Hot Toys Marlon Brando


"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 Parker jumps in tonight with a look at another Hot Toys Movie Icon, Marlon Brando!  Take it away, Jeff...

“It begins here for me on this road. How the whole mess happened I don't know, but I know it couldn't happen again in a million years. Maybe I could of stopped it early, but once the trouble was on its way, I was just going' with it. Mostly I remember the girl. I can't explain it - a sad chick like that, but something' changed in me. She got to me, but that's later anyway. This is where it begins for me right on this road”.

OK it’s more than a little melodramatic, but so begins the opening narration of The Wild One (1953) one of Brando’s earliest staring vehicles, many consider it over rated and it’s probably true to say that had Brando not starred, it might have disappeared without trace!

But he did star, and so it has become a dated and flawed classic, but still a classic, it supplied the blue-print for the angry, disenfranchised youth of 1950’s America and a defining role for its lead actor!  

Brando had made a big impact in Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire a couple of years earlier and he was still to make On The Water Front the following year for which he won his first Oscar. But as far as a character ‘look’ goes, this was just about his most iconic.

He played Johnny Strabler, the leader of ‘The Black Rebels Motorcycle Club’ (with BRMC stenciled on the back of their jackets), a biker gang that drifts into ‘Wrightsville’ a small Norman Rockwellesque town and proceeds to terrorise its inhabitants, and when a rival gang ‘The Beetles’ (It has been rumoured that that a certain little ‘Scouse’ band was inspired by this name) led by Chinno (Lee Marvin) arrive in town as well, things start to turn even uglier.  

Brando was the archetypal rebel in this movie, a movie that by today’s standards might seem pretty tame, but back in the day the British film board of censors banned it for 15 years, finally giving it a release with an X certificate in 1968.

And so it is pretty fitting that for Hot Toys (HT) second M Icon, they should choose to make the figure of Marlon Brando from this iconic role.

What're you rebelling against, Johnny?

Whaddya got?

If you want to familiarize yourself with the look of the character here are a few more youtube links. Careful with this one, if you don’t want to know how it ends!

Packaging: ***1/2
In its construction this is very similar to the previous M-Icon; James Dean figure reviewed here, so it’s the same shoe-box design that flips open sideways. Instead of the denim effect that Dean had, this Brando version is printed to mimic the sheen and grain of leather, neither gloss nor matt but a kind of semi gloss finish. It has a ‘very’ brief biography on the front and again bears the small metal badge in the top right corner. 

Inside is a printed-paper cover that you lift to show a sheet of foam that protects the front of the figure. Under this is the figure, completely surrounded by die cut black foam. This does an amazing job of protecting the contents, and like the Enterbay, Bruce Lee figures, it means that short of actually crushing the box he’s gonna reach you in A1 perfecto condition. 

So a nice bit of design, totally collector friendly and the box looks good displayed to boot.

Sculpt: *** 4/5
This is very a strong sculpt by Kang In Ae, I’d say better than his work on James Dean, but still not quite as spot on as the amazing cannibal Jack by Yulli, but there is absolutely no doubt that this is a striking sculpt of Brando in his prime. Kang has captured something of his arrogance and his heavy eye lidded nonchalant stare. And though this looks virtually spot on from the front, in profile it is faultless, with the silhouette of his brow, chin, mouth and all importantly his nose is a 1/6 facsimile of the man him self.

Paint: ****
Not too much paint needed here but all carried out very tightly. His hat and boots are painted well with some lovely attention to detail on the metal rings and zips on his boots (my engineers boots have always been pull on though?). When I first saw pics of the cap, I was sure it was fabric, it’s not, but the paint is so well applied to such a solid sculpt that it’s all very convincing.

The most impressive paintwork is of course on the face, I think this sculpt is even stronger than on Dean, and therefore the paint doesn’t have to work quite as hard, but this is still outstanding.

Beautifully tight crisp work on and around the eyes, in fact these are some of the best painted eye’s I’ve seen, clean subtle work on the skin-tones and some very fine work is applied to the hair, especially on the hairline, another outstanding paint app from the HT golden boy J C Hong

Articulation - ****
This is the classic HT True-Type used on virtually all the ‘non-muscle’, bodied human males, but unlike Dean he still has the double neck articulation. 

I, like Michael think this is just about the best body out there at the moment, some are slightly more agile, but this poses absolutely fine and is very sturdy to boot. You can find some detailed pics of this here on the HT website, but I plan to do a review of the new Asian base body soon.

