Women of Dynamite: Vampirella Limited Edition Statue by Dynamite

I know, I haven’t been back since Marvel Monday. My apologies for the lack of content this week, but that pesky thing called life took its toll on me and my time, along with plans to write about and photograph toys, crumbled. I did, however, have a little time today to check in with something, and since October is in full swing, why not check out a spooky statue. And by spooky I mean erotic. And by erotic I mean, it’s Vampirella! This was the first release in the Women of Dynamite series of statues, and one that I’ve had my eye on for a while. I mean, it’s Vampirella based on J. Scott Campbell’s artwork. How badly do you think you need to twist my arm? Alas, the paint quality on these statues have a reputation for being infamously bad, so I’ve stayed away. But when Dynamite subsequently re-released Vampirella and said, “We painted her good this time, honest!” that was enough for me to give her a try. Well, that and a deep discount, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself.

The Temptress from Drakulon comes in a fully enclosed box with a lot of artwork and shots of the statue. I really dig the presentation here, as it sort of reminds me of the old Aurora model kit boxes, and that sure ain’t a bad thing. Oddly enough, one of the panels is orientated in landscape format, but it does this to facilitate showing the statue from all angles. The packaging calls out that it’s based on the art of J. Scott Campbell and that it’s sculpted by Jason Smith. One panel actually states that the statue was “meticulously painted” which probably went over big if you got one of the original run. Inside the box, Vampirella comes sandwiched inside a styrofoam brick and there’s a certificate taped on one end with the hand-numbered limitation. In my case, I got #970 of 1969. You may also note the II beside the number, denoting that this is from the second production run. Vampirella is approximately 12-inches of cold-cast porcelain and comes fully assembled for display.

When it comes to composition, Vampirella can’t get more iconic than this pose. She stands with one knee drawn slightly in front of the other and with her cape clutched in each of her hands, trailing behind her. This piece may not win any points for originality, but it’s sure to be a favorite with the fans, and yes that includes me. And since the first thing I did when I opened her was scrutinize the paint, let’s just go ahead and start there. Overall, the precision of the application is actually pretty solid. There are certainly some uneven lines between her skimpy suit and skin, but nothing outrageous, and certainly nothing that stands out if I’m just admiring her on the shelf. Other areas, like the lines around the tops of her boots or the edges of her jewelry are notably better. As for the quality of the paint itself, I dig the high gloss on her boots, the gold leaf is fine, and the red used for her outfit is OK, if maybe a little flat. The skin tone is appropriately on the pale side, but it’s still an even tone with no scratches or rubbing, which is sometimes prevalent on these pieces. All in all, the paintwork here isn’t going to win any prizes for best of show, but based on some of the atrocities I’ve seen from the first run of this statue, I think Dynamite succeeded in stepping things up.

As for the sculpt, I think they did a beautiful job on her figure and it certainly fits Mr. Campbell’s rather distinctive art style. She’s got curves in all the right places, legs that go on forever, a tushie that won’t quit, and a bosom that is barely contained by her wardrobe. But let’s be honest, it isn’t even really trying. She isn’t showing a whole lot in the way of musculature, but you do get some wrinkles on her suit, and the folds of her cape certainly look natural. But when it comes to replicating the great J. Scott Campbell, the body is not usually the problem, it’s the portrait…

And here’s where Vampirella takes a bit of a hit. Now, to be clear, I don’t think this is a bad portrait at all. Maybe the hair is a little chunky and the eyes can seem a little bulbous from certain angles, but overall, I think it looks good. The paint application here is also especially precise on the lips and eyes. But does it invoke Campbell’s work? Not to me. Maybe there’s a hint of it in there, but not enough to really sell it. As a result, the Vampirella fan in me is quite pleased, while the J. Scott Campbell fan in me is rather disappointed. It’s nowhere near what we’ve seen out of Sideshow’s Abbey Chase or Fairy Tail Statues this past year, and sure those are more expensive pieces, but I’d even point to McFarlane’s Danger Girl figures from many years back as more accurate representations of Campbell’s work. Let’s move on down to the base…

I love this base both in design and execution. The circular dais of stone with sculpted crossbones and skulls supports a mound of dirt with skulls and various other human remains. The paintwork on the bones is excellent and reeks of age and off-colored decay. Her high-heeled boots are perfectly placed on them, triumphant and impossibly sure-footed. If only I could end things there, but here’s where the Quality Control on my statue took a huge and unexpected hit. Check this shit out…

Yeah, this crud is all over the side. At first, I thought it was some kind of intentionally disgusting weathering, but nope, it’s unintentionally disgusting goo. It looks like some kind of grease. It has no real odor. And luckily, based on a small area I tried to clean, it looks like it will come off with a little effort. But… Why? How? What kind of QC allows something like this to go out? How do they miss this and how many statues went out like this? It’s a shame that Dynamite went through all the effort to re-release this statue with improved paint quality only to allow something this obvious and easily avoided to get through. If you flip the statue over, there’s a full plate disclosing the artist, sculptor and the numbering of the piece. And as you can see, more of the goo carried on down here. This bit might be tougher to clean without smudging the numbering, but I’ll likely give it a try. But what a shame!

