Vampire Slayer (Red Version) Sixth-Scale Figure by Phicen/TBLeague

As I mentioned last week, I am really far behind on my TBLeague figure reviews, and I’m going to try to work them into the regular rotation every couple of weeks so I can get through the backlog. Today, I’m checking out a fairly recent release, The Vampire Slayer! This vamp-vexing femme fatale is another one of TBL’s original concept figure, so there’s no licensed property here to be familiar with. And I’ll say right out of the gate, I think they made some strange choices when putting this figure together. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves… to the packaged shot!

The artwork on the front panel here is absolutely killer. It would probably be enough to make me buy this figure even without seeing what’s inside. And I kind of wish I could stand behind that excuse. As usual, the figure comes in a high quality shoebox-type package with a tri-fold top that secures on the sides via magnets. Inside, the head comes detatched and wrapped in plastic, with everything nestled in in a cozy foam bed, and the whole shebang smells like tea when you open it! It always makes me want to mix up some Lipton’s iced tea! Included in the outer mailer box, but separate from the actual figure box, is a styrofoam brick that houses a diorama-style figure stand. Let’s get her all set up and check her out!

OK, I am so conflicted on this figure that I don’t even know where to begin. She looks cool enough, but nothing about her invokes the idea of being a Vampire Slayer. Unlike the Saintess Knight that we looked at last time, this figure makes good use of a costume designed to show off some of that seamless body. She dons a plastic one-piece black cuirass with some lovely gold trim, a jewel betwixt her ample bosoms, and a skull warning you off of her groinular region. She has a pair of fishnet stockings, with plastic bands about thigh high, and these have some very cool skull motifs facing outward, where they also secure her red leather, high heel boots. Capping this all off is a red leather duster, which is actually in two pieces. There’s a half-jacket, which ends just below her chest, and the rest hooks on to cascade down the back of her legs to the ground. The jacket has a gold design on the back, and a very high collar with some more gold decorations. In theory, I like everything here well enough, but the figure is susceptible to a lot of wardrobe malfunctions.

For starters, the bottom half of the jacket is attached by placing two metal hooks through two very tiny stitches on the back of the jacket. It’s pretty easy to get it attached, but it does not want to stay put. Posing the figure, or just handling her, will usually cause the hooks to come out. You could display her without it for a bit of a cheeky look, but to keep it on her, I’m going to have to try crimping the hooks with a pair of pliers. There are other little issues with the costume as well, like the way the thigh rings tend to slip down past the tops of the stockings. And if you put her in any action poses, the boot tops don’t like to cooperate with leg bends, and wind up looking all messed up. Finally, the plastic fixtures on the front of her boots do not sit flush with her lower legs, but rather stick out a bit.

The head sculpt is nice. Sure, it’s the usual blank expression that we get with these figures, but the paint is absolutely fantastic. The eyes have a little spark of life to them and the lips are painted impeccably. She’s got short blonde hair, which can be a little difficult to keep under control, so I may wind up taking a spritz of hair spray to her. The plastic collar does tend to ride up a lot, and doesn’t sit flush on her skin. Also, that jacket’s high collar must really wreak havoc on her peripheral vision. If vamps come up from the side, she’s probably going to be surprised!

The Vamp Slayer comes with only two accessories, and neither seem like they would be very useful for actually slaying vamps. The first is this little curved dagger that comes in a plastic sheath. It’s a fantastic little accessory, but there’s nowhere I can find to attach the sheath, so she can’t really wear it, unless you rig something up like a belt.

Her main weapon is like a medieval morning star, with the spikes running all the way down to the handle. Like the dagger, I think this weapon looks great, but it doesn’t seem like something a Vampire Slayer should be carrying around. Where are the stakes? The holy water? A crossbow? Even a sword with a crucifix as a hilt? I haven’t seen either of these weapons packed in with previous TBL releases, but it sure feels like something they had lying around and decided to toss into the box when designing this figure.

While the accessories are a bit light, TBL did not skimp on the base. It’s a large rock formation overhanging a lake or river, all presented on a pedestal with a golden decorative ring around it. One of my frequent gripes about TBL’s diorama bases is that they often have no way of securing the figure to them, but they’ve been rectifying that lately by including a bendable post that screws into the base and grabs the figure around the waist. But once again, nothing about this base invokes the whole Vampire Slayer vibe, and I’m tempted to give it to one of my TBL figures that didn’t come with one. Still, it is very nice!

