Harry Potter - Cards Inc (Popco)
Wave 1

This is a long review.  I don't mean my usual long review - this is an amazingly long review, even by my standards.  I'm going to take a shot at covering the entire first wave of Harry Potter figures from Cards, Inc. (now known as Popco).  That's no small feat, since there are 15 figures being covered in one shot tonight.  Normally, I'd break this up into multiple reviews, but I decided to go hog wild with this one and bring them all to you at once.

Except it's not quite 'all'.  Tonight I'll look at: Harry, of course; Hermione; Ron; Neville; Draco; Fred and George (they come as a two pack); Bane and Magorian (again, a two pack); Dumbledore; Hagrid; Mad Eye Moody; Gwarp; and Luna with a Thestral.  That's 15 unique figures.

There is also a Cho Chang figure that comes with the Room of Requirement playset, but I still haven't gotten that yet.  There are also two Toys R Us (UK) exclusives, which is a set of Harry and Sirius with Kreacher, and several of the kids with a practice dummy.  I'm working on getting those as well.

But I've waited long enough on getting this review to you, so I'll cover those last three when I finally manage to snag them.  If it weren't for the kindness of a fellow UK collector, I'd be up a creek as it is.

Did I mention that?  Yes, these are all UK only distribution, and US collectors are going to have to be friendly with their British cousins if they want to snag some of these.

Packaging - ***
The packaging suffers from the tri-logo syndrome, where there can't be much text because everything has to be in three or four languages.  That's the price a toy company pays to be 'global', but Popco did what they could to still get some interesting info on the back.  You'll just need a magnifying glass to see it.

The figure is shown off pretty well with the rounded bubble, but they will be a tad difficult for MOCers to store (and probably increase the cost of getting them shipped in a box together from the UK).

Larger sets - like the two centaurs or Luna and the Thestral - come in boxes, which make the storage issue a bit better, and are slightly more collector friendly.

Sculpting - Draco, Dumbledore, Moody ***1/2; Hermione, Hagrid, Fred/George, Neville, Harry, Gwarp ***; Luna, Ron, Thestral, Bane, Magorian **1/2;
All the figures have mold lines and seams in obvious spots, a general problem with figures of this style.

Let's start with the three main characters, Harry, Ron and Hermione.  Harry was one of the few figures that slightly disappointed me.  He's not terrible, but he's a bit puffy.  He's easy enough to recognize, but his cheeks and neck look like he's gained 10 pounds in his face.  The body sculpt is good, and his hands can hold the wand pretty well.  He stands about 4 inches tall.

Ron suffers from one of the worst head sculpts of the bunch.  The hair is decent, and the body looks accurate (right down to the untucked shirt) but the face is pretty generic.  It's tough to see Ron in there if you pull off the red hair.  To add to the issues, his right hand sculpt has the most trouble hanging onto the dinky wand.  Ron stands just a hair over 4 inches tall.

Hermione has a very good head sculpt, although it's not quite as good as the NECA version. Still, you'll recognize her right away, and the detail on the hair is good.  The right hand sculpt works well with the wand, and she's scaled well at about 3 3/4 inches tall. But she has a cloth skirt, the only soft goods on the main characters (Luna has a similar skirt).  The thick material clashes a bit for me in terms of appearance, but some folks may prefer it.

The other kids are a very mixed bag.  Fred and George are twins of course, and they are surprisingly good.  Fred is smiling...I think...while George has a more serious face.  It's nice to see they didn't try to just pan off the exact same head sculpt with both.  In fact, they went with different arms as well, as Fred has his sleeves rolled up.  Or is it George?  Now I know why their mum has so much trouble.  They both stand about 4 1/4 inches tall.

Neville is a bit paunchy, but they were going for his slightly pudgy look in the recent film.  His head sculpt is recognizable, which is no easy task since he's not a character with an extremely discernable appearance.  He stand is a smidge over 4 1/4 inches tall. That makes him the tallest of the kids. Unfortunately, Neville is another one that has a bit of a tough time holding on to his wand.

Draco is one of my favorites, and he looks terrific holding his wand.  The head sculpt is clearly the older OOTP version of Draco, but it's another example where he's very recognizable even though the character doesn't have anything extreme about his face.  Draco stands about 4 1/8 inches tall.

The last kid is Luna, my new favorite character in the films.  I was perhaps most disappointed by her because she has become such a favorite to me.  The hair is fairly good, with that funky part, but the face is very generic, and not well supported by the paint ops. She's the smallest of the group at 3 1/2 inches tall.  She does hold her wand well though, even with her tiny hands.

