Chronicles of Narnia - Prince Caspian
Final Battle Edmund, Tyrus, Final Duel Peter and King Miraz

Since the amazing success of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, film makers and production companes have gone to the well of fantasy novels repeatedly looking for another hit.  The results have been very mixed, with most of them doing poorly.  Even those that have had critical success have often gone wanting at the box office.

The one exception has been the Chronicles of Narnia.  The first film, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, grossed nearly $300 million, with a $65 million dollar opening weekend, guaranteeing that more books in the series would be turned into movies.  The second film is Prince Caspian, and opens May 16th.

One of the trends for 2008 is 3 3/4" scale figures for many movies and comic books, rather than the 5 or 6" figures we've seen in the last decades.  Prince Caspian is one of the movies picking up this format for the majority of their toys, and they are being produced by Play Along.

These are starting to hit Toys R Us stores, although I'm sure they'll be hitting elsewhere soon.  Single figures run $6, while two packs run around $11 and deluxe sets are $15.  There are a TON of figures in this first series, and the single cards include Castle Raid Peter, Castle Escape Caspian, Final Battle Caspian, Final Battle Edmund (reviewed tonight), Final Battle Peter, King Miraz, a Telmarine Soldier, Tyrus (reviewed tonight), Trumpin with Trufflehunter, and finally, Susan with Reepicheep.


The two packs include a Wer-Wolf with Castle Raid Caspian, the Centaur Glenstorm with Peepiceek, the Minotaur Asterius with the Faun Mentius, and a slightly redecoed Final Duel Peter with a slightly redecoed Final Duel Miraz (reviewed tonight).

There are also deluxe two packs, one with Peter and a large Griffen, and the other with Lucy and Aslan.  That's a whole lot of figures for a single wave!  I didn't see the Susan or Trumpin single carded figures at my local Toys R Us, so either someone already grabbed them, they haven't shipped yet, or they is more than one assortment shipping.  All the rest of the singles, doubles and deluxe figures were there.

Packaging - ***1/2
Getting packaging just right can be tricky, especially when it comes to mass market cardbacks and bubbles.  But for me, the Narnia stuff works extremely well.

There's lots going on with the front of the cardback and with the inserts in the bubble, but it doesn't end up being too busy or hiding the figures themselves.  It has a nice fantasy look, and also ties in with the them of this particular movie (with the castle walls).

The actual back of the cards do everything right.  There's photos of the rest of the series to help kids pick out the ones they want to look for, there's a nice large photo of the figure inside, and the personalization goes all the way to a fairly long chunk of text giving you the background on that particular character.  This is a big plus, and a huge improvement over generic cardbacks.

Sculpting - Miraz ***1/2; Peter, Tyrus, Edmund ***;
These are done in a 3 3/4" scale, and do fit in extremely well with figures from lines like Star Wars.  Both the boys are right about 3 3/4", while Miraz stands about 4" tall at the very top of his helmet, and Tyrus just a squeak over 4".  The volume of these figures is also very consistent with lines like Star Wars, making them look great on the shelf together.  Not sure why you'd put Luke Skywalker with Peter Pevensie, but you can.  More likely, you'll mix these with Golden Compass or the upcoming knights line from Unimax.

Of the three, Miraz is getting the best sculpting score.  The helmet is not removable, so he cuts a break in not having to look like an actual actor.  His armor is quite detailed for this scale, and there's quite a wide variety of sculpted textures.  From the chain mail, to the clothing, to the hard metal armor, each piece has a different look and feel.

He stands great on his own, and both hands are sculpted to work nicely with the accessories.  I had a bit of an issue getting the sword into his right hand because the plastic is so hard, but once there it's not going to fall out.

While there may be a sculpting difference between this Miraz and the single pack version, I didn't notice it on a cursory glance at the store.

Peter and Edmund both have head sculpts that approximate the characters, but certainly aren't dead on.  The work we saw with several of the Golden Compass and Harry Potter figures from Popco was better in getting actual actor likenesses in this scale, but these two aren't terrible.  The hair sculpts have plenty of detail, and the armor on both looks excellent.  Of course, Peter has less armor in this particular version, but the clothing has appropriate wrinkles, folds and textures as well.  This Edmund differs slightly from the Final Battle Edmund in a number of ways.  There's battle damage to the let arm and tunic, as well as the lack of any helmet.  Both figures stand great on their own, and both have hands that are sculpted to work perfectly with the accessories.

Of the two, I think Peter is the better likeness, and he would have edged out a slightly higher score if not for the attached scabbard.  Yes, it does hold his sword nicely, but it's quite thick and large.  It's not way out of scale, but it's oversized enough to hurt the appearance a bit.  Edmund, like his partner Miraz, has no scabbard or way to attach his sword to his body, which is just fine by me.

