Friday, February 6, 2015

Toy Review – ReAction Creature From the Black Lagoon from Funko

I sure did take my sweet-ass time getting around to reviewing this guy, huh?

I swore that I wasn’t going to start collecting Funko’s ReAction figures. I didn’t need to start another scale and style. I didn’t want to pay ten bucks for minimally articulated, 3.75” scale action figures. I didn’t want the sheer hassle of trying to hunt down a new line that may or may not receive solid distribution to regular brick and mortar retailers. Because then you’d have to add shipping on top of the already exorbitant ten dollar price tag.

For the most part I have stuck to my guns. I knew there was a good chance I would weaken in the face of the Universal Monsters figures if I were to ever find them on the pegs. I knew that I would, one way or another, end up buying their Gillman figure. And so far that’s the only one I’ve bought. Granted, I have purchased five of them. But that’s only because I ordered them through Amazon and the first three were the glow-in-the-dark variant, which I didn’t even know was being done.

Side Note: I also ordered the full set of Funko’s Big Trouble in Little China ReAction and Pop! figures, but that’s a special case because it’s my favorite movie of all time and I will buy any licensed products that come out. And no – don’t send me a link to that Pork Chop Express t-shirt that keeps showing up on Facebook. It’s not licensed, so I’m not buying it. I’m starting to have strong feelings about such things.

I don’t know that I’ve ever experienced a feeling quite so weird as the mixture of delight and confusion and disappointment that I felt when I opened up that first box from Amazon. Obviously I was thrilled to have somehow ended up with a presumably more limited variant (I still have no idea what the numbers are, though I have yet to see the GITD version at retail). But I also knew I was going to have to order another one because I had to have a regular version.

So I ordered another one and it, too was glow-in-the-dark.

That blew my mind.

I wondered if maybe there had been an error and the figure was only being done as a GITD toy. But I looked it up and there were plenty of pictures of regular deco versions online. Again – I didn’t mind having another glowing version, but I needed a regular one.

So I ordered another one and it, too was glow-in-the-dark.

WHAT THE FOR REAL FUCK!?!?

I wasn’t mad or anything – I was delighted. I knew at this point that there were regular ones out there and had no doubt I’d be able to get one, so this bizarre glut of variants was fine by me. I supposed that I would just keep ordering them until I got a regular one. There was no doubt in my mind that I’d be able to unload the GITD ones. I had already given one to Jim Stacy as a thank you for hooking me up with a mind-blowing collection of Halloween songs.
The next one was a regular version, so I stopped there.

Except that I didn’t, actually, because shortly after that I found the Universal Monsters ReAction figures on the pegs at Toys R Us and decided I wanted a Gillman to open and review.

So here you go:

First Glance

I give Funko all the credit in the world for their unabashed embrace of old-school aesthetics. If I were working on this line I think that it would be very difficult for me to stick to the simplistic style that they have achieved here. I would be tempted to tweak and change until the figures no longer resembled their 70s/80s predecessors.

This is a truly old school figure. If you just handed it to somebody that didn’t have a photographic toy memory and was unaware of the ReAction line, they would almost certainly assume it was from the 70s. 
 
Unfortunately I can’t really compare this figure to the one Remco released in 1980. I don’t have one and a few minutes of searching online doesn’t bring up a good picture of one. But I can tell that this one has better paint and a little more of a technically clean sculpt. That’s not to say that Funko’s is better, just that there are noticeable differences.

I can, however, compare this to Burger King’s excellent Creature:

I’m not gonna lie – I prefer the BK version. It’s translucent and it squirts (I had a horrible adult film star joke to insert here, but it went too far even for Needless Things). For nostalgia fans, though, the Funko figure will be superior. The BK Gillman is posed and has a much more detailed sculpt. It’s a tribute to the toys of the 70s, but not an aesthetic recreation.

Packaging

Absolute perfection.

The cardback is thing, just like the figures of yesteryear. The blister is clean and clear and slightly off-center. The graphics are lovely, with a slightly faded lime green, an obnoxious yellow, and appropriate black and white character images. I love the picture they chose for the bottom – it’s like he’s saying, “Here – have a tiny me!” That “ReAction” logo is fantastic.
So the package is wonderful, but there’s actually a lot more to look at besides the obvious.

First, this somewhat disappointing message:

What the heck is that about? How does a 3.75” figure with five points of articulation not qualify as a toy? What is it about this figure that makes it unsuitable for children? If the plastic unusually fragile? Is the paint toxic? I don’t understand. This is one of the more bizarre things I have ever seen on a toy and I can’t figure out why it’s there.

Unless, of course – and this is where the cynical toy collector in me starts talking – they put that on there in an attempt to justify the price, which is twice that of comparable action figures. But that can’t be it, right? RIGHT?

The cardback reveals another interesting – and loaded – message:

Start your own collection” is just common sense marketing. Of course Funko wants you to start collecting these. What I find interesting is “ready for adventure”. Toys are ready for adventure, but collectibles are not. And the above message quite clearly states that this is and “Adult Collectible” and “Not a toy”.

Quit flip-flopping, Funko. What are you, a political candidate?

In all seriousness, though, this is wonderful packaging that I had to have intact. It’s why I had to buy an additional figure to open. I love the circles on the back with the rest of the collection pictured. It does make a great case for starting my own collection.
Side Note: I’ll tell you what would convince me to “collect ‘em all” – a playset.

