Lost Series 1
Kate, Charlie and Shannon

I've been campaigning for years now for a "tv maniacs" style line. There are plenty of lines dedicated to bringing movie related figures to shelves that can't support a whole wave, but we've never gotten the same opportunity with television licenses.

In fact, we generally only get tv licenses that are animated, at least done in any serious fashion. On the rare occasions we do get live action television shows - Alias, SNL, the Beverly Hillbillies - the quality is so poor they never have a chance.

Now Mcfarlane is breaking the mold by producing not only a series of action figures from a hit television show - Lost - but also doing it with the kind of quality and detail that it deserves. The first series includes Locke, Jack, Hurley (these three were reviewed today at QSE), Kate, Shannon and Charlie (reviewed here). Expect to pay around $16 - $20 each, depending on the retailer.

Packaging - Charlie, Kate **; Shannon *
These are packed in boxes, and you know I love boxes. They are quite easy to store for MOCers, the have a cool flap on the front that opens to reveal additional text and graphics, and they waste very little space. You will have to destroy them to remove the figure (the top flap is glued closed) so they can't get the coveted "collector friendly" title, but you can try to open the flaps on the bottom of the box. I tried with 5 of the 6 though, and tore every one of them.

The reason Shannon is hit so hard in this category, getting a much lower score than all the rest, is how her accessories are taped in the tray. This is actually a pretty common practice, placing Scotch tape over the accessories to keep them from flopping about. Unfortunately, doing this over the tube of sunscreen lotion results in the label being damaged. On mine, most of the ink was removed, but it's also possible that the label can get torn. Take care when removing it from the tray.

The big drop in the score here is due to the lack of instructions.  Without them, I (and many other buyers) had no idea that the voice boxes actually attached to the bases, and wasted time I didn't need to on assembling the frames.

Sculpting - Charlie ****; Shannon, Kate ***
Of these three, Charlie is the easy winner for me. It's a little tough to tell, because of the hood making it tough to see his face clearly, but the sculpt is excellent. You can tell this is 'bad' Charlie, because he has his hoodie up. Hey, it's a hobbit in a hoodie! Along with Locke, Charlie is not only the most accurate to the character, but the most life-like in appearance when sitting on your shelf.

Kate turned out a little better than early prototypes, one of those rare cases. This is largely due to improvements in the paint work on the face, which I'll get into more in the next category. But it's also due to slight changes in the head sculpt, especially the hair. Gone is the long tootsie roll hair on the right side of her head, replaced by shorter and better sculpted loose locks on the left. They didn't completely drop the loose locks on the right side, but made them much shorter and less obvious, balancing out the face nicely.

Her stance remains the same, and the body sculpt is excellent. The clothing folds and wrinkles in a very realistic manner, and her proportions (head/torso/limbs) are great. Her forearms might appear a little too long, but this is due to the sleeves of the shirt she's wearing coming down quite a way on both hands, making the forearms appear long. The shirt doesn't fit her, hence the odd look, but it is accurate to the show and scene. I do have an issue with the expression though, since it's far too serene - is that even a slight smile I see on her face? She certainly doesn't appear terrified here, as she was in the actual scene.

Shannon's a babe, no doubt about it. When men fantasize about being stranded on a desert island, this is the girl they picture. Ahem. After their wife of course. *cough* The face sculpt is quite good, although you'll need to actually go look at photos of the actress, Maggie Grace, to appreciate it. Why? Because while she's pretty, she's also fairly generic in appearance. And with this version of Shannon having closed eyes and a closed mouth, the only real features that stand out are the shape of the head and nose, but of which match the actress extremely well.

She does suffer from mold lines down the center of her body, which are fairly apparent on the inside/outside of her legs and sides of her torso. It's a slight distraction, but not her biggest issue - the simple fact that she's a rather dull representation is the greater hurdle.

Paint - Charlie ****; Shannon ***; Kate **1/2
To create truly life-like, realistic mini-versions of actual people, it takes more than great sculpting - it takes great paint. To get plastic to look like skin, cloth, rock, metal and dirt requires the finest paint application.

