When I was a wee lad, fantasy fiction and I were inseparable. I re-read Tolkein until my paperbacks fell apart, I poured over issues of Dragon magazine, and I spent a ridiculous amount of time crafting binders with maps and modules for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, many of which would never be played. Somewhere along the way, I left a lot of this sort of thing behind me; or rather it evolved into my study of ancient and medieval history. When George R.R. Martin’s “Song of Fire and Ice” came along, I found myself rekindling that old love and when HBO’s treatment followed, I was equally entranced. Was there ever any doubt that I would be interested in action figures based on this franchise? Hardly! Funko’s figure line seemed to come out of nowhere. They were up for sale shortly after their existence was revealed, and horror stories of their poor QC quickly followed. I had originally planned on buying the entire assortment in one shot, but better judgment prevailed and I decided to just pick up a couple to see if they were a worthwhile investment. We’re starting with one of my favorite characters in the books and TV series: Sandor Clegane, better known as The Hound!
Hound comes in a window box quite similar to Hasbro’s Star Wars Black 6-inch line. Funko is, of course, the company responsible for drowning the world in an endless sea of those pop culture vinyl figures. They’re infamous for being able to secure seemingly any and every license known to man and now that might just pay off because Game of Thrones is only the first in their “Legacy” series of 6-inch action figures, which is eventually planned to span wide range of franchises. The window box is attractive and it shows the figure off very well. The back has a photo of the character from the show and the side panel shows the banner of the family that the character belongs to. The package is totally collector friendly, and… gosh, I think there’s something else I’m missing. Oh yeah. The figure stinks! I mean it smells really bad. It’s not that glorious plastic smell that you get when breaking the seal on a NECA or MOTUC figure. No, this smells pretty vile.
Out of the package, and The Hound looks fantastic. The package tells us that Funko collaborated with Gentle Giant for the sculpts in this line and it certainly shows, particularly in the detailed armor. From the hauberk to the riveted plates to the chain mail underneath, the sculptors didn’t miss a trick on this guy. There are even dents on the shoulder armor from where he took some blows. The shoulder and elbow guards are made out of a really thin, soft plastic, which allows it to work with the articulation. There isn’t a huge variety of paint on this figure’s body, but what’s here is certainly good. The metal finish on the armor is certainly convincing and the buckles and fixtures on the belts and straps are all carefully painted.
The portrait here is pretty solid too, although there isn’t nearly as much burn damage visible on the face as there should be. I suppose you could argue that the way the hair is sculpted, it’s covering most of it. The truth is someone without any knowledge of the show or character could probably look at this head sculpt and not realize that he’s half burned at all. Even with that being the case, I’m still pretty happy with the way the head turned out. The likeness is certainly there and the paintwork isn’t bad at all, although I’m not entirely sure whether that stuff on his neck is supposed to be crooked beard, burn marks, or chocolate pudding.
To discuss this figure’s articulation requires a trip to the stove for a pot of boiling water, but first let’s list the points that are here. The arms are ball jointed at the shoulders, have swivels in the lower biceps, ball joints in the elbows, and swivels in the wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have swivels in the thighs, double hinges in the knees, and both hinges and rockers in the ankles. There is no waist or chest articulation and the head is set on a ball joint. Out of the package, my figure had frozen joints in the ankles and the right elbow, and both thigh swivels were stuck. Now keep in mind, that’s after spending a lot of time very gingerly working all the joints to avoid breakage. If I didn’t have a heads up about the QC, I likely would have snapped all the limbs off this guy in a couple of minutes. I was also very careful about getting him out of the tray.
So after boiling up some water and chuckling to myself about the irony of having to burn my Sandor Clegane figure, I set about to doing what I could. The ankle joints came unstuck fairly easily. It was the elbow that took some doing. Even after I was able to get the balljoint to bend, I couldn’t get it to rotate. Why the designers saw the need to put bicep swivels so close to a rotating ball joint in the elbow is beyond me, but it greatly complicated getting the swivel in the elbow unstuck. If the elbow hadn’t frozen in an unnatural position I would have left it alone. But after a few dunks into the boiling water, and some gentle coaxing, the elbow got unstuck too. Right now I’m not going to bother with the thigh swivels, because there’s really no way to tell whether the joint is beginning to turn or the post is twisting off. I’ve had that happen a couple of times on DC Universe Classics figures, so it isn’t worth it. There’s a little bit of swivel play in the hip joints to help him stand. Also worth mentioning, the hip ball joints are crazy loose. The Hound will sometimes collapse into the splits or the leg will come off entirely. But that’s easily fixed.
The Hound comes with two swords and they are both beautiful pieces. The blades are about the same length but one has a two handed grip and fits into the scabbard on his back. The other comes in another scabbard, which gets passed through the loops on his belt… and then tears the loops off the figure. Yep, I did that as carefully as I could and it still tore off. That was an easy fix with some gorilla glue and it should be a lot stronger now. He also comes with his signature helmet. The helmet is superbly sculpted to resemble its on screen counterpart. It’s very soft plastic and fits snugly over the head. The visor is also hinged!
So, obviously this figure has problems. And even after all this bother, I have to consider that I’m one of the lucky ones, because in the end I still have a viable figure and not a jumble of broken limbs. As crazy as that sounds, what’s even crazier is that I’m still glad I picked up this figure because he looks absolutely fantastic on the shelf. Still, I wouldn’t go around recommending him to people. Twenty bucks is a lot to spend on a figure that is this flawed and while future collectors may take comfort in the fact that Funko is aware of the problem and addressing it on future product, unless they mark the packaging on the improved figures, buyers are still as likely to get stuck with a bad figure. I’ll end on a bright note, at least Funko is getting the kinks out and future Legacy lines should be free of these problems… and hopefully will be by the time they get around to Firefly figures. Next week, we’ll check out Jon Snow.