*Review* 3A’s Darwin Rothchild Father and Son Two Pack


INTRO

In Ashley Wood’s World War Robot, Rothchild is the evil/indifferent/ingenious inventor who individually from very little created all the various warring robot factions. He sells to the top bidder, North or South, Earth or Space with complete ambivalence. He also supposedly thinks of his creations as his own children. In fact, on the box for the Father Son Two pack it reads that he “looks upon 003 as a father does his child.” A man’s love for his murderous giant robot, truly heart warming stuff.

The idea behind this pack was pretty awesome. You get the creator.. nay, stirrer-upper of trouble that is Roth as well as his sleek assassin/bodygaurd, the shiny red 003. My anticipation for this set was rivaled only by the Blind Cowboy/Ghost Horse Super Set I received earlier this year. (See review here) I knew from the day I placed the order that Rothchild and 003 would be very clean and in stark contrast to the usual grit 3A dry rubs their stuff in. I was ready for it. In fact, believed it to be a boon for my collection in the way they’d stand out on the shelf. The Caesar release was the first from 3A’s new LUX line which was to be essentially their premium product. I read that to mean, “it doesn’t get any better than this so hold onto your butts.”

Therein lies my confliction with the set and in fact the underlining for this entire review. How can something meant to be so pristine and so polished, feel so freaking sloppy?

PACKAGING

The 2 pack arrives in a sturdy, large brown box as is most often the case when 3A makes a house call. The box art itself is minimalistic front and back. It features contrasty red and white with various logos sprinkled about. It’s primarily a focus on basic form and negative space. Ergo, not a lot to see here.

WHAT’S INCLUDED

So you managed to wrestle your set free! Congrats! The big red bloke 003 has two sheathed (and sick looking) blades as well as holstered twin pistols. Darwin comes with a swap of hands and a tiny “wood” bertie. Also included is a catalog of sorts, showing offall the 3A toys you missed out on over the past year or so.

THE BREAKDOWN

My Grandma had a weird saying, “there’s those who dig graves and those who wouldn’t be caught dead doing such.” I think it was meant to be a funny way of looking at people who work hard and people who don’t… or it was just Grandma being morbid. Well, straight out of the box, Rothy looks like someone who wouldn’t be caught dead doing such. Super clean head to toe. Not a spec of 3A grime or gristle on him. Right after the Rothchild drop, 3A teased a few pics of a couple of Roth variants, an all black version and a dirtied up version that look like he’d been changing the oil on an old bronco. I know I said I was ready for clean.. but I can’t help but wish dirty mechanic Roth was a regular release as well.. I digress.

Rothchild has an interesting head sculpt. It’s extremely simple and expressionless. My first reaction to the teaser shots could be summed up with a massive “meh”. However, now that I actually have him in hand, I actually really like the sculpt. It works really well for the character. His youthful, blank stare somehow screams a dark ambition.. or perhaps contemplative resolve. He could just as well be saying, “you did well today my son.” or “I’m afraid I have to end you.” Maybe that’s why it works. It leaves a lot up to your interpretation in ways a sculpted smile, frown, smirk etc type of expression would not.

The hands Rothchild comes with are all slight variations of each other. One wider than the rest to easily hold the wooden Bertie and one in a sort of, arthritic, knuckled position which reminds me of Tommy Mission’s ham fists. The problem I have with the hands is they all look a little on the cheap side. Maybe it’s the total lack of weathering or paint detail but they look like they were simply cast and tossed in the box to ship. It’s odd because the hands ARE painted. Someone actually took the time to dip them or run a brush over them but there’s no details (fingernails, etc) at all. The sculpts are actually really cool, but in the end it comes across flat without different tones or highlights to set them off. Also, all of the hands in my set have very VERY visible seams which heavily contributed to their over all cheap-ish appearance. I did like that they’re made of a softer material than previous 3A figures have been equipped with. This is cool for fitting things into his hands with little effort, like a the wee Bertie or maybe even a weapon of some sort.

Speaking of the wee Bertie, it’s painted a sort of faux wood color. It does the job but is an obvious no frills effort at realism. Still, mini Berties are cool. It is known.

Roth has some Hot Topic-esque goth rubber boots that look kinda cool, if only from a distance. This was the one detail that I was the most interested in from the teaser pics. As it turns out, I found them sadly lacking. On one hand, due to the large sole of the shoes, you should have no problem getting Darwin to balance upright. On the other hand, thanks to the rubbery like material of them, they will not allow for any sustained ankle or foot articulation. Want to bend Roth’s foot up or down? Not a problem. Want it to stay there? Not going to happen. The ankle peg just isn’t stiff enough to resist the rubber of the boots. It’s odd, because even with Blind Cowboy and his incredibly hard boots I can get his ankles to bend and stay. I chalk it up to the nature of the rubbery material which is somehow neither soft nor hard enough to work.

