Barney Ross - Expendables
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."

I thought the new Barney Ross figure from Hot Toys deserved a double whammy tonight, so I'm checking him out here, and Ryan Kelly is hitting  him up with this guest review - take it away, Ryan!

I’m a huge Rocky fan, which has caused me to become a pretty big Stallone fan in general. Unfortunately, I missed the boat on Hot Toys’ Rocky figures, since they came out long before I started collecting, and they only place to acquire them at this point is ebay where they have tripled in value, typically selling around $300.

Thankfully, Hot Toys has given us another shot at a 1:6 Stallone, albeit a lesser known character: Barney Ross of “The Expendables.”  Though this may not be an iconic character like Rocky or Rambo, Hot Toys has come such a long way in their skill level that this is undisputedly their most lifelike Stallone figure to date, easily beating out their older Rocky and Rambo figures. While I’m not really so much of a “Barney Ross” fan per se (the name “Barney,” which reminds me of a retarded purple dinosaur and a bumbling deputy from Mayberry, just doesn’t work for a character like this), “The Expendables” was a pretty awesome movie in my ever-so-humble opinion, and after initially planning to pass this figure up, I finally gave in and preordered it last month because it looked like my only chance of getting a Hot Toys Stallone at a decent price. I was just in time too, since he sold out directly afterwards at the website where I usually do my preorders.

Prices on this guy ranged from $153 to about $165, depending on the retailer. The site where I got him was the last place to still have him in stock at the $153 minimum, so, having likely gotten the last one, I was pretty lucky. It turns out that he’s been selling out everywhere, and prices on ebay are already starting to climb. Thus, if you want this figure and can find a website (or local comic store) that still has him for a decent price, you’d better go for it, because he’s lasting about as long as a box of doughnuts at a fat kids’ camp.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen the movie, but I don’t think anyone was or will be surprised that Barney Ross is a rough, tough, take-charge kind of guy who oozes Hollywood masculinity. Pretty much your typical Stallone character. Ross is, of course, the leader of the Expendables, a crew of mercenaries comprised of just about every tough guy in Hollywood who take on dangerous missions in which they administer multiple ass-kickings while surviving a plethora of gunfire and explosions in order to rescue damsels in distress and take down corrupt regimes, managing to make it home just in time for their latest tattoo appointment. Considering the great ensemble of tough-guy actors we were presented with in this movie, I’m hoping this will merely be the first in a great line of “Expendables” figures from Hot Toys. Alright, let’s get on with it…

Packaging - ****
This has to be the best use of space I’ve ever seen in packaging for a sixth scale figure, though the packaging of HT’s Aldo Raine figure comes close to matching it. This figure comes with a TON of stuff, and a box that’s a good bit smaller than many of their other 1:6 figures’ packaging is able to hold every bit of it. Oh, and it manages to look awesome while doing it. The box has a white outer sleeve with the movie’s name and logo that slides off without too much difficulty, and the box itself (through which you can see the figure through a plastic window) has a really cool grinning skull design on it. Well-decorated, convenient, and efficient—this is as good as figure packaging gets. Hot Toys likes to experiment with different packaging designs and styles, and does an awesome job almost every time. This is one of their best efforts yet.

Sculpting - ****
Stallone is in ‘da house, baby! He certainly has enough unique facial features to make him easier to sculpt than most, and Hot Toys pulls it off with breathtaking accuracy. Even Ray Charles would be able to tell that this is Sylvester Stallone. Everything—head, hands, etc—is in the right scale. The arms and chest are also sculpted well and add realism to the overall appearance. Hot Toys nails it again…does this surprise anyone?

Paint - ****
Again, are we surprised? I like Michael’s recent analogy about Hot Toys and great paint jobs going together like Charlie Sheen and trouble (“Lindsay Lohan” and “jail” would probably work too). This actually took a lot of skilled paint work because of the tattoos, which are done perfectly. The eyes are moist and lifelike. The hair is well-painted and the hairline is nice and even. The goatee is done perfectly with just the right degree of subtlety. It’s all good.

