Apexplorers, Special- Space Adam
(ltd ed white version)
Hot Toys & Winton Ma
following is a guest review. The review
and photos do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Michael Crawford
or Michael's Review of the Week, and are the opinion and work of the
|Once in awhile there's a guest
review that really makes me want to get up and get a product - this is
one of those. Jeff checks out a big monkey tonight, and it's not just
any monkey, but a Space Monkey! Tell us all about him, Jeff!
I like monkeys, you like monkeys, EVERYBODY LIKES MONKEYS!
Well, before I go too far, I say monkeys, I guess if I’m going to be
anthropologically, zoologically and biologically correct I should have
said great apes… after all Adam here is most definitely a Gorilla!
And this version of Adam, the king of the ape nation (there was an
earlier version who was a mountaineering
explorer) manages to bring two of my favourite things
together, apes and space suits!
Winson Ma, the creative talent behind this guy has a long history of
creating white-hot designer toys that get you salivating for things you
didn’t even know you wanted. He was part of the Brothersfree collective
(along with William Tsang and Kenny Wong) behind the uber cool Brothers
Worker line of figures.
When I first got into hi-end 1/6th I used to look at these figures on
the Kid Robot website desperately wanting to own them, but not truly
understanding what they were, where they were from, or what they were
about. The truth is, that like the majority of modern or pop art it
doesn’t necessarily need to be understood, it just needs to be
appreciated, or better still ’loved’!
The thing about the Brothers Worker characters is that these weren’t
super heroes or heavily armed soldiers; instead they were construction
workers, mechanics, welders and photographers.
And they came with an abundance of super detailed 1/6th accessories,
often made of real metal.
So, fast forward a few years and Winson Ma goes it alone, creating his
own universe in which highly evolved apes live alongside humans, you
can find out the full back story by navigating around the official
This is my first Apexplorer, but I hope it won’t be my last, and as
Winson Ma recently unveiled his plans for Apexplorers Ep II- Black V,
(Heavy Industry), it’s due for 2011, I hope to get some companions for
Adam in the not too distant future. You can follow Winson Classic
Creations on his Facebook page
here - to find out what is planned and when.
I asked Winson via his page what he had planned for the line but he was
pretty tight lipped, he said he was hard at work on the project as we
speak, and he hoped to have something exciting to show very soon. Don’t
make us wait too long Winson!
Although manufactured by Hot Toys, the fact this is an ‘original’
license from Winson means it still has a very ‘indie’ feel to it, which
I think adds to its charm. But there is no denying that working with
the behemoth that is Hot Toys has many benefits, not least the fact
that this comes in a huge and quite frankly lavish box.
It measures in at a full 17” x 16” x 5”, and being the special ‘white’
version it is somewhat obviously predominantly white!
First we are met by an outer sleeve, the front has a 3D rendered image
of the helmet, it has the Apexplorers logo above it and the full visor
is a die-cut window showing the front of the inner box. The back has a
Photoshopped image of Adam against a re-imagined C-Ape Canaveral
(sorry!), with an Ape designed shuttle ready for launch, and the side
panels show Adam in his full EVA suit.
Slide this off and we are met with the front image of the inner box.
This has a large picture of the Ape shuttle landed on a planet/moon
with Adam in front of it (obviously this is a planet/moon with a
breathable atmosphere as Adam is helmetless). The back has a huge
gallery of photos, some of which are glossy spot laminated. The front
of the box opens down like a drawbridge, it’s held in place by magnets,
but once released it shows a mock interior of the Ape ship. The front
is like a display ‘locker room’ showing the figure in a central window
with his accessories in two windows set on either side.
The flap that comes down shows a mock ‘shuttle’ interior floor, this
(in the case of the special white version) has a certificate attached,
hand signed by Winson Ma, it carries a pencil sketch of the character
by the artist alongside a brief bio for the character. It also has an
edition number and a blind embossed logo. I would imagine this cool
detail will be considered by many (myself included) to be the veritable
icing on this already impressive ivory coloured cake.
