Monday, February 15, 2016

Toy Review – Previews Exclusive One:12 Collective Judge Dredd from Mezco Toys

I am by no means an expert on Judge Dredd. I’d say I’m a casual fan at best.

My first exposure to Mega-City One’s most famous law enforcement officer came by way of my favorite heavy metal band, Anthrax. Their 1987 album, Among the Living, featured a song called “I Am the Law”, a literal biography of Judge Dredd:



It is, by the way, a fucking crime that neither Judge Dredd movie used this song; at least in the closing credits.

It’s one of their most well-known songs and it led to Dredd becoming a sort of mascot for the band, even appearing on their merchandise. My first Anthrax t-shirt featured Dredd and one that I currently own does, as well.

By design Judge Joseph Dredd is one of the most iconic comic book characters to come out of Great Britain. The badge, the shoulders, the helmet, the jaw – all of it combines to make a memorable, foreboding figure that was perfect to draw the attention of the thrash metal fans of the 80s and 90s.

I believe that first time I saw Dredd in a comic shop I was like, “Oh, hey – they made a comic about the Anthrax mascot!”

Okay, I don’t think that I was that much of a rube about it, but Judge Dredd in comics (or magazines, as it were) was definitely a novelty at first. I haven’t read a ton of Dredd comics. I read crossovers with Batman and Aliens, and I know I’ve read some collections with art from Simon Bisley and Alan Grant. I love the idea of Judge Dredd, but in practice I can’t say I’ve really kept up with the character.

My point here is that it didn’t make a whole lot of sense for me to spend money on a high-end Judge Dredd action figure. Or at least, it didn’t seem to. As I think about it, I realize I have had and do have a decent number of Dredd figures for someone that’s only a casual fan. I’ve got Dredd, Anderson, and Death from 1999’s line of 2000 AD figures from Re:Action (different than Funko’s ReAction). I’ve also got the full series of minifigures from Mattel’s Mega Heroes line. They are based on the comics, but released in 1995 to coincide with the rotten, garbage, piece of trash Judge Dredd movie starring Sylvester Stallone and Rob Schneider.

I’ve got several other Judges and Dredds from here and there – I used to have large scale vinyl model figures of Dredd and Anderson, but those didn’t survive my years of frequent moving. Heck, purely through luck I’ve got Funko’s Mystery Mini Judge Dredd.

What it comes down to is that Judge Dredd looks cool. I like owning cool toys. After Mezco’s One:12 Collective delivered the very best action figure I have ever owned with the Dark Knight Returns Batman, I couldn’t stop thinking about their Judge Dredd. I especially couldn’t stop thinking about their Judge Dredd punching their Batman in the face. And vice versa. Once the thing started shipping I kept looking online; just checking it out. Then I saw the Previews Exclusive version on Amazon for what I thought was a very fair price, so I ordered.

That’s where I am today. Was it the right decision? Does Mega-City One’s finest measure up to the standard set by Gotham’s dark knight detective? Read on and find out!

FIRST GLANCE

Just like the Batman figure, Mezco released several different versions of Dredd. I ordered this one because I’ve always preferred blue Dredd over black and also because the PX release includes a nifty poncho from “The Cursed Earth” storyline as well as a big honkin’ rifle that the standard release does not include.

There are other color differences between this and the regular release, but it mostly comes down to personal preference.

This is a stunning figure. I love the metallic color scheme. The flat greens against the metallic blue and gold looks fantastic. That head – that’s drokking Judge Dredd. All the way. And there are a ton of accessories in this box.

PACKAGING

This is the same gorgeous style of box that Batman was in. Apparently it’s the standard for One:12 Collective releases, and I’m good with that. It’s beautiful.

The exterior shell is a plastic slipcover with various elements printed on it such as the title logo, Judge Dredd’s helmet, and all of the images of the figure on the back. The graphics are beautiful and eye-catching and it’s clear that a lot of thought went into putting over the fact that this is a deluxe toy. This piece slides off easily.

The box itself has a monochromatic image of Dredd on the back. It’s all done in a lovely flat finish that looks so much classier than glossy print. The box is made of a thick, sturdy cardboard.

The front panel opens to reveal the figure and accessories and an embossed golden judge shield. There are two magnets in the front panel to keep it closed.

The box opens easily. Inside there are two plastic trays, each with their own cover. These separate easily and are not taped together, which I liked. The bottom tray holds the arm and armature for the display stand. Everything else in is in the top tray. The Exclusive Cursed Earth poncho is polybagged in the bottom tray. The figure itself had a couple of plastic pieces around it to protect against scratching.

