Mez-itz Pirates

I'll let you in on a little secret that every little boy already knows - pirates are cool. They've always been cool, and they'll always be cool. It didn't take Johnny Depp to make them cool, he just drug them back out of the closet where they'd been stored for awhile, and dusted them off to let the world see once again just how cool they are.  Pirates and cool - two words that seem so right together.

There's a ton of pirate goodies out there right now, including the very nifty Pyrates from Mega-blocks. But there's always room for more, especially when you make them stand out.

Mezco has been talking about releasing a series of pirate Mez-itz for about 11 years now. Okay, not that long, but it has seemed that way to us big pirate fans. Mez-itz are their version of the mini-figure, and while it took some time for them to grow on me, they have become my favorite of the many different mini-figure styles.

So it's no wonder that I've been really anticipating the pirate versions. Thankfully, the are finally here, and I have a review of all four sets of three figures, for a grand total of 12 figures in this initial release. Each three pack runs $16 direct from Mezco, and they have a special offer right now where you can get a free 13th figure, "Scabby Joe", if you order all four sets

I normally wouldn't review 12 figures in a single review, but I couldn't resist doing all this swashbuckling goodness at once.  The four three packs include - 

Po Gye, Captain Garrot, and Fish-eye Jim (pictured first at right)

Claude Kross, Red Jack and Skull Tom (pictured second at right)

Goldmouth, Rummy Joe and Pepe Kross (third group picture down on the right)

Willy One-eye, Petey Stripes, and Zugbinnie (fourth group photo on right)

There's a ton of photos here, so be sure to keep scrolling down long past the written review to see them all.

Packaging -  ***1/2
Most of the packaging I've seen lately has been fairly dull. A lot of been there, done that has been floating across my desk. The card backs for these pirates are a nice change of pace, with a good old world appearance to the art, and photos of all the characters currently in the line.

Oh sure, you have to destroy the packaging to remove them, but that's a small price to pay. It means the MOCers will have to buy two sets if they want to play around with these, an unfortunate side effect often suffered by them.

Sculpt - ****
If you like your pirates rough and tough, with a nice dash of amputations, poor dental hygiene and plenty of attitude, then you'll love these guys.

The thing that won me over with Mez-itz was the cool sculpts that most other mini-figures lack.  This set of pirates really shows off just how excellent those sculpts can be, and take them to a higher level than most of the previous releases.

The heads all sport unique sculpts, except for Goldtooth and Willy One-eye, and the Kross brothers, who are just repaints of one another.  And when I say unique, I mean unique - there's beards and teeth and pony tails, and piercings, and just about every other possible variation on the pirate theme.

If they have hats, most are sculpted right on.  That's not the case for the two captains though, Red Jack and Captain Garrot, who have removable lids.

While the head sculpts are amazing both in detail and variety, the bodies show a lot more intricate additions than we've seen in some other Mez-itz releases.

There's coats on some of the figures, with belts and sashes and the occasional shirt.  There are three different style of legs - one plain, one booted (with a very cool boot) and one a peg leg - and these are used with great effect across the whole set.

Of course there's some reuse here where possible, and you can even mix and match to make your own.  But there's not enough reuse to make the display look repetitive, even with a whopping 12 figures in this first release.

Everyone is going to have their favorites of course, but the beauty of this set is that there's no losers. Everyone of them has enough of its own personality to make it unique and interesting.

Paint - ***1/2
The paint on these is a little rough - just like a pirate would be.  There's some wash on the bodies used to give the impression of dirt and mud, and some of the edges between colors are sloppy and uneven.  I'd usually really tear on something like that, and if it was an issue with the eyes, beards or other important details, I would.  But the slop that is here seems to actually work with the theme for the most part, more intentional than accidental.  This is a group of guys that hate musicals, kittens and long walks on the beach, and they aren't afraid to tell you.  They'd just as soon as eat your liver as take a bath, and the paint application actually works to help impart that feeling.

There are still some issues that keep it from a four star job.  These are areas, like the white and red on some of the shirts and belts that are bleeding into each other, or the small scar details with a little too much slop, that aren't quite as perfect as I still expect them to be.  But in general, the style of paint matches up well with the style of character.

