Category Archives: 1/6

*Review* 3A WWR EMGY Dropcloth 1.5

INTRO

ThreeA, to me, has always been about robots. Even now, with all their Tomorrow Kings, Tommy Mission, Zombs and pointy chested, long legged vixens, big ol’ rusty robots are the first thing that pops into my head whenever the toy company comes up. It was in fact a random image of a WWRp Dirty Deeds Bertie that first caught my attention and led me, cash clinched in hand, to ThreeA’s doorstep. A few purchases under my belt later, still wide-eyed and bushy tailed as one tends to be when their toe is first dipped into ThreeA waters, I set out with the seemingly obtainable goal to get one of each kind of bot in my collection. At first, I was keeping to the smaller, more obtainable bots thinking the larger bot were just too expensive for someone like me who planned to only be a casual collector with a tidy, reasonable collection. Ha! If I only knew then what I know now.

A month or so into my earnest collecting, I accidentally purchased a incredibly well priced, WWR Dropcloth Slaughterhouse. At the time, I didn’t have a solid understanding of the various labels 3A tossed on their various lines, so the lack of the letter “p” generally tagged on the end of the “WWR”, escaped my notice. I foolishly believed it to be another 1/12th bot given the reasonable cost.

Foolishly or not, when the dual hatchet wielding, 1/6 bot arrived on my doorstep, I was thrilled. While a WWRp Bertie reeled me in, it was definitely a WWR Droppie that truly sunk it’s hooks in. Dropcloths were and still are my favorite robots from ThreeA’s arsenal of cool toys. They’re just so pose-able and fun to play around with. Also, their reasonable scale makes them easy to collect and display with a variety of other sized figures. I’ve rotated out, bought and sold quite a bit of my collection over the years for one reason or another, but I have one bot that is securely locked into my “if there was a house fire, grab that” mental category, the WWR EMGY Dropcloth.

In my opinion, he’s simply the coolest looking bot I own, standing front and center on my shelf.

The EMGY colorway is understandably popular. In many cases, it’s rarity seems to be the driving point. But for me, it’s the stark use of  rusty yellow paired with dark black, silver and most importantly, red. Since the first EMGY WWRp bertie (speaking of rare), the EGMY color-way has gone through various changes. Newer bots, like Caesar and particularly Armstrong skipped the red accents altogether. It might seem like such a small thing, but in my opinion, it’s absence caused the newer bots to come out looking a lot less exciting than the original. Even the EMGY grunt, which I think is just a sick figure to have, lacks basically any other color accents at all, leaving him with a color scheme an interior designer might refer to as, “the dirty banana”.

When ThreeA teased us with the first Dropcloth follow up back at SDCC 2012, the Dropcloth 1.5, I was pretty excited.  When it was announced that the EMGY color-way would be among the first available, I was even more excited. Once I saw that the paint app would be a return to EMGY glory days (ie: reds, blacks and silvers) I may have fist pumped the air, shouted, “YEAH BABY!” and held that pose for moment, freeze frame style, in true 80′s tradition.

ThreeA once again made the EMGY drop a random “rare” drop, despite it’s popularity. On the plus side, it was a rare drop seemingly far more obtainable than any other I’ve experienced. In fact, the first time I logged onto bambaland during the sale (which featured Peaceday as the regular drop) I saw EGMY up and purchased him with little fuss. Almost every other time I checked the site, he was still there. I like to think that whoever wanted him at the time had a pretty good opportunity to snag him.

With my personal EMGY history deets out of the way, I am thrilled to finally have EMGY 1.5 in my hands. Keep reading to see how well I think  he stacks up to the OG.

Here we go..

In a hurry? Already tired of words? Check out the video review on our new YouTube channel!

PACKAGING

Ah yes. I’m happy to report that we have some beautiful, Ashely Wood art taking up the majority of the front side of the packaging. On the back and side you can see Brent Ashe’s (the lead technical designer for 3A) handy work. It’s a well conceived, nice looking design that embraces and combines 3a’s old and new package art styles and ultimately looks pretty darn handsome on the shelf.

Golf clap, fellahs.

A quirky, cool story is on the back bottom panel discussing the bloody misuse of the EMGY 1.5 bots during a Peaceday parade.. calling back to the original (awesome) story, to get your imagination juices flowing. One can only hope we’ll see a full comic or a follow up to the WWR books someday to really flesh this world out.

You also get a cool weapon load out diagram that lets you know clearly what’s standard and secondary. Seeing that had me lost in thought of just how cool it’d be to play a WWR RTS or FPS game.. oh the fun that could be had. (ThreeA, make it happen.)

WHAT’S INCLUDED

As is becoming more and more the case with WWR releases, EMGY comes LOADED with accessories. One thing that immediately stands out is that all the gear is brand new and unique to the Dropcloth 1.5 line. The standard load-out includes dual (holstered) pistols, a submachine gun, a close-quarters shotgun and a really cool cleaver-esque knife. Unique to ol’ EMGY is the ever cool strapped riot baton (not seen since the OG EMGY Dropcloth) and of course, the infamous riot shield.

Suffice to say, you have a LOT of options to play around with.

Man, I love EMGY.

THE BREAKDOWN

Man, that toxic smell. Some love it, some hate it. I find a sense of nostalgia in it, but dude, EMGY was loaded with it when I unpacked him. Toe to toe with Stinkor from MOTU in odoriferousness. From 3A’s factories to my front door. Here’s hoping there’s some chemical safety regulations at play.. otherwise, in my small office littered with 3A toys, health-wise, I’m screwed.

So first impression, he looks.. friendly? Not what I expected to think right out the box. Those two eyes between the popped metal collar, make him look almost cute in a way. Like, dangerous.. but friendly. In a way, it makes sense. If these are designed to interact with humans, the only point of the eyes is to humanize them and make us fleshys feel more comfortable. It’s definitely a different vibe than I get from my OG EMGY Droppy.

So lemme check out this paint job. Mmhmm.. MmHmm. I think it looks good… great even. The weathering is looking quite nice. It’s something that 3A is known for of course. Upon closer inspection and when compared to my OG Dropcloth, there’s quite a few apparent differences. He’s a LOT more orange, but you can tell there’s more layers at work here. The OG is a bright yellow, with it’s key weathering element being basically rusty sponge marks applied liberally all over the place. A few inky drips and some dark edge work and he’s done. The new 1.5 has what appears to be 3 base layers, a dark “steel” layer, and bright yellow (similar to the OG) followed by the dominant burnt orange layer. There’s still sponge marks, though not as heavy as before, coupled with several cross-hatch like brush marks all over. These are very apparent on his legs, which are almost brown from the amount of heavy weathering.