Finally, there's the Satyr Tyrus.  One of the changes between the first film and the second is that many of the half human, half animal mythical creatures have become far more animal, far less human.  This is particularly true of the Fauns, like Tumnus, and the new characters of the Satyr's.  In early mythology, they weren't even the half human, half animal variety, but by the time the Romans got hold of them, they became the upper body of a man and the lower body of a goat.  Satyr's were also often connected with sex and physical pleasure, being compadres of Pan.  I'm not quite sure how they snuck their way into the very Christian Narnia tales, but something tells me they won't be depicted quite the same way.

Tyrus is no man, all goat.  He's simply a goat that stands on two legs, and has human like intelligence.  From promo shots, it looks like the sculpt is extremely accurate, although the face itself is a bit plain.  I like the detail work on the hair (both face and back) and horns, but the skin and outfit lacks some of the detail we see on the other figures.

He does stand fine on his own though, which is no small engineering feat considering the two small hooves he stands on. He also holds his sword well, and even has a small sculpted holster for it that works nicely.

Paint - Miraz ***1/2;  Tyrus, Peter, Edmund ***
Again, Miraz takes top honors, and it's again due in part to not being able to see his face.

Peter and Edmund's biggest paint issues are around the face and skin tone.  Miraz doesn't have that problem.  The armor looks great, and the wash used on the chain mail really brings out the detail.  I do think that a little heavier wash on the bronze armor might have helped, but it would have required a VERY light touch to make it work.

As with the sculpt, I didn't notice any difference between the paint on this King and the single pack version.

As I said, both Peter and Edmund suffer slightly in this category due to the skin paint.  Both seem a little thick, and not quite the right shade.  Peter's face and neck don't quite match in tone, and Edmund's exposed arm looks particularly bleached out.

However, the detail work on the costumes and clothing is excellent.  Edmund's chain mail doesn't look quite as good as Miraz', but it's close.  They also managed to get the painted lion on his chest to properly match up with the folds and wrinkles in his uniform.

Like his sculpt, Tyrus' paint work is good but not outstanding.  He has a pretty simple pallette, but they did add some nice details on the shoulder armor and belt.  The eyes and teeth show a bit of slop, and he sports a more mass market job in this category than some of the other figures.

Articulation - Tyrus ***1/2; Edmund, Peter, Miraz ***;
Miraz takes a slight hit here, especially compared to some of the other figures in the line, but he still has fairly solid articulation.

He has a cut neck, but both shoulders are ball jointed, and the shoulder pads have pin joints as well to allow them to travel up fairly high, giving the shoulders a greater range of movement than would be possible otherwise.  He has pin elbows and knees, as well as a cut waist, T hips, and cut wrists.  None of the joints gave me any trouble with sticking, and none (including the wrists) felt weak or likely to break under regular use.

His articulation works quite well considering he has not one but TWO action features that could have interfered.  More on that in a minute.

The articulation on Peter and Edmund is better than you might anticipate, looking at them in the package.  Both have a bit of a ball jointed neck, although the ball is so far up in the head that it doesn't quite have the range of movement that it could have.  Peter has the skinnier neck, so his works better than Edmund's, having more ability to tilt in different directions.

Peter has a cut right shoulder and ball jointed left shoulder, while both shoulders on Edmund are cut joints.  These are all designed to work with the various action features, yet those features don't restrict the use of the joints as you might expect.

The both have pin elbows and knees, T hips, cut waists (which can be used for posing, not just the action feature), and cut wrists.  As with Miraz, none of the joints feel weak or cheap, and there were none that were paint stuck.

Here's the category where Tyrus shines. He has a ball jointed neck, with the tiny ball way up inside the head.  There's enough clearance around the torso though that it can tilt and turn much better than I expected, especially since his action feature is also part of the neck.

He has ball jointed shoulders, but unlike the others, his shoulder armor is not jointed. The one shoulder pad is made from a fairly soft rubber though, so it works better than you might first assume.

He has pin joints at the elbows, with a cut waist and cut wrists, as well as the T hip joint.  He doesn't have pin knees, but does have a pin joint at the ankle.  This allows you to hit the sweet spot with his hooves to keep him standing, which was pretty impressive considering how small the feet are.

Accessories - Miraz, Edmund, Peter ***; Tyrus **1/2
While these figures aren't loaded to bear, they all have at least their critical weapons.

Remember that this Miraz is the two pack version.  The single version comes with a different shield, and perhaps a different sword (I wasn't paying enough attention at the store).  This two pack King has a smaller, round shield, which he can hold in his left hand, and a fairly intricate sword that fits in his right.  There's no scabbard or way to attach the sword to his body, but I can certainly live with that.

Peter and Edmund both have their sword and shield.  The shields are designed to fit in the left hands, with the swords in the right, and the sculpts and paint are all standard mass market style and quality.

