Hawkeye and Nick Fury - The Avengers
Hot Toys

   "The following is a guest review.  The review and photos do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Michael Crawford or Michael's Review of the Week, and are the opinion and work of the guest author."

Jeff Parker stops by tonight to check out a couple more of the cool Avengers figures from Hot Toys - take it away, Jeff!

A big festive thank you to Michael, and lets hope 2013 brings as impressive a crop of figures as 2012 did. Lets also hope 2013 actually happens, it could be all over if those crazy Mayans are right!

So far there have been no big announcements regarding licenses being picked up for any of the planned big movie releases of next year. I’m still hopeful someone will have enough faith in the Hobbit to give it a punt, and with Pacific Rim, The Lone Ranger and more from the likes of Iron Man, Wolverine, Robocop, Thor and Superman himself planned (not forgetting Mike and Sully) it should keep us happy, and also just a little broke!

In the past Hot Toys have had a hit and miss approach to which movies they lavish numerous figures on and those that are lucky if they even get the major players covered. The standout releases in the past few years have been Terminator: Salvation which got an unusually high head count (albeit a little repetitive), The Nolan Batman trilogy got a good cross section of figures, and has the potential to be a slow burner with more being released as exclusives etcetera in the future (c’mon, we all want Ra’s and Alfred at least). And the first two Iron Man movies have had an incredible line-up lavished on them, with every power-suit getting at least one representation and many other figures being made to flesh out the line.

But now we come to The Avengers, and the biggest grossing movie of 2012 looks like it might end up having the most impressive line-up for a single movie to date. We already have releases or announcements for-

Iron Man MK VI
Iron Man MK VII
Nick Fury
Black Widow
Captain America
Chitauri foot soldier
Agent Phil Coulson
And, perhaps most excitingly… THE HULK!

Now they are the first wave, so who’s to say there won’t be more variations of battle damaged versions and some peripheral characters as well… I certainly hope so!

The MK VI was basically a re-release that I already reviewed here, but this time around he came with a different head sculpt for the Stark portrait, but that itself is also a re-use of the one that was supplied with the Mech-Test Tony Stark which I also covered here.  

So right here, right now it is time for another double whammy, looking at both the S.H.I.E.L.D head of operations, Mr Nick Fury, and also the strong-bow wielding sharp shooter of the bunch Mr Clint Barton… Hawkeye to his friends. The ironic thing being that the first two original releases in this line of mighty superheroes aren’t actually superheroes at all. Well, I say that Fury seems to have an uncanny knack of appearing in the closing seconds of virtually every movie I watched at the theatre for the last couple of years… but is that a super power? And Hawkeye, though a mere mortal is able to fill the shoes of Jason Bourne… well almost!

So, lets get down to business, if you are a fan of the movie, and/or the comic books, do the more mortal heroes of our intrepid band of Avengers have the same pulling power as the more… shall we say, super members?

Lets hope I can help you decide!

Packaging - both ***1/4
OK, there is nothing per-se wrong with these boxes. They do their job in protecting the contents from A to B admirably. And I have to say I love the large bold type on the tops and bottoms, which informs us which character lurks within. But I’m sad to announce I find the rest of the packages design just a little lacklustre. It would seem that the whole of team A are going to follow this format, so I better get used to it. I never got the re-released MK VI but his box was the same, as you can see here. What we get is a dot-matrix tinted image, that looks like an old newspaper print blown up till the dots become highly visible. The background tint to Hawkeye’s box is purple while Fury’s is a greenish grey. Both have a silver foil blocked Avengers logo on the front and relevant icon on the sides. The outer sleeve lifts off to show window-fronted boxes within and a list of production credits is on the back.

Within the box the figures lay resting in the usual vac formed trays and everything is very collector friendly.

So, two well constructed and it has to be said well-designed boxes… they just don’t stir my mojo!

Sculpting - Fury ***3/4 - Hawky ***1/2
I fail to understand how anyone with even a basic knowledge of Hollywood actors could fail to see just how striking these two portraits are, and they are both by artists with a very strong track record. The Fury/Jackson portrait is so close to being perfect it’s obscene, but from a front on view the top of his cranium appears just a few percent too big, as if it has been slightly inflated. We are not talking a full on Tefal head (a reference that I’m sure is lost on anyone under 35 who doesn’t live in the UK) but it’s still noticeable enough to distract slightly from the finished portrait. In all other respects this is an amazing piece of work, and the detailing on the skin textures etc is as stunning as always, and he comes with his trademark patch over his scarred and damaged left eye. Fury was the work of master sculptor KoJun, one of the stalwarts of the Hot Toys stable, but the Hawkeye portrait was by KA Kim who is proving herself to be another serious contributor to recent releases. She was the talent behind the whole trio of head sculpts on this years summer convention exclusives. A very talented lady, definitely one to watch!