Some fans may be turned off by the fact that the yellow/orange of the 1.5 doesn’t match the yellow of.. well, ANY of the other EMGY bots, but it’s hard to argue that on his own, he looks really nice. If the 1.5 is an update, then it makes some sense that 3A would attempt to try new and improved methods with their paint application. Whether it looks better or not is going to be completely up to the individual. Even if the off-yellow throws you… the red and silver accents should bring you back in. They look ever bit as cool as you’d want them to and give us the legitimate EMGY color scheme we’ve been wanting since the first time we saw it.

Articulation is vastly improved on the 1.5 in almost every conceivable area. Double joints at the neck and shoulders allow just a bit more wiggle room. Droppies feet have two hinges in them to assist in making your “Hey, I’m walking here!” pose that much more believable. The old thumb joint is gone and in it’s place is a much more forgiving ball joint. It’s not new as it’s been seen on a few other bots already, but it’s an update from the original Dropcloths.

On both his forearms, we have two ultra-cool shield. Each shield can also be swiveled around to allow for various load-out and pose options. Basically, if they’re in your way, you can move them. I’d also like to mention how much I like the dark paint on the shields, they feature some of the best weathering on the entire bot.

Probably the biggest update to ol’ droppy is his double-jointed elbows. It’s a little thing, but seems to make a pretty big difference in the sort of poses you’re able to get out of him thanks to their inclusion. It’s a first for a 3A bot and makes the range of the already highly articulated Dropcloth, that much more extensive.

The legs on the 1.5 seem to lack any noticeable difference from those of their older brother’s. What’s there is pretty great already, but I was hoping the area where the leg connected to the hip would have been refined a little bit to allow for a wider stance.

If there was one thing that carried over from the original Dropcloths that I really, REALLY wish 3A would have altered.. it’s the way the bags attach. While some of the dangling ones are nicely attached by (black!) plastic clips, the sacks on his hips have a thin strap that simply feed down through some (very) snug loops sewn into the hip of his (her?) skirt. They’ll stay put probably 99% of the time, but there’s nothing really securing them. The pain comes when one slips out why you’re posing him, or heck, removing a pistol from it’s holster. You literally need a tool(s) to feed the strap back down through the wee loops. On some of my previous Dropcloths, the straps were long enough that I could twist and tie them together to fastened them better, no such luck this time around. It’s a small annoyance that’s unique to Dropcloths and has bugged me since practically day one of collecting 3A.. looks like it’ll continue to do so.

All the accessories look pretty fantastic and are a ton of fun to mix and match for your setup. I’ve heard some complain about the size of the shotgun, but to me it works well. It basically looks like something a SWAT team would use in close quarters combat. Sawed off with a grip to help with the recoil.

The new knife, as I mentioned earlier, is something completely new, looking more like a cleaver than and combat knife. I really like it. If a Slaughterhouse 1.5 is released however, 3A will need to do something to make him stand out more since cleavers are kinda his thing.

There’s also the classic EMGY Droppy baton. I’m pretty sure it’s the exact same one the OG EMGY had, which is a good thing!

You also have a sub-machine gun and some dual pistols at your disposal. I stated earlier that all the weapons were unique and new to 1.5, but the pistols are actually the same ones we’ve come to know and love from the OG Dropcloths. If it ain’t broke..

The accessory that’s probably gotten the most “press” has been EMGY’s shield. A favorite accessory for collectors, many were disappointed when photos of the “new” shield started to pop up. It seems 3A couldn’t leave well enough alone and decided to redesign/paint the whole thing.

My first reaction to the photos was the same as a lot of other people’s, “Oh no! What have they done?” It just didn’t look very good. Blotchy yellow paint surrounded by ugly brown smears. A EMGY icon that was seemingly drawn on by a 4 year old. I definitely got why people were getting upset and I found myself siding with the throng of pitchfork wielders.

But then I saw another picture that seemingly displayed a sense of depth and even realism, causing me to question my first take. While waiting on mine to arrive, I’ve seen people’s posted pictures that make the shield look pretty darn great, and others that make it look like it was painted with crayons and baby feces. I decided to reserve my judgement and keep an open mind until I had it in hand.

So finally in hand and out of the box, sitting in front of me I can with all honesty say… “Huh.”

It ain’t bad. In fact, I’d probably say it’s more “realistic” than the old shields. There’s depth to it, much like the paint on the EMGY himself, and more layers than you’d expect just looking at the photos. The brown is actually very metallic and looks like good, worn out, rusty metal. The paint that appeared so soft and smudgy to me in photos online, actually makes good visual sense up close. It’s a nice, realistic effect.

So it’s more realistic, but is it better?

In the end, I’ll be placing this guy up with my other EMGY crew, all of who are wielding similarly painted and weathered shields. Right now, it looks harmonious, as most want their crew or colorway of choice to look, but the new shield is going to stick out like a sore thumb.

Even without that concern, standing on it’s own, I think where I find real issue derives from exactly what I was saying earlier.. up close, it looks realistic, up close, you can see the depth, up close, you can tell there’s some great techniques at work. However, take a few steps away, all you can see is a strange, bold and distracting pattern that doesn’t look or feel like anything else in your collection. From three feet away, It reads more like a bad camo pattern, than rust and chipped paint.

In short, where the paint application has gained technique and possibly sophistication, it sorely lacks any harmony and visual congruence. Particularly when paired with any of your other EMGY, shield-bearing, figures.

FINAL WORD

I gotta say, I’m incredibly happy with how the EMGY Dropcloth 1.5 came out. I think 3A knocked it out of the park in the majority of it’s innovations and improvements from the original. It’s hard to compare new to old, because the OG has such a special place in my toy collecting heart, but toy to toy, the 1.5 is probably a “better” toy. Whatever that means.

