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John Carter of Mars
Triad Toys

John Carter action figure by Triad Toys


John Carter was the central character of one of the earliest works of true science fiction, Edgar Rice Burroughs Barsoom novels. Carter traveled between Earth and Mars with a form of astral projection, which happens by chance at first but eventually he masters.

John Carter was the first to exhibit some of the traits of later classics superheroes, and was sort of a reverse Superman. He was the outsider on Mars (rather than Earth), and because our gravity is stronger, he was much more agile and powerful than the average Martian. He was able to leap tall buildings in a single bound...sort of.

Disney brought the property to the screen with the big budget film released earlier this year, but it appears that they managed to shoot themselves in the foot. When viewed by the target audience (sci-fi geeks and pulp fiction lovers), the movie gets high marks, and yet Disney did a terrible job marketing this film appropriately, dooming it to poor box office before it was ever released.

Triad Toys is doing a sixth scale version of Carter, but they are returning to the roots of the original descriptions for their interpretation, rather than the new movie.

They are also producing a huge quarter scale mixed media version of Tars Tarkas that will tower over your John Carter, as he should. He is currently in stock at Triad, and runs $300 - but is a VERY limited edition of just 100 statues.

You can pick up Carter for around $100, depending on the retailer, which is pretty much in line with other current Triad releases.
Click on the photo below for a life size version
John Carter action figure by Triad Toys
John Carter action figure by Triad Toys
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John Carter action figure by Triad Toys
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John Carter action figure by Triad Toys
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John Carter action figure by Triad Toys
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John Carter action figure by Triad Toys
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John Carter action figure by Triad Toys
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John Carter action figure by Triad Toys
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John Carter action figure by Triad Toys
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Packaging - ****
Triad normally does a nice job with their packaging, but I particularly like this one.

Inside on the fifth panel is a map of Barsoom, and the tray holding the accessories is attached to the lid with plastic posts, making it possible to remove the tray without any damage whatsoever. Not even any tape on this tray! The rest of the package is just as collector friendly, and the graphics and text are very well done.

Sculpting - ***1/2
Triad's sculpts aren't super realistic like some of the work from Hot Toys and Enterbay, but this portrait is further along that road than some of their past work. It's not cartoony or caricaturish, with nothing over done or over simplified. There's even a little texturing to the skin, and the hair has some excellent detailing.

The style is classic Hollywood leading man. This is very much like an Errol Flynn or Tyrone Power, and the style fits in with the theme extremely well. While this isn't at the level of the best sixth scale work on the market today, it does fit the overall style and price point of Triad quite well.

Paint - ***
There's not a ton of paint here, but it's all clean and sharp. Lips are distinct but not obvious, skin tone is good but not as uber-realistic as Hot Toys or Enterbay, and the hairline is clean. The eyes are clean as well, with no laziness in sight.

I am docking them though for the difference in skin tone between the hands and head, and the overall body. This isn't a huge surprise, because the plastic used for both is quite different, which means the absorption rate and amount for the paint and/or dye would be very different. Still, when you have a figure like this were much of the body is exposed, getting the colors to match becomes much more important.

Articulation - ***
Triad's body is actually a very well articulated sixth scale structure, with all the joints you expect. They all have an excellent range of movement, and while it doesn't take *quite* as natural of a pose as a TrueType, it's very close.

In one regard, this costume allows the underlying body to really shine. The outfit is not restrictive, right down to the soft boots, allowing the joints pretty much their full range of movement. He can take and maintain deep action stances, the head can tilt and turn, and even the ab-crunch can be fully utilized.

However, in another way this costume may create an issue for many people - it shows off the joints a bit too much. The knees, elbows and shoulders are clearly the most obvious, but even the aforementioned ab-crunch is visible. With the advances in fake rubber skin that other companies are using, this might be something that the modern collector finds too unappealing.

I'm not in that camp though - while the joints are something that are an obvious flaw in photos, when you have the figure in hand and can appreciate the tactile fun of posing him, the visible joints become much less of an issue.

I did drop the score a star though, and that's due to two issues: a manufacturing error with my particular, and a general issue with the body.

First, the general issue - I'm not a huge fan of the wrists. The wrists are wider side to side than front to back, and the hands are cut with a cupped edge to accommodate this. While that mimics how a real human arm looks, it does cause some problems. Turn the hand, and it is possible for it to pop off. Even when it doesn't, you can't get as much of a bend out of the wrist in certain positions because of the non-uniform shape of the wrist.

My second issue is likely to be one that only I end up with, but it's worth watching for. My figure has two right biceps. Yep, the left arm is really a right arm, and that means the back of the elbow on that arm is in front. In the photo showing the broken helmet on his head it's very easy to tell the difference at the two elbows. This means the left elbow is very restricted, and the lower arm cannot move fully forward like it should. Again, this is probably just someone on the manufacturing line grabbing the wrong arm and popping it in, and the odds you'll have this problem are pretty small.

Accessories - ***1/2
These next two categories are where this figure really stands out.

Carter comes with two weapons - his cool art deco blaster, and a very ornate sword. The sculpt on the blaster could be a little sharper, but the overall look has that retro feel - although it wasn't retro back then.

The hilt of the sword is plastic, with a complex design and plenty of detail. The sword blade is metal, and gleams brightly in any light.

