Pirates of the Caribbean
18" Captain Jack Sparrow

In 1968, I took my first trip out to California. My parents and I visited Disneyland of course, when it was the only Disney park on the planet. One of my favorite rides was the Pirates of the Caribbean, which had only been open for a year. Back then this was seriously high tech, and to a young boy, it was remarkable.

The ride is now mostly nostalgia, with far more amazing and stunning attractions built every year at a myriad of theme parks. Somehow though, they managed to take this slightly silly, goofy ride and turn it not just into a movie, but a successful movie. Johnny Depp delivered a critically acclaimed performance as Captain Jack Sparrow, notorious pirate. It was such a good performance, it earned him a nomination for a Best Actor Oscar, and he's starring in the already 'in production' sequel.

What's more surprising than a great movie from a silly ride? A set of action figures based on a pirate movie! NECA picked up the license to POTC, and are producing both 18" and a 7" line of action figures. Tonight's review covers the 18" (or quarter scale) Jack Sparrow, who is actually available in two different versions.

The one I picked up has a serious face, while the other has a head sculpted in a wide smile. The choice is yours, and both figures also have motion activated voices, each saying different lines.

I found this guy at Media Play for $35, but I have a number of online options below as well. Shiver me timbers!

Packaging - ***
This box is similar to the other 18" packages we've seen from NECA over the last year. There's a huge window to show off the figure, plus some great text done in a very pirate style. There are photos of the various accessories and alternate head on the back, and the box should withstand shelf wear pretty well.

Sculpting - ****
Wow! This is beautiful work, some of the best produced by NECA this year. That's a big compliment considering the exceptional job they did with the Halloween box set, and the NMBC series. This is an excellent Depp likeness, or more importantly, Sparrow likeness. 

The large scale can help or it can hurt. Theoretically it should be easier to capture the small details of a particular sculpt in a larger scale. However, on the flip side, any mistakes in the sculpt, and any problems with proportion or features, and they will be glaringly obvious in such a large scale.

But it's not simply the likeness that's amazing! It's the clothing, hair, and extras that come together to make this figure look exceptional on the shelf. The hair is braided, with his trademark pirates bandana. The ties can be somewhat adjusted in back, although they are soft plastic, to have them sticking out more or laying down closer to his head.

The various pieces of clothing have tremendous detail, and I'm particularly impressed with how his sash belt is part of the permanent body sculpt, and yet was done with room to slip his pistol inside. Everything looks great, from the boots to the billowing sleeves of his puffy jacket.  Different textures are used in different areas, like the  cross hatching on his coat to make it appear cloth, and a worn scoffing on the boots to make them appear like leather.

The outer most items of clothing (jacket, bandana tails, sash tail, scabbard belt, etc.) are done in a much softer, rubber like material. This material gives them more play, and looks more like actual cloth.

The hands are sculpted to hold the various accessories, and the right also has his ring on the index finger. The hand sculpts look great, and work well, including the swappable left hand.

The figure stands great on his own, but you'll have to adjust the feet to that perfect spot to keep him standing indefinitely. He needs to be a little duck footed to be perfect, but not so much that anyone will notice.

Scale is about right, and Jack will fit in well with other quarter scale plastic figures like the Crow, Hellraiser or Hellboy. The sculpt along on this bad boy is going to put him in my top three for best quarter scale figures this year.

Paint - ***1/2
Like the sculpt, the paint has been used to give the impression of different materials and textures.  As is usually the case with NECA products, there's a liberal use of wash, both to highlight detail and to provide shadow.

All the colors are very clean and consistent.  There's absolutely no issues with bleed, poor definition, or slop.  Of course, the large scale helps to some degree, but there's enough small detail work here, such as the belt buckle, facial hair and rings, to put NECA to the test.

Articulation - **1/2
Nobody will claim he's super articulated, but he does have enough joints to allow for decent posing.

He has a ball jointed neck, although the hair and beard do get in the way a tad with using it to its fullest. He also has ball jointed shoulders, cut elbows, wrists, and cuts at the top of his boots. There are no hip or thigh joints, to keep the smooth line of his pant legs.  A waist joint just below the sash would have been nice, but you won't gnash your teeth over the lack.

