Ladder 49
Captain Kennedy

Plan-B Toys is a company on the verge.  They've been there for awhile now, so it's nice to see that they might finally get to make the big step.  All they've really needed was the perfect license to showcase their talents, and Ladder 49 could very well be it.

Ladder 49 is a current Backdraft without the criminal element.  Starring John Travolta, a man searching for his fourth comeback, and Joaquin Phoenix, the Hollywood darling of the moment, the film revolves around a firefighter trapped in a deadly blaze.  Early buzz is good, and the film looks at least fairly accurate.

Plan-B has been well know for their rescue based lines, as well as their military lines.  This license was really a no brainer for them, although it's really the first time they are doing actual actor likenesses.

There are four figures in the assortment: 2 versions of Mike Kennedy (John Travolta) - captain and chief, Lenny Richter (Robert Patrick), and Jack Morrison (Joaquin Phoenix).  These should show up at several on-line retailers and comic shops, and run about $10 - 12.

Packaging - ***1/2
The packaging is nicely done, very sturdy, with terrific graphics and a reasonable amount of text on the characters. It also shows the rest of the line on the back, and includes the tagline from the film "A bond forged by fire is never broken". I really like the graphic of the textured steel for the card back, the type used for industrial floors and steps (found on fire trucks!). That stuff has a name, but I can't remember what it is...

The guys from Plan-B also let me know that the final package will actually look a little different than this, with some added color to the "Ladder 49" logo to make it pop a bit more.

Sculpting - ****
Both the head sculpts and the body sculpts on this line look fantastic. Looking for a older Travolta head for kit bashing or customizing? Than look no further!

Unfortunately, unlike most other Plan-B figures, the heads (and hands) aren't intended for removal, but you can do it if you set your mind to it. This is the dimpled but slightly pudgier look we've come to expect from Travolta, now in his middle years. He looks particularly good with the helmet on, and you can see in the photos the striking resemblance between the figure and the movie photo on the front of the package. Without the helmet, he seems a little too happy, or perhaps the head is just a scosh too small - either way, he looks best wearing the gear.

EDIT - I lied.  The head IS removable, and you can swap it on to any of the other Plan-B toys.

The body sculpt has excellent detail, similar to what we've come to expect from Plan-B's other lines. All the small details are sculpted, and they've also managed to hide most of the articulation. There's plenty of tiny buckles, gauges, and pouches, all adding to the realism.

Scale is such that he'll be able to fit in with most other 6 - 7" lines. Now that we have the Thomas Jane version of the Punisher in Marvel Legends 6, you can customize your very own Howard Saint!

Paint - ***
If this figure had one flaw, it was in the paint ops. Now, it's possible that I got a bad one, or that this early run of figures (the regular run won't be hitting for at least a couple more weeks), but I did have some slop on the hair and face.

Some of the brown from the hair has found it's way down on to his forehead, marring the otherwise excellent head sculpt. The paint might also be from the wash, which is well used on the body and face to highlight the detail work, and give the impression of dirt and soot.

The rest of the paint ops are great, including the small detail work on the eyes, buckles and boots. He looks dirty where he should be dirty, scuffed where he should be scuffed, but still realistic. They managed to get the right amount of 'dirty' paint, not over done but not too light either.

Articulation - ***1/2
All Plan-B Toys are well articulated, so this should come as no surprise. There's neck, ball jointed shoulders, cut biceps, elbows, wrists, waist, ball jointed hips, knees and ankles. Most of these joints are well hidden, and all have a good range of motion. He stands great on his own, and can hold any number of firefighting poses.

Accessories - ***1/2
Kennedy comes with 5 accessories, quite a few for a figure this size, but not surprising considering how much stuff a firefighter could have.

There's his hat, which fits extremely well, and his oxygen mask (SCBA mask), which doesn't fit quite as well. Oh, it works okay, but it's large enough to have a little trouble fitting around his jacket below his chin. It has an elastic strap to hold it in place, and it looks good once you get it in just the right spot. It does have a slightly weird feature though - there's a hose that should run to his tank, and it appears as though it was originally glued to a spot on his left shoulder strap. It looks as though this is true in the photos of the figures on the card back as well, but if this was once true, it is no longer. The hose just hangs in the air, although you could glue it to the spot if you so desired.

Also in his bag of goodies are a fire axe, fire hose, and 'gun' nozzle for the hose. The hose attaches to the nozzle pretty easily, and because the hands are well sculpted, they can hold the accessories just fine.

The SCBA tank does not come off his back, at least not easily. But it's weight doesn't throw off the figures center of gravity, and he can still stand fine while wearing it in any number of poses.

Fun Factor - ****
Who'd have thunk it - licensed action figures that are great to look at AND fun to play with. If you're kids love the whole fire fighter/police theme, than these will be perfect for them. Because of their scale, they can also fit in with most other current superhero lines like Batman, Marvel Legends and Spider-man, and they also go perfectly with other Plan-B rescue figures from their Special Forces line. You can always pick up a few more generic fire fighters, paramedics and police officers to back Captain Kennedy up!

Value - **1/2
I'm grading these at the suggested retail of $12. That seems pretty average, and while you won't feel ripped off, you might find it tough to cough up the dough for all four figures.

However, on-line retailers might have these cheaper, and I have a suggestion below for Killer Toys, who's selling them for just $10 each. At that price you can add another half star to this category without question.

Overall - ***1/2
This is a terrific line, and might be just what Plan-B needs to get bigger licenses going forward. The only thing holding this back from a four star rating - something I've given very few of this year - is the paint ops on my figure. If you're careful picking yours out (or mine turns out to be a fluke), then these are really worth the four stars.

I'm hoping the Phoenix and Patrick sculpts turned out as well as Travolta's did. It's nice to see Plan-B working on something that fits in so well with their generic lines, and perhaps those figures will also get a pick up due to this license. If your kids are into playing with real heroes, or you know one personally, then you can't go wrong picking up some of these figures for them.

Where to Buy - 
I picked up mine directly from Plan-B at SDCC, and I'm betting they have them at Wizard World Chicago in a couple weeks as well. On-line options include:

- Plan-B will be selling them direct from their own store website very soon. 

- Qwiksand Collectibles (formerly Krypton Collectibles) will have them in stock next week!

- Killer Toys has them up for pre-order for the low price of just $10 each.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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