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Marvel (and Disney) have had two exceptional hits with the Guardians of the Galaxy 1 and 2. It took forever and a couple weeks to get the entire team from the first film released in sixth scale by Hot Toys, thanks to tremendous delays with Drax. But they're all together on the shelf now, and Hot Toys is starting to work their way though another set based off their look in the second film.
The first to ship was Star-Lord. And yes, Rocket has just started shipping as well, so hopefully this series won't see the delays of the first. I've had Star-Lord sitting here for awhile, and he shipped just before the end of the year. We didn't include him on the Poppies for 2017, because the judges were worried not enough collectors would have received him in time to properly assess him, but he'll be very much on the 2018 ballot.
There are two versions, a regular that will run you around $230, and a deluxe that costs around $250. I'm covering the deluxe in this review, but there's only a couple extras that I'll call out in their specific categories.
This review will be a little different, as it will be a co-review. I've done this a couple other times, and it's always fun - each category will be
judged by me, and one of my guest reviewers, this time Bob Snare. Let's rock!
Packaging - MWC ***1/2; Bob ****
MWC - I'm digging the style and design, and they will be using this same look for each of the characters. It's an old school, retro appearance, and the 'awesome mix vol. 2' is actually on the inside, printed on the cover card. I particularly like how his profile is printed on the cover in such a way that it looks like a speaker grill. It's all collector friendly of course, and even the plastic sleeves on the figure slip off without cutting any tape.
Bob - Normally I'm entirely indifferent to a figure's packaging, hearkening back to the days when 12" GI Joe and 8" Mego figures came in no-frills,
windowless "coffin" boxes. But this one actually has some real charm to it. The entire thing is designed to look like a cassette player, with the
speaker printed with a profile of the now-iconic Star Lord helmet. The top of the box even includes a series of embossed buttons and the bottom
virtual rubber feet.
The "Awesome Mix vol. 2" cassette is visible through a window near the top, but the actual image of the cassette is printed on the card underneath, said card also being a "circuit board" covered in "microchips" upon which are printed the names of the people responsible for the figure itself. It's simple and clever, the sort of thing I could only hope to design.
He's housed in the usual multi-part, blow molded tray. This has the one for the main figure and larger accessories, another the hands and smaller accessories, and one underneath for the long coat and alternate shirt. A few stickies and the plastic wrap around the head, hands, and feet needed to be removed.
Sculpting - Both ****
MWC - Hot Toys cranks out the best sculpts in the business right now, and occasionally they even outdo themselves. This is one of those times.
Yep, this is an ultra realistic sculpt. The skin texture, hair detail, and subtle touches create a portrait that can easily be mistaken for an actual human at first glance. The facial hair is particularly impressive, especially the funky sideburns.
And yes, it's definitely, without a doubt, Chris Pratt as Star-Lord. This is one of the most accurate portraits I've seen from them in months, and the combination of dead accurate features - eyes, lips, nose, hair style, even facial structure - create a spooky real Star-Lord.
All of this is backed up by a slightly emotive but not over the top expression. He's looking slightly quizzical, slightly serious, and all Star-Lord. It's a good, multi-use expression that works well with a wide variety of poses.
He's just shy of 12 1/2" tall, and the hands are a bit more in scale than we saw with the recent Marty McFly.
There's a second portrait as well, covered by his mask. The sculpting on the mask looks great as well, and there's even a light up feature - more on that in a minute.
Bob - Here's where we're seeing a vaguely significant upgrade, as the likeness of Chris Pratt this time around is much closer,
with the expression being less goofy without being too serious or stern, entirely appropriate for the character. I was so disappointed with the
previous sculpt that I never displayed the figure with it. This time I feel entirely the opposite.
The True-Type body is specially sculpted to resemble Chris Pratt's and it seems pretty much on the money.
Paint - Both ****
MWC - Hot Toys knows production paint like Santa knows reindeer. Once again, the work here is near perfection. The skin tone is lifelike, the eyes are super realistic, and even the facial hair has that subtle transition to the skin color that sets it apart from everyone else.
The accessories look terrific as well, right down to the tiniest details. Just look at the necklaces to see just what I'm talking about.
Bob - Hot Toys typically impeccable paintwork is on display here. From the head, to the guns, the rocket pack, and all the other accessories, everything is as damn near perfect as one could possibly expect. And at this price point if had better be.
Articulation - Both ***1/2
MWC - The underlying TrueType has all the articulation you expect, and it's less restricted by the costume than you might imagine. Sure, the coats can effect the shoulders and elbows, but no more than they would if you were wearing them.
The helmeted head tends to pop off a bit too easily, but the head swap was no problem. The hands have a similar problem - swapping was no issue, but they tend to pop off as you're posing him. This gets back to tiny posts that have to reach and stay inside deeply embedded holes. another hand issue I've mentioned in the past.