Even when the second run of this piece came out, my hesitancy kept me from pulling the trigger. It took a clearance sale at an online retailer and a price of $50, which is around a third of the original selling price. And as it turns out, I’m pretty satisfied with this purchase. I don’t think that would have been the case had I picked it up at the original price, especially not when I have to clean goop off of the base, but all in all, not a bad deal. It’s not as evocative of J. Scott Campbell’s art as I would have liked, but it is a nice representation of Vampirella for my statue shelves. But does it give me the confidence to invest in one of the other Women of Dynamite statues I’ve been looking at? Mmm… not quite. At least not unless another sale comes along.

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Red Sonja “Scars of the She-Devil” Sixth-Scale Figure (Deluxe Edition) by Phicen/TB League

Phicen, who now seem to be calling themselves TB League, is quickly becoming my favorite Sixth-Scale action figure company behind Hot Toys. Equipped with their always impressive seamless female bodies, they’ve been turning out some amazing boxed figure sets based on some indie comic properties, as well as totally original designs. So far I’ve reviewed three of their four figures from Zenescope Comics, as well as Dynamite Comics’ Vampirella. I’m getting really behind on all my Sixth-Scale reviews, so today I’m checking out the Deluxe Edition of Red Sonja, yet another femme fatale from Dynamite Comics.

This is Phicen’s second release of Red Sonja, dubbed “Scars of the She-Devil.” The first sold out very quickly. This time around, they fixed some complaints about the head sculpt and hair color, gave her a battle damaged look by adding some scarring, decked her out with new accessories and changed up her armor. In short, this isn’t a re-release to add more figures into circulation, but rather an entirely new version. And because this is the Deluxe Edition, they bundled her with a diorama style display base. The figure comes in this massive mailer box with the figure’s regular box inside and a giant brick of styrofoam to hold the base.

Sonja’s box looks great and it’s much wider than most standard Sixth-Scale figure boxes. It’s fully enclosed with a tri-fold front flap securing to both sides by magnets. The front and side panels have photos of the actual figure and the back panel has more photos as well as a little blurb about Red Sonja herself. Lift off the top to reveal a foam tray with the figure and her accessories, and as usual the head comes separate and wrapped in plastic to protect the hair and paint. I have to say that the quality and presentation here is really premium and it blows away the flimsy sleeved window boxes that we’ve been getting from Hot Toys lately.

As mentioned, Sonja comes out of the box in need of having her head attached. You also have to gird on her her sword belt, but apart from that she’s all set to go. Not that there would be a lot to put on her otherwise. Her outfit is appropriately nearly non-existant, with just a scale mail bikini top held up by some rather ornate shoulders, and a couple of patches of scale mail to protect her coming and going down there in her nether regions. The scale armor bits are sculpted plastic and they look great with bright and lustrous metallic silver paint. These pieces are secured with brown leather straps, and they stay put quite well while posing her. She also has a pair of bronze guards on her thighs and some great looking brown boots and gauntlets. Both feature some nice sculpted rumpling to make them look like leather, and the gauntlets have some etched scrollwork as decorations. While the boots look great, they do not allow for much range of motion in the ankles, so her feet won’t always be flush with the ground in those wide stances, but I found that she balances really well. As for the gloves, swapping out her hands means swapping out the whole glove, and oh boy is that a pain in the ass. I’ve since settled with giving her a weapon gripping hand on the right and a relaxed hand on the left, but there are more to choose from if you’re feeling particularly patient. I’ll also note that Sonja also comes with a bronze band for her left upper arm. You can have a look at it on the package shot, but I’ve opted to forgo that piece in favor of a more minimalist presentation.

