Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
Silver Surfer

The second film in the Fantastic Four franchise, Rise of the Silver Surfer, is scheduled to hit theaters on June 15th. Before I look at one of the toys - the Silver Surfer himself, of course - I thought I'd lay out my bias on the film(s). While the first movie wasn't Catwoman bad, it certainly had its feet planted firmly in mediocrity. The trailers for the Rise of the Silver Surfer look terrific, but I learned long ago that the quality of a trailer has no relationship to the quality of a film, and so I've been a lot less excited about the release of this film than a lot of my fellow card carrying geeks. In fact, the odds of my seeing this movie in theaters is slim, at least until late July when I'm at SDCC. Even then, with the opening of the Simpsons movie that weekend, it's pretty unlikely.

But who knows. If the fans come back from the movie that Friday night practically killing themselves with praise for this film, I just might make an exception. If not, I'll certainly see it on DVD, with the rest of the masses.

In any event, I was very interested in seeing how the toys turned out, largely because I have been so hugely disappointed in comic book movie figures for the past couple years. Batman, Superman and Spider-man 3 all had sub-average lines, but perhaps Hasbro can pull it out with this series...

These are hitting major retailers everywhere right now, including Target and Toys R Us. The Silver Surfer appears to be short packed right now (uh, the movie is named after him, right?), but I'm hopeful that will change.

Packaging - **1/2
The packages are attractive enough, with good graphics, but they lack in a number of areas. My biggest complaint is the size, especially since this is a 5" line. The packages suck up more space than comparable 6 - 7" lines from other companies, with lots of wasted space inside the bubble. Now I know that Hasbro is trying to use the package to hog peg space, but it's still annoying for the actual consumer and wasteful as well.

The other big issue is the general lack of personalization. While there's a small photo and name on the left side for each character, that's about as far as any personalization goes.

Sculpting - ***1/2
There's not much to the sculpt of a character like the Surfer. There are almost no details on the character, and even the face is fairly expressionless. Still, they've done a very good job capturing his CGI appearance from the film, particularly in the eyes, nose and mouth. Scale is pretty good too, with less of a pinhead issue this time around. His head is still a bit smaller than it should be, but it's not as bad as some of the figures we saw with the earlier Spider-man wave.

The hands are sculpted in a half grip pose, and since there are no accessories, this works fine. In fact, I much prefer this to the usual fists, especially with this character.

Scale will be an issue for plenty of collectors, since you won't be adding this guy to any sort of Marvel Legends display. But hey, you've already got an excellent Surfer in that line, so you should stick this guy with the newly revamped Spider-man figures and call it a day. He's a bit tall for even that though, standing about 5 inches. He's closer in height to the Superman figure, making him a little big with some of the Spider-man stuff, but it's close enough that most folks won't mind.

Paint - ***
Certain colors are tougher to work with than others. Silver is definitely one of those colors. It tends to be difficult to make it consistent and even, and often any color below it will show through someplace. Hasbro has done a solid job getting a consistent coverage here, and the matte finish they used makes it appear more like a liquid metal than if they'd gone with a chrome appearance.

There's still a few issues though, including some rough texture around the shoulders and knees, and some missing areas on the neck where either the head rubbed it off, or it was simply never applied.

Articulation - ***
If you liked the articulation in the Spider-man line, you'll like what you get here with the Silver Surfer.

He has a pseudo ball jointed neck, but the fit between the neck and post is so tight, that operates pretty much like a cut joint. The ball jointed shoulders work much better, and although they are only jointed at the shoulder (unlike the aforementioned Spider-man, who in the super articulated movie version had joints on both sides of the ball), the range of movement is excellent.

There's double jointed elbows, and the very cool new pin/peg jointed knees that we also saw with the Spider-man line. these knee joints have a pin to move forward and back, and the pin is positioned at the base of a 'knee cap'. This means that the lower leg can move as far back as is possible with a double pin style joint. This knee cap then inserts into the thigh with a post, so that it can turn inside the thigh. This gives the lower leg a lot of movement, and excludes the need for any unsightly cut joints on the leg. The knee is also less obtrusive here than I thought it was on the Spider-man figures.

There's also pin ankles, ball jointed hips (very similar to the shoulders), and a very good ball jointed chest. There's no waist joint, but the chest works well enough to make it unnecessary.

In fact, the only reason this figure doesn't score another half star (or maybe even a full star) better is because of the lack of any wrists or forearm joints. Without them, you can't turn the hands in any way. That's really the only serious issue with an otherwise well designed figure.

Accessories - **1/2
There's not much in the way of accessories here, but there is the only one that really matters - his surfboard.

This is the Silver SURFER after all, and without his board he'd just be a dude that liked the look of chrome a little too much. The board is a good size, measuring about 6 inches long, and he can stand on it in any number of ways. It's nice that the board itself is larger than the figure.  The foot pegs are a little loose (turn him upside down and he'll have a tough time staying on the board), but they are placed in decent locations and can be used together or independently.

I really like the thickness and heft of the board, which makes it an excellent display base. Only one accessory leaves him a bit light in this category, and I'm sure folks would have preferred the magnet style attachments we had with the Marvel Legends version, but this board is a reasonable compromise.

Fun Factor - ***1/2
Kids will enjoy playing with this guy. He fits on the board pretty well, and the solid articulation combined with the good sculpt make him an attractive and fun toy. The smaller scale will also play well with vehicles and playsets, and you can face off your FF movie figures with the figures from Spider-man, Batman and Superman.

Value - **1/2
At $7, he's a pretty average mass market value. Some of the other figures in these assortments are going to end up on clearance, but with the current pack out (SS is only one per case right now), he's not likely to hang around long.

Things to Watch Out For - 
Not much. The left hip joint on mine is painted tight so that it can't move outward from the body (the right hip joint works just fine), and if I tried to pressure it too much I could easily snap or tear the pin. Take care if you run into a similar situation, and try the old freezer trick. But once the joints are free and moving, they are certainly sturdy enough to hold up to normal play.

Overall - ***
The sculpt is solid, and Hasbro did a good job with the silver color. There's nothing outstanding here that's going to rock your world or convince you to put him on your top ten of the year come January, but he's a fun little toy that fits in well with the other movie lines. Now, if we can get the Icons version with as good of a paint job and articulation anywhere near this good, all for around $20, I'll be a very happy camper.

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

Where to Buy -
I'd suggest Target or Toys R Us, but that's just me. You should be able to find this guy at most major retailers.

Related Links -
If you're looking for some other Fantastic Four product, check out:

- the Marvel Masterworks of them battling the Moleman.

- there's the first and only series of figures that were going to be the animated line.

- of course the first movie had it's share of figures, and I have a guest review of wave 3, and I reviewed wave 1.

- I also reviewed a couple of the pretty damn cool rotocast 12" figures for the first film, and had a guest review of another two.

- Marvel Legends did a boxed set of the group, along with releasing plenty of versions of the figures in their regular lines, like the series 2 Thing, and I have a guest review of the Marvel Select Doom

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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