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As you read this, Toy Fair 2017 is taking place in New York City. There's lots of exciting news coming out from companies like Hasbro, Mattel, NECA, and others, but it's been Mezco Toyz that's got me buzzing. Their One:12 Collective series had a great 2016, and finished up the year by winning the Poppies Award for Best Overall Line - High End and Best Male Figure 5 - 11". They have a ton of new announcements, including their first female, and 2017 is shaping up to be another excellent year for the series.
A grand tradition of Toy Fair is the exclusive - companies have been doing them for decades. It was particularly prevalent with die cast collectibles like Hot Wheels or Corgi, but as action figures became more collectible, the ritual made the leap. Companies like Palisades did some terrific Toy Fair exclusives back in the day, and Mezco has created them for years for a variety of their licenses. For the last three years, they have produced a Toy Fair exclusive based on the One:12 Collective series: in 2015, it was the black and white Dark Knight Returns Batman; in 2016 it was the simplified Mr. Spock; and for 2017, it's half of tonight's review, a slightly re-decoed Punisher.
I'm also looking at the regular Punisher tonight, who is currently shipping and will run you around $80. Getting the Toy Fair version is much trickier, since they are only handed out to media and retail reps at Toy Fair, a closed event. They are NOT available for sale. However, they will start popping up on ebay - have no doubt about that. There's another version currently up for pre-order at various online stores, which is a Previews Exclusive. This one is much more expensive, but comes packed with even more extras, if you can believe that. He'll run you $130 - and yes, he comes with that many additional extras!
I want to take a minute to discuss this line, and the nature of pre-ordering. As I created the Where to Buy section for the regular release Punisher, it became clear that these are going to be tough to get. The Punisher is sold out just about every where, and many of the other still to ship figures are already selling out on pre-order. Mezco depends on pre-orders to determine the proper quantities to produce, since as a small company, they can't be stuck with a ton of stock. Early pre-orders help determine the final production numbers, but it also means that if you don't pre-order, you may very well be out of luck, at least at regular retail price.
This situation isn't quite as bad with a character like Punisher, I suppose, since he can stand on his own. Hey, he looks even better when you have him next to other Marvel characters like Daredevil and Wolverine (both available to pre-order now), but he can be a solitary figure as well. The situation is worse with licenses like Star Trek, where I hear things like "Well, I'm not going to buy Kirk and Spock until I'm sure they are making McCoy". Of course, that's a self fulfilling prophecy - if enough people take that attitude, they'll never make McCoy. Why would they when the didn't sell enough Kirk's and Spock's? If you want them to make the whole bridge crew - or more Universal Monsters, or more DKR, etc. etc. etc. - then buy the ones they make. Pre-orders and past sales are the only way they can judge real demand, and it's the only way to make your desires heard.
The other upside to pre-ordering - you'll get the figures you want. If you didn't pre-order Punisher, and then you see this review and say to
yourself "man, I want that Punisher", you may find yourself up a creek without a paddle. Or at least, paying much higher secondary market
prices. There's no down side to pre-ordering, since you can always cancel in advance if something comes up (and you should always shop with a
retailer that allows you to). I know people who regularly waste money because they wait until a figure is released before buying it, and are forced
to get it on the secondary market. Pre-order, baby!
Packaging - ***1/2
The boxes are very sturdy, made from heavier card stock than most current packaging on the market. The outer slip cover has the standard logo, and while it's all pretty basic black and white, the design looks great. The interior is completely collector friendly, and they've even moved away from the sticky tape-like coverings on the smaller accessories. Instead the trays fit nice and tight, holding everything safe and sound.
The Toy Fair exclusive version includes a gold sticker on the front of the box that says "Mezco Exclusive", and actually comes in a loose plastic
bag that also has a silver sticker saying "Mezco Direct Exclusive".
Sculpting - ****
The first and foremost fact that must be taken into consideration with these figures is the scale - remember, these are only 1/12, not 1/9 or 1/8 or 1/6. The Punisher stands just under 6 1/2" tall, about the same size as the average Marvel Legends figure. I've included a shot of the Punisher with a Star Wars Black trooper and an ML Nick Fury toward the end of the review, and you can also use the LifeSizer feature above to see exactly how big he really is.
With every Punisher, regular, PX, or Toy Fair, there are three head sculpts. Three! He comes wearing the standard, grizzled, tough guy portrait, with slick back hair, scars, and plenty of attitude.The scars are sculpted, not just painted, and there's a fine texture to the skin that's truly impressive at this scale. Look at the bags under the eyes, the wrinkling in the forehead, the lines in the cheeks and jaw - this would be a great looking comic based head sculpt at twice the size. Here it's outright amazing.
