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Hot Toys James Dean

James Dean action figure by 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 is back tonight with a look at the second version fo James Dean coming from Hot Toys - take it away, Jeff!

Live fast die young leave a good looking corpse!

James Dean’s famous and sadly prophetic quote, but as is sadly oft the truth, even with all his potential, would the likes of him or Monroe be as revered as they are today had they shuffled into old age… well I guess Brando did OK, so who knows?

For those of us with a yearning for the classics Hot Toys continues to do us proud, first we had the Giant version of the Deanster, quickly followed by a young Marlon Brando based on his appearance in The Wild One, we’ve had three versions of the Cantopop star Wong Ka Kui and soon we’ll have the History Tour version of Michael Jackson. But right now I’ve just taken delivery of the second James Dean figure dressed in the iconic red windbreaker jacket he wore in Rebel Without a Cause, a simple device that the director Nicholas Ray used to set his character apart visually from the rest of the cast, but arguably it did make this Dean’s most recognisable, and as is befitting this line ‘iconic’ look.
James Dean action figure by Hot Toys
James Dean action figure by Hot Toys
James Dean action figure by Hot Toys
James Dean action figure by Hot Toys
James Dean action figure by Hot Toys
James Dean action figure by Hot Toys
James Dean action figure by Hot Toys
James Dean action figure by Hot Toys
James Dean action figure by Hot Toys
James Dean action figure by Hot Toys
James Dean action figure by Hot Toys

East of Eden may have been a higher brow affair, based on the later half of Steinbeck’s seminal novel, but Rebel captured the zeitgeist of the time, dealing with the breakdown in communication between parents and their disenfranchised teenagers, because as we all know teenagers hadn’t existed before 1950, and certainly not disenfranchised ones!

It was the story of Jim Stark a young man who had courted trouble all his life, so his family ups-sticks and moves to Los Angeles in hope of a new life and a new start.

Although desperately trying to keep on the straight and narrow Jim soon falls in with the wrong crowd and gets involved in switch-blade fights and games of ‘Chickie’, this involves accelerating a car towards a cliff edge, the first to jump out being the ‘Chickie’, needless to say things go horribly wrong.

Along the way he also manages to fall for the local gang-leaders girl, and becomes friends with the resident loner who also (unbeknownst to him) is gay and has a crush on him. So it’s a pretty tangled web having all the essential ingredients for a good teen melodrama… in fact it virtually wrote the rule book for teen melodramas and is still rightfully considered a piece of classic 50’s cinema. These were exciting times, Marlon Brando had re-invented the rebel in The Wild One (1953) not just a delinquent, but a angry young man with hidden depths, Dean was showing young men it was OK to be confused and emotional (1955) and then to top it all Elvis Presley burst onto the scene in 1956, things would never be the same again, and though it’s impossible to pinpoint the exact date of the birth of pop culture, it could be argued that this was pretty much it!

Packaging: ***1/2
The M-Icon series has brought us some very nicely designed boxes and with this one it continues to do so.
The first Dean box was designed to look like denim, then Brandos mimicked black leather, the Won Ka Kui ones were colour co-ordinated white, green, red and now this latest Dean has a spot laminated Schafline style line illustration against a dark brick wall effect. It again has the ‘Hot Toys’ cast metal corner flash badge, this time with a copper finish.

Open up the box and there’s a full colour printed sheet of paper that wraps right round the foam that holds the figure in place. This has a brief bio and a couple of photos of the figure, one a face detail the other full figure. This sheet opens to the left and underneath is a sheet of foam, lift this and there’s the figure, completely encased in a die-cut foam surround, along side his stand, three alternate hands and a Polly-bagged cigarette.

The M-Icon range is very distinct from other HT figure lines, it was a series I had originally hoped to complete but those darned elusive Won Ka Kui figures put paid to that, however I’m still happily in this one for the long haul.  1/6th for the more discerning collector… who am I kidding, they’re just very cool figures!

Sculpting: ***3/4
There have been a few Deans over the years, some OKsome not so good

The last Dean by HT was sculpted by Kang In Ae, but this time Yulli has taken a crack at him, Dean has one of those faces, that though striking doesn’t really have anything remarkable about it, a trait that can make capturing a likeness notoriously difficult. However I still think this is an amazing job. For some reason I find a profile or view from the left hand side is the strongest angle, straight on is also very good but the right profile doesn’t work quite as well, why that should be I’m not quite sure, and it may be that others will disagree.

