But if you don't succeed, try,
try again and so I have, this time
checking out the smaller main series of action figures. Tonight I'm
reviewing Avatar State Aang along with his flying bison, Appa. These
are being produced by Spinmaster, perhaps best known for their Bakugan
I picked these up at Toys R Us, but you should start seeing them pop up
at other mass market retailers as well. This first series also includes
a regular Aang (with Momo), Sokka, Zuko and a Blue Spirit.
Packaging - Aang ***; Appa **1/2
Appa comes boxed, but with no window plastic, so you can touch and
handle him through the diecuts. I like boxes of course, and these store
easily and are more collector friendly than the sealed bubble/cardback
packaging that house Aang and the other 3 3/4" figures.
graphics are good, following the cool colors and designs of the film.
There's very little text on the back due to a ton of small legal print
and the fact that these are tri-lingual, intended for an international
audience. I'm not a fan of tri-lingual cards, but at least now I know
he's "muy articulado". They do show the other figures in the first
series, a plus as far as I'm concerned.
Oddly, Appa's packaging
shows two different versions of the toy on the back. Neither of them
matches the actual production toy exactly. The one closer to you
without Aang on his back is more accurate, as it does not have a strap
around the chest and shows the reins on the horns. However, the actual
reins they've included look nothing like what's pictured.
Sculpting - Aang ***;
Size does matter, particularly when it comes to sculpting. When a
figure is 8", 10" 12" or more in size, the human eye is
more capable of discerning the quality of a portrait. But when a figure
is this small (he's just 3 1/2" tall), it's harder to see faults,
making nekkid eye impressions different from photos.
face is still a bit too tall and thin, but I can be far more forgiving
here. The body sculpt looks slightly more accurate, and the proportions
of various parts to the whole is much better. This actually looks like
a real person, rather than some weird amalgamation of reality and
I like the small size as well,
which allows him to
fit in better with other 3 3/4" - 4" action figure lines like Star Wars
or G.I. Joe. As a kid, he should be shorter, and the overall
proportions fit in with this smaller stature as well.
Appa looked pretty bad when I first saw him on the shelf, and freeing
him from the box did nothing to change my mind. He's a bit smaller in
scale than what he was in the cartoon...but I think that might actually
be more accurate to the film. We've only have very brief glimpses of
him in the trailers so far though, so it's tough to tell.
versions of Appa are covered in a thick, heavy fur, much like a
Huskies. Unfortunately, the toy has a textured fur that reminds me more
of a short haired pooch, tight to the skin. This one simple change
pretty much kills the toy for me.
also has a large seat on his
back, designed to hold Aang near the front and one or two figures
behind him. There's even seat belts, but no airbags, unless you count
M. Night. This is very similar to the cartoon version, although this
smaller Appa can't hold quite as many of the gang at once. Both belts
pop open to make it easier to place the figures on the seat.
tail is a separate piece in the box, and snaps in place. There's some
serious gaping at the joint though, further ruining the overall
The face actually looks pretty
close to the film
version, but with the non-existent hair, he really looks creepy - sorta
human, in fact. I'm hoping that with the wild thick hair, the movie
version doesn't give off the same vibe.
Appa is just over 12"
long from tail to nose, and stands find on his own. He can also fly,
given enough forward momentum, but then so can a rock.
Paint - Aang **1/2; Appa **1/2
There's not a ton of paint here, as it appears that most of the larger
pieces are cast in the color you see. Still, there's some detail work
on the eyes, tattoos, eyebrows and shoes, and the quality is quite good
considering the scale. The blue tattoo on the top of his head could be
better...which holds him back from a better score here.
might be wondering about the pupil-less eyes - remember, this is the
'avatar state' version. Not sure why the decided to do that look with
the winged version of his staff, but they did. Also, I could have swore
that some of the figures labeled as such actually had small black dots
on their eyes, but I might have just gotten the figures confused on the
this is the Avatar State Aaang, the tattoo should also be a bright
white, since it glows along with the eyes when he's juiced up. It's
probably too much to ask of an $8 toy, but I'm still annoyed by the
Like Aang, Appa lacks many paint
ops, with his overall body
cast in the slightly dinghy white color. The stripe is painted on and
there's some decent work on the eyes and toe nails. While there's not
any real problem with slop (the slightly fuzzy edges on the painted
tattoo are on purpose, intended to make it blend with the 'fur'), the
lack of detailing on such a large figure hurts his overall score here
more than it does on the much smaller Aang.
