Wednesday, February 22, 2012

threeA Pathfinder Oya Impressions

threeA (or 3A) is a Hong Kong company founded in 2008 that produces books, prints, clothing, and toys primarily based on the designs of Austrailian artist Ashley Wood.  It has a small, but rabidly loyal fanbase, along with Wood himself.

When I first heard of the 1/6 and 1/12 scale action figures from threeA a couple years ago, I really wasn't impressed.  While once a mainstream artist for the likes of Marvel and DC, Ashley Wood is now an independent creator, and his original graphic novel and comic book works have a very distinct artistic presence characterized by simplistic, highly-stylized faces that I felt just didn't fit in with the kinds of action figures I was interested in collecting at the time.  In addition, because the company itself is relatively small, they only sold their toys through their website, and in a very limited ordering process that was inconvenient to follow to say the least.  Fast forward to 2012, with the rising costs of 1/6 scale figures and the predominance of Hot Toys and others pushing ever closer to hyper-realism in toys, what is a jaded collector to do to keep his interest in the hobby alive?

You guessed it, as I re-evaluated my spending habits and collecting tastes, so too did I need to revisit threeA and see if there was indeed something I missed.

As it turns out, I seemed to have missed out on a lot.  These figures, from a purely collectible standpoint, are great!  Despite the simple character designs, the clothing, and paint jobs are outstanding!  Granted, they do have a very strong smell, but I think it's just a natural consequence of the super weathering techniques used by the factory (or "hatchery" as it is affectionately called by threeA fans) to give these toys the post-apocolyptic dirt and grime feel of the art and comics they are based on.  The figure bodies have a lot of articulation and the tailoring--from the screen-printed t-shirts to the oversized hoodies--is just fantastic.

My first threeA figure is the Pathfinder Oya made for the Hong Kong toy store BBCIN.  Overall, it's a fantastic figure, but I do have a few quibbles: the first is that the hands don't grip the weapons too well.  The gap seems a bit too big and the swords just sort of slip out if you're not careful.

Is that it?  Yup, the figure comes fully geared, and ready for display out of the box.
Just add swords.
The jacket is a little tough to work with for posing, but pretty sweet otherwise.
These toys have a distinctive look to them, no doubt.  Time for some stabby fun!
Ahhhhh!  Yeah I don't know he's doing either.  :p

Another issue is how much the heavy jacket/hoodie restricts movement in the arms.  You can take off the jacket for more dynamic poses, but I think it's a bit of a waste of such a nicely done item of 1/6 scale clothing.

At $120 MSRP, this one isn't the cheapest action figure, but compared to a non-Hot Toys brand, it's about in line, considering the amount of work that must have been required to paint and weather all the details.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Femme Fig Photoshoot of the Day

My one and only Hot Toys TrueType Female base body ended up getting a tear in the rubber torso smack dab in the middle of her chest.  :(

As result, I can no longer use the Modern Life custom swimsuit I had intended to use for the figure.

I found a reasonable solution, however.  Phicen!

The suit covers the gash in between her breasts, but unfortunately exposes the joints in her hips and thighs.
Yeah, not so pretty from the waist down, IMO...
And the badonkadonk?  Yoiks.
Might have to retire this figure body if I pick up another Phicen seamless down the line...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sideshow Star Wars Infantry Battle Droid Two Pack

I'm a big fan of the Star Wars Clone Wars animated series, as well as a fan of Star Wars in general.  While there have been some hits and misses with Star Wars 1/6 products over the years, Sideshow Collectibles has been doing a very good job with their Clone Wars action figures recently. 

Released the second week of January as part of their "Militaries of Star Wars" 1/6 action figure line, these Infantry Battle Droids are a surprisingly well-engineered product with over 20 points of articulation including telescoping necks, legs that swivel at the hip joint, and gripping fingers.

Nice box captures actual poses possible with these figures.

As with many SSC 1/6 scale toys, the packaging includes a magnetized flap.

The two droids are even able to replicate their "shutdown" state, all folded up when you first open the package.

I was able to secure the "EX" version with an extra backpack screen-printed with the number 1138, of course a reference to George Lucas' first film as a director.

