Pirates of the Caribbean - Dead Man's Chest
Elizabeth Swan, Palifico, Bootstrap Bill

It's been awhile since Dead Man's Chest hit theaters, and it's definitely been the summer of pirate toys. The film has already made almost twice it's production cost just in domestic gross, and once all is said and done will probably earn more than 1 billion dollars world wide. With the third film scheduled to hit next summer, and the DVD release in between, it doesn't look like we'll see the fascination with pirates letting up any time soon.

I'm betting NECA is pretty happy about that. Their second series of action figures based on the DMC film (the also do figures from Curse of the Black Pearl, and should have figures for At World's End as well) have just started hitting stores. This wave includes a new Elizabeth Swan, this time in her pirate fatigues, along with the evil Palifico and the sadly cursed Bootstrap Bill. Oh, and there's another Jack Sparrow. Bet you couldn't have guessed that, eh?

I picked these up at a local Hot Topic, but I have some cheaper online alternatives listed at the end of the review. The online guys haven't gotten theirs in stock yet though, so they are still preorders at this point.

Packaging - ***
Clamshells, POTC inserts, pretty much more of the same. Clamshells are never going to get too poor of a score from me, unless they have a truly dull or atrocious insert, simply because they are so impervious to shelf damage, and show off almost the entire figure well. Unfortunately, you can't get a full appreciation for the bases that are included since they are hidden behind the figures. But the clamshell still does it's basic functions extremely well.

Sculpting - Palifico, Bill ***1/2; Elizabeth ***
NECA's sculpts are all top notch here.  Elizabeth takes a hit, but not for the reason some folks have had.  Nope, I always have to be a little different.

My favorite sculpt of the three is actually Bootstrap Bill, largely due to the amount of intricate detail on his face and clothing.  It's a decent match to the movie, and small details like the starfish on the side of his face, or the seaweed and barnacles growing on his back and shoulders are all extremely well done.  He does seem a smidge tall to me in comparison to Davy and Maccus, but it's not a major issue.  His hands aren't really intended to hold accessories, but there's a few he can grasp if you do it just right.  He also stands great on his own, partly due to the large, soft rubber jacket which runs down and onto the ground.

Palifico had the potential to be the best of the series, and they did do an amazing job on the detail work.  His snail-like stalk eyes look terrific, and the coral and sponge nature of his skin, especially on his head, is amazing.  The swords are sculpted into his hands, so it's probably a very good thing that he doesn't need to use the little pirate's room.  My issue with him is also one of size, but this time he's too small.  Standing next to the other figures, he has the least amount of physical 'presence'.  The bent knee stance doesn't help any either, making him about the same height as Elizabeth.

Finally, there's the aforementioned young lady in pirate clothes.  She's taken a lot of abuse for her head sculpt, but I think this is greatly over exaggerated.  It's not a perfect Kiera likeness, but it's not bad, and she is pretty close for this scale.  The hair sculpt is also great, an area that NECA has trouble with at times.

Nope, My problems are really ones of scale again.  She's very tall, taller than Jack and taller than several of the other men due to their bent knee poses.  If that was the only issue, she'd probably still be a ***1/2 star sculpt, but her hips are also much wider than her shoulders or chest, making her appear quite flat chested with very large thighs. The proportions through things off for me when I'm looking at her, but you may be more forgiving.

Paint - Elizabeth ***1/2; Palifico, Bill ***
Of the three, Elizabeth sports the best overall paint job.  The work on her face highlights and improves on the sculpt, with clean lips, eyes and eyebrows, and the small details on her clothing and accessories are extremely well done.  They've even added a dusting of mud and dirt just above her boots, which looks quite realistic considering the scale.

Palifico suffers largely from the same issues that Maccus had.  His palette is more limited, and the fewer colors means the detailed sculpt is not brought out as well.  Many of the small barnacles, crustaceans and even the spongy appearing texture blend in too much.  It's certainly not a sloppy job - cuts are clean and there's no bleed to speak of - it's just not one that does a particularly good job of bringing out the beauty of the sculpt.

When I first saw Bill in the package, it was the paint work on his face that had me worried.  The skin tone is pale, as you'd expect, but it looks a bit thick and cartoony.  The eyebrow over his left eye is also fairly wide, adding to some of the toy-like appearance of the face.  The work on the body is terrific though, and once I had him out of the package I appreciated the sculpt and the paint a lot more.

Articulation - **
These aren't exactly statues, but they have less articulation than some of the other POTC figures on the market.

Elizabeth has a ball jointed neck, and it works better than I expected.  The soft hair doesn't restrict it too much, and it adds a nice touch of personality to her poses.  She also has NECA shoulders (really cuts that allow for a little movement away from the body), cut elbows, cut wrists, cut waist, and cut knees at the top of the cool boots.  She can pose with the sword in either hand, in her basic tilted hip stance.

Palifico has a cut neck, NECA shoulders, cut wrists, cut ankles and a cut waist.  He could have really used cut elbows, and the bent knee stance he's stuck in exaggerates his short height.

Bill has the ball jointed neck as well, and like Ms. Swan, the hair doesn't restrict it.  He has NECA shoulders as well, with cut elbows, cut wrists, cut waist, and cut ankles up inside the boots.  He doesn't have much in the way of alternate poses, but the arms can be posed a bit along with the head.

Accessories - Elizabeth ****; Palifico, Bill ***1/2
These figures go along with the first series of Dead Man's Chest to complete some basic dioramas. Palifico and Bill have the remaining deck pieces to complete the diorama with the series 1 Jack and Davy. Bill's base is pretty straight forward, and he fits on the pegs just fine. He stands great on his own though, so that's a bit moot.

