Toy News and Reviews
Our resident toy fiend returns with a long-overdue review of the action figures based on Kill Bill, Volume 1. In all fairness to the Toyman, we should note that this review ó and the three to follow ó were written throughout May and June. Yes, the Toyman is actually ahead of schedule for a change! But let's not tell him that, O.K.?
by The Toyman
Kill Bill! Action Figures! What more could you ask for? NECA has apparently managed to get on Tarantinoís good side ó something other companies either couldnít do or didnít put enough effort into. Finally we have hints at a line of Pulp Fiction figures. Sure, the Geoms are nice, but everyone is waiting for the real deal. To hold us over until then, we have the Kill Bill figures. A great line of figures, even without O-Ren. But how am I ever going to afford an army of 88s ... ?
NECA has come a long way in the packaging department. Does anyone remember the Christmas Story packaging? (It looked like they designed it in the dark!) The insert design for this series is a lot more bright and attractive ó thereís no way to miss the Kill Bill logo staring at you in the aisle.
Inside, the figures are nicely displayed. NECA even shows off some of their other Kill Bill merchandise on the inserts. (Anybody know where I can find a P.W. key chain?) Nothing too original about the overall packaging, but NECA has stepped up their quality to compete with both McFarlane and Mezco.
Great look, great design ó an easy 5 stars. As soon as someone develops an easy-open tab on these clamshells (like the twist key on Spam), Iíll have to give them 6 stars ... .
Iíve heard a lot of debate over the sculpts on this line. Since the 88s are all the same basic figure, weíll just review The Bride, Go-Go, and one Crazy 88.
A lot of complaints have been tossed out that The Bride looks bad, that Go-Go is unattractive ó maybe some people need to re-watch the movie. Go-Go has a giant nose in the movie and on the toy. The Bride looks like Uma Thurman. Donít fault NECA for making their toys look like unattractive stars. In my eyes, the sculpts are almost perfect ó especially considering NECA's desire to do things the hard way and steer clear of the Real Scan technology. (Or at least fix what has been scanned.)
The Bride is sculpted in her yellow jumpsuit. Posed in mid-fight, she looks great up against the 88s. The folds and wrinkles in her outfit are all there. She looks like Uma ó maybe a little off from some angles, but without the real thing sitting next to me to compare, I canít complain. The only thing that bothers me is her hair. It doesnít seem to flow right. It could be worse; it could be rooted hair. The Bride gets 4 stars for sculpting.
Go-Go looks just perfect ó from her menacing look to her schoolgirl uniform and even to her white panties. (You know you wanted to know.) Her hair is a little off, like the Bride's, but maybe itís just the mid-action pose NECA is trying to capture. Go-Go also gets 4 stars.
The Crazy 88s come in 3 styles: Basically, 2 heads ó one of the heads with two paint variations. So you can have your Crazy 88 assassin clean-shaven, bearded, or bald (Johnny Mo). The head sculpts are great. These guys are ready to fight. The bodies are all identical, and their action feature in no way detracts from the sculpt. (But weíll get to that soon enough.) The 88s get 5 stars.
Why? Because Iím the Toyman. No, really, itís because theyíre great army builders that have just enough of a difference that you donít feel ripped off buying all three (or more).
The paint's a little iffy.
Some of the washes are a little sloppy, particularly on the Bride. And the bearded 88ís painted beard looks pretty silly, almost like a twelve-year-old drawing on his first fake beard. For the most part, the colors are all consistent. There is no slop or overlap. It would have been nice if the swords (and axes) were painted rather than chrome-plated, but what can you do?
So the few little inconsistencies only bring the paint score down to 4 stars.
Both Bride and Go-Go have 14 point of articulation (neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, waist, hips, ankles, and legs). They both stand fine, even without their bases, and you can adjust their fighting stances without the cut joints looking too offensive. NECA had mentioned giving them more articulation, but they had to cut back because of breakage issues ó makes me wonder what could have been ... .
Four stars for these two! Why? Because they arenít as much fun as the 88s!
