“His family killed by a gang of deranged robots, his eyesight taken as payment for someone else’s debt. He now wears the turgid rag which now gives a clarity of vision, a clarity of justice and revenge to the Blind Cowboy. His only friend, a horse named Ghost!”
Sometimes in life you make decisions that you KNOW you’re going to regret later. Eating 6 day old leftover-counter-temperature chinese take-out, taking Sally Joe to your senior prom because despite her headgear she supposedly “puts out” and opening your sealed copy of “Death of Superman”.
Hmm… well, two of those three things turned out regrettably anyway.
One other such occurrence transpired several months ago while I sat staring at the order screen on Bambaland.com. Up for grabs was the relatively inexpensive single Blind Cowboy figure from 3A, a central character from Ashley Wood’s Popbot universe. The other choice was the very impressive looking and much more expensive Blind Cowboy and Ghost Horse Super Set. The one thing that drew me to the sale in the first place was the “ghostly-ness” (or rather undead zombie-ness) of Ghost Horse with it’s gaunt skeletal features. The Blind Cowboy himself, at least from the preview shots, seemed a little “vanilla”. I neither loved or hated him. Despite these truths, I skipped the Super Set due to my shallow pockets and went ahead and clicked “add to cart” on the single BC.
“I’ll be fine”, I told myself. “This will be enough.”
Last month as the sets began to pop up all over the map and this website started to take on a life of it’s own, I realized that I would need a review to cover this passed over piece of pie. Luckily, an all around great guy Scott Katler (known as 666waystolove on many-a-forum) contacted me and offered to do a proxy review for it. A few days later I had a first draft in my inbox. I read it, looked at the photos he sent to accompany and began to arrange the layout for the site. As I poured over the different images of this massively beautiful steed and admired the various forms and shapes of it’s sculpt, something hit me. I HAD to have it. It would be mine. I simply couldn’t help myself. Of all the collectible toys/games/Garbage Pail Kids/beanie babies/whatever I’ve missed in life.. this one pulled at me above all else. I put the review on hold and spent the next several days looking over various dark alleys and back woods until I happened upon a pretty good deal for the set. Via a series of trades and swaps I was able to secure my own. After delay followed by delay followed by a slight mix up, followed by yet another delay.. I finally have sitting in front of me ThreeA’s Blind Cowboy and Ghost Horse Super Set…
and it looks glorious.
Today’s review will be a combination of Scott’s and my own impressions of the set. I want to thank Scott again for helping me out with the review. Without you dangling those shiny pictures/words in front of me, I’d most likely never done the footwork to hunt one down on my own and would be regretting it still to this day.
The mailman literally looked pissed when he knocked on my door Saturday. “Are you.. ?” He fidgeted to reach for his note pad while struggling to hold the giant box by it’s two plastic tie straps. He was a little guy I’d never seen before and I could tell already he didn’t like me. “Ahem, yes.. that’s me” I said trying to hide my excitement and deflect his eye-bullets at the same time. I scribbled what looked to be the word “Mrooolg” in the signature box, freed the poor man of his burden and quickly went back inside.
I ripped open the shipping box before I took any shots of it, so an image of the art box next to my dog Murphy will have to suffice. The box for this set measures 23″L x 16″W x 12″D and weighs in at 20 lbs. Murphy’s a medium sized rescue who weighs 50 lbs, loves neck scratches and thinks he’s people.
The Super Set has unique packaging that differs greatly from any other 3A boxes I’ve seen before. The box itself is a thick ply and in 2 pieces, similar to a shoebox. On top is a replica of Ashley Wood’s lovely painting of our hero and his trusty steed. I think it’s one of the best cover paintings from Ash yet! It’s a really epic image that sets the mood for what you’re about to experience perfectly. The entire box is really a compliment to the figure itself as you really feel like you’re opening something well made, beautiful and special.
Another bonus to the set was the inclusion of a lovely poster of the box art. I’ll definitely be framing it. Its kind of a shame it wasn’t included with the singles.
