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Review of Tywin Lannister, Joffrey Baratheon, Petyr Baelish
Game of Thrones action figures/statues

Dark Horse
Date Published:
Written By:
Overall Average Rating: 3 out of 4

Game of Thrones Joffrey, Tywin, Petyr figures by Dark Horse

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Introduction

An interesting experiment in collectible figures has been going on over the last year or so. Both Dark Horse and Funko have been producing figures based on the terrific HBO series Game of Thrones. Up until just recently, they have produced largely the same characters. The price point has been almost identical ($18 - $20 for Funko, $22 - $23 for Dark Horse). There have been three major differences between the two, at least from an outsider's vantage point, and it is interesting to ponder how these three factors may be making a difference.

The most obvious difference is articulation (and accessories, but that goes hand in hand). Dark Horse figures are pure plastic statues, with no articulation. The pose they give you is the pose you get. Funko figures are 'action' figures, with plenty of joints, largely well designed and useful, allowing you to get plenty of dynamic or static poses, but sometimes hurting the clean look of the sculpt itself.

Perhaps just as obvious is the scale. Funko went with 1/12th, or about 6" tall for the average male, a fairly common scale with current action figures. Dark Horse went larger, about 1/9th scale or 8" - 8 1/2" tall for an average male.

Less obvious is the third difference, but I think it's important. It's cheaper to produce un-articulated figures of course, as there are fewer molds and less unit cost due to assembly (to some degree, but don't forget that the various limbs are still cast separately and glued together), so it might be easy to say the Dark Horse figures don't have to sell as many units to be profitable. However, Dark Horse figures didn't have the same level of distribution. While the Dark Horse figures, like the ones I'm reviewing tonight, are sold largely through comic shops, online shops, and smaller retailers, the Funko figures are available through not only those channels but Toys R Us, Target, and Barnes and Noble.  Even Walgreens got in on the act, including selling their own exclusive.

At this point, Dark Horse has several figures planned for 2015 along with the three I'm looking at tonight - Tywin Lannister, Joffrey Baratheon and Petyr (Littlefinger) Baelish - shipping very soon. Funko has...no new announcements or plans that I know of. It appears the experiment may be complete.

Funko and Dark Horse won't be the only ones looking at this situation and trying to glean something useful from it. Other companies will try to learn a lesson, as will retailers like Target and Toys R Us. My fear is that they'll take away the wrong lesson. It would be easy to say "the message is clear - statues are a better choice than articulated action figures". It's the obvious difference between these two series. But I don't think the obvious reason is the real reason.

Funko has had tremendous success with their Pop! Vinyl figures.  But you couldn't buy the first series in Target and Toys R Us. They didn't produce mass market quantities right out of the gate. Instead, they developed the line slowly over time out of necessity - they had to prove the line was a winner first.

Game of Thrones Joffrey, Tywin, Petyr figures by Dark Horse

They didn't approach their Legacy action figures that way. Instead, they were able to get large retailers on board right away, thanks to their earlier successes with the vinyl lines. That meant larger orders for the initial waves, and bigger expectations. What's more, it meant they cut their small distributors out of the mix. Who is going to buy a Legacy figure at the local comic shop for $20 when you can pick it up at Walgreens for $17?

Now those big expectations weren't met, and Target and Toys R Us has lots of stock they need to clearance. Without their re-orders, Funko can't produced mass market quantities, and they'll deem the line a failure. They could go back to the drawing board, reduce the run size to something in line with the smaller retail distribution chain, cut the waves from 6 figures to 3, and start again with smaller expectations. I doubt that's what will happen, but it is a workable scenario.

Too much success too fast and rapid growth is a dangerous thing. I think the Funko Game of Thrones line (and the Legacy banner overall) is a victim of that, and a warning to others.  Remember how you obtained success in the first place, and when launching a completely new product, go back to those roots.

Which is a very long intro to get to where we really want to be - my review of the three new Dark Horse Game of Thrones figures, including Tywin, Joffrey, and Littlefinger. This is a bit of an early review - these should be hitting any day, and retail for around $22.

Click on the image below for a Life Size version
Game of Thrones Joffrey, Tywin, Petyr figures by Dark Horse

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Packaging - ***
The large boxes work well, showing off the figure on the shelf. While they'll take up some space, they are easy enough to store, and largely collector friendly. The graphics and text are pretty basic, but get the job done. You will have to cut through a twisty around the waist, but that's the only real damage that is required to free the figure.

Game of Thrones Joffrey, Tywin, Petyr figures by Dark Horse

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Sculpting - Petyr **; Joffrey, Tywin ***
As I mentioned earlier, these figures are done in an 8" or so scale, and that's just about where Joffrey comes in. Tywin is slightly taller, and Petyr is significantly smaller overall.

Both Joffrey and Tywin have reasonable head sculpts. You'll recognize them, and they've gone the extra mile with Joffrey's smug look. Small details are good, like the crown and pins, and I'm particularly happy with all the work on the clothing. The texturing looks fantastic, and the folds, wrinkles and layers all appear realistic and appropriate.