Here she captures Jeremy Renner with a very focussed and steely glare, but being a man that can pick a fly off of moving dogs nose from 500 meters means his peepers are obviously going to be intense. Unlike Fury who has his trademark baldpate, Hawkeye has a full head of beautifully rendered hair. I’ve often stated that I think KoJun is something of a master when it comes to the more tonsorial related elements of his work, but Kim’s effort is pretty much up their with his.

The rest of the portrait, much like Fury’s, shows just why Hot Toys are so consistently kicking goals. Whilst you may stroke your chin and um and arr over the likeness of some portraits from lesser companies, it’s a very seldom occurrence that you will be in doubt as to who a Hot Toys sculpt is depicting. So even with that slightly oversized forehead on Fury, these are still a stunning pair of portraits and are a great way to kick off the full Avengers line up.

Paint - both ****
So we have two separate sculpts by two talented artists, but the task of bringing them both to life and letting those underlying sculpts truly shine falls as always to the master of Hot Toys paint control, Mr JC Hong (the man who surely never sleeps). Under his watchful eye, his well-trained troop of intrepid painters have delivered two faultless renditions of Renner and Jackson.

Though of different ethnicity, the striking and rich colours of the paint application show a depth and warmth that few companies seem able to match as consistently as Hot Toys. The wet glossy eyes… or eye in the case of Fury, are as crisp and wet looking as always, and catch the light with that unnerving realism that they have become famous for. The skin tones are smooth and even, depicting just the right degree of subtle graduations and skin mottling as to appear like shrunken versions of real people.

All in all I have no complaints in this category, in fact quite the opposite, just a ton of praise! 

Articulation - Fury ***3/4, Hawky ***1/4
Concealed under all those layers of black attire, Fury features an old school True Type body, it’s a base body I’ve covered many times and you can get a breakdown of its joints here. It’s more than up to a great selection of natural looking poses, and though it does now have a number of ‘knock-off’ cheaper detractors, it’s still something of a cornerstone to the whole brand.

The Hawkeye body is also now relatively familiar to most dedicated collectors as it is of the ‘muscle’ design. This was necessitated by his bare arms and skin-tight outfit, and it certainly makes him look buff, but the slight loss of articulation that it incurs snatches away his potential of garnering a higher score in this category. From the waist down all is as good as a regular TT, but the story above the waist is quite different, with the muscle design meaning we lose the double elbows and finely engineered universal joint at the shoulder. It’s still a great looking base figure to replicate human anatomy when the character demands more flesh on show, but you have to temper that with a slight loss of the more extreme poseability!

Accessories - Fury ****, Hawky ***
Old Nicky boy gets by far and away the best haul in this category, with a list that comprises of-

One Airtronic RPG-7
One Smith and Wesson M&P pistol
One Tesseract cube
One armoured case (with light up function)
One ear piece
Twelve hands
One figure stand

The RPG is a nice weighty and substantial piece of kit and has a sliding stock, flip-up targeting sight and a removable rocket. His hand-gun also has the usual sliding cocking mechanism and removable clip. But my fave piece is the light up armoured case, which houses the Tesseract. Just flick on the tiny switch and an internal light illuminates the blue cube with an impressive ethereal glow and the red circuits that radiate away from it also shine quite brightly. It needs some attention when opening it up, as the top division line is well disguised. Just follow the line around from the concealed hinges at the back, force your fingernail into the crack and it pops open. He is also equipped with a tiny communications ear-piece that simply pushes into his ear. I found mine fitted well and stayed in place reasonably securely, far more securely than on the various Resident Evil figures that have also come equipped with similar devices. His selection of hands are split between gloved and ungloved, and have a good spread of poses to both gesture and interact with their chosen accessories.

Lastly he has the requisite black oval figure stand. It is emblazoned with the movie logo and character name and does exactly what it is designed for should you choose to display your figure propped up by it, he does however stand just fine unaided my personal preference!

