Pirates of the Caribbean
Cursed Jack Sparrow and Barbossa Boxed Set

Just a few years ago, you couldn't find a pirate toy to save your life. Now, you can't walk down a toy aisle at Target without tripping over it. And with the second Pirates of the Caribbean flick just around the corner, it's only going to get worse (or better, depending on your point of view).

NECA is producing 'collectible' figures for the second film, but isn't quite done dipping into the treasure chest that is the first flick. Their latest release is the Cursed Jack Sparrow and Cursed Barbossa boxed set, commemorating the final big battle scene in the original movie.

This set retails for around $25, and I have my usual suggestions at the end of the review. The bases included with this set combine with the bases from other recent NECA releases to form the full grotto playset, adding a tremendous value to your display.

Packaging -  ***
NECA does a fairly nice job producing packaging for the MIBers out there. You can keep the set in the box if you'd like, and still enjoy the figures and accessories. They're a little hard to see around the stalagmites and stalactites, but the package is definitely attractive and sturdy.

They've also included a nifty 'map' of the grotto, showing exactly who's base goes where in laying it all out. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Sculpting - Barbossa ***1/2; Jack ***
The sculpts on both figures are excellent, but Barbossa really stands out. Jack's issues may be more paint related than sculpt related though - more on that in the next section.

Barbossa is amazing from head to foot, with terrific detail over every inch. The cursed head has exposed bone on one cheek, exposed red flesh on the nose, and rotting lips pulled back from crooked teeth. The work on the hair and beard is nicely done without being overdone, and the realism of the head sculpt is excellent. This is one of my favorite head sculpts in the entire line so far.

His body work isn't anything to sneeze at either, even if you have the bird flu. The outer coat has a corduroy appearance and texture, and there are buttons and ornate decorations sculpted all around. The sculpted flow of his baggy pants matches gravity and the position of the body, and sculpt of the bony right arm works pretty well with the limited articulation.

He does have a bit of an awkward leg pose, but it does match up nicely with the personality of the on screen character. You'll have to play around a bit with the feet to get him in the sweet spot, but once you do he'll remain standing just fine.

His hand sculpts aren't really designed to work with any accessories, although you can get his right hand to hold the sword if you put a little effort into it.

Jack's head sculpt has lots of cursed goodness, but it's proportion is throwing me off a bit. The red rag seems to cover a HUGE forehead and skull, almost as large as his very face. This weird internal proportion throws off the appearance of the skull, especially when wearing the hat.

His face is quite flat as well, lacking much rotting flesh. It really reminded me of a bulldog who's been chasing parked cars. Even the eyes are shallow in the head, making the entire face appear 2 dimensional.

The body sculpt fairs better, although we've seen much of this body before. He's wearing his usual outfit, but has a cursed right arm. His hands are sculpted to work with the accessories a little better than Barbossa's. He also stands great on his own, which is a good thing since neither base comes with any pegs to attach the figures. The feet have peg holes though, if you have other bases you want to use them with.

Jack has a spot sculpted in his sash/belt to hold a flintlock, and his compass is tied to him (permanently) as well.

We get to see more of Jack's rotting flesh than Barbossa's, including his rib cage. Actually, there's not much flesh, as he's mostly bony skeleton, at least in the moonlight.

It is important to note though that there's a fair amount of reuse in the sculpt department.  Barbossa's body with the exception of his cursed arm is identical in sculpt (but not paint) to his first version.  His head sculpt is new of course.  Jack's lower body is also from the first figure, but his cursed upper body is all new.

Paint - Barbossa ***1/2; Jack **1/2
There are times when NECA over does the dry brushing and paint washes. Thankfully, Barbossa isn't one of them.

Oh, there's some dry brushing and paint washes - they just don't detract from the figure, but rather improve the detail and appearance. The work on the face is particularly nice, especially the ghostly blue cast given to the eyes. The small details of rotting flesh and exposed bone look extremely realistic in color and tint, with tons of small detail work. His inner coat is another fine example of NECA at their best, with colorful details included that add visually appeal and flair.

Jack's not quite as impressive, and his issues of 'flat face' are further exaggerated by the flatter, more monotone appearance of his cursed skin. The paint work on the eye sockets and lips flatten them out rather than giving them depth, hurting the sculpt further.

The rest of his paint work is great though, with almost no slop and very clean cuts between colors. Like Barbossa, Jack has plenty of detail paint work on his clothing, although nothing quite as intricate as Barbossa's inner jacket.

My issues with the paint are mainly style and execution, not basic quality. I'm also very pleased that neither one looks like a powdered donut.

Articulation - **1/2
The articulation is adequate, if not suprising.