Inside the package Adam is held secure in the usual black vac-formed
tray alongside his accessories without the need for any twisty ties.
All in all this is a very impressive piece of design, and all the more
impressive for the fact that although this is in point of fact just a
variant on the main ‘red’ release, it has a totally unique piece of
When I reviewed the 3A Heavy
TK I remember saying that when it comes to the sculpting of
designer toys it’s difficult to be too ‘overtly’ critical, as if the
art direction is overseen by the creator, then who the hell is to tell
him/her that he/she is wrong, after all it is about their vision, not
All you can do is decide whether you like it or not… but why would you
choose to own it if you didn’t?
Of course there is always the chance that something could go horribly
pear shaped with the actual manufacturing between the prototype being
approved and the production figure hitting the shelves (and lord knows
it wouldn’t be the first time), but I’m glad to announce that no such
problems have befallen Space Adam here. In fact, he has turned out as
close to manufactured perfection as I would imagine it is possible to
The face is a minimalist, clean and unfussy master class in urban
caricature. The ape features are pared down to simple shapes that
capture the feel of character so well. The heavy brow sweeps around the
sides of the eyes like a thick ribbon to make hooded sockets, the form
of these facial features takes a heart shape with the wide nose sitting
flat in the centre of the face. It has an ergonomic/cubist feel to the
sculpting style, if that makes any sense.
From the sides of the face and covering the rest of the head is a tight
form fitting black fur covering, through which his ears protrude on
either side. If you look closely you can see a seam running down the
back of the head, but it is very well concealed and will remain
invisible to all but the most prying of eyes.
He comes with two pairs of hands, one gloved and one ‘au naturel’, both
follow the same cubist aesthetic of the heads sculptural design, it’s a
similar look to the 3A humanoid figures, meaning they would make great
shelf companions and could easily share the same universe.
This guy also comes with some very cool hardware that straddles the
outfit and accessories categories, but I’ll cover that later.
As it stands, purely rating the quality of sculpt on the head and
hands, then to me this is a 100% full score piece of work, beautifully
executed and finished to ‘designer’ perfection. It actually manages to
look like a 3D animated character made real.
The paint on the actual head and hands is minimal to say the least, but
there is a lot of highly detailed work on the accessories and outfit.
The head just consists of the paintwork on the eyes (which is crisp,
precise and clean), while on the hands; it just covers the detailing on
the gloves (which is also well applied with clean division lines and
some nice subtle weathering).
So, it’s a relatively simple app, but it’s carried off to perfection
and suits the source material down to the ground.
Did I already say I like space suits? I did, didn’t I!
Well as much as I love the stylised look of the sculpted
characterisation Ma has done on Adam, it’s the outfit and hardware that
really made me weak at the knees!
