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Flash Gordon
Cast-A-Way Toys

Flash Gordon sixth scale action figure by Cast-A-Way Toys


While it might seem like comic book heroes started with Batman and Superman, that's far from the truth. Before the two titans of modern superheroes ever graced a page, there was the classics: Zorro, Tarzan, Buck Rogers and of course - Flash Gordon.

Collectors have been clamoring for sixth scale versions of the great early serial characters for years, and most would give a less critical body part for a Zorro, Shadow, Phantom or Flash Gordon. While Triad Toys is doing their best to get their Zorro to market, Go Hero was busy working on first Buck Rogers, released last year (and reviewed here), and then Flash Gordon.

But all was not perfect on the production front. After Buck Rogers was released, there was some drama with Go Hero and Day2Day Trading, the company doing the production. Day2Day was doing work for some other companies as well (including Executive Replicas) where other problems arose, and verbal and legal battles have been on going ever since. The end result was that it looked like collectors would never get the chance to see the much anticipated Flash Gordon.

Cast-A-Way Toys have been working largely in the 8" Mego style format, but they decided to jump in and assist in getting the 30's action hero finally released. You can pick up the regular version in his usual funky space outfit for $100, or the limited edition Action Pilot version, which includes a complete second outfit, for $130. The Action Pilot version will be limited to just 100 produced, so it truly lives up the the label!
Flash Gordon sixth scale action figure by Cast-A-Way Toys
Flash Gordon sixth scale action figure by Cast-A-Way Toys
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Flash Gordon sixth scale action figure by Cast-A-Way Toys
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Flash Gordon sixth scale action figure by Cast-A-Way Toys
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Flash Gordon sixth scale action figure by Cast-A-Way Toys
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Flash Gordon sixth scale action figure by Cast-A-Way Toys
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Flash Gordon sixth scale action figure by Cast-A-Way Toys
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Flash Gordon sixth scale action figure by Cast-A-Way Toys
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Flash Gordon sixth scale action figure by Cast-A-Way Toys
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Flash Gordon sixth scale action figure by Cast-A-Way Toys

Packaging - ***1/2
Whether you get the regular version or the exclusive Action Pilot, the box is the same. There's an outer sleeve with lots of actual photos of Crabbe as Flash Gordon and some great background text, with an inner collector friendly window box. If you buy the Action Pilot, he comes dressed in the pilot gear with the regular costume packed behind.

The box is sturdy and very attractive, and I'm always impressed by a company that is willing to put the actual character photos right there for you to compare, and it takes real confidence in the accuracy of the product to do that.

Sculpting - ***
The famous 30's action star Buster Crabbe played Flash Gordon, and they've gone for his likeness on the figure. He was also the best known actor to play Buck Rogers (or at least until Gil Gerard did it 40 years later), making it possible to compare this likeness to the earlier released Rogers figure. A little extra trivia for the movie buffs - Crabbe was the only actor to play Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers and Tarzan on screen.

The portrait doesn't quite have the realism of a Hot Toys sculpt, but it does a decent job of matching up with Crabbe. The eyes, nose and lips look good, and the Brylcream hair ("a little da will do ya!") has some very good stranding and detailing. The head is a little wide at the temples, but it does have the sharply defined chin and jawline. The skin has a slight texture, but doesn't quite capture reality the same way some current head sculpts do - still, it's decent work for a company just getting started in the sixth scale market.

He only comes with the hands he's wearing, one for gripping the accessories and one that's open flat. These are the standard hands for this body, and work well enough, but a couple more would be a big plus.

Paint - **1/2
I actually suspect that the underlying head sculpt, seen unpainted, would have ranked another half star in the Sculpt category. But the paint work doesn't do as good of a job highlighting that as it should, and in fact, probably hurts the realism of the likeness a bit.

This isn't surprising though - I just recently mentioned in another review that paint is usually the most difficult aspect for a new company to get right. It takes time for them to learn how to get the most from production work, and it takes them time to find the right manufacturer who can accomplish what they ask for.

Here, there isn't much slop, but it's not as life-like as the current $100 market demands. The skin tone has some variation in it, and the hair has that heavy highlighting that is intended to bring out the detail, but is slightly overdone. The eyes and lips are clean, but a bit more like a mannequin than I'd like to see, at least at this price point. This is the one area where Cast-A-Way will have to focus for their next release, and I'm betting that if this improves, the sculpt itself will also seem to improve.

Articulation - ***1/2
This appears to be the same basic ATOM body that we saw with Buck Rogers, but without the addition of the talking/recording feature. This same body was used by Executive Replicas with their Boris Karloff figure, and you can see it buck nekkid in my review of that figure.

The body has all the necessary joints, and they have a very good range of movement. They are also very tight for the most part, ensuring that he can hold the stances you put him in for extended periods of time.

The body does have rather long legs, an issue that is a bit exacerbated by the high waisted pants and belt on the regular version. This body also doesn't flow quite as naturally as some of the very best on the market, taking off a bit from a perfect score.

Accessories - ***1/2
The accessories are a shining point for this figure, with some very nice work done on the entire lot.

There are two ray guns - his funky hand held gun, and the large blaster rifle. Both fit in his hands great, and look good in any pose. The sculpts are terrific, and the paint application completes that art deco look.

There's also a miniature version of Zarkov's rocket. He can hold it, or it can be placed on the shelf next to him. It's solid and hefty, with a good sculpt and nice paint.

