and get your wallets (and comfortable shoes) ready for SDCC!

    HeroClix special edition and promotional pieces share some general features when it comes to packaging. Their boxes are usually brightly colored affairs with lots of bold graphics, and the images alternate between renders or photos of the figures and comic book-style artwork. But while the single figure prize boxes are totally enclosed, the larger multi-item packs like the items at SDCC add a window as well so you can get a glimpse of the awesomeness inside! Of this bunch the Punisher’s Van packaging is (appropriately) the most dour, nearly solid black with just the renders and the fearsome Punisher skull logo in cracked white paint. Contrast that with the Turtle Van with its riotous background of comic images, bright colors, and bold artwork of the half-shelled heroes. The three DC boxes are really cool for their inclusion of art based on live-action TV characters; the Arrow images are intense while the Batman Classic TV Series packs are cartoony and fun versions of Adam West surfing and holding a bomb! There are even thematic cardboard background inserts in the smaller boxes that you could use for displaying the figures.




    Going from smallest to biggest, first we have two different versions of 1966’s Adam West Batman. Known for his silly antics and crazy gadgets, this incarnation of the superhero fought criminals on TV and in a full-length feature film. WizKids has already produced one set of figures from the show as well as the Batmobile, and now these two exclusive Batmen immortalize iconic scenes from the show and movie. First up is Batman with Bomb ($15), straight out of Batman: the Movie and from a scene in which the hero runs through a comically crowded boardwalk looking to get rid of a huge cartoon-like bomb. The new figure perfectly captures Adam West as Batman running around holding the bomb above his head, and it even includes a built-in word bubble with the iconic line “some days, you just can’t get rid of a bomb!” Alongside Batman in the pack is a separate “Bomb” piece as well. For 35 points Batman has solid stats and a six-click dial with Sidestep (double when holding the Bomb!), Willpower, and Combat Reflexes. Batman starts the game holding the Bomb but can pass it off; anyone holding it can assign it to an adjacent character at the start of a turn (once per turn), and at the end of each turn the player whose figure is holding it has to roll a d6. A low roll means turning the Bomb dial, getting closer and closer to the “BOOM” which deals 3 damage to the figure holding it and all figures within 3 squares!




    Next up is another (in)famous scene from the third season of 1966’s Batman, specifically the episode titled “Surf’s Up, Joker’s Under.” In it, Batman and his arch-enemy have a hilarious and ultra campy surfing contest. Notably, both characters wear surf shorts OVER their usual outfits (three piece suit and Batman costume) and the hero uses his patented Shark-Repellant Bat-Spray... which has already appeared in HeroClix as a convention exclusive Batbelt item a couple years ago. Surfing Batman ($15) hits the scene hanging ten with a sculpt that fits in perfectly with the first series of Batman ’66 figures. The hero wears his standard costume with the silly yellow shorts on top of it, standing on a bright yellow surfboard held aloft on a curling wave of translucent blue plastic. Meanwhile, there’s a big, bold, blue and yellow “Cowabunga!!” sign behind him. Batman and the sign are removable elements, which tie into the piece’s game mechanics. As with the “Bomb” pack this Batman comes with something extra, in this case a separate Shark figure! Batman is 50 points with the Swim symbol, a full dial of Charge and Close Combat Expert, starting Combat Reflexes and end-dial Willpower, and a starting Special Power that gives him a +1 attack boost against other Swimmers. When he’s KO’d you remove the figure and sign and the Surfboard becomes a light object; a figure can equip it to gain Improved Movement through Water terrain and +3 to movement while doing so! The Surfboard can also be played on its own as a 1 point special object. And then there’s the Shark! It’s a great-looking miniature and it’s a super fun attack piece at 30 points with Swim, full Blades/Claws/Fangs and Toughness, a trait giving it Charge, Exploit Weakness, and +3 speed in water, and the Atlantis keyword(!). There’s also a nifty option for Batman; you can play him at 50 points OR only 30 if you voluntarily give the Shark to your opponent’s team.




