Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Gauntlet of the 5 Ps: A Toy Review

Just so we understand each other, I'm only interested in awesome toys. I don't care if they're vintage or new. What do I mean by "awesome"? Glad you asked. All toys fall under my 5 part scale that, luckily for you, I'm willing to share. I call them "The 5 Ps". The categories are: Package, Paint, Parts, Poseability, and Planning. (Price would have been included, but let's face it, you and I both know that if you want it bad enough, you'll justify that purchase.) Package, Paint, and Poseablitly are pretty self explanatory. Parts and Planning, on the other hand, may need a little extra info. "Parts" is my way of saying Accessories, while Planning covers a whole list of things from the color of plastic used to the sculpt itself. Scores range from 0 to 10, and every figure starts at 5. You impress me, you get a point added to your score. Try and play me for a novice, you'll pay for it in the form of subtracted points. And don't worry, I'll list my reasoning for each so, agree or not, you'll see where I'm coming from. Score all 10s and you get the coveted R. Ticulation Certified Seal of Awesome!

Oh, and for the record, I am looking at these toys through the lens of display. How cool can I get these toys to look on my shelf? I don't care how much kids would enjoy playing with these things or how good/bad the TV show/cartoon/movie was. That's not to say I won't comment on these things, but in no way will they sway my scoring.

I bought a Star Wars The Clone Wars Captain Rex a while back. I wanted a mail-away Boba Fett with the firing missile. You know the one. Got the thing and the card was dinged up in shipping. Not happy about that, and they wouldn't replace it either. But, I'm drifting. Rex got pulled out of the package and posed on my shelf. Let's put him through the meat grinder of the 5 Ps and see what comes out the other end.

Package: 6

Nothing too impressive. I like these darker blue packages better than the white ones of the year before. I also enjoy that you get a pic of the character, but disappointed that it's, pretty much, just a head shot. Collectors have to be happy about the cardboard backing and the glued blister, though. I know I was. It's just like old times. I hated those older blister cards with the tape slapped on all over the back. I'm glad Star Wars toys got away from that, but the curse lingers on in other toy lines, that I won't mention. (Cough.) Captain America Movie Figures (Cough.) Ahem. But the cardboard itself is a double edged sword. It looks nice, but there are so many angles on this card that it's hard to find one that doesn't have a dulled corner.

Paint: 5

Again, this is a kids toy so the paint applications aren't exactly the highest priority on Hasbro's list. It would be nice if they could mimic the scratched-up-detailing-look from the Star Wars The Clone Wars computer animated show, but then I think back to the first wave of "dirty" Clone Wars Troopers and how crappy that looked so I think what they got going, for now, works.

Parts: 9

I'm a big fan of accessories. I love how this guy gets two pistols, a rifle, and a missile launcher AND a missile with a cable attached AND AND AND a helmet. Just make sure you buy a helmet that isn't turning yellow. You'll notice that some of the other clone figures suffer the same discoloration on their legs and chest pieces. Cheap plastic, sun discoloration, or whatever the reason, take a closer look before you throw one in your basket.

Can a figure have too many accessories? You wouldn't think so, but then you haven't met the Star Wars Galactic Battle Game. Now, have I played this game? No. Do I ever plan to play this game? No. Did anyone ask for a game to be included with their figures? Not me. Like the game or not, we all know this die, skill set card, and figure stand were just another way to justify an increase in price. It's like paying for that two year phone contract when you only wanted a year. You don't have a choice to just get what you want. And the stand? A well made figure shouldn't need no stinking stand. A figure should stand on it's own. I'm so tempted to just throw that stuff right in the trash, but my collector instincts won't let me.

Poseablitly: 10

Thanks to the Clone Wars Movie I had almost sworn off Star Wars for good. Horrible story aside, I felt this advertised "new" look ripped off the character designs from Genndy Tartakovsky's Clone Wars cartoon shorts and pretended they never happened. I saw the figures in the stores and the Jedi figures didn't have any knee joints and the Clone Troopers, going for that battle worn look, had instead a "dipped in tar" look.

By accident, I stumbled across some of the deeper episodes of The Clone Wars: Season 1, and actually enjoyed them. I'm thinking specifically of the "Rookies", "Lair of Grievous", and Cad Bane's introductory episode. By the time I saw these episodes, the new packaging was on the shelves and the dirty clones were a thing of the past. When I came across the Clone figures again, I noticed their wrist joints. That put me over the top and I started collecting Star Wars figures again. The subtle tilts bring a realism to how the Rex holds his pistols or tucks his rifle into his shoulder. With Rex's ball jointed head, you can tilt his head to look down the sights of his rifle. Then you have the waist joint. If you ask me, every figure needs a waist joint. For this figure it's bumped up to just below the chest, but it serves the same purpose and has been engineered not only for side-to-side movement, but also up and down. I'm also a fan of the ankle joints. They're not very useful for standard flat footed poses, but that subtle, added joint allows for some dynamic stances.

Planning: 8

Again, my hats off to Genndy Tartakovsky's idea of designing skirts for the figures. They just look too skinny without them. The shoulder pad also helps bulk up this bean pole. The face looks alright. I give the bald head with painted hair a pass since I know the head will be used for umpteen other Clones. My biggest beef is the trigger finger on the right hand. Why not design a mold with a separated trigger finger like the left hand? Without that correction, he's pointing his arm at, let's say, 12 o'clock, but his gun is pointing to 2 o'clock. How hard would that have been? Not hard at all I figured and broke apart my razor and became a toy surgeon. Ever so carefully, I sliced between the index and middle finger. With a little black marker touch up, Rex can actually point his arm in the direction he wants to shoot.

Now, I've noticed the newest clones actually have two trigger fingers. (Yeah!) But, now the wrist joints are gone and Jedi figures are loosing ankle joints. (Boo!) Are these figures actually de-evolving? That's a topic for another time. But, for this figure, the placement and design of the joints allow for numerous sweet poses.

So there you go. Rex makes the Top 10 of Clone Wars figures, but you might want to keep him in his package unless you're willing to take a razor blade to his finger. Now I've got to buy another Cody, Gree, and maybe a Wolfee figure (if I can find one) and put all four of them into a group pose.

Until next time, I'll see you in the toy aisles.

R. Ticulation

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