Thursday, February 20, 2014

Toy Review – Game of Thrones Legacy Collection: Daenerys Targaryen from Funko

I never imagined that I would be writing a review of a highly articulated 6” scale action figure from Funko. Or that it would be from a line that I had dreamed about (and thought highly unlikely) since the franchise’s first television episode. Or that it would have been designed by one of the most acclaimed houses in the toy world – Gentle Giant – and therefore compatible with the correspondingly scaled Star Wars Black line.

Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way – Funko started dropping 10-megaton geek bombs on the world late last year and hasn’t stopped. 
 
Starting with the announcement of their partnership with Super 7 to produce the Alien ReAction figures right up through the super-secret and unbelievably fast release of their Game of Thrones 6” line, this toy company that I have previously had zero interest in has been making moves that have impressed the heck out of me and have the toy collecting world talking up a storm. If I’m being honest, it’s about the damndest thing I’ve seen since I started collecting toys.

I didn’t watch Game of Thrones until the first season came out on Blu-Ray (be sure to check out my recaps of the first season). We didn’t have HBO at the time and I didn’t really know anything about it. I hadn’t read the books, and won’t until the show is done. I learned my lesson about that with the Harry Potter movies. I watched the first couple of movies and was so impressed that I borrowed all of the books from my sister-in-law and read them. Quickly. What that meant was that all of the following movies let me down. Not because they were bad, but because movies simply cannot compare to the scope and magnitude of books. So now when I come to a new franchise through TV or movies I do not read the books until it’s done.

I was hooked on Game of Thrones from the first episode. As early as the second I was imagining what action figures might look like, what would be the best scale, and how badly a line could be bungled. I thought the best scale would be 3.75” in the style of Hasbro’s Indiana Jones releases from a few years ago. Those looked more realistic than most lines at that scale and the size makes vehicles (horses and carts and such) and playsets more likely. As far as how the line could be bungled I think there are plenty of examples out there of entire lines that are poorly made, poorly distributed, poorly planned, and/or just plain ugly.
It never occurred to me that we might get super-articulated, highly detailed, 6” scale figures.

And certainly not from Funko.

As far as the launch goes, I don’t know if Funko kept it secret as a surprise for the release of the third season of the show on Blu-Ray and DVD or if they’re just not very good at marketing. I have to kind of doubt the latter. Either way, the internet was surprised when the first wave of figures popped up on eBay, soon followed by the revelation that they were available in Barnes & Noble stores. The figures had a street date of February 15th, but apparently a shocking number of B&N employees can’t read.

I managed to order Daenerys – one of my top picks – from the store’s website about ten minutes before she sold out. All of the other figures were already gone. Luckily for me Phantomaniac and super-pal Sally was able to get me the rest of the series, so those reviews will be coming over the next few weeks.

FIRST GLANCE

Once the figures started hitting the internet I was hearing about quality control problems. The main issue seemed to be the use of translucent plastic pins in the joints. As any toy collector knows, such pins tend to be brittle and can break easily (not to mention they can look ugly depending on how they are used). I also heard about issues with stuck joints – the most common problem plaguing modern action figures. So it was with no small amount of trepidation that I opened the figure up after it arrived on Tuesday.
 
I was delighted to find that visually Daenerys was beautiful. As good as – if not better than – any Star Wars Black figures I had seen (she puts that hideous monkey-faced Leia to shame). The joints weren’t ugly and the paint looked great.
PACKAGING

It amuses me that this is almost exactly the same packaging as the Star Wars Black line. Funko is not being shy about where their resources are coming from. I like this window box design, as it looks nice and is easy to shop (if not to photograph).
 
The graphics are quite nice, with different glosses and a foil embossed Funko logo to make it extra classy. The left side looks like a book, which is neat:
The back is refined, with a picture of the character and a list of names of the rest of the figures in the series rather than pictures. This works for me, as it makes the packaging look less cluttered. There's no bio, but I can’t imagine anybody is going to buy these without knowing the characters intimately.
I find it interesting that the line is for 17+. Does that mean we can expect gory variants? A mid-coitus Lannister twins set? That redhead with a smoke demon pouring out of her cha-cha?

Of course not, don’t be ridiculous.

LOOKS

Before I get into the looks I want to mention how wonderful it is that we’re getting properly scaled figures nowadays. Ever since I was a kid scale has been an issue for me. It’s always bothered me when toys within a line were not sized relatively to one another. I think it’s part of the reason why I was never more into Transformers. I just can’t deal with a pistol that is the same size as a eighteen-wheeler that is larger than a jet that transforms into a comparably sized tank.

But the worst issue I had was when I was collecting wrestling figures. JAKKS was terrible about scale. Rey Mysterio would be the same height as Undertaker. It was awful. Mattel has mostly corrected those issues during their time with the WWE license, so that’s nice.

I mention all of that because this Daenerys figure is tiny and rightfully so - Emilia Clarke is a diminutive 5’2” tall. I haven’t gotten the other figures from Sally yet, but if they’re true 1”=1’ scale they should all dwarf the Khaleesi. Well, except for Tyrion.

I wasn’t so sure about the face while the figure was still in the package, but once it was out I could tell it’s a solid likeness. Not perfect, but very good. The hair is a soft plastic that doesn’t interfere with movement. It has great form and lots of detail. The braids in the back look great and the paint is excellent. It’s worth mentioning that the underside of the hanging portions is sculpted and painted, as well. The paint on the face is almost perfect. The eyebrows look good and I like how the eyes are cast off to the side. Each of the colors in the eyes is placed perfectly. These were important because Clarke’s eyes are probably her most prominent features. The lip shading is a little off, as the bottom lip on mine isn’t completely colored.
The torso sculpt is great. The figure has prominent collarbones and is well proportioned. The halter has tons of detail and looks like a separate piece even though it isn’t. The Khaleesi’s skin tone is appropriately fair with some washes to bring out the contours. The halter has a rough texture accentuated by a dark wash.

