I was only eight years old when my parents took me to see Disney’s The Black Hole, as a result the only thing I remembered about it was being bored to tears whenever the robots weren’t on screen. Revisiting it as a teenager and adult allowed me to find more value in it, but it’s still a really strange movie with some serious tonal problems. Like one minute the robots are fun and goofy, and the next we find out that the crew of the Cygnus have been lobotomized and are now zombie slaves suffering a state of living death. Anthony Perkins’ character gets disemboweled by a robot with a weed whacker, and the movie ends in a terrifying robotic retelling of Dante’s Inferno. HOLY SHIT, DISNEY!!! I was legit surprised to find the film available and unedited on Disney+ and I re-watched it for the first time in probably 10 years.
Despite all the dark shit, the movie got toys. But hey, it was PG and plenty of R-rated movies got toys in the 80’s, so that’s not so weird. I only had the robots from the 3 3/4-inch line, and I basically integrated them into my Buck Rogers or Star Wars figures when playing with them. For whatever reason, I have a lot of nostalgia for those figures, and I guess, to some extent, the movie as well. So when Diamond revealed they were making some Black Hole figures, I sure as hell jumped on board. The releases consist of the good robots, V.I.N.CENT and B.O.B. (hereafter spelled without the periods) in a two-pack, and the evil robot Maximilian. These are Diamond Select releases, so naturally they come in ridiculously huge boxes. They look magnificent, but they aren’t collector friendly and they seem kind of wasteful. I’m always amazed at how much trash is left over after opening Diamond Select figures. I’m breaking this review up into two parts, today we’ll start with the two-pack and Friday I’ll check out Maximilian.
Here he is… but first, the stand! Yeah, it’s a weird place to start, but it’s kind of necessary for a hovering robot figure. The clear stand is a multi-hinged, multi-rod ratcheting affair that pegs into his back and really isn’t equipped to handle the weight of this solid ball of plastic. I wound up taking it down to just one rod and two hinges and it seems to get the job done. The base is rather small and has a foot peg on it, so I presume it was repurposed from another figure, which may be why the stand isn’t really optimal for these guys.
With that out of the way, I have to say this is a magnificent little sculpt that’s just packed with lovely little details and a bunch of interchangeable parts. I think VINCENT is one of those “love it, or hate it” robot designs. I’m sure a big part of why I love it so much is because I was introduced to it as a kid. Also, he had the same box-of-gimmicks kind of design that made me love R2-D2 so much. About the only thing that slightly disappointed me when I started playing with this figure was that his head cannot extend all the way up to reveal that his “face” is actually the central band of a sphere. For some reason, I always thought that scene in the movie was cool. But that’s OK. He can still close up his head completely and turn it 360-degrees when it’s open.
The tiny printing on all the panels looks really nice, and the paint is solid enough. The finish on this figure actually looks more like metal than the actual movie prop did. I do wish they used some kind of lenticular sticker for the CRT screen in his belly, but it still looks fine. Let’s start checking out all of the extras!
Yeah, VINCENT comes with a bevy of extra bits for all sorts of different display options. First off, you can replace his anti-grav emitters or “legs” so that they are retracted. Popping these on and closing up his head makes it look like he’s shut down. It’s a cool option, but probably one I’m not going to use a lot since these are extended whenever he’s hovering, and that’s how I’ll be displaying him. Not to worry, though, I went with the least exciting attachments first!
Next, he has a pair of front claw arms concealed behind flip out panels. Open the panels and you can see the retracted claws inside. These can be replaced with extended arms. And since the extended arms just peg into sockets, you can also swivel them 360-degrees.
VINCENT also has arms that are meant to extend outward from his shoulders. The giveaway here is that the closed panels are actually supposed to be the retracted claws. You just pop off these panels and plug in the extended arms. Once again, these peg in so you can swivel the orientation of the claw. With all four arms extended, VINCENT changes from a seemingly useless ball to a handy guy to have around!
The two red panels on his lower front, beside the arm panels are his retracted laser guns. Like the shoulder arms, these simply pop off and you can replace them with the extended guns. These extended pieces are partially translucent with the red tube in the center and look pretty damn neat. And thanks to the way the stand plugs into his back you can recreate his barrel roll shooting trick from when he was going up against STAR in the marksmanship competition!
And finally, the central panel opens up to plug in the drill he used to f’ck up Maximillan. Ironically, this isn’t a terribly exciting accessory, but I always thought it was poetic justice that Maximilian got gutted the same way he gutted Anthony Perkins’ character. Dr. Reinhardt even foreshadowed it. David and Goliath indeed! And that’s it for VINCENT, but wow, what a lot of cool stuff. There was clearly a ton of love poured into this little figure, and I respect Diamond for going above on beyond for a figure that probably no other company would have risked making. I mean, this is a pretty niche robot, but they certainly did him justice. Moving on to BOB!
And don’t worry, I don’t have nearly as much to say about BOB. He’s supposed to be an earlier model of the same robot design as VINCENT, only he was built in Houston so naturally his voice has a Texan twang in the film. BOB’s been kicking around the Cygnus for a long while and getting abused by Dr Reinhardt’s other robots, so he’s all beat to shit. And Diamond did a really nice job recreating that here. Unlike VINCENT, BOB is mostly cast in one solid piece of plastic, so he’s a lot heavier.
It’s still possible to make out what he looked like when he was in better shape and you can see the various differences in design, like the circular display in his belly. He’s also got fewer compartments and his designation is printed down at the bottom of his body as opposed to up by his head. Unlike VINCENT, BOB’s head appears to be ball jointed so he can turn it as well as get a little up and down movement. The “helmet” has more of a stepped design as opposed to VINCENT’s rounded dome. BOB is missing one of his anti-grav balls, as well as both of his arm hatches, and his right claw arm is stuck in the extended position. The extended arm is ball jointed so you can get a little extra movement out of it. The weathering on this guy is absolutely fantastic, as is all the dents. Alas, VINCENT’s parts don’t work with BOB’s, so he’s really just there for display.
The VINCENT-BOB 2-pack comes with some diorama pieces, but I’ll save that for Part 2, because you need to have pieces that come with Maximilian to finish it. So I’ll just finish off Part 1 by saying how thrilled I am that Diamond Select came out of nowhere and made these figures. The merits of the film may be questionable, but I will forever love these robot designs. Plus, I think they are extremely well suited to being toys. That’s especially apparent here, because besides the great sculpt, paint, and detailing, DST went overboard giving VINCENT all kinds of fun attachments. BOB may not be nearly as fun to play around with, the fact that he’s included with VINCENT makes him most welcome, even if you just want to think of him as an overblown accessory. I really do love these guys, and I’m looking forward to getting Maximilian open so I can check him out in a few days.