Pirates of the Caribbean Series 3
The Cursed Pirate

What's a pirates favorite letter of the alphabet? Why, RRRRRRRRRR of course! That's my son's favorite joke, currently, and pirates are his favorite passion. Who doesn't love pirates? Oh sure, there was the whole pillaging, raping and plundering thing, but once you romanticize the reality away, they're pretty damn cool.

The second Pirates of the Caribbean film his hitting this summer, and NECA is doing all it can, action figure wise, to take advantage. The third series of figures based on the first film has just hit, with the first series based on the new film due any day.

This series includes Barbossa and Jack with new head sculpts, and two new figures in Elizabeth Swann and a Cursed Pirate. The gimmick here is that if you pick up all four figures from series 2 and all four from series 3 (including the cursed Jack/Barbossa boxed set), they all connect to form the grotto scene from the end of the film.

I'm not particularly interested in having multiple Jack's and Barbossa's though, so I'm only picking up the unique figures. I haven't found Elizabeth yet, but I snagged a Cursed Pirate tonight for review. These run around $11 - $13 each depending on the character and the retailer.

Packaging -  ***
NECA uses clamshells of course, so there's no surprise here. The insert follows the graphics, text and design of previous series, and it's eye catching but not earth shattering. Remember to cut away from the body when slashing it open.

Sculpting - ***1/2
Pirates are cool, but NOTHING beats skeleton pirates. We got a cursed pirate in the first series, and considering how important they were to the first film, it's nice to see another in the third series.

This is not the same pirate as series 1, although there may be some basic reuse of parts. I suspect the arms, hand, legs and boots are the same, but it appears as though the rest of the sculpt is new. I couldn't find my series 1 version (he's packed away with everything else after the move), so I had to judge from photos, but even the torso has some differences.

Just like the series 1 version, there's a ton of intricate detail here. The pirate is wearing his doo-rag, red and ragged, on his skull, along with the tattered remnants of his vest, shirt, pants, and sash. The sculpt works nicely with the articulation, neither getting in the way of the other, although he's never going to stand on his own with those spindly little legs.

The head sculpt is very complex, with wonderful surface pocking and veining on the skull. The eyes look extremely realistic, helped by the style of paint application. This pirate has quite a jaw issue, with his lower teeth sticking out further than his upper jaw. Looking at prototype photos, it's clear that the final product didn't quite come out as nice as the original. It does look like the jaw was altered by either the release process or the fact that it was done separately and jointed. However, the final result still looks pretty damn good. Had it been as good as the prototype, it would have gotten another half star.

The other thing that holds this sculpt back from four stars is the rag/hat. On the prototype, it was straighter on the skull. In my final version, it's tilted to one side. This is also most likely a manufacturing issue, since it was glued on separately. Had they lined it up a little better, I would have been a happier pirate myself.

It's worth mentioning that the thin legs are made from a fairly soft plastic this time around.  Even with the clear rod/stand, I noticed mine wilting over a couple of days.  You might want to keep an eye on him, and keep as much weight off his legs as possible.

And if you're wondering, these are done in a 7" scale.  He might seem small when compared to his fleshy brethren, but that makes sense when you think about it.

Paint - **
The sculpt varied slightly from the prototypes, but the paint varied a ton, and not in a good way. The prototype looked fantastic - the final product looks like a powered donut.

The base paint work is solid, with nice detailing, good color choices, and overall good quality. The cuts between colors are good with little bleed and slop, and even for a dead guy, he's wearing some stylin' colors.

Unfortunately, much of this is lost due to the heavy use of dry brushing a much lighter white over just about everything, but especially on the hat and the shoulders of the shirt/vest. The dry brushing here should have been completely skipped, as it hides more detail than it brings out, and hurts an otherwise great sculpt.

Articulation - ***
There's a decent amount of articulation here, and it all works quite well.