The sword belt hangs loose around Sonja’s hips and holds a sculpted plastic scabbard for her sword, which is most comfortable when slung just behind her right hip and sweeping across the back of her legs. I think the body they chose is a pretty good one. It’s appropriately tanned, rather fit, and not as ridiculously endowed in the chest as some of their more prolific body types. As always, that seamless skin covers a stainless steel skeleton, which is capable of some very cool articulation. They still don’t have the look of bent elbows quite right, but everything is really uncanny, especially the knees and abs. As the name suggests, this “Scars of the She-Devil” version of Sonja features various battle wounds, which was something I wasn’t so sure I was going to like, but turned out looking pretty damn good. Not only do they look realistic, but I think the design team applied just the right amount of them without going overboard. I also dig how they’re all positioned on her front, because Red Sonja always faces danger head on!

Speaking of heads, Sonja’s got a right pretty one. I think the original release had a decent portrait, but I like this one a lot too. As to which is better? It probably just comes down to a matter of taste. Either way, the paintwork on the eyes and lips is quite good, as are the eyebrows and eyelashes. Phicen isn’t near Hot Toys quality on their faces, but then again these aren’t real likenesses, so they probably aren’t trying to be. As a result, there’s a little more doll than action figure in these heads, but I’m OK with that. The hair color has actually been toned down a bit, some may argue it’s still too bright, but it’s definitely not as electric as the first release. Again, I dig it just fine. It comes with some product in it to keep it from going all crazy, and I found that it isn’t too hard to keep under control. One nitpick I will grant is that her rather serene expression doesn’t lend well to action poses, but I don’t think we’ll see a point where they start including alternate heads, because quite frankly these boxes are stuffed with enough goodies as it is. Besides, I tend to display my Sixth-Scale figures more in the museum-style, so this expression will do nicely. Let’s move on to the accessories!

First up is, Sonja’s sword, which fits fairly snugly into the scabbard on her belt. The sword features a sculpted handle that looks pretty close to what I remember seeing her carry in the comics. The grip is painted brown, while the pommel and crossguard have a bronze finish. It also features a diecast metal blade, which was a damn nice surprise. In the past Phicen accessories haven’t always felt terribly high end, so it’s nice to see they’re working on improving. The blade has some blood spray caked onto the blade, and despite having a nice heft to it, her grip can support its weight securely.

Next, she comes with a sculpted plastic shield, which features a brown surface that’s all nicked and scarred up. There’s a silver band running around the edge, silver ovals studding the middle circlet, and at the center it has a silver disc with a single spike protruding from it. On the flipside, there’s an elastic strap to go over the inside of her elbow and a grab bar, which works really well even with the relaxed hand.

The last piece in her arsenal is her massive battle axe. This thing has a wicked looking blade with silver edges to make them look sharpened. There’s some gore smeared on the blade as well, which looks a little over-the-top, but damn I love it. The grip is sculpted to look like it’s wrapped with brown leather strips and there’s some red cord tied around the bottom of the shaft. Unlike the sword, the axe is all plastic, and that’s probably a good thing, because it would be extremely heavy if the blade were metal. As great as they are, a couple of weapons and a shield isn’t exactly a crazy amount of accessories for a so-called Deluxe figure, but then I’ve yet to bring out the centerpiece of the set… Behold, the base!

Yes, the Deluxe version of Red Sonja comes with this stepped rock base with a dragon’s head and right claw rising up out of it. This thing is outrageous. I literally could not believe it when I took it out of the styrofoam. It’s crazy heavy and the sculpting and paintwork are absolutely superb. It requires a little bit of assembly, the dragon neck plugs into one slot and the claw into another. I can’t get over all the detail in the dragon’s mouth and the intricate scales.

The rocks have a number of foot pegs offering several options for posing Sonja on it. Yup, foot pegs. Phicen includes peg holes on most of the costumed figures’ feet just like a 3 3/4-inch or 6-inch action figure. The pegs hold fairly well and I’ve yet to have Sonja take a shelf dive, so whether you want to just stand her on it, or actually have her battling the dragon, there are some pretty cool display options here. I think the base only added like $25 to the Deluxe Edition’s price, which seems like a steal to me. It elevates what was already a really great figure to an epic showpiece.

Thinking back, I remember how broken-hearted I was when Red Sonja’s first release sold out before I could put in my order. Phicen’s figures are like that. Some sell out in pre-orders, other linger around for a while, but either way once they sell out, the prices on the secondary market skyrocket. Now, I realize that things sometimes happen for a reason, and I’m glad I missed out on that release, because I love everything about this version more. The armor is cooler, the axe and shield are better, and I even turned out liking the battle damage. But it was the addition of the dragon base that really goes above and beyond. The retail on this Deluxe Edition was $180, which puts her about middle of the road for high end Sixth Scale figures, but when taking in the complete package, I feel a great sense of value with this release, and that’s not something I can say about a lot of my Sixth Scale purchases these days.