Accessories: **
Well, apart from his hat, which is really part of his outfit the only thing you get is a stand. It’s a nice stand, but that’s it. I’ve known since I ordered this it wouldn’t have any accessories, so there’s no argument from me. 

And what could you give him… OK, OK, a 650cc Triumph Thunderbird would have been nice, but here in the real world I’m happy just to have him in this basic form. 

A line up of classic Hollywood greats has been something I’ve coveted for a long while and at last someone has answered my prayers!

Outfit- ****
Like the James Dean figure from last month, this is an amazing outfit designed by Hai Lim. It was a much-favoured look of the fashionistas in the UK during the 80’s, (well, without the hat, as even in the 80’s that could be considered a little too ‘Village People’). Suffice to say, I had the ‘engineers boots’ (still wear that style to this day), the 50’s cut denims (red seam stitching and turn ups) and best of all the Schott, Perfecto leather jacket (I still have mine, but sadly the years have taken there toll and it no longer fits). So, what I’m saying is, these are all garments I know pretty intimately, (boy if that jacket could talk!).

When this movie was made there was no such thing as a ‘bikers’ jacket. Up until that time, bikers had looked to army and air force surplus supplies to provide garments that could keep them warm and more importantly protect them if they took a spill. So when they were trying out different outfits for Brando, it was decided nothing looked quite right for this edgy dangerous character, so Schott were called in. 

They had a long history of making fatigues for the military and US police force, and brought this expertise to bare when designing the first, edgy but functional civilian bikers jacket, and so a short time later the classic Schott Perfecto was born! 

A brief history of the company can be seen here and indeed you can still purchase this classic jacket from them here.

Hot Toys have pulled off a near perfect, scaled replica of the entire outfit. His boots and cap are moulded plastic but are expertly sculpted to look just like the screen worn garments; the jeans are again exceptional with working pockets and small metal rivets, a belt with stitched detail and lastly the jacket I described above. 

This thing is amazing, with tiny, scaled zips, small working press-studs on the collar (you’ll find a small instruction sheet about these, as care is needed when ‘un-popping’). The attached belt also has a metal effect buckle and metal eyelets and they’ve even attached a ribbon zip-pull that hangs from the front zipper. This could well be my 1/6 garment of the year, but having seen some detailed pics of the upcoming HT Joker outfit, it might be a tight call.

Now although this jacket ‘looks’ perfect, a few liberties were taken to make it look as cool as they could at this scale. The front zipper doesn’t actually undo completely to the bottom so as to make it lie flatter against his stomach, to remove the jacket you need to undo the belt then unzip two concealed zips on either side of the jacket, but unless you really need to, I’d advise leaving everything just how it is.

They have also omitted the stencilled BRMC with the skull and crossed pistons on the back and the name Johnny that was on the left hand side chest of the movie jacket, I’m sure this is to avoid any licensing issues, as this is officially ‘Marlon Brando, 1950’s version’, not ‘The Wild One’ version!

Fun factor- ****
I can only really base my score on how much ‘fun’ this has given me. 

Like I said about the Dean figure, these aren’t for everyone, it’s a small work of art aimed squarely at your hardcore 1/6 fans. 

But if you consider yourself in these ranks, and perhaps even more importantly if you’re a fan of Brando, this is one figure you will LOVE!

Value: ***1/2
Sideshow has him up for $129.99, that’s $15 more than Dean was, but I’d, put that squarely down to the work carried out on the jacket. Had the jacket not turned out as well as it had I might have deducted another ½ star, but it is exceptional so he level pegs in the value department with Dean.

Overall: ***3/4
I love this figure, I expected to like Dean more, but this has the edge. 

The price increase has kept him from that perfect score, had he come in at $115 it would’ve been top score no problem, but for me at least he still comes damn close.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpt - *** 4/5
Paint - ****
Articulation - ****
Accessories - **
Fun Factor - ****
Value - ***1/2
Overall - ***3/4

Where to Buy -
As I said above SST the official importer still has him on pre-order for $129.99 and a few of Michael’s sponsors also have him, many a good bit cheaper.

$129.99 - PRE ORDER

Dark Shadow
$117.00 – PRE ORDER

Alter Ego Comics
$116.99 – PRE ORDER

Or if you’re in the UK
Forbidden Planet
£89.99 - PRE ORDER

Or you can use Michaels sponsors or search ebay using MyAuctionLinks.


Figure from the collection of Jeff Parker.

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