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


Ghost Rider/Johnny Blaze and Hell Cycle
Movie Versions - Hot Toys

Ghost Rider Johnny Blaze action figure and Hell Cycle motorcycle by hot Toys


While the overall quality of superhero and comic book movies has greatly improved in the last decade, there is still the occasional stinker. Ghost Rider, starring Nic Cage, is sadly one of those.

The comic character makes for a great on screen presence - take fire, add in a cool skeleton, throw in chains and black leather, and add a kick ass motorcycle for seasoning, and how can you go wrong? Clearly you can, and they did.

It's not Catwoman bad, and much like Daredevil, if you watch the director's cut you'll be happier than if you watch the theatrical release. But there are still some serious problems that will always keep it out of the game, warming the bench.

Hot Toys has been doing a bang up job with their Marvel movie series, and the cost of the figures of Blade and Wolverine have risen precipitously over the last couple years. Obviously, they've had tremendous success with Iron Man, and have expanded to the movie Thor, Captain America, and Spidey. For them to pick up Ghost Rider isn't much of a stretch, and adding in his favorite mode of transportation, the Hell Cycle, was icing on the cake.

These have just started shipping, and international collectors will see them before the domestic dealers get them in. The pair was originally $270, but the duo has sold out at most retailers.

Packaging - ****
It's a large flat box, smaller than I expected, but all the parts and pieces are safe and sound. As always, it's entirely collector friendly, with no need to damage a thing when freeing the Rider.

The instructions are a bit sparse, mostly revolving around swapping the heads and dealing with the batteries.


Ghost Rider Johnny Blaze action figure and Hell Cycle motorcycle by hot Toys
Ghost Rider Johnny Blaze action figure and Hell Cycle motorcycle by hot Toys
Ghost Rider Johnny Blaze action figure and Hell Cycle motorcycle by hot Toys
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Ghost Rider Johnny Blaze action figure and Hell Cycle motorcycle by hot Toys
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Ghost Rider Johnny Blaze action figure and Hell Cycle motorcycle by hot Toys
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Ghost Rider Johnny Blaze action figure and Hell Cycle motorcycle by hot Toys
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Ghost Rider Johnny Blaze action figure and Hell Cycle motorcycle by hot Toys
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Ghost Rider Johnny Blaze action figure and Hell Cycle motorcycle by hot Toys
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Ghost Rider Johnny Blaze action figure and Hell Cycle motorcycle by hot Toys
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Ghost Rider Johnny Blaze action figure and Hell Cycle motorcycle by hot Toys
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Ghost Rider Johnny Blaze action figure and Hell Cycle motorcycle by hot Toys
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Ghost Rider Johnny Blaze action figure and Hell Cycle motorcycle by hot Toys
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Ghost Rider Johnny Blaze action figure and Hell Cycle motorcycle by hot Toys

Sculpting - ****
The flaming skull is not the cartoony, comic book version, but rather the more realistic movie look. It's properly proportioned, and the skull texture looks like real bone.

The flames are lapping around the skull in an uneven but believable pattern, and they are very finely detailed in the swirls and tongues of fire.

I'll be sticking with the skull head, as I suspect will everyone else, but getting the Johnny Blaze portrait is still a nice touch. Here we get the usual realistic skin texture and hair, but I'm not quite sold on the Cage similarities. The eyes and nose look good to me, but there is just something off about the shape of the head. Still, if you're looking to do a custom Cage character, having this head around will make your life a lot easier.

I can't go without comparing this figure to the exceptional Hasbro version from several years ago. I've included a couple comparison photos as well. The Hasbro bike is excellent, and just about the same size as the Hot Toys version. It looks good at first glance, but on close inspection you see the thicker, heavier sculpting, with fewer fine details. The flames are fatter with less definition, and the smaller Ghost Rider figure can't quite ride the bike in the same natural way that the Hot Toys version can. There's no doubt about it - the Hasbro version is a smokin' hot toy for the price, but it's no where near as nice as the actual Hot Toy. Then again, if you spend 7 times as much, you better get one mighty nice bike and figure.

