Hot Toys Godfather
Guest review Jeff Parker!

   "The 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 guest author."

I'm actually running three reviews of the same figure tonight, because that's how cool the new Hot Toys Godfather is!  You can check out my review, as well as Wayne Harrelson's review, and right here is Jeff Parker's take on this terrific figure. Tell us all about it, Jeff!

A big thank you as always to Michael.

But now onto what just has to be one of THE most anticipated releases of the year, and I don’t say that lightly. Not only is it a figure from one of the most celebrated movies of the 20th century (that consistently tops poll after poll, when people are asked their greatest movie of all time), but it also happens to depict one of the most celebrated actors of the same period. You can then throw into the mix the fact that Enterbay also have their take on The Don due out sometime later this year, so there’s the whiff of rivalry in the air, like two old families having a turf war…

Which leads us nicely into a brief synopsis of the movie, I shall keep this spoiler free, as even though it’s a movie that’s older than a lot of you reading this (hell I was only 5 when it came out) but for every generation it should be watched and enjoyed with the freshest eye’s possible and an open mind!

Released in 1972 The Godfather tells the epic story of a an old Italian immigrant Mafia family that is starting to implode, Brando plays ‘Don’ Vito Corelone, the patriarch of a dynasty with a long dark history, he’s used to the old ways of doing business and finds himself increasingly at odds with the ‘American dream’. His son Michael (Al Pacino), who he expects to join the family business, has recently returned from service in WWII to attend his sisters wedding, but at first Michael has other ideas for his future, ones not so closely linked to his father.
However when the Don is challenged by drug dealer Virgil Sollozzo, Michael soon realises that ‘the family’ will need him to be far more active than he is at first comfortable with…

Of course this compact synopsis barely scratches the surface, it’s a multi layered tale with great depth. A story that is often cited as one of the finest screenplays ever committed to paper, and indeed celluloid.
It’s a movie driven ‘in part’ by Marlon Brando’s performance, an actor held in pretty high esteem, and rightly so. Even if this had been the only movie he had ever stared in, he would still hold a special place in cinematic history, but luckily he has a far, far bigger body of work. In point of fact this is the third time I’ve reviewed him as a 1/6th figure.

First there was the Superman, Jor-El figure and then as Johnny Strabler, from The Wild One, one of his early breakthrough roles. So an actor who can generate three action figures just has to have something special about him, especially as none of those roles were gun toting bad ass space commando warriors or star powered superheroes… OK, OK one was the father of a star powered superhero, but you get what I mean.

And so onto the review, can an action figure of one of cinemas most iconic actors playing one of cinemas greatest characters ever live up to expectation.

Packaging -
Sometimes 1/6 boxes are compact and sometimes they are big… this is very… no, very, VERY BIG! 

It becomes instantly apparent that HT have pulled out all the stops on this production. I kid you not when I say the box is an art form in itself, and one that I’m sure many a Godfather devotees will be displaying in it’s own right. 

Firstly you’re met by a large silk finished black box measuring an impressive 55cm tall, 23cm wide and 18cm deep. Towards the bottom, the front has an 8cm deep wrap around matt paper panel bearing the Godfather logo above the characters name, this wrap only goes round to the back of the top lid, so thankfully you don’t need to slide it off every time you open the figure. Above this is a die cut representation of Brando’s silhouetted face catching the light, mimicking the old poster, this is in a raised relief and appears at first to be red velvet. The black lid then lifts off to show that the red is in fact the next layer of the box. It’s actually flocked plastic, but the match up between the die cut of the lid and the relief areas of this flocked layer is millimetre perfect… very, very impressive. 

