Che Guevara - Enterbay

   "The 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 guest author."

Jeff is back tonight with a look at the latest Enterbay figure - take it away Jeff!

In just a few short months ENTERBAY seem to have gone from being an also ran to being a serious contender again! They continue to impress at 1/6th scale, and have an even more impressive array of ¼ stuff planned for later this year and into 2013. So if the T800 was a taster of the quality they have planned for the rest of their work at this scale, we could be in for one hell of a geek ride. But it may also be time to take out second mortgages and start selling your less essential organs.

But back to Che here. This is ‘officially’ the first time that ENTERBAY have done this particular Marxist/Trotskyist Cuban revolutionary, note I say ‘officially’ because just a few months back they released the RM4-02 and there was very little doubt as to who it depicted. I reviewed it here and was impressed not just by the fact ENTERBAY had managed to crack the tricky 1/6th base body market, but also because they topped it off with a great bonus sculpt and fantastic paint apps. But, as I say, that was a bonus. This time it is actually MEANT to be Ernesto Che Guevara  (1928-1967), after all, that is what it says on the box… leading us nicely onto- 

Packaging - ****
I have said it before and I’ll say it again, ENTERBAY really know how to make a box!
It’s been an area they have consistently been strong in, and here they continue using their tried and tested layout which utilises top quality strong hard-board and a full foam surround for the figure.

The front and sides of the box are a deep mottled red out of which is the classic image by the Cuban photographer Alberto Korda titled ‘Guerrillero Heroico’. The photo was then used as the inspiration for the iconic screen print poster by the Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick and went on to be pinned to every ‘radical’ students wall from 1968 till today.

It needs little introduction, apart from to say regardless of political or geographical boundaries it has become an enduring symbol for revolution and the power that individuals can have to instill change over governments, and is as potent today as it has ever been.

The right hand side panel is magnetic and opens to the left. Once opened the left hand side has a shallow tray holding the accessories whilst the right is die-cut foam holding the fully dressed figure. The build quality is all faultless and the design is as iconic as it gets by way of using that classic image.

Sculpting - ****
YJ Park must be one of the busiest sculptors on the planet, so I asked ENTERBAY how he managed to produce so much work and found out that as well as doing his own sculpting work; he has recently been promoted to do more senior supervising work.  He is now responsible for the majority of ENTERBAYS products in terms of head sculpting prototype guidance and managing the quality of production painting and techniques.  He has several apprentices working under him, and this portrait is from his leading apprentice ‘Scuderia’, who I’m informed is now one of ENTERBAY’s lead head sculptors.  He was responsible for most of the 1/6 and 1/4 scale prototype head sculpting we have seen recently. People who know anything about the CEO of ENTERBAY: Mr Bill Chan might be familiar with the fact he’s something of a Ferrari fanatic (he drives one himself) and the company used to make scaled model Ferraris as well. You might be wondering where I’m going with this, but the name Scuderia is the Italian word for ‘stable’ (as in the place you keep horses), and is also the name of the Ferrari F1 team…leading me to surmise that the name might be some kind of alias… hmmmm, curious!

This portrait is based on Che in 1960 at the age of 31, just about his most photographed and pivotal time in his life.  It captures perfectly his stoic focussed expression. There is a look of brooding grief but tinged with controlled anger, as the source material for the sculpt was taken at memorial service for victims of the infamous La Coubra explosion where he had used his medical training to tend the dying and the injured.

The detailing is nothing short of fantastic, with some beautifully subtle work on his wispy beard and moustache. But the standout area for me is on his unruly mop of hair. He wears it long and unkempt, as let’s face it, he had his mind on other things rather than ‘how his hair looked’, and ‘Scuderia’ has gone to great lengths to capture just how it looked in that iconic shot. All the little waves and curls have been replicated, with many being small stuck on sections to add to the layering and realism of the finished look. The top section is pushed down so that the sculpted beret can fit snugly on to head, but even though they have done it this way, his hair still manages to look convincing, even when the hat is off. I’m normally someone who would always go for a fabric hat over plastic, but having seen how well this fits and just how convincing it looks when compared to the fabric beret I got for the previous RM4 figure (it’s the HT Barney Ross one), well, you can consider me convinced, but I shall include some comparison photos to help make my point!

