The PopCult Toybox: Figure Reviews

July 15, 2014 by rudy panucci

Img_1334Over the past few months your PopCulteer has been bouncing around the nation, visiting several cool toy shows, conventions and stores, and as such, the rooms here at Stately Radio Free Charleston Manor are filled with tons of cool new items that I have yet to review.

The plan is to play catch-up over the next few weeks with some capsule reviews of the coolness what has passed through these halls. This week we’re going to check out a couple of really cool figures that we picked up at MEGO Meet last month, and we’ll also look at one of the new “ReAction” figures from Funko.

First up we have “Henshin X” a line of figures inspired by the legendary Henshin Cyborgs, a Japanese toy line from the 1970s that eventually became known in America as The Micronauts. Cast A Way Toys recently developed a new MEGO-scale body in conjunction with ZICA Toys (I wrote about the Kickstarter campaign HERE), and it is deployed to wonderful effect here.

The plan was for Cast A Way Toys to debut their revival of Action Jackson at MEGO Meet last month, but the first batch of heads produced in China were unsatisfactory, so they sent them back and the project has been delayed. However, they have plenty of their new “Type S” bodies, including a bunch of them made in clear plastic. In order to have something special for MEGO Meet, David Lee, the head of Cast A Way, came up with the idea to use the clear bodies to pay tribute to the Henshin Cyborgs while showing off the customizing potential of the new Type S body.

Lord Akugon in his package

Lord Akugon in his package

I’m not sure how many different designs Cast A Way had at MEGO Meet. I think there were at least six. I picked up two of them, and they are gems. The packaging features a resealable clamshell with an insert, so that the figures can be taken out for play or dioramas, then be returned for display.

The beauty of the new “Henshin X” figures is in the simplicity of how they were very simply kitbashed and customized. Some of the body parts were dyed so that they took on color but retained their translucence. The Type S body is held together with screws, so it’s easy to open up the chest and insert extra cyborg guts. The heads were things that Cast A Way had on hand, painted silver or gold.

The Type S body is spectacular. Rather than try to simply duplicate the original MEGO bodies, which to be frank, sorta suck, Cast A Way and ZICA developed a much better body with more points of articulation, stronger joints and studier materials.

Lord Akugon

Lord Akugon

Though there are no names on the packaging, a quick search of some message boards reveals that the two figures I picked up are Lord Akugon and Ken. Akugon has a silver skull head, a cloak and boots, with purple dye coloring parts of his see-through body. This is one ridiculously sharp figure. Your eyes are instantly drawn to him.

Ken, who will likely get a name change if this line continues

Ken, who will likely get a name change if this line continues

Ken, in his clamshell

Ken, in his clamshell

Ken has green see-through body parts, with a gold head and chest insert. I’m lucky enough to have a couple of 12″ Henshin Cyborgs, and these guys will look perfect on the shelf next to them. Both figures came with an assortment of clear replacement hands in different poses.

These were produced for MEGO Meet, and I doubt that there are any left at this point, but you may want to contact David Lee to see if there may be a second run of these any time soon. I paid forty bucks each for these guys and they are worth every penny. You can reach David at leedavm@Yahoo.com.

Next up we have a bit of a disappointment. Funko, the folks who make those cool “Pop Vinyl” figures that you see everywhere, have decided to enter into the action figure nostalgia market with a new brand, ReAction. Sadly for me, they are aiming at a demographic at least ten years younger than I am.

I grew up in the golden age of action figures, with the original 12″ GI Joe, Johnny West, Major Matt Mason, Captain Action and then later the MEGO heroes. Kids who were born about a decade after me grew up with crappy little 3 3/4″ action figures. The early Star Wars toys were great because of the ships and vehicles. The figures were pretty poor. They were poorly-sculpted, with likenesses that rarely resembled the actors in the movies, and they were crudely articulated and barely poseable.

Of course, if you grew up with them, you think they were the greatest thing in the world. That’s the thinking behind Funko’s new “ReAction” division. They have signed up a ton of beloved, mostly 1980s or 90s, pop culture properties. They will be releasing figures based on The Nightmare Before Christmas, Predator, The Terminator, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Back to the Future, Escape from New York, Firefly, Scream, The Goonies, Universal Monsters, Pulp Fiction, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Hellraiser, Trick ‘R Treat, Halloween and The Crow.

And it's a "meh"

And it’s a “meh”

And our example today, The Rocketeer.

I’m a huge fan of Dave Stevens’ classic comic book, The Rocketeer, and I have wanted a good action figure of Cliff Secord for some time. I even have a custom figure that I made, but he doesn’t have a removable helmet. So I went ahead and ordered the ReAction Rocketeer, even though I had very low expectations.

Sadly, those low expectations were met. My ten bucks bought me a crudely-sculpted figure with no facial resemblance to either the actor from The Rocketeer movie or the drawings in the comic book. The paint is a bit sloppy, the articulation really bad and the helmet and jetpack are oversized.

Making matters worse, this is based on the movie, not the comic, so the jetpack looks clunkier anyway. The helmet is oversized and looks cheesy. And that face sure doesn’t look like Billy Campbell. The whole figure just looks bad. The Jodpurs that The Rocketeer wears are not captured well by this sculpt. He just looks like a guy with really fat knees and thighs. Add t that the fact that he only bends at the hips, shoulders and neck, and you can see that this is more a paperweight than a toy.

To be honest, I think ten bucks was too much for this, and I got a discount. I will not bother opening mine. He’ll go on the wall, or on a shelf. The package warns that “This is an adult collectible, Not a toy” and they are definitely correct. This is a sad excuse for an action figure. It’s more a knick-knack or a decoration.

Not too impressive

Not too impressive

Detail from the pack of the blister card, still..."meh"

Detail from the back of the blister card, still…”meh”

I can’t imagine that they spent much more than a dollar making this. If ReAction had gone in a different direction, basing their figures on the GI Joe Real American Hero figures, with full articulation and much higher detail, these figures would be much more appealing. As it is, probably due to spending so much on licenses, they made these on the cheap.

However, if you grew up on the early Star Wars action figures, the ones that cost a fortune now, but are barely poseable, you might fall in love with these crappy little action figures. When you grow up with a toy it’s easy to overlook its deficiencies. That’s one of the things that keeps the MEGO-style figures in the public eye. The original figures were basically crap, but people who grew up with them love them.

For folks like me, who are a little older, or folks who were born later and got to play with the cooler figures that came out later, these figures will just seem sub-par.

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