You now lift off this red overlay to be met by another black box bearing the logo, this is secured by two Velcro tabs and after opening the double layer there is a sheet of tissue which protects the vac formed window, under this is the figure, his chair and other accessories… but it don’t stop there. This whole secondary inner box lifts out to reveal… you guessed it, another shallow box. This contains a plinth/stand and printed card backdrop that folds to create a very impressive diorama for displaying your figure and the accompanying chair. There’s also a full colour booklet in this layer that gives us an insight into just how importantly HT have taken this production. There are brief interviews with all of the team behind getting the Don into your hands, everyone from main man Howard Chan and JC Hong through to sculptors Yulli and Kang in Ae, hell even Greg Anzalone, Tom Gilliland and Brant Bridges from Sideshow have their say. The only travesty is that the designers of this amazing packaging, messrs Dixon Chan and Monster Jr didn’t get to tell us about their input, so I contacted Dixon and asked him what part of the design he was most pleased with, he told me-

It would be the fact that we manage to execute the idea without holding back too much because of the size and weight of the whole thing and also the cost.

This time the big praise goes to Monster Jr, as he initiated the idea of the red silhouette, based on a Godfather's movie poster.

I have to say, that though this package is far from ecologically friendly, it is certainly the most impressive box I have ever received a 1/6 figure in. I suppose you can look upon it as a statement of intent, and that intent is to bowl you over with every aspect of this figure, well so far, consider me bowled!

Sculpting - **** 
So far the only other sculpts I have by Kang In Ae are her work on the Rocky III, Stalone (I originally credited this to Yulli, oops!) the ‘Giant’ James Dean and ‘The Wild One’ Brando where she cut her teeth on the great actor.

Knowing how important this figure is to Hot Toys I was surprised Yulli wasn’t on full sculpting duties, she did supervise but Kang In Ae was appointed with the task of producing the actual head. However, my concerns were completely unfounded, she has done an amazing job, and I mean jaw droppingly amazing!

It’s sometimes hard to believe that Brando was actually only 48 when he played the Don, a man intended to be in his early 60’s. The look was all down to wigs, make-up, a mouth-full of cotton wool and a whole heap of fine method acting that led to the creation of this classic character.
Kang in Ae says in the accompanying booklet that she watched the movie many times while working on this head sculpt, and that is plainly evident, it’s just stupendous. The Don is not an action man, he’s a Machiavellian character a subtle and charismatic character who is shrouded in a sinister air of mystery. But he’s also a family man, a man to whom honour and dignity are as important as the very oxygen he breathes. 

Now I’m not saying it’s possible to convey all these characteristics in a single sculpt, but believe you and me when I say it comes close. The expression here is pretty impassive, like he’s just observing, but the superfine work on the wrinkles around his eyes, the lines on his forehead, every hair on his head, eyebrows and moustache are evident. The curl of his lip and the puffy nature of those infamous cheeks are all carried out fantastically, it’s virtually perfect. 

He also comes with three extra hands, bringing his total to five including the ones he’s fitted with in the box (which are in a relaxed position). The extras are a gesturing one for the left, another gesturing for the right and another right to hold his glass. Both the left hands have a wedding band sculpted as well.

All I can do here is try to convey how good it all looks, but suffice to say no words can actually do justice, you need to sit with it in your hands and turn it this way and that, especially in ambient light, to pick up on the beautiful subtlety of Kang’s work… just outstanding!

I can see this being popular with huge swathes of collectors who might not usually go near 1/6th, and at the price point they have managed to do this for, I’m sure they’ll be gone pretty damn soon!

Paint - ****
Perfection, this is just sheer and utter perfection! JC Hong has captured the ageing flesh of this over indulged old man with amazing clarity. The eyes are beautifully glossy, catching the light as we have now almost come to expect as standard, and the mottling of the flesh tones, showing moles and liver spots, wrinkles and creases is sublime, to use a hackneyed term, this is indeed a ‘tour de force’ in paint application. 

JC has taken Kang’s wonderful work on the hair and shown, like the master he is, just how old greying and thinning hair should be painted. I don’t think the subtlety of the graduations and the feathering of the edges could in reality be any better at this scale. The painting actually continues onto the hands, and I don’t just mean they picked his rings out, oh no. These show subtle veins, spotting and detail on the nails, hell, you can even see the cuticles. All this is again faultlessly handled adding up to one of the best paint apps you will see at this scale, a definite full score!