If you do get this figure in hand you must compare it to that classic photo side by side because the likeness is truly amazing.

Paint - ****
We all know that YJ oversees the paint application on all his own sculpts, and as time goes by it is becoming more and more apparent that not only is this guy a prodigious talent in the sculptors room, but he is just as adept in the paint studio. This paint job has knocked my socks off, and from some of the forum feedback I’ve seen it has cemented ENTERBAY securely into the hearts of collectors all over world, even the ones who have no interest in this figure. It continues the outstanding work they showcased on the recent Scarface and Leon figures, but even manages to slightly trump them.

The hair is a dense black, but the deep crisp sculpting allows plenty of detail to shine through as light plays over its surface, but as convincing as the hair is, this is all about the flesh tones and eyes. To make this sculpt truly work it is essential to capture something of the intensity in that stare. That brooding stare that spells out that Ernesto Guevara was not a man to trifle with, you just know he would not suffer fools lightly… but hey that’s Marxists for ya, never famous for being a bundle of laughs. And if you thought they were you may be thinking of the Marx Brothers… totally different thing!

The skin is another master-class in understated perfection with warm swarthy tones that manage to look slightly grimy and sweaty. It never ceases to amaze me that if ENTERBAY, Hot Toys and companies like Dragon In Dreams can consistently pull jobs like this out of the bag, why it is that bigger companies can’t improve or even come close to matching this work on the larger scale pieces and statues they produce?

Then over the flesh tones we have the facial hair delicately painted in with a great degree of sensitivity, no harsh divisions are evident here and YJ shows an insightful eye for gentle observation. Then the eyes, those eyes that would make or break this portrait are just perfect in both the physical application but also and perhaps more importantly in the emotion they manage to convey. They work from all angles, but are best viewed when he is looking slightly up and to the right (his right, your left when viewing) again to match the famous photo.

There are also a few details painted on the various accessories that I shall cover later. But as far as the actual paint goes on the face, you have nothing to worry about, it’s just sublime!

Articulation - ****
With the RM-5 ENTERBAY really do have a base body that can be ranked with the best, and even the issues I had with the stiff neck on the Leon and base RM4-02 have now been ironed out with these newer versions. Many parts of the RM4 that I went over in detail here are replicated, in fact from the waist up it’s pretty much identical, as indeed are the arms. The main area of improvement here is the neck and upper torso, as now we have a silicone/rubber skin covering this portion of the body. The joint between the chest and abdomen allows a fair range of mobility, but it’s the neck I’m most impressed with. It’s quite a refined bit of engineering that doesn’t allow for extreme up, down or side to side movements (so no prone sniper poses will be on the cards). But it more than makes up for it in the way some very subtle and convincing head gestures can be achieved, and all without any visible engineering. This is without a doubt the best body to be released from ENTERBAY to date, and it shows that the company has seriously upped its game. They aren’t just playing with the big anymore… they are the big boys!

If they can continue to improve at the pace they are and follow up the recent spate of excellent quality figures they have released, I have a feeling that the Year of the Dragon could be a very good one for them, and the year of the snake may be even better!

Accessories - ***1/2
Che comes with a great selection of detailed goodies consisting of-

- one M2 carbine rifle
- one M1911 automatic pistol
- One holster for pistol
- one beret with red star
- one beret with gold star
- one wrist watch
- one black arm sling
- one Leica M2 camera
- one Cuban cigar
- one leather jacket
- one FS-201 figure stand

ENTERBAY also continue to improve on their accessories, both the weapons have removable magazines and cocking mechanisms and the rifle has an adjustable strap. The holster for the pistol is a well-tailored snug fit as described above. My personal favourite out of his accessories is the miniature Leica SLR camera. Guevara was known to have carried a camera on many occasions and was a keen amateur photographer, so the inclusion of this item is a nice touch. It features a soft leather strap and the tiny winder arm can even flip forward, and the fact its based on the Leica M2 is a nod to make and model that Alberto Korda used to capture the iconic Guevara image. The rest of the items are small and well observed, like the wrist watch and cigar, but obviously have no moving parts. They even included a strip of black material to make an arm sling to mimic the one worn in the famous photographs by Joel Scherschel, another nice addition.