He was available in two colour-ways, a regular version in a rich
red colour-way, which I liked a lot. And a limited edition
white version… now, as I said, I liked the red, but when it comes to
some extra vehicular deep space activity, then for me it just has to be
The suit consists of a pair of heavy duty sculpted boots with sculpted
ankle collars to ‘suggest’ the hermetic seal between them and the suit,
flip them over for a look at the soles and you’ll see Winson has even
incorporated the “A” of the Apexplorers logo into the tread design…
sweet! The suits legs actually just sit over the tops, but it’s cool
that even though it’s hidden from view the details are all there. The
suit itself is a one-piece garment that zips up the back. It is made
from ivory coloured, plastic/pleather coated fabric. It’s tailored to
fit the TT well, but it also mimics the physiology of Adams gorilla
like anatomy, meaning the legs are shorter and the arms are longer. It
also means the base TT would have benefited from a slight re-working to
give the legs a lower knee joint. However to be honest he poses just
fine and the thickness of the suit (along with the padded fat ‘monkey
suit’ he wears beneath the space suit) means the leg articulation,
particularly at the hips (which are actually situated at the waist
position on Adam), are pretty limited. But with just a little
manipulation you can still get some great poses in both general
standing and even walking positions. The suit is traversed with pleated
and ribbed lines to aid in the flexibility at the positions where most
movement occurs there are also webbing straps with buckles hanging at
various positions on the arms and legs. He wears a wide belt at the
waist that has two opening pouches and yet more webbing straps, it
fastens at the back with a plastic clip buckle. The whole thing is then
given an airbrushed treatment to add weathering at the seams. The
quality of the stitching and the consistency of the pleated folds is
all top notch, you’ll even notice a couple of concealed zip pockets on
the upper arms, these are non-working, but again the quality of the
fabrication is just perfect. There’s a metallic gunmetal fabric used on
the ankle cuffs and an asymmetric panel using the same material
crossing over the left shoulder under his epaulette. Lastly he has twin
outlets/hose attachments just above the waist on either side of his
stomach and a couple of lines of metallic rivets running up either side
of the front panel. All in all this is a very cool and creative outfit
and one that is fully deserving of a top score.
OK, he was on such a strong
run there, 4 full score categories in a row, I guess it had to come to
an end. But don’t get me wrong the accessories are uber cool, but I
still feel a few more little bits and pieces might have been nice. I’d
have especially liked a holster or harness to fit the weapon into when
not being held. And an ape nation flag and moon crater base would have
been sweet as well, but enough with the what if’s and why not’s, I’m
here to grade what we get, and what get is carried out very, very well.
I’m going to include the back-pack, helmet and gun in this section,
which is unusual as some of those parts would normally seem better
suited to outfit, but on this occasion, because of the nature of the
way they work, they just seem better grouped in with accessories.
The backpack fits over the shoulders with a hole for the head to pop
through, it looks like a classic piece of modern product design showing
smooth clean-cut lines. The back is asymmetric and covered in pipes,
cables and rivets. The top of the right hand side (viewed from the
back) even has a removable power core; at least that’s what I see it
as. However the back of the box lists an ape DNA test tube, which I
think it might be intended to be. It has a carry handle and a detailed
steel and red bar that protrudes from its underside, this countersinks
into the aperture in the back pack and locks in place with a single
twist. There are twin cables running over the right shoulder that hang
loose at the end where they join to a control box. I imagine this is
meant to control the thrusters at the bottom of the back-pack, they’re
not big boosters or rockets, but more like propulsion thrusters for
space walks or added mobility on low gravity planets. The detail
continues around the edge of the collar showing the mechanics of its
hermetic seal where it couples with the helmet. The helmet itself is
formed to emulate the shape of Adams Gorilla head, with it’s shallow
and steeply banked cranium, so we have a low brow with a wide sweeping
visor for broad visibility. It has details and tooling over its surface
and a video camera mounted on the right hand side. And if you take a
look inside you’ll see the interior is highly detailed as well. The
back section, which is actually shielded by the backpack when in
position, has a small panel for batteries. ‘Batteries’ I hear you cry,
why does he need batteries?
Well there is a small button concealed on the lower right hand side of
the helmet, it matches with a detail on the other side as well. When
this is clicked a bright light shines on top of the helmet and a
smaller light comes on inside to illuminate the face, just depress and
click again to switch it off. The helmet locks in place tightly over
the collar, and the whole rig fits well on the figure to hang
convincingly and with some weight. Next up is his weapon, it’s called a
blaze gun and its design works perfectly with the rest of his hardware.
It looks like a cross between a gun and some kind of futuristic power
tool, which again fits well with Winson's back catalogue, he’s always
seemed more interested in the urban side of things rather than the
military. The front of the apparatus has three holes, which have
countersunk metallic lenses. A large steel coloured one at the bottom
and two smaller blue ones above it.
