Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Ancient Toys of Yesteryear – Angel Season 5 Angel from Diamond Select Toys

I think that Firefly is the greatest television show that’s ever aired.

But before I saw Firefly, there was Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which I think is the greatest television show that ever aired for more than one season.

And then there’s Angel. In some ways Angel is better than Buffy, and in others it’s nowhere near as good, but unto itself it is an excellent show that’s high up on my list of favorite shows.

These three shows all have two major things in common – they were created by Joss Whedon and they all took me a while to get into. But that’s a whole other post that I already wrote
 
I have a pretty large collection of Buffy and Angel figures from Moore Action Collectibles, Sideshow Collectibles, and Diamond Select Toys and while the sixth scale Sideshow stuff is all excellent, the smaller scale figures vary greatly in terms of aesthetics and playability. Even so, I’m mostly happy with them and have just about every character I want. Until Funko gets the license to do 6” scale Legacy figures (can that be far away?), I’m happy with the Scoobies and Big Bads I have standing around the Sunnydale High School Library.

Except for the Angel I had. It’s from the first run of figures based on Angel and it has some issues. It doesn’t quite fit aesthetically with the Diamond figures, it has a vampire face, and it’s too short.

The vampire face was my choice. They did two versions – one with a human face and one with a vampire face. Back when these figures were being made I didn’t particularly want to be buying action figures of just regular human beings. Particularly not of gorgeous dudes. So I found the vamp face to be a little more acceptable to my collecting habits.

Over the years I’ve decided that I’d like to have a regular Angel since he looked that way most of the time. I found this one for five bucks and bought it.

Sorry – I feel like that was sort of an anticlimactic end to the intro. They can’t all be winners.

First Glance

I apologize for the lack of pictures in this review. It turns out you can’t even photograph action figures of vampires.

Ha-ha! Just a little vampire humor there.

This is definitely a better figure than the other one, but it’s wild to be opening such a primitive modern figure when I’ve been reviewing Masters of the Universe Classics, Marvel Legends, and other high-quality, super-articulated figures for so long. Nothing about this guy looks bad, but the articulation is startlingly simple. And this thing is only eight years old.
Look at all of those accessories, though!

It’s also worth noting that Angel was sculpted/designed/scanned or whatever by Gentle Giant, the same company that’s working on Funko’s Legacy lines and Hasbro’s Star Wars Black.

Packaging

I like the way the plastic bubble is used on the blister card. The logo is a sticker on a raised but empty portion of the bubble. It looks cool, draws the eye, and gives a little depth. The picture of David Boreanaz on the top right is weird because he looks so much older than he did on Buffy and so much younger than he does on Bones.

The bio on the back is split into two parts – one for Angel and one for Fred, since she was the other figure in this wave. They’re good bios. As you guys know, I miss stuff like this when it isn’t there.

Also, lest you think DST were just putting out two figures per wave, the bottom portion of the cardback features the full range of figures including variants and exclusives. I’ve got an Illyria, but I’d still like to pick up a Fred.

Looks

If there’s one thing that you need to focus on and get right with an Angel action figure, it’s the hair. And they got it right. The height, thickness, and fine detail is great. The paint consists of dark brown with lighter highlights.

The likeness is very good, but a little blobby, as was the case with many of these figures. I wouldn’t call it bad, but it’s like somebody painted over a great face sculpt with really thick paint and some of the detail was lost. It’s definitely David Boreanaz, though. The paint is great, right down to the eyebrows being slightly cocked to correspond with the smirk on the figure’s face.

The detail on the clothing is nice – buttons, seams, folds. It all looks very natural and hangs the way real clothing would. This is the kind of nice but relaxed stuff Angel wore on the show. Mercifully Angel predates the ridiculous skinny clothes trend. Every time I see a guy in a skinny suit I want to tell him that they make clothes in his size. 
 
Side Note: Yes, I have donned the skinny jeans from time to time, but strictly for performance purposes. Never as regular clothing.

The stripes on my figure’s shirt have a smudge on them that isn’t great, but that’s post-production and not a flaw with the figure design. I’m not saying I’m okay with it, but it doesn’t make the figure bad. Plus, it’s nowhere near as noticeable in person as it is in the pictures.

The trousers are flat black and the shoes are glossy. They’ve got tons of detail that isn’t quite as deep as I would like. I am a huge fan of visible treads on shoe soles, though, so that’s great.

Accessories

Angel comes with a veritable smorgasbord of items – a Wolfram & Hart base, a sword, a coffee mug, an insulated liquid container, an amulet, and a yellow cube.

The base is nice because it’s a reasonable piece of neutral scenery. 
 
One thing I love about Diamond’s Buffy line is that every single accessory – and they made a ton of them – is a specific prop from the show. There are no generic swords, axes, or bottles. Everything they made was on screen at some point. I can’t find a picture of this exact sword, but you can bet it’s directly from an episode – most likely the one this figure’s outfit is from. It’s a great-looking sword and it’s made out of a hard plastic.

The mug looks great. I’m pretty sure this is the same mug that came with Spike, just a different color and with “#1 Boss” on it. The blood has a fun, swirly sculpt and is glossy red. The only problem is that Angel can’t hold it in his right hand and when the mug is in his left the print is turned inward.

The container-that-is-not-a-Thermos is one of the best accessories I’ve seen with a toy. The sculpt and paint are perfect and the note really looks like a printout. Sometimes the little things delight me too much, but they really did a great job here.

The cube is the Orlon Window, which contains Connor’s memories of being an annoying little shit. Excuse me – of being a murderer. The sculpt is great, but the paint on the trim could be a little better.

I don’t know what the heck this amulet is. It’s identified as “Talisman” on DST’s website. It has a good sculpt and solid paint – the gem is nice and shiny. The figure can hold it if you balance it perfectly and then back slowly – oh, so very slowly – away.

Fun

This figure has the weird, mid-2000s articulation where your fancier toy companies didn’t want to mess up aesthetics with super articulation, but also recognized that they were marketing figures to people who liked action figures to be… action-y. At least, that’s my take on these sorts of figures from DST, Sideshow, NECA, and others. 
 
Of course, the result of trying to please everyone is almost never pleasing. Angel here is one of the least offensive products of this sort of mindset. His articulation isn’t the best or most useful, but he does look pretty great just standing there. And he doesn’t have any joints that are as unsightly as they are useless. His head is on a ball joint that’s pretty good – there’s a great range of poseability.

There are cut joints at the shoulders, biceps, wrists, waist, and hips. Hip joints are the hardest to get just right because they don’t ever look good or function exactly right. These angled joints are the worst, though. Nobody’s legs move like this. And it’s not like the figure can be posed sitting. It looks ludicrous.

The elbows and knees are standard pivots. They bend ninety degrees and look fine.
There’s just enough to work with here to have a little fun with posing and the accessories add a ton of play value. This isn’t the most exciting figure I own, but for what it is it’s pretty good.

Overall

This is a nice-looking figure that you’re going to open and put on the shelf with the rest of your Buffy toys. Every once in a while you might switch out accessories. 
 
If you’re a fan, this is a good figure to get. It’s worth the original $14.99 MSRP for sure and absolutely worth the five bucks I paid for it.

4 out of 5

And of course I recommend you buy yourself an Angel from Amazon and help out Needless Things!:


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