I feel like the Dropcloth 1.5 is a good example of how ThreeA is working to improve and advance everything they’re doing production-wise. Tweaked and improved articulation, a more detailed and layered paint application and a butt-ton of weapons to fiddle with. It may not thrill everyone that the paint isn’t the exact same or a perfect match with the rest of their EMGY crew, but I almost see it as a necessary evil in the process. It’ll be interesting to see how other well known color-ways will fair, if and when they’re released in the future.

The shield is just something that you’ll have to decide how you feel about it yourself. I know some will love it from the moment they grip it in their eager, balmy hands. I’ve read recent comments from some people who were adamantly and vocally against the new paint work, only to decide they liked it MORE than the old version once they had it in-hand. Of course others stand by their opinion that it’ll only be fit for display once it’s repainted the “right” way. Until then, it shall remain in the confines of it’s packaging, never to feel the sun on it’s blotchy yellow and brown skin.

I’m not exactly sure how I’ll handle mine just yet. I know for sure I won’t be leaving it in the box like some useless or unloved accessory. One of my favorite things about this guy is just how many different poses and combinations are possible with him. The shield alone gives you quite a few! In the long run, I may not display mine front and center along side my current EMGY setup, but I think I’m going to figure out a way to strap it to his back, ala Captain America or something.

All in all, I think ThreeA did a top-notch job with the EMGY Dropcloth 1.5. It’s their most articulated and pose-able bot yet. He’s also loaded up with more unique accessories than any previous ThreeA figure to date.

For those like me who started collecting ThreeA around the same time the original Dropcloths came out, I think the 1.5 heralds back to those days. It should give you that nostalgic tug you were hoping for, while still delivering something fresh. For those who are just starting to get into ThreeA and the 1.5 is the first bot in your collection.. oh the slippery slope you’ve stumbled upon, my friends.

Give your wallet my condolences.

PROS:

  • A very solid and worthy upgrade to one of the most outstanding toy robots ThreeA has to offer
  • Nice weathering and paint application
  • Tons of accessories to mess with!
  • Great “enhanced” articulation over the previous version

CONS:

  • I think the shield paint work is pretty good, but it’s not at all cohesive with the rest of the figure which causes it to stick out like a sore thumb on the shelf
  • While the paint application itself is great on Droppy 1.5, the fact he favors orange more than the traditional yellow of previous EMGY figs will bother some collectors.
  • A few missed opportunities for detail work (ie: EMGY’s eyes are blank, where Peaceday’s were painted and some areas of cloth are untouched by weathering)

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*Review* 3A’s Halo Commander Carter

INTRO

Halo.

You’ve spent a stupid amount of hours playing it.. your friends have kicked your butt countless times in it.. your girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife/mother/father have rolled their eyes while you spent long evenings shooting at things in it.. even your weird red-headed neighbor has probably heard of it. I guarantee their somehow even weirder kids have. I’d say, it’s pretty safe to assume that if you or someone you know has picked up a video game controller in the last decade, you’ve played or at the very least heard of the epic video game series, Halo.

It started with Halo: Combat Evolved way back in 2001 (am I alone in thinking that wasn’t that long ago? Also, where did these crow’s feet come from?) by the very talented game devs, Bungie. Since then, the Halo franchise has become a multi-billion (with a “b”) dollar juggernaut for Microsoft Studios.

I have really fond memories of playing Halo: Combat Evolved on my ugly tan desktop with its massive CRT and beefy BFG Video card. At the time, I didn’t care much for single player games, but I was a multiplayer fiend and that’s what really hooked me! Since then, I’ve picked up each and every Halo game that slips down the chute, despite opinions of fluctuating creativity and quality. Microsoft has a knack for timing Halo releases via some intergalactic series of happenstance, which somehow seems to coincide with the exact moment I start to feel a depressing lull in my gaming world. I take comfort in two things when it comes to Halo games. I know that they’ll always be pretty to look at, and I know that, regardless of how the single player story turns out, I’ll be darn sure to wring my money’s worth out of the multiplayer.

But we’re not here to talk about video games, and I fear I’ve probably gone on too long already about them. Most of you have probably skipped ahead to the pretty pictures or are checking out the video preview which requires little to no active reading skillz. That’s fine, but I feel like I must reward those of you who have stayed true through the choppy waves of my prattle.. yes, something for those who have the obvious steel to see this review through to its hallowed purpose. I offer you, brave reader, an unflinching analysis into what may potentially be the most epic toy to cross my desk!

To the point! Where were we? OH YES! Halo games and toys and BILLIONS of dollars. Despite owning and spending uncountable hours playing every single Halo game, the only one I ever felt compelled to play its single player through to the end, was Halo: Reach.

When ThreeA announced it had landed the Halo license, many were surprised that a character from Reach was to be the first out of the gate, especially since that game came out in 2010. Halo 4 was just around the corner and seemed the much more obvious choice. For me, I simply thought,”Cool, at least they’re starting with the interesting Spartans.” But moreover, I just chalked it up to the idea that ThreeA, when dealing with their 3rd party licenses, appears to prefer releasing secondary or less important characters first, before tackling the Master Chiefs or the Gordan Freemans of said franchise.

Whether or not that’s true, I haven’t any evidence. McFarlane Toys and Play Arts Kai have both released a full range of Halo figures, all starting with the main man, Master Chief. ThreeA went another direction and chose Commander Carter from the long since bargain-binned Halo Reach.

Regardless of the reasons or the contracts at play, Carter is here.. and I can promise, you’ve never seen a Halo figure quite like this.

PACKAGING

Brent Ashe must be working overtime over at ThreeA. Since his hire last year, ThreeA’s boxes have a more graphic design flavor, with Ashley Wood occasionally contributing some original artwork to display on the front. Commander Carter’s box goes a route similar to those seen with ThreeA’s Real Steel designs, clean with techy graphics, character specs and icons.

Though it’s doubtful I’ll be leaving it out on display myself, it’s definitely a fitting design choice for something pulled from Halo’s futuristic world.

WHAT’S INCLUDED

ThreeA saw it prudent to outfit Carter with a wide selection of armor and weapon elements.

On the armor front, we have two magnetic shoulder pauldrons, two front chest packs and a belt pack for his back.

Carter’s mini armory may be missing the iconic Halo magnum, part of the default starter load-out in multiplayer games of slayer, but what is included doesn’t slouch.

He has two magnetic frag grenades, a combat knife with sheath and the M392 DMR.

