Since Hot Toys first started showing off its Captain America: Civil War figures, many collectors have been waiting for the first glimpse at the Black Panther. Unlike many of the other characters getting figures from the upcoming sequel, Black Panther won't merely be an update to an existing toy. This is the first time he'll be joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and as such, is the first time he'll be getting a figure of Hot Toys' quality. It's unfortunate then the figure itself is a little disappointing.
In the pages of his Marvel comics, Black Panther's suit is simplistic. It's loaded with all kinds of Wakandan technology, but it lacks definition. It's sleek, like the character's namesake. To pop a little more on screen, the costume designers applied some fantastic texturing that pays tribute to T'Challa's heritage. Hot Toys gets a lot of details right. The suit from the upcoming film is incredibly intricate, and that starts with the cowl. There's all kinds of wonder Wakandan art inscribed throughout, providing so much more personality to the character than his more traditional comic costume.
Hot Toys, we need to talk. For the most part, I appreciate all the effort put into the figures created by the talented team working for the company. The way Hot Toys is able to recreate the heroes and villains of cinema's most exciting characters must rely on some sort of ancient magic. Somewhere along the line these last few months, the magic well must have started drying up. Where costumes and accessories are still delightfully detailed, the once impeccable likenesses have started failing the characters they're modeled after. That's never been more apparent than the newest announcement, the Captain America: Civil War Ant-Man.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Aliens, James Cameron's follow-up to the sci-fi horror classic, Alien. To celebrate the event, 20th Century Fox has overtaken the fan holiday of Aliens Day on April 26 (LV-426 is the planet where all the action happens in Aliens) to bring out a number of new collectibles and to promote the upcoming sequel, Alien: Covenant. Major corporations co-opting something as silly and fun as a fake holiday fits right in with the Weyland-Yutani mantra, and while we can debate the value of tactics like these, we are getting some products that might otherwise have never happened like replica Reebok sneakers and new Hot Toys figures.
I'm perfectly at peace in being complicit in allowing things like this to happen because I want to own cool things that celebrate the culture I enjoy. I love the Alien series. Most of it anyway. I also really enjoy toys. While NECA's been doing a tremendous job pumping out Alien figures at a steady and affordable pace, Hot Toys has been chilling on the sidelines with its Marvel and Star Wars licenses. The Hong Kong manufacturer once released a number of Alien figures, but it was well before the company became the juggernaut it is today. The revisiting of the franchise will give Hot Toys a chance to show off it's new skills with the Alien Warrior, a xenomorph that's been done a number of times before, but never quite like this.
Falcon is the man. Dude gets some serious chiding about his running from a superhero hopped up on TRT, HGH and any number of other substances deemed illegal for use by the Olympics, the USADA, the NSAC, the Sokovia Accords and people who think sports were better when people didn't have to wear helmets. And for what? Because he couldn't keep up with a morning jog? It was basically the Marvel movie version of "Do you even lift bro?" Yet Sam Wilson still opened his door to Steve Rogers when he needed a place to crash, and even helped him overthrow a HYDRA insurgency within SHIELD in spite of how rude Captain America was to him. Falcon is the man.
While he's gotten a figure from Hot Toys before, this latest version is much closer to the comic character we've all come to know and love since his arrival decades ago. The more realistic, militarized version worked well for a debut in Captain America: The Winter Solider, but the revamped model with red highlights helps separate him from the drab gunmetal of enlisted characters like War Machine. While it's not quite as rocking as his current comic look, the Captain America: Civil War Falcon still manages to have a signature look that gives him a bit more personality on the crowded battlefield.
I know the movie is called Batman V Superman, but they've both had their cinematic adventures before and the subsequent action figure lines that come with the territory. Both Batman and Superman have had numerous Hot Toys figures too, so for me, it's been all about waiting for that Wonder Woman reveal. The Hong Kong company has done well to keep Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman figure a secret, but now that the first preview screenings have started, it seemed like the perfect time to finally loose the Amazon warrior into the wild.