The other two heads are just as good, but with more emotion. One still has the neat, smoothed hair, but is screaming in rage as he flies into battle. The wrinkles and lines in the face that we see in the stoic portrait are slightly exaggerated in this more emotional portrait, giving him a dynamic, wild look. The teeth are nicely defined, and the tongue is extremely realistic. If I had one nit on these two portraits, it would be in the stranding on the hair, where it could be a little finer. But again, you have to consider the scale, and the work here is outstanding for such a tiny head sculpt.
The third portrait provides the proof that my whine about the hair has some validity. Here the hair does have the sort of amazballs detail that I love, and they've disheveled it a bit. Frank is having a rough day, with a bandaged nose, swollen right eye, and a few new scars added to the collection. His mouth is open, but just slightly, in the sort of snarl that indicates the fight isn't over yet. Even with this tiny opening on a tiny portrait, you can see the teeth, sculpted cleanly just inside the lips.
There's additional sculpting work here of course, with various hands in proper scale and different poses, as well as some amazing work on the torso
armor, belt, and boots. There's lots of texture, lots of small detail, and lots of realism you don't normally see in a 6 - 7" figure.
Paint - ****
When Mezco started developing this series, they wanted to bring the sort of quality we see in high end sixth scale figures to the much smaller world of 1:12. To do that required fantastic paint work - without it, they'd always fall short.
I have to say that I can't imagine them doing it any better. I've used the bruised portrait as my example below, but all three are outstanding. The skin isn't painted, but cast in the base color, and the material allows this color to seem slightly translucent, adding a realistic depth to the surface. Details are fantastic - just look at how clean and realistic the bandage is on his nose! Even the five o'clock shadow, a tough look to pull off at twice this scale, looks just about perfect.
They also added touches like painting the hairs down onto the forehead slightly at the hair line, which is obvious in macro photos, but looks terrific in hand, creating a much more realistic edge. Each of the scars is individually painted, and the eyes are sharp, clean, and straight.
The open mouth portrait has perfectly painted teeth, with no gloppiness or slop, and a wet, realistic tongue. I simply can't say enough good things about the paint work on this figure, and it's a step up even from what we've seen on previous releases, thanks to all the additional details that were required.
The paint on the rest of the figure is just as good. Tiny details on the boots look great, and the belt and chest plate on the standard version has some amazing wear and damage added to what's already provided by the sculpt. The white look on the standard release has added dirt and abrasions, and a dry brushing on the belt and pouches brings out the details.
This is the one and only area where the regular version and the Toy Fair release varies - the paint work on the chest armor and belt. The Toy Fair release has an all black skull, with far less wear on the belt. Everything else - sculpt, portraits, outfit, accessories - is identical between the two releases.
Articulation - ***1/2
The underlying base body that Mezco developed is extremely well articulated, and the design allows for fluid, natural stances.
The ball jointed neck works great here, and the heads swap easily. You can get plenty of tilt and lean action, and this critical joint will make every pose more realistic.
The shoulders can look a little...round...in a tight fitting outfit like this, but that's a minor nit. The arms, from the shoulder to the bicep to the elbow to the wrist - have enough articulation with enough range of movement to manage just about any weapon pose, including good two handed rifle poses. The hips were stuck on one of the two figures, but I was able to pop them free with a little effort, and the figure can take deep stances quite easily and maintain them.
The ankles could be a little better, with a little more side to side and front to back movement, but the boot sculpt makes that difficult. The boot itself is also articulated at the top, with the pants permanently tucked in. That's quite helpful, since I didn't have to worry about them coming loose or untucked as I was working with the various leg poses.
The waist and chest are a little restricted thanks to the armored vest and belt, but you'll still get a million great looking, natural poses out of this guy.
Accessories - ****
This guy is loaded, and both versions have all the same accessories.
I already discussed in great detail the two additional portraits that go with the standard head. Regular readers know how much I like getting second - and third - heads with a figure, so these boost the score way up right out of the gate. They swap easily, but don't fall off when posing.
There's also an additional 3 sets of hands to augment the fists he comes wearing. There's a set of gun grips, a set of clutching hands, a medium grip left, and a 'karate chop' right. Like the head, these swap quite easily but stay in place when posing.
Of course, everything else is about the weapons. He starts out with a large knife, very sturdy and solid, so that it won't bend or wilt. It can slip inside the sheath on the back of his belt, a perfect fit.
I don't think it was originally mentioned in the marketing info when pre-orders first went up, but they also included a cool fire effect that can attach to any of the four guns. The post is pretty sturdy, but you'll still want to take a little care when inserting it into the barrel.