For the most part, the entire series sports great work. In this trio, Charlie is my clear number one. The paint on the face accents the excellent sculpt, with particularly good work on the beard. The clothing has highlights and shadows that look terrific, and the dirt and worn effects are top notch. The small details, like the cross hatch pattern on his canvas shoes or the letters on his taped fingers, are done with good precision and clean lines. He even has black polish wearing off the fingernails of his right hand!

And speaking of polish, Shannon has brightly colored toenails and fingernails, just the shade you'd expect. Her skin tone is even and smooth, and the fine edge between her flesh and the bright red bathing suit shows only the very rare flub or slop. I'm not a huge fan of the dark wash in her hair, but the overall appearance works great.

Finally, there's Kate. She's the only figure out of the entire six that disappointed me in this category. However, her face paint actually improved from what we saw on the prototypes last summer. The wide eyed, surprised look is gone, replace by much more realistic (if slightly lazy) eyes. There's a little slop in the eyes and lips, but only on very close inspection.

My biggest issue is the very heavy mud effect they went with, slopping a ton of wash on the shirt in particular. Perhaps it's partly due to the excessive amount of brown in the entire set up - the background, ground, bamboo, pants, and tank top all have plenty to go along with the mud on the shirt. Had they backed off the wash a bit, she could have been in the same *** star range with Shannon.

Articulation - Kate, Charlie *1/2; Shannon Bupkis
Here's an example of poor scores that won't do much to my overall score. Why? Because I know and accept going in that these aren't toys, but rather pop culture icons. They're purpose is to sit on the shelf of a cubicle, and look good doing it, and in that, they succeed.

However, it's important to include the category for those wondering just how poseable they are. Shannon has no articulation at all. That's right, you won't be moving a thing. Kate has a cut waist and that's it. Without even any arm articulation, getting the bamboo to fit in her hands can be quite a trick. The lack of a neck joint on her was a bit of a surprise, at least to me.

Finally, there's Charlie, who actually has more articulation than I expected. There's that cut waist again, but more importantly, there's cut joints on both arms, allowing the hands to raise up. This actually makes for a second pose for him, allowing the pen to be raised as if he's appraising his work. The neck is also articulated, but with the tight hoodie, it's really a moot point.

Accessories - Kate ***1/2; Charlie, Shannon ***
Kate gets the best score in this category out of the entire set, and it's easy to see why. First, her diorama base is easily the most visually interesting, and has a backdrop actually worth using. The dark brooding color offsets the bamboo stalks nicely, and the black pegs blend in far more than on most of the other backdrops. She also has the only truly sensible 'prop replica', the small plane that she went to so much trouble to retrieve from the bank vault. By the way, the plane really does only have one propeller (thankfully, there's a photo on the box), so don't spend any time looking for a loose or lost one. The plane is a nice hefty size, and it actually seems larger to me than what was on the show. Unlike almost all the other replicas, with perhaps the exception of Hurley's ticket, this is the only one that in itself plays a truly important role in the development of a character.

You'll have to assemble the various pieces of bamboo and vines in the base, but most make sense and are designed to fit only one way. One has a peg designed to fit into a hole in the palm of her left hand, but it can be tricky to get it to line up properly.

Shannon actually gets traditional accessories in the form of a tube of sunscreen (with paper label) and a pair of sunglasses. The good news - the sunglasses are actually in scale. The bad news - she can't wear them. Both of these are intended to just lie on the beach next to her tan, lithe body.

Her base is actually quite detailed, with a water bottle sticking out of the sand, a fairly well done beach towel, and a little plane wreckage. However, it's still just a chick on a towel, and the scene of mayhem on the backdrop is the only indication that this is Shannon, and not just some random blonde out catching rays.

All the figures were tough to get on the bases, but Shannon was the most difficult of these three. She has five pegs holding her down for some unknown reason, and the tolerances on the spacing don't allow for any mistake in the molding. Getting her on her back in the sand is a huge effort, somewhat out of character for Shannon. I did finally get all the pegs seated in all the holes, but I felt like I needed a cigarette when I was done.