There's not a lot to dislike about this Wonder Woman, but even in releasing the first set of official images for the figure, Hot Toys has managed to not give us a completely clear look at the whole piece. Not counting the accessories montage image, there are just nine images of Wonder Woman available, with six focused completely on the head sculpt. It's not a tactic we're used to seeing, as Hot Toys usually throws more than a dozen different prototype images together for reveals like this which show off more costume and articulation details. The lack of posing in these images has me a little worried.
Hot Toys' plan to ruin the bank accounts of every Batman fan around the world continues with the official announcement of the life size Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice Batman statue. Following hot on the heels of the Armored Batman version, this one shows off the Batfleck in his more traditional crime-fighting costume from the upcoming film. It's also the second full-size piece Hot Toys will release for sale, and is an indication that the Superman and Wonder Woman (with "real" hair) will follow later this year.
I have to admit, I'm coming around on this suit. Maybe it's the unrelenting media coming at me from all angles promoting Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, but this duct tape and ACE bandage costume is starting to grow on me. I'm still not 100% on this thing, and it does have a texture a little too close to Superman's Kryptonian garb, but I no longer hate it. Baby steps.
When they said Hawkeye and Ant-Man were both going to be in Captain America: Civil War, everyone in the world became Success Kid. By continually supporting the massive media juggernaut that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we'd arrived at the time when a live action version of the cover to Avengers #223 might actually happen. And then the most recent trailer arrived, and there it was; Hawkeye firing an arrow with a miniature Ant-Man saddled up for action like Slim Pickens.
Every single member of the Guardians of the Galaxy got a figure from Hot Toys over the last two years except for Drax. Oh, Drax was certainly teased a number of times, but the honor-bound meathead never made it outside the confines of those glass displays. If his figure never saw the light of day, it certainly wouldn't have been the only time a series was left unfinished, but fortunately that won't be the case. Despite Hot Toys' best attempts to keep the Destroyer locked away, the green brute will finally be able to join up with the rest of the galaxy's heroic rogues.
Based on the likeness of Dave Bautista, Hot Toys' Drax is damn impressive. The company's been on a streak of good-but-not-great likenesses as of late, but Drax here seems to be getting back on track. Again though, we're trapped in a land of bland expressions. Drax is a man of action. He should at least look like he's ready to fight instead of stuck in line at the DMV. I know Drax is overly serious in the film, but would it kill Hot Toys' sculptors to make it look like these characters are having any feelings beyond the grim realization of the eventual heat death of the universe?
Considering the movie is called Captain America: Civil War, it was a little strange when the first Hot Toys figures announced for the movie were War Machine and Iron Man. Sure, they'll be in the movie, and they'll play a big part in being wrong about everything because Captain America is always right. But at the end of the day, it's a Captain America movie. It's also a little bit of a Winter Soldier movie, but mostly Captain America. He is the greatest hero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and his movies have been the among best ones of the bunch. Now after being separated by time, circumstance and HYDRA, Cap and Bucky will finally be reunited as they were always meant to be: as toys for me to play with.
Baby-fied versions of pop culture characters aren't anything new. Chibi-inspired art has been around for a loooooong time, and we've had the X-babies and Muppet Babies and Skottie Young's Marvel babies continually reminding us that everything old can be made new again just by turning it into a child. The same can be said of Hot Toys' Cosbaby line, which appropriates the company's various licenses for highly-detailed adult action figures into itty-bitty versions with exaggerated features. Given the popularity of the Star Wars franchise, it was only a matter of time until Hot Toys turned its chibi-loving eyes towards The Force Awakens.
Yes, soon you'll be able to enjoy miniaturized figures of your favorite members of the First Order, rendered with the same affection of the caricature artist from your favorite amusement park. Twelve different figures will comprise the first two series of Hot Toys' Star Wars: The Force Awakens Cosbabies, including that rapscallion Kylo Ren and his bestest of friends, FN-2187.
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