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The Spirit by Hot Toys

Spirit and Octopus sixth scale action figures by 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."

I haven't seen the movie The Spirit, and I've had no interest in the figures by Hot Toys...until I read Jeff's review - take it away, Jeff!

As always, a big thank you to our host Michael Crawford.

OK, what could possibly go wrong here? We have a character created by Will Eisner, a man so well respected in the comic book industry there is even an award named after him. His creation The Spirit who had his first outing way back in 1940, was then taken by a host of big names Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons, Paul Chadwick, Neil Gaiman to name but a few, and given a new lease of life right through the 1990’s in comic book form.

Then Frank Miller, another giant name in the industry for his work on many classics like the seminal Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and Sin City gets involved. He writes a screenplay and is given directorial duties to bring the character to the silver screen with his own unique stamp on it. He had already collaborated with Zack Snyder in bringing the adaptation of 300 to the cinema, and was also credited as director alongside Robert Rodriguez on the stunning Sin City adaptation, where he cut his directorial teeth, and became familiar with the stylised green screen filming with digital backgrounds that were to be so prevalent in The Spirit as well.

The Movie had a large ensemble cast that included Samuel L Jackson, Eva Mendes and Scarlett Johansson (I’ll use any excuse to run that picture!), furthermore with a rumoured budget of 40 to 50 million and a press and multi media promotional package that could make George Lucas weep… what could possibly go wrong, no seriously…WHAT?

Well, here we are over six months after it’s theatrical release and it has still only just scrapped a worldwide gross of $39,031,337… so something went VERY wrong.
Miller seemed to piss off the fans that were familiar with the character, whilst simultaneously alienating those just expecting a good solid super hero romp.

And so, it unceremoniously crashed and burned. Could anything good come of it, could a phoenix rise from the ashes… well Hot Toys had decided to sign on the dotted line and take on the license, and we all know that when they do a license, they tend to do it proud, whether it deserves it or not!
Spirit and Octopus sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Spirit and Octopus sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys

Spirit and Octopus sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Spirit and Octopus sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Spirit and Octopus sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Spirit and Octopus sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Spirit and Octopus sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Spirit and Octopus sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Spirit and Octopus sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Spirit and Octopus sixth scale action figures by Hot ToysSpirit and Octopus sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Spirit and Octopus sixth scale action figures by Hot ToysSpirit and Octopus sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Spirit and Octopus sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Spirit and Octopus sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Spirit and Octopus sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Spirit and Octopus sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Spirit and Octopus sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Spirit and Octopus sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Spirit and Octopus sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys

So, for the uninitiated just who is the Spirit?
In a nutshell Denny Clot, a rookie cop is gunned down dead on the streets of Central City, he is mysteriously resurrected and takes on the guise of the supernatural Spirit. He’s given the blessing of police commissioner Dolan, his erstwhile father figure, to fight crime from the shadows, and become Central Cities guardian angel. To do so he must take on the forces of his arch nemesis The Octopus, a corrupt fascist, criminal mastermind intent on destroying Central City and it’s entire population in his quest for eternal life. See, it even sounds like it oughta’been good!

Packaging - ***1/2
By now it should be apparent to most, that Hot Toys really know packaging.

In the last year they have given us some of the most outstanding boxes ever to grace a 1/6th figure.
Now, these aren’t quite up there with the IRONMAN or Godfather boxes, but they still manage to capture the spirit of the movie… ha, d’ya see what I did there… try the veal, I’m here all week!

So we have strong, high contrast black and white images of the relevant characters on the front of the matt finished sleeves, these have spot gloss laminated features like logos and details whilst the back has full colour images of the figures. These slide off to reveal the usual 5 panel flap fronted boxes, the palette is primarily black and white again with flashes of bright red. Within the boxes lie the figures in vac formed trays, held secure by 5 twisters each.

