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Carl Fredricksen and Russell from Up
Hot Toys Vinyl Figures

Up Carl Fredricksenn and Russell vinyl figures from Hot Toys


Pixar has yet to truly fail, an amazing feat by any standard. They've had better films and worse films, but compared to other companies in their market, they always seem to raise the bar then make the jump seem effortless.

For 2009, their hit was Up, the wonderful story of Carl Fredricksen and Russell the Wilderness Explorer. Like Remy in Ratatouille, Carl was an unlikely hero for an animated film. Old, crotchety and alone, his archetype is more often the unintentional threat (Home Alone, Monster House) than the main character.

But Pixar likes to take risks and break boundaries, and Up was another of their almost perfect films. Other studios, directors and writers will only dream of creating as touching of a sequence in their entire careers as Pixar did with the first ten minutes of this film.

But Pixar's movies tend to not lend themselves too well to selling crap, with the exception of the Toy Story movies and of course, Cars. Instead of creating art with an eye on merchandising, they create art for art's sake.
Up Carl Fredricksenn and Russell vinyl figures from Hot Toys
Up Carl Fredricksenn and Russell vinyl figures from Hot Toys
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Up Carl Fredricksenn and Russell vinyl figures from Hot Toys
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Up Carl Fredricksenn and Russell vinyl figures from Hot Toys
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Up Carl Fredricksenn and Russell vinyl figures from Hot Toys
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Up Carl Fredricksenn and Russell vinyl figures from Hot Toys
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Up Carl Fredricksenn and Russell vinyl figures from Hot Toys
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Up Carl Fredricksenn and Russell vinyl figures from Hot Toys
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Up Carl Fredricksenn and Russell vinyl figures from Hot Toys
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Up Carl Fredricksenn and Russell vinyl figures from Hot Toys
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Up Carl Fredricksenn and Russell vinyl figures from Hot Toys

That means we haven't seen much in the way of Up merchandise, but Hot Toys has saved the day. They've just released their vinyl figures of Carl and Russell, which retail for around $65. If that's outside your price range, they've also produced a pair of Cosbabies, although that style isn't as true to the on screen appearance of the characters.

Packaging - ***1/2
Great packages is one of Hot Toys many strong suits. Here we get terrific boxes that include various graphically elements from the movie, but done in the style of the retro posters and flashback scenes.

Not only are the boxes collector friendly, but Hot Toys makes you actually WANT to destroy them. Why? Because they give you a cool backdrop of the Peru landscape, including a 3-D effect with the balloon and house. Yea, it's hard to explain, but I'll show you in the photos.

Russell comes with a metric ton of stickers, and the instructions for putting them on are decent enough. Be prepared for some real effort though!

I did deduct a half star here, because my Russell arrived with his red flag broken off at the pole. I had to re-glue it, and I think that the interior plastic trays probably don't hold him tightly enough in transit. Hopefully it was just a fluke, but it's something to watch for.

Sculpting - Carl ****; Russell ***1/2
The likenesses on both are outstanding, and they really do look like they just stepped off the screen. Until some day someone does high quality maquettes, these are going to be the most screen accurate representations we get.

Carl is just about perfect. From the twill texture of his coat to the finely sculpted hair, he looks as grumpy and pragmatic as always. The glasses are perfectly scaled, and his body proportions all match the on screen version. Some folks think that animated characters, because they are simpler in design, are simpler to capture in plastic. That couldn't be further from the truth, since the translation from 2-D to 3-D is extremely complex. It helps of course that these are CGI characters, who have greater visual depth on screen, than something like South Park or the Simpsons, but it's still no easy task. Hot Toys has done it just about perfect.

Russell is also exceptional, although I did deduct slightly for the hair, and for some of the softness of the sculpted gear. The hair looks a smidge off to me, although I can't quite put my finger on what it is about it that's throwing me. And some of the gear is quite bland, reminding me on first inspection of the old Playmates Simpsons World of Springfield accessories. Considering that they were $5 toys, that's not a good thing.

I do like that every button is sculpted and raised above the bandoleer, making it quite a bit easier to apply the tiny stickers.

Carl stands great on his own, but there's no way Russel was going to pull off the same trick. Hot Toys provided a clear display stand that attaches to a clear peg on the bottom of his pack, giving him the extra support he needs.

Paint - Carl ****; Russell ***
Carl's paint job is nearly spot on, with perfect eyes, great skin tone, and fantastic hair. Every little details is well done, right down to the soda bottle top button he was given by his wife.

Russell's paint job isn't quite as neat and clean as I was expecting. The work on his face is great, with sharp eyes, even skin tone, and nice definition on the teeth and eyebrows.

But the various items on his pack are all different colors, and the cut lines between them are often sloppy and inconsistent.

