Leon the Professional

   "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."

Jeff is checking up on one of the latest releases from Enterbay - take it away, Jeff!

Way back in early 2006 I reviewed my first Enterbay figure, in fact it was THE first Enterbay figure. Back then they were starting from the ground up and building their reputation on the coveted Bruce Lee license, so their initial release was of course the legendary martial artist and depicted him as he appeared in the classic movie Game of Death. For the time it was pretty ground breaking, and managed to re-invent ‘eagle-eyes’ for a new grown up generation of collectors, and of course It goes without saying that Bruce had a Kung-Fu grip! However, things move amazingly fast in the modern 1/6th world, so what was impressive in 2006, may not be quite as impressive by 2011.

Then fast forward to the present, my last review on a product from Enterbay was just a week or so ago, and it was the amazing ¼ scale T800 from Terminator 2. It showed that the company are still very much contenders, and though they are branching out into fully articulated ¼ scale figures, they also remain committed to my old love, the classic 1/6th.

And so here we are with Luc Besson’s ‘Léon’ or if you are in North America you will know it as ‘The Professional’. Besson has made a lot of movies as writer, producer or director, some great, some good… and some pretty darned bad… but Léon was one of his best, up there with Subway and the Big Blue.

It told the story of a loner who befriends a twelve year old girl ‘Mathilda’ from an abusive home, and after the gang-land slaughter of her entire family he rescues her and takes her under his wing. The only problem being that Léon is no ordinary loner, he has a child like naiveté that seems to make him vulnerable on a personal level… but far from ‘actually’ being vulnerable he is a one man army. You see Léon is in fact the most dedicated hit man operating in New York City, under the local mafia hood ‘Tony’ (who also “manages” his financial affairs). Because of his unusual choice of profession Mathilda soon becomes fixated with her new guardian, and the line of carer, instructor and padawan soon becomes very messy.

Like Léon’s character I’ve often found many of Besson’s movies have a degree naiveté running through them, sometimes it has charm and works but other times it can become hackneyed and obvious. It’s why some of his movies maintain a classic status, while others loose there edge and don’t withstand repeated viewings. But I’m getting all ‘movie critical on yo ass’ and we are here to talk toys! 

I can honestly say that if I could have only one figure from a Besson movie then this would probably be it. Of course if you were offering I’d also have Christophe Lambert as Fred from Subway (I’ve always had a thing for Isabelle Adjani) and Milla Jovovich as Leeloo from the Fifth Element. But quite frankly I am just so happy to have Jean Reno (a longtime Besson collaborator) as the titular hit-man fully realised in his 1/6th glory, that I can live with it if this is all we see!

I hope Enterbay can continue to bring us figures from the slightly more leftfield and art-house cinema because it’s a much overlooked area. However I also hope it’s an area that can prove profitable for them, because a few fan-boys do not a fortune make!

Packaging - ****
I don’t ask for a lot from a box. I just need it to be visually interesting, well-constructed and robust enough to protect the contents in transit. This box manages all that with ease.

The cover uses the iconic graffiti stencil style illustration utilised on the recent special edition DVD and Blu-Ray packaging which makes for a striking front of box image. This image and the accompanying typography are all slightly embossed in stark white against a deep black back ground. The left side panel is magnetic meaning it unwinds to the right showing the figure nestled within black foam on the left, his arsenal of weapons is displayed against the wide centre spine and his other numerous accessories are housed in a vac-formed tray to the right. The whole shebang is fabricated from thick hard-board and the construction is faultless. All in all a great piece of packaging!

Sculpting - ****
Like with the recent T800 we have Enterbays artist in residence YJ Park on portrait duties, and he has done a fantastic job! Reno is a brilliant character actor who has made a career out of playing interesting and ‘unusual’ roles. He can tell a thousand stories with his expressive face alone can, and his hangdog sense of pathos endears him to the audience in so many of his subtlety observed roles.

Luckily YJ has captured some of that Gallic magic, meaning I defy anyone but the most obtuse of trolls not to see the actor in this stunning sculpt. The expression is reasonably neutral, but with a focused and determined edge. The detailing on the peripheral features like the hair and light beard is crisp and distinct, but it’s the general likeness that is so outstanding.

Just look at that nose and even the ears here, but the nose, that all important nose, by Darwin it is perfection… even front on, look at this. So, if you loved the movie, or are just a general Jean Reno fan (like my wife, who has commandeered this for her shelf) then it’s a must buy.

He also has a good selection of hands to interact with his various accessories, we get
2 fists
2 gun grip
2 relaxed/general grip (handy for milk glass)
1 right hand tight/knife grip
1 right hand wide grip (good for the milk carton)    
1 left hand gun carry-case handle grip  

All work well and swapped over fine. I would recommend warming the gun case hand before wrapping around the handle of the actual case as I found it made the job much easier, but with the guns etc they all work fine.

