All of this intrigue got my conspiracy wheels turning and I came up with 2 possible explanations for my
Dragon-esque figure: 1) Action Trend is a company that either copies or coincidentally makes figures eerily similar to Dragon, or 2) Action Trend is some kind of subsidiary of Dragon that distributes figures when the licensing around characters gets sticky. Now I can’t substantiate either of these claims, and it could be that I just have too much time on my hands… but either way something is fishy here. Anyway, without further ado, on with the review…
Packaging - ****
I usually could care less about packaging; as long as I can free my figure in a reasonable amount of time and fit the crumpled box into a sack I feel alright. However this is one of the rare exceptions where I actually feel compelled to keep the packaging. The graphics on the front and back are attractive with images very reminiscent of the film. Also the packaging is very collector friendly (just a few twist-ties) with nice tray inserts that hold the figure and accessories well. And since it’s not ginormous it stores easily away.
Sculpting - ***
Here’s where Jet Li runs into some troubles. There is only one area of sculpting on the figure; his noggin’ and unfortunately something is just not right. But it’s very hard to put my finger on the problem. When you scrutinize the head-sculpt next to a picture of Li everything seems right. His eyes look good, shape of the face is correct… heck they’ve even sculpted pock marks on his cheeks! Believe me, in person the sculpt looks better, but for whatever reason it’s just off. I waffled between **1/2 and *** and ultimately decided that the detail and quality of the head-sculpt were enough to warrant the higher score.
Paint - ***1/2
The paint applications on Jet Li are excellent. There is absolutely no slop to be found and the areas where hair and skin meet are very well defined. Also his eyes are nice and straight and there are enough facial details, such as a hint of a five o’clock shadow, to give him some character. My only nit is that they decided to go with bendy hands which are unpainted and made of a shiny, slightly darker plastic that doesn’t match-up with Jet Li’s skin tone. Not a huge deal but enough to take away from the overall presentation.
Articulation - ***1/2
If you are familiar with Dragon bodies there should be no real surprises here. And while there is some question as to the pedigree of the figure (see above mystery) the base body matches the one on my Jackie Chan Dragon figure. He has all the articulation you would expect with the all important ball-jointed neck that works pretty well (it’s slightly hindered by the sculpted hair). My figure does have a few loose joints and typically holds poses really well, but the heavy sword that accompanies him can makes it difficult at times. Also the aforementioned bendy hands are cool for their possibilities, but aren’t great for holding his sword (no jokes please).
Accessories - ***
Jet Li only comes with one accessory, but it’s the only one he needs: his trusty sword. I wish all 1/6 weapons could be this cool. Not only is the blade and hilt die-cast, but the sheath is actually made of wood! What will they think of next? Also the size and design match the source material really well. But, of course with higher-end 1/6 figures you expect to get a couple more accessories and this hurts the overall score. I would have appreciated a couple of arrows or maybe the broken tip of Sky’s weapon.
Outfit - ****
This is an area where the figure really shines. Jet Li comes in the trademark black number that he wears throughout the movie. It is very well tailored and looks great. I think the some of the fabric may be a little thick, but that’s a small concern and doesn’t interfere with the articulation. A nice touch is the boots, which are made of a thick fabric with rubber soles that are flexible enough to allow ankle movement. Now if you’ve seen the movie you know that color plays a big role in how the story is told. Because of this, Jet Li actually comes with a second red outfit (with matching boots) representative of the one he wears while defending the calligraphy school! Now, I have to admit I hate to undress figures, they just never look right afterwards. So, I haven’t gotten up the gumption to pull him apart and try out the new duds, but if you are into that or kit-bashing this will be a good choice for you.
Fun Factor - ***
I think he’s a cool character from a great movie, but I doubt too many kids are down with foreign cinema; even if Tarantino brought it here. However if you just treat him as a generic Ninja or Samurai I think he would work well as a filler character and he’s sturdy enough to withstand play. Just watch the kiddy’s eyes with the die-cast sword!
Value - ***
I got this figure dirt cheap off of eBay for $17 with shipping. The MSRP from Action Trend is $73.99 and that’s way too high for this figure, but on eBay he typically sells for closer to $40. At around $40 I think that you’d be getting a good deal on this figure. The quality is there especially, in the clothing and accessories. And being this is the only official (although possibly semi) Jet Li out there I think that price warrants ***.
Things to Watch Out For:
I honestly I can’t think of too much and you’re not likely to find him brick and mortar stores to pick the best paint apps or check for loose joints. The only consideration I would give is that you want to be sure whether or not the head-sculpt is good enough for you to drop the cash on this figure.
Overall - ***
I had considered giving this figure a slightly lower score based on the likeness of Li being off. But in all fairness, the head-sculpt is definitely better than average and the figure of “nameless” from Hero is very well executed. Also, when displayed Jet Li looks really great on a shelf with other 1/6 scale figures. So if you like Jet Li and collect 1/6 stuff I think this is probably the best and most affordable option you’re likely to have available. And hey, at the very least you can buy into a little bit of Dragon/Action Trend mystery with this figure.