Petyr's head sculpt is the weakest portrait of the three. While you can pick out Littlefinger in there, it helps if you squint, and have a couple beers first. His general proportions and size are another big issue for me - he's really tiny. Aiden Gillen, the actor that portays Petyr, is listed at 5' 9" tall, while Jack Gleeson, who plays Joffrey, is listed at 5' 7". Now, Jack is a teenager, so I'll give you that he might be growing quite a bit...but there's no way Joffery shold be this much larger than Petyr. It's not just a matter of height - the entire figure looks shrunken, even at the hips, and shoulders. It makes him look weirdly out of place with the other figures, and I've shown these three together in a later photo as an example.

The poses and costumes selected for the three make sense, and are all great choices.  I particularly like the costume and pose picked for Joffrey, which fans will recognize from his wedding day. Including the goblet in his hand is a nice touch as well. They didn't go for the actual pattern on the jacket, but approximated it with a texture - it works fine for me, but the more anal may find it a problem.

Tywin is wearing his Hand of the King outfit, perfect for standing next to Joffrey. Not that he did it all that often...they did manage to get the pattern here, and of course, included the pin. The walking pose is a bit weird, but I suppose it's about the only thing they could go with.

Petyr is in a simple stance, looking ready to do your bidding in whatever capacity that might be. The outfit was a no-brainer, since it's the one we most associate with his character, and they did a terrific job sculpting the floral pattern. If they had only made him a bit more in scale...

Game of Thrones Joffrey, Tywin, Petyr figures by Dark Horse

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Paint - ***1/2
The Dark Horse series has had excellent paint work, considering the price point. Colors are consistent and bright, skin tones are even and varied by character, and small details are generally clean and sharp.

One area that stands out as an issue is the eyebrows, which look comical in macro photos. Of course in person it's not nearly as bad, but it's still the one area that could use some improvement.  Tywin is better than either Joffrey or Petyr, but part of that might be due to the lighter color of his hair.

The rest of the facial hair is quite good, again considering scale and price point. The eyes on all three are straight and clean, and lip color isn't over done or silly.

The best work is on the costumes, where the even, sharp colors really pop. I'm loving the look of Joffrey's outfit, and the pattern on Petyr's robe looks amazing. Small details like buttons, pins and buckles are well done, with generally clean cut lines and edges.

Game of Thrones Joffrey, Tywin, Petyr figures by Dark Horse

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Articulation - Bupkis
This is informational only - it has no effect on my Overall score, since I knew these were plastic statues going in. But I wanted to be sure that you don't have the wrong expectation, as there is no articulation of any kind, and in fact, they can't even be removed from the base.

Game of Thrones Joffrey, Tywin, Petyr figures by Dark Horse

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Fun Factor - **
These are fun in that Nerd Hummel sort of way that only fans and collectors will understand. Yes, it's fun to have all your favorite characters from your favorite show up on the shelf staring down at you. If you don't get it, you're probably not reading this anyway.

Game of Thrones Joffrey, Tywin, Petyr figures by Dark Horse

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Value - ***
At $22, these are a very good value.  While I have some issues with the sculpts and paint work, at times it can rival statues that cost 3 - 4 times this amount. Finding anything, including an joint-less statue, in this scale for under $30 is a rarity these days.

Game of Thrones Joffrey, Tywin, Petyr figures by Dark Horse

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Things to Watch Out For -
Zippo, zilch, nadda.

Game of Thrones Joffrey, Tywin, Petyr figures by Dark Horse

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Overall - Petyr **1/2; Joffrey, Tywin ***
While Petyr has the weakest head sculpt, it's really his weirdly undersized stature that drops him the half star lower than the other two.  The work on his costume could have made up for the issues with his likeness, but this is a series that should look best when displayed together on the shelf, and he's going to be an odd man out.

Both Joffrey and Tywin are solid work overall, but it's really Joffrey's costume choice, and the inclusion of the goblet, that make him the stand out. If I could only get one, he'd be my choice.

Dark Horse has a number of other figures planned for release in this series in 2015, including Brienne, Sansa Stark, Jorah Mormont, and Bran and Hodor as a single statue. I have my fingers crossed that we'll see further announcements at SDCC as well.

Score Recap (out of ****):
Packaging - ***
Sculpting - Tywin, Joffrey ***; Petyr **
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - Bupkis
Fun Factor - **
Value - ***
Overall - Petyr **1/2; Tywin, Joffrey ***

Game of Thrones Joffrey, Tywin, Petyr figures by Dark Horse

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Where to Buy 
Online options include these site sponsors:

- comes in at $22.50 each.

- has them for $23 each.

- Entertainment Earth has them for $23 each.

- or you can search ebay for a deal.

Related Links -
The most recent Game of Thrones item I reviewed wasn't in this scale - it was the very cool ThreeZero sixth scale Tyrion Lannister.

In this Dark Horse series, I've covered Cersei, Jaime, the White Walker, Robb and Arya, as well as their Daenerys, Drogo, Ned Stark, and Tyrion Lannister. They've also done Jon Snow, but I don't have a review of him.

Funko has also done Jaime and BrienneArya and Robb, and the second release of Danaerys, along with her beau Drogo. Before that we had the Walgreen's exclusive Tyrion, Daenerys, and I reviewed the first wave of figures in three sets, here, here and here.

Other Game of Thrones collectibles I've covered include the Daeny bust from Dark Horse, the Hand of the King pin, and the Catspaw Blade from Valyrian Steel.

You should also hit the Search Reviews page, in case any other applicable reviews were done after this one was published.

Discussion:
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Game of Thrones Joffrey, Tywin, Petyr figures by Dark Horse

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This product was provided for the review by the manufacturer. Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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