*Review* 3AA Membership pack/F-Legion

INTRO

And so it came to pass that in the latter months of 2011, a membership was purchased. This membership offered a prayer of discounted toys and exclusive releases. Verily, as 2012 wore on, the faithful grew restless and sore afraid that their membership might naught appear before year end or worse, 2013.

Hark brethren! I bring good tidings of great joy! The 3AA Membership has arrived and heralds with it a mighty host of geeky goodies!

PACKAGING

What is this packaging you speak of? Essentially, the 3AA pack IS the packaging. It shows up in your standard issue 3A brown box, but inside there’s no artwork, no real “packaging” at all. Just the messenger bag wrapped in plastic with everything else stuffed inside.

WHAT’S INCLUDED

The first and most important item included with the 3AA pack, isn’t an item at all but the 15% discount you get on each and every purchase you make at bambaland. If you’re a member for 2012 (and have had any interest in the drops thus far) you’ve been enjoying that as well as a sprinkle of 3AA exclusives for about six months now.

The excess includes a messenger/laptop bag, baseball cap, membership card and 3AA’s first 1/6 offering, F-Legion.

THE BREAKDOWN

I’m going to start with the “extras” before I talk about F-Legion. For some, all this stuff is “extra” and the membership is all about the year long 15% discount and the 3AA exclusives you have access to. For me, it’s about the discount/exclusives AND the included 3AA figure. The rest of this stuff is the extra sauce that some will savor, some will spit out. The laptop bag surprised me. I’d heard many a negative rumble about it weeks before I’d even gotten mine in so I had very low expectations. I heard everything from it being “too small” to “cheaply made” to simply being “crap”.

Maybe I’m alone, but I like it. Don’t shoot me.

I’ll just address the three common complaints directly. Too small? Really? What the heck are you carting around crazy people? I can easily fit my wife’s larger, clunkier, older 15 inch macbook pro and it’s charger. I’ve also put in there a Wacom tablet, standard sketchbook, an iPad, a couple of backup drives and some light reading material. Even with a Zomb tossed in, I still have room for extra chargers and a PSP or Vita if I felt so inclined. All you peeps with 17′ plus laptops need not apply.. but come on, “too small”? I simply can’t agree with that.

“Cheaply made”. I’m no laptop bag connoisseur, but I’ve had my share of good and bad bags. Currently I have a really lovely hand made leather bag that will only fit the bare essentials as well as a tried and true (though currently at the forefront of falling apart) booq bag I got a few years back. The 3AA bag isn’t made of kevlar, but it seems to be of the normal kind of quality that you’d find on low to mid range bags at your local Best Buy. There’s large clips on straps and velcro inside to safely secure your laptop as well as a few extra zipper pockets to hide your stuff. The 3AA logo adorns the inside of the flap which some will dig if you’re down with the font choice. I think it looks nice enough. Two faux iron on patches decorate the front flap. Both make stabs at accurately portraying Mr Woods sketchy art style and do so well enough. However, you might shield your children and grandmother’s eyes if you fear they’ll be shocked by what looks like an eight year old’s rendition of a topless buxom babe.

So yeah! I think the bag’s cool. Useful even! I’ll probably even carry it around SDCC this year since my booq is failing me.

Le’ hat on the other hand…

It’s not that the cap is all that terrible or anything, it’s just that it strongly favors those with tiny heads. It’s fitted (not elastic) so there’s zero wiggle room. It will either fit you or it won’t. Most likely it won’t.
I haven’t sported a ball cap in years. It’s just not my jam/style. So even if it fitted me perfectly, it’d wind up in the back of the closet collecting dust.
I suggest you just give it to your kid or the neighbor’s and call it.

Honestly, this is what I’d consider the most useless piece of the whole kit: the membership card. It is cool that it has some nice Ash artwork on the front as well as your name and member number pressed into it. I guess there’s a sense of “now it’s official” but the actual real world usefulness is nil since you’ve already been experiencing the benefits of being a 3AA member for the past 6 months without it. For those that trip out over getting theirs year after year, I can only assume it’s a little like slowly building a collection of annually released baseball cards. Next year you’ll have 5!

