Bruce Lee Enter The Dragon exclusive DX-04
following is a guest review. The review
and photos do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Michael Crawford
or Michael's Review of the Week, and are the opinion and work of the
|Jeff checks in with a look at
the latest deluxe figure from Hot Toys. I checked this guy out a little while back, and
not it's Mr. Parker's turn to take a swing - tell us all about him,
It’s now 38 years since the tragic passing of Bruce Lee, I was just a
child when he died, and many of his now devoted fans weren’t even born
during his lifetime.
However, world wide, the shining legend that is Bruce Lee shows no sign
of dimming, in fact with each new generation of fans that come to his
movies, teachings and philosophies he becomes more iconic and relevant
than ever. And even though his appeal is global, nowhere is it more
important than Hong Kong, his cultural homeland.
Born in 1940 to Chinese parents in San Francisco, he moved when still
very young and spent his formative years growing up in Hong Kong, not
leaving till he was 18 to ensure and claim his US citizenship.
His fighting skills had already shown themselves when living in Hong
Kong, in fact it is said that part of the reason his parents pushed him
to return to the states was to get him away from the street fighting
and gang culture that permeated the island at this time. His initial
training was under his father, but he soon sought out the martial arts
master Ip Man, under whom he trained in the art of Wing Chun.
Many of the other students training in this discipline refused to spar
with Lee after finding out he was of mixed ancestry (his maternal
grandmother was German), but Ip saw such dedication and ability in Lee
that he tutored him privately, one of a very select few to ever get
this one on one training with the master of Wing Chun. It set Lee apart
and was perhaps the single biggest influence on Lee’s fighting style,
and in the way he later developed his own unique variations and styles.
Once back in the states he continued his education while supplementing
his income teaching martial arts. He picked up various TV and movie
roles rising quickly to be recognised as a new and exciting talent. But
it wasn’t just his ability with his fists that got him noticed; he had
the one thing no one can learn… screen presence.
When Lee walked onto a set, all eyes were on him, he just draws you in
like a moth to a flame. He even devised his own form of martial arts,
borrowing from Wing Chun and many other disciplines, but creating a few
of his own moves, coupled with a philosophical credo to guide his
students through his way of training. It was called Jeet Kune Do (The
Way of the Intercepting Fist) and is still widely learnt to this day.
Being a cultural Icon, his image and any merchandising surrounding him,
has always proved popular and enduring (well, when it’s good anyway!).
For many years recently the company Enterbay held the licence to
produce outstanding figures and collectibles of the man, under the
watchful eye of the master sculptor Arnie Kim. But last year Mr Kim
joined the creative team at Hot Toys just after the announcement that
they recently acquired the Bruce Lee licence. The collector’s forums
went into a form of meltdown. It seemed that Howard Chan’s company were
slowly but surely securing the cream of the talent working in 1/6th
|However, when the
first release of Bruce Lee was announced it was to
show him in perhaps one of his most memorable roles, and certainly the
one that brought him to the widest audience, ‘Enter the Dragon’. But
the sculptor in charge of portrait duties wasn’t Kim; instead it fell
to the chief sculptor at Hot Toys Yulli Choi.
I have to admit that
on the whole Yulli has proved to be one of my favourite sculptors, and
the quality of her work is mind blowing in its consistency. But this
time she found herself working on a subject that has been done in the
past by her new stable mate, and not only that, it had been done
exceptionally well. Is it possible to beat the great Arnie Kim on what
has become his most famous subject to sculpt?
Well I think it’s
fair to say that when it comes to a human portraiture, then accuracy is
everything, but within the parameters of accuracy there also has to be
nuances of the sculptors style, and I think that is what is so evident
Hot Toys have shown time and time again that they take the packaging of
their figures very seriously. It’s part of the whole experience when
purchasing a Hot Toys product. Admittedly there are some that are
better than others, but they never seem to turn in what could be called
a ‘bad’ piece of packaging.
Amongst the most interesting boxes have been those for the elite DX
series, incorporating top range materials, inventive design and full
foam surrounds to protect the contents. However this one stands out not
just because of the quality graphic design, but because of its sheer
scale as well.
Once you open the brown corrugated shipping container you are met by an
oversized matte black piece of packaging, and in the case of the
exclusive edition, a second smaller matte black box housing the extra
‘undamaged’ body. The materials and quality of printing here is all at
the luxury end of the scale throughout, but lets face it, when
splashing $220 big ones on an action figure… well to be fair, a pair of
action figures, then you kind of expect things to be special, and
special they are!
