SEARCH REVIEWS    LIVING WITH LATE FEES    FEATURES    LINKS    BIO    MISSION    EMAIL    MAIN PAGE >


Planet of the Apes Gorilla Soldier
Hot Toys

Planet of the Apes Gorilla Soldier sixth scale action figure by Hot Toys

I've always loved the original Planet of the Apes film, and most...most...of the ensuing sequels. Rather than a fantasy movie dressed up like sci-fi, it was true science fiction, with a stellar cast and exceptional screenplay co-written by Rod Serling, adapted from the Pierre Boulle novel.

While it might seem to the modern collector that there isn't a whole lot of POTA goodies out there, that certainly wasn't the case back in the early 70's. One of the several ground breaking features of the franchise was the fact that it was exactly that - a franchise. They produced lunch boxes and action figures and bed sheets and models and on and on, a decade before Star Wars would do something similar. These films were the first mega marketing movie series, and little kids everywhere could get their fill of Apey goodness.

In recent years, we've gotten a number of high end collectibles. The best sixth scale series is from Sideshow, produced about six years ago. The series had a very wide character selection, even including the likes of Brent and Nova. While they aren't quite up to today's standards, the line was extremely nice for the time.

Hot Toys picked up the license, and has just released several ape characters. There's General Ursus, the Gorilla Captain, and a Gorilla Soldier, who I'm looking at tonight. The other two will be reviewed soon. You can pick these guys up for as little as $110 or so, depending on the retailer.

Fans of the original film can only hope that Hot Toys gives us at least a Taylor and a Cornelius before they walk away from the license. Without them, these three soldiers are going to be some lonely little monkeys.
Planet of the Apes Gorilla Soldier sixth scale action figure by Hot Toys
Planet of the Apes Gorilla Soldier sixth scale action figure by Hot Toys
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Planet of the Apes Gorilla Soldier sixth scale action figure by Hot Toys
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Planet of the Apes Gorilla Soldier sixth scale action figure by Hot Toys
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Planet of the Apes Gorilla Soldier sixth scale action figure by Hot Toys
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Planet of the Apes Gorilla Soldier sixth scale action figure by Hot Toys
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Planet of the Apes Gorilla Soldier sixth scale action figure by Hot Toys
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Planet of the Apes Gorilla Soldier sixth scale action figure by Hot Toys
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Planet of the Apes Gorilla Soldier sixth scale action figure by Hot Toys

Packaging - ****
I currently love most of the packaging that Hot Toys produces, and this series is going to be one of my favorites. The aged look of the exterior sleeve is a perfect choice for the license, and they've included all the usual great graphics and text on the interior box. There's no twisties, bands or other ties on the inside, making it completely collector friendly.

Sculpting - ****

The prosthetic makeup developed by the famous John Chambers to simulate the various ape species was truly ground breaking. In fact, I've always felt that it was one of those rare exceptions where it was so good, it simply can't be improved upon, much like the Creature from the Black Lagoon. I think the Burton remake just proves the point.

The beauty of the make up wasn't that it looked like a perfectly real chimp. The film is set a thousand years in our future, and apes have evolved into intelligent beings. With that evolution would come changes to their physiology, subtle perhaps but still noticeable. The makeup in the 1968 film gave us a primate that looked like a smarter version of the modern day monkey, which is what makes it so successful.

The Hot Toys sculpt is their usual exceptional work, with lots of detailed wrinkles and texture, very lifelike eyes, and an perfect expression for a multitude of poses.

In fact, the HT sculpt is *almost* TOO good. While the make up was industry altering good, it wasn't quite as detailed as what we see here. I'm not complaining though, and I would love to see them tackle the more unique Cornelius, Zira or Zauis with this same level of detail.

I wasn't too sure about the 'real' hair concept. It still doesn't do a whole lot for me in close up photos, but in person it really does look stupendous. It looks a little poofy on top in photos, but that's the result of two issues. First, the underlying head sculpt is really that big. Push on the top of the hair, and the head is right there. Second, the low hairline on the gorilla's means there's not much of a forehead. Without it, the hair looks taller, although it's not really any higher than it should be. Ursus is going to be the obvious stand out in this set of three, due in part to the fact that the helmet takes away this poofy appearance.