Now we come to the meat and potatoes of the pack, F-Legion. The name for our friendly neighborhood 3AA fig comes from a rather sorted past. Some say it was A. Wood’s response to “haters” on other forums, people questioning his work ethic, personality or quality of his toy line. Others have said that it came from a misunderstanding concerning a Facebook based ThreeA BST page, where Wood thought his newly dropped toys were being bought and flipped for 3 times their original price. Many have taken some small amount of offense to it, believing that it’s essentially an “F you!” to the opinionated and dedicated fans who helped make Wood the success story he is. On the other hand, it could just be an obscure unrelated nod to the ever growing “3A Legion”.

I don’t know what to believe nor do I really care. F-Legion is here regardless of the why or the inspiration behind his existence. And as it turns out, he’s actually an alright dude.

When you first open F-L up, he’s zipped up head to toe with a hoody and balaclava on. From the initial preview pics I was really excited for the balaclava simply because it looked sorta Batman or Casey Jones cool. A crime fighter in a street thug mask. I dug it. The execution of it is terrible though. The eyeholes don’t line up at all and the zipper forms some sort of odd mohawk like shape over his dome.

To top it off, it’s sewn to his jacket. So whether you have F-Legion dawning it or not, you’re stuck with it. It’s a pretty odd/lame move on 3A’s part. In it’s own way it’s still an alright accessory. Pose him with his jacket hood up and over it looks appropriately menacing as long as you don’t’ pay too much attention to the uneven eye holes. Have him zipping it up or down looks pretty cool as well. So there’s stuff you can do with it though worn as intended just looks silly.

You can tuck it up under the hood of the jacket or even roll it back and down behind his back with a little work. That way it’ll become quickly out of sight and kinda out of mind. Just be careful with it. Mine started to fray and come apart at the seams immediately. Literally. It’s cheap, ie poorly made.

We don’t need no stupid odd shaped balaclava anyhoo, F-Legion’s face sculpt is awesome! I absolutely love the menacing little dot eyes and the simple, carved robotic grooves that run down the sides of his head. The tight lipped overbite and clenched jaw make him look like he’s all business, ready to kick some serious Zomb butt. The dark hue of his robo-skin looks really nice too. There’s just the right amount of weathering to give you the sense that you’re looking at something made of metal.

Of course by being robot in origin, F-Legion also is the beneficiary of the same fantastically fun hands that have been a part of 3A toys since almost the beginning. Much like the super sweet/superior Jungle Vet (review here) before him, the amount of character the articulated fingers give F-Legion is difficult to measure. I just put a bunch of gold star stickers all over the place to show support!

Moving on to what covers his would-be naked robo-butt. My man has a newly fashioned jacket with an afore mentioned hoody (and by proxy, annoyingly attached baklava). I really like the way it looks. For some reason it reminds me of a dock worker or something someone working on a ship would wear, so we took a bunch of these pictures on the docks.Where the real intrigue and “hmmmm”s come in for me, is that when the thing is all zipped up F-Legion looks a lot like Bamba-lad, an Ashley Wood character that’s been around as long as I can remember. Bambas have been released since year one from 3A but none have been (very) articulated and that’s something a lot of us have been pining for.

pic credit: ThreeA

In short, the whole deal makes me wonder if Ash/3A have a fully articulated version of the character in the works at some level. It’s all blind speculation, but here’s to hoping! At the very least I can bet we’ll see some talented customizers give the idea a spin.


So the jacket looks rad, but the zipper on it sucks. Much like you’re stuck with the annoyingly sewn in baklava, you also can’t unzip the jacket all the way. Well, you can, just know that if you do, it’s no easy task to rezip. 3A, in their infinite wisdom didn’t include the crucial little part that keeps the zipper from going off the end of it’s track. Heed my words, “DON’T UNZIP THE JACKET ALL THE WAY!”