Now we come to Rothchild’s wardrobe. This is where all my frustrations with this figure start to come to a boil. Roth features the newish 3A slim body which I’m a pretty big fan of. His clothes are sewn to be more fitted and “neat”, so therefore are more snug than most of 3A’s previous offerings. Ah.. frustration. Where to begin? The pants are nicely tailored but at the waist they sort of “U”up which gives him the look of someone who was on the unfortunate losing end of an all day brutal bout of Team Sport Wedgie. There is also no fastener of any kind where one’s zipper should normally be. Any sitting position you put Roth in parts the crotch of his pants wide open which neatly displays his Ken doll like goodies in true Basic Instinct fashion. It’s a strange omission considering the peeps in charge obviously have ample amounts of sturdy Velcro strips laying around.

Don’t get me started about the belt. I think I’ve seen a better looking accessory included with Beach Barbie. No seriously, her beach ball was super realistic! Well done Mattel, full marks! Anyway, the belt looks cheap, like a spare strip of pleather that was cut by a 10 year old. (Hmmm, these are made in China right?) The belt buckle isn’t doing much to help either. Overall, the whole get up is very cheap looking.

It’s Roth’s shirt that is the true bane of my toy collecting existence. Once again 3A decided to use a solid, wide, stiff strip of velcro, running chin to groin as the primary way of keeping his “button up” shut. As was the case with Blind Cowboy, this causes his shirt to bunch up in the front and sit stiffly. It’s impossible to get it to rest naturally. While BC shared this flaw in design, his shirt was at least loose and forgiving making it fairly easy to adjust with some determination. Rothchild’s shirt is form fitted to his slim body. There is no wiggle room here and no way to work around it. What you see is what you get.

On the plus side, the sleeves are fitted really nicely, giving you all the room you need to move his arms around. Unfortunately they’re buttoned (sewn) shut so there’s not a good way to roll them up if you felt so inclined.

Personal mileage may vary but in my case, just look at that mess of a tie. Crinkled, creased, and stuck in some degree of wind blown. The easiest thing for me to do would be to untie it, gently iron it and retie it. I’d do that, but 3A super glued the tie to his collar which has forced me to hunt down a tiny iron. The search continues.

We’ve talked about how Roth looks and dresses, but how does the man dance? Not too well it turns out. Thanks to the new slim body, Roth has a ton articulation at his disposal, you just can’t really access any of it on account of his unforgiving attire. Not that I expect too many will have him pulling off Van Damme split kicks or the like, but Roth’s cloths bind him up pretty well limiting his motion to about 40% of what it could be. Still, you may be surprised by how much character you can squeeze out of Roth, even when the majority of your poses will come from his arms and a twist of his neck. Anything beyond that is a royal pain.

So now we move on to Rothchild’s looming sidekick, 003. Man, how I wanted to love this guy. I’m a big fan of the clean, shiny Nightwatch colorway with my MK3 Bertie being among the favorites in my collection. Ash dirtied up Nightwatch and Daywatch when the Heavy Bramble versions hit and I lost interest. Then along came 001 and 002 Caesars, two paint jobs that mimicked the clean shiny look of DW and NW of old. While I didn’t pull the trigger on either of them (hindsight, they look amazing). I sprang on 003 believing fully that I’d be dealing with a glossy, beautifully clean, stark RED bot charged with rocking my entire collection with his awesomeness.

Let me start with what I like about 003.

At first glance, 003 is striking. He’s huge, towers over Rothchild and the red absolutely pops! The one armed shield looks awesome on him and all the black painted accents and white decals truly look fantastic. If you don’t like clean bots, he may not do anything for you. For me, I enjoy the variety of mixing the war-torn with the fresh off the factory floor.

The twin pistols and knives 003 look great. The guns have red grips while the knives have a really slick contrast to them. 3A calls the knife a “harmonic blade” and they knocked the design of it out of the park. I wish I could own one in 1:1 scale (Make it happen Ash!).  Some will mix and match, but for me the best look is dual anything.

Caesar has some really great articulation. I’m gigantically relieved of this. Up until now, the 1/6 dropcloths have sported the best bot articulation in the business with their ability to move incredibly similar to their 1/6 human counterparts. While not groundbreaking, Caesar does upgrade things in a few areas that makes them a tad more versatile. For one, the range of movement on their shoulders is a good deal broader thanks to a larger double ball joint. Caesar borrows from Popbot and puts a mid foot joint in for some more flexablity.

The last thing I noticed is the thumb joint is on a simple, nice to use ball joint that easily rotates around to whatever angle you please. You can also FINALLY lay the thumb almost completely flat against the palm of his hand. No more perma-thumbs up!