Lastly there is the sturdy FS201 figure stand. Not the most exciting stand to look at visually and as most regular readers will know, Mike and I don’t favour stands at the best of times. However, if you are a ‘user’ this one is well made, has a metal support arm and the base section even has a hinged section that can flip out from underneath to give a larger surface area for those more dynamic poses.

So I’m happy with the selection and pretty much all bases are covered for his most memorable and iconic poses. I guess a small journal and a pipe would have completed the selection, but to be honest, much like the sling, they would have stayed in the box. It’s the inclusion of the camera that gets the biggest thumbs up from me.

Outfit - ****
Although Guevara was regularly photographed in his simple green/khaki military fatigues, for the classic photo that this figure emulates he also wore his dark chocolate brown leather bomber jacket zipped tight to his chin. And luckily this all important garment is included as an accessory.

The full outfit consists of moulded combat boots with working laces, these carry some impressive detailing on both the texturing and the detailing on the soles tread. Then he wears a matching pair BDU cargo trousers and a lightweight jacket/shirt, both these items have working pockets throughout and show a high standard of tailoring and finish. Over the shirt around the waist he wears a real webbing belt with working metal eyelets, sliders and buckle. At the right hip he wears a leather holster to hold his pistol. This is made of fake leather, but has a metal stud fastener, detailed scale stitching, a metal clip securing it to the belt and a pleather lanyard tied at its base.

The accessory jacket is also made of pleather, but looks very convincing at the scale with working zips, pockets and ribbed ‘knitted’ detailing at the shoulders, wrists and cuffs. The pockets here are also working and the whole outfit comes together beautifully.

Lastly we get not one but two of his iconic black berets, with a choice of either red or gold star insignia at the front. They are made of a soft textured vinyl and are sculpted to fit the head perfectly. I admit I’m usually more into fabric constructed hats, buts these do work exceptionally well and the fact you get two means you can even have one for your first non-official Che from ENTERBAY. As I said above, I did use one of the Hot Toys: Barney Ross berets for a while, but these do actually work better for this figure.

In short this is a relatively simple outfit for a company like ENTERBAY to get right, but that doesn’t undermine just how impressive the final outfit looks. And even though I liked the pleather boots on the DiD version, the overall aesthetic of this one is even more impressive, love it!

Value - ***1/2
One sticking point for some collectors is ENTERBAY’s price point. I already explained in my Scarface reviews that for a smaller company the higher overheads are bound to be reflected in the price, especially when they have to take a license into account. Here however there is no license to worry about, even the image used on the front of the box was made public property at the time of its creation in the Marxist spirit of things. However, quite what Guevara would make all these years later of people collecting highly priced plastic effigies of himself, whilst paying into mass consumerism in his name is another matter for us to wrestle with!

You can order this direct from ENTERBAY with free shipping during March (might be a moot point when you read this) and although that isn’t what anyone could consider cheap, I certainly see it as fair.

Fun Factor - ****
This is very much a hi-end GI Joe! I grew up playing with my old Action Man (UK equivalent) in my back garden scrabbling around in the undergrowth, and this is at its core just an ultra-detailed version of him. Yes the outfit is vastly superior to my old toys and yes the sculpting and paint apps are from another planet compared to his crude daubing’s, and it goes without saying that the detailing on his accessories are also more befitting the price we know pay. But in essence there is no reason you shouldn’t have as much fun with this figure as you did with your old Joe’s back in the day. This may however depend on your political leanings… GI Joe is an all American hero… Che Guevara… not so much!

Overall- ****
At $170 this actually looks like a pretty good deal to me. The new base body means he can pose well with some great subtle articulation available, meaning you can inject a lot of personality to your poses. The detailing is phenomenal, and although there has never been a shortage of good quality Guevara figures, at this present time I think it’s fair to say that ENTERBAY have produced the best so far… Viva la Revolución!

Where to Buy -
ENTERBAY are selling this directly from their own site for $170 with free shipping included during March.

It is also available through Mikes sponsor BBTS, who have it up for pre-order at $224.99. Or try hit eBay where prices are fluctuating between a low $199 up to $220.

This product was provided free for the review by the manufacturer. Photos and text by Jeff Parker.

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