THE BREAKDOWN

I first peeked Carter at last year’s SDCC and he knocked my socks off. He was behind glass, so I couldn’t fondle him or pinch his cheeks.. but just from the looks of him, I was thoroughly impressed. Now that I have him in hand, he’s… well, I’ll say this: I haven’t spent this much initial time posing and playing with a toy in at least the last six months.

The details on him just pop from under all that great rusty blue paint. The sculpt itself is nothing short of fantastic. I’ve said it before, I’m saying it again, and I hope to say it many more times down the road; ThreeA has somehow raised the stakes on its paint work. Each and every extrusion/recess/depression seems to have accurately painted edge details and wear marks. On looks alone, Carter wins my toy collection.

Just the fun I had posing him in various degrees of grenade holding/tossing was enough to keep me busy for half an hour. When I got tired of that, it was time to pose him holding and slashing his knife. I kept finding myself trying to imagine in-game moments to pull poses from. This is part of why Carter “wows” you, right out of the box.

Carter’s articulated fingers make holdings things a breeze for the most part. They’re cool to mess with and work great with the knife and ‘nades. I did think they were a little less than the ideal shape to hold the rifle. Something about the way they collect when they close keeps the rifle from laying flush to his palm, which can give him an unnatural looking grip. It’s a little thing that only the pickiest of the picky would notice.. like me. Still, they get the job done.

While I really dig the articulated fingers, there is something about them that bugged me. They occasionally fall out. Hey, it’s better than hearing a “snap,” but when they fall out, there’s no sound at all, particularly if you’re standing on a padded surface like carpet. Few things make a toy collector more nervous than taking a figure out into the woods for a photo shoot while it’s tiny pieces are falling off all willy-nilly.

Speaking of taking photos, I asked my friend, who happens to be a big Halo fan and pro photographer, Dallas Nagata White to join me in snapping some cool shots of Carter in the wild. You can probably tell which ones are hers, because they’re the really good ones. ;0) We had a great time.. and from the marks on my legs and arms, so did the mosquitos.

Let’s talk about Carter’s articulation a bit. A lot of the stuff you’ve grown accustomed to with 1/6 action figures is all here, with a twist.

Carter has a rubber (like?) suit that runs over his entire body, underneath the sculpted hard surface parts. I think it gives his suit a very natural and believable look that would be difficult to imitate otherwise. With that in mind, I expected some limitations in how poseable he’d be. What I didn’t expect was, well.. I’ll get to that.

Carter’s arms have all the articulation you could need for basically any natural pose you may want. His neck is the same. Where things start to get odd is around his pelvis. First off, his waist doesn’t bend.. scratch that, it bends.. it just doesn’t stay bent. There’s flex to it, but it’s so minor I’m not sure it’s meant to bend at all there, simply restricted by the suit or if I’m making it do unintended things.

So let’s just chalk the waist up as “bendy, but not really.” I can live with that. The thing that’s really strange is the hip articulation. You can almost get Carter’s legs out into a split as well as push them into a fairly wide running man stride. The thing is, there’s nothing there “catching” the joint. It’s just, loose. The moment you let go, it flops back to an almost neutral standing position. Check out our video preview at the top of this review for a better look at what I’m talking about.

The good news is, his knees and particularly his ankles have really nice, flexible, but firm joints. So by working the two of those together with his loosey-goosey hips.. you can actually manage some decent poses. Also, despite the hips and some wobble, Carter is really easy to pose and pretty darn stable when standing.

One of the biggest features of Carter is the hidden magnetic points in his armor. It’s a fantastic idea that perfectly mirrors the way Spartans carry gear in-game. It looks great and works well.. almost.

The shoulder pauldrons click on and stay put fairly well. The same can be said for the pack that sits at the small of his back. But honestly, all the magnets are just a little too weak.

One of the two biggest culprits is the shoulder knife, whose sweet spot on his shoulder is so small, the slightest errant jiggle will knock it free. But even worse than that is the magnets meant to hold his rifle in place. Two small magnets on the top of his back line up with two small magnets on the rifle and lock it into place. Except, it really seems like one magnet is either smaller or weaker than the other and tends to come unlocked very easily. The weight of the rifle takes care of the rest and given the fairly delicate nature of the gun itself, it’s not likely to survive a steep fall from a shelf or table top.

The magnets that hold the grenades in place aren’t that much better, but I didn’t seem to have the same problem with them being knocked off. Also, they’re sturdy little round fellahs that can take hit when they do fall.

Unlike everything else, the two included chest packs are not magnetized. Instead, they simply clip into two small slots on Carter’s chest. Strangely enough, one pack stayed on incredibly well while the other seemed to fall of at the smallest nudge. In the end, I left that one off for convenience.

All said, I’d recommend removing all the delicate bits before posing or transporting Carter to reduce the risk of something falling and breaking.

The last thing I want to touch on is the light features of Carter. I’ll start with the bad, then work my way to the good.

First off.. the instructions call for you to insert 3 tiny batteries per the back of each arm. You WILL curse. You will throw things in unfettered rage. They will fly all over the room and under things that have not seen daylight in years. About 20 mins in (yup, 20) the tension coil in the back of Carter’s left arm snapped. I almost lost it… like, my mind AND the coil.

So, I decided to just try 2 batteries instead of the 3. After they were in place, I slid the broken piece of coil back in best I could and viola! The lights (or should I say “light,” seriously, that much work for one tiny bicep light!) came on and worked just fine. I’m sure the life of them will be greatly decreased as it calls for 3, but I’ll take my chances.

Moving onto the next arm with my revised plan, tragedy stuck. It didn’t work. The light would not come on. I swapped out different batteries, moved things around, everything. In fact, I managed to get all three installed and it still didn’t work. That’s when I noticed the split at the back seam of his arm. You can see from the pic that it’s clearly not meant to be that way.  This is probably a good spot for me to bring up the purple-ish tape you see in some of these photos. You see, once I broke the paint seal on the battery cover for this arm, I wouldn’t snap back into place securely due to the warped plastic in the surrounding area. The tape is what I used to prevent myself from losing the cover.

(I’ve already contacted CS and it is a defect specific to my figure and not something you should have to worry about)

Unlike those tiny little devils, the batteries for the body of Carter are a lot (understatement) less aggravating to put in. His back pops open with relative ease and the two batteries slide into place. The thing I don’t like about it is that, unlike the arms, you have to open that same panel up to access the light’s switch. It’s really inconvenient.

