Hero HACKS: Zorro by Boss Fight Studios

Oh man, Zorro has been around for a long time! Born in the pulp stories of the early 20th Century, his legend has lived on in film and television ever since. I don’t know how he rates nowadays, but Zorro was still a big deal when I was a kid. Granted, I was only two years old when Frank Langella donned the cape in The Mask of Zorro, but I remember years later my dad making popcorn and my brother and I watching it with him and having a great time. I also remember my brother having a really cool 12-inch action figure of Zorro, that he got while we were living in France. I used to beg him to play with it all the time, but he was having none of it. The best I got was to fight his Zorro with my 12-inch Kenner Indiana Jones figure. Whip vs Whip! Maybe it wasn’t so fair because Indy did have the gun. Anywho… Zorro had a bigger budget theatrical outing in 1998, and while I wasn’t a huge fan of that version of The Mask of Zorro, it was still good fun. On the other hand, I absolutely loved the swashbuckling cheese-fest that was the 1990 TV Series and it remains a guilty pleasure to this day! Needless to say, I was beside myself with glee when Boss Fight Studios announced that Zorro would be joining their new Hero HACKS line of 4-inch figures. The initial offerings include a single carded figure and a boxed set featuring Zorro and his horse, Tornado. Today I’m opening the single figure!

Zorro comes packaged in the same style as BFS’s Vitruvian HACKS, and that’s a very good thing indeed. The package offers the best of both worlds, with a colorful card and a collector friendly blister, so you can take him out and play with him and return him to the package for an awesome display piece. The landscape orientation of the cardback is quite distinctive and I love the artwork on the front. To the left of the character art, there’s a sizable bubble that shows off the figure and his extra goodies. As a side note, one of those extra goodies is a branded Hero HACKS figure stand, and as was the case with Flash Gordon, the pegs don’t fit the feet very well, so I had to make due with a generic stand for this review. Let’s check him out!

Presented in 4-inches of poseable plastic, Zorro looks as iconic as ever. The body features an all black outfit with sculpted rumples and wrinkles, high boots, and swashbuckling gauntlets. There’s a sculpted sash tied around his waist, and they did a particularly nice job sculpting and painting the laces at the collar of his tunic. The plastic cape fits around the figure’s neck and also has a peg that secures it into a hole in the back, along with two silver buttons on each side of the neck to offer a splash of color. Finally, there’s a loop hanging off his waist so that he can wear his sword, but more on that in a bit. For a figure that does not feature a lot of color or even a lot of overt detail, Zorro looks absolutely amazing.

You get two head sculpts with the figure, one masked with an all-business expression, and one unmasked with a beaming smile. The broad brimmed hat is sculpted separately from the head and fits securely on either one. Both portraits are excellent with some nice detail in the mustache. I didn’t see a lot of value in the multiple heads included with the Hero HACKS Flash Gordon, but here I think the decision to include two was a fantastic one.

The articulation right in line with previous HACKS figures, which means a whole lot of hinged pegs holding the figure together. There’s a lot of fun to be had here, with some great range of motion in the legs and the shoulders. The elbows, on the other hand, only give about a 90-degree angle and that’s it, and I would have liked some swivels in the upper legs, but still overall not bad at all. The cape isn’t too restrictive, but it can be easily removed if Zorro needs to fight unencumbered. He also comes with two sets of hands, one pair for holding accessories, and one pair of open hands, which can be rather expressive.

Zorro comes with his two trademark weapons: A sword and bullwhip. The rapier is an absolutely beautiful accessory. Yes, the hilt is a tad oversized, but it’s easily forgiven considering the complexity of the guard. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sword of this type attempted in such a small scale and I have to say that BFS nailed it. The sword looks great both carried on Zorro’s hip or being wielded in either hand. In addition to the sexy curves of the hilt, the blade is stout enough to not be too bendy, and the silver paint on the guard and blade contrasts nicely with the black grips. One word of caution is the crossguard can bend a bit when worn against the cape, something I didn’t notice at first. Fortunately, I was able to straighten it out without any problems, but I’m not sure how many times that will work before it crimps and falls off. But, now that I know to be careful with it, it shouldn’t be a problem!

The bullwhip is fashioned from soft rubbery plastic, which will hold it’s intended form, but is also totally flexible. It features a detailed, braided sculpt with a loop at the grip and a frayed tip. It’s soft enough that it can be coiled, but it won’t stay like that on its own and Zorro can’t really hold it when it’s coiled up. For that reason, I would have loved to get a second version of the whip that was coiled and perhaps could peg onto his belt.

Hey, ya know what? I freaking LOVE this figure! I think it’s fab that Boss Fight took the opportunity of Zorro’s anniversary to get us some figures and boy did they deliver. The only downside here is there’s no one for him to fight. And quite frankly I doubt it’s in BFS’s plans to get us some Spanish soldiers. But that’s OK, as a stand alone figure he’s absolutely amazing. And playing around with this guy has just whetted my appetite for the boxed figure and horse. Chances are I’ll be opening that one for a review in the very near future!

Hero HACKS: Flash Gordon by Boss Fight Studios

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.