Another problem with the jacket is the massive pieces of stiff velcro flaps that jut out the sides of his collar. Aesthetically they look terrible. One side has a cloth covering so it looks fairly natural, but the other side is just a big rectangle of velcro. I wish 3A had just used a little snap or something instead because much like a pair of Walmart khakis, obvious velcro just cheapens anything it touches. I tuck the velcro side in for display which helps a little.

As you can see, FL doesn’t have a the obligatory 3A tee that most figures have under their jackets, boilers or hoodies. Instead you get a bare chested decal, ala superman insignia. It works alright with this particular figure because why would a humanoid robot need anything more than the most basic articles of clothing to blend in with everyone else? Still, combine the fact that the jacket isn’t made to be unzipped all the way or taken off with the total lack of an under shirt and it becomes pretty easy to see that the entire figure is the result of character design carefully balanced with cost cutting.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing by the by, it’s just the reality of it.

A cool feature of F’s jacket is the built in holster loops on his back for holding his zomb brain busting baseball bat. I’m not sure how practical it is or even how he’d actually access it, but it sure looks cool.

At first, F-Legion’s jeans were the best we’d ever seen from 3A! They’re fitted enough to look modern, yet loose enough to allow for a ton of movement.  The wear on them looks really believable as well. Things stay pretty sexy right up until you lift F’s jacket and reveal that these things are actually TJ Max mom-jeans in disguise. Who’d-a-thought a BA robot like F-Legion shopped at discount women’s clothing stores.

Keep the jacket DOWN and we’re back to being cool.

The new kicks F-L comes with are super nice! While other Adventure Kartel figs sport chuck tailors or doc martins, F-L gets a pair of vans-esque foot gear. It’s always cool to see some more variety come to 3A’s figures. The detail and sculpt of the shoes are really nice! Also for what I believe is the first time ever, 3A actually painted the laces separately from the rest of the shoe.

F-Legion comes with a baseball bat to contribute to all things Zomb bashing related. It’s yet another brand spanking new piece of kit you get with your 3AA exclusive figure.

While It’s definitely a cool accessory for your zomb thwacking army to have, I wish I liked the actual piece as much as I did the idea behind it. The bat “works” for the most part as it looks like a bat, albeit a rather chubby one and F-Legion looks cool swinging it around.

The part that bugs me is that it’s not nearly as refined as it could be. It’s basically a tan piece of plastic with some quick weathering dabbed on. There’s an incredibly visible seam that runs the length of it which makes the whole joint scream “whiffle bat”. If they’d put just a little extra work into it and added some grip tape or possibly a decal, it would have made a world of difference.

Before you go calling me a “stickler “or something that means “unnecessarily picky”, please know that I’ve been slightly spoiled by the fantastic custom work of my buddy Simon (aka. Goatbot) who’s fantastic custom 3A bats have been rocking the scene for several years now. Check his workshop tutorial here if you missed it. He made this bat for me and named it after my wife, which I thought was a fancy touch. It may be cleaner than F-Legion’s, but it’s much more accurately tooled and a heck of a lot bloodier! At the very least his custom piece has shown me that it all comes down to character and while good enough for government work, F’s bat lacks it completely.

The new slim body has been pretty popular of late. The RVHK Tomorrow Kings (review here) and Rothchild (review here) both use it and F-Legion is no different. There’s not a ton to say further about it other than you get to enjoy a very wide range of articulation thanks to it and F’s forgiving attire. It works well with the figure.

FINAL WORD

So there it is, the 2012 3AA membership pack. All laid out in exhaustive detail. It would have been awesome if we had gotten this thing a little earlier in 2012 but I try to think of it as a mid year reward for patience pack. The past two years that I’ve been a 3AA member have been incredibly worth it. The amount of monies the discount has saved me on purchases easily paid for itself. These extras are about the only thing I feel warrant a debate of value at all. The opinion of the computer bag is split. I found it to be “useful” as it fits all my stuff just fine. Others, whom I can only assume are made up of people who mistakenly consider a 17 + inch, water cooled laptop “portable”, have called the bag “too small” and “complete trash”. To each their own. The ball cap falls in the same ball park, if you’ll excuse the pun. I wouldn’t wear it regardless of if it fit my large-ish noggin or not. It’s just not my style. Others might have really enjoyed adding another wearable brim to their entourage.

