Hot Toys First Blood Rambo

Rambo.  John J. The ultimate conglomeration of all things badassery.  Born in a town called Bowie, part Native American, troubled Vietnam Vet with mad killin' skills, able to survive in any conditions...the guy's last name even sounds like the Japanese word for violence. Is it any wonder that the first film was a classic?

The jury is still out as to the quality of the next two.  They were definitely violent, and I know that at one point part III held the Guinness Book of World Records title for most violent movie ever.  But I'm a big fan of the original, so when Hot Toys finally got around to producing a figure from the film, I was colored interested.

They already did a Rambo II and III version, but I skipped those.  This initial First Blood version I'm reviewing tonight has been at retailers for a month or so at least, and they have a second version coming later this year (or early next) with him wearing his full original outfit.

You pre-order the next version at Sideshow, or get on their wait list for this guy.  I also have some other retailers at the end of the review that have him in stock.  Expect to pay around $75 - $80 at most places, although I've seen him at shows for more than $100.

Packaging - ***1/2
I'm normally pretty pleased with the Hot Toys packaging, and this one has only one real issue.  It's those damn twisties.

The package itself follows their usual pattern - outer sleeve slips over inner box that has a fifth panel (flap cover).  Graphics are decent, text is reasonable if a bit sparse, and for the most part it's very collector friendly...except for several twisties holding the figure into the interior tray. With two - count them TWO - plastic covers over the interior tray, I'm not sure why the twisties were important, but as always, they're annoying.

Sculpting - ***1/2
The head sculpts on Rambo have steadily improved.  This is the third version, and is certainly better than either of the previous two.  It also has the trademark open mouth snarl that Stallone is so famous for, something that the other head sculpts lacked.  This gives him quite a bit of personality, and makes him look like the character even more.

The size of the head is good too, especially in relation to Sideshow heads, which are usually too large.  Here we can see a much better proportion between the head and body.

The hair sculpt is reasonably good too, with lots of fine hair detail.  My only complaint is that the bandana doesn't quite look right the way it's been executed.  The part around the head is sculpted on, while the ties that hand down in back are material.  While that sounds like a good idea, it doesn't work all that well in reality.  The sculpted bandana is almost completely hidden by the hair, and is a *slightly* different color than the cloth section.  That means the cloth section looks more like a hair ribbon.  The cloth sections are quite large too, certainly out of scale with the head and torso.  It's also quite difficult to work with, especially right out of the box.  If you get a little spray starch and soak it up, you'll be able to pose it better, but remember - my photos are intended to show you what you're getting out of the box, not what you can get with some work.  Had they gone with material cut narrower, I believe it would have looked much better, but even a sculpted version would have been better than this.

The hand sculpts are a bit of a let down, and bring the score down a touch.  The right hand is sculpted to hold the M-60, and the left is in the usual grip pose.  It's too open of a grip though to hold the knife, and the articulation is too restricted by the body suit to make a two handed hold on the gun viable.  You can get it to work - see the photos - but it's difficult to do and difficult for him to hold for long periods.  Of course, extra hands would have helped this issue, but I'll complain about that in the Accessories section.

Finally, let's talk about the rubber muscle suit. One of the biggest complaints against sixth scale figures that don't have a ton of clothing is that the joints are unattractive and unrealistic.  Companies have been trying for years to come up with a good rubber covering to solve this issue, and Hot Toys employs one here.

The best coverings are very thin, and actually (you're going to laugh!) some of the fashion dolls (including Barbie!) have been doing some good versions.  But the downside to a very thin version is that you can't really do much with a sculpted texture.

With Rambo, you need scars and veins and texture for it to look good.  Unfortunately, there's always a price to be paid, and here it means you have to have a fairly thick muscle suit.  It looks terrific, and seems pretty sturdy, but it does restrict the articulation quite a bit.  The figure does come with some pretty extensive warnings on how to move the arms and head to avoid damaging the suit (don't raise them too far!), but I think most folks will trade off the loss of articulation for the appearance.

Paint - ***
The paint ops are fairly clean across this figure, so quality isn't really an issue.  The small details are well done, especially the stubble on his upper lip.  The cuts between colors are clean, and the skin tone is consistent from body to hands to face.

But that glossy face...oh how I hate glossy faces.  Part of this issue is due to the material they used for both the head and the body suit.  While the head is hard and solid, it's still made from a material that's a bit more rubbery than usual.  This rubbery feel matches the rubbery feel of the torso, but they both give off more of a gloss finish than a hard plastic.

Don't get me wrong - this isn't Pammy Vorhees glossy, but he's been doing some serious sweating in the backwoods of Washington.  If he was a $50 figure, I could live with it a bit better than the $80 or more folks are asking for him.

Articulation - ***
As I mentioned earlier, the rubber body suit reduces the articulation on this figure.  Hot Toys is usually up there in the four star area in this category, with both a very well articulated body AND one that hangs and poses quite naturally.

But here, the rubber suit reduces the mobility of the neck, shoulders, biceps, elbows, chest and waist.  The wrists are pretty much unaffected, and the leg articulation is still terrific, but the rest of the upper body suffers.

