Sunday, May 23, 2010

Indiana Jones: Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Figure Review

Back sometime during the winter of 2007 and early 2008, there was news of Indiana Jones action figures being released later that year (2008).  Like most (okay, ALL) collectors, I was extremely thrilled with such welcoming news.  However, I was worried that these figures would be made in such a way to appeal more to the younger crowd.  As early pictures surfaced of these figures, the more excited I became.  I had to have these figures, yesterday!  However, I was a bit cautious with purchasing some of the Indiana Jones figures, because it seemed the prototypes were much better than the actual [released] product. 

Flavor Text:

"In his quest to uncover the secrets of the crystal skull, Indiana Jones races against the evil Irina Spalko.  With the help of the young and rebellious Mutt Williams, Indy destroys much of the Russian forces and takes the rest on a deadly chase through the Peruvian jungle, leading to a final confrontation at the lost temple of Akator."

The Good:

  • Indy has 14 points of articulation: ball-jointed neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel/hinge elbows, swivel wrists, swivel waist, swivel hips, swivel/hinge knees, and swivel/hinge ankles.
  • Indy comes with a total of 7 accessories: 2x left hands (1x pre-posed to hold his pistol and 1x grasping the titular crystal skull); 1x Indy's well-known fedora; 1x equally famous [uncoiled] bullwhip; 1x revolver; 1x satchel; and 1x "hidden" [Eye of the Peacock] relic (and sticker of said relic).
  • The facial sculpt of Indiana Jones (a la Harrison Ford) are amazingly dead-on accurate.

  • It's really nice to see that Indy's joints are surprisingly tight, despite all the bending and twisting I've put him through for action poses.
  • The (2x) interchangeable [left] hands are easily swappable and fit in their respective hold tightly.  On a side note, Indy's revolver fits perfectly into his partially "open-grip" pre-posed hand as well.

The Bad:
  • This Indy figure suffers the same symptoms as some of Hasbro's Star Wars action figure line of not being able to hold onto his weapon (I refer to his uncoiled bullwhip).  It looks as if Indy can hold onto his whip while he's inside the packaging.  However, once he's removed, Indiana can no longer grab ahold of it.  For shame, really.

  • Indy's fedora looks a bit too big for his small head.  It would've been nice to see an alternate head with the hat sculpted on included with this figure.  However, after placing the hat onto his head, it looks almost as if the fedora is sized appropriately.  Since the Indy's fedora is sculpted to fit his head tightly, be aware that his hair [paint application] will come off eventually and smear on the insides of his beloved "adventuring" hat.

  • Overall, the paint application is pretty consistent with Indy.  Unfortunately, this consistency is moderately interrupted by the sloppy paint application on poor aging Indy's "head and facial" area.  The gray-colored paint has over-reached and invades the right-side if Indy's head.  A mis-application on the left-side of his face is also visible.  His left ear is covered in gray paint.  Also, the brown paint (supposed to be Indy's beard) is missing on the bottom left-side of his face.  From a distance, Indy's eyes seem to be painted alright.  Upon closer inspection, you can clearly see his right eye is painted in such a way that it looks poor old Harrison Ford has a lazy eye.

  • This is more of a gripe than something I consider "bad" about this figure: if you look at Indy's holster, you'll notice that it's sculpted (amazingly well-done, by the way) to show his revolver is holstered.  It would've been far better to have a functional holster to hold his (really small thus very easy to lose) revolver.

The Ugly:

  • If there's anything ugly, it's the packaging: (1) The design looks as if to appeal to a much younger age group (and probably is, otherwise there would be no guarantee this line would make that much money to justify continuing production of Indiana Jones figures) and (2) The amount of effort to remove the figure is a bit excessive.  Do you know how many pieces of tape and plastic I had to get through just to get the figure out?  That's far too many.
  • Although I can understand how some may view the inclusion of "hidden relics" as a neat idea, but it seems rather.... childish.  I wish Hasbro would stop including such things and instead use those materials to further improve their figures rather than worry about including something "extra" (aka unnecessary).

Additional Notes:

  • If you haven't noticed/heard already, this line is (unfortunately) DEAD.  Hey, at least you can find some real bargins purchasing these figures!

I most likely purchased this figure from online retailer HasbroToyShop, however, I'm not so sure which one because it's been so long.  You could probably find some really good bargins at BigBadToyStore or even Toysrus.  I'm not even going to recommend Entertainment Earth because I just noticed that they have this figure on sale for $11.99 (just read the title "Indiana Jones with Crystal Skull Action Figure, Not Mint" and right next to the price "Great Deal").   I see they still rip off their loyal customers.  Nice.  If you still have trouble finding this figure or others from online retailers, I suggest checking out eBay, but good luck.