Hawkeye doesn’t do badly, and although his list looks quite impressive, the amassed pieces, when fully assembled, don’t quite look like they measure up to the sum of their parts. He gets-

One power-bow fully assembled and extended
One power-bow collapsed
One pair of shades
Sixteen arrows
Eleven arrowheads (with different pointy appendages that do different things)
Six extra hands in various positions
One figure stand

Much like Fury, Hawkeye doesn’t need any particular dressing, but you do need to take a bit of time getting his accessories in order. You need to sit patiently and thread all of the arrows into the quiver through grooves in the (non moving, but intended as rotating) discs at the top and bottom of the techno-quiver device, which can line up nicely with the rotating drum at the bottom section that houses the integrated arrowheads (this part actually does rotate). Maybe I’m an old pro, but I found that they all slipped in just fine and without much frustration (but remember I was there at the beginning of the Hot Toys Predator and Colonial Marines line, so a little construction actually puts a smile on my face rather than a scowl of frustration). Once all aligned you have a choice of how to attach the quiver to the figures back. The easiest option is to use the fabric band that fixes like a bandolier over the figures torso and has two easily attached Velcro straps that hold the quiver firmly in place. But the alternate small clip that holds the quiver to a webbing strap on the back of his gilet is much more appealing to me. It can be a little tricky to attach at first, but with a reasonably minimal amount of effort you can get it to clip on just fine, and the final effect is for me far more effective!

In the movie the quiver is in fact attached in both ways, so the choice is yours… I know which I prefer, but the ‘clip’ method can be a little temperamental, and it has to be said that in a combat situation, the strap does make considerably more sense.

The arrowheads built into the quiver are non-removable, but you also get a separate tray housing all of the individual heads that can be pushed onto the separate arrows for action poses. He is also equipped with a rather natty pair of shades, I found that they were a little loose when I first offered them up, but after a blast with a hair-dryer and simply ‘pinching’ them together they fitted and gripped the head just fine.

Like Fury, the 6 hands come in a variety of poses that are designed to be either relaxed, gesturing or to interact with his bow, all are sculpted meticulously and feature his trademark leather archery glove sculpted to the left hands.

Lastly he also comes with a classic black stand, but like Fury it’s not needed to help keep him up, he stands just fine without it.

So to sum up, both have a fine selection and the quality of construction on all is finely crafted, but Fury manages to pull ahead in this category because of his bigger haul, and that groovy light-up case!

Outfit - both ****

These guys are wearing distinctly different outfits, but its to the costume designers credit that they still look like members of the same team. This is down to the choices of fabric used, and is inherently represented in the tailoring, and the way the designs utilise multiple seams, panels, zippers and pads. Although not as ‘real world’ as Nolan’s characters in the Batman trilogy, they still appear far more grounded in a cross between performance sports wear and military fatigues than the primary coloured, spandex onesies of yore.

Being an archer, Hawkeye’s arms are kept bare, but for the arm protector strapped to his right arm (though the fact he needs two makes one wonder just how good he actually is). His outfit consists of very cool assault boots, an intricately designed pair of trousers with straps and buckles and an equally complex skin-tight gilet. Both of these garments look like they could prove challenging to replicate at full size, but at this diminutive scale they must have been a pattern cutters nightmare!

However, Hot Toys, or more importantly May (credited on the box) has managed to pull of the feat of making this intricate outfit look pretty stunning, There is one word of warning on the instructions, that if you plan any extreme movement at the waist, you must remember to unclip the panels that overlap on the front of his gilet down onto the trousers, you have been warned!

Fury’s outfit is also quite complex, tailored here by Mr Tsang, but his boot, trousers and shirt combo are also accompanied by a rather natty long overcoat. Unlike Hawkeye’s ensemble which featured a flash of maroon/red on his top half, Fury sticks to a tried and tested all black and bad-ass approach to colour mixing. Showing that although he has taken on this season’s love of layering, he has left the colour clash palette well alone!