The hair is very easy to work with and keep smooth, although only time will tell how it holds up. The bandoleer tends to mess up the hair around the left shoulder and face, pushing it up under the chin. But with a little effort you can pull it back down and get it looking just right. A nice side effect of the soft hair over sculpted hair is that it doesn't restrict the neck articulation in any way, a big plus for posing the monkey.

BTW, you might notice what looks like small white flecks or dust in the hair in the close up photos. I don't think this is the case, as in person the hair is solid black. However, I think that in brighter light it can catch reflections of the small strands, creating the appearance of flecks. If he does have a dandruff problem, I sure couldn't see it in person.

Paint - ****
There's not much paint here, but the small details like the eyes and teeth are extremely clean, even in close up photos. There's no bleed, no painted catch lights (any reflections you see in the eyes are natural), and the teeth are well defined in the mouth.

I do have to admit that the pupil of the left eye looks slightly - and I really mean slightly - larger than the right. You'll only notice it in close ups, and only at certain angles, so I'm not deducting for it.

There's some paint work on the bandoleer to show wear, and the work on the faux wood pieces is nicely done. While there might not be dozens of paint ops, at least the ones that are included are just about perfect.

Articulation - ***1/2
The TrueType body is just as great as ever. The neck articulation comes in particularly important with this figure, since he'll need to be hunched a bit in most poses, and the neck allows him to still look straight ahead. As I mentioned earlier, the soft hair really helps here.

This isn't a standard TrueType body. The torso has been altered, with the chest lower on the body than normal.  It gives the ape body a more accurate appearance, and shows the level of trouble HT is willing to go to, just to get things right.

My only complaint with the body is the damn wrist pegs. The hands do not come with their own pegs, so you have to swap the hands using the very, very small post that fits into the hand itself. The short wrist pegs also cause the gloves to greatly restrict the wrist articulation. Hot Toys really needs to look at improvements in this area.

Accessories - ***
There's a very good assortment of key accessories here, with a couple surprising issues.

He comes with the rifle with rough wooden stock, the man catcher, the unique key for Taylor's cell, his trademark club, a backpack, and three extra hands.

The hands he comes wearing are in a relaxed, open pose. He comes with an additional right hand designed specifically to hold the oddly shaped rifle stock, a second gripping right hand, and a gripping left hand sculpted in a very particular pose, perfect for the man catcher or key.

The hands swap easily enough, too easily in fact, and I already complained about the small short wrist pegs. Unfortunately, the most important hand - the one to grip the stock - does not work as well as you'd expect. I had a hard time keeping the gun in his hand in most poses, and this was an oversight I don't expect from HT.

The other gripping right hand isn't particularly useful, either. It's clearly designed to hold a pistol, which this figure doesn't have. Ursus and the Captain will both have guns that work with this hand, but it's not as useful for this ape.

Speaking of guns, my other big issue that pulled this score down is with the rifle. I love the sculpt, and the shoulder strap is very sturdy. There's even a spring action to the bolt! However, the clip does not stay in the gun, dropping out with the slightest touch. Again, this is not something I'd expect from HT, and I've never had this issue with one of their guns before.

The key and the club are pretty much what you'd expect, and he can hold either one well, or snap them on the end of the bandoleer.

The backpack is filled with a foam rectangle, which can be removed if you'd like. There's a snap closure on the center strap of the top, but to ensure that it stays wrapped around the contents tightly and maintains its smooth lines, there's also a thin strip of velcro along the inside top edge. It's the perfect accessory for your ape planning a trip through the Forbidden Zone!

Finally, there's the man catcher. The plastic rod is sculpted to look like rough hewn wood, with a leather wrapped rope that can be extended to create a snare. By pulling back on the lower end, the snare tightens around the man's neck, entrapping him. It works smoothly, and will look great encircling the neck of Sideshow's Brent or Taylor figure. That is until we get a replacement from Hot Toys - please!

