Man of Faith - Moses
JCL Toys

Moses action figure by JCL 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 is back tonight with a look at a rather unique action figure, but one that's done surprsingly well - tell us all about it, Jeff!

Thanks as always to Michael, a man who is no stranger to reviewing Moses himself, as he did here a few years back. But the passage of time has lead to an increase in scale, and a huge leap in quality.

If there’s one thing that unites and divides more than politics and religion, its action figures based on people and characters from politics and religion. And so, I must be cautious!

When this figure was first announced on the forums, it was like the very gates of Hades had been cast open. People who normally seemed able discuss to the collectables we all care so much about in a calm and measured manner, (well most of the time) threw caution to the wind and became manic Christian zealots and holier than thou atheists!

It taught me that when it comes to certain fields, it’s best to play your cards close to your chest, meaning I shall try and review this figure whilst walking a tightrope of offension.

I will say however here at the offset that I am not a religious person; in fact I don’t even consider myself spiritual on any level whatsoever. I am however deeply interested in theology, and our house is full of images and iconography from all the worlds credos and faiths (my wife majored in anthropology).

The company behind this figure is a new player going by the name JCL and they have a mission (which I guess is evident in that those initials stand for ‘Jesus Christ Loves’), not just to bring us top class toys and collectables, but also to try and spread the word of the gospels.

Moses action figure by JCL toys

Moses action figure by JCL toys
Moses action figure by JCL toys
Moses action figure by JCL toys
Moses action figure by JCL toys
Moses action figure by JCL toys
Moses action figure by JCL toys
Moses action figure by JCL toys
Moses action figure by JCL toys
Moses action figure by JCL toys
Moses action figure by JCL toys
Moses action figure by JCL toys

Once again I underline that I have no religious agenda, I have no wish to spread anyone’s beliefs other than my own, so for me this is just a 100% cool figure. It doesn’t make me want to pick up the nearest bible and start reciting the 23rd psalm, but it does hammer home just how instantly recognisable the characters and situations of the bible are in terms of global iconography. So if you dig that on any level read on… If not, what the heck, read it anyway it might stir some feelings and emotions, maybe even some memories, some negative, some positive, but lets face it, any feelings are better than the banal and numb state of futile existence that permeates most things these days…

That was meant to be ironic…

And back to toys...

Packaging - ***
There was a time, not so very long ago that virtually every 1/6th figure came in a 5 panel flap fronted box. It’s a tried and tested formula, and as the old adage goes, ‘if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it’. Meaning that this is the formula JCL has opted to take. The cover has a super blown up photo of the figures head along with the ‘Man of Faith, collection series’ logo and his name in large letters.
The back has a brief biography of the life and times of Mr Moses or ‘משה ‘ as it should be written in Hebrew, though he is also believed to have gone by ten other names, as you can read here, in fact the number ten seems to crop up a lot with Moses, ten Egyptian plagues, ten commandments… well, that’s three at least!

Sorry I’m rambling again. Anyway, this biography is illustrated with three pics of the figure in various poses and showing some of his accessories. Within the box the figure is held in a vac formed tray somewhat annoyingly tightly by no less than seven twisty ties… too many in anyone’s language be it Hebrew, English or even Welsh. They were so tight I ended up using wire-snippers to get him out. However, as annoying as they were, they certainly meant that the figure arrived in top condition, with no broken parts or paint rubs.

So, not an exceptional bit of packaging design, but for a new company it’s not bad either, and the construction is robust enough to keep the contents safe. And let’s face it, that’s its primary job!

Sculpting - ***3/4
It’s fair to say that no one now ACTUALLY knows what Moses looked like. Your historians, academics and archaeologists will tell you that coming from the geographical location he did, at the time that he is purported to have existed, means his physical appearance would be far from the Hollywood ‘biblical epic’ representations many of us now hold up as ideals. But to be fair the movie images and styles were in turn based heavily on the classical paintings of the Renaissance period, paintings that were often commissioned by wealthy families and the church itself. So the artists carrying out these commissions used live models of that time, and dressed the figures in a romanticised and often semi classical European way that would please the audience of the day.

