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Sometimes we learn about things through indirect routes. As a kid, I loved the Warner Brothers cartoon characters, especially Daffy Duck. And one of my favorite alter
egos for Daffy was Duck Dodgers in the 21st and a 1/2 Century. Because I thought he was cool, I wanted to know more about the character the cartoon was based on, and
thus I was introduced to Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.
Buck Rogers was the first science fiction comic strip, debuting way back in 1929, well before the likes of Batman and Superman. He went on to have his own radio show, movie serial, several television versions (who can forget Twiki?), comic books, games, and toys over the last 80 years. And if you're a fan of Futurama, you'll know how much that show hearkens back to the original Buck Rogers storyline.
Go Hero, a new player in the high end sixth scale market, has just released their detailed figure based on the character. They've also produced a full sized Atomic Disintegrator, which hearkens back to the toy pistols of the 1930's.
The figure is a limited edition of 1000, and runs about $175, depending on the retailer. You can pick it up direct from Go Hero, or hit one of the retailers in the Where to Buy section.
There's a second version of Buck who is planned but not yet finalized. This version would be in black and white, with a differently designed vest and the rocket pistol! I'd expect him to be an exclusive to someone/someplace, but his final disposition has not yet been determined.
Packaging - ****
Step aside Enterbay and Hot Toys - the package of the year has arrived! I was blown away when I opened the outer shipping box to reveal a wooden - yes, WOODEN - product package! The box is very sturdy, with a slotted lid that slides out the top side. On the front and back are graphics and text done in a wood burned style. Remember wood burning? That was a fun filled boy's art project until adults figured out that giving an 8 year old an electrified hot metal poker might increase the likelihood of a singed cat or a burned down house. Of course, that's just ridiculous - I loved wood burning when I was a kid, and there was just that one minor carpet fire, and the cat's whiskers eventually grew back.
I don't think this is actual wood burning as we used to do it, but rather a laser cut process, but it does a great job of capturing the nostalgia. It's also done in a way that depending on how the light hits it, you see more or less of the lettering and art, giving it a worn, old look, like a cool wooden box you just uncovered in Grampa's basement workshop.
The edition size is etched right on the front (I have number 381 of the 1000 produced), and the lid slides on and off quite smoothly.
Inside is a more traditional plastic tray, with double plastic covers. There's no twisties, rubber bands, or other forms of entrapment. It's completely collector friendly, and you can pull everything out and put it back later without any sort of damage.
Inside is also a very cool business card sized Certificate of Authenticity. It's printed with a highly reflective multi-colored ink, and is one of the coolest COA's I've ever seen.
This is beautiful work, fulfilling the best of what product packaging can be. It captures the nostalgic feel of the license perfectly, and shows some real ingenuity on the part of Go Hero.
Sculpting - ***1/2
If you were hoping for Gil Gerard, you'll be disappointed. This isn't your dad's Buck Rogers - this is your grandfather's. Unless you're as old as I am, and then it really is your dad's, but he thinks you're nuts for spending your hard earned money on this 'crap' anyway, so it's better if we don't tell him you bought it.
While Buck has been played by a number of people, and has also merely been a drawn comic strip longer than anything else, there really is one actor that defines the character - Buster Crabbe. Buster Crabbe was the Sylvester Stallone of the Depression. You needed someone to play a heroic adventurer? Buster was your man. He played Tarzan more convincingly than Johnny Weissmuller, he made Flash Gordon come to life, and he portrayed the classic Buck Rogers on screen in 1939, bringing in a huge fan base of kids longing for adventures in outer space.
Here's a still or two of the actor to get a feel for what he looked like. Keep in mind that this portrait is NOT intended to be an exact duplicate of Buster Crabbe, but rather an amalgamation of the various versions as well as Go Hero's own design of what the original character would look like as a real person.
The hair is excellent, with nice detailing in the layers and strands, and a perfect match on the style of the day. The features have a chiseled look, and are very reminiscent of the 20's and 30's style action hero.
While this isn't supposed to be Crabbe, it bears enough resemblance that fans should be pleased. I think that going with a more generic look here was a smart move, and this version captures the strip profile extremely well. For Crabbe fans, they have a Crabbe Flash Gordon coming next, during the first quarter of 2010, and it is obvious from the sculpt that they have the rights to his likeness for that figure.
