Rango and Priscilla - 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."

Jeff joins us tonight with a look at another Johnny Depp character...sort of...take it away, Jeff!

It seems like a new 3D animated kids movie is hitting every few weeks these days, of course it goes without saying that some are better than others, and kids are famously not known for being that discerning. But when a movie kicks off with…
“We are gathered here today to immortalize in song, the life and untimely death of a great legend. So sit back, relax, and enjoy your low calorie popcorn and assorted confections, while we tell you the strange and bewildering tale of a hero who has yet to enter his own story.”

…Delivered by Señor Flan,  it was a big clue as to what kind of ‘irreverent’ story we were in for, one that certainly didn’t take itself too seriously and broke the fourth wall before it had even truly begun, I felt we were in safe hands. I have to admit that I became interested when I first heard that Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) were taking their first foray into the arena of fully animated feature films, not however interested enough to go and see it at the theatre when it was first released… shame on me!

But then last weekend my local flea-pit showed it as an early morning ‘kids club’ feature, so I guessed at £1 a head it would be rude not to take the family (what, me… cheap… NEVER!), and I am so glad we made the effort.
In a nutshell it’s a classic ‘Old West’ tale of desperate towns folk in need of salvation from the corrupt Mayor. Then who should stroll into town, but a lost chameleon by the name of Lars, and being a ‘chameleon’ (in every sense of the word) he is quick to adapt to his location. Almost instantly he takes the name Rango… becoming the fearless gunslinger who ‘killed them thar Jenkins brothers’, but his duplicity lands him in hot water faster than he could imagine!

It’s a movie that adults can enjoy just as much as kids, and there are plenty of in jokes and cinematic references along the way, any fans of ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ will enjoy the ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ cameo from Raoul and Dr Gonzo. But as entertaining as the story is here, the real spectacle is the jaw droppingly amazing animation. The concept artists and designers have gone for a relatively real world look, taking actual creatures and drawing out characters that are disturbingly lifelike, and in some cases more than a little grotesque. They have then set them in a beautifully realised ramshackle frontier town by the name of Dirt, where every side street and filthy ally has been beautifully realised. I have to admit, I was kind of blind sided by this movie and found it pretty immersive. This pack includes the titular hero Rango and the diminutive desert mouse Priscilla. A good choice of companion for Rango sure, but I think Beans the petit mal afflicted, desert Iguana might have made even more sense, as she played a bigger part in the movie and even supplied the lurve interest.

But back to the matter at hand, we’re here to look at Hot Toys latest offering, and it has to be said, if you are a fan of the movie, this is pretty much the ONLY thing out there worth having at this time. 

Packaging - ***1/2
Hot Toys vinyl figures are generally few and far between. To date we just have the ALIEN (big chap), Astro Boy, Carl and Russel from Up and now this set. So with the later three I guess you could say all the movies they come from share a common trait, in so much as they were all criminally underexposed when it came to toys and merchandise. After seeing Rango my youngest daughter wanted to see if we could find any action figures, but apart from some sad ‘happy meal’ type toys and a hideous plush that looks nothing like the character, the only other option is this set… and I’m afraid she aint getting her mitts on these.

Like all those other vinyl figures listed above, this comes in a nice sturdy corrugated cardboard box, full colour throughout with a large top-lifting flap on the front, held shut by Velcro. Under this flap is a window through which you can see both figures side by side with Rango’s hat. Inside they are wrapped in plastic then held in a vac-formed tray with no twisties at all. There is also a printed back drop showing a street scene of ‘Dirt’ the town in which our story unfolds, this can also be used as a background for your displayed figures.

Not one of Hot Toys most inventive of boxes, but it’s a solid bit of design using good quality images from the movie, so there’s very little to fault.

Sculpting - Rango ****, Priscilla ***1/2
Another on going trait for the vinyl releases from Hot Toys is the lack of production credits. Their 1/6th line is always hugely informative in this department but I have no idea who sculpted these. I did notice Arnie Kim used the Rango sculpt as his avatar on FB for a while, but that might just be because he liked it, in fact I think it was.

Anyway, regardless of who did them, we have a pair of very strong sculpts here, I posted a ton of pics of these up on my Face Book page (just look under Jeff Parker with a pic of the Medicom 60’s Andy Warhol as my avatar) and judging by the amount of PM’s and messages it generated, it seemed to appeal to as many ‘non-collectors’ as ‘collectors’, with many asking ‘where can I get these?

Of the two, Rango does stand out as the strongest, the detailing on his scaly skin, bobbly eyes and textured clothing is all supremely well observed. And the choice of pose is inspired, giving him the kind of cocky, louche appearance that the character exhibits in the movie. His hat is a separate piece, giving the choice of display options, but be warned, there is no peg or hidden magnet. All we have is gravity on our side, so be mindful to remove the hat when moving the figure around. I found some great reference shots of Rango that you can look over here if you want to compare the toy with the CG finished character.

