Stargate SG-1 Series 3

Diamond Select Toys has just released their third set of action figures based on the popular show Stargate SG-1. As with past waves, a couple new characters are turned into more than that with some judicious use of variants, but this time around we actually get more new characters than rehashes.

This wave contains the old Ori Prior, the hot Vala Mal Doren, and the hunky Lieutenant Colonel Cameron Mitchell. There's only one variant this time, the Previews exclusive "Avalon" variant of Vala. There's also a two pack available separately of the Ascension Jackson and Anubis.

One of the nifty things about this overall line is the 'build an accessory' concept. The first BAA was spread over series one and two, and you were able to get parts to build a fairly decent sized (not to scale of course) Stargate. This second series has a less ambitious BAA in the DHD. Mitchell and the Prior has the two pieces to build this device.

There's actually a fourth figure in this wave, although I haven't quite figured out the details. It's the Black Ops version of Jackson, which still comes with a piece of the Stargate. I believe this figure was originally planned as someone's exclusive in the first couple waves, but it didn't work out. It's being released now in cases as the 'chase' figure, making him a tad tougher to find than the rest.

The fourth wave has already been announced for later this year, but is almost entirely repaints of current figures. There's O'Neill, Carter, Jackson and Teal'c in desert camo fatigues, which are really repaints of outfits they were already released in. They will come with a new build an accessory, with each having a piece of MALP robot device. Also knew will be a Previews exclusive version of Jonas Quinn.

Packaging - **1/2
While the cardback/bubble packages are attractive, they are very easy to damage the cardbacks, and very difficult for MOCers to store. There's not much character personalization either, and the big negative is once again that there are no instructions. Now, I understand how to put the two pieces of the DHD together, but the communications device that comes with the Valas appears like it might attach to something else, but without any instructions, I have no idea if I'm just missing something or it's just supposed to sit around on it's own.

And while I'm not actually reviewing the Black Ops Jackson, I used him in the package photo so you'd really believe me when I said he existed.

Sculpting - Prior ***1/2; regular Vala, Mitchell ***; variant Vala **1/2
These sculpts are from Jean St Jean Studios, obviously run by the talented Jean St Jean. Thankfully, he's more creative than his parents. Of the set, the Prior is easily my favorite. Sure, he looks an awful like like the Cigarette Smoking Man from X-Files, but the head sculpt is well done with some nice detailing. Scale and proportions are good, the hands are sculpted to hold the accessories nicely, and he stands great on his own.  Oh, blow him up under the harsh eye of the macro lens and you'll see some issues, but in person he looks quite good.

Now, I'm not a huge fan of the show, so I'm not sure that this is supposed to be a specific Prior (maybe from the Avalon episode?) or not, but even as a generic version he works pretty well. The telltale facial changes are there, although at this scale they aren't quite as striking.  UPDATE - yep, that is the Prior played by William Davis, aka Cancer Man.

Mitchell uses the now standard fatigue body that we've already had with some past male figures. He's going to take a ding for the reuse as far as I'm concerned, but you might be a little more forgiving. That's understandable, because while we might have gotten the body before, at least it's a nicely sculpted and scaled body. The big difference here is the head, and they've done a reasonable job capturing the pretty boy. I really like the work on the hair and bangs, where there's some excellent small detail work and just the right amount of 'poof'.

My big complaint with him is the funky eyebrows. The paint doesn't help, but they are also sculpted in a somewhat suprised or perplexed expression, which makes him look weak and ineffective. It's not a massive issue, but since the head is the only real new aspect of this figure, I'm especially picky about it.

The regular version of Vala is a another solid if not stupendous job. I think this is a case where the paint isn't quite up to the job of really showcasing the sculpt, and instead detracts from it, making it a tough call. There are minor problems again - the face seems a little thin, the lips a little small - but still certainly a recognizable character. There's good work on the hair again, and the body sports a nice sculpt as well. Again, there's some reuse here of body parts from Carter, but she's distinct enough to be quickly distinguished on the shelf. The expression works well too, matching up with the squinty expression Claudia Black usually has.

The Avalon version of Vala is supposed to be one hot chick. The black leather outfit looks good from the waist down, and the head sculpt is actually quite pretty. It's less manly than the regular version, although considering how 'manly' Vala usually looks, you might consider that a negative.