If I was to say one negative thing about “playing” with Caesars, it’d be that they’re a little big. Negative isn’t really the term I’m looking for, but unlike the Dropcloth who ring in just at 12 inches tall, Caesar hits the high notes of 16. The difference is pretty dramatic really. DCs you can grab off the shelf and mess with while leaning back, ‘laxing on the couch. Caesars are just bulky enough that you need something to sit them on to do the same thing comfortably. I think the recently released 1/12 Caesars may hit that sweet spot for 3A and give us something really special toy wise.

Still, given the relatively small amount of articulation limitations Caesars possess, you’ll definitely enjoy posing these guys up.

Aaaaand, that’s it. We’ve reached the end of the positive stuff. On to the gooey bits!

Someone else on one of the many forums I frequent said it best a day before I’d even had a chance to open up my set. I paraphrase, “003 is the first toy I’ve bought from 3A that actually LOOKS like a toy, like plastic.”

There it is in a nut shell. The promise of a glossy, sleek  and sexy red killing machine fell just short of sexy, sleek and (mostly) glossy. Let me remind you that I’ve collected the Night Watch colorway for a few years now. I’m used to 3A’s “clean” bots. I want to reassure you that “clean” is a non-issue here. The issue lies in how the red color of 003 reads.

003′s shield, arms, hands, legs and feet are all painted a nice shiny red color. In direct and indirect light, they maintain a dark but bright red hue that’s nice and shiny. However, there is something about 003′s torso and head that just screams “plastic”. At first, I wasn’t even sure if they were painted red or if it was simply exposed red vinyl. Upon further inspection I noticed a  few paint drips and tiny paint bumps here and there. I believe the problem lies in the material underneath. Where the arms, legs and shield are all a hard plastic, the torso and head are a softer vinyl. This allows light to penetrate the surface, even with a few coats of paint on it. Working in 3D I liken this to subsurface scattering which has everything to do with the absorption and affect of light to a surface. You can see it best in the wax of a burning candle or when there’s light shining behind someones ears or finger tips. This effect keeps 003′s torso from maintaining the same true rich red the rest of his body has which  To my eye, that’s where the illusion of this robot fails.

It’s difficult to photograph, but in hand it’s almost immediately apparent. I’m not sure if I can really blame 3A for this, but I can say that it doesn’t affect the 001/NW or 002/DW colorways. Maybe a better base coat? A few more layers of paint? Perhaps simply a darker, deeper, more crimson red should have been used. I don’t know, but I believe there’s some basic light affect/color theory at work here that should have been tackled on the factory floor before sent out to doorsteps.

The thing is, the oddness with the vinyl-esque look isn’t the part that bothers me the most. Tis his skirt and packs that doth pain me most. In a flat light, florescent bulbed office, the colors all blend fairly seamlessly. The reds hold hands nicely and play hop scotch when no one’s looking. Change the lighting though and wow, that skirt looks ORANGE! Again, difficult to photograph but if you held a red pantone chip up to 003 you’d find that each part of him is just slightly off each other. It’s no more apparent than it is on his packs. I have zero doubts that 3A struggled with trying to get this stuff matched up and it’s definitly close. But it’s a little like seeing a realistic CG face, we’ll call it the uncanny valley of color. When something’s off, even a little, it looks REALLY freaking off.

I make no claims to be a master of dyeing cloth or paint techniques in producing vinyl/plastic so I can’t offer a solution. That’s the beauty about writing a review. It gives you the means to go against the very core of constructive critism. More often than not I can toss out a reason why something is “wrong” without any half way solid ideas on how to get it “right”. I feel I’m guilty of that at this very moment and I wish I could provide a few nuggets that may steer the wayward 3A toy development person on to new and improved practices. I’ve none.

The last bit that’s more of a 3A “leftover” from previous toys than anything new to Caesar is the use of WHITE velcro. So many other toy companies use velcro as a cost saving way to fasten things together, but often it’s either cut smaller than the surrounding material or colored to match as to blend in better. The white velcro peaking out of every pack around his belt cheapens the overall appearance even more. If red was impossible to hunt down, black would have at least looked better. I hope 3A looks into some other velcro options down the line since they seem to LOVE using it whenever they can.

I wouldn’t necessarily call 003′s execution “sloppy” but definitely disappointing. Perhaps my expectations were simply too high. Given the hype and excitement surrounding this release, I don’t know what else to call it.

FINAL WORD

What’s confusing to me about this set is that at first blush it was to be all about neat and clean perfection. Caesars are of 3A’s LUX line and Rothchild is the pinnacle character of Ashley Wood’s World War Robot. Their designs are spot free, simple and by all accounts should hold up to some form of white glove treatment.