Shannon's other accessory is touted as Rousseau's map of the island. This map is quite large - about 18" x 24" - but is folded of course like the other paper accessories, making it look fairly craptastic out of the package. If you're like me, you were expecting a top down view of the island, showing locations and distances, which Sayid had and showed the location of the Black Rock. That's not what this is. This map is a side view of the island, showing elevation, and not much else. There is one thing of note however. The island is sketched in pencil of course, and in the foreground, right off shore, is what appears to be the boat that the Others had, that they let Walt and Michael take off on. Check out the photo and see what you think, and then ponder why Rousseau would have included that on the map, what the word 'epave' means, and why Sayid seemed to completely miss it.

Charlie's base is moderately detailed, as he sits atop a hunch of wreckage and writes with marker on the tape around his fingers. Again, getting his feet and ass in just the right position to attach him to the base was an effort. Considering the amazing work Gentle Giant does with the itty bitty bust ups, you'd think McToys could get the tolerances on these more in line.

Charlie's only other accessory is the Drive Shaft ring, made from fairly cheap plastic. This isn't something you'll be wearing around, and it's definitelly not something Charlie ever wore. I'd be surprised if Hurley has fat enough fingers to wear this oversized ring. While it's not central to Charlie's character like the plane is to Kate, at least it's tied to him AND it's more than a piece of paper.

Speaking of the bases, I've included three photos at the end of the review (with a little help from Spider-man) showing how to get the frames together. Here's the scoop - check the photos for quick reference. Once you see them together, it should be very clear.

You’ll find seven parts altogether - the sheet of cardboard, two small pins (which are actually inserted into a cross beam already in the package and have to be removed), two side beams, a top beam and a bottom beam. The larger curved cross beam is the bottom, the smaller is the top. While not all the characters have curved beams (Shannon and Charlie’s are straight), they all go together the same way. The peg on each side beam inserts into the top support, and the bottom support has a peg that inserts into each side beam. Then all you need to do is attach the backer to the frame with the two included pegs. Voila!

Ah, but do you need the backers?  I've included photos of all the figures with and without them, so you can get a feel for it.  It's something you'll want to decide before you attach the backer, because once it's on, it can be (although not always) tough to get off.

Talking Feature - ***
The accessories for Kate and Charlie were certainly an improvement over Jack, Locke and Hurley, due in large part to the more sensible prop replicas. Unfortunately, the talking feature is just as silly.

It's not that a talking feature is silly in general, although it does tend to work best with comedy, not drama. Lost isn't a show with iconic dialog either, making the choice of good lines rather difficult. Still, had it been integrated well, it would have added some value to the figures.

But the implementation is a failure. The talking feature is set up with small black boxes, which are not integrated into the actual display of the figure itself in any way. Nope. Just black boxes sitting around by themselves. (see edit below!)You supply the two AAA batteries for each, push the button, and you get the following lines:

"Jack!" (thunder and rain in the background) 
Scared and crying - "One... Two... Three... Four... Five..." 
"If you're thinking about going for the cockpit, I'm going with you." 
"I only made-out with him, because torturing him didn't work."
Kate gets four lines, the most of any of the six figures.

"What's a four-letter word for 'I don't care'?" 
"The plane had a black box, idiot... I'll eat on the rescue boat." 
"You want my information? Name: Shannon Rutherford. Age: 20. Address: Craphole Island."

Singing: "You all everybody... You all everybody..." 
"Guys... where are we?" 
"You don't know me! I'm a bloody Rock God!"

Nope, not really iconic sayings, and worse, some seem very out of place (like Kate's sobbing in fear) considering the personality of the characters that has developed over the course of time. But in the end, it's the execution of this feature rather than the quality of the feature itself that sinks it. The only upside to having the voice boxes as wholly separate entities is that it makes it all that much easier to drop the idea from future assortments.