Oh, and before I forget - yes, there's the usual display stand with the POTA emblem emblazoned on the bottom. It's not necessary, but for those that like to use them, it's an important inclusion.

Outfit - ****
The outfit consists of the boots, pants, tunic, pleather vest, wrist bands, and bandoleer.

While the entire outfit is quite nice, it's the boots that blew me away. The boot design looks terrific, with sculpted buckles down the side and the split toe up front. Because they knew that most ape poses would have the legs wide and the knees bent, they didn't simply sculpt straight uppers on the boots. Instead, they are curved slightly, matching the normal monkey stance and allowing the feet to stay closer to flat on the floor when spread wide.

The bandoleer is pretty damn cool too. It's a tad stiff, which can make it lay funny in certain poses. But the small pleather pouches on the front can be removed and fully opened! They are held closed with very small, thin velcro. The hook on the end of the bandoleer works great with either the club or the key.

The pants, shirt and pleather vest have a red tinge to them, matching the standard soldier costume in the film.  The vest is held closed with velcro again, and the pleater wrist guards fit very tightly.

Overall, it's a great looking costume, and really has me looking forward to what we'll get with the more complex Ursus and Gorilla Captain.

Fun Factor - ***1/2
The hair might not hold up to much abuse, but the rest of the figure is the usual top notch HT quality. This is a company that recognizes the roots of sixth scale action figures - as toys first, collectibles second. They've managed to keep that nostalgic wonder in all their top of the line figures. 

Value - **1/2
As the prices of high end sixth scale figures from other companies rise, somehow Hot Toys manages to bring them down. Rather than the expected $150, these won't run more than $125 tops, and I bet you can find them closer to $110. At that price, you're certainly getting what you pay for.

Things To Watch Out For
I hate these damn little wrist pegs, and I kept thinking I was going to snap one. I've broken so many of the wrist pegs in Hot Toys figures that I should just have them send me boxes of them for future use. The tiny pegs that go into the hand are the most susceptible to damage on this figure - take care!

Overall - ***1/2
If I didn't have the minor issues with the wrist pegs, loose clip in the rifle, and the improper fit of the specialized rifle grip right hand, this guy would get a full four stars.

I'd really love it if Hot Toys would give us Taylor, Cornelius, Zira and Zauis. Those four figures, combined with these three, would give you a fantastic overall POTA display.  I'm afraid that these won't sell well enough to convince Hot Toys to continue, particularly with all the new licenses they've been picking up, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Even if these are the only three they produce, they'll greatly improve my current sixth scale Apes display.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ****
Sculpting - ****
Paint - ****
Articulation - ***1/2
Accessories - ***
Outfit - ****
Fun Factor - ***1/2
Value - **1/2
Overall - ***1/2

Where to Buy -
There's several great options:

- Alter Ego Comics has all three available for just $112.5 each.

- Sideshow had all three originally, but they are now on wait list at $125 each.

- of course, you can always hit ebay looking for a deal.

- and if you loved the old POTA Megos, DST is releasing reproductions as well.

Related Links -
Other Ape items include:

- the recent Sideshow Premium Format figure of Dr. Zauis.

- I reviewed Sideshow's Ape Marauder and Enforcer, Zira and Cornelius, and both the regular and exclusive versions of Dr. Zauis.

- I also looked at a couple of the smaller figures for the new remake.

- here's a guest review of Sideshow's General Ursus, Caesar, prisoner Taylor, Astronaut Brent, slave Brent,

- and the first guest review ever done at my site, way back over 8 years ago, was on the Medicom POTA figures.

Discussion:
Want to chat about this review?  Try out one of these terrific forums where I'll be discussing it!

Enjoyed this review? Be sure to head back to the main page to find thousands more just like it!



Share this review with others! 
  Digg it!    StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble It!      Reddit

Planet of the Apes Gorilla Soldier sixth scale action figure by Hot Toys


This product was purchased for the review by the reviewer. Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

This page copyright 2000 - 2009, Michael Crawford. All rights reserved. Click here for copyright permissions! Hosted by 1 Hour Hosting.com