Paint - ****
Do you remember the deal that Johnny Blaze made at the beginning of the movie, trading his eternal service to Satan in return for his father's health? While I have no proof, I suspect that Howard Chan, president of Hot Toys, had a similar conversation with Beezlebub, but the prize was production paint work.

While there's not as much work here as we usually see with a regular portrait, the flaming skull has a paint finish that is both realistic and brings out the texturing of the bone.

The translucent flames look amazing, and all the detail work on the bike itself is expertly done. This is another area where on close inspection you can see the distinct differences between a mass market toy like the Hasbro bike, and this high end collectible. Lines are finer, edges cleaner, and details sharper all around.

Obviously, with the Blaze head sculpt we get more of the traditional paint work. The eyes are lively and bright, evenly painted and deep set. The skin tone is quite lifelike, and the eyebrows and lips have that soft appearance that allows them to blend in nicely with the rest of the face.

Articulation - ***1/2
The underlying TrueType has all the exceptional 30 point or more articulation that you expect. While the leather outfit is fairly tight, it doesn't restrict him from riding the bike naturally, and you should have no trouble coming up with dozens of poses.

I did find the neck a tad more annoying than usual, due to the design of the flame sleeve that goes over the post. This sleeve is used with the skull head of course, to imply the flames rising out of his chest, but it really does restrict the neck and jaw quite a bit. It's sculpted to allow for more movement in front than in back, but it still needed a bit more engineering.

Speaking of the jaw, yes it is articulated and there's no visible posts. If you can tilt the head back far enough, you can get some decent open mouth expressions.

The hands swap of course, and they do so fairly well. They are a tight fit this time around, but I had no trouble with the wrist pegs.

I also had no trouble with any loose joints - all the ankles, knees, elbows, wrists, hips are tight and smooth.

Swapping the heads is easy as well. Just pop off the flaming skull, remove the fiery sleeve and pop off the long red post. The Blaze head pops right on, but you will find that you have to mess with the shirt a lot on every swap. The collar tends to get trapped in the neck, and you have to pull it out and up to get it looking right again. I found a pair of needle nose pliers helped quite a bit in grabbing the thin material and getting it back in position.

Accessories - ***1/2
Since I'm covering the bike in all the other main categories, I'm not covering it as an accessory. Since this is sold as a set, I don't think it really should count as an 'accessory', either.

But the extra Cage portrait definitely is. While the sculpt is off a bit, as I mentioned in the earlier section, it's still a nice addition. You'll never actually use it with this figure of course, but if you find yourself looking to do a custom Cage character in this scale, it will suffice.

There are two versions of his shotgun as well - one the normal Winchester 1887 model (with working lever action, btw), and one the Helled up version. Both the sculpts and scale are excellent, and he can easily hold them in the appropriate hands. The regular version has less sculpt detail than the Hellfire version, but it makes up for it with a much more intricate paint design. I prefer the regular version, but will probably display him with the hellish variant to remain consistent.

Ghost Rider wouldn't be complete without his chain, and they supply one that is real metal and very long, long enough to easily wrap around the body a couple times with enough left over to cross at his hip.

There's the additional pair of gripping hands designed to work with the bike and guns, and they look terrific in all the usual poses. They swap easily, and of course there's a couple extra pegs just in case. I wish we'd also gotten a pointing hand, since that was such a trademark look. You can approximate the pose with the one gun gripping hand, but it's still not quite the same thing.

Finally, there's the black display stand. This is one of those occasions where even collectors that normally use the stand won't, opting instead to put him on the back of the bike.

Outfit - ***1/2
The outfit consists of his outer leather jacket, leather pants, black shirt, and black cowboy boots.

The clothing is designed to work with the burning skull more than the Johnny Blaze portrait, so the spikes are present on the shoulders and gloves. These look great, and don't seem likely to break with normal handling.

The zippers and buckles are all in scale, and the tailoring and fit make the Medicom version from a couple years ago look, well, sad.

The jacket and pants have just the right amount of distressing and wear to make them look real, not silly. Too much wear, and it becomes heavy handed, but here it's done deftly with a subtle touch.

The boot sculpt is excellent as well, but that's another area where Hot Toys tends to excel. The boots don't restrict the articulation, and you can pose the figure on the bike with his feet flat on the ground or the bike itself.

