Gentle Giant Harry Potter Busts
Harry Potter, light up Harry, Cho Chang,
Luna Lovegood, Draco Malfoy

A few years ago, there was almost no Harry Potter collectibles out there.  Certainly none that were high end.  And now?  They're growing on trees.

Some of the most popular are Gentle Giant's busts.  Collectors of these busts have had an expensive month, that's for sure.  Five busts have hit the shelf in the last month, and I thought I'd hit them all tonight.

First, there's the regularly released wave of year 5 Harry Potter, Draco Malfoy and Cho Chang.  These are available through most online stores, and some Suncoast and FYE stores are carrying them as well.  They produced 5000 of Harry, 2500 of Cho, and 2500 of Draco.

Then they figured they'd do a SDCC exclusive, of course.  They picked the unique (and now fairly important) character of Luna Lovegood.  They only did 1000 of these, which is probably going to be a big problem.  Not only is she a unique character, the actress playing here did a fantastic job in the new film, and the bust will likely be something a lot of Potter fans want.  With only 1000 produced, she may become one of the tougher ones to find.

Finally, they decided to do yet another exclusive, but this time it's just a variant on Harry.  The 'light up' version is exclusive to the FYE and Suncoast stores, and is a limited edition of 1000.  While that sounds far less offensive than the Luna exclusive, after reading my review you may not agree.

The light up version

The non-light up version

Packaging - ***
The boxes and baseball card COA's are about the same as always.  There's actual character photos on the boxes, along with the photos of the mini-busts, which is a plus.  Also, all of these have windows allowing you to see the head sculpts in advance.  The interior tray is made from a sturdy Styrofoam, and the design works well at protecting the bust.

Sculpting - Harry's, Draco ***; Luna **1/2; Cho *1/2
Let's start with a broad statement up front - I'm very disappointed in this set of five busts.  While they aren't technically a  'wave', coming out at the same time creates the impression they are, and the whole group is well below most of the previous HP waves in quality.

Cho is the worst afront.  The character Cho Chang (and the actress who plays her, Katie Leung) is a very attractive young lady.  I have no idea who this misshapen lump is supposed to be, but it's not Cho.

It's hard to show in photos, but her face is actually misshapen.   The left side is flatter than the right, which is rounder and fatter.  This can occur when they pull the bust from the mold of course, but if this bad of a problem is happening, something should have been done to correct it.

The eyes are set ridiculously wide on a very flat face, and this is one of the very worst sculpting jobs we've seen come out of GG, at least when it comes to their busts.

Harry is on the opposite end of the spectrum, but he still doesn't live up to the standards set by characters like Moody, Dumbledore or Snape.  The head sculpt isn't too bad, although the hair is a bit off.  Some of the facial features - lips, eyes, skin - lack detail though, looking a bit more like a mannequin than other releases.  I do like that the scar was sculpted though, rather than simply painted. They also managed to get the glasses pretty much in scale, although on the non-light up version they don't sit quite as straight.

My biggest issue with the Harry's is the thin arms.  Perhaps it's the way they sculpted the tight clothing on the arms (in contrast to the looser clothing on Draco, for example), and I don't expect him to be carrying big guns.  But from the elbow down, the arms look oddly long and thin, out of proportion with the rest of the body.

Draco is solid if not exceptional.  The face captures his OOTP look pretty well, although he wasn't a major player in the film.  There's something off about the hair for me, probably due to a lack of detail.  If you compare the work on Harry's hair or Luna's hair to Draco's, you'll see what I mean.

Which brings us to Luna, my other disappointment.  She's certainly not the abomination that Cho turned out to be, but because the character was so well done in OOTP, she's now one of my favorite in the Potter universe, and I would have liked to have gotten a better version in the busts.  The sculpt isn't too bad from a profile, and they did a nice job on the texturing of the sweater and the inclusion of the ring and earrings.  But from straight on, the face is extremely long and narrow, accentuated by the pose.

On the plus side, the necklace is a separate piece, with a rope tie around her neck.  It's something we generally don't see on the GG busts, and adds a little flare to the look.

Paint - Harry's ***1/2; Draco, Cho ***; Luna **1/2
The paint ops are generally good on this wave, with some exceptions on Luna.

Both Harry's are a smidge pasty, but let's face it - Harry is a white boy.  There could have been more of an effort at realism instead of just 'quality', which is something they should be considering.  For example, while the eyes are painted very cleanly, with no slop or error, adding a gloss finish to them would have improved the realistic nature.

Draco's hair color is about right, but without much in the way of highlights are washing, it blends together a bit too much and hides what detail is there.  Fortunately, Cho's paint work is better than her sculpt, with clean lines and cuts all around, and a fairly consistent skin tone.  The hands are a little lighter than the face, but not outside the reasonable.