The sword fits tightly in a plastic scabbard which in term slips tightly into a leather strap to hold it in place on his side. This arrangement works well and looks great.

He comes wearing gun gripping hands, but there are three additional sets included - tight grips (for the sword hilt), complete fists, and splayed, posed hands. These four sets of hands work with just about any pose, and can hold the accessories appropriately. Swapping is also fairly easy, and breakage is unlikely.

I would have given this category four stars if that was the end of what I consider the accessories, but I'm adding in one more - the helmet. And here I had some disappointment.

In one of the photos you'll notice John is holding the helmet in his left hand - and there are two 'sideburn' tangs that protect the cheeks. In the next photo you'll notice that he's wearing the helm...and the sideburns are missing. That's because they broke off not once but twice when I was trying to put the helmet on his head - the first attempt broke one, I reglued it, and the second attempt broke both. I've included some potential tips in the Things To Watch Out For section on how you might avoid this, but the simple fact is that they are very brittle and placed at an angle that makes it very difficult to get the helm on over the head. Thankfully, I like him better out of the helmet than in.

Outfit - ****
While a lot of outfits are leather-like, this one is the real deal. It's high quality leather too, like the front seat of Grandpa's Chrysler Cordoba.

Everything is top notch - the stitching, the eyelets, the rivets - and this costume rivals those of higher end companies. The tailoring is excellent, and the inclusion of sculpted details, like the insignia on his chest and the arm bands, adds to the overall look.

I do wish the front loincloth was a little higher on the hips (and I tried untying and retying it, to no avail), but that's a minor quibble.

He's also wearing black spandex underwear,and  a good thing too. The Triad male body is definitely packing.

While the boots are made from a soft leather, they have hard flat soles, as well as armor for the top of the foot. The soft upper allows the ankle articulation to move freely, so the feet can be flat on the ground in even the deepest stance.

Leather holsters are often a problem, but not this time. This one is a good fit for the gun, and doesn't look oversized or dorky.

The bright red cape is a nice addition as well, and can be attached in a number of ways. There are two strings attached at each corner of the collar. I've shot photos with the cape tied up in two different ways - the right way, and the most common alternate.

The 'right' way is the way the manufacturer intended. That's with the strings tied around the shoulders, as in the photo to the left in which John is holding the helmet in his hand. I like the way it looks this way, but it's hard to keep the strings tied unless you knot them (which you don't really want to do), and the strings have a tendency to get hung up in the shoulder joints.

The other way is the more traditional way, with the strings tied together in front of the neck. In the photo where John is wearing the helmet and holding the sword up, he has the cape tied this way. I don't like the way this looks as much, but it's certainly easier to put the cape on and take it off.

Since the strings are fairly long, you may be able to find some other creative way to tie it that you prefer. Perhaps you could wrap the strings across the chest and under the opposite arm, tying them in back...I'm sure readers will find something that suits their personal tastes.

Fun Factor - ***
While the metal sword is a bit much to hand a child, the figure still has all the genetic material of a real toy. The body is sturdy and tight, with a well made, high quality outfit and accessories. It's more fun for the adult collector than the average kid, but that doesn't mean it isn't fun.

Value - **1/2
You should be able to pick this guy up for around $100, $110 at the outside. This is not a $200 Hot Toys figure, but does have a costume and accessories that rival their work in many ways. He's not a steal, but compares well in this category to other pulp characters that have gotten action figures, like Zorro, Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon.

Things to Watch Out For -
Just that helmet - I couldn't find a way to do it without breaking the 'sideburns', but there must be. Perhaps if you pop the head off, allowing you to squeeze it inward a bit more? Or perhaps running the head under some hot water (again, detached - you don't want to get the leather outfit wet), and then squeezing the helmet on carefully?

Overall - ***
When I first saw this figure in the box, I thought he looked pretty dorky. The exposed joints really do that - he just seems too toyish.

Then I cracked him open. The posability and quality of the outfit and accessories, in hand, made me completely forget about the exposed joints, and brought out an appreciation for the figure that I otherwise wouldn't have had.

So why not another half star in the Overall? It's a combination of two things, both of which you may find a way around. First, there's that incorrect left arm. While that's most likely a one off manufacturing issue, it's still the sort of quality problem that a $100+ figure should not have, and since you have to buy this sort of collectible sight unseen, it implies a possible risk that shouldn't be there.

The second issue is those damn tangs on the helmet. I'm betting that if you spend enough time, you'll find a way to get the helmet on his head without a) breaking them or b) scratching the face, but a slightly better design would have made it a non-issue.

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

Where to Buy -
Online options include these site sponsors:

- of course, you can get him directly from Triad for $110.

- Big Bad Toy Store has him for $100.

- Urban Collector has him at $102.

- or you can search ebay for a deal.

Related Links -
Other Triad figures include Zorro, Jade, Barbwire, Dakota, Tyrus, Ghost, Helga, Josh Randall, Agent Indigo, and more.

Triad does sixth scale environments as well, including Firefight, as well as Grave Danger and others.

And they've branched out into quarter scale mixed media statues, like Heihachi from Tekken.

Discussion:
Want to chat about this review?  Try out one of these terrific forums where I'll be discussing it!

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John Carter action figure by Triad Toys


This product was provided free for the review by the manufacturer. Photos and text by Debbie Valenta.

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