Light Feature - Hell Cycle ****; Ghost Rider **1/2
The only category where I had any real issues this time was with the light up feature, and that's only with Ghost Rider, not the bike.

The bike requires 3 AAA batteries, which you supply. It's very easy to get the compartment on the bottom open, and the switch is in an easy to reach spot.

The flames encase the front tire, and they light up on both sides of the back tire. On either side of the handlebars are bright flames as well, and the AAA batteries provide plenty of juice. These are some SERIOUSLY bright flames!

They are much brighter than the head and eyes of Ghost Rider, which is one of the problems. The head uses the small watch batteries, and Hot Toys includes them...but they don't last long. Not only was the head, eyes and neck much less intense than the bike, the power only lasted about 10 minutes before the light was just about dead. I've seen this issue before with some of the Iron Man figures, and it's something Hot Toys should look into. You'll probably need to swap the included batteries out with some new ones fairly soon.

That's not my biggest gripe though, since it's about as easy of a fix as you can get. My real complaint is with the location of the switch, buried up underneath the skull head and the flame sleeve that wraps around the neck. You'll either need to remove the head to turn the light on and off, or you'll need to have something very thin and long handy to move the switch. Fat fingers just aren't going to work. That's more effort than I want to put in just to flip the switch.

Fun Factor - ***
Much like the recent Thor, this is a very good action figure - sturdy and solid, with little to break or fail. While I wouldn't turn it over to a 6 year old, it is clear that this collectible remembers what it's like to be a toy.

Value - **
Most Hot Toys figures retail for around $150. Occasionally they'll release something in the $120 range, but that's pretty rare these days, and the DX versions are closer to $200.

For $270, you're getting a $150 figure (due to the light up feature and extra head sculpt), and a sixth scale vehicle.  This is no Batmobile obviously, but it's not quite a Batpod either...but those were both far more expensive, as well. At $120, the bike does seem a smidge high to me, pulling this value score down that half star from average, but depending on how much you love the character, that's likely to be a moot point.

Things to Watch Out For -
Not a whole lot. You are probably going to have to swap out the included batteries pretty soon after you get the figure, as they don't seem to last very long, but other than that you should be fine.

Overall - ***1/2
This is another excellent addition to the Marvel Movie series by Hot Toys. I'm really wishing I picked up the Blade and Wolverine now - you'd think after all these years I'd learn.

Some folks may be put off by the movie, but if you're a fan of the character in general, it's unlikely you're going to see a nicer action figure produced.

I do wish they'd engineered the light up feature on the head a bit better, especially since turning him on whenever you show him off is going to be a requirement. Fiddling around with the head every time you want to show the neighbor how cool he looks is going to get pretty old.

But even with that nit to pick, I feel that he's a great addition to the display, especially if you're hoping to round out your Marvel characters in this scale.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ****
Sculpting - ****
Paint - ****
Articulation - ***1/2
Accessories - ***1/2
Outfit - ***1/2
Light Up Feature - Hell Cycle ****; Ghost Rider **1/2
Fun Factor - ***
Value - **
Overall - ***1/2

Where to Buy -
Sideshow originally had him for $270, but are long sold out. In fact, most folks are sold out at this point, so you may have to search ebay for a deal.

Related Links -
Other reviews include:

- Medicom did one of their slightly undersized sixth scale figures a few years ago.

- DST did some mini-busts for the movie.

- the coolest previous version is the Hasbro 12" from several years ago - it was amazing for the money, especially the bike.

- and I'd completely forgotten that Hasbro had done a line of 6" scale figures for the movie as well, although many of the characters weren't even in the film.

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

Enjoyed this review? Be sure to head back to the main page to find thousands more just like it!

KEEP SCROLLING DOWN FOR MORE PHOTOS!



Share this review with others! 
Google +1
 
Digg it!
 StumbleUpon Toolbar
Stumble It!
 
Reddit

Ghost Rider Johnny Blaze action figure and Hell Cycle motorcycle by hot Toys


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

This page copyright 2000 - 2011, Michael Crawford. All rights reserved. Click here for copyright permissions! Hosted by 1 Hour Hosting.com