The neck, torso, hips, and knees all work terrific. The ankles are particularly useful thanks to another well designed two piece boot.
Bob - The Hot Toys "True-Type" body quickly set the standard when it was introduced back in 2006, and they've done nothing but
improve it since. As is often the case, the detailed outfit can get in the way of some of the more extreme poses you can achieve without it, and
it's a bit of a disappointment, as they've previously come up with some clever engineerings to get around that problem.
Still you can get some good poses in the head/neck, particularly this time as they've given him a rubber upper torso so the neck moves as well. He also has the boots with the separate foot/calf the previous figure lacked, giving him more potential for posing there.
Accessories - Both ****
MWC - There are an insane number of extras here, as you might - or should - expect at this price point. Let's start with hands, and there's a total of 11. Four are gloved - a set of fists and a set of grips. Then there's a bare set of fists, gun grips, and wide grips, with one extra bare left for gripping some of the specific accessories. They swap easily enough, but as I mentioned in the Articulation section, I had trouble with them popping off too easily when I was posing him.
His guns are new and improved sculpts, and look fantastic. They have a cool clip-on attachment at the hips, and there is a specific left and right. Check the stock to see which should go in which hand - you'll see what I mean.
He loves his oldies, and there's a cassette player (which does not open) attached to headphones. There are two little earphone covers that come separate in the box, which pop on as you'd expect. These look a little clunky - actual foam would have been nice - but it's a minor nit. There's also a second, loose tape for his Awesome Mix Vol. 2.
He has the two necklaces he wears in the film, and the sculpts and paint work are really impressive. There's also a baby Groot, and he has a magnetic butt. He can be placed on a small rock that's included, or he can sit properly on the shoulder of Star-Lord.
He has some additional costume pieces, including his red scarf. The deluxe version includes three more goodies here - his helmet in mid-opening mode, his long red jacket, and his second, black long sleeve t-shirt. The helmet can be a bit tricky to take apart and put back together, but once in place it looks fantastic and really adds to the normal portrait. I'm not a huge fan of the second t-shirt, but that's just because I like the blue one so much.
Bob and I disagree quite strenuously on the red coat, but I'll get to that in the Outfit section. Until then, let's just say that the addition of the second coat really improves this score.
Perhaps my favorite surprise was the rocket pack. It is very sturdy, and looks fantastic over the shorter coat. Add in the second portrait with the masked face or the exclusive opening mask, and you have one (actually two) extremely good options for display. Of course, all these accessories actually create dozens of great options, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the pack.
Like every Hot Toys figure, he comes with a standard display base and support rod, with graphics based on the second film.
Bob - This is where things go absolutely bonkers. He comes with:
- the two necklaces he wears in the movie
- his pistols (and they're new, even more detailed sculpts to boot)
- the rocket pack
- alternate, light-up helmeted head
- two pairs of gloved hands (fists and gripping)
- three pairs of regular hands (fists, gripping, and neutral)
- young Groot, with a magnetic butt. He can sit on Star Lord's shoulder or a small rock he comes with (my wife immediately appropriated him for her knick knack shelf).
- the Sony Walkman. This is insanely detailed. The pads come off the headphones. And it opens so you can put either of the two tapes included inside: Awesome Mix vol. 1 or vol. 2. I was shocked it wouldn't actually play (My wife almost stole this as well).
- Custom stand with printed graphics
And exclusive to this set:
- Helmet in "activating mode", essentially the helmet with his face uncovered. It snaps apart into four pieces and snaps on easily with the help of magnets for the front piece, under his chin. It looks fantastic and this is how I've been displaying him so far.
Light Feature - MWC ***
MWC - The light feature is pretty straight forward, but suffers from the common problem of switch placement.
Batteries are included, and you pop off the back of the helmeted head to reveal the compartment and switch. Getting the cover off is tricky - there's not a lot of room to maneuver in there, and the placement of the compartment is quite deep inside the back of the head. Once you get the batteries and cover back in place, flipping the tiny switch turns on the light behind the eyes. It's bright, although the color makes it tough to see in a lit room. It's only real issue is that you have to remove the back of the head every time you want to turn it on or off, a design flaw we've seen too many times.
Outfit - MWC - ****; Bob ***1/2
MWC - As with the accessories, there's a ton of outfit pieces, creating all sorts of display options for you.
He comes wearing his short jacket, perfectly tailored and highly detailed. It unzips to reveal his long sleeve, stretchy blue shirt with the unique logo. I'm assuming this is some sort of alien version of Coke or Nike. The pants fit great, and also have sculpted details like the cool clips for holding the blasters on his hips.
The boots are complex sculpts, and include a two piece design that gives the foot and ankle an excellent range of movement.