Regardless of which side of the fence you fall on or how much better you wish they were, let’s be honest, they’re not WHY you bought the membership.

F-Legion is incredibly close to being a classic 3A figure. He hits a ton of the right notes but misses the mark completely on so many others. Like something that’s only beautiful from afar. I ended up really liking him, but only when I didn’t look at him too close..

You’re stuck with the bakaclava since it’s sewn in. You certainly don’t want to unzip the jacket all the way unless you want to struggle for a stupid amount of time rezipping it. By minding that precaution, you’re stuck with the jacket as well. Even if you didn’t care about the jacket ever zipping up again, to tear it off would mean to expose the terrible mom jean tops which F-Legion tries to hide as any decent person who conceals that kind of shame.

As I played around with F-Legion I started to feel like I had to experience the figure as Ashley Wood or 3A intended me to experience the figure instead of how I’d preferred to. It’s a strange thing to say about a toy, particularly one you can move around and change so much, but . Could artistic design which attempts to force user perspective truly be at work here?

Maybe it’s not that grand. Maybe it’s just easier and cheaper to make a toy without fully functioning zippers, weird mom jeans and sewn in partially realized crappy masks. Maybe it’s as simple as that.

Maybe.

F-Legion is a mix of a little old, but mostly new. A blend of a few finely crafted pieces and a couple of half-assed shoddily spit up bits. Like a 4 cylinder engine in a corvette. It’s still cool looking, light and peppy, but there’s so much “why would they do that?” going on it’s impossible to love.

Pros:

  • The new head sculpt is SICK!
  • Once again we get awesome robot hands
  • His overall design works really well
  • Awesome new shoes
  • The jacket is MOSTLY a good thing
  • The jeans MOSTLY rock
  • Another unique and fun Adventure Kartel figure

Cons:

  • The bakaclava is terrible. Mismatched eyeholes and cheaply sewn
  • It’s also sewn to the jacket, which knocks the jackets cool factor down a couple slots
  • The jackets non fully functioning zipper
  • ugh, mom jean tops
  • baseball bat could have been better
 

Help us improve this site by letting us know what you think! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay updated on all the latest reviews, previews and toy news!

/

/

/

/

/

/

/

/

*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?

Help us improve this site by letting us know what you think! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay updated on all the latest reviews, previews and toy news!

/

/

/

/

/

/

/

/

*REVIEW* 3A JUNGLE VET

INTRO

It”s been ages, but finally the dreary dull period of nothingness has come to a sharp and abrupt end. Today, the long cold chain of having exactly zero boxes labeled “3A” sitting at my doorstep has finally been broken. Jungle Vet from 3A’s retail assortment of Adventure Kartel toys has arrived.

Purchasing the full retail run of these guys would be a great start to just about anyone’s 3A collection, however Rad Toy Review was only able to snag one. We’ve been holding our breath since then in hopes our choice was indeed a wise one.

Early opinions from other collectors seemed extremely polarizing as well as fairly consistent. Of the the AK gang, the overwhelmingly positive praise seems predominantly aimed towards Jungle Vet (whew!) and Pneumbra. The lukewarm, comfy room temperature praise to Tommy Red, Lil Shadow and Johnson. While an apparent and almost unanimous negative panning has marred the arrival of the otherwise beloved Hooded Zombs.

Alas, this is NOT a review about Zombs or anything else other than Jungle Vet. So lets get to that.

First let me say that the photos that accompany this review were taken on the first official RtR “field trip”. A field trip to Pearl Harbor. While it’s not the jungle, the seemingly military background of JV lent itself to what we hoped would be an fun and interesting shoot.

It turned out to be both those things as well as a little… surprising.

