Pirates of the Caribbean
The Disney Version

Long before Johnny Depp was an actor, there was the Pirates of the Caribbean.  This Disney attraction opened in 1967, and has been one of the most popular rides throughout Disney's history.  It was also the last one that Walt himself was involved with.

There have been movie figures of course, but now Disney has released a series of figures based on the actual attraction.

These figures are at the Disney park stores, and retail for about $12 each.  I'm reviewing two tonight - The Captain and The Lady In Red.  At least I think that's what they called her, since I tossed the packaging before writing the review.

These characters are both interesting choices.  The Captain was a 'showcase' sort of animatronic character because of his visibility in the ride, and many of the experiments in making them more lifelike were tried out on him first.

The Lady in Red comes from one of the more non-PC sections of the ride (although in recent years both the dialog and actions of the pirates has been 'cleaned' up), the wench sale.

The ride is currently closed for remodeling, and is slated to open about the same time as the release of the second film.  Word on the street is that there will be two new animatronic characters to watch for - Jack Sparrow and Barbarosa!

Packaging -  **
These packages have the same issue I have with most of the Disney specific lines - they are simply way oversized.  It's done to be cute, and the skull and crossbones design is cool, but at the expense of space and the environment.

As an interesting side note on the skeletons in the ride - they didn't have plastic life like skeletons back in the 60's, and so they used the real thing, which were sold as research skeletons.  Many of the originals are still in use today in the ride.

Sculpting - **1/2
This is a tough call, although on first inspection you might think a poor score is obvious.

But these figures aren't designed to look like real people, they are designed to look the animatronic characters at the attraction.  These are characters built originally almost 40 years ago, and sport a design and style of that period.  It wouldn't have really made much sense to make these figures look more modern or realistic, since that's not what they are trying to resemble.

Even with that being said, there's a lot less detail here than you expect at this price point.  They do look like the characters, but lack many of the specialty market touches, like texture on the clothing, small details sculpted into the body, and the attention to small features that makes a specialty market figure stand out over a mass market one.

And these are most certainly specialty market.  These are designed primarily for nostalgia, although some kids who enjoy the ride will also enjoy these.

Of the two, I prefer the Captain's sculpt.  His face does have some personality, and there's more detail in his hair and beard than in other areas of either sculpt.

The lady lacks that sort of detail, especially in the face, and ends up looking very zombie like. There's almost no detail in her dress, although the sculpted stockings are a nice touch.  Neither hat is removable, which was a bit of a disappointment.

Scale is between 6 and 7 inches, but they are a little more bulky and chunky than many other figures in this range.  Both figures stand great on their own, and have hands sculpted to hold various accessories.

Paint - **1/2
The paint ops are fairly clean and consistent, but not without their issues.

There's a fair amount of wash used on the Captain's body, which doesn't work particularly well, since there's not a lot of detail to catch it.  Some of the smaller details are a tad sloppy, and just as there's no use of the sculpt to differentiate between 'materials', there's no difference in finish either.

The skin tone on the Lady is a little inconsistent, but the red of her dress and hair doesn't suffer from that problem.  Again, everything is the same finish, and the paint work does nothing to alter the zombie appearance.

Articulation - ***
The articulation is surprising good, considering some past efforts from Disney.  They really have made quite a bit of progress with their in-house toys over the last year or so.

The Lady has a neck joint, which might even be a ball joint.  But it's relatively moot, since the hair makes turning the head in any direction almost impossible.

She also has ball jointed shoulders (which work quite well) and hips (which don't work quite as well due to the stiff skirt.  There's pin elbows and knees, along with cut wrists and waist.  That's more than I expected from the figure when I saw her in the package, but the neck joint is a bit disappointing.

The Captain suffers from the same neck issues, and between the beard and the hair, there's no turning the head.  However, he's got great ball jointed shoulders, reasonably decent ball jointed hips (they're a little restricted, but do have some lateral movement), pin elbows and knees, and a cut waist and cut wrists.  You can get him to hold quite a few poses, and the joints are solid and tight.

Accessories - ***1/2
Neither figure is short in this category, and both sport plenty of goodies.

Both figures have a fairly detailed base, taken right from the ride.  Both have several pieces, like the cannon, cannon balls, and mast on the Captain's base.  Both bases do seem a little small, scale wise, but not so much as to ruin the appearance.  Both of them have much more detail and realism than the figures themselves.

The Captain also has a sword, telescope, two flintlock pistols, knife and tankard.  All look great, and fit in his hands nicely.

The Lady comes with detachable pieces, like the lantern and barrel, along with a tankard, rope, knife, pistol, musket, and a little red purse.

That's a ton of stuff, and it all fits in nicely with the ride itself.  This is easily the best feature of the figures themselves.

Value - **1/2
Surprisingly, the price isn't too bad - $12 each.  Let's remember, this is the Disney store at the park, where you'll pay $10 for a hot dog.  This price point actually matches up pretty well with the general specialty market, and these figures are outfitted with enough accessories to make it palatable.

Fun Factor - ***
Your kids may not like the character designs, but there's no doubt that the cool accessories and solid articulation make these quite a bit of fun.  And with pirates all the rage right now, you could do a whole lot worse.

Things to watch out for - 
Not a thing really, other than keeping track of some of those tiny accessories.

Overall -  **1/2
You know, this was a weird review for me.  When I sat down to write it, I was sure I was going to rag on these guys.  I was already to tear them up, and figured they'd be lucky to get **1/2 overall by the time I was done.

And yet, once my kids and I started to play around with them, they started to grow on me.  They still ended up at **1/2, but it's damn close to ***.  The sculpted on hats hurt my overall score, as did the issues I had with the paint.

The real key here is whether you have any sort of nostalgia for the old ride or not.  If you couldn't care less about the ride, then these will look like poorly sculpted figures, with little to interest you.  But if you appreciate the nostalgia of the line, then you might enjoy these quite a bit.  These aren't at the level of quality of the recent Disney Heroes in terms of sculpt and paint, but they still have a few things going for them, and show a definite improvement over the Disney action figures of a couple years ago.

Packaging - **
Sculpt - **1/2
Paint - **1/2
Articulation - ***
Accessories - ***1/2
Fun Factor - ***
Value - **1/2
Overall -  **1/2

Where to Buy -
You best hit Disneyland or Disney World!

Related Links:
Let's not forget that there's some pretty cool movie toys out there from NECA, including the 18" Jack Sparrow, and the first series of smaller figures.

And if you like Pirates in general, check out the Mez-itz Pirates, the Mega-bloks, or if you're looking for a more realistic pirate, how about Blackbeard from Sideshow?

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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