Monday, September 19, 2011

Ghostbusters: Ray Stantz (Marshmallow Mess) Figure Review

Flavor Text:

"Damn bird!"

Name: Ray Stantz

  • Doctor of Parapsychology
Ghostbuster Status:
  • Overly excited, nostalgic member of the group
  • Duly designated representative of the state, country, and city of New York
Quotable Quotes:

"I couldn't help it.  It just popped in there!"

(Page 1)

Habits & Hobbies:
  • Enjoys the company of female ghosts
  • Fondly recalls memories of Camp Wakonda
  • Casual smoker
  • Witnessed an undersea, unexplained mass sponge migration
  • Caused a rampaging, homicidal Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man to appear in New York

Office Supplies -
guide to nearby parallel dimensions
marshmallows, chocolate bar, stick

(Page 2)"


I'm 99.9% positive that this "exclusive" figure is the same exact Ray Stantz that was released much earlier on sans "marshmallow mess" paint application and gloved hands.  Unfortunately, as Mattel clearly stated online, they have no intention of resculpting the (uncharacteristically) serious-looking/squished Ray Stantz head.  It's an interesting choice though to have the "bubbliest" personality of the Ghostbusters to have such a dead-serious face, while the rest of the Ghostbusters crew have more "softer" (and smiling) faces.  I just don't get it.

Since Mattel reuses the same bodies for each Ghostbuster (even though each individual is of different height and weight), there's really nothing new to write or discuss about regarding the sculpt of these figures.  I would like to point out, however, that I think the gloved hands should be sculpted to be a bit thicker since the sculpt looks exactly the same size of their bare hands.

Stantz's reaction when told of how much Ghostbusters figures would cost.
At this point, I'm convinced this figure could've made a great "Sedgewick Hotel" exclusive figure.  The gloved hands, Ecto goggles, and walkie talkie; everything about this literally screams out "potential!" which was ignored due to lack of creativity/budget/care.  If they resculpted Ray's face with the right amount of "chubbiness" and included a cigarette in his mouth, Mattel would've had me in their pockets for quite some time.  Too bad Mattel lost their chance.


Stantz has approximately 18 points of articulation: ball-jointed head, ball-jointed shoulders, ball-jointed elbows, ball-jointed wrists, swivel waist, swivel-hinged legs, swivel upper thighs, hinged knees, swivel boots, and swivel-hinged ankles.  Due to the sculpt of the elbow guards, Stantz can't relax his arms down to his sides like normal people (or in this case, figures) and is forever cursed to his "perpetual bent-arm" syndrome.

Paint Application:

There's a tiny bit of Ray's "uniform" paint on the bottom right side of his cheek as well as some stains on his left collar.  Oh wait, there's also a smear of black paint on top of the "marshmallow mess" on the front of his uniform (that pig!).  What else is new?

"Why did Mattel even bother sculpting me?"
What really irks me about this particular figure is the lack of creativity and care on Mattel's part.  What they essentially did was to take the already produced (and released) Ray Stantz figure, attach Peter Venkman's gloved arms, and apply some white paint here and there.  From a paying customer's point of view, this just isn't right.  Does Mattel think they can run a business if they dish out figures of this [low] caliber?  If anyone at Mattel were serious, they would sculpt actual pieces of leftover Stay Puft on top of the already produced mold of Ray Stantz.  But wait, that would make things more expensive for them.  Screw that, just reuse the same figure and drop some white paint here and there to cover up the sloppy paint applications and call it "Marshmallow Mess" Ray.  I hope whoever came up with this idea was demoted or reassigned because this is unacceptable.


Mattel goes all-out with the accessories
"Marshmallow Mess" Stantz comes with a few more accessories than your typical Ghostbusters figure: "glow-in-the-dark" Ghostbusters logo stand, "glow-in-the-dark" proton stream, removable Ecto goggles, and walkie-talkie.  However, we finally get Ray's Ecto goggles that collector's have been demanding for a year or two.  Unfortunately, Mattel's execution leaves something more to be desired.  So, we also finally get a walkie-talkie, but (to me) it looks like a chocolate ice-cream sandwich.  It doesn't even have a working holster for it, so that's another easily-lost accessory.  I sometimes wonder if Mattel's toy designers (sorry, sculptors) think things through before creating something.

As you know, the Ghostbusters logo stand made its debut with the gloved Peter Venkman figure as did the "glow-in-the-dark" proton stream.  I suspect that Mattel ran out of ideas and wanted to save money without appearing to look cheap so they decided to include those two items with the "Club Ecto-1 Exclusive" figure.  Sheesh, and I thought I was cheap.  The inclusion of the Ghostbusters logo stand is a nice but utterly useless gesture.  First off, it's a bit too small for any Ghostbuster figure to stand in any sort of dynamic pose.  Secondly, it's "glow-in-the-dark".  Really?  I was under the impression that these figures were catering to the "adult" collector.  Hmmm... my mistake.  Oh wait, it says so on the packaging.