PACKAGING

Ed’s note: My Jungle Vet came from Sideshow Collectibles in a brown Sideshow shipping box. The JV box itself was not shrink wrapped.  Don’t be alarmed if your’s shows up the same way as apparently that’s how most of these were shipped out from 3A. It’s normal.

Much like the retail release figure’s afore mentioned opinion polarization, the packaging for them shares the same mark. Unlike the epic paintings that usually grace 3A boxes, we’re left with a simple graphic depicting Jungle Vet. Astute observers might notice that all 3A did was take the initial preview photos of the various AK figures and then toss some vector artwork over it. I think it fits pretty well with this line. It’s lends itself to animation, it’s playful, clean and gets the job done. I’m cool with a little variety in my boxes, but I also know for a fact there are those who feel a little shortchanged with the lack of a true Ashley Wood painting.

On the back you get a little preview of the rest of the collection you can hunt down at your favorite retailer (providing they sell 3A toys) and the Adventure Kartel slogan, “The Adventure continues with you!”

WHAT’S INCLUDED

The Adventure Kartel series proper has always come with a poster with a comic on the back giving us a tiny slice of the AK story. Sadly, the retail gang did not get the same treatment. Tis a small thing, but given Adventure Kartel’s track record for including one, I feel the absence is note worthy. It’s also little odd to me because paying retail for these figures is a good deal more expensive than what a similar offering that included posters in the past go for on 3A’s own Bambaland website.

So what do you get? Well, really what you paid for. Jungle Vet himself sporting a gaggle of bags and his (or rather Bleak’s) trusty side arm.

THE BREAKDOWN

As mentioned above, for this shoot we decided to take Jungle Vet to Pearl Harbor and see what sort of trouble he could get into. A grown man with a group of camera wielding ladies carrying a doll (cough* action figure!) around a historical site which also happens to be a functioning military base, garners more than the occasional stare and sideways glance.

Pearl Harbor has some pretty strict rules about what you are allowed to bring in with you. Bags of any kind are on the list.  So how does one smuggle a 1:6 scale action figure into such a locked down establishment?

Like so. Shhhhhh…

So we waltz into the memorial and then take a bus over to the Battleship Missouri Memorial. For those that don’t know, it’s a massive battleship, the last one built by the United States. She was used heavily during World War II and provided fire support during Desert Storm back in ’91. She’s a beauty and a beast.

Once we got on deck and I started to play around with JV, the first thing I notice is probably the first thing you’ll notice. His hands rock! They’re so much fun to pose. The fingers are firm but not tight and I didn’t once worry about any of them snapping off. I know, I know.. they’re basically ripped off an 1:12 armstrong and shoved onto an Ankou body, but fun is fun I say.

I also love the fact that the hands are different colors. It’s as though Ol’ Jungle Vet has seen a few scraps in his time and has required some maintenance over the years. I’ve always had a soft spot for robots that look hobbled together from various tossed away bits. I’m not sure if an Ankou is 100% robot or a man-bot.. or whatever.. but the fond leaning remains.

The paint and weathering on JV are nicely done. His dome is overly rusty with pops of crusty blue paint peaking through. The yellow ring around his eye ties in nicely with his left yellow hand. His right red fist has three black fingers further supporting the “hobbled” together patch work he might have had while on the battlefield.

I’m definitely a fan of the new hooded boiler suit as it just about doubles the different looks you can go for when setting him up on your shelf. The hood itself has an underwire around the brim so you can shape it some, though the suit rests fairly high overall and despite my efforts he always seemed to wind up with one form or another of pointy hat syndrome.

The camouflage on his boiler is the best 3A have done so far. Unlike the more hand painted flecks that appear on Jung De Plume, Pathfinder Ono Oya or the Jungle Grunt, Jungle Vet’s seems to be an actual camo pattern that’s simply part of the fabric. Across JV’s chest is two white “v” marks that call back to military badges and symbolism. The weathering for the boiler suit is what we’ve all seen before, faded and mostly dusty with a few heavier stained touches here and there.