So, what am I getting at? Well, what we actually have here is an unofficial, but strikingly close representation of Charlton Heston in Cecil B DeMille’s 1956 (ass numbing) movie ‘The Ten Commandments’. As I said this isn’t officially meant to be Heston, which for me is a good thing, but if you look at a picture like this or this then you can see its been a pretty big inspiration on how this character should look. The face is a great piece of sculpting from such a new company. He has a realistic appearance and a stoic, stern expression, as one would expect from a man that carries the future of his people on his shoulders. Let’s face it, if he wasn’t receiving the Ten Commandments and dealing with golden calves he was talking to burning bushes and parting the red sea, this was a busy man!

As I said, there is more than a passing resemblance to the NRA’s finest, but there is also enough of a difference to keep JCL out of the law courts. It also means this would work well as the base figure on a bash of anyone from Ben Gunn to Merlin or even Jorus C’baoth (he’d look good standing next to your Sideshow Thrawn figure, with minimal work).

The detailing on the hair is nice and crisp, falling back over the head in a very dramatic, but also quite natural way. He also comes with a selection of five hands in various positions; all are sculpted competently and work well with his accessories.

So, a more than capable piece of work, in fact it’s so good it’ll stand alongside your Hot Toys, Enterbay, Triad and Sideshow figures in a very favourable light, and considering this is their FIRST offering the future looks bright… as long as folks actually buy the product!

Paint - ****
I am hugely impressed with this paint app, it shows a far higher finish than many other 1/6th manufacturers seem able to achieve (of course there are some hi-end producers that far surpass it, but with a price that reflects this), and for a price of $69… no, that wasn’t a typo… $69. When was the last time you scored a really good quality figure for under $70?

Obviously there is no licence fee to pay (unless the big guy has gone commercial), but even so, this still stands out as a pearl amongst oh so many swine. The flesh tones are warm and convincing with great choice of tones used. The blue eyes are crisp and clear with no horrible doll dot. The facial hair is feathered in with a good degree of subtlety and graduates into the main body of his hair in a reasonably convincing way. Of course if this were a $120 to $150 figure I’d perhaps be a little more severe in my critique of the finished figure, but for $69 this is actually pretty darned impressive!

Outfit - ***1/2
As I already mentioned, this is squarely based on the Charlton Heston portrayal of Moses, just look at the classic old poster here, all the robes, belts, sashes, gauntlets, cloak and sandals are virtual facsimiles of the costume used in the movie. In all fairness this is a relatively straightforward outfit to do, but that doesn’t undermine the fact that JCL have done a sterling job in tailoring it well and choosing fabrics that hang convincingly for this scale.

His wardrobe consists of actual leather and cord sandals (not sculpted), a burgundy robe that wraps over his front and is held closed by a leather-studded belt. Over this belt he has a red and black stripped knotted sash which ends with frayed tassels. Each wrist has a laced up leather gauntlet lined with tiny metal studs and then lastly he wears an outer robe/cloak with bold vertical stripes of red, black and white. The overall quality here is good, with tidy work on the seams and stitching. The back of the collar has a deliberately rough finish, mimicking the rough ‘zig-zag’ stitching of a simple and crudely fabricated garment. The bottom edge of the outer robe also has a drawstring that can help in ruching up the material for some poses.

So a simple outfit, but really rather elegantly carried out.

Articulation - ***1/2
The basic functionality here is pretty good, not very top end good, but again considering the price, it gives a good range of mobility. Think hi-end military figures from the late nineties rather than the newly developed, cutting edge stuff at the forefront of today’s ‘elite’ releases.
The feet have a gap between the toes for the sandals to fit between and the range of movement at the ankle is good with the ability to turn, point and tilt. The knees are double jointed and there’s a cut joint in the upper thigh. The hip is a universal hinged joint, so again a full range of movement is available. Next up the waist is a traditional old fashioned elastic held joint (like old GI Joe’s from back in the day), meaning a reasonable degree of tilt and bend is possible here as well. There is a simple hinged joint in the mid-torso, so a small degree of movement forward and back can be achieved.  The shoulders are pegged universal joints and like the legs there is a cut joint at the top followed by a double elbow and the wrist is a double pegged rotating cut joint, much like the True Type and indeed a good many other 1/6th base bodies. Lastly the neck is able to tilt and bend both where it joins the head and the body.

So as I said, not cutting edge, but more than serviceable!