Gwarp is huge, standing 10 1/2 inches tall.  Of course, he still isn't really in scale based on what we saw in the film, but he's a nice hefty size.  His head sculpt is good, especially the hair.  There's a bunch of patchy hair in back where it's been hacked, just like in the film.  His downside is his body, which has almost no definition to the musculature and no texture to the skin.  The head looks like specialty market, plopped on a very basic mass market body.

The Thestral sculpt is solid, although the neck joint is a rather unattractive if the head is all the way up. j Still, they captured the skeletal appearance well, and the wings made from cloth works a bit better than I had expected.  It's still not great if you're looking for realism, but this way the wings can be folded against his body.

The two body sculpts for the centaurs are almost identical, but they have slightly different heads.  There's some minor differences in the quiver, strap, and arm band, but it's slight.  Still, it's nice to see that like Fred and George, they didn't just dump a completely identical sculpt on us.  Neither of them look much like their movie counterparts to me though, and seem the least screen accurate of any of the characters.

Of the three adults, Hagrid is the most average.  Part of my issue is with scale, since he's only 5 inches tall, so that the kids come up to his shoulder.  The head sculpt is good though, and the detail work on his body is decent.

Dumbledore and Moody both sport top notch sculpts.  Dumbledore is strikingly screen accurate, and the glasses are properly scaled, a huge win in this scale. He's just over 4 1/2" tall. Moody does look a smidge thin in the face, but the scarring and floating are are well done, as is the detail work in the hair.  He comes in at 4 3/8".

None of these sculpts is God awful, but only about half are up to the same level as the current Hasbro Star Wars line.  I'm hoping that as they move forward, they all reach that level of quality.

Paint - Dumbledore, Moody, Neville, Fred/George ***1/2; Ron, Harry, Hermione, Hagrid, Draco, Thestral ***; Luna, Gwarp, Bane, Magorian **1/2
When it comes to the paint ops, it's important to remember that these are mass market toys.  These might feel like specialty market to the US collectors, but they are definitely mass market.

Harry has good ops though, even if he is mass market.  There's a little gloppiness around the skin tone, but most of the colors are clean with decent cuts.

Ron and Hermione are similar, at least in terms of the work on their face and hair.  But both suffer from arms that are clearly a different shade than their torsos.  It's not as obvious in photos, but in person it's quite clear.  This is usually due to different types of plastic absorbing the paint or dye differently.

Both have more issues with their small details too, like the tie stripes or the edging on the sweaters. Actually, all the kids are similar in this way, with having generally good, with issues with the arms and torso matching, and the small details around the ties and sweater edging.

Luna was really the only disappointment in the kids, again.  Her paint ops are supposed to imply her light complexion and hair, but she's practically albino here.  The paint work should have improved on the sculpt, but it didn't pull it off.

The adults have far more detail work than the kids, especially Dumbledore.  There's more color here, along with small details like buttons, rings, and buckles.  Hagrid even has some wash used over his coat and shirt to bring out the detail.

Gwarp has issues with the paint that are similar to the sculpt.  The paint work on the face is supposed to give him a very dirty appearance.  It works pretty well, although it's a little overdone.  The problem is though that the body is tremendously clean, without a spot on it.  In fact, the body is cast in the color it is, with a very basic wash to bring out the few sculpt details.  The extreme difference between the face and body is my biggest issue with this figure.

It seems to me that the colors and details on the centaurs were interesting and unique in the film...but maybe I'm just remembering them wrong.  These two here have almost no paint detail, with just their eyes, hooves, some areas of the quiver, and arm band that are painted. One of them also has the white spot on his forehead, but I'm not sure which is which by name. The bodies are cast in brown or black, leaving them the most plain of the entire series.

The Thestral doesn't have much in terms of paint either, but there's some silver highlighting to bring out the skeletal appearance.  It's not perfect, but it's not bad for a mass market figure.

Articulation - Harry, Ron, Draco, Fred/George, Neville, Thestral ***1/2; Luna, Hermione, Hagrid , Dumbledore, Moody, Bane, Magorian, Gwarp ***;
All the regular human figures have very similar articulation, but some of it works better on particular characters.

Ron, Harry, Hermione, Fred, George, Nevillie, Draco and Luna are all extremely similar.  They have a ball jointed neck, but it really only works as a cut joint, and for Luna and Hermione, the long hair removes even that movement.  They all have good ball jointed shoulders (jointed at the torso only), pin and peg elbows, ankles and knees (so they can turn as well as move forward and back), cut wrists, ball jointed hips (again only jointed at the torso), and cut waists.  Luna and Hermione lose the cut waist though, due to the cloth skirts.