He also comes equipped with a pair of un-gloved hands; these have a
great ‘urban vinyl’ aesthetic, meaning they wouldn’t look out of place
on a 3A figure or even a Jamie Hewlett character. They are in a general
gripping position and even have some of the ‘fake fur’ as used on the
head, stuck to their backs.
Lastly Adam has the classic HT stand bearing the Apexplorers logo.
So, not a huge haul of goodies, but the stuff we get is beautifully
carried out and the light up feature puts a nice glowing cherry on the
cake. Almost perfection!
Well, believe it or not, under all that monkey business is a classic
Hot Toys True Type, and we all know what that consists of, but if you
do happen to have just got off the last shuttle from Uranus, you can
get up to speed by reading the links here
and here and I
have another photographic update/round-up planned for the latest few TT
releases very soon. This version does have a slight tweak though, in as
much as the fore arms are slightly longer to add more authenticity to
his gorilla anatomy.
He wears a white padded suit over the TT to give extra implied weight
to the gorilla physique that Adam is supposed to have, it fastens up
the back with Velcro and adds the necessary bulk to make the way the
space suit hangs look all the more natural.
As I said above the thickness of the under suit and over suit combined
with the position of the TT’s articulation does hamper a little of the
hip and waist articulation, but not enough to cause any great concern,
and as we all know, the TT is still just about the best base bod out
Sideshow had the red suited version up for the full RRP of $199, but he
sold out pretty quickly. I don’t think they had the white version on
offer, but considering it was made in such a low edition size (a mere
400 were manufactured) I’m not too surprised by that. This version has
already jumped in price on the collectors market where I’m seeing eBay
prices of between $350 to $450, and I’m guessing the exclusive hand
signed sketch that comes with it might be one of the factors that is
pushing that price ever more skyward!
The red version can still be found for between $185 to $200. So, if you
can pick this guy up for under $190 (unlikely now in the white
colour-way, but you never know) then I have no qualms in giving him a
full score. The work on the outfit and the cool light up feature make
this a hugely impressive figure on the shelf. As far as the higher
prices go, well $300 plus is a lot of moola in anyone’s language, so
the choice is yours!
Factor - ****
Full score no problem, I’ve had tons of fun playing around with him
while doing this review and he’s even earnt himself a place on my shelf
in our front room. The fact he is an original piece from a non licensed
source gives him even more kudos for me, as whenever people see him,
the first thing they ask is ‘where’s he from, what’s he about?’.
And the fact he just exists purely because a cool toy designer decided
he should, makes him all the more desirable, well for me anyway!
Toys for toys sake are invariably the coolest toys, its an unwritten
law, and if it isn’t I’ll unwrite it!
only potential fly in the ointment might have been cost, but
considering he was made in such a small limited edition, and comes with
totally unique packaging, then I kind of see the price as an
inevitability. And the red version was also made in a far smaller
edition size than most figures released in (I’ve heard the number 1000
So, taking all the factors into account this guy romps home with a full
score from me. I’m sure his styling will divide the collectors, but
again that can be a good thing as it means it wont end up in the wrong
even read that some people considered buying him to swap the head over…
what the hell are these people smoking?
like buying Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d'Avignon so you can retouch the
faces out and replace them with photos of your ex squeezes… put simply,
it would be WRONG!
has been a labour of love for Winson Ma, as he personally designed
every element of it from the packaging with the certificate sketch, all
the sculpting and costume design, right through to overseeing the
production and distribution. If that ain’t dedication then what is?
to sum up, this a great little piece of urban pop art, and one that
will be cherished by all those that took the plunge, just stunning!
to Buy -
Sideshow did have the red one for the RRP of $199.99
Bad Toy store also has the red version in stock for
$224.99 apart from that it’s time to hit the secondary market,
where I’m sorry to say it might start getting very expensive. I’ve seen
plenty of the red ones for between $189 to $220, but the white one is
now between $380 to $450… Good luck!
This product was provided free for the review by the manufacturer.
Photos and text by Jeff Parker.