Monday, October 25, 2010

31 Days of Halloween - Day 25: Toy Review Blade: Trinity – Abigail Whistler By Hot Toys

I have cut back dramatically on my purchasing of 1/6th scale figures in the past several months. As much as I love the products that Sideshow Collectibles offers, the average sale price for a single figure has jumped from around $80.00 to $110.00. I just can’t justify it like I used to.
I’ll still pick up a figure from time to time if it is something really special. If they do a great job on Zartan or Destro I might have to pony up. Although after skipping Firefly, I’m kind of thinking I might have that habit beat. If I can turn down my favorite Joe character ever I should be able to avoid any further temptation. As far as their Star Wars line goes, there are only a few characters that haven’t been produced yet that I would want to have. Those are mostly from the Expanded Universe (the Solo kids, Mara Jade, Pellaeon), so I’m not going to hold my breath.
As long as their line of zombie figures - The Dead – stays under a hundred bucks apiece I’ll keep getting those.
All of this talk of not spending too much money brings me to the subject of today’s toy review: Hot Toys’ $149.99 Abigail Whistler figure.

While I do feel a bit like I’m out of my fucking mind for spending that much an a single figure… well, I guess I kind of am. But it’s a figure of Jessica Biel and it’s from a movie I really love. I mean, I wouldn’t have bought one from Seventh Heaven or anything. And to be fair, if they do a Hannibal King I’ll be ordering one for Mrs. Troublemaker. And we can only hope they do one of Triple H and his fluffy little dog.


First Glance: The only other Hot Toys figure I have seen in person was their first 1/6th scale Iron Man (and holy shit, do I wish I had bought it) and that had much nicer packaging than this one. Whistler’s daughter comes in what basically amounts to a shoebox. Once you open it up, it is instantly apparent that this figure is far superior in artistry to anything Sideshow has ever done. Don’t get me wrong – I have always held Sideshow’s products in the highest regard; but this Hot Toys product is just a whole other level.
Sculpt: This is a marvel (Marvel?) of toy engineering. I’m going to start at the top and work my way down.
The hair on this figure is the best I’ve seen at this scale. I’m not a big fan of rooted hair and a single, sculpted piece is almost never the way to go for anything more than shoulder-length. What Hot Toys went with was several layers and different pieces to create an effect that looks as close as you going to get to Biel’s hair in the movie. It is flexible and doesn’t interfere with the figure’s head movement or with placement of clothing or accessories. It is also colored in a way that you could never achieve with rooted hair.
The head sculpt is dead-on Jessica Biel and it is on top of a neck joint like I’ve never seen before. The head piece itself swivels and pivots, but there is another joint where the neck connects with the body that allows an amazing range of motion – far more than any other figure I own.
But wait,” you might be saying, “that other joint must be awfully ugly, just sitting between the shoulder blades and above the boobies like that.”
Here’s the most amazing thing about this figure: the arms and torso are an armature that is (except for the shoulders) entirely covered with a flexible, life-like rubber skin. While this does limit the figure’s poseability somewhat, it is actually more reminiscent of a human being’s actual range of movement. All those crazy double joints on your typical higher-end 1/6th scale figure are real neat and all, but most people can’t touch their lower backs by reaching over their shoulders. Plus, those joints look like crap on figures that aren’t clothed from neck to ankle.
If you are used to the standard Sideshow articulation this new style does take some getting used to. While you can achieve pretty much any reasonable pose you want, it does take some experimenting with the way these concealed joints move to get there; and you do need to be cautious and slow with how you so it. The figure seems very sturdy, but I wouldn’t go just wrenching parts around all willy-nilly if I were you. Don’t expect them to move the way you are used to. And there is a small instructional sheet specifying how to move certain parts so that you dumb ass doesn’t break it right out of the box. I appreciate that because I definitely have the propensity to be a dumbass.
The figure comes with three sets of hands. The right hand has an archer’s glove and has three different poses: fist, drawing the bow and holding the pistol. The left is bare and also has three positions: fist, tight grip and loose grip. They can hold all of the accessories included with the figure, though the UV laser-slicer thing is a bit too big for the tight grip and a bit too small for the loose grip. Not a big deal; a little creative positioning pretty much takes care of it.
The only issue I have is the potential this skin material might have for deterioration. I think it is entirely possible that my lady vampire hunter is going to look pretty gross in ten or fifteen years. Hopefully not, but I guess we’ll see. I’ll update you via our shared interbrain access ports. Or a message scrawled on a piece of irradiated bark – it depends on how soon the aliens come, I guess.
From the waist down the articulation seems the same as you would expect from any figure in this scale. I have no intention of taking the clothes off of Ms. Whistler, so I couldn’t say for sure; but the waist and legs move just as you would expect. Her ankle joints are useless, but that’s because the figure has boots on.
Design: Once again, head-to-toe.
The hair, as I mentioned above, has a very nice paint job. There are a couple of different shades going from the roots to the tips that looks just like Biel’s hair in the movie.
The face is where the figure really starts to impress. I have no idea how many paint applications were involved here, but the deco is unlike anything I’ve seen before. There are subtle moles, freckles and shades that perfectly match photos of Biel. On top of that is very light makeup just like the movie. The eyeballs and lips have a gloss to them that really give the figure a lot more character.
I totally believe that the rubber skin on the torso and arms of the figure was made by a wizard. It is unbelievable how amazing and lifelike this stuff looks. The photographs I have here in no way do justice to the detail. There are small freckles and subtle changes in skin tone all over. There are even places where veins are just barely visible underneath the skin. This is technically an aspect of the sculpting, but there are also slightly raised veins in places; as well as a scar on the figure’s left shoulder that matches one Biel has. This skin is one of the most amazing things I have ever seen on a toy.
Clothing: This is not normally a section in my toy reviews, but there is so much to discuss on this figure that I felt it was necessary. From head to toe again:
Let’s start with the jacket. This is the red and brown motorcycle-style jacket from the movie. While the front zipper is not functional (and shouldn’t be – the jacket would be too large and hang wrong if it were big enough to zip up), the zippers on the sleeves are. Just like in the movie, when you want Whistler posed with the bow you can unzip the sleeves to move the arms around. Here’s a tip, though: If you do go crazy like I did and order this figure, be very careful removing the plastic wrapping that the jacket comes in. It is sticky and pulled two of the snaps off the damned jacket. This is definitely not cool.
(Yes – I know she’s holding it too high, but I didn’t feel like futzing with the arms enough to get it just right. You get the idea.)
Underneath the jacket is a tank top with functional drawstrings in the back and a red bra underneath that. The tank top is one of those nice feats of toy engineering where the fabric looks great even though it is such a small scale. Sideshow is very good at this and I am always impressed when somebody pulls such a thing off. The design on the front matches the movie version perfectly.
The figure has the protective leather (like) sleeve on its right arm and I am very impressed with how flexible and adjustable it is. Usually with a piece like this it is very difficult to move around, which you will likely want to do since it will have gotten displaced during packaging and shipping. It’s especially impressive given that it is on top of the rubbery skin stuff. There is even a little piece of elastic to hook over the thumb to keep it in place.
Ms. Whistler has brown leather (like) pants that have the knee reinforcement and extension panels like the full-size version. There is a belt with a big ‘ol country buckle with an “A” on it (for “Abigail”, presumably) that I never even noticed in the movie. One possible reason I didn’t notice that belt buckle is that my attention was probably focused on the strap-on harness Jessica Biel wears throughout Blade: Trinity. Yep. That’s what that is. Just check the commentary if you don’t believe me. Or an Adam & Eve catalog. Said harness is faithfully recreated in 1/6th scale on this figure, which makes it probably the weirdest toy I own. Certainly the kinkiest. The figure also has a holster for the revolver and an attachment that straps to the left leg and the harness to store the folded-up version of the bow.
The boots look so good that I actually thought they were a fabric until I tried to move the ankles. The stitching is great and the texture is just amazing. The right boot has a slot in the front for the included knife.
Accessories: Abigail comes with the shit-ton of accessories you have come to expect from high-end 1/6th scale figures. I’ll break it down as best I can.
As far as archery goes, the figure comes with a compound bow with a functional string, a version of the bow folded up, a quiver with three tubes for support, three arrows with different tips (explosive, UV and gas are my guesses – I haven’t watched the movie in a while) and six dummy arrows for the quiver (without heads so they’ll fit). Everything has an astounding amount of detail. The sight on the bow is removeable, the arrowheads have multiple paint apps and the quiver has a small piece of elastic to facilitate fitting it over Ms. Whistler’s head and arm.
There is a snub-nosed revolver with an opening and rotating cylinder. It is made of several different pieces and looks great. You’ll swear it must be die-cast until you touch it, the paint is so good.
Whistler also includes that UV laser slicer thing that I guess was David Goyer’s answer to the lightsaber. It’s neat and all, but it was probably my least-favorite piece of tech from any of the Blade movies. It just seemed overly complicated. Hot Toys did do a great job of reproducing it here, though. All of the sculpting and paint is accurate and the laser beam looks very nice, with little bursts at each connecting end.
Last but not least, the figure comes with a couple of different blades. There is the boot knife I mentioned above, that can be placed in the toe of the right boot. Now that I think about it, the figure could probably hold it between the fingers of its “bow drawing” right hand as well. Ms. 