They come with a pair of blasters and removable backpacks.

Overall, they're a pretty cool addition to any Clone Wars fan's shelf.

The only issues I have with these are the backpacks, which don't have a locking anchor point and thus are prone to falling off, and the stiffness at certain moving joints.  The latter may be attributed to the final process where paint may have dried into the moving parts, or else a general production side effect of plastics just being tight due to their newness.  It can make your first attempts at posing a bit nerve wracking as it can feel like putting too much pressure will break the plastic parts.  Just take your time when first handling, and you should be fine.

I'm pretty happy with these, and glad I was able to pick them up.  The price might seem a bit high, even for a two-in-one set, but considering these are all new molds and tooling, then it seems to be about in line for the R&D and production of a brand new, licensed product.


I'm not sure if these are TV/film accurate--the neck seems a bit short.  Roger roger!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Hot Toys MMS 156 Captain America, The First Avenger

Marvel Studios has done a largely successful job of building up hype for it's upcoming Avengers movie this Summer.  Starting with the wildly popular Iron Man 1 and 2, and then moving on to Thor, and Captain America.  Admittedly, I based my initial reactions to the Thor and CA films on their trailers and felt that the CA trailer "looked" like it would be a better movie than Thor.  I was wrong!  I ended up enjoying the humor and earnest fantasy of Thor over the more pedestrian Captain America.  Still, each were good movies in their own way, and I couldn't pass up a chance at Hot Toys' version of the Captain America action figure.

Unfortunately, like the film, while this figure looked good on the surface, it has some issues that prevent it from being the true blockbuster it could have been.  The main problem, IMO is the lack of articulation caused by the heavy, albeit well-designed costume.  The prototype photos show the Captain in a number of interesting, and somewhat dynamic poses, but in reality, it is very hard to get the correct range of motion in the arms and legs to really accomplish them.  Granted, it is ultimately possible, however, it is generally just too difficult for all but the most patient figure collector to mess around with.

The shield is amazing and real metal as well, but a pain to get properly set in the hands.

Everything else is standard Hot Toys: unreal paint apps, fine tailoring, high quality materials, and that extra attention to details that make these more than just "toys".  Ultimately, whether I can recommend this figure to you will depend on how much you enjoyed the movie or appreciate the character as it appeared in that movie, especially given the price. 

Hot Toys' shoebox style packaging. Includes blister on the inside of the top cover, full color printed insert inside, and main figure with accessories in the lower box.

Shield and gun--metal, pleather, and other materials.
Well packed in vacuum-formed tray.
If he looks stiff, that's because...he is.  :p
The helmet is sculpted as part of the whole head.  Really amazing how well the paint job is.
The shield looks wonderful, but is a surprising pain in the rear to get on there.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Soldier Story Felgendarmerie Des Heers 1945

I try to stick primarily to Hot Toys and Modern Military figures to keep my collection under control.

However, once in a while I'll see a figure that tickles my fancy for whatever reason, and I just decide to go ahead and pick it up.  Such is the case for the Felgendarmerie, or German military police, figure from Soldier Story.  While I don't much care for what these units did, especially during the time this figure is supposedly fashioned after, it's an interesting and notable theme if you have any interest in WWII military history.  The figure comes with the metal gorget that earned these enforcement officers the nickname "chained dogs".

While the set itself does not include too many parts and accessories compared to a Soldier Story modern kit, what is there is generally the same higher-end quality of materials and worksmanship the company tends to adhere to.  The paint job on the head sculpt is well done, although almost ironically, it seems to be a passive version of the head Soldier Story used for their Panzergrenadier Wiking version (which you may remember sported a unique open-mouthed expression).

Overall, I like this set, but at around $95 or so MSRP, it's kind of pricey for what you get.

A rather "srs" bit of box art, methinks.  Note the blood at the top right.  :p

You get a couple different looks with the helmet and field pack.

Aw, only one blister pack for accessories.  :(

Yeah, this is pretty much all you get.  I guess I'm spoiled by DID and SS modern sets.

He looks dignified despite some of the duties they carried out.

I dunno why, but I like him better with the cap than the helmet.

A passive face for someone even his countrymen's own soldiers feared.