Once you slide off the top (which you will do either incredibly fast out of the sheer excitement boiling within or very slowly due to vast anticipation of the inevitable epic-ness) you’ll find that Emit Brown (The Blind Cowboy’s “real” name) is safely packed on a top layer of thick, dark foam shaped a bit like coffin. Lifting the lid on this set had me feeling a little like what I’d imagine that kid across the street from me growing up did when he got the GI Joe Aircraft Carrier and Omega Supreme on the SAME Christmas morning back in ’85.
You remove the top foam tray and underneath be the dead horse tucked. I was pretty worried about how safely this set would transit and I’m very happy to say that 3A did a perfect job in ensuring this guy a safe trip. You can see how thick the foam womb is that fits snuggly around GH in the pictures. The packaging of these figures alone must have cost a pretty penny.
All that secure, snuggy foam did have a small (but a 1000% warranted) tradeoff. It took me forever to free GH from the box. His weight (he makes up the bulk of the fat) along with some of the smaller, more fragile bits getting constantly snagged on the packaging had me sweating bullets for a small eternity. My advice, take your time, push/spread open the foam in the area you’re trying to free and slowly work out the tail, followed by the feet (minding the delicate wood slats). The rest should easily follow.
Well there it is. The Blind Cowboy and his undead steed, Ghost Horse. Just awesome.
OK, that’s it! Nothing more to see here. This review is over.
Ahhh… FINE.. I’ll blather on more to tell you some things you already probably know in your heart of hearts.
Emit includes a cowboy hat, poncho and an extra “neutral” hand with pegs. Ghost has his bridle and saddle along with a rolled up blanket. Really this set comes with few surprises, unless you consider a Blind Cowboy carrying 9(!) six shooters on him a surprise. Emit has a total of 7 guns that he carries on his person with 2 more “just-in-case” pieces attached to the saddle. That’s quite a bit of fire power for a guy with only two hands and no eyeballs.
Where do I begin? If you don’t experience a sense of awe upon unboxing this set, I truly hope your affairs are in order because you are most certainly dead. Please send my condolences to your family. Seriously, I just sat and stared at these two for a good five minutes before I did much of anything in the way of posing or photographs. There is just so much to take in from the detail in the sculpt and weathering to the various bags, bandages and buckles.
I think the best way to approach a review like this is to cover the individual pieces of the set and break down their various attributes.
So, let’s start with Emit Brown, The Blind Cowboy.
On his own, Emit Brown carries all the swagger of a “real” comic book cowboy. He’s got the bootcut pants, the dirty rolled up sleeves, red poncho and dusty “leather” hat. The afore mentioned sixshooters drape around his waist on a single belt with a shiny, yet simple buckle. Each gun is in a faux leather holster. The holsters themselves look nice enough, but feel thin and are incredibly tight. The guns themselves have hard edges and points on them so I’m a little worried that after repetitive removal of a gun, the holster material may tear. I’d suggest picking a couple guns for Emit’s hands and just leaving them out of his holster all together to skip that possibility. He looks BA duel wielding anyways.
The Blind Cowboy figure is almost completely original with new sculpts for his head, guns, hands and boots. They all fit the character the he’s supposed to be a part of perfectly. I love the new guns. They look like slightly beefier versions of the six shooting hand cannons everyone from G.Cooper to J. Wayne carried. The best part? You get NINE of them.
His gloves have the folded over look that many of Ashley Wood’s character designs feature. They’re sculpted in a constant state of itchy trigger fingerness. Even though they look identical, my BC holds his gun a good deal firmer in his right hand than his left. I had a few issues getting him to securely handle his firearm as though he were not a truly capable sinstral. This is probably the result of softer material the hands are molded from, warping or stretching during the lengthy production/packaging/shipping process. It’s not really a huge deal as the gun will fit and hold well enough. I just thought it was kind of shame it isn’t absolutely perfect since his hands/guns were custom made for one another. I’d think there be no fiddling about required.
The boots look great! They reminded me of some my father had when I was growing up in the Texas panhandle. They may not be tennis shoes but the balance is pretty good on them and you can get some fun kooky poses out of him. (electric slide anyone?) That being said, the plastic used for the boots is pretty hard, so despite having double ball jointed ankles, you’re likely to only get the bare minimum side to side/front to back motion.