Whistler’s other knife is my favorite weapon of the bunch. It is the one that pops out of a housing mechanism that attaches to the figure’s forearm. It looks really neat and works well.
Packaging: Like I said, Abigail pretty much comes in a shoebox. It is a nice shoebox, though. The graphics all look great and it is perfectly functional. It just doesn’t have as much pizzazz as Sideshow’s boxes, much less the Hot Toys Iron Man that I saw. Whatever. It does the job and will store just fine.
Overall: Damn what a fine figure. This one is absolutely, positively worth every penny. I cannot come up with one single thing production-wise I would change about it.
5 out of 5
I was tempted to knock a point off because of the snaps that came off of the jacket. That packaging is definitely a flaw and should be addressed. I just couldn’t do it, though. The figure is so absolutely perfect that I couldn’t let a packaging error hurt the overall score.
If it is practical for you to do so and you are a fan of either Ms. Biel or Blade: Trinity, you owe it to yourself to buy this figure. Say it’s a Christmas present to yourself or whatever, but go ahead and order one. You won’t be sorry.
Just for shits and giggles, I thought I’d take a shot of Whistler with my old Marvel Masterpiece Blade II figure. 
This one was pretty hot shit at the time (and seemed expensive, too - $34.99!), but I thought once I put it side-by-side with this one it would just be embarrassing:
Not too bad, really. It can’t compare with the this Hot Toys figure, but it’s not like putting the old Hasbro Han Solo next to the Sideshow Princess Leia, which is kind of the effect I was expecting. Obviously his weapons look absolutely goofy and huge and I still don’t know what the fuck those things on his vest are supposed to be, but he still looks pretty good.
That’s not to say I wouldn’t buy the Hot Toys version if I came across him relatively cheap.
Until next time, stay creepy
-Phantom

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