Now, the proton stream is a great accessory to have but it has one major problem.  Let me explain.  The "tip" (or insertion point) of the proton stream is molded to fit the tip of the neutrino wand (right by where the red wire is bent in a "U" shape).  Due to the length and weight of the proton stream, it ends up tilting (or bending) the tip of the neutrino wand out of shape.

We finally get the Ecto goggles!  How cool is that?  Well, the idea is cool, but the execution leaves something more to be desired.  It took me a long time to figure out what was bothering me about it; it turns out that the goggles are a bit too small.  At least in the movie, the Ecto goggles not only covered Stantz's eyes but also the sides of his head.  The plastic version is a miniature rectangular brightly green-colored box only manages to cover Ray's eyes.  I guess the problem is that the Ecto goggles looks more like a handheld camera with straps attached to it from three side.

While the inclusion of the walkie-talkie accessory is great, it would've been a whole lot better if Ray had a working holster to keep the walkie-talkie from being lost so easily.  PRO-TIP: It looks quite stupid to have a non-functioning holster sculpted on the figure when you include an accessory that clearly has to go in there.


It's the same "Ghostbusters" packaging with the angry Stay-Puft Marshmallow in the background with the figure behind a large "window-like" display.  I have to give props to Mattel for displaying their figures in really cool poses inside their respective packaging.  It definitely looks like Ray is blasting some paranormal ass back to the stone age.  It's a shame that the "coolness" factor is lost once the figure is removed from its packaging.


Kicking Necromorph butt... errr... wrong series.
It goes without saying the price paid for this figure is just absolutely ridiculous (that goes for the rest of Mattel's "Ghostbusters" line).  I've seen far more articulated and better sculpted figures with better material that go for cheaper than what Mattel is charging for each individual Ghostbusters figure.  If you've subscribed to Mattel's "Club Ecto-1," you'll be locked in until the end up this year.  Care to guess who didn't subscribe for next year's Ghostbusters line?

The Good:

* Proton stream accessory included!
* Ecto goggles are also included!

The Bad:

* Reused the same flawed Ray Stantz figure (*surprise*).
* "Marshmallow Mess," really?
* Still visible sloppy paint applications and stray marks.

The Ugly:

* Uncreative and unsuccessful implementation of the "marshmallow mess".
* Overly expensive price for a previously released figure with white paint all over it.


Not spending extra time scoring this dud.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

(Reminiscing) Resident Evil 4 Series 1: Leon S. Kennedy (without coat) Action Figure

Flavor Text:

"Oh shit...."
None.  Just one main picture of the actual figure (in this case, Leon) that takes up more than half of the back of the package.  The remaining bottom space is used to show [four] pictures of the other Resident Evil figures from "Series 1" which include: Ada Wong, Chainsaw Ganado, Verdugo, and Leon S. Kennedy.


"Damn paparazzi!"
I remember people complaining about how strange Leon's face looked when he was first released.  His hair sculpt does make him look like a lead singer of a boy band.  But is it really that bad?  It depends on the angle.  You could place a scaled guitar accessory in Leon's hands and he will definitely look like he's rocking the joint.

One of the things that used to bother me was Leon's "hunched over" look coupled with his pre-posed arms.  This really limited the number of poses Leon could do.  That said, Leon is in that pose most of the time in Resident Evil 4 (video game).  Not to mention that most figures during that time had a limited amount of articulation as well (for a 7-inch collector figure line).  Leon looks great when posing with his handgun, but otherwise looks extremely awkward without it.

My biggest problem lies with Leon's inability to hold most of his accessories.  His pre-posed hands need to be "tightened" a bit more, at least just enough so that his weapons won't wobble around (especially the sub-machine gun) when placed in his right hand.  Either that or have the grip of Leon's weapons be thicker. However, I believe NECA designed him with a "looser" grip so that Leon can actually grasp the shotgun accessory.  Also, what's up with that "opened palm" left hand?  Is Leon gonna have to smack a bitch?  Or perhaps do the "talk to the hand" bit?

Without a doubt, NECA is well known for their attention to detail, and this figure is no different from the rest of their offerings (at the time).  The "leather" straps around Leon's upper body is extremely well sculpted.  I especially love the sculpt of the sidearm holster which is under Leon's left arm.  Unfortunately, his handgun accessory doesn't stay for long and eventually falls out.  The other holster strapped around Leon's right leg is a little "squished" for some reason, but it can hold the handgun pretty well.  The only thing that sticks out like a sore thumb is Leon's right hand where one of his fingers has some sort of cyst growing out of control.


Leon S. Kennedy is articulated with: ball-jointed neck, ball-jointed shoulders, swivel biceps, swivel wrists, swivel waist, and swivel ankles. 