This is a fantastic box. It’s a perfect combination of everything that collector packaging should be – it has a beautiful design, it’s easy to open and remove the figure, and it’s also completely resealable with no sign of damage; not even tape marks. Mezco put together a box that is utilitarian and attractive and it might well be the best I’ve ever owned. I didn’t have even a second of difficulty removing any piece of the toy from the box, and that’s significant.

LOOKS

If you know Judge Dredd at all, you know that first and foremost that jaw had to be perfect.
It is.

The grimace that never ends is sculpted beautifully, with all of the surrounding lines perps know and fear. There’s a small scar on Dredd’s upper lip and just a bit of paint on the bottom of the jaw for shading. The helmet is the right shape, with a clear, smoked visor that shows you exactly as much of Joe’s face as we should see. The paint is accurate and wonderful, right down to the lightning bolt-shaped glare. The metallic blue matches that of Dredd’s uniform and all of the painted detail is tight and precise.

The uniform is some kind of spandex with a coat of glossy material over it. I don’t know exactly what this is, but it’s reminiscent of some of the materials used in the old Famous Covers line. It feels quite a bit different, though, and I’m sure won’t deteriorate in the same way (I’ll update you in a decade). This thing is a marvel of modern engineering. It fits perfectly, it doesn’t scare me when it stretches for me to pose the figure, and however it is attached to the forearms and calves is some form of leprechaun magic because there’s no way a figure with this kind of fabric clothing should be able to move this way without everything becoming pulled out of place or the movement being restricted.

The metallic blue hue is consistent throughout, though there are spots of brown on the legs. At first I thought this was some kind of weird error, but then I realized it was actually part of the dirt deco that’s on the boots (and the poncho). “The Cursed Earth” details Dredd’s trek across a foul wasteland, so this deco is appropriate. Normally I prefer clean or neutral decos, but this extra paint is so well executed that I don’t mind. I don’t think the standard version has this sort of thing.

The zipper on Dredd’s uniform is about as small as it could be. The pull is chained to his (perfectly executed) badge. There’s a note somewhere in the included materials that says “DO NOT USE THE BADGE OR CHAIN TO PULL THE ZIPPER, DUM-DUMS”.

Okay, it doesn’t actually say that, but there is a warning not to do so. I appreciate that, as most other toy manufacturers would have been happy to let you find that out on your own. I was pleasantly surprised by how easily the zipper does work. The pull slides up and down with little effort. Actually, just the process of posing the figure tends to push it down, though it’s easy enough to zip it right back up once the desired pose is achieved.

All of Judge Dredd’s bulky armor probably has you thinking that his poseability is going to be pretty limited. Not so, thanks to the drokking artistic geniuses at Mezco. Both of the shoulder pieces are attached to the figure with magnets (how do they work?), as is the badge. This means that the pieces can come off completely and have a good bit of give as far as being moved around goes. The magnets themselves are coated with a clear sealant so that they don’t rough up the fabric of the uniform.

The knee and elbow pads also seemed to me like they might be limiting and would probably be a pain in the ass to keep in place. Once again the fine folks at Mezco have come up with some brilliant engineering. The pads are actually attached to the pivot points of the knees and elbows through the uniform. The elastic straps are purely cosmetic. I don’t understand how the uniform flexes and moves around these joints, but sometimes it’s best to just accept things and move on.

Dredd’s gloves are packed with sculpted detail, from the pouches to the built-in knuckle dusters. The painted detail adds a ton. The knuckles and pouch clasps are a bright silver and there’s a wash on the hands to denote wear and/or grime.

The utility belt is a thing of beauty, not just aesthetically, but from a practical toy standpoint. The sculpt looks great and the American eagle buckle is remarkable for the amount of detail and the precision of the paint. But what made me adore it was all the spots to store Dredd’s gear. There’s a strap with an eyelet on the end for his nightstick:

As well as loops for his grenades and a pouch for the spare clip for the Lawgiver:

The belt is soft plastic and moves quite easily, but stays wherever you put it. The proof of this is that I have it sitting too high on the figure in most of these pictures. Also, if this was a female figure I would mention the butt, so yeah – Joe Dredd has a sweet can.

As you can see above, the boots have storage for Dredd’s knife and Lawgiver.

There’s a ton of detail in the plating and buckles and the sculpted wear on the oversized toes adds a lot of character. Like I said before, I’m not usually a fan of “damaged” or “dirty” deco, but it’s executed so well here that I can’t complain. Especially since it fits the story of this Exclusive edition.