Sculpting - The Spirit *** The Octopus ****
I freely admit I’m not that familiar with Gabriel Macht, and sadly, after the performance of this movie I probably never will be. Obviously this isn’t his fault, but they always say you’re only as good as your last job. Samuel L Jackson on the other hand is every body’s favourite badass, even when he’s in a bad film (and lets face it, he often is), you can always say ‘hey, at least Sam Jackson's in the movie!’

And it’s testament to Yulli’s amazing sculpt of Jackson, that the masses want this figure to bash into everyone from Mace Windu and Shaft, to Jules Winnfield and Nick Fury, you name it, basically any character he’s played… other than The Octopus!

It really is a beautiful piece of work. It captures that stare he has, that lets you know not to mess with him unless you want a whole can of it opened up. The shape of his mouth and nose are spot on, these seem to have been the parts that have so eluded everyone else who’s had a crack at him. That’s not to say the eyes aren’t expertly done, because they are and the skin texture is once again applied with just the right amount of emphasis for this scale. Which is lucky as the Octopus is a bald as the proverbial coot, so there’s a lot of skin texture to look at! The only problem I can see is that although this has an expertly sculpted goatee beard, only Shaft ever sported a beard, so if you want to make a Mace Windu out of this you’re gonna need some impressive skills to take it off (unless you decide to do ‘Mace- The Wilderness years’), and whoever you decide to make him into, you have those eyebrows and facial tattoos to contend with! 

He only comes with one pair of gloved hands in a gun grip position, but they are a very specific design. In the original comic strips the Octopus never exposed his face, it was always in shadow, all that you ever saw were those sinister gauntlets with their distinctive three stripes so at least the Octopus keeps his original glove design, even if he is less shy about showing his face in the movie!

Jung Mi Kim sculpts the Spirit’s head here, she may already be familiar to you for her work on the cowled Batman heads from TDK and the up coming Albert Wesker from Resident Evil 5, so it’s evident that she is quite a talent. Macht as a subject appears to be quite the ‘pretty boy’, meaning that although he may be easy on the eye for the laydeez he doesn’t exactly have any strong facial characteristics. Sure, he’s chiselled and handsome but that don’t always add up to an interesting sculpt. However, this is still a very convincing piece of work, and I can see the resemblance is close to spot on, there’s almost something of a young Tony Curtis in there as well. He’s been given a distinctive pout that is evident in the central pictures I used in my link. So as far as likeness goes then Jung has done a fine job, though it does look like the actor has a slightly squarer jaw-line, but it’s hard to tell as the movie is shot with such extremes of light and dark. 

Even the hair looks convincing in its simple brushed back style, considering it had to be done in such a way that it could fit under the hat it works well. 

I was hoping the domino mask might be magnetic so it could be removed, but alas it’s permanently attached, however the crisp edges it has are so well cast and then painted you’ll be hard pressed to realise that at first, his ears show a good shape, but could do with just a little more depth and crispness to the detail. He also comes with two alternate fisted hands in his distinctive black gloves. So although this character doesn’t have the impact or WOW factor of the Octopus, it’s still a very solid piece of work.

Now I just want to get my mitts on that Silken Floss figure and I can’t think why?

Paint - The Spirit *** The Octopus ****
By recent standards these figures are a veritable cakewalk for Hot Toys!

The standout of the two is once again The Octopus, JC Hong exercises his expertise to show just how good production paint apps can be. I find myself wondering if this might be considered something of a calling card with the Lucas licensing people, it certainly shows that if the Star Wars licence was to come up in the Asian markets they could do an amazing job of bringing the characters from his universe to very lifelike life!

Everything about this paint app works. The base plastic used for the head has just the right degree of translucence to look flesh like, and the subtle airbrushed paint work on darker tones around his eyes and chin are just perfect. Then the fine details on the eyes, eyebrows, facial tattoos and beard are all sharp, distinct and totally faithful to the character as seen on screen, I can find absolutely nothing to fault!