Outfit - ****
Not one, but TWO outfits, folks.  I swear this guy is just one extra head short of being a DX. His first outfit is a military-style getup with black pants, black t-shirt, and his “tactical vest.” I had more trouble with that vest than anything, but I blame that mostly on myself. I found that the best way to get it on and off him is to undo/redo the little straps at either side, and redoing them is a pain. You may end up needing tweezers, though I managed without them.  The front and back of the vest attaches via velcro at his shoulders, which I had to readjust several times before getting it to look right. Additionally, there’s a sheath for the knife that attaches to the back of the vest via a couple of loops on the vest and “magic tape’ on both ends of the sheath itself. On both ends, you put the strap through the loop, then pull it down and attach the top of the strap to the bottom via the magic tape, thus securing it. The magic tape on the bottom part of mine must have lost some of its magic, because it came off on one side. Nothing a little superglue won’t fix, I guess.

The belt comes with three holsters: two—one on either side—for the pistols and one for the revolver. All three weapons fit snugly in their holsters, which have straps that enclose securely around them.  There are also two small compartments on the front of his belt for the extra clips. As for the beret, it’s made of a thin and almost velvety material, and though it’s difficult to do, you can get it to look OK on his head. It’s hard to get it to look right, though, and to me, it never really looks exactly right. I’ll likely be displaying him without it. He also comes wearing two bracelets on his left wrist and a watch on his right. Hot Toys left nothing out.

Next, as if all that weren’t enough, we have his casual outfit: a green t-shirt and a pair of blue jeans and a western-styled belt. I had to use a pair of needlenose to get the belt through the loops, and the velcro holding the fly together on the jeans is subpar; I wish they had opted for small hooks instead of velcro. But oh well, it’s just a minor nit, and not enough to offset the numerous positive features in this section.

So, whether Barney’s on or off the clock, we have an outfit for either occasion. With not one but two great outfits, Hot Toys spoils us this time, and it’s much easier to feel like you’re getting your money’s worth.

Also, this figure has underwear. Yep. Underwear. These people are truly hardcore.

Articulation - ****
I was pleasantly surprised here, because figures on the HT muscular bodies usually aren’t as well articulated as those on standard truetypes. With tons of joints all over the place—this looks like a muscular version of the advanced truetype—Rocky (uh…I mean…Barney) can assume almost any pose and is virtually unrestricted.

Accessories - ****
Wow; let’s just say I could write a book (don’t worry, I won’t). As someone who loves getting tons of accessories with a figure, I’m one extremely happy camper. Two handguns (with extra clips and movable chambers), a revolver, an assault rifle that extends out at the back, a huge knife and a sheath to put it in, a pair of sunglasses, pair of goggles, two necklaces, five extra hands in addition to the pair of fists he comes with, extra wrist pegs, and a display stand (that you won’t need). Also there’s the beret, but I’m counting that under the outfit section. The sunglasses look kind of goofy on him unless you view him directly from the front, but it’s a minor nit. The guns are kind of fragile, so take care when putting them in and out of his hands. The hands themselves swap easily, so there likely won’t be any need for the extra pegs, but they’re good to have anyway.

Value - ***
If you managed to nab this figure in the $150 range, then you got a heck of a deal.  Mine was $153 (actually $147 after a small discount!), and that’s about as good as it gets. It takes a lot for an action figure to be worth that kind of dough, and this figure’s got it…and then some. Even in the $160 range, you’re getting at least a solid average value.

Fun Factor - ****
This figure is really durable and would make a great toy. With that being said, anyone who gives this to a kid should be thrown in a dungeon.

Things To Watch Out For -
The guns are pretty fragile, so take care when removing and replacing them in his little mitts. The sunglasses are pretty fragile, too; don’t stretch them out too far when putting them on his face since they’re made out of a very thin plastic that can break easily.

Overall- ****
Though I may be but a lowly guest reviewer, anyone who bothers to read this review should mark my words: you’re looking at a prime contender for Figure of the Year. Whether it be the Poppies, People’s Picks, or whatever, if there’s any justice at all in the world, this figure will be getting some love somewhere. Watch your back, Arnie.
Though I personally don’t plan on extending my “Expendables” collection any further (should HT decide to expand the line), I definitely wouldn’t be able to resist a Stone Cold Steve Austin, and if they came out with one, I would probably end up selling a vital organ to acquire the cash. The rest of my organs will be donated after my wife kills me for spending that kind of money on an action figure.

This product was purchased for the review by the reviewer. Photos and text by Ryan Kelly.

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