ACCESSORIES

This version of Judge Dredd comes with a poncho, a stand, four extra hands, handcuffs, a rifle with a clip, a nightstick, a knife, two grenades, the Lawgiver with two clips, and a resealable storage bag.

Whew.

The extra hands consist of two fists, a pointer, and an open hand. They’re soft plastic and switch out quite easily, but stay put. 

Thanks to the material, it’s easy to get the appropriate hands to hold whichever accessories you want. Putting Dredd’s finger on the triggers of the guns is easy and posing him to hold the rifle is no problem.

The handcuffs are incredible. The sculpt of the eagle in the shape of cuffs is great and the black wash over silver looks really good. What is so amazing is their functionality. 

Not only do they open and close, there’s a double hinge in the middle so that they can be folded in half. The forthcoming Lawmaster motorcycle features storage for them.

Just like Dredd’s jaw, the Lawgiver had to be good. And it is. This is the Lawgiver MKII, complete with the dial for six different kinds of ammo! The sculpt and paint are flawless. The clips slide fairly securely into the slot, but can come free with little more than a nudge. They don’t just fall out on their own, though, and that’s the important part. The Lawgiver fits perfectly and securely into Dredd’s hand or the boot holster.

The nightstick, knife, and grenades look great. 

Each has a couple of paint apps to provide the necessary detail and fit in Dredd’s hand or their corresponding storage spots. The nightstick takes a little doing to get into the eyelet on his belt, but it fits and stays.

The rifle, as you can see, looks awesome. It has tons of paint and a painted cartridge in the clip. Dredd can hold it with one or both hands. This is where the marvelous engineering of the shoulder armor comes in – despite the bulk of those pieces, the figure can hold this rifle in a number of two-handed poses.

The poncho is a material similar to the uniform – it isn’t just a piece of canvas like I initially thought. And not only does it have the layer of slick material over it, it has some incredible mud spatter deco around the bottom. The Dredd shield is printed on the front in yellow. The collar has a wire at the top (!) so that it can sit without obscuring Dredd’s face. There is Velcro along both sides to close it around the figure’s arms. 

This is a much nicer accessory than I was expecting and I’ve got to say I’m thrilled to have it.

The stand consists of three pieces – the base, a peg, and an armature. This is the same style of base that came with Batman, who is much more likely to be doing wacky aerial stuff than Judge Dredd. 

The armature is great, though and I find it interesting that Mezco included it. I wonder if the Star Trek and Frankenstein figures will also have one.

FUN

This figure is all kinds of fun. The poseability goes above and beyond anything you’ve seen from a twelfth scale action figure. The head and neck are jointed, the knees and elbows have double joints with DEEP pivots, there’s a waist and abdominal joint, the shoulders have an incredible range.

Due to his design, Dredd can’t do quite as much as Batman, but this is still an amazing figure to play with and pose. I would say the biggest limitation comes from his feet, which have a very shallow pivot. They do swivel, but they just aren’t as functional as I was expecting. It’s not any kind of big deal at all, but it is noticeable compared to the Batman figure.

Obviously the huge number of accessories add a lot to the play value. Being able to change up the look of the figure is great and the multitude of weaponry make for near-endless posing options. This guy is going to stand guard over my desk for a good, long while.
I also want to emphasize that he’s much sturdier than you probably think he is. I’m not saying that you should buy one for your kids, but I would be much more comfortable handing this or Batman to my eight year old son than I would any DC Collectibles release.

OVERALL

For me this purchase was well worth it. While I’m not a Dredd mega-fan, I love his iconic look and Mezco has delivered the last Judge Dredd figure I will ever need to buy (except maybe for the black version with the Lawmaster). I’d call this a must-have.

The One:12 Collective series is a game changer. I can’t recommend highly enough that any toy collector worth their salt find a figure of a favorite character and buy one of these. You owe it to yourself to own at least one of the very best action figures ever designed. They’re truly remarkable and even as cheap as I am I feel like I got my money’s worth.

5 out of 5

It’s worth noting that the forthcoming Lawmaster (Dredd’s motorcycle) has a deco that matches the regular release Dredd, while the Previews Exclusive Lawmaster includes a Dredd that matches its unique deco. What that means is that this Dredd does not have a corresponding Lawmaster. I don’t yet know if this means I’ll end up buying a black Dredd and Lawmaster. I think to justify that one I’d have to sell some other stuff.


Buy this Previews Exclusive Judge Dredd from Amazon and help Needless Things pay the bills!:


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