    From 1966 to 2016, next up is the Arrow: The Television Pack ($20) with three figures right out of the currently airing WB show! This is the first instance of HeroClix from DC television, and while I have ZERO inside information we can all hope that with strong sales of this pack WizKids will give us more as the options are huge (Arrow, Flash, Supergirl, etc.). Anyway, the set is advertised to include Green Arrow, John Diggle, and the Arrow Motorcycle, though the names on the actual figures are a bit different. Let’s go through those one by one. Headlining this set, obviously, is the star of the show. Stephen Amell is Arrow, and the figure captures him in his full-sleeved dark green costume complete with hood and mask. The archer is posed in a wide stance, balancing while shooting his bow. There’s a lot of great detail on the clothing and quiver, and his face and eyes are very well painted. This figure’s bow is a bit tilted to the side but I kind of like it that way. Arrow is a lean 75 points with a solid 8 range, good stats with high attack numbers, middling defense, and low damage. His dial has only Running Shot and Willpower for the first half and Precision Strike on the latter, but check out the extras; Arrow has Improved Targeting to shoot even adjacent enemies, one trait granting Sidestep and Stealth, and another letting you choose each turn either Energy Shield/Deflection and Ranged Combat Expert or Combat Reflexes and Close Combat Expert! This means he always has a +2 to defense and +2 to allocate to damage (or the already good attack), configurable to where he is in combat and whom he’s fighting.




    Diggle is another fan-favorite on the show, and he comes to HeroClix with a no-nonsense sculpt leaning into an attack with a pistol. Like Arrow his clothing is dark but has a lot of sculpted detail and he also has a very good face sculpt and paint job. John here is a street-level hero at 25 points with 5 range and two different power sets. He begins the game with Stealth, Combat Reflexes, and Enhancement and ends strong with Running Shot, Willpower, and Support. Get him into cover next to Oliver to boost the archer’s attacks and take his own pot-shots, and later get him into position to heal up his allies. Last in this pack is the Arrow Cycle, fully compatible with the recent updates to Vehicles in the game. The bike is built for speed and utility, a small vehicle with a fantastic sculpt and a paint job to match in metallic green, black, and muted metalwork. As usual with motorcycles in the game this one sits on a double base, and it comes into the game at 40 points with a Personal Craft trait letting it join theme teams that include an “Arrow” or “Green Arrow.” It’s highly mobile, starting with Running Shot and Sidestep before switching to Charge. Defensively there’s Super Senses and then end-dial Toughness. For fans of the Arrow TV show this pack is an absolute must-have as the figures look great and are highly playable.




    Also from television but a whole different universe is the Turtle Van ($30) from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! The iconic vehicle first appeared in the 1987 animated series and became a toy (the Turtle Party Wagon) in 1989. A hit with fans from the beginning, the original Van would inspire future Turtle vehicles with its bright yellow and green paint scheme and silly gadgets. Just a few months ago WizKids released the first series of TMNT HeroClix figures (there’s more on the way), and the for-purchase Turtle Van joins alternate prize figure versions of Shredder and Casey Jones among this year’s convention exclusives. The Van closely replicates the look of the original cartoon vehicle with some unique design elements, and you can tell because WizKids included a pretty great image of it on the box. The vehicle is a boxy and short with smaller front wheels and larger back ones. The windshields and long side windows are transparent, and behind the latter are panels with raised square sections (segmented door armor), while the back of the van has (sealed) double doors. On top of the vehicle is a textured turtle shell-like armored roof equipped with Super-Spoiler, “almost useless roof guns,” antenna, and lights, and the front resembles a face with a frowny-face bumper and TMNT-branded spare tire “nose.”




    The Turtle Van sits on a 2x4 square base and can be played at either 100 or 60 points. Like the Arrow Cycle the Van does not break theme team for specific characters, in this case any of the Turtles; it can also carry characters with Battle Fury among its 4 total passengers. One trait gives it a decent range attack option, but it can be used only against flying or larger than standard figures. A second trait gives you options for activating the Pizza Time feature multiple times per turn (and more on that in a moment). On the Van’s dial you’ll good movement values with a smattering of Charge and Force Blast, and there are two instances of Telekinesis on the attack track. Defensively the vehicle has good numbers and great powers progressing from Invincible to Impervious, Invulnerability, and Toughness. Lastly there’s a four-click run of Empower near the top of the 100 point dial. Finally, there’s a second dial on the Van’s base, the Pizza Dial! Each turn you can give the vehicle a free action to pick friendly TMNT character, roll a d6, spin the dial that many clicks, and compare the color of the topping it displays with the chosen Turtle. If it matches (blue for Leonardo, red for Raphael, etc.) the character can heal 1 click or get a +1 to defense if it’s unharmed! And remember, the Van has a trait that lets you do more Pizza Time for power actions or double power actions. Overall the Turtle Van is fun to use without a lot of really complex powers and abilities, and the Pizza Dial gives it real in-universe appeal. Collectors and players are definitely going to want to hang onto this one as WizKids has already revealed that the 80s animated Turtles will be in a future HeroClix series.




