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Hades
Percy Jackson and the Olympians

Hades Percy Jackson action figure by Jazwares


The new film Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief opened over Valentine's weekend, bringing with it a set of 3 3/4" action figures and various other play sets, mini-figures and sets, and general brick-a-brac. In other words, the usual.

The film is based on the popular series of adventure books written by Rick Riordan. In the books, Percy gets himself some real world experience with ancient Greek mythology when he learns that not only was it all true, but the Greek Gods and other creatures still exist. In fact, he's the son of Poseidon, and the offspring of the other deities exist as well.

The first film follows the first book - the Lightning Thief. The film has pulled in almost 60 million already, and if the next couple weeks remain fairly strong, I see the second book (the Sea of Monsters) getting the big screen treatment as well.

I'm checking out one of the larger figures in the series - Hades. As you'll recall from your schoolin' days (or from watching the Disney movie Hercules one too many times), Hades is one of the Big Three in Greek mythology, the brother of Poseidon and Zeus. 
Hades Percy Jackson action figure by Jazwares
Hades Percy Jackson action figure by Jazwares
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Hades Percy Jackson action figure by Jazwares
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Hades Percy Jackson action figure by Jazwares
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Hades Percy Jackson action figure by Jazwares
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Hades Percy Jackson action figure by Jazwares
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Hades Percy Jackson action figure by Jazwares
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Hades Percy Jackson action figure by Jazwares

If you paid too much attention to Disney, then you'll think of Hades as a Satanic talk show host (a bit redundant, I know), but that wasn't the case in the actual mythology. Since I haven't seen the movie, I can't say for sure how he's portrayed here, but I've heard the books do their best to stay true to the original works.

While the regular figures are in about a 4" scale, Hades is larger, being both an adult and a God. His price tag is larger too, coming in at about $15.  Like I said, I picked him up at Toys R Us, but you may see these pop up at some other mass market retailers as well.

Packaging - **1/2
The package is quite large to accommodate the wings, although they aren't attached when you buy him. They spread them out in back because they are, quite frankly, his nicest feature and the package designers knew that. While it's attractive and shows off this key aspect, it's also quite a waste of paper and plastic.

The cardback also has a very nice skyline shot with the crackling lightning, and there's some decent general story text on the back.

The big missing piece is any sort of instructions or photos on what to do with the display stand - more on that later.

Sculpting - ***
I haven't seen the film yet, so I can't vouch for the on screen accuracy. I can say that while the overall appearance is pretty good, on close examination you see some issues.

The complete package looks good, but that's due in large part to the impressive wings. With a span of more than a foot, they certainly dominate the view. They also are very heavy, making it close (but not quite) to impossible for him to stand up on his own. I did get him to manage it using the tail as a support, but he looked pretty ridiculous - see the photo.

Without the wings he doesn't look bad, but far less formidable. He stands on his own that way however, but still requires the tail for support - again, check the photos.

The sculpt on the head is fairly soft as well, but the work on the body is a bit better. Some of the flames end up looking more like nubs than red hot death, but the paint work makes up for some of that.

The oversized claws and hooves look great, and some of the sharp cuts on the body add quite a bit of definition to his appearance.

He stands 7 inches tall when completely straight, allowing him to tower over the smaller human figures in the series. It also means he can fit in with DCUC if you have a need for a demon-like custom.

Paint - ***
This version of Hades is clearly all about fire and brimstone, and his paint job makes that obvious. With dark red, orange, and black coatings, his body looks molten. The yellow eyes imply the internal burning fire, and the lightest areas - the end of the tail, hooves, claws - are translucent, allowing light to pass through and give them an eerie appearance.

This translucent effect is actually quite good, and my favorite aspect of the figure. It works particularly well on the flames along the edges of the wings, and putting a light behind him gives them an interesting glowing look.

Most of the paint work is supposed to be a tad sloppy, making it pretty easy to get it right. The washes are done well, without too heavy a hand.The eyes are really the only spot where a clean cut line is necessary, and that's done fairly well.

The transitions between the flaming colors is good, with a natural flow from one area to another. As mass market toys go, the paint work is fairly well done.

Articulation - **
As I mentioned, getting him to stand without the base is pretty much impossible, at least if he's wearing his wings. These attach to his back with a peg that slips through both wings as well as the post attached to his spine. It's a bit tricky getting it together in the first place, but the post is made from a very solid, sturdy, hard plastic, making it possible to force it through without damaging it. Take your time, because once it's in place it stays there pretty well.

That allows the wings to turn inward and outward on the back in a flapping direction independently. The movement is smooth, and the joint sturdy.

The neck is supposed to be a true ball joint - I popped off the head when I was posing him - but it works no better than a cut joint. No leaning, no tilting, no twirling, no tilt-a-twirling.

The post/disc ball jointed shoulders have a good range of movement though, and with the pin elbows and cut wrists allow for some of the better posing.

He has an ab-crunch, but this operates as a cut joint as well. The legs finish it off with ball hips and pin knees, both of which can't do a whole lot under the weight of the wings and the restrictions of the stand.

Lest I forget, the tail is also articulated, and can turn as well as tip to either side slightly. It's a ball joint, although the 'ball' of the tail isn't quite round enough to allow a full range of movement.

All those joints, and getting any sort of standing pose was difficult. I used the stand to brace him up at the top of the tail, because this seemed to be the best way, but I still am not convinced I'm using the damn thing the way they intended.

Accessories - **
The only accessory is the funky display stand, and I'm still not sure I've figured out how to use it right. It worked best holding him up at the base of the tail, but something about that just seemed...wrong.

Fun Factor - ***
While this isn't much of a displayin' figure, it works pretty well as a toy. The wings stay attached and move freely, and while kids may find the inability to stand frustrating, the cool color, size and simple fact that he's a protagonist in the film will add some play value.

Value - **
I don't think the action figure market is going to survive the current pricing model. There's no way parents are going to pony up $15 a pop for action figures long term, even those with big wings.

I noticed that the new figures for How to Train Your Dragon are out, and just $5 a Wal-mart. Sadly, they're also only about 3" tall, but for the time being at least it looks like that's the direction the market will head.

Things to Watch Out For -
Take your time putting the peg in for the wings. Doing it right the first time means that the wings will work well and stay in place.

Overall - **1/2
I'm hoping to get my kids over to see the movie some time in the next week, and while I don't expect the series to be the next Harry Potter, I do expect to enjoy the experience.

The toys aren't doing a whole lot for me yet, but this one has potential for customizers looking to add a demon like character to their DCUC series. While it's not particularly easy to display, you can certainly see the play potential from a kid's perspective.

The price certainly hurts this figure a bit though, since the overall quality isn't up to the $15 level.

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

Where to Buy -
Your best bet right now is Toys R Us, although these may show up elsewhere.

Related Links -
I've never reviewed any other versions of Hades...not that odd, I suppose. However, he's getting another film treatment this year in the new Clash of the Titans, so perhaps I'll get a second shot at him.

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Hades Percy Jackson action figure by Jazwares


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

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