Hot Toys Jack Sparrow and Sao Feng


"The 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 guest author."

Jeff Parker checks in tonight with his look at the cool HT POTC figures!  Tell us all about them, Jeff - 

These two dandy corsairs are the first in Hot Toys Pirates of the Caribbean (POTC) Movie Masterpiece Series (MMS), soon to be joined by a special edition Sao Feng, Elizabeth Swann and Will Turner. They may be HT’s first POTC figures but they join a very long line of licensed merchandise that has seen a wealth of goodies thrown at us since the first movie’s release in 2003. 

I enjoyed all three films, sure they were a little over long, sure they got messy and more than a little convoluted in places, but as far as summer blockbuster romps go they managed to tick most of the boxes, well for me at least.

But the one thing they did give us that no one can deny, and all praise is due to Mr Johnny Depp (with a little help from Keef [sic] Richards) for his interpretation and acting skill, was Jack Sparrow! 

A lesser actor might have given us a macho “Yo Ho Ho, shiver me timbers, Arrr, that be right lad” parody of what we all expect a pirate to be. And though Jack Sparrow is far from subtle, neither can he be pigeon holed, as one Disney exec was rumoured to have said after seeing the first cut, “I don’t get it, is he drunk, is he on drugs, is he gay or straight and is he the good guy or not?”… and that’s why we love him, something a sterile corporate committee or focus group will never get… he is a CHARACTER! 

You can find out just about anything you want to know about witty Jack, history, clothes, etc, etc, etc, here.

As soon as I got mine out of the box my six year old daughter who has never seen any of the movies (and indeed it’ll be a few years before she does) said “Wow, cool, it’s Jack Sparrow, wait till I tell Adam at school, he loves Jack Sparrow!”

So we have a bona fide modern icon on our hands.

She didn’t recognise Sao Feng but wanted to play with him anyway (she wasn’t allowed), and I have to say I feel the character was something of a wasted opportunity in the movie… I mean we’re talking about Chow Yun Fat here, and he was used as little more than a plot device to get Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightly) to the position she was needed (both in pirate social standing and geographically).

But enough bickering about the actual movies, lets get to the juicy bit, are these two figures worth all the fuss they’ve generated since we were all blown away by those early prototype pics?

Packaging - ***1/2
I like Hot Toy’s MMS range of packaging, and these fit perfectly with what has gone before. You know the deal by now, metallic printed slipcase with a five panel full colour printed box, the only let down for me was the slightly exuberant over use of twisty ties (six on each). But apart from that, it was all good to go. 

And both looked fantastic STRAIGHT from the box, take note other manufacturers, I may quite like redressing my figures so as to get just the look I want, but I shouldn’t have to.

Sculpting - ****
As mentioned before there have been a lot of POTC figures released, from Kubricks , animated style statues right through to the very impressive Cinemaquette , but I have to say this is, in my most humble opinion the best of the lot, yes even over the Cinemaquette, who’s face looks too full, and frankly just isn’t the Deppmeister. 

I’m not saying this is perfect, but it’s damn close, especially at this scale, and the sculptor, Yulli (one of the few women working in this trade, and she’s cute as well as talented) deserves a big bonus for giving us the best 1/6 human sculpt of the year, yes I personally think it’s even better than either the Jet Li or Bruce Lee (WOTD) by Enterbay. Though I do have to admit I haven’t seen either of those in hand.

But the sculpting on the face isn’t where it ends. We also have a great hair sculpt which is made of a softer rubbery material, much like SST’s Aragorn. Meaning you still get a great range of movement even with all the dreads, beads, hair jewelry, reindeer shin bone (yes…you read right) and bandana. The hand sculpts are also great, featuring all of Jacks signature rings, leather palm protectors and wristbands (the inclusion of the sculpted wrist band does mean you lose the articulation there, but it’s a compromise I can live with. The boots are also a solid sculpt and this means we lose articulation at the ankle, but again they look so good you won’t mind too much.

Now onto Feng, I know Michael felt this wasn’t quite as strong as Jack in his review and I can see where he’s coming from, as virtually all sculpts have to be viewed from an optimum angle to get the best effect (Jack included), but I love the sculpt just as much as Jack’s. 

And having studied a lot of stills from the movie, many can be seen here. It is undeniably Chow Yun Fat, perhaps now HT might get round to giving us some Crouching Tiger 1/6 figures… pretty please with a cherry on top! 

The hands and feet are great too, especially the feet… no I’m not a shrimper but they’re the best 1/6 scale feet I’ve seen. The fingers on the hands do seem a little long, but part of that’s down to the characters very long nails which give the illusion of the fingers being even longer. The only potential problem is with Sao’s long skinny beard and tash, but as long as you’re mind-full when posing they shouldn’t come to any harm.

Here are some links to mine and various other collectors’ photos over at Mediworld, thanks guys -

Photo 1, photo 2, photo 3, photo 4

Some pics of the Elizabeth Swann proto.

Paint - ****
This area shines just as strongly as the sculpt, absolutely astounding skin tones on both, and when coupled with the great texturing on the face sculpts, means that with the right lighting, the skin looks virtually real. But the very fine work on eyes, eyebrows, beards, mouths not to mention all the fiddly details in Jacks hair and Sao’s armour will make these real stand-out pieces in your collection.

All the accessories are painted finely as well, fantastic detail!

The skin tone on Sao’s hands and feet are a tad darker than his face, no problem on the feet as you’d expect bare feet to be dirtier, you could say the same for his hands, but they could be about 5% lighter. But overall the paint artist J.C.Hong (who can be seen in the linked photo above, behind Yulli) has done an absolutely amazing job on both figures, definitely the best paint job I’ve ever seen straight from the box.