After careful browsing of the Internet and other toy sites, I settled on purchasing this particular Indiana Jones figure as well as others.  Despite the negatives I've listed above, overall, I think this figure is well-balanced and [fairly] indicative of what to expect from the rest of the Indiana Jones action figure line.

Score (out of five):


Saturday, May 8, 2010

K-On!: Yui Hirasawa Figma Review

I've never heard of K-On! until I saw this Figma up for pre-order on various online Japanese toy specialty stores.  Unfortunately for me, all the pre-orders were sold out in record time (the minute they were up, everything was sold out).  I saw clearer pictures and read the description of the figure on the Max Factory "Figma" blog and was blown away by the cuteness of the character.  I scoured all of eBay and finally settled on one of those sellers from Hong Kong (who also had a very high sell rating) at a somewhat reasonable price.  I eventually found and watched all thirteen episodes of K-On! which told me that I was going to be poor once again.

The Good:

  • Yui has approximately 14 points of articulation: swivel/hinged neck, ball-jointed shoulders, quasi-swivel/hinged elbows, swivel/hinged wrists, [hidden] ball-jointed waist, swivel/hinged hips, quasi-swivel/hinged knees, and swivel/hinged/"rocking" ankles.

  • Yui comes loaded with accessories as expected from Max Factory's Figma line: 3x faces (one "determined" looking face; one "cute/smiling" face; and one "blank" face), 1x Gibson Les Paul standard electric guitar accessory (which Yui nicknames "Giita"), 2x [front] hairpieces, 1x guitar case, 4x right-hands, 4x left-hands, 2x pairs of shoes, 3x "straps" (for the guitar and guitar case), 1x "Figma" stand, 1x sheet of various "facial expressions" water decals (for use with the "blank" face accessory), 1x cardboard cut-out of a stage, and 1x "Figma" plastic pouch (to hold Yui and her accessories).

  • The facial expressions of Yui's face are dead-on accurate.  Just glancing at the figure helps me relive Yui's moments in specific parts of the "K-On!" anime.

  • Yui's Gibson Les Paul standard electric guitar accessory is surprisingly detailed to a point (unfortunately you won't find this guitar stringed up).

The Bad:
  • Apparently, Max Factory decided that having the consumer do some of the work was a good idea (I fart in their general direction).  I refer to the "straps" which I had to [painfully] attach to both the guitar and the guitar case.  Why did I pay these guys in the first place?
  • The instructions on how to use and apply the facial expression "decals" onto the "blank" face are in Japanese.  Once again, Max Factory leaves it to the consumer to figure that one out.  Gee, thanks.
  • Yui's head has a tendency to fall off at the neck [joint] (especially if you swivel her head around).  It's irritating to say the least, but at least you can always "pop" it back on.

  • Slight paint mis-applications, but nothing too major.

The Ugly:

  • If there's anything ugly, it's the price.  And yes, I'm aware that import toys are usually more expensive.  That, and the limited availability of these K-On! figmas for purchase.

Additional Notes:

  • There are a lot of bootleg (fake) figmas floating around on eBay.  However, I've noticed that legitimate figmas often have a holographic sticker somewhere on the packaging itself (for instance, the holographic sticker is placed on the front of the packaging).

  •  I may be wrong about this, but also look for the "figma" logo and number on the "inside" flap when opening the package (it should be on the right-side).  There should also be a picture accompanied by an explanation showing how to remove the hairpiece and face accessory.

I purchased this Yui figma from a Hong Kong seller on eBay for $53.44 (includes S&H) while "K-On!" was in its "popular" phase.  You should be able to find better prices by now on eBay.  As I've mentioned before, there are a lot of bootleg versions out there.  Examine the price before bidding on anything; if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.  Also, ask the seller whether or not this is a bootleg.  If it turns out it is, you have proof that you've been deceived and most likely will receive a full refund.  If you want to avoid the hassles of determining whether the figma you're purchasing is a bootleg, I'd recommend purchasing them from other fine retailers.

I've had several figmas before so it's no surprise how well-sculpted their figures are.  I just hope we get to see a few figmas from other animes that I've been dying to get (for example: "Ah! My Goddess").  The folks at Max Factory have done an amazing job with this figure.  For a "K-On!" fan, this is clearly a MUST-HAVE.  For others, check out the anime (it's not for everyone) first.  Or if you like cute-looking figures, Yui is the one to get. 

Score (out of five):