But when you finally do emerge, blistered and bruised, and you get the LED lights on.. man does he look great.

REALLY great.

I wanted to give you guys an idea of how big Carter is. Here’s a quick pic of one of Ashley Wood’s Tomorrow Kings and Damtoys Spade J standing next to him for reference.

Hey there, big fellah! :)

THE FINAL WORD

ThreeA has without question released the most impressive looking Halo toy yet. Impeccable details, fantastic paint, etc.. it’s all here and it all looks amazing.Even with the issues I had, I’m still a big fan of this toy. I’ll no doubt add the next one to my collection and the next one after that. That’s not stopping me from hoping they improve a few things of course.

The body has some good articulation and then some that just doesn’t make any sense. The rubber isn’t the problem, it’s the hips themselves. They just don’t catch at any point to stick in a position. They’re almost completely loose. While it apparently doesn’t hinder his balance at all thanks to a generous ankle and knee joint, it definitely limits the kind of poses you can get out of him. It also seems like something that could have been easily avoided by just giving Carter regular hip joints!

I really like the magnet feature. All the parts fit naturally and look really great. Swapping off pieces of armor so easily is just a lot of fun. But they need to be stronger so they hold in place what they’re supposed to hold in place. The more delicate bits like the rifle are at a pretty big risk of falling and breaking, as is.

Delicate. That’s not a word I’d normally use to describe a Spartan, but honestly.. that’s a bit how Carter feels. The base figure itself is solid enough, sure. But with the loose wobble of his hips, the fingers falling out of place when you move them and the magnets not being strong enough to hold things in place well enough to endure a vaguely moderate bump, it’s difficult to describe him any other way.

Hiccups and all, I’m really looking forward to seeing what ThreeA does next with their Halo license. They’ve already done a really great, if flawed, job setting the tone this time around with Carter. If I refer back to my original statement about this figure, before the batteries, loose hips and weak magnets distracted me, I had fun with Carter. Spending all that time just seeing what was possible with him was nothing but pure joy.

I have little doubt the skilled ladies and gents at ThreeA will improve on the groundwork laid out with Carter. Even now, I’m looking over at him and trying to imagine just how amazing he’d look on my shelf, flanked by Jorge and Emile. Now that’s going to be some seriously epic stuff.

PROS:

  • Everything looks fantastic, spot-on sculpt and a clever use of a variety of materials give a very believable look
  • Paint application is top notch, some of 3A’s best
  • The LED light feature (body) really looks amazing
  • Magnet attached accessories are super cool and I want more!
  • Sturdy and easy to balance
  • Articulated fingers are super cool
  • Those frag grenades
  • A heck of a lotta fun to mess with

CONS:

  • Magnets aren’t nearly as strong as they should be
  • The very odd freeball’n hip joint situation
  •  The instructions’ ludicrous suggestion that we struggle to jam 3 tiny  batteries into that impossibly small area, when two work just as well (though they’ll certainly be shorter lived)
  • I wish the chest packs didn’t block some of the LED lights
  • Switch for armor lights or ANY lights should be external and easy to access

Massively huge thanks to ThreeA for giving me a playdate with Carter.

A huge thanks to Dallas Nagata White for hanging out and taking some fantastic photos! Everyone be a love and go check out more of her stuff at dallasnagatawhite.com

Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay updated with all our latest news and reviews! Check out our new Youtube channel for more video reviews and previews!

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*Review* 3A Real Steel Atom

INTRO

Remember that time we reviewed a Real Steel robot from the toy wizards at ThreeA? Well, sirs… it’s that time again! Stomping into my living room is the hero of the film, (unless you count Hugh Jackman or the kid.. but who in their right mind would count the kid?) Atom! Dun-duh-duuun!

I won’t drag you through my thoughts on the film itself.. I think I covered that well enough here and here. What I’m going to do, and really, all I need to do.. is talk about this big ol’ robot sitting in front of me.

Image property of Dreamworks Animation

I want to make sure everyone understands a couple things before we jump in.

First, this is a production sample! What that  means is that, while it should give us all a pretty good idea as to what we can expect when Atom shows up on doorsteps later in the year, ThreeA is still busy tightening bolts, refining the paint, tweaking the joints and all around making him a bunch better before committing to full-on production. So keep in mind, some things may change between now and then.

Secondly, let me quickly point you to our disclaimer page. I do this because we’ve gotten a few emails and such concerned with whether or not our opinions could be biased in a positive vein  towards free samples we receive from toy companies. Let me say that, in short, it’s our strict policy here not to hand out positive reviews simply because a company sends us stuff. I have a lot of stuff.. I absolutely don’t NEED more stuff just for the sake of getting stuff (My wife’s on the brink of disowning me and my stuff as it is).  This site, however, is something we’ve painstakingly spent the last couple of years building up and we’re not going to throw away our cred (street or otherwise) just on the passing hope that a toy company will occasionally toss something our way. It’s just not worth it! Of course, we’re fans of these things first and foremost and we have respect for the individuals that have the wherewithal to put these things together, otherwise we wouldn’t be doing this.. but if something is not to our liking/standard etc, you’ll be the first to know!

We can’t promise that our opinion on things will be the same as yours, but we can promise that our opinion will always be honest and our own and in no way colored by obtaining free stuff.

OK! With all that noise out out of the way, on to the pics and stuff about Atom! I’m excited, are you?

PACKAGING

As this was a product sample, the artwork for Atom’s box has not been completed yet. So Atom arrived in a basic brown shipping box adorned with arrows pointing “this way up” and a bunch of handwriting in a language I can’t read but can only assume says, “Warning: big-ass robot inside.”

WHAT’S INCLUDED

As with the other Real Steel figures, Atom comes basically accessory free. If you get the bambaland version, (which goes on saletodayover here @ 9am HK time) then you’ll also get the exclusive remote control for him.  Unlike the other RS figs, since I don’t have the original box to keep it in, I guess this one will stay on the shelf next to Atom, at least until a Hugh Jackman figure comes along that can hold it.

Of course, you’ll need batteries if you want to partake in all the fancy light antics Atom is laced with. He’s packing more lights than either Ambush or Midas. For the head, you’ll need two very tiny batteries.. AG1, I believe is the type. For his body you’ll need three AAA batteries.