The Spirit sadly doesn’t come off quite so well. There is actually nothing essentially wrong with the paint work per se. All the division lines are clean, the colours are subtle and it looks good on the whole. The problem seems to lie in base plastic used on the head. Whereas the translucence worked on the Octopus head, here it ends up looking a little flat in some lights, and the flesh tones a little basic. The strange thing is I still find myself really liking this figure far more than I thought I would, I think it’s his simplicity that has me hooked, and even though the classic comic character wore a blue outfit, there’s no denying this figure still looks very chic and iconic on the shelf. So, as I sad a solid paint job, but it just lacks a certain ‘Je ne sais pas!”

Articulation  - The Spirit **** The Octopus ***1/2
There really is very little to say here that hasn’t been said or written a hundred times before, both come on the True Type body, and as they are both wearing outfits that are primarily cloth you will get just about any pose to want.

Both wear gloves that overlap the wrists, plus The Octopus is wearing a wide belt and some heavy duty boots that are available to wear in the real world should should you choose. It’d be my guess they might render your ankle about as positionable as the 1/6th sculpted ones here. So all in all this is about as good as it gets till someone can give us a better-articulated body that also happens to be mighty durable!

Outfit - ****
I’ve said before, never mistake a simple outfit in the real world for one that will be simple to duplicate in 1/6th. It’s often things like civilian wear, that we are used to seeing each and every day that are the hardest to translate into scaled miniatures!

Here the Spirit wears black converse hi-tops, black slacks with a silver buckled black belt, a black shirt, a black trench coat, a black fedora and lastly a bright red tie. All these garments fit perfectly and the pockets on the slacks and shirt are working, but it’s the detail on that coat that makes this really stand out. The pockets aren’t working as they are buttoned closed, so as not to spoil the line of its flow, they went for less bulk. But every other detail from the double yoke over the back and right chest, right down to the metallic D-rings hanging from his belt, are all fully realised. It even has wire running through its edges, as does the red tie for those ‘flapping in the wind’ poses. His hat is like the ones that came with the recent Godfather and Michael Jackson figures so it’s very thin plastic material that is then flocked, it works well and the scale looks pretty convincing. I’m hot sure how well the flocked look works for this character, the proto shots showed it as being painted, which might have worked slightly better here. This is definitely a case where a relatively simple outfit HAS been done exceptionally well. I’d say the tailoring is the strongest part of this figure.

The Octopus’ idea of sartorial elegance is far more eccentric, but just as impressively carried out. He comes wearing a hefty pair of New-Rock boots, leather trousers with pleat details on the knees and working pockets, a wide cummerbund style belt that it covered in gizmo’s, a red polo necked shirt with a mauve cravat worn over the top, this also has an ornate tie pin to hold it in place. Then there’s the coat, unlike the Spirits, this is not understated, in fact it is totally pimped to the max! What we have is a mauve and silver brocade style frock coat with fur trim and large ornate silver ‘working’ clasps, the large collar can me turned up, and there is a matching Russian style fur hat as well.

Needless to say Sam Jackson… sorry, the Octopus looks totally at home in this outfit, and even if you’re not a big fan of the movie (but hey, who is?) this makes onehellova a cool display figure!

Accessories - The Spirit **1/2 The Octopus ****
These guys are like chalk and cheese when it comes to accessories, in fact the one impressive accessory the Spirit comes with is actually for the Octopus!

You can find out everything, and I mean EVERYTHING you could need to know about the Octopus’ arsenal here but it’s pretty obvious this guy likes his guns, and being the Octopus he likes everything in eights. He has eight tentacled tears tattooed under his eyes, eight assault rifles strapped together and even his matching shotguns have a combined eight barrels.

His full haul is-
- A Hat (part of the outfit really, but packed loose in the box)
- A combination of assault rifle/shotgun with removable shells and magazines (the other one comes with The Spirit figure)
- Two, four-barreled shotguns
- Two Customized Revolvers
- 12-inch figure stand with The Octopus nameplate

The combination assault weapon is so gloriously over the top it’s amazing. It is quite literally a cluster of firearms welded and strapped together with suppressors, sights and shotgun cartridges stuck all over the place. He then has the two four barreled shotguns, as pictured in the last link, both of these can flip open, and lastly he has a brace of customized Smith & Wesson revolvers, and it has to be said, as impressive as all those big weapons are, it’s the two revolvers that look the coolest, to me at least!