Both figures have ball jointed necks, which work better than you might expect with the longer hair.  The also have NECA style ball jointed shoulders, pin elbows on the cursed right arm, cut wrists, cut waist, and cut ankles at the top of the boots.

It's not a ton of articulaiton, but it does allow you to pose the arms and keep them standing.

Accessories - ****
The playset and accessories features of this set is where it really shines.

Each figure comes with a base, intricately detailed and including various sculpted pieces of gold and booty. The paint job implies that the center section of the bases are actually moonlit, with a lighter bluish paint used. What's really cool about this is that if you pose Jack and Barbossa on their bases in a fighting stance, with the right arms forward toward each other, they appear to have that section of their body in the moonlit area, while the remaining fleshy parts are just outside the circle. It's a very cool detail, and adds a great deal to the display.

The third piece of the grotto scene is the huge treasure chest, which has it's own rocky base. It sits on the rocks nicely, but is not permanently attached. The lid snaps on and off tightly, and inside is a pile of soft rubber coins. Another neat feature is that the coin 'slab' can be removed, and all the extra accessories put below it, safe and sound.

The outside of the chest is amazing in its detail. It looks fantastic, and would fit in with any action figure line that needs a sarcophagus or tomb in this scale. For example, this item would look fantastic with your Buffy and Angel figures.

On top of that, they've added a bunch of extra goodies. There's two flintlock pistols, both with very different sculpts, the two swords for Barbossa and Jack (both of which fit easily in their scabbards), two hats (one for Jack and one for Barbossa, complete with feather), a knife, a whisky bottle, and an extra hand for Jack. One of the pistols has a soft rubber 'clip' on the back that will allow you to attach it to Barbossa or Jack's belt across their chest. Both hats fit easily on the pirates, but Barbossa's is the better looking, due to the weird size of Jack's head (mentioned earlier). These accessories can be added to the display as you like, or tossed in side the chest for storage. 

There's also an extra right hand for Jack, in case you'd rather pose him with the other accessories. Be careful popping the hands on and off though, as the pegs are quite small.

The possessed monkey is worth a mention all his own. Barbossa has to have his monkey of course, and here it's been hit by the moonlight after being cursed as well. The arms and legs on the skeleton monkey seem a bit disproportionately long, but the sculpt is great otherwise. His one other issue is in his connector pin, which is very short. Keeping him plugged into Barbossa's shoulder is no easy task, and the pin needed to be a little longer.

Fun Factor - ***
While the thin right arms on both figures might be a tad too easy to break for small children, this is a fun play set for slightly older kids who aren't looking to tear them up. You've got pirates and skeletons - what more could you possibly want?

Value - ***
I'm grading this set at about $25, where it's a better than average value. You're getting two figures from a hot license, a great play set, and extra accessories, all for the price of far less intricate sets currently on the market. If you can get this closer to $20, you can add another half star.

Things to watch out for - 
Be careful working the joints loose on the right arms, where the thin bones can easily be damaged. And of course, if you have the chance, pick out the best paint job you can find.

Overall -  ***1/2
This is a surprisingly nice boxed set, with a whole lot more detail and tons more accessories than I had expected. The huge treasure chest is fantastic, and the overall gimmick of putting specific figures from other waves together with these to form the grotto is one I can definitely buy into.

Now, if I were grading the figures individually, Jack would probably end up with only *** because of my handful of issues with the paint and sculpt. However, the overall boxed set manages to make up for some of his personal shortcomings, bringing the final score up a notch.

Packaging - ***
Sculpt - Jack ***; Barbossa ***1/2
Paint - Jack **1/2; Barbossa ***1/2
Articulation - **
Accessories - ****
Fun Factor - ***
Value - ***
Overall -  ***1/2

Where to Buy -
Some Hot Topic and Spencer's stores MAY get these in, but your best bet is online:

- CornerStoreComics has it in stock for $23.

- Killer Toys has the set for $27.

Related Links:
Ah, there be lots of piratey goodness here:

- there's a guest review of Elizabeth Swann and my review of the second cursed Pirate, as well as my review of Pintel at Movie Poop Shoot, and Regatti here.

- NECA did a full first series, including Barossa, Turner, Sparrow and a dead Pirate.

- they also did a terrific 18" version of Sparrow.

- Zizzle's line of 3 3/4" has gotten a review of some of the figures, along with a guest review of the Isla Cruces set.

- Disney just released some figures based on the actual park attraction, and not the film.

- Mezco recently released some very cool Pirate Mez-itz, not based on any license, but cool nonetheless.

- and if you like your pirates a little more 'real', there's always Blackbeard from Sideshow.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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