Most of your posing will come from the arms, where you can pose him brandishing his sword or pistol, or waving his bottle of rum about.

Accessories - ***1/2
There are technically four accessories, although a fifth item that is non-removable can really be considered an accessory as well.

There's the additional left hand I mentioned earlier, done in an open sculpt. It's a nice look to go with the always closed right hand.

Then there's the flask of rum, pistol and sword. All three of these can be held in the standard hands, while the pistol fits inside the sash and the sword fits inside his scabbard on his left side.

There's also a triangle pirate hat, sculpted to fit perfectly in his head. It's a nice snug fit, without being so tight as to damage the paint.

Finally, there's that special item on his belt - his compass. It's tied to his belt with a string, so I supposed you could untie it if you were masochistic enough. The detail work on the compass is quite surprising, and there is a small clasp that can be flipped up, allowing you to open the lid. It's a really nice addition, and the string is long enough that you can actually put it in his right hand, lid open, and keep it on his belt.

Talking Feature - ***1/2
Like the majority of the NECA 18" figures, Jack talks. He has a motion sense on the front of his body, along with an on/off switch on his back. Once switched on, he'll say one of six phrases from the film, anytime he senses something moving in front of him:

- I'm Captain Jack Sparrow
- Can you sale under the command of a pirate, or can you not?
- I swear on pain of death, I shall take you to the Black Pearl.
- Do you have the courage and fortitude to follow orders and stay true in the face of danger and almost certain death?
- To the Black Pearl!
- I'm going after the Black Pearl.  I know where it's going to be, and I'm going to take it.

The voice box is clean and loud, with no distortion or scratchiness. This is a nice addition to the figure, and helps ease some of the sticker shock. The smiling version of Jack comes with different lines than these, but I haven't yet heard what those are.

The motion sensor is also well hidden, with just a small hole in the belt.  Unlike some figures, where we've had larger grid holes or obvious speakers, these are hidden well.  In fact, I'm not exactly sure where the speaker is, because I didn't want to pull the coat off too far.  It looks like it's above the battery compartment, perhaps off to his right.  It's well hidden, and yet sounds clear, loud and clean.

Fun Factor - ***
This isn't exactly a toy to play with, but it's not exactly one you can't play with either.  It's extremely sturdy, and it's very unlike that the figure himself is going to break.  The sword or compass might have problems, but for the most part, a kid that loves pirates could have fun with this figure, especially if he has other figures in this large scale.

Value - ***
Even at $35, this is a nice, solid value. You won't feel like Ebenezer when you buy him, but with such a huge figure, in solid plastic, with great accessories and a nice voice feature, you won't feel ripped either.

Overall - ****
I went back and forth and back and forth on this score for two days.  Was it four stars?  Was it three and a half?  

It is such a close call for me - it's right on the edge.  Finally, my love for the whole pirate theme got the best of me and I went with the four stars.

If you loved the movie, or just love pirates in general, you're not going to be disappointed by this quarter scale figure.  He has about the same level of articulation as others, and more accessories than we're used to seeing in this size.  The sculpt is really fantastic, and NECA has done it again with a terrific figure for a unique license.  As to whether you should get the smiling or the serious, I can only say that although I initially assumed I'd be getting the serious, I had to actually ponder it a bit when I saw them in person.

Should you know a female figure collector (one that is a woman, not one that collects women figures), then this might be the perfect gift to put the yippee in her kaiyippee.  Just make sure it's Captain Sparrow you pick up and not Captain Spaulding.  Both are made by NECA, and both action figures happen to be at Media Play right now, but I suspect the reaction of the lady receiving the figure might be quite different.

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

Where to Buy - 
I picked mine up at Media Play, and I'm sure Suncoast has them as well. I've also heard that Spencer's will be getting them in, but you might have to pay a little more there. Online options include:

- Alter Ego Comics has him listed as shipping next month for $34.

- Fireside Collectibles has him at $35, now in stock.  They've also split up the ordering so you can know order it either smiling or serious.  Their discount code 'disc1' also applies, making him an even better deal!

- CornerStoreComics has him listed at $36, and arriving this week.

- Killer Toys has him listed at $38, but is still a pre-order.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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