The Universal - Pop-bot
threeA and Ashley Wood
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
|Jeff is back tonight with a
look at Popbot. This is not the first time we've seen a collectible
version of the character, as Sideshow released a statue many years ago (reviewed
here), but I believe this is the first posable version - tell
us all about him, Jeff!
Thanks as always to Mr Crawford our gracious benefactor, without whose
tireless work we would never know what toys and collectibles were worth
having in the first place.
Over the last couple of years the Wood/3A alliance has made a huge
splash with high-end collectors, and the ripples are spreading to an
However there’s still no denying that the styling, particularly of the
human like characters divides opinion, you either get it or you don’t,
meaning you will either love them, or you wont.
I first became aware of the whole Ashley Wood thing when I saw one of
the early Pop Bot books on a shelf in Forbidden Planet London. I liked
the cover and picked it up, it looked cool, but due to the
ever-decreasing dispensable income of a self-employed jobbing
illustrator I then put it back! I next became aware when I saw the
Sideshow Pop Bot statue, it was nice, but ultimately a little small (I
love me the 1/6th scale) so as nice as the statue was, it ended up an
also ran for me!
Fast-forward a few years and at last the combined talents of 3A and
artist Ashley Wood finally get around to releasing the cover star of
his whole universe. I did once try and describe the universes in which
Wood’s characters exist (and sometimes coexist) but it became so
convoluted and complex I’m not trying it again.
However, to put it succinctly and in a tidy little nut-shell we have
the story of Kitty (a singing rock star cat… no, I kid you not) and Pop
Bot, who is in effect the robotic minder of said cat. So, unless you
want to go and seek out all the books and gem up on the complete story,
let that be enough for you, at the moment it’s enough for me!
When I get a box based on a character by Wood I want me a big ass
picture up front by said artist on the cover, if I don’t get it, like
on the Dropcloth box, reviewed
here then I feel more than a little short changed. In fact I
think it would be a cool idea to include a lithograph print with each
figure like they did with the Tomorrows King figure I reviewed here. However,
this time around we are not spoilt with a poster, but we do get a
rather nice oversized box (17”x10”x6”) with a huge kick ass Ashley Wood
painting splashed across the front.
It’s a striking image, unencumbered by any typography, just 100%
pictury goodness. This image is on an outer sleeve that can slip off;
the inner box is constructed of heavy-duty white corrugated cardboard
with some minimalist typography and the 3A logo. Open this up and the
figure is held securely inside, sandwiched between two vac-formed clear
plastic trays, without the need for any twisties. Within you will also
find a small full colour catalogue showing some of 3A’s most recent
releases (I just gotta get me a fightin JC at some point), and you will
also spot there is a space within the tray for a second revolver, but
sadly we just get one, but as he only has one articulated hand I guess
that’s a moot point anyway… more on that later!
Sculpting - ****
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, when it comes to sculpting
then if Ashley is happy (and lets face it, he wouldn’t have OK’d it if
he wasn’t), then who am I to say he’s wrong, after all, this is his
baby. But luckily it doesn’t hurt that this turned out absolutely
cracking. A lot of the features on the Ashley Wood robots share similar
details, but as they are all the creation of one man, and frequent his
universe I guess that’s an excusable precept, but that’s not to say
they are in any way ‘identical’ and I can see no re-use here at all,
just distinct similarities. The sculpting duties are credited to Da
Hung, I’m not sure whether this is a guy/gal or even a collective, but
whatever the score the job done is outstanding.
Pop Bot has a lot of very unique characteristics about his physiology
as well though; but this guy is meant to be super tall (the figure
measures a very impressive 15”) so he has very long legs for a start
and a trim waist going up to a wide buff chest area. From beneath this
upper section a series of rubber tubes and cables loop down, spilling
down over the crotch like exposed entrails. The arms are also long to
match the stature of his legs, the right arm ends in a large hand with
multiple jointed fingers while the left ends in a stump with a linked
metal chain joined to a large hook.
This, and this alone is my major gripe with this figure. I shant be
taking points away here (I’ll leave that for the accessories section!)
as I knew that the figure would come this way. However, as the big
painting on the front of the box features Pop Bot with two hands and
two mahoosive guns, then I kinda think that’s what should be in the box
(or at least an option to make him look that way). But sadly that
option ain't open to us, as this version will be forever ‘hooky’, the
stump holding the chain even appears to be glued on. There was a two
handed (but single eyed) bright
orange version made available as part of an exclusive twin
pack featuring ‘Tomorrow King’- General Showa and a Popbot figure with ‘Sangreal’
written on his chest, which is French for holy grail, quite what all
this means I have absolutely zero idea about (but there is a small
bi-line on the inner box saying, and I quote “Many have searched, but
the end is always with oneself, it is the ability to negate the quest
and retrieve the grail”), but it looks shweet, and of course there was
also the two handed and cycloptic Bad
Bot in his black colour-way, released as a companion
piece for the titular hero!
The head is quite ‘deliberately’ undersized, but this adds extra drama
and emphasis to his long limbed and willowy appearance. From his back
protrude four exhaust ports (at least I think that’s what they are)
making this guy look like a cruel mash up between Brad Birds Iron Giant
and Giger's original ALIEN (which for me is a good thing… a very good
All in all this guy looks absolutely AMAZING, and I wouldn’t even
consider anything less than a full score.
