Sgt. Barnes - Platoon
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 joins us tonight with a look at the cranky member of the Platoon - tell us all about him, Jeff!

A big thank you as always to Mike for letting me share my thoughts on the ever improving world of 1/6th figures.

A few months back I reviewed Chris Taylor the first release in the Platoon series and I was suitably impressed, we got a pretty awesome portrait from new gal on the block Song, a great selection of accessories, a super detailed outfit and as always a kick ass paint app, so ol’ Barnsey here had a lot to live up to. I’m happy to say that he’s hit the tracking firing on all cylinders, but for me his 3.0 L V8 performance is slightly outgunned by Taylors 3.5 L. But more on that later!
In my Taylor review I gave a brief synopsis of the story, a story in which Sgt Barnes is without a doubt the big bad. An interesting concept considering it was set in Vietnam circa 1967, a full six years before the Paris Peace Accords required all external troops to be withdrawn, it was interesting as the Vietcong was meant to be the enemy, and indeed in political terms they were. But the monster in this particular story came from within.

Barnes was a man physically, mentally and morally scarred by his experiences as a soldier, maybe at some point in his murky past he had been a good man, but whatever goodness there had been was now totally corrupt to the point that he saw his own comrades as the enemy, if they didn’t share his warped views. And this man showed no signs of repentance or regret and certainly didn’t achieve redemption.

So why is it we always want the bad guy in our collections. I suppose it’s the yang to the yin, for every Arthur there is a Mordred, for every Potter there is a Voldemort and for every Skywalker there is a Vader, so what would Taylor be on the shelf without Barnes here… exactly!.

Packaging - ****
This follows the same format as the Taylor figure, which is something of a classic tried and tested formula for well equipped military figures. The images on the front and back are obviously different, but the rough hessian texture is still there. The side is held shut with a magnet that unfolds to show an accessory tray fixed to the inner flap and the figure opposite alongside his other adornments.

This doesn’t have the super inventive feel of some of Hot Toys most outstanding recent pieces of packaging, but for a Nam era military figure it gives just the right feel.

Sculpting - ***3/4
This is a fantastic portrait of Berenger as the psychotic, war addled monster that is Sgt Barnes, it was overseen by Yulli and KoJun no less, but the actual nuts and bolts of the sculpt were tooled by Song Hye Hyun (who not only created the Chris Taylor sculpt, but also did the rather impressive Milla Jovovich as Alice portrait that was recently unveiled).

The likeness is striking, but it’s the way that she has managed to incorporate the heavy scaring without losing any of that likeness that I find most impressive.
The brow is slightly furrowed and in the early stages of a frown, giving this a strong intense expression. This is then made even more threatening by the paint app on the eyes that are angled to look up slightly. The heavy scaring up the right hand side of the face and lip is handled with great skill, showing some great observational work based on some of those pics I linked to above. So if I like this so much, why do I keep it just shy of a full mark?

Well it’s a problem shared with the paint app category (I shall go into it there as well), but the few strands of hair that hall over the forehead just manage to spoil the illusion of how realistic this could actually look. If a small section of sculpted hairs had been made to hang down here I think the actual 3D relief of them as opposed to an ‘implied’ relief could have maybe saved it.

As it is, this is still a jaw-droppingly good piece of work, but that fringe just robs it of a full score, well, in my humble opinion anyway.

Paint - ***3/4
Does JC Hong ever sleep? I mean, Hot Toys has an amazing and it has to be said quite large stable of talent working on many licences when it comes to the actual portraiture and sculpting, and they are of course credited on the packaging (something all hi-end manufacturers should do in my belief… lets face it, you don’t leave the credits off of a movie… even the bad ones!). But when it comes to masterminding and controlling the paint apps, just one mans name appears time after time. And not only that, he is often credited with creative control of other aspects too.

Well, whatever his sleeping patterns, we can all be grateful for his input, it’s as if his hands are guided by angels… or demons, depending on what kind of deal he may have had to make to be so consistently adept!
So why no fuller than full score this time?

I admit I feel a little weird not giving the Palme d'Or yet again, but there is a slight problem on this paint job, and it’s a shame that it is on his face, well, actually his forehead.

I have no issue with the skin tones which are as convincing as always, and the glossy eyes are just as realistic, and in this case downright sinister in the way they look up slightly, making for some intimidating poses with the head tilted forward. The way they catch the light is nothing short of spooky I tells ya! The subtle work on picking out the scar and his lips are also worthy of positive mentions in despatches.

So what’s the problem then?

It’s those few strands of hair again at the front. For me they drag down what was a study in utter perfection to something just that little bit lacking.

As I say above, in my opinion this should have been a small separate sculpted piece that just hung from under the front of the bandana/durag. The problem is that this painted representation is actually quite accurate on many levels, Berenger’s hair was indeed plastered to his forehead with sweat in the movie, as you can see here, here  and indeed here, but the subtlety of the way it looks has not been captured. The problem is twofold because: A- This is a subtle, delicate and difficult feature to sculpt convincingly. And B- This is a subtle, delicate and difficult feature to paint convincingly.
And whilst I would never accuse this of slop in anyway, it still doesn’t quite manage to look as convincing as the rest of the outstanding paint app. I also noticed the paint stopped a few microns from the edge of his bandana, but this can be easily covered up if you futz the edge of the cloth and push/ease it slightly over the lip of his forehead, in fact this futzing is essential to make the transition point between the cloth and the face look convincing, without a noticeable step or gap.
Ultimately this is a 99% great job, but when you are so used to a 100% result, I felt this came up just that teensy-weensy little bit short.