EDIT - Guess what?  They DO attach to the bases, in a rather unobvious way.  There are two small pegs on the back of each frame, and the underside of the boxes have holes that allow you to attach the box there.  After finding this out (thanks to a smarter reader than I), I actually upped the score in this category across the board.  However, the general idea of having the talking feature with a dramatic show is still weak, especially considering the additional cost.

Fun Factor - *1/2
I mention this category for consistency sake, but the low score here won't actually factor into my personal overall. I know going in that these aren't action figures, but rather inexpensive plastic statues, and knowing that I don't give much weight to the Fun Factor. Others may be looking for more playability, and this category will have a greater effect for them.

Value - **
These are going to run you $16 - $20 each, much more than the usual $10 - $12 each for most Mcfarlane product. Part of the justification for this huge price increase is the inclusion of the voice boxes and prop replicas, but with the exception of Kate, these are pretty much worthless and should have been dropped. Get rid of the props and the voice boxes, and get the price back down to the normal range.

Things to Watch Out For - 
You might manage to find a Kate on the shelf with a little less mud, but otherwise, things are pretty much going to be consistent across the board. I would take care fitting the figures into the bases, as everyone of them was an extremely tight fit, and you could easily damage the pegs.

And don't forget my words of caution on Shannon's sunscreen - remove the tape on the tray with care to avoid damaging the label if possible!

Overall - Charlie ***1/2; Kate ***; Shannon **1/2
Astute observers will note that Shannon scores lower overall than you'd expect, given her higher scores for sculpt, paint and accessories. The reason for this is pretty simple - she's a really dull figure. Oh, sure, she's a blonde in a bathing suit, but unless you're a 15 year old male growing up in a remote village in Alaska, that can't possibly be enough motivation to pick her up. If you were to display any one of the other five figures - even Kate - by themselves, a casual passerby would recognize them as characters from Lost. But Shannon, not so much. In fact, without the cardboard backer, there's nothing to give away who this blonde in a red bikini, laying in the sand, really is. She appears to be shortpacked, which was probably a smart move.

Kate suffers a bit from the heavy paint wash, which isn't as nearly as realistic in appearance as the dirt and mud on the figures of Charlie, Jack or Locke. Her head sculpt and paint pull her down a bit as well, given the weird, almost serene expression.

Charlie is the winner of these three, almost as good as Locke in terms of sculpt and paint. He has the added benefit of the Drive Shaft ring, which is at least a little more substantial than a piece of paper.

And let's not forget the lame factor of both the talking feature and the supposed prop replicas. Please do fans of the show and collectors of action figures a huge favor, and drop both these ideas from future assortments.

Score Recap:
Packaging - Charlie, Kate **; Shannon *
Sculpt - Charlie ****; Shannon, Kate ***
Paint - Charlie ****; Shannon ***; Kate **1/2
Articulation - Kate, Charlie *1/2; Shannon Bupkis
Accessories - Kate ***1/2; Charlie, Shannon ***
Talking Feature - ***
Fun Factor - *1/2
Value -  **
Overall - Charlie ***1/2; Kate ***; Shannon **1/2

Where to Buy -
I'm assuming some other brick and mortar retailers will eventually get these in, but right now Toys R Us is the place to find them locally. Online options include:

- Amazing Toyz has the singles for $15 - $17, but are selling out fast. The full set is $80. They also have preorders up for wave 2.

- CornerStoreComics has the set at $85, and the singles for 415 - $17 as well, along with series 2 pre-orders.

- Alter Ego Comics has them for $16 each.

- Killer Toys has the set of six for $83.

- Clark Toys has the singles for $17, the set for $85, or a case of 12 for $155. They also have preorders already up for series 2.

- Time and Space Toys has the set for $95, plus they carry the cool Lost puzzles.

Related Links:
Obviously, you'll want to check out my review of the other three figures, Jack, Hurley and Locke, but don't forget there's also the very cool Lost puzzles that I reviewed here a few weeks ago.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

This page copyright 2003, Michael Crawford. All rights reserved. Hosted by 1 Hour