He comes wearing the normal flesh colored hands, so those are the ones I'll include here. The right hand is sculpted to hold the gun, while the left is in an open, flat pose. I mentioned in the Karloff review how these standard ATOM hands were inappropriate for that character, but here they work fine.
Paint - ***
I'll just be discussing the paint work on the head sculpt here, leaving the discussion of the other areas for the Accessories and Outfit sections.
As in the Sculpt section, I think it's the hair that is the real stand out here. The paint work, including a nice dark wash, manages to add depth and detail to the sculpt, and there's almost no slop to be seen. The hairline has some very minor issues, but they are only noticeable under extremely close inspection.
The eyes are straight and sharp, although they do have the accursed catch lights ("doll dots") added in. Fortunately, they are very small, and almost identical in size and placement.
The eyebrows are very clean and neat, and the lips have a slight gloss to them. He does suffer a bit from the lipstick look, and the skin tone is not quite the same as the body itself, pulling down the score here for me slightly.
We've been spoiled by the production paint work of Hot Toys and Enterbay, but the work here is solid, with no major quality issues.
Articulation - ***1/2
Go Hero's underlying body is called the ATOM, and you can find detailed information on both the basic body and the talking version here. You can also see the nekkid body in my review of the recent Boris Karloff. This is the same body, but it has the added electronic features.
The ATOM body has all the joints you'd expect for a modern sixth scale figure. It holds poses well, it hangs naturally, and most of the joints are quite tight. I did have a little looseness in the neck, shoulders and knees, but this was only noticeable because of the extreme weight of the metal and glass accessories.
The body is designed to make swapping heads and hands easy, and I found the process painless. The posts for the wrists are a little longer than TrueTypes, and seem extremely sturdy. That's a very good thing, since wrists are one of the most commonly broken joint.
The ATOM body takes all that goodness and goes one step further. The arms can pop off at the shoulders, making the removal and redressing of a figure much, much easier. It didn't do me a lot of good here, because the cuffs on the shirt are so tight that I couldn't slide the arms down through the sleeves, but I did pop the arms off to test it and pop them back on, all under the shirt, with absolutely no problem.
This ATOM is called the ATOMEdia, and includes a very unique sound feature. More on that in a later section. I was able to pose it in a wide variety of ways, including a very realistic flight pose. The head and torso tilt back perfectly, arms out in back, but you won't be able to get the feet to stretch out due to the boots. Still, pop him on a display stand with jet pack alight, and he'll look smokin' hot.
Accessories - ****
There are two helmets that come with Buck, a flight helmet and a space helmet. I'm splitting them up between outfit and accessories, putting the flight helmet in the next category, and discussing the space helmet here.
Along with the space helmet, there's the holster, ray gun, flight pack, and extra gloved hands.
Let's start with the large space helmet. Yes, that's real glass. The real deal, like you drop it on a concrete floor and it breaks real deal. It's fairly thick, and certainly sturdy, but do keep in mind that it's still glass.
The big benefit here is that it's crystal clear and has no seam. It's a completely transparent, smooth dome, much nicer than any plastic version could ever be.
It's large enough to allow the figure to wear the flight helmet underneath, like he did in the strip. I've included a shot that way, but I also included a couple with just the head inside too - I was getting tired of all the photos wearing the flight helmet! It's a tight squeeze when he's wearing the smaller helmet, so take care.
The space helmet has real metal rivets around the collar, as well as leather straps that buckle around the armpits. These buckles are also metal, and they are fairly easy to work with, and hold the helmet tightly in place. I was very impressed with the fit of the collar on the body, and it rests smoothly on the shoulders.
The jet pack is painted in a gold metallic color, with two 'flames' extending from either tube. These flames work nicely with the light up feature (more on that in a minute), but can also be removed. I did have some trouble getting the left flame out, but the right one popped out smoothly. You might want to heat the flame up a bit with a hair dryer to soften it if it sticks.
The jet pack attaches to his back with a metal clip. This very sturdy clip fits inside a small slit on the upper back of the vest, and remains tightly in place.
Speaking of metal, let's move on to the ray gun. Yep, it's metal all right! The sculpt is quite detailed, covered with a nice plated gold color. It's a bit heavy, but the ATOM body was able to hold it up in most poses. And how can you not love a weapon called the Atomic Disintegrator?
The gun properly fits right inside the included holster. The holster is made from a soft rubber material, including the flap and the belt loop. The post on the front appears to be metal though, making it much easier than usual to attach and detach the soft flap.