So, like Hawkeye he sports a pair of sturdy combat boots, though it is of course worthy of mention that none of their garments are re-uses or even vaguely the same. However, the multi seamed and complex nature of the way Hawkeye’s clothes were constructed is once again evident on Fury’s here. And though not quite as intricate in the way some of the tailoring is fabricated, it’s not that far off. It makes you realise how in an alternate universe, the New Goblin’s outfit, reviewed here) could very much slip in as a member of the team, based solely on outfit design. His boots are also achingly cool and his trousers feature some nicely observed cut panels with contrasting fabric helping to pick out these details. His shirt has a two-tone (albeit two tones of black) finish and unlike Hawkeye’s it goes down to his wrists. The various panels here are made of fake leather, nylon, ribbed and jersey cotton, with a zip up front panel and clip fronted belt. His moulded plastic holster has webbing straps that need to be threaded over this belt and clipped around his leg.

His overcoat is long and sweeping, and in the absence of a cape (a sartorial embellishment kept only for the ex pats of Asgard in this movie) it helps add a certain gravitas to Fury’s position as head of operations. It’s a garment that in recent years has become something of a cliché, sported by disenfranchised youths all over the globe, be they EMO, Goth or undertaker, but somehow Samuel S Jackson manages to not just to carry it off, but to make it look… well, bad-ass! It also features some nice design flourishes on features like the leather panels on the arms and the thin wire running through its hem also aids greatly in how you can pose it.

All in all these are two very cool outfits, and having them standing together, it has me excited about seeing the full Avenger line-up take shape. I’m strangely eager to see agent Coulson join the crew… but when the big green guy finally shows up, the assembled ranks will no doubt look pretty awesome!

Value - Fury ***1/2, Hawky ***
On the face of it these two come equipped with all they need, but the thing in favour of Fury is that he needed just a little more. Where as Hawkeye travels light, and wont sully himself with high calibre firearms, Fury has no such qualms. Meaning his impressive arsenal and indeed his more layered outfit manage to push him ahead by just a nose. That’s not to say that Fury’s outfit is any better that Hawkeye’s, but the fact of the matter is that he comes with a coat… Hawkeye doesn’t and he also comes with an RPG, pistol and the Tesseract in a shiny armoured case, where as Hawkeye just has a couple of power-bows (basically the same bow but in the collapsed and open positions), a techno quiver and a selection of über arrows. That said, the attention detail on the quiver is quite spectacular.

In short, everything is as it should be, and both sets have all the requisite pieces for a great looking figure when displayed on the shelf, but Fury’s added extras make him feel like a slightly better deal!

Fun Factor - Fury ***3/4, Hawky ***1/2
For me the actioneering abilities of Hawkeye should have pushed him to the front in this category, but they end up level pegging. The reason being that Hawkeye’s body just can’t quite pull off some of the more extreme poses that he needs to. The big bug-bear here is his lack of a double elbow, and the slightly hampered mobility at the shoulder. For some figures the impact of this wouldn’t be so great, but for a figure that is meant to be a master archer it can prove problematic. It means for example he can’t close his elbow enough to get a tight drawing back motion on the bow. A problem that was even worse on the Abigail Whistler figure (reviewed here). I don’t mean to alarm people unduly, as you will find a great many poses he can achieve just fine, but be aware that patience and ingenuity will help you find his best stances.

The thing Fury has to keep him shoulder to shoulder with his younger more dynamic comrade is his cool haul of extras. Give any figure an RPG and it boosts their cool factor quite a bit, but couple it with an armoured case to carry a source of unparalleled energy… that also lights up, and you have a recipe for success. Yes I know Red Skull also came with a Tesseract, but his wasn’t housed in such a glorious holdall.

Overall- both ***3/4
Hot Toys seem to have played their usual game of releasing the figures from the movie in almost reverse order of how popular they will be to your average punter. Keeping all the true super heroes to be released later down the line (OK, I know Agent Coulson goes against that credo, but I have a feeling the Avengers line has pre-ordered so well that they decided to pitch us a curve ball and see how he fares, and I suspect it may be surprisingly well)

Both the sculpts are impressive without being 100% perfect, but the overall look when posed on the shelf makes both 100% recognisable as the characters they represent. For me I find Fury a slightly more enjoyable figure to own, but the differences are so slight as to be almost moot, meaning both come within a gnats whisker of that full score.

Where to Buy -
It would seem these two have proved popular as Sideshow have sold out of both Nick Fury and Hawkeye, who both had an RRP of $189.99  BBTS have also sold out where both were listed at over $250…

Your best and indeed worst chance of picking these up is of course eBay, where dealers are asking for between $230 right up to $360 for Hawkeye and $250 to $299 for Fury.

This product was provided for the review by the reviewer. Photos and text by Jeff Parker.

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