Articulation  - ****
No problems here, it’s your classic True Type (TT) under the clothes, admittedly its sporting a fat-suit which hampers his movement a little, but at the end of the day we’re talking about a fat old Mafia boss, he’s not going to be doing any gymnastics, in fact I can’t imagine the Don would even try walking particularly fast, so this is just perfect for the character. 

You’ll get any pose you want with ease, from a general standing position through to sitting in the chair either reclined or in a more pensive mood and because of the TT’s great engineering, with a little work and futzing he’ll look 100% convincing in some very subtle poses, thanks to those extra hands and accessories. I’m sure someone will usurp the TT soon, but for now this is just perfection.

Outfit - ****
The top class work continues with the outfit, which HT go so far as to describe as '1/6th couture’, which isn’t an empty boast, far from it, every detail of his dinner suit is replicated from the satin edging and small ‘buttonhole’ rose on the lapel. but making a convincing 3 piece suit is a difficult thing to pull off for a 12” figure, recently we’ve seen things getting better and better and this continues the trend. 

As a breakdown, firstly we have the fat-suit, this is white and goes from the shoulders right down to the mid thigh, it fits well and adds just enough weight without looking too bulky. The shoes are a classic design painted to look like patent leather with a matt sole, they are of the push in design, meaning no actual feet, he wears black sock tops and then black dress trousers over the top, these have front pleats and working belt loops and pockets throughout. The satin piping up the outside seam is actually a screen printed ‘plasticised’ effect, but works perfectly. His shirt is of the wing collared evening variety, and the collar is handled superbly and manages to be super thin, no stitching is visible so I’m guessing a fabric glue and starch has been used, around this is his black bow-tie, again the scale is faultless and it even has a working micro sliding adjuster. The shirt appears to be a man made material, but it works fantastically at mimicking fine cotton poplin at this scale, it has black crystal buttons and cufflinks and all fits like a dream. Over this is his black waistcoat, this again has working satin edged pockets and from his left pocket hangs his small leather watch strap. The waistcoat collar is also a satin finish and it does up with some well concealed press studs, the ones on the inside flap are even sewn right on the overlapping edge, and tiny jet black buttons are glued to the outside so when the garment is closed it lays flat and looks very convincing. The dinner jacket has the classic satin lapels and pocket flaps, jet black cuff buttons and a single button on the front. The lapels have a small dart stitch to hold them back and a beautifully detailed rose buttonhole on the left side, this is held in place by a tiny loop stitch, so take care when handling. The bottom hem of the jacket also has a wire running through it, this makes posing it far easier, as you can get it to look like it’s hanging well, with some implied weight.

The whole ensemble comes together beautifully and is simply one of the best put together ‘civilian’ outfits I’ve seen to date. I have no bad seams or loose stitches, just a near perfect 1/6th shirt and three piece suit that fits perfectly without looking bulky, even though it is multi layered.

Accessories - ****+
The Don comes with a very selection array, including-
- His hat (this is part of the limited edition release)
- The infamous chair
- His grey cat
- A glass tumbler with mimicked red liquid.
- Two sets interchangeable hands and one hand for holding the glass
- 12-inch figure stand with Godfather nameplate
- Plinth/base with mimicked carpet covering and brass nameplate.
- Printed card back-drop, to form display diorama.
- Full colour printed booklet

A very impressive array, and that chair really gives this character the gravitas he deserves, meaning that even for you non ‘Godfather’ fans, he’d look good posed amongst your other 1/6 figures, looking like some puppet master crime-lord. 

The detailing and build of the chair are fantastic, plastic in construction the solid frame is sculpted to mimic the ornate carving with a dark wood background onto which are inlaid brass sculpted elements it has real padded pleather arm rests. The main seat and back are also made of padded pleather with a foam inner to give it a cushioned feel, these elements are also edged with faux brass upholstery tacks, all very well executed and where the chair joins the base there is also a slight rocking motion so it can be reclined. My only misgiving would be that the wooden areas could do with some wood grain detailing or paint effects, but in all fairness you don’t get to see the close up details of the chair in the movie (I watched it again a couple of times recently in preparation) and it may have been lacquered, so it’s still a very good looking accessory, and the finest chair I’ve personally ever seen at this scale. 

