Zizzle Pirates of the Caribbean Swashbucklers
Jack Sparrow and Davy Jones

No one is ever going to outdo Star Wars when it comes to licensed merchandise, but Pirates of the Caribbean has sure given it a shot.  And while there have been a few bumps in the road, the quality of the merchandise has generally been top notch.

Zizzle has been doing the 3 3/4" kids oriented action figure line, with reasonable success.  They never sold like hot cakes (although exactly how hot cakes sell is beyond me), but they usually moved steadily, even without a film in theaters.  The latest assortments have done poorer sales though, and it looks like the line is at an end.

They've just released an animated line called "Swashbucklers".  There was actually going to be an animated show based on the films (which is also probably why GG did the animated statues), but Disney scrapped the plans.

So that left Zizzle with a line of toys and no cartoon to sell it - but that didn't stop them from getting some product to the pegs.  They've released five single carded figures - Jack, Davy, Elizabeth, Will and Barbossa - along with some boxed monsters and small boats with variations on Jack and Davy.  Actually, one of the sets comes with a unique Maccus figure, making him the only B list character in the first wave.  There are also two 'deluxe' figures (that come with bigger weapons): one is another Jack, while the other is Sao Feng.  So that's a total of 7 unique figures, plus several variants in the first wave.

You can find these at Target right now as part of their reset, and they run about eight bucks.

Packaging - ***1/2
I've been a bit more impressed lately with the mass market packaging we're seeing, and I really like these.  They incorporate the logo, but include some terrific looking ocean waves behind the figures, framing them.  The back includes personalized info on each character, and they are fairly compact, with only moderate waste.

Sculpting - Jack ***1/2; Davy ***
The highlight of the line is the cool animated sculpts.  The style is sort of a combination of The Batman style of animated character with sharp lines, and the caricature style of the carnie artist.

There's plenty of small sculpted details too, even with the more simplistic design inherent with animation.  I'm quite impressed with the work on Davy's face (although there is a little too much flashing on some of the tentacles), and the folds and wrinkles in both costumes.

Jack has hands sculpted to work well with his accessories, and he stands quite well on his own.  Davy can't hold his accessories particularly well, hurting his Sculpt score, and the soft sculpted cane may end up wilting over time.  This is even more true if you use it to keep him standing.

Davy also loses points because the sculpt doesn't work quite as well with the articulation, not allowing him to stand as easily or readily.

These are bigger than the realistic POTC figures from Zizzle, with Jack standing 5 inches tall, and Davy at 5 1/4.

Paint - **1/2
The paint is a tad disappointing.  These are mass market toys of course, so you don't expect the same quality as specialty market items, but considering the price, I was hoping for a bit less slop.

The good news is that there are quite a few colorful details on all the characters, adding some visual pizzazz to the mix.  More good news was that the eyes on all the ones I saw were very clean and neat, with straight stares and even pupils.

The bad news is that many of the cool colorful details exhibit slop and poor cut lines.  We've been spoiled over the last decade by some of the quality that comes out of companies like Mcfarlane, but once spoiled it's hard to accept anything less.

Other mass market companies like Marvel Toys and even Hasbro and Mattel have stepped up to the high bar set by Mcfarlane, and their quality has steadily improved.  The work on these figures is mediocre at best, and I was really hoping for them to be a home run all around.

Articulation - **
Another disappointment was in the articulation.  In the larger scale I was expecting better articulation, but we really didn't get it.

There is ball jointed shoulders and hips, along with a cut waist on both figures.  These actually work pretty well, Jack adds in wrist articulation to help a bit.  Unfortunately, with no elbow or knee articulation, what you can actually do with the arms and legs is tremendously limited.

I was really surprised to see no articulation on Davy's claw, which seemed like a must have.  The figures have neck joints, but with the long hair/tentacles on these, they can barely turn.

On the plus side, both figures do stand on their own, although Davy really needs the walking stick (and sometimes his cape) to help out.

Accessories - Jack ***; Davy **1/2
Each figure comes with a firing weapon.  For Davy, it's a small cannon, while Jack has a huge flintlock pistol that's almost bigger than Davy's cannon.  Amusingly enough, I think Jack Sparrow would approve.

