Serenity Final Battle Malcolm Reynolds

After Joss Whedon finished up Angel and Buffy, he moved on to his version of the future - Firefly.  I have to be honest, and admit that I never watched this show when it was on.  It started out on Friday night, a night I never watch the tube, and then FOX did their usual bang up job of jerking it from night to night, pre-empting it for other stuff, and pretty much destroying any chance it had.

But I heard nothing but good things about the show, and I finally decided to watch it on DVD.  Holy crap - it's a great show!  I was suprised how much I enjoyed it, and while it took awhile to get it's legs, it finally started hitting on all cylinders.  Just in time for FOX to cancel it.

The fans of the show - called 'browncoats', and highly loyal - went on a letter writing, phone calling, naked partying rally to get the show back on the air.  They failed.  The idiots at Sci-Fi pick up shows line Andromeda, but not this.  And then something strange happened.  Maybe the television folks weren't listening, but the movie folks were, and Whedon was given the chance to do a feature length movie, soon to be released.  Called "Serenity" (the name of the ship they travel it), the film has already had a bunch of early showings and is getting great reviews.

That's a lot of background to get to the figures.  Diamond Select picked up the license to produce figures, and is doing two versions of Captain Malcolm Reynolds, two versions of Jayne (the ship muscle), and one of a Reaver, the big bad in the Firefly universe. 

I found the Final Battle Mal at the local Media Play this week (who is a 'previews' exclusive), but there was no sign of any of the others yet.  He cost $15, and I have some suggestions at the end of the review of online shops.

Packaging -  **1/2
Fairly standard card/bubble stuff, with the basic graphics from the show including Serenity herself in the upper right corner.  There's a shot of each of the figures on the back, a shot of the actual crew, and some basic text.  It all works fine, if it's a little average.

Sculpting - **
If it were just a question of the head sculpt, this figure might have faired better.  Unfortunately, there's more problems here than the obvious.

And yes, the head is obvious.  At least the Final Battle version has some remote resemblance to Nathan Fillion, that actor that plays Mal.  And by remote, I mean that if Fillion were in a police line up, and you had this figure to use to pick him out, you could do long as he was the only white male.

The hair is the worst aspect, but the face isn't much better.  I've seen Mr. Fillion in person at Comic-Con this year, and he seems like a hell of a nice guy.  He was way too nice when he approved this stuff.

The body doesn't do much better.  I don't ever recall Mal looking this goofy, dumpy, and out of sorts in his outfit.  He has skinny legs on a box torso, and the whole thing just screams dollar store.

I do like that the right arm is sculpted out from the body, gunslinger style, as though he's just about ready to draw.  Then you realize that he can't actually hold the revolver in the weird right hand sculpt, and the warm feeling disappears again.

He can manage to hold the sword in the left hand though, but just barely.  I actually tried taking a photo of Mal with the gun drawn, but it simply got too frustrating for me to keep it there without a handy rubber band.

Paint - *1/2
There's lots of blacks and browns, so you shouldn't expect a lot of wild colors.  The darker colors are fairly clean, with good consistency across the field.

Some of the small details are weak, like the silver buckles, and a few more details would have been nice.  The eyebrows have a weird painted on appearance, sort of like my Aunt Bertha, but since they ARE painted on, it presents kind of a conundrum.  All I know is that usually it doesn't appear this obvious.

All those flaws pale in comparison to his face though.  He loses countless stars for this one alone, and I did my best to make it clear in the photos - but it's tough unless you're there in person.  When did Mal get jaundice?

Really - he's yellow.  Really yellow.  Even that might not be so bad if it wasn't a completely different color than the rest of his skin, including his neck!  You can see it in the photos, but it doesn't look TOO bad, but believe me, in person it knocks you down like a fat man on the way to a buffet.

Accessories - ***
When it comes to extras, Mal doesn't fair so bad.  He has his revolver which fits nicely in the holster, a sword, and a screwdriver.  Now, when I first saw the screwdriver, I had no idea why Mal would have one.  He's not exactly the mechanical kind.

But there's also a nifty trading card included, with a movie-photo of the 'final battle' for which this figure is named.  And sure enough, Mal appears to be attempting to skewer the bad guy with a screwdriver, so it makes complete sense.  Too bad he can't hold it any better than he can hold the gun.

Articulation - ***
Mal has a nice ball jointed neck, although the neck joint is a tad more obvious than usual due to the two tone paint job.

He also has cut shoulders, cut biceps, cut forearms, pin elbows and knees, and a V crotch.  The cut joints in the arms are particularly useful - or would be if he could actually hold the accessories.

Value - *1/2
At $12, he'd be really pushing it.  At $15, you're going to pass him by.  The Jayne looks *slightly* better than the Mal's, but only slightly, and none of them are worth this kind of green.

Things to watch out for - 
Maybe I got a bad batch at my store, and you won't get the yellow faces.  Pay attention and maybe you'll be the action figure lottery winner that day.

Overall -  **
I like the folks at Diamond Select Toys.  I really do.  There's some great people there, and they seem to really be trying.  Their stuff on the Angel and Buffy line has been generally above average, and the fact that both those lines and the Star Trek line from Art Asylum appear to have gotten new life because they were willing to take a chance says great things about them.

But these figures are bad, no doubt about it.  I will get people that actually defend these - hell, I had people tell me I was crazy when I said the Jakk's Van Helsing stuff was awful - and there will be a lot of Browncoats that really, really, really want to like these, no matter how they actually look.  But these are definitely children that only a mother wearing a very brown coat could possibly love.

Packaging - **1/2
Sculpt - **
Paint - *1/2
Articulation - ***
Accessories - ***
Value - *1/2
Overall -  **

Where to Buy -
I picked this guy up at Media Play for $15, quite a bit more than the usual $12 or so that most specialty market stuff is going for.  Some online options include:

- YouBuyNow is charging around $15 for the figures, which seems about average - but wait! Listen up! It looks like they have the Mercenary Jayne figure, which is shortpacked at one per case, and who everybody else is charging $20 and up for, at the same $15 price tag.  If you're looking for the short packs (including the Reaver) this is the place to pick them up.

- CornerStoreComics has a variety of ways you can buy these, but the singles are just $12 each.

- Amazing Toyz has the individuals for $12, or the set of four - two Mals, one Jayne, and a Reaver - for $44.

- Time and Space Toys has the set of three - regular Mal, regular Jayne, and the Reaver - for $45.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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