Astro Boy Vinyl Figure
Hot Toys

Astro Boy Vinyl figure by Hot Toys

   "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 checks in tonight with a look at Astro Boy! Take it away, Jeff...

Thanks to lazy advertising companies the word ‘iconic’ is bandied about far too often these days, and I admit I can be as guilty as the next person, but I always ‘try’ to at least use it in context… for example you can talk about a figure standing in a signature or iconic pose… but that doesn’t mean the figure itself is deserving of the status ‘icon’!

It’s a pretty grand title that should be earned, and Astro here is definitely, let me say that again DEFINETLY deserving of the lofty status. He was one of the many creations to come from the head of Osamu Tezuka (1928-1989), a man who is gradually getting the recognition around the world that he has so long and so rightly deserved, although he is of course already regarded as a demi-god in his native Japan, where his influence on the Manga phenomenon is without parallel. It is even argued that without Tezuka there would have been no Manga!

To the Japanese he is like Walt Disney, Jack Kirby and Will Eisner all rolled into one, with a little bit of Herge thrown in for good measure, and that’s not an over statement, he is that important.

Like many Japanese of his generation he was directly affected by the horrors of war, and lived through a time that saw much hardship and suffering, it was these experiences that lead him to spend his life promoting peace, respect and of course hope.

Astro, or the Mighty Atom (Tetsuwan Atom) as he was first known was created in 1951 and borrowed from the classic stories of Pinocchio and Frankenstein, telling the story of a grieving industrialist who bereft at the loss of his natural son created a robot child in his image, however the father soon realised that no automaton could ever take the place of his actual flesh and blood and so abandoned him.

You may also see parallels with Kubrick’s and Spielberg’s movie AI. Kubrick was a self confessed long time fan of Tezuka’s work, even asking him to help design the look of 2001: A Space Odyssey (a request he strangely declined) and Kubrick went on record as saying Astro had been a big influence on his story of the lost robot boy seeking love and family.

After the rejection from his ‘paternal’ creator Astro is found by Professor Ochanomizu performing at a robot circus, he recognises his extraordinary abilities and promptly adopts him, quickly giving him an overhaul and mechanical upgrade. Astro then spends the rest of his story trying to bring understanding and peace between humans and robots, while always striving to be a real boy, just like Pinocchio. Well, that’s the story in a succinct, very brief, all encompassing nutshell, but of course it’ really about so much more!

I personally first ‘knowingly’ became aware of Astro in the early 80s when I bought a watch bearing his image in Chinatown, London. His arms moved around to point to the time, just like the old Mickey watches … boy I wish I still it, it was a classic!

Since then his ranks have grown a little more in my collection, even stretching to a rather cute cruet set.
It’s that classic silhouette I love, a silhouette that Tesuka openly admitted was inspired by the look of Mickey Mouse, in so much as which ever way he turns his head, that hair always looks the same. But as the Disney company later shamelessly plagiarised his ‘Kimba the White Lion’ in the form of ‘The Lion King’, I guess it was ‘almost’ a fair trade.

But enough with the Astro history lesson, this is all about Hot Toys latest vinyl figure, and it’s based on the look of Astro in the new CG Anime movie, it’s a look that for me is close enough to the classic style to make him a must have… but there is still a part of me that would love to see Hot Toys tackle the classic Manga and Anime aesthetic as well.

Packaging - ***
I’m sure this box has been designed to fall in line with the rest of the licensed merchandise from the movie.

So, if I was being kind I might say it looks nice and clean… even sharp, with a minimalist twist. However if I was to be slightly less kind I’d say it was a little sterile, perhaps even dull. Its saving grace is however that it does have a nice big window on the front to show the full figure within; it’s also good and sturdy and does manage to give the clinical appearance of poor Astro hanging in a laboratory awaiting reanimation!

The overall package is white with simple grey graphics and a bright red Astro Boy logo. Inside the figure is held secure between three clear plastic vac-formed trays, set against silver foil blocked back ground with abstract circuit graphics. So not my favourite box in terms of being ‘dynamic’, but it’s very attractive nonetheless and does a good job of protecting the figure, and let’s face it, that’s what a box is actually meant to do!

Sculpting - ****
This is a beautiful, clean, understated piece of work, and its beauty comes from its simple purity. Astro is captured slumbering, hung by wires, power cables and mechanical intravenous pipes, hovering in mid air between two pieces of white laboratory apparatus. It has a solemn feel to the piece, even having quasi-religious undertones as the figure looks so serene, like a child in the womb, like a pure vision of skewed innocence.

I can find absolutely nothing to fault here, you’ll either love it or perhaps be indifferent to the choice of pose, but I defy anyone to actually hate it.

