Wasn’t it cool seeing Stephen Strange in Thor: Ragnarok? Not only was he a great little addition to that film, but his appearance makes my long overdue review of Hot Toys’ Sixth-Scale Doctor Strange figure a little less out-of-date. It also proved to me beyond a shadow of a doubt how much I love the portrayal of Strange in the MCU while not really loving the Doctor Strange movie. Oh, I enjoyed it well enough, but it didn’t quite have the “Wow, I want to see this over and over again” feeling I get from most of the other MCU films. It was a solid origin story, but I felt that the Inception-style effects didn’t really fit, and they sure leaned heavy on that. Now with all that having been said, there were two things I did absolutely adore about the movie: The casting and the costume design. Benedict Cumberbatch was born to play the role of Stephen Strange, and seeing him in Ragnarok just cemented that feeling for me. Likewise, they really nailed his costume perfectly, probably better than any other MCU character to date. There was never any doubt for me that this character needed a space of honor on my Marvel Hot Toys shelves. Let’s check this guy out!
Hot Toys has not really been wowing me with their presentation lately, so it’s nice to see them change things up just a bit with this figure. At heart, it’s still the same old window box wrapped in an illustrated sleeve that we usually get, but they had some fun with this one. The sleeve is a trippy kaleidoscope of images from the film that reflects the infinite reaches of the various dimensions and plains of existence available to The Sorcerer Supreme. The center has a circle set in an angled square, which can be turned to unlock the sleeve and open it to reveal the window box inside. It’s a simple little gimmick, but it goes a long way to show me that Hot Toys wanted to deliver a little something extra for this release, and I can appreciate that. Inside the box, the figure comes on a standard molded plastic tray with his myriad of accessories laid out around him, and I have to say, this guy really does come with a lot of great stuff! Let’s start out with the base figure and a few of those accessories…
As I already mentioned, I think the movie nailed Strange’s costume design perfectly and that gave Hot Toys a lot to work with when tailoring the costume for this figure. The tunic features a finely crafted set of pleats on the front and it fits the figure perfectly, even when draped over the long-sleeved shirt and trousers. The stitching is immaculate and the combination of vibrant and darker blue material looks quite striking. The fabric arm bracers feature a Nepali flair, complete with fringe coming off the backs. As great as the costume looks, it’s also not terribly restrictive, making Doctor Strange a pretty fun figure to play with and pose. Everything about this costume is rich with love and attention to detail!
The boots include sculpted stitching, treads on the soles, and sculpted laces. They also include cloth wraps made of the same vibrant blue material as the tunic. You also get some braided Nepali loops and fringe. The boots are sculpted in one piece, which means the ankle hinges in the underlying body are completely hindered. Hot Toys still seems to be waffling back and forth over whether or not to put ankle joints in the boots. They did it with both Daredevil and The Punisher, but here they didn’t. I’m not too upset about that, because the added articulation would probably have messed up the cloth wraps over time, but it does mean that his feet won’t be flat on the ground in those wide stances.
The elaborate belt is a real showpiece on this figure and as much a part of the costume’s magnificence than anything else. It’s actually a network of belts! First, you get the wide belt, dare I call it a “Cumberbund?” This piece is made of a leather-like material with some excellent stitching and texture. On top of that you get two woven belts with sculpted plastic loops. There are two larger circular fixtures, one on the front, positioned near his left hip, and one on the back, and on the back, the belts terminate into a glorious fringe. Below all that are two narrower leather-like belts. I never thought I could get all worked up over belt designs, but these are just amazing and they all conspire to give Strange a smart and trim look.
The belt includes a few loops, which can be used to hang the included Sling Ring. I should say Sling Rings, plural, because you get two of them. It’s been a while since I saw the film, but I thought he only had one. At first, I considered maybe Hot Toys included an extra in case you lose one, but in the instructions, they show where to hang both on the belt. Either way, I’m only going to display him with one, and not in the spot where the instructions say to put it. I’m a rebel!
In addition to the Sling Rings, the Eye of Agamotto is also included to accessorize Strange’s wardrobe. You get two of these powerful amulets, one with the Eye open and one with it closed. Contrary to what was seen in the film, I’m opting to display him with the open Eye. Both pieces hang on red and black string and they each feature some beautiful sculpting as well as a nice mix of gold and copper paint. The opened Eye is painted with a vibrant metallic green to give it an almost ethereal glow.
