Folks, I freaking love the 1980 Flash Gordon movie. I’m not talking I love to laugh at it, or I dig it in an ironic way. I mean, I adore it in the most honest and unapologetic way imaginable. I was only 8 years old when it hit theaters and I was robbed of that experience. But I made my parents rent the hell out of it when it hit VHS and I’ve probably owned every home release of the movie since. I have the movie poster, I have the soundtrack on vinyl, and I have picked up just about every bit of merchandising I could get. The film is so rich with amazing character and costume designs, my dream has always been that it get an action figure treatment as exhaustive as Star Wars. Like, give me a figure of every character on screen! I would army build the hell out of half the denizens of Ming’s Court. Alas, a definitive toy line continues to elude me. Bif Bang Pow did some decent 7-inch figures (which I reviewed OVER TEN YEARS AGO!) as well as some MEGO style versions, but that’s about it. UNTIL NOW! Boss Fight Studios has been branching out their HACKS line beyond just the Greek Mythology and Swords and Sorcery with a number of different licenses and the 1980 Dino De Laurentiis Opus is one of them. They have revealed a few figures, but Flash himself is heralding the line with a special tin lunchbox release.
If you were a child of the 70s or 80s, you no doubt remember it as the Era of Licensed Lunchboxes! Getting ready for the new school year involved my poor parents pouring money into clothes and shoes and books, but all I cared about was who I was going to represent this year on my lunchbox. That was always the question. What would it be this year? Would I be drinking my chocolate milk out of an ALF Thermos? Spectacular! I’ll confess, I never had a Flash Gordon one, but I would have been proud to tote my bologna and cheese to school in a sacred tin tabernacle with the visage of Max Von Sydow and Sam Jones printed on it. And here it is! The front of this collector’s tin has some artwork inspired by the poster and it is absolutely outstanding. I wish I could say the same for the rest of the box.
Holy Hot Hail, what happened to the rest of it? The disconnect between the art on the front and the other sides is really quite palpable. I suppose you could argue that some of those vintage lunchboxes didn’t always have the best quality art, but this stuff is pretty dreadful. Is it intentionally bad? I just don’t know. Flash and Dale on the back panel are particularly offensive. Prince Barin and Prince Vultan aren’t quite as bad. Klytus is there on the other side panel along with some fellas from Ming’s Court. With the front panel looking so great, this tote is certainly displayable, but I wish they had done a better job on the rest of it. If you’re going to go for special presentation, I’m not sure that this is the way to do it.
Inside, Flash and his extra bits are laid out on a clear plastic tray that fits perfectly inside the tote. I really like the way they did this, especially with the branded figure stand in lieu of any kind of interior packaging art. On the downside there is a hell of a lot of empty space in there, which kind of showcases how light this figure is on the accessories. I’ve been collecting HACKS since the original Kickstarter, and it seemed like most of the figures came with an abundance of extras, so all that open air on the tray is pretty conspicuous here. Well, let’s get Flash out and have a look.
HACKS is billed as a 1:18 scale line, which generally puts Flash here in the 3 3/4 to 4-inch range. However, HACKS figures tend to be a little chunkier and so I find that Flash looks a little oversized when displayed with most Hasbro figures in this scale. I think some of the reason for that is because these figures are designed to be modular to allow for customization. Whatever the case, This figure is based on Flash’s appearance early in the film, and it was a good choice for the debut figure. He dons his self-promoting white T-shirt, a pair of khaki slacks, and some sneakers. In terms of sculpt and paint, I think everything about this figure is excellent. Sure, the outfit doesn’t require anything complex, but it nails the look of the character perfectly. The printing on the shirt is crisp, as is the red borders on the neck and sleeves. I love the way the pants cuffs fall about the sneakers, and the sneakers themselves showcase a ridiculous attention to detail. Flash is even wearing a removable silver watch on his left wrist. The only thing here to mar the look of the figure is the peg hole in the back, which doesn’t serve a purpose on Flash, and the screw in his butt that holds the figure together.
You get three head sculpts, all of which are decent likenesses for Sam Jones in this scale. The figure comes wearing a smiling expression, and that’s my favorite of the bunch. I just think it captures Flash the best. The other two convey more aggression or determination. Quite frankly, I don’t think there’s a big enough difference between the other two heads to warrant including both of them. It’s nice to have options, but I would much rather that plastic had gone into a weapon or other accessory.
HACKS articulation is pretty solid, but I wouldn’t call these guys super articulated. The arms have hinged pegs for the shoulders, elbows, and hands. It’s not bad, but you can only get about a 90-degree bend in those elbows. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have double-hinges in the knees, and sadly no swivels in the thighs. The ankles seem to be on rotating hinges, but with the cuffs sculpted the way they are, the best I can get out of them is a swivel. That’s a shame, because the ankles won’t allow the feet to go perpendicular with his legs. As a result, Flash always wants to fall backwards, which is why I’m using a stand in all of the pictures. Why not use the official HACKS stand? I’ll get to that in a bit. Finally, you get a ball joint under the chest and a double ball joint in the neck. The joints on this guy all feel great and he is fun to play around with, but some points could have used a little fine tuning. And that brings us to the rest of the extras! In addition to the two extra heads, Flash comes with a total of five hands. You get a pair of fists, a pair of accessory holding hands, and a left hand that is pegged for the one accessory he comes with. If you want to get any use out of those generic accessory hands, you’ll have to provide your own guns or swords or whatever you want to arm him with.
That one accessory is the football-shaped tribute to Ming that Flash uses to run his Quarterback moves during the fight in the Court. The piece is very well done, with an excellent sculpt and great looking paint. I also appreciate the way they designed it to peg into the open hand. But as good as it is, it really doesn’t feel like enough to round out this package. I realize that Flash was wearing a different costume when he brandished the sword and went full on freedom fighter, but I still feel like they should have given him a gun or something. How about that gold gauntlet that one of the guards shot at him. It could have been sculpted to go around his neck with an effect part. That would have been cool.
And finally you get the branded figure stand, which doesn’t work because the pegs are way too thick for the holes in his feet. This is weird, because all my HACKS figures have come with similar stands, and I’ve never had a problem with them before. With four different pegs on the stand, you’d think at least one of them would work with the figure. Bundling a stand with a figure that doesn’t fit the figure seems like a pretty big mess up to me. It’s especially vexing when the figure won’t stand up by itself.
Obviously, I had some issues with Flash, but truth be told, there’s a lot to like about this figure. He looks great, he’s fun to play with, and I’m always going to be happy to have a new figure from this film. But here’s the thing, this little guy cost $45 and that’s just crazy. The overall lack of quality found in the artwork on the lunchbox doesn’t make it worth the extra cost. I would have much rather had this figure carded and given him a few more extras. Or round it up to $50 and make it a two-pack with the red and black tank top version of Flash they’re releasing. Heck, even with the regular carded releases coming in at $28 a pop, I’m still going to support this line because I’d like to see it go the distance. Alas, my fear is that we’re just going to get a handful of figures before this line fizzles. I certainly don’t expect to get any of the cool guards or soldiers, that kind of depth would be something better suited to Super7’s ReAction line. Still, it would be nice to see pre-orders up for Vultan, Dale, Zarkov, or Princess Aura. Right now the only other figures up for pre-order are Flash v2 and Prince Barin. Come on, guys, at least get Ming and Klytus in there. Ah well. I guess time will tell.