The manly moo moo, or poncho as they’re known in the West, adds a great deal of effect to the character. It immediately brings to mind Clint Eastwood which automatically brings to mind gunslinging and a bunch of great old westerner movies I need to rent/watch again. I’ve arranged it heavily bundled in the front as though he were riding through a dust storm as well as lighty draped over his shoulders. For such a simple piece (my wife called it an old ripped t-shirt) it makes a world of difference with this character. I’d say it’s the second most important piece next to his eye bandages.
Emit’s hat is somewhat at odds with itself. From a distance it does the job and looks pretty good. Up close however, you can see the felt like texture on it which to me, takes it completely out of scale. The overall make of the hat also appears pretty “puffy” as well, giving it more of a frumpy “Cletus the town drunk” look other than a hard nosed Eastwood look. On a good note there’s a wire that goes around the inside of the brim giving you some control for tweaking it’s shape. In the end, you NEED the hat to complete the look. It does the job, I just wish it was a little more refined.
Without his hat we have ourselves a blond. I was a little surprised by this I think mostly because I’ve preconceived notions of BC as 3A’s Clint Eastwood.. sandy brown or even black hair would have fit.. but blond is it’s own thing. It’s not a bad thing, lemme be clear on that. Just something that caught my attention.
So what’s behind those bandages? Well, lets just take a little peak-ah-OHGAAAAAAH! &$%@#!!
The scars look randomly placed instead of artistically thought out. They lack any sort of intentional “cool” that you see on so many scarred characters. I don’t know if that’s what they had in mind of avoiding when they sculpted his face, but I like it.. the randomness/sloppiness of them makes them appear a lot more brutal. Despite the scars and gaunt cheeks, the face is young and less grizzled than I thought it’d be, but I find that to be true with most of Ashley Woods creations (Grunts, NOMs, ROTHCHILD, etc) so it doesn’t take away from the character at all for me.
Most of what I’ve mentioned so far is a matter of personal taste. You may think his hat looks awesome and his poncho looks like a cheap snot rag. Be that as it may, one thing I think we can all agree on is how completely strange it is that 3A decided to use one giant stark white velcro strip from the bottom of his shirt to the bottom of his chin to hold his shirt together. The result is that it’s always peaking out from the top of his collar. The stiffness of the strip also pushes his shirt up and does not allow for it to rest naturally on his body.
So you’re stuck with choosing between fastening the velcro completely to the top which looks like he’s choking or undoing it a little bit and having it look cheap. Had they used multiple sections of velcro and didn’t run them all the way up to his chin, the result would have looked a million times better. I may have to take out some needle/thread, a pair of scissors and try my hand at improving his situation. If Emit is forced to go through life blind and toothless, the least I can do is let him have a comfortable neck line.
All in all, Emit is really a pretty simple character. His entire “essence” relies on the sum of his parts. With all his gear on, he looks like the bad ass cowboy you imagine him to be. Take off a few things and he looks a tad less intimidating, if not for his scarred up mug (and the ga-gillion guns dangling from his waist) you might even call him a little “plain”.
There may be a few things here or there that feel a little less than perfect such as his wonky shirt, but overall I like the way the Blind Cowboy came out. I remember looking at the pictures during the release and having a hard time telling if he was “cool” or not. I’m happy that I can say that he is definitely cool. Messing around with him I realized that even if I’d kept the single and never upgraded to the set, I’d probably still be pretty satisfied with the figure and have a lot of fun posing him with the other goodies on my shelf.
I say “probably” because.. well.. OMG LOOK AT THIS HORSE!
- Ghost Horse
note: The larger portion of this review will borrow heavily from Scotts original write up with a few musings of my own tossed in for good measure. - Knives
For a company like 3A that is known for it’s highly articulated figures, Ghost Horse is quite the departure. Despite this, he is without question a mind blowing piece of artistic design. The head, neck, legs, and tail are wrapped in a thin bandage like material all lightly weathered. The head and neck are mostly covered by bandages but a few key characteristics are still visible. GH facial features are quite skeleton like. With sunken in eyes and a lack of individual teeth, you can tell this fellah has seen better days.
