Hot Toys

   "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."

Jeff checks in with a look at Thor's dad, Odin - take it away, Jeff!

When it comes to the rules of engagement in combat with Frost Giants, then Odin’s your man! However if you need an insight to the hottest collectables and figures on the market, then look no further than this site… thanks to our very own sage and oracle, Mr Crawford.

I have to admit that when I approached the Thor movie it was with more than a little trepidation and also as something of a curiosity.


Well because I also have to admit that as a lad the titular god of thunder never really did it for me, even when very young he just seemed a little bit too silly. OK, OK, I know that with super hero comics you just need to ‘let go’, and for whatever reason I found it totally acceptable that a teenager could be bitten by a radioactive spider and develop superpowers or that a research scientist could be mutated after being bombarded with gamma radiation… go figure!

However, Thor was always that ‘leap of faith’ too far. Even when I heard it was the next Marvel character to get the big screen makeover I still wondered if it could actually work with modern ‘sophisticated’ audiences.
But then I heard Kenneth ‘the luvie’ Branagh was directing, and I sat up a little, then the cast started to be named and I really sat up. At that point I knew I had to at least go see it… so I went and surprisingly enough I thoroughly enjoyed it!

As far as Marvel movies go, it wasn’t quite Iron Man 1 or Spidey 2 good, but it was entertaining, and had some well paced action set pieces, and it certainly added to, and built on the whole ‘real world’ Marvel universe. Setting Thor up nicely for the forthcoming Avengers movie.

Mike already looked over his wayward son Thor last week, so I figured I’d jump right on in with his dear ol’ pappy Odin. It was quite a shrewd move to put Branagh on directing duties for this movie, as within the circles that proper thespians move, he is very much respected, and had just the right sort of clout to get actors of a certain calibre interested. Amongst these was Sir Anthony Hopkins, an actor, that by his own admission has been ‘phoning it in’ with a lot of the ‘Hollywood’ roles he’s played recently. And yet here, whilst working under Branagh’s direction, he actually managed to bring pathos and depth to a character that could so easily have turned out oh so very two-dimensional.

So if you are investing in Thor for your display, do you need his imposing father ‘The King of Asgard’ at his side, well I’ll try and help you decide.

Packaging - ****
Last week I reviewed the Ghost Rider figure, and pointed out then that the Marvel characters have so far all followed the same design principles, especially in their construction. So once more we have a relatively straightforward ‘lift off’ lid box design. Inside is a full colour printed card overlay with a brief character description, then the figure is held on the top layer and his spear and stand are on the lower layer. So nothing particularly untoward or bad to report! My only problem here is with the images that were obviously made available for Hot Toys to use. The Thor box had this striking and iconic image, as used on much of the promotional literature and indeed posters for the movie. But the image on the front here is just a little uninspiring, which is a shame as the figure within is actually pretty impressive.

Sculpting - ****
Every now and then a figure comes along that ‘even’ my wife loves, though there was a moment of befuddlement and confusion when I first showed it to her. Knowing she likes Hopkins I said what do you think of this? She smiled and said that it was an AMAZING Oliver Reed likeness, my jaw hung for a moment, “What”’ I said “It’s Anthony Hopkins!” to which she said “that’s what I meant”, and I’m glad to say she really did mean it… synaptic glitch, I hope she doesn’t read this.

In the movie, Odin was once and indeed still is quite the warrior, but due to an earlier encounter with the Frost Giants, he is now sadly cycloptic, meaning his left eye is permanently covered with an ornate metallic patch, which seems to stay put magically (though I’m guessing it’s the false eye equivalent of a babies pacifier, you really don’t want to be in the room when he ‘pops’ it out.

This patch is made of a separate piece which is glued over the top; this gives a nice layered effect. The facial expression is the passive side of determined, making for some good general poses, but not so great for the more dynamic action stances, but as Odin is meant to be a man in the late Autumn of his life, I guess that’s not too much of an issue. The detailing in the pore texturing, lines, wrinkles and scars covering his skin is deftly carried out, as is the fine whisker detailing for his beard. Once again Eom Jae Sung (GOX) is in control of this, under the art direction of KoJun, I was hugely impressed with the work he did on the recent Nick Cage portrait and also of Thor himself, and with the recently unveiled Captain America sculpt under his belt, he seems to be getting the pick of the recent Marvel jobs.

You get two versions of the rear of his head; both are expertly detailed with plenty of deep crisp detail in his long flowing locks. The difference is that one is slightly fuller, sticking out more towards the back for when he is helmetless, while the other is showing him in ‘hat head’ mode, so its formed to fit neatly within the confines of his elaborate helmet. It curls around at the front where it lays over his shoulders, and if you position everything right it can fall in such as away as to look relatively convincing. The trouble is with a style like this is that it will never look 100% natural, but this is a very good approximation.