3A have created a beautiful colour palette and have taken ‘weathering
and rust’ to a whole new level with their robotic characters. Pop Bot
here shows the signs of a pretty heavy-duty existence. Where as once,
when factory fresh he would have been bright orange, he now looks very
far from concourse condition, with ingrained dirt, heavy corrosion and
multiple oil stains, his overall look is now far more earthy and
natural. The paint effects airbrushing, sponging and implied oil drips
all come together wonderfully to make this guy look like a genuine
antique, and that’s quite the trick, fully deserving of the full score
I’ll give it.
He’s nekkid, you can see his rusty metal ass!
One of the areas that these
3A figures shine (particularly the bots) is in the articulation
department. Wood’s art lends itself perfectly to be translated into
uber articulated machines of destruction. I mean, it takes a good eye
and a resourceful mind to come up with an aesthetically pleasing battle
bot, but the artists original paintings are so fully realised and well
thought through that they have done over 80% of the work anyway. And
lets face it, if an elbow is painted to look like a huge 90 degree
screw/bolt engineered joint, how are ya gonna build it, and if a hip is
painted to look like a massive oversized ball and cup ‘swivel’ joint
how are ya gonna translate that to a solid 3D state, and if fingers
appear to look like pinned hinge joints, just how in the hell are ya
gonna make that work? EXACTLY!
Well, it may not be rocket science, but it’s still very impressive. The
guys at 3A, well specifically ‘Da Hung’, have taken the original
paintings and faithfully translated them into a fully realised multi
jointed and super poseable representation of the character.
As an accurate breakdown, we have a 45 degree hinge at the mid foot, a
double ball jointed post at the ankle (great range here), a pin jointed
knee that can bend forward and backwards by about 40 degrees each way,
large ball jointed hips, a long double ball jointed post for a waist
that is disguised by the long rubber tubes hanging down. The shoulders
are also like the hips large ball joints with a good circular
swivelling range. The elbows are another pinned joint that can bend
forwards by a full 90 degrees, next up the right hand has a ball
jointed wrist and each finger has a ball joint where it joins the hand
and a further two pin joints in each digit. The left ‘appendage’ isn’t
a hand at all, but we have a stump linked to a free-swinging metal
chain, attached to a big ‘constructionsight-lite’ crane hook at the
end. Lastly there’s the neck which is yet another ‘pop-on’ ball joint
allowing for a good degree of tilt and nod, ideal for injecting some
much needed personality.
All in all this guy is actually made up of a series of very simple
joints, so even though we are not talking about the superfine detail
that we get on the likes of the Hot Toys: Terminator- Endoskeletons,
what we do get is a lot more robust and able to withstand the rigors of
multiple handling and re-poses, and the chosen design solutions come
together wonderfully, delivering a hugely fun and poseable figure.
He comes with Kitty, a satchel to carry said pussy-tat and a huge f**k
off’ revolver! The cat is very stylised to fit in with the rest of the
‘organic’ characters in the Pop Bot universe but he can sit comfortably
in the zip-topped holdall that he comes equipped with. He’s set in a
static sitting position which works fine here, but a little
articulation, even just a tilting head could have helped give Kitty a
little more personality and lot more attitude.
The gun is pretty kick ass, it has a spinning bullet chamber and a very
convincing paint app, but in these enlightened times and at this large
scale I would like to see the cylinder chamber flip out with a working
extractor rod, removable bullets and a cockable hammer none of which
this actually has.
The other huge oversight, in my most humble of opinions is that he
should have come with an extra left hand and an extra revolver to hold…
Hell, there’s even a space for the extra gun in the vac formed tray in
the packaging! Sadly we don’t get these things, but the pieces we do
get are on the whole well constructed. However to be getting those
extra brownie points and that all important full score they need to
work on those finer details for the articulated elements of the
accessories, especially the guns.
Factor - *** 1/2
If you are into the whole back story of Ashley Wood’s universes then I
would imagine the fun factor is magnified by ten, but I’m strangely not
yet, I’m sure when I get around to actually sitting down and reading
some it’ll tick the boxes!
However, I still freaking love this figure, and I loved the Heavy TK
and I loved Dropcloth, and that’s without ever having ever read a
single story from the back catalogue (hey, at least I’m honest). I
think its testament to the strong visual design of these characters
that they stand alone as pure cool toys. Like Winson Ma’s Space Adam that I
reviewed a few months back, good concept design will always be
appreciated by those that have an eye for these things.
So if you have a hankerin a big, rusty, bad-ass, killer-bot for your
shelf, then you can’t go wrong here, your quest for the sangreal is
over (do you see what I did there?).!
Close, oh so close to perfection, but for me they need to work on those
accessories, and I’m still a little miffed that I don’t have the two
handed option, but that may be showing my ignorance of the story.
However if Pop Bot does ever have two hands within the story then it’s
virtually inexcusable. That is my only real gripe though, everything
else is close to perfect, and he’s an excellent bot to stand next to my
Dropcloth as the difference in height and stature shows off the
diversity of Wood’s creations. Now I need me a TQ, gotta have a fem fig
to round out the collection.
Where to buy
Sideshow have Pop
Bot in stock for $149.99 and Bad
Bot for the same price.
you are UK or European based then Onesixthbruce
(who sorted mine) have both available for £89 a piece.
traders are asking for between $110 up to $170, with Bad Bot
about the same and the rarer variants like ‘Ascended’ going for
This product was provided free for the review by the manufacturer.
Photos and text by Jeff Parker.