The arms have a great shape and match up to the shoulder sockets beautifully. Her right shoulder has a couple of holes in it where the dragon sits. They’re pretty ugly, but I think I would rather have these than a dragon with gigantic feet made to clip onto the figure. I can’t come up with a better way for the figures to interact. The elbow joints are about as concealed as you could want and the ball-jointed wrists are mostly hidden by the gloves. The pegs are just a tad too long though and are visible when the hands are posed certain ways. The hands themselves are posed in open clutches, so the figure could hold accessories if needed. The gloves have a ton of sculpted detail and a brown wash over the black paint to give them a worn look.

The skirt is a soft plastic piece that does not interfere with posing at all. The front is open and the sides are slitted to the point where this figure could ride a horse if Funko decides to make one. The shape and folds are well done and the paint matches up with the rest of the figure as far as quality and look.

The legs are proportioned well and the knee joints are subtle. The boots look nicely worn and aged, but the ankles feature the age-old problem of having hinges that are a different color from the surrounding material. It isn’t as bad on Daenerys as it is on other figures, though. It’s only visible from the back and the difference is just a matter of shades of brown rather than light grey against black or some other high contrasting discrepancy.
ACCESSORIES

Daenerys comes with her red dragon. I’m sure it has a name, but I don’t know what it is.
This is the dragon in its infant form. It’s amazingly detailed for such a tiny thing. The body is scaled and the wings have a leathery texture. 
It fits easily and securely into the holes on Daenerys’ shoulder.
Obviously it would have been nice if Daenerys had come with all three dragons, but I’d bet money we are going to see more versions of her in the future. Say, two more? Undoubtedly Funko has plans to release all three infant dragons, as well as grown up versions down the road.
FUN

Daenerys features basically the same articulation as the Star Wars Black figures, which is very similar to current Marvel Legends. But since I haven’t reviewed one of Funko’s Legacy figures before I’ll run down the joints:

Head – ball joint

Shoulders – ball joints

Elbows – swivel/pivots

Wrists – peg joints

Hips – ball joints

Thighs – swivels

Knees – double pivots

Ankles – pivot/swivels

There’s no abdominal joint and either no joints at the boot tops or they are stuck so bad I can’t even wiggle them. I think the latter.
 
The swivels on the elbows won’t budge, even with hot air from a hair dryer. I plan on trying hot water since it’s easier to move a joint while it’s under the tap, but I didn’t feel like drying the figure off at the time I took pictures. This is a problem not just because the joints should move, but also because the forearms are turned the wrong way.

The left thigh swivel was also stuck, but the hair dryer trick took care of that.

All of the other joints work fine and can hold poses. I’m pleased both with the number of joints and the range of motion on each one (elbows aside). The lack of abdominal or waist joints is fine by me because anything other than a ball joint at the waist would have messed up the figure’s nice profile.

Daenerys was exciting to open and play with for a while; not just because it’s a new figure from a new line, but because the design is well done. She’s probably going to end up standing on my desk for a while. And not just because I don’t currently have any space for a Game of Thrones shelf. Dammit.

OVERALL

I got this figure on sale for $17.99, but the MSRP is $19.99 because that’s just how much these kinds of figures sell for now. As far as this category of action figure goes, this is a very good one.
 
The design of the figure is excellent. The sculpt and color are wonderful. The issues that are present – the minor paint error on the lip and the stuck elbows – are production issues and not flaws with the way the figure was intended to be made. Coming from a company that has never done anything like this before I think this is an astounding first effort. Obviously having Gentle Giant involved was a critical factor, but Funko made all of the right decisions as far as how to create Daenerys Targaryen. I highly recommend this figure if you are a fan.

4 out of 5
Despite the flaws present, this figure excites me tremendously for the future of Funko’s Legacy lines. Specifically their Firefly line. They have had their learning experience with these first Game of Thrones figures, so by the time the Firefly (or Serenity – whatever they put on them) figures come out all of the production issues should be ironed out.

These figures are exclusive to Barnes & Noble through March 17th. After that you should be able to find them at your online favorites – BigBad and Entertainment Earth; probably Amazon – as well as some brick and mortar retailers. Until then check in with Barnes & Noble or their website. I was in one of the stores the other day and they had Daenerys and Jon Snow on the shelf. I don’t know how fast they can restock, but I would imagine they could get at least one more shipment within 30 days.


4 comments:

  1. In the show she wasn't so tall so being 5.2" could be a scale with other characters. Hope I can see this over at my location. Can't wait for April for the next season!

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    1. Yes - the figure's height is accurate in relation to the rest of the line and the stature of the actress.

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  2. I love the show, but have no interest in collecting the figures (well, I might need the white walker). However, I really look forward to reading about the figures, so thanks for the review! Glad you got a good one, I've been hearing about the QC issues too, and I hope Funko gets it all figured out.
    Good for them for stirring up some new competition in the action figure world.

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    Replies
    1. Daenerys's arms ended up falling off at the elbow swivel and The Hound fell over and his scabbard and left leg broke off. I contacted allison@Funko.com and they are replacing any broken figures. I'm opening the rest right now.
      Also, eat a dick, Mattel.

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