The only place this really bothers me is the neck, where I really appreciate a great ball joint, and where the reduced mobility is the most annoying.  The rest of the upper body still poses well enough for this type of character, and I was able to get very natural poses out of the arms.

I already said it earlier, but I think most folks are willing to trade the articulation in for the better looking torso.

Accessories - ***
Rambo isn't loaded down with stuff, but he has some key items.

There is the M-60 of course, and it's well sculpted and painted.  There's a ton of little parts, many of them movable, but the gun itself is hollow and very light weight.  It's extremely fragile, and ends up feeling a bit cheap.  The strap looks terrific though, and is well attached.

There are three ammo belts as well.  All three are identical in style and length.  They have some small 'clips' at one end that are supposed to snap into small holes on the other end, allowing them to be held in a circle.  These are pretty worthless though, since the belts are too long to look right going around his body attached at the very end, and these pegs don't hold the belts together well anyway.  I ended up going with some clear rubber bands to hold the belts together at the spot I wanted.

The ammo belts and gun don't work well together though, even if it is the most obvious way to use one of the belts.  While you can stick one end of a belt into the chamber of the gun, there's nothing there to hold it in place.  In fact, the top section of the chamber opens up, so you'd expect it to snap down and hold the ammo somehow...but it doesn't.  That means that the belt comes out of the gun if you look at it sideways - another disappointment for me.

Finally, he has his traditional Kabar knife. Actually, an astute reader pointed out that it while it looks like a Kabar, it's actually a Lile. The sculpt and paint are excellent, with one issue - the knife is much too small for him to hold in either hand.  I'm not suggesting they need to make the knife much bigger, because the scale is actually pretty good. But neither hand is designed to hold it, making it look good only in the sheath.  That was a big let down.

And that ties in with the other big let down here.  With no additional hands, you're really missing out on some great pose potential.  The hands are really designed to pose with the gun, and anything else is going to look off.  They really needed to include an additional right and left hand, especially at this price point.

Oh, I almost forgot the display stand!  I don't use them, so they tend to slip my mind, but this figure comes with the newer style from Hot Toys.  This stand includes the "John J. Rambo" name set on a little plate that sticks up from the base.  I'm not a big fan of name plates (it should be fairly obvious to anyone not born sometime in the 20th century who this is), but this is a decent approach.

Outfit - **1/2
The biggest issue I had with the whole figure was with the outfit, and then it was only one problem.  But it's such an obvious, slap in the face sort of issue, that it really hurts the overall score in this category.

It's the t-shirt, or more specifically, the seams on the sides of the body of the shirt and along the top of the "T's".  The minute I pulled him out of the package, I was astounded by how obvious they were.  They've been seamed on the outside of the shirt, not the inside, so the seams stick up and out from the material.  I suspect they did this (the seams look heat sealed or glued, not sewn) so that the shirt would fit very tightly over the torso.   However, the seams look terrible, especially those on top of the shoulders.  You really have to pose him with the ammo belts covering them, and with his arms down close enough at his sides to hide the others.

The pants and boots are great, though, and help make up a little for the silly looking shirt.  The belt, belt buckle and knife sheath are very realistic in appearance and made from very sturdy materials.  But that's all there is to the costume, and this lack of complexity means that what is here had better be of the highest quality.

Fun Factor - ***
The rubber body suit seems pretty sturdy, even with all the included warnings about damaging it.  Kids would be more likely to break the gun than anything else, and you wouldn't want the knife ending up in the hands of a three year old.  But older kids could actually have some fun with this guy if a) they knew who he was and b) you didn't mind spending eighty dollars on something they dropped off the top of the monkey bars.

Value - **
This isn't an eighty dollar figure.  Yea, the rubber body suit is nice (although not yet the perfect solution), but the outfit and accessories don't warrant the price tag.  I'd expect to get this guy for a price closer to the usual Sideshow price of $50 - $60.

Things to Watch Out For - 
The gun has lots of small, fragile moving parts that are very easy to break when handling it.  It's also hollow and very light weight, so getting a little too reckless with it is very easy to do.

Overall - ***
I have to admit that I'm a bit disappointed by this figure.  I fell in love with the upcoming fully clothed First Blood Rambo, and picked this one up in anticipation of getting that one later this year.  This one doesn't live up to my hopes though, not because of any one major issue, but a bunch of little ones.

There's the glossy face paint, the big ties on the head band, the exterior seams that stick out on the shirt, the lack of extra hands...any one of them on their own isn't a huge problem for me, but at $80, I really don't expect to have that many minor issues.

I'm going to order the next version though, and I suspect that once it arrives this guy will be hitting Ebay.

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

Where to Buy -
This guy has been on the shelf for awhile now:

- you can get on Sideshow's waitlist for this guy (), or pre-order the fully clothed version coming out soon ().  Personally, I think this will be the best of the series.

- Dark Shadow Collectibles doesn't have this guy, but they have pre-orders up for the next one at $72.

- Alter Ego doesn't have him either, but likewise, they have the next on pre-order for $72.

- Amazing Toyz has the pre-order up for the next version at $72, and they have the Rambo III version in stock for $80.74.

Related Links -
I have one additional review:

- there's a guest review of the Rambo II Hot Toys figure

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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