To round out his weapons, there's a sword that slips cleanly into a scabbard. While the scabbard can't actually be hooked to the belt, it can slip inside, and the sword was one of his classic weapons. 

Unfortunately, he doesn't have a hand sculpt that works particularly well with the sword, and I really do wish that we'd gotten at least a couple additional hands to swap out. There's also no display stand, no biggie for me but for some folks it may make a difference.

Outfit - Regular ***; Pilot **
The regular standard uniform includes his black pants, black rubbery boots, rubber belt, light blue shirt (with lightning bolt), and fancy studded collar.

The collar is very nicely done, with a great sculpt and paint. It's a separate piece from the shirt, so it can even be removed if you'd like, and is easy to adjust.

The shirt and pants are fairly well tailored, although the pants do ride a bit high. This is partly due to the long legs on the underlying body. The rubbery belt matches the collar in style, and fits tightly around the pants.

Over all this you can drape his cool cape - I think capes need to come back in style. This one has the huge Ming-like collar sticking up, but you can fold that down if you prefer. It's made from very high quality heavy material, and the inner lining looks fantastic. The thicker ribbon used to hold it in place is a bit out of scale, but otherwise it's top notch.

The only piece pulling down this score for the regular figure is the boots. The sculpt isn't as nice as what we saw back with Buck Rogers. The toes are wide and floppy, boarding on clown-like, and instead of making it easier for the figure to stand, tend to make it more difficult.

These same boots are used on the Action Pilot outfit, which also drops the score there a bit. However, there's a couple other issues that hurt the exclusive costume even further.

Cast-A-Way was nice enough to send along an already dressed Action Pilot, so I could shoot them together without coming up with another body and head. However, I didn't realize at first that he had his goofy boots on backwards, and in some of the photos you'll notice that they look even odder. In the final photo though, you'll see them in place with the correct orientation.

Swapping the boots was a bit tricky since the soft rubber likes to stick to the heel, but it wasn't as frustrating as I'd expected.

If you recognize his riding pants and silver buckled belt, that's because it's the same ones we saw with the aforementioned Buck Rogers figure.

Flash also has a light brown shirt on, and it's similar in quality and styling to the pants.

The dark brown leather bomber jacket looks great, although the front zipper is a little oversized. That's not a major issue for me this time around though, since you can actually get the zipper to go all the way up and down or unzip it completely, and it rezips with nary a hitch. That's not something that can always be said for the smaller in-scale zippers.

So if the jacket, pants, shirt and belt are so great, what's the issue? It's the goofy helmet and goggles, neither of which fit the figure properly.

The goggles are way too big, and can not be put over his eyes in any way that doesn't look ridiculous. The materials and sculpt look good, but the scale issue renders them almost useless.

The flight helmet is made from a soft rubber as well, and does fit the head - but the long straps don't connect particularly well, and they tend to get in the way, pushing the helmet off at odd angles. I tried my best to bury them in the jacket or get them to stick off at a reasonable angle, but nothing seemed to work. These two items pulled the pilot suit down from the same *** score as the regular costume, and they make it tough for me to recommend spending the extra $30 unless you're a pretty die-hard fan.

Fun Factor - ***
The bodies are sturdy, and the accessories are very tough. Even the costumes are well made, with little chance of damage during regular play. However, this isn't really a character anyone under the age of 40 is likely to find appealing, so it's really designed for the collector market.

Value - Regular **1/2; Pilot **
With the current sixth scale market, snagging anything of decent quality for less than $80 is pretty impossible. The DC Direct deluxe figures are rising in price, Sideshow's figures are largely around $100 or more, and companies like Hot Toys and Enterbay are well past that, nearing $200 more often than not. A perfect comparison figure for Flash Gordon is the Zorro being released by Triad Toys, which does not have a licensed likeness to any actor, and yet runs $120.

With what is sure to be a low production run, very well done accessories, a full costume and a licensed product, the regular Flash is an solid value at $100. I wouldn't go much higher than that, but I suspect that if you wait too long, the initial run will dry up and prices may rise simply due to availability.

While I think the extra $30 is too steep a price jump for the Action Pilot exclusive, the truly limited nature - only 100 being produced - makes up for quite a bit. It's also a sensible exclusive, since it's not one the average fan will feel compelled to own.

Things to Watch Out For -
I didn't have a single issue, although I didn't completely dress down either figure.

Overall - ***
It's a good time to be a fan of the great pulp fiction characters - and I'm not talking about Vega or Winnfield. I'm talking about Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, the Shadow and Zorro, all of whom will soon have solid sixth scale action figures released. How far behind can the Phantom, John Carter, or Doc Savage be?

While I do have a few issues with some of the costume pieces for the Action Pilot, and Cast-A-Way will need to tighten up the paint ops, this Flash Gordon is a very nicely done depiction, well worth the $100 price tag.

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

Where to Buy -
Right now your best bet is to pick these up direct from Cast-A-Way at their site, where the regular Flash is $100, and the exclusive is $130. You can search ebay for a deal, as well.

Related Links -
Other similar products from Go Hero include the Harryhausen Skeleton Warriors, the Buck Rogers ray gun, and the Buck Rogers figure.

Discussion:
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Flash Gordon sixth scale action figure by Cast-A-Way Toys


This product was provided free for the review by the manufacturer. Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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