The basic figure comes dressed in just the karate pants, showing off
Han’s metal clawed handy work on his cheeks and torso. It’s completely
surrounded in die-cut foam, and over the next couple of layers,
sandwiched between yet more slices of soft cushioned foam, you will
find his impressive array of accessories alongside the large
environment bases. It’s worth taking note, (and maybe even a few
digital snaps) as you un-box this figure, as there is a very specific
order and configuration in which you have to replace it all to get it
to fit if you ever need to store it.
Ultimately this once again shows us why Hot Toys are regarded as so
ahead of their game.
Sculpting - ****
Every fan of Bruce Lee out there has their favourite hi-end sculpt, and
lets face it, they have gone from the sublime, like the amazing Arnie
Kim work on the ╝ scale Enterbay statue reviewed here right through to
the ridiculous… I won’t name names, but you know who they are!
So here Yulli had a mammoth task on her hands in keeping all the fans,
(new and old), happy!
When the first prototype pics were unveiled there was much discussion
on the forums. Pointing out what people liked, and what they certainly
didn’t. Since then both the portraits have been tweaked, revised,
reworked and re-sculpted to the point that they now stand up to the
closest scrutiny and are undeniably, near perfect representations of
Lee. Both the portraits come with the patented PERS eye positioning
system, which adds a whole new dimension to the posing of your figures,
but I would imagine creates its own set of problems when sculpting the
base heads. The expressions on the faces are markedly different, which
helps in defining the two iconic looks when displayed. One is a
straightforward but intense expression suitable for any number of
poses, whilst the second face has one of Lee’s classic fighting
expressions. The lips are pursed in a way like this,
and indeed this,
you can almost hear a high pitched ‘whooo-yaaahhh’ as you tilt the
head. The detailing and deft use of skin texturing really bring these
figures to life, but when combined with the tiny replica glass eyes it
gets spookily lifelike. The sculpting for the hair on both appears to
be identical and the whole thing is removable in a similar way to the
configuration of the Enterbay figures. However, once removed that is
where any similarity ends, as the PERS feature allows both eyes to be
positioned with the gentle movement of a small joystick, rather than
having to move each eye stem independently.
I’m sure there will still be naysayers out there who can find fault
with these portraits, and there is no denying that in the past Arnie’s
work has been unsurpassable when it comes to Bruce Lee, but for me,
Yulli has created two amazing new depictions that stand next to Arnie's
work very well indeed!
But the sculpting doesn’t finish there, oh no. Bruce Lee’s physique is
so distinct that it required a totally original body to be developed
for him. Like the head sculpts, this has undergone a good many
revisions form the prototype to what we have in hand. Those early pics
definitely seemed too sinewy and the definition on the arms and between
the pectoral muscles was too sharply distinct, veering a little close
to a Manga/Anime styling.
But since then, the two sculptors responsible (Noh Sung Woon and Kouhei
Okui) have re-sculpted and softened the overall look making it now just
about the finest 1/6th Bruce Lee body available. I shall go through its
full range in the articulation category, but the actual look of it even
belies its full posing potential, pretty outstanding.
Because this figure needs to be seen semi clad, and indeed sometimes
half naked it necessitated a paint app that covers the whole of the
upper body and head, I even noticed that the upper half has a mottled
varnish effect that catches the light like a light perspiration… very
cool. As per usual the paint app was originated and overseen by the Hot
Toys resident paint app god JC Hong, and as per usual he doesn’t
disappoint. The skin tones are rich and even showing the darker
colouration that Lee had, there’s the usual subtle darker tones
indicating light 5 o’clock shadow on the chin and upper lip, and the
work on the eyebrows, lips and the bloodied slash marks on his cheek,
chest and back are all carried out to highest standards.
The hair requires no paint, as like the work they did on the Asian
characters from Goemon, the depth and intricacy of the sculpting and
the way it reacts to light falling upon it is enough to give plenty of
As I mentioned above, the PERS feature is used on both heads, so no
paint is used, instead tiny glass eyes are inserted within the eye
sockets. Ultimately we end up with two tiny facsimiles of Bruce Lee,
and the paint app helps greatly in making both of these look so
This box set comes with two complete outfits, meaning that if you were
lucky enough to secure an exclusive version, you will have all you need
to construct two complete figures. In the box the figure comes wearing
the kung-fu trousers, white socks and black-soled karate shoes, when
this is worn over the ‘slashed’ base body you instantly have the
perfect look for displaying on the mirrored wall diorama in the Han
Alternatively you can simply add the white Chinese style dress shirt
and swap heads and you have another iconic look (the easiest way to do
this is to NOT undo the top knot on his Chinese shirt, just undo the
poppers, then get the figure in an ‘arms up straight above the head’
pose, remove the head and slip the shirt on over the top… easy).