Articulation - ***3/4
They both come with Hot Toys’ now standard body, so both have a fantastic base body only hampered by their outfits. Jacks doesn’t offer too much resistance apart from at the ankles and right wrist (as mentioned above). Sao’s armour, however, does restrict a lot of movement in his trunk and abdomen, meaning he won’t be doing any high kicks or touching his toes, but as these are primarily display items you should get both into any of the classic poses you remember them in from the movies.

Both figures stand and hang well and look incredibly realistic when you hit just the right pose. My work colleagues were amazed while I had these on my desk as I wrote this review, they’re used to my weird illness and often comment on the figures I bring in, but these seem to have become their favourites, one said, “My god, it’s just like two little fellas are standing on your desk”, I think that sums it up.

Outfit - Jack **** Sao ***3/4
These figures go from strength to strength. The outfits are just about the best I’ve seen with Jacks being the winner by a nose just for its sheer complexity.
The amazing thing about Jacks outfit is that even though multi-layered, and we’re talking shirt, waistcoat, frock coat, trousers, cummerbund, and belts, he doesn’t look bulky. 

This is down to a fantastic use of fabrics and an even more impressive degree of tailoring. But even if you put aside the detail on the laced-up shirt, the intricate needlework on button holes and seams, the working belts with each individual buckle realised perfectly from the screen-worn costume (check out the extras on the POTC Dead Mans Chest DVD), the working drawstrings on the trouser bottoms, yes even if you try to put that aside, the thing I found amazing was the incredible weathering. It looks like Jack has slept, sweated, fought and god knows what else in this outfit for several months, and Jacks frock coat even has a wire rim running through the hem for posing, just astounding!

Sao’s outfit though not quite as complex in its layering, could be said to be even more complex in its ornate nature. The fine detail and painting on the armour is exquisite and the fine printing and embroidery on his gown are of museum quality. It’s a shame the armour can’t be removed (well, if it can I can’t work out how to do it without taking the figure to pieces) and had the belt/armour been a tad looser you could have slipped his dibber… sorry T-spike into it as he did in the movie. His scabbard fits well into the loop on his belt but take care when doing this as it looks fragile, in fact a leatherette loop might have worked a little better here as I think his sword was worn a little further round his side in the movie.

Accessories - Jack**** Sao ***1/2
Jack comes better equipped in this department. He has his hat, sword, scabbard, compass, chicken claw, pelts, charms, bunch of keys, rum bottle, an extra right hand and his flintlock to hold it in.

The sword and scabbard fit snugly into the leatherette shoulder belt and the flintlock can tuck in behind his waist belts and cummerbund. His hat sits well on his head when you find the optimum position, but you will need a good firm push to get there, and the rum bottle sits well in his left hand.

All the other items are designed to hang from his belt, and the stand-out piece from these is the compass. It even has a little clasp that opens so you can lift the lid to see its face… no it doesn’t actually work, cheez, what do you people want?

Sao comes with his sword, scabbard, flintlock, garden dibber… sorry I mean T-spike weapon and not one but two alternate hand sculpts. Sadly these hand sculpts hold his accessories a little loosely, but if you do the old, plunge into boiling water reposition/close then put under cold water (you may need to repeat this a couple of times) they should work fine, alternatively just use a blob of Blu-tack.

Both also come with the standard MMS figure stand bearing the POTC logo and character name, and very nice and sturdy they are too.

Value -  ***1/2
These are both demanding high prices on the secondary market already, with Feng going for between $109 to $169 on eBay. And Jack asking for £135 to $239 (I kid you not).

I’d say anywhere between $90 to $110 is a good deal, after that it’s kind of down to how much you want them, but they do seem to be going fast.

Fun Factor - ***
Any kid could have a ton of fun with these, but it isn’t going to happen, they’re strictly pose and display, preferably behind glass. 

Mine have been on my dining room cabinet for the last couple of months and seem to draw people in like bees to honey, so you’ll be telling a lot of people ‘careful with that’.

Overall - ****
If you pre-ordered and got them for around the $100 mark I’d say they’re four star figures. I pretty much only collect 1/6 high end, so you’re getting a cracking deal compared to Medicom, but they’re nearly twice the price of SST, but also twice the quality, Hot Toys really have set another bench mark.

Score Recap:
Packaging – ***1/2
Sculpt – ****
Paint – ****
Articulation – ***3/4
Accessories – Jack**** Sao ***1/2
Outfit - Jack **** Sao ***3/4
Fun Factor - ***
Value – ***1/2
Overall – ****

Where to Buy - 
???Many US stockists may still have it, SST have them on pre-order for a $134.99 and I’m sure you’ll find them on eBay, but always check sellers profiles and feedback, there are a lot of pirates out there, Arrrrggh!   Happy hunting!

Here's some more sponsor suggestions:

- Alter Ego Comics has either for $121.49.

- Dark Shadow Collectibles his a pre-order price of $121.50, and Elizabeth is at $112.50.

- Amazing Toyz is also at $122, and $112.50 for Ms. Swann.  Do you see a trend?

- CornerStoreComics has the pre-order at $122 as well, and Elizabeth is again at $112.50.

- and you can also order all of them through Sideshow Collectibles - (Jack Sparrow 12-inch Figure - Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End); (Sao Feng 12-inch Figure - Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End ); and (Elizabeth Swann 12-inch Figure - Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End)

Figure from the collection of Jeff Parker.

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