Russell also has a TON of stickers. In the first photo of him, you'll see him wearing the little paper bandoleer he comes with. You remove that, and then apply an itty bitty sticker to every badge yourself. That's almost 50 stickers right there!

On the sheet you can see that all the badges are fully printed, but they aren't fully visible on the figure. I was a bit worried about that until I started to remove those key stickers, and found that they'd been die cut at the right spot to fit on the figure properly. Well, all of them except two, unfortunately. Those two only had very small areas that should have been cut off, however, so it wasn't as major of an issue as it could have been with some of the other badges.

There's another 10 stickers of various sizes that fit on his uniform and camping gear. These went on pretty easily, but the ones attached to curved areas - the flag, the cup, the flashlight - are still trying to pop up and come loose. I'll have to keep an eye on them, and I'd suggest you do the same.

They do give you two full sets of the stickers, allowing for the off chance you botch one up, or one comes loose and you loose it in the future.

Articulation - *
As vinyl toys, I wasn't expecting any articulation, so these figures won't get hit hard on this category when it comes time to figure the overall rating. But your expectations may be different, so it's worth discussing.

Russell has a cut neck, a cut left elbow (at the sleeve) and a cut right shoulder. None of these have much range of movement, and they are really just there to slightly adjust the one standard pose.

The same is true for Carl, who has two points - his left elbow and wrist. This allows you to get the cane in just the right spot, so it rest properly on the floor while being held in his hand.

Accessories - Carl **1/2; Russell *
Like Articulation, I wasn't expecting much in the way of accessories, but there are a couple things I think they could have added.

Carl has his can with the four tips, each tip covered with a tennis ball. These are not removable, and I wish they'd done a bit better with the texturing and shaping on them. As they stand, they look a bit more like pieces of fruit than tennis balls.

Still, it fits perfectly in his hand and is just the right size to work with the figure.

Russell has plenty of permanently sculpted items on his body, but nothing that you attach or can remove, with the exception of the small plastic display stand in back. However, if you remove it, he won't be able to stay upright.

They both do have the cardboard diorama pieces though, and these are surprisingly nice. They are made from a very heavy cardboard, much heavier than normally used for the cardboard trays. The instructions say they can be joined together, but that's only possible if you used some tape or some other connecting material yourself. They can sit next to each other though, and by adding in the small balloon/house piece, you get a 3-D backdrop for them.

Fun Factor - **1/2
These aren't exactly something kids would play with, but older kids that enjoyed the movie would appreciate the aesthetic quality.

Value - **
At $65 each, these aren't cheap. But since the Muggs disappeared, there isn't much vinyl that is. I'm not thrilled about the price point though, considering the lack of extras. You do get Hot Toys usual level of sculpting and paint, but you're certainly paying a premium.

Things to Watch Out For -
Give yourself plenty of time to put Russell's stickers in place. You want to do the best job possible of course, to add to his appearance rather than detract from it. I started at the bottom end of his bandoleer and worked my way up, and I recommend doing it that way. That's because the lower ones are complete, full circles without anything in the way. As you get toward the top shoulder, they get smaller and harder to work with. By starting with the easier ones, you'll have the hang of it before you tackle the tough ones.

And if there's any pieces floating around loose inside Russell's package, know that it's not supposed to be that way, and that means something is broken.

Overall - Carl ***1/2; Russell ***
I have my minor quibbles with these two guys, but it's also important to say that I'm thrilled to have them. I love all the Pixar flicks, but too often we never get great, high end representations of the main characters. Gentle Giant helped a bit with that when they released some maquettes, but sadly, it doesn't look like that line will continue. 

Medicom has produced some nice vinyl figures of Sulley, as well as upcoming Toy Story VCD's. This pair from Hot Toys should fit in nicely with the burgeoning collection.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpting - Carl ****; Russell ***1/2
Paint - Carl ****; Russell ***
Articulation - *
Accessories - Carl **1/2; Russell *
Fun Factor - **1/2
Value - **
Overall - Carl ***1/2; Russell ***

Where to Buy -
Online options include these site sponsors:

- Sideshow had both but you'll need to get on the waitlist for Carl and Russell now. They are $65 each. They are also selling the cosbaby set.

- Big Bad Toy Store has them for $63, and the cosbaby set for just $15.

- or you can hit ebay searching for a deal.

Related Links -
I haven't reviewed any other Up merchandise, largely because there's not a whole lot out there yet. That makes these vinyl figures all the more likely to dry up fast. I have to say though, that I really wish Gentle Giant was doing maquettes of these two, like they did for Wall-E, Bolt and Remy.

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Up Carl Fredricksenn and Russell vinyl figures from Hot Toys


This product was purchased for the review by the reviewer. Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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