Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Marvin, Zaphod, Arther, Jeltz and Kwaltz 

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was original a comedy radio series in the U.K., produced of course by the BBC. It's success lead to the first book in 1979, which I read in college. A BBC television series, more novels, and an interactive game followed, to be capped off - at this point - by the recently released film.

The creator of this absurd yet hilarious universe was Douglas Adams, who died in 2001 at the far too young age of 49. I am a huge fan of his work, both the Hitchhiker's series and the Dirk Gently series, and so I had high expectations for both the film and the inevitable pop culture merchandise.

NECA picked up the license, and is doing a variety of figures and prop replicas. Last week I reviewed the 10" Marvin, and tonight I have the 5 regular release 6" scale action figures.

Packaging - **
They went with clamshells, which I like, even when they run longer in height than in width. These are more tall rectangles than the clamshells from McToys or Palisades.

But they went with dull inserts, which I don't like. The rest of the line is pictured on the back, but the front is very dull, and the only unique feature for each character is a sticker on the bubble with their name and a small picture. There isn't even a listing of the accessories they come with.

Sculpting - Jeltz ***1/2; Kwaltz ***; Marvin **1/2; Arthur, Zaphod **
There's a huge discrepancy in this line between the best figures and the worst. Inconsistency appears to be the motto.

Of these five figures, the only one that will end up on my shelf long term is Jeltz. He and Kwaltz are the Vogons of course, and Jeltz was more specifically the Vogon that destroyed the Earth. His scale is a tad small (every one of these figures is identical in height), but the level of detail and accuracy are certainly in line with what you expect.

I was surprised to not see any of his rather obvious and thick hairs on his face, but there is plenty of other detail here. He looks just like he's finishing up a rather tedious and deadly verse of poetry, or perhaps is reviewing a form that needs to be stamped. The look of disdain is pretty much his standard expression, and NECA did capture it well. Jeltz's hand sculpts are good, and he can easily hold his one accessory. He even stands great on his own.

Kwaltz's sculpt is not quite as good, and tends to be more heavy handed, especially in the fatty nature of the face. The clothing lacks some of the detail that is present on Jeltz as well, and the paint ops (which I'll get to in a minute) don't help a whole lot. He's not terrible, but not distinct enough from Jeltz or great enough on his own to really do much for me.

Kwaltz stand fine on his own, but you'll have to play around a bit to get his hand sculpt to work with his single accessory.

Marvin looks very much like the 10" version, and also looks fairly accurate to the film if you can ignore that scale issue again. Speaking of scale, this line is in a 6" scale, or 1/12th. But rather than make Zaphod the center character for scale, making him 6" tall with Arthur about 5 3/4" tall, Marvin slightly smaller than that, and the Vogons around 7" tall, they made them all the same height. If anything, Marvin is slightly taller than the rest, which makes him seem truly huge, since he's got such a big noggin'. That's unfortunate, since it makes the problem obvious when placing them together on the shelf.

Back to Marvin. If you can ignore his height and size, the sculpt is pretty accurate. He is very light weight and cheap feeling though, and a more brittle form of plastic was used. He's not as good as the 10" version in this regard, and doesn't even stand quite as well on his own.

When it comes to Arthur and Zaphod, I don't even know where to begin. This is the worst work I've seen from NECA, and I have no idea what went wrong. Neither of these head sculpts looks anything like the actual actor or character, and Zaphod is downright ugly. They've made Arthur look rather handsome actually, but I doubt Martin Freeman was so vain as to cause that.

Both body sculpts are decent, if somewhat less detailed than past NECA work. I do like the detail that went into Zaphod's hands and jewelry, but he is wearing what I thought was a sash, but ended up just painted on his pants. Considering how big this license was for NECA to snag, I'm surprised the figures turned out this poorly.

Arthur stands great, and you can manage to get him to hold his towel, at least for brief periods, if you work at it. I couldn't manage it in the hand they showed in the prototype photos (the left), but I was able to get it to stay in the right.

Unfortunately, I couldn't get Zaphod to stand to save his life. And I threatened, believe me. The sculpted stance is actually pretty good, but that doesn't mean much if he's suffering from the action figure form of erectile dysfunction.

Paint - Jeltz ***; Kwaltz, Marvin, Zaphod **1/2; Arthur **
I'm betting there will be some inconsistency here, and you might find your Arthur looks better than your Zaphod, for example. But the breakdown with my figures was pretty obvious.

Jeltz looks good, although not outstanding. There's enough color here to make him stand out, and most of the application is good. Wash haters will have something to complain about though, and there's some sloppiness in the eyes and face.

Kwaltz has that heavy handed thing going on again, with too much thick dark wash on the face, and a terrible high gloss coat over his entire body and clothing. I could see it if you were trying to make him appear 'slimey', but all over?

Marvin has some of the inconsistency issues with the pearl white that the 10" model had, with some places too thick and others too thin. The pins in his elbows are also already showing black through the white, and several of the edges on the smaller areas, like the eyes, are sloppy and uneven.

Zaphod's work shows more of the sloppy edge work, with bleed from some colors into others and wonky looking eyes. The paint ops do nothing to improve the already below average sculpting.

Arthur was my biggest disappointment though, with heavy dark marks on either side of the nose, and really poorly done white edges on the bottom and top of his t-shirt. The skin tone seems way off as well, and considering how integral this character was to the film, it really is a disappointment.

