Avatar AMP Suit
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 Semprebon checks in
tonight with a date appropriate review, since Avatar hits DVD and blu
today! Take it away, Jeff...
This is the mecha suit from the movie Avatar, sized to fit 3-3/4"
action figures. Whatever one thinks of Mr. Cameron’s
in plot and character development, he certainly has a good eye for
appealing visual designs.
The box is an odd shape, being cut to create additional flaps that are
secured with an annoying combination of both glue and tape.
art is appealing, with an action painting on the front and a reasonably
representative photograph of the AMP suit on the back. The
necessary since the box does not allow one to see the actual toy er..,
uh.., collectible vehicle. The reason for this becomes clear
box is opened, as the suit comes disassembled in its major components,
each sealed in its own plastic bag and separated by cardboard
dividers. At least there are no twist-ties to be
found. The box also
includes some background information on the AMP suit, describes the
I-tag feature, and shows several figures in the series that are
suitable for use operating the AMP.
should be pretty straightforward (but see notes below under
articulation). Note that the “abdomen” piece has molded
letters in the
bottoms of the sockets to indicate the right and left sides; the
detailing on the front and back of the piece is slightly different,
although if one gets it wrong, it is not likely to be noticed by 99.9%
of viewers. The plugs on the legs have a pair of opposed
slightly-protruding lugs at the end which are designed to snap into
rectangular holes in the hip sockets to secure the legs. I
suggest avoiding aligning these parts, to allow adjusting the tightness
of the hip joint as discussed below under “Articulation” (if you do
properly align the lugs with the holes, the leg will be very difficult
to get off.)
The appearance of the overall mecha looks pretty close to me to the one
in the film, with a reasonable amount of detail for a toy.
seams between the halves of the limb pieces are rather noticeable, but
thankfully there are no limb segments that are hollow on one side when
they shouldn’t be. The cockpit detail is a bit soft, but
greatly improved if one were to take the time to paint it.
overall mechanical detail is rather flat, which is most notable in the
hip-abdomen area where the mechanical linkages for the legs look more
like molded-on surface greeblies (because they are). The
copyright and “Made In China” (surprise, surprise) notices molded into
the back of the main body could have been placed somewhere less
not really sure whether this fits under sculpt, but mention should be
made somewhere that the suit will happily fit the average a 3-3/4"
action figure. The key to getting the figure in is to
IGNORE the misleading picture in the instructions that shows the figure
in a sitting position. The figure should stand in the suit,
the feet extending down into the abdomen section. The suit
fit most human or roughly humanoid figures that do not have their legs
splayed out too much. The figure shown is a helicopter pilot
BBI’s Elite Force.
The mecha is molded in silver plastic with tan paint applied over it,
although it is not clear whether this is supposed to represent
weathering or camouflage. The exposed plastic does not look
bad, except for some of the joints (the knees in particular) where the
discolored spots resulting from snipping the parts off the sprues are
evident (and were apparently airbrushed or otherwise covered in the box
photo). The overall appearance is unobjectionable, neither
detracting nor adding much to the figure. Again, the cockpit
interior is unpainted, leaving it looking rather sparse.
notable weak spot is the unpainted ammo belt and the plastic guide
piece that holds it to the shoulder; both are molded in black and look
out of place against the remainder of the suit.
of the painting is on the canopy, where the color of the window framing
is solid and sharply defined. Combined with the crystal clear
plastic used for the windows, this piece looks very good.
The leg articulation is moderately good, the arm articulation less so.
legs have pivot joints at the hip (not a ball joint hip as shown on the
instruction sheet, apparently referencing an earlier prototype), knee,
ankle, and mid-foot. The mid-foot joint is particularly
although the figure still has trouble holding many poses. The
reason for the low score is that, as the suit came, the plug for the
hip pivot was screwed into the leg too tightly and would not
rotate. This was remedied by loosening the plug with a
Phillips-head screwdriver, but it was tricky to get the piece adjusted
so that it would rotate but still be tight enough to avoid
floppiness. This may take some trial and error, and may need
readjustment if it loosens over time. Hence, the
above to avoid letting those lugs become locked into the socket piece
on the hip. The other joints are thankfully well balanced
ease of motion and ability to hold in place. The balance of
suit is not the greatest, and the range of poses in which the mecha can
stand is much less than the range of articulation allows.
arms suffered a similar, but different problem. Here the arm
apparently not supposed to rotate about the plug on the body, but on
one side the plug was mounted at an incorrect angle (the hexagonal plug
should have parallel faces extending vertically). This was
fixed with the screwdriver. The arms have an odd (and rather
wobbly) sliding motion along a track that extends towards the back of
the neck, a shoulder pivot to raise or lower the arm, and axial
rotation just above the elbow and at the wrist. A pivot joint
change the angle of the elbow is notably lacking, and would have given
a much better range of motion. The arm joints are tight
hold up the weight of the gun in a desired pose.
The body swivels at the hip, and the canopy raises and lowers, having a
ledge that locks it in the raised position.
As accessories, I am counting the gun and the knife, although these are
really part of the suit and modification would be needed to remove
either the ammo feed for the gun or the sheath for the knife.
low rating is due to the fact that neither weapon can be firmly grasped
by the hands. The gun is floppy, but can at least be held in
grip, unlike the knife, which can only be loosely rested in the
grip. The knife fits snuggly into the sheath, and should
bringing the rating down is the ammo belt for the gun which is molded
in a soft, rubbery plastic that comes warped so that many of the
bullets are visibly bent. One end of the belt presses into a
recess on the gun, the other into a recess on the back of the body;
both fits are tight enough to stay in place.
The gun has a
missile-firing capability that adds nothing of value to the
Only a single missile is provided, molded in silvery grey rather than
the usual bright red. However, loss is unlikely as the anemic
spring selected by Mattel’s liability attorneys will not shoot it very
An accessory which I did not use is the plastic I-tag
that can be scanned by one’s computer camera to allow access to a 3D
model of the suit. Not wanting to download and install
many MB of required software, I chose not to evaluate this
feature. I suspect that, much like the Comm-tech chips from
Episode I Star Wars figures, this add-on will not add much value for
Value - ***
This rating assumes that one get the suit for something in the $15
range on sale or via eBay, not the full $25 price. Once the
issue is overcome, it is a reasonably good-looking suit, with a fair
degree of articulation, and fulfills a “need” as there are not many
good looking mecha available for 3-3/4" figures. It should
to placate collectors somewhat until that happy day Hot Toys sees fit
to issue a 1:18 Powerloader.
Factor - ***
Once the problems with the joints are corrected, this would seem to be
a fun toy, and appears sufficiently durable to withstand reasonably
careful play. As a toy, the difficulty getting it to stand up
not be as great a concern as if one wants it to look good on a
The ability to accept most standing 3-3/4" action figures allows the
mecha to be used with a wide range of figures.
canopy ledge that holds it in the raised position may or may not be
subject to wear or breakage after being raised and lowered over time,
and likely the windows will get scratched well before that.
Not the greatest, but a reasonably good figure despite the flaws,
managing to capture the appealing mecha design from the movie.
This product was purcahsed for the review by the reviewer.
Photos and text by Jeff Semprebon.