Hagrid, Moody and Dumbledore share the same type of joint system, but their coats/cloaks tend to restrict some of the movement.  This is the least trouble with Moody, who has a very pliable rubber coat. It's the biggest problem for Dumbledore, who has two long robes, making any lower body movement pretty much impossible.  Hagrid falls in between, because his coat is a tad stiffer than Moody's.  Hagrid is also seems to be missing the waist joint, but Dumbledore and Moody both have it.  Like the girls, the hair and beard on Hagrid and Dumbledore pretty much make the neck joint useless.

Gwarp has a ball jointed neck, but the sculpt doesn't allow it to do much more than turn.  He has ball jointed shoulders (jointed only at the torso), pin and post elbows, ankles and knees, a cut waist and cut wrists, and a chest joint.  His hips are just a T joint, so that the legs move forward and back, but not out to the sides at all.  They are already positioned quite close together, which makes him appear a little awkward.

That leaves the hoofed creatures, the Thestral and the two centaurs.  Bane and Magorian have cut hips, pin knees and ankles, ball jointed necks (which work the best of the bunch), ball jointed shoulders, pin elbows, cut wrists, and a waist and chest joint.  Oh, and the tail moves forward and back.  Don't ask why.

That's a good number of joints, but these guys have the same issues that horses in this scale have always had (remember the ones that came with Indiana Jones, or Butch Cassidy?).  The legs are just too close together, especially down at the hoof.  Trying to get them to stay standing can be quite a trick.

Thestral has the cut hips, pin knees and pin ankles as well, and he has the same issue with his feet being too close together.  It really is an annoying problem.  However, he has some kick butt wings, with a ball joint at the body and two pin joints along the wing.  He also has pin joints on the neck at both the body and the head, a hinged jaw, and a bendy tail!  That much extra articulation gets him that extra half star.

All the figures stand pretty well, although some of them take a bit of playing around to get the center of gravity just right.  The joints allow for a reasonable number of poses, although they won't be doing anything too extreme.  Considering the characters, that isn't unreasonable.

Accessories - Gwarp Bupkis; everyone else *** 
As it says, Gwarp comes with zippo.  He's bigger than the rest of the figures though, so I'm not too surprised.  Still, something extra would have been a nice touch.

Everyone else has interesting if not plenty of accessories.  Every one of the kids and adults (with the exception of Hagrid of course) come with wands - in fact, Moody comes with a several wands taken from other wizards.  Several of the wands are unique, and perhaps they all are but the differences in some of them may be subtle enough to be difficult to see in this scale.  There are a few though that are clearly unique, and they match up pretty well with the screen versions.

Moody also has a broom contraction to ride, with a clear base to hold it above the ground.  This doesn't work as well in practice as it does in theory, but he can manage to sit on it in a rather awkward way.  It's one of those accessories I'll be leaving in a box.

Hagrid comes with just one accessory, Fang.  Much like with the NECA Hagrid and Fang, the scale on Fang is a bit small, but I can live with it.  The sculpt detail is good, but he lacks paint ops.  He's not articulated.

The three main kids - Harry, Ron and Hermione - all come with their patronus'.  Harry has his stag (with a small clear piece of plastic to hold him up), Ron has his dog, and Hermione has her otter.  These are very cool accessories, and a very smart move.  Ron and Hermione also come with a small chunk of patronus cloud stuff to attach to their wand, but unfortunately it's much too heavy.  It bends the thin wands down at an odd angle.

Harry has a better solution, as he comes with an extra hand, wand and cloud all made us as a single piece.  It still tends to wilt a little, but it's not as bad as Ron and Hermione's.

Neville has one of his plants, which makes complete sense.  This is his Mimbulus mimbletonia, the cactus like plant he keeps that was a present from his great uncle.  It's hollow rubber, and can be filled with water.  Squeeze it, and it squirts out of the plant.  It works pretty well, and is a very appropriate accessory.

Draco comes with a frame that can hold one of three proclamations.  These were placed on the walls under Umbridges direction.  The paper documents fit in the frame pretty well, and the three they choose generally make sense with Draco.

As I mentioned earlier, Luna comes with the Thestral, which makes him sort of her accessory.  Other than her wand, that's it.

Dumbledore comes with the podium, with the candles sculpted on either side.  These plastic used is a bit soft (you'll notice this in a few other places as well), but the detail work is still good.  You can reposition the candles as you'd like, especially with the hot water/cold water treatment.

Fred and George each have items related to their practical jokes.  George (or maybe Fred...) has three small boxes, while Fred (or maybe George) has a brief case with the 'Weasley and Weasley' imprint.  I thought they had a name for their store at this point, but perhaps that wasn't til book 6.