The deluxe version includes the long red coat, as well as the black stretchy shirt. I won't be using this shirt, but it's still nice to have of course. I particularly like the long coat, which is highly poseable thanks to the thin wire along the outside edge. You can make various poses all the more dynamic by using it. Now, Bob is going to tell you it's a bad coat because it can't close in front...I disagree. Oh, I understand his point, but if it could close, it would be tough to show off the shirt. In smaller scales like this, there are unusual effects when you are too accurate. One of those is that coats that can close across the chest are harder to open wide. I prefer the option they went with here, and I think the long jacket looks fantastic on him.
Bob - The amount of tailoring Hot Toys manages on the relatively tiny sixth-scale continues to set a standard that is the envy of
other companies and is nothing short of miraculous. If I were to buy pants or a jacket with this level of detailing I would easily expect to pay a
couple of hundred bucks, and perhaps that's a good part of where the cost of these figures lie.
Still, the tailoring is gorgeous and the fit is damn near perfect. This time they've elected to make the holsters a part of the pants, with a separate belt that rests around his hips which I think is a better solution than the previous figure (although the guns don't stay clipped to the holsters quite as well as last time). The shirts, of course fit like a second skin.
The short jacket is tailored and fits almost identically to what you see in the movie, and it has a magnetic clip to keep the lapel down flat (even though there's a wire to help with that as well). It has attached sculpted components which limit movement and make it tricky to get on and off.
But then we come to the long jacket, exclusive to this figure. Frankly it doesn't fit at all correctly, coming up tight over the shoulders and not even beginning to pretend to close over the chest. At first I thought this was by design with the one in the movie was the same. But upon a re-watch (it's on Netflix) I saw that, nope, even though he wears it open, it looks as if it could zip closed.
Even odder, as the jacket sweeps down it blouses out into an almost bell shape, which is kept in check by pleats held in place by a thin wire. In the end the jacket reminded me of something an overly-dramatic anime character would wear. It's gorgeous, but not screen accurate IMO.
I should add the the detailing is, of course, beautiful.
There's also the exclusive, alternate red t-shirt. It's got some very nice microprinting on it and matches the screen version perfectly. Changing the t-shirts was surprisingly easy.
Fun Factor - ****
MWC - All those accessories means a ton of fun for any collector or fan. You'll find a great pose in one costume, then find one even better when you switch things up. You'll be posing and re-posing this guy for years to come.
Bob - With all the accessories, packaging, posing potential, and general solidity and awesomeness on display here I haven't
enjoyed a figure this much since... well since the Jyn Erso figure I received for Christmas just a few short days before this one arrived. With
figures like this it's quite evident why Hot Toys remains the leader in this market. They really make the effort to go the extra mile when they
could easily coast on their reputation.
Value - MWC ***; Bob ***1/2
MWC - At $250, he's expensive. But you're actually getting what you're paying for with this release, thanks to the multiple heads, outfits, and accessories. Regular readers know my average is **1/2 - with ***, he'll actually get a slight boost to my Overall score.
Bob - The high end these days tends towards the $180-$270 range. This guy is up there at $250 but really, he's got everything you
could possibly want, except for a properly tailored long coat. I'll ding him for that. Otherwise I'd say he's pretty much setting the standard.
Things to Watch Out For -
MWC - Take some care with the helmet assembly. The little plastic tabs are tiny, and getting it to fit correctly can take some adjustments. I noticed that the chin piece didn't always quite line up with the magnets, and it's tough to notice in hand.
Bob - Not much really. There are some really tiny parts that you should be careful don't drop out and get lost. And that your wife/girlfriend doesn't snatch Groot up for her own nefarious purposes.
Overall - MWC ****; Bob ***1/2
MWC - I'm going to be honest. If this guy had made it out just a month earlier, he would have been on the 2017 Poppies ballot, and he would have been my pick. Yep, I think he's better than Hulkbuster and better than Doctor Strange...and that's saying a LOT.
He will be on the ballot for 2018, and I'm telling you right now - beating him is going to be mighty difficult. The bar has been set, and it's been set high. Let's see if anyone, even Hot Toys, can top it.
Bob - This is quite frankly a grail figure for Hot Toys. The only thing holding it back from perfection is that poorly tailored
long coat, and that frankly is a rather large glitch in an otherwise perfect figure set. Still he looks great in the short coat and, if you have the
previous release, you've already got "long coat Star Lord" (even if the coats are different).
Now if they could just turn out a decent Gamora.
Score Recap (out of ****):
Packaging - Both ****
Sculpting - Both ****
Paint - Both ****
Articulation - Both ***1/2
Accessories - Both ****
Light Feature - MWC ***
Outfit - MWC ****; Bob ***1/2
Fun Factor - Both ****
Value - MWC ***; Bob ***1/2
Overall - MWC ****
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