He also comes with a selection of nine hands-
2 fists
2 spear grip
2 relaxed/ light holding pose
1 right spear angled /pointing
1 left gesturing
1 left open palmed/fingers spread

All are sculpted well, but I did notice the top part of the opening on the left hands spear grip was rather crudely finished, looking like an exact drilled out hole rather than the natural form that the fingers would take. This is however a very nit-picky observation, as once the spear is in the hand (which is basically the only reason you would use it) it looks absolutely fine.

Paint - ***1/2
Perfect* ‘yadda, yadda’, subtle* ‘yadda, yadda’, life like* ‘yadda, yadda’!

I know I could just carry on like this, however, on this occasion it’s not quite as perfect as some others have been in the past, but when compared to the competition, then it’s still way up there. Nonetheless I had just enough of an issue to keep this from the top spot.

I have no problems with the flesh-tones, which are as ‘lifelike*’ and ‘subtle*’ as ever, and the super glossy eye is also as accurate and ‘perfect*’ as we always expect. I will especially draw your attention to the super fine and delicate work on the age spots that pepper his forehead and temples, just outstanding. But on this version the paint on the hair doesn’t work quite as well as I had hoped it might. In the past, when working on people with darker hairstyles then the ‘one colour all over’ approach can be complementary in letting the sculpting shine through. Creating the differences in tone by the way that the light and shadow respond to the surface. But here the large slab of grey ends up looking like just that… a large slab of grey!
It’s a shame, as the sculpting is all there, and the likeness is sublime, but the dull grey tone seems to if anything flatten the sculpting rather than helping to enhance it. Looking at stills from the movie, it strikes me that a much lighter tone may have worked better as pics like this or this show that from certain angles it looked virtually white.

Of course if you plan on displaying him in his helmet, then this will be much less of an issue for you, but I had hoped to pose him with his helmet under his arm, so I wish just a little more work had been carried out in varying its tonal values.

Ultimately this is a good job… but it’s certainly not their very best job!

Outfit - ***1/4
The aesthetic for the inhabitants of Asgard is meant to represent a society that is at the top of its game, a virtual utopia, all be it one that seems to be in a feudal state with a number of its neighbours. Also the characters we see in the movie are the kings, noblemen and hi-cast warriors, so their clothing, armour and weapons all looks shiny and new, almost more like ceremonial accoutrements, rather than ‘every day’ items of combat. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a bold and striking look, but it does seem to owe more the 1980 ‘Flash Gordon’ movie or even (dare I say it) a Power Ranger, rather than the lived in and used look of say ‘Lord of the Rings’. However as this is meant to be a mythical, technologically advanced society, I guess that’s OK, but it still all looks just a bit too perfect for my liking (can you tell I’m actually arguing with myself over this one).

As far as actually looking like the screen seen outfit goes, then this is over 95% there, but as far as functioning like it, then it’s sadly just a little lacking in this department. The main reason for this is the moulded part of his armour that fits over his torso. It’s well sculpted to represent all the interlocking panels, sections and belt, but ultimately it’s all one big piece. And some of the colouration doesn’t look as golden as perhaps it should. If you check out the pics in the link here you can see just how detailed and how golden I actually mean. But what they taketh with one hand, they doth delivereth with the other, as his boots are of a similar construction to the ones on the Ezio figure from Assassins Creed figure I reviewed a few months back here, meaning that the camouflaged join at the ankle gives a full range of movement in all directions. Next up are his elaborate pleather trousers, these have cushioned knee pads, printed metallic details and embossed lines criss-crossing over their surface, and they are loose enough to not be too constrictive on the leg articulation. Under the torso armour he sports a brown satin long sleeved shirt with embossed diagonal pin-stripes. This has removable armoured shoulder pauldrens at the tops of the arms (these can be lifted off as they are kept in place with Velcro) and armoured gauntlets over the forearms. Over his shoulders he has a long sweeping red cape. The fabric used here is good and heavy, and unlike Thor, you don’t need to attach it, it comes already fixed in place. The pleats where it falls over his shoulders are glued in position in quite an elaborate fashion to a solid ‘yoke’ that keeps everything in place, and there is enough material left loose on the left shoulder to be able to drape it round over the front. This is actually one of my favourite parts of the outfit, simple, but elegantly executed. Last up is his helmet, and boy, what a helmet it is. Its close fitting to the skull, with deep extended cheek guards, I guess you could say ‘Magnetoesque’, but it then has sweeping, scroll like wings that radiate out from its rear, and lastly a pair of magnificent curved horns erupting from the front. It’s a design that borrows heavily from many historical types of armour, but is obviously meant to be most evocative of heroes from Germanic Norse legends, but with a slight industrial ‘techno’ twist. Every schoolboy worth his salt knows that Vikings didn’t actually wear horned helmets, but when a misconception is as deeply rooted in culture as this is, you’d be stupid not to utilise it, and it certainly gives Odin quite a dramatic presence, and as he isn’t a Viking anyway, but rather an ‘mythical’ Asgardian, who cares?