Articulation - Aang ***, Appa *
Aang isn't quite as 'muy articulado", "tres articule" or even "highly
articulated" as the package claims, but he's still above average for
a cut joint for the neck, and had this been a true ball with some tilt
action available, I would have upped him another half star. Being able
to tilt the head is crucial to giving any pose personality.
are post/disc style ball jointed shoulders and hips, and the range of
movement on the shoulders is great, while the hips are good. The hard
plastic tunic restricts the legs a little, but it's not too much of an
issue for most fighting stances. It's more of a problem getting him to
sit, which is what you'll want to do with Appa. He can manage it, but
has to lean backward a bit. I'm hoping the other Aang in the series
works a little better with Appa, but that's probably wishful thinking -
the body is more than likely the same.
The arms also have single pin
elbows and cut wrists, while the legs have both single pin knees and
single pin ankles.
his joints are very sturdy, and should withstand normal play quite
well. There was a little warping to the right calf on my figure, caused
by his position in the plastic tray, but it's not bad enough to cause
permanent damage to the leg or knee joint.
Appa is in stark
contrast to Aang, having only one point of articulation. His neck is
cut so he can turn his head slightly side to side, but even that is
restricted from a full 180 degrees for some reason. He stands great on
his own, helped by having six solid legs all posed with his feet flat
on the ground.
Accessories - Aang **; Appa *
Aang comes with one accessory - his staff with the wings popped out. In
the show, he holds
onto the spokes
at the top, and then manipulates the air currents to glide. This
version has no way to hold those spokes (they're actually a solid clear
plastic piece with no gaps to fit the hands), so posing him in a flying
mode with this is pretty much impossible. It's cute I suppose, but once
I had it out of the package I regretted not just going with the other
Aang that has the normal staff as well as Momo.
reins are included separately and can (and should) be removed, I'm
counting them as an accessory here. I say they should be removed,
because in place on his horns they look pretty silly. He does wear
something similar in the cartoon though, so you can't fault them there.
Fun Factor - Aang ***; Appa **1/2
my initial glance at this smaller series on the peg, I dismissed them
too quickly. The smaller figures are decent for this scale and price
range, and had I picked up the other Aang instead of this one, he
probably would have scored another half star higher here. Unfortunately
for this version, the accessory isn't particularly useful.
Appa isn't nearly as much fun.
He's a big hunk of plastic, but as a basic vehicle he'll do the job.
Value - Aang **1/2;
At $8, Aang is going for the normal price of any 3 3/4" series these
days. Occasionally you'll find something cheaper (like the $6 A-team at
Target or the $5 Joes at Wal-mart), but those are the exception now,
not the norm.
$18, Appa does a grand total of zero things. Unlike something like the
A-Team van, there's no opening doors, no cool action features, and
almost no moving parts. While it's probably unrealistic in the current
market, he still feels like a $15 toy tops to me.
Things to Watch Out For -
Not a thing.
Overall - Aang ***;
The smaller scale action figure line is much better than the large
Ultimate Battle Aang. The small size makes the paint and sculpt issues
less obtrusive, and the articulation and play value are quite good. I
almost docked Aang another half star here because of the issues with
the tattoo, but I relented at the end because the overall appeal was
better than I expected. I
like this Aang enough to pick up the rest of the series.
However, Appa is weak. The soft
sculpt and lack of articulation make him more of a paperweight than a
suspect we'll see the after market prices on the cartoon Appa toy
skyrocket in the coming weeks (and those things were on clearance for
the longest time), since he's a nice, large scale version that will
work well with these smaller figures. At least it seems like he might -
I'm just going from memory since I haven't seen one in person in quite
Packaging - Aang ***; Appa **1/2
Sculpting - Aang ***; Appa **
Paint - **1/2
Articulation - Aang ***, Appa *
Accessories - Aang **, Appa *
Fun Factor - Aang ***; Appa **1/2
Value - Aang **1/2; Appa **
Overall - Aang ***; Appa **
Where to Buy -
Hit your local Toys R Us, where these are popping up first.
I covered the large sixth scale (sort of) Ultimate Battle Aang
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