Paint - ****
Enterbay have a good tradition of producing solid paint apps and it continues here. The hair and beard are convincing with super subtle graduations where they but up to the skin. The flesh tones are all warm and convincing exhibiting a deft hand has been at work in controlling this application. It was overseen by YJ Park again, and the subtle veins on his temples and that trade mark wandering left eye are all reproduced note perfectly. Some might think it’s an inaccurate representation, but in a rather brave and bold move Enterbay decided to show Reno just as he looks. It is a fact that his right eye has a tendency to wander in ever so slightly towards his nose, just check out pics like this or this for the proof. The eyes are both painted crisply and even feature super fine thread veins within the white of the eye. It’s a great job, as good as any you will get from a high-end manufacturer, I guess some folks might have preferred the eyes to have just been looking straightforward, but I’m really liking what they have done… but ironically I display him with his shades on anyway. But whichever way you look at it, it is definitely a four star paint app!

Articulation - *** 3/4
Literally everything you need to know about this figures articulation I already wrote here. That was a complete breakdown of the RM4-02 base-body that I previously covered as a separate review, and this is essentially the same base-body that is utilised at the core of this figure too. Well I say that, this uses the RM4-01, but as far as I can ascertain the only difference is the ankle extenders that make this version a little taller, and as Jean Reno is 6’ 2” I guess that makes sense.

The only slight negative I will deliver is the lack of neck mobility. I mentioned it in the previous breakdown for the RM4-02, but somehow it annoys me even more here. We need good neck articulation to inject personality to our poses, and here it is way too limited!

The frustrating thing is that it is such an easy fix; all we need is a bigger neck hole in the shoulders. If I wasn’t so anal about keeping my figures ‘museum archive- box fresh’ I’d be tempted to take a dremel to the shoulders and make it work better.  I really hope Enterbay alter this very soon, because it is the ONLY sticking point on an otherwise winning base body! Hence it is this fact alone that robs the figure of a ¼ star! Otherwise it is virtually faultless.

Accessories - *** 3/4
Léon is by trade a wetwork specialist, and by that measure he has certain tools he deems necessary for his existence. And even though we get no SGW Multi-Match AR-15 snipers rifle (which would have been nice) what we do get is a pretty comprehensive list of everything else. You can check out his arsenal over on the ever reliable IMFDB here.   
We get-

- Compensated Beretta 92FS
- Beretta 92FS Inox
- Customised Smith & Wesson Model 586
- Smith & Wesson Model 41
- Ruger SP101
- Springfield M1911-A2 SASS
- 2 suppressors
- Flick knife
- Industrial cable cutters
- Round sunglasses
- Potted plant
- Beanie hat
- 10 alternate hands
- Extra black T-shirt
- 3 x milk cartons
- Milk glass (with removable milk)
- Metal figure stand

So, that means you have pretty much everything you need to pack out his custom carry case and a good deal more!
In the past I have been let down by some of Enterbay’s accessories, most notably their firearms for 1/6th figures (I think we all remember Jack Bauer’s sorry excuse for a gun). But this time around there is a far greater attention to detail. I was literally blown away by the work they managed at ¼ scale for the T800, and I’m glad to report some of that quality has crossed over here. So now you can expect removable magazines, sliding cocking mechanisms, attachable suppressors, rotating cyliners, moving hammers and even an opening flick knife (though it isn’t spring loaded). All the weapons are well observed, but it’s some of the quirkier pieces that make this figure so iconic.

The potted plant was a nice (and let’s face it essential) touch, it’s all made of molded plastic, but on the whole works well. Then there is the cool leather case that Léon uses to transport his mini arsenal. It’s well detailed, but I warn you to use it with caution. If you want to open it up for a display I’d advise a blast with a hairdryer to soften it all up. And even then you may need to re-glue the bottom seams as they can come unstuck when you fold the front flap down (at least they did on mine). I have to admit it is an annoyance, but the bigger irony is that even with all the heat he is packing, my figure will be displayed with the case firmly shut and held in his left hand, whilst the other hand nestles his beloved plant.

The other essential part of his look are his round sun glasses. Getting glasses to look right at 1/6th can be quite a challenge. When it goes right, like on the HT T-800 it enhances the figure no end, but when it goes wrong like on the HT Barney Ross figure… well, let’s just say they stay in the box! And here they actually work pretty darned well, not 100 perfect, but close enough for me. The scale is well handled and the final look when placed onto the figure with care is very convincing, remember the pics you look at here are blown up a few 100 percent, but at 1/6th, in hand, It’s all good.