Priscilla is sculpted in that cute face down but eyes up pose that we first see her in the movie, as she delivers the line “You're a stranger. Strangers don't last long here”. The sculpting here is again solid, especially when taking into account the scale, but the fine-tuning doesn’t seem quite as well executed as on Rango. The fur covering her snout is very fine in the movie, as you can see here and to be fair there is no way on Darwin’s Earth that hairs this fine could be sculpted in such a way as to be 100% convincing, but I have seen Hot Toys do finer and crisper work than is exhibited here. It’s still a fine piece of work and to the untrained eye looks most impressive, but to a hard-core anally retentive, cynical old hack of a reviewer it’s just not their finest work. However, what I’m hard on in one field I praise in another, and that is because of those cool eyes. I suppose this feature belongs under ‘paint’ as well, but it’s also a kind of stand-alone feature in its own right. Priscilla had huge luminous glassy eyes in the movie, and instead of trying to mimic this with a simple sculpted eyeball and a paint effect; they have instead inserted back painted (although I think it’s a mechanical transfer) golden translucent eyes. I hope that when they get round to finally doing the Na’vi characters from Avatar, they tackle them in a similar way, as this looks really cool. Her outfit, body and long tail are all modelled well, giving her, if not a thread bare look, then at least a thrift shop aesthetic, befitting of a resident of Dirt.

Paint - Rango ***3/4, Priscilla ***
One’s a lizard and one’s a rodent, if I was given the task to paint either a furry warm-blooded mammal or a scaly chameleon, I know which I’d choose!

Rango’s skin shows quite a bit of mottling and subtle variations in tone covering its entire surface, and his outfit is nicely weathered to have that real lived in look. He once again has the stronger finish out of the two, but that is partly down to the fact he’s a more visually interesting character anyway. Details like his six-shooter, gun belt and neck bandana are all picked out well for the scale, and the overall package comes together nicely.

Priscilla is far very from a bad job, but as with the sculpting category her physical appearance, with the downy fur growing up her nose is far tougher to get right. As such the fur on her head looks a little rough when compared to the subtleties of Rango’s skin. The rest of her body and outfit are carried out well, but not with quite the same high finish as her companion. I also noticed some of the division lines aren’t quite as crisp as we have come to expect from Hot Toys… other companies maybe, but for Hot Toys this is not the best example of what they are capable of.

Outfit - N/A
All scupted.

Articulation - N/A
Nope, nuttin, I hope you like the pose, cos it’s all you’re gunna git!

Accessories- N/A
Well, Rango does have his hat, but it’s kind of an intrinsic part of his whole look…

Fun Factor - **1/2
Too expensive for kids, no articulation and potentially fragile… well, in the wrong hands, so ‘fun’ doesn’t seem like the right word!

It almost feels wrong to be grading this set in this section, so if you are looking for actual toys, I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed (I should know, I’ve looked everywhere, and have a very miffed 7 year old daughter to prove it!). However, if you are a fan of the movie and would like a little representation for your desk or shelf, then these will definitely put a smile on your face.

Value for money - ***
The full RRP on these from Sideshow was $84.99 for the deluxe double set, or $54.99 for the Rango single figure. However there is an option from one of the sites sponsors below where you can make a slight saving of $5.

Being someone who is generally preoccupied by the world of 1/6th figures, I’m used to higher prices, but I’m also used to more articulation, accessories and a larger ‘object’, so vinyl always seems a little expensive to me. Had the double set cone in at nearer $50 to $60 then I’d personally feel a lot more content.

However, if vinyl is ‘yo thang’ then $85 probably seems like around the going rate, and if so you may feel more lenient than I did in this category.

Overall- ***1/2
Vinyl figures never come cheap, it’s a sad fact of life, so that is the only real reason keeping this set from a full score. If I graded them separately then maybe Rango would pull ahead a little, but as Priscilla is only available as part of this set, then I figured it better to judge it as an overall package.

The really big thing in this sets favour is that if you are a fan of the movie, it really is THE ONLY thing available worth having at the moment. Of course there is the rather fabulous book ‘The Ballad of Rango: The Art and Making of an Outlaw Film’, but if you want a little plastic fella for your shelf, this is the one!

Where to buy
Sideshow have sold out of the double figure set, but you can get on the wait-list and they have also sold out of the single Rango figure.

They are however in stock with-
Big Bad Toy store- $79.99

Fan Boy- $84.99

Or you can chance your arm over on eBay where the cheapest I’m seeing is $75 and the top whack is a hefty $125.

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This product was provided free for the review by the manufacturer. Photos and text by Jeff Parker.

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