It’s hard to know exactly why I pre-ordered this figure. It’s nice and all, but everything about the design feels half-baked. It’s like they designed her, didn’t know what to call her, so just went with Vampire Slayer, tossed in some unrelated weapons, and kicked her out the door. My guess is that she went up for pre-order at a time when I was flush with cash, and more than a little inebriated, because it’s rare for me to buy a higher end figure that I’m not absolutely in love with. And it’s safe to say I was never in love with this one. I may consider selling her off, but more likely, she’ll go back in the box to be reassessed later, while her base and weapons get parted off to one of my other figures. This figure was also released in a white version, which gave her a white cuirass, black coat and boots, and a brunette head sculpt. Overall, I dig this one more, but that’s still not saying all that much.

Saintess Knight (Silver Version) Sixth-Scale Figure by Phicen/TBLeague

My backlog of TBLeague’s figures is pretty big right now. It’s so big, that I’m cutting myself off of buying any more until I can get caught up. There’s another reason for me to slow down with these too, but I’ll come back to that at the end, when we talk price. The last time I checked out one of TBLeague’s seamless sixth-scale figures was back in December of last year with the Knight of Fire, so I’m long overdue!

Saintess Knight is another one of TBLeague’s original concept figures, and they seem to be doing fewer and fewer licensed releases. And that makes sense, because they’re quite good at designing some compelling characters, and it also saves them having to pay out licensing fees for someone else’s intellectual property. As was the case with the Knight of Fire, The Saintess Knight is available in three different versions: Silver, Black, or Gold. Once again, I went with the silver one, which may or may not have been a good idea. I don’t have anything new to say about the packaging. She comes in a very durable box with a tri-fold top that secures to the sides with magnets. There’s some artwork on the front, and a shot of the figure on the back, and as always the interior of the box smells like tea. No, really. It smells like tea!

You never really know how involved the setup with these figures is going to be. Sometimes it’s a frustrating and time-consuming affair, but here it wasn’t so bad. She comes out of the box headless, with the body wearing her white, long-sleeved arming doublet, white trousers, a leather-like outer skirt, and a faux chain-mail inner skirt, and finally her cuirass and armored boot-feet. That leaves her shoulders, leg armor pieces, and forearm armor to put on. In the past, TBLeague has relied on elastic straps with TINY clasps to secure the shoulders, but here they used sculpted plastic for the straps on all the armor pieces, and boy was that a great improvement. Not only is it easier to get these pieces on, but I’m not worried about snapping or stretching the elastic in the process. Hopefully, they will never EVER go back to the elastic straps.

If you are familiar with TBLeague’s figures, one of the things you may notice first about the Saintess Knight is that she shows virtually no skin. And yes, these figures usually show a lot of skin, so you can appreciate and marvel at the seamless body. This may turn some people off, because truth be told, this figure could have been executed with a regular jointed body, and you wouldn’t know the difference. It does, however, still benefit from the uncanny articulation provided by the stainless steel skeleton underneath. Either way, the figure does look very good. The armor pieces are cast in a soft, pliable plastic, but the paint is pretty convincing as forged steel. Indeed, the paint on these pieces is quite exceptional, and even the fabric “chainmail” looks quite good. I do, however, have a couple of nitpicks. Firstly, the strings that secure the front and back pieces of the cuirass is a little messy. It can be knotted and the excess cut off, but I haven’t made that decision yet. Secondly, the white arming doublet tends to pick up some soiling from the armor pieces. It’s not a devastating flaw to me, but had I known that I probably would have chosen the Gold or Black Versions, as they have darker undersuits.

The helmet is quite a thing of beauty, and is based off of what I believe to be a 15th Century Armet. It’s silver with reinforced golden bands, which matches the beautiful raised scrollwork you can see on the cuirass and shoulders. There are narrow slits for the eyes, and some additional vertical slits to provide ventilation. What I really dig about this helmet is the way it opens up.

Not only does the visor lift up, but the lower guard hinges open as well, both of which is necessary to place it onto the figure’s head. Underneath, you get a pretty standard, but beautiful, head sculpt with a very neutral expression. The paintwork for the eyes and lips is both precise and clean, and looks absolutely fantastic. The only sticking point here is getting as much of the hair into the helmet as possible. She has a fairly short blonde coif, but I think they could have made it even a bit shorter to help keep it under control while the helmet goes over it. Like the armor, the helmet is cast in pliable plastic, which makes it a bit easier to get onto the head without fear of breaking it. Let’s check out some accessories!