Nada include’, amigos.

THE BREAKDOWN

Since first having the opportunity to play around with Ambush, I’ve been anticipating  how Atom would turn out. He was my favorite from the film (Noisy Boy being a close second). He’s not particularly flashy or pretty, but he’s the hero with a heart and has that sort of Eve from Wall-E glowing eyes thing that warms you up to him. ThreeA’s take on these Real Steel bots has been incredibly impressive since day one. Now with Atom in hand, it’s becoming apparent to me that with each release, they’re raising the ante ever so.

It’s interesting to see how ThreeA has been honing their technique in producing these RS bots. Each new bot seems to borrow from the last, but also adds a little something new. Atom has some larger bulky panels and cool moving gears on his arms that move a lot like Ambush’s did, but he’s also as articulated, if not more so, than Midas.

It makes me wonder if part of the reason ThreeA started things off with Ambush and Midas instead of jumping on Atom (by most regards, the star of the film) first was to build up their own experience and tech to tackle him. I imagine Noisy Boy will be even more advanced.

Atom has several features that immediately set him apart from the previous bots. His face is covered in a “real steel” mesh (whamp whamp), which reminds me a lot of a fencing mask. He also has a few spots of mesh detailing his upper legs.

Another specific feature of Atom is that he has an actual motorized fan (with accompanying lights) built into his body.

He’s the first Real Steel robot to have a motorized element. Popping the three AAA batteries in is a cinch and requires no screws. Just pop off the cover hidden on one side of his body, place the batteries and flip the switch on his other side and you’re in business. It’s a pretty cool effect, but like a lot of these type of things, I consider it more of a cool bonus than something that makes or breaks a toy.

Since I was playing with batteries, I went ahead and slapped the tiny ones into the back of his skull. These are a little tougher to get to as you pop off a cover and then need to unscrew two tiny screws to access the panel. Thankfully, once they’re in there, you have no reason to access the panel again, at least for awhile, as the switch to turn the lights on/off is located externally just below it.

While with Ambush and Midas I felt the eye-lights were basically a fun gimmick, I was really surprised at just how much Atom comes alive with his. I think in part the reason for that is the mesh mask that covers them, hiding his face. With the lights off, you can’t see them and he looks asleep. Atom’s glowing eyes actually add life, and a ton of character to this figure.

You can check out our wee video of the electronics in action below!

In terms of articulation, I’d say Atom falls somewhere between Ambush and Midas. Unlike Ambush and thanks to his generous shoulder joint(s), he can throw just about any type of punch you’d like him to. His hands go a small step forward from Midas, who had some articulation in his finger.. panels(?). Atom actually has three individually articulated fingers, which is of course, fun for the whole family.

Atom’s legs in particular have quite a few more points of articulation in them than either previous bot. They also look a lot more complex, which is cool. On the plus side, you can make Atom do just about whatever you want – a split, sit cross legged, nail high kicks while playing bass, etc – he’s a flexible fellah.

On the down side, all that extra articulation running through his legs and his relatively small-ish feet, coupled with his top heaviness, can make him occasionally tricky to balance. He’s still fun to pose, but he’s not nearly as easy to balance as Midas was. (Balancing him is a breeze.. check it here) As this is a prototype, ThreeA let me know that they are actually working on tightening some of the joints in question, to make this less of an issue.

Another trade off with Atom is that, due to the motor that runs the fan and body lights, he has very little torso articulation. His shoulders, arms and head swing side to side (clockwise/counterclockwise) a little bit, separate from his lower torso. For example, he could do a  lateral side stretch, but could not do any crunches. He swivels about 90 degrees left and right at his waist and his legs bend all the way to a sitting position. You can still get a bunch of poses out of him, but he’s a little stiff from the waist up.

Another positive worth noting is that there’s very few, if any, design elements on Atom that keep him from using his given articulation to its full potential. Ambush had overlapping plates throughout his torso that would sometimes interlock and collide when twisting him, along with over-sized (appropriately) shoulder and arm plates that inhibited any over-the-body arm motions. Midas had wires built into his waist and legs that hindered some of his otherwise impressive range of motion.

Atom is free to dance however he likes.

Atom has a very muted color palette. As I said before, he’s not particularly pretty. He’s a silver robot with a few copper accents. ThreeA did a nice job of making this dingy rust bucket look like believably beaten steel, but I still prefer Ambush’s color scheme and the application on him stills stands as one of my favorite ever from them. It’s a little tougher to appreciate the weathering, because the contrast between rusted silver paint and silver paint isn’t huge, but what Atom has here looks top notch. The finer weathering around his head and legs looks particularly believable.

Keeping in mind that this is an unfinished sample piece and could definitely change later, if I were to be nit-picky, and I think that’s what I’m here to do, I’d say that it’s a little odd that Atom’s chest plate logo is painted a solid clean red and lacks any of the rusty copper/green patina it has in the film. Also, if I recall the film correctly, towards the end, Atom’s logo gets an update which actually glows. It would have been really cool to see that element make it over to this guy since there’s already a box of electronics dancing around inside him.

Articulated butt discs.

Yup, he’s got ‘em. Two of them in fact, one for each cheek. I don’t know what they are for nor do I know if that’s what they’re officially called. All I know is that Atom isn’t afraid to use them. If anything can prove how well ThreeA has managed to match Dreamwork’s onscreen version of Atom, look no further than his big ol’ silver butt discs.

Did I mention they’re articulated? :)

FINAL WORD

It really is a bit of a marvel how well ThreeA is able to take these preexisting complex designs from Real Steel, dissect them down to the smallest bit, then rebuild them into functional, fully articulated toys.

IMG_6783

It seems like ThreeA pushes their toy making tech just a little bit further with each one of these more complex releases. You can really see that there is some progression from Ambush to Atom in the types of joints they used and various articulation systems at work. Where Ambush moved decently well, he felt a little clunky (completely acceptable given his size) and parts like his neck, didn’t turn as they should have. Then Midas came along and was so amazingly well balanced, it made Ambush look practically archaic by design. Now Atom is here, and despite some trade-off in torso articulation and balance, he seems even more poseable than Midas was.

