SEARCH REVIEWS    LIVING WITH LATE FEES    FEATURES    LINKS    BIO    MISSION    EMAIL    MAIN PAGE >


Cast-A-Way Toys
The Phantom (Gray Ghost exclusive)

The Phantom action figure by Cast Away Toys

When you're talking old school heroes, you can't forget the classic Phantom. Created as a newspaper strip in 1936, he has been adapted in every form of media since. While not the first crime fighting hero, he is the first to wear the skin tight costume that would become the hallmark of the later superheroes.

Cast-A-Way Toys is producing nostalgia based 8" figures, much like the old Megos, and have just released their Phantom. The version I'm reviewing today was available as an exclusive at the FX show in Florida, and includes the extra parts to create the Gray Ghost" variant figure. Lee Falk originally envisioned the costume as gray, not purple, and even considered calling him the Gray Ghost instead of the Phantom (there were a lot of other 'phantom' characters back then), but eventually he stuck with the name and the purple color. It's a very nice nod to the origins though to include the optional gray outfit and head.

There's also an early bird version of this figure that has an additional yellow outfit, which has sold out. Of course, you can also order the normal Phantom (as well as his evil arch enemy Achmed) for $25 each.

Even better, they produced a skull throne environment for him that was also available either at the FX Show as an exclusive, or through their Collectors Club.
I have a review of it up over at Quick Stop as well.
The Phantom action figure by Cast Away Toys
The Phantom action figure by Cast Away Toys
The Phantom action figure by Cast Away Toys
The Phantom action figure by Cast Away Toys
The Phantom action figure by Cast Away Toys
The Phantom action figure by Cast Away Toys
The Phantom action figure by Cast Away Toys
The Phantom action figure by Cast Away Toys
The Phantom action figure by Cast Away Toys

Packaging - ****
These figures are destined for collectors, and Cast-A-Way knows that, so they developed their own collector friendly packages. The plastic bubble opens easily, and everything can be removed without damage. You can pop him right back in, easy cheesy lemon squeezey.

I love the original card art, which hearkens back to the older style strip art. Overall, it's a beautiful job, particularly for such a small company. One of the nice features of the resealable package is that the card art just slips right out too, allowing you to frame it behind the figure (and throne) on the shelf.

Sculpting - ***1/2
Before we go any further, let's just get it out of the way. If you're not into Megos, and have no nostalgia or desire for old style 70's toys, then there's really nothing for you here. These aren't figures designed to compete with Sideshow or Hot Toys - they are figures that are intended to be displayed in Mego collections, by fans of the older style line of 8" figures. That's the stick against I'll be measuring them.

And with that intention, Cast-A-Way does a remarkable good job of giving us a figure that is very much like the old Mego...but adds in some much appreciated improvements.

Scale-wise (yes, these are 8"), the Phantom will fit in perfectly with your old Star Trek, Superhero or POTA Megos. The sculpting on the head and hands is also designed to fit that style, but has a bit more detail in some ways than the old toys.

The work on the face, while basic, has better definition in the various cut lines, particularly around the nose eye mask. The cowl has a distinct edge, and the smile is clear and sharp through out it's length.

But perhaps the best sculpting detail is on the hands, where both rings are present. The Phantom always wore two rings, each a symbolic mark. On one ring are what appears to be four sabers (which are also very much like four P's), and this was the mark that he left to symbolize someone that was under his protection. On the other hand is a ring with the trademark skull, and the ring would leave this mark on you when he struck you, marking you as evil. They have the rings on the proper hands as well - good on the left, bad on the right. It's a little tough to show the detail in photos, but in person they look quite good.

Both hands are sculpted in a rubber soft material, making it easy for them to hold the guns. The trigger fingers are properly positioned as well.

Paint - ***
There's not a ton of paint detail, but what's here is reasonable clean. The most important is the cowl, mask and eyes, and on both heads these are well done, with sharp cut lines and no bleed.

The only real small detail work is the rings, and these could have been a little better. The sculpt detail is actually hidden a bit by the paint, and in person this is easier to recognize.

Articulation - **1/2
The old Mego body has been improved on here, and Cast-A-Way sells these new bodies for customizers to take advantage of.

Unfortunately, it was the body that caused me the most issues. I actually had two - the gray version and purple version were both dressed at the same time to allow for the group photo - and I could tell that there are variations body to body.

There's *almost* enough articulation to make me happy. The cut neck is the only disappointment, making it difficult to get truly natural poses. He ended up looking upward a bit all the time, and that would be the one articulation addition I wish they'd make. Of course, it'd be tricky to do so and still allow the body to be used as a replacement for older Megos, but I bet they could find a way with a well designed neck post.

The rest of the body takes the traditional Mego style and improves on it. Pins are the word of the day here, with pin/post ball shoulders, pin elbows, pin knees, pin wrists, pin ankles...lots of pin joints. There's a ball chest joint as well, but no cut joints on the thighs, one other addition that would round out this body nicely.