As I mentioned, there's four guns, and each of these guns has additional ammunition. There's his small 1911 handgun, with a magazine already loaded and an extra on the side. Then there's his MP-5 machine gun, also with one magazine in place and a second just in case. Of course there's also a full sized rifle, and once again, two magazines of ammo. Finally, there's a Mikkor grenade launcher, with a folding stock and an swing out cylinder. You can load it with the six grenades provided.
That's a lot of firepower, and he can pose with any one or two of the guns quite convincingly. I was a little surprised that there's not a holster for the 1911, but it's certainly not a major issue.
Last but not least is his display stand. The base is basic black with the Punisher logo, and they've included the clear waist grabber post as well. And don't forget, they always provide a ziplock baggie to store all these cool accessories.
Outfit - ***1/2
The outfit consists of the pants, boots, shirt, belt, and chest armor. I've already discussed various pieces in earlier categories, but here is where it all comes together.
The tight fitting shirt has elbows patches included - how cool is that? The sleeves are long enough to cover the arms and wrists even in bent arm poses, or you can pull them up to show off his beefy forearms.
The pants are made from a regular fabric, like actual pants - no goofy spandex for Frank. As I mentioned earlier, they are permanently attached inside the boots. I don't know what would happen if you popped the boots off the end of the legs...and I'm not trying it either. I'm happy with the look as it is.
The belt is a tight fit around the waist, which leads to the only real issue with the costume. The torso armor tends to ride up on his body, causing gaps at the shoulder straps. In person, because of the small scale, it's hardly noticeable, but in macro photos the gap can be easier to see. The issue is the belt, which is a tight fit. The straps and back of the armor have to be pushed down behind the belt - if they ride up on top of the belt, it pushes up the shoulders. Get them down behind the belt, and you get a tighter fit, as you can see in the photo below. They will still want to ride up when you're posing him, but you can work them back down into place again.
Fun Factor - ****
Great posability, fantastic sculpt and paint, and an amazing array of accessories - this is a really fun figure to work with. With three different portraits showing very different moods, you can really experiment with just the right look in your display.
Value - **1/2
When it comes to 1/12 scale figures, eighty bucks isn't cheap. It's not all that far off the prices being charged for some Japanese imports, but it's still not cheap. But with three head sculpts, four guns, fantastic sculpts, excellent paint, and lots of other exceptional features, these guys are worth the price they are charging.
Of course, this category only counts for the normal release - I have no idea what secondary market prices will end up being on the Toy Fair
version. Thankfully, he isn't a lot different than the standard version, and the differences aren't critical to your collection.
Things to Watch Out For -
I'd be mindful when inserting the flame effect into the barrel of any of the four guns. It worked smoothly enough, but you still don't want to force it, rush it, or get it going in on an angle.
Other than that, you should be good to go. This is a very sturdy figure, and I had no fears of breakage or damage when I was working with either version.
Overall - ****
About two years ago, I reviewed the first of the new One:12 Collective figures from Mezco. I was really looking forward to the line, with great hopes for what they could produce and what new ground they could break in this scale. Fast forward 23 months, and the line is everything I hoped it would be. The quality is amazing, and I'm in for every character they decide to produce.
I have heard others complain that these comic releases aren't 'like the comics'. They often say "I'd buy them if they looked like they did in the comic books'. My question is, which look? Mezco is producing their own versions, with traditional touches and modern additions. It's no different than a new artist working on the character in the books - they all look a little different. If they didn't, the Batman Black and White statue series would have ended after one statue. Sometimes you'll like these changes, sometimes you won't, but I appreciate the overall aesthetic that Mezco is using, and can't fault them for their design decisions so far.
Except for Wolverine's bike shorts. I'm still not sold.
Score Recap (out of ****):
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpting - ****
Paint - ****
Articulation - ***1/2
Accessories - ****
Outfit - ***1/2
Fun Factor - ****
Value - **1/2
Overall - ****
Where to Buy
Online options include these site sponsors:
- Entertainment Earth is sold out of the regular version, but still has the Previews exclusive (with a buttload of extras) for $130.
- you can also always order direct from the Mezco online store, but like many other places, the Punisher is already sold out.
- or you can search ebay for a deal, which is really your only option for the all black Toy Fair release.
Related Links -
Just last week I checked out their new Green Arrow, and prior to that I reviewed the Frankenstein Monster Diorama, Frankenstein Monster, the BvS Batman, the Bvs Armored Batman, Captain America, Star Trek Kirk, the Mirror, Mirror and Cage variants of Spock, Sulu, the Toy Fair exclusive Spock, and the regular release Spock as well. Other One:12 Collective figures released so far include Dredd and his Lawmaster, the NYCC exclusive Judge Dredd, the DKR Batman and Mutant two pack, the Batman exclusives, and the initial DKR Batman.
You should also hit the Search Reviews page, in case any other applicable reviews were done after this one was published.
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