Of course underneath it all is a standard issue white 3A shirt. I understand branding is important, but I really would like to understand how everyone from all walks of 3A toy life has managed to score one of these Ts. Are they the GAP of 3A land? Also, if all the toys have them, why can’t we? Where’s our 3A logo T-shirts? Anyway, it’s there in case you need it, but I preferred  the look of keeping his suit zipped.

Again, the hands are just so much fun. I never really warmed to the original Ankou. I’ve had several in the past and have long since sold or traded them off. The mono eye is cool/funny, but I found the clamps too be somewhat restrictive to the character overall. I had a few laughs displaying my old creepy grinning Ankou using his clamps to try and lift Cherry Shadow’s skirt.. but beyond that I never really found a use for them that resonated with me. Others may have had much greater success and wouldn’t trade off their old Ankous for anything but take my word on it.

Jungle Vet is waaaay better than they are.

Jungle Vet as character feels more sneaky than dangerous. There’s something goofy about the Ankou design that keeps you from taking one seriously. I really like that about them. JV continues the feeling of playfulness and in fact might enhance it with the added (and personally much applauded) digits.

So yes, the hands are awesome and the gun JV comes with is awesome. Unfortunately for us, they weren’t made for each other and that’s less than awesome. JV’s gun is originally from Bleak Mission who’s hands are sculpted to fit the hand cannon. Despite JV’s awesome dexterous digits, he’s not as fortunate. He can hold the weapon, but he can’t fire it. As is often times the case when things are retrofitted after the fact.. they don’t technically work together.

Jungle V’s fingers are simply too fat for the trigger gaurd, or the trigger gaurd is too small for Jungle V’s fingers. It’s a small thing but it does add a little more fuel to my one criticism of Jungle Vet and that is the fact that he’s basically the result of company level kit bashing.

Even if you take into consideration the added hood on the boiler suit, there’s really nothing “new” about him.  The body is the same old 3A body, the head and boots are from an Ankou, the boiler suit is from Zombs, and his hands are from either a 1:12th Armstrong or a Bramble. The bags and t-shirt are from countless other 3A figs and the gun is from Bleak.

I can’t decide if the fact that so many existing parts were used to build this guy should bother me, or if I should just marvel at how well it all works together.. AGAIN to create a seemingly unique new figure to play with.

This is about the part of the photo shoot where we were interrupted.. or rather, we interrupt others. As we move down the deck of the Missouri, we suddenly and unexpectedly ran into..

Rihanna. “Heyaaah.”

Without thinking it through I waved at her with a toy in my hand. She politely smiled and waved back.

It turns out, the day we chose to do our photoshoot also happen to be the day that some of the stars of the movie “Battleship” would be aboard to do some interviews and DVD extra’s shooting. We continued our own shoot and made a quick pit stop by where they were setting up to film to see what we could see.

As they walked pass, I don’t think anyone “got” why a grown man was holding a toy, posing and taking pictures of it. I can’t blame them.

Taylor Kitsch didn’t get it.

Brooklyn Decker gave us the stink eye…

Alexander Skarsgard kept looking over at as with an almost visible “?” above his head.

(editors note: Alex turns out to be a really nice guy. He came over later, shook our hands and took some pictures. I should have had him hold Jungle Vet for one.. but that’d been a little “Dance monkey! Dance!” I think.)

Anyway.. back to the review.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Jungle Vet is a bunch of different bits and pieces of 3A toys cobbled together and sold to us like something brand new. I’d call it snake oil if it didn’t work so totally well together. 3A is already known for putting out high quality, dynamic and highly articulated toys. What we have here is one of the best elements of the WWRp line of bots combined with the flexibility and articulation of the 1:6 human figure line. You’ll be able to squeeze more poses and gestures out of JV than any other figure currently in your collection. That in itself, makes him feel all new. Yes, his gun SHOULD have fit his hand. Though honestly, this is something I’ve learned to accept from 3A. My WWRp Warbots fingers can’t fit his guns and they were MADE for each other. Blind Cowboy’s hands are sculpted to fit his yet they’re a tad big and his grip is a little fickle. I’m not sure why this is, but for whatever reason, 3A’s “gun to fit hand perfectly” ratio is just not very good. Yet I can almost promise you it won’t detract from your enjoyment of this guy.

