Apollo Astronaut Buck

There's been any number of astronaut figures produced over the years, going all the way back to the 60's.  Sixth scale is the perfect scale for this kind of figure, and the uniform possibilities are tremendous.

Dragon has just released their first astronaut, Buck.  He's an Apollo astronaut, the first in a series.  You can check out the plans at the Dragon site.

While not the first astronaut, this is definitely the a) most expensive and b) most accurate.  Dragon is well known for their attention to detail and accuracy on military and law enforcement figures, and space enthusiasts have been looking forward to Buck with tremendous anticipation.

There has been talk of further figures in the Space line for Dragon, although there haven't been any photos yet.  Buck retails for around $70, but you can do better at certain on-line stores.

Packaging - ***1/2
Dragon's usual excellent job.  The graphics are beautiful, and the huge double fold box allows for the display base.  The package is also completely collector friendly, but it's not all peaches and puppy dogs.

Dragon needs to take a hint from Sideshow and provide better text descriptions on the packaging.  The Apollo project is the perfect opportunity, but there's nothing about NASA or the space program included.

They also need to includes some instructions.  While Buck isn't the most complicated figure I've ever put together, it would have been quicker to have some basic instructions rather than figure out things on my own.

And last but not least, tape was used to hold the accessories in place on the plastic tray.  No surprise there.  But the tape was placed over the flag, and when I removed it, it pulled off some of the blue color of the field behind the stars.  I hate it when the packaging damages the figure or accessories.

Sculpting - ***1/2
Dragon does relatively straight forward sculpts, although this one bears more than a passing resemblance to a certain U.S. astronaut.  The sculpt is very clean, symmetric and detailed.  

The other area of sculpting is the hands and base.  The hands are the standard Dragon hands, and you'll likely dump them pretty quick in favor for the gloves.  But they work fine and look more than adequate.

The base is actually a pretty good sculpt, and looks like the surface of the moon.  I'll bash it around a bit on quality later in the Accessories section, but I can't really complain about the sculpt. 

Paint - ***1/2
There's not a lot of detailed paint ops here, and only the face, boots and gloves really have much in the way of paint application at all.

However, all the paint ops that are present are very clean and neat.  There's no slop, and Dragon did an excellent job on the skin tone, an area where they don't alway succeed.  There's no zombie appearance, and Buck doesn't have that shiny look either that plagues so many of the early Dragon figures.

Outfit - ****
There are four major pieces to the uniform - the LEVA (helmet), Pressure Garment Assembly (notice how they can't just call it a space suit?), EV gloves (extravehicular of course), and two different boots, the Pressure Suit boots and the EV boots.

Let's start with the LEVA.  The helmet is actually in two pieces, and inner and outer shell.  The inner shell snaps into the pressure suit, and looks great - but the fit is way too tight over the head.  I couldn't find any way to get it on without putting a lot of pressure on the nose, and I ended up with a rub mark on mine.

Once you have the inner shell on, you can pop the outer shell over it.  It doesn't actually connect to the suit as it did in real life, but just sits on the inner shell tightly.  It's a decent fit, and ends up looking okay, but for realism sake it would have been nice if it had actually connected.

The gold outer visor looks terrific, and there are two white side visors that can be flipped down to further protect the eyes.  There is also an inner visor of clear plastic.  All flip up and down relatively easily, and Buck looked terrific any number of ways.

The EV gloves are actually separate hands, and snap on and off using the standard Dragon method.  This is the best in the business, and works terrific.  As I said earlier, you'll likely dump the extra plain hands pretty quickly for the gloves.

There are actually two pairs of boots here.  The pressure boots are intended for use inside the ship, and actually attach to the pressure suit itself (in real life - here, they simply sit underneath).  The EV boots fit over the pressure boots, and are intended for use on the moon or outside the ship.  Both sculpts are excellent, and the outer boots slip on and off fairly easily.

The suit is the centerpiece of the uniform of course.  It fits extremely well, is made of a high quality nylon, and has just the right amount of padding to appear realistic.  The connectors on the front of the suit work smoothly with the various connectors, there's a nice pocket on the front left leg, and the details on the patches, buttons and other accoutrements is extremely good.

The suit actually uses all three types of closures - snaps, velcro and a zipper.  Now that's a suit that won't suddenly fly off!

Articulation - ****
There are three sixth scale bodies on the market that are as close to perfect as you can get - Sideshow, bbi and Dragon.  You might have personal preferences between the three - Sideshow may be too tall, Dragon too light, etc. - but I can easily see how exceptional all three are.

This figure has all the joints you could possible want - neck, ball jointed shoulders, cut biceps, double jointed elbows and knees, wrists, chest, waist, cut thighs, ball jointed hips, and ankles .  Dragon's body is light, but the joints are tight and hold poses extremely well.

Accessories - ***1/2
I'm counting four major accessories here, including the flag, lunar base, the Remote Control Unit (the pack on the front of his chest), and his backpack, made up of the Portable Life Support System (the bottom half of the backpack), the Oxygen Purge System (the top half of the backpack).

The backpack is made up of two plastic cases covered by material.  Nylon hoses run from the pack and are to be attached to the front of the suit.  The detail on both is excellent, and the hoses connect easily and tightly.  The pack fits on the back fairly well using the straps from the Remote Control Unit, and sits high enough on his back to allow him to stand easily.  One interesting note - there's tons of velcro straps on the backpack, clearly intended for use with various tools or equipment.  Too bad we didn't get any of that stuff as well.  Where would the space program have been without velcro?

The Remote Control Unit fits on the front, and attaches to the front of the suit with a nylon hose as well.  The details are also well done here, and while it took a few minutes to figure out the exact way to get everything hooked up, it wasn't that difficult.

The last two accessories are the flag and base.  The flag is pretty basic, although it feels cheap.  There is a plastic top rod to maintain the flag position, so that it stretches out fully just like in the old news reels.

The base was my biggest disappointment.  While it looks like the lunar surface, it feels extremely cheap.  It's hollow, and reminds me of packaging material more than a display base.  There's a hole for the flag, although it doesn't fit particularly well or stay standing particularly well.  There are also three foot prints to place Buck's feet, and they do their job well, allowing him to stand easily on the base.

There's also one minor accessory, his watch.  It fits outside the space suit, and uses velcro to attach the band to itself.  It's nice, although I would have liked to see some lunar tools over the watch.

Value - **1/2
There aren't too many $70 figures out there, even in the high end sixth scale market.  While the uniform is truly exceptional, I don't think it's seventy bucks exceptional.  Of course, this score is based on that suggested retail, but if you pay attention to my 'where to buy' section, I'll show you places where you can get it for less than $60, and that's far more appropriate.

Overall - ****
While the price is too high, and a couple tools would have been nice, overall this is an exceptional figure.  It blows away most other astronauts produced so far, and while the base is cheap it's a decent first attempt.  I'm really looking forward to future releases in this style. 

Where to Buy - 
I picked mine up on-line, at the place I could find the best buy - 

- The Battle Rhino had the best price I could find at $59.90 plus shipping.  They shipped it quick, and it was packed extremely well.

- War Toys has a decent price at $62.95 plus shipping.  Check under the boxed modern Dragon figures.

- also has a good price at $63 plus shipping.  I've gotten great service from them as well.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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