And that brings us to the portrait and it’s pretty fantastic. Cumberbatch is certainly a distinctive looking fellow, and I have to imagine that makes it easier to sculpt a recognizable license. This makes two excellent Sixth-Scale Cumberbatch portraits on the market, the other being set atop Big Chief’s Sherlock Holmes figure. Of course, Hot Toys goes above and beyond by creating likenesses with a spark of life and I think they’ve done a bang up job with it here. As usual, the skin texturing and paint is very realistic and the paintwork they do for the eyes continues to astound me, even with so many of these figures on my shelves. Hot Toys hasn’t always been able to work their magic with facial hair, but in this case I think they nailed it. The goatee is both convincing and immaculate. The hair sculpt gives him those distinctive high bangs, and the paint showing the graying “wings” on the sides of his hair is spot on. I couldn’t have asked for a better portrait!
Of course, you can’t have Doctor Strange without his Cloak of Levitation and here’s another piece of the costume that Hot Toys went crazy on. The checkered lining looks both ornate and ancient at the same time, and the patchwork nature of the outside of the cloak matches the on screen costume beautifully. There’s also a generous wire running throughout that allows you to pose it as if it has a mind of its own. The only issue I had with the Cloak is the popped collar. It looked so crisp and perfect in Hot Toys’ official prototype shots and in person not so much. Now granted, the softer style allows the collar to be displayed up or folded down, as he wore both looks in the film, but since I’ll likely be displaying him with the collar up all of the time, I would have liked it to be a little more stiff. Maybe starch would help, but I doubt I’ll risk it. The cloak features some sculpted and painted ornamental plastic pieces just below the collar and it’s worn, quite securely, simply by folding it around the figure’s shoulders and neck.
All Hot Toys figures come with a collection of extra hands, but it’s hard to think of a character where they were more important than with Strange. Not only is the entire driving force of the movie centered on his hands, but hand gestures are the key to his powers, and so you get plenty of options here! The hand sockets can be a bit tight, and this is one instance where I found it useful to remove the wrist peg from the arm, then swap out the hand and put the peg back in. Also, the Sling Ring can easily be placed on the fingers of one of the left hands.
Strange also comes with a couple of sets of effect parts. Now, I’m not necessarily a huge fan of these with Hot Toys figures. No matter how well they’re done, I think that they tend to look rather fake when compared to the lifelike qualities of the figure. This was definitely the case with Scarlet Witch’s hex effects, and it’s more or less true here as well. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad they include these, as they can be fun to play around with, but they still feel like better quality versions of something packed in with a Marvel Legends.
The first set consists of a pair of neon green rings and a mandala piece for the hand. The rings go over the forearm and the mandala has two grooves for his fingers. It doesn’t attach very firmly, instead it more or less hangs there, but I didn’t have any trouble with it staying on for the pictures. The sculpting on these pieces is quite nice, and given the right lighting, the plastic does give off a bit of a glow. Again, this is a cool bonus, but not something that really blows me away.
The other effect set includes these two large mandala shields, which have similar notches in the back for the fingers. These hold in place a lot better than the smaller green disk, and overall I like the look of these more. I’m not sure if it’s because they’re more iconic or because the coloring is better, but I think these look great. Will I display him with these? Probably not, but they’re nice to have.
Easily my favorite accessory in the box is The Codex Imperium. Not only do I have a thing for antique books, but the detail Hot Toys packed into this little Sixth-Scale edition is mind-blowing. It’s a real book with a working catch. It can be opened and the individual pages can be turned, all of which include tiny printing and illustrations. Talk about going above and beyond!
Hot Toys has been making a habit of including illustrated backdrops with some of their figures lately. We saw this most recently with Daredevil and The Punisher. Doctor Strange comes with a larger tri-fold backdrop. It looks nice, it works pretty well for pictures, but it’s not really big enough to frame the figure very well, especially not with Strange’s billowing cloak.
Also in the box is the same style of large stand that I last saw way back with Falcon from Winter Soldier. In fact, it’s the same stand with just a different graphic on the face and a different name plate on the front. Just like Falcon’s stand, it features a spring-loaded claw to grasp the figure around the waist, but instead of the flexible post, it comes with an acrylic one to simulate Strange levitating. This is a ton of fun to mess around with, and I appreciate the added value and gravitas that this stand brings to the table, but just like the Falcon stand, it’s too big for my display shelf, so Stephen will have to go on a generic stand for now.
If you can’t tell, I’m pretty smitten with this figure, and I’m probably not the only one. Not a lot of Hot Toys figures sell out quickly these days, but Doctor Strange is one that went to the dreaded Waitlist on Sideshow pretty damn fast. He’s also sold out at most major online retailers. And it’s easy to see why. At $235, Strange is easily one of the best values I’ve seen out of Hot Toys in a while. Between the over-the-top craftsmanship and detailing in the costume, to the generous helping of extras and the elaborate stand, this is one release that I didn’t have to scrutinize in order to see where the money went. Additionally, Marvel Studios nailed the outfit straight out of the gate, so it’s hard for me to imagine there will be a lot of changes for future appearances. And even if they do change up the costume, this is most certainly the iconic look for the character, and most definitely the one I wanted on my shelf.