Palifico's base includes two levels, along with two of the softer railings. He's designed to stand on the upper section (that's where the peg is), but he stands just fine on his own, so you can place him anywhere you like. I thought he looked much better not using the peg.

Pally also comes with two barnacle encrusted swords of differing styles.  They technically aren't accessories though, since they are sculpted into his hands. He looks terrific posed with them in a number of fighting stances.

Billy has the heart and chest, originally planned for series 1 but bumped due to concerns over spoilers. The chest is really amazing, one of the nicest accessories in this scale I've seen in a long time. The sculpting detail is truly amazing, and the paint work accentuates it perfectly. I suspect a lot of people will buy Bill just to get the chest in the display.

When I first had him out and was shooting him, I thought there was just the chest and heart.  Later when I was showing them to my son, I opened the chest and - voila! - there was also the very tiny key! I have no idea where it was hiding in the chest when I looked the first time, but it's quite small so be on the lookout.

Elizabeth has her sword, hat, and her chunk of the island diorama. The sword fits in her belt as you'd expect, although the back half of the belt was glued shut on mine and I had to work it free first. The belt is also removable, if you're so inclined. The hat fits well and won't fall off easily, and she looks good either in or out of it.

But her real appeal is the base. Now, I know that I said a lot of folks wouldn't be completing the island set because you had to buy three figures you already have in earlier movie waves - Will, Jack and Elizabeth. But once I got the multi-piece base out that comes with Elizabeth, I realized just how cool the setup really is. The palm tree comes in three pieces, and towers over the figures.  Okay, it's not really in scale, but it still is twice the height of the figures, which ain't bad for an accessory. The tree is actually a separate piece from the base she stands on, and can stand fine on it's own. There's a third piece of grass that can be place to one side or another of the main base. Now that I have this one in hand, I suspect I'll have to go pick up Jack just to finish the set. He comes with another of these funky palm trees, and they'll make great accessories for other characters too.

Fun Factor - **1/2
If you're looking for kid's toys, I'd stick with the Zizzle or Disney lines. The figures from NECA are really designed for collectors, with basic posing and display in mind. The sculpts and paints are hot, but the figures and accessories wouldn't hold up to an afternoon of serious abuse from the average 7 year old.

Value - ***
While these are a generally average price point, running around $13 or so unless you buy them in the full set, the accessories take them up a notch. This is especially true for Elizabeth (and Jack, whom I did not review), because the bases they come with are so much more intricate.

And if you need to pick up Jack, either because you haven't gotten one yet or you want to finish the island diorama, then you can get these at around $11 at most online shops.

Things to Watch Out For - 
The hands on Elizabeth are very hard plastic, making it tough to put the sword into her grip without breaking it. Try bending the thumb back a ways, as it's easier than trying to bend the four fingers.

Also, I broke a wrist on Palifico, because they were painted so tight. Of course, the pegs are also soft plastic, so you can easily twist them til the break, which I did with the right one. Learn from my mistakes.

Overall - ***1/2
Of the two series of Dead Man's Chest figures, Davy Jones is my favorite. With a fantastic paint scheme and sculpt (although not exactly movie accurate in every way), he is a terrific looking figure. These three are nice additions, but all had their basic issues.

The paint work on Bill's face is a bit of a disappointment, as it took away from the sculpt itself. And while I think the Elizabeth Swan sculpt is better than some have been saying, the chunky lower body and extra height compared to the other characters hurt her overall for me.

Finally, there's Palifico. His smaller size and slightly odd sculpted stance kept him from reaching the same level as Davy, but he's still a solid figure. Even with their individual issues, they make a great looking display together, and the bases are all terrific. The diorama concept was a hit for me, although I don't have a place to display them yet and take full advantage.

In fact, if I were merely grading off the figures by themselves, they may have ended up at three stars. Each has enough issues, small as they might be, to cause the figure to lose some steam. But the terrific accessories, especially the palm tree and chest, make up for a lot of little things.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpt - Palifico, Bill ***1/2; Elizabeth ***
Paint - Elizabeth ***1/2; Palifico, Bill ***
Articulation - **
Accessories - Elizabeth ****; Palifico, Bill ***1/2
Fun Factor - **1/2
Value -  ***
Overall - ***1/2

Where to Buy - 
Hot Topic has been getting these in, and Spencers is another local option. Online options include:

- Amazing Toyz has the full set on pre-order for $44.

- CornerStoreComics also only has the full set so far on pre-order, at $44.

Related Links - 
Ah, there be lots of piratey goodness here:

- not too long ago, I reviewed the 12" Jack Sparrow from Zizzle, and had a guest review of the Will Turner.

- I reviewed the new cursed boxed set of Jack and Barbossa.

- there's a guest review of Elizabeth Swann and my review of the second cursed Pirate, as well as my review of Pintel at Movie Poop Shoot, and Regatti here.

- NECA did a full first series, including Barossa, Turner, Sparrow and a dead Pirate.

- they also did a terrific 18" version of Sparrow.

- Zizzle's line of 3 3/4" has gotten a review of some of the figures, along with a guest review of the Isla Cruces set, and the Pirate Fleet vehicles.

- Disney released some figures based on the actual park attraction, and not the film.

- Disney also has their own set of POTC figures out now at their stores, including Jack and Davy of course.

- Mezco recently released some very cool Pirate Mez-itz, not based on any license, but cool nonetheless.

- and if you like your pirates a little more 'real', there's always Blackbeard from Sideshow.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

This page copyright 2003, Michael Crawford. All rights reserved. Hosted by 1 Hour