Articulation - **1/2
Mez-itz have a standard set of articulation - ball jointed neck, shoulders and hips, with cut wrists and waist. The figures can be popped apart at all the joints, and parts can easily be swapped from one to the other for some crazy combinations. That's particularly cool with a line like the pirates, where any extras can be swapped around creating new versions all your own.

They aren't the most articulated of the mini-figures, but they do have all the required joints. The joints are also very sturdy, and less likely to break than some of the competition. While the parts pop off easily enough, they don't fall off at the slightest touch, so you won't be picking them up off the floor every time you move an arm or leg.

They also balance surprising well in a variety of poses.  I was able to even keep them standing on the peg legs with the other leg in the air, so they can definitely shiver their timbers.

Accessories - ***1/2
There's a nice assortment of accessories, something that's often lacking in the mini-figure arena.

Depending on the set, you get anywhere from four to six extras.  If you include the removable hats on the Captains, the number goes up even more.  There is some reuse, and you'll recognize a couple of the weapons, like the axe, in more than one package.  But none of the reuse is nonsensical, and there's actually less than I had expected.

There is a nice variety of weapons across the series.  There's several different swords, and axe, a bone knife, hand guns, a scatter gun, and even a giant mallet.  There's also more than one alcoholic beverage, a spyglass, several bags of gold, and even a cool little parrot with an eye patch all his own.  The accessories have enough variety to add to the display possibilities, and every one of them can fit in a pirate's hands.

Fun Factor - ****
Cool pirates with great accessories and good articulation - what more do you need for an afternoon of fun?  These guys *might* be a little more rough than you want for your four year old, but my kids loved them.  My son, who is almost 5, is going through his own 'pirate period', and when he saw these he went nuts.  They're a little big to visually fit in with Lego, Playmobil or Mega-blok pirates, but kids rarely worry too much about that.

Value - **
Cheap they ain't. At $18 a three pack, they run at least $1 - $4 more than you'd expect. A large part of that though is the lack of wide spread distribution. At this point, production numbers are probably very low, forcing the price point higher than average.

Things to watch out for - 
Not a thing! The paint application seemed pretty consistent across my set, and I didn't notice any particular areas of concern for breakage or other problems.

Overall -  ****
I'm going to admit my bias for pirate figures.  While I think Playmobil and Mega-blok pirates are very cool, they don't fit in with my display.  I've picked up plenty for my son, but really don't have much sea-faring goodness in my own collection.  These fit the bill perfectly though, complimenting the other Mez-itz I already have (and other mini-figures as well), and still ending up more 'toy' than 'sculpted pop culture collectible'.

Because of my bias, my overall score takes on a higher score simply because of that intangible 'cool' factor.  If I were utterly uninterested in pirates, and were merely grading these as a totally unbiased external observer, they'd probably get ***1/2 stars, losing enough on the value to hold them back.

But that's not the case.  They have that certain something that swashes my buckle, and trims my jib. and helps to compensate for the cost.  Obviously, your mileage may vary, but I think the photos speak for themselves.

If you have kids that love pirates, they'll have a lot of fun with this set.  They have some seriously mean weapons - with blood stains and all - so kids with a more delicate sensibility might not find them as interesting as some other kid marketed lines.  But I've found that it's rare that the kid has that delicate sensibility, but rather the parent.

If you are interested in picking these up, don't miss out on Mezco's great offer to get that free Scabby Joe.

Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpt - ****
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - ***
Accessories - ***1/2
Fun Factor - ****
Value - **
Overall -  ****

Where to Buy -
Right now your best bet is the Mezco Direct store, where you can get the free Scabby Joe figure if you order all four sets.

Related Links -
I have a few related reviews:

- first, if you like the Mez-itz style, check out these reviews of the Cinema of Fear series 1 and series 2, the second series of Monsters, Hellboy, Predator, and Army of Darkness.

- and if you like pirate toys, check out the Mega-bloks, or if you're looking for a more realistic pirate, how about Blackbeard from Sideshow?


Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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