Now, the only sticking point is that you need the padded jockey-pants
that are worn under the kung-fu trousers for the extra base-body; they
help fill out the groin area and hide the articulation when wearing the
ultra skin-tight stealth ninja jumpsuit. So I advise you just slip off
these trousers (I know Mike had problems doing this, but I found it to
be OK if you take your time and take note of how everything is tied)
then put them back on, taking care to bind the belt sash tightly and
aligning the tiny press-stud before securing it shut.
Now put the pants on the second ‘undamaged’ body followed by the socks
and then the jumpsuit. It’s important to do it in this order so you
don’t have to try and poke the sock tops up under the skin-tight
trouser ankles. Now pop on the white soled karate shoes and you are
ready to rock ’n’ roll. This stealth suit can be worn both un-zipped
and tied at the waist or in its fully done up way. Meaning if you are a
big enough fan, and have deep enough pockets, two sets would give you a
4 way display option… and yes, I have read a few folks out there have
As we have come to expect, all the tailoring is top notch, with perfect
seems and no loose threads, making this a cracking set and a great
introduction for all those that have managed to resist the Enterbay
releases so far.
Once again Hot Toys deliver
a whole new body for this release, as I said above this has been
designated as the TTM17 (True-Type Muscular 17) and it has been created
to enhance and compliment their new Bruce Lee licence. So far we have
the two versions available with this release and the two smiling,
‘suited’ and ‘casual’ versions that are hitting retailers in Hong Kong
as I write this. I think/hope it’s safe to say they will get a lot of
mileage out of this new body as they have just scratched the surface of
the movies, TV and ‘day to day’ images of the guy. And knowing the way
Hot Toys operate they wont rest on their laurels, I expect plenty of
improvements and tweaks along the way.
One of my few gripes with the early Enterbay bodies was the heaviness
of the vinyl, making for a difficult centre of gravity to find when
posing and balancing the figures, then add to that the poor ankle
articulation and you had a nest of problems. To be fair Enterbay did
re-engineer the ankles after those earlier comments, but Bruce Lee
needs the articulation of a ballet dancer crossed with Spiderman. And
to be fair even this new TTM17 hasn’t quite got that range!
However I have no major gripes here, I managed to get the figure to
pose and balance on one leg with no problem at all. The most obvious
reason is the lightness of the body (which seems to be a combination of
vinyl, ABS and silicone), but the real bonus is some AMAZING ankle
articulation. It’s a really simple solution, but oh so effective! All
we have here is a simple ‘dumbbell’ double ball and cup design that is
padded out between with a thick soft foam washer… the best solutions
are always the simplest… a fact of life!
But, and it’s a big ‘but’, is that it also has a super firm/stiff
motion that means even when on one leg it stays up without slowly
sagging or falling over. Next up we have a double knee that can bend
right back on itself completely. The hips are a double pegged
swivelling ball joint… yep, I think that’s how I’d describe it, and it
works a treat. Again everything is good and stiff, nothing loose or
sloppy here. The waist is a variation on the ball and cup mechanism,
much like the old G.I. Joe’s, it has a limited range but affords for
movement forwards and backwards and some tilting in a full 360-degree
range. The upper torso is all covered in a rubber/silicone skin up to
the top of the neck, but the neck still affords a small but significant
amount of ‘tiltage’ in all directions, and anyone who’s used to posing
figures will tell you that a little head and neck articulation goes a
long way in giving your finished pose a lot of character.
Hidden within the shoulder, under the rubber covering is what appears
to be a pegged, hinged, swivelling, cup-joint. I hope that makes sense.
In effect you can spin the arm a full 360 degrees, it can bend out from
the body by 90 degrees and the cup joint can rock back and forth by a
few degrees. The elbows are a pegged hinge joint, meaning they can bend
to 90 degrees and turn a full 360, and lastly the wrists are the usual
double pegged cut ball joint, which as always gives a full universal
range of motion.
In short, this figure is not as uber posable at the classic base True
Type, but it really makes up for it in the amazing aesthetic they have
created, meaning that at the moment, this is the best posable 1/6th
Bruce Lee body out there… but for how long?
- Regular ***3/4, Exclusive ****+
You want accessories, we got accessories, boy do we got accessories!
The DX series always has a nice selection, but not since the Joker have
we had the option (admittedly with an extra body) to construct two full
figures. So many of the items I covered in outfit definitely straddle
this camp as well. So as a straightforward list, what you get is-
- One unscarred portrait featuring the PERS feature
- Newly sculpted muscular body + figure stand (exclusive version)
- Fourteen pieces of interchangeable hands (plus extra wrist pegs)
- Chinese style white shirt
- Dark blue stealth jumpsuit
- Black socks
- Extra karate shoes
- Pair of nunchucks
- Two short rods
- One long cane
- Dark blue drawstring bag
- Coiled and knotted rope
- Coiled snake
- Diorama base that can be configured to show a dungeon environment or
the mirror room in the movie, the middle mirror can be rotated with its
back showing the painted black and white mural.