The firing mechanisms on both work fine, although they are hampered by those wimpy springs that all toys are required to use.

Jack and Davy also both come with their swords, but again, these are designed with safety in mind, which means they are very soft and pliable.  They hold their shape wel though, so this is a minor issue at best.

Unfortunately, Davy can't really do much with his sword.  It has a small peg on it to attach to his body, and that works fine, but the sculpted claw doesn't hold it particularly well, and the other hand can't use any accessories.

That's it for Davy, but Jack gets one more item - his spyglass.  Which isn't nearly as long as it was in AWE, but that was all just a result of spyglass envy.

Unlike Davy, Jack can hold his various accessories quite well, although the large pistol make cause him to tip over unless he's in an extreme position.

Fun Factor - ***
While the articulation is a tad suckacious, and the paint quality isn't going to thrill collectors, these still have plenty of fun potential.  I like the slightly large scale, and they can even work with stuff like the Zizzle Black Pearl if you aren't too worried about everything being perfectly sized.  Kids tend to worry about that sort of thing less than us picky adults, and I think that these can work as cool looking animated pirate toys, even without the film.

Value - **1/2
At eight bucks, I felt like something was missing.  These felt like $6 - $7 figures to me, at least based on the average quality and amount of accessories you can still get at the eight dollar price point.

Still, my cheapness might be showing, since mass market toys are starting to hit $10 regularly now, so I relented and went with an average score.

Things to Watch Out For - 
You'll want to pick the best paint jobs you can of course, but other than that, there really aren't any issues you can alter.

Overall - Jack ***; Davy **1/2
The best part of these figures is easily the sculpt.  I can't say that enough - I really, really like the sculpted animated style that they went with, and the amount of cool detail is quite impressive.

Unfortunately, that's about it for this line.  The lack of articulation and weak paint ops were killers for me, especially after I'd heard so much raving about these figures online.  Perhaps my expectations were merely built up too much, but these weren't as exciting as I'd hoped.  In the package they were pretty impressive, and I actually bought ALL the unique figures...and after opening Davy and Jack, I returned all the rest.  The sculpts are great, but the overall quality just wasn't good enough to suck me in for the long haul.

And before you ask, that's the Zizzle Ultimate Black Pearl ship, designed for the smaller 3 3/4" figures, but it can work with these figures as well.  It's too small of course, but it does in a pinch.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpt - Jack ***1/2; Davy ***
Paint - **1/2
Articulation - **
Accessories - Jack ***; Davy **1/2
Fun Factor - ***
Value - **1/2
Overall - Jack ***; Davy **1/2

Where to Buy -
These are popping up at Targets right now as part of their after Christmas reset.  Expect to pay about $8 each. 

- Related Links -
I've covered plenty of POTC items:

- NECA has had plenty of goodies in the 7" line, including the 7" Sao Fen, the series 2 figures, Clanker, the cursed boxed set of Jack and Barbossa, and the full first series, including Barossa, Turner, Sparrow and a dead Pirate.

- there's also a guest review of Elizabeth Swann and my review of the second cursed Pirate, as well as my review of Pintel at Movie Poop Shoot, and Regatti here.

- I mentioned how much I liked the terrific 18" version of Sparrow, and there's an 18" version of Teague as well.

- Hot Toys is doing a fantastic job with their sixth scale series, including Jack and Sao.  I also have a guest review of Sao v2 and Elizabeth Swann.

-  Zizzle's line of 3 3/4" has gotten a review of some of the figures, along with a guest review of the Isla Cruces set, and the Pirate Fleet vehicles.

- Disney released some figures based on the actual park attraction, and not the film.

- Disney also has their own set of POTC figures out now at their stores, including Jack and Davy of course, and a second series with Jack, Barbosa and Davy.

- Mezco recently released some very cool Pirate Mez-itz, not based on any license, but cool nonetheless.

- and if you like your pirates a little more 'real', there's always Blackbeard from Sideshow.

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Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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