The sculpture itself is made from poly-stone which you may remember is the same material used to make the labs from Adventure Kartel. The sculpt uses very hard lines to exaggerate the muscle tone and bone structure. For such a simple color pallet, the hard lines and the dark coloring really add a lot of depth and texture to the figure. What’s even cooler is when you add light from any given angle it makes those areas even more dramatic. I also like how they sculpted the neck to lean off to one side instead of being perfectly centered. It gives it quite a different vibe when viewing from the right or left side.
Even though the horse’s mane and tail are hard sculpted, they “splinter” off at the end which ties in great with the legs because the legs have actual wooden splints. A real shocker and a very welcomed addition that adds such a unique touch. It is the little things like this that just amaze me about the piece. I remember looking at the promo image and the wood splints being a big selling point for me. I assumed they would have just been made of vinyl or ABS pieces made to look like wood, not the real deal.
GH also is sporting some fantastic saddle equipment. All of which is made of some pretty believable leather like material. The saddle has two saddle bags and two revolvers, one on each side respectively. The saddle and the bags have really great sewing. There is a noticeable trim going around everything that really helps separate the various pockets or layers in the fabric. On a lot of other figures we just see a thin thread sewn through the fabric which usually goes unnoticed. So it just shows how much extra detail has been put into this set. The saddle also has some cushioning for when you find yourself roaming through the desert for longer than expected. And just in case you need to take a rest, there is a rolled up canvas tied to the back of it. The overall quality of the saddle makes the whole presentation feel that much more special.The one thing missing from the ensemble is a saddle horn. What is this, an English Saddle? I doubt Ol’ Emit would be caught dead riding english style.
The pose of the Ghost Horse is caught in a constant mosey. At first I was at odds with this chilled out, neutral pose. Most of my characters are in some sort of action or preparing to fight stance which is impossible to achieve with Ghost. It’d also look awfully strange to have BC posed with guns blazing with GH in such a morose meander. But after spending a couple hours positioning them in various manner, I think this works better than an action or running pose might have. There’s a certain sense of purpose to Ghost’s slow, heavy stride. As silly as it may sound, it seems to give the tattered combo a somber story, a weary soul.
For once, I really have no criticism of a figure. It met and exceeded my expectations. Ghost is a beautifully detailed sculpture and the care 3A put into the saddle, wraps, bags and wooden (freak’n REAL WOOD!) slats are incredible. Old Ghosty is currently the crowned jewel of my collection. I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself when (not if) 3A tops him.
Me and Scott agreed that the Blind Cowboy and Ghost Horse Super Set could very well be THE toy of the year. While Emit holds his own well enough with almost all new sculpts and clothing, together with the incredibly impressive Ghost they are a true thing of beauty. The fact is, you’re not just getting a couple toys. You’re getting a toy and a legitimate artistic sculpture. People tend to refer to 3A toys as extensions of Ashley Wood’s artwork. Some say the toys themselves are an art as well. I buy into that to a certain degree due to the impressive level of detail and creative work that goes into the majority of their releases, but toys are still toys. This is the first time I can say with a straight and slightly smug face that 3A has created a true piece of art. When I went aftermarket swimming to hunt down my own set I thought for sure that it’d be worth it. I just had no idea just how blown away I was going to be when I finally had it in hand. I know I sound like I’m fawning over it fanboy style.. but it really is that amazing. I have friends who have never collected toys in their life who are currently looking to score a set themselves because they’re so impressed with it and want it on display in their office. It’ll make a believer out of you.
If you missed out on this fantastic set do yourself a favor and hunt it down. Just pay the ransom and bring it home. With some evil-bay sellers asking upwards of $600 for a set, it can definitely be a pricey endeavor. Keep an eye out and hopefully you’ll find one within your price range. Either way, I know you won’t regret bringing it home and I can promise that you’ll love it just as much as I do.
Unless of course you’re dead. Which if that be so.. again, my condolences.
Blind Cowboy and Ghost Horse were judged on their own merit but rated as a set – Knives