There, I think that covers everything!
As far as the exclusive version goes then the two biggest and most
important items are the extra head and body, as along with the extra
pieces of clothing it means you get a complete second figure. I already
went over the head sculpt above, and I shall go over the bodies
articulation below, but suffice to say both items are outstanding and
elevate the value section hugely.
Likewise the items of clothing have been dissected under the outfit
banner. So that just leaves us with his smaller accessories and the
The two rods and long cane are relatively simple pieces, while the
nunchuck has a metal chain connecting the two batons and all work well
with the various hands he comes supplied with. The snake is sculpted
well in a coiled circle and has a simple paint app to give it some
detail and definition. He also has the drawstring bag and rope he uses
when sneaking around Han’s facility, these help in getting the look
just right with the jumpsuit, as seen here.
That just leaves us with the bases, but they are quite complex. The
dungeon environment simplest, it is a hard cardboard backdrop that
folds in two places to butt up against the flooring section, but can
also be used as a stand-alone piece. There are two surfaces on the
flooring piece, which simply flip-over depending on what dio you wish
to use, you simply have to slot the tabs in place.
The mirrored room is slightly more complex as you need to fold the tabs
out at the bottom to fit under the base. You also need to remove the
matte protective film that covers the mirrored panels, but once you
have it is far shinier and mirror like. You then just slide these
mirrors into the slots on the backdrop and you are there. The middle
panel can also rotate to recreate the moment that Lee (that was his
characters name as well) finds the entrance to the room.
So, a huge selection of goodies allowing for a ton of various display
and posing options, definitely a top score category. But it has to be
said this is based on the exclusive edition, If I had the regular one
I’d be praying that Hot Toys brings out a separate Asian muscular True
Type (this has been designated TTM17) pretty soon, because without it
there are some painful display decisions to be made!
Factor - ****
C’mon, how could anyone not have a ball with this set, 2 figure, 2
dioramas, some great accessories and it all comes in mighty purdy box.
Of course this isn’t meant for kids, but most self-respecting geeks of
a certain age will be in rapture working out the best poses and making
all the chop-socky noises while you do it!
for money - ****
I know Mike had issues giving this a high score… I don’t!
Admittedly I’m not as broad a collector as Mike, who has amassed a
museum worthy collection that covers all scales, genres and price
ranges. No, I have always been primarily a collector of 1/6th,
specifically hi-end, and as such I’ve been witness to the way prices
have steadily been heading further and further north over the last
fifteen years (well past 40 years if you take my prepubescent old
Action Man days into account).
Meaning that for me, with this ‘exclusive’ version you can get two, top
of the range DX Hot Toys figures with PERS and a newly sculpted and
engineered bodies for $110 a pop… well, though it may be hard to equate
that as a bargain, its certainly quite a deal?
Compare it with the Enterbay FOF figure I reviewed here
http://www.mwctoys.com/REVIEW_020909b.htm which is now a couple of
years old, and it worked out at $175 per figure (taking into account
the $30 for an extra body) and back then I thought that seemed like an
OK deal, not a great one, but OK!
To be fair the Enterbay bodies were 100% vinyl, and they were a smaller
company, but still, to be well over a $100 cheaper two years later
means Hot Toys have pulled off quite the coup d'Útat!
I have no real issues with any aspect of this set, especially if you
have this exclusive edition, that extra twenty dollars spent is spent
very well, very well indeed, and elevates the value massively for me.
The accessories haul is impressive and the two dioramas make for some
great back drops, whether for display or photography. The
dungeon environment can be used on its own independently of the mirror
one as it doesn’t need to have the base part used with it all the time.
If ever a figure was meant to have the PERS feature then this is it,
the reason that Enterbay developed their earlier version for those
first Arnie Kim releases was that Bruce Lee was famously expressive
with his eyes (if only a way of moving his eyebrows could be
developed), so for me this is a total ‘clean out of the ball park’ home
run. A more perfect figure is hard to find… but I’m sure we’ll get one
Where to buy
Sideshow had this up for the RRP of $219.99, while the regular version
was $199.99, needless to say that both have sold out.
However, you may still be in luck at one of the sites sponsors’ below-
Collector - regular version, in stock @ $209.99
Apart from that it’s time to hit
eBay where prices for the regular version are between $255 to
$350 and the exclusive version is demanding prices of $400 to $550,
with the undamaged body alone already asking $175 to $210.
Did you enjoy
the review? Plus 1 it!
This product was provided free for the review by the manufacturer.
Photos and text by Jeff Parker.