Barney Ross - The Expendables
Hot Toys

   "The following is a guest review.  The review and photos do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Michael Crawford or Michael's Review of the Week, and are the opinion and work of the guest author."

Hot Toys released their version of Barney Ross earlier this year, which I reviewed here. I have to admit that sometimes I'm a little slow on getting the guest reviews up, and Jeff has been pretty patient on this one - tonight he checks out the figure as well. Better late than never, I always say - take it away, Jeff!

OK, OK I have an admission to make; I still haven’t seen the Expendables… There are a number of factors that come into play as to why, with the most prevalent being that I just don’t fancy seeing it that much.

Like most I was pretty interested when it was first announced, and the line up of 80’s stellar has-beens looked like it could be the ultimate team up that we had all imagined back in the day… but then I learnt more.
Most of the old school stars I was interested in were to be making little more than ‘cameo’ appearances, and then I found out that Jason ‘The Stath’ Statham was going to get a sizeable part in the movie.

Now if one thing is going to put me off a movie it is the words Statham and Jason, the order is irrelevant!
Then I saw the trailer and I was taken aback at how ‘meh!’ I felt about the whole thing.

Since the release it kind of sank without trace here in the UK and ended up in the bargain DVD bins in most supermarkets. But even at those knock-down prices I couldn’t bring myself to add it to my movie library. So I’m just going to wait for it to hit TV, and then probably switch off half way through.

I’m sorry to those of you who liked it, and hey, it’s not you, it's me… but there ya go.

It was however a big enough success that Sly has decided to make at least one more sequel, scheduled for a release next year, and with Jean-Claude Van Damme, John Travolta and Chuck Norris rumoured to be on board, the testosterone levels will be surging even more ferociously!

So why do I have this figure in my collection I hear a collected chorus of voices cry… well, it’s simple. Just look at it. It might be from a movie I have zero interest in, but at the end of the day, when all is said and done, it is an amazing looking figure, with a fantastic portrait of the ageing Stallone by Ko Jun. Adding to that he has a chunkier muscle body developed to suit the character, another great paint app from JC Hong (incorporating some of the best 1/6th scale tattoos to date) and then throw into the mix a set of accessories and firepower that would make Charlton Heston drool, so its an obvious no brainer!

Packaging - ****
From a graphic design angle this is just a peach of a box, helped hugely by the very cool ‘Angel of Death’ poster created for the movie seen here, an image of dark macabre beauty juxtaposed on the clean white sleeve that protects the contents. But then we get to the inner box, which again has an inherent simple purity. It’s kept minimalist, but the intricate die-cut skull design window is exquisitely carried out, and gives a good look at the contents held carefully within.

The interior is the classic vac formed tray, holding the figure, accessories and various outfit pieces safely and in a 100% collector friendly environment. Love it!

Sculpting - ****
Ko Jun seems to have become a bit of a work horse at Hot Toys of late, and not only is his work prolific, but it seems to be getting ever more impressive with each new likeness we get from him. It does have to be said that Sly is something of a godsend to a sculptor, as he has a big old extreme meaty and characterful face to really get your teeth into. But that is in no way to detract from this stunning piece of work that Ko Jun has produced.

He captures his slightly chunkier and post face-lift visage to near perfection, capturing those devilish arched eyebrows and little goatee with all the preened precision in which they were actually plucked, trimmed, shaped and shaved in the real world. This is a hard man who takes his beauty regime seriously. But it’s all here, every wrinkle, skin pore and individual whisker come together to give us an expression that is both determined and focussed, and quite simply beautifully rendered. Then to add the finishing touch, they also give us a new chunkier muscle body complete with texturing and a selection of seven hands… clean out of the park!

Paint - ****
Once again Hot Toys lead the way in not only showing us how naturalistic a factory applied paint app can be on the flesh-tones, eyes and hair. But they then show some simply incredibly intricate work in replicating the complex tattoos that Sly sported covering his upper arms and shoulders in the movie as well.

All the traditional paintwork on the skin colouration for the face and upper torso match well tonally, it illustrates lots of finely carried out detail within the subtle graduations and carefully picked out beard and hairline, and of course the wet look eyes. All are executed to the usual very high standard that must keep many of their competitors on the verge of utter despair! But execute it they do, and so consistently that it makes you wonder just how they actually manage it?

The amazing ‘ink’ he wears on his shoulders is the part that really sets this figure apart though. Looking closely I’m sure some kind of mechanical transfer must have been used, but it still works an absolute dream. And even though I wouldn’t want to pass anything too abrasive over its surface, it still seems pretty sturdy, and more than up to ‘responsible’ handling.

Articulation ***1/4
As Sly slips into the Autumn of his years he is not going without a fight, and for a guy of 65 he looks nothing short of bloody amazing (OK 63 when he working on the movie but lets not quibble about 2 years). So to represent his still ripped but more bulky physique Hot Toys have given him a thickset and sturdy new muscle body. It’s a very similar in construction and design to the one we got on both the recent Arnie’s as the T800, so you should all have a fair idea of the limits of its articulation. It’s fair to say it is a lot more inhibited than a classic TT, but considering how good it looks, its functionality is still very good, and you’ll get a great range of poses out of it.

Outfit - ****
Barney comes with 2 complete outfits, but three complete looks. Obviously look one is how he looks fresh from the box. Combat boots, cargo pants and bare torso to show off the tatts.

