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Tron Sam Flynn and CLU
Spin Master

Tron action figures by Spin Master


One of the highlights of the last two San Diego Comic Cons was Flynn's Arcade, set up for visitors to play some classic arcade games, then see set props and other special items. This last year they really outdid themselves with an uber-cool 'bar', with designs right out of the film.

There are only a few films each year that truly have the potential for action figure gold. For every Iron Man there's four Prince of Persias. But this year, that potential gold is all wrapped up in Tron, a film that could entice the under 15 crowd in a way the lackluster Last Airbender simply couldn't.

Spin Master managed to grab the rights to do toys, a huge coup for them, since Mattel and Hasbro tend to snag the action figure treasures, leaving the scraps for everyone else. Spin Master also did the toys for the Last Airbender, and while some of the figures (like the large scale Aang) were pretty bad, the overall work on the small 4" line was solid, if not exceptional. Tron is their chance to really shine - literally.

The 4" series includes quite a few figures in this first wave, and I'd expect more to come. I'm checking out two of the key characters tonight - Sam Flynn, the son of Kevin and main protagonist of the new film, and CLU, his father's cyber alter ego.

These are hitting most major retailers right now, and run around $10 a pop.
Tron action figures by Spin Master
Tron action figures by Spin Master
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Tron action figures by Spin Master
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Tron action figures by Spin Master
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Tron action figures by Spin Master
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Tron action figures by Spin Master
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Tron action figures by Spin Master
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Tron action figures by Spin Master
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Tron action figures by Spin Master
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Packaging - **
Like the larger figures, the cardbacks and bubbles are pretty standard stuff. The logo from the film is prominent, and they've included some character personalization by way of the insert.

These would have been straight B work, three stars, except for one annoyance. The Try Me hole is in front - but the actual button is in back. The intention is obvious enough - by pressing the front, the figure presses against the cardback triggering the button. However, the button sits up pretty high, and you have to press the front of the figure just right to get it to work. At first, I thought there was something wrong with the light up feature until I figured out the issue. How many parents will leave them behind though, not sure if there's something wrong with the figure or not? This is an excellent example of a package that can actually hurt sales, and one of the few examples of a poorly designed Try Me feature that I've seen.

Sculpting - ***
Sculpt detail is one of the few things that improves with shrinkage. A figure that doesn't have a ton of detail at 7" looks a lot more intricate at 4". That's the case here, and the frugal amount of texturing and edging that's cut into the figure goes much further.

These still aren't at the level of some recent figures we've seen in this scale, but it's appropriate for the license and design.

Proportions are generally good, especially on the CLU figure. Sam has a bit of a pin head, but it's not as bad as what we saw with the A-Team line, for example.

The hands are sculpted to work fairly well with the accessories, and the figure stand right about 4", which allows them to fit in nicely with most other modern lines in this scale.

Paint - CLU ***1/2; Flynn **1/2
There's not a ton of complexity when it comes to the paint work on CLU, since the majority of the figure is cast in black plastic. But the painted lines are generally clean with sharp edges, and the high gloss face plate looks great.

Flynn is a little sloppier around the blue lines, but not so much as to lose a full star on CLU. The work on the suit is reasonable, if not outstanding, and certainly up to current mass market standards.

But something went wrong with the face, especially the eyes. Thankfully the clear face mask obscures some of this, particularly in this small scale, but the sloppy face work is the one thing that really makes him stand out as inferior to the other figures in this first series.

Articulation - Flynn ***1/2; CLU **1/2
The articulation on these figures is quite good, with all the joints here you'd expect with the exception of a cut waist. Since the waist joint was lost so that the light up feature could be added, the trade off is one most folks will be happy with.

There's a ball jointed neck, and while the post is a little short, it does allow for some tilting and personality. There's also ball jointed hips and shoulders, with posts on both sides of the ball, allowing the thighs and biceps to turn as well.

The elbows and knees are single disc pin joints, and the elbows allow the forearm to turn as well. Cut wrists finish off the arms, while pin/post ankles allow for good foot mobility.

The figures stand great on their own in a wide variety of poses, and with the included display stands you can also manage some gravity defying stances.