The Milk cartons and glass were also a nifty addition, the glass is self-explanatory and the ‘tube’ of white milk can be removed. The cartons (of which I got three) are flat-packed and need to be folded and glued, there are small slots and tabs that push in but a small amount of glue will keep it all in place.

He’s also equipped with a pair of heavy-duty cable cutters, these have an opening action and can be stored in the large ‘holster’ on the right hand side of his vest/harness.
I already covered the hands and the extra T-shirt above, so that just leaves us with the stand, we all know how I feel about stands, but should you be of the camp that actually likes them, you’ll be pleased with its all metal robust construction. There is absolutely no denying it is well made, but mine will of course be staying in its cardboard sarcophagus!

Had I been awarding my score on quantity alone then this would have walked it. However, taking the final build quality into account I feel the gun-case does leave a little to be desired, pulling it back just a micron from a full score.

Outfit - *** 3/4
When it comes to characters like this it’s all about the layering. If you can manage to make the garments hang convincingly, you are already halfway there.

The figure comes with an extra black shirt, but in all honesty I will be keeping mine in the more iconic white button up long sleeved T-shirt with the customised weapons vest over the top. The rest of the outfit consists of black trousers (worn short) with accurate black braces (suspenders to US readers) grey socks, weathered brown shoes, long grey wool coat and lastly his knitted beanie hat.

The tailoring is solid on all the garments, with the best pieces being his coat and weapons harness (well, in my opinion anyway). All the pockets on the trousers and coat are fully working and the whole outfit comes together well.

My only real problem was getting the hat to look just right… in fact I’m not entirely convinced I have got it to look just right at all. You see it kind of sits on top of the head with a little bit of a roll around the edge like this and indeed this. You’ll have no problem achieving a good approximation of how it looked on screen, but it will take some heavy futzing to get it just right.

In all I’m impressed with the outfit, and had his hat been just a little easier to get perfect it would have been a full score!

Fun Factor - *** 1/2
Because of the nature of the movie this is obviously no children’s play-thing! But if you are an adult collector (and let’s face it, if you hope to be able to afford one I pray for your sake you are) then this is a great representation of an über cool character from a cult classic of a movie.

He poses well (apart from the neck) and comes with a fine haul of accessories. But even though he has some awesome guns in his arsenal I bet I’m not alone in the fact that it will be the carry-case and plant that get the biggest use in displays all over the world… you just cant beat that pose!

Value for money - ***1/2
This comes in at a hefty $235… that is a big ol price tag for a figure that doesn’t really have any special features. No moving eyes, no ‘two head sculpts’, no ‘light-up feature’… OK, OK I know he doesn’t need to light up, I’m just saying. However, that is the price direct from Enterbay, so like with the T-800 that price includes the complete shipping to wherever you happen to be on the planet. And that inclusion could potentially detract quite a bit to Enterbay’s profit margin.

So for me being UK based, a better rule of thumb was to check out One Sixth Bruce’s price, where he can be had for £155. Then this checking against his prices for various HT figures it looks to be a kind of high end of average price. But of course Enterbay is a smaller company, so prices are invariably going to reflect that.

At the end of the day, just like with all high-end 1/6th it’s not a poor mans hobby, and the more cult the status of the subject matter the higher the risk you have on a good return. I seriously hope this sells well though, because the one thing I would love to see (but knowing Gary Oldman’s feelings about licensing I probably never will) is a figure of Stansfield to go with him.

Overall- *** 1/2
It’s one of those cool figures that has a lot of impact. Being a one-sixth collector you are expected to have numerous superheroes, soldiers, robots, aliens and all manner of fantasy creations in our geeked out collections. But it’s the figures like this that earn you the cool points.

There is very little here to be too distracted by, unless you are an anal ‘Leon’ aficionado obsessed by every last detail on his button up shirt or sticker on his carry case. If you do fall into that crowd I’m sure you’ll find this a worthy base to build your ‘ultimate’ figure around. But if you are more of a general fan you will love it, I know I do!

Where to buy
He’s pretty thin on the ground from US suppliers, so your best bet is to go direct from Enterbay, where he is $235 inc shipping. But I’ve been informed that they are getting very low on stock, with no plans for another batch.

I did find it with some of Mike’s sponsors… but do you really wanna know the prices?

BBTS has it for a reasonable $229.99 

Fan Boy have him for $249.99 

Urban Collector had him up for $279.99… but they claim to have sold out! 

And remember to check out the shipping rates from all the above on top of those quoted prices… direct from Enterbay might well be your best and most sensible option!

Or you can hit up the Bay where he’s between $225 and $290. No women, no children!

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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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