I’m bumping DC Friday this week to give some loving to my favorite comic book publisher that isn’t Marvel or DC… Zenescope! It’s easy to get spoiled with the never ending flood of comic based toys and collectibles pouring from the big boys, but it can be slim pickings when I want a nice piece of merch from Zenescope’s books. That’s changed a bit over the last year or so when Zenescope teamed up with Executive Replicas and Phicen Ltd to do high quality collector grade sixth-scale figures of some of their lovely ladies from Grimm Fairy Tales. If you’re not familiar with the comic, I’ll direct you back to my brief look at the GFT Omnibus way back when I used to do my Sunday Funday posts.
As for Phicen… well, you all know Phicen Ltd, right? They make those curvaceous highly pose-able action figures with realistic skin that basically look like sixth-scale sex dolls! Most of Phicen’s releases consist of generic sexy female figure bodies ripe for customization, but they do also produce some original concept fantasy and sci-fi figures. That’s all well and good, but it was their partnership with Zenescope that made me take the plunge and finally buy some of their figures. And if you’re at all familiar with the often over-sexed art of Zenescope’s titles, then I think you’ll agree that this is a match made in heaven.
The first one I pulled the trigger on was Mercy Dante, a really cool and undoubtedly bad-ass character, who was first introduced as another victim-of-the-month in the pages of Grimm Fairy Tales. When she was young, an assassin murdered her parents in front of her and she was forced to raise her orphaned sister, Grace. Unfortunately, Grace wasn’t able to cope with her lot in life and she committed suicide, leaving a bitter Mercy devoting her life to revenge. She ultimately tracked down the assassin, kidnapped him and his young daughter, and then shot the daughter in the head right in front of her. It’s a sobering and hardcore page that stands out even in Zenescope’s delectable sea of T&A fanservice. Sela Mathers, who we’ll over-simplify by calling her the good witch of GFTs, gave Mercy a second chance to change what she had done and Mercy took it by shooting herself in the head instead of executing the little girl! But that wasn’t the end of Mercy’s story, because even in death she got her own excellent mind-bending spin-off in the pages of Grimm Fairy Tales: Inferno. So, enough with the backstory, let’s get to the figure!
Mercy comes in a cardboard mailer box very similar to what Hot Toys uses. It’s got her name printed on the front along with some other details, but otherwise its just a utilitarian carton to keep the package inside safe. As this is my first Phicen figure, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the packaging, but what I got feels really premium…
It’s sort of like a shoebox, only instead of a regular lid, it has a wrap around front, which is secured to the sides with magnets. The back panel features the same comic art that graced the Collected TPB edition of GFT: Inferno. All in all presentation here is much better than what I was expecting and it easily rivals if not outshines some of the glorified window boxes that Hot Toys has been doing these days. Inside the box, Mercy comes nestled in a foam tray, with her head off to the side and her accessories flanking her. Under her, there’s another foam tray with her trench coat and the parts for her stand. Naturally, everything is collector friendly and popping the head onto the figure is super easy.
With her noggin popped on, Mercy is looking mighty fine. Phicen has been producing their seamless female bodies for years now, all the while tweaking them and making improvements, and Mercy here represents the most recent evolution. You get a fully articulated stainless steel skeleton wrapped in a silicone skin, which both looks and feels eerily realistic. The only visible jointing on this figure is in the wrists and neck and even there it just consists of a seam line. And yes, the lack of visible jointing would hold true even if you stripped her down to her booted feet. In the past, we’ve seen something close from Hot Toys, for example their Ada Wong from Resident Evil 5, but even that figure has exposed jointing in the shoulders and a lot more hiding under her clothes.
Mercy comes out of the box wearing her skimpy red sports bra, tight leather pants, and high-heeled black boots, all of which fit the figure beautifully. This is a good look for her, because it really showcases the seamless body, at least from the waist up. Granted, there isn’t a whole lot of sophistication and detail in the outfit, but the stitching is neat, and the only hiccup on the whole ensemble is the flap above her butt where the waist is secured. You can see a little empty space inside the boots where her legs connect to the boot feet, but it still looks fine. The pants are also very pliable and don’t offer any resistance when posing the figure.
Speaking of posing, Mercy is designed to mimic the flexibility of the human body almost perfectly, making her tons of fun to play with. She’s also a remarkably well balanced figure, which can stand on her own pretty well, even in those high heels. I only had to bring out the stand for some of the action shots. And while the movement of the joints in this figure is smooth as silk, you can see that they can hold their position quite well, even when the figure is standing on one foot. I’m not going to run down the points of articulation here, because it’s impossible to see exactly what’s going on in there by just handling the figure. However, if you want to get a better idea of what’s under the hood, so to speak, check out this great review of Phicen’s 5.1 body and scroll down a bit to see the skeleton in all its glory.