Tyrus has just one accessory, his sword.  It's certainly a deadly looking weapon, and it fits well in both his hand and the small holster-like scabbard.

Action Feature - Miraz, Edmund ***; Tyrus, Peter **1/2
Let me start by saying that if you don't like action figures, don't worry about these figures.  None of the action features takes very much away from the posability or displayability of the figures, which is huge plus as far as I'm concerned.

On top of that, most of them actually work quite well!  Miraz has not one but two action features.  He has a very traditional one first - turn his torso back to the right, let it go, and a spring snaps it back to center as if he's stabbing you with his sword.  Both Peter and Edmund have a much better version of this same feature that I'll get to in a minute.  Miraz's version works, but this traditional style means the cut waist doesn't actually allow for any posing.

Miraz also has a lever on his back, that's quite small and relatively unobtrusive.  Push down on it, and the left arm punches forward, giving him the ability to smack you a good one with his shield.  This works cleanly, and neither of these action features interfere with the use of the ball jointed shoulders.

Edmund also has two action features - at least he's advertised as having two.  On my figure, only one actually works, resulting in his lower score for this category.

The right arm works much better than Miraz's, although the intended effect is much the same.  Rather than using a spring in the waist, you simply twist the waist back and forward yourself.  As you do so, gears in the torso push the arm further forward in a stabbing movement.  It's smoother than the old spring action feature, and it allows the waist joint (and the shoulder) to still be fully used.

He is also supposed to have a punching action with his left arm, but I can't get it to work.  Such is life.

Peter has only one action feature, the same right arm stabbing feature as Edmund.  It works fine, and again, doesn't interfere with the look or posing of the waist or arm.

Tyrus has a head butting feature, which seems quite appropriate for a talking goat.  Pull back on his head, and it snaps forward.  Getting him close enough to another figure to make this actually useful in play is tough though, so it's not a particularly worthwhile action feature.  On the upside, it doesn't restrict the neck articulation, so you can pretend it doesn't even exist.

Fun Factor - ***1/2
These are great little toys, action figures that are truly action figures first but also realize that kids aren't stupid.  Just because they're kids doesn't mean they won't respond quite positively to figures that LOOK good as well.

Value - ***1/2
I don't know about you, but when I can still get great action figures for six bucks, I'm pretty damn pleased.  I do wish we'd gotten another weapon or two, but these are a much better value than usual these days.  Even Star Wars figures in this scale are tough to find at just six bucks.

The two packs are an even better deal, since the figures come with just as many accessories AND cost .50 a piece less.  Not all the two packs are quite as good, since some have very small secondary characters, but it's still a decent value.

The deluxe sets at $15 include not just two full figures (one of which tends to be larger than others) but also a small hunk of diorama or backdrop.  Again, these days that's a pretty damn good deal.

Things to Watch Out For - 
I managed to pop one of Edmund's shoulder pieces off, and it was tough to get it back on and keep it on after that.  Take a little care when working with the shoulder articulation.

Overall - ***
I'm not as excited about this line as I was about the Golden Compass, but as toys these are the superior figures.  Why?  The first reason is because the articulation and action features work better for play.  The second and bigger reason is because there's much more of the proper conflict with this line and this film to make playing with action figures fun.  There's swords and monsters and weird creatures and plenty of battle.  That type of conflict always makes for better toys.  Yea, violence!

The sculpts here aren't quite as strong as the work from Popco, or even in the larger series that Disney had with the first film.  But they are certainly solid, and kids will appreciate the attractive detail in the armor and clothing.  They can fit in nicely with other lines in this same scale, so if you want to have a Minotaur attacking Indiana Jones (when those finally hit stores), you'll be able to do it.

This is a good movie line that might do well with kids, given the chance.  Unfortunately, they might not get it, since at my Toys R Us, they were buried in the clearance aisle next to the marked down Golden Compass figures.  I went back the next day to double check on the swords between the single packs and the two packs, and they were all packed up and put away...maybe when they come back out, they'll get an end cap.

Score Recap:
Packaging - **1/2
Sculpt - Miraz ***1/2; Peter, Tyrus, Edmund ***;
Paint - Miraz ***1/2;  Tyrus, Peter, Edmund ***
Articulation - Tyrus ***1/2; Edmund, Peter, Miraz ***;
Accessories - Miraz, Edmund, Peter ***; Tyrus **1/2
Action Features - Miraz, Edmund ***; Tyrus, Peter **1/2
Fun Factor - ***1/2
Value - ***
Overall - ***

Where to Buy -
Right now your best bet is to hit your local Toys R Us.  I'm sure other mass market retailers will be picking these up as well.

- Related Links -
I reviewed a couple of the Disney Narnia figures from the first film, which had very nice sculpts.  And if you like movie figures in this scale, you should check out the recent Golden Compass and Harry Potter figures. 

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Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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