The Spirit on the other hand comes with one combination assault weapon, but as I said he’s packing it for the Octopus. All he has for his own personal use is the hat (I’ve already gone over this) the figure-stand (I never use these) and a tiny pair of hand cuffs, these are nicely observed and can open and shut with a small real chain holding them together. 

So I guess at the end of the day you have to respect a guy who can pack light, but not when you’re giving marks for accessories.

Fun Factor -  ***
As a movie it’s hard to get excited about The Spirit, it came, it sat there for a while, it fizzled away without much ceremony and then it disappeared. However, the Hot Toys figures on the other hand are really quite impressive, hell they could do figures of The Golden Girls and I’d probably want them. As it is I’m chomping at the bit to get hold of their Goemon figures, and I know virtually nothing about the movie or the folk tale. 

As far as fun goes, I like these a lot and they’re great to pose and play around with, so had the movie been a quality blockbuster you just know you wouldn’t be able to get these for love nor money… as it is, it wasn’t and you can get them relatively easily… ain’t life a double edged sword!

Value - The Spirit **1/2 The Octopus ***1/2
You should have been able to pick both of these up for around $130 each on pre-order, so that what I’ve based my price on.

I’ve noticed the Octopus is already creeping up in value thanks mostly to his ‘bash’ potential, whilst in the wake of the films poor performance the Spirit figure seems to be getting a little cheaper.

So for $130, when buying the Octopus, you’re getting a cracking sculpt of a much-loved actor in a very groovy outfit with some very cool and unique accessories. But when you buy the Spirit for the same price you’re getting a solid sculpt of a virtually unknown actor with someone else’s weapon and a tiny pair of handcuffs for an accessory. That is a little unfair though, because as I said the Spirits outfit is beautifully crafted, but is an outfit enough for the price of admission, I’ll let you decide!

Overall - The Spirit *** The Octopus ****
I’m really happy with both of these figures, but the Octopus definitely has edge, he’s packing that cool outfit, an impressive bunch of unique guns and a spookily good likeness (dare I say, this might be my sculpt of the year, even though we’ve had the battle of the Godfathers). The Spirit, as I’ve already gone over suffers from being a virtually unknown actor with a very light accessory haul (especially when you consider one of his accessories is for another figure). However, they both look very cool when posed side by side… though I have to admit I have my Spirit in a crouching pose on top of a mirror in my dining room, coat and tie flapping in the wind looking down… kind of like a Batman-lite!

Scoring Recap:
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpting - The Spirit *** The Octopus ****
Paint - The Spirit *** The Octopus ****
Articulation - The Spirit **** The Octopus ***1/2
Accessories - The Spirit **1/2 The Octopus ****
Outfit - ****
Fun Factor - ***
Value - The Spirit **1/2 The Octopus ***1/2
Overall - The Spirit *** The Octopus ****

Where to Buy -
OK, I know the film tanked, but it still surprised me that I can hardly find these in stock anywhere!

Which leads me to believe these may have been manufactured in numbers to match pre-orders, so I’d also guess these might be pretty thin on the ground. If… just if this movie does ever garner a cult status, expect to pay a lot more further down the line, and if it doesn’t, expect people to be giving them away.

On eBay The Octopus seems to be demanding from $135 to $190 while The Spirit is $115 to $135. The only one available from Michaels sponsor was Forbidden Planet, The Octopus- 129.99 pre-order

So other than that, it’s time to hit eBay.
Spirit and Octopus sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Spirit and Octopus sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Spirit and Octopus sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Spirit and Octopus sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Spirit and Octopus sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Spirit and Octopus sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Spirit and Octopus sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys

Spirit and Octopus sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys
Spirit and Octopus sixth scale action figures by Hot Toys


Figures from the collection of Jeff Parker

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