Instead, we find so much is swept under the rug or rather, appear rushed. While 003′s mismatched red hues and sometimes visually orange skirt are certainly less than awesome, it’s Rothchild that truly disappoints. Ill fitted clothing further handicapped by a big stiff velcro strip running up the front of his shirt are the tip of his poorly designed iceberg. In my case, I lucked out with one featuring a wrinkled and crooked mess of a tie to boot. His black kicks are basically stubborn rubber goth rain boots that at once allow for tons of ankle movement yet zero ankle poses. A tease letting you know that if they were better designed, you’d be able to do SO much more. In a show of minimalistic fashion mindedness, his belt matches his boots well. Too bad said belt is the cheapest looking accessory I’ve ever seen on a 3A toy. For once, I think 3A should take a few notes from Hot Toys and learn how to properly taylor some clothing. 3A needs to step up if they want to hold up.

If it sounds like I’m being overly negative.. I may be. I have to stress how much I was anticipating this set. I braced myself for some sort of understated, clean elegance when it came to Rothchild and his looming twin blade bearing red beast of a bot.  Darwin’s face sculpt pulled me in much more than I expected. But a great minimalistic head sculpt doesn’t hold up when the rest is such a so close yet so far shamble. I’m honestly a little shocked how 3A could pass him on with a straight face and stiff upper lip as if to say “this is the best we can do.” One would expect more of a forced smile and a weak missed-the-palm-only-got-the-fingers hand shake followed by a brief, “yeeeah, about that…”

I don’t really know what to do with this set. I’m looking at it now from across the room and the two look really good together. But they’re.. Way. Over. There. It’s when you get up close, wet-works style that the illusion vanishes and the flaws leap out at you like a spider monkey.

If you bought this set, I’d really like to hear your thoughts. Maybe I’m too sensitive to it, expecting too much. This set could be 3A’s triple decker burrito to my collection’s glutton free digestive system. While the end result for me is something akin to diarrhea, it may not bother you in the least, in fact you may find it amazingly tasty. I really want to know.

As it stands, Darwin Rothchild Father and Son Two Pack is one of the few and definitely the biggest let downs I’ve experienced from 3A. I hate when things turn out this way.. I guess even more the reason to cry out when they do.

Pros:

  • Rothchild’s simplistic head sculpt has something very cool, yet subtle going on that I really dig.
  • Caesars in general have great articulation and are very versatile and fun to pose
  • The twin knives are simply beast
  • General layout of the color and decal design on 003 is nice
  • Mini Berties are cool
  • (File this under, “not sure it counts”) From a distance, they look great as a set. Maybe you have a high shelf to put them on… ?

Cons:

  • Rothchild’s terribly stiff (thanks to that stupidly massive strip of velcro) and unforgiving shirt
  • Rothchild’s incredibly cheap looking belt
  • Rothchild’s skin tight pants that also happen to be sans a much needed zipper
  • Rothchild’s cheapo looking hands with very visible seams
  • Rothchild’s rubber goth boots. Not bad to look at, but not much use either.
  • Ugh, white velcro on everything
  • 003 has some very uneven red hues going on
  • he’s also overly toy or plastic/vinyl looking
  • 003′s skirt and bags change from red to vaguely orange in various lights
  • slapdash wood paint job on min bertie
  • This is LUX?

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7 thoughts on “*Review* 3A’s Darwin Rothchild Father and Son Two Pack

  1. Great review. I left my Rothchild in the box I was so unimpressed by him the belt in particular, how big is that buckle? A different scale? Also my Roth has one arm twisted so the elbow bends in the wrong direction, but trying to correct it with the shirt and cuffs so tight is a nightmare.

    I love 003 more than you, but I was definitely disappointed by the strong colour difference between the skirt and the bot, this is fine if intentional, but I don’t think that is the case here. I agree as well about the weird almost unpainted look of the body. But I am willing to overlook a lot once I have him posed with those knives at the ready :-)

    Overall your final Con is spot on, is this what we expected from a LUX(ury) toy?

    Like

  2. i used a bit of double sided tape for the tie to lay flat.
    i got the funeral version.
    the belt needs to be totally replaced. i’ll wait and see what dedguy does with his, as i’m sure he’ll mod it. but i may look for a different 1/6th belt.
    i’m not a fan of that fat velcro strip inside the shirt either.

    you may have to pop the head off and lift the collar to get a better look at your tie.

    Like

  3. Great review! I didn’t get any of the Caesars in WWR but ordered both of the RIP’s (and a Gravedigger) in WWRp. I’m really hoping they do a version of 003 in that scale, I’d get him straight away. Only hope that they correct all of the flaws you’ve so accurately identified here.

    The seams on the hands do sound cheap, and mirror the very obvious seams that appear on F-Legion’s baseball bat. Let’s hope this isn’t going to become a common occurrence. Wonder if it’s the materials they are working with or if they are taking shirt cuts to get things out quicker?

    I get that some people like the Rothchild sculpt but I saw it directly after seeing the preview for Hot Toys new Black Widow figure…it’s not a direct comparison that flatters ThreeA…

    Like

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