Outfit - ****
The actual base BDU’s here are identical to those we got with Taylor, so for a piece by piece breakdown on the T-shirt, combat shirt, pants and boots I’ll be lazy and say you can find out all you need under the outfit section here, but they all fit well and have working pockets and finely observed details throughout. Like last time the boots are a mixed media representation of jungle issue era boots with working laces etc. The outfit fits to the TT well and even manages to look like it’s been slept in a few times, in short it’s all good!

You do however have a few fiddly jobs to do, as you need to take off the webbing harness and attach the various pouches, canteens, knife sheath and safe keeper scabbard. The pouches and canteens have double slide and clip fasteners while the scabbard just slides on (after removing the suspender), the pouches also have straps to attach to the suspender buckles for added support. Although the small safe keeper fist knife has a small sliding clip on its back, it actually needs to be bound to the upper-left webbing suspender, as seen here the sticky backed tape you need to do this has been supplied as a sheet, as it was with Taylor, you just need to cut the strips you require with a scalpel. While you are at it remember to cut enough to bind the extra magazine to the magazine fitted on the Colt 653P (remember to do it upside down for a fast reload!). I guess I should have gone over that in accessories, so moving along swiftly.

Articulation - ****
Barnes comes on a classic True Type, so no problems here. It’s a dream of a body to pose and holds natural positions well; I’ve been over its aesthetic, engineering and performance many times before. You can find my previous low-downs here-

Classic True Type
Classic, narrow shouldered and slim True Type comparison
Various male and female True Type variations

It’s been at the top of the heap for over five years, and the only people who seem to be constantly improving on it at the moment are Hot Toys themselves. If you’ve never owned one, and this is your first, you’ll love it! And of course if you have, then I’m preaching to the converted!

Accessories - ****
As always with military figures he comes well armed, and well equipped. He’s not packing quite as much firepower as Taylor did, as he has no M72 LAW or claymore, but what he does have is-

-  Colt Model 653P assault rifle
-  M1911A1 sidearm
-  Extra magazine for rifle
-  Combat knife with sheath
-  Safe Keeper fist knife with scabbard
-  Two M26 ‘Lemon’ hand grenades
-  Helmet with camouflage cover
-  Necklace with dog tag and can opener
-  Webbing harness
-  Magazine bandoleer
-  Compass pouch
-  First aid pouch
-  Wrist watch
-  Metal bracelet
-  Cigarette
-  Carabiner
-  Folded document
-  ARVN rucksack
-  Two canteens with covers
-  Entrenching tool (E-tool)
-  Entrenching tool cover
-  Figure stand with Sergeant Barnes nameplate and movie logo

Most of the pieces are self-explanatory and either fit on or can be held by the figure well. I already said above how to attach the magazines to the gun, but the 653P also has an adjustable strap and an opening dust guard. The sidearm on this occasion has no moving parts, so no cocking mechanism, however the magazine is removable and the basic detail and paint finish is accurate and well carried out.

The small folded green document is to slide under the strap on his helmet; I even got my linen tester out and saw this has the synopsis of the movie written out in microscopic type. It would have been cool to get a pack of Marlboros to put here too, but I guess brand advertising for smokes would be a no-no, we do however get a cute little cigarette to put in his hand, which is a cool touch. If you do want his pack of smokes then a quick root around on line throws up some print outs, which is what I did for my photos. The entrenching tool fits into the carry cover supplied, and can then be attached to the eyelets at the top of the rucksack, hanging between the two pouches.

As far as helpful pointers go, I think that is about it, I will point out that the knife is described as a bayonet in the spec, but can’t be fixed to the rifle, so is really a combat knife. Everything else is self-explanatory and carried out to the quality of finish we now expect as standard from Hot Toys.

Fun Factor - ***1/2
I guess this could pass as a pretty bad ass looking grunt to your average young boy who wants to play soldiers, but of course this is never gonna end up in the hands of kids, at least I hope it isn’t!

This is aimed squarely at your more discerning collector; someone who can appreciate the craft, love and attention to detail that has been lavished on it. So if you are that discerning collector, you may just be waiting to make sure we get a figure of Elias before you jump, but the ‘catch 22’ is that if this ends up in the warehouse for too long, will we get any more follow up Platoon figures at all? Well, I hope so, but even just standing next to Taylor they make for a cool little display, as I said at the beginning, the yin and yang of the movie.

Value for money - ****
Even the RRP of $145.99 seems like a good price to me, but by shopping around you can get this guy for over $10 less. So at $135 I have no qualms giving this a full value rating. And I wouldn’t even want to knock too much off at the full RRP.

You get a stunning portrait, nice outfit and some finely detailed accessories. I’m actually quite surprised that these are still pretty available; I had a feeling they would sell out faster than they have, especially when you consider how popular the old sideshow figures were on the secondary market. I wonder if Barnes was perhaps too much of a loathful character after all!

Overall- ****
My only minor gripe is the few strands of hair on his forehead, but after just a little minor futzing it’s almost a moot point, and if you decide on the behelmeted look then its even less of an issue. Every other aspect is pretty much A1 perfecto. 

If you score him for $135 (and you still can) then with the overall quality here, it just has to be a full score. And he makes a great add to your rogue’s gallery of detestable characters, you know, the ones without a single redeeming characteristic!

Where to buy
Sideshow still has this guy in stock for $145.99 which as I said above seems like a fair price, but you could save some money with the site sponsors below:

Fan Boy - in stock @ $134.99
Big Bad Toystore - in stock @ $139.99

Urban Collector - in stock @ $145.99

Or you can try eBay where he’s available for between $145 to $170.

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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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