Finally, there's the extra hands. The right is done in a gun grip, while the left is fisted. The hands pop on and off pretty easily, but the large, tight cuffs on the shirt did cause some issues. They tend to deform the gauntlet of the glove up near the hand, and make it a bit tougher to get the hand popped on in the first place.
The gloves are made from two different materials. The hands themselves are a hard plastic, but the gauntlet that covers the sleeve is made from the same soft rubber as the holster. If this weren't the case, you wouldn't be able to get the hands on, because of the underlying cuffs. The color of the gloves matched the faux leather color of the vest, boots and flight suit perfectly. And while the are made from two very different materials, you can't see any variation in color between the hand and the gauntlet. There's even a little wear included on the hands that adds to the realism!
Oddly, there's no included display stand. Considering the risk of posing this figure on the shelf wearing the glass helmet, I think you'll want to hunt one up if you go that route.
Sound Feature - ****
As I mentioned earlier in the Articulation section, this figure comes on the ATOMedia body. The 'media' part refers to the sound functions.
While instructions are included with the figure, you might want to take a gander at the PDF version they serve up at their website.
The actual manufacturers of the ATOM are Day 2 Day Trading, a company that works with a variety of small manufacturers to see their product make it to the light of day. While the regular ATOM is a solid sixth scale body, the media version adds in several key sound components.
There is 1 gig of storage inside the body, far more than we've seen in any talking figure in the past. That means that TONS of sound clips are possible.
Better yet, there's also a small microphone on the side of the figure, and you can record any MP3, WAV or other compatible sound file right to the figure.
Want more? No problem. The figure uses a rechargeable battery (included), along with a USB port and cable. Hook the figure up to your computer to recharge it!
And what good is a USB port if you can't load the files that way too? Ah, but you can! Hook the figure up to your computer and you can use the 1 gig of storage right from Windows, dropping in any sound file you'd like to add, instead of recording it.
The figure comes with a series of buttons on the back, set in a circular pattern. There's functions for play, record, next, previous, volume up and volume down right at your finger tips. It's a little tough to work the buttons on this figure due to the heavy rubber vest, but it's not impossible.
To make things even easier, there's a remote control! Yep, the small blue remote has all the same functions, including the record button. It's powered by a couple regular large sized watch batteries, also included.
The remote is IR, so the heavy vest tends to interfere again. I found that sometimes the remote worked flawlessly through the clothes, and other times it refused to do a thing. The remote is the type of feature that's going to work far better on figures clothed in less restrictive materials.
Even with the problems with the clothing, this is one of the coolest sound features I've ever seen. Go Hero is going to be selling these bodies for customizers, and I expect quite a bit of demand.
Light Feature - ***1/2
Did you think that nifty sound feature was enough? Go Hero didn't! They added a light up feature as well on the jet pack. Press a button on the inside bottom, and the flame attachments are light up with bright red LEDs. It's a little tough to get to the button when the pack is on his back, but that's a minor quibble.
Outfit - ***1/2
The quality of the accessories is eye poppingly good, and that quality extends to the outfit as well.
The boots, best and flight helmet are all made from the same sort of rubber material that I discussed with the gloved hands. Some are very hard and dense, like the helmet and vest. The material here is thick and sturdy, and highly unlikely to rip or come apart.
The boots are softer, allowing at least some of the ankle articulation to work. The boots also sport a fantastic sculpt, real leather straps, and a real metal buckle!
The sculpt on the vest is also quite impressive. Rather than try to mimic a leather look with material, Go Hero went with this dense rubber. It was a brilliant choice, as it looks just like the real deal, but holds its shape and stays snug on the body much, much better than any cloth material possible could.
The soft riding pants might look a little silly, but they match the source material quite well. There's a very thin velcro 'zipper', and the quality of the material is top notch.
The belt he's wearing is leather, with a metal buckle. This buckle detaches on both sides, making it easy to clasp and unclasp, but once in place, it holds very tightly.
Underneath the cool vest is his bright red shirt, with stitched cuffs and collar. It fits great, but the tight cuffs do hinder removing the arms as well as getting the gloved hands in place. Something a bit thinner here would have been very welcome.
Finally, there's the flight helmet. Again, the leather look is achieved with the hard rubber material, which holds a sculpt extremely well. The helmet includes several metal components, including the 'top knot', the visor and ear pieces, and the buckle on the chin strap.
