Yamato Western 12" Figures

I love western action figures.  Don't believe me?  Check out the Western Action Figure Archive - and you'll understand how bad I have it for the cowboys and cowgirls.  So when I heard these were being produced, I was extremely excited.

I've done a review of a previous Yamato product - the diecast .45 that they've had out for awhile.  Yamato is the distributor however, and these are actually produced by a company called Twilight Magic Works, as were the .45's.  They are in the line of 'Bounty Hunters' from this company, with more to come.  On the left above is 'George', clearly a Clint Eastwood head sculpt.  On the right is 'Kelly', not quite as obvious of a Sharon Stone head sculpt.  There are several more planned in this series - another female bounty hunter named Hanna, a Sheriff Jim, and an unnamed African Cowboy and Apache Girl.

Sculpts - ***1/2
Most of this score is for the Clint sculpt.  It's very nicely done, and quite recognizable.  Obviously the Sharon Stone sculpt isn't as good - however, if you ignore the fact that she's supposed to look like Sharon Stone, it's not all that bad.  She does have a bit too much of a Barbie doll look, but they did succeed in giving her a bit more serious expression.  Also, the rooting of the hair is very well done, and there is plenty of it.  The heads attach to the bodies in a similar manner to fashion dolls, rather than most 12" action figures, and swapping with a Dragon or Joe body won't be easy.

Packaging - **1/2
Not bad for a young company.  The graphics are nice, and I like the saloon doors working as a gate fold, opening up to reveal the rest of the figure.  Also, they've credited everyone on the back of the package, from sculptor to costume to package art.  That's a nice touch.  Unfortunately, the boxes are a little thin, making them prone to damage, and removing the figures requires damaging them as well since the accessories are contained in baggies taped to the inside insert. A couple small improvements and they could have some great boxes.

Articulation - ***
Not bad at all, although they certainly aren't at the level of Dragon or 21st Century.  As I mentioned, the neck post is poor, although the head has quite a bit of range of motion.  There's also ball jointed shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees, hips, waist and ankles.  Both figures stand fine on their own, and seem to hold various poses well.  Watch on Kelly though - if her feet aren't fully in the boots, she'll have a tendency to lean back to far.  Uh, I thought I'd also note that Kelly is anatomically correct.

Accessories - ***
For both figures, there is an extra set of hands included.  The hands they originally have are straight - the extra set are designed to hold the guns, although neither George or Kelly hold them particularly well.  However, the hands do come on and off fairly easily, but are tight enough to stay secure.

Both figures also come with revolvers, which are plastic (I was hoping for die cast).  The cylinders turn, and can be removed.  Both figures also come with spurs, which are close to useless.  There are no straps, and they are intended to stay on simply because the fit on the boots is tight.  Poor design there, and one of the few areas I was really disappointed.  

George also comes with a rifle, and the lever action moves, but I'd be careful - it looks mighty easy to break.  The rifle construction is decent otherwise, with a good looking if not perfectly accurate sculpt.  Last but not least, Kelly comes with a red sash and extra white cotton coat, done in a cattle hand style with an attractive flower print.  This is the nicest single accessory in the set, and certainly adds quite a bit of value to that figure.

Outfits - ***1/2
When I first saw pictures of these, they appeared to be too baggy.  I'm happy to say that for the most part, that isn't true.  Kelly's outfit is particularly nice.  The stitching detail on the pleather jacket is fantastic, the fit of the leather pants is great, and the shirt and vest make it seem in pictures like she's a bit bulky, but it's just the layers.  Likewise the boots fit well, and yet go on and off fairly easily.

George's costume is more plain, but still fits well.  The cotton shirt is an excellent reproduction of a farmers style during the western period of our history, and there are a pretty nice set of suspenders underneath the vest.  The material on the vest is a little thick, but not too bad.  His boots also look great, and his jeans and pleather chaps are terrific.  The quality on all these items is very high, with good hems and decent thread.

So why the not a **** rating?  I can sum it up in two words - holsters and hats.  The holster design is simply bizarre.  They used pleather to create the holsters, but the unusual style looks very odd.  Add to that the fact that they are slightly too big - it's not as bad as it is when they come out of the box, because they have the holsters riding waaaay to high on their hips - and they get a big hit here.

Ah, and these 'hats'.  I'm using the term loosely.  Again, they used pleather to make the hats, and unfortunately it was an experiment that turned out badly.  You'll need to find others, although I have managed to get Kelly's to work at least in theory.  George's is pretty much hopeless.

Value - ***
I paid $33 and $35 for these from Justice Fighters.  (  Keith packed them up right away, and I was pleased with the service.  They aren't quite as good a value as the better Dragon figures available for $35, they are certainly better than what we've been getting from 21st Century or Hasbro lately.

Overall - ***
At the start, I mentioned how excited I was about these being produced.  And the best sign is that I' still excited.  They certainly aren't everything I wish they were, but they are still certainly the best 1/6th scale western figures we've gotten in years.  I'm really looking forward the the next figures in this line, and have high hopes that Twilight Magic Works will learn from the few mistakes they've made.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford

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