The amount of articulation on Leon is pretty standard back then as it is even now with the exception of a few ball-joints here and there.  However, an "ab-crunch" joint would've definitely improved this figure a lot.  Since this was NECA's first foray into the Resident Evil world (and probably because they were given a limited budget), collectors like myself should consider themselves lucky to even have a Resident Evil figure in their hands.

My only question is this: why bother adding articulation for the ankles?  More specifically what's the point of having articulation in his left ankle when the sculpt of his jeans limits any movement?  The right ankles swivels quite nicely, but the left ankle slightly budges.  I would've kept that money and put it towards another area.

That said, I would love to see NECA redo some of the their previously released Resident Evil figures and give them even more articulation (and improve some of their sculpts), like they've done with their Gears of War line.

Paint Application:

Most of the paint application on this figure is pretty spot on.  A few stray marks here and there, spots here and there don't detract from the overall value of the figure.  However, as others have mentioned, when you look underneath Leon's nose, you'll notice that NECA actually painted Leon's nostrils!  It really looks... distracting, but it's not noticeable when you place him on the table.  Just try not to look underneath Leon.  You've been warned.

The main thing that bothers me about this figure is the color of Leon's pants.  I do recall Leon wearing dark blue jeans, not black.  So why has NECA given Leon a pair of black jeans?  Strange, isn't it?  So much for video game accuracy...  (Actually depending on what light you're using, you will be able to notice that Leon's jeans are dark blue or at least they're not absolutely black).

Either because the sculpt of the right hand or (most likely) due to the plastic material of his handgun, the "flesh" paint inside of Leon's right hand is easily scraped off revealing the black underneath.  Maybe NECA should rely on using softer rubber-like material for their weapon accessories (like they did with Resident Evil 5's Sheva Alomar's handgun).


Couldn't find all the accessories for the photo shoot
Leon comes with: a knife, handgun with laser pointer, shotgun, sub-machine gun, 3x grenades (2x regular and 1x incendiary grenade), and a health spray.  Of the eight, Leon can only (barely) hold two, which are [thankfully] guns.

"What... what is this?"
The sub-machine gun (SMG) accessory is a joke because there's no way Leon can hold onto it.  Even the slightest movement will cause the [useless] SMG accessory to fall right out of his "kung-fu" grip.  Leon can't grasp any of his grenade accessories, unless you lay them on the "open palmed" left hand flat, which looks ridiculous.  As you can see in the above photo, I managed to shove in the health spray accessory into his "handgun" grip.  Because most of the accessories are relatively small, they're also easily lost (grenades and health spray).  It would've been really nice to have a place to hook or insert the grenade accessories on Leon's belt.

You know what they say about people who carry really small knives...
Probably the most shameful is that Leon can't hold onto his trusty knife!  If you've ever played Resident Evil 4 (video game) you'd know that Leon can use his knife to either conserve ammo or show off his awesome knifing skills.  His deadly skills with the knife also plays a pivotal role during his first encounter with Krauser later on.  The problem with the knife accessory is the handle is way too small and Leon's pre-posed right hand grip is too loose.  The blade could also be a bit longer and bigger.  At least the knife accessory fits nicely in its leather holster!


This figure comes in a really bulky clamshell, which you'd think protects the figure and the package itself really well, but it doesn't.  Due to the sheer size, I think NECA decided to use really thin plastic because it really doesn't do a good job of staying together and is easily dented and scratched.  The backdrop of the packaging is of the church surrounded by a graveyard with strange Ganado symbols.


It's been quite some time since I purchased this figure, so I no longer remember how much I paid for this bad boy.  However, you can look online now and see how inflated the prices are.  For some reason though, Leon (with jacket) costs way more than Leon (without jacket).  Strange, huh?  Maybe that rocket launcher accessory is really something...

Additional Information:

Product Development
Randy Falk

Art Direction/Paint
Ed Repka

Kyle Windrix

Oliver Brig

Asst. Paint
Karin Simeone

Adam Smith

Nicolle M. Puzzo

Brian Roll

Licensing for Capcom
Marc Mostman

The Good:

* Finally a Resident Evil figure from the popular "Resident Evil 4" video game (thank you, NECA)!

* Pretty amazing detailing job done by the NECA crew.

* Facial sculpt of Leon S. Kennedy is pretty "video game" accurate!

* Figure made from very durable material (dropped this sucker a few times, not on purpose, I swear)!

* Love the inclusion of the ball-jointed articulation.

The Bad:

* Mostly useless accessories.

* Limited articulation (but that was pretty standard back in the day).

* Strange articulation in certain places.

The Ugly:

* Most of the accessories don't fit in either hand.

* Retailers trying to milk Resident Evil enthusiasts by creating artificial "demand" by hiking prices between the Leon S. Kennedy (without coat) and Leon S. Kennedy (with coat) even though these were available 50/50 per case!