However, for me it’s still the strongest Dean sculpt so far, marginally pulling ahead of the Giant version. 

He also comes with 3 alternate hands, two are fists and one is in the distinctive pointing finger pose used on the movie poster.

Paint: ****
I can find nothing to fault here, the hair is a good mousey brown colour shot through with occasional lighter streaks, the skin tones are beautiful, gently added to the translucent base plastic. The lips are picked out well, looking very natural and the eyes are of a great quality, in the way we’ve come to expect from JC Hong, catching the light so convincingly it’s spooky.

That’s pretty much it for paint apps apart from a few details on the boots and a flash of colour on the filter of the cigarette, but it’s all totally faultless.

Articualtion - ****
Dean is, as you’d expect on the True-Type (TT). I’ve been over this body too many times to go into specifics here, this version has a joint at both ends of the neck making for far better posing, but I did notice this seems to have few newly sculpted details on the pectoral muscles, apart from that it’s the top quality you expect from the TT, still the best 1/6 body out there.

Outfit: ****
This is a relatively simple outfit by HT standards, we have moulded brown biker boots, blue jeans with working pockets throughout, similar to those supplied with the  ‘Wild One’ Brando. However the best jeans I’ve ever seen are still those that came with the first Dean, the material used and the weathering were simply amazing. 

Next we have a white T-shirt, I feel the material used here was just a little too thick meaning at this scale it looks more like sweat shirt material and bunches up a little around his neck. With some futzing you can make it look just fine but I’d have liked it to have been just a little thinner. The stand-out garment is the red windbreaker jacket, the material used, the cuff buttons, the tiny zip and the working pockets are simply perfect. It’s fully lined, but the thin, silky, parachute like material hangs with a perfect feeling for scale. He also comes wearing a pair of white boxer shorts, I found they filled out the jeans a little too much so I removed them, but they certainly fitted well.

If you decide to undress or re-dress him don’t try and undo the zip completely. It’s such a tiny-scaled zip that it’s sewn shut at the base. Just un-zip it as low as you can, remove the hands then slip it straight down his body, over his legs. The boots pop off easily as they are of the ‘no internal foot’ design so removing and re-attaching is a cinch.

Accessories - **1/2
To be fair Dean comes with all he needs to look very cool on your shelf. 

We get a stand with his name printed on, three alternate hands, he comes with relaxed hands attached so we also have two fists and the pointing finger. Lastly there’s the tiny cigarette, this is Polly-bagged in its own little compartment, the filter is painted and the ‘lit’ tip has what appears to be a miniscule red plastic jewel stuck on, from some angles this does a great job of catching the light and looking lit.

I’d have loved him to come with a switchblade, but he wore a different outfit for the fight scene at the observatory so it’s fair that he doesn’t… but I’d have still liked one!

Fun factor:  ***1/2
Like the other M-Icon figures the choice of character isn’t aimed at those who want to play, no, this is more discerning cabinet fodder. I actually bought the old Mattel ‘Barbie’ James Dean a few back, but he’s in storage and now I think he’ll stay that way, and it has to be said, posed next to Brando they do look extremely cool!

Value:  ***1/2
As with all the M-Icons they don’t come loaded with extras, but they do give us some very cool characters. If you’ve ever wanted a good 1/6th representation of Dean then this is the best so far, and the price, though not cheap I think reflects the current sate of hi-end 1/6th figures.

At the end of the day this was a classic just waiting to happen, and at last it has!

Overall: ***3/4
In many, many ways this should have been a **** figure for me, just held back by the lack of accessories, he really should have had a switchblade (OK, I know he’s wearing a different outfit in the scenes with the knife, but it would’ve been cool). And the likeness, as much as I love this figure it’s about 98% there, so it’s that 2% just keeping back from perfection

SCORE RECAP:
Packaging: ***1/2
Design & Assembly: ***3/4
Paint: ****
Articulation: ****
Outfit: ****
Accessories: **1/2
Value: ***1/2
Fun Factor: ***1/2
Overall: ***3/4

Where to Buy -
Sideshow has him on Pre-order for $114.99

Alter Ego pre-order $103.49

Corner Store pre-order $103.49

Forbidden Planet pre-order 89.99 
For anyone in the UK still after the first JD he’s on offer there as well! 

James Dean action figure by Hot Toys
James Dean action figure by Hot Toys
James Dean action figure by Hot Toys
James Dean action figure by Hot Toys
James Dean action figure by Hot Toys


James Dean action figure by Hot Toys


Figure from the collection of Jeff Parker.

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