Next up is the cat, this is in a set pose to be placed in his arms or on his lap, it’s a nice addition and looks more realistic than I originally thought it would, both the sculpt and paint app seem to have been improved since the proto pics first came out. The glass is also a cool addition, it’s a simple construction consisting of a small Perspex tumbler with a red transparent liquid inside (mimicked with a red Perspex plug), it’s a little prop but it works well for many poses.

The hat is an exclusive item, and to be fair it works fine on its own but would work even better if it had come with a scarf and coat as well… but never look a gift horse in the mouth, and as this item adds nothing to the price for your early bird collectors its still a very nice item that fits the figure well. It’s construction is virtually identical to the hat’s that come with The Spirit and Michael Jackson, so it’s a thin plastic material, coated in a good quality dense black flocking, with a satin ribbon around the edge for detailing, very nice.

He also has the extra hands, one for holding the glass and two alternate gesturing hands, these can be used for general ‘mid conversation’ type poses or for resting against his temples. This figure also comes with the classic HT MMS figure stand bearing his name and the movie logo, but to be fair, unless you are very pressed for space I cant see this getting a lot of use, why? Well, firstly I could get him to stand just fine without it, and secondly you get a rather snazzy plinth to either display him standing or put him sitting in the chair on. 

It can both be used like this on it’s own, or with the printed back-drop which has a painting to mimic part of his study, with the lamp, bookcase and closed blinds on the window. It’s another nice added bonus as it wasn’t originally going to be part of the package, and it works great as a backdrop for photography. However I prefer him just sitting in the chair on the plinth, and once you find a position you are happy with I think it looks even better than the Cinemaquette Godfather (which, if I’m brutally honest, only bears a slight resemblance to Brando), but with all these extras it gives you a wealth of possibilities in the way you choose to display it.

Lastly there’s the printed booklet, this is a nice idea and it’s cool to get a brief insight into what the creative team think of their respective roles in bringing this figure to life. It utilizes some cute design features like printing on opaque stock and die cut slats to mimic the blinds, the only slight let down is that the stock it’s printed on is a little thin and flimsy, but again, like the printed back-drop and base it’ more of an added bonus and it certainly helps give the whole package that hi-end ‘collectors item’ feel to it.
So, for this category HT have gone well above the call of duty, and deserve to be recognized for it… especially as they have managed to keep this at $150!

Fun Factor - ****
At the end of the day it’s an old man with a chair… but what an old man and quite frankly what a chair! This is a figure for your more discerning Movieophile that will enhance any collection but would also make a fantastic standalone piece on your desk or shelf. It’s just sublime in it’s level of detail and really is an instant talking piece.

Value - ****
Sideshow still has these on pre-order for $149.99 seriously, I mean, what are you waiting for. Just check out the photos, just look at the accessories, but most of all look at the quality of that figure. In a world where hi-end figures are increasingly creeping ever and ever closer to $200, hell plenty have been there for a while, then this is a bargain… yes, even at $150 of those very hard earned bucks he is, in my most humble of opinions a veritable bargain!

Overall - ****
For years, fans of The Godfather trilogy had little or no option when it came to collectibles and statues, but in the last couple of years it’s gone from the sublime to the ridiculous.

The movies have been re-mastered and repackaged so many times it’s difficult to know which is now the definitive version to watch, and as far as collectibles, there is everything from toy cars, small-scale figures, big-scale figures, and even a designer vinyl figure is planned from Michael Lau. But for me, even if space and price aren’t an issue, at this moment the best representation of Don Vito Corleone is this, and the price is a steal! I am officially bowled over from the packaging up!

Packaging - ****
Sculpting - ****
Paint - ****
Articulation - ****
Accessories - ****
Outfit - ****
Fun Factor - ****
Value - ****
Overall - ****

Where to Buy -
Check Michael's review for a complete list of sponsors carrying this fine figure.

Figures from the collection of Jeff Parker

This page copyright 2000 - 2008, Michael Crawford. All rights reserved. Hosted by 1 Hour