Seeing as how the Phicen body is the Cadillac of Sixth-Scale female action figures, the only thing about this figure that gave me pause was how good the likeness turned out. But I needn’t have worried. Granted, we’re talking comic book likeness here, but I’m totally pleased with the resemblance to the artwork. The paint for the eyes and lips is particularly nice, and the skin tone on the head matches the body quite well. She comes close to catching that lifelike look I’m used to seeing in Hot Toys’ efforts, and I think this is one of the best face sculpts that Phicen has put out to date. The hair is rooted, which was a bold move, considering Mercy’s trademark pixie cut. Phicen went with using a lot of product in the hair so it stays fairly flat. Keep in mind, I haven’t messed with the hair at all, so there’s some room for improvement. This is simply how she looks right out of the box.
Mercy includes three sets of hands. You get a pair of gun holding hands, relaxed hands, and knife holding hands. All of these are super easy to swap, thanks to the exposed nubs from the steel skeleton underneath. Unlike Hot Toys and Sideshow, you don’t ever have to worry about snapping the wrist posts, or having them come off in the hand, forcing you to dig them out.
Her guns can be worn on the included shoulder rig. The rig is very easy to get on, but the holsters themselves were backwards, so I had to unbuckle the rig, slide the holsters out and put them back on the right way. This seems to be an error on more than a few of these figures, but not a critical one. It just causes a little bit of work to fix it. The rig fits the figure pretty well, although technically, the guns on a dual rig like this should hang horizontal for easy access.
As for the guns themselves, Mercy’s twin automatic pistols feature some pretty detailed sculpts and have matte gray finishes. The slide action works and you can remove the magazines to reveal a tiny painted round at the top. This is pretty standard stuff for weaponry in this scale, and while these are fine on their own, they come off as a little bit lacking when compared to what else is out there. The slides are rather loose and have a tendency to slide when handing them. I’ve even had the slides stay in the holsters on occasion when I pulled the guns out. These are perfectly serviceable accessories, they’re just nowhere near the quality of the firearms that Hot Toys and Sideshow are producing with their figures. They’ll be easy to upgrade, as there is no shortage of sixth-scale weapons out there, but I’m not sure I’m bothered enough by them to spend the extra money.
The gun holding hands work OK, but because the fingers are soft and rubbery, the grip on the pistols isn’t as tight as it could be. It hasn’t posed any problems with her holding them, but I tend to like the firmer and more solid grips that the Hot Toys and Sideshow figures have on their accessories.
Mercy also comes with a combat knife and sheath. The knife-holding hands work really well, as it’s a very tightly molded grip. On the downside, I really don’t know where the sheath is supposed to go, but you can always just thrust the knife into her boot as a back-up plan. And that brings us to the last accessory in the box…
The trench coat! Even though it’s an integral piece of her wardrobe, I saved it for last, as it seems a shame to cover up that beautiful body. Nonetheless, this is probably how I’ll be displaying her most of the time. The material matches her “leather” pants perfectly and it really rounds out her signature look. It also keeps the splattered blood and brains off of her while she’s capping demons throughout the Nine Rings of Hell.
Getting the coat on can be a little challenging, since the realistic skin on the arms tends to grab at the material. The easy solution is applying a little bit of baby powder to her skin, STOP LAUGHING AT ME, so the sleeves just slide right on. Some third-party outfits sets have a habit of staining the silicone skin on Phicen figures, especially when dealing with black or darker colors. For the most part, the outfits Phicen includes don’t usually present a problem. Here’s hoping that will be the case with the jacket. Either way, the trench coat is professionally tailored and fits the figure very well, even with the shoulder rig on, which remains nicely concealed inside the coat. There’s even a wire at the bottom so you can pose it all billowed out.
The provided stand is both a strange and interesting piece. It’s a simple black base with four chunky pegs, which are designed to either take the provided post or plug right into the holes on the bottom of Mercy’s boots. Weird, right? Foot pegs are not something I tend to associate with sixth-scale figures. The biggest issue I have with the stand is the post. You get two attachments for the post, one is a standard crotch cradle and the other is a wire, which hugs the waist like a typical Kaiser doll stand. There’s no way I’d use the waist grip on the skin, as its almost guaranteed to mark it. The crotch cradle would be acceptable, but the post is really tall, so even though you can adjust the attachments to go as low as you need, the post is always going to be sticking up really high and doesn’t really work well with Mercy’s trench coat. Oddly enough, the foot pegs are clearly the way to go here.
Mercy originally retailed for $145, which is a mighty reasonable price for a sixth-scale figure these days, not to mention for the quality that you’re getting here. In a sense, I don’t deserve to have this figure, at least not for the regular retail price I got her for, because I blew the pre-order on her… both times! The initial pre-orders at all the usual places sold out very quickly, but when Phicen did another run, I must have missed the memo. By the time I found out the second run was up for pre-order at BBTS, it sold out again. In the end, I was lucky enough to pick her up from what seemed to be the only US-based Ebay seller that wasn’t price gouging her over the $200 mark. Needless to say I’m happy to have her in my collection. The Phicen body is quite a wonder of action figure craftsmanship, and it’s great to be getting high quality figures based off of Zenescope characters. There’s been some speculation as to whether this partnership is still going strong and it’d be a shame if they stopped producing these before releasing Sela and Belinda. In the meantime, I’ll circle back to Phicen in a couple of weeks to take a look at their Zenescope Robyn Hood figure.