First off, she comes with a gorgeous single-handed sword and scabbard. And they even addressed one of my previous nitpicks on another figure, by giving her a belt loop to secure the scabbard to her. Yes, that seemed like a pretty big oversight on some previous figures, but it goes to show that TBLeague is always looking for improvements. The white loop fits snugly around the scabbard near the throat and holds it in place perfectly. She also comes with hands designed to hold the sword, in addition to her fists and relaxed hands. I’m also happy to report that swapping the hands on this figure was easy, which is not always the case.

The sword is made entirely of plastic, which is fine. I think the days of getting die-cast blades out of TBLeague are gone. Nonetheless, this is a beautiful piece, with raised decorations on the blade, a gold crossguard, and a gold scent-stopper pommel. The turned grip is silver, and while I called it a single-handed sword earlier, I suppose this could count as a hand-and-a-half, adding a little more versatility to its handling.

Next up, you get a round shield, done up in the same silver and gold deco as the armor. This is a pretty simple concave disk with an elastic strap and a grab bar on the inside. The outer surface is etched with a woodgrain pattern, a reinforced gold decoration, and a rather large boss in the center. All in all it’s a nice piece, and worth noting that the shield design changes depending on which version of the figure you bought.

Finally, the Saintess Knight comes with a gigantic Great Sword., which is just a hair shorter than the figure itself. It’s a pretty generic style sword with a wide crossguard and a ridiculously long grip. It’s hard to imagine her wielding this with any success in battle, but it’s a cool looking piece nonetheless, and it makes for a nice bonus accessory.

As a figure that doesn’t show a lot of skin, the Saintess Knight may not be every Phicen fan’s cup of tea. As I mentioned earlier, there’s nothing here that couldn’t have been done with a regular jointed figure. With that having been said, I think she turned out great, and I really dig the armored female warriors that TBLeague has been putting out. The only real sticking point with me here is the price. One of the appealing thing about TBL’s releases has been the value, as most of the figures have been releasing around the $159 price point. Saintess Knight, however jumped to $209, and that seems like a big jump, considering she doesn’t even come with a base or figure stand. Indeed, I’m racking my brain as to what made me pre-order this figure at that price point. It’s quite possible booze was involved, and I could have certainly done worse, but if this is a sign of things to come, I’m going to be a lot more selective about which TBLeague figures I pick up.

Doctor Who: The War Doctor Sixth-Scale Figure by Big Chief Studios

The 13th Doctor Era has been no better than The Wilderness Years for me, but I’m watching with hope and heavy heart to see what happens with Russell T. Davies’ return. In the meantime, I watched a lot of Doctor Who over the Holidays and I’m hankering to do some Doctor Who toy reviews. There’s a lot of Character Options stuff piling up around here, but wait… what’s this? A Big Chief figure I haven’t reviewed yet? Well, let’s do it!

The War Doctor! As cool as it would have been to see The Ninth Doctor on screen with his successors for the 50th Anniversary Special, The BBC made the best of Eccleston opting out by giving us a prevoiusly unknown incarnation played by the legendary John Hurt. And boy did he kill it! I absolutely adore every damn frame of Day of the Doctor. I was lucky enough to go see it with some friends at the theater the first time, and I can’t even count how many times I’ve watched it since. It’s a masterpiece and John Hurt as The War Doctor just elevates it even higher!

Big Chief always does a nice job on the packaging. It’s a window box with a front flap and two trays that slide out from the top or bottom. The top tray contains the figure and accessories, and the bottom has the stand and a few more accessories. You get some shots of Hurt as The War Doctor on the sides and a picture of the figure and some copy on the back. And I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see Doctor Who merch without the ugly new logo stamped on it.