Articulation - ***
Sadly all that thick bulky armour does impact a little negatively on this guy’s poseability. I haven’t actually disrobed him, as it looks like it could potentially be quite destructive to do so. This means I haven’t actually seen under his clothes so I can’t actually 100% see what the base body is. But after a little light groping, it feels like a hybrid of the upper chest and neck of a stocky muscle body (think Barney Ross) with a classic True-Types arms and legs. So the basic functionality of the body is not in question, it’s just the way it interacts… or doesn’t, with the outfit.

There’s really not too much to worry about as Odin is an older character, and the poses that most will want are general standing and perhaps a few with his spear held in combat positions, and to be fair he is more than capable of these, just don’t approach it expecting any ultra deep stances.

Accessories - ***
This release is pretty light in the accessories department, and like in the outfit section, it suffers from the curse of the ‘overly perfect’ ceremonial weapon, rather than an earthy, visceral bladed spear. This is obviously screen accurate, but it is achingly shiny and the ‘perfection’ of it does make it look just a tad plasticy. However, I still need to continue arguing with myself as I could only find this out of focus pic of the weapon… and it sure is shiny!

He basically comes with the selection of hands described in the sculpting category, of which you could consider seven of them extra accessories, then there’s his long spear, known as Gungnir or ‘the Spear of Heaven’. This is meant to be made of the mystical metal of Uru, and is enchanted to return to Odin’s hand, it is the same material that Thor’s hammer is made of, hence it returns in the same way to its chosen wielder. Next up is the extra hairpiece for when wearing the helmet, and lastly the old trusty black figure stand. This is one area that they could have been a little more creative, as a joint interlocking base showing an ornate section of ‘Asgardian’ floor for Odin, Thor… and hopefully Loki would have certainly added to the display options.

As it is, we get all we need for solid display piece, but if just a few little extras had been included it could have helped in it’s over all value.

Fun Factor - ***
If you are looking for a ‘fun’ figure then his son is much more the action man, but even he suffers from a degree of restrictiveness in terms of his outfit. Of course if you are a hardcore Thor fan, or just aiming to get every character that is linked to the numerous Marvel licences, then you will undoubtedly feel more positive about the whole ‘Odin’ experience. And in terms of looking like a wise but seasoned old warrior, then with the helmet in place he certainly looks every bit the sagely badass! However, as we say till we are blue in the face, this is an adult collectable. If you were insane enough to buy this for a kid, then I guess in a perverse way you actually deserve to end up gluing him back together at the end of a days play. That said, he is definitely robust enough to stand up to plenty of posing and repositioning from an experienced Hot Toys enthusiast, but do make yourself familiar with the instructions provided so as to avoid tears before bedtime!

Value for money - ***
There is a lot to like here, but there are also a few issues that keep it from becoming a favourite. Had the painting of the hair been handled just a little differently? Had the torso armour had a just a little more flexibility and been fabricated with more mixed media, and had he come with perhaps just a few more accessories then I’d have been a lot happier.  And the fact that he lacks these things and still comes in with a RRP of $169.99 makes me feel that his price is a little on the steep side. Being a long time dedicated hi-end collector I usually tend to be more tolerant and conditioned to the prices that modern 1/6th goes for, and to a great degree I am mostly preaching to the converted. However, Mike has a wider demographic in mind, which I can totally respect. But on this occasion the price does seem to be at least $20 too heavy even for the dedicated hi-end collectors. I’m guessing the fact we have a hefty Marvel ‘summer blockbuster’ licence, coupled with the use of Hopkins likeness may be playing a greater part in this.

Overall- ***1/4
There is much to like here, and the problem solving in the way they have tackled this complex outfit is in many ways commendable. However the way it has been finally constructed, coupled with the ‘Flash Gordon’ aesthetic in the actual movie makes this one just not quite as special as I had hoped it would be. Then the lack of accessories and rather flat paint app on the hair push this one even further away from a full score. But the straw that breaks the camels back is the price. Had this been a $150 figure it would have got half a star more, but taking everything into account, then this feels like a figure that just limps over the three star category. And the quality of the portrait makes that a real shame.

Where to buy
Online options include these site sponsors:

- Capstone Comics has the pre-order at $153, but may already be sold out.

- Alter Ego Comics has Odin for $153, but are sold out of Thor.

- Fanboy Collectibles has him on pre-order at $155, along with Thor.

- Super Power Collectibles doesn't have Thor, but they have Odin at $159.

- Big Bad Toy Store has him at $160, along with Thor.

- Hollywood Heroes has the price at $170 each for either character.

- Sideshow has him at $170.

- Urban Collector has Thor at $180, but is sold out of Odin.

- or you can search ebay for a deal.

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This product was provided free for the review by the manufacturer. Photos and text by Jeff Parker.

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