The Crazy 88s have only 10 points of articulation (neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, waist, and ankles). Still pretty impressive.
The figures stand just fine. Which is a good thing when you start playing with them. The arms and heads of the Crazy 88s are removable, just like in the film. There can be limbs flying everywhere, recreating everyoneís favorite scene. And if you want to have even more fun, you can hook up the included tubing and bulb, fill it with ďbloodĒ (actually disappearing red ink), and squirt blood from the newly severed limbs. Even though the blood-letting is more of an action feature, I'm including it here because it affects the articulation.
For pure fun, the 88s get 5 stars! Iím sick, I know ó but itís so much fun!
The Bride comes with her sword, her scabbard, and a table leg (as well as a second hand, to hold it). Perfect for swatting Go-Go with.
The Bride also comes with a blood-splattered section of the floor from the House of Blue Leaves. It fits nicely against the Crazy 88 bases and makes for a wonderful effect. There is a variation of the Bride with a snow base that was originally supposed to connect to O-Renís base. Since we have no O-Ren ó thanks, Lucy! ó the second base, while well done, isnít as entertaining.
Go-Go has O-Renís knife and sheath, a second set of hands, and her mace/ball-and-chain. The mace has a real chain that attaches the ball to a section of plastic chain that fits in her hand. It creates a nice mid-swing effect. There is even a second ball so you can display the mace with blades in or out.
Go-Go also comes with a base. It's not the same as the other bases, so it kind of stands out. But it is well done.
The three Crazy 88's each come with two weapons and a base. Each 88 comes with an axe and sword, as well as a bottle of ďbloodĒ and the squeeze bulb. Johnny Mo (the bald 88) comes with an extra (movie-accurate) sword.
NECA put a lot of thought into this line, and it shows. For accessories, Kill Bill gets 5 stars.
With prices in the $13-15 range, the Kill Bill toys arenít cheap. The price reflects the property license, the market heat, and the pile of stuff you get with each one. They arenít overpriced. And they're well worth the money (if you like Kill Bill, that is).
While the price could be better, itís no surprise. So Iíll give 4Ĺ stars here.
Anytime a toy company breaks the unwritten rule and produces a line based on an R-rated movie, Iím happy. And the fact that we finally have figures based on a Tarantino property makes me ecstatic! Despite all the moaning and groaning Iíve read (and the negative reviews as well), Iím happy.
The whole set looks great on the shelf, and I canít wait for Series 2.
Letís see, what does everyone want to hear?
How about that Marvel Legends Series 6 is on its way. The packaged figures have surfaced in Hong Kong ó pics can be found on evil-Bay and various Marvel message boards ó so hopefully weíll have them in about a month.
The Jawa Sandcrawler Hasbro has teased us about for years will finally see release as an exclusive. The lucky dealer? Believe it or not, it's Diamond! So weíll finally be able to pick up everyoneís most requested re-issue ó at the Dragon!
Questions and Answers
This week's question comes from Ron, who asks:
What's your favorite toy/line of toys available now?
Well, Ron, thatís a tough one.
I love the new Muppets figures. The Marvel Mini-Mates are a ton of fun. I picked up the 20th Anniversary Optimus Prime last week (the first Transformer Iíve bought since I was a kid) and really think itís great. I finally picked up one of Mezcoís Gangsters Inc. figures and was blown away. The detail's amazing, and the figure is huge!
Iíve become burned out on Star Wars. And Iím down to only the random Lord of the Rings figures. (The Witchking figure is awesome.)
DC Direct is so expensive I only pick up my random favs.
So, at this very moment, Iím going to have to say that the Mini-Mates are my favorite. They have so much playability built into them. Right now, Spidey is taking Mary Jane for a spin in the Hot Wheels 1/18th scale Batmobile, Green Goblin is harassing the Muppet Newsman, and the X-Men have raided the Swedish Chefís kitchen.
As for upcoming figures, Iím really looking forward to the Scarface figures! Itís about @#!& time!
Thanks for the question, Ron!
Thatís all for now, toy fans! See you next time!