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Bolt Maquette
Gentle Giant

Bolt maquette statue by Gentle Giant


Since the release of Toy Story in 1995, one company has dominated animated films - Pixar. They wrested the mantle of supremacy away from Disney, a company that pretty much owned animation for 50 years. Goliath had gotten the smack down from Samson, and he didn't like it.

And what do corporate Goliath's do to uppity Samson's? Why, they buy them of course, which Disney did to Pixar at the beginning of 2006. Since then the collaboration has actually been a good thing, bringing more heart and skill to the Disney franchise, and apparently not hurting the creativity or style of Pixar.

For proof, look to the 2008 animated film Bolt. Disney incorporated new animation techniques to give the characters a realistic look, yet the backgrounds have the lush look and feel of traditional hand painted animation. It's one of Disney's best looking films of the last several years, with an exciting plot that is fun for both kids and adults. It's only failing was the use of 'real' actors for voice talent, especially in the casting of John Travolta as Bolt himself. Don't believe me?  Exhibit A - the character that steals the film is Rhino the hamster, voiced by Mark Walton. Mark is a story artist with Disney, and has a limited voice acting background, and yet he gave Rhino tremendous personality.
Bolt maquette statue by Gentle Giant
Bolt maquette statue by Gentle Giant
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Bolt maquette statue by Gentle Giant
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Bolt maquette statue by Gentle Giant
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Bolt maquette statue by Gentle Giant
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Bolt maquette statue by Gentle Giant
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Bolt maquette statue by Gentle Giant


This review isn't about Rhino though - it's about the new maquette from Gentle Giant of the little dog Bolt. This is the second of three Disney/Pixar films that Gentle Giant is producing maquettes from. The first was Wall-E, which I reviewed a few weeks back, and the next is Ratatouille. These other two films actually got two maquettes, Remy and Linguini, and they produced a Wall-E and Eva maquette as well.

I haven't heard if Gentle Giant will be pursuing other film characters, and since the deal is with Disney post Pixar purchase, there may be separate licensing issues with earlier Pixar films. As much as I'd really love to see this line continue and expand to include other licenses (I'd kill puppies - or at least I'd speak to them harshly - to get a Dreamworks Kung Fu Panda in this style), I suspect it's not going to happen. Initial response to these has been cool, resulting in VERY limited editions. Yea, they always say 'limited' editions, but this time they really mean it. The Wall-E and Ratatouille maquettes were limited to just 550 each, while poor Bolt here is just 250!

Packaging - ***
With maquettes, you rarely get windows on the boxes, unlike busts. That means you'll have to hope for the best as to the contents.

Fortunately, the interior foam is extremely sturdy, and Bolt doesn't have any tiny parts that could easily break in shipping.

There's also the usual cool baseball card style Certificate of Authenticity that includes the edition number. The edition number is also printed on the bottom of the box, as well as the bottom of the maquette itself.

Sculpting - ***1/2
The more realistic style of modern CGI animation (as opposed to something like the Simpsons or the old WB cartoons) allows for far more detail in characters on screen. That translates into a lot more detail in any physical representation of the characters, usually making them better subjects for collectibles.

Bolt has sculpted fur, with very good fine detail in the hair and edges. The work around the ears is particularly nice, and it adds quite a bit to the visual effect.

The proportions are great, capturing his slightly big headed appearance perfectly. The name tag does say 'Bolt', but it's a bit tough to see without any sort of wash to bring out the sculpted letters.

The bolt itself on his fur is sculpted as well, rather than just painted on, and while this is usually a nice touch, I think I'd have preferred them going with the painted only look - that's the way it was in the film, and it would have looked a little more natural on his back here. The sculpted edge takes away a bit from the accurate look of the overall maquette, but it's a very minor quibble.

Paint - ***
In person, there's not too many major paint issues. On close inspection, you can find some slop around the collar, particularly where the fur overlaps, and some of the cut edges around the eyes and nose could be a tad cleaner, but you have to look pretty close to notice.

My two favorite aspects of the paint are the nicely done pink ears, and the slight cream wash given to the white fur. The cream color adds some depth to the sculpted fur, and takes away the harsh edge that a bright white would have had.

At first, I had an issue with the color of the bolt itself. My memory had it pegged as black in the film, but I was wrong. They actually got the color pretty accurate, although I still would have preferred it to look like painted fur rather than a separate sculpted piece on his back.

Another nit is with the catch lights in the eyes. They've added them, but with the glossy coat of paint they used it's really not necessary. You'll notice in the very first photo that the room lights are providing catch lights on both eyes, and then there's also this perfect white circle off to the left. Over time, I've become a bigger proponent of leaving off these painted dots and allowing a glossy finish to create them more realistically.

And my final nit is with the name tag. The word Bolt is sculpted there, but it's very, very difficult to see in person. A black wash would have brought it out nicely, and would have even been more screen accurate.

Design - ***1/2
The one negative you may have with the overall design is that the maquette is attached to the base permanently. I know some people prefer to have them as two separate pieces, but I'm fine with the single piece design here, particularly since the base doesn't have an annoying name plate. Both of these things are in contrast to their Wall-E maquette, who a) did not come attached to the base and b) has an annoying name plate.

I think the designed pose captures the whimsical and mischievous attitude of Bolt perfectly. He exudes confidence and optimism, with enough of a dynamic look to his body pose that you also get the feel of action without anything extreme or silly. You couldn't ask for a better designed pose.

My only quibble here is with the base. Like Wall-E, they went as plain as possible - no problem there. The only issue is that I'd like consistency. With Wall-E, the base was boring but related to the film and character and had a nameplate. Here, it's boring but done in a very traditional black style, having nothing to do with the character or film, and lacking a name plate. Either give us environment type bases, or give us plain black bases, either use nameplates or don't (my preference), but make up your mind.

Value - **1/2
These maquettes haven't been cheap, but unlike Remy and Wall-E, who started out at over $100 each at retail, you should be able to find Bolt at $90 or less. At least for now - I suspect that once people figure out how limited these are, they'll get tough to find fast.

Things to Watch Out For -
Not a thing.

Overall - ***1/2
While I have a few minor quibbles with the sculpt and design, it's really the paint that's the only area that needs improvement. Even there, the issues are fairly minor, and overall my impression of the maquette on the shelf is extremely positive.

In fact, I'd line up to buy a series of these from modern animated films in a heartbeat, especially Kung Fu Panda or Monsters vs Aliens. Yes, they aren't Disney, but that doesn't stop me from dreaming. We already have the Up vinyl figures coming from Medicom, and they look about the right size to go with these...

But if you are thinking about picking these up, I'd do it now. With edition sizes like these they won't last too long, and the folks buying them will be collectors, not dealers, so even finding them on ebay in a couple months may be tough.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpting - ***1/2
Paint - ***
Design - ***1/2
Value - **1/2
Overall - ***1/2

Where to Buy -
Finding him might be a bit tricky at this point. Online options include these site sponsors:

- Big Bad Toy Store has him in stock right now for $90.

- Entertainment Earth still has him listed as 'coming in October' at $83.50.

- for the UK folks, Forbidden Planet has him listed at 80 GBP.

Related Links -
I've covered lots of animated properties over the years, but the most directly related here is the other maquette by Gentle Giant in their Disney/Pixar series, Wall-E. I'll also be looking at Remy very soon.

Discussion:
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Bolt maquette statue by Gentle Giant


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

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