And if you can find it in yourself to hate it… what the hell is wrong with you… No, seriously!

All the lines are clean, sleek and well executed. I did notice the box has no production credits at all, which is quite unusual for a Hot Toys box, it leads me to wonder if it might have been digitally sculpted from 3D model files, and if so, on this occasion it works very well. I’m still looking forward to seeing the articulated 1/6th figure, and I’ll be interested to see if that has any sculpting credits as well.

But what ever the out come, this is just a case of pure… with capital ‘P’ perfection. I hope it gets the love it deserves, because I want Hot Toys to give us a lot more from Astro in the future!

Paint - ***1/2
Clean, flat and accurate, those three words sum this job up perfectly!

We get a nice even flat tone on the flesh and an equally deep flat black tone on the hair and his shorts. His boots are a deep ruby metallic red, whilst his belt is an equally deep metallic emerald green.

The cables attached to his body are a matte steel colour with very accurate black lines painted in on the sculpted segmented division lines, and then lastly there are the two black and white plates that act as his display stand. The base has the Astro Boy logo sculpted in 3D relief and is painted in a background steel colour with metallic red for the lettering. There are also three support ‘tubes’ sculpted into the base, these hold three clear acrylic rods that stand straight up to insert into a matching three ‘tubes’ in the top part of the stand. These work in the same way as the support on the Terminator: Salvation T-700 diorama, it’s a shame that they couldn’t get away with just using one support at the back here as well, but the fact they are clear makes them as unobtrusive as is realistically possible. The top section is also predominantly monochrome with some asymmetrical abstract mechanical details. The whole piece is very laboratorial with ergonomic soft curves and flowing details.

When viewed from directly above you’ll see there is another logo sculpted here as well, it’s the ‘A’ of his name showing the character blasting off, reversed out as a silhouette, even this detail shows some very tight and accurate paint apps.

Articulation - N/A
This figure does move, but like the vinyl ALIEN I reviewed recently, the articulation is a by-product of the way he’s manufactured. Sure his arms can rotate in a full 360 degrees, and his head can rotate on a ball joint… but why would you want to pose him in anything other than the pose intended (I know that may sound weird coming from me… a 1/6th articulation junkie) but ultimately if you want to pose Astro you’d buy the articulated figure, not a vinyl statue… And it just so happens you are in luck as the action figure version was recently released as well!

Outfit – N/A
He comes in his classic minimalist ‘Tarzan’ wardrobe, and even that is just sculpted and painted! It’s Astro Boy… what did you expect already!

Accessories - N/A
A big fat zilch, but he is a vinyl statue after all.

Value - ****
Vinyl, oh vinyl, what can I say, it is ALWAYS expensive!
But not this time… YAY!

Astro is still available with Sideshow for a very reasonable $64.99, I mean, the ALIEN was $80 and he’s long sold out… and Michael’s sponsor Corner Store Comics has it for a snip at $58.49.

On eBay I’m seeing a big cross section of ‘buy it now’ prices, ranging from $60 right up to $145. But with many still available for the lower prices I find myself scratching my head, wondering why dealers try inflating the price so prematurely… still, I guess it’s worth chancing your arm.
To me… this is a good deal at the RRP, but for a couple of bucks under $60 it is a 100 % bargain... get him while you can!

Fun Factor - *** 1/2
OK, this is not an action figure, it has a limited amount of mobility, so ultimately this is a just a very sweet statue, if that’s OK with you, if that is all that you expect from this figure then hey, all is good with the world.

However, if you are expecting a walking, talking, super articulated figure… you are in the wrong place, this is not the one for you.

Mine is standing… well, ‘floating’ alongside my Bandai and Medicom figures, awaiting the arrival of the HT 1/6th version, and I have to say, I’m liking this little guy a lot, even more than I thought I would.

Overall - *** 3/4
I admit I have an irrational ‘connection’ with Astro-Boy. He just feels like he’s been around in my life for a long time. So after years of T-shirts, watches, toys… and yes, even cruet sets, the fact that Hot Toys were going to give him their special attention meant it was always destined for my collection, and he stands well next to my other Medicom and Ban-Dai figures to boot.

The only thing holding him back from a full score is the paint app, there’s actually nothing at all wrong with it per se, but if the flesh tones had a little more variation and subtle detail, then he’d have got the full score no problem.

However he’s still ‘almost’ perfect, in my eye’s anyway!

Where to Buy -
Sideshow has him for $64.99 or you can try Mike’s sponsors below -

- or you can hit ebay looking for a bargain.

This product was provided free for the review by the manufacturer. Photos and text by Jeff Parker.

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