Atom, of course, isn’t perfect, his biggest fault being his top heaviness. I definitely wish Atom were as light and easy to balance as Midas. If I was able to choose between having a running fan gimmick, or a more flexible (in the chest), lighter and therefore, more balanced figure, I’d forgo the fan all together. It’s cool and all, but at the end of the day, I’m more concerned with Atom standing up on my shelf than whether or not his fan is spinning.

So, Atom’s pre-sale over on Bambaland.com is coming up  very soon (as in Today! 9am Hong Kong time, includes exclusive remote and free world-wide shipping) the big question might be for some of you, “Should I get him?”

I really can’t answer that for you.

I’ll say this: If he interest you at all, you’re on the fence or are thinking you may want to pick him up at some point later, I’d say definitely go for it now. The remote isn’t a massive incentive (at least for me) but the free shipping from Bambaland is worth it’s weight (literally) in gold. These guys are big, so shipping won’t be cheap from 3rd party retailers. Plus, you’ll be more likely to get yours before others as it’ll come straight from the mouth of the beast.

Other than that little slice of advice, all I can do is share with you a little bit about my experience with him, include what I think is cool or not and let the dust settle as it may.

I’ll say that the same thing can be said here as it was with the other Real Steel bots: if you hated the film and wish there was a way to erase its existence from your mind-grapes.. Atom isn’t going to change your mind about that. But as a collectible toy, Atom is a really rad, very well made robot.

Of the three Real Steel releases so far, Atom is definitely my favorite. So if you were to get only one.. well, you know what my vote would be.

PROS:

  • Very nicely detailed, and in places like his feet, to a fantastic level
  • Mad articulated, ups the ante
  • Love his friendly glowing eyes, adds a ton of character
  • The best Real Steel bot so far
  • Articulated Butt Discs ™

CONS:

  • Top heaviness due to fan motor/battery compartment can make him occasionally tricky to balance

..

A massive thanks (and hugs) to ThreeA for getting this guy out to us! We enjoyed the heck out of it! 

Also thanks to my wonderful and beautimus wife for taking time out of her day to snap several of these fantasmic photos, Muah!

~ knives

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*Review* Damtoys – Spade J

INTRO

I had never heard of Damtoys until a few months ago when I was perusing loose 1/6 figure parts on an online retailer’s site. Their name kept popping up as I rummaged through pages of random, realistic military clothing and weapons. I didn’t buy anything, but I remember thinking, “Man, this stuff looks really good… the people behind this know what their doing.”

Skip ahead to some random blog post I happened upon showcasing this figure that looked a HECK of a lot like the brit movie tough guy, Jason Statham, only crazy exaggerated and equally as awesome. The promo shots looked fantastic and this.. “Spade J” looked every bit as BA as his celebrity twin. As a 3S character artist, I’ve always been drawn to exaggerated, hard edged, sculpted features on characters in cartoons and on action figures.

There was that name again, “Damtoys”. I thought back to the military stuff of theirs I had looked through a few months back and googled their name to see if there were any other figures in this “Gangsters Kingdom” series. Nope. Just lots of highly realistic military figures.. and Spade all by his lonesome. I admit I was a little nervous preordering him since I’d never dealt with this company before and as cool as lone wolf sounds, it can look a little odd on the shelf in a reasonably organized collection. Sure, the promo’s looked slick.. but that’s marketing for you and expected. Plus there’s been a few toy lines in the past who’s QC and final execution of the figure was less than stellar.

I decided to take a chance on him anyway and dusted off my credit card. Now, a mere four months later, Spade J is here. Lets see how he did.

PACKAGING

This is some nice packaging. The box is a fairly heavy corrugate and the printed graphics are rich in color and crisp. Small touches like the silk pull to release the inner box is nice. Damtoys also included a single, little poker card with Spade’s likeness on it. Not sure of it’s usefulness, but it’s a cool garnish.

On the back is an illustration of some slicked hair, fat fellah who looks like he’s about to get an extra air flow option in his neck area, compliments our friend, Spade. The inclusion of that was enough to make me really hope they flesh out the Gangsters Kingdom world with more exaggerated and interesting characters.

WHAT’S INCLUDED

Spade comes with no shortage of accessories. Two pistols with removable and extra clips, a silencer, a switchblade, a real metal necklace/chain, driving cap, ankle holster, a (amaze’n!) should bag, and if you want to count it, a sweet leather jacket. He also comes with an extra “rude” hand.. making that all familiar gesture anyone who’s driven in LA, Atlanta or anywhere in Jersey traffic will immediately recognize.

THE BREAKDOWN

As I unwrapped Spade from his stylish box prison, I was immediately impressed. First thing you see is Spade’s ugly mug, dapper leather jacket and croc-skin boots. I couldn’t help myself from smiling, leaning over to my wife (who sat nearby uninterested in my proceedings) and saying, “Just.. LOOK.. at this guy!”

She glanced over and feigned a half-hearted, “Cool.” and went immediately back to pinterest.

Hmph. I would not let her dismissive response damage my enthusiasm. I quickly popped the next layer of packaging out of the way and started to dig out his many accessories. The first thing I grabbed was Spade’s shoulder bag. Now when I showed that to my wife she actually paused.. took it out of my hand and said, “Wow, this is really nice looking.. really well done.. look at the faux leather accents!”

Or something to that degree. In any case, I was now speaking her language. I let her play with the shoulder bag while I messed around with Spade’s two hand guns.

It’s pretty darn cool that you can actually chamber a round (no bullets of course) and take the clips in and out. The smaller, ankle pistol has a silencer that sticks into the barrel of it, giving it some much needed size.

The leather jacket Spade sports is one of the nicest looking coat accessories I’ve seen on an action figure. It fits perfectly on him with working zippers and pockets. There’s a logo/brand on the back of it to let you know Spade’s a bad-ass.

The driver cap was one of the things I was most excited about with this figure. That may sound silly, but I’ve been wearing them since I was a kid as my dad always wore them. I think I’ve had more driving caps than baseball caps growing up. All the promo pics of the hat show that, for ONCE, someone got the fit right. I’ve seen other action figures that come with these hats and they look ridiculous..and just scream “DOLL! YOU”RE PLAYING WITH A DOLL!”

Well, the final result for Spade is a little bit of a mixed bag. The hat doesn’t seem to fit quite as nice as it did from the promo’s, but with a little finagling, you can get it looking pretty respectable.

