The Black Hole Figures by Diamond Select, Part 2

Seemingly out of nowhere, Diamond Select decided to toss out some figures from Disney’s old and oft forgotten sci-fi ditty, The Black Hole. And this pleased me to no end! A couple of days ago I checked out the V.I.N.CENT and B.O.B. two-pack and today I’m going to open one of the coolest evil robots to ever hit the big screen… Maximilian!

I showed off the packaging for these figures last time, but here it is again, in case you’re just joining us. DST is infamous for large, wasteful, and ultimately not collector-friendly packages. Although honestly in this case, Maximilian is so big, I guess the package size is more or less justified. The artwork features the rather distinctive logo of the title, and the computerized grid pattern used in the opening credits. I do believe that was the longest computer animated sequence generated for a film up to that time. And as long as we’re talking about the film, I can’t overestimate how awesome I thought Maximilian was, and that opinion holds true even after my most recent viewings. The imposing, silent robot was terrifying to behold and made even more so by the fact that Dr. Reinhardt didn’t seem to have complete control over him. One of my favorite little nuggets of dialogue in the film was when Reinhardt begs Kate to protect him from his pet killer robot. I never thought the old MEGO figure did Maximilian justice.

Now this figure? This does him justice! Maximilian’s casing is a lot simpler than V.I.N.CENT and B.O.B. with minimal panel lines and lots of smooth surfaces. He’s also built like a linebacker with broad shoulders and a stout barrel chest. His deep crimson coloring makes him look all the more sinister, and there are some spots of silver dry brushing here and there to recreate some weathering. Like his smaller co-stars, Maximilian is a hovering robot and so a stand is pretty essential to this figure. In this case we get a chunky black post on a very large disc. It isn’t as dynamic as the articulated stands we saw last time, but it’s far better suited to the task of holding the figure up. His “legs” are something like anti-grav stabilizers, and include articulated flaps to help control his movement. These “legs” are also articulated at the hips so that they can move outward, but the design of the arms kind of inhibits the ability to use those points.

Maximilian’s head is just a giant grim bucket. There’s no attempt to reproduce a face, instead he just has a red visor for eyes. The piece is translucent red plastic and if you catch the light right it can produce a bit of a glowing effect. I do kind of wish they had included some light piping with this guy. There’s actually a second head, but I’ll save that for last. For now, let’s have a better look at those arms!

The design of Maximilian’s arms is so damn unique! Each shoulder projects three separate arms, which hang down together like they’re on a carousel. By rotating, Maximilian can select a different arm to face forward, or he can deploy all three of them at once like a robotic spider. Four of these arms have the same sculpted beam emitters on the ends, while the remaining two are fitted with powerful silver claws, but I’ll come back to those in a moment.

Diamond included some effect parts for the beam arms, but I don’t think they’re all that effective. If you collect Star Wars figures, than you’ll no doubt recognize these as being similar to the Force Lightning pieces Hasbro sometimes includes with their figures. They just kind of hang off the arms and I guess they look OK, but they’re certainly nothing special.

Maximilian comes with two sets of attachments for his closed claw arms. One set with the claws spread open like blades, and another with a spinning effect. I really dig the regular blades, and I’ll likely display him with at least the left one of these attached. The spinning blade effect is a decent enough try, but it doesn’t quite work for me.

One last bonus accessory for Maximilian is the one I mentioned earlier: A spare head. This one has Dr. Reinhardt’s eyes visible through the visor. It’s a reference to the bat-shit crazy ending where the Cygnus gets dragged into the titular Black Hole and Maximilian and Reinhardt are fused together. With the Doctor trapped inside his creation he’s deposited in a bizarre hellscape, where we only get a small glimpse of his fate. It’s such a strange ending for what was otherwise a fairly grounded sci-fi flick. Not to mention very uncharacteristic for a Disney film. But then, this film is an all around strange bird indeed!

Before wrapping up, Maximilian’s package includes the parts needed to complete the diorama pieces that came with B.O.B. and V.I.N.CENT. It’s a simple piece of deck with a railing and a cardboard backdrop. A nice bonus, to be sure and while it’s too small for Maximilian, the other robots look quite nice displayed on it. There are also some connector pieces so if you somehow should find yourself with two, you can attach them together.

Maximilian isn’t as intricate or complex a design as the other robots, but he’s still a big, imposing, and all around fantastic figure. Hell, all of these are fantastic figures. I don’t know what possessed DST to gamble on a release of these robots featured in a mostly forgotten film from over 40 years ago (FORTY YEARS!!! HOLY HELL, I’M SO OLD!!!) but I’m so very glad they did and I hope it pays off. I’m sure this line going any further would be too much to hope for, but if we were to get one more wave like this, I’d love to see a Sentinel Robot and S.T.A.R. They were both great designs and would make for really impressive figures in this scale.

The Black Hole Figures by Diamond Select, Part 1

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.┬áMoving 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.