CLU ended up losing a big star here, however. Right out of the package, his head snapped off. It took very little force too, as I've learned over the years how easy it can be to damage pins and posts. In fact, I was so careful with his deluxe cousin, that I didn't even find the pin knees and ankles until someone told me to push harder on the joints. Yet, a very soft turn of CLU's head resulted in it coming off in my hand, which is a huge issue with a toy like this. 

Kids are the intended audience, and they have no patience with stuck joints. They won't be tentative taking him out of the package, and they won't be tentative testing his posability. If the pegs and posts aren't sturdy and/or are painted stuck, they'll snap them like a twig. Hasbro learned their lesson long ago - actually, Kenner did - and the toys they produce in this scale show it. Spin Master has to be sure they avoid basic quality issues like this, because if a parent buys one of these figures and their son or daughter breaks it right out of the package, it's the last Tron toy they'll get.

I've got my fingers crossed that my figure was an anomaly, and that the majority won't have this issue. Unfortunately, you won't know til you open yours so be sure to take some extra care. I reglued the head in place, allowing me to take the photos, but losing that joint is a big issue overall.

Accessories - ***
These don't come with a ton of extras, but both have three accessories, and they are sensible additions.

Both come with a small display base, complete with two posts for their feet. These bases are designed to look like the identity discs, which was an obvious but reasonable choice.

They also both come with one of the identity discs. These are color coded to the striping on their outfit.

Flynn has a baton as well, while CLU comes with a sword. Both of these weapons fit nicely in their hands, as do the discs. The yellow blade on the sword is a nice touch, again matching the 'energy signature' of the character. I'm assuming that in the film, the blade will be an extension of that energy rather than a metal blade.

Light Feature - ***
Both light up features work well, at least once they are out of the package. The button sticks out a bit on the back, but appears to be part of the costume. In fact, the disc fits over the button perfectly and it would have made a great spot for him to carry it, but alas, there's nothing to allow it to stay in place.

The battery compartment is easy to get to, and the LED lights are fairly bright. Of course the blue on Flynn is brighter to the human eye than the yellowish-orange of CLU, but both work well.

The button turns on the light, and then it turns itself off after about 30 seconds. There's no way to keep the light on, but that does mean little Johnny won't run the batteries out the first day.

Fun Factor - ***1/2
As long as the weak neck joint that I found on CLU is not a more general joint issue for the series, these figures will be a lot of fun. The film will have enough conflict for creating plenty of play scenarios, good vs evil, and the solid articulation, sensible accessories, and light up feature all go a long way to adding play value.

Value - **1/2
At $10, these are on the high end for figures in this scale by a buck or two. Hasbro is doing nicer work slightly cheaper, but the light up feature is something you normally don't see. Adding that in makes the price reasonable, but not exceptional.

Things to Watch Out For -
Obviously, you want to watch out with the neck joints. If you're buying these for a child, make sure you open the package and carefully test it first. If a joint does seem stuck, put the figure in the fridge for about 30 minutes and give it another try. 

Overall - ***
As I said in my previous review, if you're looking for the best series of Tron Legacy toys for your kids, the 4" series is the way to go. The light up feature works well, the articulation is great, and the accessories appropriate.

Flynn (and the other 'human' figure in the first series, his dad Kevin) is the weakest due to the sloppy face paint and slightly undersized head. But even he is B work when compared with other lines in this scale.

CLU is much better, and had the potential another half star  overall had it not been for the broken neck joint. If you don't have this issue - or you pop him in the freezer for 30 minutes before trying to turn his head - you'll have a better end result.

All the fully 'armored' figures in this first series are good work, including CLU's Sentry and the Black Guard, and should be the figures that you try out first. If you're a completist, you can always swing back around and pick up this Sam and the regular Kevin, but they aren't quite as nice overall.

Score Recap:
Packaging - **
Sculpting - ***
Paint - CLU ***1/2; Flynn **1/2
Articulation - Flynn ***1/2; CLU **1/2
Accessories - ***
Light Up Feature - ***
Fun Factor - ***1/2
Value - **1/2
Overall - ***

Where to Buy -
These are now available at most mass market retailers, including Toys R Us, Target and Wal-mart.

Related Links -
I've checked out the larger deluxe Flynn figure, as well as had a guest review of the SDCC exclusive.

Discussion:
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Tron action figures by Spin Master


This product was purchased for the review by the reviewer. Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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