I never could get the chin strap to connect with the head in place, but my fingers are just too clumsy. I managed to put the strap through the buckle with the helmet off, then pop the head off the body and insert it into the helmet. Then pop the whole thing back on! Sounds a little complicated, I know, but it is easier than trying to connect it with the head already in place, but I haven't tried it yet.
There's much more to the flight helmet than first meets the eye. The visor arms slide out of the round ear pieces entirely, and then you can turn the ear pieces 90 degrees. The arms on the visor also extend and turn, so that you can re-insert them in the earpieces and have the visor resting high on his forehead, above his eyes. How cool is that! The engineering that went into designing it is extremely impressive.
Fun Factor - ****
This isn't a fun toy in the traditional sense - I'm not recommending that you give it to your eight year old to toss around the back yard. The body, clothing and accessories are actually quite sturdy, and can hold up to play as well as some mass market stuff (with the obvious exception of the glass helmet), but nobody in their right mind buys $175 figures for their kids.
However, this is a figure that doesn't just understand the theme of Buck Rogers, but it understands that its heritage lies in toys, not 'collectibles'. The sound feature makes this something an adult can have all kinds of fun with, and the posability and quality of the ATOM body, along with the uber cool accessories and outfit, go a long way to making it a great toy for big boys.
Value - ***1/2
A $175 figure that gets a better than average score? Hell yes! Only 1000 of this figure were produced, it doesn't just have an excellent outfit and accessories (that included leather, metal and glass!), but it has a great light up feature and outstanding sound feature! We haven't seen another sixth scale figure this loaded for under $200, and given the right licenses, Go Hero could do some amazing things.
I'd also like to point out that at least one of my sponsors has this guy for only $130, but I don't expect him to last long at that kind of price.
Things to Watch Out For -
Most of the figure is quite sturdy, but you do want to remember that this is a highly detailed adult figure. Take care with areas like the glass helmet, small leather straps, or wrist pegs.
It's also worth noting that the soft rubber used here *might* interact with other types of rubber if left in contact. I noticed that the strap on the holster was sticking to the holster itself right out of the package, and back in the day this type of rubber would often cause melt marks on harder plastic pieces. Just keep that in mind when storing the figure, and keep items like the holster or gloves out of direct prolonged sustained contact with areas like the vest.
And please, don't drop the space helmet on a concrete floor. Really. Trust me on this one - if you wonder what happens when you do drop the space helmet on a concrete floor, just check out the last photo. And if you want to know what it looks like when a grown man cries, just ask my wife, as she got to witness it first hand. *sob*
Overall - ****
The very best figures come from companies and creators that truly love what they are doing, and love the properties they are working on. That sort of love and dedication is obvious in every aspect of this figure, from the packaging to the accessories.
Great companies are willing to take risks and chances, coloring outside the lines when it comes to new features and functions. Using a tremendously wide range of materials, using a unique sound feature, and adding in every bell and whistle they could think of, Go Hero has set a new standard in what 'high end sixth scale' means. Go Hero's Buck is like Medicom's Rocketeer on steroids.
Every time I thought I had found all the awesomeness that this figure had to offer, something else popped up. By the time I was done shooting and posing this guy, I was completely wowed by the overall attention to detail.
The license itself is going to put off some collectors, because they aren't familiar with the old school Rogers, and the slightly goofy old school nature of the design and style won't be their thing. But even if this particular license doesn't make your bread rise, you should be able to appreciate the level of quality that is here, and the potential that ATOMedia body and Go Hero exhibit. Go Hero has already announced The Shadow and Doc Savage to go with Buck and Flash Gordon, which is a terrific start to a pulp character collection. Now I just needs me some Zorro!
Score Recap (out of ****):
Packaging - ****
Sculpting - ***1/2
Paint - ***
Articulation - ***1/2
Accessories - ****
Outfit - ****
Sound Feature - ****
Light Up Feature - ****
Fun Factor - ****
Value - ***1/2
Overall - ****
Where to Buy
Online options include these site sponsors:
- You can get it directly from Go Hero for $175.
- Sideshow has him for $175.
- Entertainment Earth has him at $175 as well.
- or you can search ebay for a deal.
Related Links -
This is the first product from Go Hero I've covered, but you'll want to hit their web site for more info.
You should also hit the Search Reviews page, in case any other applicable reviews were done after this one was published.
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