The War Doctor comes out of the package wearing the outfit that he began piecing together on the planet Karn just before regenerating, and it’s amazing how iconic it is despite only being shown in the one story. It’s a little bit cowboy and a little bit Indiana Jones, and the state of it makes it clear he’s been knocking around The Time War for a long time. The weathered black jacket is expertly tailored with neat stitching and even has an interior lining and interior pockets! Under that he has a felt vest with double buttons down the front, plus a chain for his fob watch disappearing into the vest pockets. He’s got a pair of old brown trousers, a web-gear type belt, spats that run up to his knees, and are buttoned down the sides, and finally a scarf wrapped snuggly around his neck and the bandolier strap he took off of Cass in Night of the Doctor. Overall, I think Big Chief has come a long way in their tailored outfits, and this one shows it. The costume fits the figure very well (yup, the fit of the sleeves is intentional!) and looks great!

Portraits have been hit and miss for Big Chief, which explains why I am selective about which of their Doctors that I buy. Did I want to pass on The 4th Doctor and the 10th Doctor? Of course not, but I just wasn’t happy enough with the likenesses to bring the big bucks. They started out strong with the Matt Smith likeness, hit some bumps along the way, but bounced back strong with their Peter Capaldi and Jon Pertwee sculpts. This one definitely fits into the win category. They did a fine job capturing all the character lines in John Hurts face and the bags under his eyes. The facial hair looks good, as does his duck-tail coif, although both are a few notches below being totally realistic. The only place this portrait really stumbles is in the paint. The skin lacks that uncanny skin tone finish that the wizards at Hot Toys and Sideshow have perfected. The skin here is a tad too waxy under studio lights, but looks fine under normal conditions. Still, all in all, I think this one ranks up there among their best likenesses.

As usual, Big Chief’s bodies offer all the articulation I could ask for in a sixth-scale figure, and none of their costumes do much to inhibit that articulation. As a result, these tend to be a lot more fun to play around with than your average Hot Toys figure, which tend to have restrictive costumes. However, one thing that Big Chief still needs to work on is the strength of the joints. The War Doctor can stand on his own just fine and hold most poses with no issues, but the joints still feel a tad too loose for my liking. Let’s move on to accessories!

Naturally, The War Doctor comes with his Sonic Screwdriver, as well as left and right hands designed to hold it. It’s not one of the more interesting designs for the trusty tool, but Big Chief has captured it quite well. It fits snuggly in any one of the loops on his bandolier strap.

Next, you get The Moment, which features an absolutely stunning sculpt with some cool complexity in the layers of gears on some sides. I’m on the fence over whether it’s undersized or not. It looks about right when he’s carrying it, but when it’s on the ground, it looks a bit small. At one point in the episode Billie Piper was sitting on it, and this seems too small for that. I would have liked it if they included the burlap sack that he carried it in, as that was a pretty iconic piece of promo art for the story. A missed opportunity for an Exclusive here would have been with The Moment deploying the very rose-like big red button.

The final accessory is the Gallifreyan Staser Rifle that The War Doctor used to blast “NO MORE” into the wall. I happen to have a soft spot for pretty much all Gallifreyan tech, but I think I love the staser designs the most. I remember as a kid trying to get my hands on a piece of acrylic so that I could make the staser pistol that appeared in The Arc of Infinity, but that never happened. The Gallifreyan weapon designs in NuWho are pretty convincing as a logical progression from what we’ve seen in the past. I especially love the design on this rifle, and Big Chief did an excellent job creating this sixth-scale version. The Doctor comes with a set of special hands so that he can hold both grips.

And our final stop is the figure stand. Big Chief has been using this hexagonal mirror base with some lights in it for many of their Doctors, and I don’t really care for them. They aren’t personalized, the post doesn’t always fit the base all that well, the lighting effect is underwhelming, and the base is a tad too small. It also adds a bit too much height to the figure, which has created problems with fitting the figures in my shelving. I give them credit for trying something that does indeed feel premium, but I always wind up displaying these figures on generic stands.

The War Doctor sold out pretty quickly at all my usual online haunts, but I was lucky to grab him upon release. I recall paying around $250, and that’s the average price for a Hot Toys figure these days, so I’m tempted to say it’s about $50-25 too high for what Big Chief is offering. I’m tempted to say that, but I won’t. The truth is that Big Chief is a small company by comparison and these figures are issued in very limited quantities, with The War Doctor at only 1,000 pieces. Factor in the cost of paying for the license and likeness rights and it’s easy to see where the money goes. A few more accessories would have helped buoy the sense of value here, but in the end I love the figure, so I’m not complaining! And that catches me up on all my Big Chief Doctor Who reviews, although The Master is lurking around the corner and I can’t wait to get him!