I enjoyed taking Jungle Vet to the Pearl Harbor memorial and posing him in various locations while snapping pictures like a fiend in front of various tourist and sailors. Despite wagging him raggedly like a goon at Rihanna as she walked by I think the shoot went really well and may be our best yet!

Opinions may be scattered on the quality of the Retail Adventure Kartel collection. Some  have said it’s left a bad taste in their mouth and are even questioning whether or not they’ll continue to collect 3A. (Suuuure.. ) But I can assure you that Jungle Vet will live up and perhaps even surpass your expectations. It’s the most fun I’ve had with a toy this year hands down. Seek him out, try not to pay the flipper price and add him to your collection. Should you buy? Yes!

Pros:

  • The hands make the man/machine. Adds a ton to your poses and to his overall character.
  • The paint and weathering is up to snuff and sure to please.
  • New camouflage is better quality than in the past. Looks to be an ACTUAL pattern instead of a haphazardly painted one.
  • My favorite take away from the original Ankou the googley eye, is still fun to play with and good for a laugh
  • He’s a near perfect 3A kitbash

Cons:

  • He’s a near perfect 3A kitbash
  • Boxart might turn purist off
  • Unlike bambaland released Adventure Kartel Figures, no poster or extras are included with the retail released AK

Yeah.. Rihanna didn’t get it either..

Help us improve this site by letting us know what you think! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay updated!

*REVIEW* 3A Square Bomb

Today is a special day for me because today my wife has taken over and written her first toy review! Not only did she do the write-up, but she shot all the photos as well. I’ll add a few of my own thoughts here and there as well to spice things up, but the majority of the following is all her!

Also at the end of this review is Rad Toy Review’s very first unboxing YouTube video! We’re still working out the kinks but it’s a good start and we’re excited to see where it takes us!

– Knives

INTRO

Hi all! Knives’ wife (sometimes called The Red Lady) here. I didn’t think it was possible for toys to take over any more of husband’s life until this website came along. To my chagrin, it immediately proved my theory wrong. I mean, really, who writes over 4,000 words about a toy? I don’t think he ever even wrote that much for school assignments! I feel if I have any hope of spending time with him ever again, I’m going to have to get involved with this toy business occasionally. So here I am! He’s asked me to share my perspective for this review, as a non-collector and “outsider” of sorts. While I won’t pretend to understand his relentless drive to collect toys and subsequent obsession with them, as a creative type, I do think some look pretty cool, so I’ll do my best to be fair and not let my personal feelings of abandonment color my words 😉 On to Mr. Square Bomb!

PACKAGING

The box he comes in is…well, it’s a box. Garden variety corrugated cardboard, white on the outside, brown on the inside. Other than the (comparatively rather large) threeA logo, the artwork is all black, white and orange. It’s simple, but kind of a neat look. I don’t really get the word bubble on the side, though. I guess it’s supposed to be what the square thinks, but it’s way too serious to come out of that goofy face.

K – The only thing I’d like to add about the packaging is actually about the brown shipping box it comes in. On the side clearly reads the words “SQUARE BOMB”. Yes, 3A has sent us all bombs in the mail. Prominently labeled as such. I wonder how many (if any) of these were held up in customs because of it. 

WHAT’S INCLUDED

Just the toy. Unless you’re super creative, and then I guess you could maybe do something with the plastic shell pieces?

THE BREAKDOWN

I’m going to ‘fess up here and admit that while I regularly give Knives a hard time about his “Ash” obsession, I actually really like some of Ashley Wood’s art (I could happily live without the scantily clad women with weird looking feet) and think a lot of his toys are pretty neat looking. The squares are definitely my favorite. Simple, but they have personality and are pretty cute. And before you go thinking I’m all girly and I just like cutesy things, know this – when the zombie apocalypse comes, I’m the one in this household that knows how to handle a weapon.

