Platoon - Chris Taylor
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 is taking a look at the new Chris Taylor figure tonight - take it away, Jeff!

What actually remains to be said about Platoon?
It was released way back in 1986 so a lot has already been said!

It was widely critically acclaimed upon its release and has already entered the pantheon of classic Vietnam movies alongside the likes of The Deer Hunter (1978), Apocalypse Now (1979), Hamburger Hill (1987) and Full Metal Jacket (1987). Of course there are numerous others, and though The Deer Hunter preceded Platoon by a full eight years, there is no denying that Oliver Stone’s movie opened the flood gates in telling stories about Vietnam on a much more personal level, focusing on the individual soldiers on the ground, and the experiences that shaped what they became. It also showed the US troops in a far more ambiguous light, dismissing the black and white of good and bad represented in many old school WWII movies, and showing how, when given the opportunity, good men do bad things, and bad men become monsters. Throughout the movie we see Taylor, played by the young Charlie Sheen (the part was first offered to his brother Emilio Estevez but due to production problems and other commitments he had to leave the project… there’s one for the trivia buffs) change from a green rookie on his first tour of duty, into a man who finds himself hardened not only by the war itself, but by the injustice he sees his fellow comrades dole out. It forces him to pick a side, and although he’s shown to be a questionable hero, he picks the right one.

That is the core, the soul of the movie… choices!
From Taylor’s initial misguided and naive choice to put himself in the situation he finds himself in, right through to choosing just who ‘sometimes’ deserves to live or die… because as sad as it is, the world is a better place without some people in it. And Taylor gets rid of one rather spectacularly.

While you watch, you may find your self saying ‘no… don’t do it, don’t fall to that level...’ But when he does, you also feel a sense of brutal justice has been served.
So, although Full Metal Jacket is still my favourite ‘Nam movie (followed closely by The Deer Hunter), I can still say that Platoon left an indelible impression, an impression that has faded with the years, as movies dealing with stories of war get ever more visceral and brutal, but still an impression!

A good few year’s back, Sideshow tackled the Platoon licence and they did a sterling job for the time, giving us Taylor, Barnes, Elias, O’Neil, King, Rhah and Lerner. They were popular to the point that the secondary market prices on eBay got pretty darn hefty. I fear those prices may take a little bit of a battering now, as the new Hot Toys versions of Taylor and Barnes are a quantum leap in terms of overall quality.

Now we just need to hope that they follow through with at least Elias… and rumours of a young Depp as Lerner have been heard as well.

But for now we just have Taylor actually released, and if this represents what will follow, Platoon fans have a lot to celebrate.

Packaging - ****
I love this box, I really do, it has a rough hessian like touch applied by a hefty coat of matte textured varnish over the woven fabric print. The front has images of Taylor alongside the movie logo. Then the right hand side panel lifts on a magnetic strip and unwinds to the left. On the inside of the magnetic strip is a list of production credits and the inside flap has a tray holding his weapons selection. Opposite is the figure and his other accessories. This is a truly old skool military figure box, but the look and feel fit the subject matter perfectly, a beautiful all around package for fans of militaria and the movie alike.

Sculpting - ***3/4
This captures the concerned, quizzical look of the young Taylor almost perfectly. It’s certainly not Hot Toys finest sculpt ever, but once again, when compared to the competition in the world of 1/6th it shows just why they are so firmly placed at the top. This is the work of Song Hye Hyun under the stewardship of JC Hong and the portrait works well in representing the actor, and pretty well at representing the character as well, but it seems better suited to the green rookie Taylor that first arrives in Nam, as opposed to the hardened soldier at the end of the movie. The expression is as I said above quizzical, mouth slightly open as if in surprise, as if he’s yet again observing a situation he’s not comfortable with. But there is also a flash of anger in the eyes, with a stern frown. The fact we have this expression means it lends itself to a lot of poses, which is a good feature for a military figure like this.
We also get two hairstyles for the head; the classic messy, spiky look and the flattened hat-head look for the helmet. I think I can safely say that you wont be displaying the helmet’ hair unless he has his M1 firmly pushed into place. I found that removing the inner helmet and pushing the hair firmly into it, then applying the hair back on top of the head was the best way to get a convincing firm fit. The red bandanna is permanently attached around the head, with the two hairstyles simply lifting on and off with a peg. There is also a selection of five hands, two relaxed, gun grip and knife grip right and finally a general grip left. So, all in all a very competent sculpt, but in the strong competitive field that Hot Toys has created for its artists It’s just short of that elusive full score.

Paint - ****
Whatever happens with the sculpting on a Hot Toys figure you just know that JC Hong will yet again deliver another killer paint app, he’s basically a superstar of the 1/6th world, and rightfully so, he just never lets us down.
The flesh tones are all beautifully rendered, managing to mimic the ingrained grime and dirt on his face. The eyes and mouth details and gentle feathering on the eyebrows is as usual perfect. Nothing much else to report, other than there is absolutely nothing here to find fault with.

Outfit - ****
Hot Toys have a proven track record of making state of the art military figures, its how they got into this whole game in the first place. So you just know that the tailoring and eye for detail will be second to none, and true to their track record it is again.