The lack of the ball neck and cut thighs isn't my big issue however - it's that getting the body to take and hold natural, flowing poses can be pretty tough. In fact, I had a Hell of a time just getting the Gray version to stand. The problem here is the elastic bands that hold the limbs in place. If these are extremely tight, it becomes very difficult to get the legs to stay in any one pose. On the purple version, these were a bit looser, and getting him to stand was a bit easier. Still, it wasn't ideal, and made for a bit of frustration for me.

Accessories - ***1/2
Remember, this is the exclusive version with extra goodies, and that adds to the score here.

The regular version has the two M1911 pistols, which are decent, but not exceptional. They sculpt is fairly basic, and they are a smidge oversized. But they fit nicely in the hands and holster, and look pretty good doing it. The slightly less detailed look works with the overall simplicity of the figure design.

The exclusive version includes a second gray outfit and a second gray head. And I don't mean Mego gray, I mean with a gray cowl.

This second outfit allows you to redress your figure in the alternate costume, in case you like a more serious look. I have to admit to really liking the gray version, even if it isn't quite canon.

Outfit - ***
The outfit consists of the purple leotard with sewn in striped undies, black plastic/rubber boots, and the rubber holster.

The rubber holster is made from high quality material, and the little post latches on each flap work relatively well. The buckle has the sculpted skull of course, and the belt fits tightly, never falling off with normal handling.

The boots are a basic sculpt, something that can be re-used across lots of characters, and the softer material makes them less prone to cracks over time. 

Finally, there's the suit. It's made from a high quality material, and fits quite tightly over the entire body. I've heard some folks have had issues with loose stitches, but both costumes - gray and purple - were great for me.

My only complaint here is the rather large snap at the back of the neck. They need to look for something a bit more in scale for future releases, perhaps the smaller plastic ones we've seen used by some other companies.

The outfit is definitely purple, more so than the photos show. It shot a bit more pink than it is, but trust me - it's purple. Likewise for the gray outfit, which is definitely gray but shot a little greener at times. Me thinks the window of my 'studio' may have been open, allowing some sun to come in when I was shooting these and I didn't notice til later.

Fun Factor - ***
Kids might not have any idea who he is, but he's still a great toy. Much like the Megos he mimics, there's plenty of play potential here. His only weakness is the simplicity of the design, something that worked for kids of the 70's, but would fall short with modern pre-adolescents.

Value - **1/2
You can't get a mass market figure for much less than $15 these days, and the MOTUC line - a collectors series - is $20. Those are smaller figures, with no cloth outfit and few accessories. For $20 - $25, you're getting a classic like the Phantom, in a very low edition size, which makes the regular release an above average value on the current market.

The Gray Ghost exclusive is actually more expensive though, running $45 at the show. This was a limited run of just 500 pieces, however.

The exclusives are going to cost you more, since you'll need to become a Club member (for $25) to have access to them, or travel to the shows they are released at. But the membership fee covers a year, and I used it to get both this figure and the Throne set, so the price ends up spread over multiple goodies.

Things To Watch Out For
Not a thing. These figures are even sturdier than the original Mego toys, with little chance for breakage or damage even if they were played with.

Overall - ***
It's with a bit of a melancholy that I review these figures. Why? Well, more than a decade ago, I was involved with a company called Flatt World Figures, and our second release was to be an 8" high end version of the Phantom. Alas, we never made it that far, but I've always thought the character had terrific potential. I'm glad to see that Cast-A-Way has gotten this character out there for the Mego fans and collectors to add to their display.

Of course, it also makes me wish we had a great sixth scale version. I wish a company that produces figures in a mid-range price, maybe somebody like Amok Time, would put out a pulp figures line, with Phantom, the Shadow, Flash Gordon, Zorro, Mandrake...that's one of those fantasy lines I hope to see one day.

Cast-A-Way has also produced a very, very cool throne diorama to go with this figure - I have my review up over at QSE right now for you to check out.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ****
Sculpting - ***1/2
Paint - ***
Articulation - **1/2
Accessories - ***1/2
Fun Factor - ***1/2
Value - **1/2
Overall - ***

Where to Buy -
This guy was an FX show exclusive, or you can joint the Collector's Club to get him.

Your other chance is to hit ebay, and see if you can find a deal.

Related Links -
I reviewed the Captain Action and Dr. Evil, as well as the Skull Throne exclusive.

Discussion:
Want to chat about this review?  Try out one of these terrific forums where I'll be discussing it!

Scroll down for lots more photos!



Share this review with others! 
  Digg it!    StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble It!      Reddit

The Phantom action figure by Cast Away Toys
The Phantom action figure by Cast Away Toys



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

This page copyright 2000 - 2008, Michael Crawford. All rights reserved. Hosted by 1 Hour Hosting.com