The only reason for the lack of a full score in this category is the fact that this figure has quite a bit of flesh on show, meaning the ‘ripped’ physique, (especially on the chest/pectoral area) seems just a little too extreme for a man of Moses years and indeed character, but in terms of posing you shouldn’t have any problems. I took a few snaps of the base body having a small workout here, but be warned, the sight of ‘The Lawgiver’ in a semi naked state might be deemed too much for some!

Accessories - ***1/4
When looking at the story of Moses as a whole there is a lot to take in. As I already said, he was a busy boy. However this depiction is showing him in his elder years (he’s said to have been 120 when he died), and this is meant to be directly after receiving the Ten Commandments from God on mount Sinai. So we get the two stone tablets with the commandments written out in the traditional Anglo-Saxon derivative of the Latin alphabet (English, to the uninitiated), I have to admit I would have much preferred ancient Hebrew, or at least something approximating it like this but I guess what we get makes more sense, in as much as JCL want these figures to be educational in the respect of spreading the word of this particular god. The tablets are plastic and based on the colouration of the ones used in the DeMille movie, which for me are a little on the red side, a more natural grey stone colour would have been preferred. We also get his staff, a staff that is meant to have held holy significance, it was instrumental in parting the Red Sea, it drew water from rock, invoked the great plagues upon Egypt and even transformed itself into a snake (Gandalf eat your heart out!). Some believers still hold faith that the original staff is held at Topkapı Palace in Turkey… but baring in mind that various religious sites hold claim to the Holy Prepuce (look it up) and enough timber from the ‘one true cross’ to rebuild the Ark…. It’s doubtful?

Here it is also made of plastic but fashioned to represent a simple stick made of wood, perhaps the branch of an olive tree. It fits well into the specially designed left hand, which is amongst the five we get with the figure; the others are two relaxed and two in a gripping position for the stone tablets.

Lastly we get a rather nifty environment base; it’s sculpted to look like a patch of rock from Mount Sinai and even has sculpted footprints and a hole to grip the staff. There is a ‘crotch hammock’ style stand included that can be inserted into the rock for extra stability, but I found just using the hole for the staff and making the figure grip it was enough. However, if you plan on the pose where Moses is holding the tablets side by side it could come in handy.

Ultimately this could never be considered a huge haul, but at the price-point this sells for it’s a nice selection, made all the more worthy with the inclusion of the environment base.

Fun Factor - ***
Hey it’s Moses, he comes with his mythical staff and two tablets baring the Ten Commandments, what is not fun about that?

OK, I guess that might just be me then, but I can’t be alone in seeing the full potential of this line. The website states that the next release will be Jesus, and a little insider information said a figure of David with Goliaths head was being worked on as well.

I like the idea of littering a display with a few classic characters from the scriptures, and this was a great one to kick off with.

Value for money - ****
@ $69 this is a bona fide bargain, and not only does it depict one of the Bibles most enigmatic and important characters; it also has a metric tonne of bash potential. The whole shebang is well constructed and in these days of regularly paying over $100 for a figure (hell, $150 is increasingly the norm), this comes is as a breath of fresh air that won’t have you wincing when the credit card bill arrives!

Overall- ***1/4
The sculpt here is pretty top notch, the paint work is solid and the tailoring (though far from complicated) is carried out well, with a good job having been done on the choice of cloths to fabricate it in. So when you factor in the more than reasonable price, then you have what surely deserves to be a hit on your hands. But there is one big sticking point… faith!

You either have it, or you don’t… but does it matter?
Will these be seen as sacrilegious and frivolous by the devout followers of Christianity and indeed Judaism, and will those that don’t follow any form of organised religion (hello) even want this in their collection? 

Well I have to say that some religious ephemera can easily fall into the gaudy and kitsch arena of merchandise, but this manages to end up purely as great representation of Moses based on the iconic image of Heston playing the role. It has me wondering whether the next release of Christ will be based on a celluloid portrayal. Being a man of a certain age, I have always had the romantic image of Robert Powell as the face of Jesus which admittedly is yet another very Westernised ideal for his look, but it is again heavily influenced by those old renaissance paintings.

Whatever comes next, and however this line pans out, what we have here is a very strong first release, and I came very close to giving it a top score. I just hope I don’t get sent to the other place for my lack of it!

Where to buy
You can get this guy direct from JCL here or you can track it down on ebay where he’s selling for $79.99… Amen!

Moses action figure by JCL toys
Moses action figure by JCL toys
Moses action figure by JCL toys

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Moses action figure by JCL toys

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

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