Ahem. Now that we have that cleared right up…

This square is a little different than the others, mostly because he’s carrying a giant bomb on his noggin. I’m not sure how he intends to use it, given that he lacks arms, but it’s there.  His face is a little different than the other squares too. He still has that bucktooth thing going on, but his lip is far less curled out. I know he’s supposed to be the “crazy” one, on account of the word “unstable” printed on his face in giant block letters (subtle, no?), but he actually looks a little less crazy than the normal squares because of the lip. He’s also got one pretty sweet eyebrow over his left eye. He seems very sneaky to me!

I’m really impressed with how much articulation he has for a toy with so few appendages. Knives tells me it’s about the same as the other squares, but I guess this is the first time I really played with one. You can twist the base that the legs attach to all the way around, rotate and twist the top of the legs around a ball joint and even twist his feet back and forth a bit. Unfortunately, with so many options and his top-heavy nature, it was a little difficult to get him to actually stand up while photographing.

One of the things I think is so cool about these toys is the interesting paint jobs. The weathering and detail are (normally) great. This guy looks like he’s had dirty water running down him along with the normal weathering detail on the edges. There’s also some reddish splatter in there that breaks things up nicely.

Given that I’m usually such a fan of the paint though, I’ve gotta say I think they really phoned it in on the bomb. It’s a random assortment of red, brown and silver splatters that don’t make any sense to me, and are applied in a really lazy manner. There’s about four smudge marks around the main body of the bomb, with each color right on top of the other in the exact same spot, and anywhere with a dip is completely free of paint.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Overall I like this little guy. He’s got personality. It was pretty easy to come up with a little back story for him while taking pictures. If you don’t look too close, the paint job looks nice. The only other issue I had with him is that it’s pretty unclear how the bomb is attached. The belly of the bomb just kinda squares out, sitting flush to the top of his head. I feel like this was a missed opportunity for cool detail that would sell the whole bomb thing a little better.

Well, thanks for sticking around long enough to read the thoughts of the uninitiated! It’s been fun. I’m sure I’ll start to miss Knives again soon and have to come back for another!

K – Personally, I wasn’t too excited about square bomb when I ordered him. I ordered him based on the single fact that I love the MK1 Square. It’s a 3A/Ashley Wood classic. I was intrigued by the new face but the bomb didn’t look very “realized” in the teaser shots. I had my hand firmly on the trap door when he arrived only to be surprised by his “personality”. The new face won me over right away. Also, as my wife mentioned, the paint and weathering is well done. Perhaps just as important, not OVER done. There’s a good balance of dirty and clean and some nice attention to details around the edges and corners of the square’s body. It’s not the best I’ve seen 3A do, but it’s pretty darn good. I’ll agree with my wife that the bomb did lack some of the finer paint details of the square, but it didn’t bother me as much as it did her.

I think the thing I like about this guy the most is that he’s a one-off. One character with a unique face and a singular idea behind him. That could all change tomorrow and 3A could release a dozen different colorways of the bomb toting psycho, but for now he’s unique and I love that.

I do wish the bomb had some straps around it, or maybe some hoses running from it into the square’s body to make it a little more cohesive. This is 3A. They do straps and belts and hoses and bags like it’s their job.. because IT IS their job! It just looks like it’s stuck on with no basis of how or why. Some simple accessory connecting the two would have gone a long way I think.

Other than that I’d like to echo my wife’s feelings and say that overall I like this little guy. Thanks sweetie for putting this all together for me! You’re the best!

Pros:

  • wonderful new “troubled/sneaky” face
  • nice overall paint application
  • A unique character based off one of 3A’s most classic (and one of my favorite) toy designs

Cons:

  • The general execution of the bomb, from the way it’s painted to the way it’s attached looks less than inspired

Check out the first ever Rad Toy Review unboxing video!

Help us improve this site by letting us know what you think! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay updated!