Bane and Magorian both come with a bow and one loose arrow.  The arrow can fit inside their sculpted on quiver with several other sculpted in place arrows.  The bow even has a string, although getting it to work with their hand sculpts (and no rubber bands) would be a trick.  That's not because they didn't give it a try though, and the hand sculpts are actually designed to be posed drawing the bow.

Action Feature - Bane, Magorian **; Thestral *; the rest Bupkis
The majority of the figures lack action features - thank God.  However, the three hoofed characters don't get off so lucky.

The centaurs have a button on their back that when pushed causes their front legs to sort of trot.  Yea, it's weak.  But not as weak as the Thestral's.

He (she?) also has a button on his back, that is supposed to make his wings flap.  It works poorly at best.

Fun Factor - ***1/2
These are toys first, collectibles second.  That's important to remember when judging them.  And as toys, they are quite fun.  They have solid articulation, decent sculpts and paint, and they work well together. 

Value - UK ***; US *1/2
If you're in the UK, these aren't too bad, running around 6 pounds for the basic figures.  There's even some sales already going on at some stores, making them even cheaper.

But if you're in the US, forgittaboutit.  You could easily drop $300 on the full set by the time you factor in shipping! 

Things to Watch Out For - 
Not much.  The wands are mighty tiny and easy to lose, and some of the joints on the Thestral and centaurs are soft enough to break without some care.  But otherwise, you should be good to go.

Overall - Dumbledore, Draco, Moody ***1/2; Harry, Ron, Hermione, Gwarp, Hagrid, Fred/George, Neville ***; Bane, Magorian, Luna, Thestral **1/2
This was a long review - if you made it this far, I'm impressed.  I've covered 15 figures in this review, with 37 photos and God knows how much text.  And yet I'm sure I've forgotten something, missed something, neglected something.  But hopefully you have a better appreciation for both the good and bad that this series can offer you.

This set doesn't have the same level of quality sculpts that we've seen with the NECA 7" line, especially in Snape and Hagrid (and hopefully the upcoming Dumbledore and Malfoy).  It also appears that NECA has improved their paint work, so the 7" line could turn out to be the definitive collector's series.

But these are much better for kids, no doubt about it.  They are simply better designed for play and fun, and with a much wider range of characters already released (and planned for release), along with the cool playsets, make them a terrific alternative for the younger set.

Some of the sculpts, like Dumbledore, rival the best work we've seen in other lines in this scale, including recent Hasbro Star Wars work.  Then other figures in the set are merely average.  If you're looking for a broad range of figures that work well together, it might be worth your time hunting these down.  Just remember that  warned you - they'll cost you quite a bit if you're outside the UK.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpt -  Draco, Dumbledore, Moody ***1/2; Hermione, Hagrid, Fred/George, Neville, Harry, Gwarp ***; Luna, Ron, Thestral, Bane, Magorian **1/2;
Paint - Dumbledore, Moody, Neville, Fred/George ***1/2; Ron, Harry, Hermione, Hagrid, Draco, Thestral ***; Luna, Gwarp, Bane, Magorian **1/2
Articulation - Harry, Ron, Draco, Fred/George, Neville ***1/2; Luna, Hermione, Hagrid , Dumbledore, Moody, Bane, Magorian, Gwarp ***;
Accessories - Gwarp Bupkis; everyone else *** 
Action Feature - Bane, Magorian **; Thestral *; the rest Bupkis
Fun Factor - ***1/2
Value -  UK ***; US *1/2
Overall - Dumbledore, Draco, Moody ***1/2; Harry, Ron, Hermione, Gwarp, Hagrid, Fred/George, Neville ***; Bane, Magorian, Luna, Thestral **1/2

Where to Buy -
- Forbidden Planet is one of the few UK stores that will ship these to the US.  But be prepared for some serious postage!

Related Links -
Let's look at some other Harry Potter reviews:

- if the US collectors want an alternative in this scale, check the small versions of the NECA OOTP figures, exclusive to Borders in a three pack right now.

- there was the guest review of the Tonner dolls.

- I also reviewed the first series of figures from NECA, along with the first series of OOTP, and the series 2 Snape released early at Borders.

- there's the other mini-busts, including Merperson mini-bust, Voldemort, Hagrid and Mad Eye Moody, Ron and Hermione, Snape and Dumbledore, Dobby and Dementor, and a guest review of Harry and Sirius.

- Gentle Giant also did a statue of the Hungarian Horntail, and the Riddle Grave.

- the Noble Collection has done some nifty wands.

- just case you forgot how bad some of Mattel's figures were, here's Extreme Quidditch Harry and Dueling Club Harry.

- and if you're looking for a slightly different Hagrid, don't forget the Mattel version!


Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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