His basic fatigues consist of two scarves, olive drab tropical combat pants and a combat shirt/jacket. The scaling of fabric and indeed the accuracy of the cut manage to fit the figure perfectly, and both garments have working flapped pockets throughout. Over the shirt he wears his webbing belt with suspender harness to attach the various pouches and equipment to. You need to master a couple of techniques here. There are wire clips that insert into the eyelets on his belt and backpack for the ‘hanging’ items, then there are also sliding pins on the rear of the bigger pouches, these need to be pulled free, you then position the pouch where required and slide the pins back through the two holes to keep it in position. This is a supremely accurate detail, as this is how the issued field equipment would have actually been attached to the belts etc. It’s a fiddly job, but take your time and it can be quite therapeutic.

However, as nice as the uniform is, the standout area for me are the boots, they are of the Vibram soled, mixed media standard jungle issue design, but are replicated beautifully here with a plastic sole and pleather and fabric uppers. Meaning not only do they look spectacular, but they don’t hamper the ankle articulation hardly at all. You’ll need to futz with the laces to look their best, but once done they look pretty amazing. The helmet consists of an inner plastic helmet with the chin strap, this in turn fits inside an outer metal helmet with a camo fabric cover and webbing band holding a stick, yep that’s right, a stick. Why, I don’t know, but its screen accurate so its OK by me.

Articulation - ****
Under the outfit Taylor comes equipped with the classic True Type body design, its still one of the most user friendly base bodies out there. Able to hold convincing natural postures and also still be supremely poseable, with all the classic hi-end joints we expect. I’ve covered it many times in the past but these links will tell you all you need to know here and here and also here, so still the best and most reliable body out there, and perfect for this figure.

Accessories - ****
OK, what do we get… well, we get quite a lot!-
- M19 field rifle
- M72 light anti-tank weapon (LAW)
- Bayonet with sheath
- Machete with sheath
- Two pineapple hand grenades
- Incendiary grenade
- M1 helmet with camouflage cover and a stick
- Necklace, dog tag, neck cords
- Webbing belt + harness for gear
- Compass pouch
- Wrist watch (attached to collar)
- Bracelet
- ARVN rucksack (Army of the Republic of Vietnam)
- Two water canteens with covers
- Claymore mine
- Claymore mine carry satchel
- Carabiner
- Entrenching tool
- Entrenching tool cover
- Figure stand with nameplate and movie logo

When it comes to kitting this guy up its worth re-watching the movie, as the configuration of the gear is pretty specific to Taylor. I did however find some invaluable pics of his kit here- thanks to FC4L for posting those up. It shows accurately how things like the machete should be applied; by pushing it through the top of his Bergen next to his M72 LAW rocket launcher. You can also see some good points of reference in the promo shots that Hot Toys did here- which again help in seeing how the entrenching tool fixes to the back of the Bergen between the pouches. There is also a sheet of green tape that you need to cut into thin strips, then use two of these strips to wrap around the base of the hand guard and on the top of the stock for his M16.

The M16 has a removable magazine, opening dust guard and the bayonet that is also supplied can be slotted into position, you just need to take the flash suppressor off the barrel first. The Claymore all fits snugly into the carry satchel, and although the wire doesn’t fully unwind, the rest all fits together accurately with the main explosive body having positionable legs to stand on and the primer pump clips to the other end, you can see some good reference shots of an actual mine and satchel here, even showing the instructions which are accurately reproduced to scale for the figure.

Likewise the M72 anti-tank gun can be stripped down from carry mode to combat ready, just flip up the front barrel cover, take it off slide the rear section out, flip up the two sights and insert the RPG, job done.

The machete is quite thin and flimsy, but as it remains in the sheath for display that’s no big issue. All the other various elements are well represented and accurately reproduced, and once you’ve spent a relaxing hour of your life just setting everything up and futzing till it all looks ‘just so’ you’ll be a very happy bunny.

Value - ****
After a slew of figures that have left you with little change from $200 it’s nice to have one with an RRP of $149.99, but with a little rooting around you should be able to secure this guy for as little as $134. And for a licensed figure this well put together and loaded with extras that seems like a very good price to me. If you pay the full RRP then I’d maybe give it half a star less. But I expect this figure to become much sought after, especially once Barnes is released.

Fun Factor - ***1/2
This guy poses fantastically due to the fact it’s on an uninhibeted True-Type and his kit all looks beautifully to scale. I sincerely hope Hot Toys follow this figure with a few more essential characters, and if we don’t get Elias it would be a bona fide crime against humanity! The only reason he doesn’t get a full score is that due to the highly detailed nature of his kit, it can mean that when posing you have to futz and reattach elements like the grenades on his belt. But if you are kitting him up just to find your favourite pose, then leave him in it on your shelf, this won’t be a concern.

Overall- ****
I like military figures, and I like military figures from movies even more. I’m no expert, but this guy certainly looks very screen accurate. Just how supremely accurate the gear was in the movie I cant say, but with Oliver Stone being a vet himself, and there being a good number of military experts on hand during filming I would imagine its pretty close. The attention to detail in bringing his kit to life at 1/6th scale is mind bogglingly good, and the price though not cheap is definitely fair. 

It’s an older licence, but still a hot one and if you can pick this guy up for under $135 (doable if you check out Mikes sponsor links) then I have no qualms giving a top score. If you pay full retail then I’d be tempted to knock half a star off, but it’s a great looking figure, and one I sense will sell pretty quickly.

Where to buy
Sideshow have sold out at the RRP of $149.99, but many of Michaels sponsors have him for less anyway.
Alter Ego- $134.99
Urban Collector $133.99
Big Bad Toy Store $144.99
Hollywood Heroes $199.99

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

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