But what happened to this poor woman's torso? The torso is very deep from front to back, with deep cuts on either side under the arms. The breasts are squished up into tiny orbs, almost like a) her torso is oddly formed to begin with and b) the corset is strapped on so tight it's smashing flesh in ways it shouldn't be smashed. This oddly shaped body is hard to show in photos, largely because of the black paint, but trust me - in person it's a huge distraction.

These figures do match up pretty well in scale with past figures, although there hasn't been a huge variation within the size of the males. The also all stand great on their own, and as mentioned, the hands are all well designed for holding the accessories.

One downside on all the figures is a rather soft plastic. You'll notice that the right hand on Vala (holding the gun) seems a bit smashed and elongated. This was done by the rubber band holding the gun in her hand, because the plastic used is so soft. This is an issue for the articulation as well, since many of the joints are paint stuck, and it's much more difficult to free them without damage when the softer plastic being used.

Paint - Avalon Vala ***; regular Vala, Prior, Mitchell **1/2
The general quality of the paint on all four figures is quite good, and if you're merely looking for a score for technical application, you can add another half star.  There's very little slop, cuts are generally clean, and the use of dry brushing and washes is appropriate without being excessive.

But for me, three of these four figures had some sort of major malfunction when it came to the paint design, color or style.  First up is the regular version of Vala.  She's much paler than the Avalon version, almost as pale as the albino Prior.  And while the hairline is clean and neat, it has this sort of weird boxy thing going on around the sides and ears that doesn't look right to me.  She has one of those paint jobs that doesn't do all it can to bring out what I think is a pretty good sculpt.

I've already complained about Mitchell's eyebrows in the Sculpt section, but they could have fixed it with the paint.  Instead, they are painted at this odd, upward angle toward the middle of his face, making him appear perplexed.  There are a lot of action figure expressions I don't like, but I think "Huh?" is right at the top of the list.

Finally, there's the Prior.  Perhaps this is supposed to be a specific Prior, one that doesn't have quite the traditional white hair and gray eyes, but I don't think so.  Last time I checked - again, I'm not a huge fan, so don't kill me if I'm wrong - Prior's had white hair and white/gray eyes with NO pupils.  So what's up with the dark hair and obvious black pupils? UPDATE - I found an online photo of this specific prior, and no, there shouldn't be pupils.  Also, while his hair was a little darker than other Priors, it's not nearly this dark.

Articulation - Prior ***; Valas **1/2; Mitchell **
All the figures sport enough points, but the points themselves are a little blunt.

The Prior has a ball jointed neck, sorta, kinda ball jointed shoulders (he has a ball at the torso, but it has a very limited distance it can move outward from the body), pin elbows, cut wrists, cut waist, T hips, pin knees, and cut calves.  It's certainly a reasonable amount of articulation for a figure of this style, and he can take classic poses with his accessories.

Mitchell also has the ball jointed neck, which works quite well for him, similar shoulders, pin elbows, cut wrists, T hips, and cut waist, like the Prior.  He adds bicep cuts, but has only cut knees and no ankle/calf joints.  Still, his score would have equaled the Prior had it not been for how tightly his elbows and wrists are stuck.  I haven't tried the freezer trick yet, but at this point I haven't successfully broken them free.  Twisting the wrists too much is going to tear them, and pushing on the elbows any more will snap the bicep cut pins.  When you pay fifteen bucks for something, you expect it to work out of the package, and not require resorting to old wive's remedies. 

The regular version of Valas is a cross between these two.  She has the pin knees of the Prior, but lacks his cut calves.  She also adds in the cut biceps of Mitchell.  Again, I had serious issues getting some of these joints to work, especially the wrists.

Finally, there's the Avalon version of Vala.  She sports the least amount of articulation, since she has cut shoulders instead of even the restricted ball joints, and no bicep cuts.  She does have a cut thigh though, and the pin knees.  I also had a lot of trouble with her wrists, especially the right wrist.  Instead of being stuck, the hand keeps falling off!

Accessories - Prior, Mitchell ***; Valas **1/2
Another area that sees a LOT of reuse is the Accessories.  This is more of an issue for the Valas, since they don't include any part of the DHD.

The Prior has the top of the DHD, along with his staff and Book of Origins.  Although that's not a lot, he gets credit for having unique character specific goodies.  The staff is very cool, and he looks terrific posed with it.  The book is a nice idea, and he can hold it in both hands, but the writing is merely scribbles.