He has that most important of joints, the ball jointed neck. Like his earlier cousin, he has an articulated jaw as well.  Mine popped loose the first time I used it, but the small peg popped back in easy enough.

He sports ball jointed shoulders and cit hips, pin elbows and knees, and cut wrists, and a hinged jaw. I didn't have any trouble moving any of these joints, and none were painted tight.

He *might* have cut joints inside the boots, but mine didn't want to turn, and I wasn't going to force it. Likewise at his waist, where he might have a joint, but it would be extremely easy to break it if you force it. I'm going to assume these joints aren't there, since all the rest moved so freely.

Accessories - ***
There are three main accessories, plus one that's not quite as obvious. He comes with a sword and axe, and the hands are sculpted to hold these easily. Both look good, although the sculpts and paint are pretty basic.

There's also the display base, similar to the one that came with Regatti and Pintel. These bases are intended to all go together, and they do look excellent. I love the small coins and golden treasure, but the best part is the edge of the pond of cave water. It's fairly thick, and looks quite natural.

To go along with the display base, the cursed pirate has a clear plastic rod that attaches to his back. This rod/stand is necessary to keep him upright, even if you put his feet in the pegs on the base, because his legs are so thin. This stand is similar to what we got with the first cursed pirate, and is no surprise considering the design. Using it, you can get him to hold a much wider variety of poses. 

The only downside is that this rod/stand is designed to work with the base, not without it. That means it's long enough to support the figure standing on the base, but that makes it too long for him to stand on the shelf. It's a minor issue, but worth noting.

The other accessory is his shoulder belt, which is removable. It can come up over his head and shoulder with very little effort. That's nice, and with they excessive dry brushing, I have a hunch lots of folks may ditch it.

Fun Factor - ***
The joints might be subject to breakage with any rough play, but kids in the 10 range who love pirates will find this guy gorely cool. I wouldn't hand him over to my 5 year old, no matter how much he loves skeleton pirates, because he wouldn't last 10 minutes.

Value - **1/2
At $11 - $13, these are a fairly average value on the current market. The connecting bases are a nifty gimmick, and if you get lucky and snag these for ten bucks or less, you can add another half star.

Things to watch out for - 
If you experiment with the possibility of a waist joint or ankle joints, do so at your own risk! And if you get the lucky chance to pick your cursed pirate out from a group, watch for the least amount of sugar.

Overall -  ***
NECA can produce some amazing sculpts, but they really have to get their plant to back off on the dry brushing and wash effects. It can seriously hurt the appearance of a figure, as it has done with this one for me. He would have gotten at least another half star overall if he didn't end up looking like a cop's favorite snack.

I'll be picking up the Swann figure, and I already have the Cursed Jack/Barbossa boxed set for a review next week. The Davey Jones figure coming in the first series of the second movie figures looks amazing - let's hope that he doesn't end up with this same paint job.

Packaging - ***
Sculpt - ***1/2
Paint - **
Articulation - ***
Accessories - ***
Fun Factor - ***
Value - **1/2
Overall -  ***

Where to Buy -
These are hitting Hot Topic stores in some areas - not mine, unfortunately - but your best bet is online:

- YouBuyNow doesn't have this one up yet, but does have the series 1 cursed pirate at the low price of just $9.55.

- CornerstoreComics has this pirate at $11, with the other figures around $13, or the set of four for $44.

- Amazing Toyz has this pirate for $12, but is sold out on most of the rest.

Related Links:
I've reviewed a number of the earlier POTC figures:

- my review of Pintel at Movie Poop Shoot, and Regatti here.

- NECA did a full first series, including Barossa, Turner, Sparrow and a dead Pirate.

- they also did a terrific 18" version of Sparrow.

- Disney just released some figures based on the actual park attraction, and not the film.

- Mezco recently released some very cool Pirate Mez-itz, not based on any license, but cool nonetheless.

- and if you like your pirates a little more 'real', there's always Blackbeard from Sideshow.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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