Look 2 is wearing the same boots and pants but with the black T-shirt and black tactical vest. I have heard of a few nightmare stories of people unzipping the vest (Michael included) but under NO CIRCUMSTANCES do it this way, look at the instructions provided and approach slowly and with care.

You simply have to loosen the side straps fully, undo the Velcro tabs over the shoulders, remove the boots and then slide the vest up over his legs. Make sure the T-shirt is already on and tucked in and then all you need to do is tighten the side straps (tweezers help make this a far easier task), re-velcro the shoulder tabs (tucking the tabs into the webbing straps provided) and after a little futzing you are good to go.

The tailoring is all well observed, and the detailing and fit work perfectly with the base body. All the tiny buckles and clips are working, as are the pockets on the trousers. He also comes with a pair of goggles, sunglasses and a beret to complete the look. The beret hugs the head well, as do the goggles, but I did find the sunglasses looked a little too bulky for my liking, so they will be staying in the box.

His third look is a more casual outfit, and although it is well made I can’t see many people wanting to display him in it, as it’s basically a rather naff look (think about that guy you know in accounts coming to the works BBQ… yeah, that’s the look). So ultimately it’s nice to add a spare T-shirt and a pair of jeans to your ‘bash box’, but with the option of the cool combat gear or showing off the tatts, you’d be half crazy to go for this option. Unless of course you are a hardcore ‘The Expendables’ fan and have splashed out on three figures so you can get all three looks… but even then, I think this is a ‘look’ too far!

It’s relatively easy to get this outfit on, but I recommend removing not only the combat trousers but also the under shorts before fitting the jeans on, as I found they bulked up too much and made closing the Velcro fly too tight.

So I award a full score when based on the black-ops tactical look, the casual garments are just a nice bonus.

Accessories - ****
A lot of these pieces also belong in the outfit category, but as Barney comes shirtless in the box to show off those impressive tatts, all the bits that are packed separately kind of also become ‘accessories’ meaning he has one hell of an impressive list, comprising of-

- One pair of gloved gun-grip hands
- One gloved right hand for gripping riffle
- One pair of gloved fists
- One un-gloved right hand for holding gun
- One un-gloved right fist
- Two pistols with holsters
- One revolver with holster
- One assault rifle
- Two packs of magazines with pouches
- One wristwatch
- One pair of sunglasses
- One pair of goggles
- Two necklaces
- One bracelet
- Figure stand
- One black beret
- One black T-shirt
- One tactical vest
- One belt

And for the alternate ‘casual’ look we get…
- One V-neck green T-shirt
- One pair of pale jeans
- One brown belt

I pretty much went over all the clothing items in the category above, so for this section I shall be looking at the extra bits and pieces.

As far as his arsenal goes he’s packing a brace of modified Gold Kimber Combat II’s with articulated cocking mechanisms, hammer and safety catch, a custom single action .45 long Colt with a rotating cylinder and a cockable hammer, a Noveske Rifleworks Diplomat assault rifle with M68 Aimpoint red dot scope and Surefire M900 weapon-light fore-grip, which has an extendable stock, removable magazine, it can ‘break’ forward on a hinge at the mid-point and has an opening dust guard. And last up, for those up-close and personal encounters he has a huge combat knife strapped to his back, this has no articulated elements but still means business.

There are also a couple of necklaces, one is like a dog-tag next to a dagger while the other looks like Germanic iron-cross with a skull in the centre, both are highly detailed and made of real metal so the weight makes them hang convincingly too.

The goggles fit well, but ultimately they cover too much of the face to display him in them, and the sunglasses looked a little too clumsy when I tried to get the arms to sit behind the ears convincingly. The paint job for the shades on mine actually had a little over painting where the gold of the rims strayed onto the right lens, not a biggie, but It’s the first time in ages I’ve seen even the slightest over-painting on a HT product.

This shall not however influence my final score, as it’s a very minor mishap in an otherwise perfect landscape of accessories.

Oh, and there’s a figure stand too, its nice, its functional but best left in the box with the sunglasses!

Fun Factor - ***1/2
Obviously this is not for kids, and as such I doubt very many will be ‘played with’ (dependant on your definition of the word). However, it’s a very cool and badass figure that looks handsome on the shelf… your only dilemma will be shirt on… shirt off. For me it has to be dressed in the full tactical gear, and just be content that all that detailed work on the tattoos is nestled there out of sight.

Value for money - ***1/2
Those prices just keep creeping higher and higher, and although this figure has an amazing portrait, awesome paint apps, a great new body covered in tatts… and then also comes weighed down with a ton of great accessories, there is no getting away from the fact his RRP was a hefty $169.99.

That’s not a bad price, and in many ways it’s fair… but it isn’t a four star bargain either!

However, if you pre-ordered you may have saved $15 to $20 if you were lucky, and at $150 to $155 I’d have been sorely tempted to give him the full whack.

Overall- ***1/2
The price point is the only factor keeping this from a full score; every other category is pretty outstanding.
This is a pure and simple great action figure. It’s constructed robustly and I had no major issues what so ever, even the paint on the shades would be an easy fix if I ever planned to display him in them. He poses well and at this present time is the best representation of an ageing Sly Stallone available… but something tells me we may see a few more kick ass figures of this particular actor before too long, mark my words.

Where to buy
I’ve had this guy in hand since way back in March, so availability may be getting pretty scarce now.

However, I did find the sites sponsor Urban Collector has it in stock for the great price of $151.99 here but you better act fast.

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This product was provided free for the review by the manufacturer. Photos and text by Jeff Parker.

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