I almost lost the switchblade immediately after opening the box. It’s TINY… minuscule. It “looks” cool enough, but it doesn’t fold up or anything which is a little surprising given the action you get out of the pistols.

Back to Spade J’s sculpt. I love the face sculpt.. yes, it’s basically an exaggerated Jason Statham but it works amazingly well here and looks great. Not only is the sculpt great, the paint and detail work on it is very realistic.. tiny moles and freckles as well as a copious amount of man-stubble round out an already quality sculpt. The hands continue that quality with their bulky, blocky form and realistic flesh tone.

Spade’s boots are croc-skin because.. what else would this guy be caught dead in? They work great here and are pretty remarkable at keeping him balanced in all sorts of poses. I will warn you though, don’t try and pop the feet off as there is no friendly little pop in-and-out peg in there like you may be accustom to with other figures. It’s meant to stay on and does not like to go back to it’s home if you remove it. I learned this from experience, dude.

To get his jacket off, you have to remove the hands. On some figures this isn’t that big of a deal as the pegs are short and stout enough to handle a bit of pressure. Dam Toy’s wrist pegs are long thin things that I fear would snap if even the slightest ill-advised pressure was given. I managed to get them off and back on again without anything snapping.. just know that if you choose to follow suit, take it easy and slow.

So with his jacket off, Spade looks a little.. wonky. His neck is a mile long and his body looks oddly malnourished compared to the rest of his tough exterior. Pulling the t-shirt neckline up some, helps hide the awkward appearance a bit.. but he’s miles better looking with the jacket on.

So what happens with the shirt off? Yikes! OK, so the tattoo details are pretty cool to see.. but the skin tone of the body is way off from the more tanned tone of his face (which, I guess isn’t entirely unrealistic if you never go outside with your shirt off). Also, that malnourished look is even more apparent here. The biggest issue I have with the shirtless look, is the design of the body. I’ve never seen a 1/6 body like this. The shoulder joints are basically giant rotating pegs. The good side of that is they allow for quite a good bit of unrestricted movement.  The bad is that it makes him look pretty bad with all that exposed goings-on. It’s like lifting the curtain and seeing all the gears working on the “It’s a Small World” ride.. loses all it’s magic.

OK, everything back on! After seeing what lies beneath, I have no reason to ever remove Spade’s shirt and jacket again. He looks too great with them on and way too weird without. Plus those wrist joints are NOT to be trusted and you have no spare ones to fall back on if you misstep. I’ll let you you use your best judgement.

So all geared up, Spade is perfect right? Well.. no. Sadly, the weapons he comes with are all pint sized. The larger of the two pistols almost works with his scale as a small gun.. but the other just looks silly in his hands. Like he’s holding a child’s water gun. The switchblade, adorned with tiny blood flecks isn’t made for Spade at all. Literally, his hands cannot hold it. I “tricked” the camera for some of these photos by having it lay in his hand (thanks gravity) and angling the shot to hide the gap. It’s like they had some extra loose tiny knives laying around at the factory and thought they’d toss them in. It’s a little odd since the art on the back of the box would suggest that the blade is pretty significant weapon to Spade.

The same feeling that “this must have been an afterthought” goes for the ankle holster as well. I challenge you get the ankle holster on, shove the pistol in there and pull his pant leg down over it. Oh, it can be done with a lot of effort.. but the result isn’t graceful or in anyway “concealed”. It basically adds massive bulk to the side of his leg. Either the pant legs are too tight or his legs are too big for it to fit naturally.  It’s a massive pain to pull off and when you do you realize, “Man, they really didn’t think this part through did they?”

The last thing of concern is the hat. I love the way it looks and honestly think Spade looks best with it covering his dome. The problem is that some people have reported that the stain used to color the hat will eventually stain his head if left on. What? Why is that a thing? People have recommended making a paper/cloth sleeve or liner to put inside of the hat so this doesn’t happen. Honestly, that’s just something we shouldn’t have to worry about.

In the end, I shoved all the extra stuff I’ll never use, the small gun, ankle holster, switchblade, and sadly.. the driver’s cap.. into Spade’s shoulder bag. He’s standing on my shelf in a neutral pose, bag slung over his shoulder and pistol in his hand. I tend to keep my figures in neutral poses more for sustained balance than anything else. That being said, Spade poses up very well and is a fun figure to play around with. Thanks to his wonky looking, but very forgiving shoulder joints it’s easy to pull all sorts of bad-assery out of him even with just the one gun and his steely gaze. He’s very cool that way.

THE FINAL WORD

Spade looks fantastic and his articulation is just as good as just about any other 1/6 figure I’ve experienced. His build feels pretty solid, though his wrist pegs did appear delicate. The bag and jacket he comes with are some of them most nicely crafted accessories I’ve seen on a figure.  The head-sculpt is spot-on and flawless.. and the cheeky extra hand adds a bit of edgy comedy to the character.

While he doesn’t look so amazing showing off his tats, you’re likely to never display him that way so I consider the tattoo elements as sort of a throw-away extra… they’re there if you want them, but no harm done if you don’t.

My single, but fairly significant complaint with Spade is something I can extend to ALL the toys I buy/collect:

When a toy comes with accessories, I expect that toy to be able to USE them without altering the toy or accessory in any way. Otherwise it’s just snake oil.

If I was you, I’d toss the unusable bits in his shoulder bag or leave them in the box and find him a nice quality toy assault rifle, knife and hand gun on the secondary market. That’s what I’m going to do. He’s just too cool of a figure to leave with mediocre equipment!

Whether you have or are looking to purchase Spade J, I think you’ll be getting a pretty good value for what you’re getting, even with some of the accessories lacking luster. When I bought him, I got him for under $100 shipped, that’s an incredibly reasonable price any way you slice it. The unique, dramatic head-sculpt and core character elements are exciting and really stand out. I, for one, am really looking forward to seeing what Damtoys does next in Gangsters Kingdom

PROS:

  • A fantastic head-sculpt just oozes character (even if that character is Jason Statham)
  • The leather jacket and shoulder bag is so well sewn and detailed it had my wife gasping
  • Great articulation throughout
  • A ton of extra accessories
  • Overall he’s a very fun figure that looks great on display

CONS:

  • The small pistol is just silly small
  • The ankle holster is basically worthless
  • The switchblade IS useless
  • Dude, keep your shirt on

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