Articulation - Jeltz, Kwaltz, Marvin **1/2; Arthur, Zaphod **
Jeltz and Kwaltz don't have more articulation than the other figures, but with their particular character designs, some of the cutbacks are at least more sensible.

They both have ball jointed shoulders, cut elbows, cut wrists, waist and cut ankles. The arms actually work much better than I had expected, but pin elbows would have been preferred, and the lack of any neck joint is annoying. It could have turned at the body at least.

Marvin's articulation is similar to the 10" version, but the neck joint does not have the same range of movement. He also has ball jointed shoulders, pin elbows and wrists, waist and hips.

Arthur and Zaphod are pretty much statues other than the arms and neck. They both have ball jointed necks (although Zaphod's hair really restricts his), ball jointed shoulders, cut elbows, and cut wrists. Zaphod adds in cut ankles, although it does no good in helping him stand. Oddly, there's no waist joint on Arthur, but there is on Zaphod.

Accessories - Marvin **1/2; Arthur, Jeltz, KWaltz, Zaphod **
Of the five characters, three of them - Arthur, Jeltz and Kwaltz - come with a single accessory.

Arthur has his towel of course, although I don't remember one with green hearts on it from the film. Then again, I wasn't paying that much attention to the towel pattern. It can fit in his hand, and is made of a softer rubber.

Jeltz has the microphone for the Vogon P.A. system, with a black wire running out from it. It fits nicely in his hand, and at least matches up well with the film. Of course, with all the cool Vogon bureaucratic stuff they had, some additional accessories might have been nice.

Same thing for Kwaltz, who comes with his monocle. I couldn't actually get him to wear it though, and it barely fits in his hand without falling out. If you manage not to lose this one within the first five minutes, you'll be doing quite well.

Zaphod actually has two accessories, his funky little gun that looks an awful lot like a tape dispenser, and his goggles. The thick glasses match up with the film pretty well, but getting him to wear them is another trick. I had to put them up underneath his hair, but to do so meant I had to pull one side loose from the glue.

Even though Zaphod has his funkadelic hand poses ("Hey, dude!") he can still hold the red gun pretty easily, and make it look right.

Finally, there's Marvin, who has exactly the same things the large Marvin has - an extra right hand, and his gun. The hands swap easy enough, and the basic gun looks good.

Overall though, considering the $11 - $13 price point, these small accessories are mighty slim pickens.

Fun Factor - Marvin ***; Kwaltz, Jeltz **1/2; Arthur, Zaphod *1/2
Kids will look past the faults of Marvin, because he's a nifty little robot. I know my kids did, and wanted to play with him right away. However, he's not as sturdy as his 10" cousin, so don't be surprised if he returns in pieces.

The others are a mixed bag at best. Kids might find the disgusting appearance of Kwaltz and Jeltz amusing, but Zaphod and Arthur will do very little for them.

Value - **
These guys are running around $12 each at most places, which makes them a pretty weak value. The sculpts on 2 of the 5 are well below average, and the articulation, paint and accessories leave something to be desired.

Things to watch out for - 
If you can pick them out on the peg, pay special attention to the paint ops. And once you have them open, be careful you don't lose the tiny accessories.

Overall - Jeltz ***; Kwaltz, Marvin **1/2; Arthur, Zaphod **
I'm usually quite happy with NECA's work, but they missed the mark in a major way this time. While Jeltz isn't bad, he's not spectacular, and the rest of the line is sub-average. Arthur and Zaphod are particularly disappointing, and it's not just in one area, but in several - sculpt, paint, accessories, etc. The quality of the overall line was a major disappointment.

I also saw the 3" versions today at Media Play, and I'm quite happy that I didn't buy those. Think these figures only half the size and half as good. Marvin even had discolored white sections of his body!

I did see the full size Marvin gun though, and that was actually pretty cool. It looks like the large 1:1 props will be the best thing NECA does in this series, and perhaps they put all their eggs in that particular basket, and paid far less attention to the actual action figures.

Packaging - **
Sculpt/Design - Jeltz ***1/2; Kwaltz ***; Marvin **1/2; Arthur, Zaphod **
Paint - Jeltz ***; Kwaltz, Marvin, Zaphod **1/2; Arthur **
Articulation - Jeltz, Kwaltz, Marvin **1/2; Arthur, Zaphod **
Accessories - Marvin **1/2; Arthur, Jeltz, KWaltz, Zaphod **
Fun Factor - Marvin ***; Kwaltz, Jeltz **1/2; Arthur, Zaphod *1/2
Value - **
Overall - Jeltz ***; Kwaltz, Marvin **1/2; Arthur, Zaphod **

Where to Buy - 
I've seen these hit Media Play, and have heard they are also at Hot Topic. Online sponsor options include:

- CornerStoreComics has the individual figures for $12, or the set for $55.

- has them for $12 each, or the set for $60.

- Alter Ego doesn't have the figures, but they do have all the props available.

- Dark Shadow Collectibles also lacks these figures, but has the 10" figure in stock, with preorders up for the POV gun.

Related links:
I just reviewed the 10" Marvin last week, and I was considering reviewing the 3" versions until I saw them in person today. If you thought I was hard on the 6" versions, you don't want to see my review of the 3" versions. I left them on the pegs.

I also reviewed the movie, and you can find that here.

And if you're looking for a great all purpose Hitchhiker's Guide site, I recommend the Hitchhiker's Guide Project

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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