Gentle Giant Hungarian Horntail Dragon

Harry Potter continues to be a juggernaut of books and films. He moved past fad status long ago, becoming a permanent cultural figure like Batman, Santa Clause or Luke Skywalker, a character that will speak to generations to come.

I've bemoaned the lack of great Harry Potter product in the past, but I can't really do that any more. With the items from the Noble Collection like the wands, and the terrific mini-busts from Gentle Giant, Harry Potter fans do have a number of top end collectibles from which to choose.

Gentle Giant has now produced their first full sized statue based on the property, and it comes right from the latest film - the Hungarian Horntail Dragon. As the first challenge in the Triwizard's Cup, Harry had to get past this ferocious fire breather and nab the golden egg.

You can find the statue at a number of online retailers, and I have some suggestions at the end of the review. This isn't a cheap item though, and you can expect to pay close to two hundred smackers. It's a limited edition, like most statues, and the run is 1500.

Before we hit the review, I'd like to mention a couple websites that are worth checking out if you like Harry Potter or statues and busts in general.

First, there's Voldemort's Vault. It's a great place to discuss all things Harry Potter, including the films, books and collectibles.

Then there's Azog's Collection.  You can find out all kinds of nifty info and join the forums to discuss various high end collectibles.  Check them out!

Packaging -  ***1/2
The box that shows up at your door is guaranteed to be a surprise. Why? Because it's HUGE. Sure, the statue stands 16" tall with a 21" wingspan, but he's not a bulky dragon. But the wings and body are all one piece, which means the box has to be able to handle the 21" wingspan plus some in tact. That means a box bigger than the usual Premium Format Sideshow box will be on your doorstep.

The exterior is fairly plain, but does have photos of the statue itself. It also has a nifty plastic handle on top for carrying it (something that would be nice on the aforementioned PF's), although it's a fairly lightweight package.

Inside is a nice, hard shell foam container for the actual statue. It is unlikely that it will be damaged in shipping, and the package is well designed for safety and security.

Sculpting - ***1/2
I'm going to get my big complaint about this guy out of the way, right away. Scale. The box advertises this thing as "1/6th" scale. So does the Gentle Giant web site. He is much, much closer to 1/12th scale, and I have NO idea how they ever came up with the idea that he's anywhere close to 1/6th scale. Of course, that's assuming they are using the industry standard that sixth scale means 1' = 1" i.e. the average 6' male is 12" tall in 1/6th scale.  I can't figure how this statue could ever be labeled "1/6th scale", but maybe I'm missing something.

However, this obvious misrepresentation doesn't mean this statue is small. Since it comes as one complete piece with wings spread to the full 21", it's quite a large item. And being a decent size allows it to have extremely good sculpting detail.

The wings have a nice slightly smoother leathery sculpt texture, while the body and legs are more scaly and wrinkled. The head is heavily armored with thick skin and sharp spikes down the back, and the individual teeth sport their own personality. There's some battle damage added to the wings as well, and an excellent flow to the dynamic pose.

Mcfarlane has produced some pretty amazingly detailed dragon sculptures in their lines, and this sculpture is really only slightly more realistic and detailed. If I didn't have the Dragons line to compare this to, I suspect it would score the full four stars, but GG still gets a tremendous amount of credit for producing an amazing reproduction of the movie character in an excellent, fluid pose.

Paint - ****
The one place that the extra money shows is in the paint ops. There's some beautiful work here, with a subtle transformation from dark to light across the wings and belly. Small details like the veining in the wing webbing or the subtle differences in finish between the bony areas and the leathery skin are examples of this amazing work.

This is also a good example that while there isn't a lot of variance across the palette of colors used, the paint job can still make the statue really stand out. He might just predominately be shades of a couple colors, but the paint is done so well it still captures and holds your eye.

Design - **1/2
While I love the overall sculpt and paint, I do have one issue that really bothers me about the general design.

It's not the pose - they've done a marvelous job capturing the dynamic appearance of the Hungarian Horntail in mid flight, just about ready to tear you to pieces.

It's not the base - not only is there some terrific detail work in the mossy rocks, but the little golden egg looks terrific.

Nope, it's that damn metal pole sticking out of his tail. This thick silver steel pole is far, far too obvious, and detracts from the rest of the appearance of the statue. The dragon isn't that heavy, since the wings are pretty thin, so I'm not sure why the metal was necessary. An acrylic post as thick as this is should have been able to hold him easily enough, and would have been much less obtrusive. The steel post also transfers the risk of damage from the post itself to the base, where the metal can easily begin to dig into the softer resin over time.

To top it all off, my post isn't even straight. There's a slight bend in it toward the top, and I'm going to have to try using the old vise to bend it back out. The problem is the steel post is glued into the dragon, and so it can't be easily removed. That makes straightening it - or replacing it with an acrylic post of my own - awfully difficult.

Fun Factor - *1/2
These aren't toys, so a low score here won't be reflected in the overall.  But in case it wasn't clear, don't give this to a kid to play with.

Value - **
Okay, here's where the rubber meets the road. Is this really a two benjamin statue? Considering the quality of the Dragon sculpting coming out of Mctoys for ten bucks, I'm hard pressed to say this is really worth this kind of money. It is an extremely nice statue, but you need to try to pick it up closer to $150 if possible.

That may be difficult though, since the run size is small, and Harry Potter merchandise is mighty popular right now.

Things to watch out for - 
Be careful unpacking the dragon. There are two twisty ties around the wings that exit out the back of the foam insert. Because of the layout of the statue in the foam, you'll need to either untie these before opening the foam, or hold the dragon in place with one hand while you untie them with the other to avoid accidentally dropping him.

Overall -  ***
This is an extremely nice statue, that has two issues keeping it from a higher ranking. It's a tad expensive for the final product, but regular Gentle Giant statue buyers may be immune to this issue by now.

And then there's that metal post. It's easily the biggest disappointment (but not a surprise, since it's been that way from the first photos) in an otherwise gorgeous sculpt, design and paint job.

When I've reviewed the GG HP busts, I have unequivocally recommended that you pick them up. I can't be quite that positive here, and for some folks the price and pole will be simply too much. I also wish I had some great looking HP figures to go along with this dragon that were actually in scale, but that's a wish that will likely never be fulfilled.

Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpt - ***1/2
Paint - ****
Design - **1/2
Fun Factor - *1/2
Value - **
Overall -  ***

Where to Buy -
Several of my sponsors are offering up the statue:

- Fireside Collectibles has it listed at $170.

- Alter Ego Comics has it listed at $170.

- Dark Shadow Collectibles has it on preorder for $175.

Related Links:
In the statue and bust realm of Gentle Giant, I've covered several areas:

- there's the Star Wars line of mini-busts, including the recent Emperor and Lando. Also in Star Wars, I reviewed the Biker Scout statue, and I ran a guest review of the Darth Vader statue.

- under the Harry Potter line, I've reviewed the Snape/Dumbledore set and the Dobby/Dementor set.

- and if you're a fan of Dragons in general, you should really check out the line by Mcfarlane Toys!

- And don't forget to check out Voldemort's Vault and Azog's Collection!

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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