Luna was my only real disappointment in this category.  It's largely around her eyelashes, which are painted on as thick lines on the upper and lower eye.  Instead of appearing natural, they leap out at you, especially with the light skin.

There's also a tad more slop here than on the other busts, especially around the spider ring, the shirt collar and where the sleeves meet the hands.  It's not atrocious, but the overall quality is a bit lower than the other four busts. 

Design - Light up Harry ***1/2; Draco ***; Cho, Luna, regular Harry **1/2
I've generally been pleased with the design of the HP mini-busts, which is another reason this wave was such a shock.

The light up Harry though is very nicely done.  I like the pose, although he never actually cradled the prophecy this way that I recall.  Still, it's a nice dynamic look that is close enough to the actual events of the film that it works for me.

The other big advantage to the light up version is the actual light up feature.  The prophecy did 'light up' with the swirling clouds inside, and the inclusion of this feature was brilliant.  Unfortunately, it was included with the variant, not the regular.  And while I like the feature, the only way it really looks good is from above, where you can actually see the light.  If you look straight on, Harry's hand pretty much hides the light entirely.

The lower score for the regular Harry is also because of the light up feature, or in this case, the lack of it.  The crystal ball is a muddy brown in the regular version, something I certainly don't remember it ever being in the film.  It's not an attractive look, and one that doesn't make a lot of sense to me.  Perhaps I'm forgetting a point where it was this nasty color, but that's probably for a good reason.

Draco also sports a nice dynamic fighting pose, although I could do without the claw he has for a left hand.  Still, pair him up across from the Harry, and you have a fairlly good looking set up.

Luna and Cho aren't awful, just uninspiring.  Cho needs to be smiling, not sour, and Luna appears to be impersonating a shocked Hunchback of Notre Dame.  I do like the inclusion of the paper though, and the earrings (as mentioned earlier) are a nice touch.  This outfit matches up with when they were going to the Ministry, so it's a good choice to fit in with the Harry.

Value - **1/2
While the quality isn't quite as up to snuff on the sculpts of a couple of these, the price is pretty consistent with the rest of the line and with other mini-bust lines.

Things to Watch Out For - 
Not too much.  Be careful with Harry's glasses, since they are tightly attached but any bumping could break them.

Overall - Light up Harry ***1/2; regular Harry ***, Draco Malfoy; Luna Lovegood **1/2; Cho Chang **
GG had better be careful these days.  They might think they're rock stars, but they're not - they're makers of pop culture collectibles.  And if the quality starts slipping on a line, their customers will turn away.

Cho is a fine example.  I don't know how she made it out of the factory, but she's completely unacceptable, especially for a regular release figure of this large of an edition size.  That brings up another odd point - why make Cho a regular release with such a large edition size, and then make Luna (a much more key character in OOTP) an SDCC exclusive with only 1000 produced?  Not a particularly good move, and there will be plenty of Cho's warming the shelves at retailers until they deep discount them.

Of course, in another odd move, they decided to make the light up Harry - the much better and more screen accurate version - the smaller run exclusive.  In most cases, an exclusive like this that is merely a variant of a regular release is for the completists only, and the rest of the world could skip it, remaining happy with the normal version.  But in this case, the normal version is inferior in appearance, making the lower run exclusive even more important and again leaving retailers holding the less desirable regular release.

GG has produced some beautiful busts in the Harry Potter line.  Of this entire set of five, only Harry and Draco rank up there with the most average of the previous releases (like Ron and Hermione), while Cho and Luna are both missteps.  Let's hope they can correct this situation before it slides too far out of control.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpt -  Harry's, Draco ***; Luna **1/2; Cho **
Paint - 
Design - Light up Harry ***1/2; Draco ***; Cho, Luna, regular Harry **1/2
Value -  **1/2
Overall - Light up Harry ***1/2; regular Harry ***, Draco Malfoy; Luna Lovegood **1/2; Cho Chang **

Where to Buy -
The FYE/Suncoast exclusive is going to be at those stores, or on ebay.  Luna was a SDCC 07 exclusive, so ebay is the way to go there too. To get the other three, you have several online options include:

- Fireside Collectibles has the excellent price of $40 each, and they have the next pair of Tonks and Bellatrix also on pre-order at that price.

- Dark Shadow still has Harry only at $42.

- Alter Ego carries them for $42.50.

- CornerStoreComics has the regular three at $43 each.

- Andrew's Toyz has them at $50 each.

Related Links -
It seems like I've had one HP review a week for awhile now!

- There are the 3 3/4" figures that are the UK exclusive from Cards Inc, or 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.  Also from NECA in this scale is the very cool Hagrid.

- 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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