I'm not counting it as an accessory, but the rubber outer shirt on the Prior is removable.  It comes off over his head, and includes the hood that folds down on his back.  I shot the very first photo at the top of the review without it for comparison. 

Mitchell has the bottom half of the DHD, and you know I love these BAA's.  The two halves snap together easy enough, and the DHD really does look terrific.  The scale is decent, and the sculpt and paint really make it one of the nicer looking display items in the line so far, including the gate.

He also has the soft vest, P-90 rifle, zat, radio, and G.D.O. that most of the other figures came with.  He does have two unique accessories in the episode specific sword and bo staff with wrapped ends, but both of these accessories are such soft plastic that they practically wilt in his hands.

Both Valas have very similar accessories.  They both have 'ancient communication device', along with a zat and two of the small blue gemstones.  These things are itty bitty - blink and you'll lose them.  They both also have the 'big crayons', which have a proper name but I can never remember what it is, so I just give up.  And while I'm sure we're not supposed to think these are really some sort of self pleasuring device, I find it odd that only the female characters have come with them.  Oh, and to differentiate these crayons from Carter's (which was yellow), the Avalon Vala has a blue one and the regular Vala has a red one.

That's it for the Avalon Vala, but the regular version also reuses the P-90 and the small radio.  If you're just going by sheer number of accessories, all of these do pretty well, especially Mitchell.  But once you take into consideration the heavy reuse, they take a bit of a hit. 

Fun Factor - **1/2
The stuck joints on these hurt them in a couple categories, this being one of them While this was worst on Mitchell, they all had wrist issues that would easily result in a kid (or even me) twisting the hands right off.

Of course, how many kids actually watch SG-1, and if they don't none of these figures are really generically interesting enough to fill in as bad guys in other play scenarios.

Value - Prior, Mitchell ***; Valas **1/2
You can expect to pay the usual $13 - $15 a pop, often depending on whether you buy a set or individuals. Ori and Mitchell have the extra added coolness of the DHD, giving them a slight boost. I'm a sucker for build a anythings. The Valas have a lot of reuse though, making them less of a value for your buck.

Things to Watch Out For - 
Be careful with those stuck joints. I almost broke the wrists on a couple of them, and the elbows are so tightly stuck on Mitchell that I almost broke the bicep joints trying to free them up.

Overall - Prior, regular Vala ***; variant Vala, Mitchell **1/2
I've been a big proponent of this line since series 1.  Even though I'm not a huge fan of the show, I could tell the kind of attention and care DST was paying the license, and the quality really shone through.

This series was a bit of a let down though.  The severely stuck joints, paint oddities, and heavy, heavy reuse broght these down a bit from exciting to merely acceptable.  The big saving grace was the BAA, and the DHD will look terrific in your display.

Another upside to this line up was that there were three new characters.  Unfortunately, the fourth series will be predominately rehashes of previous waves.  However, DST has announced the first series of Stargate Atlantis figures for later this year, and I'm hopeful that they'll be of a similar or even better quality than the SG-1 line up.

Score Recap:
Packaging - **1/2
Sculpt -  Prior ***1/2; regular Vala, Mitchell ***; variant Vala **1/2
Paint - Avalon Vala ***; regular Vala, Prior, Mitchell **1/2
Articulation - Prior ***; Valas **1/2; Mitchell **
Accessories - Prior, Mitchell ***; Valas **1/2
Fun Factor - **1/2
Value - Prior, Mitchell ***; Valas **1/2
Overall - Prior ***; Valas, Mitchell **1/2

Where to Buy -
These are available online of course - 

- Alter Ego has the set of three regular figures for $38.22, and the Avalon Vala for $12.74.

- Both CornerStoreComics and Amazing Toyz have the set of four (includes the variant Avalon Vala) for $44, or the singles for $11.99 - $14.99 depending on the character. They also have the 'chase' Jackson for $23.

- Forbidden Planet in the U.K. has all the figures for 10 pounds each, including the Black Ops Jackson.

- YouBuyNow has the Avalon Vala for $14.24.

- Time and Space Toys has sold out of their sets, but you can still pick up the regular three as singles for $15 each.

Related Links -
I've reviewed a number of the earlier Stargate figures in two reviews, one around series 1 and one around series 2.


Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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