    And then there’s the big daddy of the collection, and the one that’s got Marvel fans chomping at the bit to get in line... Punisher’s Van! The vigilante Frank Castle is back and this time he’s brought an entire armory, plus the cargo capacity to get it around town. This set ($50) comes with a huge amount of materials: the Van itself, a new Punisher figure, six 3D special objects, three Flame FX Bases, and eight Weapon object tokens. Frank appears in his classic black and white costume with the skull logo on his chest, and he’s ready to mete out vengeance as he dual-wields a pistol and submachine gun. By himself the Punisher is 60 points with Improved Targeting to shoot even while based and a 6 range with one target. He has good speed and defense, better attack numbers, and low damage but plenty of ways to boost it. Punisher starts with Sidestep, Willpower, and Ranged Combat Expert perfect for continuously moving closer to the enemy and blasting him. Mid-dial he switches to Stealth, Blades/Claws/Fangs, and Toughness, and late-dial picks up Combat Reflexes and Close Combat Expert. It’s a very dense dial with the ability to put out a lot of punishment, and mid-dial he’s deadly with the combo of Stealth, Blades, and Ranged Combat Expert.




    Punisher’s Van, referred to in the comics as his Battle Van or War Van, is traditionally a refurbished Ford V-8 (Aerostar) that is packed to the brim with weapons, defensive measures, and communications gear. The HeroClix piece is pretty much a perfect rendition of what it has looked like in the comics, a mostly ordinary-looking metallic blue van with smaller forward wheels and larger rear ones, gray bumpers and hubcaps, yellow lights, silver mirrors, transparent windshield and windows, a long antenna stretched back over the roof, and a top-mounted deployable radome. And it even has New York license plates! Like the Turtle Van it sits on a 2x4 square base, and it can be played at 125, 100, or 75 points. It doesn’t break Theme as long as there’s a Punisher on your force, and it has a really cool “Ram” trait that lets you do just that. It’s highly mobile with alternating Running Shot and Sidestep, and soaks up damage with a progression of Invincible, Impervious, and Invulnerability. On its last click the Van’s combat values all drop to zero; there’s a STOP special power that says when it’s revealed you eject the pilot (Punisher bounces 4 squares, others drop adjacent), deal 3 damage to all characters within 3 squares, destroy all walls and blocking terrain in the same vicinity, and KO the Van!




    On the back of the Punisher Van’s base is the Weapons Dial, an options resource that be added to your game for either 10 or 5 points. If you do, before the game begins assign the Van four different Weapon object tokens and three different Weapon 3D objects. During the game for a power action you can place an onboard Weapon adjacent to the Van, and if the vehicle is being piloted by a character named Punisher you can also then place him adjacent to it. Which Weapons you can deploy is governed by the Weapons Dial, and each Weapon has a point value. Weapon objects and tokens range from 1 to 7 points, and they can be used on your starting force only if your team includes the Punisher Van or a figure named Punisher. Furthermore, only friendly characters can equip Punisher Weapons, and while it costs a power action to do it for most figures anyone named Punisher can do it for a free action! The Punisher’s Van set has an incredible amount of cool stuff going on with the vehicle, a great Punisher figure, and all of the fun Weapons. You’re definitely going to want one of these for your collection.




    The quantity and variety of these exclusives are pretty great, and whether you’re a DC, Marvel, or TMNT player/fan there’s something for you. The inclusion of the Arrow pack is a huge deal for WizKids and HeroClix, and will certainly draw more interest based on the DC TV lineup’s popularity. It should also be noted that these exclusives are great values for the price at SDCC, ranging from $15 for the Batman packs to a max of $50 for the Punisher’s Van set with all of that fun content! Be warned that HeroClix exclusives always sell out at Comic-Con, so make the NECA booth a priority on your list if you want to get your hands on these.




    Review and photos by Scott Rubin

    Review samples courtesy of WizKids Games



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