Looks

I think Super 7 is actually behind the designs and sculpts of the ReAction line, but I am not positive. Just for the ease of the article I’m going to refer to them for the production of the figure.

I was surprised that the figure was as firm as it is. It’s a very solid, inflexible plastic. I was expecting the softer kind that Kenner used for the old Star Wars figures. But this guy is hard. Not brittle, though, which is good.

Super 7 really knew what they were doing. They clearly have toy fanatics on the payroll, because they have produced a figure that is nearly indistinguishable from the simple, 3.75” figures of my childhood. It’s not just about the simple paint or the limited articulation. It’s about the figure’s proportions and its shape. It’s about the depth of the sculpted lines. It’s about the uniformity of the profile – that it looks like the whole thing was carved out of a single chunk of green plastic and the joints were just cut in.

The only place where this aesthetic is betrayed is the shoulders. Don’t get me wrong – they look really good. Too good. Rather than having that little overlap on top they should just be straight cuts. But that’s hardly a big deal and is absolutely me being nitpicky. But it’s just because I so adore what Super 7 and Funko are doing with these guys.

Side Note: I’m sitting here looking at my reference pictures and wanting a 12 or even 24” version of this figure very badly.

The other thing that might be slightly too modern is the paint app on the Gillman’s torso. I was surprised to see it. Like the shoulders, it looks great. But maybe too great.

Okay – I’ll stop criticizing this figure for being too awesome. As I said above – these aren’t recreations of an aesthetic, they’re tributes to an aesthetic.

The head sculpt is the perfect size and shape. I love the skull-like profile of the Creature’s face. The open mouth manages to look slightly menacing in a way that these figures often don’t. I’ve got a six inch scale Gillman that looks downright giddy. The paint is simple but great – two yellow dots for eyes and red in the mouth.

The scales and plating on the body have just enough depth. They are part of the profile without looking overly worked. The shape of the figure is so good and really what sells it. That thick torso with the narrow little limbs is what evokes that old-school figure nostalgia more than anything else. 
 
The feet are nice and big and keep the figure standing without support. I love the curve of the hands – when the arms are posed forward he really looks like he’s reaching for something as opposed to doing the zombie walk that most figures of this style do.

The fins on the back are quite nice and just shy of that “too nice” thing that I won’t shut up about. 
 
Fun

You’d think a figure with five points of articulation and zero accessories couldn’t be much fun, right?

Well, maybe it’s just nostalgia or how much I love the Gillman, but I played with this guy for a while. He only has a few joints, but they all work quite well. He can sit down, his head turns all the way around, and his arms go up about as high as you need them to.

Despite his limitations, he stayed on my desk for a couple of months in my “Things to mess with while podcasting” pile.

And of course, the point is to have a collection of these guys to interact with one another. And I can totally see the appeal of that after opening the Creature and playing with him.

Overall

Is this action figure worth the $9.99 price tag?

If you’re talking purely about materials and play value, then no. Of course not. You’d be much better off buying one of the Star Wars 2-packs of similarly articulate figures with much better sculpt and paint for the same price.

But let’s be honest – we’re not buying these for those reasons. We’re buying them because of the characters and the aesthetic. That’s what we’re paying for and that’s why Funko has labeled them as “For adult collectors”. These aren’t toys, they’re collectibles and that’s why they’re ten bucks.

That is, of course, a load of bullshit, but Super 7 and Funko have done such a good job of it that I can’t really complain. It’s a very attractive and manageable price point – which is part of the reason Funko’s Pop! line has done so well – and I think it’s the right one for the marketplace.

Plus, as I’ve mentioned before I don’t rate value here.

5 out of 5

This is a great, fun figure that looks great on the card or on the shelf. I highly recommend it; the glow-in-the-dark or regular version. Or both.

I highly recommend that you buy it here, as a matter of fact:

6 comments:

  1. I love the Universal Monsters figures from Funko! I like the Aliens line but the Universal and Modern Horror lines are probably the best. I've also got all of the Big Trouble stuff preordered: It's definitely in my top 10 movies list and definitely deserves all of the toys that can be made for it.

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    1. I agree that the Universal Monsters seem to fit this aesthetic the best. No franchise from after the late 80s seems quite right to me in this line. I am STOKED about the forthcoming Star Trek ReAction line!

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  2. Ooooooh, Glow In The Dark... *drools* I'm really hoping Funko makes figures based off "The Thing" since they're already doing Big Trouble In Little China and Escape From New York figures. I'd kill for a Macready and Childs!

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    1. I would buy ReAction figures from The Thing, but I'm not sure how they'd accomplish the creatures. And you have to have the creatures. Now that you've got me thinking about it I really want to see Funko give it a shot.

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  3. Hey Phantom, just thought I would shed some light on the 'Adult Collectible'/'Not a Toy' thing. Basically if a toy company wants their product to be classified as a 'toy' they have to pay for testing for things such as sharp edges,chipping paint, or anything that would make it unsafe for children. When the company just outright states 'Adult Collectible' or 'For Ages 15 and Up', they don't have to pay for such testing. Hope that helps!

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    1. So I was on the right track. I think that's even more insidious than what I suggested. Either way, thanks for the info!

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